Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dawidziak’s 12th+ book out in 2015
Illustration by Mark Dawidziak; Mark D. as Twain
PD and former BJ television critic Mark Dawidziak’s next book on humorist Mark Twain will be “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Romance, Health and Happiness.” It will be published in June 2015 by Prospect Park Books.
Mark did the illustrations for the book.
Previous books by our Mark on Samuel Langhorne Clemmens’ Mark: “Mark My Words” and “Mark Twain on Writing.” When Mark isn’t doing Mark Twain shows with his Largely Literary Theater Company, he’s doing Charles Dickens or Edgar Allen Poe works. Although Mark and wife Sara Showman, who live in Cuyahoga Falls, did add a Civil War show, “Shades of Blue and Gray,” in 2013.
LLTC was formed in 2001. After 15 years at the BJ, Dawidziak trained his sights on the PD in 1999.
Among Dawidziak’s dozen or more books are the 1994 horror novel, “Grave Secrets”; two histories of landmark TV series, “The Columbo Phile: A Casebook” (1989) and “The Night Stalker Companion” (1997); and “The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula” (2008).
Dawidziak came to the BJ from Tennessee in 1983, but grew up in Brooklyn. The one in New York, not the one in Ohio.

Before the BJ & the PD, Mark's career took him to:

1979-83: arts editor (theater, film and TV critic), Kingsport Times-News (Tennessee)
    1979: arts editor
(theater, film and TV critic), Bristol Herald Courier (Virginia)
    1978: city editor, Associated Press, Washington, D.C., bureau
    1977-78: bureau assistant, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Washington, D.C., bureau

Thrity, Cinda Chima at Case writing conference

Thrity Umrigar, Cinda Williams Chima
Former BJ reporter Thrity Umrigar, Case Western Reserve University English professor and author of six novels set in her native India, will be the keynote speaker for Case’s writing conference May 31.

Thrity’s Facebook post:
“Ohio peeps: If you are an aspiring writer and want to gain some tips on enhancing your craft, consider signing up for Case Western Reserve University's one-day writing conference on May 31. I'm giving the keynote address, which will be followed by a day’s worth of workshops and classes and panel discussions.
“Participants include my Pulitzer prize-winning colleague Jim Sheeler, poets Mary Biddinger and Phil Metres, memoirist Joyce Dyer and other terrific writers. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”
Also among the teaching writers is former BJ classified phone room ad-taker in the 1970s Cinda Williams Chima, a young adults romance novelist and sister of BJ retiree Mike Williams. She will talk about how to use cinematic techniques to ensnare the teen reader.

Other authors at the conference include former Sports Illustrated writer Michael Grant Jaffe, whose “Dance Real Slow” novel morphed into the “A Dry, Cool Place” movie; novelist S. Andrew Swann (pen name for Steven Swiniarski); and Cleveland University School’s Sam Thomas.

John Dunphy (right), Dr. Mario Curti
Report by
John Dunphy

Former BJ reporter John Dunphy, Southland Golf contributing editor and a former reporter for the Orange County Register in California, has an optimistic report about his esophageal cancer:
“Dunphy cancer update:
“I saw Dr. Mario Curti, my wonderful oncologist, today. He was so excited! This writer had mentioned him in Southland Golf magazine!! It was a story about how this guy, thanks to Dr. Curti, had beaten cancer and gotten his swing back. Curti felt like a rock star! And he is.
“And he's very invested in making sure I remain cancer-free. What I'm excited about is that my blood work looks like a guy in his 20s, according to the rock star. I have an endoscopy and PET scan in the next weeks, and we are hoping for the same good news. Dr. Jon Lipham, the surgeon who is doing the scope, was mentioned in the article too.
“This is an early photo of Curti and me before all the big stuff happened.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

9 or 10 sign up for BJ buyouts

On April 10 former BJ political columnist and writing coach Abe Zaidan named Jewell Cardwell, Dave Scott, Jim Carney and Bill Lilley among those signing up for a possible buyout. 

Abe said management would accept five applicants.

The BJ management offer was for 6 union people and one exempt person to take the buyouts, which include a year’s pay as an inducement to leave Old Blue.

Another source – not Abe -- told us the names of 9 or 10 who applied for the 6 or 7 buyouts.

They are:

Kathy Antoniotti – Pets column, southern Summit/northern Stark reporter.

Carol Biliczky (Levandoski) - Higher education reporter, Sunday community news.

Jewell Cardwell – Slice of Life columnist.

Jim Carney – General assignment, military affairs reporter.

Bill Lilley - Former sports writer, now copy editor.

Ed Meyer – Courts and crime reporter who came to the BJ as a sports writer.

Dave Scott – Regional issues reporter and former deputy Business editor.

Joe Thomas – National editor, who was a part-time BJ sports statistician while a Kent State student (and, later, a KSU graduate).

Olga Reswow – Copy editor and sometimes Russian translator for BJ reporters dealing with those who spoke Russian better than English. Olga survived her car being rear-ended in 2011 by a drunk driver that for a while put her in a wheelchair. 

MAYBE Laura Ofobike, chief editorial writer.

Jim and Kathy and Ed won Cleveland Press Club awards for their reporting. 

This will leave Metro with only eight reporters and the newsroom with 60 survivors, give or take a few. That’s barely one-fourth the total when I retired in 1996.

L-R: Jim Mackinnon, Cheryl Powell-Fuller, Betty-Lin Fisher, Katie Byard
They mean business

I found this photo interesting for those of us who haven’t been to the third floor of the BJ for a few decades.

The people in the photo are Jim Mackinnon, Cheryl Powell-Fuller, Betty-Lin Fisher and Katie Byard, the BJ’s business writers.

The windows behind their heads are where Betty Jaycox once prowled in the Society Department, as it was called in those days. 

Between the heads of the three females is where Pat Englehart once ruled the State Desk. 

The blue-greenish stuff on the right of the photo is where the Sports Department once regaled the rest of the newsroom.

With scarcely 60 people left in the newsroom, that’s close to one-fourth the number when I retired in 1996.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dawidziak raising Dickens again

Mark Dawidziak as Dickens
PD and former BJ TV critic Mark Dawidziak will present “An Afternoon With Charles Dickens” at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3 in Cuyahoga County’s Orange Branch Library, the James A. Garfield meeting room.

Mark’s Largely Literary Theater Company has portrayed Dickens for years in many venues in the BJ’s 5-county circulation area, or at least what used to be the BJ’s circulation area in better times when the BJ went after what publisher Ben Maidenburg described as "boxcar numbers."

This time the Dickens selections will include excerpts from “Dombey and Son,” “A Christmas Carol” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”

It’s part of the Orange Library’s spring British Heritage Series sponsored by the Friends of the Orange Branch Library.

Ott Gangl’s 1972 ‘The Witch’ still lives

Ott Gangl
In 1972 BJ photographer Ott Gangl put together a book of photos called “The Witch.”

It has been converted into a DVD.

Fellow BJ photographer Paul Tople brought “The Witch” to light again in a Facebook post.

“The Witch” by Ott Gangl stars Shade Burnett as The Woman of the Sun, Thomas Carl Natalina as The Man of Men and Karen Benson as Earth Woman.

The prose is incredible. Ott said it was written by the late George Murray,  once a BJ reporter. "He told me he had to sleep between two lead sheets with my pictures to come up with the text, but that was George. I loved that guy."

Boy, that sure sounds like the George Murray I knew.

Ott’s photos, as usual, are profound.

“The Witch” was edited by Shane Burnett. The quiet but stirring music is by Partners in Rhyme.

This is an amazing project by Ott. Is there nudity? Of course. It’s Ott. Is it tasteful? Of course. It’s Ott.

I can see “The Witch” being converted into an Oscar-winning movie, particularly if it is produced as a foreign language film.

You’re been told about its content. 

But if you want to check out this 14 ½-minute masterpiece, click on

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cuyahoga Valley among 10 national parks worth spring visit

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is among 10 national parks worth a visit this spring, according to NBC News.

The park's description on the NBC News web site:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Forests, farmlands and buildings rich in Ohio history — the charms of Cuyahoga Valley are more inviting than awe-inspiring, so it makes sense to slow down while exploring them. A great way is to bike some or all of the 20 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the park and then flag down the scenic railroad — wave both hands so they don’t think you’re just saying hello — for an even more relaxing ride back to your car (one-way: $3).

The others:

Biscayne National Park an hour from Miami.
Capital Reef National Park in Utah.
Death Valley National Park in California.
Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Yosemite National Park in California.

That puts Cuyahoga Valley National Park in some pretty impressive company.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Downward spiral of Kansas City Star

Karen Dillon
Karen Dillon was a superb investigative reporter for the Kansas City Star for 22 years. She won more than 30 awards while reporting on NCAA gender-equality violations, Missouri police practices during drug-money seizures, missing municipal money in Merriam, Missouri and improper searches of homes in Leawood, Missouri.

Until 2013, when Star management shoved Dillon out.

In 2006 Knight-Ridder sold the Star and 20 other newspapers, including the Beacon Journal, to McClatchy for $6.5 billion. Since, McClatchy stock has gone from $75 to $6 a share. And McClatchy revenue keeps shrinking.

With all the newsroom departures, as with newspapers everywhere, investigative reporting – Dillon’s speciality – takes a big hit. And politicians and businesses dance with joy because there are so few watchdogs to keep 
them honest.

At least Dillon hasn’t stopped her investigative reporting, although not for the Star. She led Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB-Channel 41’s series on Kansas law enforcement’s restrictive open-records laws.

To read the article on the sorry demise of the once-lauded Star, click on

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Patrick Carney busy on drums
Carney’s son to make 3rd 'SNL' appearance

The Black Keys, the band that includes BJ reporter Jim Carney’s son, Patrick Carney, will make its third “Saturday Night Live” appearance on the NBC show May 10. 

Charlize Theron, who won an Oscar for 2003's "Monster," will host.

Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, former Firestone High classmates, have a roomful of Grammy Awards. Patrick lives in New York City with wife Amy Ward.

The Black Keys were on “Saturday Night Live” Jan. 8, 2011 and Dec. 3, 2011.  

Patrick’s first marriage was to Cleveland Scene and former BJ reporter Denise Grollmus. 

Giffels’ new book: ‘The Hard Way’

Former BJ writer David Giffels, author of “The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt,” says, "I have spent my whole life watching people leave."

The former rubber capital of the world, Akron had Goodyear, Firestone and Goodrich and  thousands of high-paying jobs until the 1970s. The work migrated to places with cheaper labor.

National Public Radio article on David: “A native who never knew the good times, yet never abandoned his hometown of Akron, Giffels plumbs the touchstones and idiosyncrasies of a region where industry has fallen, bowling is a legitimate profession, bizarre weather is the norm, rock ’n’ roll is desperate, thrift store culture thrives, and sports is heartbreak.

“Giffels’s linked essays are about coming of age in the Midwest and about the stubborn, optimistic, and resourceful people who prevail there.”

Giffels is an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron.

To read the NPR article, click on

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kathleen, our BJ lass in Ireland

Kathy Fraze on the burren in Ireland
Kathy Fraze, who retired from the BJ in 2012 after 39 years working in Old Blue, is enjoying a vacation in Ireland. The photo shows Kathy on the burren, an amazing Irish landscape.

Kathy’s grandmother, Ruth Kane, was a long-time Massillon Independent City Hall and police reporter. Her parents were a steelworker and a maternity ward nurse in Massillon.

The Bowling Green journalism graduate was on the State Desk run by the late Pat Englehart in the 1970s.

Kathy married fellow Bowling Green graduate and Canton native Bruce Larrick, a BJ reporter who died in 2007 after 20 years on the Philadelphia Inquirer national desk. They have a son, Bryan, who lives in New York City and illustrated Kathy’s books about police detective Jo Ferris which have “Final” in all their titles.

Kathy’s other books are based on “letters” from her dog to “Pops” -- Mike Needs, a former BJ assistant managing editor who is out West with the U.S. Forestry Service.

As for the Burren (Irish: Boireann, meaning "great rock"), it is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe,  about 150 square miles and is surrounded by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay on the west and north.

Three quarters of Ireland's species of flowers are in the Burren.

The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with criss-crossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The region supports arctic,  Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side. 

The limestones formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago.

The Burren is one of the finest examples of a glacio-karst landscape in the world. 

Kathy on Kilkee Island with her BJ friend