Daily Archives: December 18, 2009

And I was trying to stay out of the whole vampire thing …

I am not into fads, especially those rising from the wreckage that is the entertainment industry.

That is not intended as an insult to my very hardworking and very talented friends working as journalists covering the entertainment industry. No, those hardworking and talented people come up with their very own fads … that I tend to ignore, also.

So I have stayed away from bothering with the resurgence of vampires on TV and cinema screens and in posters and whatnot purchased by teenagers. Just not interested.

But here I go writing – although very briefly – about vampires.

As I do often, I was checking out DownEast.com and went to its Maine trivia question. Today’s was:

What town is the basis for Collinsport in the Gothic horror soap opera “Dark Shadows”?

The answer surprised me:

Bar Harbor

I am not sure why it surprised me, after all, for as long as I can recall movies and TV have filmed in Maine or been “set” in Maine. (i.e. “Murder She Wrote” was set in Maine, but the bulk of the filming was done in California. My first job out of college was in Mendocino, Calif., where some exterior scenes were shot. Sunsets were shot at sunrise, etc.)

 “Peyton Place,” “Captains Courageous” and “In the Bedroom” were filmed in Camden, which is the community that jumped to mind when I first read the question. They even have the Camden International Film Festival.

“The Cider House Rules” also was filmed in Maine.

Stephen King is perhaps the most famous Maine resident and many of his tales are set in smalltown Maine. But as far as I could tell, only “Pet Semetary,” “The Storm of the Century,” and “Thinner” were made in Maine.

You might have noticed that two TV adaptations of King’s vampire tale, “Salem’s Lot,” were not listed here. That is because the 1979 version was filmed in Eureka, Calif., and Ferndale, Calif., according to the Internet Movie Database, which are two fine Northern California towns that Mainers would not mind visiting, trust me. And the 2004 version was filmed in Australia. That’s what IMDB says, Australia.

I looked for a more comprehensive list of films shot in Maine, but did not immediately find one. I will update this post with the list or a link to the list should I find it.

Here are links to a couple of other Maine/New England film and video websites.

Oh, by the way, IMDB says the 1966 version of “Dark Shadows,” the show mentioned in the trivia question, was filmed in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York City. The 1991 version was filmed in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. Go figure.

Maine Warden Service warns: No safe ice anywhere in state – Bangor Daily News

This seems like a good warning to pass along.

Maine Warden Service warns: No safe ice anywhere in state – Bangor Daily News.

Getting wired throughout Maine

OK, $25.4 million is a lot of money. It is more than I have on me just now.

 

And I have no idea where it will come from other than from all of our pockets and the pockets of generations to come.

 

But if the intent is righteous, it could be a huge economic lift for typically underserved rural communities.

 

First, there will be jobs, from manufacturing to installation to maintenance of the planned broadband system. Some will be immediate and some will be more sustained.

 

Second, the three rural regions – northern Maine, western Maine and Downeast – get broadband, which means hopefully faster and more dependable Internet connections to rural areas.

 

Third, entrepreneurial opportunities the likes of which Mainers in rural settings have never seen before are wide open. Small business owners can better research their market audience, order supplies, promote their products to a global client base, arrange for deliveries, chat in real time with customers around the world, make immediate shifts in manufacturing if necessary, and more. It levels the playing field in so many ways.

 

It is a lot of money and I very much hope the pricetag does not go the way of all things. The region needs this.

 

Building an information highway – Bangor Daily News.

Christmas Past Part 2: ‘Calling too late for wishes’

Here is the second in the series of four recycled holiday columns I wrote years ago. The first in the series was partly about the holiday spirit taking over and partly about a wire story on how a Texas lawmaker had raised the ire of Texas Christmas tree growers by putting up in the Texas House of Representatives a plastic Christmas tree made in China. Yeah, that did not go over well.

The one below pokes fun at me for waiting until the last moment to begin holiday shopping. I even come up with a name for the illness and write about it in another in this series of four recycled columns.

Enjoy! Or not.

Calling too late for wishes

Editor’s note: The author was the opinion page editor at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this was first published on Dec. 24, 2003.

By Keith Michaud

“Thanks for calling the North Pole Operations Center Customer Service Division. Elf 1st Class Norman here. How can I help you?”

“Norman, is it? Yeah, I’m in a bit of a bind and I was hoping you and the Jolly One for whom you work could give me a hand.”

“We’ll see. What seems to be the problem?”

“You see, in typical fashion …”

“Naturally.”

“… I waited until the very last minute to begin my Christmas shopping.”

“I see.”

“And, well, I was hoping you fellas could, you know, get me out of a jam.”

