Thursday, March 31, 2016

Time flew at party; so did the flu

The BJ reunion that drew such a large crowd at Bricco’s Restaurant on Exchange Street at Main had an unexpected and unwanted result.

A suspiciously large number of participants wound up with the flu.

Thrity Umrigar, Barbara Galloway Mudrak, Phil White, Dave and Jane Scott, Lynne Sherwin and Marc, Tom Breckenridge and Eust all came down with the flu.

Barb said: "I lost all  but one of my days of spring break and I still don't feel too good."

One of the waitresses reportedly “looked very sick.”

It was akin to sending your child to kindergarten for the first time and every kid there comes down with an ailment that one of them has.

They had a great time at the party. But the aftermath was a bummer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Food stamps or military planes? Do the math

Food stamps cost taxpayers $69.8 billion a year.

Although the average monthly benefit is only $133.85, the number on food stamps has grown to 46.7 million in 2014.

That’s about triple the 17.2 million on food stamps in 2000.

The EA-18G Growler, a version of the F/A-18 fighter plane for the Navy, costs $102 million.

So buying about 70 fewer military planes each year would pay for the soaring food stamp costs. The military keeps the number of planes it has a secret, but my math tells me that buying 2 fewer planes in each category each year would pay for the food stamps.

Food for thought. Pun intended.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

GOP roadblock sets up liberal avalanche?

The Republicans’ determination to prevent confirmation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuitcould, ironically, bring more liberal decisions than in decades.


Well, 4-4 Supreme Court ties mean that the lower court ruling stands.

Since two-thirds of Americans live within the jurisdictions of liberal circuit courts, which are currently stacked with Democratic appointments, the Republicans may unwittingly have opened the door for more liberal decisions.

Even a Garland decision would be upheld by default with a 4-4 tie.
Ironic, huh?
Patty Duke dies

Patty Duke died today of a ruptured intestine.

The actress, whose real name was Anna Pearce, was 69.

She first became famous as a child star, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at age 16 for her role in “The Miracle Worker,” which she had originated on Broadway.

She was put through hell by her parents, who forced her onto the stage at a young age. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother clinically depressed.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Kim Hone-McMahan retiring from BJ

Kim Hone-McMahan
Kim Hone-McMahan, who replaced Jewell Cardwell as a BJ columnist in 2014, will retire from Ol’ Blue Walls on Tuesday, April 5.

The newsroom farewell will begin at 4 p.m. The celebration will begin in earnest at Barley’s in downtown Akron an hour or so later.

Kim was a staff writer for 26 years, but was a correspondent for nine years before that for the BJ, WHBC, a cable TV show and a little local newspaper at the same time.

As for her plans:

“I will travel wherever, whenever and with anyone.”

She adds:

“I have a book with illustrations that's ready to go and have tentative plans to become a court-appointed special adovocate for children.

“Immediate plans are to get the house ready to put on the market. We won't move out of the area because I still want to get my hands on the paper edition of the Beacon Journal :)

“We will either build (most of you know my hubby is a builder) or buy a house that needs some snazzy upgrading. Meanwhile - massive move sale in the works. We have so many treasurers just for you.”
Kim is married to Chris McMahan.
Jewell followed the late, legendary Frances Murphey as a columnist.

She has written children’s books, “Vampire Dreams” and “Hoover and Honeybunch (Find Comfort in a Sometimes Scary World),” which was an attempt to help children deal with TV reports about school shootings.

The Brooke McMahan Memorial Invitational Swim Meet at the Ocasek Natatorium at the University of Akron honors their daughter, a 1999 Green High grad, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 23.
Never mess with a nun

As everyone who has attended Catholic school knows, you never mess with a nun.

Mother Angelica
A TV station manager made that mistake. The nun was using his studio to produce programs. He ticked her off.

So the nun started a TV station in an Alabama monastery garage that grew into Eternal World Television Network in 1981 and today reaches 264 million households around the world.

