Stream Queen: Personal Documentary (The Real Alternative Facts)
Mar13

Stream Queen: Personal Documentary (The Real Alternative Facts)

There are a lot of zippy phrases floating around right now that blur the concept of journalistic integrity — “fake news,” “alternative facts,” “White House press secretary Sean Spicer” — but in the film world, objectivity and performance coalesce into a kind of honestly biased duet. Despite its journalistic nature, even documentary filmmaking demands a viewpoint, which the director must decide to tease out through interviews and the...

Read More
Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker
Mar13

Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker

Pavement certainly planted some type of “slacker” flag in the 90s. Whether or not they were the original “slackers” — they weren’t — is irrelevant, but that label has often evoked that band. Today the same label, certainly a compelling angle for write-ups, is attached to acts like Melbourne, Australia’s Courtney Barnett, Boston’s Palehound, and now Northampton’s Hammydown because they make music that references “slacker rock.” But...

Read More
The V-Spot: I’m Hot; He’s Cold: Clash of the Libidos
Mar13

The V-Spot: I’m Hot; He’s Cold: Clash of the Libidos

I recently started dating somebody who ticks nearly all of the “right” boxes for me. This is the first time since breaking up with my sweetheart of over two years that I’ve felt this way, and it’s really exciting. There’s only one hiccup: He prefers to cuddle; I’d have sex twice a day if I could.We talked about this shortly after we started seeing each other, and it seems like things are workable, at least for...

Read More
Cinemadope: Perfect 10
Mar13

Cinemadope: Perfect 10

Talk about the American Dream, and one of the first things that will likely come up is the idea of owning your own home. To be sure, having a house of one’s own brings with it a host of benefits — if you have kids, for instance, cleaning all those rooms every day means you can skip a gym membership — but sometimes there is something lost in the rush to find our own walled castles.Before I came to the Valley, I lived in a series of...

Read More
The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava
Mar13

The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava

Lunetta Prosecco is one of the hottest sparkling wine brands on the American market, and there’s a good reasonta why — it’s well-made, inexpensive and widely available, an excellent wine to celebrate. It also is lower than many wines in alcohol, about 11.5 percent, so it’s a pleasant companion to take to a party and, unless you over indulge, it won’t give you a headache in the morning. In the past, sparkling wines weren’t my go-to...

Read More
Valley Show Girl: Krewe Les Gras at Theodore’s
Mar06

Valley Show Girl: Krewe Les Gras at Theodore’s

I consider myself a musical schizophrenic. I can get into just about any genre you put in front of me — especially if it’s live. I may not be a musician, but music has been a passionate subject for me for as long as I can remember. One of the first local shows I went to when I was about 18 or so, was Hypnotic Kick and All That Remains at the Fat Cat Bar and Grill in Springfield. I soon became a regular at their hardcore nights on...

Read More
The Beerhunter: Vanished Valley Brewing Company in Ludlow
Mar06

The Beerhunter: Vanished Valley Brewing Company in Ludlow

Local homebrewer Josh Britton scales up with a low-key launchOn quiet winter days between reports of Valley craft beer happenings, your friendly neighborhood Beerhunter has been wandering a bit further afield. Over the past few months, I’ve written articles about my stop-ins at breweries in Worcester, Hartford, and northern Connecticut.But home is where the heart is. So on Instagram the other day, my scrolling thumb paused, hovering...

Read More
Stagestruck: A.R.T.’s “Night of the Iguana” Revives a Minor Classic
Mar06

Stagestruck: A.R.T.’s “Night of the Iguana” Revives a Minor Classic

Some of those leaving the American Repertory Theater’s current production must be surprised and baffled, not to mention disappointed. On my way out of the Cambridge theater on opening night, I overheard a man asking, “Why did James Earl Jones have such a small part?” I was asking the same question myself.The show is Tennessee Williams’ steamy 1961 drama The Night of the Iguana. It’s directed by Michael Wilson, who led Hartford Stage...

Read More
Cinemadope: In Plain Sight
Mar06

Cinemadope: In Plain Sight

Over the last few months, it has become impossible to ignore the rising tides of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry and hatred that have suddenly made America a much scarier place for so many of those who call it home. Of course, these prejudices aren’t new — for a nation founded by people fleeing persecution, we sure have done a damn lot of persecuting ourselves — but they are certainly out in the daylight in a way they...

Read More
The V-Spot: Am I in a Healthy Open Relationship?
Mar06

The V-Spot: Am I in a Healthy Open Relationship?

I’m in a happy, long-distance monogam-ish relationship with the human of my dreams. Really; things are so good. This is my first time having an open relationship, and I think we talk through things really well and effectively. He has several partners — all of which I’ve met and adore — and I can say really genuinely that I’m happy that he has these other sexual relationships in his life. The thing is, even though I was the person to...

Read More
Cinemadope: Wolverine’s Back — For the Last Time
Feb27

Cinemadope: Wolverine’s Back — For the Last Time

We Americans are a nostalgic bunch. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just that we are still such a young nation — there are Italian cafes that are older than our whole country — that we like to fool ourselves into thinking we have more history than we do. Or maybe, when things are particularly desperate, we just need the comfort of pretending that things haven’t always been so bad. And so we have our Facebook memories, our Timehops, our...

Read More
The V-Spot: How Do We Get the Mood Back?
Feb27

The V-Spot: How Do We Get the Mood Back?

Hi Yana,My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time. We moved in together six months ago into our new home in New Mexico. But, I’m really not feeling our sex life lately. I feel bad because my boyfriend is amazing, but I’m never ever in the mood to have sex. Lately, we have sex once a month and it’s only because I feel bad so I just pretend. Is there anything I can do? We’re a rather conservative couple,...

Read More
The Pour Man: Blown Away by this Cabernet
Feb27

The Pour Man: Blown Away by this Cabernet

Part of the fun of writing this column is that I often need to look for largely undiscovered, good affordable wines. It’s a quest that I enjoy and that can be rewarding when I do find something that’s new and exciting in the sea of wines on the market. I recently tried Fortant Cabernet Sauvignon, and I was blown away. The finely crafted wine is light, dry and refreshing with layers of bright flavors. It is relatively low in alcohol...

Read More
Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?
Feb27

Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?

Pioneer Valley Underground brings new voices to DIY coverageBack in 1999, thousands descended into downtown Seattle for protests against the World Trade Organization, dubbed “The Battle of Seattle.” Not only did protesters successfully get a frank discussion about globalization into the news, but they also left a legacy that many don’t remember: Indymedia, the first national network of citizens who used the internet to tell their own...

Read More
Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Last Dinosaur
Feb27

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Last Dinosaur

Many winters ago, in 1977 to be precise, a friend and I were invited to a party. As luck would have it, we were the only males present. To top it off, the girls wanted to try the old game of spin the bottle. Chumps that my friend and I were, we decided we would rather catch the premiere of a movie on TV called The Last Dinosaur. Mind you, this was way before the days of cable, or even VCRs, so our feeble minds thought this was a big...

Read More
Stream Queen: Animation Staycation
Feb20

Stream Queen: Animation Staycation

As far as media genres go, animation is one that rarely gets its due. Cartoons enchant us as children, but are then left in the past, their artistry and potential forgotten. But whether on your laptop or your Saturday morning television screen, good animation can make us laugh, cry, or learn the entire plot of Hamlet at a young age (here’s lookin’ at you, Simba).Animation studios can define the genre for their respective generations....

Read More
Stagestruck: Woman on the Edge
Feb20

Stagestruck: Woman on the Edge

For a 19th-century male, Henrik Ibsen was quite the feminist. His best-known play, A Doll’s House, ends with one of the theater’s most famous sound effects as his protagonist, Nora Helmer, leaves her stifling marriage with the finality of a slamming door.An equally definitive offstage bang concludes Ibsen’s other great marital drama, Hedda Gabler. While his title character is not at all like Nora, and her final action an even more...

Read More
Cinemadope: The Short List
Feb20

Cinemadope: The Short List

It’s easy, when Oscars season rolls around, to feel jaded about the cult of celebrity that Hollywood engenders. It can seem that the same kinds of films, and the same kinds of stars, come away with the golden statue every year. But if we’re still waiting for the Academy to wake up to the wider world of film when it comes to the biggest awards, some categories — and not just the foreign film selections — have long seemed more open to...

