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Thursday, April 30, 2015

This Just In: Seth Rogen Likes Weed!

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Last Saturday, April 25, Seth Rogen, his wife Lauren Miller and Rogen's Superbad costar Chris Mintz-Plasse (McLovin!) visited the University of Vermont. The trio were in town as guests of UVM fraternity Phi Kappa Alpha and UVM sorority Alpha Chi Omega, which collectively raised more than $30,000 as part of a fundraising contest for HFC U, the collegiate arm of Miller and Rogen's Alzheimer's charity, Hilarity for Charity.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Screen This Week: Jay Craven's Latest and a French Teen Drama

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 4:04 PM

John and Peter in Peter and John - KINGDOM COUNTY PRODUCTIONS
  • Kingdom County Productions
  • John and Peter in Peter and John


April 29 — May 3

The new film by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven enters statewide previews this week, with showings in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Burlington and St. Johnsbury on four days starting today, April 29. The official premiere of the film, which stars Jacqueline Bisset, will take place in late June, but residents across the Green Mountain State can get an advance look.

Based on the Guy de Maupassant novel Pierre et Jean, the literally translated Peter and John is set in late-19th-century Nantucket, and concerns a difficult patch in the relationship between the two titular brothers. That description may raise questions, given that Craven, a Vermont resident and instructor at Marlboro College, is known for making films with, about and for Vermonters. Nantucket is decidedly not located in Vermont; indeed, the film was funded in part by the Massachusetts Film Incentive Program.

Vermont has no such incentive program for filmmakers, a shortcoming to which Craven has drawn much attention over the years. Yet what filmmakers do is make films, even if they don’t receive any economic support from their home states. In the case of Peter and John, a filmmaker strongly identified with Vermont has effectively taken his business elsewhere. The situation raises the very question of what the phrase “Vermont film” means, exactly.

Regardless, Vermont viewers have the chance to see Peter and John this week. The film’s schedule is below. All shows begin at 7 p.m., with Craven and others speaking before each screening at 5:30. Check with theaters for ticket prices.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ethiopian Boogie Funkifies Lincoln for a Good Cause

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 2:04 PM

The New Nile Orchestra boogieing down in a 2013 show - COURTESY OF THE NEW NILE ORCHESTRA
  • Courtesy of the New Nile Orchestra
  • The New Nile Orchestra boogieing down in a 2013 show
For the second year in a row, Vermonters are invited to boogie themselves silly, Ethiopian-style. And it’s all in the name of a good cause.

On Saturday, May 2, Vermont’s own New Nile Orchestra will headline the second annual Ethiopian Boogie Benefit, the proceeds from which will benefit the Vermont-Ethiopia Teacher Exchange and Action for Youth and Community Change (AYCC) a nonprofit organization that fosters cultural exchange. Admission to the concert, which will take place at Lincoln’s Burnham Hall, includes Ethiopian food jointly prepared by local chefs and visitors from the Ethiopian city of Hawassa.

The Vermont-Ethiopia Teacher Exchange, explained theater artist David Schein, does exactly what it sounds like. In 2014, the program sent five Vermont teachers to Hawassa, where they worked with Ethiopian teachers in two-week classroom residencies. To initiate the second stage in that cultural exchange, two teachers from Hawassa have just arrived in Vermont. Tedelech Assefa and Adane Kebebew will visit classrooms in Monkton, Vergennes and Grand Isle.

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Fun Home Grabs 12 Tony Award Nominations

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 12:21 PM

Fun Home on Broadway, right next to another pretty popular musical. - PAMELA POLSTON
  • Pamela Polston
  • Fun Home on Broadway, right next to another pretty popular musical.

Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel's star just got even shinier. The musical based on her graphic memoir Fun Home was nominated for 12 Tony Awards!

As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere today, Fun Home is in the running for the following:

  • Best musical (along with An American in Paris, Something Rotten! and The Visit)
  • Book—Lisa Kron
  • Original score—Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (lyrics)
  • Actor, lead, in musical—Michael Cerveris (who plays Bruce Bechdel, Alison's father)
  • Actress, lead, in musical—Beth Malone (as adult Alison)
  • Actress, featured role, musical—Judy Kuhn (Helen Bechdel, Alison's mother), Sydney Lucas (young Alison) and Emily Skeggs (middle Alison)
  • Scenic design, musical—David Zinn
  • Lighting design, musical—Ben Stanton
  • Direction, musical—Sam Gold
  • Orchestration, musical—John Clancy

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

What I'm Watching: Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Gordon Liu in Eight Diagram Pole Fighter - SHAW BROTHERS
  • Shaw Brothers
  • Gordon Liu in Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
Some of my earliest movie memories are of going to the theater to see The Rescuers and Star Wars, both of which came out in 1977, just after I turned 4 years old. I remember being particularly amused by a quick shot of C-3PO tangled up in a bunch of colored wires — no idea why that, of all Star Wars moments, stuck in my tiny mind, but stick it did. Both of these films, and others that I saw around the same age, made strong, if weird, impressions on me.

