What Are Those Flowering Trees/Bushes I Drive By Every Day?
May05

What Are Those Flowering Trees/Bushes I Drive By Every Day?

The bloom is on the branch and spring has sprung. And even in my short commute to work, I pass about a dozen varieties of flowering trees and bushes. It occurred to me that I haven’t the slightest idea what most of them are called.So I took out my phone and took a few photos on my way to work and reached out to some tree aficionados and a local expert at UMass Extension to help me out. What trees do you see in the Pioneer...

Read More
The V-Spot: My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t
Apr24

The V-Spot: My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t

Writer’s note: This column mentions depression and suicidality. When me and my BF first got together about a year and a half ago, we were having the best sex of our lives! Then I decided with the help of my therapist that I needed to be medicated due to suicidal thoughts and anxiety/depression. The medication helped a lot with my mental illness, but unfortunately it made my sex drive plummet. I was still able and happy to get my man...

Read More
Spring Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (April-June 2017)
Apr03

Spring Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (April-June 2017)

Tweet Puppets for the PeopleFrom its founding in New York’s Lower East Side in 1963 to its decades-long residence in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Bread & Puppet Theater remains one of the country’s most inventive and internationally recognized performing arts troupes. The company’s instantly familiar style of street theater shows — which mix music and dance with drama, puppetry, satire, and slapstick — are always a spectacle and,...

Read More
Third Eye Roaming: Yoga for cancer survivors: Calming the battle within
Mar20

Third Eye Roaming: Yoga for cancer survivors: Calming the battle within

Mary Kennedy of Northfield says she could barely move her neck before she began taking yoga with Pam Roberts at the YMCA in Greenfield about six years ago.Kennedy, a breast cancer survivor living with torticollis, a painfully twisted neck, says yoga has at times saved her, making her “stronger and stronger. Now, I can actually move my head to the right again. I have a quality of life I didn’t have before yoga.”Cancer is among the most...

Read More
The V-Spot: When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?
Mar20

The V-Spot: When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?

I recently saw a guy friend masturbating with lotion instead of lube and was wondering if lube would be a better alternative for him. If so, could you explain why? — A Little Help for My  Masturbating Friends One of my favorite conversations to strike up with my penis-equipped friends is: What ever did you do with your penis during your sexual exploration period? If I had had a penis during my teenaged sexual development ages, I’m...

Read More
Nightcrawler: Going Gentle Into That Good Night
Jan23

Nightcrawler: Going Gentle Into That Good Night

After more than two decades delivering the music news in print, Nightcrawler moves onlineEditor’s Note: Scene stalwart Gary Carra’s Nightcrawler column has long been a fixture at the Valley Advocate — a history that goes back, as he explains here, to the bygone era of Advocate branches in Springfield and New Haven. This week, his column transitions into a semi-regular blog on our refreshed and expanding website. Enjoy some farewell...

Read More
After Orlando: Short Plays Pay Respects on Friday night
Jan09

After Orlando: Short Plays Pay Respects on Friday night

Reflecting on a TragedyThe night of June 12, 2016, news of a horrific shooting unfolding in an Orlando gay nightclub sent shockwaves around the world, leaving collective heartbreak in its wake for the 49 lives cut cruelly short that fateful night. The pain cut especially deep in the Valley as one of the victims, Kimberley “KJ” Morris, lived and performed as drag king “Daddy K” in Northampton. Since then, there has been much somber...

Read More
Cinemadope: Is Spielberg Corny?
Jan09

Cinemadope: Is Spielberg Corny?

There are times when I look back on my youth and shake my head at my younger self. Mostly, it’s when I think about the dreck that was on in the after-school hours on the local UHF stations: sugar-cereal cartoons that were a 12-year-old’s forbidden fruit. It is with a heavy heart that I try to estimate the amount of time I spent glued, wide-eyed, to episodes of ThunderCats.But there are other stories from those days that have stayed...

Read More
Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: When Brad Pitt Was the Pits
Jan09

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: When Brad Pitt Was the Pits

Recently, I visited the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington where my sister and her family helped to lavishly decorate the rooms with Yuletide trimmings. Yet my mind was not on sugarplums. Instead, it was on the movie I knew I was going to review for this column, which is set in a very unfestive place.Brad Pitt currently stars in — and has received high critical marks for — the new movie Allied. But while I’m sure the...

