Valley Show Girl: A queer punk drag show double rainbow
Mar07

Valley Show Girl: A queer punk drag show double rainbow

I’ve been hibernating the past couple of months. I just bought a house and have been focused mainly on that. The closest I’ve been to live music is listening to my vinyl — live — in my living room. I broke out of my hibernation recently, however, and attended my first show of the year. I tell ya, it was quite the experience to pop my 2019 show cherry with, too. This column is about a show organized by Tanya Pearson. (I know you know...

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V-Spot: Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Key?
Mar04

V-Spot: Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Key?

Hi Yana, I’m a transgender male, no bottom surgery yet (there’s a good chance it’s not even in the cards for me, anyway) and I’ll be starting HRT (hormone replacement therapy) soon. I’ve always been very frank with partners that I’m not comfortable with being touched, and they’ve respected that. But, the few times I’ve allowed a girlfriend to go down on me, I didn’t orgasm. I can’t orgasm by myself, either. I’ve never even had one....

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Cinemadope: CatVideoFest at Amherst Cinema
Mar04

Cinemadope: CatVideoFest at Amherst Cinema

If you’ve been around the interwebs for a bit, you’ve almost certainly run across Henri. Henri — or, to use his full title, Henri, le Chat Noir — is an ennui-soaked cat whose subtitled French musings call to mind old arthouse imports. “If my tail wags, it is a reflex action,” intones Henri over a soundtrack of Satie. “Nothing more.” In other installments, all shot in the same scratchy black and white, Henri visits the vet or bemoans...

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Basemental: Jesus Vio brings his ‘Dutch Science’ to the Pioneer Valley
Mar01

Basemental: Jesus Vio brings his ‘Dutch Science’ to the Pioneer Valley

Free Pizza was a punk band founded in 2009 and based in Boston. If the name isn’t too much of a giveaway, the ethos of the band was playful and goofy. The heavy-hitting upbeat rowdiness was accessible, earnest, and always a good time. In 2016, Free Pizza threw in the towel and frontman Jesus Vio split off to try something different. He moved to Nashville and formed a band using his own name. There he recorded his first solo record,...

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Stagestruck: Motor City Soul
Mar01

Stagestruck: Motor City Soul

There’s a party going on in the basement of Chelle and Lank’s house – an unlicensed after-hours drink-and-dance dive in inner-city Detroit. That is, until a police raid on a similar establishment explodes into violence and the neighborhood goes up in flames. Detroit ’67 is the first, and weakest, of Dominique Morisseau’s trilogy of plays known as the Detroit Project. The current production, through March 10 at Hartford Stage Company,...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Wine with The Brothers Narkewicz
Feb28

Monte Belmonte Wines: Wine with The Brothers Narkewicz

MNARK: I’m so proud of him. I actually have his bumper sticker on my car in San Francisco, which was interesting because we just had an election for mayor. DNARK: Did I get any votes? Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz may have made headlines when he was the first person to purchase pot for recreational purposes on the East Coast, but it is the Mayor’s oldest sibling I’ve been jonesing to talk to for this column. Shortly after my wine...

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Cinemadope: Off the Wall
Feb25

Cinemadope: Off the Wall

Art lovers in the Valley are never far from a good gallery. Between the extensive collections of local colleges, dedicated museums, and the smaller neighborhood salons that pepper our local downtowns, we are lucky to live in an area with such a vibrant artistic community. This week, a few area cinemas play host to galleries from farther afield, giving locals a world tour without giving up the comfort of their favorite seat at the...

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Stagestruck: Center Stage for Seniors
Feb24

Stagestruck: Center Stage for Seniors

Two elder ensembles are this week’s headliners.  The Berkshire-based WAM Theatre has just announced its plans for a troupe of women over 65, and the latest offering from the British stage in the popular National Theatre Live series features a cast of old folks. Allelujah! is a biting satire on the healthcare industry and rapacious politics in the form of a quirky celebration of old age. The live-capture performance screens at...

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The V-Spot: My Love No Longer Dominates
Feb20

The V-Spot: My Love No Longer Dominates

Hello from Vienna, Austria, Yana! Over the years I’ve realized that I like being dominated in sex. I want strong men who play with my brain, mainly verbally. A year ago I met a guy on a kinky hookup app. We went out on a date and hit it off immediately. In the beginning, he showed me so much about bondage and I had my fair share of bruises from skilled hands. We became a couple really fast, moved in together, and our partnership is...

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The Beerhunter: Shake Your Cabin Fever with a Taproom Day Trip 
Feb19

The Beerhunter: Shake Your Cabin Fever with a Taproom Day Trip 

It is right about now, during the shortest month of the year, that I have sat through some of the longest evenings of my life. Cabin fever is no joke, even if your cabin comes equipped with a fire, good books, and a stockpile of craft beer (plus some loved ones, I guess). February is cold, wet, and boring enough to make you pine for a quick spring thaw. It will come. Until then, remember that most breweries are open, and those valiant...

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Cinemadope: Natural Causes: The strange beauties of Rosamond Purcell
Feb19

Cinemadope: Natural Causes: The strange beauties of Rosamond Purcell

The photography of Rosamond Purcell is work that often feels plucked from another period. Her artistic impulse — what filmmaker Errol Morris described as “the contemplation of things that other people would normally just ignore” — harkens back to a time when many artists were also de facto naturalists, dealing with cadavers, carcasses, and the process of decay in the service of creating a new way of seeing the world around us. But...

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V-Spot: How Do I Stop Faking My Orgasms?
Feb18

V-Spot: How Do I Stop Faking My Orgasms?

Dear Yana, I’m in my early 30s and have been faking orgasms for about a decade of a colorful, explorative — if not straight up hyphy — sex life. I had my first orgasm about 13 years ago with a partner, who helped me discover simultaneous clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex. In the decade since, I’ve gotten down with all kinds of exciting and talented lovers, some of whom I’ve also definitely loved — none of whom got the job...

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Stagestruck: Big Apple Bites
Feb15

Stagestruck: Big Apple Bites

At first glance, you’d think the two plays I saw in New York City last week have little in common. One is an international import from London to Broadway, the other an Off-Broadway transfer from a small regional theater in Vermont. One is twice as long as the other and fields a cast four times as large (and costs more than twice as much to see). One is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, the other in eastern Massachusetts in the present...

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Valley Show Girl: And The Kids’ Whimsical Indie Rock
Feb14

Valley Show Girl: And The Kids’ Whimsical Indie Rock

Signature Sounds recording artists And The Kids from Northampton have made a name for themselves throughout their active musician years in the Valley. They’ve been locally and nationally covered and very recently had a live set at Paste Magazine that was streamed through social media. They are about to release their latest masterpiece on Feb. 22. Guitarist and vocalist Hannah Mohan and drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro first met in junior...

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Cinemadope: Movies for winter vacation
Feb14

Cinemadope: Movies for winter vacation

Listen, I love my kids. I do. But it’s been a long winter around here. The holiday season was a terrible round-robin of stomach bugs, the heat went on the fritz in their bedroom, and a cold snap kept us cooped up in the house on days when their energy level could have powered the whole of the Eastern Seaboard for a holiday weekend. Things were just getting back to normal (though let’s be honest, fellow parents: this has all in fact...

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Stagestruck: Mashups in Makeup
Feb11

Stagestruck: Mashups in Makeup

How’s this for genre mashups: Brontë gothic in which two of the characters are animals. Wildean romcom in which all the actors are women. Golden Age Spain in which a woman lives as a man. Multidisciplinary invention in which diversity seeks community. Renaissance tragedy in which the title character uncannily resembles a certain megalomaniac of today. Such are the parameters of upcoming productions on Five College stages this month...

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Basemental: Mibble Q&A – Hadley’s Mike Parham’s solo project, Mibble
Feb08

Basemental: Mibble Q&A – Hadley’s Mike Parham’s solo project, Mibble

Hadley’s Mike Parham, whose solo moniker is Mibble, recently released a new album, “Welcome the Earth Dog.” Parham’s superb home recordings sound like miniature musical collages, complete with sound effects, samples, and a lackadaisical posture towards the constructs of time, money, and fame. Evoking Neil Young and the sonic idea of clouds, Earth Dog builds nicely on Parham’s previous releases — 2016’s Wide Awake Western...

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The V-Spot: Anxious, Preoccupied, and Non-Monogamous?
Feb08

The V-Spot: Anxious, Preoccupied, and Non-Monogamous?

Hi Yana, I’m currently in a long-term monogamous relationship with my partner, and I am really interested in transitioning our relationship from monogamy to non-monogamy. At my request this past summer, we tried non-monogamy after identifying and agreeing to clear boundaries with each other. In this process, we discovered his attachment style is anxious preoccupied. He was really upset about me seeing other people, and that due to his...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: #winehero
Feb04

Monte Belmonte Wines: #winehero

In my last column, I gave you a brief how-to in regards to opening a bottle of wine. It’s a seemingly easy enterprise that is terrifying for far too many people. For some reason, wine and all that surrounds wine is just like that. Complicated. Confusing. Unapproachable. Maybe it’s the centuries of history behind the vine that intimidates people. Maybe it’s the snobs who look down their noses, pinky extended, and make you second-guess...

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Stagestruck: Hi, Honey, I’m Home!
Feb04

Stagestruck: Hi, Honey, I’m Home!

When Nora Helmer famously slammed the door on her empty marriage at the end of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, she changed the course of theatrical history, and social history as well. But shutting the door on one story implicitly opened another, and thus left a question hanging. What became of Nora after she claimed her freedom, leaving her husband and children to plunge into a world where women were largely defined by their marital...

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Cinemadope: Fish Out of Water – Two animated classics from Japan
Feb01

Cinemadope: Fish Out of Water – Two animated classics from Japan

Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has always kept a close tether to the world around him. In wonderfully thoughtful films like My Neighbor Totoro and Pom Poko, beloved by young and old (and crowds and critics) alike, he has eagerly yet tenderly explored our human connection and disconnect with our wider natural habitat. The often hidden worlds around us may be too often overlooked, but in Miyazaki’s worlds, as in our own, they can...

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Stagestruck: Conversations and Conflicts
Jan27

Stagestruck: Conversations and Conflicts

Theater, Sheryl Stoodley firmly believes, “can be the starting point for conversations – much-needed at this point in our United States and in the world.” To that end, Serious Play, the theater Stoodley leads, “works toward reshaping society’s conversation on prominent social issues through the art of ensemble theater.” Her new initiative, under the umbrella title Conversations For Our Times Through Theatre, aims to involve...

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Stagestruck: Found and Lost
Jan22

Stagestruck: Found and Lost

In a program note for The Engagement Party, Samuel Baum says his play is “an exploration of secrets and lies.” Which puts it right in his wheelhouse, as his credits include the TV psycho-crime drama Lie to Me and the movie Wizard of Lies. He says he’s also interested in the notion of “how in relationships it takes years to build trust but only seconds to destroy it.” Those seconds quickly count down in this brief, absorbing play,...

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The V-Spot: Sex Drives Are Slacking & I Feel Lacking
Jan21

The V-Spot: Sex Drives Are Slacking & I Feel Lacking

Hi Yana, I’m a junior in college and I’ve been dating my boyfriend since our freshman year. Initially the relationship was steamy and passionate. I was his first sexual partner so we did a lot of experimenting and discovering together. As is perhaps inevitable, that steamy passion gradually decreased. Sophomore year his sex drive experienced a sharp decline and mine remained constant. In the first year of our relationship, things felt...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: How NOT to Open Wine Like an Ah-So
Jan21

Monte Belmonte Wines: How NOT to Open Wine Like an Ah-So

“How do I use this wine opening contraption?” “What if I get cork in the wine?” “What if the cork breaks in half?” “Why didn’t I just buy the one with the screw-cap?” “Can you please open this for me?” Being the closest thing my family has to a “wine expert,” it became clear this past holiday season how terrified some people are to OPEN a bottle of wine. No need to fret. Opening a bottle of wine should not be cause for alarm. With a...

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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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