Archive for December, 2007

Get a night-life

Friday, December 28th, 2007
Michael McGuire

It’s 6:40 p.m. on Friday. And I’m here late because I wanted to bounce some ideas of my readers.

Below are some of the possible names for the classless, body odor-filled bar I’d like to own someday. I thought up some slogans, too, with the hopes that the bar will gain a disgusting enough reputation to warrant selling T-shirts with bright decals and funny characters on them (I’m told it’s important to cross-market and develop value-added products).

Have a look-see:

Name: McScurvy’s
Slogan: “If you’re ugly, we’re open.”

Name: The Busted Grill
Slogan: “There’s no cover charge, but you have to let us knife you.”

Name: The Damp Sleeping Bag
Slogan: “Home of the first Little Debbie Urinal Cake”

Name: Butterfly Kisses
Slogan: “Don’t worry. If she hasn’t left you yet, she will.”

Name: Hotel Honduras
Slogan: “1st World time at 3rd world prices.”

Name: The Bill Collector
Slogan: “You’re only homeless when we’re closed.”

Name: Plywood Palace
Slogan: “Doors lock when pyrotechnics start.”

Name: Jail Bait
Slogan: “Technically you can’t date ‘em, but theoretically you can sure as hell fight over ‘em.”

Feel free to help me out if you come up with any of your own.

New Year’s resolution: Don’t make resolutions

Friday, December 28th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

It’s that time of year again. Are you ready? January first is just a few days away, so I guess that means we have to decide what we want to change about ourselves or what bad habit we want to give up or what goals we want to achieve, and even if we’re not all that serious about them now, we better make those resolutions now.

If you can’t tell, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m not sure what it is about them, but every time I hear someone talk about them, I have to roll my eyes just a little and let out a louder than necessary sigh.
Now let me explain that I am all for making changes in order to be exactly what you want to be and in order to achieve exactly what you want to achieve, I just don’t like the idea of making a decision to do something on an arbitrary date, just because that’s what everyone else is going to be doing.

There are several things I want to accomplish this year. I want to be less stressed, more organized and less dependent on other people to accomplish the things I want to get done. I want to make more of an effort to be happy, and to always remember that I am the only one I can blame when I’m not, and I want to put my mind to every task I’m working on and give it my best. But I know that just because January first rolls around, that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly ready to organize my house, my office and my car and keep it that way for the next 365 days.

To me January first is just an arbitrary number, not unlike May 16 or July 8. It’s not the day that is important, it’s being ready to do what you want to do, and being dedicated to doing it.

I can say I want to lose 10 pounds, but unless I’m really ready to push myself to do it, I know it probably isn’t going to happen. So make your New Year’s resolutions if you want, but remember, if you aren’t willing to put in the work, you’re probably going to be making that same resolution in 2009.

A Shopping Cart Christmas Carol Classic

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“These Three Carts” (done to the tune of “We Three Kings”)

These three carts of P&C are
Wheel bearings un-greased they traverse afar.
Snow bank and fountain, Street corner and mountain,
Acting as make-shift cars

Chorus
O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Carts with foil antennas might,
Pick-up a TV station, no it’s fading,
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Born as carts on P&C’s lot,
WD-40 I have to unfreeze them again,
Carts forever, rusting never
Still abandoned by all in shame.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Carts filled with garbage and gas create fire bright,
Portable oven, char-broiled chariot we’re lovin’
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

No Common Sense to offer have I.
Leave a perfectly good cart on the neighbor’s lawn to die.
Drunk and hazy really lazy,
Steal new cart and go get high.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Three carts on the front porch make it tight,
We’ll hang on lawn until they’re mysteriously gone
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Carts not mine: It’s a bitter dispute
Though the store manager doesn’t shout of gathering gloom.
It’s the neighbors, haters, cops and writers,
That give me such an awful time.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
We’ll take the carts back and make it right,
Squeaking, squirreling, leftward turning
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Glorious now behold the zip ties,
worse for ware, but here the cart lies.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Sounds through the cart return area and skies.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
The carts are home to reunite,
From store to car, they travel no more far
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Feeding the fire

Thursday, December 13th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

Few people would argue that young children are watching too little television. In fact, in the last few years the childhood obesity rate has skyrocketed, partially as a result of increased time spent watching television and playing video games instead of playing sports and enjoying outdoor activities.

With the staggering statistics on childhood obesity (the numbers have tripled since 1970) and television time (most kids watch an average of four hours of television a day) it doesn’t seem likely that children need any encouragement to watch more television, but that’s exactly what they are getting.

A couple of months ago, a satellite installer came to my house to set up my television. When he saw my one year old son, he immediately started telling me about the new television station they offered just for babies. Apparently there is an educational, commercial-free television station targeting children from six months to three years of age.

As if that wasn’t enough, video game makers are now targeting the same age group. The concept behind these things is to provide an opportunity for parents and children to interact while playing these games or watching the television, which is fine, but it seems to me that children get addicted to television and video games quickly enough on their own. Do we really need to spoon feed it to them before they have any interest in it at all?

Sitting kids in front of the television from the time they’re 6 months old is only going to teach them that that is an acceptable habit and something they should do all the time.

I guess if these programs are used as an alternative to traditional television and video games, this is definitely the better way to go, but wouldn’t it be even better to interact with your kids rather than letting the television do it for you?

Can only say what is said

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

I’m a reporter and unless I’m ranting in an editorial piece like the one you’re reading we aren’t allowed to say anything in the ‘news’ ourselves. We can only repeat what others have said.
I often get remarks, “you should do this or cover that.”
I say, “You know, you’re right. That would be a story, can I quote you on that?”
People usually respond, “We’ll you didn’t hear it from me.”
“Fine,” I say, “Who can I talk to, who will go on the record? Where did you get your information?”
“I can’t tell you that, I don’t want to get people in trouble.”
That is a conversation I’ve had a hundred times.

Think about it. I can say I got my information from reliable source ‘A’, hence the whole system of quoting and credibility. Attacking an agency like DSS or the Sheriff’s Office based on unconfirmed, unidentified source, ‘B.S.,’ might be good enough for gossip but not for professional journalism.

Another one frequently asked is, “Why don’t you tell the other side of the story?”
My answer, “No one wanted to tell it to me.”
Take the Plymouth Fires for example, a lot of fishy circumstances and tons of complaining and speculation. Watch how fast those remarks evaporate when I ask, “ Is that on the record?”

So I’m left with what I’m given or what I get, that’s it. The system isn’t perfect and sometimes the truth is dangerous to those that tell it. The truth people find comes from an origin else where and the key is finding that trail of bread crumbs.

Call me idealistic

Friday, December 7th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Regarding my pro stance on the Town of Norwich and City of Norwich taking part in a joint consolidation study, one reader that doesn’t agree wrote: “Michael is pretty young and idealistic, which is to be expected and also is proper.”

I actually think I’m pretty cynical, and at 25, I feel like I’m 40 (too many late night’s at Millie’s Diner).

I see my position as being more pessimistic than anything else. It’s born from a lack of faith in local government.

A lack of faith that it will ever be proactive. A lack of faith that it will ever take risks. A lack of faith that it can ever look beyond the short term. A lack of faith that it can really get anything done on its own. A lack of faith that it can ever lead.

If anyone’s idealistic, it’s the people on the Norwich town board who think they live on an Island Kingdom beholden to no one.

Furthermore, if anyone’s idealistic, it’s people in local government who think Chenango County will get better if we stay the course.

Who knows, maybe if we do nothing the county will become a tourism hotspot?

“If you think Branson sucks, wait till you see Norwich!” A pamphlet might read.

I know local governments can rest on their laurels. I know local governments have excuses. I know local governments hate Albany. I know local governments can meet for two hours once a month. I know local governments can react after a situation reaches crisis mode.

What I don’t think local governments can do is develop a realistic vision of the future. They sure can develop a future based on a fantastic version of the past.

Elwood. A fair system is not always just

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

If you read my thumbs in Friday’s paper I did something I don’t, I decided to disapprove of a jury’s decision. Not in the aspect of guilty or innocent but the fact that they found him guilty of half of the crimes. I thought it was a- most, all or nothing kind of crime.

I sat through the entire case. By the end I’m pretty sure the jury misunderstood what in-concert meant. Probably most of them zoned out during the 60 minute jury charge explaining all the finite details of our legal system-which could numb a snowman’s mind after the first 5.

Ohl was a liar, his testimony from the prior court appearance changed and it was pretty obvious by his shifty demeanor besides. But I didn’t believe Elwood either and so the only credible testimony about the specifics of the rape come from the traumatized victim-which could obviously be askew, but not intentionally so. She said Elwood was a foot behind Ohl watching them during the attempted rape/rape, while holding a gun. Elwood even said he was standing with his back turned to the room, 15 feet away, for 7 to 8 minutes when the rape happened and claimed was completely oblivious to what his partner was exactly doing.

So according to the defense: the suspects were there for 15 or less minutes and the rape took half that time. Elwood said he was naïvely drawn into carrying an assault rifle, that may or may not have been loaded and fully automatic, into a home at 11:30 p.m. He was pulled into this unfortunate set of circumstances after watching his “little brother” break into an apparent empty home. After being deceived by his drugged out “little brother” as to the nature of being at the house Elwood decided to leave the scene but stopped because he heard a woman scream. He then went inside, gun in hand. He then stood by as a confused bystander without inquiring into the actions of his friend for 7 to 8 minutes while a woman screamed bloody murder and was raped.

I didn’t buy it but obviously others did. This by the way is the first time, since his arrest, numerous court appearances and so on, that Elwood ever reported this specific chain of events. He literally change his entire story on the stand and blamed the police for making him give a false statement while simultaneously presenting a story where he is completely innocent and blameless. Deny all, play stupid routine… good thing high school principles aren’t as gullible as jurors. (Or in my case too bad)

If he had said, “Hey, I don’t know what my buddy was doing, handling the woman I guess. She was screaming but that’s what you’d expect in this kind of situation. I was too busy searching the joint for money and other people to worry about it. Besides I was high as a kite and can’t really remember everything anyway,” I might have believed that.

The question is this, if police or anyone else came towards the house would’ve Elwood warned his friend in the other room? Did he know the woman was being raped, was there enough to assume? Did he know enough about what was happening not to ask? If you said yes to any of these questions then he’s in concert. It’s called keeping watch. If he knew that something sexual was going on and would warn his buddy of a threat then voila you have in concert.

He would have warned his friend. DA McBride said it best in court, “At that point sir you made a decision. A decision to look out for you and your buddy over the woman.”

A fair system is not always just but it’s the best there is. I applaud the jury and their service to our community. This is a respectful criticism and I was obviously not inside the walls of the juror room when the decision was made.