The Secret Life of Public Spaces Performance

Enjoy this performance by Penn State’s University Dance Company. The dancers put on quite a performance this past spring. The Arboretum at Penn State was the perfect location.

The Secret Life of Public Spaces

See the University Dance Company on Friday and Saturday nights this weekend. They will be performing outdoors at The Arboretum at Penn State at 7 p.m. both evenings. A show for kids will be at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It’s part of theThe Secret Life of Public Spaces project.

The Arboretum is a beautiful location for modern dance. If you are not familiar with modern dance and haven’t been to the Arboretum yet, go. It combines two favorites of mine. You’ll see why.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See more photos at:


Welcome to Scranton Book Trailer

The trailer for Welcome to Scranton is finally done. Normally a trailer is released before or at the same time as the book. This one took almost a year. Still, I’m pleased with the result and glad I took my time.

The trailer is basically a drive to and through Scranton at high speed. My wife Elisha and I shot the original footage last October. I drove the car while she operated a video camera through the moon-roof. It’s an hour of footage reduced to three minutes, thanks to video editing. Several places mentioned in Welcome to Scranton are shown. Unfortunately, the shot of the Welcome sign on the Scranton Expressway turned out blurry. We forgot the video camera on subsequent trips to Scranton and eventually the trailer project fell of the radar. We went back recently for the sole purpose of filming a good shot of the Welcome sign. It took two passes and we actually stopped the car alongside the sign to make sure we got it.

The video was done but I still didn’t have the right song to go with it. I host a jazz show on the radio so I wanted to use a jazz song. No jazz I tried worked well with the speed of the video. Anything in jazz that does move fast enough to keep up with the video is too hardcore for a non-jazz fan to enjoy.

As I was driving home from Scranton on a Saturday night after a day visiting family, I tuned into Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. Garrison introduced Paul Johnson and Gil Orr of  The Duo-tones. They played an incredibly fast surf guitar tune from the 1960s. It’s an amazing song that gets you moving. They followed it up with “Mr. Moto,” another great song, which Paul Johnson wrote himself as a teenager. As soon as the Duo-tones stopped playing, I wanted to hear the songs again. When I got home, I immediately fired up the computer,  went to the band’s website, and purchased “Pipeline” and “Mr. Moto.” I’ve listened to them over and over since that night.

Pipeline fit perfectly with the video and the Welcome to Scranton‘s tagline of “It’s a wild ride.”

Below is the video. Click on the full screen button in the bottom right and buckle up because it truly is a wild ride. I hope you enjoy.

Penn State Student’s YouTube Video Goes Viral

Below is a YouTube video by Penn State student Mel Torres, featuring the many animals sounds she can make. It went viral. Over two million people have viewed it.

Some people on YouTube made some rather nasty comments about her. I told a friend it’s a shame that her family might see those comments. He said, “that’s what you get for exposing yourself on the Internet.”

Maybe, but I think, in the end, Mel will get the last laugh. Here’s my prediction for Mel’s future. The video lands her on a TV show to feature her talents. That leads to a well-paying job hosting a TV program about animals. In thirty years she receives an award for her efforts over the decades to help endangered animals.

Penn State Dance Fundraiser

Penn State Dance Fundraiser

During National Dance Week, April 22 – May 1, 2011.

The University Dance Company at Penn State is trying to raise $1,000 to send students to an intensive dance program in July and to fund costume and travel expenses for the 2011-2012 season.

My wife Elisha is the head of the Dance Program at Penn State. To help her and the students, I am donating the profits from sales of Welcome to Scranton during National Dance week to the University Dance Company.

 Where to Buy  Price  Penn State Dance Receives
 CreateSpace  $9.95  $5.00
 Amazon    9.95    3.00
 Kindle    2.99    2.00
 Nook    2.99    2.00

To raise more money, buy copies to give as gifts. You can also give Kindle copies as gifts.

Penn State Dance Slide Show

Welcome to Scranton in Paris

Welcome to Scranton was spotted in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Now if only I could get to Paris.

At the Eiffel Tower

Welcome to Scranton in Paris

How Did We Get Here?

I tried something different with this writing prompt: How Did We Get Here?


Sunlight shone through the window, hitting his face as it rose above the mountain. Todd woke, covering his eyes to protect them from the blinding light. His head pounded. He had cottonmouth. Todd sat up on the futon and grabbed the half empty forty ouncer from the large plastic storage bin that served as a coffee table. The warm beer, normally his favorite breakfast beverage, had a chemical taste. As he sucked it down in one swig, his lips felt a foreign object–a cigarette butt. If only he could remember to check before he drank, not that it would matter. He’d probably drink beer no matter what he saw floating in it.

Todd looked around but didn’t recognize the room. It was like any number of trash strewn, busted up living rooms he had woken up in the past few years after a night of drinking and doing whatever drugs available. Todd got up. He had trouble finding his balance. His head felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. Todd thought about laying back down but he had to find the bathroom to take a leak and fast. He was about to burst. Thank God he hadn’t pissed his pants in his sleep this time. His cousin won’t let Todd crash at his place again, at least not until he reimburses him for the couch. Like Todd could ever save up enough money for that.

Todd went down a hallway, stepping over someone he didn’t know. He looked in the doors at the end of the hall. On the right were bedrooms with people sleeping, empty bottles on the floor. The bathroom was on the left.

He felted a wave of relief when he was done. As he was about to flush the toilet, he heard someone groan. Todd turned, almost losing his balance. He opened the plastic shower curtain. There was his girlfriend, Debbie, waking up after a night of sleep in the tub.

“There you are,” he said

“I thought that was you taking a piss.”

“Yeah, now let’s get outta here.”

“Where are we?” Debbie said.

“I don’t know.”

“How did we get here?”‘

“Same way we always do, Deb. Now let’s find the kid and go home.”

You Don’t Know How Bad it Gets

More fun with a writing prompt: You Don’t Know How Bad it Gets

“The wife shot at them?”

“Sure. The husband was sneaking around with another woman,” he said and lit a cigarette.

“Why didn’t she just divorce him?”

He let out a few smoke rings and said, “You’re not married. You have no idea how bad it gets in a situation like that. They had two kids. They were supposed to be together forever. See those kids raised and off to college, travel the world when they retired, grow old together. When that promising future was gone, she snapped, completely lost it. She couldn’t process it. Her life was upside down or rather the whole world had gone insane on her. Nothing made sense.”

“And the only thing that did make sense was to kill them?”

“Not exactly.”

He took another drag before putting the cigarette to her lips. She took a long, slow drag.

“What do you mean ‘not exactly?”

“She missed. They ran out of the room still naked, scared to death.”

“So what happened?”

“The sound of the gun going off caused the wife to snap out of it. She realized what she was doing and that it wasn’t worth going to jail over, especially since she had kids. She let the husband come back home a few weeks later.”

“What happened to the other woman?”

“Left town. Went to D.C. Married to some guy.”

“Why are you telling me this story?”

“We can’t get caught. My wife might not miss next time.”

Read and eBook Week

In honor of Read an eBook Week, the Kindle and Nook editions of Welcome to Scranton are available for 99 cents.



It was a matter of time

Another writing prompt I enjoyed–It was a matter of time

His father was in decline for the past year. The old man had been on a respirator and unconscious for weeks. The family knew it was a matter of time.  Yet when the respirator was finally removed and the father finally died, the eldest son, James Jr., did not feel relief as he expected. Instead, he felt a wave of grief and fear for which he was unprepared.

James Jr. saw his future and his own death as he watched James Sr. briefly struggle for breath, his body disturbingly thrash about just before the end. James Jr. was reminded of his mother. She died at the age of thirty-two from cervical cancer. James Jr. was just twelve at the time. He helped raised his two younger siblings, neither of whom remember much about their mother, a woman James thought a saint.

While his siblings were blessed with healthy spouses, James Jr’s own wife, Sabine, died at the age of thirty-four of lymphoma. They, too, had three children. James Jr. struggled to raise them on his own. He eventually dated a few women in the ten years since his wife died, but most women don’t want to help raise three children that are not their own. And who could blame them. James, himself, would not have wanted to if the situation were reversed. There was one woman, however, who would have married him but she wanted to have a child of her own with James. He wanted to, he really did, but three children was enough, James told her. She promptly gave up on him and married another man within a year. James Jr. would, if his life was to mirror his own father’s, as he believed it would, would not find another woman before the end. He would die with his three children at his bedside. James Jr. wondered what would become of his eldest son.

Copyright © Greg Halpin, 2011 All Rights Reserved