Thursday, December 8, 2022

It. Defies.Analysis!

 

It was one of those stories I had to read multiple times because I just couldn't believe it.

Police in Taylor are looking for the guys who placed a credit card skimmer on an employee manned register at Walmart in Taylor.  Police say it took only seconds to install, but here's the part that's unbelievable:  NO ONE NOTICED IT FOR TWO WEEKS!

I can understand if the skimmer was at a gas station, where bandits sneak in during the dead of night to install the skimmer when no one is around.  But, this was a crowded big box stores, with cameras everywhere.  Police suspect one guy installed the skimmer while the other three distracted the cashier.  I get that.  There is just so much here that makes absolutely no sense.

You would think a store with people all over the place would be safe.  Guess again.  So many cards are tap-and-go now.  Obviously, we need more, along with better technology in stores.  Walmart also needs people to make the rounds to check their machines on a regular basis.

I guess you aren't safe anywhere these days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Cheers

 

I was very saddened to read Kirstie Alley died the other day.  Cancer is a horrible disease, and 71 is far too young to go.  Alley was a talented, attractive and funny woman.

She has a place in my heart because she was a game show person, having appeared on Match Game and Password Plus in the 70's.

An earlier blog entry pointed out all the things that keep me out of the mainstream.  Today, we can add another.  I didn't like Cheers.

I thought the first few years were mildly amusing.  The Sam, Coach, and eventually Woody characters were likeable.  Diane became annoying, and Cliff was even worse.  Norm was a one joke character.

I will give Kirstie Alley credit for replacing an established character in a popular series and making it work.  That's tough to do, especially in a comedy.  Mike Farrell and Harry Morgan did it on MASH.   Woody Harrelson did it on Cheers.    I'm sure there are other success stories, although I can't recall them.

My sympathy is sent to Alley's family, friends and fans.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Home to Roost

 

I remember when CNN first appeared on my cable system.  It was several months after its June 1980 debut.  Regardless.  It was like crack for a news junkie.  News in the morning.  News in the middle of the day.  Prime news!  CNN used to produce some outstanding sportscasts.  I loved it.  I couldn't take my eyes off it.

The years passed, and I think we took CNN for granted.  We went there when something major happened.  Otherwise, it was background noise.  FOX hit the scene with some solid newscasts, but also some opinion based programming.  That programming struck a chord with a big section of the American population.   CNN's ratings suffered.  Forgetting that the view is better from the high road, CNN embarked on its own brand of opinion based programming.  The ratings suffered.  CNN clearly was delivering a product people didn't want.

The chickens have some home to roost.

CNN last week axed a bunch of people and there are more to come.  It's sister network, HLN, has been gutted and it will have no live programming.

As an aside, I loved HLN when it was known as Headline News, and it delivered 48 half hour newscasts a day.  It was a great way for a quick news fix and an easy avenue to get up to date, and fast!

HLN's Robin Meade and her "Morning Express" is among the casualties.  Meade and that show were only the most watchable person and show on either network.  I hope some other organization realizes her value and talent, and snatches her up quickly.

New CNN management is apparently trying to drag the network back to the middle, and that's a good thing.  I'm sorry some good people are paying the price for the bad management of the past.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Unfinished Monday

 

Regular blog readers know I like trains.  Congress last week stepped in to try to avoid a rail strike set for later this week.  It's funny how we don't realize the value of freight trains until we are on the verge of losing them.

Two days late, but Luzerne County finally certified the results of the midterm election.  We still don't know why things went off the rails (another train reference) last month.  I have no doubt the district attorney will do a fair and thorough investigation.  Still, the optics would have been a lot better is someone from outside the county handled the probe.

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie died last week.  79.  Songs from the glory days of Fleetwood Mac are as good and timeless as anything every produced in this era.  Think about it.  So many of Fleetwood Mac's hits fit in on rock stations, adult contemporary stations, oldies stations, top 40 stations...  Few groups or individuals accomplished that.

"Parade" disappeared from the Sunday newspapers last month, as was noted here.  Now, the Washington Post is ending its Sunday magazine section.  Ten people lose their jobs, and a once great newspaper becomes less great.  It's just one more reason to drop that subscription and get your news somewhere else.  The business is its own worst enemy.  Give people a reason to buy the paper.

On that same note, CNN axed a bunch of people last week.  That one deserves an entry of its own.  Tomorrow.

I recently prattled on about GSN's original productions.  Some are pretty good.  Others are awful.  I watched the latest, "Tug of Words," a few times last week.  It's actually a fun little game.  There some issues, but there is potential here.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Andy's Angles: Trees on the Square

 

I have no desire to decorate.  I don't have the skills to do it.  I do enjoy looking at the work of others.

Here are five of the trees that are part of the Festival of Trees on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.  There will be 25 trees here, each decorated by a different organization.  It's part of a Toys for Tots fundraiser.

It's a nice glow on a dark night.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

About the Cover

 

The December blog header is always a challenge.  The goal is to present something Christmassy, but many of the big displays don't get rolling until after December 1.  By the way, I have no problem with that.  An extended Christmas season makes the time less special, at least to me.

The borough of Throop has upped its holiday game in recent years.  This is a photo of the municipal building.  Santa, and the snow man at the far right wave.  I used a long exposure to capture the hands in different positions.  There was a bonus in the header photo, as an SUV passed by and created some light trails for me.  The building at the far left is the police station.

In retrospect, I tried to do a little too much here.  The shot is wide.  My sin is trying to capture the entire property.

A special shout out to the police officer who stopped to ask me what I was doing when I was taking this photo, a little after 2 AM on Black Friday morning.  I thought a giant camera on a tripod in front of me was a dead giveaway.  Hey, she was just doing her job.  I'm glad, and secure in the fact that she cared enough to stop to ask.

Happy holidays, and please have a safe month!

Friday, December 2, 2022

In Appreciation

 

I don't watch a lot of television, and most of what I do watch (except the news) is old.  Some things jumped out at me while doing a little channel surfing in recent weeks.

There was a "Soap" marathon on Antenna TV just before Thanksgiving.  The first two years were great.  The last two were a little too "out there" for me.  One thing, or one person, is constant, Katherine Helmond.  She played Jessica Tate and hit every scene in which she appeared out of the park.  There were light moments.  There was some downright daffiness.  She could do the sad and dramatic scenes, too.  Helmond never received her due for her work on "Soap."

I loved "Barney Miller" from the pilot to the finale, and I do manage to catch an episode or two most days.  The performances, all of them, were great.  What strikes me when I watch again is the quality of the writing and the timing of the delivery.  Jack Soo didn't have many lines, but he added so much to that show.

Two of the main "Scrubs" characters are now in a cell phone commercial, leading to even more speculation there will be a reunion show, a limited series, or a movie.  The talk has been out there for years.  It's seemed to increase in intensity lately.  Even though "Scrubs" is one of my favorite shows of all time, I wish they would just leave it alone.  You can't go back.  You can't improve it.  Just sit back and marvel at some great episodes.

GSN recently put the original "Card Sharks" and "Family Feud" back on the schedule.

"Card Sharks" was one of those shows where everything worked.  It was a simple and fun game, easy to play along at home.  Great set.  Great theme.  Great host, Jim Perry.  He moves the game along and appears to have fantastic fun doing so.  I always believed Jim Perry's hosting skills were underrated.

Richard Dawson WAS "Family Feud.  The producer in me timed it out the other day.  Dawson is introduced.  He plays kissy touchy feely with the contestants, and it's a whopping six minutes before they actually start to play the game.  I know Dawson's charm was part of the attraction, but SIX MINUTES before the first question!?!?  Unreal.  Drew Carey is taking bids on "The Price is Right" less than one minute after appearing on stage.


But the big story is GSN greenlighting a new version of "Split Second."  The show first appeared in the early 70's with Tom Kennedy.  It was tough for a contestant because you had to be smart and fast.  It must have been a bear to host because the game moved so quickly.  I want to have high hopes here, but most GSN original productions are rather cheesy.  There are some exceptions.  Years ago, "Inquisition" was fantastic.  "America Says" is a fun way to spend a half hour.  "The Chase" is very good, and I really don't like what ABC did with it.  "Master Minds" is a good quiz.  The Chuck Woolery version of "Lingo" was great.   On the other hand, "People Puzzler" is exceptionally stupid.  "Chain Reaction" is a good game with poor execution and they seem to seek out the dumbest contestants to play. "Catch 21" and "Common Knowledge" needed better hosts.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Counting the Days

 

It's time for my annual thing that helps me trudge through a long, dark, cold winter.

Do the math.  The three coldest months of the year are December, January, and February.  It's roughly 100 days, so that makes every day during those three months one per cent of the roughest season of the year.

It's similar to the "one foot in front of the other" principle.  One day at a time.  It eventually ends.

I saw some long range forecasts.  They generally call for a slightly warmer and slightly milder winter.  You know how I feel about those things.  With apologies to my meteorologist friends, it's, at best, a guess.  Any forecast period of anything longer than one week just doesn't work for me.  How about that viscous hurricane season they predicted in the spring?  How many hit the USA?  Two?  Granted, Ian was a biggie, but the atmospheric Armageddon never really materialized.

It's strange to say, but I don't dread winter as much as I once did.  You will find the days move faster as you age.  When you're a kid, the school year seems like an eternity.  It takes forever to get that drivers license.  The time crawls before you can get into a bar to have a drink.  After that, ZOOM!

The cold can be dealt with.  Grab that puffy coat and a hat.  Snow, well, not so much.  Stay home if you can.  Drive carefully if you can't and make sure your vehicle is in good shape.

I'll be counting the days.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Already

 

As someone who works the overnight shift on weekends, there are certain times of the year you really dread.  One of them is the period right after high school and college graduations.  Crashes spike.  Injuries.  Many of the victims are young people who are out celebrating.  Alcohol is often involved.  Many times, it's just youthful carelessness.

It appears the other dreaded time of the year began early.  Early and mid December weekends is Christmas party time.  It's the same as the summer danger period.  Crashes spike.  People get hurt.  Or worse.  We seemed to have more than the usual number of crashes over Thanksgiving weekend.  Anomaly?  Perhaps.  Party season beginning early?  Could be.

I have nothing against the responsible use of alcohol, but do us all a favor and stay off the roads.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Out of Touch

 


I consider myself your average American, but there are times when I find myself out of the mainstream.  Cases in point:

Sorry, World Cup fans.  Soccer bores me.

People enjoy the big wheel on "The Price is Right."  I find it tedious.  Use the time to play another game and simply take the show's top two winners for the showcase round.

In a similar vein, I've never warmed to "Wheel of Fortune."  It must be something about wheels.

I love hamburgers and I adore a good meatloaf.  I'm a big cheesesteak fan.  I do make an occasional Arby's expedition.  However, a big hunk of steak or a bloody prime rib nauseates me.  I can't remember the last time I've had a steak.  Prime rib?  Never.

I also can't remember the last time I had a cup of coffee, and I marvel at how people wait in long lines for overpriced brews.

You can line up the country's leading light beers.  I can't tell the difference. 

You can line up the country's leading seltzers.  I can't tell the difference.

I loved those Thanksgiving morning parades as a kid.  Now?  You could run video of a parade from twenty years ago and I couldn't tell the difference.

I've covered oodles of football and baseball games over the years.  The last time I watched a football game, recreationally and in person, was the Scranton Eagles and that must have been thirty years ago.  Games attended since the Red Barons became the Yankees/Railriders:  1

I've never seen any of those zombie TV shows and I don't stream anything.  I never found "Seinfeld" funny and you know how I detest "The Office."

