Monday, September 20, 2021

The Genius of Stan


Stan Neishel died last week.  He was production director at WARM during the tail end of my run there in the 80's.

Stan was the guy who produced the commercials, but there was much more to him than that.

He was the voice of Emerson, the Maintenance Man, on the Harry West Show.  Harry knew it was a good bit, and he rode it like a circus elephant.  Harry even used it during his stay at WICK.

Stan could imitate almost everyone on the staff, and do it dead on.  Inside baseball:  to this day, I can't hear the word "flange" without bursting in to laughter.

He also took my topical news promos to the next level and made them sound great.  I would do a weekly thing, highlighting spot news we covered that the competition didn't.  More inside baseball:  "spot news" is the unplanned stuff, like fires, crashes, crimes, etc.

There is one tale that illustrates the genius of Stan Neishel.  You will have to let your imagination run wild on this one, and remember that a big part of radio is theater of the mind.

Stan was working with John Hancock to produce a comedy bit.  It involved a company drug test.  They needed the sound of someone urinating in to a cup.  Of course, we didn't have that sound in our stock sound effects library, so they had to make one.  Now, don't get carried away here.  All they did was pour water from one coffee can in to another, and had a microphone close by.  Simple.  Right?  No!  Simply pouring water from one vessel in to another wasn't good enough.  Stan did his magic and then called me in to the production room for my opinion.

He hit the tape, and I heard the stream.  The stream stopped for a second.  Then, you heard one final drip.  I was on the floor laughing.  It was perfect, and every male reader can relate.  That one last plop took the bit over the top, and it was just what the piece needed.  Funny, and real.  Above and beyond.

Stan was one of a kind.  My sympathy to his family and friends.  Thanks for the laughs.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Andy's Angles: Courthouse at Dawn


This is the Luzerne County Courthouse at Wilkes-Barre, taken on the same day and time as yesterday's shot.  I realize it's not the greatest quality.  Grainy.  I didn't have my good camera with me.  My camera phone had to suffice.

Some great things have happened here.  Some awful things have happened here.

The architecture is fantastic.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Andy's Angles: The Dawn Patrol Weekend


I found myself along the Susquehanna River at Wilkes-Barre a couple of days before Ida hit earlier this month.

While the Susquehanna can be a major nuisance at times, Golly Moses, it sure is beautiful.  The shot is from Millennium Circle, looking up river toward the Pierce St. Bridge off to the mid right.

It looks great, even with a camera phone.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Let's Review


It's my standard last day of vacation entry-- a review of the last week off.

I wish I could regale you with tales of fun and adventure.  Alas, it is not to be.

It was productive, including an eye exam and a flu shot.  There were a few social engagements.  I exercised a bit and played with my camera.

I slept-- a lot.

I should add that I haven't touched a razor since early Labor Day morning.  I honestly don't know how men grow beards.  I've tried every type of oil and conditioner.  The itch remains.  I kind of like the look, but the beard will be off when we meet tomorrow morning.

Even though I enjoyed the time off, I'm itching to do something and I will be back at work tonight.

Once again, it's bad clock management on my part.  I still have a lot of vacation time that needs to be burned off between now and the end of the year. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Follow Up Thursday


We haven't done a Follow Up File in a while, and there are a couple of items that deserve mention today.

There was a recent post about receiving a summons for jury duty.  My county supplies you with a telephone number.  You are supposed to call the evening prior to your service to see if you're needed.  I called.  I'm not needed.

While I appreciate the free day, especially during a vacation, I am a tiny bit disappointed.  Seeing how the system works, or doesn't work, from the inside is always a treat.  I was also looking forward to seeing some members of the courthouse crew, and catching up with the people I used to cover on a regular basis.

By the way, it's 2021.  The telephone call system works reasonably well.  Isn't it time the county assigns a temporary PIN and provides a web site so you can check your status electronically?  Keep the phones, too.  As we learned during the early days of vaccinations, not everyone has internet access.

Page 2.

Railing against the inefficiencies and incompetence in state government is almost a full time job.  The latest case in point is the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  The Associated Press did a crackerjack report and uncovered that, if you don't use EZ Pass, you stand a 50 per cent chance of getting a free ride.

Are you kidding me?

The Turnpike Commission calls it "leakage."  It sounds like a full scale torrent to me.

Once again, the state screws up and you pay the price.  Imagine what that $ 104 million dollars could have done.  Fewer potholes, lower tolls, better roadside conveniences...

If it wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

#Sad: The Business Edition


Jessup's one and only bank on Chruch Street closed last week.

Overall, not a big deal.  There are banks in adjacent Olyphant, Peckville, and Archbald.

But, let's dive a little deeper.

Once upon a time, every town around here had a doctor's office, a little market, a post office, a pharmacy, neighborhood schools...  and a bank.  When any one of those disappears, a town loses part of itself.  These are the places where we had little savings accounts, and Christmas Clubs, and car loans, and mortgages.  We knew the tellers and the managers, and they knew us.

It wasn't in Jessup, but I remember the thrill of walking to my corner bank and opening my first savings account.  It was on the last day of 8th grade.  I felt like such a big deal, an almost grown up.

Overly dramatic?  Possibly.

I know fewer people use brick and mortar banks these days, and I'm part of that group.  I also know a bank is a business, not a charity.  An oft repeated phrase:  "If it don't pay, it don't stay."  Upper management apparently deemed the branch was no longer profitable, and you can see what's happened.

I'm not a real estate agent.  This is an attractive property, including parking.  I doubt the bank that vacated it will allow another bank to move in,  It appears to be a good space for a professional office, maybe even a restaurant.

Jessup will survive.  There are still plenty of businesses here, including a healthy number of  bars and restaurants.  The town looks great at Christmas.  There are festivals, carnivals, and parties scattered throughout the year-- including St. Ubaldo Day.

However, driving past an empty building that was once the center of commerce makes me sad.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday Scrapple


Kudos to the producers of "The Price is Right" for keeping the show fresh after 49 years, but why do they make every contestant hoot and holler like a nit wit?

Bank tellers don't get enough credit for what they do.

Derek Jeter received all of the attention at the Baseball Hall of Fame last week, but Ted Simmons' induction speech was outstanding and thoughtful.

Above normal temperatures in summer = bad.  Above normal temperatures in fall = good.

Whether or not you agree with his politics, James Carville is always a fascinating interview.

I might have said it here before, but it's worth repeating:  "I'm Not In Love" by 10 cc is a darned fine song.

Ten years after Tropical Storm Lee, I still get a sick feeling in my stomach.  This one was so bad, and it could have been even worse.

A great night's sleep is underrated and so elusive.

I'm not the NFL fan I used to be.  Far from it.  Very far from it.  But, I still get a twinge of excitement on opening weekend.

Eddie Rabbit said it first, but I love a rainy night-- as long as it's not too rainy.

We are only nine months in to the year, and I already have nine potential "Top Ten" photos for the end of year review.  I've been lucky.  If it's like last year, I'll have too many had have to throw in some honorable mentions.

An addendum to yesterday's blog entry:  I was feeling pretty good about the photos I took at the Agronish Motorcycle Run in Jessup-- until I saw Christopher Dolan's work on the Times ~ Tribune web site.  Dear readers, that is a photographer!

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Ride

 Let's approach this one from a couple of different sides.  First, the event itself.  Then, the photography.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Bike Ride.  It starts and ends in Jessup.  The ride raises money for veteran's charities, and it honors the memory of SGT Jan Argonish, who died in Afghanistan in 2007.  I never met SGT Argonish, but I got to know his father.  We met right after Jan died.  Our paths crossed again in 2012, when we attended the same gym.  I was doing the math in my head as I drive to Jessup yesterday.  I've been here nine out of the 14 years, going back to when the staring point was in Dalton.

The ride is one of those things that triggers every emotion-- sadness that we have to do something like this, satisfaction in knowing that a lot of money is being used to help others, happiness because so many people volunteer to make this happen, pride in the flag and our nation, warmth when you see the number of people who came to say they care, gratitude, always.

And now, the photography...

Of course, I had to get some wide shots to show the size of the crowd, and the numbers were impressive.

I tried a "theme" this year.  I attempted to go a little tighter and focus on flags.

I went for fast shutter speeds, freezing the motion of the motorcycles and the flags.  As regular readers know, I harshly criticize myself, and there certainly was room for improvement, but I think it worked.

The lighting was my friend yesterday.  Some high clouds filtered the sun quite a bit, giving me a flat and even light.  No bright spots.  No shadows.  I lucked out.

And the lighting really seemed to make the red, white and blue stand out quite a bit.

Plus, there were so many photo opportunities...  I had a chance to spread them ut over Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram, and the blog.

Thank you for allowing me, once again, to be part of a special day.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Andy's Angles: About the Cover


A little late, but here goes...

I chose a fun, but flawed photo for this month's header.

It's sunrise from the parking lot of the old KMart in Dickson City.

I focused on the Waymart windmills off to the left.  Unfortunately, the sun and trees on the right aren't that sharp.  I love going there for sunrise shots, and I'll try it again some day.

And thanks to the people at Blogger, who finally adjusted the header photo template back to a decent size.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Andy's Angles: 20


There's an old saying that goes: "Unless you were buried under rubble, no one cares where you were on 9/11"

I haven't written about it much on past anniversaries, but I'll make a very brief exception this year because it is the 20th.

By the way, the photo above is the McDade Park, Scranton 9/11 memorial.  Simple, elegant and in a lovely location.

I was on vacation, alone, in Baltimore back in 2001.  It was a tough day to be away from family and friends, and I cut the vacation short.  I was home the next day.

