Life & Culture – Press Herald Sun, 25 Mar 2018 01:33:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New York City opera will feature a chorus of Iowa inmates Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:08:33 +0000 Inmates from an eastern Iowa prison have spent weeks learning German and perfecting inflections for a recording that will be played during a New York City opera performance of Beethoven’s “Fidelio.”

Heartbeat Opera invited the Oakdale Community Choir of the Iowa Medical and Classification Center to perform the “Prisoner’s Chorus” for its live production in May.

Production Director Ethan Heard traveled to the medium-security prison in Coralville on Wednesday to record the choir of 40 inmates and 30 community members for a pivotal scene.

]]> 0 Sat, 24 Mar 2018 16:24:23 +0000
Maine maple producers gearing up for Maine Maple Sunday Sat, 24 Mar 2018 13:08:06 +0000 WINSLOW, Maine – Mainers are getting an early taste of the state’s official sweetener the day before they celebrate it statewide.

Sunday is Maine’s annual Maple Syrup Sunday, but many of the participating sugarhouses are also open on Saturday. The Maine Maple Producers Association promotes the syrup-filled weekend every year to allow the public to learn how the product is made.

Events are planned all over the state on both days. Sugarhouses that are hosting events on Saturday stretch from Wells in southern Maine to Woodland near the Canadian border. Many facilities will also have free samples.

]]> 0 large crowd lines up to visit Cooper's Maple Products in Windham on Maine Maple Sunday. In top photo, maple syrup is for sale at Dunn Family Farm in Buxton on Maine Maple Sunday.Sat, 24 Mar 2018 19:29:56 +0000
On this first weekend of spring, we give you events to take you through the season Sat, 24 Mar 2018 03:11:52 +0000 0, 23 Mar 2018 23:12:19 +0000 Chris Evans may be done with Captain America Sat, 24 Mar 2018 03:01:40 +0000 NEW YORK — The actor who plays Captain America may be ready to hang up his shield.

Chris Evans tells The New York Times he has no plans to return to the Marvel movie franchise after reshoots of the fourth “Avengers” movie later this year.

Evans says “you want to get off the train before they push you off.”

The movie has yet to be titled and is expected to be released in 2019.

Evans has played the role since “Captain America: The First Avenger” in 2011.

The actor is making his Broadway debut as a police officer in “Lobby Hero,” which is scheduled to open March 26.

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:01:40 +0000
Jann Wenner sees ‘a bit of a witch hunt’ in #MeToo Sat, 24 Mar 2018 03:01:12 +0000 NEW YORK — Jann Wenner feels the #MeToo movement shows a “real absence of due process.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, the Rolling Stone publisher said he feels that mere accusations of sexual impropriety are threatening careers, many times without corroboration, with people losing their jobs over “some of the most harmless (expletive) things.”

“Honestly, I do believe it’s a bit of witch hunt,” Wenner said in a recent interview. “It’s difficult to get due process because there’s no real place to adjudicate it except in court, which takes forever.”

The 72-year old Wenner speaks from experience, after a former Rolling Stone employee came forward last year, claiming the media mogul sexually assaulted him in 1983.

Wenner doesn’t deny something happened between him and his accuser.

“There’s some truth to it, but it does not fit any illegal, immoral or unethical, or go in any way that direction,” Wenner said.

“All you can say is no, not me too, and wait,” he added.

He also sees violent sexual assault happening on college campuses as being a bigger problem.

“This is student-to-student rape. It’s different than being harassed on the job or having your butt pinched or whatever you’re complaining about. This is a physical violence,” Wenner said.

]]> 0 Stone founder Jann Wenner says accusations of sexual impropriety are threatening careers, many times without corroboration.Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:01:12 +0000
Reflections: All spiritual traditions give us ways to feel, share God’s love Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:18:02 +0000 Around 2008, a young woman joined our community. I’m a minister in a Hindu spiritual tradition from North India called Kashmir Shaivism. You’ve heard of it, right? Just kidding.

Anyway, this young woman, let’s call her Rosa, taught yoga for a living. She had a husband and a delightful toddler. Along with the yoga came a slate of progressive social and political positions and a resolute rejection of her Latin-American Catholic upbringing.

Rosa’s marriage was on the rocks. She was regularly mean to her husband and used rage and disparagement to control him. They had little to no sex life. When she wasn’t hating her husband, she was hating herself. Despite the yoga, her life was regularly disturbed by intense, chaotic emotions.

I knew Rosa for a couple of years before she underwent a startling conversion to fundamentalist Christianity.

It happened while she was visiting a cousin who had already been reborn. At the time, Rosa was desperately unhappy, so unhappy that she was willing to try anything, including reading Christian scripture with her cousin. In the past, she’d always vigorously refused to do this.

To her surprise, some of the things she and her cousin read together made sense. On the long train ride home, Rosa prayed fervently to Jesus. She prayed for help. She prayed for rebirth.

And help came. As Rosa related the experience to me, she felt God’s love pouring into her, and feeling God’s love helped her to finally love herself.

After this, Rosa’s life began to improve. She was kinder to her husband. They resumed normal relations. She felt much happier, and she started to look for a fundamentalist church. I encouraged her.

I’ve spent the last 35 years meditating, chanting mantras and waving incense in front of Hindu deities. Politically, I’m leftish of progressive. Although I view Jesus as a great spiritual personage, I have never been Christian.

My guru, the 20th-century Bengali saint Anandamayi Ma, taught that all religions and spiritual traditions are made by God for our benefit. She taught that all paths, if walked with sincerity, can help us to discover wisdom and grace. These are lessons that I have absorbed deeply.

The best religion or spiritual tradition is the one that helps you. It’s the one that helps you to relax and feel God’s grace. It’s the one that helps you to learn what you need to learn, starting from whatever condition you are actually in.

The best religion is one that meets you where you really live. And every religion is that for someone.

My former student needed to be saved. Jesus saved her. This is a victory as far as I am concerned.

I have never wanted to be saved. Mine is a different path. But I’m grateful that spiritual help is available in so many forms, as many forms as there are different kinds of people with their differing longings and needs.

For me, the glory of God shines brighter because there are so many traditions. I feel God’s mercy in this.

Many of us want to believe that we are on a better path than others. Some traditions even encourage us to adopt this attitude. But when we disparage or discount other people’s spiritual traditions simply because they are culturally different, or hold different beliefs and teach different practices, we are the losers.

What do we lose? Paradoxically, we lose opportunities to deepen our own appreciation for the divine.

God is great. Much greater than our ideas about God. And in the wildly diverse patchwork of human traditions, we can experience direct manifestations of God’s compassion being expressed everywhere for our benefit.

With so many traditions speaking to the infinite variety of human conditions, we are all winners.

Shambhavi Sarasvati serves as the spiritual director of Jaya Kula in Portland. She is the author of five books about spiritual life. Jaya Kula is a vibrant nonprofit community of diverse people learning and practicing in the traditions of Kashmir Shaivism and Dzogchen. Visit for more information.

]]> 0 Fri, 23 Mar 2018 21:50:37 +0000
United gives $10,000 travel voucher to ‘bumped’ passenger Fri, 23 Mar 2018 19:57:54 +0000 A passenger who was bumped off a full flight has scored the maximum prize — a $10,000 travel voucher.

A spokesman for United Airlines confirmed Friday that a passenger got the big voucher, but he didn’t name the person.

In a series of tweets, Allison Preiss of Washington, D.C., says she was rewarded after being asked to give up her seat.

Preiss says she was trying to fly from Dulles Airport outside Washington to Austin, Texas, for a bachelorette party. A broken seat meant the airline had one too many passengers, but nobody volunteered to leave so United picked her because she was the lowest-paying passenger.

Preiss tweets that an employee offered a $2,000 voucher but she wanted cash. Then a United agent offered a $10,000 voucher.

]]> 0 check in at the United Airlines ticket counter at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, where a passenger who refused to give up his seat because of overbooking was dragged off the plane by police Sunday.Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:00:24 +0000
Wanted: Dog drool for study that could illuminate human mental health Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:11:29 +0000 Dogs were the first animals people domesticated, long before the earliest human civilizations appeared. Today, tens of thousands of years later, dogs have an unusually close relationship with us. They share our homes and steal our hearts – and have even evolved to love us back. Sadly, they also suffer from many of the same difficult-to-treat psychiatric and neurological diseases we do.

I learned this firsthand about six years ago, when my sister Adria adopted Beskow, a beautiful, boisterous, black and white mutt. Beskow became my constant companion on my morning runs along the Charles River. Her joy in running was obvious to everyone we passed, and she kept me going mile after mile.

When not running, though, Beskow suffered from constant anxiety that left her stressed and unhappy – on edge around other dogs and prone to aggressive behavior. Beskow had trouble even playing outdoors, since she was compelled to attend to every sound and movement. Working one-on-one with skilled behaviorists and trainers helped immensely, but poor Beskow still never seemed able to relax. Eventually, Adria combined the intensive training with medication, which finally seemed to give Beskow some relief.

Beskow’s personality – her intelligence, her focus and her anxiety – was shaped not only by her own life experiences, but by thousands of years of evolution. Have you ever known a dog who would retrieve the same ball over and over again, for hours on end? Or just wouldn’t stay out of the water? Or wasn’t interested in balls, or water, but just wanted to follow her nose? These dogs are the result of hundreds of generations of artificial selection by human beings. By favoring useful behaviors when breeding dogs, we made the genetic changes responsible more common in their gene pool.

When a particular genetic change rapidly rises in prevalence in a population, it leaves a “signature of selection” that we can detect by sequencing the DNA of many individuals from the population. Essentially, around a selected gene, we find a region of the genome where one particular pattern of DNA – the variant linked to the favored version of the gene – is far more common than any of the alternative patterns. The stronger the selection, the bigger this region, and the easier it is to detect this signature of selection.

In dogs, genes shaping behaviors purposely bred by humans are marked with large signatures of selection. It’s a bit like evolution is shining a spotlight on parts of the dog genome and saying, “Look here for interesting stuff!” To figure out exactly how a particular gene influences a dog’s behavior or health, though, we need lots more information.

To try to unravel these connections, my colleagues and I are launching a new citizen science research project we’re calling Darwin’s Dogs. Together with animal behavior experts, we’ve put together a series of short surveys about everything from diet (does your dog eat grass?) to behavior (is your dog a foot sitter?) to personality (is your dog aloof or friendly?).

Any dog can participate in Darwin’s Dogs, including purebred dogs, mixed breed dogs, and mutts of no particular breed – our study’s participants will be very genetically diverse. We’re combining new DNA sequencing technology, which can give us much more genetic information from each dog, with powerful new analysis methods that can control for diverse ancestry. By including all dogs, we hope to be able to do much larger studies, and home in quickly on the important genes and genetic variants.

Once an owner has filled out the survey, there’s a second, crucial step. We send an easy-to-use kit to collect a small dog saliva sample we can use for DNA analysis. There’s no cost, and we’ll share any information we find.

Our plan is to combine the genetic data from many dogs and look for changes in DNA that correlate with particular behaviors. It won’t be easy to match up DNA with an obsession with tennis balls, for instance. Behavior is a complex trait that relies on many genes. Simple Mendelian traits, like Beskow’s black and white coat, are controlled by a single gene which determines the observable characteristic. This kind of inherited trait is comparatively easy to map. Complex traits, on the other hand, may be shaped by tens or even hundreds of different genetic changes, each of which on its own only slightly alters the individual carrying it.

Adding to the complexity, environment often plays a big role. For example, Beskow may not have been as anxious if she’d lived with Adria from puppyhood, even though her genetics would be unchanged.

To succeed, we need a lot of dogs to sign up. Initially, we’re aiming to enroll 5,000 dogs. If successful, we’ll keep growing. With bigger sample sizes, we’ll be able to tackle even more complex biological puzzles.

This is a huge effort, but could offer huge rewards. By figuring out how a genetic change leads to a change in behavior, we can decipher neural pathways involved in psychiatric and neurological diseases shared between people and dogs. We already know these include not just anxiety, but also PTSD, OCD, autism spectrum disorders, phobias, narcolepsia, epilepsy, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Understanding the biology underlying a disease is the first step in developing more effective treatments – of both the canine and human variety. For example, genetic studies of narcolepsy in Doberman pinschers found the gene mutation causing the disease – but only in this one dog population. Researching the gene’s function, though, led to critical new insights into the molecular biology of sleep, and, eventually, to new treatment options for people suffering from this debilitating disease.

Darwin’s Dogs is investigating normal canine behaviors as well as diseases. We hypothesize that finding the small genetic changes that led to complex behaviors, like retrieving, or even personality characteristics, like playfulness, will help us figure out how brains work. We need this mechanistic understanding to design new, safe and more effective therapies for psychiatric diseases.

And Beskow? Six years later, she is as wonderful as ever. While still anxious some of the time, the medication and training have paid off, and she enjoys her daily walks, training and playtime. She still gets very nervous around other dogs, but is a gentle, playful companion for my sister’s three young children.

We are now sequencing her genome. In the next few months, we should have our first glimpse into Beskow’s ancestry. We know she is a natural herder, so we’re curious to find out how much her genome matches up to herding breeds, and which genes are in that part of the genome.

Of course, we can’t figure out much from just one dog – if you are a dog owner, please enroll your dog today!

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article, which includes links to other information, here.

]]> 0, 23 Mar 2018 16:59:18 +0000
‘Roseanne’ revival, debuting Tuesday, will be set in Trump era Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:40:55 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Roseanne Barr looks more glamorous, John Goodman slimmer. But the mass-market plaid couch is a giveaway that ABC’s “Roseanne” revival hasn’t ditched its roots.

The blue-collar Conner family and the times in which they live are at the heart of the sitcom debuting at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday, as they were for the hit 1988-97 sitcom inspired by Barr’s stand-up comedy.

The prospect of updating “Roseanne” was exciting “as long as we were permitted to tell relevant and authentic stories,” said Tom Werner, a producer for both shows.

That focus, noteworthy in the ’80s when the show entered a relatively small TV universe, is still rare despite the swarm of broadcast, cable and streaming shows.

The 2016 presidential campaign “was a wake-up call in that there were a large group of voters who were frustrated with the status quo” and being sidelined by the economy, Werner said. “What we’re interested in doing is just telling honest stories about a family that’s up against it.”

In “Roseanne,” it’s up to matriarch Roseanne, a supporter of President Trump, and her sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), a hard-core opponent, to handle the political jousting.

“He talked about jobs” and shaking things up, Roseanne says of Trump in one scene. “I know this may come as a shock to you, but we almost lost our house because of the way things were going.”

“Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse,” Jackie retorts.

“Not on the real news,” Roseanne says.

]]> 0 Barr and John Goodman appear in a scene from the reboot of "Roseanne," premiering on Tuesday.Thu, 22 Mar 2018 21:23:42 +0000
Tiny skeleton in Chile may resemble alien, but genes tell different story Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:13:31 +0000 The Atacama skeleton, or Ata, named after the Chilean desert where the remains were found, has 10 pairs of ribs. The average person has 12. Ata’s skull narrows to a ridged peak. Her bones are as calcified as those of a child between the ages of 6 and 8. Yet her skeleton’s apparent age is at odds with her size. If Ata ever stood, she stood 6 inches high, barely tall enough to peek over a spring crocus.

Her features attracted UFO hunters and extraterrestrial investigators, who suspected her bones might represent something remarkable. Ata is indeed remarkable. And she is human, according to the story told by her genes, which was published Thursday in the journal Genome Research.

“We were able to look at all the mutations that were in this individual,” said Stanford University geneticist Garry Nolan, an author of the new report. “And everybody is born with mutations. This person just happened to roll snake eyes.”

In 2013, Nolan revealed what he called a draft of her genome, which, though it had gaps, confirmed that Ata had human DNA. The new work presents her whole genome, including her unusual mutations.

Ata’s story started in northern Chile, one of the world’s driest regions. The Atacama links Earth to the heavens. On its high plateau, NASA tests Mars rovers, driving them across parched terrain that role-plays as the Red Planet. The sky rarely musters a cloud, giving a horde of giant telescopes an unblemished view of the stars at night. The desert is the future home of the world’s largest optical telescope, named the European Extremely Large Telescope, and where construction began last year.

And it was in this desert, near a church in an abandoned village, where a man reportedly found Ata’s remains in 2003. The collector who now owns the skeleton purchased Ata from an archaeological black market, Nolan said. Ata’s skeleton is kept in a secure location in Spain, according to Steven Greer, a retired emergency room physician who advocates for government disclosure of UFO sightings.

