Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From 'Cats' to Heat this week

I'm probably sounding like a broken record...

We attended "Cats" at the new Performing Arts Center at Kent State-Tuscarawas and came away overwhelmed.

To see Broadway-quality theater minutes from home, with the car parked only steps away for free, well, this was a treat.

I am fascinated by the logistics involved with moving a show like "Cats" from venue to venue. Perhaps most theater-goers didn't notice that there were four tractor-trailer rigs parked behind the center. It takes that kind of firepower to haul the sets and equipment from city to city

If you're curious where the "Cats" troupe has been and where it's going, check out the show's 2010-2011 itinerary here.

And don't forget to get tickets to an upcoming show at the PAC. Go to something. Anything.

* * *

I feel the need to finally acknowledge the work of Robyn Martins, whom I coaxed into doing some writing for The Times-Reporter a few years ago and who now is as much a face to the newspaper as anyone.

Robyn also is an accomplished musician and is a member of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic. She recently offered some thoughts on the Philharmonic's performance last Saturday night at the new PAC. You can access her blog here and I encourage readers of this blog to bookmark "Just Sayin'."

One benefit is the multi-talented Robyn occasionally offers her recipes. You're probably not going to find recipes on this blog.

* * *
I'm looking forward to watching LeBron James' return to Cleveland on Thursday. I pray that Cavaliers fans won't do something really stupid, although I do hope that LeBron really feels the heat. So to speak.

* * *
Here are this week's must reads:

Greater Cleveland getting older, smaller, poorer, Brent Larkin, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cleveland, don't turn LeBron into sympathetic victim, Gregg Doyel, CBSSports.com National Columnist

King James wants Spoelstra to bow to him, Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

And one from the Sports Illustrated vault (courtesy of my son, Chris, who doesn't want anyone to forget):

Higher Education, Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated (March 2001)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

They don't pay me enough

If this is Sunday, it must be time for Dick.

Farrell, that is.

Many of you have told me how much you miss reading my Sunday commentaries in the paper and for that I am humbled. I truly am.

But readership of this blog is about what it was a month ago. That means that those of you who are reading this blog are not telling your friends about it. Otherwise, I'd have ... I don't know ... 500 readers by now. Maybe 1,000. Maybe a million.

Instead, I'm averaging a little less than 200 page views per blog entry. Ahem. That is humbling, too.

For the record, dear readers, I DON'T GET PAID FOR THIS.

I tried to participate in the Google Ads program initially but they -- Google People -- got angry at me for some reason and won't let me play. And, no, I wasn't clicking on the Google Ads. That's a huge no-no with Google. Blog owners are not supposed to click on the Google Ads that appear on the site. That skews the results of the actual click-throughs. (Don't ask.)

Anyway, I woke up one day and Google had sent me an e-mail, telling me the gig was over. Heck, I never thought I was going to get any kind of a hefty payday with Google Ads. It's a lot like credit card reward programs that really pay off only if you're buying Gulfstream IV jets.

Did I tell you that I DON'T GET PAID FOR THIS?

I need your help. Tell your friends where they can find Dick. The easiest thing to do is to Google "dick farrell blog." (Remember the correct spelling of "Farrell." There's an "a" in there -- not an "e.")

OK, enough of that -- onto this week's offerings...

* * *
My wife and I were among the few hundred who attended the dedication Friday night of the Performing Arts Center at Kent State-Tuscarawas. Among those offering remarks were KSU President Lester Lefton, U.S. Rep. Zack Space and other elected officials and their representatives.

Dr. Gregg Andrews, dean of the campus, took on the project earlier this decade with the full support of the Board of Trustees of which I am a member. The board knew that if anyone could get this project done, it was Andrews. And he did it with the help of his very capable staff and with generous contributions from members of our community. The Performing Arts Center is a testament to the goodness of Tuscarawas County.

Photo by Greg Spitzer
The campus' new Steinway piano graces the stage of the Peforming Arts Center.

For Andrews, the construction project was anything but a walk in the park (especially when the flytower superstructure collapsed in March 2009) and there remains finishing work before the building is officially accepted. But it's safe to say that the mission has been accomplished.

