Authors Posts by Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow

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A Vineyard first down in the first quarter. — Photo by Laurie Turney

It was a tough day on the gridiron for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School football team. The Somerset-Berkley Raiders scored a touchdown on an 80 yard return on our first kickoff. And though they didn’t make good on the 2-point conversion, things just went downhill from there.

Despite an interception by Andrew Jacobs Walsh and a second quarter fumble recovery by Kyle Stobie, Vineyarders were down 20-0 at the half. The third quarter didn’t get any better; the Raiders scored again, and once again missed the conversion to make it 26-0.

With 8:49 left in the fourth quarter, Somerset made it 32-0 and the game ended on that score.

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Hallie MacCormack and Jamie Stringfellow near the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston's Seaport district. — Photo by Jamie Stringfellow

My daughter wanted one thing for her 17th birthday: to spend a weekend shopping off-Island for back-to-school clothes with the impressive amount of money she’d received from three sets of grandparents and two sets of parents. She drew up a list of roughly 44 stores, all of which she located at one giant mall situated somewhere in the suburban wilderness between Woods Hole and Boston. That provoked in me visions of a Lost Weekend (but involving way too much mall food instead of way too much whiskey) and made me so queasy I had to sit down.

“Hey,” I said to her. “Why don’t we go to Boston…?” Not as Google-maps-adept as she, but good enough, I’d soon plotted out a critical mass of her favorite stores in and around Boston proper. No mall food required, and we could walk from store to store in the glorious fall sunshine.

“Let’s go!” I said, and that Friday, off we went.

By Sunday afternoon, we’d both used up our budgets, but had just under 48 hours of fun, including room service (while she did her homework and I relaxed with the Sunday newspaper, overlooking Boston Harbor), sightseeing, great meals, and lots of happy miles under our feet. Here are a few of my favorite Boston things to do in fall that could please both adults and (miraculously) teens (and pretty much anyone else) in your family.

Just walk around

Often called “America’s Walking City,” the Hub is an ideal place to stroll. (Trivia: Boston was first called “The Hub of the Universe” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who initially meant to refer to the State House as the hub of the solar system.) From our hotel on the waterfront, we walked up Summer Street until it turned to Winter at Downtown Crossing, where I regaled her with stories of my own back-to-school shopping trips with my mother at Filene’s, which is now being gutted to make room for something else. We walked through the Boston Common (America’s oldest public park) and continued to the Public Garden. We happened on a student playing Bach on a cello, while a bride and groom strode by in the opposite direction.

We wandered the HarborWalk; you can use the almost 47-mile route to connect the dots of the Harpoon Brewery, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Long Wharf, the North End, and beyond.

Then, of course, there’s the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage Trail, which follow the paths to freedom that our ancestors trod, passing the Tea Party ship, Paul Revere’s House, and the 54th Regiment Memorial on the back side of Beacon Hill, dedicated to the African-American soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War. Good overviews of Boston Trails:;;; .

Or pedal

This has been on my list for a while: a foliage bike tour along Boston’s Emerald Necklace. When city officials — and more aptly, legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted — looked at swathe of green created by the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the adjacent Commonwealth Avenue “mall,” they decided to keep going and create and link green spaces that, when viewed from above would look like, well, an Emerald Necklace. In the fall, Urban Adventours ( leads 15-mile bike rides through the foliage of the Boston Common and Public Garden, the Charles River Esplanade, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway (Boston’s newest public park, sited on what was once the Southeast Expressway). They even supply the bikes!

Some really cool art

I think the Institute of Contemporary Art on the waterfront is itself a work of art. Framed views of Boston Harbor surprise you when you walk around a corner. We had lunch at Water, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, outside in the sun, then wandered the galleries. I tried to restrain myself from asking my (painter) daughter, “What do you think this MEANS?” which would have elicitedd some major eye rolls, but other than that, it was relaxing and refreshing. The Museum of Fine Art, always a favorite destination for its impressive collection of Impressionist paintings and its musical instrument exhibit (check out the really tiny violin), has a show during October dedicated to “Hippie Chic.”

JFK Library

If we hadn’t run out of time, I would have gone to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester in honor of the 50th anniversary of the President’s assassination. Just a short T-ride away from South Station, or an easy drive, the library is currently hosting exhibits about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1964 oral history interview, just unsealed two years ago. In addition to extensive artifacts relating to the President’s life and administration, the JFK Library also houses the world’s largest collection of Ernest Hemingway papers.


A little October baseball maybe? If seats at Fenway are hard to come by, there’s another classic October sport in town: the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of collegiate sports’ most prestigious events, held this year on October 19-20. More than 9,000 rowers from hundreds of colleges and clubs worldwide compete in races on the Charles River. Another 300,000 people crowd the banks under tents, tailgating, reuniting with old classmates, and just enjoying the (hopefully) spectacular October weather. Info:

If you’d rather stay inside, the Fall New England Home Show is November 1-3 at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Streetpianos? Yep, just what it sounds like — pianos placed outside in various spots around Boston — The Common, the Chinatown Gate, Faneuil Hall — so those inclined can sit down and play. But hurry: the pianos go away for the winter by month’s end. Info:


I think I discovered something about teenagers: Malls make them cranky and sarcastic. At least, in my own narrow scientific research, walking and moving around city sidewalks produces a far happier shopper. That and the close proximity to Victoria’s Secret, H&M, and Marshall’s, all within a few blocks of the Back Bay. With the shops at the Prudential Center and Copley Place nearby, no mall on the planet comes close. And it was fun to peer in the windows of Newbury Street — Chanel and longtime Boston Jeweler Shreve, Crump and Low, where we admired 20-carat diamonds. Faneuil Hall, Harvard Square, Downtown Crossing, and the one-of-a-kind boutiques in the North End are just short walks or T rides away.

Getting around

It’s pretty easy to go without your vehicle, so if you want to be car-free, the bus to South Station is the way to go. Save gas, parking fees, and the planet at the same time. Still, we all know, when the ferry prices drop, it’s cheaper to go with your car, and allows you a Trader Joe’s or Target run, which on its own can pay for your boat.

Parking can be tricky. Consider parking at Adams station on the Red Line for the weekend and taking the Red Line into town. Hotel parking can be pricey. The Boston Common Garage is about $10 cheaper per day than most hotels. In the end, if you park the car you can easily navigate Beantown on foot, or by pedicab, T, taxi, boat, or even bike. Check out this handy site to compare parking options:

Where to stay

Other than the shopping, my daughter said her favorite part of the weekend was our hotel (see Room Service, above…). We used and got a terrific deal at the Westin Waterfront, near the convention center. There are some B&Bs in Boston that are great deals, too. My friend Holly Nadler always stays at the Eliot & Pickett Houses on Beacon Hill ( for around $135 a night. For more in-town B&Bs, check

Where to eat

We love Trattoria Il Panino in the North End, and enjoyed an excellent meal and great atmosphere at the old-timey Mother Anna’s, also in the North End. Another favorite is the Paramount on Charles Street.

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Lesley Segal has been here to help people hear for fifteen years. — Photo courtesy of Lesley Segal

Lesley Segal owns Vineyard Audiology, a private audiology practice in Vineyard Haven.

So, what does an audiologist do?

I provide a range of hearing health services — diagnostic evaluations and consultations; Auditory Processing Disorder testing; assessment of middle ear function; hearing screenings for pre school children; hearing screenings [for adults] for employment purposes and hearing aid evaluations, dispensing, fitting, cleaning and repair as well as tinnitus evaluations.

I work with all ages, from 6 months to 106 years.

What’s the story of your business? How’d you start it and when?

I opened Vineyard Audiology in September, 1998 after moving here with my 5-year-old daughter. Prior to moving here, I lived in Buffalo New York where I worked at Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. I first shared an office on State Road but moved my practice to my home in 2001.

Do you remember your very first days in business? What’s the worst thing that happened? The best?

My first patient was a preschooler who thought it would be great fun to jump onto my newly calibrated speaker system. I was shocked, of course, but totally amused. My next patient was much more sedate. What struck me was how warm and welcoming everyone was.

