The Outsidah- “You Bug Me” from Doug Brendel

“The Outsidah”

You Bug Me
Doug Brendel

The Thursday evening Castle Hill Concerts at the Crane Estate in Ipswich are a very big deal, attended by thousands every summer, and I was hugely honored that The Trustees, who operate the Estate, invited me to emcee this year.
But I’m not really an outdoorsy person. I’m known as the “Outsidah” but that’s about being a newcomer to New England, not about hiking Bradley Palmer or kayaking on Hood Pond or even sitting around a campfire. I grew up in the Chicago area, where people stay in buildings. As far as I can tell, humans are meant to exist indoors, where they can keep an eye on their cats.
Emceeing the Castle Hill Concerts puts me at risk of encountering insects in their natural habitat, where they have the advantage. Mosquitos owned the Crane Estate first, and as far as they’re concerned, they still do. The idea of fabulous concerts on the Grand Allée is offensive to them. But they are an enterprising species. They make the best of a bad situation by feasting on the blood of the concertgoers. When life gives you humans, make humanade.
For many, mosquito bites are simply an annoyance, but in my case, they’re something closer to a crisis. My skin has a wretched allergic reaction to mosquito spit. Other folks get a little pink bump and a few minutes of itching. I get a major red welt, big enough to be seen from New Hampshire, then a week or two of burning itching, during which time my skin — eh, never mind. It’s too gross.
Bottom line, mosquitoes for me are agents of torturous evil. So in preparation for emceeing the first concert of the summer, I sprayed myself with DEET. Many insect repellants proudly advertise that they’re DEET-free. I, on the other hand, search for maximum DEET content. You’re not supposed to be able to buy anything that’s more than 30% DEET, but if I could get it pure and unadulterated, I’d buy it by the gallon.
Even DEET, however, doesn’t deter greenheads. The greenhead is the official Town Insect of Ipswich. Or if it isn’t, it should be. This vicious variety of horsefly is going after the same blood as a mosquito, but forget that tiny needle-nose strategy. The greenhead chomps its way in. I believe a greenhead thrills to the sound of human screaming.
My first night as emcee occurred at the height of greenhead season, between the two full moons of midsummer. So I headed over to Conley’s, the iconic Ipswich drugstore, and stocked up on the only truly effective greenhead repellant, an Avon product called Skin So Soft. The name tells you it wasn’t originally invented as armor, but someone somehow discovered that this smooth, soft oil makes greenheads gag. Conley’s offers you a free spray nozzle so you can turn your bottle of Skin So Soft into a gun. I would have preferred a showerhead, but I took the nozzle and doused myself. By the time the concert began, I was encased in a two-layered oil slick of DEET and Skin So Soft — still nervous about invading the insects’ environs, but determined to do my emcee duty.
Of course, if you miss even one little spot, the bugs will find it. I had stopped short of spraying myself directly in the face with these poisons, and before the concert was halfway over, I had a massive glowing red bug bite in the middle of my forehead. At one point I went up to the roof of the Great House, and a passing jetliner changed course.
At home afterward, I was eager to de-slime myself. But in the shower I discovered, to my dismay, that the combination of DEET and Skin So Soft forms a compound impervious to soap and water. I recommend a paint scraper or, if that doesn’t work, a blowtorch.
See you Thursday night at Castle Hill. I’ll be the guy whose sunglasses keep sliding off because his face is so slippery.

Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road, about as far from greenhead territory as you can get and still be in Ipswich. Follow him at

Behind the scenes- This week’s podcast setup and the gear being used to make it happen.


Here’s the gear I use to produce the show with links to read about what each one does and their reviews

  1. Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini HDMI Live Stream Switcher with HDA-106 HDMI Cable 6’& Fastener Straps (10-Pack) Bundle Allows for multiple camera and mic inputs exporting a single signal for the livestream
  2. Movo VXR10-PRO External Video Microphone for Camera with Rycote Lyre Shock Mount – Compact Shotgun Mic and Accessories Compatible with Smartphones and DSLR Cameras – Battery-Free DSLR Microphone Two mics that input directly into the ATEM Mini and are perfect for interviews because they cancel out background noise and pick up what’s right in front of them.
  3. Neewer Portable Desktop Mini Tripod – Aluminum Alloy 20 inches/ 50 centimeters with 360 Degree Ball Head, 1/4 inch Quick Shoe Plate for DSLR Camera Video Camcorder, Load up to 11 pounds/5 kilograms These tripods are built like lightweight sturdy tanks, easy to pack in the camera bag, easy to set up and the ball head and rotating action is like butter. great photography investments.
  4. Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video These Sony cameras with HDMI out are small powerhouses. The kit lens that comes with it is adequate but to take it to the the next level see 5
  5. Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Sony E This 16 mm wide angle 1.4 aperture lens makes the video look so damn sexy. It is the best money you can spend for the output, dare I say I’d rather have this lens on a 5 year old Sony e-mount camera than the latest Sony e mount camera with the kit lens.
  6. Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable Bi-Color 480 LED Video Light and Stand Lighting Kit Includes: 3200-5600K CRI 96+ LED Panel with U Bracket, 75 inches Light Stand for YouTube Studio Photography, Video Shooting Light, light, light! The better your lighting the easier it is for your camera to lock on focus and give crisp images. These Neewer lights run off battery or plug in power. They are lightweight and do the job.
  7. EVO Gimbals GS-Flex Mini Flexible Leg Tripod for DSLR or Mirrorless Cameras up to 3Kg – Includes Rugged CNC Aluminum 360 Ball Head with EVO Gimbal I couldn’t find the link to the mini flexible tripod heads I use as mic stands but the one listed here would be a great one to stabilize the camera mics.

Producing this:

KT Morse Oil Painting Demo at NSAA this Thursday

NSAA Artist Demonstration: KT Morse
Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 6 PM

11 Pirate’s Lane, Gloucester, MA 01930
Open and free to the public

KT Morse, “Heading South,” oil, 20 x 30, $3,800 

North Shore Arts Association (NSAA) is excited to collaborate with the Rocky Neck Cultural District Partners to celebrate art on Cape Ann every Thursday night in July and August for the Cultural Splash between 4 – 8 PM. During Thursday’s extended hours come experience free artist demonstrations starting at 6 PM by extremely talented, well-known artists.  

We are excited to welcome NSAA’s award winning artist KT Morse, who is giving an oil painting demo on Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 6 PM. Her paintings reflect strong value and color. She is a master of skies and clouds and has become known for her large skyscapes. Her love of painting plein air continues as she has been selected to participate in many nationally juried events. 

KT has been painting primarily in oils for the past eight years and has been accepted as an artist member at the Rockport Art Association, North Shore Art Association, the Hudson Valley Art Association, Lyme Art Association, and the National Association of Women Artists. To see more of her work please go to KT Morse Fine Art

North Shore Arts Association is located at 11 Pirate’s Lane, Gloucester, MA 01930. For more information about events please call (978) 283-1857 or email Visiting hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM and Sundays 12 – 4 PM.  

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Rockport Art Association & Museum

Saturday, July 24, at 2PM will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Rockport Art Association & Museum.  We will be honoring this 100th anniversary with a public observance on our front lawn that shall include the depositing of a time capsule, live music by The Jazz Imposters, and the release of Legacy & Future: The Story of RAA&M, our just-published 100th anniversary book!!! 

Copies of Legacy & Future will be available for sale, music will fill the air, and merriment shall abound!  ALL are invited to come on down, so drop on in and become a part of RAA&M history!  The scroll will be available for signing starting at 1PM, and the event itself begins at 2PM.  We earnestly hope to see you there!

Margarita Mondays Are Back!

I recently returned to our tradition of seeking out places to enjoy margaritas on Mondays so I can revive my personal Margarita Monday posts. Where better to start than Jalapenos on Main Street? Frozen raspberry is my favorite one there. We also had dinner! Always delicious and friendly at Jalapenos. Where to today? Where’s your favorite?