Read More
O, Cannabis! Get Weed Now — No Medical Card Required, if you know where to go
Feb20

O, Cannabis! Get Weed Now — No Medical Card Required, if you know where to go

Standing outside a strip mall in Springfield, I pull on the handle of the double-deadbolted door of a storefront with dark windows and a paper green arrow that says “Herbs” hanging under the company sign, but it doesn’t budge.I can hear men inside talking and laughing, so I give a knock and stare straight into the camera above the door, hoping there’s something in my face that will let the bouncer know I’m cool. Nothing. Do I need to...

Read More
The V-Spot: My Boyfriend Might Be Gay. Should I Care?
Feb20

The V-Spot: My Boyfriend Might Be Gay. Should I Care?

I recently began “dating” my best guy friend over this winter break. He’s told me that he was raised by a super religious mom and that when he was younger he “rebelled,” and experimented with other men, which he blamed on his homophobic upbringing. He told me he’s had sex with another man, but has since concluded that he was straight. I didn’t ask many questions other than, “So, do you think you’re gay?” to which he responded, “No,...

Read More
Stagestruck: Sitting Targets
Feb17

Stagestruck: Sitting Targets

Years ago, when I was living in England, one day the doorbell rang and there stood two painfully clean-cut young men in white dress shirts, narrow ties and pearly smiles.“Hello!” one of them grinned, holding up a serious-looking volume. “My name is Elder Smith, this is Elder Jones, and we would like to share with you this most amazing book.”They were, of course, Mormons, posted to London for their two-year missionary tour of duty....

Read More
Basemental Music Review: Thee Arcadians
Feb13

Basemental Music Review: Thee Arcadians

December brought with it not one, not two, but three releases from Florence psych punks Thee Arcadians — Ian St. George on guitar, Nico Lapinski on bass, and Elliot Hartmann-Russell on drums. Sure, it sounds like maybe they just put up a mic in band practice, but there is an ocean of material that demonstrates musical depth, musical sea creatures, and musical water pollution. Whether or not said ocean is acidified is up for listeners...

Read More
The Pour Man: What a Character, Estancia Chardonnay
Feb13

The Pour Man: What a Character, Estancia Chardonnay

Legendary winemaker Agustin Huneeus started Estancia Estates at the old Paul Masson winery near Soledad, California, in 1986 with the idea of producing top quality wines at reasonable prices.And since Huneeus is a pretty smart guy with a sophisticated palate and a keen sense for business, it didn’t take him long to turn Estancia into a respected and successful label.Although the Chilean-born Huneeus, who also rescued Concha y Toro and...

Read More
The V-Spot: How to Have a Discussion about Self Lovin’
Feb13

The V-Spot: How to Have a Discussion about Self Lovin’

I’m a 19-year-old male college student. I just started to masturbate, but I don’t know how other people will react if I get into a relationship with them and tell them about this. I would like to know how to be fully comfortable with pleasuring myself as well as see how to bring up masturbation in a relationship. Thank you! — Seeking Masturbation without Hesitation I’m reading your question in two different ways: the first is “How do...

Read More
A Video Bouquet for Valentine’s Day
Feb06

A Video Bouquet for Valentine’s Day

Recommendations for a romantic night inWhether or not you’re settling down with a significant other on Valentine’s Day, you’ll probably end up watching something. That’s due less to our media-ridden culture and more to the fact that this year’s holiday happens on the sexiest day of the week: Tuesday.Luckily for you, there’s more than enough movies, TV shows, and various other media out there that span the spectrum of romance. Want to...

Read More
Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2017
Feb06

Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2017

Local brewers share their predictions and plansLast year, the Beerhunter offered some “brew year’s resolutions” to serve as a checklist for craft beer enthusiasts on a year-long quest to try new things. This year, it seemed prudent to put the question to the brewers themselves. I asked them: what might craft beer lovers expect to see from you this year? In other words: what are your new year’s resolutions? Many responded with exciting...

Read More
Stream Queen: From Golden Statues to Small Screens
Feb06

Stream Queen: From Golden Statues to Small Screens

There are few mediums more powerful than the moving image. Movies, TV shows, and even music videos can transport viewers to another time, place, or lifetime. I love cinema but, with so few compelling female/LGBT characters (my favorite kinds) in mainstream titles, I have become something of an expert at ferreting out niche media. In the age of warring streaming services, that means I’ve consumed vast portions of the Internet.Those of...

