Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Zombies Ahoy!

As if I didn't have enough stuff to post already today, Chris Wallace finally put up her zombie casting call photos from Emptyhouse Films' new zombie movie, "2".

Click here to see 'em all!

A few of my favorites:
No.2 -- With a moustache!
No.30 -- Do not make the zombies angry!
No. 57 -- It'll cost you an arm and a leg.
No. 72 -- If you're going to be killed by a zombie, it might as well be an impressive zombie! Ouch!
No. 81 -- I heard cleaning your ears was bad for you, but this is ridiculous...

Damariscove Headless Wonder

Thanks to Tracy on the Haunted Maine mailing list for catching this neat item! The Boothbay Register recently printed an article about the "Damariscove Remembered" event. Around 150 people met to tell their stories about Damariscove Island the other weekend. The island was home to one of the earliest American colonies (1605).

One of the stories shared was about the island's legendary headless ghost.
Nobody in Saturday's audience said they had actually seen the headless ghost, but plenty of people referred to the "spookiness" felt at night when overnight camping was still allowed.

June Peabody Elderkin, who grew up on the island while her father served in the Coast Guard, said her dad always called Damariscove "the spookiest place."

According to legend, the ghost is that of Richard Pattishall, owner of the island in the late 1600s, who was beheaded by Indians and thrown, with his dog, into the water, their bodies washing up on Damariscove. Through the years some have said they could hear the dog barking.
There is a beautiful reproduction of an original article about Damariscove from The New England Magazine's September 1874 issue on Cornell University's site. Be sure to look at the illustrations!

Specter Moose Walks Again

Loren Coleman has been hard at work, and in his rounds he has picked up a new gig-- he's going to be writing a regular column for the TAPS Paramagazine. Those of you familiar with the Ghost Hunters series that features TAPS on the Scifi Network with know how exciting this is!

Loren is kicking off his column with a nod to his home state, Maine:
In the January 2007 issue, I write of my investigations of the historical and recent sightings of Maine’s “Mystery Moose,” gigantic reported examples of Alces alces, which look like the animals we call “moose” in Maine. (Of course, for my international readers, it should be noted that the known species are termed “elk” in Europe as well as in almost every other location other than North America and New Zealand.) The cryptid moose of Maine have come down through the decades in the shadowy folklore of the “Specter Moose,” which Michelle Souliere of Strange Maine has highlighted in recent years.
Yippee! Click here to read the rest of Loren's post about this new venture.

If you missed my original post about the moose, you can still read it here.

Maine has its own members of the TAPS Network: North East Paranormal Society, and Maine Paranormal Research Association, now defunct but during its tenure a longstanding group with a great reputation (see interview with founder Bill Washell here). The Central Maine Paranormal Investigations group appears to have taken over from MPRA. Their website is being updated and not all of its links are working yet.

Naked as a Jay Bird... in JANUARY?!

Yep. Maine nudists don't let the cold weather stop them. Back several months ago, we posted about Maine nudist pursuits, but this group has had a great idea for winter fun.
'Bare Nekkid Mainers' enjoy bowling in the raw
January 30, 2007
Bangor Daily News,

OLD TOWN, Maine --When members of the Bare Nekkid Mainers rent the Old Town Bowling Center, all they really need are the shoes.

"Hey, you can't go skinny-dipping at this time of year," Hessa, who organizes the gatherings and wanted to be identified only by her first name, told the Bangor Daily News.

Self-described naturist nudists, the Bare Nekkid Mainers belong to an international organization and participate in nudist events throughout the year.

The group used to bowl in Albion, but their venue there closed.

During the three events held at the Old Town center since September, the one-story building was closed with its windows and doors covered. Signs announced that a private party was in progress.

"I have absolutely no problem with it, and I hope nobody else does," Charles "Chip" Carson, the center's owner, said Monday. "They just happen to like having a good time without their clothes on."

Still, on one occasion earlier this month, a man apparently ignored the signs and entered the center with his 8-year-old son.

"I tried to stop him," Hessa said Monday. "He walked through two doors that were covered in paper and had signs."

He apparently saw a nude male playing pool and went to police.

"One of our officers went over there to check," Old Town police Capt. Kyle Smart said Monday.

Police found no violations, and after checking with the city attorney and municipal officials, concluded there has been no wrongdoing.

"We're not doing anything sexually explicit, and we're not out there doing it on Main Street," Hessa said.

About 60 households belong to Bare Nekkid Mainers, and several dozen people have participated in each bowling event in Old Town, the newspaper said.