Read More
A Mid-winter Night’s Read
Jan09

A Mid-winter Night’s Read

This weekend, Shakespeare & Company presents a Winter Studio Festival of Plays, five diverse readings as interpreted by five local directors. Works range from classics by playwrights like Anton Chekhov to established contemporaries like Sam Shepard and emerging talent like Emily DeVoti.Winter Studio Festival of Plays: Jan. 14-15, 1 p.m. Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre,70 Kemble St, Lenox. $10-$25. (413) 637-3353. shakespeare.org — Peter...

Read More
Jammin’ for Justice
Jan09

Jammin’ for Justice

Jammin’ for JusticeThe nonprofit Watermelon Wednesdays has been providing musical education and holding concerts for the past 17 years. This Wednesday, the group is putting on In It Together, a fundraiser for community, diversity, and social justice to benefit the Markham-Nathan Fund. Guests include Chris Brashear and Ben Demerath, Wisteria String Quartet, Charles Neville Quartet, Mister Sun, and Valley Jazz Divas and Friends.In...

Read More
Artists of a Feather
Jan09

Artists of a Feather

The Hosmer Gallery at the Forbes Library is hosting exhibitions this month from three talented local artists. Janice Doppler blends a love of ornithology and wood carving to create stunningly lifelike sculptures of a myriad of bird species, while Patricia Dorr Parker captures moments in nature through her Close to Home series of paintings and drawings. Finally, the paintings and drawings of Miriam Wells focus on American labor and...

Read More
Halos & Horns: Our 2016 List of Who’s Been Good or Bad… or Worse
Dec27

Halos & Horns: Our 2016 List of Who’s Been Good or Bad… or Worse

How Does This Work?Who on earth do we think we are, doling out judgement left and right? Find out here. The List HALOS // The People of East Longmeadow — For creating a seven-member Town Council in the wake of a coup on the now-defunct three-member Board of Selectmen. This March, two board members teamed up to overthrow the chairman and hire a new police chief and town administrator. During the annual town election in April, East...

Read More
Cinemadope: Wild Things
Dec19

Cinemadope: Wild Things

Director Garth Jennings has had an interesting, if short, career. Coming out of the gate with an adaptation of the Douglas Adams cult classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 2005, his first big film grossed many millions, starred people like Zooey Deschanel and John Malkovich, and opened its first weekend atop the North American box office. It seemed like a good start, even if you weren’t a fan of the Adams book.Two years...

Read More
Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)
Nov28

Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)

A Spirited Debate One of two things will happen to you when confronted with the bold and brassy acts of clairvoyance that Rebecca Anne LoCicero whips up onstage. One will be a sense of reluctant amazement. The other will be a deep, head-shaking skepticism. LoCicero has been working in the New England area, nationally, and worldwide for more than two decades, and the funny, occasionally outrageous impromptu readings she performs on...

Read More
Cinemadope: All Together Now
Nov28

Cinemadope: All Together Now

Whatever your thoughts are about the outcome of last month’s election, it seems fair to say that a Trump presidency will be less welcoming of — if not downright hostile to — many of the world’s cultures. As a film writer, that leaves me feeling both deflated (will foreign films find it even more of a struggle to distribute stateside now?) and, paradoxically, a bit hopeful. Film often captures something in us that we didn’t know was...

Read More
Third Eye Roaming: Only the Yoga Should be Hot
Nov28

Third Eye Roaming: Only the Yoga Should be Hot

Studio owner Audrey Blaisdell says she fell for the yoga behind Bikram, not the “cultish belief system.”It became necessary to draw the line, she says, about a year ago. Prospective students came to fear the authoritarian reputation and mistrust the brand increasingly associated with sexual assault.So, she relaunched, tossing Bikram aside and renaming her Northampton studio at 375 South St., Valley Hot Yoga. In doing so Blaisdell...

Read More
The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults
Nov28

The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults

My first recollection of Chianti, as it is for many people, was the iconic straw-wrapped bottle, not the wine.Occasionally, an unopened bottle would show up at our house, usually a gift from a friend coming to dinner, and by the end of the adult evening, it would be empty. The bottle would hang around for a few days. My mother would say she wanted to put a candle in it to decorate the table the next time she served spaghetti and...

