The Beerhunter: Would You Like Squid With That?
Nov06

The Beerhunter: Would You Like Squid With That?

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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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’...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Moldovan wine a welcome invasion from former Soviet Union
Oct16

Moldovan wine a welcome invasion from former Soviet Union

You already know that Russia hacked our election. What you might not have heard is how Russia has also inadvertently hacked our American wine market. And the two main culprits currently under investigation are from Agawam, the husband and wife team of Andrei Birsan and Daria Ratnikova from VinDistributors. Daria is originally from Moscow and Andrei is from Moldova. Moldova? Is that another country made-up by our Russian-compromised...

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Stream Queen: Shudder Offers Thrills and Chills for Cheap
Oct16

Stream Queen: Shudder Offers Thrills and Chills for Cheap

If you’re anything like me, you’ve shuffled through the Horror section on Netflix, glassy-eyed yet hopeful that somehow, while you weren’t looking, they added something worth watching. It feels like you’ve seen everything in this section worth seeing, and next month they’ll just take away something good and replace it with Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. You barely even check Hulu anymore, because you know the selection is even more...

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Cinemadope: Blank’s Canvas
Oct16

Cinemadope: Blank’s Canvas

In his four-plus decades of filmmaking, director Les Blank (1935-2013) embodied the best of American documentary filmmaking. While his best-known work remains Burden of Dreams (a wild look at the insanity that was the production of his fellow director and friend Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo), his true impact comes from not one film, but from his wide-ranging view of American culture. Training his camera on smaller pockets of...

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V-Spot: No Place for Your O-Face
Oct16

V-Spot: No Place for Your O-Face

Dear Yana, I recently had an ~interesting~ first sexual encounter with a man. We had been talking for a couple weeks and it was our second date, and it was all going pretty well. So far we seem to connect pretty well on an intellectual level and there was some great intimacy build up (read: massive sexual tension-filled cuddling while watching a movie). Though it took us a second to kind of get on the same kissing level, after a while...

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The Beerhunter: A Crafty New Crop
Oct09

The Beerhunter: A Crafty New Crop

Stone Cow Brewing helps keep an old dairy farm going Massachusetts used to be covered in dairy farms. But industries change with the times. “You can’t really make it in New England solely as a dairy farmer anymore,” says Sean DuBois. “Wholesale milk prices have really fallen off a cliff.” DuBois lives in Barre, a rural Worcester County town chock-full of scenic views of Central Mass. It serves as a quiet mirror image of Valley...

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Stagestruck — Fall Harvest: A Bumper Crop of Valley Shows
Oct09

Stagestruck — Fall Harvest: A Bumper Crop of Valley Shows

At the end of summer, there’s a pause before the fall season unfolds — or rather, explodes. Suddenly, this weekend and next there’s a bumper crop of shows in an abundance of Valley venues. By my count, no fewer than seven productions are on hand — 21 if you count the 15-act Double Take Festival next weekend. And they come in as many shapes and varieties as the leaves on the season’s glorious trees. Let’s begin with Albatross, this...

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Basemental: Smartyr Packs Political Punches in its Short Punky Songs
Oct09

Basemental: Smartyr Packs Political Punches in its Short Punky Songs

Stretched between Brattleboro and Northampton, a new band, Smartyr, has come on the scene. I kept running into Chad, the main singer, at shows starting last summer. He had left behind his New Haven, CT-based band, The Chore Boys, and moved to Northampton. Every time I ran into him — at shows or the grocery store where he works — he’d insist that this was the month he was going to get a new project off the ground and start playing...

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Down to Earth: Are Maples Next On Climate Change’s Chopping Block?
Oct09

Down to Earth: Are Maples Next On Climate Change’s Chopping Block?

No living being on this Earth symbolizes my childhood and its joys more clearly than the maple. In my backyard as a child, my favorite climbing tree was a slender sugar maple right at the farthest edge of the back woods. I’d shimmy up the branches and feel the tree hold me like a second mother. My dog, a constant companion to me until I was 15, would settle resignedly at its base to wait for me to come down. The tree would sway...

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Cinemadope: Films Fulfilling Three Kinds of Dread
Oct09

Cinemadope: Films Fulfilling Three Kinds of Dread

It’s October in New England, and that means it’s time for some annual traditions. Some are timeless, passed down through the generations—apple picking, hayrides—while others are more recent, and hopefully less long-lasting—the inane back and forth bickering of the warring pumpkin spice factions. (Seriously, people, it’s okay for someone to like something that you don’t.) But for many, at least in my circles, October means just one...

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Valley V-Spot: Facing Jelly as a Poly
Oct09

Valley V-Spot: Facing Jelly as a Poly

Hi Yana, I’m newly in a poly triangle with two dear friends. We’re all very open about how we view partnership and love in all forms, and I didn’t hold any jealousy for their relationship until recently. Before I was a part of the relationship I wasn’t at all jealous that “Josie” was spending all her time with “Katie” and would hang out with me when convenient. Because to me they were in a relationship and I was a friend. Now that...

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Stagestruck: “Tuna” on Wry − Lake Wobegon, Texas-style
Oct03

Stagestruck: “Tuna” on Wry − Lake Wobegon, Texas-style

One way to put a big play on a small stage and stay on budget is by having two actors play all the parts. In Silverthorne Theater Company’s current offering, that’s not a cost-cutting shortcut, it’s the key concept. Greater Tuna, playing this weekend and next, introduces 20 stranger-than-life denizens of Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas, all played with bigger-than-life vigor by Julian Findlay and John Reese. This...

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Valley Show Girl: The Neon Oxen
Oct02

Valley Show Girl: The Neon Oxen

On the first fall evening that actually felt like fall I walk into the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence just in time to catch soundcheck for the first band, Holyoke’s stoner psych-rock, Oxen. Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Oxen’s first EP The Glass Coffin was my first music review, almost 4 years ago. That was when I realized, not only do I love music, I love writing about it, experiencing it. The now 3-piece are...

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Monte Belmonte Wines – Cooler Than You: Portuguese Wines
Oct02

Monte Belmonte Wines – Cooler Than You: Portuguese Wines

What’s a hipster’s favorite wine grape varietal? I mean, it’s wicked obscure, you’ve probably never heard of it. I’ve adapted one of my favorite hipster jokes to highlight one of the still obscure, I-knew-these-wines-before-they-sold-out regions: Portugal. Portugal as a country is still a bit of a mystery to me — it’s the country from where the families of all the non-Italian, non-Irish Catholics I knew growing up had their roots. But...

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The V-Spot: Healing an Ex-Shaped Hole in the Heart
Oct02

The V-Spot: Healing an Ex-Shaped Hole in the Heart

It’s been over a year now since I got my heart stomped by my ex-girlfriend. We were together for 11 years and our relationship ended very badly. Even after such a long term relationship, I’m still pretty young — in my mid-30s — and I’m pretty sure I’m a catch. But, every time I go out with someone from OKCupid, I never want to see them again. They all seem totally unhinged and just not like anyone I would want to date, casually or...

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Cinemadope: Dick Pics
Oct02

Cinemadope: Dick Pics

It would be unfair to the memory of Philip K. Dick to say that he’s having a resurgence. The author, who passed away at the age of 53 in 1982, has been more visible than usual of late thanks to a few headline grabbing adaptations, most notably the sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 and the Amazon-produced series The Man in the High Castle (built on Dick’s 1962 novel that spun out a world in which the Allies had lost WWII, and the Nazis...

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‘E’-asy Come.. ‘E’-asy Go: The Big E’s final weekend and more
Sep29

‘E’-asy Come.. ‘E’-asy Go: The Big E’s final weekend and more

Still haven’t secured your Maine baked spud or lobster-laden Mac N’ Cheese from the New Hampshire building? Better hurry. Its almost time to shepherd the Clydesdales back into the trailers and put the burlap sacks of the Giant Slide in mothballs. But that still doesn’t mean all hope is lost in terms of checking out some solid, “free with admission” musical sets by so notable names at The Eastern States...

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O Cannabis: A How-To Guide to Harvesting Weed
Sep25

O Cannabis: A How-To Guide to Harvesting Weed

You can smell fall in the air — and in Massachusetts the aroma is a lot danker than usual. This October will mark the first major outdoor weed harvest since people ages 21 and up were given the green light to legally grow marijuana in Massachusetts on Dec. 15, 2016. In May, I wrote a how-to-grow guide and it feels fitting to follow that up with a how-to on harvesting. I spoke with cannabis artist Marty Klein of Easthampton and medical...

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