Carson turns the thermostat up to make his patrons more comfortable and says the events are handled like any private

"Everybody's laughed at it, to be honest with you," he said.
Maine nudists have had a devil of the time when they butt up against the general populace, particularly in Maine's larger towns. [WARNING: Do not click on link if you are offended by images of the nude human body] reports on a 2001 incident in which two Maine women were arrested and then acquitted:
Kathryn Mann and Debra Ballou were arrested in Orono, Maine on November 2, 2001 for merely going jogging. They were arrested and they went to the police station for the usual humiliating routine. They were acquitted in court on January 30, 2002. [source: Paul Rapoport]

"I think everyone should be able to run around naked. I don't think I did anything wrong". (quote from Deb Ballou appeared in Going Natural, Volume 17, Number 1)
Photo: Mike Ritcheson, a truck driver from Southern Maine, bowls at a Bare Nekkid Mainers event at the Old Town Bowling Center in September. (Photo courtesy of Bare Nekkid Mainers and Bangor Daily News)

Brunswick Bigfoot (Smallfooted Variety)

The BFRO (Bigfoot Research Organization) site has a particularly enjoyable post on a mystery simian seen in Maine during the seventies. I remember the first time I read this, I had to giggle, especially when one of the young witnesses says, "I fell right down in front of him and all he did was look at me. I would have known if it were a hippie or something. But it had a regular monkey face. You have seen a monkey before, haven't you?"

Darn hippies.

At any rate, the sighting report is actually a list of consecutive sightings of the creature, all near the Brunswick/Durham area in Maine, during the summer of 1973. Most of the sightings centered around the Jones Cemetery. Witnesses include a variety of people, ranging from age 10 up well into the adult register.

The repetitive nature of the sightings provoked a full scale days-long manhunt, including helicopter scans, and resulted in a cast of a 5-inch or so footprint, which Androscoggin Deputy Sheriff Footman commented on thusly: "Whatever made it weighs 300 or 350 pounds and I can't tell you much more. It's definitely not a bear track. I don't know what's going on here and I'd rather not express an opinion."

Thanks to Nicole Duennebier for reminding me about this fantastic report, and to Loren Coleman for originally posting it on the site back in 1998.

Illustration by yours truly.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chadbourne: Maine Is the Transylvania of America

Monday's Lewiston Sun Journal had an interview with artist Glenn Chadbourne about his murals in Lewiston (here's one) and collaborations with Stephen King.
Has horror always been your thing?
Horror has been my thing since I was a carpet crawler. I've grown up on a steady diet of EC comics (reads like "Tales from the Crypt") and the old Warren magazines (reads like "Vampirella.") It probably makes me a sick bird.
I'm curious how much Maine has influenced your art.
Again, these stories are like old friends - you know, the horror stuff. I don't know if anybody's ever coined this phrase, but, because we do have Steve, I have always sort of considered Maine (as) ... the Transylvania of America.

Do you notice any theme among your fans; you must have a lot of teenage boys as fans?
You know, you'd think so. You would stereotype (his fans) as young sort of gorehound boys who like to go to the splatter movies. Not so, not so. I get a lot of women my age, housewives. I've had people on their walkers in their 80s come up to me. It's a guilty pleasure to a lot of people. There's a certain level of horror snobbery in my mind in the literary world. A lot of people won't admit to truly liking this stuff. Believe me, they do. [Source]

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Grisly Discovery" in Lyman

What would I do without the New England Anomaly? Especially now that I'm not in front of a computer all day, things like this escape me. But they do not escape the keen eye of the deadly duo of Cranky Yankee and Amos Quito!
Man Accidentally Digs Up 1812 Soldier's Body
Family To Rebury Remains
POSTED: 11:38 am EST January 29, 2007

LYMAN, Maine -- A man who was digging with a backhoe on his property in southern Maine unearthed a War of 1812 soldier's family plot.

"Somehow or another I wound up with a body. It was quite a shock," said Roland Nadeau, who made the grisly discovery last summer.

Nadeau's wife, Pauline, said the family had owned the York County property for 10 years. They had heard rumors that a soldier's grave was in the area, but no one knew exactly where it was or what war he had fought in.

Nadeau's backhoe found the site when it pulled up what turned out to be a man's leg bone.

The Nadeaus notified the local police, who in turn called Maine State Police and the Medical Examiner's Office.

They excavated the rest of the body and found an oval medallion in mint condition, about 3 by 6 inches, inscribed with the name Charles Kimball and his birth date. A few days later, another body turned up, along with part of a casket and some lead lining.

The Medical Examiner's Office returned and removed the additional remains, covered the area with a tarp and some soil and told Nadeau to stop digging.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.
The rest of the story can be found here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

An Ignominious Burial in Brunswick

From the History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine:
Some time, probably between 1752 and 1770, one Ann Conner committed suicide by hanging herself from a pine-tree. The magistrate ordered (old Roman law) that she be buried where four roads met, and a stake be driven through her body. It was done on the Harpswell road a little way south of the college. It is said that, although it was in force at that time, this was probably the only instance when the law was put into execution in this country. [Source]
In legal terms, this was called an "ignominious burial." Later in the same book, we learn of a possible motive for Ann's rash action:
[1764.] This year an individual who desired baptism for his two children was obliged to make a public confession of his criminal intimacy with Ann Conner, who subsequently committed suicide. [Source]

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Hampshire "Death Car" Sold

Well, okay, every now and then our neighbors over in New Hampshire get weird too. Thanks as usual to Cranky Yankee over at the New England Anomaly's mailing list for catching this juicy tidbit:
Infamous Nashua Death Car sold for $165,000
January 26, 2007
The Telegraph,

NASHUA, N.H. --A 1959 Cadillac known in Nashua (New Hampshire) as the Death Car was a big draw at an auto auction this month.

