Friday, August 1, 2014


Saturday, August 6, 2011
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Upon entering the room, Mark Davalos is quiet-a most mannerly Clark Kent or perhaps a Dr. Jekyll, who can turn around, and in an instant become a Mr. Hyde-in the guise of his ring persona, Bad Billy Walker.

Is pro-wrestling a sport or a performance? According to Mark Davalos of Lansford, pro-wrestling is both. Each match is a mythic performance of good versus evil set against a demanding feat of athletic punishment.

Davalos should know. He and his wife, Renee, have been pro-wrestlers since the 1990s as headliners in the Johnny Rodz World of Unpredictable Wrestling. Mark Davalos teaches up-and-coming wannabes the skills to become pro-wrestlers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011
At the Visitor Center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Pennsylvania, the story is told how a young George Washington led a regiment of Virginia frontiersmen into a skirmish with French troops that escalated into the French and Indian War.

In the rural southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, but much closer to the Maryland and West Virginia borders, is a site where George Washington surrendered, started the first world war, and sowed the seeds of the American Revolution.

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Travel companion Layla and I visit the Three Pagodas at Dali built in the Tang Dynasty about 1,200 years ago.

(This the final part of a series of articles about Taylor's recent trip to south China's Yunnan Province. More photos appear at


Standing amid a sea of yellow wheat, the tall golden grains waving ever so gently in the wind, I was just about as out of place as you could get. Wearing jeans and a fake black North Face jacket, I stood out from the Chinese workers in their iconic saucer-shaped field hats and torn pants.

Saturday, May 28, 2011
BRANDON TAYLOR/TIMES NEWS Dai residents gather for a re-enactment of a water splashing festival, usually held every April during the Dai's New Year celebrations In Dai culture, water symbolizes purity or the ability to wash away the past and start anew. Splashing water is a gesture of goodwill toward one's family, friends, neighbors or anyone who happens to get in the way of a water-filled bowl.

(Editor's Note: This is the first column in a four-part series on Taylor's recent trip to south China's Yunnan province.)

Yunnan, one of China's southernmost provinces, means "south of the clouds." It's a name fit for fairy tales and other childhood stories, one that hints at hiding something behind its cloudy veil. The name couldn't be more spot on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Artists Victor Stabin of Jim Thorpe and Mary Kocher of Palmerton in front of a painting by Kocher of her daughter's wedding day discuss their common Oak Ridge, Tennessee history. Stabin's father and Mary and her husband worked there on the Manhattan Project.

Two Carbon County artists, who had never previously met and are a generation apart in age, have one thing in common.

They are both connected to the town that didn't exist.

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Last spring, my cousin Megan had a baby: Bentley. I was a little nervous meeting him for the first time, since he's had a whole year to get to know everyone else in the family and choose favorites, but I think he liked me.

With shovel in hand and Penn State winter cap on my head, I looked at the fluffy white sidewalk at the side of my house in Tamaqua. Three inches of fresh snow had greeted me that morning, begging to be cleared from the pathway. This was three inches on top of the roughly foot of snow that was left over from the winter's numerous other snow showers.

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Roy Ziegler is the past president of the New Hope Historical Society. His new book, The Parrys of Philadelphia and New Hope: A Quaker Family's Lasting Impact on Two Historic Towns is available available through

The story of Daniel Parry, founder of Parryville, Pennsylvania, is told in a newly published book, The Parrys of Philadelphia and New Hope: A Quaker Family's Lasting Impact on Two Historic Towns by Roy Ziegler.

This 140 page history tells the story of one of eastern Pennsylvania's most storied families who helped transform early nineteenth-century Philadelphia from a population able to support 40,000 to one that housed 2 million, created industries, and were fathers of the towns of New Hope and Parryville.

Saturday, January 8, 2011
Brandon Taylor at Happy Valley Amusement Park just outside Beijing is a nice moderate level theme park - it doesn't have the tallest or fastest or best roller coasters, but they are still scream-worthy.

Summers back home meant three things: a week at the beach with my family; tennis in the morning and afternoon with friends; and at least one trip to a major amusement park. Summers in China have consisted of: week-long excursions to the country's interior; morning and afternoon trips to the Great Wall; and other thrilling experiences, but no thrill rides.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
BRANDON TAYLOR/TIMES NEWS Large stone statues watch over the sacred burial grounds. Throughout the wooded area were large mounds – the burial sites of other Confucian descendants.

It was like many other temples I'd visited in the last 16 months. Red pillars held up a multi-tiered roof of orange tiles. Incense burned in giant vats in front of the main worship hall filling the air with that distinct temple fragrance. A few worshippers were dressed in traditional garb like the monks I'd seen in Beijing. But this place was special, a former teaching ground for one of China's most well-known scholars and historic figures – this was Confucius' hometown, Qufu in Shandong Province.

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Vertel Martin was investigative coordinator of the 9-11 NYPD Missing Persons Task Force.

Vertel Martin, an associate professor of criminal justice and co-coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program at Northampton Community College, was the investigative coordinator of the 9-11 NYPD Missing Persons Task Force.

She was well qualified to handle the position. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, she served as a lieutenant with the New York City Police Department, from which she retired in 2002. But nothing could prepare a person for such an incredibly difficult task at hand after 9-11.