1. You and your party have set out from the snowy wilds, and make haste towards the Old Town. A human paladin, an elven bard, a dwarf warrior and a half-orc rogue, attired in appropriate gear for battle, arrive at the gates of the Black Bear Inn, ready to engage in a game of wits and possibly (though hopefully not) bloodshed. Thankfully, the bloodshed will be entirely of the imaginary kind, and the appropriate gear for battle is more hand-crafted helmets and weapons, put on in preparation for the fourth annual SnowCon gaming convention, designed specifically for lovers of all things Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, Axis and Allies, Star Wars, Magic: The Gathering and everything in between. The event, set for the whole weekend of January 13-15, kicks off Friday night with the annual “So You Meet In a Tavern” celebration, set for 8 to 11 p.m. at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono, featuring fanboy standup comedian Sax Carr and DJ Scavenger from Gothic Maine’s Plague in Portland spinning Goth/Darkwave/Industrial; it’s 21 plus, and $5, free with SnowCon preregistration. The word is you can purchase a Gary Gygax Shot at the bar; I’m thinking it’s somewhere in between a Gelatinous Ooze and a Jell-o shot. The official convention kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Black Bear Inn in Old Town, when more than 20 different games will be played in a variety of time slots until 11 p.m. at night, on both Saturday and Sunday. Bring your 20-sided dice, your tiny metal figurines and your carefully assembled decks, and get ready to get nerdy. And don’t worry: I use nerd as a true term of endearment. It’s $45 for the full weekend, or $30 per day.
2. In Bangor, there’s plenty of fun live music this weekend. River Bottom Funk reigns supreme on Friday night at The Big Easy at the Charles Inn. Also on Friday are the Blood Orange Martinis, a local blues group, set for Paddy Murphy’s, and at the Bear Brew downstairs from the SnowCon event you can see acoustic wonder Sam Shain. On Saturday, you can catch the Queen City bluegrass kings the Main Street 2 from 8 to 11 p.m. at Nocturnem Drafthaus, as well as the rock duo the Thriftways at Paddy Murphy’s. Up the road, songwriter Jacob McCurdy plays at Woodman’s in Orono on Saturday.
3. After you’ve dug yourself out from the snow today, there’s lots to do in southern Maine, of course. The Space Gallery has the Bad Luck Bazaar on Friday night, featuring the Dirty Dishes Burlesque Revue and the Pussyfoot Burlesque, along with aerial theatre troupe Apparatus Dance Theatre and music from Over a Cardboard Sea. Admission is $9 at the door. At Port City Music Hall, you can get your dubstep on with a variety of DJs, and at Bayside Bowl you can knock down a few strikes and boogie to r&b/soul band the Flipsides. Jacob Augustine plays a solo show Friday night at St. Lawrence Arts Center, and Volcano Rabbit, Worried Well and Boxes play at Flask Lounge, also on Friday. Finally, out in Biddeford, the Oak and the Ax plays host to electro-rock band the Cyborg Trio on Friday night, and songwriters and guitarists Dan Blakeslee and Samuel James on Saturday.
4. Oscar season is heating up, and there’s of course lots to see in area theaters. Railroad Square Cinema hosts “The Descendents” and “Carnage,” all of which feature Oscar-worthy performances, as well as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” The Colonial Theatre in Belfast has “Hugo,” the delightful Martin Scorsese film, along with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which of course is at every major movie theater around. Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor’s also got “Hugo,” and even though it’s not this weekend, starting this Wednesday the Grand Theatre offers up Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” Check websites for showtimes.
5. Finally, guess what? We got snow! Which means for all those inclined to strap things to your feet or hop on board a loud motorized unprotected vehicle, it’s FINALLY time to ski/skate/sled/snowmobile. Praise the snow gods! Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Saddleback and everyone else are, I’m sure, utterly thrilled, and I know of lots of people out there who have been waiting patiently for weeks for this day. So what are you waiting for? Get outside!