Friday, August 5, 2022

Author details family’s triumph over alcoholism at Windham book signing

By Ed Pierce

In a journey that took almost four years from start to finish, Ed Crockett was able to express his struggle to overcome the challenges of his father’s struggles with alcoholism in his book “The Ghosts of Walter Crockett.” On July 23, the first-time author met readers during an appearance at a book-signing event at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Windham.

Author Ed Crockett appeared at Sherman's Maine 
Coast Book Shop in Windham on July 23 to promote
his memoir "The Ghosts of Walter Crockett" about
his family's struggle to overcome their father's
alcoholism. Crockett was joined at the event by
his sister, Marie Elder of Windham.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
Crockett, a state representative from Portland and the president of Capt’n Eli’s Soda Company, published the book last fall and it recounts his struggle to emerge from a childhood of poverty and welfare as his siblings tried to stay afloat while their father was wallowing in alcoholic despair. His sister, Marie Elder of Windham, also joined Crockett at the book signing and they discussed how so many people relate to this book as it ultimately is a story of love and redemption.

“When my father passed in 2012, he was the feature obituary in the Portland Press Herald. The first line said, "Walter Crockett the biggest drunk in Portland," Crockett said. “Although that was true it was not the full story and certainly not his true legacy. Nobody knew that at the time of his death my dad had been sober for more than 30 years or that he had saved lives through Alcoholics Anonymous.”

He said that in his sobriety, the family had joked that nobody would believe the father’s story unless it was on the big screen.

“Shortly after his death I was reminiscing about my father with my teenage son, Ted, and told him Grampy's life would make a great movie,” Crockett said. ‘He looked at me, the wisdom of a teenager, and said, "Dad, it will never happen unless you do it.’ Those two moments prompted me to start writing.”

Crockett said that putting his family’s story into words helped release him from a troubled past.

“Writing this book freed burdens that I didn't even know existed,” he said. “It was very cathartic. Sharing my feelings was the most challenging. I enjoy talking about my mom and dad, but myself, not so much.”

He had finished his original manuscript of “The Ghosts of Walter Crockett” in 2016 and presented it to his kids and family.

“They encouraged me to share it with friends. In 2019 one of those friends, who had published a few books, asked if he could pass it on to his publisher. I said, "Thank you," Crockett said.

According to Crockett, he started the process of telling this story by trying to write a screenplay.

“I quickly realized I didn't know what I was doing and decided to write down what was in my head chronologically, listing key moments in our lives that intertwined then expanding on those moments,” he said. “It was done on weeknights and weekends. I was working full-time plus trying to get our soda business flourishing.”

Since it’s publication, the feedback Crocket has received about his book has been tremendous.

“It’s been 100 percent appreciative and encouraging,” he said. “It's been incredibly humbling and heartwarming. Everyone has a story. The things my family dealt with are very common. How relatable it is, is the most frequent comment.”

Through his book which is available at Sherman’s, Crockett said he’d like everyone to know that we all have people in our lives that are in a bad place.

“There is always hope. Let's not ever give up on each other,” he said. “The reward is priceless.”

Crockett’s family supports his writing the book and through its publication, something else interesting has happened.

“I've met three first cousins that I didn't even know existed. That has been really cool,” he said.

Currently Crockett is promoting the book and says although he doesn’t have any plans to write another, he does have some ideas percolating.

He said now that the book has been published and you’ve had some time to reflect on the entire publishing process, he’s very happy with the result.

“My editor was extremely helpful organizing the story and improving its flow,” Crockett said. “Being a memoir there wasn't any content to change, but there were healthy discussions on what rose to the top due to space and size.” <

Friday, July 29, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Nope’ will leave you unsure

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 2 hours, 10 min


The first thing that appears on the screen is this verse:

“I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.” – Nahum 3:6

Shrouded in a bit of secrecy until it’s release, writer/director Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is the story of the Haywood Hollywood Horse Trainers, the only African American-owned horse trainers in Hollywood and some weird occurrences that happen at their ranch.

After watching the first 30 or so minutes of this movie, I drew a conclusion that I’m still not sure is correct. While the ending left me a little confused, this is still a very good, sometimes very startling movie.

“Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Keith David, Brandon Perea, Steven Yeun, Wrenn Schmidt, Michael Wincott and Sophia Coto.

Did you know the first assembly of photographs to create a motion picture was a two second clip of an African American man on a horse? And that man was Emerald Haywood’s great, great, great grandfather.

OJ (Kaluuya) is out on the ranch with his dad (David) and all of a sudden, objects begin rapidly falling from the sky and kill OJ’s dad.

After a missed opportunity to feature a horse in a movie, OJ and his sister, Emerald (Palmer), meet with Ricky Park (Yeun) who owns an amusement park called Jupiter’s Claim. Park was a child actor on a 1990s sitcom called “Gordie’s Home” where a chimp infamously went on a 6 minute, 13 second killing spree.

Back at the ranch, OJ sees lights flickering and a screeching sound that makes a horse escape its pen. There is something in the sky.

Emerald and OJ are concerned so they buy several outdoor cameras to monitor the sky. They meet Angel (Perea), a somewhat arrogant tech installer and a bit of a conspiracy theorist.

After OJ sees something in the sky again, he contacts a Hollywood producer, Antlers Holst (Wincott) about the possibly of making a documentary.

OJ and Emerald promise the impossible.

