Archive for October, 2010

Do you believe in ghosts?

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Tyler Murphy

Undetectable consciences that drift from the flesh of death.

A state of being beyond our instruments but detected by the senses.

A sound in the dark, the brush of a cold draft in still air, the tingling of sudden tension, a glowing light with no source.

The first year of the Evening Sun’s Ghost Hunt (Aug. 2007) Jessica Lewis and I were walking in the Eaton Center’s attic. There were a number of large areas closed off to the public and the crew had dived up into small groups.

Wondering ahead we stumble upon an entrance to the building’s highest floor. The rooms long windows were etched with the watery veins of heavy rain and cast in an amber glow from the street lights outside. As skeptics desperate for a good scare we walked forward without the benefit of our flashlights. We both leapt as the ceiling above us began to pound. It was as if someone was smashing a rock against the roof. After a moment of what seemed like insistent and impatient knocking the sound suddenly stopped.

We glance out the window and saw the whipping storm and the parking lot several stories below. We imagined falling debris to be the culprit but nothing stood above the tall building. Tumbling shingles perhaps, or some other object may have been clobbered by the strong winds. I still have no idea.

This is what wrote at the time. “The roof of the Eaton Center suddenly banged as Jessica and I walked beneath it, scaring us half to death. The ceiling knocked very loudly; it was six feet above us on the top floor of the building, so unless someone was on the 45 degree slated roof 100 feet in the air while it was raining outside, I have no explanation. The sound repeated several times and we stared at each other completely clueless and concerned. Just like that guy in those cheap horror flicks who says ‘Maybe it was the wind,’ right before he’s slashed to death.”

I walked up and down the attic space trying to provoke a second response. (Wow, did I really just admit that?) I stared for long moments through the greasy window panes waiting to witness a logical explanation. The freight of the initial noise gave my mind little time to triangulate an origin and I listened carefully hoping the sound might repeat to reveal a source.

The fact that the banging never returned and no obvious answer could be calculated has left me puzzling ever since. But just because I couldn’t figure one doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. I’m not quite ready to believe in the supernatural just yet. If such theories were so easily assumed I’d be blaming ghosts for my misplaced car keys every other week.

I guess you could say that’s the most Ghostly experience I’ve so far encountered in the our hunts. So far I haven’t seen anything that would change my mind but there are often creepy moments in our Halloween ghost hunting adventures. The best of these experiences seem to take place alone or in a small groups of people, in remote parts of our trip and are often accompanied by a report of an unexplained noise, a change in temperature or a rise in emotional tension.

Our mediums (professional ghost hunters, psychics, spirit talkers, angel summoners) often supply us with these tense moments, as much as they allegedly sense ghosts they seem just as initiative to other people’s anxieties. Whenever there seems to be a person professing they experienced “something” they jump in and apply their spooky craft to the moment.

Sometimes I feel it’s just adding spice for flavor but the people taking part in these explorations, sometimes our staff included, actually do believe in them.

Living vicariously through “believers” can be very intense. When someone you know personally is willing to look you scared in the eye and make a paranormal claim it can be down right unnerving. When these sorts of things happen I’ve felt my own emotional tension rise.

I find it curious and thrilling but you’re going to have to prove it to me before I believe in ghosts.

Is that so much to ask?

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Oct. 28, 2010

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Patrick Newell

Seeing the name William Thomas Jr. in our obituary section this week did not ring a bell in my mind until I read today’s follow-up obituary notice. In it, former Norwich athlete Tyler Saroka was noted for giving a speech of remembrance for his grandfather. It was then, I remembered “Bill.”
I saw Mr. Thomas at almost every Norwich home basketball game the past few years. He always sat in the same spot–behind the Norwich home bench about three rows up – almost even with the scorers’ table. Mr. Thomas helped me find a seat on a night when spaces to sit down were sparse, and although I had seen him at games the past few years, it wasn’t until this particular night that I struck up a conversation. He was a pleasant man, and I asked him who he was here to see. He told me his grandson Tyler played for Norwich, and he also had a granddaughter, Cassie Sutton, who played for the Norwich girls’ team. Mr. Thomas had a keen understanding of the newspaper business, and he told me he had a brother who was in the newspaper business. After that night – since I usually sat in the same vicinity as Mr. Thomas – we exchanged pleasantries and chit-chatted during breaks before games and at halftime.
In my short meetings with Mr. Thomas, I had just a glimpse of who he was, yet those impressions stuck with me. He will be missed at this year’s basketball games.