The only woman to lead a television network for 20 years passed away on, appropriately, Easter Sunday.

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation was 92.

She hosted "Mother Angelica Live," leading religious discussions with TV viewers.

I repeat: Never mess with a nun. You're in over your head.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rupert, 5 friends control 90% of news

In 1983, 50 companies gave Americans their news.

Today, SIX corporations and the billionaires who control them provide 90% of the news, including Fox News’ “fair and balanced” drivel from Rupert Murdoch’s kingdom.

If this doesn’t scare the pants off you, then you don’t care about democracy.

The only thing that hasn’t escaped the clutches of the plutocracy is the social media, where the word gets out without being filtered by a few billionaires’ agendas.

Within minutes after something newsworthy happens, it’s all over social media.

The billionaires probably are working on a way to control Facebook and Twitter posts.

80 billionaires have as much wealth as half the people on Earth combined.

This can’t be good for democracy. Kings never had it so good.

And some people want to elect a trash-talking billionaire as the next President. So he can have his 6 friends join him in eviscerating what's left of the middle class.

Bob & Kaye on wedding day

Bob & Kaye today
45th anniversary for Bob Carpenter & wife

Kent State graduate and former WKNT news director Bob Carpenter and wife Kaye of Punta Gorda, Florida are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary today.
Writes Bob:
“How fortunate a traveler I am, to share this journey with Kaye all these years. We were married March 26, 1971 in Ravenna, Ohio in the Lutheran Church officiated by the Lutheran preacher, assisted by my brother Bill, a Catholic Dominican Priest who went by the name of Father Leonard of the Memphis Cathedral.
“Later, we were blessed with the birth of our son John who now lives in Los Angeles.
“We don't need a lot to be happy ... because we have each other.
“Love you Kaye!”
The Vietnam Air Force veteran and his wife have traveled the world extensively, and cruise often to this day.
Paula and I see Bob, who worked with Paula’s late husband, Jeff Tucker, as KSU broadcasting students at WKSU and Kent’s WKNT, and Kaye during our Florida winterizings.  

Bob & Kaye with Paula Tucker & John Olesky

Friday, March 25, 2016

Earl Hamner and the "Waltons" home

Final ‘Goodnight’ for Earl Hamner

Virginia writer Earl Hamner Jr., who created “The Waltons” and “Falcon Crest,” died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 92.

He also wrote 8 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” in the 1960s.

“Spencer’s Mountain,” Hamner’s childhood-inspired 1961 novel, was turned into a 1963 movie starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

His 1970 book “The Homecoming: A Novel About Spencer’s Mountain,” inspired by Christmas Eve 1933 when Hamner’s father was late in arriving home, was turned into “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” a two-hour CBS television movie that introduced the family, renamed the Waltons, to television viewers in 1971.

Its success led to the weekly hourlong TV series in 1972. “The Waltons” had Richard Thomas as John-Boy, the budding young writer modeled after Hamner, who did the voice-over introduction and postscript to each episode.

 “The Waltons,” which ran until 1981, won five Emmy Awards its first season, including one for outstanding drama series.

He also wrote the 1968 TV adaptation of “Heidi,” which infuriated football fans when NBC began airing the children’s classic by cutting off the final one minute and 15 seconds of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game in which the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final 75 seconds.

The eldest of eight red-haired children in a poor, Baptist family, Earl Henry Hamner Jr. was born July 10, 1923, in Schuyler, Va., a mining and milling village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hamner and wife Jane had two children, Scott and Caroline.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Garry Shandling
Garry Shandling dies

Comedian Garry Shandling, who parlayed his “Sanford and Son” screenwriting talents into three Emmys for his “Larry Sanders Show” on HBO, died Thursday. He was 66.

In its six seasons, "The Larry Sanders Show" won two Peabody Awards and was hailed by TV Guide as one of the 50 greatest shows of all time.

