Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Write Stuff

 

There are weeks when I can come up with several blog topics at the same time, and there are weeks like this one.  I come up with one idea per day, and they haven't been all that great.

I've always envied and admired writers.  During my courthouse reporter days, watching the print people bang out complicated stories with looming deadlines was simply amazing.

I have a carefully selected old sitcom addiction, especially "Barney Miller."  I loved how the writers were able to craft such great characters and give them awesome lines.  The early days of "MASH" were like that, too.  "Drew Carey" will not go down in history as one of the great shows, but it delivered dependable laughs every week.  I will never forget how Drew's friend, Tony, referred to the public transit bus he was driving as a "rolling box of nasty smells and busted dreams."

News requires a different skill set.  Simple.  Direct.  Accurate.  Speed.  News was once described as "history caught on the fly."  Oh, how I wish I said that first!

I might not produce any memorable lines, but I walk out the door at the end of the shift very happy if you learned something new.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

#Sad


We have had sad periods in our area many times before, and August 2022 has to be among the worst.

I spent my Monday morning at the scene of Saturday evening's horrible incident in Berwick.  I thought of the suffering at that moment Saturday evening, and the suffering that prompted the good people of the area that inspired the fundraiser at the bar.

Please do not lose sight of all the people who tried to help-- first responders, bystanders, hospital personnel, and those offering donations.

I always try this space to offer a little wisdom and perspective.  This is a tough situation to process.

Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.  I can't say I was a huge fan, but I did like some of his work.  Of course, I have immense respect for Elvis' popularity.

I remember where I was when I heard the news-- watching a "Hogan's Hero's" rerun on television.  At 6:30 pm, I turned to Cronkite.  You can see the clip of the "NBC Nightly News" on You Tube.  Watch it and experience the majesty of the great David Brinkley.  He opened the broadcast by simply saying "Elvis Presley died today."  Simple.  Direct.  Hype-less, because the story was so huge, it didn't need to be hyped.  You wouldn't get anything close to that today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The D List

 

A few weeks ago, during one of our weekend morning broadcasts, I joked with meteorologist Valerie Smock that because I work all night and sleep all day, I haven't had a tan since 1982.  

That is not far from the truth.

During a routine medical check up several years ago, my blood work showed I had no vitamin D in my body.  That's the sunshine vitamin and apparently, I wasn't seeing enough daylight.  My doctor put me on prescription supplements that were the size of a horse's rump.  I took them for a while, failed to feel any different, and gave up.

An internet search at the time showed diagnosing vitamin D deficiencies was the in vogue thing to do.  My doctor explained that most people north of the equator were deficient.  I was very fond of my doctor, now deceased,  so I took the supplements for a while.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I was listening to a Philadelphia all news radio station in my kitchen.  They did a news report on a new study that shows vitamin D supplements do nothing for bone health, and the supplements do not lessen the chance of a fracture.

So there!

I don't feel so bad about avoiding the sun.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Broadcast Monday

 

Uma Pemmaraju died last week.  Only 64.  She was one of the FOX News Channel originals, and she often did the updates on FOX News Sunday back in the early Tony Snow days.  I always enjoyed her work.  Pemmaraju didn't get in the way of the news.

Speaking of FOX News Sunday, the network decided chief legal correspondent Shannon Bream will be the permanent replacement for Chris Wallace.  Good choice.  Bream is solid without the "it's all about me" attitude that has hurt the business.  The ratings went up when she filled in, so obviously, the audience realizes something is there.

Jon Batiste stepped aside as band leader for the CBS "Late Show."  The man has been showered with awards.  I recognize the talent, even though his style of music is not my thing.  It appeared the "Late Show" producers tried to mold Batiste in to the sidekick role, in addition to band leader.  It wasn't working.

A couple of old radio chums and I were messaging and emailing about the days when radio stations actually had live DJ's on the overnight shift.  I can write a book on that, and that is another blog entry, for another time.

FOX used a hologram of the late Harry Caray at last week's Field of Dreams game.  Harry sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."  While many enjoyed it, I thought it was just plain creepy.  Even though I didn't get a chance to see it live, I do love the baseball corn field concept.  The same goes for the major league game in Williamsport.  MLB really needs to do different things to attract new fans.  I'm sorry construction will keep the cornfield game from happening next season.

I expected very little from the new "Password."  I wasn't disappointed.

You know fall is coming when all the top shelf sports talk radio hosts are taking time off before the busy NFL and baseball playoff season begins.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Andy's Angles: Frozen Water

 

When you shoot moving water, you can go in one of two directions.

You can slow down the shutter and get a nice, milky effect.

Or

You can do what I did here.  Speed up the shutter.  This photo was taken at 1/2500 of a second.

Overkill, perhaps.

What it does is freezes the motion of every water droplet, and I always think that's cool.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

About the Cover

 

It's August, the last month of meteorological summer.  For this month's header, I wanted a shot that said "summer."  

I took this one in late June, and I stuck it in my back pocket for the August header.  This is a shot of the fountains in front of the Everhart Museum at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  That's Community Medical Center at the upper left.

This isn't an award winning shot, but here is what draws me to it-- the deep rich green on the trees, the crystal clear blue sky, and the water droplets forming a rainbow.

The photo really screams "summer."


Friday, August 12, 2022

Days of Our Streaming

 

NBC dropped the bomb last week.  It's taking "Days of Our Lives" off the network and moving it to its streaming service known as Peacock.

Many feel this is the first step toward cancellation.  The producer hopes this gives the show new life and new freedom.  Yes, you will have to pay to watch it, but you will also have access to all of the previous episodes.

I really don't know.  I'm not a serial guy, but I do admit to being hooked on "The Edge of Night" several years ago.

Serials have fallen out of favor in recent years.  Big casts.  Expensive to produce.  The skew toward an older audience, and that is a tough sell to advertisers.  Networks have cancelled the serials and have replaced them with talk, or have given the time back to affiliates.  In the case of "Days of Our Lives," NBC will replace it with a news hour.

News makes sense.  It's less expensive than a daytime drama, and because it's topical, people watch it NOW.  There is no time shifting.

There are just three soaps left on network daytime TV, two on CBS and one on ABC.  The networks are just about out of the game show business, too.  There is just a pair on CBS in the morning.

That's the glory of television.  It's always changing.  I'm sorry some loyal serial fans are being left behind.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Vin

 

I've really held off writing a blog entry dedicated to Vin Scully because I'm considerably out of the mainstream here.

I respect Scully's longevity and popularity.  Unmatched in American broadcasting and I seriously doubt anyone else will ever come close.  He knew how to spin a yarn, describe a game, and get out of the way at a critical moment.  Scully had a keen sense of when to let the crowd noise tell the story.  Bravo!  People loved him.  Everything I read indicates Vin Scully was a professional, friendly, and gracious to fans and fellow broadcasters.

On the other hand...

Scully insisted on working alone, even though fans enjoy the banter between a quality play-by-play announcer and a color commentator.   In a PBS interview, Scully said his solo act wasn't ego driven.  He likened it to going to buy a car and having the salesman talk to someone else, with the customer just overhearing the conversation.  Scully said he wanted to talk directly to the listener.  OK, I get some of that, but I still like two voices.  I remember all those wonderful summer nights with Whitey and Harry doing the Phillies games, and Phil and Bill on the Yankees broadcasts.

Vin Scully was on his way to becoming the top NFL broadcaster at CBS.  The network realized it had a huge potential star in John Madden.  The network tested Madden with Scully and with Pat Summerall.  Scully kept Madden on a short leash.  Summerall let Madden run, and was better at setting up the former coach.  CBS went with Summerall, and they became one of the most successful broadcast teams in TV history.  For my money, they were better than the Monday Night Football booth with Gifford, Meredith, and Cosell.  Bottom line:  Scully need to talk less and be more of a team player.

It seems to be a pattern.  Let's take you back to the last year of NBC's baseball contract in 1989.  Joe Garagiola stepped aside and Tom Seaver followed him in to the "Game of the Week" booth on Saturday afternoons.  Seaver, at the same time, was also working Yankees' broadcasts on WPIX.  Night and day.  On WPIX, Seaver was informative, charming, funny, and engaging.  Seaver, working with Scully at NBC,  reminded me of a "speak only when you're spoken to" arrangement.  It wasn't a good listen.

When all is said and done, there are far more positives than negatives.  Vin Scully left his mark on baseball, and on America.  I doubt there will ever be another like him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

ONJ


The great thing about music is it takes you back to a time and place.  Sometimes, it's sad.  Sometimes, it's happy.

Olivia Newton John died Monday.  Cancer.  73.

To me, ONJ will always be the woman you see above.  Sweet.  Pretty.  Early 70's pop with almost a country feel.  It was a time of  dominant AM radio.  My biggest worries were studying for that junior high school history test and getting my Frisbee out of the neighbor's tree.

Dick Clark played her early pop hits on Saturday afternoons.  They were always in Casey Kasem's American Top 40 on Sundays.

Olivia Newton John's image shifted in the late 70's and early 80's.  "Grease."  "Physical."  "Xanadu."  I really didn't care for the sexed up Olivia Newton John.  It had nothing to do with her appearance.  Music from "Grease" was all over the radio, and it simply wore me out.  It was an okay movie, not a great movie.  "Physical" came around at a time when I was rocking on the radio.

Hearing her songs now, especially the early ones,  will make me sad, but I will think of when they were new, and I'll smile.


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Tuesday Scrapple

 

Over the weekend, Pete Rose proved he is still Pete Rose, a hopeless boor.  Baseball is better off without him.

It's amazing that with so many problems in the world, we are all extremely concerned about the fate of the Choco Taco.

There was a huge discussion of the snack known as Bugles in the office the other day.  Love them or hate them.

I usually start generating a little interest in the new NFL season around this time of year.  I just can't muster up the excitement.

No, I don't want a blizzard.  But, I don't want any more intense heat and humidity, either.  As long as they aren't severe, summer thunderstorms can be a thing of beauty.

In a recent blog rant concerning a lack of courtesy on the road, I neglected to mention the needless high beam issue is getting worse.

A pleasant bank teller or store clerk can make your day.

Vin Scully wasn't my cup of tea, but I did enjoy listening to Al Michaels and Bob Costas talk about him last week.  There is also a delicious You Tube clip of Scully and Dick Enberg reminiscing about the old days.  Enberg died in 2017, and I always felt he was vastly under rated.

I am not one for crowds and noise, and you won't catch me at a county fair.  However, I do enjoy the news stories and watching the video.

A local volunteer fire company recently held a chicken barbecue, and the town smelled great.

FOX Sports released a list of its NFL announcing teams.  Some familiar names.  Most unfamiliar.  Thje next generation has arrived.

I can't believe we're already talking about the Pittston Tomato Festival and the Little League World Series.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Follow Up Monday

 

REVISITING AND UPDATING SOME EARLIER TOPICS...

I made it three and a half minutes into Keith Olbermann's first podcast.  That's longer than I expected.  The man is exceptionally talented, but his rants get old fast.

Temperatures are coming down a bit, and it's not fast enough.

The first half of hurricane season was unusually quiet, but the season is still not at its peak.  Still, the forecast issued several weeks ago is suspect.

For a change, my radio rant isn't about things local.  I was listening to one of the New York all news stations the evening of July 29.  The anchor was giving the baseball scores backward.  For example, "Kansas City 0, Yankees 3."  This wasn't a fluke.  I heard her do it again!  It just made me sad.

Klondike is considering bring back a limited supply of choco tacos.  Maybe, I will get to have one some day.

In the past, I've mentioned the "summer doldrums."  It's a slow time in the news business.  Those days are long gone.  It's something new, and often something tragic, every day.

A major national newspaper company says it will undergo significant cost reductions.  I have the feeling this doesn't end well.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Andy's Angles: History

 

One of the neat things about the new section of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail is the peek at history.

About half way in to the new section between Parker Street in Scranton and the Throop line, you spot this-- the remnants of a couple of old railroad bridges over the Lackawanna River, back when coal was king.  There was a mining operation and a huge breaker here back in the day.  Some culm piles remain.  

As you stroll the trail, you can't help but think of the men who toiled here every day, and how much we owe them.

There is an active railroad track closer to Boulevard Avenue and the recycling center.  It doesn't appear to have a lot of traffic.

It's a nice section of the trail-- one that has a great blend of the old and the new.


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Andy's Angles: LRHT

 

It's been on my list of places to visit for quite a while.  There is a new section of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail stretching from Parker Street in Scranton to the Throop line, about a mile.

I slapped the 24mm pancake lens on my camera and did a little exploring on a recent brutally hot and humid Sunday morning.

There is a lot to like here-- a gently rolling paved trail, with just a couple of minor slopes.  There is a new approach to the river, near the Parker Street Bridge.  The river needs more of those to become a major recreational asset.


Clearly, this is a work in progress.  It needs a big and safe parking area, that looks like you're heading toward a trail rather than a homicide scene.  A bench or two would be nice.  Some dead wood along the river needs to be removed for a better view of the water.

It was great to see a fair amount of people were checking out the area, and this section of the trail could be among the more popular.  And, please, get a better web site!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Basketball Jones

 

I was never any good at basketball.  I don't like it.  The NCAA tournament can get interesting.  I can't say I'm an NBA fan.  Too many teams make the playoffs.  Those playoffs go on forever.  The games themselves are a mess.  The last minute often takes 15 minutes to play, at least.  Blame it on fouls and time-outs.

Having said that, reading about the career and life of the late Bill Russell was simply amazing.  He was an accomplished player, coach, broadcaster and civil rights advocate.

The reason for today's entry is something closer to home.  Lackawanna County cancelled this year's 3 on 3 basketball tournament.  The tournament was done in by a lack of interest.

I don't know if this had anything to do with it, but the tournament was scheduled for McDade Park in Scranton.  It's a beautiful park, and I'm sure participants would have had a great time there.

In past years, the 3 on 3 tournament was held on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton.  The county would erect temporary hoops.  They'd paint lines on the streets.  It was fun.  It was different.  Plus, let's face it.  Downtown Scranton needs something to add excitement and interest, especially on weekends.  Have you been downtown recently?  While there are several vibrant stores and restaurants, there is also a lot of empty space, especially along some of downtown's busiest intersections.  Check out Wyoming Avenue and Biden Street, formerly Spruce Street.  Nothing.  Empty.  As someone who grew up in a downtown that was a center of activity, it really hurts to see things the way they are now.  I will give developers credit for creating some really spectacular living space there.

Of course, the downtown tournament plan isn't perfect.  There are traffic issues when you close streets for a weekend.  It seems a small price to pay for bringing hundreds, maybe thousands downtown.  Downtown really needs something beside First Fridays, the Jazz Festival,  La Festa Italiana and the St. Patrick's Parade.

Lackawanna County says it will revisit the 3 on 3 concept next year.  I hope moving it back downtown is part of the mix.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Thursday Scrapple

 

I was listening to the Association's "Along Comes Mary" recently, and what a darned fine song it is-- the music, the lyrics, everything.

Some Major League Baseball teams traded away their best players this week.  Translation:  they quit.  How can you support a team that does that?

I'm really looking forward to the first frost.  In the meantime, just one rainy and cool day would be nice.

Berwick and now Kingston.  You know times are tough when medical facilities try to shut down.

Just about three months until the election.  Expect the nastiness to ramp up significantly.

Aaron Judge is simply having a spectacular year.

What took Will Smith so long to apologize?

If the current sagas in county government weren't so sad, they would be hilarious.

Fall football barely interests me these days, so you can guess how I feel about the XFL and USFL in the spring.

I didn't play Mega Millions.

I've never a had a soon to be discontinued Choco Taco.

Shark bite?  Moot point.  I won't be anywhere near an ocean.


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Pat Carroll

 

Almost lost in the recent and unfortunate wave of celebrity passings is Pat Carroll.  She died July 30 at the age of 95.

If you get the chance, check out the list of her work on IMDB.com.  Comedies, dramas, movies, television, cartoon voices...  I don't think there is anything Pat Carroll didn't do.

Most of my exposure to this talent came on game shows.  She was really good at "You Don't Say" and several others, including "Match Game."  Pat Carroll knew how to have fun, and still take the games seriously.  You would be amazed at how many celebrities don't get it right.  She was dependable and I suspect that's what led to so many bookings.

Pat Carroll might not be the most prominent name on the list of people we've lost recently.  She is among the most important.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Deal With It

 

Something occurred to me during my recent vacation.  I lost my love of driving.

First, $ 5 per gallon gasoline killed a lot of it.  Other drivers did the rest.

I drive the speed limit, and usually a little under.  You'll just have to deal with it.  Tailgating will not make me go faster.  If you're in that much of a hurry, you should have left home sooner.

It's sad that when people hit the road, they leave their courtesy at home.

Plus, I know construction season is here, and it wont be long before cold and snow bring it to an end.  Crews are trying to get their work done before the flakes fly.  Unfortunately, it seems like every road is under construction at the same time, and there is no comprehensive traffic management.  It's tough to get around when the main road, and the alternates, are all ripped up.

If you're looking for me, I'll be at home.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Getting It and Not Getting It

 

Keith Olbermann has a new podcast.  I've long believed Olbermann is one of the most skilled broadcasters of our time, and his last ESPN2 show was "must see tv."

Here is my issue.  The distributor bills it as a mix of news, politics, sports and commentary.  Why doesn't anyone realize that we watch, or listen, to sports to get away the current horribly divisive and downright nasty state of American politics?  News and sports just don't mix.

Johnny Carson tweaked political leaders.  The same for the great David Letterman,  Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert bludgeon.  Regard less of affiliation, it's just hard to watch.  And, after all these years, I still haven't figured out Jimmy Fallon.  Late night TV has lost its joy.

There are a few other things to note before the "publish" button receives a hit...

The NFL Network signed Rich Eisen to a new contract.  Smart, engaging, funny, and not over the top.

TV producer Norman Lear turned 100 last week, and what an amazing career.  Even though most of his shows featured a good deal of screaming and arguing, he did manage to get a lot of important issues on the screen and before millions of American eyeballs.  He changed television and very few people can say that.

Tony Dow died last week.  77.  He was the Beaver's older brother, Wally, on "Leave It To Beaver."  Yes, I still watch.  It takes you back to a part real, part fantasy world.  I can relate to those joyless elementary schools, hanging with friends, riding bikes, harmless mischief and wandering about small town America.  The fantasy involves dads coming home at the same time every day and stay at home moms, who constantly baked enormous chocolate layer cakes.  All in all, the show was harmless escapist fun and Tony Dow was a big part of that.