Peter Shelton

What the coffee table said

Posted in At the Movies, Ski evolution, Watch columns by pshelton on November 18, 2010

The coffee table was piled high with stuff, as usual. We had a visitor coming, a friend from New York who stopped in rarely and so warranted a neater living room than the semi-pigpen we allow when we are home alone. I waded in.

First thing to get put away was the road atlas. We’d had it out to look at New Jersey. We’ve been watching old episodes of The Sopranos, and Ellen wanted to see where the Pine Barrens are. I’d also wanted to check on the whereabouts of Wasilla, Alaska.

That little bit of research happened after I read Nancy Franklin’s hilarious review of Sarah Palin’s new “reality” show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. (more…)

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Where 60 counts as a youngster

Posted in Ski history, Watch columns by pshelton on April 15, 2010

One of the Alta volunteer guides stood on a knoll watching, hoping that all of her charges would make the turn to the Supreme chairlift. Most of them did turn right as instructed onto the narrow access trail. But a couple of them didn’t, sailing along in their timeless parallel christies, merrily on down past the cut-off.

“Oh, I get it,” deadpanned the guide. “Half of them are deaf and the other half don’t listen.”

This was a funny if somewhat exaggerated assessment of the group. Her charges, my compatriots at the annual gathering of the International Skiing History Association, probably averaged 75 years of age. More than a few of them sported hearing aids. Quite a few—the group numbered about 20—were well into their 80s. All were lifetime skiers, some of them superb skiers still. They knew what they were doing, but not, all of the time, where they were going.

ISHA does a lot of good tings. It maintains an exhaustive history website (www.skiinghistory.org). It publishes a quarterly journal, Skiing Heritage, that is chock full of profiles of people everybody’s heard of (Stein Eriksen, Ernest Hemingway) and ski people you probably haven’t heard of (Jerry Nunn, for example, the first female professional avalanche hunter, a woman who regularly drove cross country with a trunk full of dynamite; or Roland Palmedo, Wall Street banker, World War I pilot, kayaker, sailor, climber, world traveler and master of four languages, the man who started the ski areas at Stowe and Mad River Glen, Vermont). (more…)

The Geezers Club

Posted in Ski evolution, Watch columns by pshelton on February 27, 2010

Sometimes when I’m at a loss for something to write about, Ellen suggests, “Write about cats.”

She doesn’t mean cats, themselves, necessarily, though we are wrestling with end-of-life, quality-of-life issues (his and ours) for dear old Tonapaw, who is at least 17 human years old: skinny, stiff, irascible—prone to what the vet calls “inappropriate vocalization.” He yells a lot. It’s apparently a sign of kitty dementia.

No, Ellen means write about what’s in your lap. Right now. Where do your thoughts go when you’re not monitoring them, when you’re not on guard, at work, or in public? (more…)

You Say You Want a Resolution

Posted in Watch columns by pshelton on December 31, 2009

You know that clunking noise the old Saab makes? The one in the front end that sounds as if there’s a bolt loose, or a missing bushing or something? And every little bump in the road transmits the rattle, unless you’re going fast enough and you have the stereo cranked up to 11 so that nothing penetrates your rock ‘n’ roll bubble?

I really should get that looked at (listened to) again, even though that one guy who purported to be a foreign car specialist said he’d finally figured it out, but it was OK because it’s just this thing, and it makes a noise, and it isn’t crucial or anything.

Saab is soon to be no more, if you believe General Motors. So, I resolve this New Year’s, before the replacement parts for all 1997 Saabs with 298K miles on them disappear into capitalist extinction, to find these parts and get them installed. Because I don’t totally trust this guy, and loyal “Footsie” (Malagasy for “white girl”; we name all our cars) needs to keep running for a good while longer since we aren’t exactly in a position to pony up for a new vehicle right now.

And while we’re on resolutions (more…)

The Edge of Never

Posted in At the Movies, Ski history by pshelton on October 7, 2009

At an early-fall screening of the new ski movie The Edge of Never (in a comfortably thread-bare art-house theater in Salt Lake City) we were probably the three oldest guys in the audience. The filmmaker, ex-pro freestyler Bill Kerig, a youthful forty-something, bounced up on stage in fashionably saggy pants and encouraged everyone to “give it up” for the three little kids (two of whom were his) handing out Leki hoodies and Skullcandy ear buds and other door-prize swag. (more…)