Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

  "Orphan Train" is Christina Baker Kline's breakout novel. The author - who grew up in Maine and comes back each year - has written four books, but this is the first to really take off, selling more than 800,000 copies. It spent 30 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The novel interweaves the story of two protagonists - Molly, a teenage girl of Penobscot Indian heritage living in a foster home, and Vivian, a wealthy elderly woman whose childhood was also marked by displacement and loss.

People who can't clap on the beat drive comedian Aaron Michael King crazy, especially one group in particular. He devoted a whole YouTube sketch to ... some white people he knows.

Portland Man Stages Plays — With Action Figures

Jun 23, 2014
Caroline Losneck / MPBN

A typical Saturday night in Portland features a varied lineup of concerts, movies and restaurants. But, at an intimate event in the living room of a house in the city's West End neighborhood, something unusual is happening. About 20 people are sitting on couches and folding chairs, watching Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar." But it's not the one you think you know.

What makes this rock opera different are the actors, about 40 of them. They're all plastic action figure dolls. And they're performing on a miniature stage.

The Telling Room: 'Sparrows'

Jun 20, 2014
Courtesy the Telling Room

Every Friday this summer, we're featuring the work of young writers, in partnership with the Telling Room In Portland. This week's entry is titled "Sparrows," by Omar Raouf of Portland, who left Iraq eight years ago with his family at the age of nine.

Summer Reading

Jun 18, 2014

Where do you read in the summertime? Maybe it's at the beach? Or on a boat? Perhaps you prefer lounging in a hammock in the backyard. But just as importantly: what you will you read this summer? This year's crop of books by Maine authors is superlative. And there are lots of other novels, biographies and nonfiction books generating great buzz. The question before you is how to choose? Today on Maine Calling, we turn to three people who might be referred to as professional readers for their help. But we won't stop there.

PORTLAND, Maine — A zombie film by a Maine native who spent the past decade in Los Angeles making horror, comedy and science fiction films has spilled into public view on several streets in Portland.

Several blood-covered zombies stumbled onto two Portland streets and cars crashed during filming Monday of the low-budget zombie comedy "Night of the Living Deb."

The Portland Press Herald reported that a vintage Cadillac sped up and down the street and later crashed into a Taxi during filming.

The Telling Room: 'O Acadia!'

Jun 13, 2014
Courtesy the Telling Room

Every Friday this summer, we're featuring the work of young writers in partnership with the Telling Room In Portland. This week, a poem by Mary McColley.

Maine-based writer and comedian Michael Miclon has chosen a serious subject for his first foray into movie-making: the life and death of the Richard III, the last English king to die in battle. Miclon's take on the story, however, is not quite so serious as William Shakespeare's.

Two best-selling, and award-winning, authors will appear together this evening in Portland. Richard Russo invited Ann Patchett to Maine to take part in a fundraiser for the Wayfinder Schools. Russo and Patchett stopped by our studios yesterday and sat down with MPBN's Jennifer Rooks.

The fundraiser for the Wayfinder Schools is this evening (Tuesday, June 10) at 7 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall. The event is open to the public.

John Steinbeck's debut novel Of Mice and Men won praise from critics as a well-written, well-paced mystery with well-developed characters. The main characters, Lennie and George, have become cultural archetypes.

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Mary Pols, film critic for Time magazine and staff writer with the Portland Press Herald

Bill Lundgren, bookseller with Longfellow Books and book reviewer

Sanford Phippen, former host of Maine PBS series "A Good Read" who has taught high school and college English

Every Friday this summer, we're featuring the work of young writers in partnership with the Telling Room In Portland. This week, a poem by Taryn Brennan, a senior at Deering High School in Portland.

I. Venus Flytrap

Wikimedia Commons

Acclaimed Camden, Maine-based author Tess Gerritsen has filed a lawsuit against Warner Brothers, claiming the film company used her 1999 novel "Gravity" as the basis for the recent film by the same name.  As Patty Wight reports, Gerritsen says Warner Brothers owes her at least $10 million.

Memoir Writing 101

Apr 28, 2014

By their very definition, memoirs are books any and all of us can write.  Here in Maine, it seems like a lot of us are putting pen to paper, or finger to laptop, to collect and share stories from our past. Talking about their memoirs and the craft of memoir writing - Elizabeth Peavey, author of "My Mother's Clothes."  Helen Peppe, author of "Pigs Can't Swim."  Jaed Coffin, author of "A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants."  


Comedy 101

Apr 1, 2014

It's a perennial question - studied by scholars through the ages. What makes us laugh? You can break down a joke into a formula, but mixing the ingredients back together isn't always so simple, and may or may not work. Learn the art of making people laugh, from a couple experts. Hear how they approach humor, both standup and improv.

Host Jennifer Rooks discussed comedy with:

Stand-up comedian Bob Marley

Rachel Flehinger, radio host, stand-up and improv comedian

The second installment of the "Maine Calling Book Club" takes the reader back to Mexico, Maine in 1963, a mill town, full of immigrant families. Monica Wood's family was one of those, her father came to Maine from Prince Edward Island to work at the paper mill. Her family's story is much like many others in Maine, with one important exception. When Monica is in fourth grade, her father dies of a heart attack, and her memoir is about her family and her town in the aftermath of her father's death. When We Were the Kennedys has been described as a "marvel of storytelling."