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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Catching up

For about four days now, I’ve been scribbling notes on little yellow pieces of scrap paper, reminding myself of some topics I want to blog about. But rather than cover them all in separate entries, here’s a laundry list of what’s been on my mind:

* Dwayne Kroohs, editor of the Freeman’s weekly People & Events section, is no longer allowed to call me at home on Saturday mornings. Every time he does, it’s about some local catastrophe that’s just taken place: an explosion at a gas station in Hyde Park a few years ago; a ferocious fire at a Kingston funeral home in 2007; and, most recently, a plane crash in Modena this past weekend. I figure if I forbid him from calling, the calamities will cease. (Just kidding, Dwayne; feel free to call me anytime with the disaster du jour.)

* Did anyone notice that almost identical pictures of Kingston High School graduate Rebecca Monk (right) ran in both our paper and the Times Hearld-Record of Middletown on Saturday? I guess that’s what happens when two photographers stand next to each other while shooting the processional at a commencement.

* The Angels, my baseball team of choice, are supposed to have one of the most talented lineups in the Majors. How is it possible, then, that they managed to score a grand total of only two runs in a four-game stretch from Friday to Monday? Talk about a slump! (At least, though, they managed to scratch out a 1-0 victory in one of those contests.)

* I’m pleasantly surprised – but more than a little worried – by the fact that the price of gas has barely budged in the last two weeks, despite the continuing rise in the price of oil. My guess is the gas companies have been holding back as long as possible but that a huge jump at the pump is coming any day now.

* Starting next year, Alderman Bob Senor wants Kingston to charge an admission fee for people to view the city’s annual Independence Day fireworks. I guess Senor envisions some kind of barrier being set up around the Rondout waterfront district, where people gather to watch the pyrotechnics, with revelers having to pay if they want to get inside the barrier. Perhaps it didn't occur to Senor that people will just watch the fireworks from outside the barrier in order to save the couple of bucks he wants to charge.

* Speaking of the Rondout district, a group that calls itself Middle East Crisis Response has filed a lawsuit against Kingston because city police kicked demonstrators from the group out of the city’s T.R. Gallo Park on May 4, when a celebration to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary was being held there. I was at the celebration, and I count myself as being pro-Israel, but it seems to me the lawsuit may have some merit. The protesters weren’t causing any trouble; they merely were holding signs that stated their anti-Israel views. I didn’t agree with their opinions, but I agree even less with the practice of stifling people’s right to free speech – especially on public property.

* I feel a bit bad for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The agency has all the right tools to make Stewart International Airport in New Windsor the viable transit hub it long has deserved to be, but so many things out of the authority’s control have gone wrong in the eight months it’s been operating the facility. First Skybus went belly up. Then AirTran announced it was giving up its Stewart flights. And now both JetBlue and Delta have said they plan to offer fewer flights in and out of Stewart beginning in September. The culprit for all these problems is, of course, the skyrocketing cost of jet fuel, and the Port Authority bears no responsibility for that. But the timing couldn’t be worse, and I fear the agency's grand plans for Stewart may never – excuse the pun – get off the ground.

* And, lastly, three notes about some of what’s on television these days: 1. Do we really need reality shows about the personal lives of such celebrities as Hulk Hogan, Scott Baio, Gene Simmons, Denise Richards and the family of Lindsay Lohan? These people aren’t even interesting when they perform scripted material. We’re supposed to expect that candid peeks into their lives will be any more interesting? Not likely. 2. The updated version of the game show “Password,” which airs Sunday nights on CBS and is hosted by Regis Philbin, is thoroughly addicting. It borrows quite a bit from Philbin’s last game show – “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” – but it works like a charm. 3. Earlier tonight, I caught about five minutes of ABC Family’s new drama, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” The writing is awful, the acting is worse, and the plot lines are terribly clichéd. But the hardest thing to take was seeing Molly Ringwald – the Brat Pack teen queen of such 1980s cult films as “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” – as the mother of a teenage girl. Ouch. Pass the Geritol.



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