Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Excitement Factor
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden officially entered the race Thursday, with a video on the internet. There was an interview on ABC's "The View" the next day. A big, old time, crowd inducing rally waited until yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
I'm sure there was a method to the approach, and I'm also sure Mr. Biden has some big time political handlers calling the shots. I just question why it took four days to get the candidate before a crowd to generate some excitement. There is a strategy in there somewhere. I'd love to know what it is.
Our newspaper friends did a very nice story yesterday on the voting habits of some people running for office. Some are great at always going to the polls Some are awful. It cuts across both parties. I just don't understand it. Voting takes minutes. It's extremely important, and it makes me sad when anyone, candidate or not, takes the privilege lightly.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Even though I'm a frequent flyer, there is something I haven't figured out. How do items get there?
I can understand how the brands you've never heard of wind up on the shelves, but dollar stores have plenty of name brand products.
As always, Google is my friend. It seems a lot of the name brand things you see are over-stocks. It's easier for a company to sell at a loss to a dollar store than keep the stuff in a costly warehouse. I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons.
Whatever they're doing, keep it up. I love exploring the aisles for big bargains.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Classic Andy's Angles: Stadium People
The first is me. I was working at WARM at the time. We were not the official Red Barons station, but we acted like we were. Most of our afternoon and early evening programming came from the ballpark in Moosic. A few members of the news team put together plenty of material for our news broadcasts the next morning. It was a kick butt week.
The second photo is two old friends. That's Joe Thomas on the left. I'm not sure if he had joined WARM at the time, or if he was still at the old WCDL. Great guy-- a true professional and a lot of laughs. I always enjoyed his sports call in shows, and "Randy from Throop" has been silent since Joe moved on to other things.
The man in the white sweatshirt on the right is Jack Kearney. I didn't know Jack at the time this picture was taken. He was a director for the old, old, old WYOU, and we later worked together for about seven years. I always enjoyed working on Jack's broadcasts. There was great comfort in hearing Jack in your ear. He had your back, and he had the skill to make you better than you actually were. I was not alone.
Jack tried to get me away from abruptly moving from one camera to another when I was anchoring. Any time I make a nice, fluid move, even now, I think of Jack. Looking back on my early TV years, I learned so much from the photographers and the technical people. Those on the editorial side get so much of the credit. It's all those others who really hold a station together.
I was lucky to work with both Joe and Jack, and I miss them a great deal.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Classic Andy's Angles: Stadium + 30
Above are two photos I took on the evening of April 26, 1989. It was a great day and night professionally, an awful one personally, and we will likely talk about that at a later date.
I was there for the groundbreaking. I was there for the grand opening. I remember walking around just about every inch of that stadium 30 years ago, not believing out area could have something so nice. My media brethren felt the same way. We were stunned our area could have something so nice, so "big time."
You couldn't get anywhere near that place for years. Just about every night was a sell out. NEPA loved baseball. Eventually the rose lost its bloom. The stadium got old-- fast. It was a great design-- for the 70's. People stopped coming. the Phillies pulled up stakes and moved to Allentown. The Yankees and new management came in. There was a massive remodel, and that's where we are today.
I will fondly remember that opening night.
Here is a sad fact. In 30 years, I've seen exactly two games as a civilian spectator.
Friday, April 26, 2019
It was my average routine, minus trips to the office. I can't say it was a lot of fun, but it was productive. There were family medical appointments, trips to the bank, supermarket, warehouse club and big box store. I took my bike to the shop, got a haircut, took a few photos, and had a tire fixed. Alas, I didn't make it to Boscov's or KMart.
There was some sleep, but not enough. Let me apologize to a couple of friends. I had to decline offers to get together. You see, I keep the same work schedule-- sleep in the afternoon and up all night, even during vacations. By the time I adjusted to a normal schedule, it would be time to go back to work and get re-adjusted all over again. That bouncing around is tougher than you think and I envy the people who can do it.
Even though I said I wasn't going to do it, I grew a vacation beard. It's finally coming in nicely and much of the itch has gone away, and it's time to take it off. Maybe, some day, I'll show up, bearded, on-air. I'll save money on make up.
Next vacation week is at the end of July.
By the way, today is the 30th anniversary of the first Red Barons game at Lackawanna County Stadium. Look for classic editions of Andy's Angles, right here, this weekend. It was fun, and a little sad, looking back at old photos.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Let me get you up to speed, pardon the pun. I ride early in the morning, as long as it's warmer than 50 degrees. We haven't had those mornings so far this spring, at least where I live.
I took my bike to the shop for its yearly tune up the other morning. A trip to the bank didn't take as long as expected, so I arrived at the bike shop 15 minutes before opening time.
What to do?
Well, the simple and fun answer was to unload my bike from the back of my SUV and take a quick spin around south Scranton. In a blue oxford short and jeans, I really wasn't dressed for it, but it was still great fun. The bug bit, and I can't wait for my one or two weekly summertime rides.
The bike tech generally gave my seven year old bike high marks. It just needs a few tweaks and some light maintenance. I'll be back out on the roads before you know it.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
We're now in the podcasting business. As soon as I come up with a great idea, we'll work to make it happen.
I should add that podcasting is audio. It's not radio. There is a difference and I'll get in to that one one these days.
I listed to the glitch filled Tony Kornheiser podcast most days. JT the Brick and Tomm Looney, formerly of FOX Sports Radio do a nice little show on an irregular basis. I'll say it again. FSR dumping those two was one of the dumbest moves-- ever.
I've caught two of Joe Snedeker's episodes and I'll get in trouble for saying it, but Joe is a surprisingly strong interviewer and a very good listener.
I've added a new one to my podcasting list: The Carson Podcast. Mark Malkoff talks to former Carson guests and people who worked on the Tonight show. Even if you're not a Carson fan, it's some great behind the scenes stuff.
In my book, nothing beats live and local, but there is an increasing body of quality "on demand" stuff out there.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Turnout for these odd year elections is usually low, and I can't understand it. You're electing mayors, council members, supervisors, school board members... These are the people who control your services, your taxes, police departments, your trash collection, street paving, and your schools. The people we elect this year likely have more influence over your life than the people we send to Washington.
I've been looking over the choices from a few counties here in our area. Once again, I am deeply saddened by the number of uncontested races. We're also seeing plenty of the usual suspects.
One election can't solve all of our local problems, but it can be a start.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Season three of "Brockmire" on IFC has the show going in a different direction. It's not as outrageous as the first two seasons. Yet, watching Jim's journey in to sobriety is fascinating.
CBS is getting heat from the newspaper critics for overly focusing on Tiger Woods at the Masters. Hello! It was a great story! Love him or hate him, Tiger Woods beings eyeballs to the screen.
NBC calls it TopTracer Technology. It's the thing that puts a streak behind a golf ball in flight. All the big networks have something similar. I love it!
Last week's announcement of the NFL schedule was a big deal. It's more proof that football is America's game.
"Quick Pitch" is the morning highlight show on the MLB network. It tweaked its format a bit and remains the best highlight show on television. For the most part, you hear the actual play by play from the game announcers and it's fantastic.
Do you remember those optical illusion prints they used to sell in malls? Everyone sees something different. That was my impression last week after the Mueller Report was released. Every network had a different take.
Bill O'Reilly is starting a daily, 15 minute radio show at 11:30 am beginning April 29. Is he the new Paul Harvey?
I admire its ability to get hyped up, but I don't care about "Game of Thrones."
Over the weekend, I caught an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies," where Granny thought an ostrich wandering around her neighborhood was a giant chicken. My friends, comedy doesn't get any better than that.
Mr. C-SPAN, Brian Lamb, retires May 19.
Sunday, April 21, 2019
If you celebrate, I hope the day is all you want it to be.
Back to the issues of the world tomorrow.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Andy's Angles: Inside Baseball
My Monday morning assignment was to take a look at the tornado that hit Scranton. I've been doing this a long time, and will never cease to be amazed at the power of nature. Photographer Jason and I walked around the Hill Section of Scranton. Devastation everywhere. Nothing destroyed, but dozens of homes damaged and trees down. We talked to several people who shared their storm stories. Jason shot the video to match.
It was then time for what we in the business call the "stand up." At times like this, I think of my first television news director, the great Jim DePury. He drilled in to me there should always a reason for doing the stand up at a particular place. Don't just stand in front of a building reciting facts. I sent Jason up the block so he could shoot me from a distance I walked and talked about the debris that littered the neighborhood. It worked, and it tied the whole piece together.
