Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jack The Stripper, The Butt Naked Beach Bandit Of Plymouth!

Plymouth is living in fear today as police beat the bushes looking for the Butt Naked Bandit!

White Horse Beach was the place to be for fans of nude B&E as a man without pants broke into a pair of homes Sunday night.

A woman woke to find a half-nude man in her living room. She woke up because the man tapped her shoulder. He had also been into the children's room. She was no damsel-in-distress, and witnesses saw her physically pushing the man out of the door.

The man ran away, and witnesses saw him trying to get into another cottage. Police say that he broke into two homes in the neighborhood that night.

This is most likely a guy who got so drunk that he A) lost his pants and B) walked into the wrong home. The alternatives are more ominous, however. No attempts at assault were reported.

Police are urging residents to lock their doors at night, and to be on the lookout for the man.

"Jack The Stripper shouldn't be hard to find," said Plymouth detective Elliot Stabler "He's the nude guy breaking into your house."

"It's funny," said Stabler. "Usually, guys commit the crime, and they're hung after a trial. That's not the case with the Butt Naked Beach Bandit."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tropical Storms Could Impact Massachusetts

We told you to watch those tropics!

Several tropical systems are spinning around in yonder ocean out there. We'll be getting touched by them very soon, perhaps even today on some coasts.

Don't get me wrong. The storm that gets closest to us may miss us by 500 miles, and we may not even get windy. However, even 1000 miles is close enough to have a dangerous effect on our waters.

Here's the tropical line-up, with links to the National Hurricane Center page on each storm:

Hurricane Gaston

Tropical Depression 8

Tropical Depression 9

Area Of Low Pressure Presently Moving Off Of Africa

That's a lot of tropical storming, folks.

That picture below (Tropical Depression 9, with Hurricane Gaston sort of photo-bombing in from the right) looks scarier than it should. The green area touching New England shows a 5% chance of tropical storm force winds reaching us, not the forecast chance of a tropical storm making landfall. Tropical storm winds are 35 mph minimum. We can do that standing on our head.

Gaston is way out in the ocean, aimed at the Azores, and won't get any closer to us than he already is. However, he's a whale of a storm, with winds of 85-100 mph. In a vacuum, he would maybe kinda increase waves on SE facing Massachusetts beaches.

TD 8 is off of North Carolina, while TD 9 is forming in the Gulf of Mexico.

They are more worrisome than Gaston. "Worrisome" exists in a zone where the range runs from "pay it no mind at all" through "panic, stomp on small children and elderly who get in your way as you flee." This would be much closer to the former than the latter, score it "keep an eye on the forecasts."

The best case scenario gives us sunny skies and maybe some good tummy-surfing waves as none of the storms come near us. The next level- which I think it most likely- is that one or two storms brush by us closely enough (500 miles) to give us rougher-than-usual surf and rip currents. Mind you, I'm not even expecting any/much rain out of this scenario.

A scenario beyond that involves a tropical storm offshore, but close enough (100-200 miles) to give us a good soaking to go along with rougher surf and rip currents. Depending on how things shake out, this may or may not be how we kick off Labor Day weekend.

The closer the storms get to us, the more the chances of action go up. As near as I can tell, Depression 8, 100 or so miles off of North Carolina as I write this, looks to be the better bet to get involved in a New Englander's life.

The worst case scenario at the moment seems to be two tropical storms flying by us in succession, maybe one rolling over Nantucket and bringing tropical storm conditions to Cape Cod. The South Shore might be out of the loop, or they may get some September surf out of it. The South Coast would get the rough surf for sure, but maybe not the 35 mph winds. The Cape would get it worse.

The whammy in that scenario would be surf. We'd get a week of pounding waves and beach erosion. This is a month and change before Nor'easter season, too.

The storm leaving Africa will barrel-ass across the Atlantic, and we'll worry about her later.

We'll keep you updated, and we're just giving you a heads up for now.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Regional Accents In Massachusetts

Shot from the cah, not fah from the bahn, in Cahvah.... OK, it's Ryegate Farm in Plympton, but I didn't feel like driving up to Harvard for one stupid cah-in-yahd picture....

Massachusetts is known world-wide for her brutal accents. I don't need to tell you that, you live it.

Our job today will be to examine what makes up the Boston Accent, how far it spreads, where it stops, what stops/changes it, and what it then becomes. We also wish to define lesser-researched terms like "South Shore Accent" and "Cape Cod Accent."

I want to state right here that, although I have Historian credentials, I got into Journalism as a sportswriter, and anything beyond sports-writing greatly involves the chance of my intellect running into a wall. As the causal agent in the intellect/wall encounter, I might not be aware when it happens. If you read an article on quantum physics that Neil DeGrasse Tyson wrote and you disagree with it, he's probably right and you're probably wrong. That might not be the case today when you and I speak about Linguistics.

I should also add that the author is fiercely parochial. I firmly believe that Plymouth, America's longest-running settlement for white people, is home to the true American accent. Once you start heading West and South, this true American accent gets corrupted.

Massachusetts was English territory, and English is the main language here. However, Massachusetts also was an ocean away from England, and we sort of got our own thing going on eventually. Massachusetts has had a lot of immigration, so we now have a lot of English being spoken by non-English people who are taking an earnest crack at it. Throw in the great mixtape of Time, and here we are discussing different local accents.

Remember, if you go by Years, our main dialect is Algonquian. If I remember, I'll call the Wampanoag Language Research people and ask if the more eastern Wampanoag speakers drop their Rs.

Any accent flexed in Massachusetts falls under the broad umbrella of New England English. This is a grouping of 3-10 local accents, depending on who you count. Two super-dialects exist within this grouping:

-Western New England English is spoken in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, Vermont and northern New Hampshire.

- Eastern New England English (which encompasses the Boston Accent), which was the language of most of New England for much of her White Guy history, is utilized in eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, and coastal Maine.

We'll draw a map for those who got confused by that.

Western New England English, which you might know as Hick Speak or How They Talk In Places With Mountains or Those People Who Use Rs, is first up to bat. It seems to run along the Connecticut River, and was spread by trade.

While grouped in the same general accent, Connecticut and Vermont speak differently, but they are more like each other than they are ("ah") like Boston. The same goes for Western Massachusetts.

Western Massachusetts is sort of a merger zone for the CT and VT versions of the accent, and Merger Zones are a subject we'll revisit soon enough.

As with most things New England, I doubt Connecticut's loyalty. However, the consensus among linguists is that the Mountain Speak hasn't been overridden by the powerful Noo Yawk influence coming from the big city to the SW.

Anyhow, the Syrup States are some other website's problem. My area of concern is east of Connecticut through Cape Cod, and then up the coast to Maine.


Boston is the hahhtland of the Boston Accent, and- by proxy- the North East New England English accent. They are most frequently associated with dropping their R sounds, a habit known as non-rhotic speech. We also use Broad A sounds, which is where my own powerful Boston accent screws up the narrative... I can't imagine in my head what the non-Boston version of the trap-bath split is.

You've heard a zillion actors take a crack at the Boston accent. Cheers was famous for it. Norm made a weak effort at the accent. Sam didn't try at all. Fraser and Diane sort of flex a Brahmin accent, and Carla sounds like she's from the Bronx. Cliff (the actor who played him was from Connecticut) tried hard, overdid it, and sounded very much like a non-drawling Mainer.

Johnny Depp, who can do anything, couldn't do the Boston accent. Jack Nicholson, with a shelf full of Oscars, never even tried to fake one in The Departed. Ben Affleck did the very rare "had the Boston accent, sort of had it altered in acting school, and then had to re-learn it when Boston movies came into vogue" movement. Chief Brody can't do one, even with his Islander wife helping him.

I know from how we market this page that, if you're reading this, you don't need me to explain to you what the Boston accent is.

The most powerful and natural usage of a Boston Accent that I ever heard was when I was installing office furniture in the 1980s with the V Crew, a bunch of Southie guys who took a lot of Valium. While I can't repeat it here, it involved the meanest V Crew guy loudly encouraging a man who he thought might be a black homosexual to go through the crosswalk more quickly. While the racial slur was textbook non-rhoticism, he managed to stretch "queer" out to three syllables without even thinking about using an R sound. I'd write it, but I have no idea how to. It would need an A, a Y and a perhaps several Hs.

There is at least one Facebook page where you have to even SPELL in a Boston Accent.

As far as "where does the accent start to change" part, it may be easier to look at the borders. We already looked at the WNEE accent out west. The Boston accent slams into that once you get out of Worcester.

We'll get to the South Shore and the Cape in a moment, but we first need to do some of that Merger Zone work.


There are two Maine accents. The main Maine accent is the inland one, where you ask a guy a question and he answers with an "ayup." That old dude from the Pepperidge Farm commercials rocked this sort of Maine accent. Stephen King, when he speaks instead of writes, also has a strong Maine accent.

They say that the Pepperidge Farm guy (Parker Fennelly, born in the 19th Century) has pretty much what would be a textbook Yankee accent. All of New England sounded like him before the Industrial Revolution. Boston accents, imitating England-English dialects of the 1800s, sprung up 200 years after the Yankee accent. It was all Ahhhhhhhhhhh after that.

When you get too close to Boston, the accent shifts heavily to Massachusetts. Boston-influenced Mainer is the other Maine accent. The Boston accent follows the coast, through parts of New Hampshire, from Cape Cod to southern and central Maine. Maine is where it merges with the other Maine accent.

Inland Maine is heavily influenced by the Vermont accent and even the French accent dropping down from the Great White North.

There's a touch of Maine to the Cape Cod accent, but we'll get to that in a minute.


Rhodey is an itty-bitty state with a unique position in this discussion. They are the home of the Southeast New England English Accent accent.

In short, Rhode Island has a very New York tinge to their accent. They are non-rhotic, but very distinct from Boston. The second word of "Rhode Island" starts with a "D" when a true Rhode (Island) Scholar is speaking, and is closely related to her neighbor, Lon-Guy-Land.

It is notable in that they are not connected to New York other than through Connecticut, and Connecticut isn't as Noo Yawk-sounding. That's not easy to pull off.

It might have to do with tourists, and definitely is related to Rhodey's healthy Italian population. Italians are able to resist the Boston accent somewhat, but they go under in a second for a Rhode Island accent. Rhode Island is also the top location in America for another Romance language bunch, the Portuguese.

It pushes out of Rhodey onto the South Coast somewhat, but it hits a wall once you get out of her cities. "New Beffuh" was coined by someone having fun with this accent.

Probably the best representative is Peter from The Family Guy, a show that is very up-in-your-face Rhode Island. He sounds like he's from New York, which is OK in Rhode Island. "Plunderdome" Buddy Cianci is was also a known heavyweight among Rhodey accent users.


You'd be tempted to say "Ted Kennedy" here, but remember that he was born in Dorchester. Cape Cod won him over, but- as a Dorchester kid myself- I can tell you that the Dot never leaves the Rat.

Cape Codders have several factors at work when they speak. This is a key merger zone, and you'll notice that whoever I stole that Accents Map from didn't even try to score Cape Cod.

Whether the Cape Cod accent exists as a distinct entity is subject to some debate. It's a little bit of Maine, a smidgen of New York, a touch of Connecticut, a whiff of Rhode Island, a hint of Florida and a heaping dollop of Boston.

They are at the tail end of the Boston Accent, and it is the main influence on year-round residents. Ask someone from the Cape to say "Yarmouth" or "Barnstable" if you need an example, although I'd recommend doing so once the Summer People leave.

Summer People come from all points of the globe, bringing their accents with them and sometimes staying for 1/3 of the year. This can be very influential, as most Cape towns double in population in the summer. Families in cottage neighborhoods tend to spread out among that neighborhood when the kids get older, meaning that a Brewster neighborhood may have a rather large bloc of people who speak with the same sub-species of a Noo Yawk accent.

Many other Cape Codders are snowbirds, meaning that they have some other strong influence on their speech for 6-10 months a year. This effect is compounded by the fact that so many of our Snowbirds do their thing in Florida. Fortunately, a lot of Florida's snowbird population comes from Massachusetts, so the tinge is weakened somewhat.

In short.. although "cosmopolitan" is not a term normally ascribed to Mashpee, it does technically fit. This is the best explanation I can give you for the differences between Boston and Cape Cod's accents.

The Kennedy clan wield the most famous version of the accent, although there is a heavy Boston influence. People under 40 may or may not know that "Diamond" Joe Quimby, the eternal mayor of Homer Simpson's Springfield, is doing a Kennedy impression. Between Quimby and the Kennedys, the Boston accent is sort of the American Politician accent.


Time changes many things. I sure look worse now than when I was a kid... and I wasn't a good-looking kid, believe me. Time also changes accents.

If you ever read "Cape Cod Folks," which was written about 1860s Southern Plymouth, you'll be amazed at the dialogue. People who live where my Hahvahd Yahd ass does used to talk like drawling ("Becky was mad, and wouldn't speak to teacher, along o' teacher's goin' with Beck's beau.") Maine people. I saw not one dropped R, and the author, a socialite English teacher from New York, would have noticed such a thing.

Like we said earlier, most of New England spoke with the Maine accent right up until it became fashionable in Boston to drop Rs after vowels. It took some time to drift out into the deep suburbs and rural areas.

I'm not old enough to do anything but guess at this, but I'd say that the South Shore started changing when Going To The Beach became a major American leisure activity. The changes accelerated when Route 3 was built, opening up the South Shore as a home for Boston workers.

When busing hit in the 1970s, anyone with money fled Boston. Much of the South Shore was undeveloped, or existed in cottage/cabin form. This changed, and most towns on the South Shore saw their population double from 1950 to 1980... some even doubled from 1970 to 1980.

This influx of Southie/Dorchester/Roxbury/Hyde Park people changed the phonic character of the South Shore. By the 1980s and perhaps long, long before, the South Shore was the second home for the Boston Accent.

There is a possibility that the South Shore may soon out-Boston Accent the actual people from Boston. Boston always has and will continue to draw immigrants, both from America and abroad. They will do so at a rate much, much higher than somewhere insular like Pembroke will. Southie is only 80% white, and is 8% black. Duxbury is 99.4% white. Southie is rapidly gentrifying, while Cohasset doesn't look that much different demographically than it did in 1986. This will change the Boston accent... in Boston.

That's right, folks.... we're really not that far from a day when a mob movie is being shot in Massachusetts, and people from Southie get turned down in casting because they don't sound "Southie"enough for the mob movie. This actually happened once (visually) with Dawson's Creek, a show about Cape Cod that was shot in North Carolina because Cape Cod didn't look Cape Cod enough for the producers). When that day comes, don't be shocked if the set of the gritty urban mob movie looks a lot like a Marshfield High School reunion.

I hunted for the South Shore accent all over those there Internets. I may eventually find what I'm looking for, but the best line I saw came in a so-bad-I-won't-link-to-it "People from California Try To Pronounce New England Town Names" video. Looking at "Scituate," some gnarly dude said "It looks like the degree you get if you study Science Fiction in college."

You may also enjoy this forum where someone moving to the South Shore posted a query as to "Which South Shore Town Do I Move To If I Don't Want My Kids To Get The Boston Accent?" Unfortunately for her, the answer is "Plymouth, 1835."

There are some differences between the coastal South Shore accent and the interior Plymouth County one, but they are minor enough that we won't bother with them unless a fight starts in the comments.

The best simple explanation is that the South Shore Accent is similar to the tourist-altered Cape Cod accent, but every tourist on the South Shore is from Hyde Pahhhhhk.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Reminder To Watch The Tropics

from Accuweather

Please note that there are about 30 or so projected paths for Tropical Storm Fiona showing there. One of them has it striking Cape Cod. That's about a 2-3% chance. It's most likely not going to happen.

In fact, if it did happen, it would happen with a storm that might not be too intense. Most present models have her as a Tropical Depression as she nears Bermuda. She has most likely reached peak intensity.

Still, even a 2% chance of a tropical storm making a landfall in Chatham is enough to make me mention it to the readers. I'm not sounding an alarm, just reminding you that it's time to watch the tropics.

My money has Fiona weakening, then curving out to sea without ever getting near us.

The two storms behind Fiona look like they may be more intense. One is a few days away from the Lesser Antilles, but they're not sure if it will even be organized by then. Another more powerful wave coming off of Africa already looks like a hurricane, but it is just a tropical wave. The latter wave is rolling through an area that is favorable for development.

We have no idea where they'll end up, and we'll worry about them later.

Check the radar and graphs here.

from the National Hurricane Center

Saturday, August 20, 2016

We Need The Reader's Help: Boston and Cape Cod Accents

We're fishing for help with an article we're doing on the range of the Boston Accent. Since all of America isn't using the Boston Accent, one must assume that the Boston Accent stops somewhere. If so, where does it happen, and what does it then become?

The Boston Accent is a tricky thing to explain, as is the cutoff point. Sometimes, when I can't word the preamble properly, I just transcribe Cranberry County Magazine staff conversations...

Stephen Bowden: "I moved from Dorchester to Quincy to Duxbury in a span covering about 5 years. When I went to school in Duxbury, I was almost immediately pulled from class and inserted into Speech Therapy, where they attempted to exorcise my Boston accent like it was demonic possession. I spent hours saying words like 'farther' and 'Jimmy Carter' over and over."

Stacey Monponsett: "I moved to Massachusetts from France as a child. I was initially disappointed that I hadn't landed in one of the cowboy regions. When I settled in Boston, I assumed that everyone in the city spoke like The Godfather, and that, once you drove out of the city a few miles, everyone spoke like Andy Griffith. I can recall being very frustrated when I moved into the suburbs and everyone still sounded like the Boston people. I then, having kept my disappointment to myself and not getting the opportunity to be corrected, assumed that you had to go to Western Massachusetts to get a cowboy accent. This delusion lasted until I went to Smith."

Cranberry Jones: "Why don't we stop in Fairhaven for lunch?"
Jessica Allen: "I grew up there, You're saying it wrong. It's not 'Fair-haven," it's 'Fuh-haven.'"
CJ: "'Fah-haven?'"
Jessica: "No, Fuh-haven."
CJ: "I grew up 20 miles from you. I can't believe that we differ this much phonetically."
Jessica: "Why don't we stop in New Bedford for lunch?"
CJ: "New Beffuh!"
Jessica: "Never mind. I'm no longer hungry."

Girl From Rural Kentucky At A Bourne Hotel: "Excuse me, Sir... would you talk to my friend for a moment?"
Stephen: "What do you want me to say?"
Kentucky: (laughs) "Whatever you want..."
Stephen: (taking phone) "Hey, how you doin'?"
Girl On Phone: "Are you an actor?"
Stephen: "No, I'm a reporter."
Girl On Phone: "Say 'Harvard isn't that far from Boston Harbor,' please"
Stephen: "'Harvard isn't that far from Boston Harbor.'"
Girl On Phone: "Well, I'll be dipped..."
Girl From Rural Kentucky: (grabbing phone from Stephen) "See? I told you it was real. Y'all owe me twenty dollars, bitch!"
Girl On Phone: (heard faintly) "I thought they just made that accent up for movies."

Stacey: "Being a French immigrant to Boston had one benefit.... I was the only one at AOL Sports who was able to say 'Brett Favre' effortlessly. His last name is sort of like how Americans say 'five,' but not really."
Abdullah: "Southerners add a syllable, I bet."
Stacey: (performs the worst Southern accent ever) "Fav-ruh."
Abdullah "All of those 'R' sounds that Boston people drop? They are sent to Texas, and put into words like 'wash.'"

America is a land of great diversity. You can have a Cape Verdean girl hand you Mexican food on the Irish Riviera, or you could French-kiss a Russian escort girl at a Swedish massage parlor... all in Massachusetts. This diversity ranges into Accents, and America must have thousands of them.

Several of these accents stand out. California, holding a coast that is about Georgia to Boston, probably has a thousand other regional accents aside from the Valley Girl one... but not if I just shut my mind to the possibility. Southerners have their own thing going on. Anyone with a TV has probably heard the Noo Yawk accent, and perhaps can even differentiate between it and the Lon-Guy-Land accent.

This differentiation leads into today's theme... Is there a difference between the Boston accent and the Cape Cod accent? If there is, where does it begin to assert itself? Does the South Coast favor one or the other, or do they have their own thing? Where do places like Maine and Rhode Island fit into this?

We're seeking your feedback on the matter. We'd like informed opinions, wild guesses, "I've lived in all three" sort of observations, lines of demarcation, bad jokes/puns, "I'm from here and my wife is from there" Mars/Venus tangents, "I'm from Connecticut and you're all goofy-sounding" disses and whatever else might pop into your head.

Feel free to take advantage of this page's COMMENTS feature, or you can drop some knowledge in the comments section of whatever Facebook group you saw this article in. We won't quote anyone directly, unless they get off a good line. I'll try to chase down a linguistic expert while you're doing that, and we'll see what sort of non-rhotic fun we can have later this week. We thank you in advance for your help.

It just occurred to me that there are 6 billion or so people on the planet, and I am most likely the only one thinking "Where do you find a Boston linguistics expert on an August weekend?"

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Marshfield Fair, And Carnivals In General

August 19 - 28, 2016

Open Noon - 10 pm daily

It's time for the Marshfield Fair!

The jewel of Marsh Vegas is the 149th running of the legendary agricultural fair. The first one went down 2 years after the US Civil War ended, and nothing could stop it since.

It serves up an awesome combo platter of rides, fried food, games, animals, freak shows, demolition derbies, music, wrestling... you're not going to be bored at the Marshfield Fair.

The only way that you can be more Americana than the Marshfield Fair is if you travel back in time and get a thang goin' on with George Washington and/or Betsy Ross. Carnivals and agricultural fairs have been around in some form since before America was America. I wouldn't be surprised to know that a 5 year old Thomas Jefferson was running around happy/wild at some sort of travelling fair.

"Carnival" is a term that basically means "merrymaking before Lent." The modern travelling carnival has strayed from her religious base to be more of a seasonal thing. The Marshfield Fair, while definitely holding 100% legit agricultural fair status, is in the Travelling Carnival subgroup.

The modern carnival has many parents. The travelling circus is a direct ancestor, but Vaudeville, burlesque, and gypsies also get into the mix. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair was very influential, They had a whole section of the grounds devoted to rides, games of chance, freak shows, Wild West shows and even the first Ferris Wheel.

The public ate it up, and people began to develop similar events that could be taken on the road. There were 17 travelling fairs (I think Marshfield is included in this number) in the US during 1902, and there were 300 by 1937.

The difference between megaparks like Disneyland or Six Flags and a travelling carnival is that the carny rides are smaller, and can be broken down for quick transport.  Disneyworld is rooted to the spot they're in, while I'm pretty sure that the same carny stuff that is in Marsh Vegas today was in Barnstable last month and will be in Topsfield by October or so. Many carnivals cover a lot of territory, being a spring/autumn event in the South before/after moving North in the summer months.

Marshfield has been running their Fair in August for as long as I can remember. This lengthy Fair history page that I have no intention of reading all the way through says that it was a September event before Marshfield became a seasonal resort area. This owes to the agricultural roots of the fair.

It is the big shin-dig every summer if you're a South Shore kid. July 3rd owns July, and the Marshfield Fair owns August. I'm sure that a parent from 1868 would sympathize with a time-travelling 2016 parent as their kids ran wild around the same fairgrounds. Some things never change.

It's a useful calibration tool for locals, and it gives Marshfield instant name recognition in the region. Someone from Weymouth or Brockton may never have been to Duxbury or Middleboro, and I managed to live 10 miles from Monponsett without ever having heard Monponsett mentioned until a realtor showed me a house there... but every kid on the South Shore has been to Marshfield, usually during mid-August.

It is a popular event. I have the numbers for 2006's Fair, and they come up at around 180,000 paying customers. The town profits from the influx of visitors, less in a hotel sense than in a gas/supper/smokes/passing-through sense. I know someone who makes about $5000 a year by letting people park on his lawn.

It's a people-watcher's paradise. You get a fine cross-section of the South Shore population base. Also be sure to check out the carnies.

Carnies are the people who work the fairs. They're a strange migrant horde who speak their own language. Much of it is from back when the carnivals were more of a gilded theft. The language is secretive, and it evolves enough that if you know the term, it's already out of date.

"Mark," which I first heard ascribed to wrestling fans, is from the carnival. If a game operator found a sucker ("rube"), he'd pat his back with a chalked hand, leaving a "mark" that other game operators could identify the man by.

Fairs are known for their rides, which are today's main attraction. Marshfield has all sorts of them. We'll try to get some pictures later, but the better ones are the Ferris Wheel, the Funhouse (Vegas usually has it more as a haunted house), the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Round-up, the Vomit Spewer, the Child Decapitator and a dozen other rides that i have no intention of getting on.

I took this girl Julie to the Marshfield Fair once, after dinner at the Ming Dynasty. I didn't hurl on the Sno-Bobs or whatever that ride is called, but I also did nothing more daring than slink through the petting zoo afterwards. I had to go back with her (and her sister Ashley) a few days later, so she could go on rides with someone who had courage. I did hurl at Rocky Point once, but we're not going there.

We do plan on doing a Game Of Chance article where we share tips on how to beat Carny Games, but we're running a bit behind. I still have to learn how to beat these games, I'm pretty much that Mark you read about. A marginally-bright Carny will outfox me 8 days a week.

Avoiding the rides gives me more time to focus on food. I rarely eat Fried Dough outside of Carnival context these days. I might rip a chunk off the kid's cotton candy if I can do so with stealth. I'm all in on caramel apples, funnel cake and vinegar fries. If someone's serving Fried Twinkies, I'm eating Fried Twinkies. I'm not opposed to a fried chicken stand attack, although I have never and will never eat a Corn Dog. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

The sad part, as you saw from my date with Julie, is that I try to go out to dinner before the Fair, so I don't go crazy and overeat.

Here are some events that will be the Marshfield Fair this week:

Friday, August 19
    1, 3, 5 pm - Ox Pulling
    6-10 pm - Family Music Festival
     7 pm - Demolition Derby
                sponsored by Rockland Trust
The Marshfield Farmer Market is still on at the Town Hall Green. Friday 2-6

Saturday, August 20
     1 - 8 pm -New England Country Music Day
     2 pm - Truck Pulling
                       sponsored by Tiny & Sons
     2 pm - Team Penning
      7 pm - Truck Pulling
                         sponsored by Tiny & Sons
               (For Truck Pulling information contact
                    Eric Burgess at 508-456-4316)

Sunday, August 21
      1 - 9 pm - 20th Green Harbor Roots Festival
      2 pm - Truck Pulling
                        sponsored by Tiny & Sons
     2 pm - Team Penning
     7 pm - Truck Pulling
                         sponsored by Tiny & Sons
                   (For Truck Pulling information contact
                     Eric Burgess at 508-456-4316)

Monday, August 22
     5:30 pm - N.E. Indie Rock Competition (click here for application)
    7 pm - Demolition Derby Figure 8
                sponsored by Rockland Trust

Tuesday, August 23
     Senior Day
       sponsored by Sullivan Tire
     2 pm - Music by Reminisce
     5:30 pm - Masters of the Mini Motocross
    7 pm - Music by Reminisce

Wednesday, August 24
     4-H & Agricultural Awareness Day
    12 pm - Motocross Time Trials
    2, 4, 6 pm - Horse Pulling
    5:30 pm - N.E. Indie Rock Competition (click here for application)
     6 pm - Supercross Competition (Motocross)

Thursday, August 25
     Children's Day
        sponsored by AFC Urgent Care
     7 pm - Kristen Merlin
     7 pm - Demolition Derby
                  sponsored by Rockland Trust

Friday, August 26
     5:30 pm -N.E. Indie Rock Competition - Finals
    7 pm - 7th Annual 4-H Benefit Auction
    7 pm - Demolition Derby - Finals
               sponsored by Rockland Trust

Saturday, August 27                                  
     12 - 8 pm -21st Annual North River Blues Festival
     12 pm - Marshfield Fair Versatility on Horseback
    7 pm - Demolition Derby Figure 8 Finals
                  sponsored by Rockland Trust

Sunday, August 28
    12 - 6 pm - Antique Truck & Tractor Show
   11:30 - 5 pm - Tractor Pull
   12 - 8 pm -21st Annual North River Blues Festival
   1, 2:30 pm - Pony Pull
   6 pm - Lawn Mower Racing


Children 6 & Under

  Noon - 10 pm

No Pets Allowed
Except Guide Dogs

Marshfield Fair
140 Main Street
Marshfield, MA
(781) 834-6629
(781) 834-6620
(781) 834-6750

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Breaking News: Secret Martha's Vineyard Meeting Between Obamas And Clintons

picture from ABC 

Cranberry County Magazine is hardly a media conglomerate. However, we do have our spies. From Fall River to Falmouth, from Weymouth to Wellfleet... we have eyes everywhere. We even have some people on Martha's Vineyard. which is where today's story comes from.

Several sources have reported that a heavily disguised Hillary Clinton arrived in Martha's Vineyard yesterday for a clandestine meeting with President Barack Obama.

The meeting between the standing President and the 2016 election front-runner happened at Detente, a tony Edgartown bistro. While the restaurant was cleared out by the Secret Service (several patrons had to be stomped and tasered), the food doesn't cook and serve itself, and you'd be amazed at what a waitress will admit to having heard if you pay for her cocaine over 29 hours.

The gist of the story is that Obama and his former SecState are preparing an October Surprise... not just to knock Donald Trump out of the race, but to inflict massive damage upon the GOP as a whole.

Here are the basics of it:

The ascension of a former Wrestlemania participant (and, unlike when Minnesota elected Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the GOP has chosen a grappler with no political experience) to the head of the GOP has presented the Libbers with the opportunity to win not only 2016, but a whole generation.

Trump overwhelmed an underwhelming GOP field in the primaries, seized the nomination over the efforts of his own party, humbled the beaten-down House Speaker and now makes GOP policy off of the top of his head over Twitter.

What primarily drives Trump is his ego. That ego is the Maginot Line into which Clinton and Obama will launch their drang nach westen.

Trump rode a wave of discontent into the GOP nomination. He did a lot of insult comic work, made some outrageous promises, singled out some unpopular minorities and belittled the liberals. That works when fishing for votes in the banjo states, but it doesn't seem to be gaining momentum nationally.

People are looking at Trump vs Hillary and they are using the L word. Not love, not liberal, not lesbian, not Latino... but Landslide. Many/most polls are giving Clinton a double digit lead, and a notoriously sexist Trump is faced with the prospect of getting a nation-wide bitch-slapping from a Pantsuit Patty.

It can only get worse. Clinton, a more nuanced pol than Donald (low bar, granted) was vetted for free by the GOP for the last 4 years or so. They went at her with both fists, and their efforts (which have now sunk into conspiracy theories that have Hillary as a serial killer with 40-50 victims) currently have her as a double-digit favorite.

Hillary is also not in office now, and can create no more disasters that she may need to defend herself from. Her reputation is as low as it is going to get. She'd be very well-served by just hiding from now until November, something that her disguised arrival on the Vineyard yesterday (she was dressed as R&B diva Mary J. Blige) points to. Keep in mind that "as low as her reputation can get" today means "10 point lead in the polls."

Trump, meanwhile, seems to be about as high as he's going to get. He has the billionaire vote, he should own the gun vote, he is the main man of the anti-immigrant crowd, and he is by far the more charismatic candidate ( in the words of some comic I wish I could remember the name of, when Hillary appears on television she involuntarily and unconsciously makes your mouse hand start sliding to the SKIP THIS AD part of the screen  even if Hillary isn't being broadcast on your computer). This seems to be good for 35-45% of the national vote... if you believe in today's polling methods.

Trump seems to have political ADHD. He picks fights with the parents of dead soldiers. He somehow has polled a negative 5%  among Latinos. You can check out his (third) wife's nude pics online, there may even be some lesbian stuff. He mocks the handicapped, he belittles POWs, he seems to hate babies, and he still has 90 days or so to offend other groups of people. Most of his own party doesn't want anything to do with him.

He's not going to go much higher (unless he has an October Surprise of his own, of course), and the possibility of the bottom falling out is looming quite large. He could suffer a Nixon/McGovern 49-1 crusher, although the more likely result would be an LBJ/Goldwater-style blitz where Donald only wins Army Of Northern Virginia states.

Trump is a rich man, and the GOP is the rich man's party. If he steps up and Hillary slaps him down, he's not going to be able to show his face in any place fancier than an Arby's or a Golden Corrall. That's sort of his power base anyhow, but he didn't enter this campaign so that he can be the most popular guy at the KFC.

His best option at redemption among the billionaire crowd may indeed rest on preparing Ivanka for a 2024 catfight with the she'll-be-ready-by-then Chelsea Clinton. If his daughter becomes the second Trump to bow before a Clinton in combat, Donald may not be alive by the time that Barron is ready to take on the non-stoner Obama daughter in 2032.

Donald is that rare dog who finally caught the car he was chasing, only to be looking like a good bet to get pancaked by it.

He needs an Out, and he doesn't appear to have one at his disposal. This is something that was discussed in great detail, and it is why we have our entire staff staking out landing strips and docks on Martha's Vineyard right now. There are rumors that Trump is coming to town to try to get better terms.

The Clinton/Obama plan calls for Trump to drop out of the race. He will admit that he was a liberal sleeper agent all the time, and he will denounce a Republican Party that has crapped all over him anyhow. He will bury, by means fair and foul, anyone who may be written in as a last-second GOP candidate. He will drive a wedge between his voter base and the GOP, and his defection will be felt all the way down the ballot. He will do this on the first Monday of November.

To insure this plan, the Clinton/Obama axis is prepared to make the Donald an offer large enough to make refusal impossible. Among the terms of the deal will be:

- Immediate dismissal of any suits involving any Trump brand.

- While a Mexico wall will not be built, the entire southern borders running between California and Texas will be re-fashioned as a Komodo Dragon habitat.

- Overwhelming and decisive intervention in the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars. Donald Trump will be appointed as military governor in the newly-formed OPEC nation of "Syriraq." He will have no mandate other than to "clean this place up." All future oil revenue from Syriaq would go to pay the off the US federal debt.

- The White House will be bulldozed, and replaced with a Trump-designed modern building. No expense will be spared... diamond chandeliers, ivory doorknobs, gold walls, mink bathtubs..... you name it.

- The $500 bill will be re-introduced, and it will have Donald Trump on it. In honor of Cheeto Jesus, the bill will have an orange tint similar to that seen on the $500 bill in Monopoly.

Should Trump submit to the plan, the Democrats would seize control of political power for a generation. Hillary and Obama will set themselves up a dynasty that essentially runs from 1992 to 2048 or so, with a mere 8 year interruption of a dimwitted Bush failure.

By the time the GOP rebuilt itself, the libbers would have named all of SCOTUS justices, they'd have 100% tax reform, they'd have crushed Islam's baddest bad boys while concurrently scaring anyone else who may disagree with us, and they'd have liberal reforms in education, trade, science, energy and you name it. All of it would be dictated to us by five members of two families... and that is if Michelle doesn't throw herself into the mix.

As for Trump:

- His defection saves him from sending a 500 point Electoral College whipping through eternity with his name at the bottom. Ego problem, solved.

- It gives him some people to govern who he might just grow fond of over time... and perhaps even vice-versa. Donald does have an odd charisma. At worst, he keeps his promise to crush ISIS.

- He fixes the budget. Promise, kept.

- He gets to crumble up the Republican party that scorned him and toss it over his shoulder into the bonfire of history. Winning.

- He gets to claim Daddy status over whatever the GOP reforms itself into. More winning.

- While he doesn't stop illegal immigration, he insures that those who do make it here deserve to make it here. That's a semi-kept promise, not a bad thing to get from a politician or a businessman in this Year Of Our Lord 2016.

- He secures his tree-hugger bona fides by moving Komodo Dragons from "Threatened" status to the lesser-known "Amazingly well-fed" status. He never promised that, but it might help him with the jury of History.

- He becomes the immediate winner of Most Influential Private Citizen Ever. Ego, refreshed!

- His name replaces "Willie Horton" as the term for a political dirty trick. That's admirable, in some circles.

- While he never lives there, the White House becomes his house. He wins by Technicality.

Charles I would marvel at the decapitation strike that was discussed on Martha's Vineyard yesterday.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Plymouth Yard Monster

I live in Buzzards Bay, I have a girl who works off Exit 3 in Plymouth, and I spend time hanging with some buddies who live in the White Cliffs. I end up driving down Long Pond Road in Plymouth a lot.

A nine foot Yeti in someone's yard is going to draw some attention. This is especially true once summer comes and the Yeti pours himself a gallon-of-booze cocktail and starts dressing like Hunter S. Thompson.

The journalist part of me wants to stop and knock on the door, ask the homeowner what made him/her put a Yeti in the yard and a dozen other related questions. The storyteller part of me has no intention of ever asking, because anyone who has written five thousand headlines in their career knows that, more often than not, the Question is better than the Answer.

Besides, media attention might make the Yeti owner become self-conscious. That would be a shame, because it could stifle creativity. Why mess up a part of my day that I enjoy?

Besides, stifled creativity would rob us of the chance to see what the Yeti owner might do next. You never know, he may put a toga on it and use it to let people know the current Olympics medals count

Wait, what?

Note that the Yard Yeti is in no way related to the Yard Ape, who is a jacked-up landscaper named Lappa that I used to work with.

I'm curious as to whether the Yard Yeti chooses a side in November's election.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other....

"Cranberry County" is a sweeping term that we use to cover the South Shore, the South Coast, Cape Cod and the Islands. It's a relatively homogeneous area.

While great differences exist from town-to-town (and even from one section of a town to another), they are a degree of Great where the differences might not be so apparent if you aren't from the region.

While people from Duxbury may think of people from Marshfield as a lower species of talking ape, we all look alike to someone from Angola.

However, the differences are often extraordinary when examined by a local.

Some of the differences are socioeconomic, some are racial, some are urban/suburban, some are ageist (not sure if that's a word, but it is now) and some are so subtle that I'm not sure what they are and I am only writing about them because I am aware that some locals feel that differences exist.

We'll see what's up with these differences... this week, in Cranberry County Magazine!

Plymouth and the Pinehills

Plymouth is a huge town. It is the largest municipality in Massachusetts. It has more land area than Boston and Worcester combined, with Everett, Charlestown and Somerville thrown in.

A working understanding of Population Density can explain the population differences between Boston and Plymouth, and that means a lot here. Much of Plymouth is rural or even undeveloped.

It's not as bad Now as it was Then. Much of Southern Plymouth was forest until recently. There were parts of the forest that had higher Wampanoag population totals than White Guy totals. Population booms in towns just north of Plymouth in the 1970s showed that maybe the limits of "tolerable commute from Boston" had not been reached yet. Many developers noticed this.

Soon enough, you had some massive building projects going on down there in the hinterlands. The 12.4 kilometer land area of the Pinehills neighborhood is about the same size as Arlington, Massachusetts (population: 44,000). The Ponds Of Plymouth neighborhood is large enough that it redrew a Congressional district. Both of these areas were literally carved out of the forest.

The Pinehills have 3000 homes, many of which are Luxury homes. They pay $9.5 million in taxes, making them the second largest taxpayer in town after the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant ($9.7 million in 2011, the Pinehills may have passed them).... and the PNPP ain't in town for the long term, Jack. The Pinehills are the proverbial 9.5 million pound gorilla, and that influence will skyrocket soon enough.

The arrival of these heavyweights forever changed the landscape of Southern Plymouth. Formerly a ponds-driven resort community dotted with cottages and cabins (a Boston Globe article said that the Pinehills area was "only good for hunting" before development), the formerly uninhabited areas- consisting of sort of Cedarville, sort of West Wind Shores Shores, sort of Manomet, and really none of the above- bleed over into the Irish Riviera-influenced coastline.

The long-term, pre-Pinehills residents of the area seem pretty cool about the arrival of the luxury housing. The Pinehills are generally self-sufficient, and were dropped down where they aren't in anyone's way. Most recognize that people paying $10 million a year in taxes are worth whatever problems may arise with traffic, population density and water concerns.

The one form of resentment that I saw (and I went trolling for Pinehills hatred on several area-themed Facebook pages) involved the belief that the Pinehills live in their own little world. It is very self-contained, having their own shops, gas stations and even a fire station. Pinehills people have very little reason to mix in among the rabble, and everybody knows it. "It's like a town unto itself" was a prevailing sentiment.

It does make you wonder when the Pinehills people and the Ponds Of Plymouth people will realize that they are carrying a large % of the town's tax burden on their shoulders, and maybe strike out on their own? Annex Cedarville's White Cliffs neighborhood for beach access, swallow up some pond neighborhoods for future gentrification... and then secede. They could probably apply for admission to Cape Cod, if they keep the Median Household Income high enough.

Google Map that ish and tell me that I'm not on to something. Sounds like a good future article.

Duxbury and the Irish Riviera 

Duxbury is a tony town of 15,000 souls, and the folks from other local towns call it "Deluxebury."

While the wealth is not ostentatious (if you drive through town expecting to find Versailles on every block, you'll be disappointed), everybody on the South Shore knows what's up. It even drifts out to the Cape. Radio talk-show host Ed Lambert from WXTK, who works in Hyannis and lives further out on the Cape, always says "Deluxebury" when referring to the Plymouth County town.

So, in posh Deluxebury, what's up with that sandy cottage village on the ocean side of the Powder Point Bridge? Why, it's none other than Duxbury's little slice of the Irish Riviera!

The Irish Riviera is a strip of often seasonal coastal housing built more along cottage standards than as a place where you might think about hanging a chandelier. It is a distinct cultural entity which runs mostly unchanged down the Massachusetts coast from Quincy to the edge of Cape Cod.

Access to Boston via Route 3 in the 1950s and especially the Boston Busing Crisis of the 1970s doubled the population of most South Shore towns. This made the Irish Riviera more of a year-round thing.

While Duxbury Beach is mostly uninhabited, what inhabitants there are stand firmly in the camp of the Irish Riviera. Heavily blue collar, overwhelmingly Catholic, generally seasonal and very, very Irish (my friends growing up there included Kerrigans, Branns, McDaniels, Deehans, McLaughlins, Duffys  and several spellings of "Reed")  the residents differ noticeably from the Pilgrim descendants roaming through Duxbury Proper.

I grew up on Duxbury Beach, and most of my classmates instantly recognized me as a non-native Duxburian. Many of them to this day think that I grew up in Marshfield, either literally or culturally.

The neighborhood is slowly being gentrified, as wealthier people buy up cottages and jam as much lumber as they can into the footprint of the original cottage. Property values soar, and the blue collar Irish Riviera crowd will be squeezed out of the neighborhood by whatever they call Yuppies these days. Many of my old neighbors (I migrated to the Cape a dozen years ago) tell me that it isn't the same neighborhood these days.

For now, however, the Irish Riviera still runs through Duxbury.

Note that Mosquito Village very nearly took the Duxbury section of this article, but I went for my old neighborhood as a sort of professional courtesy.

Brockton and the South Shore

Duxbury Beach is the story of an Irish-American, Boston-to-suburbia exodus. Brockton is an older tale, and it involves putting shoes on people.

Brockton was originally a part of Duxbury, but you wouldn't guess that now. They are completely unalike. It's a lot like the old George Carlin "baseball is pastoral, football is technological" routine. Duxbury is suburban, almost rural. Brockton is urban. Duxbury is very white. Brockton is very black. Duxbury has a small population over a large land area, while Brockton jams a lot of people into a small space. Duxbury is wealthy, Brockton is poor. Duxbury kids are pampered, Brockton kids are among the toughest in the world.

Duxbury is basically like every other town in Plymouth County.... Brockton, uhm, isn't.

How did that come to be?

Brockton's position on the Salisbury Plain River allowed it to operate mills, and these mills expanded steadily throughout the early Industrial era.  While the Carvers and Marshfields of the area were primarily farming communities with sparse peopling, Brockton's burgeoning industries (by the time of the Civil War, they were America's leading manufacturer of shoes) produced a high-density, urban entity.

The differences soon became apparent. Wareham is a good-sized Plymouth County town, home to 22,000 people in 2010. Brockton had that reached that population in 1875. By 2010, Brockton (93,000 peope or so) made up about 20% of Plymouth County's nearly half million residents... jammed into 2% of the land area.

As you may have guessed, very few of those people are white millionaires who prefer to live in a triple-decker with two Dominican families. The median income in Brockton is about $21K, well below the Plymouth County's $35K. 14% of Brockton residents are below the poverty line, as opposed to 4-6% in Plymouth County... which, I hate to add, includes the Brockton numbers as 20% of the total.

Brockton kids are as tough as it gets. Two of Brockton's residents have ruled very competitive and prestigious boxing weight classes in the last 50 years or so, no mean feat for a city that is just 1 of the 25,375 cities, towns and incorporated places in the US. If your town's "notable residents" has "Marvin Hagler" listed, and he isn't the immediate undisputed answer for the "toughest guy who ever walked these streets" argument... you live in a pretty tough town, my friend.

This is funny, because if you went to Central Casting and asked for a typical Plymouth County resident, you'd probably get some butter-soft Cohasset trust fund WASP.

Brockton provides almost all of Plymouth County's street credibility, sporting a robust 43.1 black majority.  Plymouth County's 7-8% blackness is almost entirely based in Brockton. Duxbury, holding down the other side of the see-saw, is .6% black. Duxbury does rank above Brockton in "drive-by shootings of a prominent rapper."

The Wedge and Hyannis Port

Following the Rich Man, Poor Man theme, let's carve up a region where the Kennedy Compound and a very busy Salvation Army center are 5000 feet apart.

"The Wedge" is a part of Hyannis that has a higher poverty/crime rate than her surrounding neighborhoods. It is the area south of Route 28 around where the Cape Cod Mall is. It forms a sort of Triangle, which draws unfortunate comparisons to the ones in Bermuda and Bridgewater.

It hosts a goodly portion of Cape Cod's poor, and some of them are lacking Camelot levels of cash flow. There is also a lively drug trade at work in the region, and you can get your hat handed to you if you mess with the wrong group of people.

It's not Roxbury. You could put on a shirt made of money and walk through the toughest part of the Wedge yelling threats at midnight, and your chances of survival would be a healthy 46%.  It would be about .46% if you did it in certain parts of Dorchester, and it would only get that high because a good portion of Americans believe that the gods speak through the mentally ill.

The Wedge (aka "Captain's Quarters) is not as bad as this article makes it out to be, an article where the author urges Zero Tolerance/Shock And Awe tactics on a neighborhood about the size of a mall, but you have to view things in their proper context.

Not that far down the road, you have a Summer White House, perhaps the most well-known one ever. It's where Jackie O and JFK got in the yacht and had those "How many butlers and maids should we hire this summer" conversations that you and I don't have.

I doubt that, when Jackie O was deciding which one of her hats to wear, she ever said "Oh dear, I'd better not go with blue, it could be mistaken for Crip affiliation five blocks over. Someone might blow my husband's head off."

Note that we almost went with Onset Waterfront/Shangri-La for a Wareham tangent, but the article is getting lengthy. Both towns battle over the "Brockton-by-the-sea" nickname, with "Sea Lowell" and "she's like a baby Lynn" also in the mix in SE Massachusetts conversations about the 'Ham. I personally know a guy in Wareham who has performed more murders in his travels than the entire town of Duxbury has suffered for as far back as my admittedly-shoddy memory goes.

Chatham and Harwich

Here's one of those comparisons that makes no sense to an out-of-towner. I live on Cape Cod, too... albeit the Upper Cape. I consider this to be close to a family-style dispute that anyone with a brain stays out of. So, into the dispute we go...

The differences between these two towns are piddling, if that's the right word. Chatham has a $45K median income, while Harwich is at 41K. That's like, uhm, $80 a week or so, no? Chatham and Harwich are 95-96% white. They are both tourist-dependent, like a junkie and the smack. If you say something stupid at a tavern about fishing or driving a boat or lobstering in either town, there will be no shortage of people willing to correct you.

I list them here because I recall there being some acrimony when they regionalized the schools and created Monomoy High School. I voted for Charwich (which would have given restaurants in both towns the opportunity to create a hyper-local sandwich), but I'm not a resident.

I think that the beef was over how to fund the high school. Harwich is just about twice as large as Chatham, and the financial split may have been less than fair originally.

There may also be questions about the rate of development and the changing face of the Outer Cape. In 1960, Chatham had 3273 residents, and Harwich had 3747 residents. Harwich then almost tripled their population by 1990, while Chatham barely doubled theirs. I should add that these differences vanish quickly when Chatham's summer population skyrockets to 30K and Harwich moves past 40K. Then, they just all hate summer people.

There is an element of two twins fighting over which one is prettier here, but I think that I may have overestimated the acrimony that exists between the two towns. If I missed some point of contention, hit me up in the comments.

Gurnet/Saquish and the Post-Industrial Era

Whatever problems Brockton may have, somebody at least was decent enough to run a power line through town. You don't need an off-road vehicle to get around. A really big wave doesn't cut it off from the rest of the word.

Residents of Gurnet Point and Saquish Head have those problems. The cool part? They like it that way.