Greer first met Ata’s owner at a Spanish ufology conference in 2009. (People who study UFOs use the term ufology to make their pursuits sound more scientific.) The collector, after some persuading, allowed Greer to extract a small pip of bone marrow from one of her ribs. When Greer held Ata, he marveled at her size: She is so small her skeleton fit in the palm of his hand, he said. In 2013, Greer co-produced a documentary, “Sirius,” which unveiled Nolan’s initial genetic research.

Nolan was not alone in his investigation. The Stanford scientist enlisted experts from a variety of fields, including specialists who study ancient DNA. Ata, though desiccated by the super-dry Atacama, is no ancient mummy. Over centuries, DNA breaks into fragments. But the genetic material in her body is too complete to be older than a few decades, he said.

Nolan tapped Ralph Lachman, a pediatric radiologist at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, to analyze the skeleton’s X-rays. The physician, Nolan said, is the “world’s expert in bone disorders.” Based on features such as growth around the bones’ knuckles, the skeleton appears to be as developed as that of a 6-year-old’s. But, to be clear, Lachman never argued Ata died in the midst of childhood, Nolan said. “He said the bones make it look like it’s 6 years old,” Nolan said.

Comparing Ata’s genome to the genomes of a chimpanzee and monkey ruled out a nonhuman origin. Her ancestors were South American, and most possibly Chilean. The scientists found no suggestion of a Y chromosome in her genetic package, confirming that she was female.

The new study uses a giant database of what Nolan called “phenotype-genetic correlations.” An individual’s phenotype is the collection of his or her characteristics, including height, eye color and earwax wetness. Genes, as well as the environment, influence a phenotype. Of her billions of nucleotides, which are the single bricks that make up her genes, the authors identified 3 million variations.

This massive database is similar in concept to a social network mined by a research firm, Nolan said. If Cambridge Analytica collects enough of your likes and dislikes, it can predict your political preferences. Likewise, with enough genes, researchers can predict which individuals will have similar phenotypes. In many cases, Ata’s genes matched individuals with bone disorders. She did not have an unusual number of mutations, Nolan said. What was exceptional was where they were concentrated.

“This is a super rare human phenotype,” said co-author Sanchita Bhattacharya, a bioinformatics researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. Ata is one of the rarest “we have ever observed, being only 6 inches and having this advanced bone age.”

USCF biomedicine professor Atul Butte, who created the database, said Ata had 64 unusual mutations linked to the skeletal system. Among these, the scientists found two variants new to the scientific literature that code for an abundant structural protein called collagen, as important to our bones as steel to a skyscraper.

All told, the story in her genes is tragic. “Given multiple mutations identified in this specimen one could speculate it didn’t survive long,” Bhattacharya said, even if she was born alive.

Given her origin, one could imagine, Nolan said, a distraught mother bringing her infant to a priest. “It was found, supposedly, in a house next to a church, which to me says rectory,” he said. The body was positioned as if lying in state, arms to the side. “And then time goes by,” he speculated, “and it gets forgotten or the priest dies.”

Nolan said he does not blame the owner for wanting to study Ata. After all, it took a team of 10 scientists five years to figure out what she is. Nor did he regret his study, and his investment of what he estimated to be $50,000 in funds and a quarter-million dollars’ worth of time.

“Now we know that there’s something about this particular set of genes that leads to rapid bone growth,” he said. He envisioned using this knowledge to influence stem cells and cartilage, healing bones quicker, and correctly. “To me, that’s the beauty of basic science,” he said.

But, Nolan said, he hopes Ata’s story ends in the place where it started: “Maybe this thing needs to be returned to Chile. Maybe it needs to be given the burial it deserves.”

]]> 0 Atacama skeleton, or Ata, named after the Chilean desert where the remains were found, has 10 pairs of ribs.Thu, 22 Mar 2018 21:19:42 +0000
‘N Sync will reunite to earn star on Walk of Fame Thu, 22 Mar 2018 21:40:00 +0000 NEW YORK — ‘N Sync is finally reuniting – but not for new music or a tour.

The boy band will earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 30. Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpartrick will attend the event.

‘N Sync released its self-titled debut album in the United States in 1998. The group’s hits include “Bye, Bye, Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Pop.”

The fivesome famously reunited at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, where Timberlake received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

Walk of Fame honorees or their sponsors must pay $40,000 for each star granted.

]]> 0, 22 Mar 2018 21:24:27 +0000
Fed up with Facebook? Here’s how to break up with it Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:43:40 +0000 NEW YORK – Fed up with Facebook? You’re not alone. A growing number of people are deleting it, or at least wrestling with whether they should, in light of its latest privacy debacle – allegations that a Trump-linked data-mining firm stole information on tens of millions of users to influence elections.

Even before that, users have considered dumping Facebook after growing tired of political disagreements with friends and relatives. And studies have shown that the mindless scrolling that Facebook is so good for can leave us feeling depressed.

While Facebook has tried to address some of these problems, it’s not enough for some users. If you are one of them, there are options. Hard as it might seem to quit, especially for those entwined with it for years, it can be done.



Before deleting your account, rescue your posts and photos. Facebook lets you download the data you’ve shared with Facebook since you joined. This includes your posts and photos, as well as the “activity log” – the history of everything you’ve done on Facebook, such as likes and comments on posts, use of apps and searches. The download also contains your profile, messages, list of friends, ads you’ve clicked on and IP addresses you’ve used to connect to Facebook.

This process should give you a good – perhaps scary – idea of what Facebook has on you.

What you won’t get are photos other people shared with you, even if you’ve been tagged. You need to save those individually. And some stuff will remain, including what others have posted about you, your chats with others and your posts in Facebook groups (though your name will be grayed out). To delete all this, you’ll need to sift through your “activity log,” accessible through your profile page, and delete each item individually.

Once you’ve saved everything and gone through your activity log, sign in one last time. Go to the Delete My Account page and click on the blue button. You can’t get that from the settings page, as Facebook, it may seem, doesn’t want you to leave. Facebook says the process could take a few days. Your delete request will be cancelled if you log back in during this time. Facebook says it may take up to 90 days for all the data associated with your account to be wiped, but you can’t change your mind after the first few days are up.

If you used your Facebook account for third-party apps and sites, you’ll need new usernames and passwords for each.


If you’re not quite ready for a divorce, deactivating your account is an option. To do this, go to your account settings.

Deactivating means other people won’t be able to see your profile, but if you log back in, the whole thing is canceled and you are “active” again. Ditto if you log into an outside app or site using your Facebook account.


Depending on whether you were a full-time Facebook addict or an occasional lurker, the psychological separation could prove harder or easier than the physical one. Facebook has become a one-stop shop for so many things. You can keep up with friends and family, find out about or create local events, buy and sell stuff, keep up with the news, raise money for a cause or join groups of like-minded people such as parents, porch gardeners and people with a rare disease.

There are other places to do many of these things, though likely not all at once. There’s Eventbrite for events, Letgo for buying and selling stuff, Peanut for moms to connect, Meetup to find and meet like-minded people, GoFundMe for raising money and Twitter, or, gasp, your local newspaper’s website for the news.

If you find your mind wandering back to Facebook as you go through your day, thinking how you might craft a post about a thought you’ve just had or an article you came across, it’s OK. Let it go. It’s all part of the breakup process.

And while you may not see updates about near-forgotten schoolmates or that random person you met six years ago, the people who matter most will stick around. For them, there’s email, the phone, and meeting in person for coffee.


If your boycott of Facebook has more to do with your view of the company than with tiring of the Facebook service, you might consider deleting Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger as well – they are all owned by Facebook. Deleting your Facebook account won’t affect your Instagram or WhatsApp account. If you want to keep using Messenger, you can create an account using your phone number instead of your Facebook profile.

]]> 0, 22 Mar 2018 11:51:23 +0000
Fewer tourists are visiting the U.S. under Trump. Canadians didn’t get the memo. Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:04:17 +0000 TORONTO – When President Donald Trump issued his first executive order banning nationals from majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, some Canadians reacted by vowing to boycott traveling south of the border.

Within days, Canadians of all stripes – academics, school board superintendents, thriller writers, even Girl Scouts – followed through with those pledges, abruptly canceling trips to the United States.

Travel and tourism officials feared the ban would dent America’s image as a foreigner-friendly country and lead to a “Trump slump,” dealing a blow to an industry that had only just recovered from a $600 billion loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and 2010, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

There has been a slump. While international tourism arrivals worldwide increased 7 percent in 2017 – a seven-year high – the United States is missing out on that boom, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization. Data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office show international arrivals to the United States fell 3.8 percent during the first three quarters of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.

Travel to the United States from every region of the world is declining, but one country is bucking the trend: Canada.

Despite the frantic calls for boycotts, overnight trips from Canada rose 4.8 percent to 20.2 million in 2017, reversing a three-year decline, according to Statistics Canada.

Experts say the factor that has traditionally had the strongest influence on the travel habits of globe-trotting Canadians is the relative value of their currency, making it possible that the weakening U.S. dollar is providing an incentive for their cross-border travel.

But many remain puzzled because the U.S. dollar slumped against a number of currencies in 2017, like the euro, and there has been no increase in travel to the United States from Europe.

“It is difficult for us to pinpoint exactly why the Canadian arrival data has diverged from the rest of the world,” said Seth Borko, a senior research analyst with Skift, a travel market research and industry intelligence company. Proximity and ease of travel between the two countries may also be driving the trend, he said.

Concern abounded in the wake of the entry ban that Canadians were cooling on U.S. destinations – so much so that some American tourism officials traveled to Canada multiple times in an unprecedented effort to combat the rhetoric coming from the White House.

“It’s rare that we go up to Canada and do two events in the same year,” said Chris Heywood, the senior vice president of global communications with NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism organization. “But last year was one of those years.”

Matt Noble, the president of EF Educational Tours Canada, a travel company that organizes trips for students, said that he expects annual growth in trips to U.S. destinations to hit double-digit percentages in 2019.

“While we are definitely fielding more questions about how the experience of crossing the border might be changing with new regulations, we are not seeing any meaningful decline in demand for our U.S. itineraries,” he said.

After the entry ban was announced, the Girl Guides – the Canadian counterparts of the Girl Scouts – called off all trips to the United States indefinitely, citing a “commitment to inclusivity.” A number of Canadian school boards, authors and academics did the same.

“I refused to enter apartheid South Africa, too,” Jen Marchbank, a professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia told the Toronto Star. “I see little difference between the U.S. today and apartheid South Africa in terms of ethics and morals.”

The Girl Guides still prohibit U.S.-bound travel. Last month, the Toronto District School Board – Canada’s largest school board – slightly eased restrictions on student travel to the United States to allow it for professional development and academic competitions, after students complained that they were missing out on events that would bolster their college applications.

Travel and tourism officials are careful not to lay the blame for the slump in travel to the United States on Trump’s entry ban or on any of the policies his administration has advanced to toughen border security or immigration law. They point out that while the decline in international visits accelerated in 2017, it began in 2015, and note that the strength of the American dollar in the first half of 2017 made the country less affordable for some travelers.

Tourism is America’s second-largest export and a $1.54 trillion a year industry. The drop in international arrivals to U.S. destinations translated to $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs in November 2017, compared with the year before, according to research from the U.S. Travel Association.

It announced earlier this year that a collection of industry groups including the National Restaurant Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce were banding together to form the Visit U.S. Coalition in an attempt to reverse the downward trend.

]]> 0 Photo by John Patriquin, Friday, August 9, 2002: Many businesses in Ocean Park cater to Canadian tourists as shown by these flags flying at the Webfoot Inn in Ocean Park in OOB.Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:10:27 +0000
Ogunquit guitarist’s cover of ‘Walk This Way’ wins Aerosmith’s attention Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:24:38 +0000 A 20-year-old Ogunquit guitarist got the surprise of a lifetime Wednesday after her cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” was shared by the iconic rock band on social media.

Allivia Lorusso had responded to an Instagram post by Aerosmith asking fans to post their own covers of Aerosmith songs with the hashtag #aerosmithcovers. After posting her clip about two weeks ago on YouTube, she pretty much forgot about it because she assumed nothing would come of it.

But that changed when Aerosmith shared Lorusso’s clip on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook alone, Lorusso’s video has been shared 350 times and liked 1,700 times. Instagram views are nearing 60,000 and on Twitter the clip’s been liked almost 700 times and has been retweeted 124 times.

Lorusso began playing acoustic guitar when she was 10 years old, but switched to electric when she was 16 after discovering Aerosmith.

“They’re the entire reason I started playing guitar,” she said. The first Aerosmith song she learned to play was “Mama Kin,” still her favorite of their songs. When asked why she chose “Walk This Way” as the one to share publicly, Lorusso said it has her favorite guitar solo.

“I just feel like it’s so Joe Perry,” she said of Aerosmith’s guitarist. “I’m a huge fan of him and how he plays and I love the way that solo is constructed.”

The song is from Aerosmith’s 1975 album “Toys in the Attic” and is one of their many hits.

Lorusso works as a screen printer and sign maker at Ocean Graphics in Wells and was at work when her phone started blowing up with the news about Aerosmith sharing her clip.

“I freaked out and I put Aerosmith on full blast and jumped around for two hours,” said Lorusso, who added that all her coworkers are also musicians, and they shared in her celebration.

As for her own music, Lorusso said she’s a bass player shy of forming her own band and has been working on original material in her home studio. She’s also been helped by well-known blues musician James Montgomery and has joined Montgomery and his band onstage on several occasions to play lead guitar and sing on a few songs.

“He’s my mentor and has taken me under his wing,” she said.

Lorusso has yet to see Aerosmith live but has seen a solo show by lead singer Steven Tyler. She also has tickets to see Joe Perry at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom on April 19.

“It’s my dream to get up on stage and play with him” she said.

Considering how much visibility her “Walk This Way” clip has gotten, she’s hoping this particular dream might come true.

She added that Aerosmith is her favorite band for a simple reason.

“I love them because they are the pure essence of rock and roll.”

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

Twitter: Aimsel

]]> 0 Lorusso of Ogunquit performs onstage with well-known blues musician James Montgomery. Her cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" was shared by the band on social media. Lorusso says it has her favorite guitar solo.Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:54:27 +0000
Horoscopes for March 22, 2018 Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:01:38 +0000 0, 21 Mar 2018 14:33:04 +0000 ‘Kapow!’ Maine Historical Society’s exhibit explores the impact of the comics Thu, 22 Mar 2018 03:00:42 +0000 0, 21 Mar 2018 23:00:42 +0000 Museum urges judge to let it sell Rockwell, other art Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:37:30 +0000 BOSTON — A cash-strapped Massachusetts museum urged a judge on the state’s highest court Tuesday to quickly sign off on a contentious plan to sell dozens of pieces of art, including works by Norman Rockwell.

An attorney for the Berkshire Museum told Justice David Lowy that it is nearing an April deadline to sell some of the works this spring — otherwise it will have to wait until the fall. The museum is in dire financial straits and losing money with each delay, attorney William Lee said.

“This is a situation where a museum that serves an enormous community purpose — that provides a window on the world to a group of folks who otherwise might not have it — is in dire circumstances and looking for a way to fulfill its mission,” Lee said.

The museum and Massachusetts’ attorney general are asking Lowy to approve an agreement they reached last month to allow the museum to sell up to 40 pieces of artwork.

Under the agreement, an unnamed U.S. museum would buy Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” and loan the work to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for a period of time before lending it to other museums in the state.

The museum says it will sell the rest of the artwork until it reaches $55 million in proceeds. The museum says it may not have to sell all 39 other pieces, which include Rockwell’s “Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop” and works by Alexander Calder, Albert Bierstadt and George Henry Durrie.

The judge didn’t immediately rule on the matter on Tuesday.

Rockwell’s sons, who went to court in October to halt the sale, dropped their challenge last month after the museum and attorney general announced that their agreement would keep “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” in public view.

The museum says the sale is the only option it has to keep its doors open. The museum has been running an operating deficit that in the past 10 years has averaged more than $1 million annually, and will close within eight years without an infusion of cash, it says.

An attorney for a group of museum members fighting the sale said Rockwell specifically chose the Berkshire Museum for his pieces because he wanted local residents to enjoy them. While the agreement ensures “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” can be viewed by the public, the other works may never be seen again, he said.

“Make no mistake, the art market is watching,” Nicholas O’Donnell said.

Michael Keating, a lawyer for other museum members, said if the sale goes forward, Lowy should appoint a special person to oversee the process and ensure the money raised by the museum is used appropriately. The attorney general’s office says it will supervise the sale, but Keating said that’s not enough.

“For the court to approve that, your honor … would be extraordinary under circumstances like that,” he told the judge.

]]> 0 Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass. An attorney for the museum says that an April deadline is nearing to sell some art works and that the museum is in dire financial straits.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:43:22 +0000
Singer Selena Gomez responds to ‘thick’ remark with her own post Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:10:42 +0000 NEW YORK — Selena Gomez took to Instagram after bikini photos of her in Australia showing a scar drew social media comments that she looked “thick.”

The singer wrote that the beauty myth was “an obsession with physical perfection that traps modern woman in an endless cycle of hopelessness, self consciousness and self-hatred.”

Gomez says she “chose to take care of myself” because she wants to and “not to prove anything to anyone.”

The scar was the result of a complication from her 2017 kidney transplant.

The post included a video of Gomez with friends on a boat in Sydney Harbor.

]]> 0 Gomez has the most followers of any celebrity on Instagram, the site announced this week.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 17:27:28 +0000
Kennebunk theater group shutting down after loss of operations director Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:01:23 +0000 A Kennebunk-based outdoor theater group has announced it will shut down, a decision that follows the loss of its director of operations after he was caught up in a social media controversy at Kennebunk High School.

MaineStage Shakespeare, a nonprofit that staged outdoor theater productions for seven years, announced the closure Wednesday. The theater company produced 17 free shows during its seven seasons and hosted numerous summer camps and workshops for children.

The founding artistic director said the decision was made because of difficulty raising money and the recent departure of the director of operations following a controversy at Kennebunk High School.

Chiara Klein, the managing artistic director, said last summer the organization tapped Michael Herman and his wife, Rachael Yoder, as the future leaders of MaineStage.

But Herman, Yoder and the board of directors mutually decided that the couple would leave the organization after Herman lost his job at Kennebunk High School in February following an investigation into his use of a fake Facebook profile to contact students and parents in violation of school district policy, she said.

“A lot of the future rested in the assumption they were going to be around and they’d be able to carry the fundraising gauntlet,” Klein said. “When the relationship with the school eroded, those kind of fundraising prospects started to dwindle. It became impossible this late in the game to finish the fundraising for an eighth season.”

Herman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

MaineStage was founded in 2010 by Klein, Stephanie Strohm and Meg Kiley Smith, who met the previous year while performing Shakespeare in New York. They incorporated the theater company as a nonprofit and began staging performances in Kennebunk in 2011. The theater company made its home in Lafayette Park on a stage built by the town of Kennebunk.

The theater company also offered MaineStage ShakeStars, a series of weeklong summer camps for children that focused on all aspects of theater, from playwriting to costuming to stage combat.

In 2014, the future of the theater company was uncertain because it had no funding lined up and no money in its reserves. Organizers said at the time they needed to find $25,000 to fund the next season, and supporters – including children who participated in the summer camp – found enough donations to keep the nonprofit alive.

MaineStage Shakespeare reported revenue of $51,807 and expenses totaling $53,097 in 2016, according to tax filings. The group reported an operating loss of more than $4,500 the previous year.

Klein said the decision to “move toward a graceful sunset of the company” was a difficult one that has been met with both disappointment and sadness by actors and others involved with the productions and the community. She said everyone involved with the theater company made deep connections.

“When those connections break, the emotions are very high,” she said. “At the same time, you look back at the really rich seven years that we had, which is not insignificant. We know the impact will live on, but it’s hard to think about not coming back to Kennebunk for another season.”

Ana Dinino, a Kennebunk High School senior, started participating in MaineStage ShakeStars at age 11. When the theater company was in danger of closing for lack of funding, Dinino and other young actors sent up a booth at the local farmers market and did spontaneous performances. They raised $600 in one day.

Dinino said she cried for three hours when she heard the theater company would close.

“A lot of those actors taught me so much more than acting,” she said. “They teach us how to feel accepted and they gave us a place to be accepted.”

Dinino said it was “invaluable” for herself and her peers to be around positive, inspiring adults for six years and for the community to be exposed to theater.

“It was a pivotal part of the community,” she said. “It felt like my home and it feels like it’s being ripped away.”

MaineStage Shakespeare is planning a farewell event, “Epilogue,” on Memorial Day weekend that will feature performances by alumni, workshops for children and a community celebration. Additional information will be announced on the theater company’s website.

]]> 0 Shakespeare’s production of “Julius Caesar” in Kennebunk features Samantha Cooper as Portia and Aidan Eastwood in the role of Brutus.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 22:05:52 +0000
How to try edible cannabis without feeling like you’re going to die Wed, 21 Mar 2018 20:24:33 +0000 One evening late last year I was on my computer at home when I heard a woman yelling. Well, not just yelling. More like screaming bloody murder.

I ran outside and discovered the noise was coming from the house next door. I bounded in and found my neighbor in her bedroom, alternately curled on her bed, then sitting up screaming. Her dogs were cowering.

She had bitten off a chunk of a cannabis-infused caramel that contained a total of 100 milligrams of THC. She had probably consumed between 10 milligrams and 15 milligrams. A standard dose for experienced users is around 10 milligrams, but as a cannabis expert friend of mine says, “Your mileage may vary.”

Having spent the last couple of years learning about cannabis, I knew that she was not going to die. But she was in such distress that I suggested that her husband call 911.

• • •

“As a business owner, those are the nightmare scenarios that we have worked really hard to prevent over the years,” said Kristi Knoblich, who, along with her husband, Scott Palmer, own Kiva Confections, one of the largest edible cannabis companies in the state. “You may feel like you are going to die, but you are not going to die – that’s not great marketing language.”

As California enters the brave and complex world of cannabis legalization, it’s important that consumers who choose to experiment with pot understand how to avoid ending up like my neighbor. Inexperienced users who want to dabble, especially with edibles, owe it to themselves to get educated.

“Dosing and storage are the two areas we need to bring awareness to,” Knoblich said.

• • •

The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Public Health have created rules and regulations designed to keep the public safe. But the public, obviously, has an obligation to keep itself safe too.

The rules cover all aspects of the manufacturing process, including product design (edibles cannot be packaged in a way that is attractive to children, nor can the product itself look like kids’ candy). And there are stringent requirements for child-resistant packaging, which are adding considerably to the cost of every product.

“‘Child resistance’ is a really nice talking point,” Knoblich said. “It sounds great on paper. But, honestly, parents need to lock this stuff up. Like their guns and their alcohol cabinet. Cannabis needs to be in an area that is completely inaccessible to children.”

The new law says that one serving of an edible can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, with no more than 100 mgs allowed in a single product package.

(Think of a segmented chocolate bar.)

But for inexperienced users, 10 milligrams is probably way too much.

Knoblich and her husband are proponents of microdosing. Generally, a microdose is defined as an amount between 2.5 milligrams and 5 milligrams of THC.

“It’s difficult to explain to people what the effects are going to be, but I try to use a glass of wine analogy,” Knoblich said as we sat in the conference room of her factory in West Oakland last month.

“A microdose of 2.5 milligrams may be like one glass of wine for someone, and 5 milligrams might be like two glasses of wine. The frustrating part about cannabis is that every amount affects everybody differently, so you run the risk of not feeling it, then getting frustrated. And then you want to take more, which can be a mistake.”


Although a glass of wine goes to your head immediately, it can take up to two hours to feel the full effect of an edible. This is where so many people get into trouble.

“There is not a lot of research on how external factors affect you, but food in your stomach, what your metabolism is like, and alcohol, can add to the intensity of the effects,” Knoblich said. “Two hours is a realistic amount of time to wait to see.”

Also, if I may: Don’t ever eat homemade marijuana brownies. You have no idea how much THC you are getting, and you may end up feeling as if you are going to die.

• • •

One major byproduct of legalization has been the dramatic increase in the cost of doing business. All marijuana entrepreneurs must obtain local and state licenses, which are expensive.

Taxes have been levied on cannabis at nearly every point between cultivation and retail sales. In addition to state taxes, cities and counties can impose taxes of their own. Oakland, for example, where Kiva is based, levies a 10 percent tax on gross receipts, which has prompted the company to look for a location in a lower-tax city. To keep and attract cannabis businesses, the city of Berkeley recently slashed its tax from 10 percent to 5 percent.

For consumers, all the taxes mean retail prices have spiked, even as the wholesale price of raw cannabis has plummeted.

One of Kiva’s most popular products, a small round tin containing chocolate-covered blueberries (each berry has 5 milligrams of THC and can easily be cut in half) retailed last year for about $19. This year, the same tin retails for closer to $30.

“The most poignant piece of feedback we got from a consumer is, ‘If I had known that prices are going to be this high in the regulated market, I wouldn’t have voted to legalize cannabis,'” Knoblich said.

• • •

Shortly after we called 911, the paramedics arrived.

By their demeanor, I could see there was nothing special about this “emergency.”

My neighbor’s vitals were fine, and she had calmed down. She declined an offer to be transported to the ER. But one of the paramedics said something that upset her, and she started screaming again, so they took her anyway. After a few hours of observation, she was sent home.

The next morning she was a little embarrassed but fine. She told me that she had hallucinated that her contractor was trying to steal her home out from under her.

As I told the story to Knoblich, I found myself chuckling.

“I don’t want to downplay the severity of feeling like you are out of control,” Knoblich said. “But a lot of people present these stories the way you did: ‘This happened to my neighbor, it was absolutely terrible,’ and when you get to the end of the story, you’re kind of laughing.”

]]> 0 Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:24:33 +0000
Concert review: Second concert for PSO conductor candidate is inconsistent, again Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:56:20 +0000 When the Portland Symphony Orchestra announced what was originally a slate of four candidates for its music directorship, Alexander Mickelthwate was to have conducted the ensemble at Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday evening. When he dropped out to take another position, just as the season was getting underway, another candidate, Ken-David Masur, took over his date, giving him a second chance to be heard with the orchestra.

At the time I thought that was a fine idea, having heard Masur conduct elsewhere to fine effect, although I also wondered whether it was entirely fair: If Masur is heard twice on the orchestra’s classical series, the others should have a second hearing too. As it turned out, I found Masur’s first concert with the orchestra, in November, a mixed success, so I was pleased that he would have an opportunity to make a stronger impression.

I wish I could say he did, but Tuesday’s concert was disappointingly inconsistent. As was the case with the earlier concert, I don’t believe the performance’s deficits can all be laid at Masur’s door, although some can.

He got off to a strong start, with Mozart’s Overture to “La Clemenza di Tito.” Recent fashions in the performance of 18th-century music demand a reduced ensemble, a notion that Robert Moody, the orchestra’s outgoing music director, generally honors. Masur retained a hefty string complement, which is his prerogative, and while a large orchestra for Mozart is generally not my preference, it seemed admirable that Masur was willing to buck the trend, if he feels strongly about it and can get good results.

You could not argue with the results. The string playing was taut and dramatic, the brasses were solid, and the reading, overall, was energetic, precise and uplifting. Nor could you fault Masur’s impulses, and the orchestra’s response, in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73, the “Emperor,” although Masur was interpretively at odds with his soloist, Natasha Paremski.

To give Masur the benefit of the doubt here, Paremski and the “Emperor” were holdovers (the only ones) from Mickelthwate’s program, and not necessarily a combination he’d have chosen if he were building the orchestra’s seasons himself. And Paremski, a young, Russian-born player who has spent much of her life in New York, had some unusual ideas about the concerto.

Most notably, she played at times with an odd choppiness that made it seem as though she were intent on not overusing the piano’s sustain pedal. You could probably make a case for that, in terms of the pianos of Beethoven’s day. But that doesn’t take the unforgivingly dry sound of Merrill Auditorium’s house piano into account.

In high-lying, light-textured passages, Paremski’s playing was attractively lithe; in heavier passages, although she summoned the requisite power, her sound was more pedestrian, even a bit muddy at times.

There were balance issues, as well. And at one point, midway through the opening movement, when the piano has an accompanying figure and the orchestra has the theme, Paremski was puzzlingly out front, much louder than she ought to have been – something Masur should have countered immediately.

Masur devoted the second half of the program to Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in D major (Op. 60), a work that shows both the composer’s influences, in its frequent hat tips to Beethoven, Brahms and Czech folk styles, as well as some of the personal voice that would emerge more clearly in his later symphonies.

The performance began promisingly, with lovely woodwind playing and a rich string sound in the opening bars. The strings’ tone and fleetness held up in the brisk Scherzo and in the finale; other sections were less consistent: An admirable solo horn line in the second movement gave way, just a moment later (and again in the finale) to dicey intonation from the section as a whole.

Still, a performance of a big Romantic symphony stands or falls on the conductor’s conception, and Masur’s was not sharply focused. In the opening movement, he took a relaxed tempo that had just the right undercurrent of tension, but by the movement’s end, and throughout much of the rest of the symphony, his reading grew distant and diffuse, sometimes even plodding, as if he had either lost interest in the work, or just hasn’t yet found the key to showing its strengths.

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

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0 Masur is associate conductor of the Boston Symphony and among three finalists to be the next music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:29:19 +0000
For the first time, French are eating more burgers than their classic baguette sandwiches Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:40:16 +0000 PARIS — Forget the baguette. The French are going crazy for burgers.

Figures released this week revealed that sales of the jambon-beurre – the ham and butter baguette sandwich, a classic of French snacking – have been surpassed by sales of American-style burgers.

The study by restaurant consultants Gira Conseil showed that about 1.2 billion ham and butter sandwiches were sold in 2017, while 1.4 billion burgers were eaten over the same period.

“Even the Americans are looking at us with wide-eyed amazement,” Bernard Boutboul, general director of Gira Conseil, told The Associated Press.

The classic French jambon-beurre sandwich: ham on a buttered baguette. Shutterstock photo

“Obviously the rise in popularity is not linked to sales at McDonald’s or other fast-food restaurants,” Boutboul said in a phone interview. “It’s due to the growing number of restaurants putting burgers on their menu.”

Eighty percent of restaurants in France included burgers on their menu last year, he said.

Overall, sales of both sandwiches and burgers are on the rise. The study notes that “the ham and butter sandwich recorded a 1.3 percent growth in 2017 while burger (sales) keep booming with 9 percent” growth.

“The French’s favorite sandwich is losing ground, slowly but steadily,” the study said.

Boutboul said the burger frenzy started about a decade ago after three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alleno, based in Paris, won the New York Times’ award for the best burger in the world.

According to the consultant’s figures, half of the 2.4 billion sandwiches sold in 2017 were jambon-beurre.

“Despite a rise in the numbers of jambon-beurre consumed this year, long gone are the prosperous years,” the study said. “In 2012, the jambon-beurre market share was 62 percent. It lost more than 11 percent over five years.”

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2018 13:56:26 +0000
Persian New Year: Baha’i couple mark Nowruz with food, fasting and community service Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Parivash Rohani stirred the chopped onions and bite-sized pieces of chicken sizzling in a large pot on the stovetop in her Portland kitchen. She was making fesenjan, a traditional Iranian stew with chicken, ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup, that is often served at the Persian New Year.

While she let the chicken and onions cook, Rohani pulled out a big jar of pomegranate syrup – so dark red it is almost brown – that her father brought to her from Iran. It was made by family friends who grow pomegranates in Ardestan, the city where Rohani was born. Rohani said it’s just pomegranate juice that’s been boiled – nothing is added, as might be in commercial syrups.

“Sometimes pomegranate is sour and we add a little bit of sugar, but this is good,” she said, tapping her stirring spoon on the side of the pot.

As many as 300 million people worldwide celebrate the Persian New Year, with dancing, food and other activities. Nowruz – which translates to “New Day” – begins on or around the spring equinox, which this year falls on March 21 in Iran, where the holiday originated centuries ago. The festivities last for 13 days, and typically include foods such as fesenjan and two other dishes Rohani made to go with it – an herb-and-egg dish called kookoo sabzi and Persian saffron rice, cooked until it develops a coveted crispy bottom layer, which is called the tahdig.

Nasser Rohani, Parivash’s husband, still remembers fighting with his siblings over the crispy bits when he was a child.

The Rohanis have not lived in Iran since the 1970s, but they still celebrate Nowruz (the Baha’i spell it Naw-Rúz) as a religious holiday that is an important part of their Baha’i faith. Rohani has been fasting since March 2 as part of her observance, and can’t eat until after sundown each day. “Many people think that Nowruz is important to us because we are from Iran,” she said. “But Baha’i is all over the globe.”

The National Iranian American Council estimates 228 Iranian-Americans live in Maine. Of those, Nasser Rohani estimates just 50 are Baha’is.

