Archive for March, 2011

Editor’s Notebook: 3/31/11

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Jeff Genung

• March, which came in like a lion, is apparently poised to go out as one, too. That’s not how it’s supposed to go.

• Spent an hour or so last night over at the Norwich High School interviewing cast members of “The Phantom of the Opera.” What a great group of kids – not only talented, but gracious and articulate to boot. You can read my story here, but I’m more excited about my doing my review that’ll appear in tomorrow’s edition. I didn’t have time last night to watch any of the show, so I’m headed back tonight. I’m expecting great things, and I know I won’t be disappointed.

• Photographer extraordinaire Frank Speziale spent even more time at “Phantom” last night than I did. Check out all of his rehearsal photos in today’s Facebook gallery.

• Not disappointed in our legislators, for a change, either. New York’s first early budget since 1983 has passed. Can’t say I was paying much attention to New York State politics when I was a freshman in high school, so I’m going to say this is the first time in my memory that New York appears to have its act together. Some difficult choices had to made – and will still have to be made – but kudos to Gov. Cuomo for getting the job done on time, at least.

• Congratulations to downtown jeweler Hal Skillin, whose Norwich business is celebrating its 90th anniversary!

• Brian Golden had a great story on the Community page today about former longtime Pennysaver/Evening Sun receptionist Rose Laughlin, whose sister Erin is giving her quite a gift. Rose is an exceptional lady, and we wish her the best. We’ll keep you posted on how she’s doing, and the details of the upcoming benefit in her honor. We miss you, Rose!

• On an unrelated program note, I realize I’ve been remiss about weighing in on the American Idol goings-on. Frankly, I don’t care how much that Casey Abrams tries to act sincere or gets his bushy mane cut, he still looks like a little Leprechaun rapist to me.

Rum Cake

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I have a new love in life, and its name is Rum Cake. Whoever thought of taking a plain, run-of-the-mill Bundt cake and soaking it in rum was a genius. A genius, I tell you!

I have partaken of my share of these delightful confections in the past, but was recently re-introduced courtesy of one of my ES coworkers.

A coworker who, incidentally, has since been elevated to FAVORITE status.

Said colleague had just returned from a trip to the Caribbean and had brought back one of the aforementioned cakes as a sort of consolation prize.

Was I jealous that she had just enjoyed 10 days in a tropical paradise while I’d been stuck in an unending procession of school board meetings? Duh. Of course. But I wasn’t about to turn up cake.

I gladly gobbled up the offered slice. As soon as that rum-soaked goodness touched my lips, my bitterness instantly dissolved. It was as if the universe aligned and angels began singing on high. Bliss. Absolute bliss.

This, I thought, is the answer to all the world’s ills.

I mean, if the cake Marie Antoinette offered to the starving French peasantry had been this spirit-laden variety, things may have gone down differently for the soon-to-be headless royal.

Problems would be resolved much more easily if the quarreling parties sat down to share a rum cake first.

Henceforth, I propose, all gatherings should involve rum cake. Particularly school board meetings…

And now you’ll excuse me, won’t you, while I try to hunt down a good recipe.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 3/30/11

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Beautiful day out there for a change … just in time for a possible Nor’easter on Friday? Who knows what to believe. Sometimes I think I’m just as qualified as the “pros” to make up The Evening Sun’s weather forecast by looking out my window on Lackawanna Ave.

• Pat Newell’s had a great two-part interview with my fellow Blackhawk alum (OK, he’s a couple years behind me) J.P. O’Connor on our Sports page yesterday and today. Find out what the wrestling phenom’s been up to here.

• No more semestering for Oxford? Doesn’t seem all that long ago (see age reference above) that the school day had nine periods anyway. Frankly, I’ve never been able to concentrate on anything for more than 40 minutes at a time anyway, so I think the Oxford kids will be just dine going back to that tried-and-true late 80s scheduling. Great, Jeff. Now you’re going to have nightmares about “double period” gym tonight.

• I’ve been drunk before. Quite often, actually. But never so drunk that I went out and stole a car … and then stole another one, and wrecked it, in the same 24-hour period?? Stupid Chenango Criminal Tricks, #428.

• Headed over to Norwich High tonight after work to interview cast members from “Phantom of the Opera.” Look for my story (and Frank’s photos) in Thursday’s Evening Sun.

Happy B-day Mom!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Brian Golden

My stepfather and I have always joked about how easy it is to remember my mom’s birthday, which happens to be today. And why is that, you ask? It’s quite simple really – it’s the same as Eric Clapton’s birthday, and no guitarist worth his salt is going to forget that.

Sorry, mom, I had to sneak that in there.

Yes, today is mom’s birthday, and I wanted to take a moment to write about what an amazing person – and inspiration – she is to me. She’s a truly remarkable woman who’s always there when you need her, whether you’re a student at Morrisville’s Norwich Campus (she’s the dean if you didn’t know), a friend, a member of the family or even her only son, like me. On top of that, she’s accomplished more in her lifetime than I could ever relate here, from her days at the Shoe Factory, through her years of college and, ultimately, graduating with her doctorate just a couple of years ago.

So if you happen to run into Mrs. Marsha Cornelius today, or in the near future, make sure and wish her a very happy birthday. I can’t think of anybody who deserves it more and those who know my mom are well aware of how special she really is. I’m extremely proud of her and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the same person without her in my life. So a very happy birthday to you mom, love you.

Editor’s Notebook: 3/29/11

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Toyed heavily with using “The First Cut is the Deepest” on the headline for Melissa Stagnaro’s Norwich school budget story today, but decided to err on the side of caution. No laughing matter, really, as a lot of good people are about to lose their jobs. I’ll be the first one to agree that our public education system has become bloated over the years (I’ve seen multi-million dollar building projects in each of the nine districts we cover, several times over), but to trim it back this severely and this quickly is a tough blow to handle. Like Superintendent O’Sullivan paraphrased, “you’ve got to keep flying the plane.”

• Speaking of Ms. Stagnaro, I have to admit publicly that I punished her for missing this morning’s deadline in the worst, most inhumane and unspeakable manner later on. I can’t tell you exactly what it is I made her do (to protect the innocent and/or oblivious), but trust me, it was on par with the seventh circle of hell. The punishment did not fit the crime, and I am completely repentant. Until the next time I make her do it :)

• Two kid-packed photo galleries went up on The Evening Sun’s Facebook page in the last couple of days – one for the Spirit Night at NHS and the other for the YMCA’s March Madness kids basketball tournament. When dear ol’ Frank takes an average of 1,547 photos at an event, it’s a shame to let them go to waste.

• The theater geek in me is incredibly excited to see what Mark Sands and the thespians over at the high school have done with my beloved “Phantom of the Opera.” The show is this weekend, but I’m going tomorrow night for my annual interview with the stars and performance review. I wondered where they’d go after the resounding success of “Les Miserables” last year …

Second Sunday

Monday, March 28th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I don’t know about you, but my weekend never feels long enough. Even when I don’t have an event to cover, there just never seems to be enough hours in those two measly days to adequately decompress from one week and mentally prepare myself for the one to come.

When Sunday night rolls around, I can feel all that work related tension starting to build again. The very act of setting my alarm for Monday morning is enough to make me weep openly.

At the first trilling of said alarm, it is as if every cell in my body rebels, simultaneously jerking me awake and plummeting me even further into despair. In those seconds, I clearly see every second I wasted during my days off. I then spend the rest of the morning fervently wishing I’d made better use of my down time. Or that I’d suddenly come down with a highly contagious disease and therefore have a legitimate reason to stay in bed.

It was in one of these fits of desperation that I had a bit of an epiphany. A “eureka” moment, if you will, in which I saw the answer to all of our prayers. I believe my sub-conscious took its inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional world, Middle Earth. Specifically the hobbits, who took such joy in their daily meals that one breakfast wasn’t enough – hence the need for second breakfast.

Similarly, I think we need an extra day in our weekend. And in honor of Bilbo Baggins and his ilk, I propose we call it Second Sunday.

Who’s with me?

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 3/25/11

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Looks like a good time was had by all at Norwich’s Spirit Week Talent Show last night. Brian Golden posted a hilarious video of student Robert Jeffrey doing a … well, you should really see it for yourself, because it defies description. Click on this.

• Can you believe out of all 10,000 high school musicals I’ve seen, one of them is not “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?” I can’t share in Melissa Stagnaro’s enthusiasm for the film, because I haven’t seen that either. Anyway, if you’re so inclined, you can check it out at Greene High School this weekend, as their Footlights club performs the musical tonight, Saturday and Sunday.

• Speaking of musicals, I’m already getting excited for next weekend’s show at Norwich – “Phantom of the Opera.” My old friend Mark Sands has really bitten off a big chunk of stage with this one. I can’t wait to see how the Tornado thesps pull this one off. Watch for my review and coverage next week.

• Although I won’t be humiliating myself on the lanes this weekend, tomorrow’s the 24th annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake benefit for Chenango’s Big Brother/Big Sister program, from noon to 4 p.m. at Plaza Lanes.

• And in sports news (there’s a phrase you won’t often read in this blog), Sun Sports Editor Pat Newell reveals his picks for the 2011 Evening Sun All-Stars team for boys basketball in today’s edition.

• Have a great weekend everybody!

The Weather Rock

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Last Friday was a picture perfect 60 degree day. I went straight home after work and went for a walk, delighting in the sunshine. It made me wish I knew how to whistle. It was just that kind of afternoon.

I gave winter what I thought was its last hoorah on Saturday, hitting the slopes at Greek Peak with my friend Doreen. A fitting way to spend the last official day of winter. Come Sunday, I was ready to pack away all of my warm weather gear and welcome in the spring. For once, I thought Punxsutawney Phil would be right.

Of course all those fanciful notions came crashing down Monday morning, when I woke to find four inches of heavy wet snow blanketing the world outside my window.

Was that supposed to be a joke, Mother Nature? Because I didn’t really find it all that funny.

My morning commute was treacherous to say the least, but I made it to work safe and sound. (Albeit a little late.) Others had a worse time of it, judging by the sheer volumes of calls over the scanner for cars going off the road.

It was like, just because it was officially spring, everyone forgot how to drive in the wintery conditions we’ve been living with for months. Panic set in.

That’s the only explanation I can find for Wednesday’s premature school closures. According to the forecast we were supposed to get a few inches of snow. But four of our local schools closed for the day before even a single flake had actually fallen.

I’m sure they had the safety of their students in mind when they made the decision, but I’m sure they were kicking themselves when all that snow we were supposed to get never materialized.

Oopsie!

I’m not going to beat them up over it, though. I’m sure they’ve already gotten plenty of slack. Particularly since they were already out of snow days (or at least close to it).

Let’s face it: this is upstate New York. The weather is as unpredictable here as anywhere. Probably more so. Half the time there is no use even looking at the forecast. It’ll just be wrong.

I myself use a different method, one recommended to me by my good friend Jim Root. It’s called the weather rock. (There’s rumor he has a patent pending, but that’s unconfirmed.)

The principle behind the weather rock is simple. Rather than relying on notoriously inaccurate forecasts, one simply looks at this sage piece of stone. If it’s wet, grab your umbrella. Snow covered? Better have your boots at the ready. If it happens to be shining brightly in the sunshine, make sure your favorite pair of shades are handy.

Really, you can’t go wrong.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Discovering the past in the future

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Tyler Murphy

As mankind is propelled forward at unprecedented speeds by modern technology these advances are offering our race an ever more elaborate view of how the past unfolded.

Using new dating techniques and methods we’re learning more and looking further back into the past than ever before. With each new cutting edge discovery we are slowly unraveling the world’s ancient mysteries. As with so many other scientific discoveries what we’re finding is that perhaps we’ve underestimated our forbearers sophistication and it’s slowly changing everything we thought we knew.

For example: Just recently archaeologists allegedly found a trove of thousands of tools that pre-date the land bridge theory for human migration to America. 

That means ancient man may have had the power to cross sizable distances along coasts or even open water. There have been theories for sometime claiming very ancient people may have actually developed mariner skills ten of thousands of years before the first known written language. Which we believe was Cuneiform about 6,000 year ago when the first of what we consider “civilization” began in 4,000 BC. (A.k.a 30 to 40 centuries before the alleged birth of Christ) The writing was part of the earliest known civilization in a region know as Mesopotamia, often called the “Cradle of Civilization.” Today we call is mostly Iraq, though parts of other neighboring middle eastern countries were also a part.

The land bridge idea might have still accounted for some migrations but more and more scientists are finding an emerging pattern of several different migrations, and how they go here is still of great debate. One thing that seems to becoming apparent is the idea of people crossing a physical/frozen sea land bridge from Russia to Alaska is really only part of a larger story. Which begs a whole host of questions and notions about early people being as primitive as we thought. 

I recently read a book that talked a lot about early human migration and just how much we don’t know about it, A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson. It was one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life and I highly recommend it.

Another example: Archaeologist discovered tools and remains of modern humans in the heart of Australia’s mainland which are more than 40,000 years old.

There is no evidence to explain this. The American land bridge was 13,500 years ago but there is no and never has been a land bridge to Australia. Even by island hopping on small seafaring crafts the only way to get to Australia’s coast would be to blindly cast off across the deep blue sea at several different points between the dispersed land masses. There is no evidence to suggest this either, it’s just a best-guess theory and even this line of thought implies established travel routes, open ocean navigation and ship building abilities considered beyond early humans. But I guess not because obviously enough people made it to Australia to create an early civilization.

On top of that the remains were burned and then buried and scientists have claimed it shows the earliest know evidence of ritualized cremation. Again, surprising signs of an advancing nomadic culture that shouldn’t have been there to begin with.

A key question is navigation after losing sight of land how such a ship might have been powered or constructed, not to mention the level of human organization and communication required, is a historical mystery. Again this evidence even predates our estimates of advanced structured language. 

The more we learn the less we know.

What is J.P. O’Connor up to?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Patrick Newell

J.P. O’Connor had a whirlwind finish to his college career. The 2006 Oxford Academy graduate won the 157-pound NCAA Division I wrestling title last March, and approximately two months later, completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard. O’Connor was in the enviable position of having options. He could continue his education and work toward his medical degree; he could also join the working world; or he could bypass education and work, and continue to wrestle.
We spoke to O’Connor this week by phone, and he detailed his post-college exploits. Yes, O’Connor is still wrestling, and no, he is not presently enrolled in college (although he will ultimately return to school).
A few months after resting on top of the collegiate wrestling world, O’Connor found himself on the bottom rung on the U.S. freestyle circuit working his way up. “Last September and October, I was just like anyone else,” O’Connor said. “It’s a new challenge and I’ve had some good wins. There has definitely been a transition period, and I think I am finally starting to make strides, wrestle well, and build strategy.”
Other topics discussed were Kyle Dake of Lansing, now a two-time NCAA champion, and newly-crowned UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who wrestled on the same Section IV Division I team as O’Connor in 2005. Also on that team were Arthur Jones, now a NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens; and Troy Nickerson, who went on to win an NCAA Division One title.
Look for a feature story on O’Connor in next week’s Evening Sun sports section.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat.