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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fringeville #145 - Fat Tuesday Horror

Scranton, PA

A local government office was briefly locked down Tuesday morning when workers called 911 to report possible shots fired.

"Several loud pops were heard, and what appeared to be bullet holes were seen on the walls," said a supervisor.

After a thorough investigation, gunshots were ruled out.

"It was Fat Tuesday," said a spokesman for Sheriff's office. "There was a huge spread of food in a conference room and apparently one idiot employee overindulged. Massively. He suffered button failure after eating a 16th slice of chicken wing pizza."

"His trouser button went first," said an injured employee. "It hit me in the forehead, then ricocheted and took out the coffee machine. Hey, I could have lost an eye."

Six shirt buttons broke loose next, sending staff scattering for cover.

The employee who experienced the wardrobe malfunction was immediately put on a diet. His name was withheld, but our photographer took a picture of the near-catatonic, calorie-gorged staffer shortly before he was whisked away to a rehab center.

Chicken Wing Pizza Overdose Victim Idiot

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Fringeville #143 - Missing Blog Post

Governor Wolf's office informed me that I had a missing blog post. Post #143 failed to post sometime last month. The governor wants it on the blog immediately so when he figures out how to tax blogs, all my posts will be in one handy place for the taxman.

Here, without further delay, is Fringeville #143

Meanwhile, during this time of deep personal introspection, some Jackson Browne.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Fringeville #144 - Avoca Terrorists Defeated by Traffic Circles

Avoca, Pennsylvania

A potentially catastrophic terrorist airport attack was thwarted yesterday in Avoca, Pennsylvania, when a series of mind-numbing traffic circles exasperated the ISIS terrorists.

The terrorists were taken into custody by local police when their black Ford Econoline van ran out of gas after 16 hours of running the traffic circle gauntlet in vain.

"It was very bad," mumbled an exhausted, handcuffed terrorist to this reporter. "We wanted to attack the airport. Achmed, he came off 81, and we hit first circle. We go  around and around. Then there was another. And another. Somehow we are back on 81 and Achmed had to turn around. We come off the ramp, and the infidel circles were waiting for us. Around. Around. Around. All day. Around. Around. Around. We get so dizzy. Then, no gas. Allah be praised, we are safely in custody and away from the three circles of hell."

Area residents were outraged.

"Those terrorist bastards," said Main Street, Avoca resident Amos Behaven. "All those friggin' explosives, and the circles are still standing. Dumbasses."

Attempts to reach the FBI agent assigned to the case failed, as he was still navigating the traffic circles in an apparently vain attempt to reach the crime scene.

Anti-terrorist traffic circles. Photo via WNEP.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fringeville #142 - Avian Horror in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania

Jackson Township, Pennsylvania


There is a 1 mile radius “dead zone” in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania where no birds have been seen in weeks. Birds that do enter the “dead zone” are soon found lifeless on the ground.

“We think it is global warming,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “The end is near, and it is starting in Jackson Township.”

In a rare break with the official line, however, Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack isn’t so sure.

“Something is frightening these birds to death. We’ve had a number of them autopsied and the cause of death was confirmed. A local veterinarian did the autopsies. He’s got really tiny little autopsy tables. It’s a painstaking process.”

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and FBI director James Comey both dismissed terrorism as the cause of the birdless “dead zone.”

“There’s a perfectly good nuclear reactor in Salem Township," said Carter. "Why would terrorists knock off a few birds when they can turn Northeastern Pennsylvania into a glowing, radiating hell for hundreds of years? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The President, according to Earnest, remains "deeply concerned" and is convinced climate change is responsible. "And he’s really pissed at the other guys for suggesting otherwise," said Earnest. "Tommy, Ashton, Jimmy: No Swiss Colony cheese trays for Christmas, boys.”

Deeply Concerned

Wikileaks obtained a highly-magnified US CIA satellite picture of the center of the dead zone. “It’s poor quality at that magnification, but we think it explains the avian horror going on in Jackson Township,” said an anonymous source in the Obama Administration.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fringeville #141 August 31, 2015

Great night for a Barletta BBQ in West Hazleton. Good food, great company. They even had chicken tenders with wing sauce.

I don't get out much but I am glad I got out for this one.

