Ithaca Blog

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Activities, 28 - 30 March

Friday 3/28: At Castaways, Go Gone go and are gone early, with a 5 pm show. They are followed by a tribute to Tom Petty, by many local bands, in a benefit for the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. 9 pm.

* * *

Saturday 3/29: Tap dancing at the State Theater, with Walking In Time, featuring some of the form's greatest steppers. 8 pm.

Castaways schedules an evening with two bands in the ablative case, Millionaires of Love and Thousands of One. 9 pm.

TalkToMes at the Chapter House, 10 pm. Their new CD is available at Small World Music.

* * *

Sunday 3/30: Guitarist Kelly Birtch at brunch at the ABC, 11 am. Later that night at the cafe, Josh Dolan, at 9:30.

Ithaca Hours in the News Recently (But Where, Exactly?)

Yesterday and today, Ithaca Blog has received scores of website hits from people looking for information about Ithaca Hours, our local currency system, with which we are affiliated as members, and which we have written about frequently.

This kind of uptick occurs pretty regularly, whenever Hours receives some big media attention. Usually, we're aware of where that attention comes from, but not this time, oddly enough.

It's good, of course, but we're a little worried that people might not be getting all the information they seek.

For the record, the official site of Ithaca Hours is That's .org, not .com.

If you would like to ask questions live about Ithaca Hours, call here to Small World Music and speak to Stephen Burke, of the Hours Board of Directors. The phone at Small World is 607/256-0428.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rod Serling Celebration at Ithaca College

"The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we're about to watch could be our journey."

These were the first words ever spoken on the classic television show, The Twilight Zone, and they convey the trademark mystery of author Rod Serling, greatest of all television screenwriters.

Ithaca College, where Serling taught, is hosting a celebration of his life and work this Friday and Saturday.

The highlights are a Twilight Zone marathon on Friday night: a screening of digitally remastered episodes voted most popular by an I.C. poll; and on Saturday, a table reading of a script by Serling about the racist murder of Emmett Till, considered too controversial by corporate sponsors to be aired, and never produced.

Details of these and all conference events are available at

Submitted for your approval -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Upgrades in Dryden

The small community of Dryden has made some big strides lately in improving its quality of life.

A group of volunteers has started a community cafe in the defunct Brooklyn Diner, on Main Street in the heart of Dryden's commercial district. The effort will provide a needed gathering spot and a possible spur to downtown development.

Last week, New York State awarded a grant of $430,000 to Clarity Connect to expand broadband Internet access in the Town of Dryden. The 30 percent of Dryden residents with Internet access will increase to 95 percent.

Will these developments, with Dryden's generally low real estate prices and the the current downturn in the market, lead to a land rush in the town?

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Song of When War Strikes Home

It might be kind of a school kid thing to assign significant poetic status to song lyrics. I can't help it, however, listening to a song called "Gypsy Biker" by Bruce Springsteen.

The song is a story about a soldier killed in war, presumably the current one.

The first words tell, maybe, as much of the story as needed.

Speculators made their money
On the blood you shed.
Your mother's pulled the sheets up
Off your bed.

I once heard of a contest among some writers: who could create the fullest story in the fewest words. Someone devised these five:

Baby shoes for sale. Unused.

President Bush stays mostly out of sight these days. Last week, though, he was in front of cameras, entering the sixth year of the war, still saying that the war was a good idea.

Six years into it with, as in Springsteen's portrayal, nothing but misery out of it.

The alternative, non-violence, is a philosophy taught by a figure celebrated this week.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Weekend Doings, March 21 - 23

Friday 3/21: The Hogwashers play bona fide old-timey at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30 pm. 508 W. State St.

Kelly Birtch, guitarist extraordinaire, at Little Venice in T-burg, 6 pm.

Also in T-burg, Dustin Stuhr (of the Urban Horse Thieves) and Friends. The Pourhouse, 7 pm.

Saturday 3/22: Surf-punks The Mofos, the Chapter House, 7 pm.

GrassRoots favorite John Specker, Castaways, 9 pm.

Sunday 3/23: The Piano Creeps, featuring Mary Lorson and Kathy Ziegler, at Felicia's, 7 pm.

Worth a trip to Binghamton, to the new Night Eagle Cafe, is Susan McKeown, from Dublin, one of the most striking of traditional Irish singers. Ms. McKeown was featured in the New York Times last week, and in performance in the city (for $35). The Night Eagle is at 200 State St. in Binghamton; 617-272-4136.

And worth staying home for (or a trip to the sports bar): Cornell's women's basketball plays their first-round NCAA championship game against, gulp, the #1 ranked Connecticut Huskies. We believe the game will be broadcast on local radio, on WPIE 1160-AM, and probably on national television - either ESPN or, just as likely, CBS - because of the Huskies, a perennial power.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Cornell Men's Championship Season Ends

Cornell's men's basketball team lost to Stanford in the first round of the NCAA post-season tournament yesterday, 77 - 53, ending a championship season in which the Big Red went undefeated in the Ivy League.

It was a decisive loss for 14th-seeded Cornell against 3rd-seeded Stanford. Cornell's peripheral shooting game was shut down by Stanford's size, hustle, and competitive experience.

The NCAA appearance was just the third in Cornell history. With the young team returning virtually intact next season, hope for continued success remains high.

Meanwhile, Cornell's women's team plays its first-round game on Sunday night, against top-ranked Connecticut, at 7 o'clock.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Big Red B-Ball Vs. 7-Foot Twins of Stanford

Cornell's men's basketball team makes its first appearance in 20 years in the NCAA post-season tournament today, in a first-round game against Stanford at 5 pm.

Cornell is seeded 14th of 16 teams in its division. Stanford is seeded third.

In academic terms, that would put Cornell in roughly the 80th percentile, and Stanford in the 20th. A big difference.

Stanford's advantage is enhanced by the playing venue of Anaheim, which means a partisan crowd and not much travel time.

The Stanford team has the unusual feature of a pair of 7-foot twins. Cornell's Jeff Foote is its only 7-footer, and in fact the only one in the Ivy League. Two on one team is bad enough, but twins seems unfair. A 7-foot guy circles you a couple of times, and you have to look around to see if it was one guy or both, and where they both are?

So much for our laser-like analysis. The game is 5 pm today, Eastern time.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Congressman Hinchey in Ithaca to Discuss the War, Wed. 19 March

Congressman Maurice Hinchey will hold a forum in Ithaca on the war in Iraq at the war's fifth anniversary. The forum is at 6 pm, Wednesday 19 March, at the First Baptist Church in Dewitt Park. It is free and open to the public.

Hinchey has been a leading opponent of the war since its start. His presentation on Wednesday will address the economic impact of the war, which has cost $500 billion so far.

If you can't make it to the forum, you can read a statement by Hinchey in the op/ed section of the Ithaca Journal of Wed. 19 March, or in the Opinion section of the on-line Journal.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cornell's Women's Basketball Wins Championship, Goes to NCAA Tournament

Cornell's women's basketball team defeated Dartmouth, 64 -47, to win the Ivy League title and advance to the NCAA playoffs.

Cornell started the game with 11 unmatched points. Dartmouth failed to score for the first six minutes.

The Big Red entered the second half leading 32-19, and went on a 12-2 run.

Jeomi Maduka, the Ivy League player of the year, and Moina Snyder each scored 14 points.

The team's 20 regular-season victories shattered its old record best of 12.

Cornell is the first team in Ivy League history to send both its women's and men's teams to the post-season in the same year.

Today, the men's team will find out where it is seeded in the post-season competition.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Cornell Women's Basketball: Championship Bid Today, Broadcast Live

Cornell women's basketball has a chance to join the men's team in reaching the post-season NCAA tournament with today's game. It would be the first tournament appearance ever for the women's team.

The men's team had an historic season by going undefeated against Ivy League rivals in the regular season, and becoming the first team in the country to secure a post-season berth.

The women 's game, and their shot at history, will be broadcast live at 2 pm on WVBR-FM, 95.5 and 105.5 on the dial.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, March 14, 2008

What's Doing, March 14 - 17

St. Patrick's Day on Monday extends the weekend a little, we reckon.

Local favorites Traonach will be out of town for the holiday, at the Turning Point casino. Karan Casey, much-beloved Gaelic chanteuse, gets only as close as Corning for the holiday, on Sunday 3/16, 3 pm, at the Cedar Arts Center (607/936-4647).

But Ithaca will have The Town Pants (Irish equivalent of "Fancy Pants", you see), purveyors of what the band calls West Coast Celtic, from Vancouver, Canada, at the Haunt, 3/17, 9 pm.

For the three days of the weekend proper, the Lost Dog Lounge cops a trifecta for the place to be.

Fri. 3/14: Jeannie Burns, of the Sisters, unveils her new band, the Jukebox Raiders, at the Lost Dog, 8 pm.

Sat. 3/15: New old-timey supergroup the Evil City String Band debuts at a Crossing Borders broadcast live performance at the Lost Dog, 8 pm. The band brings together guitarist Pat Burke, bassist Ben Gould (ex-Old Crow Medicine Show), fiddler Steve Selin, and banjo man Richie Stearns.

Sun. 3/16: Just announced, by personal visit to Small World Music, and not listed anywhere else yet, so tell your friends: Sim Redmond and Friends in acoustic performance at the Lost Dog, to benefit the TST Community School senior trip to Philadelphia. 7 pm.

See you on Cayuga Street -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog


Ireland, as I first knew it, was a place of work, piety, and poetry. No money. There is money now, but hopefully the things before are not entirely left behind.

I went as a 13-year old from Brooklyn, to meet relatives my grandmother had left 50 years before and not seen since. I worked on a farm for the summer.

It was a small, subsistance farm. The only money came from cream from milk from four cows. The main crop was hay.

We spent every day cutting and baling hay. The place was Sligo, the home of Yeats.

I had never heard of Yeats. But we worked in the shadow of a mountain he made famous in a poem, "Under Ben Bulben."

The landscape was beautiful. Ben Bulben was a striking presence.

As we worked, we could look miles across the valley and see dozens of others working too. At noon each day, church bells rang for the Angelus, a prayer to the Blessed Mother. Across the valley, everyone stopped all movement, and bared and bowed their heads.

Work could go long into the day, as the summer sun stays out until almost 10 p.m. that far north.

At night, there was no television to gather around, as I was used to with family at home. Instead, we read Yeats, aloud. Aunt Bridget was a retired school teacher with a great affection for him.

And we said the Rosary. Kneeling, against chairs, in a room with a stove with a peat fire, which was necessary even in summer in cold, rainy Sligo.

As I say, it was a place of piety and poetry, and no money. We ate meat once that summer, a Sunday chicken. It was stringy and not too delicious. "It's contrary," Uncle Paddy said.

Sometimes, the poverty impinged on the piety. The peat for the stove came from a bog at the foot of Ben Bulben. It was privately owned. I never met the owner. We only visited at night, with shovels and flashlights.

No doubt there is more food and heat in households now than then, with wonderful, historic economic changes in the country. Hopefully, there is still time for Yeats. And some spirit of laughing diggers.

From Yeats's "A Teller of Tales":

Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear.
Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth only a little dust under our feet.

Stephen Patrick Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day

One thinks sometimes how it would be to have magic possession - a magic wand? - to make good things happen, or keep bad things from happening. Not grand scale things, which we know is not the order of things, from God's own track record. Little things would be enough.

What if one could wave away Eliot Spitzer ever having been in public life? I was thinking today, I don't know when I first heard the phrase "high-priced prostitute ring," but I know it wasn't as a kid asking my mother how the governor was doing.

A good magic wand would make cell phone calls billable by content, the way calls used to be priced very strictly by distance. Yesterday a guy shopping in produce at Wegman's was on the phone because he was thinking about buying a lemon. Whoa. Okay. That call should cost ten dollars.

I just realize, George Carlin has a routine called "Things I Could Do Without" that is maybe too similar to these musings. I like George Carlin as much as anyone does, but I could do without being a crabby old guy like him until my time comes. I'll use the possession right now to quiet myself.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hey, Governor Spitzer: Solo Press Conference

We will all be hearing plenty about Eliot Spitzer in the next days and weeks, so let us get on and off the topic rapidly here, with one impression beyond all the obvious ones:

Hey Governor Spitzer, what's the big idea of dragging your wife to this press conference?

He nuances the entirety of the tawdry issue at hand, saying only, "I have acted in a way that violated the obligations to my family."

Meanwhile, he's still doing it - in this case, the obligation to spare his wife the shame of the public eye which he alone deserves. And he should have faced alone today.

Was there any reason for her to be there? What good did it do?

Did she insist on going?

Would you?

See you later, Eliot Spitzer, says New York State. We only wish we were advisor to Silda, so we could have said, stay home. Have a drink. Call the movers.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cornell Men's Basketball Completes Undefeated Season

Cornell beat Princeton last night, 71 - 64, to finish undefeated in the Ivy League.

The Big Red came back from a half-time deficit for the road win.

The last Ivy League team with an undefeated seasonwas Penn, in 2003.

As Ivy League champs, Cornell now goes to the NCAA finals.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cornell Wins Again; Undefeated Season on the Line Tonight

Cornell men's basketball visited and defeated Penn last night, 94-92, to remain unbeaten in the Ivy League, with one game to go, at Princeton tonight.

Cornell broke a string of 18 consecutive losses on Penn's home court.

Penn and Princeton are the perennial league powerhouses which, between them, have won every Ivy League championship in the past twenty years, a streak which ended when Cornell clinched the Ivy League title last week at home against Harvard.

Penn showed its strength by rallying from a 91-81 deficit in the last 33 seconds with an 11-2 run. They were unable to make a three-point attempt at the buzzer.

* * *

Small World Music (physical home of Ithaca Blog) celebrates Cornell's success with 10% off all purchases for Blog readers. Just mention the offer when you come in. And do come in. Don't jinx the team and have it all be your fault. (Like the guy on the TV show The Office, we are not superstitious; just stitious.)

Small World Music is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am - 6 pm. 614 W. State St., across the street from Kinko's, down the driveway.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Friday, March 07, 2008

What's Doing, March 7 - 9

Fri. 3/7: A reunion of sorts, we reckon, for Kevin Kinsella and Nate Richardson, each ex-John Brown's Body, at the Lost Dog Lounge. With Elisa Sciscioli. 7 pm.

Sat. 3/8: Prairie Home Companion must be a repeat tonight, because Robin and Linda Williams are here. Kennedy Hall at Cornell, 8 pm. Tickets for this Cornell Folk Song Club show are $17 at the door. Advance tickets, $15, are available at Small World Music.

Sun 3/9: Love, Janis: The Musical comes to the State Theater. 7:30 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Levity Effect: The Value of Play at Work

"The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up" is a business book due out this month that says that an active sense of humor is not just a good personal trait, but helpful for success at work.

A survey of 700 bosses shows that 98 percent say they are more likely to hire someone with a good sense of humor. A survey of workers shows that humor among bosses increases worker loyalty and productivity.

Google, the epitome of modern business success, has roller hockey games in its parking lot twice a week, and intermittent Scrabble games every day. The Lego company has scooters for workers to ride around its business park.

Albert Einstein made it pretty big in physics, and we don't know if he really said the many funny things attributed to him (Yogi Berra syndrome), but he looked like a pretty funny guy.

Willie Stargell, the beloved leader of the 1960's and 70's championship Pittsburgh Pirates, was once asked how his success as a player fit in with his affable attitude. He said, "At the beginning of the game, the umpire doesn't say " 'Work' ball."

One reason we couldn't get into the show "24" was the complete lack of humor in it. We figured Jack Bauer could have gotten a lot further a lot easier by making guys laugh than biting their necks out. The guy never relaxed. Look at James Bond, on the other hand. Top-notch spy; wry guy.

Everyone who has ever done public speaking knows the cardinal rule: start off with a joke. Or at least some levity. When they're laughing, they're listening. Something to think about in a world where laughing and listening are sometimes hard to find.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Los Lobos Comes (Back) to Ithaca

Legendary Cali-Mexi rock band Los Lobos comes to the State Theater on Wed. 5 March in a show that is sure to raise the roof and blast away winter doldrums.

Los Lobos headlined at GrassRoots in 2004 and played perhaps the rockingest Festival set ever. Their encore featured "Cinnamon Girl," for crying out loud.

Tomorrow's show is notable for the stellar opening act, James Hunter. Hunter headlined a show at the State last year. He is a veteran British singer and guitarist (years with Van Morrison's band), who made a sensation with a soulful album called "People Gonna Talk" that brought comparisons to Sam Cooke. Hunter is playing at the intimate Turning Point club in Piermont, NY later this month, where he has already sold out two shows at $65 a ticket.

There are still good tickets available for this performance. Check the State Theater's website for information.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Small World Music Celebrates Cornell Basketball

We had a great time at Cornell's Newman Center Saturday night, watching Big Red's men's basketball become the first team to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament this year. Cornell beat Harvard 86-53, to remain undefeated in the Ivy League.

It was good old-fashioned rah-rah fun in the sold-out, small arena. It was also an unbelievable old-fashioned bargain. We went with three friends as part of a "Foursome" packet: 4 tickets, 4 franks, 4 sodas, 4 popcorns, total $20. Not to mention free parking.

To reciprocate, and celebrate, at Small World Music, we will offer 10% off all purchases for as long as Cornell keeps winning. They don't play again until Friday, so the offer lasts at least that long.

Just mention the Ithaca Blog offer when you come in.

By the way, we have free parking too. No hot dogs, but free parking...down the driveway at 614 W. State St.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Cornell Basketball Clinches Ivy Championship, Gains Tournament Berth

Cornell's men's basketball became the first team in the nation to secure a spot in this year's NCAA tournament, clinching the Ivy League championship with a home win over Harvard last night.

Harvard has not won a road game this year. The Crimson lead by 5 points early, until Cornell tied at 11, then went on a 34-9 run the rest of the half.

Cornell played its bench for much of the second half. All 15 players on the active roster played at least 4 minutes in front of a full house witnessing basketball history at the Newman Center.`

Cornell is undefeated against Ivy League rivals, with two road games to go. On Friday 7 March, Cornell plays at Penn, attempting to end an 18-game losing streak there.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog