V-Spot: So I Looked At My BF’s Google History…
Jul18

V-Spot: So I Looked At My BF’s Google History…

Hi Yana, This is a really hard thing to write. I recently went through my partner’s phone. (Yikes I know. I wanted to know what he got for my birthday). While scrolling in the web history I found he’s been watching gay porn and Googling personal ads on Craigslist. He’s in his fifties and I’m about two decades younger than him so I’m a little bit more open about my sexuality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the porn he’s...

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Valley Show Girl: Family Fun Day at Green River Festival
Jul17

Valley Show Girl: Family Fun Day at Green River Festival

For the past 32 years, the Green River Festival has taken over a weekend in July, spreading out over the fields at Greenfield Community College — three days filled to the brim with music, food, drinks, art, crafts, vendors, hot air balloons, and community. This year, I brought my 7-year-old son on Saturday for his first festival. In the six hours that we were there, it was a nonstop colorful ride. We parked down the street and were...

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Cinemadope: The Theme Song’s the Thing in Mission: Impossible
Jul16

Cinemadope: The Theme Song’s the Thing in Mission: Impossible

Film and television may be the land of the moving image, but it has sure given us a lot of great music over the years. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, quietly breathing out Moon River. Shirley Bassey’s brassy, wagging Goldfinger. The many themes and soundtracks that have become cultural touchstones: The Pink Panther. Jaws. Psycho. But while some of those melodies dig deep into our psyches — the ominous see-saw of the Jaws riff kept...

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O Cannabis: The craftsmanship of hand trimming
Jul12

O Cannabis: The craftsmanship of hand trimming

Most people, even non-cannabis smokers, could pretty easily recognize two parts of the cannabis plant: the flower, or bud, that is dried and sold for consumption, and the fan shaped leaves that are often used in advertisements. An important aspect of turning the flower of the cannabis plant into the dried bud that most people are familiar with is trimming. In order to get the bud to look how the consumer expects, cannabis growers need...

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Down to Earth: The Ocean Alongside Us
Jul11

Down to Earth: The Ocean Alongside Us

It’s summer, and with these golden months for many of us come trips to the seaside. As much as I love the Pioneer Valley, one of my regrets in choosing this home is its landlocked geography.  Out here in Western Massachusetts, the ocean can feel almost infinitely far away. I miss the swash and leap of waves on white boulders.  Breathing in a humid hang of pollen, dust, and soot blown north from New York City, I long for the bracing...

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The V-Spot: How Do I NOT Squirt, Though?
Jul10

The V-Spot: How Do I NOT Squirt, Though?

Hi Yana! I recently entered a new relationship and my new partner finally helped me cum for the very first time! Recently though we discovered that I sometimes squirt and now I’ve been absolutely terrified of cumming since I’m anxious about making a mess. My partner says he doesn’t mind, but I’m still so anxious! Any advice for relaxing so that I can re-enjoy finishing? Anxiously Orgasming   Dear Anxiously, Partnered in a new...

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Stagestruck: Exciting new ideas from well-worn material
Jul10

Stagestruck: Exciting new ideas from well-worn material

A new thriller, a boundary-breaking dance form, a classic tragedy, and a dramatic sequel, all on area stages this month, illustrate the creative urge to mold existing materials into new forms. In the Valley, Silverthorne Theater Company presents White, Black and Blue, a new play by Steve Henderson and Will Chalmus. It’s a thriller with a sense of humor, a different kind of mistaken-identity adventure involving an unlikely trio. In the...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The brilliant 23 year old ordering bottles for ConVino
Jul10

Monte Belmonte Wines: The brilliant 23 year old ordering bottles for ConVino

“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but you remind me of Rachel Maddow.” That was my reaction after meeting Franchesca Thepenier, the 23 year old certified Sommelier and beverage director for ConVino Wine Bar in Northampton. I worked with Rachel for two years over a decade and a half ago, and it was clear then that Rachel’s brilliance was not going to be contained to our subterranean radio studio on Main Street in Northampton...

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Cinemadope: Mama Africa Miriam Makeba continues to inspire
Jul09

Cinemadope: Mama Africa Miriam Makeba continues to inspire

When the world lost Miriam Makeba in 2008, we lost a great musical and political voice. The first African musician to become a solid international star, her powerful singing crossed national divides without ever losing touch with her South African roots — no mean feat, as she was banished from the country early in life, after starring in the 1959 documentary Come Back Africa, which turned a bright light on the harsh reality of...

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Stagestruck: Compromises and Contradictions in Chester
Jul07

Stagestruck: Compromises and Contradictions in Chester

A poster hanging in the lobby at Chester Theater Company points out common roots and themes connecting Islam, Judaism and Christianity – for example, the Archangel Gabriel figures in all three religions’ core legends. It serves as prelude to the current production, which prowls around issues of faith and heritage in a fractious world. Director Kristen van Ginhoven and a superlative cast have created an arresting rendition of Ayad...

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Stagestruck: Masters of Melody, Onstage at BTG
Jul06

Stagestruck: Masters of Melody, Onstage at BTG

What happens when your music goes out of style? – when the teenagers are swooning over Elvis Presley instead of Frank Sinatra? If you’re Irving Berlin, and it’s Christmas Eve 1956, and the song at the top of the Hit Parade isn’t “White Christmas” but “Hound Dog,” you invite a couple of fellow songwriters over to your Manhattan townhouse to drink, kvetch, and reminisce. That’s the premise for Lee Kalcheim’s charming and tuneful...

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The V-Spot: Exploring kink after trauma
Jul06

The V-Spot: Exploring kink after trauma

Writer’s note: this column discusses sexual assault and trauma. Hey Yana! I’ve been seeing/having sex with this guy for a little while now. I really (really really) like him and feel super comfortable with him and we’ve had super good conversations about boundaries and consent. I tend to dissociate a bit when I start having sex with a new person, and I’ve been really open about that with him and about past trauma. (I was physically...

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Beerhunter: A Bright New Berkshires
Jul04

Beerhunter: A Bright New Berkshires

Putting shake-ups behind them, two brewers plan for the future Massachusetts has more than 120 visitable breweries, 19 of which are in the Valley. That’s a lot of taprooms to keep a Beerhunter busy around Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. Still, you can’t cover beer news in Western Mass without fully appreciating what “west” means. Berkshire County boasts five breweries. The oldest is Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington,...

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Stagestruck: Weekend Update
Jul04

Stagestruck: Weekend Update

For your consideration – four shows playing in the region this weekend, two that hark back to the ’60s/’70s and forward to tomorrow, plus a Shakespearean comedy and a jungle adventure. The Ko Festival of Performance opens its five-weekend season with The Radicalization Process, a multilayered piece from the The Hinterlands ensemble. Performances are Friday to Sunday, July 6-8, in the Holden Theater on the Amherst College campus. The...

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Wedding Belles – Gay marriage is a hot topic in this bake shop
Jul03

Wedding Belles – Gay marriage is a hot topic in this bake shop

These days, fiction can hardly keep up with real life. Take The Cake, playing at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield through July 15. It opened last month, just days after the Supreme Court upheld a Colorado baker’s refusal, on religious grounds, to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Bekah Brunstetter’s play concerns another baker, who likewise declines to make such a cake for another such couple. It handles this hot-button...

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The V-Spot: Exploring Kink After Trauma
Jul03

The V-Spot: Exploring Kink After Trauma

Writer’s note: this column discusses sexual assault and trauma. Hey Yana! I’ve been seeing/having sex with this guy for a little while now. I really (really really) like him and feel super comfortable with him and we’ve had super good conversations about boundaries and consent. I tend to dissociate a bit when I start having sex with a new person, and I’ve been really open about that with him and about past trauma. (I was physically...

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Stagestruck: WTF is going on
Jul02

Stagestruck: WTF is going on

Two world premieres kick off the season at Williamstown Theatre Festival, one a raucous comedy, the other a brief, intimate tragedy. The Closet holds forth on WTF’s Main Stage through July 14th, while The Sound Inside plays through the 8th on the smaller Nikos Stage. Both feature bona fide stars in roles that fit them well. Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, unfolding over an intermissionless 90 minutes, is is a rather bleak...

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Cinemadope: The private life of iconoclast Grace Jones
Jul02

Cinemadope: The private life of iconoclast Grace Jones

Growing up, I wasn’t often presented with images of strong women. You’d see the occasional Rosie the Riveter magnet here and there, but even then it seemed odd to me that it required sending most of the male population to an overseas war before a woman got a chance to take charge. In media, when there was a female role that wasn’t just arm candy to a higher-paid actor, it often meant the character was de-sexed as much as possible, as...

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Stagestruck: Hip-Hop Hybrid — Ephrat Asherie Dance at Jacob’s Pillow
Jun29

Stagestruck: Hip-Hop Hybrid — Ephrat Asherie Dance at Jacob’s Pillow

The dance companies that opened this year’s season at Jacob’s Pillow epitomize the festival’s enduring mission. This week the mainstage hosts Pilobolus, one of the pillars of modern dance and still innovating after 45 years. And in the Pillow’s intimate Doris Duke Theatre, Ephrat Asherie Dance exemplifies the festival’s ongoing commitment to stylistic and thematic boundary-pushing. Both shows run through Sunday July 1st. I was at...

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The CDs You Gave Me: Colorway’s ‘These Are The Days’ will give you hope for humanity
Jun28

The CDs You Gave Me: Colorway’s ‘These Are The Days’ will give you hope for humanity

Northampton-based pop rock trio Colorway embodies the spirit of summer on its new nine-track record, “These Are The Days,” with inventive shredding guitar solos and catchy earworm melodies that for better or for worse promotes a simple message of peace, love, and understanding. These Are The Days by Colorway The album opens with the title track, an upbeat rock tune with an XTC-ish drumming intro from Riley Godleski (drums/vocals)...

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O Cannabis: From stigmatized weed pipe maker to artisanal marijuana glass blower
Jun27

O Cannabis: From stigmatized weed pipe maker to artisanal marijuana glass blower

Chris Hubbard has been crafting artisanal glass pipes for marijuana smokers with his Florence-based business Akame Glass for more than a decade and thinks the stigma against weed-related glassblowing is shifting, and his industry is starting to be legitimized by the larger art world. “Before the world considered us artists, we were drug paraphernalia makers,” he said. “Now that weed is legal. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re an artist.’ I’ve...

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Bizarro Briefs: Keep your eyes off the road
Jun27

Bizarro Briefs: Keep your eyes off the road

A county coroner in Kentucky has been accused of working with at least two others — a retired police colonel and a current state police trooper — of illegally transporting a number of items. The most serious appeared to be $40,000 worth of illegally obtained weapons and ammunition, but the most eye-popping was a literal pair of eyeballs. Prosecutors allege the coroner, who is running to be re-elected as Coroner in Kentucky, took the...

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 The V-Spot: I’m The Other Woman
Jun26

 The V-Spot: I’m The Other Woman

Hi Yana, I want to avoid having an emotional (or sexual) affair without ending a friendship. I have a friend who I really like, and am attracted to, but he’s married. I’ve known him for a couple of years, and we always hang out with his wife, who I don’t click with. I’m polyamorous and have other partners, but I respect that he and his wife are monogamous. Recently he’s said and done a handful of things...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The potential of Massachusetts wine
Jun26

Monte Belmonte Wines: The potential of Massachusetts wine

Massachusetts is no Bordeaux. It’s no Napa. Perhaps with global warming, someday it will rival the great wine regions of the world, which is why I keep a tire fire burning in my backyard at all times. But given the limitations of our climate, are our burgeoning vineyards in Massachusetts able to produce great wine? If you read my last column, you’ll know I was recently illegally drinking canned wine on the beaches of Cape Cod. Route...

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Stagestruck: At a Crossroads on “The Road to Mecca”
Jun25

Stagestruck: At a Crossroads on “The Road to Mecca”

Silverthorne Theater Company has come a long way since its founding five summers ago. Struggling at first with difficult venues and miniscule audiences, the company, under the leadership of Lucinda Kidder, is now celebrating the half-decade mark with a permanent home and full houses. It’s the resident theater in Greenfield’s cultural hub, the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center. (Full disclosure: I’ve worked there as a director.)...

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Cinemadope: Animated summer fare in the Valley
Jun25

Cinemadope: Animated summer fare in the Valley

It’s finally getting into the full swing of summer here in the Valley — the asparagus festival has come and gone, the colleges have mostly emptied out, and keeping up with the yard work is beginning to turn  downright Sisyphean. If you find yourself longing for a little getaway, who could blame you? If a return to the simple pleasures of a cartoon-soaked youth sounds enticing, Valley theaters have you covered in the coming weeks. Find...

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Stagestruck: A lawyer walks into a rabbi’s office…
Jun23

Stagestruck: A lawyer walks into a rabbi’s office…

Bar Mitzvah Boy is a comedy that looks seriously at faith, community, and loss. Its premise contains the seeds of sitcom: A middle-aged Jewish lawyer who hasn’t set foot in a synagogue since he was a boy is suddenly in a rush to have his way-overdue becoming-a-man ceremony. He convinces (or rather bullies) the rabbi, who has her – yes, her – own more pressing needs, to be his personal tutor. Chester Theatre Company’s season opener, by...

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Stagestruck: “Tight Pants” and strong bonds
Jun20

Stagestruck: “Tight Pants” and strong bonds

A six-week workshop for first-time playwrights taught by the Majestic Theater’s Danny Eaton has borne unexpected fruit. It has not only brought forth a full-length play, but has inspired Eaton to establish an annual “new works” week at the theater. Betel Arnold’s Tight Pants, which grew out of that workshop, inaugurates the projected series this weekend. Arnold’s play is set in the Dominican Republic, her mother’s homeland. It’s an...

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Stagestruck: A Crisis of Faith, with Laughs
Jun18

Stagestruck: A Crisis of Faith, with Laughs

Church & State is the funniest play about a serious issue I have ever seen. The issue is gun violence, specifically mass shootings, and the humor is threaded into the storyline so organically that, far from cheapening the theme, it lends to it a richer, more deeply human heart. The central figure in the Berkshire Theatre Group’s thrilling production is North Carolina’s (fictitious) junior senator, Republican Charles Whitmore, who...

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Podcast: Beerhunter Hunter Styles and Beer Week co-founder Sally Noble talk beer
Jun18

Podcast: Beerhunter Hunter Styles and Beer Week co-founder Sally Noble talk beer

Advocate alumnus Hunter Styles, who still writes our Beerhunter column, and Sally Noble, co-founder of Western Mass Beer Week, tell us about the embarrassment of riches of beer we have in the Valley. Hear about Sally’s beer beginnings and the start of Western Mass Beer Week, of Hunter’s recent travels (and beer sampling) in Norway, and see whether the pair can convince Gina that beer is actually...

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The V-Spot: How Do I Move Past Old Heartbreak?
Jun18

The V-Spot: How Do I Move Past Old Heartbreak?

Hi Yana, I’m a dude in my mid-thirties struggling to recover from a sort of recent break-up (over a year ago). We were together for seven years. The last three of those years were spent in couples therapy and the last year of our relationship was spent trying to be non-monogamous (her idea). Long, painful story short: she ended up falling in love with the other person she was dating outside of our relationship during our...

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Cinemadope: A great time for film lovers to check out Forbes Library
Jun18

Cinemadope: A great time for film lovers to check out Forbes Library

Something I’ve come to love about Father’s Day weekend is my own dad’s profound disinterest in the world of the internet. He doesn’t give a fig for Facebook, has no email address, and if he were ever involved with something viral it would be cause for a trip to the doctor’s office. The man is so offline that he doesn’t even have a debit card. What he does have is a library card. And for as long as I can remember, he has made the...

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Basemental: Wendy Eisenberg just wants to be a good person and make very complicated music
Jun15

Basemental: Wendy Eisenberg just wants to be a good person and make very complicated music

Wendy Eisenberg has made a name for herself in the amalgamated DIY, jazz, and improvisation scenes in New England and beyond. Coming via Rochester and then Boston, Eisenberg now lives in Amherst. Eisenberg has a variety of tactics in her artist’s toolbox. Among them are songwriter, teacher, improvisor, session musician, and heady writer on musical theory. She has played with the likes of the alto-saxophonist-and-jack-of-all-trades...

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Stagestruck: Barrington’s world premiere musical — not ready for prime time
Jun15

Stagestruck: Barrington’s world premiere musical — not ready for prime time

The “royal family” of Broadway in the early 20th century was the Barrymores – Ethel, “first lady of the American theater,” John the swashbuckling Shakespearean, and Lionel, best remembered now as mean old Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. The hit Broadway comedy of 1927 was The Royal Family, an affectionate sendup of the Barrymores and the showbiz aristocracy they embodied. Now it’s a musical, The Royal Family of Broadway, which...

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Stagestruck: At Shakespeare & Company, the Show Must, and Did, Go On
Jun13

Stagestruck: At Shakespeare & Company, the Show Must, and Did, Go On

A theater story: For three years in the mid-’70s, Anthony Perkins starred in the long-running Broadway production of Equus, playing the psychiatrist Dr. Dysart (pause for Psycho jokes). Just before one matinee came an announcement: “Anthony Perkins will not be appearing in this performance.” Groans of disappointment! “His role will be played by Richard Burton.” Buzz of excitement! At the time, Burton, who had played the part in...

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