Dickieville Newsletter Sept-Oct 2006


Kate's 50th Birthday

And what better way to spend it that on a Deer River White Water Rafting Trip?  Deer river is in Western Mass, and we picked the weekend Hurricane Petunia, or Zaphod, or something like that, landed and plowed it's way well inland.  Right over Deer river, actually.  The weather was overcast, but fortunately not rainy, or we would have gotten wet.  This is a shot of our raft shooting the Zoar Gap.  This was almost as much fun as playing "war canoe" where you get to try to sink other rafts, or at least fill them with water.  We won.

Above, more shots of the trip, and below, the only place in the world that advertises that they have the world's biggest pothole, which is some town that I've forgotten the name of.  But I guess makes sense that they are the only town that advertises it, because, after all, you can't have two towns claiming to have the world's biggest pothole.  

On the way back, we checked out the Winsor Dam, which filled a 200 + square mile area of Central Massachusetts with water and incidentally sunk two towns in 60 feet of water.  Kind of like Atlantis.  Well, it sounds like a great story, but it was actually planned that way and they deconstructed the towns before they started the project (that is, knocked down all the buildings and hauled them away).  Still, it's pretty cool, and best of all, it's not named after a politician, but after the chief engineer who planned the entire thing.  Scotty would be proud.

And what would life be without the young ones inviting over friends to destroy the house?  Below, Brie has her belated Birthday party with 20+ angst ridden teenagers.  I was playing bartender.  Serving non-alcoholic drinks, of course, but decent simulations of Pina Coladas, Margaritas, Yellowjackets, Cosmos, Believe-it-or-nots... OK, I made that last one up, but by the end of the night we'd served enough fruit juices and grenadine mixtures to make me ill, and I didn't drink any.  Still, the kids all had a good time and abused Patrick, who took it stoically.  

The Salem Pirate Faire, which you know is cool because they spell "Fair" with and extra "e," is run by Pastimes, the same group that did the King Arthur Faire (also kool, and now I'm cool for spelling cool with a "k," except for those times I just didn't).  This was in Salem, MA, and it was equally fun, partially because Brie ran into Sir Sagamore, her "husband" from the King Arthur Faire, except he was "Tiddlywinks the nasty pirate boy" this time, but also because they fired a lot of cannons and an occasional musket or percussion pistol, and yes, I know this is a run on sentence, thank you very much.

And tennis still runs rampant in the family.  Below, our new, high tech stringing machine, typically only owned by people that win the US Open, and the big news, Will winning his first tennis tournament in the 10-14 age group. It was a two day ordeal and we are very proud that he managed to crush the other kids so dramatically.   

We also did the annual pilgrimage to the top of Mount whats-its-name in Littleton, where you can see all the way to Boston on a clear day if you've had plenty to drink.  Ho, ho, that was a little joke, it actually has quite the view.  The dogs also enjoyed the trip up, and the trip down, and the waiting while I ran all the way to the top of the mountain and back because Brie asked, when we reached the car, "where's the jacket I took off at the top of the mountain and left lying on a rock somewhere?"

Castle of the Damned  is a Halloween attraction at Hammond Castle in Gloucester put on by a semi-professional acting group, Pastimes, who did the Pirate Faire previously mentioned.  Brie decided that she wanted to participate as one of the many extras that Pastimes recruits for these events, which can take upwards of 70 people.  She convinced some of her friends to participate, and I had the opportunity to drive them there and sit for four hours or join in myself.  So I signed up, and learned an important lesson.  It's a lot of fun to scare the crap out of people.  The rather charismatic guy that is the lead fright designer ended many of the predatory... I mean preparatory... sessions with "This will be a lot of work, be ready for that.  But when you're staring at someone, and they are hysterical from fright, and you realize they will not have a good night's sleep in the next several weeks, you realize deep down that it's all worth it." And he was so right.

My first gig was "gas mask guy."  I stood at the bottom of a narrow stairwell to the "dungeon" (aka basement) with a gas mask on, while a fog machine spewed fumes and a stereo played a heavy metal/industrial soundtrack loud enough to make the floor vibrate.  A fifteen year old girl in the first group that came through started walking down the staircase, took one look at me, grabbed on to the guide rail with a death grip and just stopped in her tracks.  I tilted my head, pointed slowly at my mask, and shook my head "no" while the fumes billowed by me. 

She hiccupped a couple of times and started screaming "I can't do this" at the top of her lungs over and over again.  In the meantime her mom, standing behind her, started pushing her down the stairs and screaming "Yes you can!  Yes you can!  Stay in front!" 

My second gig was the supposed supervisor for a film crew that had gone into the basement.  I was standing at the top of the stairs down into the basement. As people came toward the doorway, I was in a little alcove to the side, and I'd step out and start muttering. "Not safe... it's not safe... not safe in the basement... not safe" and so on and so forth. As people started down the stairs, I'd add "Don't... it's not safe... there's only one way in or out of the basement and people keep going in... but NO ONE COMES OUT." Most people would, of course, keep going, and I'd go "Why won't you listen to me? I keep telling people it's not safe, but they won't listen... please, it's not safe."

There were only a few times when people really wouldn't go in the basement and I had to drop out of character to keep the tours moving.

After the show, everyone gets together for a debrief, and the funniest comment overheard at the end of the tour was:

Boy 1:  "Wow.  That was a life changing experience."

Boy 2: "Yeah, and pretty close to a pants changing experience too."

Brie was a tour guide (and therefore saw the show, whereas I only saw the dungeon area).

The advertisement for "Castle of the Damned"


Above, Brie and friends prior to makeup.

A daytime shot of Hammond Castle and a Halloween shot

Brie's friend now looks like she's suffering from a horrible disease.

Brie in costume and with makeup... the makeup was very professional, subtle and very creepy

Me as "the gas mask guy."  But I didn't have to carry the 14 inch machete at least.

Day two... damaged film crew supervisor guy


We had a visit by Janet and Bill Garber

Last Rocket Launch of the Season (maybe)

Will, Bill Garber and I did our last launch of the season (unless we get a clear, warm day in November).    To the right, a successful launch of the Phoenix on a "D" engine after minor repairs from our last flight.  In the background is a guy who just crash-landed his radio-controlled airplane; I did warn him that the Phoenix was a surface to air missile but never got to prove it.  Below, the Renegade, which was severely damaged last time, gets one more flight, modified as a double-C engine launch.  Unfortunately, we don't have a dual-engine igniter, and rigging the standard launch was... well, let us say, marginally successful.  But very exciting.  You can see the results below.  The splintered remains of the Renegade were left in a trash can because there was no way it was going to be repaired after this launch.

You can see the renegade smackdown by clicking here if you want... this is MPEG 4, you will need Quicktime to see it.

Liftoff... you can see (barely) see that one engine lit before the other

Both engines are lit but the rocket has already torn free of the launch pad

The Renegade is accelerating on 2 C engines to it's doom

Smackdown, with pieces (and still firing engines) flying in all directions

And, of course, we have Katydid's Jewelry's first show of the season, at the always popular Conant Craft Fair

And last but not least there is Halloween... Brie, doing a fine job as "Goth with Attitude" (very scary), Will, as the hairy skeleton (very funny) and the Front Stoop which, given the warm weather, did not welcome as many trick or treat-ers as we would have like, particularly Will, who hid out in the garage and sprayed them down with Silly String when they walked by.