In a nightly show Park does at Jupiter’s Claim, he professes to have seen a flying saucer every night at 6:13 p.m. Park calls them “The Viewers.” Some weird stuff happens and results in several disappearances.

Another event in which many things are zooming from the sky to the Earth and this time it’s a little gorier. Emerald, OJ and Angel must run for their lives.

“Nope” is somewhat allusive in plot. So much so that three quarters of the way through the first time I saw it, a thunderstorm knocked out the power in the theater and the movie stopped very abruptly in a key point and I figured this was part of the movie - until the screen never came back on.

A lot happens and I still have not put together how, or if, it all fits together. Not knowing adds to the fright. Why was that shoe standing straight up on it’s heal?

The plot moves quickly and kept me wanting to know more. I might have to see it a third time.

Side note: there is a bit of mild gore, violence as well as language in this movie.

Two cowboy hats up.

Now playing in theaters. <

Friday, July 22, 2022

Windham Lions host ‘Touch-A-Truck’ for families Saturday

By Ed Pierce

Kids of all ages will be able to put their imagination into gear this Saturday as a free “Touch-A-Truck” event arrives in Windham.

Sponsored by the Windham Lions Club, the “Touch-a-Truck” event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23 in the parking lot behind Hannaford on Route 302 in North Windham. Participants should use Franklin Drive to access the event, organizers say.

The Windham Lions Club will host a free 'Touch-A-Truck'
event for all ages from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23
in the parking lot behind Hannaford in North Windham.
The goal of the event is to create awareness for the club
and will feature 11 large vehicles. COURTESY PHOTO
Participants will be able to climb into the cab of a fire truck, a police car, explore a land excavator, a dump truck and more. There will be a total of 11 large vehicles from throughout the community for kids to see up close and honk the horn.

The event has been in the planning stages for months by Windham Lions Club members.

“Our club members started talking about Touch-A-Truck in the spring of 2021 and had initially considered holding it that November,” said Evelyn Brissette, Windham Lions Club president, “After more discussion and being concerned about the weather we decided to go with a summer of 2022 event instead. We set a date and set up a committee consisting of Gene Tanguay, Ron Soucy, Camille Swander, Cathy Fortier and I to work on this event.”

The “Touch-A-Truck” event provides a hands-on educational community event to see and touch the trucks and machinery used in the community and to meet the men and women who operate these machines. Participating vehicles will be displayed in a safe, supervised environment and it’s the perfect venue for exploring the machinery while learning about the people who build, protect and serve Windham.

The idea for hosting “Touch-A-Truck” for the Lions Club came from an idea Brissette had.

“I had done some research online and it seemed like Touch-A-Truck would be a fun way to interact with kids and people in our community,” she said. “We also want our community to be aware that the Windham Lions Club does exist and with everyone’s help we can make life a lot brighter for those less fortunate. We thought 2021 might be a hard year for many families and decided to start the Windham Adopt-A-Family program. It appears 2022 will be more challenging than ever.”

Brissette said she believes that when people take an interest in their own community, and work together for a cause, they can make a difference.

“Our Club members discussed it and decided to go with it. We did not realize upfront what a big undertaking Touch-A-Truck would be for our older, small group. We hope other caring people from our community, that visit our event on Saturday, might be inclined to give a little of their time and join us. We need more members.”

There is no admission charge to attend “Touch-A-Truck” and Brissette said that Poland Springs has donated 320 bottles of water for the event,

“BJs and others donated snacks, ice and supplies. We hope by giving these items out for free that the public will feel generous in making cash donations for our Windham Adopt-A-Family Christmas program,” Brissette said.

There will also be balloon entertainers and an ice cream truck for those who wish to purchase frozen treats.

According to Brissette, last year the Windham Lions Club chose to help struggling families in need at Christmas and the program was such a success, they plan on continuing that effort in 2022.

“We wanted to help out because we were aware that many Windham families were struggling to give their children the Christmas they had been hoping to have,” she said. “I contacted the Windham Veteran’s Center and the Windham Food Pantry. Our club was looking for deserving families that needed assistance. Six families were referred to us and we were told what their needs were.”

One of the families they helped was a senior veteran and his wife who needed assistance with an unhealthy environmental issue. The other five families had children attending school from the primary grades to high school.

“We purchased the clothing that was requested as well as toys for the younger ones,” Brissette said. “Through cards, notes, and the pictures that the children actually drew, we were told that each of the families had a wonderful Christmas. It is our hope that we can adopt more than six families this year. Again, it will all depend on our community’s generosity.

All cash profits from “Touch-A-Truck,” the club’s craft event in October, and the cash donated at their annual “Stuff-the-Bus” event in November will go to the Windham Adopt-A-Family program, Brissette said.

Since its inception, the Windham Lions Club has been instrumental in the community, supporting a variety of causes and issues affecting the lives of residents.

Some of those include purchasing and manning Windham’s first rescue van in 1968; donations to the Windham Public Library; helping with expenses related to eye exams and eyeglass when they meet the Lions Club criteria; assisting with expenses related to hearing tests and hearing aids when they meet the Lions Club criteria; conducting RSU 14 eye screening with more than 5,000 students screened so far; sponsoring the “Student of the Month” program; Speakout competitions; Breakfast with Santa; Stuff-the-Bus with more than 10,000 pounds of food collected for those in need; supporting the Windham Veteran’s Center; and collecting used eye glasses and hearing aids.

