Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween 2014 Events: Round #1

WHAT: Damnationland 2014: The Way Life Should Bleed
WHEN: Friday, October 17, 2014 @ 8:00pm
WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St, Portland, Maine
COST: $10 advance / $12 day of show, $5 Student ticket in person. Buy tickets in person at the Cross Insurance Arena Box Office, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 and online at
FMI: Facebook event page:

If you can't make the premiere tonight, there are showings later in October! Check out the list at
Tonight, Portland’s State Theatre proudly hosts the world premiere of seven short Maine-made films as part of an annual showcase titled Damnationland: The Way Life Should Bleed. The program —- in its fifth year—presents genre-defying original works from Maine filmmakers that redefine the classic thriller and horror categories, leaning toward visions that are surreal, comedic, and artful, while still providing scares, shocks, and surprises.

Damnationland 2014 is produced by Portland residents Allen Baldwin, Eddy Bolz, David Meiklejohn, and Charlotte Warren, and it showcases new films from Maine filmmakers living in the greater Portland area. Jenny Anastasoff (Portland), Barry Dodd (Gorham), Jason M. Bosch (Portland), Ranin Brown (Portland), Corey Norman (South Portland), and Tasty Dude Films (Portland) each directed their own short films, and Through the Door Productions (Biddeford/Portland) created seven short-short films that play between each film, all screening together as one uninterrupted program lasting around 90 minutes.

In 2010, Dennis Perkins at the Portland Press Herald wrote that the Damnationland films are “guaranteed to freak you right the heck out.” Dispatch Magazine called 2011’s Damnationland films a “marvelous collection,” and Emily Burnham at the Bangor Daily News wrote that “For a Maine-made Halloween experience, it’s the whole bag of candy.” In a profile of this fall’s not-to-be-missed events, the Portland Phoenix described the Damnationland films as “ranging from spooky to gory, darkly comedic to downright terrifying.”

The world premiere will begin with an opening reception at 7pm, and includes live music, mingling with the filmmakers and casts of the films, and merchandise for sale. Before the films start, performance artist Aquarius Funkk and ensemble will warm up the crowd with an original piece about corporate hunger and greed. Then at 8pm the program will begin, followed by a talkback from the filmmakers, moderated by the producers. While these films are not rated, they do contain strong language and depictions of violence, and therefore may not be appropriate for younger children or sensitive viewers. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and $5 for students. Information about purchasing advance tickets can be found at the State Theatre website:

October 17 and 18: Lynne Cullen tells Tales of Terror at Victoria Mansion in Portland! Lynne and her concertina celebrate eight years of scaring the #$%&# out of people! Come hear two classics of Victorian horror, plus a children's show of spooky folktales for the early Saturday show. FMI: This year, Ms. Cullen will feature the works of Sheridan Le Fanu and Lucy Clifford, renowned 19th century horror writers whose works still influence the genre today. These shows are at 6:30 & 8:30 on Friday and 8:30 on Saturday.
The 8:30 performance on Friday has sold out.

A special children's performance (recommended for attendees 12 and under) will be held at 6:30 on Saturday featuring folk tales from around the world.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for Victoria Mansion members and $10 for children 17 and under.

or if you can't make these storytelling nights, try Monday!

WHAT: Seanachie Nights presents: A Celebration of Samhain w/NY bard Peg Aloi
WHEN: MONDAY, October 20 @ 7:00pm-9:00pm
WHERE: Bull Feeney’s Irish Pub/Restaurant on 375 Fore Street, Portland, Maine
COST: FREE - $9.00 suggested donation if you'd like to help support the artists!
FMI: Contact Lynne Cullen at or 207-253-0288. Or visit

On Monday, October 20, balladeer Peg Aloi will share ballads and poetry in a celebration of Samhain.

The 31st of October is known as "Samhain" in the British Isles: Scottish Gaelic for "summer's end." But it's also believed to be a time when the worlds of the living and the dead grow closer. Traditional singer and poet Peg Aloi will share songs and words about autumn, eerie landscapes, witches, ghosts and other fare suited to the season.

Peg Aloi is a traditional singer from Troy, NY, who has sung and recorded music with a number of groups throughout New England. She has also hosted open mics and bardic circles via the pagan festival circuit for several years.

WHAT: Ragged Isle and Haunt Me doublefeature!
WHEN: Saturday, October 18 at 6:30pm - 8:00pm
WHERE: Alamo Theatre @ 85 Main St, haunted Bucksport, Maine
COST: Free!

The Entertainment Experiment presents two popular Maine-made web series screening at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport Maine on October 18th. Check out the complete final season of the award-winning supernatural murder mystery Ragged Isle and a special episode of the exciting ghost hunting series Haunt ME shot at Fort Knox! This will be the first place you'll be able to see the series finale of Ragged Isle. We hope you can join us and be a part of Maine web series history! More details to follow. for more information on Ragged Isle and Haunt ME, check out the online network The Entertainment Experiment at

WHAT: Hanover House and Haunt Me doublefeature
WHEN: WEDS. OCTOBER 22nd 2014 at 7:00PM
WHERE: Nickelodeon/Patriot Cinemas, 1 Temple St, Portland, Maine
FMI: Facebook Event Page:

Come to this very special ONE NIGHT ONLY double feature to kick Halloween week off right. Join us for HANOVER HOUSE, with special guest openers HAUNT ME, showing their second season episode "The Moon (Mill Agent's House)".

HANOVER HOUSE: Returning from his father’s funeral, Robert Foster is faced with the unimaginable; he hits a young girl with his car. In a desperate attempt to save her life, he seeks help at a nearby farmhouse. Little does Robert know that the house has been waiting for him his entire life. Once inside its walls, Robert must overcome his own personal demon’s in an attempt to save both his wife and himself. But there’s a problem, only one may leave The Hanover House alive.

HAUNT ME: Join paranormal investigators Ashley Brooks (group leader), Ty Gowen (audio analyst), Carol Cleveland (historian), Katie Webb (occultist) and Shawn Ruarke (visual evidence analyst) as they make their way through Maine, learning about their state and its unseen residents in the process.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

REVIEW: Old Tales of the Maine Woods

Old Tales of the Maine Woods and More Old Tales of the Maine Woods
by Steve Pinkham

review by Michelle Souliere

Old Tales of the Maine Woods is a terrific collection of genuine old Maine tales. Drawn painstakingly from 60+ years of writing as found in old outdoorsman magazines from 1851-1913, and carefully introduced section by section by author Steve Pinkham, this book is a real treasure trove. I was intrigued when a friend, knowing my love of old Maine stories, first pointed it out to me. I resisted getting too excited, because so many books simply capitalize on an easy re-hash of someone else’s work, and are flimsy excuses for anthologies.

When my copy of Old Tales arrived, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Here was a 300+ page book accompanied by its sequel, More Old Tales of the Maine Woods, which out-paged it at a total of 395 pages, and ranged back in time even further -- all the way to 1845. On delving into the books, it was clear my trepidation was unfounded. Steve Pinkham clearly possesses a zest for digging up Maine stories that may rival my own. To illustrate this, the introduction mentions a hefty 22,000 articles, each added by Pinkham to his files in preparation for culling out the dozens included in these two volumes. In addition, he has an eye for which stories are the really good ones. He has chosen a tasty bunch.

I couldn’t think of a better book to read:
1) In preparation for a trip to the Maine woods,
2) To keep at your camp for leisurely perusal by dappled sunlight or by a warm fire, or
3) To read when you simply can’t get away to the woods and must make do.

The stories in these volumes are arranged in sections by region, for example the Rangeley Lakes, or the Androscoggin and Magalloway Rivers sector. Each section paints a picture in many strokes, and from several points of view. A map will show you very little by comparison. Pinkham assists in this by lending his own voice to each section, introducing the region and its history to the reader with a written showcase of its main features and attractions, setting the stage for the stories to come.

The writing in the selections chosen by Pinkham is varied and often highly entertaining. Despite its old-timey sources, the prose (mostly non-fiction) is very readable, and the illustrations included (drawn from similar sources) accent the tales nicely. Pinkham also takes the time to introduce each author, giving readers some ideas on where to find more of their work. The stories range in length from a quick 3-page length to more substantial accounts, like the 21-page tale “A Winter Camp on Wadleigh Brook” by John Burnham.

A Maine history nut like myself will find themselves frequently making notes as they read, so have pen and notepad handy if this is your forte. To someone accustomed to sifting through mountains of pages to find gems of Maine wilderness writing, these collections are the utmost luxury. The first volume even includes a tale of a giant lake serpent, and hairy monsters galore!

The only drawback is inherent in the source of the materials, i.e., since the stories are primarily from sporting magazines, there is a preponderance of stories that focus on the outdoors as experienced when hunting. If you are strongly opposed to hunting, this may cause you discomfort. However, I am not a hunter and never plan to be one, and I enjoyed every story just the same, so I suspect most folks will enjoy the tales regardless. There are plenty of stories about tramping and camping-out included as well.

The glimpse afforded readers of the early years of Maine woods travel, the exciting encounters with unpredictable wild creatures, and the Maine vistas and vignettes recalled with great love and appreciation will make this book a treasure trove to revisit for years to come.

In the second volume, More Tales of the Maine Woods, there is the excellent addition of a couple of tales which include camp menus, which illustrate a very important element of camp life otherwise lost to the reader – food! Along with these come a bundle of stories of all seasons, including lost men, mishaps and near misses, the fellowship and characters found among woodsmen, and great and keen observations on Maine’s natural world.

Those readers who enjoy the Old Tales of the Maine Woods volumes will be delighted to find out that Pinkham previously released another Maine-themed collection of tales titled The Mountains of Maine: Intriguing Stories Behind Their Names. Any of these books can be purchased via Pinkham’s website or at your local bookseller. If the don’t have them in stock, make sure they remedy that when they place a special order for you!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Contemplation of Thoreau's Ktaadn

Recently I've been re-reading Henry Thoreau's book, Ktaadn, which relates the account of his travels to Mount Katahdin in the summer of 1846. A few passages caught my imagination particularly. Perhaps you will enjoy them too. Here is one:
Towards Katahdin. by Michelle Y. Souliere, 2006
It was like sitting in a chimney and waiting for the smoke to blow away. It was, in fact, a cloud-factory, -- these were the cloudworks, and the wind turned them off done from the cool, bare rocks. Occasionally, when the windy columns broke in to me, I caught sight of a dark, damp crag to the right or left; the mist driving ceaselessly between it and me.

It reminded me of the creations of the old epic and dramatic poets, of Atlas, Vulcan, the Cyclops, and Prometheus. Such a was Caucasus and the rock where Prometheus was bound. Aeschylus has no doubt visited such scenery as this. It was vast, Titanic, and such as man never inhabits. Some part of the beholder, even some vital part, seems to escape through the loose grating of his ribs as he ascends. He is more lone than you can imagine.

There is less of substantial thought and fair understanding in him, than in the plains where men inhabit. His reason is dispersed and shadowy, more thin and subtile, like the air. Vast, Titanic, inhuman Nature has got him at disadvantage, caught him alone, and pilfers him of some of his divine faculty. She does not smile on him as in the plains. She seems to say sternly, why came ye here before your time? This ground is not prepared for you. Is it not enough that I smile in the valleys? I have never made this soil for thy feet, this air for thy breathing, these rocks for thy neighbors. I cannot pity nor fondle thee here, but forever relentlessly drive thee hence to where I am kind.

Why seek me where I have not called thee, and then complain because you find me but a stepmother? Shouldst though freeze or starve, or shudder they life away, here is no shrine, no altar, or any access to my ear.
"Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm, but... my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light."
The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there. ... Pomola is always angry with those who climb to the summit of Ktaadn.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Killer Owls, or simply nearsighted?

I was researching something completely unrelated (as usual) when I came across an article in Georgia's Bartow Press newspaper. When I get a chance, I'll do more research on this type of thing happening in Maine, but meanwhile, here's this to scratch your head over. It was filed under their "IT REALLY HAPPENED" newsbites section, on page 2 of their January 30, 1995 issue.

Big owls get hungry when snow hides their usual prey, and that's bad news for meal-sized poodles in rural Maine.

Robin Kinney let her little white dog Swazy outside, heard loud squealing and turned to see an owl with a wingspan of about four feet attacking her pet.

Swazy escaped with talon marks on his head and neck, and Kinney rushed him into the house But when she went out an hour later, she was dive-bombed too.

The birds was probably a great horned owl that mistook the poodle for a rabbit, said Buzz Caverly, director of Maine's Baxter State Park.

In early January in Greenville, Maine, a great horned owl carried off a 20-pound poodle-Pekingese crossbreed and killed it. Game wardens killed that bird that day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Westbrook's pocket of time

This article first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the Strange Maine Gazette. I was reluctant to post it on the blog, being a little worried that more adventurous/less responsible folks might take it upon themselves to liberate the time capsule. Recent email from the City of Westbrook has relieved me of that worry -- the city has the capsule in safe-keeping, and I'll be working with them on a follow-up article about what they found in the capsule (I can't wait to find out, myself!). They are indeed going to incorporate the time capsule into their bicentennial celebration this summer. Hooray!!!

Westbrook’s Pocket of Time

How may of us remember putting together a time capsule as a kid? Whether contributing to one as part of a class project or sealing up one no one else would ever know about, setting aside a piece of the present for a future self or someone else seems to be a habit of humans.

It seems that Mainers are no different. When I was skimming through the book Highlights of Westbrook History, compiled by Ernest R. Rowe, as part of an ongoing research project, I came across mention of a 100-year-old time capsule that is due to be opened very soon, on June 9, 2014, in honor of the city’s 200th anniversary. It seems unlikely that this memento from Victorian Westbrookians of a century past is remembered in the halls of their city government today. If it has indeed been forgotten, hopefully this article will serve as a timely reminder. Back in 1914, it took the people of the city only 4 months to plan and assemble their gala centennial celebration. Can the Westbrook of today do as well, given over 2 years’ advance notice? One can only hope!

On the chilly winter day of December 18, 1914, the centennial celebration of Westbrook’s continued existence was brought to a close when a sizable boulder, hauled from nearby Rocky
Hill during the earlier summertime festivities, was ceremoniously and firmly cemented onto a permanent base in Riverbank Park.

The base of the monument contained a small opening into which, before being sealed, was entrusted “a sealed box of heavy metal containing records of the Centennial Celebration, newspapers, photographs of the parade and a packet enclosed in lead foil.” What was in the packet? We will find out in 2014!

Also included in the box was a letter from William B. Bragdon, President of the Westbrook Board of Trade, in which he with great seriousness addresses Westbrook-to-be:
Westbrook, December 18, 1914
To whom it may concern or the community that may represent what was the City of Westbrook on the above date, which we trust may be considered in 2014 under the same name, City of Westbrook.

We give to you a greeting, and trust that the documents found within the sealed box, facts and figures may be of interest to all concerned. The document, herewith, came to hand late and therefore was not included with the contents of the box, as you will find.

The box and contents were sealed in the monument this day, December 18, 1914, (Friday).
Upon reading this tidbit in Highlights of Westbrook History, my first thought was to wonder whether or not the great stone still sat along the banks of the Presumpscot River. I and my friend Salli made a springtime fieldtrip to Riverbank Park in Westbrook, and without much difficulty we found the old boulder, still sporting its ceremonial metal plate after all these years, surrounded by early spring flowers and waiting patiently for its imminent upheaval.

[PHOTO: The very same boulder that was laboriously brought from Rocky Hill to serve as a marker for the time capsule in 1914, photographed in April 2011. The plaque documents the dedication of Riverbank Park in that same year.]

Will Westbrook refresh the time capsule within, updating its contents to reflect the pride and hopes of what has proved to be a fastmoving century of progress? Will the city fill the summer of 2014 with celebratory events as they did a century ago?

It was in February 1914 that the Anniversary Executive Committee was formed, and from it were pollinated an astounding 21 other committees, and from those sprang 7 sub-committees. Let it not be said that the citizens of Victorian Westbrook did not possess
organizational zeal!

The celebrations occurred across three days, June 7th through 9th, and included concerts, parades, speeches, baseball games, artillery drills, bayonet races (sounds hazardous!), an athletic meet, and finally, fireworks. I dug around in the microfilm reels at the Portland Room in the Portland Public Library, and found some highlights as reported in the Eastern Argus.

Baseball and canoes seem to have been popular focal points for the celebrations, with multiple games of the former being played at various levels of skill. For instance, “one of the big athletic events of the season was the ball game between the Calendar hands and the Truckmen of the coated calendar department of the paper mills on the Scotch Hill grounds Saturday afternoon.”

However, not all the athletic contests went smoothly – the much-vaunted June 8th afternoon revival of rivalry between the Old Presumpscot and the Old Yarmouth baseball teams, made up of players locally famous some 25 to 30 years previously, did not exactly bring the old-time “pep” to the playing field for the expected crowd of “hundreds of people who will go to any expense and trouble to see these oldtime stars in action again.”

The Eastern Argus reporter sadly announced the following day, “It is our painful duty to relate that the major portion of the Yarmouth team failed to arrive for the game, but after much waiting a team was made up of several old players and added to the Yarmouth line-up, and a five inning game was played.” The Presumpscots trounced the truant visiting team, 13 to 3, and the crowd appeared happy to entertain themselves razzing the old timers, who were -- to put it politely -- “not as active as in the years gone by.”

The June 8th issue of the Eastern Argus trumpeted the grand canoe pageant slated to occur that evening, “in which hundreds of decorated and illuminated canoes will take part. All canoe owners of Westbrook, Portland and vicinity are eligible to enter the races and the pageant.” Apparently the canoe owners weren’t as enthusiastic as the promoters, because the parade turned out to attract “more than a score” of canoes, a rather smaller total than what they had projected.

However, the canoes were rated as having been “handsomely decorated” and “brilliantly illuminated,” and had no shortage of admirers as they were paddled from the foot of River Street to the Cumberland Street bridge and back, “one of the most beautiful spectacles ever seen here,” and “a feature never before equaled on the Presumpscot.” The canoes weren’t the only evening attraction – the Westbrook City Band was towed ahead of the procession on a large float, lending musical festivities to the evening air.

Reinforcement police were called in from Portland, so even when 4,500 schoolchildren had to be organized into a parade on the 8th, events “were run off without mishap and in perfect order,” whether involving “fancy dancing” or an evening promenade of thousands of citizens en masse under the illuminated decorations and multi-color lights crisscrossing Main Street for almost its full length.

A number of parades and processions were liberally sprinkled through the event lists, and it is interesting to note that “hundreds of members of secret societies” partook in representing themselves, which brings to light that most interesting of phenomena, the very-public-but-secret societies of the Victorian era, a curiosity that was tremendously popular at that time, which still has a few survivors today.

Floats in the various parades were elaborate, some featuring miniature forests, trade products, or other decorative elements. Presumpscot Electrical Company’s large horsedrawn float was not only covered in red and white chrysanthemums, but also topped off with “all kinds of electrical implements.” Charles A. Vallee’s float, promoting his Rexall store, was rated as “one of the daintiest of the many” by the Eastern Argus’ reporter. The Ammoncongin Club’s float, decorated (of course) in club colors of purple and yellow, featured a canoe in which one Mrs. Leighton sat, reading a book as two “Indian maidens” faux-paddled her down the street.

S.D. Warren Company’s paper mills represented themselves somewhat dryly with a float showing off “boxes containing paper and surrounded with placards conveying the information that the mills furnish the paper for the standard periodicals,” while Benoit’s clothing company was more picturesquely present in the form of Sir Galahad riding upon a white horse, hearkening to their currently advertised line of stylish Galahad suits for men. Paul Lebarge’s float was topped with a giant imitation loaf of “Paul’s Bread” – I wonder if that’s sitting out in the back of someone’s barn still!

Other standout entries included that of Pike, the photographer, who went all out with a clown bearing a placard on which was printed: “Pike takes all kinds of faces. He took mine.” No doubt a few of the more literal-minded children spent the rest of their childhoods hoping that their parents didn’t take them to Pike’s, living in fear that after the photo they would be left with the face of a clown after Pike “took” their faces too.

An event that likely has few equivalents today is the series of hose-coupling contests which occupied the various local firefighting teams in competition on the 9th, which must have been quite dramatic for the watching crowd, occasioning as it did the only reported casualty of the festival, when Hoseman Sullivan of Hose 1 was “slightly injured” (according to one report) or “suffered a badly strained leg” (according to another report) and hurriedly taken to the Barrett Hospital for treatment.

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)* seized the opportunity to exhibit their collection of “rare and valuable historical relics” in their hall at Bridge and Maine streets, taking their place as one of the important features of the celebration, and reported via the Eastern Argus of June 9th that “nearly 1,000 people visited the rooms and much interest was taken in the display of implements of early warfare, minerals, etc.” I’d love to see some photos of that display.

Of especial interest to us is the fact that Riverbank Park, where our time capsule awaits revelation, was created during these festivities, and awarded to the citizens of Westbrook at that time. The dedication took place at 2:00pm on the afternoon of June 9th, and occasioned many speeches about Westbrook past and future.

While the ceremony opened, like many of the centennial events, with a prayer, one wonders about what toasts were exchanged as the party broke up. Did Westbrookians, as their founding fathers had 100 years before at another speechifying meeting opened with prayer, cheer the city’s charter and “pledge its future in a glass of New England rum”?

The creation of the park was not only meant as “a permanent memorial of this centennial,” an embodiment of 100 prosperous years, but also as part of a crusade by the current town fathers to retain a green and pleasant parkway for citizens to enjoy in perpetuity.

Speaking for his peers, the Hon. John E. Warren went on to relate how they aimed to border it with trees and prevent the dumping of waste in and around its perimeters. They worried that if these measures were not taken along the river’s gracious sides, “sooner or later houses will be built along this bank and ordinarily not of the best class. The location will not be sightly and, indeed, be very likely to degenerate in the slum of the city, if slum there be.”

Allow me to interject that this must have been a tremendously long speech if one judges from the extensive coverage of subjects mentioned in its reportage.

They imagined future citizens taking the parkway walks on their way to work or using them to wander away their free time in pleasant company. They imagined that the property holders of the north bank, the S. D. Warren Mill Trust, would use the riverbank in ways that “will not be detrimental to this stretch of the river.” They speculated about the likelihood that the growing neighbor city of Portland would absorb Westbrook and wipe out its identity, but decided that they “hardly think that this will be the case” in the end.

Be all that as it may, it was finally time to commemorate the event, and for the longwinded Hon. John E. Warren, to bring his speech to a close. “We have brought to mark this event from near the crest of Rocky Hill a great boulder of hard granite and have imbedded in one of its faces a tablet of imperishable bronze, “… the stone carrying in itself a record of the fierce ordeal through which it passed.”

Even in the midst of this most formal and definite occasion, the speaker speculated on what was apparently a personal interest, and what can only have been the subject of romantic terrestrial ponderings during his speech writing: “…I take it that our Presumpscot valley has a geological history of peculiar interest which has not yet been written.” Indeed.

Not yet done, Warren continued, prophesying what the Westbrookians of 2014 might do given another 100 years of prosperity (and I abbreviate his speech for him, for without that merciful cut, you, dear reader, would find yourself a-snoring like Rip Van Winkle):

“The people will again gather … and another tablet will be imbedded in one of the sides of the old boulder commemorating the event.” He imagined that the future citizens will be akin to those standing before him, the men and women of 1914, with familiar names still among them, going to the same schoolhouses, the same churches, traveling the same streets. He envisioned a bridge across the river, and new public buildings and additional school facilities built on the other side of the bank.

“There will still be paper mills at the lower dam and textile mills on the upper, for the industries which we maintain do not rest upon any passing condition. … They will not have wholly forgotten us, and life will go on much as today. … The old boulder will still be here and probably on the spot where we are placing it. It has already existed for no one knows how many thousands of years and it will suffer no impairment with the passing of centuries. … Their faces will still be set to the front but looking back on that occasion they will in spirit clasp the hand which we reach out to them today.”

Wouldn’t he be surprised by where and who we are today?

Well, no doubt the crowd needed a good waking up after that, and as the evening closed it brought with its end the much vaunted fireworks display let loose as a finale. The Eastern Argus had published a very serious-sounding warning from the Fireworks Committee in its June 8th issue, talking much of the “simultaneous discharge of fifty immense 54-pound rockets” and the dire consequences if anyone should be hit by these during their flight (just imagine!), and banning any boats or canoes from coming within 500 feet of the exhibit “except at their own risk” – in other words, if you’re that crazy, go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose!

The display was rated one of the biggest displays of fireworks ever seen in Maine, and closed dramatically when “a most remarkable battle between a fort constructed on the north shore of the river and a battleship on a raft in the river was fought” for its finale.

So, in closing – hope to see you all in Riverbank Park at the amazing festivities in Westbrook a few years from now!

*[Editor’s Note: The G.A.R. was founded in 1866 following the Civil War as a veterans’ organization, which for many years helped vets network with each other, in the process becoming very influential in political races of the time. The group was dissolved in 1956
upon the death of its last member, and is succeeded by other organizations that focus on
the veterans’ descendants.]

Review: Forgotten on the Kennebec by David Fiske

Review: Forgotten on the Kennebec: Abandoned Places and Quirky People
by David Fiske

reviewed by Michelle Souliere

This slender volume is an excellent addition to the library of anyone who enjoys exploring the history of Maine for themselves. While many tomes of Maine history spend their pages listing dusty names and dates, this little book will literally take you to the very sites of the history itself.

Focusing on the Kennebec River area, it selects three choice locations which are open to public entry and proceeds to give the reader not only an overview of each spot's history but also capsule portraits of notary personages that were associated with each location. With this approach, author David Fiske provides just enough practical information to get visitors to the spot in question, and allows the reader to explore the land on foot, while giving a taste of the personalities that helped shape and inhabit the landscape. In this way he paints a picture of how the now-empty structures were once filled with life and history in the making.

The three locations that Fiske turns his attention to include some of Maine's old fortifications, still standing, and one island which once housed a township, where today birds and wildlife roam among long-abandoned buildings: Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin in Phippsburg, Maine, Fort Western and the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Maine, and Perkins Township on Swan Island, offshore from Richmond, Maine.

Each section is peppered with photos taken by the author at the location, and illuminated with quick prose sketches that clearly flesh out the historic lay of the land and its personality. This slim volume will tuck easily into any day-explorer's backpack, and while it won't add much weight to your pack, it will undoubtedly add to your enjoyment of a few of Maine's quieter historic spots, where the state's history waits for you to discover it in person.

Another nifty feature is the inclusion of a bibliography with each section, allowing readers to research the locations’ history further at will. This is a real bonus for amateur historians, and is an often overlooked element in standard guidebooks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THURSDAY: A celebration of Rick Hautala

Please join the crowd at Southern Maine Community College later this week, when the campus will host an evening Celebration of Rick Hautala, closely following the one-year anniversary of his death in 2013.

WHEN: March 27, 2014 starting @ 7:00pm
WHAT: Friends, fans, students, and faculty will get together at the campus community center to read and reminisce about Rick, and discuss the many contributions he made to the community and to the horror genre.
WHERE: Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) -- The Campus Center is located at 2 Fort Rd, South Portland, ME 04106, and the event is being held in the Learning Commons, which is on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center.

More information about Rick and the event can be found online here:

A PDF map of the SMCC campus is here:

Anyone who wishes to read the post I wrote on this blog following his death last March can do so here:

Rick at NECON 2006

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Maine Ghost Hunters brunch series!

Since we're looking at filling up your calendars with fun stuff until spring finally lets us all thaw out, here's another great little event to add to the calendar.

On selective Sunday mornings this spring, Maine Ghost Hunters is holding a casual brunch potluck get-together at Merkaba Sol in Augusta, Maine. The next one is on March 16th. Those who have attended these events before can tell you that it's a fun chance to catch up with the group, meet new folks with similar interests, and a great excuse to get out of the house!

For more information, and to complete the necessary minimal pre-registration, see their Meetup page here:

WHEN: Sunday, March 16, 2014, from 10:00-11:00am
WHERE: Merkaba Sol, 153 Water Street, Augusta, Maine
COST: Pre-registration is an easy $2.00 per person

Maine Ghost Hunters is inviting you to join them every other Sunday at Merkaba Sol for a light potluck brunch and some paranormal chat. They'll be running these bi-weekly scheduled brunches through mid-April. Here are the details:

Who can attend: Maine Ghost Hunters meetup members, and friends if they're 18 years or older.

What to expect: It's a potluck breakfast event -- brunch time! All participants are requested to bring a non-beverage item to share with other members.

Why they're doing it: Because of popular request! And because it's a great opportunity for MGH to connect with members of the community. Let's get together and share ghost stories!

Fee Per Person: $2.00 if you RSVP on the meetup site (this site), or $5.00 per person at the door on the day of the event. (They'd really rather have everyone who's coming RSVP ahead of time so they can get an advance head count)

MGH will provide: Cups for cold and hot beverages, paper plates, plastic utensils, and napkins, as well as coffee, milk, and juice.

In the past, their coffee house meet ups have been popular and quite successful, so they're revisiting this oldie but goodie, but with a Merkaba twist. This helps avoid problems with having enough seating, and all the other complications that arise from using non-dedicated public cafe spaces as they have in the past. They'll have tables and chairs set up, and maybe even a TV from time to time, where everyone can review Maine Ghost Hunters footage, investigation evidence, and ZeroLux Paranormal episodes together. Who knows, maybe you'll even get the skinny on what happened "behind the scenes", "before this happened", or "after this happened"…. your questions, answered by investigators who were there when the footage was shot. Pretty cool stuff!

And, of course, they would love it if YOU brought in your paranormal pictures, videos, and audio evidence to share with the group. If you have something to share, or you want an opinion on something you've collected for evidence, bring it along! That's what the meet-ups are for - sharing experiences, talking about what brought everyone to the paranormal field, and all of those reasons everyone has for being a part of the Maine Ghost Hunters meetup.

Upcoming Ghost Hunts in Bath, Maine

Hi everyone! Well, if it hasn't already tied you up in knots, the cabin fever season is getting ready to shift to SPRING FEVER season! I know, it's still really cold out, but the birds are getting wound up every morning, and I saw a flock of robins the other day -- and I trust the birds to know what's going on with the weather.

If your mind has been turning from hibernation to re-emerging into the world as the sun stays out longer each day, sometimes it helps to have something to plan ahead and look forward to.

With that in mind, the folks at Mysterious Destinations have been cooking up a schedule for 2014, and instead of waiting for the warm weather, they're going to kick it off later this month -- because there's no time like the present!

From March through October, they will be hosting one Midnight Explore a month at the Winter Street Center in Bath. The sessions will also be a fundraiser for maintenance and improvements at the Winter Street Center, which is part of Sagadahoc Preservation.

More information can be found here:

Exploration dates include:
March 22, April 25, May 17, June 6, July 12, August 9, September 27, October 24 and 31 (Halloween!)

Join the Mysterious Destinations team for a Midnight Explore at the haunted Winter Street Center in Bath. From 9:00pm to 12:00 midnight, two floors of documented paranormal activity will offer plenty of chances for new evidence to be found by YOU, after a brief training session about paranormal detection equipment, how to use it, and the history of the building.

MysteriousDestinations 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. For necessary pre-registration, please call (207)380-4677 or email for information.