Monday, June 29, 2009

Lake Effect

The lazy days of summer are well upon the happy inhabitants of Penguin Hall, and most of those have been spent enjoying a delightfully pleasant June.
These days, when unemployment looms largely on the horizon and the NY State Senate may require the services not of a governor, but of a "Super Nanny", it is heartening to see that some things remain free. Marcellus celebrated their famous "Olde Home Days" with a traditional old home parade earlier this month, and the local residents turned out in droves to cheer on their favorite sports group, church or fire department. In a decidedly different change of pace, the first week in June did not appear to invoke the wrath of the weather gods. Temperatures stayed in the moderate range and the parade went off with nary a drop of rain nor gale force winds. All the usual suspects were present: all emergency departments in a ten mile radius were invited, Shriners of every shape and vehicle, and it was rumored that they were actually busing the children in from neighboring communities- there were so many present along the parade route this year. Mrs. Hall was delighted at the inclusion of her favorite Miata club again and it seemed to her there were a few fresh faces (grilles?) this year. She managed to help wrap up the rummage sale just in time to scurry to the curb and join Mr. H. while filming the parade for posterity. (The Eastern Star Ladies cleared a tidy $235.00 from the sale this year; not bad given donations were unusually low and they faced stiff competition from an annual rival, St. Francis Church, at the other end of town. Ever since they icily announced that they were the true owners of the label "Trash and Treasure Sale" in Marcellus and would we kindly change the name of our event so as not to confuse the public, a certain coolness has sprung up between the groups, and a fervent rivalry drives their prices down- and Marcellians' profit up.) Adding to the fun, because of heavy rains the previous week, there was enough water in the creek to support the Annual Duck Race (past year's events here) without the necessary addition of volunteers to kick the ducks down a dry creek bed. All in all, a very satisfying weekend.

A cursory examination of the community calendar reveals the local's love of the summertime obscure: examples of some of these include: Osceola's Free Olde Tyme Fiddler's Contest, Baldwinsville's Kids Fishing Derby/ Blessing of the Fleet Day, Jamesville's Civil War Re-enactment and Mrs. Hall's favorite, Old Forge's Frog Jumping/ Ugly Tie Contest Day. Almost overlooked in all this excitement is the country club's Sunday afternoon barbeques. The Halls were present and accounted for last week, enjoying the stately and long neglected sport of doing little or nothing at all, as slowly as possible.

Monday, June 22, 2009

S'Marvellous S'Marcellus

If the appellation sounds a little tipsy, it's only apropos, for nothing puts more of a shine on the old homestead than being viewed under the influence of a little liquid lubrication. The townspeople seem to be of one mind in this regard; witness the local coffee shop. In the course of approximately three years, it has changed hands at least four times, possibly more; floundering and failing to somehow gain a toehold in the community. However, the drinking establishments have actually thrived; one in fact, enjoying extensive renovations both inside and out. This is no surprize to the locals. The elder residents have always wisely known: one need only spend a few seasons in Marcellus to appreciate the value of decent intoxicants.
Unfortunately, no amount of shine was visible last Sunday- that was Father's Day and the traditional day of the Great Fly In Breakfast at Marcellus International Airport. The unseasonably chilly weather this year had brought some hazey mornings lately to the valley, but Sunday might as well have been called the Great Fog In Breakfast. Weather issues notwithstanding, bright and early, the big black car rolled into the field and parked in the grass- Mr. H. surpressing a shudder as he slid on the turf. At first, it appeared the workers were going to outnumber the guests, but as the fog evaporated, the crowds emerged, and soon, the grills and skillets were buzzing with activity. "I see the mayflies are late this year", said Mrs. Hall, as they waited under the ancient timbers of Hanger #2, "I hope those are blueberries in the pancakes." Master Ian had joined them for the breakfast that morning and asked Mr. H. if he would have taken off in this stew; "Sure, take off- no problem!" he answered. "I just wouldn't land in it." he replied. That must have been the prevailing pilot philosophy, for the only planes to be seen were the ones in disrepair by the other hangers. "Too foggy for anything" muttered Ian, but Mrs. Hall chimed up, "Nonsense- I thought I saw the tail of a 747 just over there!" Despite her claims to have caught a photo, none at the community table could be persuaded of the fact.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Airport Follies

