April 20, 2014

Hawk harrier girls seeking another N.E. title

Share

Nov. 10, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

With their eighth Vermont Division I title in the past nine years in their 2011 bag of triumphs, coach Scott Bliss and his Champlain Valley Union cross country girls have their sights set this weekend on a second straight New England crown.

The event takes place Saturday in North Scituate, R.I., approximately 10 miles west of Providence.

“We are probably the favorites going in,” Bliss said Monday at the team’s practice session at the CVU track. He said the Redhawks are ranked second in the northeast and in the top 30 nationwide.

A victory Saturday could result in a return to the Nike Nationals in which CVU participated last year.

“We are definitely ready,” said senior runner Adrienne DeVita. “We are stronger than last year.”

The Redhawks won the Vermont crown two weeks ago with a show of great depth, capturing seven of the top 11 positions. Bliss said the 25 points posted by his team was one of the lowest scores ever.

“If we all run as we can, we will do well,” said junior Taylor Spillane, the Redhawks’ top runner.

Spillane, D-I individual champ Markie Palermo of Essex and D-III titleholder Elle Purrier of Richford are expected to contest for top honors over the flat 5-kilometer course.

Bliss said all three runners have exceeded the R.I. course record time of 18 minutes and 15 seconds on a similar layout in Vermont.

CVU boys soccer doesn’t capitalize in title tilt

Share

Hawks had opportunities in 1-0 loss to Rebels

Nov. 10, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Champlain Valley Union’s Shane Haley (left) battles for possession against South Burlington during the Redhawks’ 1-0 loss to the Rebels in the Division I boys soccer state title game on Nov. 5. (Observer photo by Trey Peiffer)

As coach T. J. Mead admitted Monday, expectations for the boys soccer program are high each autumn.

His program has won seven Division I championships in the last 10 years.

Saturday (Nov. 5), at Burlington High School’s turf field, the 2011 post-season run fell just short in a 1-0 loss to South Burlington. The 13-5-1 Rebels captured their first crown since 1991.

“We had possession and a lot of opportunities,” Mead said. But due to some hurried shots and a stout South Burlington back defensive line, the Redhawks were shutout for the first time all season.

An early first-half goal on the rebound from a blocked penalty shot was the contest’s lone score.

Sometime ago, an old philosopher-coach (probably more than one) said: “Your team goal at the start of a season can be the championship and nothing less, but once you reach the title game, everything then becomes a crap shoot.”

And so it was Saturday. One set of figures in the press box had CVU outgunning the Rebels, 23-5, in shots at goal. Redhawks sophomore net minder Brandon O’Connell had just two stops, one of those on a penalty shot by South Burlington’s Andrew Mallory that led to the game’s only score.

The fateful moment took place with 12 minutes and 30 seconds gone in the first half after Eric Davidson, racing into the left side of the box with the ball, was hauled down in a collision with a CVU player.

Mallory lined up the shot and snapped a blast to the right side of the CVU cage. O’Connell dived and knocked the ball away, but it hit the upright and bounced back to an onrushing Mallory — who alertly kicked it past the fallen O’Connell.

There were no arguments with the penalty call. Mead said the collision came because the CVU defender “had a bad angle.”

After that the CVU challenge was a matter of getting good shots on goal. The South Burlington last line of defense, backs Ibragim Temirov, Will Coles and Jack Terricone expertly obstructed offensive thrusts and gave up few close-in chances despite repeated Redhawk flurries led by Shane Halley and Ben Comai.

“Shots either missed the frame or went just over the top,” said Mead.

Midway through the first half, Halley got a rare point blank opportunity that Rebel goalie Sean Keogh stopped with a full body save, one of his five blocks.

With 7:22 left in the half, CVU’s Noah Lieberman — after taking a set-up pass from Sam Raszka — cracked a rocket off the cross bar.

The Redhawks continued to hold an edge in midfield play through the second half, but nothing doing on the scoring end as Halley, Comai and Todd Forrester had close calls.

Looking back to the beginning of the campaign, a 14-3-1 final record and title game appearance seemed a stretch for a CVU team that lost 14 veteran players by graduation and another to prep school.

“I thought it would be a tough year and I would be happy to make the playoff(s),” said Mead, thinking back to the graduation losses of vets who had taken a championship in 2009 and earned the top seed last year before a quarterfinal upset.

This year Mead loses 11 seniors, including several solid performers, but has several valuable underclassmen with significant playing time and a strong junior varsity team from which to reload.

Police notes

Share

Nov. 10, 2011

 

Infant death investigation ongoing

Williston police are investigating the death of a 2 1/2-month-old infant who was found unresponsive in the parents’ bed and died on the morning of Oct. 31. According to police, “initial information suggests this was a co-sleeping death” and “there is no evidence of any intentional acts against the child.” The case is pending final toxicology and “other” tests, which police reported would likely take approximately six weeks. Williston Interim Police Chief Douglas Hoyt declined to provide the child’s name or the identities of the parents, whom he said were teenagers younger than 18. (from Associated Press and staff reports)

Underage drinking

During a motor vehicle stop for an “obstructed windshield” on Nov. 6, police noticed the odor of “intoxicants” and a passenger in the car that was passed out, according to police reports. The passenger, a male juvenile, “woke up” and subsequent testing showed a blood alcohol concentration of .151, the report notes. He was issued a citation for underage drinking, according to the report, which also noted that the driver had not been drinking.

Driving under the influence

• Amy R. Jaquish, 36, of Richmond was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on Nov. 5, according to police reports. Her blood alcohol concentration was .089, the report notes. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. She was cited to appear in court.

• Patrick C. Wiener, 22, of Hinesburg was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on Nov. 6, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .089, the report notes. He was cited to appear in court.

Horses on the highway

Williston police and Vermont State Police responded to a report of horses on Interstate 89 just south of the Williston rest area on Nov. 2, according to police reports. Upon arrival, police found two large Belgian horses on the northern side of the highway, the report notes. The horses were safely returned to the fenced area of a Williston farm, according to the report.

Driving with license suspended

• Christopher D. Sanders, 26, of Williston was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Nov. 1, according to police reports. He was stopped again on Nov. 4 for driving with a suspended license-criminal, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court.

• Travis Beyor, 26, of Williamstown was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Nov. 7, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on Dec. 27.

Multiple charges

Samantha Foss, 34, of Morrisville was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest on Nov. 2, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Negligent operation

On Nov. 7, Eric Allen Henry, 31, of Plattsburgh, N.Y. was cited on a charge of negligent operation of a vehicle, according to police reports. He was also cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license, the report notes. He was cited to appear in court on Dec. 13.

 

Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Letters to the Editor

Share

Nov. 10, 2011

 

Thanks for supporting our daughter

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those in our community who donated or purchased items at our recent garage sale. Proceeds helped defray the cost of medical care and expenses for our daughter, Catherine Fisk — a single mother with two young sons in California. She was diagnosed this past May with a rare form of cancer known as GIST (Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor) — a form of sarcoma.

The proceeds totaled about $1,200, which is beyond our wildest expectations! Many neighbors and friends offered their help and made donations, even though they did not know us very well or our daughter.

A special thanks goes to Sally Polley and her two young daughters, Samantha and Sienna, for providing the most heart-warming story of our event. Walking by our home — carrying a large basket of homemade chocolate dipped and decorated marshmallow treats, and after buying some ourselves — we asked why they were selling them. Their reply was, “We’re going around the neighborhood to sell them and then give you the money to help your daughter!” We just couldn’t believe this truly selfless offering. One-and-a-half hours later, they returned with $120. Immediately, tears started to flow! These children just made our day and reinforced our faith in the selfless spirit of giving in this community.

The following is a personal note from our daughter:

“I am deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support shown by everyone during this past weekend! My boys and I feel very blessed to have such a kind, compassionate, and generous community in Williston and neighboring towns! We want to THANK YOU ALL from the bottom of our hearts! — Cathy, Riley and Alex”

Barry and Donna Butkus, Williston

 

Motorists need to be more cautious

I live in Williston village and I was quite concerned at how fast people were driving through the village during peak trick-or-treating hours for small children.

I was driving back to the village from Taft Corners at around 6:30 p.m. on Halloween night. As I approached the village, I couldn’t help but notice the car behind mine was tailgating — especially when I put my turn signal on to turn into my driveway. This really bothered me, as I could see some young children walking along the sidewalks trick-or-treating. It seems obvious to me that people should use great care to avoid a potential accident, use common sense, obey traffic laws, the speed limit and use great care around this time that children enjoy so much.

We are the adults and it is our responsibility to drive accordingly.

Linda Hemphill, Williston

 

Kindred Connections

I am writing in response to information that wasn’t printed in a recent Observer article about our program (Around Town, “Kindred Connections comes to Chittenden County,” Oct. 20, 2011).

Kindred Connections is a program of the Vermont Cancer Survivor Network. Recently, a group of cancer survivors with various types of cancer and caregivers came together for a three-part training in Williston. They were there to become Kindred Connections members. These folks have been through cancer or are living with it. They know what it is all about. Now they want to help others.

Kindred Connections supports people who are going through cancer, as well as their caregivers. Members connect with people who have similar diagnoses and treatments, or issues such as, “How to tell my young children I have cancer.” They also provide rides to doctors’ offices and may be the second pair of ears at that appointment. At times, they may cook a meal or go grocery shopping. It all depends on the need.

As the coordinator of the program, I partner with social workers and cancer patient navigators at local hospitals to connect patients or caregivers with a Kindred Connections member. I also help facilitate listening skills trainings to empower Kindred Connections members to make their own “connections” through social networks in their own communities.

Kindred Connections also exists in Franklin, Washington, Orange and Orleans counties. A database is kept of all members, which allows me to connect members within the county and across other counties. The idea is to make the best connection possible.

Please give us a call or email if you would like to receive support or give it.

Sherry Rhynard,

Kindred Connections Coordinator

Vermont Cancer Survivor Network

 

Roundabouts aren’t the solution

In spite of the overwhelming rejection of the Kwik Stop roundabout proposition by the voters last year, the Selectboard seems determined to put a roundabout somewhere — anywhere — in Williston. Not only are roundabouts expensive concrete hideosities, which would destroy the rural character and charm of our village, they are also totally unnecessary in this particular instance. Put two more stop signs and flashing lights at the intersection and back it up with the occasional police car, fining offenders, and the current — very small — problem will go away.

Lutz Muller, Williston

 

Editor’s Note: The preceding letter was in response to an article in the Nov. 3, 2011 edition of the Observer about the crossing of North Williston/Mountain View/Governor Chittenden roads, “Study of accident-prone intersection released.”

 

Those in and around shooting facilities need protection

I am writing in response to the article, “Testing confirms lead pollution in farm’s well (Observer, Oct. 13, 2011),” and the follow-up letter to the editor of the Observer by Mona Boutin on Oct. 27. Our family lives within the Wellhead Protection Area Mrs. Boutin mentions and we hope the North Country Sportsman’s Club follows best practices to ensure lead-free water access and clean-up of accumulated lead shot.

Generations of our family have served in local law enforcement and armed services, in addition to participating in hunting and fishing here in Vermont. The issue at hand is not about gun control; it is about assuming responsibility for the aftereffects of shooting practices at the club. Just as hunter education courses and continued hunter safety are key safety mechanisms, it is also important to maintain a safe and healthy environment in and around shooting facilities to protect participants and neighbors.

We are grateful for the services provided by Williston Fire District #1 to protect our water supply. In order to protect the water supply for all within the local Wellhead Protection Area, this statement resonates: “Remember that the key to wellhead protection is prevention. Prevention begins at home, in your neighborhood, in your town and in rural areas outside the city or village where groundwater may originate. The program itself relies on you to take action to ensure the quality of life for you and your neighbors. You are the key to a successful wellhead protection program (Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin).”

No doubt this is true for us in Vermont as well.

Adam Deyo, Williston

 

Meaningful shopping experience

I have shopped at Buttered Noodles in the past but my shopping experience on Saturday (Nov. 5) would prove to be the most meaningful. It was its one-year anniversary and the store was quite busy. I ran into my youngest daughter’s preschool teacher and we began to catch up on 14 years. I would say we probably were standing for about 35 minutes when I felt lightheaded and felt I was headed toward the floor. My friend, as well as some wonderful employees, were at my side. I appreciated their attentiveness and wanting to help me in any way necessary. They got me a comfortable glider, as well as water, candy and buttered noodles. I was even walked to my car after resting for a good 20 minutes. It is so nice to see this goodwill, especially at this time of year when things become so hectic.

Dana Partelow, Williston

 

Guest column

Share

Sunday soccer a Williston family tradition

Nov. 10, 2011

By Bob Pasco

 

In the fall of 1975, I came upon a game… of sorts. I found it while riding by on an old bicycle one Sunday with my 1-year-old son perched on the back fender. The game looked like soccer, but it was in someone’s uneven backyard. The players included kids, middle-aged ladies, bearded men and … dogs. Conversations and gossip broke out between combatants, suddenly absorbed in the news of the week or the price of corn. Dogs of various shapes and sizes chased the ball or each other. Kids chased the dogs.

I made enough contact with the group that day to realize that it was not an exclusive club, but an all-comers-welcome roster. I introduced my son to the concept of kicking the ball, and connected with some new friends in the town to which I had just moved. Maybe moving in to less rural Chittenden County was going to be OK after all.

The next Sunday, I returned with my toddler son. He seemed happy enough in the swirl of activity and some slightly older kids fascinated him. I began to flesh out the profile of the adults: an author, lawyer, IBMers, a professor or two and former Peace Corps volunteers. The commonality seemed to be a back-to-the-earth outlook and a belief that a tattered soccer ball was all one needed to punctuate the weekend.

The next year, the group began the Sewer Field era (named for the improper drainage of the athletic field belonging to the school). This was prior to municipal water and sewerage in Williston Village. A rainy week would make the schoolyard look like something that would make a public health official shudder. New families joined the fray, however, and merited the change of venue. Despite the rising profile of the event, rules remained loose and field dimensions were in the eyes of the beholder.

The games were held each Sunday afternoon in the fall from early September until the snow got too deep to advance the ball. No score was kept until someone, either exhausted or hungry, would holler through the dusk that the next team to score two goals in a row was the winner. When that was accomplished, clusters of people limped from the field — remarking about their prowess, or lack thereof, and promising to resume the following week.

Over the years, the little kids became bigger kids and were more interested in the ball than the dogs that roamed the field. Their skills soared and soon the founders were clearly outclassed by the kids. Before there were organized leagues, coaches and uniforms, these ragtag and runny-nosed kids were becoming a real force. Elders watched in fascination as the former rug rats began to juggle the ball, make purposeful passes and score with alacrity.

Out of this Sunday ritual came a number of soccer players who went on to be stalwarts at higher levels of play. Among the generation of players who cut their teeth in “Williston Family Soccer” are people who, after starring at Champlain Valley Union High School, went on to play for schools such as Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, Bates College and Washington University in Missouri. Several were (Burlington) Free Press Vermont all-state players, and at least two were high school all-Americans. Several are now, or have been, soccer coaches.

Williston has since changed — there are now leagues, coaches, uniforms, rules and wonderful instructional programs. However, each Thanksgiving morning — called together to meet at the Williston Central School by long-time Family Soccer commissioner Peter Battelle — you may just see old men and old ladies with new knees and hips, middle-aged people with a new generation of children bearing iPods, cell phones, a new cadre of dogs and a strange free-form version of soccer. The hugs still interrupt the play, the sidelines are still vague, and the memories are rich.

Good traditions die hard. And the team that scores the last two consecutive goals still wins.

 

Bob Pasco is a Williston resident who moved to town with his family in 1975.

 

The Everyday Gourmet

Share

Ready, set, party

Nov. 10, 2011

By Kim Dannies

 

Before you know it, hungry holiday guests will be flowing through the door — so divert kitchen drama by planning ahead. I love classic recipes, and this chicken marbella is a spectacular party dish that cheaply feeds an army. The recipe is from “Sliver Palate (1979),” the cookbook that inspired my generation of cooks with practical and appealing food.

According to the book’s authors, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, “the overnight marinating of the chicken is essential to the moistness of the finished product; the chicken keeps well and even improves over several days” To me, that shouts, “Do ahead recipe!” — my favorite strategy for welcoming guests. Marbella is Spanish-influenced, so crusty bread and a lusty Rioja wine are a great match for this party meal.

 

CHICKEN MARBELLA

Quarter 4 chickens (2.5 pounds each). Place in a large bowl. In a medium-sized bowl combine 1/4 cup dried oregano; 2 large pinches of kosher salt and pepper; 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil. Peel and puree a head of garlic. Add garlic puree the mix and stir well.

Now, add 1 cup pitted prunes; 1 cup pitted Spanish green olives; 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice; and 6 bay leaves. Stir well and pour the marinade over the chicken.

Cover and marinate overnight (or longer) in fridge.

To serve: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans. Spoon the marinade evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 cup brown sugar and pour 1 cup white wine or sherry among the batch. Bake 60 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices.

Choose a large serving platter. If desired, whip up a batch of fluffy couscous (it makes a useful “bed” for the serving platter). With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to the platter. Moisten the chicken with a few tablespoons of the pan juices and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Pour the remaining pan juices into a sauceboat and serve on the side. Serves 10 to 12.

 

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something-year-old daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com

Life in Williston

Share

Winter children’s activities bountiful

Nov. 10, 2011

By Karen Wyman

 

 

While trying to make the most of possibly the last warm Saturday of the year, my family conducted our first annual playground crawl. It may never be as popular as its adult counterpart, the pub crawl, but let me tell you — it’s equally as intoxicating. We packed snacks and water, and rode our bikes to the neighborhood playground. The kids climbed and played while my husband and I eagerly caught up on adult conversation.

After a while, we set off for Allen Brook School, stopping many times to chat with friends along the way. This time my husband and I played basketball while the girls played their hearts out on the slides. Finally, we headed to Williston Central School, and the term “crawl” was coined. Although the girls were excited for the biggest playground yet, those little legs were tired. Somehow, they managed to persevere and even get a second wind as they ran off to swing. That is when my husband and I started the dreaded discussion of how to keep the girls economically entertained throughout winter. We tried to remember the activities we had in last year’s arsenal.

Once the snow hits, sledding and snow forts can easily fill an entire day with fun. What stumps us are those days when it’s too cold to go outside, but we can’t bear to stay in the house one more minute. I am no Martha Stewart, so once my baking and crafting repertoire are exhausted, (I’m usually good for two days’ worth) we are desperate.

We have been lucky to find many family-oriented places right here in Williston that offer some inexpensive or even free boredom busters! The trusty (Dorothy Alling Memorial) library is always a great place to spend time browsing books or enjoying one of its many programs. My husband found kids’ workshops at The Home Depot to be a great Saturday morning event. He and the girls have made birdhouses and toolboxes, and the girls were excited to get to take home an orange apron just like the employees wear! Gardener’s Supply offers a play area and its own kids’ club, with events like scavenger hunts and weekly story hours. Buttered Noodles also became a favorite hangout for my girls. They have an amazing playroom and offer story hours with snacks throughout the week. Our latest find is the “Make & Take” classes at A.C. Moore, where kids make amazing crafts that they truly treasure. We found out about most of these activities through the locations’ websites, so it’s worth checking online for future events. Last winter we also implemented a weekly family movie night. Passport Video has an amazing staff and selection of videos.

My family’s favorite year-round activity is eating out, and Williston’s eateries come through for us with great kids’ menus and promotions. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, Monty’s Old Brick Tavern offers free children’s meals with an adult entrée purchase. Monday night is kids’ night at Texas Roadhouse, where, along with their free meal, kids can enjoy a craft table and a cowboy who makes balloon animals. Moe’s Southwest Grill also offers free kids’ meals on Mondays, served on a keepsake Frisbee with Carvel ice cream for dessert. I’m sure there are many more promos we haven’t experienced yet, but I do have to cook once in awhile!

To burn off some of those winter calories, we will again take advantage of family open gym at Allen Brook School. Building Bright Futures also sponsors free play for Williston residents at Green Mountain Gymnastics on Monday mornings.

After recalling how much our town has to offer, we are no longer worried about family entertainment this winter. We can’t wait to see what the amazing Williston businesses have in store for us this year!

Karen Wyman has been a Williston resident for six years, and lives with her husband and twin 4-year-old daughters.

 

Places I’ve Played

Share

The undertaker’s daughter

Nov. 10, 2011

By Bill Skiff

 

 

Halloween happenings during my farm years were not much different than they were last week… well, on second thought maybe a little.

My Halloween education started with mother taking me “over street” to trick or treat. In the village, the houses were closer together and the treats more plentiful.  On the farm you could go a mile for just one piece of candy. In the village your bag filled quickly. Town folk also had more creative treats: Instead of an apple or a cookie, you might get a store-bought candy bar or beautiful homemade rice crispy bar. Sometimes you might be fortunate enough and get a nickel or a dime. One Halloween I received a dollar — and thought I was rich.

In junior high, the big Halloween event was a party at some girl’s house. One year it was at Bertina’s. The girls decorated her living room scary. When we boys arrived, the girls were in pretty dresses. We began by playing games like pin the tail on the donkey, or some version of a card game.

As the night progressed, our attention turned to everyone’s favorite game: spin the bottle. This game involved sitting in a circle and spinning a tipped-over bottle. The bottle is placed in the middle of the circle and someone is chosen to “spin the bottle.”  Usually it was a milk bottle. When the bottle stopped, the top pointed at someone. That person then had to kiss the spinner. You hoped the spinner was a girl you liked and the bottle would stop at you.

One time, all the elements fell into place: I was chosen to kiss Bertina. We were all a little inexperienced at kissing, and a bit embarrassed by the whole process. For this reason, we could choose to go into a room off the living area to accomplish our mission.

When Bertina and I entered into the room, it was dark. After our eyes adjusted, we looked at a large object beside us. It was a silver casket — and it was open and occupied! I flew out of that room so fast I am not sure I even opened the door. I had forgotten that Bertina’s father was an undertaker and the room was his morgue! That was the most scared I ever was at Halloween. I never did get to kiss Bertina.

During my teenage years, we concentrated more on tricks than treats. Our tricks were simple but creative. Once, we tied a metal ring about 3 feet from the end of a long string. We then attached that ring end over a homeowner’s front door. The other end of the string was pulled up and held by someone in a nearby tree. When the string was lowered, the metal ring would knock on the door — then quickly pulled up out of sight. The person answering the door could not find anyone or anything. This allowed us to repeat the trick. Every time we knocked, the person would open the door faster and faster. Once in a while someone would catch us and think it was a great trick, and invite us in for some refreshments.

I was too young to participate in this next trick, but I was in the study hall when the perpetrators were apprehended. A group of boys took the town grader apart and tried to put it back together — on top of the local covered bridge. When the town men reported for work the next morning, they couldn’t find the grader to start work. At about 11 a.m., the principal and two town workers appeared in the school’s study hall. The principal said, “OK boys let’s go.” The ones who had pulled the trick stood up and went out to get the grader down. Everyone, except the town workers, thought it was the best trick ever. The boys did not receive any punishment except for being told, “Don’t do it again.” They never did.

 

Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at [email protected]

This Week’s Popcorn

Share

‘The Rum Diary’

More stupor than super

Nov. 10, 2011

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

The more you learn about Hunter S. Thompson, whose semi-autobiographical novel, “The Rum Diary,” is the source of this curiously rambling film by Bruce Robinson, the odder he seems. He is one of those oblique icons who exist as much in our subconscious as they do in reality. Their celebrity lies within the enigma they pose.

Generally credited as the father of Gonzo Journalism, wherein subjectivity is a key component of reportage, Thompson was an adherent of William Faulkner, who believed that fiction was really “the best fact.” Hunter S. added drugs and alcohol to the mix, perhaps for fun, probably for inspiration and most likely because such were the times.

This philosophy is explained via the exploits of his thinly veiled reporter/would-be-novelist, Paul Kemp, portrayed by Johnny Depp. It is an interesting evocation of the Thompson style. Yet, ploddingly slow and obfuscated with subliminal knickknacks and dialogue that seems as obscure as it is self-important, the film is difficult to recommend.

Kemp, who has written two and a half unsuccessful novels and is agonizingly searching for his literary destiny, circa 1960, washes ashore in Puerto Rico where a dying daily has hired him to write some puff in addition to the horoscope. But the sot is not so bleary-eyed that he can’t recognize a scenario of civil unrest and imperialistic injustice when he sees it.

So it only figures that, although a declared enemy of mendacity and corruption, he winds up, quite accidentally, working for a cadre of shady investors who just so happen to know what soon divested government testing area will make for a great resort site. The unintentional bait is Chenault (Amber Heard), concubine to the group’s chief smoothie.

He is Aaron Eckhart’s Hal Sanderson, the rich golden boy and direct antithesis of our protagonist. You might remember him from high school. He had everything except, you eventually found out, integrity. But he has a rationalizing rap — an arrogant adaptation of Social Darwinism that says, “Hop aboard or miss the boat.”

What makes it all the more heartbreaking is that Chenault — who the adoring Paul first sees in a real-life reverie when she pops up mermaid style next to his pedal boat — is that sort of feminine prize who, by looking the other way, legitimizes Hal’s credo. Adding to the plot complication, Paul soon falls in with a strange ilk of somewhat kindred souls.

Bob Sala (Michael Rispoli) is the seasoned stoic who takes Paul in when the newspaper decides it will no longer foot his booze bill at the hotel. A good pal, we’d have no reservations if he didn’t sponsor a gamecock. Decrepit Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi), on the other hand, is a total wild card, an anarchist/journalist/street person, but with connections.

They are the three musketeers of raging but often unclear and erratic protest. Fellow reporters who share the type of digs Bohemians need to inspire revolutionary exploits — if the germs don’t kill them first — they eventually hatch a plan to both save the failing gazette and put the world right. To make it a challenge, they’ll do it drunk and stoned.

The boy-meets-spoken-for-girl storyline is not alluring in and of itself. But rather, it’s a spinning, literary clothesline upon which to hang Thompson’s outrageous take on convention, capitalism, the news media, and whatever else passes before his blurry crosshairs. Previously disinterested filmgoers will find themselves even more so inclined.

Produced by Mr. Depp, a friend of Hunter Thompson’s who purportedly convinced him to publish “The Rum Diary” and years later even paid for his funeral, this is a personal film on steroids — rendered so by its traditional, mainstream movie budget. If done simpler and aimed at the art house, it might have better summoned its in-your-face subversivism.

Still, for the enthusiast and those who like to dabble in the angst, inner workings and elusive glory of writers, Depp etches a unique if not fully satisfying persona. The inherent anomaly is that Thompson’s cachet, until further notice, is his inscrutability. Thus, the appeal lies in trying to figure out whether or not he’s simply having a bit of sport with us.

Of course we wouldn’t be opposed to getting below the crust of contention if it would once and for all truly inform what resides in the soul of this indefatigable tester of the First Amendment.

Making the film all the less accessible is an annoying use of dark filters, doubtlessly employed to suggest the murky-mindedness of the episode in question. Hence, distilled to its essence, “The Rum Diary” joins “Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)” as feature-length footnotes to a thesis still unwritten.

 

The Rum Diary,” rated R, is a FilmDistrict release directed by Bruce Robinson and stars Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli and Giovanni Ribisi. Running time: 120 minutes 

Around Town

Share

Nov. 10, 2011

 

 

DADDY’S JUNKY MUSIC CLOSES

Daddy’s Junky Music’s Williston location and its 11 stores across New England closed Oct. 26.

The music store was in business for 39 years and, according to The Associated Press, was once the 14th-largest musical retailer in the country. The AP also noted that founder and chief executive officer Fred Bramante said he “could not get into specifics about why the stores closed because of pending legal issues.”

A message on the company website read: “Thank you for a wonderful 39 years.”

The Williston store was located in Maple Tree Place at 21 Hawthorne Street.

 

RECREATION BASKETBALL LEAGUE REGISTRATION

The Williston Recreation Department’s basketball league is holding registration for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Participants must currently be in grades 1 – 8. There are no tryouts — all participants can play.

The cost to participate is $40 for one player or $60 for a family. Practices begin Nov. 28 and run for one hour, one weeknight, per week. Games begin Saturday, Dec. 3 and the season ends Feb. 18.

To register, visit the Williston Town Clerk’s office, located inside Town Hall, at 7900 Williston Road.

 

SPORTSMAN’S RAFFLE RESULTS

The Williston Area Lions Club met at the Vermont Sports Grill in South Burlington on Nov. 1 to pick the winners of its sportsman’s raffle. The funds will be used for Lions Club projects, including the provision of eyeglasses and hearing aids for those in need.

Prizes included, but weren’t limited to, GPS units, binoculars, telescopes and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Prise winners included: Lisa Sweeney, Scott Cousino, Rick Blondin, Christian Jenkins, Stan Turner, Kristopher Francis, Stacy Walker, Mike Curtin, Al Thibault, Ezekiel Savage, George Bergin, Bart Chamberlain, Dave Clark, Susan Brooks, Jason Sabourin, Jeffrey Fontaine, Rick Piaseczny, John Stewart, Steve Doorey, David Paquette, Don MacLellan, Heidi Clark and Jason Ballard.

 

WILLISTON NATIVE WINS SKYDIVING COMPETITION

Williston native Sara LaWare, 31, of Malden Mass., won a gold medal Nov. 2 in the intermediate 4-way formation skydiving competition at the 2011 U.S. Parachute Association National Skydiving Championships. The competition took place in Elroy, Ariz.

According to a news release from the United States Parachute Association, LaWare is one of more than 500 who participated. She was part of a team that defeated 29 other teams in 4-way formation diving — a discipline involving teams leaping from an aircraft more than two miles above the ground and then racing to “form prescribed geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes.”

 

FEMA EXTENDS DISASTER ASSISTANCE DEADLINE

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced on Oct. 19 that Vermonters with insurance could still be eligible for grants to cover losses caused by tropical storm Irene.

State and federal officials urge everyone who has homeowners insurance, flood insurance or both to register with FEMA. They may have disaster-related losses their insurance does not cover, such as: payments for a temporary rental while a home is being repaired; repair of a disaster-damaged well or septic system; repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle; personal property and household contents losses.

Those who believe all their losses are covered by insurance are nevertheless encouraged to register by Nov. 15 (extended from Oct. 31). Property owners must provide proof of insurance covers. This is because FEMA cannot make grants for losses that are already covered by insurance.

Register online at DisasterAssistance.gov, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Users of Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362.

 

WCS CELEBRATES WORLD PEACE DAY

For World Peace Day, which took place Sept. 21, Williston Central School students wrapped up their first charity challenge. Students, by grade, selected a charity to support and competed in a weeklong competition during lunch. Students added pennies to their charity’s bucket for points and silver coins to other buckets to take points away.

First place went to the class that ended up with the most points. The final results, along with collection totals, were:

First place — fifth grade ($690, United Way of Chittenden County to support flood relief

Second place — sixth grade ($517.50, Vermont Irene Flood Relief Fund for small businesses)

Third place  — eighth grade ($345, Vermont Children’s Hospital, Fletcher Allen Health Care. The money will be used for children and families receiving services at the hospital)

Fourth place – seventh grade ($172.50 – American Red Cross, Vermont chapter)