Stagestruck: Culture Clashes on the Border and on the Island
Sep20

Stagestruck: Culture Clashes on the Border and on the Island

Two plays in the Valley this weekend couldn’t be more different but at the same time so close to the bone of our current national  crisis of xenophobia and identity. Building the Wall, in Northampton, is a tense confrontation that touches on today’s headlines and then reaches beyond them. La Gringa, in Holyoke, is an unabashed comedy about a Puerto Rican woman caught between two homelands. Building the Wall (the very title sends...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: Millpond.live Hosts Music Under the Stars
Sep18

Valley Show Girl: Millpond.live Hosts Music Under the Stars

For the last six weekends of summer, Millpond.Live puts on a free grassroots festival at Millside Park in Easthampton for all ages to enjoy. Produced by Laudable Productions, a creative agency in Easthampton that has a plethora of services including community engagement to concert production. The concert is powered by volunteers in the community and sponsored and supported by local businesses, including us at the Valley Advocate....

Read More
The V-Spot: Is My Romance Dead?
Sep18

The V-Spot: Is My Romance Dead?

I know your column is mainly about sex, but for me, it’s all about the romance. I’ve been struggling for decades to balance my love of flowers, dancing, and candlelight with my love of a husband who struggles with intimacy (for good reasons) and who promises me these things after an increasingly strongly worded hint from me that it is the little things that matter. But he never follows it through. The passion, friendship …...

Read More
Stagestruck: Summer Theater Wrap Party, in Living Color
Sep18

Stagestruck: Summer Theater Wrap Party, in Living Color

The area’s summer theaters have folded their metaphorical tents for the year, though three of the Berkshire companies are also mounting fall shows. For this critic, it was a Sergio Leone season: good, bad, and occasionally ugly. (An example of the extremes — Silverthorne Theater Company’s Chekhov mashup Stupid Fucking Bird, which played metatheatrically with The Seagull, and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow...

Read More
Cinemadope: Missing the Warm and Fuzzies?
Sep18

Cinemadope: Missing the Warm and Fuzzies?

At the Headfort School in Kells, Ireland, two of the school’s most popular teachers are getting ready to retire. The husband and wife team have been educating and inspiring children for almost half a century, and their example — and what the possibility of their retirement might mean for the country’s only primary-age boarding school — is at the heart of Neasa Ni Chianain and David Rane’s documentary School Life. It screens this...

Read More
Monte Belmonte Wines: Don’t Blame the Cat
Sep18

Monte Belmonte Wines: Don’t Blame the Cat

Bordeaux: It’s the wine capital of the world. Even Thomas Jefferson, while keeping busy hypocritically impeding people’s lives and liberties, pursued wine happiness there. When most people think of Bordeaux, they think, “Dude, how the hell am I supposed to pronounce THAT wicked weird word?” But if you have heard of Bordeaux, you probably think red wines — the best France, and maybe the world, has to offer. What people often overlook...

Read More
Basemental: The Ups and Downs of Touring
Sep11

Basemental: The Ups and Downs of Touring

I used to think touring was excessive, stupid, and generally felt existentially conflicted about it. Why should I leave the house and use fossil fuels to do anything that’s trivial? Why should we impose our music on these seemingly nice people when there’s so much better music out there to listen to? Why should we take up space — any space — when there’s more people far more deserving? Should we be investing in our community instead?...

Read More
Hidden Figures in the Silent Sky
Sep12

Hidden Figures in the Silent Sky

When Robert Freedman tells people about Silent Sky, the play he directs this weekend at the Shea Theater, they often think he’s talking about Hidden Figures, the recent movie about black women mathematicians who worked as “computers” for NASA in the 1960s. But, he explains, “While that movie told an incredible story about brilliant women facing sexism and racism to pursue their highest God-given talents,” this play looks back a...

Read More
The Beerhunter: The Imperial Strikes Back
Sep11

The Beerhunter: The Imperial Strikes Back

Earlier this year, I reached into a friend’s beer fridge to grab something light and refreshing before heading outdoors for a hike (as far as I understand the rules, writing this column gives me free access to everyone’s beer). That afternoon’s chatter distracted me, however, because I made it two or three swings into my bottle before I felt what was hitting me. I glanced down to find I was sampling a beer called Olde School by...

Read More
Stream Queen: All Breasts Are the Best
Sep11

Stream Queen: All Breasts Are the Best

Some documentaries exist to tackle big-picture issues, while others hone in on life’s finer details. The Breast Archives, by local director Meagan Murphy, attempts both tasks at once, as the film delves into the world of feminist body politics vis-a-vis the breasts. The Breast Archives is truly a unique documentary, making it worth seeing for its message alone. Though this film has some growing to do before it really rends the fabric...

Read More
Cinemadope: Musical Bandits Plan Their Escape Tour
Sep11

Cinemadope: Musical Bandits Plan Their Escape Tour

When September hits, the kids head back to school — and for film fans, that can be a great thing. One of the many film events that are hosted on area campuses is The German Film Series, presented by the Amherst College department of German on irregular Thursdays in the school’s Stirn Auditorium. The series, which brings in a half dozen or so subtitled films each spring and fall season, is starting up again this week, and will screen...

Read More
Down to Earth: The Science Is Clear on Climate Change
Sep11

Down to Earth: The Science Is Clear on Climate Change

During the summer 12 years ago, I interned at Science News, a national magazine that reports on science for the public. As a young and inexperienced writer, part of my reporting included visiting the offices of my more experienced colleagues to ask them what good ideas I might fruitfully pursue. “Write about hurricanes and climate change,” said Janet Raloff, a writer I deeply admire to this day who’s now a Science News editor. “I...

Read More
Northampton’s ‘Beefcake’ Scandal
Sep11

Northampton’s ‘Beefcake’ Scandal

Fifty-seven years ago this month, agents of the Anti-Smut Unit of the Massachusetts State Police raided the Northampton apartment of Smith College literature professor Newton Arvin and discovered copies of “beefcake” magazines he had collected and shared with friends. He was arrested, not for homosexual activity — which was still largely outlawed in the Eisenhower-era U.S. — but for possessing “obscene materials” received through the...

Read More
The V-Spot: IPAs Run My Sex Life
Sep11

The V-Spot: IPAs Run My Sex Life

Editor’s Note: This column refers to sexual trauma responses. Hi Yana, My girlfriend and I have been together for four months, but lately I’ve been noticing we’ve only been having sex when we’re drinking. Nothing to put consent into question for either of us, of course, just a couple beers. I asked her about it over dinner, and she said, “It’s nothing you’re doing wrong, I’ve just hated myself lately.” I know she struggles with...

Read More
New Column: Monte Belmonte Wines
Sep05

New Column: Monte Belmonte Wines

You are reading a wine column that was written by a non-expert: a rank novice who has never worked in the wine industry, or the restaurant industry; who has never been to France (outside of Charles de Gaulle) or to California (outside of L.A.); and who, frankly, has never written a column of any kind, for any newspaper, at any time before now. That being said, I am Monte Belmonte — a radio host on 93.9 The River with an extremely tiny...

Read More
Third Eye Roaming: So Over THE Yoga Body
Sep05

Third Eye Roaming: So Over THE Yoga Body

Google yoga images and you’ll find a sea of thin, white women who look as if the road rises to greet them. Their bodies are ideologically perfect. Their yoga attire and accessories are meticulous. They are serene and smiling. Gee — if they’re so perfect, then do they even need yoga? Of course. Even those who ascribe to society’s view of perfection need yoga. Everybody does for better mind and body health. That’s a philosophy that most...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: Watching Punk Docs at Home
Sep05

Valley Show Girl: Watching Punk Docs at Home

Sometimes you wanna make it out to a show, but let’s face it life happens. Maybe you’re sick, or you can’t find a babysitter, or that snowstorm that’s fast approaching cancels everything and you are stuck inside. Have no fear! Documentaries galore are here! If you’re a fan of punk history as much as myself, there are a plethora of gems that are always there for your viewing. I could hibernate for a month straight and still not get...

Read More
The V-Spot: Too Many Orgasms and Leg Cramps
Sep05

The V-Spot: Too Many Orgasms and Leg Cramps

I have a little bit of a problem that most people wouldn’t consider a problem, so there aren’t a lot of resources for me. I am extremely orgasmic. Now, of course, I’m grateful for this and all, but it’s to the point that I usually come like 10-plus times during partnered sex. One drawback is, sometimes, I feel like I can’t focus as much on my partners’ pleasure when I’m experiencing all that sensation and I feel I could be having a...

Read More
Cinemadope: CAAAAAN’T Miss this one
Sep05

Cinemadope: CAAAAAN’T Miss this one

For all its ham-fistedness, the world of Star Trek has done an impressive job of putting important issues in front of its audience over the years. And while the first series was set sometime in the 2200s, it all began, in our world, during the late 1960s — and Star Trek writers were quick to use their platform as a way to craft parables about racism, Vietnam, and more. This week, Cinemark Theaters will be screening Star Trek II: Wrath...

Read More
Basemental: DIY All-Stars: Experimental Audio Damage & Research Control Groop
Aug28

Basemental: DIY All-Stars: Experimental Audio Damage & Research Control Groop

I kept hearing that Ian (Thee Arcadians) and Androo (ex-Spirit Ghost, Nancy Drool) would disappear into different basements and jam on one chord for hours at a time. The roommates tolerated it (within reason), the neighbors were never “chill” to begin with. But that did not deter them. They were riding a wave — or something like that. It wasn’t long before a rotating cast of DIY allstars — including, but likely not limited to, Nina...

Read More
Cinemadope: Whose Streets? Life in Ferguson after fatal shooting of unarmed, black teen by white officer
Aug28

Cinemadope: Whose Streets? Life in Ferguson after fatal shooting of unarmed, black teen by white officer

One of the more disturbing things about cinema is the establishment of who is a hero and who is a villain. Most often this looks like a white man taking down a non-white man. The specifics may change with the era — from the villain being African-American to South American to Middle Eastern to Asian — but the underlying message does not. It’s vital, then, that we seek out work made by the people of color whose voices are so often...

Read More
Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Horror Express’
Aug28

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Horror Express’

Allll aboard! Welcome to the Trans-Siberian express. I hope your journey is a pleasant one. Try not to be bothered by the marauding yeti in the baggage department. A bit of background may be in order so you can properly appreciate your trip. Spanish director Eugenio Martin had just finished filming Pancho Villa (1971) with Telly “Kojak” Savalas. Martin had a model train built for the picture and wanted to get as much mileage out of it...

Read More
Craving Cool Independent Films/TV Online? Check Out Seed & Spark
Aug28

Craving Cool Independent Films/TV Online? Check Out Seed & Spark

In this ever-expanding world of streaming platforms, it can be difficult to look outside the Big Three: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Viewers mainly feel constrained to these options because of their connections with major networks, their buying power for big-name film distribution, and their own original productions. However, if you’ve ever tried to find a truly original, interesting independent film on one of these sites, you’ve...

Read More
O Cannabis! : Puff Or Pass? Best and Worst Rolling Papers for Your Weed
Aug28

O Cannabis! : Puff Or Pass? Best and Worst Rolling Papers for Your Weed

Rolling papers and Rodney Dangerfield have long had a lot in common: they didn’t get no respect. But as marijuana’s cultural cachet has risen, so too have the quality and variety of smoking equipment. The humble rolling paper has been elevated to prestige level with Shine, a 24-k gold leafed paper that sells for $12 per sheet and, from what I hear, provides a premium smoking experience as the gold flakes off with the burn. Overall,...

Read More
The V-Spot: My BF Won’t Go Down on Me
Aug28

The V-Spot: My BF Won’t Go Down on Me

Hi Yana, My boyfriend refuses to go down on me. As a bisexual woman who has been in long term relationships with women, it’s something I miss. I bring it up and he gets defensive about it. I’m always down to give the blow jobs and don’t believe in not doing so just because he doesn’t go down on me. He’s tight lipped about why he isn’t interested in it. He makes it seem like we would have to be together for a long time before he does,...

Read More
Cinemadope: Human Smuggling Just to Get By
Aug21

Cinemadope: Human Smuggling Just to Get By

Shelburne Falls Pothole Pictures continues its summer movie series with something frosty: a screening of Frozen River. This 2008 film, written and directed by Courtney Hunt, was the hit of the festival circuit when it debuted, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and nabbing a “Top Ten Films” spot from the American Film Institute — not too shabby for a first outing. And while Hunt’s story and direction are top notch, it is star...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News
Aug21

Valley Show Girl: Music That Got Me Through White Supremacy News

The white supremacy horror show that happened earlier this month in Charlottesville really got to me. That Sunday, I barely left my bed. I mainly watched stupid chick flicks to occupy my mind with less meaningful things. After dinner however, I took my 6-year old son to the all ages show at The Tank in Feeding Hills where The Prozacs were putting on a punk show for the release of their album, Exist, which I reviewed last week. Music...

Read More
Stagestruck: Angels & Obsessions at NT Live
Aug18

Stagestruck: Angels & Obsessions at NT Live

If there is a genuine epic in American drama −  its ideas as expansive as its scope −  it is surely Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s two-part, eight-hour “gay fantasia on national themes.” And if there is a consummate example of cross-disciplinary provenance on the English-speaking stage these days, it must be Obsession, the London production of a Dutch adaptation of an Italian movie version of an American novel. Both shows share...

Read More
V-Spot: How Do I Make My Orgasms Come Back?
Aug17

V-Spot: How Do I Make My Orgasms Come Back?

Dear Yana, I’m a single woman in my late twenties, with no relationships on the horizon. But that’s OK, because I have a super intense, cordless Hitachi that I’m in love with. Problem is, recently, whenever I have attempted to reach orgasm, it never comes. I get the brink, right before the fall, but I’m just stuck. This has happened with lovers in the past; one even suggested it was a problem with not being able to “let go.” Perhaps I...

Read More
Nightcrawler: Ringo’s son assumes throne for The Who
Aug17

Nightcrawler: Ringo’s son assumes throne for The Who

The Who certainly aren’t kids anymore, but the iconic British rockers proved more than alright as they absolutely tore through a 21-tune, hit-laden set before a capacity crowd at Mohegan Sun (mohegansun.com) late last month. Catalog spanning radio staples like “I Can’t Explain” and “I Can See for Miles” melded seamlessly into “Behind Blue Eyes,” “You Better You Bet,” “My Generation” and Tommy’s “Pinball Wizard” and...

Read More
Stagestruck: Two Women, Intimate dramas explore shifting connections
Aug14

Stagestruck: Two Women, Intimate dramas explore shifting connections

A pair of two-handers, playing through this month and just next weekend respectively, examine intimate, intricate relationships between women. Harbor Stage Company, one of the region’s most reliably stimulating summer theaters, premieres its adaption of a cinema classic (see below) and the Valley’s adventurous Clementine Theater Collective celebrates its second season with a “sharp, moving almost-love story.” The Clementine...

Read More
Basemental: Nanny’s ‘Nowhere’ Reviewed
Aug14

Basemental: Nanny’s ‘Nowhere’ Reviewed

I first caught Nanny at the 13th Floor in Northampton this past March; one of my bands was sharing a bill with them. Earlier this summer, I saw them again and had that feeling I was starting to grasp the songs. It wasn’t long before I learned a debut EP was right around the bend, too. This weekend it will be released at a show to celebrate the accomplishment. This new EP, named for closing track six, Nowhere, recalls stripped down...

Read More
Cinemadope: Actor-in-Chief, Reagan forever changed the role of US President (Spoiler! Not for the Better)
Aug14

Cinemadope: Actor-in-Chief, Reagan forever changed the role of US President (Spoiler! Not for the Better)

With the ongoing avalanche of reporting on Russia and that nation’s relationship with our current president, it feels almost quaint to look back on the days of the Reagan era. Certainly there was international intrigue then, but today, the jelly beans and faux folksiness of Ron and Nancy’s White House sometimes seem — at least to a writer who went from boyhood to teenager under Reagan — like childhood memories from overnights at a...

Read More
Stagestruck: Ending on a Laugh
Aug14

Stagestruck: Ending on a Laugh

New Century Theatre is closing its summer season as it began — with “a full-out comedy,” as director Sam Rush puts it. This one is The 39 Steps, a jokey reconstruction of Alfred Hitchcock’s epic 1935 thriller. Or perhaps I should say deconstruction, since it’s performed by just four actors and played strictly for laughs. The now-classic scenario in which an innocent bystander is caught up in a mysterious and increasingly perilous...

Read More
Basemental: Nanny’s “Nowhere” Is Vulnerable Grunge Rock Not To Be Missed
Aug11

Basemental: Nanny’s “Nowhere” Is Vulnerable Grunge Rock Not To Be Missed

I first caught Nanny at the 13th Floor in Northampton this past March; one of my bands was sharing a bill with them. Earlier this summer, I saw them again and had that feeling I was starting to grasp the songs. It wasn’t long before I learned a debut EP was right around the bend, too. This weekend it will be released at a show to celebrate the accomplishment. Nowhere by Nanny This new EP, named for closing track six, Nowhere, recalls...

Read More