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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Wednesday, 14 April 2021 09:29

Weird National Briefs (04/14/2021)

Muddy metaphor made manifest

BOSTON (AP) — Camille Coelho just wanted to take a stroll on the beach and look for some sea glass. Instead, the Massachusetts nurse ended up feeling the way so many have felt during the pandemic: she was stuck in the mud.

The 54-year-old was taking a walk at Boston’s Constitution Beach on Thursday when she found herself sinking into the low tide’s wet sand. Soon it was up to her knees and left her unable to move, according to an account she gave to The Boston Herald.

“It’s a great metaphor for the year,” Coelho, a nurse in South Shore Hospital’s intensive care unit, told the Herald. “I can’t believe it. I stepped in mud and pretty soon it was up to my knees, and I was stuck.”

Her dilemma caught the attention of other beachgoers, who called for help. Coelho was with her son’s lab, Lucy, who didn’t get stuck and stayed near her side.

While she was waiting, she saw a traffic helicopter and wondered if her quandary was somehow to blame for backups.

“I called a friend and told them, ‘Google woman trapped in mud,’” Coelho told the Herald.

Before long, firefighters arrived and were able to pull her to safety. All told, it was one more awful episode during a pandemic that has been full of them. But Coelho said this one made her laugh.

“I guess I just had my 15 minutes of fame,” she said.

TME – Man, she’s a real stick in the mud.

There’s something sacred about the rituals that come with saying goodbye, regardless of the culture from which you hail. No matter who you are or where you’re from, odds are that you or someone close to you has very specific ideas about what will happen when you die (logistical ideas, mind you, not metaphysical ones – we haven’t got all day).

But what happens when circumstances upend those expectations and you’re forced to rely on the kindness of strangers to fulfill them?

That’s the question that Irish filmmaker Aoife Crehan addresses in “The Last Right.” Written and directed by Crehan, it’s the story of a man whose personal journey of grief is thrown into chaos by the actions of the stranger sitting next to him on an airplane – chaos that may eventually lead him to discover the order he was always meant to experience.

It’s one of those movies that brings a lot to the table. You’ve got family secrets and dysfunction. You’ve got a little romance, plenty of situational comedy and even some heist vibes. All in service to telling a small story of what it means to follow through on a promise … even if it’s a promise you never really made.

“Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

I love dogs. I love my dog Stella and every dog I ever had growing up. I love dogs I pass on the street. I love dogs that bark and dogs that whine and dogs that growl. I love them all, regardless of whether or not they love me back (although they usually do).

So it’s no surprise that when the opportunity was presented to me to review the new documentary “We Don’t Deserve Dogs,” directed by Matthew Salleh in collaboration with his partner Rose Tucker. It’s a voyage around the globe, looking at the various ways that dogs impact the worlds in which we live. Across borders and cultures, dogs are present, helping us by simply being the wonderful creatures that they are.

From country to country, from circumstance to circumstance, we bounce from place to place, encountering our four-legged friends in various environments. And even in those spots where the life of a dog is difficult, these wonderful creatures find ways to shine their light upon us. It is heartfelt and charming and uplifting – and don’t forget the tissues, because if you’re anything like me, you are going to need them.

We might have passed the point of no return regarding superhero cinema.

Yes, there are plenty of folks who would argue that we long ago reached cultural saturation when it comes to superhero movies. But in the aftermath of the Snyder Cut and with multiple MCU offerings on the immediate horizon – plus the wide swath of recent and forthcoming streaming series drawing from superpowered source material both well-known and obscure – well … it’s a lot, not all of it good.

And this is coming from someone who LOVES this stuff.

Netflix’s latest foray into the realm of the superheroic is “Thunder Force,” a new film written and directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. It’s an effort to play the tropes for laughs and have some fun with the foibles inherent to the genre, relying heavily on the talents of its cast to carry the day.

It doesn’t quite work out the way they might have hoped.

What so many of these filmmakers forget is that while spectacle is at the forefront with superhero films, the story still matters. Without an engaging narrative, all we’re left with is a bunch of CGI nonsense that is difficult to invest in. And no matter how hard the actors try, they can’t salvage what ultimately becomes an effort to turn 45 minutes of story into 100-plus minutes of movie.

BANGOR – It was six months ago, give or take, when the State of Maine, nearly four years after its citizens voted to legalize recreational marijuana through a referendum vote in November of 2016, finally gave the go-ahead for retail adult use sales in the state.

By the terms of that law, adults 21 years of age or older with a valid ID are able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of a combination of marijuana and marijuana concentrate that includes no more than five grams of marijuana concentrate.

In the half-year since storefronts began opening their doors in early October, the industry has seen steady and impressive economic growth, though as with any relatively new endeavor, there have been some growing pains along the way. The truth is that these current circumstances are the culmination of a gradual journey.

“Life’s a journey, not a destination.” It’s a sentiment that we’ve all heard a million times before, this idea that where we wind up is less important than how we got there. And it’s a true one, albeit a bit of a cliché at this point.

Sometimes, though, we have no idea what someone’s journey actually entails until that person shares their story.

Erin French is known for her celebrated restaurant The Lost Kitchen, based in a renovated grist mill in the tiny Maine town of Freedom. She has received accolades from all over the culinary universe, with big names and big outlets all clamoring to shower her with praise for the amazing dining experience that she has built in her tiny corner of the world.

What you might not now is just how much she went through to get here.

“Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch” (Celadon Books, $28) is the story of French’s journey in her own words. It is a story of one woman’s voyage of self-discovery and the many dizzying highs and shattering lows that came along the way. It’s a work of reflection and at-times brutal honesty, dotted with revelations and confessions. There are tears aplenty, but also more than a few laughs as well; it’s a portrait of a sometimes fractured and always full life.

Through it all, the indomitable spirit of Erin French shines through. Even in those moments where she seems to be at her lowest, when her world is crumbling around her, that fortitude is obvious. This is a woman who took every shot that life could throw at her and simply refused to stay down. That resilience is on full display throughout this book, and it is only that resilience that allowed her to become the person that she is today.

Wednesday, 07 April 2021 11:13

On National Beer Day - An Ode to Beer

I do believe that I shall never find

A beverage that tastes so very right

As you, sweet beer, and all those of your kind;

Your foamy head is a creamy delight.

Your colors excite, be they dark or pale;

There is beauty in your condensation

And delicious crispness within your scent.

I take great pleasure in every detail

Of this truly inspiring creation,

With nary an instant of discontent.

 

You've never failed to satisfy me, beer;

An affection you have never betrayed.

That love began in my 21st year

And continues still to this very day.

Your refreshing nature is coy and cool;

With always that chance that you might surprise,

You’re ever-informed with elan and joy.

Men who deny you are nothing but fools

To say no to you, so tasty a prize,

Your flavors that we embrace and enjoy.

 

Countless varieties tickle my tongue,

From lagers to ales to stouts and beyond.

In pubs near and far, your praises are sung;

Hymns to those flavors of which we are fond.

Bangor Beer Co. is great! So is Lone Pine!

To Geaghans, Black Bear and 2 Feet as well!

OGs Sea Dog and Shipyard and Geary’s!

To Marsh Island, OBC and Airline!

We love Rising Tide, Mast Landing is swell;

Mason’s and Banded: an ongoing series.

 

I love that I find you most everywhere;

Your presence is indeed ubiquitous.

Your amber wonder an answered prayer,

Your attitude never duplicitous.

Of course, I strive not to drink to excess;

Responsibly is how I enjoy you,

For too much of you is simply no fun.

For National Beer Day, I must express

Love for your many forms, both old and new -

But my favorite beer is the next one.

 

(A version of this poem has appeared previously in The Maine Edge.)

In recent years, Bangor and beer have become synonymous. The region has become a legitimate hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers. The craft beer explosion has been a remarkable thing to watch as more and more passionate brewers decide to try and bring their sudsy dreams to fruition.

Leaving aside the economic impact – which is undeniably significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer. We’re up to our ears in options from breweries large and small. In fact, by some measurements, Maine is one of the beeriest states in the Union, with recent developments pushing us past Vermont as the state with the most breweries per capita.

Obviously, the last year has been hard on businesses across the board; the craft brewing industry is no more immune to that difficulty than any other, not to mention the hospitality industry as a whole. Yet we remain committed to our beer; we can only hope that the positive developments out there will lead us back to the bars and beer coolers en masse as we move forward.

And make no mistake – the beer is definitely still out there. No matter what your taste might be, you’ll be able to find something to suit your particular palate at an area brewery. And since National Beer Day is here, we thought it might be nice to take a moment and celebrate.

One could argue that all literature has the writer opening themselves up to the reader. And that’s probably true as far as it goes. But very few writers can truly invite the reader in, laying bare everything and inviting our examination.

Haruki Murakami invites you in.

His latest is “First Person Singular” (Knopf, $28), a collection of eight stories that are all told – you guessed it – in the first person, tales of absurdity and magic and passion. Whether we’re getting accounts of talking monkeys or sweetly weird looks at first love or poems about baseball, it all springs from the same never-ending font of humanism, melancholic though it may sometimes be.

These are stories about being apart, being other. They’re stories offered up from the perspective of eight similar-but-different characters, only one of whom cops to the name that in truth they all fundamentally share – Haruki Murakami.

PORTLAND – Maine’s premier fringe festival weirdoes are at it again, offering up a uniquely collaborative take on a literary classic.

The PortFringe Festival has once again unleashed its annual Pop-Up experience on the world with its latest iteration, an adaptation of Dante’s “Inferno.” This filmed collaboration involving a dozen different groups and individual artists is available for streaming at the PortFringe website (www.portfringe.com/inferno) through April 15. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, though it’s worth mentioning that this is PortFringe’s primary fundraiser, so be generous if you can.

Previous installments have included three Shakespeare plays – “Hamlet,” “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – and two other classics in “The Odyssey” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

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