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Monday, December 22, 2014

Off Center Consortium Planning Year of Original Theater

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Burlington's Off Center for the Dramatic Arts was established to provide an affordable venue for individuals and small theater groups in the area, and it's handily served that purpose for nearly five years. But to date the modest black-box space in the Old North End has been just that — a venue for rent. It is not a performing arts organization that schedules a regular season and sells tickets in advance.

That's about to change.

At least it will if a new consortium of 13 local theater groups, calling its campaign OC @ OC*, has its way. The logo stands for "Original Content at Off Center," and the idea is to raise funding to support each of those 13 entities in one production each during the coming year. (Clicking on the logo on the Off Center's website will take you to the Kickstarter campaign page, which offers a funny video made by the participants.)

For theater aficionados and general supporters of the Off Center, this is great news. The rest of you might be thinking, Burlington has 13 theater groups?

Indeed it does, and more — albeit some of the consortium members are solo performers. (See full list of participants below the jump.) The Off Center's very existence has helped to foster a small theater community, and efforts such as local actor/director Seth Jarvis' Playmakers VT open-reading evenings have further encouraged writers, directors and actors to come out of the woodwork. The next step? Growing the audience.

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The Best Local Singles of 2014: Madaila, "Give Me All Your Love"

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Mark Daly of Madaila - COURTESY OF MADAILA
  • Courtesy of Madaila
  • Mark Daly of Madaila
As 2014 comes to a close, we here at Seven Days are doing a lot of reviewin', revisitin' and reflectin' on the year that was. On the music front, this means selecting our seven favorite local singles and rolling them out each weekday, from December 22 through December 31 — except for Christmas, because Santa. 

Up first is the debut single from Burlington-based R&B-flecked indie-pop outfit Madaila, "Give Me All Your Love."

Since bursting onto the local scene earlier this year like the confetti that appears to have been the inspiration for front man Mark Daly's amazing, Technicolor dream-pop coat, the band has navigated several changes. Most notably these include its name, of which they've had three: Plato Ears, DALY and, now, Madaila.

The group has also settled on a lineup, evolving from a loopy duo into the multifaceted, seven-member pop juggernaut that produced one of our favorite local songs of the year. BTW, this track is from the band's forthcoming debut album, set for release early next year. So 2015 is off to a good start before it even begins.  

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Colchester's Mark Utter Brings Nonverbal Autism to Blog and TV

Posted By on Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

  • Courtesy of Utter Communication Strategies
  • Mark Utter
It's hard not to feel like a slacker when comparing one's work ethic to that of Mark Utter. 

Longtime readers may recall Seven Days' April 11, 2012, cover story about Utter titled, "Utterly Mark: A Vermonter with autism makes his inner voice heard through film." It examined how the then-47-year-old, who'd been diagnosed as mentally retarded as a child because he was unable to speak, finally overcame nonverbal autism via an alternative method known as supported typing or facilitated communication — FC for short.

For the last eight years, Utter’s FC "facilitator," Emily Anderson, has been helping him type by holding his elbow and occasionally offering him verbal encouragement. Eventually, Anderson helped Utter write and direct a 25-minute award-winning autobiographical film called “I Am in Here: A View of My Daily Life With Good Suggestions for Improvement From My Intelligent Mind.”

Never willing to remain silent for long, Utter has since launched his own blog, which went live in July, called Utterly Mark. According to Anderson, he was first inspired to begin blogging in the summer of 2013 while attending a  conference at Syracuse University's Institute on Communication and Inclusion, where others with similar disabilities were blogging, as well. A year later, says Anderson, Utter launched his own blog, using several pieces he'd written previously.

Since then, she says, Utter has been cranking out posts on a range of topics — disabilities, horses, his travels, the recent winter snowstorm — at a rate of about one per week. That's no easy task for someone who can take as long as five minutes to write a single sentence.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Movies You Missed: White Reindeer

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

click image Hollyman plays a Christmas-obsessed realtor who gets a nasty December surprise. - IFC FILMS
  • IFC Films
  • Hollyman plays a Christmas-obsessed realtor who gets a nasty December surprise.
This week in movies you missed: What's the saddest Christmas movie ever made? I've not talking a mournful-yet-ultimately-heartwarming classic like It's a Wonderful Life. I'm talking sad.

