Archive for May, 2011

Embracing my inner geek (comic book style)

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Brian Golden

It’s been awhile since I “geeked-out,” as my dedicated co-worker Melissa Stagnaro would call it, here on my reporter blog. And considering it’s an absolutely beautiful spring day out there, well, I guess I could use something to take my mind off the fact that our Evening Sun crew is stranded here in the newsroom. I’m sure we’re all counting the minutes until we can shed our individual reporter personas and change into a pair of shorts and a T-shirt before making our way gleefully outside for some much-needed sunshine (at least that’s what I’m planning).

Therefore, I’ve decided to dive once more into the realm of the comic book – considering the recent release of Thor and the Green Lantern in theaters, as well as the upcoming X-Men, Captain America, Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman and Superman pictures – and run through my top ten Marvel and DC comic book characters of all time. Here are my first five selections – in no particular order – to be continued tomorrow afternoon.

#10 – Daredevil (Marvel Comics)
My first and all-time favorite comic book hero, I was always fascinated by Stan Lee’s take on lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night Matt Murdock and his unique abilities as a blind man with radar-like capabilities which allow him to “see” as Hell’s Kitchen’s guardian angel, er, devil. My very first comic book was a John Romita-penned Daredevil (I later discovered the art of his son John Romita, Jr., which is also fantastic) that I’ve somehow managed to hang onto for over twenty years now.

#9 – Batman (DC Comics)
No top ten comic book list would be complete without including the World’s Greatest Detective, more commonly referred to as the Batman. I can’t remember when I first latched on to this book, except that my collection, at one point, numbered over 100 consecutive issues. Sadly, Bruce Wayne (as Batman) and Robin didn’t survive a certain high school relationship of mine, as my ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend way back when decided to torch each and every comic I’d been unable to retrieve at the time. In later years, however, I began grabbing up the occasional issue featuring everyone’s favorite Dark Knight, some of which are now worth a pretty penny.

#8 – Superman (DC Comics)
Where there’s a fan of Batman, there’s typically a Superman aficionado as well, and I’m no exception. The Man of Steel is just so fundamentally American (even if he is from Krypton) that it’s impossible not to love the guy. I have some really interesting runs of this book, including a year-long story-line which finds Superman abandoning earth for the deep reaches of space, definitely one of my favorites. It’s funny, but I can remember – as a kid – wondering what it would be like working as a reporter in the newsroom of The Daily Planet. In hindsight, that’s downright hilarious.

#7 – Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)
Stan Lee’s ultimate superhero creation, I’ve always loved Peter Parker’s witty sense of humor, not to mention one of the best back stories ever written for a comic book character. “With great power comes great responsibility,” according to Uncle Ben, a bit of wisdom more of those in power could use to learn in this day and age. When John Romita, Jr. lent his amazing talents to this book, let’s just say I grabbed-up every copy as soon as it hit the shelves. Following the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Marvel released a “black issue” of the comic that featured some of the most incredible artwork I’ve ever seen.

#6 – Iron Man (Marvel Comics)
Billionaire Tony Stark, as Iron Man, was such a complete reversal from what every comic lover out there had come to expect when it comes to the superhero pantheon that I would’ve included him even if he weren’t one of my favorites. I mean, really, what’s not to like – billionaire playboy, wickedly cool set of red-and-gold armor (stocked with all sorts of nifty gadgets) and an entertaining supporting cast of characters (not to mention villains). When I first heard Robert Downey, Jr. had been cast as Stark for the Iron Man movies, I’ll admit I had my doubts. Obviously, I had nothing to worry about.

Check back tomorrow if you happen to be a fan of the Marvel and DC universes like myself, where I’ll finish-up my top ten favorite comic book characters. Same bat-time, same bat-channel!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Jeff Genung

Goin’ to the candidates’ debate … OK, there probably won’t be all that much in the way of a debate, but it’s still fun to quote Simon & Garfunkel. Should be an interesting evening at Gibson tonight, with the five candidates for the Norwich City School Board putting on their best face for the public. Looks like Mr. McBride had such a good time as moderator at last year’s shindig that he threw his own hat in the ring. I’ll let you know what I thought about the field of candidates in my column Friday.

• Far too nice of a day to be sitting inside in front of this computer. Dick Snyder has denied my repeated requests for a retractable roof on our Lackawanna Avenue digs.

• For those of you who have been asking, Evening Sun sales consultant Linda Green is on an extended emergency medical leave. She’s currently at Wilson Hospital down in Johnson City. I hear it was touch-and-go for a while there, but she is slowly improving. We here at The Evening Sun (and I’m sure all her clients and contacts) wish her a speedy recovery. The office just isn’t the same without you, Linda!

• The twin daughters of two people I went to high school with made headlines on our sports page today, playing for our Blackhawks. Thanks for making me feel old!

Editor’s Notebook: 5/10/11

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Can he write a 30-inch story on deadline and still get the paper out on time? Why yes, he can. I can also bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan …

• Tough decision made by CMH in that aforementioned story of mine. The School Based health centers were clearly a loss leader for our struggling local hospital, so I can certainly see why they had to be cut. On the other hand, I fear there are a lot of parents out there (both low-income and low-involvement) who won’t bother getting their kids the level of care that those centers provided. Shame on New York State for pretty much mandating this program out of existence.

• Brian is the 156th Evening Sun reporter who has returned from a foray to the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich exclaiming they had no idea how expansive and amazing that facility is. I suspect the same is true of a lot of Chenango natives – you truly don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t been to this phenomenal treasure trove right in our own back yard. And with a new exhibit opening this weekend, now is the perfect time to do it.

• Jim Dunne wrote a nice piece on today’s Sports page honoring George Echentile, who himself will be honored with the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen of the Year award at a Country Club dinner on Thursday. I never had Mr. Echentile as a coach of course (I went to Oxford for one, and can’t swim for another), but I’ve heard nothing but high praise of him. Certainly deserving of the honor, I’m sure.

• Don’t forget the Meet the Candidates night at Gibson in Norwich Wednesday. Looks like an interesting field this year. I’m going to go myself. Maybe I’ll write a “review” for my column Friday like I did last year. Minus the hyperbolic rant I went off on a certain perennial yet now absent candidate, of course.

Editor’s Notebook: 5/9/11

Monday, May 9th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Back from a much-blogged about (thanks Melissa, I was watching your every move) long weekend in gorgeous Washington, D.C. with a group of friends. A good time was had (and a lot of money spent) by all. And as much as I’m enthralled by the hustle and bustle of a big city, it’s always nice to come home.

• School budget struggles continue to dominate the local news, it seems. Brian and Tyler each had stories in today, from Otselic Valley and Unadilla Valley, respectively. Tonight, Melissa’s off to a hearing on Norwich’s spending plan, and tomorrow I’ve got a story myself on a recent decision made by CMH that will impact several districts. Yikes. I don’t envy our friends in education these days. The difficult decisions are coming one right after the other.

• The Chenango County Council of the Arts held its 10th annual Allegro Run for the Arts in Norwich Saturday. Looks like they had a great turnout – including our own Evening Sun Sports Editor, Pat Newell. Check out Frank Speziale’s photos from the race on their Facebook page.

• And speaking of Facebook, I put up a gallery today of Frank’s photos from the removal of the Red Mill bridge on Friday. Other than hearing about it being washed out by floods (and that time a year or two ago when some nimrod tried to drive a tractor trailer over it), I can’t say I could even tell you where it was. Apparently it was quite the well-known local shortcut (sorry, I’m still an Oxford boy, I guess) and will be greatly missed if they don’t replace it – which my money’s on.

Everything is better in hot pink

Monday, May 9th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

In less than a month I’ll be participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight, an 18 mile overnight jaunt through New York City to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness.

I may have mentioned it a time or, like, twenty.

For months I’ve been preparing for the event, doing training walks and helping Team Chenango raise the more than $10,000 we need to embark on this journey of ours. The time and energy I’ve put into it is well worth it, though, because this truly is an important cause.

I have been so engrossed in the above tasks, that I neglected something rather important: appropriate footwear for the event.

I know, I know. It’s shocking. Not only is it absolutely crucial to have the right shoes for something like this, but when have I ever put off the chance to go shoe shopping!

Up until last week – when I suddenly realized the event was, yikes, only a few short weeks away – I didn’t feel a sense of urgency. My trusty hiking shoes work just fine on my training walks since I’m usually on the soft shoulder of the rural roads by my house. (Unfortunately, they don’t work so well on hard surfaces – like the city streets I’ll be tromping along when we head to NYC.)

And, I’ll be honest, buying sneakers just doesn’t “do it” for me like other shoe shopping. There’s something about having to select footwear based on function rather than form which I find inherently depressing and disheartening.

But with time running out, I knew I had to bite the bullet. So yesterday, under the guise of a mother/daughter shopping trip in honor of Mother’s Day, I dragged dear old mom with me to Vestal.

It was hell. Not only for me, but for the young sales associate – named, ironically, Melissa – who had the misfortune of working in the shoe section at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Where I spent well over an hour trying on basically every women’s athletic shoe they stocked. In both an 8 1/2 and a 9.

By the time I whittled it down to the top three, my hands were raw from tying so many double knots. And my feet were basically numb. Which made the decision that much harder for obvious reasons.

In the end, I selected a pair of Saucony’s. (They happened to be one of the first I tried on, but I hope Melissa didn’t remember that. For what she endured, she should definitely get Employee of the Year.)

They are a shockingly hot pink. But I swear, that didn’t factor into the final decision at all.

Okay. Maybe a little.

A special thanks to my mom, who was a wonderful sport about the whole thing. (Perhaps because I plied her with white zinfandel during our celebratory lunch prior to our Dick’s excursion.)

Happy Mother’s Day, to the best mom on the planet. Oh, and Happy Anniversary! She and my dad are celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary today.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Playing Jeff

Friday, May 6th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

As you may have surmised from the comments Jeff dropped all week, our fearless leader is off today. In fact, as we speak, he’s headed to our nation’s capital with his cronies for a long weekend.

I’d be happy for him, if I wasn’t so darn jealous.

Not that I have time to waste on such emotion, because in Jeff’s absence I’m pulling double duty. Not by myself, of course. It takes the entire ES editorial staff to put out the paper when our editor in chief isn’t around.

It’s been awhile since Jeff has deserted us (or taken a vacation day), so we were a little rusty this morning. But we better get used to it, because this was just a trial run. Apparently he intends to resume his 4-day work schedule in June. Thereby ruining my summer. (Life just isn’t the same without Friday Lunch to look forward to.)

One of the tasks I pick up while he’s out of the office, is checking his emails. And believe me, he gets a lot. Much of it unsolicited, and even more, outright spam. At least that’s how I categorize the press releases from the New York State Arm Wrestling Association and the 12 messages we’ve received about Judgment Day. (Which is, apparently, just 19 days away.)

And, of course, there is the online 30 seconds forum. Having to wade through and approve/disapprove posts is like being condemned to my personal hell. My favorites are the multiple posts by the same person under different monikers (Man from Norwich, Woman from Sherburne, etc.). FYI – I can see your IP address. Just like we can recognize your voice when you call our reader reaction line.

Perhaps I wouldn’t despise the task so much if I was free to comment on the lunacy. But, alas, that’s not an option. Jeff was VERY specific with his instructions. And even though he’s probably a couple of states away by now, I wouldn’t dare do anything to displease him.

Like, say, raid his secret cache of snack food.

Oopsie. I guess I better do something with these wrappers.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 5/5/11

Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Happy Cinco de Mayo! (That one’s for you, Nicole. So is this shot of tequila.)

• Been a couple days since I’ve frequented the blogosphere. Taking tomorrow off (just tomorrow, not quite yet the start of my infamous Summer Fridays Off series) for a little weekend getaway to D.C., and it seems like my desk (and inbox) have been more inundated than usual. I swear the Universe conspires against me whenever I even think about knocking off a little early here.

• Good luck to Sewain Conklin, who’s filling in as CEO over at Commerce Chenango. Not that he’ll need it, of course – he did it at least once before after Tammy Carnrike left. Interesting roster of names chosen as the search committee to find a permanent replacement for Maureen Carpenter, too – I’m sure with that group, they’ll find the perfect candidate.

• What were all those TV vans doing in Norwich around lunchtime? Representatives from the governor’s office toured Chenango County’s tornado-stricken countryside to assess the damage, and hopefully determine how much money we’ll get to fix it. Brian will have the story in tomorrow’s paper. Funny how those logo-plastered mobile TV vans garner so much attention – my phone rang off the hook with people wondering what was going on. I suppose our Evening Sun vehicles aren’t quite as conspicuous. Well, except for Tyler’s ‘88 Lumina, maybe.

• Who will be the next Chenango County Dairy Princess? I know that’s a question that’s been on a lot of your minds, but still. I miss the days when part of Her Royal Highness’ duties were to come to our newsroom to whip up a batch of Milk Punch. What? You don’t know what Milk Punch is? Oh, you haven’t lived, my friends.

• OK, that’s enough for today … I’m outta here. Enjoy the weekend, everyone! (And by reinforcing the fact that I will not be here tomorrow, I am of course asking that you don’t blame me for anything that’s in Friday’s edition).

