Lifestyle – Press Herald Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Religion Calendar Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Food Drive. Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook sponsoring sixth annual food drive for the Westbrook Food Pantry. office@trinity, Friday to March 31.

Informal Worship Service. First Parish Congregational Church, UCC, 12 Beach St., Saco,, 8-8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Psalms, Bible Study. Each Sunday morning, led by the Rev. Merle Steva. First Parish Congregational Church, UCC, 12 Beach St., Saco,, 9-9:45 a.m. Sunday.

Buddhism Unwrapped. Practical aspects of being a Buddhist. $10 suggested donation. Merrymeeting Arts Center, 9 Main St., Bowdoinham., 10-11:15 a.m. Sunday.

UCC Lenten Series. How to stop cycles of revenge and hatred in our world. State Street Church, 159 State St., Portland,, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Yes … Peace Is Possible.” Class series. Donations accepted. Unity Church of Greater Portland, 54 River Road, Windham,, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Service of Comfort and Hope. Monthly service offered by First Parish Saco last Wednesday of each month. First Parish Congregational Church, UCC, 12 Beach St., Saco,, 7-7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

To God Be the Glory. A production about life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Free, St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic Church, Barrel Lane, York,, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday.

To submit an item for the Religion Calendar, go to and click on the calendar tab.

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Finding community, spirituality on 2 wheels Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:07:20 +0000 BOSTON — Bicycling through Boston’s twisting, traffic-clogged streets may seem more about self-preservation than spiritual enlightenment.

For the Rev. Laura Everett, her daily 6-mile commute is a way of connecting to her adopted city, its residents, and her sense of community and vulnerability.

Instead of hopping on the subway and popping up in another part of town, Everett said, bicycling has exposed her to the warp and weft of Boston’s neighborhoods and the people who animate them.

It’s also led her to a new sense of spirituality and inspired her to turn her experiences into a new book, “Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels.”

“Part of the regularity of a daily commute is what I think forms it to be a spiritual discipline,” said Everett, 38.

“That commitment to the same route time and time again, starting to see the same people, seeing the same neighborhoods, seeing the trees change from budding to bursting – that is where I started noticing this is really having an effect not just on how I move through the city, but on my soul,” she said.

Along the way, Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, stumbled on an impromptu congregation – a tribe of fellow bicyclists who share the joys and terrors of Boston’s byzantine streets.

She has married bicycle couples and officiated at an annual “blessing of the bicycles” in which bicyclists gather to pray for fellow cyclists who have died and let Everett and others anoint their bikes with a mix of holy oil and chain lube.

Everett’s most poignant contribution may be her participation in “ghost bike” ceremonies.

Ghost bikes refer to the practice of painting a bicycle and its tires solid white and locking it near where a bicyclist has died, often after being struck by a car or truck.

“Bicyclists have the experience of knowing our own vulnerability, and knowing that in some ways our safety is dependent on the actions of others,” she said.

Ken Carlson, head of the Somerville Bicycle Advisory Committee, first met Everett at a ghost bike ceremony for Cambridge bicyclist Marcia Deihl, who died in 2015 after being struck by a dump truck.

“I was really touched and impressed with Laura and her deep sense of empathy, sympathy and connection to the bicycle community,” he said.

Bicycling raises another spiritual challenge, Everett said: anger.

“What does it mean to absorb other people’s anger? What do you do with your own anger? How do you live in a system that’s unjust,” she said. “Those roads aren’t fair.”

One goal of her book was to ponder what she calls “an intentionally urban spirituality.”

“What if what is transcendent and what is heavenly is less like the Green Mountains of Vermont and more like Blue Hill Ave.?” she said, referring to a busy Boston thoroughfare.

Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union, sees the connection between cycling and spirituality.

“You’re thinking about your mortality on a daily basis and where you are going and how you are going to get there,” she said.

Everett didn’t always see herself as a bicyclist.

Although she rode for fun growing up in suburban New Jersey, it wasn’t until she moved to Boston and her car broke down on Interstate 93 that she turned to bicycling.

]]> 0 clergy placard on a bicycle belonging to Rev. Laura Everett, who wrote a book called "Holy Spokes."Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:16:11 +0000
Harrison Ford says distraction caused his near miss Fri, 24 Mar 2017 23:45:41 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Actor Harrison Ford was concerned about turbulence from a nearby airliner when he narrowly missed a passenger jet preparing to takeoff and landed on a taxiway last month at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, according to air traffic control recordings released Friday.

“I’m the schmuck who landed on the taxiway,” Ford told the tower shortly after touching down in his single-engine Aviat Husky on Feb. 13. “I was distracted by the airliner in moving when I turned into the runway and the wake turbulence by the Airbus.”

Air traffic control had cleared Ford to land on Runway 20L, but he came in on Taxiway C after flying low over an American Airlines Boeing 737 that was holding short of the runway and minutes from taking off. Taxiway C runs parallel to the runway.

Federal Aviation Administration officials say that landing on a taxiway, instead of a runway, is a violation of FAA regulations and can subject a pilot to disciplinary action.

The agency, which is investigating the incident, released the audio recordings of Ford’s air traffic control communications in response to nine Freedom of Information Act requests from the media.

According to the recordings, air traffic control cautioned Ford during his approach to maintain his separation from an incoming Airbus jetliner because of possible wake turbulence. Such turbulence is especially hazardous in the area behind an airplane during takeoffs and landings.

Ford acknowledged the presence of the Airbus.

As he landed, the Husky flew low over American Airlines Flight 1459 with more than 100 people aboard. The airliner was awaiting instructions to take off.

]]> 0 Ford during a Star Wars event in Sydney. Ford landed his plane in the wrong spot last month.Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:05:23 +0000
Pope urges leaders to eschew ‘false security’ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 23:40:09 +0000 VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis urged European leaders on Friday to resist the “false forms of security” promised by populists who want to wall themselves off and instead bank on a future of greater solidarity and union.

Francis welcomed 27 EU leaders to the Vatican on the eve of a summit to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the founding charter of the bloc. The summit falls just days before Britain triggers a procedure to leave the EU and comes amid a wave of anti-EU populist sentiment sweeping the continent that threatens the very essence of the EU.

In his remarks, Francis said Europeans seem to have forgotten the “tragedy” of the walls and divisions that inspired leaders decades ago to hope for a better future through union.

Today, he said, politicians are guided instead by fear and crises and fall prey to egotistical populism that “hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and looking beyond their own narrow vision.”

“Europe finds new hope when she refuses to yield to fear or close herself off in false forms of security,” he said. “Politics needs this kind of leadership which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the union as a whole develop harmoniously.”

It was the latest papal appeal to European leaders to resist the temptation of closing in on themselves amid economic troubles, migration crises and general distrust or indifference among ordinary Europeans about the EU project. Francis made a similar appeal to leaders during a 2014 visit to the European Parliament and more recently in accepting the Charlemagne prize, the annual award for contributions to European unity.

And it came at a particularly challenging time as the EU prepares to open Brexit negotiations with Britain after it voted to leave the bloc. Francis didn’t mention Brexit by name, though he spoke of the solidarity owed to Britain to mourn this week’s attack on Westminster Bridge and at Parliament that left five dead, including the assailant.

Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, has been particularly insistent that Europe continue to open its doors to migrants fleeing war and poverty, and he echoed that appeal in his remarks Friday. He said it wasn’t enough to think of migration as a question of numbers or security. Rather, it’s a question of culture and how Europe plans to recover its ideals rather than submit to fear, he said.

“Without an approach inspired by those ideals, we end up dominated by the fear that others will wrench us from our usual habits, deprive us of familiar comforts, and somehow call into question a lifestyle that all too often consists of material prosperity alone.”

At the end of the audience, Francis greeted each of the leaders and chatted amiably with them, giving a particularly warm hug to French President Francois Hollande. The leaders then posed with the pope for a photo in the Sistine Chapel in front of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” before getting to work for Saturday’s summit.

]]> 0 Francis addressed leaders of 27 European nations on the eve of their summit to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Pope urged those leaders to resist false promises of security from populist and nativist candidates and leaders.Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:08:19 +0000
Reflections: Passover should teach lessons of perseverance and hope Fri, 24 Mar 2017 22:30:00 +0000 It should never be too late to do the right thing.

In a little more than two weeks, Jews around the world will gather to celebrate The Festival of Passover. This holiday requires Jews to refrain from eating leaven and is highlighted by the Seder meal in which we retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. There are many stories to be shared and retold every year at this time, but do you remember the Bible story of The Golden Calf? It is a story about what happened after the story of Passover.

As this story is told, the nation of Israel had recently been redeemed from a life of slavery to the Pharaoh in Egypt. They were journeying through the desert on their way to the Promised Land and had just made one very important stop. They made camp at the base of Mt. Sinai to await the return of Moses, who had made his way to the mountaintop to receive the law and the Ten Commandments. They expected him to return in 40 days. When he did not return when they expected him, the nation rebelled and fashioned a calf from gold as an idol to worship instead of worshiping God. Of course, Moses returned a day later to find the golden calf. He was so upset at this betrayal that he dashed the stone tablets on the ground and broke them.

Approximately seven weeks before arriving at Sinai, the people had been taken from Israel through a great series of signs, plagues and wonders. They promised to worship the one and only God, yet at the first opportunity had turned away from that promise to return to idol worship. How is it that they could not sustain their faith and commitment to God, even after witnessing so many miracles, for more than just a couple of months? This was such a series of momentous events that we gather together every year, now almost 3500 years later, to retell the story. Shouldn’t that have been enough for them to keep their faith?

It was relatively easy for the people to promise to love and honor God right after witnessing the miracles of the redemption. They had been on a honeymoon of sorts. The challenge was to continue that behavior after the honeymoon. The true test of faith was to maintain their good behavior in the days and weeks following that awesome experience. They fell short of that goal.

What about life today? What happens after the honeymoon, or the first anniversary? Do we have the commitment and the staying power to be in it for the long haul? Many people start out with every intention to live a committed life, only to see themselves fall back on old habits and lifestyles when things don’t go the way they had expected. Should we be given another chance, whatever our shortcomings may be?

Perhaps the very important lessons we need to draw from this embarrassing episode in our history are, firstly, that people do sin, human beings do make mistakes, and even inspired people who saw the divine with their own eyes can mess up badly. Secondly, and even more importantly, that even afterwards there is still hope, no matter what.

I was privileged to be able to stand under a wedding canopy in Jerusalem last month for my own wedding. At the end of the ceremony I broke a glass with my foot under that canopy as my bride watched. This custom teaches a very important lesson about life to a bride and groom who are about to embark on their own new path in life. What happens immediately after the groom breaks the glass? Everyone shouts “Mazel Tov!” The message is clear. Something broke? OK, it’s not the end of the world. We can even laugh about it and still be happy. This too shall pass. This is such a practical lesson for a newlywed couple to learn.

It is possible to pick up the pieces in life. Whether it’s our relationships with God, our marriage partners, our kids or our colleagues, we can make amends and repair the damage. All too often when life becomes difficult, we don’t stick around to do the hard work that is necessary to improve our situation. The nation of Israel did it after worshiping a golden calf. We should remember whenever we feel there is no going back.

Rabbi Gary Berenson is the rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim and also serves as the executive director of The Maine Jewish Museum in Portland. He can be reached at:

]]> 0 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:38:26 +0000
Concert Review: DaPonte String Quartet masters Bach, Beethoven and Brahms Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:43:53 +0000 Devoting a concert program to “the three B’s” – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – is a quaint idea. You don’t hear the phrase much now. It seems like a glimpse back to the 1940s, when those composers were thought of as a classical music Mount Rushmore. Haydn and Mozart were out of luck, because their ancestors hadn’t taken a name starting with B; Byrd was too early and Bartók was too modern to be included, and poor Berlioz – the original third B, when the phrase was coined in the mid-19th century – was puzzlingly ousted to make room for Brahms.

If any ensemble can carry off a “three Bs” program without raising too many eyebrows, the DaPonte String Quartet can, and it did on Thursday evening at the Maine Jewish Museum. It even pushed the quaintness meter harder by giving its program a cute, alliterative title, “Bees in Your Bonnet.” (Listeners who found this an oddly staid program for this usually adventurous ensemble, fear not. The group’s May concert includes a work by the British composer Thomas Adès.)

An immediate problem for a string quartet intent on playing a “three Bs” program, of course, is that Bach did not compose for this combination of instruments. That was easily solved by turning to a work for which Bach did not indicate specific instruments – “The Art of Fugue,” a titanic compilation meant to demonstrate all intricacies of fugal and canonic composition, a subject on which Bach’s mastery has never been equaled. It is often heard as a keyboard work, or a piece for mixed strings, winds and harpsichord. But quartets often play it, too.

The DaPonte players – violinists Lydia Forbes and Ferdinand Liva, violist Kirsten Monke and cellist Myles Jordan – offered the first and last fugues in the set, the last left unfinished at Bach’s death, with a single line of the fugue trailing off and then stopping in midthought. The group made an effort to evoke Bach’s sound world by playing with virtually no vibrato, and the slightly tart timbres that period stringed instruments produce.

It worked for me, but it seems fair to register the demurrals of friends who are not fans of the early music sound, and for whom the group’s astringency registered as shrillness and uncentered intonation. The players themselves said nothing about their intentions, but the avoidance of vibrato in these fugues seemed the key to what they had in mind, particularly since they applied it so lavishly to the Beethoven and Brahms, where it is more historically suitable.

But debates about the quartet’s sound aside, what made the performance work was the linear clarity the players brought to the fugues. The interlocking relationship between the four lines was always fully in focus, and was the source of an unusual kind of musical excitement, based more on the ingenuity of the composition than on the virtuosic flash of the playing.

Unlike Bach, Beethoven and Brahms wrote quartets – but DaPonte sidestepped them, instead adding a second violist, Katherine Murdock, loaned from the Los Angeles Piano Quartet, to play Beethoven’s String Quintet in C (Op. 29) and Brahms’ String Quintet in G (Op. 111).

The Beethoven, composed in 1801, bears traces of both the rough-hewn humor of his early works and the bold expansiveness toward which he was heading. It had a warm, flexible performance here, with pointed phrasing as well as fluid tempos and dynamics that gave the piece a breathing, organic quality. And it benefited from especially vital playing by Forbes in its brisk finale.

The Brahms is clearly enjoying a burst of popularity in Portland. The DaPonte-Murdock performance was the third I’ve heard since August, after high-gloss, deeply involving accounts by the Portland Chamber Music Festival and the Portland String Quartet.

]]> 0 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 21:02:10 +0000
Horoscopes for March 24, 2017 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:55:40 +0000 0, 24 Mar 2017 07:55:40 +0000 Early job woes, early death? Maybe Fri, 24 Mar 2017 01:58:53 +0000 Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up.

The two Princeton professors say the trend affects whites of both sexes and is happening nearly everywhere in the country. Education level is significant: People with a college degree report better health and happiness than those with only some college, who in turn are doing much better than those who never went.

Offering what they call a tentative but “plausible” explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a “cumulative disadvantage” over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.

“Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high-school-educated working class after its heyday in the early 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline,” they conclude.

The study comes as Congress debates how to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act. Case and Deaton report that poor health is becoming more common for each new generation of middle-aged, less-educated white Americans. And they are going downhill faster.

In a teleconference with reporters this week, Case said the new research found a “sea of despair” across America. A striking feature is the rise in physical pain. The pattern does not follow short-term economic cycles but reflects a long-term disintegration of job prospects.

“You used to be able to get a really good job with a high school diploma. A job with on-the-job training, a job with benefits. You could expect to move up,” she said.

The nation’s obesity epidemic may be another sign of stress and physical pain, she continued: “People may want to soothe the beast. They may do that with alcohol, they may do that with drugs, they may do that with food.”

Similarly, Deaton cited suicide as an action that could be triggered not by a single event but by a cumulative series of disappointments: “Your family life has fallen apart, you don’t know your kids anymore, all the things you expected when you started out your life just haven’t happened at all.”

The economists say that there is no obvious solution but that a starting point would be limiting the overuse of opioids, which killed more than 30,000 Americans in 2015.

The two will present their study on Friday at the Brookings Institution.

“Their paper documents some facts. What is the story behind those facts is a matter of speculation,” said Adriana Lleras-Muney, a University of California at Los Angeles economics professor, who will also speak at Brookings.

She noted that less-educated white Americans tend to be strikingly pessimistic when interviewed about their prospects. “It’s just a background of continuous decline. You’re worse off than your parents,” Lleras-Muney said. “Whereas for Hispanics, or immigrants like myself” – she is from Colombia – “or blacks, yes, circumstances are bad, but they’ve been getting better.”

Whites continue to have longer life expectancy than African-Americans and lower death rates, but that gap has narrowed since the late 1990s. The picture may have shifted again around the Great Recession, however: Graphs accompanying the new paper suggest that death rates for blacks with only a high school education began rising around 2010 in many age groups, as if following the trend that began about a decade earlier among whites.

Case and Deaton play down geography’s role in the epidemic. Yet they note that white mortality rates fell in the biggest cities, were constant in big-city suburbs and rose in all other areas.

]]> 0 economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case continue to report on sickness and early death among white, middle-aged, working-class Americans. Yana Paskova for The Washington PostFri, 24 Mar 2017 08:16:47 +0000
Debbie Reynolds told son she wanted ‘to go be with Carrie’ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 01:46:34 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Todd Fisher says his mother, Debbie Reynolds, set him up “for her leaving the planet” the day his sister and Reynolds’ daughter, Carrie Fisher, died in December.

The 84-year-old Reynolds suffered a stroke and died one day after her 60-year-old daughter died following a heart attack. Todd Fisher told Entertainment Tonight that his mother told him she wanted “to go be with Carrie” before she died.

Fisher said he’s “really OK” with his mother’s death, but “not so OK” with his sister’s. He said the revival of the Star Wars films and Fisher’s role as Princess Leia meant she was in the middle of “her finest hours.”

]]> 0 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:46:34 +0000
Chandler Robbins, ornithology ‘giant,’ dies at 98 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 01:12:32 +0000 There were many days when Chandler Robbins rose before the sun to partake of the dawn chorus – the coo of the mourning dove, the dulcet strain of the American robin, the fluting of the wood thrush.

Among fellow birdwatchers, Robbins, who died March 20 at 98, was revered as a father of modern ornithology. He was the principal author of “Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification,” a bible for millions of birding enthusiasts.

Robbins documented avian life around the world, including on the Pacific island of Midway, where in 1956 he tagged a young Laysan albatross who came to be known as Wisdom. She is the oldest known wild bird, a matriarch who laid an egg as recently as December.

But for more than six decades, he worked primarily in the environs of Washington, D.C., as an ornithologist at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland. In the 1950s, he documented the damage wrought by the pesticide DDT, including its thinning effect on osprey and eagle eggshells. Rachel Carson, a colleague at the time, relied on his research for her 1962 environmental manifesto “Silent Spring.”

An early champion of citizen science, Robbins founded the North American Breeding Bird Survey, an initiative that has grown since its founding in 1965 to involve thousands of volunteer birders in an annual effort of exacting rigor to measure the continental bird population. It is one of the two most significant avian monitoring programs of its kind. Robbins participated in the other, the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, for more than 80 years, said its director, Geoff LeBaron.

“It is not an exaggeration at all to call him one of the giants of 20th-century ornithology and bird conservation,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, said.

Robbins said that his first conscious memory was of a display of mounted birds at the library in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he was born Chandler Seymour Robbins on July 17, 1918. His father was a birder, and Chandler’s brother Samuel also grew up to be a noted ornithologist.

He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University in 1940 and a master’s degree in zoology from George Washington University a decade later.

He declared himself a conscientious objector during World War II and joined the Civilian Public Service, work that brought him to the Patuxent Research Refuge. He retired in 2005 but continued field research until recently.


]]> 0 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:12:32 +0000
Cardinal William Keeler dies at 86 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:52:25 +0000 CATONSVILLE, Md. — Cardinal William Keeler, who helped ease tensions between Catholics and Jews and headed the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S. for 18 years, died Thursday. He was 86.

Archbishop William Lori announced in a statement that Keeler died at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville. No cause of death was released.

Keeler retired in 2007 as the head of the archdiocese of Baltimore.

He devoted much of his clerical life to improving ties with other denominations, especially Jews. From 1992 to 1995, he was president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also served as moderator for Catholic/Jewish Relations and was a member of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

In a 1993 interview, Keeler said he developed his strong ecumenical bent while attending summer camp as a boy with Protestants and Jews. The experience, Keeler said, offered him “many opportunities to work with people from other churches and to engage in a kind of informal dialogue with them, to see their goodness and their interest in things that were good.”

Keeler was a priest for 37 years and served as an expert adviser to Pope John XXIII at the reforming Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

He took over the Baltimore Archdiocese in 1989 after serving as bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was elevated to cardinal on Nov. 26, 1994.

Keeler said he chose the priesthood as a way to thank God.

“I thought, ‘The Lord has blessed me, and how can I say thanks and what would be the best way?’ And it got clearer and clearer that this is what I should do,” he said.

Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas, and grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He attended St. Charles Seminary at Overbrook in Philadelphia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1952. He received a degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1956 and a doctorate in canon law in 1961. He was ordained on July 17, 1955.

As president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, it was Keeler’s job to keep conference business moving but also to mediate potentially divisive issues, such as the role of women in the church and the celibacy of priests.

Perhaps the high point of Keeler’s career was Oct. 8, 1995, when Pope John Paul II visited Baltimore. The pope led a Mass for 50,000 people at the Baltimore Orioles’ stadium.

]]> 0 William KeelerThu, 23 Mar 2017 20:52:25 +0000
Dylan talks Sinatra, Ali in rare interview Thu, 23 Mar 2017 23:46:12 +0000 NEW YORK — Bob Dylan opened up about his music and songwriting and discussed his relationships with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and others in a rare and lengthy interview posted exclusively to his website Wednesday.

In the Q&A with author Bill Flanagan , Dylan recalled Sinatra telling him, ” ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there … These other bums are from down here.”‘

“I remember thinking that he might be right,” added Dylan, who last year was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature but did not show up to accept the award.

A person close to the Dylan camp, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Dylan wanted to do an interview for his website and Flanagan, a writer and former MTV executive, agreed to do it.

“No money or other compensation was involved,” the person said.

Of the many superstars who died last year, including Muhammad Ali and Merle Haggard, Dylan said in the interview the deaths hit him hard.

“We were like brothers, we lived on the same street and they all left empty spaces where they used to stand. It’s lonesome without them,” he said.

When asked about why Presley didn’t show up for a recording session with Dylan and George Harrison, he replied: “He did show up – it was us that didn’t.”

Dylan, 75, said he was also a fan of Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27.

“She was the last real individualist around,” he said.

Dylan will release a new triple disc album of standards called “Triplicate” on March 31.

]]> 0 interview with Bob Dylan written by Bill Flanagan was posted to Dylan's website on Wednesday.Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:46:12 +0000
Maine artist using his work to start dialogue on addiction Thu, 23 Mar 2017 23:36:36 +0000 WATERVILLE — On a bright but cold Thursday morning, Michael Libby stood in Thomas College’s Ayotte Auditorium, where a week earlier his artwork had brought the community together for a discussion on drug addiction.

Libby, 57, a Waterville native who lives in Lewiston, is an artist as well as a certified alcohol and drug counselor, and this spring he expects to graduate from the University of Southern Maine with a master’s degree in psychiatric rehabilitation counseling.

In Ayotte Auditorium, he stood before a section of an exhibit he has shown a handful of times in Portland and Lewiston. The exhibit at Thomas – which was taken down Thursday – is about addiction; but as Libby describes it, it is also about personal loss.

“Art has a way of objectifying ideas,” he said.

And art can provoke strong public response. Libby plans to take his art to an even higher level, literally, with a 30-foot-tall hot air balloon shaped like the chemical compound of heroin.

Over the course of 20 years, Libby lost three of his four siblings to drug- or alcohol-related deaths. His brother Reno died of a heroin overdose in 1992. It was after that when Libby began walking in Portland parking lots. Eventually he began sketching them. Later, he put the lots onto canvas, painting abstract images of bird’s-eye views of the areas he walked.

“Part of my motivation is to learn about myself,” Libby said, “but the show is also about saying goodbye and welcoming grief.”

The Thomas display contained about a third of his entire exhibit, Libby said, with two parking lot images and a quilt he had made in 2013. In describing the quilt, Libby addressed what he saw as the real issue with addiction. Especially with the opioid epidemic in the state, he said, the real issue is a desire on the part of the user to solve an issue of alienation.

“Heroin isn’t killing people; loneliness is,” Libby said.

Libby’s quilt is titled “Opium: A Comforter” – comfort is one of the things someone is looking for when they turn to opioids, he said. He said heroin creates a chemical sensation of love.

Part of the work in creating the art was a desire to understand those feelings of alienation better and to try to find an answer for it. He said some kind of support needs to be provided to replace the chemical feelings of love and comfort created by heroin.

“We can all relate to loneliness,” he said.


Libby said he wants to continue exhibiting his work, and hopes to do a five-mill-town tour, with stops between Biddeford and Bangor.

Libby said he wants to bring the exhibit to mill towns both because he’s from Waterville – where several manufacturing businesses have closed in recent decades – and because it seems like mill towns are hit harder by heroin addiction.

Mainers are dying in record numbers because of drug overdoses, with 378 fatalities in 2016, a 40 percent increase over the 272 in 2015.

Libby said he has spoken with Waterville’s arts commission about a public display, but any future plans would depend on securing funding.

Libby said he wouldn’t want to set up a permanent location for his art, and he wouldn’t consider selling it. That’s because he considers the art more of a backdrop, a way to get people into a room and begin a community dialogue about the issues behind the art.

“Connecting with an audience and the public is really the motivation for the art,” he said.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

Twitter: @colinoellis

]]> 0 Michael Libby discusses his art and project "On Getting High: Mapping Addiction at Home," displayed Thursday at Thomas College in Waterville. The artwork is his response to the opiate crisis and its impact on families, including his own.Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:38:54 +0000
John Hashian, former drummer for Boston, dies at 67 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 23:21:42 +0000 NASHVILLE, Tenn. — John “Sib” Hashian, former drummer for the arena rock band Boston, died on board a cruise ship Wednesday. He was 67.

His son, Adam Hashian, said Thursday a cause of death had not yet been determined.

Hashian was listed as one of the featured performers on the Legends of Rock Cruise, which departed from Miami on Saturday and was scheduled to visit Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Hashian played on Boston’s first two hit records: their self-titled debut album in 1976, featuring the hit song “More Than a Feeling,” and the 1978 followup, “Don’t Look Back.”

The original band, made up of Tom Scholz, Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau, Fran Sheehan and Hashian, had one of the most successful debut records in history, selling over 17 million copies, with the singles “Long Time” and “Peace of Mind.”

Hashian’s wife, Suzanne Hashian, said in a statement that arrangements would be made at a later date.

]]> 0 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:19:15 +0000
Don McLean’s ex-wife says tweet constituted contempt Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:32:55 +0000 CAMDEN — The ex-wife of Don McLean wants the American Pie singer found in contempt of court for tweeting about her shortly after she was granted a protection order.

A Maine court granted the order for Patrisha McLean this month. Don McLean pleaded guilty last year to domestic violence assault.

Patrisha McLean filed papers seeking a contempt order Tuesday in court in Ellsworth, Maine.

She says she was disparaged by Don McLean less than 48 hours after the protection order was issued. His verified Twitter account posted a message saying he was “delighted” to give his ex-wife a protection order “since it protects me from her for two wonderful years.”

Don McLean’s attorney says the allegation is “unfortunate” and that McLean will keep their ongoing disagreements in court.

