Stream Queen: The Film and TV Industry is a Steaming Morass of Iniquity, but I’m Still Thankful
Nov20

Stream Queen: The Film and TV Industry is a Steaming Morass of Iniquity, but I’m Still Thankful

Dearest streamers, as the year draws to a close and we start to gather with our families (chosen or otherwise), it’s customary to take stock of how our lives have changed in the past 365 days. To say that the entertainment industry and all its iterations have changed in even the past month would be an understatement. Reverberations of female resistance can be felt in all areas of the entertainment world, which for so long has silenced...

Read More
Basemental: A Wikipedia Rant by Will
Nov20

Basemental: A Wikipedia Rant by Will

Last week my colleague Jennifer Levesque reported on musician and rock documentarian Tanya Pearson’s efforts to challenge Wikipedia edits. While trying to revise entries on the free encyclopedia, Pearson discovered that many edits and entries weren’t getting past male editors due to thin (often false) claims of “poor sourcing.” This effectively has marginalized independent female, trans, and nonbinary musicians from having...

Read More
Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Demons of Ludlow
Nov20

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Demons of Ludlow

As I type this column, it is not yet Halloween, but by the time it sees print the holiday will be over. I’m still in a scary-movie mode, watching such fare as “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” But maybe I should switch gears and see what’s available now on TV. Wow! Hallmark is already running Christmas movies! That’s pretty scary right there. Well, OK — let’s go with one last spookfest. Think of it as munching on those leftover...

Read More
Stagestruck: Poetry, Puppetry and Attempted Murder
Nov20

Stagestruck: Poetry, Puppetry and Attempted Murder

Crimes of the Heart is an American classic. Beth Henley’s 1980 play garnered a Tony, a Pulitzer and a movie deal, ran on Broadway for over a year and has been a community theater staple ever since. Before catching Cate Damon’s lively production at the Majestic Theater in West Springfield (through Dec. 10) I hadn’t seen it for years, and was surprised at how quaint it now seems. The tumbling dialogue is humorously authentic (we’re in...

Read More
Pixar Strikes Again With More Diversity in Coco
Nov20

Pixar Strikes Again With More Diversity in Coco

Pixar has had a remarkable run. Beginning in 1985, with Toy Story, the animation studio has produced a body of work that has set — and maintained — a high bar for mainstream animation. While the Toy Story franchise proved to be the gift that kept on giving (a fourth installment is due out in 2019), films like Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out proved that the studio was never just telling kids’ stories. But for all its success, there has...

Read More
The V-Spot: I Keep Falling for Straight Girls
Nov20

The V-Spot: I Keep Falling for Straight Girls

Hi Yana, I’m a 20-year-old student at one of the local women’s colleges. I’m gay and have been out for five years, though I’ve never dated anyone. I figured that it wouldn’t be too tricky to find someone here, since there’s a pretty large population of people who identify as LGBTQ+. However, despite the fact that I’m pretty social, and part of multiple student groups, I’ve only managed to fall for straight girls. To most people, I...

Read More
Stagestruck: Not Your Bobble-head Einstein
Nov14

Stagestruck: Not Your Bobble-head Einstein

Though it harks back more than 100 years, Jack Fry’s Einstein! shuns the usual retrospective approach to solo shows portraying celebrities. This one is both timeless and time-stamped. The title character appears to us “from the beyond,” complaining about the popular caricature he’s become after death, presenting as evidence his wild-haired likeness on a t-shirt and a bobble-head. But he also situates us in his Berlin study in August...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: The Case of the Missing Wiki Edits
Nov13

Valley Show Girl: The Case of the Missing Wiki Edits

Tanya Pearson has been accumulating a continuous list of female musicians for her Women in Rock Oral History Project which she started at Smith College in December 2014. Accompanied by 29 video interviews (so far!) with some of them available on http://www.womenofrock.org, she has set the bar for having underrepresented female musicians speak their truth and tell their story behind what it’s like to be a female musician in a “Man’s...

Read More
The V-Spot: I’m So Excited and…
Nov13

The V-Spot: I’m So Excited and…

Hey Yana, I just read a list of codependent behaviors on the internet and realized a ton of them describe the ways I have navigated/still navigate my relationships. Particularly: getting upset/stressed about other people’s problems and trauma, abandoning my needs to cater to others, and getting strong dips in my self-worth/self-confidence when the people in my life aren’t totally happy/excited about me. I realize these...

Read More
Stream Queen: Hair-Raising True Crime Media for Your Inner Detective
Nov13

Stream Queen: Hair-Raising True Crime Media for Your Inner Detective

We all have a bit of morbid curiosity in us. Some more than others — according to a 2010 study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, women are more drawn to true crime literature than men. Maybe that’s because we like to know as much as possible about misogynistic serial killers so that we can feel less out of control in this guy-kill-girl world. Maybe it’s because sexism is fake and women can like whatever they...

Read More
Monte Belmonte Wines: Drink Up, Pilgrim
Nov13

Monte Belmonte Wines: Drink Up, Pilgrim

Thanksgiving: when (non-Native) Americans celebrate their favorite (made up) moments from (revisionist) history. A time when you will sit down to enjoy a feast  (with historically incorrect menu), lovingly seated around the table next to your (mouth-breathing) relatives. So before you begin debating your (racist) uncle about the pros and cons of the football team called the Redskins, raise a glass and drink wine macerated on actual...

Read More

Cinemadope: Bold Ballet on Screen

As the days grow shorter here in the Valley, we begin to hear whispers of that famous annual December celebration. Children look forward to it for months, and adults go shopping early to make sure they get everything they need before the best stock is sold. I’m talking, of course, about The Nutcracker. First performed in 19th Century Russia, the fan-favorite ballet has been a staple of the holiday season in the Valley for years, and...

Read More
Stagestruck: The Fruits of Poetry
Nov08

Stagestruck: The Fruits of Poetry

Note: An earlier version of this article contained several errors. They have now been corrected. In 1999, Time magazine named its pick for “the song of the century.” That song was “Strange Fruit,” perhaps an odd choice from the songbook of the era that gave birth to blues, jazz, musical comedy and rock’n’roll. Written in the late 1930s by a schoolteacher named Abel Meeropol, it’s a mournful tune set to a bitter lyric about an...

Read More
Westfield Welcomes Tin Bridge Brewing Company
Nov08

Westfield Welcomes Tin Bridge Brewing Company

Family-run business is the city’s first visitable craft brewery As the Valley’s local craft beer bubble continues to grow, Westfield looks primed for business. Downtown on Elm Street, Skyline Trading Company — a craft beer bar and homebrew shop — has proven a welcome recent addition to Westfield’s nightlife. And residents here often hop in the car (or on a bike) to visit the large barn that houses Westfield River Brewing Company in...

Read More
Opening the Book of the Earth
Nov06

Opening the Book of the Earth

What do a public library and the great outdoors have in common? Because I write about nature and the environment, I’ve always made use of library books on nature. But it took me a long time to fully realize how closely and intimately libraries and the environment are linked, and to begin to notice and imagine ways they could be still more closely connected. For one thing, libraries “are the number one reuse machine,” says Forbes...

Read More
Basemental: Landowner’s Edgy Riff on the ‘American Dream’
Nov06

Basemental: Landowner’s Edgy Riff on the ‘American Dream’

When I heard there was a local band called Landowner, I thought: “Surely, they’re joking. This is satirical, right?” But punk is weird these days — everyone is on Facebook hoping companies will sponsor them — so I wasn’t completely sure. I started asking friends, “They’re not for real, right?” And no one knew. But what stunned me is that some not only took the name at face value, but thought it had merit, especially those who aspired...

Read More
Valley V-Spot: My Partner is a Porn Addict, Now What?
Nov06

Valley V-Spot: My Partner is a Porn Addict, Now What?

Hi Yana, My partner has struggled with a pornography/masturbation addiction since he was a teen. I’m not against self pleasure. In fact, I believe it’s important and wonderful for everyone to experience, even when partnered. We’ve been together for 4 years, and our sex life is generally great. He was upfront with me about his issues with porn (his words) at an early point, but at the beginning he was contacting people outside of our...

Read More
Beerhunter: Unique Sour Beer Pairings at The Foundry
Nov06

Beerhunter: Unique Sour Beer Pairings at The Foundry

If you weren’t expecting this craft beer column to start with a plate of silkworm larvae, believe me, I’m as surprised as you are. But there they were, next to my glass: half a dozen off-white baby bugs, each about an inch long and doused with a honey balsamic sauce. I had no idea how this snack would go down (answer: soft and crispy) or whether the larvae would pair well with my short pour of Madrugada Oscura, a Belgian-style sour...

Read More
Cinemadope: A Fan Steps into the Spotlight in “Good Ol’ Freda”
Nov06

Cinemadope: A Fan Steps into the Spotlight in “Good Ol’ Freda”

It’s a fool’s game to think that the past can’t be topped, but let’s play it for a moment: can there ever be another phenomenon like the Beatles? Whether you count yourself a fan or not, the band — their impact was never only about their music — set off a sea change in popular music that is still making waves today. In a world where we now have nearly any recording literally at our fingertips, it’s difficult to imagine any one band...

Read More
Stagestruck: House of Terrors
Nov05

Stagestruck: House of Terrors

The current world-premiere production at Hartford Stage (through Nov. 12) is “based on a true story,” according to the publicity, which is otherwise unforthcoming about its real-life inspiration. No matter. The premise for Sarah Gancher’s Seder is dramatic enough to pass for fiction, but has an unmistakable ring of authenticity. Fact or fantasy, it’s one of the smartest, most engaging and provocative new plays I’ve seen. It’s 2002,...

Read More
Stagestruck: Babylon in Vermont
Nov01

Stagestruck: Babylon in Vermont

As artists, how can one watch the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, not to mention countries in Africa and Asia, and not want to address this issue?  That question provoked the latest handmade production from Sandglass Theater, the world-class puppetry troupe headquartered in Putney, Vermont. The floods of refugees flowing from the Near East into an often hostile Europe, coupled with the travel bans on people...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: A Bloody Good Time
Oct30

Valley Show Girl: A Bloody Good Time

Later this month, Chicopee’s Maximum Capacity will close and open at some point in the future with new ownership. Will there still be shows? If so, will they include metal/rock shows? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, you still have a chance to get to “one last show.” Over the years of going to certain clubs/venues, you develop memories that either bring a smile to your face, or a head shake, like “wow, yeah, that totally...

Read More
Stagestruck: Runaways and Refugees
Oct30

Stagestruck: Runaways and Refugees

“Once upon a time / There was a boy or a girl / Who ran far away from home …” But this is no fairy tale. Runaways, which opens this week at UMass, is a grown-up musical about homeless children — kids who have fled from home and are living on the street. Created by Elizabeth Swados, it premiered in 1978 at the Public Theater, which had midwifed Hair a decade earlier, and soon moved to Broadway. It was based on Swados’...

Read More
How to Navigate Holiday Wine Tastings With Style 
Oct30

How to Navigate Holiday Wine Tastings With Style 

As we tiptoe toward the holiday season, you may find yourself with the opportunity to attend a wine tasting. A chance to try endless, free, tiny pours of wines and other alcoholic beverages in anticipation of having to endure the darkest and saddest time of the year — Christmas. I actually love Christmas. And Hannukah. And Kwanza (not much drinking with that holiday, though). I especially love Thanksgiving. And as we get closer to...

Read More
The V-Spot: How Do I Make Sexual Suggestions?
Oct30

The V-Spot: How Do I Make Sexual Suggestions?

Dear Yana, I’m a 30-something guy in a long-term relationship with a bisexual woman. She’s got a high sex drive and wants to have sex almost constantly. My desire doesn’t really match up with hers but I wonder if the issue is really that her sexual techniques don’t really line up with my tastes. Her confidence seems tenuous and I’m worried that my requests will deflate her. How could I best make suggestions towards what I want her to...

Read More
Cinemadope: Decay Okay
Oct30

Cinemadope: Decay Okay

When my grandfather died, some years ago now, my mother and I spent the days that followed going through his apartment to sort through the belongings he’d left behind, trying to figure out what we should keep and what we could safely shunt along to the garbage heap. It was a daunting but fascinating task; my grandfather wasn’t exactly a hoarder, but he was a man of many and widely varied interests, and his little second-floor nest was...

Read More
V-Spot: Watching Porn in Public with Bella Vendetta (NSFW Trailer Included)
Oct23

V-Spot: Watching Porn in Public with Bella Vendetta (NSFW Trailer Included)

Editor’s note: This week instead of answering a reader question, Yana writes about an event she co-sponsored involving, well … read on! It’s not what you’d expect — this whole watching porn in a room full of strangers with your friends thing. On Saturday night, in an expansive room of the Eastworks building, about 50 of us did just that. And it was a wicked good time. The Training of Poe is an award-winning documentary-style...

Read More
Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye
Oct23

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Crawling Eye

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and view an exhibit by Kirk Hammett. “Kirk who?” you ask. Why, none other than the lead guitarist for the thrash metal band Metallica. Can’t say I was ever a fan, but Hammett’s collection on display was interesting. Growing up with a love for old horror films, he has amassed a treasure trove of original movie posters. The collection mostly focuses on the...

Read More
O Cannabis: Hey Pilgrim, How Was Your First Weed Harvest? 
Oct23

O Cannabis: Hey Pilgrim, How Was Your First Weed Harvest? 

The harvest is in and I can’t believe the results. My husband and I didn’t weigh our cannabis haul from our home garden, but we were able to fill a bunch of regular-size salsa jars with marijuana. This is more than good enough for me! Like many weed enthusiasts in the state, we enjoyed our first home-grown harvest in October. Strike up the weed exchanges! It’s kind of like a cookie exchange — and there may be cookies — but way danker....

Read More
Basemental: New Tricks from the (not so) Young Tricksters
Oct23

Basemental: New Tricks from the (not so) Young Tricksters

The Young Tricksters have returned. After what felt like forever, the Amherst quartet have broken their quiet to give the people what they want: a full-length album. After releasing a couple self-recorded demos back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (March 2013 to be exact), the group will be finally posting their magnum opus on Bandcamp this week, before joining And The Kids at the Parlor Room in Northampton on Oct. 27. The...

Read More
Cinemadope: Calling in Sick
Oct23

Cinemadope: Calling in Sick

When we write the history of the last decade, the smartphone will surely loom large. Since 2007, when the iPhone was unveiled, these little packages of silicon and glass have become almost literally an extension of ourselves, attached to the ends of our arms to record, inform, or enhance so many of our moments. We still have some adjustments to make to this new world, to be sure — I long for the day when concerts are not spoiled by...

Read More
This Halloween, Let These Psychological Horror Movies Brainwash You
Oct23

This Halloween, Let These Psychological Horror Movies Brainwash You

The leaves are changing, there’s a chill in the air, and every cafe has restocked their pumpkin spice syrup. Fall is finally here, and if you’re interested in movies, that means two things: nearby Oscar season means there are finally some good films in theatres again, and streaming sites have restocked their horror fodder in honor of Halloween. Netflix has especially stepped up their game this October, with new originals like David...

Read More
Stagestruck: Going for Goal
Oct19

Stagestruck: Going for Goal

The timing was kind of perfect. Last week, just as the U.S. men’s soccer team was being eliminated from qualifying for next year’s World Cup, Hartford’s TheaterWorks was opening The Wolves, an energetic if puzzling play about women’s soccer. Make that girls’ soccer. Sarah DeLappe’s high-spirited drama is about a team of suburban teenagers competing in six-a-side indoor soccer. In the context of this show, the World Cup news invites...

Read More
Stagestruck: A Light, a Lake and a Lady
Oct16

Stagestruck: A Light, a Lake and a Lady

In last week’s column I covered a fistful of shows playing in the Valley, and now it’s the Berkshires’ turn. Shakespeare & Company’s God of Carnage recently completed a late-season run, and three quite varied fall productions are now running on other western stages.   In Pittsfield, Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 psychothriller Gaslight is playing at Barrington Stage Company through this weekend. The inspiration for reviving this...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: Luthier’s Unplugged: Metal, Grunge, and Singer/Songwriter Action
Oct16

Valley Show Girl: Luthier’s Unplugged: Metal, Grunge, and Singer/Songwriter Action

After having a so-long get together at Galaxy in Easthampton with my coworkers to send off Kristin Palpini on her next adventure, I dragged my sad ass down the street to Luthier’s Coop. And I tell ya, there’s nothing like seeing Pee Wee Herman’s inviting goofiness to bring a smile to my face. Kudos to whoever put that delight at the entrance. The small venue is illuminated with white string lights, the walls are lined with all...

Read More