August 30, 2015

POPCORN: “Ricki and the Flash” No Flash in the Pan


3 popcorns

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Seeing Meryl Streep dissolve into rock musician Ricki Rendazzo in Jonathan Demme’s “Ricki and the Flash,” it occurred to me how lucky I am. The simple facts of chronology precluded me from seeing baseball players like Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb ply their craft. But in that fickle, sometimes great equalizer of fate, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the Great Streep’s career, right from the beginning. A few films in, I actually disliked her in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) because she gave my man Dustin the gate. I have since forgiven her.


Fast forward a few decades and you can’t help taking her for granted. She’s always going to be good. More likely the question is, will she score yet another best actress nomination? She already has 19. That’s seven more than Katharine Hepburn (who has one more win—4) and nine more than Bette Davis, esteemed colleagues in that pantheon of which she’s now a full-fledged member.


Such accomplishment comes with a challenge. Each succeeding performance is an in event unto itself, which can easily upstage the drama encompassing it. But the greats have a way of ameliorating that, employing some sort of secret thespic supercharger to direct our focus. Therefore yes, we know that’s Ms. Streep up there on the silver screen, larger than life. Still, as the reels roll, we’re certain that she’s also Ricki, the struggling singer who gave it all up for her music.


So of course, as the captivating lead singer of the title rock group that is a regular attraction at the Salt Well, a San Fernando Valley saloon, the actress also convincingly plays rhythm guitar. The train of big money stardom pulled out of the station some years ago. But having never given up their allegiance to the god of Rock ‘n’ Roll, like countless other, ‘should-a-been-famous’ bar bands around the globe, these grass roots altruists play the oldies and throw in a couple new ones, just to prove they can. They have a small but devoted following.


Exploring this oft-overlooked bit of sociology, director Demme, working from a script by Diablo Cody, attaches a rather traditional tale about the family Ricki Rendazzo, a.k.a. Linda Brummel, forsook in service of her muse. Expect the usual fallout, recriminations, awkward moments and tender epiphanies when, informed that her recently betrayed daughter has gone off the deep end, Ricki flies back to her prior world to stop the bleeding and mend fences.


There, literally back home in Indiana, she is greeted by her former hubby, Pete, who sent out the S.O.S. A nice guy played by Kevin Kline, his workaholic ways have bought him a McMansion in a gated community. Although remarried, his wife (Audra McDonald) is off visiting her sick dad in another state. Hmm? Oh, it’s OK. It’s even OK, in a soap opera sort of way, that Ricki, a supermarket cashier when she’s not rocking and rolling, has no money to stay in a hotel. Hmm?


Before long, we meet the immediate victims of Ricki’s mortal sin, gathered to vociferously impress that there is no statute of limitations for deserting one’s family, with the two-timed daughter, Julie, played by Streep’s real-life offspring, Mamie Gummer, leading the tirade. While it’s too early to say whether or not Miss Gummer is a chip off the old icon, her frighteningly unkempt martyr assures us that Hell still hath no fury like a woman scorned. Adding their own vitriol to the fire are twin brothers Josh (Sebastian Stan) and Adam (Nick Westrate).


The subsequent train wreck and rather predictable upshot veers to the clichéd side of things. But again, at the risk of seeming très ad nauseam, and using an adverb as an adjective, it requires noting that Miss Streep utilizes the dysfunctional typicalness as a telling contrast to how far from the fold the housewife turned rocker has drifted. In a poignant monologue from the stage, a bit in her cups, Ricki notes how it’s funny that Mick (Jagger), who has seven children by four women, is “still the man.” Yet she, who gave up hearth and home for her passion, is deemed a monster.


Playing kindred spirit to her diva, real rocker Rick Springfield is decent as Greg, who’d like to be more than just Ricki’s lead guitarist. And Flash members Rick Rosas, Joe Vitale and Bernie Worrell, accomplished musicians all, create an authentic milieu as our gal’s loyal band of cohorts. But like the patrons of the story’s Salt Well, we’ve come to see Ricki, to once again be amazed, and left to wonder not what “Ricki and the Flash’s” blazing star can do, but rather, if there’s anything she can’t do?