Here's what put the story over the top. I asked for and was granted extra time by noon producer Teresa. My story went nearly two and a half minutes, an eternity in TV time. However, it's all relative. There were several different elements and some great video, including drone shots. It was a fast piece and didn't feel like two and a half minutes.
Editor Corey, who also piloted the drone, made sure it all worked nicely, and it was part of some outstanding team coverage at noon. My heart goes out to the storm victims. I hope the recovery is swift and smooth.
Friday, April 19, 2019
I always take the third week of April as my first vacation week. I had second thoughts when I realized it was Easter, and then I said to myself that I work most holidays. It would be nice to have one off.
No major plans. It's just my usual stuff-- without trips to the office.
The weekend morning broadcasts are in the exceptionally capable hands of Stacy Lange.
See you later.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
I've seen tons of storm damage over the years, including broken, toppled and uprooted trees. This was the Tuesday morning scene at Sherwood Park in Dunmore. The tree on the left had its top half snapped off by a fierce wind storm early Monday morning. Obviously, the tree on the left wound up on its side. The same goes for several others at the park.
I will always be amazed at how such large trees have such small root systems.
It's a nice park. There is no doubt new trees will be planted to take the place of the ones lost during the storm.
The National Weather Service determined a weak tornado swept through the Hill Section of Scranton and Dunmore, and I have to say I'm surprised. All the Sherwood Park trees fell in the same direction. There was none of that trademark tornado twisting. It looks like there might have been some in the Hill, but I'm no expert. From the NWS description, the tornado took more skips, jumps, and darts than Arlen Specter's Magic Bullet in 1963.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
My bike going in the shop for a tune up, and I should be riding soon. To get you up to speed, I ride very early in the morning, as long as it's warmer than 50 degrees. Those days are coming.
Here's what concerns me. I drive many of the same roads I bike and they're an absolute mess. If there aren't potholes, there are sloppy patch jobs. Even though I have a light on my bike, and the street lights provide decent illumination, I'm still afraid I'll hit a pothole and go flying over the handlebars.
I have noticed some filling and paving operations in recent days. It's a good thing. However, some of the roads I use need a little more than a patch and a fill. It looks like, at least early in the season, my rides will be filled with excessive caution.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
"Quiz Show" tells the story of the people involved with "Twenty One," a rigged television game show. It's based on a true story. Movies like "Apollo 13" and "Twenty One" face a challenge. They have to keep you interested and engaged, even though you know the ending before you enter the theater.
"Quiz Show" succeeds on all counts-- and then some. Charles Van Doren is the contestant who received the answers. The writers and director Robert Redford wind up making you feel sorry for Van Doren, even though he's a fraud and a cheat. Tony Kornheiser raved about "Quiz Show" on his podcast the other day. I am not alone. This is a great film. No car chases. No super heroes. Just a darn good story and one that is well told.
Charles Van Doren died last week. He was 93. I don't think Van Doren set out to do it, but he changed television and will always be remembered as a key figure in the evolution of the medium.
Monday, April 15, 2019
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Andy's Angles: Peanut
She's getting to be a big girl, and she loves the camera.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Andy's Angles: Another Farewell
As you can see above, the former Moosic Diner has been separated from the rest of the building. Published reports say it will be moved somewhere else, although the rumor miss says it's not going far.
Who didn't love a diner? I have some great memories from the Skyliner in Dupont. Thankfully, Terry's in Moosic is still around. The same goes for the Glider and Chick's in Scranton. Good food. Decent prices. Fast service.
I hope the new owner of the diner stays true to its roots. I hate to see these places disappear.
Friday, April 12, 2019
Amazon killed those record store visits. I ask my Echo to play what I want. Alexa never disappoints. I'm in love.
We are lucky in that our area still has some good record stores, and I hope they're around for years to come.
My first radio station, Marywood University's WVMW 91.7 is doing 31 hours of straight vinyl this weekend. It means real, live people behind a microphone all weekend! That's what radio is all about!
There are those who say vinyl sounds better. I'll take their word for it. I can't tell the difference. But then again, I can't tell the difference between butter and margarine.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
That's the Ticket!
