Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Playing Crocodile Club Catch Up

 meant to get all caught up with Crocodile Club last week, but I didn't. So here are the tidbits left out in the telling:

Host Ray Dunaway did a good job. He wasn't prepared to say the blessing before the meal, but the expected preacher didn't show, so Ray had to man up and do it. He figured his credentials as club president gave him "the authority" so he plunged right in. I don't think he'll be running off to theology school anytime soon, but I'd say he passed. On a side note, he told me his accordian was in rough shape, so he didn't bring it. Hope he gets it fixed in time for next year.

Ray had a bell that he said he'd ring if anyone didn't abide by the five-minute time limit on the speeches. The only time he had to use it was on the first speaker -- Bristol Mayor Art Ward -- who was just getting warmed up and hadn't even tried to be funny by the time the bell rang. The bell didn't stop the mayor from moving ahead with his remarks, though.

The picture here is one of me and Wally Barnes, and the mayor, before he got the bell.

Carolyn Norton was the only Norton at this year's dinner. She was the toast of the town and the belle of the ball. She had fun, too.

Lots of old timers were happy to see the club back, thanks to the permission of the Norton family, who owned the rights to it, the hospitality of Lake Compounce, the great food provided by Nuchies catering and the hard work of the New England Carousel Museum, which brought the event back as a fundraiser.

Tons of newcomers were excited to get to attend the club for the first time. Many of them were seated up front at the head table and they had to give speeches. There could have been some better briefing by staff, since a couple people didn't understand how the humor was supposed to be playful and remarks weren't supposed to be mean. Hopefully next time, they'll know what it is and get with the program.

The worst offender was Mark Boughton, who is running for lieutenant governor on the Republican side. He took a serious shot at Dan Malloy and the crowd definitely didn't like it. As he made his way back to his seat, I heard Malloy tell him his "joke" didn't go over "any better than when Ned Lamont told it."

Malloy and Tom Foley were both there for the first time. I'm not sure they were excited or enjoying themselves, though. When they weren't working the crowd, they sat next to each other at the head table and didn't look all that comfortable. When they spoke, they both tried to be funny. They were, but only a little bit.

Worst joke of all? Tom Marsh, the independent candidate for governor. "What's brown and sounds like a bell?" Marsh asked. "Dung."

No, I'm not kidding.

Linda McMahon surprised me with her wit. She had a few off the cuff remarks that were pretty good, including a swipe at Dunaway for noting her age when he introduced her and no one else's. Her opponent, Richard Blumenthal, joked about how un-funny he is and sure enough, wasn't especially amusing, except when he talked about being camera shy.

George Jepsen recited a short limerick, which in my book gets a few props for creativity:
"It is the year 2010
The crocodiles have assembled again
At long tables they eat
Some really odd meat.
For me, I will stick with the gin."

Classiest speaker, in my humble opinion, was Nancy Wyman, who raised a glass to the memory of Stretch Norton, recognized Carolyn Norton and just stayed in the spirit of the Crocodile. It's not hard to see why she's popular.

Not sure why the carousel museum decided to take a "break" in the middle of the program to draw a raffle number. It could have been done quickly but instead, a break was announced and a whole bunch of people, including many of the candidates on stage, beat a path to the door.

John Larson and Ann Brickley had to wait until after the break to speak, which didn't seem right to me, since much of the room had emptied by then. It is the U.S. Congress, after all.

The award for best patient goes to Betty Boukus, who is healing from total knee replacement surgery. She's getting around pretty well, she said, and is definitely following doctor's/physical therapist's orders.

Most conspicuous absence that day? Stretch Norton. Everybody missed him.

Biggest delight for me? Wally Barnes was there. My favorite moment of the whole thing was taking a spin on the park's antique carousel with him.
I discovered that, like me, he also prefers a jumper to a stander. He didn't get the brass ring, he said, but I felt like I did.
Wally hadn't expected to be in town, but when he found himself there, he "didn't want to miss it," he told me. I'm glad.

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