Lifestyle – Press Herald Tue, 22 Aug 2017 14:58:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Horoscopes for Aug. 22, 2017 Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:53:21 +0000 0, 22 Aug 2017 07:53:21 +0000 Norman Rockwell rendering nets $1.6 million Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:38:11 +0000 DALLAS — A rendering by Norman Rockwell of one of his best known baseball-themed paintings has sold at auction for $1.6 million.

The work was a study, or a preliminary work, for Rockwell’s “Tough Call.”

The painting depicts three umpires looking skyward pondering whether to call a game because of rain. It’s arguably the most recognizable of his baseball-themed works.

Heritage Auctions said the painting sold Sunday in Dallas to a buyer who wants to remain anonymous.

The Austin family who put the work up for auction thought they just had a print of the work before they had it examined.

The final painting is in the possession of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

]]> 0 rendering by Norman Rockwell was a preliminary work for Rockwell's "Tough Call."Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:38:11 +0000
Bill Cosby retains lawyer of Michael Jackson Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:30:37 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby has hired Michael Jackson’s former lawyer to represent him at his November retrial on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania.

Cosby’s spokesman announced Monday that the 80-year-old comedian is bringing in Tom Mesereau to lead a retooled defense team. Lawyers from the first trial in June had said they wanted off the case.

Mesereau won an acquittal in Jackson’s 2004 child molestation trial. He has also represented boxer Mike Tyson, rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight and a Playboy bunny.

Mesereau will be joined by former federal prosecutor Kathleen Bliss, as well as Sam Silver, who represented now-imprisoned former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania in a corruption case.

—From news services

]]> 0 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:30:37 +0000
‘Strut!’ is a toe-tapping stroll through a golden age of American songwriting Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:50:13 +0000 Despite its title, the latest co-production from Portland Stage and the Maine State Music Theatre doesn’t go all night. But it does give the four talented performers at its center time to strut their tuneful stuff.

“The All Night Strut!” is an upbeat musical revue that fills its 70 minutes with more than two dozen songs, mainly from the 1930s and ’40s. There’s less cultural history included than in last year’s lively co-production, “The Irish … and How They Got That Way.” Nonetheless, the show tries hard to suggest an indomitable optimism that kept toes tapping and hearts thumping during a period marked by hard times and world war.

In a multi-level set made to resemble a mid-century, midtown nightclub stage, Curt Dale Clark, Missy Dowse, Bryant Martin and Esther Stilwell, accompanied by an onstage piano/bass/drums trio, perform classic material from what many believe was a golden age of American songwriting. Adding touches of period dance stylings and bits of comedy, the cast works hard to fill in the nostalgic details.

At Friday’s opening, the foursome got under way with a take on “Chattanooga Choo Choo” that allowed each performer a chance to establish his or her individual place within the harmony. At the high end was Dowse, with Stilwell just a step below, then came Clark’s tenor just above the bottom set by Martin.

The quartet’s identity would be confirmed as the evening went along through such numbers as “Lullaby of Broadway,” the ever-popular “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) and a laid-back “Dream.”

Stilwell put some growl into her lead on the racy “Minnie the Moocher” as well as some gospel spirit into a rousing “Operator.”

Dowse added girlish attitude to “In the Mood” and a plaintive charm to “I’ll Be Seeing You,” the latter part of a medley that also paid a visit to the heroic “Rosie the Riveter.”

Martin set an intimate tone with his take on “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” while Clark did the same on “As Time Goes By,” a song suggesting the sort of shared passages this show is all about.

Between-the-acts costume changes plus the employment of some hats, boas, furs and a few props kept the visuals fresh, as did the mostly subtle but occasionally flashy lighting effects.

Director Buddy Reeder, staff and crew have brought this swinging Fran Charnas show to life for a fun end to the summer season.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Martin, Missy Dowse, Esther Stilwell and Curt Dale Clark in "The All Night Strut."Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:28:04 +0000
Hackmatack Playhouse closing 45th season with fantastic ‘Fantasticks’ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:39:54 +0000 Hackmatack Playhouse is closing out its 45th anniversary season with a production that’s a walk down memory lane. “The Fantasticks” was the third show of the playhouse’s opening season in 1972. After 44 years of requests, the musical returns to the barn stage with a quaint rendition that lives up to its tongue-in-cheek title.

Marcus Provost sets the scene as the story’s puppet master narrator, El Gallo, lulling the audience with a beautifully rich performance of “Try to Remember.” From there, the satirical fable unfolds, introducing the audience to a girl (Mai Hartwich), a boy (Will Lombard), the girl’s father (Todd Fernald) and the boy’s father (Christopher Gempp).

It’s an improbable tale, filled with proverbial meaning, as the boy and girl fall in love, secretly manipulated by their fathers, who have built a wall to feign a feud.

Mai Hartwich and Will Lombard as Luisa (The Girl) and Matt (The Boy), with Marcus Provost as El Gallo (The Narrator) in “The Fantasticks.” Photo by Michael Turner/Courtesy of Hackmatack Playhouse

Lombard offers an adorable and campy performance as the boy, Matt, head-over-heels for the girl, Luisa. His character is a lovesick puppy dog who views Luisa through rose-colored glasses, unable to see her flaws by the light of the silvery moon. Hartwich matches him, offering up a character who is capricious and whimsical. Her high soprano vocals ring crystal-clear on such songs as “Much More” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” a duet with Lombard.

The musical is filled with ironic humor, providing commentary on life and theatrical constructs. Fernald and Gempp delight as the fathers, Bellomy and Hucklebee. The expressive actors are a riot, parceling out truths on “Never Say No” and hamming it up on the metaphorical “Plant a Radish.” They also shine on “It Depends on What You Pay,” backing the ever-charming Provost as the scheming narrator.

Gary Locke and Alec Paulson add over-the-top comic flair as Henry (The Old Actor) and Mortimer (The Man Who Dies). The pair keeps the laughter flowing, popping up throughout the play in sublimely farcical costumes by designer Emily Karel.

Ben Hanley rounds out the cast as The Mute, as well as El Gallo’s co-conspirator, the prop guy and various scene staples like the aforementioned wall. Musical director Adam MacDougall and Laura Jordan lend orchestration on piano and percussion from the back wings of the stage, comically poking their heads out on cue to add to the play’s deliberate absurdity.

Hackmatack’s “The Fantasticks” revels in the ridiculous, heaping witticisms on top of life lessons. With an ironically beautiful score and fun-filled cast, it’s an entertaining way to close out the season.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

Twitter: @ahboyle

]]> 0 Hartwich and Will Lombard as Luisa (The Girl) and Matt (The Boy), with Marcus Provost as El Gallo (The Narrator) in "The Fantasticks."Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:08:27 +0000
Bare Portland stages imaginative interpretation of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:22:27 +0000 Anyone who has tried to remove old wallpaper knows that it can be a frustrating task. Imagine what it would be like if you thought the wallpaper was trying to remove you.

The intrepid Bare Portland theater company has devised a collaborative, site-specific and immersive piece based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic 1892 short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

The story concerns the descent of a woman, apparently suffering from a postpartum illness, into madness as she reacts to restrictions imposed on her by her family. Viewed as an early feminist work, the story asks the reader to consider whether her situation reflects a society-wide oppression of women.

This theater piece wanders around its subject, revealing what’s beneath the many layers of social convention that Gilman creatively decried. Traditional marital and medical biases are imaginatively explored with an emphasis on keeping things unsettling.

Under the direction of JJ Peeler, performers Catherine Buxton, Diana Clarke, Allie Freed, Tarra Haskell, Mackenzie O’Connor and James Patefield toss passages from Gilman’s story, as well as some original dialogue, from one to the other as they roam the relatively small, warehouse-like performance space.

In black tops with loose-fitting long skirts, the performers moved under suspended strands of lace, through flying shreds of paper and past hung patches of cloth, while draped sheets surrounded and ensnared them. Multi-angled, often hand-held lighting followed them up ramps and around the room.

Bits of percussion, ringing bells, singing and vocal chants provided more dimensions, as did some puppetry and a silent movie sequence. Sly humor and meta-comments from the performers added spice.

Audience involvement was encouraged in this piece that otherwise appeared to have been quite carefully prepared. The lack of separation between performers and audience made it an unusual theatrical experience.

A final anguished denouement served up the serious punch that Gilman packed into a story that clearly inspired the bold and adventurous artists of Bare Portland.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Freed and Tarra Haskell in "The Yellow Wallpaper."Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:28:56 +0000
Ex Eye highlights a night of genre-bending sounds at Space Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:06:59 +0000 If you’ve been searching for concerts where the boundaries separating musical genres are swept away, or at least pointedly ignored, Space Gallery was the place to be on Sunday evening. The three acts on the bill have bona fides in several varieties of rock – various strains of metal, prog and experimental rock, mostly – but also links to jazz and classical music. And they are not hesitant to follow their influences wherever they lead.

The main draw was Ex Eye, the latest project of Colin Stetson, a busy saxophonist who, apart from his own albums, is known for his work with Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits. Ex Eye uses growling drones, feedback, machine-gun drumming and sheer noise to create works in which the insistent, assaulting energy of metal takes on an almost symphonic heft.

The support groups took very different, notably quieter approaches. Guitarist Jordan Guerette, from the Portland band Falls of Rauros, played gently turned chamber music with his quintet, Forêt Endormie, which brings together electric guitar and keyboard, violin, cello and percussion. And Nat Baldwin, formerly of the Dirty Projectors, sang gracefully quirky, jazz-tinged songs, including several from his 2014 “In the Hollows” album, accompanying himself on the double bass.

Stetson is the kind of player whose musical interests are so broad that you never know quite what to expect when he turns up with something new. The three volumes of “New History of Warfare” he released between 2008 and 2013 are filled with rhythmic experiments, morphing electronic textures, intertwined spoken and sung passages, and explorations of the deep tone and assertiveness of the baritone sax. But he also devoted an album, “Sorrow” (2016), to a heavily electronic but texturally fluid reconfiguration of Henryk Mikolaj Górecki’s Symphony No. 3. And on his latest solo album, “All This I Do For Glory” (2017), his saxophone lines are woven into an electronic edifice built of looped beats and quasi-Minimalist synthesizer figures.

Ex Eye is unlike any of those projects. A collaboration with guitarist Toby Summerfield, keyboardist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Greg Fox, Ex Eye released an eponymous debut album at the end of June. At Space, the band played the album from start to finish, keeping fairly close to the recorded versions, but with room for some vivid improvisation and interplay, most notably between Summerfield’s guitar shredding and Stetson’s alternately controlled and unhinged alto and baritone sax solos.

Summerfield’s playing, in fact, was far more vivid at Space than on the recording – especially in the final two pieces, “Form Constant; The Grid” and “Tten Crowns; The Corruptor,” thanks to a sound mix that put him more out front, less bathed in reverb. Ismaily’s keyboard contributions, on the other hand, are more nuanced on disc; live, they are often swept into the roar of the full ensemble. Fox’s magnificently varied, high-energy drumming is equally vivid in both forms.

Hearing through that roar can be challenging at first, but if you surrender to it, the droning figures that begin several of the pieces gradually give way to varied rhythms and chord progressions, and subtly shifting textures. And the overtones and feedback sometimes yield phantom sounds – the illusion, for example, of a distant choir, floating over the crackling ensemble drone.

At the ensemble’s bottom end, the intense focus of Stetson’s rhythmic baritone sax figures sometimes called to mind the grandeur of early King Crimson, or suggested what an idiosyncratic group like Morphine (also built around a baritone sax, but given to lighter textures) would have sounded like if it had become a metal band. Mostly, though, Ex Eye is sui generis: Just when you’re tempted to think of it as pure metal, Stetson’s saxophone reminds you that it’s really something more complex and undefinable.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:32:18 +0000
Book review: In her latest novel, Gabrielle Zevin reimagines Monica Lewinsky’s infamous affair Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:24:10 +0000 Monica Lewinsky was neither the first, nor the last, political intern to gain notoriety for a sex scandal. She was, however, an early example of how a news story can morph into a punchline and become part of our national history, via the internet.

Though her infamy dates back two decades, people still opine about “that woman,” as if we actually know her. It’s a narrative as fixed as Mount Rushmore in the public imagination. In the face of this, acclaimed author Gabrielle Zevin has reimagined the Lewinsky tale in an irresistible new novel, “Young Jane Young.”

It’s 1999, when 20-year-old Aviva Grossman starts her internship in the office of Aaron Levin, a married congressman from South Florida. Hired as a gofer, Aviva proves herself savvy in the brave new world of internet searching. She becomes known as the “fact-check girl.” As a result, she wins the attention of her boss, a charmer who enjoys hanging out with the young staff. One thing leads to another, and their affair begins.

After Levin is in a car accident, however, an investigation ensues – and with it, the outing of their affair and the blog Aviva wrote anonymously about her internship. Thus “Avivagate” is born, followed by years of public humiliation and slut-shaming. Aviva, whose blunder metastasizes online, instantly becomes a pariah. The congressman, meanwhile, goes on to win yet more terms in office.

Gabrielle Zevin

In one sense, this is a story about the modernizing of shame – its speed, cruelty and permanence in the digital age. “In high school, you read ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ and it occurs to you that this is what the internet is like,” Aviva says. “The discovery of your shame is one click away.” Then later: “You need to find employment, but you are internet infamous. There is nowhere you can move that is far enough away. … The problem is your name.”

The power of Zevin’s book lies in its main characters, a quirky estrogen-laced tribe; the book’s multi-layered structure; and the big-heartedness at its core. Zevin has divided the book into five sections, each representing a key player, and the story gains depth as it moves back and forth in time.

We meet Rachel Grossman, the helicopter mom whose daughter brings shame upon the family; Jane Young, formerly Aviva, who has changed her name and decamped to Allison Springs, Maine, near Portland, where she starts a new life as a wedding planner; Ruby, Jane’s plucky young daughter; and Embeth Levin, wife of the philandering congressman. Finally we meet Aviva herself, whose version of events unfolds in the second-person style of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series.

Zevin’s defense of Jane is a plea for sanity and compassion. The author contrives a series of ironic, often funny, encounters that show how Aviva’s past continues to stalk Jane, and even her mother, in the present. At one extreme is the man who, upon hearing the forename Aviva, launches into a tirade about the scandal that was a blight on South Florida, the Jews, politicians, even civilization. This, on a first date with long-divorced Rachel, who now goes by her maiden name.

“What if Aviva weren’t my daughter?” she says, refusing a second date. “Should you really talk about anyone’s daughter that way?”

Other views range from forgiving and nonchalant – Aviva committed adultery, not murder, and besides, who cares? – to livid and betrayed, which is how Ruby reacts when she discovers her mother’s history.

Finally, it’s Rachel who makes peace with it all, years later, when she says to Jane, “What did you do? It was sex. He was ancient. You were a girl. It was a bunch of narishkeit. Everyone in Florida behaved like little babies.”

Readers of Zevin’s 2014 bestseller, “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry,” will recall the ease and charm of her storytelling, which also permeates the current book. Part morality tale, part coming-of-age story, “Young Jane Young” portrays a three-dimensional woman whose character far exceeds the single slice of her youthful affair.

We see Jane as the naive mistress; rebellious, lost daughter; and adoring mother, with her own ambitions, to boot. Not only does she build a new life for herself and Ruby, but she’s running for mayor of Allison Springs, backed by the town’s matriarch and newspaper publisher.

“Young Jane Young” is a testament to second chances and reclaiming one’s own narrative. It’s a feminist anthem – triumphant, earthy and hopeful. And it’s a terrific read. One can’t help wondering whether and how it may reshape the public perception of Monica Lewinsky.

Joan Silverman writes op-eds, essays and book reviews. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News.