This is a jewel among jewels, folks, and rivals any theater you've seen anywhere, including the glitzy ones in Las Vegas.

Opening weekend is coming up and a public open house is set for early December.

You can access the PAC's home page here and from there you can purchase tickets to any of the shows. There's not a bad seat in the house. Trust me.

* * *
Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen was among those offering remarks at the PAC dedication and slipped me an envelope containing an invitation to last week's two bridge dedications in his city. The envelope also contained two pieces of ribbon, marking the ceremonies (see photo below).

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness and now feel badly that I missed those events.

And clearly, Homrighausen is watching taxpayer dollars, or at least pennies. He saved 44 cents by hand-delivering the invitation to me, albeit a week late.

* * *
What in the name of God are the congressional Democrats thinking about?

Nancy Pelosi again?

Are they nuts?

I could expound on this issue, but what's the use? It's almost like they didn't pay attention to what happened on Nov. 2. I'm really tired of giving Democrats advice. Maybe after the holidays...

* * *

To be fair and balanced...

I wholeheartedly agree with Barbara Bush.

Sarah Palin ought to stay in Alaska.

* * *
In a recent post, I asked former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney to weigh in on the history of the new Dover interchange. He's communicated with this blogger before so I thought maybe he could shed some light on how the interchange came about.

Since then, I've found out that Ney is in India, studying and meditating with Dalai Lama devotees.

Actually I know that because former Copley Washington Bureau Chief George Condon wrote a story about Ney for the National Journal.

The Copley bureau serviced The Times-Reporter during the years of Copley Press ownership (read: Good Old Days). Condon is a journalist's journalist and has interviewed seven sitting presidents.

Ney, Condon reports, has lost weight, quit drinking and is in the process of reinventing himself. You can read the story here.

I'd like to add that, because Ney is studying with the Dalai Lama, well, he's got that going for him, too.

I couldn't resist.

* * *
This week's LeBron/Miami Heat link: Stories of LeBron and sportswriter intertwined, tangled

* * *
Have you heard about the 8-year-old Jets fan who was tackled by a drunken Cleveland Browns fan in the Muny parking lot last week?

You'll have background if you read this story on Bleacher Report.

I have questions.

-- If the incident happened as the kid's mother says, why wouldn't the family take up the Jets on their offer of an all-expense trip to a Jets home game? For an 8-year-old, wouldn't that be something to remember forever?

-- Why didn't the kid's father write the letter to the editor rather than the mother, who wasn't there? Could it be that the kid's father didn't want the mother to write the letter? From personal experience, I know that sometimes one parent will overreact when his/her child has been wronged (for whatever reason). It's human nature.

-- Callers to talk shows seem to confirm an incident, but don't agree that the kid was "tackled." How about this: Drunk has trouble walking. Drunk falls on kid. Kid falls down.

Sometimes, just because something has gone viral in the media, it doesn't mean that it's true.

I know.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

World has gotten way too complicated -- QE2?

In my first quarter of my first year in college, Economics 162 almost did me in. It was a required course of nearly every freshman -- a flunk-out course, if you will. And, boy, was it boring.

I'd like to say I could draw from that class in explaining to you QE2 which stands for "Son of Quantitative Easing" or something like that. But I can't.

In effect and as I understand it, Treasury Secretary Ben Bernanke said a couple of weeks ago he would print $600 billion and throw it at the economy in an effort to keep it all moving. Oh, it's not that simple, I know, and Bernanke never actually said he was firing up the printing press.

But I think that's what it means. You know, the bottom line.

Suffice it to say, that none of world's top tier economies -- known collectively as the G20 -- favor the U.S. QE2 move because it will fuel inflation, weaken the dollar and because it just might cause a global economic crisis. They're cool with whatever ideas they had to solve the world recession but are now taking aim at the U.S. for being, well, the U.S.

After reading pieces by a few economists, QE2 is the reason we're paying higher prices for gasoline and other commodities lately and why the stock market has ticked up over the last couple of weeks, although the market faltered somewhat in the latter part of last week. And QE2 could cause inflation, but maybe not. Depends who you listen to.

Until someone tells me otherwise, I'm not going to lose any sleep over QE2 even though the pundits at CNBC are all atwitter.