There's director Lynne Ramsay's cult favorite Morvern Callar, which opens with a young woman lying on the floor beside her dead boyfriend — who has committed suicide — while Christmas lights pulse around her.

Writer-director Zach Clark's White Reindeer starts from a strikingly similar premise. He even develops it in Christmas-centric fashion — unlike Morvern, which moves past the holiday in its first hour. Variety declared that the movie "will be treasured annually by those who have acquired its curdled-eggnog taste." That's a big claim, so I checked White Reindeer out.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What I'm Watching: Die Hard 2

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 1:32 PM

The famous (and silly) ejector-seat scene. - 20TH CENTURY FOX PICTURES
  • 20th Century Fox Pictures
  • The famous (and silly) ejector-seat scene.
We live in an age when digital technology grants us unprecedented access to pop-culture texts. Mostly, this is a very good thing. I can't express how delighted I am to be able to type a short phrase into YouTube's search engine and then watch, less than two seconds later, the goofy, excellent video for Utopia's song "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," which I watched roughly two million times when I was a kid in the early 1980s. When I was in college, I used to lament that it was so difficult to relive such youthful media moments; now, many of us carry that potential in our pockets. I can watch "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" on a crosstown bus, should I so desire. This is a pretty remarkable moment in human history.
Sometimes, though, that nearly unlimited access to beloved cultural products of the past winds up yielding a disappointment. I experienced that disappointment the other night after using the power of the internet to view, for the first time in probably 15 years, Die Hard 2. Used to love it. Now, I see that it is not much good at all.

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Montpelier's Bear Pond Books Receives James Patterson Grant

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM

click image Bear Pond staff celebrate the grant. From left to right: Amanda Menard, Chris MacDonald, store owner Claire Benedict; in front, children's room manager Jane Knight. - COURTESY OF BEAR POND BOOKS
  • Courtesy of Bear Pond Books
  • Bear Pond staff celebrate the grant. From left to right: Amanda Menard, Chris MacDonald, store owner Claire Benedict; in front, children's room manager Jane Knight.
Within the last year, three independent Vermont bookstores have benefited from the largesse of author James Patterson, who in 2013 pledged $1 million in gifts to indie booksellers. This week, Montpelier's Bear Pond Books became the fourth Vermont bookstore to receive a Patterson grant, joining Phoenix Books of Burlington and Essex, Norwich Bookstore in Norwich and Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center.

Patterson, an advocate of literacy programs, gave the money to Bear Pond because of the store's commitment to young readers. A condition of the grant was that the recipient stores have dedicated children's rooms; Bear Pond meets that stipulation by possessing an upstairs space that's dedicated to children's and young adult books. According to a press release from the store, Bear Pond Books will use the money to redesign that room, thus making it more of "a destination" for young readers.

The bestselling author has dubbed the grant program "Saving bookstores, saving lives," an indication of the importance he places on literacy and reading. So far, in three rounds of grants, nearly 200 independent bookstores have received portions of Patterson's $1 million gift. According to the author's website, he will "continue to support independent bookstores in innovative ways" in 2015, and will launch a new initiative to support school libraries.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

L.J. Palardy, Longtime DJ and 'Jazz Curmudgeon,' Dies at 73

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 5:59 PM

  • Michele Palardy
  • L.J. Palardy
Lionel "L.J." Palardy, a longtime jazz DJ at University of Vermont radio station WRUV 90.1 FM and a fixture in the local jazz community, died on the morning of Tuesday, December 16, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Palardy, 73, was known and admired in equal measures for his prickly exterior and his love for and knowledge of jazz.

"L.J. was universally hailed as the resident Jazz Curmudgeon of Burlington," writes George Thomas, the former host of Vermont Public Radio's "Friday Night Jazz," in a recent Facebook message to Seven Days.

