Greenwich Gossip

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

5,000 Hits?!

Well, boys and girls, it looks as though before the day is over "Greenwich Gossip" will have scored 5,000 hits on the visitors' counter. Actually, that number is a little fuzzy, since the counter wasn't added until a month or so after the infant weblog made its debut; moreover, it also notches upwards every time your scribe himself visits the site in order to write a new post. But it's close enough for blogland purposes, methinks.

Let us then take a moment to reflect on what has now been nearly a year of blogging. Are we here in Greenwich better off than last summer? Well, in many ways, the answer is a resounding "Yes!". Jim Lash is packing his bags at Town Hall, Jimmy Wawa has left for parts unknown (curiously, it seems he doesn't want us to know how to find him; one hears he rented a phone booth for his farewell party, and still had trouble filling it), and David Ridberg takes over today as the new Chief of Police. Peace seems to reign between the cop union and management, including the commish at Town Hall. No more picketing, no more "Lash Out!" tee shirts, no more "FLASH" bumper stickers, no more votes of no confidence.

Likewise, the growth of the invasive chain store kudzu on Greenwich Avenue has been slowed, and even cut back in places. There are a record number of vacant storefronts as the chains have realized that a) they are not welcome here and b) they will wind up losing money thanks to the rapacious landlords who keep jacking up the rents past all reason. The family-owned stores like Betteridge's and Richards are doing fabulously well, and have now been joined by Shep and Ian's Vineyard Vines (local boys who have made good, and then some!).

So, all in all, Greenwich is a happier and nicer place to live than it was a year ago. Your scribe would like to think that his blog is part of the reason for this - post hoc ergo propter hoc, and all that - as well as that some of those 5,000 hits may have been from people who have helped to bring about some of the changes of the past year, and found inspiration and ideas in these pages. But modesty forbids such thoughts; and part of the fun of blogging is that one never knows (do one?) where the sown seeds may fall, and which ones may bear fruit.

So let us wave to all those who have stopped by to visit, including the finally-divorced AuthorBabe, the newly-published (see yesterday's post) AuthorWhiz, and the soon-to-be-published author of the never-to-be-forgotten "Trevor and the Tooth Fairy", Miss Erica herself. And, of course, all the lurkers, like Neil and Joanne Bouknight, Ed Krumeich, and other faithful readers who make the counter click but never leave a comment. Cheers, one and all!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Catching Up

Yikes! It's been a week since I last blogged - whatever *have* I been up to? Let's see, now....

Actually, there's not much to report (or otherwise I would have reported it earlier, duh). School is out, so no more choral concerts or evensongs until the fall. The RTM is also on vacation until September, so no news there. The band shell at the park down by the harbor has disappeared, so no Pops concerts this summer. Your scribe is sorry at the loss of the said band shell, which for a decade or more was the venue of some memorable summer evenings, including the glitzy Diana Ross concert replete with colored lights and costume changes and all the Motown favorites. Ah, well, as Heraclitus reminds us, change is the only constant....

So Paris Hilton is back out of jail today, resolving to lead a "changed life", it is said - good old Heraclitus at work again, no doubt. One hears that she may get six months' probation knocked off her remaining debt to society in return for "community service", which in this case could mean doing a 30-second PSA. Five seconds per month of remitted probation - not a bad deal, it would seem.

On the literary front, Diana Peterfreund's new book, "Under the Rose", hit the shelves on Greenwich Avenue today. It is rumored that it contains a sex scene as steamy as any Paris Hilton videotape, but as this is a family blog, your scribe will refrain from dwelling on this aspect of the book. It is further rumored that the publisher applied invisible glue to the outside cover, such that when someone picks it up and starts to read it, they are unable to put it down. Having started to read an ARC of the book one evening, and not getting to bed until the wee hours of the following morning, your faithful reporter will attest that there may be some truth to this story.

And old man summer is here in full force - hazy, hot, humid 90+ degree weather. It wasn't that long ago that everyone was complaining about the cold and snow. Old Heraclitus would have made a heck of a good weather prognosticator: the forecast is for change. So far he hasn't been wrong yet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rules of the Road

Your scribe was interested to learn that the Vatican is taking an interest in how we drive. Click on the following link to read the Ten Commandments of the Road:

Thou shalt shun road rage

Actually, this is a commendable effort to get us all to be a little more other-directed in our driving, which is undoubtedly an excellent idea. Curiously enough, your scribe has never thought of the automobile as "an occasion for sin", such as (according to the article) when transporting prostitutes, but hey - why not? He has seen enough Greenwich matrons using language that would make a sailor blush while piloting their SUVs around Town; and even though they are not transporting prostitutes, but their own young children, it's pretty clear that one is watching an occasion for sin unfold before one's very eyes. Let us hope that the priests in the confessional will remember to ask about their flock's driving habits in addition to whatever other erring and straying they may have done in the past week.

Here's a picture of what can happen to those who do not follow the Vatican's rules:

The Toyota SUV is attempting to devour the Toyota sedan. Ironically, this act of automotive cannibalism is occuring in front of the Toyota dealership. Click on the picture to enlarge it for all the gory metallic details. As far as your scribe knows, no one was injured in this melee, but it is clear that someone or other zigged when they should have zagged.

With that, your scribe is off to check out the scene on Greenwich Avenue, where, not unlike Bunyan's Vanity Fair, there is constant flux. One store closes, and another opens. A restaurant folds, and another starry-eyed hopeful takes its place. The half-life of an establishment on the Avenue seems to be getting shorter year by year, as the old-time family-owned stores diminish, and the trendy but rootless boutiques spring up in their stead. Your scribe almost wishes he could tell these newcomers that the storefront they are so proudly occupying for the moment has not seen a tenant last for more than two years over the past two decades. Some of these locations clearly have bad karma...but one supposes that this is not a subject often taught in the business schools of today. And so they keep coming, with stars in their eyes, only to leave with their tail between their legs. John Bunyan sure knew all there is to know about Greenwich Avenue, even though he died centuries before it became the outdoor shopping mall it is today.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Warning: Put This Book Down NOW!!

After finding an unsolicited book review on his windscreen earlier in the week, your scribe has been engrossed in wheedling and whining for a copy of said book. As the astute reader will notice from checking the comments section of the prior post, the gracious author had already emailed it to him as an attachment, and he never even noticed. How dumb is that, we all well may ask? (Please don’t answer.)

Well, when Ms. Ridley was kind enough to send a follow-up email to clue him in, your scribe promptly printed out the attachment and took it to his “office”, a stone wall on Greenwich Avenue where he reads, holds court, greets his friends, and signs the occasional book. There it was that he read Trevor and the Tooth Fairy in its not inconsiderable entirety (the process took more than one day, be it noted. He even developed a case of “reader’s cramp”, not to be confused, of course, with “writer’s cramp”.).

Your scribe now wishes to report that this book should come with a warning label. In the interests of public safety, he hereby offers the following draft of such an admonition:

Warning! Do not pick up this book. Do not open it and read one or two pages at random. Disregard of this warning may lead to fits of uncontrollable laughter and a busted gut.

Further warning: On no account read any of the sex scenes. You may wind up being arrested for spontaneous acts of public indecency.

Final warning: unless you believe in True Love, this book is most definitely NOT for you. Put it down NOW! You have been warned!!

Well, gentle reader, your scribe has done his best to make sure that the unwary and weak-minded will not pick up, or read, much less buy, this extremely dangerous book. (Remember Mallory’s definition of “daungerous”? Hoo, boy! Old Sir Tom knew whereof he spoke! This book is hot stuff!)

And so, having performed his public duty for the day, your scribe hereby retires to his “office” with the latest Clive Cussler (The Navigator), knowing that however short that book may fall of Ms. Ridley’s, at least he is in no further danger of contracting reader's cramp. When he gets bored with the episodic plots and subplots of Cussler, it's just a short jaunt down to the ferryboats and the islands beyond. Ah, summertime in Greenwich...where the living is sweet indeed!

(Word count 400+; daily challenge met and exceeded.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Adult Fairy Tale Romance Novel

Word is already spreading, dear reader, about a story that may become one of the hottest new books on the fall list. Your scribe found the following tucked under the windshield wiper of his car while it was parked on Greenwich Avenue, and he hastens to share it with you:

Reader review: If anyone had told me a month ago that I would be reading a novel about an apprentice tooth fairy, I would have told them that they have more holes in their head than their teeth alone could account for. But that was before someone slipped me a copy of "Trevor and the Tooth Fairy", asking for my reactions.

Despite - or perhaps because of - its improbable title, I was hooked from the first sentence on. Now, lest anyone think I am an easy mark, literarily speaking, let me modestly say that my A.B. with honors in English from Harvard and my M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Yale make me nobody's patsy. I can tell a hawk from a handsaw, and a well-written book from a shopworn refugee from the slush pile.

Let there be no mistake that "TATTF" is a minor masterpiece in a brand-new genre - the adult fairy tale romance novel - and a book that may well develop into the "hit" of the new publishing season. Listen, if you will, to this fresh authorial voice:

"Two troublesome facts jerked anthropologist Trevor Masterson awake from his favorite erotic dream.

"First, he'd fallen asleep facedown on his specimen tray, and now miscellaneous debris dug into his skin, clinging to his chin like a dirt goatee.

"Second, the female form struggling to free herself from the mosquito netting looked nothing like Katrina--the only female on Trevor's team--and more like a Victoria's Secret model."

Thus Trevor meets Daisy, who is about to complicate his life past all reparation. One morning he awakes, unsure "...which roused him from his stupor--the crick in his back from balancing on the hard desk or the warm, stiff nipple poking in his ear." What happens shortly thereafter is so mind-bending that you wouldn't believe me even if I told you.

Trevor soon finds himself realizing that he had "...the distinct impression that his next few words would make the difference whether she stayed a little longer or disappeared in a puff of smoke." But the course of true love rarely runs straight and true: "Daisy followed Trevor down the gray hallway to the Anthropology lab, careful to stay at least two feet behind him so he wouldn't singe her eyelashes with his perpetual glowering."

There's much more to share, but this will give you a sense of the vivacity of debut author Erica Ridley's writing. I am sure "TATTF" will be one of those books that people pick up and think, hmm...this isn't for me - and then read it regardless and wind up gabbing about it to all their friends. I mean, some books are just *meant* to be read, regardless of such superfluities as age or sex or genre or preconceptions or what-have-you. And this is definitely one of them.

Well, dear reader, you now know as much as your scribe does. Word has it that Ms. Ridley has graciously agreed to do a book signing here in Greenwich once the book is published. The line may not stretch around the block, as it did when Stephen King came to Town recently, but it could easily fill the sidewalks of Arcadia Road, or Greenwich Avenue, or Grigg Street, or perhaps all three. One word of caution, gentle reader: make sure that your children are at least of Judy Blume age before letting them near this book; one gathers from the excerpts of the anonymous reviewer that this is not your average bedtime story.

Paris Hilton Update

No, dear reader, this is not about the fact that Greenwich has recaptured the world's record for the fastest revolving jail cell door. We all know that Paris is being brave and toughing it out in jail, with the occasional visit from her sister or the odd ex-boyfriend.

No, your scribe just wanted to share with y'all the following tidbit from Jesse Kornbluth, aka the Head Butler ( [in Paris purple]:

" fact was never mentioned in the media I consumed: the car Paris was driving the night she was stopped doing 70 miles an hour, with the headlights off, in a 35 mile an hour zone. I would bet you may know it's a Bentley, flashy and expensive --- but that's all you know. On the theory that facts may help you decide what punishment is fair in this case, consider this: The Bentley GTC is a 552-horsepower, 12-cylinder, twin-turbocharged vehicle that weighs 5,500 pounds. How much do you think a new Mercedes 500 --- the honking big, top-of-the line sedan --- weighs? 4,100 pounds, or 1,400 pounds less than Paris Hilton's coupe. Which means her Bentley is a cross between a rocket and a tank. Fair to say that if she had hit someone at any significant speed, the ambulance driver wouldn't have needed to rush the victim to a hospital."