Read More
Electrifying the Vinyl: Electric Eye Records in Florence is a vinyl lover’s go-to destination
Nov21

Electrifying the Vinyl: Electric Eye Records in Florence is a vinyl lover’s go-to destination

That slight scratching sound the needle makes when you gently place it on the record. The brief static that comes through the speakers before the music hits. Then: bam! Just like magic, music emerges from my vintage suitcase record player, sounding like nothing else. It was my mother’s. She gave it to me when I was a child, and I was immediately drawn to it. Surely the ’70s rainbow design on the inside lid was the initial culprit....

Read More
O, Cannabis!: Getting the Best Deal on Medical Marijuana
Nov21

O, Cannabis!: Getting the Best Deal on Medical Marijuana

If you get up real close to the New England Treatment Access medical marijuana dispensary in Northampton, you can smell the earthy aroma of cannabis through the brick walls.Established in 2015, NETA’s Conz Street dispensary is, so far, the only medical Mary Jane shop west of Worcester. In August, I obtained my Massachusetts medical marijuana card — and I used it this past week.The dispensary is a weed oasis behind a fortified gate....

Read More
The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey
Nov21

The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey

Finding a wine that goes with every course of the Thanksgiving dinner can be a bit dodgy because the meal is a hodgepodge of dishes with distinctive flavors.Viognier, Cava, Pinot Noir and Cotes du Rhone have been my favorites in the past, but this year I’m trying a couple of very nice California blends with our meal, wines that don’t stray too far from my traditional standbys and that go very well with a variety of foods.Of course,...

Read More
Springfield’s own Macy’s Day parade
Nov21

Springfield’s own Macy’s Day parade

The Cat, Back Out of the BagHow did huge inflatable balloons become such a cherished part of Thanksgiving week? Don’t wait on us for a clear answer — we’re still trying to suss out what bunnies and plastic grass have to do with the resurrection of Jesus — but Americans have clearly latched onto it, and at this point, a 75-foot Cat in the Hat seems like a pretty harmless tradition.In Springfield, The Cat has plenty of company (Macy’s,...

Read More
If You Brew It, They Will Come: Tree House Brewing in Monson attracts international recognition
Nov14

If You Brew It, They Will Come: Tree House Brewing in Monson attracts international recognition

It isn’t hard to pick Dean Rohan out of a crowd. He’s the tall guy with glasses in the muck boots and ratty work pants. And he’s wearing a red T-shirt with his own face on it that reads “I’m with Dean.” Today, he’s overseeing the arrival of a tanker truck filled with grain as it offloads its cargo into a giant stainless steel silo emblazoned with the logo of Tree House Brewing. Rohan is one of the brewery’s three co-founders, who grew...

Read More
Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart
Nov07

Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart

In the two years since I took on the role of Valley beer reporter, I’ve tried to keep things local whenever possible. Aside from an international sojourn or two — like when I tried a mug of saliva-fermented ‘chicha’ corn beer in Peru last year — I’ve generally been happy to stay close to home, and the talent of Valley brewers keeps the beat from growing stale.But wandering out to Worcester last month piqued my interest in those New...

Read More
Cinemadope: Continental Divide
Nov07

Cinemadope: Continental Divide

Strike up a conversation about foreign film with most American film buffs, and the discussion will almost certainly travel East, over the Atlantic, on a European course. Those buffs with enough wind in them might even reach the Middle East and parts of Asia, but few take the detour south to Africa. It’s a bias that I suspect many filmgoers don’t even realize they have, but one that keeps some great films from finding an audience.This...

Read More
Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise
Nov03

Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise

  “Riding the Pine”Brought to you by Lincoln Allen, bar manager at The Alvah Stone in Montague.  Ingredients: 1 ½ Ounces St. George Terroir Gin 1 ounce Zirbenz Pine Liqueur ½ ounce yellow chartreuse ¾ ounce lemon juice Lemon peel garnishTo Make: • Mix in shaker with ice. Double strain into chilled coupe glass or any available vessel. Garnish with lemon. Enjoy!     — Peter Vancini...

Read More
Top 12 Halloween Events in the Valley This Weekend
Oct24

Top 12 Halloween Events in the Valley This Weekend

Calling All HallowsAdmit it: we’re a happy Valley because we’re all a bunch of freaks. And Halloween seems to be the time of year we most like to let those flags fly. The night is a dark, blank canvas for creative expression and demonic possession. That’s why it proved hard for us to spotlight one event this week. So we dedicate this page to a bunch of ungodly fun that we’ll have to check out, or curse ourselves for skipping. Here are...

Read More
Now Haunted: The Springfield Museums
Oct24

Now Haunted: The Springfield Museums

Day ScreamingGhosts are scary. Zombies are scary. Being surrounded by too many kids in Disney princess costumes is scary. If you’d rather run into any of these frightening folks in the daytime rather than in the late night hours, check out the Springfield Museum’s Halloween celebration. On Saturday the Springfield Museums will host a “haunting,” featuring an interesting round of Halloween-themed entertainment....

Read More
Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)
Oct17

Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)

Game by Kristin Palpini, Kyle Olsen, Jennifer Levesque, and Hunter StylesIn celebration of the Annual Manual — a condensed version of the Advocate’s yearly Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll — we’ve created a board game featuring some of the Best Of winners. Race your friends and family around the board and try to collect items/complete tasks from each color category. The first one to collect items from all six...

Read More
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer: George Thorogood and the Destroyers take the Big E
Sep26

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer: George Thorogood and the Destroyers take the Big E

If anyone can lay claim to writing the neo American classic drinking songbook, it’s George Thorogood and The Destroyers. The band’s hits include “I Drink Alone,” “If You Don’t Start Drinkin’,” “Bad to the Bone” (that’s pronounced “B-b-b-b-bad to the Bone”), “Move it on Over,” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” On Saturday the rock ‘n’ roll band you either grew up grooving to live or in your dad’s car with the radio up, will be...

Read More
This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ
Oct03

This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ

Here’s the BeefIt’s hard to believe that Greenfield’s Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival is already in its sixth season. We’ve barely finished the heaping pile of brisket on our plate from last year. But it shouldn’t be too hard for us to get back into the swing of things. The Franklin County Rotary Club, Lefty’s Brewing Company, and the Greenfield Recreation Department are doing everything they can to appeal to the...

Read More
Nightcrawler: The Big E … DM
Sep26

Nightcrawler: The Big E … DM

Any calendar will tell you Sept. 22, is the official date of the fall equinox — which is fine, for those astronomically-correct types.But this year, I prefer to think of the solstice as happening on Oct. 2 when the Big E in West Springfield hosts an EDM concert they’re calling the Electric Equinox.“There is a growing EDM [electronic dance music] following in this area and for the past few years, we have been working towards building a...

Read More
Astrology: Love warriors and love worriers
Sep26

Astrology: Love warriors and love worriers

ARIES (March 21-April 19): What’s the difference between a love warrior and a love worrier? Love warriors work diligently to keep enhancing their empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence. Love worriers fret so much about not getting the love they want that they neglect to develop their intimacy skills. Love warriors are always vigilant for how their own ignorance may be sabotaging togetherness, while love worriers dwell...

Read More
Fractured Together: The Art of Lyle Kleinhans
Sep26

Fractured Together: The Art of Lyle Kleinhans

Lyle Kleinhans focuses his work on abstract representations of people that highlight the conflicts, questions, and confidences behind their exteriors. Jagged and strict lines are offset by wildly brooding color that sucks the viewer in and haunts them long after. Kleinhan’s work is being exhibited along with that of Carlos Alvarez by Westfield State University as part of the exhibit, Hispanic/LatinX Heritage. (LatinX is the...

Read More
I Love a Parade: UMass Homecoming
Sep26

I Love a Parade: UMass Homecoming

This weekend UMass is celebrating Homecoming with a bunch of events: our top pick is the Homecoming Parade leading up to the clash between UMass and Tulane at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The parade starts at 10:30 p.m. and will feature performances by the award-winning Minuteman Marching Band and floats and displays created by students. The parade starts at McGuirk and winds through downtown ending at Haigis Mall...

Read More