Way out on the end of Duxbury Beach (it's actually Plymouth, but that would only confuse you if you were looking for it on a map), there are two tiny villages.

They have no electricity out there, and survive on firewood, propane, solar and wind energy. It is as Cottage as any beach gets around here, or pretty much anywhere.

Many who see it up close think that it may just be the greatest place ever, myself included. If you take away the Jeeps, it's basically 1850 until you look in the cottages and see laptops, portable radios and newspapers writing about a black US President, space shuttles and so forth.

They're aware of the modern world, so it's not like that M. Night Shyamalan (?) village movie out there. It'd never work... not enough trees. They could see modern stuff, including a nuclear reactor, just across the bay in Plymouth proper. You could maybe pull it off with a bunch of fog machines, but a good wind might spoil the ruse.


They're here at the end because I have always admired how they worked out the naming thing. Chatham and Harwich have Monomoy to fall back on when circumstance forces them to team up. D-Y found another way.

Simply put... the high school is known as Dennis-Yarmouth, and the baseball team in the Cape League is known as Yarmouth-Dennis. D-Y is in effect for more months of the year, but Y-D is in effect when the population is at the highest point.

Everything balances, and everyone goes home happy.

Speaking of which, I'm out of towns. Let me know who we forgot!

Thanks to Heidi Woodmansee Sullivan, Kerri Yankovicth-Smith (Marine Mom!), Scott Rodrigues and the Duxbury Beach Resident's Association for help with the pics.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Skill Crane Knowledge And Etiquette

Granted, there's a Presidential campaign going on and we're fighting ISIL in the Middle East, but there are other important things that we have to discuss today.

Somewhere in your town, there is a Skill Crane. If your town doesn't have one, the place that you go shopping does. They're ubiquitous.

A skill crane (aka Claw Crane, Giant Claw and Big Grab) looks simple and innocuous, but it is actually steeped in history and has been the subject of some legal debate.

During the construction of the Panama Canal, the public became fascinated with pictures of steam shovels used to dig the vast trench. For a nation that was 45 years removed from having slaves, Irish or coolies doing that sort of work, a steam shovel was a pretty neat thing. This was pre-Internet, kids.

Soon, this fascination inspired some brilliant human to make machines that featured a big claw dropping into a vat of candy and getting a sweet for the person who dropped a coin in it. Someone else threw in a few flashing lights, some bells, some whistles....Voila! The modern Skill Crane was born.

Known as an Erie Crane, a Panama Claw and the Iron Claw (this was pre-Von Erichs, and the Iron Claw crane may have inspired VE patriarch Fritz when naming his family's signature finishing move), the skill crane started working itself into any place with tourists. A version known as the you'd-better-pronounce-that-carefully "Miami Digger" began to appear at carnivals, and soon became the most popular kind of claw crane.

The machines stayed popular through the years. The NFL even took the step of loading machines with little team footballs, just to get the free advertising among a vulnerable demographic.

Skill Cranes then went to that next level in the 1980s, following right on the heels of the arcade video game craze. They had a prominent presence among Pizza Hut restaurants. By the 1990s, they were in K-Marts, Wal-Marts and perhaps every arcade operating.

Skill cranes tend to be stuffed with plush toys/stuffed animals these days, rather than the shelf life-having candy prizes. There are many varieties of both cranes and prizes. Most have a joystick with a drop button, and you have a 30 second timer.

You most likely know this already, unless you're like Amish or something. I can still learn you up, though... I am a skill crane expert. I won the 1986 Maine Crane championships, scooping a Higgs boson particle in the finals to defeat the former champ, Elmer "Glue" Carew.

There are several things that I can tell you to both help you win, and to help you win with honor.

1) If there are children waiting to play, let them go first. It's a kids game, remember... and besides, the little suckers might loosen up some toys for you to win afterwards. Kids have more of a toy-level view of the game, and sometimes miss things that a taller player will notice instantly.

2) If the machine plays some annoying song and is in any setting other than an arcade... don't bother the patrons and staff.

3) Skill matters very little, as you have no way of knowing what tension you need to apply to pry loose a prize. Some attorneys have advised claw machine companies to not use the word Skill when naming their machines, as it could present future legal trouble. Regulations vary from state to state, with many states treating the crane as a form of gambling. Cranes are illegal in Canada unless you A) win every time, or B) get multiple turns for your money.

4) While there is more prestige in snagging a high-profile stuffed animal like Scooby Doo and so forth, they are generally harder to get. A few Scoobies can offset a lot of lesser-known or generic stuffed animals as far as Presentation goes, and the guy stuffing the crane doesn't want to give up high profile characters without a fight. He is also motivated by the fact that a Batman toy costs more than a generic toy.

5) If the character that you're after has feet, make sure you can see them. Otherwise, even if you get the Kung Fu Panda by the head, his feet will pull him back in when they hit another plush toy.

6) While it's tempting to try to grab Alf by the head, it's better to get one hook under his throat and one under his arm. This may tip Alf, making him easier to grab in the event of you needing a second crack at him.

7) Never go for items near the glass. It prevents tipping, which is as important as grabbing in Crane work. For the same reason, never go for items right near the chute that winning prizes are dropped down. You don't want to be fighting any sort of barrier when contesting ownership of Wolverine.

8) Never be afraid to give the machine a little bump before you play. It may loosen up some items, and it may even knock one into the chute if you do it right. Just don't do it after you put your money in, it may have a TILT failsafe seen in pinball machines.

9) Several brands of crane have joysticks that can only be moved towards you once, and to a side once. Avoid these, unless the prizes are irresistible. As you should know by now, the Man plays dirty.

10) If you win the prize and you're an adult, it should play out like catching a foul ball at Fenway... hold up the prize, get some adulation, and then toss it over to the nearest kid. I just yesterday gave up Tom Cat from Tom & Jerry to a sweet-looking little girl at Papa Gino's in Wareham, where I was abusing that Skill Crane like Joan Collins.
Bonne Chance!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bus Breaks Down On Sagamore Bridge Offramp

If you're waiting for someone on the P&B bus Friday night, you may be waiting a while.

The bus broke down on the Sagamore off-ramp from Route 3 South.

They brought in another bus for the passengers, and had it cleared by 11:30 PM.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Stuff A Bus For Plymouth Public Schools!

It may seem summery now, but some people are already preparing for the school year.

Plymouth Public Schools and the Independence Mall Kingston Collection are doing what they can to get school gear for needy children. They are doing so via a clever program that both gathers supplies and shows off some new technology.

A new propane-powered bus will be parked in the Kingston Collection with the windows open. Anyone interested in donating supplies can just toss those supplies through the open bus windows.

You want to keep your donations to a certain size. While I'm sure that many teachers would love a new desk, I cant see you getting one through those little school bus windows. I also wouldn't toss anything glassy in there, at least until donations pick up and the bus floor acquires a little padding.

Whatever goods are gotten will go to the Superintendent, who will split them up Even Steven among the different schools in town.

We threw a bag of something in there. I'm not sure what it was, as the division of labor in my family is firmly defined. Jessica handles the shopping part, I handle the tossing-bags-into-school-bus-windows part.

The bus will be in the mall through August 29th.