The V-Spot: My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t
Apr24

The V-Spot: My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t

Writer’s note: This column mentions depression and suicidality. When me and my BF first got together about a year and a half ago, we were having the best sex of our lives! Then I decided with the help of my therapist that I needed to be medicated due to suicidal thoughts and anxiety/depression. The medication helped a lot with my mental illness, but unfortunately it made my sex drive plummet. I was still able and happy to get my man...

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Basemental: Bella’s Wild Rose Tracks Reviewed
Apr24

Basemental: Bella’s Wild Rose Tracks Reviewed

Editor’s note: Bella Ortia-Wren uses they/their pronouns.Bella Ortia-Wren, who goes by just “Bella” on stage, plays a blue Fender Mustang, a small-bodied guitar with single coil pickups, that sounds shimmery and crisp through a few hot-tempered distortion boxes. Decadent chords cut through creating a wild, untamed haze which is the foundation for Wild Rose Tracks, their new album to be released on Bandcamp later this...

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Stagestruck: Life in the (413) resurrects the radio drama
Apr24

Stagestruck: Life in the (413) resurrects the radio drama

Back in the day — way, way back — live radio drama was a staple of the airwaves. As script-toting actors gathered around microphones, their dialogue was peppered with live sound effects, backed by a live band and punctuated with live commercial breaks, often with a live studio audience looking on.Lately, New Century Theatre, in partnership with radio station WHMP, has joined in the genre’s recent rebirth as a staged theatrical event....

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Cinemadope: This Is Spinal Tap deadpans for gold
Apr24

Cinemadope: This Is Spinal Tap deadpans for gold

While the idea of a “mockumentary” now seems almost old-hat, in 1984 director Rob Reiner gave birth to the zany medium.His ridiculously entertaining satire about life on the road with aging, British metal band Spinal Tap during their American comeback tour was mostly improvpotised, with stars Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer leading the charge. At the time, it was almost puzzling in the strength of its deadpan.Not...

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Stream Queen: Blazing flicks to watch while high
Apr18

Stream Queen: Blazing flicks to watch while high

It’s 4/20, and whether you consider today a national holiday or just a chance to gather some friends and smoke, you’ll probably end up watching something. Thankfully, now that it’s no longer the ’70s, stoners can open Netflix or YouTube and watch something unique and outlandish, instead of just staring at a psychedelic Grateful Dead poster.Some high wisdom is obvious. For instance, if you’ve eaten an edible and you’re wondering...

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V-Spot: Am I Queer or a Fraud?
Apr18

V-Spot: Am I Queer or a Fraud?

Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about my sexuality. Recently, I came across the term “heteroflexible” and immediately, I felt like I identified with it more than any other sexual orientation I previously knew about.However, I continue to feel invalidated by my lack of sexual experience with people who are the same gender. I know sexuality isn’t defined by our experiences but by what we think and how we feel. But I can’t help...

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Cinemadope: TED talks live on the Cinemark screen
Apr18

Cinemadope: TED talks live on the Cinemark screen

TED talks — the bite-sized presentations given at the organization’s annual Technology, Education, and Design conference — have become an oddly popular cultural phenomenon. At once elitist and public-spirited (a standard conference membership will run you 10 grand, yet thousands of the famous talks are available for free on TED.com), it has become a sort of intellectual snack food, shared on social media with attention-grabbing titles...

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Valley Show Girl: Gimme, Gimme Noise Pollution, experimental night at The Root Cellar in Greenfield
Apr17

Valley Show Girl: Gimme, Gimme Noise Pollution, experimental night at The Root Cellar in Greenfield

After a full day of sitting inside a dankly weed-scented office — we did a photo shoot of some nuggets for this 4/20 issue — my first thought walking into The Root Cellar in Greenfield for an experimental show is “damn this place smells good” … and familiar. I’m fashionably late and, regrettably, miss the first set by Fully Glazed (Richie Records, Members of Watery Love). After ordering a well-deserved beer, I sit at the wooden...

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The Pour Man: La Manarine is French red wine done right
Apr17

The Pour Man: La Manarine is French red wine done right

In the world of wine, Domaine La Manarine is a relatively minor player — about 89 acres of vines, 60,000 bottles of wine a year — and that’s a good thing.Good, because the wines made there by owner Gilles Gasq are well-crafted and a great value, and they reflect the character and attention to detail of other small, family-owned producers in the Rhone region whose wines sell for a lot more.Gasq purchased the vineyard, located in the...

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Basemental: From Northampton to Nashville
Apr10

Basemental: From Northampton to Nashville

On the road with The Sun ParadeFrom the streets of Nashville I called Lynne Bertrand, who manages the Northampton band The Sun Parade. There was a problem.I had stopped by the venue earlier and noticed the sign outside said they were going first. This wasn’t going to fly, because the people the band had driven from Northampton to play for — an A&R rep and the president of New West, a Nashville based record label who is interested in...

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Pee or ‘squirt’? Understanding female ejaculation
Apr10

Pee or ‘squirt’? Understanding female ejaculation

I started masturbating when I was in high school and there would be times where something would feel good, but then I would feel my muscles relax and suddenly my bed would be wet with pee — sometimes a lot of pee. It was like in certain positions I had no control over keeping pee in my body. Sometimes it even happened if I peed before I masturbated! Then it happened in partner sex. I was having sex with someone with a penis, I was on...

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Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop
Apr10

Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop

Two worthwhile breweries off exit 9The naturalist John Muir once observed that “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I’m no bearded environmental philosopher, but I do like to kick back with a pint sometimes and dwell on our interconnectedness.In the realm of craft beer, brewers and buyers often muse on the national and international history of the craft — but that must square, for...

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Stagestruck: The Trump Effect
Apr10

Stagestruck: The Trump Effect

It seems that lately, every time I go to a play — or a movie, for that matter — it gets me thinking about Donald Trump. Ever since he and his goon squad have taken over in Washington, I’ve noticed that so much of what we see and create seems newly topical and timely. Everything is now filtered through a horrifying new prism, taking on fresh meaning and urgency, whether it was explicitly created in reaction to the current state of...

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Cinemadope: Hopptornet, a documentary that pushes people to jump
Apr10

Cinemadope: Hopptornet, a documentary that pushes people to jump

Maine CourseLike so many of my middle-aged compatriots, I seem to have adopted food as a new hobby. Not cooking, necessarily — quite a bit of this particular enterprise is taken up simply by watching other people cook, it turns out — but eating, at least. And what I’ve come to realize about myself is that I’m addicted to those smallest of plates, the hors d’oeuvre. My dear mother-in-law may work for half a day assembling a...

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Down to Earth: Trump’s cuts to science are a knife to my heart
Apr10

Down to Earth: Trump’s cuts to science are a knife to my heart

We tell stories to know who we are. Speaking our own stories, we rediscover ourselves. And by hearing and identifying with one another’s journeys, we discover and reach each other, too.My world — my story — is one of science.I birdwatch. I teach students how to write about science. As a graduate student, I studied geology — the science of the vast, beautiful, complicated earth — then applied it as an environmental consultant helping...

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Stagestruck: Stage on Screen
Apr06

Stagestruck: Stage on Screen

Movies are not my beat, but I often go to the theater at the Amherst Cinema. The ongoing National Theatre Live series of big-screen, high-def broadcasts from the London stage is a staple of my playgoing schedule. This month and next, the cinema screens encores of five shows in the spring season. I’ve seen two of them in previous screenings, and I’m eagerly awaiting the others.And this Saturday the cinema hosts a one-time,...

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Stream Queen: From Low-Budget Dreams to Indie Esteem
Apr03

Stream Queen: From Low-Budget Dreams to Indie Esteem

In our world of studio filmmaking driven by franchises and sequels, creators looking to develop original ideas are often restricted to independent production. While indie filmmaking means working on a shoestring budget, it also often means the cast and crew are creating a passion project, working to make something cinephiles have never seen before. Despite what Netflix tells you, “indie” is less a genre and more a means of film...

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Valley Show Girl: Thao Nguyen Goes Solo at Gateway City Arts
Apr03

Valley Show Girl: Thao Nguyen Goes Solo at Gateway City Arts

A Woman AliveAs I walked into Gateway City Arts in Holyoke for the first time, I came to a dead stop to admire the factory-style architecture. The ceilings are very high, with a huge industrial ceiling fan staring down. The large stage was lit up awaiting performers, with just a few dozen people starting to gather in the metal folding chairs.I made my way to the bar at the back of the venue to check out the list of appetizer specials...

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Cinemadope: Banned in the U.S., Documentary about Massachusetts prison for criminally insane turns 50
Apr03

Cinemadope: Banned in the U.S., Documentary about Massachusetts prison for criminally insane turns 50

One of my favorite discoveries from the last year was Documentary Now!, a wonderfully endearing mix of parody and love letter to the modern documentary genre. Originally created for the IFC channel — I first ran across it on Netflix, where you can still check out the first season — the series, created by Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers tackles a different well-known documentary each episode,...

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The V-Spot: When Did I Get on the Relationship Escalator?
Apr03

The V-Spot: When Did I Get on the Relationship Escalator?

I have a few questions about monogamy. I guess, part of it stemming from a recent post I saw on your Instagram — @the_vspot — about “The Relationship Escalator,” polyamory, and monogamy. In my last partnership, my partner and I were very intentional about not falling into that trajectory, but now I think that The Relationship Escalator is something that I want.Can The Relationship Escalator coexist alongside actively constructing your...

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The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine
Apr03

The Pour Man: Transitional Weather Needs a Transitional Wine

Les Hauts de Lagarde, Rouge Bordeaux, France; 2015. $12.99This is a period of transition on many fronts.    There still may be snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens, but the warm spring sun is a clear signal that it’s time to start trimming down, putting away rich food, and switching from heavy, higher-alcohol red wines to something lighter and brighter. Oh, there are still days left to finish off those thick Cabs, Shirazes...

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Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984
Mar27

Cinemadope: Your Nearest Screening of 1984

Hurt FeelingsA few weeks back I found myself with a rare night off — the kids asleep early, the house somehow clean, the bills already paid. I was scrolling through my various Netflix queues when a familiar title popped up: V for Vendetta, the Wachowskis’ 2005 adaptation of Alan Moore’s (Watchmen) famous graphic novel. Something in our current climate had me in the mood to revisit this tale of a neo-fascist regime, holding on to power...

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Stagestruck: Force of Nature
Mar27

Stagestruck: Force of Nature

WAM Theatre exists on two levels: to produce work that foregrounds women playwrights and performers, and to tangibly support, with a portion of ticket sales, organizations that work to better the lives of women and girls. Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight brings its own bifurcated story to that mission. First performed here in 2013, WAM is reviving it this weekend and next in a guest appearance at Shakespeare &...

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Nightcrawler: Panic Room
Mar28

Nightcrawler: Panic Room

Panic! at the Disco ushering in new era of arena rockers; Dio-alum laden Last In Line headline ‘Hump Day’ show in HolyokeIt’s a frequent exchange between those who once swung Bics to-and-fro during power ballads and teased their hair so high they could barely fit through regulation doorframes.“Who’s going to carry the.. (cough, cough)…sorry man, you never get used to that ethereal mix of dried ice...

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Basemental: Umbral Made Real
Mar27

Basemental: Umbral Made Real

How a fictional psychdrone collective from Berlin took form in GreenfieldIn 2015, a real writer and real College of the Atlantic professor named Daniel Mahoney published a real book called Sunblind Almost Motorcrash. In it, he wrote fictional reviews of imaginary bands. The purpose of the project, he said, was to “investigate the distance between sound and how we use language to describe sound,” which is the crux of this racket we...

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O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro
Mar27

O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro

Now that marijuana is legal, the perception of the drug is changing. We’re on the road of cannabis no longer being thought of as some seedy contraband in a sandwich bag tossed through a car window to potheads, but a varied, quality — and dare I say, refined — hobby.With the ability to purchase and grow identified strains with known THC and other compound levels, weed smokers can zero-in on the buds they like and sample the best of...

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The V-Spot: Our Sex Is All About Him
Mar27

The V-Spot: Our Sex Is All About Him

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when...

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Stan and Ollie, Meet Punch and Judy — Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, with a touch of slapstick
Mar21

Stan and Ollie, Meet Punch and Judy — Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, with a touch of slapstick

The story goes that Samuel Beckett was walking through a London park with a friend on a glorious spring morning when his companion exclaimed, “Isn’t this just the kind of day that makes you glad to be alive?” To which Beckett replied, “Oh, I don’t think I’d go that far.”For me, that moment of self-satire goes a long way toward explaining the connection between Beckett’s famously gloomy view of the human condition and his...

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VIDEO Valley Show Girl: Experiencing an Album Live; Disguise the Curse’s Release Party
Mar20

VIDEO Valley Show Girl: Experiencing an Album Live; Disguise the Curse’s Release Party

A couple weeks ago I picked up Echoes of the Dying Light by local metal titans, Disguise the Curse. “Holy shit, this is amazing,” I said to myself while drumming on my steering wheel with the music blasting through my car speakers. Produced by Chris Daniele at Yucky Studios, the quality of the album is superb with not one track worth skipping. The album is still in my car stereo on repeat.The opening track “Caverns” sets the tone for...

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Stream Queen: Women’s Work, rediscovering female directors
Mar20

Stream Queen: Women’s Work, rediscovering female directors

Whether or not Western Mass has gotten the meteorological memo, we’ve officially sprung forward. That means it’s time to emerge from hibernation, put on our rubber gloves, and get ready for some spring cleaning. In my case, I’ve decided to dust off some groundbreaking works by female directors, in honor of Women’s History Month.The cinematic history of female directors is woefully short, and very much still in progress. It took the...

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Third Eye Roaming: Yoga for cancer survivors: Calming the battle within
Mar20

Third Eye Roaming: Yoga for cancer survivors: Calming the battle within

Mary Kennedy of Northfield says she could barely move her neck before she began taking yoga with Pam Roberts at the YMCA in Greenfield about six years ago.Kennedy, a breast cancer survivor living with torticollis, a painfully twisted neck, says yoga has at times saved her, making her “stronger and stronger. Now, I can actually move my head to the right again. I have a quality of life I didn’t have before yoga.”Cancer is among the most...

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The V-Spot: When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?
Mar20

The V-Spot: When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?

I recently saw a guy friend masturbating with lotion instead of lube and was wondering if lube would be a better alternative for him. If so, could you explain why? — A Little Help for My  Masturbating Friends One of my favorite conversations to strike up with my penis-equipped friends is: What ever did you do with your penis during your sexual exploration period? If I had had a penis during my teenaged sexual development ages, I’m...

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Cinemadope: In a Pickle
Mar20

Cinemadope: In a Pickle

The annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival returnsNow in its twelfth year, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (PVJFF) has long been a wonderful part of the Valley’s plentiful film offerings. Carefully curated, the festival screens films big and small, providing local filmgoers with a thought-provoking slate of work that is engaging, entertaining, and often unexpected. Beyond giving viewers a nice show, the festival organizers...

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Stagestruck: Shenanigans and the Sexual Revolution
Mar12

Stagestruck: Shenanigans and the Sexual Revolution

On the first page of Fiona Kyle’s dramaturgical notes for Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9, at Hartford Stage through March 19, is a photo of Margaret Thatcher. The next page features the less- recognizable face of Cecil Rhodes. He was the epitome of 19th-century British imperialism – ruthless exploiter of southern Africa’s diamond fields (and her labor force), prime minister of Cape Colony, champion of Victorian institutions and culture.His...

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Stagestruck: Facing the Other — a local premiere examines the roots of violence
Mar13

Stagestruck: Facing the Other — a local premiere examines the roots of violence

Talk about prejudice… Without knowing anything about the play, I walked into a rehearsal of Sweet, Sweet Spirit last week and made some snap judgments that turned out to be quite wrong.The play, which receives its regional premiere next weekend at the Academy of Music, takes place in a West Texas town. As soon as I heard the (white) actors’ drawls, coupled with a few references to scripture, I “naturally” concluded that they were...

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