Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Hello. This is a pre-programmed post to inform you that d.b. echo is currently unable to post due to his being across town passing out candy to assorted children, teenagers, and adults. He will return with the 2008 tally sometime this weekend. (2007 tally: 178 served.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How much do the Repugs love America?

Courtesy of Adam Felber, here's a video by Rob Paravonian called "I Love America So Much."

(It's a satire, just so you know.)

(Edited to add:)

And also just so you know, I do not consider all Republicans to be "Repugnicants." Though the Theocon / Neocon crowd, the end-always-justifies-the-means gang, and the Limbaugh / O'Reilly / Savage / Hannity / Coulter dittoheads all very likely fall under the Repug category. But there is still a core of good-hearted, well-intentioned people who consider themselves Republicans who may find they have more in common with good-hearted, well-intentioned people of other political persuasions than with the extremists in their own party...and vice-versa. More on that, and the upcoming fracturing of the Republican party, in a future post.

Now, do you love America enough to cast a vote next Tuesday, to play a part in determining this nation's future?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Obama infomercial

John McCain disparagingly referred to Barack Obama's half-hour ad buy tonight as an "infomercial," but that's actually a pretty decent assessment of it. Well, the first 27 minutes of it, anyway.

Then for three minutes we got to hear Obama speak live before a cheering audience in Florida - three minutes of pure hope, and optimism, and inspiration.

And then the rebuttal thirty-second ad from the McCain camp, amounting to little more than a sneer.

(Available for the moment in a non-embeddable version on the splash page of .)

The contrasts couldn't be any starker.

Early Voting needed in Pennsylvania

Over the past few weeks of this election it's started to feel like Pennsylvania is the only state (well "commonwealth", technically) in the Union that doesn't have some sort of early voting. Oh, we have absentee ballots, but those can only be legally used if you are not going to be in your home voting district on Election Day. I used one once when I was going to be in Florida to see a shuttle launch around Election Day, and a friend of mine just sent her absentee ballot in, so she's already voted.

But lots of people in other states have already cast their votes in early voting. But why not Pennsylvania?

Election Day Scenario Plays Out In Mock Court - NPR's Morning Edition, October 21, 2008

Some legal experts wondered: What happens if the presidential election is contested and ends up before the Supreme Court again? Several academics and legal experts held a moot court hearing Monday to explore some of the issues that might be raised, and how they might be resolved in a less contentious way than they were in 2000.

The scenario: There's a severe Election Day snowstorm in Denver. The Democratic election director extends voting an extra two hours. The Republican secretary of state says that violates state law. The outcome of the presidential race rests on whether votes cast during the extended hours are counted.

You can listen to a report on the results of the Georgetown University Law School moot court hearing here.

Now, how is this relevant to early voting in Pennsylvania?

Well. Pennsylvania is a big state, with quite a few electoral votes. It's a swing state, as both liberal idealism and conservative attitudes are common throughout the electorate. Sometimes these attitudes and beliefs reside simultaneously in the same voters, while sometimes there are urban vs. rural and blue collar vs. white collar distinctions. Which way Pennsylvania will go is never certain until the last vote is counted. And there are a lot of voters spread out over a large area. And...

Some areas get first taste of winter
The Wiles-Barre Citizens' Voice
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:10 AM EDT

...Municipalities in higher elevations saw from 1 to 5 inches of snow in Luzerne County, and nearly a foot in some sections of Lackawanna County. Those in lower elevations, including Wilkes-Barre, dealt with cloudy skies and rain most of the day.

In Luzerne County, more than 9,500 PPL Electric customers were without power by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the majority in Bear Creek, Pittston, Fairview, Dennison and Hazle townships and West Hazleton.

In the Back Mountain area, around 600 UGI Utilities customers lost power in Dallas Township, mostly in the Kunkle and the Orange sections, according to Keith Adams, UGI spokesman....

October Snowstorm Closes Roads, Downs Power Lines

The first big snowstorm of the season in the Northeast shut down sections of major highways and left thousands of customers without power.

Authorities reported that a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in northeastern Pennsylvania was closed because of multiple tractor-trailer wrecks, and utilities said more than 25,000 customers in northeastern Pennsylvania lost power when the heavy, wet snow brought down trees and power lines.

Schools closed or delayed their opening in parts of Pennsylvania and New York State.

New York's Thruway Authority said Interstate 84 was closed for part of the morning at the New York-Pennsylvania state line in the Port Jervis area....
...if yesterday had been Election Day rather than the Tuesday before Election Day, the moot court scenario might very well have come to pass in Pennsylvania.

These articles don't mention the areas in the Poconos like Blakeslee that got seventeen inches of snow. How the hell do you get out to vote through seventeen inches of snow? And like everyone else in Luzerne County I will be voting on the ES&S iVotronic voting system, which, based on past experience, runs on electricity. If the power is out, will there be enough paper ballots to go around?

There is something magical and quaint about Election Day, the first Tuesday in November, so situated that people will have had a chance to attend All Saints' Day services, finish up their harvesting, and then make their trek by foot or horse or mule-cart to town where they can gather with their fellow white menfolk and cast their ballots.

But those considerations don't apply anymore.

It would be easy to become cynical and seek some dark conspiracy behind the plot to keep Pennsylvania in the early nineteenth century when it comes to casting our ballots. Yesterday's weather demonstrated that Pennsylvania voters can be disenfranchised by a lot more than human intervention, and that the ability of the electorate to get to the polling place on any given day is in no way guaranteed.

Early voting will help avoid the highways closed / power out / seventeen inches of snow on the ground scenario. Pennsylvania needs early voting. If it's good enough for thirty-four other states and the District of Columbia, why isn't it good enough for us?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Week, Muppets, and Deadly Sins

"One Week", Barenaked Ladies

One week to go until Election Day. For those of us who didn't get to vote early, that is! I'm so very envious of you early voters, I'm nearly wrathful!

I was going to do a post on that putz Grover Norquist. I keep seeing a political "issue" ad from his "Americans for Tax Reform" group, where he explains that regulations will be the death of America and the downfall of its economy.

Update, 11/5/08: Here it is:

Keep in mind that Grover Norquist has been a "shadow minister" in the Bush Administration, helping to guide the economic policies that have brought us This is the guy who wants to shrink the U.S. government to the size where he can "drown it in the bathtub" - remember that if you're ever planning a night out with your significant other, and good old Grover is the only babysitter available.

Anyway. I was gonna write this screed against this guy, but turns out there's so much about him out there already, anything I had to say would be redundant. If you're interested, it's easy enough to find all sorts of stuff about him online. Here's an old favorite, his Fresh Air interview from 2003:

Grover Norquist on Fresh Air from WHYY, October 2, 2003

So I'm not gonna do that.

Instead, thanks to this post on Dr. Isis's On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess... , I have become re-acquainted with a long-lost children's classic: Sesame Street Sings the Seven Deadly Sins.

Not seen in many years, this now-forgotten special (later released as a limited-edition Betamax video) veered off from the typically secularist bent of the Children's Television Workshop and presented children with characters singing songs about each of the Seven Deadly Sins, with gleeful introductions to each by none other than The Count himself. Shockingly, the songs presented the sins in a positive light.

Here, for example, is Grover (your Lovable Furry Pal, not the one previously mentioned) singing the praises of one of the sins in the song "Pride (Not in the Name of Love)":

Other songs in the collection:

  • Kermit may be green, but Bert musically is green with Envy! He sings "Somebody Else's Bottlecap Collection (Is Bigger Than Mine)."
  • Oscar can't be bothered to leave his garbage can to sing "I'll Get Up When I Feel Like It," about Sloth.
  • Cookie Monster, naturally, sings the praises of Gluttony in "Gimme Gimme Gimme All Da Cookies!"
  • Ernie reveals his true feelings about his roommate with an ode to Lust in "You're More Than Just a Buddy, More Than Just a Pal."
  • Elmo, the youngest and - even in his earliest days - the most successful Muppet, sings about Greed from atop a pile of merchandising revenue in "All the Money in the World (Isn't Enough for Elmo)."
  • Snuffy sings about Wrath, as we learn how Mr. Hooper really died in "I'll Show YOU Who's a Figment of Big Bird's Imagination."
In an early draft of the movie, this special was to have served as one of John Doe's inspirations in the thriller Se7en.

Monday, October 27, 2008

McCain can still win it

I don't watch Dancing With the Stars, not regularly, not intentionally. But back in September 2007 I caught Sabrina Bryan's debut on the show and I was blown away. Her footwork was simply astonishing, her moves remarkable, fast, and fluid, her timing impeccable and precise. (And her partner was no slouch, either.) The judges gave her a 26 (9-8-9) out of 30.

It was clear that she was on a course to win the season. Each week her performances (those that I made a point of watching) were exciting, dynamic, creative. The judges, despite some constructive criticism, loved her. And so did the voters.

When they bothered to vote.

From her Wikipedia entry:

On Week 4 of the show, they set another record by receiving a 30/30 from the judges for their paso doble, the earliest any contestant has ever received a perfect score in the show's history. Bryan led all contenders in judges' scoring in Weeks 1, 3, and 4. Bryan received her lowest score, a 25 for a foxtrot, during Week 6, in which she also performed a Rock n' Roll routine with the other contestants. That week, she was voted off; the announcement was met by shock and tears from the show's judges, contestants and live audience, since she and Ballas were favored by many to win the competition. An AOL poll voted their elimination "2007's most shocking TV moment." Her elimination served as a reminder to viewers that they had to vote for the stars and not assume that they'll get by on just talent.

This election isn't over, not by a long shot. Election Day isn't until next Tuesday, though it seems that most of the country will have voted before then, those that are going to vote at all. How many others will assume that the election results are a sure thing, a done deal, and not even bother to head out to cast their votes?

AOL had an excellent interactive Electoral Map on their site yesterday which I cannot locate today. With it I was able to come up with multiple scenarios where John McCain was able to tip some Obama-leaning states into the red and win the Presidential election by anything from a slim to a wide margin - even some scenarios where this could be accomplished, contrary to statements I made earlier, without Pennsylvania. Another version of an interactive Electoral Map can be found at - try out your own scenarios. Yesterday, on my second or third try, I accidentally came up with what has been called the "Nightmare Scenario" - a 269-269 split! Lord save the Union if that happens!

So. Remember the lesson of Sabrina Bryan. Your vote doesn't count if it isn't cast. Don't assume either candidate has won until this election is over. And if you haven't cast your vote before Election Day, make damned sure you cast it on Election Day!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Churches of Nanticoke, Part 4

For Part 1 of this tour, go here. For Part 2 of this tour, go here. For Part 3 of this tour, go here. For all parts of this tour, go here.

We now come to the final part of our tour of the Churches of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. While the other groups of churches have been clustered close to each other in certain parts of town, this last group is one that stretches all along Main Street, from close to the Nanticoke city limits on the East side to a point actually beyond the limits to the West.

Visitors entering or leaving Nanticoke along Main Street in the East will be familiar with a large tree that puts on a spectacular show of color each Autumn. While this tree is quite close to Janison's, the flower and garden shop, it is actually situated in front of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Located at 663 East Main Street, just off of Lawrence Street, this modest hall is one of the first buildings to greet visitors entering Nanticoke from the direction of Wilkes-Barre.

Farther West along Main Street, past the traffic light at Kosciuszko and Main, past the Mill Memorial Library and the Nanticoke Armory, lurks St. George's Episcopal Church at 408 East Main Street. This small building with a heavy wooden door set in* an archway topped by a stone engraved with the church's name has the appearance of a medieval chapel - appropriate, perhaps, for a church whose patron saint is a knight who, according to legend,slew a dragon!

Keeping with the Medieval theme is the First United Methodist Church, which resembles a large, yellow castle looming over the downtown at 267 East Main Street. Its yellow brick body and purple stone foundation closely resemble the materials used in the old Nanticoke High School, which used to be located at the bottom of Kosciuszko Street until it was torn down and replaced with a CVS.

Next door to the First United Methodist Church is the First Presbyterian Church of Nanticoke, at 229 East Main. Its rich red bricks and long flight of stone steps give it a simultaneous air of simplicity and majesty - though many a child's eye has doubtless recast this building as some sort of spooky haunted house!

Note the steeple of St. John's Lutheran Church visible in the background of this photo.

To reach the final church in Nanticoke proper we must continue West along Main Street past Nanticoke's other traffic light at the corner of Main and Market Streets, past the Old Post Office / current Senior Center (soon to be torn down to make way for a Culinary Arts annex for the local Community College) and Burger King, to 40 West Main Street and the Zion United Church of Christ. This small, simple structure is set back a bit in a residential area just off of the downtown, and is easily overlooked by passing drivers.

The final church in this series is actually located in Sheatown, which is a small satellite community technically a part of Nanticoke, though in practice thought of as its own entity. To get there we continue West along Main Street until we reach a fork in the road. Taking the right fork puts us on Old Newport Street. If we follow this to 135 Old Newport Street, across the street from Marty's Blue Room and just next to Guardian Elder Care, we come upon the tiny Holy Child Church, dwarfed by the nearby now-empty St. Stanislaus Orphanage.

I include this church not for the sake of completeness - there are actually still a few other churches on the outskirts of Nanticoke that I have not included here - but because this parish is currently facing consolidation with other Catholic parishes in Nanticoke. So while others may lament the loss of their neighborhood churches, parishioners used to walking to Holy Child will now have to drive several miles to attend weekly services.

This concludes our tour of the Churches of Nanticoke. At some point in the future I may go on another photo expedition to document all of the churches located on the outskirts of Nanticoke, including one on Middle Road, several in the Hanover Section, and one in a part of Nanticoke inexplicably located on the West Nanticoke side of the river. But for now, I close the book on this part of the story of my hometown.

Map showing the locations of the churches discussed
in this entry and previous entries in this series.

*Well, I thought there was a wooden door there. Turns out it's glass. I wonder how long that's been there?

Anne Pressly has died

From the New York Times:

TV Anchor in Arkansas Dies of Beating Wounds
Published: October 26, 2008

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A local television anchorwoman found savagely beaten in her home last week died of her wounds on Saturday night.

The death of the anchor, Anne Pressly, was announced by her parents through St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center. On Friday, it had been reported that Ms. Pressly was somewhat improved, although still in critical condition and unable to communicate verbally. Her doctors had described themselves as “guardedly optimistic” that she would recover.

“It was our hope, as was yours, that Anne would overcome the injuries inflicted upon her in the brutal attack at her home,” her parents, Patricia and George G. Cannady, said Saturday in the hospital’s news release. “We were with her in her last moments, and although our hearts are broken, we are at the same time comforted by our faith knowing that Anne is now with our heavenly father.”

Ms. Pressly, 26, was discovered by her mother, who went to her daughter’s home in the prosperous Pulaski Heights neighborhood when Ms. Pressly failed to answer a routine wakeup call. Ms. Pressly appeared on the “Daybreak” program on KATV, the ABC television affiliate here.

Mrs. Cannady had been visiting Little Rock from her home in Pawleys Island, S.C., when the attack occurred.

The police said Ms. Pressly sustained trauma to her face, head and neck during what they believe was a robbery in her home. Detectives have said they have no evidence that Ms. Pressly had been singled out or stalked. A credit card belonging to Ms. Pressly was used at a service station several miles from her residence shortly after Mrs. Cannady discovered her daughter, the police said.

Ms. Pressly was a native of Greenville, S.C., and a political science graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis. She had been employed by the station since 2004 after serving several technical and editorial internships there.

Ms. Pressly appears in an uncredited role in the Oliver Stone film “W,” based on the presidency of George W. Bush. Mr. Stone awarded her a 30-second part when he reportedly noticed her physical resemblance to the conservative commentator Ann Coulter when Ms. Pressly visited the set of the film, in nearby Shreveport, La., to prepare a feature story on the production.

It is difficult to fight the impulse to jump to the conclusion that the brutal attack on Anne Pressly was a hate crime directed against a woman who had the audacity not only to be a member of what McCain-Palin has relentlessly demonized as the "liberal media elite" but to have portrayed Right-Wing commentator Ann Coulter in a cameo role in Oliver Stone's "W". But the investigation continues, and nothing is known for certain yet.

Please turn down the hate. We have seen time and time again how hate turns to violence. When you continuously demonize and dehumanize those who oppose you, especially when this is done by persons of national prominence with a wide and eagerly receptive audience, it becomes too easy for mentally ill individuals to hear this as a call to action. If it turns out that this was in fact the motive that led to this crime, its guilt will be shared by many people.

Turn down the hate.

UPDATE, 11/27/08:
Arkansas man charged in anchorwoman's slaying

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A man has been charged with capital murder in the beating death of a popular television anchorwoman, police said on Thursday.

Officers arrested Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, at a home in Little Rock on Wednesday night — tipped to his location after police held a late-evening news conference to reveal him as their suspect. "We went there and he's in custody," said Lt. Terry Hastings, a police spokesman.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Churches of Nanticoke, Part 3

For Part 1 of this tour, go here. For Part 2 of this tour, go here. For all parts of this tour, go here.

Next on our tour of the Churches of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania we come to a cluster of churches located in the narrow lanes just off of Main Street, four on Prospect Street and two others near the intersection of Walnut and State Streets.

The first building we come to as we move North from the vicinity of Patriot Square is a small, humble place that does not look much like a church. In fact, it was the Nanticoke Library in the decades before the Mill Memorial Library was built on the corner of Kosciuszko and Main. Located at 112 South Prospect Street, the Nanticoke Christian Fellowship serves as a place of gathering for the local Mennonite population.

Continuing North along Prospect Street we come to the Holy Name of Jesus Polish National Catholic Church, located at 98 South Prospect Street. The church's name is almost as big as the building itself!

(Fasinating note: the Polish National Catholic Church was actually initiated in the United States by a priest from Nanticoke, Rev. Francis Hodur of Holy Trinity, in 1897! This tidbit is from this website, which I found by backtracking on a SiteMeter search.)

Slightly farther North and across the street to the corner of Prospect and State Streets is the Nebo Baptist Church, one of two Baptist churches in this neighborhood. The back portion of this building, which is located at 75 South Prospect Street, was once Nanticoke's only Synagogue many years ago.

Moving back across the street we come to another Baptist church. The First English Baptist Church is located at 58 South Prospect Street.

As the map below shows, these four churches form a fairly tight cluster on Prospect Street. But there are still two more churches to see in the neighborhood.

At 120 South Walnut Street, the corner of State and Walnut Streets, we find a long, unadorned building whose only indication that it is a religious structure - aside from the small sign on the foundation indicating that it is the meeting place of the Tree of Life Christian Fellowship - are the stained glass windows set into the front and sides of the building.

Looking even further East along State Street we see a steeple rising up over a residential neighborhood. Moving closer we discover St. John's Lutheran Church, located at 231 State Street. This is actually one of two churches with very similar names - the other is St. John's Slovak Lutheran Church, located on Hanover Street near Holy Trinity Church.

This concludes the third part of our tour of the Churches of Nanticoke. In the fourth and (for now) final part of our tour we will look at the six churches located along Main Street, stretching from very close to the city limits in the East to a lone Catholic parish located beyond the city limits to the West - but one still considered very much one of the Churches of Nanticoke.

Here is a map showing the locations of the various
churches visited on this part of the tour.

Here is a larger map of the City of Nanticoke,
placing each of these first three groups in context.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sideshow Gathering 2008, October 31 through November 2

The reviews are in!Another Monkey: The Sideshow Gathering 2008, Part 1
Another Monkey: The Sideshow Gathering 2008, Part 2

If you've ever wanted to experience the fun and excitement of running away and joining the circus but haven't been interested in the "running away" and "joining" parts, the Sideshow Gathering is just the thing for you! An annual tradition in Wilkes-Barre for fifteen years, the Inkin' the Valley Tattoo Convention and Sideshow Gathering attracts sideshow performers (like Dr. Wilson of Memory Elixir fame, in the top hat, and Zamora the Torture King, with the skewer through his mouth) from across the country and around the world!