– I had a short voicemail message that was cut off after a few seconds. The caller did not identify herself by name, but briefly made an allusion to Bainbridge-Guilford’s soccer team – the girls. She didn’t finish her statement, but my understanding is that she was wondering (complaining) that the score of last night’s sectional win over Newfield was not in the paper. Not just that, the most recent game (another win) was not in the paper either. I wish this caller was able to finish her message and leave a call-back number. I would have quickly responded. Here’s my answer to this unknown caller: Bainbridge-Guilford has not reported girls’ soccer games all season. I attempted to call the coach at the start of the season, but my contact number for her was no longer in service. I also called the school’s athletic office and left a message with my phone number requesting contact numbers for the coach. I did not get a return call. So, my hands are tied at this point.
For 15 seasons, I had a good professional relationship with the previous B-G girls’ soccer coach, who diligently reported games – not just the wins, but all of the losses as well. It’s disappointing to see that relationship fall flat this season, especially with the team much improved over the previous two seasons.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/28/10

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Something wicked this way comes …

• Tomorrow is my last Friday off. Sad as it may be, it seems my “summer vacation” has finally come to an end. Since I currently don’t have a fully-functional second in command (they rule by committee each Friday), I decided back in May that the easiest way to use up my generous amount of Evening Sun vacation time was to use it one day at a time. Of course, I still end up coming in on Sundays to make up for what doesn’t get done in my absence, but at least I get to sleep in on Friday mornings. Next week, back to the proverbial grind – working five days a week like the rest of you proletarians.

• Actually I did a good chunk of Friday’s front page today – I was pretty excited about presenting our annual Evening Sun “Ghost Hunting” feature. Each member of my staff relays their experiences in tomorrow’s paper, and I dare say it’s a good read. I’d like to add a special thanks to Steve and Sherry Behe of Oxford. Even though we didn’t encounter anything paranormal at the Behe Funeral Home (drat!), they were incredibly gracious in accommodating us and Steve, especially, in giving me a good lesson in my own family’s history. Read more about that tomorrow.

• Does downtown Norwich really need another pizzeria? Apparently, like dollar stores, the market here will bear it. Congratulations to Henry Koelle on the opening of Trotta’s Apizza. From what Brian Golden tells me, the budding restaurateur really cleaned up the joint, and makes one heck of a good pie, to boot. Always nice to see new businesses coming to the area – that’s why we always try to give them great coverage. Welcome aboard.

• Someone called ‘30 Seconds’ today (the old-fashioned phone line) to ask us to hold her subscription while she went on vacation. While we are a small operation, ma’am, the circulation department does not monitor “30 Seconds.” Nor do I deliver newspapers. Well, actually I have on occasion, but I try not to. My bike is in the shop. Seriously though, and again, “30 Seconds” is not the catch-all for every problem, question or request in the known universe. You can just as easily call our main number, 334-3276, and speak to a real live person. Or Jan.

All the Ghastly details

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

Since we first unveiled the details of this year’s Ghastly Ghost Story competition, my anticipation has been building. I’m absolutely jubilant by the time the first submissions start rolling in. I know that sounds silly, but what can I say? Our annual Halloween fiction contest is one of the highlights of my year.

Until, that is, it comes to the actual judging.

Oh, I start off with plenty of enthusiasm. But somewhere around the 50th or 60th story, I begin to weep openly.

This year the number of entries exceeded 140. But I know I’ve got it easy, at least all I have to do is read them all. Before I took over running the ghastly  little show, most of the submissions were mailed in and some poor schmuck  (usually the lovely Jessica Lewis) had to type them all in. The first thing I did was insist stories be submitted via email. It’s saved a lot of hassle, and as you can tell, hasn’t hurt the quantity of entries in the least.

I’m thrilled so many kids (and a meager handful of adults) take the time to pen stories for the contest. But let me tell you, it’s a daunting task to sit down knowing you’ve got that many to wade through.

The stories are all over the place, from just a couple of paragraphs to the maximum allowed 1500 words. Ax murders, vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghosts and every other type of deranged ghoul imaginable is represented at some point.

It’s a mixed bag of writing talent, but that doesn’t matter – every one gets credit for trying in my opinion. And happily the good usually outweigh the bad and the ugly by a health margin.

There were a few things I noticed in reading this year’s stories that I don’t remember from last year. One, was the prevalence of bullying as a theme. There were some other disturbing trends as well, which I think might be an indication that far too many kids are watching gruesome horror movies these days.

As a whole, however, this year’s crop of entries showed the remarkable creativity of our local young people. In fact, the images they evoked with their work made for a few restless nights for me this week. Now, I just hope they use all that raw talent for good, rather than just to keep relics like me up at night.

Congratulations to our winners, whose stories were published today in The Pumpkin Vine. Kudos, too, to all of those who submitted Halloween tales for this year’s contest. They’ll be posted to the ES website tomorrow, so you’ll have a chance to read every last one of them.

If you dare…

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Sports Editor’s Playbook: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Patrick Newell

Six high school football teams reside within the lines of Chenango County. We also have a top-flight prep school, Milford Academy, that calls New Berlin home. Milford Academy usually plays 80 to 90 percent of its games on the road, but Saturday afternoon, the Falcons will entertain Eric Community College at Norwich High School’s Ulrichs Field at 2 p.m.
It’s the first of back-to-back games for Milford on the field turf in Norwich, and this Saturday’s game is a rare treat for a couple of reasons. For one, the Chenango United Way is raffling off a jersey that is autographed by members of this year’s team. Four years from now, some of those players may hear their name called in the NFL Draft. “That jersey could be worth a pretty penny some day,” said Chenango United Way board member, Charlie McMullen. “Milford Academy has nine players in the NFL right now, and four of them are starters.”
A small admission fee will be charged at the gates, and all concessions will benefit the Norwich athletic boosters. Over the next two weeks, local football fans have the opportunity to witness the football players who regularly earn Division One football scholarships. Several players on this year’s team are already committed to play next year for teams in the Big East and the ACC.
Among the Milford Academy alumni are LeSean McCoy, starting running back for the Philadelphia Eagles; Shonn Greene, running back for the New York Jets; and Terance Knighton, starting defensive lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Some people want to know what Milford Academy is all about,” McMullen said. “Here is a chance to see them in our own back yard.”

– No one can say that Greene didn’t earn its second straight boys’ soccer MAC championship. The Trojans had two hiccups during the regular season losing to Unatego and Walton. Those untimely defeats led to a three-way division tie, and ultimately, a three-way playoff. The Trojans lost the draw out of the hat for the bye, and had to win two playoff games just for the right to defend their league title. They won those two games by a combined 8-0 score, and tacked on a 4-1 title win over Delhi. Combine those wins with Tuesday’s sectional playoff win over Sidney, and the Trojans have outscored their last four opponents, 18-1.

– Norwich’s football team does not have a go-to running back, it has three go-to backs in Mackay Hotaling, Josh Favaloro, and Tyler Hoffman. The NHS trio has 385, 355, and 330 rushing yards respectively through eight games, and not one of the Tornado backs has a 100-yard rushing day this season. Norwich spreads the ball between those three so equally, that none has carried the ball more than 15 times in any one game. Hotaling has a team-high 92 carries, and that works out to less than 12 totes per game. Hoffman has four of his team-high five rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks. Quarterback Seth Thomsen has also shown a nose for the goal line with four rushing scores.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/27/10

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Jeff Genung

We need six more weeks of weather like this, please …

• Can’t say we’ve ever published a Toys for Tots photo with AK-47s in the background before! Kudos to my old buddies Dave and Maureen Francis of Heading Due North for coming up with the plan to sell used bowling pins from Plaza Lanes for target practice – and donating the proceeds to Toys for Tots. Savvy marketers, they are. And good supporters of the community, to boot.

