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My Little Town - Part II

Information Avenue Premium - Issue #150 - September 1, 2006

Leave The Candle Burning
by Thundercloud & Eightball

Leave the candle burning;
And let the fire glow;
Leave the oak tree standing
In the yard I used to know.

Leave the candle burning,
And fill my coffee cup:
May all our memories shine on
In the house where I grew up.

Leave the candle burning
Until I come home to you,
And gather there with family
In the town that I once knew.

I never knew that "My Little Town" could cause such a stir. Honestly, there's not much going on in "My Little Town". At least nothing like the stuff that goes on in, let's say, Miami, New York,  London, Los Angeles and other exciting places. Boy, if I lived in one of those towns I have plenty of fuel to fire these rants. But, alas, I'm stuck here in "My Little Town" where we don't even have ice cream socials anymore. Remember those? I guess the heart people called those off about the time they discovered just about anything good you could stick in your mouth was bad for you. I am waiting for the day when they discover people who eat tons of ice cream live five years longer than those who don't.

Meandering again...

Anyway,, I've called this rant - "My Little Town - Part II" which gives this rant sort of a "Hollywood feel". Every good movie that doesn't kill off the protagonist in the first run, has a sequel. Luckily for me, but maybe not for you, your personal protagonist is still alive and typing.

A "quick" two hour walk and a trip to the movies provide me with the basis for this rant. So, come with me on a walk around "My Little Town".

Boil Advisories

I don't know if you have boil advisories where you live, but in "My Little Town" we apparently can't live without them. Although on today's walk I didn't see any "Boil Advisories", I did see a "Boil Advisory Lifted" sign.

If you don't know what a boil advisory is let me bring you up to speed. A boil advisory means you have to boil your city water before you can drink it. Actually you don't really have to boil it, after all it's an advisory not a command. However if you don't boil it you risk getting any of a myriad of awful diseases - stuff like Montezuma's Revenge and cholera come to mind.

I know, I know, you're thinking that this town has a serious problem with water - what with the brown water week and all. You might be right. But, since the water tastes bad even when it's not brown, I normally drink bottled water. Still, sometimes I'm in hurry for a good cup of coffee and casually use water from the tap. It's supposed to be potable, most of the time anyway.

But, I'll tell you what really scares me is - one area I walk through almost every day - and which is a beautiful well-to-do neighborhood - had a "Boil Advisory Lifted" sign posted today. (And darn it, if it weren't raining so hard right now I'd go back and get you a picture of it - and if it's still there tomorrow, I will do just that.) What's so scary about that is I never saw the "Boil Advisory" sign posted. Now, I couldn't afford to live in that particularly neighborhood, but I did feel compassion for those poor rich people who do live there. You see I do walk through that neighborhood more than a few times a week (maybe I'm hoping some of the opulency will rub off on me) and I swear I never saw the "Boil Advisory" sign. Now, can you imagine living in a gazillion-dollar house and never seeing a "Boil Advisory" sign - then pulling out of your driveway one morning on the way to the polo matches (no we don't really have those here) and seeing the "Boil Advisory Lifted" sign. What happens then? Not much you can do at that point but wait and see which one of the terrible illnesses that drinking bacteria-laden water causes, you get.

Wow. I tell you. I live in fear that one of these days I'm going to hurriedly make a pot of coffee using water right out of the tap - and then go out for a walk one day and see a "Boil Advisory Lifted" sign. And then I'm going to think: "Wait, I've made three or four pots of coffee this week using tap water!" Whoa!

You're thinking these are isolated instances, but I swear to you, this summer alone I have seen at least four "Boil Advisory" signs in various parts of town and at least five "Boil Advisory Lifted" signs. And, I'm being conservative here even though it probably sounds to you like I'm the king of hyperbole. But I swear what I am telling you is true. And there were probably more than 4 or 5 of these signs dotting My Little Town this summer.

It's true: boil Advisories are a way of life in my little town. Luckily, Wal-Mart has Nestles' "Pure Life" water on sale: 12 one-liter bottles for $2.50. After that $172.37 (for one month) water bill I got, that's pretty cheap. And considering the risks we take just by drinking the tap water in "My Little Town", it's a bargain! Wal-Mart could really stick it to the people of My Little Town and raise the price to $5.00. Luckily Wal-Mart's corporate home is in Arkansas where they probably have safe tap water - and they don't have the inside scoop on My Little Town. I hope I'm not letting the cat out of the bag here.

We don't have a surgeon general in My Little Town (yet), but if we did, I would petition her (see how politically correct I've become?) to make warning labels mandatory on all faucets in "My Little Town". You know, like the ones they have to put on beer bottles and cigarette packs here in the U.S.A.