Parking is free, but you have to take a ticket upon entering the garage. You get a second ticket when you're in the mall or one of its stores. Upon leaving, you put the first ticket in the machine, followed by the second. The gate goes up and you're out. If you are at the mall for less than thirty minutes, all you need to do is insert the first ticket. I always get the second as a precaution, even though I'm rarely there for more than a half hour.
Here is the fly in the ointment. Mall management still has people at both entrances, keeping an eye on the operation. It's a nice courtesy, but it also tells me that the ticketing is still balky. I've had problems. I've heard about others encountering issues, and I've also seen it first hand.
I get the need for keeping track of who is using the garage. Eliminate the freeloaders. But there has to be a better, simpler, and trouble free way of doing this.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
A bunch of people recently got pinched for allegedly bribing someone to get their kids into prestigious colleges and universities.
Back here at home, hundreds of people were exposed as being behind on their taxes and Scranton garbage collection fees.
I should insert here that our Scranton newspaper friends have been doing a fantastic job of exposing the mess in city government. It's impressive investigating and reporting. Kudos.
Cheating the system is inexcusable. Scranton is nearly broke. City Hall is literally falling apart. Decent, hard working and honest people are being taken advantage of, and that isn't fair.
Be patient. I'm getting to the point.
In both the college case, and the Scranton issue, the system was cheated because the system is cheatable. We're going to see this over and over and over again until there is real reform.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
As I noted here back in January, I didn't see that usual New Year influx of people trying to keep resolutions and knock off holiday pounds.
The place was nearly dead during my visits on those freezing cold winter mornings.
It's changed in the last week. A cheap "join" promotion probably has something to do with it. There's been a serious uptick in business. I suspect a lot of people want to get in shape now that you can't hide beneath heavy winter clothes, and that's fine. Many of the newbies come with friends and that's so important. Exercise can be boring. It's better if you have company.
If you are a newbie, remember to have realistic expectations. You're not going to get in shape in a week. It's a long road. Be patient and keep at it.
Monday, April 8, 2019
Adventures in Retail
At that time of day, or night, the self service check outs are the only ones open. There is usually one employee there monitoring the activity.
I was doing my thing on a recent morning... Gatorade, ramen soup, a USB charging cable, diet Pepsi. For some reason, the check out monitor was watching me like I was Dillinger. She moved from her monitoring location until she was nearly right over my shoulder, making sure I put each and every item over the scanner, and it made me uncomfortable.
I will be the first to admit that I didn't look like I was the Chamber of Commerce president. I was still flushed from a gym workout and damp from the shower. I hadn't touched a razor in a couple of days. Untucked shirt. Jeans. Sneakers. I guess I fit the profile.
Do I really look that shady?
Fast forward several hours. Different store. A warehouse club. A couple cases of water and a case of juice. The self service check out was a breeze, with no one breathing down my neck. As I was completing the transaction, an employee said there will be someone in the parking lot if I needed help loading the stuff in to my car.
Really? I know my hair is mostly grey now, and I might look a little older than my actual age. I've been sick lately, a little pale. But did I really look like I needed help getting a case of water from my cart to the car? How did I get it off the pallet and in to my cart in the first place?
I thanked the woman for her concern, and loaded the stuff in to the car without incident.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
About the Cover: Black Train
Trains have been featured here many times before, but not this one, and not in the location in which it was shot. I was passing the Taylor yards on a recent morning when I spotted this beauty out of the corner of my eye. I spun the car around and snapped off a few photos.
Here's the problem. The light wasn't the greatest and the train was moving. The shots were not clear and that drove me nuts. A big black diesel in the middle of the night was beautiful, and I just didn't capture it with my smart phone. As hard as I tried, I couldn't minimize the blur.
I was passing by again Friday morning. I saw the train and decided to make another go of it. This time, the train wasn't moving, and I managed to snap off a few good ones.
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Andy's Angles: AAA
Scranton Prep, that big building in the background, bought the former AAA headquarters. At this point, Prep says it has no plans for the property.
I have fond memories of this place, because this is where you visited for maps and tour books before a vacation. If you were here, you were going somewhere soon, and who doesn't like that?
I get the overwhelming feeling the place with so many happy memories is destined to become a parking lot.
Friday, April 5, 2019
As previously noted in this space, I felt that with a title "Tricky Dick," the series was destined to be a hatchet job on the 37th president of the United States.
While considerable time was dedicated to Nixon's sobering seriously sinister side, I think it's been fair so far.
Nixon has always fascinated me. Dan Rather said, at the time, no one was more prepared to become president. He was a smart man, always studied the topics and challenges he faced. He was the first president to understand television and he tried to manipulate it, and control the message. Unfortunately, Nixon's demons got the better of him, and you know the rest.
You really had to admire how he took a brutal loss in 1960, and another in 1962, and got up off the canvas to win in 1968. Vietnam ended on his watch. There were historic trips to China and the USSR. It was fascinating stuff. Nixon was a foreign policy genius. Yet, a two bit burglary and an amateurish cover up brought him down.
Ben Maller on FOX Sports Radio always says the better stories are in the losing locker room, and Richard Nixon has always been on my short list of dream interviews. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the series.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Follow Up File
How Anna Maria's passed inspections will remain one of life's great mysteries.
I never visited the old, or the new restaurant, but I was saddened to watch it go up in flames. People lose jobs. A man loses a business, and I'm sure the place had its fans.
I did some internet checking on "Restaurant Impossible." The series featured 140 restaurants. 101 are now closed. That is a horrible track record. Robert Irvine and staff can change the menu and the decor. They can't change the bad business practice that got all those restaurants in trouble in the first place.
I don't mean to be cavalier. I know the restaurant business is brutal.
By the way, I read that new "Restaurant Impossible" shows are in production and will be on the air soon.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Using Your Noodle
However, you can't deny the convenience and the low cost.
Noodles has become a national thing. There are chains spreading across the country. There is a stand alone ramen restaurant in downtown Scranton. I've never been there, but I hear it's very good. There is now a ramen restaurant in Dickson City, and I'm not sure it's open for business.
Color me intrigued, and I'm not one of those people who chases food trends. Give me my pizza, turkey subs, burger and fries, and chicken fingers.
I just find it odd on how food for people watching their budget has not become hip.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
I called in sick Sunday night.
"The Streak" was over. I hadn't used a sick day since December of 2016. The worst illness in all those months was a cold, and I powered through those. When you work my shift, and you call in sick, someone else is going to pay the price by working a shift they rarely encounter. If one of the "day" people calls in sick, others can easily pick up the slack.
I'll spare you the gory details, but there is a stomach ailment sweeping the office, and I guess it was my turn. I took every precaution-- wiping down keyboards, mice, and telephones, the occasional squirt of Lysol, frequent use of hand sanitizer, frequent hand washing, taking vitamins... It didn't work this time. Plus, there is no guarantee the office was the source of my illness.
As much as I hated to take a sick day, I tried to console myself with thoughts of keeping my illness to myself, and not spreading it to my coworkers.
A new streak begins.
Monday, April 1, 2019
My mom recently developed a fondness for Tastykake coconut juniors. I don't know how it happened. I believe it started when my sister stumbled across some in a store, thought my mom would like them, and delivered a box.
When the supply was exhausted, it fell to me to restock. Keep in mind that because of my hours, my shopping choices are rather limited. I dropped by a big box store Friday morning, just as the Tastykake guy was restocking the shelves. He noticed I was struggling to find what I was looking for. I asked "Where are the coconut juniors?" He replied that the big box management gave him limited shelf space, and coconut juniors are not on the store's "approved" list. We talked about the food business and the big box stranglehold for a couple of minutes. I did toss some of his other products in my cart because when it comes to Tastykake, it's impossible to go wrong.
There is 24 hour supermarket a couple of miles from home, so I paid a visit after the big box store. Same story. I happened to be there as another Tastykake route guy was stocking the shelves. Coconut juniors were nowhere to be found. He asked what I was looking for. I told him what I wanted, and who would be receiving them. He opened a cardboard box that was stacked on his hand truck. He had coconut juniors, but had yet to get a chance to open the box and put them on the shelves.
I took a couple of boxes, not believing mass produced snack cakes could give me such a thrill. The Tastykake route guy seemed exceptionally happy he played a role in helping a customer give his mom the treat she wanted.
Thank you. I spent $ 6.00. You can't put a price tag on the happiness.
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