The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Lifestyle Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Book review: Neighborly justice and jealousy fuel complex Maine drama in ‘Straw Man’ Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 An elderly woman needs trees cut to quickly raise cash in an emergency. Jack McMorrow, a freelance writer for The New York Times, and his two buddies, Clair Varney and Louis Longfellow, former combat Marines, drop everything to head off into the woods to aid her.

In such circumstances, the people of Prosperity, Maine, are fortunate to have such good neighbors. The same is true should everything go terribly south in those woods. The trio is quite capable of dispensing rough justice as their moral bearings deem necessary, often working at the far fringe of the law – and then some.

This makes for a volatile mix in Maine writer Gerry Boyle’s new novel, “Straw Man,” the 11th installment in his Jack McMorrow mystery series.

Boyle gets right to it in the first chapter, when the good Samaritans encounter an “outlaw” crew taking trees that don’t belong to them. The friends try to be civil but direct in correcting any misunderstanding the intruders might have about whose land they’re on.

Doesn’t matter to the lowlifes. Civility goes only so far when a knife is pulled and a gun brandished.

McMorrow and his buddies bare-handedly dispatch the four tree bandits with a beating they never saw coming and won’t soon forget, sending one to the hospital with a horribly broken arm.

Humiliated, the bad boys, a mélange of girlfriend-beating, sex-offending, gun-running troublemakers, are fueled for payback. The dispute spills out of the woods and into the community, threatening McMorrow’s wife, Roxanne, and their 8-year-old daughter, Sophie.

To complicate things, Roxanne McMorrow is involved in promoting an educational program promoting peace and nonviolence in the local school. Her teaching partner is a well-to-do neighbor who is the single father of Sophie’s best friend. This sets up a tortured conflict over pacifism versus violence between McMorrow and his wife, with jealousy thrown in, McMorrow growing suspicious about the true intentions of his wife’s colleague, a man with more money than sense and a yearning for lovely Roxanne.

Meanwhile, an isolationist settlement of strict Old Order Mennonites seeks to live simply in the area, wanting to preserve their 500-year traditions and protect their children from the seductions of the world. The bishop tells McMorrow when they first meet, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way to destruction.” Keeping the gate closed by edict, however, is insufficient, and the bishop’s family gets disastrously drawn into the conflict.

Boyle handles all this masterfully. His plotting is tight and his characterizations, for the most part, are compelling. Varney and Longfellow are richly developed, fearless yet sympathetic. The bad guys are merely stock characters, vile and evil, but they get what they deserve.

The subplot around the Mennonites is fascinating and a perfect foil for the madness that swirls through the wider community and the world.

“Straw Man” is a great book to take on a plane, to the beach or to bed if you don’t really want to sleep. Boyle is a deft craftsman and a wonderful storyteller. With “Straw Man,” he sets high expectations from the start, and he doesn’t disappoint.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer and ghostwriter whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was named as a finalist for the Bellwether Prize, created by best-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver. Smith can be reached via his website:

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Book review: A mother dances with disaster in Alaska in Eggers’ latest Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Among his best-selling literary fiction peers, Dave Eggers alone is engaged in a sustained effort to write about contemporary America. He’s been going at it so regularly and so swiftly that he’s keeping pace with the times, if not getting a half-step ahead. Perhaps he knows what’s next for us: In “Heroes of the Frontier,” his protagonist Josie runs off to Alaska after her life falls apart.

Josie used to be a dentist but isn’t really anymore; she used to be in love with Carl, the father of her children, but now she recalls him with loathing. He was too whimsical to get married and told her he was against the very idea of marriage – but after their split, he got engaged and wants their kids to come to his wedding.

This precipitated her Alaskan escape. She “was fully justified in leaving,” she rationalizes on the book’s second page. “Carl had no idea she had taken the children out of Ohio. Almost out of North America. And he could not know,” she says a little later.

And so it begins: A woman has absconded with her children, and we are on her side – even while realizing at some level that this is an uncomfortable place to be.

For most of the book, we travel along with Josie in a precarious rented RV that she dryly calls the Chateau. On board she has 8-year-old Paul, 3-year-old Ana, too much wine and an abundance of self-recriminating thoughts.

There is a destination of sorts – her sister’s place, but it’s not exactly her sister, and she won’t be around for a few days yet. So Josie drifts from one overpriced campground to another or, worse yet, random roadsides, inattentive to the people she meets, failing to be moved by the landscape’s arresting beauty.

“Where was the Alaska of magic and clarity?” she wonders. “This place was choked with the haze of a dozen forest fires, spread around the state like a prison break.”

This is the stuff of hyperbolic nightmare: America’s largest, northernmost state, with a subarctic climate, its forests in flames. But in 2015 that did happen, with more than 5 million acres – an area as large as Massachusetts – lost to wildfires.

If Alaska can’t remain safe from fires, and if Josie can’t help steering toward that danger, what hope is there for her, for us? When Eggers draws the present into his fiction, it’s there not just as window dressing or setting; it tells us something about ourselves.

In 2014, Eggers published the challenging, didactic novel “Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Will They Live Forever?” The book was a series of dialogues about America’s failures – wars, police brutality – that took place between a troubled man and the people he kidnapped. It was not much of a people-pleaser.

But its predecessor, the 2013 best-seller “The Circle,” was. It featured a young woman who went to work at a Silicon Valley behemoth who gamely shaped herself to become a star of its always-connected selfie- and social media-sharing culture. A film version, starring Emma Watson with Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Patton Oswalt, is due this year.

It’s bound to fare better than the adaptation that came and went in April of “A Hologram for the King,” Eggers’ 2012 novel of an aging executive who (after exporting his business to extinction) has one last shot to start over by selling irrelevant technology to Saudi royalty. The book was a successful, melancholy meditation on America’s lost manufacturing base, the erosion of a shared sense of national purpose, and one middle-class man left adrift.

Work, politics, the end of America as an economic powerhouse. And now a woman who’s at the end of her rope, in a place of salvation without the wherewithal to seek it, as its promise goes up in flames.

Josie keeps turning, despite herself, toward those fires. Even when guided by the authorities, in a slapstick episode that becomes terrifying, she winds up going the wrong way. The children are sleeping, and there’s nothing to do but drive on: The idea of pursuit by her ex is a greater danger than the fires to the north.

Yes, this is a terrible decision; she is full of them. To avoid using any traceable cards, she’s living off a bag of cash she’s stashed under the RV’s sink. When she meets up with someone who offers her kindness, she drinks too much, acts out or pushes off in a hurry – usually some combination of the three. She takes things she shouldn’t. Disaster is only a hairbreadth away.

She makes so many bad choices, you half expect her to point to Christopher McCandless’ bus and say, “Hey, kids, that’s our destination!”

But this is not “Into the Wild,” thankfully. She doesn’t have a grand narrative goal, like McCandless or Don Quixote or Odysseus or Dante. Instead, she’s driven by a nagging, restless dissatisfaction – one that’s very human.

“She could be content, and could do her work, or feed her children, or temporarily love a man like Carl, and live in the town she lived in, in the country she’d been born in,” she realizes in a buzzy reverie, “but a thousand other lives presented themselves to her daily and seemed equally or more worthwhile.”

This, of course, is the story of her trying to choose another life, an act that’s harder than it seems. She’s wrestling with a past – full of pain, anger, guilt and stifled flights of fancy – that is slowly revealed.

And she’s a loving parent but almost criminally free-range. She allows her hyper-vigilant son and tiny terror of a daughter to fend for themselves. They are better at taking care of her and of each other than she is of them.

It’s something Eggers deftly lets us see around the edges of Josie’s world.

But it takes a while to reach that point. On the first page, Josie sees herself in her own “personal slum,” and the language is so harsh that it’s hard to tell what we’re supposed to think of her.

Eggers takes a little too long before giving us the tools to understand that he’s not looking down on her, that the criticisms come from Josie.

Funny, sharp and exasperated with everyone – especially herself – she can be a relentless narrative companion.

When relief comes, it’s not really nature that’s the balm – although it helps – but a combination of solitude, other grown-ups and the act of creation. To grow, Josie has to connect.

And the landscape does reveal some healing powers. How could it not? On fire or not, it’s America’s last great unspoiled, untamed wilderness. If there is no hope for Josie and her children there, there is no hope for any of us.

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Signings, etc.: Joyce Lovely to speak at Belgrade library Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Author Joyce Lovely will talk about her new memoir, “Ice Cream, Gas Masks and God,” which tells of her childhood in 1940s Liverpool and trying to live a normal life during World War II amid regular nighttime spells in the air raid shelter as the bombs fell.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Belgrade Public Library, 124 Depot Road, Belgrade


INFO: 495-3508;

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Art review: ‘Women Modernists’ in Portland is mostly about exciting art Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 “O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York” at the Portland Museum of Art was originally organized by the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, around the soft logic that these Modernist female painters all worked in the city between about 1910 and 1935.

Gathering these four intensifies some tricky issues about proximity and access: One, Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944), was a wealthy socialite spinster and the others were all married to historically important male artists. Mainer Marguerite Zorach (1887-1968) is well known to audiences here – as are her husband, William, and daughter, Dahlov Ipcar. Helen Torr (1886-1967) was married to American painting pioneer Arthur Dove. And Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) no longer needs an introduction.

A lesser known story about O’Keeffe, however, illustrates the conundrum of “Women Modernists.” During the mid-1970s when O’Keeffe was the most famous female artist in America, she refused to loan work to the major exhibition “Women Artists: 1550 to 1950” surveying about 150 of Western history’s most important female artists. By that time, O’Keeffe was not as willing as she once had been to let herself be marketed as an artist defined by gender.

Curator Linda Nochlin, a feminist art historian, was not persuaded by O’Keeffe’s request to disassociate herself from the show. Nochlin included O’Keeffe by borrowing her work from another source.

“Women Modernists” is an echo of that conundrum. It is a show of female artists who were not comfortable being primarily identified by their gender and pigeonholed as “women artists.”

We could discuss data, like how less than 5 percent of the works in the grand 2004 reboot of the Museum of Modern Art in New York were made by female artists. But the problem is more complicated: How do we reconcile the historic societal bias with contemporary practices and conversations? How do we talk about female artists of the Modernist moment? After all, the interest in and relevance of artists change over time. The trick may be to remember that we aren’t trying to change the past, but rather our own contemporary perspectives.

Did Nochlin do the right thing?

You bet. And so did O’Keeffe. Art historian Nochlin and artist O’Keeffe had very different but valid perspectives. Curators Ellen Roberts of the Norton and Jessica May, who installed the show at the PMA, are doing the right thing now by furthering the conversation started so long ago.

And yet, in “Women Modernists” it is O’Keeffe who ultimately triumphs, while the true beneficiary is the public. It’s also a triumph for Torr and Zorach. My problem with Stettheimer is simply that I don’t like her work. I find her paintings affected, entitled, coloristically overbearing (was she allergic to blue, or what?), narcissistic and poorly painted, but I acknowledge it must be an issue of taste, because many people I know fall to pieces over Stettheimer.

It’s easiest to let O’Keeffe lead the way, and the Portland Museum of Art does just that – with five of her six iconic “Jack-in-the-Pulpit” canvases on loan from the National Gallery. The label copy indicates the show was organized biographically by the Norton, but any semblance of organization immediately dissolves here. On the strength of the work, however, we hardly care. (Still, we all deserved to see how Stettheimer’s “eyegay” 1921 “Still Life with Flowers” would have looked next to O’Keeffe’s sexually crisp florals.)

In general, May’s scripted lack of organization wisely avoids uncomfortable comparisons, like if the Christmas-light-bright self-portraits of Stettheimer had been with the pair of devastatingly honest self-portraits by Torr.

Stettheimer’s “Jenny and Genevieve” (c. 1915) features a high society woman brooding over fruit served by her African American maidservant. The social narrative crackles uncomfortably. The label makes it worse. It notes how the scene “evokes Stettheimer’s own position, constrained by a well-bred existence that prevented her from having the time she wanted for her art.”

If I am not mistaken, “well-bred existence” means “rich socialite.” O, to envy the maidservant, who is free from such woes! (I am starting to remember why I don’t like Stettheimer.) This is one of the few worthy, if horribly fumbled, feminist narratives in the gallery: These artists simply didn’t have enough time to make art. It’s an important point about female artists, but it gets mangled here.

Nearby, a label tell us about Zorach’s trip around the world from 1911 to 1912 and then explains she switched to textiles because she didn’t have time to paint. But looking at the gorgeous “Tree of Life Coverlet” Zorach embroidered by hand leaves no doubt such work took far, far more time than painting.

And while O’Keeffe’s star power has undeniable appeal and Stettheimer’s is undeniably loud, it’s Torr’s story that resonates most sympathetically and Zorach who makes the strongest case as a pioneering artist. Torr, a devoted wife to Dove, was wracked by self-doubt fueled by what appears to have been a glass ceiling that ultimately constrained her like a bell jar.

Torr’s story is tender, tough and understandable. Her paintings often fall in the realm of Lois Dodd’s intelligent spareness. Some, like “Mountain Mood” (c. 1923) and “Evening Sounds” (c. 1927), flash with undeniable brilliance. Maybe she stood in Dove’s shadow, but she was doing more than just holding him up. Torr’s “Purple and Green Leaves” (1927) is a great work of American Modernism regardless of context.

Zorach’s Fauvism-fueled painting appears prescient – concurrent to and following the seminal 1913 Armory Show that delivered full-blossomed Modernism to America. Her cubist cobbler “Justin Jason,” seen in profile plying his craft in his shop window, is a high point of Cubism. Her “Provincetown, Sunrise and Moonset” (1916) matches Marsden Hartley’s density of form and John Marin’s sectional intelligence. It sets a high water mark for American early Modernist landscapes.

Zorach’s paintings make her case far better than I can. This is true of all four artists. Seeing “Women Modernists” is exciting not because the artists are women, but because the art is exciting.

We can see why O’Keeffe was willing to let Steiglitz market her art as essentially feminine before she changed tack and sought a place in history not solely defined by her gender. To understand our culture’s history, we cannot forget the challenges faced by any identifiable group. But that doesn’t mean we can’t solve the problems they once faced.

“Women Modernists” is a good reminder why this is the right thing to do. It has the taste of triumph.

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

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Book review: ‘Night Work’ wades with style into 1950s New York Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Finishing David Taylor’s “Night Work,” I immediately regretted not having read its predecessor first. Titled “Night Life,” it came out last year and introduced Detective Michael Cassidy, a hard-boiled New York cop.

Wading into a whodunit series – in this case, it’s actually a who’ll-do-it – midway means missing out on the pleasures of prior suspense. Secrets that would have been fun to puzzle out in the first book become just so much backstory in the second.

Still, “Night Work” is the best piece of crime fiction I’ve read in years, so good that I will start again with “Night Life.”

This is a genre laden with booby traps, not just for the detective, but for the writer as well. Entering a world dominated by Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler is not easy without producing either a slavish imitation or a send-up pastiche.

“Night Work” gets it exactly right. Taylor, who grew up in New York, worked in the TV and film industry and now splits his time between Boston and midcoast Maine, lets the reader revel in the uncertain mood of 1950s New York, with its fedoras and flashy ties, while taking us deep into the frenetic criminality of pre-revolutionary Cuba. It’s all recognizably noir, but fresh and stylishly written.

It helps that nothing here is quite as it seems, beginning with our hero. Like Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Hammett’s Sam Spade, Michael Cassidy is a tough loner with few illusions, but he has dreams that sometimes foretell the future. He is not Irish (as one might expect a New York cop called Cassidy to be). His father, Tom Cassidy, changed his name from Kasnavietski when he arrived in America as a fugitive from the czar’s army.

Tom married a millionairess and became a successful Broadway producer. (Taylor’s father was a famous Broadway playwright.) Michael is a product of New York’s Upper East Side, even if he has little time to enjoy it. As a hardened cop says, with grudging admiration, “You’re out there knocking yourself out on the street keeping the animals in line.”

The plot is set against Fidel Castro’s first visit to New York. Fidel has just delivered Cuba from the dictator Batista, but he has not yet become a full-fledged communist and American bete noire. Still, someone is out to assassinate him. Can Cassidy stop it? Taylor’s twists and turns amply compensate for the fact that we know he can.

Taylor is a diligent researcher. Story-spinning and the event itself dovetail seamlessly, even though there’s a bit of authorial license with dramatic possibilities that never made the news. Nor does he hesitate to incorporate actual figures in the story’s action: besides Castro, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and (slightly strangely) mobster Frank Costello, among others, have more than walk-on roles.

Though the author would have been only 15 in 1959, the year in which “Night Work” takes place, he exhibits the native New Yorker’s inherent empathy for the sounds and especially sights of his city over half a century ago. Little tidbits, such as the year 6th Avenue was made one-way (1957), are thrown in quite naturally, an event about which anyone living on Manhattan at the time would have had strong opinions.

With some of the minor characters, Taylor can’t resist a little “pulp fiction” fun. Of a trio of hoods, the one with the rifle “preferred to work up closer, because he liked to see the impact”; his brother “discovered an affection for explosives and could shape a charge in such a way that the target would lose his foot, his hand, or his entire being when he turned the key to his car.” The third was “a more straightforward goon who liked to work in close with a knife.”

The tone of the book reminded me a little of Alan Furst, whose works explore a similarly murky world, that of Europe teetering on the brink of World War II.

Cuba and New York are racier settings. Imbued with the smoke of Camels, Chesterfields and Luckies, and haunted by the strains of jazz, David Taylor’s novel recreates a similar, increasingly distant time that’s well worth such an exciting visit.

Thomas Urquhart is a former director of Maine Audubon and the author of “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

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LaHotan’s late works are on view in August at Yvette Torres Fine Art Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 ROCKLAND — Yvette Torres Fine Art opens “Robert LaHotan in Maine, The Late Paintings” with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. The exhibition is on view through Sept. 4 at the Rockland gallery, 464 Main St.

LaHotan and his life partner, the painter John Heliker, purchased the Stanley home and boatyard on Great Cranberry Island’s tidal pool in 1957, and restored a boathouse on the shore’s edge as a studio. Teaching in New York City during the winter, the two painters spent their summers painting on Cranberry Island for more than 40 years, and were part of a community of 20th century painters who returned to Cranberry each year.

He became a year-round Cranberry Island resident in 2001, and spent his last years envisioning The Heliker-LaHotan Foundation’s artist residency program in their home and studios.

Lahotan is known for his abstracted landscapes and still lifes. His late paintings have not been exhibited since the late 1990s. An Ohio native, LaHotan grew up in Massachusetts and lived in New York. A two-time winner of the Emily Lowe Award in 1952 and 1957, he received a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Frieburg, Germany, from 1953 to 1955. His works are in many public and private collections throughout America.

Sales of art work during the exhibition support The Heliker-LaHotan Foundation Artist Residency Program on the island.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; 207-332-4014 or

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Society Notebook: Kennebunk’s Brick Store Museum turns 80 in style Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk is all about place.

Celebrating its 80th birthday, it’s in the town’s oldest block of commercial buildings, where wealthy ship owner William Lord opened a general store made out of brick in 1825. But it’s more than that.

“It transcends generations,” said trustee Bruce Jackson of Kennebunkport at the Museum’s Fancy Dress Bash on June 30. “Not only do we represent the history of the area, but we’re deeply involved in the community … We’ve got living history right here.”

Cynthia Walker, director of the Brick Store Museum, was dressed from head to toe as though she had stepped out of 1936, when the museum was first established by Lord’s great-granddaughter, Edith Cleaves Barry, during the Great Depression.

“We usually have a few fundraisers a year, and it’s always fun for people to dress up, so we decided to pair that,” she said.

Another attendee, trustee PJ Cavanaugh, once lived in an apartment in what is now part of the Brick Store Museum complex.

“I fell in love with this place almost 50 years ago. I came as a new bride,” she said. “The spirit and the passion for the history really impressed me.”

“The Brick Store Museum is the keeper of the heritage of the community, but it stays vibrant with the times to allow people to understand how our heritage is crucial today and (will be) in the future,” said Steve Spofford, immediate past president of the museum’s board.

The museum’s collection of 70,000 objects includes a lot of shipbuilding tools, models and primary documents, as ships were built “just down the road,” Walker said. But the collection touches upon nearly every other facet of life in the Kennebunks.

“What is so refreshing for a small museum is its ability to balance history and art,” said trustee Christopher Farr, pointing to current exhibits on historical costuming, photography and medicine. The museum’s only permanent exhibit showcases furnishings and portraits of town residents from 1685 to 1840.

“We support the Brick Store Museum because the historical information is really helpful to understand the area,” said member Sheila Clark-Edmands of Kennebunk. “They hold wonderful events, give a lot to the community and have an education component for schoolchildren.”

“And they maintain an extensive archive that is accessible,” added Peter Edmands.

“It’s wonderful to have such an active preservation of history right here in the Kennebunks,” said Jeannine McCoy. “And every time you come, you see different things.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

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Dancing in the sea, the painter Rachael Eastman connects with the sun Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Rachael Eastman lurches forward to meet the surf as it breaks under The Pier at Old Orchard Beach. A wave rises above her knees and knocks her backward. She clenches her toes in the sand and reaches out with a hand to brace against a piling. The water retreats, and she follows it forward, graceful like a ballerina, lifting each leg out of the swallowing sand before planting again for the next surge.

Camera phone in hand, Eastman bends low at the waist, her body barely out of the rising surf, and clicks off a series of photos before jumping back up and out of the way of a crashing wave.

Eastman, a painter, is here on this morning, as she is every morning, moments before sunrise, when dawn fills the horizon and lights a new day. This day is overcast, with no sun to speak of, but there is still much to see. The water is silver beneath a leaden sky, rolling with an incoming tide. A half moon shines above, masked by haze. The radiant pink of another morning is forgotten in the thickness of what will become a humid day.

“As a painter, it’s never not worth coming for,” she said. “It’s always beautiful.”

"Sea Wall" Oil on box panel

“Sea Wall” Oil on box panel

Eastman begins each day like Icarus, in a race for the sun. She is in the midst of what will be, by season’s end, 160 consecutive mornings on the beach, a quest that she began in May and will continue into September. This is her third summer of what she calls her “dawnathon,” an obsessive exercise that connects her to her subject, nourishes her soul and informs her paintings.

“I can’t help it,” she said. “I’m possessed.”

Obsession has long been part of the practice of artists. Monet obsessed over waterlilies and haystacks. Eastman obsesses over dawn.

She trusts that her single-minded dedication shows itself in deeper paintings that express not what she sees each morning but how she feels. She wants to transfer the energy of the sun and the movement of the water to the surface of her paintings.

Her photos are a personal diary of her mornings. She doesn’t use them to paint, but looks at them for inspiration. She paints, she said, from “faulty memory.” It is not science she is after, but romance.


A few minutes before sunrise, Eastman wades barefoot into the surf wearing black yoga pants and top, facing east as her name compels so she will be prone to the light when it cracks the horizon. The time before and the time after sunrise hold their own beauty and pleasure, but Eastman is insistent on being present for the sun and in the water at the very moment it shows on the horizon. “It’s like watching a flare,” she said. “You lose yourself.”

She dares anyone to try. Two weeks of dawns will change a person, she said. It will set your spine and take away the superfluous, laying vanity bare.

"Turbulence 1" Ink, charcoal and chalk on paper

“Turbulence 1” Ink, charcoal and chalk on paper

Eastman is mindful of the weather and keeps a kit in her car that includes foul-weather gear, fingerless gloves, hats and towels. These last three years, she has extended her mornings on the beach into the winter, averaging 235 total mornings a year. A wetsuit is in her future, she said. She goes barefoot “as much as humanely possible, as much as it’s safe.”

She’s lost three phones to the surf.

She likes to arrive before anyone else is on the beach, but that doesn’t always happen. When others are here – tourists with cameras, anglers with fishing rods, men and women with their dogs – she avoids them so they do not come between her and the sun. She dashes around the beach, in and out of the water in search of different reflections and wave movements.

One magical morning, as the sun popped out from the east, the moon hovered over her shoulder to the west. The light of the moon on the water mingling with the rising sun sustained a year’s worth of exhibitions.

"Turbulence 2" ink, charcoal and chalk

“Turbulence 2” ink, charcoal and chalk

At their best, her paintings convey the mystery and moody presence of the sky and sea. As with some of her earlier work, these oil paintings exist somewhere between representational and abstract. We know what we’re seeing, and we also understand there is much more at play below the thick, gooey surface of the paint.

Eastman is a Maine College of Art graduate and a student of longtime Maine painter Lois Dodd. She spent much of her early artistic life painting the human figure and face. The subject consumed her for 20 years, as she experimented with color, tone and painting style. She spent years living in the mountains and looking at heavenly vistas “but couldn’t force anything but a face out of myself.”


Her shift away from the human face and figure began with a dog. For years, when Eastman lived in Old Orchard within a mile of the beach, she came each morning with Matisse, a Papillon with a hint of chihuahua. Matisse was a rescue dog, and Eastman’s longtime companion until his recent death.

He brought her to the beach, where their walks became so much more than physical exercise. “Something had taken over me,” Eastman says. “I would come down to the water and look up and see this astounding beauty in the sky. The colors and the way light moved across the water, and the angle of the sun as it rises – it all just made me feel so small.”

A studio visit with Brunswick painter Kathy Bradford helped her shake loose of the face and figure to concentrate on the sea. Eastman sought Bradford’s advice as a mentor, and Bradford told her, “You’re in love with this ocean.”

Eastman has been painting water, sky and where the two meet for seven years since.

She cites Mark Rothko and J.M.W. Turner, a 19th century England landscape painter, as influences. Rothko is easy to see. Eastman’s paintings explore the tensions between the soft blues, grays and pinks, where the sea and sky come together. A recent series of drawings convey the turbulence of the stormy seas.

"Ocean Gesture 3" Ink and charcoal on paper

“Ocean Gesture 3” Ink and charcoal on paper

Eastman is following a great artistic tradition in returning to her subject over and over. Many artists have obsessed over a single motif for years. The sculptor Rodin is an example from tradition. He returned to the figure in an incessant search for ways to express anguish, joy and intellect.

In Maine, painter Tom Curry obsessed over a small island off Eggemoggin Reach, making dozens of paintings of the island in all seasons. The island became a constant presence in his life, a living thing, and Curry’s paintings evolved from landscapes to portraits.

Eastman is in the midst of something similar at Old Orchard Beach. These days, with sunrise approaching 5:30, she is up by 4. She sleeps four, five hours most nights. She has an alarm, but doesn’t need it. She makes coffee and is in the car 30 minutes before sunrise.

She is in place, under The Pier, as the light pushes over the horizon.

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David Mallett’s latest album celebrates family Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 In the winter of 2014, David Mallett was in Machias talking to university students about songwriting when he got snowed in. With time on his hands and no place to go, he started writing what would become his next album, “Celebration.”

The song that came to Mallett in Machias was “Ring for You,” which he wrote for his son, Luke, who was getting married that August. He didn’t finish the song on that snowy day Down East, but that trip triggered a fertile period of composition. “That’s usually the way it works,” said the stalwart songwriter from Sebec, who is best known for his early-’70s folk song “Garden Song (Inch by Inch).” “I wait two or three years until I need a new batch of songs. Then the right situation comes along, and away it goes. All I’ll do is write songs for the next six months.”

Mallett, 65, will talk about song craft and the importance of place and family as a guest on MaineVoices Live at 7 p.m. Tuesday at One Longfellow Square. His sons, Luke and Will Mallett, will join him. Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram music writer Aimsel Ponti will lead the conversation. Hosted by MaineToday Media, MaineVoice Live is a live conversation with notable Maine figures.

Luke and Will Mallett perform in the Mallett Brothers Band and often appear with their father on stage for his concerts. The three will perform a few songs together Tuesday night.

The song “Celebration” was the last song Mallett finished for the album. The family was all together in Sebec last summer, on the lawn. Mallett allowed himself a moment of joy that his kids were happy and in one place. He wandered off “back into my hole” to write a few lines while the inspiration was still present.

The record, released in the spring, includes love songs, political songs and social statements about the decline of rural America. Throughout the songwriting process, Mallett sent unfinished song sketches to his kids, including his daughter, Molly. He wanted their input and collaboration. They all share songwriting credits and perform on the album. “I love working with my kids,” Mallett said. “They’re all very musical, and they have a perspective that I don’t have, because they have all that energy and they listen to stuff all the time.”

Mallett has released 17 records since the 1970s and has been especially productive in the last decade, with three albums of mostly new songs and one collection of covers.

“I’m very proud of these tunes,” Mallett said. “The older I get, the more I have a handle on what I want to do. You can only get better as you get older.”


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New Zealander Taika Waititi making directoral splash Sun, 31 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Subjects that have drawn the rising writer, actor, director and comic include manhunts and life after vampire death.

Filmmaker Taika Waititi grew up in a very small New Zealand community amid poverty and intense challenges, but those dark and adverse situations taught him to cope with laughter. He spent his youth in the 1980s consuming a diet of British and American TV comedies, working in underground theaters and creating his own madcap nonsense. Now he’s a recognized rising star as a comedian, writer, actor and director.

He wrote “Moana,” a Disney animated film coming to theaters in November, is currently directing Marvel’s next Thor sequel in Australia, and has just been recruited to join the exclusive ranks of Academy Award voters.

While it’s “far above expectations,” Waititi said he’s hardly filmmaking royalty. “Peter (Jackson) is still the king. I’m more like a distant relative coming for a visit.”

Waititi’s background also played a role in drawing him to his new film, the dark and comic romp “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” It’s about the bond that forms between a sourpuss old man and an orphan boy as they run from child welfare authorities.

Waititi gave himself a cameo as a nincompoop preacher who tells a group of mourners that life often makes us feel “like a sheep trapped in a maze designed by wolves.” He admitted he could have been speaking of his own beginnings.

While the film plays continually for comedy, it’s adapted from an entirely serious 1986 novel by Barry Crump called “Wild Pork and Watercress.” Waititi’s first draft in 2005 stayed true to the template, with people being shot and dying. Then he went off and made three other films, most famously “What We Do in the Shadows,” a mock documentary about vampires adapting to mundane Kiwi life after death. When he returned to his earlier project, his slant was considerably more optimistic, as was the government’s interest in funding a backwoods comedy.

Shot outdoors in remote natural areas over five weeks, “crazily trying to get as much material as possible” on a limited budget, “Wilderpeople” has become a sizable box-office success there and abroad, a development Waititi greeted with considerable relief.

“It’s getting harder and harder for films to do well, especially New Zealand films,” he said. “It’s a struggle, but for a small independent film it’s been incredible, and I think it’s going to have a strong, good life.”

Waititi also is excited about his inclusion in the Academy. Increasing the organization’s diversity is a big deal, he said, especially for someone coming from a Maori community.

“Filmmaking was something I never even heard of growing up,” he said. “That I should be doing it and inspiring other Maori to have an interest in storytelling as a career is something very important to me because part of what makes us stand out in New Zealand is our cultural differences. The indigenous culture that’s unique to every country, you should be showing that off.”

Having entered the big budget big leagues as director of “Thor: Ragnarok,” he said he feels free to bring the assignment his sense of creative freedom.

“I wouldn’t really take a job where I felt my input wasn’t valued,” and he has played a major role in shaping the story line and adding newcomers like Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban and Tessa Thompson to the cast.

“A lot of (Marvel’s) directors come from humble film backgrounds, and that’s what makes them work. When unique people bring their vision to something very, very mainstream, that makes them cool.”

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Maine Artisan Bread Fair keeps it fresh and keeps on growing Sun, 31 Jul 2016 00:03:20 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — Bread.

Semolina levain. Buckwheat oat porridge bread. Carrot, corn spelt vollkornbrot. Pretzels and whole grain crackers.

Bread and all the cheeses, jams, sauces, utensils and equipment to go along with eating and making it were featured Saturday at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds for the annual Maine Artisan Bread Fair. The fair, which showcased 65 vendors and attracted about 2,500 people, was the culmination of the 10th annual Kneading Conference sponsored by the Maine Grain Alliance.

The bread fair brought people from all over Maine and from as far away as New York and New Jersey. Amber Lambke, alliance co-founder and owner of the Somerset Grist Mill in Skowhegan, said the two day Kneading Conference and bread fair are important to reacquaint the community with the old ways of making and eating good food that is locally sourced, while strengthening self reliance.

“The Kneading Conference is important because it is focusing on how we rebuild regional grain economies, not just in Maine, but all over the country where they used to exist,” Lambke said. “And when that happens, there’s a chain effect helping farmers, bakers, brewers, oven builders, millers that form an interconnected economy around food, so we learn to rely on each other again and make good nutritious products.

“The more we do, the more opportunity there is for job creation and utilization of land, the more we protect ourselves from the volatility of grain prices, transportation prices, oil prices and weather related events.”

The bread fair, founded in 2010 as a simple lecture on food, spread this year to fill Constitution Hall on the fairgrounds and onto what will become the Skowhegan State Fair midway Aug. 11-20. There were vendors selling handmade baskets, pottery, artwork, knitted scarves, books on baking bread, wood-fired pizza, local beer, wine and live music. And lots of homemade bread, some baked right on site.

Bangor City Councilor Ben Sprague visited the bread fair Saturday with his wife Malorie and their two children, Abby, 1, and William, 21/2. Wearing a Bangor Green Drinks T-shirt, a local group that supports projects that make the community more sustainable, Sprague said locally made products have a far reaching effect both economically and gastronomically.

“We love foods and we didn’t know much about Maine Grains, and so we’re here to learn more, have a nice day outside and experience local Maine products,” he said. “I would say we are novice foodies – we like to eat local, we like to eat Maine-based foods, but we have a lot to learn.”

The family had some wood-fired pizza and bought some food to bring home to Bangor.

Malorie Sprague said she liked the blueberry scones from the bread fair and purchased some local bread. William Sprague, wearing a Red Sox cap (he worked for the team for three years), said his favorite was the pizza.

Over at the Maine Grain Alliance sales table, Amanda Dewald, from upstate New York, said the breads for sale were the result of a two-day production workshop as part of the Kneading Conference. All of the participants produced the loaves for sale at the fair to benefit the alliance, she said.

Visitors Chuck Boyer and Kate Dunham, of Philips, said they were browsing the bread fair for good things to eat and take home.

“I like it – it’s our third time here – it really brings out a lot of the arts and crafts that are done locally and puts them together in one place and that’s indispensable,” Boyer said. “I love bread. I’ve actually made some bread on my own, so I come here and I learn a few things when I see the stuff here.”

Dunham said she comes for the bread and stays for all the good things that go with bread.

“I like finding good artisan bread and good artisan cheese,” she said.

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


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Kids keen on backcountry skills have a field day on Swan Island Sat, 30 Jul 2016 23:54:42 +0000 SWAN ISLAND — Drew and Cole Pengelly, 9- and 6-year-old brothers from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, were drawn to the Maine woods even before they came here with their parents this week as part of their summer vacation.

They watch the television show “North Woods Law” about the Maine Warden Service, and on Saturday, they took a ferry across the Kennebec River to learn more about the backcountry activities that feature so prominently in that series.

The Pengelly family went to Swan Island for a field day organized by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

Participants notched arrows and sent them flying at three dimensional replicas of turkeys, raccoons and bears. They shot air rifles at targets, paddled canoes and kayaks, learned about traditional animal trapping techniques and participated in a variety of other activities.

Families rotated through each event during the sunny day.

“I hit the raccoon in the thigh,” Cole Pengelly said of his success on the archery range.

His brother, Drew, wore a Maine Warden Service baseball cap and a t-shirt identifying himself as a “Junior Game Warden” – both items he owned before coming to Maine, noted his mother, Cathy Pengelly.

The family had just finished a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs and were preparing to participate in the paddling activity. They were standing near the trapping demonstrations, and Cathy marveled at the size of a red fox pelt that was hanging among beavers, weasels, raccoons and other mammals.

The Junior Maine Warden agreed, exclaiming, “You could make so many bowls of stew with that fox!”

Nelson Frost, a Brunswick resident, led some of the trapping sessions. He’s an officer with the Maine Trapping Association, he said, and during his sessions with the kids and adults, he spoke about the importance of trapping to wildlife conservation efforts.

He also showed off the different pelts and a set of steel traps.

The tracking, hunting and identification of wildlife was a running theme during the field day.

Another activity was a scavenger hunt across the entire island, in which kids had to locate various natural elements including a beaver dam, an owl pellet and evidence of a woodpecker.

A group of bird hunters had brought their dogs to the island – German shorthaired pointers – and were demonstrating how the dogs can retrieve fallen fowl. They threw floating dummies into the river, then had the dogs dive in and retrieve the fake birds.

“If we’re going to shoot something, it needs to be back so we can have it for dinner,” said Jason Carter, a member of the organization that was leading the demonstrations, the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association.

The group also has real, dead ducks that it uses exclusively for training purposes, Carter said.

He brought one of those training birds to Swan Island on Saturday and, as part of his demonstrations, took it into the woods before letting the dogs chase after its scent.

Jeff Gray, of Gardiner, came to the field day with two grandsons, Kian and Raef Alves, as well as his son, Jeremy Gray (uncle to Kian and Raef).

“It’s a guys’ day,” said Jeff.

They were eating lunch and had already participated in the paddling, archery and dog demonstrations, as well as an orienteering class.

Kian said he enjoyed the paddling and found the dog demo “very interesting.”

It was their first time on Swan Island, and Jeff and Jerry both found it so pleasant that they were considering coming back to go camping with more of their family members, they said.


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Pope implores youth to mix faith with deeds Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:51:35 +0000 BRZEGI, Poland — Pope Francis challenged hundreds of thousands of young people who gathered in a sprawling Polish meadow to reject being a “couch potato” who retreats into video games and computer screens and instead engage in social activism and politics to create a more just world.

Peppering his speech with contemporary lingo, the 79-year-old pope, despite a long day of public appearances, addressed his eager audience with enthusiasm Saturday on a warm summer night.

Francis spoke of a paralysis that comes from merely seeking convenience, from confusing happiness with a complacent way of life that could end up depriving people of the ability to determine their own fates.

“Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to ‘vegetate,” to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: To leave a mark,” Francis told a crowd that Polish media estimated at over 1 million in a huge field in Brzegi, a village outside the southern city of Krakow.

Organizers said 1.6 million people came to hear the pope Saturday night, but police did not give a crowd estimate.

Francis decried a modern escapism into consumerism and computers that isolates people. The same message ran through a ballet performance at the site before his speech: A lonely woman seeks human connections but is rebuffed by people on computer tablets and cellphones until one man emerges from behind a see-through barrier to connect.

For Francis, Jesus is the “Lord of risk … not the Lord of comfort, security and ease.”

“Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths,” Francis said.

He challenged his sea of listeners, spread out on blankets, to make their mark on the world by becoming engaged as “politicians, thinkers, social activists” and to help build a world economy that is “inspired by solidarity.”

“The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes,”‘ he said to applause, “but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced.”

Like a politician working a crowd, Francis yelled out to his audience: “You want others to decide your future?” When he didn’t get the rousing “No!” he was going for, he tried for a “Yes.”

“You want to fight for your future?” he asked.

“Yes!” they roared.

“The pope does not order us to do things, he encourages us,” Szymon Werner, a 32-year-old from Krakow who was at the meadow, said.

“It’s true, there are many temptations, weaknesses in life and we should try to do something about them.”

“I will give more attention to my family,” he vowed. “Last night, I gave a lift to some foreign pilgrims who missed their bus – so I think the pope’s presence is working!”

Francis’ evening appeal came hours after he celebrated a Mass with priests, nuns and young seminarians whom he also urged to leave their comfort zones and tend to the needy in the world.

He said Jesus wants the church “to be a church on the move, a church that goes out into the world.”

That homily came at a shrine dedicated to St. John Paul II, the Polish pontiff whose staunch defense of workers’ rights in the 1970s and ’80s challenged his nation’s then-Communist rulers.

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It’s the usual ‘big, dirty party’ at Redneck games in Hebron Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:01:15 +0000 HEBRON — There were no world-class athletes or top-notch sporting venues, but there was cold beer, barbecue and a muddy tug-of-war Saturday at the event formerly known as the Redneck Olympics.

The event, now officially known as the “Redneck (Blank)” after the real Olympics threatened to sue, also featured bobbing for pig’s feet, a greased watermelon haul and toilet seat horseshoes.

If that’s not redneck enough, then there was a wife-hauling contest and free mud runs for big-tired trucks.

Organizer Harold Brooks said it’s all about regular folks having fun without airs of pretentiousness.

“For me, a redneck doesn’t mean a person who’s dumb or lazy. A redneck to me means someone who can laugh at themselves. They’re a hard-working group of people who can let loose and have a good time,” he said.

On Saturday, a cacophony of loud music and roaring engines was set against a dusty backdrop in the hills of western Maine where several thousand people gathered. People paraded around in every manner of vehicle: pickups, all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, go-karts – and even a snowmobile.

A driver waits for his truck to be towed after failing to cross a mud course at the 'Redneck (Blank)' games in Hebron Saturday. David Sharp/Associated Press

A driver waits for his truck to be towed after failing to cross a mud course at the ‘Redneck (Blank)’ games in Hebron Saturday. David Sharp/Associated Press

Many spectators watching the trucks churning across the mud course ended up covered in mud themselves.

“It’s a big, dirty party,” said Sara Miller of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Crowds were encouraged to get into the act during the “competition,” but actual athletic skills were not a requirement. For example, one of the events called the “beer trot” featured an obstacle course that participants traversed while carrying a beer in each hand. The goal was to finish quickly – without spilling.

There were faux gold, silver and bronze medals for winners. But these aren’t Olympic events. The U.S. Olympic Committee put the kibosh on the “Redneck Olympics” name in 2011, Brooks said.

That doesn’t mean rednecks went down without a fight.

On Saturday, T-shirts were emblazoned with “Redneck Olympics” – with “Olympics” crossed out.

Brooks said his event is more fun and affordable than the real Olympic Games, which he believes has grown too big for its britches.

“The average redneck couldn’t afford to go the Olympics,” he said.

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Hungry crowds savor the flavors at Portland’s Festival of Nations Sat, 30 Jul 2016 19:41:20 +0000 Mavis Kwakutse of Scarborough stood under a tent Saturday at the Festival of Nations at Deering Oaks in Portland serving chicken, rice and other West African food she learned to cook growing up in Ghana.

A customer leaned in to announce that “this food is great” as Kwakutse and her partner, Kadiatu Moriba of Portland, who grew up in Sierra Leone, fed the hungry crowds who showed up for the annual festival.

“We have been doing this from back home,” Kwakutse said of the recipes they use.

Edel Rimkunas, 4, of Gorham, who is originally from Ethiopia, enjoys the sights and sounds of the Festival of Nations Saturday at Deering Oaks Park from the shoulders of her father Tony Rimkunas. Edel was adopted by Tony. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Edel Rimkunas, 4, of Gorham, who is originally from Ethiopia, enjoys the sights and sounds of the Festival of Nations Saturday at Deering Oaks Park from the shoulders of her father Tony Rimkunas. Edel was adopted by Tony. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The women are trying to make a go of their catering business, MayJoy Foods, and said the festival was a good place to show off their cooking. Theirs was among a line of international food tents that attracted crowds at the festival.

Visitors could sample food from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and United States at the 14th edition of the event, designed to highlight diversity and multiculturalism in Portland. The festival is co-hosted by the city of Portland, the Mugadi Foundation, Women in Need Industries and Poland Spring, the bottled water company.

Michael Odokara-Okigbo, a former Portland resident of Nigerian descent, helped create the event. Now known as Michael O, he was scheduled to arrive from Los Angeles, where he now has a budding singing career, to appear on the festival stage later in the day.

Odokara-Okigbo gained famed as a member of the Dartmouth (College) Aires a cappella group on NBC’s “The Sing-Off ” show in 2011. He also landed a small role in “Pitch Perfect 2,” starring Anna Kendrick, a 2003 Deering High School graduate.

Kadiatu Moriba of Portland, who grew up in Sierra Leone, smiles as she talks with visitors to her food stand where she was serving African foods at the Festival of Nations Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Kadiatu Moriba of Portland, who grew up in Sierra Leone, smiles as she talks with visitors to her food stand where she was serving African foods at the Festival of Nations Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The festival included other musical performances and dancers, with a steady beat of Afro pop, reggae and Indian classical blasting from the speakers set up at the park’s stage. There were booths promoting political causes, health groups and social services.

The crowd was equally diverse. Greater Portland Health invited visitors to put a star next to their country of origin. An hour into the event there were stars next to 19 different countries.

Mary Joyce of Portland sat on a blanket in the shade with her son, Martin Joyce, daughter-in-law, Sarah Joyce, and grandsons Nolan Joyce, 6, and Roscoe Joyce, 3, all of Hallowell. They were eating rice and chicken and listening to music.

“I read about this in the paper and we are anxious to see other cultures,” said Mary Joyce.

Cathie Whittenburg and husband Lenny Shedletsky of Portland said they decided to venture out to the festival for the first time in years.

“We wanted to go to it for lunch,” said Whittenburg.


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Harrison Ford uses checklist when he flies Sat, 30 Jul 2016 19:26:28 +0000 OSHKOSH, Wis. — Yes, Harrison Ford uses a checklist when he flies his plane.

A curious teenager accompanied the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” star when he flew his DeHavilland Beaver on Thursday at the AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 air show in Wisconsin. His passenger, 16-year-old Jodie Gawthrop, won the trip in a national contest through the Young Eagles program, which uses pilot and ground volunteers to introduce children to flying.

Ford was the program’s chairman from 2004 to 2009. The contest was designed to celebrate the program reaching 2 million members.

Ford told reporters after the 15-minute flight that he and Gawthrop talked shop in the air.

“It was really, really fun. We spent some time talking about the airplane and what I was doing and going through the checklists,” Ford said, referring to the step-by-step protocols that pilots follow. “Jodie actually asked me if celebrities use checklists. I said, ‘absolutely. They need them.”‘

Gawthrop, of Westchester, Illinois, has 10 flight hours under her belt through the Civil Air Patrol. But she said she was nervous about meeting the 74-year-old movie star.

“I geek out over Indiana Jones movies. I love ‘Star Wars,’ ” she said. “But I’m really excited to meet Harrison Ford as a fellow aviation enthusiast.”

A rainstorm struck the area just before Ford and Gawthrop were scheduled to take off. As the rain subsided, the pair emerged from a runway-side building with Ford holding an umbrella over the girl.

They climbed aboard the single-prop plane amid cheers from dozens of spectators.

– From news service reports

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Mary J. Blige files for divorce to end 13-year marriage Sat, 30 Jul 2016 19:22:40 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Mary J. Blige is ending her marriage to her husband-manager after nearly 13 years.

Court records show the “Family Affair” singer filed for divorce from Martin “Kendu” Isaacs on Tuesday in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences.

Blige and Isaacs were married in December 2003 and have no children together. The actress-singer has won nine Grammy Awards, including for her albums “Growing Pains” and “The Breakthrough.”

The singer is asking a court to deny Isaacs spousal support.

A representative for the singer said Blige will continue working on new music for an album slated to be released later this year.

– From news service reports

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Dance Review: Artistic and athletic, Kate Weare Company wears it well Sat, 30 Jul 2016 18:47:07 +0000 LEWISTON — Kate Weare’s dances live in a crazily graceful alternate universe, where bodies have the same parts and proportions as ours but their inhabitants have found different ways of articulating them.

Her dancers are exquisitely trained, with the ability – necessary for performing Weare’s choreography – of passing from complicated floor work to elevated poses so smoothly that the segues become invisible.

Their lithe strength is such that a dancer can be held by others horizontally like a plank with little visible means of support, and then suddenly move on to a totally different sequence, without a sign that a superhuman feat has just been performed.

Friday’s performance at the Bates Dance Festival was the first of two this weekend in Kate Weare Company’s third visit to the festival since the company’s inception a decade ago.

Internationally recognized as a groundbreaking choreographer, Weare has received awards including Guggenheim and Princess Grace fellowships, she has taught at such venues as Princeton University and Juilliard and her choreography has been commissioned by companies throughout the world.

The main event of this year’s Bates program was “Marksman,” a new piece co-commissioned by The Joyce Theater and American Dance Festival, and only performed once before, earlier this summer.

The dance was inspired by Weare’s fascination with “Zen in the Art of Archery,” by Eugen Herrigel. As Weare explains in her choreographer’s statement, “The book articulates the most beautiful concept of forming while being formed, playing while being played, aiming while being aimed.”

In front of a Zen-inspired backdrop of waves atop giant dark panels, and wearing Asian-style costumes of wide capri trousers and flowing white shirts, the dancers of “Marksman” demonstrate the interweaving of actor and acted-upon suggested by Herrigel’s philosophical work.

Dancers interact constantly, repeatedly inspired by or recoiling from a touch or gesture and sometimes moving like puppets on strings. Their roles are fluid, not assigned, so that in one moment one dancer is causing the movement of another, but in the next movement that dancer could be the one receiving the impact.

The choreography also includes thematic repetition of a triangular shape made by dancers’ arms, like a bow, and single arms purposefully outstretched like arrows being aimed.

Weare’s background in and affection for martial arts show up in this piece, as in others, with more or less subtle evocations in movement, tone and costuming. Dancers often spar or kick, while at other times they appear lost in individually meditative bodily convolutions.

