Sunday, May 30, 2021
I just could not imagine being in one of these for hours at a time, in blazing heat and intense cold.
If you ever need an injection of respect for the men and women who served, just take a look at one of these things.
Saturday, May 29, 2021
Friday, May 28, 2021
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Stephen Colbert is going back to a full audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York next month. It's time. I won't be in the audience at home. I just don't find his brand of humor funny. Carson tweaked those in power. The same went for Letterman. Colbert bludgeons. Tweaking is clever and difficult. Bludgeoning is easy.
NBC rewarded Jimmy Fallon with a five year contract extension. Why? All he did was steer the franchise in to third place. I've always felt Fallon is an exceptionally talented guy, but a talk show, especially the Tonight show, isn't his thing. The Tonight foundation has always been the monologue. Fallon's delivery is weak and he still seems terrified to be there.
Conan O'Brien is ending his TBS show and is heading over to a streaming network. Once again, I'm not a huge fan, but O'Brien has improved his act over the years. He always lost me when he tried to be funnier than his guests. On the other hand, Johnny Carson always brought out the best of the people who appeared with him.
And, that brings us to our next entry. CNN is currently running a multi part series on the history of late night television. As a TV geek, it really hasn't exposed any new territory for me, but I can see how the average tv fan would enjoy it. I'm sorry the great Tom Snyder didn't get more attention. The same goes for Craig Ferguson. I enjoyed watching former NBC executives rationalize and defend their boneheaded decisions. Steve Allen became rather pretentious in his later years, but you have to give the man his due. Just about every late night host/comedian is doing some variation of what Steve Allen did decades ago.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Today's subject is golf. Phil Mickelson won the PGA championship Sunday afternoon. At nearly 51, Mickelson becomes the oldest man to ever win a major tournament.
First, it's sad that golf considers you considered washed up before you hit fifty.
Second, you wonder how many tournaments Mickelson would have won if he wasn't competing against Tiger Woods every Sunday.
Third, it's simply a good story.
With minor exceptions, Mickelson has behaved himself over the years, a good role model. People at the club where Mickelson won Sunday went nuts when he locked up the victory. People like this guy.
The big trophy and the fat paycheck are nice. So is the adoration. It's a "feel good" story when we can really use one.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Meteorologist Valerie Smock and I engaged in an on-air conversation about vacations on Newswatch 16 Saturday Morning. The question was vacation destination: beach or mountains?
Valerie leaned toward the beach, and that's perfectly understandable.
I guess my answer could be described as "city."
I used to love little trips to Baltimore. I stopped several years ago. It became far too "touristy" and, real or perceived, there is a crime issue. I had a lot of friends in Harrisburg at one time, and I'd stop and see them on the way down or back.
I also used to really enjoyed driving to Erie on Route 6, across the top of the state. There isn't much to do in Erie, but it was plenty of fun getting there. Spectacular scenery. Unfortunately, it takes a long time, and I've grown to dislike being in a car for that long. The return trip was across the southern tier of New York, using Interstate 86 and Route 17. I did have friends in Corning, but most have moved on to other things.
I'm really not much of a vacation person, anyway. If you stop by here on a regular basis, you know my aversion to crowds, noise, fuss and bother. I hate packing, unpacking, and all the clean up that needs to be done when the vacation is over. I'd rather hang around the neighborhood and take it easy.
There is a vacation week coming up in late July and I'm fully prepared to do absolutely nothing.
Monday, May 24, 2021
I started working in professional/commercial radio in 1981, and I started going out on the road as a news reporter early in 1982.
One of my WARM 590 co-workers back in the day was the legendary Guy Randall. Let me tell you about Guy. No one knew Luzerne County better. His roots were in the Hazleton area, if memory serves, but he spent his career in and around Wilkes-Barre.
One afternoon, Guy, the grizzled veteran, and me, the snotty young pup, were having a conversation in the WARM newsroom. I confessed that I had trouble telling the Luzerne County judges apart because they were all little, grey haired, old men. The only one I could instantly recognize was bald. I irritated Guy. He just couldn't understand my confusion. I should add the judges of that era were all well liked and respected.
Fast forward forty years, and the days of the little old men, all fine jurists, are gone. Three women are going for the two available on seats on the bench this fall-- Salavantis, Toohill, and Kravitz. One man and one woman finished out of the money on election night: Jim Bobeck and Laura Dennis. As I wrote here Wednesday, the people of Luzerne County are the real winners. All five have the makings of great judges.
It's the changing of the guard. Men and women. Fresh, new faces and names.
