Sunday, March 29, 2009

FRIDAY! Art opening @ Sanctuary

I and Loren Leahy have been working on putting this show together for over a year now. The results are finally in!

If you'd like a peek at some of my recent studio work, I've posted some in-process shots on my Flicker site, here.

All the work for this show is based on the theme of Illuminated Manuscripts.

Read on...


GILTY PLEASURES art exhibition @ Sanctuary Tattoo

April 3rd – June 3rd, 2009

31 Forest Avenue – Portland, ME 04101


Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11-7

Opening Reception: Friday, April 3rd, 6:00-9:00pm

CONTACT: Chris Dingwell: (207)828-8866 |

Sanctuary Tattoo is pleased to present GILTY PLEASURES from April 3rd to June 3rd, featuring the work of eleven artists: Loren Leahy, Michelle Souliere, Clayton Cameron, Michael Connor, Reuben Little, Helen Lukacs, Angus McFarland, Martha Miller, Michel Ouellette, Greg Souza, and Carrie Vinette.

Inspired by the theme of illuminated manuscripts and all their elaborate trappings, these artists have each labored over their own expression of this centuries-old tradition. Tasked with generating artwork inspired by any or all the elements of old parchments and moldering tomes filled with brilliant and mystifying imagery and text, this group of artists has produced a wide range of pieces, from watercolors to silkscreens, to shrinelike bottles, to bound volumes.

The way is paved with gold leaf, pigments made from semi-precious stones, and age-old imagery re-fired in the crucible of modern consciousness. The eye follows maze-like lines and finds itself growing new ideas in the back of the brain, subconsciously diving into the labyrinth, led by the string of breadcrumbs, worshipping at the altar of the page – humble paper brought high by the artist’s hand.

Friday, March 27, 2009

1956 tale of two skulls

Here's another mystery for you folks. I found this when researching another story. It's all very mysterious! I hope I can find more about it, but in the meantime, here's the first tidbit for you. Anyone who recollects this story is invited to add anything they have as a comment!
Two Skulls Found in Naples, Maine
First One Was in Load of Gravel
NAPLES, Me., May 25 (AP) —

A second human skull was found today near the Bridgton town line, the sheriff's department reported. The first report did not say whether the skull was that of a
man or woman.

The first grisly find, which rolled out onto a new section of U. S. Route 302 here yesterday in a truckload of gravel, was that of a woman.

The woman's skull, still bearing some hair, was turned over to a pathologist who reported on superficial examination that it appeared to have been buried a long time.

The area where the skulls were found may be an old burying ground, the sheriff's office said.

Deputy Sheriff Charles Norman, Jr., said the skull was that of a young woman and had "quite a lot of hair on it." The upper teeth were intact and in good condition, he said.

Sheriff Allen H. Jones said he had turned the grisly find over to Joseph E. Porter, a medical examiner and pathologist, in the hope of determining how old it is.

Source: The Lowell Sun
Lowell, Mass., Friday May 25 1956, pg. 1

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strange abandoned bus near Bangor


Dan S. forwarded this to me a while back, and I've been digging around trying to find something about it ever since. The only thing I've been able to track it to is the blog that Dan found it on in the first place, whose author, Jamie Rhein, prefaces the photo with a very intriguing paragraph:
This topic of weird things in the woods is one that could bring about a spine tingling novel or a short story. When we come across a thing in the woods like a bone or two --or a shoe, or a cheap plastic comb, we wonder about the story that happened before we arrived. "What happened here?" we ask. In the above photograph, this abandoned Navy bus is rotting in the woods near Bangor, Maine. The text underneath the photo also begs the question, "What in the world is it doing in the woods?" [SMe Editor's note: I'm not sure what she means by "the text underneath the photo" -- what is there for text below the photo on her blog doesn't seem to relate to her question.]

Does anyone out there know anything about this bus??

...Not to be confused with the very cool and almost mysterious Bangor BAT Bus!

VOTE NOW! Best of Portland 2009

Well, apparently the write-in stage I mentioned the other week was the nomination stage of the process, because now the Portland Phoenix has their regular ballot up for Best of Portland (and I have been asleep, or something, in the meantime).

So vote now (unless you don't want to -- I won't twist your arm)! You can judge as many or as few items as you are interested in.

In fact, you can just vote for the blogs if you like, using the blog ballot here (although it's way more fun to do more). The Portland Phoenix has a blast running this friendly competition every year.

I would be remiss to avoid mention of the fact that there is a "Blog" choice under the CITY LIFE category. If you dig the Strange Maine blog (or another, whatever you like!), please do enter it in the Blog category! :) Also, Emptyhouse Film is up for winning under the Filmmaker category!!!

Thanks everyone! And have fun voting!!!


Knave makes off with pastries!

The Portland Press Herald ran this article late last week. Special thanks to Corey Templeton, who spotted it! The great photo of Zarra's is by Brad Searles, and is used in accordance with Creative Commons terms.

...And to think, all these years we thought it was the pesky seagulls.
Stakeout catches pastry thief in the act
Submitted By David Hench, Staff Writer
on Friday, Mar. 20 at 12:05 pm

PORTLAND -- An early-rising Portland thief with a taste for fine pastries was nabbed on a theft charge this morning.

The owners of Zarra’s Monumental Coffee House had asked police to keep an eye on the business because some of its early-morning pastry deliveries had been disappearing, police said.

Police staked out the coffee house at 24 Monument Square and spotted a man who arrived at 5:45 a.m. and took up a position in an alcove nearby.

The store’s pastries were left in front of the unopened store at 6 a.m. and after the delivery person left, the man in the shadows emerged to grab one of the white pastry boxes filled with fresh scones and saunter off toward Congress Street.

Police confronted Darrin Hatt, 43, and arrested him on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking.

Police could not say whether Hatt planned to share his haul with co-workers, or hoard them for himself.

Hmm... co-workers??? Who is this guy working for?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More confused Maine criminals

Thanks to Julia for pointing this doozy out! Wow. I wish I had footage of this, especially the parade of people following the culprit's footprint trail through the snowstorm! Glad he didn't smack his rescuer with more than a shovel. Jeepers.
Machias man indicted on charges of stealing trucks, assaulting rescuer
By Diana Graettinger
BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — A 27-year-old Machias man, whom police called a one-man crime spree, was indicted Wednesday on charges involving the theft of three trucks and a blow with a shovel to the head of a good Samaritan trying to keep him from burning up in a truck fire.
The incident began during the cold, snowy, early morning hours of Jan. 31.

“It was near-whiteout conditions,” Deputy Richard Rolfe of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.

[Franklin] Perry left a party in Lubec, but did not have a ride back to Machias so he began walking along Route 189, a distance of about 30 miles.

“He underestimated the distance from Lubec to Machias,” Rolfe said.

While snow pounded the area, Perry stopped at a local trash dealer’s house and found keys inside the man’s 2001 GMC pickup truck. Rolfe said Perry drove the truck about six miles when he ran the vehicle off the road and into the woods.

The Machias man abandoned the truck and walked about a mile when he spotted another truck parked at a residence. The 1989 GMC truck also had the keys inside. He got halfway onto the road when the truck got stuck, and, desperate to get moving, he revved the engine several times and the truck caught fire, Rolfe said.

A neighbor, hearing the commotion and seeing the fire, grabbed a shovel, a flashlight and a fire extinguisher and went to help.

“Frank Perry was lying down in the seat at that point,” Rolfe said. “[The neighbor] dropped his shovel and other stuff on the ground and pulled [Perry] from the [burning] vehicle.”

Perry then picked up the shovel and allegedly whacked the good Samaritan on the head, Rolfe said. The man suffered minor injuries to the right side of his head.

“[The injured man] had an orange stocking cap on which was rolled and that took some of the blow,” Rolfe said.

Lubec firefighters were called to the burning truck. They put out the fire and then saw footprints in the snow and followed them.

Perry continued up the road and came upon a parked car at another residence, Rolfe said. This time the keys were gone, but he found a plastic bag full of change that the owner kept to do her laundry and took that, the deputy said.

From there, Perry walked to a nearby residence where he found a 1999 Dodge pickup truck also with its keys inside.

When firefighters arrived, the pickup’s owner was standing in his driveway. He told them his truck had just been stolen.

“Frank didn’t make it one-half mile before he went off the road with that one,” Rolfe said. “He took out one of those post and cable guardrails. He rolled over one of those and that basically slowed him down enough so he didn’t roll down over the bank.”

At that point a parade of people were following the footprints in the snow that ended in Whiting where firefighters and some of the victims came upon Perry. They held him until police arrived.

Perry was taken to the Washington County Jail where his blood alcohol level registered at 0.15, nearly twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08.

Rolfe said that when he talked to Perry, he confessed to taking the three trucks but denied he hit anyone with a shovel.

Read full article here: [Source]
This article has generated a lively discussion on Bangor Daily News' website (a whopping 29 comments as of this morning).

Twist ending from judge

2009 has already seen a number of snowmobile related fatalities in Maine.

This judge landed on an interesting way of getting a point across, in the wake of one alcohol-related accident from late December 2008...
Maine judge orders defendant to witness autopsy of a victim of alcohol-related crash
A sentence imposed on a snowmobiler who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors linked to a crash that severely injured a pedestrian includes a requirement that he witness an autopsy of a victim of an alcohol-related accident.

ALFRED, Maine — A sentence imposed on a snowmobiler who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors linked to a crash that severely injured a pedestrian includes a requirement that he witness an autopsy of a victim of an alcohol-related accident.

If that can't be arranged, 19-year-old Patrick Rosa of Limerick will be required to watch a video of an autopsy or a car crash investigation.

Prosecutor Justina McGettigan said the family of victim Darrin Smith made the unusual request of York County Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche.

Fritzche also sentenced Rosa to 120 days in jail last week. Rosa pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and criminal trespass in the Dec. 28, 2007, crash.

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, "Rosa was racing in an area that was off-limits to snowmobiling at Limerick Air Field on Dec. 28, 2007, when he hit 42-year-old Darrin Smith. Smith suffered two broken legs, a broken arm and other injuries and was later found in the snow by his 7-year-old daughter." [Source]

For another take on the effect the verdict will have, please read Renee Ordway's editorial piece at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Failed robbery sequel

How did I miss this one? This runs along the theme of my usual comments on how lucky we are in Portland that a lot of our criminals are not the brightest bulbs in the bunch. It makes it awfully easy to find and catch them.

Attempt #1: Give me money! Reply: No.
Attempt #2: I will throw a plantpot at you. Reply: The window refuses to break. Attempt #2 follow-up: I will return at 11:00 and try again!
Attempt #3: Police arrest him en route to his rendezvous in his car. Three strikes...

From staff and news services
December 30, 2008


Police arrest man who tried to rob Dipietro's Market

Police say that after an unsuccessful robbery, Matthew Peverada threatened a South Portland store clerk that he would return at 11 p.m Saturday.

Police were waiting for him when he came back, arresting him on charges of robbery, criminal threatening and criminal mischief.

Peverada allegedly went to Dipietro's Market on Cottage Road on Saturday afternoon and brandished a knife, demanding money from the cash drawer. When he was denied, he left but vowed to return.

He came back at 4:30 p.m. and tried to throw a planter through the window, but it bounced back, police said. He then said he would return at 11 p.m.

Just before then, police patrolling the area stopped a car that Peverada was in and arrested him on charges of criminal threatening, criminal mischief and robbery.

Police say Peverada does not appear to have any connection to the store.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bring the King home!

Those of you who read my posts regularly have probably caught on to the fact that I am continually bothered by the fact that a lot of films that are set in Maine wind up being filmed elsewhere (most recently I discussed this in my review of The Sleeping Deep).

Well, if you share these feelings, there is a movement now picking up steam to change that. It was recently sparked by efforts to encourage the folks who are preparing to film Stephen King's book, Bag of Bones.

Now there's also a Facebook group for Maine Film Advocates, which has posted helpful information for those interested in contacting their local legislators to support. They have drafted a bill, LR623 "An Act To Expand Tax Incentives under the Media Production Reimbursement Program." They are also in the process of developing an online petition, so anyone can add their voice in support of the cause!

The Kennebec Journal covered the first wave of interest in the story:
Movie makers considering King film here
Mick Garris, Mark Sennet involved with Maine writer before, now looking for tax breaks to reduce costs
BY RAY ROUTHIER Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 03/03/2009

Two men behind a movie based on Stephen King's 1998 novel "Bag of Bones" will be in Portland today to discuss the possibility of filming in Maine.

"Bag of Bones" director Mick Garris and producer Mark Sennet are scheduled to talk about their plans at a press conference at 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn on Commercial Street.

They are also scheduled to meet sometime today with Gov. John Baldacci and other state officials to explore financial incentives for the film.

Sennet, whose credits include a TV adaptation of King's 1996 novel "Desperation," said his production company would like very much to shoot in Maine, but won't be able to without greater incentives than those offered to filmmakers under the Maine Attraction Film Incentive program.

Sennet said his company would need a tax credit that would provide a savings of about 25 cents on every dollar spent. He said many other states have such programs.

"Bag of Bones" has a $20 million budget, and Sennet expects to spend $10 million wherever the film is made.

"We'd love to do it here. We're basically here to see if (state officials) want to do this," Sennet said. "If not, there are plenty of places we could go."

Sennet said Massachusetts has the kind of tax-credit program he is interested in. His company, Sennet Entertainment, has explored filming in the Bay State, as well as in Michigan, Louisiana and Georgia.

Set at a lake in western Maine, "Bag of Bones" is about a novelist dealing with his wife's death, a custody battle and a haunted house.

The fact that King is a lifelong Mainer will have little to do with whether the film gets shot here, Sennet said.

"We'd love to do the film, but we need to do it for a certain price," he said.

A call to King's Bangor office was not returned Monday.

Several of King's works have been filmed in Maine in the past 20 years, including: "Pet Sematary" (1989); "Graveyard Shift" (1990); "The Langoliers" (1995); "Thinner" (1996); and "Storm of the Century" (1999), a TV miniseries.

Sennet said he would like to shoot the film this summer. The movie has not been cast.

Sennet and Garris worked together on "Desperation" (2006), and Garris directed the TV miniseries version of King's "The Shining" (1997), as well as the miniseries of King's "The Stand" (1994).

The meeting with state officials today is expected to include Maine film industry advocates Cameron Bonsey and Barney Martin.

Bonsey, who was a local casting director for the HBO film "Empire Falls," shot in Maine in 2003, and Martin, a locally based actor, have long advocated for more state incentives to attract film and video projects to the state.

It was Martin who convinced Sennet and Garris to come to Maine to meet with state officials, Sennet said.

Bonsey said "Bag of Bones" is an example of the kind of film Maine could attract if more incentives were offered.

"We wanted to bring in a project that's real, instead of just talking about incentives in a general way," Bonsey said.

The state's current film incentive program includes a wage-tax rebate, an income-tax rebate for investors, no state sales tax on most production items, and reimbursement for lodging taxes for long-term stays.

Baldacci's deputy chief of staff, David Farmer, confirmed that the filmmakers had requested to meet with the governor, but he said Baldacci does not know what sort of incentives they are seeking.


If you are interested in joining in and staying updated on current efforts, you can join the Maine Film Advocates Facebook group.

Go to Maine's eDemocracy site to find out who your Maine Legislators are, and contact them regarding LR623, "An Act To Expand Tax Incentives under the Media Production Reimbursement Program."

You are NOT in a video game.

Well, this seemed almost like a straightforward minor crime spree until got to the quote about the reason Goding gave for his actions.
"I Thought I Was in a Video Game"
Vanessa Cutter, Assignment Editor

A Westbrook man was arrested Saturday night after he allegedly stole a car, crashed it and then tried to break into an 80-year-old woman's apartment.

Police say around 9 o'clock, 22-year-old Kyle Goding stole a car from 28 Stevens Avenue then crashed it a few minutes later on the same street. Police say he then fled on foot and tried to break into an elderly woman's apartment at 308 Brown Street.

The woman was able to call police and keep the door locked, preventing Goding from busting in. Officers say a neighbor pushed Goding out of the way when he saw him kicking at the door. When police arrived, they allegedly wrestled Goding to the ground and arrested him just before 11 p.m. Authorities say Goding told them he "thought he was in a video game."
Read the full article at WGME's website here: [Source]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Local filmmakers looking for ghosts

Thought some of you might be interested in hearing about this...


If the answer is yes and you live in Maine, The Soul Smack Team would like to talk to you.

Following the success of their debut documentary YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE, which investigated the phenomenon of sleep paralysis with a supernatural presence,
the Maine-based Soul Smack production team are now in production for their next DVD release, which will be an investigation on the subject of Ghosts and Spirits, i.e. non-material entities.

You may have witnessed first-hand an apparition or been the victim of a frightening haunting, you may even be clairvoyant or sensitive to unseen energy forms, what ever your experience or encounter may be, they would like to interview you and share your story with the world.


They will also be producing reenactments to compliment some of the paranormal stories, and are looking for enthusiastic people to act out some of the scenes. If you have ever been interested in acting or being an extra this could be the opportunity you have been waiting for. They consider themselves to be "a fun team," and promise to ensure a calm and relaxed environment. If you are interested in any of the above please contact Paul Taitt at paultaitt [at]

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maine Sports Trivia Contest!

Hello everyone! Just for fun, to make March go a little more quickly, we're going to have a little sports trivia contest in conjunction with the folks at Boston's CPR Gear. They've given us a few cool t-shirts from their sports line as giveaways, so batter up if this is your thing!

RULES: Submit your answers to me via the email link on the top righthand side of this page. Entries must be received by the end of this week -- 12:00 noon on Sunday, March 15th, 2009. The first person to answer the most questions right at the end of this time will have first pick of the prizes, the second will get second choice, etc. Very simple!

1. In 2008, how many girls were playing baseball on boys' high school teams in Maine as reported to the National Federation of State High School Associations?

2. What sport did famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay play during her time at Camden High School?

3. In December 1897, the U.S.S. Maine Baseball Team won the Navy baseball championship. What member of the team was the only one left alive after February 15, 1898, when the ship was sunk in Havana Harbor?

4. What weird socket-powered sport began holding organized competitions in Maine in 1991?

5. What unlikely, overgrown orange fruits have been made into makeshift water racing crafts in Maine each October for the last 4 years?

We have three shirts up for grabs:

  • Celtic Pride, size Large - Men

  • Batter Up (Red Sox), size Small - Ladies

  • Batter Up (Red Sox), size Large - Men

  • Our sponsor for this contest, CPR Gear, was founded by two Boston sports fans, to make items specifically for New Englanders. Their story sounds almost mysterious -- "It was a dark and stormy night..."

    "Not long ago, in an undisclosed location, a small group of staunch New England fans met under cover of darkness. These mavericks touched on an idea that would forever alter the face of New England fandom. Inspired by several pints of brew and a lobster roll, they furiously debated the possibility that three of New England's teams could win a championship in one calendar year. Huddled together and in whispered tones, an acronym for this possibility emerged: CPR (appropriate since our sports teams have become the true heartbeat of New England). Nothing escaping these brainiacs, they quickly realized that the concept of CPR was much grander than three teams; it included all the New England teams, of course, but at its base would represent all New England fans and our undying faith that if we believe long and hard enough, anything is possible."

    Tons of Mainers share these guys' love for New England's teams, be it the Boston Red Sox, the Patriots, or the Celtics, including Stephen King, who went so far as to write the book Faithful about the Sox's struggle with co-author Stewart O'Nan. Here's a chance to wear your heart on your sleeve!

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    BEWARE the owl!

    Photo used by permission of T. Beth Kinsey, from her blog, The Firefly Forest.

    Thanks to Cranky Yankee for catching this one. :) Bangor is under siege... by a great horned owl!!!

    The Crown of Maine webcam site up in Presque Isle, Aroostook County, is asking folks to weigh in today on their online poll, asking "Have you ever been attacked by an Owl?" The best part is that one of the possible answers, beyond the usual "yes" and "no," is the interesting addition of "Don't remember" to the list of choices. HA! You think?

    Read on! Great article by John Holyoke from the Bangor Daily News!
    Owls Attack: Warnings posted at Bangor city forest
    By John Holyoke
    BDN Staff

    BANGOR, Maine — For some cross-country skiing enthusiasts, there’s nothing like heading into the woods on a crisp moonlit night.

    Beautiful trails. Pristine snow. Peace. Quiet.


    Idyllic, perhaps, until a great horned owl swoops down out of a tree, talons outstretched, and smacks you on the head.

    For the past several weeks, local cross-country skiers have learned, one by one, that touring the Rolland F. Perry City Forest in Bangor may lead to unforeseen consequences.

    Out there on East Trail, near the Veazie Railroad bed, is an owl. An ornery owl. An ornery, territorial, get-out-of-my-neighborhood owl who, in fine Maine fashion, can be a bit brusque when it encounters interlopers.

    According to frequent visitors to Bangor’s city forest who have begun keeping count, at least eight skiers (and a few romping dogs) have been targeted by the marauding owl — or owls — over the past three weeks.

    Jim Allen of Bangor is a frequent visitor to the forest who had heard about owl attacks while chatting with fellow competitors at last weekend’s Caribou Bog Ski Tour and Race.

    On Tuesday, Allen joined the ranks of those who have ended up on the wrong end of an irked owl.
    “I didn’t hear a thing and just caught a glimpse of a shadow after I’d been hit,” Allen said. “I didn’t sit around to see if anything was sitting up in the trees. I screamed, waved my poles and left. With my heart in my throat.”
    “[Great horned owls are] thought to be the most likely,” said Charlie Todd, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “It’s the boldest nocturnal raptor and the one that has the best reputation for the occasionally bizarre.”
    Many incidents occurred this week — Cassidy said five encounters took place on one evening — and Bangor City Forester Brian Dugas was prepared to post signs warning skiers to avoid the East Trail.
    Allen has been back in the forest twice since his Tuesday encounter, and said he has had other wildlife experiences in Bangor’s city forest.

    Last year, he saw a black bear. And several years ago, a hawk struck his head while he was cycling.

    The owl incident, however, was one he’ll remember.

    “They say … there’s no sound at all when an owl flies. So you don’t hear them coming,” Allen said. “I believe it. Because I never knew anything was coming. I was just skiing merrily along.”

    To read full article, and see photos: [Source]
    I guess we know what Jim Allen will be answering in the poll! Certainly not "Don't remember"...

    Regarding Pauline Young

    Some of you may remember the story of the 1940 Rockland murder that I covered back in 2007, in The Headless Halloween of 1940. Since that time, I have been contacted, through email and via comments on the original post, by relatives of the family of Pauline Young.

    One of these relatives is very interested in speaking to other folks who are related to the family of Thelma Young, Pauline's mother. She is interested in getting together to do some genealogy. Her mother was Thelma's sister, Pauline her cousin.

    Anyone interested in getting in touch with her can email me at michelle.souliere [at], or write to me via my P.O. Box:

    Michelle Souliere, Editor
    Strange Maine Gazette
    P.O. Box 8203
    Portland, ME 04104

    Anyone else interested in sharing their recollections or urban legends about this happening is also welcome to contact me -- I'd be more than happy to hear from you.

    Maine tattoo madness!

    Port City Life's March issue, which is all about art, has a feature on Portland's tattoo statistics by Peter Smith, including mention of a couple of tattoos that you fair readers have seen here on the blog in the past, namely Angus McFarland's Maine emblem, and my own "Strange Maine" tattoo. Check it out!

    To read Peter Smith's article, click here.

    Monday, March 09, 2009

    What lurks in deep Maine waters

    Back in 2006, I was poking around on my SiteMeter page, seeing how people had stumbled across this blog, and found that one of my visitors arrived after searching for information about giant eels in Thomaston, Maine.

    Three years later, here I am writing a review of a terrific new Lovecraftian script that takes place in Maine and tells the tale of a horrific giant eel monster and its progeny. Who knew?

    The script is tremendously exciting, and in fact has already won the prize for Best Screenplay at the 2008 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, beating out over 50 contenders in this ferociously competitive field (read article here). Screenwriter Jeff Palmer, though currently living in Davis, California, has a long history with Maine, and solid family ties within our state. This experience of Maine shows in his writing. Not once did the fictitious Maine of his story feel dislocated, which is a rare quality to find.

    The story is rife with the kinds of things that perk my antennae up -- Maine back roads and backwoods, odd homegrown museums packed with weird and obscure historical items, and characters in out-of-the-way places that choose the recipients of their wisdom seemingly at random. The chilling incidents that are woven into the storytelling are honestly creepy. As you get further into the script, the lure grows wilder, dragging you with it as it twines the dual storyline tighter and tighter. Strange things happen with increasing certitude, and by the time you hit this point, there is no turning back.

    Beyond the compelling story and its setting, the script itself is tightly crafted. The dialogue is very well written and flows naturally (so rare!), as does the sequencing of events. Never once did I have to stop midstream and page back through to figure out what the heck was going on. Add to that the bonus of a suspense that builds almost palpably! I can honestly say that the phone went unanswered as I read the final part of the story.

    My verdict? If this film is awarded the high level of production it deserves, then we are in for a treat the likes of which is seldom to be seen in the horror film industry. Maine horror fans and Lovecraft fans alike will be dancing in the streets, or running down the streets screaming in happy terror. Take your pick!

    When I asked Jeff how he felt about the State of Maine, he was happy to explain a point of view that I think many of us share: "Having family roots in Maine and growing up so close to the state, I've always felt a deep connection with the area. The coast, the mountains, and the wilderness foster a strong sense of place with anyone who has vacationed or visited Maine. There's also a sense of mystery -- or perhaps we yearn for it. It's a big state with so many stories just waiting to be heard." This explains one of the reasons he has been able to capture the sense of Maine in his script. He and his wife are happily planning to move to New England this summer.

    I was happy to hear that his intention is to film here, instead of the usual cop-out of Vancouver-for-Maine substitution that we have seen recently from Hollywood. I asked him if there was anything folks here could do to help. "Since at least 75% of the story takes place in Maine, the goal is to shoot most of it on location when the time comes. I'm not certain what can be done on a grass-roots level. I've been in touch with [Maine film advocate] Cameron Bonsey and he's very enthusiastic about the project as well as bringing other productions into the state. Tax-based incentives would be a great start as many states are finding it helps attract film and TV productions with multi-million dollar budgets."

    So what exactly has the Maine Film Commission been doing to attract business to our fair shores? According to their website, a number of tax-related incentives are offered to films as part of a package deal, including an income tax rebate for investors in media projects, reimbursement on lodging taxes for long-term stays, and a wage-tax rebate plan. The remainder of incentives are simply tax-exempt status for a variety of expenses. Other "additional" offers of assistance are creative and practical -- things like fee-free use of State Parks for filming, and the Maine Surplus Property Plan, which allows qualified productions to borrow - free of charge - furniture and other surplus property from the State of Maine. "In the past, productions have found free furniture and equipment to outfit production offices and to use as props."

    Hopefully this is enough to get Jeff's production here, and to allow the project to spend the $250K+ in Maine necessary to potentially qualify for the incentives offered. According to a recent study, which supports my own personal observations about the lack of Hollywood filming in Maine, this is not enough for most film productions to move house here. Based on 2005 data (apparently the most recent batch available), it is notable that of the $371 million in "direct economic impact" that was generated in Maine by the visual industries in 2005, a paltry $7.2 million came from the out-of-state film, video and commercial photography sector. The rest was generated by our own local ("indigenous") industry.

    Let's cross our fingers that whoever gives Jeff's project the go-ahead finds that with the help of his persistent encouragement, they cannot resist the lure of the real State of Maine! The film has plenty going for it. Says Palmer, "The Sleeping Deep is a hybrid genre, which makes it accessible to a wider audience and very marketable. Yes, at the core it's a horror movie, but there's so much more going on; elements of fantasy, supernatural, history, humor and thriller are all part of the story. It's an easy script to get behind. The trick is finding that handful of financiers who are passionate about the story as I am. There's a real potential to make a great film or series of films based on these characters - and that means future productions in the state." Hear, hear!

    To check up on the latest about The Sleeping Deep, visit the Sleeping Deep blog. Here you'll find artwork as it develops, camera tests, scoring tests, and other juicy tidbits as Jeff gets the film ready and pitches it to the biggest and best in Hollywood.

    We'll be sure to keep you updated as events develop.

    Tuesday, March 03, 2009

    X-Country skiing gets rough

    Charlie from Dixfield, Maine, runs a blog called Travels with Charlie. I noticed in his latest posts an account of a hit and run accident (on skis!) during the recent 24th Great Caribou Bog Wicked Winter Ski Tour & Race. He admits:
    I rounded the next turn and promptly mugged a little old lady tourer who was too slow to respond to my "Track!! Track!!" I regret that in these circumstances, the race must go on, but if the victim, by some strange coincidence, reads this blog---I am truly sorry, both for the mugging and not stopping to see if all your bones were all unbroken.
    I hope we've upped his chances of getting his apology to its victim.

    Monday, March 02, 2009

    TONIGHT! Strange Maine on the air

    WHEN: Monday, March 2nd from around 10:00pm to 11:00pm
    WHERE: WMPG, 90.9 FM and 104.1 FM in the Greater Portland area, or listen online here to their streaming broadcast.
    WHAT: DanK of the Random Thought Crime Generator show interviews me about the world of Strange Maine and the latest issue of the Gazette

    Who knows what will surface? The show customarily features a mix of soundtracks, novelties, spoken word, experimental, and instrumentals from all genres, especially jazz, surf, and r&b, but the Strange Maine interview show creates a neat hybrid of these elements with extensive interview segments interspersed. It'll be the fourth time we've done this, if I'm not mistaken. Nifty dandy!!!

    Tune in and check it out!