Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About the header image: October 30, 2013

I created this header image months ago. The plan was to post it this week, just before the Twelfth Annual Sideshow Gathering began right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For the twelfth consecutive year, many of the world's most talented and creative sideshow performers would be converging on Wilkes-Barre, to the sideshow convention that was a labor of love of the late, great Franco Kossa.'s not happening.

Franco died about two and a half years ago, five months before the fabulous Tenth Annual Sideshow Gathering. Still, the show must go on, and the people who knew and loved Franco carried on in his name. It wasn't easy without him, and it got harder as the months led up to the Eleventh Annual Sideshow Gathering last year. But all the stops were pulled out, the legendary Todd Robbins (the man in red to the left of center) was signed on to host, and many veterans of the Gathering lines up to rub elbows with some first timers.

Then Superstorm Sandy hit.

It didn't hit Wilkes-Barre. The Gathering itself was fine. But it hit New Jersey, New York, Coney many people who were planning to come to the Gathering had their home bases, and in many cases their homes, devastated by the storm. Those who managed to make it through brought tales of unbelievable destruction and chaos.

Those who were there made the most of it. The great fun and camaraderie that are the hallmarks of the Gathering (tempered by the knowledge that someone, maybe many someones, is or are stealing your act) permeated the 2012 edition as well. At the midpoint of the second day, Todd called everyone to the stage to try to break a record that had been set at the Gathering two years before: the largest mass Human Blockhead, in which dozens of people would simultaneously shove things - traditionally nails, but also spoon handles, crochet needles, switchblades, ice picks, screwdrivers, and other objects - up their noses and into their sinuses. The record was easily broken, as seen in the photo above. There is so much amazing talent in the picture above, and I have the honor of being on a first-name basis with almost everyone there - and in daily contact with many of them.

The Sideshow Gathering is on hiatus this year.But it is not done for, not if the people who loved it so much have anything to say about it. Plans are already in the works for next year's Gathering, bigger and bolder than ever before. When it does happen, I know I'll be there!

If you have a picture you'd like to see used as the NEPA Blogs header, send it to us at!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PA Live! Blog of the Week: Times House News

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is Times House News (

Anyone who has ever been to Jim Thorpe will tell you it's a beautiful and charming place, and well worth a visit any time of the year. Since June 2010 Diane Prokop, proprietor of the Times House in Jim Thorpe, has been blogging about it in Times House News, a blog dedicated to news and events in and around Jim Thorpe. From shopping to concerts to special seasonal activities, Times House News will keep you informed of reasons to come to Jim Thorpe - just in case you needed them!

Jim Thorpe is such an amazing little place that Times House News is actually the second blog we're featuring as Blog of the Week that's dedicated to keeping you informed about it. We also spotlighted Jim Thorpe PA a few months ago. So if you're thinking of taking a trip to Jim Thorpe, consult both of these blogs to find out everything there is to see and do there!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

About the header image: October 23, 2013

At sunset, we tend to focus (if we watch at all) on the play of colors in the west as the sun slips below the horizon. How often do we think to turn to the opposite horizon to see what's going on there? But when conditions are right - as they have been lately - an amazing sight can be seen rising in the east at sunset, or setting in the west at sunrise. A pink glow appears across the sky opposite the sun, and below it there will be a dark band, growing at sunset or shrinking at sunrise. The pink glow is the reflected light of every sunset (or sunrise) taking place just below the horizon behind you. And the dark band? That's the shadow of the Earth, cast on - and through - Earth's own atmosphere! This isn't really a rare phenomenon, but how often do we actually get a chance to look for it? This picture was one of many taken by me on the Nanticoke-West Nanticoke Bridge just after sunset on October 20, 2013. The Susquehanna mirrors the sky perfectly, and the John S. Fine Bridge carries Route 29 traffic safely over the river.

Do you have an image you'd like to see used as the NEPA Blogs header? Send it to us at !

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

PA Live! Blog of the Week: Yesterday's Photos

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is Yesterday's Photos by Janis Dahlman (

Long-established newspapers have extensive archives that document local history. But how do everyday people get access to the contents of those archives? Since February 2013 Janis Dahlman has addressed this problem by bringing the best of the archives out into the open! Yesterday's Photos delves into the archives of the Pocono Record and presents striking photos, hilarious political cartoons, and awkward, dated ads - all artifacts of a time that now seems so long ago.

While these photos and articles come from The Pocono Record, the history they document is not just relevant to the Poconos. Like Brian Fulton's "Pages from the Past" (featuring photos and articles from the Scranton Times archives), Yesterday's Photos presents a historical record that is relevant to everyone in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and beyond. Plus, it's a lot of fun!  

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

About the header image: October 16, 2013

Two in a row! This image, like last week's image, is provided by Cheri Sundra ( I mentioned looking for header images to use for the Autumn to a friend and she suggested using one of a bonfire. I haven't been able to locate a bonfire photo from any NEPA bloggers yet, but this image comes close! Bursting with the colors of Autumn, Cheri actually took this picture on August 15, 2013.