What’s been the biggest surprise about running a business on the Island?

The biggest difference in the Vineyard for me is the day-to-day relationships I have the fortune to develop with everyone coming into my office.

Does your family get involved?

My daughter is in college. Her career path is completely different from audiology. But, because my own father was severely hearing impaired, she has a real sensitivity and appreciation for my work.

What’s your favorite day-off thing to do on the Vineyard? What is your idea of a “Perfect Vineyard Day”?

On my days off, I love exploring the Vineyard trails. There is an endless supply of new sights. I am so lucky to live here. A perfect Vineyard day is hiking without losing my dog or acquiring ticks.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your business that no one ever seems to ask?

I guess I just want people to know that I am here… to help them hear better! Sometimes, just talking about room acoustics and communication modifications is all they need.

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Lana and Roger Shaefer tied the knot on Edgartown Harbor on September 7. — Photo by Roman A. Pena

Wednesday morning, an email arrived from Roger Shaefer.

“My wife, Lana Shaefer, and I, Roger Shaefer, were married last weekend [September 7] and thought it would be fun to share some of our more adventurous wedding photos with the Times,” Mr. Shaefer began. “We live in Oak Bluffs. Lana was just hired as the nurse for the Oak Bluffs Elementary School. I am the caretaker of the Boch Estate in Edgartown. We have lived on the Island for a while now, and we feel fortunate to be able to have had our wedding here, too.”

Roger attached some great photos from the wedding. We wanted to know more. “How’d you come to meet each other on the Vineyard?” we asked.

Roger said he’d grown up coming to the Island each summer and moved here year-round three years ago. Lana spent summers here working as a waitress at the Black Dog, while getting a nursing degree at the University of Maine.

“We met at a friend’s birthday/Fourth of July barbecue,” Lana wrote. “I’d been helping prep food…. Once people started arriving, I carried around a tray of hot dogs. Roger stopped me, never having met me before, and told me he needed to take my picture. After I walked over.., he and [his friend] Jason took a hot dog, and Jason blurted, ‘I think my friend just fell in love with you.’

“Roger and I were both taken a little aback by the comment until Jason pointed out he was referring to my earrings.”

Lana was wearing Kastmaster earrings made by her friend Keri Erley. Kastmasters are chrome-plated brass fishing lures that range in size from 1/12 ounce up to 4 ounces. Roger, a fisherman, noticed them immediately on Lana, and he loved them.

“So we chatted for a while at the barbecue. Then he took me out fishing at Hedge Fence a few days later, and the rest is history.”

The earring maker made Lana a new pair of fishing earrings for the ceremony, which Lana forgot (along with the rest of her jewelry). Roger’s sister ran to get them in time for the reception. The photo Roger took upon his first sight of Lana is now on their fridge.

On Sunday, they fished their first Derby together as a married couple, and caught a fish.

Got a good Derby romance story? A good “how we met” story? A fun wedding you want to share? Please send them to us:

Circuit Ave was closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday, and opened to pedestrians and vendors. — Photo by Angelina Godbout

I moved away from the Vineyard 10 years ago. Not completely; I came back each summer. But our kids were enrolled in school far away, so I had to leave the Island before Labor Day each year, which seemed inhumane. About two weekends after Labor Day, I’d find myself thinking of Oak Bluffs, and Tivoli Day. Though I knew there had been rainy Tivolis, I remembered it as that perfect mid-September day — puffy clouds in a blue sky, the bright sun shining down on people dancing, laughing, celebrating their good fortune. I pined for that feeling of being one of the lucky ones who got to stay on the Island for our sunniest month when everyone else had (for the most part) left.

It was with some hesitation that I walked into town this past weekend for my first Tivoli in 10 years. So much about the Vineyard, and pretty much everything else, had changed in that decade that I wasn’t sure what I’d find.

Blissfully, it was the same old, same old. Bluefish blasting music, women selling quilts for good causes, guys in kilts taking shopping pauses, a thousand good-food smells wafting around. And of course, another perfect September day.

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Frederick "Rick" Huss gets a lantern out of storage. Mr. Huss's family has owned "Precious Porches" cottage for 100 years. Some of their lanterns are over 150 years old. — Photo by Jamie Stringfellow

It was colorful in Oak Bluffs today, as residents of the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association (MVCMA) cottages decked out their porches with paper lanterns for tonight’s Grand Illumination.

The first Illumination, sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company, was held on August 14, 1869, and was intended to promote the company’s new housing development around Ocean Park.

We think it’s almost as much fun to watch campground residents prepare as it is to watch the lights go on. Before the switch is flipped, there’s a singalong around the Tabernacle at about 6:30 followed by music by the Vineyard Haven Town Band.

For more information, visit

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A small crowd snapped pictures as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama go into the Sweet Life Cafe for dinner Sunday evening. — Photo by Boston Herald/White House Pool

Updated 8:45 am Monday, August 12, 2013.

President Obama enjoyed an afternoon of golf at Farm Neck Golf Course and dinner out with friends at Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs Sunday, two places he has visited often during his Martha’s Vineyard vacations.

The President teed off at noon with White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, senior policy advisor on nutrition Robert Wolf, and White House chef Sam Kass.

Pool reporters and photographers observed President Obama approach the first green at Farm Neck, where he three-putted despite an enthusiastic effort to coax the ball into the hole with presidential body language.

The foursome finished the round shortly after 5 pm, and the president returned to his vacation house in Chilmark, according to pool reporters.

Just before 7:30 pm, the president and Mrs. Obama arrived at Sweet Life Cafe on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs to dine with a group of friends.

President Obama waved to a small crowd of people gathered in front of the Oak Bluffs Inn across the street as he stepped out of his vehicle. He bounded up the front steps with a smile and joined a group of seven friends waiting in a private upstairs dining room. The president chose grilled swordfish from the menu, according to a restaurant staffer. The White House did not release any information about the first couple’s dining companions.

At about 9:15 pm, the president and first lady came downstairs, and spent about five minutes chatting with the restaurant staff and posing for pictures inside the front entry, before leaving the restaurant.

A sizable crowd gathered while the president and his friends had dinner, and they cheered as he left the restaurant.

Alan Schweikert sold his first house in Oak Bluffs — a Victorian near the water — for $38,000. — Photo courtesy of Alan Schweikert

Alan Schweikert, owner and principal broker at Ocean Park Realty in Oak Bluffs, started selling real estate 40 years ago. He and his agents now sell more than a third of all homes sold in Oak Bluffs. We asked him a few questions about his four decades in O.B.

Q.: What year did you first arrive on the Vineyard?

Alan Schweikert: It was 1971. I got my MBA from BU [Boston University] and was living in Boston (I’m from New Jersey). My first job was at Brandeis University and the V.P. there had a connection on the Vineyard. He said “I have a guy who needs some help with management,” and they flew me down here and I went to work for Stan Snyder at Mattakeesett. I’d never been to the Vineyard before.

They offered me a job I couldn’t refuse — car, apartment. I was in charge of 25 18-year-old girls. I was probably 26 at the time. Stan Snyder said, “If we can reproduce this [Mattakeesett], we’ll put them in different locations around the country.” But there was a recession, so I went back to Boston, and took a trip around the world for a while.

When did you start selling real estate?

AS: Well, when I got back there was a note to call Peter Rosbeck. He said “I understand you know something about Martha’s Vineyard…” and I said, “Something.” He said, “Well, there’s a development down there that needs some help; will you go down there and represent me?”

So I went to Sengekontacket in 1973. I thought: here I am a striving MBA type; would I rather be selling Jello in the midwest somewhere, or down here clamming and fishing and learning how to do all the things I really love in life? So I just kind of mellowed out and enjoyed it here.

I worked for Peter — all I did was sell land for him — Island Grove and Sengekontacket. I built my first house there in 1976 — the year of the Tall Ships. I never sold a house until 1977. I thought: Jeez, this is fun.

How much did that first house sell for?

AS: The first house I sold here in town, I’ll never forget it. It was a Victorian over on Pequot Avenue, a block from the beach. And I sold it for $38,000.