The car, which experts say is the lowest-mileage '59 Cadillac in the world, sold for 165 thousand dollars at last week's Barrett-Jackson Auction Companys car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The winning bidder was a collector from Newport Beach, California.

The blue and white Caddy made news in 1959 when it was found in a parking lot, with the murdered body of its owner, Maurice Gagnon, inside. The car was parked in a police impound garage for nearly 15 years before being released to Gagnon's family.

The family sold it to John Pfanstiehl of Florida a decade later, and he sold it last week. He had kept the Caddy in an
environmentally controlled garage in Florida.

Pfanstiehl said people were fascinated by the car's history, and also because of its low mileage -- 22 hundred 24 miles.
There is an interesting entry about the car at, with extensive information and photos from newspapers at the time of the murder trial, as well as a photo of the car in its restored state.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brain Harvesting Okay in Maine

I didn't stop to read what this article was about, but I did like the headline. This could open the way for Maine to become the brain harvesting capital of the world!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Green Burial Getting Closer

It's been almost a year since my original post on the potential placement of a "green" burial ground here in Maine. I thought I'd e-mail Ernie Marriner, of the Funeral Consumer Alliance, who was one of the people working on the project, and find out what progress, if any, had been made towards it.

The news is good, and progress is being made, slowly but surely. The current step is working with the Orrington Planning Board to hold a "Pre-Application Conference" for the project at their January 2007 meeting. According to Mr. Marriner, if that goes well, the next step is to submit a formal application for Site Plan Approval in February or March.

Myriad other tasks must also be gotten under way, from completion of soil testing, to surveying, to navigation and execution of a complex pile of legal documents. In closing, Mr. Marriner stated, "An optimistic opening date for the cemetery is July, 2007." Sounds pretty exciting, all 'round. As one of the greenest states around, Maine could sure use a green burial ground for itself.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Deadly Mist...

Thanks to the New England Anomaly's mailing list for the tipoff about the lastest film to emerge from the crucible of Stephen King's short fiction. This time it's The Mist, found in the book Skeleton Crew . The film is being put together in partnership with Darkwood Productions. Sounds very exciting, all except the part about them NOT FILMING IN MAINE.
Horror movie based on King story to be made in Shreveport
January 18, 2007

SHREVEPORT, La. --A horror movie based on a Stephen King short story will begin shooting in Shreveport late next month.

"The Mist" will be directed by Frank Darabont for Dimension Films, a motion picture unit of The Weinstein Co.

The plans for the movie were confirmed by a company spokesman and are noted on King's Web site.

Kings novella is about a town in Maine that gets enveloped by a supernatural mist. Mysterious creatures of the mist begin attacking humans. A small group of people get trapped in a supermarket and fight to defend themselves and their sanity.

Darabont himself was so excited that he released a statement, which was allegedly set to run in Variety magazine. It gives us a little history of the collaboration, which has apparently been in the works for a couple of decades now.
Doing THE MIST is a delight for me on a number of levels. For starters, I've always loved horror as a genre. Not so much the slasher thing, that got tired very quickly in my view, but from my earliest recollection I grew up loving movies that sought to scare the crap out of me, starting with the classic Universal monsters. Well, of course, that love of the genre is what led me to Stephen King's works in the first place, isn't it? So it's time to repay that debt and try to scare the crap out of an audience myself. With Steve's great story, and a little luck, I'm hoping to do just that.

Another reason is, it's a project Stephen King and I have been talking about doing for almost twenty years now, since I first got to know and become friends with the man. In fact, it almost was my first directing project many years ago, but I went classy and did THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION instead. But THE MIST never went away; it's been lurking out there calling my name for a long, long time...and it's time to answer the call; it's time to get down and dirty and make a nasty little character-driven gut-punch horror movie. [...] In a very real sense, I have to thank Danny Boyle, a man I've never met, but whose example in making 28 DAYS LATER really encouraged me. I saw that film, loved it, and thought: Well, why the hell not? Why not go make your scary little movie, shoot it fast, have some fun?
I can always go back to being the elegant guy later.
For more on the story of the production, you may want to also check out an excerpt from a 2004 Fangoria article written when Darabont was typing away at the script.

I wish they would re-release the textbased videogame version of The Mist for Mac...

Hiram Haunted Road Legend

I was in the Strange Maine store the other day, interviewing Brendan Evans, the owner, for Angioplasty Media's upcoming re-launch, when a very pleasant older man came up to the counter. He was very happy to have found yet another classic horror film on Brendan's shelves, and proceeded to tell us a rural legend from his younger days.

