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Memories of the Marshfield Fair and a T.K.O’Malley’s Review

26 Aug

My earliest memory of the Marshfield Fair– which has been a tradition in the county since the 1800’s– is a memory that I attach to my great grandmother, Noni. I can’t exactly remember how old I must have been when she first began to take me, but I could guess roughly eight or nine–as I specifically remember not being tall enough to peek into the Clydesdale horse stalls to see them, without help or without pulling myself up by the bars of their stalls. I also remember the Bee keeper stalls, which even now as I am in my twenties continues to fascinate me for reasons that I can’t quite pinpoint. Noni had always been fascinated too. Together we would tromp the Fairgrounds, riding on the rides I was tall enough to squeak on and waving to Noni as I gleefully swung round, and round on them. I even remember that she would pay for me to play at least one game at the Fair to try to win a prize–but I never remember ever winning.

Noni passed roughly three years ago, and she and I hadn’t been to the Fair together for many years before that. For the first time in roughly twelve years last night; I went to the Marshfield Fair. It’s funny how memories come back so quickly and with such force when certain sights, smells and sounds overtake you. It was as if I were small again, and she was leading me around pointing at the prize winning animals, and giving me bites of cotton candy and various tasty fair foods. Her ghost seemed to linger with me for the whole night as I chatted with my friend and his family. I felt a small almost child-like joy as the lights of the Fairgrounds came to life, voices spiraling, laughing and screaming as we passed rides, vendors calling out to people as they passed by to tempt them into winning prizes full of sawdust. One prize I did stop to try my hand at winning–was a live Goldfish. I knew it was a rip-off and that I could buy a goldfish of my own at a pet store if I wanted, probably for less than what it was costing me to try to win one, ($5 for a bucket of ping-pong balls) but it was the excitement of the idea. The sense of old-time charm that drew me to it. And I happily won. Proudly, I displayed my prize–a fat orange Goldfish in a bag, swimming excitedly in a circle–to my friend who snapped a trophy photo of sorts for proof. I knew Noni would have smiled.

My Prize!

Posing with my Goldfish Prize at Marshfield Fair

In entirety, this weekend gave me back a sense of myself that I felt had been missing lately. I woke up this morning to a gorgeous day, and another friend waiting in the wings for an adventure to Scituate. Off we went, stopping only for an ATM, Gas and a quick car wash, we drove into the center of town where the charm of a seaside town has a heavy hold, and people milled about looking pleasant in their Sunday best. It was a sleepy sort of day, and the town moved at a pace that suited this. We wandered past the harbor at first, soaking in the smell of the ocean that I had missed all summer, before heading for lunch at a place called T.K O’Malleys.

T.K O’Malley’s had a typical sort of Irish Pub feel, but with the bonus of having the option of being able sit on the outside patio overlooking the bright, breezy harbor. Entering the restaurant was at first slightly confusing, as there are doorways to the left and right of you when you first walk in–luckily to the left we spotted a cluster of Hostesses sporting blue TKO’Malley’s t-shirts, hovering over the hostess stand and made our way that way. I held my hand up with two fingers, which in any restaurant would generally indicate table for two, but here only got me slightly blank stares, a chomp on what I hoped was gum in one girl’s mouth, and a mumbled, “Inside or out” from one of the hostesses that had her back to us. I looked to my friend for confirmation, and luckily he confirmed we wanted to be outside as I had barely managed to hear what had been asked. The hostesses then handed us a small slip of white paper that read, “Patio Voucher” and told us to head out to the patio. This was somewhat irritating to me. I had worked as a Hostess at Fenway park for a short while,  so I know that  it is the job of a good Hostess to greet customers, direct them to the appropriate table, ask if they need anything else, and alert the waitstaff that they have a new customer. These girls (who were only busy chatting at the hostess stand) did not guide us to the patio door–they only laughed and told us, “Any door out.” and waved us aside. It felt lazy and unwelcoming. Not a good start.

Once we got out to the patio, the confusion continued. More hostesses in blue shirts at another hostess stand clustered, staring blankly at us as we handed them the slip of paper the previous hostesses had handed us inside. The girls asked us how many again, to which we answered two, one scurried around the patio looking at the few vacant tables before coming back looking confused. Then one of them asked us to wait as they went inside, conceivably to interrogate the other hostesses about us. There were just way too many hostesses, and not enough communication. Finally a hostess returned and asked if five or ten minutes would be okay–to which we agreed. By this time we were slightly frustrated. Why had the indoor hostesses not been informed of a wait time for the outside? There appeared to be more than enough of them to run messages, and inside it seemed to be slow.Luckily, it was   only roughly two minutes for a wait and we were promptly seated at a table with an umbrella and menus.

Our waiter was the best service we had received since we entered the restaurant. He arrived straightaway with his clipboard to take our drink orders, (card us for said drinks as I constantly look underage) and scurry off to the bar to bring them back. The beer selection was fair, and my companion and immensely enjoyed sipping them with the cool breeze off of the water and the warm sunlight on our skin as we browsed our menus. The food was mainly a selection of pub foods–and not much to write home about. Though they did appear to have a varied selection of “University” themed burgers. Should I ever return there–I will probably investigate these. The main draw of TKO’ Malley’s has to be it’s prime waterside spot.  As we were waterside, I craved fish and took part in their Cape “COD” Ruben sandwich, which was a cod filet on rye with thousand island dressing, coleslaw and a slice of cheese. The portions were HUGE and I only managed to finish half of the sandwich but it wasn’t bad. The dressing and slaw were tasty, though the fish seemed a little mushy and was probably less fresh than I would have hoped. What the fish lacked–the slightly toasted bread made up for in crunch and flavor. My friend and I also shared a basket of sweet potato fries which were served with Maple syrup–but I wouldn’t recommend having these with the Syrup. The fries are delicious on their own–and unless you’re a big  Maple Syrup person–the Syrup overpowers the fries taste.

Prices were fair when the bill came, and we tipped our friendly and helpful waiter well. We were pointedly ignored by all of the hostesses on our way out. I couldn’t help but think of how easy it would have been to dine and dash had I been that sort of person. They wouldn’t have even noticed us.

All and all, the day was wonderful and easy-paced. Full of winding seaside roads, looming gorgeous houses, and even a stop at a historical lighthouse. I returned home sleepy but full of a bubbling happiness that only a day near the shore can bring.

 

 TKO ‘Malley’s website link in case you would like to check it out for yourself.

More information on the Marshfield Fair.

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ParaNormon Paraphrased: A Movie Review

19 Aug

Norman isn’t normal–in fact–he’s paranormal–as the trailers would have you believe. My  little brother and I, both avid fans of movies such as Coraline, Corpse Bride and of course, the classic stop-animation recollection from my childhood, Nightmare Before Christmas decided that we absolutely had to see ParaNorman. In the dark of the old-fashioned Cameo Theater in Weymouth, we munched happily on candies and waited eagerly for the film to start. The best part? I only paid $5 per ticket for this lovely Sunday Matinee–and aside from my kid brother and myself, there was only four other people in the entire theater. But come the end of the film we found that ParaNoraman slightly missed the mark, and pales in comparison to our other stop-motion favorites.

Following the recent trend of Gothic looking characters and backgrounds in stop-motion, Paranorman opened up right away with our main hero, Norman, watching an old-time cheesy Zombie movie with his grandmother, which gives the audience a sort of foreshadowing as to what sort of mischief Norman will lead the audience into later. Norman is called into the kitchen by his parents to take out the trash and is asked by his Grandmother to ask them to turn up the heat, as she’s terribly cold. Norman scoots off to his parents in the kitchen–and the audience is straight away confronted with the aggressive, non-supportive father figure and the over lovey feeling mother character.  When Norman asks for the heat to be turned up for his Grandmother–it’s explained that his Grandmother is dead. His Father, it is made clear in the first few moments of the movie, and regularly enough throughout the film to make me dislike him, thinks Norman is a freak. His  older sister Courney, seems to agree. His mother takes a more open-minded, but level approach–but is almost to the point of being unbearably understanding throughout the whole film. All the same, this scene makes it clear to us that Norman can see and speak to the dead. That’s about where the charm in this movie ended for me.

Unlike it’s predecessors, ParaNorman stuck with an extremely modern undertone throughout the whole film. The old-timey, good-old-days charm that films such as Coraline or Corpse Bride held are essentially lost in ParaNorman. I believe it is for this reason that the film just didn’t give off that same feel-good vibe that we had come to expect. Like the Corpse Bride, the movie takes a long look at death–a rather weighty subject for most adults, never mind children–but the constant heaviness that comes with it, the constant battering of negative comments at Norman the main character and the ultimately dark lesson of accepting others cruelness as their fear, accepting whatever that makes them do to you and moving on made this film really not sit well with me.

On the plus side, the animation in this film is really well done. Compared to the stop-go motion of old, like Gumby and Pokey, it’s amazing to see how far stop-go animation has come. Most things look impressive and rather realistic as far as stop-go puppets go. Also, this movie is really genuinely trying to reach out to the newer generation. (Just in a rather negative scope.) Bullying is a major focus of the film, as is the acceptance of people different than you. ( Spoiler! The biggest reach out was that Mitch turns out to have a boyfriend.)  But other than that the movie is very much real to life–people are mean to each other, people are stupid, people judge and life tends to be crap–which isn’t what I personally go to see an animated film for. And I expect wasn’t what my kid brother had hoped for either. He put it best to sum up this movie when I asked what he had thought when he said,

“It was okay.” with a shrug of his shoulders.

On the Suddenleighanyonymous scale this movie rates a three out of ten. Another wait for DVD or rental or if you can avoid spending more than $5 on a movie ticket.

 

Burger and Beer Day: The Mayflower Brewery and KKatie’s Burger Bar Review

15 Apr

There are many food matches in heaven: Spaghetti and meatballs, bacon and eggs and my personal favorite burgers and beer.

I had a Plymouth adventure this weekend with my good friend, Donnie and his lovely sister Lindsay.  Saturday was a gorgeous day for getting up a little on the earlier side and popping down to the commuter rail heading toward Kingston. I was astonished to find that from my stop, it was only $6 for a round trip to Kingston and a half an hour or so later I had arrived with Donnie eagerly greeting me. Off we went to his sister’s house to pick her up and then to the Mayflower Brewery. When I mentioned to Donnie that I wanted to tour this place, he had no idea what I was talking about.  Apparently, he had driven by this micro-brewery millions of times without realizing what it was.

Located at 12 Resnik road in Plymouth, the brewery is nestled in a little strip mall–that could easily be overlooked. Upon entering, we were not at first sure we were in the right place. It seemed to small! As you enter, you find yourself in a small, stand-up bar area. To the right is a small fridge where they sold bottled beers beside a small sales counter and to the left the well-polished wood bar top greeted us. Aside from two other patrons quietly sipping beer at the bar and two staff members–the place was empty. We were immediately greeted by the male staff member asking if we were here for a tour or free samples, to which we of course replied that both would be required. The female bartender was quick to provide us each with a small glass from the tap, explaining each brew as it was poured and tasted. The male staff member soon identified himself as a volunteer–who just simply liked talking about beer. The staff was informative and personable, making us feel right at home very quickly as we chatted from topics ranging from the beers themselves to places nearby that would be nice to visit on such a gorgeous day.

Soon, it was time for the tour, and the bartender quickly became our tour guide as well.  To my pleasant surprise, we were allowed to travel with our beer tastes in hand, (and the barkeep did as well) as we were led around in an informative but not impersonal tour of the tiny brewery contained behind the bar. Questions were readily accepted (and I eagerly provided them–as I can’t contain my curiosity for long) and I was very impressed with the way in which the tour was given. It was explained in a way that made it clear all of the staff members were well informed and passionate about what they participated in. Once the tour was done, we returned to the bar top and finished our tasting session. It was here that Lindsay and one of the staff members began to talk about a Burger Bar nearby called, K Katie’s.

“Yes,” the male staffer said “They have a burger that uses two grilled cheeses as buns.”

I was sold.

So not long after purchasing a growler full of fresh beer (only$11! and everything else had been free) we were heading down the road to K Katie’s Burger Bar. We took our time wandering over the graveyard, checking out older graves in the beautiful sunshine and breathing deeply the air that smelled of a mix of seawater and local eateries. KKatie’s looks like any other typical hole-in0the-wall bar but has an exceptional menu that doesn’t seem to fit the atmosphere.

Situated on 38 Main Street in Plymouth, you enter K Katie’s and find dark wood paneled walls and lit neon signs advertising various beers on the walls. It is a seat yourself establishment, and was fairly empty due to how early in the day it was when we arrived. As we sat, the waitress was already swooping upon us with bright green laminated menus, and a smile.  She patiently tended to our picky beer needs as Lindsay ran through several beers they didn’t have on tap currently–but the bartender (who was easily within earshot from our table due to the small size of the establishment.) was eager to send over tastes of beer that might suit her pallet before she made her decision. At first glance, the menu is a-typical bar food–but with a twist. Their burgers are all gourmet and full of different varieties and uniqueness that I had never seen before. (None of them were waistline friendly–but I was okay with that for the day.) I ended up with what was called “The Juicy Lucy” which was a burger topped with pickles and onion and rather then having the cheese on top–has it melted in the middle. Taking my first bite, most of the cheese dribbled out the back end–but then became a fun dipping tool. Their sweet potato fries were the best that I have ever had, and they also offered “green fries” which were essentially crispy green beans with a ranch dipping sauce.  Not up for a burger? That was fine too as KKaties also offered other menu options. But for sure–this is my new favorite burger joint.

Donnie then insisted that we visit a place nearby called Cupcake Charlies which sold, you guessed it, cupcakes of all sorts. At this point, I was so full I felt ready to pop–but I managed to squeeze in a taste of their Funfetti cupcake. (To be honest, the cake was far superior to the frosting from what I tasted. )

All and all, a fun time had. Foodies rejoice!

An Outing for the History Books

13 Mar

Lame as it might sound, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Boston?

It might be the Commons:the expansive tree-lined gardens smack-dab in the heart of the city, or it might be the trains that run like a heartbeat beneath the streets–but for me–Harvard always comes to mind. That’s right. Harvard. The beautiful, old brick-lined hallowed halls of learning. I mean, they don’t ask Bostonians to say “Harvard yard” for nothing

Even though I know I’m nowhere near  a Harvard-level of schooling, there is something refreshing about strolling the school grounds this time of year. People mill about as a jumble of students, tourists and oddballs like me who just seem lost through the slowly greening yards. Professors looking scattered and hurried storm through crowds like angry rhinos, scattering people like terrified birds.

Harvard is a rare stop for me, making yesterday a particularly rare treat. An invitation from my boyfriend and his friend, Steve, to the Harvard Museum of Natural History was intriguing enough to draw me past my usual Park Street Station stop right after work. In the confusing rabble of Harvard station, they awaited me, and together we traveled through Harvard Square and into the inner courtyards of Harvard College.  Steve led the way, having visited this place before, and we were quickly at our destination.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge. It is a tall, pointed brick building (though short in comparison to most other buildings around it) with bold brass letters stating “Harvard Museum”. Upon entering, you are first greeted by two fossilized skeletons on either side in the foyer. Straight ahead are the desks to get in, and after paying $7 with our student Id’s: we were on our way to the third floor. A freakishly tall skeleton, bird in appearance ( reminding me immediately of Kevin from Up ) greets visitors as they reach the landing.The bird from Pixar's Up You appear to be in the gift shop first, making things feel a little backward. As the boys had a mission for their Bio class, I was given free reign to explore as I saw fit while they furiously scribbled answers on question sheets.

If you’re like me, and you’re fascinated by animals (living or dead) then this place is for you. If not, well–don’t bother.I was amazed at the range of animal specimens on display. Extinct and living, big and small–all were presented in tasteful and informative displays throughout the many halls.

If you are an animal rights activist–please do not visit this museum. It will horrify you.

Frankly, I was surprised by how not-bothered I was by the countless numbers of taxidermy and pickled animals on display once curiosity set in. Bats in all arrays of size and characteristics were pinned up to display species variations. Beside them, beautiful and colorful insects, jarred lizards and brightly colored birds. One entire room seemed to be more like a large hunting trophy room, filled with animals that almost still felt alive as their plastic eyes followed your from their glass cases. Their sizes ranged from sparrows and mice to elephants and even a towering male giraffe.

My favorite hall by far though, was filled with bones. Fossils to be exact. Not just of dinosaurs (though there were a few) as is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of fossils, but also of former mammals. A particularly large extinct sloth skeleton gave me chills, just from the sheer size of the creature. And I was in awe at their nearly complete skeleton of Kronosaurous, a whale-like dinosaur-ish creature. I was disappointed that we had come so late in the day, and I couldn’t take more time to go through the place. But all and all, I was pleased with the visit.

If you’re looking for a cheap, brain-building, quiet day out: I would definitely recommend the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It’s to die for! (har-har)