More Images From Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown

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Another day, another set of classic wooden vessel pictures from Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown, MD. Enjoy the slideshow!

Published in: on October 30, 2010 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Love Tall Ships! Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown

So, I rolled out of bed this morning, took a shower, brushed my teeth, walked to Dunkin Donuts for a blueberry coffee and then wandered to the Chester River waterfront here in Chestertown. This weekend, in addition to being Halloween, is the Schooner Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend celebration of the end of the season for tall ships. Docked along the water in Chestertown are a nice array of classic vessels, including the Kalmar Nyckel out of Wilmington, DE, The Pride of Baltimore II, the skipjack Elsworth, the John Smith Shallop that sailed up the Bay in honor of the 400th anniversary of Smith’s voyage a couple years ago, and a bunch more. Working for boating magazines as long as I have, there were certain things I always enjoyed more than anything. While I could take or leave another poker run, or fishing tournament, anytime there was a tall ship on hand, or other classic wooden vessel, I was checking that out. To be able to walk a mile and a half from my front door and see a dozen or more of them is just cool. I couldn’t do that when I lived in Elkton. Somehow, I don’t think the Kalmar Nyckel would make it up the Elk Creek these days.

Anyway, there’s all sorts of stuff going on here over the course of the weekend, including the vessels all being illuminated with fireworks overhead Saturday night, and a cannon battle on the Chester River tomorrow morning. You can visit the Sultana Projects website here for all the info. If you’re around this area, it’s definitely worth checking out. The pics posted here, by the way, I snapped on my camera during my walk this morning. God, I love technology.










Boo Berry, Oh, How I’ve Missed You!


For the past two months, I’ve been hung up on memories of my past.  I’m referring, of course, to Boo Berry cereal.  We haven’t been together in about 20 years, and yet I still long for a big bowl of berry, marshmallowy goodness.  But it didn’t seem to exist any more.  I’ve searched in every grocery store in a 50 mile radius, only to find them all lacking the great old monster cereals, like Frankenberry, Count Chocula and my particular obsession, Boo Berry.  I had almost resigned myself to the fact that it was gone, a piece of my distant past that would never again grace my breakfast table.  It was a loss that I could barely stand.

I was at my lowest point when, a few days ago, I found myself walking down the aisles of the Acme in Chestertown and there, in a special seasonal display, was a box of Boo Berry staring me in the face.  I stood for a moment in stunned silence.  This couldn’t be, it was too good to be true!  Finally, I spoke, “Oh, Boo Berry, you’ve come back to me!”  I snatched the box from the shelf, and as I stood in the aisle caressing its smooth sides, an old woman with an over-filled shopping cart passed by, swerving to avoid me while giving me an odd look.  You’d think she’s never seen anyone finding a long-lost love before.  But I didn’t care.  If being in love with a breakfast cereal is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

When I got home, I could hardly contain my desire, but I forced myself to take my time.  I lit a few candles, and set up my best bowl, spoon and jug of cold milk.  Then, finally, agonizingly, I took the box into my hands.  Slowly, I pulled the top open, careful not to tear the edges, revealing the plastic underlining holding all the glorious pleasure I remembered.  I opened the bag, feeling the loose cereal inside trembling from my anxious touch.  As I poured a heaping amount into my bowl, the smell of berries and marshmallows overtook me, throwing my mind back to all the days of my youth, all of the happy memories of time spent in gastrointestinal ecstasy.  When I gradually poured the milk over the tiny little blue cereal ghosts, hearing it crackle and moan, I could barely control my urge to dive in, unashamed of my feelings.

I dipped my spoon into the waiting bowl, stirring it slightly, before lifting the first bite to my lips.  I took the spoonful in, slowly allowing my mouth to glide gracefully over the cool metal utensil, absorbing every drop.  The flavor burst forth, with the cereal ghosts melting in the heat of my mouth, and the marshmallow ghosts, soft on the outside but firm and slightly crunchy in the middle, releasing their hidden treasures as I chewed.  It was even more amazing than I recall.  Bite after bite, I lost myself in the passion of the moment, until all of the cereal was gone, leaving only the blue-tinted milk in the bowl.  I tipped it up, drinking deeply of the milk, with its residual blueberry flavor soaked into its core.  Afterwards, I felt like I needed a smoke.

For the next few days, I enjoyed the pleasures of my newly returned love, having bowl after bowl until finally, inevitably, the box was empty.  My sorrow at this was great.  I could still smell the Boo Berry in the empty cardboard container, the scent swirling through my mind making me dizzy with need.

So I returned to that store, making my way to the aisle-end display where I had found it, hoping to catch a glimpse my Boo Berry again.  But it wasn’t there. The other monster cereals were, but not my love.  Just like that, as quickly and unexpectedly as Boo Berry had reentered my life, it was gone. 

For a brief time, I was able to find something I thought was gone forever.  Now, I’m alone again with only an empty box, the fading scent, and my memories.  Thank you, Boo Berry.  I’ll never forget you.

Published in: on October 17, 2010 at 10:19 am  Comments (1)  
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Movie Review: Let Me In (or as I would put it, Let Me Out…of the Theater)

So what is it about horror movies these days?  The past few I’ve actually went to the theater to see have been nothing short of dull.  Yesterday, I dropped $10.50 on a ticket to see one of the latest horror flicks out there, Let Me In.  At the concession stand before the movie, I ordered up some Italian coffee.  I’ve never bought coffee at a movie theater before, and I made an offhand joke to the girl I was with that at least I wouldn’t fall asleep during the film.  Little did I know that the caffeine in that cup would likely be the only thing to keep me awake.  Lord knows the movie didn’t.

Let Me In, at its core, is the love story between an awkward, lonely 12 year old boy and a vampire in the person of a 12 year old girl.  The boy, Owen, is caught in the middle of a crumbling marriage between a distant father and a religious, alcoholic mother.  One of the things I did like was the presentation (or lack of) of Owen’s parents.  The father never appears in person, only as a disembodied voice during occasional phone calls.  His mother, despite being physically present, is not really there, either.  We never see her face, and in virtually every scene, she’s seen pouring yet another glass of wine before passing out on their couch.  Owen is dangerously close to being an orphan.  At school, he’s tormented and tortured by a group of three classmates led by one particularly sadistic boy who’s tranferring the poor treatment he receives from his brother onto Owen.

Owen spends his time sitting alone in the courtyard of their apartment complex, and one evening, he meets the new girl, Abby, who just moved in next door.  Over the next few weeks, (and believe me, it felt like a few weeks) Owen and Abby grow close despite her warnings that they can’t be friends.  At the same time, we see why.  Abby’s father, or at least the man we’re supposed to think is her father, spends his nights stalking, killing and draining his victims of their blood to feed Abby’s hunger.

The story itself actually has some fascinating undertones, with the lonely little girl vampire just looking for someone to connect with, and the disenchanted little boy suffering in his domestic Hell just looking for the same.  The end is fairly predictable, especially after we discover the secret of her father, but its not inconsistent with the film.  Unfortunately, the plot takes too long to develop, and the constant courtship-type scenes between Owen and Abby are an odd, uneven  combination of cute and boring.  It felt like I spent half of the film’s two-hour run time watching the pair just stare unemotionally at one another.

After about an hour, sixty minutes that contained about five minutes worth of action, I began to yawn uncontrollably, and to feel really grateful for the coffee.  There was a very real chance that I would have fallen asleep, otherwise.  Even the movie’s conclusion was somewhat boring, despite it being quite literally like a bloodbath.

At the end of the day, Let Me In isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just dull, and it does win some points for trying a different, more realistic take on what a vampire would go through in this day and age.  The film is a remake of a Swedish film, Let the Right One In, and like too many other Americanized remakes of foreign films, you should probably stick to the original. 

This one is worth a look on dvd somewhere down the line, but save the ten bucks for something better, like a pillow.  It’ll make the nap this movie induces much more comfortable.

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Extra, Extra! Clever headlines suffering from technology’s limits

As I’ve mentioned, I’m humoring the kid in me who always wanted to be a sportswriter with this website called Bleacher Report.  Well, yesterday, after hearing that Randy Moss was traded by the Patriots, I wrote up an opinion piece stating the Pats coach Bill Belichick was basically bagging this year to get on with the future.  To cap it off, I gave it the headine “No Moss Growing Under Bill Belichick’s Feet”. 

(If you don’t know football, then you probably have no idea who I’m talking about.  But bear with me, I have a point in here that has nothing  to do with sports.)

I was proud of my modest little headline.  It mentioned two of the principles by name in Moss and Belichick, and it was a both a play on Moss’ name and a metaphor for the direction New England was taking as a team.  About as perfect as you can get for a throw-away opinion piece on a sports blogger website.  If I do say so myself, it was also one of the most, if not the most, clever headline I saw on any of the Moss articles.  Bleacher Report has an editor process for each submission.  When I went later to look at my article, I noticed that the editor had slapped a three-word preface on my clever headline;  “Randy Moss Trade:”. 

Now let me say, I understand completely why this was done; three other little words- search engine optimization.  But I still couldn’t help feel that this slight addition for visibility’s sake somehow lessened the original.  Moss’ name, in particular, being mentioned prior to the pun took something away from its impact.  Besides, the article was already tagged every which way, including the phrase “Randy Moss Trade”.  Was it really necessary to sacrifice cleverness and presentation in this, or any other, case?

I say no.  Never once have I penned a headline here for any other reason than to creatively present the piece I had written.  Limiting interesting headlines for search engine optimization is a sacrifice I’m not willing to make, given the choice.  Nor do I think any of us should have to.  Why are we dumbing down the content we produce to accommodate the technology? Instead, we should be making search engines to better catalog and present that content, to suit the standards of the creators.

For an inherently visual and dynamic medium, the internet is still all-too-frequently about long blocks of words.  Certainly, the possibilities for disseminating content are amazing and nearly without limit, but we are giving up some creativity and presentation value in the bargain.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, it shouldn’t be that way at all.

Put Me In, Coach! My Personal Sportswriter Fantasy

Over the course of the past year since I started blogging here, I would periodically mix some articles on sports into my stream of conciousness.  Well, now I’ve decided to try my hand at it a little more regularly.

To that end, I’ve done a couple of things that will help.  First, I created an entirely separate site just for sports related material.  It’s called Killer Crossover, named in honor of my all-time favorite NBA player, Tim Hardaway, most famous for his years with Golden State and Miami.  But the site won’t be just basketball, it will literally cross over from sport to sport as the mood strikes me.  Right now, for instance, there’s my
preview of week 4 in the NFL, a conference by conference look at the upcoming NBA season, and next up is a look at October baseball.

The other thing I’ve done is sign up with a sports syndication website called Bleacher Report.  If you like sports and haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out.  My articles will also appear on the BR site, but in a much fancier fashion.  With that site, I’ll have access to an archive of images to spruce up my copy, and can create photo and video slideshows on topics of my choosing.  It doesn’t pay (what does these days?) but that’s not really the immediate point.  What I do get is a much larger audience and resources of potential material.  Plus, I get to fake being a sportswriter.  It’s awesome!

I’ll be setting up some rss feeds, and cross  links between this site, the new site, Bleacher Report, Facbook, and likely various other places in the next few days.  But until then, you can check out Killer Crossover by clicking here, and Bleacher Report here.  Stay tuned for more.

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