When the planes hit, I was in my car, on the beltway, on my way to do some sight seeing, so I didn't see the video until hours later.  Some things remain with me-- the people crying as they watched televisions in a shopping mall, the stores closing, people running for the doors, the beltway at a crawl because everything shut down at once.  I had dinner in a Wendy's near my hotel.  The place was packed.  No one made a sound.  I've never experienced that many, so quiet, for so long.

9/11 was a day when we shared our grief, and it seems to have affected everyone differently.

Friday, September 10, 2021



It is a ritual of my September vacation-- a flu shot.

It started with an email to my mega medical group.  The reply email's first suggestion was to drop in to one of its no appointment necessary clinics.  I tried that.  I was informed it would be a two hour wait.

Are you kidding me?

The next suggestion, according to the email, was to call the main number and line up an appointment.  I called and the woman on the phone was kind, professional and helpful.  There was one problem:  she couldn't find the office that I visit for other medical needs.  After banging around her keyboard for a while, she came up with the necessary information.

We scheduled an appointment for the next morning.

The place is a factory.  I walked in at 8 am for an 8:10 appointment.  I checked in and sat down in a very crowded waiting area.  My name was called, I was in an exam room, I received my shot and I was back in my car at 8:08.

Call me cynical, but I am always amazed when things in the medical profession run on schedule, even more amazed when things go faster than anticipated.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Craw Sticker


This one has been sticking in my craw for a while.  It's time to exorcise the demon.

I should start by saying our friends at the Times ~ Tribune are doing a fantastic series this week on Scranton area property developers.  It's well done, and I'm enjoying every word.

This blog entry has been on my agenda for a while, so here goes.

The shabby old hotel at Franklin and Mulberry in downtown Scranton was recently sold.  The buyer/developer has floated a plan for a mixed use building in this space-- retail, office, residential.


No one will argue that the hotel needs to stay.  It has to go.  It's run down.  It's an eyesore at one of the city's major entrances.  It's sad, because this was a nice Holiday Inn at one time-- complete with a good restaurant and ball rooms.  Plus, there was plenty of easy parking.  I spent many an election night here.

Here's where the craw comes in.  The proposed replacement will tower 17 stories over the city!  17!

I'm all for thinking big, and a 17 story building will make quite an entry statement as you cross the Mulberry Street bridge.

It's more than the look of the building.  It has to be appropriate for the site, and I just think Scranton is not a 17 story building city.  As an old radio program director would have said, it will stick out like a boil on a baby's arse.

I do get it.  The point is to stick out.  The developer, who has done several restoration projects, should be applauded for past, present and future efforts.  He's really stepped up in recent years.

I'm just not sold on Scranton's new skyscraper.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Willard Scott


courtesy:  NBC News
Retired "Today" weather man Willard Scott died Saturday.  87.  I will admit that Scott was never my guy.  It was clear he knew nothing about the weather.  He was just repeating what someone else told him to day, and that's ok.  You got the information, and let's move on.

I do have a great deal of respect and admiration for the way people loved Willard Scott.  He had charm and warmth, and as I have said here many times before, you can't teach that.  You can't bottle that.  The word "legend" is tossed around all too often.  Here, it fits.  Perfectly.

I read several Scott obituaries over the weekend, and something jumped out at me.   It's something I absolutely loved.  Scott told a writer how he wasn't TV material.  He was overweight.  He was bald.  He sported a bad toupe for several years.  He looked older than he was.  Yet, Willard Scott had a very, very successful career on television.  Scott's quote:  "I beat the system."

Yes, you did, Mr. Scott.  Bravo!  Rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021



Sleeping Homer is here and that signals the start of another vacation week.

I love September.  Never was a cloudy day.  The weather cools off.  The kids are back in school.  Nothing is crowded.  It's a great time of year.

Plans?  Standard stuff.  Reading, photography, bike rides, the gym, getting together with some friends, and sleep.

We'll talk again soon.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day


I say it every holiday:  Please, remember what the day is all about.

It's especially important this year because an awful lot of people worked really hard to keep this country running during the last year and a half.  Some of them will still be at it again today.

Enjoy the day.  Stay safe.

Have a slice of pizza and a canoli at La Festa Italiana in Scranton.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Andy's Angles: Lee Weekend

Today's it's another photo from September 2011, noting the approaching 10th anniversary of the Tropical Storm Lee flooding.

As I noted yesterday, I was on vacation when the flood hit, and while I was curious about what was going on, the Wyoming Valley didn't need another sightseer.  I waited until the water went down and the immediate emergency passed before venturing out with my camera.

Born and raised here, and I will forever be in awe of the Susquehanna River-- its power and how quickly it can rise to dangerous levels.

The view above is from the area near the Water Street Bridge, on the Pittston side, looking downstream.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Andy's Angles: Lee Weekend

 It's coming up on the 10th anniversaty of the flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Lee.

