Season of the Twitch


When the editors of New Hampshire Magazine approached me about a Halloween feature, it sounded like a cruel joke. “We want to send you to some of the state’s scariest haunted houses and see what happens.” What happens? I’ll tell you what happens. This guy is going to lose his voice screaming and have water pouring out of his eyes (his eyes, if he’s lucky). Because, like Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, “I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do. I do.”

When all of the leaves have fallen and the branches of trees look like crooked fingers ready to pluck bad little children from the path, a new kind of tourist season comes to New Hampshire. The Halloween horror experience has become an increasingly popular entertainment option. From high-end corporate terror parks to do-it-yourself haunted houses, there are plenty of options if you care to be scared...

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In 1964 we hosted the first state-run lottery at Rockingham Park in Salem, a horse race that sparked a national sensation and scandal and put us in the crosshairs of the mob, media and the church.

Just before the bell went off at Rockingham Park racetrack, Frank Malkus of Carteret, New Jersey, took out a fresh cigar, put a match to the tip and sucked life into it. Eleanor Malkus, in double pearls, held her white-gloved hand in her husband’s.

A 21-year-old co-ed, wrapped in a heavy, blue coat, peered across the track with a pair of binoculars. Carol Ann Lee of Worcester had never been to a horse race, so she brought her father, friends and kid sister. She wondered if she was about to turn a three-dollar wager into a $100,000 payoff.

The VIP section at Rockingham held about 20 people and a gaggle of reporters and photographers looking to record their every reaction.

“Well,” Malkus said, puffing the cigar. “Here it goes.”

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Brave Hurt: How NOT to Win the New Hampshire Highland Games

Ever wanted to try your hand at tossing a caber or hurling a haggis? Our man on the scene Kevin (Mac)Flynn shows how not to do it.

Scotland has contributed to world culture like no other nation. It has given civilization single malt Scotch, the Scottish terrier, Scotland Yard, double malt Scotch, Scotty from “Star Trek,” Scotch-brand magic tape and Scotch. There is also haggis and Gordon Ramsay, two things that are only really related in that fact that Scotland should apologize for both.

Annually in New Hampshire, we get to see a side of Scottish culture that goes beyond tartans and bagpipes.The New Hampshire Highland Games, a world-class level competition of Scottish “heavy athletics,” has mesmerized attendees with feats of strength, agility, brawn and utter pointlessness...

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The Coldest Cut - The John Pond Cold Case Investigation

How do you solve a 20-year-old murder mystery? And how do you bring a dead man to justice?

Act 1:

The temperature dropped after sundown and Dennis Razis pulled his jacket up around his neck to stave off the chill of the early autumn night. The crickets were quieter in September, too quiet to obscure the 11 p.m. slam of his pick-up’s door or his crunching footfalls through the graveled Salem trailer park. He’d had a bad feeling as soon as he arrived, but remembering the promise of a cheap stereo, Razis pushed it out of his head.

Razis climbed the ramp built to accommodate John Pond’s wheelchair, rapped on the door at 9 Arthur Street and waited for Pond to let him in. He heard two people murmuring inside. Razis assumed Pond would be alone. He waited, but no one came to answer his knock. He was turning on his heel when the door opened a crack. Filling the entrance was a tall, gruff man eyeballing him.

“You don’t want to see him,” the stranger said. Razis heard Pond call from the other side of a wall. “Hey buddy,” Pond urged. “Go to 48 Arthur Street! Call the police! This guy is gonna stab me!”...

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Born to be Mild

Our on-the-scene correspondent rode in to the Weirs atop a metal machine that throbbed with the power of two horses and 49 screaming CCs.

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Why would someone ride a bright red moped to Laconia Motorcycle Week?" you ask.You would not be alone. In fact, many people (police officers, outlaw bikers, mental health professionals) asked me the same thing. It's not because I had some great appreciation for Austrian motorized push-peddle transportation from the 1970s. It's because Motorcycle Week, the one-time symbol of machismo and lawlessness, is finally accessible for wussbags like me.

