Sunday, December 15, 2013

Upcoming New England graveyard lectures!

Spirits Alive has just announced three upcoming Saturday afternoon lectures. The talks will explore aspects of Colonial New England burial grounds: customs and symbolism in stones, stone cutter Bartlett Adams, and the status of Portland's small burial grounds.
Stone for Andrew Mackie's Family Tomb, Eastern Cemetery, Portland
WHEN: Saturdays (monthly as listed below), 1:30 - 3:00pm
WHERE: University of Southern Maine, Abromson Center, Wishcamper Building - Room 102, 34 Bedford Street, Portland Maine
COST: Suggested donation: $5.00 per person

Series dates:

January 25: “The Art, History, and Symbolism of Early New England Gravestones”
Presented by the Gravestone Girls - Melissa Anderson, Maggie White, and Brenda Sullivan

February 22: “Bartlett Adams: Portland’s First Stone Cutter”
Exploring the life, times, and works of the shop of Bartlett Adams, who maintained his shop in Portland, Maine from 1800 to 1828. Lecturer: Ron Romano, member of Spirits Alive Board and Summer Tour Docent

March 29: “The Status and Future of Portland's Forgotten Cemeteries”
A panel of cemetery representatives will discuss several historic small burial grounds in the area and what is takes to restore them to our cultural landscape.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Event: HauntME @ McArthur Library TONIGHT!

WHAT: Haunt ME at the McArthur Library After Dark!
WHEN: TONIGHT! Weds, October 30, 2013 @ 6:00-8:00
WHERE: McArthur Public Library, 270 Main Street, Biddeford, ME
COST: Free and open to the public
FMI: (207)284-4181 or

Join Haunt ME at the McArthur Library in Biddeford for a special early premiere of our Season 2 episode, in which we investigate the historic library to see what spirits may be lurking amongst the shelves and reading rooms! Episode will be followed by a Q&A session with the Haunt ME team. Come meet the ghost hunters and see what they've found! A perfect way to spend a spooky pre-Halloween evening...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By golly, ONE MORE Halloween 2013 event!

WHAT: Shoestring Theater Annual Halloween Parade
WHEN: helpers @5:30, folks already in costume & bystanders 6:00 sharp!!!
WHERE: 155 Brackett Street, Portland, Maine
COST: Free and open to the public!

Every year the residents of Portland's West End neighborhood are treated to a wild hootenanny of marching masked revelers as the Shoestring Theater's annual parade makes its winding way from its homebase at 155 Brackett Street (in the parking lot beside Fresh Approach Market) into the wilds and sidestreets of the West.

As the sun sets, the hooligans and neighbors gather. As the dark sets in, the drums start to rattle, horns trumpet out, and howls and happy yells echo from between the old houses and trees. Trick or treaters gape and interrupt their candy gathering to stare (though only briefly). Stiltwalkers strut, tricycles and wagons are welcome, and everyone should come ready for some freeform Halloween fun!!!

I talked to Nance Parker (well, our voicemails talked to eachother, haha), and she said, "Yes, the parade is on!" Every year the theater has to apply for a permit for a police escort to do the parade properly and safely.

One thing Nance wanted to make sure you all know is that "we really need people to help MAKE the parade!" In other words, if you can go early and help them organize everyone into their spots and help with handing out costume parts and instruments, and help escort everyone in the group, or assist in working some of the parade's bigger creations as the parade moves through the neighborhood, Nance says, "We would so dearly appreciate it!"

If you want to help out, come along a little early, at 5:30pm, and get everyone ready for the 6:00 departure en masse! It's a really good time no matter what you're doing.

Wondering what the parade is like? It's crazy wonderful! But check it out, starting with early preparation and going through the march itself in this great video from 2009:

Shoestring Theater's Annual Halloween Parade from Aaron Woodbury on Vimeo.

For an example of what the parade sounds like, there is a video from the 2007 parade that has a live soundtrack recorded on site:

One last Halloween 2013 event!

Fans of Maine supernatural lore know that there are a few classic Maine ghost story books that are staples in any Mainer's library. One of those is the perennial Maine Ghosts and Legends by Thomas Verde. Well guess what? The author is re-releasing the book in time for Halloween, and is making an appearance here in Portland at Longfellow Books, TOMORROW NIGHT! Fans of the original book may want to pick a new copy up -- my old edition has 126 pages, while the new 2nd edition counts in at 160 pages, and the prior edition had 26 stories, while this one features a total of 30 tales! This means there is some new material in this edition, and maybe even some updates to the old stories (pure optimistic speculation!!!).

WHAT: Maine Ghosts & Legends by Thomas Verde
WHEN: Wednesday, October 30th @ 7:00pm
WHERE: Longfellow Books, One Monument Way, Portland, ME
COST: Free and open to the public
FMI: (207)772-4045

Maine has a rich supernatural history and ghost stories from the state are as varied as they are prolific. Freelance writer and reporter Tom Verde first became interested in such eerie occurrences while researching first-hand encounters with ghosts for a series of public radio programs.

•The dagger-wielding shade who terrorized a Portland couple
•The murdered Indian who revisited Means’s Tavern
•Famed diva Lillian Nordica, whose voice still echoes through the Farmington auditorium named in her honor
•The hostile spirit who tried to frighten the tenants out of an Orrington house
•Even an entire phantom ship, bound eternally for Freeport

These are not fictitious creations of literary imagination. People from all walks of life—including many who were positive they would never believe in ghosts—attest to these encounters.

