Down East 2013 ©
As part of this feature’s ongoing series profiling Mainers who have distinguished themselves in the great big world beyond the Piscataqua River Bridge, this week I am distressed to inform you that nobody qualified.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe hasn’t yet managed to come up with a workable compromise on health-care reform. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell hasn’t figured out how to bring peace to the Middle East. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree did show up on “The Colbert Report” without embarrassing us. Too much. But that’s scarcely a qualification for such a high honor.
To earn the distinction of being singled out here for adoration, one must have accomplished something that can stand comparison with the likes of:
Joshua Chamberlain – who has a beer named after him.
Percival Baxter – who has a park named after him. (Apparently, his middle name was “Acadia.”)
Margaret Chase Smith – who has a center named after her. And maybe the town of Smithfield. I’ll have to check on that.
Still, there’s space – well, more like cyberspace – to be filled here on a weekly basis, which means, I’m afraid, that I’ll simply have to lower my standards. This week’s profile does not reach the standards set by such Mainers as Hannibal Hamlin (who marched across the Alps to defeat Rome). Nor by Rudy Vallee (who sang to Hannibal’s elephants to keep them from panicking). Nor by the Diet Coke and Mentos guys (who dropped Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke and threw the gushing mess at the Romans).
This week, I’m reduced to profiling Kyle Rankin , a former Portland resident now living in Los Angeles, who wrote and directed the movie “Infestation,” which premiered on the SyFy channel on Saturday, August 8.
Rankin and sometimes partner Efram Potelle used to do a local-access cable TV show, which featured the sort of humor rarely found on a Web site associated with an esteemed publication such as Down East. They used words that I doubt ever passed the lips of Hannibal Hamlin and discussed sex acts that never would have occurred to Margaret Chase Smith.
Despite all that, Rankin has somehow made it to the big time. Or at least the lower edge of the medium time. His flick, which cost $5 million, was produced by none other than Mel Gibson. I assume Mel was sober when he signed the deal.
I felt duty-bound to watch “Infestation,” even at the cost of numerous brain cells. I imagine I displayed the sort of determination General Chamberlain exhibited during the Battle of the Bulge. Except I probably drank more bourbon.
Rankin’s movie is one of a hoard of features that attempts to emulate the success of “Shaun of the Dead,” which is to say it tries to blend humor and horror into an amalgam called “hurror.” I guess this explains the choice of pie-faced Chris Marquette (famous for his appearance in … hmmm, it’ll come to me) as the slacker hero. Marquette is slightly less than humorous and slightly more than horrible.
“Infestation” was filmed in Bulgaria, because it was cheap and many of the residents already look like movie monsters. The only hint of the flick’s Maine origins is a quick reference to WLBZ-TV. The weather girl there gets eaten.
The story has something to do with giant bugs attacking humans. In general, I rooted for the bugs. (Sorry, weather girl.) But that disloyalty to my species could have been caused by the bourbon. Toward the end of the film, I was struck by the thought that Percival Baxter probably used his Saturday nights more productively. He also probably drank better booze.
Oh, wait, I remember. Chris Marquette was in a movie called “The Day The Dead Weren’t Dead,” which went direct to video. And I think he was on “Law & Order” once about 12 years ago.
OK, so nobody from this state did anything earth-shaking last week. That doesn’t mean Maine was ignored. In fact, it was featured on a postage stamp , one of only 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia to be so honored.
The stamp shows the state flag (that’s Rudy Vallee depicting the sailor and the farmer is played by Chris Marquette), as well as a moose (portrayed by Mel Gibson) in front of a few pine trees (although they look sort of like spruce to me) and some hills. At the unveiling, Gov. John Baldacci said the stamp’s design stood for the working people of Maine, a statement that made about as much sense as the plot of “Infestation.”
Speaking of infestations, one Portland city councilor has done his part to see that the state is spared an invasion of vacationing motorcycle riders and their saddlebags full of disposable income .
Councilor John Anton got an e-mail recently from a Massachusetts biker upset with a proposed municipal ordinance to limit the noise motorcycles make within city limits. Anton, displaying all the political acumen of the average moose, told the guy to pound sand. Predictably, the biker shared this response with others of his ilk, adding his personal belief that cyclists should avoid spending money in Maine until such time as Anton is carried off by giant bugs.
At week’s end, attempts were being made to reach a compromise. George Mitchell had proposed a plan whereby Anton could escape the enormous pinchers of mutant beetles if he agreed to go to the Middle East, where he’d be required to convince the various factions to pass laws limiting the noise of warfare.
Mel Gibson has already inquired about obtaining the movie rights. Chris Marquette is believed to be the frontrunner to play Anton. Rumor has it Chellie Pingree will do a cameo as one of the beetles.
While I’m on the subject of oversized bugs, it’s worth mentioning that it’s been a good week to be a Maine lobster. That’s because many of the people who normally devote their working hours to catching the tasty crustaceans are instead occupied with trying to destroy each other.
As lobster prices have plummeted , tempers have been lost.
Nobody can quite explain why any of this is happening, which raises suspicions that it may be the plot of Kyle Rankin’s next movie. If so, Chris Marquette is in line to play a sunken boat. Mel Gibson will play an angry drunk guy. And Olympia Snowe will portray Hannibal Hamlin.
I need to stock up on bourbon.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .