Gabe Gregoire

Gabe Gregoire

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When Winter Is Your Favorite Season

Last week we mentioned new ski and board equipment. We also know that the acquisition of said equipment is not a whimsical matter for many of our readers. Budgets may have to be rearranged and items and errands may have to be pushed forward till next payday, simply in order to avoid embarrassment at our favorite stop, the glorified sawhorse we gear up next to outside the lodge. Well, have no fear. This is Maine, we are a chickadee if any bird, and we will not let you down.


Buy everything from hockey skates to monoboard bindings (and the regular stuff too) at the veritable cornucopia of winter-sports delights we call the Down East Ski Sale and Winter Sports Expo, to take place at The Portland Exposition Building (239 Park Ave) on Saturday, November 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no price at the door. You will find new and used equipment with tags on every item that will make you feel like you’ll probably be able to afford your CMP bill, too. Your eyes will be fluffy with dreams of foot-deep powder by the time you leave the building.


Or, if you choose to display your winter hardiness in a manner other than spending those small eternities in the exposed bitterness of a chairlift, wear your trunks under your street clothes and head down to the Second Annual Sunrise Swim at Willard Beach in South Portland on Tuesday the 28th at 7:30 a.m. That’s right, along with Don Perkins, the president of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and a throng of generously donating daredevils, you’ll enjoy some coffee and donuts before the aforementioned sunrise dip. Once the point has been proven, since these scientists are pragmatic people, participants will be welcome to a hot shower on location.


If you go to both events, say to yourself, “Dirigo again…”


Ski Sale:


Sunrise Swim:

 sports ski sale club winter expo

  • Published in Sports

Join the Dungeons and Dragons revival - and break your sword on the Goblin King's shield

We have to thank Winona Ryder.


Without her, there wouldn’t be a Stranger Things on Netflix, and without Stranger Things, many more of us would still be laboring under the misconception that the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons is played by misguided, Satanist-leaning, quasi-criminal teenagers, and not the lovingly raised, nerdy-yet-heroic youngsters depicted in the show.


Back in the eighties, when Dungeons & Dragons was still in its youth, parents and priests were afraid kids would attempt suicide after being led down a demonic path by the game’s references to powerful devils (yes, Demogorgon was among them, nigh invincible). The truth was that D&D players only wanted to spur a white stallion into battle with a dragon, sword glinting in the sun, overcome the threat at great risk to life and limb, and rescue the damsel-in-distress (forgive the misogyny; we speak of a time past). Having the king name the day a holiday in your honor didn’t hurt either. But unlike the storybooks that the game was based on, the tale didn’t end there. You might take up the magical shield you found in the conquered dragon’s treasure trove and hire on with a few friends to protect a caravan, carrying cargo of an undisclosed nature on a dangerous mountain-pass journey, only to be ambushed by goblins and betrayed by one of the king’s men at the same time. And the circumstances of the game session after that would depend on what choices you made during the caravan adventure and how they turned out. And so on, until, back in the real world, college or work or (the Holy Grail) a girlfriend or boyfriend took you on to bigger things.


Teens 12 and up have a chance to try the game they’ve seen Eleven’s friends playing on the ‘Flix, at Dungeons & Dragons at TML (that’s Thomas Memorial Library, 6 Scott Dyer Rd). It’s a recurring Thursday group, from 4 pm to 7 pm each week. (The offer goes double for shy or quiet kids; we know they have big dreams and cunning ideas.) Joining the campaign is free, but registration is required. Contact Alyssa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and bring whatever materials you have (manuals, dice, even just a notebook) to your first meeting.


And if you’re stuck for a character idea, how about creating one after Winona? Fantasy heroes certainly fight against bullying, and it is also sometimes beneficial to be a master of sleight-of-hand. Naturally.


Kids dungeons

  • Published in Kids

Lost but always found — The benefits of microchipping your pet

Did you know the term ‘debug,’ as in to correct the mistakes in computer code, comes from back when the simplest computer filled an entire room? The machines got hot when they were running, which necessitated leaving windows open, and moths and other insects would occasionally flutter in and get stuck in the small moving parts of the computer, impeding its calculations. A technician would have to stop what he or she was doing, go into the computer room, and literally debug the system. By contrast, these days, the computers we all carry in our pockets, our smartphones, are more powerful than even the largest of those old-fashioned room-fillers and their descendents. For example, an iPhone 6 has more computing power than all of NASA had during the Apollo moon-landing days.


We don’t expect our readers to oversee any space missions; we merely want to illustrate the advantage of miniaturization, especially in one area that relates to the concerns of pet lovers and their fam-animals: pet microchipping. These glass beads, the size of a grain of rice, contain a radio transmitter, an antenna, and a computer chip whose code, as you know, allows a veterinarian to discover the contact information of the owner of a chipped pet who shows up at their shelter door. When the resulting phone call is made, a happy ending for two or more distraught mammals ensues.


If you belong to the majority of non-microchipped pet owners who are curious about taking this precaution and who don’t suspect that Skynet is pulling the strings, head down to the Black Friday Microchip Sale at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (217 Landing Rd, Westbrook) on Friday, November 24 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. for a $25 chip for your pet, lifetime registration included. Even better, if you adopt a pet from the ARLGP that day, your microchip will be discounted to $15.


It’s one small step for man, one giant leap toward peace of mind.

 Pets microchip

  • Published in Pets

Catch a Lift

When it gets to be around turkey time, especially when the real early birds are already enjoying man-made snow on the Kingfield slopes, active Mainers’ thoughts get around to sharpening edges, shopping for lift passes, and finding (or placing) shiny new slope-conquering equipment under that pine tree that will soon be in the living room. If the smell of oncoming flakes isn’t already in the air, it is in the anticipatory musings of the winter-sports enthusiast. We feel the tug of gravity and centripetal force helping us carve turns, hear the lonely wind at the mountain’s peak before we plunge into that black-diamond run, in short, we become friends with Old Man Winter all over again.


One man’s name has achieved nearly as legendary a status in the world of skiing and boarding, and that man is Warren Miller. Way back in 1946, the cinematographer-to-be bought his first 8mm movie camera once safely home from the campaigns of World War II, and used it to film himself and a pal skiing and surfing. He would show the reels at off-season parties, cracking jokes and adding bits of narration for the entertainment of an ever-growing circle of friends. In time, he began to receive invitations to show his films in small venues, with compensation. In 1950, Miller produced his first full-length ski film, Deep and Light. The productions continued with regularity and increasing scope and quality, until Warren Miller Entertainment winter-sports features became nearly synonymous with the start of the ski season each year.


The latest, Line of Descent, will be shown two times at the State Theatre (142 High St) on Saturday, November 18: an early show at 5 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m. Tickets prices are steep at $20 per, but the investment in an invitation into the snow-sports family is a good one.


Look for Maine’s own Seth Wescott, as well as Moe, Moseley, and many other pros. Exotic locations and breathtaking maneuvers will be the order of the day. Well, maybe your online purchase of those new goggles will be the order of the day. Either way, you ought to remember where your waxing iron is by now.


Event site:


Warren Miller Entertainment:

  • Published in Sports

What If It Were You and Your Kids?

In Portland, it is more than evident that a significant number of individuals and families need help with all sorts of things, from housing to living skills to assistance with whatever legal issues may plague them and prevent them from building a solid life for themselves and their kids.


Mainers, and Americans in general, seem to be divided on how much, if any, to give to these less fortunate. Some say give a disability check to anyone who so much as complains of anxiety. Others are so sick of being accosted on the street by those seeking their next Natty Daddy, that they have the attitude, “Let them rot.” It is this second group’s belief that the ones who can’t seem to do something as simple as keep an appointment or maintain a working phone in order to receive a life-changing call, should be avoided and left to pursue the self-harm they seem bent on.


Another segment of the population, who also pay rent, pay taxes, and put it all on the line for their own families every week, may agree that the struggling people in question are irresponsible, inexplicably unwilling to put on a hat and nametag and earn a small paycheck until they can climb up to something better. But what about the children looking to them for the support only a parent can give? Do they deserve our scorn as well? Aren’t they the unfortunate ones who are really stuck in a spot they can’t get out of?


Locally, one organization, the Opportunity Alliance, has been going to bat for those purgatory-bound youngsters, and their parents, whether worthy or not, in the name of a reasonable future for families stricken with poverty, addiction, mental illness, and yes, parental incompetence, which they see as curable. The Opportunity Alliance believes in building a community in which families and individuals are thriving and supported as they pursue their aspirations for a better life. Someone you know has probably availed themselves of their assistance in some form.


With that in mind, if you are among those that believe in giving families a hand up, get ready for Maine Roller Derby's Thanks-for-Giving bout to benefit the Opportunity Alliance, to wow the crowd at Happy Wheels Skate Center (331 Warren Ave) on Saturday, November 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for ages 11 to 15, and free for 10 and under. Pack up the fam and go watch the rockin’ women of the MRD, a veritable explosion of directed fury on eight wheels apiece, keeping their sport and the hopes of Portlanders in need alive. Give till it hurts. Choose a favorite skater with your son or daughter, and hoot and holler.


Portland is at a crux of income disparity, and however you feel inside your heart, consider helping a trusted organization do their important work.





  • Published in Kids

Ever Seen a Distance Tongue Snack Attack?

What’s on your gift list this year? If there’s a video game console, a bigger TV, a bottle of designer perfume, or all of the above about to take chunks out of your bank account, you may already be thinking of making a trip to tax-free New Hampshire to do your holiday shopping. Our next-door neighbors over there make it a point to live free or die, and when it comes to refusing to pay $1.65 for a buck-fifty candy bar, they do not fail (nor does the Granite State exact a tax on earned wages). Only the frigid and remote Alaska can also boast both benefits to the average shopper. It can sound like a foreign concept, even as close by as we Portlanders are. Well, it’s about to get even more exotic.


That is, as exotic as the show for lovers of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates called the New England Reptile Distributors (in a bid for the admittedly clever acronym NERD) Reptile Tour, on display at Zoo Creatures in Plaistow, NH (149 Plaistow Rd) every Saturday and Sunday through year’s end, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Snake souls and lizard lovers can fill their cars with goodies from the mall right down the road (it has Walmart, Staples, Home Depot, Hallmark, Bed Bath & Beyond, the usual) and then take a break from the retail madness to see the scaly creatures in the NERD reptile-breeding facility presented in show-and-tell format, with hands-on audience participation encouraged, for $8. Zoo Creatures asks that you call ahead at 603-382-3338 on the day of the tour to reserve space for your party, and arrive fifteen minutes early to sign in. Online ticket sales are at


Sound like crass commercialism? Oh, it’s cold-blooded.

  • Published in Pets

"I'll take back what's mine"

There is a Deering High School graduate who currently works as a corrections officer at the Long Creek Youth Center named Russell Lamour, Jr. As honorable as you may find his chosen profession, that is not all there is to tell about Lamour, a.k.a. The Haitian Sensation. He is also a professional boxer with a record of fifteen wins and only two losses in his International Boxing Association career. His last loss was to Thomas Falawo, who took the IBA North American Middleweight belt from Lamour in that bout, but has since retired, leaving the title vacant. Lamour, who will be competing to reclaim the title in the Portland Boxing Club’s 104th event at the Portland Expo on Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m., has won three bouts since losing the belt to Falawo, and Lamour is in prime condition to put up a sharp, tight fight against John Thompson of Newark, New Jersey in the title bout on Saturday night.


If that’s not enough ‘hometown hero’ for you, get this: Competing on the same night will be Jason “The Fighting Fireman” Quirk, who works as a Portland firefighter and paramedic when he’s not in the ring, and has a spotless 7-0 record with five knockouts. Let’s see if he can put out the fire in his challenger’s eyes.


These Portland Boxing Club events are raw and exciting. They start with an amateur bout to whet the crowd’s appetite, and as the matches move up into the professional, lower-weight classes and then into the headline fights, there is a palpable energy in the air, like the electric feeling that builds up gradually before a dramatic lightning storm. We recommend putting the blinders on your feminist and pacifist sensibilities (there are bikini-clad ring girls who carry signs between rounds, and of course violence is inherent in the sport of boxing), just for the night, to experience the physical courage and refined toughness of these fighters. It’s not the same as watching Pacquaio on TV. Deconstruct the brutality, if you must, but go.


Tickets and info:


  • Published in Sports

Supporting youth revelry with STAGES Youth Theater

When you’re 12 or 14 years old, it’s quite a thing to step out from behind the backstage curtain, follow your blocking, and literally feel the heat of the spotlight from the back of the auditorium as you say your lines, always with the fear of flubbing them in the back of your mind. It’s a rush that even many tough adults still avoid at all costs, remembering the fear, but it’s one that captures a few young spirits and never lets them go. Years pass, and they may pull up in a limo when they come home to meet an old friend at Nosh or The Roma. There can be no doubt that the current greats once played a sunflower or a goat in a second-grade play and somehow outshone the whole cast, ever more seeking rapt attention and honing the art of portrayal.


Well, if you want to honor those special, creative kids and help raise money for an organization that provides them with the opportunity to act, here’s your chance: STAGES Youth Theater has just stepped up their operation, with a new official black-box theater with expansive backstage areas and rehearsal space, and brand-new nonprofit status. They’re holding an adults-only soiree dubbed REVEL! to raise funds for the future of STAGES. It will be at the new space at 202 Woodford Street (a dedicated part of Woodford Congregational Church) on Thursday, November 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, considered purchased upon requisite donation at Expect apps, drinks, music, and general revelry — thus the party’s name.


If you’re thinking you’d rather spend the Jackson at Empire with a non-movie-star friend, just listen to Griffin Carpenter, a former STAGES student who is currently making a real go of it in the tough New York theater scene: "STAGES provided the foundation for whatever I have achieved in theatre. Gave me belief in myself, gave me unheard-of opportunities to challenge myself, and to feel the reward of tackling those challenges. STAGES set me on a path that I am still on today and I think back on it all the time with so much gratitude."


We don’t think that’s an act.

  • Published in Kids

This Is Our Real Estate

If you still have trouble calling Gillette Stadium anything other than Foxboro, you may have wondered where the convention of renaming sporting institutions after corporations originally came from. The answer: although some New Englanders cling to the belief that the naming of Fenway Park at its opening in 1912 was connected to the promotional support it would give to part-owner John Irving Taylor’s Fenway Realty Company, it is more widely believed that the precursor to today’s naming-rights deals occurred in 1926 when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs at the time, named the team’s stadium Wrigley Field. In the modern era, Portlanders hoping for a return to the title Foxboro Stadium are going to have to wait until the 2032 season to have a chance for that to happen (so start lobbying now).

In any case, hundreds of millions of dollars have been earned by sports franchises in naming-rights deals. The Portland Expo Building has not fallen prey just yet, but the minor league of the NBA, as of this year, has accepted the moniker of the NBA Gatorade League, affectionately known as the ‘G-League.’

However this sits with you, the strength, speed and agility of the players of the Maine Red Claws and the other 25 teams in the G-League remains undiminished. See them play twice this weekend, both times at the Portland Expo (239 Park Ave), first on opening day, Friday, November 3, at 7 p.m. against the Delaware 87ers (named for Delaware’s being the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787), and again on Sunday, November 5 at 1 p.m. against the Erie Bayhawks. Tickets, of course, vary in price according to the view of the game the seats afford, but all can be purchased at

How are the ‘Claws looking this season? We finished 4th in the Eastern G-League (then Development League) standings last season, with a record of 29 wins and 21 losses. There is reason to hope for as good or better, though momentum has been a sticking point, with streaks of multiple victories unheard of last year. With the assignment of Boston Celtic Marcus Morris and the addition of second-round NBA draft pick Jabari Bird to the Red Claws, the overall outlook is good, going in. Hey, get season tickets and help set them on fire.

Even if by Christmas, you’re going to games at the Coffee By Design Expo.


  • Published in Sports

Not All Dragons Need Slaying

Do you remember The Wind in the Willows? Kenneth Grahame’s children’s novel began with the characters Rat and Mole paddling their canoe down a river through the English countryside, and ended with millions of young readers having a brand new idea of where books could bring their imaginations. Parents were pleased too; the heroes of the book were the kind and demure, not the brash and aggressive.


Another of Grahame’s stories, with a similar message of getting along with peers, is The Reluctant Dragon. It has been adapted for the children’s stage by Mary Hall Surface, and if you get to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine (142 Free St.) starting on Thursday, November 2 at 4 p.m., with performances running through Sunday, November 19, you can see it unfold before you and your kids’ wondering eyes. Tickets are $10 ($9 for members), with a ‘Stay and Play’ option for $16 which gives guests the chance to meet the cast and crew and learn more about the story. Simply visit or dial 800-838-3006 to make your purchase.


For readers who never read the book nor saw the 1941 Disney version of The Reluctant Dragon, the story follows a youngster named the Boy who witnesses his fellow villagers blaming the Dragon for everything that goes wrong around them, from failed crops to soured milk. They go so far as to call in the dueling services of St. George, much to the Boy’s chagrin, for he knows that this particular Dragon prefers poetry and tea to any sort of malicious malfeasance. In the end, what we know in our hearts is confirmed: in case of a misunderstanding, it is better to give the benefit of the doubt than to escalate and hurt the feelings (or worse) of someone who could be your true friend.


It’s a lesson that could stand to be underscored, no?

  • Published in Kids
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