Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interview via the Sun Journal

I don't think I ever got a chance to post this on the blog last year, and thought some of you might have fun reading it, especially those of you who are recent additions to the blog subscribers. Definitely one of the lighter and more entertaining interviews I've done, thanks to the adept skills of Mark LaFlamme.
Face Time: Michelle Souliere, Chronicler of all things strange in Maine
By Mark LaFlamme
Published Jun 28, 2009 12:00 am

Freaks. Weirdos. Unmapped roads.... So begins the intro to the increasingly popular blog by the name Strange Maine. It was launched in 2005 by Michelle Souliere and for the past two years was named the very best by the Portland Phoenix. If it's strange and happening here, you can bet it will be covered at Strange Maine, not to be confused with Strange Maine the store or Strange Maine the book. Here, Michelle answers some questions about how she got to be the local authority on strange.

What is Strange Maine?
Strange Maine is a lot of things. It is made up of people, places and things that exist here in the state of Maine and perhaps nowhere else in the world. It is the feeling you get, which in some of us causes an almost giddy delight, when you stumble upon a pocket of this strangeness. It matters not whether the discovery is of a cache of weird items at someone's yard sale, a roadside museum that the world seems to have passed by but which has continued growing regardless, or a story that someone tells you about a weird house from their hometown that freaked them out as a kid. It's out there, and when you find it, it's darn good.

How did you come to create this site?
Honestly, I have a hard time remembering. I think I had spent a few months doing research on anomalous phenomenon, and perhaps stuff like whether downtown Portland is riddled with tunnel passageways, and other Maine- and New England-related weirdness. It baffled me that there was no single destination on the Web that collected this stuff to any real effect, especially as it related to Maine. So in a moment of insanity, I thought to myself, "I should do something about this!" and pressed that big orange button on Blogger.com that says "Create A Blog," thereby sealing my fate. It wasn't until later that I stumbled upon the New England Anomaly Web site, and realized I had neighbors as crazy as I am.

Why is Maine so freakin' strange?
I'm still trying to hash that one out. I can say "There's just something about it..." until the cows come home, but while it's a pleasingly ephemeral statement, it does nothing to clear up the puzzle. The real question is, do we actually want the riddle to be solved? My instinct says we don't. Part of the spell that Maine weaves is the fact that despite the best efforts of L.L. Beaners and tourist bureaus over the last century-plus to nail down and brand Maine to be sold like some rugged designer perfume to people from away, the best way to appreciate Maine is to find a spot here where you can just sit by yourself for a moment and absorb it.

I've tried to trace the element of strangeness to the wildness of Maine, its isolation, its sparse population and the tendency it has to attract and retain both the oddest and most wonderful of people (sometimes they are one and the same). It just doesn't add up. There has to be some weird synergistic effect, some alchemy at work, because the sum is greater than its tangible parts. Whatever it is, a crucial component in the recipe is the land itself, in all its Maine varieties — and, quite possibly, a lot of it has to do with being a borderland: a place on the border of wild and urban, on the border of the great Atlantic ocean, a place on the border of the U.S.-Canada line.

If you adopted the Turner Beast and gave him a name, what would it be?
For pure silliness, it would have to be Fred. If I wanted to freak people out, though, he'd be officially named "He Who Walks Behind the Trees" or "Fred the Terrible."

What do you have coming up?
The very tardy Spring '09 issue of the Strange Maine Gazette will be in print by July, which is pretty exciting for me, as I never thought I'd get it done after breaking my wrist in May. I'll be bringing copies of it to Zombie Kickball IV, here on Portland's Eastern Prom on Sunday June 28th, and then to the Paranormal and Psychic Faire at Fort Knox on the weekend of July 4th and 5th. I'm thrilled to be setting up at the Faire, after having heard about it for the last few years. I've never been to the historic Fort Knox site, which is supposed to be gorgeous, as well as very haunted, and it's an area of Maine I haven't explored yet, which is always a big bonus. I'm also working with a great group of local artists on a Strange Maine themed art show that I'll be curating at Sanctuary here in Portland, which will be on exhibit for the month of October. Never a dull moment!

[Source: http://www.sunjournal.com/node/20518]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ghosts of islands past

I found an interesting short glimpse of the ruin of Little Chebeague island in a set of photos over at the Maine Island Kayak Company's blog (http://maineislandkayakco.blogspot.com/) in a post dating back to Halloween of 2008 titled "Island of Ghosts." The photos are well chosen and haunting, yet lovely.

For anyone who has the opportunity to boat out to the island, it looks like it is well worth the trip.
To quote the blog:
The Abenakis left shell middens here dating back thousands of years. More recently there was a large hotel and small community lasting from the mid 1800s until it was taken over by the Navy for use as an R&R facility and firefighting training. Once the Navy left in the 1940s, no one else came. Now the once proud "clamshell walk" is getting taken over by the bittersweet, the structures are uninhabitable and the only footfalls are made by the deer.

According to Wikipedia,
The nearby island of "Little Chebeague" is accessible on foot, via a sandbar that appears at low tide. Being that there are many fresh-water underground springs and rivulets, low-tide exposed sandy areas such as the sandbar, or coves, often have "quicksand" zones that must be noted with caution. Little Chebeague, approximately 3/4 of a mile long, is uninhabited and mostly dense shrub and forest. Owned by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, it is an undeveloped park where picnicking, camping and swimming are allowed, but no facilities are provided.

Ferry service to the larger Chebeague Island is available through the Casco Bay Lines ferry (cascobaylines.com).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Microhorror in Maine

We've all heard of horror novels, and horror short stories. But have you heard of horror microfiction? The website Microhorror.com defines microfiction thusly:
Microfiction is also referred to as flash fiction or short-short stories. The general goal of a microfiction author is to tell a story, set a mood or depict a scene in as few words as possible. There is no official limit on how long a story can be before it no longer qualifies, but on MicroHorror.com, you will find no stories longer than 666 words.
Much to my delight, I found a very brief homage to Stephen King's Maine on the site, in the form of an entry by author Jeff Ryan (http://www.microhorror.com/microhorror/author/jeff-ryan/), titled "Far From Yoknapatawpha."
Rod became interested in fictional places as a student of William Faulkner, whose Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi was a weird and wonderful place. But that love of the imagined made him unable to visit a place without also seeing what was imagined to be present there. That was why his trip to the New England coast was so dreadful...

Read the full story on the site. [Source]
Enjoy! Maybe a few among you have some microfiction of your own to submit...?

Illustration (c)2007 by Michelle Souliere.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TONIGHT: Ghost hunting tour in Bath

Investigators from the Maine Ghost Hunters Society will join “The Lady in the Red Cloak” for a special Haunted History Tour in Bath on Tues., Aug. 24.

The special Haunted History Tour with the Maine Ghost Hunters Society investigators will be on Tues, Aug. 24. The tour is by reservation only by calling (207)380-9912 or redcloaktours@gmail.com. Once a reservation is made, the starting time and location will be given out. “We do this so that we’re able to control the number of our guests so that everyone will have a fun and comfortable experience,” Lobkowicz said. The cost of the tour is $17.50 per person, a portion of which is donated to the Maine Ghost Hunters Society.

The ghost hunters will come equipped with specialized equipment used to test areas on the tour for the possible presence of paranormal activity.

“We’ve had plenty of unusual things show up in photographs taken by guests on our Haunted History Tours over the past 4 years that we’ve been in business,” said Sally Lobkowicz, Director of Haunted History Tours. “These include ‘orbs’, bolts of light, strange mists and more, but all that we’re really able to say about them is that we can’t explain why they appear in the photos. We’re researchers and story tellers – not paranormal experts.”

That’s where the investigators from the Maine Ghost Hunters Society come in. “This is a great group of people with a solid background in paranormal research dating back to 2007, and the ability to use equipment to enhance their investigation,” Lobkowicz said. “They have just completed an in-depth investigation of the former AMHI mental hospital, and their work has been widely published and televised. They have just started their own show, Maine Paranormal Radio on Maine Public Radio.”

The Bath special tour will be the first time that Haunted History Tours has conducted a collaborative effort with the Maine Ghost Hunters Society, which Lobkowicz feels is appropriate since 2010 is the first season for Haunted History Tours in Bath. “What better way to introduce something new than on our newest tour?” Lobkowicz asked. Haunted History Tours with “The Lady in the Red Cloak” already have venues in Camden, Damariscotta, Boothbay Harbor and Wiscasset. Special tours with the Maine Ghost Hunters Society will also be scheduled in those areas in the coming weeks, according to Lobkowicz.

Both the Maine Ghost Hunters Society and Haunted History Tours are hoping that the special tours will provide guests with an educational experience. “Watching the investigators use their equipment and explain how it all works will just be the first part of the experience,” Lobkowicz said. “Following the special tour, they will post the results of their investigation regarding that tour area on www.maineghosts.org.”

Julie Velez, co-founder of the Maine Ghost Hunters Society agrees. “Education is a primary part of our mission,” Velez said. “We look forward to introducing people to our investigation methods, and perhaps better understand what we do.

To help accomplish this, the Maine Ghost Hunters Society will provide a two-person team for the special tour comprised of a Lead Investigator and an Investigator equipped with devices that help see the unseen, whether by image, sound, or even electromagnetic activity.

First on the equipment list are two items that are sensitive to electromagnetic activity, which is associated with things both seen and unseen. In the everyday world, most living things generate an electromagnetic signature, as do (of course) electronic devices and wires that carry electricity.

What’s unusual is when the devices pick-up electromagnetic activity where it shouldn’t be. To observe this, the investigators from Maine Ghost Hunters Society will carry a K2 Electromagnetic Field (EMF) device that registers the activity on an LED meter. According to Velez, this device is particularly noteworthy in that it can instantly record changes in the EMF, which sometimes appear to be responsive to spoken questions and other input.

A second EMF device, the Electromagnetic Field Detector, will provide investigators and tour guests with a much more sensitive device for recording EMF signals. However, this instrument has a read out with a needle, making the K2 EMF device a more immediate and visual instrument.

Use of both these devices at once literally provides the “best of both worlds” to record any potential paranormal activities, according to Velez. The two devices, working simultaneously, tend to corroborate each other’s EMF observations.

The Maine Ghost Hunters Society will also carry two pieces of equipment well known to most of the public – a digital camera and a digital sound recorder. The digital camera will be used to record scenes for later examination, as sometimes things will appear in the images that were unseen by the human eye at the time that the image was recorded. Likewise, the digital voice recorder has the ability to pick up on sounds that cannot be heard by the human ear.

For more information on Haunted History Tours (and photos taken by guests of unusual phenomenon) check www.RedCloakHauntedHistoryTours.com (there is also a page on the website discussing orbs under “Ghostly Sightings”). For more information on the Maine Ghost Hunters Society check www.maineghosts.org.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

EVENT: First Friday Artwalk "Relics" opening

The Green Hand is very pleased to present "Relics," a series of digital and traditional photographs depicting industrial decay, anachronism, and forgotten places around Portland and Southern Maine, as captured by the intrepid Eric Pomorski.
WHAT: First Friday Artwalk opening of "Relics" by Eric Pomorski
WHEN: Friday, September 3rd, 2010 from 5:00-8:00pm
WHERE: The Green Hand Bookshop, 661 Congress Street, Portland, ME
FMI: (207)450-6695 or see the Facebook event page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=101655499895193

Fans of urban exploration, abandoned mill buildings, and other remnants of Maine's past will be especially interested in this show. A wide range of Eric's work is posted on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epomorski/

We are very excited to have his work on display throughout the month of September!

Monday, August 16, 2010

TONIGHT: Adelle - Maine horror film showing

Come check out the latest version of Adelle, new ending and all, at Geno's tonight, August 16th, 2010. Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9pm, admission by donation, must be 21+.

WHAT: Screening of Maine indy horror film Adelle, part of the Fun Box at the Movies series
WHEN: TONIGHT! Monday, August 16, 2010. Doors @ 8:00, showing at 9:00pm
WHERE: Geno's at 625 Congress Street, Portland, ME
FMI: The Facebook event page for RSVP is here:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=141561715877058&ref=mf, or call the Fun Box Monster Emporium at 329-5385

Adelle tells the tale of a young deaf girl who is left in the middle of nowhere by her parents in the 1930′s. Adelle is forced to try and survive based on her very limited life skills. Along the way, her voyage turns into a very dark, horrifying trip.

The film echoes the dark themes presented in stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, and presents a visual smorgasbord for viewers. “We set out to make a very trippy, scary film from the perspective of the child. We came out of production very happy with the work we accomplished.” said co-writer/director Andy Davis.

Adelle was written by children’s poetry author Sandy McKeon and horror filmmaker Andy Davis. Adelle marks the seventh film for Davis as director. Strange Maine readers may remember our extensive coverage of some of his prior films, including the zombie apocalypse movie 2 (see production photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/darkbrilliance/sets/72157594554822363/). The main body of Davis's work with Emptyhouse Film was collected in the DVD set "Twisted Tales from Maine" which we reviewed back in February 2009 (here). Adelle has the proud honor of being slated for release and distribution by Elite Entertainment very shortly.

Grafitti archive interview

Graffiti art behind the Asylum's main graffiti wall, Portland ME. April 2007.

Portland is well-known by locals as a haven for graffiti art, which generates both controversy and support in the community. Aubin Thomas has begun recording some of this transient and ephemeral art on her photoblog, http://freezetagging.wordpress.com/, where she posts photos of past and current work, and encourages others to submit their own photos via email. The Portland Daily Sun did a great article about the subject this past weekend:
Street SmART

In some ways, Aubin Thomas simply runs a simple art history blog. Just don’t expect oil paints and canvas — spray paint and cement walls are more the focus here.

Thomas documents street art around Portland, and combines her interest in art with her passion for preservation at freezetagging.wordpress.com.

But the site is also part of a local trend of providing a transition zone of sorts, a place somewhere between often-illegal street art and gallery openings. And while the debate over street art – especially illegal graffiti – continues, there’s little doubt that the work is steadily edging onto Portland’s cultural consciousness, with two movies screenings, several gallery shows and even an college art exhibit of a famous street artist happening just this month.

“I have a big issue with things being forgotten,” explained Thomas, a one-time Maine College of Art student and current tour guide at the Victoria Mansion. “And even though it’s not my art, I want there to be a record of it.”

Thomas said she had long noticed street art while traipsing across the city, but came up with the idea for the blog after helping to deconstruct the installation by New York graffiti artist Swoon at SPACE Gallery last winter.

“It made me really sad, because she made all these hand-drawn wheatpaste pieces, and we had to scrape them off with a paint scraper,” she said.

For Thomas, the blog is also a way to get people to think about graffiti in a new way by decontextualizing the work. “If it’s in a gallery, some people will accept anything, but if it’s on the street, they instantly hate it,” she explained.

The term “street art” encompasses a broad range of art forms, from spray-can-applied graffiti tags to stencil, stickers, wheatpastes, knits and some perfectly legal, often promotional, posters. Generally, “street art” is used to describe any work developed in a public space.

There are also a few less generous terms that can be applied to the practice.

Read the full article here: [Source]

Photo by Michelle Souliere.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

EVENT: Irish settlers in Western Cemetery

Via Ed King of the West End News:
Early Irish Settlers to be Honored at Western Cemetery

The Ancient Order of Hibernians will honor more than one thousand early Portland settlers with a Mass and a ceremony at the Western Cemetery at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 15th, 2010. The event will also mark the 11th anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial Stone, which memorializes the early Portland Catholics, mostly Irish, who are buried in the cemetery's 'Catholic ground.'

The settlers, most of whom are buried in unmarked graves, came from Ireland during and after the 'Great Hunger' in Ireland in the 1840s, which resulted from the potato crop failure. The annual Mass will be followed by a reception at St. Patrick's Church on Congress Street. In case of rain, the Mass will be held at St. Patrick's.The Western Cemetery is located at the corner of Danforth and Vaughan Street in the West End.

For more information, contact James Avjian at 799-3606.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Maine's son of horror coming to town!

Joe Hill will be appearing in Portland on Saturday, August 14!

New York Times Best Selling Author Joe Hill will be in Portland on Saturday, August 14th, for a book release event and signing at Casablanca Comics (downtown at 151 Middle Street) from 4:00-6:00pm.

Joe Hill will be signing copies of his new graphic novel "Locke and Key: Crown of Shadows" and the first issue of his newest comic book series "Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom." Joe Hill's previous novels include the best-selling "Heart Shaped Box" and the recently released "Horns." His short story collections include "20th Century Ghosts" and "The New Dead."

FMI: http://www.casablancacomics.com

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

New cult film series launches!

Robert Deveau happily encounters friendly horror folk Garou and Penny Dreadful here in Portland!

There's a great article by Chad Pennell over on the fledgling local "Maine Observer" which sets the stage for a new ongoing film series that started in Portland the other week. Yow! Watch out!
‘Lost Skeleton’ ushers in cult films at Geno’s

An actor, a witch, and a werewolf walk into a bar. That’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s the first sight I saw at “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again” at Geno’s last Monday.

Read the full article here: [Source]
Future showings of note include a late September showing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre featuring an appearance by the one and only Gunnar Hansen, a.k.a. Leatherface!

Shilling Shockers "Trio of Terror" portrait by Peter Pereira

If you missed the July 26th Maine premiere showing of "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again," and simultaneous appearances by star Robert Deveau, plus Penny Dreadful and Garou (our New England horror host favorites, hosts of TV's "Shilling Shockers"), be sure to keep your fingers on the Fun Box Monster Emporium pulse, as rumors of new showings pop up periodically!

Watch out, Maine! Things are happening in Portland!

Robert's report on the event can be found here: