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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Seven Questions for Judah Friedlander

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 1:54 PM

  • Courtesy of Judah Friedlander
  • Judah Friedlander
Comedian Judah Friedlander is the World Champion. Of what, you ask? Try every-goddamn-thing. Best athlete? Check. Most tender lover? Check. Impossibly snazzy steez? Check, check.

Friedlander has been performing standup since 1989 and is known for roles in films such as Zoolander and Wet Hot American Summer and the TV comedies "30 Rock" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He developed his World Champ schtick as a pointed satire of narcissism and braggadocio in modern culture. But over the years, Friedlander has shifted his critiques of American and global exceptionalism and begun to use his excellence at everything for good. He's become not merely the champion of the world, but a champion for it, a gruff voice of reason and righteousness in increasingly uncertain times.

Friedlander performs a two-night, four-show run this Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, at the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington . Seven Days spoke with the Champ by phone to play a quick round of Seven Questions.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

All Aboard With The Pirates of Penzance at Skinner Barn

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Singing sisters in The Pirates of Penzance - COURTESY OF DAVID GARTEN
  • Courtesy of David Garten
  • Singing sisters in The Pirates of Penzance
If you're looking for some silly entertainment without rancor and boos and, well, politics in general, step away from the tube, stream, Twitter — basically, reality — for a night and let Gilbert & Sullivan have their way with you. To be precise, The Pirates of Penzance, or, the Slave of Duty in a current run at the Skinner Barn

First of all, the Skinner is not just another renovated barn. Peter Boyton, actor/singer, proprietor and artistic director, kicked it up a notch when he transformed this classic beauty from a cow place to a people place. No doubt he was inspired by this location, on Common Road in Waitsfield, which is so lovely it almost takes your breath away. For me, a summer must-do is a picnic on the grass before the show, taking in the impossibly green and glorious landscape along with my plastic cup of rosé and takeout whatever.

When it's time to go in for the show, I'm so chill that the Skinner Barn theater troupe would have to really blow it to ruin my mood. But, in all the years I've been attending, that's never happened.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Memoirist Howard Axelrod on His NEK Point of Vanishing

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 4:40 AM

  • Courtesy of Howard Axelrod
  • Howard Axelrod
This weekend at the Bookstock Literary Festival in Woodstock, Howard Axelrod will read from his highly acclaimed memoir, The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude.  Published by Beacon Press in 2015, it was named one of the year's best books by Slate, the Chicago Tribune and others.

His story began in the backwoods of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

In the fall of 1999 Axelrod, then 25, posted his handwritten wish on bulletin boards outside general stores and laundromats in Peacham, Johnson, Jay, Barton, Newport, Morrisville and Eden: “Wanted: a cabin or house set in the woods, with good light, very solitary. Proximity to a stream or brook. Running water and electricity preferred.”

Only one man replied: Lev, the owner of a remote house resembling “a battered pirate ship run aground,” as Axelrod later described it. Thus began his transformative two years alone at the end of a dirt road in Barton. 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BCA Funds First 16 Community Art Projects

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 4:18 PM

"Voices of Home" painting by Corrine Yonce - COURTESY OF BURLINGTON CITY ARTS
  • Courtesy of Burlington City Arts
  • "Voices of Home" painting by Corrine Yonce
Burlington City Arts has announced the winners of its first-ever round of Community Fund grant awards. Sixteen arts initiatives were awarded a grand total of $35,000, with individual grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Winners were chosen from 64 total applicants, a number that BCA assistant director Sara Katz suggested during a phone interview "is only going to go up" in coming years. 

Funded projects include theater, music, media and visual and interdisciplinary art, and most contain a strong element of direct community engagement. "There was definitely a desire to ensure that disciplines were represented from across the board," said Katz, "and to ensure that there were as many people as possible benefiting from each project." 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokémon Go Invades Burlington

Posted By and on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 6:31 PM

Have you noticed more people than usual wandering Burlington glued to their smartphones this week? You’re not imagining it: They’re playing Pokémon Go.

The smartphone augmented-reality game, released last week, uses the phone's GPS to show players a map of their real-world surroundings — with the Pokémon world layered on top. Landmarks and local businesses become "Pokéstops" where nearby players can check in to collect items, or virtual "gyms," where players can train their Pokémon.  While walking around in the real world, players may encounter Pokemon, which appear on screen and can be captured using the phone's camera. 

This combination of real and virtual reality is proving to be addictive — in less than a week, the game has reportedly been downloaded some 15 million times; its players now outnumber active daily Twitter users. Reports abound of Poképlayers across the country crashing cars, walking into things while staring at their screens and getting lured to PokeStops where they've been robbed.

In Burlington, local Poképlayers have headed to central locations to battle, collect items and socialize. Kids VT intern Andie Pinga found some of them wandering the Church Street  Marketplace on Tuesday afternoon.
Elsewhere in Vermont, park rangers had some fun in the field:
The folks at My Little Cupcake spotted a Meowth in their ingredients:

The Vermont Secretary of State is hoping to lure gamers to the voting booth with the promise of Pokémon:

And the organizers behind Vermont Comic Con have already added a Pokémon Go meet-up to their schedule of events in late August.

So is the app a fun diversion or have we reached the Poképocalypse? You decide — and please, don't walk into traffic while you're staring at your screens.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Shivers of a Summer Night: Four Horror Authors at Bear Pond Books

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 12:34 AM

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.” So begins the creepy cover copy for Hex, a novel of the modern fantastic from Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt. A best-seller in its native Netherlands, the book recently appeared in English translation.

The “here” in question is a hamlet in New York’s Hudson Valley, haunted and isolated for centuries by the ghost of a witch who has a disturbing habit of standing at children’s bedsides, her eyes and mouth sewn shut.

That’s just one of the "Mid-Summer Nightmares” that Bear Pond Books in Montpelier will present on Tuesday, July 12, at 7 p.m. (More info here.) Olde Heuvelt will read from his work — his only Vermont stop on a national tour — along with three other authors of dark fiction, two of them local.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

St. Albans National Guardsman Chosen as 2016 Soldier of the Year, Plans WWI Exhibit

Posted By on Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  • FIle illustration by Andy Warner
It's not every day that Seven Days has reason to update a story from its annual Cartoon Issue. Then again,  Capt. Zachariah "Zac" Fike's story, which was featured in the 2014 Cartoon Issue, is not like many others.

Fike, 35, is a full-time, active-duty member of the Vermont National Guard and the founder of Purple Hearts Reunited. The St. Albans-based nonprofit is committed to returning those military medals, which are awarded to combat veterans wounded or killed in action, to their rightful owners or the owners' next of kin.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

State Craft Center Announces Artisan Grant

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 10:15 AM

  • Courtesy of Frog Hollow and the WaterWheel Foundation
  • Hand-printed flag by James Bellizia.
Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center has announced a newly established Artisan Grant Program in support of the state's makers, both emerging and established. The program will offer four different types of grants, ranging from $200 to $2,000.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rachel Moore Named New Director of Helen Day Art Center

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 3:34 PM

Rachel Moore, photographed by Nathan Suter. - COURTESY OF HELEN DAY ART CENTER
  • Courtesy of Helen Day Art Center
  • Rachel Moore, photographed by Nathan Suter.
Beginning August 1, artist and curator Rachel Moore will succeed Nathan Suter as the executive director of Stowe's Helen Day Art Center.

Moore earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of
"Tipou," from the series "An Olive and an Oak," ink on vellum by Rachel Moore - COURTESY OF RACHEL MOORE
  • Courtesy of Rachel Moore
  • "Tipou," from the series "An Olive and an Oak," ink on vellum by Rachel Moore
 Chicago in 2008,  then received a 2009 Fulbright Fellowship in Thessaloniki, Greece, where she worked to foster dialogue among artists in Thessaloniki, Chicago and Athens. She moved to Vermont with her family in 2010 and joined the nonprofit HDAC as assistant director the following year. Currently, in addition to her role at HDAC, Moore serves on the board of River Arts in Morrisville. 

HDAC has made public its intention to hire a director of advancement to support Moore's work and "to focus on growing the organization’s capacity and sustainability into the future." 

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Director Todd Solondz Talks 'Wiener-Dog,' Mortality and Cinematic Influences

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Director Todd Solondz (far right) talks with Greta Gerwig on the set of Wiener-Dog. - COURTESY OF IFC FILM
  • Courtesy of IFC Film
  • Director Todd Solondz (far right) talks with Greta Gerwig on the set of Wiener-Dog.
On Friday, July 1, I had the rare opportunity to speak by phone to Todd Solondz, the controversial creator of Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Palindromes and now Wiener-Dog, at his hotel in Germany. For a guy who grew up in New Jersey, he speaks with a strangely European accent. And for a guy as famous for his dark, depressive worldview as for his eight feature films, Solondz was thoughtful, generous with his time, funny and even warm.

My review of his new film appears July 6, online and in the paper. You can read my interview with this fascinating, one-of-a-kind filmmaker right now. 

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