For this month’s boo, uh, brew review, I thought it utterly appropriate to pair a few Halloween-themed beers with a corresponding classic horror movie. Since it’s always been my ritual to spend every single day in October watching classic horror movies, I bring you the following and apologize for all the dumb puns in advance.
Shipyard: Pumpkinhead Ale
In this review, this is the only Maine beer featured and it is eagerly anticipated every September by those who love its pumpkin taste with promises of cardamom, nutmeg and clove. Lately, bartenders are trying to tinker with too much with it by including cinnamon or sugar on the rim. However, it pairs well with Pumpkinhead, the 1988 supernatural movie with a cult following that features a legendary monster who avenges anyone who was wronged. Try to stop Pumpkinhead and you become the next victim. Try to stop bartenders from putting cinnamon on the rim of your glass or your pint becomes the next victim.
Reaper Ale: Deathly Pale Ale
The fact that I get to write about beer and Johnny Depp in one sentence makes me want to do cartwheels. This beer has a very pleasing dry hop taste, which pairs nicely with Tim Burton’s classic retelling of Sleepy Hollow. It’s the reaper’s job (in this case the Headless Horseman) to collect heads and the head on this pleasing beer with its complex blend of citric fruitiness and floral overtones disappears quite nicely.
Rogue: Dead Guy Ale
A deep honey color and a rich hearty flavor pairs well with Shaun of The Dead’s apocalyptic uprising of zombies. In the movie, Shaun’s best deadbeat (ha!) friend is Ed, a couch-squatting tub who smokes pot, plays video games all day and drinks a lot of beer. In fact, much of the plot revolves around taking refuge in a pub. My kind of horror movie. You can just imagine Ed at the end of the movie (who is now a zombie) sitting on the couch playing video games as he takes a sip of this ale and groan, “GRAIIIIIIIIIIINNNS.”
She was striking, self-assured and strong when she was alive. Dead, she still wasn’t about to put up with any shenanigans either.
Her maiden name was Myrtle Sage, born sometime around 1900. “According to Myrtle’s neighbors, she had a reputation of being a showstopper when she walked in the room,” says Greg Latimer, Research Director for Mysterious Destinations, a destination travel company that allows participants to investigate local hauntings in Maine and abroad. She was likely still in her late teens when she met a successful real estate and insurance mogul in New York City named George Gascoigne and married him in 1919. She had three children and when the outbreak of polio threatened the neighborhoods of New York, the couple fled to Maine and set up house in Newcastle. Gascoigne put the house in Myrtle’s name, which was unusual at that time. When he died, that purchasing power allowed her to buy two more antique stores, one of which is now the Newcastle Publick House, the other a Thomaston gallery. She married again, some say happily this time, to her second husband, George Schroder.
Latimer has learned many fascinating tidbits about Myrtle’s life and afterlife. According to him, manifestations of Myrtle’s ire have made themselves known in dramatic ways. Four years ago, the previous owners of the Tipsy Butler B&B were discussing redecorating the rooms when a hair brush flew from the dresser across the room at one of the owner's head. Ducking, she managed to escape injury and held Myrtle responsible for the incident. Clearly, Myrtle didn’t like the woman’s choice of colors. Says Latimer, “Myrtle is also very specific about how the style of the inn is kept up and what kind of style is being maintained, so the owners have taken care to listen to whatever Myrtle seems to be reacting to and go out of their way to make it an environment that pleases her.”
The current owners of the Tipsy B&B have told Latimer of other incidents, most of which tend to revolve around Myrtle’s issues with alcohol. As the story goes, Myrtle was not only a “partier” in her day as a young woman raised in the early 1920s, but she was also on the receiving end of alcoholic domestic abuse. As the current owners maintain, there will be times when bottles of wine, spirits or individual drinks will mysteriously upend themselves and crash to the floor without anyone around.
The staff at Newcastle Publick House also maintains that Myrtle regularly haunts their tavern, particularly their basement.
“The manifestations there have been a bit more extreme,” says Latimer. “At one point, they believe she took an entire, heavy stainless steel shelf and knocked it over, crashing hundreds of dollars of expensive liquor to the floor. This freestanding, commercial restaurant shelf was solid, about five shelves high. I personally went over and tried to move it and it was too heavy,” he recounts.
According to Latimer: “There are also a number or employees who refuse to go down into the basement because they feel a presence. Recently, an employee who came on board there hadn’t even known of Myrtle when she went downstairs. She came back up out of the basement visibly shaken and said she was never going back down there again. She didn’t want to talk about why.”
Mysterious Destinations is an offshoot of Midcoast’s Red Cloak Haunted History Tours started five years ago by educator Sally Lobkowicz, who directs both businesses and hosts special haunted tours of Camden, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Boothbay Harbor and Bath. Both tours focus on areas where the history and sightings of the paranormal are rich.
Coming up on Saturday, Oct. 29 and Monday, Oct 31, participants of the “Visiting Myrtle Tour” will dine at Newcastle Publick House and conduct a paranormal exploration with investigative equipment of the basement area, then retire to the Tipsy Butler B&B where the owners will give a first-hand account of their experiences with Myrtle’s life, death and continued presence. After that, participants will be allowed an additional paranormal exploration of the entire house. Each participant will sleep in a room with an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector.
The paranormal detection equipment they'll use includes electromagnetic field detectors (EMF devices), video and still cameras, electric voice phenomenon (EVP) recorders, and temperature gauges. Since of evidence of paranormal activities has been caught in these establishments on several Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, everyone is hoping to find more on these particularly charged nights.
“We go through a very careful process with photographic evidence,” says Latimer, a former Los Angeles area police evidence reporter/photographer. “Because of my former line of work, I look over the photos very carefully. There’s some I’ve been looking at for several months are of possible paranormal activity, yet, as I am still determining their veracity. We don’t claim to be paranormal experts or investigators, but we investigate and learn from manifestations that occur around here."
As for the woman whose forceful presence might make itself known?
“This is speculation obviously, but based on what I’ve learned about Myrtle, I feel that it was very important to her that things be just so, at her house and at her antique stores,” says Latimer. “And some part of Myrtle might be staying behind to make sure that her wishes are followed.”
For more photos and evidence on Myrtle, the Tipsy Butler B&B and Newcastle Publick House visit mysteriousdestinations.com or redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com.
Christine and George Scott are the co-owners of the Costume Shop, next to Floral Creations & Gifts, which they also own, in Belfast. This is the place to shop locally to get anything you need for a Halloween costume from wigs to accessories to full body costumes. They say their bestsellers for men are pirate costumes and bestsellers for women are sexy police officer costumes. (Seriously ladies? Does everything have to be tramped up for Halloween?) For little kids, the undead "Little Rascals" mask sells the best; for boys the Ninja costume is the winner; and for girls, the witch costume is the most popular.
When the season for their flower shop mostly winds down in September, they keep business going year round with the Costume Shop. Cancer patients often come in to buy something from their extensive wig collection; Mystery Dinner participants come in for specific attire; theater folks stop in for props and little girls who want fairy wings and costumes for birthdays can find whatever they need here.
Here are three costumes the Costume Shop carries and the story behind them...
Freak-N-Monster Creature Reacher
The upside: So detailed, it's likely to win contests.
The downside: The mask is a little top heavy; wear a bike helmet underneath.
Hell Hound Wolf
The upside: It'll scare the crap out of anyone in your path.
The downside: Not exactly a chick-magnet costume.
Orangutan (modeled by Christine)
The upside: Allows you to get away with stupid behavior at parties.
The downside: Expect people to pretend to pick bugs off you all night.
Heidi Vanorse won the "How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine" photo contest and is our Spotlight winner this month. Born and raised in Rockland, she is a graduate of Rockland District High School and Thomas College in Waterville. She spent 15 years in banking prior to purchasing the Loyal Biscuit Company. She and her husband, Joel, live in Rockland with their four dogs, Buffy, Izzy, Fenway and Chuck.
Q: What inspired you to open a cat and dog boutique in Maine and what is the magic sauce that makes it hip?
A: We actually purchased the Loyal Biscuit Co. in January 2010, and since then have turned it into this amazing store. Actually, it is now two stores with our new location in Belfast. I think the magic sauce that makes us hip is the fun atmosphere our store provides. Since purchasing The Biscuit, we have added a more fun, community-based atmosphere, something the store was severely lacking when we took over. Between the store dogs, Chuck and Fenway, and all of our customers' dogs, you are bound to run into a dog or two when you visit. Add to that the fun personalities and awesome customer service that Mel, April and I provide, coming to the Biscuit is always a fun and friendly experience.
Q: What were your former jobs before this and is this the dream store you always imagined opening?
A: I never ever really imagined myself owning a business, let alone a pet supply boutique. I started in banking the day after I graduated from college and really thought that was what I would always be doing. One night in December 2009, my husband and I were having a totally random conversation and I said, 'I bet it would be fun to own the Loyal Biscuit.' He encouraged me to talk to the former owner and unbeknownst to us, the store was actually for sale! Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Less than a month later, we were the owners of the Loyal Biscuit and have been going dog-crazy ever since!
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your business?
A: Well, playing with puppies is always fun, but I would have to say the most rewarding part of the business is when you help improve someone's life, either for dog or owner. We have had many success stories of dogs who've had major itches, ear infections, hot spots, or are fussy eaters, etc. and by finding the right diet, their lives have greatly improved. There is nothing better than an owner coming in and thanking you for helping their dog or cat lead a better life. The other aspect I find truly rewarding are the relationships I have formed with our customers. I always get hugs from my customers when I haven't seen them in a while - where else would customers and the store owner hug? Our customers really are like family!
Q: You offer a "Self Serve Dog Wash" which is kinda funny anyway, but then you've enacted an "Important Skunk Policy" to go with it. Did you have to enforce this policy after learning the hard way?
A: Thank goodness, no! We have been skunked before at our house and it is not fun. We researched many other self-serve dog wash operations in the country before opening ours and that seemed to be something that was pretty consistent with all of them. Skunk odor is just so strong and nasty and frankly, a water bath just doesn't do anything to remove the oils that the spray contains. The hydrogen peroxide recipe that is on our website works really well, as does the Nature's Miracle Skunk Remover we sell. I always keep a bottle of that at home, because it never fails. They get sprayed at night and the last thing you want to do is have to run to the grocery store to get supplies!
Q: On top of expanding your business to Belfast, you've invented an entire treat line for dogs (all gluten free, ha!). Tell us what goes into these treats and where you locally source your ingredients.
A: April Thibodeau and I created the Loyal Biscuit Treat Company this summer. Currently we have original, which contains anise seed, and we just released Peanut Butter this week. We hope to add to the line with other holiday and seasonal flavors, like gingerbread, blueberry and pumpkin. Our treats are 100 percent organic and we try and source as many ingredients as possible from Maine, such as Non-GMO organic cold-pressed canola oil from Maine Natural Oils in Presque Isle and organic oat and brown rice flours from Fiddler's Green Farm in Belfast. Our treats are wheat, corn and soy free and come in a fantastic tin that can be reused for refills. And since our refills come in a biodegradable and compostable bag, we are excited to see so many customers coming back to refill their tins with not only a Maine made product, but one that is so environmentally friendly.
Q: To inspire others, why is Midcoast Maine a great place to open a small business in your opinion?
A: For me, I love owning a business in Midcoast Maine. The close-knit community and support our customers provide is amazing. There isn't any other place besides Maine where I would like to own a business. One of the things we love to do is support the local animal community in any way that we can and our customers have always participated in all of our events, from our nail-clipping clinics and giving tree at Christmas to our Pints for Paws event, which we are hosted again with Trackside on Oct. 24. The people of Midcoast Maine are the most caring and giving people I know!
The winner of the “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine” photo contest gets The White Hot Spotlight on The Killer Convo as a way to profile everyday people and their creative passions.
The cover image shows the poppy, the logo for Hypnozine, first of one.
Rockport artist Andrew Mc Kenzie discusses his latest illustrated novel titled Hypnozine, which is described as: ”A coming of age epic, vibrating with the hormonal fury of sin, redemption, mutation, and obsession.”
Hypnozine is a serialized illustrated novel co-created by West Coast writer, Jason Squamata and Andrew Mc Kenzie, a Maine-based graphic artist. Mc Kenzie was born in Rockport and received his B.A. from Emerson College in theater studies. While in Boston, he cultivated a relationship with a fraternal gang of nomadic artists, writers and designers, a relationship that continues to this day and remains the primary influence on his work. After college, he spent five years working in Asia, and has now settled back in his home town, working out of the West Street Heritage, his design studio.
Hypnozine is not like any indie comic you’ve seen lately. Subversive with an unreliable narrator combining the surrealism of Zippy the Pinhead, the mock zeal of the Church of the SubGenius and black-and-white seizure-inducing illustrations, this isn’t an escapist comic — it’s dense reading. Like the first paragraph that sets off Hypnozine, you have to be in the right frame of mind to absorb the narrative. It’s as if the words themselves are swinging back and forth across your eyes, attempting to simulate the kind of drug-induced dysphoria that the characters in Hypnozine experience by ingesting a mind-altering 1960s drug. Here, as the illustrator, Mc Kenzie tells more of the story.
Q: You are the art side of this magazine. What was the concept behind the high-contrast black-white optical illustrations as it goes with the text?
I first started working on Hypnozine about six years ago while living in Taiwan. I had the original concept for a comic that was filled with not just great story content, but all of these amazing icons and images. I wanted to add to and build off of what my other creative partners had started. I slapped those pages down on the drafting table and traced them out on vellum, then threw those tracings on the overhead projector and mixed them with transparencies of some of my favorite black and white photos and my technical drawings and blue prints. The style really comes from a compilation of my love of OP art from artists such as Bridgett Riley, my love of the “Mod” aesthetics and what I was being exposed to for Taiwanese inking. I wanted the art and design to really stand out, to have a distinctive feeling to it. In the story line, Hypnozine is a mind-altering psychedelic, but in reality it is this consuming hybrid piece of media that really does try to possess and overwhelm the reader.
Q: How do you and your writing and creative team work together in different states and how long has it taken to put these issues together?
The entire story arc takes place over 32 issues, each issue consisting of 11 images/ text pieces. The first series is completely done and all the outlining for all the remaining issues has been completed. When Jason and I started working on Hypnozine, we knew we wanted to have something well plotted. The books move fast and when the first series concludes, we get into it quick.
Jason and I have spent hundreds of hours on speaker phone. In the final steps of creating the images, I use the computer. At this point, email takes over as we work back and forth on the text and final image; probably about four times before we are finished. When the page is done, we put it online and add mixed media elements to it. For example, Jason starts working on the audio track, narrates the series and mixes music into it. It really is an indepth process, I love it.
Q: You and your partners are also working on several other concurrent projects, all of which flow around the written-illustrated graphic novels/comix. As Jason says you are a "story-telling factory." What is it about working with visionary artists and writers that is so fulfilling to you?
Nothing is ever wasted, I love the line we float between art and media, conveniently using the rules of either to help achieve our goals. It is truly satisfying to be in a group of creators who are just hungry for each other’s work.
Q: Are you ever tempted to move away from Maine to be amongst more of these creative circles? What makes you stay and how do you still stay relevant?
I went to school in Boston, worked in L.A., and lived overseas. This is the only place where things feel real. I want to be here, and there were some definite decisions made to stay and settle here. I much rather work on changing Maine, to try to get more media made here, than leave.
Q: Hypnozine’s illustrations also function as art installations, which you’ve shown in galleries independent of the writing. How do people respond to this on its own?
Different crowds give different things back. People at comic book conventions are curious about the way the images relate to the narrative and want to get in to the story. People in a gallery setting want to know more about the process and how the posters are made. My favorite comparison I have heard so far that Hypnozine was Alice in Wonderland meets the 1960s British television series, The Prisoner.
Q: How can the public get their hands on this magazine? Is it going to be printed or electronically produced?
We have done several small independent printings of the first and second books that have done well. We have the books in a couple bookstores on the West Coast, and I would like to get in some here in Maine. In addition to the paper comics, we have presented Hypnozine as a gallery poster show as well as PDF slide shows. The images have been hung along nature trails, used to decorate club spaces and even used as political illustrations. In addition, I have been approached to reproduce the images for music festivals and was asked recently to consider reformatting some of the patterning into textiles. We try and use every bit of what we have, but we are really looking for an outlet for a larger release. We have definitely gotten to a point where we have grown beyond an indie comic, and are really interested in taking that next step.
For more information visit hypnokomix.com/projects/hypnozine
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.