Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mark Mark marches to Columbus on Wednesday
PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak will take his national tour to Columbus on Wednesday, July 1.
He’ll perform at the Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Avenue, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. That’s the historic former home of author, humorist and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber, who, to my knowledge, has not been impersonated by Dawidziak. Maybe that’s for another show someday.
Mark has been at this critic stuff for more than 35 years, including when I was his editor in the Features Department at Ol’ Blue Walls.
Mark looks like Mark Twain’s twin brother, or a reincarnation of Samuel Langhorne Clemens himself, and does a Twain show and writes a Twain book about every 30 days, or so it seems.
Dawidziak first became Twain at age 22. He’s a lot older than that now.
His latest book is “Mark Twain's Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness.” That’s his 12th book.
He squeezed a book about “Columbo” in there somewhere. My shining moment was when Peter Falk phoned and wanted to talk to Mark.
I explained that Mark wasn’t there, chatted a bit, and said, “One more thing . . . “ Falk laughed as if he had never heard anyone use Columbo’s famous line to him before. Hey, I take my brushes with fame where I can get them.
Mark came to the BJ from Tennessee and brought along his show-biz wife, Sara Showman, who often joins him in their performances at every library that will have them. They founded the Largely Literary Theatre Company in 2002.
When they need a Twain break, they break out in Edgar Allan Poe or Charles Dickens performances.
Dawidziak also has been the featured speaker at the Mark Twain Museum in Buffalo and the keynote speaker at the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read initiatives devoted to Twain.
And the other nationally known Twainer, actor Hal Holbrook, puts his arm around Dawidziak for frequent photo ops with a giant picture in the background beTwain them.
Dawidziak this month performed at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. He got a standing ovation. Either that or there was a stampede to get out the door.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Droning on about the new journalism

During my 43-year newspaper career drones referred to the privates who kept the newspapers humming while the generals huffed and puffed about the big picture.

Apparently drone has a new meaning, and not even one that President Obama has made us and ISIS familiar with.

Cathy Strong
Let 1970s State Desk reporter Cathy Robinson Strong, who’s been in New Zealand since the dinosaurs first died out, explain:

“Hey old journo friends, here is a little student production on the drone journalism course I'm teaching at Massey. When we were new journalists did we dream of having to use drone cameras .... or of having to produce slideshows like this one as part of our everyday work at newspapers, even community newspapers, as well as all other platforms?”

Cathy created the journalism masters degree program at Massey University in Wellington, which is within commuting distance of her beach home on the Kapiti Coast’s Te Horo Beach. 

Cathy taught journalism to the daughters of royal families in Dubai for three years before returning to New Zealand.

When she’s not teaching, Cathy snowboards down mountains, travels around the world and gets a ton of fun out of life.

If you go to her Facebook page, you can watch the video example of the drone Cathy refers to it. It’s not us at Ol’ Blue Walls. The world has changed.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Photo gallery of mass killers

CNN's web site has a photo array of mass killers in American history.

I suspect some nutcase is out there scheming to join this horrific Hall of Fame.

I’m not naming names, but if your curiosity gets the better of you, click on http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/us/gallery/mass-shooters/index.html

Mark Twain is alive and well and living in Ohio

Mark Twain has been reincarnated and kept his given name. Hell, if they were standing together I couldn’t tell them apart.
Ohio humorist Mark Dawidziak, PD and former BJ culture critic, wrote:

“Early this morning, I said to Becky, ‘Yes, my dear, it's your 19th birthday, and you know what that means.’

“Without missing a beat, she immediately said, ‘The 49th anniversary of 'Dark Shadows'?
"Right!,’ I shouted back. Tell me I didn't raise this child with the proper influences.

"Dark Shadows’ did, indeed, premiere on June 27, 1966, and Becky was, indeed, born on the 30th anniversary.”

Oh, mein Papa.
For those who didn’t get the joke, which Mark D. probably did, “O mein Papa” is a German song about a young woman remembering her clown father. If the roast fits . . . toss it on the barbie!
Also born on June 27:

Helen Keller, Ross Perot, King Louis XII, Ohio’s own Paul Laurence Dunbar, Willie Mosconi, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), fellow Pole Krzysztof Kieslowski and Tobey Maguire. Becky is in distinguished company.

But don’t tell her she shares a birthday with Khloe Kardashian.