I can identify Taylor Swift in a photo.  I don't know any of her music.

I cannot seriously think about Christmas until the middle of December.

I actually drive the speed limit!

Out of touch, and proud of it.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Cyber Monday

 It's the less complicated version of Black Friday, which I railed against last week.

Today is Cyber Monday, a day when millions of people will spend billions of dollars shopping on-line.  The big retailers are said to be offering discounts.  It's usually on things I don't need.

While I support buying local as much as possible, Cyber Monday has become a must in my book.  Stores don't have the variety they once did.  They aren't open as long as they were in the old days.  When you work odd hours, you have to shop during even more odd hours.  By the way, I will be very happy if stores and fast food joints went back to 24/7.  However, and sadly, I believe those days are gone for good.

Keep a close eye on those credit cards and the sites you choose to visit.

I only need a few things and I have them scoped out.  It's just a matter of finding, clicking, and praying it all arrives before Christmas.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Andy's Angles: Farewell

 

It's become an unofficial tradition of mine-- head to the Scranton Farmer's Market off BarringAve. and pick up a couple of Thanksgiving pies.

I was there around 11:30 AM Wednesday, a half hour before the official opening, and the crowd was already starting to build.  People were grabbing fall vegetables, plus plus plenty of apples and baked goods.  It was a beautiful morning-- sunny and not too cold.

I picked up my pies, chatted with a few people and took off before it got crowded.

The market closed for the season Wednesday evening.

I'll see you in July!

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Andy's Angles: Another Bridge

 

Okay, one last Pittston area bridge shot before I move on to other things.

I had another angle of this one a few weeks ago.  This is that railroad bridge over the Susquehanna, just north of Pittston.  This is a late October shot, hence the greenery.  Twig season had yet to arrive.

I'm on the west side, getting a surprisingly good sun angle for the early morning hours.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Black Friday

 


It's not what it used to be, but Black Friday is still one of my least favorite days of the year.  

Even though the internet has reduced the traditional shopping frenzy,  a big part of it is still there.

I do realize money is tight, especially this year.  If hanging out on a cold sidewalk for hours helps you keep family and friends happy, and if it helps you make your holiday budget, go for it.  I also know that some families view Black Friday shopping expeditions as a bonding experience.  Once again, go for it.

I'm lucky.  My Christmas list is very short.  I'll spend the day organizing photos and putting together this year's Top Ten list.  It's one of my traditional Black Friday activities.  I'll also turn in around noon so I can be at the office late tonight.

Please, Be safe and patient today.  Remember the retail workers, one of the toughest jobs out there, especially at this time of the year.

Take a little time to get caught up on the news, and that's my job tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Some years are tougher than most, and this is one of them.

We have all something for which to to be thankful for at Thanksgiving.  You might have to look really hard, but it's there.

It's is more than dinner.  Remember the good things, and make the best of the day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Travel Day

 

I have so much for which to be thankful, and on this day before Thanksgiving, I'd like to highlight one:  I don't have to go anywhere.

On this busiest travel day of the year, I have nothing to do and no place to go.  This is one of my normal work "off" days, so I'll be napping or tooling around with the computer.

In years past, I've done more than my share of holiday travel stories.  Highways.  Airports.  Bus stations.  I feel so sorry for those caught up in the frenzy, but the reward of spending time with family and friends is worth it.

This is also one of the biggest party nights of the year because it's the first really big holiday with the kids home from college and no work tomorrow for most of us.

In spite of repeated pleas from law enforcement and a dozen other groups to be careful, go slow and allow for plenty of extra travel time.  There will be some carelessness.  It's natural.  Everyone is in a hurry.

Be careful and I'll call you back later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Do I Have to Repeat Myself?

 

This Twitter nonsense gets more insane by the day.

You can just choose not to participate, and that's fine.  There is no law, at least not yet, that says we all must have Twitter accounts.

Someone at a think tank believes journalism suffers if Twitter goes away.  Nonsense.  Utter nonsense.  We'll just have to do things the way they should be done-- by actually communicating with sources for quotes and information,  rather than waiting for the stuff to fall in to our laps in the form of a Tweet.  What Tweets did Woodward and Bernstein use when they were tracking down the Watergate scandal?  What was Murrow's handle?  Can you see Cronkite with his nose buried in a smart phone, checking to see what Taylor Swift is up to?

Feedback and criticism?  Just pick up a pen and paper.  Grab a stamp.  I'm sure the United States Postal Service can use the business.

Maybe we can use our best judgement and experience to craft stories, rather than waiting for the social media world to react.

Socially?  For fun?  I like my friends, but I don't need to know what you had for lunch.

Considering all the other problems in the world, why are we wasting so much time with this?

Twitter is only 16 years old.  We did just fine before it.  We can survive its demise.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A Very Mick Christmas

 

Christmas is coming.  Some radio stations have already flipped to an "all Christmas" format.  To my radio brethren stuck with that, good luck.  I don't know how you do it.

In the old days, before the internet and satellite radio, Christmas music on the radio meant one particular cassette came out of my rack. Yes, cassette.  This was a long time ago.

It was "Hot Rocks" from the "Rollng Stones."  It's a greatest hits LP, with all the really good early stuff.  I would play that cassette endlessly from late November to early January.  It was my oasis away from Christmas music.

I still have the cassette.  I still have an aversion to Christmas music.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Andy's Angles: The Bridge

 

Regular blog readers know I really like shooting along the Susquehanna at Pittston.

Today, it's something a little different.  I'm usually on the east side.  This shot is from the west.  It was taken in late October, so that's why there is plenty of foliage.

This is the Fort Jenkins Bridge, built in 1924.  Penndot admits it needs work.  This bridge is even more important now, because the adjacent bridge is closed.

Mixed feelings.  A newer wider bridge is important to the area's economy.  Not to mention the convenience for people living here.  On the other hand, it would be sad to lose architecture like this.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Andy's Angles: Conrail Blue

 

This shot was a serous contender for header photo, but I went in another direction.  Maybe, I'll shoot it again in the months to come and place it up top.

A company that makes parts for trains recently consolidated its operations, expanded, and wound up in a building in Exeter.  A big feature is an old Conrail caboose in the parking lot, still bearing that unmistakable shade of Conrail blue.

It looked great in the early morning fall sun and it thrills me that some history is preserved.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Friday Scrapple


 Let's do a scatter shot as we head in to the weekend...

I caught one of Amazon's NFL games on an NFL Network replay.  Al Michaels is as great as ever, and his new partner, Kirk Herbstreit is very good.  It's too bad the pair has been stuck with lousy games.

I don't dislike Thanksgiving, however, there isn't any Thanksgiving food I really crave.

Speaking of which, I don't cook anything, but I do enjoy watching people roast turkeys on TV.

And on a similar note, the prices are outrageous, but there is something fun about the supermarket in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

I'm still amazed that people are bent out of shape about Twitter.

The excuses on Philadelphia sports radio the morning after the Eagles lost this week were hilarious.

Above normal temperatures in June, July, and August are bad.  Above normal in the late fall is good, and it was nice while it lasted.

I'm never "in" to Christmas, and I can't really even think about it until mid December.

I like peppermint.  I like Frostys.  However, a peppermint Frosty doesn't quite work for me.

Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania are underrated areas-- until it snows.

CNN is cutting down on the drinking during its new year's eve broadcast.  Are the adults finally in charge over there?

I realize I'm not in her target audience, but I just don't get Taylor Swift.

Frightening is:  when you know the names of all the "Deal or No Deal" models, but you can't remember your newsroom computer password.

God bless Buffalo.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

A Sad Week

 

It's been a sad week.

The comedian known as Gallagher died Friday.  I found him amusing at times, but he really wasn't my thing.  I will give him credit for the Sledge O Matic routine, which vaulted him to stardom.   It was wildly inventive and quite funny.  Gallagher was 76.

Jim Bohannon died Saturday.  He did an overnight network talk show and an early morning news broadcast.  I liked the news rather than the talk show.  The talk show, inherited when Larry King stopped mailing it in and moved to television, was rather mild.  Bohannon got the best out of his guests, but his style was rather tame and not really compelling.  Bohannon's news broadcasts were a different story.  He had gravitas, but also a wonderfully warm, folksy charm.  Great pipes.  Jim Bohannon was a member of the Radio Hall of Fame.  He retired recently and died at the age of 78.

Bob Uguccioni also died Saturday.  He was 87.  Bob ran the Pocono Mountain Visitor's Bureau for a very long time.  Bob WAS the Poconos.  His family was in the hospitality business, and Bob was largely responsible for bringing thousands of people, and millions of dollars, to the Poconos over the years.  He had the job at a tough time.  The Poconos resorts were showing their age.  Atlantic City got gambling first, and that siphoned off plenty of business.  Competing with the nearby Catskills was also a challenge.  Bob was never afraid of a television camera, in good times or bad.  I enjoyed talking with him, and this area is better off because Bob Uguccioni was one of its big advocates.

TV writer and producer David Davis died November 4.  His projects included Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart and Taxi.  I'd say the man had a more than fair track record.  Trivia:  He married Julie Kavner, Rhoda's TV sister and the voice of Simpsons characters.  David Davis was 86.  On behalf of lovers of great classic television, Mr. Davis, thank you very much.

Robert Clary died yesterday.  Louie LeBeau from "Hogan's Heroes."  Clary was the last surviving member of the original cast.  "Hogan's Heroes" was just so absurdly funny, and it still makes me laugh.  Corporal LeBeau was pretty much relegated to the sewing and cooking.  Yet, he was a vital part of the unit.  Clary last his entire family in concentration camps, and he spent 31 months on them.  After the TV series, it was on to a few daytime soaps.  Robert Clary was 96 years old.

Sunday newspapers became even less special Sunday.  Parade Magazine published its last issue.  It's now an on-line only "publication."  You were never going to go out of your way for Parade, but it is a light and breezy, fun and colorful little insert.  It was a nice read.  I'm sorry it won't be in my paper every week, and it's one more reason to skip buying the print version of the Sunday paper.  It first appeared in 1941.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

18

 


It's hard to believe.  There are young people graduating from high school who have never known a life without this blog.  Yes, this humble little effort turns 18 today!

What began as something designed to get more original content to WNEP.com has branched out in to general musings and rather mediocre photography.  While hits received will never rival Google, there is a loyal core of readers.  The number has remained consistent, and I thank you.   The consistency is a marvel because Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have long eclipsed blogs as places to turn for thoughts and ideas.

There are days when coming up with a topic is difficult, but most days I can offer something-- thoughts, feelings, a little news analysis, a little song, a little dance...

I've never really warmed to other social media sites, but I do understand their purpose.  I do pop up there from time to time.  Still, this blog remains my preferred avenue.

On to year 19.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

I Stand Corrected

 

I've been doing this radio and TV news thing for an awfully long time, and there are many days when I feel I've seen and heard it all.

But then, Luzerne County comes to the rescue with something new.

Producer Brigid and I were working to put together the noon news one week ago when the telephone calls and emails started to deluge the newsroom.  Several polling places ran out of paper!  Reporters Elizabeth Worthington and Chelsea Strub worked the story.  The allegations were correct.  Voting machines were sent out without the required amount of paper.

I can almost understand this if it was close to poll closing time and it was an exceptionally busy day.  But, some polling places ran out of paper as early as 9:00 am.  That means somebody, and possibly more than one person, dropped the ball.  The paper supply wasn't checked.  It slipped through a crack that shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Efforts at damage control were feeble, at best.  No one got out in front of this thing.  Instead of corralling the flames, the county threw gasoline on them.

At a Monday night election board, the dreaded "internal investigation" was discussed.  That's right.  Leave the investigation to the people who messed it up in the first place.  Someone from the outside has to be brought in to take a good, hard, and independent look at what happened, find the cause, and make sure it never happens again.

In this day and age where even the slightest mistake triggers conspiracy theories and allegations of fraud, this is inexcusable.  Accountability.  Transparency.  Professionalism.  Competence.  Plain old common sense.  It's not difficult.

You deserve better.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Tweet This

 

The turmoil at Twitter, now under a new owner, is making headlines these days, including stories in the major metropolitan newspapers and the network evening news.

I'm sorry hundreds of people are losing their jobs.

Other than that, who cares?  It's Twitter!

You lived just fine before Twitter first appeared 16 years ago.  You'll be just fine if it goes away.  Does losing that blue verified check mark really impact your life?  You'll likely be better off if Twitter disappears.

There are a lot of problems in the world.

Fears Russia will nuke Ukraine are still out there.

Inflation is out of control.  Some of us can't afford to feed our families, heat our homes, and gas up our vehicles.

Covid-19, RSV, and every other illness.

Have you priced health care?

Read the newspaper obits and take note of all the young people dying.  Drugs.

I'm sorry, but the drama at Twitter is simply not on my list of priorities.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Andy's Angles: Infinity

 

I'm going to keep shooting this railroad bridge until I get it right, and I'm still not there.

This is the bridge crossing the Susquehanna River, just north of West Pittston.  I'm on the Exeter side, looking east.

I tried a shallow depth of field here, hoping it would heighten the "infinity" effect, and I'm still not happy.

I shall return.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

About the Cover: Streaking Again

 

It's been a while since I've had light trails here, so the beginning of a long, dark and chilly month seems like a perfect time.

Getting here has been an objective for a while.  This is where Interstate 81, Main Street and Viewmont Drive meet at the Dickson City/Scranton line.  I've had long, straight light trails here before.  I wanted to try something with some curves.

In the header photo, the headlights making an "S" pattern are exiting Interstate 81 North.  The tail lights are moving on the northbound ramp.  Main Street is in the middle.  In these shots, I'm looking toward Scranton.  Viewmont Drive is to the right.

The shot was taken around 4 am on a recent morning.  I was here too early.  I'm sure there would be plenty of traffic as the morning rush hour approached.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day

 

There are days when fewer words are better.  Today is one of them.

Today is Veterans Day.

Thank you for your service.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Geezer Moments

 

I miss the days when torn jeans were patched or thrown away.  They weren't fashion statements.

I loved CNN when it did news and MTV when it played music videos.

Radio was great when just about every station was live around the clock and employed local news departments.

Politics was better when candidates actually listened to, and answered questions, rather than spouting off their pre-programmed responses.

Speaking of politics, access to the candidates was nice.  Now, you have to go through three levels of handlers.

Life was easier when big box stores and supermarkets were open during the overnight hours.

Health care was more reassuring when every small town had at least three doctors and a few pharmacies.

Summers were glorious when every church and very volunteer fire company had a carnival.

"Send" was fun when you mailed a letter to a friend.

Traveling was a breeze before road rage and drivers who pay no attention to the speed limit.

I miss the days when we had a morning newspaper and an afternoon newspaper, and there were enough carriers for both.

The day started better when there was actually some news in the network morning shows.

When news meant Cronkite and Brinkley.

When game shows meant Kennedy and Cullen.

Sears, KMart, Kresge's, Woolworth's.

When we went to donut shops for a good donut rather than overpriced coffee.

Network NFL pre game shows had information rather than a bunch of clowns, all trying to top each other.

Christmas didn't kick in to high gear until AFTER Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Numbers

 


As this is published at midnight, there is one thing we know for sure.  Josh Shapiro is Pennsylvania's next governor.  He made it look easy.  I felt Shapiro would win easily, but the race would be closer than we expected.  I missed the mark on that one.  Doug Mastriano ran an odd campaign.  He wouldn't do interviews, and we really tried on that one.  He didn't advertise until late in the game.  By then, Mastriano's opponent had already defined him, and there was no coming back.

Everything else is too close to call here at midnight, and that is not a surprise.

A little after 1 AM, the major networks started calling Fetterman over Oz in a close race.  I got that one right, predicting Fetterman could squeak through.  In spite of Fetterman's flaws, Oz just couldn't overcome the perception  that he was a rich puppy killing guy from New Jersey, here to buy a senate seat.

Newcomer Eryn Harvey made a strong show of it in the 121st, but it was an uphill battle against Eddie Day Pashinski.

Another youthful candidate, Alec Ryncavage appears to be headed to the state house in the 119th.  The Republican bested well known Tom Williams in the primary and Democrat Vito Malacari yesterday.

James May lost another election, this time to Jim Haddock in the 118th.  I don't know what May's problem is.  Wrong message?  Are voters still making him pay for being the face of an unpopular Penndot for so many years?

Matt Cartwright leads Jim Bognet in the 8th congressional district.  Cartwright had the advantage of the power of incumbency, a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and a strong Lackawanna County base.  Bognet had a strong message and he made it close.

Look for updates as we learn more.

We do know that Luzerne County threw a major monkey wrench in to the process when it sent out machines lacking in paper.  How does this happen?

Time to start working on the "Vote 2023" graphics.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Election Day

 

Well, it's finally here.  It's election day.

Polls open at 7 am.  They close at 8 pm.

Me?  I crafted some preview stories a couple of weeks ago.  The i's are dotted and the t's are crossed.  All that can be done has been done.   I did write two new ones so we can preview one of the hotter state house races on Newswatch 16 This Morning.

My day will go something like this-- introduce the preview races on Newswatch 16 This Morning, keep my ear to the ground, check turnout, work on our noon broadcast, vote after work, lunch, and a long nap so I can be up to watch the numbers roll in tonight.

I'll likely post some updates and thoughts here today.

Watch this space tomorrow for a little analysis.  I have my ideas as to what will happen.  As always, I'll tell you when I'm right.  I'll tell you when I'm wrong.  Keep in mind, it's possible we won't know all the winners tonight.

Please, vote today.

>>>3:15 AM UPDATE:   After coordinating with producers, we made some changes on the fly.  That's election day for you.  Regular blog readers will remember I always started election day with a fast food spicy chicken sandwich and fries.  Well, the pandemic put an end to that.  The fast food restaurant is no longer a 24 hour operation.  I settled for a chicken salad sandwich and Diet Pepsi in the kitchen at midnight.

>>>9:00 AM UPDATE:   I spent the morning at a polling place in Moosic, Lackawanna County.  There was a line of about 15 when the polls opened at 7 AM, and it was a steady stream after that.  Opinion:  moderate to heavy turnout this morning, and we are hearing the same things from other polling places around the area.  There was a glitch here this morning and some votes didn't go through at the beginning.  It was quickly remedied.  Rep. Matt Cartwright voted at about 8:15.  We chatted afterward.  Typical Cartwright.  Cordial and factual, but reserved.  You will hear parts of that interview on Newswatch 16 at Noon.  Colleague Elizabeth Worthington spoke with Cartwright's challenger, Jim Bognet, and you will also hear that at noon.   For me, time to get ready for the noon broadcast.

>>>10:45 AM UPDATE:   Anecdotal evidence, but I will offer it up nonetheless...  Lackawanna County polling places appear to be on the busy side.  Wyoming County, not so much.  Luzerne also busy, and my sources out west say Union County polling places saw a brisk business this morning.

>>>11:30 AM UPDATE:    Phones and email going nuts.  Problems at several polling places.  We're working on it.  Details at noon.

>>>12:45 PM UPDATE:   Newswatch 16 at Noon is in the books, solid from top to bottom, and it was a major team effort.  I have a little more paperwork to complete, and my day is done.  Well, not really.  I'll be voting before I head home, and I hope you do the same.  Thanks for being part of the ride.  There could be some updates here later in the day, and a little analysis tomorrow.

>>>2:15 PM UPDATE:   I was voter 164 at my small town polling place.  Not awful.  Not great.  The poll workers called turnout "good."  I do not vote in Luzerne County, but if I lived there I would be demanding answers.  Duplicate ballots mailed out.  Some voters didn't receive even one.  Not enough paper in the machines today.  Why is there always a problem, every election, every year?

Monday, November 7, 2022

The Day Before

 

The clock is ticking.  The polls are open at 7 tomorrow morning, and many of you have already voted.

If you haven't, do a little homework today.  Read about the candidates.  Watch their videos.  Learn.  Think.

Some things are true for every election:  there is a lot at stake.  Much hinges on turnout.  A lot of independents and undecides make up their minds the weekend before the vote, so the time has come.  Most pundits are full of crap.  The tried and true, the conventional wisdom, went out the window a long time ago.

It really was quite a weekend, with much of the focus here in Pennsylvania.  Two former presidents and the current one were all here.  No matter your affiliation, that was rather cool and it shows how important we are.

The day before the election is one of the most important on the calendar.  Don't waste that valuable time today.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Andy's Angles: November Color

 

Halloween is over.  Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, followed by the bright lights of Christmas.

This can be a dark time of the year.  A friend in the hospitality industry tells me this is the death season for the hotel business.  Fall foliage is over, and ski season is still weeks away.  There isn't much to draw people away from home.

Having built that foundation, I offer some fall color for this potentially dreary time of the year.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Andy's Angles: Bringing Up the Rear

 

The engines get the glory.  The cabooses get the smiles.

I remember all those weekend afternoons as a kid, piled in the family car.  We always got stopped by a train, somewhere.  That wasn't difficult to do when I was young.  The cute little caboose at the end always made me happy.  They were just so darned adorable.

This one calls Steamtown home.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Let's Review!

 

Homer Simpson always begins a vacation, and the teacher always ends it.

It was a lackluster week and a half, and I'm okay with that.  I went to the gym, did a little shopping, read a little (not nearly enough), took a few photos and caught up on some sleep.  I got a hair cut, grew a beard and shaved off a beard.

There are some things I didn't get to, and I apologize to my friends.

I have a week off in December, and several scattered days before the end of the year.  It's hard to believe 2022 is almost over.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Media Notes

 

It's bee a while since I've inflicted one of these on you, so here goes...

John Sterling says he is coming back for another year in the Yankees radio booth.  Sterling is simply unlistenable.

I did something unusual on a recent Sunday afternoon-- I spent a couple of hours flipping around between various football and baseball games.  The play-by-play and color commentary were horrendous.  There were a couple of exceptions, but for the most part, it was people who talked too much and who had nothing to say.

Speaking of talking too much, the legendary Bob Costas was recently roasted for his performance on a baseball playoff series.  The criticism-- Costas wouldn't shut up.  I did catch part of one game, and I agree.  He constantly felt the need to give us a history lesson.  Bob, stay in the moment.

Those old "Deal or No Deal" shows still hold up, and Howie Mandel was simply an awesome host.

Jim Nantz says this will be his last year calling the NCAA basketball tournament.  Ian Eagle takes over on CBS in 2024.  It's funny.  Jim Nantz has been around for a long time.  He does football, golf and basketball.  Nantz is the face of CBS Sports and yet he is never mentioned during a discussion of the greats.  He is as solid as they come, but rather low key and I think his talents are overlooked.  Eagle will do OK.

An executive with a company that owns a lot of television stories feels that when NBC gives the 10 pm hour back to affiliates, CBS and ABC will follow suit.  A CBS executive doubts it will happen, but you never know.  I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it is a game changer.

I don't watch the "Daily Show."  Jon Stewart screamed too much, and the soon to depart Trevor Noah simply isn't funny.  As I read the stories on Noah's resignation, I was shocked to see how many viewers have disappeared.

