Full Swing: Adult sports leagues soothe the soul and harden the body
Apr01

Full Swing: Adult sports leagues soothe the soul and harden the body

His players say Winston Lee’s life revolved around baseball and softball. When he died in 2011, the players in his Spanish American Softball League were devastated. Hundreds of the inner-city players not only missed the man, but the community he’d built around him. For the 2014 season, Richard Pedraza, 41, of Springfield, decided to bring the community back together. And then some. He started the Pioneer Valley Softball League to...

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Lady Lamb’s “After” has cinematic roots

Lady Lamb After(Mom + Pop)Release date: 3/3/15It’s part of pop culture lore that Quentin Tarantino got his start working in a video store. Turns out, that watching innumerable films and critiquing customer choices was all the training he needed to become a famous director. You can see the results in his movies too. Each finished product is a cinematic vista with scope, detail, and enough humor to sometimes distract from all the...

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Cinemadope: Sweet and Hot, Three stories of Asian flavors
Mar24

Cinemadope: Sweet and Hot, Three stories of Asian flavors

Everyone with a go-to Chinese take-out joint is sure of one thing: theirs is the best. It’s a partisan game on a par with Left vs. Right or The Beatles vs. The Stones — I once witnessed, on a Brooklyn street corner, a heated argument about the neighborhood’s best place, something otherwise reserved for the almighty pizza. Once they’ve made their choice most people will never stray, and for many a big part of the initial taste test...

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Nightcrawler: Fire Power, Bash benefits Christmas Eve fire victims; Amy Fairchild joins members of Extreme, The Allmans, Megadeth and more for Boston charity
Mar24

Nightcrawler: Fire Power, Bash benefits Christmas Eve fire victims; Amy Fairchild joins members of Extreme, The Allmans, Megadeth and more for Boston charity

She’s seen fire. She’s seen (freezing) rain. But Kristy Librera Chapman remains undaunted in her quest to aid her family and her community. A cousin to one of the families affected by a tragic Christmas Eve fire in Southwick, Chapman says that she knew she needed to do something about it. “Since I had been involved in previous benefits, a concert seemed to make the most sense,” she explains. “And I since I was a former member of The...

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Wonder Kids

  One thing that I found especially shocking when I became a first-time mama to a boy was the assumption that boys are genetically programmed to like trucks and balls and big creatures like dinosaurs.Some boys adore all of the above. Some don’t.The fact that my hip, politically progressive friends were in agreement with gender stereotypes surprised me, to say the least and disappointed me, to say this politely.I was nothing short...

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On Hurricane Island

Ellen Meeropol dreamt up a horror. She took a charged anniversary, September 11th, a remote island in Maine, and an assortment of characters whose agendas are at odds (at the most polite best), but she doesn’t go for “at best” in her second novel, On Hurricane Island, just published this week by Red Hen Press. The place where politics and people meet intrigues Meeropol. The place where secrets find daylight also intrigues her—and her...

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The Public Humanist has a new home

Cutting to the chase: The Public Humanist’s current and archived posts can now be found here:http://masshumanities.org/the-public-humanist/And now to back up a little. Many of you will have gleaned that The Public Humanist is the one blog on the Valley Advocate site that is sponsored by another Northampton organization: Mass Humanities. Since May 2007 the Advocate has hosted our blog written by multiple contributors, most of them MA...

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Iron and Wine Opens the Vaults for “Archive Series Volume No. 1”

Iron & WineArchive Series Volume No. 1(Black Cricket Recording Co.)Release date: 2/24/15Dubbed as “the first in a series of releases pulled from tapes found in the back corners of closets and dusty shoe boxes – long neglected, but never forgotten,” the newest release from indie folk artist Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam) is an engaging look at the early output of a musician who has never had a problem displaying intimacy.Like many...

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“Nice Work” is O.K.!
Feb05

“Nice Work” is O.K.!

They just don’t make musicals like they used to. Except when they do. Nice Work If You Can Get It, playing at the Bushnell in Hartford through February 8th, is a 1920s musical that premiered on Broadway in 2012. It was whipped up by Joe DiPietro from the skeleton of a 1920s musical with bits and pieces of other 1920s musicals, recycled and repurposed – a new, found-object piece of art.The basis of DiPietro’s script is Oh, Kay!, a 1926...

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Talk Dirt: Mattress-dumping Knuckleheads
Jan28

Talk Dirt: Mattress-dumping Knuckleheads

Most of us in this country generate a lot of trash. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about it, but it turns out that doesn’t actually decrease my trash production. With a tiny amount of effort I can recycle all the paper and plenty of the glass and plastic. Even my non-recyclable, non-compostable trash only costs a tiny tipping fee. The fee is vanishingly low when you consider that the garbage is going to stack up somewhere...

