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AUG 2018

It’s Summer In The City

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August Events at Eastern Cemetery Sunday, August 12 - 3 pm to 7 pm FREE

Spirits Alive is partnering with Greater Portland Landmarks to celebrate the anniversary of Captain Lemuel Moody’s 1846 burial in Eastern Cemetery at our free open house. 3:00 to 5:30 free tours and conservation demonstration 5:30 talk and tour at the Portland Observatory 6:30 reading of Moody’s obituary at his tomb in Eastern Cemetery by John York, his 4th great-grandson! Regular tours every Wed., Sat. and Sun. at 11 am, and Thurs. at 5:30 pm. Tickets $10, students & seniors $5, children under 12 free. Tickets are available on Eventbrite or at the gate (cash/checks only please). Contact Tours@spiritsalive.org to schedule a private tour.

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Hackin’ The Net By Ted Fleischaker / Publisher If your household is like ours, you could wallpaper a couple rooms with the offers you get for internet and TV service in a year. I know at our house, we sometimes get two or more a week --- all claiming to be “special for our best customers” or “best deal in town” and on and on. But seriously, what do you need to do for good internet, and should you stay with your current provider or maybe “shop it” and see what’s out there? My biggest advice first: Use extreme caution if you do call or click on any offers, even to find out more, because (while it may be illegal, depending upon the circumstances) we have had a number of folks over the years who merely wanted info but found their household “gazumped”. That’s a British term used there to describe an unethical home seller who accepts an informal offer to sell a home, then raises the price. Around our house, it also means when any company pulls a fast one on you. Thus, make sure, if you contact one of those firms making an offer you do not accidentally say or click anything which may even remotely authorise them to move your service to their firm, and possibly hold you to a contract you may not want. It is, in most cases, illegal and in all cases it’s unethical, but it’s also a pain to get changed back. Beware! OK, so we got that over with. What are some positive bits of advice we’d give? Like anything (think clothes, cars, bicycles, skis or even paddleboards) not everything will fit everyone’s looks, styles, abilities or body. And just like getting a too-tall bicycle you can’t even sit on, jeans three sizes too loose which will fall off walking down Congress Street, or skis so long you can’t carry, much less stand up on them, you do not want to sign up for something that’s not the right “fit” for what you need online. My advice is to do an informal look around in your home or office first. Grab a pen or pad if need be and answer questions such as: How many folks will need to be online at the same time? How will we be (or are we now) connecting? Do we want to switch from wired to WiFi internet? If we are empty nesters, do we have heavy users here a lot, like kids, grandkids or a lot of guests with iPads and laptops who visit and want to stream movies, play games or communicate? Also, ask what you, yourself use the internet for. Some folks (see last month’s column about cord cutting) watch all their TV and films online from places like Hulu, Amazon or Netflix. Others just check e-mail once or twice a day and rarely log on to much else. Still others listen to radio via the net and download their morning newspaper, too. Or they telecommute and work from a home office every day. It’s all about what you need and use the internet for. Just remember, like buying size 28 jeans so you will “look cool” when you need 32s to have enough room to breathe, eventually you will abandon the too-small ones for the right fit and realise you had it wrong. In the case of internet, if you “slim down” to a plan with either a small data cap or too slow speed, you will constantly be frustrated. Of course, just like the too big jeans meaning you are gonna lose your pants, buying too fancy a plan will mean you are wasting cash if you rarely use the internet or only send a few e-mails or check Google for the hours of your fave restaurant. Again, it’s all about the fit, which is why I suggest a list. You’d not shop for anything without knowing the size you need, so do that here. Next, there are the “claims.” Too often the mailers say “fastest speed available”

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or “lightning fast” or “unlimited data” but down below there are some of those small type disclaimers. How to deal with those? First, find out what internet you have now. I’d be willing to bet every reader knows what size her or his jeans are or how many pounds of hamburger they need to make a meatloaf for their family’s dinner, but how many readers know what their current internet package includes? You do need to know what you have now or you can’t compare. You can find out what speed and service you buy by looking at your monthly bill. Or better yet, surf over to either www. speedtest.net (below right) or www.fast.com (below left) and do a test. Unlike the bill which says “this is what you are paying for” those tests will show what you are actually getting in real time. If you are buying say 100 Megs of download speed and that test shows you are only getting 46, then you need to call your current provider and find out why. Keep in mind that speeds are averages and vary over a day by quite a bit, depending how many people around you are doing things and just general conditions --- especially if you are using a WiFi connection and there are others who may be logged on when you test. But a test average will give you a basic idea. OK, so you have determined you pay for 100 megs of download speed, are getting close to 100 but feel you may need a change? That’s when you should shop. If you feel you’re paying too much for internet, check and see if there’s a better deal. But I’d start with my own provider because, afterall, they already got your business and they want to keep it. Most firms (the one we deal with for example) have whole “retention departments” whose sole job it is to keep customers from fleeing elsewhere. Many times, they have the power to drop your price or jump your speed up to the next tier or kick in some TV channels or a phone line if you just ask. They will not always be able to say “yes” but you’d be surprised what latitude most retention folks have, so look up the number on your bill and call your provider. Just ask the first voice who answers to connect you to the retention department, as only they have the magic ability to cut a price or add a service gratis. Don’t settle for that first voice as 99% of the time, you’ll be wasting your breath. You can also check and see what other options might be out there. In Portland everyone from Spectrum / Time Warner to Consolidated Communications (the former FairPoint) to a group of others offer service. www.broadbandnow.com (next page) is a good place to compare because they not only list a few basic prices, but attempt to say how much of the city each covers. Like everything, they do not always get it right at first glance, so read thru the speed and price numbers and you will find some ideas you might consider. Also, do not forget the data caps I mentioned earlier. They are much more a “thing” with mobile internet (think smart phone plans) and these days they are being moved up, or in many cases, eliminated, but you should still be aware they exist. A data cap is a way the firm you buy from can limit how much data you consume. Think of it like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Some folks eat a plate or two. Others linger and eat six plates, so the pricing is based on an average. Same with internet. The family with four kids from 11 to 20 will likely consume a whole lot more data than the retired grandparents down the block, but the work-at-home childless couple in the next apartment might use more data than the others combined.

