Lifestyle – Press Herald Sun, 22 Oct 2017 01:09:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Colby College students, staff collect household waste in Waterville Sat, 21 Oct 2017 23:12:21 +0000 WATERVILLE — The so-called “Colby Bubble” popped years ago.

On Saturday, students and Colby College faculty volunteers made sure it stayed popped with a massive cleanup of Waterville’s gritty South End neighborhood.

Six 30-yard trash containers were placed strategically around the neighborhood, where an estimated 100-plus city and college volunteers filled them with old household and yard goods to be hauled away to the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock for processing.

They arrived in pickup trucks, cars and even a double-seater all-terrain vehicle, all to be loaded with refuse that neighborhood residents had set on the sidewalk to be hauled away.

“We’re really excited that Colby is this involved,” Waterville City Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, said from the command post Saturday outside the South End Teen Center on Water Street.

“If this is the thing to get to the thing – if dumpsters is what you need to help clean up the neighborhood to get to the thing, which is a better quality of life in the neighborhood that inspires people to continue to maintain that – then we can do that. Let’s do this.”

Dupont, a member of the South End Neighborhood Association, added that improving the properties in the area will in turn attract new homebuyers and renters for an infusion of capital.

She said all “the stuff” being collected Saturday is coming from people’s homes, apartment buildings and the nearby embankment of the Kennebec River. She said that unless there are volunteer days like Saturday’s event, people “in survival mode” who lack the means to get rid of unwanted things such as old TVs, videocassette recorders, tires and furniture, will resort to tossing them where they don’t belong.

Zhuofan Zhang, a Colby computer science student from Bejing was sporting a blue T-shirt that read “Popping The Bubble,” and he knew what it meant.

“I think it means popping the bubble surrounding Colby College,” he said. “It means that we can interact with downtown Waterville, instead of staying up on the hill.”

Carly Swartz, a Colby sophomore from North Reading, Massachusetts, who was helping with the cleanup Saturday with fellow members of the Colby softball team, said it is important to volunteer in Waterville.

“I think it’s really important to help the residents of the town we go to college in,” she said. “It puts perspective where we’re going to school and the people we’re always around and helping the community.”

Her teammate and fellow student Kate Guerin, a first-year student from Bowdoinham, said they are familiar with the expression “popping the bubble” and that is what they are trying to change, to show that the college and the students really care.

Mason Brady, a Colby sophomore from Menlo Park, California, majoring in computer science, said he and his friends were busy Saturday unloading pickup trucks into the waiting dumpsters.

“This is great. I love coming out into the community and making an impact,” he said. “It’s not often that we get to do stuff like this. It’s really fun.”

Dupont said volunteer Paula Raymond, of the neighborhood association’s Quality of Life Committee, who works for the adult education program in Waterville, walked around the neighborhood and talked to people all summer, telling them to get ready for Saturday’s cleanup and handed out fliers.

“This is my neighborhood – born and raised. This is my haunt, this is my neighborhood, and we want to clean it up,” Raymond said.

The Central Maine Apartment Owners Association also participated in the cleanup Saturday.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

Twitter: Doug_Harlow

]]> 0 College staff members Laura Jones-Pettit, left, and Katie Sawyer, and Megan Marsh, back, organize a large metal bin of old household and yard goods collected Saturday for a cleanup designed to help students and faculty engage with the city of Waterville.Sat, 21 Oct 2017 19:57:29 +0000
On cigarette tax hikes, tobacco lobby powerful foe Sat, 21 Oct 2017 22:57:07 +0000 For more than a decade, Kristin Page-Nei begged Montana lawmakers to raise cigarette prices. As a health advocate for the American Cancer Society, she watched year after year as other states increased their cigarette taxes and lowered their smoking rates. “What they’re doing is saving lives,” she kept saying.

Finally, this spring, she helped convince state senators to raise cigarette taxes for the first time in 12 years. Then came the tobacco lobbyists.

Bankrolled by the country’s two biggest cigarette companies, they swarmed the halls of the state capitol, wined and dined Republican leaders, launched a sophisticated call-in campaign and coached witnesses for hearings. The tobacco companies poured more than $200,000 into Montana, a state with barely a million residents.

It took them just one week to kill the bill – from the time it passed the state Senate to its last gasps in a state House committee. The tobacco lobby was so effective that, in the end, eight of the bill’s original co-sponsors voted against it.

“It was incredible. Just brutal,” Page-Nei said. “I’d never seen this amount of money being poured into a session in my 17 years here.”

Health experts agree that raising taxes is the most effective way to reduce tobacco use. The U.S. surgeon general, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all concluded that raising taxes helps large numbers of smokers to quit and have advocated loudly for it.

But many states – Missouri, Kentucky and Georgia among them – have not significantly increased their cigarette fees in decades, bowing to pressure from tobacco lobbyists and an ingrained antipathy among conservatives to raising taxes of any kind.

As a result, America’s smokers are increasingly concentrated in states where cigarettes are cheap. A pack of cigarettes will soon cost $13 in New York City, where a tax hike of $2.50 was recently passed. But in Kentucky – the state with the highest rate of smokers, at 25.9 percent, compared to the national rate of 15 percent – you can buy that same pack for $4.77 on average.

“People around here just don’t like the ‘tax’ word,” said Ellen Hahn, a tobacco control expert at the University of Kentucky who has struggled for years to raise Kentucky’s 60 cents per pack cigarette tax. “Between that and the grip of the tobacco industry on our legislature, it’s hard to convince anyone, especially politicians.”

The huge gap in prices is the result of a long-running war between tobacco companies and health advocates. It is also, experts say, one of the biggest reasons low-tax states now suffer from high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a multitude of other tobacco-related diseases.

“It’s incredibly frustrating because unlike so many other problems in the country, this is one case where we know the solution,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Not only that. It’s a solution that’s widely popular, doesn’t cost the government anything, yet these states refuse to do it.”

In the 1980s, some states started aggressively raising cigarette taxes to combat smoking. Over the years, overwhelming research has proved it works. But there’s one wrinkle: The tax increase has to be large, or else it has little effect on smokers.

As a result, the battle has increasingly focused on not just whether states should increase taxes, but by how much.

Health advocates regularly fight for $1 to $2 increases, while cigarette companies push to limit them to hikes of 25 to 50 cents. That has led, at times, to bizarre conflicts.

Last year, when Missouri considered raising its cigarette tax for the first time in more than two decades, tobacco companies actually supported the increase, while health groups such as the American Cancer Society strongly opposed it.

The reason? The proposed increase was so low – either a gradual 23-cent hike or a 60-cent increase over four years – that researchers concluded smokers would pay it and keep smoking.

The Missouri fight was particularly important because the state has the lowest cigarette tax in the country. These days, Missouri smokers pay only 17 cents per pack, plus the nationwide federal tax of $1.01 cents.

Health advocates accused tobacco companies of backing the small bump to avoid larger hikes in the future.

Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, which spent $12.5 million for the cause, denied that motive, saying it promoted the tax because it didn’t hurt consumers and retailers and because the money would go to a good cause – early-childhood education. “We thought it was a reasonable, common-sense proposal,” R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said.

]]> 0 Sat, 21 Oct 2017 20:38:49 +0000
Fertility industry enjoys growth spurt Sat, 21 Oct 2017 22:05:17 +0000 When Julie Schlomer got the news that she was finally pregnant at the age of 43, her thoughts turned to the other mothers. There were three of them in all, complete strangers, but they shared an extraordinary bond made possible by 21st-century medicine and marketing.

They were all carrying half-siblings.

Under a cost-saving program offered by Rockville, Maryland-based Shady Grove Fertility, the women split 21 eggs harvested from a single donor – blue-eyed, dark-haired, with a master’s degree in teaching. Each had the eggs fertilized with her partner’s sperm and transferred to her womb.

Schlomer gave birth to twins, a son and daughter, now 3. She hopes her children will one day connect with their genetic half-siblings.

“I would love to see pictures of the other kids, to talk to them,” Schlomer said.

The multibillion-dollar fertility industry is booming, and experimenting with business models that are changing the American family in new and unpredictable ways. Would-be parents seeking donor eggs and sperm can pick and choose from long checklists of physical and intellectual characteristics. Clinics now offer volume discounts, package deals and 100 percent guarantees for babymaking that are raising complicated ethical and legal questions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 percent of American women 15 to 55 – 7.3 million – have used some sort of fertility service; the use of assisted reproductive technologies has doubled in the past decade. In 2015, these procedures resulted in nearly 73,000 babies – 1.6 percent of all U.S. births. The rate is even higher in some countries, including Japan (5 percent) and Denmark (10 percent).

Most couples use their own eggs and sperm, turning to doctors to facilitate pregnancy through techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). But the use of donor gametes is on the rise. The donor-egg industry, in particular, has taken off in the past decade with the development of a safe and reliable egg-freezing process. The number of attempted pregnancies with donor eggs has soared from 1,800 in 1992 to almost 21,200 in 2015.

Yet in the United States, the industry remains largely self-regulated. Questions abound about the recruitment of donors; the ethics of screening and selecting embryos for physical characteristics; the ownership of the estimated millions of unused eggs, sperm samples and embryos in long-term storage; and the emerging ability to tinker with embryos via the gene-editing tool CRISPR.

Earlier this year, a group of donor-conceived adults documented numerous ethical lapses in the industry, including donors who lied to prospective parents about their health histories and other qualifications, and clinics that claimed to have limited donations from some individuals – while permitting those individuals to submit hundreds of samples. They called on the Food and Drug Administration to provide more oversight of the “cryobanks” that gather, store and sell the most precious commodities in the industry: sperm and eggs.

The agency said it is reviewing the matter, but cannot predict when it will have a response “due to the existence of other FDA priorities.”

In the meantime, the business of assisted reproduction remains a mostly unregulated frontier. Shady Grove Fertility, the nation’s largest clinic, offers refunds if couples don’t go home with a baby. New Hope Fertility in New York City held a lottery earlier this year that awarded 30 couples a $30,000 round of IVF. And the California IVF Fertility Center is pioneering what some refer to as the “Costco model” of babymaking, creating batches of embryos using donor eggs and sperm that can be shared among several different families.

That model has served to highlight a preference among many would-be parents for tall, thin, highly educated donors.

“It’s a little unsettling to be marketing characteristics as potentially positive in a future child,” said Rebecca Dresser, a bioethicist at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics under George W. Bush. “But it’s hard to think on what basis to prohibit that.”

]]> 0 Schlomer, 3, dances with her twin brother, Logan, above, at the Schlomer family's home in Lexington Park, Md. At right, Julie Schlomer and her husband, Ryan Schlomer, do an art project with the kids. Julie Schlomer used a shared egg donor and in vitro fertilization to have the twins.Sat, 21 Oct 2017 18:30:30 +0000
Fox knew of lawsuit when re-signing Bill O’Reilly Sat, 21 Oct 2017 21:51:31 +0000 NEW YORK — The Fox News Channel says the company knew a news analyst planned to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O’Reilly when it renewed the popular personality’s contract in February.

The New York Times reported Saturday the company renewed the TV host’s contract after he reached a $32 million settlement with the analyst.

In a statement, 21st Century Fox defended its decision because it said he had settled the matter personally. It also said O’Reilly and the woman had agreed the financial terms would be kept confidential.

The company says O’Reilly’s new contract had added protections that allowed Fox to dismiss him if other allegations surfaced.

O’Reilly was ousted months later when it was revealed Fox had paid five women a total of $13 million to keep quiet about harassment allegations.

The news analyst’s allegations included repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to the woman, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke to The New York Times.

The settlement was by far the largest of a half dozen deals made by O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against the host, according to the newspaper.

It was reached in January. In February, 21st Century Fox granted O’Reilly’s a four-year extension on a $25 million-a-year contract. In April, it fired him.

O’Reilly has called his firing from Fox News Channel a “political hit job” and that his network’s parent company made a business decision to get rid of him. He also has said his conscience was clear in how he dealt with women. O’Reilly could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The most-watched figure in cable TV was dismissed by 21st Century Fox nine months after the company removed its founding CEO, Roger Ailes, following harassment charges. Ailes died at his home in Los Angeles last May.

The company said it has taken numerous steps to change its workplace environment.

“21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination,” Fox said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

O’Reilly hosts a podcast, contributes to Glenn Beck’s radio program and continues to write books.

]]> 0 personality Bill O'Reilly, who's settled several harassment suits, says his conscience is clear in how he's dealt with women. (AP PhotoSat, 21 Oct 2017 17:58:07 +0000
Fox News pulls false story about ‘hero’ Sat, 21 Oct 2017 21:27:56 +0000 NEW YORK — Fox News Channel has removed a false story from its website, saying it was duped by an artist the network highlighted as a Vietnam veteran, a member of the first U.S. Navy SEAL team and a much-decorated war hero.

The report, which aired Oct. 8, focused on 72-year-old glass artist John Garofalo, who “despite health issues” emerged from semiretirement to create a 4-foot-high, 150-pound glass-and-bronze presidential seal he said he hoped to present to President Trump.

The report – captioned “Decorated War Hero Hopes to Honor Trump With Glass Presidential Seal” – included numerous details of Garofalo’s alleged military past.

“Unfortunately, all of Garofalo’s claims turned out to be untrue,” Fox News said in a statement issued Thursday. “The fact is that he did not serve in Vietnam. He was never a U.S. Navy SEAL. Even though he showed us medals, Garofalo was not awarded two Purple Hearts or any of the other nearly two dozen commendations he claimed to have received, except for the National Defense Service Medal.”

The story, by Fox News correspondent Bryan Llenas, displayed Garofalo’s work in progress, which it described as a tribute to his hero, Trump, who “woke something up in me,” Garofalo said.

Host Eric Shawn closed the story by saying, “God bless John Garofalo. We certainly hope the president is listening.”

In the network’s lengthy statement, which it characterized as a correction, not a retraction, Fox News said, “It is true that Garofalo is a glass artist and a veteran. He served in Spain and he gifted two presidential seals to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.”

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Garofalo claimed to have served in the Vietnam War with a U.S. Navy SEAL team. A story aired by Fox News has been "corrected" – removed – after his assertions proved to be untrue.Sat, 21 Oct 2017 18:31:28 +0000
Magazine regrets altering cover photo of Solange Sat, 21 Oct 2017 21:20:07 +0000 LONDON — Britain’s Evening Standard newspaper has apologized to Solange Knowles for digitally altering an image of the singer on the cover of its magazine.

Knowles – who had released a song called “Don’t Touch My Hair” – complained on Instagram that an elaborate braided crown on her head had been digitally removed from the photo.

The magazine article featured the singer talking about spending time at her mother’s salon as a child. She also discussed braiding’s importance to her and praised it as “its own art form.”

The magazine said Saturday that the photo was altered for “layout purposes.”

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:42:14 +0000
Reflections: Self-discovery entails strumming the instrument of the imaginative self Sat, 21 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.”

– From T.S. Eliot’s “The Rock”

Cassini, launched in 1997, will have plunged to a fiery death on Saturn by the time you read this. The Huygens Mission witnesses to humankind’s scientific prowess in choreographing a dance of numbers capable of binding a spacecraft to human purpose. Such an achievement is to be applauded. This scientizing of knowledge has routed us into one of the most scientific periods of history. But at what cost?

One observes our almost obsessive engagement with our contraptions – gadgets and smartphones and what advertising lionizes, submitting pleasurably to them unaware that they are treacherous and evanescent. The internet and its parasitic offspring have created a minefield endangering an intelligent assessment of human experience. One rightly muses how it is that social media though imitating the intimacy one seeks in a relationship is itself no guarantee of communion.

Further ponderings: Are we available, or at hand, for such calls made by life and circumstance? Is it possible that we are changing into persons who are no longer attentive to the flow of happenings except in the most cursory manner? Is it possible that despite having upon us the stamp of culture and worldly wisdom, we are in our imagination and purpose destined to remain on the surface of life … empty of serious intention? Is it possible that our lives are running down like a clock in an empty room?

Alfred North Whitehead in his “Reflections On Man and Nature” allowed that “The self-confidence of learned people is the comic tragedy of civilization.” In the face of our absurd trust in the adequacy of our knowledge we are, in the words of philosopher Gabriel Marcel, “being thingified.” Or as naturalist Loren Eiseley suggested, our tools are increasingly revenging themselves upon their creators, making it difficult to manage our tomorrows. We have come, he wrote, in our journeying to a region of terrible freedoms. Could it be that our age is feasting on the fallen fruit of the tree of good and evil? Would that we moved to the other end of the garden nearer to the tree of life. How much better the world would be were we less knowing and more able to look imaginatively upon the mystery of our own faces.

Thoreau may have been right when he wrote, “If we are to grasp the reality of our life while we have it, we will need to wake up to our moments, otherwise, whole days, even a whole life could slip by unnoticed.”

There is wisdom in becoming our own projects, minding the garden of our lives, reflecting upon what is within and ours as well as what is without and not ours, and knowing that these things will one day pass away. There is no higher praise to be spoken of any person than that life was not wasted on him and that he responded at every level of his being to the mystery of all those signs by which God acts and moves in the history of the world.

We have an unremitting need of God, which none of the experiences native to this world can satisfy and without which we suffer degradation. We were not destined to be C-major selves disconnected from the unescapable mystery of existence. I am indebted to Dr. Samuel Miller – a former teacher and later dean of Harvard Divinity School, for the following: In Miller’s book “The Dilemma of Modern Belief,” he referred to a moving passage in Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Man with the Blue Guitar.”

The man bent over his guitar,

A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,

You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied,”Things as they are

Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

Of this Miller wrote: The act of discovering who we are and what we are for entails our strumming this strange instrument of the imaginative self, expanding our internal being which we change upon the blue guitar. The reality of our being is forever in the process of being changed, transformed, turned in new directions and fashioned for new uses and possibly in the last made holy. In playing upon the blue guitar we may come to believe the mystery of our peculiar being.

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is Minister of Visitation Emeritus of First Parish Church in Saco. He may be contacted at

]]> 0 Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:31:26 +0000
Museum aims to revive interest in Scripture Sat, 21 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 WASHINGTON — The Museum of the Bible, a massive new institution opening next month just south of the National Mall, is just as notable for what it includes – vivid walk-through recreations of the ancient world, one of the world’s largest private collections of Torahs, a motion ride that sprays water at you, a garden of Biblical plants – as for what it leaves out.

The $500 million museum, chaired and largely funded by the conservative Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby, doesn’t actually say a word about the Bible’s views on sexuality or contraception. The museum doesn’t encourage visitors to take the Bible literally, or to believe that the Bible has only one correct form. And in floor after gleaming floor of exhibitions, there’s very little Jesus.

This isn’t the evangelism that the billionaire Green family first promised a decade ago when they set out to build a museum dedicated to Scripture. At the time, the museum’s mission statement promised to “bring to life the living word of God … to inspire confidence in the absolute authority” of the Bible, the book at the institution’s center.

The approach today, while still viewed with skepticism by some scholars, appears to be more modest: “The museum has fenceposts – limits. It doesn’t overtly say the Bible is good – that the Bible is true,” said Steve Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby and the chair of the museum. “That’s not its role. Its role is to present facts and let people make their own decisions.”

Much has changed in the years since the Greens started building the Bible museum. Their company became a byword not just for craft supplies but also for their religious freedom battle at the Supreme Court against all forms of mandatory contraception coverage. The family’s lightning-fast acquisition of troves of historic artifacts wound up in federal court, landing them a $3 million fine for trafficking in thousands of smuggled goods. And Washington changed, too – from a capital where white evangelical Christians felt they were under attack, to one where the man they voted for in overwhelming numbers, Donald Trump, is shaking up the halls of power just blocks from the new museum.

In this new moment in America, the museum that will open Nov. 17 has a simpler message for the nation, a pitch that seems to have more to do with capturing the attention of a distracted populace than with saving souls. All the museum asks about the Bible: Just try reading it.


The museum, which will be among the largest in a city chock full of museums, presents broad, sometimes abstract concepts about the Bible, communicated through cutting-edge technology and immersive experiences:

Children’s arcade games about “courage.” A sensory room with images of animals, minor-key music and creaking boat sounds meant to evoke the “chaos” aboard Noah’s Ark (a marked contrast from the Ark Encounter recently opened in Kentucky, which presents a life-size literal vision of Genesis). And many, many examples of the Bible’s impact on everything, from calendar systems to fashion to language – most presented without overt judgment on whether that influence was good or bad.

The point, staff members say, is simply to engage an America that is losing connection with the Bible.

“Our goal isn’t to give answers but to arouse curiosity,” said Seth Pollinger, a Biblical scholar who is director of the 430,000-square-foot museum’s content.

The nonprofit museum’s projects also include a high school Bible curriculum that organizers hope will be used in schools around the world, and a research arm that invites scholars to study Green’s massive collection of artifacts. Admission to the museum will be free to the public.

Mark Noll, one of the country’s most prominent experts on American Christian history, served as an adviser. He compared the Museum of the Bible to the Newseum, another huge private museum.

“Obviously the museum is there to make people think better or think kindly about the effects of Scripture in U.S. history,” he said. “But I did think they were trying to be as nonpartisan as they could.”


Some remain skeptical of the museum’s neutral viewpoint. At the Society of Biblical Literature, the largest association of Biblical scholars, officer Steven Friesen said that there’s debate in the academic community about whether to do research involving the Greens’ collection. He would advise fellow scholars to steer clear.

Friesen hasn’t seen the museum yet, but he believes from reading the website that its materials subtly promote a singular version of Scripture; indeed, the museum mostly omits discussion about how the Bible was compiled, and which religious traditions believe which disputed books belong in the Bible. And museum staff say the place for discussing controversial issues like sexuality and abortion, which aren’t mentioned in the exhibits, might be at events hosted at the museum; Friesen thinks those events are meant to draw in influential people to hear the Greens’ take on the culture wars.

“My guess is that they’ve worked very hard at covering what they would like to do, trying to hide the agenda that is behind the museum,” he said, defining that agenda as the promotion of their deep faith in the literal truth of the Bible.

]]> 0 entrance to the Museum of the Bible features relief lettering of Scriptures in Latin. At left, the children's area under construction. The museum's avoidance of controversial topics surprises some, considering its Hobby Lobby sponsorship.Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:53:21 +0000
Wild blueberry milk coming from Oakhurst in the spring Sat, 21 Oct 2017 03:20:05 +0000 Oakhurst Dairy plans to introduce a wild Maine blueberry milk this spring, and based on the response the announcement got on social media, there will be some eager customers.

“Will they ship to California?” two Facebook users asked. There were outcries from Illinois and New Hampshire about the immediate need for this milk.

“Low fat?” another asked. (Just whole milk for now.) They weighed in on Oakhurst’s choice of possible labels, voting in favor of one that features Maine’s iconic berry, although someone shot down the logo “straight from the barrens” on the grounds that the term has too many connotations.

But the bigger question, asked over and over, was, will this purple milk be made with real wild Maine blueberries? The Oakhurst representative who handles Facebook promised that yes, the berries would be real.

Oakhurst already offers a blueberry ice tea.

Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook already makes a blueberry milk.

If the new flavor is a hit, that would be good news for wild blueberry growers in Maine. Blueberry farmers continue to increase the yield from the state’s 44,000 acres of blueberry fields. The high yield, coupled with fierce competition from Canada, has led to a glut of wild Maine blueberries on the market. In August the United States Department of Agriculture agreed to buy $10 million worth of the Maine crop, subsidizing the crop for the third year in a row.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

Twitter: MaryPols

]]> 0, 20 Oct 2017 23:39:05 +0000
McCain memoir coming in April Sat, 21 Oct 2017 01:36:59 +0000 NEW YORK — An upcoming memoir from Sen. John McCain has taken on new meaning since he first decided to write it.

“The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations” is scheduled to come out in April, Simon & Schuster said Friday. The publisher quietly signed up the book in February, without any formal announcement. In July, McCain disclosed he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and last month he said the prognosis was “very poor.”

McCain, 81, was re-elected to a sixth term in the Senate in 2016.

“This memoir will be about what matters most to him, and I hope it will be regarded as the work of an American hero,” said Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint.

The book is expected to begin in 2008, when the Arizona Republican lost to Barack Obama in the presidential election, and will include his “no-holds-barred opinions” on last year’s campaign and on current events in Washington. McCain has been a sharp critic of President Trump, a fellow Republican, and was a key opponent last summer of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this week, McCain denounced “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” remarks widely taken as criticism of Trump and allies such as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

“Candid, pragmatic, and always fascinating, John McCain holds nothing back in his latest memoir,” according to the publisher.

The memoir already has a notable change: The original title was “It’s Always Darkest Before It’s Totally Black,” an expression McCain likes to cite.

]]> 0 upcoming memoir from Sen. John McCain, "The Restless Wave," is due to come out next April.Fri, 20 Oct 2017 21:36:59 +0000
Court rules against cross on public land in Maryland Fri, 20 Oct 2017 22:39:22 +0000 A federal appeals court this week cast doubt on the future of a towering cross-shaped monument that has marked a major intersection in Maryland for decades.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the 40-foot-tall memorial maintained with thousands of dollars in public funds “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.”

The court’s ruling sends the case back to the District Court in Baltimore and comes as public displays of religion have been challenged in courts throughout the country.

The question for the 4th Circuit was whether the cross at Maryland Route 450 and Route 1 in Bladensburg is a memorial to local men lost in World War I or an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion that should be removed from public land.

Built in 1925 with funding from local families and the American Legion, the marble-and-concrete cross honors 49 Prince George’s County men who died in the war. On the cross’s base are the words valor, endurance, courage and devotion. A bronze tablet lists the names of the men and includes a quote from President Woodrow Wilson.

Supporters said the monument, known as the Peace Cross, is commemorative, not religious, and is part of a larger memorial park in the immediate area honoring veterans of several wars.

Even with the nonreligious elements, the court said, “the sectarian elements easily overwhelm the secular ones,” making it an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment that prevents the government from favoring a particular religion.

“The cross is by far the most prominent monument in the area, conspicuously displayed at a busy intersection,” wrote Judge Stephanie Thacker, who was joined by Judge James Wynn in the opinion by the appeals court in Richmond, Virginia. Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote a separate opinion in which he dissented in part.

The challenge was brought by the American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group that represents atheists and others. The group does not dispute that the monument is a memorial, but said in court that a giant cross on government property sends a message of exclusion in violation of the First Amendment.

A District Court judge in 2015 declined to order the cross removed from public land, saying it is a historically significant secular war memorial and that the government agency had a nonreligious reason for maintaining it.

]]> 0 in memory of the 49 men of Prince George's County, Maryland, who died in World War I, the Peace Cross stands 40 feet tall.Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:35:08 +0000
Concert review: Leslie Odom Jr. puts on soulful show – complete with sing-along – at Merrill Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:26:25 +0000 On tour after winning Tony and Grammy awards for his performance as Aaron Burr in the Broadway megahit “Hamilton,” singer-actor Leslie Odom Jr. came to Merrill Auditorium on Thursday night for a concert presented by Portland Ovations.

The 36-year-old Odom has a resume full of theater, TV and movie credits. Though he spoke with a good deal of humor about all that, the focus was on the music during this, his first visit to Portland.

Fronting a crack five-piece band, the singer explored a repertoire of pop and jazz standards along with a few tunes from his Broadway days during the 75-minute performance. His seasoned but smooth tenor provided many soulful, swinging and – assisted by a touch of reverb – soaring moments that showed he’s an artist and entertainer who respects musical traditions as well as recent innovations.

Odom featured a handful of tunes associated with Nat King Cole, who some in the multigenerational crowd likely remembered as an early crossover artist. “Mona Lisa” built to a dramatic peak while “Straighten Up and Fly Right” moved into a playful swing rhythm. The intimacy of “Unforgettable” featured a delicate solo from pianist Michael Mitchell to top off Odom’s emotive phrasing.

With both a trap drummer (John Davis) and a hand percussionist (Senfu Stoney) in the group, many of the selections were given a Caribbean or South American feel, making it feel as though the “Autumn Leaves” of one song title were falling far south of here Thursday night. The sambalike syncopations of “Look for the Silver Lining” led to a flavorful acoustic guitar solo from Steven Walker, highlighting the upbeat message delivered by Odom.

Upright bass player Orlando le Fleming developed a propulsive solo on “The Guilty Ones” before going electric to back an impeccable rock guitar excursion from Walker.

The singer moved things further forward in time with an incantatory take on Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” before pleasing many in the crowd with hits from “Hamilton.”

Odom again became Burr for the insistent hip-hop lines of “The Room Where It Happens,” while “Dear Theodosia” engendered a sing-along to its “someday” refrain. The latter was an overall thing of beauty, topped only by an encore drawn from the singer’s early career. The haunting “Without You” from the show “Rent” was the perfect cap on an evening full of memorable musical moments.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Odom Jr., who won a Tony for playing Aaron Burr in the Broadway' hit "Hamilton," entertained a crowd at Merrill Auditorium in Portland Thursday.Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:29:09 +0000
Horoscopes for Oct. 20, 2017 Fri, 20 Oct 2017 08:01:37 +0000 0, 19 Oct 2017 14:11:14 +0000 Elvis house, property go up for auction Fri, 20 Oct 2017 02:05:32 +0000 TUPELO, Miss. — Years before Elvis Presley became the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the story goes, he lived in a small house up a hill from his elementary school in northeastern Mississippi and played with other kids in a nearby field. Fans now have a chance to buy that old home and land.

The white, wood-frame house and more than 16 acres of adjoining property are part of an upcoming celebrity auction that includes everything from actress Marilyn Monroe’s dresses to Michael Jackson’s dark fedora.

Want the Army uniform that Tom Hanks wore while filming “Forrest Gump?” It’s in the sale. What about Whitney Houston’s see-through, acrylic piano or the umbrella with a parrot-shaped handle that Julie Andrews carried in “Mary Poppins?” Or Hugh Hefner’s 1973 BMW, purchased with Playboy profits, presumably?

The house, land and other memorabilia are part of an online auction set for Nov. 11 by GWS Auctions, a Southern California company which specializes in the sale of items including estates, fine art and celebrity collectibles.

More than 150 items will be auctioned in all, including other items linked to Presley – his private jet, a 1957 pink Cadillac, a boat named “Hound Dog,” a television he shot up at Graceland and a two-bedroom mobile home from his Circle G ranch.

There’s also a radio once owned by President John F. Kennedy; a dress, nightgown and jumpsuit owned by his late widow, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Reese Witherspoon clothing from the movie “Legally Blonde;” and a 1993 Jaguar owned by the late model Anna Nicole Smith.

]]> 0 Presley performs in concert during his "Aloha From Hawaii" television special in 1972.Thu, 19 Oct 2017 22:05:32 +0000
Shia LaBeouf sentenced to year on probation Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:02:38 +0000 SAVANNAH, Ga. — Shia LaBeouf will spend the next year on probation after the “Transformers” actor pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction stemming from a public outburst in Georgia.

LaBeouf appeared before a Recorder’s Court judge Thursday in Savannah, where he was arrested July 8 while staying in the area to film the movie “The Peanut Butter Falcon.”

Police said LaBeouf became aggressive and began shouting vulgarities in a downtown nightlife district after a bystander refused to give him a cigarette. LaBeouf also pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge of disorderly conduct.

]]> 0 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 21:02:38 +0000
British Film Institute strips Harvey Weinstein of high honor Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:51:42 +0000 LONDON — The British Film Institute stripped disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein of its highest honor Thursday, saying his alleged “appalling conduct” stands in opposition to the organization’s values.

Weinstein was awarded a BFI Fellowship in 2002 for his contribution to British cinema.

In recent weeks, dozens of women have accused him of sexual assault and harassment. He has been fired by the film company he founded with his brother Bob and expelled from Hollywood’s movie academy.

Weinstein denies having any non-consensual sexual activity.

The film institute said in a statement that “the serious and widespread allegations about Harvey Weinstein’s appalling conduct are in direct opposition to the BFI’s values.”

It said “sexual harassment, abuse and bullying is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

“We wholeheartedly support those brave enough to come forward and speak out,” the institute said. “The film industry needs more women represented on every level, on and off screen.

Several British lawmakers have also appealed for Weinstein to lose an honor he was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, when he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The politicians have asked the Honors Forfeiture Committee to rescind the award, which is one notch below a knighthood.

Weinstein has backed many British movies, including “Shakespeare in Love” and “The King’s Speech.”

London police are investigating allegations of sexual assault against him made by two women.

]]> 0 Weinstein arrives at The Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this 2007 photo.Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:52:39 +0000
Portland Museum of Art announces artists for 2018 biennial Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:45:24 +0000 The 2018 Portland Museum of Art Biennial will include 25 artists, and all but one has never exhibited at the PMA before. For the second time in a row, the biennial will include the influence and presence of Wabanaki artists.

The biennial opens Jan. 26, 2018.

The artists are: Gina Adams, Becca Albee, Nancy Andrews, Elise Ansel, Elizabeth Atterbury, Stephen Benenson, Sascha Braunig, Anne Buckwalter, Steve Cayard and David Moses Bridges, Tim Christensen, Jenny McGee Dougherty, Angela Dufresne, David Driskell, John Harlow, Séan Alonzo Harris, Erin Johnson, Shaun Leonardo, Jonathan Mess, Daniel Minter, Rosamond Purcell, Joshua Reiman and Eric Weeks, Fred Tomah, DM Witman.

The artists represent a variety of media, including canoe-making.

The museum hired Nat May, former director of Space Gallery, as an independent curator to select artists for the exhibition. PMA director Mark Bessire, artist and Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance co-founder Theresa Secord and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture co-director Sarah Workneh helped May make the final selections.

May sought artists who complement each other and reflect Maine’s diverse communities. In a departure from previous biennials, many of the artists will exhibit several examples of their work.

“Rather than put together a ‘greatest hits’ exhibition, we wanted to use the opportunity of the (b)iennial to focus on artists who hadn’t previously participated in PMA Biennials or other programming at this institution,” May said in a press release. “To show work in a museum can be an important step for an artist, and to present work to a museum audience can invite a unique opportunity for dialogue and exchange in our varied cultural community.”

All artists live in Maine or have ties to the state.

This is the 10th biennial in the PMA history, and the second primarily organized by an independent curator. Most recently, the biennial that opened in October 2015 was curated by Alison Ferris of Edgecomb. In the early years of the biennial, the PMA solicited submissions by artists and made selections by jury.

The exhibition provides an every-other-year examination of the contemporary art scene in Maine, as seen through the eyes of a curator or jury.

Participants include established artists like painter Driskell, photographer Purcell and mixed-media artist Minter. A canoe built collaboratively by Cayard and the late Passamaquoddy canoemaker Bridges will be part of the display, along with Indian baskets by Tomah and a variety of work by Adams, a Maine College of Art graduate with Indian heritage.

“I’m very happy with the exhibition’s range,” May said. “We’ve assembled a great group of people, of identities, and of histories to be represented. The value of the show is in the dialogs it will create, among the artworks selected and among the artists and viewers.”

]]> 0 artist Daniel Minter, one of the 25 artists selected for the PMA biennial, with some of his work at his Portland home.Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:49:37 +0000
Hotel guard appears on ‘Ellen,’ describes getting shot before Las Vegas massacre Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:40:31 +0000 LAS VEGAS — The gunman who unleashed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history first wounded an unsuspecting hotel security guard in a hallway who promptly radioed for help, according to a TV interview broadcast Wednesday with the guard and a hotel building engineer whose life he is credited with saving.

In his only public recounting of the Oct. 1 shooting that killed 58 people and wounded more than 500, guard Jesus Campos told Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show that he was heading down the hall after calling for a maintenance worker when he heard “rapid fire” gunshots through the nearby doors of Stephen Paddock’s suite in the Mandalay Bay.

Stephen Schuck, left, and Jesus Campos walk on stage at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Campos was shot by Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. Photo by Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

“At first, I took cover. I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up, and I saw the blood,” Campos said. “That’s when I called it in on my radio that shots had been fired.”

He didn’t say what time that was.

The hotel engineer, Stephen Schuck, who was sent to check a fire exit door that Campos found bolted shut, told DeGeneres that he didn’t hear gunfire when he reached the opposite end of the 32nd floor hallway. Then, he heard what he thought was the sound of construction.

“I didn’t know it was shooting. I thought it was a jackhammer,” Schuck said. “And, you know as an engineer, I’m like, ‘We’re not working up here this late at night.’ We wouldn’t be doing that.”

“It was, I believe, outside,” he said, referring to gunfire that authorities say Paddock rained down from broken windows into a crowd of 22,000 at a country music festival. “It wasn’t in the hallway yet.”

Schuck said Campos leaned out from a door entrance and yelled for him to take cover.

“Within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that, I would have got hit,” Schuck said, describing bullets whizzing past his head.

Police later said more than 200 shots were fired into the hallway.

Campos, who walked into the interview with a cane, is recovering from a leg wound. Schuck wasn’t injured. Both are on paid leave from their jobs, according to officials at MGM Resorts International, which owns the hotel.

The company, police and the FBI declined to comment on the TV appearance.

Stephen Schuck, left, and Jesus Campos appear with host Ellen Degeneres during a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. Schuck, a building engineer, and Campos, a security guard, were working at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino the night of the mass shooting on Oct. 1. Photo by Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Campos drew intense attention when police hailed him as a hero just after the shooting, saying he unwittingly stopped the massacre by arriving in the hallway.

The police timeline changed dramatically a week later, when authorities said Campos reported being wounded at 9:59 p.m. — six minutes before people in the concert crowd reported shots.

The timeline of the massacre changed again last Friday, when Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Campos had been dispatched to the 32nd floor at 9:59 p.m. and was wounded in the hallway less than a minute before the massacre started at 10:05 p.m.

Schuck’s account in the DeGeneres interview seemed to support that chronology.

He told Campos in the interview that the guard saved Schuck’s life, and DeGeneres credited Campos with also warning a woman who started to come out of her room to get back inside.

“Shortly after that is when Stephen (Schuck) was approaching, and I told him to stay back and get cover, and that’s when more rounds were dispersed,” Campos said.

His interview came after the last-minute cancellation of a scheduled live interview with Fox host Sean Hannity last Thursday, said David Hickey, president of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America.

Campos then dropped from public view, said Hickey, who had been involved in booking the appearance.

“We’re more than pleased that he’s resurfaced and appears to be in good health,” Hickey said. “If he comes back as a security officer at Mandalay Bay, we’ll see him again. If not, we wish him the best.”

]]> 0 Schuck, left, and Jesus Campos appear with host Ellen Degeneres during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. Schuck, a building engineer, and Campos, a security guard, were working at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino the night of the mass shooting on Oct. 1.Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:42:42 +0000
Tony-winning ‘Hamilton’ actor Leslie Odom Jr. takes stage at Merrill tonight Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:00:11 +0000 0, 19 Oct 2017 09:41:51 +0000 Gord Downie, singer-songwriter for Tragically Hip, dies at 53 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:43:17 +0000 Gord Downie, the frontman and lyricist for the Canadian rock group the Tragically Hip – whose songs about that country’s small towns, hockey heroes and frontier history made the band a source of national pride and devotion for more than two decades – died Oct. 17. He was 53.

The cause was terminal brain cancer, according to a statement on the band’s website. Downie revealed his diagnosis last year through a message on the Tragically Hip’s website.

Gord Downie speaks during a ceremony Dec. 6 honoring him at the AFN Special Chiefs assembly in Gatineau, Quebec. Downie, the poetic lead singer of the Tragically Hip, whose determined fight with brain cancer inspired a nation, died Tuesday at the age of 53. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via A

To the group’s fervent admirers, Downie and his band were as closely linked to Canada as the Beatles are to England or the U2 singer Bono is to Ireland. In the months after Downie’s cancer was announced, music writers described him as his nation’s unofficial poet laureate, a rock ‘n’ roll bard who spoke to blue-collar workers and urban intellectuals alike.

His final show with the Hip was broadcast live in August to an audience of millions and attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Gord and the Tragically Hip,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. before the show, “are an inevitable and essential part of what we are and who we are as a country.”

Formed in 1984 by five high school friends from Kingston, Ontario, the Tragically Hip mixed guitar-heavy classic rock with elements of blues and country, establishing an alternative-rock sound that drew comparisons to R.E.M. and the Black Crowes.

The group won 14 Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys, and sold more than 8 million records. Nine of their 13 studio albums topped the Canadian charts, and their two No. 1 singles – the 1996 coming-of-age song “Ahead by a Century” and jangling 2006 pop hit “In View” – have become radio standards in Canada.

Unlike Canadian rock exports such as Rush, Nickelback and Arcade Fire, the Hip never managed to break through in the United States. The closest they came was in 1995, when the Ontario-born comedian Dan Aykroyd brought them on “Saturday Night Live” to perform songs from their fourth album, the somber “Day for Night.” (The album still failed to crack the top 100 in the United States.)

Perhaps it was because so much of their music was colored by maple-leaf imagery – references to hockey or, in at least one song by Downie, the beloved Canadian fast-food chain Tim Hortons. Or perhaps, as Downie and his bandmates sometimes suggested, American music publications such as Rolling Stone just chose to ignore a band that was so Canadian it featured two members named Gord.

“It used to be a sore point,” bassist Gord Sinclair told the Associated Press in 2001, when asked about the band’s lack of exposure in the United States. “And now it’s a matter of pride.”

Gordon Edgar Downie was born in Amherstview, Ontario, a Kingston suburb, on Feb. 6, 1964. His father sold real estate with Downie’s godfather, Harry Sinden, a semipro hockey player who later coached the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup.

While in high school, Downie sang in a punk group before falling in with his blues-loving classmates Sinclair and guitarist Rob Baker.

The Tragically Hip – named after a sketch in “Elephant Parts,” a 1981 collection of comedy and music videos by former Monkees member Michael Nesmith – was formed as a cover band while all three attended Queen’s University in Kingston. Downie graduated in 1986.

The Hip, which also included guitarist Paul Langlois and drummer Johnny Fay, built a following through its energetic live performances. Downie played the role of ringmaster, dancing across the stage and improvising monologues in the middle of songs.

The group’s debut album, “Up to Here” (1989), sold well in Canada, aided by the popular blues-rock anthems “Blow at High Dough” and “New Orleans Is Sinking.” Two years later, “Road Apples” topped the Canadian charts.

With the album “Fully Completely” (1992), Downie seemed to more fully find his voice as a songwriter. In a departure from the Hip’s previous records, many of the album’s songs featured Canadian themes – inspired, he said, by the use of Canadian imagery in the 1991 Rheostatics song “Saskatchewan.”

The album featured two of the band’s most enduring songs. The hard-driving “Fifty-Mission Cap” coupled the seemingly unrelated image of a hat given to elite Allied pilots during World War II with the story of Toronto hockey player Bill Barilko, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Maple Leafs in 1951, disappeared on a fishing trip soon after and, in 1962, was found dead from a plane crash that occured during the trip. That year, the Leafs won their next Cup.

On the record’s next track, the acoustic ballad “Wheat Kings,” Downie lamented the wrongful imprisonment of David Milgaard, who months before the album’s release was freed from prison after serving 23 years for a murder he didn’t commit.

]]> 0 this Dec. 6, 2016 photo, Gord Downie speaks during a ceremony honoring him at the AFN Special Chiefs assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Downie, the poetic lead singer of the Tragically Hip whose determined fight with brain cancer inspired a nation, has died. He was 53. Downie died Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, "with his beloved children and family close by," the band said in a statement on its website Wednesday morning. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:49:34 +0000
Canada’s Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, dies at 53 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 01:08:07 +0000 KINGSTON, Ontario — Gord Downie, who made himself part of Canada’s national identity with songs about hockey and small towns as lead singer and songwriter of iconic rock band The Tragically Hip, has died at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

A statement on the band’s website said he died Tuesday night “with his beloved children and family close by.” The statement did not give a cause of death, though he had been diagnosed earlier with brain cancer.

Since The Tragically Hip’s first album in 1987, the band has provided a soundtrack for the lives of many Canadians. “Ahead by a Century” and “Bobcaygeon” are among the best known.

While Canadian musicians Drake, the Weeknd and Justin Bieber have made waves internationally, the Tragically Hip built a huge following of die-hard homegrown fans.

An emotional Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wept in Parliament while talking about Downie on national television in a statement to reporters.

“We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. We all knew it was coming but we hoped it wasn’t,” said Trudeau, his voice breaking. “I thought I was going to make it through this but I’m not. It hurts. ”

Trudeau also said in a written statement that “Downie uncovered and told the stories of Canada. He was the frontman of one of Canada’s most iconic bands, a rock star, artist, and poet whose evocative lyrics came to define a country.”

“He loved every hidden corner, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life. And he wanted to make it better,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.
Downie was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable brain cancer, in December 2015. When the band made the news public the following May, expressions of sorrow poured in from across the country.
That same day, the band said it would mount a Canadian tour despite Downie’s cancer. Tickets for the 2016 summer tour sold out almost immediately, culminating in a national broadcast of the band’s final tour stop at Kingston, Ontario. Millions tuned in.

Downie later said that he needed six teleprompters during the concert series so he would not forget lyrics. But through it all, Downie remained the consummate showman, rocking out on stage in distinctive leather suits.

“Gord knew this day was coming — his response was to spend his precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss … on the lips,” the Downie family said in a statement.

During his final show, Downie called out to Trudeau, who attended the concert, to help fix problems in Canada’s aboriginal communities.

A few months after that concert, Downie released a solo album with an accompanying graphic novel and animated film inspired by the tragedy of state-funded church schools that Canadian aboriginal children were forced to attend from the 19th century until the 1970s. He said his “Secret Path” project was aimed at Canada’s decades-long government policy of requiring aboriginal children to attend residential schools, where physical and sexual abuse was often rampant.

Born in Amherstview, Ontario, Downie said he “always had a keen ear for music” and while all the other kids were spending their allowance on baseball trading cards, he was buying records “from the fathers of rock ‘n’ roll.”

While at university, he met Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fray, and they formed The Tragically Hip, which started out as a cover band.

Their first self-titled EP was released in 1987 and their breakthrough debut full-length album, “Up to Here,” was released in 1989. Since then they have released 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 14 Juno awards, the equivalent of the Grammy in Canada.

The band’s 2012 album, “Now for Plan A,” was lyrically influenced by Downie’s wife and her successful battle with breast cancer.

Downie also produced three solo albums since 2001, as well as a collaboration with fellow Canadian indie darlings The Sadies.

In Kingston, where he grew up, fans left flowers and lined up to sign a book condolences while his music played in the town square in front of city hall.

Fan Ted Nesbitt, who lives north of Toronto, said he wanted to be in Kingston to pay tribute to him and say thank you. In the square — where thousands gathered on Aug. 20, 2016, to watch a public screening of the band’s sold-out final concert — a collection of flowers and candles surrounded a commemorative stone for the band.

“He is Canada. To me it’s the cottage, the camp fire. There are so many memories listening to Hip songs,” Nesbitt said. “It’s a piece of your life that’s gone. I’m 49 and the Hip has been a part of my life since I was a teenager.”

Downie is survived by his wife and four children.

]]> 0, 18 Oct 2017 21:08:07 +0000
For ornery cats, a 2nd chance as mousers Thu, 19 Oct 2017 00:18:24 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Gary wasn’t used to being around people. He didn’t like being touched or even looked at. If anyone came too close, he’d lash out.

He was perfect for the job. Because at the Working Cats program, no manners is no problem.

Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team established the program about four years ago to place unadoptable cats – the biters and the skittish, the swatters and the ones that won’t use a litter box – into jobs as mousers at barns or stables.

The shelter recently expanded the program to move cats that were less-than-ideal pets into urban jobs at places like factories and warehouses as a sort of green pest control. The animals are microchipped, vaccinated and free of charge.

“Part of the reason cats became domesticated was to get rid of the rodent population,” said Ame Dorminy, ACCT’s spokeswoman. “We took advantage of their natural propensity to hunt and made an official program out of it.”

Cats identified as good matches for the program are kept in a separate aisle at the shelter in a row called TTA, time to adjust. On a recent visit, a low growl could be heard from a cage housing a male named Spike, whose intake sheet listed his qualifications: hissing, swatting, spitting, can’t be picked up. A few doors down, Prince was standoffish at the rear of his cage.

Just because cats don’t want to be petted or snuggle on a lap doesn’t mean they can’t have good lives, Dorminy said.

“A lot of these cats feel more comfortable when they can be themselves and use natural behaviors,” she said. “Then they’re more open to human interaction because they feel more confident.”

At Bella Vista Beer Distributors, mice were gnawing on bags of chips overnight, leaving a mess and forcing staffers to throw out about 15 bags a day, owner Jordan Fetfatzes said.

They tried exterminators, but nothing worked. An employee found ACCT’s program online, and Fetfatzes eventually decided on Gary, a white male with one blue eye and one green that had “behavioral issues.” Gary wasn’t accustomed to people and would hiss from the crate. At first, Gary would stay in the office and would only go into the warehouse after hours.

As the weeks passed, he warmed up to workers and customers, and has transformed into a sweet, playful mascot with free rein of the store.

“My only complaint is sometimes he gets in the way of a transaction,” said Fetfatzes, who describes himself as a “dog guy” who’s turned in to a cat lover thanks to Gary.

Neighborhood kids come in just to say hi to him, and he loves to play soccer with a worker who balls up cash register tape and kicks it around as Gary bats at it.

As for the mice, they vanished, seemingly repelled by Gary’s scent, Fetfatzes said.

“You’re not only saving your business money, you are helping save the life of an unwanted pet,” he said.

]]> 0, who is up for adoption as a working cat, looks out from its cage in Philadelphia. The program places cats who have behavioral challenges as workers in barns or stables.Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:18:59 +0000
Donna Karan begs for forgiveness Wed, 18 Oct 2017 23:46:24 +0000 NEW YORK — Fashion designer Donna Karan is “apologetic from the bottom of my heart” and embarrassed about “stupid” remarks she made last week that suggested sexual harassment victims were “asking for it” by the way they dressed.

Her comments on a red carpet touched off outrage online following sexual harassment and assault allegations against fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Karen spoke to Women’s Wear Daily in an interview published Monday, saying she spoke while sleep deprived and without knowing details of the mounting allegations against Weinstein, telling a red carpet reporter:

“How do we display ourselves, how do we present ourselves as women, what are we asking? Are we asking for it, you know, by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? … It’s not Harvey Weinstein. You look at everything all over the world today, you know, and how women are dressing and, you know, what they’re asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”

The designer told WWD, “I made a horrible mistake. I regret it from the bottom of my heart. This is never who I am as a woman.”

Karan has been in the fashion business for 40 years, often championing women’s causes. Her on-camera comments went viral, triggering outrage and a drop in the stock price of G-111, which has owned the company that bears her name since last year.

The company Weinstein co-founded fired him Oct. 8, days after he was accused of sexually harassing women for decades in an expose by The New York Times.

]]> 0 Karan apologized for remarks suggesting victims were "asking for it."Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:25:51 +0000
Judge allows L.A. move for son of Michael Douglas Wed, 18 Oct 2017 23:40:58 +0000 NEW YORK — The judge who sentenced Michael Douglas’ son to nearly a decade in prison says he can move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman told Cameron Douglas Wednesday in a court hearing that he can move out of New York and authorities will oversee his continuing treatment for addictions in California.

Attorney Ben Brafman says Douglas’ girlfriend is expected to deliver their child in late November or early December. He says the couple plans to spend the holidays in New York with his family. Brafman says Douglas will live with his grandfather, Kirk Douglas.

]]> 0 Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:26:23 +0000
Concert review: Michael McDonald stuffs fresh material between ’80s hits Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:30:01 +0000 Music industry veteran Michael McDonald arrived at the State Theatre toting his first album of new material in nearly a decade and a full band of crack musicians who probably couldn’t play a stray note if they tried.

Despite the fact that McDonald’s music has come back in fashion – his slick aesthetic permeates indie-pop and R&B, and earlier this year he collaborated with renowned contemporary bassist Thundercat – the crowd skewed to the baby boomers who grew up listening to him in the Doobie Brothers, with Kenny Loggins and on his smattering of 1980s solo releases. Maybe the price tag on the tickets ($45-$75) scared off the younger generation.

In the time since that peak on the pop charts, comedians have roped him into their comedy routines, from Martin Short to Jimmy Fallon to the goofy “Yacht Rock” YouTube videos. This is easy pickings for comics, reliant on the fact that he has a voice – like other male singers such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder – so singular that, when he sings, he often sounds like someone else doing an impression of him. It’s a shag carpet of a voice, evocative of the 1970s smooth, sensitive man sporting feathered hair, trimmed beard and a top button undone.

Yet there’s something undeniably joyful about his voice, which he is still capable of bringing down to soulful lows and surprisingly soaring highs. If there is an element to his singing that people can eke humor from, then that playfulness also teases out the sexiness of his compositions – the subtle funk of his rhythms, snaky guitar lines and smooth saxophone solos. Never was this more evident than in his performance of his 1982 hit “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” which he sang with the two women on stage (one of whom, songwriter Amy Holland, is his wife of nearly 35 years). The song seemed to slither into being, conjuring the sultry, mid-tempo soul that artists such as Sade would later build upon and transform into entire careers.

The sound in the theater was robust and crystalline – almost to studio perfection – with all the professionalism of someone who got his start as a touring and session musician for Steely Dan. Even 40 years later, the Steely Dan influence has never left his style, which shines with polished jazz touches and a strutting backbeat. It was a bit unfortunate that the concert was an assigned seating affair, as the music often begged to be danced to; the crowd only rose to its feet for older material such as his 1986 hit “Sweet Freedom” and the towering duo of Doobies classics that closed the set: “Minute By Minute” and “What a Fool Believes.”

His current album, “Wide Open,” is an exquisite late-career work and the songs translated very well live, particularly the delectable chorus of “Hail Mary” and the funky drive of “If You Wanted to Hurt Me.” The middle of the set was overly stuffed with these songs, and their lack of familiarity among the audience members cooled off the show’s momentum.

The concert also felt brief but may have unofficially been a co-headline show with Marc Cohn, who played a stout opening set and then joined McDonald for an encore suite of covers that included Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” with both men on acoustic guitars, and a full-band take on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Even though the original is such a towering song, McDonald’s rendition was, to nobody’s surprise, immaculately performed, respectful of Gaye’s songwriting and not a speck of dust on it.

Robert Ker is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:15:35 +0000
Horoscopes for Oct. 18, 2017 Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:01:50 +0000 0, 17 Oct 2017 14:38:32 +0000 Harvey Weinstein may not be Hollywood’s only bad actor Wed, 18 Oct 2017 02:10:16 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the group that awards the Oscars and his producers guild expulsion is a formality at this point, but now questions are being raised about what to do with other bad seeds who remain card-carrying members of the entertainment industry’s most prestigious organizations.

Before Saturday, only one person is said to have had their Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science membership revoked, and that was for loaning out awards screeners.

Before Monday, the only people to have lost their Producers Guild of America standing were those who had failed to pay their dues. Now, both organizations have opened a can of worms in expelling Weinstein.

The film academy said its decision was, in part, to “send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.” The board also intends to establish ethical standards.

Now the scrutiny around other potentially problematic members has already become something of a dark joke.

“Yes, finally – the group that counts among its current members Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson has found the one guy who treated women badly and kicked him out,” John Oliver said Sunday on his HBO show. “So congratulations, Hollywood. See you at the next Oscars where – and this is true – Casey Affleck will be presenting Best Actress.”

]]> 0 Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:37:11 +0000
Actresses Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence reveal degrading treatment Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:34:22 +0000 Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lawrence used their speeches at a Hollywood event honoring women to detail experiences of assault and harassment at the hands of directors and producers and pledged to do more to stop it from happening.

Witherspoon told the audience at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards on Monday night that the recent revelation of decades of sexual misconduct allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein has prompted her own experiences to come back “very vividly.”

Witherspoon said she had “true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment.”

Witherspoon didn’t name the director.

Lawrence detailed what she called a “degrading and humiliating” experience of being asked early on in her career to lose 15 pounds in two weeks for a role. She was then forced to pose nude alongside thinner women for photos that she says a female producer told her would serve as inspiration for her diet, she said.

When she tried to speak up about the demands, Lawrence said she couldn’t find a sympathetic ear from those in power.

“I was trapped and I can see that now,” Lawrence added. “I didn’t want to be a whistle-blower. I didn’t want these embarrassing stories talked about in a magazine. I just wanted a career.”

Lawrence said it wasn’t until she was an A-list star that she had the power to say no.

Witherspoon expressed similar regret for not being more vocal about her experience, saying she has felt anxiety about being honest and guilt for not speaking out earlier or taking action.

]]> 0 winner Jennifer Lawrence says it wasn't until she was an A-list star that she had the power to say noTue, 17 Oct 2017 20:45:43 +0000
‘Star Wars’ spinoff has title as well as May release date Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:25:24 +0000 LOS ANGELES — The young Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film finally has a title: “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Director Ron Howard announced the title Tuesday in a Twitter video celebrating production wrap on the anthology film starring Alden Ehrenreich as the grumpy space smuggler originated by Harrison Ford.

The film also stars Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newtown and focuses on Han and Chewbacca before they joined the rebellion.

The film has had some well-known production turmoil, but “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is set for a May 25, 2018, release.

]]> 0 provided by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment shows, from left, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in the original 1977 "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope." The four-day Star Wars Celebration kicked off Thursday in Orlando, Fla., marking the 40-year anniversary of the space saga.Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:40:34 +0000
Rehabilitated seal pups found in Maine are set free on Cape Cod Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:53:24 +0000 SANDWICH, Mass. — Two celebrity-named harbor seal pups that were rescued in Maine earlier this year have been rehabilitated and set free on a Massachusetts beach.

“Giseal Bündchen” and “Sealonardo DiCaprio” were released Tuesday on Scusset Beach on Cape Cod by workers at the nonprofit National Marine Life Center. Video shows the seals making their way toward the water after being set free from their cages.

Giseal, named after supermodel Gisele Bündchen, was taken to the rehabilitation center on Buzzards Bay after it was found abandoned by its mother on Chebeague Island in June. Sealonardo, named after Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was rescued on Great Spruce Head Island in May.

The pups were taught to swim and eat fish.

]]> 0 this June photo provided by the National Marine Life Center, a seal pup named "Giseal Bündchen" is treated at the facility on Cape Cod, Mass. Giseal, along with another celebrity-named harbor seal pup, was set free on a Massachusetts beach Tuesday.Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:20:42 +0000
101 things to do in Maine: Now’s the time to get started Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:53:33 +0000 0, 20 Oct 2017 08:48:33 +0000 Horoscopes for Oct. 17, 2017 Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:01:06 +0000 0, 16 Oct 2017 14:19:15 +0000 At Theater Project, characters try to make sense of hard lives in darkly comic ‘Detroit’ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 22:43:47 +0000 Author Lisa D’Amour tells us that the characters in her play “Detroit,” the dark comedy opening the season for The Theater Project, live in a “midsize American city” that is “not necessarily Detroit.”

In this 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist play, the author wants it to be known that tough economic times can bring the weird out in folks, even if they don’t live in the Motor City.

The play takes place in the adjacent backyards of two modest “first-ring” suburban homes that once suggested a bright future for inhabitants on the way up the economic ladder. They now house a new kind of sinking middle-class despair.

Ben and Mary are a 30-something couple barely making it on her salary as a paralegal and his severance pay as a victim of downsizing at a bank. They are surprised to learn that the long-empty house next door is suddenly occupied and quickly invite the new neighbors, Kenny and Sharon, over for a barbecue.

Things seem normal at first, but cracks in the casual facades of the two couples slowly begin to show. Mary drinks too much, and Ben dawdles while supposedly building a financial-planning website. Kenny and Sharon barely hold onto menial jobs as they struggle with a history of substance abuse.

Sharon, played by Lindsey Higgins, begins the revelatory process with a long, emotionally addled speech about there being “no real communication anymore.” Higgins is excellent in this and subsequent moments, eliciting both laughs and sympathy as she relates her offbeat dreams or goes off about her imaginary dog. The actress makes believable her take on the up-and-down personality who can party all night and then cry because “nothing ever happens.”

Shannon Campbell, as Mary, is right behind Higgins in emotional intensity, as she amplifies her character’s doubts to the point where she proposes going away to live in the woods. But Campbell also gets at the practical impulses that bond her to Ben in ways lost to Sharon and Kenny.

Ben and Kenny, played by Brent Askari and Corey Gagne, respectively, don’t find it so easy to emote but gain a moment of male bonding by devaluing everything besides having a mindless good time. Askari employs his considerable comic talents nicely to turn Ben’s initial defensiveness inside-out, letting loose his inner party animal.

Gagne suggests a nasty edge not far below the surface of his character’s affable exterior. His efforts to “not worry so much” will ultimately have serious consequences for his hosts.

Director Christopher Price, who also created the effective, ever-so-slightly claustrophobic scenic design, has a late cameo appearance as a relative who owns the house Kenny and Sharon occupy.

Price’s Frank warmly describes “what life used to be like” in the old neighborhood. He may be traveling a bit off into nostalgic fantasies, but it’s probably safe to say that life then was not quite as dire as it became for the two couples from “Detroit.”

Laughs, good acting and lots to think about make this production well worth a trip to Brunswick.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Higgins as Sharon, Brent Askari as Ben, Shannon Campbell as Mary and Corey Gagne as Kenny in "Detroit."Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:57:22 +0000
Singer Joe Jonas engaged to ‘Thrones’ actress Sophie Turner Mon, 16 Oct 2017 22:42:44 +0000 Singer Joe Jonas is engaged to “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner.

Turner and Jonas shared the same photo on Instagram on Sunday of her hand sporting a diamond ring and resting on top of his. Turner noted in her caption that she “said yes.”

The 21-year-old Turner has starred as Sansa Stark on “Game of Thrones” since she was 15. She played Jean Gray in last year’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” and will reprise the role in a follow-up next year.

Jonas shot to fame with his siblings as part of The Jonas Brothers. The 28-year-old now fronts the pop band DNCE.


]]> 0 combination photo shows Sophie Turner and musician Joe Jonas.Turner and Jonas are engaged.Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:22:58 +0000
Actress Mayim Bialik clarifies comments on sex assault Mon, 16 Oct 2017 22:37:15 +0000 NEW YORK — Actress Mayim Bialik has clarified her comments on the sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein after an opinion piece she wrote drew accusations of victim blaming.

Bialik wrote in a New York Times piece published Friday that she makes choices to be “self-protecting and wise” like dressing modestly and not acting flirtatiously.

She later added that nothing “excuses men for assaulting or abusing women” and women should be able to wear and act however they want.

Bialik responded to social media criticism in a Facebook interview with the Times on Monday.

She said women can’t avoid being “the victim of assault by what you wear or the way you behave.” She added that she regrets that the piece “became what it became.”

]]> 0 Bialik discussed a recent opinion piece that drew criticism.Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:18:42 +0000
Humor and pathos marry well in ‘Falling Leaves’ at Footlights Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:01:37 +0000 What could go wrong during a sentimental gathering of family and friends at a cozy old inn in Maine? The answer is: plenty, when the family is, as one character remarks, good at putting the “fun in dysfunction.”

Author/director Michael J. Tobin has given his play “Falling Leaves” the subtitle “A Romantic Dramedy.” Currently having its premiere run at the Footlights in Falmouth, this work indeed piles plenty of romance, drama and comedy into its warmly entertaining 90 minutes.

Folksy, good humor is the order of the day in the first act as the audience is introduced to Autumn, an innkeeper/matriarch who, a decade later, still mourns her husband’s death. She counts on a gathering of the clan every year to help ease her grief.

We also get to meet humble handyman Hank, who would like to romance Autumn but doesn’t know where to begin, and brassy-but-with-a-heart-of-gold cook Sam, who ends up playing unofficial referee and peacemaker once the family begins to arrive.

Light humor, spiced with just a dash of gentle sarcasm, rules in the initial reunion phase. Daughter Lizzy and her husband, Paul, who struggle to hide their hostilities, join the group along with son, Michael, who is not comfortably “out” with his mom, and his sweetly suspicious companion, Peter. Single daughter, Katie, along with family friend Ruthie, complete the large cast of characters. They nearly fill but ably navigate the intimate performance space, which is decorated with a range of vintage furniture and objects, though the play is set in the present.

With a snooping Sam frequently acting as the catalyst for the narrative exposition, we soon learn that Lizzy and Paul are divorcing, Michael and Peter want to get married at the inn and Katie is juggling choices surrounding her unplanned pregnancy.

When mom gets wind of all these issues, her ideal of having a “normal” family is seemingly crushed, despite Sam’s advice that they all “embrace the craziness.”

All the performers are exceptionally good at humanizing Tobin’s affectionately drawn characters.

Leslie Chadbourne’s sweetly stubborn Autumn balances Rick Kusturin’s shy but steady Hank. Gretchen G. Wood’s Sam exudes a tough-love caring, as does Jaymie Chamberlin’s worldly Ruthie. Victoria Machado’s Lizzy defends her honor, while Mark Calkins’ Paul muddles toward repentance. Autumn Carey has her frazzled Katie cry out for support, and Ryan Lane’s Michael pleads that his love for Andrew Hanscom’s “fabulous” Peter be accepted.

The second act grinds just a bit when the emotional gloves come off. Mom finds it excruciatingly hard to accept that, in life, “You either get bitter or you get better.” She runs the risk of becoming unlikable, which is close to unthinkable in this positive-minded show.

Never fear – love and forgiveness are in the air in this heartwarming play.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Footlights Theatre production of "Falling Leaves" features, from left, Rick Kusturin, Victoria Machado and Mark Calkins.Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:56:34 +0000
Forget handmade wreaths. Martha Stewart now hangs with Snoop Dogg and makes weed jokes Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:35:27 +0000 Here are some of the things Martha Stewart has done on her new show with Snoop Dogg: She has worn a blinged-out cheese grater on a chain around her neck. She has drunk out of what can only be described as a pimp cup. She has taste-tested a stoner recipe for a pizza omelet. She has name-dropped Escoffier. She has not flinched when Rick Ross said to her audience, “I wanna make some noise for Martha because baby got back.”

When did Martha Stewart go from being America’s most earnest homemaker, ready at a moment’s notice to spray-paint silk flowers and shape them into elaborate wreaths, to being America’s coolest grandma, who makes weed jokes and hangs out with Wiz Khalifa?

After she went to prison, of course, but not right after. The cultivation of New Martha, of Hip-Hop Martha, of Martha the Queen of Dank Memes, took time. And it has culminated in “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” her cooking-show-meets-stoner-buddy-comedy that enters its second season Monday on VH1.

“I’m a very strait-laced person,” Martha told The Washington Post. “I don’t smoke, I hardly drink. It’s kind of an odd combination right from the get-go.”

Respectfully: Is Martha all that strait-laced anymore?

It’s the perception that she is strait-laced that makes it funny just hearing her say the names of her guests, often hip-hop artists: “We had Lil Yachty. Do you know him?” This is, after all, the same woman who wrote an extensive blog post about bathing her donkeys: Billie, Rufus and Clive. It’s the same woman who, in a roast of Justin Bieber, delivered a withering monologue calling comedian Natasha Leggero “the dirtiest used-up ho I have ever seen,” and gave Bieber tips for when he “inevitably” goes to prison. If you ever slept on a set of Martha Stewart floral print sheets, you’d be surprised to hear her joke about them, which was: 1. unprintable, and 2. directed toward the rapper Ludacris.

Her show with Snoop is a very particular cultural exchange between two people of seemingly disparate backgrounds, which is a thing America could use more of these days, frankly. Martha tries on a grill, shotguns a beer and glugs out of a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor this season. Snoop, meanwhile, has learned about lobster thermidor and croquembouche.

“She’s taught me how to … have better food etiquette, how to be more professional in the kitchen,” Snoop said. “I showed her a few things, the ghetto way of doing things,” like his method for making bacon.

“I’ve learned a lot about music from Snoop and our guests,” Martha said. “He’s extremely knowledgeable, he’s also very amusing. He’s really laid back,” she said, quoting one of his songs. She genuinely likes rap: “Ever since I saw ‘8 Mile.’ It started with Eminem … I like that kind of poetry.” And Rick Ross: “We’re email pals.”


Snoop is becoming Martha, and Martha is becoming Snoop, and it’s been happening for years, before our very eyes. He first appeared on her show in 2008, putting cognac in his mashed potatoes, teaching her the phrase “fo shizzle.” A year later, they made brownies with green sprinkles and a wink and a nod, because those green sprinkles stood for an altogether different green substance. Then a Reddit Q&A in which Martha said Snoop was a person she would like to get to know better, and then the Bieber roast. After that, SallyAnn Salsano, who also produced “The Jersey Shore,” realized that they would be the perfect odd couple for a cooking show.

“These guys are genuinely friends, and that’s why I think it works so well on screen,” Salsano said. “Their relationship is real.”

Some of the show’s best comedy comes from how Snoop and Martha play off each other when she says something contrary to type or he eats something delicious. Snoop will look at her and say, “Martha,” amused and awed. There is recipe instruction, but it’s not really about that. The format is basically: Snoop and Martha each make dishes according to a (usually stoner-friendly) theme, like tacos or grilled cheese, and invite celebrity guests over to hang out. This season will feature Laverne Cox, RuPaul, T-Pain, Ty Dolla $ign and P. Diddy, among others.

Snoop is, unsurprisingly, high for every episode.

“He comes onto the set pretty high, and leaves pretty high,” said Martha, laughing, but he’s “not incompetent or incoherent at all. That’s the way he lives.”

“Sometimes I may smoke one blunt, sometimes I may smoke 100 blunts,” Snoop said. “It depends on what’s necessary for me to do what I’m doing.”

And then he has some cocktails, because many episodes kick off with Martha demonstrating a drink recipe.

“Every episode I was drunk. Every one,” Snoop said. “The lines become that much more easier, the flow becomes natural. It’s more relaxing. You’re not doing a job, you’re just having fun.”

Martha is having fun, too. She seems cannily aware of her role as the comedic straight man, the person who can send Jamie Foxx into peals of laughter by sucking on a helium balloon, as she does during season two’s “Birthday Party” episode, while misquoting Migos’s “Bad and Boujee”: “Rain drop. Drop top. Smoking on kush in hot box.”

Martha was once so earnest that her daughter, Alexis, hosted a show poking loving fun of her mother. Ana Gasteyer’s “Saturday Night Live” impressions of her were of a woman with a quiet rage within. People didn’t know Martha was funny – much less that she could go toe-to-toe with some of the filthiest comedians. It’s been in her all along, said Kim Miller-Olko, senior vice president of television and video for Sequential Brands Group, one of the show’s producers.

While “It’s not like she’s a truck driver,” the Bieber roast “was who she is when you’re in the car with her. That sense of humor is very much her,” she said.


Martha wouldn’t describe her sense of humor as dirty.

“My business partners wouldn’t like that description of me. I like humor, I like all kinds of humor, I don’t watch horror movies, though, and I don’t watch porn. I don’t watch any bad stuff.”

(If you’re surprised to hear prim, proper Martha Stewart even use the word “porn” in an interview, know this: Martha knows what sexting is, and she’s done it, she told Andy Cohen).

It’s all so funny that a cynical person might wonder if this is a calculated effort to expand her brand among millennials. After she published an essay about how much she loves drones, the Daily Dot wrote that Martha was “trolling the internet into oblivion.”

“The internet’s oblivion or my oblivion?” asked Martha, when I read that line to her. “I can’t imagine what that means.

“Trolling means you’re fishing, it means you’re dragging a line … so it doesn’t really make any sense, that statement, does it? Does it to you?”

I tried to explain that the internet has a different definition of trolling, and that in this context, the word meant being cheekily provocative. And I wondered: Was Martha trolling me?

“No, I’m doing a fun show,” she said. “We’re having interesting guests, we’re doing all sorts of great, I would say funny things. We’re trying to give people a little bit of information and a lot of enjoyment.”

For all their odd couple dynamic, Martha and Snoop aren’t so different. They’re both lifestyle gurus – Snoop has a cannabis company with artful packaging, a digital media company and a series of apps. They’re both rich people who live in fancy homes, attended to by staff. When they appeared on “$100,000 Pyramid,” Martha grilled Snoop on the intricacies of interior design: wainscoting, sconces, credenzas. He answered every question correctly.

At one point a meme went around, a picture of Snoop and Martha from the holiday brownie episode of her show, clad in a three-piece suit and a holiday sweater, respectively. The caption reads: “Be mindful of stereotypes! Only one of them is a convicted felon.”

Except it’s not true: Snoop, too, is a felon, having been convicted of drug possession and possession for sale in 1990.

But it’s the spirit behind that meme that is the force of the show: Anyone can find common ground over a good meal, even two people who seem so different.


Snoop is writing his own cookbook, one more thing he’ll have in common with Martha. It will feature recipes from the show.

“People were inquiring about those dishes, and how can we do it. I was like, you know, (expletive) it, I’m gonna do a cookbook.”

It’s going to be refined: “I didn’t put no baloney sandwiches in there. That might be in my second book. That might come with the hood recipes in there too,” he said. “I wanted … (people) to know that it was good and coming from a cooking perspective, and not just me just doing it to be doing it.”

And it won’t be about cooking with cannabis.

“I’m gonna be on cannabis while I’m cooking, but ain’t no need to put it in the food.”

Martha says she doesn’t consume cannabis, though she says she has gotten a contact high from being around Snoop. He has gifted her with marijuana seeds, and she hasn’t yet planted them, but is considering doing so at her Maine household (“I need to find out if I need a license.”).

Even though it would seem the ultimate culmination of both personal brands, Snoop and Martha have no plans to launch the most logical merchandising spinoff of their show: a line of gourmet cannabis edibles.

New Martha makes weed jokes. Old Martha wants to grow something else.

“I’d rather do a line of my own hydrangeas or my own tulip bulbs,” she said.

]]> 0, 20 Oct 2017 18:05:02 +0000
Army vet Travis Mills tackles new challenge: reviving another Maine resort Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:45:44 +0000 EAST WINTHROP — On a sunny day last year, Travis Mills had stopped his pontoon boat at the north end of Cobbosseecontee Lake to refill it with gas when he received an offer: How’d he like to buy the fuel pumps and everything that came with them, including docks, rental boats, a motel and overnight cabins?

Mills, a 30-year-old Army veteran who lost his arms and legs after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan, had to think about the offer from Andy Wess, who ran Lakeside Motel & Cabins with his wife, Sheree, for 30 years.

Mills now lives in Manchester and travels the country delivering motivational speeches. He also helps run a foundation that was started in his name and that last summer opened a retreat for wounded veterans in Rome.

After conferring with his family and his neighbor, Zach Stewart, Mills went for it. In January, he and Stewart became co-owners of the East Winthrop institution.

Travis Mills and Zach Stewart at Lakeside Motel & Cabins on Cobbossee Lake, off U.S. Route 202 in East Winthrop. Photo by Elise Klysa

Now, they’ve set goals for its expansion. They’re acquiring new watercraft for the rental fleet, including pontoon boats, canoes and stand-up paddleboards. They hope to add a playground for children and resources for ice fishing, and eventually open a waterfront restaurant.

They’ve also renovated the front office and begun stocking it with concessions such as beer, wine and custom-roasted coffee, as well as a bigger array of fishing tackle.

Just off U.S. Route 202, Lakeside Motel & Cabins is the host of several charity fishing competitions each year, including the Breast Cancer Awareness Bass Fishing Tournament that happened on Sunday and a May fundraiser for Special Olympics Maine.

Wess stopped by his former business Thursday morning. He said he offered to sell the business to Mills after coming to believe that the veteran would keep running it as a family operation. Wess was also encouraged that Mills would continue holding charitable events there.

At the same time, Wess said that Mills and Stewart, who is 36, could bring some new tricks to the old establishment.

“They’re certainly going to be making changes,” said Wess, who is involved with other civic groups and running for Town Council this fall. “My wife and I are retirement age. We’re happy to see two families take over a great business.”

]]> 0, 16 Oct 2017 06:11:07 +0000
Rescued kids ride Hogwarts Express Sun, 15 Oct 2017 22:54:32 +0000 LONDON — As if by magic, the Hogwarts Express has come to the rescue of a stranded family in Scotland.

The train that took Harry Potter to school was played onscreen by the Jacobite steam train, which runs on a remote and scenic route through the Scottish Highlands. On Friday, it made an unscheduled stop to pick up a family of six that was stranded when a storm washed away their canoe.

Jon Cluett, his wife and four children between the ages of 6 and 12 were staying in a lakeside hut on Loch Eilt when they awoke to find their canoe was gone. Faced with walking several miles over boggy ground to get back to the family car, Cluett called police to see if any form of rescue was available.

“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,’ ” Cluett said Sunday.

Cluett said his children, all Harry Potter fans, were “really excited” by the adventure.

“They know the Harry Potter films and they know that are filmed in the Highlands,” he said. “But they hadn’t put all of that together in their heads until they saw the train.”

Cluett, the pastor of a church in Stirling, central Scotland, is hopeful someone will find his canoe and give the story a perfect happy ending.

“It’s got to turn up at some point. The thing is 16-foot-long, red and floats,” he said.

]]> 0 Cluett kids run to the train that picked them up in the Scottish Highlands after the family canoe washed away. The train was known as Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter films.Sun, 15 Oct 2017 20:34:12 +0000
Judi Dench: Queen of British acting royalty still going strong Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Judi Dench’s memorable film roles range from 007’s steely boss M in multiple James Bond epics, an Oscar-winning eight-minute supporting turn as Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love” and a determined woman searching for the grown son she lost in infancy through a church-forced adoption in “Philomena.” Whether she’s performing with a twinkle in her eye, an involuntary break in conversation or a slight sob, she always conveys a combination of excitement and believability. At the 82, she’s the biggest female star in Britain.

Dame Dench – she was honored as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1988 for her contribution to culture – seems fully at home in royal roles, middle-class roles or humble roles, but she can’t explain her chameleon-like ability to perform those colorful changes.

“I don’t know,” she laughed in a recent phone interview. “When it’s Cleopatra, you look at the story in front of you and try to make it as human as possible.” Royal parts aren’t something that British actresses specifically seek out. “I think it’s just a part that comes along, and if you’re lucky enough to be asked to do it, you try and do your best with it.”

Now, after winning a best actress Oscar nomination as the widowed, romantically inclined Queen Victoria in 1997’s factual “Mrs. Brown,” she returns to the role in another “mostly true” story. In “Victoria & Abdul,” she plays the queen in old age. An isolated and unhappy monarch, she finds renewed interest in life through Adbul Karim, a handsome, 24-year-old clerk from India (played by Bollywood star Ali Fazal) who through happenstance became her servant and best friend.

Playing Britain’s longest-reigning monarch at two very different phases of her life was relatively easy, she said.

“You’ve done the homework, because I did it 20 years ago. But this is a period of her life that I didn’t know about, and. therefore, it is in a way a continuance of her life, after her life with John Brown,” the subject of the first movie, a Scottish attendant with whom the queen had a scandalously warm personal relationship. “I haven’t seen it in connection with ‘Mrs. Brown,’ but I hope it adds up to the same person and a new aspect on her.”

The film gives an unconventional dry humor to Victoria, who is widely believed to have uttered the famous phrase “We are not amused” when a guest at Windsor Castle told a risqué story. That made revisiting the role especially appealing because “only by humor can you possibly really tell someone a serious story. Humor is essential to everyday living. Humor makes her somehow more accessible. I’m sure it was there. ‘We are not amused?’ I don’t think it was quite so.”

The queen’s generation-spanning connection to her exotic servant comes “because of curiosity. She has a great fire in her, and she obviously feels very strongly about things and speaks her mind.”

The film focuses on the affection shared by the title characters, but it also is a critical commentary on Britain’s colonial past and, implicitly, its current immigration issues.

Telling an important topic from a tender, personal side “is very timely,” she said. “What’s extraordinary is that the nationality and the difference is secondary in the story. This might have happened whatever nationality he might have been. It just happened, and the moment is so pertinent. She is so curious and wants to inquire, wants to have somebody who will teach her. To have someone she can relax with and learn” about a far-off culture.

“Surely that’s the most important thing we can possibly learn.”

While British audiences are fascinated with aristocracy, Dench doesn’t feel that it comes out of a longing for the old days of empire.

“I don’t think anyone is nostalgic for that. They are fascinated by the royal family just to see what dedication they have to the job,” she said. “I think it’s only admirable what they do, and I can understand that people are captivated. I always think of it when I go into town and go around Buckingham Palace. Any time, there’s always crowds of people there to look. It’s extraordinary.”

Though Dench is practically royalty in the film industry, she doesn’t tell directors to hold their tongues and go away.

“I’m the most unsure person of everybody,” she said. “In the theater, when you’ve rehearsed six weeks for something, then the director leaves. That’s my most miserable moment. The director walks away and the child is left to walk on its own. No, no, no. I need constant help and I’m always asking questions.

“I remember John Logan, who wrote ‘Skyfall,’ also wrote a play I did called ‘Peter and Alice.’ He was in on a rehearsal one day, and I, with every line practically, stopped and asked the director questions. ‘Tell me about this and tell me about that and what does this mean?’ So John suddenly turned and said, ‘Now you know why I killed you off in ‘Skyfall.'”

]]> 0 Dench in "Victoria and Abdul."Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:52:51 +0000
Debut short story collection links sad, funny, annoying, flawed characters Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 In “Outside is the Ocean,” through 15 interlinked short stories set between 1967 and 2019, Matthew Lansburgh charts one family’s efforts to survive the misunderstanding and heartbreak they inflict upon each other in their quests for love and connection.

The stories are presented in non-chronological order and feature a wide variety of protagonists and viewpoint characters. At the center of the narrative sits Heike, a German immigrant who, having endured a wretched post-World War II childhood, comes to America craving monetary and emotional security.

Readers first meet Heike in “Queen of Sheba,” set in 1993, when she’s in her early 50s. Staying at the Circus Circus casino with her 70ish third husband, Al, his daughter, Laurie, and granddaughter, Crystal, Heike learns to play blackjack while flirting with Jerome, “a wonderfully dressed gentleman with blazer and tie.” Although “for two years (she) had been a good girl,” the thought of a new romance appeals to Heike, especially in light of Al’s recent and regretted affair with a checker at Vons supermarket. A drive into the desert with Jerome, however, fails to meet her expectations.

Heike proves to be both charming and abrasive, obsessed with helping others as long as she isn’t inconvenienced herself. She sees nothing wrong in swimming uninvited and topless in her neighbor’s pool, sending her adopted child to live with a family of Russian immigrants or breaking into an acquaintance’s home in order to walk her dog. Her behavior is frequently baffling and infuriating, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for her when reality punches a hole in her daydreams.

“She had no sense of boundaries or decorum,” her son says of her. “She liked to be in charge, to exercise control. Over pets, renters, people she came across at Vons or Taco Bell, over Gerry, over her 24-year-old son, an adult last time he checked.”

The stories gradually introduce a cast of richly rendered characters: Stewart, Heike’s scholarly gay son, who exists in a perpetual state of embarrassment regarding his mother’s smothering manner, odd obsessions and self-deceptions; Raymond, Heike’s cold, cruel first husband and Stewart’s father; Gerry, Heike’s second spouse, who provided some of the stability she always craved; and Galina, a Russian orphan with a deformed arm, adopted by Heike against everyone else’s better judgment.

Although some story collections encourage readers to skip around willy-nilly, the selections in “Outside Is the Ocean” ought to be read in order for maximum impact. Lansburgh, winner of the 2017 Iowa Short Fiction Award, excels at offhandedly dropping narrative questions and answering them many pages later. For example, in “Enormous in the Moonlight,” Heike states that Stewart has committed suicide, which is odd, since he makes appearances in stories set years later. The mystery is eventually solved, but it pays to remember that narrators – and especially Heike – are not always reliable.

Matthew Lansburgh

The title story focuses on Stewart in 1994, as he lets himself be picked up by Nigerian banker Tazik Eze, who takes him to his opulent Boston apartment and ties him face-down to the bedpost with tape over his mouth. Oddly, the situation reminds Stewart of the time when he was in grade school and his father tried to teach him how to handle a gun properly. Raymond told him to “look at the target in the distance, to stand up straight and throw back his shoulders and stop sniffling and, once and for all, to be a man.”

The story resolves in the morning with Stewart, alone and unbound, exacting a tiny revenge on Tazik. The story can stand on its own, but it has an extra kick, thanks to previous references to Raymond’s style of parenting and Stewart’s long struggle with the meaning of masculinity.

Set a few years from now, “Amalia” and “Buddy” provide closure on Heike’s chaotic life. An ill-fated surprise Thanksgiving trip precipitates a major life change, one that allows Galina and her mother the chance to put forward their better selves. The pathos of missed opportunities pervades the final selections.

Lansburgh, whose fiction has appeared in Columbia, Glimmer Train and StoryQuarterly, possesses a keen eye for the telling detail, whether he’s describing Heike’s latest harebrained scheme or chronicling Stewart’s romantic misadventures. The humor and the sadness contained in each story seem unforced, balanced so that neither overwhelms “Outside Is the Ocean.” There is a certain repetitiveness in the structure of some of the stories, which often open with some outrage perpetrated by or against the protagonist and end with a moment of hard-won empathy, but each is built on a solid foundation.

Heike is a genuine original, but it’s likely the reader knows someone like her. With his debut collection, Lansburgh makes his readers cringe at her behavior and sympathize with her plight. Only the hardest-hearted will be unmoved by this graceful and empathetic chronicle of fractured family life.

Berkeley writer Michael Berry is a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, native who has contributed to Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, New Hampshire Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books and many other publications. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: mlberry

]]> 0, 13 Oct 2017 18:16:08 +0000
In haunting new memoir, a daughter casts light on her mother’s Maine murder Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When 30-year-old Crystal Perry was stabbed to death in her Bridgton, Maine, home during the night of May 11-12, 1994, the event sent shockwaves back into the past and forward into the future. For Perry’s extended family and her 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, life changed irrevocably in those horrifying moments, with secrets exposed and destinies altered. It would be a dozen years before police identified, and a jury convicted, the murderer, but even then, disturbing questions lingered.

How do you make sense of a hard-working, devoted young mother being brutally killed while her daughter cowers in a nearby room? That’s the question Sarah Perry attempts to answer in her harrowing, haunting new memoir, “After the Eclipse.”

Two days before the killing, the sun was briefly hidden by the moon during the daytime. Even though eclipses have traditionally been viewed as ill omens and harbingers of catastrophe, “precocious and nerdy” Sarah took a much more positive view of the phenomenon.

Perry writes, “I saw only beauty in that fire-ringed darkness. I didn’t know that one small moment of darkness foreshadowed a much greater one. One that would block out the light entirely, and hover there for a very long time.”

The eclipse also serves as a metaphor for Sarah’s obscured understanding of the terrible night in question. In a difficult to read but riveting chapter titled “The Night,” Perry chronicles her experience of being awakened by her mother’s screams of “No, no, no!” and hearing the sounds of a life-or-death struggle perhaps as close as 15 feet away. She does not see the intruder but waits in her bedroom, terrified, for him to leave, before unsuccessfully calling 911. Unable to reach authorities, she escapes the house in bare feet and bangs on neighbors’ doors until she finds someone who will let her in.

Rather than recount her mother’s murder and its aftermath chronologically, Perry employs a more ambitious structure in the first half of her memoir. Chapters designated “Before” alternate with ones from “After,” establishing a counterpoint that increases the suspense of the narrative and illuminates more starkly the connections between the Sarah’s family and the town of Bridgton. Her accounts of being shuttled among the homes of relatives who want to do right by her but don’t have the emotional wherewithal to deal suddenly with a motherless teen are all the more poignant with the knowledge of the poverty and abuse that affected previous generations. As the case goes unsolved, Perry lets the reader feel her frustration in dealing with law enforcement across the years, including the realization that some local residents think she might be implicated in the crime.

More than anything else, the structure of “After the Eclipse” allows the reader to see a fuller picture of Crystal Perry, to view her as more than just a pretty, red-headed victim, to know more about her upbringing and ambitions, to understand better some of the choices she had made regarding the men in her life – from Sarah’s biological father to her fiancé with whom she had been squabbling around the date of her death.

Sarah Perry Photo by R.K. Oliver

Through the turmoil, Sarah Perry is always able to hold onto the certainty of her mother’s love for her, exemplified by the hours she put in as a sewer in the local shoe factory. Perry writes, “I always understood that my mother worked very hard. But it is only now that I can appreciate her determination, that to work as quickly and consistently as she did meant re-dedicating herself each day, each hour, each minute, to pushing through boredom and physical pain and sometimes despair. She didn’t do this for herself; she did it for me.”

Perry holds an MFA in non-fiction from Columbia University. In her author’s note, Perry emphasizes that, while “After the Eclipse” is a memoir, “it is a work not only of memory but of journalism, and involved a substantial research component.” She states that, while she has granted pseudonyms to some individuals, there are no composite characters. That adherence to verifiable fact distinguishes “After the Eclipse” from many memoirs about trauma. The reader never senses that Perry is taking liberties with the truth or seeking to present her mother’s or her own behavior in a falsely positive light.

While she appears to have no hesitancy in naming her mother’s assailant, Michael Hutchinson, she chooses not to contact him, his family or his friends and associates. Perry writes, “This book isn’t about him. It’s about Mom.”

In an age when true-crime television and ripped-from-the-headlines dramas have inured some people to the actual cost of losing a loved one to violence, “After the Eclipse” is a sensitive, searing and nuanced exploration of family ties torn asunder.

Berkeley writer Michael Berry is a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, native who has contributed to Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, New Hampshire Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books and many other publications. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: mlberry

]]> 0, 13 Oct 2017 18:23:51 +0000
Wesley McNair reads from his new book of poems Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Former Maine poet laureate Wesley McNair reads from his new collection of poems, “The Unfastening,” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Portland Public Library.

Wesley McNair Staff photo by Jonathan Adams

In his new book, McNair, of Mercer, writes about his journey from despair to acceptance, discussing his encounter with darkness and how the vision of his book guided him toward the light.

Admission is free.

]]> 0, 13 Oct 2017 17:55:57 +0000
Art review: How 3 artists tackle the problem that is 50 shades of brown Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Brown is a problem in painting. It wasn’t always a problem. Back in the day, when the leading pigments were dirt that was either burnt, or not, browns led the way: Sienna, burnt sienna, umber, burnt umber, etc. And, yes, “Sienna” was dirt from Siena, Italy, that was largely iron oxide and manganese oxide. “Burnt Sienna” is that same dirt after heating. These have been among the leading pigments since humans began painting.

But since the Barbizon painters first took tubes of paint out into the landscape to paint from nature, brown has become a problematic thing for painters. In school, American kids are taught that red and blue, when combined, make purple. That might be true in the ideal world of color and light, but in the world of pigments and minerals, when you add red paint to blue paint, you inevitably get some horrible shade of dung – brown in the worst way.

And not just red and blue: Without white, half of all combinations of pigments, or so it seems, drift into unsalvageable browns. In a recent column, I wrote about Vincent van Gogh’s seemingly Faustian ability to pull brushes loaded with wet oil paint through wet oil painting and almost never create brown. The work now on display at Greenhut Galleries relates to the question of brown in painting, but with both sides of the conversation fully covered.

On one side, we see J. Thomas R. Higgins, whose oil landscapes seem practically incapable of finding brown, let alone using it. On the other side are works by one of Maine’s great landscape artists, the late Neil Welliver, and then a small show of highly energized paintings by Portland artist George Lloyd. Represented by woodcuts, oils and watercolors, Welliver’s organic palette is almost defined by his balanced propensity for white and brown. Lloyd is something completely different: His work is so soaked in architectural intelligence and old-master awareness that his browns seem to play a foundational role, the stage itself, the wooden floor.

“Encroaching,” by J. Thomas R. Higgins. Photo courtesy of J. Thomas R. Higgins

Higgins is that traditional plein air painter in all the best senses: energy, urgency, the quick-flickered brush, economy, legibility and a scurried bit of bravado. “Encroaching,” for example, is a 30-by-32-inch oil on linen in which we see a humble country abode – barely – at the end of a field, behind high grass and flowers, through thick trees and under a summer blue sky. The sun is directly on our backs, and it heats up the ochre and yellow highlights of the field. The palette reflects more bright sun than atmosphere, but it holds together nicely. The trick, or so it seems, is that Higgins’ only green paint is viridian, an intense but ultimately transparent bluish-green, deep-ocean color that can drift comfortably toward blue or green or yellow. This is not to say Higgins doesn’t show us 20 various greens in “Encroaching” – he certainly does – but they all appear to built on a viridian base (although I have to imagine some are made from yellow and blue). It’s an approach tacitly built on avoiding mud.

“Trout in Reflected Tree,” by Neil Welliver. Photo courtesy of Shelia Geoffrion and LBP Fine Art Consultants

Welliver is probably best known for his large, sparely painted landscapes of birch forests in Maine. His painting style employs thick sections of flat color, not unlike paint-by-number logic. A small but excellent canvas is his “Study for Barren with Snow,” the point of a granite boulder-littered, winter-brown blueberry hill spotted with patches of snow under a cold blue spring sky. It’s a painterly approach that dovetails with printmaking processes, and Welliver was a leading print artist, as well. He is represented here by very strong woodcuts such as “New Dams in the Meadow,” a scene in which autumnal colors (and birches) are reflected in a beaver dam-fattened meadow stream. Among Welliver’s best-known images were views of trout in shallow streams with quavering water distortions. This exhibition features several such images, including the true gem of the show, “Trout in Reflected Tree,” an 18-by-21.5-inch watercolor.

Lloyd’s eight works effortlessly combine drawing and painting. Their first impression is of a body of work in the vein of Hans Hoffmann, the great champion of American push-pull abstraction. Rectangles float to the fore and recede. But within Lloyd’s often dense surfaces of strokes – no less frantic than they are facile – are scalpel-sharp lines cut through the paint with zooming speed and unerring precision. In “La Stanza da Letto” (Italian for “bedroom”), the painting unfolds as a series of vertical, rectangular forms moving across an architectural space (set by an interior white rather than natural light) with a pair of organic, pillowy forms at the base. The forms are vague but decisive, the cut stripes are deft and the flickered brush strokes move at the speed of light. Churning open the scene from the bottom left are curling pencils strokes that define the pillowy forms – masterly in their precision. Lloyd’s skill anchors the scene from the start.

“Married Couple,” by George Lloyd. Photo courtesy of George Lloyd

“La Stanza da Letto,” the only work in oil, evinces a lighter touch than the other works on display. The drawing “The Married Couple” is the only other piece in the show that reprises Lloyd’s curling virtuosity. The others fall mostly within a sense of dense rectangular fields – walls, doors, passages, city lots, solid architectural forms, etc – that, surprisingly, don’t try to lay themselves flat (like a map, say, compared to a portrait). This vertical sense of confronting the viewer relates Lloyd’s work to modernist painting over drawing even when the works feature drawn lines. Lloyd’s sense of structure and composition are architectural – places for bodies, including the body of the viewer. In particular, his strongest works exude a sense of “massing”– a purely architectural concept that refers to the form and scale of a building.

“Crepuscular Construct” is a subdued painting in browns that uses a Mondrian-esque thick brown edge-to-edge stripe to frame a form that fluctuates between a Hoffmann-esque push-pull rectangle and a Mark Rothko open portal. Eventually, the piece comes into view as an exterior door into a (brick?) building with a few steps before it. The brown strip might be a telephone pole. But in the end, the painterly qualities retake the field. The representational logic is interesting, but it refuses to dominate. We are left with the painterly mechanisms, which were Lloyd’s truest fascination.

Despite his history with (and love of) architecture, Lloyd’s work primarily wells up from his long experience painting in the Bay Area and his Boston upbringing. We can sense the puritanical rigor of his New England roots (think Will Barnet), but the works exude the frontal painterly exuberance of Nathan Oliveira or Richard Diebenkorn, Lloyd’s peers from his time on the West Coast. In fact, this body of work largely goes back to the late 1980s when Lloyd had just returned to Maine – his head swimming in Bay Area ideas – and when he was just switching to acrylic. And it is in the transitions, the crossroads, where we can follow an artist while he thinks through his approach, and sometimes even changes his mind.

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

]]> 0"Encroaching," by J. Thomas R. Higgins.Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:28:46 +0000
He’s got cheating ways, sure, but is he actually a psychopath? Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 It’s not a spoiler to say that “A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal” is about its author Jen Waite’s marriage to a man she independently diagnosed as a psychopath. She’s been featured on Vice talking about the book, and the back cover’s blurb includes the tantalizing question, “What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed?”

It’s a terrifying notion, and Waite manages to convey that eventually in the memoir, describing all the stress and fear that go along with realizing the person you love has betrayed you.

In readable, utilitarian prose, the bulk of the memoir is used to intrigue the reader into following what is ultimately a pretty simple, and unfortunately not uncommon, story. Woman meets man, woman falls for man, man and woman live happily ever after – until they don’t, at which point woman moves back home to Maine, where her parents help her out. In sections titled “Before,” we see Waite as an actress/waitress falling in love and beginning to build a life with a man she calls Marco. In sections called “After,” we see the process in which she begins to discover his nefarious behaviors – namely, that he’s having an affair with a 22-year-old “Croatian,” as Waite refers to the blonde he’s sleeping with.

Being cheated on sucks, as everyone who’s experienced it would likely acknowledge. Discovering, as Waite did, that her husband was having an affair after she herself had just given birth to their child must have been devastating. Yet the memoir doesn’t quite pull off showing how awful she felt; there is a lot of telling and little showing. For large portions of “A Beautiful, Terrible Thing,” I didn’t believe that her husband actually was cheating, since Waite’s behavior (checking Uber receipts, phone records and emails) seemed paranoid, even uncalled for. Perhaps this is where the strength of the memoir lies – in Waite’s ability to make her husband charm the reader so thoroughly that we don’t believe her instincts. It’s unfortunate that we aren’t charmed by Waite in quite the same way; she seems to hold the reader at a remove, unwilling to share much of her inner life, so that she remains somewhat bland, though a generous reader might describe her as an enigma.

Jen Waite Photo by Evynne Morin

Still, despite the note from the author at the start of the book claiming that Waite is not a mental health professional, and “this is not a clinical diagnosis of psychopathy,” the book treats Marco as if he were, indeed, clinically diagnosed. After leaving Marco, Waite begins to surf various online forums where she discovers character traits that Marco possessed, as well as that “many, if not all, psychopaths are sex addicts and sexual deviants.” Calling a large group of people “sexual deviants” is enough to rub this reader the very wrong way, but even more disturbing to me was when Waite finally goes to see a therapist, who tells her during their very first session that, yes, indeed, her husband seems to have sociopathic tendencies.

Mental health is a tricky thing, and even books like “Confessions of a Sociopath” by M. E. Thomas haven’t much clarified the field of antisocial personality disorders. Waite, I think, means to be inspirational, but unlike many people, she has a caring family and a great support system to help her when things go wrong. She’s not a strong writer, and she has few insights on the page. It’s hard for a book whose biggest hook is a cheating husband and an amateur diagnosis to sustain a reader’s interest or sympathy.

Yes, it must have been absolutely awful to have discovered that Marco was cheating. Yes, it must have been really, truly terrifying to be gaslighted by his continued insistence that he wasn’t sleeping with anyone else and that, in fact, he was certain there was something wrong with him physically that was making him cold all of a sudden. But it’s also scary, as a reader, to see the way a mental disorder as complex and still misunderstood as antisocial personality disorder used to both explain bad behavior and to sell a book.

It’s not that I don’t believe Waite’s experience – I do, and I think readers will as well, and some will likely jump at the chance to label their exes as psychopaths like Marco. Yet I don’t think it’s useful to use a word like “psychopath” to describe what Waite’s mother tells her at one point: “You have to start thinking of him as a deeply, deeply flawed person who tried his best and failed.” Maybe that’s not true. Maybe he didn’t try his best. Maybe he really is a psychopath. But by labeling him as a kind of “other,” don’t we run the risk of losing our empathy, the very thing psychopaths lack?

Ilana Masad is a book critic and fiction writer starting her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, StoryQuarterly, Broadly, the Washington Post, the LA Times and more.

]]> 0 WaiteSun, 15 Oct 2017 20:40:25 +0000
In an about-face, the lens is on Steven Spielberg Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Steven Spielberg stood outside the main theater on the Paramount Studios lot last month, waiting for the premiere of a documentary that had already put him through an emotional wringer.

“It was like pulling a bandage off very, very slowly,” said the Oscar-winning entertainment mogul in recalling the first time he had viewed the film about a year ago. “I had to watch it in stages, in dollops. But when the bandage finally came all the way off, I realized it didn’t hurt so bad.”

What had initially unnerved Spielberg was the subject of the documentary: Steven Spielberg.

The film, simply titled “Spielberg,” which debuted Oct. 7 and is now airing on HBO, is the most extensive and insightful examination to date of the filmmaker, who is at once the most popular and successful in movie history, and one of the most private and elusive creators in Hollywood..

Said the 70-year-old Spielberg, “I knew in watching the film, I would have to face myself. I had a couple of nice cries. But I was very pleased. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it with Susan.”

“Susan” is Susan Lacy, the creator of the groundbreaking “American Masters” series on PBS, which centered on revelatory profiles of several prominent artists and musicians, including Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and the late Mike Nichols. Lacy left PBS four years ago after signing a multiyear deal with HBO to produce and direct documentaries. “Spielberg” is her first project for the pay-cable network.

The 2½-hour film utilizes generous clips from blockbusters (“Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T the Extra-Terrestrial”), more serious endeavors (the Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan”), films that stoked controversy (“The Color Purple”) and even misfires (“1941”).

The filmography traces the evolution of the artist who first fell in love with movies as a young boy and later blossomed into a master craftsman and storyteller whose phenomenal financial and commercial success changed the face of the film industry.

“Most people don’t think of Steven as a personal filmmaker,” Lacy said in an interview a few hours before the premiere at Paramount, where she would be joined by Spielberg and some of the A-listers who have appeared in his films, including Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel and Holly Hunter.

Lacy continued: “They think of him as a commercial filmmaker. They don’t think of him the same way that they do a Marty Scorsese. I thought he was not as valued a director because he’s so successful that it’s kind of hard to look at him as an artist and as a personal filmmaker. So that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted to tell that story and tell it through his films.”

The film also illustrates how Spielberg’s personal turmoils and triumphs have emerged as themes in his work. His unconventional upbringing – which included being bullied as a child and the divorce of his parents leading to bitter estrangement from his father – and his longstanding denial of his Jewish heritage followed by an overwhelming embrace; his divorce from his first wife, actress Amy Irving; and his bliss with second wife, actress Kate Capshaw, and their large multicultural family are all factors that come into play in “Spielberg” the film and Spielberg the filmmaker. Also prominent are home movies of Spielberg at work and at play, many of which have never been seen.

Weighing in with testimonials and anecdotes are members of Hollywood’s elite – directors Scorsese, George Lucas, Brian De Palma and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as Hanks, Hunter, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson, Dustin Hoffman, Oprah Winfrey and Christian Bale, who made his film debut as a 13-year-old in Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun.”

Lacy characterized “Spielberg” as “the most challenging film I’ve done. Steven is a living legend, and he is still with us. And to do a film about the most famous and successful director in the world is itself a challenge. I chose not to think about that too much. If I had, I don’t think I would have been able to make the film.”

The two convened for “at least 15 interviews, minimum two hours each.” Lacy also conducted close to 90 additional interviews.

Despite his massive success, Spielberg has long maintained a low public profile – he rarely grants interviews and has never recorded a DVD commentary for any of his films. Still, convincing him to participate in the project proved to be relatively easy for Lacy – the two had established a good rapport when she had interviewed him for a few previous “American Masters” installments, including a profile on artist Norman Rockwell. (“He has one on the biggest private collections of Norman Rockwell in the world.”)

“I think we took a couple of times to really warm up,” Lacy said. “But from the beginning, we trusted each other – I trusted that he was going to be open with me, and he trusted that I would make a good film.”

She said there were “absolutely no ground rules” for the project, though there were delicate areas.

His divorce from Irving remains “a sensitive and tender topic” for Spielberg, although he does address it in the film.

“They’re still friends, and they share a son. It wasn’t a bitter situation – it just didn’t work out. I said it had to be in the film, that we couldn’t ignore it,” Lacy said. Also, Capshaw, who starred in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” declined to be interviewed, although she did provide Lacy with some home movies of the family.

Still, tackling the depth and expanse of Spielberg in 2½ hours was a daunting task – at one time, Lacy considered extending “Spielberg” to two nights. And even though Spielberg is a Hollywood hyphenate – studio owner, film producer and executive producer of numerous television series – Lacy chose to focus mostly on his achievements as the director of more than 30 films.

The tone of the documentary is primarily positive – it is clear that Lacy is a huge admirer of Spielberg’s work. Much of the project is weighted toward his career highlights – about 25 minutes is devoted to “Schindler’s List.” His less successful films, such as “1941,” “War Horse,” “The BFG,” “The Terminal,” “Hook” and “Always” are barely discussed or absent from the film.

Still, Lacy pointed out that she did include less than positive views on Spielberg in the documentary. Some film critics take shots at what they said was the downplaying of the gritty realism of novelist Alice Walker in his adaptation of “The Color Purple,” and “Empire of the Sun” screenwriter Tom Stoppard takes exception to the sentimentality of that film.

Lacy acknowledged that some viewers and observers of Spielberg may find fault with the tone of the documentary.

“I am proud of the film,” Lacy said. “Now I’m just nervous on how people will react. I know there will be those who will feel I wasn’t critical enough. But, hopefully, people will get past that.”

What matters most to her is Spielberg’s stamp of approval.

When he called and said he loved it, “I felt myself shaking. I was in tears and said, ‘You have to know what this conversation means to me.'”

And Spielberg said the documentary gave him a fresh perspective on his work and life: “It’s not that it taught me about the past, but it gives me renewed encouragement about moving forward and continuing my life as a director, and as a father and husband.”

]]> 0 Spielberg attends the world premiere of "Spielberg" at the 55th New York Film Festival on Oct. 5.Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:54:13 +0000
Society Notebook: Chefs put on a show for March of Dimes Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 It takes more than spare change to fund the programs of today’s March of Dimes.

At its latest Maine fundraiser, the annual Chefs Showcase and Auction Sept. 28 at DiMillo’s on the Water, about 250 guests sampled little culinary works of art by more than a dozen Portland area chefs from restaurants including Baharat, Honey Paw and Union. Besides being delicious fun, the event raised $55,000 to help prevent premature births and support emotionally strained parents of little ones in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs.

“The March of Dimes is a great agency that has been around for a very long time and has effectively addressed a lot of different conditions, from polio to birth defects to prematurity,” said board treasurer Dan Gayer, whose wife, Sarah, was a March of Dimes baby.

About 950 to 1,000 premature babies are admitted to the NICU at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center each year.

“They put us in contact with people who would have been through the same situation,” said Sarah Brokofsky of Portland, whose 17-month-old daughter, Maggie, was premature – and survived.

Not all outcomes are as positive.

“We lost our son after 10 days in the NICU,” said Chrisanna Greeley of South Portland. “His name was Drew.”

Despite the busy life Greeley now leads as the mother of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, she volunteers with March of Dimes to set time aside to honor baby Drew, who was buried with a March of Dimes kangaroo stuffed animal.

“I felt like I needed to channel my energy somewhere,” said Greeley, who co-chaired the auction.

After a stay in the NICU, parents tend to remember exactly how many days their baby was there.

“It goes by slow and fast all at the same time,” said Brooke Adams, whose 3-year-old daughter, Evelyn, was born at 27 weeks and spent 13 days in the NICU.

“Some are in the NICU up to a year before they’re ready to go home,” said neonatologist Amy McBee. “So, it’s good to remember and pay homage to what a journey it is for these babies and these families. It’s a disruptive, unsettling, life-changing experience.”

For families and caregivers, the annual Chefs Showcase is a bit like a reunion.

“I think events like this are important to reconnect families and their care teams,” said Misty Melendi, medical director at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital NICU at Maine Medical Center.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

]]> 0 family Bill Levay and Taylor Witham of Freeport had a toddler, Peter Witham Levay, who was a March of Dimes baby.Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:22:23 +0000
A part-time Portland actor comes face to face with some stars in ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Matthew Delamater’s main job is crunching numbers in the finance department for Maine-based Oxbow Brewing Co. His side job has had him serving dinner to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and selling guns to Mel Gibson.

Delamater, 36, of Portland, never acted until he was 25 and got a part in a community theater production of “The Music Man” in Norway. Since then, he’s worked steadily in TV, commercials, films and theater. Last year, he appeared as a chef serving a gourmet dinner to Ortiz in a Comcast cable commercial, and starting Nov. 10, he’ll be seen trying to help prospective gun buyers Gibson, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and John Lithgow in the comedy “Daddy’s Home 2.”

Matthew Delamater of Portland plays a store clerk who has a run-in with Will Ferrell in “Daddy’s Home 2.” Emily Delamater photo

Delamater filmed his part last spring at a store in Massachusetts. He plays a clerk who has to help the film’s stars as they try to buy a gun, against the wishes of some in the group. Ferrell plays the stepfather of Wahlberg’s kids, and he and Wahlberg compete with each other for the children’s attention. Gibson and Lithgow plays the fathers of Wahlberg and Ferrell, respectively.

“I basically got a front-row seat for a lesson in improv,” said Delamater. “Those guys have such presence. I was probably most excited to see Will Ferrell. You look Mel Gibson in the eye and you know why he’s a star. Mark Wahlberg could read the phone book and people would pay attention.”

Since taking up acting a decade ago, Delamater has been in a couple dozen plays and about a dozen TV shows, films and commercials. Delamater’s other film credits include “Tumbledown,” a 2015 romantic comedy set in Maine but filmed in Massachusetts that got national distribution in theaters. In 2015 he also had a small role in the NBC drama series “American Odyssey,” which lasted one season.

Delamater says he’s been able to land some of the roles because Portland is only two hours from Boston, where a lot of auditions are held for projects in New England. He even auditioned for the NBC show in Massachusetts because the pilot was shot there.

Delamater says he feels lucky to have his life and family here in Portland – he’s married to photographer Emily Delamater, and they have a 1-year-old daughter – and at the same time be able to travel to Boston to land fun roles in TV and film. He said being in “Daddy’s Home 2” was a great chance for him to see veteran movie stars working at their craft.

“They were on set working their tails off, studying lines,” said Delamater. “It was awesome to see actors on the end of the spectrum putting the work in and really caring.”

]]> 0 Delamater of Portland plays a store clerk who has a run-in with Will Ferrell in "Daddy's Home 2" Emily Delamater photoFri, 13 Oct 2017 18:42:37 +0000
Deep Water: ‘Benediction (III)’ by Kristen Case Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This week’s poem offers us a spare blessing. When a poem is this spare, this quiet, as with a person who speaks quietly but forcefully, we lean in to listen.

What I love about this poem is how it blurs the exterior and interior. Where did the “word” referred to come from? And what word is it? Perhaps the word itself is not as important as its effect, how it “lights up all the dark little rooms of the body.” Each of us in different moments might have a word that enters our bodies and changes the light.

Kristen Case lives in Temple and teaches at the University of Maine at Farmington. Her most recent book of poems is Little Arias (New Issues, 2015).

Benediction (III)

By Kristen Case

As when a word, typed or spoken,

lights up all the dark little rooms of the body.

As when a word rends interior space.

There is no interior space.

Now the roofs of houses.

Now the narrow limbs of the maple.

When the word blossoms on the small screen in your hand

it enters your lungs through a circuitry you can’t fathom.

Beauty is a wound.

All the birds say it.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Kristen Case. It appears here by permission of the author. This column is accepting submissions through Oct. 31. Poems must be written by Maine poets or about Maine. Submissions must be made online. For more information, go to

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Dine Out Maine: It’s a bar, sure, but Liquid Riot serves really good food, too Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 For some chefs, maybe even most chefs, a call from Cooking Channel announcing an upcoming visit would be the sort of good news that would send them cartwheeling into whooping, fist-pumping celebrations.

Just picture it: a single half-hour of television that has the power to introduce hundreds of thousands of viewers to your restaurant, your food and, perhaps most importantly, to you.

Joshua Doria, formerly of Central Provisions and now executive chef at Portland’s Liquid Riot Bottling Company, had a different response to the network sending a team to showcase two of his dishes on “Late Night Eats.”

“Eh,” he said.

“It was a little stressful. Basically 12 hours of them filming, and honestly, I’m not that kind of chef. I’m in the kitchen for a reason: I like to hide out.”

Liquid Riot, which bills itself as a brewery/distillery/resto-bar offers him plenty of opportunities to do just that, starting early in the morning, when prep begins for a marathon of continuous service that runs from noon until as late as 1 a.m. No matter what time of day or night you visit, the menu is the same.

That approach fits well with Doria’s understated attitude. “We don’t do a traditional lunch or dinner seating. I wouldn’t want to,” he explained. “It’s a bar, and the bar comes first.”

In truth, Liquid Riot is much more than a bar. Its in-house distillery bottles a minty, 41-percent ABV Italian-style amaro called Fernet Michaud that is the star ingredient in the subtly sweet, wonderfully puckery Endless Summer cocktail ($10). And don’t forget the on-site brewery that produces upwards of a dozen beers, all available on tap – from an almost delicately effervescent lime-peel flavored session IPA called Herbie ($7 for 16 oz.), to a rough and ready dry lambic-style Raspy Trouble ($7.50 for 16 oz.) that tastes like sipping dark ale from a cold raspberry jam jar.

Doria’s roasted mushroom toast features North Spore mushrooms drizzled with a sauce flavored with Liquid Riot’s Beer Schnapps, topped with arugula and pickled onions and layered on a slab of Standard Baking sourdough.

Doria also doesn’t miss his chance to echo Liquid Riot’s primary identity in his cooking. His roasted mushroom toast ($12) features North Spore Mushroom’s “kitchen grade assortment,” a blend of oyster, shiitake and sometimes hen of the woods mushrooms, seared to order, then drizzled with a pan sauce made by deglazing with Liquid Riot’s Beer Schnapps. “Whatever is left at the bottom of the tanks and going to waste, we distill it into schnapps, and it tastes almost like a light whiskey,” Doria said. Served on a thick plank of Standard Baking sourdough and garnished with a few tiny, crisp-fried mushrooms, it’s an umami supernova that would be improved only by a few more pickled onions.

In his rum cake ($7), he goes to even greater lengths to link dining to the surroundings. “I take the spent grains from brewing (malt, barley and oats) and dehydrate them for two days. It’s a long process,” he explained. “Once they’re dried, I can blast them in the Vitamix to turn them into sort of a flour. They usually go to pigs at a local farm, but before we give them to the farmer, I take some. A lot of places just throw it away.” His unorthodox flour gives the dense, perhaps sludgy cake a heady, bready flavor that marries well with the crunchy, sugary topping of housemade Dow’s Demise dark rum and coconut. One slice is enough to share.

Creative dishes like these make it hard not to notice Doria’s positive influence on Liquid Riot. Stop for a second and look at the menu he redesigned when he took over the kitchen in July. What you see there isn’t just typical bar food.

Sure, there’s a phenomenally good housemade pretzel ($6), looped into the shape of a napping figure eight as an homage to Liquid Riot’s former name: Infinity. And yes, you’ll also find a 6-ounce beef burger ($15) served with sweet pickles and peppery arugula, pickled onions and Cabot cheddar cheese, all layered in a precise order that somehow keeps the brioche bun from ever getting soggy. Hamburger witchcraft, really.

But further in, something unusual: an excellent salad of local goat cheese, kale and heirloom cherry tomatoes ($9), exuberantly seasoned with tarragon and mint and fortified with soft, barely chewy farro. “I wanted something a vegetarian could come in and have and feel satisfied. Farro is good for you and it’s filling,” Doria said. It’s not just for herbivores, either. I spotted a party of 12 college students seated on comfy, black leather sofas, sharing three servings of the farro salad with their burgers. Then, underneath sparkly sail tarps on the back patio, a couple cuddled up on adjacent aluminum-and-plywood barstools and split both the salad and the Chinese Takeout chicken wings ($12) as they watched the moonlight over Union Wharf.

I followed their lead and ordered the wings myself, which is how I discovered that Doria is kind of a fryer genius.

He starts with double-fried wings that require no breading, coating or dredge, yet still develop a brittle, shatteringly crisp exterior. These are tossed in Doria’s special red sauce, a trans-national blend of Korean gochujang chili paste, Japanese mirin, soy sauce and chili oil before receiving a finishing sprinkle of black and white sesame seeds. In the end, I’m not sure how Chinese the dish is, but it’s undeniably good – sweet and sticky, with a 9-volt current of spicy heat sparking through every bite.

There’s gochujang in the aioli-based dipping sauce for Liquid Riot’s French fries ($6), as well, but that’s not the best thing about the dish. Cut from skin-on potatoes from Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg, Doria’s fries are blanched in oil, frozen and then fried again to order and dusted with salt. Two ingredients. No margin for error. But Doria doesn’t need it. His fries are crisp, with buff-toned blisters and a steamy, tender interior. They are probably the best fries I have eaten in Maine.

A little more fryer magic makes its way into the kimchi-flavored Korean bowl ($17) entrée, here in the form of two thumb-sized portions of juicy, barely fried local hake that sit atop a pyramid of cockles, seared pork belly and mussels. Underneath, a kaleidoscopically herbal broth made from lemongrass, cilantro, star anise, citrus and green onion sends puffs of brightness up like smoke signals.

And apart from a few pieces of cabbage in the kimchi, there are pretty much no carbs in the bowl. “I know it’s weird. People always ask why I don’t add starch, but I don’t think every dish needs starch. That one is all protein, and it’s super clean,” Doria told me over the phone. I laughed and told him I agreed with his decision. What I didn’t have the heart to tell him is that the episode of “Late Night Eats” that aired this Thursday might be the least of his concerns. If he persists with such a wide-ranging, strongly conceived and executed menu, he won’t be able to stay incognito much longer, no matter how hard he tries.

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0, ME - OCTOBER 9: Chinese Takeout Wings with red dragon sauce, lime and sesame seeds, photographed at Liquid Riot in Portland on Monday, October 9, 2017. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:23:03 +0000