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Band Under the Stairs – The Ambiguities Return with Basement Suite

In 1976, the Ramones charged out of New York City proclaiming, “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement.”“There’s something down there,” sang lead singer Joey, with a delivery that illustrated his reluctance and dread.Now almost 40 years later, Greenfield band The Ambiguities, founded by local artist and musician Daniel Hales, is asking listeners to bottle up their fears and follow as the group opens up some cellar doors and...

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Talk Dirt: What’s Creeping in  Your Compost
Jan21

Talk Dirt: What’s Creeping in Your Compost

I, like most everyone who can read this, am a proud endotherm. I do a pretty good job of maintaining a constant internal temperature. It’s something I’m pretty good at, so why shouldn’t I be proud? All birds and mammals are endotherms. There are even some large fish that maintain their temperatures, most notably swordfish and the dreaded white sharks. I guess they can be proud, too. Endotherms must expend energy to maintain internal...

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Making Middens

Most of us in this country generate a lot of trash. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about it, but it turns out that doesn’t actually decrease my trash production. There’s very little incentive for cutting down other than ideology.  With a tiny amount of effort I can recycle all the paper and plenty of the glass and plastic. Even my non-recyclable, non-compostable trash only costs a tiny tipping fee.  The fee is vanishingly low...

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Poking at Bird Poop
Jan15

Poking at Bird Poop

We’re in the midst of the good New England weather that keeps the weak away. It looks desolate and lifeless out there, but it most surely isn’t. With temperatures staying below freezing the little snow we have is sticking around and treating us to the signs of the animals that we live with all year. My avian livestock have no interest in this sort of weather. They are, in their fowl little hearts (sorry) Republicans and would rather...

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Staghorn Sumac in the Snow

We’re in the midst of the good New England weather that keeps the weak away. It looks desolate and lifeless out there, but it most surely isn’t. With temperatures staying below freezing the little snow we have is sticking around and treating us to the signs of the animals that we live with all year.My avian livestock have no interest in this sort of weather. They are, in their fowl little hearts (sorry) Republicans and would rather be...

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Four More Years! Four More Years!

Four years – the space between Olympic Games, the duration of the average college career, or the amount of time some bands take to record and release a new album. If you, dear reader, told me four years ago that I would still be writing this blog in 2015, I would’ve labeled you a nutter. No way could I come up with four year’s worth of material. I’m not that inspired, and maybe that’s true, we could argue that point over a drink...

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One Word

The stirrings of January and it’s apparently the year of the non-resolution, by which I mean people seem to be in exploration of the notion that we are enough as we are or less and more are ways to beat up on ourselves (read more about this on Abigail Rose Clarke’s fantastic Wild Yes newsletter). The notion is acceptance, I guess.I’m mulling that.I’m mulling one word (idea via my writer friend Powell Berger) in...

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Like a Lycopod
Jan07

Like a Lycopod

This winter we haven’t gotten enough snow. “Enough” is what allows for cross-country skiing. Even in New Hampshire, where I spent part of the holidays, the snow cover was patchy or absent. We passed a wet hour tubing at a ski resort. The wet snow and underinflated tubes, which we paid some embarrassing amount for, made for slow sliding. As disappointing as the snow experience was, it made hiking easier. The lack of snow meant that the...

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Ending a Year

Contemplative in front of the Parthenon in Nashville or just wondering why Nashville built one.Although I’ve begun to think—fleetingly, in momentary snatches of ideas akin to sketches not the whole picture—about New Year’s Resolutions, something I admit to taking seriously, I haven’t really taken the time to have a big think on it. Instead, the snatches come as they come (I am struggling to see tiny...

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Parking Garage

Drove home from the Y, last night, get out of car in parking garage and a woman with few teeth comes over and apologizing, "i'm not bad," she says. i look at her, i lock the car, i say hello, she says "i'm not bad," and she takes her hat off. Her hair is grey, like snakes coming of the grey cap, the hat with the pills all over it. "My hair," she says giggling. "i don't want to scare...

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100-Mile Diet Day 30

RehabOk, i've fallen off the wagon a bit. First it was beautiful in the land of the 100-mile diet. I lost weight, I felt euphoric, the farmers were my people, I was pulling it off and had bragging rights. But after coming up with exceptions to the rule out of duty to family, research in the plight of learning about pizza, going out of town and hanging around with the wrong sort of people, everything went out the window. Now i have...

