Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's National Pencil Day

Hymen L. Lipman changed our lives when
he invented a pencil with a built-in eraser.
Today is  National Pencil DayHymen L. Lipman of Philadelphia, Pa (left) was granted a patent on March 30th, 1858, for his pencil with an eraser attached. His drawing for this invention is shown below. In 1862 
Lipman sold his patent for $100,000, though the patent was later invalidated because the pencil and the eraser were each known tools in common use at the time, and Lipman's invention didn't create a new use for these two items. But without his invention we'd all have been fumbling for an eraser, which would no doubt have been "around here somewhere…" every time we tried to do our third grade math homework.
Pencil facts: a single pencil can be used to write out about 45,000 words, or draw a line about 35 miles long; The Star Spangled Banner was written with a pencil; It took more than 300 pencils for John Steinbeck to write his novel East of Eden; Both Thomas Edison and Johnny Carson had special pencils made for themselves.
Edison's pencils were stubby, about three inches long and extra wide, with a softer graphite that wrote darker than the standard ones. Johnny seemed to relieve tension behind the desk at The Tonight Show by tossing and catching pencils, often drumming along with the band during commercial breaks. To avoid any accidents on the set, he had his "pencils" made with erasers on both ends.

Lipman's simple, elegant design.
I looked online for sites that would list historic events for any chosen day of the year and found many, ranging from a cheesy little page with a lot of misspellings and lousy grammar, listing about a dozen events for today, all the way to a page enumerating some 148 events on this day between the years 240 BC and 2013. A combo pencil and eraser was a tool significant enough to be mentioned in each list I found.
Sometime today, put away the laptop and the cell phone, find a pencil somewhere, and use it. Leave technology behind, even for just a moment, and use a pencil! Write a note inviting a friend out for coffee and put it in the mail. Wouldn't that give your friend a fun surprise for a change, instead of the hurried, impersonal feeling of a text or e-mail or voice mail invitation?
Sketch a stick figure selfie of you and your dog sitting on the Town Hall benches licking the first ice cream cone of the season, or some such little event or occasion, and put it on your refrigerator. Draw another one of yourself tossing bread to the seagulls at Herring Cove and send it to your sister in Albuquerque. Whatever your drawing skills might be, she'll be touched to think that you spent a few moments to create something low tech and personal. And remember, 156 years ago today,  this new pencil was the technology. Happy Pencil Day!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spiritus Treats Provincetown to Free Pizza

You can't beat free pizza on opening day at Spiritus in PTown.
Woohoo! Spiritus opens tomorrow, March 27th, and celebrates, as usual, with free pizza all day long! Opening day every year is the last Thursday of March, and everyone in town is invited to stop in for free slices of their famous, delectable pizza pie with the ultra-thin, whole wheat crust.
For more than 40 years Spiritus Pizza has been luring folks down Commercial Street for a slice. The place got its start in 1971, on the other side of the street, before finally settling in for the duration
at 190 Commercial.
Spiritus will be open at least by noon tomorrow, likely till about 5 or 6 o'clock. It's that time of year when it's a little hard to know exactly what everyone's hours will be, since it all depends on how many customers show up every day. For now, you can call Spiritus at 508 487-2808 to find out what time they expect to be opening and closing as the town gets busier day by day.
Soon, though, the rhythm of the season will have Spiritus opening early every day for their excellent, strong cup of coffee to go along with their continental breakfast, and they'll stay open late for the infamous crowds that gather after the bars close down for the night. And don't forget about their juices, three brands of gourmet ice cream and frozen yogurt in a long list of flavors, and my favorite frosty treat, the absolutely killer espresso shake.
Even though the calendar says it's springtime, today's snow and extreme winds deny it. But stepping into Spiritus will go a long way toward leaving the winter behind. Yay!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Enter TheYearRounder's April Fool's Contest, Win a Great Lunch for Two

Win lunch in a great Provincetown restaurant
if you can spot what's wrong with this picture...
There's something odd about this photo, taken on a busy day along the streets of Provincetown. If you can spot what's wrong with this picture you'll win lunch for two at a great Provincetown restaurant.
It's easy to enter; all you have to do is leave a text or voice message with your name and phone number, along with the correct answer, by dialing 42423-PTOWN, or e-mail theyearrounder@wildglobe.com. Don't worry… you will never end up on an e-mail list or land on a telemarketer's clipboard by contacting TheYearRounder. You'll just be notified if you win.
If more than one correct answer is received before 2 AM on April Fool's Day, 2014, the winner will be chosen in a random drawing from ALL ENTRIES received before the deadline, even those with the wrong answer! That means you don't even have to be right to win this April Fool's contest, you just have to enter, unless, of course, there's only one correct answer submitted on time, which would automatically win.
You can enter as many times as you'd like between now and the deadline, at 2 AM Eastern Daylight Time, April 1st, 2014. There will also be a prize for the funniest wrong answer, as judged by a panel of experts who have each spent this entire cold, stormy, relentless winter in PTown, thus proving that they have a sense of humor!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Twisted Pizza Reopens… Can PTown Spring Be Far Behind?

Twisted welcomes the spring, and visitors, to Provincetown.
There's more to eat on Commercial Street these days, at least Thursdays through Sundays, when Twisted is open to serve you thin crust, New York style pizza, their specialty, along with the occasional deep dish Sicilian pie, fresh salads, subs, wings and ice cream. From noon till closing you can get delivery, too, even ice cream. Dial 508 487-6973. It's easy to remember; Most of the town is still 508 487 - just add the NYPD (That's New York Pizza Delivery.)
They have a variety of subs on the menu (or create your own) and great salads, but my favorite here is the Meatball Parmigiana Hero Roll, a hot sandwich baked in the oven with hand tossed pizza dough wrapped around meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese. Ask for a little extra sauce to dip your sandwich in as you eat it.
It's great to see Commercial Street come back to life every spring, with restaurants and shops slowly reopening one by one. It's nice to have more choices when we're hungry, too. And even if you're not hungry, Julie invites you to stop in, at 293 Commercial Street, and just say hi. Visit Twisted's Facebook page and scroll down for a very funny video featuring pizza and the Dalai Lama.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PTown Beach Tease

A single day of warmer weather is enough for people to get out and enjoy Provincetown beaches.
A little rain, a little snow, and, of course, these freaking winds that we've had to adjust to over the last couple of winters…
The persistently cold, wet weather of this memorable winter is slowly giving way to some warmer temperatures and a bit of sunshine, and soon an afternoon at the beach will be downright balmy. We're gaining about 26 minutes of daily sunlight every 10 days, with the sun rising a minute or two earlier each day, and setting a minute later each night, but what's really helping our spirits might just be that pesky Daylight Savings Time switch we just went through.
Although turning the clock ahead an hour every spring disorients a lot of us for a short time, and actually makes a few people a bit ill as their internal clocks adjust to the time change twice a year, we all seem to rejoice a little or a lot as the days lengthen. Perhaps we notice it most in the evenings, with this extra few minutes of light extending the day on the end that most of us are awake for, the twilight moments before the sunset… The perfect time to be on the beach.
With our air temperature hitting 45 degrees (for a few hours) and our air speed hitting something under 30 miles per hour (for those same few hours this past weekend,) folks turned up at the beach dressed in something less than ski parkas and mufflers, and another day-long spring romp was enjoyed by all before St. Patrick's Day returned us to gusting winds and a high temperature in the mid 20s. Patience seems to be the key word these past few weeks, as we occasionally get a day's respite from the unusually cold weather and bone chilling winds of this winter.
We're grateful to have a warmer day here and there, even if it's only a tease.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chach's Blueberry Pancakes are a Best Bite

Chach's giant blueberry pancake, with genuine maple syrup,
is chosen by TheYearRounder as a Best Bite. Add a side of bacon
and you've got one of my all-time favorite Provincetown breakfasts.
Chach is a terrific little diner style restaurant out on Shank Painter Road, serving up a wonderful breakfast or lunch, either one, from opening until about 2 PM, when they close for the day, so don't get there late.
The menu is full of comfort food and favorites such as pancakes, omelets, soup, sandwiches and chili, and there's a blackboard full of choices that are a bit more upscale, too, changing daily at the whim of your chefs, Chach and Sharon. There's always something interesting coming out of the kitchen, whether it's in the vein of simple, traditional comfort foods or something a bit more sophisticated.
On any given day you may find a breakfast dish like a smoked oyster benedict or maybe a creative omelet special on the blackboard, and there's usually a daily scramble, like the ham, swiss and onion, sprucing up your basic plate of scrambled eggs. You may find a French toast special with raspberries and lemon curd, and another day it might be made with pecans, caramel and bananas. There's often a pancake du jour, like the recent pecan pancake w/ bananas and whipped cream.
I'm a real sucker for Chach's stellar blueberry pancakes, a staple found on the regular menu, but I order just a single pancake since these overstuffed beauties are roughly the size of the plate, fluffy and golden and absolutely clobbered with blueberries, and actual New England maple syrup completes the dish. These are quite likely the best blueberry pancakes you'll ever taste, and that is how they come to earn a Best Bite award from TheYearRounder. Just throw a smoky side of bacon right on the top and I am as happy as the proverbial clam.
Chach was recognized by Cape Cod Life magazine not long ago, too, winning their award for "Best Breakfast on the Outer Cape," and many Townies will tell you this is their favorite PTown breakfast spot, but Chach also has a great lunch menu. There's a choice of daily lunch specials on the board as well, like a prosciutto, brie and tomato sandwich served on ciabatta, or perhaps a special salad of the day. Chef Chach's Mexican heritage might land a shrimp tostada w/ guacamole on the blackboard, or any number of other tasty Mexican-influenced selections to tempt you.
Each day as many as half-a-dozen freshly baked muffin choices roll out of the oven as well, like banana bread, pistachio, blueberry buckle and many others. They're perfect with a robust cup of Chach's excellent coffee.
Chach is found at 73 Shank Painter Road, with parking on site. In the summer they're open nearly every day, but they close a few days of the week in the shoulder and off-seasons. Right now they're open Friday and Monday at 10 AM, and 8 AM on Saturday and Sunday, but after Saint Patrick's Day they'll be closed for vacation before re-opening in the spring, so drop everything and get to Chach before they go on hiatus. Remember, they close at 2 o'clock, so don't be late.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where Are We? (Hint: You Only See This Door in Provincetown's Off-season)

This rustic old door is a sight not seen for most of the summer, when it stays open nearly all of the time.
Get out your camera and carry it with you, and really notice how many things you can see in the off-season that you won't really see again until after the summer. The door above is a good example. One day last week, as the sun was getting lower in the sky, I noticed it shining on this charming old door, with its weathered brass porthole from an old ship long abandoned, and I realized I'd never really noticed it before. How could I have missed it, I thought? And then I realized I just might have never seen it before, though it's been here for years, as have I.
Most of the time I'm passing by this spot it is at the height of the summer season, and this door is propped open most any time you might walk past it. Can you place it?
The vast majority of the hundreds of people that visit this building every single summer afternoon use the driveway rather than this door, walking down the incline that leads beneath the Boatslip and out onto its deck for its world famous Tea Dance. And although I've walked through this door many times on my way to the bar, or to the restaurant when it was operating, I've never really seen these gorgeous old wooden planks of varying widths, the massive, old-fashioned strap hinges, and that marvelous brass porthole of a window, because I think this door has been propped open on every single occasion when I've walked through it.
The winter may not be Provincetown's favorite season for a lot of us, but the snow has provided some beautiful sights for us this winter, and at this time of the year there are lots of things to notice as the season changes, so look for them, enjoy them, and snap a photo or two as you make your way around the town. You'll be much richer for it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fanizzi's Supports the "Provincetown Fitness Challenge" with Healthy Meals

Fanizzi's delicious Lemon-Basil Baked Cod weighs in at just 340 calories.
Through March 22nd Fanizzi's restaurant is offering their "fitness friendly" entrées in support of the annual Provincetown Fitness Challenge.
More than 100 local folks from all walks of life have committed to the 12-week program designed to help them get stronger and healthier through making changes both in the way that they exercise and in the food choices they make. Fanizzi's is helping out by offering your choice of four meals emphasizing greatly reduced fats, lots of veggies, and whole grains.
I tried the Lemon-Basil Baked Cod, served with sautéed spinach and mushrooms and mixed steamed veggies. It was a very satisfying dish with hardly a drop of fat and only about 340 calories in the entire meal. I'm lobbying to keep this offering on the menu even after the end of this wintertime fitness challenge, which finishes on March 22nd. Other special menu choices during the event include a whole wheat pasta with veggies, a baked salmon dish, or an Italian herb chicken.
Fanizzi's sits right on the beach in the East End, at 539 Commercial Street, offering an unparalleled view of Provincetown Harbor. They are open daily year-round, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They have space to park just a few cars, but in the off-season parking isn't difficult. Lunch and dinner are served daily, along with their famous Sunday brunch buffet. Early Bird specials are available from 4:30 PM till 6 PM, with a very popular Friday night fish fry for $13.99.
There's a cozy, well stocked bar featuring over a dozen specialty martinis and that gorgeous harbor view. Desserts are homemade, served in legendary portions. Call for reservations at 508 487-1964, or take a chance and just drop in, and do me a favor…
On your way out, ask them to keep this cod dish on the menu permanently.

Friday, March 7, 2014

2014 Oscar Shorts Come to Provincetown

All of this year's Oscar nominated shorts can be seen
this week at Waters Edge Cinema, in the Whalers Wharf.
There were 16 short films nominated for this year's Academy Awards in the categories of documentary, animation and live action. Each nominated short, including the three winners, can be seen this week at Waters Edge Cinema, at the Whalers Wharf. There will be three separate programs, each screening all of the shorts nominated in one of those three categories.

Documentary Shorts (running a total of 135 minutes) screen Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:30 PM.
Live Action Shorts (113 min.) can bee seen Friday, Sunday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM, with a matinee Saturday at 2 PM.
Animated Shorts (103 min.) will play Saturday and Wednesday at 7:30 PM with a Sunday matinee at 2 PM.

Click on this link to see an Oscar Shorts Teaser with just a tiny snippet from many of these wonderful films. Then click the following link to see a trailer for Documentary Short winner The Lady in Number 6, but only if you're prepared to fall completely in love with a 109-year-old woman. Alice Herz-Sommer lived to see her remarkable story make it into theaters last year, to great acclaim from all who saw this 38-minute little gem of a movie. But just over a week ago she passed away quietly at the age of 110, just a week before this brilliant, joyous film about the world's oldest known Holocaust survivor, and pianist, would win the Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday.

If you google "2014 Oscar shorts" you'll find other trailers as well, and some compelling reasons to see each of these three programs of Short films. They haven't been rated, some are just a few minutes long, some are in a foreign language with subtitles, and each one is worth seeing.
We thank the folks at Waters Edge Cinema for bringing these three programs of terrific short films to Provincetown.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 Provincetown Year-rounders Festival Celebrates PTown's Off-season March 8th

Celebrate PTown's quiet season with community exhibits, pet events, food and drink,
raffle prizes and entertainment at Town Hall this Saturday, March 8th, 2014.

Each year Provincetown holds its annual Year-rounders Festival at Town Hall, just when we think we can't stand another minute of winter. We gather for a bit of camaraderie, enjoying food and entertainment, and we visit with friends we haven't seen all winter.
A lot of us haven't been out of the house much lately, with the frequent snow storms, bitter temperatures and howling winds we've suffered keeping many indoors much more than usual, especially during these last few exceptionally cold and snowy weeks.
Besides all that, we generally just need to blow off a little steam at this time of year, so we do it together in this celebration at Town Hall, in the company of remarkable friends, community "characters" and the altogether eccentric group of people who make up Provincetown's year-round community.
This year's date is this Saturday, March 8th. Events are scheduled at Town Hall all day and into the night. From 11 AM till 7 PM there will be a silent auction for over 100 gift certificates and items donated by local businesses, community members, restaurants, artists and more, and raffle tickets will be sold as well.
And  although I couldn't find it listed anywhere, supper usually starts around 5 PM, once the volunteers have had a chance to transform the auditorium from an exhibition hall into a banquet room, with a lineup of chowder, pasta, chicken wings, pizza and lots of other favorites donated by local restaurants.


Here's the entertainment schedule, and don't forget the pet events at 2 PM.  

There will be a variety of entertainment onstage from 6PM till roughly 11 PM, and people will definitely be up on their feet and dancing to local band The Daggers, who will play from 9:30 on. Raffle winners will be drawn and announced throughout the evening. You don't have to be present to win, just buy your raffle tickets before 7 PM. I'm told there will be a cash bar as well. Last year, for instance, Cape Cod Beer was kind enough to bring libations. I hope to see all of you there for a fun day and evening.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PTown Snow Brought Dramatic Photo Ops

A crusty blanket of snow made for tough walking on the Breakwater in Provincetown's Far West End,
but gave us a great photo opportunity while this bit of nature's frozen art work refused to melt. 
While having snow two or three times a week along with bitter cold is definitely an ordeal in many ways, it turns out there were also a few rewards waiting for those who ventured out during these recent trying times. Photographers call it "golden hour"… that time early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is near the horizon, giving a pinkish sort of golden glow to anything in its path.
I happened onto great luck one day in the Far West End when I visited the breakwater on a rare afternoon out of the house and into the bitter cold that afflicted so much of the east coast for a good bit of the month of February. For three weeks or so Provincetown had been having snow storms big and small at least two or three times a week, with both high and low temperatures in the teens and twenties most days. Each time it got warm or sunny enough for the snow to begin to thaw a bit, we plunged back into frigid days and nights, refreezing snow that had begun to soften.
On this particular day the temperature rose a few degrees and I was able to summon the spirit to wedge myself out the door when the winds of 30 miles per hour slowed just a bit.
I made it to the breakwater just in time to shoot this photo before the light changed, just a few minutes later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Has Provincetown Turned That Cold, Snowy Corner Toward Spring?