Join us for a spooky pre-Halloween evening reading of Maine ghost stories with author Thomas Verde! As always, Longfellow Books events are free and open to the public.


If you are wondering which three classic Maine ghost books I'm speaking of, they are:

Ghosts on the Coast of Maine by Carol Olivieri Schulte
The Supernatural Side of Maine by C.J. Stevens
and of course Verde's Maine Ghosts and Legends: 26 Encounters with the Supernatural!

There are other books written more recently, but these 3 are the triumvirate I have had on hand for years and years. [NOTE: Quite frankly, I especially do not recommend Stansfield's Haunted Maine, unless you want to read a book by someone from away who embellished and misappropriated existing stories, some of which are not based in Maine at all, although he says they were. Take your chances with him as you wish, purely for entertainment value, but know that he wrote many of the tales with liberal misdirection.]

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween 2013: Round #2!

WHAT: The Improvised Puppet Project presents: Puppets & Poe!
WHEN: Sunday, October 27, 2013 @ 6:00pm
WHERE: Acorn Theater, 90 Bridge St Westbrook, ME
COST: $10 per person, all ages
FMI: (207) 854-0065 or

New Hampshire's Stranger Than Fiction Improv and Comedy joins the Improvised Puppet Project for a two-in-one night of improvised horror!

Edgar Allan Bingoe
Officially Edgar Allen Poe only wrote one novel, but the cast of Stranger Than Fiction will reveal a previously unknown work, perhaps the strangest, darkest, and funniest work of his career. On a dark and stormy night, detective E. Francois Roget is mysteriously called to the crumbling House of Forsythe to deal with a terrible unknown calamity. But what is the calamity? There are so many!

Puppets of Terror
The usually charming and harmless puppets of the IPP show their dark side in this improvised tale of terror. Tell us what scares you -- if you dare! -- and we'll spin you a story that will haunt your Halloween!


WHAT: Mysterious Destinations: Midnight Explore at Winter Street Center
WHEN: Oct. 26 from 9:00pm - 12:00 midnight
WHERE: Winter Street Center, Bath, ME
COST: $35, by reservation only. Call (207)380-4677 or email

Join the Mysterious Destinations team for a Midnight Explore at the haunted Winter Street Center in Bath. Two floors of documented paranormal activity will offer plenty of chances for new evidence to be found by YOU, after a brief training about paranormal detection equipment, how to use it, and the history of the building.

Mysterious Destinations will provide a variety of equipment for guests, though participants are also encouraged to bring their own gear, with cameras and flashlights recommended. The price for the Midnight Explore is only $35 per person with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Winter Street Center. Hot coffee, bottled water and light refreshments will be provided. By reservation only, 207-380-4677,

A “Haunted Combo” is an additional option which includes a Red Cloak Haunted History Walking Tour of Bath before the Midnight Explore, only an extra $10 if you do both. For more information on the Bath walking tours, go to

PLUS!!! ....

WHAT: Mysterious Destinations: Overnight with Myrtle
WHEN: 5:00pm October 26 to 11:00am October 27, 2013
WHERE: The Tipsy Butler B&B and the Newcastle Publick House, Newcastle, ME
COST: Call (207)380-4677 to inquire

Only 1 room left!!

How often do you get to spend the night at a haunted house with a history of paranormal activity? How often would you be able to do this during Halloween season? And, how often would you be able to join the adventure and use specialized equipment to document any paranormal activity? Join Mysterious Destinations at the Tipsy Butler B&B and the Newcastle Publick House, both haunted by Myrtle! Includes dinner and breakfast. By reservation only.


WHAT: Longfellow's Haunted House: An Evening Based on the Poem Haunted Houses
WHEN: October 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, tours from 6:00-7:30pm
COST: $10 per person, by reservation only. Please call (207)774-1822 x212 to buy tickets.

Don't miss this unique evening tour of the Longfellow House in the week leading up to Halloween! Based on Longfellow's poem, "Haunted Houses" -- "All houses wherein men have lived and died / Are haunted houses" -- the 90-minute tour will be led by seasoned guide James Horrigan. It will bring to life the various family members that died in the Wadsworth-Longfellow over its long history.

There are only five tour evenings: October 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, from 6-7:30 PM. RSVPs are required and each tour is limited to 12. Admission fee of $10 pp is payable at the door. To reserve a spot, call 207-774-1822 ext. 212.

Don't miss this unique evening tour of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in the week leading up to Halloween! Based on Longfellow's poem, Haunted Houses -- "All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses" -- the 90-minute tour will be led by seasoned guide James Horrigan. It will highlight the various family members that died in the house over its long history. Recommended for ages 12 and older. Tour times, admission, and details online.


WHAT: Walk Among the Shadows IV: Souls at Sea
WHEN: October 24-26 & 30-31, 6:30pm - 7:30pm, and Sunday, October 27, 5:00pm - 6:00pm
WHERE: Eastern Cemetery gates, 224 Congress Street, Portland, ME
COST: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Hear tales of long-dead residents inside the oldest resting place in Portland. Yes, folks, it's back! Walk Among the Shadows allows the brave to travel Funeral Lane at night.

Led by hooded specters, the strong of heart will hear ghosts of the past tell their eerie Civil War-time tales among the dimly lit ancient stones. Fun for the whole family! Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. There are no presales, so arrive early to find a parking space and get a chance to enter the gates with a group.

How does it work?

