Archive for October, 2008

My downtown Norwich wish list

Thursday, October 9th, 2008
Jessica Lewis

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a wider variety of stores to chose from in downtown Norwich. The selection isn’t quite what it used to be, and I could probably think of dozens of shops that I would love to see gracing one of the now empty store fronts on Broad Street. I know Commerce Chenango has a business wish list, and probably a lot of other organizations have created them as well, but here is my own business wish list.

• Shoe store – call me girlie or obsessive or whatever you want, but I enjoy the occasional shoe shopping expedition. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve broken a shoe or needed to find something to go with an outfit and the limited local offering has left me wanting.

• Clothing choices – No offense to McLaughlin’s or Fashion Bug – both stores have nice clothing choices – but Norwich could really use a little more selection when it comes to clothing stores. A little more variety would be a blessing in this area. Especially if we could attract a store with a bigger variety of children’s clothing.

• Music store – I know itunes has diminished the need for a real music store, but I still enjoy going in an actual store, picking up a CD and taking it home with me. Since I’m an adult, I think I should be able to buy a CD, even if it has curse words in it, and listen to the whole thing as the artist intended.

• Toy store – Downtown Norwich has food, ice cream, movies, books, clothes and jewelry, but unless you want to go outside the city limits to WalMart, you’re not going to find much in the way of toys.

• Crafts – Last year I tried desperately to find some last minute candy molds to make favors for a wedding shower I was hosting. After searching all over Norwich and the surrounding areas, I finally gave up and made the trip to Binghamton. It was then that I realized that Norwich doesn’t really have any type of multi-purpose craft store. While there is a fabric shop, there are many other craft items that are impossible to find in the area.

My list could go on and on. Electronics and computers, a bigger variety of dinning options, or how about a place to grab a drink on a Sunday afternoon? I don’t know if any of the stores on my wish list will ever actually make their way to Norwich, but it would make for a vibrant and exciting downtown shopping area.

Life’s not fair

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Tyler Murphy


I hate people who tell me the world isn’t fair. In particularly my third grade elementary school teacher.


The incident began with the victim, Courtney, being assaulted on the playground. A classmate Chad apparently shoved her into the gravel and she was hurt. She cried and was forced to receive attention from the nurse who promptly reported the incident to our teacher.


Now I don’t know how I got involved in this exactly, I was usually up to no good but regardless the teacher was under the impression I pushed poor Courtney and not Chad.


We had all gathered after recess on the floor in the reading corner, as we did every day after recess. That’s when the teacher told me to put my name on the board and that I’d have to sacrifice a portion of tomorrow’s playground as a punishment. At the time I remember feeling panic and I had no clue what she was talking about. So I asked, which apparently was a mistake.


“You know what you did, now go put it on the board,” she said. I remember her being more irritated with me than she should’ve been, especially considering I had no idea why I was in trouble. I asked again.


This time she closed the book and narrowed her gaze upon me with a frigid glare that pierced through the glasses she always wore. Everyone was quiet now and tension was in the room.


She told me that for not listening and for pushing Courtney down, I’d have to sacrifice even more of my time and “playing stupid wasn’t going to work.”


I told her I didn’t do it. And that’s when she called an eight-year-old boy a liar in front of his peers. I thought I might cry and again she told me to put my name on the board. I was so upset I yelled at her “no.” I’m still glad I did.


She drew a teacher’s final weapon, “If you don’t write it on the board, then go to the office.”


I waited a second and then walked out of the room crying. I went to the office and met with the principal. The teacher came down and after hearing her tell the principal how I’m “a liar sometimes,” I was forced to apologize to her.


Later the next day I was sitting with my head down while everyone else was outside playing, almost everyone. Across the room Chad was also sitting.


“Why you here?” I asked.


“Courtney told on me,” he said.


The teacher told us to be quiet, but I couldn’t be. I remember telling her I didn’t do it and she said basically, “Yes Tyler, I know you didn’t.”


So again I asked a question.


“Why can’t I go outside, I didn’t do anything?”


“Because you wouldn’t put your name on the board when I asked,” she said.


“But I didn’t do anything, that’s not fair,” I replied.


In that snide and arrogant tone that only teachers seem capable of mustering, she said, “Life’s not fair.”


Halfway through Chad got to go outside, while I had to remain. I don’t remember anything from third grade as vividly as I remembered that day. I vowed I’d never be punished for anything I didn’t do again and if was utterly unavoidable I’d get revenge on those involved anyway I could.


Life’s not fair? No kidding. But every time I hear it I feel like it’s being said as an excuse.


Something weak minded people utter to justify a selfish impulse or ignore a personal failing.


Just because the world isn’t fair doesn’t mean you have the right not to care about what should be fair.

Oxford finally cashes in

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Patrick Newell

All season long, Oxford has found itself in the right place at the right time when opposing offenses fumbled or threw astray. The first four games, all losses, Oxford forced 11 opponent turnovers, or nearly three game. Yet, the pay-off for that opportunism was minimal to none. Oxford was averaging less than 10 points a game, a clear indication it was not converting turnovers into points. That discouraging statistic made a 180-degree turn against visiting Harpursville. The Hornets’ “pistol offense” was far from sharp, and with a stagnant running game, Harpursville went to the airways. All told, the Blackhawks intercepted five passes and created six total turnovers. The result was a 37-point outing to nearly double its four-game point total. “We were finally able to finish drives, and we finished a game strong,” said Oxford second-year coach Mike Chrystie. Finish strong indeed. The Blackhawks scored 19 points in the final quarter to turn an 18-6 lead into a rout. Defensive back Alex Marin’s 37-yard interception return for a touchdown put a stamp on the impressive win. Next on the ticket is a road date at Walton, the defending Class D state champion that has shown no inkling of a drop-off. In five wins, the Warriors have outscored opponents 194-15 including a 66-7 thrashing of Sidney last week. Chrystie, speaking to The Evening Sun last Saturday, was not quite ready to move on from his team’s first win. “We’re going to enjoy this one,” Chrystie said.


Forks’ defense never rests
Chenango Forks was in midseason form last Friday against Norwich, and its offensive performance was vintage Blue Devils. Fifty-five rushing plays, 198 yards, no passing attempts. Leading by three touchdowns in the third quarter, head coach Dave Hogan kept his play-calling close to the vest, and let his defense close out the win. After Norwich scored to close the gap to 21-6, the Blue Devils turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions within its own territory. A sack by Shane Baron of Norwich quarterback Timmy Clark cut down the first Tornado drive attempt. On the second drive, Clark was sacked on first down, Tyler Slater was tackled for a two-yard loss by the Devils’ Jordan Barnett. Paddy Law zipped up the middle of the Forks defense for 10 yards, but a Clark scramble on fourth-and-three came up a yard short. Norwich had one other significant offensive penetration following the Blue Devils’ first punt of the game. A 42-yard hookup from Clark to David Carson moved Norwich significantly forward, and a late hit on Clark’s pass attempt launched the Tornado all the way to the 17. Two plays later — Slater reached the five-yard line, but was stood up and stripped of the ball. Tim Zdimal recovered ending the Tornado’s last scoring threat. “We have an unbelievable amount of respect for the Norwich football program,” Hogan said. “We certainly played well, and once we got the lead, we were more conservative with our play calling. Those two fumbles, we cannot have that.” Norwich coach John Pluta echoed Hogan. “That was the best we’ve seen them play. Their defense has played well all year, but on offense, their line was moving us off the ball.” As for the rest of the regular season, Norwich will play three consecutive road dates, two of which are must-wins to gain a playoff spot. “We have to get over this disappointment. Our kids are no different today than they were last week,” Pluta said. “We’re still a good football team. We have great kids with great character. We just didn’t play well.”

