April 20, 2019

This Weeks Popcorn: ‘The Three Stooges’

An Acquired Distaste

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Dr. Halberstoddter, my favorite professor and mentor back at Olde Ivy Film Criticism College, would roll over in his grave if he read my review of the Brothers Farrelly’s “The Three Stooges.” I liked it. Not in the Facebook sense. But in the way we really liked Sally Field when she won the Oscar. Yep, he’d roll over in his grave… if he were dead.

Make sense of that incongruous irreverence and you, too, might be on the way to enjoying the iconoclastic, so-called lowbrow absurdity that is “The Three Stooges.” And since one can’t help but feel as much apologist as critic when giving a positive review to a movie that so embraces the eye poke, I hope to explain it to both you and the good doc.

Point of disclosure: In a reverse on the usual pattern, as a child I disliked the title characters for all the socially correct reasons. Chiefly, they were violent, boorish and just plain stupid. But then for some reason or another, in mid-adulthood came a revelation. I would have preferred the secret of life. All the same, it was a rethinking on the Stooges.

Comically reaffirmed in this homage/reconstruction of things Stooges, they were poor man’s Pagliaccis…uncultured pearls devoted to a controversial form. Here, given a back story about growing up in an orphanage they now must rescue from foreclosure, like the challenge Jake and Elwood faced in “The Blues Brothers” (1980), they are made human.

Well, not too human. Because what the filmmakers are particularly successful at recreating is the insular world within a world these guys occupy. It’s an existence of no rules they completely abide by, even if it means Moe, the, uh, brains of the operation, can abuse Larry and Curly for absolutely no reason whatsoever and with only rare retribution.

Of course it makes no sense…that’s the point. It’s anarchical humor with an angry edge. And, unless you’re a bit mad yourself, you know that finding the Stooges funny is its own ridiculousness…a liberating frivolity you allow yourself in an otherwise rather serious world. You laugh at yourself for guffawing… you, who graduated from the Sorbonne.

Sliced into three segments to emulate the shorts that first brought the Stooges to showbiz notoriety, the first cut begins with the triad in babyhood, dropped on the doorstep of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage. Soon not deemed the bundles of joy the nuns hoped they’d be, a mutual aggravation society forms. To the sisters’ chagrin, they are never adopted.

But oh, they almost were, by a rich couple, who instead chose normal little Teddy, and from that springs the plot that leads the grown-up hell-raisers, now working as the orphanage handymen, to their adventure in the outside world. This will include being part of a murder plot and rubbing elbows with no less a personage than reality TV’s Snooki.

Laughing when Miss Polizzi is the recipient of a classic Stooge eye poke, you wonder, if Emily Post were alive, if this one instance of bad taste would earn her dispensation. Other contemporary cues, allusions and placements help ensconce the comic trio in the 21st Century. A creatively assembled supporting cast suffers well their mischievous nihilism.

Larry David is a stitch as Sister Mary-Mengele, the martinet nun. Jane Lynch plays the unfazed Mother Superior. And Sofia Vergara is the vamp who tries to dupe the boys into bumping off her spouse by dangling $833,000…ironically just what it’ll take to save the orphanage. But fret not. Despite all proof to the contrary, the Stooges are nobody’s fools.

In the finest comic tradition, they are heroes despite themselves…their ultimately noble deeds a seemingly unconscious byproduct of their harebrained bumbling. If you think about it, it’s a metaphoric microcosm for all of humanity’s wonderings and wanderings. That the Farrellys found three actors to actualize their vision is itself a lucky inspiration.

Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively, slip into their living oxymorons with seamless aplomb. The physical similarities, the likeness of voice and spot-on gesticulations go a long way to convince us that the spirit of this odd little niche in the realm of slapstick has indeed been resurrected.

Still, it bears noting that those who find these Vaudevillian rabble-rousers total anathema will doubtfully be converted. Likewise, were it not for the built-in paean, it probably wouldn’t be as funny. Thus, plaudits aside, and using logic “The Three Stooges” might themselves appreciate, I can’t possibly give a movie more than one popcorn per Stooge.


 “The Three Stooges,” rated PG, is a Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation release directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly and stars Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso. Running time: 92 minutes 




PHOTOS: Cemetery kiosk

Observer photo by Luke Baynes

Life Scout Avery Caterer plunges a ceremonial shovel into the earth to mark the groundbreaking of a kiosk that will serve as a guide to locate the tombstones of the military veterans laid to rest within East Cemetery’s confines.

Avery Caterer with cemetery commissioners Lynwood Osborne and Bea Harvey.

A stake commemorates a veteran of the War of 1812.

PHOTOS: WCS Dance-a-rama

Observer photo by Luke Baynes

WCS’ second annual ‘Dance-A-Rama’ on April 19.

PHOTOS: CVU boys lacrosse

Observer photos by Shane Bufano

CVU loses against South Burlington 11-3 on Saturday, April 21.

Academic honors

Scholarship awarded to Schneider

Samuel Schneider of Williston has been awarded a Goldwater scholarship for his work. He attends Hobart William Smith College, and is majoring in chemistry. Samuel attended Williston schools and Champlain Valley Union High School. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.


Hildebrand receives scientific prize 

David G. Hildebrand of Williston had been selected as the mathematics department recipient of the Francis L. Town Scientific Prize for the Dartmouth College class of 2013. The prize was established by bequest of Francis L. Town, a member of the class of 1856, and is offered annually to “one meritorious and deserving student in each department of scientific study at the College,” at the end of sophomore year. David is the son of Vicki and Brian Hildebrand of Williston, and is a 2009 graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School.


Burlington Technical Center honor roll

The following Champlain Valley High School students earned an A- or better in their Burlington Technical Center programs, placing them on the Burlington Technical Center honor roll for the third quarter:

Phillip Clark, Criminal Justice

Taylor Degree, Design & Illustration

Tyler Fountain, Computer Systems

Sarah Gerry, Criminal Justice

Austin LaBerge, Auto Body Repair

Elizabeth Ladd, Honors Medical & Sports Sciences

Sophie Lapointe, Design & Illustration

Chloe Ring, Design & Illustration


Vermont Commons honor roll

The following local students made the third quarter honor roll at Vermont Commons School.

Anna Leffler, 8th grade, Williston

Phineas Schlossberg, 12th grade, St. George


Jagar receives Presidential Award 

Champlain College senior Viktor Jagar of Williston was recognized for his achievements at the third annual Graduate and Trustee Dinner held recently at Champlain College. Jagar, who will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in software engineering, received the Presidential Award. This award is given by the President of the College to the man or woman who has exhibited outstanding campus leadership.


Dean’s list

Rachel Distler, daughter of Frank and Lynn Distler of Williston, was named to the Dean’s list for the fall 2011 semester at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Recipe Corner

By Ginger Isham

Best French Dressing

Soak a clove of garlic, cut in half , in 1 cup vinegar for at least 30 minutes. Remove the garlic and save for a soup.

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt (I use less)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 and ½ cups salad oil

Mix all together. Can use different flavored vinegars.

Green Salad for Calcium

Mixer of torn greens such as spinach, collards, beet tops, kale, lettuce leaves. Crumble feta cheese over greens. Sprinkle with dressing made of 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons water.

For the Grill

Soak meat, fish or poultry in an inexpensive balsamic vinegar before cooking on grill. Baste frequently with the vinegar.

The best and original balsamic vinegar comes from Italy, where it is aged in barrels made of ash, cherry, juniper, beech, chestnut, locust, mulberry or red, white or French oak.


 Fun for the Kids

 See-Thru Eggs

Soak eggs for 24 hours in vinegar and then drain and soak again. Soon all the eggshells will disappear and you can see clear, wiggly eggs.

Dancing Snowballs

Mix equal parts vinegar and water. Take a handful of mothballs and sprinkle baking soda over them. Put in a tall, clear vase. Pour the vinegar water over them slowly and watch them dance.

Homemade Citrus Vinegar

Mix 3 cups white vinegar and heat to just before boiling. Pour this over 1 and ½ cups sugar and ½ cup of thin strips of  orange, grapefruit and lemon peel.

Pickled Eggs

Hard boil eggs. Remove shells. Push 5 or 6 whole cloves in each egg. Cover the eggs with vinegar and leave in frig for several days. You can add pepper, mustard or salt to the vinegar if you wish.


On a different note – In the 1600s and 1700s, women carried little boxes called vinaigrettes that held vinegar soaked sponges. There were openings in the top of the boxes so that the women could sniff the vinegar to protect them from foul odors and diseases. These boxes were made of silver or gold.

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

CVU’s shorthanded LAX men seek to shake off loss

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Chris Bulla cradles past the defense during CVU’s match against South Burlington on Saturday, April 21. (Observer photos by Shane Bufano)

With a half-dozen players on spring break trips, the defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High boys lacrosse team saw its season opening five-game win streak snapped Saturday by visiting title hopeful South Burlington High at the Redhawks’ Hinesburg hillside nest.

Coach Dave Trevithick and his red and white outfit then faced some team travels. They were slated to motor down I-89 to Hanover N.H. High Wednesday (after Observer press time) and on Friday hit the road south to Rutland High.

Their next home game is Tuesday when rival Essex High rolls into Hinesburg for the first clash with the Hawks since last June’s title match at Castleton State College The Hornets came into this week with just one loss, that to a New York State team.

Not much was happening for the Redhawks on a rain threatening Saturday morning when South Burlington charged to a 11-3 triumph. The Rebels’ freshman attacker, Cam Nolting, slammed home goals in the first two minutes of the contest and South Burlington was on a roll.

CVU’s Griffin Brady, on an assist from Chris Bulla, made it 2-1 with nine minutes and two seconds left in the quarter, taking advantage of a Rebel penalty. South Burlington then scored the next three goals in the period, Eric Davidson and Nolting again igniting the run.

Chandler Jacobson looks for a hole in the defense. CVU lost 11-3.

CVU trailed 6-1 when Bulla scored the Hawks’ second goal with 5:04 remaining in the first half. CVU then went scoreless until the final reel when Steele Dubrul found the net. Dubrul was also effective in winning midfield face offs much of the day.

Last Wednesday, at full strength, the Redhawks rumbled into St. Albans and zinged Bellows Free Academy by a 13-1 count as Christian Goulette put up a super game with four goals and three assists. There was plenty of help from Bulla and Charlie Shea with three goals each, while singletons came from the sticks of Hoyt McCuin, Jack Gingras and Garrett Linck. Netminders Owen Hudson and Will Fay stopped eight Bobwhite shots.

Homestand coming up for CVU baseball team

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

After a scheduled trip to Middlebury Union High Tuesday was postponed due to weather, the Champlain Valley Union High baseball team now looks to open a four-game homestand on Thursday with Spaulding High of Barre in Hinesburg with a 4 p.m. first pitch.

Mount Mansfield Union, 3-0 to start the week, rolls into CVU for a Saturday morning (11 o’clock) session followed by the Essex High Hornets on Tuesday.

In their one home appearance Friday, coach Tim Albertson’s Redhawks unloaded a 10-1 bamboozle on 2-2 St. Johnsbury Academy in a hitting and pitching fest that hiked the Hawks’ season mark to 3-0.

Expert slinging and bashing came from senior Curt Echo as he tossed a complete game three-hitter and, proving pitchers can hit, crushed a triple and two singles for two runs batted in.

On the mound, the veteran righthander hit his spots on the corners of the plate and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before weakening a tad to finish with eight strikeouts and but one walk.

“I hung a few pitches,” said Echo of the Hilltoppers trio of late singles.

In the fifth, Echo produced a hurler’s dream inning, striking out all three St. Johnsbury batters (five-six-seven in the lineup) on the absolute minimum nine pitches. That is a very rare occasion.