Lou did a great job reminding folks how important the local races are. Also on hand: State Reps. Tarah Toohil & Doyle Heffley, judicial candidate Emil Giordano, and others whose names I missed in the background noise.

A splendid time was had by all. (Sorry no pics yet. Mobile Blogger is failing to post them.)

** UPDATE **  As promised, some photos from the BBQ. I took more, but I suck as a photographer.

Lou Barletta

Dave Baloga chowing Down

Superior Court Candidate Emil Giordano, who has been everywhere this campaign season.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fringeville #140 August 26, 2015

Fall 2010: Campaigning with Abe Belles
I am doing something I don't do often. I am blogging while angry. I read a story in the Times Leader today about a 91 year-old man who may lose the house he's lived in for 67 years in a back-tax auction. As soon as I saw the picture of the man featured in the story, my heart sank. Then it broke. It was Abe Belles.

I met Abram Belles years ago when I was still with the 6th District Republican Committee. I took a liking to him immediately. We would see each other a couple of times a year at various political events, and I always enjoyed spending some time talking with him. You don't spend a few moments talking to Abe, you talk a while. And I did so joyfully whenever I saw him.

When I ran for State Representative in 2010, Abe contacted me with a bit of a wild idea. He'd made a sign and mounted it on a trailer. He wanted to pull it all around Plains. But what really excited him was that he'd rigged a patchwork speaker system and strapped it to the roof of his vehicle. We would ride through town with patriotic music blasting while pulling that sign in all its glory all across my town.

Who could say 'no' to that? I agreed, and we spent a Saturday afternoon entertaining folks. I've said more than once that my failed 2010 campaign was almost a religious experience because of the many wonderful things I experienced. This was one of the most cherished memories of that campaign. It's the first thing I thought of when I saw the article today.

And that's when the anger came. In 2010 I attended a meeting for Republican candidates for the State House. Someone in the group started asking questions about property tax reform. He was shut down with this answer:

"There are a bunch of plans for property tax reform. But they're not going anywhere until we Republicans control the Legislature and have the Governor's chair." And the conversation moved on to other matters.

Well, we did that. And here we are in 2015, and our elderly are still getting tossed out of their houses by crushing property taxes. And, pardon the language, that just plain pisses me off.

The current Governor, Tom Wolfe, calls education an investment that might cause some folks to lose homes. Clearly, it will be difficult if not impossible to make headway against someone who feels the investment should fall on some of us, whether we can afford it or not, instead of all of us.

I am angry. I am frustrated. But I am fortunate. I can still pay my property taxes. Our seniors, in many cases, can't. They are living on fixed incomes while their tax bills skyrocket. As a commenter noted at the Times Leader site, they are essentially paying rent to their school districts.

It's been said before: No tax should have the power to make you homeless. But it does, in Pennsylvania. And I don't see that ending any time soon.

A gofundme page to help Abe has been set up by John Daily, owner of Northeast Cleaning Service. If you can spare a few bucks, visit the donation page and help Abe.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Fringeville #139 August 24, 2015

Deju Vu All Over Again?

H. Ross Perot

Donald Trump

I know I am not the only one making comparisons between H. Ross Perot's failed 1992 Presidential Campaign and Donald Trump's current run. There are some surface similarities: both have extensive business experience and both fellows pretty much do and say what they damned well please. They don't mince words. (Perot famously and prophetically said folks should listen for the "giant sucking sound" of jobs heading to Mexico if NAFTA was ratified.) In general, folks like that kind of talk. I think people tune out when candidates for any office are doing 'candidate speak' (the fine art of giving long-winded, politically correct spiels that often make it hard to distinguish one candidate from another).

Both come off as men of action.

Indeed, in the case of Perot, there's historical proof he was willing to act on his own when necessary. When two of his employees were put in prison by the Iranian government in 1979 because of a contract squabble, he put together a team to rescue them and get them to safety. Those were very dangerous days in Iran. Revolution was imminent. But the mission succeeded, despite the risks.

Trump doesn't have an 'action' resume to match that feat, but he does get things done. His campaign website highlight's Trump's rescue of New York City's Veteran's Parade, which had deteriorated into an embarrassing, low turnout event until he supercharged it.

There are differences, as well. Perot ran as an independent. Trump (for now at least) is running as a Republican and still leading the field. He hasn't ruled out a run as in Independent, either. But they are markedly dissimilar on many issues, as detailed by a Talking Point Memo article (this is a left-leaning site, but I found this piece interesting).

The thing to keep in mind is just how early this is in the Election process. Perot was the leader in the Gallup poll in the early summer of 1992. But the election wasn't held in June, it was held in November. Over the summer, his campaign imploded spectacularly. When he dropped out of the campaign he displayed a remarkable case of paranoia, claiming he was quitting because the Bush campaign was going to sabotage his daughter's wedding. Folks, you can't make stuff like this up. He re-entered the race in October, but the fork was deeply embedded in him by then.

The Donald has an awful lot of highway ahead of him, and there are dangerous exits everywhere. I have no idea what his staying power will be. That will be largely up to him. Like Perot, he pulls support from everywhere in the voter landscape. It can vanish quickly, as those who witnessed the Perot debacle can testify.

For the record I am personally undecided right now, precisely because it is so early. I remember the lesson of the Perot campaign, when many people who didn't pay much attention to politics responded well to his message. When Perot quit then came back, many of those folks didn't give him another shot. I think it is because the Election process (gosh yes, I hate that term, but it is accurate) is a long, long marathon designed in part to weed out the squirrels. It is not a sprint, folks. The squirrels are there, an abundance of them on both sides of the aisle. Hopefully we end up with two strong choices for President.

As to Trump, I am a bit torn. He has managed to generate a lot of excitement. It reminds me of the early, heady days of the Perot campaign. I will be thankful for that if all the folks coming out of the woodwork will carry that excitement to the polls for the rest of their lives. But one of my frustrations as a GOP committee member in NEPA is the widespread voter apathy here. We've got 2 in 10 people voting in some places. The other eight, who have the ammunition to make wholesale changes in the regional and local political landscape, believe their votes don't matter.

Newsflash, folks: Eight will kick the snot out of Two, if the eight bother to show up for the fight.

If Trump self-destructs I am not optimistic that those with newly-awakened political spirit will stay in the game. I hope I am wrong.

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I continue to try to find a way to exist in a meaningful way while working two full time jobs. It ain't easy. It's still beating the crap out of me physically, but I am a testament to modern medical science: I am still on the curable list for prostate cancer and I rebounded from surgery last year so well that by the beginning of December I was able to start burning myself out with vigor on a second job. (Yes, this is being written somewhat, but not completely, tongue-in-cheek.)

What I really need is one job with great benefits that pays about 70k. I'd love to see my grandkids once in a while. Or even just get a good night's sleep. We on 3rd shift jobs crave a good night's sleep. So if you've got that kind of job available, I'll be sitting by the phone. (P.S. Perdue: I am worth ten times that 70k as a chicken-wing taster)

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Continuing in this vein, for the most part I am in great shape. My weight is staying down. My cholesterol is improving, and my PSA remains undetectable through 12 months post-surgery. (I've just had quarterly blood drawn again, but I am optimistic it will show the same undetectable PSA level when the results come back.)

The only really disturbing episode I've had recently was a fall on East Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. I tripped least I THINK I tripped ...on the sidewalk. I ended up halfway in the street. Some scrapes and bruises, but nothing broken (a minor miracle in itself, as I have OI). I was mostly embarrassed after I fell, because folks saw me hit the ground and I am not very graceful when falling face-first to the firmament. In the days since, it has been playing on my mind a bit. You see, I don't fall down. I am careful not to fall down. But when I tripped (or whatever it was I did) I was completely unable to recover my balance. It's almost as if I was already leaning forward when it happened, with no change to avoid the grip of gravity. Gravity may the weakest force in the Universe, but it kicked my ass last week.

I think that I subconsciously knew that I've become slightly less firm-on-my-feet. I'd mentioned to the wife on a couple of occasions that I was "due for a fall." Why the hell would I say that? What does my subconscious know that my conscious brain doesn't see? If my subconscious is that good, can it point me to the best chicken wings in NEPA?

But I digress.

And lastly, and totally unrelated to anything I've written here today, if I see one more Viagra commercial with scantily clad and gorgeous women talking about ED, I'm tossing a plate of wings at the TV. It aggravates the hell out of me. I have my reasons, but it's not what you think. And who the hell is ED anyway?

Alright, enough coffee. I'm rambling. Off to work. Damn the torpedoes. Fry the wings. Full sail ahead.

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