May 27, 2018

“Her” Programmed to Entertain He, She and It



By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Oh, to be 17 or 18 again, and blown away by a potentially transformative, epiphanic film like Spike Jonze’s “Her.” Life-affirming, bursting with originality and full of the promise that there is indeed a greater understanding somewhere out there, it’s the sort of revelation that makes you want to explore and learn forever and ever.


Alas, I cannot complain. Mine was admittedly Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). It still holds water. And I experienced it amidst the mood and ritual of the 1960s…no, I cannot complain. The experience was reawakened with this terrifically absorbing reminder that the thread of great, high concept thought in cinema has not been lost.


“Her” is set in the presumably near future, and trying to figure out exactly just when is part of the deliciously provocative wonderment. Act 1, scene 1, we are introduced to Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly, a sensitive, lonely chap who earns a living writing emotive letters for his contemporaries who have lost that ability in this Brave New World.


Earpiece in place, he is ubiquitously connected through the Internet, if that’s what they still call it, to friends, associates, and even temporary playmates, when he so wishes. His divorce pending, he explores all the possibilities, cyber and human, that might ameliorate the emptiness and uncertainty the dissolution of his marriage has caused. Some are funny, some sad…but none hold the key.


And then, simple and innocent enough at first, purchased with no ulterior motive other than to help ease and facilitate his daily routine, unlikely romance arrives in the personage of Samantha, his new OS (operating system). Bright, winsome, mysterious, beneficent and, in the great custom of similarly improbable fantasies dating back to the ancient sailors and their mermaids, well, she sure seems real.


Problem is, though perhaps in a way as attractive to Theo as any supermodel, she has no body. But then, to quote Joe E. Brown’s Osgood Fielding III in “Some Like it Hot” (1959), “Well, nobody’s perfect!” Theo doesn’t mind, at least not for the time being.


It builds slowly. She is at first just one step up from an imaginary friend, someone to talk to, to share thoughts and emotions with, and quite satisfactorily so. Interestingly, whether they’re being the new politically correct or truly tolerant, Theo’s friends seem more intrigued than taken aback by confession of his E-affaire de coeur.


In fact, at a co-workers behest, he’s soon double dating. Samantha is wonderfully convenient…as portable as the picnic basket he brings along, and she doesn’t have him cooling his heels while she does her makeup. There she is, beautiful as ever, or so we imagine, sexily voiced by Scarlett Johansson, living somewhere in Theo’s phone.


She is the deus ex machina transformed into female co-star… a hypothetical window into the world past the stars and quixotically beyond human comprehension. She is part Eve, part oracle and maybe even the link to greater spiritual enlightenment. Psst! She begins to evolve.


So there, I’ve perhaps told you too much. Blame it on Scarlett Johansson’s fine verbalizations. It evokes effusive contemplation. While it’s unlikely an off-stage voice will ever be nominated for an Oscar, the respectful whimsy should at least occur to Academy members.


Auteur Jonze’s tour de force entertainingly jettisons convention and celebrates all potentiality. His script rife with techno-ethereal implications, credit him with just the sort of mind-expanding postulations Arthur C. Clarke might very well have written. He is substantively championed in his world creation by much of the same crew that won him accolades for “Adaptation” (2002) and “Being John Malkovich” (1999).


Art director Austin Gorg helps create an L.A. at once recognizable but nonetheless different in its can’t-put-your-finger-on-it, futuristic assumption. If there’s poverty or crime, it has eluded the camera. The only car is the one in a cartoon shown to Theo by his friend and confidante, Amy, a video game creator empathetically exacted by Amy Adams. She’s the first human he tells about his developing tête-à-tête with Samantha.


Adding to the je-ne-sais-quoi aura of this fictional civilization residing just over the next epochal horizon are the comfortably practical (but not bereft of style) duds. They are an era-effective collaboration between costume designer Casey Storm and fashion house Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon. Erin Goldberger, my own contribution to the future and the director of Half Gallery, New York, describes the understated look as “Comme de Garçons meets Yves Saint Lauren inside a motherboard.” It works. It’s now … but not.


Wrought in the best science fiction tradition, this is a grand, creative metaphor, a social criticism smartly addressing our ironically increasing lack of interpersonal communication in the Information Age. But most pronounced among its artistic distinctions, when it comes to mind-enchanting, infinite speculation that’ll have you mulling all the possibilities for days, you really have to hand it to “Her.”

“Her,” rated R, is a Warner Bros. release directed by Spike Jonze and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. Running time:  126 minutes



Recipe Corner: Easy Quick Breads

By Ginger Isham

The first quick bread was called corn bread. It was made by the Native Americans, who introduced it to the early settlers when they arrived in this country. It became especially popular during the Civil War, when times were hard. These are two of my favorite quick breads.


Applesauce oatmeal bread

1 cup sugar (I use 3/4 or 2/3 cup)

2 eggs

1/3 cup canola or light-tasting olive oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

1/2 cup oatmeal (regular or quick, I put regular through my food processor)

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Beat sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together. Mix dry ingredients together and add this mixture alternately with the applesauce. Add nuts and stir until all is moistened. Pour batter into three small loaf pans, two medium pans or one large loaf pan that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or less for smaller loaves. Remove from oven, let cool 5-8 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack.


Pumpkin orange spice bread

1 1/2 cups white flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon EACH ginger and cloves

1 cup sugar (use 2/3 or 3/4)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in center. Mix rest of ingredients and pour into the bowl. Stir just until moistened. Pour batter into one 8-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes for one loaf or less time for smaller loaves. Cool 5-8 minutes and turn out onto cooling rack.

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



Dr. Cliffe D. Joel

Aug. 10, 1932 -Jan. 9, 2014

Dr. Cliffe D. Joel was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, where his father was a soil conservation professor and his mother an artist before beginning a family avocado farm in sunny Vista, Calif. Cliffe graduated from Pomona College and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from Harvard University. While subsequently working at Harvard Medical School, his research on the role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain was related to the current omega-3 fatty acid trend. Cliffe then moved to Appleton, Wis., with then-wife, Peteranne, to establish 30-year careers together as professors of chemistry at Lawrence University and to raise their three children.

Most important to Cliffe was family. He was a loving, patient and involved son, dad, grandpa and husband. He also thoroughly enjoyed teaching and took special interest in his students, especially those who were struggling. Classical music and singing were among Cliffe’s passions. He demonstrated his love for nature through camping, hiking, traveling and gardening. He ran marathons, and in later years he became famous for his long walks with his walker that he fashioned with two vases to fill with flowers picked along the way. He was a gentle and caring man, known to sneak bells on the collars of neighborhood cats to protect his beloved birds. Cliffe was ever a bit rebellious, but never without a noble cause.

In 1999, Cliffe and his second wife, Emma, moved to Oceanside, Calif., close to where he’d grown up. They enjoyed traveling, the ocean, gardening and spending time with Emma’s children and grandchildren. Cliffe volunteered in the Stephen Ministry Program and taught NAMI classes. In 2010, due to progressing health problems, Cliffe moved to Vermont to be closer to his children. He became an avid fan of his grandchildren’s music and sporting events.

Cliffe was preceded in death by his father, Arthur Joel; mother, Nila May Joel; and brother, Ronald Joel. He is survived by a loving family including his daughter, Dr. Lisa Angstman and husband, Paul Angstman, and grandchildren, Nicholas, Samantha, Isabelle and Baker; son, Eric Joel, and grandchildren, Conifer, Jack, Lucy and Molly; daughter, Sara Joel and husband, Dr. Ashesh Mehta, and grandchildren, Desmond, Jasmine and Sabrina; his wife, Emma and her son, Daniel Cullinan, and granddaughter, Aiyana, daughter, Deborah Cullinan and husband, Kevin Cunz, and grandson, Hayden, and daughter, Lisa Cullinan; and his former wife and friend, Dr. Peteranne Joel and her partner, Don Manley.

Cliffe’s family wishes to thank the many kind people who enhanced his quality of life during his years in Vermont: Dr. Marvin Klikunas, Dr. Karen Cleary, Dr. Heather Finley, Dr. James Boyd, Dr. Marc Tischler, Dr. Paul Penar, Dr. Susan Dunning, Dr. Mark Whitaker, Margaret Sicotte, Au.D., the Luse Center, the caregivers and kindhearted neighbors of Pillsbury Manor South, LongTermCare Ombudswoman, Susan Alexander, Esq., and Chief Trevor Whipple and the South Burlington Police Dept.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Me2/Music for Mental Health, which is a beautiful local organization that combines Cliffe’s passions for classical music and positive mental health. Donations can be made online at www.Me2/, or mailed c/o Lisa Angstman, 127 Brookside Dr., Williston, VT 05495.
Online condolences may be left at



Julie Carpenter Grunvald, 54, passed away peacefully at her home on Jan. 18, 2014, surrounded by her loving family. Her kindness and engaging ways always endeared her to everyone she met. Her strength and determination allowed her to live a full and inspirational life with cancer until the end.

Julie was born July 24, 1959, to the late William and Daisy Riddel Carpenter of Montpelier. She graduated from Montpelier High School in 1977, and the University of Vermont in 1981 with a degree in Physical Therapy. Julie was an active and caring person who loved the outdoors. Her interests included walking, bird watching, snowshoeing, skiing and spending time at her camp on Lake Champlain. She enjoyed working with young children at the Williston Ski Program at Cochran’s Ski Area. She enjoyed many years and friendships as a physical therapist. Her best times were those spent with her family. Julie truly knew what it meant to care for and accept others. Her kindness and empathy will be missed by all her family, friends and colleagues. Her hobbies included gardening, rug hooking and felting, Mahjong, reading and traveling with family and friends. She was an avid fan of her children’s sports, never missing an event. Julie married Lloyd Grunvald on July 29, 1990. She is survived by her husband, Lloyd, and their three children, Miles (22), Hannah (20) and Warren (18), all of Williston. Julie also leaves behind her four siblings and their spouses, USAF Col. (Ret.) William Carpenter and wife, Iris, of Colorado Springs, Colo., Mary Phalen and husband, Kim, of Montpelier, Sara Gage and husband, Tom, of North Clarendon, and Brian Carpenter and wife, Kate, of Stowe; mother- and father-in-law, Harriet and Marcel Grunvald of Burlington; brother- and sister-in-law, Jeff and Mary Grunvald of Colchester; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Funeral services were held at Temple Sinai, 500 Swift St., South Burlington, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, with interment following in Ahavath Gerim Cemetery Temple Sinai Section, 204 Patchen Road, South Burlington. Shiva will be held at the Grunvald home in Williston on Thursday from 2 until 6 p.m. and Friday from 1 until 5 p.m. Arrangements are by Boucher and Pritchard Funeral Directors. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Julie’s name to the Cochran’s Ski Area, c/o the Williston After-School Ski Program, 910 Cochran Rd., Richmond, VT 05477.


Irene E. (Bonnette) Mount

March 12, 1926 – Jan. 6, 2014


Bon Jour! I am happy and excited—I have gone home to be with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I thought I’d never get here!

At the time of writing my obituary (Sept. 20, 1995) I’m in pretty good shape physically and feel fine—the best time to do this task and have it the way I want it. This morning I met with my dear Pastor Larry Rabon to arrange my funeral service. I also met with our organist, dear Yvonne Grover. Yvonne and I picked out the beautiful music that I have loved over the years. It was very exhilarating to choose my hymns and music that have touched my heart and fit them into their place in my service.

I was a first generation American, the third child and second daughter of German immigrants. My brother and sister were also German immigrants. I was born in Yonkers, N.Y. I grew up in Yonkers and went through all the appropriate schools.

My son Kenneth Waterson Resi, parents Ludwig and Amelia Rogers, brother Herbert Rogers, sister Charlotte “Lottie” Aluisio, daughter-in-law David’s wife Millicent Carr Resi and step-daughter Joann Bonnette Desmond have already gone ahead of me to Paradise—but I have left behind my dearest niece, Carol R. Moore and husband John, and nephews, grand nieces and nephews and also great grand nieces and nephews. I also leave my step-children, David Bonnette, Jim Bonnette and their spouses, children and grandchildren. I will also miss my very close, loving and true friend Dennis Thibeault. I married Louis A. Resi in 1947. We had three children, Kenny, Nancy and David. Our marriage terminated in divorce. Later on I met and married a wonderful man—Leo A. Bonnette. Our happiness here on earth ended when Leo went ahead to Paradise in 1983. Years down the road I met and married Armas “Army” Mount—again the happiness suddenly ended with dear Arm’s demise in 1992.

I’ve worked over the years and enjoyed that—some places more than others. In recent years I’ve especially enjoyed working at Aesculapius Medical Center.

My great joy is my beloved Community Lutheran Church in South Burlington. If you’d like, memorial remembrances may be sent to my church at 1560 Williston Road, South Burlington, VT 05403.

Services were held at Community Lutheran Church on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 with the heart of why I was on this planet. They are my life’s greatest accomplishment—my children—my son Kenneth Waterson Resi whom I am now in Paradise with, Nancy Irene Resi, David Carl Resi, and my dear granddaughter Elizabeth Irene Resi. I am also survived by Ken’s wife Dorothy Wilson and Nancy’s husband James S. Kelley “Jimmy-Steve.”

When you talk with them, please smile and share a moment that was fun that you and I had together. If you were unable to attend please visit and share your stories of fun moments we had together.

High-flying Hilltoppers visit CVU hoop guys Friday

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Nipped 59-54 at North Country Union High Tuesday night, the 4-7 Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team will try to rekindle that winning feeling they had Saturday in a home win over Spaulding High Friday night when powerful St. Johnsbury Academy comes calling at Bremner Gymnasium.

The Hilltoppers entered the week with a 6-2 record and have not lost to in-state competition including the Division’s big iron.

Coach Michael Osborne’s Redhawks fell to 4-5 North Country due in large part to the Falcons’ 17-0 second period outburst that left CVU scrambling.

Lucas Aube and Ryan Schneiderman were the Redhawks’ scoring leaders with 12 points each.

Aube was coming off a super performance Saturday in which he meshed 21 points and hauled in 13 rebounds to help CVU turn away 4-5 Spaulding.

Aube and fellow front-court big man Brandon O’Connell (6 points, 5 rebounds) kept the Crimson Tide’s twin towers Zach Rochford (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Marcus Thornton (9 points, 9 rebounds) under reasonable control.

The Redhawks, occasionally victimized this season by icy periods of Klondike shooting, showed offensive patience with the result a bingo of 50 percent (20-for-40) success in pops from the floor.

Also pitching in were Schneiderman (8 points, 4 assists), Chris Reiss (7 points, 4 rebounds) and Richard Baccei (6 points).

Down 9-3 early, CVU let loose with a 12-point run that carried into the second reel and led to a 26-16 advantage by intermission.

The Redhawks stayed on course after the break and opened as much as a 17-point 43-26 edge in the third period. However, Spaulding created an 11-0 bamboozler of its own before the ‘Hawks rapped for order to finish the game with a 10-2 burst. They were helped by sinking six of nine free throws down the stretch, with Reiss hitting four of four.

The Saturday morning prelim went to coach Seth Emerson’s Redhawk junior varsity team by a 76-36 blowout. The little ‘Hawks took a 9-1 record to North Country.

Sports Roundup


The Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls Alpine ski team will be at Sugarbush Resort Saturday to swoosh through the slalom course in interscholastic competition.

The Redhawks’ teams each finished fifth Monday in a nine-team giant slalom at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. South Burlington High won both divisions.

Top CVU boys finisher was Skye Golann in eighth place. Emma Putre, also in eighth, paced the ‘Hawks girls.

Mount Mansfield Union had the two individual winners: Kyle Polsona and Ali Chivers.


The Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls Nordic ski teams scored victories Monday at Middlebury despite the absence of some of their top performers.

The boys’ win was led by third place Thomas Clayton and fifth place Cooper Wilsey, with the Redhawks also taking 14th, 15th and 16th.

The girls grouped up with Anna Franceschetti (sixth) Rachel Slimovitch (seventh), Evelyn Needham (eighth) and Allison Spasyk (10th).

Gone for New England Junior National team trials in Rumford, Me. were Charlie Maitland of the boys team, along with Autumn Eastman, Cally Braun and Tatum Braun of the girls team.

There will be four more trial races before the team is named. The Nationals will take place in March at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.

The CVU teams both placed second in Friday’s 11-school pursuit at the Jericho firing range.

Francesshetti led the CVU girls with a seventh overall. For the boys, Clayton was fifth and Wilsey 10th.

Alissa Stone of the girls team had to navigate some difficult times in the classic, according to coach Sarah Strack.

The mentor said Stone started in the lead of the 140-skier start. She lost one of her poles when it was stepped on, soldiered on with one pole before getting a short one for the finish. She fell back to 38th at one point, but got back within the top 30 to be eligible for the transition to skate, which required a change of skies.


After a rough patch of four straight losses to top-flight foes, the Champlain Valley Union-South Burlington High Red-Hawks were in Barre Wednesday night hoping to pop the Crimson Tide for a second time this season.

The 4-6 Reb-Hawks bopped the Tide 7-3 on their Cairns Arena home ice in early December.

They return to Cairns Saturday (at 6 p.m.) to meet Harwood Union High, a unit they whipped 7-2 on the road last month.

On Monday, the CVU-SB girls travel to Highgate to take on Missisquoi Valley Union in the make-up of a postponed contest.

The Reb-Hawks bowed to 8-1-2 Essex High at Cairns Saturday by a 3-0 tally. Goalie Courtney had 22 saves for the Hawks.


Fresh from the weekend’s two-day Michael J. Baker Classic tournament at Essex High, the Champlain Valley Union High wrestling team goes to Colchester High Saturday for competition beginning at 9 a.m.

The big Baker Tournament saw another solid performance by the Redhawks’ Grant Poston, who took second place in the 170-pound class.

Kienan Kittredge (195) was fourth, while sixth place finishes were earned by Alex Legg (132) and Jarett Legg (106).


The Champlain Valley Union High gymnastics team travels to East Montpelier and U-32 Saturday for a 1 p.m. session with the Raiders.

Coach Bob Abbott’s team is out to regain its winning ways after getting upended by defending state champion Essex Friday night at the home Green Mountain Gymnastics facility.

Essex won by a substantial 139.50 to 124.55 margin.

Top performers for the Redhawks were Julia Higa, who tied for third on the vault and Sarah Kinsley with a third place tie on the beam.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


Toughies Burlington, Rice next for unbeaten CVU girls basketball team

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The foes get more robust and the schedule gets NBA-like condensed as the 10-0 defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High girls’ basketball team enters the second half of the regular season at home Thursday night (7 p.m.).

Rolling into Bremner Gymnasium will be 6-4 Burlington High. The Seahorses had high expectations for the season but recently have been hit by injuries. They bowed at home to Rice Memorial High 59-39 Friday night. BHS hiked its record to 7-4 Monday night with an easy 46-21 triumph at 2-7 North Country Union High.

Rice, 9-1, will play host to the Redhawks Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The Green Knights have not lost since getting ripped 52-32 by CVU on Dec. 27 in Hinesburg.

Coach Ute Otley’s Hawks then begin a compressed three-games-a-week routine Monday, when St. Johnsbury Academy shows up at the Hinesburg hoop house.

The latest victory for CVU came Friday night. It was a bruising defensive struggle with 7-3 Essex High that the Redhawks finally put away with a late 10-2 run, cementing a 49-34 decision.

The post-exam-week contest was not necessarily pretty, but as Otley observed after the contest, some of these players had been up late all week hitting the books to prepare for tests.

The shooting showed it for both teams. CVU, usually close to 50 percent from the floor in recent home outings, fell off to 14-for-39, just under 36 percent. Essex was a tad better, knocking in 41 percent, or 14 of 34 shots.

The Hornets had their defensive A game going, but paid a price for it, as CVU got to the charity stripe for 37 shots, making a somewhat mediocre 20.  However, that was well up on Essex, which was awarded but 13 free flips and bagged only four.

Down, 13-11 after the first quarter, CVU went to the mobocracy defense and limited the Hornets to a trickle of eight shots and two baskets in the second period for a 22-17 advantage at intermission.

The Redhawks held the lead for the remainder of the game but were unable to put it away until the late stages of the final reel when they swished 12 of 18 free throws on what had been an unusually difficult evening at the freebie place.

CVU had a 25-20 advantage on the boards but it was hard work.

“Yes, it was tough,” said Amanda Beatty of the war on the boards. The senior put in a rock solid night with a game-high 16 points and six rebounds.

“Tough,” agreed center Laurel Jaunich, who had nine grabs off the glass in elbow country to go with 11 points and four steals.

Emily Kinneston snared 11 points to go with two assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Sadie Otley had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a pair of thefts.

Center Kara Sheftic, hampered by foul trouble, and Mychaela Harton led Essex with seven points each. Sydney Duncan had six. Duncan and Sheftic fouled out in the final minute.

The CVU junior varsity lifted its record to 10-0 with a 67-16 rout of the Little Hornets.

Lakers up next for CVU boys hockey

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The unbeaten Champlain Valley Union High boys’ hockey team was in Barre to meet 2-6-4 Spaulding High Wednesday night, its second contest of the season with the Crimson Tide. The Redhawks took the first encounter 6-1 at their home Cairns Arena.

Coach Mike Murray’s 10-0-1 combine will encounter 8-3 Colchester High Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cairns for the third time this winter, owning 2-1 and 4-1 victories in the previous affairs.

Last Saturday afternoon, the ‘Hawks humbled 8-3 Essex High 5-1. It was their initial collision of the campaign with the always-contending Hornets, who came to Cairns with a six-game winning streak in tow.

After emerging from the first stanza with a 1-1 tie, the Redhawks scored the final four goals of the game and held Essex to but 11 shots on goalie Greg Talbert over the final two periods.

Murray said his defense “did a good job” in making sure Essex players’ shots were not “meaningful.”

Senior Will Bernicke, who opened the contest with a slick move through the Essex defense for a goal with just a minute and 10 seconds gone in the first period, added his second score late in the second reel on a tip in from a group grope in front of the Hornets’ cage.

Defensemen Oscar Kelly and Alex Bulla assisted.

That was a key tally in that it put CVU up 3-1 and left Essex in extremis.

The coup de grace came on third period goals by Ryan Keelan and Cam Rivard.

Freshman Thomas Samuelsen claimed the go-ahead score, putting the Redhawks up 2-1 with 3:40 gone in the second period. Keelan and Rivard assisted.

Essex’s lone score came less than a minute after Bernicke’s first period how-do-you-do shocker (to the Hornets). Senior co-captain Steve Morse knocked the puck past Talbert from out of a crowd in front of the CVU net.

“I lost sight of it,” said Talbert of the elusive puck.

The Redhawks outshot Essex 25-18, owning a solid edge in play over the final two periods. CVU penalty killers were very effective holding Essex from taking a shot on Talbert in two of the three shorthanded situations.

“We work on being aggressive to the puck,” Murray said of the man-down situations.

“The defense makes my job easier,” added Talbert.

The goalie’s magic mitt snapped a couple of Essex hard shots out of the air among his 17 stops.

Young Writers Project: gift and general writing

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences through the Newspaper Series (and and the Schools Project ( YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to donate to YWP, go to

This week, students submitted general writing pieces and responses to the prompt “Gift: Have you received something that you cherish more than anything?”


My Gift

By Varsha Karthikeyan 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

Have I ever received anything that I cherish more than anything? Yes! My little brother. My brother was the best thing that ever happened to me. It all started when I was quite little.

My mom walked into the living room and whispered in my ear, “Varsha, you are going to have a baby brother!” I looked a bit startled right then, but on the inside I felt like I was flying. I started thinking about how he was going to be. I imagined him with small little eyes and an itty-bitty mouth. I just couldn’t wait. I got more excited every day as I knew it was almost time for his birth.

There he was, sleeping in a little cradle. His cheeks were soft as marshmallows and as fluffy as cotton candy. He reminded me of a little puppy. I leaned forward and gave him a kiss on his rosy cheeks. His eyes glimmered in the light.