But it wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered movies that were to become important to me — films that would have much to do with the establishment of my cinematic taste. Here, I must give credit to three New York City-area broadcasters: WPIX (Channel 11), WNEW (the former call letters of what is now WNYW; Channel 5) and WWOR (Channel 9). All of these then-independent stations padded out their weekend afternoon programming with old movies, and appeared to be sufficiently budget-minded to show whatever titles they could get most cheaply. Fortunately for me, that meant I got to watch a whole lot of Japanese monster movies and Hong Kong martial arts films.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The First 50 Pages: The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 4:20 PM

Vermonters are writing like nobody's business. Every week, we at Seven Days receive at least one advance review copy or emailed request to review a local book — usually a self-published or micro-published one. Often we get more.

We can't review all those books in the paper. Not even all the good ones. Not even close.

But sometimes, if a book has potential, I dive in and read the first 50 pages. From those first 50 pages, you can learn a lot.

This new twice-monthly blog feature is a way to report on what I find. Because it's interesting to see what your neighbors are writing. And because sometimes a book that I don't choose to review may still be one you'd like to read.

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Neilgate Sucks, But It Ain't a Scam

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 3:09 PM

The line at the Flynn. Oh, the horror! - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • The line at the Flynn. Oh, the horror!
This just in: Getting tickets to see Neil Young at the Champlain Valley Expo in July has been a colossal pain in the ass. The website crashed. Phone lines are jammed. Angry emails and Facebook comments are flying in with unprecedented speed and vitriol. And that was just at the Seven Days offices this morning. We can't imagine what it's been like at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Box Office. 

Obviously, the fiasco surrounding ticket sales for Young's show is unfortunate. But, as of this writing, congestion at is reportedly easing, and folks are beginning to get through; that appears to be the case for those seeking tickets via phone and in person, too. It sucks. But it's not a scam.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home on Broadway Feels the Love

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Fun Home at Circle in the Square Theatre - COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS
  • Courtesy of Joan Marcus
  • Fun Home at Circle in the Square Theatre
If you've read Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, or seen the musical based on it, you might understand becoming obsessed with it. That's why I'm adding even more content to the article I wrote in State of the Arts this week, and to the Stuck in Vermont video created by Seven Days multimedia producer Eva Sollberger.

You can read that article here, and watch the video here.

And while you're at it, check out the cartoon that Alison Bechdel herself made for Seven Days in 2014, about seeing her life story as a musical. For more about Fun Home on Broadway and its critical reception, read on.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Local 64 Celebrates Move and Expansion With Design Contest

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Local 64's current space at 5 State Street in Montpelier - COURTESY OF LOCAL 64
  • Courtesy of Local 64
  • Local 64's current space at 5 State Street in Montpelier
In celebration of its imminent move from one end of Montpelier’s State Street to another, the shared workspace Local 64 is hosting a competition to design elements of its new digs. The contest, said Local 64’s founder and “chief agitator” Lars Hasselblad-Torres, is designed to tap into exactly the kind of robust creativity that the organization aims to promote.

“There’s a diversity of ideas that comes from [holding a design contest] that might not come from a top-down approach,” he said in a phone interview with Seven Days. “In order to authentically say that we’re building a micro-designed showcase, we are obliged to have some diversity there, not just to be a windowfront for one or two companies.”

Calling Local 64 a “coworking hub and creativity sandbox,” Hasselblad-Torres emphasized that its policies of desk- and office-sharing foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas. The organization works on a membership basis, and offers short-term leases to allow for maximum flexibility. Its members, he said, not only share their expertise with each other but with the community, by hosting workshops and art shows.

“It’s a platform for members to share their output and create more visibility and, hopefully, stimulate the marketplace of ideas, innovation and creativity in central Vermont,” Hasselblad-Torres said.

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Neil Young Is Coming! Neil Young Is Coming!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Neil Young
  • Neil Young
Neil Young is coming to Vermont.

Just let that sink in. Roll it around on your tongue for a minute and then we'll continue … ready?

Neil freakin' Young is coming to Vermont!

This morning, Alex Crothers and the folks at Higher Ground Presents announced that the Godfather of Grunge will play the Champlain Valley Expo on Sunday, July 19. He'll be backed by Promise of the Real, an LA-based band that features vocalists/guitarists Lukas and Micah Nelson. Maybe you've heard of their dad, Willie? Opening the show is Norah Jones' band, Puss in Boots

According to Crothers, this is believed to be Young's first appearance in Vermont. So why now? 

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