]]> 0 ZevinMon, 21 Aug 2017 17:03:27 +0000
Where to dine with your dog in Greater Portland Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:14:57 +0000 0<a href="" target="_blank">EAST ENDER</a> <br> 47 Middle St., Portland<br> The outdoor space is small here – basically some sidewalk seating – but the restaurant welcomes dogs and keeps a water dish on hand. The chefs are known to sneak out of the kitchen once in a while to say hello to their canine customers.<br> <em>Staff photo by Jill Brady</em>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:19:42 +0000 Horoscopes for Aug. 21, 2017 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:01:52 +0000 0, 18 Aug 2017 14:24:52 +0000 Auction of Maine art collection will benefit Animal Refuge League Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland usually finds new homes for cats, dogs and other pets. But a unique donation of 47 paintings valued at least at $70,000 has the refuge league seeking owners for artwork.

The collection came from an anonymous donor and features work from a variety of well-known Maine artists. The pieces will be sold during a three-day summer auction event at Thomaston Place Auction Center in Thomaston to benefit the Westbrook animal shelter. The gift is one of the most valuable that the nonprofit has received this year.

“It’s a significant donation of art,” said Patsy Murphy, executive director of the Animal Refuge League. “This gift allows us to invest in ourselves and invest in the future for the work that we do.”

Murphy declined to name the benefactor or provide any details about the person because he or she wants to remain anonymous. This is the largest gift that person has given to the Animal Refuge League.

Most of the paintings are contemporary pieces that depict Maine’s natural landscapes and ocean scenes, although one painting of Portland Harbor dates back to the 19th century. The individual pieces are valued between $400 and $4,000.

“It’s really noteworthy that it’s such an amazing collection by a diverse number of Maine painters,” said Carol Achterhof, an auctioneer and cataloger at Thomaston Place. “It’s rare you’re going to find such a diverse and large collection in one place. It’s kind of a one-stop shop if you are looking for Maine art.”

The artists include names such as Connie Hayes, Marsha Donahue, Eric Hopkins, Leo Brooks and William Thon. While many of these artists are still living and creating new work, Achterhof said the auction also is an opportunity to purchase paintings by artists who have died. Brooks passed away in 1993; Thon died in 2000 and is also known for bequeathing $4 million to the Portland Museum of Art.

“Some of these paintings are really special,” Achterhof said.

Discussions about the donation began while the Animal Refuge League was building its new 25,000-square-foot shelter, which opened last year behind its former home on Stroudwater Street. The shelter previously operated in three separate buildings with a combined 12,000 square feet. The new location brought all operations under one roof with modern features such as a surgical center, isolation rooms for sick animals and outdoor play areas.

Annually, the nonprofit handles about 3,000 adoptions and returns about 1,000 lost pets to their owners.

“The conversation started around the time we finished construction of the new building, when we were talking about the interior of the building and our desire to have a clean, contemporary welcoming space for the animals,” Murphy said.

The shelter itself wasn’t quite the right home for paintings worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, however.

“The thought of cat hair and dog hair and dander on these paintings was problematic,” Murphy said.

So they turned to the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries.

The Animal Refuge League began working with the gallery six years ago, and an auctioneer from Thomaston Place handles bidding at the yearly Fur Ball, the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser. The donated paintings will be part of a three-day summer auction event, which will include more than 1,400 items.

Bidding will start at 11 a.m. Friday. The first 46 pieces on the block will be from the Animal Refuge League collection, and the final painting – the 1880s painting of Portland Harbor by Franklin Stanwood – will be available on the second day. Bidding can take place in person, over the phone or online, and more information is available at

The paintings are on display in the gallery in Thomaston, which is open Monday through Friday. The collection can also be viewed online and in the printed gallery catalog.

“I think it’ll be a combination of private buyers who want to have something nice in their homes, and we’ll probably also see some dealers and galleries,” Achterhof said.

The proceeds from the paintings will go in part to the Animal Refuge League operating budget, which is $2.5 million annually. It will also pay for special projects, such as the repurposing of the old shelter on Stroudwater Street. The Animal Refuge League currently uses the building for storage, but it plans to expand its training and behavior department in that space.

“There are creative and innovative ways for nonprofits to receive gifts like this,” Murphy said. “It’s about being open and hearing your donors, having conversations with your supporters, checking in and really planning for the future.”

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]> 0 Handlen's "Coastal Farm with Figures" is one of 47 paintings donated to the nonprofit that protects animals.Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:54:38 +0000
Waterville volunteers help growing numbers of Mainers to read Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:55:33 +0000 On a sunny day in July, Mona Gagnon, 54, sat at a table in her home writing in a workbook provided by Literacy Volunteers Waterville Area. She focused on an exercise asking her to separate words into syllables and then rewrite them.

Howard Gagnon, her husband, leaned over and waited for her to sound out the words.

Mona moved her lips and ran her finger under the word as she looked for ways to break it down.

“Thanks … thanks … thanksgiv … Thanksgiving,” she said, looking up at Howard, 56, before writing the word down.

Three and a half years ago, Mona lost her memory after her medication was increased by one pill, according to Howard.

About a year ago, one of Mona’s friends suggested she go to Literacy Volunteers. Now she’s up to a first-grade reading level, Howard said.

The nonprofit relies almost entirely on volunteers to provide adults and families free instruction in reading and writing.

In recent years, the student count for Literacy Volunteers Waterville Area has been rising. In 2015, 25 students were helped. That number jumped to 37 in 2016. By July 2017, the agency had already helped 24 students.

Eleven board members and 35 tutors keep the organization running along with office manager Danielle Boutin, who works out of an office provided by the United Way of Mid-Maine.

The nonprofit sustained itself through grants until this past year, when representatives went to four towns to ask for municipal donations, receiving $2,500.

Once per week, Mona meets with a tutor from the Literacy Volunteers, and twice a week she works with Howard, who took a course to be a certified tutor.

Literacy Volunteers provides a one-on-one program, where an adult works individually with a tutor to gain literacy skills, and a family literacy program, where tutors teach parents how to read to their children and help with schoolwork.

In Maine in 1992, 13 percent of adults lacked basic literary skills, which was halved to 7 percent – or more than 91,000 people – by 2003, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. The numbers are the same for Kennebec County.


]]> 0 Gagnon helps his wife, Mona, with a reading lesson at the family's home on Gilman Street in Waterville in July.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:13:48 +0000
Concert review: Emotion and rhythm combine for strong mix in chamber festival close Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:30:16 +0000 A dozen string players powered their way through Dvorák’s Serenade in E major (Op. 22) on Saturday night at Hannaford Hall, closing the final concert of this year’s Portland Chamber Music Festival, and at the same time letting listeners ponder the time-worn adage that less is more.

Dvorák, after all, composed his Serenade as a work for string orchestra, and that is how it is typically performed. But the small ensemble fielded at the festival showed that there is something to be gained in transparency and suppleness when the piece is played by reduced forces.

But it took a few moments to reach that conclusion. If you are used to hearing this lovely work performed by a chamber orchestra, you may have found its graceful opening movement puzzlingly small-sounding here, and lacking the heft yielded by larger cello and bass sections (there were two cellists and one bassist here).

Yet there was something distinctly appealing in the relaxed reading the festival presented. That lack of bass-driven heft also meant a reduction in tension, and while you want a good measure of tension in some works, this Serenade is not that kind of piece. And in the second movement, a waltz, the lighter touch seemed perfect, conveying a combination of elegance, fluidity and intimacy that, to put it in cinematic terms, was the difference between a wide-angle shot of a ballroom filled with dancers and a closeup of a single couple.

For me, that was enough to sweep away doubts about whether the Serenade works as a chamber piece, and with that established, the ensemble’s thoughtful reading of the introspective Larghetto, and its zesty accounts of the Scherzo and finale, seemed just about right.

The concert began with Alban Berg‘s “Seven Early Songs,” a deeply expressive set of pieces composed in the first decade of the 20th century. Berg was a student of Arnold Schoenberg at the time, and Schoenberg, while grappling with ways to expand on the chromaticism that had already infused the harmonic language of Western music, had not yet developed the 12-tone method that some composers and listeners found revolutionary, and others found deeply alienating.

Berg’s settings of Rilke, Lenau, Hauptmann and other German poets are deeply and satisfyingly sophisticated – angular and densely chromatic at times, but still thoroughly rooted in the emotion-painting worlds of Mahler and Strauss. Soprano Tony Arnold, a singer best known for her performances of new music over her long career, gave these songs nuanced, gently illuminating interpretations, with Diane Walsh providing equally thoughtful accounts of the piano lines, which follow and magnify the texts nearly as much as the vocal writing.

Between the Berg and Dvorák, clarinetist Todd Palmer and a string quartet – violinists Harumi Rhodes and Jennifer Elowitch, violist Carol Rodland and cellist Susannah Chapman – played David Bruce‘s “Gumboots” (2008). Bruce was inspired by the rhythmic stamping-clapping-and-slapping language developed by South African gold miners as a way around prohibitions against speaking while in the mines. The language later gave rise to a dance form, an example of which was shown on a video screen just before the performance.

It was unclear whether Bruce quoted specific rhythms or was simply inspired by them, and went his own way, and it probably doesn’t matter, unless you want to get into a debate about cultural appropriation and whether it helps or hurts the cultures from which such ideas are taken. In the case of “Gumboots,” Bruce is entirely open about his source, and brought attention to a fascinating form (and social history) that many people likely to hear his piece would not have heard about otherwise.

The piece itself is bright-hued and mostly celebratory, but with a range that touches on anger (in the opening movement, with its Kurt Weill-like chord changes) to sheer cartoonishness (in the fourth movement, “Dance 3”). It is couched in a language that is accessible to the point where, with different instrumentation, it could pass as a set of pop pieces; in fact, several of the six movements – especially the third, “Forgotten Boots” – call to mind Paul Simon’s collaborations with African musicians on his “Graceland” album.

The interplay between Palmer’s vivid, sometimes virtuosically flighty clarinet line and the equally lively string figures was a joy throughout.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:01:19 +0000
Comedian Jerry Lewis dies at 91 Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:14:25 +0000 Jerry Lewis, who died Aug. 20 at 91, was a comic actor whose rubber–limbed pratfalls, squeaky voice and pipsqueak buffoonery made him one of the most uncontainable screen clowns of all time.

His partnership with the suave and assured crooner Dean Martin made them a sensation, easily the most popular comedy team of the mid–20th century. After their bitter break up, which devastated their millions of fans, Lewis embarked on a solo career of dizzying summits and desperate lows, including an addiction to painkillers as years of physical comedy took their toll.

Fascinated by the technical side of film, he became one of the first sound–era comedians to write, direct and star in his own movies. He was credited with laying the groundwork for later comedic writer–director–actors such as Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.

Few comedians have been so beloved and so derided as Lewis, who amassed devoted fans and stunningly hostile reviews from critics. Few have been so accomplished as humanitarians – his annual muscular dystrophy telethons had raised almost $1.5 billion by the late 2000s – or so polarizing as personalities.

Lewis could be candid and coy, insightful and insulting in the same sentence. He was tireless, demanding and insecure – in his own words “a neurotic, temperamental imbecile.” He could also play the charming child, telling interviewers he never felt more than 9 years old.

“An audience is nothing more than eight or nine hundred mamas and papas clapping their hands and saying, ‘Good boy, baby,’ ” he said. “You’ll find that people who had enough ‘Good boy, baby’ from their actual parents rarely turn to comedy.”

Lewis was, for better or worse, one of the most unforgettable entertainers of his generation. In his later years, he battled spinal meningitis, pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes, among other ailments. His death at his home in Las Vegas was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

A struggling comedian at 19, Lewis surged to stardom at 20 after partnering with Martin in 1946 at an Atlantic City nightclub. They made 16 films together, including “Jumping Jacks” and “Artists and Models,” and they were major TV stars before breaking up in 1956 at their peak as a duo.

As an actor, Lewis brought an antic joy to hundreds of millions of people who saw him play a role he called “the Idiot,” a cross–eyed innocent who bested bullies despite his nasally voice and gangly appearance.

The Idiot was the sort of uncontrollable character – falling down laundry chutes, breaking furniture and sputtering at the sight of an alluring woman – that set the loony standard for later generations of comedians, including Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler. “The Nutty Professor,” Lewis’ 1963 comedy about a shy professor who invents a formula that turns him into wolfish swinger modeled on Martin, was remade with Eddie Murphy in 1996.

As hosts of the NBC’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour” from 1950 to 1955, Lewis and Martin burst onto the airwaves with an anarchic style unlike most television of that era. Lewis’ goofball utterings – “I like it, I like it” and “La–a–a–dy!” – became national catchphrases.

“You see Jerry Lewis running up to the cameras and into the audience and breaking the rules right off the bat,” said David Schwartz, chief film curator at the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. “It makes Robin Williams look sedate.”

With a manic energy that often landed him in hospitals from overwork, Lewis made more than 50 films, countless club and television appearances and several popular recordings. His 1956 version of “Rock–a–Bye Your Baby,” a song first popularized by Al Jolson, sold more than 1 million copies.

Lewis was such a financial powerhouse at Paramount Pictures in the 1950s and early 1960s that one executive there was reported to have said, “If he wants to burn the studio down, I’ve got the match.”

He debuted as a director, writer and actor in “The Bellboy” (1960) – a picture set at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach – in which he played the hapless title character almost entirely in pantomime. The film was a smash and brought Lewis the cachet to control his next few projects, including “The Ladies Man” (1961), “The Errand Boy” (1961) and “The Nutty Professor.”

As a moviemaker, Lewis was greatly inspired by having worked under director Frank Tashlin, a former animator, on such films as “Cinderfella” (1960) and “The Disorderly Orderly” (1964).

Like Tashlin, Lewis exaggerated sound and sight for affect. In “The Nutty Professor,” the use of amplified sound allows the audience to experience the title character’s hangover after a night of drinking.

When prominent American critics bothered to review Lewis’s films at all, they generally dismissed them as recycled sight gags and plotless pratfalls that lacked continuity.

“In his field of comedy, which happens to be both narrow and rutted, Lewis stands as a sort of witless genius,” critic Harriet Van Horne of the New York World–Telegram and Sun wrote. “He’s the only performer I know who can be both endearing and disgusting in the space of two minutes.”

Lewis gained the grudging respect of some reviewers in 1983 when Martin Scorsese hired him for a dramatic part in “The King of Comedy” as a talk–show host kidnapped by a fan (played by Robert De Niro). In “Funny Bones” (1995), he again won over critics in an unlikable role, playing a comedian who overshadows his son’s comic ambitions.

To some French cinema theorists, Lewis was a “total filmmaker” in the comic moviemaking tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who also created and starred in their own projects. The theorists, and even directors such as Jean–Luc Godard, considered Lewis’ broad comic sensibility a comment on an American penchant for excess and male self–doubt and sexual anxiety.

Lewis was contemptuous of the media and, to some degree, American audiences, who he felt never understood his intent as a performer.

He told The Washington Post in 1972 that his humor “is not a sophisticated humor. On the contrary, it’s based on something in its simplest form. Americans are always wondering whether they should laugh if someone gets a pie in the face, if it will demean their character. Europeans don’t think about things like that. They just laugh.”

He was submerged in pie–in–the–face slapstick from his earliest years. He was born Jerome Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, the son of Jewish vaudevillians who performed at New York–area resorts.

He debuted in 1931, when his parents brought him onstage at a hotel to sing the Depression–era anthem “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Once, he slipped onstage, and his foot went through a footlight bulb. “There was this big laugh, relieved laughter when the audience saw I wasn’t hurt,” he told The Post. “So I went after a second bulb. I’d been hit by the poison dart. I knew how it felt to get a laugh. When my parents got their next booking, the manager had to add, ‘No kicking bulbs out.’ ”

After quitting high school in 1942 – he said it was because of the flagrant anti–Semitism of his principal in Irvington, N.J. – Lewis honed his “record act,” a routine in which he mimed lyrics of operatic and popular songs playing on a phonograph. As an emcee in burlesque houses, he worked to improve his ad–libbing skills before hostile crowds.