Bike trails and footpaths abound in Provincetown, made even lovelier by
the snow, and even the extreme cold and snow can't keep us indoors for long.
With Provincetown's recent average daily high temperatures running around 10 to 15 degrees cooler than usual for about the last 100 years or so, folks are taking advantage of any day where the mercury rises above freezing. Even with snow still on the ground in the shady spots, people are watching for any slightly warmer days to get themselves outdoors to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us here. And with city temperatures being even chillier than ours, PTown has seen a few visitors join us for a little recreation recently.
While the rest of the world is having record warm temperatures, the midwest and the eastern United States have had consistently cold weather this winter, with many areas averaging temperatures 20 degrees lower than normal. While on average in recent years the US has had a blizzard every winter, this year there were three. Tremendous amounts of snowfall coupled with extreme cold ran out the nation's supply of rock salt, and the manufacturers couldn't supply enough to keep up with the demand. The DPW did a remarkable job of keeping our roads navigable, and we really didn't have much trouble getting around town by car or on foot, despite the ice and snow that took its time melting in the frigid temperatures we endured. During our last storm there wasn't a single pound of rock salt or ice melter on the shelves in any hardware outlet, convenience store or neighborhood market in town, but none the less we still managed to traverse our frozen sidewalks and stairways, although a bit more slowly and carefully than usual.
Ice melter has been a precious commodity recently, doled out judiciously.
Of course, all of the banks were closed on Presidents Day, but people still had to get to the cash machines to make deposits and withdrawals. I looked on as the woman from the bank worked to shovel away all the snow she could, and then very carefully she sprinkled a tiny bit of the precious ice melter to break up the icy layer she couldn't chip away.
Despite all of our struggles, we've had a winter that turned out a bit milder than predicted, with some major storms shifting or breaking up a little as they rolled over us, dropping a bit less snow than we were constantly being threatened with. All in all, we've made our way through the winter pretty well once again, and now look forward to the month of March, when average daily temperatures typically rise about two degrees per week. But even though the average high over the years for the first week of March has been 41 degrees, and our highs this week range only from the low 20s to the mid 30s, it looks like we're done with the 14 degree overnight lows we've been having. We'll start to gain that degree or two each week, and soon the snow we've been slogging through will be gone from even the shady spots in the trails, and shirtsleeve weather in Provincetown will have returned once again.
By the way, today's predicted high is 28 degrees, well below the average high of 41, with a forecast of 25 for the low and perhaps a bit of snow, but the record temperatures for March 4th in Provincetown came in 1965, with its high of 62, and in 1968, with 13 degrees being the low temperature that day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Just Two More Nights for Provincetown Theater's 2014 Winter Reading Series

There are just two more Tuesday nights left in the 2014 Winter Reading Series at Provincetown Theater. Tomorrow night, March 4th, the scheduled reading will be
It’s a Grand Night for Murder, by Joe Starzyk.
The following description is from Joe Starzyk's website

"It's A Grand Night For Murder"
The premise is simple: An older man wants to kill his wife to be with his younger mistress. The complications arise when he tries to act on this impulse. His erstwhile hit man, Ginger Baer (but pronounced Beer) is a former asst. manager at Red Lobster. He mistakenly wins the heart of a man in a bar, Ramon and then takes him into his confidence. Ramon brings Dinsmore along for help and no one knows what to make of the delightfully creepy Cablewoman. The end is full of dark surprises and of course love conquers all.

Each year authors and their plays are chosen to fill Tuesday night of every winter week with something new, to give us all a good reason to get out of the house and soak up a little culture among our fellow humans on a cold winter's night. Readings of these plays take place onstage at the Provincetown Theater, at 238 Bradford Street, at 7:30 PM.
The last reading of the season will be next Tuesday, March 11th, featuring Suzannah and Her Mothers, by James Marlow. Suggested donation for a seat at these readings is $10. Call the theater at 508 487-7487 or visit their website at provincetowntheater.org