Ski resort for ‘Bachelor Winter Games’ faces foreclosure

WILMINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A private Vermont ski resort that was the setting for ABC's "The Bachelor Winter Games" is facing foreclosure on several properties. The Brattleboro Reformer reports foreclosure complaints were issued Friday on Hermitage Club properties in Dover and Wilmington. The club also failed to pay property taxes in both towns. Hermitage recently laid off about 80 people, citing poor weather and cash-flow issues. Company spokeswoman Meredith Dennes says the foreclosures are needed to help the company reach an agreement. Wilmington Select Board Vice Chairman John Gannon says news of the foreclosures is "frustrating" because the town had worked out a payment agreement with the club. The Hermitage Club hosted bachelors and bachelorettes from around the world for "The Bachelor Winter Games," a four-episode spin-off of "The Bachelor" that ran in conjunction with the Olympics. ——— Information from: Brattleboro Reformer, Continue Reading

Valparaiso basketball players show their game faces to pen pals

VALPARAISO — First-graders at Memorial Elementary couldn't wait to meet their pen pals Tuesday afternoon. The students were matched up with members of the Valparaiso High School girls varsity, junior varsity and freshmen basketball teams. The students and players have been writing letters to each other since the end of October. Rebecca Hoefler, the JV coach, and her sister, Jenny Hoefler, one of the first-grade teachers at Memorial, thought matching players up with students would be a good pen pal experience for everyone involved. "It's so beneficial to write a letter and carry on a conversation," Jenny Hoefler said. "We would love to do this every year. It's great to see the different age groups interacting." Rebecca Hoefler said the players were excited about meeting the students and seeing the classrooms. Once the students met the players and showed them their class, they went to the gym to play basketball. The first-graders got to wear the players' uniforms and show the skills they have. Hailey Sobeck, 6, was showing freshman Lucia Otten her pink backpack. "I sent my player a basketball," Sobeck said. "This is adorable," Otten said. "Working with the kids is fun." Close 1 of 18 Buy Now Hannah Fields, left, a Valparaiso High School basketball player, sits down with Braden Sur, a first-grader at Memorial Elementary School, on Tuesday. Girls basketball players visited their pen pals at the school. Kale Wilk, The Times Facebook Twitter Email Print Save Buy Now Kale Wilk, The Times Facebook Twitter Email Print Save Buy Now Kale Wilk, The Times Facebook Twitter Email Print Save Buy Now Valparaiso High School girls basketball players walk with their first-grade pen pals in a hallway at Memorial Elementary School on Tuesday. Kale Wilk, The Times Facebook Twitter Continue Reading

How a Star Wars video game faced charges that it was promoting gambling

Kylo Ren and stormtroopers enter the fight in this image from “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” (EA) Imagine buying a new chess set. Chess is your favorite game. Also you love “Star Wars.” It’s a Star Wars chess set! Now imagine playing your friend who spent $200 for the random chance that his pawns obtain the board-clearing powers of a queen. Plus his king looks like Darth Vader and yours still looks like a scruffy-looking nerf herder. You might get mad. Or you might up the ante and spend a few hundred bucks to even the odds. Now imagine that you’re both children. These are some of the questions that have been gripping the video game industry in a controversy leading up to the Friday release of “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” this year’s marquee Star Wars title timed to Disney’s highly anticipated “The Last Jedi” film next month. The “loot box” purchasing menu for “Star Wars: Battlefront 2″ before it was removed from the game. (Image from YouTube channel XfactorGaming) It all started a month ago, when EA showcased that “Battlefront II” would have a “loot box” system in place for players. On top of the $60-$80 retail price, the game was going to allow players at home to spend more money on digital “boxes,” which can give you random extra benefits. Each loot box contains a random reward. You could get abilities to do more damage or move faster, or you might get a dud, like a “dance” emote for your character. And if you get that dud, you might spend even more money and up the chances of permanently becoming more powerful, like the ability to make Boba Fett fly around with 100 percent invincibility. It’s why critics have called it “glorified gambling”: You don’t know what you’re spending money on, but the more you spend, the higher the Continue Reading

