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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Wednesday, 07 September 2011 05:39

Collins Center for the Arts celebrates 25th season

CCA has lots to offer for 2011-12

ORONO - For the past two-plus decades, the Collins Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Maine has served as one of the area's preeminent performance venues. It has hosted hundreds of nationally and internationally renowned performers - musicians, dancers, actors, comedians; the list is a lengthy one.

This year, the CCA will be celebrating its 25th season of bringing the highest quality of entertainment to the audiences of central Maine.

"For the first 20 years, our focus was mostly classical music and dance," said Adele Adkins, associate director at the CCA. "Over the last couple of years, we've shifted our focus. Audiences have dwindled, so we've looked for programming with wider appeal."

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 05:39

Thome hits 600th home run

Slugger reaches milestone with typical quiet dignity

Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome recently became the eighth player in major league history to hit at least 600 home runs. In a game against the Detroit Tigers, Thome launched homers number 599 and 600 to reach the milestone.

So why don't people seem to care more?

I'm not going to go into the wild disparity between the coverage of this milestone versus that of Derek Jeter's 3000th hit earlier this summer - Jeter plays for the most storied franchise in baseball history and is still a regular starter. Thome, on the other hand, is currently playing for his fifth team and serves as the not-quite-full-time DH for a small-market team.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:39

A season on the stage

Penobscot Theatre offers wide variety for 2011-12

BANGOR - Penobscot Theatre Company has long been a vital part of the artistic foundation of the city of Bangor. The theater is preparing to once more bring high-quality professional theater to the people of the area with the launch of their 39th season.

"This year's theme is 'Walk in someone else's shoes,'" said Nathan Halvorson, the interim artistic director for the theater. "These shows are so incredibly different. It's so vast, what we're doing this season. That theme fits what we're doing."

Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:39

Try, try again: NFL 2011

Given my track record when it comes to sports prognostication - "spotty" would be a generous description - it was time to try a different tactic as far as predicting the 2011 NFL season.

So I waited a week.

Maybe with a week of games already on the books, there might be some chance that these picks might be something other than terrible. Who knows? They certainly couldn't be any worse than last year's debacle... or the year before... or the year before that.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 05:39

Fairways and bunkers and greens... Oh my!

Maine has plenty to offer golfers of all abilities

One of the greatest things about the game of golf is the fact that it is one of the few sporting endeavors in our society that you don't have to be good at to enjoy. Sure, there is joy to be derived from a great drive or a long putt, but for most of us, the pleasure comes from just being out there on the grass in the sunshine (and complaining about your round; most golfers I know absolutely love to bemoan their bad shots and bad luck on the course). Once the game gets its hooks in you, chances are good that you're in for the duration.

However, you should always remember that no matter what course you are planning to play, be sure to check their policy with regard to tee times in advance. A lot of smaller courses don't require them, but if there's any question, call ahead or check a website. There's nothing worse than getting geared up for a game only to find out that there's no room for you. Also, many courses offer discounted rates for those who play later in the day, usually after 3 p.m. or so; certainly worth investigating if you're a fan of twilight golf.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 05:39

A Monster View

Meditations on watching a Red Sox game from atop the Green Monster

Everyone has a few special things that they'd like to experience at least once in their lives, those places or events that they want to witness with their own eyes. Some of these things are big and some are small, but they all are important to each individual.

For you it might be seeing the Grand Canyon or going to Burning Man. Maybe you want to climb a particular mountain or raft a particular river. Perhaps you'd like to go to the Super Bowl or run with the bulls in Pamplona. To each their own.

But none of those things are for me. Not that I wouldn't enjoy them if I did them, but I don't feel the need. However, I was recently lucky enough to check one of those special things of my own personal list - something that I've wanted to do for a very long time.

I watched a Red Sox game from the top of the Green Monster.

That's right, folks - Monster Seats. While I recognize that watching a baseball game from a particular seat might seem less exciting than hiking the Appalachian Trail or going to Bonnaroo, for this fan, it was a treat unlike any other.

It all started back in February. The Red Sox, in recognition of the high demand for these particular seats, offer an online lottery. Basically, you register and you hope.

A couple of friends of mine and I thought we'd take a shot. Never hurts to try, right? It turned out to be lucky for me that we did, because I wound up with the opportunity to purchase up to four tickets atop the Monster. When the day came, I got into virtual line in the virtual waiting room - I was actually at a baby's first birthday party in Massachusetts at the time - and, well...waited.

Once my spot was called, I had approximately five minutes to find the game that I wanted. Obviously, I wasn't first in line, so big games like the Yankees or the series against the Cubs were obviously out. And the ideal was for me to find four seats together - no easy task when others have been picking and choosing their way through.

Finally, though, I found a game that offered both intriguing competition and four together. May 8. The Minnesota Twins were in town. They have a couple of big-time stars in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, guys I'd like to see play in person. Not to mention the fact that it seemed like a game the Red Sox were likely to win.

(A digression: I feel that it's important to note at this point that I was undefeated in Red Sox games. That is to say that I had never witnessed the Red Sox lose in person. Over the years, I had probably attended a dozen games, maybe more, and the good guys had never lost. Granted, it was mostly home games - though there was a trip to Toronto in there as well - but still. To always see your team win when you go to a game? It's kind of wonderful. And sure, my presence doesn't really make a difference. I get that. But it's easy to forget that truth; I mean, it feels good to believe somewhere in your heart that they're out there playing better and winning games because you're there. It just does. Sure it's delusional, but so what? End digression.)


The realization that May 8 was Mother's Day came a little later. Having been born of a generous and understanding woman who completely respects my fandom mostly assuaged my guilt at being gone on the day. And then of course, the subsequent realization that there were going to be pink bats and pink shoes galore - pink everywhere, that being Major League Baseball's standard method of celebrating mothers everywhere.

So as the day approached, my friends and I began eagerly anticipating the game. What would it be like? Fenway isn't the most comfortable place to watch a game as a rule - just how different would our experience atop the wall be?

There was no question that I was going to spend as much time as possible in those seats. I needed to get my money's worth (I won't be crass and discuss actual dollar figures; suffice it to say, those seats are anything but cheap). Clearly, I wanted to be through the gate and into the park just as soon as I conceivably could.

-

We were in the car and on the road at just after 6 a.m., taking to the highway on that Mother's Day morning. The trip was smooth sailing; well-executed all around. We got to the T station, parked the car and hopped onto the train into the city. Before we knew it, we were standing outside Fenway Park at 11 a.m., anxiously awaiting the opening of the gates (two hours before game time - our first pitch was scheduled for 1:35 p.m.). Then, just like that, in we went.

It's funny; I've been to Fenway Park many times in my day, but it had been a few years since my last visit. Yawkey Way has become this wonderful family-friendly baseball carnival. Personally, I don't need much of a sideshow to go with my baseball, but I get that kids and families might. And so we wandered through the marvelous mess of souvenir stands, fast-pitch games and dudes on stilts as we made our way into the stadium.

Not to get all Ken Burns-y on you, but walking up that ramp out into the open air is a magical moment. I don't care how old you are or how cynical; coming out into that huge space, looking out onto that field where so much history has happened...it turns you into a kid again. That kid who steadfastly and unwaveringly believed that this was the year. That kid who knew that his favorite player would tear up the league and that his favorite team would win the World Series. Hope springs eternal on the diamond and nothing inspires and inflames that hope quite like that first glimpse of green grass and grandstands.

I was an awestruck kid again, no different than the eighth-grader who was so overwhelmed on his first Fenway visit that he had to hide his welling eyes from his schoolmates. Times have changed, of course, but the truth is that while the names might change, the game never really does.

When we finally reached our seats, we were treated to an absolutely stunning view of the proceedings. We were in Section 10, the section closest to center field. We had a nearly straight-on view of the plate - we could actually see the strike zone - and the entire ballpark was laid out before us. It was as if this was a command performance, as if these two teams were going to perform for us alone. Sure, the stadium was full, but it felt like it was just for us.

It was unlike any ballpark experience I had ever had. We had swiveling bar stool seats. We had a nice shelf in front of us on which to rest our foodstuffs and libations. We had room behind our seats to stand if we wanted, with no chance of impeding anyone else's view. We had a concession stand right next to our section; you could go get a beer and a sausage and not miss anything. There was a beautifully maintained restroom on our level too. Everything was close and convenient - once we were in the park, we never stood in a line. We were kings.

We settled in to wait for the first pitch, all of us giggling and antsy and generally excited. We watched it all - the grounds crew preparing the field for the start of the game, Wally the Green Monster wandering around the field (with his mom; it was Mother's Day after all) - it all unfolded in front of us in a graceful dance.

And then? Play ball.

-

The game itself was fantastic. We watched as starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled through the first inning, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk and prompting my buddy Thom to inform me that "This is your fault" (I had only just informed them of my undefeated streak). We watched as the Sox easily pulled themselves out of that early hole, scoring once in the second and a very exciting four times in the third, including a Carl Crawford triple that was not only thrilling, but hit in such a way as to result in us making a brief appearance on the television broadcast (I mean, sure; if you didn't know we were there, you'd never see us. But we were, damn it!). We watched Daisuke settle down and the Twins defense fall apart. We watched favorite players like Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury get multiple hits; exciting newcomers Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, too. We watched our very first live game that included a home run replay review (it was a ball hit by the Twins' Danny Valencia in the top of the fourth). We even watched the big league debut of shortstop Jose Iglesias, a shining star of the Red Sox minor league system who entered the game in the later innings as a defensive replacement. Not to mention the novelty of pink bats and cleats and armbands.

At the end of the day, the Red Sox won the day by a score of 9-5. It was a first-rate game, filled with those tiny moments that have forever ensured baseball's place in my heart as the greatest game there is. And to watch a game from such a unique and engaging vantage point? All in all, the afternoon ranks as one of the best I've ever spent. How could it not be? Good friends, great seats and the home team won. We rooted and clapped and shouted nonsense with glee. We ate, drank and were merry. What could be better?

And hey...I'm still undefeated.

There's a caveat to all of this, however. To put it simply, this game spoiled me. It's going to color every game I go to from here on in. To go from that kingly perch back to the anarchy of the bleachers may prove difficult. You've been warned.

-

I leave you with this quote from one of my party, a thought that encompasses what it really felt like to be up there.

"Best. Bar. Ever."

Yes. Yes it is.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011 05:39

A dish served lukewarm

'Columbiana' a dull and disappointing tale of revenge

All I knew about the new movie "Columbiana" going in was that Zoe Saldana ("Avatar") was the star and noted French action-freak Luc Besson wrote the screenplay and produced the film. With just those two pieces in place, I figured we had a shot at something interesting.

After all, Besson has shown on numerous occasions ("La Femme Nikita", "The Fifth Element") that he has a knack for creating kick-ass chicks. Add to that resume scripts like "The Professional," "The Transporter" and "Taken" - we're clearly looking at a guy who knows how to write an action movie.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:38

The good of Mankind

An interview with wrestling legend Mick Foley

Despite the fact that I haven't followed the "sport" with any sort of consistency in recent years, professional wrestling has always and will always hold a special place in my heart. The sheer amount of nostalgia involved in thinking about favorite performers from years gone by is undeniable.

Big Time Wrestling, a wrestling promotion based out of Lowell, Mass., will be bringing a show to the Bangor Auditorium on Sept. 23. While a number of excellent up-and-coming talents will be showcased, the show also promises appearances by some all-time favorites. For instance, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Hacksaw Jim Duggan will be there.

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 05:38

Allen's Summer Reading List

A few favorites for your summertime pleasure

In keeping with the summer reading theme, here are a few of my personal favorites. These are books that I strongly recommend to anyone who asks me "Any ideas for something I should read?"

To them I say, "Read these."

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 05:38

A close shave with 'Sweeny Todd'

UMaine production offers delightful darkness

ORONO - The second year of the University of Maine Summer Music Theatre Festival kicked off with the noir mystery of "The Bat," a piece which served to whet appetites for the main event, the macabre misdeeds of one Mr. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" sports music and lyrics by the legendary Stephen Sondheim - it's one of the best in a catalog of great works - with book by Hugh Wheeler. Like many Sondheim pieces, the music is complex and compelling while the tale being told is just a bit twisted.

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