Monthly Archives: March 2018

Underwater Chaucer Will Raise Money For Blacktip Island Library

interpretive dance

Marina DeLow, right, as ‘Nature,’ approaches Alison Diesel, as ‘The Formel,’ during the dress rehearsal of the Blacktip Island Community Players’ underwater interpretive dance, The Parliament of Foules, Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of Steve Dunleavy)

The Blacktip Island Community Players will celebrate Geoffrey Chaucer’s birthday Saturday and Sunday with an underwater interpretive dance, in three movements, based on Chaucer’s The Parliament of Foules. The performances will raise funds for a new Blacktip Island Public Library.

“In Chaucer’s day, ‘foule’ could mean either ‘bird’ or ‘fool,’” BICP artistic director Doris Blenny said. “We thought that was quite appropriate for Blacktip. And for our dancer-divers.

“The idea is this new twist on one of Chaucer’s lesser-known works would be perfect to raise money for a new library,” Blenny said. “Sadly, the demise of the old library left a hole in the heart of our community. Two books weren’t returned and the other was destroyed in the kitchen fire.”

Cast members hope the combination of subject and venue will resonate with the audience.

Parliament is one of Chaucer’s early dream poems, so the surreal imagery, described in Middle English, leaves it open to many interpretations,” said diver-dancer Gauge Hoase. “Plus, we’re doing it on Canterbury Reef, on the island’s northern tip, so with the currents up there, you never know what’s going to happen.”

The cast was chosen from among BICP’s most experienced divers, including:

  • Finn Kiick as Geoffrey/The Narrator
  • Marina DeLow as Nature
  • Lee Helm as Osprey 1
  • Hugh Calloway as Osprey 2
  • Alison Diesel as The Formel
  • Gage Hoase as Scippio Africanus the Elder
  • Antonio Fletcher, James Conlee and Dermott Bottoms as Other Foules

Locals civic groups protested certain aspects of the performance.

“Art’s fine, and we all like to watch, but this should be a family-friendly show,” the Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “We could overlook a figurative ‘nether ye’ and ‘scalded towte,’ but we drew the line at the Narrator jumping out of bed ‘al nakkèd.’

“Doris saw the wisdom of that, and last minute changed Gage’s costume to a neutral-toned dive skin,” Grunt said. “Plus, a straw poll showed no one wanted to see Gage in the buff. Especially while drinking.”

No on-site viewing will be permitted due to safety concerns given the area’s strong currents. Instead, performances will be transmitted live to all island bars.

“You get blown off the wall, next stop is Tiperon in 70, 80 miles,” Marina DeLow said. “And if you miss that, hellooo, Cuba. The chase boats had enough of a time collecting divers during rehearsals.”

Organizers say remote viewing will encourage audience participation.

“There’ll be round-table discussions at all the bars afterwards, and a final session at the Heritage House where delegates from all the bars can present their opinions to, hopefully, achieve some sort of island-wide consensus,” Blenny said.

Cast members brushed off criticism that Chaucer’s exact date of birth has never been determined.

“He wrote a lot about April, so this could be his birthday. That’s all that matters,” Finn Kiick said. “At least we know Chaucer was real. Not like that sock puppet Shakespeare.”

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Beer Tap Repairman Earns Blacktip’s Order of the Iguana

beer tap hero

The beer taps at Blacktip Island’s Last Ballyhoo bar, and all other island taps, are fully operational thank to the quick actions of a visiting scuba diving guest. Buddy Swill was awarded the Island’s Order of the Iguana, the highest citation available to a non-citizen. (Photo courtesy of abruellmann)

A Blacktip Island tourist was named a Tiperon Islands national hero Wednesday after he voluntarily repaired numerous broken beer taps at the small Caribbean island’s four bars.

“The salt air’s horrible on anything metal here,” said Sand Spit bartender Cori Anders. “Every beer tap but one on the island had corroded shut or gummed up. The Tale Spinner was the only place you could get draft beer, and that was some manky wheatgrass-and-lime lager crap.

“We’d order parts, but they’d get waylaid on Tiperon,” Anders said. “And the repair people said it wasn’t worth their time to come over from the big island. We were on our own.”

Community leaders had declared an island-wide emergency.

“Folks were getting desperate,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “They were drinking bottled beer. Canned beer. N.A. beer. Anything they could get.

“Beer-related scuffles were breaking out all over creation,” Cobia said. “And what with the big spring haiku tournament coming up, we’d reached crisis point. Things were about to get really ugly.”

Help came from an unlikely source.

