Archive for January, 2007

Ass-u-me

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Coffee, Nazi’s and Congressman [tag]Mike Arcuri[/tag] – probably not a tag-line the new representative had in mind on Saturday when he came to Norwich for what was presumably his first official visit to the area as an elected official.

But this wasn’t the typical weekend feel-gooder I thought it would be, either. I planned on a few “atta boy’s,” the usual quotes, a staged picture, and me getting in and out and on my merry way to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

To my surprise, at times it was tense and awkward in the [tag]Coffee Connection[/tag], which is the last thing you expect in a cafe – unless you’re there competing in an espresso drinking contest with our staff photographer and local Paesan Icon, Frank Speziale.

Don’t be fooled, it started out as a love-fest. People cheered Arcuri’s work on a defeated minimum wage bill (a whopping $.20 increase for New York) like he had just saved the world from impending doom – which isn’t too far off from what they would ask him to do later on.

The crowd suddenly turned, with good reason, when Arcuri tried to cut-off the questioning about 40 minutes before his time was up (I think he started early, not sure if there was mis-communication).

People wanted answers. They wanted the Iraq war over, President Bush impeached, the [tag]NYRI[/tag] power line buried, universal health care, and a medium coffee with no sugar and lots of cream – lots of cream.

But Arcuri was not easily stirred (haha). He didn’t have – and wouldn’t give – all the answers they wanted. Even after the boos came.

Not to say he was right or wrong, but I think it’s cool when people stand their ground when they probably shouldn’t. That doesn’t happen often, especially when people are throwing copious amounts of iced latte at you (No lattes were actually thrown. However, the traditional fruit and vegetable ammunition was not on hand if it came to that – so when in Rome…)

– Editor’s note: The views expressed by this blogger are not necessarily the views of The Evening Sun or Snyder Communications.

One guy said that if we didn’t stop President Bush, that Americans were no different than the Germans in the 1930′s. Another added that the crimes America has committed in Iraq were no different than the war crimes that Nazi’s were put on trial for at Nuremberg.

It got heavy. I’ve been heavy. And let me tell you – it was hot in there.

I’d say I felt bad for Arcuri, but it didn’t look like he needed any pity from me. I thought he handled himself pretty good. Actually, I think the only person that was distraught was me.

Prone to overheating anyway, being surrounded by a bunch of steamed citizens and jugs of whistling hot coffee in a small place was scary. I didn’t prepare for a grilling – I didn’t even shave (which was the only thing that kept the guys behind me from beating me up, I think).

Next time I won’t assume that a fluffy atmosphere gathers a fluffy crowd. I’ll assume that people, if they feel strongly enough, will speak their minds no matter where they are and who they’re talking to. I won’t assume that [tag]politicians[/tag] won’t do the same.

Stupid Bowl 41

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

As I’m sure you all know, this weekend is the [tag]Super Bowl[/tag], or as my sister and I always referred to it, the [tag]Stupid Bowl[/tag]. If you can’t tell, we’re not big fans of football, and even the highly talked about commercials aren’t enough to hold our interest.

Frankly, I’ve never gotten the point of watching something just for the [tag]commercials[/tag], no matter how good they are. Are there commercials that make me laugh, yes, like the one where the gas tank pours garbage into the car. That always makes me laugh, but am I going to waste four hours of my life vegging on my couch so I can go to work and talk about them tomorrow, probably not.

The entire advertising market behind the Super Bowl seems like it has gotten out of control. 30 second ads cost millions of dollars, and while advertisers say it is worth it because of the vast number of people watching the game, people don’t even remember what many of the commercials advertised.

What is worse is the fuss made about the advertisements the next day. Call me crazy, but do you know what I like to see on the morning news? News. That’s about it. I don’t want in depth analysis of the [tag]Budweiser Frogs[/tag] that made such a splash -pardon the pun- I want to see a few news stories, maybe the weather and nothing else.

So have fun watching the Super Bowl this weekend, but I’m going to pass. While everyone else is watching, I’m going to be out shopping. There should be much less competition for a dressing room.

They’re only ‘moments’ of doubt

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

What is it in us that leads some to pursue their loyalties while others head down the road of temptation. Temptation and devotion, love and lust, pain and pleasure, they all seem to leave similar marks on the heart and have more in common than I think most realize. Yet the distinction between each is as different as never and forever.

“Only a fool tries to find logic in the chambers of the human heart.” Does that mean our beliefs regarding the matter can only be considered under faith and trust? From my personal experiences I’d have to say yes. No wonder we are left so wounded and vulnerable when things go wrong. I think it is because in order for one to achieve true trust and faith in another requires, to a large part, your belief that they will return the gesture and when one side fails the other is left holding nothing but a lack of understanding.

We fully don’t understand why we take the plunge because a lot of it is based on trust but most would agree that the temptation of discovering true happiness lies down this road. Perhaps that is what motivate us to take such leaps of faith in other people. The worst kinds of pain are the ones least understood. Since we lack an understanding it can be very difficult to figure out how to cope. Some turn to bitterness and hate, but like most subjects these two negative emotions infect, they often lead people to become more like the object of their contempt, or worse. I’m not even sure if you could ever get any closure from a thing you never truly understood… but we do try don’t we? Acceptance is a hard step but an even harder one is believing in love enough to take a second trip down the risky road.

I for one am a firm believer that the marks of a lost love never leave you. The harder and more cruel the break up the greater the trauma. Most of us are lucky if one day we can pull ourselves back up scarred but otherwise unscathed. The true measure of our belief in love will again be tested by another. Love sought rarely seems to be love delivered. I often feel random fate might select a better match than my active participation in the matter.

Despite all this I find the greatest feat of love is my refusal to give up on it and I swear to god I never will. I can’t imagine a life without having a passion for it. To give up on a notion so refined and perfect as love to me in essence is to give up on life. I’ll gladly cross paths with pain and suffering. Even if I have to pry it from the grim reaper’s own hand, I will before I hand over my hope. There is not a purer form of happiness and hope than true love.

Is love a choice or does fate strike a lucky few with the circumstances. In such a crazy world with so many different people it’s one hell of an optimistic thought to think we all can find it. I do believe however love sometimes flickers and in that instance if you have the courage and hope you can step forward to seize an opportunity that might otherwise slip by.

My meager advice, if it was asked would be; a bad outcome does not always come from a bad decision. Hope and faith logically have huge risks don’t let failures discourage the reason you originally believed in them. Your past may hurt because that is how we learn but more importantly it is also how we change. You won’t find closure from anyone except yourself and the choice is yours alone to make, the repercussion and rewards will be yours alone to bare.

Progressional insanity

Sunday, January 28th, 2007
Jeff Genung

“Progress may have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.”
– [tag]Ogden Nash[/tag]

Oh, the things that amuse me when I’m stuck at the office after 11 on a Saturday night. Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s time once again for that little special section we like to call “[tag]Progress Chenango[/tag].”

The 2007 edition will start appearing in your [tag]Evening Sun[/tag] with the first two sections in Monday’s edition. Progress, for the uninitiated, is our annual comprehensive review of the business and community organization climate in [tag]Chenango County[/tag]. It is a Herculean task, requiring stellar efforts on the part of our editorial, advertising and press room staffs. It is undeniably our biggest undertaking of the year, and arguably our best. Many newspapers publish similar “Progress” sections annually, but I’d stack ours up among the best in the state.

That said, it is also a tremendous pain in the ass.

I say that with love, of course.

Anyone who’s ever been anywhere near me during the last two weeks in January for the past decade or so knows just what a bear I become during this project. While the sales staff and my reporters spend the first part of the month soliciting ads and gathering stories, my own personal hell doesn’t begin until theirs is over.

There not being enough hours in the regular work day to put out what is essentially another edition a day for an entire week, I accomplish most of my Progress editing and layout tasks at night – and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

Some casual observations after spending the last 48 hours chained to this desk:

1. I should never drink coffee past 8 p.m.

2. I should not try to compensate for drinking coffee past 8 p.m. by taking anything called “Simply Sleep” when I get home. It is definitely not that simple.

3. Pat Newell seriously needs to clean up his cubicle.

4. I should crank the heat up to 75 here more often.

5. Lackawanna Avenue is not a pleasant neighborhood at midnight. Lots of people must walk to and from Beadle’s. Drunk, both ways.

6. One of them left a crockpot in a plastic bag right outside our office door. Perhaps it’s some sort of message.

7. Before I get too loopy from a serious lack of sleep and an overdose of Snickers and Crackerjacks, I think I’ll wrap this up …

Being largely alone in the office at night toiling away on Progress not only allows me to revel in my own martyrdom, it also allows me to reflect on the state of affairs at the newspaper, and dream up new ways to entertain and inform my readers and torture my staff.

So please, enjoy the fruits of our labors as Progress Chenango 2007 rolls off the presses this week, and then look forward to some hopefully exciting upcoming changes in The Evening Sun as we ‘progress’ into the new year.

Blog

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Michael McGuire

There are always winners and losers in a story. Any story. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Along those lines, someone brought up a thought provoking point to me earlier today (Jan. 24), expressing that this [tag]blog[/tag] is essentially an unprofessional tool of my trade (which is at this point more like an apprenticeship). They asked me how I could write objectively write about a story in one part of the website, and then use absurdity and mockery to express a strong opinion on the same subject in another part of the site.

No, this person was not a [tag]shopping cart[/tag] attendant.

I felt like telling them, “very carefully.” But they had a valid argument.

I don’t know how we keep it separate, and keep it objective. I know I take pride in keeping the facts straight, presenting all the sides, and letting the reader make their own judgment on a news story.

Sometimes the facts are ugly. Sometime’s people look ugly because that’s the part their actions or words have allowed you to see. Sometimes, a spade is a spade.

I call them like I see them. I call them as they’ve been presented to me.

A blog isn’t all that different. I’ll admit there is less emphasis on giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially if I personally think they don’t deserve it – doesn’t mean it is not the truth.

I think in the blogs, reporters, at least the way I approach it, put a lot more on the line than they do in a news story. While news might be controversial, we can find refuge in “objectivity.” In a blog, we are leaving are chins wide-open, and we are the only ones accountable for what we put down.

And just like a news story, people can comment and voice their views to me, agree or disagree, and take me to task if they have to.

Blogs provide an [tag]exercise in objectivity[/tag], while they may not be objective. There would be no point to reading a story and then reading a blog that says the same thing, presented the exact same way. Blogs, just like news, are meant to make people make a choice. If I wrote a blog, passed it off as objective, but it was false, than that is wrong and unprofessional. But if I present my opinion, and make that abundantly clear, and make a reader make a choice – than I think that is being responsible and smart, if not objective.

The return of “Grace”

Monday, January 22nd, 2007
Jessica Lewis

I’m sure no sight could possibly be more amusing than watching a non-skier attempt to ski for the first time. I am sure of this, because as I was attempting to ski at my sister’s house yesterday, I could hear the uproarious laughter echoing from the house, as my sisters, nieces, nephews, brothers in law and I think even my 9 month old baby pointed and laughed at me.

I’ve never been known for my coordination. In fact, as a child going through my awkward stage, my oldest sister nicknamed me Grace, because of my obvious lack in that area. For all children, the awkward stage is different, and can last longer or shorter amounts of time. I just hope that mine will end soon, because, as my husband keeps telling me, I bruise far too easily to be falling down the stairs so often.

Yesterday, I  felt inspired. Shaking off the remnants of my formerly clumsy self, I strapped on the ski boots and shakily made my way outside. I had the skis on in moments and was feeling confident in my abilities. No problem, I thought. I’ll be mastering the slopes in no time. I made a painfully slow lap around the house before I decided to try my luck at skiing down the hill. In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to learn how to stop before attempting to cruise down, but that thought didn’t occur to me as I side-stepped my way up the hill.

It probably took me fifteen minutes, but eventually I was standing at the top of the hill. I had a moment of hesitation as I turned my skis forward and saw the slope ahead of me, but I had no time to rethink my actions, because before I knew it I was moving. “Lean forward, snow plow, snow plow!” Katie (older sister number two) yelled as I picked up more and more speed and the fence at the base of the hill came into view. Of course, to me, snow plow meant absolutely nothing, so instead I flailed my arms and screeched in an ever so elegant way. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of brownish golden fur, my skis went flying out from underneath me and I landed on the ground, tangled in my own skis with a big, furry dog licking my face. “Lucky was not the right name for you,” I said to the dog named Lucky.

I heard a scrape as the windows of the house were pulled open. Laughter poured out  at me. “Good going, Grace,” someone yelled.

As I sat in the snow bank with the improperly named dog tangling his leash around my already disheartened form, I considered not getting back up. Not because I had given up, although I definitely had bruised my pride and some other body parts, but because I found it impossible to try to untangle my skis enough to stand. “Lean forward,” Katie  ordered. “Use the ski poles for balance.” As my six year old nephew grabbed my arm and tried to pull me to my feet, he began giving me pointers for my next trip down the hill, and I felt my last traces of pride dash away.

