Volume XVII, Issue 31 # July 30 - August 5, 2009

from the Editor

What Makes a Good Story?

Exceptional behavior, from the heroic to the weird (Read the one; make the other)

Making this issue of Bay Weekly has given us lots of fun, which is what I hope it will give you. I only wish we had more pages because we’ve got good stories standing around waiting their turn to reach you.

Good stories explore the causes behind human behavior. The more exceptional the behavior, the better the story’s likely to be. Exceptional, of course, ranges all the way from heroic to incongruous to weird.

The stories on pages 6 and 8 on how the Grinch regulates summer go hand in glove as examples of incongruity. How could two hallmarks of summer sustenance — stands selling homemade lemonade and brightly colored ice cream shops — run into trouble with law? Staff writer Diana Beechener and I love stories of that sort, and we jumped on the case, tracking down the rationales behind laws that take some of the fun out of summer sweets.

Health departments and fire marshals don’t play the Grinch out of spite, we concluded. They’re charged with safeguarding us, no matter how unfriendly their rules seem.

Stories farther along the scale of peculiarity are usually collected by Chuck Shepherd in his syndicated column News of the Weird. Occasionally Marylanders appear in his rogues’ gallery; former governor William Donald Schaefer popped in more than once. But local police reports give us close-at-hand weirdness every day. So this week I’ve added recent installments from local police reports to Dock of the Bay, under the heading Hapless Neighbors. You won’t want to miss reading about this week’s would-be boat-burglar and his impromptu disguise.

Exceptional efforts for good causes make another kind of good story, and at this time of the year, such stories abound. The first week of August — more specifically the Thursday and Friday of that week — bring us, first, Calvert County’s annual Celebration of Life Gala, and second, Rotary of Annapolis’ annual crab feast.

In quantity and quality, both are not only exceptional but extraordinary. At Celebration of Life, lobster and champagne are endless. And those are only two of the hundreds of appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, salads, pastas, fish, meats, drinks and desserts. The Rotary Crab feast, reputed to be the world’s largest, fills every guest to the no-more! point with crabs, crab soup, corn on the cob, barbecue and beer.

This week, Margaret Tearman whets your appetite for the feast you’ll encounter and consume at the Celebration of Life. Next week, she reviews the art of cracking a crab so you’ll be prepared to get crackin’.

The exceptional efforts culminating in those two one-day events is the first half of a good story. The second half is their consequences. In 28 years, Rod ’n’ Reel’s Celebration of Life Gala has contributed $3.8 million to the fight against cancer, on two fronts: research, much of it in Maryland universities; and direct service to cancer patients in Calvert County. Advocacy, counseling, support, wigs, turbans and college scholarships are some of the services you help support by joining the Celebration, which this year will almost certainly crack the $4 million mark.

The fun you have at each year’s Rotary Crab Feast is passed forward in grants to help Annapolis and Anne Arundel community organizations keep up their good work. Last year $60,000 was passed along to 40 groups, in specific grants ranging from $500 to $3,000. In these hard times, that’s survival money for many of the projects it supports.

Of course the best part of these good stories is that you can be part of both. Bay Weekly will be there, and we hope to see you, too.

Celebration of Life Gala: 7:30-10pm Th Aug. 6 @ Rod ’n’ Reel Restaurant, Chesapeake Beach. $125 advance; $150 at the gate:
301-855-8351x108; www.RodNReelCancerGala.org.
Rotary Crab Feast: 5-8pm F Aug. 7 (rain or shine; most tables are protected) @ Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis. $60 adults; $30 children: 443-951-0340x100; [email protected].

       Sandra Olivetti Martin

     editor and publisher