The Revolution

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Jessica Lewis

Last month when I heard that the YMCA had received a grant to purchase a $2,000 Dance, Dance Revolution game system with the goal of combating childhood obesity, I was a little skeptical. The idea of using video games to encourage kids to be more active seemed a little odd to me, and how much activity can you really get by stepping on a couple of arrows, I wondered.

I wasn’t convinced, but I was willing to give it a try, so after my niece made several passionate pleas for the game, I picked it up this weekend.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can barely walk across a room without tripping, stumbling or falling into something. Coordination has never been a strong point for me, so when I decided to test the game out last night, I expected I would probably fall down, badly bruise myself and give up after 15 minutes or so. Instead, I spent the next hour and a half jumping around and tapping my foot on the dance mat.

If anyone had seen me, I’m sure they would have doubled over with laughter, but with the game in work out mode, I worked up a sweat and had a fun time doing it.

I don’t know if the game will trick kids into working out, (the children in my house have yet to test out the game) but it’ll work for me.

On shopping…

Monday, October 6th, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

I’m not much of a shopper, any of my friends will tell you that. The only thing I truly enjoy shopping for is books. On the other end of the spectrum, I absolutely hate shopping for one thing. Bras.

Walk through the lingerie section of any department or specialty store, and you’ll see rack after rack of pretty bra and panty sets in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. But rather than filling me with any sort of thrill, the sight gives me hives.

My stress stems in large part because of what is missing from those racks – anything pretty or colorful that will actually fit me. No, support undergarments in my size are always in drab shades of white or beige and usually tucked off in a corner somewhere.

My college roommate thought it was a real hoot to go bra shopping with me. Her way of helping? Putting the bras on her head to see if they’d fit. Talk about being scarred for life.

I have nightmares about thin little sales associates sneering, “Oh, we don’t carry anything in THAT size.” And before you decide I have an overactive imagination know this: That actually happened to me 10 or 12 years ago. I have a witness.

I can’t describe the smug satisfaction I felt when I first saw that the specialty store in which the incident occurred is now associated with Lane Bryant. Now bras in “THAT size” are among the smallest they carry. Finally, after all these years, I have justice! I hope that flat-chested wench still works there and is forced to handle gigantic bras every day.

The final straw for me happened two or three years ago. I had finally found some bras that I liked at Victoria’s Secret. But when I went back a couple of weeks later to pick up some more, I was told that everything above a D had been pulled from the chain’s stores in that area as part of some market test.

I was given a number to call to express my discontent and, while I made my obligatory phone call, I will never go back. Whatever their final decision, I just don’t care. I’ll find somewhere else to spend my lingerie budget.

After years of feeling self conscious and stressed out by the prospect of bra shopping, I’m done. No, I won’t be going bra-less. I’m just done letting anyone make me feel like there is something wrong with me.

I’m not 90 years old and sagging to my knees and I’m not going to buy a bra designed for someone who is.

I am confused by one thing in all of this. Breast enlargements are one of the most popular elective surgeries out there. Women (and their husbands, lovers and sugar daddies) pay a heck of a lot of money for enhancements to bring their chests up to my size.

I really want to know where they get their bras.

Playing the part

Friday, October 3rd, 2008
Jessica Lewis

When I first started dating my husband, I acted a lot differently than I do today. He acted differently too. During the early days of a relationship, you never want the other person to see your flaws and faults, but after time, those things become obvious, and you determine whether or not they are things you can live with.

Last night’s vice presidential debate brought back memories of the first phase in any relationship. I’m sure all political candidates act in a certain way before the election. Just as you would in a relationship, you want to hide your bad qualities until you know they aren’t going to make the other person run screaming.

Like I said, I’m sure this is common place, but during last night’s debate, I think it was obvious that the candidates were both hiding some pieces of their true character.

For Sarah Palin, all of the pit-bull attitude, humor and intelligence seen during the Republican convention were gone. Instead of going on the attack, she kept a smile plastered to her face, and spent 90 percent of her time praising John McCain. I’m glad Palin didn’t give into the negative attacks seen so often in politics, but it seemed like she was holding back all of the qualities people initially found so refreshing.

Biden also seemed like he was holding back. Instead of finding fault with Palin herself, Biden’s concentration was on McCain and not the woman who stood across the stage from him. Although Republicans and Democrats alike said Biden needed to be careful not to attack the Republican VP pick, I think that sentiment is a little sexist at best.

The debate was interesting and hopefully provided a little insight into both candidates, but just like in a relationship, time will tell if those qualities they’re holding back will sneak to the surface.

The Latin Groove

Friday, October 3rd, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

A couple of weeks ago my mother asked me if I would sign up for a Latin dance class with her. In the past we’ve golfed, bowled on occasion and even taken kick-boxing together. With the exception of one particularly intense exercise class that left me unable to climb stairs for a week, she’s never lead me astray before. So, I said yes without giving it much thought.

But as D-Day (dance day) approached, I began to have my doubts. I absolutely love Latin music. Rumba, salsa, merengue…the music just gets into my blood. It’s one of the reasons I loved living in Miami.

But I don’t dance very much. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with watching Elaine dance on Seinfeld (if you can call that dancing) thirty or forty times too many, but I usually require a few glasses of wine to loosen me up enough to get me out on the dance floor.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the class, but I figured that I would probably be the least coordinated of the bunch. I was right. And to make matters worse, I was totally unprepared, wardrobe wise, for our first session. I am definitely going shopping this weekend.

Pre-dancing angst and wardrobe inadequacy aside, I loved it. Martha Brower-Ryan was our dance diva and she was fabulous.

In our first session we learned the basic steps of the samba, salsa and merengue. I’ll admit that I needed a little remedial intervention to get the side-to-side part of the salsa steps down, but I picked it up better than I thought. It was invigorating and I felt great.

At the end of an hour, I wasn’t ready to leave. My right hip is thankful, though, that I quit when I did. Next time I’ll know to take some Aleve before I start shaking it.

Martha promised to make us all CDs so that we can practice at home. I think she’d be happy to know that I’ve already started. I’ve caught myself twice this morning. I’m sure my co-workers were wondering what the heck I was doing.

I can’t wait to get back on that dance floor. Unfortunately, the next class conflicts with the Norwich City School Board meeting on Tuesday. Do you think anyone would notice if I called in sick?

High School Grid Notes

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
Patrick Newell

Rankings not that important
Greene’s football team moved into the state rankings after a week one victory Oxford, and ascended to number 11 among Class C teams after a 51-12 thumping of Greene two Fridays ago. While the ranking is a nice sign of respect for the Trojans’ football program, head coach Tim Paske is not hyping that accomplishment. “It doesn’t matter than much now, but the rankings will sort themselves out at the end of the season,” Paske said. “It’s good that we’re getting respect and people are noticing we are a good team. The kids who have come into the program have bought into our system, and have worked hard to become winners.”

Give him the ball
Travis Frank is the football version of a work horse. He is averaging over 20 carries per game on offense, far and away the busiest offensive running back on the youthful Oxford Blackhawks. He also spearheads the defense as a starting linebacker and leading tackler. “We’re young in some spots, and Travis is bridging the gap as we develop our players,” said Oxford coach Mike Chrystie. “We have young, athletic guys who are still finding their niche on the team. It’s a maturing process, and as they improve, their roles will increase.”

More receiving options for B-G
B-G head football coach Tim Mattingly was counting on Dustin Rutz as his top receiver entering the season. Rutz was injured in the opening game against UV-Edmeston, and tight end J.J. Banta was moved from the inside to a wideout position. Banta has delivered on every possible expectation and leads Chenango County receivers in catches, yards receiving, and touchdown receptions. Rutz is finally healthy and will play in Friday’s game against Hancock, and Mattingly plans to use both receivers as wideouts. “We’re so glad Dustin is back, and it was killing him to stand on the sidelines,” Mattingly said. “We need to be able to throw the ball, and now we have two threats. Our whole philosophy on offense is to put our playmakers in positions to be successful, and with Dustin and J.J. as receivers, it gives us more options.”