That’s a photo of former BJ reporter Janis Froelich enjoying a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game in St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Stadium, which changes names more often than I change underwear. It began as the Florida Suncoast Dome and then switched to the ThunderDome before settling on Tropicana Park.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees in this year’s American League East division standings. The Cleveland Indians also in a neck-and-neck race, but with the Chicago White Sox for last place in the American League Central division.

The woman sitting next to Janice amid Boston Red Sox fans, no less, Michelle Bearden, explains the headgear:
“Ladies night at the Trop! Free Rays cowboy hats. With longtime buddy Janis Froelich, a true baseball fan! Let's crush those Red Sox!”

When you go to a game at the Trop, besides catching sunrays you also can feed and/or pet the 30 devil rays roaming in a 10,000-gallon tank, among the 10-largest in America. If you don’t count the swimming rays, the Trop capacity is 40,473.

When I walked into Ol’ Blue Walls for the first time in 1969, as a new State Desk hire courtesy of Ben Maidenburg’s generosity to a guy who had been fired at the Dayton Daily News for his union activities, I looked around (remember, this was in my male chaunist days; I’ve gotten better since) and thought: “Damn, that Janis Froelich and Joan Rice are the hottest babes in this newsroom!”
Joan and I later had desks next to each other in the Features Department before we both retired, me in 1996 to Cuyahoga Falls and later Tallmadge, and Joan to her Rootstown sanctuary with a retired cop, Larry Momchilov. Joan, Mark Dawidziak and Bob Dyer are probably my closest friends from my BJ days.

In 2010 Janis published "My Life Looking Back at a Murder. A Disparate Story About the 57th PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club," about her friend, Linda McClain, who was volunteering with Janis at the 57th PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in 1974.
Janis’ Kent State roommate at one time was Paula Slimak, a former PD reporter. Janis grew up in an 1853 farmhouse right off Hudson's downtown Main Street. She’s been married for almost two decades to St. Petersburg photographer Ray Bassett, owner of Maddock Photography. Well, he has a great live-in model (there’s that latent chauvinism creeping in again).

Nowadays, Janis writes, “I mostly babysit two granddaughters, Halle, 9, and Clare, 6. Larry Froelich, another BJ Alum, is my ex-husband and the proud grandfather of these two.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Linda & Jerome Jones
41 years?

You’re out

Of here!

Jerome Jones has retired after 41 years at the Beacon Journal.

He worked at Accounts Payable, Payroll and Finance Department/Manager of Mail Services.

His co-workers threw one party on Thursday for Jerome and wife Linda. But there will be another party in the JSK room at Ol’ Blue Walls at 3 p.m. Monday, June 29.
You can eat, chat and stare at John S. Knight’s typewriter. Some think his spirit still lives in it.
Fabulous owner; best I ever had in my 43-year newspaper career that included six stops.

Posted Cheryl Scott Sheinin: “You were a pleasure to work with and more of a pleasure to know.”
Kudos, Jerome! I retired from the BJ in 1996 and I can assure you that you will be having a blast for the next 41 years!
Patrick Macnee
Bowler hat “Avengers” star dies

British actor Patrick Macnee, John Steed the 1961-69 “The Avengers” TV spy series, died at his home in California's Rancho Mirage at the age of 93.

He’s the lucky dude who had Dame Diana Rigg as his right-hand woman. And, for variety, Honor Blackman and Linda Thorson, who said: "He was the best-dressed man on television and a nudist in real life." Jolly good fun, Patrick!

At the age of 11, he acted in Henry V opposite a young Sir Christopher Lee. He first appeared in the West End while still in his teens.

Macnee returned when that series was reprised as “The New Avengers” in the 1970s.

He also appeared in the 1985 James Bond film “A View to a Kill,” playing an ally of Roger Moore's Bond character.

Macnee had a top 10 hit in 1990, with “Kinky Boots” -- a novelty song recorded with Avengers co-star Honor Blackman.

He said of “The Avengers”: “It started really bad and then it really developed.”

He was married three times, including to actress Katherine Woodville, with whom he acted in “The Avengers.”  Macnee became a U.S. citizen in 1959.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Serial killer stalking Chillicothe?

Chillicothe, once the capital of Ohio, is becoming the latest serial killer capital of Ohio.

At least six, and maybe nine, women – nearly all prostitutes – have gone missing. Most of them were found in Chillicothe’s rivers.

In a little over a year, six Chillicothe women went missing. Four were found dead. Nearby homicides are being investigated for possible connections to the Chillicothe serial killer.

That’s a lot of dead and missing women for a town of 21,000.

Kenneth Buell,  ex-boyfriend of one of the victims and the father of their two children, said that Chillicothe “is not safe The last five, six, seven years it’s gone to hell. You can’t walk around by yourself, especially females.”

Plastic pink flamingo creator goes underground

Don Featherstone & his creation
Don Featherstone, who invented the plastic pink flamingo that lives on millions of American lawns, died Monday at the age of 79 with 59 plastic pink flamingos on his Fitchburg, Massachusetts lawn.

He was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, an annual satirical award honoring outré contributions, in 1996.

His creation -- Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus -- spawned director John Waters’s “Pink Flamingos,” the 1972 gallows comedy starring drag queen Divine and “Gnomeo & Juliet,” Disney’s 2011 animated feature with a pink-flamingo character, voiced by Jim Cummings, named Featherstone.

In 2009 the Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic pink flamingo the city’s official bird.

He was the author, with Tom Herzing, of a 1999 photographic book, “The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass.”

Featherstone was president of Union Products  until his 2000 retirement.

When Union Products ceased to exist, the Cado Company of Fitchburg took over manufacturing the American icon.

Cathy Strong (left), Pam Creedon

Reunions queen at it again

1970s State Desk reporter Cathy Strong is the queen of reunions.

She went 35 years in New Zealand without seeing anyone from her BJ days, the wham! In one week she had visits from retired BJ photographer Don Roese and wife Mary Ann and retired newsroom editor John Olesky (State Desk editor during Cathy’s stint at Ol’ Blue Walls) and former State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker.

Lately, Cathy returned to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirate, where she taught for three years, mostly to the daughters of Arab royalty. And who did she run into? Pam Creedon, her neighbor during her Mount Union days.

Cathy travels so much – she’s like a Tasmanian Devil of cartoon fame – that you’re more likely to see her somewhere out there in the world than in her New Zealand beach home near Wellington anyway.

There have been Cathy spottings in Japan, Kenya, Tonga, Washington (the nation’s capital and the state) and in a hot tub in Boston with another former BJ State Desk reporter, Pam McCarthy.

If you want to visit or phone Cathy, her New Zealand office number is  021 2172112. Don't be surprised if you get her VoiceMail. This is one busy babe! 

Cathy created the masters in journalism program at Massey University in Wellington.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Former BJ photographer is Paul Bunyan,  Chet Atkins, Justin Wilson and David Zabriskie rolled into one body since he retired from the BJ in 2001.

He took time off from barn-building (he’s done at least three of those) to take down a huge tree that had the temerity to lean toward his house on his farm near Salt Fort Lake in southeast Ohio.

Writes Tom: “Big cleanup Job.”


Tom also has been strumming a mean guitar for more than six decades at campfires around America.

There’s a bit of Willie Nelson in him, too, because he’s often on the road again. Tom and wife Kay have driven 3,000 miles along the Gulf Coast and up through Appalachia and another 10,000 miles, most of it in Alaska, by spending months in their truckbed camper.

For a change of pace, they cruise the Caribbean. Tom and retired BJ photographer Don Roese and their wives took a trip through the Panama Canal together not that many years ago.

And he’s quite familiar with bicycling through life with wife Kay Ann Shaffer Marvin of Coshocton. They live on a farm in Guernsey County, just north of Salt Fork State Park, near I-77 and north of Cambridge.

They met when Tom was transportation supervisor and Kay was a school secretary for the same school district.

Tom and Kay have seven children between them.

His are Steve Marvin, a bank assistant vice president who lives in Cambridge; Brian Marvin, who lives in Worthington and is a Reynoldsburg police detective; Misty Bellon, a registered nurse living in Eunice, Louisiana, who is married with a son, Nick; and Beth Marvin Stevens, a Los Angeles attorney, from Tom’s marriage to former BJ staffer and former Hoover High School English and journalism teacher Pam McCarthy, with a son, Jackson Marvin Stevens.

Kay’s children are Tim Wilson, an electric company forester in Florida; Debi Geese, who lives in Fresno, Ohio and is married with two children; and Brett Wilson, a contractor in Coshocton.

Tom and Kay have 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

This gives them a reason to travel to Louisiana, Florida, California and other parts of Ohio.

Their neighbor on an adjoining farm is Mark Kovack, who handled computers for the BJ.
Tom’s address is:
74321 Birch Rd
Kimbolton,Oh 43749

But I wouldn’t count on him being home, so you’d better phone (740) 498-7471 to make sure he’s not gallivanting somewhere or bulldozing another tree on the back 40.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The rest of the story

Mark Price, in his article about Duke Ellington performing in Akron in 1945 with saxophonist Johnny Hodges, trumpeter Ray Nance, cornetist Rex Stewart, trombonist Lawrence Brown, trombonist Sam Nanton and drummer Sonny Greer, identified Beacon Journal theater writer Betty French as the mother of movie director Jim
Jim Jarmusch

That fired up my curiosity.

It turns out that Jarmusch grew up in Cuyahoga Falls with an Irish/German mother and a Czech/German Goodrich businessman.

Mama dropped Jarmusch off at the local movie house for a double feature while she ran errands. That did it.

His “Stranger in Paradise” is credited with kick-starting American independent films. Johny Depp, Robert Mitchum and Bill Murray were in Jarmusch movies.

Betty French was succeeded as BJ theater critic by Beatrice Margaret Offineer, whose byline was a more dazzling sounding "Peggy Starr." She died at the age of 34.
 To read about movie director Jim Jarmusch, click on

To read Mark Price’s article on Duke Ellington’s visit to Akron, click on

PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak is part of a triumvirate discussing Rod Serling on Cosmoetica poet/entertainment critic Dan Schneider’s online show.

Emmy winning filmmaker Mark Olshaker and Anne Serling-Sutton, Rod’s daughter, joined the conversation.

Ohio’s Mark credited Serling and Mark Twain (naturally) for sucking him into being a writer.

Serling wrote the ground-breaking “Twilight Zone” TV series that scared the beejeebees out of you but the Jew from Syracuse also stirred your thinking about social issues.

It probably didn’t hurt that Serling was a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a bastion of liberalism where I’ve seen Shakespeare plays in the tiny outdoor amphitheatre.

The Twain/Serling double hook obviously worked well: “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Romance, Health and Happiness,” recently published, is Dawidziak’s 12th book.

To watch the video, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Pu-0l3y-oE

I've often been told that I'm all wet.

Well, for Father's Day, I could no longer deny it. My daughter Monnie Ann, her husband Bob and their son Raymond (my grandson, of course) treated me to a Father's Day weekend at Niagara Falls.

This photo was taken at Cave of the Winds, where Niagara's cascading waters douse you up to your knees and you have to make sure your flip-flops don't float down the river like a barrel.

We also rode the Maid of the Mist. Another chance to get drenched.

People pay for near-drowning, and love it!

I hope your Father's Day was as much fun and excitement. If you were with family, then I'm sure it was.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Harry Memmer, mailroom retiree, dies at 88

Beacon Journal mailing room retiree Harry Memmer passed away on Friday. As the obituary below notes, Harry and his wife, Charlotte, were avid motorcyclists. Their bike trip to Alaska in 1998 is partially chronicled on this Fairbanks website.

Harry Memmer

Harry A. Memmer Jr., 88, passed away peacefully at home with family at his side on June 19, 2015. Harry lived in Ellet his entire life and retired from the Akron Beacon Journal after 44 years. He was a veteran in Korea during World War II. Harry and Charlotte visited every state in the U.S. on their Goldwing motorcycles. Their highlight was their Alaskan trip. They were charter members of "Chapter T and Chapter P Goldwing Road Riders Club." They also enjoyed their time and friends at their cabin in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. They enjoyed many winters with their WBN friends in Key Largo, Florida. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting, working puzzles and cross stitching.

Harry is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Anna Memmer Sr; sister, Jean Lee; first wife, Mary (Higgins); sons, Rick Memmer and Roger Varner. He leaves behind his loving wife of 56 years, Charlotte (Varner); sons, Ron (Dee) Memmer, Bill (Terry) Memmer, Carl (Linda) Varner, Jim (Barbara) Memmer, and John Memmer; daughters, Lorna (Bill) Moore and Norma (John) Gay. He leaves behind 20 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great grandchild.

Calling hours will be held on Monday June 22 from 4-7pm with memorial service following at 7pm at Newcomer Funeral Home 131 N. Canton Rd. Akron, OH 44305. Pastor Fred Higgins officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given to Summa Hospice or a charity ofyour choice.