81 Chapters
Medium 9780892728060

Have you ever visited this sandy site?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Where’s the water, you ask? It’s an unusual looking beach, to say the least. Maybe it’s not a strand at all. These dunes are indeed in a coastal community, not far from Portland. In fact, it may be Maine’s most-visited seaside town. Difficult as it may be to believe from the look of things now, the site used to be a 300-acre farm producing potatoes, hay, and herds of oxen and sheep. Centuries ago, the hungry animals unearthed the mineral sea beneath the grasses and the farm fell by the wayside. Some geologists think maybe the whole area here used to be an ancient lake. When the winds howl, sandstorms tear across the dunes and there are trees that are half submerged in sand and still alive. In a state famous for its rockbound coast, this vast expanse of sand is something of a geologic anomaly, and wherever there are oddities there are people who’ll pay to look at them. It’s no different here. As they have since the thirties, visitors come in droves, paying the entrance fee and enjoying narrated buggy and walking tours through the sands. Nature trails wander throughout the area, a fifty-site campground is adjacent, and there’s a picnic area and a souvenir shop where you can buy sand paintings, moccasins, and Maine-made crafts of all types. See page 98 to learn more information about this sandy anomaly.

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Have you motored through this historic mill town?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Without the man this mill town was named for, honest Abe Lincoln would have been minus a vice president. The Civil War-era second in command, Hannibal Hamlin, was the grandson of that early settler, and the veep’s father was the first physician in this riverside community. Hamlin is the most prominent politician associated with the central Maine burgh, but there were many others, from U.S. congressmen to governors. One local family alone produced four Republicans with national profiles. (Of course, the famous folks who once lived here weren’t all politicos — the inaugural graduate of Colby College spent his formative years in town, as did the Civil War hero who lent his name to Howard University in our nation’s capital.) Even the irascible Samuel Adams had something to do with the goings on here — he was governor of Massachusetts in 1795 when the little municipality was incorporated and he gave it his blessing. Like Adams, the first people to put down roots hereabouts were from greater Boston, and they brought with them farming traditions they learned in the Bay State. Apples were once an important crop, and cheese was also a big seller. When the Industrial Revolution hit, the town — like several others on the same river — turned to papermaking, but the mill closed years back. These days, the community is best known for a venerable, open-air museum of sorts — you might even say history lives here. Have you motored through on your way to the western mountains? Turn to page 99 to find out more about it.

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2. Madden Men: Masculinity, Race, and the Marketing of a Video Game Franchise

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas P. Oates

IN AUGUST 2012, AS THE RELEASE OF EA SPORTSMADDEN NFL 13 video game approached, a months-long marketing blitz peaked with a series of advertisements featuring actor Paul Rudd and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. In the campaign, the two are presented as close, lifelong friends, whose bond is cemented by periodic Madden NFL marathons. The ads are clearly presented with tongue firmly in cheek. The friendship between Rudd and Lewis is offered as a whimsical premise. Rudd is a recognizable film and television actor, best known for roles playing middle-class white professionals. While appearing to be reasonably fit, he would never be mistaken for an NFL player, and though his movies are frequently about masculine themes (see, for example, I Love You, Man; The 40-Year Old Virgin; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), he has never played the role of an action hero. Lewis, meanwhile, is black, was raised in poverty by a single mother in Lakeland, Florida, and was a major NFL star at the time, and hence a visible representative of hegemonic masculinity. The joke turns on the premise that despite the seemingly unbridgeable gaps separating affluence from poverty, white from black, icons of masculinity from the average guy, Rudd and Lewis are improbably buddies. Their friendship goes back to the cradle, as Rudd explains in the first ad in the series: “Oh, man, Ray and I have known each other our whole lives. We grew up together. Best friends!” The rest of the campaign shows the two friends playing the video game, engaging in verbal dueling, boasting, and performing other acts that characterize a certain kind of friendly masculine competition.

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Have you ever driven over this bridge?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Surrounded by a panorama of leaves that seem almost enthusiastic in their glow, and suspended far above one of the state’s most powerful rivers, this bridge neatly frames the antique steeples and spires of a white-clapboarded Yankee village, seemingly embraced by the forest. It’s a scene not easily forgotten — but it looks a little different today. Although the lofty span may seem infinite to gephyrophobes, it’s only the state’s sixth longest, on a well-traveled interstate route not far from the city that calls itself the gateway to the North Woods, and a stone’s throw from one of Maine’s most historic sites. Perhaps you stopped in this small, photogenic community of five thousand for a night or two at the town’s venerable inn? If so, you were in good company, historically speaking. The hostelry is one of the nation’s oldest, with a guest register that has been signed by a host of key figures in the history of the United States — Presidents Jackson, Tyler, Van Buren, and Harrison, as well as Jefferson Davis and Daniel Webster — most of whom came to the area to settle a border dispute with the British. Things were tense again a few years ago, when a small grassroots group stared down and ran out of town a corporation bent on building an enormous coal-fired power plant. There is already a pair of imposing smokestacks on the skyline here; the townspeople made it clear they didn’t want any others. The paper mill at the base of one of those stacks — and the river that flows beside it — provide the economic backbone for the community and many of its neighbors. Look for this view today, of course, and you’ll have a tough time. An equally impressive connector runs through here now — but this stately span remains. See page 101.

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9. Ideology, It’s in the Game: Selective Simulation in EA Sports’ NCAA Football

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Meredith M. Bagley and Ian Summers

ON JULY 9, 2013, THE LEADING SPORTS STORY IN TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, a college town obsessed with its university’s football team, was not predictions for a third straight national championship, not news of yet another five-star recruit, nor updates on injuries and summer training sessions. Instead, inch-high headlines announced “GAME ON: EA Sports Releases NCAA Football 14.”1 Above the text, a color screen shot from the game featured an offensive player in the familiar crimson-and-white jersey breaking tackles on the way to a presumed touchdown. The would-be tacklers happened to be in white and maroon, the colors of Texas A&M, the only team to hand Alabama a loss in its 2012 national championship season. Though completely digital, fabricated, and based on advanced computational formulas, the video game redemption offered by the photo perfectly illustrates the power of simulation-based digital games such as EA Sports’ NCAA Football.

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