Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#758. Moxie Day Review!

You may remember me nattering on about Stephen King's 11/22/63, the book that happened to be set in my hometown of Lisbon Falls, ME.  For those who read it, you may remember the Kennebec Fruit Co. store run by Frank Anicetti.
via Sun Journal
King made up a few things (alas, no diner with a time portal exists, at least in Lisbon Falls), but he didn't make up what locals call the Moxie Store, or Frank.  You can't make up Frank.  Thanks to Frank and two preceding generations of Anicettis (the store recently celebrated a hundred years of business; yes, they used to sell fruit there), the Moxie Festival and Moxie Day itself, always celebrated on the second Saturday in July, came to town more than thirty years ago.  If you've never had Moxie, just know that it can be described both as "a treat" and "awful."  It's one of the original soft drinks, and still retains the vaguely medicinal nature they all had (really hard to believe though that is these days).  It's like Barq's root beer with...a different kind of bite, an aftertaste that always takes you by surprise.

Growing up in town, Moxie Day was a given, and it was increasingly a strange thing to realize we had something people came from all over the country to experience every year.  When I moved away in 2005, I began a ten year journey to experiencing Moxie Day all over again.

My oldest sibling, one of two sisters and the one who's older than me (not the one I spent that decade living with and/or near) has made an annual pilgrimage to Moxie Day for years.  She's been away since 1995, so I assume these visits are particularly special for her.  Half of Moxie Day this year was hanging out with her again for a extended period of time, which I hadn't done for a decade, another way this year's festivities were a way of closing a loop (a lot of my life is about closing loops, concluding journeys; don't worry, there are always loops to be closed).  She brought with her the whole family, husband and son, who happens to be my godson, whom I haven't actually seen since probably 2006, about two years into his life.

Also present and accounted for (besides my parents) were my brother (the middle child, older but not oldest brother) and his family, which includes two more nephews.  I've gotten to spend a great deal of time with these boys since returning to Maine last fall.  They're both young (five and two), which makes this an especially fun time to hang out with them.  

The highlight of Moxie Day is the parade and all the vendors who set up shop on Main St.  I got there a little early and slipped into the Moxie Store to at last have my own Moxie t-shirt (loop closed!), which I quickly slipped into (sorry, Rock Paper Scissors Lizards Spock from The Big Bang Theory!).  Walking around, I got to see what everyone was selling (either food, jewelry, or kiddie carnival games; Moxie Day is at heart a children's event with room for adults who want to have a good time).  This included my favorite part of Moxie Day, the library's book sale.  

I love browsing.  I guess for me that's the big difference between real world stores and online retailers.  In the real world you can come across things at random.  Often, online, you're looking for things you already know about.  (The big difference is that online you can find a lot of niche things.)  I know that's not always the case, but it takes less effort to find something unexpected, browsing a book sale.  (Plus you really can't beat the deal; $5 for a bagful.)  

I think it would have been the last time I got to enjoy Moxie Day that I found Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon at the sale.  Most of the books in sales like this will not be a massive Pynchon tome.  But some of them will.  Here's what I got this year:
  • Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy - I've never read Christie.  I know And Then There Were None was assigned reading for my three older siblings in school, but either I didn't have that class or it disappeared (a mystery that needs to be solved!) from the teaching agenda by the time I reached that year.  Although her best-known creation is Hercule Poirot, this is not part of the series.  (Loop closed.)
  • Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm - Part of the famed British Prime Minister's history of WWII (six volumes in all).  
  • Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident - The second of eight in the series, this was part of the great push in young readers publishing following the success of Harry Potter, and always seemed (along with Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) one of the more inspired efforts.  I never got around to reading it, but after Colfer wrote the sixth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, er, trilogy, I figured I would have to get around to reading one of these eventually.  This was a recommendation from one of the attendants, a very welcome one.  (Loop closed.)
  • Stephen King's Bag of Bones - King (it seems appropriate, plus I was looking for him in the sale anyway, after unfortunately inserting most of my unread hardcovers into the great purge of 2013) has had a few phases in his career.  This book was part of a comeback that began while I was in high school (perhaps highlighted by The Green Mile).  Arguably since then there was also the Dark Tower Surge (to complete that seven book series) that followed it and the Books He Always Wanted to Finish period (I think recently concluded, featuring such novels as 11/23/63, Under the Dome, and Doctor Sleep), while of course the Everyone Loves Me 1980s era and his early success.  (This is a hardcover, by the way.)  (Loop closed.)
  • Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels - The popular work of Civil War literature that was later adapted into the film Gettysburg.  Always wanted to read this one.  (Loop closed.)
  • Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram - A book that used to stare at me expectantly when I worked at Borders, and also the subject of a rare customer recommendation.  So I finally have it (loop closed).  Another epic-sized (darn near a thousand pages) piece of fiction found in the book sale!
Drank some Moxie.  Ate some food.  Hung out with family.  Good times, good times.


Pat Dilloway said...

I've heard of Moxie but when I was in Maine I never found any to buy. Nor was I looking very hard...or at all. My sisters are the type who buy bags of stuff from library sales. I tend to be more discriminating. And since they don't sell ebooks I have no real reason to go. I always wonder if anyone's bought any of my books from the Wixom library yet. I've deposited quite a few there over the last 5 years, mostly proof copies.

Tony Laplume said...

You never visit this library?

The Armchair Squid said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. Happy belated Moxie Day!

Tony Laplume said...

Much appreciated!


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