Rohani maintains a link with her native country through family and treasured possessions, such as a huge Persian cookbook, its binding falling apart, that her mother gave her when she married. She pulled it down from a shelf and thumbed through it. A few spots revealed handwritten notations she made years ago. She hasn’t used the book a lot, but certain recipes, such as an Iranian cake her daughter loves, became family favorites.

As she prepared the kookoo sabzi, she noted that “many, many people would have (this)” at the New Year. This afternoon, she decided to experiment with it – baking it in the oven in a muffin tin to make individual portions instead of cooking it on the stovetop as usual. Nasser, who loves to cook, rigorously stirred the herb-and-egg mixture.

“Mixing it so much will make it more fluffy,” he said.

The recipe serves eight, but Rohani says she loves it so much it only serves five in her household.


In Iran, preparations for the new year typically begin a month ahead.

“People do a lot of deep, deep cleaning – spring cleaning, really,” Rohani said. “And then you buy a lot of different sweets, or you bake a lot of different sweets. In some families, people come together and bake for days – rice cookies or chickpea cookies or pastry.”

Parivash Rohani has her husband, Nasser Rohani, taste-test rice while cooking a Nowruz meal. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Just as Christians buy a new Easter outfit every year, she said, Iranians splurge on new clothes to wear during Nowruz.

“When we were growing up we couldn’t wait for Nowruz because everything – your dress, your shoes, your socks – everything was brand new,” Rohani said. “You buy it in some families a month ahead, and then you go and look in the closet and say, ‘When is the new year coming? I want to wear my new dress.’ ”

On the Wednesday before the old year ends, people build fires and jump over them while singing a song, asking the fire to burn up their problems and give warmth and color to their lives.

Rohani left the fesenjan to bubble on the stove while she and her husband sat at her kitchen table to talk about the holiday. She cut up a honeydew melon for her guests but didn’t eat it herself since she was still fasting.

Although she has a recipe, she put the stew together without measuring anything, and she skipped the fenugreek and garlic chives listed as optional in her recipe because she doesn’t like them. While most Iranians cook with butter, Rohani prefers healthier olive oil.

A centerpiece of Nowruz is the Haft-Seen table, the couple explained. Families set a table with seven items that begin with the letter S. The items represent things that people hope to bring into the new year, such as garlic (seer) for health, dried fruit (senjed) for love, and vinegar (serkeh) for wisdom and patience.

Why the letter S? “There is not any rhyme or reason because it is more than 3,000 years old,” Rohani said.

Families also grow sprouts from lentils or some other plant for the table. The new growth must be a few inches long before Nowruz arrives.

“Iran is not a very green country,” Nasser Rohani said, “so to represent the coming of the new year, they have to show some green,”

Goldfish and money may also go on the table, along with a holy book for Muslims or Zoroastrians, or the Bible for Christians. People who are not religious often add a book of poetry.

The Haft-Seen table remains set for at least 10 days because after the equinox, families visit each other. The elderly give money – crisp, new bills – to the children who visit them. On the 13th day – the last day of the celebration – families go on a picnic.

“They have to picnic near a river – the flowing water – because it is a good omen to get the sprout thing and throw it in the water and make a wish,” Rohani said.


Persian New Year festivities are as lively as ever in Iran, Rohani said, because people view them as “an uprising against the government.”

“When the Islamic government took over, they wanted to get rid of all the traditional, important days because they didn’t want anything un-Islamic to exist and people enjoy it,” she said. But trying to ban holidays only made them more popular, and Persian New Year celebrations, especially, have blossomed.

Rohani was just 18 when the Iranian revolution broke out in 1979. She had planned to study law, but after the revolution Baha’is were not allowed to enter university, and if they were already enrolled, they were expelled.

Then her family’s home in Shiraz was burned down, and they lost everything overnight. Rohani and her two female cousins, ages 19 and 21, were sent to safety in India.

“After something so drastic, you don’t feel safe anymore,” Rohani said. “You feel like ‘my god, these are my people and none of them really stood beside me to defend me. How can I live here now?’ ”

After the revolution, 10 of Rohani’s friends – all Baha’i – were hanged.

Rohani stayed in India until 1986. There she met and married Nasser, who had come to India for an education, and the couple emigrated to California. They ultimately settled in Maine to be closer to her in-laws, who lived in New Brunswick at the time.

Rohani wasn’t taught to cook as a child. “When I was a girl, I was spoiled,” she said, but in India she and her cousins shared kitchen duties. Whoever got home from school first would start making dinner, “so we just learned by putting things together.”

Rohani eventually became a nurse, and a mom. She and Nasser have four adult children. Nasser recently retired after more than 30 years as a computer analyst at L.L. Bean.

It’s still not safe for Baha’is in Iran, Rohani said. A few months ago, her sister-in-law was arrested for holding a small religious meeting in her home. “She was in solitary confinement for a month,” Rohani said. “She was released on bail awaiting her sentence, and we are all really worried for her because she has a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old.”


When all of the dishes, including a salad Nasser made, were spread out on the family’s kitchen island for serving, it made for a colorful display – the dark red pomegranate, the green herbs, the yellow saffron in the rice. The herbs gave the kookoo sabzi an earthy flavor, while the fesenjen was both sweet and sour. And it was easy to see why children fight over the fun-to-eat crunchy bits of rice.

Parivash and Nasser Rohani cook food for a Nowruz meal. Staff photos by Brianna Soukup

After dinner, Rohani served tea in beautiful gold and glass teacups from Iran. A silver spoonholder shaped like a swan held small, ornate silver teaspoons.

Although the Rohanis still feast on traditional Persian New Year dishes, they no longer celebrate Persian New Year as a cultural holiday, partly because many of the traditional festivities seem outdated to them. Rohani cleans her house every day, she says, and she has plenty of clothes. She doesn’t set out a Haft-Seen table. When she was a child, her father was in the army and her family moved so often, and so unexpectedly, that her mother stopped doing it.

“It’s beautiful, and I admire people who are committed to do it,” she said, “but my mother was never committed, so I never grew up having that every year.”

But Rohani will continue fasting through March 25. And on Nowruz, she and her family will venture out to do some kind of service – visit the sick in the hospital or perhaps residents of a nursing home, collect money for the poor – to give back to the community.

“We both left Iran a long, long time ago and we are here,” Nasser Rohani said. “We are Americans now.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0 Rohani has her husband, Nasser Rohani, taste-test rice while cooking a Nowruz meal.Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:38:52 +0000
‘Sex and the City’ star Cynthia Nixon makes first campaign appearance of governor’s bid Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:18:34 +0000 NEW YORK — Newly announced New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on Tuesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo, her Democratic primary opponent, for favoring corporations and the rich over average New Yorkers.

The liberal activist and “Sex and the City” actress took aim at Cuomo in her first official campaign appearance, telling the audience at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn that she had just made it to the event “in the nick of time” because of subway delays that she blamed on “Cuomo’s MTA.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority oversees the subways, and Cuomo controls the MTA. An MTA spokesman said on Twitter there had been a sick passenger.

Nixon went on to criticize inequality in the state, which she blamed on policy choices like tax cuts for corporations and wealthier New Yorkers, and called out corruption in state government.

“If Washington is a swamp, Albany is a cesspool,” she said. She cited a former Cuomo top aide, Joseph Percoco, who was convicted this month on federal bribery and fraud charges.

Cuomo was not accused of any wrongdoing, but the trial put a spotlight on Albany’s pay-to-play culture.

Nixon said she voted for Cuomo eight years ago in hopes of his being a “real Democrat” but that “New York’s eight years under the Cuomo administration have been an exercise in living with disappointment, dysfunction, and dishonesty.”

She said the state could have tackled a range of issues, from fully funding public schools to fixing the beleaguered subway system and enacting campaign finance reform.

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2018 21:40:22 +0000
That’s Sir Ringo, if you please: Beatles great is knighted Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:49:45 +0000 LONDON — Call him Sir Ringo now, or Sir Richard to be more precise. Either way, it’s a fitting honor for the former Beatles drummer, who has waited decades for the recognition.

The 77-year-old Ringo Starr received his long-awaited knighthood from Prince William Tuesday. He used his real name Richard Starkey.

He said the honor “means a lot.”

The other surviving Beatle, Paul McCartney, was knighted in 1997.

“I had dinner with him last week and we were both actually laughing about where we came from, and we’ve ended up in the palace and it’s now Sir Paul and Sir Richard,” said Starr.

]]> 0 Starr is on tour with his All-Starr band, wrapping on July 2 in Los Angeles. He turns 76 on July 7.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 21:20:30 +0000
Watch: A Maine farm family takes us maple sugaring Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:16:25 +0000 Videographer Roger McCord documents the making of maple syrup by the Parsons family in Gorham. Multiple generations of the family take us into the woods, introduce us to “The Bombadier” and share their history.

Maine Maple Sunday is March 25, when the Parsons will welcome the public to see their sugaring operation, as do many farmers in Maine. To get the full list of farms and their schedules, click here.

Find other fun spring activities at

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2018 13:18:03 +0000
Watch: 102- and 100-year-old runners set world records Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:33:00 +0000 If this doesn’t inspire people to get up and move, nothing will.

Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, who is 102 years old and clearly still going strong, set the world record for the 60-meter dash in the women’s 100-plus age competition at 24.79. She was competing at the USA Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships this weekend in Landover, Maryland.

And Orville Rogers, 100, set a record in the 60 for men in the 100-plus age group at 19.13.

Rogers, who is from Dallas, also set a pending world age-group record in the 400 with a time of 4:16.90; his 60 time was 19.13. A World War II bomber pilot and former airline pilot, Rogers, who took up running when he was inspired at the age of 50 by Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s “Aerobics” book, overcame a 2011 stroke that temporarily paralyzed his left hand, foot and hip.

“How wonderful it is, how great it is, to be alive,” he told Dallas’ WFAA last December. “I really enjoy life.”

Rogers faced stiff competition from Roy Englert, a 95-year-old man from Springfield, Virginia, and Dixon Hemphill, a 93-year-old Fairfax, Virginia, man with whom he has a friendly running rivalry. Englert set a pending world record in the M95 3,000-meter race with a time of 26:52.17, breaking the previous mark by almost four minutes.

At 102, Hawkins, who is from Baton Rouge, is the oldest woman in the history of the USATF Championships. She was a cycling enthusiast for years, taking up competitive running when she was 100.

“I just like the feeling of being independent and doing something a little different and testing myself, trying to get better. I want to please my family is the other thing,” Hawkins told The Washington Post last summer. “Having a mama that can do this pleases them, and it pleases me to please them.”

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2018 12:49:43 +0000
Theater review: Gifted cast gives Mad Horse’s ‘Reasons’ an emotionally satisfying ride Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:57:09 +0000 Playwright Neil LaBute has long been a controversial figure because of the extreme characterizations and themes in his work. His name would not generally be associated with the word “regular.” But that’s the word he chose to get the relationship wrecking ball swinging in his “Reasons to Be Pretty,” a gripping production of which is now running at Mad Horse Theatre.

The author is known for his talent in exposing the dangers hidden beneath the language of everyday life. So, when a young woman in this 2008 play goes into a rage after she learns that her boyfriend has referred to her looks as “regular,” it’s soon clear that there’s more there than can be easily resolved.

Marie Stewart-Harmon and Jake Cote as Steph and Greg. Photo by Craig Robinson

The initial confrontation is formidable, with Steph, played by Marie Stewart-Harmon, in boyfriend Greg’s face as the play opens. An obscenity-laced harangue devolves into an unbroken stream of obscene language as words fail her and the possibility of an amicable resolution fades.

Stewart-Harmon starts with a bracing screech but later compellingly traverses her character’s journey from pure flailing toward a sort of forgiving, though the force of her disquiet hangs in the air. Steph asserts she must “protect what I have.”

Greg, played by Jake Cote, is an affable, working-class guy with an intellectual bent who tries to smooth things over by offering a combination of puzzled apology and quick wit. Cote is exceptionally good in delivering Greg’s soft-spoken humor as the young man attempts to calm things down while also avoiding some hard truths.

Add to the mix the emerging troubles of Greg’s sexually wandering co-worker and pal Kent, played by Kelsey Anderson-Taylor, and Kent’s too easily objectified security guard wife, Carly, played by Allison McCall.

The discontents of the foursome make for a gloomy theatrical foundation. But it’s one that gradually gains light and warmth through the author’s apparent concern and the Mad Horse cast’s engaging performances.

Each character offers a telling monologue and Carly’s emphasizes the limitations of a focus on appearance when genuine communication is lost. “Beauty comes at a price,” she observes. This character’s problems may be the simplest, but perhaps for that reason, the most moving. The others earn a more measured compassion by the end.

Director Christopher Price has focused the minimally appointed production on the humanity that shines through as these conflicted characters uneasily move toward a more mature understanding.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 0 Stewart-Harmon and Jake Cote as Steph and Greg.Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:05:21 +0000
Bento the Keyboard Cat dies at age 9. Condolences pour in. Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:37:35 +0000 It’s nearly impossible to go online these days and not come across videos of cats swinging from ceiling fans or being scared by cucumbers. Cats litter Facebook and Snapchat and appear on social media accounts boasting hundreds of thousands of followers. The most successful Internet cat entrepreneurs can make tens of thousands of dollars each year from advertising and merchandising.

For those who watch these videos, however, it’s not about the money. For some, it’s about that warm fuzzy vibe that makes them feel “more positive” about life than they otherwise might, according to one academic study.

One of best-loved of these celebrity cats was Bento, an affable orange tabby more commonly known by his Internet moniker Keyboard Cat.

Bento lovers are now in mourning, however. He succumbed to liver cancer on March 8, his owner Charlie Schmidt told The Washington Post. Fans were alerted of his death when Schmidt, a Spokane, Washington-based artist, posted a touching tribute to YouTube Friday.

It’s important to note that Bento is the second Keyboard Cat and not the star of the original 2007 YouTube video, which went viral in 2009 and launched a synth-keyboard-playing feline into Internet stardom, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The first Keyboard Cat video – shot on VHS in 1984 then later digitized – features the musical talents of Schmidt’s other cat, Fatso, who passed away more than 20 years ago.

When Schmidt filmed the original video on a winter day long before YouTube even existed, he had no idea it would go viral and become a widely-circulated meme, used to document Internet fails, or embarrassing moments.

“I wasn’t aiming for anything except relieving my boredom,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

In fact, Schmidt said the inspiration for the video came from things he found lying around his house, which just happened to be his cat, a keyboard and an infant T-shift from JC Penny. (Having no baby, he still can’t explain why he had an infant shirt at home. In any case, it’s now framed and hanging in his office.)

So he was surprised when a video he describes as “low-resolution, poorly produced, badly framed [and] improvised,” became an overnight Internet sensation. The original video has since amassed more than 50 million views.

The meteoric rise of Fatso as the first Keyboard Cat inspired him to see if he could create more videos with another cat and “keep the spirit of Fatso alive.”

Enter Bento.

Adopted from a shelter in 2010, Schmidt said Bento, who bears a striking resemblance to his predecessor, shouldered the enormous responsibility of Internet fame without blinking an eye.

Three days after his adoption, Schmidt got out the keyboard and camera, and Bento became the star of “Keyboard Cat REINCARNATED!,” the first of many videos in which Bento was the leading cat.

“Trust me, not every cat in the world can do this or everybody would be and there would be a million Keyboard Cats,” Schmidt said, adding that Bento craved the attention.

Aside from YouTube, Bento has also appeared in a Wonderful Pistachios commercial and was featured in a campaign to encourage pet adoption from shelters. Schmidt also runs a merchandise store stocked with paraphernalia ranging from branded mugs to an animatronic stuffed toy.

The loss of such a prolific Internet celebrity has sent people around the world into a tailspin.

Since the tribute video was posted, Schmidt said Keyboard Cat’s social media channels and his own personal email have been inundated with condolence messages from around the world.

“I got an email today from people in South Africa who were asking me, ‘What do I do with my 6-year-old, he won’t stop crying,'” he said.

Many also took to Twitter to express their sorrow, resulting in their reactions being curated into a trending moment yesterday.

Users remembered Keyboard Cat, eulogizing him as a “hero” and a “legend.” Countless tweets included GIFs or photos of the cat playing the keyboard, or as one user described it “[tickling] the ivories with his gifted kitty paws.”

Even fellow Internet-famous cats expressed sympathies. “Rest in Peace Keyboard Cat,” said a Twitter post from the Grumpy Cat account.

Although the Internet is grieving the loss of a treasured meme, Schmidt said he lost a piece of himself.

“If I was on the computer, [Bento] was on the computer. If I was in the shower, he’d be on the bath mat,” he said. “It’s just like a legend, ‘Bento will not be without Charlie.'”

Bedtime, he said, is when he misses Bento the most.

“I’d just get in [bed] and he would snuggle up,” Schmidt said. “He would come really close and then put his paw on your arm. That was a good way to end a day.”

While he would prefer to just make a cup of soup, watch TV and process Bento’s death, Schmidt said he knows he has a responsibility to Keyboard Cat’s fans to carry on Bento’s legacy.

But, he has not yet decided if that means starting the search for a Keyboard Cat 3.0.

“I’m not doing any dating right now with cats, but it can happen,” he said.

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2018 09:39:17 +0000
Horoscopes for March 20, 2018 Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:01:11 +0000 0, 19 Mar 2018 14:56:28 +0000 For TV food host Andrew Zimmern, Portland is the city of fatherly love Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000

Host Andrew Zimmern outside Duckfat in Portland last summer. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

Usually when you see Andrew Zimmern hosting one of his globe-trotting TV shows, it’s all about the food.

But when a Portland-centric episode of his new show, “The Zimmern List,” airs Tuesday night, it’ll be largely about his dad.

“The whole episode is really an homage to him. I went to places that he first turned me on to,” Zimmern, 56, said Monday from his home in Minnesota. “It was a very poignant and personal episode for me. I think it’s one of the better pieces I’ve done for television.”

Andrew Zimmern at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset last summer. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

Robert Zimmern, who died in 2015 at the age of 89, lived the last 10 years of his life near Portland’s Back Cove. The younger Zimmern came often to visit his father and his father’s husband, the painter Andre Laporte. Both were fans of good food and helped Zimmern discover the wonders of Portland’s food landscape.

“Before my father moved there the only restaurant I’d been to was Fore Street. But when they lived there it was like having an advance team for the show, finding all the best places for me,” said Zimmern.

The episode will air Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on Travel Channel. The new series focuses on Zimmern’s favorite food cities and favorite foods. He said Monday that Portland is “one of the places I consider home,” along with Minneapolis, where he lives full time, and New York, where he grew up and where his career as a chef took off. He also attended summer camp in Raymond as a youngster and says he continues to visit Maine at least a couple of times a year. When in Maine, he likes sailing, exploring beaches and taking drives through the mountains.

Zimmern is probably best known for his long-running Travel Channel show “Bizarre Foods,” where he introduces viewers to delicacies like buffalo heart or ant eggs. That show has been on since 2006. He says he was introduced to the pleasures of exotic food and travel by his father, who worked in advertising and took his son all over the world with him. “The Zimmern List” made its debut March 13.

For the episode airing Tuesday, Zimmern visited Maine last summer and spent a few days chowing on his favorite local foods. He grabbed a box of doughnuts at The Holy Donut in the Old Port, munched fries at Duckfat and also visited Miyake and Fore Street. He grabbed a whoopie pie at Two Fat Cats Bakery, but says he thinks that scene was cut from the episode because of time constraints.

Andrew Zimmern and his big box of doughnuts outside The Holy Donut in Portland’s Old Port last summer. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

He also ventured outside of Portland for lobster, at Five Islands Lobster Co. in Georgetown and Red’s Eats in Wiscasset.

He also filmed at Standard Baking Co. on Commercial St., a spot he’d visit daily when he was in town to see his father and stepfather. Zimmern said his stepfather was particularly fond of baguettes. Every day, no matter what he got for himself, Zimmern always bought two baguettes. During the filming, he talked about the breakfast treats he loves at Standard Baking Co., bought some and began walking out the door. When he got near the camera he realized he had also bought two baguettes, out of habit.

“I just started crying,” said Zimmern. “I was buying bread for people who were no longer living.”

His stepfather died less than a year before his father did, Zimmern said.

Zimmern also does business in Maine. He has worked with Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants in Litchfield to create spice blends for his online shop, inspired by places he’s traveled.

Andrew Zimmern samples fries with the staff at Duckfat during filming in Portland last summer for “The Zimmern List,” a Travel Channel show about his favorite foods and food cities. Zimmern’s father, who died in 2015, introduced him to Portland’s food scene. Photo courtesy of Travel Channel

While in Portland, Zimmern was impressed with how much the food scene has grown since he started coming here to visit his father, around 2005. At Duckfat, he asked lots of questions about the local cream, eggs, hogs and potatoes used to create the menu.

“It’s interesting that in a state so known for lobster, there are also some of the best cheesemakers and farmers,” said Zimmern.

A couple of weeks before his father died, Zimmern took him out to eat at Back Bay Grill. Robert Zimmern, who at that point was in a wheelchair and didn’t get out much, had been a regular there and considered it his neighborhood spot for great food. When they sat down, Zimmern’s father asked to say hello to the general manager, but he was off. Later in the meal, the general manager, called at home by staff, showed up to say hello and chat with his longtime loyal customer.

“That reminded me that it’s the people that make a restaurant special,” said Zimmern. “I keep going back to Maine because I love the people and because of the way the place makes me feel. And the fact that the food is spectacular.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: @RayRouthier

]]> 0 Zimmern outside of Two Fat Cats in Portland. He visited the bakery for an episode of the Travel Channel's "The Zimmern List" airing Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Travel ChannelTue, 20 Mar 2018 12:34:43 +0000
John Oliver answers Pences’ bunny book with his own, alternate version Tue, 20 Mar 2018 01:36:58 +0000 NEW YORK – John Oliver has trolled his way to the top.

The HBO host’s spoof of a new picture book by the wife and daughter of Vice President Mike Pence was No. 1 on and out of stock as of midday Monday.

“Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of a Vice President” is a tribute to the Pence family’s beloved rabbit. It was written by the vice president’s daughter, Charlotte Pence, and illustrated by his wife, Karen Pence.

Oliver’s book, which he announced over the weekend, is called “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” The story is the same, almost: This Marlon Bundo has fallen for a male bunny.

“There are a few small differences between the two books,” Oliver said on his show, noting Pence’s opposition to gay marriage and other LGBTQ rights. “This is a sweet story about Marlon Bundo falling in love.”

Published by Chronicle Books, the parody was written by “Last Week” contributor Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller. Proceeds are being donated to The Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth, and AIDS United.

It’s not the only current best-seller inspired by the Trump administration. No. 2 on Amazon was James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty,” the upcoming memoir by the FBI director fired last year by President Trump. At No. 3 on Monday was “Russian Roulette,” in which Michael Isikoff and David Corn investigate Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

The Pence book, meanwhile is a best-seller, too, ranked No. 11 on Amazon.

]]> 0, 20 Mar 2018 08:38:44 +0000
Tribeca Festival to host reunions for two films Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:31:05 +0000 NEW YORK — The 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” and the 35th anniversary of Brian De Palma’s “Scarface” will be celebrated with reunion screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The New York festival announced Monday that Spielberg will join Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Embeth Davidtz for a post-screening conversation April 26 at the Beacon Theatre. The “Scarface” event will reunite De Palma, Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer on April 19 at the Beacon Theatre.

The festival will also host an anniversary screening of 1992’s “In the Soup,” an acclaimed independent film directed by Alexandre Rockwell. The largely forgotten release, starring Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel, has been restored after a Kickstarter campaign to repair the remaining, damaged print.

Also slated for on-stage interviews at Tribeca are Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Spike Lee and Alec Baldwin. The festival runs April 18-29.

]]> 0 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" will be celebrated with a reunion.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:31:05 +0000
‘On the catwalk… Oh on the catwalk, yeah. I do my little turn on the catwalk.’ Sun, 18 Mar 2018 23:17:31 +0000 AUGUSTA — As they walked into the Augusta Armory on Sunday, Manny and Alexia Ortega weren’t planning to leave with a cat, but it was not a certainty that they wouldn’t.

The Ortegas, with their children Ben and Carmen, drove from Alfred to Augusta for the final day of the Nauticats Annual Cat Show, a show of The International Cat Association.

People came from as far away as Texas and Canada to show their cats over the three-day event, which also promotes cat adoption and care.

Inside the main hall, Brigitte Pouliot and her sister were preparing the five cats they brought from Montreal for judging. Hers are Persians, and she brought along an American short hair to show for a friend.

Pouliot, who is a senior marketing director for a real estate company, has been breeding Anouchka Persians as a hobby for more than a decade and routinely travels to show them.

“What I want is my line, which is Anouchka, to be recognized as a championship line,” Pouliot said.

One of them, Adelaide, a 9-month-old calico, has already been ranked as a supreme grand champion as an adult, and is currently the 20th best kitten in the world, although that might change before the end of the season in April.

“It’s quite spectacular that she has been able to achieve the supreme grand champion title, which is the highest in TICA, in only two shows because it usually takes four, five or six shows to do it,” Pouliot said.

In competition, cats are considered kittens until they are seven months, 30 days old. Pouliot said she’s continuing to show Adelaide to improve her ranking to one of the best cats in the region.

Showing cats is a way for Pouliot to compare her cats with others and to confirm her breeding program is heading in the right direction.

The International Cat Association bills itself as the fastest-growing registry of pedigreed cats in the world, and is the world’s largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats.

Donna Madison, northeast regional director for TICA and one of the judges for the Augusta show, speaks in the verbal shorthand of the standards of the cat world. For the Persians she was judging, she was looking for a cobby body – one that’s sturdy and muscular – a short tail, small ears and a flat face. She demonstrated the flatness of the face by holding a finger against the face of the cat she was judging.

“We’re looking for roundedness and big eyes,” Madison said. “Very big eyes.”

Both pedigreed and household pets are judged, and they are subject to the rules and regulations of the association. But it’s not all about the competition.

“We have classes for kids where they learn to take care of their kitties,” Madison said.

Some of the cats shown are rescue cats, Madison said, and cats are available for adoption at the shows.

The association also promotes spaying and neutering programs and a cat therapy program.

The shows draw people from all over. In past years, contestants have come from overseas, she said, but none traveled that far this year.

Madison said despite the competition, friendships are made and communities are built. In her years of showing, she has made friends from all over the United States.

“I always have someone to go have dinner with,” she said.

The Ortegas have two cats at home already, 14-month-old litter mates Blizzard and Zap. Both are white with bi-color eyes – one blue and one amber – and one has extra toes; the family refers to them as oven mitts.

Manny Ortega said the drive to the show was a perfect family outing for a Sunday.

The question of adding a cat to the family had not been wholly decided, but Ben and Carmen were excited at the prospect.

Alexia Ortega has had a Maine Coon cat in the past and has a soft spot for them.

“You’re the one who brought it up,” Alexia Ortega told her husband as they walked into the show.

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:;

Twitter: @JLowellKJ;

]]> 0 Pouliot brushes a feline before showing it at the cat show in Augusta.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:25:43 +0000
Vandalized mural by artist Banksy drawing crowds in New York City Sun, 18 Mar 2018 23:05:45 +0000 NEW YORK — British graffiti artist Banksy is drawing crowds to his New York City mural, but for an unfortunate reason.

It seems somebody has added a signature tag to his artful protest of the imprisonment of a Turkish artist and journalist. Plenty of pedestrians were getting a look Saturday at the signings scrawled across the bottom half of his 70-foot-long mural.

The mural bearing the slogan “Free Zehra Dogan” was recently installed on the Houston Bowery Wall, made famous by Keith Haring in the late 1970s.

The mural protests the jailing of Dogan, an ethnic Kurd, after she painted the Turkish flag flying over the rubble of a destroyed town. Dogan, was convicted last March.

Banksy’s mural shows her jailed behind a set of black tally marks representing her days in prison.

]]> 0 Sun, 18 Mar 2018 19:23:24 +0000
Ava DuVernay’s unprecedented journey to ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Ava DuVernay didn’t pick up a camera until the age of 32.

It’s an extraordinary fact, considering the trajectories of most Hollywood directors. Orson Welles filmed “Citizen Kane” at 25. Steven Spielberg was 27 when he made “Jaws.” A 23-year-old John Singleton directed “Boyz N the Hood.”

It was already doubtful that DuVernay could jump from a career in film marketing and publicity so late and without even a film degree to back her up. That she is also a black woman made it even more unlikely.

But in just 13 years, DuVernay has successfully and improbably risen to the upper echelons of the entertainment industry, as a filmmaker, producer and agent of change, breaking down barriers and smashing ceilings wherever she sets her sights.

Now, at 45, she has an Oscar-nomination (for the documentary “The 13th”), a historic Golden Globe nomination (for “Selma” she was the first black female director to get that recognition) and has also become the first woman of color to get over $100 million to make a live-action movie. That film, “A Wrinkle in Time,” with its $103 million production budget, is now in theaters.

The Walt Disney Co. acquired the rights to Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Medal-winning 1962 novel in 2010, and it went through various writers and budget points. The story about an awkward 13-year-old girl, Meg Murry, who travels through time and space, was a notoriously unwieldy one that carried the dreaded “un-filmable” stigma.

“I was shocked that they called me,” says DuVernay. “I’d done ‘Selma’ and ‘The 13th.’ How did they even think that would work? But they did. And when they said I could make her a girl of color, it just grabbed my whole heart.”

DuVernay set off to do the impossible – make a big budget, kids-targeted sci-fi blockbuster with an unknown 13-year-old black actress (Storm Reid, now 14) as the lead.

“I think it’s incredible that Disney made the decision to hire Ava on this and gave her the creative control to cast whoever she wanted,” says Reese Witherspoon, who co-stars in the film as one of the mystical “Mrs.” alongside Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling.

This image released by Disney shows Storm Reid, from left, Deric McCabe and Reese Witherspoon in a scene from “A Wrinkle In Time.” Associated Press/Atsushi Nishijima/Disney

Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling, all hardworking multi-hyphenates themselves, marveled at DuVernay’s tireless work ethic and attention to detail. Once she even sent costume designer Paco Delgado back to hand paint hundreds of eyes on one of Winfrey’s costumes because that’s what she had seen in the concept drawing.

“I was like, ‘I think it’s fine without the eyes? I think it’s ok!’ Winfrey recalled.

DuVernay laughed that Winfrey recounted that moment.

“She came out and everyone applauded for the dress and it was extraordinary,” DuVernay explains. “But I looked and I said, ‘Well on the sketch there were little eyes. Where are those?’ And he was like, ‘Well this looks good too.’ And I’m like, ‘Well let’s go take a look at that anyway.”

Asking for what she needs, and wants, is something DuVernay has learned as she’s gotten older.

“Film is forever,” she says. “It’s cemented. You’ve got to do it right now and it’s got to be the best it can be. So, let’s go back and put the eyes on the dress.”

Witherspoon says she has never met a director who spends so much time talking about others: Acknowledging everyone’s contributions in a cast and crew of hundreds, and then spending weekends talking about other people’s work too, from Patty Jenkins to Ryan Coogler.

DuVernay always has something in the works. She’s afraid if she slows down, it might all go away.

“I just feel like I have a short window in this industry. There is no precedent for a black woman making films consistently. There are beautiful black women directors but there are seven-year, six-year gaps between them,” she says. “Even though people tell me it’s ok, I think it’s all going to stop tomorrow. I want to do as much as I can do when I can. It’s not unreasonable, you know? Tomorrow they can say, `No we don’t want you to make movies anymore.”‘

And indeed there is still that idea that female filmmakers are not given second chances, even when they succeed. It’s something DuVernay thinks about often.

“I look at Guy Ritchie. That guy is bulletproof,” she says. “He can make something that doesn’t work. The next week he’s the director of another thing. I look at him and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic.’ But that wouldn’t have been Patty Jenkins and it won’t be me.”

“Wrinkle” is a film that is first and foremost for children ages 8 to 12, DuVernay says. Before a screening she asked the audience to try to watch it through the eyes of a child – an unusual request for something from an already very kid-friendly studio like Disney, which makes films for the younger set that nonetheless appeal to a wide swath of ages.

And it’s the film she wanted to make, for the 12-year-old her, and for someone like Kaling, who says that she always loved sci-fi but that it never loved her back.

“I’ll always direct things but who knows if that price point ever comes again. I’m ok with that. This is a big swing,” DuVernay says. “But the chance to put a black girl in flight? I will risk it. I risk it for those images. It may not hit now, but somewhere a Mindy Kaling, a chubby girl with glasses and brown skin will see it and it will mean something. Or, a Caucasian boy will see how a black girl says, ‘Do you trust me’ and the Caucasian boy says, ‘I trust you,’ and he follows her. Just to plant that seed and say that’s ok, you can follow a girl? Those images? I’ll risk it. I’ll risk it for that.”

]]> 0 DUVERNAYFri, 16 Mar 2018 16:27:59 +0000
Society Notebook: Women of all colors and cultures come together for a fashion show Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 It’s a small world after all – at least at the annual Women United Around the World Gala at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland.

“We’re not a melting pot. We’re a mixed salad,” said incoming board member Lana Wichmann, an immigrant from South Africa. “Fashion is a universal language that crosses the language barrier. No one needs to explain. We’re all proud of where we came from.”

The ninth annual multi-ethnic dinner and international fashion show March 3 raised $5,000 to support industrial sewing classes for immigrant women in the Greater Portland area, helping them find work with bridal shops or manufacturers or go into business for themselves. The evening’s entertainment began with dance performances reflecting cultures from around the world, from Colombia to China to Sudan. Then 30 local women walked the runway. Most were not models but immigrants, proudly sharing traditional clothing from their motherlands, from Burundi to the Philippines.

“It’s amazing how people’s traditional dress can unite different cultures in Maine,” said Alain Nahimana, executive director of Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.

Following the International Women’s Day 2018 theme of Press for Progress, four local women were honored with Press for Progress Awards at the gala. The honorees were Beth Stickney, co-founder of Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project; Odette Bowman, founding director of A Company of Girls, a nationally recognized after-school program; Magnifique Butera, a Congolese immigrant who founded The Children’s House childcare center in Portland; and Zoe Sahloul, founder and executive director of New England Arab American Organization.

Sahloul commented that each of the nominees is working to bring diverse Mainers together and to encourage women to be role models for their families and communities.

“We all come in different colors, with different religions, representing different communities and political affiliations,” said Sahloul, who escaped civil war in Lebanon. “But we can come together in peace and work with each other in a way that gives back to the community. We all work separately but also in partnership.”

“This is a crucial time for us all,” said Adele Ngoy, a Congolese immigrant who founded Women United Around the World, owns Antoine’s Tailor Shop and volunteers to teach industrial sewing classes. “Women are a force for change.”

“Look around, these women here have endured much, many escaping danger, even death, seeking freedom, arriving with only the clothes on their backs,” said event emcee Tory Ryden. “You are beautiful women, and we are humbled by your strength and resilience.”

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

]]> 0 Beri, an immigrant from South Sudan, and Magnifique Butera, director of The Children's House childcare center.Wed, 14 Mar 2018 16:11:03 +0000
Book review: How Picasso’s ‘she-devils’ changed art forever Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 An “exorcism painting.”

That’s how Pablo Picasso described “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” what some experts consider the first example of cubism and all acknowledge as a primary portal to modernism.

Created in 1907, the painting was so revolutionary that it rattled the artist himself. Picasso rolled up the canvas and stashed it away, stung by peers’ scorn and wrung out by the eight months he’d spent conjuring it in his seedy Montmartre studio. Only Georges Braque, with whom Picasso would soon share an uncharacteristically cooperative partnership, quickly gleaned the canvas’ utter originality. It took years for the cognoscenti to reckon with and admire the way this remarkable work shattered and reconstituted artistic paradigms.

“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is a group portrait of five prostitutes in a brothel. Its semi-sensical planes are spliced and splintered. The figures’ primitive, angular proportions are wildly distorted, echoing ancient Iberian sculptures Picasso had seen at the Louvre, and the two women on the right have faces reflective of African masks that the artist admired. A platter of fruit in the foreground is stony, a curiously off-putting emblem of what should be inviting.

“Les Demoiselles” is “a cathartic painting, a great cry of lust, anger, anguish, and release – a form of black magic in which Picasso summons his demons in order to vanquish them,” writes Miles J. Unger in “Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World.” Unger, a culture writer for the Economist who has also written books on Michelangelo and Winslow Homer, closely chronicles Picasso’s painful but liberating exorcism, the social and aesthetic factors that contributed to it, and the cubism it messily birthed.

If you’re an art lover, this is an engrossing read. Unger draws not just from his own wide knowledge and considered taste but from an imposing array of journals, memoirs, biographies and periodicals. From these he offers a historically and psychologically rich account of the young Picasso and his coteries in Barcelona and Paris.

The author escorts us into the painter’s bare-bones studio, so cold in winter that tea froze in its cup. We accompany the volatile, sparkling-eyed charmer to the slummy muraled cafes and dance halls where artists, writers, journalists and models drank, flirted and quarreled. We stroll the dark streets where muggers lurked in wait for day-trippers eager to sample the hillside Montmartre demimonde on Paris’ periphery. We venture into town to visit the cluttered storefront galleries of sometimes unscrupulous art dealers, and the erudite but combative enclaves of prescient collectors like the Steins.

Picasso was stirred by symbolism, fauvism and the stylistic innovations of, among others, El Greco, Ingres and Cézanne. He was energized by the street-savvy renderings of Toulouse-Lautrec and taken with the winsome savage innocence of Gauguin and, to some degree, Henri Rousseau. He responded also to the literary currents of the time, channeled through André Salmon, Guillaume Apollinaire and other writer friends. But most of all, Picasso wanted to be like no one else. Fiercely competitive, he amplified ugliness to counter the prettiness of his professorial arch-frenemy Henri Matisse. Their quest to be at the sword’s tip of the avant-garde inspired and exhausted them both.

Given his later fame and wealth, it’s easy to forget that Picasso’s first journeys to Paris to become an artist ended with his retreat to Spain, seeking handouts and reassurance from his family even as he ridiculed their parochialism.

But by 1907, Picasso’s Paris buyers had finally come around to the melancholy blue-period paintings redolent of death and mourning after the suicide of his artist and poet friend Carlos Casagemas. Aficionados were also embracing the opium-warmed reveries of Picasso’s rose period. Any other painter, in that situation, would have simply kept churning out those sought-after blues and roses. Finally, a signature style!

Not Picasso.

Though self-centered, calculating, jealous and sometimes cruel, he was also truly visionary – or, more accurately, in an unrelenting quest for whatever vision came next, as long as it was altogether original. With “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” he ruptured the planes of the two-dimensional canvas. In affinity with Cézanne, he asserted the painting as an object in itself, not a mere rendering of objects.

“Les Demoiselles” tore apart and reordered reality, turning a traditional sensual motif into a grotesque, scary grouping of angular naked forms that bust every which way out of their frame, sexually confusing and intimidating us while testing our visual sanity. Unger and others see the work as, among other things, a nightmarish vision of venereal disease, with which Picasso may well have had some experience.

“The women themselves may be singularly unsexy,” Unger writes, “but the rhythmic push and pull to which space is subjected diffuses the erotic charge across the entire surface of the canvas – an instance of what Freud would term polymorphous perversity, i.e., the childish impulse to seek gratification in all sensation.”

“Working mostly at night in the cramped, filthy, ill-lit studio,” he writes, “this man, who thrived on conviviality, was forced to become a solitary pilgrim to a goal he could not see and could barely even imagine. … For weeks on end, these ‘monsters’ were practically Picasso’s only companions as his friends fled and his domestic life spiraled downward.”

Readers enamored of this crucial moment in art history might complement Unger’s detailed telling with the more panoramic and accessible “In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art,” by Sue Roe. The two books together – Unger’s in close-up, Roe’s in the broad view – wonderfully capture how Picasso’s personal history, temperament and aesthetic development combined with the revolutionary currents in turn-of-the-century Parisian culture to bring about this unforgettable depiction of five primordial she-devils, a painting that Picasso’s writer friend André Salmon called “the incandescent crater from which emerged the fire of present art.”

]]> 0"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:34:13 +0000
Dine Out Maine: Sweet (sometimes too much so), whimsical New England-y small plates at Moxy in Portsmouth Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 The woman behind me at Moxy asked her question a few seconds after she accidentally set fire to a cloth napkin. She and her dining companion flapped the flaming rag through the air in a panic before eventually dropping it on the floor and stomping it into a smoldering mess. Everyone’s eyes were suddenly on them. Everyone’s ears, too, because we all heard her take a calming breath, then inquire with a laugh, “So, now that I’ve got your attention: How many of those dishes would you order again?”

Her friend waved a little smoke away and started tabulating plates on his fingers. I also saw diners at neighboring tables turn back to their food and boot up their own mental calculators.

When you think about it, the ratio of good-to-bad dishes is a pretty good metric of success for a restaurant that gives patrons a chance to taste many small plates over the course of a few hours, rather than just one or two larger items.

“We ate seven things,” our neighbor finally replied. “I’d probably eat four of them again.”

But knowing that chef/owner Matt Louis has been a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northeast award an impressive four consecutive years running, that seemed like a low number to me – almost certainly one he would find disappointing.

Louis, who trained with Thomas Keller at Bouchon, The French Laundry and eventually at New York’s Per Se, returned to his home state of New Hampshire a little over a decade ago. After a stint at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel, he and local restaurant developer Jay McSharry opened Moxy in a quirky building in Portsmouth’s Historic District in May 2012. “I actually don’t know if there are any right angles in the entire space, but that just adds a lot of personality to it,” Louis said.

Exposed brick walls painted teal, orange and yellow add to the sense of playfulness throughout the restaurant and prime customers for an unorthodox perspective on small-plates dining. Louis calls his approach “Not Spanish. It’s modern American, with a focus on northern New England history, culture and foodstuffs,” and that’s an accurate enough description. He omits that, with close ties to local food producers, Moxy could just as easily be marketed as a farm-to-table restaurant.

But doing so might risk making the place sound too serious and strip away a little of Moxy’s carefully cultivated whimsy. You can see it in menu categories such as “one fish, two fish,” “clean plate club,” and “bigger & interactive.” It’s also there in occasionally kooky ingredient pairings that go a step too far, yielding tapas you can imagine being served in a carnival funhouse.

Take the cauliflower and carrots ($9), for example. When it arrives at the table, it looks like a straightforward, wintery roasted-vegetable dish made with local overwintered carrots, shaved Tomme cheese and boiled cider, a traditional New England reduction that makes a lively substitute for maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. But dig in, and you discover that every bite also smuggles in an unwelcome stowaway: chunks of an oat-and-pumpkin-seed crumble that tastes exactly like granola. It’s as if someone sprinkled cereal over dinner.

Bizarre contrasts also confuse the hasty pudding frites ($5), essentially fried polenta cubes topped with dueling swirls of molasses BBQ sauce and buttermilk ranch dressing – a combination straight out of someone’s pregnancy-cravings diary.

Or the still-crunchy multicolored Maine carrots ($6), drizzled with pink peppercorn vinaigrette and served in a clear glass bowl coated with an unattractive pink smear of whipped beet yogurt. The kitchen stirs shards of a buttery sunflower seed brittle into the carrots, offering extra crunch that the dish simply does not need. Worse, the brittle tips the equilibrium of the dish toward the too-sweet.

Unfortunately, an excess of sweetness diminishes several of Moxy’s dishes. In the chili pepper cornbread ($4), the restaurant’s homegrown pepper blend adds a hefty mule-kick of heat, but even that isn’t enough to counterbalance the sugar in the batter, not to mention the accompanying maple butter that tastes like cake frosting.

Perhaps the biggest misfire comes from one of the most promising dishes, the caramelized ricotta ($6). Here, Louis and his team take charred onions, top them with a quenelle of their outstanding housemade ricotta – smooth from the addition of heavy cream and a little wild from buttermilk – and serve them together with shatteringly crisp cornmeal crackers as thin as sheets of Airmail stationery. Had they left the dish there, it would have been one of the best items on the menu. Instead, they treat the ricotta like a crème brûlée, showering it with sugar that is torched into a candy shell. It’s overkill, especially with the sweet, softened onions already on the plate.

Even the restaurant’s most popular dish, short rib marmalade ($9), suffers a bit from too much sweetness introduced when the slow-braised beef is shredded and cooked down with shallots, sugar and red wine vinegar. Luckily, the elements still work together, more or less in harmony, thanks to savory components like pickled red onions and a pungent cow’s milk bleu cheese from Brookford Farm in Canterbury, New Hampshire.

Beef short rib marmalade, the restaurant’s most popular dish, features savory components like pickled red onions and a pungent cow’s milk bleu cheese.

The menu’s more savory dishes are, by and large, its most successful ones. One, the Misty Knoll Farms chicken thighs ($14), is a New England-style tribute to David Chang’s now-famous bo ssam lettuce wraps that he serves at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York. Whereas Chang’s wraps are Korean and sizable enough to feed three people, Louis’s are no bigger than a large appetizer and feature pan-seared chicken thighs, herbed crème fraîche, housemade hot sauce and crispy slivers of fried onion.

Another homage, Moxy’s mini red hot dogs ($11), made with local pork from Breezy Hill Farm in South Berwick, are a riff on traditional Spanish bocadillos, the small sandwiches that appear on practically every traditional tapas menu. “I figured, if we’re going to make little hot dogs for our bocadillos, and we’re a mile away from Maine, we should make them red,” Louis said. Served on miniature challah buns and dressed with local cheddar and a streak of bacon-and-Fresno-chili jam, they make perfect conceptual sense and, much more importantly, are a pleasure to eat.

Pastry chef Tyler Elliott’s chewy, molasses-flavored hermit cookie triangles ($8) also fit right in with Moxy’s efforts to anchor its dishes in New England history and tradition. Hermits used to be known for their ability to keep for weeks, or even months, but my dinner guest and I didn’t give Elliott’s a chance to showcase that particular strength. We polished ours off quickly with dripping spoonfuls of the accompanying spiced rum ice cream.

Still, when I think back to my recent meal at Moxy, one dish – probably the simplest thing I ate that night – stands out. Crispy, deep-fried Rhode Island calamari rings and tentacles dredged in buttermilk and breaded in a half-and-half mixture of corn starch and all-purpose flour ($8). “When I was doing my research for Moxy, I looked way back in time,” Louis said. “But for that dish, I had to look at modern times. It’s what (chef and New England food expert) Jasper White told me to do. Not directly, but through his cookbook.” Uncomplicated, as the best tapas usually are, and paired with a bracingly tart, chunky piccalilli, it’s a dish that I would very happily order again and again.

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

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0 triangles are accompanied by a scoop of spiced rum ice cream.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:38:13 +0000
Art review: Work by world-class couple evokes a physical response Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 “Rona Pondick and Robert Feintuch: Heads, Hands, Feet; Sleeping, Holding, Dreaming, Dying” at the Bates College Museum of Art is profound, engaging, disturbing and exciting. It’s also almost over and likely will be the best show in Maine this year, so don’t miss it.

Feintuch is a Bates professor and has work in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art. But don’t get the wrong idea. Feintuch is a New York artist who commutes, and the chance to see his work is rare in these parts.

“Heads,” in fact, is a much rarer opportunity than one might think: While Pondick and Feintuch are a married couple who met at the Yale University School of Art in 1975, this is their first major two-person show, and Feintuch’s first at Bates.

Despite his local footing, Feintuch is an important international artist. Both he and Pondick show with Sonnabend Gallery in the U.S. and across the pond, but she is a worldwide art star – and for good reason. Her sculpture, which combines human and animal elements, is striking, uncomfortably odd and powerful. It’s also some of the best crafted sculpture I have ever seen – and that purview includes classical sculpture that I studied in Europe.

Pondick’s “Wallaby,” for example, is a smooth-as-glass stainless steel with a stylized wallaby body, a tiny human head and a full-size human forearm as its left arm. The figure’s tail juts out straight, making it about 4 feet long. The subtle right bend in the tiny human neck and its gesture down to the left betray a deep understanding of Mannerist painting – the hyper-sophisticated affected style that immediately followed the High Renaissance. The creature seems to be aware of its own disproportion, the monstrosity of its own human arm.

The viewer’s response to a work like “Wallaby” (and therefore any of Pondick’s works) is a blend of physical revulsion and amazed captivation. The Freudian term for this type of oddity is “the uncanny” – a primary vehicle of Surrealism. To encounter something uncanny is to encounter something that is questionably alive. Moreover, this type of psychological response is palpably physical to the viewer, and the physicality of the viewer’s mental response is a basic element to the work of both Pondick and Feintuch.

Sonnabend Gallery, New York; Zevitas/Marcus Gallery, Los Angeles; and the artist
“Wallaby,” by Rona Pondick, 2007-12, stainless steel, 24 by 44 x 10 inches. Photo courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London/Paris/Salzburg;

And while both are technical virtuosos, Pondick’s sense of sculptural finish moves beyond virtually anything in America. Maine museums have plenty of great painting. But we don’t have sculpture like Pondick’s. We see this in her work across finishes: Her strongest works include a milk-perfect, forward-facing painted bronze beaver with a human head, a cast rubber splay-legged marmot with the same close-eyed head hugging the ground with mismatched human hands for arms, and the bizarre rust-colored “Untitled Animal” that looks like a big cat crawling into being from a discarded human leg.

Feintuch’s abilities appear more easily in his earlier works. “Standing with Newspaper” (2007) features a bald standing man seen in profile with his head bent forward, wearing only (white) shorts, holding a newspaper in his near hand. Behind him a simple table remains only partially painted. Feintuch’s touch with acrylic emulsions rivals that of the best watercolorists. The wall behind and the absent shorts act like the white of watercolor paper. The reductive scene gets complicated with open form. It’s a masterwork of feigned simplicity.

Feintuch’s newer work incorporates the sense of volume in a way that activates our physical (rather than just visual) response. We see “Fat Hercules” (2011), for example, from behind. He is bloated, soft-pink from disuse and propped up by a crutch at his side and another at his lower back. Next to the butt crutch is a cudgel Hercules also hides behind his back. The club has a double effect: It reminds us of his offensive ferocity, but also of his personal need to make up for the deficits of his befallen state. As both a potent phallic stand-in and a sign of his increasing impotence, it’s a mixed message.

Pondick’s figures are similarly complex, and she competently spreads out in several directions. Her “Dog” combines a seemingly symmetrical (but nothing here is so simple) and highly-polished yellow stainless steel dog body with a close-to-life-sized human head – a leitmotif of Pondick’s work that, with its closed eyes, we should take as a self-portrait of Pondick’s own head. (It’s also the main event in the little “Mouse,” among others.) It’s part sphinx, part watchdog and part nightmare. The closed eyes hint at the process of casting a person’s head, but also at dreams or death, an idea that carries over to Feintuch’s most iconic works.

“Legs Up,” by Robert Feintuch, 2013, polymer emulsion on honeycomb panel, 28 by 36 inches. Photo courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery, New York; Zevitas/Marcus Gallery, Los Angeles; and the artist

“Legs Up” (2013) might be Feintuch’s most complete image. Clouds occupy the center of the image, with a soft blue sky above and ground-like clouds below. (He is a cloud master.) Between the two layers of cloud is a sliver of a man’s torso and head with a pointing-fingered hand at the edge. Rhetorical gestures such as this hand were a mainstay of Renaissance painting (think da Vinci’s John the Baptist or God’s gesture toward Adam in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel), and they play a key supporting role in both Pondick’s and Feintuch’s work. The legs – two feet with necrotically pole-thin lower legs jutting straight up – of “Legs Up” can read as a symbol of death; and they certainly cannot line up with the torso. Then again, the torso could be a dreaming sleeper, with the hand gesture as a reminder that a dreamer is a type of creative god. The legs, from that perspective, could read in many ways, including as a symbol of someone diving deep into a dream.

Nor is this creative god-like perspective unique for “Heads.” Besides Hercules, Feintuch presents himself as the wine-god Bacchus, again from the back (the big flat pink back is a thing; and it’s brilliantly hilarious), alone with his beloved grapes. We see Feintuch as Bacchus again in “Two-Fisted,” but this time with a more direct reference to Mannerists like Michelangelo (yup), with a deliciously affected left hand (curved fingers and matching gestures). “Two-Fisted,” as well, is a testament to Feintuch’s ability with the brush. The left hand is thrown into relief by the figure’s flat, chair-like back, and it’s complemented by his scratchy swaths of salt-and-pepper hair – an extraordinary passage of painting.

“Heads” is truly a remarkable exhibition on many levels. Feintuch and Pondick are both notably spare, which adds a sense of clarity. Their work digs deep in art history (while the nods are to the Mannerists, the true shadow is cast by the late Philip Guston), but since the work elicits a physical response in the viewer, it’s accessible to anyone. The work is dazzling from a technical perspective (a little star power doesn’t hurt), and it is gorgeously displayed in the museum’s handsome main gallery.

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

]]> 0 Gallery, New York; Zevitas/Marcus Gallery, Los Angeles; and the artist "Wallaby," by Rona Pondick, 2007-12, stainless steel, 24 by 44 x 10 inches.Sun, 18 Mar 2018 17:44:37 +0000
Deep Water: ‘Winter Blue’ by Martin Steingesser Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 This week’s poem offers a different way to think about the snowstorms of the last few weeks. Here, a storm helps the speaker remember “all those snowfalls an occasion / for falling together.” Here, a storm’s “soft blue light” reminds him to praise his longtime love and revel in the ways their love has changed over the years. The poem’s title refers both to the season of the year and to the season of the speaker’s life.

Martin Steingesser is the author of three books, “Brothers of Morning,” “The Thinking Heart” and “Yellow Horses.” He has taught poetry in and around Maine for many years and was Portland’s first poet laureate.

Winter Blue

By Martin Steingesser

Standing at the window

half the afternoon, watching snow fall,

fall and fall in a soft blue light. How many

have I watched this way? Never mind

the shoveling-out days, snow going

from avenues of clouds to gritty streets.

I’m thinking of our whiteout storms,

our first, all those snowfalls an occasion

for falling together—ribald love. Ribald,

from Old High German, to be in heat:

copulate, Merriam Webster says, to rub.

The wind’s blowing hard now, trees

and branches arching, pushing back,

black silhouettes in the last ink blue

light. Fifteen years, and I go on loving

loving you, though more like the trees.

To rub, yes, with a slowness now,

rubbing like close trees, with a patience

for certain winds, leaning

into years, the long, bluing nights.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Martin Steingesser. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

]]> 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:53:36 +0000
From away and gone forever, Elaine Ford proves she knew Maine in posthumously published stories Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 On June 29 of last year, Elaine Ford learned that Islandport Press had accepted her manuscript and would publish her collection of short stories. The next day, Ford entered hospice care to face the final stages of brain cancer. Two months later, on Aug. 27, she died at age 78.

Maine’s literary community will celebrate the posthumous publication of “This Time Might Be Different: Stories of Maine” with a book launch at 2 p.m. March 25, at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. The event will include readings from the short-story collection and a discussion about Ford and her writing.

Ford’s husband, Arthur Boatin, said his wife was pleased to receive the news about her book, despite her failing health. “It was very bittersweet timing,” said Boatin, of Topsham.

Ford wrote novels and taught others to write with creativity, clarity and conviction. Her writing was incisive and sharp, and she told hard truths about Maine, resisting cliches and sentimentality. Her subjects were believable, sympathetic characters struggling with the consequences of their bad decisions.

The new book includes short stories about Maine that she tells with humor, irony and great respect for the truth, however difficult the truth might be to process. Most of the stories are set in Washington and Hancock counties. They tell of a woman who is thinking about leaving and never coming back, a man who is debating robbing the laundromat and other characters who face various life-changing dilemmas. She writes about mud season and late-winter snow, always telling her stories from the perspective of the people who have to shovel it.

The stories contain hallmarks of her writing: lean, unpretentious, funny, evocative of place and populated with people who live complicated lives and who wish to improve them, against hope.

Ford wasn’t from Maine – she moved here in 1985 – but she understood Maine and Mainers, said longtime friend and former Maine poet laureate Baron Wormser.

“If you are from Maine, whether you are born in Maine or not, there is a dilemma or a challenge when you are writing about Maine,” he said. “Maine is a very particular place, and a lot of people go back many generations. You move there and you want to write about it because you live there, but there’s a great question: What the hell do you really know about it?”

Ford managed to write authentically about Maine because she was perspicacious about the human condition, Wormser said. She was perceptive and understanding.

Elaine Ford died last year, just two months after learning that her “This Time Might Be Different: Stories of Maine” would be published by Islandport Press. Photo by Michele Stapleton

“As a writer, Elaine always kept her eye on the human condition. She wasn’t lulled by the facade that Maine can present, and that stood her in good stead in terms of writing fiction that is set in Maine. She didn’t try too hard, so to speak. If you come from somewhere and are excited about being there, you can think you know more than you really know. That would not have been Elaine. She understood and respected boundaries, her own and other peoples.’ ”

As a teacher at the University of Maine, Ford respected other writers’ work and helped her students develop their own voices and become strong writers, said Naomi Jacobs, her colleague at the college. In one instance, that involved helping a student sign with a literary agent. Ford believed so strongly in the student’s writing, she worked with her to be sure she was positioned for success, Jacobs said.

She treated every student with professional respect, said Jacobs. “The students loved her, but they joked about being put through the ringer by Elaine,” she said. “She had an impact on so many people. She took her work very seriously. She was kind, but she knew that kindness involved being honest.”

Ford had an accomplished career. She won a Guggenheim fellowship and two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She published five novels, four of them in 10 years, beginning with “The Playhouse” in 1980 when she was 41, and all with big New York publishing houses.

She had less success publishing her books in the decades that followed but never slowed in her writing, Boatin said. When Ford died, he said, she left five completed book-length manuscripts. In 2015, when she was 76, she also expanded her repertoire, moving into playwriting. She adapted existing short stories into one-act plays. “Original Brasses, Fine Patina” was produced in New York in 2016, and “Elwood’s Last Job” got a production in Portland last year. Both stories are in the new book.

This spring, the Maine Playwrights Festival will be dedicated to Ford for the example of her successful, late-in-life venture into playwriting. The festival begins April 26 in the studio theater at Portland Stage.

Ford and Boatin lived in Millbridge for 16 years, moving to Harpswell in 2001. They moved to Topsham in 2015 when her illness worsened.

While Ford received good reviews and was widely respected as a wordsmith – she had such national stature that The New York Times wrote about her death – her books didn’t achieve best-selling status, and her stories became darker with time. “Elaine was never a smiles-and-happy-endings type of writer, but beginning with ‘Monkey Bay’ (in 1989), her visions seemed to darken,” Boatin said. Her stories were about the bad choices that people made, leading to longlasting and inescapable disappointment. Some publishers may have felt those stories would be harder to sell to readers, he theorized.

Ford just kept on writing, and Boatin kept on encouraging and supporting her. It was her husband’s love and dedication to her that led to the publication of “This Time Might Be Different.”

He arranged the meeting at Islandport to discuss the book, and he didn’t tell his wife about it. He didn’t want to build up her hopes. He only shared the news after Islandport committed to the project. By then, she was too sick to celebrate, but she was pleased, Boatin said.

And he is confident that his wife would be happy that her friends will gather to celebrate her new book – and hopeful that people find it authentic.

“She will, wherever she is, have her fingers crossed that people who know Maine will find it’s true to Maine,” Boatin said.

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

Twitter: pphbkeyes

]]> 0 Ford died last year, just two months after learning that her "This Time Might Be Different: Stories of Maine" would be published by Islandport Press.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:57:07 +0000
Captivated by curling, Maine artist captures the likeness and attention of the U.S. Olympic team Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 The men’s U.S. Olympic curling team got off to a rocky start in South Korea last month, and Bruce McMillan wanted to help.

He’s been captivated by Olympic curling for several years, and while watching it on TV in February, he began painting watercolors of the action. Then he started sending his work to the men’s team via Twitter, along with words of encouragement like “Way to go guys, keep on smiling” and “May the stones be with you. Watching tonight in Maine.”

After a 2-4 record had them on the brink of elimination, the men’s team went on to win a gold medal, the first ever for the United States. Coincidence? Maybe, but the team’s skip, John Shuster, appreciated McMillan’s watercolors so much that he is having prints of two of them made and framed as presents for his teammates. One depicts Shuster kicking his leg in celebration, while the other shows the whole team celebrating, both after wins over Canada.

“Would like to purchase many of your works from the past week,” Shuster tweeted to McMillan, during the games. McMillan tweeted back that he would not sell the works, but wanted to give them to Shuster as a thank-you gift “for all the curling memories.”

McMillan, 70, has seen his work and passions take him all over the map, literally and figuratively. The Shapleigh resident has had a long and critically acclaimed career as a children’s author, penning some 40 books and winning the Maine Library Association’s Katahdin Award for lifetime achievement in 2006. Other winners include Robert McCloskey, Dahlov Ipcar and Lois Lowry.

He’s traveled the world photographing natural wonders for his children’s books. He lived with a family in Alaska for several weeks for “Salmon Summer” and roamed an island off Iceland for “Nights of the Pufflings.” He went to Antarctica for pictures for three books, including “Summer Ice.” His photos have also appeared in a slew of magazines, including Life, Natural History, People, Reader’s Digest and Yankee.


McMillan’s photographer’s eye and passion for life’s dramas drew him to curling during the 2006 Olympics. He watched a very young John Shuster in his first Olympics. Always wanting to see things for himself, shortly after those Olympics, McMillan traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts, for a national curling event. From then on, he was hooked on curling, a sport that captivated Americans last month, partly because it looks like anyone can do it, and partly because the competitors have an incredible level of skill few of us can understand.

One of two watercolors Bruce McMillan of Shapleigh is sending to U.S. Olympic Curling skip John Shuster. Shuster plans to have prints framed for his teammates. The painting depicts Shuster celebrating after his team beat Canada to stay alive in the round robin portion of the competition.
Image courtesy of Bruce McMillan

“I’ve always liked watching people who are really passionate and excited and really know what they’re doing, whether it’s laying bricks or whatever,” said McMillan. “The curling in the Olympics is so good, it’s like a chess match, with all the strategy and precision.”

McMillan has never met Shuster. But he has closely watched Shuster’s ups and downs in a sport where few people know the participants’ names. The Minnesota native was just 23 in his first Olympics, in 2006, on a team that won the bronze medal. In 2010, Shuster was a skip, sort of the quarterback of the team. But his performance was poor and he was actually benched during the Olympics. He kept at it and made the Olympics again in 2014, in Russia. But his team finished ninth.

So expectations weren’t high for Shuster’s team in 2018. In fact, before the 2018 Olympics, he was cut from the U.S. High Performance training program for curlers and formed his own team, “The Rejects.” Shuster lost more than 20 pounds to get into shape – running down the ice with a broom or sliding a stone for hours at a time takes more stamina than one might think. Shuster’s team earned its way into the South Korean games, got off to a 2-4 start, then went on a miraculous run and won the gold.

Since then, they’ve been media darlings, interviewed on network TV morning shows and making appearances all over the country. Maybe because of that hectic schedule, Shuster didn’t respond to requests for an interview for this story.

But Shuster has made time to tweet and call McMillan several times since winning gold. He talked to McMillan about getting those two watercolors, so he could frame them for his teammates. And he also asked McMillan for permission to use a poem McMillan wrote, which he tweeted to Shuster after the gold medal win. Shuster told McMillan he might have a friend of his make prints of the poem, as a way to promote curling.

The poem is titled “Their Gold Journey” and reads: “Five strive, weigh play, hurl curl, knock rock, great eight, hold gold, guys highs, fame came.”


McMillan only took up painting with watercolors about eight years ago, after he was well-established as a children’s author and photographer. He bought watercolor sets for himself and two grandchildren, then 8 and 10 years old, as something they could do together. He now paints regularly and posts his work on his blog.

He paints things he sees – a snowplow was a recent work – and posts his musings and facts he finds interesting. He paints a lot of fruit and scenes of trees and hills and the ocean as well.

All the works appear on his blog, about one every couple of days. Most of the originals are for sale, usually starting at about $100. They can be ordered from his blog.

His Olympic curling watercolors, about a dozen of them, were done from scenes he saw on TV. On Feb. 26, he posted “That Unbelievable Historic Eight End” (an end is like an inning in curling) after the gold medal win. It shows Shuster holding a broom and pumping a fist. McMillan paints in a dreamy, non-literal way, so there are no facial features to be seen.

Children’s author and watercolor artist Bruce McMillan of Shapleigh tweeted to members of the U.S. Olympic Curling Team during February’s Olympics, often showing them a watercolor he did of their matches. He did a dozen curling paintings in all and is sending two to skip John Shuster.

Of the 12 paintings, two are going to Shuster, and five are not for sale, being held by McMillan for a possible exhibit at some point. The other five are for sale on his blog, prices ranging from $115 to $137.

As soon as McMillan started tweeting his watercolors and his words of encouragement to the Olympians, Shuster began responding. Even though he was in the middle of an Olympic competition.

After McMillan tweeted his painting of the men’s team celebrating a win over Canada in the semifinals, Shuster tweeted to him: “Wow Bruce, thank you so much. It’s gorgeous.”

After the team’s first win over Canada in the Olympics, Shuster sent a picture of himself celebrating, with his leg kicking high, to McMillan. “If you painted your rendition of this one, I’d buy it in a heartbeat!” Shuster tweeted.

McMillan did paint it, but wouldn’t take money. It’s one of the paintings he’s sending to Shuster.

McMillan said sending the paintings to Shuster was his way of thanking him for the great memories of watching the U.S. men’s curling team and its dramatic victory.

“It was really a Cinderella story, and I was just so happy to watch it,” said McMillan.

To see more of Bruce McMillan’s watercolors, including his curling scenes done during the Olympics, go to

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: @RayRouthier

]]> 0's author and watercolor artist Bruce McMillan tweeted to members of the U.S. Olympic curling team during February's Olympics, often sharing a painting he made of their matches. He did a dozen in all.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:01:15 +0000
‘Maine in World War I’ is a worthy entry in history series Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 When a copy of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America: Maine in World War I” landed on my desk last fall, 100 years after America entered the war, it raised several questions.

I first started reviewing the “Images of America” series in the mid-1990s when that company was based in New Hampshire. It was then a subsidiary of England’s Chalford Publishing. Beginning in 1993, each title had a uniform number of pages and sepia-colored illustrations – usually vintage snapshots or postcards. At that time, the influx of historical images seemed clever and cost-effective, but over the years, the quality of the individual books proved decidedly mixed.

The arrival of a new title documenting Maine’s entry into the First World War – co-written by Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. and Jason C. Libby – seemed a good time not only to consider the book itself, but also to take a fresh look at the series and its evolution. Arcadia, now based in South Carolina, has a total of 14,338 imprints, with 245 directly pertaining to Maine. Walk into any contemporary bookstore and you will see ranks of red, black and sepia bindings of this series filling whole shelves.

The frontispiece illustration for “Maine in World War I” boasts an idealized American doughboy carrying a rifle and Old Glory – an image that parallels many shot during the Civil War. But almost all the other photographs in the book document real – as opposed to idealized – Mainers and war machines.

Chapter 1 of “Maine in World War I,” “Prelude to War,” shows photos of the British-Canadian recruiting tent in Monument Square in Portland; the interned German luxury liner SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie, at Bar Harbor in 1914; and a graffitied rail car in Maine announcing, “Bangor to Texas” in 1915.

In Chapter 2, we see troops leaving for the European front as well as Peter Neptune, then governor of the Passamaquoddy Nation, meeting with a recruiter. His son, Moses Neptune, a member of the 103rd Regiment, was among the two dozen members of his nation to serve in the trenches. Tragically, Moses was killed in the war.

The book continues with chapters on “Parades, Rallies and Civilian Support,” “War Industries” and “Over There.”

Chapter 5, “Coastal Defenses,” shows the big guns and forts, and even a survivor of the fishing schooner that sank off Cape Porpoise. Finally, the last chapter, “Peace and Remembrance,” depicts monuments to fallen Mainers. Whereas the images in the other chapters are simple and unembellished, this last chapter is the volume’s only romantic section, showing idealized, angelic statues.

I like books where even historians are surprised. I was taken by a portrait of Fireman 2nd Class, Arthur A. Carr of Westbrook, who served aboard the USS DeKalb. Earlier in the war, this ship had been the German raider, SS Prinz Eitel Friedrich, which, in 1915, sank the first American ship in the war, the Maine-built William P. Frye. I’d had no idea before studying the images in this book that the raider had been captured and repurposed by the Americans.

Taken together, “Maine in World War I” is surely one of the best “Images of America” books, with its wonderful photographs, first-rate documentation and rich personal touches.

And given Shettleworth’s hand in it, I’m not surprised. Few writer/historians in our region are more widely published or respected. Since the mid-1960s, he has played an outsized role in Maine, spreading knowledge of our shared cultural history. He is no stranger to the series, either: Shettleworth, journalist, author, former director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and current state historian, is now on his 10th title for the series.

I sat down with him to talk about “Images of America.”

Q: Earle, what do you think of the overall value of the series? I assume it’s positive because you keep coming back.

A: Arcadia Books and the history series serve a very important role in the documentary-photograph gathering process. Each book includes 100 images, many of which have never been published, and gets them out to the public.

Q: Some of the early titles focused on towns were put together by enthusiasts, and in several cases were badly captioned, misdated or misidentified. Recognizing that the books’ editing was in the hands of the author, not the publisher, I thought they made for dangerous historical guides.

A: Yes, they still rely on authors checking carefully, but there has been a substantive overall improvement both in the reproduction of photographs and the entire process. When I go to a bookstore that has an Arcadia display, inevitably there is at least one person taking the time to look at them, often engaged by the old photographs.

Q: Engaged in Maine or family history?

A: Both. And for me, to be part of that is a worthwhile role for a popular public historian. I would not do it unless I thought it had real value.

Q: Tell me about your co-author.

A: Good teamwork is everything. Jason C. Libby is a native Mainer, a member of the Maine Historic Preservation Council, a teacher and writer with an extensive knowledge of Maine, and has his own photographic collection.

Q: An excellent match. But why World War I and Maine besides the obvious centennial?

A: Last year, as state historian, I delivered a lecture on the entry of the United States and Maine into World War I in 1917. Building up to that, I had uncovered a large body of untapped pictorial material, including primary photographs of the home-front training camps and “over-there.” Indeed, before the war, Germany produced most visual postcards for America, and now came a flowering of local photo postcards.

Q: Your father (Earle G. Shettleworth Sr., 1899-1986, to whom the book is dedicated) served in World War I?

A: Just barely, and I did not know until going through his papers after he passed. I found he bought a Liberty Bond as a student at Deering High School. He volunteered in a shipyard and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. However, the war ended before he got to fly.

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

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Actress Yara Shahidi joins U.N. campaign Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:21:26 +0000 NEW YORK — Actress Yara Shahidi wants young people to know that little by little, it’s possible to make a difference in the world.

The star of Freeform’s “Grown-ish” is one of a group of influencers across the globe taking part in a movement called Little x Little.

Yara Shahidi Associated Press

There are more than 2 billion people worldwide born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s making up Generation Z.

Little x Little’s goal is to inspire as many of those Gen Z’ers as they can to do 2 billion tiny acts of good by 2030 in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Participants are encouraged to post their own efforts to do good on social media – using #LittlexLittle – and share ideas, which range from reducing meat consumption to ditching the car and biking instead.

In the two weeks since a “Little x Little” anthem video launched on YouTube explaining the project, it’s been viewed more than 15 million times.

Shahidi, 18, says to look no further than this week’s student walkout to protest gun violence and the upcoming March for Our Lives rallies as an example that young people are socially engaged and want to make the world better.

She also says there’s a benefit to the abundance of time they spend on their phones.

“Because of our interconnectivity, we see people that aren’t directly in front of us and understand there’s something greater to contribute to,” she said.

Her own personal examples of doing good include contributing money and time to causes within a mile radius of her own home.

]]> 0 Shahidi, star of "Grown-ish" is joining influencers across the globe to inspire young people to do 2 billion positive acts by 2030. Omar Vega/Invision/APSat, 17 Mar 2018 18:07:26 +0000
Matt Damon denies published report of move to Australia Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:01:25 +0000 LOS ANGELES — A publicist for Matt Damon is batting down reports that the actor is moving to Australia with his family, and that such a move would have been inspired by anger over President Trump.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney had reported that Damon was buying a home in Byron Bay near actor Chris Hemsworth. The two recently appeared in “Thor: Ragnarok” together.

Damon spokeswoman Jennifer Allen said Damon has been to Australia a lot recently.

But Damon has not bought a home there nor is he relocating there, she said.

]]> 0 Sat, 17 Mar 2018 17:45:55 +0000
In New York, ‘We’re all immigrants’ on St. Patrick’s Day Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:54:39 +0000 NEW YORK — Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar joined in as Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue came alive with the sound of bagpipes, trumpets and lots of green Saturday at the 257th running of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Several bagpipe bands led a parade made up of over 100 marching bands after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke briefly, calling it a “day of inclusion” and adding: “We’re all immigrants.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, marched with police Commissioner James O’Neill under sunny skies as some spectators sipped coffee to stay warm several days before the start of spring.

Varadkar watched the parade at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before joining the march himself.

The parade, which began at 11 a.m., typically lasts nearly six hours. An estimated 150,000 marchers were to make the 1.4-mile trek past Central Park, the Cathedral and Trump Tower.

A big event since the mid-1800s, the parade has been a celebration of Irish culture and of Irish immigrants, who once faced nativist calls for their exclusion from the workforce – and from the country – when they began arriving in the city in huge numbers during the Irish Famine.

In the 1990s, the parade’s organizers were involved in annual fights over whether to exclude openly gay groups from the march.

Those battles are now history.

This year, at least two groups in the parade have banners identifying marchers as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

For the 167th time, the lead group marching in the parade was 800 members of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, of the New York Army National Guard. The regiment, once predominantly made up of Irish immigrants, first led the parade in 1851 as a deterrent to anti-immigrant violence.

Judy Hughes, whose father used to march with the 69th Infantry Regiment, also known as the “Fighting Irish,” said she’s been attending the parade “since I was a little girl.”

Her husband, Bill Hughes, a retired police officer who marched in the parade for 10 years, looked on as a band marched by.

“It’s better being on the other side,” he said.

This year’s grand marshal was Loretta Brennan Glucksman, chairman of The American Ireland Fund, a group that has raised millions of dollars for philanthropic projects in Ireland, including funding for integrated schools for Catholic and Protestant children in Northern Ireland.

She was riding along the parade route in a Central Park horse carriage, driven by a family friend.

]]> 0 bagpipe unit representing the New York State Police takes part in the St. Patrick's Day parade on Fifth Avenue in New York on Saturday. Several bagpipe bands led a parade made up of over 100 marching bands after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke briefly, calling it a "day of inclusion" and adding: "We're all immigrants." Associated PressSat, 17 Mar 2018 17:11:14 +0000
Vatican bows to pressure, releases retired pope’s letter Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:58:12 +0000 VATICAN CITY — The Vatican bowed to pressure Saturday and released the complete letter by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after coming under blistering criticism for selectively citing it in a press release and digitally manipulating a photograph of it.

The previously hidden part of the letter provides the real explanation why Benedict refused to provide commentary on a new Vatican-published compilation of books about Francis’ theological and philosophical background that was released to mark his fifth anniversary as pope.

Benedict noted that one of the authors involved in the project had launched “virulent,” “anti-papist” attacks against his papacy and teaching. He said he was “surprised” the Vatican had chosen the theologian to be included in the 11-volume “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications said Saturday it was releasing the full text of the letter due to the controversy over the “presumed manipulation” of information when the volume was launched Monday, on the eve of Francis’ anniversary.

It said its decision to withhold part of the letter at the time was based on its desire for reserve “not because of any desire to censure.”

The so-called “Lettergate” scandal has embarrassed the Vatican for the past week and fueled the growing chasm between supporters of Francis’ pastoral-focused papacy and conservatives who long for the doctrine-minded papacy of Benedict.

The Secretariat for Communication, in particular, was accused of spreading “fake news” for having omitted key parts of Benedict’s letter and digitally blurring a photograph of the document where Benedict begins to explain why he won’t comment on the book.

The scandal began when the prefect of the office, Monsignor Dario Vigano, read part of Benedict’s letter aloud at the book presentation. In the parts Vigano chose to read, Benedict confirmed that Francis has a solid theological and philosophical training and he praised the book initiative for showing the “interior continuity” between the two papacies.

But Benedict’s full caveat was never made public in the press release or the photo, leaving the impression that the retired pope had read the volume and fully endorsed it, when in fact he hadn’t.

]]> 0, 17 Mar 2018 16:43:11 +0000
Reflections: When golden years sneak up on us, remember our spiritual roots Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 What do we need to navigate the “golden years”?

I am well into my seventh decade on this planet. “How did this happen?” my young inner self asks. We were the generation that didn’t trust anyone over 30, remember? Yes, we were naïve and full of ourselves, but this march of time seems truly mysterious. I notice that the decades slipping by do not guarantee that we will obtain wisdom, or humility, or even self-awareness. And just as we did not seem to respect our elders as 20-somethings, aging in itself still does not automatically command respect in our culture.

How does one navigate the time one has left, when it seems that most of our life is behind us, when we hear of illness and death in our contemporaries every day, when the world seems to be falling apart, when species are dying, when our own body betrays us in frailty and dis-ease? I see grandparents taking care of grandchildren as well as aging parents. As my mother used to say, “The golden years aren’t really so golden, are they?” It seems that just when our physical strength is ebbing, life keeps asking more of us, not less.

I remember in my 20s when my teacher used to always be talking about surrender and letting go. We spent a lot of time meditating and in spiritual practice to find the still point within. Now I feel like all of that spiritual work was in preparation for this time of life. For what is grief and loss, if not letting go? How does one live with a barrage of loss and bad news without finding a still point within, without a connection to something eternal, without unconditional love?

I remember when my mother was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and I was reading the list of symptoms. Depression was listed as one of them. As I watched her decline over the years, I often thought of that list and wondered how they could call depression a symptom, when it seemed like a natural response to such a diminishment of one’s precious physical vehicle in the world.

And yet, I have known more than a few people living with chronic pain or terminal illness who did not crumble in despair, who rose to a new level of strength and gratitude. Most of the people I know in that situation do have some sort of spiritual foundation to draw upon, as well as a strong support network of family and friends. Sometimes suffering can draw a person deeper into a struggle, which forces a sinking into faith, and a search for the eternal. However, I have also seen people just give up under the crushing weight of their suffering. Is the difference feeling loved and held in community, or is it the interior grounding in one’s faith? I don’t know the answer, but I know that we could do a much better job of creating community for those who need it the most.

It seems that all religions are preparing us for adversity, illness and death. And yet, this getting older sneaks up on us. We never think it will happen to us. Inside we don’t feel “old.” My father-in-law is 96 and doesn’t understand people reacting to his various complaints as symptoms of being old. In his mind he is not old. It is a fine line we tread between acceptance of certain physical realities, yet continuing to remain hopeful and engaged in life. My father-in-law may be an example of an optimist, but to me we need more than optimism to navigate this part of our lives. We need a strong heart to be able to cry with our brothers and sisters in their grief and loss and to be able to see beyond our own concerns and pains to hold the suffering of others. We need unclouded eyes to be able to see the beauty all around us: in the flight of a bird, in our grandchildren’s eyes, in the silent testament of the trees. We need to hear the small still voice of God calling us gently and quietly to take time for silence, rest, and renewal. We need to touch the infinite, which gives us strength and hope when all appears to be crumbling. We need to taste the divine presence, which gives us the knowing that we are more than our physical bodies and that we are held in love beyond anything we can imagine in our minds.

Rev. Cathy M. Grigsby is an Interfaith minister who teaches at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, is the co-founder of the Interfaith Ministers of New England, an artist, a spiritual director, and a retired art teacher. She can be contacted at:

]]> 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:42:40 +0000
Vatican alters photo of retired Pope Benedict’s letter Fri, 16 Mar 2018 23:49:23 +0000 VATICAN CITY — The Vatican admitted this week that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.

The Vatican’s communications office released the photo of the letter Monday on the eve of Francis’ five-year anniversary. The letter was cited by Monsignor Dario Vigano, chief of communications, to rebut critics of Francis who question his theological and philosophical heft and say he represents a rupture from Benedict’s doctrine-minded papacy.

In the part of the letter that is legible in the photo, Benedict praised a new volume of books on the theology of Francis as evidence of the “foolish prejudice” of his critics. The book project, Benedict wrote, “helps to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, with all the differences in style and temperament.”


The Vatican admitted to The Associated Press on Wednesday that it blurred the two final lines of the first page where Benedict begins to explain that he didn’t actually read the books in question. He wrote that he cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis as requested by Vigano because he has other projects to do.

A Vatican spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, didn’t explain why the Holy See blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict’s tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.

The missing content significantly altered the meaning of the quotes the Vatican chose to highlight, which were widely picked up by the media. Those quotes suggested that Benedict had read the volume, agreed with it and given it his full endorsement and assessment. The doctoring of the photo is significant because news media rely on Vatican photographers for images of the pope at events that are otherwise closed to independent media.

Vigano read parts of the letter during a news conference launching the volume, including the lines that were blurred out. A journalist who attended the presentation, Sandro Magister, transcribed Vigano’s comments and posted them on his blog. But Vigano didn’t read the whole letter.


The Vatican didn’t respond to a request to see the full text.

Most independent news media, including The Associated Press, follow strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos.

“No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph,” read the AP norms, which are considered to be the industry standard among news agencies.

Vigano heads the Vatican’s new Secretariat for Communications, which has brought all Vatican media under one umbrella in a bid to reduce costs and improve efficiency, part of Francis’ reform efforts. The office’s recent message for the church’s World Day of Social Communications denounced “fake news” as evil and urged media to seek the truth.

]]> 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:49:23 +0000