March 31, 2015

POPCORN: “Cinderella” A Shoo-In

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“Cinderella” A Shoo-In

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By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

A recurring thought that comes to mind whilst viewing “Cinderella,” filmed under the auspices of Walt Disney Studios, is the caring conservancy with which the time-honored story is told. A testament to the folk tale’s enduring validity, its roots can be traced as far back as an Egyptian fable in the first century B.C. While director Kenneth Branagh doesn’t reach quite that deep, his joyously splendid retelling, based predominantly on French author Charles Perrault’s version and the 1950 Disney animation, exemplifies the art of breathing new life into a classic theme.

 

Both homage and amusement au courant, its timeless ethicalities carefully updated for contemporary palates and today’s unfortunate social realities, one hopes the evil stepmother thing is put to minimally identifying use. Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine is one heckuva wicked, well, you know what. If Cinderella, sweetly portrayed by Lily James, can prevail despite her, she’s a, uh, shoo-in to find true happiness.

 

O.K., so it’s a little sexist that Cinderella’s salvation ultimately depends on a handsome prince, confidently depicted here by Richard Madden. Parents and guardians in demographics where this convention isn’t yet anathema may opt to just roll with it for now. Whereas folks of my so-called sophistication might want to tutor little Taylor thusly: “The prince is just a metaphor for success. In other words, you can become a renowned physician at N.Y. Presbyterian Hospital despite any obstacles. There’ll be plenty of princes to choose from there.”

 

Of course Ella, not to be called Cinderella until her déclassé sisters dub her that, is her own woman, even if put upon twice and then thrice by fates wickeder than any stepmom. Dedicated to the fond memories of her happy and proper, enlightened upbringing, she is all stiff upper lip and turn the other cheek, a pulchritudinous and hip, fairy tale mixture of Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Gloria Steinem. She is goody two shoes with gumption, an icon for all that is civilized, and resistant to our barely stifled urgings that she give those nasty hyenas a good what for or two.

 

Director Branagh beautifully ensconces the fable in settings artistically analogous to the literary treasure’s interpretation. Colorfully tasteful, imaginative art direction blends seamlessly with f/x magic to make for a heady atmosphere where dreams and good thoughts can flourish. A fine cast of principals, dressed in costume designer Sandy Powell’s fantasy era creations, completes the winning scenario.

 

Lily James, winsome yet resilient in the title role, exudes, in addition to all aforementioned qualities, an estimable talent for diplomacy…just the sort of assets you’d want in a President. Remember, there’d be the bonus that comes with her prince, a popular, experienced head of state to offer his counsel, but only when asked, of course. This is especially important in a world where ambitious politicians as wicked as any stepmother strive to line their pockets while assuring your sorrow.

 

Miss Blanchett strikes just the right chord between laughable caricature and realistic monster; Ben Chaplin as Ella’s all-too-soon sainted dad affectionately sets the moral tone; Stellan Skarsgård is properly mistrustful as the Grand Duke, advisor to His Majesty; Derek Jacobi is sweet as the kind but pragmatic king who insists that his son marry for the storybook kingdom’s political advantage; and Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger as mean stepsisters Drisella and Anastasia, respectively, are comically ridiculous.

 

Expect no great surprises. While there are two or three traditionally accepted endings, Grandma will be happy to learn that the one chosen here doesn’t veer too appreciably from the one she knows.

 

The only real modernization is director Branagh’s judicious use of what technological advances are now available to the filmmaker. Virtually all art, save for cave drawings—and even then Alley may have “borrowed” from Oop—is a variation on a theme. Done well, the refurbish utilizes the new tools to better present the work, but without making them the focus. Now we have a more miraculous pumpkin-turned-carriage, replete with all the enchanted personifications and appurtenances, expertly employed not to change the author’s words, but bring them to life.

 

So the question now is not whether to take your own little princess to see “Cinderella,” but more aptly, who should take her? In this case you would be doing the grandparents a favor by letting them spoil the kid to a movie and some treats. But then you’d miss out on the nostalgic fun. Hence, I suggest a three-generation outing if possible. Insofar as whether or not the male heir to the throne will also enjoy the traipse through Fantasyland, note that this manly prince watched with breath as bated as anyone in the theater when the moment came to try on that glass slipper.

“Cinderella,” rated PG, is a Walt Disney Studios release directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Lily James, Richard Madden and Cate Blanchett. Running time: 105 minutes

 

 

 

 

PHOTOS: Wildlife encounters

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Jennifer Gibbs of Wildlife Encounters introduces attendees to a wallaby during a program at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library on Saturday. Among the animals were a small American alligator, snakes, a giant rabbit and a hedgehog. 

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Evan Daudelin of Williston holds a cockatoo during the program. 

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PHOTOS: Engineering challenge

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Observer photo by Stephanie Choate

 

All fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders at the Williston Central School competed in the challenge. Students worked in small groups to solve a variety of problems from the slowest parachute drop to picking up marshmallows with a mechanical arm, said teacher Tad Dippel. Volunteer engineers judged the events both days. ‘It proved to be an engaging and positive learning experience for the students,’ Dippel said.

 

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Jake Bowen prepares to release his team’s parachute during the Engineering Challenge held at Williston Central School earlier this month.

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Handy aids for achy hands

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Dear Savvy Senior,

What products can you recommend for seniors with hand arthritis? I really struggle with anything that requires gripping and turning, which makes most activities difficult. 

Gripless Joan

Dear Joan,

There are literally hundreds of different arthritis aids and other products on the market today that can help people with arthritic hands and carpal tunnel syndrome.

To find out which devices can best benefit you, start by asking your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist, who can test the strength and functionality of your hands and recommend appropriate aids. With that said, here’s a rundown of some helpful products for different needs.

Kitchen aids

Activities like gripping cooking utensils, cutting and chopping, opening jars and cans and moving around heavy pots and pans can make preparing a meal much more difficult when you have hand arthritis.

Oxo Good Grips makes dozens of soft, large-handle cooking, baking and cleaning utensils that are easier to grip. And for cutting and chopping the Dexter DuoGlide and Ergo Chef knives are excellent ergonomically designed options.

For opening jars, the wall-mounted or under-counter mounted Zim Jar Opener is a top manual opener. It has a V-shaped grip that holds the lid as you twist the jar with both hands. Some other good options are the Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener and a nifty tool called the JarPop that pops the seal on jars so lids can be removed easier.

For opening cans, an electric can opener is the best option. West Bend and Hamilton Beach make some of the best.

And if you’re interested in arthritis-friendly pots and pans, look for lightweight cookware that has two handles. These are much easier to lift and move around.

Household helpers

Turning doorknobs, key locks, twist-handles on kitchen or bathroom faucets and twist-on lamp switches can also be difficult. To help, there are doorknob lever adapters, key turners, lamp switch enlargers and lever handles for faucets that provide leverage for easier turning.

Personal care

Squeezing a shampoo bottle or a tube of toothpaste, or gripping a bar of soap, a toothbrush handle or even a piece of dental floss can make grooming a challenge. Solutions include a wall-mounted soap, shampoo and toothpaste dispenser, which provides easy access to suds. And for brushing and flossing, there are wide-handled, electric toothbrushes and flossers that vibrate or spin to do the cleaning for you.

Easier dressing

Fastening buttons, pulling zippers and tying shoelaces can also present problems. To help with these chores there are buttonhooks and zipper pulls and elastic shoelaces, which transform lace-ups into slip-ons.

Reading, writing and computing

Holding and turning the pages of a book, handwriting and using a computer mouse can also stress arthritic hands. For readers, an eReader like a Kindle or Nook is recommended because they’re lightweight and easier to hold than regular books.

For writing, there’s the soft rubber Pencil Grip that fits on pencils and pens and ergonomic-shaped pens like the Pen Again that reduce hand fatigue. And for easier computing, the 3M Ergonomic Mouse and Contour Roller Mouse can eliminate hand and wrist stress.

Hobby helpers

There are dozens of arthritis aids for hobbies, too. For example, there are automatic card shufflers and cardholders for card players. If you like to paint, knit or crochet, there are ergonomic paintbrushes and oversized knitting needles and crochet hooks that are easier to hold. And for sewing, quilting or crafting, there are tools like Fiskars self-opening Easy Action Scissors that spring open for easier cutting.

For a rundown of additional products and where you can purchase them, visit my online article at AchyHandAids.org.

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

Recipe Corner: Maple and more maple

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By Ginger Isham

Mother Nature has cooperated by giving us 10 gallons of light robust maple syrup this week. Will there be more? Maybe. Our first taste of maple was for breakfast with buttermilk pancakes, fresh sliced strawberries, an egg and a thin slice of ham. I hope the following recipes will be added to my readers’ maple file.

Creamy Maple Dessert Sauce

1 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix maple syrup and butter in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes and cool. Stir in evaporated milk and pecans. Serve over ice cream and/or cake or both.

Maple Shoo-Fly Pie

Filling:

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup dark robust maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dissolve baking soda in maple syrup and stir until mix is foamy. Add hot water, stir and pour into an 8-inch unbaked pie crust.

Crumb topping:

2 cups flour

pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple sugar

Blend all together and sprinkle thickly on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Maple Nut Spread

1 eight-ounce package cream cheese

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts ( toasted)

Beat all ingredients together except walnuts, stir in last. Chill. Spread on bagels, English muffins or toast of your choice.

Welcome new recipe columnist Ania Robertson! Your horseradish story reminded me of my husband’s mother who use to grind fresh horseradish and cry too.

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

Police Notes

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Driving under the influence

Thomas P. Angier, 52, of Williston was cited on a charge of driving under the influence-second offense on Feb. 23, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .263, the report notes. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. He was cited to appear in court.

Deborah J. Nevil, 52, of Cambridge was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on Feb. 28, according to police reports. Her blood alcohol concentration was .176, the report notes. She was cited to appear in court.

Theft

Kylie D. Billado, 24, of Richmond was cited on a charge of retail theft after allegedly stealing more than $328 worth of merchandise from Toys R Us on March 10, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Beth L. Johnson, 39, of Vergennes was cited on a charge of retail theft after allegedly stealing a television worth more than $372 from Walmart on Feb. 26, according to police reports. No other information was released.

Restraining order violation

Andrew Flock, 21, of Williston was cited for violating a final abuse protection order on March 2, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility, the report notes. No other information was received.

Trespassing

Kenneth R. Bowler, 50, of Winooski was cited on a charge of unlawful trespass at Walmart on March 15, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Negligent driving

Christopher A. Clair, 37, of Vergennes was cited on a charge of careless and negligent driving on March 17, according to police reports. No other information was released.

Driving with suspended license

Job Okello, 26, of Winooski was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 13, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on March 31.

Diane Babcock, 55, of Colchester was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 14, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Sean M. Sintz, 45, of Colchester was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Feb. 23, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Vicki-Lyn MacArthur, 52, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Feb. 24, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Eric W. Sweet, 34, of Alburg was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Feb. 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on March 26.

 Jason E. Sizen, 28, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on March 5, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Robert A. Wells, 70, of Montpelier was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 6, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Scott D. Allen, 40, of Essex Junction was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 7, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on March 31.

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.

JV hoop girls rolled to 13-6 record

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By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Coach Cathy Kohlasch’s Champlain Valley Union High girls’ basketball team overcame a series of injuries and wound up the recent season with a 13-6 mark.

“We started with two wins, then we lost our starting point guard (sophomore Jaime Vachon) for the season with a knee injury and our other guard (sophomore Naomi Burhans) was out for a few games with a finger injury.”

Kohlasch said it was back to the drawing board with some players working at, for them, new positions.

“We shuffled players around but they all were willing to do what was asked of them to help the team,” the coach said. “It was back to basics.”

In that early season challenge, there was a 35-point defeat at Rice Memorial, but following a few wins and losses, there was a seven-game winning steak and a 6-point home victory over the same Rice squad that blew out the Hawks earlier.

Top scorer for the Little Redhawks was freshman Shannon Loiseau with 197 tallies, an average of 10.4 per outing. Sophomore Katie Usher followed with 115 points while sophomore Taya LePrevost and freshman Lindsey Albertelli dropped in 75 points each.

The heavy duty work on the boards was led by Loiseau, Usher and two freshmen, Julia Bryant and Bella Rieley.

Assist leaders were Burhans and Albertelli, while the defense was well fortified by the likes of Burhans, freshman Hayley Clos, sophomore Gabby Booth and freshman Julia Neeld.

Freshman Cortney Roy was credited with a versatile and steady performance while playing out of position.

Katie Kuntz assisted Kohlasch with the mentoring duties since there was no freshman or Junior Varsity B team this season. Kohlasch expects the B team to return next November.

Former CVU ice star shines at Castleton

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Just a few seasons ago, Molly Howard was a slap shot-sniping, high-scoring forward for the Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey team.

Now she is popping points for Castleton State.

Howard was recently named to the ECAC East All-Tournament team after scoring two goals in the Spartans’ 3-2 semifinal victory over Salve Regina. The triumph got Castleton into the championship contest for the second straight year.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

CVU players in All-Star hockey action

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Five guys and one girl from Champlain Valley Union High’s hockey players were in the 31st Annual Essex Rotary Key Bank All-Star Hockey Classic Saturday at the Essex Skating Facility.

