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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Alison Bechdel Stands Up for Charlie Hebdo

Posted on Sat, May 9, 2015 at 1:26 PM

  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel
It was another news-making week for Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel. As Seven Days has reported, in the last year the off-Broadway musical adaptation of her best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and Bechdel was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, aka "genius" grant. Just last month, the Broadway production of Fun Home received a whopping 12 Tony nominations. 

This had barely sunk in when Bechdel received news about another award. Only it wasn’t for her or Fun Home. The news came from legendary comic artist Art Spiegelman. Something unprecedented had taken place at the PEN American Center — the New York City-based organization with the mission of advancing literature, defending free expression and fostering international literary fellowship. 

The group’s annual gala was scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, at the American Museum of Natural History. One of the evening's highlights was to be the presentation of PEN's Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were killed at that publication's Paris office last January by gunmen in protest of its frequent depictions of the prophet Muhammad. 

But at the last minute, six PEN members announced they would boycott the ceremony in protest of the Hebdo honor. Spiegelman stepped in to co-host the event, and asked Bechdel and comic artist Neil Gaiman to join him. They did, along with three authors.

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What I'm Watching Playing: Uncharted 3

Posted By on Sat, May 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Nathan Drake treks through the desert in Uncharted 3 - NAUGHTY DOG STUDIOS
  • Naughty Dog Studios
  • Nathan Drake treks through the desert in Uncharted 3
My TV time lately has been more interactive than usual. Like many people my age, I grew up playing video games, cycling through Pong, Atari, games for the Apple IIe, the original Nintendo Entertainment System … and then I sort of lost interest for a while. I was out of the video game loop for most of a decade, until I decided to replace a busted DVD player with the Sony PS3 that is still the hub of my home media center. Every now and then, it occurs to me that one can play video games on the thing.

I refer to myself a casual video gamer. I really have no idea about developments in the field, and buy all my games used for a few bucks. Most devoted gamers probably played Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception soon after it came out in 2011, but I wasn’t even aware of its release then. A gamer-nerd friend recommended Uncharted 2, which I loved and finally completed recently, so I figured that the $7 I spent on the used copy of Uncharted 3 was worth it.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

The First 50 Pages: Stella Rose

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 2:49 PM

In this new twice-monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more. Go to the first installment for a more involved explanation.

This week, the book is Stella Rose, a novel by Tammy Flanders Hetrick (She Writes Press, 343 pages, $16.95).

The author
Hetrick lives in Fairfield and works at Keurig Green Mountain. She has published short stories in venues including Vermont's Route 7 Literary Journal

The deal
In a gorgeous Vermont June, Abigail Solace St. Claire loses her best friend, Stella Rose, to leukemia. Both in their late thirties, the two had been inseparable since elementary school. Stella went on to marry, divorce and raise a daughter, while Abby stayed single and pursued a career in museum curation.

Now Abby must fulfill a death-bed promise to Stella: She'll move into her friend's house — which Stella willed to her — and serve as the guardian of Stella's daughter, Olivia, for her last year of high school.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bernie Sanders
GPN Band Contest Nominations Now Open

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 2:24 PM

For the third year in a row, Seven Days is running a contest to let our readers decide which Vermont musical act gets to open the Grand Point North festival in September. These can be bands, solo acts, DJs, the didgeridi-dude from Church Street, Bernie Sanders, whoever — as long as they are local.

BTW, in order to qualify as local, at least one member of the nominated group must currently reside in Vermont. Past winners were the DuPont Brothers, in 2013, and Dwight & Nicole last year. Here's how it works:

Beginning Wednesday, May 6, fans or artists themselves can nominate local acts they'd like to see on the GPN stage. Then, on Thursday, May 14, voting will be open to the public and the real fun begins. The act with the most votes at the end of the day on Friday, May 22, is the victor. That will be announced on Wednesday, May 27. 

Here's the link to the nomination page. And here's a video of Grace Potter singing "With a Little Help From My Friends" with pretty much every band at last year's GPN.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Censor of Explicit Art Show Sparks Discussion at Johnson State College

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 3:15 PM

  • Image courtesy of Lance Caron
Society's self-appointed arbiters of moral rectitude have once again proven that attempts to censor images they deem inappropriate or offensive only draw more public attention to them.

No, this isn't a story about the two gunmen who attacked the Muhammad Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas, though the timing of that deadly May 3 attack makes discussions of other types of censorship all the more relevant.

In the last week, students, faculty and staff at Johnson State College have been abuzz over an effort by an as-yet-unidentifed JSC staffer who tried to block public access to an art show of sexually explicit imagery that was on display in the Dibden Center for the Arts.

Titled "Essence of Self," the exhibit by JSC senior Lance Caron included provocative, homoerotic images of both men and women shown in intimate poses with … themselves. Caron's images, which he created using composite photos of himself and others, were part of a larger show, titled "Essence," which featured the capstone senior theses of three graduating seniors earning their bachelor's of fine arts degrees this spring.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

What I'm Watching: The Descent

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM

What lies beneath? - LIONSGATE FILMS
  • Lionsgate Films
  • What lies beneath?
As I write this, the students in my film theory class are taking their final exam, in which I have exhorted them to be as specific as possible in crafting their arguments. I’ll know in a couple of hours whether any of them have chosen to make specific reference to The Descent, the last assigned film for the semester.

I’ve liked The Descent since I saw it in 2006 during its initial American release. (Though set in the U.S., the film was made in the UK by a mostly British and Scottish crew; it was released in the UK about a year before it premiered in America.) I’ve also found it to be a good “teaching film” that works particularly well in the context of my film theory course.

The film tells the story of six female friends who literally descend into the earth to explore an extensive underground cave system. At least five of them do so without sufficient foreknowledge, as the most adventuresome of the bunch, Juno, misleads them into thinking they’ll be exploring a better-known and -mapped cave system.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Style Patrol: A Plethora of Plethoras

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 3:33 PM

Few readers may be aware of it, but in addition to writing movie reviews, I edit large sections of Seven Days. That means I spend a lot of time thinking (and lecturing, agonizing and grousing) about how writers use words, and how people in general use words these days.

Furthermore, I'm one of those weirdos who thinks arguing about style and usage is fun. (You better believe I ate up New Yorker copyeditor Mary Norris' "Confessions of a Comma Queen.") In that spirit, I present this monthly blog column devoted to style issues I've been noticing in our paper or elsewhere. (Am I using the vaguer word "issue" when I actually mean "problem"? Yes, like so many writers these days — but that's another issue.)

Feel free to comment, disagree and bring up style "issues" of your own — that's what this space is for.

Now to this week's topic: What exactly is a "plethora," and why do there seem to be so many of them in modern journalism?

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