Friday, February 29, 2008

What do you do with it all?

The snow, that is. With record amounts of the stuff piling up around the state, you'd be forgiven if you need to find creative outlets involving snow. And if you're the folks in Bethel, you build things. Like the world's tallest snowman.

Angus, the world's tallest snowman, was built in 1999 and named after then-governor Angus King. A few stats from the website tell the tale:
Height -- 113 ft. & 7 inches tall
Weight -- 9,000,000 lbs
200,000 cubic feet of snow
4 ft. wreathes as eyes
6 ft. of chicken wire & muslin for the carrot nose
6 automobile tires as the mouth
20 ft. fleece hat
120 ft. fleece scarf
3 skidder tires for the buttons
2 - 10 ft. trees for arms

As if that weren't enough, now they're at it again. Today, Bethel will unveil Olympia, soon to become the world's tallest snowwoman. She'll top out over 122' and 12,000,000 pounds (for a BMI of 3936, just a bit into the obese zone.) Olympia also has 30' pine trees for arms; hopefully they'll post full stats on the website soon. In '99 it took Angus 15 weeks to melt: Given this crazy winter, Olympia may actually grow in the coming weeks.

The forecast? Six to ten more inches of snow for us overnight, maybe over a foot at Bethel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deadline Day

Those of you who aren't hockey fans can tune out now. For the two of you who are, you know today was the trading deadline in the NHL. While there were probably just two blockbuster-type deals league-wide (PIT getting Marian Hossa and DAL getting Brad Richards), there was plenty of action overall. Here's the AT evaluation of deals involving our favorite division at Archival Trash, the mighty Southeast.

Get: C/LW Tuomo Ruutu
Lose: LW Andrew Ladd
The Skinny: Hard to say. Ladd is younger, slightly cheaper, and a bit bigger. Both players, former first-round picks, have been injury-prone and are considered minor disappointments. Right now, the edge goes to Carolina, given Ruutu's experience (even though with the Hawks he had no playoff experience) and proven grit. Should Ladd put it together however, down the road it should favor the Hawks.

Get: G Cristobal Huet, C Sergei Fedorov, F Joe Motzko, LW Matt Cooke
Lose: 2nd round pick, D Ted Ruth (prospect), C Alexandre Giroux, LW Matt Pettinger
The Skinny: The Caps add forward depth with Motzko, get a kind-sorta gritty winger in Cooke, hope to resurrect Fedorov for a few weeks, and land an heir apparent to Olie the goalie. I think these are all good deals for the Caps, especially if the 90 year-old Fedorov clicks with Ovechkin.

Get: C Erik Christensen, RW Colby Armstrong, C Angelo Esposito (prospect), C Alexandre Giroux, PIT 1st round pick
Lose: RW Marian Hossa, LW Pascal Dupuis, F Joe Motzko
The Skinny: Hossa was going to walk anyway, Dupuis is marginal, and Motzko is a fringe player. Christensen and Armstrong won't score like Hossa, but they're character guys and will play hard every night. Esposito has been maligned constantly since playing his way out of being picked #1 overall last year (he wound up going 20th), but is still a quality prospect. Getting an extra first rounder is just icing on the cake, especially after getting rooked out of multiple picks in the Keith Tkachuk deal last year. Probably the best deals in the division.

Get: LW Chad Kilger, D Karlis Skrastins, goon Wade Belak, TOR 5th round pick
Lose: 3rd round pick, D Ruslan Salei, COL 3rd round pick
The Skinny: Bzzt! I'm sorry, you lose again, Panthers fans. Skrastins is decent, but Kilger will drive you nuts, and Belak is a younger version of Pete Worrell (ie, bad). At least they didn't try to reacquire Todd Bertuzzi.

Get: G Mike Smith, C Jeff Halpern, F Jussi Jokinen, NAS 7th round pick
Lose: C Brad Richards, G Johan Holmqvist, LW Jan Hlavac
The Skinny: Can you say "Salary Dump?" I guess the Lightning are building for next year, but I question whether Smith can be the big #1 they're hoping for, Halpern is a nice two-way forward, but is nearly 32, and Jokinen is (for now) just a shootout specialist. But, at least they're under the cap now, which could pay off this summer if they can land a free agent or two.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The AT Book Review: The Historian

Today we bring you the first edition of the AT Book Review. Our review features a hefty tome from 2005, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. (NOTE: Spoilers are included, so if this book is on your to-read list, skip to the end.)

Let me just start by saying that this was one bad book, all 642 pages of it. After plowing through a couple hundred pages over a few evenings, it took all my strength to keep coming back to it. I waited and waited for something -- anything -- to happen. Okay, okay, we get a few deaths, almost all "off-camera," one near-sex scene, several more-boring-than-usual academic conferences, and miles and miles of travelogue. Only the final item comes closest to being interesting.

The story: Dracula lives (sort of). And he's looking for a historian. Or an archivist (so he says). So Vlad goes and plants these special dragon-symbol books in various libraries and archives around the world, and several characters eventually unearth them. These discoveries inspire our heroes to hunt for Dracula's final resting place. Only each time they start their research, nasty things happen to the people around them. The novel follows a number of these unfortunates -- separately, and, for the reader, drearily together -- through much of the twentieth century, skipping back and forth from the 1930s, 50s, 70s, and the present day. Needless to say, blood is shed mysteriously, some characters behave menacingly, our heroes fret discouragingly, and the plot evolves adverbially.

There are two major problems with this book. First: Why, if Drac really wants to be found by these elite academics, does he then try to frighten them off? Why not just find some competent historian or archivist, make them undead, and solve your problem for all time? We eventually find out he's a discerning reader, has saved/acquired numerous priceless volumes, and has no trouble going anywhere in the world. What gives?

The second, and the biggest problem, is this: once we finally meet El Vladdo (nearly 600 pages in, mind you), he's captured one of our intrepid (read: doomed) hunters and has him begin ... Cataloging His Books! No research. No searching for more ancient tomes. Just making a catalog. Dracula finally has a world-renowned historian in his grasp, a classicist who probably knows even more than does Mr. Impaler, and he has the good professor catalog his library. I only hope our-soon-to-die professor has read his AACR2. (Kostova doesn't say.)

THE GOOD NEWS: Kostova received a $2 MILLION advance for this book. Maybe I should write a story about Dr. Frankenstein and his desire to archive his personal papers.

THE BAD NEWS: There may be a sequel. And a movie.

THE VERDICT: Unless you're an insomniac cataloger who wants to see archivists and academic historians kick the bucket, don't waste your time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The quest for fame drives most donations. But now, shame can work to your advantage as well. For going beyond the mundane "Friend of the Archives" designation, Archival Trash presents the following fundraising hierarchy. Insert your own dollar amounts.

$$$$$$....Archival Sugar Daddy
$$$$$.....Honorary Degree Recipient*
$$$$......Honorary Archivist (will receive personally scrimshawed Bone Folder)
$$$.......One Who Knows Where the Archives Is Located and Sometimes Uses Your Parking Space
$$........Person Who Drives Past the Archives on Their Way to Work
$.........Someone Who Can Spell 'Archives'
-$........Cost-Cutting Middle Manager/Committee Chair
-$$.......Cost-Cutting Congressman
-$$$......That Administrator With a Shredder Who Won't Return Your Calls
-$$$$.....Mr. Vice President

*or, for non-university archives: New Meeting Room Named After Himself/Herself/Favorite Pet

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Presidential Hoopla

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton came to Lewiston. I took the short walk to the Lewiston Armory to join maybe 2,000 others to hear her speak. And I have the photos to prove it.

First of all, outside, a hastily doctored sign.

A closer look at the above. I guess all New England looks alike.

Next, the scoreboard over the Armory floor. Ok, I get the '2008.' But '44?'

Finally, the candidate herself. She gave a good, if typical, campaign speech. But I'm glad to see she and Sen. Obama actually came to Maine.

The Maine Democratic caucuses are held today. Of course, it's snowing. Turnout is still expected to be big, however, and right now the predictions are breaking for Obama. Stay tuned.