I think I can tell them apart now.
Sunday, May 23, 2021
I had the shutter open for 30 seconds on this one, hoping for that signature long exposure glow. The street lights blasted me, but you get the idea.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
I set up at the corner of North Washington and Mulberry in Scranton on a recent morning. The camera is pointed down the street, toward Wyoming Avenue and the North Scranton Expressway.
The thing I like about this photo is the red light trails are high off the pavement, and it looks like vehicles were traveling in the wrong lane, but all was well. It's just part of the grand illusion.
Friday, May 21, 2021
Today, it's the debut of a new franchise called "Loose Ends." Veteran blog readers will realize it's "Unfinished Business" under a different title.
The offerings today deal with Tuesday's election.
There was some pre election intelligence that Green party candidate Marlene Sebastianelli would be the wild card and potential spoiler in the special election for senate in the 22nd district. She was supposed to pull enough votes to really make a difference in the outcome.
Let's look at two things.
First, the big newspaper in town endorsed Sebastianelli. A newspaper endorsement might make a difference in a close election between major party candidates. Maybe. It doesn't have the ability to pull a third party candidate into the respectable showing category.
Second, will we ever see a viable third party? With every passing election, it appears the answer is "no." It will be Democrats and Republicans until the end of the time. George Wallace made some noise, even capturing electoral votes in 1968. John Anderson, a Republican running as an Independent in 1980, captured 6.6 per cent of the presidential vote. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, but he ran for president as a Democrat. Ross Perot won 19 per cent of the vote in 1992.
Full fledged, third party, as a significant force, forever and ever? A great idea, with a barely flickering flame.
It appears Loni Kavulich Loiselle will be Taylor's mayor next year and the same goes for Max Conway in Dunmore. New, young faces in positions of power and authority. Friends, the changing of the guard enters a new phase.
Once again, cameras kicked out of polling places around Pennsylvania yesterday. Other states have no restrictions. Other countries have no restrictions. You paid for the election. You deserve to see how it works. Maybe there would be fewer mistakes and more accountability if you had a chance to see what was going on
Enjoy your weekend. See you tomorrow morning.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Sports broadcaster Marv Albert retires at the end of the current NBA season. He'll turn 80 next month and it's safe to say he is the best basketball broadcaster-- ever. He's been doing it for 60 years.
Albert was more than a courtside fixture. He handled the NBC baseball pre game show for a while. He called NFL games on TV and radio, and he wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself during appearances on David Letterman's NBC show. If that wasn't enough, he did the nightly sports on WNBC TV for years.
Albert lost all of his jobs in 1997 after some embarrassing behavior went public. There were criminal charges and plenty of tabloid fodder. Albert paid the price, was knocked down-- hard, and got back up. There are two lessons here. The first is to behave. Glass houses. The second is to never give up.
New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick wrote that no one prepared for a game more thoroughly than Marv Albert. That made me smile. You know my theory on prep. Do a ton, and then park it in your brain. Pull it out when you have to, when the moment calls for it. Don't pull it out just to prove how smart you are. Marv Albert did things the right way.
Marv Albert will be missed.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Election day! It's finally here!
I face this primary on two fronts, personally and professionally.
First, the personal stuff. I get to vote today! Pennsylvania has closed primaries, so you have to be a member of a party to cast a primary ballot. But, there is a special election for senate today. There are four important ballot questions. I can vote in those contests, even though I am an Independent. I'll have to sit on the sidelines for the rest. I'll drop by my polling place right after work this afternoon. I'm sure I'll see some familiar faces, beneath the masks, and that's always a treat. Voting is like a social engagement.
The preview stories I wrote last week will get one more going over, and then we're on the air with Newswatch 16 This Morning at 4:30 am.
Watch this space for updates during the day. My work day ends at noon. After voting, lunch, and a nap, I'll be up to watch my colleagues deliver the numbers.
There are several new people running county voter services offices in our area, and across the state. It will be interesting to see if the tally can be done in a timely and efficient manner. There have been challenges over the years, plus some downright slow and sloppy work. Maybe new faces in new jobs isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's 2021. You deserve a fast and accurate count. Having said that, I am not willing to sacrifice accuracy for speed.
Keep checking in tomorrow for a little analysis. I have my theories and speculation. We'll see if I was right.
As I always say, "off year" elections don't get the attention of a presidential contest, but they are just as important. The people you vote for today control your taxes, police protection, schools, trash collection, snow removal, social services and a thousand other things.
Vote. It's important.
