Cinemadope: A filmmaker gets her due
Sep28

Cinemadope: A filmmaker gets her due

In the world of filmmaking, the French New Wave is the Dylan-goes-electric moment. Rejecting the period dramas that had theretofore dominated screens, the group of European filmmakers who led the new artistic charge instead found inspiration in the modern world, and they believed in the power of the singular auteur — that a film director, like a novelist, is an author whose style should be evident in the film itself. It was a rebuke...

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Valley Show Girl: Behind the scenes of booking shows
Sep28

Valley Show Girl: Behind the scenes of booking shows

Since this past March/April time-frame, I’ve been booking some shows at 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence. The shows started in July, but it took months to get to the actual show part of it. I wanted to curate these shows a little differently, and put a somewhat mixed genre set into play. However, I didn’t want to go crazy, especially for the first couple. So there was a lot of cultivating involved just to come up with a list of...

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The Beerhunter: What the hell is a Milkshake IPA?
Sep28

The Beerhunter: What the hell is a Milkshake IPA?

The mountain drive from Montpelier up to Burlington is, of course, beautifully scenic. But a Valley Beerhunter has homework to do, even on the occasional summer camping trip. So I pulled off the highway last month in Williston, VT to stop in at Burlington Beer Company, where I got to know the milkshake IPA. A few local brewers make milkshake IPAs here in the Valley — I’ve tried and enjoyed several — but Burlington is the place to...

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The V-Spot: My Libido’s Got the Post-Birth Blues
Sep28

The V-Spot: My Libido’s Got the Post-Birth Blues

Hi Yana, I gave birth a beautiful baby girl about three months ago. And it’s wonderful! She is a good sleeper and I generally feel like “we got this.” Problem is, I’ve had, like, zero libido since I gave birth. My husband is clearly (politely) dying to get back to what was a very satisfying sex life. From what I’ve read, it isn’t uncommon for birth and breastfeeding to cause a low libido, but I miss...

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Stagestruck: Murdering the Play
Sep26

Stagestruck: Murdering the Play

Even before the houselights dim, The Play That Goes Wrong is going wrong. On the uncurtained stage, a techie is still working on the floorboards and the stage manager is frantically trying to secure a part of the set. She recruits an audience member to help out while she goes in search of the dog who’s supposed to appear in Act Two. This is a preview of things to come in this English import and current Broadway hit, whose national...

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Stagestruck: “Hir” and Now
Sep26

Stagestruck: “Hir” and Now

Playwright Taylor Mac has described Hir as “a kitchen-sink drama.” Which is fair, as long as you understand that the sink in question is full of filthy dishes and fresh vomit. The genre- and gender-bending play, at Shakespeare & Company through October 7, begins with a homecoming and ends with an expulsion. In between, it tackles themes of gender and identity, power and privilege, dysfunction and abuse, love and hate – and one of...

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Stagestruck: Eight Shows for the Price of Two
Sep24

Stagestruck: Eight Shows for the Price of Two

This weekend and next, two theater companies demonstrate, once again, the breadth and variety of Valley stages. In Greenfield, Silverthorne Theater Company opens a two-week run of “six unruly comedies” by America’s cheekiest stage satirist, Christopher Durang. In Northampton, Serious Play Theatre Ensemble makes a triumphant return from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a pair of pieces that marry words and music in unique ways....

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Stagestruck: Play by Play by Playwrights
Sep20

Stagestruck: Play by Play by Playwrights

Before a play hits the stage, it goes through several other stages. The first is the opposite of public performance – the writing, solo and in private. Then, for the members of the Northampton Playwrights Lab, it’s shared with a small circle of fellow dramatists, who offer insights and suggestions to the work in progress. Then, usually after several revisions and further feedback, it’s put on its feet for the first time in a reading....

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Stagestruck: Hometown Tales & Terrors
Sep19

Stagestruck: Hometown Tales & Terrors

Walk down Main Street in any small American town and look around. There are the unassuming shopfronts and placid homes, holding private, ordinary lives. But behind the doors lie extraordinary secrets and dreams. Three plays this weekend in our not-so-ordinary Valley take us down some increasingly twisty side streets, from Thornton Wilder’s deceptively tranquil village, to a high school that hides the portal to an underworld of...

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Basemental: Pussyvision Debuts Self-Release, Replicate
Sep17

Basemental: Pussyvision Debuts Self-Release, Replicate

Two years ago when I wrote a profile about Finley Janes’ project Pussyvision, the project was just getting started. A year prior, Janes wasn’t making music—yet. Pussyvision had yet to go on multiple tours, one of which took Janes as far as Mexico, and produce, record and self-release a debut album, Replicate, which came out earlier this summer. Coming up in the local experimental/noise scene, sharing bills with musicians spanning many...

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Cinemadope: The Informant – A drug war casualty
Sep17

Cinemadope: The Informant – A drug war casualty

In regional conflicts around the world, the use of child soldiers has become a sadly common phenomenon. Boys and girls — some still under ten — are pulled or forced into violent, dangerous situations far beyond anything they are prepared for physically or emotionally. When Americans hear these children’s stories, they are usually set in far-off jungles or forests, where charismatic and threatening leaders create a self-contained world...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Day Drinking – Solving The Problems of the World
Sep17

Monte Belmonte Wines: Day Drinking – Solving The Problems of the World

Some of the greatest ideas in human history were concocted while cocked. Allegedly, Grant won the Civil War while entirely inebriated. Kruschev avoided war while gently jingled. And Iron Butterfly wrote their biggest hit, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, while thoroughly chateaued. Now, I am not advocating for daily debauchery. But I am advocating for more day drinking during the workweek. This may allow you to loosen up, be more creative, and...

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Stagestruck: Puppets in the Green Mountains
Sep15

Stagestruck: Puppets in the Green Mountains

For two decades, Sandglass Theater, the justly world-renowned puppetry troupe headquartered in Putney, Vermont, has produced an international festival that serves as a gathering and showcase for masters of the form. The tenth biennial “Puppets in the Green Mountains” festival, Sept. 20-23 in Putney and Brattleboro, offers a variety of cross-disciplinary performances, some “for all ages” and some primarily for grownups. The performers,...

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The V-Spot: Is a Good Lay The ONE?
Sep14

The V-Spot: Is a Good Lay The ONE?

Hi Yana, Can you even find The ONE when searching for The One? I know that when searching for The One, you have a list of all the things you’re attracted to, but what if those things are what are bad for you? Like, when you’re into hot and rough sex and you find the person who gives it to you just right, but then it causes you to not be able to see who they really are…is that bad? I mean you feel like you know them and that they...

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Stagestruck: Women in the Saddle
Sep12

Stagestruck: Women in the Saddle

Hot on the heels of my recent rundown of women’s representation in the area’s summer theaters comes more encouraging evidence from some of the fall season’s first shows. The Majestic Theater is playing a cowboy musical in which the lead is not a boy. WAM Theater, which provides on- and offstage opportunities for women, continues its popular staged-reading series. And Pittsfield’s Whitney Center for the Arts revives the classic...

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Cinemadope: Hollywood Hilltown — A small town with a big festival
Sep11

Cinemadope: Hollywood Hilltown — A small town with a big festival

Pull up the details on the Franklin County town of Ashfield, and it might look like a sleepy little drive-through of a place: population hovering somewhere under two thousand, a pizza place that gets good reviews, a lot of trees. You could be forgiven for thinking that it didn’t have a lot going on. But boy, would you ever be wrong. The town has always been the sort of tight-knit place that makes its own fun. But for the last eleven...

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Stagestruck: An Extraordinary Ordinary Man
Sep06

Stagestruck: An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

Two years ago I reviewed A Fiery and Still Voice, a living-history performance at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Mass. The delightfully engaging show by Enchanted Circle Theater is back for four Saturdays this fall – Sept. 8th & 15th and Oct. 13th & 27th, two shows a day, 11 and 1. Info and tickets here. Here’s what I wrote about it at its premiere. If you’re like me, you studied William Cullen...

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Stagestruck: Minority Report — Women and people of color on summer-theater stages
Sep05

Stagestruck: Minority Report — Women and people of color on summer-theater stages

Readers of this column will know my practice of periodically reporting on the progress (or not) in the representation of women and people of color in area theaters. The summer season has recently ended, so I’ve been making a tally of this summer’s shows. The news is good. My usual accounting falls into three categories — plays written by, directed by, and centrally featuring women and/or “minorities.” This year the results are better...

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Basemental: The swampy grunge anthems of Owen Manure
Aug31

Basemental: The swampy grunge anthems of Owen Manure

Western Massachusetts is known for its rich lineage of foundational bands that have defined underground music from different eras. Of course Dinosaur Jr. comes to mind, not to mention Pixies. While the shadow of bands like that certainly looms large (“omg, Murph just came into the bakery where I work!”), it’s hard to deny the depth of talent that often seems endless — always appearing in musty basements when you don’t expect it: From...

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Cinemadope: Starman – the undeniable talents of David Bowie
Aug31

Cinemadope: Starman – the undeniable talents of David Bowie

For all his undeniable talent as a musician and songwriter, the late David Bowie was always an incredibly visual creature. His many guises onstage and off told the story of an artist completely comfortable with the process of reinventing himself, and while some might see it as mere resurfacing — the suit and tie that gave way to the glam of Ziggy Stardust that morphed into The Thin White Duke — Bowie never let it stop at skin-deep....

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Patty Schemel — drummer of Hole — is coming to the Valley, thanks to Women Of Rock Oral History Project and Amherst Cinema
Aug29

Patty Schemel — drummer of Hole — is coming to the Valley, thanks to Women Of Rock Oral History Project and Amherst Cinema

On a stormy Wednesday afternoon, I huddled in my car, pushed the driver’s seat back to get comfy and opened up my Wonder Woman notebook, clicked my pen and put my phone on ‘do not disturb.’ After a failed attempt to reach her, she called me back two minutes later and the name “Patty Schemel” popped up on my phone. Her pleasant, friendly voice on the other side — all the way from California to my Massachusetts — calmed my nerves as I...

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The Beerhunter: New neighboring breweries find homes in old industry buildings
Aug29

The Beerhunter: New neighboring breweries find homes in old industry buildings

This month’s local craft beer update highlights a pair of new Valley breweries that are opening soon. If your first thought is ‘Oh man, not again,’ this probably isn’t the column for you. Massachusetts is in the midst of another wave of entries into the craft beer market, and tracking the progress of these newcomers will be taking up a lot of this Beerhunter’s time for the next few months. The arrival of these new companies — some...

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Stagestruck: Physick and Physics at Shakespeare & Company
Aug25

Stagestruck: Physick and Physics at Shakespeare & Company

A few years ago, when I told my brother I was directing a production of As You Like It, he said, “That’s the one about Beatrice and Benedick, isn’t it?” Well, no, but the confusion is understandable. Several of Shakespeare’s comedies have interchangeable titles: As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing (the one my brother was thinking of), All’s Well That Ends Well, and for that matter, Twelfth Night. As You Like It is the one about the...

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Stagestruck: At Barrington Stage, a revival and a premiere
Aug24

Stagestruck: At Barrington Stage, a revival and a premiere

Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is ending its impressive summer season with a pair of productions, one celebrating a 50-year-old milestone, the other confronting our troubled present. On the mainstage, a lovingly rendered revival of West Side Story, running through Sept. 1st, honors the musical’s half-century along with the 100th birthdays of its prime creators, composer Leonard Bernstein and director/choreographer Jerome...

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The V-Spot: Is My BF Having Multiple Orgasms?
Aug24

The V-Spot: Is My BF Having Multiple Orgasms?

Hi Yana, My boyfriend and I have been together for six years but only recently discovered that he can have multiple orgasms. If he puts his penis back inside me or if I stimulate just the tip a few seconds after he has orgasmed he can ejaculate a second time. At first he was self conscious about the mess and didn’t want to do it again. But after reassuring him that I don’t mind a mess we have done it more than once....

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Cinemadope: Women Rockers in Film
Aug24

Cinemadope: Women Rockers in Film

When I opened Instagram over my morning coffee one recent morning, the first face staring back at me was that of a blue-haired Alice Bag, the fifty-nine year old punk icon and activist. Still a force after some four decades in the game, Bag and her band had played a show in Greenfield the night before — that Instagram shot was snapped by the Advocate’s own Valley Show Girl Jennifer Levesque — before continuing on to New York for the...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Your Election 2018 Wine Ballot
Aug24

Monte Belmonte Wines: Your Election 2018 Wine Ballot

The morning after the 2016 election, I was grateful that one of the disc jockeys at the radio station where I work kept a bottle of Jägermeister stashed in our freezer. And while these 2018 midterms are not necessarily driving me to drink, things are pretty wild here in Western Mass. With virtually all of our Beacon Hill delegation up for grabs, we at the station have been referring to this election cycle as “Wild West Mass” (with...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Bonjour, Monsieur Touton
Aug14

Monte Belmonte Wines: Bonjour, Monsieur Touton

I ain’t gonna lie. I got into this wine writing racket for three reasons: 1) as an attempt to write off all of my alcoholic beverage purchases, which I will list as “considerable,” 2) to see my name in print, and 3) in the hopes that I would receive free wine on a regular basis. I know basically every wine purveyor in the 413 area code. Many of them have been on my radio show. I assumed if I put out the word that I would like to do a...

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The V-Spot: Help My Partner Help Me
Aug14

The V-Spot: Help My Partner Help Me

Dear Yana, I’m a queer woman in my late 20s living in the U.S., and my girlfriend lives overseas. In the 2.5 years we’ve been together, about half that time has been long distance, and about half together. We’re absolutely crazy about each other and we want to get married and have babies. The problem: we fight. A lot. The germ of our fights is almost always: I have issues with anxiety and depression and am an empath...

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Cinemadope: Art and the business of art
Aug14

Cinemadope: Art and the business of art

Like musicians and record labels, the worlds of artists and art dealers have never been quite in the same business. Despite all the often necessary crossover and interaction, there is often a nagging feeling (if our films are to be believed) that while one half of the relationship is interested in a full palette of colors, the other just wants to see green. It’s probably an unfair depiction, but one that was exacerbated by the ghastly...

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Valley Show Girl: Reliving childhood punk nostalgia with Blondie at MassMoCA
Aug09

Valley Show Girl: Reliving childhood punk nostalgia with Blondie at MassMoCA

I’d just devoured a bowlful of multi-colored Chicklet gum, then jumped up and down on the couch with my blonde pigtails smacking up against my cheeks. Blondie’s “Rapture” blared from the 80’s radio/boombox in the kitchen while my mother was either cooking or cleaning. I sang along to the lyrics, through my gum-infused sugar high. That is one of the first happy memories I can remember. Blondie has always been one of those bands...

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Stagestruck: End-of-summer shows in the Berkshires — food for fun and thought
Aug08

Stagestruck: End-of-summer shows in the Berkshires — food for fun and thought

When Shakespeare & Company first set up shop in the Berkshires, their mainstage was a greensward before a wooded glade at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Lenox estate, with the audience seated on folding lawn chairs. That tradition has lately been revived, with outdoor performances at their present home in Lenox, as well on the grounds of the Mount, just down the road. The productions are generally the Bard’s comedies that have some...

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Stagestruck: Dancing down Hubbard Street— 40 years young
Aug03

Stagestruck: Dancing down Hubbard Street— 40 years young

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a frequent and popular visitor to the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. This year, celebrating its 40th season, the company presents a quartet of works showcasing its history and its current 16-member troupe, one of the most technically accomplished ensembles I’ve seen. The program, running through Sunday on the Pillow’s Ted Shawn mainstage, begins with “Decadance/Chicago,” excerpts from Israeli...

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Bizarro Briefs
Aug02

Bizarro Briefs

The Early Snail Gets the Lettuce What probably seemed like the slowest race ever recently took place in Congham, England. More than 150 snails took part in the annual Snail Racing Championship with the grand prize being a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce. The snails were placed on a damp cloth marked with three concentric circles and the gastropods raced 13 inches to the outer ring. Apparently, English snail trainers take this sort...

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Stagestruck: Three in the Hills
Aug01

Stagestruck: Three in the Hills

A trio of two-character plays now running in the Hilltowns and Berkshires offer a summer-season variety of subjects, styles, and even venues – a black-box theater, a converted town hall, a church sanctuary. Pauline Productions is dedicated to “producing and creating theatre with a focus on strong roles for women onstage and behind the scenes.” The Roommate, running till Saturday on a purpose-built stage in the Ashfield Congregational...

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