I've been here for less than 24 hours and I'm being struck in a number of subtle ways about the quirky differences between Maine and other states, including New England ones.
A few of them come from the grocery store. Shopping in the dairy aisle right next to the french onion dip is clam dip. I asked my mom how to eat clam dip and she didn't seem to be too sure if it went on crackers or potato chips.
The best thing about grocery stores in Maine is that you can buy hard liquor there. Hmmm, cereal, soup... whiskey. Nice! That's good old-fashioned libertarianism, the kind of conservative politics that could come back in vogue, if anyone would ever choose to practice them.
There's also the bottle bill redemption. One of my first jobs was working at Star Market and my favorite thing to do was redeem bottles. It was sort of like a carnival game, trying to get the right bottle in the right bin as fast as you could, they needed to be sorted by size. (Although in the summer sometimes people tried to get money for bottles they had collected in the woods or on the streets and they were filled with things that were growing in them and smelled. Disgusting.)
But long ago Massachusetts, along with, I thought, almost every other state, jettisoned the bottle redemption concept. Not Maine, set in its ways.
And then there's the beach. The sun actually has come out today, after we left, of course. But it was probably about 70 degrees and cloudy. Almost no one at the beach stripped down to their bathing suits.
Beachgoing in Maine, to me, seems confinded to sitting in chairs and watching children make sand castles, as their ankles freeze in a few inches of ocean water.
* * *
The Thrashers got the right player in 6-foot-6 Nik Antropov, but seems to me that they way overpaid and did it in a somewhat desperate effort to retain Ilya Kovalchuk beyond this season.
Antropov was long an enigma to fans in Toronto. With his tremendous size, much more was expected of him than hitting the 20-goal plateau only twice in nine seasons.
However, he seems like he could be one of the few forwards capable of meshing with Kovalchuk in the rare way that singular talents like Dany Heatley and Marc Savard have in the past.
Compare Antropov's pay to another Thrashers winger, Slava Kozlov. Kozlov, who has recorded 71 points or more in three of the last four seasons, will make $3.85 million this coming season.
Antropov, who signed a four-year, $16-million deal, is coming off a career (contract) year in which he recorded highs in points (59) and goals (28). Only two other times in his career has Antropov hit 45 points or more.
Antropov will be 30 in February, Kozlov 37 in May, so that accounts for a large part of the pay disparity.
Still, it's a lot of money for a two-time 20-goal scorer. Take a look at how fast salaries have escalated. Savard signed a four-year, $20 million deal after 2005-06 and last season he ranked among NHL centers in points. That contract came after Savard finished in the top 10 in the NHL in points.
Seems to me that Atlanta overpaid for Antropov as much for being able to entice fellow ethnic Russian and pal Kovalchuk to re-sign in Atlanta beyond the coming season as much as they did for what he can do on the ice.