“Ricki and the Flash,” rated PG-13, is a Sony Pictures release directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield and Mamie Gummer. Running time: 101 minutes







PHOTOS: Second-Line Procession

Observer courtesy photos by Tia Rooney

Despite some rain on Saturday, Susie and Paul Dickins held a Second Line procession—a tradition in Susie Dickins’ hometown of New Orleans—along Williston Road from the Old Brick Church, where the ceremony was held, to the intersection with North Williston Road, where the couple live.


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PHOTOS: CVU softball camp

Observer photos by Al Frey

Organizer Hattie Roberts of Williston held a softball clinic last week, teaching skills to eight local girls, with help from 15 Champlain Valley Union High players and local parents.

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PHOTOS: Wyman Bat Girls

Observer courtesy photos

The pair was chosen to be Honorary Bat Girls during Vermont Day, held Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston. They sat in the dugout after putting helmets out for the team, met official bat girl Lynn Herman and members of the team.



Williston twins, Kate and Kenzie Wyman, 8, pose with Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. on Sunday.



Vermont Historical Society director resigns

National search is launched for replacement

Vermont Historical Society President Laura Warren has announced that Mark Hudson, who has been the Vermont Historical Society’s executive director for six years, has resigned to take a position as the executive director of the Tudor Place Historic House & Garden in Washington, D.C. Warren also announced that the organization has launched a national search for his successor.

Under Hudson’s leadership, the Vermont Historical Society conducted several fundraising campaigns which created three rotating exhibit galleries at the Vermont History Center in Barre and which supported restoration projects of the Center’s historic building. The organization also received two awards from the American Association for State and Local History — one for its Vermont History Explorer website for children and teachers and another for publication of A Very Fine Appearance: the Vermont Photographs of George Houghton.

“Mark has helped to transform the Vermont Historical Society during his tenure,” Warren said, “and with a national search, we plan to find an equally qualified leader for the organization.”

The Vermont Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, the Leahy Library and new Vermont Heritage Galleries in Barre, and programming throughout the state. Established in 1838, its purpose is to reach a broad audience through outstanding collections and statewide outreach.

More information about the executive director position can be found at

How to reduce your medication costs

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you recommend any tips to help me save on my medication costs? I currently take five different prescription medications that are very expensive even with insurance. 

Searching Susan

Dear Susan,

There are actually a variety ways you can reduce your out-of-pocket medication expenses without sacrificing quality. Here are a few strategies that can help, whether you are covered by employer-based health insurance, a health plan on the individual marketplace, or a private Medicare Part D drug policy.

Know your insurance formulary rules

Most drug plans today have formularies (a list of medications they cover) that place drugs into different “tiers.” Drugs in each tier have a different cost. A drug in a lower tier will generally cost you less than a drug in a higher tier, and higher tier drugs may require you to get permission or try another medication first before you can use it.

To get a copy of your plan’s formulary, visit your drug plan’s website or call the 800 number on the back of your insurance card. Once you have this information, share it with your doctor so, if possible, he or she can prescribe you medications in the lower-cost tiers. Or, they can help you get coverage approval from your insurer if you need a more expensive drug.

You also need to find out if your drug plan offers preferred pharmacies or offers a mail-order service. Buying your meds from these sources can save you some money too.

Switch to generics

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medications you’re taking are available in a generic form or a less expensive brand-name drug. About 75 percent of all premium drugs on the market today have a lower-cost alternative. Switching could save you between 20 and 90 percent.

Pay for generics yourself

Most generic medications cost less if you don’t use your insurance. For example, chains like Target and Walmart offer discount-drug programs (these programs will not work in conjunction with your insurance) that sell generics for as little as $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply, while some insurance companies charge a $10 copayment for a 30-day supply.

Ask your pharmacy if they offer a discount-drug program and compare costs with your insurance plan. You can also find free drug discount cards online at sites like, which can be used at most U.S. pharmacies.

Split your pills

Ask your doctor if the pills you’re taking can be cut in half. Pill splitting allows you to get two months worth of medicine for the price of one. If you do this, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor for twice the dosage you need.

Try over-the-counter drugs

Ask your doctor if a nonprescription medication could work as effectively as a more expensive prescription drug. Many over-the-counter drugs for common conditions such as pain-relievers, allergy medications, anti-fungals and cold-and-cough medicines were once prescription only. But be aware that if you have a flexible spending account or a health savings account, you’ll need to get a doctor’s prescription for the over-the-counter drugs (except insulin) to get reimbursed.

