Brew Years Resolutions 2019 – Local brewers share their plans for the coming year
Jan18

Brew Years Resolutions 2019 – Local brewers share their plans for the coming year

More than two dozen breweries opened in Massachusetts last year, and we should expect even more growth in 2019. If we see fewer brewery openings over time, it will be because craft beer fans have so many locally-loved businesses to buy from. More than ever, we’re spoiled for choice, and the Valley is no exception. The brewers in this non-exhaustive list are looking hopefully into 2019. Here’s a peek at their planning. Brick and...

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Valley Show Girl: Mystical Musical Man
Jan18

Valley Show Girl: Mystical Musical Man

While exploring the rainforest and meeting up with friends in beach towns in Puerto Rico, Matthew King sipped on mojitos while chatting with me via email about his latest musical conquest, TapRoots. Since 2009, Matthew has been playing percussion with both The Alchemystics and local super group, Dave Noonan’s Green Island. About two years ago, Matthew, along with good friend and Alchemystics’ drummer Demse Zullo, discussed some new...

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Cinemadope: Superhero overload
Jan18

Cinemadope: Superhero overload

In the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has cast a long shadow over the rest of the filmmaking world. Beginning with the surprisingly wide-reaching hit that was 2008’s Iron Man, the series of interconnected films — now up to twenty titles and about as many billions — has redefined today’s blockbuster. Where comic book heroes were once scoffed at, they’re now the biggest box office draw in the world. Before you write...

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Cinemadope: Star Gazing – A Celebrity Tells Her Tale
Jan18

Cinemadope: Star Gazing – A Celebrity Tells Her Tale

Some years back, one of my many day jobs had me working a small newsstand. Mostly, it meant selling local papers and coffee, and, once a month or so, packing up all the glossier magazines that hadn’t sold during the previous weeks. Those days were like spending hours in the check-out line at the supermarket, surrounded by the suntanning flesh of celebrities caught (sometimes literally) with their pants down. I don’t read much of those...

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Stagestruck: Having a Go, Script in Hand
Jan17

Stagestruck: Having a Go, Script in Hand

Allyn Burrows, Shakespeare & Company’s artistic director, calls it “a great way to get out in the middle of winter … a great opportunity for the audience to let their imaginations just run wild.” It’s the theater’s annual Studio Festival, a weekend of bare-bones readings of plays brand-new and not-so-old, performed by company members and guest artists. This year’s lineup, Saturday and Sunday Jan. 19-20, reflects the...

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Stagestruck: Happening New Year — Valley stages ring in the 2019 season
Jan13

Stagestruck: Happening New Year — Valley stages ring in the 2019 season

Barely two weeks into the new year and already my theatergoing calendar is crowded with upcoming shows. From an operatic Sweeney Todd to a historical fantasy to a “pseudo-historical psycho-romance,” to pick three for this month, 2019 is off to a promising start. The Mountaintop is already playing at the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, and runs through February 10. It takes place on an April midnight in 1968 in Martin Luther King...

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Cinemadope: A city, one step at a time
Jan11

Cinemadope: A city, one step at a time

One of the best things about The New Yorker magazine — other than the cartoons, of course — has always been the attention it pays to the oddball stories of the city. For this writer’s money, it will always be Joseph Mitchell who set the bar; have a look at his classic New Yorker pieces, collected in book form as Up in the Old Hotel, and marvel at the multitude of eccentrics and peculiar personalities that form the beating heart of the...

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Basemental: Hampshire Mall Punx
Jan10

Basemental: Hampshire Mall Punx

Earlier this month, the inconceivable happened. I got word that my friends were playing a punk show in the Hampshire Mall, in the sports bar arm of “PINZ”— a combination boutique bowling alley, arcade, and faux-industrial looking bar decorated with enough flat-screen TVs to give you a headache; the type of place that probably sells super overpriced buffalo chicken fingers or something. It was the last place I would have never imagined...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Could Monte Love A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc?
Jan08

Monte Belmonte Wines: Could Monte Love A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc?

Liz: “We’re really a nation of innovators and I think it shows in our wine industry.” Monte: “Plus, you’ve got penguins, right?” Liz: “Right.” Monte: “New Zealand is one of the top places people looked up as to how to move there after the election of Trump. It it hard to defect? Are you married right now?” Liz: “We could continue talking about the wine, if you like?” Monte: “Look, it would just be a marriage of convenience…” Two...

