CinemaFanatic Reviews Adaptation

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. Movie Review by Rob Barrabee. December 5, 2002:Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman, tells the story of Charlie Kaufman trying to write Adaptation. Kaufman’s original plan, the movie explains, is simply to adapt Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief, which details the life of Florida plant dealer John Laroche. But Mr. Kaufman, we discover, just can’t seem to make a screenplay out of the book (“there’s no story”).
To remedy this, he inserts himself as a character; the starring character, in fact (“I’ve written myself into my screenplay”). So, instead of a movie version of The Orchid Thief, we have a (highly fictionalized) movie version of Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief.

We have Adaptation, the astonishing new comedy from the cleverest screenwriter in the business (he earned this title, by the way, after scripting ‘Being John Malkovich’).

In the sentence of the previous paragraph (not including the parenthetic “by the way”), I inexplicably included the phrase “highly fictionalized.” Allow me, now, to explain:

Adaptation is about a real screenwriter (Charlie Kaufman) trying to adapt a real book (The Orchid Thief); a book written by a real author (Susan Orlean), and telling the story of a real plant dealer (John Laroche). The struggling screenwriter even seeks the assistance of a real screenwriting guru (Robert McKee).

The movie, then, has got to be real, right? Hardly. One of the most important characters in the film is Charlie Kaufman’s wild and crazy twin, Donald. Charlie doesn’t have a twin. “But,” you might say, “the credits list Donald as one of the film’s writers.” Let me repeat, Charlie doesn’t have a twin. And if that’s not enough to convince you of the film’s “highly fictionalized” status, just wait ‘til you see the end.

In the interest of preserving any potential element of surprise, I will not get into details, but I will say this: the ending couldn’t possibly be real.

The film, unreal as it is, is directed by Spike Jonze, who also directed Being John Malkovich (he and Kaufman get along, apparently). In that film, Jonze showed quite a bit of restraint, directing an off-the-wall story in a very on-the-wall manner. This time, he loosens up a bit, and directs Adaptation with zany glee (think, for example, of a thirty second journey through the history of time). The results of this zaniness, for the most part, are tremendous. Excluding the already-alluded-to surreal ending, which I think goes a little too far, Jonze’s Adaptation is as smart and funny as a comedy can be. It is fast-paced, and it is fresh. It is witty, clever filmmaking at its best.

Nicolas Cage stars in the film as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman. Cage’s Charlie (fat, bald) is hysterically introverted and self-loathing. Cage’s Donald (fat, bald, but happy) is hysterically foolish and outgoing. Put the two together, and this is one of the best, and most hysterical, performances of the year.

Sports teams are often complimented for “going from worst to first.” By going from his roles in Windtalkers and Captain Correlli’s Mandolin to this, Nicolas Cage deserves the same kind of recognition.

Kudos go out to the supporting cast too. Meryl Streep gives an excellent comedic turn as Susan Orlean, and Chris Cooper is so good as (the toothless) John Laroche that he finally, after more than thirty movies, is getting people to notice him (Oscar people, if you pay attention to the buzz).

Speaking of Oscars, this sure-shot contender could cause some serious problems for the Academy. Should, for example, Nicolas Cage be nominated for one Oscar or two? Should Donald Kaufman get a screenwriting nomination, even though he doesn’t exist? And, most importantly, should the film’s screenplay be considered original or, well, adapted?

My feelings on these issues are as follows: (1) Nicolas Cage should not be nominated twice, but he should certainly be nominated once. (2) Donald Kaufman should receive no nominations, but his brother most decidedly should. (3) Despite its title, and the assertion in the credits that it is based on Susan Orlean’s book, the screenplay for Adaptation should be considered original, and not, oddly enough, adapted.

Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Charlie (and Donald) Kaufman, based on the book The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean. Starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated R (for language, sexuality, some drug use, and violent images)

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Quo Warranto Quagmire Demands Court Decide Election

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey. December 5, 2002:A WPCNR legal consultant familiar with election law has advised that Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court yesterday granting Larry Delgado quo warranto relief after seven months of research by the Attorney General’s Quo Warranto Review Panel, transfers jurisdiction for deciding who retains or ascends to the Common Council seat now occupied by Glen Hockley to the New York State Supreme Court.

Spitzer Speaks
Photo by WPCNRLegal

WPCNR’s legal consultant said that the paragraph calling for action specifically calls on the court to decide how the disputed council seat shall be ultimately filled.


Photo by WPCNR Legal

Our analyst points out that this paragraph orders the court (demands) to make a decision, which can be the court judge making a declaration that Mr. Hockley or Mr. Delgado is the winner straightaway, or if the court cannot decide based on the evidence available who ultimately won, ordering a new election.

Unchartered Waters

Our source says the case is in unchartered waters at this time, with several matters “up in the air.” Among the matters, is which judge will get the case. It is speculated that it could return to the Judge who first ruled on the historic Delgado-Hockley case: Judge Francis Nicolai, based on his familiarity with the case.

On the other hand, if a new judge were assigned, the case would begin anew, with the decision on whether or not a jury would be convened, up to the defendents, Mr. Hockley and Mr. Delgado. If the two defendents disagreed as to whether a jury trial was desired, the judge or the plaintiff (Attorney General) could make the decision.

A second minor issue to be decided, would be whether or not Mr. Delgado should be considered the defendant or not.

Jury Selection Would Be Interesting

Speculating with our legal correspondent, they allowed that jury selection would be interesting: issues to be considered would be rather or not White Plains residents could or could not be on the jury, racial make up of the jury, political affiliation of the jurors, how familiar they were with the Delgado-Hockley case history, being just a few issues discussed.

Affidavit Validity a Keystone

Our armchair analyst, noting the affidavits filed by Mr. Delgado, 104 in all, which the Quo Warranto Review Panel commented on in their Quo Warranto Report and Recommendation said that Mr. Hockley’s strategy to hang on to his seat would hinge upon creating doubt about the affidavits submitted by Mr. Delgado as being genuine expressions of voter actions on that fated November 6, 2001. However, our analyst said that post-election result affidavits of voter preference have been found to be admissible evidence in similar cases.

The Quo Warranto Report states,

Delgado told the Panel that he obtained the voters’ names from the Board of Elections and solicited their affidavits by sending volunteer notaries (among whom were his wife and his Republican Party running mate, Michael Amodio) door-to-door. Each affidavit states, in pertinent part,

2. I was duly registered and eligible to vote in the November 6, 2001 General Election, in the City of White Plains, County of Westchester, and State of New York. 3. I voted in the November 6, 2001 General Election at the George Washington Elementary School in White Plains, New York, which is the polling place for the 18th Election District in said city. 4. When I cast my votes on November 6, 2001, I included a vote for Larry Delgado for Councilman of the City of White Plains. 5. I cast my vote for Larry Delgado for Councilman on “Row A” of the voting machine, which is the top row of positions to be voted for, running from left to right on the voting machine. The position is circled on the annexed sample ballot that is attached hereto and made a part hereof…

At the Panel’s direction, an investigator employed by the Office of the Attorney General was assigned to determine whether the 104 affiants actually voted in the 18th Election District on November 6, 2001…

According to the voting logs, 103 of the 104 individuals whose affidavits Delgado submitted to the (Quo Warranto) Panel were registered to vote and did, in fact, vote in the 18th Election District on November 6, 2001.

The Panel’s report comes to the conclusion that, It is undisputed that the voting machine in Election District 18 mechanically malfunctioned after 39 votes had been recorded for Delgado in Row 10

Report Declares Delgado the Winner by 17 votes. Affidavits genuine.

The report takes the interesting position that Delgado’s 103 affidavits make him the winner of the Council Seat, and throws out Hockley’s assertions that the affidavits are not reliable. The report reads in part,

According to the recanvass, Glen Hockley received a total of 6,140 votes and Larry Delgado received a total of 6093 votes, a margin of 47 votes in favor of Hockley. We note Hockley’s objections to the reliability of the affidavits Delgado submitted, but find those objections to be unfounded. Therefore we credit the 103 affiants, whom the voting logs show to have voted in the 18th Election District on November 6, 2001, who claimed they voted for Delgado on Row 10 A. Delgado’s vote total is thereby increased by 64 votes, (103 votes minus the 39 votes originally recorded on Row 10 A). That gives Delgado a revised total of 6,157 votes (6093 plus 64), or 17 more votes than Hockley received (6,140).

Report Sites Case Law Gives Court the “right to Examine Voters”

The panel’s report justifies its declaring Mr. Delgado the winner by citing thusly,

In a quo warranto action, however, the court is able to determine the will of the electorate beyond a mere mathematical possibility because it has the right to examine voters, as established in Deister v. Wintermute (1909), including the right to “receive and credit the affidavits of…electors that they cast their vote on the voting machine for a particular candidate.”

The Judge is Da Man

WPCNR’s Brief Analyst noted that the Attorney General is passing the baton to the Judge of the New York State Supreme Court to determine the outcome of the election, and that includes the jurisdiction to declare either Delgado or Hockley the winner outright, or set aside the election and declare a new election.

Here we Go Again?

Looking into their crystal ball, the attorney sighed and told us that “of course, whatever decision the judge makes, it could be appealed,” but added that the case at the appellate or Court of Appeals levels would only be argued on the merit of the decision made, not a full reexamination of the affidavits or other evidences.

Quo Warranto Report is Not Court-gathered, admissable Evidence.

Before our sands of time with the barrister ran out, he noted that the findings of the Quo Warranto Panel were not evidence gathered by the court, and that if the Judge assigned the quo warranto action felt compelled to go to a jury trial or felt it necessary to conduct an examination of the validity of the affidavits he or she might very well do so in the proceedings.

It is expected that a judge will be assigned in the next two weeks and that the action will not begin until after the 1st of the year.

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Amy Paulin’s Albany: Ms. Paulin Thanks Supporters Invites Comment.

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WPCNR AMY PAULIN’S ALBANY. By Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. December 4, 2002:I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for re-electing me to the New York State Assembly.

From the mountain of literature you received during the campaign you know that my priorities are education, high-quality, affordable healthcare, the environment, taxes and personal safety.

Campaigning gave me the opportunity to listen to you and to talk about other issues of great concern including public safety, economic growth, the preservation of green space and the impact of standardized tests in our schools.

These are all valid issues that will require thoughtful, creative solutions. I welcome your calls, comments and suggestions to my district office at 723-1115 and I look forward to taking your concerns to Albany in January.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.

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Attorney General Initiates Quo Warranto Proceeding to Bring Delgado Back

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WPCNR AFTERNOON TRIB & POST. By John F. Bailey. December 3, 2003:Attorneys for former councilman Larry Delgado of White Plains, were notified today that Eliot Spitzer’s Quo Warranto Review panel has found in favor of Mr. Delgado and will file papers today to bring a quo warranto procedure in supreme court in White Plains to restore Mr. Delgado to the Common Council.
Jeffrey Binder, attorney for Mr. Delgado during the councilman’s three tier court fight to secure a remedy for a jammed voting machine, reported the Attorney General’s office decision today.

Mr. Binder said he thought the procedure would be a jury trial, not a bench trial, and the action would be to restore Mr. Delgado to the Common Council.

He said that an attorney from the Attorney General’s Office, Joel Graber, a seasoned and knowledgeable election law attorney would be representing Mr. Delgado’s interest in the quo warranto procedure in which the Attorney General will seek to remove Mr. Hockley from office as a “usurper,” the essence of any quo warranto action. Binder speculated that the action could begin within two to three weeks, almost nine months since the Court of Appeals threw out Judge Francis Nicolai’s decision, and the Appellate Division rulling calling for a new election between Larry Delgado and Glen Hockley.

