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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Thursday, 21 October 2021 12:48

Kibbles and Picks 2021 – Week 7

So … it’s looking like this season might prove to be competitive after all.

While Stella’s still in the lead, I cut her advantage in half with my Week 6 performance – 10-4 against her 8-6. That means that she’s just a scant two games ahead of me. We’ve seen a fair amount of this back-and-forth in the season’s first month and a half; it remains to be seen if that struggle will continue going forward.

In Week 7 – which features just 13 contests due to six teams being on bye – Stella and I are at odds on six. Not a ton of room for movement unless one of us really cleans up (which is always a possibility with Stella, to be fair), but we’ll see how things play out.

As a rule, I’m what you might call an omnivorous reader. My choices aren’t usually constrained by genre – I’ll read pretty much anything. That said, I do have certain types of book that I generally don’t pick up.

For instance, I don’t often get into jargon-heavy thrillers – the Tom Clancys and Clive Cusslers of the world. Just not my scene. I also tend to steer clear of fiction written by famous people who are not famous for being writers – I’ve been burned by too many vanity novels.

So the idea of a book that COMBINES those two things should be a hard no, right? Maybe so – but every rule has its exceptions.

“The Apollo Murders” (Mulholland Books, $28) is the fiction debut of decorated astronaut Chris Hadfield. It’s an alternate history of sorts, a reimagining of the Apollo 18 mission that is packed full of mystery and Cold War intrigue. It’s a new wrinkle to the space race in a world where it’s no longer about getting to space, but rather about controlling it.

Hadfield taps into his own experiences and vast knowledge base to craft a story that is absolutely overflowing with period-accurate detail while also offering up enough twists and turns to make for an engaging thriller. He blends real-life individuals with fictional creations to tell a tale rendered all the more compelling for its general plausibility.

ORONO – A unique theatrical experience featuring a collaboration spanning half the globe is currently taking place in Orono.

The show in question is “Anon(ymous),” by Naomi Iizuka; it will be running at the Cyrus Memorial Pavilion on the University of Maine campus in Orono through October 24. The production’s directors are Rosalie Purvis and Debaroti Chakraborty. Now, it’s not that unusual for a theatrical piece to have two directors, but in this case, the circumstances are unusual indeed. You see, these directors – and performers – are separated by thousands of miles. Purvis is the Libra Assistant Professor of Theatre and English at the University of Maine. Chakraborty is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Performing Arts at Presidency University in India.

They have come together – along with casts on either side of the world – to create this multimedia experience. Combining live performance and video, this show – a modern reimagining of Homer’s classic epic “The Odyssey” – unites students from both institutions in an effort to tell a story both familiar and unexpected, a tale of desperation and hope and, ultimately, of one person’s efforts to find their way home.

BANGOR – Clothes make the woman in the latest production from Bangor Community Theatre.

For their latest offering, BCT presents “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” adapted for the stage by Nora and Delia Ephron from the Ilene Beckerman book of the same name. Directed by Irene Dennis, the show – a mediation on the lives of women as reflected through their relationships with their wardrobes – runs through Oct. 24 at Bangor Grange #372 on Ohio Street in Bangor.

All ticketing for the show is in advance. It is also available for on-demand viewing via the BCT website and Broadway World – visit www.bangorcommunitytheatre.org for more details.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 11:16

Celebrity Slam - An immodest proposal

Our affinity for celebrity romances is well-documented here at Celebrity Slam. Even when we have the opportunity to make fun of the misdeeds of the rich and famous, when the opportunity presents itself, we’re always going to go for the love story.

What can we say? We’re romantics.

So obviously, we’re going to have to talk about Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker and their recent engagement. That’s right – Travis popped the question and Kourtney said yes.

(This is the part where we talk about how happy we are that we did the heavy lifting and assembled their celebrity couple name back in April, after they’d been dating just a few months. We spent a good deal of time and energy coming up with our winner – Kourtnis Barkdashian. It was that all-too-rare opportunity to go with the double portmanteau, so obviously we took it. For the remainder of this story, we’ll use “Kourtnis,” but please understand that the “Barkdashian” is always – ALWAYS – implied.)

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 11:14

Weird National Briefs (10/20/2021)

Circle of life

PINE, Colo. (AP) — Wildlife officials in Colorado say an elusive elk that has been wandering the hills with a car tire around its neck for at least two years has finally been freed of the obstruction.

The 4 1/2-year-old, 600-pound (270-kilogram) bull elk was spotted near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, on Saturday evening and tranquilized, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk’s five-point antlers to remove the encumbrance because they couldn’t slice through the steel in the bead of the tire.

“We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic, and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible,” officer Scott Murdoch said.

Murdoch and fellow officer Dawson Swanson estimated the elk shed about 35 pounds (16 kilograms) with the removal of the tire, the antlers and debris inside the tire.

Wildlife officers first spotted the elk with the tire around its neck in July 2019 while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness.

They say they have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of items, including swing sets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals and volleyball nets.

TME – He looked pretty tired.

Often – perhaps too often – we are wont to romanticize the past. We look back at the events of history through rose-colored lenses that focus on the grandiose and filter out many of the more unsavory elements.

The age of chivalry, for instance. We tend to celebrate the heroic and heraldic whilst utterly ignoring the bleak realities of that time for anyone who lived outside the sphere of knights and noblemen. The crushing poverty, the endless warfare, the lack of agency for anyone outside the elite – these truths are absent from the familiar tales of derring-do.

“The Last Duel” – directed by Ridley Scott and based on the 2004 book of the same name by Eric Jager – attempts to delve deeper and address that time and place with a little more honesty. Jager’s book, which is based on a true story, is adapted for the screen by some rather notable writers: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who wrote the script alongside Nicole Holofcener.

Damon and Affleck star, as do Adam Driver and Jodie Comer, in this multi-faceted tale of what happens when a woman of this era accuses a man of rape. Told from multiple perspectives, it’s an effort to deconstruct the uneven power dynamics of the time, its historicity inviting comparisons and contrasts to present-day circumstances. The film sprawls across the screen, asking the audience to view the proceedings through the eyes of three different narrators, each of whom with their own beliefs regarding how the story played out.

I’ll be honest with you – I’ve never really been much of a music guy. I simply don’t feel the same connection to music that so many people do. It’s not that I don’t like music, mind you. I just don’t need it in the way that true musicophiles do.

That said, I definitely dig a good music documentary. Even without that visceral, cellular-level type connection to the music, the stories behind the music – the people and places and influences that brought that music to life – remain fascinating to me.

As you might imagine, the new Todd Haynes documentary “The Velvet Underground” – currently streaming on Apple TV+ - fits the bill perfectly. To have someone like Haynes, a filmmaker with an idiosyncratic eye and an obvious adoration of music that permeates his filmography, take on one of the most influential rock bands of all time? What kind of wonderful result could we expect?

An apt one, as it turns out, a perfect marriage of documentarian and subject. Haynes proves to be just the right person to capture the frenetic bohemian energy of not just The Velvet Underground, but of their surroundings. The pieces will be familiar, but the whole into which they have been assembled is unlike any music documentary you’ve seen before. In many ways, this film is an experience – an evocative reflection of the band’s place in the cultural zeitgeist.

Monday, 18 October 2021 11:34

‘Halloween Kills’ more trick than treat

Even in a Hollywood landscape constructed atop a foundation of IP-driven franchises and remakes, there are few rabbit holes as deep as the one surrounding the current iteration of “Halloween.”

The John Carpenter original is one of the classics of the horror genre; its success gave birth to a lengthy list of sequels of rapidly-diminishing quality. We got a Rob Zombie effort at rebooting, resulting in a couple of movies of middling quality. And then, in 2018, we got yet another reinvention of the franchise with David Gordon Green and Danny McBride leading the way – an effort to wipe the slate clean of the confusing and convoluted lore and reenergize the franchise. It was an effort that mostly worked.

However, the sequel to THAT movie – “Halloween Kills” – doesn’t achieve the same manner of success, instead opting to lean into over-the-top gore and an added selection of legacy characters from the franchise’s early days. And while there’s some meat on that particular nostalgic bone, Green and the rest of the filmmaking team never quite figure out how to most effectively gnaw it.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s joy to be derived from the sheer splatter factor here, as well as some moments of dark levity. It’s just that this is very obviously a middle movie, and when you already know the next movie is coming, it’s hard to make any sort of real narrative progress; it occasionally feints at some greater themes, but can’t really deliver on the follow through. In the end, what you get is largely a placeholder, a movie that exists largely because you can’t get from point A to point C without a point B. It’s fine for what it is, but ultimately, it proves disposable.

BANGOR – One of the region’s most steadfast and beloved cultural institutions is gearing up to get back onstage.

Penobscot Theatre Company is on the verge of getting back to live, in-person theatre. The company announced their upcoming season with a virtual town hall event last month, but now that we’re approaching that first opening night, it seemed appropriate to do a full-on season preview.

While PTC did a wonderful job of finding ways to pivot into the digital realm last season, crafting a thoughtful and high-quality season in “Digitus Theatrum” that found ways to maneuver around the multitude of obstacles raised by the circumstances of the pandemic, there’s no question that they – and theatre lovers in Bangor and beyond – are eager to take their seats at the Bangor Opera House and be transported by the special magic of live performance.

This new season marks the company’s 48th, if you can believe it. For nearly half a century, Penobscot Theatre Company has been a cultural cornerstone for the region, the northeasternmost professional theatre company in the United States. It is a foundational piece of our area’s creative fabric, one of the many incredible organizations that bring the arts to life in this place that we call home.

There’s a lot of great stuff coming. From a beloved holiday classic to a Maine playwright’s premiere, from a pair of one-woman shows to a romantic two-hander to a big, bold musical, PTC has put together a collection of offerings that will feature something for just about every theatregoer out there.

And there have been changes in the organization as well, the biggest being the ascension of Tricia A. Hobbs, longtime PTC staff member, to the position of Acting Artistic Director of the company following the departure of previous Artistic Director Bari Newport earlier this year. Hobbs has worn numerous hats during her time at PTC – she has worked as a scenic designer and director, as well as serving as production manager and technical director. Her hands-on experience with so many facets of the theatrical experience make her a worthy choice to steer the ship during this turbulent time.

Now, this is a much later kickoff to the season than we usually see from PTC, with the first show opening in mid-November rather than early September. Rather than rush the process, the team opted to take careful steps as they moved forward, taking into account still-shifting situations. That said, these folks are definitely ready to get back to it.

So what should people expect? I spoke to Hobbs and PTC Executive Director Jen Shepard about what the upcoming season will hold – both in terms of what audiences will see and how they will experience it.

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