As you may recall, your scribe wrote [in Greenwich green], "...let us also hope that she will confine her future escapades to ones that do not threaten to inflict bodily injury on others...." At the time he wrote these words, he had no idea how close to the truth he was. Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jesse for giving us the facts of the case!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Paris Hilton Pulls a Diana Ross

In the ongoing saga of revolving jail cell doors, it seems that Greenwich may no longer hold the world's record. As faithful readers of this blog will remember, Diana Ross was sentenced to serve 72 hours in the local hoosegow to satisfy an Arizona court's sentence for a drunk driving conviction. Diana was allowed to leave her cell one evening for a dinner party, and sent home another night when there was no female officer on duty (like, the cops couldn't have foreseen this in advance?). The Arizona authorities were far from gruntled, you may be sure; but that's kinda how things work in this town: one set of rules for Diana Ross, and another set for the rest of us.

Comes now Paris Hilton, guilty of violating probation for her drunk driving conviction. Her 45-day sentence was reduced in advance to 23 days, for alleged good behavior (she showed up in court as the judge ordered), and she wound up serving only 3 days (but with credit for 5). So while Diana got around a 50% celebrity discount on her debt to society, Paris wound up with closer to a 95% discount.

Now your scribe has nothing against poor Paris...well, she's not poor, exactly, but you know what I mean. After all, we need to gossip about someone, and she certainly gives us lots of material to keep our tongues wagging. Moreover, it appears that she was suffering from an as-yet-unspecified medical condition while in the lock-up, and I think we should all suspend our disbelief and give her the benefit of the doubt until the mysterious malady is revealed on Page Six and in the supermarket tabloids. Is she pregnant with the baby of an alien space monster? Be sure, dear reader, that the National Enquirer will tell all.

Seriously, it's a little hard to take that some people - most, actually - can't catch a break in the American legal system, while others are given special accomodations and favored treatment. I could write a book about examples drawn from right here in little old Greenwich; in fact, no doubt someday I will. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton has a new piece of ankle jewelry, and is back amid the creature comforts of her four-bedroom three-bathroom Hollywood Hills home. That's the way of the world, dear reader; and while I am sure we all wish her a speedy recovery from her medical condition, let us also hope that she will confine her future escapades to ones that do not threaten to inflict bodily injury on others, but only to rot their minds and numb their brains. After all, she's as entitled to the protections of the First Amendment as anyone else in this great country of ours.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Showdown at the Christ Church Corral

Saturday night at Christ Church was the best cheap date you could find here in Greenwich, dear reader. Two brilliant young British organists, both from St. Paul's Cathedral in London, joined themselves at the hip on the organ bench and regaled us with a concert the likes of which has never been seen nor heard before in Town - nor probably anywhere else, either.

James Kennerley and Huw Williams have known each other for quite a while, of course, but they had never played together. To hear them tell it, there was a bit of territorial turf-fighting at the beginning, as each felt the other was encroaching on his side of the bench, much in the same way my little sister used to cross the line of demarcation in the back seat of the car and infringe on my side during our long trips to the Midwest in our childhood. But James and Huw are professionals, and much more mature than my kid sister was, so they quickly learned to accomodate each other.

Given that Huw had come to Town just a few hours earlier, and thus the two of them had had only a minimal amount of practice time together, the results were utterly stupendous. They seemed to think and play as one person, always in sync, hands jumping from keyboard to keyboard with never a mid-air collision, and even at one point trading fingers with each other on a long sustained note.

But even their technical brilliance paled before their musical brilliance. Never in its long and honorable history has the organ sounded as versatile and awesome as it did that night. Everything was enhanced, of course, by the large screen onto which Joanne Bouknight projected the video stream of the action at the console: four hands jumping all over the four keyboards, and four feet doing the same to the pedalboard. Gallery organ and main organ thundered back and forth at each other in sound combinations that simply could not be produced by a single player. It was an astonishing, astounding, and almost unbelievable display of musical genius and virtuosity.

Of course, the performers can't take all the credit. Even though these two youngsters could probably have improvised a program equal in brilliance to the one they presented, one must also give due acknowledgment to the composers and arrangers who created the music that James and Huw played. Every work was a masterpiece, by the way; on a scale of one to ten, this program rated between eleven and twelve for technical difficulty and compositional genius. Talk about world-class!

OK, dear scribe, I hear you say, enough with the hyperbole - tell us what they played. Right-o: the first piece was "Variations on an Easter Theme" by John Rutter, the well-known English composer whose choral music is probably sung more than that of any other living musician. John came here to Greenwich back in the mid-eighties, by the way, and led a workshop sponsored by Lowell Lacey at Second Congo. We got to sing many of his best-known pieces with Lowell at the organ and John conducting - what an experience! Your scribe started a trend by asking John to autograph his sheet music. Then we all went over to the Belle Haven Club, where your genial chorister/reporter hosted a luncheon during which we heard rollicking anecdotes about John's love life. One concerned an ex-girlfriend who was scheduled to play the piano in the premiere of one of his works; John rewrote the piano part to add zillions of extra notes, thus making it almost impossible to play, and sent the new music to her the day before the performance. His ex-girlfriend Susan, not to be outdone, stayed up all night to practice, and played it all note-perfect the next day. Only in England, dear reader.

The piece itself, to borrow James's words, "demonstrates the full resources of the two organs at Christ Church." The theme, "O Filii et Filiae", is first belted out by the "trompette en chamade" at the rear of the church - the loudest and most powerful stop on the organ. Eight variations follow, each showing off a different set of tonal qualities of the instrument. It is impossible not to love Rutter's wonderful music!

The heat and humidity of the day, along with the necessity of opening the doors and windows to clear out the oder of eau de skunk that had earlier permeated the church, had conspired to put the grand piano hopelessly out of tune vis-a-vis the organ. Luckily, a high-quality electronic keyboard was available, and if you didn't know that that's what it was, dear reader, you would have sworn it sounded like a Steinway. This keyboard came into play, so to speak, for Cesar Franck's "Prelude, Fugue, and Variation", one of the great organ works of the Romantic period. Your scribe, who has played this piece in recital on two continents, could hardly begin to imagine what it would sound like as a piano-organ duet; afterwards, he was all but convinced that if Franck himself had thought to write it this way, he surely would have.

The gentle lilt of the Prelude was shared between the two instuments, and then the piano took over for the "bridge passage" leading into the fugue. The richness of the overtones in the gradual crescendo were far superior to what the organ is able to accomplish by adding stops and opening the swell box; it was like hearing what the music should really sound like for the first time. Then the organ began with the upper voices of the Fugue, the piano chiming in on the tenor and bass lines - although pretty soon it became mix and match as the instruments built up to the great climax before the Variation. Then the organ took the theme from the Prelude, while the piano took the rippling accompaniment, and again the combination was everything Franck had envisioned, and more.

Each of the two artists did a solo piece, as though to reclaim the turf rights to the organ bench for a few minutes. Huw did a splendid - nay, masterful - rendition of the "Allegro" from Widor's 6th Organ Symphony, one of your scribe's favorite pieces. Your roving reporter sat back and cupped his partially-open hand around his shell-like ear, using a technique he was taught back in 7th grade to enhance one's listening pleasure. The basic effect is to make everything sound as though one is in an enormous cathedral, with both volume and overtones greatly enhanced. Sheer bliss, gentle reader, sheer bliss.

Gustav Merkel's "Sonata in D Minor", written for four hands and feet, is almost never performed these days, for the simple reason that it's all but impossible to find two geniuses like James and Huw together in the same place at the same time. Which is the our loss, dear reader; this virtuoso piece epitomizes a Romantic style somewhere between Mendelssohn and Bach that fills a unique niche in the canon of musical history. The fugue, in particular, could almost have come straight from the pen of Papa Bach, with its bouncy subject and counter-subject, developed as old J. S. himself might have done, and using the circle of fifths in a manner reminiscent of the "Toccata in F Major". Awe-inspiring, and a piece none of us is ever likely to hear in live performance again.

Then it was James's turn to solo, and he picked another rarely-heard piece, "Salamanca" from the "Trois Preludes Hambourgeois" by the Swiss organist and composer Guy Bovet (b. 1942). Based on an improvisation on a Spanish folk tune that is either about a donkey or a fille de joie (depending on whether you consult the workmen who suggested the theme or the scandalized parish priest who almost died when he heard it), this piece elicted some of the weirder sounds ever to come out of the Christ Church organs, both main and gallery. James's interpretation was utterly brilliant - a true virtuoso performance.

Next followed Guilmant's "Scherzo Capriccioso", originally composed for piano and harmonium. The organ-piano interchange is amazing, as each instrument tries to outdo the other in scintillating keyboard work. Once again, the sheer virtuosity of both performers took one's breath away. And they made it all seem so easy!

Then the two rejoined at the hip for an unforgettable rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy" from "The Nutcracker". The little girl in the pew in front of your scribe, who had been curled up horizontally for much of the program, came alive and sat up with a start. "Do you know this one?" your scribe asked her. "Yes", she said, her eyes wide as saucers. Her mother, who had clearly taken her to Lincoln Center at Christmastime, had a big grin on her face at her daughter's obvious pleasure. The arrangment by Jonathan Vaughan, former Organ Scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge (an organ your scribe once played when he was 15, courtesy of the late George Guest, who kindly added and subtracted stops to help make the rather pedestrian "Dorian" toccata sound much more interesting) and currently working at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. The gallery organ provided some beautifully ethereal and celestial sounds, and the arrangement as a whole showed what the organ can do by way of imitating an orchestra.

Indeed, while organs have theoretically been designed to sound like symphony orchestras, with strings and reeds and woodwinds and all the rest, it is doubtful that the Christ Church organ has ever sounded so much like one as it did during the performance of "Jupiter" from Gustav Holst's suite, "The Planets". Again, a talented young Britisher, Robert Quinney, currently Sub-Organist at Westminster Abbey, created the brilliant arrangement for organ duet. Your scribe never ceases to be amazed at the sheer abundance of musical talent that seems to be pouring out of the British Isles these days. Perhaps there's something in the water over there? Played on the organ, the work becomes very French-sounding in parts, until Holst reasserts his Englishness with stately themes such as that which later became the hymn tune "Thaxted". It was during this piece, dear reader, that James and Huw swapped fingers on a long sustained note - something new to these eyes, and an apt emblem of the symbiosis between them. They finished to a standing ovation, of course.

Then Geoffrey Silver invited us to a reception in the Family Room, but James and Huw weren't ready to let us go yet. "We have a few Stars and Stripes for you," said James, and the two of them launched into a rousing four-handed four-footed version of Sousa's great classic. Now the organ no longer sounded like a symphony orchestra; it had been transformed into a marching band, 76 trumbones and all. Again the virtuosity of these Transatlantic cousins created a bravura performance, one that had to be seen and heard to be believed. Another standing ovation ensued, of course.

Then we repaired to the Family Room for wine, champagne, cheese, salmon, and other goodies. Huw had some CDs of a recital he'd performed at St. Paul's, and they sold like hotcakes. "Four left...two left," said Geoffrey, and then there were none. Rob Ainsley, conductor of the Greenwich Music Festival (and Christ Church music program alumnus) deserves special mention not only for his deft page-turning, but also for his nimble assistance in pressing pistons to change registrations, often ducking under the flying hands of the performers to press the right button at just the right instant. On the Holst, it is fair to say that there were really three performers, as the results simply could never have been achieved by James and Huw alone. Great work, Rob!

And again, kudos to Joanne Bouknight, who made it possible for us all to be standing right behind the musicians throughout the performance. She is getting very good at zooming in and panning back to focus on the action, whether it be hands leaping from one keyboard to another, or feet flying over the pedals. Thanks, Joanne!

And most of all, thanks to James and Huw, who gave us a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. That is, unless we can persuade them to do this again, whenever Huw comes back to the States....please, pretty please?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

AuthorBabe Tag Sale

There is so much to write about at this time of year that it's difficult to know where to begin. On Wednesday the GHS choral groups gave their spring Pops Concert, which of course deserves a post to itself. Last evening was "Hack" Night at Richards, which is also worthy of a separate post. Tonight is the showdown at the Christ Church corral in which duelling organs will duke it out for musical supremacy. It promises to be a noteworthy event. Meanwhile, it's a gorgeous high-summer day here in Town, as hazy and hot and humid as you could wish, considering that the solstice is still three weeks away. A perfect day, in other words, to veg out and go tag-saling.

The Local Rag classified section mentioned a sale on Riversville Road, but gave no address. The AuthorBabe's blog, saraclaradara, mentioned a tag sale but gave no date. However, your intrepid scribe, never one to shirk a mental challenge, added two and two together and came up with 514, which turned out to be the correct answer.

It's a good thing your roving reporter knew where he was going, because there were no signs at all to help guide the curious. Only a small placard above the AB's mailbox confirmed the exactitude of his arithmetic. So, for one last time, your scribe turned his wheels into the AB's driveway and proceeded up the hill to the ex-marital manse.

Quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore, Vergil exclaimed in Book II of the Aeneid when he saw the shade of Hector in a dream as he appeared after having been slain and dragged around the walls of Troy by Achilles. And quantum mutatus was the no-longer-marital McMansion. Bare of furniture, the rooms looked smaller, depersonalized, a shadow of their former selves. Your scribe gave himself a self-guided tour of the premises, listening for the ghosts of past revels and AuthorBabial, salons...oh, heck, let's tell it like it was: they were boisterous, roisterous saloons, dear reader, in which great and jolly good times were had by all.

There were a few surviving traces of the aura of the AB and her children. One was a label taped above a computer screen: "I LOVE MUMMY! I LOVE MUMMY!" Eerily enough, the next time your scribe looked at the screen, the label has disappeared, or so it seemed; in actuality, it had somehow managed to wrap itself around his left index finger. Bemused but not overly disconcerted by this strange phenomenon, your scribe continued on his tour.

In a corner of Mini-Me's bedroom was a bright shiny penny dated 2003. On one side was the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and on the other a portcullis. Deciding that this coin of the realm was not meant to be part of the new owner's property, but instead constituted treasure trove, your scribe reached down and appropriated it for some future, as yet unknown, purpose. Perhaps Mini-Me will notice its absence as she unpacks in her new house, and will be rescued from the throes of depression by its timely reappearance in the scribal hand. No doubt this small coin has many stories to tell, and will have many more to tell in the future.

Speaking of Queen Elizabeth, there was a stunning portrait of what at first glimpse seemed to be Her Majesty Herself in the back hallway. Painted in 1960, it was clearly reminiscent of the Queen's famous portrait painted some eight years earlier upon her accession. (By the way, today marks the 54th anniversary of her coronation in Westminster Abbey, filmed in glorious Technicolor and sent out to the cinemas of the world. It was upon seeing this film that your young scribe developed a strong crush on a woman three times his age. Today, of course, his gaze tends to linger on those one-third his age, but that's another story....)

It developed that the portrait was of the AB's mother, and sure enough, the facial features were recognizable. The eye color was different, and the hair color, but the cheekbones proved the relationship. "Make an offer," said the woman who was running the tag sale; but the only reason to do so would have been to give the painting back to the AB. Instead, your scribe told the woman to relay a message to the AB that she should hang on to it herself, and perhaps hand it on to her daughter at the appropriate time. Let's hope, dear reader, that this turns out to be the case.

And then it was back out into the dust and heat of the day. It's great beach weather, and would be fabulous ferry weather, if only this Town could get its act together and start the ferry service to the islands on Memorial Day weekend instead of the second weekend in June. If and when your scribe ever becomes First Selectman, dear reader, his first official act will be to extend the ferry schedule from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend. And if that's the only thing he ever accomplishes during his time in office, it will be more than enough for hundreds of grateful Townspeople to erect a statute in his honor down in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, in that grassy corner near the harbor where the fishermen like to sit on the wall and dangle their lines. Let's hope the sculptor gets the dress code right: polo shirt, khaki shorts, and Topsiders - your scribe's summer uniform. And what's that in his right hand? Oh, of course - it's the schedule for the Islander II, which runs out to Great Captain's Island when the tide is right - an indispensable part of any knowledgeable ferry rider's beach kit. Only one week to go...!