Binder said the Quo Warranto Review Panel informed him that they “appreciated our (Mr. Delgado’s) patience.”

Mr. Binder said the last quo warranto action in the state was executed in 1990, successfully.

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TDR Hearing Closed Without Comment; Council Study IP; Kills Permit Pkg. Request

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WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. December 2, 2003 UPDATED 12 Noon E.S.T.: The Common Council opened and closed the hearing on the ordinance allowing transfer of development rights (TDR) in the Central Business District 3 and 4 and the Urban Renewal Area, setting a vote on the historic zoning change for January 6.

SUSAN HABEL HOLDS FORTH ON TDR: Commissioner of Planning Susan Habel preached to the choir Monday evening on the Transfer of Development Rights legislation public hearing, comparing it to a transfer of sand between two sandboxes.
Photo by WPCNR TVCam

No one spoke from the public on this matter, and it will be voted upon in January. The legislation, barring a sudden change of heart on the Council, will make it possible for Louis Cappelli, the City Center developer, to erect a hotel and office complex on his recently acquired Main Street parcel extending from Church Street to the Court Street extension.

STUDY INDIAN POINT FIRST: Councilman Robert Greer advised the public “This resolution does not call for an immediate shut down of Indian Point.” He said it calls for a study of issues, including security, operation, the evacuation plan, and storage of fuel rods issues to determine if the plant is a safe risk to remain open. The resolution also calls for a study of how Indian Point electrical demands will be met if it were to be decommissioned.
Photo by WPCNR TVCam

Councilman William King noted that “I want the citizens of White Plains to know how proud you should be of your council and your Mayor posed nontop questions (on their tour of Indian Point). I was really proud of how the council and the Mayor took it (the Indian Point safety issue) very seriously.”

Council KILLS Overnight Street Parking.

The Council passed a homerule resolution, 4-to 3 to prepare a bill asking Albany to allow Permit Parking on the streets in White Plains to alleviate the overnight parking shortage in key areas, most notably, the Old Mamaroneck Road area. Councilpersons Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin, Robert Greer and Bill King supported the draft of such a bill, while Councilpersons Glen Hockley and Tom Roach and the Mayor opposed it.

However, the measure did not pass because a homerule request requires a “super majority” vote of 5 to 2. The result: overnight street parking is a dead issue for now.

Messrs. Hockley and Roach said a highly detailed plan working out the mechanics of how such a permit plan would work, would be a more prudent course than simply asking Albany for permission for permit parking on the streets, and a detailed, thought-out plan, would, they felt have better chance of approval.

The council voted down a proposal for metered parking.

TDR: Nobody Cares.

Commissioner of Planning Susan Habel opened the public hearing on the transfer of development rights in the downtown area, likening the concept to that of two sandboxes.

She said that a child with a sandbox very full wanting to transfer sand to another child’s sandbox which did not have as much sand, could do so, however the child transferring the sand, could not “add any more sand” to their sandbox. She described this scenario as what the Transfer of Development Rights legislation does.

She noted that any developer wishing to transfer development rights had to do a traffic study and an environmental review, demonstrating that their transference was preferable on the site to receive the development. She said the developer had to have a specific project in mind that fit the zoning requirements of the site they wished to transfer development rights.

No Speculation Boom

She said this would not start a stockpiling of properties, or rampant speculation in downtown properties. Because any transfer of development rights would have to be done simultaneously according to a specific plan.

Speculation Window Limited

In response to Councilman Thomas Roach’s concern about a developer saving a site with the hope of transferring its development potential to another site in the future, the Commissioner said she did not expect this, saying that transfer of development rights had to be done simultaneously between two sites. Ms. Habel advised Mr. Roach that the Common Council has a series of controls on such transfers that include compliance with the overall city comprehensive plan, environmental review, the Urban Renewal Plan, and the requirement to provide a Traffic Study.

The Cappelli window is an example

WPCNR notes that Mr. Cappelli purchased development rights over the parking garage he is building, and in the meantime, has acquired the Halpern property on Main Street. He has only a few months left before he has to pay the city another million dollars to maintain his control of those development rights, which he wishes to transfer to his new Main Street property to build a convention center and hotel.

MR. WHITE PLAINS GIVEN KEYS TO CITY: Mayor Delfino gives Robert Ruger the keys to the city and a special plaque honoring Mr. Ruger on his 90th birthday. The Mayor, at the beginning of the Council meeting, said he wanted to “pay homage to Robert Ruger” for his long service to White Plains.
Photo by WPCNR TVCam

Ruger, shown here accepting the plaque, said he wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge “those volunteers who have never gotten the opportunities I’ve had, and wish them all the best and have a very happy holiday.” The Mayor, visibly moved, said, “Always conscious of others. Bob, thank you very much.”

In other action Monday evening, the council approved the White Plains Firefighters new three year contract calling for 3.75, 3.75 and 4.00 pay increases over its three year life…The council authorized a commissioning of a design concept for the new Liberty Park on Silver Lake.

Attendance was poor Monday evening. Less than twenty persons turned out for the meeting.

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King Komments:Bring A Little of the Heartland to White Plains

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WPCNR KING KOMMENTS By White Plains Councilman William King. December 2, 2002:The Councilman went home for Thanksgiving to good old Wheaton, Illinois, and files this report on a Thanksgiving downtown promotion for White Plains.
I was back in the Chicago area over Thanksgiving, where I grew up. Wheaton is like White Plains. Wheaton is the county seat of DuPage County right outside of Chicago and has tall apt. buildings near the train station, single family homes everywhere else, and a downtown that is probably 3-5 years ahead of ours, with all nice stores, home grown plus chains including Starbucks, etc.

Anyway, they have a tradition going now that is very popular – a night-time holiday celebration the day after Thanksgiving. We missed a little parade they have (probably like the one in White Plains that is on a Saturday late morning) but they also have high school kids dressed up in various character costumes standing in front of stores that gets the little kids excited (they had Barney, the Grinch, Cinderalla, Blue from Blue’s Clues, someone dressed up as a large slice of pizza in front of a Pizza restaurant, Darth Vader, etc. … everybody but SpongeBob Square Pants). Cinderella was actually inside a jewelry store, maybe because it was so cold but it also drew people into the store, including us.

Central Park Carriages in White Plains?

They also had horse-drawn carriage rides where they suggested a donation and a free hot chocolate stand (that ran out of hot chocolate). The carriages, which we waited a half hour for, went around a loop maybe 4 blocks in 5 minutes.

It was a relatively inexpensive way to create some local excitement – people came from all around as Wheaton’s event has drawn attention, such that other suburbs are copying them. We should copy Wheaton and then other towns in Westchester will copy us.
Councilman William King

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School District Is Looking for a Few Good Numbers People. It’s Budget Time!

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS GAZETTE. From Michelle Schoenfeld, WP City School District. December 2, 2002:The White Plains Board of Education announced today that it will, for the seventh consecutive year, organize its Annual Budget Committee (ABC), as the District begins the formal process of preparing the 2003-04 school budget.
The ABC is an advisory group which provides input, feedback and suggestions to the District. The Committee is comprised of representatives of more than a dozen various civic and community organizations as well as individuals who have expressed interest
in serving.

Following an orientation session for new members on January 29th, a series of three meetings will be held with the ABC, the administration and Board: February 5th and 12th, and March 5th.

Meetings are held at 7:30 P.M. at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane, and will include an overview of the budget as well as discussions of key issues and recommendations.

Anyone wishing to serve on the ABC may call Michele Schoenfeld, District Clerk, at 422-2071. All of the meetings are open to the public.

Dates to Remember

The budget process will continue with a Public Hearing on the
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget on Monday, March 24th, at 7:30 P.M., and the adoption of a final budget by the Board on Monday, March 31st. Another Public Hearing will take place on Monday, May
12th, and the annual Budget Vote, along with the Election of Board of Education members, will beon Tuesday, May 20th, from noon to 9 P.M.

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White Plains Art Students Showcase in Rye

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. From Michelle Schoenfeld. November 26, 2002: Artwork of five White Plains High School students is being exhibited at the Rye Arts Center through the month of December, along with work from other Westchester high school students.

Students whose work was selected are Alana Fitzgerald, Jennifer Lev, Alison Miller, Jennifer Russell and Jillian Salik. Their teachers are Judith Brindley, Robert Dancik, Mary Fennell and Mark Hauge.

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The Persuasions Look for an Echo This Weekend

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WPCNR WESTCHESTER VARIETY. December 2, 2002: A capella Doo Wop Live will be presented by The Persuasions this weekend in Yonkers at historic St. John’s Church, Getty Square, Yonkers. The vintage doo-woppers will be performing Crhistmas and Gospel Classics at 3 PM Sunday, December 15.
Westchester County is in luck. The Persuasions will be performing a new holiday tradition, featuring Christmas and Gospel classics performed by the legendary a cappella doo wop group on Sunday, December 15, 2002 at 3:00 P.M. Tickets are $20 adults, $18
seniors, $15 children.

Rap evolved in the ‘hood while a cappella found harmony in the stoops
of Brooklyn or the ground floor of the 5-story walk-ups that dotted The Bronx way back when.

It began in 1961 for The Persuasions. The Persuasions released 18 albums through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, until the genre suddenly acquired mainstream popularity as an outgrowth of rap.

The Persuasions were “Chirpin'” (also the name of one of their albums) while struttin’ their vocal dexterity.

Mix Magazine wrote that, “The Persuasions are four parts of one voice, one spirit.” Cash Box proclaimed, These all-vocal,
instrument-free heroes paved the way for today’s platinum a capella acts, Take 6 and Bobby McFerrin, as well as the retro-hip-hop styles of Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd.”

Or, as Tom Waits once said, “These guys are deep sea divers. I’m just a fisherman in a boat.”

Their film documentary, Spread the Word: The Persuasions Sing A Capella drew nothing but praise from coast to coast. The film airs periodically on PBS. The Fred Parnes documentary is a funny, moving,
and invigorating look at a vocal group that is one of America’s national treasures¦ Actually, I can think of one greater remedy for despondency; if The Persuasions happen to be playing around town, go see them. No film could possibly capture the sheer joy and
energy of the group live.”

Ticket purchase may be accomplished by sending e-mail to PPAC or by telephone at 914.964.8977. The performance will be held across the street from the newly restored PPAC (Philipsburgh Performing Arts Center) at historic St. John’s Church, located at One Hudson Street, in
the heart of Getty Square, in Yonkers, NY.

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Hockey Night: New York Raptors Host East Coast Special Hockey Clubs

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WPCNR PRESS BOX. November 30,2003: At Hommocks Rink in Larchmont, the New York Raptors played host to the Albany Cougars, New York Raptors, New Jersey Daredevils, Rochester Ice Cats and Washington Ice Dogs in a roundrobin Holiday Tournament Saturday night. Don Kerr and the Mamaroneck Youth Hockey Association donated the icetime so these 88 special players could compete against each other.

RAPTORS RAPPING ON THE DAREDEVILS-COUGARS DOOR: Hockey action shows Rich Egan trying to jam the puck in from point blank range in the 5-5 nightcap of the hockey doubleheader. Some two-hundred parents and family from three states enjoyed a buffet supper as the ice action in the “Heart League” unfolded.
Photo by WPCNR Sports

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