"Caution: Drinking water from the faucets in Your Little Town may cause diphtheria, mumps, smallpox, cholera, Montezuma's Revenge, measles, bird flu, yellow fever, sleeping sickness or other terrible disease. By drinking this water you hereby hold "Your Little Town" harmless and promise you will not sue us and/or take away your councilperson's perks, the mayor's quarterly jaunts to tropical paradises, or otherwise come after us and take away what we've taken from you! We're doing the best we can. We promise. You can get good water at Wal-Mart cheaper, anyway. Thank you. The water department of Your Little Town - I. M. Brown, superintendent."

My Little Town's New "CinemaPlex"
Buy One Get Seven Free!

I confess, I love movies, but I do not love going to movie theatres because I don't have enough willpower to resist the $10.00 buckets of popcorn they sell. Now, you might not know this but being recently reminded that one's health is not something to take casually, I learned a lot about food not too long ago. And, I learned, among other things, that the oil they use to cook popcorn in movie theatres is full of all kinds of stuff that's really bad for you. Not to mention it will make you fat. Especially if you eat the $10.00 vat.

So, my love for movies means I watch movies at home on my little non-HD, non-plasma, non-projection, non-surround sound, non-digital, TV. But, most of the movies I watch are movies with Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn and other movie stars from a bygone era. And, no I'm not from that era myself, so don't go thinking that! I just happen to like the old movies better than the new movies and the so-called stars of today who seem to make more noise off-screen than they do on-screen. If you know what I mean.

Anyway, my friend from Atlanta, old codger that he is, came up for a visit last Christmastime and for lack of something more exciting to do in My Little Town, we went to the new movie theatre.

Before I get to our experience there, let me tell you that before they built the new multi-screen movie theatre or "Cinemaplex" as they call it, all we had was an old-fashioned cracker-box, one-screen movie theatre, where they still had a balcony (but you weren't allowed to sit up there). Luckily for all the movie aficionados in My Little Town, there's a town about fifteen miles due north that has not one, but two, multi-screen, state-of-the-art "cinemaplexes". So, on Saturday nights, when everybody bails out of "My Little Town" looking for adventure, may of them head north find all kinds of things we don't have here in My Little Town. Like for instance: a mall, nightclubs, crime, drinkable water, and lots of fancy (for me) restaurants. Something for everyone up north there.

Anyway, we decided to see the movie "The Family Stone" which stars Diane Keaton. The movie tended to remind us we're getting older. Diane sure has aged. Oh those wrinkly eyes. The wrinkly eyes were rather astounding because those Hollywood types can afford those $300,000 facelifts and you and I can't. So while we're all sagging into oblivion, the Hollywood types sail into oblivion looking taunt. Not that it will matter much a couple hundred years from now whether we left this world saggy or taunt, will it?

I know you're dying to hear about our new cinema, so forgive me for going off on Diane Keaton (but she sure looked a lot better in "The Valley Of The Dolls" and I am sure both my friend and I looked a lot better then too. But maybe not.

We purchased our tickets for the show but no popcorn. I do believe we each purchased a diet soda (I was still naive about aspartame then. My old-codger buddy is still naive although I've tried numerous times to enlighten him.) We head one of the eight theatres inside this brand new edifice. I can remember feeling proud of My Little Town for having joined the modern era and showing off our brand new cinema complex to my friend was rather nice.

Wouldn't you know it? "The Family Stone" is a quiet movie with a serious theme, however the theatre we were in was between one showing a movie with a lot of bombs going off and one in which people were getting shot by the hundreds. Trying to watch "The Family Stone" while the sounds from the other movies were bleeding over into our movie was annoying. And embarrassing. I thought to myself: "Only in My Little Town would they build a brand new cinema complex with balsa wood walls." My aging friend didn't let this pass politely. He, being from a big city (Atlanta) scoffed at My Little Town's new cinema and the thrifty construction materials used therein.

Wait. I was just reminded that Diane Keaton was not in "The Valley Of The Dolls". So, no wonder she looked so good in it

Just when old Diane was about to chomp down on piece of Christmas turkey, a bomb exploded in the theatre next door. No, not a real bomb, a bomb in the movie that was being shown!  Then, when night came and Diane and what's his name went to bed, the bullets were flying in the theatre on the other side of us. You can imagine the distraction. It was totally annoying.

Buy one ticket, watch one movie, get seven other movie soundtracks free! Only in My Little Town!

Well, that Christmas was over eight months ago and I guess My Little Town's cinema complex is now using a workaround to solve the thin-wall problem. I was talking to another friend of mine (who happens to be lucky enough to live right here in My Little Town) and he was telling me about his experience at our cinema complex just a couple of weeks ago. He told me he would never go back there again because the movie was too loud. It hurt his ears.

So, you see, here in My Little Town, when you have a problem, you don't really have to fix it - you just work around it. Instead of insulating the walls, would have necessitated closing the theatre down for a few days and leaving My Little Town movie-less, they just turned the sound up so loud that you can't hear anything else. A cheap and brilliant solution.

But when you leave the theatre you can't hear anything else either, because your ears are ringing too loud. This could only happen here in My Little Town.

The Melon Queen

Every Labor Weekend a small neighboring village (about 4000 population) has a festival called "The Melon Festival". I know most of you are laughing. Laugh all you want. To the good people of Milan (no, not "MEE-LON" it's pronounced MY-LAN) the Melon Festival is the highlight of the year. Talk about things being boring in My Little Town, the poor folks in that little village don't even have a McDonald's. My Little Town has not one but two!

Up until about 40 years ago, which is about the time someone in Milan got the brilliant idea to have a Melon Festival every Labor Day Weekend, these poor folks had nothing to brag about except being the birthplace of Thomas Edison and (as the plaque in town proclaims) that Milan was once the number one shipbuilding port on Lake Erie.

Melon Festival - Not The Melon Queen

This may seem incredible given the fact that Milan is about eight miles from any sort of significant water (Lake Erie). Poor folks. But there's some truth to shipbuilding thing because sometime back in the 1800's Milan was a lively, growing town situated on the once bustling Erie Canal. At that time, Milan had easy access to Lake Erie (eight miles north) and the Ohio River (250 miles south). OK. I agree that 250 miles is a long haul on a barge being pulled by a couple mules.

Anyway, Milan bustles no more. The Erie Canal is now just a sunken, weedy ditch that blends nicely into the other sunken, weedy ditches that dot the landscape. Imperceptible as it is useless. To think our Ohio taxpayers of that era (and no I was not alive then) shelled out good money for this dried-up, old eyesore. Easy come, easy go, right?

Anyway, Milan's new claim to fame is the Melon Festival. Over Labor Day Weekend (and I'm not kidding you folks, this is true) tens of thousands of people descend on this sleepy little village to walk around and look at melons and eat bad food. My Little Town empties out as most all of our citizens head to Milan to gaze upon the mountains of melons which are piled on pallets and displayed in the town square.

I know you think I'm making this all up. But, honestly, I'm not. It's true. You don't believe this do you. You think this is the first chapter of a horror novel, don't you? Well, see here, I'm going to show you. The Melon Festival even has a Web site with a big missing picture on the front page (yes right now it's just a red "x" :-) ) . Ready? Go look for yourself. Maybe by the time you go there they will have fixed that missing picture too!

All of us in My Little Town are getting all excited about this weekend. I mean with Watermelon and Muskmelon ice cream, the "Big Wheelie Race", an antique car show, the melon eating contest, pedal tractor pulls, big mountains of melons, the carnies hawking Italian sausage sandwiches, great heart-attack-inducing, grease-laden French fries, funnel cakes, and assorted other carnival food, whose heart wouldn't be racing? So this weekend Milan become part of My Little Town. Annexed for a few days, if you will.

I haven't yet mentioned the "Melon Queen" yet. I'm not sure how to approach this subject. But, let me put it this way. Let's say you're the father or mother of a high school girl who has just been crowned "The Melon Queen 2006-2007". If you're the Melon Queen, besides being queen, you get to sit on a big fiberglass slice of cantaloupe clamped to a parade float. (Yes I know you're incredulous, but it's true. Read this girl's blog. Oooh! She's very bitter because she wasn't allowed to run for Melon Queen because she's not from Milan. Her language is bit bitter and rough so don't look if that kind of thing upsets you. She really wanted to be a Melon Queen!) In spite of a Melon Queen's little "slice" of glory, how do you go about telling your friends who live in places like New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, London, Paris, etc. that your daughter is a "Melon Queen"? I mean honestly, what would they be thinking? You'll have to ponder that.

If you're not doing anything this Sunday and your heart can stand all the excitement, come to Milan and watch as the Melon Queen is crowned; stop and savor a muskmelon ice cream cone; and gaze upon huge mountains of melons. The nearest airport is Cleveland Hopkins International - it's only about an hour drive from here. Just ask anyone at the airport how to get to the Melon Festival :-) .

And just think, all this is happening just a stone's throw from My Little Town.

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