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The V-Spot: Help! NRE Feels Bad to Me!
Jan08

The V-Spot: Help! NRE Feels Bad to Me!

Dear Yana, How do I stay chill when I’m interested in somebody new? Getting too excited (read: obsessed) with new people is no good for any of my relationships, regardless of how well the new connection is going. I’m a polyamorous person with a wonderful, supportive long-distance partner and several other fantastic people sprinkled throughout my life. My relationship style should theoretically offer up a very low-pressure...

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Valley Show Girl: The Gift of Music – A 2018 Local Music Retrospective
Jan07

Valley Show Girl: The Gift of Music – A 2018 Local Music Retrospective

The gift that keeps on giving is always the gift of music. You can go all out and get someone you love a new record player with a handful of vinyl for them to christen the needle with. You can pick up a CD or even a cassette, and you can purchase the album online to receive the download code to upload to your electronic device. So many options! Here are some of my recommendations with the newer albums I’ve been listening to nonstop,...

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Stagestruck: Six Degrees of Connection – The Berkshires’ Year in Theater
Dec30

Stagestruck: Six Degrees of Connection – The Berkshires’ Year in Theater

Six theater companies form a kind of chain across the southern and western Berkshires. From the closest to the Valley to the farthest, they are the hilltowns’ Chester Theatre Company, then westward (passing dance mecca Jacob’s Pillow) to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox and its neighbor, the Stockbridge campus of the Berkshire Theatre Festival, now headquartered to the north in Pittsfield, which is also home to Barrington Stage...

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The Beerhunter: A Pint of Perseverance
Dec24

The Beerhunter: A Pint of Perseverance

Delayed breweries in Buckland and West Springfield open their doors The craft beer tide is rising, and it is lifting many local brewers into the role of small business owners. But this work isn’t always smooth sailing. In recent weeks, I’ve been chatting with the owners of two newly-opened local breweries that faced some extra hurdles along the way: Two Weeks Notice Brewing Company in West Springfield and Floodwater Brewing Company in...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The Wine Nativity
Dec24

Monte Belmonte Wines: The Wine Nativity

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine. A miracle he performed at the request of his mother. His mother who, as the story goes, was subjected to the shame and embarrassment of being Jane The Virgin-ed at the hands (or perhaps the divine genitals) of Mary’s baby daddy-who was alleged to be God. Jesus (also allegedly God) certainly owed her one. And the only “one” we know she asked for was at a...

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Cinemadope: Holmes Sweet Holmes
Dec24

Cinemadope: Holmes Sweet Holmes

When it comes to our popular heroes, few if any can match the long and varied history of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous “consulting detective” made his debut in the 1887 tale A Study in Scarlet, and from the get go Holmes changed the detective game in ways that are still seen today (when sidekick-to-be Watson first meets Holmes, the latter is discussing the details of discovering crime-scene bloodstains, a century...

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Cinemadope: Hello Dolly – One man’s imaginary world
Dec24

Cinemadope: Hello Dolly – One man’s imaginary world

Eighteen years ago, Mark Hogancamp lost his life. That is not the same thing as saying that Mark Hogancamp died, because he didn’t. But when the Navy veteran was beaten so badly in a 5-on-1 attack outside a bar that he ended up in a nine-day coma, large parts of his past were gone forever. Memories, the ability to walk or talk — gone. Hogancamp would have to start from scratch, relearning not just the basics of life, but the basics of...

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The V-Spot: How Do I Get Fit to Be Tied?
Dec24

The V-Spot: How Do I Get Fit to Be Tied?

Hi Yana I’ve got some sex stuff on my mind, mostly about BDSM/kink. I’m a kinskter just getting my footing in the local (Western Mass) scene and was wondering what sorts of resources other than FetLife are available. I also wanted to ask about ropes, and what rope you think is good and safe and easy for beginners to practice with. Additionally, are there specific online sources that are accessible to beginner rope...

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Valley Variety — 2018 in Review
Dec19

Valley Variety — 2018 in Review

I attended over 30 theater productions in the Valley this year, but that wasn’t half of what was on stage. What struck me most was the variety of fare – from the breadth of established companies’ seasons, to the ethnic and gender diversity on campus stages, to community theaters’ daring departures, to the exciting expansion of theater venues. Here, then, a partial but appreciative backward glance as the curtain falls on 2018. The...

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Last-Minute Gift Guide: Learn to Homebrew at Beerology
Dec15

Last-Minute Gift Guide: Learn to Homebrew at Beerology

The artisanal food scene is exploding here in the Valley, and that includes a wealth of locally-crafted libations from the newest crop of area breweries and vineyards. It’s likely you know someone who wants to know more about brewing and wine making, and the perfect gift for them might be signing them up for classes to learn just that. It’s never been easier to swing by a local tasting room to sample the liquid bounty on offer, much...

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Stagestruck:  Not Throwin’ Away My Shot on “Hamilton”
Dec14

Stagestruck: Not Throwin’ Away My Shot on “Hamilton”

What is there to say that you don’t already know about Hamilton, the game-changing musical that costs a bank loan to see on Broadway and is now on tour, where this month it’s at the Bushnell in Hartford for only an ATM max-out? Playing through Dec. 30 (by far the longest run in this road house’s recent history), it was all but sold out as soon as tickets went on sale, though I’m told “there are always five or six tickets available...

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Basemental: Mal Devisa’s prolific November releases – everything from punk to jazz
Dec14

Basemental: Mal Devisa’s prolific November releases – everything from punk to jazz

November brought with it not one, not two, but three Mal Devisa releases. First, on November 9th, came a full-length titled Shade and the Little Creature and a complementary EP called Mystery Tsrain, presumably named for the Amherst record shop. And a few days later, another EP with the all caps titled ANIMAL EQUATION arrived. The ground these releases cover — musically, vocally, genere-wise, and creatively — is astounding; hitting...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Happy Chardonnays 
Dec11

Monte Belmonte Wines: Happy Chardonnays 

When I started pursuing wine snobbery, I would’ve identified myself as a “red wine drinker.” Now that I have academically pursued alcoholism for the better part of a decade, one should expect some hard-core side-eye from me if you deign to say something as audacious as my previous statement whilst I am in earshot. Saying you don’t like white wine is like saying I don’t like movies. “You don’t like any movies … at all? None of...

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The V-Spot: I’m Still Texting with a Ghost
Dec11

The V-Spot: I’m Still Texting with a Ghost

Hi Yana, I met a man on Tinder about a year ago, and we were unable to meet in person for over a month due to scheduling issues. In that time, we texted everyday for hours and when we were finally able to meet in person, I felt an intense connection with him. We met once more after that and hooked up (no sex, just kissing, I wanted to move a little slower). After that, he barely spoke to me but when asked, said he was still...

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Cinemadope: How Swede It Is
Dec10

Cinemadope: How Swede It Is

If you’re anything like me, your schedule is a mess this month. End-of-year holidays, school vacations, shifted work schedules and last-minute shopping excursions: it all combines to make December the month where our regular calendars get thrown out the window. So it goes for the Far Out Film Discussion group at Forbes Library. Its usual “last Monday of the month” schedule would place December’s meet-up the night of New Year’s Eve — a...

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Stagestruck: Angels in Middle America
Dec02

Stagestruck: Angels in Middle America

Harrison David Rivers specifies that his play When Last We Flew takes place in “a small town in Kansas (NOT Kansas City).” He also specifies that all eight characters are people of color. And that two of them are gay. As it opens, we find 17-year-old Paul in the bathroom, one hand holding a copy of Angels in America and the other hand down his fly. Later on there’s a tornado, and some flying, but we’re definitely not in Dorothy’s...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: “Hard” cider is basically apple wine
Nov27

Monte Belmonte Wines: “Hard” cider is basically apple wine

From a fermentation perspective, your traditional “hard” cider is basically apple wine. It certainly isn’t beer. No hops. No malts. Just apple juice and the magical yeast that turns sugar into alcohol. So, I hope you’ll indulge me in this, a wine column, as I write about apple wine, better known to fans of craft beverage as cider. I don’t even like calling it “hard” cider. There’s sweet cider which is for babies and for mixing into...

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The V-Spot: The Birds & The Bees & The Herpes
Nov27

The V-Spot: The Birds & The Bees & The Herpes

Hi Yana! When it comes to sex, I’ve never really cared for it to begin with. Then, five years ago, I found out I have genital herpes, and that put an even bigger damper on things. I’ve had sexual partners since then, but having to have “the talk” before getting involved with someone really can bring you down. Would you recommend telling someone right away, or is it okay to wait it out and get to know each other more before you tell...

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Cinemadope: Beast Mode – New stories in an old world
Nov27

Cinemadope: Beast Mode – New stories in an old world

It’s almost the holiday season once again, which means that in a few short weeks many of us will be revisiting Pottersville, the what-if town that will come to pass if George Bailey decides to end his heroic existence in It’s a Wonderful Life. Filled with seedy bars, loose morals, and jazz, Pottersville was supposed to be a dark warning to George, but let’s be honest: it also looked a heck of a lot more interesting than Bailey’s plain...

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Stagestruck: Staged Readings  — the key to writing “your best play”
Nov26

Stagestruck: Staged Readings — the key to writing “your best play”

In a program note for his play The War and Walt Whipple, now running at the Majestic Theater, author/director Danny Eaton describes the play’s page-to-stage gestation. First, “a few friends” saw a draft and offered comments, leading to  a staged reading with audience feedback, followed by final revisions and on to opening night. That term “staged reading” can mean anything from actors reading from scripts on music stands to basic...

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Cinemadope: Ski Mogul – The legacy of Warren Miller
Nov21

Cinemadope: Ski Mogul – The legacy of Warren Miller

If you’ve ever been on a pair of skis, you know the feeling: a strange and exhilarating mixture of lightness and speed, freedom and danger, that feels a bit like a giddy dream of flight and a bit like you’re cheating death. And while today’s aerialists — particularly the spinning tops of the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team — grab a lot of the attention, winter games were cool long before they came along. That is largely due to the late...

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The Beerhunter: Progression Brewing Company opens in old Gleason’s Camping Supply space
Nov21

The Beerhunter: Progression Brewing Company opens in old Gleason’s Camping Supply space

As a kid, I would sometimes wander the aisles of Don Gleason’s Camping Supply on Pearl Street in Northampton and daydream about living off the grid. In unchaperoned moments I’d climb in the tents, test flashlights, browse survival kits, and plan my inevitable, possibly permanent getaway into the woods. Gleason’s closed in 2016, after nearly 60 years of business. But I sat in the space last week, in the new taproom of Progression...

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Stagestruck: The War Within
Nov19

Stagestruck: The War Within

Every couple of years, Danny Eaton premieres a new play of his at the Majestic Theater, which he founded and leads. They range through topics dear to him, often touching on military service and veterans (he’s one himself) and all of them, in one way or another, asserting the importance of family, by blood or choice. His latest, The War and Walt Whipple, turns on both those themes. It’s a memory piece based on Eaton’s own forebears. He...

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Stagestruck: King Lear on NT Live
Nov09

Stagestruck: King Lear on NT Live

I’ll get right to the point. The King Lear I saw last weekend courtesy of NT Live is the most thoughtfully conceived, perceptively acted and richly achieved production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy I’ve ever seen. It stars Ian McKellen, and that in itself more than recommends it. But it’s far more than a star vehicle. Part of the National Theatre’s live-capture series from British stages, it’s onscreen on Monday Nov. 12th at...

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Basemental: Why do we like live music anyway?
Nov08

Basemental: Why do we like live music anyway?

There are two reasons I like music. The first is that euphoric feeling you get when you see an amazing band (especially for the first time); the second is I like musicians and their stories. I enjoy compulsively consuming them. Gotta scrape the bottom of the Wikipedia references to get the fullest scoop (that is still incomplete and inadequate); also those glib Youtube interviews where the band is drinking beer and pretending to...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Glendale Ridge Vineyard
Nov08

Monte Belmonte Wines: Glendale Ridge Vineyard

The sound was terrifying. It was like nothing I’ve ever heard in the Valley. Was it the high-pitched, piercing shriek of a machine, desperately in need of lubrication? No. It was birds. Thousands of birds. A scene and a sound straight out of the Hitchcock movie. Starlings. An invasive bird species brought to the U.S. by an overzealous Shakespeare enthusiast. “Thanks to the Bard for that one,” says Matt Jaksik, the former literature...

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