In summer 1946, Lewis was doing his record act at the 500 Club in Atlantic City. When the singer on the bill was fired, Lewis suggested the still–obscure Martin as a replacement. The two had performed months earlier at a New York club and began joking around onstage, to the audience’s delight.

At the 500 Club, their act contained the core of what would excite crowds for the next decade: Martin acting seductively toward women, Lewis doing his utmost to interrupt the singer by breaking plates and drinking water from flower vases. Decades later, in the New Yorker, writer James Kaplan likened Lewis onstage to “a chimp on Benzedrine.”

As the Lewis and Martin act grew in popularity, the entertainers signed a movie deal with Hal B. Wallis at Paramount. Wallis saw to it that his new team would stick to a moneymaking formula, playing the same basic characters in every film: Lewis the loon, Martin the ladies’ man. Wallis started them off in secondary roles in “My Friend Irma” (1949), based on the hit radio series.

Despite their on–screen chemistry, the Martin–Lewis relationship grew tense. Lewis often described Martin, nine years his senior, as an older brother. But they competed for attention from peers and women, and Lewis found his partner increasingly aloof and intent on pursuing a separate singing and acting career. Martin, among others, called Lewis mercurial.

“Jerry, who was supposed to be the funny one, couldn’t stand it if Dean got any laughs,” the writer and producer Norman Lear, who wrote for the team, once said. He said Lewis often got physically ill when Martin stole a scene and balked when writers revealed that Lewis alone was not responsible for the jokes on the show.

The Lewis–Martin split was acrimonious. They did not speak to each other for 20 years, until a mutual friend, Frank Sinatra, prodded them to appear together on Lewis’ muscular dystrophy telethon. Dean died in 1995.

After a long run of successes without Martin, Lewis saw his film career plummet in the late 1960s amid audience demand for more topical humor. Studio officials balked at his insistence on total creative control.

Further problems developed in the 1970s. A chain of cinemas he owned went bankrupt, and he wrestled with addiction to painkilling drugs to treat a back injury. The physical pain reportedly left him on the verge of suicide.

Lewis’ movie career went fallow after filming what he considered his unreleased masterpiece. The movie was “The Day the Clown Cried” (1972), in which Lewis played a concentration camp clown who entertains children as they are led to the gas chamber. Considered by those who have seen it as one of the most offensive films ever made, the film was indefinitely withheld from release amid lawsuits among its backers and writers.

His 1944 marriage to Esther Calonico, a big–band singer known as Patti Palmer, ended in divorce in 1980. Survivors include his wife, SanDee Pitnick “Sam” Lewis, whom he married in 1983; five sons from the first marriage, including musician Gary Lewis; and a daughter from the second marriage.

A son from his first marriage, Joseph, died in 2009 of an apparent drug overdose. A complete list of survivors could not be immediately confirmed.

Lewis remained a television star as host of muscular–dystrophy telethons, for which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized the actor with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2009.

The telethons featured guest appearances from Charo to Tony Bennett. At the end, Lewis always sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” He also had vaudeville acts, acrobats and a procession of youngsters – called “Jerry’s Kids” – suffering from muscular dystrophy.

The telethons were the subject of enduring debate. Television critics and some advocacy groups lambasting them as tasteless spectacles that exploited the children they professed to help.

Some saw the shows as a self–aggrandizing star vehicle for Lewis, who often surrounded himself with performers praising his humanitarianism despite stories generated by some relatives about his womanizing and emotional abuse as a father. He further harmed his reputation with crude remarks about gays and women.

“I have all the strength in the world to fight those morons,” Lewis told The Post about his telethon critics. “Do they want to talk to the 135,000 who are afflicted, who call me their hero? They’ll get killed. And what about the s.o.b.’s who come to you and say, ‘How much do you get out of this action?’ You have to smile, because they have capital punishment in most states.”

He called his rage when discussing the disease “the only productive hate I have.”

Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association parted ways in 2010, under circumstances that remain vague. Five years later, the association said it was ending the telethon for good.

In 1995, Lewis had an acclaimed stage role as the Devil in the musical “Damn Yankees!” At $40,000 a week, he reportedly became the highest–paid performer on Broadway at the time. The New York Times, whose reviewers never much cared for his films, declared, “Jerry Lewis is legitimate at last.”

At this late–career peak, Lewis was still unpredictable in interviews – clowning with a slightly menacing touch. “Let’s put it this way,” he told a Post reporter. “You will remember we met.”

He then threatened to cut the reporter’s tie. He was half–joking.

]]> 0, 20 Aug 2017 23:49:47 +0000
At Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston, the sky’s the limit Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:19:37 +0000 0 Buker and Karen Ryder of Augusta, center, watch as balloons take flight from Simard Payne Park early Sunday morning.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:30:17 +0000 Society Notebook: Hope for mental health put into action in Maine Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “It’s all about community,” said Matthew Rubel, welcoming guests with his wife, Melissa, to their Cumberland Foreside home on July 19 to celebrate Signs of Hope, a benefit for the Lunder Family Alliance at Spring Harbor Hospital.

“In a community, you support those who make that community great. This is about supporting an innovative program that deals with mental illness. Not just the problem, but also the solution. We believe that Spring Harbor Hospital provides a service that enables people to be productive, engaged in their community, and nothing is more important than that.”

The Rubels greeted guests as they arrived at the garden party and stepped down into a stunning backdrop of manicured lawns that stretched out to the ocean. Guests mingled by the infinity pool and chatted over cocktails on the terrace as a light fog settled in.

Longtime Spring Harbor Hospital supporters Ken and Rona Purdy of New Castle, New Hampshire, were joined by Jack and Kay Emory of Freeport.

Leonard Lauder and his wife, Judith Glickman Lauder, enjoyed the company of Sheri and Joe Boulos of Falmouth. Merle and Leonard Nelson of Cumberland Foreside attended, as well as Jean Pugh of Falmouth. Peter and Paula Lunder also came to support the cause.

“The Lunder Family Alliance was developed to help young adults who are admitted to Spring Harbor Hospital and their families to navigate the system,” said Valerie Compagna, marketing and communications manager at Maine Behavioral Healthcare, of which Spring Harbor is a division. “It’s an amazing program.”

The integrated program features a comprehensive approach that includes employment specialists, who assist patients with job and education opportunities, and family navigators, who support families and caregivers during and after hospitalization. The goal is to enable patients to return to their communities healthier, productive and independent.

“I certainly support anything that supports mental health care in this neck of the woods,” said Anne Jones, a host committee member from Yarmouth, who chatted with Jack Piper of Portland.

“Signs of Hope began as a ‘friend-raiser,’ ” said Sheri Boulos, founder of the benefit, now in its eighth year. “We just wanted people to learn about Spring Harbor Hospital. Year after year, it’s turned into a bigger thing. Awareness is everything.”

“The Lunder Family Alliance provides an outstanding program,” said Stephen Merz, chief executive officer of Maine Behavioral Healthcare, as guests gathered on the back patio to hear remarks from several people, including Susan Stover, a mother whose family has benefited from services the alliance provides.

“It connects families to what is going on in the care system,” said Merz. “Through the alliance, we’re able to provide social services like the Purdy Family Navigator program, which is critical to our families who are trying to navigate the mental health system.”

The Signs of Hope benefit raised $190,000 for the Lunder Family Alliance, which helps close the gap for a generous $1 million matching grant in support of this program.

“These are the stories that are so difficult to tell but need to be told,” said Kathleen Kilbride, chair of the development committee. “Signs of Hope is about telling these stories. It’s about hope. We’ve all been touched by mental illness. Tonight is about hope and healing and sharing.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

]]> 0 Lauder and Judith Glickman Lauder, left, join hosts Melissa and Matthew Rubel and Sheri and Joe Boulos at the Signs of Hope benefit in Cumberland Foreside.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:40:44 +0000
‘Glass Castle’ author Jeannette Walls reflects on movie as a mirror Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Jeannette Walls has to be careful with pronouns.

When talking about her former life as a gossip columnist for such venues as New York Magazine and MSNBC, she uses the first person: “I was a ‘journalist,’ in air quotes,” she jokes. It’s the same when she’s speaking about her best-selling 2005 memoir “The Glass Castle,” whose child protagonist – Jeannette Walls – was the daughter of a nomadic, often jobless and homeless alcoholic and his painter wife.

The book, described by the New York Times as “an alternately wrenching and exhilarating yarn,” chronicles the harrowing childhood that Walls and her three siblings, Lori, Brian and Maureen, experienced with their father, Rex, and mother, Rose Mary, wandering from town to town before settling in Rex’s hometown of Welch, West Virginia. Notable episodes of mistreatment by Rex include being thrown into water over her head so that she would learn to swim and being left alone, at the age of 13, with one of her father’s lecherous adult male co-workers.

Then there’s the new movie version of the book, adapted by filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (“Short Term 12”) and starring three different actresses as Walls at various ages. (Oscar winner Brie Larson plays the teenage and young-adult versions. Woody Harrelson plays Rex, who died in 1994, and Naomi Watts portrays Rose Mary, who now lives with her daughter on a horse farm in Orange, Virginia.) While visiting Washington, D.C., to talk about the movie’s portrayal of herself, Walls sometimes switches between “I,” “she” and “they.”

Q: Does watching yourself on screen give you a lens through which you can view your story in a way that’s a closer to the way a reader might perceive you – almost like having an out-of-body experience?

A: The answer is yes. I didn’t feel that way watching the other actors. Seeing Woody was bizarre to me, because he captured Dad so much. Ditto, Naomi. Seeing Ella Anderson, the middle Jeannette, broke my heart. Here was this 10-year-old, 11-year-old, trying to get her dad to stop drinking. Seeing him throw her into the pool, I just wanted to rush at the screen. That was a shocker. I was on the set when Brie, as me, was told by my older sister Lori (Sarah Snook) that she was leaving for New York. I burst into tears. It was the effect of seeing myself from a distance.

Q: Was there a sense of detachment?

A: Exactly. I first tried writing the book from the perspective of an adult looking back. But it was too stilted. So I wrote it from the viewpoint of a child going through these things. Seeing them, these actors, playing me on screen – this is going to sound schmaltzy and hokey – but I think I was able to forgive myself a little bit more.

Q: For what?

A: For the decisions I had to make. Anybody who pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, to some degree, has to cut off their family. You remake yourself.

Q: Were you plagued by guilt?

A: That’s a harsh term, but it’s accurate. I was.

Q: Why? Because you felt you owed something to your parents?

A: Not just my parents, but my kid sister, Maureen. Could I have done more for her? Did I leave for New York too soon? Did I leave too late? Should I have taken her with me? I’m a scrapper and a survivor, but I’ll never know if I did the right thing.

Q: Didn’t you once call yourself pathologically independent?

A: I did. One time, I was carrying two pieces of luggage and my handbag, and my husband (novelist John Taylor) said, “Let me help you with all that.” I said, “I can do it on my own!” He said, “Of course you can, but you don’t have to.” That was such a revelation, because I was so afraid of depending on anybody else. And then you see the movie, and you’re like, “Ah, no wonder.” She – that would be me – had to make some tough decisions. One of them was my decision to follow Lori to New York City. I was 13. It was after that scene in the bar (in which Jeannette fights off the advances of her father’s friend). That was the moment when I said, “I’ve got to get out of here.” I loved him, and I believe he loved me, in his damaged way. But he was not going to protect me.

Q: It’s like he was throwing you in the deep end all over again.

A: That’s exactly what it was. I love that analogy. But that kind of cuts him some slack. Some people think I should be so angry, and that I was abused. I was at a book event one time, and someone said, “As a survivor of child abuse …” I said, “Wait a minute. I don’t see it that way.”

Q: Isn’t it abuse? Some viewers may have a hard time swallowing Brie Larson’s line, when she tells Rex, on his deathbed, that she turned out like him, and she’s glad she did.

A: In some ways, I wish I were more like him. He was so much more brilliant than I am, so much more of a performer, a much better writer. The things we have in common that I owe to him is a fearlessness, a demon-chasing quality that he actually didn’t have as much as I have. One pivotal moment in the movie is when the kids gang up on Irma (Rex’s mother, who sexually molested both Brian and Rex), to beat on her head. She was the personification of my father’s demons, but he couldn’t do that himself. It freaked him out that his kids could.

Q: Maureen has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Do you ever blame her condition on her childhood?

A: One of the few things I understand about schizophrenia is that we really don’t understand much about it. It seems both biological and environmental. You inherit a propensity for it, and it’s triggered by environmental factors. I’ve talked to Maureen about it a number of times, and she’s said that she had imaginary friends back when she was 5 or 6 years old.

Q: Has it occurred to you that your parents may also have been mentally ill?

A: Readers who are smarter than I kept saying, “Your father was bipolar.” At first, I resisted that idea, because I thought he was just a drunk. He’d be great when he was sober. I realize now they were probably right. He was never diagnosed. Many alcoholics are trying to self-medicate.

Q: Have you yourself ever seen a therapist?

A: I haven’t. I believe that therapy is storytelling. My husband, who urged me to write the book in the first place, likes to say that the process of writing is the process of thinking.

Q: Is it weird to juggle multiple Jeannettes: the one in the book, the ones in the movie, the one that you see when you look in the mirror?

A: It’s very weird. I, she, her,


Q: What did you leave out of your story?

A: Not much. Some Rex drunk scenes. One thing is a scene at Barnard, where I ultimately went to college. A very skinny woman befriended me because she thought I was anorexic.

Q: You do have a complicated relationship with food, or so I’ve read.

A: I’ve never really gotten the fetishization of food in the big cities, where they make it into architecture. It’s just food. Where I come from, you’re eating fancy if you don’t serve it out of the can.

Q: The movie opens, in 1989, with Jeannette at an expensive restaurant. She asks if she can have her dining companion’s leftovers.

A: I still do that, to this day. Just now, I was walking down the hotel hallway and I was like, “Huh, somebody left some food. That looks good.” I don’t need to do that anymore.

Q: Your childhood sounds horrific, yet you seem to have turned out OK. Are you the poster child for alternative parenting?

A: I think I am. I would not recommend it, however. I am one of the happiest and healthiest people I know. The last time I got sick was 1987. One of the biggest differences between myself and my husband is that he gets really embarrassed when he has to buy toilet paper. I’m so happy to buy toilet paper. I read somewhere that the secret to happiness is low expectations.

Q: The film ends with Jeannette escaping West Virginia for fame and fortune in New York City. Yet here you are, back in the boondocks of Orange, Virginia.

A: It’s the boomerang effect. I was living on Park Avenue, but that wasn’t who I am. I’m a hick at heart. It may not be Welsh, but I’ve got green, rolling hills, horses and chickens.

Q: And toilet paper.

A: What more could a girl ask for?

]]> 0 Brie Larson, left, who plays author Jeanette Walls, talks to Walls, center, on the set of "The Glass Castle."Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:26:27 +0000
Young composers inject new life into movie music Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Film music is only a little more than 100 years old, but that’s long enough for any art form to grow stale. Musically, most trips to the multiplex run together these days, with delights and surprises in short supply. But if this year’s Academy Award nominees for best score are any indication, new blood is beginning to course.

Justin Hurwitz, who won the Oscar, is only 32 – and “La La Land” was his third score for a feature film. Mica Levi, 30, was nominated for her second feature, “Jackie.” “Moonlight” composer Nicholas Britell, 36, scored his first major film in 2015.

But it’s not just the relative youth and wetness-behind-the-ears that are noteworthy. These composers, and several others, are shaking up the sound of Hollywood. Film scores are starting to have personality again.