One low price gets you in the door to see the greatest collection of freaks and human oddities ever to appear at a convention. And those are just the people attending! Seriously: you may have a hard time distinguishing the visitors from the sideshow folk. It's definitely a show worth visiting. The memories of your time there will stick with you throughout the year!

Location: The Woodlands, 1073 Route 315, Wilkes-Barre PA (directions and maps)

SideShow Gathering 08
Show Schedule
(from the official site)

Thursday October 30th
7:00 p.m. Pre-Convention Awards
12:00 a.m. Midnight SideShow Auction

Friday October 31st
3:00 Convention Opens!
5:00 – 9:30 SideShow Entertainment
9:30– 10:00 Intermission
10:00 - 11:00 SideShow Entertainment
11:00 Convention Floor Closes

Saturday Nov 1st
12:00 Convention Floor Re-Opens
3:00 – 6:00 SideShow Entertainment
6:00 – 9:00 Intermission and Autographs
9:00 – 10:00 Contest Awards and Fashion Show
10:00-11:00 SideShow Entertainment
11:00 Convention Floor Closes

Sunday Nov 2nd12:00 Convention Floor Re-Opens
2:00 – 5:00 SideShow entertainment
7:00 Convention Floor Closes

Links from

Attractions at Sideshow Gathering 2008 will include:
The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow featuring Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill
Washington DC’s
Swami Yomahmi and The Cheeky Monkey Sideshow
Natasha Veruschka, Queen of Swords
Philadelphia’s Olde City Sideshow
Dr. Wilson’s Memory Elixir
The Crispy Family Carnival
Knotty Bits Sideshow
The Magic of Steve Hyde and Melanie
and consummate master of ceremonies Aye Jaye.

Vendors will also be on hand to display unusual items such as freakshow memorabilia, rare books, and original artwork.

Come one, come all! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

See you there!

UPDATE, 10/26/08: Official press release for the Sideshow Gathering!




AT ...




Wilkes-Barre PA -- Step right up! Over Halloween weekend, this corner of northeastern Pennsylvania will once again become the world's center of weirdness when the 15th Annual Inkin' The Valley tattoo convention and Sideshow Gathering 2008 roll into town. From October 31st through November 2nd, the strange and unusual take center stage when showmen and genuine sideshow freaks from across the country descend on Wilkes-Barre to celebrate and display the giddy thrills and tantalizing mysteries of the circus and carnival sideshow. Over the weekend, these carnies will swap lies, swallow swords, eat razor blades, walk on broken glass, and otherwise risk bodily harm for the sake of entertainment. If you are looking for something unsettlingly unique to do this Halloween, Sideshow Gathering 2008 should be at the top of your list!

Attractions at Sideshow Gathering 2008 will include: The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow, featuring Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill; Washington DC's Swami Yomahmi and The Cheeky Monkey Sideshow; Natasha Veruschka, Queen of Swords; Philadelphia's Olde City Sideshow; Dr.Wilson's Memory Elixir; The Crispy Family Carnival; Knotty Bits Sideshow; The Magic of Steve Hyde and Melanie; and consummate master of ceremonies Aye Jaye. Vendors will also be on hand to display unusual items such as freakshow memorabilia, rare books, and original artwork.

Concurrent with the 15th Annual Inkin' the Valley tattoo convention at Wilkes-Barre's The Woodlands Inn & Resort, Sideshow Gathering 2008 begins at 3:00 P.M. on Friday, October 31st, with live sideshow performances starting at 5:00 P.M. and continuing until midnight. Performances will resume from 3:00 to 6:00 P.M. and 10:00 P.M. to midnight on Saturday, followed by a special auction of rare and unusual circus, carnival and sideshow items. On Sunday, there will be encore performances from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. Tickets for the entire weekend of events are only $15 per person and provide entry to both the Sideshow Gathering and Inkin' the Valley. On Halloween night, those arriving in costume will receive $5 off admission! For more information, please visit
"The Side Show Gathering is an unforgettable three day vacation with some of the world's wildest, weirdest, wackiest and most wonderful performing human oddities. I hope to meet you there!" - Walt Hudson in Circus Report
Generations of Americans once stood in line on their local fairgrounds to stare at human freaks and strange feats under a canvas tent. Every big circus had a sideshow full of odd attractions, and dime museums flourished in every city. The golden days of the sideshow are long gone, but for this dedicated group of fans and performers the tradition is still very much alive.

The most vocal supporter of the Sideshow Gathering is the event's long-time master of ceremonies and self-described Carny Trash, Aye Jaye. "HURRY, HURRY, STEP RIGHT UP," shouts the author of The Golden Rule of Schmoozing. "Why wouldn't you step right up? I mean really? Why wouldn't you want to get a behind the scenes look at how the guy is putting a meat skewer through one cheek and out the other, or meet someone who eats a 150-watt light bulb before your eyes?" Aye Jaye, who for more than thirty years portrayed the role of one of the original Ronald McDonalds, drives home the point by explaining, "You are getting an invitation to gather a couple of your cool friends to take them behind the canvas for the most memorable outing you will ever have!"

The Sideshow Gathering is a treat for the audience, but for performers it is also an opportunity to connect with fellow talent. Danny Borneo of the Olde City Sideshow says, "The Sideshow Gathering is the one opportunity each year to see some of the top acts in the business all under one roof. For us it's an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some amazing new ones. It truly is a one of a kind experience." Stephon Walker, whose alter-ego Swami Yomahmi will be appearing at the Sideshow Gathering with The Cheeky Monkey Sideshow says, "From the old pros to the new up-and-comers, the Gathering, well, gathers the most incredible group of carnies, natural wonders, working acts, historians and enthusiasts that you could ever hope to meet in one place. It's all real. It's all alive. And it's all at the Sideshow Gathering."

When asked what makes the Sideshow Gathering different from any other convention, Kathleen Kotcher (editor of the journal James Taylor's Shocked & Amazed! On and Off the Midway) said, "It is Christmas, your birthday and your first kiss all rolled up into one great weekend! The Sideshow Gathering is the greatest gathering of freaks (and the folks who love them) in the history of entertainment. If you're a fan of the odd, bizarre and unusual – or if you just plain love a good time – the Sideshow Gathering is the place to be!"

Franco Kossa, founder and organizer of the event, feels that the Sideshow Gathering is vital to keeping the tradition alive. "This is a tough business, and the sideshow world is a tight-knit community. The Gathering gives these folks a place to get together, cut up jackpots, show off a bit, and refresh their spirits. As they say in the business, it's a hard way to make an easy living!"

For more about Sideshow Gathering 2008, including event schedules and ticket information, please visit the official website:

Inkin' the Valley and Sideshow Gathering 2008 are sponsored by Marc's Tattooing and Body Piercing, Electric City Harley-Davidson, The Weekender, Holiday Inn, Joe Nardone's Gallery of Sound, and Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Defining your terms

The blogosphere moves too fast. A while ago something caught my eye, a statement that was being excerpted for purposes of snark. It was talking about how all the polls are wrong because pollsters are

Never mind. I found it:

...As I wrote then, it needs noting that all of the major polling organizations are based in locations where liberals are strongest and conservatives weakest, where 'democrat' and 'republican' take on meanings wildly different from the rest of the country. The people making the executive decisions at these polls, most likely including the wording and order of polling questions, whether to focus on urban or suburban areas, the weighting of political affiliation, and the definition of 'likely voter', are most likely in regular contact and association with the most liberal factions of politics. It does not mean that they have deliberately skewed their decisions to support Obama, but it is obvious that there is an apparent conflict of interest in their process modality.
(From Gallup and New Coke on wizbangblog, excerpted here as "Why McCain Will Win.")

I am particularly struck by the statement about places where terms "take on meanings wildly different from the rest of the country." How does the writer define "the rest of the country"? I have no idea. Keep this map in mind when you think about that distinction:

This is the population cartogram version of Robert Vanderbei's "purple map" for the election results of 2004, where area is proportional to population (on a county-by-county basis) and color is based on voting proportion (Red = Bush, Blue = Kerry.) This shows the actual distribution of the 2004 popular vote, with number of voters represented by area and candidate preference represented by color.

Now tell me: which part is "the rest of the country?"

But I agree: political terms, like many terms, mean completely different things to different people, sometimes because they come from different parts of the country, sometimes just because of individual differences. I found this out when I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post that parodied stereotypical views of "liberals" and "conservatives" that drew reactions ranging from icy to vitriolic. (All I really wanted to do was post a picture of my lunch, and I decided that this would provide an amusing framework.)

So it's important to define our terms, for everybody to define the terms that they're using. Not so we're all working from the same definitions; that's way too much to ask. But so we at least establish a basis for communication between individuals.

I'll start. Remember, these are the definitions that I carry in my head, based on my prejudices and perceptions. I realize these probably do not conform to the definitions that you carry in your head, nor necessarily to any sort of objective reality. I present these not to invite attack, but to invite you to lay your cards on the table and define what these and/or similar terms mean to you:

Democrat: In this area the Democratic Party has been the party of the working people. The miners, the factory workers, the union laborers. Generally this is where people with lower economic status have been drawn, and the Catholic population as well, which tends to fall into the categories listed above. This is the population from which Hillary Clinton received so much support.

Republican: Generally the party of the wealthier, better-off members of society. More concerned with preserving personal wealth and the status quo than with the common good. Traditionally this was the party of the bosses, the mine owners, and businessmen, as well as Protestants, who fell into many of the above categories. In recent years, the perceived focus of the Republican party has been shifting towards anti-illegal immigrant policies, but has done so to an extent through an appeal to xenophobia.

The reality has shifted rather a lot in recent decades, and locally Republican and Democratic politicians are hard to distinguish from each other by their actions, but the old definitions tend to dominate the local way of thinking.

Liberal: One who values personal freedom over the need for the restrictions of a tightly regimented society. Chafes at those who seek to restrict personal freedom on the basis of little more than ideology. Tends to be politically Democratic or Independent. Tends towards Idealism and Egalitarianism.

Conservative: One who seeks to preserve the status quo, to keep what they've got at all costs, and values this goal above everything else. Little concerned with the common good, particularly when aiding others might result in a personal loss - the "I've got mine" attitude. Societal control is both a means to an end and an end in itself. Contemptuous of those in worse economic states. Tends to subscribe to a more Calvinistic worldview. Compare to Republican, above.

Joe Sixpack: A term I first encountered a decade or so ago in a criticism of a proposal to send a rover to the Moon which could then be steered by members of the general public in an effort to stimulate public interest in space exploration. The image for me is not of an "everyman", but of someone really dislikable: lazy, borderline alcoholic, sits at home all day drinking and watching TV, maybe on voluntary layoff or collecting workman's comp from a fake back injury, sends the kids out to the store for a pack of smokes when he runs out, smacks the wife around if dinner's not on time. Is this the image politicians are trying to evoke? Probably not. Is this image based on real people? Definitely yes. No one of them possesses all those traits, but I do know - or know of - people who possess each of them. Joe Sixpack is not the everyman representing this area. I hope he really doesn't represent any area.

So those are the definitions I carry in my head when I hear these political terms and catchphrases. What about you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Bishop is not the Church

Bishop Martino of the Diocese of Scranton arrived in the middle of a panel discussion on faith issues and the Presidential election in Honesdale on Tuesday - and effectively shut it down.

Scranton bishop tells forum his letter is ‘only relevant document’ for diocese

Local and national Catholics reacted Tuesday to statements by Bishop Joseph F. Martino apparently discounting teachings of the national body of bishops during a political forum at a Honesdale Roman Catholic Church this weekend.


...Martino arrived unannounced in the midst of a panel discussion on faith issues and the presidential campaign at St. John’s Catholic Church on Sunday. According to people who attended the event, the bishop chastised the group for holding the forum and particularly took issue with the discussion and distribution of excerpts from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ position on voting issues. The document defines abortion and euthanasia, as well as racism, torture and genocide, as among the most important issues for Catholic voters to consider. “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,” he was quoted as saying in the Wayne County Independent, a Honesdale-based newspaper. “The USCCB doesn’t speak for me.”

... “The only relevant document … is my letter,” he said at the forum, according to the Independent. “There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.”

To read the full article in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice, go here.

Essentially, Bishop Martino has let local Catholics know that discussion of issues is not necessary and will not be tolerated, since he has reduced Catholicism in the Scranton Diocese to two simple words: Obey ME.

I've been a Catholic all my life. I've been a Catholic under Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI. I've been in the Scranton Diocese under Bishop McCormick, Bishop O'Connor, Bishop Timlin, and now Bishop Martino.

This current bishop is just another caretaker entrusted with the pastoral guidance of the the Catholics of the Diocese. But he is not the Church. He is a Bishop, but he is also a man, fallible and imperfect. He is doing nothing - he has done nothing - to slow the exodus of Catholics from the Church. Indeed, his arrogance and belligerence are major factors in many Catholics choosing to leave the Church - or at the very least, to withhold financial support from the Diocese.

Many of the Catholics who remain active in the Diocese of Scranton do so in spite of Bishop Martino, not because of him. They know that their faith, their religion, their Church, is much bigger than a single man. The Bishop is not the Church. And after he is gone, these things will remain - and if their faith and their will is strong enough to make it through this test, so will a few members of the Diocese.

At this point Bishop Martino's efforts are bordering on voter intimidation. Whether or not they actually cross that border will depend on the interpretation of the law by legal professionals. But things may become clearer after the detailed results of the November 4th election become available.

The Diocese of Scranton consists of these eleven counties, according to a map from the Diocesan website:
According to Robert Vanderbei's "Purple Map" of voting proportions from the 2004 election, these counties range from solidly Republican red (Tioga, Lycoming) to strongly Democratic blue (Lackawanna), with various shades of purple in between. (Luzerne County, where I live, is a bluish purple.)

John McCain has no chance whatsoever to win the Presidential election if he does not win Pennsylvania. It is a necessary but insufficient condition for victory. He almost certainly cannot win in Philadelphia, but Philadelphia is only a part of the Pennsylvania puzzle. There are several ways to win Pennsylvania without winning Philadelphia. One of those ways would be to turn all of those purplish areas in the East and West to red like the middle parts of the state. And there are two ways of doing that: convince people who are not planning to vote for McCain to vote for McCain, or convince people who are planning to vote for Obama to stay home.

Bishop Martino's edicts have the effect - and possibly the intent - of doing both. By convincing Catholic voters who might otherwise not have voted at all that they have a moral obligation to vote for Republican candidates, Martino adds some red to the mix. By convincing Obama supporters that their souls will be in mortal danger, and possibly in a state of mortal sin, if they cast a vote for Obama, he may be able to get some Obama voters to stay home, and remove some blue from the map.

But is this voter intimidation? Again, I think that will be determined by Bishop Martino's reactions once the district-by-district results come in. What reprisals will Catholics in districts that go for Obama face? Perhaps nothing. But who knows? Fear has long been a major motivating tool in the Catholic Church. And no decisions have officially been made on parish closings yet. Well, it looks like there aren't any Catholics here in this district. So I guess no one will mind if I close the local church...

This weekend I may find myself face-to-face with Bishop Martino as a family member receives the sacrament of Confirmation. I will try my best not to do anything that may get me arrested and/or excommunicated. And I will be repeating to myself over and over again: the Bishop is not the Church, the Bishop is not the Church, the Bishop is not the Church. The Church is something much larger than the Bishop. I am a part of it, as are all Catholics who came before me, and all Catholics who will come after me.

The Bishop is a part of it, too. But the Bishop is not the Church.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In a different light

I was able to get some decent images of the twelve major stained glass windows at St. Mary's Church in Nanticoke this past Sunday. The one above is of St. Hedwig and St. Edward (also known as King Edward the Confessor.) To get the image full length and relatively undistorted I had to take the picture from the central aisle of the church, while bracing myself against the pews - something that would not have been possible if I were not the only person taking advantage of the open Day of Prayer at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon. (And yes, I did spend some time in prayer before, during, and after the taking of these photos.)

These full-length images capture every major part of the windows, which is what I was trying to accomplish. I don't know if there are technical names for each of these parts, but if there are I expect I shall be learning them over the next few weeks. In the meantime I'll just use my own terms.

For now I want to focus on the lower part of the window, which is where the sponsor tag is included when it is actually still attached to the window.

This window - well, pair of windows - has a single tag that extends across both windows and reads "PRESENTED BY" (under St. Hedwig) and "K.M. SMITH" (under St. Edward.) Anyone familiar with Nanticoke will recognize the name K.M. Smith, which has been memorialized in the K.M. Smith school located just a few blocks from St. Mary's church. Unfortunately, references to the school dominate the results for any online search for "K.M. Smith," so I may have to resort to more old-fashioned means of investigation. The Nanticoke Historical Society may be able to help me locate information on this donor, as well as information on other donors (like "WILLIAM EVANS") whose names are not distinct enough (like, for example, "F.H. KOHLBRAKER") to provide a clean hit online.

I made a quick attempt to gather the names of the window donors / sponsors / presenters on Saturday evening after Mass, but by then the light had faded enough that I needed to use my flash to get the images. Which meant that I captured images of the windows by reflected, rather than transmitted, light. So while the image above shows what the bottom of the St. Edward window looked like with the sun shining through it at 1:20 on Sunday afternoon, here's what that same window looked like at 6:30 Saturday evening:

Notice the very unsubtle stripes of color, particularly in the middle of the row of five tablet-shaped panes, and how these fade to nuances and subtle distinctions of color once the sun shines through. I never did like seeing these windows after sunset, or when the sun was clouded over. But as a kid I served plenty of evening Masses and Masses on rainy days, so I got to see these windows under all different lighting conditions.

(Note for the uninitiated: "ORA PRO NOBIS", which can be seen under most (possibly all) of the images of the saints, is Latin for "Pray for us." While many outsiders believe that Catholics treat saints as a pantheon of demigods and pray directly to them, in reality Catholics pray only for the intercession of the saints - they ask the saint to put in a good word for them with the Big Guy. I know that saints are not unique to the Catholic church, though I have no idea how other Christian sects deal with the relationship of the individual to the saint.)

Carnival of hate

Well, I'm breaking my rule already. This will be a political post, but not as long as I planned, and then I'm gonna throw in a palate cleanser.

I didn't realize how vitriolic the response from certain quarters of the "Right" was to Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama until I followed a link on this post by Gort to a series of comments on (billed as "Online message boards for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web.") I won't reproduce the comments here, but "hate" barely begins to describe what's been bubbling over there. How the hell will these people react if - when - Obama is elected President?

I met my mom at the supermarket after work to help her finish grocery shopping and get the stuff packed into and hauled out of her car. By the time we got home and I had unloaded the car the news was off, and Inside Edition was on. I was just in time to see this story on Jon Stewart's indignant profanity-laced response to some divisive comments made last week by Sarah Palin, which was followed by a story on angry reactions in some quarters to Alec Baldwin's participation in a skit with special guest Sarah Palin on the most recent Saturday Night Live - by people who felt that Alec Baldwin had "sold out."

There's a lot of anger out there, on both sides. Maybe some of it is justified, maybe some of it is people dropping their masks and revealing their true natures.

I can't wait for this election to be over. Unfortunately, I don't think the hate will end on November 4th.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What price information?

I picked up a copy of J.H. Hatfield's anti-George W. Bush screed Fortunate Son many years ago. It was sometime after its second publication but before Hatfield's death. I picked it up mainly because it was cheap - $2.99 in the bargain rack in front of Waldenbooks, if I recall correctly.

I wasn't too excited by most of what I read on a quick pass-through. Most of the allegations had already passed from the realm of "scurrilous rumors" to "generally accepted, if unproven." So Bush was a child of privilege who had had all of his crimes and sins and misdeeds covered-up by his powerful family and their connections? Tell us something we don't know.

One of the things that was news to me had to do with attempts to acquire copies of public documents regarding the book's subject. While the documents that the author was attempting to obtain copies of were all public records, there were no clearly defined rules for what hoops a member of the public has to jump through to acquire the documents. In this case there was a high per-page "copying fee," since originals would not be handed out. Coupled with a format that spread even a short document across many pages, it was clearly an attempt to discourage public access to the public documents by forcing anyone seeking such documents to pony up a huge sum just to find out if there was anything worthwhile in the documents.

It was wrong. It was obstructionistic. It was a deliberate and bald-faced attempt to subvert the spirit of the law by perverting its letter. It...

Palin's e-mails? That'll be $15 million
Even at that price, many records won't be available until after the election
By Bill Dedman
Investigative reporter
updated 1:00 a.m. ET, Fri., Oct. 17, 2008

Sarah Palin's office has discovered a renewable resource to bring millions of dollars into Alaska's economy: the governor's e-mails.

The office of the Republican vice-presidential nominee has quoted prices as high as $15 million for copies of state e-mails requested by news organizations and citizens. No matter what the price, most of the e-mails of Palin, her senior staff and other state employees won't be made public until at least several weeks after the Nov. 4 presidential election, her office told on Thursday.

How did the cost reach $15 million? Let's look at a typical request. When the Associated Press asked for all state e-mails sent to the governor's husband, Todd Palin, her office said it would take up to six hours of a programmer's time to assemble the e-mail of just a single state employee, then another two hours for "security" checks, and finally five hours to search the e-mail for whatever word or topic the requestor is seeking. At $73.87 an hour, that's $960.31 for a single e-mail account. And there are 16,000 full-time state employees. The cost quoted to the AP: $15,364,960.

And that's not including the copying costs. Although the e-mails are stored electronically in Microsoft Outlook and on backup servers, and although a blank CD-ROM costs only
41 cents at Capital Office Supply in Juneau, the governor's office says it can provide copies only on paper.

Why? Because lawyers need printouts so they can black out, or "redact," private or exempted information. That task is more difficult because Palin and her senior staff have used government e-mail accounts for some personal correspondence, and personal e-mail accounts for much of their government correspondence. The photocopies of those printouts will be a relative bargain, only 10 cents a page. A state administrator said he understood that such redaction could be done electronically, but that state offices weren't set up to do that.

That process of deleting information is likely to be so lengthy that most requestors won't be able to see the records until well after the next president and vice president are chosen, Palin's office said.

E-mail sent between the governor's staff and their private Yahoo e-mail accounts won't be collected until Oct. 31. Searches will take an additional two weeks, until Nov. 14. And then the legal review of each e-mail will begin. There's no telling how long that will take, because no one knows how many e-mails there are, wrote Linda J. Perez, administrative director for the governor, in
a letter she sent to the state attorney general seeking approval for a delay. now, apparently, standard operating procedure for the Repugs.

Well, OK, maybe not. Maybe this is just the way official government records are dealt with in Alaska? After all, in most of the other 49 states of the Union (also known as "the Southern Elite"), I expect there's a pretty clear prohibition against using your personal Yahoo account to send and receive official government correspondence, as Governor Palin did. And I'd be willing to bet that even in the state government of Alaska, like in most businesses with more than, say, one employee, there is probably an official rule about using your work account to send and receive personal correspondence.

But, hey, rules get broken. Things get messed up. Mistakes were made. I'm sure Alaska intends to do better in the future, so that record retrieval will be lest costly. But for now, as they say, "it is what it is."

Or maybe it's a load of crap and just another attempt by a shady Repug to keep the truth out of the public's hands. If Palin were to become Vice President, could we expect any better of her?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cincinnatus at the plow

This is a cemetery. In Nanticoke. Can you believe it?
Honestly, I cannot wait for this election to be over. I am at the point of allowing myself a small glimmer of hope that the outcome will be one that I see as being the best for America, and for the world at large. But not everyone shares this point of view, and I find myself being drawn into conflict. I don't like conflict. I prefer to lay out my arguments in a logical, coherent manner, and have people apply their reasoning skills and experience-based insights to conclude that what I am saying is correct. But not everyone follows this program, and I need to shift up to a higher level of disputation. After a while, this gets exhausting.

Something was bound to give. I decided this week that I would be one of King Harry's "warriors for the working day," and give myself the weekends off to blog about the things I damn well wanted to.

Well, I started off with a long weekend: On Thursday I unleashed the first official post of The Stained Glass Project, an effort to photographically document the stained glass windows in my parish church, which may or may not be slated for closing in the near future.

On Friday I recounted a Cemetery Walk from the Sunday before.

Saturday I was supposed to head off to Confirmation practice with my nephew, who I am sponsoring; when this was cancelled five minutes before I was going to walk out the door, I found myself literally all dressed up with no place to go. So I decided to take the opportunity to begin another project of mine: photographically documenting all of the Churches of Nanticoke. I headed out at 9:00 to take advantage of the morning sunlight, and hadn't wrapped things up until nearly noon. (Even then I discovered that I had overlooked one of the churches, and went back out to take its picture, as well as to retake any pictures that hadn't turned out as well as I had hoped.

I tried to get more stained glass photos after Mass yesterday afternoon, but the sun set before the Mass ended and I wound up with interesting, even disturbing, images of the windows by reflected light. Before Mass the priest played a recorded message from Bishop Martino on the subject of church closings, advising parishioners throughout the Diocese of Scranton that in most cases no decisions have been made yet, but everyone must realize that we are no longer living in the 19th or 20th centuries when many of these parishes were founded, but must deal with the realities of the 21st-century world. (Interesting advice from someone who is generally regarded as having an attitude more in keeping with the 15th or 16th centuries.)

After this recording played, the priest announced that the Bishop had asked all parishes to set aside October 19th as a special "Day of Prayer" for the future of the Diocese. So the priest announced that, in compliance with this request, the church would be left open all day Sunday so that parishioners could come and pray at a time convenient to them. A plan started to take shape in my mind.