New York's FM 92.3 now simulcasts one of the AM all news stations.  I don't have a problem with that.  The frequency used to be known as K Rock, Howard Stern's landing place after WNBC -AM.

CNN has made some smart moves recently, as it tries to pivot from opinion back to news.  However, I question the wisdom of building the morning show around someone whose political leanings are clearly known.

Mayim Biakik and Ken Jennings appear more confident with every "Jeopardy!" episode they host, and I've actually become used to Jennings' thin voice.

The Big 12 conference extended its contract with FOX and ESPN.  Smart move for a struggling conference.  FOX knows how to promote.  ESPN gives more SportsCenter time to leagues carried by the network.

The new owners of the CW fired dozens of people this week.

I don't care about my blue check.  I will never pay for Twitter.  I was fine before it came along.  I can easily live without it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Nasal Memories

 

My recent visit to a shoe repair shop brought back so many memories...  While I had been in this shop a few times before, my most vivid thoughts concerned the shoe shop that was near my home, as a kid.

The thing that really stood out was the aroma.  The polish, the solvents, the glues, the leather...  It was wonderful.  It might not have been the best stuff to be inhaling, but I loved it nonetheless.  Plus, you knew that upon your return visit, you would have a treasured pair of shoes back and they would look great.  I say "treasured" because this was the place you took the shoes you really liked and wanted to save.  The cheap stuff was thrown out when the stitching came loose, or you wore down the soles and heels.

There are so many places where the scent triggers memories.  Many of them concern newspapers.  Downtown Scranton used to have some great newsstands.  They were a combination of newspapers, magazines, tobacco...  I've never been a smoker.  Cigarettes nauseate me.  However, I always liked the aroma of "unsmoked" pipe tobacco and cigars.

Newspaper newsrooms had some of that, and then some.  I was inside the old Scrantonian~Tribune newsroom on North Washington Avenue several times.  Cigarette smoke was heavy in the air, and I didn't like that.  It was tempered by that wonderful ink and newsprint smell.

A good bakery?  Can't beat it.  A bacon filled diner in the morning?  Outstanding!  The tire store?  I love it.  I visited the Crayola factory just outside of Easton once.  It was the aroma of childhood, and that thrill of opening a big new box of crayons.  Sausage, peppers, and onions at a fair?  Wow!

The first skunk of springtime is a reminder that warmer weather is ahead.

I can still walk through a mall or some other public place, smell the perfume an ex used to wear and be stopped dead in my tracks.

It's a powerful sense.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

School of Hard Knocks

 

We recently ran a story on Newswatch 16, and I know parents who are going through it.  It's time to apply for help paying college tuition.

I'm hearing the horror stories.  A higher education is so expensive and you have to jump through endless and complicated hoops for grants and loans.

Let me take you back to a simpler time.  I'm not sure if it was 1978 or 1979, but it was during my senior year in high school.  There was a financial aid seminar at my high school one evening.  I went alone.  I thought I'd involve the parents once I had a feel for the system and what needed to be done.

I don't remember where the presenter was from, but I'm sure it wasn't from this planet.  He just couldn't explain things in a way students and parents could easily understand.  To say this meeting was painful would be an understatement.

There was one thing I understood quite clearly, and it came at the very end of this two hour torture session:  family income requirements.  I was lucky and unlucky at the same time.  Both parents worked.  I would be the only child in school.  We were by no means rich, but we were okay.  I was lucky the family had decent incomes.  I was unlucky in that we didn't meet the requirements for aid.

I'm not going to say the evening was wasted because I did learn a lot about the process.  I did gain a new appreciation for the less fortunate families and I was happy there was some help out there.

College was a lot cheaper between 1979 and 1983.  I don't think we spent $12,000 during four years.  That buys you a month at most colleges now.  I also picked up a part time job when I was a sophomore.  It allowed me to take care of expenses like books, gas, pizza, hoagies and clothes.

If you are in the game this year, good luck.  I know it isn't easy.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Quickly and Sadly, Forgotten

 

A couple of recent events made me sad, and both are related.

James McDivitt died October 13.  He was commander of Apollo 9 in 1969.  It was the first mission where all of the moon landing gear was tested.  Apollo 10 took it a step beyond, and Apollo 11 made the first moon landing.  McDivitt also participated in the Gemini program.  You have to read about this guy.  Korean War hero.  Amazing record.  James McDivitt was 93 years old.

Some of the smartest people in the country appear on "Jeopardy!"   That might be a bit strong.  Let's just say they are the best at trivia.  A space category popped up recently.  One answer showed a photo of the second man to walk on the moon.  All three contestants missed it.  ALL THREE!  I screamed at the television "BUZZ ALDRIN."  It just amazed me that all three were dumbfounded by something they really should have known.

On an unrelated note, actor Ron Masak died a couple of weeks ago.  86.  He is perhaps best known for playing the sheriff on "Murder, She Wrote."  With me, everything comes back to game shows.  Masak was a semi regular on the 1990-91 NBC daytime edition of "To Tell the Truth."  He was really good, frequently ferreting out the impostors and correctly voting.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Andy's Angles: Better Days

 

Yes, this is an unhappy bunch of leaves.  Splotchy color.  Rot.  Decay.  Hey, it's that time of year.   You enjoy leaf peeping season until it becomes twig season.

On to the Thanksgiving season!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Andy's Angles: A Pop of Color

 

We've lost most of the outdoor color, so you take what you can get.  

This is a pop of purple in a neighbor's yard.  I've photographed this shrub or bush before, but this appears to be the last flower of the season.

It was fun while it lasted.


Friday, October 28, 2022

Halloween Weekend

 

I don't like Halloween.  Never have.  Never will.  Even as a kid.

Life is frightening enough.  I can do without the extra scares.

I will admit to admiring some decorations and lights.  I've never been one to turn down a Snickers bar, even if it's the size of a postage stamp.  However, the bottom line on this time of year is adults have taken a fun kids' holiday and taken it to new levels of excess.  Parties.  Drinking.  Vandalism.  Arson.  Assorted mayhem.

Enough with the skeletons.  They seem to be this year's "in" decoration.  It's time to dial it back.

I'll be happy when it's over.

Have a safe weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Gone

I was looking back on my files and saw that I took some pictures of the old Tate Theater/Tony's Pizza Palace in Olyphant back on May 12th.  Demolition was imminent.  Well, sort of imminent.  A demolition crew got around to it this week, and it didn't take long.

Above is a demolition shot.  Below is before the mid May view, long before the crew got here.


It's too bad.  The building was deteriorated and it couldn't be saved.  We seem to do that a lot here-- wait too long, until rehabilitation is no longer an option and demolition is the only answer.

Borough officials are considering a pocket park for the site.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Vacation

 

Sleeping Homer is back, signaling the start of another vacation week.

This one happens to include Halloween.  There is no real significance there.  As you already know, it's not my holiday.

Even though there are signs winter is approaching, this is still a good time to burn off vacation days.  It's cool, but not cold.  The holiday frenzy has yet to arrive.  It's a good week to do nothing and that's what I intend to do.

Oh, it will be a week filled with the usual pursuits-- a little visiting, a little shopping, a little photography, a little reading and a lot of sleep.

As always, the weekend morning broadcasts are in good hands.  I'll return just in time for the last weekend before the election.

I'll call you back later!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The "A" Word

 

Today, the A stands for "awkward."  It's horrible when you are afflicted with it.  It can be charming on someone else.

I guess we are all awkward in some category.  For most, that category is social, especially in our younger years.  Some are lucky to shed it.  Others, myself included, carry it around a while longer.  Hey, there are worse things.

Moving on to someone else, the social awkwardness of the main characters in the early years of "The Big Bang Theory" was cute.  While we are not all geniuses, we all could relate.  The characters had to grow, and when they did, the show lost something for me.  I stopped watching.  I didn't need another bickering couples "comedy."

Staying with TV, Julia Child's awkwardness on camera was endearing.  Even though she possessed cooking skills the rest of us could only dream about, Julia had her moments.  You could see her squinting at the camera and the cue cards.  Some things in the kitchen went wrong.  She paused as she hunted for the right words.  She recovered and muddled through.  The awkwardness and imperfection were parts of what made Julia, Julia.

Awkwardness can also work against you.  There is a man on PBS who dies a grilling and smoking show.  I'm not a vegetarian.  I like burgers and dogs, along with chicken patties and nuggets.  On the other hand, a big hunk of bloody steak or prime rib does absolutely nothing for me.  In fact, it's just the opposite.  It makes me queasy.  Anyway, this guy is so awkward on camera, even though it's clear he knows his stuff, it makes me uncomfortable.  After a few minutes, my hand is on the remote.

Awkwardness can be your friend, or your enemy.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Sandy + 10

 

The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy slamming in to the east coast is approaching.  Even though I was far away from the eye of the storm, it does bring back some vivid memories.

The night before, I was told I would be doing my part of Newswatch 16 This Morning from Stroudsburg, the closest part of our area to the impact zone.

As I was getting dressed just after midnight, the wind was howling and the lights flickered.  I thought "This is it."  I was about to be plunged into darkness for days.  It never happened.  The lights stayed on.

I got to the office and met up with a photographer.  We loaded up a van and headed southeast to Stroudsburg.  As I always say in big storms, you know it's bad when the truckers pull off the road.  Interstates 380 and 80 were lined with idle big rigs, with the drivers smartly avoiding the brutal winds.

Our van arrived to the higher elevation between Tobyhanna and Mount Pocono.  A huge gust of wind hit us, and I swear we were going over the guide rail.  Photographer Mark Monahan kept a firm grip on the wheel, and all was well.

We arrived at the Main St. Stroudsburg exit and made the loop on the ramp in to complete darkness.  Every light in the borough was out.  We parked on Main and set up for our live broadcasts.  The only light came from our truck, our camera, and the giant flashlight I brought along.

By the way, all the experts say there are bands of wind in a hurricane, and I felt it in Stroudsburg that morning.  There would be bursts of intense wind, followed by calm.  The cycle was repeated dozens of times.

After the newscast ended, Mark and I walked around town, looking at the storm's impact.  Trees and branches down.  Closed stores.  An idle cab driver because roads were closed.  A deli struggled to keep its product cool without refrigeration.  People stuck in a hotel.  There were plenty of stories to tell.  We wrapped it up into one big ball and told it at noon.  Our day was done.  When I arrived home, I hit a commercial strip a couple of miles away from me with no electricity.  The house never lost its juice.  Lucky.

The next morning's broadcast was spent at an emergency shelter at East Stroudsburg University.  Remember, it was almost November.  It was getting cold.  No lights is one story.  No heat and no hot water is a totally different animal.  Shelter space was valuable, even if it was a night in a gym with a rapidly overwhelmed bathroom.

One moment sticks out.  A woman walked out of the shelter crying loudly.  She walked over toward our truck.  I asked what happened.  She was just told that it would be at least two weeks before her electricity would be back.  Ouch!

Lessons learned?  The electric grid is a fragile thing.  Some utilities were caught with their pants down-- under manned and under equipped.  I love trees, but we have to keep them away from power lines, impossible as that sounds.  You would think that locations a long distance from the coast are hurricane safe.  Guess again!

I would like to think the northeast came out of Sandy smarter and better prepared for future storms.  I pray we are never put to the test again.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Andy's Angles: Old Age

 

There are so many wonderful pieces at Steamtown in Scranton, and it's sad they all can't be restored.

This is a rusty relic on the tracks between the roundhouse and the mall.  I deliberately left a lot of track in the shot.  I simply liked the look.