• Please, stop calling us about Trick-or-Treat times! They’re in the paper again today … and again tomorrow! If only people were this concerned about where and when to vote …

• Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Thursday’s paper (well, you should buy it every day of course, but I digress) for our special Pumpkin Vine section previewing this weekend’s 12th Annual Norwich Pumpkin Festival and our own Ghastly Ghost Stories contest.

• “Can you tell me when X will be published? I don’t ever buy the paper, so I don’t want to miss it.” Gee, honey, that’s not insulting at all. Grrr. We really are in business to sell newspapers, folks. The answer is, “Now I definitely won’t tell you. You’ll have to buy the paper every day until you see it. And now I may make you wait.”

• Congratulations to another old friend, Bradd Vickers, whose own Farm Bureau honored him earlier this week with its Ag Advocate of the Year Award. Bradd’s always been good to the newspaper, but more importantly he’s been good to the farmers and ag interests of Chenango County. Well deserved.

Embracing my inner geek

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Brian Golden

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m what a certain co-worker of mine (Melissa Stagnaro) calls a total and utter geek. Not in a technical sense so to speak, but certainly in the spirit of the sci-fi, fantasy, video game, Dungeons & Dragons, comic book, superhero kind of geek. And in all honesty, I’m rather proud of my inner geek. It’s served me well throughout my 30-plus years.

Therefore, in an effort to, shall I say, rub it in, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten, all-time favorite “you-know-you’re-a-geek-if-you-love-these-movies.”

#10 – Krull (1983)
A fantastical tale of swords and sorcery which has captivated me since the age of six. Filled with an abundance of science fiction/fantasy imagery and tried-but-true metaphors such as the damsel in distress, the magical weapon necessary for ultimate victory and the almighty quest for freedom from the hands of a space-traveling alien entity (known only as the Beast). What’s truly funny is the fact that I still possess a VHS copy of Krull, recorded by my stepfather probably 25 years ago, which I’ve, sadly, watched repeatedly over the years. A true geek statement if there ever was one.

#9 – Time Bandits (1981)
Written by Monty Python alumni Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, this flick had it all in my book. A young hero, accompanied by a gang of thieving little people, portals through time and space, a Supreme Being and a frightening evil villain, known as….Evil (he resides, applicably, in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness). This movie actually scared me to death as a child and is kind of like twisted version of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Little People, Big World. Truly a geek classic.

#8 – The Neverending Story (1984)
I absolutely loved the premise of this movie. Young book-loving boy, tormented by the other kids, hides out in a dusty old bookstore and “borrows” a fantastic-looking novel. He then proceeds to hide out in the attic of his school for a day and a night, where he eventually discovers he’s actually a part of the story itself. My only problem with this film? They should have cast me as the young boy. This was me in all my geekdom as a young child.

#7 – Willow (1988)
Nelwyn, Death Dogs, Daikini, Brownies (the creatures, not the food), Madmartigan, Bavmorda and my personal favorite, the High Aldwin. Need I say any more.

#6 – Labyrinth (1986)
I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Jim Henson had a hand in until his untimely death. This movie still resonates with me and has been a favorite to watch again and again. When a young girl’s infant half-brother is kidnapped by the Goblin King (portrayed wonderfully by David Bowie), she’s forced to navigate his Labyrinth in order to rescue the child. Amazing puppetry, a wonderful plot and some memorable characters all made this a classic effort in the geek canon. On a side note, the “Fire Gang” (strange creatures with removable limbs) gave me nightmares for years as a child.

#5 – The Dark Crystal (1982)
Another Henson classic and, similar to Willow, how can you dislike any movie that features Gelflings, Garthim, Skeksis, Mystics, Podlings and Crystal Bats. A true geek masterpiece and another movie that I still watch to this day. This one also scared the dickens out of me, although in a totally different way than Time Bandits. I absolutely love the score for this movie, as music was a prevalent part of the actual story.

#4 – Tron (1982)
When Kevin Flynn is transported to a digital world filled with programs, light-cycles, users, flying tanks and the evil Master Control Program, he’s forced to fight for his life in this Walt Disney production. Much darker than typical Disney fare, this movie took computer generated imagery to an entirely new level. Protagonist Jeff Bridges will reprise his role as Flynn in an upcoming sequel titled Tron: Legacy. Definitely a priority on my list of things to do.

#3 – Beastmaster (1982)
A gripping tale of the warrior-telepathic Dar, who can communicate with animals. This cult classic was a favorite of mine growing up, yet I can’t remember the last time I saw it. Of course the acting was horrible, the special effects mediocre and the ending more than a little contrived. All of this together, however, makes it one of the best geek movies ever made.

#2 – Army of Darkness (1993)
“Klatu, barada, nikto.” If you have no idea what I mean by that you should not be reading this blog.

#1 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The classic re-telling of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Quite possibly the funniest movie I’ve ever seen and a favorite of my closest group of friends and I. With characters such as the Knights Who Say Ni (I require a shrubbery), Tim the Enchanter, the Rabbit of Caerbannog (defeated utilizing the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch) and the Three-headed Knight, let’s just say you can’t go wrong. A true geek masterpiece.

I’m sure many of my fellow geeks have noticed the lack of Star Wars or Star Trek from this particular top ten list, therefore I’ve decided to include them in the “honorable mention” category. In truth, both franchises are the epitome of geekdom, and I dare not tread on that hallowed ground.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Oct. 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Patrick Newell

Sports Editor’s playbook, Oct. 26, 2010

Here is something I have never spoken out loud, nor have I written on the Sun’s pages – or blogged on for that matter. Through eight weeks of the football season, Sherburne-Earlville has the best record in Chenango County. Actually, the Marauders share the top spot with Bainbridge-Guilford with identical 5-3 marks, but you understand the point being made. The word excellence combined with Sherburne-Earlville football have not gone hand in hand in a long, long time. Mike Jasper, second-year coach for the Marauders is heading up the Marauders’ revival, and the success has started on the lowest levels he said. The feeder programs – the modified and junior varsity teams – are producing winning programs, and that winning is contagious as the kids move up the ranks. “Kid are starting to get the philosophy of what it takes to be a winning program,” Jasper said. “You need to work hard in the offseason so you can be better on the JV and varsity.”

I have had to field queries and requests on the forthcoming subject multiple times this year, and dozens of times over the years. In the above paragraph on S-E football, I briefly alluded to a modified team. That is about as much modified sports coverage as you’ll ever see in our paper or any other newspaper.
According to state regulations (and you can follow up with your school’s director of athletics), media coverage of modified sporting events is prohibited. Jack Jones, retired AD at Norwich, filled me in on the specifics of those rules over a decade ago. He told me, at that time, that the only media coverage of modified sports that is allowable was to announce sports interviews and physicals. Modified sports are a “developmental level” only, and he added that a school’s violation of the modified sports media coverage rule is subject to penalty by the state. That said, I cannot think of any school that has ever been penalized for allowing modified sports results to reach the local media. It simply is not done.
I took notes from my conversation with Mr. Jones, and transcribed the scrawlings to my computer in the event I would ever need to refer to them. I have needed to refer to those notes often this year. It seems that parents – and a couple of coaches not familiar with the rules – are compelled to fill me in on the accomplishments of their respective team of interest. The eagerness and pride is apparent in all of their voices, and I feel bad telling them that sports coverage of modified sports is not allowed. I have kids involved in sports, just like all of the parents who have called me. My kids will have to wait until they’re playing a varsity sport before I can write about them.
Some people have pointed out over the years that they have seen Pop Warner results, Little League, Chenango Chargers soccer, and YMCA youth sports in The Evening Sun sports section Publishing results of those young kids seems like a contradiction, yet the my reply to those people is simple: All of those sporting clubs are private organizations not affiliated with a school district, and those organizations do not have strict rules – like New York State – that forbid media publication.
I applaud all of the young kids competing in modified sports this year that are finding success on the playing field, and I look forward to publishing their accomplishments once they reach their varsity team.

