Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I had a great post idea all set to go this morning. Last night I was driving home and caught Anne Ravana's story on Maine Public Broadcasting's Maine Things Considered. Annie is a great friend of mine and I try to catch her daily stories, which, all bias aside, are well reported and usually very interesting.

Her story last night was about the Penobscot Indian Nation calling on the Baseball Hall of Fame to honor the achievements of Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play in the major leagues.

The Penobscot Nation is asking the Cleveland Indians (the team Sockalexis played on) to stop using the cartoon mascot, Chief Wahoo, as Sockalexis is often credited for the teams name change from the Spiders to the Indians.

My goal for this post was to talk about how cartoon mascots offend the very thing they are representing. But because of a glitch on the MPBN website I can't post a link to Anne's story...or even listen to it again. How frustrating! My Mac won't open up the movie file and for some reason the link to listen to it online is broken. This has happened several times and it makes me mad and sad. Get with the program MPBN!

Anyway. The Penobscot Nation (and other tribes I'm sure) are offended over Chief Wahoo. Is it his name? His toothy grin? What about other mascots?

Is the Baltimore Oriole upset at his huge beak and man hands?

Or the Milwaukee Brewer? That Arian moustache is AWFUL!

And the San Diego Padres...that Swinging Friar has a terrible double chin.

I guess what I'm saying is that these teams aren't making FUN of the oriole, brewer, and's just for fun. I think peoples' sensitivity levels are over the top these days and there are more important things to worry about than a baseball mascot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Death at Sea...

What is going on lately on the coast of Maine? First a murder between lobstermen on Matinicus island and now a mysterious death of a kid who was clamming in Bremen.
Nineteen-year-old Ian Sanborn was found dead along the shoreline in Bremen, Maine. The Maine Warden Service says Sanborn was digging clams with a friend on Friday when he said he wanted to rest before leaving the area. The friend left, but Sanborn never returned home. His body was found Saturday afternoon, a short distance from where he was clamming in an area in Broad Cove known as Bug-Tussle. His death remains under investigation. - MPBN
It's like a crazy-awful soap opera...except people actually died for real, and wont come back in later episodes.

It's sad and tragic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Writers Roadblocks

I read a great post on The Urban Muse on how to handle writers roadblocks like what do do when a contact blows you off, you need photos to go with the article you wrote, and scheduling interviews around your day job.

Every writer hits roadblocks now and again. Sometimes it's motivation and sometimes people will literally just not call you back. It's frustrating! Susan Johnston has some great tips so be sure to check them out!

Here are some tips from me on how to work around roadblocks:

Dealing with rude people
: Kill them with kindness. The old saying rings true: you attract more with honey than you do with vinegar. If someone is so awful to interview or work with, make a mental note to not work with or interview them next time. If they are hindering your job to get the story done drop them and move on to the next best source.

Getting photos: It's important to diversify. I have a really nice Canon digital camera to use for work. It's a big expensive one with multiple lenses. I've put time in to learn how to take photos with it...nothing crazy artsy but I've learned how to work with the depth of focus and such. I take photos on every story I write. I also carry around a small Canon that fits in my purse. You never know what you're going to see so it's important for journalists to have a camera on them whenever possible in the world of blogging.

Conducting interviews during your regular job: This can be tricky depending on what your day job is. Regardless, everyone gets a lunch break so plan on interviewing during lunch. If I have a limited amount of time to talk to someone I usually send them some questions via email so they know what I would like to ask them. You can veer off of this list as much as you need to, but having bulleted questions that your interviewee is prepared to answer is a great way to keep it short.

Do you have any tips and tricks? Share!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cankle

You slim-ankled folks out there probably don't know what a cankle is. Damn you! The cankle gets its name from "Calf-Ankle" meaning the non-definition of calf to ankle or fat ankle. Unfortunately it's not yet dictionary approved so here is a drawing to help your imagination along...

Note the fact that the ankle bone appears hidden. The cankle is a problem, but not only for today's woman. In Greek mythology Ino, the mortal queen of Thebes, was known for her slim ankles and flaunted them amongst the Greek peasants who all wept bitterly over their cankles. (Ok, I made that last part up but Ino really was known for her slim ankles...)

My sister and I suffer from cankles. We can't wear shoes that strap around our tree-trunk-cankles and we are sad about it. My friend in high school actually told me that it looked like God took rulers and drew my legs. Sheesh. We mostly lament about our lack of ladylike limbs to each other and other people who suffer from cankle-ism. But lo and behold today's Wall Street Journal actually had a STORY about cankles and how people in such far flung places as New Jersey are actually trying to exercise them away.
Prairie Rutledge, the 30-year-old owner of an online surf shop in Toms River, N.J., wanted to be able to wear high heels this summer, with straps that lace around the ankle, so she signed up for kickboxing and circuit training to bulk up her calves and minimize her stocky ankles. "I just bought a jean skirt," she says. "Last summer, it would have been jeans."

Cankles may not respond to diet and exercise. "People profess you can cure it or get rid of it, but that's highly questionable," says Ethel Frese, an exercise physiology professor at St. Louis University. "You can't just spot-reduce" fat deposits, she says. - WSJ
How smart of American gyms and fitness centers to prey on us cankled people in this way. We'll buy into it because WHO wants cankles? NO ONE!

While I hate my cankles, I'm a long way off from plastic surgery. If I had that kind of money I'd do something resourceful and pay off some of my college loans or get liposuction or something. But still, it's nice to know that there are other cankled freaks out there and they are doing something about it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Official! Merriam-Webster says so...

New words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year....

Acai: a small dark purple fleshy berrylike fruit of a tall slender palm (Euterpe oleracea) of tropical Central and South America that is often used in beverages

Carbon Footprint: the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically : the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period

Flash Mob: a group of people summoned (as by e-mail or text message) to a designated location at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing

: one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy

Locavore: one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible

Memory Foam
: a dense polyurethane foam that becomes more pliable when in contact with heat

: popular music of Puerto Rican origin that combines rap with Caribbean rhythms

Staycation: a vacation spent at home or nearby

: a blog that contains video material

: an interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee's mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning

: an episode especially of a TV show that may or may not have been telecast but can be viewed at a Web site

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Lobotomy by Howard Dully

Lobotomies are gross. Why any doctor thought that sticking a steel rod through someone's eyes and scrambling up the front of their brain was a GOOD idea disgusts me. In the heyday of the lobotomy -- the 1960s -- there was so much that doctors and scientists didn't know about the brain that the thought that a lobotomy was actually practiced scares the beejeesus out of me. But it happened.

Howard Dully got a lobotomy in 1960 at age 12. The reason? His stepmom didn't like him. I'm not joking. He didn't have a mental illness. Therapists inside the mental institutions he was placed into (so he didn't have to live at home) knew he was a normal person with no need to be there. Back then there was no where else for him to go.

What angers me the most about his story is that his dad didn't do anything to stop it. He chose to stay married to his wife rather than stick up for his son. They ended up getting divorced when she decided it was the family dog or her. Mr. Dully chose the family dog.

Howard's story was told on NPR. You can check it out here. Check out the book, too. It's an easy read and gives you a glimpse into the lobotomy and the crazy Dr. Freeman who performed the surgery.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

I picked up this book with my weekly Borders coupon. Seriously, if you like to own books and want to save money, sign up with Borders to get one of those nifty cards and email alerts for coupons galore.

Stories about China have always fascinated me. I am a big Amy Tan fan. I had never read anything by Lisa See and decided with my great savings to give her a chance. This story has A LOT to it. There is so much going on! A war, lost fortunes, immigration, paper sons, dead babies, fashionable clothes, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, costumes, movies, and the list goes on and on and on. It wasn't hard to keep track of, just so much information jam packed into these two girls' lives.

See and Tan can't be compared in my mind. I have such a crush on Amy Tan that it's nto fair to Lisa See. I wished See wrote more about the relationship between May and the daughter she gave up to her sister, Pearl and how May really felt about being married off to an invalid 14-year-old. The ending also made me roll my eyes. You know how you go to the movies these days and the ending sets you up for a sequel? I don't know about you but I really hate that. This book ended in a climax when it should have been neatly tied up and delivered to the reader in a nice red bow. I hate when things are left unresolved...especially a 300 or so paged book I have spent my entire summer vacation reading. I wont give the ending away...but if you read it be prepared to be let down.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Blog

As my company is going through a redesign of our website, I've been checking out the sites of other Maine publications to see how they handle online content -- mainly blogs. One I read frequently is Media Mutt on the Down East Magazine website. I like that Al Diamon keeps an eye out on Maine media and the ethical dilemmas, shoddy reporting, and hirings and firings. And he posts frequently -- because that's what you do when you have a blog.

Frequency is key. Other blogs on Down East's site are hardly frequent. Take Paul Doiron's Biblioblog. There are only two posts -- one in June of 2007 and the other in January of 2008. A book blog is a great idea...but this one is not working. They either need someone to pick it up and run with it or delete it from the site. It's sort of embarrassing.

Down East has a running list of their blogs on the left hand side of their site. It looks impressive...until you click on them and you realize they are not maintained. I took a look at the first few blogs in the list and this is what I found:

Ask a Local: hasn't been updated since 2/2009
Berth of Cool: hasn't been updated since 10/2008
Chocolatists Travel Log: hasn't been updated since 5/2009
Daicey Days: page doesn't exist
From Tap to Table: hasn't been updated since 3/2009

Why have all these blogs with no current content? Not only is it a disservice to their readers but it makes them look lazy. If you aren't going to maintain your blog, take it offline.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Multimedia Journalist

I was reading this story about Willard Beach in Portland this morning and noticed something I hadn't seen before. Underneath the title of the piece is says:

Posted by: Jason Wheeler, Multimedia Journalist.