He told us about a road that runs between Hiram and Cornish, Maine, that is partially unpaved, near the old Durgintown area. He swore that the locals from either town avoid that road when they are alone late at night. He claimed it ran through a bog, and that strange things would happen on the road from time to time, including the sensation that something was holding down the back of your car as you drove along in the dark, and that you were not alone.

Two of his younger coworkers had taken him up on his stories and had driven down the road very late one night (or early in the morning, as I believe it was after midnight). They thought they saw something in the bog coming out at them, and took off without a second look, terrified.

Heck, sounds good to me!!!

Anyone else out there with any information about this location?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Legally Adopting Your Lover

Girl loves girl. Girl adopts girl legally. What?!

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported last week on perhaps the strangest case of adoption since Woody Allen's ill-fated romance with his adopted daughter. However, the reasoning behind this episode is more practical, and deals with an issue that all too many people are struggling with these days: how do you establish financial security for your non-traditional partner? Click here to read the full article.
Adult adoption raises complex issues

Monday, January 15, 2007
PORTLAND (AP) - A legal case in which the daughter of an IBM executive who built the company into a computer giant adopted her same-sex partner to ensure her financial security is playing out in a complex legal dispute that is taking place in Maine courtrooms.

Olive F. Watson legally adopted her longtime partner, Patricia A. Spado, in 1991 in probate court in Rockland. Watson is the daughter of the late Thomas J. Watson Jr., who was the CEO of IBM from 1956 to 1971.

At stake is a multimillion-dollar trust fund, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported. At the same time, the case raises questions about whether same-sex couples can use Maine's adoption laws to establish legal rights, including inheritance, denied them because they can't marry.

The relationship between Spado and Watson ended in 1992, and their adoption resurfaced in Maine in 2005 when a lawyer for the Watson family trust filed a motion to annul the adoption. A judge granted the motion on a technicality.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court last week overturned the ruling and sent the case back to Probate Judge Carol Emery with instructions to judge the case on its merits.

The dispute is scheduled for a pretrial conference in Knox County Probate Court on Feb. 7. Another dispute is pending in a court in Connecticut, where Thomas Watson died in 1993.

Adult adoption is legal but rare in Maine. It sometimes occurs when an adult child wants to take the name and formalize a bond with a stepparent who raised him, or to create a path for inheritance between unrelated people.

That was apparently the case when Olive Watson legally adopted Spado 16 years ago. At the time, they were in their 40s and had been together for 14 years.

Plane Crashes That Never Happened

Peter Noddin wrote in the June 2000 Dirigo Flyer about several "phantom plane crashes" in Maine. In each case eyewitnesses swore that they had seen a plane in distress, but in each case they were proven wrong.

Take the case where 12 people in the Dexter/Dover-Foxcroft area saw a B-17 bomber go down in 1942.
One witness actually saw it fly into one of the ridges, but saw no fire or smoke.

Sheriff's Deputies and State Police responded to the telephone reports of the crash. Local men hiked into the woods to search the area. Dow field rolled a “crash wagon” and detachment of men as well as an aircraft to search the area.

By 4 PM the search was called off. No sign of a crash could be found. No New England base was missing a bomber. At least one witness remained firm in his belief that the plane had crashed and would be found. While a Bangor Daily News reporter phoned in his story that evening, the witness repeatedly cut in on the rural party line to “correct” the assertion that it had only been a crash scare. [Source]

Friday, January 19, 2007

Monsters Make Friends

Loren Coleman noticed an interesting Strange Maine moment on the Lewiston Sun Journal's homepage. Click here to read the full post on Coleman's Cryptomundo website.

The Sun Journal has posted a list (figured logically this time by the number of viewings on their webpage) of their
Top Ten Stories of 2006...
#1 Mysterious beast
#2 Flying object spooks man
#3 Why are sex words our worst swearwords?
#4 Nude teens test Vt. limits
#5 "Like horns of a devil"
#6 Infant left inside car; 2 charged
#7 'Sorry... my baby needs diapers'
#8 City man slain; son charged
#9 Verdict: It's a dog
#10 Car crash kills teen

Please notice, as Coleman points out on his site, that three of the articles listed are about the Mystery Beast of Turner, Maine, and two of the others are also by reporter Mark LaFlamme, who Chris Dunham posted about here just last week. Seems like LaFlamme is just a Strange Maine sort of guy!

Since we're having a LaFlamme lovefest, please let me add that I am very happy to now own my own copy of his book, "The Pink Room," which I picked up at Borders in South Portland (an autographed copy, no less). Portland's public library didn't have a copy back when I first heard about it last year, so to read it I had to get a copy via interlibrary loan. I liked it so much I'm adding it to my permanent library! Creepy and well-written, with dialogue that works naturally with the characters. I hate to compare LaFlamme with Stephen King, because no doubt everyone and their brother does, both of them being from Maine. However, it must be said: Like Stephen King, Mark LaFlamme is a devoted student of the human condition. It shows in his writing.

Honest. Gripping. Intriguing.

And did I mention CREEPY? Good stuff.

Photo: Mark LaFlamme scares himself with the help of a Haunted Forest (VT) actress. More photos on Flickr! WARNING: Graphic content.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Zombies...Coming This Way!!

Day 6 - Those horrible creatures are still outside. They seem to have an uncanny ability to slip out of sight and attack when you least expect it. While their brains appear not to function, they have come up with a clever plan to commit their carnage.
First, a few of the least threatening mill around a table with some hot steamy coffee, while one of them feigns friendliness to the unsuspecting humans. Can't you just hear her saying, "Hey for some freshly made coffee? Sure is cold out today, brrr."

Then when your guard is down due to your craving for a warm beverage, the zombie horde springs - like they do- from around the corner, and clomps terrifyingly towards you. You, who is torn between drinking your coffee like a fool, or escaping the blood thirsty undead.

Unfortunately in the time it takes to think, "hot coffee, or torn apart limb by limb by zombies death...gadzooks!", it's too late. Here a teenager has been swept into the raging zombie cauldron of death, never to be seen again. Oh the horror.....

If anyone was in Biddeford on Saturday, they might have seen many strange looking creatures walking the streets. Or perhaps they are so nonchalant, that they wouldn't even notice someone covered in blood standing in front of them, such as our coffee drinking zombie who reported no reaction from the person taking her toll on the highway,and the clerks and customers in her local convenience store.

Filmmakers Andy Davis and Olin Smith held an open casting call for zombies, which yielded over one hundred zombie hopefuls. People did their best to appear undead, from having elaborate makeup to simple dark smudges around the eyes. Some even showed up with no makeup whatsoever.

I was the official zombie photo- grapher for the day, which meant I got to see every single zombie. My job was to get a head shot of each one. Thankfully I'm not insane and I used my camera, not a rifle. I enjoyed taking everyone's photos, especially the ones who went all out to do their best zombie pose.

After having their photo taken, the zombies were interviewed by Andy and Olin. After a short interview, they were asked to do their best zombie impression, which involved walking towards the camera and making zombie sounds. Some of the sounds coming out of that room were scary, and one was a shrill noise that would put the fear of god into dogs.

The day ended with Andy filming all the zombies that were still outside. Twice they stumbled down the road towards the camera (first slow and then fast). Then they milled around aimlessly, like zombies do, with Andy in their midst.

I can't remember the last time I had this much fun. Let's face it, how many times am I going to get asked to take photos of zombies? A big thank you to Andy for asking me to do this. I had a fantastic time. It was unbelievably cool and I would love to do it again.

For more info on the zombie film, "2", head over to Emptyhouse Film. Also keep checking back for updates on the film as we hear them, plus I will be putting a link to my zombie photos once they are online.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mark LaFlamme, Strange Maine Reporter

For stories of real and imagined strangeness in Maine, check out Sun Journal columnist Mark LaFlamme's website—especially the Strange News section.
I work the crime beat, for the most part, and there is plenty of strangeness in that world. There are the unsolved murders that still haunt me. There are the heinous crimes that leave all but the killer perplexed. But then there are stories from outside the limits of my beat -- stories of weird creatures prowling the woods; about ghosts in a welfare apartment filled with religious icons; about inexplicable objects that blaze across the sky leaving only a contrail of mystery.

It will take me some time to fish out many of these stories from the archives of my memory. I will post them here as they come to me. In the meantime, here's hoping for new weirdness. Here's hoping that truth remains stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Join the Zombie Horde - SATURDAY!

Hello future zombies!

Emptyhouse Films' zombie casting will be held on
Saturday, January 13th at 9:00 AM
at 24 Pearl Street, in Biddeford, Maine.

A MAPQUEST from your location can be found at or other online mapping service. When you arrive, please find on street parking or park across from MULLIGANS restaurant. The casting will be held at Riverdam Millyard. You'll see signs saying ZOMBIE CASTING.

Emptyhouse Films would like to thank their sponsor for this event. Steven at Riverdam Millyard has really made this possible for them. Please visit Riverdam Millyard at

On hand during casting will be the band that is doing the soundtrack of the film, COVERED IN BEES. You can check out COVERED IN BEES on MySpace or at Also on hand will be our writer Al Lamanda, the cast of TWO, Molly Roberts and Jim Roberts and it's producer and cinematographer Olin Smith.

Emptyhouse is requesting that everyone coming to the casting should come made-up as zombies. They know that not everyone has the makeup or the experience, but try your best! Please bring zombie spirit with you!

Also, if you are under 18 years of age, please make sure to have a parent or guardian with you. Everyone will be required to sign press releases upon entering the casting. They will be filming this event for the "behind the scenes" portion of the dvd release. They will also be taking a still picture of you. They will pick their favorite zombies for a few online voting competitions as well.

When you come this Saturday, you'll see a line. Please wait in this line, as they have to register everyone. This may take awhile, so please be patient and have fun while you wait by getting to know your fellow undead legions!

Emptyhouse Films has had a blast reading all of your letters and comments and says, "You guys sound like a very excited bunch of undead creatures! We are looking forward to meeting you all at the event this Saturday."

Please feel free to bring anyone else who may be interested.

If you are coming, please send an RSVP email to jessica.davis718[at] and tell her how many people you have
coming. This will allow Emptyhouse to send you an e-mail in case of any changes, such as a snow date.

Thanks and hope to see you there! Strange Maine correspondent Chris Wallace will be covering the event, since I'm stuck at work all day.

For those of you who haven't heard about this film yet, here is the lowdown:
Andy Davis' story is being turned into a script co-written with author Al Lamanda. Olin Smith and John Lane (Lobsteroids) will be producing. Davis will also be directing and it looks pretty good for some great special effects by Robert Dipitriantonio. Ross Kearny will be helping out with makeup. Here's the official press release and synopsis:

Zombies to roam the Maine Countryside!
A new film from Motion Media/Emptyhousefilm.

A new feature length film is in the works from the creators of "Mud" and "I'm Sorry". Motion Media and Emptyhouse Film announced that their latest project titled "2" will be shooting in and around southern Maine, starting this month.

The film will be co-produced by Olin Smith (Mud, I'm Sorry) and John Lane who is currently in the pre-production on "The Novice" starring Chuck Norris. "It's very exciting, last year we completed two feature films right here in Maine and we just keep building, adding new creative forces each time," said Producer Olin Smith.

"2" is a zombie survivalist film co written by published author Al Lamanda (Dunstan Falls) and Andy Davis (Mud). "This is a film I have always wanted to make. I grew up on zombie films and think that our story will make a nice addition to zombie film lore. We came up with some very interesting ideas and I can't wait to see the final outcome," said writer/director Andy Davis.

"2" tells the story of two survivors of a biological attack that has turned the world upside down and how they deal with their situation. "2" stars C. James Roberts (Mr.Barrington) and Molly Roberts (The Dark). "I am very impressed with the talents of both James and Molly. We're all looking forward to seeing them carry out the story," said Co-Producer John Lane.

Soundtrack music is being created by the Portland based band "Covered in Bees." The band has been featured on Troma Films' upcoming release Poultrygeist's soundtrack. A music video will be shot for the release of "2". The band can be found on the web at and on MySpace, where samples of some of their songs are available.

Shooting is scheduled to begin in January. A website for "2" has been set up at and will feature interactive flash based games as well as interactive media in the coming months. "2" will utilize many Southern Maine locations, shooting in Freeport, Biddeford, and Porter. In addition to using Maine locations, "2" will require many Maine residents to portray the living dead.

More information on "2" can be found at

Photo of Covered In Bees by Michelle Souliere, (c)2005.

Presentation of...?

I was pointed to a recently produced online video that looks like it is supposed to be shown to prospective Portland business investors. It has a very strange feel to it. What do you think?

Click here to check it out.

The company behind this particular vision of Portland, Maine, is Groff Video. They have a long and varied client list, including everyone from uber-local standards such as L.L. Bean, the Opportunity Farm for Boys, and Shipyard Brewery, all the way to the big boys in the national arena, like Nickelodeon, Toon Disney, and International Championship Wrestling.

The odd thing about the video is that the feel I got for Portland as they portrayed it somehow managed to make it look like any other prosperous city. It didn't show the personality of the Portland I know, which is diverse and creative. It looked appealing, just not that interesting. I'd be curious to see what you all think...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Sea Serpent Sermon?

On Channel 6 (WCSH-NBC) here in Portland, they air segments from the First Radio Parish Church each morning which used to drive me up a wall. They call them Daily Devotions. Now, lately, the Reverend has gotten more interesting. His television persona has gotten noticeably more wound up and animated (see wacky photo from his website, shown here, for an example). Also, I've noticed that sometimes his choice of story used to illustrate his point are quite... surprising.

Loren Coleman caught one that I totally missed, in which Rev. Peter B. Panagore talks about, of all things, a sea serpent sighting. Click here to read the summary and transcription of the on air segment.'s Colleen Stone, who runs the "From Away" blog on their site, was moved by one episode of Daily Devotions to describe the Reverend's modus operandi for these segments as follows:
Panagore tells some sort of story and you often have no idea where it's going and then, at the end, it all makes sense. Like, "Of course, don't steal! Be nice to people! The beach was a metaphor for our journey through life!"
Click here to read the original post in its entirety.

Panagore's mulitmedia endeavours are not limited to television. He also has available a CD called "When I Died It Was Beautiful."

Strange Maine Patents

Google's new Patent Search makes it easy to find weird inventions that sprang from the brains of Mainers.

