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Wednesday, 06 July 2011 05:39

Summer snack shack attack

Written by Katy England

Summer can be a fickle season in Maine, as evidenced by a May that was all but consumed by rain - but since that still counts as spring, we can willfully ignore that. Thankfully, weather isn't the only way to determine if summer is here. There's a much more consistent means of enjoying summer, and that is with good food.

Maine is famous for its seasonal food stands that attract tourists like flowers attract bees. I've always said, those of us who are here throughout the year need to take time to enjoy these delightful foods that folks are willing to travel hundreds of miles just to taste.

We did a non-scientific mini-poll on Facebook, and here are some local favorites. You know, the ones you drive slowly by in the early weeks of May like a fried food-stalker to see if maybe they decided to open early just for you.

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 05:39

Another world, minutes from this one

Written by Katy England
The Orono Bog Boardwalk

ORONO/BANGOR - Just three miles from the Bangor Mall is a strange and wonderful world waiting to be explored: the Orono Bog Boardwalk, situated on the edge of the Bangor City Forest.

Visitors can explore a portion of the 616-acre bog with the help of the 4,200-foot boardwalk that was installed by volunteers nine years ago. The idea was that of retired Professor Emeritus of biology Ron Davis, who founded the bog walk.

"Bogs are such beautiful and interesting places," said Davis. "I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a place for people to get out [into the bog] without getting their feet wet?"

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 05:39

A Monster View

Written by Allen Adams
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 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, 13 July 2011 05:38

History in blue

Written by Katy England
90 years of Maine State Police

For approximately 90 years the Maine State Police have been patrolling the highways and byways of Maine. Tpr. Tom Fiske a patrol trooper from Troop E has been updating and maintaining the history of the Maine State Police, as well as teaching it to would-be troopers attending the Regional Trooper Training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

"I can't take complete credit. [The history] was started long before I came along, and I took it and made it my own," he said. He was hooked after he attended the Maine State Police Academy's class on the agency's history.

"I've always been interested in history, and that [class] turned me on to it," he said.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 05:38

Snapshot of a rivalry

Written by Allen Adams
Experiencing Red Sox/Yankees

There are few rivalries in sports that match the intensity of Red Sox/Yankees. Those two storied franchises have a long and checkered history - a history that only recently has begun to even out.

Even an unabashed Red Sox homer such as myself has to acknowledge that up until the beginning of the 21st century, this rivalry was mostly a one-sided "rivalry" - the simple truth was that the Yankees had boatloads of World Series titles, while the Red Sox hadn't won a title since 1918. However, starting with the epic playoff battles of the early 2000s, the Sox put themselves on much more even footing with their hated pinstriped foes.

The energy of this rivalry is unparalleled. However, despite my long-standing status as a devout and devoted Sox fan, I had never had the opportunity to experience that rivalry firsthand.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 05:38

Levy bids a fond farewell to Bangor

Written by Allen Adams
Artistic director leaves PTC after six years

BANGOR - Over the past decade, we have been privileged to witness a revitalization of creative culture in the city of Bangor. With a burgeoning music scene and assorted arts organizations springing up all across the creative spectrum, it's a wonderful time for artistically-minded individuals.

One of the cornerstones of that revitalization has been Penobscot Theatre Company. As one of the longest-tenured artistic tenants of downtown Bangor, PTC has always been one of the keys to artistic development in the region.

And the man who has held the keys to PTC for the past six years is saying goodbye.

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 05:38

A Tale of Two Downtowns

Written by Allen Adams & Jodi Hersey
Bangor & Ellsworth's downtown boom

BANGOR - We've all been privileged to witness the revitalization of downtown Bangor over the past few years. The creative community has been growing by leaps and bounds and there are a number of wonderful new businesses that have opened up downtown, resulting in a happily thriving part of town.

Don't get me wrong; there were already tons of great places downtown. Places like Paddy Murphy's and Giacomo's, Bagel Central and Ipanema, Bella Luna, Epic Sports and the Discovery Museum - all of these places have become vital parts of the downtown foundation.

But there are a whole lot of new businesses downtown as well. Here are just a few:

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 05:38

Three new Englands

Written by Katy England
Starting a family with a bang

Having worked at this paper for going on five years, it's not unheard of for me to write a story about incredible adventures, whether it's riding down the raging rapids with Three Rivers Whitewater Rafting, leaping out of airplanes with Skydive New England and Central Maine Skydiving, deep sea fishing, ocean kayaking or ride alongs with various law enforcement agencies. So, this might dull the nepotistic edge of writing about my brand new family.

Of course, this probably wouldn't be front page news if I didn't work here. And even if things had been normal, I probably wouldn't have thought to write more than a brief blurb about it. But, as anyone who knows me will attest, I'm far from normal. Having triplets is just further proof in a long line of empirical evidence. Here's the journey.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 05:38

A few fairs and festivals

Written by Allen Adams
Maine's summer offers a wide variety of celebrations

Summertime in Maine is truly a wonderful time. The sun is shining, the birds are singing - we're all going off to the beach or up to camp. We're hiking and biking all over the beautiful landscape.

But suppose you don't like to swim. Maybe you're not all that interested in hiking or biking. Does that mean the Maine summer has nothing for you? The answer, happily, is no. So what are your other options?

Fairs. Festivals. Celebrations of various people, places and things abound around the state at this time of year. You can just hop in the car and find something to enjoy. There's artistic excitement and culinary wonder, food and fun all over the map. Some take place over the course of a few days or a week, while others stretch across large chunks of the summer.

Wednesday, 06 April 2011 05:38

Celebrating Beer Day

Written by Allen Adams

One of the greatest things about this job is that I'm always learning new things. For instance, until just a few short weeks ago, I had never heard of National Beer Day or its companion holiday, New Beer's Eve.

National Beer Day takes place on April 7 every year. Why April 7? So glad you asked.

The Prohibition era in the United States began in 1920 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was effected, outlawing the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol on a national level. The National Prohibition Act, passed in 1919 and popularly known as the Volstead Act, established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor and the assorted punishments for producing or selling it.

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