He launched “Garry Shandling” in 1985 with former "Saturday Night Live" writer Alan Zweibel.


Everyone exits Observer building forever

The Charlotte Observer has left the building.

Elvis wasn’t there to observe the wake, aka party thrown at 600 S. Tryon Street on Thursday.

The newspaper is moving out of the building it has lived in since 1970, on the spot where the newspaper has been published since 1927.

Hundreds of people filled the lobby -- Pulitzer winners, million dollar ad salespeople.

A few years ago the paper sold the building to its parent company’s pension fund, and the pension fund sold it to developers for a probable razing and modern building on the site.

They’re leaving because the staff needs only a fraction of the space. The Observer has shed employees by the hundreds like newspapers all over America, including the BJ.

BJ management considered moving out of the 44 E. Exchange Street building since it’s down to fewer than 60 in a newsroom that once held 250, but Black Press couldn’t find a buyer for the building.

So instead they paved Paradise and put in a parking lot where we once zipped up and down the parking deck every day.

And have two empty floors.

The day the BJ parking deck died and they put in a parking lot


Dawidziak recalls Ken Howard encounters

PD entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak, who with Dick Shippy were the best TV critics in BJ history, has warm memories of Ken Howard, the white basketball coach of an all-black team in “The White Shadow” TV series, who died Wednesday at the age of 71.

Ken Howard
Mark wrote:

So sorry to hear about the death of Ken Howard. Great, great guy. Got to know him a bit when he was working toward an MFA at Kent State University in the late '90s.

“Always cherished his work as Thomas Jefferson in ‘1776’ and in the title role of the landmark drama ‘The White Shadow.’

“But knowing he had played Mark Twain in an episode of ‘Bonanza’ (‘Hal Holbrook, it isn't,’ he told me), as well as the title role in a PBS adaptation of Mark Twain's ‘Pudd'nhead Wilson,’ I gave him a copy of my 1996 book ‘Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing.’

“Every time we met at a network press event after that, he mentioned how much the book meant to him. I later found out he cited it in his dissertation and his book ‘Act Natural.’

“He had many grand stories to tell, and we shared a few memories of Long Island childhoods.”

Howard was the current national president of SAG-AFTRA.

Howard also played Hank Hooper, the cable company CEO on the sitcom “30 Rock,” won a supporting actor Emmy Award in 2009 as the absent father Phelan Beale (the uncle of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) in the HBO telefilm “Grey Gardens,” lawyer Garrett Boydston on the ABC’s “Dynasty” and “The Colbys,” the retired police detective father of Jill Hennessy on “Crossing Jordan.”

He received a 1970 Tony Award as a phys-ed teacher at a Catholic boarding school for boys in “Child's Play.”

Survivors include his wife, retired stuntwoman Linda Fetters.

He earlier was married to actress Louise Sorel ("Days of Our Lives") and Margo Howard, the daughter of Eppie Lederer, who dispensed advice as the syndicated newspaper columnist Ann Landers. Both marriages ended in divorce.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Beginning of the end for the BJ as we knew it

This photo came on a black day in BJ history when more than 500 years of BJ experience (who knows how many years more before they got to Ol’ Blue Walls?) took buyouts and walked out the door.

Everyone is in black. No need to explain that.

The rapid demise of the BJ began in 2001.

Gone were sports columnist Tom Melody, chief artist Art Krummel, the copy desk’s Sandy Levenson, columnist Mickey Porter, Features Department editor Joan Rice, superb writer Bill Bierman, Reference Librarian Diane Lynch, copy editor George Davis, editorial board member Tim Hayes, Metro reporters Bill Canterbury, Bob Hoiles and Dennis McEaneney,

Mark Braykovich, reporter Barb Mudrak Galloway, columnist Steve Love, Jim Quinn, religion writer Laura Haferd and Terence Oliver.

