Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weekly Photo: Ice Wagons Ho!

We've slipped a bit since our last "weekly" photo, but better late than never they say! Our last photo was of a young Davy Crockett wannabe, sitting perched as lookout on Munjoy Hill, surveying Portland's Bayside neighborhood below.

Here is another photo, courtesy of Abraham Schechter, who runs the Portland Public Library's Portland Room. This time our photo is another downtown photo, taken in 1942. Just the sort of summer sight you'd see today if only there were still ice wagons about, instead of popsicle-dealing ice cream trucks. Click on the photo for a larger version to inspect details. I'm not sure how much of the street is the same, today, as it was then.

Strange UFO lights result of dancing?

Two weeks ago a Florida doctor in Lewiston saw something strange in the night sky... article from the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Doctor says he saw odd lights over Lewiston

By Kathryn Skelton , Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
LEWISTON - Dr. Barry Chandler has seen the space shuttle in the sky at night, and plenty of meteor showers, and this, he says, was definitely nothing like those.

The Florida man looked up in the sky Friday night at 10:05 p.m., from his mother-in-law's lawn on Marble Street and saw a rough string of 10 to 15 lights traveling together in clusters.
He, his wife and mother-in-law watched them move from the southern corner of the sky to the north, finally fading from view, after about four minutes.

"They were fairly pulsing. It was like a flame but it wasn't; I can't describe it," Chandler said. The lights reminded him of the flames inside hot air balloons when they take off. They seemed to pulse.
Chandler called the National UFO Reporting Center. It hadn't received any other reports. Neither had the National Weather Service in Gray.

Meteorologist Michael Cempa said Friday night was clear. The recent meteor shower, which peaked Sunday, would look like bright streaks across the sky, not steady lights, he said.

The German Web site Heavens Above noted that iridium flares - sun reflecting off satellites - could be seen from Lewiston at 6:14 and 6:23 that night, but nothing later.

A spokesman at Brunswick Naval Air Station said it wasn't anything of theirs. A Hanscom Air Force Base spokeswoman didn't have any information.

Androscoggin County dispatch didn't take any calls reporting strange lights Friday night.

"It sounds strange," said Sheriff Guy Desjardins. "But strange things happen."
[Read full article here: Source
The most interesting of comments following up the article is this one, from Bub: "At just after 10:00, for the finale of a performance at the Bates Dance Festival at Lake Andrews (on campus) -- just south of the good doctor's position -- about a dozen or so medium-sized balloons were sent aloft by performers. These balloons were about 3 feet tall, and indeed looked like miniature hot-air balloons. The flames in the balloons lasted about 5 minutes or so before fading out. End of story."

Mystery Pterodactyl enters Maine!

Loren Coleman had an interesting field trip this week. He has an aside for an anonymous New York driver he encountered on his way back home with the thunderbird:
By the way, if you were the passenger in a car with New York plates driving on I-84, who rolled your window down to ask me “What is that?” - and then had a short dialogue with me about the above - I hope you and the driver had a safe journey home. It certainly ranks as the first time I’ve been interviewed at 65 mph about a fictional cryptid model in my vehicle and a sci-fi television series.
Read the full story and see more photos here on Cryptomundo!

Congrats on bringing such an exciting trophy home to Maine!

Another fine vanity find

Pulled into a McDonalds in Gardiner, Maine, behind this clever little vanity plate this morning.

Subtle, it ain't

The sign says it all. Snapped this back in July on my first trip out to meet Glenn Chadbourne and nip around the mid-coast area in general. Newcastle, Maine, is the home of Cowsh*t Corner, on Route 194. No, I didn't make this up. Someone has a sense of humor!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

mysterious recycled R found on old Maine map

"Hey Chummy, would that be the AHH you
drawped the othah day???"

Indeed, a good thrifty Maine Yankee would
surely hesitate to waste a good re-usable item,
and that would include the Rs (pronounced AHHs)
many of us will drop left and right like mussel shells
on the beach.

Well, in the midst of conserving a map of the Portland
region, the crew in the Portland Room (Special Collections & Archives) at the Portland Public Library, came across an amazing example of an apparently recycled R.

The Map of Cape Elizabeth, albeit produced in the far-off, foreign land of Massachusetts (see bottom photo), shows the Katahdin Road (for which we locals will take our liberties in drawing out the already- existing "ah" out as our musical speech of the moment will dictate) indicated with what seems to be a reconstituted R.

A detail on a map so tiny, yet so noticeable, reveals the name Katardin in plain capitalized block type (see detail immediately below).

Strange Things do happen
when our local cadences are
misinterpreted- and then
re-interpreted again,
even on road maps!

Another good reason, especially in this
area-rrr to use care when treading, as you
might find yourself stepping right over a
discahhded R.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stephen King turns up down under

Thanks to Loren Coleman for pointing out this funny little King of Horror tidbit in an article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Stephen King mistaken for vandal in Alice
August 16, 2007

One of the world's most famous authors, Stephen King, was mistaken for a vandal in an Alice Springs bookstore on Tuesday. Dymocks store manager Bev Ellis says a customer saw the horror novelist walk into the store.

Once inside, King found copies of his books and began signing them.

"As the owner of a bookshop, when you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey," Ms Ellis said. "So we immediately ran to the books and lo-and-behold here was the signature in several books. We sort of spun around on our heels, [saying] 'where did he go, where did he go'."

Ms Ellis says she saw the author standing in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket across the road.

"So I went over and introduced myself ... He was lovely, very nice, charming," she said. Ms Ellis says she asked him if he was staying long in Alice Springs and he just smiled. "[Then I said], well if we knew you were coming we would have baked a cake."

King signed six books in total. The customer that mistook the author for a vandal bought one. Ms Ellis plans to give the remaining five copies to community groups who can auction them off to raise funds.

King's rep in Sydney confirmed that they did not know the author was currently in Australia. Ms Ellis says King was travelling with a friend.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dark Shadows returns to the screen

Fans of the Dark Shadows television series are in for a sweet surprise -- Johnny Depp has done some Hollywood magic and is opening the creaky, locked gate of Collinwood up to the public once again! Guard your necks, and lock your doors, and.... well, it wouldn't hurt to buy some garlic and a satchel full of crucifixes along with your summer sunscreen! Read on...
Depp Steps into Shadows
by Josh Grossberg
Fri, 27 Jul 2007 04:15:25 PM PDT

Johnny Depp has never shied away from dark films like Dead Man, The Ninth Gate, Sleepy Hollow and From Hell. Now he's really found a role he can sink his teeth into. The actor is teaming with Warner Bros. on a movie version of the classic supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, with Depp playing lead vampire Barnabas Collins.

Depp has long counted himself among the legion of Dark Shadows devotees and has stated in past interviews that he's dreamed of playing Barnabas ever since he was a kid. Through their respective production companies, Depp and Graham King purchased the rights to the spooky ABC serial from the estate of the show's mastermind, Dan Curtis, according to Variety.

The groundbreaking Dark Shadows ran for 1,125 episodes from 1966 to 1971, chronicling the strange goings-on around the mysterious Collins family in their estate in Maine. Populated by myriad macabre characters, including vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies, the show spawned a cult following, numerous fan conventions and various attempts to resurrect the program after the network put a stake in it.

Curtis directed House of Dark Shadows, a 1970 movie adaptation starring Jonathan Frid, who originated Barnabas in the series. Curtis later updated Shadows in 1990 with a new TV series that lasted one season with Ben Cross in the immortal role. Another short-lived remake, not supervised by Curtis, featured Alec Newman as the head vampire and aired in 2004.
King and Depp will produce the film from a screenplay by Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I).
The Dark Shadows news was just one tidbit to emerge from Warners' presentation at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday, as the studio offered previews of some of its highest profile 2008 releases.

[Read full article here: Source]
Maine State Film Commission, are you listening? We're getting a little tired of having Vancouver, et al, beat us out as settings for things that are supposed to be set in our home state.

Tales from Lighthouse Keeper's Children

Many of you may be familiar with the purportedly haunted Wood Island lighthouse. Recently, some surviving children of one of the lighthouse's keepers from the distant past sat down to tell some of their tales to an appreciative audience in Saco. You can read about it here at the Haunted Lighthouses blog, where tales of Spectral Keepers of the Lights and news about haunted lighthouses are faithfully kept alight. Click here to read the article.

For more on the investigation of Wood Island's hauntings, click here.

Photo from the CyberLights website, which has more photos of the lighthouse, video, directions, etc.

Horse Dies after Mystery Attack

Thanks to Amos Quito over at New England Anomaly for picking this up. A sad story, and another question mark on the board of possible mountain lion encounters in northern New England of late.
Officials Say Mountain Lion Unlikely In Horse Attack
Family's Show Horse Fatally Wounded

WHITEFIELD, N.H. -- A Whitefield family said Monday that their beloved show horse was attacked and killed by a mountain lion, but experts said that's not possible.

Shirly Smith said that something attacked her 15-year-old palomino, Miss Dixie, nine days ago.

"She was just whinnying, and then we saw blood everywhere," Smith said.

The Smiths moved their other horses inside after they found Miss Dixie with scratches and gouges in her flesh.

"We got cold towels to put on the worst wounds on her chest to stop the bleeding," Smith said.

Despite emergency surgery, the horse didn't survive.
"Just judging from the width on the flank, it could possibly be a bear," Fish and Game Officer Matt Holmes said. "Considering what animals inhabit the area, that was the only thing I could come up with."

The Smiths said they believe a mountain lion could be responsible, but experts said that's unlikely. The Fish and Game Department gets about 100 reports of mountain lion sightings every year, but they said it has been 100 years or more since mountain lions roamed the Granite State.

Wildlife expert Rob Calvert said that he believes a bear might have startled the horse, setting off a chain of events that fatally injured her. Because of his finding, the state will pay for the Smiths' veterinarian bills, which added up to $600.
[Click here to read full story: Source]
Photo of Miss Dixie from WMUR site.

Self Immolation in Kittery

Strange news out of Kittery, Maine, as a man sets himself on fire and calmly kills himself on a Kittery sidewalk.
Suicide by fire may have been planned
By Karen Dandurant
August 13, 2007 2:11 PM

KITTERY, Maine — A Kittery man who set himself afire Sunday afternoon was troubled and may have been considering suicide at least 24 hours earlier.

According to a local gas station owner, Nathan C. Gagner, 27, of 135 Whipple Road, had come in on Saturday to purchase a gas can and razor blades, then returned the following day to fill up the can with gas.

On Sunday, at 4:03 p.m., police received a 911 call advising that a man in the vicinity of 75 Whipple Road had poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire while sitting on the sidewalk.

Kittery Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene extinguishing the fire. An ambulance transported Gagner to Portsmouth Regional Hospital where at 5:30 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Police said that according to family and friends he had been suffering from depression. Chief Ed Strong said he has known Gagner all his life, that he grew up in Kittery.

“His parents are good friends of mine,” said Strong. “I talked with them and Nathan had been depressed. He was having issues and was on medication at times. He recently had suffered a breakup of a relationship.”

Ken Lewis, owner of the Exxon gas station where Gagner bought a gas can and then filled it with gasoline said he had been in there the day before.

“He came in on Saturday to get a gas can and razor blades,” said Lewis. “He paid for them and then put them back on the counter and left them.”

One employee, Tyler Eidell, said he saw Gagner earlier Sunday, riding a bicycle.

“He seemed fine to me then,” said Eidell.

Both men said Gagner was local, a person they often saw.
“When a customer ran in and said a guy set himself on fire, I knew it had to be him,” said Lewis.

Katie Bayer of 66 Whipple Road said Gagner was calm as the flames consumed him.

Bayer, 15, was looking out of her bedroom window late Sunday afternoon and watched from the beginning as the man walked to a spot on Whipple Road across from her house, poured gasoline over himself, and set himself ablaze.

Bayer said she didn’t see the gas can at first, when the man first stopped walking. She saw him pouring something over his head and thought it was water.

“I thought it was a homeless guy taking a bath,” she said.

The man looked like he was in his 20s, with long brown hair, the teen said.

“All of a sudden he just burst into flames,” she said. “He didn’t scream. He sat there calmly with his arms crossed. It looked like he was meditating.”

She said she and her brother tried calling 911 but all the operators were busy. By that time, cars had pulled over on the side of the road, and she thinks they were all calling too.

While she was watching, neighbors across the street came out with a fire extinguisher and then a hose, and put out the fire.

“I was shocked,” she said of the incident. “I couldn’t believe someone would do something like that. People do a lot of things for strange reasons, don’t they?”
Sgt. Ken Grimes at the Maine State Fire Marshal’s office said the incident was over when Dan Young, their senior investigator arrived.
Grimes said they have seen suicides by fire before but it’s usually done in private, in a home or a car.

“I never remember one happening in such as open public place,” said Grimes.

Police say Gagner committed “suicide by fire” and say their investigation is complete.

[Read the full article by clicking here: Source]
There is a second article online, also at Seacoast, written by one of the first bystanders to come upon the scene. An interesting read.
As we drove back to Eliot, we noticed an intense fire approximately in a 6-by-6 area, at least 10 feet high, on the sidewalk across from the entrance to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. I stopped 50 yards short, noticed no traffic, evaluated that the blaze was contained, and proceeded by crossing the center line. It wasn’t until we were directly in front of the roaring blaze that we noticed him, sitting like a buddha. Only his face and chest were visible. He was statue-like, serene, showing no signs of discomfort as the fire was consuming his body.
Click here to read the full account.
Photo of location of suicide by Deb Cram, from Seacoast Online.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dangerously cute! The bobcat's secret weapon.

Oh, man... these guys were powerless against this ferociously adorable feline!

Baby bobcat wanders into auto parts store
August 6, 2007
SANFORD, Maine --A kitten that wandered into an auto parts store on Monday elicited oohs and aahs from onlookers.

But this was on ordinary kitty. It was a feisty, frightened bobcat.
The tiny feline entered VIP Auto shortly before 8 a.m. as Jason Hamilton of Sanford arrived to buy new tires.
"It just came walking in. I tried to call him like a normal cat, but he wouldn't come," Hamilton said.
The bobcat wandered the length of the store before heading into the bathroom, where it hid behind the toilet before employees closed the bathroom door.
Sanford police officers dispatched to the scene looked at the animal, agreed that it looked like a bobcat, and notified the Maine Warden Service.
Warden Alan Curtis, who was in town, theorized that the bobcat kitten had come in from the woods at the rear of the store.
"It's only a few weeks old," said Curtis, who estimated its weight at a pound or two. "It's probably scared to death."
After donning thick, welding-type gloves, Curtis brought the kitten out in a red plastic basket. It was then transferred to a cardboard box, with a lid and air holes, and was headed to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.[Source]
Photo credit: Tammy Wells, Journal Tribune

Mystery Airship of Maine 1915

Guest post by Loren Coleman!

For those that think the early 20th Century's "mysterious airship" reports only occurred in the Midwest, here's an example, via my friend Jerome Clark, for Maine.

Loren Coleman

Daily Kennebec Journal
March 2, 1915

Maine Gossip


The mysterious airship has been seen again, this time over South Portland, and the direction which it took when it left this vicinity substantiates the story relative to the craft which appeared Feb. 21 in the Portland Press.

It will be remembered it was reported that a couple of young men had built a machine that would run as well in cold weather as warm and were experimenting with it in this section, having their hangar in a secret place up the Mountain division of the Maine Central Railroad.

When the airship appeared over South Portland a respectable citizen who happened to be out of doors was attracted by the noise of the motors and it was so near to earth that he could hear two men talking. They appeared to be trying to get their bearings as they sailed about and flashed their searchlight, and finally when they had crossed the Fore river, they turned the machine and went off in the direction of the mountains at a great rate of speed.

It is interesting to note that it was a Portland, Maine, publisher (Leighton & Frey Souvenir View Co.) who produced a lithographed booklet titled "California Midwinter International Exposition San Francisco; California January 1st to June 30th 1894." Among this pamphlet's wondrous features is a curious contraption not dissimilar to that credited with the rash of "mystery airship" sightings on the West Coast in 1896, two years later. This is pointed out by Jesse Glass, who kindly provides a scan of the image inquestion on his webpage, with notes. "On page eight appears an enigmatic drawing, and an equally enigmatic title, which says, simply: 'This machine will fly.' Beneath it we see what is unmistakably a cigar-shaped dirigible with a wing-like, rotary appendage, presumably repeated on the opposite side, not visible to us (see Illustration). [Source]

This is not the only tie to Maine encountered in this peculiar saga. Early reports about the inventor of the airship included this information: "... the inventor was a wealthy native of Maine who had sought the seclusion of the West, settling at Oroville in 1891. Using parts manufactured in the East and shipped to his home, he had spent one hundred thousand dollars on his creation. He finally completed the airship and flew to Sacramento and on to San Francisco." Purportedly, this man was one Dr. E. H. Benjamin, a nonpracticing dentist. Later stories contradicted and refuted various parts of this initial announcement. [Source]