Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Make Me Laugh!

  So here's the story.
  I go back to the doctor to get the
dressing removed from my cheek
from last week's skin cancer
   He says I'm healing well. But
it will take a few weeks and, in
the meantime, I've got some tight
bandages holding the "reconstruction
site" in place.
   Of course everybody tries to make
me feel better and those efforts
usually include a couple of good
jokes. A few bad ones too!
   Trouble is, in case you haven't
noticed, your facial muscles
stretch when you laugh!
   Of course it only hurts when
I laugh! Seriously folks!
    And now that I probably
shouldn't be laughing....everything
seems funny!
    Even the magazines in the
doctor's office had me chuckling.
    They're all  "Health"
magazines?  And I'm thinking ....
it's too late to be reading them now!
    Then I get home and surf my
TV channels. All of a sudden
every body's showing comedies!
    Even our free trial of HBO is
running "Yogi Bear!"
    I think I need something that
isn't funny!
   I'll probably watch the news.
  That should do it!
  Oops! Forgot there's a bunch of
guys running for President.
   I'll go back to Yogi!
   Hope you're laughing (but not
 in stitches) and that all your NEWS
is good!


Monday, January 30, 2012

How I spent my Day of Rest!

  Basically my doctor told me to take it easy
till my appointment today to take the dressing
off  my cheek. I had some basal cell skin
cancer treated on Friday.
   I like going places on the weekend.
   But I wanted to follow my doctor's orders
so........I went to San Francisco!
   Well not exactly.
   Back in 2007 my wife and I hosted a trip
to California for WYOU and Holiday
    I shot some video during that tour. In
fact, I shot 6 hours of video during that
    And what better way to use my day of
rest than to "re-live" my exploration of
"The Golden State?"
    It's amazing how a good look at your
pictures or home movies can bring back
some really great memories.
    I had some really good video from a
boat tour we took in San Francisco Bay.
    Take the Golden Gate Bridge.
    It always looks impressive on a postcard.
    But I found it even more impressive looking
up at the deck as we sailed underneath the
span. You could actually see the safety nets
that are rigged on the bridge to protect the
crew that keeps painting it year round.
    I could almost imagine hearing the voices
of Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly as we
cruised past Alcatraz !
    You could clearly see the painting on a
wall that read..."Indians Welcome." It's a
lasting reminder of the days between 1969
and 1971 when Indians....excuse me...Native
Americans took over the island to protest
policies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
    I wonder why that hasn't become the
Bureau of Native American Affairs?
    Anyhow there's an "Occupy" movement
that was ahead of its time!
    They were booted out in 1971 thus
becoming the first know individuals
made to leave, rather than forced to stay
on,  "The Rock!"
     I felt like I was back on a Cable Car
    I told a Transit worker that the cables for
those cars used to be made in Sunbury
Pennsylvania. When he learned we were
on a tour sponsored by a TV station he
actually commandeered a car for our group
and my video is shot hanging off the right
front of the vehicle as it road on and over
some of those steep San Francisco Hills!
   I enjoyed a thousand other sights.....and
all from the comfort of my sofa!
   Hope you've got some great memories
tucked away on tape or film for a day of
rest and that all of your NEWS is good!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Shining...I mean, the Shiner!

     I can see the headline....''Reporter gets
Periorbital Hematoma!'
     Of course it's more likely to read
'Reporter gets Black Eye!'
    Getting a black eye isn't a good thing.
    If you get one it either means you've
done something wrong or.....well...your
eye is black!
    I didn't do anything wrong. My eye
is black after the skin surgery I had
done on Friday.
    It isn't the first time I've had a black
eye.  In fact the first time actually
involved two black eyes! Both were
    I had been pushing a friend on his
backyard swing when he jumped off,
and the empty wooded seat came back
faster than anticipated, hitting be right
on the bridge of my nose! It was wide
enough to catch both eyes!
    I never got a black eye from fighting.
    I guess I was always able to run
away fast enough!
    My daughter gave me one, one time!
    She was taking karate at the time.
    I faked a punch her way to test her
   They were great!
   She blocked the mock swing with one
hand and connected with my eye with
the other.
    That may have been the first time I
used makeup on TV.
     Explaining the bruise to my
colleagues was a bit embarrassing, I
probably should have made up a good
    Like the scar that's left from the
operation I had on my back more
than 20 years ago.
    I tell the grand kids and their
friends it's from a shark bite! I can
expand on that story any which way
I choose!
    I think I'll do the same thing with
the shiner I'm sporting now.
    You  folks know the truth. But if
anybody else asks  I'm  going to tell them
it's a personal tribute to the Network
I indirectly worked for all of those
    Hope you've got a good story ready
for all occasions and that all your NEWS
is good!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Phantom of the Oper...ah, the ..Operating Room!

   You probably think my dermatologist
is a really funny guy!
    I spent seven hours in his office
yesterday and he really left me in stitches!
   That is......he really left me in stitches!
   A facial sore I was concerned about
turned out to be basal cell cancer and I
went in Friday morning to have what is
called  "Mohs surgery" to have the
problem tissue removed.
    I think it may be named for that guy
from the Three Stooges.
    They numb the area, they cut out some
tissue. Then you go and sit in the
waiting room for about an hour till the
sample they've taken can be checked to
determine if they got all of the bad cells.
     If not you go back in and they repeat
the procedure.
     I went back in three times!
     The Doc got everything. But it was
a little more extensive than anticipated
and I currently look like I'm auditioning
for the lead in Phantom of the Opera!
    "Sing for me!"
    I think the doctor had some soft music
playing in the background.
    I'm not really sure because between
the "local" anesthetic and the comfortable
chair I reclined in for the procedure I'm
pretty sure I fell asleep!
     I hope to be doing a lot of that over
the next few days!
     Hope I get the part.....and that all of
your NEWS is good!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Good Punch?

   January 27th is another of those bizarre
and unusual "holidays" that most people
know little or nothing about.
   And, in this case, that's just fine by me!
   This is "Punch the Clock Day!"
   Not "punch the clock" literally. But
"punch the clock" as in logging in and
out of your work day!
    I intend to celebrate by refusing to
    I began my broadcasting career in
1959, worked at my last full time
position in 2009, and continue to
donate time to the Public Access TV
station based in Scranton.
    I had to deal with time cards through
most of those years. But they were the
kind of cards you usually filled in at
the end of every two week period
rather than filling them out at the
beginning and end of each work day.
    Most of the bosses took you at your
word and most of the employees were
honest with the accounting of their
     Once, part way through my tenure
at WYOU TV, somebody sold someone
at corporate a telephone " punch in
     We had to dial a number and enter
a code at the beginning and ending of
our day.
      How the automatic answering
system knew we were dialing each
from work I'll never know!
     I do know I almost always came in
early to get some preparations underway.
     I would have to drop those efforts at
exactly the right moment to check in.  More
often than not I would look late because I
was checking sources or lining up an
interview and didn't get the check in call
there on time!
     Of course the company paid for the
service, as well as all that cell phone
time to make the calls.
     Somebody else at HQ must have see
the bills for both and suddenly. one day,
the "Punch Clock Call" was dropped like a
hot brick!
      Some places these days have
sophisticated systems that require workers
to get their fingerprints scanned as their
report  to work.
      Ironically I've see them at some
government offices. It may prove somebody
is there. But it sure doesn't prove they're doing
any work!
     We should make crooks use that system.
     Then, at least, we'd already have their
     Anyhow I don't do any "punching in"
these days so you'll just have to have this
celebration without me!
    Maybe I'll call in my congratulations.....
IF I'm awake!
    Hope you're running on time and that
all your NEWS is good!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sitting round the Cracker Barrel!

   It was a common scene in a lot of
old movies. A bunch of guys, usually
"old guys", sitting around a cracker
barrel or a pot belly stove gabbing
about the "good old days."
   Since I "retired" I find myself
very content in that scene!
   Yesterday two of our good friends
joined my wife and I on a trip
into New York State where we
met up with another old buddy
and his wife and did a lot of
gabbing about good times we've
shared in the past and plans for
great times in the future.
    We did not discuss
the State of the Union speech, the
Republican Presidential candidates,
or anything to do with Penn State!
     We let the talk shows and
Facebook handle all the "hard stuff"
    Several of us...well me at least ..
brought our own "pot belly"
to the gathering!
    We rally at a Cracker Barrel
restaurant that's about an hour
an 15 minutes north for us and
about an hour and a half south from
my friend's house.
    It has become our regular meeting
    I'm still not sure if they're
happy to see us coming or not!
    My friend  brought his camera
and took about 20 pictures from the
time he got out of his car till the
moment we got back in ours.
    He's already got shots of nearly all
of the waitresses and knows most of
their names as well as that of their
    His memory is so good, though
often supported by sticky notes, that
we have no trouble recalling tons of
old time to talk about.
    Anybody who's
 been on staff there any lenght of time
 knows we're not an "eat and run gang."
    In fact they're apt to give us menus
for lunch and dinner just to make sure
they've got us covered for a long as
    The place was crowded when we
arrived. But they found a table for 6
tucked away in a corner.
    We've often been given another table
but that one was crowded with a group
of women who stayed nearly as long
as us. Guess they were talking about
"old times" too!
    If you're really lucky you've got a
few friends like mine! Hopefully
you're got your own cracker barrel
some place where you can meet and
enjoy time together!
    Hope you do and that all your
NEWS is good!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State (s) Of The Union

  I didn't watch the President's State of the
Union address last night.
  I haven't watched one of those for a few
years....even when I was a full time news
reporter. I never had to!
  By the time the President, any President,
was beginning his speech most everything
to be said was already previewed on every
network and major publication available.
  Then the next day, news analysts and
spokespersons for the opposing
party, and every talk show host and caller
was either applauding or, more likely,
ripping apart everything that was said.
  I always disliked the title too!
  When I was born there were 48  "States
of the Union."   I've heard they have
added two since then. But I'll only believe
it when I see them.
  If they're going to do this every year I
think they should call it like it is!
  It should be the...."This Is How I Think
Things Are and Should Be"...address!
   My own State of the Union isn't too bad.
   My wife and I are coming up on 43 years
of marriage and are, for the most part,
enjoying everyday.
   Of course I don't hear too well and she
speaks very softly. But that can make for
a very agreeable conversation.
   Maybe the President and the Congress
should think about that!
   I hope those of you who did watch the
"State of the Union"speech enjoyed it.
   There was a time when you had no
choice but to watch it if your TV was
turned on.
   Fortunately the "State of the Union" in
the television industry is such that we've
got all kinds of other channels to watch!
   I picked the one showing that action
movie "Taken."
   Of course I know what happens and
how it ends.
   But after seeing other"State of the
Union" addresses of the past......I
pretty much know what happens in
those and, generally, how they end.
    Hope your personal "State of the
Union" is OK and that all your NEWS
is good!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good Taste,Bad Taste, No Taste?

  I love those Apple Fritters I get at my
nearby Sheetz station. At least I think I
  The other day my wife brought one of
them home for me. She got a Blueberry
Fritter for herself.
  She was still checking the mail when I
wolfed mine down.
  But when she checked the bag to get her
own treat.........the only thing left was......
an Apple Fritter!
   Had I eaten the Blueberry?  The math
suggests I did. But I really didn't know!
   To top it off she asked if I had even had
one of the Blueberry Fritters before and I
said  "No."
   But my daughter pointed out that she had
picked one up for me just a couple of days
   So was there no discernible difference
between the Apple and the Blueberry?
   In my case it seems there wasn't.
   It would seem there's a bit of my late Dad
in me!
   The standard joke used to be that my Dad
ate so fast he never actually tasted food! I
have apparently inherited the trait.
    I know I enjoyed the Apple......ah....that is
the Blueberry Fritter.
   I wonder if they've got any other flavors
I haven't tried?  Or have tried without
knowing it!
   I guess when it comes to baked goods....
I never met a Fritter I didn't like!
   Next time maybe I'll get one of each and
do an actual taste test.
   No.......I think I'll just enjoy both and not
worry about which was which!
   Hope you get just what you order and
that all your NEWS is good!                           


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Write Stuff!

    Are you celebrating? After all, this is
"National Handwriting Day!"
    I would have sent you a formal notice
but, chances are, you wouldn't be able to
make out my.....well....my handwriting!
    Seems sort of.....wrong....to be
typing this blog to tell you about it. But
if you've ever seen my handwriting you
know it's better I use my keyboard!
    It's not just that others can't read my
writing. After a couple of hours, when
I begin to forget the original message,
I can't read it either!
    According to the website "Holiday
Insights", National Handwriting Day
was established in 1977 by the Writing
Instruments Manufactures Association.
    The idea was to promote the consumption
of pencils, pens, and writing paper.
    I've never eaten any of them!
    But I still use all of them!
    I think I try to write too fast when
I'm taking notes and, unless I print or type
the message over right away, I forget
what I've written!
     I've been making an effort to improve
my handwriting.
     But you try to be neat.....even with your
own signature.....when you're signing you
name on a Walmart check out screen!
     The "pencils" or whatever they call
those things don't have points. You see
your signature as you sign the screen.
    But you're lucky if two or three letters
are actually recognizable.
     Maybe it's because the little
signature screen is on an angle and
you're trying to keep one hand on your
cart while you're holding your credit
card and wallet in the same hand you're
using to sign.
      It doesn't seem to make much
difference. I suspect your card would be
approved even if you scribbled John Wilkes
    And you'd still get the bill!
    Hopefully you're signing for your
purchase of new socks or shoes because
January 23rd is also "Measure Your
Feet Day!"
     Anyhow we should all be trying to
improve our handwriting!
    Hope you're doing just that and that

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow Day!

  Well I guess that electric lawn mower we
just bought can stay in the shed for awhile.
   It snowed on and around our house
Friday night. I think we got the 6 part of
the "3 to 6 inches."
   It felt a lot more like 12 inches in the
   For many years I would have expected
to be called out in such a storm. I'd head
out to the hardest hit area we could find
so I could go on the air and tell you not
to drive there.
    Since I didn't have to do that I thought
I'd fall in with the "normal" picture my
fellow newscasters painted of those who
suffered through the storms at home.
     I had some milk. Then, for the first
time in probably months I asked my wife
for some eggs.
     She stopped me cold for a moment
when she asked if I wanted toast.
     I always heard about people rushing
out for milk, and eggs, and bread. Since
I never heard 'toast' mentioned I just
said I'd take plain old bread.
      But "Old Man Winter" still had his
way. He froze our gas line and I had to
settle for eggs in the microwave.
      I sent some photos of the snow to
two of our good friends who missed
all the fun by heading to Florida for a
couple of months. They countered by
sending a picture of my buddy standing
at pool side trying his best to deal with
temperatures in the mid 70's. Poor guy!
      I wonder if they have bread, eggs,
and milk in Florida?\
     Come to think of it I wonder if they
need bread, eggs, and milk in Florida?
      Anyhow this "snow day" turned
out the way they all should. Two of
the grand kids came by with their
sleds and had a ball zipping down a
nearby hill and tossing chunks of snow
at each other!
      Hope you made the best of the
snow too and that all your NEWS
is good!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ready For ....Whatever!

    The forecasters were in agreement! Our area
was due for its first really measurable snow,
region wide, since Halloween!
    "Weather Bob" on Facebook picked the
date 12 days ago! At 6 tonight all the TV
guys were saying how "they told us"
the storm was coming.
    And we all know what happens when you
get a prediction like that!
    Everybody heads to the store to buy "the
basics." Those have been identified as bread,
eggs,and milk in terms of food and rock salt
and shovels to actually combat the stormy mess.
     So my wife and I charged to the store too....
where be bought.......a lawnmower!
     No.....you read it right. We bought a
     Now, in our defense, we really had gone
out to get some things for the impending
     We were out of milk and cereal and
noticed an add at a "Flea market" type store
that had a special on rock salt.
     We found the milk and cereal then came
across the pallet loaded with big bags of
rock salt.
      As I lifted a bag I realized where the
term "rock" comes from! Packed in 50
pound bags this isn't the kind of salt you
sprinkle on your pop corn!
      Anyhow this is the place where we
spotted the lawn mower!
      It was a Black & Decker electric!
      We had been searching for an electric
mower since our old one (and the key
word here is "old") had finally outgrown
the duct tape that was holding it together.
      We've got a very small yard and with
an electric there's no gas to keep, pour, and
stabilize. Additionally you don't risk the
pulled muscles or brush burns that come
from pulling on a "starting cord" that
doesn't always start the unit.
       The biggest danger with the electric
was running over your own power cord.
       I know that because I did it!
       But with just a pocket knife and a bit
of electrical tape I was back in business
that same day!
      So bring on the storm Mr. Winter!
      We've got cereal in the cupboard,
milk in the fridge, rock salt on the
porch and a Black & Decker electric
mower standing by in the shed to
handle the grass.......which we don't
have to worry about right now!
      Hope you're set for all the seasons
and that all your NEWS is good!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Our Trip To.....OZ?

   Our trip to a favorite restaurant ended up
as a sort of "trip to Oz" Wednesday!
   After our meal my wife, our good friends,
and I just hit the road to see what we might
    You could say we found the "unexpected"
while, at the same time, had some problems
finding what we expected to find!
    After a trip through deep coal country,
Coaldale, Lansford, Nesquehoning, and
the like, we found ourselves at the original
Country Junction store not far from
    Always a colorful store the outlet
features its own Yellow Brick Road that
leads you to all sorts of neat and, in some
cases, very unique merchandise.
    Where else might you come across life
size models of gorillas, the Blues Brothers,
or a dragon?

   We even came across one of my favorites!
Who remembers "Zoltar?" It was the
Fortune telling machine from the movie
"Big." The one that turned Tom Hank's
character from a kid to a young man, then
back again!

    But if Zoltar was granting wishes he was
taking his time to grant them!
    We were all wishing for some ice cream.
But the store's ice cream stand was closed.
   Now tell me......where is it written that
you can't get ice cream just because it's
   We drove for miles along a very busy
and highly commercial area searching
for that one sign that would welcome our
business with an offering of a sundae or a
milk shake.
   Blue Ribbon Dairy in West Pittston or
the Cold Stone Creameries don't have any
outlets in this area and the few obvious
"Ice Cream Stands" along our route looked
very dark and very closed!
    Just as we were about to give up I
spotted a bakery that happen to include
an ice cream counter too!
    Even though there were "limited
flavors" (someone there reminded us if
was "off season" for ice cream) we were
able to enjoy those few tasty dips we had
been searching for so long!
    Then we promptly got back in the car
and turned up the heater!
    I wonder if it was Zoltar who came
through with the Moose Tracks?
   Hope you're bundled up enjoying a
Strawberry sundae and that all of your
NEWS is good!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let There Be Light!

My faith has been restored!             
As has our street light!
And our mail box lock!
We are on a roll!
As previously reported, the street
light near our house has been out
for at least half a year.
I called PPL about it about that
long ago and was told that someone
would be assigned to fix the light
when there was other work to be
done in the area.
But the longer I waited the darker
the street corner seemed to get.
I put two bulbs in our porch light
in an attempt to help the situation.
But the light doesn't go around the
house very well.
I should also tell you that I
bought the bulbs in a "Dollar Store"
two weeks ago and one of them has
already burned out!
The manager of our park told me
he called he utility about a half dozen
times about the street light.
. I sort of doubted that and
decided it was time for me to reach out
again myself!
This time I tried email and...bingo!
Within two days I had a written
reply. Yesterday I had a repairman
with a new bulb and a fixture. Last
night I had light!
   By the way our "park manager" is now
our "former park manager!"
   Somebody "saw the light!"
   Meanwhile we faced another problem.
   Our mailbox lock was broken. I didn't
need a key to open the box. Of course,
nobody needed a key to open the box.
    That's bad!
    We called the post office and, within
24 hours a repairman was waiting for me
with a new lock and a set of keys!
     Now I'll have my own key for the
mailbox! It's my first in nearly 43 years!
     I hope somebody sends me something!
     When it warms up I'll stand under the
 streetlight to read it!
      Hope somebody is listening to your
complaints and that all your NEWS is


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Our Life in the Comics! (Joe Palooka Round 3!)

  So there we were. Four guys from varied
backgrounds all named to a committee to
try to replace a monument to Ham Fisher
that had been stolen from its mountainside
base. It was 1976.
  As the creator of comic strip hero Joe
Palooka Fisher had brought a lot of fame
to his native Wilkes-Barre.
 In many ways the Palooka character
represented qualities Fisher could easily
associate with the people of this area.
You know, that "pull yourself up by
your bootstraps", honest, hard working
attitude displayed by most of our parents
and grand parents.
  The comic strip was still being carried
by many newspapers in 1976 when we
waged our campaign to build a new
memorial. So......the artist decided to
work our committee into the story line.
  But, here's the thing. There was no
rational for doing a story about a
monument to Ham Fisher. I mean,
Fisher drew the original comic strip.
But he was never "in" it!
  So, suddenly, our committee found
itself in the Joe Palooka comic strip.....
......as promoters of the "Miss 1776
Beauty Pageant!"
  Of course! I finally get to be part of
a Beauty Pageant...and it's in a comic
  In one frame our names appear on
an office door................................

  In another frame the committee members are
pictured as they arrive at the airport to discuss
concerns they have about the pageant. I'm the
guy with the moustache.
    There were a whole lot of other frames as the
 story line developed.
     And you've got o admit...it's a unique way to
 be part of  "history."
    There are plenty of days when I'd like to slip
 back into the cartoon world to get away for awhile.
    Then I look around..........THIS IS THE CARTOON
     Hope there's a lot of fun in your story line and that
all your NEWS is good!     

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Joe Palooka-Round 2!

  Last week I wrote about a tribute that's
being planned to the late Ham Fisher.
  The Wilkes-Barre born cartoonist was
know Internationally for the comic strip
character he created. And that, of course,
was Joe Palooka!
   The Joe Palooka comic strip ran in
hundreds of newspapers during its heyday.
   Fisher, through his character, became a
celebrity. And back in the 1940's Wilkes-
Barre's Junior Chamber of Commerce
honored the artist with a bronze plaque
placed on the mountainside along Route
309 in Wilkes-Barre Township. That
mountain, in fact, was named for Joe
    The mountain, as you might suspect,
is still there!
     But the plaque was stolen in the 1970's
and I, in a radio editorial, called for it
to be replaced.
     The Sunday Independent Newspaper
picked up the cause and launched a fund
raising campaign to put a new memorial
to Fisher and his character a few feet
away from the original site.
     I was one of four men on a committee
overseeing the project.
     I've been trying to gather material from
that time period for the upcoming tribute
to Fisher.
     But while the mountain is still there the
Sunday Independent went down for the count
many years ago.
     I knew I had photos, copies of the comic
strip, and other items stored away safely......
somewhere. So I did what most any guy
would do in a similar situation.
    I asked my wife to look for the stuff!
    After a day of digging through
every drawer and box tucked away in our
house she was about ready to give me a
right to the jaw that probably, if inflicted,
would have taken Palooka down.
     I know they're here somewhere.
     But I also knew someone else who would
not only have the photos and clippings.....but
would know where to find his copes!
     Fred Ney was a writer with the Sunday
Independent. He did most of the leg work that
lead to the successful drive for a new
    I called him and, less than 24 hours later,
had all of the material I had been looking
     I suspect my wife was thinking about a
left hook for putting her to work rather than
just calling Fred in the first place!
     Now that I look at myself in the photo
from the dedication....I'm forced to wonder
if I didn't hide......rather than misplace it
in the first place!
     That's me, second from left next to Joe!
  Hope you've got some well dressed
friends too and that all your NEWS is

Monday, January 16, 2012

Holiday On Ice! (Sort of)

   Guess I've taken a bit of liberty with the
title of this one. But, after all, we could
include the weekend as part of the Martin
Luther King Holiday......right?
   And we did head off to an ice rink!
   Well, we sort of did.
   In this case, though, the former ice rink,
in Endicott, New York, has been converted
to a BMX Bicycle racing track.
   It is billed as the only "indoor"  BMX track
in the northeast.
   I think the term "indoor" might be just a bit
 misleading. It is under a roof.  I'll give them
   But the roof is built over what must have
been a very nice ice skating rink at one time.
   The sides are basically open although
canvass sheets hang over them as a
substitute for actual walls.
   Race time temperature....inside....was 21
   Spectators were as prepared as possible with
heavy coats and hats, blankets, and, in at least
one case, a small portable heater powered by
those small gas bottles you might find on a
Coleman camping grill.
   While most folks came from nearby New
York communities, our Pennsylvania group
was joined by other racers and racer families
from New Jersey, Massachusetts, and even
    I think most everyone enjoyed the race.
    My son fought his way into the main race
by a come from behind victory in one of the
qualifying motos while my grand son was
lucky enough to have a three "man" moto
and automatically made the main race even
with a rear tire that was a bit low on air!
    And, of course,both on them and the rest
of us, were trying to stay as warm as we
could under the circumstances!
    Near by several sophisticated gas
heaters were set up in the snack
bar where you could take a break, grab a
burger, and use the modern restroom
    I was a little curious as to how this one
time ice skating venue had surrendered
to what is usually considered a summer
time sport.
   The score boards, one dedicated to
a name none of us visitors knew, still
hang as both ends of the rink as does a
"Period" indicator. A huge array of
speakers hang over what would be
center ice and some team logos can still
be seen on the walls.
   One gentleman told me the nearby
Susquehanna had flooded several times
(in fact the BMX track was actually
wrecked in September and had to be
rebuilt). He said the refrigeration units
used to make the ice were destroyed by
the river some time ago.
   I'm glad to see so many people come
to the place now to enjoy BMX racing
all year long.
   But I had to wonder, standing there in
those 21 degree temperatures, why you'd
need any refrigeration to make ice!
   I thank my wife for the leather Bomber
jacket she bought me for Christmas
several years ago!
   Anyhow a good, though sometimes
chilly, time was had by all and we'll
probably revisit this "indoor" track again
if just to get a head start on those wimpy
racers who are waiting for "room
temperatures" to return!
   Hope you're somewhere above 21
degrees and that all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


    We were treated to some Christmas "leftovers" during
the past couple days.
    In this case though I'm not talking about food that's
gone uneaten since December 25th or January 1st. Food
doesn't usually have a chance to get that "leftover" around
here. Although there may be a couple goodies hidden
away in the fridge somewhere. Maybe I'll look after
writing this....just in case.
    Our friends treated us to a pizza in downtown Wilkes-
Barre on Friday. We visited an established Italian
restaurant that recently changed locations.
    It was cold outside. But, inside, it was warm, friendly,
and with a Christmas tree still set up in a corner window.
    The cold snap and the sudden appearance of some snow
flurries made me very glad  the owner hadn't rushed to take
down his tree. Conditions the way they were it seemed
like it was right in place.....whatever the date!
    Last night we were off to a series of performances
put on by the talented students of Wilkes-Barre Academy.
    As usual they borrowed the stage facilities at
Misericordia University for their plays.
    My grand daughter looked like she was ready for
Broadway as part of the cast of "A Troy Story."
    That's "Troy Story" as in Helen of......rather that
Woody and Buzz!
    Then my Grandson gave us another shot of Christmas
as Bob Cratchit as the 7th and 8th graders wowed us
with their production of "Like A Christmas Carol."
    Their version of Dickson's classic would have
made any "Scrooge" smile. And it included those
crystal clear kid's voices offering a number of
Christmas Carols........as in songs.....as part of the
      I was tempted to sing along. Then I remembered
the only praise I ever received for my singing
voice was for my discovery of "the lost cord!"
      It's funny. I hadn't noticed the other "Christmas
Leftover" before this. Maybe it was the spirit of the
last few days that made it so impressive.
     It was a colorful Christmas tree set high atop
the VA Medical Center. Maybe it was just the night
or the mood. But its lights stood out like a message
of hope in the darkness.
    Mid January or not I hope you've still got those
warm feelings and that all your NEWS is good!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


 Regular readers will recall my delight with
Cinemark's decision to issue a caution to
movie goers who insist on texting while the
bulk of the audience is trying to watch the
  What's impressive is Cinemark's promise
to ask offenders to leave the theater.
  I've only just seen the warning and, at least
during that particular feature,I never saw anyone
use a cell phone at all...except to shut it off
about the time the previews came up on the
  I wondered if other theaters will be following
Cinemark's lead.
 Yesterday we visited one that is not!
 And, sure enough, we were treated to three
patrons who just had to do some texting
while the main attraction was running on the
big screen.
  I wondered, for a while, if they might
actually be texting each other!
  As I said, the theater issued no specific
warning about texting.
 But my buddy did!
 He was polite, first using a "stage whisper
to his wife about how rude it was to interfere
with every one's enjoyment of the show.
  Then he used a more direct approach, still
polite though, asking the closest offender to
"Please" turn off her phone.
  The young woman complied and thus will
never know that my friend's wife was just
about set to issue a "warning" of her own.
  I don't think she would have said "Please."
 She probably would not have asked her to
leave the theater as per the Cinemark
policy. But I believe the woman or her
phone would have ended up outside!
  I like a movie with action.
 And I think we came pretty close to seeing
more than we anticipated at this movie!
  Hope you always say "please" and that all
your NEWS is good! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Night Light

   I'm not exactly sure just when our "Night Light"
 went dark. If I had to guess I'd probably say it was
 at least six months ago.
   I'm not talking about one of those bulbs on a plug
you stick into a wall socket.
   Our night light is, or should I say was, a street
light mounted near the top of a utility pole on what
is now a very dark corner right outside of our house.
   It's one of those lights the utility company,
once called Pennsylvania Power and
Light Company, used to promote before PP&L
dropped the "&" and became just PPL.
   And I'm now thinking the "&" stood for that
part of the company where they answer the
telephone to address consumer complaints.
   I hesitated to call when I first noticed a
problem. The bulb is one of those triggered
by a sensor that knows when it's getting dark.
   You would occasionally see it trying to come
to life...flickering on...then off...then on again.
   But one day, or night as the case may be, it
never even flickered.
   It has been at least six months since I called
the utility to ask that it replace the non lighting
light. Another neighbor claims to have called
at least a half dozen times.
   You'd think my eyes would be used to the
dark by now (at least on that corner).
    But I had to use my own flashlight to catch
a glimpse of the bear that was hauling my
garbage bag away a few months ago.
    An overhead light could have given me
a much better view...especially had I been
walking around the corner at the time!
    Diogenes would definitely need his
lantern around here (and I'm not sure it would
lead him to the neighbor who said he made
six calls about the light!)
    Not that the darkness is bad for everyone.
    I think it may even be an incentive for
the people dumping the trash along the
road side beneath the fixture.
    I've now tied to send an email to
PP...whatever...asking for a new bulb and,
maybe, even a new cover around the fixture.
    The old one was either shot away or
simply disintegrated in the darkness.
    We've had truck after truck of utility
crews driving through the neighborhood
lately as they install electric hook ups for
flood victims who have moved
in temporarily. Too bad none of them came
through at night. They might have noticed
the absence of light!
     Oh well, it is getting a little lighter a
few minutes every day!
      Hope you've got enough light to read
this and that all your NEWS is good!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remembering Joe (Palooka)

  I've been invited to do a bit of speaking lately
  Back in 1972 I became involved in a story that
lead to my reuniting two survivors from the Titanic!
  That had me hooked and, since, I've researched
other stories involving regional connections to the
doomed ocean liner.
   This year marks the 100th anniversary of the
disaster...hence the speaking engagements.
    Another invitation came this week.
    But this time it wasn't about the Titanic.
    The Luzerne County Historical Society is
planning an event to remember Ham Fisher, the
cartoonist who created the Joe Palooka comic
    Fisher was born in Wilkes-Barre.
   Joe Palooka was Fisher's comic strip character.
A Heavyweight Championship fighter and all
around "good guy" who was always a symbol
of patriotism and everything good about our
    Most all of you know I've been in radio and
television. A few of you know I've done a small
part in an as yet to be released movie. But I
doubt that too many of you know I've been in
a comic strip! (Although I'm sure there are a
few out there who might suggest it's the perfect
place for me!)
    Back in the 1970's somebody stole a plaque
dedicated to Ham Fisher which was placed on
the mountainside along Route 309 in Wilkes-
Barre Township.
    I was the Assistant Manager and News
Director of an area FM Radio station at the
time. I did an editorial calling for the replacement
of the memorial which was dedicated to Fisher
but bore the likeness of Joe Palooka. I felt the
values Fisher's character stood for were a tribute
to the people of our area.
    The folks at the former Sunday Independent
Newspaper agreed and kicked off a fund raising
campaign to put a new, bigger, monument in
place. I was on the committee to erect the new
    The artist doing the Joe Palooka strip at that
 time decided to include the 4 committee members
in his story line.
    But, here's the thing, the story line at that time
involved a Beauty Contest! So, I and my
colleagues were identified as judges in the
Beauty competition. Our names appeared on
a door in one scene and my caricature is
pictured in another!
     Somewhere in my old clippings there is
also a photo from the monument dedication.
     It pictures the artist, all four committee
members and, pictured right next to me, a
drawing,that was inserted, of Joe Palooka!
     It's really neat. But given my long
sideburns and plaid slacks (really..they were
"in" back then) it does look ...well...comical!
     The last Joe Palooka comic strip ran in
1984. In it, Joe retires....to Wilkes-Barre,
     I've got to look him up one of these days!
    Hope you all remember "the Champ" and
that all your NEWS is good!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If Anything Can Go Wrong..(Part 2)

   I raised the white flag yesterday after my
experience with the "Not so Easy Pass Lane"
and a couple other "mental errors."
   Today it's still flying....but at half mast!
   A few years back I bought one of the best
vehicles I've ever owned.
   It was a used, 1995 Chevy Suburban!
   When TV reporting was still a daily job
it was really great to know I could get to
work in the worst of weather!
    The Suburban's four wheel drive never
let me down! In fact, during an especially
bad Valentine's Day storm a few year's ago
I had my cameraman park the station car
and we loaded up the Chevy to drive our
way to some parts of Scranton that were
impassable to most vehicles.
    During another storm I used it to tow
a Cadillac out of a snow drift and several
miles to the safety of a parking lot.
    And I didn't get much happier than the
times in good weather when I filled all
9 seats to take family and friends on an
adventure! It was so good to have everyone
    As I entered my second childhood a
couple years ago (though  I'm not sure I
ever left my first) a sporty little Miata
convertible caught my eye and soon
became part of our family fleet!
    The Suburban's 40 gallon gas tank
and  constantly rising gas prices soon
relegated it to a parking spot from which
it only emerged when a lot of seating was
needed or the snow exceeded a foot in
    A mini van filled the need for multiple
seats even though it couldn't match the
Chevy's seating combined with a large
cargo space.
  But the bottom line was the 4X4 just sat
more and more.
  I tried to run it from time to time. But it
really wasn't getting much exercise.
  Yesterday I decided to drive it to the
closest air pump to fill both of the front
tires which were a bit low.
  The old 350 engine still fired up after
a quick battery boost. But it was sluggish
and not anxious to respond to the gas
pedal. In fact after getting the air,
the car stalled on my way home leaving
me stranded at a very busy intersection.
    My good friend came to the rescue
with a spray can filled with some sort
of explosive mixture that brought
the engine back to life.
   The ride home probably would have
been a bit better if the hood had been
been locked in place! I found it harder
to see the road when it flew up in front
of my windshield!
    I did make it ....but with the realization
that I don't have to run through winter
storms to work anymore and probably
have sufficient seating capacity in my
van to cover my usual needs. And...if
transportation were to be needed during a
blizzard...my buddy has a dependable
4X4 that doesn't have ever spot in
his odometer filled with digits!
   So, reluctantly, I'm putting my old
Suburban on the market.
    Maybe with a good tune up and some
TLC someone else can build on the
236,000 fun miles I and one previous
owner have recorded thus far!
    Of course you must all realize.....the
day it's sold....the snow will start!
    Hope all your miles are filled with
fun and that all your NEWS is good!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If Anything Can Go Wrong......

  It was just suppose to be a simple trip to
a medical center so my wife could visit one
of her half dozen or so doctors.
  We were headed for the Clarks Summit
area so, to make the trip as easy as possible
we took the Turnpike.
   We sailed right through the first "Easy
Pass lane" near Taylor. But after seeing a
"Low Balance Warning" on one of the
pike's toll plazas on a recent trip to
Philadelphia we decided to take one of the
"Cash or Easy Pass" lanes when exiting
Clarks Summit to see if we'd get the Green
Light or another warning.
  Well we didn't get either! The little traffic
light device mounted just ahead of us was
  And between it and me....there was a gate.
  And the gate was down!
  There were two options. Back up 5 feet
and insert 90 cents or.....well you know the
other.....and those gates are probably 
   About that time an attendant (I didn't
know the Turnpike Commission still had
any humans on staff) came out
and explained that our Easy Pass wasn't
activating the equipment. I had sort of
figured that when the gate didn't go up.
   So I fumbled through my pockets and
came up with the cold hard cash that
did the trick!
   Knowing we'd need money for the
return trip I got the change ready ahead
of time. Easy Pass or not, this time I'd
be ready.
   And I was, except for the nickle that
fell on the floor!
   Not wishing to drive forward while
my face was on the steering wheel and
my hand combing the floor mat I opted
to use a dollar bill.
   Brand new dollar bills slip right into
a special slot on the Turnpike's Automatic
Toll Takers. Of course old dollar bills,
wrinkled on all edges, take a little longer
to be accepted. I, of course, had an old
dollar bill.
    Still, after just two or three attempts
the machine finally gulped down my
dollar and I heard the sound of a dime in
change as it fell into the coin container.
   That container, in fact the whole
Auto Toll Taker, must have been designed
by someone who either had ten foot long
arms or a vehicle with a lot of scrape marks
on the driver's side.
   Anyhow, change in hand I headed for the
final toll plaza of my journey. This time
my wife was holding all the change so,
with a short toss of quarters, nickles and a
dime I'd be able to shoot right through.
   Except....for the guy ahead of me!
   He and his traveling companion were
apparently gathering change as they sat at
the booth, tossing one at a time as they
found them into the funnel-like receiver
on the Toll Taker.
   I had apparently entered the "Not So
Easy Pass Lane!"
    Finally free of the Turnpike I headed
for Walmart for some bathroom cleaner
and razor blades to replace the Dollar
Store batch I bought the other day that
seemed to have been sharpened on a stone
somewhere in a field.
   The new blades, I'm sure, will be fine.
   But my wife told me I bought the wrong
kind of cleaner. "It's OK", she said, "this
will do" (in a voice that suggested she
would rather take it home than explain
why it was the wrong product).
   We pulled up to the house and, as I
got out to open her door, the horn sounded
and the engine restarted.
   "What did you do", my wife asked?
   "I'm not sure, I said, "but whatever it
was, I'm sure it was wrong!"
    Some days you just have to wave a
white flag!
    Hope you have the correct change and
that all your NEWS is good!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Really Great Gift!

  I could hardy believe my eyes!
  Even "Russian Christmas" had ended.
  And yet, there it was, a present I
had never actually asked for but had
wanted for a very long time!
   It wasn't boxed or gift wrapped and
there was no bow.
   As a matter of fact this unexpected
gift wasn't solely for me.
   It was offered to all of the people
who attended the Cinemark Movie
Theaters in Moosic as of this past
   It was a full screen announcement
warning patrons not to Text during
the movie!
   Most theaters have been asking
customers to refrain from using their
cell phones for the past few years. That
is nothing new.
   The requests are usually presented
in a brief sentence or two that are
shown on the screen just prior to the
feature film. It's usually something like
"Please be courteous to those around you
and silence your cell phone during the
  But many of those who abided by the
request still didn't hesitate to fire up their
cell phone screen to text friends or family
while the rest of us tried to follow the
story line and scene as our eyes were
involuntarily yanked to that little bright
light in the dark!
   I'm not that attentative to begin with.
   It dosn't take a whole lot o distract me!
   And I don't want to be mean. I mean
some of those text messages are probably
important......"How U doing", "What's up
bro?"...things like that.
   While still courteous, Cinemark's new
announcement not only prohibits texting
but reminds prospective violators that
they risk being asked to leave the theater
if they choose to ignore the rule!
   Thank you Cinemark for this wonderful
gift! I don't care if there wasn't any
   Now please follow through! If they
text them....toss them!
    Here's hoping all the movie chains
will do the same and, for my readers,
that all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our "Russian Christmas" Party!

