The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 30, 2021

Skiers at the top of a mountain, with clouds and other mountains in the backgroundOn top of the world at Whiteface, skiers have “looked at clouds from both sides now.” (Nancie Battaglia)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends.

ALL DOGS GO TO GLENS FALLS: The big game next weekend? It was played already, in Glens Falls last October. The Puppy Bowl – Animal Planet’s annual fur-filled fluff fest to promote pet adoption – is a Super Bowl day tradition in which shelter puppies are the playful stars of the gridiron. It’s usually filmed on a sound stage in Manhattan. Due to COVID-19 concerns this year, it was moved quietly – as quietly as one can move 70 puppies – to Glens Falls where it was filmed at the Cool Insuring Arena.

THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: Two former Siena men’s lacrosse players were in the news this week for very different reasons. One, Zach Triner, will play in Super Bowl LV as the long snapper for the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having given up lacrosse after his freshman season to refocus on football. If his coach at Siena hadn’t left for a promotion, Triner told The Times Union, he might never have pursued football. The other, Colin Clive, is dealing with an unthinkable cascade of tragedy that includes the loss of both parents in a four-day span as he continues his own fight against brain cancer.

JUST KEEP THE FRIBBLE: If you grew up in New York or New England, you know a Fribble from a frost. You know about sherbet coolers, patty melts and jubilee rolls, too, thanks to Friendly’s, the Springfield, Mass.-based chain founded during the Great Depression by the Blake brothers, S. Prestley and Curtis. Friendly’s has been through some unfriendly times lately, but it now has new owners who say they will keep the restaurants open.

WE COULD USE MORE ICE: This isn’t the kind of news to elicit much concern in this deep freeze of a January, but consider this: Between 1994 and 2017, the Earth lost 28 trillion metric tons of ice. That’s 61,729,433,411,765,720 pounds, an amount roughly equivalent to a sheet of ice 300 feet thick covering the entire state of Michigan. The meltwater has raised the sea level over an inch or so world-wide. “It’s such a huge amount it’s hard to imagine it,” said Thomas Slater, the lead author of a paper detailing the new research.

A DEMOGRAPHIC ECLIPSE: The big structural conflict in American politics is not Republican vs. Democrat, or even rural vs. urban. It’s a “demographic eclipse,” Atlantic Editor Ron Brownstein says, in which a majority is becoming a minority and “the fundamental dividing line … is between those who welcome and those who fear the way America is changing.”

FATE OF THE BIG SCREEN: Hollywood has written its own obituary so often. First, greedy  corporate owners were going to ravage the studios. Then came that killer TV. Then Big Tech. Now Netflix and streaming services. In a week when the AMC theater chain announced that bankruptcy was off the table, we ask: Is Tinseltown truly in trouble, or have we seen this movie before?

MOVE OVER, BERNIE: Remember when KFC and Crocs got together for chicken-themed footwear — which are still so popular, you can’t find a pair? Now comes Panera Bread, which evidently wants to be sure Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t the only one with conversation pieces on his hands.

NOT ALL BAD: The economic and emotional pain of the pandemic is ongoing and not to be minimized. But in the midst of hardship and suffering, regions across New York State with abundant opportunities to get away and absorb nature — places like the Adirondacks, Catskills and Finger Lakes — welcomed visitors who hired guides, bought equipment, rented vessels and otherwise helped to partially compensate for the loss of economic activity in other sectors. And if you’re thinking about getting away, you can start with this list of 17 cozy cabins for rent in Upstate New York.

THE EXECUTIVE LIFE: In Lake George last summer, the executives at Fort William Henry were cleaning rooms, changing beds and scooping ice cream. An abundance of guests and a regional shortage of workers created big challenges. “It was absolutely the most challenging time of my career,” says Fort William Henry President Sam Luciano.

An ice-covered lake looking toward a small island with treesWinter is displaying its full strength this week, but in its subzero grip, beauty can be found. (John Bulmer)

OLD PLACE, NEW FACE: The City of Albany, chartered in 1686 and always proud of its history, has a sleek new branding initiative and website that were developed by a 2020 College of Saint Rose graduate.

FINER DINING: Our old friend Bill Dowd, a longtime newspaper editor in Albany who has become a popular restaurant blogger, highlights the dining options and ambience at 10 upscale mansion restaurants in Upstate New York, including the Inn at Erlowest in Lake George and the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia.

NEWS BLUES: The rise in misinformation that has left so many so confused about so much coincides with a sharp decline in local news sources. More than 2,000 U.S. newspapers have closed in the last 15 years, and 1,800 communities that had a local news outlet in 2004 didn’t have one at the end of 2019, according to research by the journalism school at the University of North Carolina. And many of the survivors are operating in ways that make you wonder how much longer they can hang on.

ANSWER MAN: The Times Union’s Steve Barnes speaks with Dennis Metzger, chairman of the Albany Medical Center Department of Immunology and Microbial Disease, about COVID-19, vaccines, the ever-lingering need for more data and a few topics you might not expect.

BETTER BEGINNINGS: It’s safe to say best-selling author Neil Pasricha, whose books include The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome, knows something about cultivating a positive lifestyle. Turns out, he needed a new way of thinking during a particularly bleak time in his life, which he narrowed to three basic pillars to begin each day.

WINTER WANDERERS: It was a beautiful winter day for an adventure on the cross-country ski trails, so a herd of adventurous Hereford cattle decided to take a little jaunt in the fresh air. They had their fun and were home by dinner.

BIGFOOT SEASON: Employing the unassailable logic that “A lot of people don't believe in Bigfoot, but a lot of people do," a state lawmaker in Oklahoma introduced a proposal to create a bigfoot season, to be regulated and overseen by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. He’s hoping the season will draw more people to his part of the state. Dragon season, anyone?

STAYING ON THE SIDELINE: Budweiser, whose Clydesdales were a highlight of Super Bowl advertising for decades, this week joined Coke and Pepsi as major brands taking a pass on advertising during Super Bowl XL (though Pepsi is sponsoring the halftime show). Budweiser said it will use the money it would have spent on Super Bowl advertising to support COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

PRESSURE COOKERS: Anne Burrell is a star chef on the Food Network, having cooked in some of New York City’s finest kitchens before making the hugely successful leap to television. It’s fair to say hers is a discerning palate. So you can imagine the excitement that poured out of a Central New York restaurant when she selected it to cater her wedding in the fall, where guests will include bridesmaid and fellow celebrity chef Rachel Ray along with other Food Network figures.

A NEW LOUVRE: Operators of the Louvre, the world’s most-visited museum, are using this time of pandemic-related shutdown to make several improvements that will greet visitors when they return. Around 250 artisans have been working inside the museum since France’s latest lockdown went into effect on Oct. 30, and their work was described in lovely narrative and photography in The New York Times. 

DIVIDED WE STAND: The Associated Press sends two reporters to a small town in Central Maryland to view life on the two sides of our political divide from the perspective of two friends and adversaries who find themselves confounded in their efforts to understand each other’s political perspectives. “They don’t agree on basic facts. They don’t even share a vocabulary. They use the same words — truth, proof, patriotism — but they don’t mean the same thing.”

THAT’S THE SPIRIT: Albany, it has been said, is a company town where the company is state government, so we suppose it’s no surprise that enthusiasm for the legislative process was on display in lights last week on the Corning Tower in Albany. (Thanks to Jon Campbell of Gannett Albany for the chuckle).

COMEDY GOLD: Lucille Ball made the people laugh, but it was Desi Arnaz who knew how to turn that comedy into cash and showed television, at the time a fledgling medium, the financial power it possessed. NPR goes in depth.

A GIANT STEPS DOWN: Marty Baron is among the great journalists of this or any generation, the editor of The Boston Globe when a team of reporters there exposed child sex abuse in the Catholic church and later of The Washington Post, which won 10 Pulitzer Prizes during his eight years in charge. A fearless advocate for his newsrooms, in announcing his retirement he characteristically urged his colleagues: “Keep at it.”

SPORTING LIFE

GOOD TO BE BACK: The National Women’s Hockey League is back in action for the first time since March, with a two-week tournament at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. The Isobel Cup makes the NWHL the first pro women’s league to compete for a championship cup at the historic arena. “For Lake Placid, it’s a huge win,” Paul Wylie, the director of sport for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, told The Boston Globe. “We get a chance to do what we do best, which is host world-class athletes. And be part of a golden moment for women’s hockey.”

HALL PASS: The Baseball Writers Association of America didn’t give any of the candidates on this year’s ballot 75% of the vote, the minimum threshold for induction. Curt Schilling, the postseason legend who fell 16 votes shy, reacted by asking that he be removed from consideration in 2022. Voters took a lot of heat after news broke that they hadn’t selected any new members this year, but the truth is, to many, what should be an honor has become a chore complicated by questions of ethics and morality.

JIMMER LIGHTS IT UP: Jimmer Fredette, the Glens Falls native who was a national collegiate basketball player of the year at Brigham Young, scored 70 or more points in a game for the third time as a member of the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, netting an even 70 in an overtime loss last Monday. Fredette also had eight rebounds and nine assists in 54 minutes played. He scored a career-high 75 points in a game in 2018 and 73 in a game in 2017.

LIVES

SHARON BEGLEY’s byline was among the most authoritative and insightful in all of science journalism. Her command of complex subjects, rendered in reader-friendly prose, made her a legend at Newsweek, where she spent most of her career. She also wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and, for the past five years, Stat, a Boston-based health and science news website. She died of cancer at 64.

SO MUCH WAS WRITTEN and said about Larry King, the radio and TV legend whose death was reported early last weekend, that we’re not sure there’s much to add, though we did enjoy his perspective on the art of the interview, which after all is how he made his living and became arguably as famous as the people who answered his questions.

SHE WAS LASSIE’S first mom in the 1957-58 season of that popular television program and 12 years later a big-screen prostitute in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” But she was best known as Phyllis Lindstrom, the scatterbrained landlady of Mary Richards, in the Mary Tyler Moore show. Cloris Leachman was 94.

ON THE SCREEN, she was Kunta Kinte’s mother in “Roots.”  She played Coretta Scott King and Harriet Tubman. In real life, she was Miles Davis’ wife. And in everything she was an exemplar of dignity who refused parts that demeaned black people and yet found more than 100 film, television and stage roles and became the oldest person ever to have won a Tony. Cicely Tyson was 96.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."

— Archie Griffin, Cincinnati Bengals

THE SIGNOFF

A SHOT OF AWARENESS: Assembly Member John McDonald, a pharmacist in Cohoes, administered the COVD-19 vaccine to Wayne Jackson, the Sergeant at Arms for the New York State Assembly, and naturally Twitter was agape at the sight of the buttoned-down Jackson in anything other than a suit.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Tara Hutchins, Matt Behan, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt and Lisa Fenwick.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value or interest to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversation:  mark.behan@behancom.com

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