Playing for the winning boys’ Austin team, CVU’s Oscar Kelly scored a goal while Greg Talbert made four saves as one of his team’s three netminders.

Also on the team were Cam Rivard, Kaleb Godbout and Elliott Mitchell.

CVU’s Rachel Pitcher, who played at South Burlington High this past season, scored for the girls’ Austin team, which bowed to the Harris squad, 6-3.

—Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent

Easter Week Services

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Ascension Lutheran Church

95 Allen Road, South Burlington
862-8866

Thursday, April 2: 6:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 3: 7 p.m. Good Friday Tenebrae service

Sunday, April 5: 7:30 – 9 a.m. Pancake breakfast; 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Easter services

Christ Memorial Church

999 Essex Road, Williston
878 7107

Friday, April 3: 7 p.m. Good Friday

Sunday, April 5: 9:30 a.m. Easter services

Community Alliance Church 

190 Pond Road, Hinesburg
482-2132

Friday, April 3: 6 p.m. Good Friday

Sunday, April 5: 9:30 a.m. Easter services

Community Lutheran Church

1560 Williston Road, South Burlington
864-5537

Thursday, April 2: 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday service with Communion

Friday, April 19: 7 p.m. Good Friday

Sunday, April 20: 7 a.m. Sunrise service; 9:15 and 11 a.m. Easter services; 7:30 – 9 a.m. Easter breakfast

Essex Alliance Church

37 Old Stage Road,
Essex Junction
878-8213

Sunday, April 5: Easter services at University of Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Faith United Methodist Church

899 Dorset St., South Burlington
863-6764

Thursday, April 2: 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 3: noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Good Friday meditations

Sunday, April 5: 6:15 a.m. Sunrise service at Wheeler Homestead, 1100 Dorset St.; 9:30 a.m. Easter service

First Baptist Church

81 St. Paul St., Burlington
864-6515

Sunday, March 29: 9:45 a.m. Palm Sunday

Thursday, April 2: 6 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 3: noon. Good Friday prayer and reflection

Sunday, April 5: Sunrise Service at the Peterson Farm in Williston at 6:30 a.m. Easter Worship service at 9:45 a.m.

Good Shepard Lutheran Church

273 Route 15, Jericho
899-3932

Thursday, April 2: 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 3: noon – 3 p.m. Ecumenical Good Friday walk;
7 p.m. Good Friday Tenebrae

Sunday, April 5: 9 a.m. Easter Sunday worship with brunch

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic church

7415 Williston Road, Williston
878-4513

Thursday, April 2: 7 p.m. Holy Thursday

Friday, April 3: 3 p.m. Good Friday at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Richmond

Saturday, April 4: 8 p.m. Easter vigil at Immaculate Heart of Mary

Sunday, April 5: 10:30 a.m. Easter at Immaculate Heart of Mary

Jericho Congregational Church

3 Jericho Center, Jericho
899-4911

Thursday, April 2: 7:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Sunday, April 5: 8 and 11 a.m. Easter services

Living Hope Christian Church

1037 South Brownell Road, Williston
862-2108

Friday, April 3: 6 p.m. Passover Seder meal

Sunday, April 5, 10 a.m. Easter service, children’s program and Easter egg hunt

Richmond Congregational Church

20 Church St., Richmond
434-2053

Thursday, April 2: 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday

Friday, April 3: 5 p.m. Friday food; 7 p.m. Good Friday Ecumenical service

Sunday, April 5: 7 a.m. Sunrise Service at Volunteer’s Green; 10 a.m. Easter

Trinity Baptist Church

300 Trinity Drive, Williston
878-8118

Sunday, April 20: 10 a.m. Easter service

Trinity Episcopal Church

5171 Shelburne Road, Shelburne
985-2269

Thursday, April 2: 6 p.m. soup supper and Eucharist; 7 p.m. stripping of the altar

Friday, April 3: 11:30 a.m. Stations of the Cross; noon and 7 p.m. Good Friday Liturgy

Saturday, April 4: Great Vigil of Easter at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington.

Sunday, April 5: 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist

Williston Church of the Nazarene

30 Morgan Parkway., Williston
878-8591

Sunday, April 5: 10:45 a.m. Easter

Williston Federated Church

44 North Williston Road, Williston
878-5792 

Sunday, April 5, 6:30 a.m. Sonrise Service at home of Tony and Susan Lamb, 24 Beebe Lane; 9:30 a.m. Easter service