Peter Shelton

Speak, Memory

Posted in Personal History, Watch columns by pshelton on February 23, 2012

The sea off Newport Harbor was a silvery gray. Not a ripple of wind marred the humping line of swells that rolled through the Catalina Channel.

Between the sea and an overcast dawn sky, the outline of Catalina Island sketched a long recumbent figure on the horizon 27 miles away. It was February, not bitter, but not exactly warm either. I tried opening the throttle all the way on Ogress, my father’s white fiberglass, 17-foot, ocean-going inboard outboard. But the swell was a little too big, or the interval between waves a little too short. At top speed of around 20 knots we were slamming the troughs with a keel-shuddering thud. So, I backed off the throttle until Ogress found a smooth pace, nose up, not quite planing over the glassy undulations.

I pulled the cellophane off a celebratory package of Tiparillos, chucked the wrapper into the endless ocean, and offered one to my classmate and new friend Jon Webb. We stood together at the helm, feet spread for balance, smoking those nasty, cheap things with the white plastic tips, kings of all we surveyed. (more…)

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Posted in Uncategorized by pshelton on February 17, 2012

The best medical and investigative minds in America have come up with four possible explanations for the sudden outbreak of Tourette’s-like symptoms among teenage girls in Le Roy, upstate New York. Two are so unlikely they can be dismissed out of hand. One other possibility is linked, in the historic record and the popular imagination, with witchcraft. And the final possibility sits right there on school grounds, where six natural gas wells are surrounded by dead trees.

Nobody wants to talk about the gas wells, though. (more…)

Singing the Cell Phone Blues

Posted in Uncategorized by pshelton on February 10, 2012

Way back in grade school somewhere we were forced to learn a poem and then recite it back to the class. The poem was “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards.

Once there was an elephant / Who tried to use the telephant –

No! No! I mean an elephone / Who tried to use the telephone.

(Dear me! I’m not certain quite / That even now I’ve got it right.) . . .

Phones and I have had a complicated relationship ever since. (more…)

Messing With Ski Shapes, Part Three

Posted in Uncategorized by pshelton on February 4, 2012

In case you thought the Fédération Internationale de Ski wasn’t crazy enough remanding ski shapes back to the 1980s, here they came a couple of weeks ago to tell Tina Maze that her underwear is too fast. (more…)