Saving a Seal

Today, we got a call from an island visitor who was concerned about a seal on Madaket beach that had a noose-like length of rope stuck around its neck. Evidently the seal had been there since Tuesday, which meant it endured three days of hunger, distress, and a complete lack of the protection that water provides to a marine mammal.

We were glad that our caller did not go near the animal, as she could have been attacked. Of course we had to tell her that we do not handle situations like this but we were happy to point her in the right direction; that is, to immediately call the New England Aquarium (NEAq) hotline at 617-973-5247. You will likely get an automated response, but the voice mailbox is checked quite frequently. Once the message has been received, NEAq will contact their volunteer coordinator on Nantucket to respond. As of now, NEAq is aware of this particular seal’s situation. We hope that some action will be taken as soon as possible to save this creature!

Again, if you ever see a stranded or injured marine animal, do two things: first, keep your distance. Secondly, call the New England Aquarium hotline at 617-973-5247, and be prepared to give explicit directions to the animal’s location.

Nantucket Film Fest Big Five

by Sarah Teach

Want to hit the big events at the 17th Annual Nantucket Film Festival, but skip the rest? Here is all you need to know about the events of June 20-24.
Morning Coffee With… (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in The Dreamland, So. Water Street) These Morning Coffees allow you to interact face-to-face with a handful of the directors of the movies being shown at the festival. It’s your chance to see these film legends on as personal a level as will be possible throughout the weekend. One never knows just who might show up at these early events; so if you are trying to meet one director in particular, try to make it to as many Morning Coffees as you can.
Late Night Storytelling (Friday at 8 p.m. at the Sconset Casino) This is the part of the festival where everyone – from big celebrities to your neighbor on Nantucket – hangs out together and has a drink or three. Attendees share both stage and audience space as people tell hilarious, five-minute stories about life in a theme-based fashion. This year’s stories will be centered on “red flags.” (Think of that time you knew you should stop dating the guy with a swastika tattooed on his forearm.) Returning to host Late Night Storytelling is Boston-born comedian Mike O’Malley, whose name you might recognize from Glee or the 2010 romantic drama Eat Pray Love. O’Malley’s many summers in Madaket have allowed him to gather a rich range of Nantucket-specific jokes that never fail to keep the Casino filled with laughter.
All-Star Comedy Roundtable (Friday at 3 p.m. in the Nantucket High School auditorium) Ben Stiller’s discussion of the craft of comedy brings a full circle of today’s funniest faces, including Jim Carrey and Chris Rock. In years past, we’ve seen Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Andy Samberg, Aziz Ansari, and Seth Myers along with other Saturday Night Live favorites. This year, proceeds from the All-Star Comedy Roundtable will benefit the newly minted Nantucket Film Institute, a branch of the Festival that serves to foster screenwriting skills in Nantucket teens though establishing on-island resources such as writing labs. Not a bad place to put your donations!
Screenwriters Tribute (Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sconset Casino) Go to this awards show if you care about the screenwriter being honored; otherwise, skip it. You can always laugh at Brian Williams’ antics on NBC for free in your jammies. However, if you enjoyed either of the Father of the Bride movies, The Parent Trap, What Women Want, or It’s Complicated, then you’ll love the entire body of work made by this year’s honoree, Nancy Meyers. The 62-year-old writer/director/producer has been making smash hit films since the late 70s and just keeps getting better at what she does. Meyers’ longtime friend and collaborator Diane Keaton will present her with the Screenwriters Tribute award. After the tribute, stick around the Casino ‘til 10 p.m. when Meyers’ 2003 romantic comedy, Something’s Gotta Give, will be screening. (If you simply cannot fathom staying out until after midnight, then you can see the film at the Sconset Casino at 4 p.m. on Thursday.) Both Meyers and Keaton will be in attendance at the screenings. Too bad we’re not going to meet Keaton’s co-star, Jack Nicolson… or will we? When it comes to the Screenwriters Tribute, you never know who you might bump into.
In Their Shoes (Two sessions: Saturday at 10:15 a.m. with Frank Langella; and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with Nancy Meyers. Both held at the Dreamland.) If you like the way Chris Matthews plays hardball, then come check out In Their Shoes. Organized much like a TV interview, talking-heads style; the audience watches Chris onstage interviewing his famous guest. Chris asks very in-depth questions about his interviewee’s work, and offers an expert perspective on what he has seen the interviewee create. This event allows you to familiarize yourself with someone’s work and hear about the specifics of their career, making it the perfect event for an aspiring filmmaker. During his appearance as Saturday’s guest, Frank Langella will be given the Compass Rose Acting Award, which recognizes profound acting performances.

A Nantucket Festival for Readers

by Sarah Teach

If you’ve been into Broad Street’s cozy Bookworks any time since the 1970s, you may very well have encountered Richard “Dick” Burns. A clerk at the local bookshop, Burns doesn’t consider himself to be one of the big minds behind this week’s inaugural Nantucket Book Festival, but his involvement in it suggests otherwise. “I was originally invited to a meeting this past winter as a consultant,” he says. A decade ago, Burns, who did his undergraduate studies in the English field, launched a successful literary festival in Brattleboro, Vermont that continues today. “[Doing a book festival on Nantucket] had been talked about for many years, as early as 2004, as far as I know,” says Burns, adding, “We saw what was being done at the other festivals, and they are really focused in their particular fields.” The Nantucket Book Festival is our newest annual tradition on the island, but it’s not one of indulgence in wine or worship of the silver screen. Burns says, “We’re doing this to celebrate the book, whether it’s [a digital reader] or a paper book, as a repository of literature.”

Putting on a festival is no simple task, but Burns says the only unique challenge of hosting a book fest on an island is getting the authors here. With his characteristic grin and hearty laugh, Burns offers a simple solution: “But there are boats and there are planes!” The other significant obstacles have been raising money and keeping costs down. Of this, Burns admits, “When you want to make something free, the whole thing becomes an expensive proposition.” The community has given generously of itself to help host the festival. Many inns have offered deals to accommodate the visiting authors, and Young’s Bicycle Shop has donated bikes for all authors and their families for the entire weekend!

Burns acknowledges, “These days, we’ve pretty much got everything on Nantucket. We have our graphic designers, our artists, not to mention authors.” Indeed, in addition to the 27 authors that will be coming in from off-island, there will be almost 40 local authors showing their work at the festival. “Lots of authors that are coming this year have never been to Nantucket before. Probably about half of them,” says Burns, who has been charged with author contact for the festival. “A lot of these professional writers are amazed at how any writers live here on Nantucket.” The authors who write on a national level will host seminars and talks, packing the weekend with events for a variety of literary interests. The bulk of the action will take place on Saturday, sandwiched between Friday night’s free festival opening at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House and Sunday’s Father’s Day Brunch and then a Pig Roast at Cisco Brewery. And while putting on a festival ain’t no picnic, that hasn’t precluded the organizers from hosting one. A Limerick Picnic will be held on Saturday at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum. The picnic and both closing events are the only Book Festival events that require tickets. Everything else is free and open to the public!

The folks behind the Book Festival have made it one of their primary goals to celebrate the island and, as Burns says, “Without being too ostentatious, to show it off.” But it’s not all beer and Skittles; another central goal of the Nantucket Book Festival is to use a partnership with PEN/Faulkner program to set a foundation for more literary emphasis in our schools here on the island through writing workshops.

“The whole [festival] thing is a bit artificial. A festival isn’t a creative act; it’s a show,” says Burns, waving his hand dismissively. “But in this case, the audience also [consists of] the performers. And it includes people from every aspect of the book realm, from writers to sellers to readers.” Burns’ wiggling eyebrows seem to signify a great conviction as he professes, “A festival requires a real density of heart.” Above all, Burns recommends that participants come ready to listen, and feel welcome to ask questions of the speakers and authors. For further details and a complete schedule of the Nantucket Book Festival, visit their website at

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry for Less!

We’re always enthusiastic about going out to eat on Nantucket.  This week (June 4 to 10) is Spring Restaurant Week here on the island, and 19 restaurants are participating by offering special meals priced at $25 to $45 per person.  Additional island eateries are offering restaurant week specials without officially participating.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Dinner at Black-Eyed Susans: $35 for a three-course menu with six choices for first course and six choices for second. The Roasted Baby Beets with Vermont Goat Cheese and Fresh Meyer Lemon Fettuccine with New Zealand Lamb Bolognese are our picks.
  • Lunch at Galley Beach: $25 for two courses in the best beach dining setting on Nantucket–get Chef Osif’s Pernod Scented Escargots and his Nantucket Flounder Meuniere
  • Dinner at Company of the Cauldron: romantic in-town setting offering a different $45 three- or four-course menu every night of Restaurant Week. Wednesday is our favorite, featuring Antipasti of Shrimp, Arugula Salad, Petite Beef Wellington, and Brioche Waffle & Chai Tea Gelato.
  • Dinner at Fifty-Six Union, who has Restaurant Week specials in addition to their regular offerings.
  • Dinner at DeMarco Restaurant: their restaurant week menu offers three courses for $40, including both their Fried Green and Ugly Tomatoes appetizer (pictured above) and their rich and delicious Boscaiola.

See who is participating by visiting the Restaurant Week website and browse among even more of Nantucket’s restaurants at the Dining Section.