Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)
Jun20

Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)

“Birds of a feather flock together,” as the saying goes, but that’s no excuse for these two avian-themed plays to be running at the same time in this area. They are entirely different species.The Birds, at Barrington Stage Company, is a claustrophobic thriller, while Stupid Fucking Bird, opening on Thursday at Silverthorne Theater Company, is a cheeky updating of Chekhov’s The Seagull. When asked what Stupid Fucking Bird is...

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Stream Queen: The ‘F’ Word
Jun19

Stream Queen: The ‘F’ Word

Feminism is a word that has puzzled/infuriated/strengthened so many people in this country. Debates over the goals of feminism rage on, while popular media outlets inject the word into their headlines for maximum clicks. Are selfies feminist? Is makeup feminist? Am I anti-feminist for making fun of Ann Coulter’s reanimated corpse?In my opinion, “feminist” is no longer a particularly useful adjective, unless it precedes words like...

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Basemental: The Leafies are a Guerilla Band
Jun19

Basemental: The Leafies are a Guerilla Band

Some might describe The Leafies You Gave Me as a “band,” but that would be an understatement. At least in the musical sense.Yes, they are musicians. And yes, they make music. But they are a band more like New Oxford American Dictionary’s second definition of the word band: “a group of people who have a common interest or purpose.” It cites the example of a “guerilla band,” which does seem fitting for this 10-piece avant garde...

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Cinemadope: Musical Evolution
Jun19

Cinemadope: Musical Evolution

There have been many eulogies given over the years for the American Movie Musical. And while the popularity of the form is certainly not what it was during its heyday — superhero movies, with their own kinds of acrobatics and wish-fulfillment scenarios, seem to have grabbed today’s everyday American — it has never gone away, either.What, then, changed? The subjects, certainly, grew heavier over the years: the mistaken identity romps...

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Should I Date Someone I’m Not Attracted To?
Jun19

Should I Date Someone I’m Not Attracted To?

I met a girl on a dating app. It was sort of an accidental swipe, but we started chatting and met up. She was really cool to hang out with, but physically, I didn’t find her very attractive. We kept talking and started spending time together.Now it has been a couple of months, and I’m having some reservations. Even though we really enjoy spending time together, I’m just not attracted to her physically, and it is...

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Stagestruck: Mayflies and “Mill Girls”
Jun12

Stagestruck: Mayflies and “Mill Girls”

It has been described as “theatrical mayhem” and “controlled madness,” “extreme theater” and “a mayfly” — the latter because it’s here and gone in a day.The popular annual event is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying for the dozens of theater folk who take part in it, and pretty much the same for the audiences who flock to it.It’s the 24-Hour Theater Project, a no-net high-wire act in which six plays are written, rehearsed and...

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Cinemadope: Pedaling Up a Mountain While Playing the Keyboard
Jun12

Cinemadope: Pedaling Up a Mountain While Playing the Keyboard

This week, bicyclists (okay, you power walkers can come, too) get a film festival devoted to that sense of freedom when the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival comes to the Academy of Music in Northampton for a Thursday evening screening.Now in its eighth year, the Ciclismo is the only festival in the U.S. that trains its lens specifically on bike travel, but the stories it highlights are not just for bikers — they are for...

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Valley Show Girl: Stoned to Death II
Jun12

Valley Show Girl: Stoned to Death II

I walked into the entrance of The Arts Block Ballroom on Main Street in Greenfield to soundchecking and friendly, familiar faces. With a couple of hellos’ and hugs, I paid the $20 for the 2nd Annual Stoned To Death fest, put on by Promotorhead Entertainment, and melted into the crowd.Originally known as The Arts Block, the venue had changed its name this past May to The Arts Block Ballroom when the entire building became Hawks and...

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The Pour Man: One Wine To Lure Them All
Jun12

The Pour Man: One Wine To Lure Them All

The Original Dark Horse is a gateway wine, according to a recently published article in Forbes magazine.The brand is designed to gradually wean inexperienced millennials from beer, cider and stuff that comes in jugs and hook them into pricier wine offerings.Once they start drinking better wines at lower prices, marketers believe, millennials will move on to more expensive wines fancied by older generations whose ranks are...

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The V-Spot: How To Be Curvy And Confident
Jun12

The V-Spot: How To Be Curvy And Confident

Hi Yana!I’m a chubby cis-woman in my late 20s. I lately worked through struggling with my body image and relationship to food while healing from years of disordered eating. I’ve been doing really well lately, but sadly one of the things that used to trigger my eating disorder was negative body talk from my family in regards to romantic relationships (i.e. you’ll always be alone because you’re fat).I’m still in therapy, but I was...

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Stagestruck: “Million Dollar” Duo
Jun12

Stagestruck: “Million Dollar” Duo

As it happens, two different productions of the same show open on area stages on the same day this week. On Wednesday, Million Dollar Quartet premieres in the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, and the Majestic Theater in West Springield revives its sold-out hit from last fall.Here’s a revised version of my review of the Majestic’s original production: You could call Million Dollar Quartet...

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The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us
Jun05

The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us

Any out-of-towner who would guess Western Mass has a quiet craft beer scene is bound for a rude, brewed awakening. But even locals may be surprised at the scope of the second annual Western Mass Beer Week, which runs June 10-17. Last year’s series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants around the Valley attracted 35 businesses, which hosted (by my count) 52 events. This year, more than 50 businesses are participating in 70...

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Basemental: Dump Him’s New Record Is Really Freaking Good
Jun05

Basemental: Dump Him’s New Record Is Really Freaking Good

Editor’s note: Jaclyn Walsh uses they/them pronouns.Valley musician, student, and DIY booker Jaclyn Walsh wants you to dump your boyfriend so much that they named their band Dump Him.On the surface such a statement might charm the misandrists and queercore punks more than it appeals to standard bearing capitalist-hetero-patriarchs. But to only look so far would be to miss the point — or the attitude and ethic behind the band. Just...

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Cinemadope: City Mouse, Rat Film exposes who the rodents really are in Baltimore
Jun05

Cinemadope: City Mouse, Rat Film exposes who the rodents really are in Baltimore

Fans of filmmaker John Waters might be familiar with the director’s odd fascination with rats. They crop up with some regularity in his life and work — from the original poster for 1977’s Desperate Living, which featured a cooked rat on a restaurant dinner plate, to the opening scenes of his film Pecker some two decades later, which zoomed in on a pair of the rodents in flagrante delicto, the humble rat has become Waters’ spirit...

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V-Spot: How Do I Ask Him to Rim?
Jun05

V-Spot: How Do I Ask Him to Rim?

I’ve been with my husband for a long time and there’s one thing in the bed we did kind of once that I’d like to do again, but I feel weird about asking for it. Basically, I want to be rimmed, but as this is something I would not want to do for him, I feel like I can’t ask it of him for me. I mean, poop comes from there! and yet, it feels amazing (we did it once on a drunken night years ago). How do I ask my husband for this? Is it...

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Down To Earth: The Valley’s Own Dinosaur Tracker
Jun05

Down To Earth: The Valley’s Own Dinosaur Tracker

As we struggle with tough questions surrounding science today, we could do worse than look for guidance to the great figures of the past.One such figure, it turns out, belongs to our own Pioneer Valley, and many argue he’s received too little attention:  Edward Hitchcock, geologist, botanist, minister, teacher, and president of Amherst College from 1845 to 1854.I first encountered Hitchcock during a field trip as a geology student at...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Destory All Monsters’
Jun05

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: ‘Destory All Monsters’

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. First case in point: The just-released King Arthur was carefully groomed to be a blockbuster but flopped spectacularly at the box office. Second case in point: After I decided to review another movie of this ilk — Gods of Egypt — my not-quite-legit DVD froze up halfway through. I took that to be a sign from the gods, who apparently wanted to spare me the sight of Gerald Butler trying to walk like...

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Stagestruck: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive! and Playing in Amherst – Times Two
May30

Stagestruck: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive! and Playing in Amherst – Times Two

“We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.” That line, spoken by a traveling player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, could well be the elevator pitch for Tom Stoppard’s audaciously meta-theatrical play. Because that’s what it is: a backstage tour of Hamlet conducted by the pair of pawns who are summoned by the king to...

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Stagestruck: Radical Notions, ‘Kunstler’ and ‘Heartbreak House’
May28

Stagestruck: Radical Notions, ‘Kunstler’ and ‘Heartbreak House’

In my column in last week’s Advocate, a preview of the Valley’s summer-theater season, I reported that many of the area’s upcoming shows reflect, indirectly or explicitly, “the political landscape we are all traversing these days.” Sure enough, the first two summer shows out of the gate – not in the Valley but in Pittsfield and Hartford – do indeed invite, and in one case compel, reflections on our perilous present day through the...

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Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch
May30

Cinemadope: Mad Max ‘Black & Chrome’ Escapes Hollywood’s Color Crutch

There has been a trend in Hollywood filmmaking that, for the last decade or so, has steadily changed the look of our blockbusters. It’s a pervasive change, but one that has happened gradually enough that many people aren’t even aware that it has been happening, quite literally in front of their eyes. So then, a warning: If you haven’t noticed, and don’t want the way you look at movies to be changed forever, skip the next paragraph.The...

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Valley Show Girl: Queer Punk Rocks at Flywheel in Easthampton
May30

Valley Show Girl: Queer Punk Rocks at Flywheel in Easthampton

One of my all-time favorite venues to see local bands will always be Flywheel’s first location. The alternative performing arts space first opened in 1999 on Holyoke Street in downtown Easthampton. During the early 2000’s, it was my sanctuary. I met so many people in those years attending these DIY-styled shows. It’s one of the places that made me fall in love with live music and performance art.Since the 15-plus years since I first...

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Easthampton ‘Acroyoga’: A Fun, Interactive Path To Inner Peace
May30

Easthampton ‘Acroyoga’: A Fun, Interactive Path To Inner Peace

My shoulders and arms stretched backward like wings, I couldn’t help feeling like Rose from Titanic, and a grin spread across my face as I said: “I’m flying!”On a recent Friday I gave acroyoga a shot and it was the most fun I’ve had in while. Live music played beside the acroyoga group of about 10 people at Mill 180 Park in Easthampton, joined by a Facebook group and a Meetup page.The phenomenon is taking hold internationally with...

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The Pour Man: Purple Heart Won My Heart
May30

The Pour Man: Purple Heart Won My Heart

Generally, I’m reluctant to get overly excited about wines with a cause. They often seem like gimmicky marketing ploys to promote less than stellar wines by pulling on your philanthropic heart strings.But every rule has a few exceptions: A couple of years ago I recommended Chateau La Paws, which gives money to no-kill shelters for cats and dogs.Purple Heart, too, is worth recommending because it’s a very good wine, and there’s the...

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V-Spot: How To Make Your Own Lube
May30

V-Spot: How To Make Your Own Lube

Editor’s Note: While V-Spot sex pert Yana Tallon-Hicks is away on vacation, the Advocate is re-running one of her most popular columns ever, a 2013 story on how to make sexual lubrication, “Farmers Lube,” using household items.On my kitchen counter is a glass jar that used to contain Teddy Bear Peanut Butter. It now has a gooey yellowish substance in it, pock-marked with finger-scoop tracks. On the jar’s green lid is a pink Post-It...

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‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)
May22

‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)

Amherst College junior Brian Zayatz’s new documentary, Ask a Punk, opens on a dark basement. You can’t see much other than some hazy Christmas lights in the frame. Some very involved yet calming music — tritones soaked in reverb — plays in the background.This basement in Hadley, along with others throughout the Valley and beyond, could have been finished and furnished with a crisp flat screen, but instead its brick walls are being...

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Stream Queen: Move over, ‘The Breakfast Club’ Titles for all of life’s graduations (w/vid)
May22

Stream Queen: Move over, ‘The Breakfast Club’ Titles for all of life’s graduations (w/vid)

Graduation season is upon us, as high schoolers gear up for the next vein of adulthood and university students steel themselves for the real world, whatever that is. Fresh from a weekend of back-to-back college graduations myself, I can’t help but contemplate the great universal human experience that is the major life transition. We all know what it’s like to start a new chapter, whatever that may entail, and just how...

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Summer Stage Preview, Part II: Theaters on the Move
May22

Summer Stage Preview, Part II: Theaters on the Move

Editor’s Note: Here’s the Summer Stage Preview Part I, about the Berkshires.These days, Sam Rush often finds himself using the punning phrase “Home is where the art is.” That’s because his company, New Century Theatre, having lost its longtime home at Smith College in Northampton, is mounting a reduced summer season on two Valley stages while searching for a permanent abode. For now, though, he’s determined to feel “at...

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Cinemadope: Northampton Movie Night
May22

Cinemadope: Northampton Movie Night

An evening in Northampton has never been boring. Meet your date for a cocktail or a glass of wine, move on to dinner at any number of downtown bites, catch a concert, go to an art opening. Stroll the streets, duck into the renovated Pulaski Park, circle Paradise Pond on the Smith campus. They weren’t kidding when they settled on “walk into something wonderful” as the slogan for downtown.But get the itch to see a movie, and your...

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Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide
May22

Growing Your Own Weed In Massachusetts: A How-To Guide

With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, many people with green thumbs are preparing to put their saplings and seeds into the ground — the beginnings of this season’s garden. It’s usually the same old stuff: tomatoes, green beans, peppers, berries, carrots. But this year there will be an exciting, new addition to many home gardens: the gloriously stank-n-dank flower cannabis.Massachusetts is in a hazy space with marijuana at the...

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The V-Spot: Does That Guy Ask Everyone Out?
May22

The V-Spot: Does That Guy Ask Everyone Out?

Where is the line between “If you like someone, ask them out!” and “Oh, that guy asks everyone out”???— Master DaterFrom your question, it sounds like you like a lot of people. Maybe you’re getting some flack for that from friends or foes? True, you don’t want to make your potential dates feel somehow unspecial because they saw you on campus asking out everyone else around you — and left them as the 24th person you’ve asked out in a...

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Summer Stage Preview — Part I: The Berkshires
May15

Summer Stage Preview — Part I: The Berkshires

Most theaters in this region have only two seasons: summer and the rest of the year. None of the area’s professional companies are truly year-round. Some focus on intensive summer repertories of multiple shows with two- and three-week runs, while others produce only occasionally or mount fall-to-spring seasons with longer runs. “Intensive” and “multiple” are the key terms here. At least two-thirds of my annual theatergoing happens in...

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Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)
May15

Cinemadope: It’s Going to Be a Damn Fine Reboot, and FREE Streaming Movies )w/vid)

Amherst Cinema is gearing up for the return of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Kyle MacLachlan returns to TV this week in his early role as Cooper, the FBI man who got tied up in the death of Laura Palmer and the mysteries of Twin Peaks when the show of the same name first aired in the early 1990s on ABC. I was in high school then, and watching the original was a life-changer: it was dark and weird and funny and sweet in a way nothing had...

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Valley Show Girl: Alt Jazz With The Greys at The Still in Agawam (w/vid)
May15

Valley Show Girl: Alt Jazz With The Greys at The Still in Agawam (w/vid)

A couple of weeks ago on The Still’s Instagram page they posted a beautiful picture of a mint julep. I’ve never had one, but always wanted to try the drink simply because that’s what they drank in The Great Gatsby. So, when I saw that The Greys were playing at The Still, I was like “Yes! I get to drink a mint julep while listening to jazz, so Daisy Buchanan of me.” And that I did. Although, I learned I don’t like mint juleps, but I do...

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The V-Spot: Should I Dump My Triad?
May15

The V-Spot: Should I Dump My Triad?

I’m a bisexual woman and I’m the third wheel to a married bisexual male couple. We’ve been dating for about a year-and-a-half and so far things have been running pretty smoothly. We see each other two or three times a week for dates, group sex, and just regular hanging out. I have casual sex with other people and am available to date, but just haven’t done that with anyone else yet.Okay, so here’s the issue: Sometimes I feel sort of...

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The Pour Man: Summer is for Rosé
May15

The Pour Man: Summer is for Rosé

The rosé season is upon us, and a glass of Laurent Miquel’s Pere et Fils pale-pink wine is an excellent choice for welcoming warmer weather or enjoying while sitting on the porch and watching the sunset.Although Provence is France’s premier region for rosé, this dry, low-alcohol blend of Cinsault and Syrah red wine grapes from Languedoc is beautifully structured with fresh fruit flavors and a crisp, smooth finish that holds its own...

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