The tires on the big black car barely had time to cool down last week. On Friday, Mr. and Mrs. Hall happily attended the ceremony for their friend (and attorney) Joseph E. Lamendola, on the occasion of his elevation from Lt. Colonel to Full Bird at the Heritage Club, located at Hancock Airport. Nearly fifty people, both friends and clients of Mr. Lamendola, cheered him on as he received the Meritorious Service Award and his fresh new pair of eagle embroidered epaulettes, presented to him by the current and previous Commanders of the 174th Fighter Wing. Cocktails and a dinner buffet tempted afterwards, but Mr. and Mrs. H. were off to the other end of the airport. Master Christopher’s plane was just touching down as they strolled up to the gate and checked the arrivals. All dressed in his blues and looking as sharp as a new penny, Chris strode down the walkway and was nearly tackled by Mrs. H. “And I said wasn’t going to cry.” she sniffed. Being in the military confers certain flying privileges, and one of them was free passage for all of Chris’ luggage. Mindful of this, Master Christopher proceeded to pack and ship approximately half of the city of Biloxi, MS. Moments later, a much lower and heavily laden black Cadillac was seen streaming down the highway, making a beeline for Daniel’s Grill and some very welcome Manhattans. Daniel himself came out of the kitchen and congratulated the serviceman, and after some hearty handshakes (and a delightful dinner), presented the happy party with a complimentary assortment of desserts. It was a dream come true for Master Christopher, whose only wish on his return was to finally have some good cooking again!

English is a funny language

The staff at the Monitor received a missive recently commenting on the use of puns within the story titles. Suffering, as editors often do, from post-grammatic stress disorder, they felt perhaps some explanation was due.
The Penguin Hall Monitor strives always to set the higher standard, no matter how compelling or seductive the lure of punnery may appear. While this editor readily confesses to a perchant for cunning titles, the staff admits there are a few killjoys out there ( e.g. Messrs. Strunk and White) who would prefer that written expression, to be taken even remotely seriously, should follow a standard format and shy away from frivolity. Such lighthearted examples of out of place silliness can be seen here; likewise, The New Journalism Review makes just such a case for outlawing puns in the workplace beautifully here.
The Gentle Reader can rest assured that the editorial staff of the PHM remains steadfast in its desire to inform and enlighten. However, should the errant pun or wordplay somehow manage to creep into the copy or headline, they respectfully request that the Reader overlook the transgression long enough to enter into the spirit of things; after all, this little edition is meant to be entertaining and if written bluntly, would be pointless.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Night at the (Air) Museum

Mr. and Mrs. Hall were just finishing up their lunch at Doc’s when Mr. Doc himself came over and slid into the booth with them. “Thanks again for the bread pudding- the pudding was great and I think I got drunk on the sauce!” “Well, then; mission accomplished!” said Mr. Hall. Doc had been bragging about his homemade bread pudding at the restaurant and Mrs. Hall had brought in some of her own for comparison. “I plan on making another batch next week,” said Doc, “but I’m going to wait for a copy of your recipe before I go shopping!” Slipping a tip on the table, the Halls waved and hopped into the big black car. “All packed and ready? Then, it’s off to Connecticut!”
Pilots are a chummy bunch, Mr. Hall explained to Mrs. Hall over the drone of the engine, and distance is no deterent when it comes to getting them together. When Mr. H. received his invitation to Ken Kuhrt's (former fellow pilot at United Technologies) retirement party, it was the work of a minute to file his flight plan and head east. The Gentle Reader might assume that after a long day's work at the hanger, the last thing any of Mr. Hall's cronies would like to do is stand around and watch hydraulic fluid drip out of an F-14 into pans of kitty litter- but that's exactly what old pilots crave. Ken's retirement party took place at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT; and true to the code of these airmen, the drinks flowed easily and the air was thick with exaggeration and hyperbole. The exhibits were compelling all by themselves, but everyone knows that nothing says fun like grown men stuffed into tiny race car simulators, and that was just what the party provided.
Almost as much fun as seeing the old guard, was talking to the up and coming new turks; fresh faced and green and blithely unaware of what flying used to be like- ("Back when I was flying, we had it so rough, half the dials in our cockpit were just painted on..") As usual, it was the group from Syracuse that stayed the latest, ushered eventually to the door by the yawning catering staff. Full of good food and great memories, Mr. Hall sighed contently, as Mrs. Hall steered him back to the hotel room and off to bed.

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