Sunday, April 24, 2011

Atlas Obscura: 8 Maine sites

The Atlas Obscura, a guide to interesting sites to visit all over the world, has eight Maine locations listed on its site at Ranging from the Eagle Lake Tramway to Eartha, the giant DeLorme globe, each location has a thorough write-up and photos. Great inspiration for anyone ready for a spring fieldtrip!!

Got a report of your own to file? Go ahead! Atlas Obscura depends on curiosity-seeking travelers to add to its information.

Friday, April 22, 2011

1978 UFO report from Strong, ME

A report was filed April 12th on the MUFON website ( relating a 1978 sighting (reproduced verbatim below):
Three of us, July 1978, teenagers at the time, were night fishing for eel on the shore of the Sandy River in Strong Maine. We heard a whooshing sound, like the wind, directly overhead, we looked up, and said at the same time, "Wow look at that", and there was a black triangle, with rounded points. Each point had a fixed colored light, (not blinking)red, blue, and green. The round lights were at least 10 feet in diameter, much bigger than any man made aircraft lights i've seen otherwise. The triangle was an estimated 300 feet each side. The craft was approximately 300 to 400 feet above us and made no noise except the sound of the craft cutting the air. The speed of the craft was about 20 miles per hour, too slow to be a conventional aircraft. It was below stall speed and should have crashed, but it kept slowly flying west, up river until it went out of sight. Time span was about 30 seconds. my brother still thinks to this day that it was an experimental military aircraft. In my opinion, it was a technology out of our reach and beyond our capabilities at the time. This is the only flying triangle I have seen. I have had 9 other experiences that I will share at another time, 4 of which were during my childhood in the 1970s. Keep looking skyward my friends. Phil62.

Just one more example of the high-strangeness era of the 1970s! Even Maine wasn't immune to a rash of UFO sightings. In the September 7, 1976, issue of the Biddeford Journal, mixed in with all the other classified ads for lost wallets and "Hairdressing in your home" by Mr. Andre, the following ad was run:
PLEASE report UFO sightings or encounters in your area to:
Shirley C. Fickett, 797-2664, International UFO Bureau, East Coast Headquarters, 482 Auburn St., Portland Me. 04103.
We are serious about UFO's and need information. They are also being seen in other areas. We will be confidential, we are not with the government.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Maine Talks... but how?

One fascination that folks seem to have with Maine is the so-called "Maine accent," which is liberally abused by actors from all over the place.

Mainer Tara Taylor did a bunch of research on the topic for her thesis project, which can be seen online at, and is called "Hahd Tellin' Not Knowin'"

The project itself takes the form of a massive Flash file, which will take some time to load and watch. But the end result is pretty neat. The page that loads gives you several options. You can listen and read about "The Dialect," "The Words" (there's a great vocabulary list), and "The People" who use them. For another melange of words and images, you can click on "The Place." All in all, it's a fun way to focus on the rhythm of speech that most of us here in Maine take for granted.

I realized when listening to her recorded interviews that I run across the Maine accent all the time, but being from here I don't think about it, my brain just fills in the blanks and accepts certain turns of phrase and pronunciations as normal. For me, they are normal. There's almost a tidal push and pull in the way Mainers talk that grows on you, and while it drives some folks from away nuts trying to decipher it, there are those of us that delight in it as a simple element of who everyone here is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Umbrella Cover Museum guide!

What can I say about Uncovered and Exposed! A Guide to the World’s Only Umbrella Cover Museum? Once again, Nancy 3. Hoffman has outdone herself.

As director and curator of the Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks Island, Nancy has long done her darnedest to remind the rest of us about the magic and delight that can be found in the most mundane objects. Now, as the author of this book, she is spreading the word even further than the shores of Peaks.

Like the narrated tour she gives to guests of the museum, her guide is peppered with inimitable Nancy-isms and keen observations about umbrella covers and their reflection of our culture. From statistical facts about the mysterious little tabs (a.k.a. doo-hickeys) that appear on many umbrella covers to the battle with her word processor over whether or not “doo-hickey” should be one word or two, the guide sets out to entertain and educate us in fine fettle.
The book is self-published in a sturdy square-bound format, and is packed with full-color photos of museum treasures and events. Like any good museum guide, it walks armchair visitors through the museum piece by piece, pointing out the items that might be missed in the midst of their normally distracting surroundings. Not only do you get to see the covers as documented by Nancy’s camera, but also you find out each piece’s provenance, which in some cases can be far more intriguing than their plain appearance would indicate to an uninformed spectator.

Are you curious yet? The book is available at local bookshops or through the museum’s website at The museum reopens for the season in May, and can be reached by calling (207)766-4496. The best way to get there (unless you have your own boat) is to take the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Peaks Island, a pleasant 20-minute ride out of Portland Harbor.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

New Issue of the Gazette!

Hello everyone! Just a note to let you know that issues of the Strange Maine Gazette's first issue of 2011 are on their way out into the world. I just updated the list of places you can get copies of it (see righthand side of blog page), and added a bunch of new spots. If you know a place that would like to carry issues of the quarterly publication, drop me a line with the address to send them to and I'll add them to the list.

Most of the Portland locations have the new issue, and other towns' issues will be in the mail on Monday, so check with those fine establishments later next week! Subscribers will have their new issues within the next few days. Hooray!

Image from depicting Mr C. BECKER, Dover Town Crier (PHOTO of him) “celebrates 80th Birthday on February 27th. Town Crier for 48 years (Dover Express 6.2.1914 p.2)