Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Holidays and Hiatus!

Hi all, sorry it's been so silent over here of late! Things have been busy and crazy. To give you all an update on what's going on, I am wrapping up a 15-year tenure at my office job (an exhausting and mind-boggling process). From here, I'll be moving on to working on my illustration and artwork in my studio plus working part-time at the Portland Public Library. It's official!

My last day at my old job is January 1st. After that, I'm a free (possibly starving a little) bird. This should give me a lot more time to pursue the Strange Maine ideal, which for me includes being able to take field trips (with lots of photos, of course), interview Strange Maine personages, and have time to devote to research and investigation in general, which up to this point has been rather fly-by-night at best.

This is a big leap. Hopefully you will eventually start seeing an upswing in the quality and an increase in the quantity of original articles here on the site and in the Gazette, and a more frequent occurrence of original artwork to accompany it.

One of the things I've asked family and friends for as a Christmas wish item is gift certificates to Sanctuary Tattoo so that my guy Wil Scherer can apply his talents to my shoulders in the form of a Strange Maine tattoo which I will be sitting down at the drawing board to flesh out shortly. Updates here as work progresses. Yow! Or should that be "Ow!"? At any rate, this will be an interesting new dimension to the embodiment of Strange Maine in my life.

In case I am still behind on posting 'til the New Year, I would like to take this moment to say a huge THANK YOU! to all of my readers, and to my fellow contributors, Chris Dunham and Chris Wallace, plus all those folks who e-mail and/or give me story tips in person. I couldn't be doing this without all you guys chiming in here. This whole thing is for YOU!!!

Happy Holidays, everyone, and Happy New Year!
Here's to 2007!!!

Photo: Michelle Souliere & Chris Wallace at the old Geno's, a Strange Maine hotspot if there ever was one!

Monday, December 04, 2006

So You Want to Be a Bigfoot?

Slated to go up in early March, it's Running Over Productions' latest and greatest idea for keeping Portlanders entertained. Join up with the unbeatable tagteam that produced such exciting and dramatic plays as the fantastic feat of stagecraft that was Wharf Rats, and other prior productions which we all loved including The Zombie, the Creature Double Feature of Maniac and The Brain That Wouldn't Die, and their riveting adaptation of Roger Corman's Bucket of Blood.

The Bigfoot Chronicles -- AUDITIONS!
WHEN: Monday and Tuesday, December 11th and 12th, 7:00-10:00pm
WHERE: The Presumpscot Grange Hall, 1844 Forest Ave, Portland, Maine
AND THEN WHAT: Rehearsals will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:45-10:00pm, starting January 9th.

FMI: Visit Running Over Productions' official website
Visit Running Over Productions' MySpace page

Please forward this information to anyone and everyone who might be interested!!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Strange Maine Music Show

WHEN: Friday, December 8th at 8:00pm
WHERE: Strange Maine, the store, 578 Congress Street
WHO: Godbois, with A.M. Frank and Jake from the Union
WHAT: All sorts of electronic and acoustic brouhaha music, live, for FREE!
HUH?: Call (207)771-9997 for more information

Come explore a niche of Maine music that few get to hear, in the intimate setting of Strange Maine, the store.

For a sample of a past show by different artists in this unique venue, please check out this YouTube video!

...and pick up a copy of the December issue of the Strange Maine Gazette while you're there.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Krakow We're Not, But...

Someone over at Frommer's travel guide really had a good time in Portland, because they just named Portland among the top world travel destinations. Yes, I said WORLD! And I'm not talking a piddly ranking like 200-and-something... we hit #12, right behind Zurich, Switzerland. Weird...
The votes are in! Portland, Maine was voted one of the twelve surprising, thriving and emerging travel destinations by the editors at Frommer's Travel Guides and Frommers.com. The editors scoured the globe and polled a stable of authors and experts to identify the top spots. Portland is listed at number twelve among the top travel destinations not to be missed in 2007.

To view the complete article visit Frommers.com

Frommer's top destinations are:

1) Krakow, Poland
2) Tokyo, Japan
3) Minneapolis, Minnesota
4) Panama
5) Asheville, North Carolina
6) Ethiopia
7) Portland, Oregon
8) Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Island
9) Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
10) Glen Canyon, Utah
11) Zurich, Switzerland
12) Portland, Maine
Photo (c)2006 by Michelle Souliere.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hunters Run Amuck!

Watch out! Get out your kevlar vest and old trench helmet, because if you're living near the woods, apparently you're fair game even in your own home. The Lewiston Sun Journal reported Tuesday that a woman in Wilton, Maine, found her apartment being shot through by local hunters.
Bullet rips through apartment wall
By Maggie Gill-Austern , Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

WILTON - After a stray bullet landed in a local woman's kitchen Monday, police warned hunters to be more careful where they're shooting.

Just before 10:30 Monday morning, a Village View apartments resident heard four gunshots and noticed that one of the shots had gone through her apartment wall, according to a news release issued by police.

When officer Ed Leahy arrived on the scene, he found that the bullet had ripped through her kitchen wall, gone through the room and an interior wall, and then struck a baseboard heater in a hallway.

"Had the lady been in her kitchen, in the path of the bullet, she would have been killed," Leahy wrote in the release.

All indications are that the bullet was fired from woods behind the Village View complex, not far behind the buildings.

Another witness heard shots and when she looked out her window, saw three deer run by, followed by two young-looking men, the release stated.

Police ask that anyone who might know who was hunting in the woods Monday in the Village View or Burgess Hill area call investigating game Warden Reggie Hammond or the Wilton Police Department.
Illustration from Thomas Thorpe's The Hive of the Bee Hunter as found online here at Documenting the American South.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Cautionary Tale of Stranger Danger

All across this great land, from California to the Maine, school children of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, were treated to film strips which were meant to keep them on the moral path to good citizenship. The stories were designed not only to scare the hell out of them, but to keep them safe from strangers, drugs, alochol, juvenile delinquents, cars, and those kids that didn't have proper posture. Some of you will also remember the horrific drivers ed films that were shown during high school drivers education class. [Good god, he's backing up on the freeway! screeeech.... crash!] These cautionary films continued to be shown until they either became too tattered to play, or were made obsolete by vhs tape.

On October 16th, one of this genre's best known filmmakers, Sid Davis, died at the age of ninety years in Los Angeles. Sid produced films which warned of the danger that waited around every corner, waiting to strike the child who was careless or didn't follow the rules of polite society. Sid was also John Wayne's stand in from 1941 to 1952.

After a local case in which a young girl was abducted and murdered by a stranger, Sid became concerned about his own daughter who was the same age as the murdered girl. He didn't think she was paying attention to his warnings about strangers. He approached John Wayne for a loan of $1000 and funded his first film, The Dangerous Stranger.

Sid sold this cautionary tale, of what can happen when a child talks to a stranger, to the schools as well as the police. He made enough money from this film to continue a career which spanned decades and reportedly produced over 180 of these classroom social guidance and safety films. Sid addressed serious topics such as drug use, teenage delinquents, drivers education, social behavior, and morality. Unfortunately many of these films no longer exist.The filmstrips were run over and over until they fell apart or could no longer be spliced together. Others were thrown away when there was no longer a use for them.

One which remains intact and can be viewed online -see the link at the bottom of this post- is Live and Learn. In this film, children are warned to think before they act. Otherwise they'll be like the kids in this film who "ended up in an ambulence."

Here we have pictures of an accident waiting to happen and the aftermath of another. The little girl is Sid's daughter Jill, who in the film runs with scissors and impales herself. The little mummy child is the boy who was playing with matches, and used a can of gasoline to get the fire really going.

In Sid's films, you could pay dearly for your carelessness. Along with the impalement and horrible burns, children in this film manage to: fall out of a canoe; break a leg jumping off a roof; lose an eye in a bb gun accident; get hit by a car; fall off a cliff; and end up face down in a pool after being jumped on after a dive. The kid who falls from the cliff only breaks his wrist, which is not terrible considering how far he fell. But there is no sympathy for this careless rule breaker as the narrator intones threateningly, "The boy learned what fences were for the hard way."

Some of Sid's other productions were the fantastically titled:
1. The Bottle and the Throttle
2. Boys Beware
3. The Terrible Truth
4. Why Take Chances
5. What Made Sammy Speed?
6. VD
7. Say No to Strangers
8. ABC's of Walking Wisely
9. Gossip

The heavy handed scripts are often amusing due to ridiculous statements by the narrator, which hopefully made more sense when they films were first released. One of my favorites comes from the film titled Gossip, in which the narrator tells us that "Gossips toss words around as carelessly as parrots." No matter how you look at it, that sentence is a doozy. Plus I had no idea that gossips tossed parrots around at all, let alone carelessly tossed them.

Here's a link to the Sid Davis Production, Live and Learn.

Or if you'd like to peruse nearly 2000 films of this genre to download or view via streaming video.
Prelinger Archives - "It's goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanks be to Maine

Maine Impact asked a number of folks including myself to contribute short monologues to their Thanksgiving podcast about what we are thankful for. The podcast should be online on Thursday, November 23rd, for Thanksgiving Day. Here's a transcript of mine. Thanks, everyone.


I am thankful for the State of Maine.

I am thankful I live in a state where I can see the bare bones of the earth, and the bare souls of the people who live here.

I am thankful to live in a state that is met by the sea, veined by rivers and streams, and strung with the precious blue of lakes. I am grateful for the wind-whispering traffic that moves through the pines, the squirrel highways among the oaks, and the quiet treading of feet both big and small on soft pine needle trails.

I am thankful for the wash and thunder of the waves, the smell of trees and water together with earth and stone, the creel of gulls glowing white in the night overhead, maple syrup on early morning pancakes, chowder eaten on the docks, corn eaten from the cob, potatoes by the bushel, and fields of pumpkins glowing in the late autumn sun.

I am thankful to live in a state that embraces the pockets of humanity, history, and nature that attract me so. I am grateful that I will explore Maine for my entire lifetime and never find myself wanting for new discoveries around each turn I take.

I am thankful that Maine is a place that encourages writers to write, artists to create, craftspeople to make, teachers to tell, and storytellers to spin tales to anyone who will listen.

I am thankful that I live in a state that people yearn to call their home, that adopted Mainers pine for while away, and which has taught me that this is a land which has a heart that beats strong and deep within it that draws us onward even when we’ve settled here.

I am thankful to live in a state where there are paths rarely tread upon by humans, and where there are also well traveled roads lined with family and friends, and folks I have yet to meet.

I am thankful for all the people of Maine, for the land and creatures of Maine, and for the spectral grace of “what is Maine” that haunts me night and day.

Disturbing Use of Dog

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported this morning on a disturbing incident in which a young dog was abandoned and then killed on the roadside in Poland, Maine.
Police seek owner of dog killed in Poland
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

POLAND - Police are searching for the owner of a young yellow Labrador retriever that was thrown out of a van on Empire Road on Tuesday night and later struck by a car and killed.

Androscoggin County Deputy Tom Slivinski said witnesses reported seeing a man get out of a white van that had pulled into a driveway near the accident scene, throw the dog out and then take off west on Empire Road.

A short time afterward, about 6 p.m., a motorist driving on Hackett Mills Road near Empire Road reported hitting a light-colored dog, which matched the description of the one thrown from the van, he said.

"We have some info to follow up on," the deputy said. "We'd like to find the owner."

He described the animal as being 2 to 3 years old, well cared for, with a faded salmon-colored collar and no tags.

One question Slivinski is looking at, he said, "Is it a domestic violence issue" where the man takes the woman's dog as retaliation?

Anyone with information is asked to call Slivinski at the Sheriff's Department, 784-7361, ext. 264.

I hope they get the person they're looking for.

The Gentle Wind dropped

Late last week Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey were finally able to draw a breath of relief. The married couple from Blue Hill, Maine, were informed that the Gentle Wind Project had finally dropped its defamation lawsuit against them (the first of which was begun back in 2003) for their attempts to inform the public of the activities of the organization, which many feel to be cultish and fraudulent.

The tale has been a strange one since the start. After finding out about the group's "miraculous" healing hockey pucks in February of 2006, we posted about the Gentle Wind Project and their high-priced products, glorified hockey pucks from heaven. Click here to read that first post. We again mentioned the group in July 2006 when it came to our attention that the Maine Attorney General had filed suit against the Gentle Wind Project. Click here to read the second article.

Since February, and indeed since this debacle began, the Gentle Wind Project's website has changed its tone substantially. In fact, the current page has none of the original product content it displayed earlier this year, now being pared down to what amounts to a mission statement and some contact information for an address in Nevada (far, far away from their original base in Kittery, Maine, from which they have been ferretted out), paired with photos of peaceful landscapes. It's a far cry from the days when the exorbitantly priced "Advanced Instruments" were plainly advertised on their pages.

Now, finally, we have good news, for which I am sure that Jim and Judy are also thankful. The group has settled with the Maine Attorney General, and dropped their case against Bergin and Garvey. Let us hope that fewer folks fall victim to their "healing" cult now, and that it fades away into dust. If you are interested in reading more in depth information about the Garvey/Bergin case, please visit their website, www.windofchanges.org.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Haunting in the Northern Maine Woods

A Haunting in the Northern Maine Woods has video of purported paranormal events. [heavy sarcasm on] I don't see how this could possibly be faked. [heavy sarcasm off]
Have you seen any of the new so-called true story horror movies that have come to the theaters in the last few years? Or perhaps you may have watched ghost hunting shows on t.v. that go to different places to investigate hauntings and then tell the results of their findings? Well we are not saying that they are not true, just the fact that the evidence is not there to support their claims.
Well this is where our haunting is different from all the rest, WE ACTUALLY HAVE REAL VIDEO OF OBJECTS BEING MOVED BY AN UN-SEEN FORCE!

We believe this is evidence that before now has never been captured by anyone, anywhere! If it has, then I say to all these producers and story writers, prove it!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Miskatonic Acid Test is ALIVE!

Call upon the Elder Gods and give thanks, for the trailer of Maine's own Dark Lord Rob's upcoming trip-heavy masterpiece, The Miskatonic Acid Test, is now online.
It's HP Lovecraft a-go-go in "The Miskatonic Acid Test", the first feature from American Entropy Productions. It's 1969, and cosmic horror infects a psychedelic rock "happening" in witch-haunted Arkham, Mass. It's a zonked out brew of poetry, philosophy, cosmic horror, and 60's-style acid rock; probably the first horror movie that's more heavily influenced by the Monkees' "Head" than by George Romero... This is the official trailer.
View the trailer here!

If you dig the tunes, please pop over to Dark Lord Rob's YouTube page to see footage of various initiates of the Arkham Sound roster, including such bands as The Barrow Wights, The Conqueror Wyrms, The Plasma Miasma, and the Gyre Falcons.
In 1969 a group of students at Miskatonic University in witch-haunted Arkham, Massachusetts decided to emulate the West Coast and put on their own sort of "happening", where "music and atmosphere could combine to create an alteration of consciousness," with the clandestine help of a little LSD. Or maybe a lot. However, it is said that one should be very careful when experimenting with the nether regions of consciousness, particularly when one's psychedelic event is occuring under the watchful eye of a philosophy professor who specializes in the study of Evil, and most particularly when that selfsame professor has access to the darker realms of the Miskatonic University library, where reside ancient tomes that should never be read under any circumstances, especially not aloud, and especially not in front of a crowd, and most especially not in front of a crowd that is under the effects of mind-altering drugs...

Filmed in the summer of 2005 in Middleboro, Massachusetts, The Miskatonic Acid Test is one of the most ambitious motion pictures ever attempted on a shoestring budget. Inspired by the work of early twentieth-century pulp horror author H.P. Lovecraft and told in the style of a 1960's documentary, the movie's concept is described by its writer/director, Dark Lord Rob as "sort of like Monterey Pop, only at the end monsters attack everybody."

The movie, currently being edited for anticipated 2007 festival dates, features a talented young cast headed by Boston actors Erika Dyer and Sam Cohan. With a witty, literate script featuring over two dozen speaking parts, a small herd of extras, a faux coterie of psychedelic rock bands (performing vintage-styled original compositions created especially for the movie), light shows, and special effects, the movie strives to achieve much more than the average indie horror feature.

One of the most interesting and ambitious features of the movie is its creation of "The Arkham Sound", positing a unique musical identity for the various rock groups playing in the fictional town of Arkham in the late 60's. Over a dozen "bands" were created for the movie, four of which appear in the movie as stage acts and the rest of which lend atmosphere as their various regional "hits" are played over a portable radio during early scenes. The songs, created by Dark Lord Rob (a critically acclaimed songwriter from the first garage/psychedelic revival, ex-The Not Quite) and Jim Terry, a Portland-based musician/engineer, are top-flight recreations of the era and are now available as a triple-CD set.

Writer/Director/Actor Dark Lord Rob, formerly lead singer and bass player with The Not Quite is the founder of American Entropy Productions, overseeing a wildly ambitious slate of zany projects. The Miskatonic Acid Test, starring Erika Dyer, Sam Cohan, Jonathan Silver, Shawn French, Emily Griffin, and Chris Lobdell, was produced by Jasmine Koushki. Director of Photography: Eric Angra. Written and Directed by Dark Lord Rob.
Dark Lord Rob can be contacted in various ways, but the easiest and least diabolical method is to e-mail him at darklordrob[at]americanentropy.com.

Police Scanner Tidbits

In the August 3, 2006, issue of the Windham Independent, the Police Scanner mentions a few interesting items.
July 28, 12:07pm -- Steven D. Sanborn, 36, or Portland and Gloria J. Santamore, 65, of Biddeford were arrested at Wal-Mart for attempting to steal a cart full of lobsters. Officer Ray Williams made the arrest.
Apparently they were hungry. How did they think they were going to sneak out with a CART FULL of lobsters?!
July 27, 7:52pm -- Someone on Falmouth Road reported hearing gunshots. Officers Paul Cox and Wayne Cote investigated but heard nothing.
Yes, but did they SEE anything?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Strange Lights in Skowhegan

Readers who followed the story out of Industry, Maine, last week about strange lights witnessed by a former naval intelligence tech will be further interested in some October happenings I just dug up elsewhere. A person who spends a lot of time at their camp in Skowhegan reported on ufoinfo.com about weird events they experienced this October. Click here to read the full account.
I would like to report something that's really strange, but am not sure it's a UFO.

I have a hunting camp located on an old abandoned county road. It's rather isolated being 2.5 miles in the woods from a small village, and there is no power supply.

On Wednesday evening (October 11th), while looking out the front window of my camp towards the end of a field, I saw what I thought were headlights coming up over a small hill, on the main road . Suddenly they made a 90 degree right turn, (where there is no road), and shined in the direction of the woods for a very brief time, and then they went out. Then, in the same direction, a very bright area appeared approx. 100 ft. from the main road. It was a huge glow which lit up the the whole tree-line (which was emanating from the ground upwards) just behind the big tall firs. It also lit up all the other surrounding woods. At first, I thought it might be a helicopter, but I didn't hear a helicopter sound. And, the light wasn't a single beam coming down from the sky, it was emanating from the ground upwards, and lighting up the whole surrounding area.

Then, the brilliant glow that lit up the whole area started moving around my camp. First it would be beside the camp at a distance of approx. 50 yds., then it would move around to the back, where it appeared to be a little closer. Then it would move back to it's original position at the distant end of the field, down into a small valley.

At this point I became concerned. While it was moving , I could see beams of light shining from it onto the face of the trees, and in through my camp windows. As it moved closer to the camp, I became very frightened and wanted to leave, but it was dark, and I didn't dare to go outside long enough to get into my Jeep. I then found a "safe bunkbed" where the lights were partially blocked by the inside structure of the camp, and curled up in my sleeping bag like " a scared rabbit" for quite a while, until the lights made their way back down towards the end of the field , where they were the farthest from the camp.

I then got up enough courage to look out one of the front windows with binoculars to see what/where the lights were coming from. But, every time I did this, my view was always obscured by the trees/woods, or a small hill above the valley at the end of the field. When it was in that valley I could see the entire outline of the big tall fir trees, the adjacent woods, and the entire field, but I still could not see the source of the brilliant light. (In retrospect, I think that "whatever it was", always kept itself surrounded by the firs/hardwoods, --a buffer zone-- so that it couldn't be seen).

Then it would leave the valley and make it's way back up to my camp, always skirting the backside of the firs and hardwoods, until it got around to the back of it . Then it would start heading back towards the field via the same route. I don't know how close "whatever it was" got to the camp because every time it started getting closer, I slid down further into my sleeping bag, closed my eyes, and prayed. This continued throughout the night, until morning.
Man, if I was out alone in the woods and subjected to this kind of thing, I think I'd be a "scared rabbit" too. Be sure to read the rest of the post, as daytime run-ins with bizarre noises occurs to our witness. The site also has a number of other reports from Maine over a range of dates, including both recent and historic ones.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ever Feel Like A Comic Book Character?

Loren Coleman has found his way into the inky pages of the comic book industry a few times. Great coverage with color artwork examples on his page here.

The Maine Mutant in 1906?

Guest post by Loren Coleman:

from the
Lewiston Sun Journal
Looking Back

Monday, November 13, 2006

[November 13, 1906 - 100 Years Ago]

The hunters over Kenduskeag way are on the trail of a strange animal which has been haunting the woods and pastures in that vicinity for some months past. This animal, according to stories of those who have seen it, seems to be a hybrid of some sort, perhaps a cross between a bear and a bobcat. Only a week ago the animal was seen in a pasture near the road at Worcester's siding. The animal was apparently hunting for field mice and paid little attention to the people in the carriage driving along the road.

Bizarre Sports Team Unearthed

Recent delvings into the strongholds of a local book and record collector unearthed one of the strangest Portland Press Herald news clippings I've ever seen. Just take a look and see for yourself -- be sure to read the caption.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Not That Kind of Hoe

The Portland Press Herald reported in their Maine/New England dispatches for the 11/4/06 issue of the paper published the following item, detailing creative use of a tool for a break in.
Man charged with using backhoe in house break-in

A man broke into a home Thursday evening by using the owner's backhoe to break open a bulkhead to gain entrance, said Lt. Susan Nourse of the Freeport Police Department. The homeowner arrived home about 5:30pm to find the man in the house, Nourse said. The homeowner called police and the man waited quietly and did not resist when Sgt. Nathaniel Goodman and Officer Gino Biachini arrived and arrested him, she said.

Nourse said James P. Ruane, 52, was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and theft by unauthorized taking -- for using the backhoe without permission.

Ruane's last known address was in Saco, but "he's better described as transient," she said.

She declined to identify the victim, but said the incident took place on a street off Route 1, near the Brunswick line. The damage done to the bulkhead and home was estimated at $1,300, Nourse said.
Now THAT'S breaking and entering.

Mystery Aircraft in Western Maine

As noted by Loren Coleman on the Strange Maine group page, the Lewiston Sun Journal has posted a remarkable story from a man in the western Maine town of Industry. Please keep in mind that a UFO is precisely what the acronym stands for: an unidentified flying object.

In the Sun Journal article comments, Mark LaFlamme replies to a commenters post about an incident in Green, Maine, 2 years ago, in which residents were startled by what later turned out to be a fly boy who was buzzing his father's house while piloting a craft into Brunswick Naval Air Station.
Lewiston Sun Journal - Lewiston, ME, USA
Flying object spooks man
By Maggie Gill-Austern , Staff Writer
Saturday, November 11, 2006

INDUSTRY - Former naval intelligence crypto-tech Brad Luker is a down-to-earth kind of guy. At 40, he's a father and a husband, works as a power plant operator, and walks the straight and narrow. He doesn't believe in Bigfoot, aliens or the Loch Ness monster.

So when he saw strange bright lights in the sky above him Tuesday night, he assumed it was a helicopter, or maybe a small plane. Only when he opened the door to his truck, expecting to hear the whir of chopper blades above him, did he start to wonder what the craft could be.

"It was really bizarre," he said. "I've never seen anything like it. I do a lot of camping, and I've seen all the basic stuff (in the sky)," he said. Most strange things in the sky are high up in the air, he said. "This was way, way down here."

It was so low to the ground, and so brightly lit, at first he thought there must be something going on at the Industry town hall. "I thought 'wow, that's kinda neat,'" Luker said. As he got closer, though, Luker realized the lights were coming from something about 300 feet above him. That was when he pulled over, and opened his door. It sounded like a quiet jet engine. Luker was mystified, and a little nervous.

A woman driving in an SUV behind him saw it, too, Luker said. He never got her name, and wishes now that he had. She said she thought it looked like an aircraft trying to land on the road, Luker said.

"I know the Navy has some real funky special top-secret aircraft out there," he said. "That's the only thing I could think that it could be."

Then it stopped - right above his head, for a few seconds. "That's when it really freaked me out," he said. He'd have thought it was a spaceship, he said, except he doesn't believe in spaceships.

It could be a UFO, Leland Bechtel, former director of Maine's chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (or MUFON), said Thursday. "There has been a lot of activity there in the past," Bechtel said. He did an investigation in Farmington a few years ago, he said. Three college students - all very respectable - saw something somewhat similar to what Luker saw. "This thing came directly over them, and stopped, with a powerful floodlight right down on them."

Police said it might be a helicopter, Bechtel said. But most people can tell when they're seeing a helicopter, and when they're not. Could what Luker saw be a UFO? "It certainly has earmarks of being an unidentified flying object," Bechtel said. "And we don't know what they are. We don't know where they come from."
Bechtel, like Luker, is a well-respected man. He taught psychology at Bates College in Lewiston for years and only became involved in the world of UFOs by accident, after he began hearing stories of sighting by people he considered sane, and credible.

"I've investigated scores of reported sightings in Maine," he said, "by some of the finest, most respectable people that I've met, and they're not kidding, and they're not deluded." He's not sure what they are, nor convinced they're from outer space. "I'm open to all possibilities," he said. "I think it just stands to reason that some of the sightings have been experimental aircraft of our own government. But there are plenty of others that do not appear, to me, to be anything that we have developed."

"I started very skeptical. I'm not skeptical anymore," Bechtel said. "I just have questions, rather than answers. But I do feel certain there is reality there that needs to be investigated."

Luker, too, has no answers. "I talked to the police and (the dispatcher) said even if the military was flying some special mission, they wouldn't tell us anyway. I felt kinda foolish." Calls to Brunswick Naval Air Station were not returned Friday. Dispatchers in Franklin, Androscoggin, Oxford, Somerset and Kennebec counties said they received no calls about strange objects in the sky Tuesday night.

"I assumed if I saw it, a couple other people might see it," Luker said. "As I drove away I was thinking hey, maybe they gave me some sort of special intelligence," he joked. "I told my wife I wished they gave me the Powerball numbers." He laughed.

In the end, Luker said, he thinks it was probably a military plane. "But I don't know why they would fly it that low, and I don't know why they would be out in Industry, Maine," he said. "It really doesn't make sense. But that's the only thing I can think of, because I really don't believe in spaceships, or anything like that."


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Clowning Around At Election Time

Among the articles I clipped earlier this year was this great shot from the Windham Independent back in their August 3rd issue, page 15. At the time I could hardly believe it. AJ the clown (Bill Wilson of Windham, Maine), who in 2002 ran as a write-in candidate for governor of Maine, is running again this year. So do not delay! Cast your vote today -- IT'S VOTING DAY!!! And in Portland, at least, the polls opened at 7:00am.

According to the Windham Independent, AJ is running his campaign as before, "to raise awareness for Shriners and have some fun with the political process." They add, "No need to worry about dirty campaigning from AJ, but perhaps gubernatorial candidates should keep an eye out for flying pies." If only!

I saw some full-color photo signs put up for AJ and his running mate, Pretty the clown, near the Brighton/Deering Ave. intersection here in Portland, and wish I had gotten a photo of them before the vehement weather of the last couple of weeks had its way with them (they had disappeared as of last week). Anyone who has one that wants to send it my way after the election is done today, please send it to Michelle Souliere, P.O. Box 8203, Portland, ME 04104. Seriously.

Photo by Tony Bessey.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lifesized Plywood Sheriff Brigade Running Rampant

Ted Blais has found an interesting way to attract attention to his candidacy for Sheriff. He’s fashioned 80 plywood sheriff silhouettes which are moved each morning to a new high traffic location.

photos from Blais for Sheriff website

Press Herald article on the eye catching signage

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

President of Story Land, dead at 50

Stoney Morrell, president of New Hampshire's Story Land, has died of cancer. Stoney's parents, Ruth and Bob Morrell, opened Story Land in 1954 in Glen, NH, two years before Stoney was born. Stoney spent much of his youth at Story Land, an idyllic place for a child. As an adult, he tried his hand at ranching before returning to the family theme park in the early 1980s. Stoney believed in providing a family friendly, traditional theme park, instead of succumbing to the usual fancy neon lights or rides with a big scare factor.

Story Land was a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I particularly enjoyed the antique cars. Not being anywhere near an age to drive, I remember trying to get around the entire track without touching the rail that kept the cars from veering off into the grass and maiming someone. I don't think I ever made it.

Stoney's obituary

A tribute to Stoney

The Morrell family and Story Land history

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wanted: Haunted House

This item appeared in the Daily Kennebec Journal of May 24, 1905:
A man has advertised in a Lewiston newspaper for a haunted house, situated anywhere in the State of Maine. According to one report he wants it as a place of residence for some of his wife's people. It may be suspected, however, that his plan is to have some place in which to keep up spirits during the dry time now prevailing in the Pine Tree State.

Bin Laden Captured in Maine

Thanks for the lightning-fast tipoff from guest poster Carl on the Strange Maine Google site. Carl says, "Apparently he hates taxes too."

Full story here: http://news.mainetoday.com/updates/007754.html
Thomas J. Connolly, of Scarborough, a prominent defense attorney and 1998 Democratic candidate for governor was charged with criminal threatening this morning after an incident beside Interstate 295.

South Portland police were notified around 9 a.m. that a man wearing a rubber Osama bin Laden mask was standing on top of a berm along the highway carrying a sign that said “I Love Tabor,” and waving what appeared to be an assault rifle.

Four South Portland officers and two state troopers converged on the man. They drew their guns when he did not respond to their demand that he drop his weapon.

Police said instead he walked toward them dropping plastic hand grenades. His costume included fake dynamite and bandoliers, police said.

He eventually did drop the rifle, which turned out to be a toy and was arrested, at which time the man was identified as Connolly. He was taken to the Cumberland County Jail.

"The whole thing is just incredibly bizarre," said South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins. "It just crossed the line."

Connolly met with reporters briefly after posting bail to secure his release. Criminal threatening is a misdemeanor.

"There was a First Amendment this morning when I woke up. I don't know how it evaporated with the dawn," he said.

Connolly, a Portland attorney, has been known for wearing costumes to make political statements, typically donning a George W. Bush mask and dancing herky-jerky style for passing motorists. His wife has described him as "marvelously eccentric."
Connolly was carrying a sign that said "I love TABOR," a reference to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on the ballot a week from today. But at least one of the people who saw it thought it said "I love the Taliban," Googins said.
Boy, what I wouldn't give for video of all of this. WOW! Mr. Connolly is nothing if not a character.

Those interested in the most affordable Bin Laden costume yet should check out these smart alecks' version, at Cheapie Creepys.

It's ALIIIIIIVE!!! Maine Impact Interview!

Happy Halloween, everyone! As a special treat, the guys over at the recently established Maine Impact broadcast website have a new podcast up which includes (at about the 13:30 time mark) an interview with yours truly, about the Strange Maine blog. Take a listen, I hope you all enjoy it! No tricks, I promise.

Strange Maine interview on the 10/31/06 Maine Impact Podcast
You'll be able to either listen to it on their embedded player, or download an MP3 of the interview via the little "AUDIO MP3" logo below the audiostream. The conversation swoops about through a number of Strange Maine elements, and wraps up with some fresh new goodies -- a wild new urban legend from Hallowell (more on this later on our blog), and a shivery ghost story that few people have heard before outside of my immediate family.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Back from the Dead

Okay. Fortified by the eerie glee of Dan Blakeslee's Halloween performance last night at Bubba's (which featured the also excellent Hot Rod Fury and Dead End Armory, not to mention the incomparably spooky DJ sounds of Matt Little), I am going to have a go at typing all this stuff up again, because I want you all to know about some cool stuff that's going on between now and Halloween. Wish me luck!!!


M I S E R Y novel by Stephen King
WHEN: Friday October 27, 2006 8:00pm, Saturday October 28, 2006 8:00pm, Sunday October 29, 2006 2:00pm
$: Ticket Price $20 Canadian
WHAT: Adapted by Simon Moore, produced by Capitol Theatre and Theatre Windsor. Misery is the story of Annie Wilkes, an obsessed fan of author Paul Sheldon. Misery is a psychological thriller certain to send shivers down your spine. You don't want to miss this one, and trust us...you don't want to make Annie angry. When you look into the abyss.....the abyss also looks into you. See Annie come to life like never before... She's back... and she's SCARIER than ever. Warning: Extreme language and violence
WHERE: Capitol Theatre and Arts Centre, Windsor
FMI: Call the Capitol at 519-253-7729 or on the web at www.capitol.on.ca


Haunted House
WHEN: Friday October 27, 2006 from 5pm to 7pm, Saturday October 28, 2006 from 6pm to 9pm
WHAT:Haunted House for all Ages. Put on by the Athens Rec Dept and the 8th grade class.
$: Free, but will take donations. All donations will go to help sponsoer 8th grade class Boston Trip.
WHERE: Athens Exhibition Hall, RT 150 Athens, across from Jim's Variety. FMI: Athens Rec, 431-1132


House of Frankenstein
WHEN: 8 p.m., Friday (10/27)and Saturday (10/28)
WHAT: Baron Frankenstein is bored trying to bring life to the lifeless so he instead tries to rid people of their vices. What?! Spend an evening rattling about between laughter and terror at this play.
WHERE: Waldo Theatre, 916 Main Street, Waldoboro
$: $12, or $7 for students
FMI: 832-6060 for reservations


Halloween Silent Film Night -- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
WHEN: TODAY! Friday, October 27. Costume contest at 7:00 p.m. (contestants should arrive before 6:45 for entry), film plays at 7:30 p.m.
WHAT: See this 1923 classic silent horror film accompanied as it should be by the gigantic, thundering Kotzschmar Organ! Guest organist Scott Foppiano will set the scene. Portland Ballet will perform two brief pieces, "Danse Macabre" and "The Funeral March for a Marionette," just before the film starts. Wow! Two of my spooky favorites.
WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street, Portland
$: $10 suggested donation, $5 for folks in costumes, free for children under age 10.
FMI: Friends of the Kotzschmar online or possibly PortTix can also help at 842-0800


Haunted Hayrides
WHEN: beginning at 6:30pm every night through Halloween
WHERE: Next to Scarborough Downs, Route 1, Scarborough
$: $12, or $8 for children ages 6-12, free for children under 6. Cash only -- these ghouls like the old-fashioned stuff and do not accept credit or debit cards!
FMI: 885-5935 for reservations (encouraged)


Wharf Rats
WHEN: Friday Oct 27, Saturday Oct 28 at 7:30 pm, Tuesday Oct 31 at 9:00 pm (Halloween Show!), Thursday Nov 2 and Friday Nov 3 at 7:30 pm, Friday Nov 10 and Saturday Nov 11 at 7:30 pm
WHAT: Performed by Running Over Productions (infamous zombie-mongers so dear to my heart). An Original Suspense Thriller by Keith Anctil, Directed by Ariel Francoeur. Fog. Booze. Vermin. Murder.
$: $8 in advance at any Bull Moose Music location, $10 at the door.
WHERE: Presumpscot Grange Hall, on 1844 Forest Avenue (across the street from Tortilla Flats)
FMI:653-8898 (Joshua Douglas) or 409-3949 (Will Stewart)


The Passion of Dracula
WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30pm Sundays, through Nov. 12
WHAT: In a fresh-blooded version of the classic tale, director Michael Rafkin has done away with the stereotypical male predator/protector roles and given the stage over to a new breed of Draculas and Van Helsings. Do not fear, there are plenty of fangs and stakes through the heart still.
WHERE: Portland Players, 420 Cottage Road, South Portland
$: $17 opening night (10/27), $20 all other shows except for seniors ($18) and students ($15). No word on whether blood donors get a discount.
FMI: 799-7337 for reservations


All Hallow's Eve Horror Ball
WHEN: Saturday October 28, 9pm
WHAT: You'll not only see Goth darlings By Blood Alone, but also Taming the Shrew AND Covered in Bees. Taming the Shrew are a perfect Halloween band with angst and darkness running throughout songs like "Chamber of Thrills" and "Contessa." Covered in Bees are a Portland "death punk" band who like to sing about "Zombees," "Swamp Man," and care about their fans enough to warn them about dark woods and witches. 21+ show. Everyone's going to be in costume, so raid the wardrobe closet and show 'em what you've got!
WHERE: Pub 33, 33 Sabattus Street, Lewiston
$: FREE!
FMI: 786-4808


Ghost Train
WHEN: trains run hourly, at 4:00/5:00/6:00p.m., Saturday Oct 28 and Sunday Oct 29
WHAT: Halloween surprises along the track! Wear your costume on the train! Prizes for most creative costumes (age groups 5 and under, 6 to 12 years, and 13 years and over). Tour the decorated museum with its cabooses, parlor car, and ancient railroad artifacts!
WHERE: Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co., 58 Fore Street, Portland
$: $10, or $9 for adults age 62 and older, $6 for children ages 3-12, free for children under 3
FMI: 828-0814 or www.mngrr.org

A Haunted House
WHEN: Saturday, October 28, 6 to 10 p.m. Pretty scary at 6 p.m., very scary after 8 p.m.!
WHERE: North Yarmouth Academy, Yarmouth
$: $1 to $2 donation
FMI: 846-9051, ext. 357


A Victorian Halloween Magic Lantern Show
WHEN: Saturday, October 28, 7:00pm in Bangor, and Sunday at 2:30pm in Rockland
WHAT: Travel back in time with the boisterous fun of America’s only Victorian magic-lantern show. An authentic 1890s visual extravaganza projected on a full-sized screen…the kind of show that led to the movies! Halloween stories like Poe’s "The Raven", spooky animated comedy and outrageous songs—all dramatized on screen by a live showman and singer/pianist. The audience participates in the fun, creating sound effects, and joining in chants and hilarious sing-alongs! National Public Radio called it “… a living national treasure!” Produced by River City Cinema and the American Magic Lantern Theater
SATURDAY SHOW: Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School, 885 Broadway, Bangor
SUNDAY SHOW: The Strand Theatre, Main Street, Rockland
SATURDAY SHOW: Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for 18 and under. Tickets available NOW at BookMarc's, 78 Harlow Street, Downtown Bangor and Borders at the Bangor Mall!
SUNDAY SHOW: Tickets are $12, $6 for anyone under 18.
SATURDAY SHOW: 989-9494 or for more information visit www.rivercitycinema.com
SUNDAY SHOW: www.rocklandstrand.com or call 594-0070


Spooky Stories
WHEN: Sunday, October 29, 2:00p.m.
WHAT: Storytelling by flashlight, with treats. Costumes are encouraged!
WHERE: Children's Museum of Maine, 142 Free Street, Portland
$: $6, free for infants under 1
FMI: 828-1234


Tales of the Supernatural
WHEN: Monday October 30, 7:00-9:00pm
WHAT: Storytellers Lynne Cullen, Lorna Stengel, and Jennifer Armstrong tell spooky tales for adults from England, Ireland and Scotland and from the Romany people.
$: Free, donations accepted.
WHERE: Bull Feeney's, 375 Fore Street, Portland


Party of the Undead
WHEN: Sunday, October 29, 10:00pm
WHAT: The Queers, Covered in Bees and Famous rock your socks off. Dress to impress! Costumes are encouraged (I know I'll be in one!).
WHERE: Geno's, 625 Congress Street, Portland
$: ? (usually around $5-$8)
FMI: 772-7891

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ghastly Goings-On

Well, I just spent over an hour typing up all the events that are going on this weekend, but then Blogger (or Internet Explorer) just *pfft* spirited them away in a blink, so since I don't have time to re-type it all, I'm afraid you're going to have to find a copy of the Portland Press Herald's "GO" section from today which has a massive day-by-day listing of the Halloween weekend events into next week! Great stuff! Go look now!!!


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More Creepy Halloween Hauntings

Doug Harlow over at the Morning Sentinel reports on several terrifying new haunt attraction that will be open for Halloween weekend, some are even free of charge (although you may wind up paying in blood)!

Photo by Jeff Poulan shows T-Mobile senior manager Dan Digirolamo standing along The Haunted Trail.
A creaking door; the flash of moonlight on a sharpened knife blade.

A face peers from the shadows with a toothless, wicked grin -- then all is quiet.

Too quiet, perhaps.

Be careful this weekend. Be very careful -- after all, it is Halloween.
At T-Mobile on Kennedy Memorial Drive at the Waterville-Oakland line, the company's first Haunted Trail is set to run from 6-11 p.m. Saturday in the dark woods near the call-center headquarters.
"It is a haunted trail; it's going to be at nighttime and we are building things that are meant to be a little heart pumping -- certainly not for the little kids; but children, young adults and adults are all welcome."

Digirolamo, of Waterville, said the setting for the scary trail is a macabre logging camp where the chop-chop of the woodsman's ax means getting warm twice, as they say -- once from the fire itself and once from the hot blood of the victims.
The event is free of charge. The rain date is Sunday.

The haunted trail will include scary windows and scary doors along the trail, which runs about a one-third of a mile. There also will be graveyards, a scary wedding and a dark tunnel of some kind -- Digirolamo would not reveal much more.

He said T-Mobile has paid for much of the material and employee hours, but there also have been donations of time and lumber for the structures of the haunted logging camp.

"When the sun goes down on October 28," the Haunted Trail poster reads. "The screams are for real."
Over in Skowhegan, the Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its annual Haunted Halloween Hayride at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday. Rides will go from 6-9 p.m. The rain date is Sunday.
And in Waterville, Colby College will hold its ninth annual Children's Halloween Extravaganza on Saturday from noon-3 p.m. The event is free and designed for children under 11.
In Clinton this year another Haunted Trail is scheduled to run Saturday from 7:30-10:30 p.m. at 499 Canaan Road.

"Come join the fun and be scared," is the rallying cry from the Clinton Haunted Trail "Enter at your own risk."

The trail can be found on Canaan Road, also known as Route 23, on the right about two miles from the Hinckley Bridge.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fort Knox Goes Bump in the Night

Once again, the folks up at Fort Knox are letting the demons and ghouls out to play! Tina Shute has a photo essay up on the Waldo Village Soup webpage that gives some tasty previews of the scares in store for you!

"The popular Halloween haunting will also be held 5:30-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27 and 28. Cost is $5 per person.

In addition, 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, is Kids Day, a tamed-down version of Fright at the Fort, which includes a costume contest and a parade. Cost is $3 per person."

Howling Halloween Stories

We've all got a few of them! In Portland, the area behind Deering High School became what was known as "The War Zone" on Halloween night. The trick or treaters that ventured out after dark who encountered their peers never knew quite what would happen next. Rumors abounded about goo-flinging sprees involving substances as varied as whipped cream, ketchup, and mustard, all the way over to the extreme of squirting Nair on victims' heads. You remember Nair, right? That white creamy goo that girls spread on their legs to melt the leghairs off? "We wear short shorts" commercials? Yeah, that's the stuff.

The first Halloween I spent in the Old Port, circa 1987, I encountered some of the best costumes I've ever seen, before or since. First there was the trio of pine trees. Then there was a trio of bananas. The guy with the huge mohawk standing outside of the State Street Church waiting for the Stagnation all-ages show to start didn't count. (Little did I know I'd have a mohawk of my own within a few years!) However, the guy dressed as a Ghostbuster who was chasing a monster up and down Exchange Street DEFINITELY counted. Cap it all off by sneaking into the R-rated "Lost Boys" which was then playing at the Nickelodeon Cinemas on Temple Street, and you've got yourself a great Halloween night!

So, what's YOUR Maine Halloween story?

Rats! A Tale of Too Many Tails

Local newspapers had a field day beginning in late September with news out of Richmond, Maine, that rats were running rampant in the town. Headlines included "Richmond residents revolted by ravenous rodents" and "Parents pepper officials with questions about rats."

The issue became full-blown when local parents received a September 22nd letter that informed them that the Marcia Buker School was one of the recipients of this rat population explosion. Parents' main contentions were over the fact that the rats had been in evidence at the school since June, but exterminators weren't hired to deal with the problem until mid-September.

"Principal Deborah Soule said rats have been crawling out of the ceilng tiles at night and doing a little chewing. She said there have been no sightings in the hallway by children, but one staff member saw a rat running across the parking lot and another said she thought she saw a little face peeking out of a ceiling tile." [Source]

Monday, October 23, 2006

EVENT: Wacky WCSH Film Archives

Northeast Historic Film 20th Anniversary Celebration and Screening:

The WCSH Collection
November 9
Maine Historical Society
489 Congress Street
Portland, Maine

Hosted by David Weiss, Executive Director, Northeast Historic Film.

This program will celebrate NHF’s 20th anniversary by highlighting one intriguing corner of their large archive: the WCSH Collection (1954-1998). Consisting of hundreds of hours of news footage, television documentaries, and advertisements, the collection documents life in Maine over a nearly fifty year period. Featuring everything from a 1957 forest fire, to political campaigns, to a 1978 disco competition, to Samantha Smith. Please join us for a look back at some entertaining, surprising, poignant, and funny selections from this important collection.

Refreshments will be served.
Free and open to the public.

Maine Historical Society

Guerilla Move Against Towing Pirates

In a surprise move, a Portland city councilor has turned the tables on local car towing renegades who have long held this cities' downtown residents in thrall. Any Portlander who has been awoken by the doom-laden sound of towtruck gear on the street outside their apartment, or has had to deal with the drivers' cutthroat attitudes when trying to get their car back before it gets towed away, will be happy to read this account.
Gorham bans towing on Munjoy Hill
Secret move prompted by anger over wreckers’ practices
By Chris Busby
October 20, 2006

(photo/Mich Ouellette)
Portland City Councilor Will Gorham had had enough. Tow truck drivers on Munjoy Hill had been speeding through the neighborhood, blocking streets, and bullying residents for months, he said. Then, this past summer, came the incident that finally pushed Gorham "over the edge."

A wrecker had a car on its hook, but had not yet moved the vehicle. The charge to get an unmoved car off the hook is $25; once it's been moved, it's $65. The wrecker driver saw the car's owners, an elderly couple, come out of their house to retrieve their vehicle. According to Gorham, the driver then "jumped in his truck, moved it two feet, and said, ‘Now you owe me $65.'" The couple did not have that much cash on them, so their vehicle was towed away.

"I said ‘F*ck this,'" Gorham recalled, and he got in touch with City Manager Joe Gray. "I said, ‘I want towing suspended immediately,'" and following a meeting with Gray, city parking division head John Peverada and members of the police department, Gorham got his way.
Gorham, who represents District 1 (the East End, downtown and islands) has kept the tow ban a secret, even from fellow City Councilors, because, he said, "I didn't want people taking advantage of it" by leaving their cars on the wrong side of the street. He also expressed concern City Councilor Karen Geraghty, who represents the West End and Parkside, will demand towing be resumed on the Hill.
"Tow truck drivers are out of control," Gorham said. "They don't give a sh*t." As another example of wrecker drivers' alleged callousness, Gorham noted the incident this past summer when a tow truck struck and killed a wayward moose on the Hill.

The drivers had been "acting like a bunch of freakin' renegade cowboys or something," he said. "We told them to slow down, and they gave us a big ‘F*ck you.'"
Gorham's other challenger, Kevin Donoghue, could not be reached for comment this afternoon. Neither could Gray, Geraghty or several other councilors contacted shortly before this article was posted. Councilor Cheryl Leeman, who represents East Deering, reacted to the news Gorham had done this by saying, "Good for him."

"It's the responsibility of the district councilor to take action, and he did that," Leeman said.

"I will be the first and foremost to say we have some tow truck drivers that give everybody else a bad reputation," Leeman continued. "They are relentless about this pursuit of $65 to an awful lot of innocent people. This has been an ongoing complaint for as long as I can remember."

Wrecker drivers "get a bad rap for a good reason," Leeman said, though she added not all the drivers are unscrupulous.

The Bollard was unable to reach any tow companies doing business for the city late this afternoon. Peverada said he's gotten no feedback from wrecker drivers about this decision.

Gorham has. "The tow truck drivers hate me for it," he said.

Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard. He can be reached at editor[at]thebollard.com.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Scared by Paper

The Morning Sentinel reported today about events in Shawmut, Maine, that took place on Tuesday (Oct 17), sending local emergency responders scrambling for their HAZMAT suits as they descended upon the small town. The mystery "white powder" turned out to just be paper dust, but responders are viewing the event as an effective test of their response times and resources.
Dust kicks up a scare
Staff Writer
Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc

FAIRFIELD -- Dozens of emergency responders descended on the rural village of Shawmut, off U.S. Route 201, Tuesday after a woman reported being burned by a white, powdery substance contained in her electric bill.

The substance, Fairfield police said later in the day, turned out to be nothing more than paper dust.
Police and fire officials said a call was received about 11:25 a.m. from the home of Grace and David MacKenzie on Bray Avenue, near a church in the picturesque village center. Police said Grace MacKenzie reported opening her electric bill from Central Maine Power Co. and immediately experienced burns and the numbing of her hands from a white, powdery material.

Hazardous materials units -- 40 or 50 people in all -- from Skowhegan, Sappi Fine Paper and Waterville were sent to the scene and set up trucks and equipment for decontamination. The MacKenzies, said to be in their 70s, were escorted from the house and hosed down in a special decontamination tent.

Capt. David LaFountain of the Waterville Fire Department, acting Tuesday as the hazardous materials operation chief for Team 5, also known as the Central Maine Emergency Response Team, said early theories had the material being a kind of corrosive chemical, such as Draino or sodium hydroxide.

"She did notice immediate burns to her hands and (she) was also symptomatic that it did create whitening spots on her skin, and there was relief when she went to the sink to wash it off," LaFountain said.

LaFountain said later in the day, after the material was determined to have been paper dust, that the incident could have been the result of two separate, unrelated events.

"My guess is that she was exposed to a chemical before she opened the letter and that caused the problem," he said. "It could have been two separate events -- opening the envelope was a coincidence.
Bob Higgins, director of the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency, said all the training done by the hazmat teams proved valuable Tuesday in a flawless response.

"This has been a combined effort between Somerset and Kennebec counties for a three- or four-year period for this," Higgins said. "These are trained specialists and they've put in a lot of time and effort in obtaining this training to provide protection for the citizens.

"Overall, it's gone real well -- you see it right here," he said. "The training always pays off."

Doug Harlow -- 861-9244 -- dharlow[at]centralmaine.com

Monday, October 16, 2006

Congratulatory Cake in the Face

In the wake of the Windham girls' varsity soccer homecoming win over Kennebunk, coach Wally LeBlanc was ambushed and force-fed a messy congratulatory dessert. Kudos to Windham Independent photographer Shawn French for catching a shot of the aftermath!

Who doesn't like a little cake in the face?

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Banner Day for Maine's Mystery Beast

Check out the banner Paul Szauter created for Sunday's Mount Desert Island Marathon. It fancifully depicts the mystery beast found dead in Turner in August, and proven to be a dog a couple of weeks later.

Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo asks:
So, is there anyone reading this that is running in the MDI Marathon? Can you pick up this banner for my museum’s collection? :-)
Update: Loren is indeed getting his banner.

Gravestone Artwear

Gravestone Artwear in York Harbor creates "Unusual products reflecting the evolution of early gravestone carving in New England." Products include T-shirts, cloaks, and sorcerer's pouches (perfect for the Harry Potter lover in your life).

Maine Reporter of the Year: LaFlamme!

Congratulations and much in the way of back-thumpings and arm-pumpings and a gargantuan "HURRAH!" to shake the rafters is due to the hard-working Lewiston Sun Journal reporter, Mark LaFlamme, who was surprised and overwhelmed by this stunning recognition.

Loren Coleman reports on the events of the October 7th award ceremony here.

LaFlamme is also a bang-up horror writer, recently fledged into the publishing world with his excellent and hair-raising tale The Pink Room. Take note, Mainers!

A 150-Year-Old Load of...

A tipoff from the very helpful Jason has allowed me to bring this exciting and stinky story to you on this lovely Friday the 13th!

In all my years of hearing stories about bats coming in contact with the Average Joe of America, very seldom have I heard such a courteous, common-sense response to them as a part of daily life. Hooray for the little mosquito-eaters! It sounds like these folks have given them a very friendly home all these years.

Hmm... I wonder what they're going to do with all that guano?
Removal of bat droppings from Corinna Town Hall attic costs $7,000
By Sharon Kiley Mack

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - Bangor Daily News

CORINNA - It’s going to be a nasty job, town officials admit, but someone has to do it.

"It’s been building up for 150 years," Town Manager Dalton Mullis said Tuesday, referring to tons of bat guano, or droppings, in the Town Hall attic. The droppings are several inches deep in places. "There is a lot there," Mullis said.

Corinna recently hired Northeastern Environmental Services of Pittsfield to remove the guano, mostly due to air quality concerns.

"Bats are protected," Mullis said, "but we need to remove the guano." The removal, which is part of the Town Hall renovation program, will cost nearly $7,000. Bats in the Town Hall — as in most historic old buildings — are no surprise to town office workers.

"This is a big building, an old building," Mullis said. "Occasionally we see one of the bats down here." The town office is located on the first floor of the three story structure.

"When they come downstairs, we see them quickly because the ceiling is white," Mullis said. But office workers just go about their business, paying no attention to the little mosquito-eaters.

"We don’t pay them any mind," Mullis said. "They find their way out or back up to the attic."

The renovation project includes the attic clean-out, a new ceiling in the auditorium, a roof repair and window restoration.

BLOTTER: Who's Serving Who?

The October 5, 2006, issue of the Windham Independent reported in their Police Scanner column the following:

Sept. 26, 7:11pm -- A 17 year old was charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. He has been released to his parents. Officer Robert Hunt and Sgt. Michael Denbow made the arrest.

Our question is, was he serving himself?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

CFP: Time Out--Images of Play and Leisure in Maine

Eighth Annual Northeast Historic Film Summer Film Symposium
Thursday, July 19 - Saturday, July 21, 2007

Recognizing that play and recreation are integral facets of modern life, the theme of the Eighth Annual Summer Film Symposium is “Time Out: Images of Play and Leisure.” Since the late 19th century Maine has been known as a tourist destination for the original “rusticators,” to tastemakers who turned Acadia into a playground for the rich and famous, to working class families seeking a week of quiet camping and fun.

As Maine’s traditional economic bases in timber and fishing have declined, the state has been transformed into “Vacationland,” and tourism is now recognized as Maine’s largest employer. Other regions around the nation and throughout the world have witnessed similar changes, changes that speak to the increasing importance of play and leisure to individuals in the industrial and post-industrial era.

We invite papers and presentations that explore aspects of play and leisure as a subject of amateur and non-commercial film. We are interested in moving images that offer us a new historical, cultural, and critical understanding of play and leisure.

By examining moving images of play and leisure made by amateurs and for noncommercial purposes the aim of this symposium is to consider the details, diversity and perspectives on play and leisure time. Potential paper topics might include, but are not limited to subjects such as:

  • Involuntary leisure (e.g., TB sanitaria)

  • Work in the tourism/leisure industry

  • Shopping as leisure

  • Back to the land movements

  • Fairs, carnivals and festivals

  • The Playground Movement

  • Religious holidays

  • Hunting and fishing

  • Tourism Dept/Chambers of Commerce Films

  • Gendered play

  • Scientific studies of play

  • Travel by rail, air, automobile

  • Marginalized leisure (nudism, drug use)

  • The NHF Summer Film Symposium is a multi-disciplinary gathering devoted to the history, theory, and preservation of moving images. The Symposium is noted for bringing together archivists, scholars, and artists in an intimate setting. NHF is located in Bucksport, a town of 5,000 on the coast of Maine (for more info about NHF, visit: http://www.oldfilm.org).

    Presenters have a full hour in which to deliver their paper and engage in discussion with their colleagues. Typically, presentations are 30 minutes, including moving images, and followed by 30 minutes of discussion. The symposium is open to archivists, artists and scholars from all disciplines.

    Northeast Historic Film has become internationally recognized for its wide range of amateur, documentary, personal and industrial films of New England’s people and those who visit from throughout the world. NHF is the repository of over six million feet of film and holds an international reputation as a regional archive at the forefront of collecting, preserving and studying our moving image heritage. It houses a 125-seat cinema with 35mm, 16mm, videotape, and DVD projection, and we are looking for presentations that include interesting moving images.

    Please send 250-500 word abstracts outlining your paper ideas to the Symposium Program Committee at the address below. We prefer e-mail submissions, but will accept any format. We are happy to discuss your presentation ideas with you in advance of a formal submission. The Symposium Program Committee will begin reviewing proposals on February 1, 2007.

    Please send proposals and inquiries to:
    Eric Schaefer, NHF Summer Film Symposium Chair
    Department of Visual and Media Arts
    Emerson College
    120 Boylston Street
    Boston, MA 02116

    NOTE: If I recall correctly, I attended a showing of a similar presentation by this group at the Portland Museum of Art a few years ago, and enjoyed myself immensely! Highly recommended. --Michelle

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Help Shed Some Light on a Lighthouse Mystery

    Village Soup, one of my favorite Maine independent newspapers, is trying to drum up some assistance in identifying the mystery man in this old photo of one of Maine's many lighthouse keepers of yore!

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Help needed to identify mystery lighthouse keeper
    By American Lighthouse Foundation

    WELLS (Oct 10): The American Lighthouse Foundation is asking for the public's help in identifying an old photograph of a Maine lighthouse keeper.

    "As we continue to document and record Maine's lost lighthouse history, it's like finding gold when we discover a old photograph of a Maine lighthouse keeper. However, it's very disheartening when you uncover a old photograph and there is no indication of the name of the keeper or what lighthouse or lighthouses he was stationed at," said Tim Harrison, president of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

    "We are hoping that there is a descendant of this person residing in Maine who might recognize him," said Harrison. Another possibility the group hopes for is that someone from one of Maine's many community historical societies might be able to shed some light on who the keeper in the old photograph is.

    "There are some clues," says Harrison who pointed out that the old photo board was embossed with the name of the photographer, which appears to be J.C. Dalph or J. C. Ralph and also is clearly embossed with the name of Southwest Harbor, Maine indicating that the photographer was probably located in Southwest Harbor. "This might well indicate that the keeper was stationed at one of the lighthouses in the vicinity of Southwest Harbor," says Harrison, who continued by saying he might also have been the keeper of the U. S. Lighthouse Service Lighthouse Depot in Southwest Harbor. However, the keeper could also have traveled some distance to have his photo taken or been visiting another lighthouse keeper at the time.

    The unknown keeper in the photo is wearing a vest and jacket with brass lighthouse buttons and the letter "K" sewn on the jacket's lapels indicating that he was a Head Lighthouse Keeper and not an assistant keeper. His pocket watch shows a Masonic emblem surrounded by a horseshoe.

    Harrison said that from time to time old photos like this surface and no one knows who the keeper is. "If they had just written the name of the person on the back of the photo," says Harrison, "But I guess they thought, like many people do today, they'd be around forever, or someone would always know who they were."

    If anyone can help identify the lighthouse keeper they are encouraged to contact Tim Harrison at the American Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 68, Wells, ME 04090 or call 207-646-0245. Harrison can also be emailed at Tim[at]LighthouseFoundation.org.

    EVENT: Haunted House at St. Lawrence

    Saturday, October 21st
    1:00 - 4:00pm

    Come see the St. Lawrence transformed into a spooky haunted house! We will have activities for the whole family, ghost stories, costumes, refreshments, entertainment and plenty of thrills!

    The St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center is located in Portland, Maine, on Munjoy Hill at 76 Congress Street. There is plenty of parking within a one block radius. Overflow parking available at Theriault/Landmann Associates 118 Congress Street (one block up at the old Whole Grocer) and Adams School parking lot one block behind us on Munjoy Street. FMI call 775-5568.

    Invisible Turd Haunts City

    Yesterday was the day of weirdness. Not only was it beautiful, but also when Portlanders stepped out of their doors in the late morning hours to enjoy the day, they found it was... stinky. My roommate, walking to work with her headphones on, had to laugh as she watched people on the street as, one after the other, they stopped, lifted one foot after the other, and checked to make sure they hadn't stepped in any dog poo (a too-common occurrence on Portland's dog-friendly streets). I did the same thing myself when I stepped outside -- 1. Stop. 2. Lift right foot. 3. Lift left foot. 4. Look over porch railing to see if someone laid a huge one in our side yard.

    It turned out to be a farmer over in Westbrook (story here on WMTW-8's website), who spreads his fields each year with chicken manure in preparation for next year's crops. The wind was blowing just right for the odoriferous concoction to waft its stinky banner of stench all the way over to downtown Portland. Peeeeuw!

    While it certainly was stinky, farm owner Llewellyn Rand's intentions are good. "'The commercial fertilizer is what these people would like, but that's where your cancers all come from -- the chemicals,' he said. Randal said that in years past, he used less odorous sludge from the South Portland Waste Facility as a fertilizer, but since that is no longer available to him, he is forced to use the chicken manure."

    Mysterious Gassing at Shaw's

    Last night my roommates and I, enjoying a stay-at-home evening, were unsettled by the large number of sirens we heard from emergency vehicles throughout the evening. Upon watching the early news this morning, I found out why.

    According to the news, a mysterious airborne substance caused dozens of people to be evacuated from the Mill Creek shopping center's Shaw's grocery store last night, complaining of a strange taste in their throats, a tightness in their chests, and with some victims even vomiting. The events occurred around 6:30 or 6:45pm.

    Emergency crews from nearby towns reported to the scene en masse, and credited recent emergency exercises that accustomed them to working across town lines with each other with the success and immediate cooperation that occured on site. According to WGME News 13, ambulances responded from as far away as Freeport.

    Coverage of the incident online:
    WMTW-8 (most extensive)

    While initially it was thought that the probably cause was a leak from the refrigeration system (i.e., freon or another chemical), that has since been ruled out. None of the news outlets can say what exactly the gas was from, though investigators continue to center their search on the store's heating and cooling ventilation system. The store is reopened for business as of this morning.

    WMTW News 8 interviewed one of the victims, Michelle Bento, who told them, "Just the back of my throat was burning, and the sensation. And I was short of breath, and my son, he was the same way. And when he got outside, he started vomiting, and that's when they grabbed us and brought us, and we went to Maine Med."

    By the time of the interview, Bento's son was bouncing around in back of her, grinning at the camera, so it seems like they both thankfully made a full recovery, as had the remainder of the victims who had been transported to local hospitals. According to News 8, "A spokeswoman and Maine Medical Center told News 8 that the hospital treated 37 patients for complaints of nausea, vomiting and burning throats. Officials at Mercy Hospital said they treated about seven patients, and another two were transported to the Brighton Rehabilitation Hospital."

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    UFOs Over Midcoast Maine

    This video, titled "UFOs Over Midcoast Maine," was posted to Google Video yesterday with the following description:
    I shot this footage in August of 2000. I had been watching aircraft laying out grids with their contrails one afternoon. I got out the camcorder and did some filming. I switched on the nighvision feature "nightshot" and put on an IR filter to see how the contrails looked. These contrails are now refered to as "chemtrails". The first part of this video has a few still shots in the IR spectrum and then video of a cloud reacting to a close passing chemtrail. It appears like the cloud is sprouting roots or fingers downward. I zoomed in close to see what I could see and there appeared a slow moving light. The second light zips into view and then they go below the tree line.

    I've had some former aviation professionals verify these lights as being in the sky and not insects or dust etc. The sky seems to be active still, I'm just not quick enough with my camera! [Source]

    Yet More Sea Serpents in Maine

    I've just posted at All Things Maine some historical accounts of sea-serpent sightings off Maine's coast. This is a follow-up to Sea Serpents of Mount Desert Island, but see also two posts here at Strange Maine: Sea Serpents in Maine and Sea Serpents in Maine Redux

    Along Came a Spider...

    James Lee of Levant has had the best of luck and the worst of luck lately.

    Last month, he won a brand new Volvo by finding a winning game piece for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" game in his Big Mac extra value meal.

    A couple of days ago, he drove into a tree "after being startled by a spider that got into the vehicle."
    While trying to get it out of the SUV, his vehicle smashed into a tree Wednesday morning.

    Lee walked away with a bloody nose caused by the air bag.

    It could’ve been worse. He wasn’t driving his brand-new Volvo XC90 because he hasn’t yet taken delivery, according to Darling’s Volvo in Bangor. [Source]

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    EVENT: Ghost Stories @ Spiritual Horizons

    From the latest calendar e-mail of Spiritual Horizons:

    October 24, Ghost Stories, an Open Discussion
    We will have an open discussion of myths and truths of ghost stories tonight. Bring some of your favorite stories and insights to share.

    Unless noted all meetings take place every other Tuesday, 7:00 - 9:00PM at the Adams Center at 75 State Street, Portland, ME.

    Open to all. Donations are welcome.

    FMI www.spiritualhorizonsmaine.org

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Special Halloween issue of the Gazette!

    Just when you thought it was safe to go to the newsstand, the October issue of the Strange Maine Gazette hits the streets! Issue #5 is bright purple and covered with ghosts, so it is darn hard to miss. This issue veers away from fact and history to focus on everyone's favorite Halloween pasttime, SCARY STORIES!!!

    Starting with a quick note on Maine's own breed of ghost chasers, it proceeds to run amuck through the ghastly fields of Lovecraft's terror of the northern woods of Maine (The Thing on the Doorstep), Maine poet Edwin Arlington Robinson's short and shivery poem about The Tavern in his imaginary Maine town of Tilbury, and a recent fictional account of what was seen after the Cumberland County Fair by yours truly.

    Cavorting with glee around all these tasty textual treats are a host of haunting illustrations created as a special treat for readers of this issue.

    Have a great October, everyone!

    Poetry Comix #8 is out and about!

    Look for free copies in various local spots, including Strange Maine, the store, at 578 Congress Street, Portland, Maine. I've also dropped copies at The Kave in Bucksport!

    Issue #8 has a killer line-up of some very talented folks that are getting their fingers inky for you, including Emily Maiden, Bob Bergeron, Joe McVetty, Greg Souza, Sean Newton, and a brand new submittor, Boo (of Covered in Bees fame!).

    What are you waiting for? --SUBMIT your comic for issue #9 now!!!

    The guidelines are very basic:
    1. Art should be 8 1/2 x 11 (one piece per issue can be 11x17 for the centerfold) and photocopy-ready. It can be up to 4 pages in length, if it needs to be, though most folks stick to 1 or 2 pages.
    2. What do you do? Well, pick a poem, song lyrics, or a lyrical fiction excerpt that you would like to interpret visually, and go to it! We're pretty liberal here. Have fun!!!3. Submit by mailing to me at:
    Michelle Souliere
    Poetry Comix
    P.O. Box 8203
    Portland, ME 04104
    You could also get away with dropping it off at Strange Maine care of Brendan or Michael or whoever else might be working.

    Email me with any questions! michelle.souliere(AT)gmail.com

    Poetry Comix is a black and white zine that is distributed in the Portland, Maine area and elsewhere free of charge. And it's a good way to get up off your butt and do something FUN!

    EVENT: A grave announcement

    a grave announcement
    Originally uploaded by misfitgirl.
    Hi all, just a note to say that I am holding an opening reception for my gathering of graveyard photos during this First Friday Artwalk, October 6, from 5:00-7:00pm at Geno's here in Portland. Geno's is located at 625 Congress Street, Portland, Maine.

    The exhibit will run from October 6th - November 1, 2006.

    Photos are of graveyards and tombstones from around Maine and elsewhere, as taken by myself and my good friend Amie Neikirk. Please stop in and say hello! We will also have on hand copies of the latest issue of the Strange Maine Gazette.