Brissette said the Lions Club is grateful to Windham Mall owner Jay Wise, truck company and business participants, and Windham Public agencies for their help with the “Touch-A-Truck” event.

“We want our neighbors to realize that our group does exist and that we are doing more than they even realize,” she said. “We also want our neighbors to know that through their generosity we can help to make a nicer Christmas possible for the families we are able to adopt this year. We can’t take care of everyone’s problems, but we will do everything we can with our community’s support.” <


Friday, July 15, 2022

Chamber’s ‘Christmas in July’ Boat Parade sets sail next weekend

By Ed Pierce

It’s often said that Christmas is the time of year when all’s right with the world and people go out of their way to help one another. But in the Lakes Region, there is a way to keep the Christmas spirit alive despite what the calendar may say.

Participants have fun during last year's 'Christmas in July'
Boat Parade on Brandy Pond in Naples. The 3rd Annual
'Christmas in July' Boat Parade will start about 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 in Naples. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Naples Marine Safety Patrol have scheduled the 3rd Annual Christmas in July Boat Parade for 8:15 p.m. Saturday, July 23 on Brandy Pond, and Long Lake in Naples. If past events are any indication of its popularity, this is one summer event that even ol’ Santa himself may come out of hibernation early to attend.

The more boats that decorate and participate this year, the better, says Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

“Have a boat? Decorate it, register it at the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber website, and come join the parade on Brandy Pond,” Mullins said. “There will be prizes awarded for the top-three best decorated boats, as determined by the Naples Board of Selectpersons.”

The annual parade is a Naples Marine Safety Patrol-created event that was first conducted in 2020 with a total of 65 boats participating.

“Naples Christmas in July Boat Parade was started in 2020 by Mark Maroon and Jim Stark of the Naples Marine Patrol as a way to get folks safely out and having fun in the midst of COVID-19,” said Robin Mullins, Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “They were assisted by community volunteer Joanne Jordan.”

Mullins said that given that volunteers only worked on the event for about three weeks prior to the parade, the turnout of boats was amazing considering pandemic restrictions of the time.

“Boats, captains and the crews were all decked out for the holidays,” Mullins said. “The town selectpersons judged the winning boats, as prizes were given for the best decorated watercraft.”

Last year the number of boats increased significantly, and the event is expected to establish a new record in 2022 for the number of boats and participants.

Mullins said those without boats can find something of interest at the festive parade.

“Don’t have a boat? No worries, come have dinner at one of the sponsor restaurants, such as Brother Flecker’s, Freedom CafĂ©, or Gary’s Olde Town Tavern, or do a little shopping at sponsor Causeway Gifts,” she said. “Whatever you do pre-parade, make sure you find a nice viewing spot as the parade makes it way from Brandy Pond onto Long Lake and back starting at around 8:30 p.m.”

She thanked the event’s other Captain’s Club sponsors for their help to make this year’s Christmas in July Boat Parade one of the best ever, including Long Lake Marina, Naples Marina, and Moose Landing Marina, which sponsored last year’s best decorated marina boat.

According to Mullins, the chamber is pleased to partner with Naples in bringing this popular event to the town once again in 2022.

“Our hope is to make it a destination event for Naples,” she said.

“Naples is an important part of the Sebago Lakes Region, and like all of our eight towns including Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham, we want to support them in any way we can.”

To participate in this year’s boat parade, all boats must be registered prior to the event. Registration is available online at https://www.sebagolakeschamber.com/event/christmas-in-july-boat-parade/

“Our hope is to make it a destination event for Naples. Of course, we said, yes. Naples is an important part of the Sebago Lakes Region, and like all of our eight towns including Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham, we want to support them in any way we can.”

To participate in this year’s boat parade, all boats must be registered prior to the event. Registration is available online at https://www.sebagolakeschamber.com/event/christmas-in-july-boat-parade/

“Once again we hope boats come all decked out with tons of holiday decorations,” Mullins said. “There will be prizes for the three top decorated boats, once again voted on by town selectpersons.”

She said that the town of Naples is encouraging nearby businesses and residents of Brandy Pond and the lower end of Long Lake to decorate docks, homes, and waterfront properties to show their solidarity with the “Christmas in July” spirit.

Event organizers say they are grateful for all sponsors for this year’s parade, which has helped to pay for lighted buoys for the event and prizes for parade participants.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce represents the Lakes Region towns of Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham, and it is one of the most active chambers in the entire state of Maine. The chamber is made up of business members ranging from young entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops to the largest employers in the area. <

Movie Review: Paramount+’s ‘Jerry & Marge Go Large’ big-ticket fun with heart

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes


Jerry Selbee has recently retired from working at Kellogg’s for many years. He’s a bit restless and somewhat bored, unsure of what to do with himself now, until he figures out a loophole in a state lottery game called Winfall.

He first wins $15,000 and from there discovers how he can win more and more and more money.

After their marriage has become maybe a little unadventurous, this becomes something he and his wife, Marge, do together - and the payoffs grow so much, that they involve their small town of Evart, Michigan.

Selbee gives back to make his town a better place for everyone. All is going great until a Harvard student figures out the same loophole and threatens to ruin Selbee’s life if he doesn’t back out.

This winning movie stars Bryan Cranston, Annette Bening, Larry Wilmore, Rainn Wilson, Jake McDorman, Anna Camp, Devyn McDowell, Uly Schlesinger, Cheech Manohar, Tracie Thoms and Lindsay Rootsare.