Score the ultimate World Cup game face with a patriotically painted mug

Get your game face on. With Team USA’s next World Cup battle this Sunday against Portugal, your country wants YOU! to paint its colors on your mug. But crafting the perfect Stars and Stripes is harder than doing a bicycle kick in the box with two Brazilians hanging off you. So The News called in Melissa M unn — the Cezanne of the countenance, the Klee of the kisser — to paint our faces in a motif more patriotic than Uncle Sam’s. Would-be American face-painters be warned: You may love your country, but you’ll hate its complicated 13 alternating stripes and star-flecked field of blue. “The American flag is by far the most difficult,” says Munn of Face Art by Melissa, who charges $150 to put those broad stripes and bright stars on your face (bombs bursting in air not included). Other flags — like the French Tricolour or Japan’s Rising Sun — are a joke compared to Old Glory. She even did a Jamaican flag for a client once. She could have done it blindfolded. “It was so easy, it took me five minutes! A U.S. flag takes an hour,” she says. We wanted to serve our country, so we had Munn paint two different, but equally patriotic, designs: American Flag Face and the Pretty Lady Liberty for ladies who want a little glitter, lots of lashes, but didn’t want to go commando. Painting the stripes and stars is tricky — like beating those damn British back in ’76 — plus, we wanted a display that could sustain blood, sweat and tears (definitely tears, given that oddsmakers say we’ll lose on Sunday). Munn says it’s hard to get the stripes and the stars perfectly across foreheads, noses, mouth. And the famous canton of blue on our national flag is no standard issue paint: Munn creates her own cyan by blending bright, metallic and indigo shades of Continue Reading

Michelle Obama and Jimmy Fallon show off their ‘game faces’ before her stop on ‘Late Night’

Michelle Obama and Jimmy Fallon showed each other their “game faces” on Friday as both geared up for the First Lady’s appearance on “Late Night” to promote her “Let’s Move” campaign for kids’ health. Fallon was the first to tweet his “game face” photo. “Here’s my game face,” he tweeted to Michelle Obama, along with his snarling image. “What’s yours?” The First Lady soon responded – pointing at the camera with a stern look as the picture was snapped. “Game on, Jimmy,” she tweeted. “See you soon!” This won’t be the first time Obama and Fallon go head-to-head to promote healthy living. Last year, the duo competed in push-ups, tug-of-war, hula hooping, dodge ball and sack races for a viral “Late Night” segment. For the third anniversary of the “Let’s Move” campaign, the First Lady is also appearing on “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show.” Starting next Wednesday, she’ll embark on a national two-day tour to encourage healthy eating and exercise in children, with stops in Clinton, Miss.; Chicago, Ill.; and Springfield, Mo. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

NY Rangers’ John Tortorella has grim game face with media during NHL playoffs

Rex Ryan is the undisputed king of the postgame press conference. John Tortorella is now officially a serious challenger for the fat man’s crown. With Ryan, the main attraction is watching him bellow his bombastic shtick to the attending media. Tortorella is a different trip. He’s a belligerent, deadpan, defensive witness with little use for the peons cross-examining him. While he has demonstrated multiple ways to take the Fifth, Tortorella is still must-see TV. You watch to see how much of a jerk he will be. When he decides to release all his sarcastic arrogance on the notebooks and pens, feeding them condescending crumbs, Tortorella’s playoff podium performances border on classic. There is some peril here, especially for the TV ratings-challenged NHL. There are plenty of suits in the league office (and in the bunkers of NBC, the league’s TV partner) praying the big-market Rangers beat the Caps Saturday night and advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the Devils. Still, depositing Tortorella, who coached Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004, back in the blinding national television spotlight could be embarrassing for the league and the game. First and foremost, the reporters covering these playoff tilts have a job to do. Judging by his reactions during these televised press conferences, seen on MSG, Tortorella enjoys making their jobs tougher than they already are. He’s making his employers happy, too. James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan and his Gulag operatives don’t have any sympathy for the boss scribes. And while we find Tortorella’s act amusing, even entertaining, it could be a complete turn-off to fans, especially casual ones the NHL desperately tries attracting to its playoff telecasts. With the fighting, and other premeditated acts of violence designed to injure and maim an opponent, the NHL already has a wellestablished dark side. As viewership increases with the playoffs moving into the home Continue Reading

Serena Williams’ game face puts fear in her opponents at 2012 U.S. Open

There is an eerie moment whenever Serena Williams finishes off another match point; a surreal, awkward transition in full view of the TV cameras. In a nanosecond, the scowling, surly, game face turns joyous, ingenuous. She smiles widely. Williams waves or dances. It's hard sometimes for the audience to follow along, to relate, because the behavior appears a non sequitur. How can such a callous, unforgiving athlete instantly become a delighted child? What happened to the face, to the meanness? Williams is scheduled to play a second-round match on Thursday at the U.S. Open. She rolled her ankle on Wednesday during a doubles match, but this still figures to be a gimmie. Here's some free advice for her opponent, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain: Envision the dancing Serena when the match starts. Then between points, look at the net, at the flower pots around the court, at the corporate logos, at anything other than the most intimidating game face in tennis -- and arguably in all of sports. "Look at your strings, your racket, get in your own world, look to your coach for support," said Pam Shriver, the ESPN analyst, giving Williams' future opponents some guidance. "The last thing you want to do is look at her." Gaze too long upon that face, you are a loser. Your arms turn to stone right there on the court, your feet to clay, the way that Coco Vandeweghe's did on Tuesday night. There were moments that evening when Vandeweghe made Williams wait on her serve, and when Serena glared at Vandeweghe with a face that could sink a hundred ships. Then came another ace. The very best game faces in sports - from Bob Gibson to Sonny Liston to Mark Messier - imply a combination of coercive elements. They are angry, determined, focused, and they carry some vague, unstated threat of humiliation or punishment. Gibson hit people with a baseball. Liston hit them with his fists and Messier hit them with his stick. Williams can't literally hurt Continue Reading

App-alling or funny? ‘Smuggle Truck’ game faces bumpy road of public opinion

A proposed iPhone and iPad game that makes fun of illegal border crossings is under fire from advocates who don't think the plight of immigrants is a laughing matter. The app, "Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration," lets players try to drive a pickup over rocky terrain without too many people bouncing out. Every so often, a newborn baby pops out of the truck and up into the air. Owlchemy Labs, the Massachusetts-based tech team behind the game, urges players to "enjoy hilarious physics-based driving gameplay while trying to transport your cargo over the border." But the joke is lost on Thanu Yakupitiyage of the New York Immigration Coalition, who noted that 170 people died along the border last year. "This 'game' pokes fun and trivializes the harsh reality of our current immigration policy that leads to people putting their lives at stake and embarking on dangerous border crossings," she said. After Owlchemy posted updates about Smuggle Truck on a Facebook page last month, even some of the company's fans called for a boycott. "DISGUSTING," posted Xochitl Quintero. "Yes I know it's a game, but human suffering is no joke to me." Owlchemy co-founder Alex Schwartz said his team was trying to make people aware of the absurdities of the country's immigration system - and tapping into frustration about how long it takes for people to come to the U.S. legally. "We feel like there should be room for expression in this medium that can talk about this - but because we're approaching it with satire it's hard to do," he said. Schwartz's business partner, who was born in Turkey, had to leave the U.S. after college. He's back now, though the company would not comment on his immigration status. His situation led Owlchemy to launch an "Immigration Jam" last summer that invited techies to spend two days creating games on the theme - and that's how Smuggle Truck came to be. Schwartz said the team is open to changes so immigrant groups are more comfortable with Continue Reading

China’s Games face

Not unlike Baghdad Bob of yore, announcing that the invaders were being heroically repulsed even as his TV studio was blasted to bits, China points to the orange and purple clouds roiling in the skies, thick enough to choke a mammoth, and says nooooo, those are ethereal mists from the Sacred Lake of the Ancient Gods. And here is precisely the metaphor for China on the eve of the Olympic Games. Here is China, sleek and gleaming and bustling with prosperity and promise. But it is still China, and all the world can plainly see that. The Chinese got the 2008 Olympics they wanted, feather proud in cap. Alas for them, the Games come with attention on issues that are now very much in evidence and beyond their orchestration and management. They come with disruptions by Tibetan activists of the torch's travels. They come with human-rights scoldings from President Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. They come with a ferocious campaign by actress Mia Farrow to brand the "Genocide Olympics" an insult to civilization by reason of China's bland inattention to the wretches of Darfur. The splendid new Olympic boulevards and palaces were built on the backs of thousands of Chinese displaced from their homes. If the Beijing air is more breathable than it was a few months ago, that's because whole industrial sectors have been shut down by the government and commercial transportation has been ordered stopped. If some Chinese are aware of the Darfur clamor, it isn't because they got their information from the Internet, because that's illegal. The world sees all this with its own eyes - China's remarkable economic progress beside the country's brutish backwardness. Over the next couple of weeks, as the athletes compete, we will see more things that the Chinese would rather we didn't. It will be an inspiration, for example, to watch the U.S. team march into the opening ceremonies led by a Lost Boy of Sudan. The Stars and Stripes will be carried by Lopez Lomong, who Continue Reading

Yolanda sidekick has Lotto game face on

Meet the latest addition to the New York State Lottery drawing team. Markita Bond is a 23-year-old native of Forest Hills. She was working as a waitress at Red Lobster in Times Square. Now she's one of three new faces of the state lottery. "I've had this goal for so long," Bond said. "I've always wanted to do something where I can shine." Bond received her associate's degree from Queensborough Community College and was thinking about becoming a high school English teacher, but she always pursued acting and modeling on the side. Then the phone rang and a lottery official told her she'd been selected from 1,000 applicants for a shot at becoming part of the lottery drawing team. "At first I thought, 'Did I win something?'" she recalled. "My mom overheard me. She said, 'Your aunt sent in your résumé online.' It was a total surprise all the way around." After nailing several interviews, Bond was selected, along with Gretchen Dizer of Buffalo and Jina Matthews of Baltimore, to join 18-year veteran Yolanda Vega in drawing the winning lottery numbers each night. Bond said she's most proud of the New York State Lottery's involvement in helping to fund schools across the state. Bond will begin appearing on the nightly drawings in the middle of next month. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading