September 18, 2014
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” Graphic, Indeed
By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer
Whether you call it beautifully ugly or repulsively beautiful, there’s no denying that Messrs. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is fanatically violent. That’s doubtlessly the intent. While some of the cutting edge ideas and eye-popping visuals surely impress the gray matter, after a while enough is too much. I like to think I’ve evolved far and away from any distant ancestors’ appetite for the random mayhem displayed. But for those who have not, get your decapitations here.
Yep, step right up…there’s lots of that in a variety of styles, as well as the random dispossession of all other body portions, too, including no small focus on, and mention of, the so-called private parts. All of which creates a distracting aura for one who doesn’t instinctively gather at venues where such grisly abhorrence is regularly perpetrated. You can’t help but wonder what the attraction is as your hard drive recalls the prophecies opined in “A Clockwork Orange” (1971).
This is nihilistic stuff. The auteurs apparently don’t subscribe to the same artistic notion that Hitchcock hung his horror noose on, wherein the director leaves the really ominous speculations to the viewer’s imagination. Here, much of the suspense is dispensed with, the buckets of blood unabashedly spoon-fed to whomsoever wishes to lap it up. Well, that’s show business.
Too bad, because the creativity that goes into these otherwise questionable perpetrations is impressive. The art work, much of which would be worthy of wall space at the right gallery, both champions and satirizes its comic roots. And the neo film noir gist that supports the dark ethos at the heart of the “Sin City” franchise is smartly written. But while these noted values help ensure our interest until about the halfway point, after the sanguinity gets repetitious one is apt to ask, “Why am I watching this?”
Granting partial dispensation for what might be deemed guilty thrills by those who would ordinarily have no truck with such distasteful carryings-on, a marvelous ensemble cast purveys the bedlam. Taking center stage in one of the series of stories that comprises the total saga, James Brolin is superb as the Hammettesque gumshoe, Dwight McCarthy, thunderstruck by the lady alluded to in the title. She is the vampish and conniving Ava, played to the nines by Eva Green. Her past is mysterious, her future, surely sinister.
Reprising his role from the first, circa 2005 adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Mickey Rourke is Marv, a barfly/ghetto warrior/murdering avenger whose ostensible good guy status makes him a bizarre antihero. What a piece of work, fashioned as only Mickey could imagine him. He is estimably joined by Powers Boothe as crooked Senator Roark; Jessica Alba as poor, put upon go-go dancer Nancy; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, the, uh, lucky gambler.
These are shockingly downtrodden folk, scrounging around in the very aptly named title metropolis. There is virtually no sunshine, and even less hope. If there’s anyone in Sin City who isn’t either in the saloon cheering on the lascivious dancers or out in the dark, dank alleys murdering someone, it isn’t brought to our attention. Dysfunction is the celebrated rule. The only thing that brings anyone a smile is revenge.
While a giambotta of sordid little plots claws for your attention, there are two main stories, unwisely delivered separately. A knitting of all the elements in tandem, although surely requiring some fancy splicing, would have proved less anticlimactic. Also disconcerting, if you’re the sort who requires more than an “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” in your film entertainment, the yarns rarely segue from their patently visceral bent. Comedy relief? There’s no comedy relief in Hell.
The moral lessons are delivered begrudgingly and cynically, the film preferring to leave you with the notion that, while there may be a perfunctorily inserted, so-called happy ending, one can’t ever escape from The Man and his accursed control. A Lord of the Flies, Powers Boothe’s hatefully despotic Senator Roark laughs at his constituents’ dreams to realize anything but their bleak subservience. It is purposely overdone, but to a fault.
Pity is, the CGI overlay, which imbues the actors with a near eerie, quasi-comic book exaggeration, combined with a similarly painted landscape, is done so well. You’d like to see it better utilized. But like the movie’s characters, it’s all so curiously negative. While re-reading Schopenhauer’s theories on pessimism may lend insight into the filmmakers’ philosophical point, if indeed there is one, let it suffice that the tiresome obsession with original sin in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” dooms it to fall from our good graces.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” rated R, is a Weinstein Company release directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and stars, James Brolin, Jessica Alba and Mickey Rourke. Running time: 104 minutes
By Mal Boright
Pushed around Saturday by a huge Colchester team with a platoon of powerful and elusive running backs, the Champlain Valley Union High football team is getting ready for a second straight home game, this time with the 0-1 Essex High Hornets in Hinesburg this Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
“We have to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again,” said CVU head coach Jim Provost Sunday in the wake of the 46-19 crunching handed the Redhawks by the Lakers.
Essex is coming off a zinger of its own, having been popped 41-29 at home Friday by defending Division 1 champion Middlebury Union High.
“We are better than we showed on Saturday,” said Provost, adding that the team has a great attitude. “We played young and in a lot of respects we are young.”
The coach said Essex may come in with a different philosophy than in the past, apparently having moved away from the no-huddle go-go pass and occasionally run days of yore.
Provost said the Hornets do have speed in “several good athletes who carry the ball.”
There will be few if any future Redhawk foes with the size and mobility of the Lakers, who chewed up the ground for 395 yards behind a monster line which created large holes for six backs to individually gain 29 yards and more.
Colchester also sparkled with special teams, putting up 192 return yards, including a 90-yard rumble with the second half-opening kickoff that eventually led to a hope-smashing touchdown. This turn of events after the Redhawks had scored just before intermission to get within 26-13 and light the fires of possible momentum for the home folks.
“Their (Lakers’) big guys are really good,” said Provost.
With 19 seniors on their roster, the Lakers could go 290, 285, 245 and 240 on the front line and still have beef in reserve.
“Yeah,” said a grim CVU linebacker-offensive lineman Matt Goldsborough when asked if the size was a big factor. “That was about it.”
The senior had a busy two-way day including a fumble recovery late in the game that set up the Redhawks’ final score, a 20-yard scoring pitch from quarterback Jake Evans to receiver Zach Toensing in the end zone.
All three CVU scores came through the air. The Redhawks took their lone lead with one minute and six seconds left in the opening stanza, 6-4 receiver Jack Austin snaring a 4-yard toss from starting quarterback Andrew Bortnick (6 for 9, 91 yards). Brandon Young kicked the point-after and CVU led 7-6.
But Colchester then unleashed the horses named Erik Lagerquist (122 yards), powerful Jared Antoniak and swiveling Grant Cummings behind that massive line to score the next three touchdowns with Antoniak (4-yard run), Cummings (45-yard scamper) and Lagerquist (9-yard smash) doing the honors.
Bortnick’s 10-yard scoring pitch to Trevor Kingston with 50.8 seconds left in the first half gave a respite to the Red and White. But it was only temporary.
Top footman for the Redhawks was Rich Lowrey with 64 yards on 16 carries.
Dear Savvy Senior,
My mother, who lives with me, has Alzheimer’s disease and I worry about her wandering away. What tips can you recommend to help me protect her?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 60 percent of people who suffer from dementia wander at some point. For caregivers, this can be frightening because many of those who wander off end up confused and lost, even in their own neighborhood, and are unable to communicate who they are or where they live. But there are things you can do to guard against this and protect your loved one.
For starters, to help reduce your mom’s tendency to wander, keep her occupied and involved in familiar daily activities such as preparing dinner or folding the laundry. It’s also important to encourage daily exercise and limit daytime napping to reduce nighttime restlessness.
There are also a number of simple home modifications you can make to keep her from wandering away. Some possible solutions include: adding an extra lock on the top or bottom of the exterior doors out of the line of sight; install child-proof door knobs or levers; place a full-length mirror, or put a “STOP” or “Do Not Enter” sign on the doors you don’t want her going through; or get a signal device or motion sensor that lets you know when the door is opened. See alzstore.com for a variety of product solutions. And, be sure you hide the car keys to keep her from driving.
It’s also a good idea to alert your neighbors that your mom may wander so they can keep an eye out, and have on hand a recent picture to show around the neighborhood or to the police if she does get lost.
If you want some added protection in case she does wander off, there are a number of services you can turn to for help, like the MedicAlert + Safe Return program (medicalert.org/safereturn).
This service comes with a personalized ID bracelet that will have your mom’s medical information engraved on it, along with her membership number and the toll-free MedicAlert emergency phone number.
If she goes missing, you would call 911 and report it to the local police department who would begin a search, and then report it to MedicAlert. Or, a Good Samaritan or police officer may find her, call the MedicAlert number, to get her back home safely.
Another option that could help, depending on where you live, is a radio frequency locater service like SafetyNet and Project Lifesaver, which are offered by some local law enforcement agencies.
With these services, your mother would wear a wristband that contains a radio transmitter that emits tracking signals. If she goes missing, you would contact the local authorities who would send out rescue personnel who will use their tracking equipment to locate her. Visit safetynetbylojack.com and projectlifesaver.org to see if these services are available in your community.
There are also a number of GPS tracking devices that can help you keep tabs on your mom. With these products, she would carry or wear a small GPS tracker that would notify you or other caregivers via text message or email if she were to wander beyond a pre-established area, and would let you know exactly where to find her if she did.
To find GPS trackers, consider the PocketFinder (pocketfinder.com) or the Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone (alz.org/comfortzone). Or, if you have concerns that your mother wouldn’t wear a GPS device or would take it off, there’s the GPS SmartSole (gpssmartsole.com), which is an insole with an embedded GPS device.
For more wandering prevention tips and solutions, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Safety Center at alz.org/safety and This Caring Home at thiscaringhome.org.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
By Kim Dannies
Do you have a favorite pan or dish that is the first pick starter in your kitchen?
I like to cook in a white fireproof rectangular roasting/baking dish that says Schonwald German Lukull on the bottom. It was a wedding gift an eon ago and it is my go-to for roasting, baking, and marinating. Every baking recipe I have revolves around this pan’s dimensions, which are 13x9x2 inches. I recently took it to a potluck party loaded with Blueberry Corn Bread and then panicked on the way home: “If this dish ever breaks my cooking career is over!”
I Googled the name and found out that Schonwald is a revered German ceramic producer that was recently acquired by Libby Glass. The good news is that I might find this dish offered in the USA soon, so no more worries about my precious pal.
This Blueberry Cornbread is a winner: it is not overly sweet and the nutrition boost comes from blueberries and fresh corn. It is excellent as a morning starter, school snack, dessert, muffin, and partner to chili—and it rounds out the potluck table beautifully.
Blueberry Corn Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prep a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, blend together 3 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 8 ounces of melted butter. Add 1 teaspoon each vanilla and lemon extract (optional). Add 2 cups cornmeal, 2 cups flour, ⅔ cup sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder and 2 pinches of salt. Stir until just combined. Fold in 2 cups freshly shucked (or leftover) corn.
Pour batter into the baking dish, do not smooth batter surface. Using a chopstick, poke 2 cups of fresh blueberries into the surface of cornbread, submerging the berries slightly. Sprinkle ⅓ cup raw sugar all over the surface. Bake 35-40 minutes.
Blueberry Corn Muffins
Divide the batter among large muffin tins, bake 25 minutes; cool. For a super special breakfast treat slice muffins in half; butter both surfaces and toast on a hot griddle. Smear the muffins with fresh berry jam. Makes 12 large muffins.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.
The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission provided a list of anticipated roadwork in the region.
Paving, ditching and guardrail operations will continue throughout the project area of Latham Mobile Home Sales in Bolton and Little River Road in Waterbury through Friday. Paving crews will also start preparing driveway aprons and side road entrances for final paving. There will be lane closures with alternating one-way travel and traffic control will be present. Motorists should expect traffic delays.
Work on repaving VT Route 128 from the intersection of Route 15 in Essex extending north on Route 128 for 5.7 miles into Westford includes general cleanup work throughout the project limits through Friday, weather permitting.
Interstate 89 – Between Richmond and Colchester
Nighttime work on I-89 between Richmond and Colchester continues. All paving and painting work is weather permitting. There will be continued bridge joint work on the southbound bridges. Motorists should expect lane closures and traffic delays. The speed limit is reduced, and fines are doubled for speeding within the construction zone. Motorists should use extreme caution while driving through the construction areas.
Interstate 89 – Milton Lamoille River Bridges Project
Lane closures in both directions may cause traffic delays. Northbound lane closures are from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and if required from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Southbound lane closures are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and if required from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Rolling road blocks will occur on Thursday and throughout the week as needed. The northbound and southbound shoulders at the Bridge are closed. Motorists should reduce speed and use extreme caution while driving through the construction zone
There will be signal work at the Park and Ride intersection on Route 2 causing lane pattern changes. Traffic control will be present.
Construction on the realignment of US Route 2 between East Avenue and the ramps for I-89 by the Sheraton Hotel continues on the north side of US Route 2 by the Sheraton lawn and UVM property. Regular work hours this week are from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. with no lane closures expected during peak hours. There will also be night work from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. with some lane closures. Traffic flow will continue in both directions at all times. The sidewalk on the north side of Route 2 is closed from the Holiday Inn to East Avenue and pedestrian traffic is detoured. The bus stop remains open on the north side of Route 2 by the Sheraton. This project is expected to be completed July 31, 2015.
Motorists should be alert for mowing and sweeping operations on the interstate and state roads.
Following their run at South Burlington’s Red Rock Wednesday (Observer press time), the Champlain valley Union High cross country teams will next put on their track shoes Saturday (10:30 a.m.) for the annual Essex Invitational at the Tree Farm.
The Redhawks opened the season last Saturday morning with both boys and girls taking team runner-up slots in the informal CVU relays. The event featured two-person relay teams covering about 3,000 meters.
Essex runners took both boys and girls divisions. In the girls competition, the Hornets won the first two position to win the team totals by 12 to 15. CVU took positions 4,5, 6 and 7.
Essex boys captured positions 1 and 3 while Redhawks were in positions 2, 4, and 9. The Hornets’ winning team margin was 9 to 15.
—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent
Champlain Valley Union High coaches provide a preview of their teams for the 2014 fall sports season.
Head Coach: Scott Bliss
Key returning veterans: Sophia Gorman; Abby Keim; Emma Putre; Haley Harder and Carly Neeld
Leading newcomers: Leah Berger; Meara Heininger; Julie Sulva
Season prospects: Obviously Essex is the favorite returning their full top seven, so we are hoping to be able to compete with them and finish in the top two at the state meet. We will be looking to work together and try to improve as a team each week.
Key returning veterans: Tyler Marshall; Calvin McClellan; Harken Spillane; Tyler Wong; Devon Cantor
Leading newcomers: Elliot Eastman; Burke Spillane; Alex Legg; Matt Beer; Greg Goldman
Season prospects: We are hoping to again challenge for a place in the top three at the state meet and to continue to improve through out the season. We are very young still and we are hoping as they gain experience they become even more competitive at the state meet.
Coach: Kate McDonald
Key returning veterans: Sami Harvey (midfield); Lily Schmoker (forward); Lauren Macy (forward); Sarah Bergkvist (defense); Kathryn Asch (defense) —all seniors
Leading newcomers: Tashia Pashby-Rockwood (goalie); Stasha Rup (midfield)
Season prospects: We’re excited about another competitive season in the Metro League. We lost a small but strong group of graduating seniors, so we’re looking forward to our new players coming in to make an impact right away. First game Thursday, Sept. 5 vs. Colchester
Coach: Jim Provost
Key returning veterans: Jack Austin; Matt Goldsborough; Graeme Waples; Nick Fecteau; Sam Lewis; Jack Zullo; Will Potter
Leading newcomers: Jacob Griggs; Andrew Bortnick; Sam Mikell; Jack Dugan; Kienan Kittredge; Brandon Young; Tanner Smith
Season prospects: In a wide-open division, we hope to be in the playoff hunt. Much of our success will hinge on the performance of several new players up f
Coach: Katie Mack
Key returning veterans: Patrick McCue; Oliver Choiniere; Max Brown; Richard Baccei
Leading newcomers: Too early to tell
Season prospects: This year the team will rely on the shared leadership of a returning class of 12 seniors. Defensively, we look to stay organized in the back relying on communication from senior keeper Oscar Kelly and center backs Deagan Poland and Patrick McCue. We return several fast and athletic scoring threats including Richard Baccei and Chris Reiss on the flanks. Junior Cooper O’Connell will be an important utility player with his competitive edge and versatile tactical awareness. The team is hungry to avenge its loss to Colchester in last year’s state finals.
Coach: Stan Williams, Asst. Chris Smith
Key returning veterans: Seniors Maddie Turnau; Paige Dubrul; Bronwen Hopwood; Audrey Allegretta; Hannah Pease; Ellie Blake; Mackenzie Buckman; Sydnee Lyman; Juniors Catherine Cazayoux; Anne Keene; Megan Gannon; Sophomore Sierra Morton
Leading newcomers: Juniors Michaela Flore; Lindsay Kimball; Malina Carroll; Vina Nguyen; Lia Gagliuso; Amanda Daniels; Sophomores Naomi Burhans; Abba Weimer
Season prospects: We have another excellent group of kids and players. They have come into preseason working hard and we have high hope for the season. Our goal is to try and add our own chapter to the CVU girls soccer story.
By Mal Boright
Expectations are always sky high for boys (and girls) soccer teams at Champlain Valley Union High.
Very familiar with that is senior midfielder Patrick McCue as he gets set for his third and final campaign with the Redhawks.
This year, those usual expectations have a slightly different flavor given that the team with 12 seniors is coming off a difficult 2-1 title game loss to Colchester High in the 2013 defense of the 2012 Division 1 crown.
“I don’t want to experience that loss again,” said McCue, who was a sophomore member of the 2012 championship team.
“This year is a different type of motivation,” he said. “At CVU, we still have the target on our backs, but there are the same expectations (title) for the season.”
McCue gives the Redhawks a solid veteran’s savvy at the midfield position, which he describes as an essential role in maintaining field integrity for his team.
“We have to be a strong force in front of the back line,” he said, noting that defense rather than scoring is priority.
“We provide support to who has the ball and communication is very important,” he said.
Coach Katie Mack likes what she has seen of McCue.
“Patrick is an incredible player, technically talented with great awareness and vision,” the first year (at CVU) head mentor told the Observer. “He is a defensive force, but also has the ability to distribute and be a playmaker.”
Asked if the preseason preparation was easier under Mack than the former regime of T.J. Mead, McCue said without hesitation that “the first day this year was tougher with more fitness requirements.”
He agreed the program has not missed a beat.
The veteran said that practice sessions show the team looking good, with some of the young players standing out.
“Scoring is going to be a team effort and we do have speed up front,” he said.
McCue, hampered by a balky heel last week, said he hopes to be ready for the season opener Thursday when the Redhawks meet Rice Memorial High in the Essex High tournament at 5 p.m.
By Mal Boright
The word around the Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team is “optimism.”
Returnee Sami Harvey, getting set for her fourth varsity season, foresees a solid season for her team.
“We are looking good,” she opined during a recent chat with the Observer. “We are big this year,” she added, noting that there are 11 returning players plus 10 younger ones ready to contribute.
“Once we become close on and off the field, it will all come together.”
Coach Kate McDonald’s 2014 combine makes its debut Thursday against Colchester High (4 p.m.) on the friendly Hinesburg hillside.
Harvey started her CVU field hockey career as a jayvee during her freshman year, but was brought up to the varsity midway in the season.
“Early on, I played on defense, now I am on offense,” she said.
McDonald recalled that as a sophomore, Harvey scored the winning goal in a Division 1 semifinal playoff contest.
Harvey will be a midfielder this season and is looking forward to the challenge.
She said her job is to “distribute the ball, transfer to offense and communicate,” all in a leadership role.
Harvey also said with a grin, “in field hockey it is all about looking up.”
She was among those disappointed when the turf fields proposal was voted down last year and said the team looks forward to playing on turf at South Burlington High and Burlington.
“Field hockey is a 100 percent different game on turf,” she said. “The ball movement is just so much better.”
Harvey does not believe turf teams have a significant advantage on their home fields over non-turf teams.
“After warming up on turf, we are all set,” she said.
As for the future, Harvey is considering her choices for a nutrition major at a Division 1 university.
“I plan to focus on my major, but I will play club field hockey,” she said. However, if an opportunity for intercollegiate play comes along, she will be very interested, she said.