By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer
Jake Kasdan’s “Sex Tape” accomplishes a curious thing. It’s the near surreptitious merging of traditional romantic farce with the new screwball raunchiness that’s body-snatched the American film comedy in recent years. While the prim and proper are sure to be abashed by the complications engendered when a thirty something couple’s tape of their marathon lovemaking goes viral, the jaded may be wont to wonder: When did such risqué behavior become commonplace in essentially mainstream cinema?
I don’t mean to sound hypocritical, mind you, as I probably laughed harder than any of my compatriots at the Bijou. For all the tolerance a blasé acceptance of such fare connotes, there’s still no discounting the attraction of forbidden fruit…or, what’s left of it. However, it’s sort of like watching an entire movie spoken in slang.
Fact is, though Lady Chatterley and her assorted lovers have been hiding behind the curtains of literature and film for some time now, we are at a liberal watershed in our art if, alas, not in our politics. Hopefully, this graduation from peep show to multiplex attraction isn’t Big Brother’s ploy to placate souls otherwise frustrated by his intrusions. Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) predicted it. To the Romans’s hoi polloi-appeasing bread and circus you can now add the birds and the bees gone bawdy.
I’d venture that the Founding Fathers, whose all-important First Amendment makes such open-mindedness possible, wouldn’t be terribly shocked by “Sex Tape”… at least not Ben. Fact is, it’s all rather silly, especially to us cosmopolitan types…ahem.
Unfortunately, the script, adds few novel thoughts to the litany of four-lettered favorites spouted with Gatling gun rapidity and volume. Whereas the classical screwball comedies of the 1930s and ‘40’s were all about cleverness, if you were to strip the ribald chaff from Mr. Kasdan’s movie there would hardly be a witticism worthy of a laugh.
Still, in all fairness, there is a commonality between “Sex Tape” and its genre progenitor in that social criticism is part and parcel of the plot. Whereas the Great Depression era examples understandably tackled difference in caste and financial status, here it’s the woes of the two income family trying to make time for the important stuff…like sex.
While decidedly middle class Annie and Jay, portrayed by Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, respectively, judiciously allocate time to their two offspring and have achieved notable career success, it dawns on them that the nooky quotient has dissipated. Alas, an important part of what initially strummed their heartstrings is now like that expensive restaurant you only go to on special occasions. Oh, Dr. Ruth, what to do, what to do?
All of which brings us to the title solution. The thought is that the creation of their very own bit of pornography will spark the fire that has been all but smothered by the rigors of domesticity and the complacence that comes with the passage of time. The thing is, Jay was supposed to erase the homegrown pièce de résistance right after they viewed it.
Oops! Blame it on vanity, stupidity or more likely just the need to propel the plot into the usual sitcom complications. As the unscrupulous fates would have it, a nasty little boy (Harrison Holzer), the son of Annie and Jay’s supposed best friends, has acquired a copy of the dirty deed in question. He’ll give it up for a mere 25K. Thus is put in motion the helter-skelter attempt to cut the junior blackmailer off at the pass. That is, retrieve the compromising hanky-panky before any reputations are impugned.
With the two kids in tow for part of what Annie and Jay explain is a scavenger hunt, the ensuing chaos includes a by accident/on purpose visit to the manse of Rob Lowe’s iconoclastic bigwig, Hank. He’s the espouser of family values in whose hands lies the future of the motherhood blog Annie has been trying to market. He doesn’t know it, but through a contrivance hardly worth the sentence to explain it, a copy of the telltale tape has found its way into his home. Suffice it to note, his German shepherd hates Jay.
Serving as the Fred and Ethel Mertz to our X-rated Lucy and Ricky Riccardo, Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are effective second bananas. Of course they bring their own soiled laundry to the misehgoss. But none of the generally adequate performances can compensate for the uninspired writing.
It’s like the comedian who works blue when the muse of wit has abandoned him. Such fare is OK if struck by that sudden need for frivolous slumming. But for those who prefer something that appeals to one’s better comic instincts, the advice here is to erase “Sex Tape” from your must-see list before someone sees it.
“Sex Tape,” rated R, is a Sony Pictures release directed by Jake Kasdan and stars Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Rob Lowe. Running time: 94 minutes
By Ginger Isham
It’s wonderful to have Scratch ‘N’ Earth Farm so close by. When in need of a veggie, I can go next door. A recent need for summer squash for a recipe was filled from their stand.
Golden Squash, Pepper and Tomato Gratin
3 tablespoons oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound of tomatoes, thick sliced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or plain crumbs)
Cook onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until tender. Add squash, red pepper and dash of salt and cook 7-10 minutes until tender, stir often. Stir in basil and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Place this mixture in an 11×7-inch baking dish. Top with sliced tomatoes, add sprinkle of salt, breadcrumbs and rest of cheese. Drizzle last tablespoon oil over this. Bake in 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes until heated well and topping is crisp.