+ Dress warmly!
+ Meet at the Congress Street gate
+ The line begins to form by 6:15pm each night so the first group is ready to go through at 6:30pm
+ First-come, first-served!
+ The event is not scary and is appropriate for children of all ages
+ Groups will proceed into the site every 15 minutes led by a silent specter; groups of about 12 will go through; prepare to wait in line on busy nights!
+ Tickets are $10, children under 12 are $5
+ Tours last about 45 minutes to 1 hour
+ Wear appropriate layers and footwear — it gets chilly when the sun goes down, and you'll be trekking down Funeral Lane, a dirt pathway
+ Tours may be canceled because of rain or snow(!)
+ Our specters, gate helpers, organizers, and actors (everyone, that is) are all volunteers! Half of all proceeds raised go to Spirits Alive to help them maintain, improve, and preserve the Eastern Cemetery and the other half go to Acorn Productions, a non-profit performing arts group.


WHAT: Wicked Walking Tours
WHEN: Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00pm, Sundays @ 7:00pm, PLUS Weds & Thurs, Oct 30 & 31, special 8:00pm tour time!
WHERE: 72 Commercial Street, Portland, ME at Bell Buoy Park.
COST: $15, reservations required. Call ShowClix at (888)718-4253 or visit
FMI: or (207)730-0490

Learn about Portland's dark legends and ghostly tales during a twisted tour through the Old Port.

WHEN: 8 p.m. today to Saturday and Tuesday to Oct. 29; 7 p.m. Oct. 30; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31

Meet at Bell Buoy Park near Casco Bay Lines, Portland. Look for your guide, who will be carrying a lantern -- there is no sign in the park. The park is between the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal and Ri-Ra/Flatbread restaurants.

The tour's length is LESS than half a mile. A 90-year-old grandmother with a bad leg and a cane walked the tour, and so can you! Tour ending times vary, based on size of group. Tour is suitable for all ages.


WHAT: Junkins Haunted Estate
WHEN: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights October 25-27, and Weds & Thurs October 30-31. Doors open @6:30pm
WHERE: 87 Wilson Road, Kittery, ME
COST: Free admission (donations graciously accepted)
FMI: or email

Once again, the Junkins Haunted Estate gates again swing wide open to the swamp!! At 6:30pm, meet your creepy hosts! The screaming goes on until about 9:00, weather permitting.

There will be a kid-friendly special hour for the little ones on October 30th at 5:00pm.

Families are welcome and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Over two acres of Halloween decorations grace the estate grounds. But don’t let the friendly spook decorations that you see from the safety of your car fool you. If you want any candy, it’s up to you to travel a quarter mile through the haunted swamp! Follow the luminaries towards the woods, and cross the bridge into the swamp. Darkness will surround you and the cold swamp air will chill you to your bones! Oh, and by the way... they WILL be waiting for you!


WHAT: Haunted Campground
WHEN: October 25 and 26, 5:00-9:00pm, with an "adults only" Rocky Horror showing on the 25th at 9:30pm
WHERE: 620 Commercial St., Rockport, ME
COST: $10 per adult, $5 each for kids under 12 years old

Megunticook hosts their first annual Haunted Campground this year!

Haunted hayride...Haunted Village...Costume Contests....And an outdoor viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Its sure to be a ghoulish good time! Get ready to scream!!!


WHAT: Ghostly Bangor walking tour
WHEN: Thurs Oct 24, Sat Oct 26, Mon Oct 28, Wed Oct 30, 2013. Tours start at 7:00pm
WHERE: Meets at the Thomas A. Hill House at 159 Union Street, Bangor, ME
COST: $10 adult non-BMHC-members, $8 BMHC members, $5 children under 12 years, those under 5 years old are FREE!

Tickets can be purchased here:

Prepare for the paranormal! Follow a winding path through haunted Bangor and stop at several sites to hear tales of ghostly activity on this special tour. You may even see a spectre or two who will tell their tales of tragedy and explain why the haunting still occurs. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, one thing is for certain - some former residents of Bangor are still around, trapped here either by their own will or circumstance and have something to say to the living. Bring a friend or come alone...if you dare!

Please dress accordingly (warmly!!!) and wear comfortable walking shoes.


WHAT: Mount Hope at Twilight walking tour
WHEN: Friday, October 25: tour starts at 5:00pm.
WHERE: Tours meet at the Mt Hope Superintendent's Office at 1048 State Street
COST: $10 adult non-BMHC-members, $5 children under 12 years, BMHC members & those under 5 years old are FREE!

Buy tickets here:

Take a most unusual tour of the second oldest Garden Cemetery in the country and meet some of the lesser known residents. See the sights you would not get to see on just any given day. Hear the tales of the lost, forgotten, and murdered in Bangor's history. Walk the faint trails of the Public Grounds area, see the gravesite of Bangor's first murder victim, and listen to the tales of the city's unwanted and unknown found in Stranger's Row. Recommended for ages 12 and up.


WHAT: The Raven, Ghouls and Renewal: Pagan Poems & Stories for Halloween
WHEN: Sunday, October 27 @ 7:30pm
WHERE: Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland
COST: $7 per person, $4 each for students and seniors
FMI: (207)233-4965

Join the Poets Theater of Maine and channel the Pagan spirit of Samhain for a night of Halloween stories and dramatic performances.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween 2013: Round #1!

WHAT: The Ghosts of Smuttynose, haunted-house-style performance
WHEN: Friday, October 18, 2013 from 5:30-8:00pm
WHERE: Jeffereds Tavern, Museums of Olde York, 3 Lindsay Road, York, ME
COST: $5 per person
FMI: Call (207)363-1040 or visit

York Parks and Recreation present "The Ghosts of Smuttynose," featuring witches, a haunted schoolhouse, folklore and the infamous Smuttynose murders!

Returning for a second year "The Ghosts of Smuttynose" has added new thrills and an expanded site to thrill and scare people of all ages. The haunted-house style performance of Maine's most famous murder will return in Jefferds Tavern alongside an expanded site that includes a haunted schoolhouse, scary true stories told in the town cemetery, a smoking witches cauldron complete with hags of yore and ghost stories, ghouls, folklore and the truth behind some of the witch's secrets.

Presented by the York Park and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Museums of Olde York, this event will kick off the haunting season in grand style.


WHAT: Tales of Terror at Victoria Mansion!
WHEN: Friday, October 18, 2013 - two shows: 6:00pm and 8:00pm (both for teens and adults), and Saturday, October 19 at 6:00pm (for kids 10 & under) & 8:00pm (teens and adults).
WHERE: Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth Street, Portland, Maine
COST: Adults $22, Museum Members $15, 17 years old & younger $10. Please purchase tickets at link below:
FMI: or call (207)772-4841

Storyteller Lynne Cullen will tell two unsettling stories by two great writers of Victorian horror fiction: 'The Cask of Amontillado' by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and 'The Judge's House' by Bram Stoker (1847-1912). To link the tales, she will play haunting airs on the concertina. This is Lynne's seventh 'Tales of Terror' at Victoria Mansion.
Having been thoroughly horrified, visitors can then take a self-guided tour of the Mansion, with lights dimmed to gaslight levels. Ghostly guides will materialize to answer any questions about the house.

Space is limited. Reserving your ticket is strongly recommended (by calling phone number or via link given above).


WHAT: "Nightmares," an evening of terrifying tales
WHEN: Monday, October 21, 7:00-9:00pm
WHERE: Bull Feeney's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 375 Fore Street, Portland, Maine

To celebrate Halloween, Seanachie Nights regulars (Lynne Cullen and Kurt Kish) and three storytellers from MOOSE (Maine Organization of Storytelling Enthusiasts: Jean Armstrong, Susan Dries, and Bill Hinderer) bring you frightening tales of the supernatural from around the world.

Bill Hinderer is a father, husband, professional cook, veteran, and storyteller who was raised in a family full of tales. He also tells stories based on his experiences in the Vietnam War.

Jean Armstrong is a speech pathologist, storyteller, and founding member of MOOSE, who knows a lot of spooky folktales. For more information, please visit

Susan Dries has been telling ghost stories for over 30 years. Her dry wit and laconic style make the unbelievable believable.


If you don't want to drive to Massachusetts or New Hampshire for a haunt attraction, Maine has its own haunts that will scare your socks off!

WHAT: Destination Haunt outdoor haunt attraction
WHEN: Evenings, Thursday-Sunday, through Nov. 2nd, 2013
WHERE: 249 Lord Rd, Lebanon, Maine
COST: Varies. See
FMI: (207)351-5171 or email destinationhaunt[at] or visit

4 Attractions In One!!!

1) Twilight Trail
2) Buried Alive Cemetery
3) Execution Center
4) Lebanon Laboratory

If we told you more, you'd be too scared to go. :D


WHAT: Fright at the Fort!
WHEN: October 19th & 20th and 26th & 27th, (Fridays and Saturdays), 5:30 to 9:00pm,
WHERE: 711 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, ME
COST: $10 per person
FMI: (207)469-6553

Visitors are led through the dark passageways of Fort Knox where indescribable things lurk in the shadows, creating screams of fright.

October 18th, Crew Night (begins at 5:30 PM), groups of four or more will receive a free pumpkin (while they last). Be the first this century to experience the black plague!

On October 19th, Ghostport activities will be going on all day across the river in Bucksport. A radio simulcast fireworks display (rain date 10/26) can be viewed from Bucksport at 9:30pm. The display will be sponsored by the Friends of Fort Knox, Atlas Fireworks and radio station WKIT. WKIT will be broadcasting and Atlas will be timing the fireworks to music. Top off the evening with a showing of American Werewolf in London at Bucksport's Alamo Theatre at 10:00pm.

October 25th, Beat the last night crowds night...

October 26th, Come in costume and get a jump on Halloween. Random prizes will be awarded...for no better reason than...we like your outfit!!

The event takes place, rain or shine! Proceeds from Fright support Friends of Fort Knox preservation efforts.


WHAT: The Gauntlet Haunted Night Ride
WHEN: 7:00-11:00pm Fridays and Saturdays through October 2013, plus Thurs 10/31 -- Halloween Night!!!
WHERE: Rte. 26, 125 Pigeon Hill Rd, Mechanic Falls, ME
COST: $15 per person
FMI: or call (207)998-3259

If you are fortunate enough to survive the new twists and turns of the Gauntlet, don't be looking forward to end the Nightride with a well lit walk back to the safety of the farm...not a chance...just when you think its's not. The end of the ride is the beginning of the next nightmare as you find yourself abandoned in the dark of the night and have to find your way through THE HAUNTED NIGHT MAZE!

Don't confuse the Haunted Night Maze with our Big Corn Maze Adventure...they are two separate and definitely not equal mazes. One is for fun and adventure and one is for gut wrenching fear.

If your looking for an evening of haunting fun and adventure,then reserve your spot any Friday or Saturday night through the end of October online at and click on the ticket icon on our Gauntlet web page. May the spirits be with you!

Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.


WHAT: 7th Annual Haunting at ParSem! "A Grim Night at Par Sem"
WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays, Oct 18-19th, & Oct 25-26th 6:30-9:30pm
WHERE: Parsonsfield Seminary, 504 North Road, Parsonsfield, ME
COST: $10 per person, 12 years old & under $5.00 each
FMI: (603)539-7910 or (603)539-5233 or (207)793-8825

Visit and partake in our version of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Aesops's Fables, and Mother Goose's Evening School in our 42-room building and historic campus! The only question is -- are the haunters actors, or are they... the usual unearthly evening residents of the campus...? You'll have to decide for yourself!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Gazette is out! Plus an MGH event!

Holy moley, it's been about a million years since I updated the blog. I do apologize! I have a couple of pieces of news that I thought you all might be interested in.

First, I have a new issue of the Strange Maine Gazette out! All the dropoff locations listed on the sidebar of the blog site should have their copies within the next day or two, or if they're in Portland, they already have them now. Subscribers should also see their copies arriving in the mail, hopefully by the end of the week. Hooray!!! Now I just have to do two more issues by the end of the year and I'll be back on schedule.

The second item of interest is an upcoming Maine Ghost Hunters event which is being run as a benefit fundraiser from which ALL PROCEEDS will go to the "Lungs for Shawn" Foundation. Shawn is a young man living in Augusta, Maine who is in desperate need of a double lung transplant. The surgery itself will cost in excess of $600,000. MGH is aiming high to raise as much as we can on Shawn's behalf. Shawn needs us now more than ever, as his surgery is quite an imminent concern.

For more details see the full listing:
When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 6:00 PM
Where: Mill Agent's House, 7 Priest Hill Road, Vassalboro, ME 04989
Price: $40.00 per person
Save $10 with the EARLY SIGN UP DISCOUNT (all persons who signed up already will be refunded the difference).
Tickets are $30.00 per person if you sign up by 11:59pm on Sunday October 13, 2013.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: State Theater building wall collapse

[NOTE: Please check major news outlets for other post-noon updates!]

Just before noon today I was on my way to open the Green Hand Bookshop, and a friend ran by, telling me that the High Street side of the State Theater building was collapsing. On arriving at the corner of High and Congress Streets, it looked better than I had imagined. You can click on the photos to see more detail.

You can see the collapse is very centralized. A source with a studio on the Congress Street side of the building was in her studio this morning, and when she noticed the fire engines and cordoned off street, tried to leave via the High Street exit and was told by officials that she had to leave the building from the Congress Street exit because the High Street exit was "unsafe."

She also reported hearsay from other building tenants that there had been a small explosion that morning (a jeweler's torch tank? it seemed possible on first consideration with all the artist studios in there), which would explain how centralized the incident was. However, another friend did point out that none of the windows are broken, which would belie that explanation.  Another person has stated since that the loud "CRACK!" could have simply been the facade forcibly separating from the structure.  Architect Tom Hitchins had this to say, after looking at the photos:
"Basically what you have there is a brick veneer coming loose from the structural wall, which seems to be intact. The fact that the windows aren't broken is another good sign. Brick veneers are often secured to the structural wall with metal brick ties, leaving an air space between brick and wall for moisture control (brick and mortar are porous). Sometimes, as the building ages, particularly if there isn't adequate drainage between the veneer and the wall, moisture can build up and corrode the brick ties which causes them to fail, leading to situations like this. It's a bit messy, and may require the brick skin to be redone but structurally the building is probably sound."

Since then another person has weighed in (see comment below) with information that a few years ago all the jewelers in the building's studios were told they could no longer have tanks on the premises.

The most recent word is that they have workmen up there with crowbars levering bricks out one by one.

Any more demolition engineers out there want to weigh in? [NOTE: The above paragraphs updated as info comes in.]

You can see it is primarily the facade layer of bricks that was affected, which hopefully means good things for the building's infrastructure, which was my first worry (I'm sure I wasn't alone in that!). Here in Portland we have watched the new owners slave over improving that building through the last few years, and none of us wants them to fail. The State Theater building is a huge cornerstone of the Arts District.

A small crowd had gathered in Congress Square Plaza to observe the state of the building, as well as higher-ups from the Portland Police and Fire Departments, and a smattering of news video cameras.
All this madness, of course, is piled on top of the already busy day. This Sunday in June is when the Old Port Festival is held, which adds tens of thousands of visitors to the already busy city traffic. In fact, on arriving intown this morning, I assumed the fire truck blocking High Street was part of an Old Port Festival related traffic arrangement. Many others probably did the same.

Another source reported hearsay that there were small chunks of masonry falling onto the sidewalk, which prompted a call from a watchful citizen who happened to be passing by. They looked up and noticed the bulge in the wall and called the city immediately. Thanks, whoever you are! In this photo you can see the remains of the detritus:

More photos here:

The State Theater's website is here:

Friday, March 22, 2013

RIP Rick Hautala -- a lifetime is not long enough.

Yesterday evening a friend emailed me to let me know some sad news. Rick Hautala, Maine author and someone I’d just started to become friends with in the last few years, died suddenly yesterday afternoon of a heart attack at age 64.

Rick at NECON 2006
I couldn’t quite believe it was true, but when I went to his website at, there it was. Rick’s wife Holly had posted the following on his Facebook page Thursday afternoon: “Hi all and thank you. Just to let you know there will be no funeral, as that was not Rick’s thing. I am hoping to put together a celebration of his life in a month or two. We are just devastated here, and I really appreciate your kind words. Will keep you posted…”

As shocked as I was, I can’t even begin to imagine what Holly and the rest of Rick’s family and friends are going through. My heart goes out to them.

UPDATE: Fellow author Christopher Golden has posted on his blog about how you can assist Rick's family:

Those of you who attended the Lovecraft Lounge short film showing at my shop in August of 2011 to hear him speak and answer questions about the short film "Lovecraft's Pillow" which we screened will remember how nice he was, and how willing he was to give even the smallest crowd of fans his time and energy. He was even patient in explaining over and over again how to pronounce his name [HOW-tah-lah].

Rick was the most positive, friendly, and helpful "Ink-Stained Wretch" I have had the pleasure to meet. I am having a hard time realizing I'll never get a chance to tell him this. This post is simply one more small step towards reminding local folks of Rick, the writer-next-door that so many took for granted as being forever nearby. He will be missed. I'm glad he wrote as much as he did, it's going to have to last us a long while. Here's to Rick Hautala. Maine has lost a good inky friend.

I came to read Rick’s work only recently, though like many of us here in Maine I knew of him for years. I sampled his books here and there, invited him to speak about his screenwriting work for “Lovecraft’s Pillow” at my bookshop, and almost got to give an introduction for his talk at October 2012’s “Little Festival of Horrors” at the Portland Public Library (the event was cancelled by the arrival of Hurricane Sandy). I was looking forward to having another chance to introduce him this fall, but sadly that will not happen now.

Here is the short film, Lovecraft’s Pillow, if you haven’t seen it yet:

Little Brothers, 1988
I also spent some time last year interviewing him about his “Little Brother” stories as part of my research for a Strange Maine related book I am working on right now about Bigfoot in Maine history and culture. Rick was always ready to answer my questions and set me straight on what his goals in writing were.

As Rick said to me, “Honestly, I was (and am) just trying to tell stories to entertain and amuse people … and, yeah! … to creep them out.” What more could we ask from one of our state’s longest publishing horror authors? All he wanted to do was entertain us.

To quote Rick:
The most dominant theme I see (and what do I know? I’m just the writer) is people being tested to:

1) Accept something that they believe or have been told is “impossible,” and
2) Do something about it. Face it. Deal with it. Try to come out on top.

All of the LITTLE BROTHERS stories—and THE MOUNTAIN KING, too, I think, are about people coming to grips with something that, according to their limited belief structures, is impossible … yet real, nonetheless.

Losing Rick so suddenly has thrown myself and others who always thought he’d be around into just that position. How we deal with it is up to us.

For those of you who didn’t know much about Rick, here is the introduction I wrote for his postponed appearance at the Little Festival of Horrors:


Hello everyone, and welcome to the second author talk of the Portland Public Library’s LITTLE FESTIVAL OF HORRORS. I have the pleasure today of introducing Maine author Rick Hautala to you. He is the published author of over 90 novels and short stories, many of which have been translated to other languages and sold internationally. His short story collection, Bedbugs, was selected by Barnes & Noble as one of the most distinguished horror publications of the year 2000.

Most recently the Horror Writers Association awarded him the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement for 2011, which was presented to him at the annual banquet in spring 2012. Rick lives just outside of Portland with fellow author Holly Newstein. He moved to Maine to go to college back in the day, and never left.

His stories, which are sometimes supernatural in nature, most often deal with monsters of all sorts. He enjoys monsters, whether they’re real or not. That’s how he approached his novel The Mountain King which he aimed to write as a rip-snorting, limb-rippingly fun monster book. The story places a family of Bigfoot-like creatures in the mountains of New England, and lets the reader in on what exactly happens when the inevitable culture clash between hikers and homicidal Bigfoot families happens.

His novel Little Brothers is a favorite of many of his fans, and spawned a handful of stories and pseudo-myths about these creatures which haunt the Maine woods. There is a new Little Brothers novella titled Indian Summer which is coming out soon from Cemetery Dance Publications. Other forthcoming books include Chills and Waiting (also from Cemetery Dance), and Star Road, which St. Martin's is slated to release in 2014.

In addition, Little Brothers was recently optioned for a film, and a team is currently working on adapting it into screenplay form.

In fact, Rick writes screenplays himself. His adaptation of award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke's "Peekers" is currently on the film festival circuit. My personal favorite of these projects is the short film “Lovecraft’s Pillow,” which was based on a story suggestion from Stephen King. In this speculative story, a desperate and bankrupt man buys a pillow that once belonged to famed horror author H.P. Lovecraft in the hopes it will inspire his own writing. The results are … understandably uncanny, to say the least.

But enough from me. I’ll let Rick speak for himself. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rick Hautala!

Where ever he may be headed to now, I hope his audience has a warm and friendly welcome for him, as he well deserves.

At the end of January, he was interviewed on the Francy and Friends podcast. You can download the MP3 on their site here. Rick shows up about 24 minutes into the otherwise raucous show, and talks candidly, as always, about life as a writer. His personality shines through. He was always a wonderful conversationalist. Enjoy.
Listen to internet radio with FRANCY AND FRIENDS on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zombie Puppet Musical auditions?!!

Yes, the headline does not lie.

WHAT: Audition for the June 2013 show,"A Post-Apocalyptic Improvised Zombie Puppet Musical" with the Improvised Puppet Project
WHEN: Auditions will be Sunday March 24 2013 at 4:00pm
FMI: E-mail Tara at, or visit

The Improvised Puppet Project is holding auditions for their big Spring show, "A Post-Apocalyptic Improvised Zombie Puppet Musical," which will be performed during the second annual Portland Fringe Festival the last week of June 2013.

In case you are wondering what the heck the storyline is, here is the blurbtastic plot summary:

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by puppets, people, and zombies, only the power of musical theater can save the day.

Rehearsal & Performance Dates:
"A Post-Apocalyptic Improvised Zombie Puppet Musical" will perform Wednesday, June 26, and Saturday, June 29 at the Portland Fringe Festival and Sunday June 30 at Acorn Studio Theater in Westbrook. There will be one or two rehearsals per week from the end of March through the end of the run. This show is a 45-minute improvised Broadway-style musical, performed with puppets. Each show will be accompanied by a professional musician who will both score the show and improvise songs to sing to. We are looking for improvisors with musical theater or puppeteering experience -- or a wholehearted willingness to learn a lot of new skills in a relatively short time!

Auditions & Registration:
Auditions will be Sunday afternoon, March 24, at 4:00pm. To register, please e-mail Tara at info[at] with your full name, email address, phone number, and a short description of your improv/musical theater/puppeteering background. We'll get back to you by email and confirm time and location, and also send you more detailed information about what we're looking for. This audition will be more like an improv jam than a normal theater audition -- we want to create a laid-back, low-pressure atmosphere for you to show us your best work. We'll even tell you what we're looking for ahead of time so you don't have to wonder! No need to bring your own puppet, or even a headshot -- just your improvising self, ready to have some fun.

For more information about The Improvised Puppet Project, find us on Facebook:

Friday, March 08, 2013

Scallop swapping?

Mario Moretto, Hancock County reporter
Well, the pressure for me to top the Rangeley Robot Monster story from the other week has been intense. I mean, how does a person top a two-week run which includes dowsers looking for Bigfoot and monster robot attacks?! Luckily for me, the Colbert Report did a fantastically funny segment about an incident on Mount Desert Island. I then found out that the story had originally been reported on by Mario Moretto of the Bangor Daily News.

Enjoy the video, and read on for more!

The news story was originally run in the Bangor Daily News on November 27th when reporter Mario Moretto encountered a post on the Ellsworth Police Department's Facebook page inquiring community-wide about the lost scallop pieces. He posted on Twitter about it, thinking to himself, "Isn't this weird?"

Seeing the post, his editor Rick Levasseur told Moretto he should run with it, and do a full story for the paper. Apparently Moretto and Levasseur have the nose for news, because sure enough Moretto's story got picked up by other Maine outlets and the AP wire. It can now be found reprinted in all sorts of "weird news" columns and news blogs, and everywhere the Colbert Show segment is mentioned. But, as Moretto observes, "It's sort of an occupational hazard in today's media landscape that if a story you wrote goes viral, very little attention is paid to the byline. Everyone knows the story, but not many people pay attention to who reported it."

Read Mario Moretto's original article here:
Southwest Harbor man seeking missing scallop guts after putting them in wrong car

A follow-up article, again by Moretto, appeared in the Bangor Daily News on November 28th with the headline "UM teacher: 'It was me. I have the scallop guts.'" Mario is no stranger to oddball stories. "The thing that makes 'Scallop Guts' such a great story, though, is the happy ending," he said. Darn right.

To read more of Moretto's Hancock County articles, click here:

When I asked Moretto if he had come across other strange Maine news items during his tenure, he admitted there are plenty of "out there" stories, but the scallop guts story seemed to be the best so far. In the past, among other things, he has reported about a woman who snapped photographs of bones she found on a town pier. The woman sent the photos to the state medical examiner's office. "She was convinced they were human, but the Medical Examiner identified them as chicken. A representative from that office told me it happened all the time."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rangeley robot monster attacks!

Back in early August 1960, newspapers across the nation screamed with headlines about the goings-on in Rangeley, Maine.
These were some of the superlative titles given to articles about the incident. But what happened?

Waitress Barbara Brackett had stepped into the walk-in refrigerator at Doc Grant's Restaurant on Main Street. As she moved through the cooler, she brushed up against something. The next thing she knew, she was in a scifi horror movie, with a giant, hideous monster robot grinding away a mere hairsbreadth from her. Sensibly, she ran screaming out the door, through the restaurant, and out onto the street. About 25 customers, no doubt startled by the shrieks and abrupt retreat of their hostess, followed suit. Apparently most of downtown Rangeley wanted to get in on the action, because by the time Deputy Sheriff Ronald "Pete" Durrell arrived, he was surprised to find himself tasked with enacting crowd control on a mob of about 150 people.
James Marshall and his hulking green creation!
Clearer heads prevailed eventually, and it was discovered that James Marshall was the mad inventor responsible for the behemoth that started the panic. The monster, happily described by its creator as "hideous and horrible," was in the walk-in fridge to test its ability to withstand low temperatures.

Poster from one of Dr. Evil's Rangeley
appearances, sometime in the 1960s.

Marshall had great plans for the beast, which he had spent the last couple of years-worth of his spare time to assemble. He had designed it to be featured in Dr. Evil's traveling spookshow, "Terrors of the Unknown." This roadshow made its way across the U.S. and Canada starting in 1953 and going steadily through much of the 1960s, when it lingered long into the tail end of the spookshow era. The show was supposed to go as far as Alaska, hence Marshall's determination that his monster be able to function after exposure to cold weather. It certainly worked enough to scare Ms. Brackett, and the robot's electronic machinery kept going until Marshall arrived to disconnect the wires.

The owner of the restaurant, Elmer "Doc" Grant himself, had given Marshall permission to use the refrigerator, but apparently failed to inquire closely into the exact intentions of the inventor. The newspapers quoted his reaction to the situation, as he stated, "I have never seen such a hideous creature in all my life," and he said that he never wanted to see Marshall or the monster again.

Marshall explained that he had wanted the monster to remain a secret, but it's hard to keep something a secret when it's "more than 12 feet tall, about 13 feet around the chest, with arms as big as a man... half animal and half fish." Add to that the fact that the beast had fur and hair up to the midsection,  succeeded by a layer of large green scales, topped off with a horn coming out of the top of its head. Did he really think people weren't going to take note of such a thing rattling around inside one of the major establishments of downtown Rangeley?
Doc Grant's Restaurant, Rangeley, Maine (postcard photo).
So did Marshall's monster ever make it onto the stage with Dr. Evil? The only clue I have found is this ad, run in the Biddeford-Saco Journal of August 23, 1965, on page 10. What do YOU think...?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Event: Cryptotrip film New England premier

Date below has been updated to reflect change.
WHAT: Cryptotrip's New England premier
WHEN: Sunday, March 10th. Doors open at 3:30 for museum admission, followed by the screening. The event ends at 6:30pm.
WHERE: International Cryptozoology Museum (ICM), 11 Avon Street, Portland, Maine
FMI: or

Join Loren Coleman and the the director Christopher Maloney for the first New England showing of Cryptotrip, a documentary film about the state of cryptozoology in the U.S. at a grass-roots level.

As director Christopher Maloney notes:
“Thousands of unexplained creature sightings are reported in the United States each year. What are people seeing? How does it impact them? What does this say about us as a nation? These questions are explored in a cross-country trek through America’s highways and byways, a journey that explores the phenomena and popularity of cryptozoology in the United States.”

The ICM will hold the screening on Sunday February 24th March 10th, 2013 with museum entry permitted at 3:30.

Admission for the film is $10.00 per person, regardless of age, and includes:

(1) Museum admission;

(2) Showing of Cryptotrip in a casual but unique cryptozoology setting;

(3) Q&A session with Christopher Maloney, writer and director for Cryptotrip;

(4) Your contribution to the educational and scientific mission of the ICM;

(5) Film refreshments for a small donation will be available;

(6) A chance to be one of the first to see this amazing cryptozoological journey!

The Facebook event page can be found here:

View trailer here:

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lovecraft's influence on Maine artists

Photographer Eric Pomorski surveys his fellow artists' work.
It will come as no surprise to readers that once again I and other Portland, Maine, artists (as well as a few guests from away) have fallen under the spell of Lovecraft. The result is an epic artshow, Lovecraft: A Darker Key, which is showing at Sanctuary's gallery here in Portland from Feb 1, 2013, to May 1st, 2013 (or, Candelmas to Beltane).

The show, curated by Carrie Vinette, Michelle Souliere, and Brandon Kawashima, features the works of: Eric Anderson, Tom Brown, Clayton Cameron, Brandon Kawashima, Max Leon, Marco, Christian Matzke, Corey Paradise, Eric Pomorski, Michelle Souliere, Dave Stelmok, Jason Thompson, and Carrie Vinette.

WHAT: Lovecraft: A Darker Key artshow
WHERE: Sanctuary, 31 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine
WHEN: Feb 1 - May 1, 2013; viewing hours 11:00-7:00 Tues-Sat
FMI: Contact Carrie at Sanctuary: (207)828-8866

The artists involved range from illustrators to sculptors to photographers to painters, each showing his or her own interpretation of the elements of Lovecraft's stories. To quote Nicholas Schroeder of the Portland Phoenix, "Viewers, particularly those who haven't read Lovecraft, might look at 'A Darker Key'... as a richly involved visual glossary of profoundly alien terms."

Participants include such horror luminaries as Eric Anderson of the Shoggoth Assembly (who recently worked on effects for the local projects Ragged Isle and Hanover House), Mortimer Glum (currently working on art for Escape from Jesus Island), Jason Thompson (artist of the recently published Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath), Tom Brown (artist of the recently published Hopeless, Maine), and Christian Matzke (director of Nyarlothotep and An Imperfect Solution: A Tale Of The Re-Animator).

The classic weird fiction writing of author H.P. Lovecraft forms the dark heart of this delectable array of eldritch art. Each artist was inspired by the dreamlike vistas created by Lovecraft's pen in the brief window between the years of 1917 and 1935. The world of his fiction was one of contrast between cosmic horror and eerie beauty. The title of this show references one of the stories in his Dream Cycle, "The Silver Key." Appropriately, this art show bookends the anniversary of his early death, March 15 (1937).

Come, and peer through the eyes of artists at the vision of a master writer!

Those curious about the show will find an assortment of photos from the opening night here on my Flickr page:

Read more:
Blending Lovecraft and Modern Art, by Nicholas Schroeder, Portland Phoenix 02/07/13

“Lovecraft: A Darker Key” opens tonight at Sanctuary Tattoo [A discussion with Michelle Souliere], by Alex Steed, Bangor Daily News 2/1/2013

Explore the artists' websites:
-- Eric Anderson of the Shoggoth Assembly special effects group:

-- Tom Brown, artist of Hopeless, Maine (Archaia, 2012)

-- Max Leon, illustrator and fine artist

-- Christian Matzke of Page Street Studios and Crawling Chaos
Portland Art Exhibit Imagines Counterattack on Mars, Bangor Daily News 9/2/2011

-- Eric Pomorski, photographer

--Michelle Souliere, author and illustrator of Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State

-- Jason Thompson, artist of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

-- Carrie Vinette of Sanctuary Tattoo