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
Patrick Newell

* Steve Burghardt returned to the dugout to coach the Greene varsity baseball team after approximately a 15-year hiatus. Burghardt was an eleventh-hour selection as coach when the position abrubtly became available in early March. Most of Burghardt’s first coaching tenure pre-dated my time here at the Sun, but I was aware of his tradition of winning. Burghardt guided Greene to several Susquenango Association league titles, and I learned last night that he led the Trojans to the Class C state semifinals almost 20 years ago. Some of the events from Monday night’s loss to Unatego reminded Burghardt of that state semifinals game appearance. This year’s Trojans are littered with freshmen and sophomores playing key roles in the field and on the mound. While the Trojans’ record is average – five wins and five losses – that mark could easily be better. Two of those losses came in the bottom of the seventh after opponents’ rallies, and the Trojans led late in the game against Unatego. If there was any doubt, Burghardt still has the coaching touch.

* I have heard some excellent feedback on our weekly series profiling the first class of Norwich Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Thursday we present the fourth installment of the series, “Mr. Norwich,” Ed Ackley. Ackley epitomizes the phrase, “all-time great,” so please read the recounting of his accomplishments in the early 1950s.

* Before I entered high school, the Norwich track and field team had a long history of excellence. Just in my high school years at NHS, two Section IV boys records were set. One by Jeff Johnson in the high jump, I believe it was 6-foot-8, and Doug Grzibowski, a classmate of mine, who set the Section IV record in the discus throwing it over 172 feet. Grzibowski’s record still stands, as a matter of fact. The last decade-plus, Norwich’s boys have experienced some growing pains, and have gone a long time between division titles. The team experienced a resurgence last year, and with so many athletes back this year, the preseason goal was to reclaim the top spot in the STAC Central Division. In tomorrow’s paper, you will read about Norwich’s convincing win over Owego. That leaves Norwich in a showdown for the division title with Johnson City next week. NHS head coach, Paul Sims, said it would be the first STAC division title for his team since the early 1990s.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 5/2/11

Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Call me a pacifist if you will, but I’m not so sure we should be dancing in the streets over last night’s news of Osama bin Laden’s death. Isn’t this exactly what incensed us about Al Qaida/Muslim extremists after 9/11? I certainly understand the feelings of relief and even a certain degree of retribution, but the blatant celebrating of the taking of a human life isn’t very … American. I’m glad his particular threat has been neutralized (though I’m afraid the snake has many heads), but to jubilantly dance in the streets makes me extremely uneasy – “rubbing it in their faces” will only perpetuate the cycle of revenge.

• So that was a tornado that hit Pharsalia last Thursday, the National Weather Service tells us. Duh. It was pretty obvious to anyone who saw the damage what caused it, but I suppose it’s their job to confirm such things. Tyler Murphy revisited the site over the weekend – his pictures from that hike are up on our Facebook page today.

• We’re getting unconfirmed reports that a gas drilling worker was killed in an accident in Smyrna over the weekend. We’ll keep you posted in tomorrow’s edition.

Some people…

Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Brian Golden

It’s so absolutely unbelievable that I would laugh until I cried if I weren’t so angry. Actually, I’m kind of “beyond angry” at this point. Here we are, just hours after finding out that we’ve finally rid the world of Osama bin Laden, and already the bickering, finger-pointing and arguing over who gets all the credit has begun. Some people have no shame.

What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that those Americans who – just a week ago – continued to question our president’s place of birth, are now the same doubting the sincerity of this long-anticipated news. Now that they’ve been proven locally, nationally and globally as ignorant and foolish, they immediately latch-on to another completely unwarranted conspiracy theory – this time concerning the validity of Osama’s death.

As with the “birther” issue, I’m going to nip this one in the bud, go out on a limb and state that, yes, Osama bin Laden finally got what he’s deserved for nearly two decades now. I’m 100 percent positive. And while I remain firm in my opposition to torture and some of the other heinous facets of war, I have no problem with this outcome. In fact, well, let’s just say if it’d been me with the gun that finally got Osama, I wouldn’t lose a nights sleep over it, that’s for damn sure.

Regardless, I’d like to take this moment to thank our men and women in service, both at home and overseas, our country’s intelligence network for getting this one right (unlike the Iraq war) and, most of all, those American Special Forces soldiers who nabbed the biggest terrorist out there.

I’d also like to thank our president, who’s obviously not the Muslim terrorist, anti-American, socialist, weak-willed liberal some of you would like to think. Obama shone today and I for one am glad to have experienced that.

And let’s not forget the approximately 3,000 people who died – thanks to bin Laden – nearly ten years ago on September 11, 2001. This victory is yours…and yours alone.