Lifestyle – The Portland Press Herald Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:33:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Horoscopes for Jan. 18, 2017 Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:00:04 +0000 0, 17 Jan 2017 16:13:00 +0000 Sam Moore to sing in Trump inaugural event Wed, 18 Jan 2017 02:37:42 +0000 NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam and Dave has been added to the list of performers for President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural events.

Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he felt that the criticism leveled at singer Jennifer Holliday, which led to her to back out of the event, was unfair. Several other musicians have also backed away from performing.

The 81-year-old Moore will perform at the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration on Thursday. Others expected to play include country stars Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith.

Moore said he initially planned to attend the event at the Lincoln Memorial because he wanted to see Holliday sing, but when she backed out last week, he asked if he could sing in her place.

“I am not going to let them, the left side, intimidate me from doing what I feel is the right thing to do for the country and that (presidential) seal,” Moore said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Moore and his late musical partner Dave Prater were hit singers in the late 1960s with Isaac Hayes-penned hits like “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” and “Soul Man,” which earned them a Grammy award. Prater died in 1988, but Moore continues to perform and record as a solo artist.

Moore, who has performed for five other U.S. presidents, said he doesn’t know Trump personally and sometimes he’s been surprised by opinions expressed by Trump.

“He’s got a big mouth, like me,” Moore said. “Whether you agree with him or not, he’s going to say what’s on his mind.”

But he said Trump deserves a chance to prove himself as the next president.

“Give the man a shot,” Moore said. “He hasn’t even said ‘I do’ yet. Give him a chance.”

]]> 0 Moore, who sang 1960s hits including "Soul Man," says to give president-elect Trump "a shot."Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:43:19 +0000
Betty White turns 95, saying she’s grateful for fans and new job offers Wed, 18 Jan 2017 01:50:16 +0000 Betty White says the best thing about being 95 is that she’s still employed.

The actress is celebrating her birthday Tuesday. She tells Yahoo’s Katie Couric that she’s “most grateful” for still getting job offers. She says she appreciates “the fact that people have been so kind to me all these years.”

Following a series of high-profile celebrity deaths in 2016, one fan started a tongue-in-cheek fundraiser to help keep the “Golden Girls” star safe until 2017. White says fans “spoil me rotten” and adds that she enjoys “every minute of it.”

White was a trending topic on social media Tuesday.

]]> 0 - In this Feb. 15, 2015 file photo, Betty White attends the SNL 40th Anniversary Special at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. White will be honored with this year's lifetime achievement award next month at the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. The Daytime Emmys air April 26 on the Pop network. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:14:36 +0000
Maine Arts Commission begins statewide listening tour in Portland Tue, 17 Jan 2017 15:02:22 +0000 The Maine Arts Commission launched a statewide information and listening tour Tuesday afternoon at the Portland Public Library. The event was the first of seven regional meetings the commission will host through Feb. 21 on its Arts Iditarod from York to Presque Isle.

Each gathering will include sessions for artists, arts organizations, educators, policymakers and community developers. The tour coincides with the opening of the commission’s next cycle of grant applications and guidelines.

“An important part of the commission’s mission is to provide professional development and information to the field,” Julie Richard, the commission’s executive director, said in a press release. “The Arts Iditarod gives us the opportunity to connect with our constituents in person, to hear what’s important to them and to engage them in discussions that are critical to the arts statewide and beyond.”

Other tour stops are 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Augusta; 2 to 5 p.m. Monday at Schoodic Arts for All, Winter Harbor; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 26 at Waterfall Arts, Belfast; 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 31, Bangor Public Library; 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Old York Museum, York; and 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 21, Wintergreen Arts Center, Presque Isle.

Session topics include arts education, how to use data effectively, cultural equity, financial best practices and tips for getting grants, and how to connect creativity to business, research, tourism, the environment and other fields.

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Horoscopes, Jan. 17, 2017 Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:00:47 +0000 0, 16 Jan 2017 20:44:28 +0000 Woody Harrelson to try live-streaming a full-length movie as it’s shot Tue, 17 Jan 2017 02:57:24 +0000 LONDON —Woody Harrelson is trying to do something that’s never been done before, although he’s starting to realize why his feat would be a first.

The American actor plans to spend the early hours of Friday shooting a full-length film, called “Lost In London LIVE,” which will be broadcast as it happens in over 550 U.S. theaters.

“Someone was asking me earlier, ‘Do you think that people will start doing this now? Filming a movie and live-streaming it at the same time?’ And I said, ‘Well, not if they speak to me first.’ This is some harrowing stuff,” he said with a laugh.

Based on a relentlessly awful night out he really had in the British capital, Harrelson wrote and is directing the film that combines comedy and drama.

Talking on the movie’s set in the streets of London’s theater district, where rehearsals are happening during the day and at night, Harrelson says he could use three more weeks of preparation before the action unfolds in real time.

Harrelson, 55, was arrested in London after a night out in 2002. He declined to say whether the movie is based on events from that night.

“Lost In London LIVE” is an attempt to merge his two loves, film and theater. And even though audiences will be watching on the other side of the pond when it’s Thursday evening, Harrelson is convinced the event’s live-streamed nature will add an electrifying element.

“Will it mess up the performance? That’s the question. Will the fear be too high to eke out a performance? I don’t know,” he said.

Harrelson’s co-stars are musician Willie Nelson and actor Owen Wilson, a close friend who also helped refine the script.

Harrelson’s breakthrough as an actor came on the 1980s television sitcom “Cheers.” He’s since starred in a number of critically acclaimed TV shows and movies, from “Natural Born Killers” and “No Country For Old Men” to “True Detective” and “The Hunger Games.”

Harrelson next will be joining the “Star Wars” universe, with a part in the spin-off movie about a young Han Solo. Describing his character as a criminal and a mentor, he says he’s delighted to be joining that “amazing world.”

]]> 0 Woody Harrelson's live-streamed full-length movie is based on a relentlessly awful night out that he really experienced in London.Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:35:26 +0000
Piccadilly Circus goes dark for renovations Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:28:41 +0000 LONDON — The lights have gone out at Piccadilly Circus.

The famous electronic advertising signboard in central London went dark Monday for several months of renovation.

It’s the longest period of darkness since World War II, when the city’s lights were turned off to confuse German bombers.

The Piccadilly Circus signs were switched back on in 1949, and – power cuts aside – have only been dimmed to mark the funerals of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana.

When the lights go back on in the fall, six separate screens will be replaced with one giant digital screen, which can be used by a single advertiser or divided into sections.

Property company Land Securities, which owns the site, says Coca-Cola and Samsung will be among brands advertising on the signboard.

]]> 0 electronic signboard at Piccadilly Circus, the iconic space in central London, was turned off Monday as part of a monthslong renovation. When the board is back online this fall, one giant screen will replace the six currently used for advertisements.Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:15:30 +0000
Waterville cultural group gets $2.1 million grant from Harold Alfond Foundation Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:07:47 +0000 WATERVILLE — The Harold Alfond Foundation is awarding a $2.1 million grant to Waterville Creates!, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes arts and culture in the greater Waterville area.

Waterville Creates! is scheduled to receive the money over a 2-year period to advance the organization’s mission and help fund its partner institutions, including the Maine Film Center and Waterville Opera House, according to a news release Monday from the group.

“We are energized and proud that the Harold Alfond Foundation has committed their continued support of the important work that we are doing,” Larry Sterrs, chairman of the board of directors for Waterville Creates!, said in the release. “We see this funding as a vote of confidence in our staff, our board, and our wonderful community partners, all of whom are working together to ensure a vibrant future for Waterville and the region.”

The Alfond grant will allow Waterville Creates! to focus on a number of key priorities in 2017 and 2018, according to officials. That includes increasing programs and operational collaboration between local arts organizations; expanding marketing of Waterville’s arts and cultural assets to place more emphasis on Waterville as an arts and cultural destination; and helping to make improvements in the quality, visibility, and accessibility of programs at Common Street Arts, an arts exhibition and education space located in The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.

“In addition to facilitating more collaborative programming in the new year, we plan to work with our partners to explore shared service and staffing models and other potential efficiencies that can be achieved through increased collaboration,” said Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates!, in the release. “By funding staffing and operational expenses as well as specific initiatives designed to enhance collaboration amongst Waterville’s arts and cultural institutions and other community partners, this grant will allow us to build a more sustainable organization as we continue to strengthen Waterville’s creative economy.”

Waterville Creates! now offers contracted marketing services for both the Maine Film Center and Waterville Opera House and is investigating a shared box office system, bookkeeping services and other financial services.

The Alfond grant also includes continued funding for the Waterville Creates! Partner Incentive Grant program, established in 2014 as a way to promote increased collaboration and enhanced arts and culture programs among arts and cultural organizations and other community partners.

Past Incentive Grant funding recipients include the Waterville Opera House for the Waterville Rocks! summer concert series; Waterville Main Street for Harvest on the Square; and the Maine Film Center for VJ Suave, which performed at the 2016 MIFF.

“The Harold Alfond Foundation has been impressed with the thoughtful collaboration that Waterville Creates! has fostered among the city’s arts organizations and all that has been achieved to more widely promote Waterville as a vibrant hub of arts and cultural activities,” Greg Powell, chairman of the Alfond Foundation board of directors, said in the release. “We are confident that this grant will enable the organization and its partners to take their efforts to the next level.”

Grant funds also will be used to buy digital projection equipment for the Waterville Opera House to help improve the quality of live broadcast programs, such as the National Theater Live, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinemas, and the Met Live in HD, and to facilitate MIFF and other Maine Film Center programs throughout the year.

The Alfond Foundation furthers the legacy of the late Waterville philanthropist Harold Alfond by investing in education, healthcare, youth development and other philanthropic charitable causes that hold the promise of making enduring transformative contributions to the community and State of Maine.

]]> 0 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:07:47 +0000
Guest David Neely conducts the Portland Symphony Orchestra with clarity Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:32:11 +0000 When an orchestra is in the market for a new music director, any appearance by a guest conductor will inevitably be seen as an audition, although sometimes, to paraphrase Freud, a guest conducting engagement is just a guest conducting engagement. Larger orchestras like to hear their candidates in more than one program, and in visits that last more than a few days, so that the musicians can get a sense of what the conductor is like in rehearsal and in different kinds of works.

How this process works for an orchestra that plays as few classical programs as the Portland Symphony Orchestra – and has few guests – is something of a mystery. Administration and board members could conceivably travel to hear further performances by the front-runners, but that doesn’t give the players the information they need about what it’s like to work with these directors. To an observer, the system seems barely viable. But one way or another, Robert Moody is leaving at the end of next season, and a new conductor will take his place.

On Sunday afternoon, David Neely conducted the orchestra in works by Britten, Debussy and Chopin at Merrill Auditorium. Neely is a less flashy conductor than Moody, but flashiness is not an important component of a conductor’s toolbag, except to marketing departments, whose opinions should always be discounted. He conducts with clarity, energy and a sense of purpose, and with gestures that can be broad and communicative, but generally seem economical, with little wasted motion.

Neely’s resume suggests that his experience is mainly in opera, but with a hefty amount of contemporary opera to his credit. That is heartening, and it is tempting to see his thoughtfully shaped performances of two 20th century seascapes – Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes,” from “Peter Grimes,” and Debussy’s “La Mer” – as signs of his facility with post-Romantic music of a particularly painterly sort.

Not that either of those works can honestly be called contemporary now. The Debussy, composed in 1905, joined the standard canon long ago, and the Britten, though 40 years newer, is more conservative. It would have been useful to have a bona fide new work on the program, to see what Neely made of it.

Still, his Britten had a simplicity and directness that caught not only the naturalistic description that drives the work – the evocative shimmer of the winds and strings in its “Dawn” movement, the turbulent strings and brass, and percussive thunder of the closing “Storm” – but also the current of tragedy that runs through “Peter Grimes” as a whole.

Neely’s Debussy began puzzlingly. It had the kind of laser-like clarity, in which individual instrumental profiles stand out clearly, that you often hope for in an orchestral performance – but not here. What you want in the opening of “La Mer” is a more ethereal sound that captures the hazy mystery of the sea just before daybreak. Neely’s focus soon softened sufficiently to create that effect, and his accounts of the final two movements – “The Play of the Waves” and “Dialogue of the Wind and Sea” – where Debussy does require the spotlight to fall on individual wind and brass lines, Neely’s performance and the orchestra’s could not have been more magnificently wrought.

After the intermission, Diane Walsh joined the orchestra as the soloist in Chopin’s Concerto No. 2. Walsh presented Chopin as more of a Classicist than a Romantic, partly by pedaling lightly, and partly by playing the solo line with a clarity that focused on its rationality rather than its perfume.

It was an interestingly modern approach, and because she did not jettison the work’s Romanticism entirely – it can’t really be done, Chopin’s lyrical proclivities being what they were – Walsh’s reading also had a buoyant, singing quality. For listeners who craved a more traditional approach to Romantic virtuosity, Walsh gave a dazzling performance of the Liszt-Paganini “La Campanella” as an encore.

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

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:33:02 +0000
Jo and her sisters show strength of character in ‘Little Women’ Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:33:05 +0000 “Amazing” and “astonishing” are adjectives heard often in the latest production from the Lyric Music Theater. They surround the dreams and aspirations of four sisters who want their lives to be truly special.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel “Little Women,” the 2005 musical centers around Jo, a young woman who longs to see the world in order to better write about it. In a tough balancing act, she tries to avoid the pitfalls of marriage and domesticity as defined by 19th-century society while still appreciating the bonds that hold her family together.

In the lead role, Shannon Oliver was an engaging bundle of energy on opening night, adding palpable intensity to her character’s restless nature and desire to pursue goals beyond those prescribed for women of the period. In one telling scene, Oliver’s Jo does some roughhousing with a suitor. Her bobbing and weaving, with clenched fists and game face on, came to define her overall performance.

Her vocals on “Astonishing” and “The Fire Within Me” met the challenge of the big, soaring numbers that, not unexpectedly, jumped a century or so stylistically from the setting of the piece as a whole. The humor within some playful sequences, in which Jo’s early melodramatic fictions are acted out on an upper stage level as she reads them aloud below, suggested her liberation.

Jennifer Kennedy, Jericah Jo Potvin and Gabriella Salce play Jo’s three sisters. Each had featured numbers that confirm their character’s identity and mission in life. Kennedy’s Meg modestly reached to be “More Than I Am.” Potvin’s bratty Amy stole scenes on her way to “The Most Amazing Thing,” and Salce’s Beth touchingly reflected that “Some Things Are Meant To Be.”

Angela Libby established the strength of her character as the wise but lonely matriarch during “Days of Plenty,” and Patty Sprague earned laughs as a feisty aunt. The male roles were filled by Kyle Aarons, Samuel Allen, Ryan Walker and Bruce Lancaster, each becoming a willing “victim” to the charms of these unusual young women.

Joshua Chard’s direction framed the characters well and kept things moving around a period-detailed, two-level set designed by Steve Lupien. Near-to-the-audience musical backing from an ensemble directed by Bob Gauthier only occasionally competed for the ear with some of the softer singing voices on stage. Jamie Lupien Swenson’s choreography furthered the sense of spontaneity in the occasional outbreaks of dance, and Cindy Kerr’s costumes and hair design served to contextualize this entertaining take on a classic story.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Jo Potvin as Amy, Angela Libby as Marmee, Gabriella Salce as Beth, Jennifer Kennedy as Meg and Shannon Oliver as Jo.Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:17:00 +0000
Bruce Springsteen tribute band says inaugural eve gig ‘not political’ Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:25:55 +0000 TRENTON, N.J. — Bruce Springsteen is giving President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration the Pennsylvania Avenue freeze-out, but his songs will be performed by a cover band nearby on New Jersey Avenue.

With Springsteen having called the Republican president-elect a “flagrant, toxic narcissist” and questioning whether he’s competent for the job, the B Street Band’s performance at an inaugural event hosted by a New Jersey group has drawn jeers on social media from fans of his music that the band is abandoning the soul of the musician they’ve made a career of following.

“Shame on the #BStreetBand playing at #Trump’s inaugural,” Democratic New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak tweeted last week. “They’ve profited from #Bruce now they’re abandoning the message in his music.”

Bruce Springsteen performs at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on March 15, 2016.

Bruce Springsteen performed during Obama’s 2009 inaugural, and Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Chris Pizzello/Invision via AP

The B Street Band says its performance at the New Jersey State Society’s Thursday night gala – not Trump’s inaugural ball itself, as many have mistakenly posted online – has actually been planned since 2013.

The cover band has twice performed for the nonprofit and nonpartisan group’s galas to mark Democrat President Barack Obama’s inaugurals.

“We got some flak from the others, but nothing like this,” B Street Band bandleader Willie Forte. “We made a commitment, and we’re not political.”

Forte said the group is composed of six “hard-working” guys and has been performing Springsteen songs for nearly 37 years. It draws its name from the E Street Band, which has backed Springsteen since 1972.

“I understand it. We owe everything we have to Bruce,” he said. “But everything we’ve done because of Bruce has raised millions of dollars for charities.”

The group performed in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.

Springsteen performed during Obama’s 2009 inaugural, and Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Forte believes much of the criticism arose because people mistakenly thought the group was going to perform at Trump’s inaugural ball.

The New Jersey State Society brings together those with ties to New Jersey in the Washington area and sponsors networking events.

“Springsteen music is magic to the ears of our New Jersey members and guests, regardless of party,” said society executive director Nancy Fatemi. “You can’t have an inaugural ball with a Jersey shore boardwalk theme and not have great Jersey music.”

Springsteen superfan Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, are honorary co-chairs of the $225-per-person event. The Republican governor’s office did not respond to a question about whether they would attend.

Trump has also been invited.

]]> 0, 16 Jan 2017 20:14:03 +0000
Horoscopes for Jan. 16, 2017 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:00:31 +0000 0, 15 Jan 2017 22:27:03 +0000 Recovered pendant matches one belonging to Anne Frank Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:04:41 +0000 JERUSALEM — Researchers excavating the remains of one of the most notorious Nazi death camps have uncovered a pendant that appears identical to one belonging to Anne Frank, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said Sunday.

Yad Vashem said it has ascertained the pendant belonged to Karoline Cohn – a Jewish girl who perished at Sobibor and may have been connected to the famous diarist. Both were born in Frankfurt in 1929, and historians have found no other pendants like theirs.

The triangular piece has the words “Mazal Tov” written in Hebrew on one side along with Cohn’s date of birth. The other side has the Hebrew letter “heh,” an initial for God, as well as three Stars of David.

Researchers are now trying to reach out to any remaining relatives of the two to confirm whether they were related.

Since 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with Yad Vashem, has been conducting excavations at the former camp in Poland in a novel approach to Holocaust research. The camp was destroyed after an October 1943 uprising, with the Nazis leveling it and planting over it to cover up their crimes. Yet, archeologists have managed to uncover the gas chamber foundations and the original train platform.

More than 250,000 Jews were killed in Sobibor, in eastern Poland, one of the most extreme examples of the Nazi “Final Solution” to eradicate European Jewry. Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen camp, in northern Germany, in 1945.

Unlike other facilities that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death almost immediately.

“These recent findings from the excavations at Sobibor constitute an important contribution to the documentation and commemoration of the Holocaust, and help us to better understand what happened at Sobibor, both in terms of the camp’s function and also from the point of view of the victims,” said Havi Dreifuss, of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research.

]]> 0, 15 Jan 2017 19:04:41 +0000
Music review: With warmth and some exhortation, Vox Nova choir extols peace Sun, 15 Jan 2017 23:47:52 +0000 BRUNSWICK — The Vox Nova Chamber Choir, a polished, flexible group that specializes in contemporary choral music, is devoting its two concerts this season to the desire for peace. It is a universal theme, you would think, although if it were truly universal, the world would be enjoying it rather than hoping for it.

The choir presented the first installment, “Da Pacem: Music for Peace in Our Time,” at Bowdoin College’s Studzinski Recital Hall on Saturday evening. The second, “Inscription of Hope,” will follow in June.

Much of the program was sacred music, with texts that focused more on faith than on peace, as such. In one case, a wonderfully zesty arrangement of “The Battle of Jericho,” the subject was not peace at all, regardless of whether the weapons used in the battle were spears or a combination of rams’ horns and shouting.

Still, Shannon Chase, the choir’s director, got quickly to the heart of her intended theme in the striking opening work, the Estonian composer Veljo Tormis’ “Raua Needmine” (“Curse Upon Iron”). An unusual score, composed in 1972 and sung in Estonian, it does what its title suggests, cursing iron as the element that has given us modern weaponry, and branching out, in its final verses, to extend the curse to titanium, chromium, uranium, plutonium and other elements that have been put to bellicose purposes.

To give the curse heft, rather than leaving it simply as something mentioned in a sung text, Tormis cast the piece as a ritual, with a single drum accompanying the choir, and the text often chanted rhythmically, sometimes in a near whisper, sometimes with vehemence and anger, rather than sung. There are sung sections as well, of course, and with the drumbeat and chanting providing context, these sections sound more climactic than they might otherwise.

The Vox Nova singers endowed the piece with a palpable sense of drama and menace, and a listener was so fully drawn into the maelstrom of its rhythmic chanting that it wasn’t until the second work, Arvo Pärt’s “Da Pacem Domine,” that one realized that to perform it, the choir had set aside its greatest strengths – the warmth of its sound and the precision of its blend.

The Pärt was performed by 16 of the choir’s 40 singers but was the picture of lushness, as was the Rudi Tas “Miserere” – a work with a cello line that offered a sort of response to, and commentary on, the choral line – that followed it. Steven Weston, the choir’s assistant conductor, led the Tas, and Timothy Garrett played the cello line with a rich, singing tone.

Other works that showed off the velvety warmth of Vox Nova’s sound were Eriks Ešenvalds’ gauzy “O Salutaris Hostia,” René Clausen’s invitingly serene “In Pace” and Kenneth Lampl’s “Jerusalem,” a poetic meditation, sung in Hebrew, with an attractive vocalise winding through the texture.

Striking, too, was a group of hymns and spirituals, in which Chase and Weston split the conducting duties, each stepping into the choir while the other was on the podium. Chase noted, in comments from the stage, that two of the selections, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “The Battle of Jericho,” were favorites of Martin Luther King Jr. The choir captured the vibrancy of these works, and the arrangements by Roy Ringwald and Moses Hogan, respectively, in performances driven by a compelling balance of energy and suppleness.

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

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:36:39 +0000
Two new films bomb as ‘Hidden Figures’ cruises at box office Sun, 15 Jan 2017 23:29:14 +0000 NEW YORK — Labors of love, one from Martin Scorsese, the other from Ben Affleck, proved costly at a casualty strewn weekend box office where the uplifting NASA drama “Hidden Figures” stayed on top for the second straight week.

“Hidden Figures,” about African-American mathematicians in the 1960s space race, sold a leading $20.5 million in tickets in North American theaters over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, according to estimates Sunday. Fox anticipates the film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, will make $25.3 million when Monday is included, bringing its cumulative total to about $60 million.

The weekend was more remarkable for what didn’t work than what did. Both Affleck’s period gangster thriller “Live by Night” and Scorsese’s Christian epic “Silence” bombed in their wide-release debuts. Warner Bros.’ “Live by Night,” adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, earned a mere $5.4 million in 2,471 theaters. Paramount’s “Silence,” from Susaku Endo’s novel of 17th century Jesuit priests in Japan, took in $1.9 million in 747 theaters.

Both were high-profile projects that each filmmaker used their considerable sway to get made.

The top 10 in estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore:

1. “Hidden Figures,” $20.5 million.

2. “La La Land,” $14.5 million ($17.8 million international).

3. “Sing,” $13.8 million ($13.2 million international).

4. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” $13.8 million ($21.9 million international).

5. “The Bye Bye Man,” $13.4 million ($1.3 million international). 6. “Patriots Day,” $12 million ($1.3 million international).

7. “Monster Trucks,” $10.5 million ($4 million international).

8. “Sleepless,” $8.5 million.

9. “Underworld: Blood Wars,” $5.8 million ($1.4 million international).

10. “Passengers,” $5.6 million ($32.5 million international).

“Live by Night” was Affleck’s directorial follow-up to the best-picture-winning “Argo.” Written, directed and starring Affleck, it cost $90 million to make, although rebates and tax incentives lowered its budget to $65 million. Critics said “Live by Night” was a step backward for Affleck, who spent much of his publicity campaign fending off questions about his plans to direct a stand-alone Batman film for Warner Bros. The studio, which declined to comment Sunday, estimates “Live by Night” will make $6.7 million over the four-day weekend.

The epitome of a passion project, “Silence,” which Scorsese contemplated for nearly three decades, represents a culmination of the director’s investigations into the nature of faith. While the film, starring Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson, earned considerable respect from some critics, it failed to catch on in Hollywood’s awards season.

– Associated Press

]]> 0 Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, listens with her white male colleagues in a scene from "Hidden Figures."Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:36:17 +0000
Daniel Kany: The Union of Maine Visual Artists gallery begins to find its mark with ‘Lines of Thought’ Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:29 +0000 Curated by Deb Whitney, “Lines of Thought” furthers the case that the Union of Maine Visual Artists’ gallery at the Community Television Network is a significant exhibition presence in Portland.

“Lines of Thought” is a drawing show geared toward the conceptual and content aspects of drawing as a form among Maine’s artist community. This has been a meaningful approach internationally for the past two decades, but it has particular relevance now with the blossoming role of contemporary art in Maine.

Whitney is an ideal organizer for such an exhibition. She was the director and curator of the erstwhile gallery Whitney Art Works, one of Maine’s historically best – and most missed – contemporary venues.

Moreover, Whitney has led a drawing group in London during the past few years, and so she not only has abilities, experience and insight, but also perspective from across the pond.

Whitney has included her own work in the show. While this is a curatorially questionable practice in the tricky streets of Brooklyn and Chelsea, it feels like the appropriate thing to do for the Union of Maine Visual Artists. The UMVA, after all, is an artist group. (Disclosure: I am not a member – I am not an active artist – but I am an editor of the “Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly.”)

As well, Whitney’s own work provides more perspective than a typical curator’s statement. Her three “drawings” are wooden panels covered with neutral encaustic (an ancient painting medium of mostly wax mixed with resin). These drawings were executed by incising the wax with a stylus and then rubbing red oil paint into the incised lines.

Aside from her open mind on medium, Whitney’s images of women look like advertisements for 1960s/’70s-style one-piece bathing suits – except these models have bags over their heads and red paint smears out over the lines. The tone and look echo Philip Guston’s enigmatic flavor.

The works have a sort of unfocused power and violence, not unlike a smoking sawed-off shotgun.

So, yes, the addition of Whitney’s own work is a powerful and positive addition to “Lines of Thought.”

Another of Whitney’s gestures ups the poignancy of the show by not saying too much. The works are numbered rather than labeled. And the exhibition checklist only states the names of the artists, so we don’t get caught up in mediums, titles, years and specifics of the works.

We have to take the works as they present themselves. This bit of a challenge fully services the theme of the show, which is geared toward hailing the artists’ intentions, their thinking.

The benefit is apparent with works like Ron Howard’s sketches that appear to be of the round Hilton towers in South Portland. The lack of clarity about this, however, and the notes within the images, push us to see the thinking in the drawings for ourselves.

The range of works within “Lines of Thought” is vast, from the Zen reductiveness of James Chutes’ few – and philosophically elegant – lines to the eye-stretching technical skill of Susan Cooney’s Magritte-like evening landscape of silhouetted trees on the ocean’s edge. From there, “Lines of Thought” pushes out in all directions.

Works tend to stand out from “Lines of Thought” by being intriguing rather than simply skillful or attractive. Alex Rheault’s pair of surreal images, for example, look like a dream visit to Freud’s kitchen junk drawer.

Yet they are beautifully executed and never surrender their luscious edge. Kenny Cole’s nine panels comprise a slider game grid of rather jumbled reporting about the Moken “sea gypsies” – whose plight cynically matches the slider game logic of the nine panels. Cole numbers the out-of-order panels to hint at his game, but it’s a false solution, and we are challenged to pursue the narrative on our own, elsewhere in our lives.

Avy Claire’s smaller of two pieces pushes the game theory approach from a similar starting point as Cole, but instead of Cole’s context of social critique, Claire follows a path of needle and thread to interweave the subjectivity of the artist and viewer: Claire’s game-like steps forward are matched by the viewer’s parsing her piece at a pace that uncannily matches the rhythm of conversation.

Noriko Sakanishi’s drawings are a particularly welcome sight since she showed with June Fitzpatrick, whose nearby gallery recently closed. Working on gridded paper, Sakanishi’s pencil works balance geometrical intelligence with hard-edge formal rigor and a meditatively even, textile sensibility.

Ellen Hodgkin’s time-marking grids move toward the miniscule by means of great numbers that surpass our ability to estimate, let alone count. With her well-worked surfaces and many, many marks, she attains both a visual and a conceptual richness.

Grace DeGennaro’s work, on the other hand, looks to woven flatness through gridded shapes of dots. Instead of folding into fabric, however, DeGennaro’s stay upright in their patterns on the wall like mandalas or other meditative objects, but with a thoroughly Western and rationalist stance and the elegance of post-war American abstraction.

While there are a few weak points – and there are only a few despite Whitney’s leaving the curatorial door open to all UMVA submitters – the rest of the work is similarly strong to what has been discussed here. The largest presence, however, are the erosion drawings of Krissane Baker.

Baker’s works are essentially geometrical drawings on paper made with many staples that were then allowed to rust and spread their orangey oxidization like wet-paper watercolors with oddly organic complexity. Most striking is a torn and frayed horizontal scroll about 20 feet long that electrifies the UMVA Gallery’s interior space. Put up with T-pins, the fragmented work has a post mortem feel, like it has been laid out for forensic examination.

The only interrupting trouble with “Lines of Thought” is that the space feels like a borrowed office space instead of a gallery. (The clearing out of the front space makes this problem appear worse, although it may be the first steps in a welcome improvement if that space is being repurposed for visual art.)

Considering the community-mindedness of both CTN and the UMVA, this is hardly out of tune with their missions. However, it is easy to imagine that this show could have graced the walls of the visually sleek Whitney Art Works, and what a difference that would make for elegantly quiet works like Kate Beck’s, DeGennaro’s and Claire’s, or even the physically refined works like Baker’s, Whitney’s and, in particular, Christopher Pennock’s wooden-boxed aphoristic word blocks.

UMVA is next door to the Institute for Contemporary Art, and I railed against the Maine College of Art’s choice to use guest curators for the ICA’s shows. (My point was that a young, brainy and highly visible curator like Daniel Fuller not only does the work but represents a massive marketing benefit for the school.) At first, I, unfortunately, felt justified in my concerns.

But the ICA’s most recent (and emotionally difficult) show is beautiful and sizzles conceptually. Similarly, the UMVA’s multi-voiced approach seems to be finding its mark. (Apparently, this is a thing now in Portland. Even Able Baker Contemporary is using outside curators.)

If you are looking for high-stepping, high-ceilinged elegance, you will be disappointed. But if you want a brainy and exciting cross-section of contemporary art in Maine, you will find it at “Lines of Thought.”

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

]]> 0 drawing by Deb Whitney, who also curated "Lines of Thought."Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:47:23 +0000
Musicians of color had champion in Obama Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Preceding President Barack Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday night, R&B artist BJ the Chicago Kid sang the national anthem.

With only two records and one chart appearance under his belt, the singer may be a far cry from Beyoncé singing at Obama’s second inauguration, but it’s a fitting cap on a presidency that, from a pop culture standpoint, was intimately intertwined with musicians of color.

In the coming weeks, much will be written about his love of music, from the Spotify playlists he often created (prompting the company to post a job opening, just for him) to singing with Willie Nelson and covering Al Green songs.

But what can be lost in these “listicles” is the unprecedented impact Obama had on artists of color, from giving relatively unknown performers like BJ the Chicago Kid an enormous platform to inviting rappers into conversations about criminal justice reform.

During Ronald Reagan’s administration, a few famous artists of color, such as Ella Fitzgerald and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, performed at the White House. But, according to a list released by the Reagan Library, such visits were few and far between compared to those of white artists like Frank Sinatra, Pete Fountain and The Beach Boys.

More artists of color performed during President George W. Bush’s administration, due in no small part to him declaring June 2001 Black Music Month and hosting Lionel Hampton, Shirley Caesar, Bobby Jones, James Brown, the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Harlem Jazz Museum Artists at a celebratory ceremony.

But artists of color visited the White House as a matter of routine during Obama’s administration, many, such as rappers Common, Jay Z and Usher, visiting multiple times.

This disparity can, of course, be explained partially by taste. Having one’s favorite artists perform intimate concerts at his home is a dream perk of the presidency, and Obama has long been a fan of hip-hop, a predominately black genre.

And, of course, people of color are currently dominating airwaves. As Obama finished saying goodbye, seven of Billboard’s Hot 100 top 10 tracks are by artists of color.

But the deviation seemed intentional.

At the final musical event he and Michelle Obama hosted, a concert in conjunction with BET titled “Love and Happiness,” he said music at the White House should “reflect the amazing diversity, and the imagination and the incredible ingenuity that defines the American people.”

During the past eight years, he’s lived up to those words. Between the celebrity visits were those of unknown artists of color. As Veronica Toney wrote in The Washington Post, “What’s most interesting isn’t the number of celebrities who have walked the halls … it’s the variety of the guests,” citing lesser-known artists such as Mayda Del Valle and Keb Mo.

The most resounding example of this came in 2009.

While many presidents likely would have invited Lin-Manuel Miranda to visit the White House if his musical “Hamilton” had reached its unprecedented level of popularity during their terms, it’s unlikely others would have invited him before he wrote it.

Most remember Miranda’s amusing performance in the Rose Garden, but many may have forgotten his visit to the White House Poetry Jam in 2009, where he debuted a working track that would become the hit musical’s opening number (which Obama watched with glee, if both his expression and standing ovation are any indication.)

Obama, though, didn’t only hand musicians of color a microphone, he gave them a voice during an important historical moment.

During his presidency, the struggles of minorities in modern America grew arguably more visible. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile highlighted the tension between blacks and police, along with the rise of Black Lives Matter.

Sometimes Obama empowered artists simply by inviting them and their families to state dinners.

At his final dinner, such artists as (an extremely grateful) Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean (and their parents) were in attendance – and not to perform.

Obama also hosted South by South Lawn, a tech and music festival modeled after Austin’s South by Southwest, on the south lawn of the White House.

Many of its organizers, along with its performers, were minorities.

While some panels at the festival discussed climate change, rapper Common performed “A Letter to the Free,” from “13th,” Ava DuVernay’s documentary about racial inequality in the U.S.

“I couldn’t just take my anger and let it be anger,” Common said from the stage, according to the Los Angeles Times. “What could I do with my platform? What could you do with your platform?”

Most substantial, though, was when Obama invited several prominent artists of color, such as Nicki Minaj, Chance the Rapper, Alicia Keys, Wale, J. Cole and Ludacris, to the White House to hear their thoughts on his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which centers on criminal justice reform.

“Through their own nonprofit work or artistic commitment, many of these artists have found ways to engage on the issues of criminal justice reform and empowering disadvantaged young people across the country,” a White House official told Time’s Maya Rhodan.

The moment, as Common later told Pitchfork, felt truly historic.

“It was myself, A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross, J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, and many more in this room,” Common said. “And I’m looking at a picture of George Washington with the president right there next to me, and I’m like, man, I know George Washington never would’ve seen this many brothers in the White House.” (He meant it symbolically. For the record, Washington never lived in the White House.)

As rapper T.I. told the New York Times, “I don’t think at this present moment in time it’s possible for any president to assume a relevant position in the community, in the culture, without reaching out or having some knowledge of what’s going on in the world of hip-hop. You can’t be disconnected from the most impactful culture in this nation.”

]]> 0 Barack Obama joins in singing "Sweet Home Chicago" during a concert in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 21, 2012. MUST CREDIT: White House photo by Pete SouzaSat, 14 Jan 2017 17:41:55 +0000
The Mallett Brothers’ new CD puts a modern spin on old Maine ballads Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Will Mallett was sitting around his parents’ house in Sebec two years ago when he pulled a tattered book from his mom’s bookshelf. It may have been the faded forest-green color of the spine that caught his eye, or perhaps the catchy title: “Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and Coast.”

He flipped through a few pages and found the beginnings of the Mallett Brothers Band‘s latest CD, “The Falling of the Pine: Songs from the Maine Woods.” The band set the words of old Maine folks songs from the book to original arrangements and melodies, overlaying modern music on ballads from a century ago that tell sordid tales and sad stories of tragedy and turmoil in the Maine woods. The record comes out the first week of February, and the band – Will and his brother Luke, Wally Wenzel, Nick Leen, Andrew Martelle and Chuck Gagne – is playing across Maine to promote the CD and share songs that reveal the poetic character of the North Woods lumberjack and the Downeast fisherman.

“These are amazing songs, and they shouldn’t be forgotten,” Will Mallett said.

The Mallett brothers’ interest in old-time music is inherent in their upbringing. While their father, the folk singer David Mallett, who has written dozens of songs recorded by Pete Seeger, Alison Krauss, Liam Clancy and others, is an obvious musical influence, their mother, Jayne Lello, left her imprint on “The Falling of the Pine.”

An anthropologist and librarian, Lello worked alongside University of Maine folklorist Edward “Sandy” Ives, who founded the Maine Folklore Center. Together, they collected and archived hundreds of folks songs when Lello studied with Ives as a student in the early 1970s.

“Her shelves at home are filled with books about music,” Will Mallett said. “Our parents have a great record collection, but they also have a great book collection and a lot of books about Maine.”


Published in 1927, “Minstrelsy of Maine” was written by Fannie Hardy Eckstorm and Mary Winslow Smyth, adventurous women who traveled to remote territories where men made their living as loggers, river-drivers, fur traders, sailors and hand-line fishermen.

Smyth scoured the coast to capture songs from the fishermen, and Eckstorm ventured to the woods up north. They knew these places were unfit for women but went because they feared the songs and the cultures they represented would vanish if they didn’t. They came back with dozens of songs and hundreds of pages of lyrics, and they preserved them in “Minstrelsy of Maine.”

“The editors of this volume fully realized that collecting these songs was a man’s job,” the women wrote in the book’s preface. “We knew very well that we could not go into lumber camps and the forecastles of coasting schooners, nor frequent mill boarding-houses and wharves and employment offices and even jails, where the unprinted, and too often unprintable, songs of the kind we must seek originate and flourish. Had a man competent to perform the task expressed an intention of preserving these songs, we should not have undertaken the work. But no man appeared steeped in balladry and versed in folk-music, understanding the hearts of the people and wise to interpret what he found in them.”

The Mallett Brothers' new album draws material from the book "Minstrelsy of Maine," published in 1927.

The Mallett Brothers’ new album draws material from the book “Minstrelsy of Maine,” published in 1927. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The work of Eckstorm and Smyth predated the efforts of noted musicologist Alan Lomax, who began making field recordings of folks songs across the American South in the 1930s.

Ives made vinyl recordings of some of these Maine songs with traditional folk arrangements as part of his research at UMaine in the 1960s. With this record, the Malletts re-imagine them, matching the lyrics with instruments and musical sensibilities of today. Will Mallett briefly considered making a solo folk record and dismissed the idea. He wanted to make a band record, with acoustic and electric guitars, fiddles, accordions, dobro, drums and other instruments that suggest the drama of roaring rapids, the danger of 1,000 floating logs and the sorrow of an old man dying alone in a cabin.

“This record represents the idea of how music can evolve but still get the essence of the story behind the song,” he said.

Back in the day, the woodsmen set their lyrics to traditional songs, Lello said. “For these lumbermen, it was never about the tune. It was about the story,” she said. “The fact the band put new tunes to these is really kind of cool.”

Lello worked with Ives as an undergraduate student at UMaine and remained friends with him until his death in 2009.

“I wish Sandy were alive to see this,” Lello said. “I know other people who sing, but I think the boys did a wonderful job with this project. They are inspired by the songs and stories, and I think they interpreted them beautifully. At first, I thought they should do an acoustic record, but I think they did it just right. It’s a blend of their own musical style with these very traditional stories and ballads.”

The Mallett brothers made the record over two years between tours, recording it live at their Portland studio. They worked out arrangements on the road, during sound checks and rehearsals. A few songs have made their way into the band’s live set.

From left, Andrew Martelle, Will Mallett and Luke Mallett of The Mallett Brothers Band rehearse songs from their new album "The Falling of the Pine: Songs from the Maine Woods" at a Portland rehearsal studio on Jan. 9.

From left, Andrew Martelle, Will Mallett and Luke Mallett of The Mallett Brothers Band rehearse songs from their new album “The Falling of the Pine: Songs from the Maine Woods” at a Portland rehearsal studio on Jan. 9. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

It’s the band’s fifth record and its first concept album. The Malletts tour regularly and have built a fan base by playing across the Northeast and returning regularly to cities in Texas, Colorado, Virginia and elsewhere. “We’re at a point now where there is less pressure that each new album has to be the definitive Mallett Brothers Band album,” Will Mallett said. “We can do a quirky concept album like this without screwing up our following.”

That probably won’t be an issue. “The Falling of the Pine” sounds like a Mallett Brothers Band album, with moody vocals and flowing guitars, and it is grounded in folk and roots traditions.

The title track, which Eckstorm described as “Homeric in nature” in her notes, is an ode to the red-shirted lumbermen who felled the tall, dark pines. It was written by an unknown author with a poetic tongue in the mid- to late-1800s.

As the winter grows colder,

Like wolves we do grow bolder,

Our axes we will shoulder

All pleasures to resign.

To the woods we will advance,

Where our axes clear do glance,

And like brothers we’ll commence

To fall the stately pine.

The song begins with a country fiddle and acoustic guitar and builds momentum verse by verse, cascading into a rousing Cajun-Irish rock-out. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the Dropkick Murphys.

With this record, the Malletts do for Maine woods songs what Boston’s Dropkicks do for Celtic punk: They punch it into high gear. Will Mallett sings the lyrics as they appear on the page, with one exception. He subs “Sebec,” his parents’ Piscataquis County town, for “Quebec”:

When we get into Sebec

We’re the boys that don’t forget

Our whistles for to wet

With whiskey or good wine.

With some pretty girl we’ll boast

Till our money is all used,

We’re the boys that don’t refuse

To return and fall the Pine.

The euphoric whoops and hollers that follow the song’s conclusion attest to its raucous spirit and the satisfaction of the performance. “A lot of the songs, we started simple and took our time to try out different approaches to them,” Luke Mallett said. “I was just looking for lines and hooks that grabbed me. A lot of the lyrics were lending to a vibe. We just ran with it and followed what felt right.”

Of particular interest was “Ye Roaring Falls of Kinsey,” which tells of the death of two river-drivers and the guilt of a survivor, a man named Towne. The song got Will Mallett’s attention because Towne is a family name.

For everybody in the band, this record feels personal. Martelle’s grandmother cooked in fishing camps – in Newfoundland, not Maine – and experienced many of the scenes described in the songs. Gagne grew up in northern Maine “and these songs are part of my heritage.” Everyone in the band has lived in Maine a long time, and Maine is a big part of the band’s persona nationally.

“Everybody from Maine is very proud of Maine,” Luke Mallett said. “We channel it all the time.”

Making a record about Maine feels satisfying, Leen said. He hopes the songs circulate among older Mainers, who might appreciate the heritage of these songs, as well as the band’s younger audience so they can learn Maine history through music.

“My original idea when I pulled the book off the shelf was that someone should record new versions of these songs and get them in front of Maine kids, get them in the schools,” Will Mallett said. “They are such an important part of our state’s heritage.”

The next few weeks will be busy for the band. The mini-home state tour begins Jan. 27 in Waterville, with stops Feb. 10 in Gardiner, Feb. 11 in Carrabassett Valley and Feb. 18-19 in Rangeley. Other dates will be added up north, where these songs originated.

“They have a right to be proud of their history up there,” Will Mallett said. “It should not be forgotten.”

]]> 0, ME - JANUARY 9: From left, Andrew Martelle, Will Mallett and Luke Mallett of The Mallett Brothers Band rehearse songs from their new album The Falling of the Pine: Songs from the Maine Woods at the Portland rehearsal studio on Monday, January 9, 2017. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:34:22 +0000
Society Notebook: Fire & Ice keeps people coming back to Kennebunkport Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The expression “you snooze, you lose” is definitely true when it comes to Kennebunkport’s biggest holiday party, Fire & Ice at The Nonantum Resort. All 3,000 tickets for the two nights – Dec. 8 and 9 – sold out. In October.

“I bought tickets in August,” said Kate St. Peter of Saco. “This is my third time. I can’t stop coming back. It’s an unbelievable event, the best in southern Maine.”

“It’s just festive. I love it,” said Sarah Rivest of South Portland.

“I would come again, for sure,” said Jennifer Pomerleau of Arundel.

“I was expecting Will Farrell ice skating,” joked Kyle Beliveau of Westbrook.

There were no Will Farrell sightings, but Fire & Ice guests raved about watching ice sculptor Ed Jarrett at work. They praised the food, especially the pulled pork sandwiches by Ned’s Bakes & BBQ; The Carmine Terracciano Band, featuring Tony Boffa; the super-sized bonfire and all the smaller, cozy fire circles surrounded by Adirondack chairs.

“And all the drink options – the whiskey bar, the Shipyard beer tent, the ice luge,” said Colin Phelan of Saco.

“It’s a great party, a great mix of people,” said Jim Mahaney of Wells.

“This event appeals to all ages, 21 to probably 81,” said Tina Hewett-Gordon, the resort’s general manager. “Fire & Ice has become a tradition for couples, families and friends. We never would have thought this event would grow to this size of popularity in seven years.”

In fact, The Nonantum received a Maine Governor’s Award for Tourism Leadership and Growth for its efforts to expand the second weekend of Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude. The second weekend – Fire & Ice weekend – is now just as popular as the first.

Fire & Ice is also a community fundraiser, with $5,000 going to both the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and to Kennebunkport Emergency Medical Services.

“This year we have trained all our staff in CPR and first-aid,” said Jean Ginn Marvin, Nonantum’s innkeeper. “We almost had a little boy drown in our pool this summer. Luckily Tom Macisso, our activities co-director, performed CPR, and by the time the ambulance arrived, the boy was breathing again.”

Inspired by this incident, the $5,000 for Kennebunkport EMS will act as seed money for a program to teach CPR and first aid to hotel and restaurant employees throughout the Kennebunks.

“We are very hopeful other hotels and restaurants will follow our lead and train their staffs,” Ginn Marvin said. “And our hope is that this program will spread statewide.”

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

]]> 0 Friends Emilie Spas and Alison Rogers, both of Kennebunk. Below: Keith and Eileen McPherson of Wells.Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:09:11 +0000
‘Land Sea Stone’ to open at University of New England gallery in Portland Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The University of New England Art Gallery in Portland will feature photographs by John Eide from the Antarctic Peninsula, the Inca ruins of Peru, and Maine granite quarries in an exhibition called “Land Sea Stone,” meant to illustrate how humankind leaves its mark on the landscape when appropriating natural resources.

The photos from Maine and Peru show the direct impact: granite quarries on Maine islands were big business between the Civil War and World War I, and the Incas quarried stone to build their structures, some of which remain as the only visible signs of that society. Photos of the Antarctic landscape, according to the gallery website, indirectly show how humans are “chipping away” at the environment.

“Land Sea Stone” will be on view from Wednesday through April 2 at the gallery on the campus at 716 Stevens Ave., Portland.

An artist reception will be held from 3-5 p.m. Saturday and the gallery will host a conversation with the photographer and photo historian Ray Saperstein from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 2.

For more information, go to

]]> 0, 14 Jan 2017 18:43:49 +0000
Book review: Colorful tales of 1901 World’s Fair a delightful read Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Bates College professor Margaret Creighton continues to prove herself among Maine’s most stalwart historians, with the appearance of “The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair.”

Creighton’s previous volumes, including “Rites & Passages: The Experience of American Whaling” (1995) and “Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History” (2005), were fun to read, fact-packed and full of fresh ways of interpreting events. The author’s fans will not be surprised, then, by a delightful read and an amazing juxtaposition of revelations throughout “The Electrifying Fall.”

In common with the earlier volumes, this one does not focus on Maine, but neatly references our state in context. We learn, for instance, “In Old Town, Maine, nearly half the population was packing its bags” for Buffalo, New York, in 1901, along with impressive contingents throughout the Western Hemisphere.

That’s because the city, then the eighth largest in the United States, was hosting the World’s Fair. This was the age before radio, television and homogeneous entertainment in America’s small towns. World fairs were the in thing and Buffalo was a commercial nexus, with its canals, connection to Canada, and growing steel production powered by the mighty Niagara Falls.

Buffalo’s community leaders, almost exclusively prosperous white males, were proud and anxious to push their city higher in the economic pecking order. America had just won the Spanish-American War, and the astonishing 20th century was on the quick march. Raising funds for such an extravaganza required energy, planning, the appearance of President William McKinley and anything else that could be pulled out of imagination’s star-spangled hat.

What might have proved a garbled stack of events in the hands of a lesser writer springs to bright and understandable life in the words and design of Creighton. Her tour of the World’s Fair is formed by official records, newspaper accounts, a deep knowledge of life and culture, and, most delightfully, by the scrapbook accounts of a young city school teacher, Mabel E. Barnes (1877-1946), who visited the fair 33 times and took exacting notes. Barnes had a grand time during her summer vacation and left an unrivaled description and framework, now in the Buffalo History Museum archives.

Still, even Barnes’ inquiring eyes and mind did not see everything. The American Negro exhibit was billeted on the edges of the midway and, in spite of leading African-American activist Mary Talbert’s effort to promote the notion of progress, the fair promoter chose to spotlight “Darkest Africa and Old Plantations Shows” with “specimens of pygmies and cannibals.” This is what the general public was given and perhaps wanted.

At Talbert’s pavilion, which featured the achievements of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois and others, the New York Times wrote blandly, “We may as well be entirely frank in the appraisal. Much of it is rubbish. None of it is very great.” In retrospect, one might say visitors, promoters and the press missed the forest for the trees.

They could not miss one tragic event, however, that occurred on Sept. 6, when an obscure assassin shot President McKinley at the Temple of Music. Saved from an additional bullet by quick-thinking James Parker, an African-American standing in line who wrestled the gunman down. McKinley remained upright saying, “Go easy on him.”

It seemed that McKinley would survive, for a short while, in the care of Buffalo’s top physicians, but he died eight days later, ushering in the whirlwind era and the iconic new leader, Theodore Roosevelt. In quick order, the murderer, Leon Czolgosz, whose name the public never learned to pronounce correctly, was tried, convicted and electrocuted.

During this time, the redoubtable middle-aged Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. And there were the ongoing antics of Frank “The Animal King” Bostock, who sought to keep his star performer, “Chiquita, the World’s Smallest Woman,” from running off with her true love, then planned to electrocute the rogue elephant “Jumbo II.” And so went the magical mystery tour.

Anyone who thinks history is dull or useless owes it to themselves, and the rest of us, to read “The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City.”

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

]]> 0, 14 Jan 2017 18:17:41 +0000
Deep Water: ‘Crow Calling’ by Marita O’Neil Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Dear crow calling from the other side,

You brought me a letter stuffed with mulberries, twigs, and softly collected silver threads of the katydid and dropped it in the house where I lived unexpectedly. There was a child dying and a mother whirling around her, listening to her dreams. In my dreams I danced with the child and pulled her in a red wagon through the snow. In the dream I was the child and she was the grandmother. Those days were bathtubs of rosemary and calendula, drum beats from a distant country. And like a flash, the metallic slick of your wings caught my eye as you flew off. Waiting for an answer, you paced on the roof of a mill, long abandoned, calling out in a dialect of black I couldn’t decipher. I set the words from your letter on my window ledge: nesting fur from the milkweed’s tongue, brown twigs covered in silver thorns; the berries bled, and twigs dark and purple wound around my fingers. But when it came time to speak, to answer in words, I was muted by the largess of the gifts, the weight of translation: black cliffs plunged into a windy sea, the tug of tree root and worm, the ineffectual scratching of hands, the terror of beak on flesh.

]]> 0 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:10:49 +0000
Colorful characters make ‘Hauling Through’ a lively read Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 In the novel “Hauling Through,” Jamie Kurz is a confused graduate of Bridgewater College located in Brementon in Maine’s midcoast. Think Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate.” But instead of finding himself unleashed on suburbia like Ben, Jamie flounders about in a very close and very salty fishing village at the edge of Casco Bay. Kestrel Cove, where he has taken a job as the third man on a lobster boat, is unlike anything Jamie has ever encountered.

If Bridgewater and Brementon sound familiar, it is because Peter Bridgford, the author, is a Bowdoin graduate. And if Kestrel Cove feels very realistic, it is because Bridgford has worked on a lobster boat (and other commercial fishing boats on both coasts). He has also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in winter and been a teacher (at Portland’s Breakwater School, among others).

Since 2014, Bridgford, who lives on Peaks Island, has turned his energies to writing. Based on his first novel, I would say he made an excellent choice. Its quirky cast of characters, not to mention situations, makes “Hauling Through” an engrossing and entertaining read.

Take the village of Kestrel Cove, for instance. Its residents are convinced that they are being watched by a Soviet satellite that flies over every day at 8 p.m. For most, this means heading for cover at that time, although at least one resident enjoys the opportunity for extreme sub-orbital exhibitionism.

Bridgford delights the reader with colorful individuals whose behavior and personalities only occasionally bump against credulity, and always with refreshing gusto.

There’s Jamie’s boss, the hardest-driving captain in the whole lobster fleet; his sternman, whose compulsive TV-watching has made him an improbable fount of esoteric trivia; a mystery man “with more money than God.” These, plus many more, make Kestrel Cove vibrate in the reader’s imagination. In fact, there are so many of them, in and beyond the village, that at times “Hauling Through” takes on the energy and bawdy charm of an 18th-century picaresque novel.

Throughout it all, we experience the pain as the “college boy” – initially a derisive moniker that gradually gains an affectionate overtone – makes a corresponding shift from terror to the need to fit in. Needless to say, love has a lot, but not everything, to do with gormless Jamie’s evolution.

Bridgford’s ear for dialogue is pitch-perfect, which among the lobstermen, especially when they are razzing the “college boy,” precludes quotation in a family newspaper. He also has an eye for the little detail that makes a scene come alive. When the sternman pauses mid-sentence, “taking a deep drag on this cigarette and holding the smoke for a moment before releasing it forcefully at the ceiling of the cab,” his frustration is palpable.

The author has an equally distinctive knack for description. Under stress, Jamie finds the lobster boat’s close-quarters “like a big Bavarian clock with pop-out figures that twirl and spin in their own little circles, as if dancing with their own personal demons.” And as the fall comes on: “Morning frosts were now common, and the woods were now fully committed to their transformation into a patchwork of oranges, browns and reds.”

Not the least of the book’s interest is in the seasonal progression and how it affects the lives of the lobstermen and their families.

“Hauling Through” is a wonderful first novel, but it has flaws. At 475 pages, it is too long. And when the reader gets there, the end is contrived and disappointing. There’s a sub-plot that has more liabilities to it than assets: Jamie is a scholar of the Civil War, which gives him the annoying habit of seeing any given situation in his personal life in terms of that conflict. “Instead of slinking away with his tail between his legs, he knew that he had to counterattack like Lee against McClellan at Second Bull Run.” Fortunately this tick subsides as the novel unfolds.

I wish Bridgford had developed the Soviet rocket theme further. As it is, the sputnik acts as bookends to the story, with the mysterious multi-billionaire serving as a deus ex machina in a comic-book shootout. But it does produce a memorable car chase, with a very funny running dialogue between the governor of Maine and the driver who has kidnapped him.

For all these criticisms, there is much more to enjoy and admire in “Hauling Through.” Bridgford is a superb storyteller. I hope we will hear more news from Kestrel Cove and its denizens in the future.

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

]]> 0, 14 Jan 2017 18:37:09 +0000
Signings: ‘Amazing Adventures with Dev’ author to discuss book about love and loss Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Psychotherapist Melody Boulton will talk about her new book, “Amazing Adventures with Dev,” the story of her strong connection with her son, Devon, who passed away three years ago, in this heartwarming and spiritually-charged guide to life after loss and testament to the transformative power of love.

WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: The Great Lost Bear, 540 Forest Ave., Portland


INFO: (317) 435-2116;

]]> 0, 14 Jan 2017 18:38:48 +0000
A new genre master creates another smart hero Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The easiest label to hang on Nick Petrie’s “Burning Bright” is to say that it’s a Child-ish thriller.

That’s a total compliment, mind you.

We’re comparing Petrie and his still-new series character, Peter Ash, an Afghanistan and Iraq combat veteran with a knack for finding trouble, to the great Lee Child and his two-fisted Jack Reacher.

And we’re not the only ones who have made this connection.Emblazoned across the cover of “Burning Bright,” above the title, is a ringing endorsement from Child himself: “Lots of characters get compared to my own Jack Reacher, but Peter Ash is the real deal.”

He is indeed. Reacher fans, especially those who have consumed all of Child’s novels and are thirsting for more, will find Peter Ash to be a more-than-capable substitute.

The heroes are cut from the same cloth, and their adventures are action-packed from start to finish, but the writing and the characters are different enough that the newcomer doesn’t feel like a copycat.

“Burning Bright” is the second novel featuring Peter Ash. He made his debut last year in “The Drifter.”

Now, stateside after eight years of dangerous deployments, the 30-something decorated Recon Marine is a smart and skilled adrenaline junkie.

He’s a man with a code and strong feelings about right and wrong. He’s ever-ready to step in for those in need of a white knight, even if he’s greatly outnumbered.

Alas, this Superman has his own form of Kryptonite: post-traumatic stress that manifests itself as a crippling kind of claustrophobia – or what he calls “white static.” In short, he loses his edge indoors.

Peter’s extreme aversion to enclosed spaces is why he has spent the past two years drifting across America, albeit in not quite as minimalist a way as Reacher does it.

“Burning Bright” opens with Ash backpacking alone among the giant redwoods in Northern California. A chance encounter with an aggressive grizzly bear sends Peter scrambling 40 feet up a tree. While up there, he spots a climbing rope dangling from a taller, neighboring tree.

Peter, always up for a new adventure, decides to find out what’s on the other end of that rope. That leads him to a hidden platform hundreds of feet up at the top of the forest canopy and straight into the life of June Cassidy, a young woman on the run from a team of muscle-bound mercenaries.

The bad guys claim to be Department of Defense agents, but they’re clearly not. They’ve already killed her mother, a brilliant software designer who developed a self-learning skeleton-key algorithm that could become a game-changing hacking/information-gathering/espionage tool.

Now they’re after June, a journalist, because they think she can give them what they want.

Peter has nothing better to do – and besides, June is awfully cute – so he becomes her protector and takes on an army of bad guys, which includes one particularly ruthless lone-wolf killer.

The first quarter of the book is a roller-coaster adventure in an almost literal sense, a fast and dangerous chase that begins with a zip-line ride from tree to tree and ends with a wild auto pileup and shootout along a desolate forest road. It’s what Peter thinks of as “a pretty interesting day.”

Once we finally get a moment to catch our breath, the story morphs into a complicated high-tech conspiracy thriller that fans will find both surprising and comfortably familiar.

The biggest complaint that faithful Lee Child fans have about his Reacher novels is that we read them much faster than he can write them. So it’s nice to have somebody new like Petrie, somebody who’s a very talented writer to boot, to help us endure the wait till our main man drifts back into our lives.

]]> 0, 13 Jan 2017 16:11:04 +0000
Drama dropout rises to drama queen in ‘Victoria’ Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 British actress Jenna Coleman tried to attend drama school. She really did. But her intentions were constantly thwarted when people kept hiring her as an actress.

There are worse things, she sighs on a sultry sunny day in a hotel meeting room here. “I learned on the job really. I feel I missed something – it’s one of those things: What if I’d taken that road, or what if I’d taken THAT road, what would I know? I’ve never been trained in Shakespeare. Does that mean I can’t do it?

“I think the one thing I would’ve liked would be to have that rehearsal space, whereas I’ve done my training, but on camera, which is wonderful and I’ve learned a lot, but in a different way,” says the Blackpool native.

What she learned on camera catapulted her to “Doctor Who,” where she performed 39 episodes of the sci-fi favorite and became friends with two of the Doctors, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

And while it doesn’t seem probable, that part led to the redolent role of “Victoria,” premiering on PBS’ “Masterpiece” Sunday. In “Victoria” Coleman interprets England’s long-reigning queen from age l8 to 21 – the defining years as Coleman sees them.

“I did lot of research on Victoria, how creative she was, which I never knew. She had such passion for music and opera and ballet and visuals. She created her own wedding dress, and wrote in her diary, and did watercolor and sketch, and she tried to learn how to sing opera. She had people come around to the house and teach her. She’s so vibrant and unapologetically full of life and never tried to hide it or pull back from it, which I really love about her.”

She pauses.

“She’s really inconsistent and very flawed, but I love that. I think that’s what’s been quite tricky to play her, being unashamedly flawed. I’m trying to make that likable. It’s really tricky, but it’s who she was, and it’s what makes her so marvelous,” she says.

Coleman, who studied dance from age 4, relinquished the idea of becoming a prima ballerina and decided, at about 10, she wanted to act. She participated in school plays and later helped establish In Your Space, a small theater company that traveled to various festivals and reinvested every farthing back into the company.

“I did my first two TV jobs, then didn’t work for about a year,” says Coleman. She decided to try her luck in Los Angeles, where she landed various odd jobs. “I did waitressing in a bar. I tried to start a babysitting company, then I realized, ‘Oh, my goodness, people are going to put the care of their children in my hands, I don’t want the responsibility right now.’

She laughs.

“I remember we did loads of all sorts of stuff, did voice-overs, had a flatmate, but I don’t remember what the rent was.”

To make ends meet she had what she calls “car-boot sales.” “You fill up your car with stuff you don’t want anymore. You open your car boot (trunk) and set up a store. It’s like a flea market. I did that every Sunday.”

That year of unemployment proved frustrating, she admits. “I didn’t know how to go about achieving what I wanted to achieve; getting myself in a place where I could be in rooms to try. If I could be in rooms and people then say ‘No,’ then fine. But I felt like I was in a place where I couldn’t get in rooms for people to say ‘No.’ But you feel as long as you’re trying your hardest, that’s all you can ask for, really.”

In Los Angeles she essayed a massive number of auditions. “I was part of the ‘cattle,’ and then I went home and got a tiny part in ‘Captain America’ and from there things started to move a bit and interesting work came in, and scripts that I adored. And it was great. I loved it.”

Studious as a kid, Coleman, 30, says her parents were always encouraging. Her dad is a joiner and her mother stayed home to raise her and her older brother. “I was always a mixture between being extremely shy but then putting on a show for people,” she recalls.

“I could entertain myself for days on end. My mum said I would get lost if I decided to make something or to start a new game.”

She refuses to say whether she has a boyfriend but confesses she wouldn’t mind marriage. Then she amends that to say, “Not necessarily marriage. I’d like to believe you find someone you have children with and stay with; whether that’s marriage or not, I don’t know.”


Jerry Lee Lewis, Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash will assemble in one big television series when CMT’s original, “Sun Records,” premieres on Feb. 23. It’s the story of the Memphis-based Sam Phillips and his magical way of introducing up-and-coming musicians to vinyl and an eager audience.

Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”) plays Col. Tom Parker, who managed both Presley and Eddy Arnold. Gardell started in standup comedy and recalls his family’s reaction to his choice: “My mother said what any mother would say, ‘Are you out of your mind? Get a job with insurance. Work in a warehouse. Make sure you stay there. They have good benefits.’

“That’s what a mother’s supposed to say. My father was like, ‘Follow your dream because if you don’t, you’re going to be in a job you hate for the rest of your life. So at least go find out.’ They were divorced at the time, so it was two different perspectives.”


Fans of the methodical and dashing Det. William Murdoch will be happy to know he’s back making the streets of Toronto safe every Monday through April 24.

The 10th season of “Murdoch Mysteries,” is once again streaming on Acorn.TV. Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson, is one of Canada’s most popular characters and Americans have taken a shine to him too. The series takes place at the turn-of-the-century, and Murdoch is beginning to utilize crime-stopping forensics, even in this early day.

While Bisson’s acting career has been fruitful and multiplied, it required one serious sacrifice, he says.

“I got a dramatic role at 14 and sort of been working off and on ever since. It was tough with my education. Back then there were no sort of checks and balances in place to protect kids, so my education fell by the wayside. I kept going back to high school and kept getting movies. And I’d have to travel to wherever – Europe or the West Coast, and that sort of thing. And the teachers just wouldn’t work with you. So that was a bit of a problem. … By the time I was a junior in high school, I was making more than my father had ever made … so I just basically dropped out.”

]]> 0 Coleman plays the young queen in "Victoria" on PBS.Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:41:40 +0000
No plans for digital Fisher in ‘Star Wars’ Sat, 14 Jan 2017 20:55:51 +0000 LOS ANGELES — The makers of “Star Wars” have put a quick end to rumors that while Carrie Fisher has died, her Princess Leia may live on.

Making a rare foray into the sprawling world of “Star Wars” speculation, Lucasfilm said Friday night that there are no plans to digitally recreate Fisher to appear in future episodes of the movie saga.

“There is a rumor circulating that we would like to address,” a company statement said. “We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.”

Fisher, who reprised her role as Leia in 2015’s “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” had finished shooting “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” due out next December, when she died Dec. 27 of cardiac arrest at age 60.

Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died the next day.

But Fisher had also been slated to appear in “Episode IX,” scheduled for release in 2019. That film is still being scripted, and the writers are deciding how to handle her death.

]]> 0 Press/George Brich Harrison Ford chats with Carrie Fisher in 1978. Filmmakers said they have no plans to digitize Fisher in future films.Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:59:58 +0000
Religion calendar Sat, 14 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Developing A Meditation Practice. Workshop. $25, The Yoga Center, 449 Forest Ave., Portland, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Book Release Party for “Finding Our Way Home: A Spiritual Journey into Earth Community.” Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Allen Avenue Unitarian-Universalist Church in Portland. Rev. Myke Johnson’s new book reflects on her eco-spiritual journey and wrestles with the long history of our society’s destruction of the natural world.

What Now for Muslims? Reza Jalali and Rev. Myke Johnson will discuss the fear and uncertainty that Muslim immigrants and others are facing. Allen Avenue Unitarian-Universalist Church, 524 Allen Ave., Portland,, 9-10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday.

MLK Community Brunch & Learn-In. King Middle School, 92 Deering Ave., Portland,, 10 a.m.-noon Sunday.

Buddhism Unwrapped. Introduction to Buddhahood. $10 suggested donation. Merrymeeting Arts Center, Bowdoinham, 9 Main St., Bowdoinham,, 10-11:15 a.m. Sunday.

Finding inner freedom through meditation. Drop-in classes that explore the fundamentals of meditation. $10, $5 students and seniors, The Yoga Center, 449 Forest Ave., Portland.

Film & Discussion: In Remembrance of Martin. Personal comments from family,friends and advisers fill this remarkable documentary honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Unity of Greater Portland, 54 River Road, Windham. Noon-2 p.m. Sunday.

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Ed McCartan revisits the work of Franciscan contemplative Richard Rohr. $30, $20 members, Maine Jung Center, 183 Park Row,, 2-4 p.m. Sunday.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Service. Gomes Chapel, Bates College, 275 College St., Lewiston,, 7-8 p.m. Sunday.

Prayer, Promises, Hope and Faith. St. Augustine Anglican Church continues its Bible Study series every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at 656 Route 1 in Scarborough.

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

]]> 0 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:04:26 +0000
Reflections: Museum exhibit will highlight Maine’s Jewish community Sat, 14 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 In the spring of 2018, the Maine State Museum in Augusta will open what will be the largest exhibit on Maine Jewry ever presented

Although, until recently, never more than about 10,000 strong, Maine’s Jewish community has always reflected the themes that have characterized the more than three and one-half centuries of Jewish life in the United States (1654-2016):

A belief in the promise of America.

Faith in the pluralistic nature of America.

A quest for economic and professional success.

A commitment to the survival of the Jewish community.

Maine Jewry has sought to balance its American social contract, the notion of being a “good American,” with the understanding that they were part of a “holy community,” whose essential purpose was to “be a light unto the nations,” and that those nations would understand that redemption could only be achieved through the moral and ethical life, individually and collectively.

For those Jews who began to come to Maine and Portland from Eastern Europe in the 1860s, many of them to escape from the oppression of Czarist Russia, the state seemed a reassuring haven. When Portland celebrated its centenary on July 4, 1886, Barnard Aaronson, designated to speak for the small Jewish community of the time , observed:

“We number 60 families, and over the majority portion being of the middle or poorer class, yet content with their lot…. The form of religion is Orthodox, and yet (we) are thoroughly liberal in thought and action.”

In looking back at the 20 years since the Great Portland Fire of 1866 had attracted a group of Jewish merchants and peddlers to help the city’s efforts in rebuilding, Aaronson could only find a positive relationship to his Christian neighbors: “…our city fathers have in the past fully merited the good will and affectionate esteem in which they are held by us.”

Yet, Aaronson was more cautious about the future: “We sincerely hope nothing will occur in the future to mar the harmonious feeling now existing between the denominations….”

He had every reason for such caution. As two of the other speakers during the program recounted, the religious past had been, at best, a difficult one.

The Rev. J. G. Wilson, representing the Abyssinian Church, one of the first African American churches in America, spoke of a Portland past that included slavery, physical violence, and religious and racial exclusion.

No less appalling was the history of the Roman Catholic presence recounted by Bishop James Augustine Healy of Portland: “In those days (1830s and 1840s) it was difficult, almost dangerous, to show a kind face or fair dealing to Catholics.”

Healy concluded his frank historical assessment, “Let us remember… when the name Catholic was like a badge of ignominy in our town.” He was less frank, and with good reason, about his racial background, which was one half African American, the result of his mother’s status as a slave in Georgia.

But Aaronson’s optimism was not an illusion. Unlike Jewish life in Europe, where Jews were by far the most visible and persecuted minority over a 2,000-year period, Jews in Maine could be comforted in the knowledge that other groups, especially Roman Catholics, often stood ahead of them as victims of religious and sometimes racial intolerance.

Yet there was a problem. The classic Yankeefied Puritan spirit, in which the Maine Yankee was recognized as the most authentic, played a decisive factor in shaping the image that the state of Maine wanted to project to the outside world and to itself. It was an image that sought to confront, overwhelm, and neutralize the “religious dissenters, profane economic opportunists, and non-English immigrants (who) disrupted the region’s Puritan and, later, Yankee culture and identity.”

That confrontation was highlighted in the 1920s by the presence of the Maine Ku Klux Klan, led by F. Eugene Farnsworth, who, at a Klan rally, threw out a challenge to the anti- Klan opposition:

“Gather together all the anti-Klan voices you can – Catholic, Negro, Jew, and Italian – all the gang, and I wouldn’t give you 10 cents for the whole bunch….”

By the late 1960s, Maine’s Jewish community had achieved a position of recognition, both in terms of its involvement in social welfare and the prominence of its business and professional communities. But the opportunity for Jewish business people to socialize with their Christian counterparts beyond the 9 to 5 workday was a rare or even non-existent occurrence.

This was especially true of institutions where business and professional groups met on the golf course or over the two-martini lunch or dinner. The same was true for many of Maine’s summer resorts where Jews were not welcome, and in exclusive Maine neighborhoods where certain covenantal restrictions excluded Jews and African Americans.

The historical record shows that Jews in Maine faced both the harshness of religious and social bigotry as well as receiving the help of non-Jewish politicians who shared their view of an ideal community and helped to break down the barriers of discrimination.

Among the most important of these was a non-Jewish Republican legislator, Sen. S. Peter Mills of Franklin County, who in 1968 attended a panel in Portland where he stated that it was a good thing that Maine was free of intolerance toward Jews or any other groups. He was told by a friend, a Jewish lawyer from Portland, that this was not the case – that the new director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra had just been turned down by an exclusive Portland club simply because he was a Jew.

“When I was driving home to Farmington that night,” Mills remembered, “this information bothered me terribly. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought it was a disgrace that the state of Maine could tolerate such a situation where a person could be barred because of race, religion or color.”

As we enter a time of political and social uncertainty, perhaps an exhibit highlighting the story of one old “New Mainers” community and its struggles to overcome prejudice and discrimination and yet maintain its religious ideals can be a lesson for those current immigrant and refugee “New Mainers” who must find their own voices and carve their own futures as Americans.

Abraham J. Peck, a historian at the University of Southern Maine, is the co-author (with Jean M. Peck) of “Maine’s Jewish Heritage” (Arcadia Publishing, 2007) and a member of the Maine State Museum’s Jewish exhibit advisory group.

]]> 0 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 20:16:34 +0000
Knitting project protesting Trump is taking off in Portland Sat, 14 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Wearing a hat made for the Pussyhat Project, Linda Healey of Kennebunk laughs with others gathered for a spinning group at PortFiber on Thursday. Craftspeople are knitting the hats to be worn at the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21.

Wearing a hat made for the Pussyhat Project, Linda Healey of Kennebunk laughs with others gathered for a spinning group at PortFiber on Thursday. Craftspeople are knitting the hats to be worn at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

There’s a run on pink yarn in Greater Portland.

Suzie von Reyn, co-owner of KnitWit Yarn Shop, restocked a deep pink color called “Rosa Rogusa” last week. A group of knitters and crocheters will gather with their pink yarn Saturday afternoon at PortFiber. At Tess’ Designer Yarns, Tess Bickford just dyed at least five large pots of yarn in various shades of pink. “All of a sudden, we started getting calls,” Bickford said. “They’re having trouble finding pink yarn anywhere.”

It’s all because of the Pussyhat Project.

Crafters across the country are making thousands of pink, cat-eared hats for participants in women’s marches in the nation’s capital and other communities – including Portland, Brunswick and Augusta – on Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump is to be inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president. Started by two knitters in Los Angeles, the idea has spread through social media and sewing circles.

The name for the hats is in part a cheeky reference to videotaped remarks Trump made in 2005 about grabbing women without their consent. On their website, the Pussyhat Project founders said they want to reclaim the term, while making a visual statement about women’s rights.

Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, knits a hat for the Pussyhat Project on Thursday. The hats will be worn by women at protest marches in Washington and elsewhere on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president.

Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, knits a hat for the Pussyhat Project on Thursday. The hats will be worn by women at protest marches in Washington and elsewhere on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The New York Times reported Thursday that the project had received more than 60,000 hats, which will be donated to marchers at the protest on the National Mall next Saturday. Thousands of other knitters are distributing hats to friends, family members and strangers who will be in Washington, D.C., or participating in local marches next Saturday.

Susan Pennoyer, co-owner of Mother of Purl Yarn Shop in Freeport, said she doesn’t want to take a political position on the hats. She did stock up on pink yarn, and several participants in the shop’s Thursday night knitting group were working on their own cat ears.

“They were making them for themselves, and for friends who didn’t know how to knit, who may have needed a hand, so to speak,” Pennoyer said.

At KnitWit in Portland, von Reyn said the project has helped strangers in her shop bond as they peruse her selection of pink yarn.

“There seems to be a lot of interest and a lot of camaraderie,” she said. “They’ll ask, ‘Which march are you going to?’ ”


The pattern for the cat-eared caps is simple, which local store owners said is part of its success. While advanced knitters have varied the design and colors, even beginners haven’t been intimidated from trying to make their own.

Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, says, "I'll just bring a stack (of hats) and hand them out" next week.

Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, says, “I’ll just bring a stack (of hats) and hand them out” next week. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“The starting point was very accessible for people,” said Gretchen Jaeger at Halcyon Yarn in Bath.

The Pussyhat Project also is intended to give people who aren’t marching a way to participate. Crafters who can’t be at the march in person can attach a card to their hats before sending them off to be given to someone else, on which they can write their names and an issue important to them.

Casey Ryder, owner of PortFiber, is making hats for herself and her friends to wear at the march in Washington, but she’s also making extras and collecting hats at her Portland shop until the end of Thursday.

“I’ll just bring a stack and hand them out,” Ryder said.

Cape Elizabeth resident Erica McNally is a regional volunteer coordinator who is organizing more than 3,000 Maine women traveling to the Women’s March on Washington, as well as a sister march in Augusta. She said one woman enlisted her sewing group to make hats for the 55 women riding the bus from Rockland because she can’t attend the march herself.

“They’ve been knitting hats like crazy,” McNally said.

Wearing a pink pussy hat, Casey Ryder of Portland laughs with a spinning group at PortFiber on Thursday. Women are knitting the hats to wear to the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, and Ryder is planning to march.

Wearing a pink pussy hat, Casey Ryder of Portland laughs with a spinning group at PortFiber on Thursday. Women are knitting the hats to wear to the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, and Ryder is planning to march.

While the end result is a woolly set of animal ears, the knitters aren’t worried their caps or the name of the project will distract from the march’s mission.

McNally said the name of the hats is purposeful. “It’s vulgar, it’s crude, it’s crass, it’s wimpy, it’s not strong,” McNally said. “We’re taking it back and having fun with the word.”


For Maggie Muth of Portland, the hats are reminiscent of the quilts suffragettes made for banners.

Muth rejected criticism that the hats are a gimmick unfit for a serious cause.

“When you feel powerless, you need to do something,” she said. “Everyone can’t get to Washington. Everyone can’t change a law in Congress. It’s a concrete way to bring people together, people of different backgrounds.”

So Muth, who founded a sewing group called Stitch HIVE, is meeting at PortFiber to make hats on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The event is open to the public. Participants can bring their own supplies, and Muth will have tools and yarn for those without.

“This has energized a lot of people across generations to use their everyday skills in simple ways, but ways that are effective,” she said.

Bickford, who dyed fresh batches of pink yarn to sell in Tess’ Designer Yarns in Portland next week, said she hasn’t had the chance to think about making a hat for herself.

“I’m actually so busy trying to make sure everyone has their own yarn,” Bickford said.

Staff writer Mary Pols contributed to this report.


]]> 0, ME - JANUARY 12: Wearing a pink pussy hat, Casey Ryder of Portland laughs with a group gathered for a spinning group at Portland Fiber Thursday, January 12, 2017. Woman are knitting the hats to wear to the Women's march on Washington on Jan. 21, a protest the day after Trumps inauguration. Ryder is planning to participate in the march.(Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:54:16 +0000
Hasty Pudding award goes to Ryan Reynolds Sat, 14 Jan 2017 03:31:22 +0000 CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Ryan Reynolds, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing the title role in 2016’s “Deadpool,” was named Man of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals student group Friday.

The award is presented annually to performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment.

“Ryan Reynolds is one of Hollywood’s most diverse leading men seamlessly transitioning through varied genres of drama, action and comedy in his rich and ever evolving career,” the group said.

Reynolds is due to be roasted and receive his pudding pot on Feb. 3.

In addition to “Deadpool,” the Canadian-born actor has appeared recently in “R.I.P.D.,” “Mississippi Grind” and “Self/less.”

He stars with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson in the science fiction movie “Life” and with Salma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” both due out this year.

Reynolds also has a TV production company, DarkFire, which recently sold its first two projects.

He serves on the board of directors for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and in 2007 raised more than $100,000 when he ran the New York City Marathon in honor of his father, who has Parkinson’s.

]]> 0 ReynoldsFri, 13 Jan 2017 23:53:19 +0000
Top poets’ paths converging before Trump inauguration Sat, 14 Jan 2017 01:13:26 +0000 BOSTON — America’s leading poets are averse to Donald Trump, and they’re not about to go gentle into that good night.

Poetry slams and other literary events are being organized nationwide in the run-up to the president-elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Some, like this weekend’s “Writers Resist” rallies in New York, Boston and 90 other U.S. cities, are overtly in protest. Others are merely an attempt to find a little solace in verse.

“Our country was founded on brilliant writing,” said Erin Belieu, an award-winning poet who runs the creative writing program at Florida State University. She hatched the Writers Resist movement “to re-inaugurate the best of our democratic ideals.”

On Sunday, poets, writers and artists will gather in 32 states – as well as in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, London and Singapore – to read aloud from their own works and quote inspirational passages from others.

The lead event in the series sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America will be staged on the steps of the New York Public Library and feature former U.S. poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove.

Pinsky, a professor of English and creative writing at Boston University, said he’ll recite a new poem he wrote for the occasion that will invoke the celebrated black poet Gwendolyn Brooks, Walt Whitman and others who waxed lyrical about American democratic ideals.

“Those of us who use words professionally have a certain stake in the truth,” he said. “It’s hard to think of anything more important. In the long run, lies and fabrications wither away, but the truth endures forever.”

Daniel Evans Pritchard, a Boston writer, said he and others in the literary world are troubled by the tone of Trump’s tweets and worried the incoming new administration will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

“Language is the tool we use to build our political and democratic structures,” he said. “To suggest that words don’t matter is to say the Constitution is just words; the Bill of Rights is just words.”

Trump transition team officials didn’t return emails seeking comment. Trump’s camp hasn’t said whether he plans to include poetry in his inauguration – a tradition for presidential swearings-in.

Michael Ansara, founder of the group Mass Poetry, said interest has surged nationally since the election. Internet searches of poetry are up 20 percent to 30 percent, he said.

]]> 0 U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky will attend a writer's protest of the Trump administration.Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:16:46 +0000
British broadcaster canceling Jackson comedy Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:29:56 +0000 LONDON — A British broadcaster said Friday it was canceling a TV comedy starring Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson after the program was condemned by the late musician’s family.

Sky Arts said it has decided not to broadcast the program “in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family.” It said Fiennes “fully supports our decision.”

Sky had been criticized for casting the white “Shakespeare in Love” star as the King of Pop in “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon.” The half-hour program also features Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and British actor Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.

Jackson’s daughter Paris tweeted that she felt angry after watching a trailer for the show, which was due to be broadcast next week.

“I’m so incredibly offended by it, as I’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit,” she wrote.

“It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother Liz as well.”

The show is an episode in the “Urban Myths” series, which Sky says looks at “remarkable stories from well-known historical, artistic and cultural figures, which may or may not have happened in real life.”

It centers on a possibly apocryphal cross-country road trip taken by Jackson, Taylor and Brando after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sky said it was intended as “a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense.”

Fiennes defended his casting to The Associated Press last year, saying the project does not promote stereotyping.

]]> 0 Fiennes was slated to play Michael Jackson in a British comedy until Jackson's family objected.Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:33:43 +0000
‘Exorcist’ author William Peter Blatty dies at 89 Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:22:25 +0000 NEW YORK — Novelist and filmmaker William Peter Blatty, a former Jesuit school valedictorian who conjured a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the best-selling novel and Oscar-winning movie “The Exorcist,” has died. He was 89.

Blatty died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he lived, said his widow, Julie Alicia Blatty. The cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, she said.

Inspired by an incident in a Washington suburb that Blatty had read about while in college, “The Exorcist” was published in 1971, followed two years later by the film of the same name. Blatty’s story of a 12-year-old-girl possessed by a satanic force spent more than a year on The New York Times fiction best-seller list and eventually sold more than 10 million copies. It reached a far wider audience through the movie version, directed by William Friedkin, produced and written by Blatty and starring Linda Blair as the young, bedeviled Regan.


“RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time,” Stephen King tweeted Friday. “So long, Old Bill.”

Even those who thought they had seen everything had never seen anything like the R-rated “The Exorcist” and its assault of vomit, blood, rotting teeth, ghastly eyes and whirlwind head-spinning – courtesy of makeup and special effects maestro Dick Smith. Fans didn’t care that Vincent Canby of The New York Times found it a “chunk of elegant occultist claptrap,” or that the set burned down during production. They stood for hours in freezing weather for the winter release and kept coming even as the movie, with its omnipresent soundtrack theme, Mike Oldfield’s chilly, tingly “Tubular Bells,” cast its own disturbing spell.

From around the world came reports of fainting, puking, epileptic fits, audience members charging the screen and waving rosary beads, and, in England, a boy committing murder and blaming “The Exorcist.” The Rev. Billy Graham would allege that the film’s very celluloid was evil.


“I was standing in the back of a theater in New York at the first public press screening of the film, too nervous to sit down,” Blatty told in 2000. “And along came a woman who got up in about the fifth or sixth row. A young woman, who started walking up the aisle, slowly at first. She had her hand to her head. And then I could see her lips moving. She got close enough, and I could hear her murmuring, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”‘

Named the scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly, “The Exorcist” topped $400 million worldwide at the box office, among the highest at the time for an R-rated picture. Oscar voters also offered rare respect for a horror film: “The Exorcist” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and received two, for best sound and Blatty’s screenplay. Imitations, parodies and sequels were inevitable, whether the Leslie Nielsen spoof “Repossessed”; the four subsequent “Exorcist” movies (only one of which, “The Exorcist III,” involved Blatty) or a stage version performed in 2012 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.


“When I was writing the novel I thought of it as a supernatural detective story, and to this day I cannot recall having a conscious intention to terrify anybody, which you may take, I suppose, as an admission of failure on an almost stupefying scale,” Blatty told The Huffington Post in 2011.

Blatty returned to the “Exorcist” setting in “Legion,” which he adapted into “The Exorcist III.” He also revised a novel from the 1960s, “Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer Kane”‘; renamed it “The Ninth Configuration” and wrote and directed a 1980 film version that brought Blatty a Golden Globe for best screenplay. In 2011, he worked in a new scene for a reissue of the 1971 novel, originally acquired by Bantam Books for a reported $250,000. More recently, Fox announced it would revive the story as a TV series, starring Geena Davis.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Blatty was born in New York City, was a scholarship student at the Jesuit high school Brooklyn Preparatory and graduated as class valedictorian. He received another scholarship to attend Georgetown University and earned a master’s in English literature from George Washington University.


As recounted in his memoir “I’ll Tell Them I Remember You,” he took many detours on his journey to the top. He sold vacuum cleaners, drove a beer truck, served in the Air Force, was stationed in Beirut by the United States Information Agency, tried and failed to get stories published in Collier’s, and auditioned for a role in Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic “The Ten Commandments.” He alleged that he was turned down because his eyes were blue.

For much of the 1960s, he turned out screenplays, including for the Blake Edwards films “A Shot in the Dark” and “What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?” By the end of the decade, he was in a state of “financial desperation” and finally got around to a novel he had been thinking about for years. He had remembered a Washington Post report from the late 1940s: A 14-year-old boy from Maryland was reportedly possessed, his condition defined by a visiting Duke University official as “the most impressive example of poltergeist phenomena I have ever come across.”

“Like so many Catholics, I’ve had so many little battles of wavering faith over the course of my life,” Blatty told

“And when I heard about this case and read the details, that seemed so compelling. I thought, ‘My God, if someone were to investigate this and authenticate it, what a tremendous boost to faith it would be.’ I thought, ‘Someday I would like to see that happen. You know, I would like to do it.”‘

]]> 0"The Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty, left, joins Linda Blair, who starred in the 1973 film, and William Friedkin, the director, at a screening of the remastered film in 2010.Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:31:18 +0000
Graham family differs on role of Christianity in politics Fri, 13 Jan 2017 23:49:39 +0000 For decades, Billy Graham was perhaps America’s most famous religious figure, someone who could draw hundreds of thousands to evangelistic “crusades,” someone picked by president after president to pray at inaugurations. If America had a pastor, Graham was it.

Yet as he aged – he’s now 98 and ailing – members of this evangelical royal family began to form their own views. Now as Graham’s son, Franklin, prepares to participate in the inauguration of Donald Trump, the views among Billy Graham’s descendants reflect tensions that have flared anew with the election over the proper role of Christianity in public life.

Franklin Graham, 64, never formally endorsed Trump but used his “Decision America Tours” to mobilize voters. Graham will read a Bible passage at Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, though he says he doesn’t know which one yet.

Graham joined Trump in Alabama during the president-elect’s “Thank You” tour on Dec. 17. “Having Franklin Graham, who was so instrumental, we won so big, with evangelical Christians,” Trump said.

After the election there was lot of discussion about how Trump won, Graham told the crowd. “I believe it was God,” Graham said, adding that God had answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people.

Billy and Ruth Graham had five children, and many of their descendants work in the ministry, including Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham and Franklin Graham’s son Will Graham, who are popular evangelists. Their grandson Boz Tchividjian works to combat child sex abuse in churches as head of a ministry called GRACE. The family is tight knit and doesn’t often speak publicly about internal family strife.

But Jerushah Armfield, Billy Graham’s granddaughter and Franklin Graham’s niece, said the Graham family is not the single unit that many on the outside see. She said that while family members respect one another and most voted for Trump, they do not all fall on the same side of social issues or hold the same views about the role of faith in politics.

Armfield, a writer and a pastor’s wife in South Carolina, said her uncle’s suggestion that Trump’s win meant God answered the country’s prayer was bad theology.

“To suggest the president-elect is an ambassador to further the kingdom in the world diminishes not only my Jesus but all he stood for and came to earth to fight against,” she said.

She said Trump “encouraged racism, sexism and intolerance, exactly what Jesus taught against.” She said that her grandfather “understood the love of Jesus that fought for the outliers while the president-elect ostracized them.”

“The evangelical leaders that endorsed Trump put power and influence over principles and character,” she said.

Franklin Graham said he doesn’t talk about politics with family members because he doesn’t want to divide the family. As with many evangelical families, Graham said he knows some family members may have voted differently from him in the presidential election.

“I’ve tried to remind people in the evangelical community this election wasn’t about crude language, it wasn’t about lost emails,” he said. It was about electing someone, who would appoint anti-abortion-rights Supreme Court justices, he believes.

Franklin Graham’s relationship with Trump goes back to 2011, when in an interview with journalist Christiane Amanpour, Graham gave fuel to “birther” claims by suggesting that Obama should produce his birth certificate. He also floated the idea of Trump as president, saying he thought the businessman had some good ideas for the country.

A few days after that interview, Trump called him, Graham said, the first time the two had talked.

“I never told him he should run,” Graham said. He said he does not want to reveal things said in private. “I haven’t tried to give him advice. I don’t feel that’s my role.”

Franklin Graham was a rebellious child who took up drinking, smoking and partying as a young adult, a lifestyle he describes in his 1995 autobiography, “Rebel With a Cause.”

After his conversion experience, Graham became involved with Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization that distributes supplies to people in need, and he became its president and chairman in 1979. He now feels he could be of help to Trump in countries where Samaritan’s Purse has made a footprint.

Though Billy Graham passed on his ministry to his son, he was not afraid to publicly disagree with him. In 2005, Larry King asked Billy what he thought about Franklin calling Islam “evil and wicked.” Billy responded, “Well, he has (his) views and I have mine. And they are different sometimes.”

Anne Blue Wills, who is working on a biography of Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife, believes that Franklin Graham was significantly influenced by his mother, who died in 2007. Wills said they shared a stubborn streak, a love of practical jokes and a desire to win any argument.

He was also influenced by his maternal grandfather, according to Wills. L. Nelson Bell, who was instrumental in mobilizing evangelicals to support Richard Nixon over the Catholic John F. Kennedy, would have been considered a culture warrior, unlike Billy Graham, she said. “Franklin would be proud to be called a culture warrior,” she said.

Graham says he believes that the president-elect has chosen a strong team, “maybe one of the strongest our country has seen in recent years.”

He said he does not believe Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon is a white supremacist, despite Bannon’s strong connection to the alt-right movement. He also does not believe that white supremacy is on the rise in this country.

“I’m more concerned about ‘fake news.’ We live in this age where people can create news and create issues when they’re not issues,” he said.

Graham endorses the idea Trump promoted through his campaign that Muslims should be vetted before coming to the United States.

And Trump’s faith?

“The times I’ve been around him, he has expressed his faith, no question,” Graham said. “I have to take the man at his word.”

]]> 0 Graham, right, arrives with his son, Franklin Graham, for a memorial service for Ruth Graham in Montreat, N.C., in 2007.Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:49:39 +0000
Report of ghost at Biddeford City Theater met with skepticism Fri, 13 Jan 2017 23:30:37 +0000 When it comes to alleged photographs of ghosts, few things are provable. But in the latest installment of the story about the specter of singer Eva Gray, one thing is verifiable. A group called EVP Paranormal of Maine did enter the City Theater in Biddeford on the night of Dec. 19, the time it claims to have captured an image of her on the stairs.

“I let them in,” Biddeford facilities manager Phil Radding confirmed. “They came in with all these infrared cameras. Whether that stuff was real or photoshopped, I don’t know.”

A controversy erupted Friday when artistic director Linda Sturdivant’s daughter Sara accused the group of a hoax. In a Facebook post and in the comments section of the Portland Press Herald’s original story about the alleged paranormal occurrence, Sara Sturdivant questioned whether the group had even been in the theater. “The picture of City Theater from (Main) St. shows the show EDGES on the marquis,” she wrote. “This photo leads you to believe they (took) it on Dec. 19, 2016. EDGES was performed many years ago.”

Linda Sturdivant said a “breakdown in communications” between the city staff and the theater staff had led to her daughter’s belief that EVP had not been in the theater. She said her daughter was being “protective” of the theater she loves. The younger Sturdivant lives in Massachusetts but has assisted with or directed the music for several shows at the City Theater.

“Nobody is upset with anybody,” Linda Sturdivant said. Or anymore, that is. “A little bit of the anxiety from our part came from how did these people get in the building?”

The City Theater cultivates the Eva Gray story as part of the theater’s mythology. She was a singer who died suddenly at the theater on the day before Halloween in 1904, with her young daughter in the theater. Gray’s granddaughter visited the theater last summer, Sturdivant said. “She had it on her bucket list to see the space where her grandmother sang.”

Radding said he let the group in and stayed with them the whole time they were there. Caroline Mezoian, one of the co-founders of EVP Paranormal of Maine, said the group was there from about 5:30 until just after 9 p.m. She said her all-female team of five set up four cameras, three in the dressing rooms where Gray’s presence was purported to be felt in the past, and one off the stage, looking toward the back of the theater.

The last camera was the one that caught the image, she said. The theater was pitch dark, she said, and no one in the group saw anything at the time. The image only appeared on the video, Mezoian said, and only briefly.

“We didn’t see her like dancing up the steps; we just saw her (in) that one quick flash,” she said.

This was the first time she’d ever captured a ghostly image, Mezoian said. “One little second she was there and one second she wasn’t.”

“I think a lot of people have – it’s called cognitive dissonance,” she said. “Where you don’t want to believe in something. I can only put out what we got as a picture. We take it very seriously.”

As the “tempest in the teapot” simmered down Friday, both Sturdivants continued to believe that the photo is not real.

“The proportions are all wrong,” Linda Sturdivant said. “If a normal person stood on that step there, well that picture would have Eva’s ghost at about 18 inches.”

“I don’t know why she is small,” Mezoian said. “If it is a ghost, we can’t tell them to comply with our rules. I am not into the mathematical configuration of it.”

“If they think it is Eva Gray, more power to them,” Linda Sturdivant said. “That’s fine with me. It doesn’t bother me either way.”



]]> 0, 13 Jan 2017 22:31:27 +0000
Malta church goes beyond pope’s teaching on remarriage guidelines Fri, 13 Jan 2017 23:26:31 +0000 VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is making clear Pope Francis supports letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion under certain conditions by publishing a set of new guidelines in the pope’s own newspaper that go beyond even what he has said.

The Catholic Church in Malta issued the guidelines Friday on applying the divisive Chapter VIII of Francis’ document on family life that concerns ministering to Catholics in “irregular” family situations.

The Maltese church said that if a Catholic in a new civil union believes, after a path of spiritual discernment searching for God’s will that he or she can be at peace with God, “he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

Church teaching holds that unless divorced Catholics receive an annulment, or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid, they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion.

]]> 0 Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves after his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Wednesday.Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:26:31 +0000
Horoscopes for Jan. 13, 2017 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:37:28 +0000 0, 13 Jan 2017 08:37:28 +0000 Jane Fonda says don’t be fooled by Trudeau Fri, 13 Jan 2017 01:04:46 +0000 TORONTO — Actress Jane Fonda said Wednesday that people should not be fooled by “good-looking liberals” like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who “disappointed” her by approving pipelines from the Alberta oil sands.

Fonda said after touring the oil sands area that environmentalists everywhere were impressed by Trudeau at the Paris climate conference in late 2015.

“We all thought, well, cool guy,” Fonda said. “What a disappointment …

“He talked so beautifully of needing to meet the requirements of the climate treaty and to respect and hold to the treaties with indigenous people. Such a heroic stance he took there, and yet he has betrayed every one of the things he committed to in Paris.”

Last year, Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s plans to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast, and he approved replacing Enbridge’s Line 3 to Wisconsin.

But he also pushed ahead with a national carbon price and he rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project to northwest British Columbia, which would pass through the Great Bear Rainforest, as his Liberal Party government tries to balance the oil industry’s desire to tap new markets in Asia against the concerns of environmentalists.

Fonda, a 79-year-old political activist and two-time Oscar winner for best actress for her performances in “Klute” and “Coming Home,” is the latest celebrity to visit and express concerns about the Alberta oil sands. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Hollywood film director James Cameron have also visited.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Fonda is using her celebrity to promote ill-informed information.

]]> 0 Fonda leaves a news conference in Edmonton, Alberta, on Wednesday.Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:04:46 +0000
De Niro comes to defense of Meryl Streep Thu, 12 Jan 2017 23:15:09 +0000 NEW YORK — Hollywood heavyweight Robert De Niro has come to the defense of Meryl Streep.

The multiple Oscar-winner wrote a letter of support to his “The Deer Hunter” co-star following fallout after her Golden Globes speech that criticized President-elect Donald Trump. Streep said that “when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

“What you said was great. It needed to be said, and you said it beautifully,” De Niro wrote. “I have so much respect for you that you did it while the world was celebrating your achievements. I share your sentiments about punks and bullies. Enough is enough.”

A De Niro representative confirmed the letter was authentic.

De Niro and Streep have co-starred in four films: “The Deer Hunter,” “Falling in Love,” “Marvin’s Room” and “First Man.”

Besides endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, Streep has been aligned with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and even impersonated Trump at a gala in Central Park. De Niro, for his part, made a splash during this campaign season in a viral video, calling  Trump “a pig,” ‘’an idiot” and “a mutt, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

De Niro wasn’t the only one to come to Streep’s defense. Ben Affleck and Barbra Streisand have backed the Oscar winner, and Michael Keaton, who was also at the Globes on Sunday, said he had contacted her with his support.

“I emailed Meryl Streep,” Keaton said in an interview Wednesday while promoting “The Founder.” “And I just said two words – ‘beautiful thing.’ She emailed back real quick that she’s getting a little beat up.”

]]> 0 Robert De Niro addresses New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts graduation ceremony Friday in New York.Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:19:57 +0000 What are the health effects of pot use? Panel comes up with a list of 100 Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:16:57 +0000 NEW YORK – It can almost certainly ease chronic pain and might help some people sleep, but it may also raise the risk of developing schizophrenia and trigger heart attacks.

Those are among the conclusions about marijuana reached by a federal advisory panel in a report released Thursday.

The experts also called for a national effort to learn more about marijuana and its chemical cousins, including similarly acting compounds called cannabinoids.

The current lack of scientific information “poses a public health risk,” said the report, from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Patients, health care professionals and policy makers need more evidence to make sound decisions, it said.

The full report can be purchased at The National Academies Press website.

For marijuana users or those considering it, “there’s very little to guide them” on amounts and health risks, said Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health, who headed the committee.

Several factors have limited research. While the federal government has approved some medicines containing ingredients found in marijuana, it still classifies marijuana as illegal and imposes restrictions on research. So scientists have to jump through bureaucratic hoops that some find daunting, the report said.


A federal focus on paying for studies of potential harms has also hampered research into possible health benefits, the report said. The range of marijuana products available for study has also been restricted, although the government is expanding the number of approved suppliers.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for a variety of medical uses, and eight of those states plus the district have also legalized it for recreational use.

The report lists nearly 100 conclusions about marijuana and its similarly acting chemical cousins, drawing on studies published since 1999. Committee members cautioned that most conclusions are based on statistical links between use and health, rather than direct demonstrations of cause and effect.

The review found strong evidence that marijuana can treat chronic pain in adults and that similar compounds ease nausea from chemotherapy, with varying degrees of evidence for treating muscle stiffness and spasms in multiple sclerosis.


Limited evidence says marijuana or the other compounds can boost appetite in people with HIV or AIDS, and ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the report concluded. But it said there’s not enough research to say whether they’re effective for treating cancers, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, or certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, or helping people beat addictions.

There may be more evidence soon: a study in Colorado is investigating the use of marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans.

Turning to potential harms, the committee concluded:

• Strong evidence links marijuana use to the risk of developing schizophrenia and other causes of psychosis, with the highest risk among the most frequent users.

• Some work suggests a small increased risk for developing depressive disorders, but there’s no evidence either way on whether it affects the course or symptoms of such disorders, or the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

• There’s a strong indication that using marijuana before driving increases the risk of a traffic accident, but no clear link to workplace accidents or injuries, or death from a marijuana overdose.

• There’s limited evidence for the idea that it hurts school achievement, raises unemployment rates or harms social functioning.

• For pregnant women who smoke pot, there’s a strong indication of reduced birthweight but only weak evidence of any effect on pregnancy complications for the mother, or an infant’s need for admission to intensive care. There’s not enough evidence to show whether it affects the child later, like sudden infant death syndrome or substance use.

• Some evidence suggests there’s no link to lung cancer in marijuana smokers. But there’s no evidence, or insufficient evidence, to support or rebut any link to developing cancers of the prostate, cervix, bladder, or esophagus.

• Substantial evidence links pot smoking to worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent episodes of chronic bronchitis.

• There’s a weak suggestion that smoking marijuana can trigger a heart attack, especially for people at high risk of heart disease. But there’s no evidence either way on whether chronic use affects a person’s risk of a heart attack.

• Some evidence suggests a link between using marijuana and developing a dependence on or abuse of other substances, including alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.

]]> 0 Press File Photo/Seth Perlman Marijuana grows at a medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. In a report released Wednesday by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the federal advisory panel took a comprehensive look at what's known about the benefits and harms of marijuana and is calling for a national effort to learn more about the drug.Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:22:02 +0000
‘SNL’ and ‘SCTV’ alum Tony Rosato dies at age 62 Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:49:55 +0000 TORONTO — Canadian actor Tony Rosato has died at age 62.

He was a veteran of comedy shows including “Saturday Night Live” and Canada’s homegrown “SCTV.”

Rosato’s former agent Larry Goldhar has confirmed that Rosato died Tuesday. Goldhar says an autopsy is being done.

The Italian-born actor joined Martin Short and Robin Duke as the only three performers to have been cast members of “Saturday Night Live” and “SCTV,” which was spun out of Second City shortly after “SNL” launched in the mid-1970s.

In 2005, Rosato was charged with criminally harassing his wife. He spent two years in prison awaiting trial before he was diagnosed with Capgras syndrome, a condition that made him believe his wife and daughter had been replaced by impostors. He was committed to a mental institution.

This story will be updated.

]]> 0, 12 Jan 2017 12:06:22 +0000
With robes and White Russians, Dudes will celebrate all things Lebowski Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:59:21 +0000 0, 12 Jan 2017 15:40:52 +0000 Looking for winter fairs and festivals? We’ve got ’em Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:56:03 +0000 0, 13 Jan 2017 22:25:44 +0000 Horoscopes for Jan. 12, 2017 Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:10:29 +0000 0, 12 Jan 2017 07:10:29 +0000 Two dogs rescued from burning car in Waterboro Thu, 12 Jan 2017 05:28:54 +0000 Two dogs were rescued from a car that caught fire Wednesday evening at the Hannaford supermarket in Waterboro.

Capt. Dan Bean of the York County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of the fire by a passer-by, while the owner of the car was in the store. Bean kept the fire under control until the Waterboro Fire Department arrived.

Bean and another person, Michelle Baker of Waterboro, removed the dogs, named Dyna and Bruno, from the car. The dogs were not injured.

The dogs’ owner, Patrick Mazzillo, 48, of Waterboro did not know why his car caught on fire. The fire caused about $1,000 damage to the vehicle.

]]> 0, 12 Jan 2017 05:56:46 +0000
Portman takes leading role on gender pay gap in Hollywood Thu, 12 Jan 2017 02:21:59 +0000 Back in 2010, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher co-starred in “No Strings Attached.” Both received top billing as pals who embark on a “casual” relationship, but according to Portman, 35, she earned three times less than Kutcher for the film.

During an interview with Marie Claire U.K., Portman told the magazine that she knew that Kutcher, 38, made more money than her, but she didn’t speak out at the time.

Portman, who is on a promotional tour for “Jackie,” which is expected to land her an Oscar nomination, said she should have been more forceful.

“I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy,” she said.

Representatives for Kutcher did not return a request for comment.

As an increasing number of stars talk publicly about the gender pay gap (such as Gillian Anderson revealing she was offered half of what David Duchovny made on “The X-Files”). Portman isn’t the first to admit that large Hollywood paychecks are a contributing factor to why some women don’t speak up. After all, you’re already making millions – who would have an issue with that?

Of course, another issue at hand is opportunity: If there are fewer roles for women, they have less of a chance to increase their own salaries by starring in more projects. In 2014, a study from the Annenberg School at University of Southern California found that just 28 percent of characters in the year’s top 100 movies were women.

“I don’t think women and men are more or less capable. We just have a clear issue with women not having opportunities,” Portman said. “We need to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the problem.”

]]> 0, 11 Jan 2017 21:41:42 +0000
New Jersey university to host Springsteen’s archives Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:59:40 +0000 WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — A university in Bruce Springsteen’s native New Jersey will become home to the rocker’s personal collection of written works, artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia from his decades-long career.

The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University will curate the works, Springsteen and the university announced during a Tuesday event where he was interviewed about his career.

The university, in West Long Branch, has been the home of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection since 2011. The new archive will promote and preserve the legacy of Springsteen as well as other music icons, including Frank Sinatra and Woody Guthrie.

“Monmouth University is excited by the opportunity to grow our relationship with Bruce Springsteen,” said university President Paul Brown.

During the Tuesday night event at the university’s Pollak Theatre, Springsteen, 67, chronicled his life story as part of an “intimate conversation” moderated by Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli.

While it takes the Boss close to four hours to effectively revisit the four-plus decades of his career in concert, he needed just 90 minutes to chronicle his life story. He spoke about his youth as a bar band singer on the Jersey shore, writing his classic album “Born To Run” and the importance of political activism in music moving forward, reported.

“I tend to believe music is important to activism in the sense that it stirs passion, it stirs interest, it stirs curiosity, it moves you to question your own beliefs, it strikes straight to your emotions. And it stirs you up inside,” Springsteen said.

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Mainely Wraps to reopen in South Portland on Thursday Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:37:09 +0000 Mainely Wraps will open Thursday morning at 7 in its new location at 1422 Broadway in South Portland, according to owner Naphtali Maynard.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The new location will serve breakfast, including Union Bagel Co. bagels and Swift River Coffee.

On opening day, the restaurant will give out as many as 500 $10 gift cards. Other giveaways include catered lunches and one prize of free wraps for a year.

Mainely Wraps moved out of its Old Port location last fall.

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David’s Restaurant to close while it updates decor, systems Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:33:02 +0000 David’s is getting a facelift.

The popular restaurant in Portland’s Monument Square will close Monday for renovations and redecorating, according to chef/owner David Turin.

Turin said he expects the restaurant to re-open during the first week of February, with more updates continuing behind the scenes through the beginning of May.

Turin said the redesigned restaurant will have “some whimsical modern industrial design elements,” including hand-forged artisan iron work, decorative etched stainless steel, reclaimed wood, new lighting and a refreshed open view into the kitchen.

The renovations will also solve ongoing issues the historic building has had, such as draftiness in winter and poorly functioning air conditioning in summer. Customers have complained about the restaurant being too smoky during busy times because of poor kitchen ventilation, according to Turin, and that will be fixed as well.

Finally, the restaurant’s computers are being updated, so customers will be able to split checks.

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