As usual, the full version of this picture really needs to be seen:

You can also see the original on Cheri's Flckr page at

Do you have any images that capture the beauty of Autumn in NEPA? Send them to us at and we'll use them as the NEPA Blogs header image!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PA Live! Blog of the Week: Leslee Clapp

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Watch the video on the PA Live! website:

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is Leslee Clapp's self-titled blog.

I first met poet and writer Leslee Clapp at an open mic hosted by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective several years ago, which followed immediately a Bloggers' Roundtable at The Vintage (then known as the Vintage Theater) in Scranton. We chatted about writing and blogs, and she mentioned that she had a blog. I asked her what it was about, and she told me: "Radical hospitality."

I didn't know what that meant then, and two years later I still don't. What I do know, aside from the fact that Leslee is a wonderful poet and writer, is that he blog is all about lessons learned on her journey through life. As a daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, a world traveler, a writer, Leslee draws upon the experiences of her life and shares the lessons she has learned from them in her blog, Leslee Clapp.

Reading through Leslee's blog you are almost certainly going to learn some lessons of your own, and come to see your own experiences in a new light. Perhaps the blog Leslee Clapp will inspire you to start a blog of your own, and share the lessons you have learned with everyone else!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bloggers of NEPA BlogCon 2013

This year would be different from last year, I decided. Last year, at the inaugural NEPA BlogCon, I decided to take a back seat, to try to blend in as anonymously as I could. It wasn't my show, it wasn't a NEPA Blogs event. Michelle Hryvnak Davies, co-administrator of NEPA Blogs, was part of the Fearsome Foursome, the quartet of women who planned and executed the NEPA BlogCon, but she did it separately from and independent of NEPA Blogs. I didn't want to show up and give anyone the impression that I had done anything to make this event happen, so I lurked in the shadows and hid in corners, taking in the presentations and observing the other bloggers - until one of the presenters pointed me out during her presentation. After that I tried to muster the social skills to interact with the other bloggers, maybe pass out a few blog cards and collect a few. By the afterparty I had gotten into the swing of things, and was doing my best to work the room without being too obnoxious.

This year I took a stack of NEPA Blogs cards, and a stack of Another Monkey cards, and even a stack of Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective cards. I made sure "NEPA Blogs" was emblazoned on my name tag. I tried to socialize more, and hand out the cards wherever possible. But afterwards I was kicking myself for the things I hadn't done. I hadn't made sure that the NEPA Blogs cards were included in the swag bags - several other bloggers didn't miss that opportunity. I managed to miss the afterparty announcement, so I missed out on the chance to socialize there. And I went home with too many NEPA Blogs cards in my pocket, and too few other bloggers' cards.

But I did collect a few. I also grabbed a few names of blogs and bloggers here and there. I mostly hung out with people I already knew, but I did make an effort to meet some new bloggers. I'll start off with their blogs here, and add more as I collect them. If anyone wants to speed things along, please send your information to us here at!

Let's start with one by a member of the Fearsome Foursome, Leslie Stewart - until recently also known as Darling Stewie. But in the past few weeks she has put aside the Darling Stewie moniker, and started up a new blog:

Leslie I.R.L.
A blog about living the geeky life with purpose

I met Linda in my networking group, facilitated by the redoubtable Conor O'Brien - proprietor of The Vintage, gracious host and zookeeper for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective, and member of the improv group Unorganized Business, in which capacity he and others from his group were present at the BlogCon. Linda is someone who took a nontraditional path to college graduation, and blogs about here nontraditional approach to life:
Linda the Late Graduate
Instagram: @lynnpoe

While I'm talking about Conor, I may as well list his blog too:

Conor A. O'Brien

Jackie Siperko and Judy Zavislak were also in my networking group. Both of their blogs are pretty self-explanatory:

Jackie Siperko
Virtual Assistant and Web Services

Judy Zavislak
Independent Team Beachbody Coach

Heidi Marie was in the group, too. I recognized her earlier, after I spotted a sign for her business, Oldfangled Studio, which operates out of The Vintage, which is owned and operated by Conor, which hosts the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business world is starting to wrap itself up in knots, in a good way:

Heidi Marie
Oldfangled Studio
Vintage - Cats - Art

April I met at lunch. Her blog is PG-13 or a bit more, and is probably NSFW, depending on how your workplace feels about erotic images. The focus here is on reviews of erotic and young adult literature:

Literal Hotties Naughty Book Reviews

I don't think I spoke to Elizabeth, the blogger behind Radiant Abandon, but I did see her a few times throughout the day and she did, in fact, appear to be radiant:

Radiant Abandon

Adrienne, on the other hand, I recognized from the NEPA Blogs Facebook group - and when I saw the name of her blog, I realized we had spoken extensively at last year's afterparty:

Skinny Jeans and Sippy Cups

That's just a few of the bloggers I met there, and not even all the ones whose blogs I hadn't heard of before - I still have a few more on a list elsewhere. But I know I missed dozens of people who aren't listed on NEPA Blogs yet. We'll keep looking for you - but if you read this first, contact us at and let us know! You can also join the NEPA Bloggers Facebook group at

Updates, October 12, 2013

Two that I forgot to add:

Writings from Omeed Firouzi
(Winner, Best Political Blog of 2013, NEPA BlogCon)

atheism blog by Erik Dickerson

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

About the header image: October 9, 2013

As I have mentioned before, creating a header for NEPA Blogs generally involves cropping a photo into something with just the right dimensions, and then slapping the appropriate text in the open spaces. Cropping requires some editorial judgement. What is this photo about? What can be removed without detracting from that? What can be removed to emphasize the subject of the photo?

Sometimes the answer to those last two questions is "Nothing." The photo has an organic unity that cannot be altered without fundamentally altering the whole thing. Best to keep your grubby paws off it.

This photo by Cheri Sundra is a jaw-dropper. Most people in Northeastern Pennsylvania know about the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, more commonly known as the Berwick Nuclear Power Plant. Fewer know about the natural and manicured areas around the power plant maintained by PPL for the enjoyment of the people of the area. Cheri recently paid the place a visit and got some wonderful photos, including the one above. This picture is so wonderful that I couldn't find any way to crop it without diminishing the beauty of the whole. So I included the whole thing. (My jaw hit the ground for a second time when Cheri volunteered to let us use this photo for the NEPA Blogs header!) Unfortunately, the size constraints of the header mean that the photo itself must be greatly reduced in size. Here it is, in all its glory:

More of Cheri Sundra's photography can be found at

If you have a photo you'd like to see used as the NEPA Blogs header, just drop us a line at

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

PA Live! Blog of the Week: The Slavic Kitchen

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is Deborah Keller's The Slavic Kitchen (

The people of Northeastern Pennsylvania love food, and food of all sorts. Thai, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, Greek - a vast array of ethnic food choices are available in the area, many within walking distance of each other. In The Slavic Kitchen Deborah Keller has chosen to focus on foods with Slavic roots, just like so many of the immigrants who came to work the coal mines of the Wyoming Valley over a century ago.

Based in Plymouth, The Slavic Kitchen reflects both Deborah Keller's passion for food and her love of the Wyoming Valley. Since April 2013 she has been sharing recipes, food stories, and tales of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania. If you come from Slavic roots, are interested in the Slavic heritage of the Wyoming Valley, or are just interested in the Slavic foods so popular in this region, be sure to check out Deborah Keller's The Slavic Kitchen!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Friday, October 04, 2013


Here's another blog from the list of bloggers in attendance at last year's NEPA BlogCon. Remember, the second annual NEPA BlogCon is TOMORROW, Saturday, October 5!


Coriosity is a "Life" blog, and as such it's hard to characterize beyond that - as hard as it is to characterize someone else's life. On this blog Cori Preston shares things she likes - books, movies, events - as well as tidbits of her personal life, such as the design of her bridal shower invitations. Cori has been sharing things on her blog since March 2012. Check it out!

Thursday, October 03, 2013


Here's another blog from the list of bloggers in attendance at last year's NEPA BlogCon. Many of the bloggers on that list are already listed on NEPA Blogs, and a few have walked away from blogging - for the time being, at least. I'm trying to add some of the active blogs to the NEPA Blogs list before the second annual NEPA BlogCon this Saturday, October 5!


As the name suggests, this blog is all about fitness and fashion - and having fun! In the words of Alyssa, who writes the blog,

FunFitFashionable began in August 2011 as a way to share my training and healthy eating habits and recipes, fashion trends and outfits, and beauty tips and creations along with my occasional random “life” tips.  Mainly I like to focus my blog on living a balanced lifestyle!

I enjoy exercising almost daily and finding new ways to save money through doing at-home beauty treatments and other methods of taking care of yourself.  I love finding new ways to better my health and then share it with everyone!

FunFitFashionable is still going strong, a year after the NEPA BlogCon. Check it out and encourage Alyssa to keep on blogging!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

About the header image: October 2, 2013

Brick roads were once the standard in Nanticoke and many other places in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I remember as a little boy of two or three watching the brick road in front of my grandparents' house get paved over. I was sad to see something I had known all of my life go away, but on some level I knew the bricks would always be there, just under an inch or two of asphalt. (You can see this on display in Wilkes-Barre, where patches of asphalt regularly fall away to reveal the bricks underneath.)

But there are still a few streets here and there that are paved with bricks. Not major or heavily-traveled streets, but they're there. South Walnut street in Nanticoke is one of those streets, at least south of Washington. It becomes a little brick road between to cemeteries, ending abruptly at the top of the hill to be replaced by a dirt road. If you were to follow this road to its end, you would reach a field, and a gully beyond; climb the hill on the other side of the gully, and you would be at Luzerne County Community College, the site of this Saturday's NEPA BlogCon! Granted, there are easier ways to get there...

Do you have an image you'd like to see used as the NEPA Blogs header for a week? Send it to us at

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

PA Live! Blog of the Week is once again Mandy Boyle!

Due to a scheduling conflict (last Tuesday's episode was entirely dedicated to the Bloomsburg Fair), last week's Blog of the Week segment did not run on WBRE's PA Live! However, the segment - which features Mandy Boyle's blog - did air today! We will be posting a link to the video as soon as we have one.