I asked my mom, “What is his name?” She said, “Mithun!” I mean, I should have known. It is, after all, a name of a famous Indian movie star. I stared at my brother and I whispered, “Mithun? That’s the perfect name for you. Just so you know, I always wanted a little brother!” I chuckled a little. I am very glad I have a little brother. He was the best gift that I have ever received. I will cherish him for the rest of my life!


The Forest Watcher

By Olivia Cabral 

Grade 5, Williston Central School 

In the forest, behind my neighborhood, there is this creature—a creature only some people have seen, and it’s called the Forest Watcher.

She watches over the forests, keeping them safe from harm. She has straight long brown hair with the most beautiful tulips and posies growing in there. She has pale green skin and dark green eyes.

If you are walking in a forest and something dashes past you, she is right behind you, but you just can’t see her. If you see something like a little girl in a tree up above you, then look again, you are staring right at her.

The Forest Watcher is a very mysterious creature. I’ve seen her once, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see her too.

The Apple Tree Myth

By Riley Brown

Grade 5, Williston Central School 

They say that in Adams Apple Orchard in Williston, Vermont there is an apple tree monster. They say at night, five trees and the light of the moon create a man, made out of twisted trees nine feet tall.

He goes around pulling trees right out of the ground. What he does with those trees is plant them right in the front yard.

And if you see him and he notices you noticing him, he throws an apple at your head—not just any apple. It turns you into an apple tree, though it takes two days.

So if this monster comes to your house, stay inside!



Shadow face

By Erin Bundock

Grade 10, Champlain Valley Union High School

I see in shapes

of orange and blue

and they fall down my face

in violent hues

that leak to my limbs

through frail fingers and


and in to my heart

where I store all my


Little Details: American Bhopal

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

“Since the time of the incident, the chemical industry has worked to voluntarily develop and implement strict safety and environmental standards and to help ensure that an incident of this type never occurs again.”

—Statement on Union Carbide Corporation’s Bhopal Information Center Webpage

Bhopal. India. Dec. 3, 1984. Individuals of a certain age and students of history likely recognize the significance. Bhopal, in Madhya Pradesh, endured the world’s largest industrial disaster.

At approximately 11 p.m., a Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) plant experienced a devastating gas leak. Forty tons of noxious methyl isocynate gas (MIC) spewed forth, contaminating the air of a nearby slum. MIC is a pesticide.

The poison committed its deadly deed with stealth and speed, infusing the lungs of sleeping victims. Eyes and skin burned with chemical fire. Coughing and vomiting racked bodies. Rhythmic patterns of inhalation and exhalation disrupted, convulsing in an agonizing dance of death. Three thousand eight hundred residents died that night. An estimated twenty thousand additional victims would experience long-term health consequences—infirmities, cancers and premature death—as a result of exposure.

UCC, headquartered in Danbury, Conn., originally tried to sidestep legal responsibility to compensate victims. Five years later, the corporation agreed to a $470 million restitution agreement.

Kanawha Valley in West Virginia is a significant hub of our nation’s chemical industry. It’s been dubbed “chemical valley” by some. Coal mining and chemicals put bread on the table and meet the mortgage for many workers whose livelihood is tied to these industries.

The Chemical Alliance Zone is a nonprofit, economic development entity charged with expanding West Virginia’s chemical employers. It appears they’ve been successful. Companies concentrated in this area of roaming rivers include UCC, Dupont, Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and Freedom Industries.

Freedom Industries was sold on Dec. 31, 2013. The new owners issued a statement on Jan. 10 announcing a chemical leak of a coal-cleansing agent from a sixty-year-old storage tank. The leak contaminated the Elk River, water source for approximately 300,000 West Virginians.

State officials issued an order advising residents that they should not drink, cook with, bathe in, launder with, flush or otherwise use their tap water. Aside from the immediate inconvenience, deeper questions linger. How long did the leak go undetected? What chemical exactly was released and what are the health and environmental implications? What are the immediate and long-term consequences of exposure? Where were the regulators?

Visiting Freedom Industries’ website, one finds a patriotic-looking, red-white-and-blue logo emblazoned with an eagle. It lists a post office box in Charleston. What you don’t find is more interesting. There is no announcement of the leak. There are no guidelines detailing safety precautions. There is no statement from the company’s leadership apologizing to the community for the dire and dangerous situation they caused. There is no mention that, as of Jan. 17, seven days after the reported spill, Liberty filed for bankruptcy—to protect their assets and put a hold on lawsuits now pending against the company.

Water systems are being flushed and water is tested. Some residents question the safety of their water, even as “do not use” orders are lifted. This is the area’s third chemical accident in five years. This is particularly unsettling when one considers the National Cancer Institute’s assertion that 80 percent of cancer deaths in our nation are linked to environmental causes.

My Massachusetts hometown was a leather manufacturing hub and host to a chemical processing plant. My Dad spent decades in Peabody’s leather factories, returning home each day tainted by the smell of chemicals. When the leather shops started closing, Dad found work at a chemical factory in the next town over, until it closed and moved to set up shop in the union-unfriendly South.

Walking to the Peabody Institute Library as a child, I passed closed leather factories where the acrid smell of noxious chemicals still hung in the air. I remember the smell; olfactory memory lingers. I also remember speculation about a cluster of childhood cancers near the chemical plant.

My father died 17 years ago of somewhat rare esophageal cancer. He was not a smoker or a heavy drinker—risk factors for the disease. A refugee, with limited education, he spent his working life in noxious chemical environments. He met another of the disease’s deadly risk factors—exposure to chemicals.

I couldn’t figure out why the chemical leak in West Virginia bothered me so much. Writing this article helped me realize why.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper, a Williston resident, was a 2013 finalist for the Coolidge Prize for Journalism.  Reader comments are welcome at or


Guest Column: The right school for your child

By Andrew Campanella

If you’d like to send your child to a different school next year, now’s the time to start the process of researching your options.

As Vermont prepares to commemorate National School Choice Week later this month at 12 events across the state, many parents will begin evaluating the educational opportunities that are available for their children.

Seats in schools are already beginning to fill up for the 2014-2015 school year. Interest in school choice—the process of actively choosing a public, charter, magnet, private, or online school—is high. That means that waiting until the spring or the summer to begin researching schools for your children could restrict your options.

Choosing schools is an individual experience that will be unique to every family, but parents can start by making a list of the attributes that they hope to find in an ideal school. Ask yourself what’s most important to you and to the academic, social and emotional wellbeing of your child.

Once you’ve identified what matters most, start looking into the options available to you. In addition to the local public school, you may be eligible to send your child to a school outside of your ZIP code, or in a different school district. Look into nearby charter schools and magnet schools. Don’t leave private and faith-based schools off your list! You might be able to find scholarships to cover the costs of tuition. And for some families, online learning and homeschooling work best.

To find the options available to you, look at information from the Vermont department of education, as well as information on state-based education reform or school choice organization websites. Private schools and scholarship programs can be researched through state chapters of the Council on American Private Education or the National Association of Independent Schools, or through local places of worship (for faith-based schools).

For a directory of most schools in your area, along with parent rankings and some performance metrics, parents can visit

With your list of requirements and schools in hand, start making appointments to visit the schools. Ask to sit in on classes, and make sure to ask as many questions as possible of teachers, the administration and support staff. You’ll want to find out what motivates the adults in the building while also seeing how the students in the classes respond to their teachers. Ask yourself if it a place you’d want to send your child for most of his or her weekday waking hours.

Finally, make sure to talk with other parents—and to your own children. Ask parents how the schools’ administrators treat parents, and whether they welcome, or discourage, parental involvement. And most importantly, ask your children about their perceptions of the schools that you’ve visited. Find out what excites and motivates your child at school, but also ask about their worries, concerns and apprehensions.

Making the decision to change schools certainly isn’t easy. And switching schools isn’t a piece of cake, either. But if you start now, and plan out the journey, you’ll find that the destination—a great school for your child—is well worth the diligence and effort.

Andrew R. Campanella is the president of National School Choice Wee, which runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.