“Curt threw very well today,” said Albertson.

Back on the whack side, the distance doozie of the day was the Big D, first baseman Davis Mikell, who slugged doubles to left center and deep right to drive home three tallies. Tucker Kohlasch unloaded two singles and a sacrifice fly from the leadoff spot. Brendan Davitt slashed a pair of singles and scored two runs in the ninth hole. Jeff Badger socked an RBI double and drew a walk in four trips.

Senior shortstop and captain Drew Nick had a walk and sacrifice fly in three trips to the platter, while flawlessly handling five grounders in the infield.

The Hilltoppers’ only ball out of the infield until the sixth was a third inning fly to Lawrence Halvorson in right.

Sports Roundup

CVU softball seeks first win Thursday

When Spaulding High of Barre comes to Champlain Valley Union High on Thursday (4 p.m.) for a softball confrontation, one team will emerge with its initial victory of the campaign.

The Crimson Tide is 0-4 following a 6-2 defeat Tuesday at Colchester High.

CVU, 0-3, had its scheduled Tuesday contest at Middlebury postponed.

Coach Sara Armstrong Donegan’s youthful Redhawks — just one senior on the roster-—bowed on Friday at home 13-4 to St. Johnsbury Academy.

Junior Alannah Roy led the Hawks’ offense with a double and single.


The Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team, following spring break, will return to the business of netting goals on Tuesday under the lights at Essex High.

Game time for the varsity is 7 p.m. with jayvees to kick off the competition in a 5:15 p.m. lid-lifter.

The Redhawks take a 3-2 record into the fray following an 11-5 home loss to a solid South Burlington High unit last Friday.

Abby Owens paced the Hawks with a pair of scores. Veteran Allie Flaherty was the Rebels’ leader with four goals.

Vermont Enhanced 911 board launches ‘text-to-911’ trial

Verizon Wireless customers can now send a text message to 911 from locations in Vermont for emergency help as part of a six-month trial to test the potential of this technology.

From now until Oct.15, the Williston Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) will accept 911 text messages from Verizon Wireless customers as part of a collaboration between the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board, Verizon Wireless and Intrado. Intrado, a Colorado-based emergency communications technology provider, installed next-generation 911 software that enables text messaging in the Williston PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point).

Although there have been trials in other parts of the country, this will be the first statewide trial in Vermont to enable “text-to-911” technology using 911 digits and live call takers. The trial is being provided at no cost to Vermont.

All text messages to 911 originating from a Verizon Wireless device in Vermont will be routed to the Williston PSAP, which will coordinate with the appropriate local first responders to respond to the emergency. In order to do this, texters should include the location of the emergency in the first message.

According to David Tucker, Executive Director of the Enhanced 911 Board, this trial is intended to examine use of text-to-911 for two types of emergency situations: those experienced by someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing; or those in which the caller might be in additional danger if someone overhears them making a voice call to 911.

“Vermont has one of the most advanced 911 systems in the country, and by undertaking this trial, we are giving deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals a way to directly contact 911 without the use of a TTY attachment to their mobile phone. Others who may be victims of domestic violence or in some other dangerous situation and might not be able to safely make a voice call to 911 could also use this technology. This trial, which is scheduled to go through mid-October, is intended to explore the value of text-to-911 in these situations,” said Tucker.

Tucker explained that there are several parameters that users should be aware of before sending an emergency text message to 911. “We need to test and evaluate all aspects of ‘text-to-911’ technology before any potential widespread implementation,” Tucker said. “We understand there is strong interest in this new technology, but we need to better understand how the current technology works and help our own operations, as well as helping Verizon Wireless and Intrado to learn from our experience before possibly rolling out this technology permanently.”

“We applaud the state’s vision in launching this trial,” said Dami Hummel, vice president and general manager of Intrado’s Mobility division. “There are more than 36 million deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in this country, and a statewide deployment such as this not only benefits the citizens of Vermont, but it goes a long way toward proving how valuable this capability is on a nationwide basis.”