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100-Mile Diet Day 33: Get Me Sylvia

Had to go back to Table & Vine since local blueberry wine doesn't go with anything.Tried to score some Sylvia but every time I asked somebody about it they just lookedat me strangely. Even up in BRATTLEBORO where everyone is strange, no dice on the Sylvia.So tonight, soup of tomatoes I canned personally in September, potatoes I bought here inSouthampton from Bashista, onions, from Hatfield, herbs from my littleplant, dying on the...

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George Finally Gets It

This turkey is no Monica Lewinsky and its a bit late in the fame for a saucy scandle but W does what he can….

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Locavore Thanksgiving a bust.

Thanksgiving with family was a cluster, couldn't eat a thing, so mad i couldn't even get drunk. Now that's mad. Wish i was on the farm, having some fresh goat cheese and a nice fire with grass fed weenies on sticks. What's a locavore to do?

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Burger King Seeks Recruits

This video called Whopper Virgins illustrates a desparate world wide search for people how have not experienced hamburgers. I don't know about you but it makes me hungry…..http://www.whoppervirgins.com/

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How to Pray for Peace

From How to Cook a Wolf, by MFK Fisher, a food writer from back in the day, comes a poem called How to Pray For Peace.Pray for peace and grace and spiritual foodFor wisdom and guidance, for all these are goodBut don't forget the potatoes….Prayer and Potatoes, J.T. PetteeFisher says that in times of war, potatoes are the last thing, the last vegetation left standing. In western MA, spuds are so good this time of year, so...

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Ponzi Potatoes

Ingredients: A bushel of potatoes. Instruction:Slice and quarter but do not peel to retain nutrients. Like most living things, potatoes begin dying when they lose their skin. Boil potatoes in milk and butter. Add sprigs of thyme before serving. This, believe it or not, is delicious, especially in large quantities when there is nothing else to eat.Serving Suggestion:Plan a party and invite guests to come at a fee of $1 each. The first...

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Let them eat caviar – the cheap kind!

RECIPE: Pomme de Caroline.1. Call your press advisor to get advice about the wisdom of releasing a New Year's recipe and whether or not alcohol should be referenced. Call some the head of the Hyannisport Chef's Association to see if he/she has a nice recipe for potato pancakes/blintzes with caviar/smoked bluefish. 2. Call a food writer, say, Ruth Reichel, to come up with a generic, yet healthy, local and ethnic potato recipe...

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“Who ever decided to eat this?”

A guy talking on a microphone in a store on State Street picked up the gnarled vegetable and said to shoppers, "Where did they look at this thing and decide….'Ok, let's eat this!'" The guy was doing a remote in the produce section of Serio's, a food store in Northampton that stocks lots of local food. "France" might be the answer. The French have a famous recipe for celeriac, a root vegetable...

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Karl's Korn Chowder

Interview with Chef Karl Braverman of Sienna in South DeerfieldVL: So Karl, what’s new in fine dining?Chef: Everything. We’re gourmet food at Wolfie’s prices now, whole new scene. Come for lunch starting in January, or around then. We want people to come to the new Sienna. Sienna food at Appleby’s prices. VL: But your duck is over $20. Chef: But the Caesar Salad, same price as us but look at their romaine, look...

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Wanted: Dude with a back 40

This is not an image of me but it could be me. Other bloggers write about the news. Here's something about the news today. Two columns in the grey lady's "most e-mailed columns" refer to an upcoming depression, the likes of which could render us helpless, jobless and starving by the side of the road. All that I can say is 'how lucky are we?' with our western Mass kick ass foodshed and the being...

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Free Harvest Supper Recipe

Maggie’s Farm Chefs’ Maggie Zaccara and Evelyn Whitbeck-Poorbaugh of the Hope & Olive Restaurant in Greenfield created the menu for the Free Harvest Supper. This recipe for Turkey and Peach Salad included turkey donated by Diemand Farm in Wendell and peaches from Clarkdale Fruit Farms of Deerfield.TURKEY & PEACH SALAD (Serves 6)2 lbs cooked and diced or pulled turkey meat1 lb peeled and diced peaches3- stalks of diced...

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Is this your ride?

If so, meet me at the new burger place on main st. in noho next friday nite. i'll be wearing a white parka and black muck boots. The tractor is for farming corn. Last week I discovered that the corn that I froze last summer is now a big pile of starch because I didn't catch it in time. You see when you freeze corn, you have to do it RIGHT AWAY, as soon as you buy it. You have to take it home, fresh as possible, peel it, and...

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Jesus a Locavore?

It's subtle but if you look really hard at the 16 billion pixels that represent a recent restoration of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," (1498) a plate of grilled eels and an orange slice (the parsley garnish of the 1494). According to MHC Art Professor John Varriano, this dish is a Renaissance painter's version of what Jesus and his disciples may have dined on at the last supper. It is more likely, he says in...

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