Thursday, August 17, 2023

Bridgewater Film Fest -- Boston Strangler

As I discuss in two earlier posts -- Bridgewater State ... What? (2009) and The Other Bridgewater State (2010) -- one of the first things I learned about our town was that it had once housed Albert DeSalvo, better known as the Boston Strangler.

So when I heard that local journalist Tiziana Dearing was going to be discussing a new film about the Boston Strangler, my first thought was to wonder whether the film would feature Bridgewater. 

The 18-minute Radio Boston segment puts the film in context, and I recommend listening to it before watching the film. As Dearing and her guests say, Boston Strangler (on Hulu) is about many things. Most important among these was the expectation that "girl" reporters in the 1960s could not and should not report on crime. A close corollary was that the press should not question the authority of the police, which of course is a big part of what a free press is for.

The film did not disappoint -- it presents a nuanced portrait of the work of the two women who investigated the story and who gave DeSalvo his nickname. Those who -- like us -- are not familiar with the story in detail will be surprised by quite a few aspects of the case.

And yes, it does mention Bridgewater. None of the filming took place in Bridgewater, but part of the story was set here. There is no shortage of old brick government buildings in Boston that could be used for the Bridgewater State Hospital fa├žade as well as the interior scenes with its most notorious inmate.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Bridgewater Film Fest: The Bridgewater Triangle on The History Channel

Local leaders always seem to get excited when cameras show up in Bridgewater (unless of course it's negative news, in which case no one wants anything to do with them). If a movie or television crew shows up to film in the area we can count on breathless local coverage giving the impression that Bridgewater is the next Hollywood. 

The almost giddy tone of a recent story in the Brockton Enterprise about The History Channel's segment on the Bridgewater Triangle is one example. Nevertheless our interest was piqued so we paid the fee to purchase the streaming episode of Beyond Skinwalker Ranch through Amazon Prime. The show itself was disappointing. We felt like we were watching middle-school kids making a film while they were camping out (except everyone involved was a grown man). While the crew does speak to some locals about the history of the area, we have no idea what their credentials are. No one from the Wampanoag tribe was interviewed about King Philips War or Puckwudgies even though both were discussed in the piece. 

The "evidence" they collect is laughable. For instance they take some footage of a flying glowing ball "It's not a plane! It's not a plane" they exclaimed over and over again. Perhaps it was a weather balloon? We don't know. They made no effort to find out. Bridgewater State University has an aviation department. If I were involved I might have asked someone there what they thought. 

The crew is also astounded that they have three different compasses pointing to three different "norths" in the Hockomock Swamp. Compasses not working properly isn't exactly proof of paranormal activity. In fact, it's pretty common especially in a place with a lot of electromagnetic activity (high electromagnetic activity is not a paranormal phenomenon either). Again, I might have taken advantage of the nearby university and spoken with someone in the geology and geography departments for further explanation.

It seemed the most extreme abuse of "evidence" collection was the fact that several pieces of  their (battery operated) equipment failed at the same time (again, in a place with a lot of electromagnetic activity) so they were unable to collect "data". They determined that this lack of data was in fact data. Holy moly.

This all made me think of the concept of "peer review". As an academic librarian I am very often asked to help someone find a peer-reviewed journal article. What they mean is a scholarly article that has been through a process in which other experts in the same field have determined that the author(s) did credible research with appropriate controls. Of course the term "peer" by itself simply means someone of your same age and/or circumstances. I sometimes tell students, for instance, that the entire University website is "peer reviewed" in the sense that the University vice-presidents all tell each other that they did a great job putting together a site that is simply a PR piece.

Likewise, the guys who made this show were simply clapping each other on the back telling themselves that they must have found something (because that's what they wanted). A healthy bit of skepticism was definitely in order. 

This was perfectly awful. For those interested in the Bridgewater Triangle we recommend the 2013 Bridgewater Triangle documentary

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Cape Cod (the book) by Henry David Thoreau

We have a lot of bookshelves, each with many books. Some of these books we have both read (or read together), some only one of us has read, others have yet to be read by either of us. Thoreau's Cape Cod now is officially in the category of read by both of us. James says he read it some (perhaps ten) years ago. Pam has only just finished it. By way of a bonus for this Bridgewater couple, the book mentions our own town - twice!

Thoreau and his companion stop in Bridgewater overnight on their way to the Cape. He mentions "picking up a few arrow-heads there". The only arrow head I ever found was also in Bridgewater - it was left in the basement of our home by the previous owners.

Thoreau meets and talks to a lot of locals as he walks through the Cape. Fishermen, in particular, and not surprisingly, are mentioned frequently. 

I have heard of a minister who had been a fisherman, being settled in Bridgewater for as long a time as he could tell a cod from a haddock.

For those inclined to read this work it is available for free from Project Gutenberg 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Bridgewater Film Fest - Holly & Ivy


This tear-jerker features the fictitious Bridgewater Public Library in the real town of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. A typical Hallmark Christmas movie with the usual hard-to-believe deadlines and plot points. Also, everyone is good looking. Read more about this on the Library Books blog.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bridgewater Film Fest - Looking for (Christmas) Love in Bridgewater, NH - Single All the Way

It's that time of year again! Watching funny and/or sappy Christmas movies may be the best thing about the season. I'm not averse to a formulaic Christmas love story, but a twist on the genre does keep me more interested. And I have been known to abort if I haven't been engaged within the first half hour. I expected that Single All the Way (now available on Netflix) would simply be another film of the let's-pretend-you're-my-boyfriend-for-my-family trope (albeit with a gay spin). There was a little twist on the twist though which I will not spoil. However, what really kept me watching was that within the first 10 minutes I learned that the would-be lovers were traveling to Bridgewater, New Hampshire for the holidays (although the movie was actually filmed in Quebec, Canada). 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Bridgwater/Bridgewater Connections

One of the early posts on this blog related to this letter "To the inhabitants of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, New England, America from the residents of Bridgewater, Somersetshire, England" regarding the abolition of slavery.

Recently, these two Bridgewaters once again came together in a joint Black Lives Matter protest
The event was covered by the Bridgwater (no "e") Westover Web

I often see things that indicate that Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery in the United States, but rarely is it mentioned that it was the first state to legalize it as well. More information about the history of slavery in the Bay State can be found here.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Bridgewater Canal

Image: The Bridgewater Canal
Both of us have been spending part of our home-bound time in 2020 both teaching online and learning online. In addition to some DuoLingo lessons in French, I am taking an edX course on the development of cities, from Harvard of all places.

In yesterday's lesson, I was pleasantly surprised to find a new Bridgewater! See what economist Ed Glaeser has to say about the geographic importance of Lord Bridgewater's ambitious project that ultimately made the inland city of Manchester a major port and a hub of the Industrial Revolution.

We are indeed fortunate that the canal is still maintained, more for recreation than for industry these days, by a consortium of private and public entities operating simply as Bridgewater Canal. The organization is in the process of restoring access to the entire length of the original towpaths. This kind of connectivity project is similar to the Nunckatessett Greenway project I am working on in the three Bridgewaters of Massachusetts and to trail-development projects over greater distances that I have been covering in my Land Protection and Advanced Global Thinking classes.

We very much look forward to visiting when we attend a Covid-postponed wedding in the UK next year. We have added the canal to our Bridgewaters Project map, of course. The snapshot below shows the canal, nearby Bridgewater Hall and the oddly spelled original town of Bridgwater. Look for more about all of these when we make the journey next year.

Sorry, not clickable. Detail from our
Bridgewater Project map