]]> 0 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:32:55 +0000
U.S. Dept. of Interior considers allowing employees to bring dogs to work Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:57:12 +0000 WASHINGTON – The Cabinet secretary who rode a horse to work on his first day is letting his employees bring their dogs to the office.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will announce in an email to employees Thursday morning the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays in May and September.

The new policy will make Interior the first federal agency to go dog-friendly – and cement Zinke’s status as the Trump administration’s most visible animal fan. Zinke earlier this month arrived at his new workplace astride Tonto, a bay roan gelding who belongs to the U.S. Park Police and resides in stables on the Mall.

President Trump, meanwhile, remains pet-less, a status that makes him the first U.S. leader in 150 years without a companion animal and leaves the White House without a first dog or cat. Vice President Pence and his family keep two cats and a rabbit at their Naval Observatory home, though those critters keep a relatively low profile.

Zinke, a fifth-generation Montanan, former Navy SEAL and congressman, said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the far-flung Interior agency, which includes the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and six other departments. Interior ranked 11th in employee morale of the 18th largest federal agencies in last year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey, with just 61 percent of its 70,000 employees saying they’re happy in their jobs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, right, with his wife, Lolita, and their Havanese dog, Ragnar. Photo courtesy of the Department of Interior

“I’m taking action to establish a pilot program for Doggy Days at Interior!” Zinke will say in his 9 a.m. missive to Washington-area employees, which shows two photographs of him with his wife, Lolita, and their 18-month-old black and white Havanese dog, Ragnar.

“Opening the door each evening and seeing him running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” Zinke’s e-mail says. “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

The new policy, which has never been tried in the risk-averse federal government, puts the Trump administration in the vanguard of public institutions with dog-friendly policies. Members of Congress have been bringing their dogs to the U.S. capitol since the 19th century, but few other taxpayer-funded workplaces have gone to the dogs.

Private companies, on the other hand, are increasingly touting their dog-friendliness as an employee perk. Among the most prominent are Kimpton hotels, the biotech firm Genentech and Google, which says in its code of conduct that “affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture.”

In a survey conducted last year by Banfield Pet Hospital, the nation’s largest chain of veterinary clinics the vast majority of U.S. employees and human resources managers at pet-friendly companies said the policies improved morale, lowered stress and decreased guilt about leaving pets at home.

Zinke, an avid hunter and fisherman, promised on his first day as secretary earlier this month to bring a dog-friendly office policy to Interior, which has 70,000 employees across the country. The pledge, along with his promise to preserve public lands, drew loud applause as he addressed employees in the headquarters cafeteria.

“It’s a very exciting initiative that’s close to his heart,” said Heather Swift, a Zinke spokeswoman. “Every day he visits a different hallway in the building to introduce himself and somebody asks him when we’re going to have puppy days.”

But there are obvious concerns about having dogs at the office, which is why the policy is launching slowly as a pilot, officials said. Zinke’s staff has been consulting with agency attorneys in recent weeks to work out parameters for the dogs, including whether they’ll need to be leashed or will be limited to a certain size. It’s likely they’ll be to be fully housebroken, be vaccinated, and have no history of aggression, Zinke will tell employees Thursday.

Other possible complications when Fido reports to Interior: Fleas, bites, people with allergies, and pets who may, in a new environment, relieve themselves indoors.

“I understand some of you may have concerns about this policy,” Zinke’s e-mail says. Employees who “would rather not interact with dogs at the workplace” will be allowed to telework when dogs are around or have “other flexibilities.”

Ragnar was a frequent visitor to Zinke’s Capitol Hill office and rode on his campaign bus in when Zinke was running for Congress. Ragnar is also the secretary’s fishing companion, though he does not join him on hunting trips.

]]> 0, 23 Mar 2017 15:46:36 +0000
Horoscopes for March 23, 2017 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:02:15 +0000 0, 23 Mar 2017 08:02:15 +0000 This week in MaineToday Magazine: ‘Swan Lake’ courtesy of Maine State Ballet Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:00:20 +0000 0 by C.C. Church, courtesy of Maine State Ballet.Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:39:20 +0000 Colin Dexter dies at 86; created Inspector Morse Thu, 23 Mar 2017 02:09:14 +0000 Colin Dexter, a British grammar school teacher turned author who created Inspector Morse, a curmudgeonly detective who adores real ale, poetry, Wagnerian opera and crossword puzzles and who became the hero of more than a dozen novels and a popular television series, died Tuesday at his home in Oxford, England. He was 86.

In announcing his death, Pan Macmillan publisher Jeremy Trevathan said that Dexter “represented the absolute epitome of British crime writing.” No cause was provided.

Adapted for public television and shown in 33 episodes in 200 countries between 1987 and 2000, the mysteries of murder most foul – in the academic serenity of Oxford – were no match for the brains and wit of Inspector Morse, who eventually solved the fatal and fiendishly complicated riddles, sometimes long after the fact.

The show’s producers once claimed to The Washington Post that 1 billion people around the world watched Inspector Morse and his sidekick Sgt. Lewis bring culprits to justice or at least to public exposure. In reruns, the audience has only swelled.

Inspector Morse was played by John Thaw, a British actor who died in 2002, and Kevin Whately portrayed Lewis; Dexter often made cameo appearances, playing variously a tourist, a doctor, a prisoner, a bishop and a bum.

A spinoff series based on Lewis and starring Whately ran on British TV from 2006 to 2015. In recent years, actor Shaun Evans played a young Morse in the prequel series “Endeavour.”

In a measure of Inspector Morse’s popularity, there were tours of Oxford with visits to real-life pubs he was said to have frequented and stops at fictional murder sites.

Dexter’s awards included two Golden Dagger prizes from the Crime Writers Association of Britain and its lifetime achievement award in 1997, a Diamond Dagger.

Norman Colin Dexter was born in Stamford, England, on Sept. 29, 1930, a birthday he shared with the fictional Endeavour Morse. He did not reveal Morse’s first name until late in the series.

In the final Inspector Morse book, “The Remorseful Day” (1999), the title character dies a natural death, although perhaps hastened by alcohol, tobacco and too little care of himself.

“I didn’t kill him off,” Dexter told The Post. “He just died.”

On the day the last Inspector Morse book was published, the lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus carried the message “R.I.P. Morse.”

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:16:26 +0000
Alligators make a splash, but invasive species pose greater risk in Maine Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:24:29 +0000 The discovery of five alligators in a taxi attracted a lot of attention in Augusta Tuesday, but such exotic animals pose relatively little risk in Maine compared with other invasive species.

Greater threats to Maine’s woods and waterways are species such as the green crab, the emerald ash borer and the northern pike. However diminutive those species might look next to an alligator, they actually can survive here. Alligators, on the other hand, naturally occur in the southeastern United States and could not survive the winters in Maine.

“It’s very unlikely (alligators) could become established in the wild in Maine, just because of the climate here, versus where they’re from naturally,” said Nate Webb, a biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, on Wednesday.

Police located the alligators in a taxi that had just arrived at the Concord Coach Lines bus station in Augusta. They were being kept in a plastic box, and their alleged owner, 20-year-old Yifan Sun, told police that he was taking a bus to Waterville to show them to his friend. Sun also said he was planning to ship the alligators to someone in Texas.

The officers seized the animals and charged Sun with importing or possessing wildlife without a permit. The young reptiles, each about a foot long, then were taken to a regional office of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife in Sidney.

A combination of state, federal and independent agencies works to contain damage from invasive species that are already here while also looking out for new ones. Such invasive species can harm some of Maine’s major industries.

Originally from Europe, green crabs reached American shores in the mid-1800s and have increased dramatically along Maine’s coast in recent years, feeding on blue mussels and soft-shell clams and threatening those fisheries, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Another species that has gained a foothold in Maine is the northern pike, which has been released in some lakes where they threaten other fish species, Webb said.

Northern pike have “completely restructured the fish community in those lakes,” Webb said. “They changed it from more of a cold-water, salmon-and-trout system to one that’s dominated by pike and some other warm-water species. It’s something people probably don’t often think about because it’s a sport fish as well, and people like to catch them, but they’re not actually native in a lot of the locations where they are in the state.”

Wildlife officials are also on the lookout for the emerald ash borer, an Asian insect that feeds on ash trees and has decimated forests in New Hampshire, Webb said. The threat to Maine forests is serious enough that the state prohibits importation of firewood from other states so larvae can’t be brought in.

“The stakes are pretty high, and for us it’s all about prevention,” Webb said. “Whether it’s a reptile or an amphibian or a bird or a fish, trying to prevent those species from becoming established either by preventing the importation in general or just being very careful about who’s allowed to import them.”

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

]]> 0 Maine Warden Service confiscated these five baby alligators Tuesday at the Concord Coach Lines bus station in Augusta and cited their apparent owner with importing or possessing wildlife without a permit.Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:31:48 +0000
A ‘much happier’ Brad Pitt turns to sculpture Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:37:59 +0000 Angelina Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt have reportedly spoken to each other directly.

“He’s very relieved that things are not playing out in public anymore,” a source told People in an article out Wednesday, calling the estranged couple’s detente “a work in progress.”

The two are still negotiating their split, the source said, but Pitt is “much happier.”

The source would seem to be someone working on image rehab (no, not that kind of rehab) for Pitt, as the magazine also has a feature about how the “Moonlight” executive producer is totally into making sculpture these days. And who doesn’t like sculpture?

“People close to him are happy that he has found something new to be passionate about,” a source told People for the story about the new hobby.

The “Allied” actor, 53, had been taking it on the chin for a while in the wake of his September split from Jolie, his partner for more than a decade and wife since August 2014.

The two parted ways abruptly when Jolie, 41, filed for divorce – a Pitt source said at the time that it was a “complete shock” – after a family dust-up on a private plane. She accused Pitt of getting physical with their eldest son, Maddox, and involved the authorities. The “World War Z” star was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, but a temporary custody agreement struck by the couple limited his visitation and involved a therapist.

Pitt showed his face in a surprise appearance during the 2017 Golden Globes broadcast in January. A day later, after aggressively going back and forth for weeks in public court filings about custody, the estranged couple struck a deal to resolve their split in private, enlisting the assistance of a private judge.

]]> 0 Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt are on speaking terms these days as they negotiate their divorce.Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:37:59 +0000
Viral video shows Elmo getting fired after cuts to PBS Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:31:10 +0000 A viral online video imagines lovable “Sesame Street” character Elmo getting fired because of budget cuts to PBS.

Elmo doesn’t take the news well, complaining that he’s worked at “Sesame Street” for 32 years.

He also wonders what’s going to happen to his medical insurance, given that he has a pre-existing condition.

Elmo isn’t the only “Sesame Street” character laid off in the scenario; Cookie Monster and Telly have also been let go.

President Trump’s proposed budget seeks to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund PBS.

]]> 0, 22 Mar 2017 18:39:22 +0000
Horoscopes for March 22, 2017 Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:58:55 +0000 0, 22 Mar 2017 07:58:55 +0000 Chuck Barris, creator of ‘Gong Show,’ TV game empire, dies at 87 Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:59:40 +0000 NEW YORK — Chuck Barris, whose game show empire included “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game” and that infamous factory of cheese, “The Gong Show,” died at 87.

Barris died of natural causes Tuesday afternoon at his home in Palisades, New York, according to publicist Paul Shefrin, who announced the death on behalf of Barris’ family.

Barris made game show history right off the bat, in 1966, with “The Dating Game,” hosted by Jim Lange. The gimmick: A young female questions three males, hidden from her view, to determine which would be the best date. Sometimes the process was switched, with a male questioning three females. But in all cases the questions were designed by the show’s writers to elicit sexy answers.

Celebrities and future celebrities who appeared as contestants included Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and a pre-“Charlie’s Angels” Farrah Fawcett, introduced as “an accomplished artist and sculptress” with a dream to open her own gallery.

After the show became a hit on both daytime and nighttime TV, the Barris machine accelerated. New products included “The Newlywed Game,” “The Parent Game,” “The Family Game” and even “The Game Game.”

At one point Barris was supplying the television networks with 27 hours of entertainment a week, mostly in five-days-a-week daytime game shows.

The grinning, curly-haired Barris became a familiar face as creator and host of “The Gong Show,” which aired from 1976 to 1980.

Patterned after the Major Bowes Amateur Hour show that was a radio hit in the 1930s, the program featured performers who had peculiar talents and, often, no talent at all. When the latter appeared on the show, Barris would strike an oversize gong, the show’s equivalent of vaudeville’s hook. The victims would then be mercilessly berated by the manic Barris, with a hat often yanked down over his eyes and ears, and a crew of second-tier celebrities.

Occasionally, someone would actually launch a successful career through the show. One example was the late country musician BoxCar Willie, who was a 1977 “Gong Show” winner.

He called himself “The King of Daytime Television,” but to critics he was “The King of Schlock” or “The Baron of Bad Taste.”

As “The Gong Show” and Barris’ other series were slipping, he sold his company for a reported $100 million in 1980 and decided to go into films.

He directed and starred in “The Gong Show Movie,” a thundering failure that stayed in theaters only a week.

Afterward, a distraught Barris checked into a New York hotel and wrote his autobiography, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” in two months. In it, he claimed to have been a CIA assassin.

The book (and the 2002 film based on it, directed by George Clooney) were widely dismissed by disbelievers who said the creator of some of television’s most lowbrow game shows had allowed his imagination to run wild when he claimed to have spent his spare time traveling the world, quietly rubbing out enemies of the United States.

“It sounds like he has been standing too close to the gong all those years,” quipped CIA spokesman Tom Crispell. “Chuck Barris has never been employed by the CIA and the allegation that he was a hired assassin is absurd,” Crispell added.

Barris, who offered no corroboration of his claims, was unmoved.

“Have you ever heard the CIA acknowledge someone was an assassin?” he once asked.

Seeking escape from the Hollywood rat race, he moved to a villa in the south of France in the 1980s with his girlfriend and future second wife, Robin Altman, and made only infrequent returns to his old haunts over the next two decades.