Read More
Cinemadope: The Venice Ghetto – 500 Years of Life
Feb06

Cinemadope: The Venice Ghetto – 500 Years of Life

Every year at Oscar time we get a speech about the power of visual effects and their ability to “capture the magic in our mind” or some such thing, followed by a green-screen montage of dragons, space aliens, and transforming cars that are also space aliens. Don’t get me wrong: great effects can make a movie magical. But without a story that we care about, even the best effects are just lightning trying to reanimate the dead. The true...

Read More
The V-Spot: Open Sex, Closed Convos
Feb06

The V-Spot: Open Sex, Closed Convos

I’ve been in an on-again/off-again, oftentimes long-distance, relationship with my for-now ex-boyfriend for six years. Right now we have a “when we’re together, we’re together” arrangement and we’ve defined our relationship as open in the past.Well, things are shifting again and we’re thinking about moving toward being more seriously together, but still long-distance and open. If we decide to get back together, I’d like one of my...

Read More
Down to Earth: The Power of Nurture, the Antidote to Fear
Feb06

Down to Earth: The Power of Nurture, the Antidote to Fear

Nurturing. It’s so often a feminine term, bringing thoughts of mothers, sisters, daughters; of Gaia, the Mother Earth. For a synonym, my thesaurus gives me “motherly.” It’s a term linked, too, with gentleness and tenderness, which in turn are associated with deference, docility and mildness. But in the past few weeks, I’ve seen nurturing become an act of strength — an act of resistance and assertiveness. And not just for women. On...

Read More
Out of Their Comfort Zones
Feb03

Out of Their Comfort Zones

Two shows this week find performers venturing beyond the usual parameters of their craft. At UMass, students in the music department’s Opera Workshop take on Gilbert and Sullivan, and in Northampton, stage actors meet improvisers in a mashup of scripts and ad libs.On Sunday at the Academy of Music, the Happier Valley Comedy troupe teams up with New Century Theatre actors in Making Up Love, putting a new spin on Happier Valley’s...

Read More
Stagestruck: Identity Crises
Jan31

Stagestruck: Identity Crises

The two shows now playing at Hartford’s rep theaters couldn’t be more different, but they still share some core themes. They are Shakespeare’s rambunctious, large-cast Comedy of Errors, at Hartford Stage, and Dominique Morisseau’s small, intense contemporary drama Sunset Baby, at TheaterWorks. Both run through February 19.What they share, expressed in diametric ways, are a focus on lost or estranged parents and their children, and...

Read More
Cinemadope: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
Jan30

Cinemadope: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

Building a WallOver the last few years, a regular appointment in Boston meant that I was frequently traveling along Route 2 between Franklin County and the Hub. It was more convenient than driving south to hook up with the Pike, and more picturesque, even if it did mean losing cell service now and again. I got used to it, and before long it felt little different than my commute to Northampton along Route 5. But however many times I...

Read More
Basemental: new album by Cousin Moon, reviewed
Jan30

Basemental: new album by Cousin Moon, reviewed

When I started at Hampshire College in 2010, there was this cool band of upperclassmen that kind of blew my mind. They were called Pale Cowboy. They had jazz influences, but it was clear that making irresistible pop music was their thing. One song won me over, which was later released on their first two EPs: 2012’s Life Nature Library and 2013’s Shelter. It’s “Don’t Wanna Discuss,” a catchy, driving little pop song which has prescient...

Read More
Third Eye-Roaming: Self-help and Farts, Local yogi and author writes ‘108 Prompts’ to improve your practice
Jan30

Third Eye-Roaming: Self-help and Farts, Local yogi and author writes ‘108 Prompts’ to improve your practice

Brian Leaf wants you to pass gas, audibly, in yoga class at least once.Why, you might ask? He says the practice reacquaints you with your humanity.The barrier-breaking suggestion is one of many in a new book written by local author Leaf, The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts to Power Your Yoga Practice. He calls it a “self-help book on intuition.” “I don’t want to turn people off with the semantics,” he says. “I don’t want to be like, ‘oh,...

Read More