“OK, well, Santa is kind of tied up right now …”

“Yeah, I figured he would be pretty busy what with it being Christmas Eve and all. I knew I was calling much too late …”

“It’s quite OK. We deal with these sorts of things every year. You’re not the first mentally challenged last-minute shopper to call the Santa’s North Pole Operations Center.”

“Oh, I see …”

“Now, what can we do for you? Is there something in particular you’re looking for this year.”

“World peace would be nice. And it would be cool for our servicemen and women to have a safe holiday season and get back home before too long. This whole thing in Afghanistan and Iraq is costing us all too much money and too much in lives.”

“World peace? Well, we’ll give it a try, but you have to understand that’s a pretty tall order, even for Kris Kringle, and especially on such short notice.”

“Well, yeah, I didn’t really expect him to get it done overnight. But perhaps he could work on it after the new year?”

“I’ll take it up with him after The Run. Now, what else? Perhaps something a bit more doable?”

“How ’bout ending world hunger?”

“OK, anything that has to do with ‘world’ anything isn’t going to get done by Christmas morning. It’s just not gonna happen.”

“OK, OK. Mmm, what about fixing up things in Sacramento. Years and years of silly politics has pretty much tarnished the Golden State. Don’t get me wrong. Gov. Terminator has taken some action, but I’m not sure he’s an action hero when it comes to politics. Can Santa fix up the state government, and the economy while he’s at it …”

“Whoa, now. There are just some things even Santa Claus can’t do. You Californians will have to take care of things on your own with that one. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“I suppose not. Those were the big ones this year. Maybe next year?”

“Perhaps. But try calling before Christmas Eve next time. Santa can’t work miracles, ya know.”

“Yeah, OK.”

Previously posted:

Christmas Past Part 1: ‘Holiday spirit takes off’

Christmas Past Part 1: ‘Holiday spirit takes off’

Truly the most satisfying part of being a journalist is coming up with timely, meaningful topics about which to write passionately. Journalists take great pride in finding an issue – homelessness, hunger, corruption, for examples – and writing or producing a product that sheds light on that issue and positively affects the people in their audience.

This is not one of those instances.

Instead, this is a case of a journalist recycling a handful of holiday columns, because, well, he can. Over the next couple of days I will present those holiday columns I wrote years ago. These are not particularly poignant tales of redemption or reunion. For the most part, these were columns I wrote on deadline to fill a hole on a page. (There! I admitted it!)

But there may be nuggets of wit here and there, so I urge you to read on just for fun.

Holiday spirit takes off

Editor’s note: The author was the opinion page editor of The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this column was first published on Dec. 10, 2003.

By Keith Michaud

It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas around Vacaville – the Christmas tree downtown and garland on the lampposts, holiday decorations at every turn, and the throng of holiday shoppers have arrived from parts far and wide.

Yep, there’s nothing quite like seeing grown folks wrestling in the aisles of local department stores pitted in battle over an $8.99 toy or a $2.99 Christmas ribbon.

Ah, even I’m beginning to feel that holiday spirit growin’ inside me. Or it could be heartburn from my breakfast burrito.

At any rate, I’m thinking about perhaps possibly beginning my holiday shopping list to be checked not once, but twice. And I might actually get to the actual shopping by, say, Christmas Eve. Boxing Day at the latest.

I’m not one to rush into such things. After all, I’ve had all year to plot my holiday shopping strategy. I don’t want to blow it now by rushing it at the end.

Of course, first on my holiday shopping list will be my Mom and sister and her family. Shipping packages back to the Deep Dark North Woods of Maine requires planning and timing. It also requires knowing plane, train and stagecoach schedules in order to get the packages there on time. But after living in California for the past 20 years, I think I may have mastered the technique. I think.

More on that later …

 * * *

California lawmakers should feel fortunate. They only have to deal with a state budget that looks much like Swiss cheese and a governor the size of a Swiss, er, Austrian mountain. They don’t have to deal with a Christmas tree scandal.

The speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Tom Craddick, put up a plastic, made-in-China Christmas tree in the House and now has the state’s Christmas tree farmers up in arms, according to a Reuters story.

“I think people can deduce for themselves about what it means to have a plastic Christmas tree from China in the Texas State House,” the story quoted Lanny Dreesen, a Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association spokesman.

Hm, Mr. Dreesen seems to have a Texas-size temper.

I’ve been in this business a while now and I deduced a couple of things – don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with Texas Christmas tree farmers.

If I had my choices, I’d want to deal with budget woes over fending off an attack by Christmas tree growers. Imagine the political clout these growers have, especially at this time of the year. Imagine the lawsuits they could bring.

Yep, I’m getting that holiday spirit.