Monthly Archives: March 2020

Cancelled Olympics Sideline Blacktip Island’s Beer Pong Team

beer pong

Members of Blacktip Island’s Olympic beer pong team practice Tuesday night prior to learning they would not compete this summer due to the Tokyo Olympics being cancelled. (photo courtesy of Peachy Bottoms)

The Blacktip Island Olympic beer pong team’s hopes of glory were crushed Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team spokesperson said.

“We’re gutted right now and, frankly, in a bit of denial,” coach Peachy Bottoms said. “We’ve been training so hard. We were favored to win team and individual medals. Now all that hard work’s been for nothing.

“We understand the global health need, but it still hurts,” Bottoms said. “The Olympic Committee made the decision, and we’re abiding by it. The only question now is when, or if, the games’ll be rescheduled.”

Team members expressed their own frustrations

“We worked our tails off, mostly in the evenings,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Gave up dominoes to train for this. Had uniforms and everything. Now the bigwigs just smacked all of us right in the mouth.

“Gonna keep training, I reckon, and hope for the best,” Fletcher said. “The worry isn’t if we’ll lose our skills. Those’re drilled in. Some of us’ll lose our focus, our mental edge, though. Might never bounce back.”

Others were more outspoken.

“Mentally, most team members are hanging on by a thread as it is,” team member Alison Diesel said. “We can’t just lie down and take this. We’re protesting like hell. Of course, we can’t leave the island, so not many people’ve noticed.

“We got a picket line in front of the Sand Spit bar, where we train, so the committee can see how hacked off we are,” Diesel said. “It’s streaming online, but we’ve only had seven viewers so far. That’s doubly depressing. But we’re not giving up hope.”

Some in the community see the cancellation as politically motivated.

“This was our big chance to put Blacktip Island, and the Tiperons, on the map,” Reg Gurnard said. “Our team’s damned good. The Olympic Committee knows it, too, and is scared of us. This isn’t about health, it’s about protecting the big guys and denying the Tiperons their first-ever medal.”

Others hoped for a compromise with the committee.

“If we know the risk and are still willing to take it, that should be enough to open the games,” team member Leah Shore said. “It’ll all be on us. Give us our shot and we’ll stay there in quarantine as long as necessary.

“We don’t want a two-week stay in Tokyo at someone else’s expense,” Shore said. “But for team and country, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Iguana Pox Has Blacktip Islanders Hoarding Beer, Chips

iguana virus panic

Blacktip Island’s Sand Spit bar is locking its small supply of beer in secure coolers during the island’s pox-induced beer shortage. (photo courtesy of Cori Anders)

Panic during an island-wide outbreak of Blacktip Iguana Pox has caused residents to buy all the beer and chips on the small Caribbean island, creating severe shortages at the island’s store and bars.

“The outbreak started when Dermott Bottoms and James Connolly, drunk as coots, got scratched up real bad wrestling an iguana one night,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “They didn’t treat the lacerations, got infected and the next thing you know we’ve got a major pox event. We get individual-level cases all the time, but never this bad and with so many people.

“The clinic’s out of anti-pox, and there’s a shortage on Tiperon, so we’re under island-wide quarantine for the duration,” Graysby said. “People panicked and decided to stock up on beer and snacks, of all things. It doesn’t make sense, but these things rarely do.”

Island residents say the hoarding is justified.

“Hell with toilet paper. I can use any old thing for that. And do,” long-time local Harry Wrasse said. “But there’s no substitute for beer. Or Cheetos. Jack Cobia told me to drink water instead, but that stuff’ll kill you. Same goes for white rum.

“Do I got beer stashed away? You bet I do. Can’t tell me not to buy beer,” Wrasse said. “No law against buying extra. No telling how long this quarantine’ll last. Anybody tries to take my beer, they’re gonna get hurt.”

The island suppliers are working nonstop to restock.

“Our beer and snack shelves are bare,” store owner Peachy Bottoms said. “That never happens, even in winter when rough seas keep the supply barge from landing. We’re asking folks to buy just what they need, but no one’s complying. They’re scared. You can see it in their eyes.

“We set up an air bridge to fly more beer and potato crisps in as fast as we could, but yahoos keep rushing the planes, walloping the flight crew and snatching stuff from the cargo bays before we can get it to the store,” Bottoms said. “We’ve plenty of other supplies. There’s piles of bog roll, and no one’s touching the gluten-free bread or veggie burgers.”

Island leaders urged calm.

“We’re not asking people not to buy beer. We’re asking them to be reasonable,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s Blacktip, though, so ‘reasonable’ may be a bridge too far. There’s been talk of declaring a state of emergency, but it’s hard to call lack of beer an emergency, even on Blacktip. If the violence gets out of hand, though, we may have to.”

Authorities have been nearly overwhelmed maintaining order.

“With beer in short supply, prices are skyrocketing,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Single beers are going for $20, $25. Warm. There’s a raging black market, but I can’t arrest anyone without evidence, and the buyers aren’t about to turn in their suppliers.

“The bigger issue is public safety. I’m the only constable and I’m spread thin,” Marquette said. “I broke up three brawls just this morning, and we’re only on Day Two of the quarantine. I deputized two Special Constables, but they’re off trying to buy beer. If the pilots and baggage handlers throw in the towel, we’re looking at total anarchy.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Blacktip Island’s Caves Become ‘CaveBNB’ Vacation Lodgings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blacktip Island property owners have begun renting furnished cave lodging to visiting tourists. (photo courtesy of Rusty Goby)

Inspired by the popularity of vacation rental services VRBO and AirBNB, some Blacktip Island residents are now renting furnished island caves to vacationers seeking unusual lodging on the small Caribbean island.

