Friday, December 23, 2011

Frozen Fenway Matchup to Feature UNH vs. Maine

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The ice hockey arch rivalry between the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine will take to a new venue early in 2012, as they travel to Massachusetts to renew their storied rivalry.
The Frozen Fenway offering this time around will feature the Wildcats and the Black Bears on Jan. 7, according to school officials, Hockey East and Fenway Sports Management.
The historic doubleheader at the summer home of the Boston Red Sox will see the UNH-Maine game begin at 7:30 p.m., following a 4 p.m. contest between the University of Vermont Catamounts and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.
“Few experiences in my four decades in college hockey were as special as the first Frozen Fenway in 2010,” Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna said in announcing the twin bill. “It was a once in a lifetime experience for our four schools the first time around and I expect the same in 2012. Given that we will help launch Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary season, we are doubly grateful for this opportunity.”
“We look forward to kicking off Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary celebrations with Frozen Fenway 2012, which is a great way for thousands of families to come and enjoy favorite winter pastimes as we begin celebrating its milestone year,” said Red Sox Executive Vice President Sam Kennedy. “We want to thank Mayor Menino for his continued support, and welcome back Joe Bertagna and Hockey East to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled for UNH men’s hockey to be part of the Frozen Fenway doubleheader,” said UNH 22nd-year head coach Dick Umile, a native of Melrose, Mass., when the doubleheader was announced. “I believe the UNH/Maine rivalry is as good as any in college hockey and bringing this game to a venue like Fenway Park is huge.”
The 111th meeting in the series between the neighboring states’ schools will be broadcast live in high definition on New England Sports Network (NESN).
“Being from Boston, it doesn’t get any better than playing at Fenway Park,” Umile said. “We are honored to be a part of this experience and we are looking forward to the opportunity, as I’m sure Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine are.”
New Hampshire owns the nation’s second-longest active streak of National Collegiate Athletic Association post-season appearances at 10, and had advanced to post-season play in 17 of the last 21 seasons. UNH has been to the Frozen Four seven times during Umile’s tenure as coach.
The Black Bears have appeared in 11 Frozen Fours, have a 28–18 record in NCAA Tournament games, and have won two national championships—in 1993 and 1999.
Photo caption: (Photo courtesy

Wells Family Awarded for Community Spirit

Norton Lights of Wells, Maine, is at it again. The Norton family house is aglow with perfectly timed Christmas lights that accompany their own holiday mix of music on the radio.
Stan Norton and his wife, Melissa, are better known this holiday season as “Stanta” and “Mrs. Claus” as they dress the part while running their light show and handing out candy canes.
For the third year, the Nortons decorated their home with custom-made lights that are programmed to change with holiday music broadcast through a FM transmitter station in their living room. By listening to the radio, people are able to enjoy the 9-minute show as they drive by the house at 213 Canterbury Road in Wells.
“The light show is spectacular and what’s even more impressive is the constant effort put forward by this generous family to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine,” said Kate Vickery, Make-A-Wish Program Director, who was at the show on recently to help hand out candy canes and present the family with the 2011 Community Spirit Award. This award is given in recognition of organizations or individuals outside of Make-A-Wish that make significant contributions to our cause over a period of time.
In total, the Nortons have raised $17,000 for the wish granting organization – enough to grant nearly three wishes. They are hoping to raise enough this year to grant another wish - $6,000.
The Norton family initially became familiar with Make-A-Wish through Stan’s job at Pease Air National Guard Base, where he sees many Make-A-Wish recipients. Witnessing children’s wishes at the base inspired Stan to make a difference using his talent of programming lights to music.
“We are touched beyond words. It truly is amazing what Make-A-Wish and its staff does,” said Stan. “Thank you so much! It means a lot to us to be associated with this great organization.”
The whole family works hard to help raise money. Ryan, age 11, manages the spreadsheets and Reed, age 14, helps with programming.
“The boys have learned a great deal about electrical engineering as well as how to give back to the community at large,” said Melissa Norton.
Norton Lights will be up and running every night through December 25, with a donation box to accept donations.
“All of us at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine thank the Norton family from the bottom of our hearts!” said Vickery.
Photo caption: Staff and volunteers of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine present the Norton family of Wells with a 2011 Community Spirit Award for their past and current efforts of raising money through their holiday light and music display. From left to right: Kate Vickery of Make-A-Wish, Volunteer Shay Lattari, Reed Norton, Ryan Norton, Melissa Norton, Stan Norton and Volunteer Tracey Hansen. (Courtesy photo)

Fire Department to Receive More Than $118K in Grant Funding

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, recently announced that the Department of Homeland Security has awarded $118,750 in grant funding to the Berwick Fire Department. The funding is provided through the “Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program,” or FIRE Act.
“Our career and volunteer firefighters are among our bravest public servants. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is an extremely critical source of funds for our fire and rescue personnel,” said Senator Collins. “Since the creation of this program, Maine fire departments have been awarded more than $54 million to help purchase new, used, or refurbished vehicles, and to obtain equipment for firefighting, interoperable communications, chemical detection, and other purposes that are essential to first responders.”
Funding for the Berwick Fire Department will be distributed through the Vehicle Acquisition Program, which helps local departments purchase equipment such as pumpers, brush trucks, tankers/tenders, rescue vehicles, ambulances, aerials, foam units and fire boats.
These grants are awarded to fire departments across the United States to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, firefighter health and safety programs, emergency medical service programs, Fire Prevention and Safety programs, and to purchase new fire equipment. So far, in calendar year 2011, fire departments across Maine have received more than $1 million in AFG funding.

Opening Scenes: ‘Young Adult’

By Chip Schrader
Staff Movie Critic
“Young Adult” begins with an aerial shot of Minneapolis followed by a shot of a multilevel tenement building scaling up. Inside lays a woman face down on her bed with the television still on. She rolls out of bed to drink diet soda out of the bottle. When she sits down to her computer, a Word document is up with only “Chapter 1” written. Meanwhile, her agent left a message asking for the first draft of her book. She writes one sentence then opens an email that announces the birth of a baby. This baby’s picture will haunt her for the next several scenes.
The woman faced down is “Mavis Gary” played by Charlize Theron in another role where she forgoes her off screen glamour for the role of an aging woman who made it big. Making it big in Mercury, Minnesota, her hometown, is ghostwriting novels for a popular series. When she returns home from “the Mini-Apple,” Mavis’ intentions for a married ex, who recently became a father, begin to unravel in an unsavory plot.
The scene stealing Matt Freehauf is played by King of Queens alum Patton Oswalt. Throughout the film, Freehauf, a disabled former classmate of Mavis’, portrays the voice of a conscience that she seems so deeply lacking. Physically mangled from a high school bullying incident that earned him the nickname “hate crime guy,” he holds an inner morality that equals Mavis external beauty as her inner flaws prove beyond damaged and more toward grotesque.
The biting chemistry between these two actors provides most of the comic relief from the otherwise morally destitute theme of her journey. Diablo Cody, the award-winning “Juno” screenwriter, creates another successful and memorable story for indie filmgoers with this pseudo-indie release. Cody’s use of dialog in “Young Adult” has matured from frequent word plays and zingers to more realistic and meaningful exchanges between characters with the occasional one liner to spice it up.
While there are plenty of opportunities for dramatic highs and lows, there is a great deal of restraint in the acting and the writing. It is debatable whether this increases the quality of the film, or is detrimental to the development of the film and its characters. The deepest flaw in the writing might stem from the point that, although most movies have heroes and villains, this film seems like an act of revenge Cody has plotted against an old foe. Thus, Cody breaks the writer’s rule of never judging the characters, but rules are meant to be broken in art.
Bottom line: Director Jason Reitman masterfully shoots this subdued character based drama with fast paced cross shots, like close-ups of a cassette tape playing cut by Mavis driving across the state. These fast-paced sequences are followed by hypnotic and gritty documentary style shots to give the film the feel of classic Scorsese updated with a hip, shabby chic aesthetic. The acting all the way from extras to leads is spot on, but “Young Adult” is more cutting, serious and subdued than the ads would have viewers believe, which is a disservice to its achievements and target audience expectations. 4 out of 5. (Courtesy movie poster image)