In the small town of Evart, Michigan, Jerry Selbee (Cranston), has just retired after 42 years. His children (McDorman and Camp) buy him a fishing boat and he asks them if he likes fishing.

Selbee is now kind of lost. He and his wife Marge (Bening) also have drifted apart and don’t do as many things together anymore.

He has always been really good with numbers and on a visit to see his accountant, Steve (Wilmore) is told to take a risk with his money.

Selbee is hesitant of this at first, but after hearing about a state lottery game called Winfall, he does the math and discovers a loophole guaranteed to pay out.

At first, he keeps this from his wife, but after he wins $15,000, tells her and she gets very excited. They become professional lottery players. At least that’s what they tell the convenience store clerk (Wilson). The more you bet, the better your odds are of winning.

As the money starts to really pile up and Selbee has a solid understanding of how this loophole works, he goes to Steve and wants to start a corporation to get the community involved. He does so and much of those winnings are fed back into the town, to restart the Jazz Fest that the town loves, but hasn’t happened in a while.

“You brought this town back from the dead when no one else could,” said Steve later in the movie. “You see us as more than just numbers.”

Meanwhile, Tyler (Schlesinger) is a Harvard student working on a research project. He discovers the same loophole Selbee did but isn’t interested in making anyone rich but himself.

Tyler threatens Selbee, but while Selbee is intimidated at first, he – well, I really shouldn’t say anything else.

After all was said and done, Jerry and Marge Selbee had won a total of $27 million.

This is a sweet, funny movie inspired by real-life story. It features what I would consider an all-star cast. It is a heart-warming story about giving back and the importance of family, friends and community.

Two lottery tickets up.

Available to stream on Paramount+. <

Friday, July 8, 2022

St. Anthony of Padua Festival returning to Windham

A special Mass in honor of their patron saint, a procession and an outdoor festival will draw parishioners and community members to Windham on July 15 and July 16 for the second annual St. Anthony of Padua Festival.

The St. Anthony of Padua Festival is returning on July 15
and July 16 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church
at 919 Roosevelt Trail, Windham. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
The festival, which will be held on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 919 Roosevelt Trail, was initially held last summer to celebrate the formation of St. Anthony of Padua Parish (Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Windham, St. Anne Church in Gorham, St. Anthony of Padua Church in Westbrook, Our Lady of Sebago Chapel in East Sebago).

It was so heavily attended and successful that parish leadership decided to make it an annual occurrence, church officials said.

“It’s wonderful meeting everybody from the other churches on a more personal, casual level,” said Carol Kennie, one of the festival organizers. “It’s amazing the talent, the interest, and the enthusiasm that we have from everyone.”

A special Mass honoring St. Anthony followed by a procession to the St. Anthony Shrine will be held on Friday, July 15, at 6 p.m.

The festival itself will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 16, followed by a Mass at 4 p.m. and a festival-closing dinner at 5 p.m. Festival activities will feature live music; booths with handmade items, jewelry and books; a silent auction with items such as bicycles, kayaks and a homemade quilt; a yard sale; raffles; and lots of food, including Luigi’s Italian Foods, homemade meatball sandwiches, clam cakes, fried dough, hamburgers and hotdogs, and pizza.

Participants can also purchase a S’mores kit and roast them over a fire pit, and after the 4 p.m. Mass, the Knights of Columbus will host a chicken barbecue dinner.

Everyone is welcome to attend all or any part of the weekend’s schedule.

For more information, contact St. Anthony of Padua Parish at 207-857-0490 or send an email to stanthonys@portlanddiocese.org, or visit www.stanthonysparish.org. <

Friday, July 1, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Jurassic World Dominion,’ solid movie, big action

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours, 27 minutes


In this sixth installment to the “Jurassic Park” storyline, it is four years after the fall of the Isla Nubar. Dinosaurs and man now co-exist.

Biosyn Genetics are dedicated to using dinosaurs to teach us more about the human race. They have a dinosaur sanctuary in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains.

Biosyn’s intentions are less than pure, and CEO Lewis Dodgson creates more trouble than solutions in this action-packed dinosaur adventure.

“Jurassic World: Dominion” stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, and Justice Smith.

Claire Dearing (Howard) and Owen Grady (Pratt) live in a secluded cabin in the woods with Maisie Lockwood (Sermon), the cloned granddaughter of now deceased Benjamin Lockwood. They have been protecting her from Biosyn who wants to study her DNA.

A species of incredibly large locusts has shown up in a field and are threatening the human food supply. Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Dern) suspects Biosyn is the cause of this, but she needs evidence to prove it. She recruits paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Neill).

The two of them travel to Biosyn where they meet CEO Lewis Dodgson (Scott) and are reunited with chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Goldblum).

Despite working for Biosyn, Malcolm is helping Sattler and Grant get the proof they need about the locusts. Things don’t go their way in trying to get that proof.

In the meantime, Lockwood is kidnapped along with Grady’s velociraptor Blue’s child, named Beta.

Malcolm says the Doomsday Clock might be out of time.

Dr. Henry Wu (Wong) warns Dodgson that the locusts are a problem that will only get worse.

Dr. Wu would like to study Lockwood so he can fix a terrible mistake he made.

On their way to find Lockwood and Beta, Grady and Dearing discover an underground dinosaur black market.

Here there is a very action-packed scene that might have you on the edge-of-your-seat where Grady is on a dirt bike chased by several dinosaurs.

Dearing meets pilot Kayla Watts (Wise) who agrees to fly her and Grady to Biosyn. They don’t make it there on a direct flight.

Once Dodgson learns of the breach with Grant and Sattler, he fires Malcolm.

Dodgson burns the locusts to destroy the evidence. More than just the locusts catch fire.

Eventually, both groups meet: Grady, Dearing, Sattler, Malcolm, Grant and Lockwood. Now they must escape.

Everyone heads underground. Can they escape?

What about Dodgson?

This is a fun conclusion to the “Jurassic Park” storyline. I found it to be visually impressive with a lot of great dinosaur battle scenes and interaction between human and gigantic beast.

The movie is a bit on the longer side, but I thought it was relatively well-paced. Plus, there was enough intense action to keep me invested in the storyline. My only complaint were the giant locusts; I’m not a fan of really big bugs.

It was fun to see some of the original cast together onscreen for the first time since the first movie in 1993. See this one on the big screen.

Two thumbs up.

Now playing in theaters. <

Raymond Village Library becomes town department with landslide vote

By Collette Hayes

The town of Raymond voted a decisive yes giving their approval to make the Raymond Village Library officially a Raymond Municipal Department. On June 15, the residents of Raymond cast their votes 529 in favor to 122 opposed in support of the Raymond Village Library becoming a town department.

Raymond residents voted 529 to 122 on Maine Primary Day
on June 15 for the Raymond Village Library to become an
official town department. FILE PHOTO
  
The library provides a vibrant and dynamic place where the community engages in personal enrichment. People of all ages are welcome and have free access to information that promotes and inspires their educational, recreational and cultural interests.

Prior to its inception as a town department, Raymond Village Library has been an incorporated non-profit organization. Under the cooperative relationship and interaction between past Chairman of the Board Selectmen, Teresa Sadak, and Raymond Village Library Board of Trustees President, Deb Hutchinson, discussions resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding which was presented at a town meeting to see if the town would accept the library under the conditions outlined in the MOU. The presentation of the MOU at the meeting resulted in approval.

In a recent conversation with Don Willard, Raymond Town Manager, most residents of Raymond assumed that Raymond Village Library was already a town department.

“I think the results speak for themselves,” said Willard. “From the results of the vote you basically have the townspeople saying a resounding yes to we want the library to be a town department.”

As a town department, the library would be able to broaden and add additional services, programming and opportunities for people of all ages. It would give the library more depth and breadth and support.

In the past the library has been dependent on fundraising efforts. The town was part of this effort by giving the library an appropriation every year. Now Raymond will assume the cost of the operations, the salaries and the benefits for the employees and it will make the whole organization more viable and sustainable.

“The Town has worked with the library for decades and they have worked really hard to have a quality library,” said Willard. “What they had to work with, they have done a tremendous job. It’s been a private nonprofit organization for many years and now it will be a municipal department. With the town financial support, and the support of the other town departments and what they can bring to the Library, I think you will see it better than ever.

“I’m really happy about it. I think it’s the right direction for the town,” Willard said. “We now have a way as a town to support the library in a way that we didn’t have before. Although there still will be fund raising that will continue, we have other resources that can be put into play to help the library achieve some of their goals such as the further development of programming and cultural offerings. I think it is a win-win deal.”

According to Allison Griffin, Director of the Raymond Village Library, there are two major advantages to becoming a municipal department.

She said there will be financial stability. Instead of having to wait halfway through the fiscal year to see what the library’s financial situation will be from fundraising, there will now be consistent funding. Programming can be planned, and acquisitions can be made throughout the year instead of waiting to make purchases after the major fundraisers are over in December.

Consistent and reliable funding will also help to retain highly qualified library staff, Griffin said.

Another major benefit of becoming a town department will be working with the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department due to common interest and being able to provide consistent scheduled programming.

“The full-time staff members will receive health insurance which we have never been able to provide,” said Griffin. It’s difficult to retain staff without providing health care benefits. Nothing internally will change. The Board of Trustees will transition into to a fund raising “Friends” support group. The collections, the staff and the services will remain the same.” <

Friday, June 17, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Old’ not one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes

As a fan of horror movies, this has been on my “to watch” list for some time. The idea of a beach that somehow ages its visitors I found very fascinating.

But before you start streaming, while this directed by M. Night Shyamalan, I felt it was not as good as I expected it to be.

When a family arrives at the picturesque Animika Resort,  they are let in on a secret secluded beach where they and another family and a couple are dropped off for the day.

It does not take long for them to discover that there is something unusual about this beach. After a startling discovery is made, it is discovered the kids are different – they’ve grown and aged.

After time, it’s not just the kids who continue to age at a rapid rate. It becomes clear that some visitors might be sicker than initially thought. “Old” stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen and Aaron Pierre.

Guy (Bernal) and Prisca (Krieps) have been struggling in their marriage and would like to give their kids one last vacation before telling them of their possible separation.

When they arrive at this resort, kids Trent and Maddox are six and 11.

The resort manager tells them of a private beach where they can have a once in a lifetime experience.

When they and another family are dropped off at the beach, the driver tells them to call when they want to leave, or he’ll be there at 5 p.m.