There is constant, supersaturated motion, and occasions of unison among partners or the ensemble are so infrequent that the unrelenting counterpoint is virtually untraceable. Even the costumes seem part of the choreography, with flowing shirttails continuing a movement after the body has moved on to the next.

Whatever its intent, the effect of “Marksman” is abnormal, in a fascinating way. It’s like a post-apocalyptic world in which, with our cherished technology and customs stripped, people move in a neo-primitive society of intimacy and aggression that is familiarly human, yet foreign and somehow more modern than ours.

In simple clothing that simultaneously glows and looks ragged, dancers’ elegant, often-disjointed movement brings out repeatedly unexpected shapes, in a subtle, chronic divergence from the norm.

Feet are neither flexed nor pointed, legs and ankles are turned neither in nor out, legs are raised in ways that suggest slightly different hip construction.

The music, an original score by Curtis Robert Macdonald, is similarly earthy while otherworldly. It’s as if our musical instruments and the urge to create with them existed while our theory and written works did not, leaving musicians to reinvent from a different perspective and sensibility.

Integral to the score is a signature instrument for this company: the dancers’ breath. Panting and the rhythmic deep inhaling and exhaling of controlled breathing punctuate spaces of silence throughout Weare’s work.

Kate Weare Company stands as an example of what the Bates Dance Festival is all about: a cutting-edge choreographer and a troupe of breathtaking artist-athletes offering both the festival’s student dancers and its audiences a taste of something new.

Jennifer Brewer is a Portland-based freelance writer.

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Religion Calendar Sat, 30 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Buddhist Meditation. Weekly class to learn about the principles of Tibetan Buddhist meditation and philosophy. This class is not a religious one and everyone is welcome. Class will begin with a short lecture, followed by guided meditation, group discussion and more meditation. $8 suggested donation, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 20 Union St., Hallowell, 623-3041, 5:30-6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday Bible study with Father Jeff Monroe. Open discussion. West Scarborough United Methodist Church, 656 Route 1, Scarborough,, 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Dances of Universal Peace, pairing chants from world spiritual traditions with simple circle dances. $5 donation, Ocean Park Memorial Library lawn (in case of rain, Jakeman Hall, 14 Temple Ave., across the street) 11 Temple Ave., Ocean Park,, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s My Death.” Screening of 2011 film that explores both sides of the lives of the terminally ill. Discussion hosted by Valerie Lovelace. Free. First Universalist Church, Yarmouth, 97 Main St., Yarmouth,, 6-9 p.m. Thursday.

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

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Civil War vet’s ashes to wind their way back home to Maine Sat, 30 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Jewett Williams was 21 years old in 1864 when the reach of the Civil War found him in Hodgdon, a smudge of a town along the Canadian border in Aroostook County.

Drafted and mustered, Williams joined the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and soon found himself on the front lines of the war, now in its final throes. He survived eight major battles, and was present when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

But Williams’ story – and his role in one of the most celebrated units of the Civil War – was nearly lost forever until a Maine historian stumbled across records last year that showed he died alone in an Oregon mental institution in 1922, his body cremated and then forgotten for nearly a century.

“They cremated the remains, put him on a shelf, and waited for the family to pick it up, and no one did,” said Thomas Desjardin, former Maine education commissioner and a longtime Civil War historian who has spent 40 years studying the 20th Maine and its soldiers.

Now, with the help of Desjardin and several private citizens and public officials, Williams’ ashes will be returned to the Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, where he will finally rest beside his fellow soldiers.

Williams’ remains will wind their way across the country courtesy of the Patriot Guard Riders, a national volunteer group of motorcyclists who help honor fallen soldiers. The remains will be handed off to members of the Oregon chapter, who will ferry Williams’ remains east, passing them from one state’s club to the next.

“It’s kind of a Pony Express transfer,” said Mike Edgecomb, the leader of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders.

The route is being finalized, but the plan calls for Edgecomb to meet up with Williams’ remains in Appomattox before heading north. The remains are expected to arrive around Aug. 22. An interment ceremony, complete with a Civil War-era color guard, is planned for Sept. 17.

Williams also will get a send-off ceremony Monday morning at the Oregon State Hospital Memorial in Salem, with Civil War re-enactors, before his remains are transferred to the Patriot Guard Riders.

The journey to get Williams home has taken 18 months of on-again, off-again planning since Desjardin discovered Williams’ connection to Maine in 2015. At the time, Desjardin was also serving as the acting education commissioner, and in his spare time was researching a book on the lives of 20th Maine soldiers, methodically combing old records to pinpoint where each of the unit’s 1,500 soldiers was buried.

Unknown to Desjardin, health officials in Oregon already had been doing plenty of historical scouring of their own, trying to find the rightful homes for the remains of nearly 3,500 patients who had died at the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane.

In 2004, hospital staff stumbled onto a cache of nearly 3,500 copper urns secreted away in a locked shed on the hospital grounds. Each urn contained the ashes of former patients who had never received proper burial.

Urns containing ashes of patients who died at the Oregon State Hospital sit on the shelves decades later. The Patriot Guard Riders will ferry Jewett Williams' ashes back to Maine.

Urns containing ashes of patients who died at the Oregon State Hospital sit on the shelves decades later. The Patriot Guard Riders will ferry Jewett Williams’ ashes back to Maine. Rob Finch/The Oregonian

The discovery was a bombshell, and stood as a symbol of the longstanding marginalization and mistreatment of the mentally ill, sparking Oregon to invest millions of dollars into improving care for the mentally ill. The Oregonian newspaper won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for editorials about abuses that took place in the mental hospital.

“It was a gut-check moment, a watershed moment for reform of the hospital,” said Tyler Franke, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.

Oregon state lawmakers also began the slow, painstaking process of cataloging and taking inventory of the names and identities of the deceased.

Franke said officials are still working their way through all the remains to search for surviving relatives, but the process has been difficult.

Oregon-based researchers assembled a history of Williams’ life, including details of his military service with the 20th Maine and his family life, which included two marriages and a post-war life spent steadily moving west.

After the war, Williams mustered out in Portland on July 16, 1865.

He returned to Aroostook County and married a woman named Emma, but they divorced in 1871. That same year, Williams moved to Minnesota and married again, this time to Nora Carey, in Minneapolis.

Together they had six children, and by 1885, had settled in Brainerd, Minnesota.

That marriage also didn’t last, and by 1889, Nora was listed as a “widow” in the city directory of St. Paul, but the couple apparently reunited and moved to Washington state by 1892.

“He kept moving to where the land was cheap and where population was growing,” Desjardin said. “This happened with a lot of men. They saw Virginia (where) the fields are flat and not full of rocks.”

But Williams’ family life frayed once again, according to the 1900 census, which showed he was working part time as a carpenter and renting out rooms to several boarders. His wife was listed as living about 9 miles away.

By 1919, Williams had apparently moved to Oregon, and was among a group of Civil War veterans who spoke at schools in the Portland area, local newspapers reported at the time.

In 1920, at the time of the census, Williams was estranged from his wife and was listed as a widower in Portland. He told census-takers that he worked as a common laborer, even at 75.

Two years later, on April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to what was then called the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem. The “reason for insanity” was listed as senility.

A hospital photograph shows him bearded and with an eye patch, his name and a number scratched into the print.

He died at the hospital two months later at the age of 78, cremated and forgotten for nearly 90 years.

“He outlived everyone (in his family), as far as we can determine,” Desjardin said. “For all we know, he never wanted to come back to Maine. He left after the war and never came back.”

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Reflections: Heaven-sent lessons also apply outside of writers’ group Sat, 30 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 A decade ago, when I began to seriously pursue my dream of writing books for adults and children, a friend invited me to join a Bath area writers’ group. One of the first gatherings I attended was at the Starlight Cafe, a breakfast grill and sandwich nook.

Over time, a variety of people came and went. The location changed too, but for many years a core group of us met every two weeks in a conference room at the Patten Free Library. We had more fun than anyone should have in a library.

Many nights our laughter rang down the stairwell to the front desk and, likely, out the doors to the parking lot beyond.

Our members included an editor, a loan officer, a beautician, a therapist, a retired newspaper columnist, a market research analyst, a school aide, a college dance instructor and an artist. Between bouts of laughter, we took turns reading aloud whatever project we happened to be working on, sharing feedback and encouragement.

But the encouragement didn’t stop with the writing. When a member’s husband became sick, we listened and empathized. When two had books published and another an essay printed in The New York Times, we celebrated. When my husband and I adopted our daughter from a children’s home in Uganda, friends from the group donated funds and cheered us on. In time, differing schedules put an end to our regular meetings, but we still get together several times a year.

Our ages cover many decades, and we have our differences. But what draws us together is more than what keeps us apart: a genuine desire to support one another and to see each other succeed. As I think of the violent events that have rocked our country and world in recent weeks, I wonder, can we not all do the same?

The same week as the police shooting in Dallas and terrorist attack on Nice, this diverse group of women gathered at my house for tea to celebrate the upcoming publication of my first memoir, which I began with encouragement from these dear friends. Judy brought flowers from her garden; Jeanette, a plate of cookies from her retirement home; Lisa, rushing from work, quiches from a local cafe; Bonnie, two glittering pieces of crystal from her own collection.

Each brought what they had – these tokens of love – and we gathered around a single table to catch up, to laugh, and to eat hot milk cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Only after they’d left, did I see the inscription on Bonnie’s gift bag, “If we love one another, God lives in us.”

It was from the same Bible passage that I’d shared with the women’s group at my little Richmond church two weeks before, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” I John 4:7-8 (NLT).

Or as has also been said, although the attribution is uncertain, “The most important verse in the Bible is, ‘God is love.’ All the rest is commentary.”

So, here we sit, hearing the news each day of another police shooting, this one in Baton Rouge, of a terrorist attack on a German train. It’s easy to feel isolated and scared, to latch the doors of our houses and our hearts, fearing what may come next.

Yes, there is real evil in this world, and it must be stopped.

But you and me? What if we pledged to support one another despite our differences? To give feedback and encouragement. To listen and empathize. To celebrate the good and cheer one another on. What if we each brought the gifts we had, to share a cup of tea around a single table?

We might be surprised at the friendships that develop, the successes that follow and the lives that are transformed by the love of God. Who knows? We might even have fun.

Meadow Rue Merrill writes and reflects on God’s presence in her life from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Her memoir, “Redeeming Ruth,” releases in May 2017. Find her at

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13 of the best things to do this weekend Sat, 30 Jul 2016 03:29:09 +0000 0, 30 Jul 2016 08:30:03 +0000 Readfield’s 92-year-old cyclist has smiles to go Sat, 30 Jul 2016 01:22:19 +0000 READFIELD — Summer resident Alfred Jacobs, 92, climbs mountains, bikes to the post office and swims in Lovejoy Pond.

He follows the sun and the warmth: summers in Maine, winters in Puerto Rico, and shoulder seasons in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

This past week was a little too hot for a pedal to the Readfield post office or to bike the 7 or 8 miles around the pond, so Jacobs took a few turns on his mountain bike on the gravel road at the former Camp Menatoma, where he has owned the Chipmunk cabin since 1984.

“I put quite a few miles on this old fellow,” Jacobs said, taking off his bicycle helmet and giving the wide, comfortable-looking bike seat a pat before storing the bike near the stairs to the rustic log cabin. “I used to ride to Mount Vernon, but now it’s a little too far.”

Jacobs joined the Army in World War II from Pennsylvania, where he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a tinsmith’s helper. He served in New Guinea and the Philippines with the 795th Military Police Battalion in 1944-45. He recalls being required to take shelter in the Hong Kong Bank building in Manila and the changeover there from driving on the left to driving on the right with the arrival of U.S. military vehicles.

After the war, Jacobs, like millions of other veterans, went to college on the GI Bill. He graduated from the Lowell State College in Lowell, Massachusetts, later known as the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and went on to teach music in Massachusetts and later for 22 years on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, retiring from there in 1984.

“I still get a pension from the Virgin Islands government,” Jacobs said.

Hurricane Hugo, which devastated much of St. Croix in September 1989, tore the roof and jalousie windows off the Jacobses’ St. Croix hillside home while they were in Maine and brought an end to the Jacobses’ island life. They then bought a home in Stuart, Florida, not far from West Palm Beach, for their winter home, and they continued to summer in Maine.

Earlier this week, he and his two sons spent a day climbing Black Cap Mountain in Conway, New Hampshire. That was Jacobs’ third ascent this year.

Mountain climbing is one of Jacobs’ passions, and he has a collection of photos showing him atop a number of mountains. One pictures a younger Jacobs with an even younger Milton Wright atop Mount Katahdin. Jacobs points to Wright’s photo, saying, “He introduced me to most of the mountains.”

Jacobs last ascended Mount Katahdin via Cathedral Trail at age 71.

“I couldn’t do it now,” he said.

He climbed Doubletop Mountain, also in Baxter State Park, at age 80. In his late 60s, 70s and 80s, he bagged some 20 mountains a year.

A back problem prevents Jacobs from doing too much strenuous activity these days, but he likes to sweep the pine needles off his front steps, and he used a lopper and a weed-whacker to clear out the weeds and brush from the exterior of the nearby split-log laundry building. He and others share some of the work around the various community buildings.

Everyone says hi to Jacobs as he walks along the pine needle-covered path to the shared waterfront to point out his usual swimming route.

“He’s the best; he bikes almost every day,” said Beth Green, who has had a camp near Jacobs’ for 20 years.

“The neighbors kind of keep an eye on me,” Jacobs said. “I’m the oldest one in the whole place.”

There are more than 20 cabins in the former boys’ camp. Jacobs and his wife, Sally, who died in 2009, bought the cabin after seeing an advertisement for it in The Christian Science Monitor.

Jacobs loves summering in Maine.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “I think Maine’s got so much beauty.”

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

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Powerball prize worth $478 million Sat, 30 Jul 2016 01:00:10 +0000 DES MOINES, Iowa — Powerball players will have a shot at the nation’s eighth-largest lottery jackpot this weekend, but they’ll face long odds that have led to nearly three months without a winner.

Anyone who matches all five balls and red Powerball on Saturday night could win $478 million paid over 29 years or opt for a $330.6 million lump-sum cash prize.

No one has matched all the numbers since the May 7 drawing, when a New Jersey family won a $429.6 million prize. Drawings are held twice a week, and every one that passes without a winner means the prize grows larger, fed by the purchase of more $2 tickets.

The record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot was won in January by players in California, Florida and Tennessee.

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Donation of antique gun triggers much speculation Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:41:59 +0000 WATERVILLE — After nearly 50 years and a move across several states, Bill Lessard was still holding on to an 1870s double-barrel shotgun he found in the former C.F. Hathaway Co. shirt factory on Appleton Street.

Lessard was 18 years old when he found the gun in a window well of the factory while doing construction on the building. The shirt factory had been in the downtown location before moving to its final home, the Lockwood Mill on Water Street, in the 1950s.

Lessard was featured in the Morning Sentinel in 1970 with the antique and has held on to the shotgun over the years. On Thursday, Lessard, now of New Bern, North Carolina, donated it to the Redington Museum during a visit to Waterville.

“I asked my son Joseph (if) it was all right with him if I donated it to the museum, and he said, ‘Yeah, that belongs in Waterville. It doesn’t belong in eastern North Carolina,’ ” said Lessard, 64. “That was his conclusion and it was easily mine as well.”

The make and model of the gun isn’t clear and little is known about the gun’s history. But the museum will be looking into those questions, said Bryan Finnemore, resident caretaker for the Redington Museum, a historic Silver Street home containing artifacts related to the region’s history. They do know that the gun is of German origin – something that Finnemore said Friday was not unusual for the turn of the 19th century – and dates to the late 1800s.

“It’s unique in and of itself,” Finnemore said. “We don’t get to see a lot like that because they’re all made differently now. As far as a shotgun goes, we don’t have anything like that from the late 1800s. It’s a unique piece for us.”

The story of how the gun ended up in a Hathaway building window well is unknown, but Lessard and Finnemore speculated that it might have used to commit a crime.

“It’s like somebody was stashing it so it wouldn’t be found,” Finnemore said. “The fact that it was tossed in a window well, it wasn’t like somebody went into the building and tried to hide it. It was more of a stash-on-the-run type thing and that was a convenient place. My assumption is it was used in probably a robbery or a hold-up or something like that.”

The stock of the gun has been sawed off, which according to the 1970 Sentinel article, indicated that it was likely last used as a handgun.

“When I dug it up, I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it was a chunk of steel of something,” Lessard said. “It took me a while to clean it before I realized it was a sawed-off shotgun.”

Lessard said he had hoped in 1970 that someone would come forward with information about the gun, but so far has heard nothing. By returning it to Waterville, he said, he hopes that maybe now its history finally can be uncovered.

“I imagine there will be some sleuths digging,” he said. “There was no internet in the 1970s. Today, one would think you could more easily go back in history and see. Maybe there was a bank robbery that they caught the suspect but never found the gun. Maybe that’s the answer.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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Fiddling fans will be there for the pickin’ Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:28:40 +0000 The Littlefield family continues its musical tradition Sunday with the 44th annual East Benton Fiddlers Convention and Contest on the family farm at 270 Richards Road, between East Benton Road and Albion Road.

Event organizer Chuck Littlefield, 54, said the gates open at 10 a.m. with a fiddle showcase featuring Greg Boardman and Ellen Gawler showing the different ways of playing the fiddle.

“If people want to bring a fiddle and learn how to play or just come in and listen to the music, they can do that,” said Littlefield, who has run the show since her mother, Shirley Littlefield, died in 2004. “After that we’ll have the fiddle contest at 1 p.m.”

Littlefield said featured performers this year include Country Choir, Half Moon Jug Band, Eric and Maisie and the East Benton Jug Band, which is made up of anyone who wants to take the stage and join in.

There also will be a craft tent where children can make their own instruments, learn a song and perform it on stage. The show runs until 7:30 p.m., with food and ice cream available. Glass bottles and dogs are not allowed at the festival.

There also will be what Chuck calls “field pickin’,” when anyone can come and play in the parking lot, where rough camping also is available Saturday night.

“This is our 44th year and the last 12 without her,” she said of her mother, Shirley who died at 76.

The East Benton Fiddlers Convention and Contest founded in 1972 in a pasture at the Littlefield Farm. Shirley Littlefield, who worked as a housekeeper at a Colby College dorm in Waterville, loved to invite students to visit and started the festival from a gathering of musicians they invited to the farm.

She and her husband, Red, started the convention together and ran it together until his death in 1989. The event drew fans from all over the world who came to listen to premier traditional folk fiddle and bluegrass music.

Admission costs $10 at the gate, which includes parking and camping.

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

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Social media star hospitalized after dirt bike accident Fri, 29 Jul 2016 23:57:24 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Internet celebrity and former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Hayes Grier is recovering after a dirt bike accident.

A spokeswoman for the 16-year-old social media star says Hayes is “under great care” at a hospital in North Carolina.

Grier’s spokeswoman, Natalie Geday, said he suffered a concussion, broken rib, bruised lung and multiple skin lacerations. Grier appeared in the 21st edition of the ABC ballroom competition “Dancing with the Stars.” He has over 14 million followers across Facebook, Vine, Instagram and YouTube.

Variety reported July 18 that Grier is scheduled to appear a streaming comedy series.

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Harry Potter play hype works magic on fans Fri, 29 Jul 2016 23:48:20 +0000 LONDON — There are fans with wands and wizard costumes, midnight book parties and throngs of excited muggles. Harry Potter’s magic is back.

Nine years after J.K. Rowling’s final novel about the boy wizard, Harry has returned, on the stage and the page – and he’s still producing commercial alchemy.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ,” a two-part stage drama that picks up 19 years after the novels ended, has its gala opening Saturday at London’s Palace Theatre. It’s already a hit. Although producers won’t release ticket sales figures, the show is largely sold out through December 2017; another 250,000 tickets will go on sale Aug. 4.

“It is event theater in the truest sense,” said theater commentator Terri Paddock, who co-founded stage website MyTheatreMates. “You can’t turn up at the Palace Theatre and not get caught up in the excitement. There is such a buzz: passers-by stopping and staring … children with their capes and wands and wizard excitement.”

It is not just the theater that is seeing a Potter-related boom. Booksellers expect a bonanza when the script is published Sunday.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 19:48:20 +0000
Pope makes pilgrimage to Nazi death camp Fri, 29 Jul 2016 23:42:05 +0000 OSWIECIM, Poland — Pope Francis paid a somber visit in silence to the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Friday, with his only public comment a guest book entry begging God “forgiveness for so much cruelty.”

The Argentine-born pontiff made an early morning pilgrimage to the place where Adolf Hitler’s forces killed more than 1 million people, most of them Jews, during World War II.

Francis entered the camp on foot, walking slowly in his white robes beneath the notorious gate at Auschwitz that bears the cynical words “Arbeit Macht Frei (Work sets you free).”

After meeting briefly with 11 death camp survivors, he moved on to nearby Birkenau, a sprawling complex where people were murdered in factory-like fashion in its gas chambers. There he greeted 25 Holocaust rescuers.

Altogether, it was a deeply contemplative and private visit of nearly two hours that Francis passed in total silence, except for a few words he exchanged with the survivors and rescuers.

Vatican and Polish church officials explained that Francis wanted to express his sorrow in silence at the site, mourning the victims in quiet prayer and meditation.

However, he did express his feelings, writing in the Auschwitz memorial’s guest book in Spanish: “Lord, have mercy on your people! Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty!” He then signed with his name in Latin, “Franciscus” and added the date “29.7.2016.”

Francis is the first pope to visit Auschwitz who did not himself live through the brutality of World War II on Europe’s soil.

Both of his predecessors had a personal or historical connection to the site. St. John Paul II, born in Poland, witnessed the unspeakable suffering inflicted on his nation during the German occupation during the war. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, who visited in 2006, was a German who served in the Hitler Youth for a time as a teenager.

Francis prayed silently for more than 15 minutes before greeting survivors, one by one, shaking their hands and kissing them on the cheeks. He then carried a large white candle to the Death Wall, where prisoners at Auschwitz were executed.

At the dark underground prison cell that once housed St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who sacrificed his life to save that of a fellow prisoner who had a family, Francis prayed again. A few shafts from a tiny window were the only light cast on the pontiff.

He then traveled 2 miles to Birkenau, the vast satellite camp where the Nazis murdered Jews, Roma and others from across Europe.

Invited guests, among them camp survivors and Christian Poles who saved Jews, stood in respect as the pope arrived, his vehicle driving parallel to the rail tracks once used to transport victims to their deaths there.

]]> 1, 29 Jul 2016 19:42:05 +0000
Religious scholars reject Egypt’s move to standardize sermons Fri, 29 Jul 2016 23:25:26 +0000 CAIRO— In a rebuke to the Egyptian government, the top religious scholars of Egypt’s Al-Azhar have rejected new government measures to standardize Friday sermons, saying such a step would “freeze” the development of religious discourse.

The Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s most prominent institution, said in a statement that giving clerics pre-written Friday sermons would eventually “superficialize” religious clerics’ thinking.

The statement claims that, “The Imam will find himself unable to discuss, debate, and respond to (extremist) ideas and warn people of them.”

The standardized sermon initiative was launched by Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments – the government body regulating mosques and houses of worship – and has been criticized as a government move to tighten state control over religious discourse.

Earlier this month, Minister of Religious Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa gave the first-such scripted sermon.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 19:25:26 +0000
Thousands converge on Voodoo festival in Haiti Fri, 29 Jul 2016 22:43:08 +0000 PLAINE-DU-NORD, Haiti — A village in northern Haiti is transformed over two days each July into the spiritual center of the Voodoo religion.

Thousands of Haitians make their way to Plaine-du-Nord for the annual festival, riding for hours in packed buses or on the backs of overloaded motorbikes to celebrate a religion that is an integral part of life for many in this nation.

The pilgrims who trek to Plaine-du-Nord take ritual baths of mud, light candles and make offerings to the spirits. Voodoo evolved in the 17th century among African slaves and incorporates elements of the Roman Catholic faith that was forced upon them by French colonizers.

At Plaine-du-Nord, people pray and make offerings at the Catholic church of St. James, who is known as Ogoun Feraille and revered by followers of Voodoo. They then make a three-hour walk to the top of a mountain, near the country’s famed, 19th-century Citadel fortress, where St. James is believed to have once appeared.

This is one of two important Voodoo pilgrimages that take place in July in Haiti. The other is held at the cascading waterfalls of Saut d’Eau in central Haiti, where people gather and scrub their bodies with aromatic leaves and soap in a three-day festival. The faithful also converge on a nearby Catholic church to pray to the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, associated in the religion with the Voodoo goddess of Erzulie.

Some believe these festivals will ease their troubles in a country where hardship is nearly universal. Others make specific requests such as a winning lottery numbers or a cure for an illness. One man came with a list that included a car and a job.

Life in Haiti, where more than half the people are trying to survive on less than $2 a day, has always been difficult, but these are particularly tough times. The rising U.S. dollar has made high inflation worse and driven up the price of basic goods that were already expensive. The country is also dealing with another period of political uncertainty, struggling to resolve a political impasse and elect a president after last year’s election was declared invalid because of fraud.

Amid it all, an Associated Press photographer at Plaine-du-Nord on July 23-24 heard one young woman praying for escape from Haiti.

“In a country where we have no hope in our government, oh St. James, please help me find a visa to leave the country to have a better life,” she said, weeping as she lit a candle.

]]> 0, 29 Jul 2016 18:43:08 +0000
Rare, foul-smelling ‘corpse flower’ blooms in New York City Fri, 29 Jul 2016 16:26:05 +0000 NEW YORK — A foul smelling plant, Amorphophallus titanum, known as the “corpse flower” is finally blooming at the New York Botanical Garden in New York City.

The rare blooming began Thursday afternoon after more than 10 years of growth. It’s native to Sumatra’s equatorial rain forests, and emits an odor like rotting flesh while it’s briefly in bloom.

It’s one of the largest flowers on earth and can reach between 6 and 12 feet in height. It emits the stench to attract pollinators and its red interior reinforces the smell with a meat-like color.

The bloom at its peak only lasts about 24 to 36 hours — and it could be years before the flower blooms again.

]]> 1, 29 Jul 2016 15:56:21 +0000 weekend (not crazy hot, a shower or two) weather Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:35:33 +0000 0, 29 Jul 2016 11:35:33 +0000 13 things to do this weekend in Maine Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:05 +0000 0, 29 Jul 2016 17:36:49 +0000 Wendy Turner’s lifelong love affair with Maine Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:02 +0000 0, 29 Jul 2016 17:35:58 +0000 Van Susteren won’t decry, defend Ailes Fri, 29 Jul 2016 02:23:11 +0000 NEW YORK — Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren is clarifying remarks she made about ousted boss Roger Ailes, saying she didn’t intend to defend or condemn him when she gave interviews after former colleague Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

In a statement posted on her website and subsequent email interview Thursday, Van Susteren said she had not personally seen Ailes harass anyone or heard of any harassment involving other women at Fox. The lawyer and host of a 7 p.m. weeknight show works out of Washington, while Fox’s main office is in New York.

She was among a number of Fox employees, including Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who spoke favorably of their boss in the immediate aftermath of Carlson’s lawsuit, in which the former Fox anchor charged that her career had been sabotaged because she didn’t have sex with Ailes.

“I did not defend Roger Ailes nor did I condemn him,” Van Susteren wrote on her website. “I just stated what I knew or did not know. Period.”

Ailes has denied the allegations, but quit last week after other women told investigators working for Fox’s corporate parent that they too had been sexually harassed.

“If I had known of any sexual harassment, I would not keep quiet as I would not want other people hurt by my silence,” Van Susteren said. “You all know me – I speak up. I do not know if that is what happened but other people at Fox now say they knew about it. I did not.”

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Novel by Michael Crichton, who died in 2008, to be released next year Thu, 28 Jul 2016 22:12:25 +0000 NEW YORK — A completed and unpublished Michael Crichton novel, recently discovered by his widow, is coming out next year.

HarperCollins Publishers told The Associated Press on Thursday that “Dragon Teeth” is scheduled for May 2017. According to HarperCollins, the book is based on the rivalry between 19th century paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh as both explored fossils in the American West.

“The story unfolds through the adventures of a young fictional character named William Johnson who is apprenticed first to one, then to the other and not only makes discoveries of historic proportion, but transforms into an inspiring hero only Crichton could have imagined,” the publisher said. “Known for his meticulous research, Crichton uses Marsh and Copes’ heated competition during the ‘Bone Wars,’ the golden age of American fossil hunting, as the basis for a thrilling story set in the wilds of the American West.”

Sherri Crichton found the book in her late husband’s archives and thinks it was inspired by his correspondence with Professor Edwin H. Colbert, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History.

“When I came across the ‘Dragon Teeth’ manuscript in the files, I was immediately captivated,” she said in a statement. “It has Michael’s voice, his love of history, research and science all dynamically woven into an epic tale.”

Michael Crichton, known for such blockbusters as “Jurassic Park” and “Rising Sun,” died in 2008 at age 66. The following year, HarperCollins released “Pirate Latitudes,” which an assistant found on his computer after his death. Crichton’s “Micro,” based on an unfinished book that was completed by “The Hot Zone” author Richard Preston, came out in 2011.

According to HarperCollins, “Dragon Teeth” will be published without additional writing or major editing.

]]> 0, 28 Jul 2016 20:23:41 +0000
New Bedford museum offers key to hunting down whaling ancestors Thu, 28 Jul 2016 19:54:17 +0000 BOSTON – A digital list of the tens of thousands of men who embarked on whaling voyages out of New Bedford, from 10-year-old boys to a 70-year-old sailor who drank himself to death in South Africa, is a valuable resource for anyone researching their family’s seafaring past. Just be warned: You might not like what you find.

One man who found an ancestor’s name in the database went to the ship’s logbook for more information and got quite a shock, said Mark Procknik, the librarian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which compiled the list of more than 127,000 men who set sail on whaler ships from 1809 until 1927.

A group tours the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass., last year.

A group tours the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass., last year. Associated Press/Stephan Savoia

When the ship made a stop at Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, someone sabotaged the vessel by boring holes in the hull. It turns out the villain was an ancestor.

“They threw him in irons, and when the ship reached Peru, they threw him off,” Procknik said.

Some people who for years have heard stories about an ancestor who was a captain on a whaling vessel have searched the database only to find out that their forebear was a greenhand, the lowest rank on board, said Judith Lund, a historian and author who led a platoon of volunteers in compiling the database.

The searchable list includes the sailor’s name, age, job title, home state or country, and in some cases notes physical characteristics, including skin and hair color. It lists men from 33 states, two U.S. territories and more than 100 foreign nations.

It illustrates what Herman Melville so eloquently described in “Moby-Dick” of a city teeming with the strangest characters from all corners of the globe.

Melville writes of “the Feegeeans, Tongatobooarrs, Erromanggoans, Pannangians, and Brighggians,” and “the wild specimens of the whaling-craft which unheeded reel about the streets.”

“Imagine coming to this little town in the middle of the 19th century and seeing all these strange people,” Lund said.

Sometimes the list contains tidbits of information that shed more light on the life – or death – of a sailor.

New Bedford Whaling Museum senior maritime historian Michael Dyer combs through the racks of whaling vessel log books in New Bedford, Mass.

New Bedford Whaling Museum senior maritime historian Michael Dyer combs through the racks of whaling vessel log books in New Bedford, Mass. Associated Press/Stephan Savoia

Charles Harmond, of Wareham, was 10 years old when joined the crew of the George Washington in 1832. H. Carleston, of New Bedford, was 70 when he embarked on the Charles W. Morgan in 1908. He never made it home. “Died at Durban after becoming intoxicated,” the records note.

Some crewmen are listed under a single name, such as Chevelor, who joined the crew of the Java in 1841 and deserted the following year at Sandwich Island – what we now call Hawaii.

And yes, Melville is in the database, although the information is scant. All the records show is that he set sail on the Acushnet in 1841 as a greenhand.

The archive, also valuable to genealogists, anthropologists and sociologists, is actually a combination of a project that began years ago at the New Bedford Free Public Library and a more recent museum project, said Michael Lapides, the museum’s director of digital initiatives.

It’s based on handwritten customs documents that were in turn copied by the chaplains of the New Bedford Port Society. The original records were written by customs officers who may not have been accomplished spellers and who got the information from seamen who may not have been certain of how to spell their own names.

Therefore, the way a family spells their name today may not be how it is spelled in the database. In fact, a single sailor’s name may have been spelled different ways if he went on multiple voyages.

The information was kept because the men often never returned, Procknik said.

“There were deaths on every voyage, and desertion was rampant,” he said, noting that even Melville deserted.

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Review: Popularity of ‘Carmen’ demands more of PORTopera Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:36:21 +0000 It seems odd to have an opera company (or even, as it is sometimes called, a festival) with a name, a logo, an artistic staff and a board of directors, but no schedule to speak of. PORTopera presents a single, large production (and a chamber opera) in a season that runs about two weeks. Surely the minimum requirement for a company with a name should be three full productions.

Judging from the crowd at the company’s production of Bizet’s “Carmen,” which opened Wednesday evening at Merrill Auditorium (and closes on Friday), there appears to be an enthusiastic audience for opera in Portland. Are all those listeners satisfied with a single, annual work? And are they truly content to devote their annual opera night solely to warhorses – “Tosca” last year, “Carmen” this year (and for the third time in 22 seasons), and “La Traviata” scheduled for next year?

There is a vibrant world of contemporary opera out there, but at the pace PORTopera works, Portland is not likely to hear them until they’re well past their sell-by dates. This is a board issue, really: PORTopera’s estimable artistic director, Dona D. Vaughn, has a resume rich in contemporary opera and the connections to bring accomplished young singers to the company. But presenting a balanced season, with new and old works, means raising the money for at least four or five productions a year, and that’s the board’s job.

Maybe things are looking up. Unlike last year’s “Tosca,” which was virtually a concert reading, with a few props and the orchestra on the stage, “Carmen” was presented as a full-fledged production, with spare but serviceable sets by Judy Gailen and costumes by Millie Hiibel.

Everyone knows “Carmen,” right? It’s the 1875 shocker about a soldier, Don José, who forsakes his small-town sweetheart, Micaëla, as soon as he meets Carmen, a bewitching gypsy who has a factory job making smokable carcinogens and who is part of a smuggling gang on the side. José, out of his depths in Carmen’s world, compensates with a propensity for violence toward women, or at least toward Carmen, whose taste in men is unfortunate: Besides José, who knifes her to death (surely, at this point, that’s not a spoiler), she is attracted to the toreador Escamillo, whose job is dressing up in a cape and slaughtering bulls after horse-riding confederates torture them with pointed sticks. Apart from sweet little Micaëla, no one here is very likeable.

That said, Bizet’s opera does have more than its fair share of crowd-pleasing arias, duets, ensembles, choruses and orchestral flourishes. And Maya Lahyani, the mezzo-soprano who sang the title role, brings both vocal suppleness and an alluring stage presence to the production, in healthy masure. Her two first-act showpieces, the “Habanera” and “Sequidilla,” were magnificently sultry, and her account of the dark, second act card aria, “En vain pour éviter,” touched on Carmen’s tragic side without overstating it.

Lahyani dominates her scenes, which is fine, but a more balanced cast would be finer. Adam Diegel’s flexible tenor is a bit light for Don José, but he had some lovely moments – most notably his quietly passionate “Flower Song,” in Act II. Dramatically, he seemed unable to decide what to do with himself. José is confused and conflicted, but he’s also a soldier with a murderous jealous streak – not the wimpy sad sack that Diegel made him. You wanted Lahyani to channel Cher in “Moonstruck,” to slap Diegel across the face and yell, “Snap out of it!”

Edward Parks played Escamillo as an urbane bon vivant, and if his “Toreador Song” seemed slightly underpowered at first, Parks picked up energy as he proceeded, and gave strong performances in the third and fourth acts, particularly in “Si tu m’aimes, Carmen,” his final love duet with Carmen.

Amanda Woodbury’s Micaëla evolved similarly – oddly distant in Act I, but moving and beautifully rounded in “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante,” her third act meditation on saving José from his life of ruin.

“Carmen” is a populous opera, and there were strong contributions from singers in smaller roles, among them Kenneth Kellogg (Zuniga), Jorelle Williams (Moralès), Maeve Höglund (Frasquita) and Sahoko Sato (Mercédès). The company’s choir and children’s choir also did fine work, as did the orchestra, led by Stephen Lord.

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

Twitter: kozinn

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PORTopera’s ‘Carmen’ is tough as nails Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:24:34 +0000 0, 28 Jul 2016 13:04:40 +0000 Bradley Cooper’s DNC appearance irks conservatives Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:02:15 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Bradley Cooper’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention has irked some conservative fans of the actor’s portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in 2014’s “American Sniper.”

Cooper was spotted by TV cameras Wednesday night seated at the meeting in Philadelphia alongside his Russian model girlfriend, Irina Shayk.

Some Twitter users say they plan to boycott Cooper’s future films over his presence at the convention. Another commented that they thought his experience playing Kyle would have rubbed off on him.

The complaints have been mocked by others who say Cooper was simply acting a role when playing Kyle and conservatives shouldn’t be surprised.

Cooper earned an Oscar nomination for “American Sniper,” which became a blockbuster thanks in part to an enthusiastic reception among conservatives moviegoers.

Cooper was born and raised in Philadelphia.

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Cast of ‘Big Bang’ films PSA after fan dies of skin cancer Wed, 27 Jul 2016 23:53:34 +0000 TOWSON, Md. —The cast of CBS’s hit comedy show “The Big Bang Theory” has filmed a public service announcement to raise awareness about skin cancer after learning of the death of a young Maryland fan.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the video features the cast reminding young fans to have their skin checked by a dermatologist for melanoma.

The cast filmed the spot after learning about 17-year-old Claire M. Wagonhurst, a Baltimore County high school student who died from adolescent melanoma in October 2014.

Her mother, Marianne Banister, said her daughter frequently watched “The Big Bang Theory” as the melanoma progressed.

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MaineToday Magazine: Alison Chase’s dance troupe performing outdoors Wed, 27 Jul 2016 22:19:50 +0000 0, 27 Jul 2016 18:20:28 +0000 Anonymous donor gives additional $450,000 for arts program in Portland schools Wed, 27 Jul 2016 22:12:39 +0000 An anonymous donor is giving $450,000 to provide three more years of arts funding to the Portland School District, bringing his total contributions to more than $1 million in seven years.

The money benefits a four-year-old program known as Culture Club, which aims to send each of the city’s roughly 7,000 students to attend programs at four participating arts institutions every year: The Portland Museum of Art, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Ovations and Portland Stage Company.

This spring, school and arts organization leaders warned that the funding for the program – fueled by $650,000 from the donor to that point – would run out at the end of the school year. The identity of the donor, who lives in Portland, is not known to school leaders, according to Kate Snyder, a former school board member who is now executive director of the Portland Education Foundation, which coordinates the Culture Club-Portland program.

“This donor has given us an incredible investment in student experience,” Snyder said, adding that the money is routed through a third party to mask the donor’s identity. “We are really happy.”

The donor will provide $200,000 for the 2016-17 school year, $150,000 in 2017-18, and $100,000 in 2018-19, she said.

Snyder said the foundation and a new steering committee for Culture Club will focus on raising additional funds for the program. Small donations of $1,000 or less have been received in recent months, but no significant fundraising has taken place.

Officials say they hope to expand the program to fulfill the goal of sending each child to each of the art institutions every year, which will take better coordination and more resources.

Ongoing evaluations of Culture Club participation show that it has been more successful in some areas than others. For example, far more elementary school students participate than high school students, and more students overall attend Portland Ovations and Portland Stage events than the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

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Portland native Elizabeth Strout on list for Man Booker Prize for fiction Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:05:19 +0000 Maine native Elizabeth Strout is among the contenders for one of the world’s most prestigious writing awards, Britain’s Man Booker Prize for fiction. Strout, who has won a Pulitzer Prize, is nominated for her novel “My Name is Lucy Barton,” which came out in January.

The book is among 13 on the longlist for the prize. South African novelist J.M. Coetzee also was nominated for “The Schooldays of Jesus.” The list includes four first-time novelists and five American authors. Six finalists will be announced Sept. 13, and the winner will be named Oct. 25.

Through a spokesperson, Strout issued a statement Wednesday morning saying she is pleased with making the longlist. “It’s an honor,” she said.

Strout is a Portland native, who grew up in Harpswell and Durham, New Hampshire. She graduated from Bates College and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for her Maine-based story collection “Olive Kitteridge.”

She and husband Jim Tierney live part time on the midcoast.

She spoke at Bowdoin College in 2014 at the invitation of Bowdoin professor Brock Clarke, a novelist. At the time, he called her “one of the best living American fiction writers.”

“She’s one of those sly writers who can work in different modes, different traditions, all within the same book,” he said.

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Man arrested after touching Justin Timberlake Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:06:38 +0000 RENO, Nev. — A California man was arrested for disorderly conduct after Justin Timberlake said he got too physical with him last weekend during the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Keith Weglin, 29, of Sacramento was booked into the county jail for the misdemeanor Saturday afternoon, posted $640 bail and was released late that night, Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell said.

TMZ first reported on a video showing someone’s hand slapping or touching Timberlake on the back of his neck as the singer walked through the gallery between holes during second-round play at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline about 60 miles south of Reno.

Timberlake could be heard saying, “Bro, why would you do that?”

Howell said that Weglin was arrested for his conduct as deputies were escorting him from the course “after the ‘touching’ of Timberlake.”

“It is not related to the contact he made with him,” he said in an email to AP.

Howell said later Tuesday that he considered it “a very minor event” but that he was issuing a news release “due to an undue amount of inquiries.”

Weglin allegedly was intoxicated when he “inappropriately touched” Timberlake’s face, Howell said in the statement.

“Mr. Timberlake declined to press charges and officers directed the fan to leave the premises,” he said, adding that Weglin “became disorderly and argumentative and was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct.”

Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Brian Filter said Tuesday that Weglin tentatively is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Oct. 10 in Stateline.

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British Council distances itself from rant against Prince George Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:56:10 +0000 LONDON — The British Council, which promotes British culture and values worldwide, said Tuesday it has started disciplinary procedures against an employee who went on a social media rant against Prince George.

The woman posted obscene comments about George – who just celebrated his third birthday – on Facebook, using expletives and calling the youngster an example of “white privilege living off public money.”

She also made fun of George’s facial expressions.

The council said in a statement that the comment was made on a “private social media account” and does not represent the council’s views and values.

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Craft breweries use beer tap handles to grab attention Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:35:19 +0000 RANDOM LAKE, Wis. — Cone heads, zombies, beards, bananas – they are some of the creative beer tap handles that have become a big business as the number of craft breweries has skyrocketed.

There were 2,033 craft breweries in 2011 compared to 4,144 last year, according to the Brewers Association. Maine is home to 83 craft brewers, and ranks sixth nationwide for breweries per capita.

AJS Tap Handles’ business has mirrored the breweries’ growth. They are expanding their 26,000-square-foot Random Lake, Wisconsin, office and factory by 16,500 square feet by December. Their 45 employees make about 500,000 handles out of resin, metal and wood a year.

A duck distinguishes a Central Waters Brewing Co. tap handle at Sugar Maple in Milwaukee.

A duck distinguishes a Central Waters Brewing Co. tap handle at Sugar Maple in Milwaukee. Associated Press/Carrie Antlfinger

“Sometimes the best ones are the simplest ones, that have a really memorable shape and really bold branding,” said Cole Krueger, AJS’ lead designer.

He also advises beer makers to go no wider than 3 inches and stay under a pound for the knob on draft beer faucets. That width is so they can fit in with other handles and for the bartenders, who have to be able to take them off quickly if a keg runs empty during a rush. And the weight is so the handles don’t break faucets, causing beer to gush everywhere.

It behooves breweries to stay within the guidelines, says Rob Zellermayer, beer buyer and bartender at Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, where they have 60 beers on tap.

“I need very little reason not to buy beer sometimes and if it’s the idea it might break a faucet unfortunately there are thousands of other breweries I can pick from,” he said.

While for some drinkers it’s still about the qualities of the beer and menu description, some drinkers such as Tyler Penrod do look at the handle for a first impression. He ordered his Surly Brewing Company’s “Overrated” recently at The Brass Tap in Greenfield based on the handle, which has silver “Surly” letters in black with a blue and white square top that says “Overrated.”

Bartender Catherine Pierluissi pulls a Ballast Point tap handle at Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, where there are at least 60 beers on tap.

Bartender Catherine Pierluissi pulls a Ballast Point tap handle at Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, where there are at least 60 beers on tap. Associated Press/Carrie Antlfinger

“I liked the industrial look of it. The name was appealing beyond the name of the brewery, which I’m familiar with, being “Overrated” made me curious,” he said.

Turns out, it wasn’t overrated.

“I like it a lot. I would definitely probably get it again,” he said.

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New third-party candidate, Cat in the Hat launches colorful campaign Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:54:44 +0000 SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Voters who think presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fall flat can now choose the Cat in the Hat.

The Cat announced his candidacy Tuesday in Springfield, Massachusetts, outside the childhood home of Dr. Seuss.

He also announced his running mates –Thing 1 and Thing 2.

The Republican newspaper reports the Cat said through a spokeswoman that he would be willing to release his tax returns.

The Cat’s platform includes working with Red Fish and Blue Fish to address ocean conservation, working with the Lorax on the environment and working with Sam I Am to address hunger.

The event served as the official launch for the new Random House book “One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote.”

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Concert review: JACK Quartet reinvents medieval works at Bowdoin festival Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:17:15 +0000 By ALLAN KOZINN

BRUNSWICK – The Bowdoin International Music Festival has been devoting its Monday evenings to performances by visiting string quartets, and on Monday the spotlight fell on the JACK Quartet, which in recent years has rivaled the Kronos and Arditti quartets for supremacy in the string quartet division of the new-music world. Its name is an acronym built of the initials of the founding players’ first names – violist John Pickford Richards, violinists Ari Streisfeld and Christopher Otto, and cellist Kevin McFarland.

But the group, which has performed together since 2007, is in transition at the moment: After a performance in Colorado on Aug. 5, Streisfeld is leaving the group to take a university position, and McFarlane is departing to spend more time composing. (Their successors are violinist Austin Wulliman and cellist Jay Campbell.)

If there is one program for which the mysterious title of this year’s festival – “(Re)invention” – makes sense, this is it. Interspersed among recent scores by Derek Bermel and Caroline Shaw, and a contemporary classic by Iannis Xenakis, the JACK players performed their own arrangements of works by the medieval composers Machaut and Rodericus, who flourished in the 14th century, and the eccentric Baroque master Gesualdo, who straddled the 16th and 17th centuries.

Because Machaut and Rodericus composed long before the harmonic conventions of Western classical music were established, their music has an otherworldly quality that makes them sound antique and modern at the same time. And Gesualdo embraced expressive dissonance so freely – and in ways so unlike those of his contemporaries – modern composers have regarded his as a kindred spirit.

All these ancient works were originally vocal music. In the case of the Machaut, arranged by Streisfeld, they were two French chansons and a Latin sacred piece, but if the association between text and music was inevitably lost, the quartet version put a welcome spotlight on the clarity of Machaut’s polyphony and the ingenuity of his rhythmic techniques. And although the quartet played largely without vibrato, in deference to the presumed style of Machaut’s time, the players took a thoroughly modern approach to tone color and dynamics.

They approached three Gesualdo madrigals (also arranged by Streisfeld) and Rodericus’ only known work, the intensely polyrhythmic “Angelorum Psalat” (arranged by Otto), in much the same way, giving these distant scores a lively, updated – you could say reinvented – sound.

There are direct links between these oldies and Shaw’s “Ritornello” (2012). Shaw, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013, wrote the piece for voices (specifically, her vocal group, Roomful of Teeth) and arranged it for quartet in 2013. And she based the score on harmonic progressions borrowed from the Baroque composer Monteverdi.

It is an extraordinary piece. Although Monteverdi’s music is rarely quoted directly (apart from a section that sounds like a sped-up version of the rising chords at the end of “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda”), Shaw’s allusions to his harmonic world give the piece a heavenly sound, magnified by her fluid approach to tonality and color. Rich-hued bowed writing gives way to vibrant pizzicato sections and then rumbling strumming and bent-note passages in a lengthy score full of pleasant surprises.

Bermel’s “Intonations” (2016) was written for the group and had its premiere last month at the New York Philharmonic biennial. Inspired by a rereading of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, “The Invisible Man,” the work evokes the atmosphere of Ellison’s sound world – that of jazz, blues and film scoring touches of the 1940s and ’50s, all refracted through Bermel’s own 21st-century sensibility.

Its opening movement, “Harmonica,” captures the blown and drawn chordal sound of the instrument it is named for, but only for a moment: Bermel quickly moves toward jazz rhythms and film noir allusions. The central movement, “Hymn/Homily,” begins on a mournful, sour note, but expands energetically. And “Hustle,” the finale, molds grand, dissonant chords into vehement speech rhythms, which in turn melt into expansive, curving lines.

Xenakis’s “Tetras” (1983) is an unabashedly noisy score, a 20-minute essay in crunching, sliding, slapping, popping, scratching and creaking sounds, and dense, furious rhythms that often make it seem more like an electronic piece than quartet work. If you want narrative coherence, this is not the place to look. But as an overview of the modern quartet’s possibilities, it is hard to top, and you are not likely to hear a more energized reading than JACK delivered.

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

Twitter: kozinn

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