Since before Brando was a Wild One, Motorcycle Week has had a reputation as a Mecca of sin, of danger and of ultimate coolness. But over the years, the biker event has become more and more gentrified, with touristy commerce, well-behaved crowds and corporate sponsorship. Today there are more concealed weapons on the floor of the N.H. House of Representatives than among the thousands of leather-clad riders who descend upon the Lakes Region each June.I figured the event had finally become so pansyfied that I could do the once-unthinkable: pull into the Weirs on a 49cc bike with a 32:1 oil/fuel mixture and rumble with the big boys…

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A Look at NH's Web Weavers

Each hour spent online offers a fresh assortment of wisdom, whimsy and wonder to our twitching typing fingers. Ever wonder who’s deciding what rises to the top of the info heap? The answer may be closer than you think.

Let’s just get this out of the way. My name is Rebecca Lavoie, and I’m addicted to reddit.

You may have heard of reddit (the lowercase “r” is part of their minimal aesthetic), but if you’re like most of the people in my life, you either don’t know much about it or have been confounded by the site if you’ve ever tried to check it out.

So first, a quick explainer.

Reddit is a social media/news site on which users can post content ranging from questions and opinions to links to articles, photos, videos, music or just about anything else of interest.

...Oh, and one final thing about reddit … it’s ugly...

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Baby, I Can Wash My Car

I knew my marriage was over when I realized how dirty my car was. Cleaning the cars had always been the domain of my husband, the kind of man who makes it a weekend activity the way most of us go to the beach or brunch with friends. His car-washing kit is better stocked than a professional detailer's, and for 10 years I've enjoyed driving around in a vehicle that could be described only as much cleaner than my house.

The divorce was my idea. After years of working on our marriage despite our differences, I felt that, at 34, it was time to let go despite the awful real-estate market, my lack of current steady employment and the fact that there are certain things I have no idea how to do without my husband's help.

My husband agreed that divorce was inevitable, and we set out to make it "amicable," which we've tried our best to maintain. We are living together in our "house for sale," our last hurdle before we can break up, but we've begun building the walls between our future, separate lives...

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Call me scum

Not everyone gets my wit and charm

I am scum. A vapid, selfish, pathetic example of the feminine race. How do I know? The readers of Newsweek told me so.

My dream of becoming a writer coincided with my divorce, or possibly was born from it. When I started finding my voice in observational narratives, a writer friend suggested I submit a piece to Newsweek's 'My Turn' column, a popular feature that receives hundreds of submissions per week. If nothing else, he said, it would be a great opportunity to write using submission guidelines, a process completely foreign to me.

...When I logged on at noon, I learned more about myself than I could have possibly imagined. I am, according to all of America, 'Selfish!' 'Stupid!' 'Unappreciative!' 'Nonchalant!' And, my hands-down favorite, 'Completely worthless selfish scum.'

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Bright Idea?

Nothing says “Peace on Earth” like a giant flashing electronic sign from Target that says “Peace on Earth.” Or an inflatable Santa in a popcorn popper. Or the ghostly illuminated outlines of caribou grazing on your dead lawn. Such is the state of Christmas decorations these days, as New Hampshire homeowners are no longer satisfied with outlining the straight edges of their homes with twinkle lights so their gambrels resemble the Golden Nugget Casino. Nowadays, they must also adorn their property with animatronic blow-up characters so it looks like the Fantasmic Parade at Tokyo Disneyland.

I suppose the art of hanging Christmas lights has lost its importance, especially in my overachieving Nashua neighborhood, where it feels like a communal obligation. My yearly routine begins right after the Thanksgiving tryptophan has left my system. I grab my Rubbermaid© box filled with strings of© icicle lights and my Arrow© T50 staple gun. (The staple gun has been in the same place for the past 12 months: on top of the box.) I feel pressure to perform, because my neighbor has already beat me by covering his home with an attractive electronic net used for capturing Beluga© whales at night...

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