Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Sisters of Mercy" by Cher (2000)

Wait a minute...CHER?
Yes...that Cher.

In 2000, Cher released her CD "Not.Com.mercial," sold exclusively throught Artist Direct. The CD features nine songs written and composed by Cher herself after attending a writer's workshop in 1994.
One of the songs, "Sisters of Mercy," has a connection to Scranton, PA., though the song never mentions Scranton directly. The song is a harsh critique of the Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns who serve the poor and sick, whom Cher refers to as "daughters of hell," "twisters of truth," etc.
In an article from People Magazine (November 27, 2000, pages 18-19) titled "Cher, Nuns & Trouble," Cher explained that she wrote the song for her mother. When Cher was a a few months old, her father abandoned her and her pregnant mother in Scranton, PA. Cher's mother took her to a Catholic orphanage to care for Cher during the day while she worked as a waitress in an all-night diner. Cher's mother ended up having an abortion, and she returned to the orphanage to collect Cher after a three-week hospital stay. The Sisters of Mercy responded by calling her an unfit mother and refusing to return her daughter to her. According to Cher, it took six months and help from a Scranton City Councilman for Cher's mother to regain custody of her daughter.
Cher has stated that the song "is about a particular incident--not a condemnation of the Catholic Church."
If you would like to read the article from People Weekly, it's available in Access Pennsylvania Power Library from the magazine database "Masterfile Premier." We also have a copy of the People Weekly article in the Local History Vertical File for "Diocese of Scranton".
You can read the lyrics to "Sister of Mercy" by clicking here.
Cher's CD "Not.Com.mercial" is only available from the Artist Direct web site:

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Field of Dreams (1989)

Our wonderful Head of Reference, Miss Evelyn G., informed me of a Scranton connection to the 1989 Academy Award nominated baseball blockbuster Field of Dreams. The film stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, an Iowa corn farmer who hears voices saying "If you build it, they will come." Ray interprets the voices as a command to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield; he does this and, indeed, the Chicago Black Sox come.

The late, great Burt Lancaster plays one of the baseball ghosts, Dr. Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham, who was based on an actual baseball player for the Scranton Miners. The real Archibald Wright Graham was a left fielder for the Scranton Miners in 1905-07 and, at the end of the season, he practiced medicine in Scranton before moving to Minnesota. There were even several articles in the Scranton Times on Dr. Graham in the early 1900s (including a team picture of the Scranton Miners, including Dr. Graham, on Sept. 12th, 1908).

Field of Dreams is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. If you'd like to reserve the DVD, click here; if you'd like to place a hold on the VHS, click here.

Thanks again to the kickin' Evelyn G. for the info.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Sopranos (2000) Season Two, Episode One

Our lovely district consultant Mary Yeager emailed me and told me of a mention of Scranton in the popular HBO series The Sopranos. The story centers on fictional Mafia man Tony Soprano and his relationships with his wife, his family, his associates, and his therapist. The first-rate cast includes James Gandolfini, Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco.

The Scranton mention was in the first episode of the second season. The episode, titled "Guy Walks Into A Psychiatrist's Office," features a scene in which Philly "Spoons" Parisi (played by Dan Grimaldi) is picking up Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) from the airport. The dialogue goes like this:

So how's Boston?
Well, it was good to be back for a while, then, ya know.
Do I?
That place is Scranton, with clams.
NOTE: Now I have never seen an episode of The Sopranos in my life. So if I have the scene or the characters wrong, please email us at and tell us.
Season Two of The Sopranos, featuring "Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist's Office" is available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System. To place a hold, click here.

Much thanks again to the lovely Mary Yeager for this entry.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

That Championship Season (1973)

In 1973, playwright and Scranton native Jason Miller won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Tony Award for Best Play, for That Championship Season.

Set in Scranton, PA, the plays tells the story of four friends and their former basketball coach as they reveal themselves and are honest with each other for perhaps the first time in their lives. By the end of the evening, they are reminiscing about their 1957 championship basketball season.


The play opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on September 14, 1972 and played for nearly two years, closing April 21, 1974.

Besides Miller, TCS also won a Tony Award for director A.J. Antoon, as well as nominations for actor Paul Sorvino, lighting designer Ian Calderon and scenic designer Santo Loquasto (Santo himself is a Wilkes-Barre native).


In 1982, Hollywood came to Scranton, PA, where they made the film version of TCS. Written for the screen and directed by Jason Miller, the film starred Paul Sorvino (the only actor from the original stage play to recreate the same role in the film version), Stacy Keach, Bruce Dern, Robert Mitchum, and Martin Sheen.


In 1999, Paul Sorvino directed (and starred as the coach in) a made-for-TV remake of TCS, starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Gary Sinise, and Tony Shalhoub.

To place a hold on the text of Jason Miller's original 1973 play, click here. To borrow the DVD of the 1982 film (shot in Scranton), click here. The 1999 remake is also available; click here to reserve the DVD or click here to reserve the VHS.

A big holla and thanks to Elizabeth Davis for the suggestion.

*The 1999 remake of That Championship Season will be screened Friday, August 19th at 7:45 at Nay Aug Park. Click here for details. (NOTE: This event has passed and it remains listed here strictly for archival purposes.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"The Office" (Sitcom) (2005- )

The show "
The Office" is set in a fictional paper supply company in Scranton, PA.

Click here for a news item that our very own Lackawanna County Library Crad will be appearing on an episode of the upcoming second season.

School Ties (1992)

Eagle-eyed Jennifer Maher from the University of Scranton emailed me about the film School Ties, starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O'Donnell. The film tells the story of David Greene (Fraser), a working-class Jewish quarterback from Scranton, PA who is attending the elite St. Matthew's prep school in 1950s Massachusetts (MA). David has chosen to hide his religion until a jealous bigot forces it out in the open.

School Ties is available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System; to place a hold, click here.

Thanks again, Jennifer, for the info.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tovarich (Broadway Show) (1963)

James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O., of Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, sent me the following email:

There was a song called Wilkes-Barre, PA in the musical Tovarich, which ran on Broadway and starred Vivien Leigh.


Information about Tovarich (which is Russian for "Friends") is available from the Internet Broadway Database at:

According to IBDB, the show played for almost a year in a succession of 3 (count 'em 3) different theatres on the Great White Way. The music was composed by Lee Pockriss, and lyrics were written by Anne Croswell.

Vivien Leigh (who, with Byron Mitchell, sings Wilkes-Barre, PA in the show) won the 1963 Tony Award for Best Actress in A Musical for her performance in Tovarich.

The song concludes with:

Not Altoona,
I don't mean Scranton,
I hate Reading,
Where are we heading?

At, you can listen to a sample of Vivien Leigh and George S. Irving singing "Wilkes-Barre, PA!" the song is also available to purchase from iTunes.

Thank you so much, James, for this information. I'm a big Broadway buff and have never heard of Tovarich before, so my mouth is still agape at this information. Plus I'm amazed that someone as far away as Georgia has looked at our blog. WOW!!!

Thank you, James! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

Harry Chapin's Song "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" (1974)

On March 18, 1965, on Moosic Street in Scranton, a tractor-trailer carrying 15 tons of bananas bound for the A&P lost control in rush hour traffic, hitting cars, houses, and wire poles before crashing into a home. The driver, Eugene P. Sesky (35), was killed and over 15 people were injured.

In 1974, singer/songwriter Harry Chapin (also famous for his classic song Cat's in the Cradle, who would himself die in a crash in 1981) immortalized both the tragic events of 1965 and the city of Scranton in his song 30,000 Pound of Bananas.

The lyrics to the song are on Harry Chapin's website. The song was originally released on Chapin's 1974 album Verities & Balderdash and was subsequently released on most of his live CDs thereafter (it appears to have been a favorite of Chapin's to perform in concert).

Our Local History collection in the Reference Department includes a newspaper clippings file on 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, including photocopies of the original Scranton newspaper articles from the crash in 1965. These articles can also be reproduced from the microfilm of the Scranton newspapers.

30,000 Pounds of Bananas is available on two CD titles from the Lackawanna County Library System--Essentials by Harry Chapin and a 4-disc box set by Chapin. Click on either link to place a hold.

Thank you, Judi K., the keeper of the LHVFs.

"Wonder Boys" (2000)

The lovely Clara Hudson from University of Scranton visited the Reference Department this afternoon and made me aware of this critally acclaimed film starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand and Katie (the future Mrs. Tom Cruise) Holmes.

In the film, author and Carnegie Mellon professor Grady Tripp (Douglas) learns his his married chancellor (McDormand) is pregnant with his child on the day his third wife leaves him. He befirends one of his troubled pupils James Leer (Maguire), who is obsessed with old film stars and is attempting to find an old coat once worn by Marilyn Monroe.

In the following exchange, Grady and James are driving and conversing about their lives:

My parents live in a small town.

Where's that?


Carvel? Where's Carvel?

Outside Scranton.

I never heard of it.

It's a hellhole. Three motels and a mannequin factory. My dad worked there for thirty-five years.

Wonder Boys is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. To place a hold on the DVD, click here; for the VHS, click here.

Much thanks again to Clara Hudson for the "Wonder Boys" info.