Levi’s score for “Jackie,” with its in-your-face string slides and jarring, queasy waltzes, was somewhat divisive, but that’s because people took notice. The London native is classically trained, but until recently was best known as “Micachu,” creator of experimental pop music. She brought her unique background to Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s outsider take on the grieving first lady.

Larraín was a juror at the Venice Film Festival in 2013 when Levi made her film scoring debut, for Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin,” an itching, churning aural nightmare for Scarlett Johansson’s seductive alien.

Larraín “pushed the jury committee for an award for Mica, and she got it, because I felt that I was listening to something that was immediately made from a master,” he said last year. “I just thought that it was really something that I had never heard before – and nowadays, that’s something very, very, very hard.”

While the director was editing “Jackie,” Levi sent him short pieces – music of trauma, of abstraction, and music she just thought Jacqueline Kennedy “might have liked” – and he inserted them in unexpected places, often loudly, to create an overall feeling of disorientation. Film music is often disparaged as emotional wallpaper, but Levi’s scores are main characters.

This new wave of composers is emerging partly thanks to young filmmakers entering the field, often looking to their peers for easy collegiality – as opposed to when a previous generation, led by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, began making films, and looked to John Williams and Bernard Herrmann for veteran voices.

Hurwitz and director Damien Chazelle went to Harvard, where they played in a band together. That dorm room rapport contributed to their first collaboration, the indie musical “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” and organically led to their work on “Whiplash” and “La La Land.” Music has played an important role in all of their projects, and Hurwitz’s scores have sounded ironically novel by showcasing vintage styles such as jazz and old Hollywood musicals.

Nicholas Britell was a producer on the “Whiplash” short that preceded Chazelle’s feature, and he even worked on an early “La La Land” song that didn’t make the cut. The Manhattan-born composer studied to be a concert pianist but instead went to Harvard to study psychology. There, he joined a hip-hop band and made beats on a daily basis.

Film music has often erred into a thick orchestral mayonnaise, but Britell favors intimacy and tactility – just right for Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning “Moonlight.” The composer wrote a fragile violin poem (recorded with a closely miked bow) for the young protagonist, which grew deeper in sound as the character grows older. He applied the southern hip-hop tactic of “chopped and screwed” to slow the music down.

“It was a beautiful thing,” Jenkins said. “I was speaking in a language, and Nick was speaking in another language, but we were saying the same thing quite often. The journey that we took together was invigorating for both of us, because there was always this thing where I’m teaching Nick about chopped and screwed, and he’s teaching me about tremolos and counterpoint.”

All of the above films fall into “indie” or “prestige” genres, and the blockbuster category is still dominated by Hollywood’s old guard. Hans Zimmer, 59, just scored “Dunkirk” for regular collaborator Christopher Nolan. Danny Elfman, 64, is working on the score for “Justice League.” Alan Silvestri, 67, has Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” and “Avengers: Infinity War” on his plate. The venerable John Williams, 85, is working on the next “Star Wars.”

The Zimmer sound – big, bombastic and groove-based – became the model, partly because of its contemporary cool and also because of the commercial, risk-averse nature of the modern Hollywood machine. As Zimmer continued to evolve his sound with scores such as “The Thin Red Line” and “Interstellar,” he left an ocean full of pale imitations and sameness in his wake.

Which makes the recent influx of individualistic, and sometimes radical, newcomers so welcome.

Tentpole films might continue to be propped up by old, familiar stakes, but the rest of cinema – not to mention ambitious series on cable and streaming services – is beginning to stir with new life.

]]> 0 Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land," for which Justin Hurwitz, 32, won the Oscar for best film score.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:26:48 +0000
Deep Water selected poem: ‘And the Voice Was The Sea’ by Annie Finch Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This week’s poem captures a moment when the watcher and the watched—the person and the sea—become one. And the poem speaks to us in a rollicking, sculpted, rhyming voice that we might imagine the sea speaking with, if it used words.

Annie Finch’s most recent book of poetry is Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), and her poetry has appeared in many magazines and The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

And The Voice Was The Sea

By Annie Finch

As I picked my way nearer along that red shocking rock Shelf,

I was hoping the spray would rise up and deliver myself.

Seagulls reared loud and close, more than anything I could have planned.

I looked out at the sea and forgot I could still see the land.

I was lost, in a foaming green crawl. I grew smaller than me;

I was shrunk in a tidepool. I pulsed. And I wondered. The sea

Grew its monuments for me; each wave, every coloring shadow,

So bereft and so laden with wrack, spoke for me till it had no

Need of my words any more. I was open and glad

At last, grateful like seaweed at last, and as glad, since I had

No more place on the rocks but a voice—and the voice was the sea.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Annie Finch. It appeared in The Voice Was the Sea: Poems from Coastal Maine (Voices From the American Land Poetry Series, 2012) and appears here by permission of the author.

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:20:55 +0000
Maine artist makes what may be the world’s largest watercolor Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 PORT CLYDE — Barbara Prey has a golden resume: a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a master’s from Harvard and a Fulbright scholarship, which she used to study baroque art and architecture in Germany. One of her first jobs was drawing illustrations for the New Yorker.

Her watercolors have been used for two White House Christmas cards, and her paintings are in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Brooklyn Museum and hang in U.S. embassies around the world.

But for all her accomplishments, Prey, who lives part of the year in Maine, has lacked an enthusiastic endorsement from a leading contemporary art museum. That changed recently, when the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams commissioned her to make what the museum believes is the largest existing watercolor painting.

MASS MoCA, the country’s largest contemporary art museum, after its recent expansion, and a taste-maker in contemporary art since it opened in 1999, challenged Prey, a landscape painter in the tradition of Andrew Wyeth, to make a large-scale painting showing the museum’s new home in a former mill complex before a renovation and expansion added 120,000 square feet. The museum wanted to document the mill while the patina of the peeling paint and unfinished wood floors were intact.

“MASS MoCA Building 6” in part reveals artist Barbara Prey’s interest in architecture, which has surfaced throughout her career. Image courtesy of MASS MoCA

Prey gave them “MASS MoCA Building 6,” which preserves the former factory in its raw state, with dusty floors and red-brick walls. Unframed, the painting is 8-by-15 feet. Prey used three 8-by-5 sheets of paper. Framed, it’s a foot larger in each dimension and weighs about 300 pounds.

If there are bigger watercolor paintings out there, the museum can’t find them, said director Joe Thompson.

“We think it may well be (the largest), but it’s very hard to pin that down with any kind of certainty,” he said. “We can’t come up with any bigger, but I don’t know that was necessarily a goal, either. We talked about creating a watercolor that makes you feel like you are in the space that’s being depicted.”

Prey at work. Framed, “MASS MoCA Building 6” weighs about 300 pounds. Photos courtesy of MASS MoCA

Thompson suggested the project to Prey, because of his personal admiration of watercolorists who “achieve a frictionless ease” in their paintings, and he puts Prey at the top of his list. At a Berkshires cocktail party a few years ago, he challenged her to blow up the scale and try something really big. “I asked her almost as a coy joke, and she just sort of laughed. As is her way, she leapt at the challenge,” Thompson said.

She proposed an interior portrait of the building, drawing on her interest in architecture that began in college and has resurfaced throughout her career, including in a series of interiors of Maine meetinghouses that she did after Sept. 11.

As old New England mills are, the space is huge. The second floor, on which the painting is based, is more than an acre, with 400 columns and hundreds of windows. There are layers of paint and decades of grime. It was a textile mill and an electronic component plant before becoming a cultural destination.

The painting was unveiled when the new space opened in the spring and is hanging in the prowlike atrium of the new Robert W. Wilson Building, along with art by leading contemporary women artists Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois and Laurie Anderson.

While the large-scale original will hang for up to three years in Massachusetts, Prey is showing a dozen pencil drawings and watercolor sketches of the MASS MoCA commission through Sept. 20 at her gallery in Port Clyde, along with the colorful, representational paintings of the Maine coast that have made her popular with presidents, actors and everyday Mainers. One of the paintings on view in Maine is her final study for the interior mill space, about 24-by-40 inches.

A column study of the mill space.

The horizontal painting shows the empty mill, floor to ceiling, looking between two rows of descending columns, which dwindle in size and create the perspective of a vast, open plain of space. Windows along the brick walls flood the surface with light. Her biggest challenge was keeping plumb the drawn lines of the windows and columns to achieve the perspective of looking through space.

Because of the fragility of watercolors, MASS MoCA is committing to a three-year exhibition, Thompson said, and even that duration might be risky given the light-filled nature of the space where it is mounted. “Barbara was very brave to allow us to show it where we are,” he said. “We will monitor it and see how it holds up from a conservation point of view.”

Prey, who has been painting more than four decades, witnessed the transformation of the mill from the time she was a student at Williams College in nearby Williamstown. She has stayed connected to the community as an adjust faculty member at Williams and by maintaining a studio in Williamstown.

It was there she did most of the work on the painting, because the proximity allowed her to travel between her studio and museum during the renovation to sketch, monitor the light and check other details of the space as it was being transformed. “It was disappearing as I was painting it,” she said.

Watercolor light study.

Prey worked on the MASS MoCA project for about two years, though most of the first year was spent figuring out what she would do and how to do it. “The whole process is ground-breaking and sort of new,” she said. “There was not a model that I could follow or a prototype to look at. People have done large watercolors, but they say this is the largest.”

Her early research was technical – where to buy paper for a painting this large, what kind of paint to use, what kind of brushes. After sketching and drawing, she spent six to eight months painting, first at her studio on Long Island, New York, where she lives most of the year and returned to after leaving Maine last fall, and later in western Massachusetts, where she spent most of the winter and spring. She completed the painting in April.

To make a detailed painting so large, she treated it as a series of small paintings, concentrating on a section at a time. Because watercolors are unforgiving and dry quickly, she had to plan and test nearly every aspect of the painting ahead of time. She made several mistakes. She used a shade of red for her bricks that brought unexpected results. Early on, she represented the wood floor by drawing lines, and later changed her mind. And on her final day of painting – one of her final acts – she knocked over a jar of brushes and water, spilling both from her scaffolding onto a section of the paper’s finished surface, discoloring it and gouging it.

A pencil study of the old mill which, once renovated and expanded, became the new home to MASS MoCA. The second floor, on which Prey’s painting is based, is more than an acre in size, with 400 columns and hundreds of windows.

She was able to fix each of those errors – by quickly brushing out the offending red, spending three days erasing the lines on the floor and blotting the water and brush marks before they dried.

Prey has operated a gallery on the St. George peninsula every summer for most of 40 years, usually featuring her colorful, representational watercolors of the region’s shingled homes, rugged dories and stout spruce trees. With her work, she attempts to capture the evolving culture of Port Clyde and the surrounding fishing communities, by observing and recording. She does much the same with her painting at the mill.

Prey, 60, is thrilled be a part of the contemporary art conversation and hopes “MASS MoCA Building 6” elevates her stature from a successful watercolor painter to an influential one. Having one of her pieces on view alongside Jenny Holzer, Robert Rauschenberg and other heavyweights of contemporary art can only help, she said.

“This is what I am meant to be doing. You want to have your own voice, your own story and your own style, and this is a great opportunity to take watercolor in a new direction,” she said. “It contextualizes my work with a handful of very well-known, cutting-edge contemporary artists. To be included in that group is really exciting.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

Twitter: pphbkeyes

]]> 0 Prey in her studio in Port Clyde next to studies of her painting that is now hanging at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.Sun, 20 Aug 2017 09:44:13 +0000
Book review: Catholic saints, horror films and gruesome murders have roles in Gerritsen’s latest thriller Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Boston team of Rizzoli and Isles deals with Catholic saints and dramatic murders in ‘I Know a Secret.’

It was perhaps inevitable that Tess Gerritsen would write a novel that prominently features a horror movie. She grew up accompanying her mother to such movies as a kid, and she and her son Josh recently collaborated in the making of “Island Zero,” an indie horror film set on the coast of Maine; Gerritsen, who lives in Maine, wrote the screenplay and her son directed. “I Know a Secret” is another installment in Gerritsen’s best-selling Rizzoli & Isles thriller mystery series. The book opens with Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles investigating the murder of a young woman who is found dead in her warehouse loft apartment. This isn’t your typical murder. Twenty-six-year-old Cassandra Coyle, an independent filmmaker, lies on her bed with her eyes cut out, each one placed in an open palm.

When Rizzoli and Isles interview her partners at Crazy Ruby Films, all former New York University classmates, they learn that the four had just finished their second feature horror film, “Mr. Simian.” Coyle wrote the screenplay based on a real-life event from her childhood, the disappearance of a young day-care classmate who never was found.

The plot, one of the partners tells Rizzoli and Isles, is “straight out of Horror 101. Eventually the killer must come after the heroine.”

Not long after, Rizzoli and Isles find themselves standing on a pier over the body of a young man with three arrows in his chest. Like the first murder, this one feels staged.

The story is interspersed with chapters told from the point of view of a woman who is riveted by the mysterious killings. The book opens with her attending a funeral in Newport of a childhood friend who supposedly died in a house fire caused by candles left burning.

Before she heads back to Boston, the woman drives out to the charred remains of the victim’s home. “The wind gusts and dead leaves rattle across my shoes, a brittle sound that brings back another autumn day, twenty years ago, when I was ten years old and crunching across dead leaves in the woods. That day still casts its shadow across my life, and it’s the reason I am standing here today.”

Tess Gerritsen

Glancing down at the makeshift memorial of flowers, she notices in horror a single palm leaf amidst the bouquets. She well knows its meaning. It is the symbol of a martyr.

The investigative team is slow to find the thread that links the two killings they’re working on. Then Isles pursues a hunch by contacting her friend, Daniel Brophy, a Catholic priest and her former lover. She shares photos of the two victims.

After viewing the photo of the eyeless corpse, Brophy looks up at Isles in shock. “Saint Lucy,” he says. “That’s exactly who I thought of,” Isles replies. After looking at the second photo, he says, “Sebastian, patron saint of archers and policemen.” Both are martyrs. St. Lucy, patron saint of the blind, had her eyes cut out for refusing to marry a non-Christian. St. Sebastian was shot through with arrows on the orders of Emperor Diocletian, who persecuted Christians (Sebastian survived but was later clubbed to death, again on the emperor’s orders).

Pursuing this line of reasoning, Isles ultimately discovers the death of Sarah Basterash, the fire victim. The pieces begin to fall together. Cassandra Coyle, who had her eyes cut out, was born on Dec. 13, St. Lucy’s Day; Tim McDougal, who was found with arrows in his chest, was born Jan. 20, St. Sebastian’s Day. And Sarah Basterash was born on May 13 – the day dedicated to St. Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake.

Rizzoli and Isles are stumped. What’s the connection? How many other victims might the killer be stalking? And later, are things really as they appear?

Gerritsen weaves a compelling horror story with a killer loose, methodically coming for his victims.

Mixed in are subplots involving Rizzoli and her highly dysfunctional family, and Isles and her continuing love for Father Brophy, as well as her haunted relationship with her mother and brother, both of whom have dark pasts as hired killers.

Several major surprises await around dark turns in the plot. As does the reveal of how Crazy Ruby Film’s “Mr. Simian,” written by Cassandra Coyle, the first victim, fits squarely into the puzzle.

Gerritsen is faithful in “I Know a Secret” to the dictates of Horror 101 in winding her story to conclusion. And though everything in the mystery is resolved, not everything in the case gets wrapped up tightly.

This is by design. Gerritsen seems to be telling her readers that some horror stories held between jacket covers are unending – just as in life. One can finish the story, but the horror remains.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was named a Notable Book of the Year in Literary Fiction in 2014 by “Shelf Unbound,” an international review magazine. Smith can be reached via his website:

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 16:12:20 +0000
Artist trained in architecture brings brainy approach to watercolors Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “John Marin: On the Verge of Wilderness” is worth seeing. It features about 30 excellent works, all watercolors, from private collections (read: see them now or not at all) that were made in and about Maine.