Shop around

Drug prices can vary widely from drugstore to drugstore, so it’s definitely worth your time to compare prices at different pharmacies. To do this use, a Web tool that enables you to find prices on all brand name and generic drugs at virtually every U.S. pharmacy.

Search for drug assistance programs

If your income is limited, you can probably get help through drug assistance programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations. To find these types of programs use, a comprehensive website that lets you locate the programs you’re eligible for, and will show you how to apply.

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

Healthy Food for Two: Light lunch

By Ania Robertson

It took me a while to create a recipe for preparing a dish with Swiss chard, which I do not like too much.  This one works for me, and I hope it will work for you.

Swiss chard is very low in calories and fats, recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like Swiss chard decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It promotes a healthy complexion, increases energy and, overall, lowers weight.

One cup of cooked Swiss chard provides approximately 716 percent of vitamin K, which may have a role in bone health by promoting bone formation and strengthening activity. Swiss chard is also an excellent source of vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and fiber.

Barley Swiss Chard Salad

1/2 cup barley (makes 1 1/4 cups cooked)

1 1/4 cups water for cooking barley

4 medium leaves of Swiss Chard

1/3 cup sliced raw almonds, roasted


Cook barley following instructions on the package.

Rinse Swiss chard thoroughly. Separate leaves from stems and chop them into strips. Chop stems into 3/4-inch pieces. Throw stems into boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Add leaves and cook for another 30 seconds. Strain and rinse with cold water.


1 teaspoon Tahini (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons soya sauce tamari, reduced sodium

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, unfiltered

1 medium clove garlic, smashed

dash of honey

Mix all ingredients till smooth.

Roasting almonds:

Place almonds in a heavy, ungreased skillet. Stir often over medium heat until golden brown.

Place barley on the plate, on top of that put Swiss Chard and pour the dressing over. Sprinkle with the roasted almonds.

Serve warm or room temperature.

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


Ellen Sarah Andrews Walker

Ellen Sarah Andrews Walker

Ellen Sarah Andrews Walker

Ellen Sarah (Andrews) Walker died on Sunday, Aug. 16 at her home with her daughter, Heidi, at her bedside. She was born in Burlington on June 10, 1921, the daughter of C. Bertrand and Ina (Fuller) Andrews. She was predeceased by her 5 siblings: Kenneth; Ruth; Lillian; Fuller; and Everett.

She grew up on the Historical Andrews Farm in Richmond, and graduated from Richmond High School in 1939. She obtained a teaching degree from Johnson State College in 1942. Ellen taught one year in West Bolton in a one-room schoolhouse and five years at Richmond Elementary School.

On June 9, 1946 she married Harold D. Walker of Johnson. He predeceased her on June 29, 1996. She was also predeceased by her son Duane “Sam” Walker in 1992.

Survivors are: Craig and Patricia Walker of Stamford, Conn., G. Patricia Cook of Hartford, Vickie Walker and Reggie Melrose of Williston, Mary and Tom Patterson of Gorham, Me., Robin and Trent Coletta of Williston and Heidi and Alan Brown of Williston. Ellen so enjoyed her 13 grandchildren: Dana and Elizabeth Walker; Stacy, Caleb and Colin Cook; Antonio, Jordan and Tyne Melrose; James and Sally Patterson; Lillian Coletta; and Sam and Max Brown.

She was blessed with 5 great grandchildren: Lyla and Chace Cook; Jesiah and Arryana Perry; and Collier Cook.

A celebration of life service will be on Thursday, Aug. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Williston Federated Church, followed by a burial at Riverview Cemetery in Richmond. A reception will be held 3-6 p.m. at the Brown’s home, 598 Metcalf Drive, Williston. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Williston Seniors, 126 Whitney Hill Homestead, Williston, VT 05495.

Apprenticeship program to begin

Observer staff report

The Vermont Department of Labor recently announced the start of the fall semester plumbing and electrical apprenticeship classes. The department provides a grant to Vermont Technical College for classroom instruction, test preparation and other activities related to this program.

“Apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity for Vermonters who are interested in the electrical and plumbing trades to enter those professions with an employer-sponsor. The apprenticeship program, with structured on-the-job training and related technical instruction, allows apprentices to learn while earning a competitive salary, in jobs that are in high demand,” said Vermont’s Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan.

