Thursday, April 30, 2009

UMaine Today magazine: the Kristen Andresen Show

I got a copy of UMaine Today in my mailbox in the journalism department the other day. I really like the cover and It's a nice little PR piece for the sciency side of the university.

However, as I was flipping through it I noticed that four out of the five main features were written by the same person: Kristen Andresen. Managing editor Margaret Nagle wrote one piece. There is also a lot of non-bylined stories that I'm assuming Kristen wrote too, because putting your name on everything in the magazine gets a redundant, ridiculous, and all around silly. This is probably why she doesn't appear in the masthead of the publication.

Don't get me wrong, Kristen is a top-notch writer and she's just doing her job. But as a writer and an editor we don't allow any writer to have more than two bylined pieces in our magazine each month. Because it looks redundant, ridiculous, and all around silly. The more voices the better in my opinion.

Now I know that UMaine is going through a budget crunch, but why not have students write some of the pieces? Interns are free and they're right on campus! It would be nice to know that there isn't just one person writing an entire magazine. By having (practically) one writer, UMaine Today loses some of it's credibility in my book.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Working Together

Today I spend the majority of the day in Camden, Maine with my friend and fellow journalist Anne Ravana. Anne is the Bangor radio news reporter for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. She mentioned to me yesterday during our afternoon stint of grading papers that she was heading to Camden to do a story on Camden Hills High School and wanted to know if I wanted to come along. Camden Hills is looking into becoming a Visa holding public school -- which means it can accept tuition paying foreign kids as students who can graduate with a diploma.

What a coincidence! I am planning on writing a story about public/private schools in Maine who do that very thing! They have dorms and everything and offer a unique, safe, rigorous curriculum for foreign students who want to improve their English language skills and go on to an American college or university.

I went along for the ride and the interview.

One of our friends furrowed her brow and asked Annie how we were going to interview the same people....she thought that Bangor Metro and MPBN were media rivals. We're not. We don't cover the same things and Annie does a story a day where I do a story a month -- and way in advance. This school story won't even come out until our September Education issue. So it was perfect!

It's nice having friends who do the same things you do. It makes a 4 hour car ride pass by in no time! Check out Annie's story Tuesday night at 5 p.m. or check it out online at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Baseball Backlash

If any of you Yankees fans out there have seen one of their home games on tv I bet you've noticed a bunch of premium seats behind the dugouts and home plate sitting empty. I cackle to the hubris of the Yankees organization in thinking that building a huge new stadium and charging around $500 for one of those cushy seats was a good idea.
Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ general managing partner, said recently that “small amounts of our tickets might be overpriced.” -- from The New York Times
A small amount of seats are overpriced? Take another look Steinbrenner at the amount of empty seats you've got there!

This just tickles my fancy to no end. The amount of money these sports organizations expect people to pay to see a game is ridiculous. Perhaps if professional athletes didn't command such large sums of money to play a game they love, regular people like me could afford to go to a game more than once every five years. Regular American people -- and even corporations these days -- are not going to shell out that kind of cash for a baseball game. Not in this economy. Now the Yankees are scrambling to find a way to cover the costs that are being lost each game.

Read the article here.

Maine Man Song

I'm not really sure what this has to do with Alka-Seltzer but this is hilarious!

Happy Earth Day!

Check out this hilarious blog on Write Stuff that includes Melanie's tips for living a green life. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Troll Barbie?

I was watching this hilarious Sarah Haskins clip today and was blown away by Troll Barbie! She does exist! And you thought she was just into things like rollerskating, the prom, mermaids, corvettes, and Malibu beach...

Water vs. Electronics

I don't understand all the waterproof electronics out there....especially this one: The worlds first solar powered waterproof phone.

I have never in my 10 years of cell phone ownership gotten my phone soaking wet. I have never dropped it in a toilet, or a pool, or been pushed into a toilet or pool while my phone was in my pocket. WHY does a cellphone need to be waterproof? WHY can't people just take care of their things?

What's next? Sunglasses with tiny windshield wipers?

Freelance Writers Bill of Rights

I found this post on The Renegade Writer Blog and I thought it was quite interesting. I'll list what they consider to be the bill of rights and add my own comments.