“On the Verge” includes works from 1914, Marin’s first year in Maine. It was a critical year for his work, but also personally – Marin found a sense of home here and returned to Maine again and again for the rest of his life. His Maine works reveal a struggle to develop an effective pictorial language that could balance the organic complexity of the rugged landscape with Marin’s propensity for efficiency. In “Untitled II,” (1914) Marin looks to Matisse and uses blue outlines to connote trees in front of the coast. It works, but much of the image is illegible. In “West Point” (also 1914), he switches to color and interior qualities: Textures and scratchy lines come into view, and Marin pulls the whole thing together with flashes of wet paper technique, particularly with a sap green that shifts from stroke to wet surface and back to form the “U”-shaped structure of the composition. Much visual chaos remains, but the forms have begun to play the parts of legible components.

By 1919, Marin has gained more confidence. His “Islands Looking Out from Deer Isle, Maine No. 2” is not only confident tonally, but with an effective fore, middle and background structure, as well. The transition to the sky is smooth, and Marin has pushed away the problems of the bottom edge, making the visual entrance to the scene easy for the viewer. At the time, the artist was pressing his modernist cause in works like “Deer Isle, Maine, No. 1.” It is a reductive work in which every element plays a visual role. At the water’s edge, a vertical stroke – we can assume it’s the tree seen more clearly in “No. 2” – pushes from the fore space past the middle ground water, through the background island – splitting it – and into the sky. This subdued sky is one of the key elements of “On the Verge.” Marin has made clouds out of six simple circles that he has connected with lines. At a glance, all is well. With a closer look, the simply drawn clouds seem almost bizarre, and yet undeniably efficient.

Marin’s particular strength was how he could put his visual intelligence to work in his watercolors. The key word here is “watercolor.” These days, we often get caught up in a (generally lame) dialogue about whether watercolors are paintings, drawings or something else. But in the late 19th century, when Marin (1870-1953) was trained as an architect, watercolor was the medium par excellence for visual inquiry and noting visual ideas. At that time, many architects – among them the nation’s best, such as Stanford White (1853-1906) and Harold van Buren Magonigle (1867-1935) – were masters of watercolor. The leading Maine architect of the day, John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940), not only designed 350 buildings in Portland, and over 1,000 in Maine, and was highly influential in the field of American domestic architecture, but he was also an excellent painter. And the painterly medium underlying the relationship between architecture and visual arts was always watercolor.

“Steamer and Gulls” Artwork courtesy of Perry Smith Photography

What distinguishes architectural images from other visual forms is that architecture is about spaces for people and that architectural drawings convey practical information. What takes this pair of ideas from obvious to amazing follows two reasonably common opinions about art. First, that a primary goal of modernism is tethering the body of the viewer to a here-and-now experience of looking at a painting, starting with Impressionism’s perception-based optical approach. The second is early Cubism’s dedication to legibility: Picasso’s and Braque’s first Cubist paintings were, more than anything else, about the minimum requirements we need to recognize one thing as a still life and another, say, as a portrait. Early Cubism was all about drawing, and it looked again and again to the language and logic of architecture. It’s not by chance that Picasso’s 1912 “The Architect’s Table,” for example, was a seminal Cubist work.

Islands Looking Out From Deer Isle, Maine No. 2 Artwork courtesy of Perry Smith Photography

What I am asking you to do, in short, is look at Marin as an architect who learned the most sophisticated lessons of Cubism. The problem for us – and for Marin’s legacy – is that we no longer understand Cubism. We chose not to. World War II, after all, helped American art dealers make the case that we were making the good stuff – and that historicist European erudition was a failed project that led to war and even genocide.

The two Americans who best came to understand the most profound insights of Cubism were Marin – who internalized the legibility-oriented early stuff – and Marsden Hartley, whose portraits of a German officer, for example, reveal his understanding of late Cubism as an encyclopedia of painting’s possibilities.

The problem with such a brainy approach to painting is that it isn’t sustainable when any given work isn’t blazing new trails. “Isle au Haut from Deer Isle” (1919), for example, is a straightforward landscape that, alas, goes almost nowhere because its vertical water stripes on the right fail to take flight. “Four Master” (1933) reveals a moment in which Marin’s visual interest is piqued, but the architect in him renders the ship almost too accurately, and that leaves the problem of context, so the rest of the scene winds up fittingly flat and literal. We see this even more clearly in the context of “Steamer and Gulls” (1932) in which, among playful passages, Marin inserts a long, drawn vertical “S” on the foreground beach with no other purpose than to punctuate the undulations of the composition.

“Grey Day, Cape Split, Maine” Artwork courtesy of Perry Smith Photography

One section in particular reveals how Marin sought Cubist solutions rather than what we could call realist detailing. The rocks in the foreground of “Grey Day, Cape Split, Maine” (1934) are a solid, effective mass of gray-blue and brown. As in many of Marin’s other watercolors, they reveal the pencil underdrawing, but not merely outlines and shapes. Marin’s drawing here is almost like script or notes. There are rhythms, letters and geometrical forms. It’s an excellent passage of painting, and it reveals that Marin was undeniably unusual. It helps us see that his watercolors are fundamentally drawings. With them, Marin would not only construct images, but investigate and unpack visual elements. For him, this was a visual process, not a verbal or theoretical practice. Architects use drawings as the visual to convey ideas; drawings are a means, but for artists, the primary goal is the visual conveyance of the image.

Mount Katahdin 2 Artwork courtesy of Perry Smith Photography

“On the Verge of Wilderness” is a troubling title if the goal was to portray Marin as a straightforward Romantic, theatrically pushing himself to the edge of culture. However, I suspect that new Ogunquit Museum of Art director Michael Mansfield was hinting at something different – at Marin’s push toward the limits of language, to the points where painting pushes past our abilities with words.

Matisse is everywhere for Marin in “On the Verge.” We see him subtly in the dotted Post-Impressionist references in works like “Boat and Sea” (1946) and monumentalized in “Two Women by the Shore” (not dated). But Matisse is still famous for his struggle with Picasso (also Marin’s elephant in the room), so it’s not surprising that when Matisse appears, Marin is often in trouble. We see flashes of greatness when Marin is on his own; take, for instance, the impressively majestic “Mount Katahdin No. 2.” (1941) Mostly we see Marin at his best, struggling to unpack the visual ideas that make up the architecture of painting.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:

]]> 0"Deer Isle, Maine, No 1"Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:18:45 +0000
Book review: Malaga Islanders’ pain haunts S.M. Parker’s new young-adult mystery Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Readers will sense in the opening lines of “The Rattled Bones” the pull of a world beyond the normal bounds of time and space. “My mother had been pacing the lip of the ocean for hours, talking to the Water People the way she did. They tended to visit when the fog rose high, and the fog always rose high when my mother neared the sea.”

S.M. Parker’s new young adult novel, “The Rattled Bones,” is a ghost story, coming-of-age tale and historical novel all in one.

The Maine author sets it on our coast, not far from Malaga Island, a place haunted by history and the malevolence of outsiders. Islanders, descendants of Benjamin Darling, a black man who settled here generations back, with Abenaki Indians and a few Irish and Scottish fishermen mixed in, were forcefully removed in 1931.

Mainlanders viewed them as dispensable – immoral, disease-ridden and ignorant.

Many were interned on the mainland in Maine’s School for the Feeble Minded for the rest of their days – along with bones of their ancestors who’d been disinterred and removed so the state’s governor could build a hotel on the island to attract tourists.

As a small child, Rilla Brae, the story’s protagonist, watched her mother walk the shore, talking with the Water People no one else could see or hear. Her mother was eventually committed to a hospital.

The summer before Rilla is to start at Brown University on scholarship, her father dies alone aboard his lobster boat, the Rilla Brae, leaving Rilla solely in the care of Gram, her grandmother whose loving hand had raised her.

S.M. Parker

Rilla takes over hauling traps as captain of her father’s boat, feeling compelled to earn money to put aside to care for her grandmother after she leaves for school.

Working off of Malaga Island, Rilla, too, begins to hear voices. She spies a young girl on the uninhabited island. The girl sings as she runs into the forest.

When Rilla sees her again, carrying a baby, she goes ashore in search of her. She calls after her, but finds no one – except for a university student, Sam Taylor, doing archaeological research on the former island inhabitants. Rilla is drawn to him for his natural ease with her and also in part because he knows nothing of her crazy mother and the recent death of her father.

They share an interest in learning as much as possible about the former island residents.

Between hauling traps, Rilla begins spending time with Sam digging, literally and figuratively, for the truth of what happened to the people of Malaga Island. Sam’s interest is academic, but Rilla’s is personal, for she wants to know why their ghosts haunt her now like they did her mother.

The shame of what was done to the people of Malaga is deeply steeped in the local psyche, and Rilla is desperate to know if, perhaps, someone in her family played a part in their removal.

Rilla has more to contend with than voices calling to her. Someone cuts her lobster trap lines, sending a clear message that she’s not welcome on the water. Trouble erupts with her high school-dropout boyfriend, who is angered she’s going off to college. Gram, however, remains the steady rock in her life.

And the Water People keep calling to her. Come here, come here, my dear, my dear. She has nightmares about the singing girl with the baby. Some unseen presence carves messages into the sill of her window that looks out toward Malaga Island. “Find me. Don’t go. I’m here.”

As Sam helps her dig deeper into the mystery of the people of Malaga, she takes him on as her sternman to help pull more traps. Rilla keeps the secrets of her family from him, but Sam keeps secrets of his own. Raised in Arizona, he loves being near the sea. “The sea is like nothing else I’ve ever known,” he tells her. “It’s a fresh start.”

And Gram has secrets of her own … some she knows and some she hasn’t yet discovered.

The mystery of the singing girl with the baby, however, eludes their search. Census records give no indication of her presence on the island the year before the residents were removed.

“And … what if the girl has a story that can’t be told through the archives or your dig?” Rilla questions Sam. “What if the girl from the island has a story that she’s trying to tell me?

“Maybe this girl’s heart is connected to yours somehow,” Sam says. “Maybe that’s why you can see her.”

S.M. Parker’s story is wondrously compelling. Although it is targeted for young adult readers, it offers terrific storytelling that readers of all ages will respond to – wonderfully drawn characters, a great setting, a rich vein of historic truth that cries out to be broadly known, and a highly imaginative plot. I couldn’t put “The Rattled Bones” down.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize, created by novelist Barbara Kingsolver “in support of a literature of social change.” Smith can be reached via his website:

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 16:07:29 +0000
Colby family holds reunion at namesake college Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:38:17 +0000 WATERVILLE — Alice Dickinson, 97, sat admiring the works of Maine artist Marsden Hartley on Saturday at the Colby College Museum of Art – a museum that might not exist had it not been for the gift her relative, Gardner Colby, made to the college in 1864.

Then known as Waterville College, the institution was struggling financially and facing closure, and Colby offered an endowment of $50,000 if the school could raise $100,000 on its own, which it did, within two years.

Colby, a successful wool manufacturer from Massachusetts and formerly of Waterville, would become a member of the college’s board of trustees after that, giving the school a total of about $200,000 by his death in 1879 – but not before the college was renamed Colby College in his honor.

Dickinson, of New Hampshire, was attending the Colby family’s 64th annual reunion, held for the first time at Colby College. While her family has held reunions for about 100 years, it was celebrating its 64th as part of the Colby Clan Association, incorporated in 1954. Family members arrived Friday and will stay in Waterville through Sunday.

“It’s pretty nice,” Dickinson, a retired English teacher and Bates College graduate, said. “I’ve been coming to Colby reunions ever since they started.”

Dickinson was one of about 20 Colby descendants from all over the country to attend the reunion, which included a tour of the art museum with docent Pam Gemery, and lunch Saturday at Best Western Waterville Grand Hotel. A presentation, annual awards and business meeting and reports also were on the weekend agenda.

Barbara Zdravesky of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has been the association’s secretary for 15 years and said the group has met several times in New Hampshire, but the last time it met in Maine was in 2006, in South Portland. In 2002, the reunion was in Wiscasset, she said.

It was Zdravesky’s first visit to Colby. Asked how it felt to be on the campus of a College her ancestor helped save, she said it was a good feeling.

“Definitely for the Colby name there’s a lot of pride and there are many stories because there are many, many Colbys all over,” she said.

The reunion designates a different host every year and each year, the host determines the location, Zdravesky said. Laura Harris, 56, and her husband, Tommy, 58, of Ripley are this weekend’s hosts.

“We all belong to Anthony Colby,” Laura Harris said of Gardner Colby’s grandfather. “My grandmother was a Colby.”

She said it was special to have the first family reunion at Colby, since Gardner Colby contributed to its survival long ago.

“I’m glad, because to me, education is one of the most important things,” she said.

Glenn Poulin, 53, of Bath was attending his first Colby family reunion. An electrician at Bath Iron Works and a 1981 Messalonskee High School graduate, he said he rode the school bus in his youth along Washington Street near Colby but never knew the story of his ancestor, Gardner Colby.

“I only know a small portion of my Colby family, through the family association,” he said. “My mother was a Colby. She grew up in Jackman and now is Frances St. Armand and lives in North Carolina.”

Other attendees came from Texas, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Dorothy Greene, a cousin of Gardner Colby who lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in the summer and Austin, Texas, in the winter, said she was attending her third family reunion and had never been to the college.

“I’ve never been this far north in Maine,” she said.

Anthony Colby and his family lived in a house in Amesbury that was built in 1654 and now is owned by the town and is open to the public by appointment, family members said.

Vicki Gutenkauf of St. Paul, Minnesota, said she has attended reunions for several years and they always are held in New England.

“There are several famous Colby descendants that we know of – Joseph Smith, the father of the Mormons, President Chester Arthur and the Pillsbury family – and Laura Ingalls Wilder,” she said. “Her mother and my great-grandmother were second cousins.”

Colby College Communications Director Kate Carlisle welcomed the reunion members and took a photograph of them in the museum that she said she would post to the college’s Facebook page.

“We are delighted to welcome the descendants of our namesake, Gardner Colby,” Carlisle said. “This is the first time the family has actually met on Mayflower Hill and we’re tickled that they chose a museum tour as their significant activity this year.”

Gardner Colby was born in 1810 in Bowdoinham to Josiah C. and Sara Davidson Colby. Josiah, a shipbuilder and successful businessman, lost his fortune after the shipping embargo during the War of 1812, according to family literature. Gardner Colby spent part of his childhood in Waterville with help from then-Waterville College President Jeremiah Chaplin. Sara eventually went to Boston and Gardner eventually joined her there and became a successful merchant and businessman who dealt in manufacturing, shipping and railroads.

“Mayflower Hill, a History of Colby College,” written by Earl Smith, a former Colby dean, details Gardner’s role in helping to save the college and documents Gardner’s being a guest speaker at the Waterville College commencement dinner in the town hall in 1864 where he announced his $50,000 endowment.

“The audience sat in stunned silence and then erupted into wild cheering and stomping,” Smith writes on page 23 of his book. “Waterville College was not going to perish after all. Matching money was raised in two years.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

Twitter: AmyCalder17

]]> 0 Colby pushes the oldest living member of the Colby clan, Alice Dickinson, 97, during a tour of the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville on Saturday.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:08:51 +0000
Judge rejects bid by Roman Polanski’s victim to resolve case Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:00:00 +0000 LOS ANGELES — A judge has denied the impassioned plea of Roman Polanski’s victim to end the criminal case against the fugitive director.

Judge Scott Gordon ruled Friday that Polanski must appear in a Los Angeles court if he expects to have his four-decade-old case resolved.

The ruling follows a request by Samantha Geimer to end a “40-year sentence” she says was imposed on both perpetrator and victim. Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with Geimer when she was 13. He fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.

Geimer made her plea in court in June.

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:58:33 +0000
Nursing home wedding in Augusta shows it’s never too late Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:33:13 +0000 AUGUSTA — When Bryant Brunye asked Sonya Trott to marry him on July 8, the timing was spontaneous but the sentiment was not.

Brunye had been thinking about it for a while, and it was just time.

On Saturday, the two were wed in the community center of Gray Birch, MaineGeneral’s rehabilitation and long-term care facility in Augusta.

The Brunyes, Bryant, 79, and Sonya, 75, cut their cake, fed each other just a bite, tossed the bouquet and the garter and accepted the well wishes of friends and family.

Their romance, observers say, bloomed slowly from friendship to something more. Bryant Brunye, originally from Connecticut, and Sonya Brunye, who is from Augusta, have known each other for a couple of years. They have been seen holding hands at lunch and at movies. They have gone on trips together.

“It’s much better to travel with someone, particularly of this caliber,” Bryant Brunye said, looking over at his wife.

At that, she beamed.

On the day he proposed, he said, they were by themselves.

“I said, ‘Marry me,'” he said, retelling the event in his quiet and deliberate way.

Sonya Brunye said she was surprised.

“I never thought he’d ask me what he asked me,” she said. “He never gave me any indication.”

Her immediate answer: Yes.

Bobbie Jo Welch, the activities director at the facility, was in her office when Sonya came in with the news.

“It was kind of a surprise,” Welch said Saturday during the reception, where she and Melissa Black, the activities coordinator, fulfilled their roles as wedding planners to make sure the event progressed smoothly. “I guess I didn’t expect them to get married.”

In doing so, the Brunyes have made a little history at Gray Birch. In the two decades that Welch has worked there, this is the first time a wedding has taken place between residents. In her memory, Welch said, only one other wedding has taken place, between a resident and a volunteer.

With only six weeks, Sonya Brunye and her daughter went to work, along with Welch and Black, planning the wedding and getting everything done, from planning the menu and getting the marriage license to booking the entertainment and picking the colors.

This is the second wedding for Sonya, and it was, she said, far more elaborate than her first.

She chose the peach and aqua color scheme in honor of a late friend.

“She loved the colors,” Sonya Brunye said, “and she said she wanted them for her wedding.”

Her friend was killed in a car crash and never made it to her wedding, Sonya said.

For their wedding, they both wore those colors.

“This is better than we ever thought,” Bryant Brunye said. “We thought we would have a quiet, little event. It got out of hand.”

In all, about 50 people were on hand to celebrate the day.

As for their plans after the wedding, Sonya Brunye had this to say: “I’ll never tell!”

They might take a trip, but that’s for later.

On Saturday, the Brunyes were delighting in the celebration and in each other.

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” Sonya Brunye said.

“It’s a relationship we never even thought of,” Bryant Brunye said, “and it gets better by the day.”

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

Twitter: JLowellKJ

]]> 0 happy couple, Sonya Trott and Bryant Brunye, enjoy their wedding cake after exchanging vows Saturday afternoon at MaineGeneral's rehabilitation and long-term care facility in Augusta.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:43:08 +0000
What’s a Jefferson Davis plaque doing in downtown Portland’s Unitarian church? Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Go looking for Maine monuments to the Civil War, and you will find roughly 170 permanent memorials to Union soldiers that dot the state’s town squares and cemeteries.

But an enshrinement to a Confederate, deep in Joshua Chamberlain territory? Those are harder to find, and their days could be numbered.

Nailed to a pew inside the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Congress Street in Portland is a rectangle of brass honoring Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, possibly the only memorial in Maine dedicated to a leader of the soldiers in gray.

But a week after deadly violence erupted at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the midst of impassioned discussion over the removal of statues dedicated to Confederate leaders, First Parish is considering whether to remove the plaque, which has been, until now, mostly an oddity to church leaders, who have puzzled for years over how it got there.

A second plaque at Bowdoin College honors 19 alumni who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, including Davis, who received an honorary degree from Bowdoin. Bowdoin President Clayton Rose announced Saturday that artifacts “directly tied to the leadership of a horrible ideology are not meant for a place designed to honor courage, principle, and freedom,” and that the plaque would be moved into the college’s archives.

While Maine has not seen the same level of anger or anguish over how to treat – or remove – statues of significant historical figures, it has had to grapple with its own racial history when honoring figures that are significant to the state.

A statue of Portland’s founder, George Cleeve, was caught in controversy about 15 years ago when city officials refused to accept the statue because Cleeve was rumored to have owned a “colored servant” when he and his business partner Richard Tucker arrived on the peninsula in 1633, even though there was no proof that he ever owned a slave.

In Kittery this year, a new historical marker was dedicated to Gen. William Whipple, the only Maine native to sign the Declaration of Independence. Whipple owned a slave before the war for independence, but later expressed his support for emancipation.


While other Civil War monuments stand in hallowed spaces or depict revered men, the plaque in Portland does neither. Attached to a pew almost at ankle height, it is unreadable from eye level. The message blends into the many other memorials that dot the pews and walls of the historic church.

“In this pew worshipped Jefferson Davis secretary of war, U.S.A., 1853-1857,” it reads. “Presented by the Nashville Chapter No. 1 United Daughters of the Confederacy.”

Although Davis never lived in Maine, he vacationed here for two summers, in 1857 and 1858, the only time he is believed to have been in Maine.

“What strikes me about it is this is hardly a significant accomplishment in Davis’ life. What a weird thing to do, you know?” said Janet Puistonen, a First Parish trustee, who has been puzzling since the Charlottesville rally over why and how the plaque got there. Davis’ time in Maine is barely a footnote in his life.

After he served as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce until 1857, Davis returned to his seat as a senator from Mississippi. After an arduous winter in which he caught a serious cold, Davis and his wife spent a few months enjoying Portland’s summer to recuperate.

His visit was well documented at the time – a band serenaded him outside his Portland hotel, and Davis, known for his oratory, spoke before multiple groups, including local Democrats. He received an honorary degree from Bowdoin College while attending graduation exercises there in 1858, and was even a late addition to a bill of speakers at a high school graduation.

Erin Blakemore, a Colorado journalist and historian, said the donation by the Daughters of the Confederacy so far from the battlegrounds where the Civil War was fought fits into the organization’s campaign over decades, starting just after the war’s end, to redefine Confederate history in more favorable terms to the South and create a narrative of the “lost cause.”

“I also see it as a territorial move on the part of the UDC, to say ‘Hey, we’re here, and this narrative is here,'” Blakemore said. “One of the weirdest things, especially when you get to these higher-level figures (such as Davis), people wanted to reconstruct, like, every minute of these people’s lives. There is this PTA, ladies auxiliary, Junior League-type of aspect to these activities. I don’t know if it’s sinister necessarily, but these small ways, one plaque at a time, one pew at a time, is how these narratives become part of our culture.”

Blakemore said newspaper clippings from the Baltimore Sun and the Atlanta Journal Constitution from October 1952 tell how Glenn Long, of Newton, North Carolina, then the president-general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, presented the brass slab, proudly noting it was the only one of its kind in the Northeast, save for a marking in Brooklyn honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Long said Davis was described on the inscription as Secretary of War because “that’s what he was when he attended services here,” she told The Associated Press, according to the Oct. 20, 1952, edition of the Baltimore Sun.

The marker was accepted by First Parish’s then-pastor, the Rev. Alexander Winston, who said at the dedication service that Davis was one of the nation’s greatest men, according to the report. Winston’s sermon that day was titled “In Christ, No North or South.”

On Friday, a woman who identified herself as an archivist at the United Daughters of the Confederacy national office in Virginia refused to give her name and did not return a call seeking comment on the plaque.


The plaque is not the only commemoration in southern Maine of a historical figure with connections to slavery.

The marker dedicated to Whipple in Kittery mentions that his views of slavery evolved over time. He owned a slave and transported at least one shipload of slaves to the Colonies before renouncing slavery later in his life.

Maine State Historian Earl Shettleworth said Cleeve, Portland’s founder, had an indentured servant, not a slave. At the time of the controversy over the placement of Cleeve’s statue, his descendants presented evidence indicating that the man purported to be his slave, Oliver Weekes, was actually a sailor hired to assist Cleeve’s settlement in Portland. The council, however, was unpersuaded and public outcry scuttled plans to celebrate Cleeve, whose statue now stands on private property near Portland Harbor.

A year after Cleeve’s statue was moved to near the water’s edge behind a chain-link fence at Portland Yacht Services, the city refused to allow the Amistad replica ship to dock there. The Amistad was a 19th-century tall ship that was taken over by slaves and depicted in a movie of the same name.


Whether First Parish can easily remove the plaque dedicated to Jefferson Davis has not been decided. As the oldest place of worship in the city with roots that go back to the 17th century, the church has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Making changes to the building, large or small, is a complex process.

Puistonen said that immediately after bringing the plaque to the attention of other trustees and church leaders, the consensus has been to remove it. Davis’ values would have been at odds with the church’s values, both then and now, but she said no action has been decided upon, and she hopes only to start the conversation.

“The abolition movement was heavily, heavily associated with Unitarians,” Puistonen said. “So why on earth would (Davis) choose that as the place to attend is a puzzlement.”

Today, the First Parish congregation is active in the Black Lives Matter movement, supports equal rights for all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and welcomes people of all races, ethnicities and faith backgrounds to its services.

“We have a very historic church and there are people who are memorialized on the walls, including one of the early ministers, who owned a slave,” Puistonen said. “When you have that much history, you have the good and the bad. But as far as I can tell, Jefferson Davis didn’t really have any history with the church. So it’s one thing for us to own our early reprobate ministers. It’s another thing to own Jefferson Davis.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

]]> 0 plaque commemorating a visit to Portland by Jefferson Davis is seen Friday at the First Parish Church.Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:58:58 +0000
Reflections: What kind of sacrifices are you willing to make? Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 What kind of sacrifices are you willing to make?

Sacrifice is a word that has fallen out of favor in the public discourse. Presidents used to be able to say things like “We all must make sacrifices” without being run out of town. Even in spiritual circles, the term “sacrifice” along with others like “obedience” and “discipline” have been relegated to the archives of religious thought, old-fashioned notions that no longer apply.

The term sacrifice seems like a loaded word. The first definition that the dictionary gives is “an act of offering a deity something precious.” The idea of the sacrificial lamb in the Bible may not mean much to us, but it could have meant starvation to the people who were ritually giving that lamb to God. This act was meant to show great devotion to God as well as trust that even in giving up something they desperately needed for survival, they believed that God would take care of them.

As Americans we do not want to be told to give something up. The myth is that more is always better. If cellphones are good, then the latest is better. Why give up something if you can have everything? And we are told we can have everything, at least in a material sense and maybe in other areas too: the prefect partner, the perfect job, etc.

Gandhi says, “The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world.” Our very survival depends on the sacrifice of plants and animals. It is so easy for us to take this for granted as our modern food economy means we do not have to kill the chicken, gut the cow, plant the seeds, etc. We are removed from the sacrifices being made for us every day.

It seems to me that a true sacrifice can only be made if whatever is being given up is done voluntarily with real loss to the giver for what is perceived to be the greater good.

I think the first time I became aware of sacrifice in my life was when I became a mother. It was abundantly clear on the very first day of my son’s life that my life was now in service to his. If I did whatever I felt like doing without thinking of his needs first, he would not survive.

I may have mourned my seeming “freedom” of days before his birth, or certainly at times wondered what I would have done or been had I not made this choice, but it was clear to me that this sacrifice was the best thing that ever happened to me.

You might think that a child is not the best example of sacrifice because a parent, in giving up their former life, gets something in return, a child to love, someone to help with the jobs on a farm, to take care of you when you age, etc.. This may be true, although there are no guarantees in the world of parents and children. But what about sacrifices where the benefit is not so clear? Does God ask us to sacrifice?

Many of our religious stories and practices are built on sacrifice: giving up something for Lent, fasting during Ramadan, making amends during the Jewish days of atonement, letting go of ego in Eastern traditions, etc. These practices are designed to shake us out of our habits and routines, to bring us to greater awareness of how we impact the world for good or ill.

When thinking about sacrifice, it might be easier to think about something exterior we can give up, which for me might be chocolate, but I am thinking of a sacrifice that has more to do with an interior giving over. Can you give up your need to be in control, or to think of yourself as being unworthy of God’s attention? Can you give up the cultural and religious biases you were raised with? Are you willing to take your most stubborn and persistent inner demons, those you are aware of and maybe some you are not yet aware of, and offer their healing over to God? Do you even believe this kind of healing is possible?

This kind of sacrifice is certainly more difficult to see and reminds me a little of Jacob wrestling with the angel. That story, to me, is clearly about an inner struggle. From this perspective, I believe God does ask us to sacrifice. (I’m pretty sure eating chocolate is not high on Her list). From the other side of the struggle, it may not look like a sacrifice, because room is being created inside us for tolerance, for love, for God. But on the side where we cannot see how to go forward without these inner structures we have either created or been given in response to what life has given us, this sacrifice can feel like mortal combat.

It may not seem like the Hollywood version of someone leaping into the freezing water to save a child, without thought of one’s own safety, but I believe this inner sacrifice to be of great importance in our world. How can we respond differently to the suffering of the world if we are locked into one way of being as individuals and as a collective society? If we have no room inside us to heal our own inner demons, how can we expect to help heal those of the world? Gandhi understood the importance of exterior sacrifice as well as inner sacrifice and I believe he was talking about both when he said, “Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to truth and a more perfect purity of conscience.”

The Rev. Cathy M. Grigsby is an Interfaith minister who teaches at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, is the co-founder of the Interfaith Ministers of New England, an artist, a spiritual director and a retired art teacher.

She can be contacted at:

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:45:53 +0000
Kents Hill Orchard reopening just in time for pick-your-own season Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:56:36 +0000 KENTS HILL — It will be just like old times with the pick-your-own apples at Kents Hill Orchard reopening after a three-year hiatus.

John Harker, former director of production development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, took over management of the trees for Henry and Corinne Drake, who retired.

The stand of stooping apple trees sits just behind The Apple Shed Bakery at Kents Hill.

For a while the Drakes’ son Terry managed the orchard, but for the past three years, it was left fallow.

Harker, who leased the orchard from the Drakes after he returned to Maine full time last year, walked into the orchard at midweek, plucked a McIntosh from a limb and examined it.

“It’s probably still very, very green,” he said. “It’s coloring up good, though, and should be in full color here by Sept. 9.”

That’s the day the orchard will reopen for those who like to twist their own apples from the branches.


“You can tell they’re ready when the seeds start to turn brown,” Harker observed.

The orchard holds a variety of different apples.

Corinne Drake, 82, who ran Kents Hill Orchard with her husband, Henry, for years and founded the bakery in 1979, listed the apples still growing in the 3-acre section that will be available for picking.

The early apples are the Paula Reds, popular with people who want the first of the new crop.

Then the McIntosh, the Cortlands, the Galas, the Senshus, followed by the later apples, the Red Delicious, the Macouns and the Honey Crisps.

It comes down to personal preferences for tart or sweet apples.

When she made her apple pies for the bakery, Drake preferred the “perfect” combination of Cortland and McIntosh applies.

“The Cortland is perfect for baking because it doesn’t fall apart,” Drake said as she stood in bakery’s driveway looking over at the orchard.

“It keeps its shape. Mixed with the McIntosh, it makes a juice.”

She offered to help pick the Paula Reds, telling Harker, “Don’t wait too long; they’ll be on the ground.”

On Wednesday, Harker and his daughter Erin Fife presented Drake with a framed sketch of the Kents Hill Orchard logo, an image of a split red and green apple with a couple of seeds inside.

“Thank you. You deserve a hug,” Drake said to Fife.

Fife, who lives in Concord, Massachusetts, had worked two seasons at the orchard and bakery when she was a teen. She credited her husband, Brian, with redoing the logo.

“We had a lot of fun with it,” she said.

Henry Drake, 83, who ran a paper-making machine before deciding to work with apples full time, was a self-taught apple grower. Corinne Drake said the couple acquired their first orchard in 1963, moved to a second one in North Livermore in 1970 before taking on Kents Hill Orchard in 1975. Henry Drake retired about seven years ago.


“He knew where the first apple maggot was going to show up and he was right,” Harker said, explaining that he dealt with pests by spraying, following the Integrated Pest Management Program guidelines issued by the University of Maine Extension Service.

Most of the Drakes’ land on the hilltop was sold to the Maine Farmland Trust in 2009 and later went to Brian and Lee Ann Baggott in a deal to protect farmland. It now produces field corn, sweet corn and other vegetables.

But the Drakes kept 15 acres for themselves, 3 of them holding the apple orchard.

On Wednesday, a clear day, a stiff breeze crossed the hilltop.

“You can see all the way to Sugarloaf and Mount Blue,” Harker said. “On a really good day, if you were to stand on top of the barn there,” he added, pointing to a nearby two-story barn, “you could see all the way to Mount Washington.”


With a degree in horticulture, the experience gained in his former state job, and with his own wholesale cranberry plant business, Cranberry Creations in Mount Vernon, Harker had the know-how to do the pruning and keep the weeds under control so they didn’t drink up the precious rain.

“I am a friend of Henry and Corinne and could not see the orchard go downhill,” Harker explained.

Rod Cumber of Winthrop did the mowing.

“It’s different from doing the cranberries,” Harker said about working in the Drakes’ orchard. “The key for me about this whole thing is that they’ve been willing to keep this alive. They could have torn this whole thing down and put in a housing development. They’re hoping someone down the road will take it and run with it again. That’s not me.”

He anticipated a crop of about 800 bushels this year, with some of them available for sale at the bakery.

Trina and Bill Beaulier and their daughter Meggen have agreed to handle the sales during the weekdays, with Harker and his wife handling the Pick-Your-Own section on weekends.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:


]]> 0 manager John Harker has a degree in horticulture and was the former director of production development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:00:22 +0000
N.Y. church removes plaques honoring Lee; governor wants Confederate streets renamed Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:50:45 +0000 NEW YORK — Plaques honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee were removed from a church property in Brooklyn this week, and New York’s governor called on the Army to remove the names of Lee and another Confederate general from the streets of a nearby fort amid a national debate over whether monuments to Southern pro-slavery militants should be preserved.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote to Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, saying renaming Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue is especially important after events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed while demonstrating against a white nationalist rally.

“The events of Charlottesville and the tactics of white supremacists are a poison in our national discourse, and every effort must be made to combat them,” Cuomo said. “Symbols of slavery and racism have no place in New York.”

Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson both spent time at Fort Hamilton, well before the hostilities of the Civil War. The streets run on the base, and aren’t readily accessible by the general public.

Lee’s name also was on plaques on the grounds of a nearby church, the now-closed St. John’s Episcopal Church. The larger of the two plaques was placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1912.

It commemorated the spot where Lee is said to have planted a tree while serving in the Army at Fort Hamilton two decades before he became commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

The plaque marked a tree that was a descendant of the one Lee is believed to have planted. A second plaque made note of that.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which owns the property, said no one had really given much thought to the plaques, which were left behind when the church closed in September 2014.

A minister who called Tuesday reminded the diocese and suggested the plaques be removed, given Charlottesville.

“It was very easy for us to say, ‘OK, we’ll take the plaques down,” said Provenzano, who called them “offensive to the community.”

He was on-site Wednesday when workers used power tools to remove them. People opposed to the removal were there, including some yelling protesters.

The plaques will be kept in the church’s archives, but not put on display, Provenzano said.

“I find that fact that there’s controversy around this to be appalling,” he said. “We don’t agree with what happened in Charlottesville, and we don’t agree with what’s happening in the nation right now.”

]]> 0 remove two plaques honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee from the property of St. John's Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York, in the wake of last weekend's deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:01:47 +0000
Bishop involved in sex scandal steps down Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:17:56 +0000 BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian bishop who was seen on video engaging in sexual acts with a male student resigned Friday, the Romanian Orthodox Church said.

The patriarchy said the Bishop of Husi, Corneliu Barladeanu, 51, had decided to step down “for the peace and good of the church.”

He maintains his innocence and has not made any public comment.

The statement was issued at the end of a two-day Holy Synod where a sex scandal was discussed for the first time in its 92-year history.

There has been public furor in Romania over Barladeanu and another scandal involving a priest who had sex with a male student as believers are demanding more accountability from the church.

Outrage was heightened as the two cases involved homosexual acts. The church, however, insisted the bishop would have been similarly chastised if the alleged sexual misdemeanors involved a woman.

Barladeanu will no longer hold an official position, but he will remain a monk. Orthodox bishops are monks.

The statement said the resignation was the best outcome, because an investigation would last months and would “prolong the situation of uncertainty of the bishopry of Husi” in northeast Romania.

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:17:56 +0000
Taylor Swift leaves a ‘blank space, baby’ Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:08:04 +0000 NEW YORK — Taylor Swift had a “blank space, baby” across social media Friday – and Swifties couldn’t get enough of it.

There was no immediate word from the Swift camp on what happened Friday, but the “Blank Space” pop star is known for promotional trickery on her social streams ahead of major music drops.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, her website went dark and the hashtag “TS6IsComing” – as in her sixth album – was trending worldwide. Her profile pictures were also removed.

All of this comes days after jurors in Denver found a former radio host, David Mueller, assaulted Swift during a meet-and-greet in 2013.

—From news service reports

]]> 0 Swift performs at a concert in Houston, Texas. Swift's social media accounts went dark Friday, leading fans to speculate a new album would be forthcoming.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:08:04 +0000
Advisory arts panel resigns to protest Trump’s Charlottesville comments Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:13:05 +0000 The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel resigned Friday in yet another sign of growing national protest of President Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

Members of the President’s Committee are drawn from Broadway, Hollywood and the broader arts and entertainment community and released a letter later Friday explaining their decision, according to two people familiar with the decision who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the plans.

The commission was established by President Reagan in 1982. It is among the dozens of mostly ceremonial White House commissions that advise the president on issues ranging from business matters to education policy and physical fitness.

Members of the commission are Obama-era holdovers, including the actor Kal Penn, a longtime Obama supporter and former White House staffer; director George C. Wolfe; painter and photographer Chuck Close; Jill Udall, the former head of cultural affairs for New Mexico and the wife of Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.; and entertainment executive Fred Goldring, who helped produce the “Yes We Can” video with musician in support of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Their decision comes after two White House corporate advisory boards also disbanded this week in protest of the president’s comments. Those two panels included top corporate executives from JP Morgan Chase, Under Armour, Intel and Merck, among others.

Some members of the arts and humanities commission quit after Trump’s victory last fall, but the remaining commissioners agreed to continue in their roles until Trump named successors, according to the two people familiar with their plans. In recent days, however, they agreed it was time to resign and have spent the last several days drafting a letter explaining their decision.

The panel’s move is yet another blow to Trump, who has become more isolated than ever from the Republican Party and corners of official Washington in the wake of his decision to defend the actions of some people who gathered at a rally in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate-era statue.

The arts commission has focused on three main tasks: Promoting a program called Turnaround Arts that supports arts integration programs in mostly urban and rural schools; encouraging economic revitalization through the arts; and undertaking cultural diplomacy, including a visit to Cuba to meet with some of the island country’s artists and entertainers.

First lady Melania Trump serves as honorary chairwoman of the arts commission. As with most of these White House panels, it includes ex officio members drawn from across the government, who are not expected to step down. Those government members include the secretaries of Education, Treasury, State and Interior, plus Carla Hayden, the head of the Library of Congress; Timothy Horne, the acting administrator of the General Services Administration; philanthropist and businessman David Rubenstein, who is chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

White House officials had no immediate comment.

]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:27:17 +0000
Horoscopes for Aug. 18, 2017 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:00:08 +0000 0, 17 Aug 2017 14:55:23 +0000 New bookstore planned in Westbrook Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:47:27 +0000 Westbrook will soon have an independent bookstore, a coffee shop and bar – all rolled into one.

Quill Books and Beverage has announced plans to open in downtown Westbrook. The exact location is still not public as co-owners Matthew Irving and Allison Krzanowski finalize their lease, but they will host a used book sale at Mast Landing Brewing on Sunday to help with their startup costs.

“It’s going to be a pop-up bookstore,” Krzanowski said. “So they can expect to see the types of books at the prices we plan on selling for in the bookstore. They’ll get a feel for the selection we have.”

Irving and Krzanowski have never owned a bookstore before – she does social work and owns a business selling handwoven items, and he runs a bar in Portland. The idea was born when they bought a home in Westbrook last year.

“We wanted to meet other young people and meet people in the community and have a place people could gather,” she said. “We didn’t really find that, so we decided to create it.”

They hope to open Quill in late fall. The owners want the collection to reflect a diverse range of writers and experiences.

“We really want our entire community represented,” Krzanowski said. “LGBTQ people, people of color, Muslims, immigrants. We’ve been really working to have a finely curated collection.”

The store will sell books for all ages. Most will be priced from $6 to $8, though children’s and young adult books will cost $3 to $5.

The coffee shop will also serve beer and wine, and the menu will include breakfast and lunch items and evening snacks. Quill will host community events like book talks, poetry readings and art shows.

“We’re really trying to be a community focused space,” she said.

The business will need approval from the Westbrook Planning Board before it can open. The book sale at Mast Landing Brewing at 920 Main St. will last from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Updates about the store’s opening date and location will be shared on Quill’s Facebook page.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 11:43:43 +0000
Can’t see the solar eclipse? Tune in online or on TV Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:27:47 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Ronald Dantowitz has been looking forward to Monday’s solar eclipse for nearly 40 years.

An astronomer who specializes in solar imaging, he’s been photographing eclipses for more than three decades, and will be using 14 cameras to capture the Aug. 21 celestial event. The cameras have solar filters to capture the eclipse in its partial phases, along with custom modifications that can photograph the corona and light wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye, allowing scientists to view and study the sun’s temperature and composition in a way only possible during a total eclipse, he said.

Dantowitz, who is based at Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, Massachusetts, is lending his expertise to NOVA’s “Eclipse Over America,” airing at 9 p.m. Monday on PBS. That hourlong special, which will incorporate his images, is among extensive coverage planned on TV and online of the first solar eclipse to cross the United States in 99 years.

Still, witnessing totality — when the sun is completely obscured by the moon — is best done with the naked eye, not a camera, Dantowitz said, adding that protective lenses are needed to view partial phases of the eclipse.

“Enjoying totality by eye is more rewarding,” he said. “There is much to see: stars during the daytime, the million-degree solar corona, and seeing the sun blacked out during the daytime.

“I have been waiting almost 40 years for this eclipse, and although I will be operating 14 cameras during totality, I will certainly take a moment to gaze at the eclipse the same way people have done for thousands of years: with wonder.”

For those not in the 14 states comprising the eclipse’s “path of totality,” here’s a look at some of the viewing opportunities online and on TV:

“Eclipse of the Century “: In partnership with Volvo, CNN plans two hours of livestreaming, 360-degree coverage accessible in virtual reality through Oculus and other VR headsets beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. Accompanying television coverage will include reporting from Oregon, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina.

• “Eclipse Over America “: The PBS science series NOVA is planning a quick turnaround on its eclipse documentary premiering Monday. Senior executive producer Paula S. Apsell said.

“Eclipse Over America,” which delves into why eclipses occur and what scientists can learn from them, will incorporate images of the event from across the country shot earlier that day with Dantowitz’s high-tech cameras.

“Great American Eclipse “: The Science Channel will broadcast its live coverage from Madras, Oregon, from noon to 4 p.m. EDT, with commentary from educators and astronomers from the Lowell Observatory.

“The Great American Eclipse “: David Muir will anchor ABC’s two hours of live coverage, with correspondents reporting from viewing parties across the country. NBC also plans live coverage, with Lester Holt hosting special reports at 1 and 2 p.m. featuring correspondents reporting from Oregon, Illinois, Wyoming and South Carolina. Shepard Smith will break into typical broadcasting on Fox News Channel from noon to 4 p.m. to update viewers on the eclipse and introduce footage from NASA and observatories around the country.

“Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA “: NASA will offer hours of coverage online and on NASA Television beginning at noon Eastern. It plans livestreaming of the eclipse beginning at 1 p.m. EDT with images from satellites, research aircraft, high-altitude balloons and specially modified telescopes.

“The Total Solar Eclipse”: The Weather Channel is kicking off its live coverage at 6 a.m. EDT and continuing throughout the day with dispatches from seven locations along the “path of totality.”

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 20:27:47 +0000
Bonnie Tyler will sing ‘Total Eclipse’ for the total eclipse Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:40:14 +0000 MIAMI — Some cruise passengers will have the ultimate soundtrack for Monday’s solar eclipse when Bonnie Tyler sings her hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on board.

Royal Caribbean says the Welsh singer will be backed on the power ballad by Joe Jonas’ band DNCE for a performance in an outdoor theater on its ship Oasis of the Seas as part of a “Total Eclipse Cruise.”

The ship leaves from Florida on Sunday. It will sail through the Caribbean toward St. Maarten on Monday when the moon passes in front of the sun. A total eclipse will be viewable in a narrow band across the sea.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” topped the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1983. DNCE is best known for its 2015 hit “Cake by the Ocean.”

]]> 0 Caribbean says BonnieTyler will perform "Total Eclipse of the Heart" for the total eclipse Monday.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:31:11 +0000
Aretha Franklin set to retire, open her own club in Detroit Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:28:11 +0000 DETROIT — Aretha Franklin is set to retire in her hometown of Detroit and plans to open a nightclub in the city.

The legendary soul singer tells the Detroit Free Press that she is moving from her longtime home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

She also wants to open a small club that she plans to call Aretha’s. The 75-year-old says she’d like to sing at the club “from time to time” and host performers that are favorites of Detroit residents.

The Queen of Soul announced her retirement this year and said 2017 would be her last year of doing concerts. She plans to continue recording and is working to complete a new album.

]]> 0 Franklin performs the national anthem before an NFL game between Detroit and Minnesota.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:32:56 +0000
Horoscopes for Aug. 17, 2017 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:14:24 +0000 0, 17 Aug 2017 06:14:24 +0000 MaineToday Magazine: Yoga with goats is catching on Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:00:38 +0000 0, 17 Aug 2017 08:25:02 +0000 ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ production delayed as Tom Cruise’s ankle mends Wed, 16 Aug 2017 21:10:37 +0000 Production of “Mission Impossible: 6” has been suspended to allow star Tom Cruise to recover from a broken ankle he suffered over the weekend while trying a rooftop-to-rooftop jump in London.

Tom Cruise

“Tom Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt,” Paramount Pictures said Wednesday in a statement. “Production will go on hiatus while Tom makes a full recovery.”

The studio said that, despite the delay, “M:I 6” remains on schedule to open July 27, 2018.

Cruise is looking at six to 12 weeks of recovery, Variety reported. Deadline Hollywood put the delay at “a minimum of nine weeks.”

Cruise was injured while trying a stunt that had him cabled up and jumping from one rooftop to another. The actor, known for doing his own stunt work, slammed into the second building on at least two tries, as seen in videos published online.

After failing to hit his target the second time, Cruise clambered up onto the roof and came up limping, appearing to be in significant pain with an injury to his right leg.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 22:13:36 +0000
Daniel Craig returning in ‘Bond 25’ Wed, 16 Aug 2017 21:10:35 +0000 NEW YORK — Daniel Craig’s 007-era will die another day.

After months of gossip and denials, Craig on Tuesday night confirmed to Stephen Colbert on the “Late Show” that he will indeed return for another James Bond movie. The yet-titled film is due out November 2019.

“We’ve just been trying to figure things out,” Craig told Colbert. “I always wanted to. I needed a break.”

The 49-year-old actor’s stewardship of James Bond has spanned four films — and now will go for a fifth — but it has generated enough rumors to power the kind of doomsday device Bond is usually trying to stop.

Craig’s time as Bond has been distinguished. His “Skyfall” remains a high-point in both dollars and quality for the 55-year-olf franchise. His last one, 2015’s “Spectre,” grossed $880 million worldwide. Most consider him a terrific Bond who has raised the bar for the franchise, and his official return was greeted warmly on Wednesday.

But the Craig-era, far more than its predecessors, has been characterized by a steady supply of Bond drama. Rumors and debates over who should be the next 007 have been nonstop for years, as has Craig’s frequent hints about calling it quits. In 2015, he famously said he’d rather “slash my wrists” than make another Bond movie, a comment he later explained as a kind of joke from the fatigue of just completing one.

Yet even while Craig keeps donning the tux, the next-Bond handicapping has been a year-round business. Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Jack Huston and Riz Ahmed are just some of the actors who have been linked to the role — some of them for the better part of the decade.

Others have lobbied for a female 007, like Charlize Theron . Idris Elba has been a favorite for at least two years, going to back to when Bond author Anthony Horowitz suggested he was “too street” for the part.

The meetings of producer Barbara Broccoli are spied on as if they concern national security. In a way, they do. Bond is a nation-state of its own, with more than $7 billion in box-office revenues alone. And that’s a heavy burden for any actor to bear.

Craig’s constant dance with Bond has very possibly been a smart strategy to deflect some of that pressure. He has, perhaps more than anyone since Sean Connery, eluded being completely defined by 007. Last year he did “Othello” off-Broadway with David Oyelowo. He gives a comic turn in Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky,” out Friday.

It’s as though Craig has always wanted his future with James Bond a little up in the air — shaken, if you like — so as to avoid the stasis that could set in for a decades-old franchise now preparing its 25th films. Craig acknowledged on Colbert that his return had been settled months ago, meaning he was evading questions about Bond as recently as that morning when he told a Boston radio station that “no decision has been made.”

And even as he confirmed he was returning, Craig suggested it will be his last one.

“I think this is it,” he said. “I just want to go out on a high note.”

Though many surely will, don’t bet on it. Or to put it another way: Never say never again.

]]> 0 Craig, who told Time Out London in 2015 he'd rather slash his wrists than do another Bond film, is doing one.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:10:43 +0000
Horoscopes for Aug. 16, 2017 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 08:00:57 +0000 0, 15 Aug 2017 15:15:52 +0000 Maine natives make it to national finals of ‘American Ninja Warrior’ Wed, 16 Aug 2017 01:06:33 +0000 They’re not talking. Ask Jon Alexis Jr. and Jesse Labreck – both Waterville-area natives – how they did on the taping of the NBC sports reality show “American Ninja Warrior,” and they simply won’t say.

In the end, it’s the experience and their competitive natures that really matter.

“Personally, I dislike spoilers anyway, so it makes it easy for me,” said Alexis, of Waterville. “You develop a set of things you can say. It’s almost like a little game.”

“American Ninja Warrior,” in its ninth season, holds six regional qualifying events, running entrants through obstacles that require strength, agility, endurance and guile – to be completed in a certain amount of time.

In the Cleveland finals, which aired Monday night after being recorded in May, Alexis and Labreck – a native of the Waterville suburb of Oakland – were among 15 athletes who qualified for the national finals in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas event was taped in late June.

Labreck, 26, a former track and field star at the University of Maine, was the top female finisher in Cleveland.

“I was surprised at how hard the eighth obstacle was,” said Labreck, who was one of the 20 competitors eliminated by the Nail Clipper, a new obstacle. In the Clipper, competitors must work through four rolling gears that are suspended over a pool of water.

“That one zapped my energy really fast,” said Labreck. “That was the one surprise this time.”

Alexis, who finished fourth overall and had the fastest time through the first seven obstacles, also was eliminated by the Clipper. Only two competitors finished the course.

“I was expecting to go fast. I didn’t see too many obstacles where I would have to go slow,” said Alexis, 28, who is completing his electrical engineering degree at the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology. “It surprised me how many people fell out on the Nail Clipper. It’s a large span of obstacles and people with all different types of skill sets went down on it. That was pretty tough.”

Nicknamed “The Giant” on the show, Alexis is 6-foot-6. He said his size presents challenges.

“Carrying around more weight, it’s easier to tire your muscles out,” Alexis said. “You have to have decent endurance. With my hands and fingers being large, it’s harder to develop those tendons without being into rock climbing a lot. On (some obstacles) those kind of grips are tough.”

Alexis often mugs for the camera, including one obstacle where he looked at an overhead camera and winked while crossing the I-Beam Gap. In that obstacle, competitors work their way down a large metal beam from underneath, using hands and feet. The ledges of the beam vary in size throughout the run, which add to the difficulty.

Alexis believes the show captures his personality.

“I’d say a lot of it is me,” said Alexis, who was eliminated by the I-Beam Gap during a qualifying run earlier in the season. “I’m more comfortable now with the cameras and the crowd. I’m a pretty goofy dude and I like to think I’m funny. Hopefully, I am.”

Alexis and Labreck – who by contrast appears focused and serious during runs – agree experience is important.

“I really upped my training this year,” said Labreck, who became the second woman to complete a course during the Cleveland qualifier. “Dating someone who does “American Ninja Warrior,” that helps. Improving my grip strength helps. But any experience on the obstacles really helps. I would say the experience on obstacles is the biggest thing.”

Although with physical strength, athletes must be strong mentally.

Labreck, who manages a gym in Naperville, Illinois, relies on her record-setting career at UMaine for that mental edge.

“If you ask certain Ninjas, they’ll say it’s more mental than physical,” Labreck said. “Something always ends up happening (on the course), and a lot of people let it get to them. My track experience with (Coach) Dave Cusano at UMaine – he mentally prepared us before every season for track, so we were mentally preparing while we were physically preparing and getting stronger. I have that experience. That’s really what’s helped me.”

The finals will be televised Aug. 23-24 on NBC.

“I’d only tell you (what happened) if I wanted to get into big trouble with NBC,” Labreck said with a laugh.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 08:40:48 +0000
David Crosby: Ted Nugent not good enough for Hall of Fame Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:47:23 +0000 David Crosby says fellow rocker Ted Nugent has been kept out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because he’s not good enough, not because of his politics.

Crosby responded to a fan’s question about whether political correctness kept Nugent out of the Hall by tweeting Monday that Nugent “just isn’t good enough.” He also used an expletive to describe Nugent.

Nugent told Albany, New York, radio station WQBK-FM last week he hasn’t been inducted into the Cleveland-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of his support for gun rights and his membership on the National Rifle Association’s board of directors. The outspoken Nugent was a critic of Barack Obama’s gun control efforts and said at a 2012 NRA gathering that he’d be dead or in jail if Obama was re-elected.

Crosby has been inducted into the Hall twice for his membership in The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Nugent’s biggest hit is “Cat Scratch Fever,” which peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard chart in 1977.

]]> 0 Crosby, left, is content not to have to share space at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Ted Nugent, right, whom he says isn't good enough.Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:34:34 +0000
Second lawyer wants off Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:20:47 +0000 NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A second lawyer who defended Bill Cosby in his sex assault trial that ended with a deadlocked jury wants off the case before the start of his retrial that’s set for November.

Los Angeles-based lawyer Angela Agrusa filed documents Tuesday seeking to withdraw as Cosby’s counsel. Lead defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, of Philadelphia, asked to be taken off the case earlier this month.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill previously set a hearing for Aug. 22 to discuss that request. Agrusa wants that hearing delayed until Sept. 11.

District Attorney Kevin Steele is asking the judge to deny the request, saying it delays justice.

The comedian, 80, is being retried on charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand more than a decade ago.

]]> 0, 15 Aug 2017 20:42:21 +0000
Maine Public to screen highlights of Burns series ‘The Vietnam War’ before it airs Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:23:48 +0000  

Mainers will get the chance to see some of Ken Burns’ new PBS series, “The Vietnam War,” before it airs in September.

And they’ll get the chance to hear veterans and people who care for veterans talk about the war’s personal toll.

Maine Public, the state’s public TV and radio network, is hosting a series of community screenings of the film and some panel discussions as well. The series, which airs on Maine Public and other PBS stations beginning Sept. 17, is a 10-part, 18-hour look at the war by Burns and his longtime collaborator Lynn Novick.

But the screenings, beginning this week, will give people in Maine a chance to see an hourlong highlight film of the series in a theater setting. The first screening is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Camden Opera House. There will also be one Aug. 24 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland and another Aug. 29 at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre in Bangor. The events are free, but reservations are required. For tickets, go to and find “The Vietnam War” under events.

The screening at the Camden Opera House is being presented as part of the Points North Institutes’s monthly screening of documentary films. The institute runs the annual Camden International Film Festival.

The screenings in Bangor and Portland, as well as a sold-out one in Damariscotta on Aug. 22, will also feature panel discussions about the war and its impact on Mainers.

The discussions will be moderated by Adria Horn, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. One of the panelists will be Chris Beam of Lewiston, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and was later director of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives at Bates College. Other panelists will include health care professionals, educators and people who work with veterans.

Besides the free screenings, Maine Public is getting state residents involved in the discussion around the Vietnam War and Burns’ new series with a project called “Courageous Conversations.” People are asked to submit their remembrances of the war online to be shared on the Maine Public website. A day or so before the Sept. 17 premiere of “The Vietnam War,” some of the stories will air on Maine Public Radio. Videos of Mainers telling their stories will also be played at some of the screenings.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

Twitter: RayRouthier

]]> 0 photo, used in the upcoming PBS series "The Vietnam War," shows a 173rd Airborne Brigade paratrooper after an early morning firefight on July 14, 1966. Maine Public will hold advance screenings of highlights from the series, with panel discussions in August. The series will be on TV in September.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 00:11:21 +0000
Horoscopes for Aug. 15, 2017 Tue, 15 Aug 2017 08:00:03 +0000 0, 14 Aug 2017 13:46:35 +0000 ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ national re-release this week marks 50-year anniversary of the landmark film Mon, 14 Aug 2017 21:50:51 +0000 NEW YORK — “Bonnie and Clyde” might have indelibly captured the spirit of the anti-authoritarian ’60s with a pair of devil-may-care bank robbers from the ’30s. But it didn’t exactly roar into theaters when it opened 50 years ago.

The film, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the fatalistic outlaws, would become a cultural sensation, one of the biggest box office hits up until that point and a 10-time Oscar nominee. But on its initial release on August 13 in the midst of the Summer of Love, “Bonnie and Clyde” was virtually gunned down by bad reviews and a tepid reception at the box office.

“Bonnie and Clyde” returned to theaters Sunday to mark its 50th anniversary and it will again play nationwide on Wednesday as part of Fathom Events’ TCM Big Screen Classics series. It remains an epochal landmark in American movies: the first bullet fired in the coming of the “New Hollywood” of Coppola, Scorsese, Altman and others.

It’s fitting, in a way, that “Bonnie and Clyde” should be celebrated with a re-release. That’s how it established itself, in the first place.

“Bonnie and Clyde” made a small dent in its 1967 release, but it sparked a delayed response. This was before the days of wide release, and critics had considerable influence on the months-long rollout of films. Most outlets slammed the film, with many objecting to its cavalier violence. The New York Times called it “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ “

But “Bonnie and Clyde” caught on with others, notably Pauline Kael. Her New Yorker review called it the most exciting American movie since “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962).

Others flip-flopped. Months after Time magazine labeled it “a strange and purposeless mingling of fact and claptrap that teeters uneasily on the brink of burlesque,” the magazine put it on its Dec. 8 cover, calling it a “watershed picture.”

After making $2.5 million in 1967, “Bonnie and Clyde” grossed $16.5 million in its 1968 re-release, making it one of the top 20 highest- grossing films.

“The general opinion at the time was that if you have that kind of violence, you can’t mix it with humor. Well, we did,” said Beatty.

—From news services

]]> 0 Dunaway and Warren Beatty pose at a "Bonnie and Clyde" premiere. After early bad reviews, the 1967 film became a sensation. sensation after early badearly bad reviews, the film became a cultural it became a sensa sensation.Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:50:51 +0000
Jurors side with Taylor Swift in case of groping Mon, 14 Aug 2017 19:06:14 +0000 DENVER – Taylor Swift won $1 and long-awaited vindication Monday after a jury decided in a civil trial that a radio host groped her during a pre-concert photo op four years ago.

After a weeklong trial over dueling lawsuits, jurors determined that fired Denver DJ David Mueller assaulted the pop star by grabbing her backside during a backstage meet-and-greet. Swift hugged her crying mother after the verdict and reiterated how she wanted to stand up for other women.

“My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard,” the singer said in a statement, acknowledging her ability to afford attorneys to defend her in court. “Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

The six-woman, two-man jury also found that Swift’s mother and radio liaison were within their rights to contact Mueller’s bosses about the groping.

Mueller sued the Swifts and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million for his ruined career. At the end of the trial, the judge dismissed Taylor Swift from Mueller’s lawsuit, saying he failed to prove that she sought to get Mueller fired or had any reason to believe that someone else may have assaulted her.

“I’ve been trying to clear my name for four years,” Mueller said after the verdict. “Civil court is the only option I had. This is the only way that I could be heard.”

The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $1.

From the start, Swift’s side portrayed the encounter as a clear case of sexual assault, though they never reported it to police. Her mother tearfully testified that she asked Bell to reach out to Mueller’s employers at country station KYGO-FM instead because they wanted to handle the matter quietly and avoid exposing the singer-songwriter to publicity.

Bell contacted a station vice president and asked for an investigation of Mueller’s conduct. He also sent the station executive a photo taken of Swift, Mueller and Mueller’s then-girlfriend at the meet-and-greet.

In an hourlong stint on the witness stand last week, Swift blasted a low-key characterization by Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, of what happened. While Mueller testified he never grabbed Swift, she insisted she was groped.

“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.

“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added.

Mueller emphatically denied reaching under the pop star’s skirt or otherwise touching her inappropriately, insisting he touched only her ribs and may have brushed the outside of her skirt as they awkwardly posed for the picture.

That photo was virtually the evidence besides the testimony. In the image shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling. Mueller’s then-girlfriend is standing on the other side of Swift.

Swift testified that after she was groped, she numbly told Mueller and his girlfriend, “Thank you for coming,” and moved on to photos with others waiting in line because she did not want to disappoint them.

But she said she immediately went to her photographer after the meet-and-greet ended and found the photo of her with Mueller, telling the photographer what happened.

Andrea Swift testified that she asked Bell to call Mueller’s employers. They did not call the police to avoid further traumatizing her daughter, she said.

“We absolutely wanted to keep it private, but we didn’t want him to get away with it,” Andrea Swift testified.

Bell said he emailed the photo to Robert Call, KYGO’s general manager, for use in Call’s investigation of Mueller. He said he didn’t ask that Mueller be fired but that “appropriate action be taken.”

]]> 0 Swift is seeking a verdict that awards her $1, while holding David Mueller accountable for groping her during a photo session before a concert in Denver in 2013.Mon, 14 Aug 2017 20:29:31 +0000