September 5, 2015

The End of the Tour

“The End of the Tour”

Comes to Some Thoughtful Conclusions

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

Director James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour,” dramatizing the real-life interview between “Rolling Stone” reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed author David Foster Wallace, affirmed for me why I don’t have any writer friends. To use an apt phrase from the 1960s, it’d be a bit too heavy… the constant thrust and parry of egos dominating whatever relationship there existed. Spare me the scrutinization of my participles, the possible overuse of commas and a penchant for flowery sarcasm. Nope. Give me teachers, explorers and entrepreneurs for pals. I’ll be the writer.

 

Still, sitting in the safety of my own unquestioned conceit, I thoroughly enjoyed looking in on the joys, foibles, arrogance and whatever else makes the sparks fly when birds of a feather ruffle each other’s sense of self. Starring Jason Segel as Wallace, the recently stamped super-scribe, and Jesse Eisenberg as the journalist hoping to find the human behind the genius, the repartee is witty, intelligent, frightfully candid and instructively unnerving. And while, alas, we don’t learn the secret of life, there are times during the ongoing dialogue when it seems we just might.

 

The discourse, set in semi-rural Illinois, where Wallace taught at a university, and in Minneapolis where the book tour alluded to in the title brings them, takes place in rarefied air, the woes, wiles and ebulliences of literature forming the glue of the ensuing affiliation.

One can only hope that Mr. Lipsky’s report, adapted from his book, “Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself,” strikes as accurate a note as is reasonable. After all, there are those aforementioned, inherent constraints. Eisenberg’s acknowledged underling makes no bones about his respectful jealousy, while Mr. Segel’s superbly etched wunderkind is conflicted: He’d like to be the great new breakthrough writer who just so happens to be a regular guy.

 

Naturally, Lipsky gnaws at this romantic ideal, exclaiming the contradiction in terms. They go at it hook, line and sinker, the battle of the brains, deconstructing every theory about their mutual passion, Wallace congenially but half-heartedly trying to downplay his laurels. In one breath, he’s afraid of how this Boswell might portray him; in the next, he couldn’t care less. Shades of “My Dinner with Andre” (1981), but with a semi-road movie lilt, the two philosophize their way through book signings, radio interviews and a get together with some old gal pals in Minnesota.

 

But it’s thanks to both principals’ thespic talent and director Ponsoldt’s savvy camera that the talkfest manages an engaging fluidity without even one chase scene, let alone a screen-filling vision of alien invasion. Rather, the devastation is of the psychological variety as the Davids take turns unearthing character nuances and flaws about each other. This inevitably results in a mutual admiration/enmity, each co-protagonist rather happy that they’ve met a worthy adversary who, it’s possible, could become a friend.

 

Along the way, culled from the conversations Lipsky recorded for his article, the litterateurs ostensibly conduct a movable seminar on the art of writing, tempering here their natural competitiveness in service of the muse that shaped their raison d’être. It’s heady stuff, the kind of thing you heard the smart kids in high school discussing, even though it was lunch break. Wallace and Lipsky mull the whys and wherefores of their chosen profession, questioning the motivation, purpose, method and reward, tacitly seeking justification, approbation and respect.

Playing the so-called normal folk who supply defining contrast to the dueling wordsmiths, Joan Cusack is funny as the Minneapolis promo wonk who makes sure the guys see the statue of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) joyously tossing up her hat; while Mamie Gummer and Ann Chlumsky play the lady friends who bring out a betraying machismo in our highbrows.

Contributing an ensemble performance that would doubtlessly please the most hifalutin of drama coaches, Messrs. Segel and Eisenberg manage to make invigorating what could have easily become a borefest in lesser hands, with the former unfolding a new actorial leaf. Segel’s nomination-worthy portrayal suggests that there lies ahead a plethora of serious roles…opportunities that hopefully won’t keep him from revisiting the humanistic comedy (i.e. – “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”-2008; “I Love You, Man”-2009) that brought him to prominence.

This fine little preview of those possibilities offers a nice hiatus to the mainstream viewer in need of a palate cleanser, while also providing the film’s built-in art house audience with the sort of meditative cinema they like to cozy up to, sans the nuisance and affectation of subtitles. And, while by no means the be-all and end-all of its niche genre, “The End of the Tour” just may prove a therapeutic beginning for those filmgoers looking to swear off the hollow blockbuster.

“The End of the Tour,” rated R, is an A24 release directed by James Ponsoldt and stars Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg and Joan Cusack. Running time: 106 minutes

 

CVU Cross Country relays

Observer Photo by Al Frey The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the opening relays at CVU last weekend. The girls and boys junior varsity teams were the top performers as was the girls junior varsity.  The boys JV team came in third.

Observer Photo by Al Frey
The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the opening relays at CVU last weekend. The girls and boys junior varsity teams were the top performers as was the girls junior varsity. The boys JV team came in third.

CVU X-C Relays_170 29Aug15_boy

The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the season-opening relays at CVU last weekend.  The girls and boys varsity teams were the top performers, as was the girls junior varsity.  The boys JV teams came in third.

The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the season-opening relays at CVU last weekend. The girls and boys varsity teams were the top performers, as was the girls junior varsity. The boys JV teams came in third.

Fit for Duty 5K

Fit for Duty 5K_348 28Aug15_Signin Fit for Duty 5K_369 28Aug15_cops Fit for Duty 5K_440 28Aug15_start

UVM Medical Center announces fall lectures

The University of Vermont Medical Center is offering a fall program called Community Medical School, a series of evening lectures in which attendees can learn from faculty experts.

Each presentation reviews a current medical science topic in an easy-to-understand format.Lectures are free and open to the public and are held the first Tuesday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m. at The UVM Given Medical Building’s Carpenter Auditorium. For more information, call 847-2886.

Fall offerings include:

Oct. 6: Laboratory Medicine: How Blood and Tissue Biopsies Aid in Diagnosis and Treatment Decisions

Learn how body fluids and tissue samples are processed by laboratory medical professionals and how pathologists make a diagnosis from these patient samples.

Nov. 3: Cerebral Consequences: The Impact of Concussions in Youth Athletes

Concussions and related problems are a major concern in professional sports like football and hockey, with little concrete evidence of the long-term consequences. In younger athletes, even less is known, but research using neuroimaging is shedding new light on the impact of sports-related sub-concussive and concussive events on young hockey players’ brain structure and function and behavior. Learn about normal childhood brain development and discuss how concussion affects youth and may impact athletes later in life.

Dec. 1: LGBTQ+ Health: Ensuring Awareness & Understanding in Education and Practice

Considering the perspectives and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) members of the community in medical education, public health and care initiatives is critical to ensuring improved health and eliminating health disparities.

Savvy Senior

By Jim Miller

How seniors can stop robocalls

Dear Savvy Senior,

What can I do to stop the perpetual prerecorded robocalls I keep getting? I’m signed up with the National Do Not Call Registry, but it seems like I still get three or four robo telemarketing calls a day offering lower credit card interest rates, medical alert devices and more.

Fed Up Senior

Dear Fed Up,

Millions of Americans on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov) complain they still receive unwanted calls from robocallers. Why? Because most robocalls are scams run by con artists who are only trying to trick you out of your money, and they simply ignore the law.

But there’s good news on the horizon. A few months ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a rule giving telecommunication companies more leeway to block robocalls. Before this ruling, the FCC has always required phone companies to complete all calls, much in the same way the postal service is required to deliver all your mail, even the junk. So, look for your phone service provider to start offering call-blocking tools in the future. But in the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce those unwanted calls.

Set up “anonymous call rejection” option: This is a free landline-calling feature available from most telephone companies. It lets you screen out calls from callers who have blocked their caller ID information—a favorite tactic of telemarketers. To set it up, you usually have to dial *77 from your landline, though different phone services may have different procedures to set it up. Call your telephone service provider to find out if they offer this feature, and if so, what you need to do to enable it.

Sign up for Nomorobo: This is a free service and works only if you have an Internet-based VoIP phone service. It does not work on traditional analog landlines or wireless phones. Nomorobo uses a “simultaneous ring” service that detects and blocks robocalls on a black list of known offender numbers. It isn’t 100 percent foolproof, but it is an extra layer of protection. To sign up, or see if Nomorobo works with your phone service provider, visit Nomorobo.com.

Buy a robocall-blocking device: If you don’t mind spending a little money, purchase a call-blocking device like the Sentry 2 ($59) or Digitone Call Blocker Plus ($100), sold at Amazon.com. These small devices, which plug into your phone line, allow you to blacklist numbers you no longer wish to receive, and set up a whitelist, or manually program the phone to recognize and accept a certain number of safe numbers. Both devices are very effective.

Don’t pick up: If you have a caller ID, another tip is to simply not answer the phone unless you recognize the number. But if you do answer and it’s a robocall, you should just hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to complain about the call or get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, you’re signaling that the autodialer has reached a live number and will probably lead to more robocalls.

Get a cellphone app: To help with robo telemarketing calls and robo spam texts to your cellphone, get a call-screening app like Truecaller (truecaller.com) or PrivacyStar (privacystar.com) that screens and blocks them.

It’s also important that you report illegal robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 888-225-5322, and sign the Consumer Union petition at EndRobocalls.org to pressure phone companies to start offering free call-blocking technology.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Healthy Food for Two

By Ania Robertson

Delicious side dish

Sautéed asparagus is my favorite, quick side dish that can finish off almost any menu. It is especially handy when you are making a complex main dish that is time-consuming and you need an easy recipe to complete the meal. Also, asparagus complements many legumes, vegetable entrées and salads.

I like to sauté asparagus with cumin and coriander, a classic Ayurvedic pairing that balances the digestive fire called agni. This cumin-coriander Ayurvedic combo can turn any vegetable from bland to intriguing. The duo can simply enhance more of the American-style herbs such as fresh basil or rosemary.

This quick-cooking, waterless method will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus. Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, which enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. It is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.

Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus

1 Tablespoon sunflower oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 pinch cayenne pepper, powder

1 pinch salt

Wash asparagus, and cut off the woody ends.

Heat the oil in a pan, over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, but not smoking, sprinkle the pan with cumin, coriander and cayenne. Add asparagus and salt. Sauté for 1 minute.

Turn the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook till tender, about 10 minutes (thicker asparagus requires longer cooking, just check with a fork).

Stir occasionally.

Remove from the pan when asparagus is still tender, do not overcook!

Ania Robertson is a certified life coach with additional certification in Ayurveda and Feng Shui.

A look at CVU’s fall sports teams

Champlain Valley Union High coaches share the season’s outlook for their teams

Girls cross country

Coach: Scott Bliss

Key returning veterans: Sophia Gorman; Meara Heininger; Jennifer Ireland; Maeve Higgins; Haley Harder

Leading newcomers: Morgan Schnell; Ella Whitman; Rosalie Lacroix; Harper Mead

Season prospects: We will be looking to incorporate some inexperienced varsity runners into our top seven and hope to compete for a state championship. We return a nice core in our top spots, but our success will be determined by how we develop our newer runners.

Boys cross country

Coach: Scott Bliss

Key returning veterans:Tyler Marshall; Calvin McClellan; Harken Spillane; Elliot Eastman; Baxter Bishop; Tyler Wong

Leading newcomers: Jared Leonard; Patrick Gooley; Dylan Gooley

Season prospects: We will be hoping to build on last year’s success at the state meet after losing to South Burlington by 3 points. We will hopefully be able to compete for a state championship again this year. Tyler Marshall will lead us in what should be a pretty deep and close group.

Field hockey

Coach: Kate McDonald

Key returning veterans:Tashia Pashby-Rockwood (goalie), Kate Machavern (forward), Emily Ray (midfield), Lydia Maitland (forward)

Leading newcomers: Kelsie Saia (forward)

Season prospects: Rebuilding after graduating nine seniors, hope to compete for the championship again this year.

Football

Coach: Mike Williams

Key returning veterans:Andrew Bortnick (QB/DB); Jack Dugan, (SE/DB); Brandon Young (HB/DB); Jacob Griggs (FB/LB); Jeremy Fuller (HB/DB); Richard Lowrey (HB/DB); Kienan Kittredge (OL/DL); Sam Mikell (SE/LB); Sam Belisle (OL/LB); Trevor Kingston (SE/LB)

Leading newcomers: Braven Bose (HB/DB); Kyle Hinsdale (HB/DB); Josh Bowen (OL/DL); Roarke Flad (OL/DL); Nick Kinneston (FB/LB); Nate Shanks (SE/DB); Tristan Nagiba (FB/LB)

Season prospects: We have been working very hard, 6 a.m. conditioning workouts for the first two weeks will put us in a position to not be out-conditioned this year. The Xs and Os part is coming along and we are getting better and better each day. Very grateful for the hard work being put in by the players and coaches…. Very exciting times for CVU football.

Boys Soccer

Coach: Katie Mack

Key returning veterans: Cooper O’Connell; Trey Tomasi; Brock Werner

Leading newcomers: Todd Boisjoli; Aidan Johnson

Season prospects: Despite having lost 11 seniors, the Redhawks return a strong junior and senior class with several underclassmen contributors. CVU looks forward to another strong season and contending in the playoffs come October.

Girls soccer

Coach: Stan Williams

Key returning veterans:Megan Gannon; Catherine Cazayoux; VIna Nguyen, Michaela Flore; Sierra Morton; Malina Carroll; Annie Keen; Abba Weimer; Lia Gagliuso

Leading newcomers: A fantastic new group of newcomers.

Season prospects: Looking to have an extremely competitive group. We have a strong returning nucleus and a fantastic set of newcomers. We hope to combine our speed and technical ability to play an exciting brand of soccer.

Boys volleyball

Coach: Jeff Boliba

Key returning veterans:Kevin Devine; Henry Mohn; Jeffrey Boliba; Peter Hibbeler; Spencer Snipes; Kyle Gorman; Elias Sturim

Leading newcomers: Eli Dunphy; Matt Murakami; Raz Hansen; Zach Schaw

Season prospects: With a solid group of returning veterans coming back for 2015, this season is looking promising for the boys. Entering into their third season at CVU, the boys are looking to continue their successful ways and catapult off of last year’s finish as runner up state champions. We encourage you to come cheer us on at our matches. To find our schedule and for more information you can go to the CVU Boys Volleyball website at cvuboysvolleyball.shutterfly.com

Girls volleyball

Coach: Gino Johnson

Key returning veterans:Aliza Anderson; Alexis Meyer; Jessie Johnson; Anna Johnson; Shannon Loiseau; Brigitte Durieux and Lauren Johnson

Leading newcomers: Paige Thibault

Season prospects: The CVU Girls Volleyball program expanded this year to include a JV team coached by Mike Detch. Our varsity team is returning a solid core group of players that will be looking to defend its 2014 state championship.

CVU cross country runners excel in relays

Observer Photo by Al Frey The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the opening relays at CVU last weekend. The girls and boys junior varsity teams were the top performers as was the girls junior varsity.  The boys JV team came in third.

Observer Photo by Al Frey
The Champlain Valley Union cross country teams put in solid performances at the opening relays at CVU last weekend. The girls and boys junior varsity teams were the top performers as was the girls junior varsity. The boys JV team came in third.

CVU X-C Relays_170 29Aug15_boy

Redhawk cross country teams were at the top of their games Saturday as 400 runners from nine schools invaded Champlain Valley Union High Saturday for the season-opening relays.

CVU’s girls and boys varsity teams were winners, as was the girls junior varsity squad. The boys jayvee group came in third.

“It was a great day,” said coach Scott Bliss, “and a good way to kick off the season.”

The annual Essex Invitational at the Catamount Family Center in Williston awaits the CVU cross country athletes Saturday morning.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

CVU’s second gridiron test Friday at South Burlington

Observer file photo Quarterback Andrew Bortnick had 64 yards in last Friday’s game against Rutland, which CVU lost.

Observer file photo
Quarterback Andrew Bortnick had 64 yards in last Friday’s game against Rutland, which CVU lost.

Champlain Valley Union High’s football road map has the two-game season-opening bus rides heading to South Burlington High Friday night (7 p.m.) where the Redhawks hope to even their record following last Friday’s 20-7 defeat at Rutland High.

The Rebels are also 0-1, losing Saturday afternoon to 2014 Division 1 runner-up St. Johnsbury Academy 28-6 in the Northeast Kingdom.

“They (South Burlington) are big up front,” said CVU coach Mike Williams Sunday. “They have some skilled players.”

For the Rebels, who trailed the Hilltoppers 20-0 at halftime, quarterback Thomas DeMag had a solid game with 11 pass completions in 21 tries for 116 yards plus 87 more yards on the ground.

Williams had some positive take-aways from the Redhawks’ defeat, noting, “We played one of the top teams in the division.”

CVU trailed by only 14-7 into the fourth quarter when the Raiders’ quarterback Andy Kenosh delivered a 36-yard scoring pass to give Rutland breathing room.

Williams said CVU outgained the victors in total yards, 291 to 272. The offense rumbled for 250 yards on the ground led by quarterback Andrew Bortnick with 64 yards and Rich Lowrey with 60. Jason Griggs scored the CVU touchdown on a one-yard smash in the third quarter to slice into Rutland’s 14-0 lead.

“We made way too many mistakes,” Williams said of penalties, dropped passes and other missed opportunities. “But all of that is fixable.”

Running back Brandon Young, receiver Trevor Kingston and Bortnick were among those drawing praise from Williams. He said Bortnick, who had four pass completions, might have had as many as 10 given the number of drops.

—Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent

Volleyball growing in popularity at CVU

Observer courtesy photo Volleyball is growing in popularity as a sport at CVU. The girls team has 40 players and there are 16 players on the boys team.

Observer courtesy photo

The CVU girls volleyball team won the state championship last year after an undefeated season.

Observer courtesy photo Volleyball is growing in popularity as a sport at CVU. The girls team has 40 players and there are 16 players on the boys team.

Observer courtesy photo
Volleyball is growing in popularity as a sport at CVU. The girls team has 40 players and there are 16 players on the boys team.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

As Champlain Valley Union High athletes take to the fields this fall, players are flocking to the school’s newest sport.

Volleyball, though not yet a varsity sport under the Vermont Principals Association, is surging in popularity.

“We’ve almost doubled every year for the last three years,” said girls coach Gino Johnson.

This year, there are 40 girls playing on two teams, as well as 16 boys.

“I think it’s creating some new opportunities at the school for athletics for some of the kids,” boys coach Jeff Boliba said. “We started small and are working our way up, but it’s pretty awesome to see where we’re at now. Every year we’re making progress.”

Last year, the girls team had an undefeated season, finishing the year with a 13-0 record and crowning it with a state championship. The team is 25-1 in the past two seasons as a club sport.

The boys finished last year with a semifinal win over Enosburg High before bowing to Essex High in the state championship.

Johnson said participating in sports provides an invaluable experience for high school students, and adding a sport widens the opportunities for students to join.

“Volleyball is another tremendous opportunity for girls that maybe don’t play soccer and maybe don’t play field hockey to build some new relationships and build some new experiences and have a blast with a new sport after school,” Johnson said.

Senior Brigitte Durieux—a captain who Johnson said was a key part of the 2014 championship team—said since the sport is relatively new to CVU, players don’t have to have a lifetime of experience to succeed.

“You can start in high school and end up improving a lot,” she said.

Durieux started playing a couple years ago when she noticed summer pickup sessions at the sand courts in Williston, then joined CVU’s team last year.

“Once you get into it, it’s very hard to not be into it anymore,” she said. “It’s a lot more of a connected team than anything I’ve been on. I’d say it’s a lot like a family.”

She added that the sport is competitive without being stressful, and she plans to keep playing after high school.

Boliba said that’s a major asset of volleyball—students can continue playing after high school, whether competitively or recreationally.

“Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world,” he said. “It’s a really fun sport that you can play long into your life.”

MOVING FORWARD

While the sport has not yet been sanctioned as a varsity sport by the Vermont Principals Association, both coaches said CVU has been supportive.

“CVU has been tremendous in its support,” Johnson said, adding that the school has been treating volleyball as a varsity sport, including it in sport information nights and events.

Boliba echoed Johnson.

“CVU has been awesome,” Boliba said. “It’s great they’re supporting a sport like this and giving us the tools we need to succeed.”

The Vermont Principals Association opted in the spring to keep volleyball as an exhibition sport for another year. Boliba and Johnson said the decision was made to give the sport enough time to grow.

“The hangup was the moment you go varsity as a high school, you are not allowed to play other schools that are still building programs,” Boliba said. “It would have crippled the growth of volleyball.”

Johnson said he expects this will be girls volleyball’s last year as a club sport. Eleven area high schools now have girls volleyball teams.

“I expect the VPA committee…will support moving forward with varsity status next spring when we meet,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to make sure we had one more year of proving numbers are there.”

Boliba said the boys may need more time before making the move to varsity level. Currently, six schools are fielding boys teams—some of them two teams.

In the meantime, coaches will continue to work toward growing the sport.

“My goal is really to continue to support the level of interest here in the CVU community and be an advocate for volleyball in the stat of Vermont,” Johnson said.

Both coaches encouraged residents to come check out the games.

“It’s a great spectator sport,” Johnson said.