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Companies need to “build out” with some headroom, but with telecommuting, data hungry video and game use increasing all the time, some folks might just hit the ceiling. If you do, likely you will get a notice from your provider asking you to slow down till your next billing cycle. If you comply, nothing will change. If you fail to rein in the movie habits or surfing for a few days, you might find yourself throttled, meaning you can still go anywhere online you wish, but your speed will be cut (sometimes greatly) to save data consumption. Think of it as taking the “local” bus after the “express” is full. If this happens to you routinely already, you should shop (or pay your present provider) for a higher cap or unlimited plan. Just remember in the end you do get what you pay for, just like the car ad that says a “brand new Honda, only $239 a month” always has some of what are called “terms and conditions.” Be sure to read and understand those small type limits before you sign up! Finally, in that same ballpark, know the other particulars before you re-sign with your provider or jump ship. We are happy right now with who we buy from and while right now is not forever, whoda thought in the late 1990s when a firm called Telocity brought the first DSL service to our home in the Midwest (at the grand speed of two megs, compared to the sloth-like 56 K dialup we had) that we’d ever see, much less afford, speeds well over 100 Megs?

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Beyond The Forecast

By Jack Sillin / Weatherman & Meterology Student Hello everyone!

It’s been a hot and humid end to July here in Maine after our early month heatwave. Dew points in Portland have regularly exceeded the 70 degree mark --- more typical of Miami than Maine. This month’s “Beyond the Forecast” column will dig into the stuffy airmass, the feature primarily responsible for it, and what the “air you can wear” means for us as we approach the peak of hurricane season in late August / early September. Humid air in Maine can be traced to one of two places: either the tropical Atlantic, or the Gulf of Mexico. This most recent airmass has been brought to us straight from the open waters of the tropical Atlantic, as shown by the map that’s below and looks like a bunch of spaghetti. What does that map tell us? The data shown is what’s known as a “backwards trajectory”, which answers the question “where did the air at a given place and time come from?”. For this map, I’ve picked Portland as the location, 1000 meters above ground level to give a sense of the low level airmass without interference from terrain / other surface-related abnormalities. The start time is the morning of 26th July, when dew point values were right around 70 degrees. The coloured lines show where air parcels located 1000m above Portland on the morning of 26th July came from over the previous week. Notice a trend? Our airmass was 100% tropically sourced over the open waters of the Atlantic, where easterly trade winds blew parcels originally from Europe or Africa across the ocean until they were located north of Puerto Rico, at which point they made a right hand turn and zoomed up the East Coast to us. So why has our air been coming up from the south as opposed to from the west as it usually does here in the Mid Latitudes? The answer has to do with a feature known as the Bermuda-Azores high, also sometimes known simply as the Bermuda high. This high is a semi-permanent reflection of some of the global circulations you may have learned about back in grade school (anyone recognise Hadley / Walker cells?). Air generally rises in the tropics and mid latitudes, and generally sinks in subtropical and polar regions. Generally sinking air will create generally higher pressures, resulting in a feature known as the “subtropical ridge”, where ridge refers to a ridge of high pressure. The subtropical ridge is not one continuous feature that circles the earth. Instead, it’s a conglomeration of ridges of high pressure, loosely draped around the earth roughly around 20 degrees North. However, these ridges can strength-

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en, weaken, and shift position/orientation at any time based on shorter term weather patterns. The Bermuda high is part of this conglomeration and behaves accordingly. It’s almost always present in one form or another, but its strength, position, and orientation vary from time to time. If the Bermuda high is always present, and is also responsible for our humidity, why isn’t it always humid? The answer lies in those shorter term variations. The high has been unusually strong over the past few weeks, and has also been displaced unusually far to the west. The result is an unusually strong pipeline of northward moving tropical air that instead of flowing over the Gulf Stream offshore, is instead flowing over the East Coast itself. So will the pattern continue heading into August? It’s hard to say for sure. Subseasonal predictions (between two weeks and two months) get a lot trickier in the Summer months, when weather patterns in general are more loosely defined, and it gets harder to pick out the signal from the noise. That being said, like many things in nature, the atmosphere loves inertia, so unless there’s some event (read: giant storm) somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere to shake up the pattern, don’t expect too much of a reversal quite yet. All indications are a strong, westwardly displaced Bermuda high will continue to be a prominent feature moving into August, though of course that doesn’t mean we’re stuck with humid misery for weeks on end. Day-to-day weather patterns and fronts will offer the opportunity for brief respites here and there. What I’m talking about is more the longer term (think five to seven day) averages. We’ll have more humid days than nice days so long as this pattern remains in place. So what does that mean for hurricane season? Maybe a lot, maybe nothing (that’s not a phrase you’re tired of hearing from the weatherman is it?). Generally they follow trajectories similar to those of large scale air masses. So when we get air from the Arctic, we get storms from the Arctic (that then sometimes supercharge themselves with Gulf of Mexico moisture). When we get air from the Midwest, we’ll get storms coming across from the Midwest (a fairly typical weather pattern). I bet you can guess what’s coming next. When we get humid air from the tropics, we’ll also get storms from the tropics. There is an important caveat to this though. Unlike the Arctic and Midwest where there are always storms of some sort, there aren’t always storms in the tropics. It’s only if a tropical cyclone can actually develop (a delicate process that only rarely produces a full-fledged hurricane) that we’d need to worry. But, if a hurricane does form somewhere in the tropical Atlantic, watch out because more likely than not that storm will be headed in our general direction. As of this writing on 27th July, there are no signs of tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic basin over the next week or so, and the basin is likely to remain fairly quiet heading into the first part of August, before an uptick of some sort is likely roughly the third week of August. What does this mean for you? There is no immediate threat of a tropical cyclone impact, but conditions could be favourable heading toward the latter half of August. Now is a great time to make sure you have a plan ready to put in place in case a storm does head our way. Know if you would need to evacuate, and if so where you would go. It’s also a good idea to stock up on supplies you might need in the event of a storm now, before everyone flocks to the stores just before the storm hits. Bottled water, batteries and non-perishable foods are all good things to have on hand heading into hurricane season. After all, if you don’t use your supplies for a hurricane, you may be glad you have them for blizzard and ice storm season. -Jack

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Jack’s Weather Terms Updraft/Downdraft - Updraft and Downdraft are terms given to currents of rising and sinking air, respectively, inside thunderstorms. Updrafts fuel thunderstorms by transporting warm, moist air upwards through the Atmosphere while Downdrafts serve as the storm’s exhaust system, taking cool air and its precipitation back down to the surface. Updrafts form first in a thunderstorm’s development, and are often quashed by the Downdraft as it develops later. However, if there are strong enough mid/upper level winds, the Updraft and Downdraft can be spatially displaced (located in different places) resulting in a storm capable of sustaining for longer periods of time. Outflow Boundary - An outflow boundary is the leading edge of a thunderstorm’s outflow, or rain-cooled air. The boundary often shows up on radar as a thin line of weak echoes moving out away from a thunderstorm. Outflow boundaries often produce shelf clouds, which are photogenic “shelves” of low hanging cloud protruding from the base of the thunderstorm itself. Outflow boundaries are often accompanied by breezy conditions, and in the strongest storms can signal the beginning of damaging wind gusts.

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Layne’s Wine Time

Layne V. Witherell / Up Portland Wine Critic

My neighbours are from away. Your neighbours are too. Portland is not only a tourist destination, it is a new living destination. Many of the places the new people to Maine come from allow them to gleefully trot their favourite bottle of wine into a restaurant with no questions asked. Portland, however, is not one of those places, unless your local restaurant does not have a license to sell alcohol. We will look at several of these places and pair their dishes up with thoughts on the ideal bottle you can bring in with you. Additionally, there will be thoughts about several places whose minimal wine lists have been eclipsed by their food. If there were a local “BYOB Hall of Fame,” it would feature the long-departed Food Factory Miyake at 129 Spring St., the tiny one-man-band beginning restaurant of Masa Miyake, the emperor of sushi greatness in Portland. Fishermen rolled in within moments off the boat with catches that you toasted with your best wines. My list of classic Portland BYOB’s (Most will provide glasses and will open your bottle, but make sure you leave a good tip.) include these:

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SAENG THAI HOUSE, 921 Congress St. Crispy duck hot basil stir fried with mushrooms in a basil and garlic sauce. You have both basil and duck, two great combos. Bring on a bottle of Cline Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, Calif. ($10 retail) or the Ancient Vine Zinfandel, Contra Costa County for more finesse. ($13 retail). Or order Crispy garlic soft shell crab. There is a rich sauce here that screams out for a flavourful pinot noir. MacMurray Pinot Noir, Central Coast ($14 retail) will both dance with the crab and catch up to the flavours of the sauce. Or, you could blow it out of the water with a bottle of Flowers Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Calif. ($60 retail). This is as ethereal as pinot noir gets for under $200 a bottle! SCHULTE AND HERR, 349 Cumberland Ave. All German, all the time, all homemade. Make a reservation here as they are small and good. Their Spaetzle with caramelised onions as well as their fish gulasche soup with tomato, paprika and onions are both fantastic dishes. Add a Dr. Loosen QBA Riesling, Mosel ( $12.99 retail). His wines are elegant and revered. Can you ask for more? Our hostess and co-owner advised us where to purchase your “adult beverage” nearby. “There is a bodega across the street where you may shop for a Natty Daddy,” she chuckled in perfectly German accented English. We chose to bring an Allagash Triple. A great ale for terrific German food. TU CASA, 70 Washington Ave. Down home Salvadoran cooking meets hipster Washington Avenue. As you would expect, lotsa rice, lotsa beans. Their Carne Asada steak dish features “a huge portion of rice and beans”. Didn’t I just say that? Cacique Maravilla Pipeno Vino Tinto Pais, Valle Bio Bio, Chile, one litre ($17 retail). Quick! Pull up this winery’s website. The place and the people look like they live in this funky, authentic restaurant.

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TWO LIGHTS, Cape Elizabeth Lobsters and more lobsters, and the billion-dollar view. We brought a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, ($20-25 retail). You can bring a $10 bottle of chardonnay, but it won’t do this experience justice. Bring glasses; good glasses. I visited Sonoma-Cutrer in 1981, the year they opened, to see and taste what all the fuss was about. “Fanatical” was the word that came to mind. They are still a benchmark for elegant refined chardonnay. This is Summer: enjoy it while you can. SUSAN’S FISH -N- CHIPS, 1135 Forest Ave. Here is where you get your fry on. Clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops and even fried lobster tail on a stick. It is also a wonderland of lobster gear, memorabilia, photos, and lobstering artifacts covering floor to ceiling. This is as old school as Portland can get. Reasonable dinners featuring all of God’s little oceanic creatures with some good pasta and slaw sides. If they ever go out of business the Maine Historical Society needs to use this place as a diorama of a lobster fishing village. For BYOB head to the grocery store and get a cheap “California” Champagne (Andre is super old school) together with a quart of orange juice (they don’t have any) and do not forget the 32-ounce Hurricane cups as theirs are small and don’t do a mimosa justice. Do not bring Prosecco. If I were them, I would throw you out if you did for Prosecco is a way too fashionably modern touch. Enjoy. And finally, two that should be B.Y.O.B. because when the food jets past the wines it is either food take out time or “give up the license time”. HUONGS at 267 St. John St. They have eggroll. They have pho. But their masterpiece is their whole lobster in ginger and garlic sauce. I would crawl across smarmy St. Johns Street for this dish. The problem is that their cheesy $6 glass of house wine sucks. And The Shop at 123 Washington Ave. I keep a picture of this never changing little chalk board list on my phone. The oysters and razor clams are first rate but the monotonous “Piu Fizz” Prosecco and Gruner by the glass are both total yawners. The beauty of each of these restaurants is that they are authentic in their own way. Don’t forget to leave a good tip.

70 Washington Av.

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Food For Thought... Something old, something new, and both were wonderful. That would be my summary of this month’s two restaurants: Benkay (who recently moved their East End location to 16 Middle Street) and Highroller Lobster Co. (open at 104 Exchange Street). Technically both are changed, but not new, places because Highroller has been a food cart since 2015 and Benkay merely moved a block up India Street and around the corner from the historic building they used to occupy to a brand new place on Middle Street. So what did we like about them both? A simplistic answer would be “about everything” but we probably should provide a bit more information, so here that is. Highroller Lobster We had not been to this new spot on Exchange Street since they opened the doors a few months ago at the location which, for a hot second, housed the Portland Meatball Company, right next door to Timber Steakhouse, but friends from the Midwest were visiting and wanted lobster rolls. What better chance to try something new and (hopefully) show some visitors from the land-locked centre of the country what real Maine lobster is like. Fortunately, we were not disappointed, as Highroller lived up 100 percent to its name and reputation from the food cart days. In fact, so excellent is their food that one of the visitors who is not a seafood fan and ordered what the menu calls “The Highburger” ($11) was blown away. He not only proclaimed it wonderful, but added, “This is the best burger I ever ate... and at a seafood place, no less.” That really does say something. The menu at Highroller first appears to be painfully small (a la the old “cart” maybe?) but in truth it’s exactly concentrated on what they do... and they do it all well, as the five of us discovered. Not only was the burger praised, but the lobster rolls ($19, shown below) several of us had were offered with one of nine

different dipping sauces --- literally ranging from traditional mayo and drawn butter to honey dijonaise and a curried ketchup, neither of which I can no more imagine on lobster than I could anywhere else where I did not want the main dish’s flavour overwhelmed. But I will confess, I did not try these. To go along with the main dishes, Highroller offers some great options, including what they call just “Bisque” ($10, or bread bowl $12) which the menu says is butternut squash, lobster meat, cream, sherry and fresh herbs. It was not only delicious, but very fairly priced for what it contained. There were also some “highfries” which came in a cup ($4) or basket ($6) size and were wonderfully served hot and spiced with Old Bay Seasoning. Suffice to say, like the soup, they vanished from the table in very short order. Though we did not try one, the Highroller offers Caesar salads, a BLT and for those unsure, “The Surf & Turf,” which is a burger topped with a full portion of lobster meat and a pricetag of $23. To see the whole menu, visit Highroller’s website at www.highrollerlobster.com Before we move on to Benkay, though, we need to mention Highroller has several dessert options (all $5) and an extensive beer list. One of the visitors downed several of the local brews, giving life to Highroller’s menu line which says, “We order the very best stuff we can get our hands on every week, from Maine, New England and away.” He agrees whole-heartedly. This reviewer didn’t do beer, but did love his lobster roll and found it easily beat the last ones we had at some of the Commercial Street spots so many tourists crowd into. We also loved the atmosphere but need to mention if you do not ar-

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rive early, you might face a wait for a table, as even on a weekday just before noon they were lined up for the great food. Expect to pay about $20-$25 for a whole meal, though one could escape for about half that with a hot dog or corndog ($6 each with awesome bun) and cup of the fries, though you will miss all the fun of the lobster rolls and other menu items!

less. Probably my biggest failure at Benkay is my own --- not knowing what is in all of the options and being a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to branching out from my comfort zone.

The Highroller hours are 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. Mondays thru Thursdays; 11 a.m. till 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, (but only drinks after 11 p.m.) and Sundays 11 a.m. till 9 p.m.

To make your way thru the entire menu, visit www.sushiman.com and do come hungry. Unlike many sushi spots where I have eaten before, Benkay’s portions and quality make sure I not only leave full and satisfied with what I have eaten, but they leave some change in my pocket as well... even after a well-deserved 20 percent plus tip for the staff.

Benkay The big star at the new Benkay is not the larger-thanlife Japanese sculpture which greets guests at the door, but the sushi that graces the plates and the superb staff that serve it. And what sushi it is --- served in over 30 varieties and winning all sorts of accolades --- from best sushi in town to one of the 40 best places for sushi in New England --- but to this reviewer it is just great food. And to add to that comment, it’s also affordable. We moved out here from the Midwest a few years back and since there’s no coast anywhere close to Indiana (aside from Lake Michigan), the whole freshness issue was in play out there. But more than that, when you could get sushi it was at inflated prices, since flying the fish from places like Maine to the midlands does not come cheap. While Benkay is not cheap, either, it is, shall we say, very fairly priced and less expensive than sushi was in the old home, but more importantly, it’s made fresh and with care and quality we never encountered before. In fact, like many folks, we were impatiently waiting for the new Benkay location to open as there was a few month gap between the last maki rolls at the old one and this sparkling new spot right at the base of Munjoy Hill in behind Micucci’s. But the wait was worth it. The new location sparkles and the staff is front and centre so you can watch their work and admire not only their ability, but what ends up on the plates. I will confess I have recently eaten at the new Benkay twice and I can see myself sliding slowly into a happy rut of ordering the same thing each time. In fact, the last visit, I showed the photo (on this page) from my first lunch there to my smiling waitress and said “bring me the same thing!” She did so happily, and just as happily, I ate every last bite. In addition to my choice of rolls and other dishes (do not sell the marianated beef or Shrimp Tempura short -- they are wonderful) the lunch included some wonderful Miso Soup. As a person raised on soup with almost every meal, finding that was also a plus. But Benkay not only has all the big bases covered, they look for and cover the smaller ones, too. There are forks for we folks who struggle with chopsticks, both regular and lower sodium soy sauce, plus service so fast that getting in and out for a lunch hour is not only doable, but can leave time for a leisurely meal between the ordering and the bill. Speaking of the bill, they have the pricing posted on their website but my fave lunch with all the bells and whistles was $17, though one can eat for a whole lot

That’s why next visit I’ll get one thing I have had before and let my staffer help me pick the remaining three on my plate of four. Otherwise, I will still be holding up the photo in a year and never trying something I might like even better!

Probably the only down-side to the new Benkay is that parking is pretty limited on the surrounding streets with all the construction going on nearby, or costly in the Ocean Gate Garage next door. Hours are weekdays from 11.30 a.m. to 2 for lunch, then they re-open from 5 p.m. for dinner. On weekends they are open right thru from 11.30 a.m. Oh, and if you can’t easily get to them, Benkay is on 2dinein.com so they will deliver to you. However you get it, it’s some of the best sushi we have ever enjoyed. A FEW MORE BITS & BITES Just a few more food words before we wander off in search of new spots to try... ---As mentioned last month, the Portland branch of Bob’s Clam Hut opened with no fanfare, but great clams and more in mid-July at the corner of Washington & Cumberland avenues. Seating (Just 24 seats inside, but more on the patio in decent weather) is limited, but the staff is great and the food’s as good as at the original in Kittery. If the place is nuts-to-butts (afterall, this is season), carryout is a great option. Regardless, do get a “frequent clammer card” which gives you freebies after so many purchases. Welcome to Portland, Bob! ---It is rare that a place I recommend after a visit or two gets a frown later, but we have sworn off Espo’s on outer Congress Street for a bit despite my glowing review last issue. Reasons are three: Two recent dinners there brought tons of food, but it lacked salt and real flavour, ie, it was bland. Maybe a different cook was out back or something, but it was somewhat “lifeless”. Also the dinner service the last time we visited in late July was s-l-o-w to the point I feared they’d not caught, much less killed the chicken for my Chicken Parm. No one ordered anything special, but it still dragged terribly at 6.30 on a Monday. And finally, if you have a restaurant in Portland we do have some warm Summer days. The heat and humidity inside Espo’s were overwhelming what air conditioning they had (keeping the window in the kitchen and patio door both open probably did not help) so we not only had a slow meal, but a hot, sticky one as well. Even one of the table’s diners who ordered a pizza said it was limp, not crisp, which ain’t good. I’ll go back and give ‘em another chance as the calamari and all the rest were great but not till Fall, Winter or till they get the AC fixed! ---A lot of adjustments going on in the food scene so take note... Two Fat Cats Bakery has decided that to do Portland’s best treats their staff needs a bit of time off, so they are no longer open Mondays. That just leaves six days a week to visit their India Street or SoPo location and grab a great pie, whoopie or millionaire bar. It’s worth the trip, just don’t show up on a Monday! And if you’ve not yet tried it, do not miss the Duckfat Friteshack at 43 Washington Avenue, behind the Washington location of Coffee By Design. Despite a limited menu, you can get all kinds of the famous fries, poutine, and original milkshakes, along with changing specials! They’re open every day from noon.