– For those keeping track, Norwich’s football game at Oneonta last Friday was the 81st revival of the rivalry that dates back to 1925. The Tornado won for the second straight year clinching a playoff spot in the process, and increased its series lead to 47-33-1.

– I spoke about Greene’s boys’ soccer team last week, and I have another update. After finishing in a three-way division tie with Walton and Unatego, the Trojans drew the short straw, and had to play a first-round division playoff game with Unatego. Walton earned a bye through the luck of the draw. The Trojans followed up a 3-0 win over Unatego with an even more impressive 5-0 victory against Walton. Tonight, the Trojans took a break from league playoff games to start the real postseason. Greene upended Sidney, 6-0, and has now outscored its last three opponents, 14-0. Wednesday, Greene reverts to MAC action when it plays at Delhi at 3:30 p.m. for the league championship. Win or lose, the Trojans (14-4) will be back in Section IV playoff action on Friday.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/26/10

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Tuesdays really hurt me …

• Spent a good chunk of the afternoon putting together our Pumpkin Vine special section, which publishes in this Thursday’s Evening Sun. A preview of the Norwich Pumpkin Festival and YMCA Halloween Parade, it’s also the vehicle for our Ghastly Ghost Stories contest. You’ll get to read the winning entries and a few select others in the Thursday piece; you’ll get to read them all – over 140 – online Friday. Kudos to Melissa Stagnaro for reading each and every entry. Not sure I’d have the stomach for it.

• Brian Golden has a story today about Norwich’s Richard Elam who, at age 66, is celebrating the release of his first CD. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, but I’ve got to admire anyone who follows their dreams like that. Mr. Elam, not Brian.

• The maze of tents has gone up in downtown Norwich in preparation for this weekend’s 12th annual Pumpkin Festival. But dare I say it looks like they might not need them for a change? Granted this is central New York where the weather changes by the minute, but right now the forecast for Saturday doesn’t look too bad – far from the traditional Pumpkin Fest downpour. Given the impending holiday, I can’t help but wonder if someone offered a sacrifice  …

• Speaking of Halloween, trick-or-treating is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday in Norwich. It’s been in the paper and online twice, yet still we get phone calls daily … and please, don’t bother asking the question again in 30 Seconds!! For those outside Norwich, Oxford is doing it at the same time; Greene is 5 to 8, Bainbridge 5 to 7, Afton and New Berlin are 4 to 6 (Six o’clock end time? What fun is that??) and Sherburne apparently doesn’t care when you do it.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/25/10

Monday, October 25th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• Had a lunch meeting today with the ES crew to talk about Progress Chenango 2011, our annual special section coming up in January. It was a good discussion, even though talking about it this early usually makes me lose my lunch. Seriously, though, it is our premiere product – and we’ve got some great things planned for the 2011 edition.

• So you may have read that we did our annual “Ghost Hunting” excursion on Friday night. While you’ll read the complete account in this Friday’s edition, I summed it up in a Tweet over the weekend – no ghosts were found. But maybe I spoke too soon – seems we may have stirred something up at one of the locations we visited. Jinkies!

• Tyler Murphy shuffled off to Sherburne Saturday to cover Andrew Cuomo’s stumping. Since some have asked, there was no advance notice of it in Friday’s paper because we weren’t told of it until later in the afternoon (and they clearly weren’t looking for a massive crowd). Ditto for Carl Paladino’s visit to Greene, even though he didn’t show up.

• All eyes now are on this weekend’s 12th annual Norwich Pumpkin Festival. We’ve got a special “Pumpkin Vine” preview section coming out on Thursday, which in addition to festival news, also features the best entries in our “Ghastly Ghost Stories” contest. Make sure you pick up a copy … if you dare!