It doesn’t take everyone long to figure out there is no cell service and they do not know how to leave without blacking out.

Maddox sees rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Pierre) who is waiting for a woman he came with who is swimming far out in the water.

A medical emergency occurs on the beach, and one of the members of the other family, Charles (Sewell) is a doctor.

The strange occurrences and mysterious aging are taking a toll on people’s mental faculties. Charles keeps asking what movie starred Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando.

The group soon figures out that one half hour on this beach equals one year of life.

As each member of the group tries some way to escape, bad things happen. Now everyone is aging.

There is a scene with the other mother Chrystal (Lee) where she is trapped in a cavern going after Trent (Wolff) and Maddox (McKenzie) that was a bit hard for me to watch.

Can any of them make it off the island?

This is based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Pierre Oscar-Levy and Frederik Peters. Since this was an M. Night Shyamalan movie I was waiting for the big twist. I don’t like giving away spoilers, but I will say he’s done better. This is less a horror movie and more a creepy movie as you learn details about the beach and its visitors; it’s also a little sad in parts.

One thumb up.

Available on HBO MAX and to rent. <

Friday, June 3, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers’ nostalgic fun

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “Chippendale?” Obviously, it’s cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. And maybe next those dancers who were famous for doing something, I forget what. But the third thing is probably the two crime-solving chipmunks who gained fame and (I’m assuming) fortune from their hit TV show “Rescue Rangers.”

Thirty years later, they have a new movie starring the voices of John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Kiki Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Flula Borg, Dennis Haysbert, Tress MacNeille, Seth Rogen and J.K. Simmons.

The year is 1982. Chipmunk Dale (Sandberg) is starting a new school in the middle of the third grade and he’s having trouble making friends. All that changes when he meets Chip (Mulaney) and they become inseparable.

Now it is 1990 and the two have just wrapped season three of their popular show “Rescue Rangers.” Everything is going well until Dale tells Chip he’s going to try for his own TV show. Chip expresses concern and says it could put their show in jeopardy. Dale tells Chip he’s done being second banana. Both shows are later canceled.

In present day, Chip is an insurance salesmunk. He gets a message on his landline from co-star Monterey Jack (Bana) telling him he needs help.

Monty tells Chip he owes money to the Valley Gang, or he is in danger of being bootlegged.

Monty also called Dale who has now had CGI surgery which has improved his career. Chip is not happy to see Dale. Dale tells Chip there’s talk of a “Rescue Rangers” reboot; he saw a Facebook fan page about it – and they don’t just give those away.

Chip doesn’t really want anything to do with Dale.

Monty gets kidnapped, and Captain Putty (Simmons) says it’s pretty much hopeless to find him. Chip and Dale put their differences aside and along with police officer and superfan Ellie Steckler (Layne) agree to find Monty.

They go undercover to locate Sweet Pete (Arnett), who runs the entire operation.

The two get in some trouble but must find their friend before it’s too late.

I wouldn’t normally review two kid-oriented movies back-to-back, but this is an exception.

I grew up watching “Rescue Rangers” and in the first 10 minutes of this movie I was brought back with a flood of memories from those days.

Smartly written and funny, this nostalgia-oriented “comeback” is slightly more geared toward adults who may have watched the “Rescue Rangers” growing up. That is not to say kids wouldn’t enjoy it; they would.

It is chock full of references and appearances from a variety of characters from the 1980s and 1990s; from Skeletor to Roger Rabbit to Lumiere.

Simply put, this is a fun movie. The characters have a tongue-in-cheek style humor, and it is pretty action-packed.

This is one for the entire family, whether you grew up watching Chip and Dale or are introducing a new generation to their antics and friendship.

Two “Rescue Rangers” pogs up.  Stay through the credits for more fun.

Available to stream on Disney+. <

Friday, May 20, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Bad Guys’ features family-friendly action

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

What if bad guys try to turn good? Or at least attempted to? Meet Wolf, Snake, Shark, Tarantula and Piranha; they’ve been successfully pulling heists all over the city for a while and have a room full of stolen goods and cash to prove it. These are the cards they’ve been dealt, so they may as well play them. As Wolf tells the camera in the beginning,

“We may be bad, but we’re so good at it.”

“The Bad Guys” is actioned-packed right from the start and keeps a pretty good pace throughout the movie. It stars Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh and Alex Borstein.

After the gang of Wolf (Rockwell), Snake (Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Piranha (Ramos) and Shark (Robinson) have pulled off another heist, they are celebrating in their home adorned with the many valuables they’ve stolen over the years. They appear on the news and get excited because their handywork has drawn attention.

However, their excitement drops as Governor Foxington (Beetz) says the group is unoriginal and on the decline.

Wolf wants to show her who’s on the decline by stealing the Golden Dolphin Award to be given to Professor Marmalade (Ayoade) for being an upstanding citizen.

When they try to steal the Golden Dolphin, it doesn’t go the way they want.

Police Chief Luggins (Borstein) declares it the end of the bad guys – until Professor Marmalade steps in and says they deserve a second chance.

He says he will turn them into the good guys.

Wolf goes along with this only in theory. He tells the others they should only pretend to want to turn good.

After the group goes on a heist for good to save animals from being tested on, Wolf is thanked by Governor Foxington and tells him a Wolf and Fox aren’t so different.

Is it possible Wolf really wants to turn good? What would it be if the world loved them instead of hated them?

The group plans another heist to steal a valuable meteor at Professor Marmalade’s gala, but this one also gets a little sidelined. And it looks like they’ve been framed.

After meeting the Queen of Cons, the Crimson Paw, the group turns on each other and some go their separate ways. However, that’s not the end of the story.

The way Wolf, Snake, Shark, Tarantula and Piranha worked together with each member helping to commit their part of the crime reminded me of the TV show “Leverage.”

“The Bad Guys” is fun for kids and adults. It’s action-packed, has a great soundtrack with nice messages about friendship and going from bad to good. I thought it was funny for those of any age, though not a lot of adult humor that might go over younger viewers heads. The action is solid without being overly violent and not gory or bloody.

Two diamonds up.

Make sure to stick around through the credits.

Now playing in theaters and available to rent. < 

 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Batman’ very long, but adequate

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours, 56 minutes

Gotham is crime-stricken and only getting worse. When current Gotham mayor Don Mitchell Jr. is murdered in his home, what – or who – will it take to get this city back on track?

There is already a vigilante trying to clean up the city. This retelling of the famous caped crusader is not a continuation of other Batman movies. It stands alone and starts more in the middle of Bruce Wayne’s story.

Spoiler alert: Wayne becomes an orphan after his parents are murdered. However, in this version, the antagonist is out to paint Wayne’s father, Thomas, as more of a bad guy and less of a victim.

Batman mentions in the beginning of the movie he must choose his targets carefully; it’s a big city and he can’t be everywhere all the time.

With such a long runtime, “The Batman” dragged a bit in the middle but had solid action. This movie stars Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Jayme Lawson and Peter Sarsgaard.

“I am the shadows, I am vengeance,” Batman says in the very beginning.

Another spoiler: Batman is Bruce Wayne (Pattinson). Wayne is talking with Alfred (Serkis) who wants him to attend a financial meeting. Wayne tells him he cares more about the city than maintaining his fortune or legacy.

After the mayor is murdered, Batman goes to a club where he meets the Penguin (Farrell) in order to find out who killed the mayor. Here he meets Selina Kyle (Kravitz). Later on, we learn how she is linked to mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tuturro).

Another murder occurs and clues are left behind directed at Batman.

The District Attorney makes an appearance at the governor’s memorial, courtesy of the Riddler (Dano).

Gotham residents are understandably unsettled, and police are not a fan of Batman’s vigilante work, but Commissioner Gordon (Wright) tells him he’s the only one he trusts.

Batman and Selina agree to work together to catch the Riddler. The Riddler continues to find ways to make Gotham worse, like flood it.

Batman says things will get worse before they get better. Gotham loves a comeback story.

In this version Batman is very brooding, which I found annoying. Large parts of the movie are very dark, both in subtext and physically, making it hard to see what was happening.

However, the last 30 minutes are visually excellent. I think it helps to know a bit of Batman’s backstory and the villains that terrorize Gotham, but it is not required to enjoy this movie.

It’s by no means my favorite Batman as “The Dark Knight” is hard to beat, also Michael Keaton’s version is quite good. I would recommend seeing this in the theater to get the full effect, but you could also pass on this one, as I believe there are better versions out there. I give this one bat lasso up.

Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. <

Friday, April 22, 2022

Movie Review: Netflix’s ‘Windfall’ thriller turns out to not have a lot going for it

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes

A guy is in the process of robbing a tech billionaire and just as he is about to leave, the tech billionaire and his wife come home. The guy panics and holds the couple hostage, convincing the tech billionaire to get him $500,000.

It takes a day or so for the money to arrive. In that time, the tech billionaire tries to figure out why this nobody – the tech billionaire’s words – is doing this. Did he work for one of his companies and get laid off? Why does he need this money?

This movie is billed as a thriller, crime-drama, but I found very little thrilling about it. This original Netflix movie stars Jessie Plemons, Jason Segal, Lily Collins and Omar Leyva.

The character’s identities are so unimportant that the characters don’t have names. I think the real issue here is why does this guy, cast as “Nobody” (Segal) need this money and what are his extenuating circumstances?

CEO (Plemons) does not hold back in showing that he cares more for himself and maybe “Wife” (Collins), than others.

A lot of this movie is the three waiting for the money. And in this time CEO makes it abundantly clear he does not care about Segal’s character, referring to him as Nobody.

Once CEO and Wife catch Nobody, the couple is locked in the sauna of their vacation home in the middle of the desert.

As Nobody is trying to leave, he notices a camera hidden in a tree and returns angry to the home to get the footage. When this does not go his way, tensions only escalate.

The couple has escaped from the sauna, and it is at this point that CEO and Nobody negotiate the $500 thousand deal. While Nobody waits for the money, CEO tries to figure out why Nobody is doing what he is doing through a series of questions which only aggravate Nobody.

In the minimal interactions between Wife and Nobody, it becomes clear that she is not as happy as one might initially think.

At one point “Gardener” (Leyva) stops by and after CEO makes a plea for help, Gardener is also held hostage.

After an event with the Gardener happens, Nobody tells CEO that he did want to take his money to see what it felt like to be him. He also tells him that nothing feels fair. CEO has everything, and Nobody has nothing. This is as close as you come to finding out why Segal’s character is robbing the CEO.

I believe this statement relates to a class struggle and a rich versus poor characteristic. While the movie did move itself along in a somewhat quick fashion, when you get to the end, the payout is underwhelming.

I did not see the final moments coming, but when I did I thought they were mediocre at best. To be fair, I not sure how I wanted it to end, but the way it did end left me disappointed.

Sorry Marshall Eriksen, but I recommend audiences sit this one out.

Available on Netflix. <

Friday, April 8, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Lost City’ a solid action-comedy

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Loretta is having trouble finishing her new book which she needs to have ready soon for her book tour – a book tour she will never forget. Loretta is saddened from the loss of her husband and has isolated herself because of it.

What ends up happening to her will take her in directions she was never expecting – both physically or otherwise – in this action-packed, entertaining movie starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nunez, Patti Harrison, Brad Pitt and Bowen Yang.

As Loretta (Bullock) starts her book tour for her newest book “The Lost City of D,”  she is annoyed and slightly frustrated. More of the crowd wants to see her cover model, Alan (Tatum), whom she described as a “body wash commercial,”  than hear her talk about her new book.

After the first stop of her tour doesn’t go well, Loretta wants to stop writing and stay home. Alan even says to her, “You are so afraid of life hurting, that you’ve stopped living.”

That is all about to change. Loretta is kidnaped by henchman and brought to Abagail Fairfax (Radcliffe) who needs her help to decipher symbols and find Calaman’s Tomb and in it, the Crown of Fire. King Calaman was the first man to build a city on the Atlantic Ocean.

Alan calls Jack Trainer (Pitt) to save Loretta and insists on going with Jack to which he begrudgingly agrees.

Fast forward to Alan and Loretta on their own, working to escape the jungle. At some point, they are pursued by more henchmen. After this, beware of the leeches scene.

Afterward, things get a little cozy between the two. And then they get real.

All the while, Beth (Randolph) is on her way to save Loretta. She gets some help from an unlikely lionheart along the way.

I was hesitant to review two movies in a row about recluse authors. However, Loretta is very different from Harris Shaw in that she is not a nasty person only out for herself. While some of her actions are defined as selfish, she gets thrown into a much different book tour than Shaw went on.

Without giving anything away, it was obvious relatively early on in the movie what the end result would be for Loretta. That’s really my only complaint for this movie – mild predictability. And I mean only a very small amount. This is an excellent, funny action movie.

Filmed in the Dominic Republic, the scenery is magnificent and compliments the plot well. I saw it on the big screen, and it paid off big time. It’s worth a trip to the theater to laugh and gasp during this fun adventure.

Bullock and Tatum have superb on-screen chemistry. I’ve seen Tatum in a few movies, and I think this is a different type of character for him. Radcliffe as a villain was pretty great, too.

Make sure you stick around for the end credits. It will have you asking “quid deinde?”

Two sequin dresses up.

Now playing in theaters. <

Friday, March 25, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Best Sellers’ film tugs at the heartstrings

By Matt Pascarella

He’s a cranky, retired author who had a big hit 40 years ago. She’s inherited her father’s publishing company and is looking for anything to help the company stay in business. When Stanbridge Publishing convinces Salinger-esque Harris Shaw to go on one final book tour, Lucy Stanbridge did not know what she was embarking on. To be fair, neither did Shaw.

That’s the plot of “Best Sellers,” which might make you laugh while also tugging at your heartstrings a little. It stars Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Ellen Wong, Scott Speedman and Cary Elwes.

Harris Shaw (Caine) has a well-known reputation for being a recluse. However, this does not stop Lucy (Plaza) from pursuing him to get another book from him to give her publishing company a much-needed boost. According to a contract, Shaw owes Lucy one more book. She breaks into his home to plead her case. It is not well received.

Breaking and entering aside, Shaw is not a nice guy. But for some reason, he drives to Stanbridge Publishing and gives Lucy her “pound of flesh.”

Stanbridge informs him, he now has to go on a book tour. In his first stop on the tour, he flubs it by instead reading from “Penthouse.” He later ends up in jail.

On the next stop, he says everything is drivel, though he uses a different word. Although he is self-sabotaging, people love him. His popularity increases online. Shaw continues to refuse to read from his own book.

And then Shaw’s popularity grinds to a screeching halt. People still want to see him, but only for his antics, not to buy his book.

With Shaw’s book not selling, Stanbridge is being pressured to sell the company by Jack (Speedman) but continues to hold out. She finds a very clever workaround to get Shaw’s words to be heard.

Shaw is not getting any nicer and Stanbridge is struggling. In what could be described as a moment of weakness on Shaw’s part, he tells Stanbridge about his personal life and his wife.

In regard to him finding someone to marry him, he tells her,

“Even the worst of us get lucky.”

From here on out, Shaw softens a little.

You learn a little more about Lucy’s personal life and some revelations are made. Shaw continues to self-sabotage, but the effect is not what he had in mind.

As the movie draws to a close it’s both sweet and sad.

Caine and Plaza are wonderful together. They both need the other for various reasons, but don’t know it. At times being somewhat of a comedic team, with Caine as the straight man.

As a fan of the television series “Parks and Recreation,” it was nice to see Plaza in a non-April Ludgate role. Caine’s transformation from a rather unpleasant fellow to who he is to Lucy at the end of the movie is a heartwarming one.

Although the language and character behaviors, one in particular, can get a bit rocky from time-to-time, this is a good movie. It’s probably not for the whole family, but one worth the time.

Two thumbs up.

Available to rent or on the Starz network. <