By now, you know the drill.  We get days of rain.  Rivers, creeks, and streams can't hold it all.  They flood.  This one was different than most.  The Susquehanna River hit record levels.

Unlike 1972, the raised levee protected Wilkes-Barre.  West Pittston got hit, and hit hard.

The Susquehanna backed up in to the Lackawanna, and parts of Duryea went under water.

A September vacation is tradition for me.  This year was no different.  I did email the assistant news director at the time and volunteered to come in if the unthinkable happened.  It was bad, but not catastrophic.

While I was curious about the high water, I stayed home.  The last thing you need during a tragedy is a lookie-loo.

After the water went down and the emergency subsided, I went to a store, bought a new camera, and ventured out to see what I could see, while staying out of the way.

The photo above is debris piled outside homes in Duryea.

I've seen flooding aftermath dozens of times before.  It never gets easier.  That's not garbage piled outside of people's homes.  It's memories-- some things that cannot be replaced.

I know we learn from every disaster.  And, one of the lessons always is nature always wins.

Friday, September 3, 2021



Labor Day weekend is here, and that triggers mixed feelings among Americans.

Some are sad because this weekend marks the end of the summer vacation season.  Kids are going back to school.  A lot are already back.  Less daylight.  Cooler weather.

I like it for the same reasons, especially the cooler weather.

Fall is a great time of year.  Unfortunately, winter follows.  

We'll climb that mountain when we get there.

After this week, we can all use a holiday weekend to relax.

You might be wondering how I fared in the storm.  Bottom line:  It could have been worse.  I took a family member to a medical appointment in the morning, a 30 minute drive each way.  Hey people, slow down!  Visibility was awful.  Ponding on the interstate.  Most people drive like it was summer and 75-- 75 degrees and 75 miles per hour.

I had a social engagement in the afternoon, which was lovely.  Fortunately, it was only a two mile drive.  It was a short walk from the car to the restaurant and I still got soaked.

At home, there was a two minute power outage and super slow internet.  When I see what some neighbord endured, I have nothing to complain about.

I hope the start of the holiday weekend finds you happy, safe, warm, dry and well.

And don't forget, La Festa Italiana on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton is back after a year off.  It begins today and wraps up Monday night.  The tents went up a couple of days ago.  It's a good chance to eat, listen to live music, people watch and just get out of the house for a while.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

First Person: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things


My Tuesday morning assignment was simple:  show how places are getting ready for the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  I used a taped piece from Schuylkill County.  The scene above was our live backdrop.  The flood gate at Millennium Circle in Wilkes-Barre closed.  Instead of a lovely view of the Susqehanna River, it was a silver metal wall.

While the Susquehanna will rise, Ida looks to be a stream, creek, and street event.  There won't be a lot of water up north, and that's where the Susquehanna gets its fuel.  Closing the gates was a good idea, nonetheless.

As I write this, it's late Wednesday morning.  It's pouring.  I just arrived home from taking my father to a medical appointment in Wilkes-Barre.  Interstate 81 was insane.  Very few drivers adjust speed downward for the conditions.  I saw two near crashes.  Note to other drivers:  tailgating will not make me drive faster.  Some nimrods insist on driving without headlights in a heavy rain.  The turn into my driveway filled me with an aura of blessed relief.

There has been a great debate in our newsroom and on social media about hype, early warning, rainfall totals, etc.  Most people are happy with how we handled it.  There were some dissenters.

As many of you know, I produce Newswatch 16 on weekend mornings.  The buck stops with me.  During a break in our Sunday morning broadcast, meterologist Valerie Smock showed me a map of the projected rainfall totals in our area from Ida.  I gasped.  We discussed whether it was too early to use a map like that.  I gave Valerie the green light, and she was already leaning that way.  Valerie made sure to point out that it was an early projection.  A change in the track of the storm could make a big difference, but this is what we were looking at.  As it turned out, that first projection map was on the money.

I'm a cautious guy.  I don't like going out on limbs, but I do like you getting the most information I can offer, as early as I can reasonably do so, and without the hysterical hype. This was one of those cases.

I hope it helped people make informed decisions.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Why Mr. Tony is A Genius


Tony Kornheiser is a former writer for some major newspapers.  He ventured in to broadcasting, with a local radio show in Washington, a national one on ESPN Radio, an afternoon ESPN tv show, and more local radio.

He now does a three day a week podcast.  As I've noted here before, I love it.  It's fresh and interesting.  It's like live and local radio, without that canned podcast flavor.

Now that we've established the foundation, let's talk about Thursday's podacst.  Peter King was one of the guests.  King writes.  He does radio and TV.  No one knows more about the NFL than Peter King.

Very early in to the interview, King and Kornheiser started talking about their love for newspapers, and their love for writing.  They reminisced about how they started, how they acquired their first jobs, advice for aspiring journalists, and general memories of a great way to make a living.  They didn't talk about Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and the rest.  It was just two veterans talking about the business, and it was fascinating stuff.

KIng and Kornheiser have something in common.  Both knew they wanted to work for a newspaper very early in life.  It struck a chord with me.  Broadcasting was in my sights when I was a wee lad.

I've often mentioned the magic of walking in to an old radio studio-- the big machines, the tapes, the lights, the dials, the meters, the buttons, the knobs, the lights...

The same can be said about visiting an old fashioned newspaper newsroom.  I can still smell the old Scranton Tribune-- the newsprint, the ink, the cigars, the cigarettes, maybe a little alcohol.  You can actually feel the history.

And, if you've ever been there when they crank up the giant presses, all I can say is wow.  You will never forget it.

And that, dear readers, is why Tony Kornheiser is a genius.  I'm sure he had a few notes jotted down about potential Peter King NFL topics.  He threw the script away and went with a real and human discussion of media life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

In Memoriam


Ed Asner died Sunday, and to say I'm sad is an understatement.

Yes, I know the writers created the Lou Grant character, but Ed Asner brought it to life.  He was the guy you always wanted to work for.  Serious, gruff, you knew where you stood, and he kept a bottle in his bottom desk drawer.

Asner showed his range when he took the same character and modified it for the hour long drama known as "Lou Grant."  In fact, Asner became the first actor to win Emmys for playing the same character in a comedy and a drama.

The Washington Post got it right when it said Asner had the role of a lifetime-- twice.

Asner showed a great deal of class when Mary Tyler Moore died, talking about how she advanced the secondary characters on the show.  Moore had it figured out.  Her sitcom worked because she was the island of semi sanity, surrounded by the seriously funny people around her.

One of the things that impressed me is how Ed Asner wasn't afraid to play unpopular characters.  Case in point, the slave ship captain on "Roots."

Looking at, it's a tremendous body of work, from villains to Santa Claus.

Ed Asner was 91.

Monday, August 30, 2021



Very few people, past or present, can say they changed history.  Very few.

Sirhan Sirhan is one of them.

He shot and killed presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1968.  We don't know if the country would be better or worse had Kennedy lived.  We will never know.  Sirhan stopped that.

California ruled Friday the killer, who says he doesn't remember the shooting, is eligible for parole.  There are several more hurdles to clear before Sirhan walks out of prison.

I'm not passing judgement on Kennedy.

I'm not passing judgement on Sirhan.

I'm not passing judgement on the California penal system.

I am wondering what is fair and just.

I am wondering how things might have been different.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Andy's Angles: The Rapids

Short story long...

I produced Newswatch 16 This Morning on Monday, as it was pouring due to Tropical Storm Henri.  All heck was breaking loose.  We had a team of people out covering it, but I was really antsy.  I wanted to see it for myself.  My duties kept me in the building until 7:15 AM.

After my shift, and after taking a major deep breath, I went home and wolfed down a sandwich.  I then hurriedly grabbed my camera and twisted on my 24 mm wide angle lens.   I should have taken my time and took all my gear.  More on that in a moment.

I hit a couple of spots along the Lackawanna River.  They were nothing to write home about.  The water level was dropping after a Sunday night high.

The shot above came from the Blakely Borough Recreation Complex, an area with big rocks and plenty of rapids when the water gets high.

The sun was coming out and it was brightening up.  I wanted a short exposure to accentuate the bubbles and the waves.  Today's picture has a 1/100 exposure.

It would have been the perfect opportunity for a long exposure shot to smooth out the water, but it was way too bright for that.  I was in a hurry and my bag with the necessary lens filter was at home.  The tripod was in the car.  A test shot was a failure.  Overexposed, even with a small aperture and dialing down the light meter as far as it would go.

We will have high water again.  I hope it won't be as bad as Henri.  I'll be back and I'll have my filter next time.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Andy's Angles: Turned On

 I am a lineman for the county...

Actually, I'm not.  Far from it.  Electricity scares me.

I admire the men and women who get in the bucket trucks to get the lights back on.  There is a special breed of lineman that travels from disaster zone to disaster zone, working under horrible conditions to get people their juice.  Away from home.  Strange places.  Adverse weather.  Confronting real messes.

This was the early Tuesday morning scene outside a local hotel.  These trucks were gone well before daybreak.  Destination:  New England.

Thank you.

Friday, August 27, 2021



Unfortunately, Hashtag Sad is getting to be a regular thing here.

Today's subject is the Baltimore Orioles.

The team ended a 19 game losing streak Wednesday night.  The streak is the third longest in modern major league history.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards set the gold standard for contemporary baseball stadium construction.  It's a great place to explore, even when the team is out of town.

The Orioles used to be among Major League Baseball's elite.  Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Ken Singleton, Paul Blair, Dave McNally...

Now, the franchise is a joke.

Baltimore deserves better.

Baseball deserves better.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Charlie and Lloyd


We lost two big names this week.