Classes will begin in early September at many sites around the state. Classes run until mid-March or early April and consist of 144 hours of instruction.

If you are an employer who may want to sponsor an apprentice, a current employer sponsor who wants to enroll a student(s) in class or an individual looking to apply, contact Judy Bourbeau, apprenticeship program supervisor at 828-5250 or [email protected] or visit VDOL’s website at

Hub Happenings

Rutland Accounting Firm Merges with Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs


Rutland Accounting firm Siliski & Buzzell has merged with Williston-based CPA firm Davis and Hodgdon Associates in a deal that closed on July 1.

Operating under the banner of Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs, the firms’ newly expanded team will continue to operate from their existing locations in Rutland and Chittenden counties. Robert E. Buzzell Jr., CPA, CVA will continue to manage the Rutland office which will be known as Siliski & Buzzell, a division of Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs.

Each firm has been serving the Vermont business community for more than 25 years.

Michael Coburn honored

Williston Allstate agency owner Michael Coburn has earned the designation of Allstate Premier Agency for 2015. This honor is bestowed upon 48 percent of Allstate’s nearly 10,000 agency owners across the country. Coburn is receiving this designation for his outstanding performance and commitment to putting Williston customers at the center of his work.

Vermont unemployment rate holds in June

The Vermont Department of Labor announced that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for June was 3.6 percent. This represents no change from the revised May rate (3.6 percent). The national average in June was 5.3 percent, which experienced a decrease of two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month’s estimate. As of the prior month’s initial data, Vermont’s unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the country. June represents the ninth consecutive month without an increase to the unemployment rate.

Three join PT360

PT360 recently welcomed three physical therapists, all UVM graduates, to its employee-owned physical therapy cooperative.

Nina Dinan

Nina Dinan

Nina Dinan, who joined the Williston location, has a doctorate in physical therapy. Her specialties include sport and work-related injuries, pediatrics and post-surgical patients in addition to general orthopedics. She has a certification in Selective Functional Movement Assessment, which classifies patients’ movement patterns to direct therapeutic interventions.

Laura Clark

Laura Clark

Laura Clark, who also joined the Williston team, has practiced physical therapy for more than 23 years with a focus on sports, orthopedic and post-surgical rehabilitation. Her areas of expertise include foot and ankle biomechanics, orthotic evaluation and fabrication, manual therapy including fascial restrictions and work hardening.

Jeff Look

Jeff Look

Jeff Look joined PT360’s Shelburne location. He has spent a majority of his professional career in the outpatient sports and orthopedic settings.

Musgrave honored

Richard Musgrave

Richard Musgrave

Williston resident Richard J. Musgrave, Esquire, who leads Husky Injection Molding Systems legal and intellectual property teams, was recently named a Corporate Intellectual Property (IP) Star by Managing Intellectual Property. Musgrave was selected from a worldwide pool of more than 4,000 in-house counsel as a Corporate IP Star for demonstrating an exceptional capacity for the strategic management and protection of Husky Injection Molding Systems, Inc.’s valued intellectual property assets.

National Gardening Association appoints new executive director

The Williston-based National Gardening Association’s Board of Directors has selected Jennifer Tedeschi to lead the 43-year-old nonprofit organization.

After searching for a strong leader, the Board of Directors determined that the best person to fill the role of executive director was Tedeschi, who has been with NGA since 2012 and was previously serving as the organization’s interim COO since September of 2014.

Tedeschi brings over 20 years of business management and financial experience in the fields of health care, disaster restoration and property management.

NEFCU scores high

DepositAccounts has just released the 2015 edition of its Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America. New England Federal Credit Union made the list for the second straight year (one of only 66 credit unions to do so out of 6,655 total federally insured credit unions). The credit union stood out in all of the primary evaluation categories, including Texas Ratio, Deposit Growth and Capitalization

NEFCU’S Shelburne Rd. branch awarded LEED silver certification

NEFCU Shelburne Rd. BranchNew England Federal Credit Union’s Shelburne Road branch, which opened in 2013, has been awarded LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification award stated that “LEED certification identifies NEFCU’s 1000 Shelburne Road as a showcase example of sustainable design and demonstrates…leadership in transforming the building industry.”

As part of the LEED initiative, NEFCU’s project included the installation of a 7kw solar panel array solution installed on the roof of the building and integrated into the branch’s electrical system. The power generated onsite directly services the building, reducing the amount of power purchased from the utility power grid.

RETN site wins national award

Local educational television station RETN Channel 16 received top honors for its web site at in the annual Hometown Media Awards presented by the Alliance for Community Media, recognizing the best community media organizations across the nation.

“The national Hometown Media Awards compare the hardest working web development for community media organizations like us,” said RETN’s content manager, Drew Frazier. “Winning the best web site award reflects efforts in web development over the past several years for RETN.”

Construction begins on $30 Million Freeman Woods development in Essex

BlackRock Construction has broken ground on the first phase of a $30 million development near the town center of Essex. Freeman Woods, a planned mixed-use development, includes a Memory Care facility, a 71-bed assisted living facility, professional office building and 17 townhomes.

Saint Michael’s again among Princeton Review ‘Best 380’

Saint Michael’s College was again included in the Princeton Review college rankings.

The education services company included Saint Michael’s in the new 2016 edition of its college guide, The Best 380 Colleges, released Aug. 4. The latest guide places the Colchester liberal arts college in “top 20” rankings for “Town-Gown Relations are Great” (#11), “College City Gets High Marks,” (#12) and “Best College Radio Station” (#13).

AmeriGas makes donation

Blue Flame and Liberty Propane (both AmeriGas companies) presented the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity with a check for $10,000 for its WARMTH Program. The check was presented on June 29 to Jan Demers, CVOEO Executive Director, by Bill Rhino, account manager for AmeriGas.

The WARMTH program aids local residents in need of funding to help individuals and families heat their homes during times of crisis.

Champlain College gives staff awards

President Donald J. Laackman and the Champlain College Board of Trustees recently announced the recipients of several awards.

Professor Elaine Young was awarded the Edward Phelps Lyman Professorship.

The 2015 Francine Page Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to adjunct faculty member Marc Nadel in the Division of Communication and Creative Media.

The recipient of the Durick Staff Service Award is Learning Assessment Director Ellen Zeman.

Insurance group announces new stockholder

Jeff Labonte

Jeff Labonte

Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group recently announced the addition of new stockholder Jeff LaBonte.

“We are very excited to welcome Jeff as a new owner; his superb dedication to our customers and organization have been a vital component to the growth of our organization,” said Scott Boardman, president of the agency.   

Maxwell joins Automaster

The Automaster announced Monday that Todd Maxwell has been appointed as the new service manager for its Honda franchise. Maxwell comes to The Automaster with an extensive background in customer service, team-building and work-flow management.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with our decision to appoint Todd as the service manager,” said Dale Fillion, General Manager at The Automaster. “In just a few short weeks, he has already had a dramatic impact on the efficiency of the department.”

Eric Lafayette joins KW Vermont

Eric Lafayette, a real estate sales professional from Burlington, has joined KW Vermont as an individual agent.

Lafayette has background experience in construction and property management and is looking forward to using those skills in his new career.

Seven Days hires five

Seven Days recently hired five staff members.

Molly Walsh, an award-winning reporter with more than 25 years of experience, was hired as a staff writer.

Kymelya Sari, who recently earned a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, was hired as a staff writer.

Seven Days also hired Kristen Ravin as a calendar writer, Lisa Matanle as an HR generalist and graphic designer Kirsten Cheney as an employment designer.

ECHO hires two

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, recently announced two new staff members and the appointment of a current staffer to a new position.

Nina Ridhibhinyo was named director of programs and exhibits. Previously she served as ECHO’s groups program manager. She entered ECHO as groups program coordinator.

David Bardaglio joined ECHO in June as director of finance and administration. Previously he worked as managing consultant and CFO for Optimal Energy, Inc. and financial director with the Vermont Energy Investment Corp/Efficiency Vermont, in addition to similar roles in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

Barry Lampke, who also came on board in June, connects two important local organizations as the Voices for the Lake Project Manager. A partnership between ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain and the Center for Earth Ministry, the project is identifying opportunities for collaboration to create a culture of clean water.

NG Advantage promotes Sheredy

Andrea Sheredy has been promoted to senior accountant at NG Advantage LLC. Sheredy has been with NG Advantage since 2013.

In her new position, she will continue to be the lead in daily accounting activities but will add responsibility for helping the controller and the executive team with financial analysis, budgeting and tax reporting.