“One of the guests up at Blacktip Haven owned a brew pub in the U.S.,” Last Ballyhoo bar owner Ferris Skerritt said. “He happened to have a tap in his bag. And a faucet wrench to swap it out.

“Then, on his own dime, he overnighted a bunch of taps down as ‘plumbing supplies,’ and everybody was back in business,” Skerritt said. “As far as I’m concerned, he can drink free for life at the Ballyhoo. With a reasonable daily limit, of course.”

The guest denied he was a hero.

“I just did what any beer lover would do,” Buddy Swill said. “Thankfully, I always travel with a spare tap and wrench. It’s bailed me out a bunch of times in the past.

“As for swapping out all the taps on the island, well, it was just the right thing to do,” Swill said. “I mean, if I hadn’t stepped in, how would I have been able to sleep at night?”

After a unanimous vote, officials scrambled to find a physical Order of the Iguana medal-and-ribbon for Swill.

“We don’t give out many of those things,” Cobia said. “Last time was the septic tank debacle back in ’03. I managed to find a dusty medal in the archives and we gave that to Buddy.

“The commendation reads: ‘His timely intervention averted widespread riots and preserved public peace,’” Cobia said. “Whether he likes it or not, Buddy’s a member of the realm now, with all the rights, honors and whatsits that go with it.”

To celebrate the award, and the return of draft beer, the island council is sponsoring a Drain the Keg island-wide festival for Friday night. All work is cancelled on Saturday.

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Tag Team Dominoes Tourney Debuts On Blacktip Island

tag team dominoes

The Caribbean’s best team domino players will converge on Blacktip Island this weekend for the inaugural tag-team dominoes championship. (photo courtesy of Joy Spotts)

Dominoes competitors from across the Caribbean will descend on Blacktip Island this weekend for the inaugural Blacktip Association of Interlocking Tiles tag-team dominoes tournament at the island’s Heritage House.

“It’s the dominoes of the future,” said association president Inky Pipps. “It combines the strategy of dominoes, with the physicality of pro wrestling. It’ll feature two-person teams and a double-elimination format.

“We play by the Marquise of Tiperon rules, so everyone’s required to drink between rounds,” Pipps said. “And during. It takes the island’s two most popular activities to the next level. And referees will make sure everyone is drinking the same amount, to keep things fair.”

Final scores will be tallied at the end of each round, which end after the last contestant passes out.

Local dominoes fans say the sport adds an element of drama to the game.

“It’s not just people sitting around a table, drinking beer and slapping down tiles,” dominoes aficionado Ginger Bass said. “The head games get intense, with trash talking and mean-mugging before each match. And there’s another level of tactics involved once play starts.

“If a player’s outmatched, she can tap out and let her teammate take over,” Bass said. “The adrenalin kicks in when you get both team members playing the same table at the same time. And when you get six, eight people slamming down tiles and whacking each other with folding chairs, there’s nothing else like it!”

Tournament organizers stressed any in-game altercations are not staged.

“Every players signs off that any violence they’re involved in will be spontaneous,” association vice president Joy Spotts said. “And Rafe Marquette’ll have both eyes peeled for any signs of illegal gambling.

“We’ll also taking every step to keep the players from cheating,” Spotts said. “There’ll be proctors on the lookout for anyone using performance-enhancing substances. We have zero tolerance for light beer. Period.”

Favored teams include local favorites Rocky Shore and Stoney MacAdam, Dermott Bottoms and Sheena Goode, and regional sensations Patsy Dunning and Lori Kruger.

“Winners receive a small cash prize, as well as the coveted Golden Tile award,” Spotts said. “We assume it’ll be coveted, anyway. It’s the first one, but focus groups at the Ballyhoo happy hour were all positive.

“The Heritage House only holds a dozen or so spectators, so we’ll be live streaming the contests to all the island bars,” Spotts added. “If things go as expected, we plan to add tag team dominoes as an Olympic sport when the Tiperons host the Olympics.”

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Blacktip Island Nudibranchs Write Limericks In The Sand

nudibranch writing

Scuba divers discovered a purple-line sea goddess nudibranch finishing a line of poetry Wednesday afternoon during a shore dive on Blacktip Island’s Sailfish Reef. (photo courtesy of Steve Childs)

Blacktip Island scuba divers on an afternoon shore dive Wednesday discovered signs the island’s sea goddess nudibranchs may spell words in the sand with their slime trails.

“There was a film of algae on the sand, the light was just right and I could make out a cursive ‘N,’” Emma Dorris said. “I looked closer and there was ‘Nantucket’ spelled out in a flowing, 19th Century script. And at the end of the ‘t’ there was a tiny yellow-and-purple sea slug.

“You could see traces of other words, but divers had kicked too much sand to read them,” Dorris said. “Nudibranchs could be doing this all over the place but no one ever noticed, what with divers and storms stirring up the sand. But the weather’s been good and the sand was undisturbed.”

Longtime local divers were not surprised.

“There’s been stories for years of divers seeing words on the sand,” Rusty Goby said. “‘Pruitt’ and ‘trucker,’ most often. We always passed that off, but now it all makes sense. Near as we can tell, those little suckers get of on writing bawdy limericks.”

The scientific community said more study is needed.

“Assuming these slugs do leave words in their wake, is it something they do by happenstance or is it a conscious act?” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Is it only one species? Do they all slime in the same script? Indications are the gold-line sea goddesses have the best penmanship, while the tasseled nudis’ slime is damn-near illegible, but it’s early yet.

“We’re building big Plexiglas cubes to lower over nudibranchs to protect the sand writing from surge and current and divers,” Mojarra said. “And we have teams scouring the reef looking for all species of nudibranchs. That’s the real hard work.”

Some on the island scoffed at the idea of sea slugs writing poetry.

“Limericks? Not haiku or Italian sonnets?” said Chrissy Graysby. “And they only write in English? This is another crop-circle hoax.

“Ernie and his gang’re piling on as an excuse to get grant money,” Graysby added. “And free diving under the guise of ‘research.’”

Mojarra was unfazed by the criticism.

“This could be the cross-discipline breakthrough of our generation,” he said. “The engineering department worked up some underwater blacklights that really make the letters pop.

“We’re also teaming up with the English department to study how and why these slugs acquired their literary preferences,” Mojarra said. “They’ve done studies that indicate lettuce sea slugs compulsively slime-write the text of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland.’ Or as much of it as they can before something eats them.”

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Overtaking Vehicles A New Danger On Blacktip Island

traffic overtaking

Motorists speed past Blacktip Island’s Club Scuba Doo during rush hour Thursday. Local authorities worry a recent uptick in overtaking vehicles on Blacktip roads represents a growing public safety threat. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny, Jr.)

A surge in the number of vehicles overtaking other vehicles on Blacktip Island roads had island officials scrambling for solutions Thursday.

“Blacktip has two roads and a 25 miles per hour speed limit,” Chamber of Commerce president Kay Valve said. “Vehicles don’t overtake each other here. There’s never been a need to.

“Now, though, there’s three, four overtakings a week. It’s crazy,” Valve said. “Just today, a big construction truck blew past a rental car on that stretch in front of Club Scuba Doo. Unless you’re the police or the nurse, what’s the hurry?”

Witnesses were stunned.

“It was shocking. A pair of Scuba Doo guests had just stepped out on the side of the road,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “The wind from the truck blew their hats off, scared the hell out of them. The one guy’s eyes bugged out like big dinner plates.

“Away from the resorts, and on the east coast road, it’s always been a free for all, vehicle-wise,” Ephesians said. “But to drive hellbent-for-leather through town? It’s a miracle no one’s been hurt.”

Island police said curtailing the trend is a top concern.

“Safety of pedestrians, especially resort guests, is very much at risk,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Tourists on vacation don’t think. They climb on a rusty resort bike after not having ridden a bike in 30, 40, years, and wobble off down the road. Add two cars barreling down the road side-by-side to that mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

“The overtaking’s dangerous, but not illegal,” Marquette said. “The problem is the overtaker’s usually exceeding the 25 mph speed limit. That’s where we’re focusing our enforcement efforts.”

Some island officials are taking proactive measures.

“I’m pushing through a law banning overtaking on Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’ll send a clear message to motorists: if you want to pass someone, go somewhere else. Blacktip isn’t that kind of island, and it won’t become one.”

Social scientists worried about the trend’s cause.

“It speaks to an increasingly-agitated mental state of Blacktip motorists, this need to pass another car on an island with maybe two dozen vehicles,” Tiperon University-Blacktip sociology professor Moraye Meade said. “It also speaks to the changing nature of island society.

“We’re animals, competing for the same resources,” Meade said. “As the population grows, that competition intensifies. People fight to be the first, even if it’s just the first to happy hour. That’s a disturbing trend.”

Some residents fear the problem is a sign of things to come.

“Blacktip’s getting too crowded, like the big city with all this crazy traffic,” longtime resident Rosie Blenny, Jr. said. “If this keeps up, I’m going to have to move to a quieter island that’s not so stressful.”

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