A Tale of Two Improv Groups

Ciera Miller Contributing Writer

    On March 29, Lincoln Auditorium was bursting with laughter, and not just from UMF’s resident improv group, The Lawn Chair Pirates (LCP), but also from a special guest improv group, the Teachers Lounge Mafia (TLM). First on their own and then together, the groups fueled stomach splitting shenanigans the entire night.

   Steffon Gales of LCP had worked previously with his Practicum teacher, Dan Ryder, in a earlier LCP/TLM collaboration, and Gales thought it might be fun to have one more performance with the TLM before graduating. Together, the two began planning and soon the night was born.

    Members of both groups were eager for the collaboration. “They were all for it,” Gales said of LCP. Jeff Bailey and Kyla Wheeler of the Teachers Lounge Mafia expressed their own excitement. They’d only had one rehearsal before the performance, and although every improv group has their “own flavor, own vibes”, the two worked well together.

   Audrey Keith, recently inducted into LCP, was nervous but she’d worked with Ryder before as he was one of her previous teachers, so she knew his brand of humor and appreciated it. “It’s a little weird to play ‘Sex is like…’ with my old teacher,” Keith said.

   Even Neil Noilette knew the other group. “I play D&D with Jeff and my dad,” Noilette said, “so it made it easier.” Though he was a little wary as well. “If it’s not good,” Noilette said, “it’s 50% not our fault!”

    But the performance was phenomenal, and 50% of it was LCP’s fault.

    The first third of the show was designated to TLM, to introduce the crowd to a new kind of comedy. LCP agreed that the other group had a more experienced style as they have been doing improv for longer. TLM introduced their game “Clickable”, the exact opposite of LCP’s notorious game “Sniper”, and is incidentally where “Sniper” originated from.

   “Yeah, one of the older members took ‘Clickable’, where you ask a person which character they want to know more about, and thought, ‘Hey, what if instead, you killed them?’” Wheeler said, laughing.

   LCP were up to their own tricks in their third of the show. Memorably, Jeremy Tingdahl and Brock Bubat played ‘Nouner’, where the audience gave Tingdahl three nouns and he had to explain them all to Brock, who had to guess what they were. The first noun laid some heavy unhappiness on Michelle Obama’s school lunch policies, the second took Bubar to France where he’d forgotten what Paris was called and was convinced that Tingdahl’s arm was a baguette, and the third noun brought them to a mountain side where Tingdahl tried help Bubar understand that he wasn’t talking about goats, but about llamas. “Brock, they spit, like this,” Tingdahl had said, then acted it out.

   The two groups melded well together. The way that Ryder and Eil Mowry held (and dropped) Simba at Pride Rock caused the audience to burst into laughter. Eli’s comment “Can’t we just get a new one?” struck a similar chord, followed by Ryder retrieving a new baby that seemed more like a zebra than a lion.

   Keith survived playing “Sex is like…” with her former teacher, and it was just like he was another member of her improv group. In ‘The Dating Game’, Gales’ famous character Julian (a young boy going through puberty) found love with Bailey’s Shakira character, though Hailey Craig’s Captain Marvel and Phil Hobby’s kleptomaniac continuously eating nachos created some competition.

   “There was no need to figure out the chemistry, it was just there,” Gales said. The groups expect to collaborate again in the future. Gales hopes, since it’s his last semester at the UMF, that LCP can continue to interact with the Farmington community after he leaves. “We are part of it,” Gales said, “so we should interact more in it.”

    Gales’ last show is April 27 in Lincoln Auditorium. This show will also be the final LCP performance Nick D’Aleo and Jonas Maines as well. TLM will be performing on April 26 at Mount Blue high school.

Public Hearings about NECEC Held at UMF

Public Hearings about NECEC Held at UMF

By Darby Murnane & Emily Mokler Assistant Editor & Editor-in-Chief


The public forums provided a platform for discussion about the CMP powerline. (Photo by Emily Mokler)

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hosted a week-long collection of hearings and two public forums on the UMF campus to address the proposed Central Maine Power (CMP) transmission line during the first week of April. This project, the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), has been met with controversy from Maine residents as both those for and against the project have voiced concern over how the state’s actions will impact the course of climate change.

   The transmission, according to The Portland Press Herald, will run 145 miles from the Canadian border just north of route 27 to Lewiston, ME, and approximately 50-55 miles of this would be newly constructed lines, the remaining distance consisting of existing lines that would be widened by 75-150 feet. Electricity generated by Quebec Hydropower would be carried to Massachusetts via the NECEC to aid MA. in meeting state green-energy standards. The transmission line is set to run directly through Farmington.

   Many Mainers came forward during the public forums on April 2 and 4 to argue in favor of the line and implored the DEP panel members to take timely and productive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Speakers often cited the estimated 12 years the world has to take proactive steps in reversing climate change before it is too late.