1. You have the right to say no.

True, but depending on your experience and this damn economy you might want to say yes. I'm not saying write for free -- but perhaps take on some assignments that might not be as interesting as you hoped for.

2. You have the right to ask for more.
But I wouldn't expect more. I had a freelancer who wrote one story for me and upon being assigned another asked if, since I knew her writing style now, she could get paid more money. That annoyed me. We have freelancers who have written for us for years who don't get paid more than when they started. In this economy we're barely getting by. You can ask for more...but it's not going to win you any points...especially if you just started writing for a publication.

3. You have the right to control your own time.
Use it wisely. If an editor asks you for something that is completely ridiculous time wise you can let them know. They should plan better on their end.

4. You have the right to be treated fairly.
Basically you have the right to not be taken advantage of and treated professionally.

5. You have the right to be paid.

And in a timely manner. I get so angry when I find out that my freelancers haven't received checks that were invoiced months ago. It's embarrassing to me. Stay on top of it and save the emails with the invoices attached that you sent to your contact person.

6. You have the right to look good.

Ask the editor to send you some tear sheets or PDFs of the article before it goes to print so that you can check it over one last time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Book

The book I had been waiting for finally was returned to the public library. FINALLY! "The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao" has been keeping me good company lately. I look forward to ending the day with it in bed with my dog.

I was a little confused at first -- because it seems that every chapter of the book is written in a different voice, and it's not always apparent who that voice is at first. Later on I realize it's his college roommate, Yunior, who is the narrator most of the time -- but not until the middle of the book. But once you get past it and just listen to the story it doesn't matter too much. I may even have to read Junot Diaz's other book "Drown" when I'm done. I love finding new authors to book-stalk!

I have not read a lot of fiction out of the Caribbean, where half of this book is set, so it's really interesting to learn about the history of the Dominican Republic -- things I didn't learn while growing up in New England believe it or not.
Díaz’s novel also has a wild, capacious spirit, making it feel much larger than it is. Within its relatively compact span, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” contains an unruly multitude of styles and genres. The tale of Oscar’s coming-of-age is in some ways the book’s thinnest layer, a young-adult melodrama draped over a multigenerational immigrant family chronicle that dabbles in tropical magic realism, punk-rock feminism, hip-hop machismo, post-postmodern pyrotechnics and enough polymorphous multiculturalism to fill up an Introduction to Cultural Studies syllabus. -- from The New York Times book review
I'm half way through and I know that Oscar dies in the end and I am so rooting for him that I'm afraid when it happens I'll be devastated. I'll let you know how he goes...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why Facebook is good

Social networking has put me in touch with all sorts of people I wouldn't have found otherwise. It has made planning my 13th high school reunion this summer a snap. I can stalk my friends and my crushes all day without them knowing. Heck, I even got an interview with Mr. American Pie himself -- Don McLean -- through friending him on MySpace! Amazing!

But this story might top them all. According to this post in Jezebel, a lost cat was returned to his owner TWO YEARS after meandering away.
Shane and Nicole Meide's cat, Bob, ran away from their home two years ago. They had given up hope of ever seeing him again when they got a Facebook message saying, "We found your cat." - from
How awesome! Hooray for big fat cats and Facebook!

I can't stop laughing at this...

Is this not the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen? It's called the Peekaru and is either from outer space or Sweden. I found it on Kristina's hilarious blog, which you can see here. Her take on the adult peekaru is hilarious.

WHO in their right mind would wear such a fashion faux pas? If I ever see a woman -- or a man -- wearing one of these silly things I will chastise them in public. I will point and laugh.

Vassalboro is going nude

A while ago I wrote a post about a topless coffee shop in Vassalboro. Turns out the coffee shop is doing so well the owner wants to open up a strip club!
VASSALBORO, Maine — The owner of a topless coffee shop in Vassalboro is setting his sights on opening a strip club.

The Grand View Topless Coffee Shop opened in February over the objections of local residents who opposed the business.

Owner Donald Crabtree told the Kennebec Journal that he now plans to seek a entertainment license for a strip club that would be open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. and have a seating capacity of 300.

His plans are likely to face opposition. In response to complaints about the coffee shop, the Vassalboro town manager has a drafted a proposed adult entertainment ordinance that would ban nudity at local businesses.

Officials say the coffee shop wouldn't be affected by the ordinance because it already has a town permit. - from the Associated Press
What shocked me was not that the dude wanted to open a strip club in Vassalboro -- but that he wanted to keep it open from 6 am to 1 am! Who needs to see boobies at 7 am? Don't people have to go to work? And 300 seats!? Good grief! Sounds like people in Vassalboro are hard up for some action...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dunkin' Donuts has no charm

I liked this article by Abby Curtis for the Bangor Daily News today.
CAMDEN, Maine — News that developers would like to open a Dunkin’ Donuts in the heart of this scenic seaside community has acted like a jolt of caffeine to residents worried the chain restaurant would erode their town’s charm.
I think the debate has deeper roots than just the towns charm, though.

Curtis includes the fact that Camden has six to seven vacant storefronts -- which is not charming in the least. I understand the sensitivity people have for their quaint town, but I've never heard of a Dunkin' Donuts making it worse. In fact, having a Dunkin' Donuts in your town means you have finally made it in New England....or at least that's what it seems.

My two cents? I think if the developers put the business in a not-typical Dunkin' Donuts designed building and melded the storefront with what's around it everything could be fine -- which is the plan for now.

Unless there is a local doughnut and coffee shop in the village there's no competition. I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather go to Frank's Bake Shop in Bangor than to any number of the Dunkin' Donuts around here....but I have a choice. And so do all the people in Camden. I say better to have a Dunkin' Donuts in an empty storfront in Camden than nothing at all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where Mimi Went: Boston

On Sunday morning my mother, sister and I headed down to Boston for the night. The occasion? Besides Easter we went to see Dirty Dancing at the Boston Opera House.

I have to admit -- I wasn't expecting anything special. Dirty Dancing on stage? Weird. Lame. Obnoxious. It was none of these things. It was....AWESOME! The actors were amazing dancers and had powerful singing voices. The set design was creative and intelligent. The only thing that sucked was Johnny Castle's Australian accent. He was no Patrick Swayze but he was close.

On Monday we got up and walked around Back Bay. I know the economy sucks but for some reason I just figured it wouldn't be so bad in Boston. All along Newbury Street there were empty store windows and storefronts for lease. I kept saying "oh so-and-so used to be here!" It was sort of depressing.

The three of us, however, focused on doing our part by stimulating the economy. I got a smart white trench coat on sale at Ann Taylor ($170 down to $58...holla!) and Jenn and Mum got make-up at Sephora. I also got my brother a nifty gift that I'm saving for Christmas. People always make fun of me for shopping early but it saves me time and money.

Anyway -- it was a wonderful trip and I even got to see my friend Krista and stay in a fancy hotel. Hooray!

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Mimi Saw: The Way We Get By

If you do nothing else this weekend you must go see the documentary The Way We Get By. It's a documentary by a local dude named Aron Gaudet and his fiance Gita Pullapilly about three of the Maine Troop Greeters who volunteer at Bangor International Airport.

The film is making a run through Maine before heading out to premieres in New York and Los Angeles. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a contender for the Academy Award next year. The video will soon be on Netflix and will be on public television this fall. Check out the trailer...I dare you not to cry...

The Way We Get By - Trailer from The Way We Get By on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fairpoint Sucks

It took my mother a good month of arguing with FairPoint to get my grandmother's phone line hooked up in her room at the assisted living home. One day alone she was on hold for FOUR HOURS with FairPoint. They kept passing her on to someone else. It took a note from grandma's doctor, blood work, and a letter from the Governor of Maine to get any help. Kidding -- sort of. Someone at FairPoint finally told my mum she could put a rush on her phone order if grandma needed it for medical reasons. And she does. It took a month to figure this out.

This is what I got in the mail today...

What a great ad campain!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Maine people are mean

I just read this article in the Bangor Daily News about the bust of a Brewer prostitution ring. The fact that the women's photos were published bothered my co-worker. Her thought is that if women are resorting to prostitution they have issues and are in trouble -- so why make it worse?

I was interested to see what people were saying online. As of 11:20 am there were over 110 comments on the story. To my horror most of them were EXTREMELY MEAN! Why? I was amazed at the lack of compassion. Sure, prostitution isn't the most highly regarded job, but these women were doing what they had to do -- or wanted to do -- to make a buck. Sure if they are cheating the system they should be punished but the hateful messages on the board surprised me.

And don't forget -- you might be surprised as to who went to these women for services.
Wonder why none of the Brewer Johns weren't busted. It takes two to commit prostitution. Maybe the Brewer Johns were Good Ole Brewer Boys protected by the cops. Must be nice to be connected in Brewer. - posted by Knightscross

Some of the mean comments:

The coup-de-grace......other than Kimberly Oakley, these girls are so ugly the tide wouldn't take them out!!!! -- from limestone65

Why can't people start using their brains and get real jobs? -- from Mapleton09

surprise surprise!!! Nasty ignorant people, why can't people make a living just working and not spreading their nasty diseases. GROSS!!!! -- from citizens

I guess I just expected more empathy and less insults. Call me naive.

Do people really fall for this stuff?

I just got an email from a Michelle Robert, the only child of a wealthy cocoa merchant and his darling wife in the Ivory Coast. Her father was poisoned to death due to the fact that he has over $7 million in U.S. currency and Michelle is looking for a "GOD fearing foreign partner" in the U.S. to help her get the money.
Please, I am now ready to do all these since my father my bread winner is no more. l am honourable seeking your assistance in the following ways.

(1) To serve as my guardian in your country while I will depend on your expert advise since l am only 22 years.
(2) To make arrangement for me to come over to your country in order to further my university education and to secure a residential permit for me in your country.

Moreover, l am willing to offer you 15% of the total sum as compensation for your assistance in the transfer of this fund to your country. Furthermore, you can indicate your option towards assisting me as l believed that this project would be concluded within seven days you signify interest to assist me by standing by me as my foreign trustee / guardian.
Hoping to hear from you soon. May God bless you as you as you extend your helping hand to an orphan.
I used to get these emails all the time when I worked for This is the first I have gotten at my work email address in Maine.

I feel like old people and Christians are going to fall for this sort of crap. I hate junk mail...

What Mimi Saw: Commercials!

I love March Madness. What I didn't love was the lame game last night. I hate when a team is blown away by the other one. So boring!

But as I have been watching March Madness this month I've been noticing a shift in car commercials. Saturn and Toyota both are advertising deals in which if you lose your job they will help you with the car payments. Interesting notion don't you think?

How badly would it suck if you bought a new Toyota Camry only to be laid off the next day? Granted, if you know your job is on the line I wouldn't suggest running out and buying a new car -- but some people are blindsided.

This deal is one way to assure consumers that all is not lost if they buy a new car. I haven't looked into the nitty gritty of the promotion, but the fact that they have such a promotion is newsworthy to me. Times are a'changin' -- business as usual clearly isn't working.

Monday, April 6, 2009

iPhone hatred

I loved reading this piece in The New York Times today about why this woman hates her iPhone.
At 4 in the morning, I was in bed, fighting rage. I couldn’t stop thinking about that device’s tarty little face and those yapping “apps” you can download for it. The whole iPhone enterprise seemed to require so much attention, organization, explanation, praise, electricity. I know — I know: in the morning, Apple’s latest miracle machine would fill my palm with meaning and magic. So why couldn’t I contain my annoyance? I had no new-thing excitement. It dawned on me: I hated my iPhone.
I do not like the iPhone for many reasons.

1. I can't afford it or the phone plan.
2. I live in Maine where you have to be choosy about your carrier if you want to actually use your phone.
3. The fact that you can read The New York Times on it is cool if you have magnifying lenses attached to your eyeballs.
4. It looks like it's going to break easily.
5. With the way Apple works, a new one will come out every 6-months to a year. I can't keep up with technology.

I had my first cell phone for 4 years. It was a Samsung and my carrier was Sprint. The only reason I got a new one was because after dropping it a dozen times it was breaking. Other than that it worked fine.