  Anyone searching for the Spirit of Christmas
would have found it alive and well at my
daughter's house yesterday!
   Admittedly our family gathering just happen
to be scheduled for the day those who follow
the Julian Calendar observe their traditional
   And though not a "Russian" walked
among us this was "Christmas" at it's best!
   I grew up in a house with my one brother
and he was 8 years older than I!
   But my wife comes from a large family.
   And when any two or more of those
family members get together it quickly
becomes a party!
   This gathering included my wife, two of her
sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece, her husband,
their baby, a brother, a sister-in-law, our
daughter, son-in-law, another niece and
her son, two grand kids, our son, and two
close family friends. Add me and that's
   Of course, as is usually the case, there
was food enough for nearly twice that many!
  There was wine, the women, and song!
  The girls provided harmony........that is they
all were in tune....well...let's say they joined
in "singing" tunes from various decades.
   They even knew some of the lyrics. A few
    There were games. I didn't get too close!
But I know one involved cards placed on
the table quickly and prompted screams of
delight from my sister-in-law that drowned
out the play-by-play from the football game
many of the men were watching!
    I guess she was winning!
    But I suspect her shouts may have been
influenced a bit by the wine! I'm glad we didn't
include Vodka for the sake of Russian
    The house was filled with cross talk,
laughter and a lot of love!
    And isn't that what Christmas, "Russian"
or "Western" is all about?
    I hope you've experienced plenty of that
this Christmas season and that all of your
NEWS is good!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

T'was The Day Before Christmas! (Russian that is)

      Twas the day before Christmas.
      And talk about luck.
      My buddy and his wife,
      Just got a new truck!
      But that's not the half of it!!!!!!!
      First you should know that, in my
     buddy's case. getting a new truck is
     NOT very big news!
       We used to think he got one every
     time his ash tray filled. But he
     doesn't smoke!
        Chevrolet pick ups are, to him, something
     like the "Energizer Bunny!" Except in his
     case they just keep "coming and coming!"
         And his latest came on Russian Christmas
         A celebration seemed in order so we
     decided to go out for pizza.
         But here's the thing. One of our favorite
     pizza places is just outside Port Jervis, New
         I know! Some of you are thinking there are
     plenty of good pizza joints a little closer than
     that. But, heck, the new truck has to rack up
    500 miles before it's officially "broken in". So,
    we figured, why not get started!
         Of course "break in rules" require somewhat
    slower speeds than most people drive on the
    Interstates. So we followed the rules and watched
    as everything from old VW's to Double Tractor
    Trailers whizzed by.
          After dinner we made our traditional stop at
     a "Dollar Store" near the restaurant.
           Real "cheapies"...right?
           Well if that's what you're thinking consider
     the fact that our next stop, by unanimous
     consent, was the "Mighty M Gaming Casino"
     in Monticello, New York!
             "Russian Christmas Eve" seemed like a
     lucky day! And boy.....did that turn out to be
              With the fresh smell of a new car filling
     his lungs my buddy hit the slots and came out
    a winner!
               His wife was at the right machine at the
     right time and won a nice monetary prize
     awarded every hour to some lucky player.
               The Casino was a big winner too!
               It won all the money my wife and I
     put into the machines we were playing!
               Next time I'm buying the truck!!!!!!!!
               And so I exclaimed as we drove out
     of sight........"How come you guys won all
     the money tonight!"
                Merry Russian Christmas and may all
     your NEWS be good!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's On Your House?

       A string of colored Christmas
lights still celebrates the season around
our front porch. They're the only ones
on our street. But, then, they were always
the only ones on our street this season!
        Others are scattered throughout our
development and most are still turned on
as soon as it gets dark.
        Some of my friends, and relatives,
on Facebook write that they have taken
down their holiday lights.
        Some have already been replaced
by Valentine Hearts!
        Guess they couldn't fine anything
appropriate for Martin Luther King
         And I've already spotted one
 "dead" Christmas tree.....tossed out for
 the trash man.
        I've been urging everyone to hang
on to Christmas at least until our friends
of the Russian Orthodox Faith have their
celebration this Saturday. Christmas, as
I've insisted before comes and goes far
too fast.
         I know the decorations will all
soon be gone in most neighborhoods.
         In fact one string of lights on our
small Christmas tree went dark the other
day and we're not about to re-string it
this late in the season.
        I believe my wife has already
penciled in a "take down the decorations
day" for next week.
        That will mean getting out and
climbing up the ladder! All those
staples we weren't sure would hold,
when we put everything up, will now
fight to the death to stay in place!
        It will be cold. It doesn't matter
what day we pick for dis assembly.
Global warming will have no effect!
        It WILL be COLD!
        And I will bruise. Careful as I
try to be....I will bruise!
       I wonder if I can come up with
some rational to make the Christmas
lights a permanent fixture?
      Probably not! She's already
marked the calendar!  Oh well.
        Of course when you get right down
to it it's the "Spirit of Christmas" most of
us would like to see preserved.
         Whether your Christmas lights and
decorations are up or down I hope you're
doing your part to remember why we
celebrated in the first place!
        That said, I also hope all your NEWS
is good!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

This Is For The Birds!

   OK, We've had
Christmas, New Year's
Eve, and New Year's Day.
   Just ahead we've got "Russian Christmas",
Martin Luther King Day, and Chinese New
  And you though we were through with the
"Holiday Season!"
  I wonder how many of you know that today
is "National Bird Day?" Not be be confused
with "Bird Day" or "International Migratory
Bird Day."
  National Bird Day was established by bird
activists. I'm going to go "out on a limb" here
and suggest these were actually "people
activists" acting on behalf of birds. I don't
thing "bird activists" could mount much of a
lobbying effort!
  Anyway, these activists set up National Bird
Day to "recognize the plight of captive birds."
  Now, as it happens, my wife and  I have a
"captive bird."
  He is a Cockatiel. And I haven't noticed him
to be in any sort of "plight."
  We adopted, or rescued him, from his previous
owner who was moving to an apartment where
only one pet was permitted per unit.
  She had a dog and the bird and choose to keep
the dog.
  I suppose she could have freed the Cockatiel
from captivity just be releasing it out her
  Had she done so our feathered friend would be
free. Although it occurs to me the outside
temperatures of the past two days might
have found him facing a rather serious "plight!"
  Instead he is perched in a clean cage in a warm
house with food, water, and even "toys" he
seems to enjoy.
  If he is in "plight" he hasn't said anything
about it as yet. Admittedly his vocabulary is
somewhat limited. But he does insist he
"is a pretty bird" and sometimes asks "How are
  We have some fish too!
  I'm not sure if there's any "fish activists" out
there. And I don't know if there's a "National
Fish Day."
   We don't have a cat. Well. not exactly. As I've
noted before there are a lot wandering through
our development. They're not only not
captive. They're owner-less! Some local
"activist" seems to be encouraging their
reproduction and then making sure they're
not held captive by releasing them to howl at
night and sit on car hoods in the morning
    Somebody who must have just moved in
posted a sign near the mailboxes the other day.
    It gave us a big laugh!
    Seems they "found a small black cat."
    I think they're going to need a lot of
note paper if they stick around any length of
    I think, for the time being, I'll keep the
Cockatiel in his cage and the fish in their
    I'll let you know if I see any signs of
    Hope you're not facing any...and that all
your NEWS is good!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

But Baby It's Cold Outside!

     I think we got spoiled by what has been
some very mild weather for this time of the
     That's why, at least for me, the cold
temperatures and frigid winds over the
past two days got me to thinking there will
be a winter after all.
     The wind was the biggest problem for me!
     On Monday it scattered the contents of
my Recycling container all across my front
yard, the street,a neighbor's property and the
edge of the nearby woods.
     I had already spent a good ten minutes
bending over recovering the cans and
plastic bottles when I began to realize I was
picking up a lot of products we never used!
     Surely no one would be littering around
here! Yet, I started filling a second
container where once there was only one.
      If an "ill wind blows no good" what do
you call a wind that brings somebody else's
     And why can't it blow all the cats away?
     It was just as cold and windy yesterday!
    But this time I escaped.......on a shopping
trip! Don't laugh! Not only did it get me out
of the cold.......it introduced me to some new
shopping carts!
    I don't have to tell regular readers how
annoyed I get with shoppers who leave their
carts where ever they want in front of the
stores they've patronized. That's usually
right in front of the space where their car
had been parked!
     I've seen a real mess over the past
couple of days at my nearby Walmart. I
suppose the cold is to blame for that as
    The other day I personally pushed my
cart and two others back inside the store.
    I got both a "thanks" and a job offer from
the greeter! I'll have to think about that.
    But, back to the store visited yesterday,
they have carts with tall poles attached.
    They reminded me of the Bumper cars
at Knoebels that use similar poles to power
them around their rink.
    The carts in the store don't use any power,
except that provided by those of us who
push them. But the poles prevent customers
from taking the carts outside the store!
    Of course the system does present a
problem for those who buy a lot and have to
figure out how to get their packages from
the store exit to their car. But at least the
parking lot is full of cars....not carts!
    I didn't have that much to carry and,
anyway, the wind helped push me along!
    Hope you're warm and cozy and that
all your NEWS is good!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Day The Music Died (almost!)

  As promised in an earlier blog, I've been
enjoying this Christmas season since the
first signs of its coming showed up in
decorated trees set up in ceiling displays
in Home Depot sometime in September!
   I noticed them on the 29th of that month.
   Yea...many do "rush" the season. But
it sure comes and goes quickly!
   Part of my enjoyment comes from the
Christmas music. It slips into a lot of
radio station formats gradually, although
some play it continuously for a couple
weeks just before December 25th.
   WLSH in Lansford used to play
Christmas music from Thanksgiving till
"Russian Christmas" on January 7th.
   I was disappointed this year when they
returned to their regular format the day
after Christmas.
  There must be a few "Bah, Humbug
listeners" out there!
  Sirius XM Satellite radio filled the
void for me....but only till New Year's
Day. It's special "Holiday channels"
have gone dark till next year.
   Now I know a lot of you (probably
most) are more than ready to give up
"Here Comes Santa Claus" and
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer."
    Chances are the only lyric that
sounds popular about now is...."Mom
and Dads can hardy wait for school to
start again!"
     But the nice thing about radio is
there are so many frequencies,
including the new HD channels,
that a broadcaster can offer its "regular
format" and something completely
different on it's other channel.
     I wouldn't mind losing some of
the music I've heard lately in favor of
some "Christmas time" standards.
    Cracker Barrel and Cabela's stores
seem compelled to offer a constant flow
of Country Western tunes that quite often
fall off the ridge into the "Hillbilly
category." I need some sort of radio
closed caption to understand what they're
whining about!
     On the other hand there are a lot of
songs we tie to Christmas that don't
hang their stockings on "Santa."
    "The Christmas Song", and music
from "The Nutcracker" are just two
examples that come to mind.
    But they're dumped along with
Frosty the Snowman" on or about
December 26th.
    Oh well, at least "Sky Piano" is
still offering a bit of the season on
line.....at least for the moment.
    I'm not "Russian" but I'll continue
to tune in at least till my friends of the
Orthodox faith have enjoyed their day!
    Hope you'll keep a few of the tunes
in your heart and mind, if not on the air,
and that all of your NEWS is good!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New New Year's Tradition?

  Wow! What a busy start to the new year!
  Church, then dinner, then a ride to Cabela's,
then a stop at Christmas Village, then an
evening stop at a 50's era diner. 
   This wonderful day, with family and friends,
 was just another part of our ongoing efforts
 to celebrate the holidays and to "keep
 Christmas" as long as we possibly can!
    But we were three quarters of the way
 through our day and driving along
 a very dark and rainy road somewhere
 between Berks and Schuylkill County when
 my wife suddenly remembered something
 about having pork and sauerkraut on the
 first of the year to guarantee "good luck."
    We're not really very big on
 superstitions like that. But we do like
 both the pork and the sauerkraut so, we
 figured, what's to lose by seeking them
    Since there weren't any restaurants along
 our route, or any other buildings either,we
 headed for the closest "civilization" which
 looked to be the Pottsville area.
    That's where we found the bright neon
lights of the aluminum like diner with black
and white checkered floor and songs by
Brenda Lee, Elvis, and the like coming
from speakers set up next to photos of
pink Cadillacs and such!
    In our minds, a good hot dog with
 sauerkraut would prove pretty tasty and
 cover our entry into the "good luck lottery!"
    But here, as Paul Harvey used to say,
 is the rest of the story.
    My buddy decided to make his own
 luck by ordering desert instead of a dog!
    I could understand that. His sundae
 looked delicious!  I guess I could even
 support the addition of a few potato chips
 he "liberated" from his wife. But he lost
 me completely when he added a pickle
 to the mix! I mean, pickles and ice cream
 have been linked with expecting moms for
 years and years.
     But I've never heard them tied to New
 Year's Day! Could they be a "New-New
 Year's Tradition?" And, if so, will they
 bring you luck?
     Perhaps you'd like to give that combo
 a try while the year is still so new?
     I'll have to check with my buddy
 today to see if he's still celebrating,
 or buying Bromo Seltzer!
     Hope your New Year is off to a great
 start and that all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


  I like holiday traditions!
  I watch "A Christmas Carol" every
Christmas.....as many versions as
possible. "A Christmas Story" is a
"must see" every year too!
  I read "Polar Express" to my grand
kids every Christmas Eve.
  And, for the past few years, our
family welcomes the New Year 12
hours ahead of most of the rest of
   My daughter came up with the
idea after seeing the youngest and
oldest in our clan (I claim the latter
title) try to keep their eyes open to
watch the ball come down on Times
Square after a full day of talking,
playing, and eating.
    Of course that ball marks the
beginning of a new year......but not
everywhere! There are lots of midnights
around planet earth so we decided to
celebrate the one that equates with the
Noon hour at my daughter's house!
   That, by the way, would be
Midnight in Jakarta, Indonesia!
   So, we celebrate "New Year's Noon!"
   You have all the fun, while everybody
is awake, and get a head start on the
New Year.
   I nearly had the rest of you beat by
36 hours! I forgot what day it was and
was ready to begin the festivities on
Friday at Noon!
   Another great thing....if you miss
Midnight Jakarta time, you've still got
11 more time zones to use to beat the
   By the way, there's little chance I'll
miss the New York celebration too.
   There are enough firecrackers in
our neighborhood to wake the
soundest sleeper when people glued
to "the tube" watch that ball drop!
   In any case, whatever time zone
you're using to mark the start of
2012, the New Year will be well
underway by the time you read this
   And with that in mind I'd like to
wish you all a very happy New Year
with the hope that, in it, all your
NEWS will be good!