   The project is also meant to provide economic benefits to Mainers as workers will be needed for construction. Matt Marks, CEO of Associated General Contractors of Maine (ACG) spoke at the April 6 forum on behalf of his company to argue for the NECEC job opportunities, stating that AGC had lost 10,000 workers in recent recessions.  “More than 5200 megawatts of oil, coal, and nuclear power plants will be retired from from 2013-2022. And another 5000 megawatts of coal and oil fire generation could retire in a couple years,” Marks said. “We need to replace these plants and 1200 megawatts of clean, reliable hydropower delivered to Lewiston, maine will be the region’s  largest source of electricity from clean energy.”

   Conversely, those speaking against the NECEC expressed fear that environmental damage and greenhouse gas emitted by the construction of the line will outweigh the proposed benefits. As an estimated 50-55 miles of land would be cleared to make way for the transmission line, environmentalist opponents argue that the deforestation and carbon dioxide (CO2) released from clear-cut vegetation essentially cancels out what CO2 is meant to be eliminated by the NECEC.

   Tom Saviello, a former Maine Senator, also spoke at the April 6 forum, adding to the environmental debate with his expertise in forestry, having earned a Phd in Forest Resources from University of Maine. “One tree can absorb as much carbon a year that a car produces while driving 26,000 miles. Over the course of a life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide,” Saviello said. “So if we take the 55 miles of the corridor, that’s 150 feet wide and the rest 70 feet wide, we’ll cut a lot of trees which will equate to about 800,000 pounds of car carbon emissions.”

   There was some discrepancy among speakers about how many trees would actually be cut as many in favor of the line argued that the supposedly pristine wilderness through which the line would run is already crossed by access roads, as well as stretches of working forests such as logging ground. Yet those against the line noted that logged forests are able to regrow, whereas land home to transmissions line are routinely sprayed with herbicides to keep vegetation at bay.

   As Saviello testified before the DEP panel, he also commented on Maine’s legal responsibility in addressing climate via environmental law, stating, “We set goals for Maine, not New England. So I do suggest this part of the law should be addressed as part of the site location permit for [NECEC] can be issued.”

Selling Our Soul to C.M.P.

Madison Lecowitch Contributing Writer


   It was a Tuesday night in the Lincoln Auditorium, and the room was brimming with people who traveled to Farmington from all over Maine. Police officers stood watch inside and outside of the auditorium, an unusual spectacle for a usually quiet campus. The crowd had come to testify for and against the proposed Central Maine Power transmission line at a public forum hosted by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.

   CMP has been one of the most talked about topics in Maine for awhile now, with what seems to be the majority of Maine rallying together in opposition of the transmission line. The proposed line would run 145 miles from Quebec to Lewiston, where it will connect to an existing grid. The energy would be generated by Quebec hydro-power and would supposedly provide Massachusetts with clean energy to help the state decrease their fossil-fuel emissions.

   According to the maps plastered all over the internet, the transmission line would run right through my home town of Livermore Falls. My town has an abundance of wild animals, from turkeys to deer who rely on the forest for everything. The transmission line would destroy more of the habitat local fauna need to survive. Although Livermore Falls is already apart of the existing transmission line, the clearing would need to be widened to provide room for the new lines. More forest would be torn down and more chemicals would be used to keep the trees and other plants from regrowing.

   Many of the individuals in favor of the proposed plan spoke about the line traveling through logging forests that are already damaged. They spoke about how the power line would provide clear cuts for animals to find food. They spoke about how the power line would help reverse climate change and prevent disasters expected to occur in the next twelve years if we don’t drastically change our impact on the environment .

   They forgot to mention that the transmission line would damage recreational sites and undeveloped Maine forests and species through habitat fragmentation. They also forgot to mention that the lower power rates promised to Mainers would only be a few measly bucks, while CMP would make billions of dollars in profit.

   The Natural Resource Council of Maine has even stated that the new transmission line might actually increase climate-changing pollution, instead of decreasing it. The council also stated that line would clear vegetation through, “263 wetlands, across 115 streams and 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas, and near remote Beattie Pond.”

   How would ruining Maine’s natural lands benefit the environment? Isn’t it best for Maine’s ecosystems if we left the woods alone and let the clear-cut plants grow back? Once the transmission line is put up, there will be no replacing cleared trees with new sprouts. Instead, there is the promise of herbicides to keep vegetation from regrowing.

   One of my greatest goals in life is to become a teacher and live happily in Maine. I’ve never felt the need to go anywhere else. I’m always happy when I cross over the Piscataqua River Bridge after a vacation and return to Maine. I want to be able to take long walks in the forest with my family and I want to swim in pristine lakes every summer. I’m not sure if I, or anyone else, could do that if CMP took control of our state. They already control almost all of the power supplied to Maine, and now they have the chance to control Maine’s environment as well.

   Central Maine Power has been in trouble the past year for raising rates for Mainers and now they want to give up valuable Maine land to benefit another state. The people of Maine shouldn’t be selling our land to a company who is owned by large corporation that’s based in Spain.

Central Maine Power has no interest in protecting Maine’s environment and no interest in benefitting the people who live here. 

Opinion: Campus Police Email Limits Outreach of Art Installation

Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

   The familiar ding of an Instagram notification jumped across my phone late on Sunday, March 31. Intrigued, I looked into the profile that had followed me. I wasn’t expecting the incredibly provocative artwork of UnBEARable UMF.

   My first reactions were of intrigue and curiosity. The bravery of this artist to not only spray political graffiti on university buildings but to parade said graffiti on social media was astounding. The passion for spreading awareness that inspired this courage was successful; I immediately looked further into the Yemeni Civil War mentioned in the account’s first post. I also felt a strange reservation— should I follow this account? If I do, will somebody think I did the graffiti?

   This fear emphasized what was so successful in a piece like this. Provocative public artwork lives on a wide spectrum of success, and this piece’s mystery solidified its accomplishment in starting conversation around its focal topics. This conversation was multiplied in the apparent shock that spread through campus in those first 24 hours. Calls to campus police, whispers among friends, and support and rejection of this approach surged across campus, leading to the premature climax of the exhibit: an email from Director of Public Safety, Brock Caton.

   “Paw Prints Are Not Vandalism — The paw prints seen around campus are an on-going art project and do not need to be reported to Campus Police.  For more information, please see the email traffic below.”

   This short interjection into the project stands out as equally fantastic and disappointing. The confirmation of this being “an on-going art project” and not graffiti removed the assumed bravery of the artwork. It remained meaningful, yet lost much of its power. When I see the paw prints scattered across campus I no longer am driven to discover the motivation for such an installation. I no longer had that spark from the first 24 hours— the excitement and drive to understand why this person had been inspired to such bravery. This email violated my experience of the artistic merit of this project, as I’m sure it did for many others. By sending this email as quickly as they did, campus police prevented a number of students from that initial spark of curiosity that was present from Sunday night to Monday morning.

   Was this a perspective that was unique to me? I sat down for a brief conversation with Student Senate Presidential candidate Jess Freeborn on the subject. “I didn’t see any of the paw prints until after the email was sent out. I think people were alarmed by them.” Freeborn said. “I think I would have been more curious if I had seen the artwork before the email.”

   Nick St. Germain, a senior, echoed these sentiments. “[The paw prints] were pointed out to me specifically as an art project. I didn’t see a point to look further into it because it was just an art project. I would’ve been more excited if I’d seen it and thought it was graffiti.”

   I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that both students were robbed of the excitement and curiosity of first seeing the artwork in its purest form. Their perspective had been modified and the artwork had been limited in its reach.

   Was this the correct approach by campus police? As a university with an occasionally provocative arts program, more flexibility from campus police would have been incredibly beneficial. Imagine the conversations spread across campus had that email been sent out later— the historical and contemporary issues raised by UnBEARable UMF would have stood greater ground and the mystery of what would come next would have been an incredible excitement.

DAM Good Eats Presents: The Downtown Press Café

By Eryn Finnegan and Jeremy Austin President and Staff Reporter

   The latest excursion found our food reviewers once again at a local joint: The Downtown Press Café. Located in downtown Farmington on Marceau Court, in the building where the former Asian cuisine restaurant – Sweet Ginger – once operated. Downtown Press Café is known for their wide array of paninis, breakfast sandwiches and signature waffles.

   The inside of the restaurant has received a substantial makeover since its Sweet Ginger days. The walls are now a warm shade of orange and the counter has moved from the corner of the dining room to a more central location right outside of the kitchen. This gives the space a sense of openness, and creates an inviting atmosphere. T-shirts, mugs and other Downtown Press Café merchandise sit on a shelf off to the side next to the restrooms. There’s also a small coffee and tea bar with a cooler of cold beverages.

   Journalism club president Eryn Finnegan kicked off her meal with a small cup of cheeseburger soup (minus the bun). The cheesy broth, vegetables and beef meatballs evoked the flavors of a traditional cheeseburger, and was just small enough to fill her stomach temporarily and keep her hungry for the main course.

   Following the soup, Finnegan dove into the “Sweet Mama,” a panini layered in crisp, smoky ham, fresh pineapples, and enough honey mustard to lightly coat the bread – but not so much that it dripped from the sandwich and made a mess. The honey mustard was key in tying everything together as the blend of flavors was surprisingly sweet and tangy, creating a memorable flavor profile.

   Staff reporter Jeremy Austin ordered the Whistle Stop, a panini consisting of oven roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, provolone and pesto mayo. The combination was absolutely delicious, and has become the standby order for this staff reporter. The sandwich remained clean and intact, yet was still satisfactorily saucy.

   Along with the paninis, the writers split a five-cheese pizza. It had asiago, romano, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella with a marinara base and Italian spices. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple slice of cheese pizza, and this particular one packed a lot of flavor with its blend of cheeses. The pizza was less a pie and more of an elongated flatbread design, giving it a more gourmet appearance.

   Though these reporters were too full by the end of their paninis to experience the sweet side of the Downtown Press Café, dessert options were plentiful and tempting. Dessert offerings can range from cinnamon buns to cupcakes and tarts. In addition to baked goods, the café also offers dessert waffles – with new daily flavors.

   For college students keeping to a tight budget, the Downtown Press Café is worth a try. The café’s menu is plentiful, and a full meal consisting of a panini, a drink, and a soup or a side comes to less than $20.