Back in the news in 2002 to help publicize “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” Barris said his shows were a forerunner to today’s popular reality TV series.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Charles Barris was left destitute, along with his sister and their mother, when his dentist father died of a stroke.

After graduating from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1953, he took a series of jobs, including book salesman and fight promoter.

After being dropped from a low-level job at NBC, he found work at ABC, where he persuaded his bosses to let him open a Hollywood office, from which he launched his game-show empire. He also had success in the music world. He wrote the 1962 hit record “Palisades Park,” which was recorded by Freddy Cannon.

Barris’s first marriage, to Lynn Levy, ended in divorce. Their daughter, Della, died of a drug overdose in 1998. He married his third wife, Mary, in 2000.

The AP’s Bob Thomas contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

]]> 0, 22 Mar 2017 17:53:40 +0000
Feeling like too much of a pessimist? Just wait awhile Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:56:41 +0000 NEW YORK — Feel down about getting older? Wish your life was better? Worried about all the problems that come with age?

A new survey suggests you need only wait: Many pessimistic feelings held by people earlier in life take an optimistic turn as they move toward old age. Even hallmark concerns of old age – about declining health, lack of independence and memory loss – lessen as Americans age.

“The younger generation is less optimistic,” said Dr. Zia Agaha, chief medical officer at West Health, a nonprofit focused on aging issues whose related research institute released the poll Wednesday with the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. “Perhaps as they age they will build resilience and they build the capacity that will help them cope better.”

Generally speaking, optimism about growing older increased steadily with age, the poll found. Among people in their 30s, 46 percent described themselves as mostly or somewhat optimistic about aging, compared with 66 percent of people 70 and older. Likewise, respondents showed a decade-by-decade increase in feeling confident, not helpless, about aging, and in assessing their finances positively.

When asked to rate their quality of life, people noted an improvement as they moved from their 50s to their 60s and beyond. Among respondents 70 and older, two-thirds rated their life excellent or very good, compared to about half of 30-somethings.

Among some metrics, pessimism appears to grow as people move out of their 30s into middle age before falling late in life. Those 70 and older were least likely to express worry about age bringing poor health, a move into a nursing home or memory loss. They also were least likely to fear old age could prompt them to be disrespected or become a burden on their families. People in their 60s and beyond had the lowest fear of losing independence.

]]> 0 Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:34:34 +0000
Off-Broadway staple ‘The Fantasticks’ will close Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:32:53 +0000 NEW YORK — The off-Broadway phenomenon “The Fantasticks” will end its record-breaking run this spring, bringing down the curtain on a show featuring confetti and a cardboard moon that started when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

The musical, which features the songs “Try To Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” will close June 4, having played a total of 21,552 performances in New York City, producers said Tuesday.

For nearly 42 years the show chugged along at the 153-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, finally closing in 2002 after 17,162 performances – a victim both of a destroyed downtown after 9/11 and a new edgy mood. It opened four years later at The Theater Center, an off-Broadway complex in the heart of Times Square, where it will end after a run of 4,390 shows.

The tale, a mock version of “Romeo and Juliet,” concerns a young girl and boy, secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters. It long ago won the title of world’s longest-running musical. “The Phantom of the Opera,” by comparison, is Broadway’s longest-running show with some 12,000 shows.

]]> 0 of the now-off-Broadway show "The Fantasticks," James Cook, left, production stage manager, and actors Natasha Harper and Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone in New York.Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:07:53 +0000
Divorced couple get a second chance in ‘Wrong For Each Other’ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:19:47 +0000 Most of us have had at least one relationship that went south, for one reason or another. What would it be like to meet that person again years later? The Public Theatre gives a mismatched couple a second chance at love in Norm Foster’s “Wrong For Each Other,” directed by Christopher Schario.

Jason Cadieux and Lee Fitzpatrick are Rudy Sorenson and Norah Case, a couple whose marriage fell apart three years and nine months prior. When the two bump into each other at a restaurant, feelings are rekindled as they reminisce about their tumultuous past.

Using flashbacks, Rudy and Norah take the audience on a journey through their lives, revealing how the unlikely couple fell in love and the events that led to their divorce.

It’s an emotional ride as the pair revisits the highs and lows of their relationship, bringing laughs and tears. The audience laughed Friday night when the lights dawned on Rudy and Norah reenacting riding a carnival roller coaster nine years earlier. In a reversal of their personality traits, he was desperately trying not to vomit, while she fearlessly threw her arms up in the air.

The characters are dramatically different. Rudy is accustomed to going after what he wants, doing and saying whatever it takes to get it. He’s a sports-loving building painter with a close-knit family that owns a market vegetable stand.

Norah’s mother left when she was little, leaving her to be raised by her father, who is a member of the symphony. She keeps her cards close to her chest, afraid to want too much. When the couple first met, Norah had just ended her relationship with Norville, an oboe player 16 years older, and was managing the local Civic Center.

Cadieux and Fitzpatrick highlight their characters’ differences, giving Rudy a likable, yet scheming demeanor that contrasts sharply with Norah’s standoffish fragility.

Foster parcels out the humor in “Wrong For Each Other,” sprinkling witty dialogue amongst the rehashed drama of Rudy and Norah’s lives. Cadieux embraces Foster’s wit, charming the audience with one-liners that tickle the funny bone.

To accommodate the play’s many locations, set designer Judy Staicer has crafted a dreamlike set. Her restaurant has a romantic quality with an open-air patio and an ambiguous décor that stirs the imagination, allowing the cast to transport the audience back and forth in time and place.

In keeping with Foster’s artistic style, “Wrong For Each Other” offers a quirky look at life, mixing humor with pathos. The play gets the audience to use its imagination and ultimately draw its own conclusions.

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2017 22:45:26 +0000
Philharmonia Quartett Berlin captures a young Mozart and a bitter Beethoven Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:19:25 +0000 Orchestra players, when they are in a grumpy mood, complain that, though they are highly trained professionals, their work turns them into cogs in a huge machine and that when they perform the miracles of synchronization necessary to create a great performance, someone standing silently on a podium waving a stick gets all the glory.

One way orchestras circumvent these frustrations is to encourage their players to form chamber groups within the ensemble. This is a win for all concerned. The players have the best of both worlds – the prestige of the orchestral jobs and the opportunity to explore repertory that puts their individual strengths more fully in the spotlight. For the orchestra, besides keeping the players happy, these ensembles further project the larger organizations branding.

The Philharmonia Quartett Berlin, formed in 1984, is made up of members of the Berlin Philharmonic. Daniel Stabrawa, the quartet’s first violinist, is one of the orchestra’s three rotating concertmasters, and Christian Stadelmann, the second violinist, is one of three principal second violinists. Violist Neithard Resa and cellist Dietmar Schwalke are members of their respective sections. (Next season, Portland Ovations will present the Berlin Philhamonic’s wind players.)

The quartet came to Hannaford Hall on Sunday afternoon, courtesy of Portland Ovations, with a program that was not only a demonstration of chamber playing at its highest level, but also underscored the ways composers think differently about chamber and orchestral works.

Composers like Beethoven and Shostakovich, who were each represented on Sunday by late works, created their orchestral scores as grand public pronouncements, cast in bold strokes and full of sharp contrasts, and eventually came to regard their chamber works (especially their quartets) as decidedly more personal statements – the equivalents of diary pages or heart-to-heart talks with a close friend.

The third composer on the program, Mozart, is a different case. Almost all his music embraces both public and private elements, and the work the Berlin musicians played, the Quartet No. 8 in F major (K. 168), is an early score – composed when Mozart was 16 – that is bright and outgoing, and has all the hallmarks of a piece meant for public entertainment.

That, at least, is how it looks at a glance. But the ensemble’s performance, which was warm, precise and the picture of textural transparency, uncovered other layers, too, including evidence of the young Mozart’s musical fascinations. His most immediate influence, here, is generally said to have been Haydn. Yet the Berlin players’ reading of the Andante, a dark, focused canon, revealed an almost Bachian formality. And if the courtly, Haydnesque Menuetto has you wondering whether the Bach connection was just your imagination, the brisk finale – a spirited fugue – pulls you back into Bach’s world.

It was a huge leap from the cheerful innocence of Mozart to the dour intensity of Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 15 in E-flat minor (Op. 144), the composer’s final work in the form, completed in 1974, a year before his death. All six of its movements are Adagios, and the fifth is a funeral march, but within its unremittingly bleak, mournful contours, there is considerable variety – theme fragments that make their way around the circle of players, idiosyncratic waltz figures, violin soliloquies, and dynamic bursts – that capture the anger, frustration and depression that plagued Shostakovich through a career of dealing with the demands of, and harassment by, Soviet officialdom.

The players captured the work’s simmering anger and disappointment vividly, and with a kind of virtuosic restraint, before turning their attention to Beethoven’s Quartet No. 15 in A minor (Op. 132). Like Shostakovich, Beethoven was nearing the end of his life when he composed the work, and he also had reason to be bitter (his deafness not least among them). But if an undercurrent of tragedy comes through the opening movement, Beethoven’s defiance comes through, too. Its slow movement, a soulful prayer of thanksgiving after recovering from a severe illness, is the pivot here; the movements that follow are bright and energetic.

The Berlin musicians gave the Beethoven piece an artful, prismatic and, most of all, impeccably balanced performance and offered some early Beethoven – the light-spirited Scherzo of the String Quartet No. 6 (Op. 18, No. 6) – as an encore.

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 Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:03:44 +0000
Curtain coming down on ‘The Fantasticks’ after 21,552 shows Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:11:37 +0000 NEW YORK — The off-Broadway phenomenon “The Fantasticks” will end its record-breaking run this spring, bringing down the curtain on a show with confetti and a cardboard moon that started when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

The musical, which features the songs “Try To Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” will close June 4, having played a total of 21,552 performances in New York City, producers said Tuesday.

For nearly 42 years the show chugged along at the 153-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, finally closing in 2002 after 17,162 performances – a victim both of a destroyed downtown after 9/11 and a new post-terrorism, edgy mood. It opened four years later at an off-Broadway complex in the heart of Times Square, where it will end after 4,390 shows.

The tale, a mock version of “Romeo and Juliet,” concerns a young girl and boy, secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters, including a rakish narrator, an old actor, an Indian named Mortimer and a mute.

It long ago won the title of world’s longest-running musical. “The Phantom of the Opera,” by comparison, is Broadway’s longest-running show with some 12,000 shows. The only rival to “The Fantasticks” is “The Mousetrap” in London, which is the longest-running show in the world, having passed 26,000 performances.

Scores of actors have appeared in the “The Fantasticks,” from the opening cast that included Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner, to stars such as Ricardo Montalban and Kristin Chenoweth to Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham.

In 2015, producers also declared the show would close that summer but two donors stepped up and pledged to keep the stalwart, low-tech show open. This time, producers mean business: They’ve scheduled a new show, “The Crusade of Connorstephens,” to start previews June 17 in the same theater.

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2017 18:58:06 +0000
Horoscopes for March 21, 2017 Tue, 21 Mar 2017 11:50:54 +0000 0, 21 Mar 2017 07:50:54 +0000 Happiest people live in Norway, report finds Tue, 21 Mar 2017 01:52:03 +0000 OSLO, Norway — If you want to pursue happiness, grab a winter coat.

A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.

What makes Norway and other northern European countries top the happiness list has a lot to do with a sense of community and broad social welfare support, according to experts and cheerful Norwegians, including one whose job is to make people laugh.

“The answer to why Norwegians are happy – it’s a bit boring – it’s well functioning institutions,” said Norwegian comedian Harald Eia. “The schools, health care, police, all the bureaucracy treat people with respect and that trickles down and makes us happy, makes us trust each other, makes us feel a part of the whole community. So it’s very boring: Bureaucrats are the secret to our happiness.”

Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite lower prices for oil, a key part of its economy.

In the United States, happiness has been declining for the past decade even as the nation has become richer.


The United States was 14th in the latest ranking, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Americans steadily have been rating themselves less happy.

“It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, is it worth it?” asked John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada (ranked No. 7). “The material can stand in the way of the human.”

Studying happiness may seem frivolous, but serious academics have long been calling for more testing about people’s emotional well-being, especially in the United States.

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report recommending that federal statistics and surveys, which normally deal with income, spending, health and housing, include a few extra questions on happiness because it would lead to better policy that affects people’s lives.

Norway moved from No. 4 to the top spot in the report’s rankings, which combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016. Norway edged past previous champ Denmark, which fell to second. Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top 5.

“I think it’s the work-life balance. So we have a big safety net, so we get free education, free health care, so it’s really good,” said 29-year-old Marin Maal in Oslo. “And we’re close to nature.”

Still, you have to have money to be happy, and it is no coincidence that Norway is one of the richest nations in the world. It’s also why most of the bottom countries are in desperate poverty.

But at a certain point extra money doesn’t buy extra happiness, Helliwell and others said.

Central African Republic fell to last on the happiness list, and is joined at the bottom by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.


The report ranks 155 countries. The economists have been ranking countries since 2012, but the data used goes back further so the economists can judge trends.

The rankings are based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy with four factors from global surveys.

In those surveys, people give scores from 1 to 10 on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are.

While most countries were either getting happier or at least treading water, America’s happiness score dropped 5 percent over the past decade.

Venezuela and the Central African Republic slipped the most over the past decade. Nicaragua and Latvia increased the most.

Study co-author and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in a phone interview from Oslo that the sense of community, so strong in Norway, is deteriorating in the United States.


“We’re becoming more and more mean-spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising,” Sachs said, citing research and analysis he conducted on America’s declining happiness for the report.

“It’s a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse.”

University of Maryland’s Carol Graham, who wasn’t a study author but did review some chapters, said the report mimics what she sees in the American rural areas, where her research shows poor whites have a deeper lack of hope, which she connects to rises in addictions to painkillers and suicide among that group.

“There is deep misery in the heartland,” Graham, author of the book “The Pursuit of Happiness,” wrote in an email.

It baffles Norwegian comedian Eia.

“Why can’t Americans, who are the brightest people in the world, do the same thing as we do to make the happiest people?” Eia asked. “I don’t get it.”

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2017 21:52:03 +0000
Restoration of Jesus’ burial shrine finished Mon, 20 Mar 2017 23:45:08 +0000 JERUSALEM — The tomb of Jesus has been resurrected to its former glory.

Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried.

Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone façade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.

“If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”

The fund provided an initial $1.4 million for the $4 million restoration, thanks to a donation by the widow of the founder of Atlantic Records. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also chipped in about 150,000 euros each, along with other private and church donations, Burnham said.

The limestone and marble structure stands at the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest churches – a 12th-century building standing on 4th-century remains. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of exposure to environmental factors such as water, humidity and candle smoke.

Three main Christian denominations jealously guard separate sections of the church, but they put aside their longstanding religious rivalries to give their blessing for the restoration. In 2015, Israeli police briefly shut down the building after Israel’s Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe, and repairs began in June 2016.

A restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens stripped the stone slabs from the shrine’s façade and patched up the internal masonry of the shrine, injecting it with tubes of grout for reinforcement. Each stone slab was cleaned of candle soot and pigeon droppings, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were inserted into the structure for reinforcement, and frescos and the shrine’s painted dome were given a face-lift.

The restorers also made some discoveries.

On Oct. 26, the team entered the inner sanctum of the shrine, the burial chamber of Jesus, and temporarily slid open an old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus’ body is said to have been placed.

Below the outer marble layer was a white rose marble slab engraved with a cross, which the team dated to the late Crusader period of the 14th century.

Beneath that marble slab was an even older, gray marble slab protecting the bedrock, and mortar on the slab dates to the 4th century, when Roman Emperor Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built.

]]> 0 renovated Edicule is seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the site of the burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday.Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:48:39 +0000
Roman Polanski’s lawyer asks judge for clue about sentence Mon, 20 Mar 2017 22:45:10 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Roman Polanski’s attorney implored a judge Monday to signal how the fugitive director would be sentenced if he returned to Los Angeles to resolve his long-running underage sex abuse case.

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon heard arguments in the four-decade-old case but gave no immediate indication of how he would rule, saying he would issue a written order.

Polanski’s lawyer, Harland Braun, said he was trying to find a solution for a unique case.

But a prosecutor said the Oscar winner was trying to get special treatment and dictate how the case proceeds from afar.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said Polanski needed to appear in court to resolve the charges and urged the judge to reject what she called an attempt to give a “wealthy celebrity different treatment than any other fugitive.”

The hearing was the first time in seven years that a Los Angeles judge has considered Polanski’s case, which dates to 1977.

Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and part of a sedative pill, then raping her at actor Jack Nicholson’s house.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor but fled Los Angeles on the eve of sentencing in 1989. Since then, his movements have been restricted to France, Poland and Switzerland.

The victim has said she forgives the “Rosemary’s Baby” director and believes the case should end.

Polanski, 83, has long contended that he is the victim of judicial misconduct because a now-deceased judge who handled the case suggested in private remarks that he would renege on a plea bargain and sentencing agreement.

]]> 0 Polanski is shown during a break in a 2015 hearing in Krakow, Poland, concerning a U.S. request for his extradition.Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:57:01 +0000
‘Big Bang Theory’ extended for 2 more years Mon, 20 Mar 2017 22:35:42 +0000 NEW YORK — CBS says it has reached a deal with producers of “The Big Bang Theory” to keep the show on the air for two more years.

The network said Monday it agreed with Warner Brothers Television to extend the show that debuted in 2007. Along with the drama “NCIS,” it is consistently one of the two most popular shows on television when original episodes are aired.

No details about the agreement were released. Producers have agreements with actors Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar to continue for two more years, and are negotiating similar deals with Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

]]> 0 Parsons, from left, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar appear in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory." The four comedic actors are the highest-paid on TV.Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:38:49 +0000
Horoscopes for March 20, 2017 Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:33:56 +0000 0, 20 Mar 2017 07:33:56 +0000 Concert Review: Portland show deftly explores an early music parallel universe Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:47:47 +0000 The final concert in the early music series at St. Luke’s Cathedral Chapel in Portland was to have been a program of Baroque Italian tenor duets by Monteverdi and his contemporaries, but a last-minute scheduling conflict forced Timothy Burris, the lutenist who runs the series, to scramble for a replacement.

His solution was to look at a parallel universe: Italian composers of the early 17th century gave way to their French counterparts, and Timothy Neill Johnson, who was to have sung in the original program (he is the tenor in Music’s Quill, the series’ resident ensemble), was joined by Joëlle Morris, a very fine mezzo-soprano who teaches at Colby College, instead of another tenor.

In terms of subject matter, the original and replacement programs were similar, since 17th-century composers in both countries were preoccupied with the joys, pains and perils of love, and to a lesser extent, the joys, pains and perils of drinking. But the French and Italian musical accents are quite different. The Italians prized drama as an undercurrent of their vocal settings; the French valued suppleness.

As it turns out, early music fanciers can have it both ways, since the Italian program has been rescheduled as part of next season’s Portland Early Music Festival, in October.

Music Quill’s modus operandi is to split its programs between solo sets for each of the performers, and full ensemble pieces, so along with the promised duets, each singer offered solo songs (accompanied by Burris), and Burris played a handful of solo lute and theorbo works.

Most of Burris’ solo turns were theorbo pieces by Robert de Visée, a lutenist and guitarist at the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV, whose music remains a popular part of the classical guitar repertory, and has been explored more fully with the re-emergence of the Baroque guitar, a thin-waisted model with strings tuned in octaves (a bit like a modern 12-string, but not quite).

As he often does, Burris sidestepped the obvious choices and offered a few rarities instead – transcriptions from Lully operas (“Logistille,” from “Roland,” and “Chaconne des Herlequins,” from “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme”) and a miscellaneous chaconne, all played gracefully and with attention to the balance between the delicate top lines and the robust accompaniments played on the theorbo’s open bass strings.

Burris also provided the program’s curtain-raiser, a slow, lovely “Entrée” by the composer and publisher Robert Ballard, which concisely established the contours of the French harmonic style that would be explored more expansively in the vocal works.

Morris, the mezzo-soprano, was an interesting addition to the program. Born in France, she phrases these songs with the fluidity of someone who speaks the language. And because she is not an early music specialist – her repertory includes Mozart operas, contemporary works and jazz, including a tribute to Edith Piaf – she takes a modern approach to coloration, treating the songs as living works rather than museum pieces.

That meant bringing out hints of between-the-lines mischievousness amid the lovelorn imagery in the anonymous “Ma Belle, Si Ton Ame,” and offering animated accounts of a drinking song by Gabriel Bataille (“Qui Veut Chasser Une Migraine” – directions for avoiding hangovers) and Antoine de Boësset’s sweetly pastoral “Un Jour Amarille et Tirsis,” each rich in carefully measured shifts of timbre and dynamics.

Johnson is also attentive to the shape and underlying emotional intent of a musical line, not to mention the charm that suffuses the French 17th century harmonic and melodic style. He also has a flexible voice that proved useful in these pieces, which often fall low enough in the tenor range to sound almost baritonal, a quality that Johnson produced easily in Pierre Guédron’s “Belle Qui M’Avez Blessé.” His contoured performance of François Richard’s “Ah! Que de Tes Conseils la Puissance,” and his comic rendering of the anonymous “C’est un Amant, Ouvrez la Porte” (a jealous husband’s rant) were among the highlights of the program.

Burris noted, in his introductory comments, that 17th century French court airs for mezzo-soprano and tenor are not plentiful. But the ensemble offered six rich-textured, harmonically attractive duets by Michel Lambert, in which Johnson and Morris produced an appealing blend, with Burris’ strong support on the lute.

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, 19 Mar 2017 18:51:42 +0000
Disney’s ‘Beauty’ is a beast at weekend box office Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:09:42 +0000 NEW YORK — Disney’s live-action “Beauty” was a beast at the box office, opening with an estimated $170 million in North American ticket sales and setting a new high mark for family movies.

“Beauty and the Beast” blew past the previous record-holder for G- or PG-rated releases, according to studio estimates Sunday. Last year, Disney’s “Finding Dory” debuted with a then-PG-best $135 million.

“Beauty and the Beast” felled many other records, too. It’s the year’s top opening so far and a new best for March releases, and it ranks seventh all-time, not accounting for inflation.

The film, made for about $160 million, is the latest effort by Disney to re-create one of its animated classics with live action and digital effects.

The makeover of the 1991 Oscar-winning film follows previous live-action remakes such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Cinderella,” “Maleficent” and last year’s “The Jungle Book.” Many more are on the way, including those for “Dumbo,” “Mulan,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

“Nostalgia is a very powerful driver for these films,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. “What’s exciting here is there is an opportunity to see these beloved stories in a way that’s never been seen before, but you get to build that on the foundation of something that’s very familiar.

“But you don’t get to $170 million because of nostalgia,” Hollis said. “You have to ultimately make these movies great.”

“Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, found widespread acclaim and some backlash for including what has been called Disney’s first openly gay character. Josh Gad plays Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, who has a brief “exclusively gay moment,” as Condon described it, late in the film.

Though many applauded the character’s subtle twist as overdue progress, some derided it. An Alabama drive-in theater canceled showings before owners screened the film. And after Malaysian censors required an edit of the scene, Disney pulled the film from release in the predominantly Muslim nation.

– Associated Press

]]> 0 from Disney shows Dan Stevens as The Beast and Emma Watson as Belle in "Beauty and the Beast."Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:16:47 +0000
Healthy Maine Magazine: Eating for brain health, walk Portland Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:19 +0000 0, 18 Mar 2017 17:35:27 +0000 Three artists find a balance in being earnest Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Two shows at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor struck me as an unlikely but surprisingly well-matched pair. Jared Cowan’s “The Life of David” is a small installation comprising impressive bronzes, photography and video components to convey a biographical sketch of Emilio David Mazzeo, (1920-1997) an Olympic runner whose lower legs were amputated later in life.

The subject was a relative of Cowan, the proprietor of Asymmetrick Arts in Rockland, so the narrative is more nostalgic literalism than the expected approach of inspirational storytelling. The exhibition copy announces an inspirational approach, but it’s something more physically personal, like a memorial. The expectations of a memorial quietly, but drastically, raise the stakes: The installation might not work if Cowan’s technique and sense of bronze sculpture weren’t so strong. (The wooden piece, “Doorway on Talbot Avenue,” doesn’t surpass this unspoken standard.) Particularly notable is “Untitled,” a cast bronze pelvis with footless legs on which sits a video showing a surgeon’s view of arthroscopic procedure. Cowan’s earnestness is at first the work’s awkward question and then, in time, its graceful redemption.

Massachusetts painter Siobhan McBride’s exhibition of 16 small gouache paintings on paper on panel is a crispy bit of magic. Her images depict glimpses of everyday object scenes: a foosball table, an unruly studio table corner, a pile of cards and photos, a view through a late night window into an empty office or hospital hallway.

What is remarkable about McBride’s work is her surface. Her technique is extraordinary, and it’s a pleasant reintroduction to a now-uncommon medium. McBride matches her sense of observation to her impressive technical ability, but rather than showing off her chops, she uses her skill to blend stroke, technique, masterful modulation and a crisp sense of detail into surfaces that are unusually coherent despite their intentionally out-of-place details, like a borrowed texture in the wrong spot, or a color wheel in an otherwise normal scene and so on.

The effect is to bring us back from observation to painting, and the uncanny quirks take the scenes out of literalism toward dreams, memory and the imagination. And this is where the sense of earnestness arrives. Her surfaces are the real thing, she quietly informs us: The images are less stable and shouldn’t be trusted any more than memories or dreams. In other words, she uses her technique to remind us that while paintings are literal facts, their scenes are fictions no matter how realistic they seem.

The odd effect is that it becomes easy to jump back and forth between the scenes of imagined worlds – like a table top hockey game – and the literal surface of the painting. Her works, in other words, are as earnestly imagined as they are rendered. Smart and quirky, “Four Hour Fortune Cookie” is a glorious little show.

Intention is a problem for art because we respond to the works rather than what motivated the artist to make them. Intention is what moves the artist to paint a blank canvas, but the viewer’s process of unpacking the work is not a symmetrical proposition: We don’t work back to a blank canvas. We think in terms of communication rather than construction. This is why my general approach is to avoid decoding an artist’s intention and instead give a reading of how the work appears to the public – unless the artist makes tracking their intention part of the overt content of the work.

Threading together the problem of intention in the works of Cowan and McBride led me to finally understand why I have always really liked the paintings of Nathaniel Meyer: I don’t just like how they were painted, but why they were painted as they were. Meyer’s landscapes in “Under A Northern Sky” at Elizabeth Moss offer an easy-going but quirky blend of modernist solidity, a propensity for Maxfield Parrish-like stylized skies, thickly painted solid forms and sometimes even a bit of video game narrative magicality in paintings like “Raven’s Nest.”

Some of the works are painted plein air, such as the “Maine Coast, July” and “Sweet Tree,” while others combine 1930s elegance with magic realism (e.g., “Schoodic Clouds II”), but what is common within all of Meyer’s works is his sense of genuine engagement. Meyer clearly likes to paint. He clearly likes his bold palette. And he clearly likes his own paintings, which he executes with a sense of fascination.

One thing I have always liked about Maine painting is its earnestness. This is a simple-seeming word, but it has some weird connotations and it’s less of an obvious fit than it might sound. It implies an almost naive simplicity. But simple is tough when you’re doing two very different things at once. Consider any Maine landscape painting, say, Meyer’s “Schoodic Snow.” On one hand, it’s a descriptive representation of a specific place in time – there and then – which we expect to be able to recognize if we were to visit that place. On the other hand, it’s a painting to be appreciated here and now.

And this is a Maine thing: Winslow Homer’s “Weatherbeaten” (newly rehung in the Portland Museum of Art) is not geared to be particularly realistic or recognizable as a place, but it’s a masterpiece because of its bold and earthly earnestness of scene, theme and execution.

Just as writers don’t own but merely borrow words, so painters borrow genres, forms, styles, symbols and so on. Then, as culture changes, so do our representations. What matters more is not necessarily what artists intend (or say they intend) but what we see. When artists’ intentions match their subjects, their styles, and what they hope the public will see – which, when combined, comprise that warmly respectful ethic I call earnestness – then we can better sense if a work is successful, that fundamental goal of artists. It’s important, being earnest.

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

]]> 0"Captivity," by Siobhan McBride, 2015, gouache on paper.Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:52:04 +0000
Auburn will host a conference for long-term care providers Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Maine Health Care Association, a trade association that represents 200 corporate, nonprofit, and government-owned providers of long-term care, is holding a conference for professionals working in assisted living facilities.

The daylong Assisted Living Conference is set for April 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.

It is geared toward people serving in an assisted living, independent living and/or residential care facility in Maine.

About 75 percent of those who attend this event serve in an administrative and/or management role (owners, administrators, executive directors, finance directors, department heads, managers, consultants) while the remaining 25 percent serve in a combination of other roles (clinical staff, food service professionals, activity professionals and more).

The agenda focuses on national and local industry trends, regulatory updates, evidence-based practices, and innovative ideas that will help Maine providers fine tune their business practices and ensure the health and well-being of the residents they serve.

More information can be found at

]]> 0 Sun, 12 Mar 2017 15:20:52 +0000
‘Beauty and the Beast’ puts new touch on a classic Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Let’s say you’ve got a tale as old as time, as true as it can be. Now you’re adapting it from a beloved animated feature to a live-action film. Can you make just a little change, small to say the least?

Well, yes and no. As Bill Condon, director of Disney’s new live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened Friday, puts it by phone from Los Angeles, you have to make a lot of little changes – adding to, but not altering what people love about the 1991 classic and its characters: bookworm Belle (Emma Watson), her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), the tragic Beast (Dan Stevens) and all the rest, including a bevy of castle servants turned into anthropomorphic household objects.

“I remember pitching the scenes you always wanted to see, things you always wanted to know,” Condon, 61, says. “Like, how did Belle and Maurice wind up in that town? How did Mrs. Potts and all those other characters lose their humanity and become full objects? I thought those were great emotional moments that needed to be explored. But basically, it was about: How do you take something that’s perfect in one medium and try to translate it into really a different one?”

And indeed, this latest retelling of the venerable French fairy tale does explore the back story of Belle and Beast, from the death of Belle’s mother to the family of the cursed prince. It also adds a magical book that’s essentially an 18th-century “Star Trek” transporter and gives an interesting new inner life to a comic-relief character.

“There were some early scripts, but there was a lot of just brainstorming,” says the film’s composer, Alan Menken, 67, who has won eight Academy Awards for Disney animated movies, including the studio’s 1991 animated “Beauty and the Beast.” “But when Bill Condon came onboard,” he says, “then it began to take on shape dramaturgically. There was adding a lot of dramatic texture and reality – you know, ‘Let’s feel more of 18th-century France.’ Some of it was also an extra French influence in the score – a little bit of boulevard music in the new songs.”

And those new tunes are truly new, even though there was a hit Broadway-musical adaptation that ran for more than 5,400 performances from 1994 to 2007 and has its own following. Menken, who’d co-written the animated feature’s songs with Howard Ashman, had collaborated with Tim Rice after Ashman’s death to add an eventual seven songs to that Broadway version. Yet none of them made it into the live-action film, for which Menken and Rice wrote yet more new songs to complement such classics as “Belle,” “Be Our Guest” and the title tune.

“In a film, you’re not going to have as many song moments, necessarily,” says Menken. “So, assuming that you have a smaller number of songs for the movie, you’re certainly going to lean first and foremost toward those iconic tent-poles that were in the animated film.”

Additionally, says Condon, songs in a film must move the plot forward, whereas on stage they can simply deepen character. “The nature of a live performance is that you enjoy somebody just pouring their heart out, you know?” he says. “That’s a little harder to do in a movie.”

The composer did incorporate unused lyrics by the late Ashman into expanded versions of two songs. “In the Broadway show,” he explains, “we had a treasure trove of wonderful lost lyrics by Howard, some of which were a bit edgy for an animated movie but worked on stage or, in this case, in the movie. For ‘Gaston’ we have some quote unquote new Ashman lyrics, and the movie has quote unquote new lyrics for ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I love being able to give either a fresh arrangement or lyric changes. It just helps give the movie its own identity.”

Also given something of a new identity was the comic character LeFou (played by Josh Gad in the new film), sidekick of the villainous Gaston (Luke Evans). In what became a small cause célèbre, Condon commented to a British magazine about LeFou having confused feelings toward Gaston and how the film’s ending includes what the director called “a nice, exclusively gay moment” – albeit one that’s so below the surface you’d need ground radar to see it. Yet a headline in The Hollywood Reporter trade paper blared: “Disney’s First-Ever Gay Character.”

To his credit, Condon, while calling the attention “overblown,” isn’t backing away. When he and the screenwriters were developing the movie, that subtext “seemed like, ‘Oh, this is just not a big deal’ – that’s what I felt more than anything,” he says. Is he concerned about potential backlash? “No, not at all,” he says. “It’s 2017,” and industry estimates predicted a blockbuster opening weekend of $100 million to $120 million.

“I hope that people come to see the film and judge for themselves,” says singer-actress Audra McDonald, 46, the six-time Tony Award-winner who plays the anthropomorphic wardrobe, here named Garderobe. “It’s a beautiful family film whose story is a timeless classic and celebrates love and all that makes us human,” she says. “The film is representative of the world we live in today and that is inclusive of all creeds, colors, genders, orientations and everything.”

Because if there’s one thing that’s as certain as the sun rising in the east, it’s that Disney knows how to make movies that are both ever a surprise and ever as before.

]]> 0 Stevens as Beast.Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:42:56 +0000
What to eat to fend off Alzheimer’s and dementia Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Put down the fork. Step away from the buffet table.

University of California Davis nutrition expert Liz Applegate wants us to think about exactly what we’re shoveling down our throats. Not just to lose weight but to protect our brains.

“Brain food is real and it really does matter,” said Applegate, an author, professor and director of sports nutrition at UC Davis. She’s an advocate of the MIND diet, a combination of two long-studied diets that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

We talked with her recently about so-called “brain foods,” their impact on 20-somethings and baby boomers, why it’s hard to stick to a healthful diet, as well as her favorite breakfast foods. Here are some excerpts:

Q: Are there really “brain foods” that help fend off Alzheimer’s or dementia?

A: Diet absolutely does play a role. The brain is like any other organ that is susceptible to (foods) that can protect against oxidation damage. … Think of oxidation like a fire getting started. These (good) foods act like little tiny fire extinguishers that help put out those fires that otherwise would cause damage leading to loss of brain function. …

For me, the research is very compelling. There is a 53 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s if you follow the MIND diet (see box, page T25). It’s eating a diet that provides an array of antioxidant compounds (such as berries) and omega-3 fats (from fish) and avoiding certain foods that may accelerate cognitive decline, like fried foods. Fried foods appear to accelerate oxidative damage and promote inflammation.

Q: The MIND diet is lots of leafy greens, vegetables, nuts and berries, but limits on red meat, butter, cheese, sweets and fried food. How does that translate into reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s?

A: We know that people with Alzheimer’s and dementia have very similar characteristics to people with Type 2 diabetes. In fact, some researchers want to call Alzheimer’s the “Type 3” diabetes. Over years and years, if your body is insulin resistant, those high blood sugar levels cause damage to linings of blood vessels and make them more prone to gunk building up …(such as) the amyloid or plaque that we see in brain or heart disease.

This is pulling from the research studies what particular foods show the best correlation with decrease in dementia risk. We’re not telling people to do anything wacky. Following this diet is a very conservative approach. But the evidence is very compelling. This type of eating can slow the inevitable cognitive decline of aging. We don’t know how to fix Alzheimer’s. The only thing we can do is modify the risks.

Q: Is this true for 20-somethings as much as aging baby boomers?

A: I think people of all ages can eat more healthily to stave off cognitive decline. People in any age group may be eating highly refined sugars or not many berries. Or their seafood intake isn’t much. …

Dinner might be fast food or a prepared entrée that’s high in fat, low in fiber and not a single, green leafy vegetable. I see this kind of thing a lot, in all ages. It’s never too late to make changes. Hopefully people in their 20s and 30s will sit up and take notice. Ask yourself: What would you like the quality of life to be as you age? This would be a great pledge: I want to take care of my brain.

Q: Sweets, cheese: How do we live without ’em?

A: If people have only a few servings a week of sweets, it seems to be OK. But I experience people who have a couple sweet items per day. A person has toaster waffles with syrup on top for breakfast with coffee and an egg. That’s low in fiber, no fruit.

Lunch could be a sandwich, grab a couple of cookies. Later they have a sweetened ice tea. They might have an alcoholic beverage or two mixed drinks at night. I don’t like being a sugar Nazi, but you just have to be aware of what you’re eating. With cheese, that’s a tough one. It doesn’t seem to be good for brain health. Saturated fat tends to be more inflammatory. Hard cheeses are better than soft, but stay tuned. We still have a lot to learn. Maybe other research will show that having more than 1 ounce a week of cheese is OK for us.

Q: You’re a nutritionist; what’s your typical breakfast and dinner?

A: I’m glad you asked. For breakfast, I usually flip-flop between kale, onion and two to three eggs scrambled or low-sugar granola with nuts and dried fruit, like blueberries or (golden) raisins. I’ll have it with a cup of plain kefir (cultured milk) and a piece of fruit … a banana, citrus, a mandarin orange.

For dinner, I usually have lean protein or fish a couple times a week, a baked potato, vegetables like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts and a big green salad: leafy greens, carrots, red cabbage, radishes … lots of color. I’m not big on refined carbohydrates, like sourdough bread with a meal.

Q: Breaking bad habits and switching to a healthier diet isn’t always easy. Any get-started tips?

A: I encourage people to take just one step at a time, baby steps. Pick one thing to work on: I’m going to eat berries twice a week. Make a berry smoothie on Tuesday and Friday or put berries on your oatmeal. Just chip away at eating more healthfully.

]]> 0, 13 Mar 2017 15:57:38 +0000
Deep Water: ‘At the Cove’ by Richard Foerster Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 William Carlos Williams called a poem “a small machine made out of words” by which he meant that it contains nothing extraneous. This week’s poem, which is a single sentence stretched out across four stanzas, bears that out. It is by Richard Foerster, who’s the author of seven books, lives in York, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maine Arts Commission, as well as the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship.

At the Cove

By Richard Foerster

Above the first pools

at the continent’s wrack

and tatter, we waited

for the moon to swell

like a bud against the black,

and break – then saw

crisp folds of the eternal

sleeper’s blanket heave

into seethe and clatter: Love,

I whispered, hold me,

make the world strain and groan

before it grinds us down.

Notice the pleasing series of (mostly) slant rhymes that string us down the page: wrack-black-break, tatter-sleeper-clatter, heave-seethe-love, strain-groan-down.

What makes a poem is not simply sounds, however. It needs purpose and urgency, which here we have in the address to the beloved. Foerster reminds us that we must hold and be held by those we love in the face of all manner of “seethe and clatter.”

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. This column is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1998 Richard Foerster. Reprinted from Trillium, BOA Editions, 1998, by permission of the author.

]]> 0 Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:41:09 +0000
Digging into St. Joseph’s College and what (and who) came before Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Unearthed” is not Prof. Steven L. Bridge’s first published book, but it is his first venture into Maine archaeology and also the first imprint from St. Joseph’s College Press. On all counts it makes for curious, challenging and rewarding reading.

As a book, however, its organization appears a bit eccentric. In fact, many of the historical archaeology books I have reviewed have had similar problems in combining objects found in digs and historical documentation found in archives and libraries.

In many cases, they are presented in separate sections, and that is the case with this book about artifacts uncovered on the Saint Joseph College campus and the stories of the people who preceded the place. If the reader is looking for a seamless read on the historic archaeology of the Sebago Lake grounds, he or she will be disappointed.

This is not to say that Bridge is not an eloquent writer or the book not a treasure trove, but exploring what the researcher has to offer takes time. Entry into the book is made easier by a lucid foreword from college president Jim Dlugos, a first-rate preface from the redoubtable Michael C. Connolly and a necessary “users’ guide” by Bridge.

Next we are given the introductory section, including two chapters on the founding of Standish (originally Pearsontown) and the founding of, by the Sisters of Mercy, St. Joseph’s Academy (1907) in Portland. In 1954, the trustees bought 115 acres of the Verrill estate in Standish, moved the campus there and purchased more property, and the school has since flourished.

This provides the reader with a useful thumbnail sketch of the territory and school before their conjuncture. The chapters that follow detail and illuminate artifacts uncovered during Bridge’s digs on campus and offer entertaining biographies of some of the people who owned the real estate before the college. This proves the utterly enjoyable heart of “Unearthed.”

I was a bit taken aback by one of the first artifacts described, “Straight Sided ‘Coca Cola Bottling Co.’ Glass Soda Bottle (Portland, ME ca. 1926).” Not much of a find, it seemed to me, but I was surprised by its shape and the fact that it had been bottled in Portland. A few paragraphs in, I was both hooked and enlightened. How the national soft-drink industry grew and spread to Portland and its burbs is fascinating and told with wit.

Steven L. Bridge

The biographical chapters covered the founders and builders of Standish, beginning with triple-lot owner Moses Pearson (1697-1778), one of the great figures in the second founding of Falmouth (now Portland). Indeed, noted historian Charles E. Clark in “The Eastern Frontier” (1970) gives a whole chapter to the man as representative of both time and place. Pearson held multiple town, county and British offices, so it is no surprise that Standish was first named Pearsontown, or that the next double-lot owner was Pearson’s son-in-law, the Rev. Samuel Deane of Falmouth’s First Parish Church. The names of worthy men and women landowners in the backcountry roll on under Bridge’s guidance, and while not all settled in Standish, this early land rush led to farms and second houses pushing the frontier.

Though no megalopolis formed, the decision to move St. Joseph’s College campus from west Portland to Lake Sebago was part of a later phenomenon of the 20th century that saw the movement of churches, synagogues, child-care institutions and industries away from the inner city of Portland to the “more healthy” suburbs. All this made possible by street railroads, automobiles, telephones and continuing communications.

Here flesh and blood individuals are animated by archaeological finds, site reports and chains of ownership lot by lot, along with listings of the Leonard Shaw and Blake cemeteries.

“Unearthed” proves a massive piece of research providing information not available elsewhere. The chapters about the artifacts and the lot owners are fun to read and combine into a unique saga of how our backyard-west was won and a college firmly planted.

William David Barry is a local historian who has authored/co-authored seven books, including “Maine: The Wilder Side of New England” and “Deering: A Social and Architectural History.” He lives in Portland with his wife, Debra, and their cat, Nadine.

]]> 0 L. BRIDGEFri, 17 Mar 2017 17:46:43 +0000
Gateway Mastering stars Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan go on the record Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a game that only somebody like Bob Ludwig can play: Sometimes, when he’s out to dinner with his wife and there’s a radio playing, they count the number of consecutive songs he helped create.

“I think we’ve gotten up to five in a row at one point, and that’s pretty fun,” said Ludwig, 72, who has been one of pop music’s most in-demand mastering engineers for the past 45 years.

Working at Gateway Mastering Studio in Portland, attached to a parking garage on Cumberland Avenue, Ludwig and fellow mastering engineer Adam Ayan have the final creative say on recordings by dozens of Grammy-nominated artists each year. The two have 12 Grammy Awards between them and have worked with a who’s who of music stars, including the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé and Barbra Streisand.

The pair will talk about what they do and what it’s like to work on so many hit songs on Tuesday as part of the Portland Press Herald’s MaineVoices Live series. The event starts at 7 p.m. at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

Their work is sort of low-profile, since most people don’t know what a mastering engineer does and they work mostly alone in their Portland facility, on recordings sent to them. But it’s high profile because of their client list and the attention they get in the music business, including Grammys. From 2013 to 2015 Ludwig won three consecutive Album of the Year Grammys, considered perhaps the most prestigious, for recordings by Mumford & Sons, Daft Punk and Beck.

Ayan won a Grammy in 2005 in the best historical album category for “The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax,” and he has also won five Latin Grammys. From country to classical, from hard rock to Americana, it’s hard to go a day listening to the radio or Spotify and not hear something Ayan or Ludwig worked on.

Grammy awards won in recent years by Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“I still get giddy when I hear a song I worked on come on the radio,” said Ayan, 41, who has worked with Ludwig at Gateway for 18 years. “I feel so lucky to be doing this.”

So what is mastering? Both Ludwig and Ayan describe mastering as the final creative step in making a single or album. A recording starts with musicians working with a tracking engineer or recording engineer, the person who sets up the microphones and records the singers and musicians, often in separate locations. Then the tracks, usually on digital formats these days, are handed to the mixing engineer, who takes all the individual tracks – guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, various vocals – and mixes them together into one cohesive work.

The fully mixed album is given to the mastering engineer, who listens for distortion, hissing, imbalances and other elements that stop the recording from sounding as good as it can. Ayan and Ludwig say they usually spend a full day mastering one album, using control panels with hundreds of levers and knobs, plus computer software, to make the sound adjustments.

Listening is a very important part of the job. Before he was hired by Ludwig, Ayan took a listening test. He listened to recordings that had mistakes Ludwig put in on purpose, but also had some crazy-sounding notes the artist meant to put into the song. He passed.

Ludwig worked as a mastering engineer in New York City for more than 20 years before deciding to open Gateway in Portland in 1993, partly because his parents had moved from New York to Maine. When he made the move to Portland, Ludwig felt few artists would travel here to sit in on his mastering sessions, because of the location and because there really wasn’t that much for them to do. But Ludwig found that more artists visited him here in Portland than in New York City. For a while in the ’90s, it was a sport around Portland to spot the rock stars in town to work with Ludwig. Eric Clapton was spotted having a hamburger at Ruby’s Choice on Commercial Street and Bruce Springsteen could be seen lugging his gym bag to the Bay Club in One City Center for his daily workouts. Now, because of computers, the Internet and other massive changes in the recording industry, record companies don’t have big budgets and artists don’t travel to mastering studios as much. Ayan works with a lot of Nashville-based country artists, who rarely come for one of his sessions. Ludwig sees fewer musicians dropping by for his sessions, but there still are some who come regularly, including Springsteen. J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf comes by to master his solo works. Regina Spektor stopped by when she was in town for her show at the State Theatre in early March.

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes have also come for mastering sessions.

“Those three are such talented guys. You can give them a guitar on the spot and they can create something amazing,” said Ludwig. “When they come, they are very focused, but they let us do our thing.”

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

Twitter: @RayRouthier

]]> 0 Ayan, left, and Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering Studios.Sat, 18 Mar 2017 18:03:34 +0000
Society Notebook: Healing children’s hearts Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The Center for Grieving Children’s 30th Love Really Counts fundraiser was one for the record books.

“Love Really Counts is a night to come together and be there for people going through a difficult time and celebrate the power of love,” said Susan Giambalvo, program and operations director at the center, looking out over the crowded room of attendees enjoying cocktails and perusing the extensive silent auction tables at the March 3 event at Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland.

“This is the community that ensures the center is available for anyone who needs it, whenever they need it. It’s our largest fundraiser and it goes a long way,” she said.

The center provides support to over 4,000 grieving children, teens, families and young adults a year.

Katie Hogan, board member and chair of the record-breaking event, attended with her husband, Kevin; Kate Malin, board member of the Children’s Museum of Maine, and Jenilee Bryant, live chair for the event. Elizabeth Hunt of Idexx Laboratories, one of the evening’s key sponsors, enjoyed a moment with board treasurer Kevin Hunt, Chris Kast of The Brand Company and Christy Altman of Falmouth. And former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, his wife, Karen, and nephew Robert, along with his wife, Kate, chatted with Bill Caron, president of MaineHealth.

After cocktails, over 630 guests gathered upstairs to take their seats for the live auction. After many moving speeches and a heart-wrenching video featuring the Stickney family of Cape Elizabeth, event emcee and board member Cindy Williams of WCSH-6 introduced fellow board member Nicola Morris, who opened the Sponsor-A-Child challenge.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Morris, who is also senior vice president of corporate development at Wex. “For the last 30 years, the center has been providing its services for free, which is amazing. Cost should never be a barrier to getting the help our families need. Wex is very honored to sponsor this challenge. Every time you raise your paddle, Wex will be matching your donation.”

It was a clarion call. Paddles shot up across the expansive room overflowing with guests who were only too happy to sponsor a child. Bidding began at $100 and went up from there, to the tune of a $1,000 or more per bid. In the end, the Love Really Counts event raised $300,000 – beating last year’s total by $70,000 and setting a new record for the event.

“Grief and loss is such a universal experience,” said Giambalvo. “People can understand why having support is so critical, and they want to be a part of it.”

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

]]> 0 Jabar of Portland with Dustin Carson of Portland and Sarah Carson of Gorham.Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:06:31 +0000
Hair stylists and massage therapists join the effort to detect skin cancer early Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Health professionals have for many years sought to call attention to a form of cancer that, unlike most others, is hidden in plain sight – on the skin. Now a cadre of specially trained professionals that includes hairstylists and barbers is helping to identify suspicious lesions.

The initiative comes from Karen Pierce-Stewart, executive director of the Cancer Care Center of York County in South Sanford, who launched the Skinny on Skin program two years ago to train hairstylists to look for early signs of skin cancer. Since its founding, the program has graduated more than 100.

“After all, they actually know our scalp better than we do,” Pierce-Stewart said. The trainees have since expanded to include barbers, physical therapists and massage therapists.

The Cancer Care Center is a collaborative effort between MaineHealth in Portland and Southern Maine Health Care that operates independently. While the primary function of the Sanford clinic is radiation therapy, Pierce-Stewart’s job includes a generous dose of public outreach.

The notion of training professionals who handle clients’ skin came up during a brainstorming session with a group of medical students from the University of New England. Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of the disease – and also one of the most treatable, if caught early. Each year, more than three million Americans are diagnosed with non-melanomic skin cancer, and New England has some of the highest rates in the U.S.

Christy Legere, who with her sister, Kelly Clark, owns Magnolia’s Salon in Sanford, was among the first to be trained; six of the 15 stylists in her salon have now taken the course. Legere said that previously, she sometimes noticed a suspicious spot or mole, “but I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything, because I didn’t really know.” Following the training, she has no hesitation about speaking up. “I can’t offer a diagnosis, but I can say ‘this is something you might want to have checked.’ ”

This hasn’t produced any awkward moments, she said. “I’ll often hear, ‘I was going to the doctor anyway, but thanks for telling me.’ ”

The salon sees about 1,200 customers over the course of a year, many of whom come to the salon every three to six weeks. One of the first beneficiaries of the program was Legere herself, who was treated for a cancerous lesion. Pierce-Stewart, too, identified a cancerous area through self-examination.

There are standard methods of self-examination, available online and in YouTube videos, plus a series of prevention tips (See “How to avoid skin cancer,” page T12).

But getting people to focus on the issue is the essential first step, said Pierce-Stewart. Early detection is particularly important for melanoma, which is relatively rare but causes most of the 10,000 skin cancer deaths annually in the U.S. – many of those diagnosed are still in their 20s.

With the help of students and interns from UNE, the program has now reached more than 5,000 students in York and Cumberland county schools, who may be some of the best ambassadors when they talk to their parents and other adults.

“Kids are more aware of the dangers. They’ve usually heard about them already,” Pierce-Stewart said. It’s older Mainers, many from the “baby-oil-at-the-beach generation” who may have experienced the most sun damage, and are the most likely to have precancerous skin, she said.


Reaching some of those adults is the aim of the latest innovative effort – bringing a blacklight screening machine to Portsmouth International Airport, at the old Pease Air Force Base site. The main building is relatively small, and most of the passengers are boarding direct flights to Florida – an ideal audience, Pierce-Stewart said.

The first outing was in early February. UNE graduate student Meghan Morash said of 100 or so travelers, about a quarter came over to talk.

“When people are waiting, they’re looking for something to do, and their kids are often the first ones to ask what we’re there for,” she said. “Not everyone tried out the skin analysis machine, but we handed out lots of sunscreen – the travel size that you can take on board.”

The blacklight illumination the machine provides is a good indicator of problem spots, she said – and children are naturally curious about trying it out on themselves, and their parents.

Morash had also done many school presentations, and middle school and high school health classes provide some of the best venues. “They have such great questions, and for them it’s not as scary as it is for adults,” she said. “You can tell them that sunlight immediately starts to affect our DNA, but that it’s not a terrible thing.” And then you can say, “If you see anything big and splotchy in the blacklight, you might want to check that out.”

The reason New England has higher skin cancer rates has prompted much conjecture.

“It may because we’re outdoors a lot in times when we don’t think of the sun,” Pierce-Stewart said, such as winter, when skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are popular. Cloudy days are as hazardous as sunny ones; the only sure prevention is when outside, cover up.

Pierce-Stewart is trying new avenues for outreach. She’s currently meeting with recreation and camp directors who will welcome thousands of children and adults to their programs this summer.

The medical profession has taken notice. At the 2016 annual meeting of the Commission on Cancer, a program of the American College of Surgeons, Peter Hopewood, M.D., praised the program as a best practice, and said, “This program should be used throughout the U.S. by hospital and cancer programs to decrease the incidence and death rate from sunlight-related skin cancers, especially melanoma.”

Amylynne Frankel, M.D., concurs. An SMHC dermatologist, Frankel conducted the Skinny on Skin training.

“Most people only see a dermatologist once a year or less,” she said. “It can be difficult or impossible for someone to spot a suspicious lesion on their own head. By training hair care professionals what to look for, we are increasing the chances that skin cancer can be caught early when it can be treated, especially melanomas.”

]]> 0 Legere cuts a client's hair at Magnolia's Salon in Sanford, which she owns with her sister, Kelly Clark. In the Skinny on Skin program, they were trained to spot early signs of skin cancer in their clients.Sat, 11 Mar 2017 14:52:01 +0000
Claude Bonang has an affinity for oddball instruments – spoons, bones and saw included Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 BRUNSWICK — Claude Bonang had just lugged a wooden box, the size of a small Army footlocker, up the stairs from his basement and was unloading its contents.

“This is a saw tie,” says Bonang, 86, affixing the metal, saw-shaped necktie to his collar. “I went out to Jo-Ann Fabric and bought eight thimbles, for my fingers, so I could I play it with both hands.”

He demonstrates, dragging his fingertips along the metal and playing something resembling a John Philip Sousa march, then takes out his musical saw and begins to play it over his knee with a bow. It sounds a little like the spacey Theremin, an early electronic instrument made famous in the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”

Bonang brings out his rhythm bones, which he plays by holding two in each hand and clacking them together with an energy not often associated with 86-year-olds. Some of his rhythm bones are plastic, some are made of metal, and some came right from the cow.

“I bought some expensive bones online and I didn’t like the way they sounded. So I went to Bisson and Sons Meat Market in Topsham and got these, I boiled them and got them just the way I like them,” Bonang says, launching into a rendition of “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In,” bones a-rattling. He plays the harmonica, on a wire holder, at the same time.

Since retiring from his job as a biology teacher at Brunswick High School nearly 30 years ago, Bonang has developed a passion and a proficiency for a variety of odd-ball musical instruments, from spoons and rhythm bones to musical saws and the mouth harp. He’s teaching himself to play the pan flute, which looks like a mini wooden pipe organ you blow into, and the melodica, a little keyboard you blow into.

Bonang uses his arsenal of unusual instruments to entertain at nursing homes, senior housing, cookouts, Bowdoin College reunion shows and fundraising events. On March 31, he’ll perform “Happy Days Are Here Again” on the musical saw at Midcoast Maine’s Got Talent, a fundraiser organized by the Brunswick Rotary Club. Last year at the same event, he got a standing ovation after playing “William Tell Overture” on the wooden spoons, dressed as The Lone Ranger. The overture was the theme song of “The Lone Ranger” TV show in the 1950s, so the costume just made sense, Bonang said.

“He has great musical skill, a great sense of rhythm, but the thing about Claude is that he’s such a terrific entertainer,” said Scott Steinberg, admissions director at the University of New England and a piano player who has performed with Bonang at several Bowdoin College reunions. “He’s a joy to watch. His ‘William Tell Overture’ is incredible.”

When he competed at Midcoast Maine’s Got Talent last year, he didn’t win, but he got a special judge’s award for his performance. Really, it’s hard to imagine him competing against anyone. He’s in a category all his own.

“He’s having such a wonderful time, and he gets such a kick out of it himself that it’s infectious,” said Claudia Frost, chair of the Rotary committee that organizes the talent show. “He seems so full of gratitude that he’s able to do this.”


Claude Bonang and his wife, Ann Bonang, at their Brunswick home. Bonang came late to his passion for old-school folk instruments. “I didn’t hear a thing about all these instruments until he retired,” Ann Bonang said. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

As Bonang demonstrated his instruments at his Brunswick home on a recent Friday afternoon, his wife of 54 years, Ann, sat a few feet away on a couch with a newspaper in her lap. She loves the fact that her husband is so enthusiastic about playing, about entertaining, and she’s happy he has the health and stamina to do it. But she’s not too sure where all this passion comes from.

“I didn’t hear a thing about all these instruments until he retired,” she said.

Bonang was born and raised in Brunswick, in a French-Canadian family of nine children. He remembers first seeing the rhythm bones played by his uncle, Pat Theriault, who taught him how to play at family gatherings. He didn’t really take up the instrument then, but the image of his uncle clicking the bones to popular songs of the day stuck with him for years.

He did take up the ukulele, and as a young man he worked summers at an Ogunquit restaurant and entertained customers by singing and strumming. But he didn’t play any other instruments, or do much with music at all, for the next 40 years or so.

Bonang’s father was a night watchman at Bowdoin, and lucky for him, at that time all employee’s children could attend for free, Bonang said. He majored in biology and after graduation taught biology at Lisbon High School, the Paris American High School in France, and Brunswick High School for more than 30 years. He and Ann raised two sons.

After retiring from Brunswick High, he taught a biology lab at the University of Southern Maine for several years. At one point he wrote the class a song, “This Class is Your Class” to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

Some of Bonang’s instruments include the musical saw, spoons, saw tie and rhythm bones. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

A couple years after retiring from Brunswick High, the musical bug hit Bonang hard. He remembered his uncle’s rhythm bones and started playing himself, at elder hostels as he and Ann traveled. He bought a guitar, took a few lessons and then began teaching himself. In short order, he took up spoons, the harmonica, and the musical saw.

Bonang more specifically described his journey into musical miscellanea, in rhyming verse no less, in a 176-page self-published book about growing up in Brunswick, called “Memories in Verse and Prose.” It was another of his ways to keep busy after retirement, along with making whimsical scenes out of shells. He made one called “Fiddler on the Roof” in which the fiddler has mussel shells for legs, a quahog for a face and periwinkles for eyes.

But back to his verse about taking up so many instruments:

“At an elder hostel in Quebec wooden spoons I bought, upon returning home to learn to play them I self-taught; One Christmas from the Mayos a harmonica came my way, they felt another instrument I should learn to play; At a gig at the Highlands (retirement community) in July of 2002, another musical instrument I was introduced to; A resident joined us playing the musical saw, and his performance left me in absolute awe.”

The musical saw was, as so many of Bonang’s instruments are, a surprise to Ann. He bought one and started playing it in the basement. Ann, outside gardening, couldn’t understand why every dog in the neighborhood was howling.

Most of the odd instruments Bonang plays have humble beginnings, as utilitarian objects (spoons and saws) someone decided might have musical qualities, or as complete castoffs, like leftover bones from a rib roast. Or a wild animal.

Bones have been played as instruments for thousands of years. There’s some evidence the ancient Egyptians played bones, said Steve Brown of Winchendon, Massachusetts, executive director of the Rhythm Bones Society. Bonang is a society member.

Bonang saws on a musical saw. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Rhythm bones were reportedly brought to America by Irish immigrants settling in Appalachia in the 1700s, and they were also adopted by French-Canadian immigrants to the United States in the 1800s, Brown said.

The rhythm bones became popular as part of minstrel shows in the mid-1800s, with performers in black face using them to click out the beats of the songs they sung. The rhythm bones later made their way into blues and even jazz, and onto recordings. One of the best-known recordings of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” the theme of the basketball comedy troupe the Harlem Globetrotters, was by Brother Bones and His Shadows in 1949. The bones are the featured instrument.

The musical saw also comes from Appalachia, where musicians used a fiddle bow to coach a haunting sound out of it. In the 1920s, a Vaudeville act called the Weaver Brothers started using the saw and audiences couldn’t believe what they were hearing, and seeing.

Bonang’s musical saw, which he bought from a musical saw company, has been customized with fabric and duct tape, so he doesn’t rip his pants while playing. When he performs he usually backs himself with a cassette recorder, since the saw needs some help keeping the beat.

In the last 25 years or more, Bonang has brought his musical menagerie to a couple dozen nursing homes and senior living centers around Brunswick, where some residents are younger than he is. He brings along a 67-page lyric book, which he printed and bound himself, called “Sing Along with Claude.” He passes it out to everyone in the crowd so they can, you guessed it, sing along.

He has played at farmers markets, cookouts, and Bowdoin College reunions. He’s played with professional and accomplished musicians, like the Royal River Philharmonic Jazz Band and one of Maine’s best-known fiddle players, Don Roy.

“I give him credit – playing the bones is not as easy as it looks,” said Roy, who has played with Bonang at a couple anniversary parties.

Bill Rayne, the trombone player in the Royal River Philharmonic Jazz Band, has played with Bonang at several Bowdoin reunions. He says that Bonang is not usually scheduled to play with the jazz band, but after performing with someone else he’ll be there in the crowd, and somebody in the jazz band will notice him. It’s hard not to notice someone clutching a few bones in his fist.

“Not many bands care if they have a bones player or not, but when we notice Claude in the crowd, we always invite him up,” Rayne said. “He’s just as sweet as he could be. And tonally, he’s right on the money.”

To Bonang, who also swims regularly, playing more instruments than your local garage band doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. He likes to play music, he’s curious, and he loves finding new ways to entertain.

“I don’t know, it just feels natural to me to play all these. I like the variety,” said Bonang.

And so does everyone who sees him saw, or snap a spoon, or click some bones.

Contact Ray Routhier at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: @RayRouthier

]]> 0 Bonang, 86, gets read to play his harmonica and the bones at this home. Bonang, a retired biology teacher, is a lover of strange old-fashioned folk instruments like the the musical saw, spoons, saw tie and rhythm bones.Sat, 18 Mar 2017 18:02:46 +0000
Vein health often overlooked despite new options Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When Cindy Asbjornsen was in her medical residency, she struggled with what discipline to focus on. She liked the hands-on nature of surgery, but not the life-or-death situations, and general practice wasn’t what she wanted to do. Surprisingly, she fell into the niche practice of phlebology – the practice of vein health. Asbjornsen never looked back.

Now, she is a nationally recognized vein specialist, one of five board-certified phlebologists in Maine and a Fellow in the American College of Phlebology, a distinction held by only 52 other doctors in the U.S.

Approximately half the U.S. population has venous disease, and it can affect men and women of all ages and activity levels. But the practice of phlebology is still in its infancy, and Asbjornsen is on the forefront of new medical techniques to fix damaged veins.

Asbjornsen also publishes Vein Health News, a national magazine aimed at helping educate primary care physicians about vein health. From her practice in South Portland, she treats patients suffering a wide range of vein disorders. Although she rarely deals with life-or-death maladies, Asbjornsen takes pride and satisfaction in helping patients take simple steps that can give them back their lives.

“Really, treating veins is all about quality of life,” Asbjornsen said.

Q: Can you explain a little about phlebology and how the practice of vein health has developed?

A: Phlebology has only really developed as a specialty in the last 20 years, but there have been huge strides in that time. It used to be that vein stripping – removing the vein from under the skin – was the only procedure available, and it’s a scary, invasive surgical procedure. That’s where a lot of people go when they think about vein health, but treatment options have grown a lot. Now, we can fix a lot of superficial vein diseases with procedures we can do right in the office, without having to go to the hospital.

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, right, performs a laser procedure on a patient at Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland in February. She is assisted by Sam Armfield, a registered vascular ultrasound technologist, center, and medical assistant Michaela Fortin, left. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Q: What causes venous disease?

A: Healthy veins have valves that carry blood to the heart. When those valves are damaged, it can cause leaks that send the blood backwards into the legs. That deoxygenated blood can pool there, leading to heaviness and fatigue and causing varicose veins and other skin changes. Over time, the increased pressure can cause other valves to fail and blood will leak into soft tissue, leading to swelling, ulcers and other health problems.

Q: Vein problems have often been considered cosmetic, without real harmful health effects. Is that view still common?

A: For years, doctors told patients that spider veins were cosmetic, not a real health threat. Now, it is part of a continuum of severity. Vein disease can progress, going from spider veins up to lumpy, bumpy varicose veins, then to serious swelling, to skin changes consistent with an end-stage disease, and finally open venous ulcers. It isn’t a direct progression though. If you have spider veins you are at risk for ulcers, but it may not always lead to it.

Q: Who is at risk to develop venous disease?

A: There are three big risk factors – genetic predisposition, environment and hormones. People who work on their feet all day, like lobstermen, teachers, hairstylists and retail workers can develop vein problems because they don’t rest and elevate their legs when they should. Hormonal changes can be a risk, especially for women around puberty, at first trimester pregnancy and menopause. Older people are also at risk. Walking helps pump blood back to your heart, and as you get older you walk less.

Q: How can people prevent vein problems?

A: Regular exercise is important – try to walk at least 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be all at once, little changes like parking a little farther away from the grocery store and walking over can make a big difference. When sitting down, try to elevate your legs to help send blood back to your heart. Compression socks and stockings get a really bad rap, but are really helpful. There are thousands of options, colors and styles now to choose from. I see patients all the time who do all the right things and still get vein problems, but the question is, could it have been worse if they didn’t try to prevent it?

Q: Are there any factors, like obesity, that make Mainers more or less at risk for vein disease?

A: I don’t know where Maine ranks, but I bet we have more vein disease because of our older population. Many problems may be going untreated because there are so few doctors in the state focused on vein health. The question of obesity is actually controversial. We’re not sure if obesity is a risk factor for vein disease, but morbid obesity can make it more difficult to identify vein problems because there is so much soft tissue.

Q: Some vein disorders can be life-threatening. Can you explain the risks and talk about how it can be treated?

A: Most common issues, like spider veins, occur in small veins close to the skin. But the deep vein system is also at risk, especially from blood clots called Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT. If it isn’t caught early, a blood clot can grow like a snowball and block the vein. Eventually, pressure will dislodge the clot and it will get sent to the heart, where it can be passed into arteries heading to the lungs or the brain. If it gets stuck in a cerebral artery, it can block off blood flow to the brain and cause an embolic stroke; if it gets stuck in the lungs, it becomes a pulmonary embolism, both of which can be fatal.

Q: Who is most at risk for serious deep vein problems and how can people prevent them?

A: People with prolonged immobility and blood-clotting issues, like cancer patients, are at risk, as are pregnant women, seniors and people with damage to their vein walls. Young, otherwise healthy people are a really scary group for us, because they are less likely to be concerned about pain that appears in their leg and might brush it off as a cramp or a minor injury. The only way to treat clots is if we catch it early with an ultrasound and then use blood-thinning drugs to treat it. If all of a sudden your calf swells up and you can’t explain it, you probably have a clot. It is not that easy to develop a clot, but people with those risk factors should pay attention, they are more common than people think. People have heard about DVT, they know it is scary, but they don’t know enough about preventing it. q



]]> 0 PORTLAND, ME - FEBRUARY 28: Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen threads a laser fiber into a patients leg during a laser procedure at Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland Tuesday, February 28, 2017. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Sun, 12 Mar 2017 14:34:17 +0000
Treatment options for vein problems Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 TREATMENTS FOR VEIN CONDITIONS used to involve tying the offending vein off and removing it from under the skin, but now there are less invasive and less painful options. Here are a few:

Endovenous approaches include endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), and radio frequency therapy (RF). These minimally invasive treatments close large varicose veins in the legs. A tiny fiber delivers radio waves or laser heat to seal the vein shut. A patient’s body will eventually reabsorb the vein, allowing the blood to be diverted to healthy veins in the leg.

Sclerotherapy is a procedure used to treat smaller veins. The provider uses tiny needles to inject a medicine called a sclerosing agent into the vein. This substance causes the vein to become sticky and seal shut, causing it to disappear. Sclerotherapy can be performed either with ultrasound guidance or light assistance.

Ambulatory phlebectomy is an out-patient procedure used to treat varicose veins that are too large to be effectively treated with sclerotherapy. This treatment involves removing the vein through micro-punctures in the skin.

Other, more conservative, options include compression therapy, exercise and elevation techniques.

]]> 0 PORTLAND, ME - FEBRUARY 28: Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, right, performs a laser procedure on a patient at Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland Tuesday, February 28, 2017. She is assisted by Sam Armfield a registered vascular ultrasound technologist, center, and medical assistant Michaela Fortin, left. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Mon, 13 Mar 2017 17:09:56 +0000