Category Archives: Writing

Blacktip Literati Retool Island’s Literary Festival

Blacktip Island Literary Festival organizers are urging attendees to read books, not fling them, at this year’s event.

Blacktip Island Literary Festival organizers are urging attendees to read books, not fling them, at this year’s event.

Writers, poets and playwrights will converge on Blacktip Island’s Heritage House Saturday for what organizers hope will be a violence-free second annual Blacktip Island Literary Festival.

“We’ve doubled our presence and are confident there’ll be none of the mayhem of last year’s litfest,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If the narrative does go off course, the two of us will step in and edit the event.”

Festival participants say outside influences caused the ruckus at last year’s event, sponsored by the Tiperon Writers’ Interdisciplinary Trust and Flor de Caña rum.

“It was the free rum the sponsors doled out that caused the problems,” playwright Jerrod Ephesians said. “People blamed Antonio Fletcher and his pornographic alexandrines, but ‘Tonio was just the catalyst. Well, him and the Baptist Women’s League.

“Between the overturned scooters, the flung hardbound books and the dozen people in the medical clinic, though, it gave the local literary scene a black eye,” Ephesians said. “We’re asking participants and spectators to be on their best behavior this weekend.”

Some auteurs, however, scoffed at that request.

“Can’t no one promise restraint,” poet Antonio Fletcher said. “We’re artists, you know. We’re spontaneous, howling that eternal ‘yes’ at the moon. That’s creativity.”

Festival officials are confident new safeguards will ensure a peaceful festival.

“We’ve a more-structured agenda to emphasize love of literature, writing and reading over hooliganism,” event organizer Doris Blenny said. “We’ll administer breathalyzer tests before each writing workshop, panel discussion and author reading to maintain the festival’s intellectual focus. We’re only allowing paperback books in the venue, as well.

“We’ll have workshops on ‘Using Verbs in Every Sentence’ and ‘How To Write As Concisely As Humanly Possible to Avoid Any Unnecessarily-Wordy Verbiage In Your Prose and Poetry,’” Blenny said. “Panel discussions will include ‘Was Shakespeare Really Jane Austen?’ and ‘Plot: What Is It Good For?’

“To keep order, we’ve also moved the readings to first thing Saturday so people won’t be so sauced,” Blenny said. “Dermott Bottoms’ll kick things off performing his one-act play, Letters From Heineken.”

The festival’s high point will be Saturday evening’s cocktail mixer, featuring a free drink to any attendees who can recite the first paragraph of Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. There will also be a belching Derek Walcott’s Omeros contest, with the winner receiving a mini-keg of Guinness stout.

All-writer air band The Smirking Metaphors will provide live music.

“We invited a bunch of literary agents and publishers, too,” Blenny said, “but none of them responded. I think they just want to attend incognito, in case things get hairy again.”

Participants are cautiously optimistic.

“It’s an artistic community,” Ephesians said. “Blacktippers love their literature. But we enjoy drinking rum and fighting, too. It’s a delicate balance.”

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Blacktip Island Domino Players Form Regional Think Tank

Blacktip Island’s domino aficionados have created a nonpartisan policy institute to address important issues impacting the region.

Blacktip Island’s domino aficionados have created a nonpartisan policy institute to address important issues impacting the region.

A group of Blacktip Island’s domino enthusiasts have filed articles of incorporation to become the Tiperon Islands’ first nonprofit, nongovernmental policy institute.

The Council for Regional Atmospheric Policy draws on a cross section of Blacktip Island society and will focus on economics, energy, social policy and fashion.

“Folks think we just sit around drinking beer and playing dominoes, you know” Council co-founder Antonio Fletcher said. “But we talk about the news of the day, too. We figure we come up with answers for most every crisis in the Caribbean since 2004. Maybe even 2003.

“It’s really a formality,” Fletcher said. “We already solve the world’s problems each day. This gets us legal recognition, though. And funding.”

The Council is financed by Sandy Bottoms Liquor Store and proceeds from local domino tournaments. Members meet daily in a storage unit behind the liquor store.

Island leaders praised the group’s effectiveness.

“They’ve addressed Blacktip’s sustainability in terms of water conservation, green electricity production and repurposing items from the dump,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “They also had the idea to put the big recycling barrel next to their domino table for all the bottle and cans.

“Now, we haven’t implemented any of their plans, except the recycling bin, but the results have been impressive,” Cobia said.

The Council’s critics were less enthusiastic.

“A bunch of drunks talking out their backsides isn’t a think tank,” Club Scuba Doo owner Nelson Pilchard said. “By that logic, the Last Ballyhoo bar’s a policy institute, too. And nonprofit? They make out like bandits with free beer.”

Council members were quick to defend the organization.

“I guarantee we don’t turn a profit,” Council member Dermott Bottoms said. “I mean, just look at us.”

“Sandy’s folks do provide the beer,” Fletcher said. “They deliver the cans right out to us, but that’s mostly so we don’t wander in and scare off customers. Couple of members aren’t allowed within 100 yards of the store, too.”

Fletcher said the Council is currently focused on immigration reform and its effects on regional culture, a study he says is facilitated by the dominoes themselves.

“You slap dominoes down long enough, ideas jump up at you,” Fletcher said. “We’ve had some of our best brainstorms at the end of playing all day and half the night. Right before you pass out, things fall into place like, well, like dominoes.”

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Blacktip Times Special Edition: Local Author Nominated For Literary Award

“Two and a Half Weeks” is a 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards finalist.

“Two and a Half Weeks” is a 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards finalist.

“Two and a Half Weeks,” a humorous short story by local author Tim W. Jackson, has been nominated in the Big Al’s Books and Pals 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards short story category.

Big Al’s Books and Pals is an independent online review site focusing on work produced by small and independent presses. Contest winners in 14 categories are determined by reader votes and will each receive a digital slap on the back and a PDF sticker to Photoshop onto their book’s cover.

“It feels slimy as hell, but, I’m asking you, the Blacktip Times readers, to go to Big Al’s website and vote for my story before March 28,” Jackson said. “And if it doesn’t make you feel slimy, it’d be great if you got your friends to vote, too. And your families. And any unusually-dexterous pets you might have. Or know about.”

If the story wins, Jackson has promised to dance the quadrille in a giant banana costume and post video on the Blacktip Times Online.

“No one wants to see it, but if that’s what it takes, I’m not above extortion,” Jackson said.

Contest voting runs March 14 – 28 at: Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards.

Originally published in The MacGuffin literary journal, “Two and a Half Weeks” is part of Jackson’s Tales From Blacktip Island short story collection.

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Blacktip Island Elects Hermit Crab Mayor

Neville the hermit crab is Blacktip Island’s new mayor. Neville’s know-nothing, do-nothing policies appealed to local environmentalists as well as to the island’s crustaceans.

Neville the hermit crab is Blacktip Island’s new mayor. Neville’s know-nothing, do-nothing policies appealed to local environmentalists as well as to the island’s crustaceans.

An overwhelming majority of Blacktip Island voters Thursday elected popular hermit crab, Neville, as mayor. Neville received 83 percent of the Caribbean island’s popular vote to incumbent Jack Cobia’s 16 percent.

“The margin of victory is especially impressive considering there’s only 112 people on the island,” Supervisor of Elections Suzie Souccup said. “And most of them were too drunk to vote.”

“We got tired of politicians promising the moon and sun, then reneging when they take office,” Blacktip resident Nelson Seagroves said. “Now we’ve elected a mayor who won’t lie, cheat or steal.

“Neville’s the ultimate insider the island needs. He’s lived on Blacktip Island all his life, and his family’s been here generations. He knows the community and its issues inside and out.”

“The best thing is he works for peanuts,” Club Scuba Doo general manager Polly Parrett said. “Well, cracked-open coconuts, anyway. And he won’t take a bribe. He’s not physically capable.”

Neville’s opponents are outraged.

“This is a travesty and a mockery of the democratic process,” outgoing mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’re talking about a damn crab who has no policies and can’t even talk. ‘Crab of the people’ my hind foot. It’s a vast crustacean conspiracy, pure and simple.”

“After the last few mayors, someone who does nothing will be a nice change,” Neville supporter Gage Hoase said. “If he doesn’t do anything, he can’t screw up anything.”

Some business leaders worry Neville’s election will put the brakes on the island’s recent development boom.

“He’s a soldier crab. He loves the sea grapes,” Skerritt Construction’s Ferris Skerritt said. “His kind live under the dead leaves. First thing he’ll do is ban anyone cutting trees. If we can’t clear land, we can’t build houses. That kind of extremism’ll kill the island’s economy.”

Other locals worry the new administration will curtail traditional pastimes.

“He’s anti-fishing, I guarantee you that,” Dermott Bottoms said. “What soldier crab isn’t? He lost too many friends and family as snapper bait. He outlaws fishing, how we gonna feed our families? And what’ll we do while we drink beer?”

Most locals, however, are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“It’s not a big deal,” Eagle Ray Cove bartender Mallory LaTrode said. “It’s Blacktip. People here sort things out among themselves anyway. What has me worried is our new vice-mayor is a black widow spider.”

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Blacktip Island Conch Racers Face Stiff Competition

Racing conchs battle for position in Thursday’s qualification round.

Racing conchs battle for position in Thursday’s qualification round.

Blacktip Island’s fastest conchs will go head-to-head Friday in the Caribbean island’s 13th Annual Conch Races at Diddley’s Landing public pier.

“It’s an island tradition started generations ago by young men trying to get young women down to the beach at night,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Next thing you know, someone cooked up an actual race to give the story a veneer of truth. Things took off from there.”

As ever, the races will feature a four-heat, single-elimination format, with the winner of each heat advancing to the championship race.

“This isn’t your father’s conch racing,” conch aficionado Wendy Beaufort said. “Large or small, these conchs are specially groomed for speed. And the competition’s gotten really cutthroat.

“Two years ago someone nicked a conch’s foot with a dive knife pre-race. The poor thing could only limp in a circle. Then last year’s winner tested positive for Viagra.”

The conchs will race on the island’s sand conch course 20 yards offshore from the pier.

“Underwater space for kneeling’ll be available for folks who want to watch first-hand,” race organizer B.C. Flote said. “Most watch via webcam in topside bars, though. They can have a beer there and not worry about their air supply. As hard as these conchs go, they still move at a snail’s pace. A race can take an hour or more.

“This year we’ve also glued GPS trackers on the shells so fans can follow along on their smart phones or tablets. We color code each conch to keep them straight. We thought about naming them, but that seemed silly. Only land crabbers name their racers.”

The event will climax in a cook off featuring conch fritters, chowder, ceviche and burgers.

“Visitors are horrified that we eat the winner,” B.C. Flote said. “But we don’t play favorites. We eat all these suckers. What else would you do them?

“The winner does get its shell spray painted gold and set in the racing club’s trophy case, though. What more could a conch ask for?”

“This is always an exciting time on the island,” resident Alison Diesel said. “Nothing beats a good conch race.”

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Blacktip Island Braces For Palindrome Slam

The winner of Saturday’s palindrome slam will name one of the Caribbean island’s new scuba dive sites.

The winner of Saturday’s palindrome slam will name one of the Caribbean island’s new scuba dive sites.

Saturday brings Blacktip Island’s third annual Palindrome Festival to Blacktip Haven resort, celebrating words and phrases spelled the same backwards and forwards.

“It’s a celebration of our cultural heritage,” event organizer Emma Lamme said. “Blacktip has been at the forefront of international palindroming for generations. People think of Blacktip Islanders as a bunch of beer-swilling scuba bums and fishermen. This event shows we’re so much more than that.”

The island’s top palindrome artists are expected to compete in Saturday evening’s palindrome slam.

“Show up with something weak like ‘racecar’ or ‘do geese see God,’ you’re going down hard,” contestant Lee Helm said. “Last year I threw down ‘go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog’ and finished dead last.”

“There’s several dyslexic locals who are absolute wizards at palindromes,” Emma Lamme said. “We wanted to disallow them this year, but we got the ballots reversed.”

In a break with precedent, the composer of this year’s winning palindrome will get to name one of the island’s new dive sites.

“Years past we let them name a site after the winning whaddya-call-it,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “That’s how we ended up with Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas reef and wall. We’re not having a repeat of that nonsense.”

Last year’s runners up included:

  • Tarzan raised Desi Arnaz’ rat
  • Eliot nixes sex in toilet
  • Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak
  • Lisa Bonet ate no basil
  • Eros? Sidney, my end is sore

“Payne Hanover won an honorable mention for ‘rum, rum, I murmur,’ but I don’t think he knew he was competing,” Lamme said. “Frankly, I’m not sure he was fully conscious.”

Island authorities are prepared for unruly crowds after last year’s brawl between rival palindromers spilled into the street, sending six festival-goers to the island clinic.

“It was a question mark that caused the ruckus,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Alison Diesel rattled off, ‘Golf? No sir, prefer prison flog,’ Jessie Catahoula wanted it disqualified because the punctuation didn’t work in reverse, then all hell broke loose.”

The festival will also feature palindrome-related music and film.

“We’ll be playing ABBA and Emily’s Sassy Lime all weekend,” Lamme said. “We’ll also be showing select movies in forward and reverse. Most people don’t realize Oklahoma! played backwards is Paint Your Wagon. You just have to squint. And pinch your ears.

“After midnight there’ll be a reverse beer drinking contest out back, too,” Lamme added, “but that’s not an officially-sanctioned part of the festival.”

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Battle of the Bands Rocks Blacktip Island

Blacktip Island’s Battle of the Bands  will feature the Caribbean island’s top musical acts.

Blacktip Island’s Battle of the Bands will feature the Caribbean island’s top musical acts.

Eagle Ray Cove scuba resort will celebrate the end of summer with Blacktip Island’s 9th annual Battle of the Bands this weekend. The three-day music festival will showcase the island’s top musicians, with the winner earning a contract with Island Records.

“This year’s acts are as diverse as the island’s population,” festival organizer Jay Valve said. “From traditional island country-western to death metal, there’ll be something for everyone.”

The lineup of bands includes:

  • The Social Morays
  • TURTLE!!!
  • Effing Zeagles
  • Ivan the Embolizer
  • Red Über Red
  • Young Jacques and the Double Hose
  • See You Next Tuesday
  • Duck on a Junebug

“We built a stage out over the water,” Eagle Ray Cove manager Mickey Smarr said. “It’ll limit access to the musicians and cut down on folks rushing the stage, like spoiled the last few Battles.

“There’ll be a few drunks who try, sure, but they’ll have to swim. And we’ve been chumming the water to draw in the sharks. It’s way cheaper than hiring security.”

The festival will kick off with local favorite Young Jacques and the Double Hose performing Black Sabbath covers on steel drums.

“You haven’t heard ‘War Pigs’ until you’ve heard it banged on pans,” double-tenor pannist Cori Anders said. “We’re redefining ‘heavy metal’ for a new generation.”

Other bands have taken similarly creative approaches.

“We do lounge-punk,” Effing Zeagle guitarist Casey Piper said. “Think Green Day does Sinatra – ‘I’ve got you under my skin,’ if you take my meaning. And I think you do.”

A newcomer to this year’s competition, Red Über Red will play German techno on dog whistles.

“You can’t really hear anything, but, man damn, does it get people dancing,” said pennywhistler Marina DeLow. “And when we play our recordings underwater for divers, it morphs into ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik.’”

The festival will also feature traditional quadrille dancing and cloggers between musical acts.

“We’ve gone out of our way to make the festival family friendly,” Valve said. “We’re even have non-alcoholic beer for the kids.”

Proceeds from the concert go to the Blacktip Island Institute of Noetic Sciences.

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