Spinach Rice Casserole
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon oil
1 14-ounce can cut up Italian-style tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano or basil
8 ounces tofu, drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 package (16 ounces) fresh baby spinach, wilted
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cook onion and garlic in oil until tender, add tomatoes and oregano. Bring to boil and simmer 2-3 minutes. Place tofu in food processor and process until smooth. Add to tomato mix and stir in rice, spinach, half of cheese, salt and pepper. Put in a 2-quart, greased baking dish. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.
Careless and negligent
Marilyn Steinberg Palef, 64, of Montreal was cited by Richmond police on July 27 on a charge of careless and negligent operation of a vehicle after motorists reported that her vehicle was “operating erratically” on Interstate 89 in Williston, according to police reports. Police followed the vehicle at close distance for about 5 minutes, during which time they observed Palef swerving outside of her lane 18 times, the report notes. She was cited to appear in court on Aug. 19.
A New York resident reported to police on July 14 that his cell phone charger was stolen from his unlocked vehicle parked at Home Depot, according to police reports. No other information was released.
Clyde Bovat, 65, of St. George was cited on a charge of petit larceny on May 27 after Vermont State Police received a complaint of a stolen vehicle. Investigation revealed Bovat, the property manager of the St. George Villa trailer park, had towed the vehicle in accordance with a lease agreement. However, Bovat then towed the vehicle to Burnett Scrap Metals, where he had the vehicle scrapped, according to the report. Bovat was cited to appear in court. Burnett Scrap Metals was issued a civil violation for failing to properly document the scrap metal transaction, the report notes.
Jesse Snelling, 30, of Westminster was cited on a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct at Vermont Tap House on July 14, according to police reports. No other information was released.
A Van Sicklen road resident called police on July 15 to report that a bear was damaging his property. The homeowner showed police several bird feeders “which had been bent over and opened,” according to the report. Police advise residents to secure their trash containers and take in bird feeders at this time of year as there have been bear sightings in the area.
Possession with intent to distribute
Jordan N. Parent, 24, of Charlotte was cited on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute on July 17, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.
Ryan E. Boyea, 23, of Malone, N.Y., was arrested on an outstanding warrant on July 18, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility and subsequently released.
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. Multiple charges
By Dr. David Lipschitz
Much research has been done on the prevention of wrinkling. I am always impressed by my wife’s beautiful, wrinkle-free skin. She is compulsive about sunscreen, always wears a hat and has never smoked. I thought her skin was the most beautiful I had ever seen (I am biased) until I met a female dermatologist whose skin, even more perfect than my wife’s, is blemish- and wrinkle-free. I asked her how she does it and what advice she would give all those women and, these days, men who wish to have perfect skin. Her recommendations were:
Avoid the sun and do not smoke. Sun exposure leads to wrinkles, blemishes and a high risk of skin cancer. Of particular concern is the explosion in the incidence of melanoma, a skin cancer that can be fatal. Similarly, the more you smoke, the worse your skin becomes.
Every morning you should wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Dermatologists’ favorites include Neutrogena for oily skin or M.D. Forte cleansing lotion. For dry skin, Dove, Cetaphil, Oil of Olay or Neutrogena gentle cleanser is preferred.
Always apply a moisturizer containing a sunscreen. Avoid waterproof products, those with more than 10 ingredients or those that are out-of-date. Favorite moisturizers are Olay Complete, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion or Clinique Super City Block. Whatever you use should contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
Every evening, you should wash with a gentle cleanser and apply a skin rejuvenation product such as M.D. Forte with glycolic acid, Oil of Olay Total Effects 7x with VitaNiacin or Neutrogena Healthy Skin.
Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book “Breaking the Rules of Aging.”
By Jim Miller
Dear Savvy Senior,
What does Medicare cover when it comes to eye care? I currently have good vision insurance through my employer, but will lose it when I retire.
Many retirees are unclear what Medicare does and doesn’t cover when it comes to eye care. The good news is that Medicare covers most medical issues including cataract surgery, treatment of eye diseases and medical emergencies. But unfortunately, routine care like eye exams and eyeglasses are usually the beneficiary’s responsibility.
Here’s a breakdown of how original Medicare covers your eyes, along with some tips that can help you reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
Routine eye exams (sometimes called “eye refractions”) that test for eyeglasses or contact lenses are usually not covered under Medicare, but you are entitled to a yearly medical eye exam if you have diabetes or are at high risk for glaucoma. People at high risk include diabetics, those with a family history of glaucoma and older Hispanics and African-Americans.
Medicare will also pay for exams to test and treat medical eye diseases and other problems like macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, eye infections or if you get something in your eye.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses
Medicare does not pay for eyeglasses or contact lenses, with one exception: If you have had a conventional intraocular lens inserted during cataract surgery, Medicare will pay for eyeglasses or contact lenses following the operation. Otherwise, you are on your own.
To find affordable eye exams or eyeglasses, many retailers provide discounts—between 10 and 30 percent—if you belong to a membership group like AARP or AAA.
Also consider Costco Optical, which is considered by Consumer Reports as the best discount store for good eyewear and low prices—it requires a $55 membership fee. Walmart Vision Centers and For Eyes Optical offer low prices too, with no required membership.
You can also buy your glasses online. Some online stores like zennioptical.com, goggles4u.com and eyebuydirect.com sell prescription eyeglasses for as little as $7. To purchase glasses online, you’ll need your prescription and pupillary distance from an exam, and your frame size.
Medicare covers most eye surgeries, including cataract surgery to remove cataracts and insert standard intraocular lenses to replace your own. Medicare will not, however, pick up the extra cost if you choose a specialized lens that restores full range of vision, thereby reducing your need for glasses after cataract surgery. The extra cost for a specialized lens can run up to $2,500 per eye.
Eye surgeries that are not covered by Medicare include refractive surgery and cosmetic eye surgery (such as eyelid surgery) that are not considered medically necessary.
Keep in mind that of the medical eye care services that are covered by Medicare, you’re still responsible for 20 percent of the cost—Medicare pays the other 80 percent. To help with this out-of-pocket expense, you may want to consider getting a Medigap supplemental policy.
If you can’t afford Medigap insurance, check into EyeCare America at eyecareamerica.org. This is a national program that provides medical eye examinations to seniors, age 65 and older, and up to one year of treatment at no cost.
Another way you can get extra vision coverage when you join Medicare is to choose a Medicare Advantage plan instead of original Medicare. Many of these plans—which are sold through private insurance companies (see medicare.gov/find-a-plan)—cover routine eye care and eyeglasses along with dental, hearing and prescription drugs, in addition to all of your hospital and medical insurance.
Or, if you choose original Medicare, consider purchasing an individual vision insurance policy (see ehealthinsurance.com). These policies cover routine eye care and eyeglasses and typically run between $12 and $15 per month.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
By Mal Boright
While The Vermont Outlaws (under age 17) had a rare tough last seven days, coach Tim Albertson’s squad nevertheless snared top seed with its 6-3 league record in the season-closing tournament this weekend in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The Outlaws will open play Saturday morning against either the fourth-seeded Colchester Junior Cannons or fifth-seeded OEC (Orleans-Essex-Caledonia), who meet Friday in an opening round.
The Outlaws, coming off a 2-5 week, take a 17-19-1 season mark into the event which goes through Sunday.
Last Saturday and Sunday, the Outlaws were in a tournament in Ottawa, Ont. where they captured one victory in four contests, beating Central New York 18-8 Saturday afternoon.
By Mal Boright
Some thoughts managed to find their way through a thick Vermonter’s skull during last weekend’s trip to the Vermont-New Hampshire Twin-State basketball contests featuring graduated senior stars in Keene, N.H.
The unannounced gathering of 100 or so fans and general lack of significant interest by the news media in the two states leads one to wonder if these games would have more relevance if played in March after the state championships in Vermont and New Hampshire.
These games deserve better. They are still alive and hooping thanks to the work of Essex High’s Jeff Goodrich and other dedicated individuals who brought the contests back to life last year at Essex.
Coaches asked about the March idea seem supportive but with some reservations.
Some decades ago, the top division boys’ champions in the two states went on to the New England Interscholastic Tournament at Boston Garden each March. So, there is a precedent, even though it has some years on it.
One thing hasn’t changed. It can be quite wintry in March and in Vermont and New Hampshire that is basketball time.
In their 79-66 win, the Vermont girls were solid throughout the lineup with all players on the 12-person roster making contributions.
At one point in the second half, Vermont coach Ute Otley of Champlain Valley Union High put her CVU four of Amanda Beatty, Emily Kinneston, Kaelyn Kohlash and Amanda Lougee on the court along with guard Ashlie Fay of Mount Abraham Union.
In what would be their last hurrah as a unit, it was indeed a hurrah as they outscored New Hampshire 8-2 before making way for other teammates. The Vermont lead under their care went from 61-45 to 69-47.
CVU boys head coach Michael Osborne was as assistant with the Vermont team. Before the games, Osborne was talking about team members who had been impressive in practice and at the top of the list was Jason Manwaring of little Williamstown High.
Manwaring, playing inside against New Hampshire size, proved Osborne is a prophet as he canned 23 points in 28 minutes. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and came up with four steals to earn the team’s Most Valuable Player award.
Vermont, victimized by poor early shooting, bowed 91-75 to a big and quick New Hampshire outfit.
There was a passing thought to harp about the apparent fact that Granite State roads are in much better shape that those in Vermont. Yes, the ones this scribbler was on Saturday and Sunday were smooth and solid, even the two lane jobs.
However, there was road construction up and down Vermont’s Interstate highways, and since Route 2A here in Williston sits in all of its newly repaved glory, perhaps best not to rattle the road cage.
At least for now.
By Mal Boright
Matt Long was recently awarded a plaque as an inductee into the 2014 class of the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society.
The award requires outstanding skills on the gridiron but also brains in the classrooms. A recipient must have at least a 3.2 grade average for his entire college time.
Players at Division 2 and Division 3 schools are eligible for consideration.
Long’s football travels took him from an all-state end at Champlain Valley Union High to Wesleyan University. There, he became a key player for the Cardinals, who in his senior season last fall rolled up a 7-1 record and co-championship with Middlebury and Trinity of NESCAC. It was the team’s best season in 40 years.