The people — their deal was subject to financing. In those days everyone used Dukes County Savings Bank. So I had to meet their home inspector over there — guy named Carlisle Cronig. He came over and he looked at the house, and he looked at me, and he said “You sold this for thirty-eight thousand dollars!? You must be one hell of a broker!” It was funny.

Then I sold a campground cottage to a chef on the Island and we sold that for $19,000.

When did you go into business for yourself?

AS: You remember Tubby Rebello? We had R & S Real Estate. Tubby and I were living in Sengekontacket. And he lured me away. He said “You and I could be a great team. I run the town, and you’re young and ambitious…” So that lasted about two years. We sold some funny little houses. I left him and decided to go on my own in O.B. and I opened up Ocean Park Realty. It was incorporated in 1979.

What has been the biggest change in Oak Bluffs in the forty years you’ve been selling real estate here?

AS: When I was here in the 1970s, everyone wanted to buy in Edgartown. All of a sudden, people started looking at Oak Bluffs differently. Places like Sengekontacket, and Waterview Farms… It wasn’t a broken down honky-tonk town….it was up and coming. Then in ’81, ’82, you got Farm Neck and the golf course. We still have a fun crazy in-town town, lots of activity, lots of tourists. But O.B. has really come into its own. There are beautiful, multi-million dollar homes. This is something people never thought would happen here. O.B. became a popular destination place. But the one thing that never changed was the whole multi-cultural heterogeneity of it. It’s just such a fun place.

I got very involved in and committed to Oak Bluffs. I loved it, being a Victorian town, by the water, was just amazing — like fantasy land.

What would you say has changed most about your business?

AS: In the 70s and 80s we would get an offer; we would do it handwritten in short form, sometime on the back of a car. Then you’d have to mail it to someone to get the seller to sign it.

I was in the middle of a million-dollar deal up in Chilmark, and I got a call from Ron Rappaport and he said, “We have something new in our office” — this was maybe ’81, ’82. He said, “We have a facsimile machine. We can get the seller’s signature from New York City…”

So I said: Can I get one of those?

All of a sudden you could make a deal in one day and get two signatures. That changed the nature of the business for me. And when computer technology came in it was a long time coming before that got really sophisticated. Now here we are in 2013, and we try to keep our office at the cutting edge of everything — brand-new state-of-the-art website. I have a computer tech who I feel like is part of my staff. Search engines, the whole thing. Marilyn [Moses, another Ocean Park realtor] is really helping with technology. We have an Internet marketer we’re working closely with.

When you go to the website you can immediately search, along with key listings, and properties we’ve sold.

Any near disasters?

AS: I think one of the worst things I ever went through: I was selling a piece of land up in Gay Head, for a local. And I knew their attorney quite well, and had done many deals with him. The person who was buying the land was from somewhere in Boston. Maybe somewhere in the North End. He was sort of a no-nonsense person. So the attorney said, “I’ll hold on to the escrow money.” I’d done many deals with the attorney and thought everything would be fine. We all went to the closing, and the attorney didn’t show up with the money. Matter of fact he didn’t show up for about a month. He is no longer an attorney….

Then the guy from North End…the buyer?

AS: He looked at us and said, “Unless something happens quick around here, you’re all going to have cement shoes.”

What did happen is the seller ended up selling him the land, but didn’t get the escrow money. The deal went through. Since it was the seller’s attorney, they said “This is your issue.” I don’t know if he ever got it. And of course the attorney…pretty much gave up his license.

Any feel-good deals?

AS: Most of them were feel-good deals. You know, I never realized I was in the real estate business for a while. I just thought I was a businessman who helped people find things. I thought of myself as a country broker…and I did very well at it. That’s why I was so taken with this community, because it was so good to me. I had a philosophy that if you treat people right, and you take care of them, you’re going to make money. You never have to worry about it. It’s always going to come.

Over the years, I became a salesman, but I became one without trying to sell things. You just listen to people. And if you listen to them long enough, their questions, they’ll take you right to the right house.

Is most of your business still in Oak Bluffs?

AS: I’d say maybe 80 percent is in O.B. I don’t take listings outside of O.B., but the rest of the agents in my office do. I stick to this town. I do everything in this town — I swim in this town, I belong to Farm Neck, I shop at Reliable. This is the only town that doesn’t have traffic, and I refuse to get stuck in that.

Your son is in the business now?

AS: Yes, he’s trying it out. He’s been very helpful to me — I have almost like an assistant; he can learn it if he wants to learn it. He can do a lot of the stuff I just don’t want to do anymore. He’s got a couple listings.

How many people do you have coming to you who know nothing about the Vineyard?

AS: We do get some good walk-ins here, but from people who know nothing about M.V., they don’t usually buy right away. You talk with them, you let them have a good time here, then you keep encouraging them, sending them things. A lot of time people like that will come back in the fall and say we like this place, we’ve given it some thought and you’ve been staying in touch with us, and they come back and they buy property.

Marilyn Moses: I sold two campground cottages like that last year. From someone just walking in. I can share this: the longest I’ve worked with one client is seven years. They said I was part of their August family vacation! They bought a nice piece of land in town and they’ll be building a beautiful five-bedroom home. The key is to keep in touch with them.

Have you sold any houses twice? What’s the record number on the same house?

AS: I’ve sold some houses three or four times. It’s funny though, I’ve sold for people who are now deceased, and I’ve sold to their children, and then to their grandchildren. Which is just amazing.

Is there something about Alan that most people don’t know?

MM: Well, he’s an MBA, but he’s an athlete — an avid boater, golfer, fisherman. He was an A-flight Club Champion at Farm Neck. He was all-state in football from New Jersey and went to BU on a football scholarship.

Ever appeared in any movies? Jaws?

AS: I was not in Jaws. I guess my thirty minutes of fame was when I had a half hour program with Bob Vila. People called me up from all over the country and said, Hey! You’re on TV!

Bob Vila was looking to do a show on Martha’s Vineyard around 1996. His production manager heard about me and called me up. We did a half-hour segment on his search for a property to purchase. We looked at several options and discussed each one during the segment, and…he bought an old house on East Chop near the tennis courts, fixed it up, and I sold it for him a couple years later. He still owns a house up Island.

Sold to any other recognizable people?

AS: Grant Hill, a basketball star. Tom Clancy. We sold him the Gloria Swanson house, over on the water.

There was a “Gloria Swanson house?”

AS: Well, Joe Kennedy was having an affair with Gloria Swanson and he bought her the house. In the 30s or 40s. It’s over on Temahigan, one of those big houses overlooking the ocean.

Did you sell Spike Lee his land?

AS: I consulted on it. He was making a private deal, so Rappaport’s office called and asked is this a fair price…

I’ve worked with Peter [Norton] over the years.

I go way back with Mrs. White who used to own Cinderella Cottage [Peter Nortons' guest house, now sold]. I used to take her fish. I used to take a lot of my clients fish.

What has guided you through 40 years of success, beyond bringing your clients bluefish?

AS: Being on a small island you get to know a lot of people and see them all of the time…real estate became a “way of life” for me…no matter what I did, recreation, socializing… I was always a real estate broker at the same time and ready to talk about property…to the point where my clients became my friends and my friends became clients…and I continue to enjoy that way of life.

Check out the new website:

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This week, in anticipation of screening the film "Afternoon Delight," MVFF interns ask probing questions of people on the street in Menemsha. — Photo courtesy of Afternoon Delight movie.

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Man on the Street series asks people probing questions about issues that are central to their movies from the Summer Film Series line up. This week they asked people if they’d ever invited anyone to their house, and lived to regret it, leading up to Wednesday and Thursday night screenings of “Afternoon Delight.” The film by director Jill Soloway follows the adventures of a woman who invites a stripper to stay in her guest room.

“Afternoon Delight” screens Wednesday, July 24 at the Chilmark Community Center at 8 pm. A discussion with Jill Soloway follows the film. On Thursday, July 25, the film screens again at the Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown, at 8 pm. For more information, visit

To see a clip of young film-goers reviewing last week’s Cinema Circus event, click here.