Charlie Watts died.  He was the Rolling Stones' drummer for 60 years.  Think about that for a moment.  60 years!  If that wasn't enough, Watts was married for nearly 60 years.  That is unheard of in the rock world.  It's unheard of in the mainstream world.

Yes, I played rock on the radio during my college days, but I'm not going to pretend to be an expert.  A Stones song, or two, or three was always part of my radio shift.  

A compilation album, Hot Rocks, got me through many a depressing Christmas season.  I would pull the cassette out of a drawer every November.  Those songs were a yearly diversion from personal problems, generally bad Christmas music,  and general holiday malaise.

When you think of the Stones, of course, Mick Jagger comes to mind.  However, you cannot forget about the talented contributions of Charlie Watts.

Charlie Watts was 80 years old.

Retired NBC News correspondent Lloyd Dobyns also died this week.  85.

Once upon a time, "Saturday Night Live" ran for three weekends a month.  The fourth weekend was occupied by a news magazine show, anchored by Dobyns, called "Weekend."  Dobyns was clever, maybe a little too clever, if you catch my drift.  Some sentences were longer and a little more complicated than they should have been.  Anyway, it was good television.  NBC, who for years couldn't develop a decent magazine show, made "Weekend" weekly and moved it to prime time.  Linda Ellerbee co-anchored.  Good television.  Bad ratings.  It was moved around the schedule and eventually cancelled.

Dobyns and Ellerbee went on to co-anchor "NBC News Overnight" at 1:30 am.  Perfect show for the time slot.  Newsy but quirky.  Dobyns stayed for several months before getting another news magazine, called "Monitor."  "Overnight" ran for a year and a half before NBC cancelled it.

Here comes the soap box.  The late night/early morning hours are a great time for the broadcast and cable networks to experiment and innovate.  They all tried something at one time or another.  CBS had a really good news and interview program for a while.  Gone.  Replaced by a repeat of the evening news.  NBC had a nice news wheel show for a few years.  Gone.  Replaced by a repeat of one of the "Today" hours.  CNN, FOX and MSNBC all air repeats of prime time.  Boo!  Only ABC is still in the game.

Lloyd Dobyns was never a major star, in spite of major talent, and that's unfortunate.  Take a moment today and do a You Tube search.  It will not be a waste of time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Here We Go Again


It seems everyone is yammering on over the drama finding a new host for "Jeopardy!," so I might as well chime in.

Newly selected host Mike Richards quit after news of some past inappropriate behavior surfaced.  It's too bad, because I thought he did the best job of all the fill-ins.  He had actual game show experience, as a host and a producer.

I'm just throwing it out there, and I don't know what the answer is, and I'm not defending anything Richards said or did, but what is the statute of limitations on stupid?  When does someone get out of the penalty box for things that happened years ago?

Mayim Bialyik gets the substitute call once again, and she handled the show well.

If I was doing the choosing, Bialyik would be on the list, as well as Anderson Cooper and Joe Buck.

It's just been reported that Joe Buck improved on the ratings by 16 per cent.  Sony, who makes "Jeopardy!" has to sit up and take notice of that news.

It reminds me of something that happened in 1980.  The great Allen Ludden was host of "Password Plus" on NBC.  He got sick.  The even greater Bill Cullen filled in for a month and didn't miss a beat.  When Ludden died in 1981, the exceptionally talented Tom Kennedy took over until the show was canceled a couple of years later.  Relevance to 2021?  There are fewer game shows on the air these days.  That pool of talented hosts, male and female, isn't as deep as it once was.  The daytime network schedule was filled with game shows and there were several others in night time syndication.

There has to be somebody out there who is both a talented host and a safe choice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Stomach Was Right

I've had more than my share of head vs heart conflicts over the years, too many to mention, and they all have unhappy endings.

Today, it's stomach versus brain.

Yesterday, I wrote about the feeling of impending doom in my stomach because Henri was approaching.  I heard the forecasts.  I saw the maps.  We were due for rain, and a lot of it.  It didn't appear to be anything we couldn't handle.

Don't worry, so said the brain.

The stomach and a constant upset sent another message.

I was scheduled to work 10 Sunday night until 7 Monday morning.

I woke up Sunday evening to a steady rain.  The rain gained in intensity as the night ended and the morning began.  The stomach was right.  This was going to be worse than predicted.

My heart breaks for all those who have property damage, flooded cars, soggy basements...

Never doubt the stomach.

Monday, August 23, 2021



It happens all the time and I'm surprised I don't have a hole in my stomach all the way to my toes.

It's a feeling of impending doom.  Today, the trigger is Hurricane Henri.

I'm writing this early on a Sunday morning, taking a 2 am break from preparing Newswatch 16 Sunday morning.  I have the Weather Channel on my monitor.  The ABC News closed circuit channel has live video from New York, plus Afghanistan and Washington.  Believe me, when something big is happening, you want to be in a newsroom.  You have so many sources of information at your disposal.

I always feel it in my stomach.  A pain, a queasiness, because something very bad could happen.

It appears Henri is turning east, and Pennsylvania will be spared the heavy rain and wind.

Still, my heart breaks for people in New York and New England.

I know it's not the first hurricane and it won't be the last.  You never get used to the images of destruction.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Andy's Angles: #Sad


It really shouldn't, but this picture makes me sad.

A lot of factors contribute to that-- an angine that's pretty beat up and in need of some tender loving care, the overgrown weeds, the solitude of a weekend summer morning...

I guess, it's not the way it looks.  It's what you do with it.  I'm sure this diesel earned its keep for a very long time.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Andy's Angles: Icy Bridge


Today's photo from the archives serves two purposes.

First, I enjoy looking at "cold" things on hot days.  The photo is from January 2014.

Second, it gives me an excuse to talk about the Water Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River between Pittston, on the right, and West Pittston, on the left.

The old bridge closed earlier this month.  An inspection shows there's a safety issue.  The bridge, built in 1914, has been rehabbed several times.  I'm expecting a familiar refrain from Luzerne County.  It will cost too much to fix, and way too much to replace.

To be honest with you, I loved the look, but I didn't enjoy using it.  I'm not a fan of long bridges over water.  Plus, this one was really narrow.

In a perfect world, there would be a bigger, wider, safer bridge constructed here.  However, it looks like we'll just have to use the Fort Jenkins Bridge, pictured here just upstream, until the end of time.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Media Friday


I tried listening to one of those radio shows dedicated to gambling.  I lasted ten minutes.  It was awful.  Even though I don't gamble, I thought it might be entertaining.  I was wrong.

The "Field of Dreams" game on FOX received big ratings anf that made me happy.  Baseball has suffered so many self inflicted wounds lately.  The game needed a boost.

I still haven't jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, either as a creator or listener.  I do punch in Joe Snedeker's effort from time to time.  His talk with Carmella Mataloni was excellent.  

I do listen to Tony Kornheiser's podcast.  He does two or three a week.  It's an interesting show, and it has that live and topical feel.

I really haven't studied the fall TV schedule.  At first glance, there is nothing that really interests me.

Some pre season replays on the NFL Network caught my eye.  I am no longer a rabid NFL fan, but I did watch.  Maybe, it was it a pleasant reminder of fall weather and cooler days.

I do check out some radio industry web sites, and I see that several stations have flipped to conservative talk lately.  None are in our area.  Intriguing.

Let's hope the Britney Spears saga ends happily for all involved.  I've grown weary of the daily updates.

FOX, CNN and MSNBC still spend far too much time reporting on each other.  Stay in your lane!

Kudos to the journalists reporting on Afghanistan from inside Afghanistan.  I admire your dedication and your bravery.

CBS sold its landmark "black rock" headquarters in New York.  It will lease space there for two years while it looks for new space.  I understand why.  It still makes me sad.

"The Price is Right" is still entertaining as it heads in to season 50, but I really do miss the audience.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Enough, Already


As I write this, Wednesday morning, most of the state is under a flood watch.  Blame it on what is left of Tropical Storm Fred.

It's just the latest episode in a sorry weather summer.

We've had three bonafide heat waves, along with several above normal temperature days, crushing humidity, damaging storms, flash flooding, high winds and a few tornado warnings tossed in.

I've had enough.

This is usually the time of year when there is a hint of fall in the air, especially at night.  Hot weather during the day is bad enough.  It's especvially bad when it doesn't cool off at night.

I just feel sapped-- all the time.  Bring on October!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Business Wednesday


Even though retail sales were down last month, it appears people are venturing in to stores a little more often these days.

I'm depending less on the on-line retailers and actually shopping in person.  Apparently, I'm not alone and that triggered a renewed debate over self service check outs.

I would prefer to have a clerk do the work.  It's employment for someone.

On the other hand, if it's a choice between standing in a line, and zipping through a self service area, the choice is clear.  I scan my purchases myself and I bolt for the door.  Limiting time inside is more important to me right now.

I have a little news for you.  The self service revolution began before the pandemic.  Retailers like trimming the payroll.  Those jobs are gone,  and they're not coming back.

The toothpaste is out of the tube.  By the way, toothpaste is in aisle seven.  Go get it yourself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Reviewed and ReReviewed


There are days when it's not enough to watch an old movie.  I'll have to go back and look at the reviews.

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was on television the other morning.  It's always been a favorite.  "Fast Times" won't go down in history as a great film, but it was darned entertaining-- a couple of hours of escapist fun.

I've always been a Roget Ebert fan.  He was not only a good critic, but he was also a great writer.  I loved reading his blog.

Anyway, after watching "Fast Times," I looked up Ebert's review from 1982.  I was surprised to see that he hated it.  Ebert liked the performances, especially Jennifer Jason Leigh.  "Fast Times" lost it, in Ebert's view, because of the excessive vulgarity.

While I get that, you do have to face facts.  Young people, heck, even old people, can be vulgar.

"Fast Times" would have lost some of its realism if it cut the vulgarity.  Looking at it from Ebert's point of view, it could have been toned down a bit.

Vulgar or not, I still look at "Fast Times" as one of the better movies of the 80's.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday Scrapple


I haven't done one of these in a while, so let's give it a whirl.

Joe Buck is doing a good job on "Jeopardy."

It's great to see all the new festivals, most food based, here in our area, and it's also great to see the return of some old ones.  They're all on weekends, so I can't attend, but it's wonderful to know they're there.

I grew tired of hot weather by mid June.

The new football season doesn't excite me, but it will be nice to have some weekend TV sport variety.

A friend was shocked by the small amount of TV I watch:  Hogan's Heroes, MASH (if it's from the first four seasons), Beat Bobby Flay, and Match Game.  I spend more of my time listening to the radio.

Is there any time of day when a Sheetz store is not busy?

Thursday night's "Field of Dreams" FOX baseball telecast was nothing short of perfect.  FOX really has become the sports innovation leader.  The photography and graphics were excellent.

I'm still heartbroken over Markie Post's passing.

The bathing and showering habits of celebrities doesn't interest me.  In fact, we would be a much better country if people didn't discuss every aspect of their personal lives on social media.

Something I don't own and will never own:  loungewear.

I'm not defending his cheating, but Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros really does have a lot of telent.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Andy's Angles: Ice


We just came through another spell of above normal temperatures, and that's okay.  It is summer, after all, and colder weather is ahead.

I thought I'd remind you of that today with a shot from the archives.  This is a picture of an ice jam on the Susquehanna River at Tunkhannock back in 2015.  There were fears the ice jam would trigger flooding, but it broke up and eventually moved down stream without a major incident.

My thoughts on winter?  I can deal with the cold.  There is a certain charm to a bowl of hot soup, and burrowing under heavy blankets for a good night's sleep.  However, I can do without the snow and ice.  Yes, winter is a package deal.

There is one consolation.  Time seems to pass more quickly as you age, so the winters don't seem as endless as they used to be.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Andy's Angles: Conrail Blue


Conrail split up years ago, but you can still find a relic of the past, in the signature Conrail blue.

I found this one in Scranton in a Saturday morning late last month.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Bank On It


A recent story in the Pittsburgh Tribune~Review caught my eye.  Citizens Bank is closing a few of its branches in western Pennsylvania.

Let's face facts.  People don't go to banks as often as they once did.  Pay and government checks come from direct deposits.  Bills get paid electronically.  You can even deposit a paper check remotely.  ATM's provide walking around money.

Jessup in Lackawanna County will soon lose its one and only bank.  Banks used to be the centers of towns.  Those days are over.  While it will be a nuisance for Jessup and a hole in the middle of a very nice downtown, it's not catastrophic.  There are still banks in neighboring towns, and there are all those electronic options.

Me?  I get paper checks once in a while, residuals from a couple of freelance projects.  I sincerely enjoy going to the bank to cash them.  The tellers are my friends.  One of the banks I visit has a real old timey feel, with the marble lobby and the huge vault.  It's a trip back in time and I really enjoy it.  I just wonder sometimes how long I'll get to have that experience.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

We Were There First!


I thoroughly enjoyed Tuesday morning's Facebook Live by Chelsea Strub and Mike Erat.  It was a play by play of the painting of the red stripe on Main Street in Pittston, to mark the parade route for next week's Tomato Festival.

Of course, it didn't happen on time, which led to Chelsea and Mike peeling back the curtain to show you what it takes to do a television news story.  I know that stuff bores a lot of people.  Chelsea and Mike made it fun and interesting, even to someone who's been through the drill hundreds of times.

It brought back memories of March 2014.  Photographer Steve Smallwood and I were dispatched to Pittston, where they were painting a green stripe on Main Street, prior to the St. Patrick's Parade.  Steve is wearing the red and black coat in the photo above.

Again, it didn't happen on time.

Steve and I froze while we waited, and waited, and waited some more.

Chelsea and Mike perspired.

I took the photo above when the project finally started moving.  Steve is shooting video on the right.

Look, line painting is nothing new.  A lot of cities and towns do it.  It's not earth shattering news, but it's a fun little gimmick to drum up some pre parade publicity.  It's cool tv, pretty pictures.

It's been done dozens of times.  I admire Chelsea and Mike for making it interesting and entertaining.   They even put up with my snarky comments, and I loved Mike's responses.

Chelsea is an extra miler, dressing up as a tomato Tuesday.  I'm sure the heat of the tomato costume added to the degree of difficulty.

I should have borrowed Joe Snedeker's shamrock costume back in 2014.

By the way, Steve Smallwood is hapily retired, and he is greatly missed at WNEP.  As I said when Steve left, I learned from him, and I say that about very few people.