Like all of my plans, it was highly modular. The modules included another cemetery walk, and a Fall Foliage photo tour, and another session for The Stained Glass Project. Possibly all undertaken on foot, or possibly involving a car. Last week's cemetery walk involved my car, and it was a bit of a pain having to backtrack to where I had originally parked rather than continuing on foot across town to my house. After I took a shower this morning the plan was that I would drive across town to the church, grab my photos before the 11:30 Mass, and then make my way back by car stopping at several cemetery and landscape destinations along the way. But things came up that delayed me to the point that I would only have a few minutes to take photos before the start of Mass, which meant potentially disturbing other parishioners. So the plan was revised: I would head out on foot, meander though the cemeteries, and arrive at the church after Mass had let out around 12:30.

Large panorama of one of the Nanticoke cemeteries, taken 10/19/08.
Combination of three separate photos.
The cemetery walk was a downright Rockwellian experience. As I slowly made my way through multiple cemeteries, watching the Moon gradually set in the Northwest behind an Autumn landscape, the sounds of the announcer for the Nanticoke Junior Varsity football game being played more than half a mile away rang clearly across the graves. Church bells rang for noon, then for twelve-thirty, and I knew that Mass was now over and I would be able to finish my walk across town, enter the church and -

- well, as it turned out, I had the whole place to myself. Which was good, in a way, as far as getting photographs went. Though it saddened me somewhat that I was the only one there, at least for the entire period I spent inside - maybe fifteen minutes to a half hour. Still, I may now have everything I need to finish off the photographic portion of this project.

Tomorrow is Monday, and time to shift gears once again back to politics, to make what meager contribution I can to the cause. Not for much longer, just two more weeks or so. Then the election will be over. And then, like Cincinnatus, we will all be able to get back to our plowing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Churches of Nanticoke, Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts photographically documenting all of the churches of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. Go here to read part 1.

Having visited the churches on the West side of Nanticoke, our tour now moves to the central section of the city. We begin with another of the city's six Roman Catholic churches, St. Francis.

St. Francis is located at 173 East Green Street and features a large attached school and community center, which in the past was rented out for graduation parties and wedding receptions. It was one of the few Catholic churches in Nanticoke not affected by the first wave of parish consolidations several years ago, and boasted a large congregation and lavish decorations both within and without. Ironically, in 2007 it also became one of the first to close - not due to any of the reasons affecting parishes throughout the city, but because a leak in the roof went undetected until it had compromised the structural integrity of the building to the point that the church was deemed unsafe to use.

The St. Francis community pulled up stakes and relocated several blocks South to St. Joseph's Slovak Roman Catholic Church, located at 107 East Noble Street. St. Joseph's is a smaller, simpler church, though its steeple rises majestically over central Nanticoke and is easily visible from throughout the city. Sadly, the nearby school has been closed for many years and has fallen into disarray, with most of the windows smashed out and boarded up.

(If you find yourself in the vicinity of St. Joseph's, be sure to cross the parking lot behind the church to visit the legendary Sanitary Bakery, which is located at 126 East Ridge Street.)

Moving North once again we come to the First Primitive Methodist Church, which according to the banner across the front is celebrating 125 years (since its establishment, I presume.) It is located at the corner of Church and Prospect Streets, just a few blocks East of St. Stanislaus.

Continuing North down Prospect Street we come to Nanticoke's central park, Patriot Square. This is a pleasant wooded park, featuring walkways and benches and a monument that resembles a missile rising from the center of the park. Across the street from the North side of this park is Diamond's Candy Shoppe, located at 4 East Broad Street - definitely worth a visit in the months when they're open. But the final church on this portion of our tour is located across from the Southwestern portion of the square, heading West.

The building at 2 West Green Street has housed several different congregations in its time. It is currently host to the Berean Lighthouse, and has been for several years.

This concludes the second part of the tour of the Churches of Nanticoke. So far we've only covered nine of the churches. Next we will travel slightly further North, and will look at six churches located just off of Main Street. In the fourth and (for now) final part of our tour, we will see all of the churches that are located on Main Street itself.

Here is an aerial view of the churches covered in part 2 of the tour, courtesy of Google Earth.

The Churches of Nanticoke, Part 1

This is a project I've been kicking around for several years, at least since this post. And thanks to a last-minute schedule change this morning, I was able to get the project started today.

Nanticoke has a lot of churches. How many, I'm still not sure - that depends on what your definition of "Nanticoke" is. Counting just the main body of the city itself, there are over twenty. And I have set out to photograph them all.

I think I got them, all in one day! But this is too much to mash together into a single post. So I've tried to break up the churches into semi-logical groupings, more or less by location.

I started my tour of Nanticoke's churches around 9:00 this morning with a trip to my own church, Our Lady of Czestachowa (also known as St. Mary's), located at 1030 South Hanover Street. I have written about this church before, and it is the initial focus of The Stained Glass Project, so I will be writing more about it in the future.

Heading North along Hanover Street, the first church we encounter is St. John's Slovak Lutheran Church. For some reason this church is not listed in the directory of churches on the Nanticoke City 2006 Community Guide & Map that I had hanging next to the 2008 Recycling Schedule.* It is possible that it was erroneously thought to be a duplicate entry for St. John's Lutheran Church, which is located several blocks away.

According to the sign in front, this church has been around for 120 years as of 2008. It is located at the intersection of Hanover and West Ridge Streets, on the other side of Ridge from Holy Trinity.

Holy Trinity, located at 520 Hanover Street, is a huge, impressive church with an incongruously small parking lot located on the other side of the busiest part of Hanover Street - a holdover from a time when churches were neighborhood affairs, and most parishioners walked to church each Sunday. It is imposing on the inside as well, with limited handicapped access and many stairs. The absence of a modern ventilation system results in a striking demonstration of what Purgatory might be like, particularly during long, hot Summer masses. This is the church currently slated to be the primary Catholic church in Nanticoke, post-consolidation.

Holy Trinity parking lot, across Hanover Street from the church.
Some people also park on Hanover Street itself.

St. Mary's parking lot, to same scale.
("Eye altitude" adjusted for difference in elevation.)

Sadly, St. Nicholas Ukranian Catholic Church, located several blocks further North at the corner of Hanover and Green Streets, is now closed, and has been for some time.

We now backtrack a bit for the last stop in the first part of our tour. St. Stanislaus is located at 38 East Church Street, just a few blocks East of Holy Trinity. For many years a special relationship existed between St. Mary's and St. Stan's, and for a while the two churches took responsibility for alternate grades of students - St. Mary's had Kindergarten, First Grade, and all the subsequent odd grades, while St. Stan's had the even-numbered grades. (Each retained its own basketball team, of course.)

This concludes the first leg of the tour of the Churches of Nanticoke. There are many more churches to cover, so I expect to spread this out over another two or three posts.

Map showing the location of the churches featured on this part of the tour. Note the location of this group on the larger map of Nanticoke.

*Also the schedules from 2007 and 2006, just in case those years ever come around again.