I applaud Penobscot Theatre’s Christmas Carol for its fidelity to the original Charles Dickens’ novel published in 1843. In addition to providing momentum and variety, the chorus allows playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger to incorporate the novel’s witty narrator and Dickens’ vivid descriptions of 19th-century London into her adaptation. Dickens’ delightful dialogue and colorful language together with a brilliant historic set, elegant period costumes and a talented ensemble of actors transport our Bangor audience to early Victorian England.
Time-tested wisdom can become cliche and immortal literature risks becoming hackneyed or trite. Literature that lends itself to drama or film is especially vulnerable to trivialization. More than a century of “intertextuality” has produced actors and directors who are more conscious of Lionel Barrymore’s, George C. Scott’s or Kelsey Grammar’s Scrooge than they are of Dickens’ original work or his characters.
Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge is neither monster nor caricature: He is a flawed human being — who might be you or I. He is my father, your spouse, our neighbor or acquaintance. The success of the novel and the play depend on Scrooge’s humanity and his complex character which actor Joseph Lane powerfully renders.
The Penobscot’s Christmas Carol convinces us of the possibility of human change and of the transformative power of dream and art.
associate professor of English
University of Maine
It with great Christmas delight that I learned that our representatives lead not only Maine’s growing population but also all of our nation in calling for a printed warning on cell phones!
Doctors long have known our young ones are at special risk, being not as hard of skull as us older Mainers. Yet, telephone companies lobby our youngsters without a single thought for their health.
The safe passage of this bill is all I want for Christmas. I’m certain in the years ahead, the foresight of our current leaders will lead to a barrage of studies and research into the safety of these ubiquitous devices.
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While some of us scrambled to be sure we had everything for Christmas, others were at work away from home. There are a dozen or so working in Virginia trying to restore power to all those that have been out since last Friday’s storm.
My brother called on Christmas Eve to tell me he would not be home for Christmas. At first I was really bummed, but he told me stories of the gratitude of the people in Virginia: “One single mother came out in tears thanking us for what we had done. She had a little baby and they were stuck in their home without heat.”
And a little boy ran out and thanked him “for the best Christmas ever.” Moments later their Christmas lights came on. My brother and his crew don’t have to be there. They could be home with their own families, enjoying all the comforts of a traditional Christmas.
They climb over mountains through snow, scouting utility poles for power companies and relaying trouble spots to the power crews. They are working 14-16 hours a day to help others. I am very proud of my brother and his crew. They have reminded me that Christmas is more than presents under the tree. I would like to thank all of those who are away from home so we can enjoy so much.
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Health care Scrooges
Here it is, Christmas, and a handful of Scrooges in the Senate have robbed the American people of the public option in the health insurance reform package they plan to vote upon. I hope Congress calls out the Democratic senators who are holding up the whole nation in this rare opportunity to really move us forward. I hope the final package includes the public option for health insurance.
I do not want to be forced to pay premiums to a big corporation that has a long history of putting profits above its customer’s health care needs. Will this “reform” just be another corporate bail out of sorts, mandating insurance for all to assist with the straining weight of baby boomer aging and imminent health care expenses?
This Christmas season I wish our senators would lead the whole country toward a real solution for the health care crisis we are facing, instead of being self-interested Scrooges missing the opportunity to make a positive difference in our quality of life.
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Reforms are needed
I am the owner of a small construction business, a parent, and the consumer over the years of seemingly every form of health insurance offered in our present system, from MaineCare to Dirigo to private, for-profit insurance. Though the public plans have been more affordable, even free, I’m here to testify that the whole system is broken and desperately needs the reforms currently being debated in Congress.
Often lost in the more contentious debates over hot topic items in the reform legislation are the simple changes that would improve the process of choosing, acquiring and keeping health insurance. Insurance exchanges would be created in every state, allowing consumers to more easily compare and contrast the benefits and costs of competing health plans. For the first time, national standards for health insurance would be established, requiring, for instance, that insurers cover preventive care, not bar people from their plans because of pre-existing conditions and remove lifetime caps on benefits. These exchanges would also standardize insurance coverage — for instance, a single claim form instead of the flurry of different paper with which patients and doctors must now deal.
The proposed reforms would do much more, such as strengthening Medicare by eliminating the so-called “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage and adding years to the life of the trust fund. But if all it did was make our current fractured system a little more rational, it would well deserve the support of our two senators.
More careful counting
This letter is written to provide more accuracy to the numbers in the BDN’s Dec. 18 editorial, “Feeding the Needy.”
Maine’s food stamp users’ total is set at 222,261, or 1 in 7 in the population. This is actually too small a ratio and sets the state population at 1,555,827. I’ve never seen it to be this high.
Maine’s 2008 estimated population is 1,316,456 and the real ratio is 1 in 5.923 persons in Maine. This is 16.88 percent of the population instead of 14.28 percent; 34,196 more food stamp users than the smaller 1 in 7 ratio; which amounts to 188,065 recipients using the 2008 population number.
Obviously, overall, these numbers are not immensely important. However, for a daily newspaper commanding a high quality rating nationally, crunching numbers in a professional manner is a prerequisite for journalistic success.