The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Lifestyle Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:49:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 N.H. hotel guests love 31-pound cat who’s living large Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:57:48 +0000 WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. – A 31-pound cat who greets visitors at a New Hampshire resort is winning over guests and internet viewers alike as he deals with a metabolism issue.

Logan is an easygoing 7-year-old tabby. Susan and Tor Brunvand adopted him from a shelter six years ago.

The owners of the Best Western Silver Fox Inn at the Waterville Valley Resort soon learned Logan turns up his nose at fancy cat food and prefers to steal food from them.

Still, Susan Brunvand says Logan doesn’t eat much. He didn’t eat for a month once after a fight with a feral cat and lost a pound. But his weight has been a struggle.

Fans love him just the way he is as evidenced by an online video that has been making the rounds.

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Joan Baez kicks off fall tour in Portland Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:13:57 +0000 0, 29 Sep 2016 11:13:57 +0000 Local fall theater features comedy and plenty of romance Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:13:11 +0000 0, 29 Sep 2016 11:13:11 +0000 MaineToday Magazine: Fall is ready for theater Wed, 28 Sep 2016 23:49:46 +0000 0, 28 Sep 2016 19:50:46 +0000 Brad Pitt cancels first appearance after split Wed, 28 Sep 2016 23:13:12 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Brad Pitt is skipping his first public appearance after last week’s split with Angelina Jolie Pitt. He says he won’t attend the premiere of Terrence Malick’s new documentary Wednesday night as scheduled.

Pitt, who narrates “Voyage of Time,” said in a statement Wednesday that he’s grateful to have been part of the project, but is “currently focused on my family situation and don’t want to distract attention away from this extraordinary film.”

Pitt has yet to file a response in the divorce case. Jolie Pitt cited irreconcilable differences in her Sept. 20 filing to end their two-year marriage, and she is seeking sole custody of the couple’s six children.

The FBI says it’s continuing to evaluate whether to investigate Pitt’s reported involvement in a fight aboard a private jet carrying his family on Sept. 14. The incident led to allegations that Pitt was abusive to his 15-year-old son, and several media outlets have also reported the actor is under investigation by a child welfare agency.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services will not say whether it is investigating the incident.

Jolie Pitt’s divorce filing lists the day after the flight as when the couple separated. Her lawyer said the actress decided to divorce “for the health of the family.”

Pitt’s next film after “Voyage of Time” is Robert Zemeckis’ drama “Allied,” set for release in November.

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Portland Symphony Orchestra receives $600,000 grant for music education Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:57:59 +0000 The Portland Symphony Orchestra has received a $600,000 gift that will provide more money for musicians and for music education in Portland schools.

The grants from the Bingham Trust will provide $50,000 in operating funds annually for three years beginning in 2017, and $150,000 in restricted funds for three years to be invested in the PSO’s endowment. Income from investing the money will be used to pay musicians and for the PSO Explorers program.

Excluding bequests, the gift is the largest the symphony has received, Executive Director Carolyn Nishon said in a statement.

PSO Explorers is an arts-integrated curriculum for early elementary school students at Reiche and Longfellow elementary schools in Portland. It began three years ago as a pilot program, and has grown to include kindergarten and first grade.

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Creative Portland hires former TV, film producer as new executive director Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:51:20 +0000 Creative Portland, the city arts organization charged with promoting Portland’s creative economy, has hired an experienced TV and movie producer as its new executive director.

Dinah Minot, who moved to Portland last year, begins her duties Monday. She worked several years as a producer in New York and Los Angeles, and her credits include 73 episodes as associate producer of “Saturday Night Live,” associate producer of the movie “Wayne’s World” and co-producer of “Wayne’s World 2.”

Creative Portland organizes the city’s First Friday ArtWalk, among other things, and its primary purpose is growing and sustaining Portland’s creative economy. Minot sees her job as building partnerships among arts groups and private enterprise, and she said the skills she developed as a producer are applicable to that role.

“Being a producer is about being a facilitator,” she said. “It’s about finding the right designers, the right musicians, the writers, the extras. You are overseeing everything, and bringing it all together.”

Minot succeeds Jennifer Hutchins, who left the organization in the spring to direct the Maine Association of Nonprofits.

Minot, who is in her mid-50s, moved to Portland from California last winter. She is from Massachusetts originally. Her husband is Grant “Whip” Hubley, a movie and TV actor best known for his role as Hollywood in “Top Gun.” The couple are in the process of moving to South Portland.

Minot said she wants to take advantage of natural and unexpected partnerships among arts groups and public and private enterprise in Portland, to improve and deepen programming, and to help groups overcome internal organizational challenges.

“I’m pretty psyched about this opportunity,” she said. “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to take a while for me to get to know everybody, but it’s going to be a fun ride.”

Minot moved to Portland late in 2015 after 25 years in the arts and entertainment business in Los Angeles. She is a summer resident of North Haven.

In addition to her work in Hollywood, she was co-producer and head of talent for “Saturday Night Live” from 1985 to 1990, and director and editor of Lorne Michaels Productions from 2006 to 2009.

Aimee Petrin, executive director of Portland Ovations, said she was impressed with Minot’s quick immersion in the community. Since arriving here, Minot has met as many people as possible, Petrin said. “She’s done an amazing job of getting to know this community very quickly. She has shown her commitment from the get-go,” Petrin said. “Dinah strikes me as a dynamo who will bring great things to the position.”

Creative Portland’s role, Petrin said, is to be an effective and nimble advocate for the arts and to “evolve as the needs of the artistic and greater community evolve. It’s their job to be responsive to those needs.”

Stuart Kestenbaum, who was named interim president of Maine College of Art in August, said it’s become obvious during his short time in Portland how many opportunities there are for collaboration among arts groups up and down Congress Street. “It’s plain to see that cultural institutions are an anchor for the heart of the city. Of course each organization can be very busy with its own work, and it seems to me that an organization like Creative Portland can take initiatives that look at a bigger picture,” he said.

In a statement, Creative Portland board President Sondra Bogdonoff cited Minot’s experience as a social media consultant, arts and community advocate, music producer and artist as qualifications for the job. “She has a passion for Portland that we believe will energize and help us grow and sustain our creative community,” Bogdonoff said.

Minot received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont in art education and art history.

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

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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Skowhegan Drive-In’s new neon a good sign for movie lovers Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:30:00 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — The reddish glow in the evening sky on U.S. Route 201 east of downtown Skowhegan is a signal.

It’s a sign.

It’s the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre, which moved into the future this past summer when it converted to digital projection.

This week, theater owner Don Brown stepped back from the future and into the past with the installation of a replica neon sign that looks just like the original sign did when the drive-in opened in 1954, mounted on a red 35-foot pole.

“They took the old sign that had been lying on the ground and they made a pattern from that and they duplicated it,” Brown said Wednesday as he turned on the sign with its bright red neon arrow pointing to the refurbished ticket booth at the entrance to the drive-in.

Sign Services Inc., of Stetson, did all the work, paid for with just over $8,000 from the Skowhegan facade grant program. The white sign with blue lettering spells out “Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre,” with “theater” spelled the old-fashioned way.

Don Brown, owner of the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre.

Don Brown, owner of the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre.

“It was the last piece of the original theater that we had not rehabilitated,” said Brown, 53. “It had been there for so many years and so many people have asked us, ‘Are you every going to do anything with the sign?’ that when the opportunity to apply for the facade grant came up, we did.”

Jeffrey Hewett, the town’s director of economic and community development, said it’s nice having the red glow of the neon arrow illuminating the evening sky along U.S. 201, also called Waterville Road.

Hewett said the sign is real neon with “glass set-asides” that hold the neon and copper wire that keeps it all in place.

“It brings back a lot of memories for me,” Hewett said. “In the daytime it doesn’t really grab you as much; it’s the nighttime and that kind of reddish glow that comes off that gets you. I don’t think that there are very many of the neon signs that are left anymore.”

Brown, who lives in Felton, Delaware, during the winter, bought the drive-in theater in May 2012 from Doug Corson’s Encore Skowhegan Drive-In.

The drive-in has a capacity of 340 to 350 cars, set old-fashioned-style in semicircles with a standing pipe that once held the audio speakers. Sound for the movies now comes over the car’s FM radio at 88.3 on the dial.

There are now five drive-in movie theaters in Maine, including Skowhegan’s, according to the website

Two years ago, an estimated 357 drive-in movie theaters remained in the United States, a steep decline from the 4,000 or 5,000 that gave drive-in theaters entertainment status in the late 1950s and ’60s. Generations of families have packed station wagons with coolers, lawn chairs and kids in pajamas, and young lovers went out for a night of cinema under the stars.

Brown said he wants to continue that tradition while polishing up some of the nostalgia of the experience along the way.

“We went right through the building when we came here in 2012. Everything has been reproduced to be of the original design. It’s just been modified on occasion here and there for more contemporary standards,” he said.

Everything, including the concession stand, looks “pretty much the same” as it did in the 1950s, Brown said. He said two of the movies that ran this past summer were on the old 35 mm film, but the rest — a new feature every week — were projected using the new digital equipment.

“I think what we’ve done with the drive-in combines the best aspects of the present yet preserves certain vital elements from the past that made the drive-in appealing,” he said.

He said bringing the drive-in into the digital age was necessary for the business to survive; it was either digital or die. Hollywood studios were phasing out 35 mm film and switching production to modern digital. The sign, on the other hand, combines the element of nostalgia with the contemporary projection.

Two years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the drive-in, Brown was facing a $40,000 investment in new equipment and modifications or he would be forced to close. With donations from the community, including a Stephen King marathon of scary movies and a lot of his own savings, Brown finally took delivery of the new projector.

“It’s neon, and there used to be a neon sign out there,” Randy Gray, Skowhegan’s code enforcement officer, said Wednesday. “So good for him for doing it.”

Brown said the drive-in is closed for the season, but he’ll leave the sign’s light on for a while Friday and Saturday night as a signal that he’ll be back in the spring for another summer of movies under the stars.

“The drive-in is unique because it combines elements of the past, such as the sign, with today’s modern technology, such as the projectors,” he said. “That’s been the constant over the years, over the generations, that the drive-in’s been around. The technology used has always been changing, but the experience has always been the same.”


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Springsteen begins book tour in hometown Tue, 27 Sep 2016 22:37:18 +0000 FREEHOLD, N.J. — The Boss came back to his hometown Tuesday, returning to New Jersey and greeting thousands of fans to begin his book tour.

Bruce Springsteen fans from all over the world lined up hours before his appearance at a Barnes & Noble in Freehold to promote his autobiography “Born to Run.”

In the book, Springsteen remembers his childhood in New Jersey, his rise to superstardom and personal struggles that inspired songs such as “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road.”

Fans received a signed copy of the book and could pose for a picture with Springsteen. Some fans camped overnight in the parking lot and formed a line around 6 a.m.

Springsteen arrived around 10:30 a.m. for an event that was scheduled to start at noon, dressed in all black, from shirt and leather jacket to jeans and shoes. He didn’t say a word on his way to a small platform where he was flanked by two banners that featured a picture of the cover of his book.

Fans were dressed for the moment – concert tees, album cover tees, some even wore homemade shirts with a slogan or photo – for their 15 seconds or so for their meeting. Most fans simply said thank you or shared a quick personal story as they shook his hand. Springsteen smiled and nodded and stood for a brief snapshot with each fan.

Barnes & Noble said about 2,000 books were sold for the event. His book was stacked all over the store, while his music played. His albums were for sale on vinyl – fitting for a rocker who rocketed to stardom in the 1970s. Springsteen’s book tour will also stop in New York; Philadelphia; Seattle; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Portland, Oregon.

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Nonprofit plans to build lynching memorial in heart of Confederacy Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:56:46 +0000  

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Southern states have long welcomed tourists retracing the footsteps of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and others who opposed segregation. Now the Alabama city that was the first capital of the Confederacy is set to become home to a privately funded museum and monument that could make some visitors wince: a memorial to black lynching victims.

The nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative has announced it is building a memorial in the state capital of Montgomery devoted to 4,075 blacks its research shows were killed by lynching in the U.S. from 1877 to 1950.

The nonprofit’s director, Bryan Stevenson, said the aim is to help “change the landscape” of American racial discourse by openly acknowledging a painful past, much as Germany has Holocaust memorials and South Africa a museum on its past state-sanctioned segregation – apartheid.

He said that while hundreds of whites were lynched in roughly the same period of U.S. history, the memorial’s focus will be on “terror lynchings” against blacks in a dozen Southern states – whether by hanging, gunshots, beatings, burnings or other forms of killing used in the past to terrorize black communities.

“I don’t think we can afford to continue pretending that there aren’t these really troubling chapters in our history,” Stevenson said. “I think we’ve got to deal with it.”

Set to open next year on the site of a former low-cost housing project, the monument is to be accompanied by a museum a few blocks away exploring the history of blacks in America from slavery to the present.

Work is already under way on both. How they will be received is an open question.

Pausing at a historical plaque while visiting Montgomery’s civil rights sites, North Carolina tourist Nancy Lange hesitated at the thought of a lynching memorial. “That is tough. I can’t even think beyond that word,” said Lange, 58, who’s white.

But daughter Teresa Lange, 27, said a memorial could be valuable in teaching about America’s racial past and fostering conversation about today’s climate of Black Lives Matter, police violence against minorities and racial strife.

“How many people talk about lynching? How many people talk about the hate crimes that still go on today?” she said. “As a tourist I think it would be a good thing. … I’d go see it.”

Equal Justice Initiative said the monument and museum also would help counter glorification, in some quarters, of the Confederacy across the South while telling the painful story of race in America. The law firm and its founder, Stevenson, represent death row inmates and advocates for racial justice.

The group already has erected bronze plaques around Montgomery to denote bygone slave markets; another group has built a memorial honoring civil rights martyrs, mostly African-Americans. Elsewhere in Montgomery, a marker explains the history of the church parsonage bombed while King lived there in 1956.

The monument set for a hill in view of Alabama’s Capitol – where the Confederacy was formed – is to include thousands of names of lynching victims etched on hundreds of concrete columns. Each column represents a U.S. county where a lynching occurred. The names were gathered both in past research and new work by Equal Justice Initiative.

The nearby museum is to house what organizers describe as the nation’s largest collection of information on lynching. Located in the nonprofit’s headquarters, it also will include presentations about the domestic slave trade, racial segregation and the incarceration of large numbers of blacks today.

Stevenson said the final design of both the memorial and museum will depend on fundraising, though the Ford Foundation already has given $2 million.

Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell said the project has the potential to be important. But he said his agency will need to find out more about the new project before deciding whether to promote it alongside civil rights attractions such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute or the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where marchers for voting rights were beaten by state police in 1965.

“It is a difficult subject for most all of us Southerners to contemplate because people who are alive today have never had to give this subject much thought,” Sentell said. He added of the memorial that “the execution of the details will either make people glad they visited the location or not.”

He said Alabama began promoting civil rights sites for tourism in the 1980s. A “Black Heritage Guide” published then was updated and later morphed into the “Alabama Civil Rights Trail,” a guide of museums and historic sites.

Not everyone is on board with a lynching memorial.

Marlin Taylor, an African-American visitor from Spokane, Washington, was surprised by it.

“With the climate in America right now I don’t know that that’s a good idea,” Taylor said at the civil rights memorial outside the Southern Poverty Law Center, a public interest law firm. “I feel like that could be more divisive than anything.”

But the Alabama commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Jimmy Hill, supports it. He said telling the story of the lynchings will help people understand America’s tangled, painful past.

“Yes, it’s going to hurt some people. There are some people who are going to see that and say they wish the story wouldn’t be told. But we are on the opposite side of that. We just want the whole story to be told,” Hill said.

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Harvest those fall fruits ripe and store them for a dark day Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:49:16 +0000  

“Ripe” is a term that’s used much too freely when it comes to fruits.

A plum is not supposed to taste sour like a lemon; that lemon-y plum is not ripe. Nor – and this is important – will it ever be.

Ripening can begin in a fruit’s “mature” stage, and when the fruit reaches the “ripe” stage, it’s best for eating. As it ripens, its color changes, the flesh softens, sugars increase and distinctive flavors develop. Apples, pears, kiwis, bananas, persimmons and quinces are some fruits that can ripen either on or off the plant, but to do so they must be mature before being harvested.

Whether a fruit can become delicious when ripened off the plant depends on the variety. For instance, summer apples generally taste best when picked dead ripe, but some “winter” apples (harvested late in the season), such as Idared and Newtown Pippin, taste best when they are picked mature and then ripen for a few months in storage.

A few fruits MUST be harvested when mature and then ripened off the plants. European pears, except for Seckel, are at their gustatory best only if ripened after harvest. Left to fully ripen on the plant, European pears turn mushy and brown inside.

Avocados also must be harvested under-ripe. Left to fully ripen on the tree, they develop off-flavors.

Now the important point: Many fruits do not ripen at all after being picked, so must be picked fully ripe to taste their best. Plums are in this group, as are grapes, figs, melons, cherries, peaches and more. Picked under-ripe, these fruits will still soften, and some of their complex carbohydrates may break down to sugars. But those changes are more akin to the first stages of rotting than the flavor changes associated with true ripening.

Late summer and fall bring on such an abundance of fruit that eating cannot keep pace with harvesting, so storage is necessary. Most fruits store best when kept cool and in high humidity. Cool temperatures slow the ripening of mature fruits, the aging of already ripe fruits, and the growth of decay-causing microorganisms. High humidity, as well as cool temperatures, slows water loss from fruits, preventing shriveling.

For most fruits (bananas and avocados are notable exceptions), optimum storage temperatures are near freezing, with relative humidity about 90 percent. The temperature in most refrigerators is between 35 and 40 degrees F, and the relative humidity in a frost-free refrigerator is 40 percent on the shelves and 70 percent in the crisper. That’s a bit too warm and dry, but it’s a convenient place to store a small quantity of fruit. An old-fashioned root cellar provides almost ideal low temperatures and high humidity.

In late fall and winter, you may find storage areas around your home where you can keep a few bushels of seasonal fruits, such as apples, in good condition. Invest in a minimum-maximum thermometer, and check the temperatures in your garage, attic, foyer and cellar. I move bushels of apples from my garage to my foyer and then to my cool basement as outdoor temperatures turn progressively colder.

For long-term storage, maintain humidity around fruits. Pack them in plastic bags with a few holes for ventilation, in dry leaves, or – my favorite method – in plywood boxes (which “breathe” with the fruits).

Remove fruit from cold storage some time before you are ready to eat it. Fruit that was picked mature but under-ripe may need to finish ripening, which occurs more rapidly at room temperature. Even fruit that is already ripe should be allowed to reach room temperature so you can appreciate its full flavor.

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Hoffman, Dench receive International Emmy nominations Mon, 26 Sep 2016 22:08:28 +0000 NEW YORK — Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench received International Emmy nominations Monday for their roles in the BBC One TV movie “Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot.”

Brazil had a leading seven nominations, followed by Britain with six, including best actor and actress for Hoffman and Dench.

The two Oscar-winning acting veterans were honored for their roles in “Esio Trot,” based on Dahl’s children’s novel about a lonely aging bachelor who tries to woo the widow in the apartment below, who is overly fond of her pet tortoise.

Germany had five nominations, including best TV movie/miniseries and best actor (Florian Stetter) for “Nackt Unter Wolfen (Naked Among Wolves),” an adaptation of the novel by East German author Bruno Apitz about prisoners in the Buchenwald concentration camp who risk their lives to hide a Polish-Jewish boy.

Canada and South Korea each had three nominations, while Argentina, France and the Philippines had two apiece.

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said 40 nominees from 15 countries will be competing in 10 categories for the International Emmys, which honor excellence in TV programming outside the U.S. The awards will be presented Nov. 21 in New York.

Brazilian nominees include Alexandre Nero (best actor) for “A Regra do Jogo (Rules of the Game)” and Grazi Massafera (best actress) for “Verdades Secretas (Hidden Truths),” “Zorra (The Mess)” in the comedy category and “Adotada” for non-scripted entertainment.

The other British nominees are “Hoff the Record” (comedy), “My Son the Jihadi” (documentary), “Gogglebox” (non-scripted entertainment), and “Capital” (TV movie/miniseries).

Taiwanese actor James Wen was the only other best-actor nominee for “Echoes of Time.” Other best-actress nominees are Jodi Sta. Maria of the Philippines for “Pangako Sa’yo (The Promise)” and Germany’s Christiane Paul for “Unterm Radar (Under the Radar).”

—From news services

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Portland’s ‘Our Lady of Victories’ statue gets some overdue attention Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:40:14 +0000 The most prominent piece of public art in Portland is getting a makeover. Sculptor conservator Jonathan Taggart spent much of Monday 45 feet off the ground in Monument Square, pressure-washing guano and a decade-plus of urban grime from the surface of “Our Lady of Victories (The Portland Sailors and Soldiers Monument).”

“It’s pretty dirty up there, but we’ll get her clean,” he said back on solid ground, as he unhitched a safety harness and stepped away from a power lift that hovered over the square much of the afternoon. His long, white hair was tucked under a large hat that shielded him from the sun, and he wore heavy rubber waders to protect him from all the water.

He hopes to finish up the power-washing Tuesday and then will apply a protective resin to the bronze surfaces of the sculpture, which honors the 5,000 soldiers from Portland who died in the Civil War. At the time, the deaths represented one-sixth of Portland’s population. The sculpture was dedicated in 1891.

The monument receives conservation attention about once a decade. Taggart, who owns Taggart Objects Conservation of Georgetown, is being paid $10,000 to do the work, part of a tax-funded $25,000, two-year contract between his company and the Portland Public Art Committee to maintain the city’s public collection of art.

The collection includes a lot of monuments and statues. “Our Lady of Victories” is the most prominent. It’s at the heart of the city. Its central figure, a 14-foot female figure standing high atop a granite base, was cast by Franklin Simmons, an internationally known sculptor who lived in Italy but happened to be a Portland native. Simmons also created Portland’s Longfellow Memorial, and several of his pieces are in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art.

Taggart said the sculpture is mostly sound. The resin coating, previously applied about 12 years ago, has begun to fail on the uppermost exposed surfaces, and various mortar joints have failed. The piece also suffers from carbonate and copper staining and minor graffiti, which will be removed.

In addition to brushing on the resin coating, Taggart will repoint and repair failing joints. He described the work as routine but essential to maintain the look and integrity of the sculpture. Some areas of the sculpture, particularly on the figure’s shoulders, nose, cheeks and liberty cap, have turned a light blue-gray color. That’s a result of the failure of the previous resin coating. The cleaning and coating process will return those areas to a color more uniform with the rest of the sculpture, he said.

This is the third time since 1997 “Our Lady of Victories” has been treated with resin. For its first 100 years, there was no coating at all, Taggart said. “We have to maintain the protective coating to stop the ongoing corrosion,” he said.

The bronze female figure is a symbol of unity and is modeled after Minerva, the goddess of both wisdom and war. In one hand, she clutches a sword wrapped in a flag. In the other, she holds a shield and a branch of maple leaves.

New York architect William Morris Hunt designed the granite pedestal, which is affixed with bronze figures on two sides. One represents the Army and the other the Navy. The base is inscribed: “Portland, to her sons who died for the Union.”

Hilary Bassett, executive director of Greater Portland Landmarks, stopped by Monument Square at midday Monday to assess the progress.

“It’s important to keep an eye on it and keep up with it,” Bassett said. “It’s easy to take it for granted, because it’s always here. But we have to maintain what we have.”

Taggart attracted many onlookers. Some grumbled that their usual stoop for hanging was occupied and dripping wet, but most were content to pause, glance skyward and snap a few photos before moving on.

West End resident Fran Houston imagined that the statue smiled ever so slightly.

“I think she loved that she was being photographed,” she said.


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Review: Portland String Quartet pulls from dark currents for a compelling show Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:02:55 +0000 There were two lessons to be drawn from the Portland String Quartet’s first concert of the season Sunday afternoon at Woodfords Congregational Church. The first, and more crucial one, is that works that tap into history’s darker currents, and put recognizable faces on them, make irresistibly compelling listening, even if the composers’ backgrounds and styles are as disparate as can be. The second, probably inadvertent lesson is that it makes sense to begin with a built-in warm-up piece, a short work that has so little to do with the rest of the program that if it doesn’t go well, it can be forgotten without tarnishing the memory of the major part of the program.

The quartet, which typically gives finely polished performances, took a few moments to settle into its curtain-raiser, Hugo Wolf’s cheerfully tuneful “Italian Serenade,” a graceful if tongue-in-cheek portrait of a suitor singing outside his beloved’s window.

Wolf was a consummate songwriter, of course, and though this serenade is instrumental, the vocal impulse – the sense of the singer making his case – comes through beautifully. Or it would have, in a reading that did not seesaw between moments of shrillness and warmth quite as much as this one did. Thankfully, whatever kinks the quartet was fighting were worked out before the score’s final pages and were not heard again.

The concert’s centerpiece was Tom Myron’s “Käthe Kollwitz,” a score that the quartet’s violist, Julia Adams, commissioned as part of the group’s 30th anniversary celebrations in 1998. Myron, who was the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s resident composer at the time (and now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts) responded with a five-movement score for soprano and quartet, based on Muriel Rukeyser’s cycle of poems about Kollwitz, a German visual artist who focused on war and its attendant privations on women, children and the poor. She died in April 1945.

Rukeyser’s poetry, inspired by Kollwitz’s surviving artworks (many were destroyed during World War II), is nuanced and philosophical, particularly when it quotes from the artist’s diaries, and it raises questions that are always worth pondering. Myron’s music amplifies its melancholy undercurrents, as well as its sense of emotional dislocation. But if the music is dark and tense, it is never really bleak.

Through much of the work, the spotlight is naturally on the soprano line, which Luette Saul endowed with suppleness and a direct, palpable emotional power. But Myron’s quartet writing is consistently striking as well. The work’s center of gravity is its unusual third movement, “The World Split Open,” in which the soprano sings the full text unaccompanied, and the quartet follows with an extended instrumental soliloquy. Both Saul and the ensemble were at their most compelling here.

The quartet devoted the second half of the concert to a suitable companion piece for the Myron, Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 5 in F major (Op. 92). Here the darkness is personal rather than public, but it is just as powerful.

Having been denounced as a “formalist” (whatever that was supposed to mean) by the Soviet authorities in 1948, Shostakovich wrote this pained, three-movement meditation in 1952, and decided not to have it performed. Fortunately, the self-imposed ban did not last long. With Stalin’s death in 1953, Shostakovich felt free to test the waters, and he allowed the premiere of the work nearly a year after he completed it.

The score is filled with characteristic Shostakovich moves – icy, insistent figures at the top of the violin’s range; moments of apparent calm that give way to a disturbing intensity; and turbulent, dramatic passages that resolve over time into wrenching introspection. But there is defiance here too, also typical of Shostakovich. You hear it in the complex expansions on a waltz theme, in the finale, and in Shostakovich’s use of a four-note motto (D, E-flat, C, B) that he used as his signature in several works.

The Portland players – Dean Stein and Ronald Lantz, violinists; Patrick Owen, cellist; and Adams on viola – gave the work a focused, warm-toned reading that pulled the listener into Shostakovich’s world of disappointment, anger and alternating currents of hope and hopelessness.

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

Twitter: kozinn

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Britain’s royal couple continue Canada tour Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:20:29 +0000 VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Prince George and Princess Charlotte stayed behind with their nanny as Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, continued their tour of British Columbia on Sunday, a day after George left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hanging on a high-five.

The 3-year-old George made headlines in the United Kingdom when George declined to high-five and then shake the hand of Trudeau during the arrival ceremony Saturday at the airport in Victoria, B.C. The prime minister was among several dignitaries waiting on the tarmac to greet the royals when they emerged from their flight. Videos and photos of the interaction were shared widely by British media.

The Mirror wrote: “Superstar politician Mr. Trudeau might have endeared himself to millions online through his outspoken feminism, support for diversity and willingness to embrace internet memes, but it seems to take more than that to impress Will and Kate’s eldest.”

The Daily Mail shared a story with the headline: “Sorry, one doesn’t high-five with commoners.”

The kids are remaining in Victoria as their parents visit other parts of British Columbia and Western Canada until Oct. 1 on their first official overseas trip as a family of four. On the second day of their trip the British royal couple flew to Vancouver, where they were greeted at the waterfront by several hundred fans who gave them a raucous welcome.

Both spent time talking with people and appeared to be trying to shake hands with everyone they could.

The couple then stopped at an outreach center for women with drug and alcohol addictions who are pregnant or parenting.

Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, later met the royal couple outside the Immigrant Services Society’s new Welcome House.

Syrian refugees who met the royal couple said they wish more world leaders were as attentive to their country’s plight. Canada has welcomed more than 30,000 refugees since Trudeau became prime minister.

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Volunteers work around the clock at Common Ground Country Fair Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:18:09 +0000 UNITY — As dusk fell on the Common Ground Country Fair and most visitors were leaving Saturday, Devon Salisbury’s work was just getting started.

“How are we doing on food?” the 37-year-old asked, popping her head into the outdoor Common Kitchen, where more than 860 meals were served to volunteers Saturday night.

“These people are like my family,” said Salisbury, who is an event planner for a winery in her day job and takes a week off each year to volunteer at the fair. “They don’t have to be told what to do. Everyone just knows instinctively.”

This year’s 40th Common Ground Country Fair was Salisbury’s 17th year as a volunteer, where she works as a kitchen coordinator at the Common Kitchen, a round-the-clock operation that turns tons of donated produce and groceries into meals for the roughly 1,200 volunteers that staff the fair.

Many volunteers, especially those who work in the kitchen, say the party is truly the heart of the fair, but it’s also just a small part of what takes place in the world of volunteers and vendors whose lives at the fair are just as active before and after the gates open to the public as they are when visitors are walking through.

“This is the fair to me,” said volunteer Ken Webster, as he prepared a squash and shiitake mushroom pizza for Saturday’s volunteer dinner. “Mostly it’s the same core group of people and it’s a party. The camaraderie, the cooking, it’s the best thing.”

Jeff DeHart, owner of Bear and Otter Guide Services in West Gardiner, sits in his camp at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Jeff DeHart, owner of Bear and Otter Guide Services in West Gardiner, sits in his camp at the Common Ground Country Fair.

The fair attracts about 60,000 people each year for three days and since 1998 has been held on more than 250 acres of farmland and forest owned by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. With no amusement park rides and a menu from vendors made up primarily of locally-sourced and organic ingredients, its main draw is events focused on sustainability and rural living. Lectures this year included “Backyard grain growing,” and “How to do a home funeral.”

Attendance on Saturday reached about 27,000 – just a few hundred short of last year’s record attendance day – said executive director April Boucher. With just two full-time employees and one part-time employee, the role of volunteers is a critical one, Boucher said.

“We wouldn’t be able to have the fair if not for the effort, dedication and passion you see on behalf of the volunteers,” she said. “There are some areas that are really vibrant, and that’s because the leaders in those areas put in extra effort.”

Fair organizers plan for more than 2,000 volunteer shifts each year. For the most part they get filled, but there is always a need for more, Boucher said. By late Saturday afternoon, about 70 percent of the shifts had been filled, with many volunteers taking on more than one four-hour shift.

In exchange for their four hours of work, volunteers get a T-shirt, free admission to the fair, a meal and a camping spot.


As fairgoers left Saturday night with their bags full of produce, herbs and flowers, the line for the Common Kitchen wrapped around the fair office. Saturday night’s dinner is the biggest meal of the fair for volunteers and usually sees the largest crowds. “This is the beauty of the Common Ground Fair,” said Salisbury, the kitchen coordinator. “You have volunteers preparing meals for other volunteers with food that has all been donated. It’s kind of an organic process.”

For many, the meal is a break from the work they have been doing all day and will continue through the night.

Elizabeth Damon, a University of Maine student and first-time volunteer, was eating a dessert of blueberry bread pudding after finishing up a shift she described as “sort of all over the place.”

She cut a lot of vegetables and was then tasked with making brownies, but there were no chocolate chips. So she improvised, incorporating applesauce and squash into the chocolate dessert.

“We have to work with the ingredients we have, so the recipes are kind of made on the spot,” said Damon, 21. “I loved it. It was a really fun adventure.”

After gathering their food, the volunteers sat at picnic tables or on the lawn, many huddled under blankets and adding layers of clothing as the temperature started to drop for the evening.

Roberta Manter of Fayette has exhibited horses at the fair for years and was joined this year by her daughter, Elizabeth Collard, and her family. Both live off the grid and were camping at the fair for the weekend.

“The fair would be perfect if they could find a way to turn up the heat,” said Collard, of Bridgton.

“Waiting in line is worth it for the food,” added her daughter, 9-year-old Esther Collard, as she skipped off to get some hot tea.

As the meal wrapped up, many volunteers crowded the floor of a large tent for contradancing, some of them in bare feet. They could also enjoy a movie in the main building or wander through the exhibition hall, which remained open with displays of the fair’s best tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.

The kitchen stays open for stragglers, like the safety crew which was also working around the clock. For many volunteers, the fair is a reunion, a way to get together with friends or visit with family.


Around 9 p.m., a small group of safety crew workers clad in orange vests filled a table in the mostly empty kitchen area and finished up their dinner. All were thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and selected the fair as a way to reunite. The midnight to 7 a.m. safety shift, which the group covered Friday night, is the best shift, according to Nick Parsons, 23, who said he likes riding around the fairgrounds in a golf cart late at night.

Last year, the group shuttled a first-time volunteer with hypothermia to warmth and brought her some coffee.

Mostly they stay up late talking and hanging out, reminiscing about how awful it was when the norovirus struck some hikers on the AT in 2013.

Heather Harris closes up her 1909 Creators popcorn wagon following the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity on Saturday. Harris is one of two original vendors at the fair, starting at age 4 selling popcorn with her family.

Heather Harris closes up her 1909 Creators popcorn wagon following the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity on Saturday. Harris is one of two original vendors at the fair, starting at age 4 selling popcorn with her family.

“It’s pretty wonderful,” said Parsons, of Harpswell. “We’ve stayed awake the whole weekend, all but two hours. It’s hard to get everyone to all meet in one location, so here we can get together and hang out. Mostly we’re joking about old jokes.”

Volunteers aren’t the only ones who camp out at the fair. Many of the livestock exhibitors and vendors do as well, though they tend to get to bed earlier so they can get up for chores and setup.

Sam Cheeney, who sells organic seed garlic from his Salty Dog Farm, usually sleeps between his baskets of garlic in his vendor stall. He said his kids, ages 3 and 5, look forward to camping at the fair every year.

“They love it. They do one night here, and then they go with their grandparents to a hotel,” he said. “Me, I don’t want to be driving in the morning, so I sleep right here.”

“It’s funny, but I often think this is one of the most urban things I do,” said Dan Huisjen, a volunteer of 14 years who was cleaning out a cast-iron skillet after breakfast in the volunteer campground Sunday morning and noting the close proximity of the dozens of tents surrounding him.

This year, Huisjen volunteered for fair setup and got his shift out of the way a week ahead of time. “You get it out of the way, and usually they’re in need of more volunteers before and after the fair,” he said.

As the fair woke up for its last day of activity Sunday, many of the volunteers trekked down a short wooded trail lined with composting toilets, making their way from the tent city to the Common Kitchen, where others were finishing up shifts that started at 4 a.m.

The early morning crew was done. Their work was done and the fair was just starting.


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Jane Pauley to take over as host of CBS ‘Sunday Morning’ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:06:28 +0000 NEW YORK — Jane Pauley is becoming a morning television host again – this time at a much more relaxed pace. CBS said Sunday she will replace Charles Osgood as anchor of the “Sunday Morning” telecast.

The bow-tied Osgood told viewers at the end of his last telecast after 22 years that Pauley would replace him. She’s been a contributor to the show since 2014.

Pauley will be only the third host of the program since its 1979 start with Charles Kuralt. “Sunday Morning” averages nearly 6 million viewers a week, the most popular morning news program on the weekend, heavy on features and a quiet vibe. Osgood leaves on a high note; ratings have increased for four straight years and this past season was his most-watched as host.

—From news service reports

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‘Magnificent Seven’ lassoes top box-office spot Sun, 25 Sep 2016 22:35:59 +0000 NEW YORK — Movie stars don’t open movies anymore? Tell that to Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.

The pair, once co-stars in “Philadelphia,” have together dominated the last three weeks of the box office. After Clint Eastwood’s Miracle on the Hudson docudrama “Sully,” starring Hanks as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, topped ticket sales of the last two weeks, “The Magnificent Seven” rode Washington’s star power to an estimated $35 million debut over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Though both Washington and Hanks are in their early 60s, their box-office clout might be just as potent as ever. The debut of “Sully” was Hanks’ fourth best opening of his career; the opening of “The Magnificent Seven,” Antoine Fuqua’s remake of John Sturges’ 1960 Western (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”), is Washington’s third best.

Both films boasted other enticements. Eastwood is himself a draw. And the ensemble of “The Magnificent Seven” most notably includes Chris Pratt, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star and a potential heir apparent to Washington and Hanks.

But Washington and Hanks ranked as the overwhelming reason audiences went to see either movie, according to comScore’s survey of moviegoers.

“They are the model of consistency and they are the model of quality,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “These are guys who can draw a huge audience in any type of movie that they’re in It’s not like they’re pigeonholed into one kind of franchise.


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Cumberland County Fair gets their goats Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:18:02 +0000 CUMBERLAND — On opening day of the Cumberland County Fair, Gael and Gayleen were two unhappy Nubian goats.

The 5-month-old pair, with their trademark woebegone drooping ears, emitted mournful bleats Sunday as they stood tethered outside the arena while inside, their owner, Phil Cassette of Saco, showed off a potential champion before the judges.

Suddenly Gael made a break for it, snapping her collar and running free while Gayleen, still tethered, sobbed even louder.

Someone shouted, “Goat on the loose,” while a bystander grabbed Gael by the leg just as she was about to disappear around the corner. Soon the two were back on their tethers being cradled by Debby Orff of Waldoboro, who quickly calmed the two kids.

“That’s Nubians. They tend to be dramatic,” said Bethany Parker, who raises LaMancha dairy goats with her father, Cliff Parker, at their farm in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

The near-escape was just one of the behind-the-scenes dramas that played out Sunday at the fair, which runs through Saturday. The 145th version of the fair features daily agricultural demonstrations and exhibits, animal competitions, craft displays, food, rides and live entertainment. Tickets are $10. Admission is free for children 12 and under.

While the fair gives attendees a chance to get close to cows or sheep, it is also a chance for agricultural families to talk shop with other farmers. Goat keepers are no exception.

“This is kind of a social event. We are an open and friendly group. We help each other out,” Parker said.

The goat show circuit shifts into high gear in the fall, when enthusiasts, like the Parkers, travel every weekend to compete at fairs across New England.

The Parkers got started with goats 20 years ago when they were living in Bangor and Susan Parker, Cliff’s wife, wanted a source of goat milk for making cheese, yogurt and soap. Their two home-schooled daughters expressed an interest in goats and started raising the animals as part of a 4-H project. Soon, their father, a chemical engineer, got drawn in.

“You have anatomy, genetics, disease prevention, physiology and economics” all rolled into one hobby, Cliff Parker said.

Today he is a director of the American Dairy Goat Association and he and Bethany, now 27, keep a herd of 20 or so LaManchas that includes five grand champions.

The Parkers say showing their goats gives them valuable input from the judges and a chance to socialize with other goat enthusiasts.

“It’s a way to find people as crazy as you are. It’s a community,” said Bethany Parker, a biochemist.

Goat keepers can talk for hours about goats and the particulars of their favorite breeds.

LaManchas – which are virtually earless because they lack cartilage in their ears – are known for their sunny, pleasant personalities.

“They hear just fine but they don’t always listen,” Bethany Parker said.

Nigerian Dwarfs tend to be trainable but naughty. Alpines are bossy. And Nubians, as seen earlier, are quick to turn on the theatrics.

Goats are not great grazers. Unlike cows, which lower their heads to munch grass, goats prefer to browse with their heads up, feeding on shrubs and other eye-level vegetation.

Abby Schofield, 33, has been tending goats since 1995. She said her herd of 32 Nigerian Dwarf goats plays a major role in her life.

“They have the personality of a dog. They come when they are called and give you milk,” Schofield said.

Her goats even caused a breakup with a boyfriend.

“My boyfriend didn’t want to be a goat herder,” she said.

So she and her herd moved to her own Valley’s Edge Farm in Strong, where she is almost able to eke out a living with her goats. Recently, she managed to trim down her full-time job as a veterinarian technician to just 10 hours a week.

“I bought a house with these goats,” Schofield said.

Cassette, the owner of Gael and Gayleen, has been raising Alpine and Nubian goats with his father, Bob Cassette, for more than 45 years at their Chateau Briant Farm. “This is our 46th year at the Cumberland fair,” Cassette said as he gently stroked a now-subdued Gael and Gayleen.

He said the pair were making their first rounds at the show arena Sunday and were understandably nervous.

“This is the first time they have been out of the barn and their first instinct is to flee,” Cassette said.

More goats will be on display at the 4-H Goat Show at 9 a.m. Monday at the fair.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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Daniel Kany: Strong show by artists from ‘across the river’ Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 In light of major changes at regional powerhouses like the Maine College of Art, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, a group exhibition by the faculty of the historically strong University of New Hampshire studio program at the George Marshall Store Gallery in York is an intriguing opportunity and conversation starter.

The director of the GMSG, Mary Harding, has had a long relationship with UNH and regional artists from across the river. (While Carly Glovinski’s studio is on the wrong side of the Piscataqua, her GMSG show was one of Maine’s sparkiest shows this past year.)

Harding is one of the best exhibition designers around, but her show of UNH faculty “Back to School Special” still surprises. Harding has gathered a large number of works, sometimes hung two deep, and yet “Special” still breathes and feels open. This would be expected from a curated exhibition where the work was selected on the basis of appearance or coherent theme, but “Special” showcases a faculty defined by diversity rather than similarity. Harding rose to the challenge of coherently installing sculpture, photography, ceramics, abstraction, hand-drawn graphic novel-style art and representational painting all in a single space.

Rather than carving out individual enclaves, “Special” weaves the disparate work together. Julee Holcombe’s “Metropolis,” a four-foot Photoshopped photographic collage of notable urban structures instantly appears like it would be the hardest thing to place, but Harding makes it work in the middle of the main gallery by anchoring it visually with a pair of Don Williams’ “Cistern” sculptures. Williams’ pieces look like rusted steel infrastructure structures, old but not ancient. And they quietly reach out to work with the rusty and dusty underbelly of Holcombe’s otherwise overwhelming city scene. The conversation pushes the quality of objects at its edges, and so the scanning glance flows smoothly into, over and, ultimately, past the trio with its seamlessly breathing rhythm. And yet I still think Holcombe’s “Metropolis” is the weakest work in the show.

"Moon Tide," oil on canvas by Rick Fox, 24 by 24 inches.

“Moon Tide,” oil on canvas by Rick Fox, 24 by 24 inches.

“Special” starts with the strong pairing of paintings by Rick Fox and Craig Hood. Fox’s landscapes seek to be boldly and unabashedly strong and handsome (rather like a high contrast blend of New England’s Henry Isaacs and Seattle’s Z.Z. Wei). They are highly stylized, but with enough coherence, flexibility and well-handled paint so that they do not come across as affected or cliches of themselves. Hood moves in the opposite direction; instead of self-consciously bold contrasts, Hood hides figures in monochrome color clouds of dusk, fog or dust on the road. In Fox’s work, the scene is immediate but we are invited back to scan for bravado paint passages. In Hood’s scenes, we see a simplified color structure first and then we come back to scan for narrative details. One monochrome hay-brown landscape initially features little more than a tiny moon form at the top. But, noticing the title “Nativity,” I scanned the scene for its narrative and iconography and found myself starting to believe I had seen the wagon and the other objects all along. Hood’s works are one-part circus trick, but his painting is strong enough to take that transformation to a whole other place.

"House of the Lord," oil on panel by Craig Hood, 16 by 20 inches.

“House of the Lord,” oil on panel by Craig Hood, 16 by 20 inches.

Jennifer Moses’s rhythmically playful abstractions engage broadly, such as her 2014 “Who’s afraid of red, yellow, blue?” which riffs on Barnet Newman’s 1966-70 Mondrian-referencing paintings whose titles looked to Edward Albee’s 1962 “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” On the opposite spectrum are Grant Drumheller’s warmly unironic landscapes of place, such as his large Eliot, Maine, orchard of golden apples, or his smaller and pleasantly clucky and plucky horizonless “Bird Walk.”

"Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, Blue," oil on panel by Jennifer Moses, 30 by 33 inches.

“Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Blue,” oil on panel by Jennifer Moses, 30 by 33 inches.

Switching from impressionist space to post-impressionist painting – thick, chewy and literal as paint – is the work of Brian Chu. From the Cezannesque simplicity of his pair of onions to the oldest work in the show, a 2005 landscape, “The Lower Mill,” Chu balances paint between rendering a scene and reveling in its own qualities.

"Lower Mill," oil on board by Brian Chu, 17 by 14 inches.

“Lower Mill,” oil on board by Brian Chu, 17 by 14 inches.

Other particularly worthy works include Leah Woods’ labyrinthian raw pine sculptural floor installation and Sachiko Akiyama’s impressively scaled and painted wood relief, “Four Corners of the Floating World,” in which a mother, holding the hand of her diminutively-scaled son, goes face to face with a heron who has, squash-necked, stayed behind for the encounter while his four feathery colleagues have taken wing. Holcombe’s high focus photographic portraits are heavily staged but her “Fortune Teller” follows the compressed body language of her model, a deep but claustrophobic closet space and intriguingly-textured materials like charcoal and wax to convey a compellingly uncanny encounter.

The success of “Special” is understated because it doesn’t feel like a faculty roster show. And yet it makes an excellent case for the university as an academic art department while raising some timely questions. After all, with the shifting of the region’s economy away from manufacturing, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions that include the growing role of cultural tourism.

What is the role of art education in America? Is art school vocational or professional training? Or is it something else entirely? And, whatever the role of the education is in the lives of the students, what are the public roles of art schools? We could ask this about the nation, the region, or about Maine specifically. This state, after all, is home to some of the best known residency art programs in the nation, like Skowhegan, Watershed and Haystack. And with the shifting of the art scene in Portland, how could we not wonder about the future shape of the growing roles of schools like the Maine College of Art?

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

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New PMA mural has its roots in rural Maine Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 When Jessica May arrived at the Portland Museum of Art as a new curator in 2012, one of the first things she did was seek out the museum’s paintings by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

She didn’t find any.

“We didn’t have one, and it felt like this museum, especially, should have a really good painting from this group,” she said.

May, now the museum’s chief curator, rectified the omission, arranging the purchase of the painting “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Asleep on the Raft (after Mark Twain)” early in her tenure. The painting is part of a new exhibition at the museum that features the work of Rollins, a Maine native, and the New York-based art collective Kids of Survival.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is another Rollins purchase, a colorful mural hanging in the Great Hall called “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Its central motifs are dense splashes of colorful flower blossoms spreading across a 34-foot banner. The theme riffs on the Shakespeare play, and the colors are printed on top of sheet music by the German composer Felix Mendelssohn. He wrote the music in the 1800s to accompany a version of the Shakespeare play.

The Rollins piece was inspired by the Shakespeare character Puck, a jester described as a “merry wanderer of the night.” A prankster, he sprays a love potion in the eyes of other characters in the play, spreading love. The splashes of color in the PMA mural might be interpreted as love potion.

Rollins and members of K.O.S. were at the museum last week to unveil the work. The museum purchased the piece in collaboration with Maine Center for Creativity. A museum spokesman declined to say what the museum paid, citing PMA policy.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will hang in the Great Hall for the foreseeable future, May said. Its colors complement those of the wall painting by Mark Wethli, “Transom,” also on permanent view in the Great Hall.

Rollins, who declined an interview for this story, grew up in Pittsfield, and has credited his childhood in rural Maine for his artistic vision. He remembers wide-open farm fields and patchwork quilts. He studied art, and moved to New York, where he taught art in a South Bronx intermediate school. Everything changed with that job, Rollins has said. He realized he could use art to help kids express themselves, and formed K.O.S. to give his students a voice.

Three decades later, the group is still making work with much of the same membership as in the early days.

As with the Huck Finn painting and the large mural hanging in the PMA’s Great Hall, the group works with printed source material to begin their paintings, sculptures and drawings. They create work around books and music in pop and literary culture, playing off the themes raised by the work.

They take pages from the book or score, or the printed words from a speech, and adhere them onto canvas in a grid‑like fashion. Collaboratively, they build their image on top of the pages, often making allegorical pieces that are rooted in politics and social change. For “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” they used Mulberry paper, inks, juices and whatever else they could find, working while the Mendelssohn piece played in the studio.

The group has exhibited widely, including at multiple Whitney Biennials, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston.

That’s why May wanted a Rollins painting for the PMA when she arrived here. Four years later, the museum now has two.


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Society Notebook: More fun outdoors for Maine kids Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The Bow Ties & Bean Boots party helps Teens to Trails support more high school outing clubs.

“We help support high schools in Maine to start outing clubs,” said Rebecca Thomas, outreach and programs coordinator for Teens to Trails, a nonprofit based in Brunswick, at its third annual Bow Ties & Bean Boots fundraiser held at The Portland Company on Aug. 26.

“Our goal is to have an outing club in every high school in the state that is active and sustainable.”

Over 200 guests gathered on a sweltering summer night to show support for the idea that teens need to spend more time outdoors and for outing clubs to provide that kind of healthy and formative experience.

“We’re celebrating our 10th year,” said Carol Leone, who co-founded Teens to Trails with her husband, Bob, after a family tragedy.

“We lost our daughter, Sara, when she was at Wiscasset High School. Getting outside was a lot of the neat person that she was and the best times we had together as a family. We moved to Maine because we wanted to settle someplace where our kids would want to grow up. It was a surprise to me to realize that kids weren’t getting outside anymore.”

With the warehouse doors of The Portland Company thrown open, partygoers mingled near food trucks, perused the extensive silent auction items and queued up for beers cooling in canoes full of ice. Live music included sets by Whiskey Grimace and Dominic & The Lucid.

Christian LaMontagne, president of the Cheverus Outing Club, enjoyed the evening with his folks, Lynn and Peter of Long Island. Dave Butler, a board member and Maine guide, was joined by Cindy Watson and Bob Gross.

Hailey Hewitt, an old friend of Sara Leone, attended with her family, including parents Abby and Mike Hewitt and sister Chelsea of Fairfax, Virginia. “They introduced us to the beauty of Maine,” said Mike Hewitt, whose family has known the Leones since 1997. “We’ve been associated with it since they started, but this is the first time we could come to the event. It’s really special to us.”

“These are the best people in the world,” said Shawn Carlson of Boothbay, who was a founding board member. “I have never seen two people take a tragedy and make it into a beautiful thing. They are gracious and they’ve made a difference both on the midcoast and all over the state.”

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

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Deep Water: ‘Butterfly’ by Rachel Contreni Flynn Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Edited and introduced by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

This week we have a poem by Rachel Contreni Flynn, who is the author of two full-length collections and the co-editor of the venerable Beloit Poetry Journal. “Butterfly” pushes us into the deep water of experience with the story of a moment. “A father watches his daughter swim in a race” is the gloss one could give this poem, but there’s far more happening here than that.

The first few times I read this poem, I was caught up in the language and images, as I often am, like “the gold-tooled book” and the way the daughter becomes a “stubborn insect” who’s “flip / turning to scoop wildly at the end.” But now I see that the poem also shows us a father who’s replaced his Sunday worship with the prayerlike attention that he pays to his daughter’s races. This father is in awe of how his daughter’s become a butterfly and how sometimes in her transformation she finds something ineffable.


By Rachel Contreni Flynn

He comes to watch her from the upper balcony

swim after the gun cracks and the body he made

splays off the block into the chemical air

before churning forward. The quiet father

enjoys the humidity, youthful cheers, his hat

clutched between his knees. He used to pray,

used to carry the candles and avert his eyes,

the gold-tooled book held aloft. Sundays now

he watches his daughter struggle through water

that darkens as it deepens. A stubborn insect,

sometimes she wins by keeping up, then flip

turning to scoop wildly at the end as if gathering

from the water something rare and hidden

that does not belong to her.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. This column is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Rachel Contreni Flynn. It appears here by permission of the author.

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Can ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ redeem Mel Gibson? Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 VENICE, Italy — Do you believe? Do you believe Mel Gibson, the movie star, the Oscar-winning producer and director, the part-time pariah, can be redeemed in the eyes of the Hollywood establishment?

I think it just happened. “Hacksaw Ridge” made its world premiere at the recent 73rd Venice International Film Festival. With this, his fifth feature film as director, Gibson’s the toast of the Lido, after being toast himself, or perilously near it, in Hollywood and environs.

Let’s leave aside his off-screen travails and acknowledged anger management challenges. Let’s overlook his rant against Jews during a 2006 Malibu drunken-driving arrest. Gibson’s directorial follow-up to “Apocalypto” 10 years ago has returned him to the good graces of the much of the world press and, very likely, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose Oscar nominations come out in January.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is a fervent, extraordinarily bloody World War II drama about the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. It’s the most bloodthirsty movie about a pacifist ever made. That paradox is hardly beside the point; it holds the key to the film’s likely worldwide success.

It stars an enormously sympathetic Andrew Garfield as Desmond T. Doss, the Seventh-day Adventist assigned as a medic to the 307th Infantry, 77th Army Division. The Virginia-born Doss refused to carry a gun owing to his religious beliefs. He was widely derided as a coward and a freak by his fellow enlisted men. (Vince Vaughn plays his sergeant, tormentor at first, protector in the end.) Then the truth about Doss was revealed, though it was there all along: Here was a man of true conviction and a bone-deep commitment to his religion’s tenets. Doss ended up saving 75 lives in the Battle of Okinawa. In emotional terms, Doss was the reason the battle was won. And the war.

Far grislier in its images of battlefield slaughter than “Saving Private Ryan,” if not especially concerned with the moral horrors of war, “Hacksaw Ridge” received a 10-minute standing ovation at its official public world premiere here on the Lido, across the water from Venice, a few hours after its early morning media screening. It opens in U.S. theaters in November and comes equipped with strong appeal for both WWII buffs and faith-based constituents (who turned out in record numbers for Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” a $612 million grosser, “grosser” being definable at least two ways).

Doss’ life is the stuff of true courage under fire. Gibson’s take, scripted by Andrew Knight and “Kentucky Cycle” dramatist Robert Schenkkan, keeps Doss’ spirituality at the heart of everything. Visually echoing Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, Gibson begins his story of hellfire with slow-motion images of napalmed soldiers flooded by the “lake of fire” awaiting all unrighteous nonbelievers.

At one point, before Okinawa, Garfield as Doss protests to his superior officers: “My values are under attack.” Surely this is a line that has significant personal meaning to director Gibson, whose traditionalist Catholic doctrine has set him at odds with much of the perceived Hollywood culture.

Truly, the power of faith, along with a rapidly expanding definition of what the movies are becoming, has turned this edition of the Venice festival into a collision of the secular, the religious and the cinematic.

Continuing through Saturday, the world’s oldest international film festival (begun in 1932) goes by the full name of Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica la Biennale di Venezia. The festival opened with a film even more warmly received than Gibson’s: Damien Chazelle’s extraordinary widescreen musical “La La Land,” destined like “Hacksaw Ridge” for many Academy Award nominations come January. “La La Land” made its world premiere here, then zipped immediately to Telluride, Colo., for a North American premiere (next stop: Toronto and Chicago festivals). Two of the world’s most pleasurable and vital film festivals, the four-day Telluride and the 11-day Venice, take place simultaneously.

“La La Land” stars Ryan Gosling and a majorly terrific Emma Stone as a couple of singing, dancing LA dreamers in glorious CinemaScope. Chazelle’s film pays homage to a host of film musicals and directorial masters past. It is a work of pure faith, although not the religious kind.

With “Jesus VR: The Story of Christ,” the doctrine’s hardly in doubt. Touted as “the first virtual reality feature-length film ever made,” this 90-minute home-viewing novelty is due out at Christmas and available on various platforms, including Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift. If the “Transformers” franchise ever needs new character names …

On the second floor of the festival’s casino building, in an oblong space equipped with 50 VR headsets and swivel chairs, 40 minutes of “Jesus VR” were shown as a sneak preview, with one of the producers, Alex Barder, in attendance along with director David Hansen.

“Jesus VR” was shot in Matera, Italy, where Mel Gibson made his “Passion,” and the executive producer on “Passion,” Enzo Sisti, also worked on this project. It’s photographed in 4K, 360-degree digital. When you have the headgear and the headphones on, you can look straight ahead, straight behind, left, right, up, down, swivel in a full circle, whatever, and you’ll see some part of what is best described as a cinematic diorama in the round.

You’re essentially an invisible extra in the Jesus story, from manger birth to crucifixion death, alongside Second Shepherd on the right. In the manger scene, I swung around in my swivel chair and found myself mere inches from a wet-nosed cow.

There is virtually no cutting or camera movement. The images are blurry, as if you’re sitting too close to a 1966 Zenith TV console, the way I used to sit when “Batman” was on. “Jesus VR” may garner some interest among the VR-curious. But without a better, crisper image, filmmaking this rudimentary inspires three little words: not there yet.

During the break, the VR headsets came off for a cool-down and people asked a few questions. Someone wondered about the weirdness of the static visual quality combined with allegedly immersive technology. Director Hansen chewed his fingernails a bit, and then admitted they tried moving the camera now and then, or cutting within a pageant-like tableau, but it didn’t work.

“It took you out of the scene,” he said.

Someone else called the “Jesus VR” demonstration “a solitary experience.” Hansen chewed his nails again, and then muttered: “Is that good or bad?”

“It’s only an observation,” the woman said.

Producer Barder jumped in. “That’s the power of the platform. It’s a very personal experience … you can see this two, three, four, 10 times” and see a different movie every time, he said.

If this were the future, it seemed a lot like 1926. That year, audiences heard Al Jolson sing on screen in a Vitaphone short released the year before “The Jazz Singer.” The technology was crude. The camera’s mobility, so joyous and free in the best silent films, had abruptly vanished. Yet the public was intrigued.

It took some time for the movie industry to figure it all out. Maybe that’s where we are now with VR. Years from now, when virtual reality seems less like a threat and more like a filmmaking avenue full of promise, we’ll see things differently. VR will become truly, scarily, mundanely immersive in gamer-style scenarios or pornography or, who knows, another Son of God retelling. When we get there, I’ll remember the demonstration of “Jesus VR” in the 2016 Venice film festival. And, if nothing else, I’ll remember that cow.

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Ashley Bryan’s latest children’s book re-imagines the lives of slaves Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 At first glance, the auction notice was similar to any of the others that arrive monthly at Ashley Bryan’s home on Little Cranberry Island. It advertised an estate auction on the mainland and included many of the usual things associated with old Maine estates: dishware, linens, tools, toys and various domestic objects.

Also available were “Civil War documents and slave-related materials.”

That got Bryan’s attention. The artist and children’s book author and illustrator, who enjoys scouring auction notices for rare finds, recognized this was a very unusual sale indeed and made arrangements to attend the auction in Northeast Harbor. When he arrived, he was the only black man among a small crowd of bidders. He wasn’t surprised at being the only African-American in the group – he’s accustomed to that in Maine – but he was shocked there weren’t more people there to bid.

“If this sale had taken place in New York, Chicago or Boston, all the museums and universities would have been there, bidding for these documents,” Bryan said. “They’re very rare and highly sought-after.”

But no one bid against Bryan that day, and when the sale closed, he carried home with him to Little Cranberry Island the names and sale prices of 11 slaves, sold at auction in 1828.

There in his island home, safe among the spruce and granite, Bryan brought them to life and made their dreams come true.

He tells their stories in a new children’s book, “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.” Released this month by the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum, the book was among six named last week as a finalist for a Kirkus Prize in children’s literature. The winner, announced in November, gets $50,000.

Bryan has written more than 50 children’s books, many dealing with African-American spirituals and traditions. He’s won numerous honors, including multiple Coretta Scott King awards and a Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association. A New Yorker, he came to Maine to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in the late 1940s. He has lived year-round in Isleford on Little Cranberry Island since retiring from Dartmouth College in the 1980s.

A storyteller, he is best known for his books and paintings and also makes puppets and stained-glass windows from the driftwood and seaglass that he collects on the island. The Ashley Bryan Center, established in 2013 to promote his work and legacy, is distributing 5,000 copies of his most popular book, “Beautiful Blackbird,” to Maine schoolchildren, through the First Book project. Maine schools can receive up to 25 copies of the book, which is based on African folklore and teaches students self-esteem.

Bryan also is the subject of a new documentary, “I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan,” by Maine filmmaker Richard Kane. The movie aired last week at the Camden International Film Festival and is making the rounds at Maine theaters.

Bryan labored over “Freedom Over Me” for more than a decade. The auction occurred a dozen or so years ago, and he has lived with the presence of these people as he shaped them and gave them histories.

The book is entirely fiction. Bryan imagines everything, other than the names and sale prices of the slaves.

That information he took directly from one of 20 documents he purchased that day in Northeast Harbor, a bill of sale from 1828, “Fairchilds Appraisement of the Estate.”

On a brown, stained piece of paper, someone with neat handwriting has taken great care to put a price on a human life. Worn at the creases, the brittle paper lists the names, genders and prices of 11 slaves.

“One Negro woman named Peggy – 150.00”

“One boy named Stephan – 300.00”

“One woman Mulvina – 150.00”

“One girl Jane – 300.00”

And so on.

It also lists other commodities purchased that day: cattle, hogs and cotton.

Bryan knows nothing about the origin of the documents. They were part of a sale that included 20 estates, and they could have ended up in Maine any number of ways. There were slaves in Maine, but more likely these documents came from the homes of Southern “rusticators,” who spent summers on the coast of Maine.

Bryan gave each person a birth name – Mariama, Adero – and asked each to speak to him. “Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your history? What do you like to do? What are you good at? What are your dreams in life if you are not a slave?”

As he imagined their responses, he began painting their portraits. He based his portraits on family and friends, which brought them closer to him and made them more real and lifelike.

“I could hear their voices as they opened up their lives to me,” he said.

In “Freedom Over Me,” Bryan tells their stories in verse, each story a poem, each poem a life. There is Peggy, 48, a cook who, because of her skills, has the privilege of working in the big house. And John, 16, a carpenter, messenger and artist.

Each story gets two pages in the book. On one, Bryan shows the person in a muted, serious pose as a slave, a portrait painted on top of the document that details the slave’s value at sale with his or her name, age and skill: Cook, seamstress, carpenter.

Bryan then imagines that person in full color, full of joy and life, using their skills to make dreams come true.

The subject of slavery and children’s books has difficult recent history. Earlier this year, Scholastic Press was criticized for “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” because of its depiction of “happy” slaves making a cake for President George Washington on his birthday. The portrayal put the author and illustrator in hot water, and the publisher pulled the book, citing the “false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves” created by the book.

Caitlyn Dlouhy, Bryan’s editor at Atheneum, said she knew that Bryan would handle the topic of slavery with sensitivity and respect. “If Ashley Bryan can’t write about this subject, then nobody can,” Dlouhy said. “With the care and sensitivity and dignity that he gives to everyone, Ashley is the person who can come at this in the purest way.”

Dlouhy said Byran’s use of a factual record of the sale to imagine the full lives of the slaves if they were free was “a brilliant approach.”

“By the time he finished explaining to me the approach he wanted to take, I was in tears,” she said. “I was in tears. It was so moving and came from such a deep place in his heart.”

The book, she said, is appropriate for anyone older than 5 or 6, including adults. Bryan agrees. We cannot protect children from history, he said, trusting that adults who are present in the lives of the children who read this book will explain slavery in context with other horrors of the world.

Donna B. Isaacs, an island friend and Ashley Bryan Center board member, said this book challenged Bryan as no other. The subject was emotionally difficult, and the story wasn’t always obvious. At one point, she urged him to stop. “It’s not worth it,” she said.

He told her that other writers have written children’s books about the Holocaust “and all kinds of other atrocities.”

“I can do this,” he told her. “This is who I am. This is what I do.”

He kept working and eventually found a rhythm to his story and a way forward.

The book was difficult, emotionally and physically, he said. What else could a book about slavery be, if not difficult?

As he wrote this book, more than ever, Bryan understood what his life might have been like had he been born during slavery.

“I thought of myself, a black man, reading, writing and painting freely,” he said. “Had I been born under slavery, it would have been a crime to read or write. A slave caught in these acts would be haven been beaten or had his hands removed by an ax.”

“I was often caught up in these thoughts. Through tears, I would persist in presenting these slaves as human beings. And then I would go out in the garden and find release painting hollyhocks and dahlias.”


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Ron Howard’s ‘Eight Days a Week’ chronicles the Beatles’ amazing ride as a touring band Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Their paths don’t cross frequently these days, but put Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in a room together and within a heartbeat they’re displaying the easy but deep camaraderie forged more than half a century ago on their way to becoming the biggest rock band on the planet.

“No, he is good – I take back what I just said about him,” McCartney says, smiling wryly as Starr strolls back into the swank Las Vegas hotel suite and takes a seat next to his erstwhile other half in the Beatles’ rhythm section. The drummer had stepped out for a bottle of water during a short break between interviews surrounding the Ron Howard-directed documentary about the Beatles as a performing unit, “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years.”

McCartney had started relating an infamous remark by jazz drummer Buddy Rich to a reporter but was interrupted. Finishing the thought, with Starr back at his side, McCartney related that “Buddy kind of made fun of Ringo for not being real technical.”

Flashing the signature sharp Liverpool wit in response, Starr shot back, “Yeah, but I always thought he sounded like rats running around a (drum) kit.”

The friendship created some 60 years ago among four lads who grew up blocks apart from one another is one that’s also front and center in the documentary that opens nationally in mid-September.

Oscar-winning director Howard joined the surviving subjects of his film at the interview, often sitting back and listening to their banter with as much interest and enjoyment as any longtime fan.

“Eight Days a Week” chronicles the astonishing wild ride the Beatles were on during the first half of their eight-year life as a group, through the height of Beatlemania. Howard, who vividly recalls watching their live U.S. performance debut in 1964 on “The Ed Sullivan Show” just before he turned 10, agreed to direct the documentary in hopes of illustrating to a new generation just how extraordinary the group and their journey was.

“I felt it was incumbent upon me to try to do two things,” Howard, 62, explained. “One was to honor the fans who really would know the difference – the really dedicated fans, of which there are zillions.

“But I also thought it was even more important to try to tell a story that would convey to people who really have no idea – I’m thinking of the millennials, I suppose; people who have grown up with the music and think they know something of the story – the intensity of the journey and the impact they had.”

That’s a big part of what appealed to Howard to sign on in 2012 to direct his first documentary, although he subsequently took on another doc, “Made in America,” released in 2013.

Much of the 95-minute film is built on crowd-sourced material ferreted out over a long period. Those efforts date to the early 2000s, when a film archivist company, One Voice, One World, asked Apple executives to commission them to locate footage from fans who were taking advantage of increasingly popular home-movie cameras flooding the market around the time Beatlemania erupted globally in 1964.

The project stalled, then was revived a few years ago by Jeff Jones, the head of the Beatles company, Apple Corps Ltd., who brought in producer Nigel Sinclair to see it through for his Los Angeles-based White Horse Pictures. Sinclair had been a producer of the 2006 Martin Scorsese-directed Bob Dylan documentary “No Direction Home” and the 2011 George Harrison life story, also directed by Scorsese, “Living in the Material World.”

Along with the crowd-sourced footage, “Eight Days a Week” – being distributed by Abramorama Entertainment – incorporates new interviews with McCartney and Starr along with archival interviews of John Lennon and George Harrison and other material provided by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison. The film opened in theaters last week and began streaming on Hulu on Saturday.

For the inner-circle participants, the making of the film turned into an opportunity to revisit and clarify some facets of what often was a giant blur when they were in the midst of it.

“The stuff you remember when you see the footage, and the old photographs, it helps,” Starr, 76, said from his seat on the couch next to his former group’s bassist.

McCartney quickly picked up the conversation, saying: “It jogs all the memories. That’s one of the joys about seeing the film.”

Both pointed to the section of the film that discusses the rider in the Beatles’ concert contracts specifying that they refused to perform in segregated venues while touring the U.S.

“One of the great things for me” about the film, McCartney, 74, said, “was all the civil rights things that we’d always naturally had an empathy with, just because we had loads of black friends and of all our (musical) heroes, many of them were black. To see in the film that we actually put it in our contracts … we didn’t remember that. I was very impressed with that. It was very cool.”

It was a revelation to Howard as well.

“I didn’t know anything about that,” he said. “One of the big surprises to me was how clear they were about it, how matter of fact. I knew about their antiwar stances later. But I had no notion (about their position on racial equality). That was courageous stuff at that time.”


One big challenge in creating “Eight Days a Week” was the two-pronged mission of trying to educate relative Fab Four neophytes while simultaneously giving die-hard Beatles enthusiasts enough to take in that they haven’t seen or been reading about for decades.

Among many scenes that should be new even to the most ardent Beatles fans is the footage of their final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Aug. 29, 1966.

That was the moment they quit touring to focus on advancing their music in the recording studio, a career sea change that yielded such watershed albums as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “The Beatles” (a.k.a. the White Album) and “Abbey Road.”

Sinclair asked Howard whether he’d be interested in taking part when they were working together on the 2013 film “Rush,” about Formula One race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, that Howard directed. Part of that process was a call sent out to Beatles fans worldwide by way of traditional media and social media platforms soliciting film footage, photos or recordings any fans kept of the group from the short few years they spent touring the globe from 1963 to 1966.

“A proverbial little old lady called in. She said, ‘I went to Candlestick show, and I sat in Row 8, and I took my camera,'” Sinclair recalled during a separate interview in Las Vegas. “She said, ‘Naturally I filmed all of the last song and all of the end of the show. I’ve got it in a can. It’s under my bed; I’m not sure if it still works. Would you like me to send it to you?’

“We realized that she didn’t realize she had something she could probably sell, so we actually explained to her that we would pay her for it,” Sinclair said. “We sent somebody up to San Francisco to pick it up, because we didn’t want to lose it, and it was the Holy Grail. For our story, we wanted to capture the boys running off the stage for the very last time in history. So we have a lot of things like that.”

Howard’s role in the film helped facilitate much of that, Sinclair said.

“One of the many things that Ron brought to the table is that he is a beloved man in America,” he said. “Ron had people come up to him in the street, and (they would) say, ‘Mr. Howard, I’m so glad you’re doing the Beatles film.’ Ron said, ‘Of course the subtext is “And don’t screw it up.”‘”

Another potential treat for fans who have seen plenty of Beatles performance footage is the quality of the companion audio in the performance segments. Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer George Martin, has worked with Abbey Road studio engineers to bring the most out of available recordings, some of which were taken directly from mixing boards at the Beatles concerts and not previously available.

(As a companion to “Eight Days a Week,” a 30-minute film of the Beatles’ 1965 performance at Shea Stadium in New York is being screened in various theaters.)

“We’re making good inroads and pushing the technology and the music as far as we can,” Martin told The Times. “I really want people to hear what it was like seeing the Beatles.”

It’s already made a positive impression on at least one person familiar with the band.

“We never really heard the Beatles,” said McCartney, referring to the screaming that accompanied their performances, which George Martin once equated to the volume of a jet aircraft. “We’ve certainly never seen them, because we were never out front. But I’d hear whoever I was standing nearest, whatever amp they were playing. … So it is kind of nice now to hear us mixed properly.”

Howard made no apologies going into this project from a starting position as a Beatles fan, saying, “I had an overall understanding of the story, but what I didn’t know about was the intensity of the journey, and how in this short, short period of time, they made these transformations as people and as artists at the same time that the world was transforming.”

Even the choice to stop touring struck Howard as a bold artistic move, one that both Beatles look back on now as inevitable – although it added a giant question mark to their future at the time. George Harrison said, “I guess I’m not a Beatle any more,” after the final concert in San Francisco.

“The Beatles wanted to be the best at everything,” said Chris Carter, host of the long-running “Breakfast With the Beatles” radio show in Los Angeles. “They wrote the best songs, they made the best records, but they weren’t putting on the best stage shows at that time – they couldn’t under those conditions. So it makes sense that they chose to quit performing to focus on the recording studio.”

Noted McCartney: “You couldn’t give your best under those conditions. But the nice thing is, we didn’t lose it. Because when we came back to the roof,” referring to their famous set in 1969 atop Apple’s offices, “we were still that band. But it just got depressing (during the touring years) because you couldn’t do what you wanted to do.”

“I’m not putting it down in any way,” Starr said. “They screamed, that was part of this experience. But the experience for us got less (rewarding), because we’re musicians.”

That was all great grist for the story Howard wanted to tell.

“One of the things I didn’t anticipate was how, I thought, kind of courageous the choice was to leave, because that’s how they were making (most of) their money,” Howard said. “They were hugely famous; this is what everybody wanted. Yet their creative integrity was what was driving them, and their sense of what’s worthy of their time, just as people on the planet.”

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Up next in MaineVoices Live series: Maine writer Lily King Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Maine writer Lily King will join reporter Bob Keyes in conversation on stage at One Longfellow Square Tuesday evening, part of the Maine- Voices Live series hosted by the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram.

King is the author of four novels, most recently the widely celebrated “Euphoria,” inspired by the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. The book earned King the 2014 Kirkus Prize for fiction and was named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review.

King, who lives in Yarmouth, was the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer’s Award. Her books include “Father of the Rain,” “The English Teacher” and “The Pleasing Hour.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the conversation begins at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for Press Herald subscribers, $15 for all others.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to

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Crime writer Bruce Robert Coffin draws on deep well of professional experience Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Sometimes the road not taken intersects with your chosen path decades later.

After an uninspiring experience in a college creative writing class, Bruce Robert Coffin put aside his dreams of becoming an author. Instead, he spent more than 27 years in law enforcement, retiring as a detective sergeant with the Portland Police Department.

Now he’s preparing for a new career as a mystery writer, thanks to his full-length debut, “Among the Shadows,” published by HarperCollins’s Witness Impulse imprint. The Portland-based novel introduces readers to Detective Sgt. John Byron, a seasoned cop investigating the apparent murders of retired fellow police officers, even as he struggles with department politics, a crumbling marriage and a dangerous reliance on alcohol.

Born in Portland, Coffin grew up in Scarborough and attended the University of Southern Maine. He was hired as a police cadet by the Portland Police Department in 1985, retired in 2012 and now lives in Windham with his wife, Karen.

In a telephone conversation, it’s clear that Coffin, at age 52, still feels the sting of rejection from his undergraduate writing experience.

“I had intentionally taken an advanced class,” he said. “All of a sudden, I had gone from getting straight As for anything I wrote and winning scholarships with my writing ability to barely squeaking out a D.”

The low grades took their toll on Coffin’s literary aspirations. “When you’re younger, it takes very little to derail dreams like that,” he said.

So Coffin put his writing aside and began a career in law enforcement.

After attending the police academy, Coffin walked a beat in Portland. “Back then, things were different,” he said. “You really paid your dues. Everyone walked a foot beat for a couple years before you ever (drove) a car.”

Early on, it was criminal investigations that drew his interest: “the follow-up work, making contacts, figuring out who on the street knew who and where you could get good information.”

Eventually, his career took a turn into traffic enforcement, where he did a lot of operating-under-the-influence work and became an accident reconstructionist. In 1997, he was promoted to detective and began investigating property crime, before concentrating on homicides and armed robberies.

Among the more high-profile cases he worked was the 2001 murder of Amy St. Laurent, a 25-year-old young woman who disappeared after a night in Portland’s Old Port. Her body was located two months later, and the evidence eventually led to the arrest of Jeffrey “Russ” Gorman, who was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

“A lot of times the victims’ activities are the reasons they wind up in bad conditions. It was quickly apparent that wasn’t the case with Amy,” Coffin said. “She was actually a good kid and squared away.”

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Coffin spent four years working counterterrorism with the FBI. Coffin earned the Director’s Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive from the FBI, before returning to his work with the department.

Coffin had begun a side career as a painter of portraits and other commissioned artwork, but he didn’t tell too many people about his renewed attempts to write fiction. He spent 2½ years finishing a mystery novel titled “Deathwatch.” He showed it to some writer friends, who “thought it was good for a first novel.”

Kate Clark Flora, former assistant attorney general, mystery writer and a co-author of “Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine,” an account of the St. Laurent investigation, took an early interest in Coffin’s work.

“He started out good and has put lots of time and effort into learning the craft and perfecting the craft,” she said by email.

She invited Coffin to the annual New England Crime Bake writers’ conference. By the time the weekend was over, Coffin said, he had an entirely different idea for his book. He basically started from scratch, dictating a new synopsis during his 2½-hour drive back to Maine.

That new idea would eventually become “Among the Shadows.” Awash in local color, steeped in a sense of realism born of decades of law enforcement experience, the completed novel spotlights John Byron as a complicated man in a difficult job. Shaped by the suicide of his father (also a cop), Byron has turned into a relentless investigator, pushing himself to extremes while seeking the truth and protecting the other members of his team. He’s a familiar type, but given a very specific, Maine-centric twist.

Mystery writer Paul Doiron, author of “The Precipice,” said that it is the setting that makes “Among the Shadows” stand out.

“Portland is a distinctive little city with an old shipping and fishing heritage, waves of immigrants from Asia and Africa who have made a real impact on the culture, and a recent hipster trend,” Doiron said by email. “Bruce really gets how unusual Portland is, and you sense it beneath the story.”

Maine thriller writer Chris Holm, author of “Red Right Hand,” complimented another aspect of authenticity in Coffin’s work. He comes from “a cop family,” he said in an email, and “Detective Sergeant Byron’s world-weariness and dented optimism wouldn’t have seemed out of place at my grandma’s Sunday dinner.”

Coffin’s persistence with this book paid off. Within the course of a few weeks, he landed an agent and a contract for three books with the Witness Impulse imprint, which publishes e-books and trade paperbacks. To top things off, his first short story written since college, “Fool Proof,” has also been selected for inclusion in Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt’s “Best American Mystery Stories 2016.”

At work on the second John Byron mystery, Coffin is able to see the upside in having taken so long to find his fiction groove and put his college creative writing disappointments into perspective.

“Now that I’ve done 28 years in a law enforcement career, I have something to write about,” he said. “I have all those experiences I’ve carried around with me. I think maybe that if I had not been derailed by [that writing class], I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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

Twitter: mlberry

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‘Plein air Pairing’ exhibit at Rockland gallery Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Landing Gallery, 409 Main St. in Rockland, is featuring “Plein air Pairing,” a new exhibit of paintings by Monique Lazard and Tom Curry.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 29.

Lazard attended California College of Art and pursued graduate studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Her landscape paintings are described as “having a sense of movement and filled with a gestural energy,” according to a press release.

For the past 18 years, Curry has painted the landscape around his home in Maine.

“As a plein air painter, I immerse myself in landscape to explore the relationships between stillness and flux,” he said in the press release. “… I paint the interplay of light, island, sky and water as a metaphor and meditation on place and time, the dance between what we perceive as eternal and ephemeral.”

Curry’s work is in collections at the Farnsworth Art Museum, Delaware Art Museum and Wheaton College Museum.

For more information, call 239-1223 or go to

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British Columbia welcomes British royalty Sun, 25 Sep 2016 00:27:25 +0000 VICTORIA, British Columbia — Prince William and his wife, Kate, arrived in Canada Saturday along with their two young children for their first official trip overseas as a family of four.

Princess Charlotte nibbled on her little finger while being held by Kate as they were greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife. A shy Prince George hid behind his dad while holding his hand. George later waved for the cameras but looked a little overwhelmed.

The eight-day trip marks the first overseas jaunt for 1-year-old Charlotte. Her older brother, 3-year-old George, has visited Australia and New Zealand.

While Australia, Jamaica and Barbados have talked about becoming republics, there is less debate in Canada about replacing Queen Elizabeth II as the figurative head of state. Canadians are somewhat indifferent to the monarchy, but most have affection for the queen, whose silhouette marks their coins, as well as her grandsons and Kate.

– From news service reports

]]> 0, 24 Sep 2016 20:34:33 +0000
Truman Capote’s ashes fetch $45,000 at auction Sun, 25 Sep 2016 00:19:41 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Some people will pay good money for anything involving the late Truman Capote.

Including his ashes.

Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles announced Saturday that Capote’s ashes, contained in a Japanese wooden box have sold for $45,000.

That’s well above the original estimate, which the auction house reported as $4,000.

The ashes are dated Aug. 28, 1984, days after the author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” died at 59.

The ashes were long kept by Capote’s close friend and ex-wife of Johnny Carson, Joanne Carson, who died last year.

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Sat, 24 Sep 2016 20:36:52 +0000
Renowned band leader Buckwheat Zydeco dies Sat, 24 Sep 2016 22:47:26 +0000 NEW ORLEANS — Musician Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., who rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his namesake band Buckwheat Zydeco, has died. He was 68.

His longtime manager Ted Fox told The Associated Press that Dural died early Saturday morning from lung cancer.

Fox said the musician and accordionist died in Lafayette, Louisiana. He gained fame by introducing zydeco music of southwest Louisiana to the world.

“This is one of the world’s true genius musicians. A completely natural musician who could just fit in in any scenario,” Fox said.

Zydeco music was well known across southwest Louisiana where people would often drive for miles to small dance halls where zydeco bands featuring an accordion and a washboard would rock the crowds for hours.

But Dural took zydeco music mainstream, launching a major-label album – the Grammy-nominated “On a Night Like This” – with Island Records in 1987. He went on to jam with musical greats like Eric Clapton, play at former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration and perform at the 1996 Olympics closing ceremony in Atlanta.

He jammed with Jimmy Fallon on the final episode of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Fallon played the guitar backed up by The Roots while Buckwheat Zydeco rocked the accordion.

Dural earned his nickname because he had braided hair when he was younger that resembled Buckwheat from The Little Rascals television show. Born Nov. 14, 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, Dural was one of 13 children. His father played the accordion but the younger Dural preferred playing rhythm & blues and learned to play the organ.

By the late 1950s he was backing up musicians and eventually formed his own band. It wasn’t until 1978 though that he took up the accordion so closely associated with zydeco music and later formed his own band called Buckwheat Zydeco.

It was the 1987 Island Records deal that eventually brought Dural to a wider audience, and he went on to tour with Clapton, record with artists such as Ry Cooper, Paul Simon, Dwight Yoakam and Willie Nelson.

Fox called him an “old-fashioned showbiz professional” who was always focused on giving the audience – regardless of either they were eight or 80,000-strong – a good time.

“He had this charisma. He had this incredible charisma both onstage and personally,” he said.

]]> 0, 24 Sep 2016 22:38:13 +0000
Lewiston-Auburn museum sells hundreds of items to rein in a scattered collection Sat, 24 Sep 2016 21:14:44 +0000 LEWISTON — Museum L-A: The Story of Work and Community in Lewiston-Auburn is trying to trim down.

With a burgeoning accumulation of items and a looming loss of storage space, the museum decided to organize a sale to get rid of items that are not central to its mission of chronicling the community’s economic, social and technological history.

“We needed everything when we started but now we need the space,” said Rachel Desgrosseilliers, museum executive director.

Liette Morin of Lewiston looks through dolls from the collection of Bertha Chasse during a sale at Museum L-A. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Liette Morin of Lewiston looks through dolls from the collection of Bertha Chasse during a sale at Museum L-A. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Founded in 1996, the museum spent its first decade salvaging and preserving industrial artifacts from closing businesses, many of them in former mills. The result was a massive accumulation of objects, some of which had nothing to do with its focus. So on Saturday, the museum put hundreds of them on sale. Proceeds will go back to the museum, now housed at the Bates Mill Complex.

Desgrosseilliers said with the complex under development, it is only a matter of time before the museum will have to find new space, at least 5,000 square feet of it but ideally 10,000 square feet. Currently, its collection is stored all over the place, some of it not ideal for preservation, Desgrosseilliers said.

Business was brisk at Saturday’s sale.

“We have been moving a lot of stuff, from old furniture to prints of local scenes,” Desgrosseilliers said.

The coat hooks from the former St. Peter’s Elementary School, which no longer exists, flew out the door.

“It is nostalgia,” Desgrosseilliers said.

Joan Vermette of Hollis looks through photographs from a past exhibit titled "The Power of Music" during a sale at Museum L-A on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Joan Vermette of Hollis looks through photographs from a past exhibit titled “The Power of Music” during a sale at Museum L-A on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Among other gems up for sale: a booklet on how to build a family fallout shelter, a box of Christmas decorations, a lava lamp and an assortment of slubbers, tall cylindrical objects used in textile manufacturing which could do double duty as a wastebasket. A box of nine votive candles and a bag of 100 percent wool were both priced at $10.

Genevieve Lysen of Lewiston picked out one of the thousands of cloth dolls donated to the museum by the late Bertha Chasse. Lysen said at $2 the doll was a bargain.

“It reminds me of the dolls we used to make at the Waldorf school in Freeport,” Lysen said.

Joan Vermette of Hollis was out of luck in her mission to acquire some point papers, which were used to translate a textile designer’ patterns onto looms. Vermette said her work as a digital designer breaking down images to the pixel level is similar to the textile designer’s. She is also descended from Franco-Americans who worked in Maine textile mills, she said. But there were no point papers for sale at the museum.

“It sounds like they are very rare,” Vermette said.


]]> 0, 24 Sep 2016 22:56:31 +0000
Religion Calendar Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Prayer, Promises, Hope and Faith. Bible study held every Wednesday. Sharing worship space at the West Scarborough United Methodist Church, 656 Route 1, Scarborough., 4-6 p.m. Wednesday.

Hallowell Buddhist Meditation. Learn about the principles of Tibetan Buddhist meditation and philosophy. This is not a religious class. All are welcome. Class will begin with a short lecture, followed by guided meditation, group discussion and more meditation. $8 suggested donation. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 20 Union St., Hallowell. 201-805-8683, 5:30-6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

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

]]> 0 Sat, 24 Sep 2016 19:11:56 +0000
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs gives Howard University $1 million Sat, 24 Sep 2016 01:50:12 +0000 Sean “Diddy” Combs will give $1 million to the School of Business at Howard University for scholarships for undergraduate business majors and internships with his companies.

Combs announced the gift, with Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick, from the stage of Verizon Center during his Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour. Combs, a musician, entertainer, and entrepreneur, attended Howard; he did not graduate but was given an honorary degree.

“I was blessed to receive a great education from Howard University – one of the best schools in the world – and it helped to fuel my success in business and life,” Combs said in a statement. “This scholarship will make it possible for the next generation of leaders to pursue their dreams and achieve greatness.

Next fall, undergraduate business majors with a 3.0 grade-point-average and financial need will be eligible for the scholarships, which are intended to encourage students’ entrepreneurial drive. They will also get a summer internship at Bad Boy Entertainment or Revolt Media & TV and a Combs Enterprises representative to be a mentor.

]]> 0, 23 Sep 2016 22:07:04 +0000
J.K. Rowling says gorilla isn’t part of Harry Potter universe Sat, 24 Sep 2016 01:45:42 +0000 Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has clarified that slain Ohio gorilla Harambe is not a part of her fictional universe.

A new feature on Rowling’s Pottermore website allows users to find out what Patronus they would use in Harry Potter’s world. A Patronus is an animal used to ward off soul-sucking creatures in the series.

Humor site The Chive put a fake picture on Twitter of Harambe the gorilla on the Patronus page. Rowling retweeted the picture. A bit later she posted: “I’ve been asked to make it clear that Harambe is not a Patronus you can actually get on (at) pottermore.” But she added that she thought the joke was “very funny.”

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Sep 2016 21:51:59 +0000
Were ‘subtle tactics’ used to block mosque? Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:59:07 +0000 CULPEPER, Va. — The small Muslim community here used to pray in the historic Amtrak station, where Lyndon B. Johnson kicked off a 1960 whistle-stop tour. When a local history museum moved into the space in 2014, they shifted to an empty home next to an auto business.

After years of drifting, the group of about 12 to 20 Muslims who show up regularly for Friday prayers want a more permanent place of worship. So they set out to build a mosque in a more rural area outside town.

But those plans were put on hold in April, when the county denied them a permit to haul waste from the property, which is too undeveloped for sewer service. Now the Justice Department is investigating whether that decision was based on more than the technicalities of development – and amounts to illegal religious discrimination.

“We just want our rights to be fulfilled,” said Fuad Abu-Taleb, who leads Culpeper’s Muslim prayers.

The investigation is one of 14 being conducted by the Justice Department into potential discrimination by state and local governments involving land use or jails. While the agency declined to provide details of those, more than a third of Justice Department investigations into land or institutional religious discrimination in the past six years involve Muslims – a striking statistic given that Muslims make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population.

In a similar case in July, the Justice Department filed suit against a township in Pennsylvania, alleging that it discriminated when it denied zoning approval to a group that wanted to build a mosque.

In June, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, noted that the department sometimes sees “overt animus” toward religious groups seeking to build. “But we also see people organizing to try to block construction of minority places of worship often adopting more subtle tactics,” she said.

There is no question that the decision on what would normally be a little-noticed development matter in Culpeper got a lot of attention. A crowd packed the county government meeting and cheered when the motion to deny the permit was introduced. Board members reported receiving scores of calls and emails on the normally obscure land-use concern. The decision, made in a 4-to-3 vote, was celebrated on anti-Islam websites.

Ira Lupu, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said the federal investigators will conduct interviews and examine the record to look for “anything to suggest that they have granted these permits in cases where there’s no animosity towards the people applying, and maybe even a preference.”

County Administrator John Egertson said he was “very confident that when they finish their review, they will find that we are completely compliant.” The board, he said, “acted within their policy, and they acted fairly and consistently.”

The board members who opposed the Islamic Center said they did so on technical grounds. Opponents noted that although county staff recommended approval, the pump-and-haul permits are designed for situations where no other option exists.

]]> 3, 24 Sep 2016 19:13:06 +0000
Maine’s flu season is off to its earliest start in at least 10 years Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:45:03 +0000 The flu has arrived early in Maine.

Flu season doesn’t officially begin until October, but the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention is already reporting four confirmed cases of the disease.

Two are Maine residents – one from Cumberland County, one from Hancock County. One is an international visitor tested in Androscoggin County, and one is an out-of-state resident tested in Cumberland County. None of those patients was hospitalized.

“It is coming,” state epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett said. “We are just trying to let people know the vaccine is now available. It’s the best way to protect yourself.”

Long-term data was not available from the CDC on Friday, but the start of the 2016 season is the earliest in at least a decade based on archived news releases and past media reports.

From 2006 through 2015, the state reported the first case of seasonal flu as early as October and as late as January. In both 2014 and 2015, that report noted five positive tests for the flu in the second week of October.

The CDC circulated a public health advisory this week warning about the early start to the flu season in Maine, but Bennett said Friday that it is not unusual to see small sporadic outbreaks during the month of September.

“The federal CDC is telling us there have been a number of localized influenza outbreaks around the United States so far, but activity is very low,” she said.

Bennett urged anyone older than 6 months to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. A flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective, she said.

Influenza – commonly known as the flu – is a contagious viral infection in the respiratory system. Different from a cold, the flu usually comes on suddenly and lasts for less than two weeks. Symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. To prevent its spread, public health officials recommend washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home from work if you feel sick.

The state CDC has not yet begun to publish the weekly surveillance reports that run from October to May each year – the typical flu season. Last year, Maine’s flu season peaked in March and was comparatively mild with 2,360 total cases. The previous year, the number was 4,239.

While many cases are mild, the disease can at times be fatal. The CDC data shows one child who had not been vaccinated died during the 2015-16 season.

Across the country, there were more than 45,000 positive flu tests last year. While the federal CDC also has not yet begun its weekly updates, it reported there have been 105 positive tests for the flu across the country in the last three weeks.

Dr. Stephen Sears, clinical adviser to the Maine Public Health Association, agreed Mainers shouldn’t wait to get their flu shots. In particular, he noted Maine’s preponderance of older people.

“As a group, when we get the flu, we get really sick and really miserable,” Sears said. “But when an older population gets the flu – and these are people who might have underlying illnesses that can be exacerbated by the flu – they’ll get into much more trouble.”

Vaccines for children also are essential, he said, because youngsters spread illnesses so readily at school and in their families. Sears said he couldn’t speak to the cases identified thus far in Maine, but he attributed the early reports to international travel and better technology for testing.

“The flu is a disease that is around the world,” Sears said. “In South America, for instance, this is their spring. That means it’s the ending of their winter, so they still could have the flu.”

Four different strains of the flu are expected this season, but the state’s advisory noted that the vaccine that is now being administered “is likely to offer good protection” against all four. Both Medicare and most private insurance pay for flu shots, which are widely available among physicians and pharmacies.

Laurie Martens, a physician’s assistant at InterMed in South Portland, is among the providers already offering vaccines for patients.

“It seems early, but we start vaccinating in September because we know the flu season can start at any point,” she said.

The flu vaccine is effective for the entire flu season.

While the flu arrived early, it’s too soon to tell if the virus will be more or less widespread than usual.

“How this will play itself out is still to come,” Sears said. “But what it really says is, get your flu shot now.”


]]> 13, 24 Sep 2016 17:47:05 +0000
Father of Scientology leader has contentious departure from church Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:29:12 +0000 LOS ANGELES — After leaving the Church of Scientology and its secretive international base in the desert, Ronald Miscavige Sr. settled into small-town life in Wisconsin, his 40-year ties to the religion cut once and for all.

Or so he thought, as he spent his time hawking exercise equipment online and playing trumpet with Dixieland bands in the Milwaukee area. His suburban tranquility was shattered in July 2013, when police told him that two private eyes had been watching his every move for months – and that the church, led by his son David Miscavige, was behind it.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever hit your thumb with a hammer, but when it happens you go numb: It takes a little while for the pain to set in,” the elder Miscavige said in an interview. “I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding.’ ”

Miscavige, 80, has chronicled his life before, during and after Scientology in a book, “Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige and Me.” It paints an unflattering portrait of his son and the church, and it echoes the views of other disaffected ex-members.

“David runs Scientology with an iron fist and, to my mind, it has become a cult, pure and simple,” he writes.


Miscavige’s book includes no blockbuster revelations, but it has evoked an unusually vehement response from the church, which has mounted an aggressively negative publicity campaign, including a website dedicated to discrediting him.

Dozens of testimonials and blog posts by Scientologists praise David Miscavige and lambaste his father for everything from his musicianship to his morals. He is cast as a liar and an opportunist, on the website and in a church lawyer’s letter to the Los Angeles Times.

“That is a father who is a despicable human being, simply trying to make a buck off of the good name, fame and kindness of his son,” attorney Monique Yingling wrote.

Miscavige said he expected the intensely personal criticism posted on the website.

“Clearly, all it is is a character assassination of me,” he said.

Other ex-members say the website is yet another example of the church’s long-standing efforts to dissuade current and former Scientologists from publicly discussing their experiences.

Ron Miscavige has been singled out for particularly harsh treatment because of his relationship to David, said Mike Rinder, once a top church official and now one of its staunchest critics. He said the elder Miscavige also has been targeted by an email campaign and negative online ads.

“This is stuff that is even beyond the normal smear tactics,” Rinder said.

Founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology has its own “study technology,” vocabulary and long-held secret story of Xenu, a soul-stealing galactic overlord. The church teaches that spiritual freedom – the state of “clear” – can be reached through one-on-one auditing, a form of counseling aided by a polygraph-like device called an e-meter and expensive training courses.

David Miscavige, 56, became the head of Scientology after Hubbard’s death in 1986. As chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center, he is the church’s ultimate authority and its ecclesiastical leader. He also is its most controversial living figure.

David and his three siblings were introduced to Scientology by their father, a musician and cookware salesman. At age 16 he left their home near Philadelphia to join the Sea Organization, Hubbard’s religious order.


In March 2012, Ron Miscavige and his second wife, Becky, drove off the base while pretending to run errands, and eventually wound up in Wisconsin.

Life there was unremarkable until July 2013, when West Allis police arrested private investigator Dwayne Powell on obstruction and prowling charges and found firearms and a homemade silencer in his rented SUV.

For more than a year, Powell told detectives, he and his son had followed Miscavige, eavesdropped on him and spied on his emails. They were paid $10,000 a week through an intermediary, he told police, explaining that David Miscavige was the “main client.”

Scientology attorneys dispute that account and last year said that David Miscavige had never spoken with Powell and had no connection to the surveillance of his father. They noted that they sometimes retained private investigators in “matters related to litigation” and have since acknowledged hiring Powell.

Church attorney Yingling said he was hired to follow the elder Miscavige but that it was for his own well-being and “out of concern that people with hostile intentions toward Scientology” would harass him.

“It would be naive to think that the father of the leader of a worldwide religion would not be at risk of harm from people inimical to Scientology,” she wrote.

Yingling also forwarded a signed declaration from Powell, recanting his statements to police about the phone call from David Miscavige.

Police in that Milwaukee suburb stand by their account: “There is no confusion in the statements that were made by Dwayne and Daniel Powell,” Chief Patrick Mitchell said in an email.

Now, in the latest twist in the saga of church-sanctioned surveillance, Powell says he was paid thousands of dollars to sign the declaration after church attorneys summoned him to a meeting last year in Atlanta.

“The whole meeting took less than 10 minutes,” he said. “They said, ‘This is what this is, and this is what it’s for. Goodbye and good luck.’ ”

He furnished no documentation, and Scientology attorneys deny that any such payment was made.

]]> 1, 24 Sep 2016 19:14:20 +0000
Vatican issues new rules to assess when healings qualify as miracles Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:27:47 +0000 VATICAN CITY – The Vatican issued new rules Friday for the process to determine if healings qualify as miracles for sainthood, including safeguards against possible financial abuses.

The rules deal with how a panel of medical experts scrutinizes potential miracles. Pope Francis has expressed determination to ensure the sainthood process, which attracts donations by faithful for canonization candidates, is rigorous and avoids scandals.

Among the new regulations, one stipulates a potential miracle can no longer be presented for consideration if it fails to pass before the board of medical experts three times.

Another rule says experts can only be paid via bank transfer, no longer in cash. Francis demanded more accountability after it was revealed in two books by Italian journalists that the saint-making process has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations per candidate with virtually no financial oversight.

The rules state that those dealing with a “presumed miracle,” including experts as well as postulators — those championing the candidate for sainthood — are held to secrecy. In addition, the medical experts cannot have any contact with the postulator of the cause for sainthood.

At the start of a session to evaluate the potential miracle, the medical “experts are obliged, with an oath, to examine the case according to science and conscience and to observe the secrecy” rules, the regulations state.

Noted Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, an official of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes for Saints, said that ultimately it’s the pontiff “who has the exclusive competence of recognizing an extraordinary event as a true miracle.”

As for presumed miracles involving phenomena such as “danger avoided,” the Congregation will select technical experts. The rule didn’t specify the “danger,” such as if it might refer to an escape from some natural calamity.

]]> 2 Sat, 24 Sep 2016 19:15:15 +0000
FBI is ‘continuing to gather facts’ about alleged incident involving Pitt, his children Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:18:05 +0000 As murky rumors continue to swirl around the sudden split of Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the FBI has confirmed that it is gathering information surrounding an alleged incident involving Pitt and his children aboard a private plane Sept. 14 – the day before the couple officially separated.

“The FBI is continuing to gather facts and will evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level will be pursued,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told The Washington Post. She declined to comment on how the FBI was notified of the alleged incident – because it occurred on a plane, it falls under the FBI’s “special aircraft jurisdiction.”

But beyond this confirmation, the details about what – if anything – happened seem far from clear. In her divorce filing Monday, Jolie Pitt cited only “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split, and listed Sept. 15 as the date of the couple’s separation. Her attorney later said in a statement that her decision to divorce was made “for the health of the family.”

TMZ was first to report on the episode that allegedly occurred during a private flight last week – offering vivid details and citing anonymous sources. TMZ stated that the incident was reported anonymously to authorities by a witness who was either on the plane or at the airport where it landed in Minnesota.

But those allegations have not been confirmed by any official on the record. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times cited an unnamed law enforcement source who claimed the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Families was investigating Pitt; but the department itself has consistently declined to confirm whether or not an investigation is underway, citing confidentiality protocols.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Police Department has forcefully denied claims that it was investigating any complaint against Pitt: “LAPD is not handling any reports or allegations into child abuse for Mr. Pitt,” spokeswoman Jenny Houser told the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities in Minnesota confirmed that Pitt was on a plane that landed in International Falls, but said that law enforcement was not notified of any problem on the flight and was not called to the airport.

“There’s no incident whatsoever reported to law enforcement,” Koochiching County, Minnesota, Sheriff Perryn Hedlund told The Associated Press.

In her divorce filing, Jolie is seeking sole physical custody and joint legal custody of the couple’s six children: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne. Jolie and Pitt, who first became a couple in 2005, were married at a French chateau in 2014.

In brief public statements, both actors have said that their primary concern is for their children, and have asked for privacy as their divorce unfolds.

]]> 3 Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:30:31 +0000 weekend weather Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:31:15 +0000 0, 23 Sep 2016 11:31:15 +0000 Large snake reported in Vienna, dispatcher says Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:04:34 +0000 Another big snake in Maine? Maybe.

First there was “Wessie,” sighted in Westbrook this summer, thought to be about 10 feet long and possibly an anaconda, which isn’t native to the United States.

Then on Thursday, someone reported sighting a large snake in Vienna, a dispatcher at the Augusta Regional Communications Center said.

Game Warden Chris McCabe of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was sent to investigate, the dispatcher said, but she could offer no other information.

Police radio traffic indicated that the snake may have been about 5 feet long, and red and tan.

McCabe did not immediately return a call Thursday for more information. Cpl. John MacDonald, public relations and information officer at the wildlife department, said via email that he had not heard about it. Kennebec County Sheriff Ryan Reardon did not immediately return messages requesting details.

There are nine species and two sub-species of snakes in Maine, none of them venomous and one considered endangered.

Westbrook police said Aug. 20 that a large snake skin was found near a boat launch in Riverbank Park along the Presumpscot River, suggesting that a large snake nicknamed Wessie, first spotted earlier in the summer, had stayed in the area.

Riverbank Park is where two police officers reported in late June that they saw a snake, estimated to be 10 feet long, eating what appeared to be a beaver.


]]> 7 Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:54:46 +0000
Exhibit exploring Portland-Iceland connection will hang in a shipping container Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:46:22 +0000 0, 22 Sep 2016 22:47:22 +0000 Musicals, improv comedy, movies and more: Things to do in Maine this weekend Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:35:07 +0000 0, 22 Sep 2016 22:35:26 +0000 Local food production, hop growing on tap at Common Ground Country Fair Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:31:50 +0000 UNITY — Three keynote speakers at this year’s Common Ground Country Fair are expected to address local food production and how communities can feed themselves.

The fair, in its 40th year, focuses on sustainability and organic agriculture. It is expected to draw about 60,000 people to the grounds of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association over three days. The fair opens at 9 a.m. Friday and runs through 5 p.m. Sunday.

“There are a lot of different educational opportunities to plug in and ways to get connected so usually everyone finds something whether it’s small scale or large scale,” fair director April Boucher said Thursday. “We have some really amazing speakers lined up.”

Friday’s keynote speaker is Will Allen, farmer, founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a nonprofit urban farm in Milwaukee employing young people from neighboring housing projects and the surrounding community.

“He’s very well recognized,” Boucher said. “He works with urban gardens, underprivileged youth and helping to fight racism.”

On Saturday, the incoming president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust, Amanda Beal, will speak on how local food capacity in New England can be increased and what needs to be done to reach a goal of producing at least 50 percent of the region’s food locally by 2060.

“It’s just an amazing thing and something that we really all aspire to is to be feeding ourselves more,” Boucher said.

Sunday’s keynote is Michael Abelman, co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms, an agricultural project in British Columbia that aims to provide low-income residents with jobs and access to local, healthy food.

“We definitely try to cover different ranges of people, and I think a lot of the interest we get is from people in urban areas,” Boucher said. “They see themselves surrounded by houses, and they have a small plot of land, but they’re looking for that connection, not only to their food but to the land.”

There will also be presentations on climate change, something Boucher said is on a lot of people’s minds given this year’s dry conditions.

On Saturday, there will be a public policy teach-in focused on local pesticide ordinances, a growing trend in Maine.

“Some of the larger applications of pesticides are home use, and that’s where the urban gardening may also come in to play too, with people turning those lawns into gardens,” she said.

Laura Ten Eyck, who runs a commercial hop farm in upstate New York, will speak Friday on small-scale hop growing and Saturday on large-scale hop growing.

“We’re trying to put something out there for everyone so everyone is enriched by the experience,” Boucher said.

]]> 0, 22 Sep 2016 22:52:05 +0000
Four actors playing nerdy types on CBS comedy ‘Big Bang Theory’ have highest pay in TV Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:17:56 +0000 NEW YORK — “The Big Bang Theory” does a bang-up job of making its stars rich.

The CBS comedy claims TV’s four best-paid actors, according to the annual list released Thursday by Forbes .

Jim Parsons led with a $25.5 million take between June 2015 and this June, Forbes said, followed by cast-mates Johnny Galecki ($24 million), Simon Helberg ($22.5 million) and Kunal Nayyar ($22 million).

In fifth place: Mark Harmon, star of CBS’ drama “NCIS,” was paid $20 million.

Forbes’ list of TV actresses reaffirms the generous salaries for “Big Bang” stars: Leading lady, Kaley Cuoco placed second on that list, with $24.5 million.

In that top spot: ABC’s “Modern Family” bombshell Sofia Vergara, with $43 million.

]]> 0, 22 Sep 2016 20:35:30 +0000
J. Geils charged with drunk driving in Massachusetts Thu, 22 Sep 2016 22:31:03 +0000 CONCORD, Mass. — The founder and namesake of The J. Geils Band is facing drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.

Police said John Warren Geils Jr. was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and failing to stop at a sign after a crash in Concord about 1 p.m. Tuesday. No one was hurt.

Geils was the lead guitarist of the band, which was founded in the late 1960s but reached its pinnacle in the 1980s with the hit songs “Love Stinks,” “Freeze-Frame” and “Centerfold.”

The Sun of Lowell reported that the 70-year-old Geils, of nearby Groton, was released on personal recognizance.

Geils’ lawyer tells The Boston Globe that his client disputes the facts of the case and plans to “vigorously defend himself.”

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Model Gigi Hadid says ex-reporter was no fan Thu, 22 Sep 2016 22:19:38 +0000 MILAN — This was already Gigi Hadid’s season.

She drew crowds outside the Max Mara shop on opening day of Milan Fashion Week, and indulged fans with selfies.

Then she opened and closed the Max Mara show on the second day of womenswear previews for next spring and summer Thursday, and took top billing at Fendi.

But in between, things took an ugly turn when a former Ukrainian television reporter grabbed her from behind and picked her up in the air as she left the Max Mara venue. Video posted on the website TMZ shows her wriggling free and confronting the assailant, who ran away.

In an email, Vitalii Sediuk confirmed that he had lifted Hadid off the ground, saying it was a form of protest against the use of celebrity models. He has pulled similar pranks before, targeting Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt and America Ferrera, once landing in a Los Angeles jail for two days.

According to the Huffington Post, one of Sediuk’s most notorious pranks occurred in 2014, when he accosted Pitt at the premiere of “Maleficent” by charging at the actor and burying his face in Pitt’s crotch. The Post reported that Hadid expressed frustration that some news reports called Sediuk a “fan” and described Hadid’s response as “aggressive.”

“I’m a HUMAN BEING and had EVERY RIGHT to defend myself,” the Post quoted her as writing. “How dare that idiot think he has the right to man-handle a complete stranger.”

Police in Milan said they had no immediate indication a formal complaint had been filed.

Despite the disruption, Hadid appeared in perfect form on the Fendi runway hours later.

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Get out to the grandstand; the fair necessities won’t come to you Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:26:36 +0000 0, 22 Sep 2016 11:26:36 +0000