Friday, January 27, 2012

Five-O Shore Road Goes Pink For The Day

By Larry Favinger

Staff Columnist


This Sunday, January 29, brunch-goers have an opportunity to aid breast cancer research while enjoying their meal at a local restaurant.

For the third straight year, Five-O Shore Road, in conjunction with the Doneto Tramuto Foundation, will benefit the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation for breast cancer.

Jeff Porter, who has owned Five-O with his partner, Tramuto, since 2004, said for each meal served between 10a.m. and 2p.m. on Sunday, the foundation will donate $10 to the Susan G. Komen organization. The benefit has raised just under $2,000 each year since its inception.

In addition, Porter said, 100 percent of the cost of each Bloody Mary served will be given to the Komen group.

Komen’s sister, thereby launching a global breast cancer movement, formed Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation in 1982.

According to the group’s web site “Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.”

Three years ago, Porter said, the management team was looking for “things to do for the community in the off season.” There are people in the community “who would like to get out and do something for the community”. So the decision was made to do the annual benefit.

The funds raised by the benefit will go to the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen foundation, Porter said.

“We do a lot of things for the community,” Porter said. “We try to do something to give back to the community.”

The regular brunch menu is available and is listed on the restaurant’s web site, There you’ll find brunch favorites—everything from classic Eggs Benedict to Buttermilk Pancakes—as well as Five-O specialties, such as a Veggie Pesto Benedict and Strawberry Crunch pancakes.

Since it’s formation in 1982, Susan G. Komen foundation has been able to raise and invest more than $1.9 billion—through the support and fundraisers throughout the nation—toward fulfilling their promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

Since 2001, the Tramuto Foundation has helped many organizations and many people through direct mentoring, scholarships and grants. Join them Sunday, as the Tramuto Foundation and Five-O work to help to make more of a difference in Komen’s search for “the Cure.”

14th Annual “Cheers From The Heart”


In 1999, the Wells High School Cheerleaders established “Cheers From The Heart,” a charity benefit cheerleading competition. Since 1999, “Cheers From The Heart” has donated over $112,000 to local charities and children in need. Charities include: Seeds of Peace, Camp Sunshine, March of Dimes, Camp Meridian, Maine Children’s Cancer Program and Kids Free to Grow. This year, competitions will be held at three locations: Marshwood High School, Oxford Hills High School and Lawrence High School. These events will take place on Saturday, February 4, at 11am.

Admission is $5 per adult and $3 per student/child. New to this year’s event is a reduced admission fee (by $1) with the donation of a non-perishable food item—teams who bring 10 non-perishable food items will receive $10 off their registration fee. All food collected will be donated to local food pantries. All locations will also accept pet food donations for the local humane society. Save a dollar and help keep food on the table for others in the community, as well as their pets.

For more information contact Jack Molloy, Wells High School Director of Student Activities at 207-646-7011, or Sybil Coombs at 207-604-2907.

“Red Tails” Heavy on Action, Heart

By Chip Schrader

Staff Columnist, Movie Reviewer

“Red Tails” opens with a quote from the United States Army, stating intellectual inferiority and lack of courage as their reason for not employing African Americans for officer assignments.

Following this quote is the first real shot of the film. The camera follows a fleet of German and American bombers flying over Europe. The fighter planes, piloted by Caucasian men, are attempting to protect bombers but quickly abandon them to chase after the glory of shooting down a Nazi plane. In the aftermath of their desertion, the film witnesses the cockpits and cargo areas of the bombers being shot up. Men fall, bleeding, and bombers plummet in pieces, unable to finish their mission.

Following this scene is a rather dull mission, carried out by the African American Airmen of World War II—now known as the Tuskegee Airmen. One of the aforementioned pilots even explains, “They say war is hell, I’d say this is boring as hell.” Shortly into running a routine fly though, they encounter a Nazi with full infantry—this proves an introduction for the audience to the unused talent of the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII.

The cast of the film includes a Terence Howard-portrayed Colonel. Beneath his pipe smoking Colonel, are WWII airmen “Easy,” “Winky,” “Junior,” “Neon” and “Joker.” As the first part of the film focuses primarily upon dogfights and air-to-ground combat, it takes a decent portion of the film to understand which character is which. Understandably, though, the cinematic depiction of an entire military division, as well as a story of several different heroes is a tall order in which to fully develop both characters and plot.