* * *
Congratulations to the Dover Tornadoes on their victory over Sheridan on Saturday. The Newark Advocate has a decent "gamer" on its website if you're looking for a story of some length on the game. You can access it here.

* * *
I exited I-77 via the new Dover interchange on Saturday and was quite pleased with the experience -- at least until I got stopped by the traffic lights on Schneider's Crossing Rd. By the time I got to N. Wooster Ave., it became unclear whether I actually saved time over if I had chosen the Strasburg or Dover-Sugarcreek exits. Entering the freeway from the new interchange was convenient.

By the way, I'd like to invite former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney to set the record straight on how the interchange came to be. There's been a lot of misinformation out there, including the infamous sign that touts the federal economic stimulus program.

* * *
My favorite LeBron/Miami Heat stories last week:

Can't Stand Heat? Avoid Miami -- Wall Street Journal

Heat folding under weight of season -- Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

Miami’s Big Three Stumble Along -- Lynn Zinser, New York Times

* * *
Amanda Wolfe, who cut her journalistic teeth as an intern for The Times-Reporter a few years ago, wrote a poignant story for this month's Ladies' Home Journal on her mother's battle with ovarian cancer.

Amanda is now a senior editor with the magazine and resides in New York City. Her mother, Janice Wolfe of Dover, died earlier this year and was well known throughout Tuscarawas County for her work as a physical therapist.

Janice used to call me regularly at The T-R to keep me updated on Amanda's career. My heart goes out to Amanda and her sister, Audrey, on the loss of their mother, who obviously loved them very much.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some pundits are right on the money

In the aftermath of the election, I believe by now that at least 16,784 pundits have weighed in with their take on the results. I haven't been able to read all their pieces, but I have consumed more than a couple.

I'm awarding the gold to star to Alan D. Mutter, who regularly writes about the state of the newspaper business. I have followed his blog for sometime.

Mutter singles out the press for failure to focus on the primary issue that seemed to be lost on the Obama administration -- the economy.

"In the thrall of the brainy and self-assured Obama," Mutter writes, "the press largely failed to ask the hard-edged questions that could have sharpened the president’s understanding of the terrifyingly deteriorating economy; sharpened his agenda by emphasizing jobs, jobs and more jobs, and sharpened his elbows for combat with the tough political customers whose singular – and brilliantly fulfilled – agenda was to make the president look like he was out of touch with the growing pain on Main Street.

"Instead, it was largely business as usual for the media, as journalists busied themselves immediately after the 2008 election with such inside-baseball matters as picking the winners and losers in the new Obama power structure. Once the president took office, the myopic press stuck to covering the inside-the-Beltway story of the day – health care, Afghanistan, Supreme Court picks – instead of zeroing in on the things that really mattered to all but the very wealthiest Americans."

* * *
In the wake of John Kasich's election as Ohio governor, it appears that school districts will be faced with cuts in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 percent, starting in the second half of 2011. And Kasich has promised that he won't be raising taxes anytime soon to make up for the projected $8 billion budget deficit.

He could, however, get cute with some of the fees Ohioans pay for various services. How about a $200 fishing license?

Just saying.

Anyway,  Kasich has put lobbyists on notice that they had better get on the bus or, if they don't, get run over by it. I think Kasich wants people to know that he means business. To his credit, he is trying to save a couple of thousand American Greetings Corp. jobs in Cleveland.

American Greetings has threatened to take the work elsewhere because of the tax burden in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn and presumably in Ohio.

I will happily applaud him if he is able to keep the jobs here.

* * *
In an earlier post, I said that as editor of The Times-Reporter, our endorsements of candidates or issues were not made on the basis of their probability of election or passage. In other words, we were not attempting to gauge the popularity of a particular candidate or issue.

We endorsed based on the merits of the candidates and the worth of the issues.

I stand by that statement.

There is evidence out there today -- and I mean Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 -- that some editors endorse or don't endorse based on projected election outcomes. I find that sad.

* * *
Greg Bedard, writing for the Boston Globe and its online site, boston.com, wrote this following the Browns' thumping of the New England Patriots (You can skip to No. 3):



1. The Patriots are still (sort of) tied for best record in NFL: They’re tied with the New York Jets at 6-2 in the AFC East, but the Jets won the first matchup between the two teams. Rematch is set for Dec. 6. Patriots are also tied for the best record win the NFL with the Ravens, Falcons, and possibly the Steelers, Colts and Chiefs (depending on their late or Monday night games).

2. Woodhead and Hernandez: We’ll have more on this in the next section, but they were the Patriots’ offense. Aaron Hernandez was targeted a team-high nine times and led with five catches, 48 yards and two touchdowns. Danny Woodhead had 54 yards on nine carries, and 38 yards on two receptions.

3. They left Cleveland. Always a positive.

Was that necessary? Why the cheap shot, Greg?

Why would you be so mean to an entire city and region of good, hardworking people who can't seem to catch a break lately, what with the recession, LeBron's talent long gone to South Beach and another lousy winter in the offing?

Well, the Browns kicked your Patriots' butt all over Cleveland Browns Stadium today, didn't they Greg?

So, we got that going for us.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Obama's fault

It's 10 p.m. on Election Night and it looks like the Democrats are taking a beating in Ohio, including Reps. Zack Space in the 18th House District and John Boccieri in the 16th.

As President Obama reflects on the election tonight, he perhaps should prepare an apology to his fellow Democrats tomorrow for the huge losses in offices on every level in every state. Cap and trade? Health care insurance overhaul? Reckless stimulus spending?

It was all about fixing the economy, Mr. President. It wasn't about overhauling every aspect of our lives, which apparently you wanted to do. Good Lord, I wanted you to succeed. And you blew it in two short years.

Space is going down to defeat (understatement) in his home county of Tuscarawas, which should be enough for challenger Bob Gibbs to claim the seat. Boccieri is being defeated by Jim Renacci in the mostly Stark County district.

Space and Bocierri are two good men who wanted to do right by their consitutents and by their country. But they got caught up in the machine that meets and greets rookie congressmen upon their arrival in Washington. And then they were lobbied hard by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even the president himself. Space's pushback on the health care issue didn't help him either. His "no" vote announcement came too late and voters smelled conspiracy. There wasn't one.

It was just too late. And he had already cast a "yes" vote on cap and trade -- a terrible, terrible idea, the people claimed. And no one countered.

And no one forgot.

* * *

10:16 p.m.

By my count, Ohio likely will have five Democrats in the the U.S. House of Representatives and 13 Republicans.


* * *
11:30 p.m.

OK, let's assume at this point, it's a Republican sweep in Ohio's statewide offices. Let's assume the Republicans control the U.S. House and that the current administration has been repudiated.

What's the message to Republicans?

I suspect they will believe that the American people want smaller government -- much smaller government. And that will mean massive job cuts in government. School districts will be among those feeling the brunt because the majority of people have no personal stake in the schools and won't fund them with property taxes. So, we'll have more school districts in financial trouble sooner rather than later. I'll bet on that.

We will take some steps backward here.

With future stimulus money in question, infrastructure construction probably will taper off and we will have to hope the private sector will add jobs with assurances from the Republicans that no new costs (taxes) will be imposed. Those question marks have to be removed if the private sector is going to add jobs.

Free trade? Fair trade? Who knows the answer to that? We have to be able to trade with China and India going forward. Too many consumers to ignore. But they continue to dump cheap products and services on us, costing American jobs. A dilemma for sure.

As for the health care legislation, look for the GOP to attempt to repeal some, if not all, of the aspects of the legislation that cost so many Democrats their offices. But allowing pre-exisiting conditions -- like genetic defects -- to affect an American's ability to be insured seems un-American to me.

Look for initiatives for "green" energy to more or less dry up in the short term. We'll be committed to fossil fuels in the near future.

Maybe this is the right way to go. Goodness, I hope so. We're in for further tough times here in America as we try to figure it out. As for President Obama, well, I think he will still shoulder blame in 2012. I don't expect him to win a second term as it stands now, but, of course, it depends on whether the Republicans can find another Ronald Reagan.

And for John Kasich? Chill, big guy. Don't let that temper affect your ability to lead. You worry me.

Good luck to all the winners. They'll need it.

Now, about the stock market...