“The private rental market’s overloaded,” cave owner Sally Port said. “Some of us figured we’d take advantage of an overlooked aspect of the housing some of our forefathers used. We’re offering ‘unique’ and ‘offbeat.’ Not everybody can say they spent their holiday in a real cave.

“Me, I cleaned up the cave behind the house, tricked it out with a generator and comfy beds and couches and whatnot and marketed it to tourists,” Port said. “It’s cozy and watertight and has all the modern amenities you’d find in a standard home. Mostly. We’re calling it CaveBNB.”

Some owners noted the caves’ lack of uniformity.

“‘Modern amenities’ is a bit strong for some of the listings,” Rusty Goby said. “Some have electric lights and fridges, sure, but some are candlelight and bring-your-sleeping-bag, bog-standard grottoes. With roaches and snakes and whatnot. That’s what some of the more adventurous guests are looking for, though.

“Wind can be an issue in some of the low-end caves, but the nicer ones have house facades and doors built on to their fronts,” Goby said. The great thing about all the rental caves is it’s always right around 75 degrees inside, so they’re cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”

Guests were generally upbeat about the lodgings.

“It’s like glamping, but more upscale,” scuba diving guest Bill Fisch said. “My wife calls it ‘clamping,’ and we couldn’t be happier. It puts us back in touch with our prehistoric ancestors. Cooking over an open fire’s kind of fun, too. I haven’t done that since I was little.

“The kiddos just love playing caveman,” Fisch said. “When they got rowdy last night, we gave them Crayons and had them draw sea creatures on the walls. It looks like an aquatic Lascaux in there now. There’s bats, too, and the owner doesn’t even charge extra. You just have to cover your drink at dusk when they fly out.

Island officials are still evaluating the new lodgings.

“We’ve some issues we’re looking into, but if rental caves get more overnight visitors to the island, we’re all for them,” chamber of commerce president Ledford Waite said. “Now, there’s the issue of electrical wiring needing to be up to code. Rusty’s cave has a big-ass, ten-gauge extension cord running from the power pole into his cave, and we had to nip that in the bud.

“Sanitation’s an issue, too,” Waite said. “Lodgings should have chem toilets, at a minimum, but some owners are old school and just have a hole in the floor that empties into the water table. Waste gets washed away to God-knows-where. It’s cheap and effective, but it’s not right.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean

Local Author Recasts ‘Beowulf’ as a Modern Caribbean Epic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blacktip Island’s rugged shores are the setting for Antonio Fletcher’s modernized rendition of the epic poem Beowulf. (photo by Paloma Fairlead / BTT staff)

Local author Antonio Fletcher this week released his modern Caribbean retelling of the Old English epic poem Beowulf in an effort to popularize a literary classic by recasting it in a modern setting to make it more culturally relevant.

“Most folks know the Beowulf story, or the first part of it, but who’s really read it? Or seen the movie? Not me,” Fletcher said. “Bringing it up to date, making it matter here and now, that’ll make Blacktip Islanders proud, you know. Taking some stale old story and claiming it for our own. Like what Derek Walcott did with The Odyssey. I expect this’ll do at least as well.

“An Old English poem and the modern Caribbean don’t seem likely to work together, but that’s where it gets its energy,” Fletcher said. “I switched out those cock-eyed, four-beat staves with a soca rhythm to give a Caribbean feel, and instead of ‘wine-dark seas’ and ‘whale roads,’ I got ‘rum-dark seas’ and ‘wahoo roads, so it’s pretty different. Calling it Barra-Wulf,” ‘cause the hero’s like a barracuda.”

Fletcher said his inspiration came at a bar late one night.

“Sitting in the Ballyhoo a few months back, and ol’ Dermott had had him too much white rum and started tearing the place apart, laying out anyone who got within reach,” he said. “I thought, ‘Dermott looks like a big, shaggy animal busting up a good party, and that put me in mind of Beowulf.

Barra-Wulf starts with the Blacktip Island mersquatch busting up a resort bar on a big karaoke night,” Fletcher said. “Barra-Wulf, he motors up in his in his flat-end canoe, hears about a monster ruining island parties and decides to do something about it. He whacks the mersquatch, then the mama mersquatch, just like in the poem. At the end, he dies fighting a giant barracuda. Kills it, but he dies, too. It’s something everyone can relate to.”

Local literary critics applauded Fletcher’s efforts.

“Cross-cultural literary appropriation is a long-standing literary tradition, so Antonio is in fine company. I expect,” Blacktip Times book reviewer and part-time literature professor Paloma Fairlead said. “Beowulf is about a hero who travels great distances to test his strength against supernatural monsters, despite impossible odds. That take on the human condition is universal, even on Blacktip, and shows we’re not so different from people a thousand years ago on the other side of the world.

“I haven’t actually read ‘Tonio’s book yet, but it sounds like he swung for the fences,” Fairlead said. “Tackling a classic like that is refreshingly ambitious on an island where ‘literature’ is too often the label of a beer bottle. It’s ‘Tonio, so the language and phrasing are probably a bit rough, but it will no doubt resonate with readers.”

Some residents, though, were not so positive.
“Haven’t read ‘Tonio’s book either, but no way anyone could make that old thing more boring, so ‘Tonio’s on solid ground there,” James Conlee said. “Thing is, this’s the 21st Century. People have smart TVs and email and Ebay and all that. Nobody’s got time for some 300-page poem. Unless there’s sex scenes in it. And there’s not, as far as I could tell.

“Man fights a monster, then goes fishing, then dies. Nothing new about that,” Conlee said. “My signed copy makes a great coaster, though. And a doorstop, in a pinch.”

Fletcher remained unphased by the criticism.

“People on this little rock need heroes, and I’m giving them one, one that could be any one of them in the right circumstances,” he said. “Except one person, but I’m not saying who that is.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean