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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Shopkeeper Who Rescued Soloman Northup in '12 Years a Slave' Was a Middlebury Graduate

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Museum director Richard Saunders unveils portraits of Henry Bliss and Electa Northup. - COURTESY OF KEREN AND MATT LENNON/MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE
  • Courtesy of Keren and Matt Lennon/Middlebury College
  • Museum director Richard Saunders unveils portraits of Henry Bliss and Electa Northup.

Just in time for Oscar weekend, Middlebury College announced yesterday that it has historical ties to one of the two friendly white men portrayed in 12 Years a Slave (though not the Canadian abolitionist played by Brad Pitt.)

Nominated for nine Oscars and considered the favorite to win Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave is based on the true story of Soloman Northup, a freeman living in upstate New York who is captured and illegally sold into slavery in Louisiana. In the movie, Northup is rescued by a character named "Parker," a white shopkeeper who was Northup's friend and neighbor in the Saratoga Springs area.

In reality, the college says, Soloman Northup was rescued by a fellow named Henry Bliss Northup — a "prominent upstate attorney" and member of the Middlebury College Class of 1829, on whom the character of "Parker" is based. 

The college's museum recently acquired two 36-by-28-inch oil portraits to commemorate the connection: one of H.B. Northup and one of his wife, Electa.

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Movies You Missed & More: 'The Killing,' Season 3

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM

click image Kinnaman and Enos look like they wish they could forget S2, too. - COURTESY OF AMC
  • Courtesy of AMC
  • Kinnaman and Enos look like they wish they could forget S2, too.

This week in movies TV you missed:
I watch the third season of an AMC show that any sane person would have chosen to miss. And it's good.

What You Missed

If you were lucky enough to miss the first two seasons of "The Killing," keep missing them. They have virtually no bearing on season 3, which starts, naturally, with a killing.

The corpse of a nearly decapitated teenage prostitute turns up in an abandoned building, and Seattle homicide detectives Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and his cynical new partner (Gregg Henry) are on the case. The partner suggests they fob the probably unsolvable murder off on someone else. But the mutilation of the corpse suggests a link to another killing for which low-lifer Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard) has been sentenced to death. Holder knows his former partner, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), worked that case. In fact, she was obsessed with it.

Could a still-active serial killer be responsible for both murders? Linden, who always suspected Seward was wrongly convicted, comes out of her peaceful retirement to find out.

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And Now, a Public Service Announcement From Cassidy tha Hustla

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:10 AM

  • Courtesy of Cassidy
  • Cassidy

Continuing parody week on Live Culture, here's a public service announcement from Philly rapper Cassidy. "Condom Style" is a riff on Psy's über-viral hit "Gangnam Style," but, y'know, with condoms. Because, as Cassidy himself sagely puts it, "Goin' raw is out of the question." Duly noted.

Cassidy performs at Venue in South Burlington this Saturday, March 1, with VT Union,  Patron Pone, DJ Dakota and host Mecca.


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David Hurwitz Honored as Vermont Woodworker of the Year

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 9:23 AM

David Hurwitz in his shop - COURTESY OF JACK ROWELL
  • Courtesy of Jack Rowell
  • David Hurwitz in his shop

The Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA) has named David Hurwitz the Woodworker of the Year. And no wonder: The Randolph artisan turns straight wood into amazingly sensuous pieces, from utensils to dining room tables. You'd think there might be alchemy involved and not just woodworking tools.

Hurwitz’s work commands attention. His custom, glass-topped Lake Champlain cocktail table, for instance, displays an innovative curvature — in sustainably harvested maple — that mocks the driftwood found on lake shores. It seems almost too pretty to be practical.

His benches for Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, installed along the outdoor garden path, are crafted from locally grown white oak, and are as aesthetically pleasing as they are sturdy. The taffy-like carved wood framing a mirror or forming a coatrack is impossibly sinewy.

Hurwitz’s vision for his craft represents a stunning marriage of form and function. 

Hurwitz earned a BFA in woodworking and furniture design from the School for American Craftsmen at Rochester Institute of Technology, and has been a professional woodworker since 1998. He's won numerous awards for his furniture and woodenware, and been featured in many industry publications. Hurwitz has served on the VWMA board of directors, is a member of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers  and teaches the next generation of crafters at the Vermont Woodworking School  His work can be seen at the annual Vermont Fine Furniture, Woodworking & Forest Festival in Woodstock, Vt., other craft shows and at his studio, David Hurwitz Originals, in Randolph.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Parody Called 'A Band Called Black Out'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 3:36 PM

It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So filmmakers Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett, directors of the documentary A Band Called Death, might be tickled that California-based "internet comedy auteur" Frank Howley took aim at their acclaimed flick for his latest parody, a mock trailer for a film called A Band Called Black Out.  

The trailer centers on, well, a band called Black Out, who are — or at least were — a real band. The Virginia-based tween trio was active in the mid-2000s and gained some minor internet celebrity with a video for their song "Video Games," a punky little cut with nearly half a million views on YouTube

Howley supposes Black Out were lost to history and World of Warcraft, choosing Playstation over playing music, before being rediscovered — à la Death —  by a new generation of adoring fans, music history buffs and, of course, Jack White. It's essentially a riff on lost-and-found music docs such as Searching for Sugar Man, Anvil! the Story of Anvil and most overtly, A Band Called Death — Howley even apes the triangle "A" from Death's logo to replace the "A" in Black Out.

So is it any good?

Well, the Zucker brothers Howley ain't. But as spoofs go, his sendup of the Death doc does boast a certain silly, if dorky, charm. See for yourself below.

[Full disclosure: Bobby Hackney Jr., son of Death's Bobby Hackney Sr., is a Seven Days employee. 'Sup, Bobby!] 

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In Honor of A-Dog, Launches a Be the Match Drive

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:17 PM

"A-Dog for Life — Homage" by Jay Giroux and Scott Campbell, detail - COURTESY OF SCOTT CAMPBELL
  • Courtesy of Scott Campbell
  • "A-Dog for Life — Homage" by Jay Giroux and Scott Campbell, detail

Last September, attendees at Burlington's South End Art Hop may have happened upon the painting, by Jay T. Giroux and Scott Campbell, on the side of a building adjacent to Black Horse Fine Art Supply on Pine Street. In fact, Giroux was still working on the multimedia, vividly colored abstraction, which has a decidedly urban look and is titled "A-Dog for Life — Homage." The painting, in six, 36-inch-square panels, was to be auctioned as a benefit for the artists' friend, DJ A-Dog, to help him defray medical expenses.

Tragically, A-Dog, aka Andy Williams, succumbed to leukemia in late December. And that painting, which did not sell in September, is now being used to call attention to a campaign in A-Dog's honor. The campaign is to raise awareness of the need for bone-marrow donors to help individuals with this disease — and to register actual donors. is the first Burlington business to enlist this traveling piece of artwork as a visual mascot, as it were, for Be the Match. The donor drive begins today, February 27, outside Dealer's Café 2.0. 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Edward Koren Becomes Cartoonist Laureate With Ceremony and Talk

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Cartoonist Laureate Ed Koren - COURTESY OF CCS
  • Courtesy of CCS
  • Cartoonist Laureate Ed Koren

We already announced that longtime New Yorker cartoonist and Brookfield resident Ed Koren was to be named the next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate, for a three-year term. The time has come for the pomp and circumstance. That is, as much as the self-deprecating cartoonist will allow.

Thursday, February 27, at the Vermont Statehouse, here's what will go down:

12:15 p.m.: Meet and greet with Koren, Cedar Creek Room, Vermont Statehouse

1 p.m.: Vermont Cartoonist Laureate joint resolution on Statehouse floor

After that, Koren will hightail it down to White River Junction, where he'll give a talk at the Center for Cartoon Studies, 46 South Main Street, at 3 p.m. A reception will follow.

Congratulations to Ed, and thanks to outgoing (and very first) Vermont Cartoonist Laureate James Kochalka! Stay tooned for more.

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'What Moves You?' Local Activists to Host 'Moth'-Inspired Evening of Storytelling

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 5:46 PM

The poster for Sunday night's 'What Moves You?' event. - STEVE RAMEY
  • Steve Ramey
  • The poster for Sunday night's 'What Moves You?' event.

If you ask Steve Ramey, of the Vermont branch of the International Socialist Organization, folks who identify as activists tend to have an inspiring story or two up their sleeves.

"Most activists remember it well," Ramey writes. "That moment of outrage, clarity, mourning, or inspiration that led us to a lifelong commitment to fighting for a better world. That moment when you knew you could no longer accept the status quo, turn a blind eye, or simply complain about how bad things are."

Inspired by National Public Radio's "The Moth" storytelling series, a crew of grassroots activists will host a night of storytelling called "What Moves You?" on Sunday, March 2. The group of featured speakers — what Ramey calls "local movers and shakers" — includes Reuben Jackson (Vermont Public Radio's jazz host), Mark Hage, Jeanine Bunzigiye, Nancy Welch, and Ron Jacobs. They will share stories of the events that first prompted them to take action, and invite others to do the same.

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Controversial Orca Film Makes Waves at Revolution Oscar Party

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 12:45 PM

  • Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • An orca
Revolution, White River Junction’s most ecologically conscious clothing store, will host a proudly biased Oscar party this Sunday evening. Captain Paul Watson, known for his role on the show “Whale Wars,” as well as for his own Whale Warriors academy, will be in attendance to present the “Big Splash Award” to Manny Oteyza, producer of the film Blackfish.

Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, documents the consequences of keeping orcas (“killer whales”) in captivity at such venues as the SeaWorld theme parks. Highly controversial upon its release last year, Blackfish caused ripples in environmental and animal-rights communities.

In being denied an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, Blackfish continues to stir up controversy — precisely the reason for its being fêted at Revolution’s event. A press release refers to the Whale Warriors being “incredulous” about the film’s exclusion from the list of nominees, and speculates that unbecoming financial transactions are part of the reason.

Why celebrate this film (and its message) in Vermont, of all places? As Kim Souza, owner of Revolution, put it in an email, “Vermont may be landlocked, but we all still need a healthy ocean.”

Revolution’s Oscar party will take place both in the store and at the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction, beginning at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 2.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What I'm Watching: 'Sick'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 4:19 PM

One of the most thought-provoking films I’ve seen in a while is one that I’d been meaning to get to for years: Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997), directed by Kirby Dick. Flanagan was an artist who surpassed all prognoses by living with cystic fibrosis until his mid-forties. His manner of dealing with the agony of this horrific disease was, as the film shows in often-uncomfortable detail, to immerse himself in pain — largely self-inflicted, but quite a lot of it at the hands of his partner, Sheree Rose, who assumed the “S” role in their S&M relationship.

It’s hard for me to imagine ways in which pain is pleasurable. For me, pain, you know, hurts, and I pretty actively dislike and avoid it. Flanagan felt differently.

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