Archive for October, 2010

T-minus two hours to Ghost Hunting

Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

It’s 5 o’clock on a Friday and most self-respecting office drones are at Happy Hour. But not me. I really, really can’t wait until Jeff decides to grace us with his presence on Fridays once more. I know I shouldn’t complain, but I’m anxious to get home and spend a couple of hours with my Aunt Maureen and cousin Barbara (they’re up visiting for the weekend) before I head out on our Ghost Hunting excursion tonight.

- It’s been a hectic day in the ES newsroom. Blame it on the impeding full moon and the psychological trauma caused by those first fluttery flakes of snow which fell this morning.

- Today’s top story was Melissa deCordova’s piece on the affect the EPA’s latest pollution regulations could have on area dairy farmers. It’s startling really, particularly since New York will be held to task because other states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed aren’t being as diligent as they should be. If these regs go into effect it could spell even darker days for our local dairy industry.

- I found a few Ghastly Ghost Stories in my inbox this morning. These stragglers brought our count to close to 140 entries for this year’s contest. Now, I just have to read them all… I think I see some sleepless nights in my future.

- Tyler Murphy graced us with another blog today. It doesn’t happen all that often, so please treat it with the reverence it deserves. (Smile, T. murph.)

- This afternoon, the ES staffers were all focused on a common theme – Stephen King movies. That’s right, we were wrapping up our write-ups for the DVD Patrol’s next Toddster Team-up. Look for it in next Friday’s edition.

- While we were all ruminating about horror movies, Melissa deCordova was enmeshed in a nightmare of her own. When the call came in this morning that Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino would be in Greene today, she headed to the southern reaches of the county in hopes of meeting up with him at Nathanael Greene’s Publick House. Unfortunately, Paladino was a no-show at the restaurant, owned by Enzo and Irene Olivieri.

I find the whole thing kind of puzzling, since we received no official press release from Paladino’s office about the visit, which was also to include a stop at Raymond. And when we called the campaign office this morning to confirm the times and locations, our messages went un-returned.

Melissa joked that perhaps he’d read my column from last week and suggested I assure his office that I was too busy putting on lipstick – a reference to yesterday’s column – to go to Greene myself. (Even I had to admit that was a good one.)

- Tonight is the Evening Sun’s annual ghost hunting excursion. Armed with flashlights, digital recorders and, hopefully, an EMF reader just like the ones the “professionals” use on TV, we’ll be hitting some haunts in Oxford.  Former ES Staffer Jessica Lewis has promised to join us, and we’ll have two local mediums with us as well, guiding our paranormal investigation. It’s guaranteed to be a good time, and you’ll get to read all about our exploits next week.

- I’m going to forgo my standard sign off tonight, because a friend reminded me today that it’s important to be the change we want to be in the world. So…

Make it a great weekend!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Worth a thousand words

Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Tyler Murphy

I love photography.

When I first starting writing for the paper I never would have imagined snapping pictures would become such an important part of the job. I was told the reporters often took their own pictures to go with their stories and the editor gave me the standard issue digital camera.

A few years later the standard issue is no longer a digital but a 55mm Nikon D40. If you don’t know a lot about camera’s the old digitals we used to have were lower quality and similar in size and appearance to a bulky cell phone. The D40 looks just like a camera should, something you’d see around Clark Kent’s or Peter Parker’s neck.

I’ve developed my camera skills enough to be designated the newsroom’s back-up photographer on a number of occasions. I carry with me a 200 and 300 millimeter lens, which are like medium range sniper rifles for a photographer.

From about 10 to 30 feet the 200mm is choice and comes in handy for those situations were you want to get good pictures of people without them knowing you’re even there. I use it a lot in schools, community meetings and keeping my distance during a perp walk.

The 300mm is the great for controlling what I’d like to have the viewer, and often the reader, focus on. Looking through a 300mm lens is like looking through a pair of binoculars. You can only focus on a small range of depth at a time.

It comes in handy when I’m in a courtroom because I can focus in on a defendant while the jurors sitting in the background are blurred beyond recognition. Wildlife and emotional close ups of people’s expressions are also often captured. The 300mm means I can stand a 100 feet from an accident scene but still get a close up picture.

One time gas well workers barred me and another coworker from a gas well fire in Lebanon. Determined to get a picture I climbed a hill across the valley, zoomed in from maybe a few hundred yards with the 300mm and captured a decent image of the actual fire anyway.

Another time I was snooping out front of a drug front in Norwich snapping distant close ups of state police and city investigators. The officers finally noticed me and asked to delete some of the images because a few of the troopers were working undercover.

Some of the best photo opportunities are during community events like Pumpkin Fest, Colorscape and the Chenango County Fair.

Wandering through these events I often look for random people doing interesting things and take their picture. By doing this I meet all kinds, from all walks of life. I love leaving the office knowing the rest of the afternoon will be spent looking for good pictures. I enjoy the random people just as much as I do the photography and most are grateful to be published in the paper.

Kids are great in pictures because they don’t seem to care. Most adults get so anxious they make themselves look worse trying too hard to look better. Just relax, smile, and remember I asked to take your picture for a reason.

Also I’ve never had a parent say no to taking a picture of their child and often enough once they’ve said yes to that I can talk them into getting into the picture too.

Yesterday I traveled all around New Berlin and Columbus. I took pictures of a local business, a elementary school project and some great nature pictures at a sheep farm. Later today I’ll be following the Evening Sun to the darkest corners of Chenango County looking for ghosts. Being a skeptic these adventures tend to be more about capturing an image of creative art. As a newspaper journalist we have ethics on our presentations so we don’t modify pictures beyond cropping and a little lighting but these editorial adventures offer a chance for a lot of fun.

All together I’ve probably received just as much positive feedback for my photography as I have my writing.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Oct. 21

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Patrick Newell

From this week in sports:

In Monday’s sports section, we summed up Greene’s championship win in its second annual Nancy Bromley/Nancy Barrows tournament. The tournament was named for the two longtime field hockey coaches at Greene. Bromley started the program and had Barrows by her side for many of those years. Barrows would ultimately succeed Barrows and coach the Trojans for a few years before handing over the reins to present mentor Sue Carlin. Carlin played for Bromley during the early years of Greene field hockey, and remembered Bromley as more than just a coach. “She was a tremendous role model,” Carlin said of Bromley, who still is active in the Greene community and can often be seen at field hockey games. “She was just a legend – as a coach and in the classroom.”

– Also Monday, B-G head coach Tim Mattingly reiterated some of his preseason comments. “I thought at the start there would be tremendous parity in the division, and that’s the way it’s played out,” he said. “It just so happens that Delhi has been able to take care of business and win the close games.” Mattingly’s Bobcats dropped a two-point final to Delhi last Friday. Delhi also has a one-point overtime win over Oxford, and two-point win over Walton, and a five-point victory over Seton Catholic Central – all division games.

– Greene’s girls swimming program isn’t accustomed to losing much, and has had a long run of winning seasons under longtime coach Mike Platta. The streak of winning seasons appeared in jeopardy for a while, but with a one-point win over Windsor earlier this week, the Trojans finished the regular season with four straight victories and a 7-5 mark. A brutal early-season schedule against schools from the Binghamton area paid off, Platta said. “Those meets against the bigger schools (that we lost) have helped us,” he said. “We’re swimming faster and continuing to drop times. We’re right on schedule to peak at sectionals.”

– Tuesday, we reported on the Class B championship win of Norwich tennis players Bryn Loomis and Sophie Stewart. During the regular season, the twosome do not play doubles together at all, but have jelled quickly in the postseason the past three years winning back-to-back sectional titles and reaching the quarterfinals as freshmen. Norwich head coach John Stewart summed up the cohesiveness of Loomis and Stewart, who are first cousins: “Doubles, that’s what we (the Stewart family) do.”

– Thursday was a nice day for Greene sports. I was at George Raymond Field in Greene earlier today to witness the Trojans’ 1-0 win over Unadilla Valley to win the first Midstate Athletic Conference girls’ soccer title. Over at Unatego High School, the Greene boys’ soccer team defeated the host Spartans in the first of two division playoff games. And lastly, in Sidney, Greene’s unbeaten field hockey team was taken to extra minutes for the first time this season. The Trojans scored in overtime to beat the Warriors and finish the regular season unbeaten at 15-0.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/21/10

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Jeff Genung

Thursday’s my Friday, at least for two more weeks ….

• Looks like our Ghastly Ghost Stories contest was a bloodbath … and I mean that in a good way! We got tons of entries from around the county today, and thankfully only a few with the dreaded “Bloody Mary” (not the vodka & tabasco kind) theme. You’ll get to read them all online before Halloween, and we’ll publish the winners and “best of” in our special Pumpkin Vine section next Thursday.

• How did that end up on the front page?! That’s a question I get a lot (sometimes because they’re thrilled, but more often because they’re pissed off) from readers. Truth be told? We’re a small newspaper with a small staff … pretty much everything winds up on the front page! Well, everything that the reporters write, anyway. “Splashed all over the front page” is one of my favorite journalism pejoratives, right up there with “the press is having a field day.”

• We never have field days. I don’t even know what a field day is, but it sounds a lot more fun than office day.

• Scratch that, we are having a field … err … night. Friday night is our annual ghost hunting trip. We’ve rounded up a couple of our psychic friends to accompany us on a ghost-busting trip to Oxford tomorrow night. You’ll get to read all about our Scooby Gang adventures in next Friday’s Evening Sun. If we survive! (Cue evil laughter).

• My old friend Tom Rasely, aka The Raze, has a new CD out. Brian Golden did a story in today’s paper. (On the front page!!) I always enjoy his work. Tom’s, not Brian’s.

• Around 3 o’clock this afternoon, the office scanner perked up with a call about an employee at a local dollar store who had shown up intoxicated for work. Police were dispatched not because the employer was mad, but because he/she was afraid said employee would get killed if they tried to walk home in that state. Buddy, I feel for ya.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/20/10

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Crisp cool day in Chenango – autumn at its finest.

• Dude, we’re totally getting the band back together! Brian Golden revisited his inaugural Evening Sun story today with another Velcros/Spider Murphy reunion coming up. They’re having a CD launch party at the Blarney Stone. Hey, Spider? Air Supply called. They want their mullets back!

• The Arts Council is presenting its second show of the 2010-11 season on Saturday, the rockin’ Irish band Celtic Crossroads. We ran a preview story in today’s paper. Interested in winning a pair of free tickets? Visit the Arts Council’s Facebook page and “like” the post about the drawing. Looks like a great show.

• Twenty-four hours left until the DEADline for our Ghastly Ghost Stories contest. Kudos to Maggie Dorsey at Oxford Academy, who’s submitting entries from each of her 8th graders. Looks like a scary bunch. The stories, that is. This year’s overriding theme seems to be this finale … THE END?? Hollywood’s got these kids brainwashed into expecting sequels.

• Oxford’s getting a bowling team! Melissa Stagnaro reports today. Finally, a Blackhawk sport for the less jock-ish among us. If only they’d had a Dungeons & Dragons team back in the 80s …

What’s in a name (part II)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Brian Golden

Due to the fact that my last blog, “What’s in a name?,” ran much longer than anticipated, I promised to finish it off with part two. I’ll pick up my chronological tale of the bands I’ve performed with right where I left off, sometime in late February or early March of 2003, I believe.

Badweather Blues Band
This Southern-Tier-based blues/rock, funk and soul ensemble’s offer to become its lead guitarist caught me completely by surprise in early 2003. Fools at Play remained in limbo at the time and it was an offer I couldn’t turn down. I’d been a fan of the band since its first appearance at the Music Shop Pub years before and, little did I know, this would eventually mark my longest tenure in any single group. I’m not certain where the original leader of the band, K.B., came up with the name, but in time a permanent roster of musicians settled in, including myself, Hop, Sonny Boy, the Ringer, the Hurricane and the Reverend (official members of the band were assigned nicknames, somehow I ended up with Goldmember). Over the years this band became a kind of extended family to me, until, that is, my dismissal via e-mail in December of 2009 (similar to the way the Allman Brothers got rid of Dickey Betts, so at least I’m in good company). I still consider several members of the band my close friends, others, not so much.

The Pub Crawlers/The Voodoo Mystics
Both of these bands were made up of the same musicians, so I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone. Mike O. (keyboards), Jimmy John (bass), Bobby T. (drums) and I formed this group as the “house band” at the Music Shop Pub during my time with Badweather. More recently, we reformed as The Voodoo Mystics, and still perform on occasion when we can find time in each of our busy schedules. The Pub Crawler’s name was one of approximately 25 entries submitted in a Name the Band contest we held at our first show. The winner received a Yuengling golf umbrella, among other prizes, if I remember correctly.

Plainman Brown
Another band featuring best friend Tozer and myself, in addition to Mike Davis, Anthony Dorian and Jes Sheldon. One of my favorite band names due primarily to the way in which it was “discovered.” While working with my father and a mutual friend, hired for a particularly difficult carpet job in a 150-year-old cabin, our helper (who knew I was in search of a band name) found the words plainman brown painted on the sub-floor beneath an ancient carpet, probably the first ever installed in the structure. I’m guessing it was probably the paint color originally used in that room. Something about it stuck in my head and when I passed the information on to the rest of the group the decision was unanimous to adopt it as our name. A great band that could have gone somewhere if circumstances had turned out differently (Davis and I as a songwriting team and guitar tandem were particularly fun to listen to).

Master Thieves
My current, Syracuse-based ensemble, which finds me partnered once again with Tozer (I’m sensing a pattern here) and one I’m enjoying immensely. In addition to my best friend and I, the band features the Chuckster, also on guitar, Denise on vocals and fiddle and Mark on bass. I fell into this band completely by accident and it’s transformed from a classic rock/jam band into an original outfit that still performs covers of the two genres. We’re preparing to enter the studio for an all-original album in November (something I’m extremely excited for) and things are running pretty smoothly. The name, if I’m not mistaken, is taken from a Bob Dylan song that I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard. What’s really interesting is we’ve only just begun to perform some of my originals. The majority are Chuck’s, which is quite a different experience for me.

A short-lived band that brought Tozer, Vischi (still on bass) and I together once again. This began as a way to rehearse and record the original Lunar Stew tunes (from part one of “What’s in a name?”) and developed into a fun-filled jam spree for three old friends. We had big plans for this group but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be at this time. The name is in reference to a fictional character who makes repeat appearances in a number of songs I’ve composed, most of them from the Lunar Stew days. Another band like Plainman Brown that had great potential yet, ultimately, fell short of expectations.

And that’s it I suppose. I’m not sure if anyone really got anything out of this, but I must admit I enjoyed running through my history of bands anyway. About the only thing I find more fun than putting a new band together is performance itself (in addition to writing setlists, I love writing setlists). Keep an eye out for my next blog where I’ll run through ten movies that make it far too easy for Melissa Stagnaro to poke fun at my complete and utter geekiness.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/19/10

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Jeff Genung

As Tuesdays go, this was a Monday.

• My trackball died. Not front page news, I know, but it totally shattered my world today. For the non-tecchies in the group, a trackball is a computer input device – like a mouse, only upside down, sorta. Anyway, I’ve used one for years at the newspaper, and since I sit in front of a computer all day dragging and clicking, it has saved me from carpal tunnel syndrome. Saved my tennis career too, if I were to play tennis. Anyway, mine finally gave up the ghost, and was replaced today by a shiny new one. It’s sleeker and prettier and does a few more tricks, but it has a slightly different feel – slight enough to throw off my entire game. I feel like Liberace being forced to suddenly switch grands during a concert.

• I don’t feel like Liberace at all, really. Ever.

• I ran out of time yesterday and forgot to give a shoutout to the Chenango County Fire Police Association, whose annual banquet I attended at Fred’s Inn on Saturday. All I did was take a picture and eat a free buffet, really, but they made a big deal out of the fact that I showed up. Sometimes that’s half the battle. Anyway, a great group of people who do an awful lot for the community – you’d be surprised how many larger local events depend on their volunteer services to direct traffic and ensure the safety of pedestrians. Not to mention, even, the more hazardous and vital function they perform at fires and accident scenes. Job well done to this largely unsung group of heroes.

• Someone asked on ‘30 Seconds’ today if the phrase “WWJD?” used on our website would mean “What Would Jeff Do?” And the answer is – yes.

• We re-ran the business feature on Karolyn’s Krossroads restaurant in today’s edition. The version that ran in Friday’s paper in my absence had a rather embarrassing “continuation” error – omitting some key sentences when jumping from on page to another. Sometimes, the best you can do is really to run the whole thing all over again, which is what I decided to do today. Hope that makes it better, Karolyn! Our apologies.

• Tyler Murphy’s off tonight to Taylor’s Country House to speak to the Norwich Lions Club about newspapering. Either that, or he’s going for Butch’s wings, I’m not sure.

• Thursday is the DEADline for our annual Ghastly Ghost Stories contest! Entries are piling up like corpses in a slasher flick. Have you sent in yours? Read the gory details here.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/18/10

Monday, October 18th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• The key to blogging every day, I’ve learned, is remembering to blog every day. Off to a kind of a rough start for the week folks, and I darn plum forgot. Sorry. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow.

• Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t forget to blog today, I was simply too distraught this afternoon after having learned of the weekend death of Barbara Billingsley, of June “Leave it to Beaver” Cleaver fame. Anyone who knew me at SUNY Oswego in the late 80s knew of my strange fascination with the 50s sitcom, which aired every day after lunch on WTBS. Unplugged as I was over the weekend, I didn’t learn of Miss Billingsley’s demise until this morning, and I dare say I clutched my pearls. You can have your Roseannes, your Peg Bundys, your Marge Simpsons. Even your Carol Bradys. For me, there is only one quintessential TV mom, and that was June Cleaver. Much like my own, she was everything a mom should be. Rest in peace, both of you.

Scare tactics

Monday, October 18th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

While my co-worker Brian Golden spent a good portion of his Saturday at the local boy scouts’ 100 year “Camporee,” I was engaged in other pursuits. Most notably shoe shopping. During which I was mentally preparing myself to have the pants scared off me at Rogers Haunted Hill.

Can you tell I was more than a little excited for the excursion?

I’d heard people tell tales about the super-scary haunted house put on by the Rogers family at their Plymouth-area farm, but never had the chance to go. This year, as soon as I read Brian’s article on the annual event, I vowed to go.

I’m not going to lie – it wasn’t the article itself that convinced me. No, it was hearing grown men had been known to wet themselves it was so scary. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

When I passed that little tid-bit of information onto my friend and fellow Leadership Chenango alum Nancy, she was all for making the trip to Plymouth with me. Her step-daughter Shawna rounded out our little haunted house hunting trio.

On Saturday night we headed for the wilds of Plymouth. After a couple of wrong turns – courtesy of yours truly – we found Hopkins-Crandall Road. We’d managed to freak ourselves out pretty good by this point, a state which was heightened by the bloodcurdling screams and the unmistakable sound of a chainsaw which greeted us when we got out of the cars.

Let’s just say I was incredibly glad I’d taken the opportunity to use the “facilities” before we left Norwich.

Trembling in anticipation for what ghoulishly good fun lay ahead, we glommed on to one another and joined the trickle of other haunted house-goers trekking down the desolate dirt road toward the Rogers homestead. It was only a little after 7, but already the line stretched a good way down the hill from the house.

Time, unlike the line itself, moved quickly. Probably because we were having a blast freaking one another out – not to mention being freaked out by the hulking and skulking ghouls bent on scaring the bejesus out of those on line.

There was also the entertainment provided by the screaming harpy behind us in line, who did her best to create a massive scene over some supposed line-cutters. (Seriously, she should be ashamed of herself. I fervently wish I had been quick enough to capture it on video for all of our ES facebook fans to see. Then she could have been as mortified by her behavior as the rest of us.)

As a first-timer to the annual Halloween attraction, I had naively assumed I’d be able to experience the Haunted Hill in all of its gory glory and still have time to make it back to Norwich for the comedy show at Park Place, which I’d also committed to. Sadly, I was mistaken. By 8:20, we still weren’t at the head of the line, and with no cell service to speak of, I had no way of contacting the friends I was supposed to be meeting, for what was too have been my post-fright comic relief.

I was in a bit of a quandary about it, until Nancy basically made the decision for me. Practically pushing me out of line, she told me she’d give me a full report the following day.

Maybe I imagined it, but I thought for a moment a cheer went up behind us, as they watched me abandon my place allowing the line to creep forward that extra inch. But then it was drowned out by the drone of the chainsaw and a few more screams, so I couldn’t be sure.

As I hiked back up the road in search of my car, I thought about Brian and the quality time he’d spent with the scouts. Which is when I remembered that old scouting motto, “Be Prepared.”

Next year, I vowed, I’ll be much better prepared for Rogers Haunted Hill. I’ll get there earlier, dress warmer and will definitely not double-book.

Happy Haunting.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.


Friday, October 15th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

TFGIFF: Thank freaking goodness it’s finally Friday. And – even better – we only have to suffer two more of these Fridays without our fearless leader. Then the poor dear will have to resume working his regular schedule. Which is basically 24-7.

- Weather like this always makes me cranky and out of sorts. (Yes, Tyler, even more than normal.) But today I wasn’t the only one who was a big cranky pants. In this instance, however, it was completely justified. The coworker in question, who will remain nameless for the time being, was scrambling to get details for a piece in today’s paper. Details he’d been trying to get from the contact person for several days with no luck. In the end it took an email to someone over their head to get them to finally return a call. Which came just a few minutes before deadline. You can guarantee we won’t be jumping through any hoops to cover one of their events again. Because, as Jeff likes to say, The Evening Sun helps those who help themselves.

- In Jeff’s absence, one of my responsibilities is to approve posts to the online version of 30 seconds. Most people love to hate our reader reaction line. On days like today, I just hate it. We’re a week away from the full moon, but you wouldn’t know it judging by what I’ve seen today. All the crazies were out. And I for one have had my fill of the gay-bashing milk-haters out there. It makes me want to scream, “Get a Life!” Which, come to think of it, is probably why Jeff doesn’t allow me to type in snarky little responses. Today I have definitely been tempted. Particularly by the person who keeps asking about trick-or-treat times. Halloween is 2 weeks away. Relax.

- T. murph, as I like to call our dinosaur-loving crime reporter, has been swinging by Dunkin Donuts on Fridays these last few weeks. Which always means a Boston Cream doughnut for me. (Hooray!) This morning, he brought us all coffee as well. Which made me realize how truly awful the swill we drink every morning actually is.

- Coughs are still echoing through the newsroom from the last bout of sickness, but it looks like the creeping crud is threatening to make a second run. Regrettably it looks like yours truly may, once again, have the honor of being patient zero. It doesn’t help that my entire family has been sick this last week. And I fear my efforts to barricade myself upstairs, heavily armed with disinfectant and hand sanitizer, may have been for naught. This time, I doubt my coworkers will buy the “allergies” excuse.

- Proving there’s no rest for the wicked, most of us will be putting in hours this weekend. When I leave the office tonight, it will be to head to Greene for a Business After Hours sponsored by the Greater Greene Chamber of Commerce. Brian will be spending part of tomorrow at the Boy Scout’s 100 year celebration. Pat and Frank will be making their usual rounds of local sporting events and the like. And despite his best efforts to have a three day weekend, Jeff will be burning the midnight oil as well.

And we’ll be back on Monday. Same bat time, same bat place.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.