I’d like to tell you that my next attempt was much improved, but lying has never been my strong suit, so I will just say, I will definitely need some more practice before I hit the real ski slopes, and I guess I will be known as Grace until then.

Kidnapping in Missouri

Thursday, January 18th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

I just finished reading the latest news about the two boys who were kidnapped in Missouri by the manager of a pizza shop. For those who are not familiar with the story, 13 year old Missouri boy went missing after getting off the school bus near his home. His friend saw a white truck speeding away from the location and was able to give the police a description of the vehicle. Four days after his abduction, the police found the 13 year old boy in Michael Devlin’s home, they found another teenage boy who had been missing for four years.

Television and print news agencies have been all over this story, and with good reason. A neighbor of Devlin’s even appeared on a news show the other day. This is the part that really concerns me. Devlin lived in an apartment complex about half an hour from where the boys were kidnapped. The neighbor admitted that he noticed that Devlin suddenly had a teenage boy living in his home. The neighbor went so far as to say how weird he found it that the boy rarely left the apartment and that Devlin was always with him when he did.

What kind of a person can see all of those facts, knowing that a boy, of approximately the same age, had been kidnapped in a neighboring town, and do nothing about it. At some point common sense has to kick in. There had to be at least some hint of suspicion.

I hate the fact that the boy had to suffer for 4 years before he was found, and I hate it even more that it seems so ridiculously obvious from an outsider’s view. I think there must have been at least one split second where this neighbor thought something seems wrong with this situation. People hate to get involved in other people’s business, and they are far too worried about how they will look if they are wrong. The more important question is how will I feel if I am right about this situation, and I do nothing about it.

Random Poetry Rant

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

Four different poems. The Widow, Today, Foreverwild and Fight the good fight. none of them are really related.

The Widow
A solemn widow also did attend,
All alone, every hope and dream did she surrend.
Walking toward the martyr’s great achievement,
Unfortunately fleeing her enduring bereavement.
They only cheer was resident in her advice.
Splendidly given to the rest free of vice.
Preaching not all is lost no matter what the strife,
Although she gave little hope for her own life.
Existing to belong; love in a dream,
Shattered now by god’s great scheme.
Hollowing burning of bleeding memories,
The silent percussion of lost prophecies.
Learning life’s mortal convulsions,
Praying we find our own absolutions.

Today
The future is blooming.
Joy, love, and forever are to come assuming.
All in sacrifice to tomorrow’s tribute.
What to come; all sorrows present become mute.
Nothing stands so astonished as my dreams.
Emotional explosions of hope it seems.
All my heart in the future’s being.
All costs given to accomplish true meaning.
I live forever in that which might exist.
Living in ignorance is great bliss.
How long until it’s here I can not say,
For I lost it all because I forgot to live Today.

Forever Wild
Forever wild heartbeats blaze affection.
All love captured by beauty’s perfection.
An intense rage filled passion
Controlled in such a delicate and settled fashion.
Romantic moments of together,
fall near that of an angel’s feather.
Forever may you choose to be with me
Only then will we become free.

Fight the good fight
The eternal shores of reality beat upon each grain of sand. Blood soaked tide torn forward against barren land. As far as able scope of perception can realize all appears battle worn. Countless bodies turned over in infinite repetition. So many have fought, yet so few have been taught.

The waves never stop; defeat never conceived. Yet open so desolate stands one who still believes. Still as silence stands the defiant. Locked, looking over the deep toward the horizon. Always does it rise, ever reliant. Amidst the carnage does our Angel glare. Knowing the futile quest does nothing but allow the angelic to prepare. To reach the east is what must be achieved. All before have failed and none have ever been retrieved.

The first step of death is contributed. Into fluent oblivion must hope be plunged and refuted. The hateful waters boil red and flare; pain ensues. Forever set delicate blue armor stands. The burning consumption ignored, the righteous continues. A torrent of blood like waves derived. Within every current death flows, but still courage finds a way to survive. Blessed wings take blessed breath, pulled above by will. Laid below is billowing death. Toward an unreachable the Archangel strives to endure. Hope is grasped, honor brought to bare, morality pure.

Alas one more horror appears charged with hate in the deeper. Shrouded in violence and loss approaches the skeletal Reaper. Our Angels fiery sword brought to defend, our Reaper’s icy scythe drawn eagerly to amend. All things hateful does he represent and support. Evil tidings concerning lonely greed does he consort. The battle erupts, sparks of fate fall to the shore. Lightening lit reflections shimmered as never before. The shade defeated our future endures. To the stars triumphant idealism reassures. To the heavens does the impossible achieve, showing us all what we must believe.

‘Idol’ pleasures

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
Jeff Genung

I’d never fire someone for disagreeing with me, of course. But Mr. McGuire’s pushing it.

‘American Idol’ is a really good show.

Yes, I too resisted its charms for the first few seasons. When everyone was talking about Kelly, Justin, Clay, Reuben, Fantasia, Bo, et. al, I was curiously mute. Quickly, I’d try to divert attention to the aforementioned “Apprentice,” but it didn’t always work. I lived in fear that I’d be found out eventually. I was an ‘Idol’ virgin.

Then, last season, the compulsion to be In the Know overtook me. No self-respecting student of pop culture like myself could resist a phenomenon that had so entrenched itself in the modern lexicon. I had to tune in and spend 56 hours with Simon, Randy, Paula and Ryan. I would worship at the altar of ‘Idol.’

Simply by signing over a few precious days of my lifespan to the Fox network and its proud advertisers (I even went out and bought myself a Ford!), I was instantly plugged in to the nation-sweeping drama. I could chime in when someone talked about how Mandisa gave Simon what he deserved. I could nod in agreement when another said how dreamy Ace was. When someone said “Chicken Little,” I got the joke. I considered renaming my cat “Bucky Covington,” just because it flowed so swimmingly off the tongue.

So hold out if you can, Michael. If you’re content with not being One of Us, be my guest. Go ahead and read your books and newspapers and discuss ‘issues’ with your ‘friends.’ Resist the strains of ‘Since U Been Gone’ and listen to your ‘music’ instead. You may call it rugged individualism; I just call it being a loser.

Not The Biggest Loser, of course. That’s on another network.

American Idol-itry

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007
Michael McGuire

I was just reading somewhere that American Idol has no intentions of ever ending.

Before that moment, I had no intention of ever leaving America.

The draft (even though I wasn’t born yet), french fries with gravy, and cheap meds weren’t enough to get me to head for Canada before, and now that I actually want to leave, I’m not even sure If I can go there.

“Hello Canada, do you guys like American Idol?”

“Are ya kidding, ey? That’s like asking if a Brown Lemming can ride in your coat pocket!”

“It is?”

“You bet.”

I’m not sure if they watch American Idol up there or not, but there is an obvious language barrier too large to overcome.

I guess that’s out. So where do I go? What do I do?

I can’t stand American Idol, but I hate change – Canada was pushing it.

I guess I’m like everyone else. I’ll stick around, and put up with something I don’t like.

But we don’t just put up with things – we (American) idolize them.

That show is the same every year, it can’t possibly be any better than it was the first couple times around – and the people they highlight in the popular cattle call episodes can’t possibly get any worse (see William Hung).

So how do they keep it so fresh, dawg? They don’t – we lie to ourselves and say they do. We like routines. We like the comfort of American Idol because we know it’s ok to watch it. We like to talk freely amongst peers and share anecdotes without fear of being called a weirdo.

But oddly enough, we also like things we believe we can call our own. Idol is definitely personal. It gives you a double ego boost; when the people really stink up the joint you get a good laugh “knowing” you are not nearly the loser they are. Second, when you get to the medal rounds, you find hope for yourself in the regular Joes who are living out their dreams for all to see.

They’re heroes.

That means you could be a hero.

It’s genius – but it should be illegal.

Instead of being the next Justin or William Hung, you’ll gather you’re buds and say “couch me” the rest of your life, content with seeing someone else take your limelight while you stand outside the fire (Garth Brooks, he’s my Am-Idol:) ).

That’s right – it should be you on that stage.

No it shouldn’t.

I guess I have no argument. I just don’t like that show and I’m so frustrated that no one else is with me.

If you think everyone is crazy except you, does that mean that you’re crazy?

Crazy and alone – Miss Cleo was right.

In shopping cart news, a friend in New Orleans says that carts down there have a mechanism on them that locks-up the wheels if you try to remove the cart from the parking lot.