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Who You Were May Not Be Who You Want To Be; Evolution Tattoo Removal’s Owner Explains We all talk about career changes, but on the peninsula almost no one can claim quite the switch made by Jesse Herrick, owner of Portland’s and Maine’s first business dedicated solely to removing tattoos. Called Evolution Tattoo Removal, the owner, a former equality analyst (who also holds a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkley) told Up Portland that after doing engineering and lasers at locations as diverse as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and ATK Space Systems, and raised billions of dollars for clean energy companies on Wall Street, he was sick of finance and wanted to find and use a different kind of laser to change people’s lives. “Remember that for any of us, who you were, may not be who you are or want to be today. That tattoo you so proudly got when you were in school or with your first girlfriend may not at all be relevant now, so we can remove or lighten it,” he told us while giving us a tour of his new facility at the corner of Middle and Hancock streets. He and his staff, including Conor Page and Hope Maxwell, all said they love tattoos. “We do not dislike tattoos, but we might not relate to an old tattoo and might want it lightened, so an artist can draw a new one, or in some cases it’s owner may want it totally removed. In the past, there were few options which were affordable. The medi-spas do offer, in some cases, to remove tattoos, but after analysing their business models, I found too many clients were being gouged, making the removal process just for the uber wealthy.” Featuring the triple-wavelength Astanza Trinity laser system, Jesse said he plans to specialise in advanced laser tattoo removal and combining cuttingedge technology with expertly trained staff members to deliver results. “Evolution Tattoo Removal uses safe and effective laser technology as a tool to help our customers feel better about the art they wear. We love tattoos and are most definitely going to get more ourselves, but sometimes people grow out of tattoos, or perhaps the tattoo

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doesn’t turn out as we originally envisioned. Laser tattoo removal is a positive tool that can help someone erase a regret or make room for awesome new artwork, fade down an existing tattoo for a cover-up, or transform a tattoo by removing specific elements. Our Trinity laser is capable of treating tattoos of all colours on all skin tones.” So what precisely do Jesse and his crew do? And how does it work? In its simplest form, they use a laser to break up the ink which makes up a tattoo. That broken down ink becomes smaller and smaller in size with each treatment so eventually the bits are small enough to be carried away by the body’s normal waste removal systems. In short: That girl whose name you got done so long ago, but who pissed you off can literally have her name head down the sewer! But there are other reasons to lighten or change a tattoo, and the crew at Evolution said they are working with a number of the area’s tattoo artists. Why? “Because we can lighten an existing tattoo and then the artist can re-design and work with what’s left. Everybody has a past and what was an outlaw thing, now is a professional thing or an art thing, so people want to make changes,” they said. In addition, someone with tattoos might need some or all of them removed to be able to join the military, which has regulations as to where and how many a soldier or sailor can have. Or they may be going for a major job and find their chances to be hired better without so much, or any, ink showing.

So who do Herrick and crew think will be their most frequent customers? “We will be treating people from all walks of life and a broad spectrum of ages,” they said, adding treatments at Evolution Tattoo Removal will be “Nonablative,” which means they work by heating up the underlying skin tissue (without harming the surface) so that a client’s body will produce new collagen as the ink is broken up and the tattoo fades. Asked to describe the feel, the crew said “rather like having a rubber band snapped against your skin,” so not painful. “The difference between what we will do and what most medi-spas offer is that we are just doing tattoo lightening and removal, whereas they may do some tattoo work, but concentrate on botox treatments and facials, along with hair removal and skin problem

solving,” Jesse said. To find out more about the new venture, visit www.evolutiontr.com or drop by at Middle and Hancock streets.

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Eric’s Optimal Corner Eric Hilton / Optimal Self Community Health and Wellness Center Hi, this is Eric Hilton, Owner of Optimal Self here on Congress Street in Portland. You may have read my wild and crazy articles documenting some of my health and fitness challenges that I have put myself through in order to discover and heal myself. This is one of those articles. It is an honour and a delight for me to be able to share my recent experience where I fasted for 14 days. Last year you may recall my 7-day fast that I spent on a mountain top in solitude; that was wild! This past May, I began a 14-day fast in order to go deeper into the study of my cleansing. One usually asks, “Eric, why would you do that?” Well, I deal with many on-going health and stress challenges from my life, including my time in the military. Finding the tools that are readily out there in the world had not been working, so I set out to go deeper into my healing, to discover the raw depths of what’s going on inside of me. I have been on my healing path for years now and this past Spring, I embarked on yet another leg of my journey. On 1st March, I began a four-month cleanse, culminating in the 14-day fast. With much planning and preparation, I was successful! Let me tell you all about it. With the help of my assistant, Lynette, we established a great plan that we hoped would guarantee the best results. We prepared a schedule leading up to the fast with a waning food plan to lessen any shock my body might experience when removing all food and liquids aside from water from my diet. I packed all of the proper gear for whatever I might encounter: whether it be the elements or in the event things went wrong. The mission was to complete 10 days without any food (just water) followed by four days of minimal liquid nutrient integration to prepare my body to begin consuming food again.

I would tire and fatigue easily, even getting light-headed when standing up too quickly. Besides that, I felt great! Throughout the whole fast, I was in a deep state of calm and peace. I didn’t have all the daily distractions and stressors which allowed me to find great stillness in the moment. I was able to connect with nature and to have immense gratitude for it. For myself, I am a spiritual man, I was able to maintain a constant connection with my higher power and the beautiful innocence inside my spirit. With the successful completion of the water-only portion of my fast, I began the four-day nutrient reintegration schedule that consisted of liquid probiotics, carrot juice, collagen protein and flax seed oil. While my daily consumption was far less than what one would normally eat in a single meal, the intention was to teach my gut to digest again and restructure a brand-new, healthy gut. During this time, I started to get a little energy back. I developed my new Jungle Rehab Body Weight Routine, which is 30 each of push-ups, air squats, sit ups, bridge lifts and mountain climbers to reactivate the strength of my muscles. What made these last days the most interesting was the work I did in my dreams. Because my sleep was adequate, I was put into a state of lucid dreaming during sleep. This allowed me, in my dreams, to be an active participant and to utilise my dreams to do some deep emotional healing and to develop a better understanding of myself. Upon the completion of my fast, I accomplished everything that I set out to achieve and more. Weighing in at 156 pounds, feeling cleansed and purified, I was re-inspired to move confidently on in my life in a new direction. Everyday, I recorded a nice little video documenting everything that I was learning. If you would like to watch the whole fasting video, you can find it on youtube under “Eric’s 14 Day Fast” or follow the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTji5wanXU Since my return, I have rebuilt myself through a new diet, new training and proper supplementation. The four-month cleanse leading into the 14-day fast acted as a “death-rebirth” experience. Now I feel clean, strong and ready to tackle the next turn of the spiral on my path. Thank you for reading!

On 28th May, I was dropped off at the place where I endeavoured to further my self-discovery: a sparse, octagonal, healing temple (thank you, AirB&B!) in Brattleboro, Vermont. It was secluded and surrounded by nature, which promised the right setting for my journey. During the first days, with no alarm clock and only my body’s natural rhythms and the sun as my guides, I was sleeping for 10 to 14 hours a day! That was great! Once I was awake, I established daily routines to help me in my process. Every morning I would wake up and pray; I would do a deep squat to wake up my hips followed by five each of push-ups, air squats and sit-ups to awaken the rest of my body. From that point, I would go for a beautiful walk up some nice nature roads to activate my legs and to maintain the cleansing pump of my cardiovascular system and muscles. Throughout the rest of the day, I would focus on my spiritual reading, do my Vipassana meditation for an hour and use my time in isolation to receive from my great state of clarity how to strategise taking my life into a whole new direction after my fast. Around Day four, my body just told me: “You are good. You have all the sleep you need,” and there was no more nap-taking or lengthy sleep cycles. Over the entire 14 days, I never hungered once. I found that the pain of hunger lies within my mind and my deep attachment to food. I started the fast weighing 172 pounds and, on average, I lost two pounds a day. Because I was not eating,

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The Standard Reviewer

By Andrea Rouda / Up Portland’s Film & Theatre Reviewer

Some Winners Are Losers When it comes to movies, the sad truth that we often learn too late is that not all award-winners are winners. And while sometimes they may hit one out of the park, a stellar director or writer can still turn out some real schlock. Accolades aside, I found the following four highly-acclaimed films to be sorely lacking, making me think the real award-winners are the marketing departments and PR firms who manage to get these films in front of the right faces. Avatar (2009) Avatar won a coveted Oscar for Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects, and was nominated for six others including Best Picture and Best Director. It won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Drama and best Director, and was nominated for two others. Still, when I saw the trailers it looked like a dog to me, and so I passed. But because of marital vows taken decades ago ago, I finally caved in to my husband’s unrelenting desire to see it, albeit quite a few years after its theatrical release. After all, he insisted, it was directed by James Cameron, a very big deal guy. And all the ads cited it as one of those “must-see films” that you simply must see. Fortunately, I must-saw lying on my living room couch, so while the ridiculous inanity unfolded on the TV screen I was quite comfy and could run to the bathroom if the nausea got too bad. And wow, did it ever. I thought I had seen dumb movies before, but Avatar redefines the genre. The plot is King Kong meets Jurassic Park meets Lost meets The Wizard of Oz, but not nearly as good as any one of them. There are giant blue people with flat noses and very long tails who live on a planet called Pandora. Words like “flux vortex” and “unobtanium” and “floating mountains” are in the script and the actors say them with a straight face. The usually lovely Sigourney Weaver looks really bad and acts worse, as if this group of aliens are even more disturbing than the kind she was used to. If you missed this ginormous blockbuster -- it broke several box office records and became the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing even Cameron’s own Titanic, which had held the record for 12 years -- and decide to go for it, be sure to have some Pepto-Bismol handy. It’s that awful. Besides the sappy plot – love conquers all – the worst thing about it is that it’s set 150 years into the future and people still smoke cigarettes! That seems harder to believe than the floating mountains and the tails. Plus, the blue people still kiss the same way on Pandora as we do here on Earth, surely another oddity.

Foxcatcher (2014) This movie made me hate wrestling even more than I hated wrestling before I saw it. I say this because you should know in advance that Foxcatcher is all about wrestling and has nothing to do with foxes: neither catching them nor wearing them as stoles. Instead it’s all about beefy men lying on the floor, grappling with one another, grunting and sweating. (There is a lot of sweating.) Beyond that, it’s the true story of a sick and twisted heir to a fortune named John DuPont, as in the DuPonts, the American branch of the family descended

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from Frenchman Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and one of the richest families in America. Director Bennett Miller received the prize for Best Director at Cannes that year, and the film received five Academy Award nominations and pretty much unanimous critical acclaim. I still hated it. The usually comic Steve Carell wipes out years of being funny by playing the lead weirdo, complete with a set of bad false teeth, a fake too-big nose and an odd gait reminiscent of the zombies in the graveyard dance in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. (And BTW, Michael Jackson was Mr. Normal compared to this DuPont guy.) But hey, the role earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and an actual Golden Globe to take home, so he’s likely not complaining. The co-star is Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, a former Olympic gold medal wrestler now down on his luck. He accepts a tempting offer to live and train at DuPont’s Pennsylvania estate for reasons we never understand. While Mark is permanently bummed-out, his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also an Olympic gold medal wrestler, is much cheerier. Dave, married with two kids, eventually joins him as a trainer at DuPont’s estate. Things go along sweatingly until – SPOILER ALERT – Dave is shot out of the blue and at close range by the nutty DuPont. He dies, spilling a lot of bright red blood onto the bright white snow. Foxcatcher is very disturbing while also being glacially slow and oddly boring, with no redeeming qualities unless you are interested in how to lose 12 pounds in 90 minutes using a Schwinn Airdyne exercise bike. (Pedal really hard.) Also interesting was seeing a shockingly ancient Vanessa Redgrave as DuPont’s mother. She was only on screen for a few minutes, and while she looked like she might keel over any second, she added some desperately-needed dignity to the proceedings. Aloha (2015) This film’s director, Cameron Crowe, is no slouch. He started his career as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine. He later debuted as a scriptwriter with the screenplay of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, wrote and directed Jerry Maguire, possibly Tom Cruise’s best movie and one of my personal favourites, and won an Oscar for the screenplay of Almost Famous. Just goes to show you never know, because his 7th directorial effort was Aloha, and, well, it was truly forgettable, although not really forgivable. Unless you are in traction and can’t get to the remote and someone else turned this on and then left the room, there is no respectable reason to see Aloha unless you have the hots for Bradley Cooper. Looking better than ever and dominating the screen in long, loving close-ups, Cooper plays some sort of military contractor with a shady past from a deal gone bad that we never fully comprehend, probably because the writers never fully wrote it. But that’s okay, because the entire film is ambiguous and incomprehensible from start to finish so it fits right in. There are some giant names here, including Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and John Krasinski, but don’t ask what the heck any of them are doing or why. It’s all a big mess, and it takes place in Hawaii; hence the title. (I guess if the setting were Israel they’d have called it Shalom.) The army is involved, along with a rich industrialist, some secret nuclear warheads and a really confusing rocket launch gone awry. Throw in a couple of love scenes to keep you awake and you’ve got the picture. Literally. Without giving too much away, I’ll simply say that this guy over here is that kid’s real father, and this other guy sort of still loves her, even though she loves him more. But then, he also likes her and she likes him too, but she’s pissed at him. And for some reason one guy doesn’t speak, so subtitles are needed. There’s a little boy who goes around spouting Hawaiian folklore, and some actual Hawaiians who are moving sacred bones from one mountainside to another. There is fog, a dance party, some sacrificial moonlight stuff, and the leading man’s extra toe for excitement.

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While the overstuffed plot promises to sort itself out at some point, it never does. As my friend who suffered through the movie with me said at the end, “Obviously they were all on Ecstasy when they wrote the script.” Finally, something made sense! The other thing that made sense was that it bombed at the box office. Moonrise Kingdom 2012 I think we can all agree that falling asleep during a movie is a bad sign and, fortunately, a rare occurrence. This only happens to me when I’ve had too much wine or have gone to a midnight movie, and it’s not Rocky Horror Picture Show. Neither of these things were the case when I opted to see a matinee of Moonrise Kingdom after downing several cups of coffee and not having a speck of alcohol since dinner the previous evening. There’s only one explanation: The movie’s a sleeper (and not in a good way) even though it won director Wes Anderson an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay that year. The considerable talents of Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray are squandered in this oh-so-quirky modern fairy tale from Anderson, a director bestowed with cult-like status by film buffs because of his other quirky efforts (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel). It was a hit at Cannes, which should have told me something. All the rave reviews got me there — it made it to the top ten lists of many reputable film critics that year, including Roger Ebert (now deceased) whose opinion I had always taken as gospel. It was also nominated for Best

Picture at the Golden Globes, too. Go figure. The story centers on the burgeoning romance between two 12-year-olds, so right away you ask yourself: who cares. Seriously, there are a lot of kids in this movie, most of them wearing odd uniforms. So many, in fact, that watching the film feels like being a counselor at a sleepaway camp. The young stars portray dorky misfits who bond instantly and decide to run away together, escaping their weird parents. Off they go through the woods, maps and binoculars in hand, and set up camp on an island that is ostensibly in Maine but turns out to be Rhode Island in the credits. Naturally, all the grown-ups look for them. That’s the plot. Just for fun and to have something exciting going on, there’s a big storm brewing for the entire movie, but alas I slept through it and woke up only in time to see the resulting damage. (Didn’t look too bad, a building or two were felled.) Be forewarned: Bill Murray looks really old and is not at all funny. Frances McDormand has about six lines. Bruce Willis is great but not nearly the man you once loved. A cute dog dies, and I’m hoping that was a stunt. Everyone looks dumpy and dowdy, the film quality is dark and dreary, the dialog is muffled and garbled, the sound track is classical music, the seats are so comfy and...... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Processed Media By Randy Dankievitch — TV Critic / TVOvermind In 2014, the gaming world exploded when tiny independent studio Hello Games took the stage at E3, the year’s biggest gaming conference, to announce their latest title, No Man’s Sky. A studio known for smaller, arcade stunt-racing games took away the collective breath of the industry with the first trailer for their space exploration game. A title with the lofty ambitions of providing an endless universe for players to discover, No Man’s Sky aimed to be the first truly endless game, offering players the opportunity to explore the cosmos, surviving the harsh conditions of alien worlds and discovering all the game had to offer in the 18 quintillion unique, procedurallygenerated planets the game’s algorithm is capable of creating.

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For two years, players drooled over screenshots and trailers, building enormous hype for a five-person studio’s ambitious little homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. And when it finally released in the Summer of 2016, the game fell extremely short of expectations, to the point thousands of people submitted negative reviews, refund requests – and unfortunately, death threats to the homes and families of the British studio’s employees. No Man’s Sky seemed to collapse instantly under its own hype; the dynamic immersive experience Hello Games promised was not to be found in the repetitive, narrative-less adventure game players were delivered on launch day. In the time since, No Man’s Sky has become a case study of both game development, and the marketing of titles on the horizon: after all, the line between good intentions and deceptive business practices in game development can be very thin. Often, large parts of games will be scrapped last minute because they are riddled with bugs, or highlighted features and systems stripped away simply because the developers don’t think they fit in with the philosophies that define the game’s core gameplay loop. For many reasons, No Man’s Sky became a lightning rod of controversy, sending the developers underground, where they remained silent – and more importantly, kept working on their game – for two whole years. Since 2016, No Man’s Sky has seen three major updates, adding 30 hours of narrative content, completely redesigning how players interact with the game’s seemingly endless numbers of worlds, be it with gameplay elements, new vehicles, or the addi-

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tion of capital freighters, which add layers of macro and micro management in the space simulation. During that time, a small cult following of fans have continued to enjoy the game, giving an amount of slack to the developers to realise their idea the general public was not willing to concede; and the results, for the most part, were generally positive. However, the stink of unfulfilled promise still infected the discourse around No Man’s Sky, even as it went through numerous drastic changes. It was unclear how Hello Games would find that hypothetical reset button with the public consciousness; two years of public silence only made that task more difficult to navigate. As rumours of a new update swirled earlier this year, whispers that No Man’s Sky was going to shock the gaming world brought back the feverish anticipation of early 2016, when the game’s imminent release electrified fans thinking they were seeing the next evolutionary step in gaming. Then, like a bang, Hello Games released a trailer for No Man’s Sky Next, simultaneously breaking their public silence with interviews in multiple publications, including Waypoint and The Guardian. The message they were sending was very clear: No Man’s Sky Next was finally going to deliver the game players thought they would have 24 months before, adding full multiplayer, completely redesigned graphics, and an entirely new system of introduction and progression through the game’s ever-expanding set of systems and possibilities (like building a massive underwater space base, for example). As the game’s update crept closer to the July release date, it seemed that maybe, finally, Hello Games’ might be able to make good on their promise of the best space game ever. When the update went live 24th July, No Man’s Sky immediately jumped into the top ten watched games on Twitch, as the core community leapt at the opportunity to showcase the game’s new features, and presumed improved quality, to the detractors, the curious, and the skeptical alike. What they were met with is a wonderful, frustrating encapsulation of modern gaming: while the update offers all the promised features, finally unlocking the game’s true potential as a meditative exploration of the cosmos – one that can now be enjoyed with friends – it also embodies the many inherent problems of modern games, and just how alienating “live” games (a.k.a. games that regularly update and rebalance their features) can be to the core gamers who keep these types of games alive. With Next, Hello Games regenerated the game’s entire universe: many people whose bases were on bountiful planets full of colourful creatures and lush, diverse materials were now barren and dead, or transformed into something dangerous and lacking in the necessary resources to survive, or escape (not to mention the game’s update changed how weapon, ship, and exo suit upgrade work, rendering dozens of hours of progress for most players utterly useless). Then, widespread issues with saves being lost began to ripple through the community, as did a bug where players would fall out of their massive capital ships upon exiting a specific menu, plummeting to their deaths in the cold of space in an instant. Laden with tiny imperfections, the excitement of the update was self-tempered by the game’s unstable state upon release, turning anticipation into frustration as players wait for updates to be pushed out fixing the many surface-level bugs in the new build. No Man’s Sky is certainly a chance at redemption for Hello Games, now operating with a much larger team of 25, and without the inherent pressures of Sony (their original marketing partner) attached. And it’s definitely an update worth the wait: the first time I climbed out of my new space ship onto a new planet, I was blown away by just how much the game has changed, and for the better. But an update laden with issues is not quite the successful launch Hello Games was hoping for: and although they’ve already begun patching these issues, the underlying issue of trust is not instantly healed by the state of this game’s update (not to mention some of the game’s fundamental changes were not well explained ahead of release). Next may make No Man’s Sky a better game, but is it too late? Like it or not, Hello Games has put itself right back on the hot seat, offering itself up once again as a test subject as to whether games can ever achieve, or even deserve, a chance at redemption.

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Up Portland is edited in Portland and printed the last week of every month in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We may be contacted at the e-mail or phone number below. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy and fairness, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors. Liability is limited to the cost of said ad. Ads not cancelled by published deadlines may be billed at agreed-upon price. Ads may be edited or rejected for content at the discretion of the publisher. All items appearing in Up Portland, as well as the name, logos and design are copyright 2018 by BBS, A division of High Speed Delivery Fork Ltd. & Ted Fleischaker and may not be reproduced in any form without prior written approval.

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on politics and general life philosophies. Cultural differences are almost as pronounced with our friends visiting from sister states as they are from travellers coming from outside U.S. I’m always struck that most Americans, my self included, know only one language well and everyone everywhere else seems to be fluent in multiple languages.

Mark: My Words By Mark Gatti / Mark’s Hotdogs Change is constant in our small city. Perhaps the biggest change I have seen over the last couple of decades is much larger groups of tourists visiting Portland. As Portland welcomes more cruise ships, we have become a destination city, particularly in Summer / early Fall. Throw in all the visitors coming by jetliner, car, bus and train – and it’s no wonder our streets are filling up. With people coming to visit from all over the world, as well as from our sister states, it gives Summer here a real cosmopolitan feel. The change is so great that I sometimes wonder if I’m living in a totally different place this time of year, as compared to late Fall, Winter and Spring. On a personal level, I love listening to all the different accents and languages in my close proximity. It’s fun to chat with our guests from away about their foods, clothes, weather, music, outlooks

With so many people visiting us, it keeps a lot of us natives in the mindset to enjoy the delicious banquet Mother Nature serves in Maine during the Summer. Although pretty busy this time of year, my wife, friends, and this writer are making sure to enjoy great hikes, boating, fishing, and other opportunities so bountiful in Maine. One of our simple pleasures is cruising on our bikes to a nearby beach, taking a refreshing dip in the North Atlantic, then pedalling home --- all done within a two-hour timeframe with no planning or fuss! Changing gears, I’ve had a few people inquire lately concerning any mishaps or accidents involving my hotdog stand, and could I mention them in this column. Well, sure. Luckily there have been no major calamities. But indeed over 35 years some close calls have occurred. Back in Spring of 1983, before I had even started this career, the hot dog cart almost ended up in a pond. My dad and I had finished building it and were taking it on the road for the first time to see how it towed behind my vehicle. We were pretty excited and apparently distracted for the maiden test drive. So much so that we both forgot to ensure that the cart was latched properly to the trailer

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hitch. About a mile into the journey we hit a pothole and the stand jolted off the hitch. We were going about 35 m.p.h. at the time. As a result, we watched in horror as the hot dog cart veered off to the left at a high rate of speed, zoomed down a large manicured lawn and miraculously stopped just feet from a pond. Luckily, my dad knew the man whose yard had been unceremoniously invaded by my hotdog trailer. No damage was incurred to either the trailer or the grass, but some ribbing and bruised egos prevailed for a time thereafter. During my first two weeks of business another near catastrophe unfolded. At the time I was putting up a small lightweight umbrella to provide shade. Being a real greenhorn, I wasn’t securing the umbrella to the stand properly. While plying my trade on the first windy day, a strong gust of wind suddenly blew the umbrella up into the sky. As it made it’s downward decent it bounced right off an elderly gentleman as he was tooling down Exchange Street on a moped! Luckily for him and this writer the umbrella was so light that it didn’t even alter his course. Like some superhero in a movie, he kept right on chugging down the street without even so much as a look back! Wow, they sure made them tough in the old days --- and that’s both the umbrellas and the elderly gents on scooters! Another recent mishap I’ll mention happened to my esteemed editor during a visit to my stand. We were chewing the fat about this and that when sud-

denly splat, splat, splat! King III Seagull and an assortment of his winged posse unleashed an excessive amount of excrement while doing a fly-by. As bad luck would have it, a copious amount of do-do landed on both the head and nice threads of my poor editor! If I recall correctly, he was just about to go on a lunch date with partner and friends. This had to be postponed for awhile as a shower and trip to the dry cleaners required immediate attention for both. Curses to you King III, you are following in the footsteps of your predecessors. Finally, I would like to end this column with a feel-good moment. A long-time customer stopped by today to pay off a small tab. A warm and bighearted man probably in his early 40s now, he has been a customer since he was 10 years old. The last 10 years have been real rough for him as he battled a significant drinking problem. Looking healthy and well rested for the first time in a long time, he shared with me that he had been sober now for five months – and even recently won a nice chunk of change on a scratch ticket! I told him how happy I was to see him doing so much better and to keep strong. As he happily strolled down the street to a meeting I was left with a real warm feeling inside that lingered throughout the day like the first balmy breeze of Spring. Here’s wishing all good tidings as we enter the dog days of Summer. Until next time Ciao – Mark.

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Up Portland August 2018  

Up Portland August 2018

Up Portland August 2018  

Up Portland August 2018

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