Of course it didn't take photos, send text messages, or allow me to send emails. That was ok with me. I carry a small digital camera with me at all times anyway that has video capturing capabilities.

The more your cell phone can do for you the more you will rely on it. I have a friend who texts me constantly asking me silly questions. His phone is his crutch. He no longer has to make decisions for himself -- he can just text or twitter all his friends and they'll tell him what to buy, see, do. His phone is turning him into a robot.

I am on the computer all day long. Literally. The last thing I want to do is watch a video on my tiny little phone. Or read a book on it. Or play a game on it. IT'S TOO SMALL! My eyesight is deteriorating at it's own pace, thank you very much.

I have the most simplest cell phone out there. It still takes photos, but I don't use that feature. And I don't connect to the internet on it because it costs too much money. I am a creature who can sit still and observe and listen to what's around her. I don't need to be constantly entertained by an iPhone.

Photo by Kevin Van Aeist, NYT

New Book

I have been waiting for a couple books to be brought back to the public library from some lazy readers out there. So for two weeks I've been sans book. I HATE being sans book because I love to read before I fall asleep in my bed with my cozy little pup. Sudoku just isn't cutting it.

So I broke down and bought a couple of books from Borders yesterday. I had a gift certificate from my birthday in October and It was buy one get one half off. I'm a sucker for a deal.

I got I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. I'm a huge fan of the essays by David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, so I figured I'd give this chick a try. She's not as funny as Sedaris and not as drunk and damaged as Burroughs -- but I think I like her. I feel as though we would be friends maybe. She has a silly family, and I have a silly family. She collects weird things like figurines of ponies and I collect weird things like Christmas ornaments in the shape of shoes and spoons.

Anyway, I'm only two essays in so it might be too soon to tell. I'll keep you updated...

Friday, April 3, 2009

The dumbest people in New England

Young people continue to amaze me with their stupidity. Police in Waterville, Maine, have arrested a bunch of teen and 20-somethings in connection with a fire at the Waterville Boys & Girls Club on March 16th.

How did they apprehend these individuals? The morons -- nine all together -- broke into the building, threw Molotov cocktails, and made a video of the whole thing with music and the names of the people involved, AND POSTED IT ON YOUTUBE!
They threw the bottles against the inside walls of an empty swimming pool, smashing the bottles, causing an explosion and sending flames 20 feet in the air, Massey said.

They videotaped the incident, set it to heavy metal music, added a list of credits, naming those involved, and put it on YouTube, Massey said.

The parent of one of the suspects saw the video, got alarmed and took her son to the police station to report the incident, Massey said. - from the Portland Press Herald
WHY ARE TEENAGERS SO STUPID!? They added a list of credits? Why on earth would you do that? You'd think with all this new innovative technology that the youth of our country would be getting smarter -- but in fact they are getting dumber and dumber by the year. I'm afraid to have children...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This recession is scary...

The other day I sent my students an article about all the newspapers that are closing around the country. Most of them shrugged their shoulders and said, "no biggie -- I'm going into broadcasting."

Right at the tippy top of today's Bangor Daily News is a banner that reads: WABI-TV announces cuts. Anchorman Craig Colson, reporter Susan Farley among 7 layoffs at television news station.

This is sad news! Craig Colson is part of a broadcasting legend in Maine. His dad, Don Colson, was the news anchor here when I was growing up.
Colson said in an e-mail Wednesday that "losing my job is a big shock, but it comes as no surprise." Colson added: "My one regret is that I wasn't given a chance to say farewell to the audience, to say goodnight one last time. That's what I'm doing now. It has been an honor to be able to come into their homes each night." - from the BDN
Colson had worked at WABI since 1985. Some of the people who lost their jobs had worked at the station for more than 20 years; some less than 5.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Easter Egg Extravaganza!

I found the neatest Easter Egg coloring project from Scribbit. It's easy, and fun, and uses grandpa's (or dad's) old silk ties! Click here for the 'how-to'. They're so pretty I would suggest shellacking them with some modge podge or something to keep them lookin' good all year long. They'd also make for some pretty Christmas tree decorations.