In 2006 24 left with 335 years of service, including Bonnie Bolden, wife of today’s editor, Bruce Winges; clerk Barbara Albrecht, artist Dennis Balogh, reporters Gary Estwick and Mary Ethridge, columnist Diane Papparone Evans, copy editor Tim Good, reporter Andale Gross, copy editor Erin Hill, reporter Gloria Irwin, copy editors Jim Kavanagh, who went to CNN, and Jody Kraner, reporter Delano Massey, copy editor Kim Profant, reporter Tom Reed, photographers Robin Sallie and Lindsay Sample, food writer Jane Snow, reporter Kathy Spitz, reporter; Chiffon Staebler, copy editor  Debbie Stock Kiefer, editorial writer Sarah Vradenburg, reporter Judie Wallace and photographer Jocelyn Williams.

Newsroom managers laid off or took voluntary resignations besides Bonnie were Dave Wilson, David Hertz, Susan Kirkman, Michael Needs  and Debra Adams Simmons.

In 2008 there were 18 departures with 273 years of service, including city hall reporter Carl Chancellor, deputy Metro editor Keith McKnight, Metro editor Ann Sheldon Mezger, columnist David Giffels, cartoonist Chip Bok and classic music critic Elaine Guregian.

Since that horrible day in 2001, the BJ has lost more than 2,000 years of newspaper experience, most of it while at 44 E. Exchange Street.

I blame newspaper owners for not seeing the Internet for what it was, and not getting in on the ground floor with all the resources it had. Before they knew it, the Internet had savaged their classified income, which was 40% of their total income at some newspapers, and the machete to the personnel swung into action with horrendous results for democracy.

One of the stafffers in 2001 put it best:

“Will the survivors envy the dead?”

Others swept away the layoff avalanches in 15 years:

Design editor Mike Needs, deputy metro editor David Wilson and David Helmick, computer guy for the newsroom.

Artists Rick Steinhauer and Kathy Hagedorn.

It wasn’t unique to the BJ, of course.

600 were laid off in a single day at four Advance Publications newspapers in New Orleans and Alabama.

In 2012 Gannett offered buyouts for up to 665 newspaper workers.

In 2011 Booth Newspapers announced 543 layoffs.

In 2011 Gannett laid off 700.

Time Inc. cut 540 and 600 in successive years.

In 2009 McClatchy, stupid enough to buy the dying remnants of Knight-Ridder, laid off 1,600.

The Dallas Morning News, Providence Journal and Riverside Press-Enterprise laid off almost 1,000 in two layoffs.

Gannett eventually truncated 2,184 jobs.

EW Scripps cut 400 jobs.
In June 2008, 900 newspaper workers lost jobs in one week.

By 2009, more than 13,000 newspaper jobs were eliminated. And the dirge continues to this day.

Maybe I should list this under “obituaries.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fran Murphey's 50th anniversary celebration video at the BJ

Many of us have seen it, but it you want to see the video of Fran Murphey's 50th anniversary celebration at the BJ, click on

Indeed, one of a kind. 

Who probably is telling St. Peter: Well, you know.

Small party drew large crowd

John Backderf, Sheryl Harris
On the way to a gathering of friends a crowded BJ reunion broke out at Bricco’s.

Thrity Umrigar was just trying to round up a few friends. Like Topsy, it grew and grew.

And now there’s a BJ Alumni Facebook page with more than 200 members.

Jim Carney, Regina Brett, John Backderf

Russ Musarra, Thrity Umrigar
blame the party on Thrity,
who blames Obama

Monday, March 21, 2016

Indians opener to hit a high note

Retired BJ reporter has an extra reason to attend the Cleveland Indians’ April 4, not that he needs one.

His son, Patrick Carney, of the 7-Grammy-winning Black Keys band, will throw out the first pitch at 4:10 p.m. at Progressive Field. Before the Red Sox and Indians play ball.

Patrick and Dan Auerbach are Firestone High graduates who formed Black Keys in 2001.

Operatic singer William Clarence Marshall, who also calls northeast Ohio home, will sing the National Anthem.

Former Indians Bill Selby, Travis Hafner and Kenny Lofton will be to re-live great moments in Cleveland history:  Selby’s walk-off grand slam off Mariano Rivera in 2002, Hafner’s game-winning walk-off single during the American League Division Series “bug game” in 2007 against the Yankees and Lofton’s catch in centerfield to rob B.J Surhoff of a home run in 1996 and Lofton’s game-winning run in the team’s 12-run comeback against Seattle in 2001.

Sandy Bee Lynn & Glenn on Safari

Sandy & Glenn on safari instead of cruise this time 
BJ Reference Library retiree Sandy Bee Lynn and husband Glenn Lynn are on safari in South Africa.

They are on a train from Cape Town to Johannesburg before the one-two day safari.


After the BJ, Sandy worked at Orrville and Wadsworth public libraries and lives in Doylestown. Sandy and Glenn both perform with the New Horizons Band in Cuyahoga Falls.

Last year they put in 573 miles cavorting across northern U.S. and Canada.

Let’s hope the wild animals are kinder to Sandy than the drunk idiot who plowed into her car at 9:30 a.m. a few years back.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Barbara Galloway Mudrak with her Alliance High students

Birthday surprise for Barb Mudrak

Barbara Galloway Mudrak, who took the buyout in 2001 after 23 1/2 years at the BJ, was surprised by her Alliance High School 3rd period honors juniors for her birthday.

She wrote:

“Thank you for giving me the best birthday ever, complete with decorations, flowers, cookies (home-made, too), ice cream sundaes, hats, pin the tail on the donkey and a birthday sash. Love them all!”

o   Barb teaches English and Journalism at Alliance.
The Mount Union College graduate from Garfield Heights grew up in the home her parents built in 1948.

The rapid demise of the BJ began in 2001 when Barb and a ton of talented people walked out the door on the same day. Ol’ Blue Walls has never been the same and is down to fewer than 60 in the newsroom.

The alarming exodus was reported in this BJ Alums blog March 27, 2014 under the headline, “The Day the BJ Music Died.”

Barb also is the adviser for the Red and Blue Flyer at Alliance. She still lives on the farm in Columbiana County with husband Pete. They have two sons.

Barb's email address:  

Frank Sinatra Jr.  dies

Singer Frank Sinatra Jr. died Wednesday of cardiac arrest while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was 72.

His real name was Francis Wayne Sinatra — his father's full name is Francis Albert Sinatra — but went professionally by Frank Sinatra Jr.

Sinatra Jr. was the middle child of Sinatra and Nancy Barbato Sinatra, who was the elder Sinatra's first wife and the mother of all three of his children.

Sinatra Jr.'s older sister was Nancy Sinatra, who had a successful musical career of her own, and his younger sister was TV producer Tina Sinatra.

He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1943, just as his father's career was getting started, and he would watch his dad become one of the most famous singers of all time.

Sinatra Jr. got to see many other storied performers like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Count Basie.

"I saw all the top stars perform," Sinatra Jr. told the AP in 2002.

Sinatra Jr. followed his father into music as a teenager, eventually working for the senior Sinatra as his musical director and conductor.

The elder Sinatra died of a heart attack May 14, 1998, at 82.

When Sinatra Jr. was 19 in 1963, three men kidnapped him at gunpoint from a Lake Tahoe hotel. He was returned safely after two days when his family paid $240,000 for his release.

Barry Keenan, a high school friend of Nancy Sinatra, was arrested with the other two suspects, Johnny Irwin and Joe Amsler, and convicted of conspiracy and kidnapping.

Keenan masterminded the kidnapping, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to life plus 75 years in prison, but was declared legally insane at the time of the crime, had his sentence reduced and was paroled in 1968 after serving 4½ years.

Sinatra Jr. was married in 1998, but divorced in 2000. He is survived by a son, Michael.