Hmmm. Multimedia Journalist? Is that even different than a regular ol' journalist these days? I'm assuming Wheeler not only writes stories like a "regular" journalist but that he posts them on the website, perhaps takes photos (though I didn't see one by him on the site), and maybe even posts video on the site...though I didn't see any of that either.

If I went by that definition I guess I'd be a multimedia journalist, too. In fact, I think most journalists I know would be classified as the same -- so I find it kind of funny that a new professional title has been created to attest to our 21st century job duties.

I'm sure most people didn't even notice Wheeler's title, but as a journalist myself it struck me. What AM I really? When people ask me what I do for a living I rarely say that I am a journalist. I usually say I write and edit for a magazine. But I also take photographs, blog, keep up the magazine's presence on Twitter and Facebook, conduct interviews, proofread, post stories to our website, edit photos in photoshop, help create ads, manage our editorial assistant, pick up lunch on occasion, and do the dishes. Heck, I'm not a multimedia journalist...I'm a WIZARD!

What are you?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Best Kids Books Ever!

Nicholas Kristoff from The New York Times has a column today about what he considers to be the best kids books ever. Here are his top 10:

1. Charlotte's Web
2. The Hardy Boys series
3. Wind in the Willows
4. The Freddy the Pig series
5. The Alex Rider series
6. The Harry Potter series
7. Gentle Ben
8. Anne of Green Gables
9. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be
10. Little Lord Fauntleroy

Um. Ok. So Nick Kristoff is obviously in a whole different generation than me. While I appreciate the classics he has on here (who doesn't love Charlotte's Web?) I think he is really missing some crucial titles and

1. Anything by Roald Dahl. My favorites are The Witches, Matilda, George and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The BFG. Wonderful imagination and storytelling and the most creative set of characters.

2. The Little House on the Prairie Series. How could Kristoff have missed these books! I had to read the whole series when I was in 4th grade and fell in love with them. Especially Laura Ingalls. I wanted to live in a log cabin in the woods and play with a blown up pigs bladder, eat smoked meat, and run around barefoot all summer.

3. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. This book was one of my favorites growing up. I even did a 20 minute long book report presentation on it...the longest in the class. I liked it's setting, mostly, which while it takes place in Maryland off of the Chesapeake Bay was a lot like Maine.

4. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This book started my fascination with the stories of Jews during WWII. This book is about the evacuation of Jews from Denmark -- a country many of us don't think of when we look back at that time in history.

5. Holes by Louis Sachar. What a hilarious book! My friend Jill teaches this book in her 4th grade class and to this day I still like it. It was made into a pretty good movie, too, but read the book first!

What would your top five list look like?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Mimi Saw: Transformers 2

I kinda liked the first Transformers movie. I did not like the second one. Mainly because the story line was so not there. I do like watching the Transformers transform -- because I know how hard it is to make that happen during post-production. But that was about all I liked. And the queer romantic banter of "you say I love you first.." "no're the guy..." "no you, cause girls get scared when guys say it..." was so dumb and out of place that I threw up a little in my mouth when I heard it.

I did notice some product placement -- mainly the Chevy and GMC logos on the Transformers. How much money did that "sponsorship" take anyway? I can only imagine! Did it make me want to go out and buy a Chevy or a GMC? Not in the least. Actually, the two little Chevy "twin" Transformers were so ridiculous and annoying that, in my mind at least, it did more harm than good to Chevy. The "twins" were ebonics sputtering would-be-ghetto black guys that just looked completely dumb in car form. One of them even had a gold tooth! Gimme a break.

Two thumbs down!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

F as in Fat

Us Mainers are fatter than we were last year.
A new national study says both Maine adults and kids are fatter than they were in last year’s study. The Trust for America’s Health says the state has the 35th highest rate of adult obesity, and ranks 39th for ten to seventeen year olds. - MPBN
The good news? We're not the fattest state in the nation! Woo hoo! After being named the oldest and whitest I was triple crown for us!

What are the fattest states? Let me tell you!

West Virginia: Adult = 31.1% Kids = 35.5%
Alabama: Adult = 31.2% Kids = 36.1%
Mississippi (the FATEST): Adults = 32.5% Kids = 44.4%

FORTY-FOUR PERCENT?! I just had to write that out to believe it. I mean, I know it's hot out down there in the south but GOOD LORD take a walk at least!

The skinniest people live in Colorado (outdoors lovers and skiers) and Massachusetts (anorexic college kids) live.

To check out the whole F as in Fat 2009 report click here.