When failure means success

The Great American Smokeout at the community college wasn’t that great, student news reporters said. “We went, but there wasn’t much going on,” said the head of the TV news team sent to cover the event. “It was kind of a dud.” Actually, I told them, that may be a good thing. I added that I was not surprised. I recently asked one of my classes how many of them smoked. Not one hand went up. Five, certainly ten years ago, 80 to 90 percent of the students smoked. Not today. “Why?” I asked. “Is it the cost of cigarettes?”… Continue Reading

Rutabaga will test you

We’ve been invited out for Thanksgiving dinner this year so it looks like come Thursday afternoon I should have all ten fingers intact. That’s something I worry about when we are cooking at home and serving rutabaga, an Ackerman tradition. I was a full grown adult when I learned not only is rutabaga not on the Thanksgiving table in every home but also there are a whole lot of people who have never even heard of it. Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. It’s flavor bears that out. In our house,… Continue Reading

A little behind in raking my leaves

(I’m doing something today I have never done before. And that is using a past column as my Friday blog. I’m doing it for a couple of reasons. One is that last weekend I raked up about 17 bags of leaves and there are at least that many still on my trees. Another is that I just read the following from fall of 2015 and I don’t think I can write anything better on the topic. A third is that in this I share some of my fondest memories associated with raking leaves. If you keep reading, you will see… Continue Reading

A matter of confession

The sign on the door of the confessional at my church reads “Closed for repairs.” The irony is delicious. Isn’t this the place we go to get repaired? To tell our sins and emerge a new person? If anything, the sign should read “Open for repairs.” Seeing it conjured up another memory of irony that occurred, believe it or not, in the same church. Following mass one Sunday morning, a fellow I know told me he was opening a strip club. But he called it a “gentleman’s club.” Funny, I always thought of a gentleman as a person who would… Continue Reading

No compliment for you

Mary Kay was hankering for a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich. And maybe a chocolate frosty on the side. We had spent the day out in the yard, raking leaves, cutting back flowers that had given us such pleasure but had succumbed to an overnight frost, basically putting away summer and preparing for what’s to come. So a guilty pleasure was in order. I’m not above a frosty myself. We ordered at the drive-up and when we got to the window to pay and pick up our food, I could not help but notice the smile on the young man waiting… Continue Reading

Who knew? More than I expected

I looked forward to introducing Pat Stella at the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Annual Autumn Breakfast Meeting last Friday. Pat is president of the chamber board. I’ve always admired her. She’s chair of McDonald’s NEPA Co-op (yes, that McDonald’s) and first Vice President of the Ronald McDonald House Board. Of course, I planned to mention these things but I am not a fan of toastmasters who read a speaker’s full resume. I’d rather find something more interest end even surprising if possible. The internet is a big help. So I Googled Southern Illinois University, Pat’s alma mater, and there… Continue Reading

What would Liz Brogna say?

Good Morning America, or perhaps The Today Show, was on but I paid little attention, instead sipping coffee and reading on online article on my phone. But when I heard the name Kate Hudson, I immediately looked up. My wife, sleeping late or fiddling around upstairs, loves Kate Hudson and I considered calling to her or at least hitting the record button on the remote. She’s is pretty, that’s for sure, I thought as I recalled Mary Kay saying that from time to time. Her natural beauty was even more evident with the severely short haircut Kate Hudson is sporting… Continue Reading

Suffering for one’s art

I don’t know who created the Google cheeseburger emoji but I do know how he or she feels. Surely you’ve heard about it. It was on all the news programs. CNN even turned away from Trump’s tweets for a minute. Kevin Spacey sent the graphic artist a bagel basket. The big news? The cheese on the cheeseburger was (gasp) under, yes under, the beef patty not on top of it. I know. I didn’t sleep that night either. But unlike all those holier-than-thou burger purest anchoring the news or taking to the internet to show their disgust, I was sympathetic.… Continue Reading

Something else to wish for

Writing from Columbus, Ohio, Donnie Collins makes a great case in today’s Citizens Voice why we should not count Penn State out of the National Championship picture. Bless his heart. I thought I was the only optimist on the staff. Don’t get me wrong. I do hope he is right. And I must say on a day when I had no interest in watching Sports Center or reading the sports pages, he did provide a glimmer of hope. But as Saturday’s Penn State-Ohio State game concluded I could not help but think of a comment made on the Gameday telecast… Continue Reading

A toast to remember

About seven years ago during the fall semester at the college I taught two sections of Introduction to Mass Communications. One met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The other, Tuesday and Thursday. When I took roll on the first Tuesday, meeting those students for the first time, I looked at this young lady named Stephanie and said, “I have to tell you right now I might wind up calling you by the wrong name all semester. I met a girl in my class yesterday who looks a lot like you.” “You mean my twin sister,” she said. My first thought… Continue Reading