Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Mummy Man's Auction

The Portland Press Herald ran a story today on its front page about the auction of Terry Lewis' mammoth antique collection [Source]. Lewis, who ran Nonesuch House Antiques, became the subject of international scrutiny when he attempted to sell a mummy, advertising in such publications as Uncle Henry's.

"Lewis acquired the mummy in 1992 at a museum liquidation sale in New Hampshire. The U.S. Customs Service placed a seizure order on the mummy, which prevented Lewis from selling it. The controversy, which was reported by various news media, ended in 1997 after two Egyptologists from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston inspected the unwrapped, blackened specimen and determined that it had no cultural value to Egypt." [Source] The mummy, according to the Wiscasset Newspaper, was sold to a museum in Canada.

Lewis died in June, and now, three months later, the Cyr Auction Company in Gray, Maine, will be selling off his collection of curiosities (mummy not included), as well as his old Colonial style home in Wiscasset, Maine. The auction takes place at 10:00am on Saturday, September 30th. Click here to see the advertising flyer put together for the auction, with many color photos (a PDF).

Among items included in the sale are "a plaster head of a British soldier who was killed in India, an old dugout canoe, ship models, paintings, duck decoys, tennis rackets, snowshoes and a hand-carved World War II vintage chair." Lewis' irascible sense of humor remains in the handwritten notes attached to many of the items' tags. "Take the three-hole wooden toilet seat, for instance.
Lewis's handwritten note lists its price as $135 and says, 'Usually in crappier condition. Most rare today.'"

If there is anyone who wants to e-mail me photos from the auction, it would be most appreciated, as I am going to be stuck at work all day! Please drop me a line at michelle.souliere[at]gmail.com if you manage to snap some shots for the blog.

Duck, Duck... GONE.

The Portland Forecaster reported in its September 6th issue that the popular crowd of ducks (and the less popular but nevertheless present geese) that resides in the Evergreen Cemetery duck pond is going to be removed permanently to a farm in Biddeford this winter due to expense, leaving those of us who visit the pond regularly to make friends with the ducky dabblers in the lurch and very unhappy.

Those of you who feel similarly may want to contact the City of Portland to inform them of your opinion!
Cemetery ducks, geese going to Biddeford farm
By Kate Bucklin
PORTLAND – The Evergreen Cemetery ducks and geese will be moved permanently to a farm in Biddeford this winter.

Although the waterfowl have lived at the pond at the rear of the cemetery for more than a decade, the city decided this year it could no longer care for the 14 geese and half-dozen ducks.

The decision, according Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director Tom Civiello, was made for two reasons: The shelter the birds used in the winter is being torn down, along with the maintenance shed it is attached to; the shed will be replaced, but not the shelter. Also, the employee who took care of the waterfowl retired last year.

City Councilor Donna Carr said the ducks and geese will probably be moved in early or mid October, when the migratory fowl head out for the winter. The birds will be housed in a barn during the coldest months, and placed outside when spring comes, Carr said.

The farm is owned by Richard Lagarde, the city’s treasury director.

Although the geese and ducks will have winter shelter, at least one admirer of the animals is unhappy with the city’s decision to remove the waterfowl permanently from Evergreen.

“There must be a feasible solution to having them returned to Evergreen Cemetery in the spring,” said Annette Kearney. She said she was pleased the city had found adequate winter shelter for the birds.

Kearney said she plans to keep after the city in hope of getting the ducks and geese back to the pond during the warmer months.

Councilor Cheryl Leeman also said she did not like the idea of the waterfowl leaving the cemetery permanently.

“Why would they do that?” she said.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin[at]theforecaster.net.[Source]
The great blue heron will find himself with little company if this all goes through and the ducks are not returned in the spring. PHOTO by Michelle Souliere.
Great Blue Heron resting

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Killer Bear in New Hampshire

This happened in Milford, N. H., but there's no reason it couldn't happen here.
A teddy bear has been implicated in 2,500 deaths — trout deaths, that is.

State officials say a teddy bear that fell into a pool at a Fish and Game Department hatchery earlier this month clogged a drain. The clog blocked the flow of oxygen to the pool and suffocated the fish.

Hatcheries supervisor Robert Fawcett said the bear, dressed in yellow raincoat and hat, is believed to be the first stuffed toy to cause fatalities at the facility.
The deaths prompted Fawcett to release a written warning: "RELEASE OF ANY TEDDY BEARS into the fish hatchery water IS NOT PERMITTED." [source]

Gothic Bellydancing Classes!

If anyone is interested in learning beginning bellydance with a Goth twist, Aepril Schaile is conducting a Gothic Belly Dance class Tuesday nights from 6:00-7:00 pm at The New Church on 302 Stevens Avenue in Portland.

It's not to late to sign up! Drop-ins are welcome and cost is only 6 weeks for $60, drop-ins $12 a lesson. The classes will be held from 9/19 to 11/7 (no class 10/3 or 10/31). Wear comfortable clothes, and bring a scarf to tie around your hips!

No experience is necessary. Classes are open to ages 14+.

For more information, visit http://www.aeprilschaile.com/bellydance.htm or e-mail Aepril at aeprilschaile[at]hotmail.com

Monday, September 25, 2006

Razorville and Lobotomies

One of my friends grew up near a village called Razorville here in Maine, described by one of the state's webpages as "a village on the southwest end of Washington Pond." [Source] She told me that as a teenager she had heard in local talk that the town was named Razorville because of the large number of lobotomies performed there in its history.

I can find no mention of any historical asylum located there, but as lobotomies came into vogue in the early part of the 20th century, it does seem as though there were many "traveling" lobotomists. I suppose it might be possible that they traveled in this area.

In an odd synchronistic event, one of Maine's many modern mental health facilities, Washington Manor, is located near the village of Razorville, on the Razorville Road in Washington, Maine.

The area around Razorville in Knox County has some dramatic place names which should be noted. These include such as "Hibberts Gore" and "Deadwater Slough."

In Memoriam: Eddie Driscoll

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhile there were those of us in Maine who didn't know of him, Eddie Driscoll was an internationally-known TV personality and host who operated for many years out of Bangor, hosting shows which aired in locations elsewhere including a wide part of Canada. He passed away Saturday here in Portland.

I found out about Driscoll recently from Penny Dreadful, a Massachusetts horror host who discovered him when researching the history of horror hosts in New England for a documentary piece she is making. While Driscoll may not be considered by most to be a horror host, he was indeed of the same breed, and with glee and mischief he hosted his own strange show in Bangor on WLBZ, Weird, for many years, starting in 1954, and retiring in the late 80s.

In a WLBZ piece filmed after his death, clips are shown from several of his shows, including the intro to Weird which starts out with, "The journey you are about to take is.... WEIRD!" I only wish as a kid I had that to look forward to every weekend.
Long-time WLBZ Personality Eddie Driscoll Dies
Web Editor: Maureen O'Brien, Managing Editor
Created: 9/24/2006 9:43:01 AM
Updated: 9/24/2006 8:36:33 PMEddie Driscoll, host of the Bangor areas's first live children's program, died Saturday in Portland. He was 81 years old.
Eddie Driscoll was with WLBZ from the beginning, when the station signed on in 1954.

In his heyday in the 1960s, Driscoll hosted shows including "Weird," "Chef Eduardo," "The Great Money Movie," and "Mason Mutt." He was known for his quirky characters and offbeat skits.

Eddie Driscoll retired from television in 1986.

Driscoll had alzheimer's disease, and had been living at the Barron Center in Portland. He leaves behind his wife, Ruby, daughters Amanda and Wendy, and grandsons Tucker and Wilson.

Calling hours will be Saturday, September 30 from 12-1 at the Dolby and Dorr Funeral Chapel in Gorham. That will be followed by a celebration of Eddie's life from 1-2.
[ Source ]
More information about Eddie Driscoll can be found here, at The Genius of Eddie Driscoll, where Weird is discussed briefly:
In his books, author Stephen King mentions Eddie Driscoll and “Dialing for Dollars.” King was also a big fan of “Weird.” Late night on Saturday, Channel 2 would show some typically awful, lousy, horrible movie with live commercial breaks featuring Eddie. These breaks could be up to fifteen minutes long and were usually more entertaining than the movies. Members of the Air National Guard from nearby Dow Field joined Eddie for one “Weird” stunt. In the field behind the station, with volunteer service people, US government equipment, and fake ammo, Eddie created a live World War Two scene . Neighbors came out to see what all the commotion was about at eleven o’clock on a Saturday night. It was just Eddie Driscoll and his co-conspirators, making TV history.
Here's to the real entertainers. Here's to Eddie Driscoll, King of Weird TV.

EVENT: The Ghosts that Haunt Bath

Don't throw the ghosts out with the bathwater! Take some time to get to know them...

Thursday, October 5
GHOSTLY TOUR OF BATH

8:00-9:30pm.

Why should Charleston, Savannah, and Key West have all the fun? Now the Friends of the Library invite you on a ghostly tour of Bath's own historic district. Meet at the Gazebo and follow our docent through the streets to hear supernatural legends about our city and surrounding towns. Refreshments will be provided midway
through the walk at the Benjamin F. Packard House. Rain date is October 12th only if there is heavy rain on October 5th.

Tickets are $15 and available at Patten Free Library.

FMI (207)443-5141 ext. 16.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Honk if you like pie

Driving back from Northern Maine this past weekend, I noticed my new favorite graffiti on an underpass just before mile 296 going south out of Houlton on I-95:
honk if you like pie

We honked, of course.

[picture constitutes a dramatic visual reenactment of said graffiti]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday to Stephen King!

Press Photo © 2006 Amy Guip
Maine's own favorite son of horror, Stephen King, celebrates his birthday today. We here at Strange Maine have been enjoying his work and its offshoots for years, and we and our wide circle of friends wish him many happy returns -- and not just because we want to keep reading his new books.

It is odd for a person who has written so much about terror and dread and fear to have a name that conjures a warm feeling in the hearts of so many people I know. I think it's because he writes about people and places that feel REAL. People who exist and react within the human condition. Places that remind us of places we know, times we remember, things long gone or yet to happen.

While we know that as a celebrity Mr. King must be showered each year with myriad birthday greetings from strangers he has never met, and that the chances of him seeing our little happy wave "Hello!" from down here in Portland and other places across the state are very slim indeed, we're sending it anyways in the hope that at sometime during the day he feels an unexpected sense of happiness and joy without knowing exactly where it came from.

For those of you giddy with the prospect of more Kingly birthday fodder, please peruse the following elements of fun for your enjoyment:

  • On Amazon there is a list of "Stephen King's Birthday Books" by a Pennsylvania man by the name of Steven Cullinane.

  • Elsewhere on the web, someone has taken the time to compile a Stephen King calendar, which lists prominent dates in his stories and life. Yes, it includes his birthday!

  • The StephenKing.com message board is already awash in virtual greetings.

    This tale wouldn't be complete without a really strange element to throw into the pot -- just over a year after King's near miss with death, the driver who caused the accident died. He died on September 21st -- Stephen King's birthday. There is a great 2004 interview with King here at the Guardian in which this and other things are mentioned.
  • Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    The Body in the Woods

    At the end of August, there was an occurrence in Westbrook that I found out only through mention made of it by Mark LaFlamme, reporter for the Lewiston Sun Journal. I find this interesting, because the Portland Press Herald couldn't be bothered to report it (perhaps they just aren't into reporting any more?), and the only local coverage I could find of it was on WCSH-6 news and in a story at www.keepmecurrent.com (a pool of regional Maine newspapers) that is now unavailable except in their archive for paid subscribers.

    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like this would make a bigger splash in the local news world, as reminiscent as it is of a Stephen King story:
    Students Find Dead Body Near School in Westbrook
    School got off to a frightening start for some elementary school students in Westbrook Wednesday. They discovered a dead body.

    School officials say four 2nd-graders chased a ball from the Sacarappa School playground into some nearby woods, and found the body. They thought the person was asleep.

    They notified a teacher, who confirmed the person was dead. Police were called in, and the school immediately sought to calm the children.

    "Our job has been to make sure the children are OK with it emotionally. We called in our guidance team and a social worker has been with the children all afternoon. We called the parents and have sent letters home to all the children. The children are doing absolutely fine," said Assistant School Superintendent Jan Bretton.

    Guidance staff will also be at the school Thursday morning. Police say the death does not appear suspicious.
    [Source including video clip]
    The following day the story was followed up on in the www.keepmecurrent.com article mentioned above:
    Police identify body found near Westbrook school
    by Robert Lowell, Staff WriterAugust 31, 2006
    Police have identified the body of a man that was found at about 12:20pm August 30 in the woods behind the ball field at the Saccarappa School in Westbrook. Police say the man was John Allard, 54, of Westbrook. Police said while they don't consider Allard's death suspicious, they are awaiting the results of an autopsy before closing the investigation. Allard's next of kin have been notified, police said.
    The sermon blog of the Stevens Avenue Congregational Church here in Portland mentions John's passing, adding the detail that the spot he died on was that of the grave of his much-missed dog. He must have been very lonely without him.

    Grisly stitches

    Over on Flickr, chubfisherman has a pretty wild photo posted on his site, called 54 stitches: The Hand. Owww! ACK!!! That's what you get with a table saw accident. All kinds of fun. Stay tuned for the chainsaw accident. Ewwww!!!

    Definitely check out the rest of his photography -- lots of great shots of Maine's lakes and woods, and antics in them.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Maine's Disastrous History

    A new site called GenDisasters has a whole section devoted to natural and man-made calamities in Maine. The pickings are slim so far, but some of the disasters described I had never heard of—like the Clinton Croquet Factory Fire of April 1880, in which "Two thousand eighty two sets of croquet ready to ship were burned." Oh, the humanity!

    Hubcap Heaven, Maine

    Every time I go up north to Presque Isle to visit my in-laws, I see the alluring twinkle of Hubcap Heaven tempting me to stop and explore. Well, I finally did it. Yesterday, on our way back to Portland, Tristan and I pulled over and made a foray into this gem of a Maine roadside establishment. I even got to meet the owner, Glenn Violette. He owns Hubcap Heaven with his wife Patricia, and has been running it for a few decades now.
    come on in!
    I posted a bunch of photos from the excursion here on Flickr.com, which you may enjoy. Those of you who prefer to visit the treasure trove in real life can do so by going north on I-95 to the Houlton exit, and taking a left up U.S. Route 1. In a few minutes you will see it on your right. It's hard to miss. The yard is home to an estimated 25,000 or so new and used hubcaps of all sizes, types, and materials.


    INFO:
    Hubcap Heaven
    911 U.S. Hwy 1, Littleton, ME 04730
    http://webspace.webring.com/people/kh/hubcapheaven/
    e-mail glennpat[at]pioneercable.net
    (207)538-9053 (the Violettes prefer e-mail)

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Do Squirrels Grieve?

    Yesterday, a small squirrel (not pictured at right) was hanging around and under our front porch. Its behavior seemed a bit strange, but within the range of normal squirreliness.

    A short time ago, I discovered a second squirrel dead near the front porch. The first squirrel was sitting over the corpse, touching it gently in an apparent attempt to wake it. Whenever I approached, the critter chased me away. It even chased me onto the porch and tried climbing the screen door.

    My question: Do squirrels grieve? And, if so, how long before I can safely remove the body?

    Update (11:14 pm): An hour or so after I posted this, we managed to distract Squirrel #1 long enough to cart away the body of Squirrel #2. Not long after, our 16-pound cat faced off with Squirrel #1, and in doing so pushed the screen out of a basement window. The squirrel ran through the window into the basement, alarming my brother-in-law who was working there at the time. He shepherded the intruder toward the bulkhead, where it finally made its escape.

    The bereaved squirrel was later seen and heard on the front porch, pacing back and forth and emitting pitiful cries.

    (The photo depicts Squirrel #1 taunting our overweight cat from a maple in the front yard.)

    Update (Sunday, Sept. 16): A squirrel expert has been summoned, who assures us that Squirrel #1 is chasing us only because we look like good sources for food. Once he is captured (benignly) he will be transported and spend the rest of his childhood being pampered and handfed.

    Final update (Sunday, Sept. 16, 4:55 pm): Squirrel Lady just came and rescued the three baby squirrels we found in our yard. It turns out that Squirrel #1 was actually Squirrel #1a, 1b, and 1c—which explains why it seemed to be everywhere at once. All were about the same size, and were probably siblings about 8 weeks old. Unfortunately, with their removal, the death of their supposed mother, and the death-by-squashing last week of another squirrel at the end of our driveway, our trees are now devoid of bushy-tailed life.

    CALL FOR INFO: 1980s Kidnapper's Van

    Back in the early 80s, I can remember stories circulating among my elementary school classmates about a blue van that was rumored to be in the area. The van was reputed to be driven by someone(s) who were making various attempts to abduct local children by luring them into the van. The unease regarding this van was very palpable.

    I've been trying to sort of triangulate on the info regarding this so that I can research it in the papers, etc, because I swear I read a small "Blotter" column entry about it myself at the time. I've have gotten as far as talking to a number of family and friends who lived in Portland at the time, and they to had very vivid memories of the rumors, and agree that it was definitely in the early 1980s, probably not much later than 1983.

    While the occurrences were (at least in memory) local, it may have been related in some sociological way to a wider and weirder phenomenon that occurred in 1981, which was brought to my attention by Loren Coleman's book, Mysterious America. The phenomenon in question was that of phantom clowns (yes, you heard me right) in vans, again trying to lure children.

    The Gist of It: If you have recollections of similar experiences from the early 1980s, we here at the Strange Maine blog would very much like to hear them, whether or not you remember the exact dates, etc. Feel free to comment below, or e-mail me privately at michelle.souliere[at]gmail.com...

    Thanks!

    UPDATE:
    09/25/06
    In addition to the comments logged below, I've also heard via e-mail from a couple of other people. First, someone from Portland e-mailed that "I attended Longfellow Elementary school in Portland in the early and mid eighties. YES, we were warned about a man in a white van. He would reportedly pull up next to children walking home and try to coax them to go for a ride. Yikes! Needless to say, I wore my Zips everyday so I could race home before the white van got me. I remember my teacher's reaction being something like, 'Well, run away if you see him.' So different from today's hyper-safety-concious world."

    In addition, from elsewhere in Maine I have been e-mailed the following: "In Bath we also had the blue van scare. We were told that the people in the van would offer you candy and when you got close enough, they would abduct you. We were told to walk in groups and never talk to strangers. This all took place in the 82 to 83 time frame. Thinking back though we never had a parent come to the school to walk us home!!"

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Peyton Place (movie) = Camden, Maine

    GUEST POST by Loren Coleman

    As you may know, through my research and writings in The Copycat Effect(2004), I investigate and try to understand the links between the modeling of suicidal behavior in popular culture and media, such as in movies, and self-deaths that come later. History - in fiction and fact - based on contagion theory - appears to repeat itself.

    The suicide cluster of teenagers in the Camden-Rockport-Rockland, Maine, area, during the 1970s and 2000s, - often due to death by hanging in their closets - has been of great concern to me for several years. The high suicide rate for Camden's Knox County is likewise troubling.

    Today, I made a disturbing "coincidental" discovery regarding Peyton Place. The method and location of the suicide depicted in the movie is chilling and significant. The most graphic suicide to be included in a modern American movie up to that time occurred in Peyton Place, a film that changed the subject matter parameters of moviemaking forever. In the plot of the film, the character Nellie hangs herself in her "friend" Connie's teenager daughter Allison's closet.

    The motion picture Peyton Place (released December 13, 1957) was filmed in Camden, Maine, and the surrounding New England countryside. References to Maine, such as having the prosecutor (played by Lorne Greene) being sent from Portland, are throughout the film. (Ironically, this is a technical mistake; the prosecutor would have come from Augusta.)

    The movie was directed by Mark Robson, based on the novel of the same title written by Grace Metalious. The top-billed actors were Lana Turner ("Constance 'Connie' MacKenzie"), Lee Philips ("Michael Rossi"), Arthur Kennedy ("Lucas Cross"), Hope Lange ("Selena Cross"), Diane Varsi (Allison MacKenzie), and Betty Field ("Nellie Cross").

    Peyton Place is a story about the lives and loves of the residents of a small New England town in the years immediately preceding and following World War II. Behind the town's tranquil fa├žade hides scandal, homicide, suicide, sexual deviance, and moral hypocrisy.

    Peyton Place specifically follows the story of Allison MacKenzie, a teenager with dreams of becoming a successful novelist, and her mother Constance "Connie" MacKenzie. Connie has been harboring the secret for years that Allison was born illegitimate from an affair Connie had with a married businessman, and her greatest fear is that Allison will find out the truth about her parentage. Allison's best friend is Selena Cross, who was sexually and physically abused by her stepfather Lucas.

    Allison is attracted to Rodney Harrington, the only son of the richest man in town. However, Rodney becomes involved with "good-time girl" Betty Anderson, who becomes pregnant by him; Rodney is eventually killed in a car crash. Selena becomes involved with Ted Carter, but tragedy strikes her: she is raped multiple times by her stepfather Lucas and eventually becomes pregnant. Selena's mother, Nellie Cross, dies by suicide in Connie MacKenzie's house, and her body is discovered by Connie's daughter Allison, traumatizing her.

    Those are some of the initial events in the story, according to various summaries easily found online.

    A major box office hit, Peyton Place was the second highest grossing film of 1958.

    The "real" Peyton Place is not Camden, Maine (the filmsite) or Gilmanton, New Hampshire, where Grace Metalious lived when she wrote the novel. Peyton Place apparently, instead, is a fictional composite of the nearby towns of Laconia, New Hampshire (where Grace Metalious allegedly did most of her drinking), Belmont, Gilmanton and other nearby villages.

    Camden, Maine still celebrates its role as the location for the film. For example, the promotional material for the Blackberry Inn notes it hosted the Peyton Place cast party after the filming ended. Other locations around the town are likewise highlighted in printed and online references.

    The first Camden Film Festival appears to have developed out of the local Chamber of Commerce's interest in celebrating the links Camden has to the original Peyton Place motion picture, when they invited various stars to town. For example, during a more recent Camden Film Festival, held on May 4-7, 2000, several Peyton Place-related lectures and screenings were presented. Also an informative Peyton Place bus tour to locations used in the film was conducted.

    The Camden Area History Center has archives specifically related to Peyton Place:
    http://www.librarycamden.org/history-center/peyton-place-archives/

    The Meeker Museum has an online comparative analysis of locations from the film Peyton Place and those found in today's Camden, at Mount Battie, and at other sites:

    http://www.meekermuseum.com/ppcamden.html
    http://www.meekermuseum.com/ppmain2.html
    http://www.meekermuseum.com/pphouse.html
    http://www.meekermuseum.com/therock.html

    With respect,
    Loren Coleman

    BREAKING NEWS? Police action in Portland?

    Reports have come in from the Munjoy Hill area near Kennedy Park that there are at least 7 police cars prowling in the area, plus a black helicopter circling with someone looking out the side. Any ideas, folks?

    UPDATE:
    I just received the following information from a reader via our Google Groups postings that seems to explain a bit:
    There is a giant sign near my work that says "homeland Security Drill". I work near the Casco Bay Ferry area.

    Another Deering Oaks Anomaly!

    On my way to work this morning just after 7:00am, I spotted a white rat hopping around in the drained Deering Oaks duck pond by the stone retaining wall. His/her coat was bright and seemed to be quite clean, making the wee beastie very easy to see against the dark muck of the pond floor. I could hardly believe my eyes.

    The rat must be either a lost or released pet rat -- he was scampering around quite unconcernedly, and then eventually ran up and into some holes in the wall. I have half a mind to find a Have-a-Heart trap and "rescue" her/him, except 1) I don't know for sure if the rat is actually domesticated (and not wild), and 2) I don't have any free time until next week. S/he isn't very big.

    I hope s/he hasn't set up house below the water line in the pond, because as soon as the Risbara Brothers construction company is done putting in the new fountain, I believe they're also going to fill the pond back up and give it a grand re-opening reception.

    If anyone feels the inclination, s/he was in the little crook of the pond where State Street and Park Avenue meet, in the wall visible from the sidewalk there. The holes in the wall are plainly evident, easy to see.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Spicy variety

    Among other news of note in the September issue of Island Times is mention in the section "This island life" of the wild and wooly world of the stage on Peaks Island. For the convenience of readers, they have provided a long list of the amazing spectacles we missed and can now be jealous about:
    A daredevil tap dancer tripping around a stage loaded with live, un-bnaded, and unhappy lobsters. An 18-month-old girl baby singing an operatic aria with pacifier in place. A tight (as in looped) rope walker crossing the divide between Peaks and House Island. Teardown and rebuild of an island junker in less than 10 minutes while the performer recited "The Wreck of the Hesperus." A rapper break-dancing with a firecracker in his back pocket set to go off in five minutes. Impersonators by the carload with pretty fair copies made of Richard Nixon, Ed Sullivan, and Covey and Donny, as well as other island notables.

    There were island sound effects: howling wind, crashing surf, dog fights, cat fights, dog and cat fights, dog-owner and cat-owner fights. Worthy of the Roman Coliseum. Not a bad act in the house. One can sing the phone book on the island and recieve a standing ovation. Variety is the spice of life.
    Portland needs to get its act in gear, either that or we should start buying some ferry tickets with all the expensive dough our highfalutin "big" theatre performances here cost. Although we do have all those keen zombies and stuff...

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Millerism in Maine

    The 1840s saw some mighty strange behavior in Maine—much of it inspired by the teachings of William Miller of New York.

    Miller calculated that the Second Coming of Christ would occur on Oct. 22, 1844, prompting his multitude of followers to prepare for the end. (Miller had earlier promised that the Second Coming would occur between Mar. 21, 1843, and Mar. 21, 1844, but adjusted his calculations when the latter date came and went.) The Great Disappointment of Oct. 22 was probably felt most deeply by Millerites like these:

    A man named Spalding convinced a number of residents of Lexington, Maine, that the end was nigh.
    They have consequently neglected the cultivation of their farms the past spring, possessing provisions sufficient to carry them through the present year. [Barre (Vt.) Gazette of July 8, 1842]
    Some farmers tore down their fences for firewood, believing that they soon would be unnecessary.

    Under the heading "Millerism in Maine," the Barre Gazette of May 9, 1845, described the activities of some adherents.
    One exercise is for some of them to get on their hands and knees on the floor, while others sit astride of their backs. Washing each other's feet, kissing and embracing each other, are other forms. They have an exercise called "holy rolling," and another "slain of the Lord," when they fall upon the floor apparently helpless. In this state some of them give warnings, and relate visions, and recite doggerel rhymes.
    Frequent baptisms are observed—some at midnight and some personal. The latter has been recently performed by certain worthy and highly accomplished young women, by jumping and rolling in pools of water by the road side. Little children have been seized and carried out into the night air and plunged into a neighboring brook. Various means are resorted to for the purpose of making sacrifices. One woman took her china tea set, and broke it into small pieces.
    William B. Lapham in his History of Woodstock wrote of their "most ludicrous, not to say disgusting" behavior at meetings, at which they expressed their literal interpretation of the Biblical warning, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
    The floor was covered with straw, and upon it men and women, boys and girls would roll and tumble promiscuously, imitating, to the best of their ability, the language and acts of young children. If they were traveling upon the highway and happened to meet anyone not of their own belief, they would get down on their hands and knees and creep in the sand, imitating the sounds and motions of children who were too young to walk. Feet washing was one of the observances in the tent, the hair being used as a towel. Sometimes a person would wake up in the night, pretending to be impressed with the duty to go and wash somebody's feet in a distant part of the town, and, faithful to the impression, he would immediately go to the place indicated, call the person up, perform the ceremony and return home. One man lost a child by death, and kept the remains in the house several months, with the expectation of being able to raise it from the dead. This man became violently insane and died by his own hand, a sad commentary on the form of faith he had embraced. [p. 84]
    Many untrue stories about Millerism were undoubtedly spread by its enemies, and many cases of pure insanity blamed on it. Perhaps the most heinous crime attributed to Millerism occurred on May 11, 1848, in Edgecomb. A Mr. Pinkham, ship carpenter, decapitated his wife and four young children with an ax before taking his own life with a razor. The Miller connection was reported in the Bath Times of May 13.
    It appears that Mr. and Mrs. Pinkham had been victims of the Miller delusion; but the full force of its crushing influence upon their spirits seems not to have been suspected by others. The paper to which we have referred, an exact copy of which was seen by our informant, contained a statement in the hand writing of Mrs. P., followed by another by her husband, setting forth that they had become tired of life; that there was nothing in prospect worth living for, and that they had mutually agreed upon the destruction of themselves and their children; requesting that their bodies might be deposited in a stone tomb.

    No dancing with this clog

    The Island Times reports in the "In Brief" section of its September 2006 issue the following news from Peaks Island:
    There is an ongoing problem with the new public bathroom on Peaks Island getting clogged up, said Tom Fortier, the city's island/neighborhood administrator. The weekend of Aug. 26-27, the toilet was found clogged with rocks and seashells. "Hopefully this is not an act of sabotage, as it is just kids playing around," said Fortier. The bathroom was supposed to be fixed by Aug. 30. --David Tyler
    We here at Strange Maine maintain that seashells are better than some other things it could have been clogged by...

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Hattie Has a Patriotic Vision

    This report comes from the Daily Kennebec Journal of Apr. 17, 1918.
    Mrs. Hattie Blake of South Brooksville saw a strange sight on Friday evening about 10 o'clock, when on looking out of the window at her home she noticed the sky looked very dark in the northwest, but looking out of another window saw it was a clear, starlit sky. It struck her as very odd and she returned to the other window again, looking more intently she saw in the blackest part of the sky a sort of smoky cloud which seemed to roll away and leave clear and plain to her vision the American flag. Mrs. Blake says she doesn't know what drew her almost forcibly to the window, and being alone, the other members of her family having retired, there was no one else to witness what she had seen, the flag disappearing with a waving motion as quickly as it had come. Mrs. Blake is desirous to know if anyone else chanced to see this striking sight, which seemed to appear to her as a promise of success in our great war for humanity.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Maine monsters on the move

    The folks over at Emptyhouse Film have some big news this week:

    "Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman leads the 2006 Maine Mutant Safari, broadcast worldwide"

    By this time, we all know about the bizarre creature found in Maine. But what really happened? What kinds of unknown creatures still roam in our Maine wilderness? On Tuesday, September 19th, Motion Media and Emptyhouse Film will be taking Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman to Turner, Maine. The film companies will be documenting Coleman as he shares his side of the story, as well as looks for clues to other potential unknown animals and gives his thoughts on the creature found in the rural town.

    The story will be told in four parts in a documentary style and broadcast for the world to see on youtube.com. "We're very excited about having the opportunity to share Mr. Coleman's expertise with the rest of the world, excited to see what else might be out there" said Motion Media President Olin Smith.

    When thinking about what other animals exist in the Maine woods, the filmmakers also wondered what the public believed. "Another part of this documentary is to really find out what the public believes; we'll be surveying as many people as possible and including their responses in the film," said filmmaker Andy Davis.

    The idea for the safari stemmed from both Smith and Davis' passions for all things paranormal. The duo have been in Pre-Production on a full length feature film titled CRYPTID: The hunt for Bigfoot for five months. When news broke of the "Turner beast" they knew they had to put something together. They also knew that it couldn't be a "mutant safari" without a group of people so they invited a few friends along. News outlets will be along for the adventure, ensuring that this documentary leaves no stone unturned.

    CRYPTID's Executive Producer John Lane had this to say "The story of the Turner beast hit close to home on the film we are making. When I heard about it, I knew that this had to be part of our journey. I love that we can share the documentary immediately with people from around the world via the internet."

    Denise Poirier, the voice of MTV's animated series "Aeon Flux" is scheduled to provide the narrative voice over for the documentary.

    Each week, a new "webisode" will be uploaded to youtube.com for the public to enjoy. The first episode will be uploaded on September 25th. An extended version of the "Maine Mutant Safari" documentary will be available as a special feature on the CRYPTID: The hunt for Bigfoot DVD. Viewers who wish to see the documentary on youtube.com can search "Maine Mutant Safari" or check emptyhousefilm.com for a direct link.

    A rain date for the "Maine Mutant Safari" has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th. If this happens, the first "webisode" will be uploaded on October 2nd.

    For more information, please contact:
    Olin Smith - Producer : mmfv[at]suscom-maine.net
    Andy Davis - Writer/Director : emptyhousefilm[at]gmail.com
    Loren Coleman - Cryptozoologist: lcoleman[at]maine.rr.com

    Motion Media: www.motionmediafilmandvideo.com
    Emptyhouse Film: www.emptyhousefilm.com
    Loren Coleman: www.cryptomundo.com
    John Lane: www.lobsteroids.com

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    "Horrific" murders rock ski area

    The news has been splashed with unexpected headlines from Newry, Maine this week, after state police uncovered a trail of killings allegedly done by Christian Nielsen. Originally from Farmington, Nielsen was working as a cook at the Sudbury Inn, a prime apres ski stop in Bethel, where the popular Sunday River ski resort is located. He was renting rooms at the Black Bear Bed and Breakfast nearby, in Newry, which became the focal point for the murders.

    So far there are 4 victims (police do not anticipate finding any more), three of whom were shot and then dismembered with chainsaws, and one of whom was burned and buried after being killed. Add to that the three pet dogs he killed. Eeriest of all is the detached smile on his face caught in press photos as he was led in and out of his preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

    The killings spanned four days according to Nielsen's statement to police, starting on Friday with the murder of James Whitehurst of Arkansas, another guest at the B&B. Whitehurst, 50, was in Maine to attempt to gain custody of his two children that live here. Police believe he was killed in Upton, Maine, where Nielsen burned the corpse, dismembered it, and buried the remains in a shallow grave in the woods off of Campbell Brook Road, north of Grafton Notch State Park.

    On Sunday Nielsen killed Julie Bullard at the B&B, which she owned and had been trying to sell since February. Bullard's daughter, Selby, and her friend Cynthia Beatson were the next victims on Monday when they arrived at the B&B, worried because they hadn't been able to contact Bullard, who suffered from asthma attacks.

    One wonders how many other people might have been killed if Nielsen's father and stepmother hadn't attempted to visit him at the B&B on Monday evening, at which time they discovered a woman's body and blood outside the building. Nielsen's father, a teacher from Dixfield, alerted the authorities and told them his suspicion that it was his son that was the perpetrator. What a horrible discovery to make about your son.

    Sources tell me that not only were the people dismembered with chainsaws, but also at least one of the dogs was killed in similar fashion, first shot and then dismembered. The whole thing is very, very creepy and brutal.

    Further info:
    Article at the Boston Herald

    Courtroom photo portrait of Christian Nielsen in the Lewiston Sun Journal's article from this morning

    Christian Nielsen's disturbingly placid mugshot at the Bangor News

    Extensive discussion of elements of the case at CrimeBlog

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    The Earl of Portland

    the anointedLast week Portland bade farewell to Angus, the Earl of Portland. But before he headed south, he made sure that Maine would never be far from him by getting his chest inked with the best Maine tattoo I've seen yet.

    When asked by Strange Maine why he did it, he replied that it is because he "loves Maine so dearly," and "wanted to show the South how a grand man of Maine conducts himself."

    Huzzah for the Earl! May he fare well as he sets out far from home.

    in the flesh

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    baby, why does it have to hurt?

    One of the things that forms the dark flipside to the bright world of possibilities that attracted me to cryptozoology is human greed. While I was away from my e-mail this weekend, helping my mom move, a controversy has erupted over claims that a juvenile cryptid has been captured "deep in the north woods" of Maine and cruelly transported to New Jersey, of all places. Whether this is a hoax or not (and chances are that it is), it plays up some of the human weaknesses that have made the field of cryptozoology a less-than-friendly place, almost since the beginning.

    Please see Loren Coleman's posts on the incident for all the details:
    http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/yarwen/

    If the claim is true, then the perpetrator has no compunction against:
    1) Killing an adult cryptid for profit
    2) Keeping a juvenile cryptid captive
    3) Selling a juvenile cryptid for profit

    While it's unlikely that eBay would allow the sale of said cryptid, the cold-blooded intent of this person ensures their willingness to pursue other out-of-eyesight avenues of sale.

    To point out one of the many flags in this account that scream "HOAX!," please note that the captor states that he drove back from Maine to New Jersey with the juvenile cryptid handcuffed to the rollbar of his truck. If that didn't excite any attention on the open road, I don't know what would.

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    EVENT: Jeff Badger at Whitney TONIGHT!!!

    For those of you unfamiliar with the work of strange Maine artist Jeff Badger (a.k.a. Dr. Baron Von Banana), tonight would be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to his wild world. Part of the First Friday Artwalk tonight, his show "I Got A Right" opens at the Whitney Art Works from 5:00-8:00.

    Personal favorites of mine from the show include:
    The Wrong Coach
    Greedy, Greedy
    M.S.H.P. (Mobile Surveillance House Plant)
    Cupcake Hunt
    ...not to mention the array of surveillance sandwiches and many other goodies. Please click here to see a wide sample of the work on display!

    See you there! And so will the plant... in fact it may follow you around. (If this isn't Strange Maine, I don't know what is!)