>>>11:00 am update: Apologies for the blackout. It's been a whirlwind morning. State senate candidate Marty Flynn voted at 7, Chris Chermak at 8, and Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti at 9. A photographer and I managed to talk with all three. It was then back to the office to bang out a story for our noon broadcast. I finally have a moment to breathe and write.
Early impressions: I asked Flynn and Chermak about the nasty tone of this campaign, and there are reports this morning of one of the other candidates doing surprisingly well and siphoning off a lot of votes from the two major parties. Fascinating. Turnout didn't appear to be heavy.
>>>12:00 pm update: My work day is done. The story is airing, part of a series of election reports. Problems with ballot wording in Luzerne County. You had how long to get this right? It's a detour to my polling place after work, then lunch at home.
>>>1:15 pm update: I was voter 77 in my precinct. Anemic. I was the first Independent. Hideous. Independents need to know they can vote in the 22nd district special senate election, and Independents everywhere can vote on the ballot questions.
It's a little down time, then up tonight to watch the numbers come in.
Monday, May 17, 2021
I always love the urgency of the day before an election. Candidates and their supporters are scurrying about, wondering if they've dotted every I and crossed every T. Even at this late stage in the game, there are still yard signs to be planted and phone calls to be made.
Some races trigger more anxiety than others. I'm happy to say that in my county, there really are some spirited contests. I'm sorry to say that far too many candidates have no opposition from within their party or even the other party. Everyone benefits when there is choice and competition.
It's similar in the TV business. There are scripts to write, research to finish, logistics to decipher...
Most of my work is already done. I wrote some preview stories last week. They'll run tomorrow. I'll give them a last look soon to see if they need any tweaks and last minute changes. An editor will match video and graphics with the words. There are pages of notes to digest.
It's early to sleep this afternoon and up early tomorrow for what promises to be a busy day.
And, we already have a Vote 22 update! Former US Congressman and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta announced his run for governor this morning. The Republican made the announcement on Twitter at 6 a.m.. I know we're in a pandemic, but it really wasn't the way to grab a lot of attention, fast. It almost snuck in under the radar.
Barletta already has plenty of name recognition and a strong base. It wasn't enough to propel him in to the United States Senate in 2018. He lost to Bob Casey by 13 points. But, it's a new year, and a new race, and in many ways, it's a new world. Understatement of the day, but 2022 will be extremely interesting.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
I spent four years of my educational life in Olyphant, so the mere mention of the name induces a deep pain in my stomach.
However, there are bright spots, and this is one of them-- borough hall. This is a shot from a spring time morning, the sun rising off to the left.
I applaud the borough for trying some new things-- like improving the parking situation and encouraging people to visit downtown businesses. Small towns make our area special and this is one of them.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
This grand building was almost torn down. Thankfully, people with vision and banks with money stepped in to save it.
It's a spectacular building, right at one of the entrances to the city and I'm sure there is a "wow" factor for visitors.
I'm sorry I am too young to remember when this building was really popping.
Every time I pass, I think of how lucky we are that it's still around.
Friday, May 14, 2021
The A's have played in the Oakland Coliseum since moving west in 1968, a stadium they had to share with the NFL's Raiders for a long time. It ended when the Raiders moved to Las Vegas.
The A's have been trying to get a new stadium for years, but the team, its ownership, government leaders in northern California, the state of California, and the San Francisco Giants could never get their act together. Yes, the Giants are involved because that team controls territorial rights in that part of NORCAL.
So, for years, the team played in a dump. Chicken and egg. Is there a lack of fan support because of a bad stadium, or is the lack of a good stadium due to weak fan support?
Regardless, the bungling Major League Baseball commissioner has given the Athletics permission to start looking at moving to another city.
Where? Las Vegas comes up most often. 115 degrees on a summer day. You need to build a very expensive dome. Portland? Too close to Seattle. Nashville? Maybe. Charlotte? It has problems supporting a minor league team. Montreal? How did that work out the first time?
At this point, anything is better than Oakland.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Sometimes, television gets it right. "St. Elsewhere" never had huge ratings, but it was a quality show that attracted an audience advertisers liked, and NBC stuck with it for six years and 137 episodes. Lloyd's character had the title "chief of services." In a lot of medical series, a character like that had to be mean, the villain. Dr. Auschlander did what he had to do, but it was done with warmth and compassion-- something that set "St. Elsewhere" apart from other series in that genre.
Lloyd could play the heavy. Just watch "Dead Poets Society."
I loved his voice. Norman Lloyd was one of those actors who improved everything he touched.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The first was my recording of the Prospector's podcast last week. It drops in mid June. We talked about my old college and professional radio days, plus rock and roll.
The second was Billy Joel's 72nd birthday over the weekend.
The first song I played on WVMW FM, the Marywood radio station, in December 1979 was the title cut from Billy Joel's "The Stranger" album.
The last song I played on WVMW FM, in January 1983 was the same as the first.
There is no real significance. I simply liked the song quite a bit, and I still do.
Back then, in high school and college, I had a blanket Billy Joel rule. I loved it all.
Now, I'm a bit more selective. Some of it wasn't very good and "What was I thinking?" constantly runs through my head.
The moral to the story? Times change. Tastes change and refine, but the classics remain classics.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
I have a salt shaker, even though I rarely use it. I get far more than my recommended daily intake in prepared foods, and I know that's wrong. Apologies to my doctor.
It seems plain old table salt is now frowned upon. It's good enough for me-- even with its anti clumping chemical agents and added iodine.
An Amazon search turns up sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, flaked salt, smoked salt, bamboo salt, Celtic salt, and black salt. Cooks seem to favor Kosher salt. There are no additives. I side with the late, great Julia Child. She didn't like Kosher salt's big crystals because they didn't dissolve easily.
The bottom line is that, in a recipe, it's hard to tell the difference, maybe impossible.
Give me the cheap stuff.
Monday, May 10, 2021
My message app pinged last week. It was The Prospector, who does mornings on Rock 107. He and I are old friends. We worked for the same radio company, but on different stations, in the 80's. We went to Marywood at different times, so those who wear the green and white stick together.
Anyway, Prospector is starting a podcast and he asked if I would be his second guest. I agreed, and after WNEP management approved, we settled on a Thursday afternoon recording time.
As much as I like Prospector, dread set in Thursday morning and it grew worse as the day progressed. Would I be interesting? Would I say something stupid? Would there be a slip that would land me in hot water with America?
I worried for nothing. Prospector is a good interview,er and he already knew the answers to the questions before he asked them, like a good lawyer. I think some old background things did surprise him a little, the history of me.
The 45 minutes flew by and I had a lot of fun. I love talking about my old radio days and I can do that endlessly.
I've considered a podcast of my own, but until I come up with a really good idea, it remains on the back burner.
If you're a regular blog reader, nothing you will hear will surprise you.
My podcast appearance is tentatively scheduled to drop, as the kids say, June 11. I'll provide a link and I'd appreciate it if you gave it a listen.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
As you can see from the high and low lights, I caught a truck turning from Jefferson Avenue on to the Central Scranton Expressway. Another vehicle was passing in front of me, heading toward Lackawanna Avenue.
Two vehicles are better than nothing.
And, there is one minor victory. I managed to get a starburst effect from the street lights, which is simply achieved by choosing a small aperture.
Saturday, May 8, 2021
It seems that most photographers prefer slow shutter speeds when shooting moving water. See last week's blog entry. I'm the total opposite. I like the fast shutter speeds to you can really see the violent motion of the water. The shot you see above had a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second.
The shot you see below had the shutter open for 1/160 of a second.
Like last week's picture, this is a waterfall just off Route 6 in Honesdale.
If you are in the area, check it out. It's directly behind a coffee shop, with a parking area and a safe area to watch mother nature's show.
Friday, May 7, 2021
For the past few years, I've fallen victim to the big scam where your storage people tell you you need more room and it will cost you $3 a month to get it. I finally decided I was wasting my money and I canceled the additional storage.
My next task was to delete enough photos to get me under the limit. I discovered it wasn't difficult.
The photos that I really liked were backed up elsewhere, and I even burned some CD's back in the day.
Here is the embarrassing part. It wasn't difficult to decide what to delete because so many photos I took were simply awful. Back in the early days, I shot just about everything on "automatic." "Automatic" doesn't mean perfect. That's why there are other settings on the camera. And, even "automatic" can't fix bad framing.
On the positive side, it was nice to see where I was, to see where I am today-- far from perfect, but a lot better than those early days.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
I had to stop in a cell phone store the other day because I needed to make a change to my account. I got one foot in the door when a "customer service" rep (word used loosely) met me at the door. He asked what I needed. I responded that I had to talk to someone about my account. He handed me a paper and told me to call the number on the sheet.
Forget that I also wanted to walk around the store and check out new models. The "customer service" rep just wanted me gone. I do understand they are trying to limit store traffic during the current situation, but the store really wasn't busy during my visit.
I had some other errands to run, and I called the toll free number when I got home. After being on hold for at least five minutes, I found someone who took care of what I needed, but not until I jumped through a bunch of hoops, including verification texts, and resetting pins and passwords. It took longer than expected. The man on the phone explained he was working from home and a major thunderstorm has just passed through Atlanta. For some reason, it slowed computer traffic.
If I stayed in the store, I might have seen a model, I liked and I am long overdue for an upgrade. Note to business people: people spend money in stores, not while they are stuck on hold.
There is a better way to do things.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Tiffany's is coming out with a line of engagement rings for men. I'm sure other jewelers will follow suit.
How do I feel? Why not!?
It's a nice way of showing commitment, and if it's good enough for one half of the couple, it should be good for the other.
Would I wear one? Tough call. I don't like jewelry. I wear a watch, but only on work days. Upon maternal insistence, I got a high school graduation ring. I wore it once-- the night I graduated. It's been in the box ever since. I knew I would never wear it, and graduating from high school was no major accomplishment. I thought the whole ring thing was silly, but I fell victim to convention. I did get a chuckle out of my best friend on graduation night. He loved his ring, and, of course, forgot to wear it to the ceremony.
College was a much more meaningful accomplishment. I didn't buy a ring. See paragraph above. I knew I would never wear it.
There is no engagement on my horizon, so a new ring is a moot point. I do give a lot of credit to Tiffany's for finding a new source of revenue.
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
My trips are limited to work, the supermarket, and the mini mart on $1 Texas Weiner day. I can go two weeks, maybe even a little more, between fill ups.
I think I'm like most Americans-- I have a few gas station branded credit cards that get you a few cents off a gallon. Over the course of a year, it probably saves me enough to buy a peppermint pattie (small, generic brand).
Is it too much to ask gas station operators to maintain their pumps so they spit out a receipt the way it should. Very few function the right way. It means walking in to the store to get one from the clerk, and being forced to wait behind a line of people looking to pick up their Cash 5 tickets. Or, you can just skip it, and write it down when you get home.
You see, I'm a fanatic about credit card receipts, and even clerks these days assume you don't want one. They rarely ask. Hey, I want mine!
I've done too many stories on skimmers at pumps, fraud and identity theft. Retailers could help fight crime by getting their equipment working the right way.
Monday, May 3, 2021
I passed by a school the other day and saw children in a playground. I hadn't seen that in a long time. Sad times in which we live.
The asphalt plants have been open for weeks. Why are streets still a mess?
Academy Awards ratings were in the tank this year. Was anyone surprised? Theaters were closed and no one heard of the movies up for Oscar consideration.
Retired astronaut Michael Collins died Wednesday. Cancer. 90. He orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the lunar service. Collins is called the "forgotten astronaut," and that is just sad. He played a major role in the success of Apollo 11.
I tried, I really tried, to get in to the NFL draft Thursday night. It wasn't happening. Even on the radio, it all seemed so forced.
One of the great joys of life: diet peach iced tea.
I've tried tri-fold wallets a few times over the years and I just don't like them.
Can "Jeopardy!" please just pick a host, already?
Dandelions on the lawn never bothered me.
I stumbled across "Bad Teacher" on one of the cable channels over the weekend, a movie I saw in a theater years ago. it wasn't a great film, but it was darned entertaining.
Why does every sports highlight show think every clip has to have music behind it?
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Note to self: If you want to scratch the itch, pick a time when there is actual traffic.
This is the 3:30 am view at Spruce and Jefferson in Scranton. I had the shutter open for 30 seconds.
The expedition was not a total loss. It looks like a great intersection to get some shots and I'll be back.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
I seem to be in the minority.
Most photographers favor the slow shutter speeds, so the moving water takes on a smooth, silky, and milky appearance. I tried it at the Lackawanna River at Peckville a month ago, with underwhelming results.
You see, when you leave the shutter open on a sunny day, the photo gets overexposed, no matter how much you choke down the aperture.
The solution-- get a filter, a version of sunglasses for your camera. It allows less light in to the camera, so you can keep the shutter open longer. I used my new filter for the first time a few weeks ago at a waterfall in Honesdale. By the way, why did I never know this was here, and I've been in this part of Wayne County dozens of times?
The filter works nicely, and I will admit that I need more work with it.
It really doesn't take long to get the desired effect. In the top photo, the shutter was open for five seconds. In the middle photo, it was open for 1/5 of a second, and in the third, the shutter was open for six seconds.
You'll see the opposite, next week, in this very space.