Charles Burt of Belfast would not have been a member of Greenpeace. He patented his Exploding Harpoon in 1851 in an effort to keep the whale population under control.

Henry D. Sprague of Portland's 1866 Improvement in Coffins involved mounting a mirror inside so that mourners wouldn't have to lean over the body to get a good look.

I'm glad that Arvid Ek's design for a Water Closet never caught on. It would have required that the user crouch over the toilet "and thereby increase the expulsive forces of the colon."

Josie Baldwin of Tremont invented a Chest Bandage for "effectively and continuously extracting superfluous milk from the breasts of a pregnant woman." The model doesn't seem to be enjoying it.

And, speaking of milking, no fewer than six patents for cow-tail holders were issued between 1890 and 1936. Apparently Maine milkers were especially prone to getting swatted by errant cow tails.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You Have the Right to a Headbutt -- NOT!

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported today on a case that has been pending since last August, in which a Portland Police officer was accused of head-butting a photographer who also happens to be homeless.

Cong Van Nguyen pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a $1,000 fine. In return, prosecutors dropped an assault charge that probably would have ended his career as a police officer had he been convicted.

The charge stemmed from a complaint filed in August 2005 by Peter Coltart, who claimed that Nguyen angrily confronted him and then head-butted him in the mouth when he walked in front of the officer's cruiser on Congress Street. Coltart was not seriously hurt. Nguyen has been on leave without pay since he was indicted last February. He now faces possible discipline from his department and the trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, who oversee police certification.
Coltart could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but a prosecutor said he had been informed about the plea agreement and approved of it.

Nathaniel Kuritz, who witnessed the confrontation, said he's concerned about the possibility of Nguyen returning to the force. He said he saw Nguyen jump up to hit the taller Coltart with his head.

"I don't think that there should be second chances given to officers who are supposed to protect people and then do things like this," Kuritz said. "Hopefully he's learned his lesson."

Nguyen, a refugee from Vietnam when he came to Portland in 1975 at age 5, was the first Asian officer on the department when he was hired in 1997.

Back in August, Coltart's own account of the event, along with that of eyewitnesses', was published on a police misconduct monitoring site.

08/18/2005 - PORTLAND, Maine -- Under state law, the penalty for jaywalking these days is a fine no less than $25 and no more than $500. Unless, of course, you're Peter Coltart.

He got head-butted.

Hard to believe, but according to Coltart and three eyewitnesses, it's true: After he walked in front of a police cruiser on Congress Street in downtown Portland last week, Coltart found himself face-to-face with an irate police officer, Cong Van Nguyen. And by the time their not-so-private tete-a-tete ended, witnesses say, the significantly shorter Nguyen was on his tiptoes driving his upper forehead into Coltart's face.

"I really don't want a whole lot," Coltart, 27, said this week. "But I definitely think the officer needs to be somehow reprimanded for this. Someone has to explain to him how to respond to a situation in the proper way."
While Police Chief Michael Chitwood said Tuesday that Nguyen denies head-butting Coltart in broad daylight outside Paul's Food Center on Aug. 1, three witnesses with no connection to either man say that's exactly what happened.

"Oh, yeah, I definitely saw it," recalled Sayre English, who works for a nearby advertising agency and saw the whole thing from the sidewalk on Congress Street. "As soon as it happened, I was like 'Oh my God! That cop just head-butted that guy!' "

According to the written complaint he filed with the Portland Police Department, here is Coltart's version of what happened:

Coltart, a freelance photographer who also happens to be homeless, was crossing against a green light at Congress Street and Forest Avenue on Aug. 1 when he passed in front of a police cruiser, forcing the driver to slow down. Moments later, as Coltart walked on the sidewalk, Nguyen pulled up alongside him in the cruiser, got out and hollered, "Hey (expletive)!"

"Excuse me?" replied Coltart.

"Hey (expletive)," the officer repeated. "Learn how to cross the (expletive) road."

Coltart asked if Nguyen could at least "be a little more civil." Several times, he said, Nguyen replied, "What are you going to do about it?" and at one point shoved Coltart in the chest.

"I'll admit I was a little angry," Coltart wrote in his statement. "And I said, 'Why don't you stop harassing me and get the hell out of here? I haven't done anything. Stop pushing me.' "

Finally, Coltart said, Nguyen turned and began walking back toward his cruiser. Still angry, Coltart yelled, "Good. Get outta here and leave me alone."

At that point, he said, Nguyen "turned around, marched back up to me . . . and head-butted me directly in my face."

"I lifted my hand to my face to make sure there was no blood, that my nose had not been broken or that my teeth had been knocked out," Coltart said. Despite the pain, he said, there was no serious damage.

Coltart said Nguyen then told him, "I'll see you down at the headquarters," got back in his cruiser and drove away. Coltart immediately got out his notebook and started asking bystanders for their names and telephone numbers.

From there, he made a beeline for Portland police headquarters. At first, he said, he was told that he could not file a formal complaint because "I was trying to provoke the officer." But later last week, police finally took his statement.

Chitwood, who will leave Portland on Friday for his new job as police chief in Upper Darby Township, Pa., said the matter is under investigation by the department's internal affairs unit. But he added that "preliminary" information from Nguyen, who was not available for an interview Tuesday, suggests that Coltart was looking for a confrontation with the officer.

"(Nguyen) is a very small officer," Chitwood said. "At one point, the guy (Coltart) is standing over him saying 'What are you going to do about it?' and (Nguyen) pushes him back. That's it."

And the head-butting?

"Nguyen claims he never head-butted anybody," Chitwood replied.

Which brings us back to English, who was walking to Paul's Food Center with Nathaniel Kuritz, a co-worker at Garrand & Co., when they saw the top of Nguyen's head meet the bottom of Coltart's face.

Is there any chance they were mistaken?

"None," English replied. "None at all."

Echoed Kuritz, "We saw the officer jump in the air and head-butt (Coltart) and we're like, 'Wow! What's going on?' I've never seen that done before -- and (Nguyen) had to actually jump to get (Coltart's) head."

Also watching was Leonard Weiss, who lives in an apartment building on Congress Square. Upon hearing Nguyen's and Coltart's raised voices, Weiss said, he turned to look just in time to see the officer push Coltart in the chest.

"The next thing I know, the kid and (Nguyen) get real close and the officer butts him with his head," Weiss said. "I said, 'What the heck? Right there in broad daylight.' "

Coltart, for the record, has a criminal trespass charge pending against him in Lewiston, stemming from his alleged crossing of a police line during Laura Bush's visit there last year. He has had a handful of other encounters with Portland police in recent weeks -- he said most involved them asking him for identification and none have led to any charges against him.

Coltart said he's fallen on hard times since he graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. He now spends his nights at the Milestone Foundation shelter on India Street and his days walking around downtown Portland, working on a photography project about life in the city.

Coltart insists that he's not trying to follow in the footsteps of plaintiffs whose $672,000 in settlements with the city prompted the two-year Justice Department investigation that ended last summer. (A follow-up letter last month from the feds praised the city for its "progress" in training officers about the use of force.) At the moment, he said, he has no plans to sue anybody.

So why take his complaint public?

"Because if you're homeless in Portland and you walk around with a knapsack on your back, you do get treated differently," Coltart said. "I think people need to know that."

This is not Coltart's first run-in with police aggression. Back in 2003, he was, in fact, carrying a press card from the Lewiston Sun Journal itself (interesting!) when he attended the February 15th anti-war rally in New York City, after which he was quoted in a Village Voice article as follows:
The police definitely used "rough tactics," said Peter Coltart, a 24-year-old photographer who traveled from Maine to New York to cover the rally. Coltart, who carries a press pass from the Lewiston Sun Journal, spent several hours in the packed blocks of the East Fifties, watching police push the demonstrators around. "Sometimes when I put a camera up, they'd be more careful," he said, "but other times if I tried to take a picture, they would either put their hand up or tell me to move along."

Coltart claimed that one officer knocked him down three times and another picked him up off the street and threw him. The first incident occurred at an intersection where protesters were densely packed on the sidewalk, facing a line of cops on foot and on horseback. The police were pushing people back so buses and cranes could come through. "I was standing there taking photographs," he recalled. "Me and the cop were facing each other and the cop said, 'You've gotta move.' " The next thing he remembers is, "I got knocked down by a police officer. I was on the ground, got up, and got knocked down again. I was knocked down three times and trampled on by other protesters."

Later, Coltart arrived on a side street where protesters had begun a mass sit-down. Police were telling people to get up and arresting them if they did not. "I saw this guy lying down getting arrested," Coltart recalled. "I ran out toward the street, got on my stomach in front of the guy, and popped off two frames. Then all of a sudden, I was floating. A big cop reached down—he must have weighed over 200 pounds. I weigh 150. He grabbed my jacket with one hand and picked me up. I kept shooting. He threw me back into the crowd. I don't think I landed on my feet."

Happy 2007!

Greeting from the future! Here we are in 2007. It's ridiculously warm for January. That's pretty strange. What else is new?

Well, the Strange Maine Gazette's 7th issue is out on the streets, and I'll be mailing my out-of-town copies shortly (thanks to all those hardy souls who distribute it for me). So far, copies have been dropped off at Strange Maine the store, the Maine Historical Society's library lobby, Coffee By Design on Congress Street in Portland (across from Geno's), and more copies will be making their way into the city by chance over the next week or so.

In a cooperative effort, the Gazette will also be teaming up with the Portland Banner. Back issues of the Banner, heretofore unavailable, will soon be accessible in an archive hosted on one of my other websites, Bad Cakes/Bad Influences. We're still settling the format, and whatnot, but this is a resource we're excited to make available for Banner fans, and Portland's reading public in general.