"The three most obvious words to describe L.J. would be 'gruff but lovable,'" writes Burlington guitarist Paul Asbell in an email. He adds, "For those of us who knew L.J., the gruff part would need no explanation. But the lovable part comes from how passionately, unselfishly evangelical he could be about the music he loved."

"I consider him one of my teachers," writes Reuben Jackson, the current host of "Friday Night Jazz," via email. "A  joyful, knowledgeable proponent of the music."

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

What I'm Watching: "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special"

Posted By on Sat, Dec 13, 2014 at 8:45 AM

"Cher?! What are you doing here?" - IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
  • Image Entertainment
  • "Cher?! What are you doing here?"
I do not observe Christmas, and do my best to avoid all its attendant hoopla. And I didn't grow up watching "Pee-wee's Playhouse," a show for which I was a bit outside the target demographic when it originally aired. (The show ran for five seasons, between 1986 and 1990, when I was a teenager.) I'm generally familiar with the show and its characters, and admire Paul Reubens as a comedian, but somehow was never part of the show's large and devoted cult audience.

I offer the above as a humble apology for not having seen "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" until just a week ago. As I'm sure many readers already know, this one-hour special from 1988 is basically pure pleasure from start to finish. I feel a lesser person for having missed it all these years, and plan to do some serious catching up, Pee-wee-wise.

I'm not sure I have anything revolutionary to add about Pee-wee Herman's show, comedy or Christmas special, but bear with me as I marvel at the show's very existence from a newbie's perspective.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Seven Questions for 'Eat More Kale Guy' Bo Muller-Moore

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Bo Muller-Moore in his "dudio" in Montpelier - EVA SOLLBERGER
  • Eva Sollberger
  • Bo Muller-Moore in his "dudio" in Montpelier
A bottle of wine awaits Bo Muller-Moore in his Montpelier studio. But he won't open it until he's done with press for the day. And that may take a while.

It's not every day that a Vermont T-shirt artist bests a major corporation. But that's just what Muller-Moore did, and people are taking notice.

Today, the designer and his lawyers, Ashlyn Lembree and Daniel Richardson, announced their second major victory against fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. The first came when a court overturned the giant's cease-and-desist order demanding that Muller-Moore not only stop using the logo Eat More Kale — which the company claimed too closely resembled its motto "Eat Mor Chikin" — but turn over rights to Chick-fil-A.

Now, Muller-Moore has won the right to trademark his design. That trademark should be finalized within the next six months.

The artist, who retains a day job at a local bakery, admits that he would like to be celebrating with burgers at Three Penny Taproom, but he realizes that he must make, er, kale, while it lasts.

"The reality is, I'll do a couple months' worth of business tonight. My busy season is about to kick in," he says. "It’s an unusual situation i find myself in. Another artist would kill to be in this position."

Hoping not to bore him with the same third degree he'd had all day, we asked the Eat More Kale dude a few easy questions.

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Movies You Missed: Happy Christmas

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM

click image Dunham and Kendrick demonstrate their babysitting talents. - MAGNOLIA
  • Magnolia
  • Dunham and Kendrick demonstrate their babysitting talents.
This week in movies you missed: How happy can a mumblecore Christmas be? Let's find out!

Happy Christmas is the 2014 offering from prolific low-budget director Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Hannah Takes the Stairs), whom you may also have seen on screen in You're Next, The Sacrament, V/H/S and a host of other films. Spotting him is the indie-film version of Where's Waldo?

What You Missed
Jeff (Swanberg) and Kelly (Melanie Lynskey of Heavenly Creatures) are an arty couple living in Chicago with their 2-year-old son. Into their lives comes Jeff's younger sister, Jenny (Anna Kendrick), who's looking for new direction after a breakup. She crashes in their basement, parties with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham) and starts a tentative relationship with the couple's pot-dealing babysitter (Mark Webber).

Soft-spoken Kelly isn't crazy about Jenny's general lack of having her shit together. But as they talk, Jenny's nervous energy galvanizes her, and she finds herself wondering why she's put her work as a novelist on hold to be a full-time mom. Jenny eggs Kelly on to write a "sexy mom" book (à la Fifty Shades of Grey) that could catapult her to the best-seller lists, and an unlikely friendship results.

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