Beyond the difficulties of cramming so much into one film—an effort that even it’s direct—a somewhat well-known man named George Lucas—the film showcases action sequences that are at the cutting edge of action cinematography. Films like “Top Gun” and “Iron Eagle” have successfully conveyed the pulse-pounding suspense and speed of a full on midair dogfight, but “Red Tails,” with the help of digital technology, shows the great depths of fighting in midair—weaving between dozens of various competing bombers. When a plane loses altitude, you can see it from angles never before captured onscreen.

The acting is solidly done for the part. However, the passion Terence Howard needs to convey to his officers doesn’t quite ring true. He isn’t quite as believable a Colonel as he should be. For that matter, many of the commanding officers seem to be softer spoken rather than driven, and elements such as the captain’s drinking problem aren’t as well developed as they should have been. He is just seen with liquor in just one or two scenes, but the film is almost devoid of any real conflict regarding his alcoholism. Which further helps to propagate the question of whether or not Lucas spent more time on visuals than on plot-content.

All criticism aside, though, these characters remain with you long after the film ends. The story is a terrific history lesson of what our nation has overcome when it comes to racial barriers. It does a lot to highlight the bravery and prejudice that highlighted the work of these men during World War II.

Bottom line: “Red Tails” is a solid movie and, save for a little language, it is a rare opportunity for a father and son movie outing. The acting is a bit soft in spots but the imagery is breathtaking. The characters are people that the audience will care and root for, even though it takes over half of the movie to get to know them. There are no real standout performances, but there are many quotable lines throughout the film. Most importantly, each character gets a scene or two to make his definitive mark.

In the end, viewers will walk away wanting at least another half an hour with such a quietly charismatic cast. 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Scott Stevens Steps Down As Executive Director of Museums of Old York

After fifteen years as Executive Director of the Museums of Old York, Scott Stevens has informed the board that he will be stepping down. A search process is underway, with the goal of filling the position by June 1.
Stevens says it is a good time for a transition. “Old York has a strong board and a really good team at the staff level. The Parsons Center, opened in 2008, has helped us develop new ways to serve our audience. We are grappling with the challenges historical museums face today in a strategic planning process well underway. A new leader with fresh perspective will have the chance to play a pivotal role in the museum’s future.”
“Old York has been a dream job in many ways,” according to Stevens. “The buildings and collections are endlessly fascinating. The legacy of their preservation and care for 112 years is truly inspiring. It has been a huge honor to be a temporary steward. Most rewarding of all has been [my] working with the many people who make the organization thrive, from [the] great staff to [our] dedicated trustees and committee members, volunteers, members, donors, Junior Docents; the list goes on and on. Many people have made possible every step we have taken.”
Stevens has directed four museums in four states over the course of a 27-year career. “I have loved the diverse challenges of directing community-based museums, especially this one,” says Stevens, “but at this point in my life, I’m ready to reduce the breadth of my responsibilities and focus on areas of strongest interest to me.” He will pursue work as an independent consultant. Stevens plans to remain in York, where he and his wife, a teacher at York High School, are deeply involved in the community. Old York will post the position opening in the next two weeks and will begin accepting applications January 23. Stevens has agreed to stay until a successor is in place.
Photo caption: Scott Stevens of the Museums of Old York. (Courtesy Photo)

Shootin’ For a Cure Raises Over $25,000

Wells’ Lady Warriors fundraising event, “Shootin’ For A Cure,” took place this past Saturday, January 14. Top fundraiser was Jenna Ingalls, and the top foul-shooter was Abby Moody with 47/50.
The Girls’ team was able to help the event raise $26,600. Additionally, the girls were able to meet with a breast cancer survivor who is currently receiving treatments. She made each girl a bracelet and spoke with them individually, this helped the girls realize what this whole day was truly about—our community and our families and the importance of cancer awareness.
Photo caption: Pictured are the Lady Warriors in their “Shootin’ For A Cure” uniforms. (Courtesy Photo)

Kittery Officials Finding Source of Bacterial Contamination to Spruce Creek

After two years of investigation, Kittery is making significant progress in finding the sources of the bacterial contamination of Spruce Creek—which has kept shellfish beds closed for several years—according to studies presented at the Kittery Town Council meeting Monday evening.
The studies are a part of the Spruce Creek Watershed Improvement Project, which is a four-year effort to determine the causes of poor quality in the creek and find ways to reduce or eliminate the pollutants that cause the problems.
“Spruce Creek is an impaired water body, and the primary impairment is bacteria, which is why we’re here,” said Forrest Bell, owner of FB Environmental (FBE), which has conducted the studies. “The Town and the Spruce Creek Association have been very successful in getting Maine DEP grant funds from the Federal Section 319 program over the last four years.”
“We’re now in the fourth year of grant-funded projects that are making a lot of changes on the ground to address some of these bacteria and storm water issues,” he said. “Spruce Creek is actually a model in Maine and New England as far as water quality protection [goes].”
The most recent studies have focused upon measuring the water quality coming from outfall pipes that discharge into Spruce Creek. They found the presence of harmful bacteria in levels that are 10, 20 or 30 times above the legal limits as measured by e-coli bacteria, said Bell.
Bell notes that shellfish beds have been closed for many years and the goal of the work is to clean up the bacterial contamination and re-open the beds. “It’s quite a goal to obtain, but little by little we’re taking steps.”
Results from an initial 2009 investigation showed outfalls had exceedingly high levels of bacteria in wet weather and even during dry weather—a bad sign, according to FBE project manager, Emily DiFranco.
This was especially true at outfalls in Admiralty Village, she said. After discovering these high levels, the FBE was hired by the Town to conduct additional sampling to try and get a better handle on where the bacteria was coming from in this area, [a] former Portsmouth Naval Shipyard housing.
DiFranco was helped by the Kittery Department of Public Works, which provided mobile cameras that traveled up drainage pipes in Admiralty Village to find the sources of bacteria-laden drainage.
“When we found one nonfunctional catch basin—the Sewer Department Works was out there the next day to fill it in,” she said. “I’ve never seen a town act so quickly.”
In the course of the investigation, researchers found catch basins on private property in Admiralty Village that drained, even during dry weather, with high concentrations of bacteria. Other significant sites with high bacteria counts included culverts at Picot Road, Haley Road at Trafton Road and Cole Avenue.
“There are still a lot of potential places and things that we haven’t found,” she added.
Bell said they would seek additional funding from the town to pinpoint the problem areas so that steps may be taken to remediate them.
Kittery’s new town manager, Robert Markel, formerly town manager of Ipswich, Massachusetts, knows the value of removing sources of bacterial contamination to shellfish beds.
“It was an eye-opening presentation, how they had done that great detective work and found that one pipe that was red-lined,” he said. “That’s clearly the kind of work that needs to be done.”
“Going forward, if water quality in Spruce Creek is going to be improved—and everyone seems to want that—this is the kind of work that is essential,” he said.
“All the shellfish areas are open [in Ipswich], whereas if you go back 15 years, there were portions of the town that were permanently closed—so it does work,” he said.
“I see the possibility of bringing back a very important resource for the town,” he said.
This article provided by David Ramsay, Spruce Creek Watershed Improvement Project Manager. FMI:

Friday, January 13, 2012

More Than $2 Million Awarded to Maine Nature Conservation

More than $2 million will help public and non-profit groups restore and protect high priority wetlands and other natural resources across Maine.
The Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program—which is administered by The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—announced awards totaling $2.4 million to help restore, enhance and preserve wetlands and other important habitats at 17 project sites.
The program provides flexibility for both regulators and the regulated community to choose a fee in lieu of more time-intensive traditional mitigation options. These so-called ‘In Lieu Fees’ are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy.
“This third round of grants is another step forward for the conservation of aquatic resources in Maine,” said Alex Mas, who manages the program for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Traditional mitigation projects can often be scattered, small or poorly located; this program allows us to focus wetland mitigation funds in high priority areas to help ensure they continue to provide important benefits like habitat, clean drinking water and flood control for people and wildlife into the future.”
At a time of limited resources, this program has awarded crucial funding that will allow us to add wetland, waterfowl and wading bird habitat to a popular Wildlife Management Area,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW). “The funding also enables our Department to begin restoration work designed to enhance water quality and wetland health.”
“This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps is facilitating a systematic and strategic process for comprehensive compensation projects that are saving and strengthening our state’s highest value wetland habitats,” said Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “In just a few years, this program has become one of Maine’s most meaningful tools, used in partnership by conservationists and developers to ensure important environmental protections. It’s a win-win for Maine’s natural environment, and its economic one.”
“After all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts, this program provides permit applicants an efficient and workable alternative to traditional mitigation, while providing a better outcome for our wetland habitats,” said Ruth Ladd, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. “The fees are used to restore, enhance, preserve or create aquatic resources and their associated uplands.”
This is the third round of awards from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program to advance important land and water conservation around the state. More than 2,300 acres of land will be conserved or restored statewide.
In rural Penobscot County, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will protect more than 2,000 acres of habitat, expanding the Mattawamkeag River System Wildlife Management Area. The majority of the property is wetland associated with the river and with Eagle Pond. Nesting bald eagles and rare Clayton’s copper butterflies—verified at just eleven sites worldwide—have been seen in the area.
In the mid-coast, a DIFW restoration project on Maquoit Stream in Brunswick will restore a wetland that will serve as habitat for migratory fish as well salt marsh sparrow (a Maine Species of Special Concern) and other birds—with the removal of a small earthen dam and reestablishment of a natural stream channel and more than 10-acres of wetlands.
In southern Maine, the York Land Trust will protect just over 22-acres within the watershed of Boulter Pond, which supplies drinking water for thousands of residents in Kittery, York and Eliot. The area is also an important habitat for woodpeckers and great blue herons.
The Great Works Regional Land Trust will protect 83 additional acres in South Berwick as part of the ongoing “Mount Agamenticus to the Sea” conservation effort. These wetland areas provide some of Maine’s best habitat for Blandings and spotted turtles.
In Franklin County, the Androscoggin Land Trust will protect 42-acres of forestland in the town of Jay as part of their “Expanding the Androscoggin Greenway Project.” The property will be managed for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and low-impact recreation.
Other award recipients include: Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Council; Blue Hill Heritage Trust; Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust; Georges River Land Trust; Greater Lovell Land Trust; Kennebec Land Trust; Sebasticook Regional Land Trust; Trout Unlimited; Western Foothills Land Trust; and the towns of Wells and Falmouth.

Supper Fundraiser to Support Traip Academy’s Robotics Team

On Friday, January 20, Circle Subs in Kittery will be serving a Ham and Bean Supper to help raise funds for Traip Academy’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team.
“We are so grateful that Circle Subs is helping us with this fundraiser,” said Nathan Dacy, the Robotics’ team captain. “Our biggest challenge has always been raising enough money to accomplish all of our goals. Donations can help us to cover our expenses, including registration costs for events, materials and supplies, and will help defray the cost of travel and accommodations for the competitions.”
The team, called the Robo-Rangers, is made up of high school students whose purpose is to work together to build a robot that can complete a specific set of tasks and compete against other high school teams in regional and national events. Teams are given a set of parts and the competition details at the beginning of January and have six weeks to construct a robot. FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
This is the second year for the FIRST Robotics Team at Traip. Last year they competed at Boston University. This year they will be competing at The Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, March 1-3.
Along with the homemade ham and baked beans, the dinners will also include corn bread, dessert and a drink—all for just $7. Dinners can be picked up on Friday, January 20 between 5 and 7p.m. at Circle Subs on 167 State Road, Kittery. It is recommended that dinners be pre-ordered. To order a dinner call Circle Subs at 207-439-7655. Circle Subs will be donating the proceeds raised from the dinners to the Traip FIRST Robotics Team.
Photo caption: Pictured are members of Traip Academy’s FIRST Robotics Team. (Courtesy Photo)

YCCC Receives $5,000 in Scholarship Support

York County Community College and its Foundation recently received a $5,000 grant from the Sturdivant Island Tuna Tournament (SITT) Charitable Foundation—the first phase of establishing an endowed scholarship at the college.
SITT hosts an annual fishing tournament in South Portland that has generated over $300,000 to support programs and scholarships at Maine’s community colleges. It is SITT’s goal to eventually endow each of Maine’s seven community colleges with $100,000 for scholarships. The donation this year to YCCC was the first the school has received from SITT.
Last year, the group of Maine business leaders and fishing enthusiasts, led by Phil Grondin of R.H. Grondin & Sons, received national attention and recognition in honor of their outstanding support for Maine community colleges. SITT was one of ten community college donors in the country to receive the Benefactor Award from the National Council for Resource Development (CRD).
“This is a very generous contribution, and will allow us to offer scholarships to more students in financial need,” said John Rainone, YCCC’s Dean of Institutional Advancement and CRD’s 2012 President. “It will allow us to begin to offer additional scholarships in the 2013 academic year.”
York County Community College, established in 1994, is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. The college enrolls over 1,600 students in associate degree and transfer programs and over 2,500 individuals in non-credit continuing education and professional development areas.

“The Immortal Marilyn” Authors to Speak in Portsmouth

Fifty years after Marilyn Monroe’s death, the screen legend’s influence on theater, television, film and other performing arts will be the subject of discussion at the Portsmouth Public Library on Wednesday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m.
John De Vito and Frank Tropea, co-authors of “The Immortal Marilyn: The Depiction of an Icon,” have studied more than 100 examples, ranging from documentaries to works that reference the star in more ambiguous ways. Masters of trivia on Monroe, the authors will answer questions from the audience following their talk.
Additionally, one of the plays studied by the authors, “Body” by David Mauriello, will be presented at the Players’ Ring Theatre in Portsmouth from January 27 through February 12. In “Body,” De Vito and Tropea write, “Marilyn's role is analogous to the poor young woman of so many fairy tales who is transformed by some magical, otherworldly means into a beautiful princess or golden goddess.”
This special presentation comes with much anticipation, as Monroe has been quite the topic of popular culture in the past few months. Specifically of note is Michelle Williams portrayal of the titular character in “My Week With Marilyn,” a film that has been followed by Oscar-buzz since it’s opening. The Simon Curtis-directed film was produced by The Weinstein Company.
De Vito is a film technician at the Boston Public Library and holds a BA in visual studies from Harvard University. Tropea holds a BA in English Literature and psychology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a MA in literature and psychology from Harvard University.
Their January 18 talk, “Marilyn Monroe: An Icon for All Seasons,” is free and open to the public in the Levenson Community Room of the Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the discussion is from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Courtesy Photo)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Secretary of State Charlie Summers Announces “Conversations With The Communities”

In an effort to address the safety concerns surrounding young drivers, Secretary of State Charlie Summers announces “Conversations With the Communities”—a public discussion regarding ways to improve the safety of Maine’s young drivers. “Too many tragedies occur on Maine roadways involving young drivers every year. This past year alone, there were around 50 fatal crashes where a young driver—someone between the ages of 16 and 24—was involved. That’s almost one crash a week,” Summers said. “It is my responsibility as the Secretary of State to look at ways to improve the safety of young drivers and all of us traveling Maine’s roadways. I want to ensure that when a young person gets behind the wheel, they have been provided with the best tools available and the experience they need to be a safe, responsible driver. And I feel the best way to begin this process is to engage parents, students, educators and other concerned members of the community in an effort to make Maine’s young drivers the best in America.”
Secretary Summers has established a Technical Review Panel (TRP) as required by Maine law, M.R.S.A. Title 29-A, that will conduct a comprehensive review of young driver requirements, such as laws, rules, and the driver education curriculum in Maine. The Panel is made up of representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Education, the Insurance Industry, the Motor Carrier industry, and the driver’s education community. Summers has also asked Sarah Beth Campisi, a sophomore from Thorton Academy who recently completed driver’s education, to be a member of the TRP as well. Summers said, “Although I wasn’t required to have a student on the Technical Review Panel, I feel Sarah Beth will offer a unique perspective that will benefit the Panel as we discuss areas for improvement. She has recent, first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be hitting our roadways as a new driver.”
“Conversations With the Communities” will be held on the following dates at the local Bureau of Motor Vehicle Offices: Thursday, January 5 in Lewiston at 6 p.m.; Monday, January 9 in Kennebunk at 6 p.m.; Thursday, January 12 in Portland at 6 p.m.; Tuesday, January 17 in Bangor at 6 p.m.; Wednesday, January 18 in Caribou at 6 p.m.; and Thursday, January 19 in Calais at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend. For a complete schedule of “Conversations With the Community,” including addresses to the motor vehicle locations or for information and instructions on joining the discussion via Webinar, please visit the Secretary of State’s website at

CPS Announces Annual “Clinical Site of The Year” and “Best Practice” Award

The 2011 Clinical Site of the Year award and the Best Practice award for the Northeast Region were presented to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, Maine by Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS). The awards were presented to the Director of Pharmacy, Fred Anselmo. In order to receive the Clinical Site of the Year award, Goodall needed an Operations Audit score of at least 85 percent, outstanding financial performance by meeting or exceeding budget, superior scores on The Joint Commission Survey as well as clinical success and maintaining good relationships with hospital administration. For the Best Practice award, the hospital had to score at least a 95% on the annual operations audit, which includes regulatory, quality, clinical and operational categories.
Marcus Baker, Regional Vice President for CPS shares that the pharmacy team at Goodall Hospital makes a difference every day in their provision of care to the patients and staff of Goodall Hospital. “There is a strength in numbers in this top notch staff who support the patient centered care expected by hospital leadership and Comprehensive Pharmacy Services. They exemplify the CPS vision statement, “Advancing pharmacy practice, one patient at a time.”
Isabel Schmedemann, Chief Operating and Nursing Officer for Goodall hospital adds, “We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our pharmacy department. They excel everyday and are always at the forefront of patient care.”
CPS is the nation’s largest pharmacy services provider, partnering with greater than 300 hospitals and health care facilities in 46 states (including D.C., Puerto Rico and the USVI) and employing over 1,600 pharmacy professionals. For more information, visit
Photo caption: Goodall Hospital’s pharmacy staff pose with their Clinical Site of the Year & Best Practice award presented to them by Comprehensive Pharmacy Services. (Courtesy Photo)

Well, I’ll Be...: A Review of “Damned”

By Chip Schrader
Staff Book Reviewer
Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel, “Damned,” combines themes of several of his previous works: the grotesque depiction of American celebrity he mastered in “Tell All,” the taboo of basic human drives from within “Choke,” and the supernatural elements that made his masterpiece “Lullaby” such a page turner. Having several of his books adapted to film, including his breakthrough novel “Fight Club,” Palahniuk is a staple on must-read lists worldwide. A note on local facts, he has stopped in Portsmouth during two of his recent book tours.
The titular “Damned” refers to the main character, Madison, the thirteen-year-old daughter of “Brangelina”-esque celebrities who is said to have died from an accidental overdose. Beyond dying early, Madison has somehow fallen from ‘grace’ and been sentenced to spend eternity in the “lake of fire.”
From the opening chapter, this concept treads upon the hokey side because of its lack of proper imagery of Hades and its depiction of a teenage rivalry between two condemned souls. As the story progress, Madison meets a group of friends that prompts a reference the “Breakfast Club.” There is the jock, the geek, the prom queen, the punk and Madison herself, the undesirable girl or recluse—she compares herself to the Ally Sheedy-played recluse of the famous John Hughes film.
Further on in the story, we learn that the reasons the characters have ended up in hell range from an offside penalty to stealing bread for a hungry family. Much like Dante, Palahniuk masterfully inserts dozens of other reasons for condemnation: saying the ultimate swear word more than 700 times in a lifetime, practicing Buddhism at any point and honking a horn too many times—which condemns cab drivers on the spot.
Humorous anecdotes like the aforementioned make an otherwise slim early narrative both fun and engaging.
Further into the book Madison endeavors to take over Hell. Her nerdy friend knows the origin and taxonomy of each demon, and the readers are treated to history lessons in world religion, as demons are merely gods of dead religion. Through this trek through the underworld, they travel through a river of clipped fingernails and various other unbecoming collections of human waste in order for Madison to reach her goal.
“Damned” slowly evolves into an adventure-story that makes up for a slow beginning. A story dependent upon character set-up, layered themes flesh out the narrative as Madison’s story unfolds. The scenarios are hilarious and outlandish—though sometimes become so explicit that readers may envision the adult-oriented cartoons of R. Crumb. Especially during at least one scenario that remains too graphic to depict in this publication.
As readers laugh their way through this book, much of the satire and jabbing seems both indulgent and unnecessary. As the book winds down to its last pages, though, Palahniuk proves his skill as a master satirist as he crosses every “T,” dots every “i,” and proves each pun intentional.
“Damned” is a fun and unique romp from a modern disciple. Kurt Vonnegut’s latest—though a tad more adult-oriented than some may think—is ultimately a solid read. (Courtesy image)