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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Take a Halloween Tour of a 'Haunted' Vermont State Park With This Creepy Short Film

Posted By on Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 5:15 PM

'Tis the season to be creeped out, and what's creepier than a pair of angry spirits haunting the Vermont woods? Even if those spirits and their story happen to be folklore of, shall we say, rather recent vintage.

Jim Gallagher of Montpelier sent us the 13-minute film embedded above (note: contains very brief NSFW language). He created "The Haunting of Broken Shackles Mount" without crew or actors (save himself) using what he calls "an audio/video-book style of presentation."

You might also call it a mockumentary. Gallagher paired captions with footage shot at Waterbury's Little River State Park (and Montpelier locations) to tell the tale of an ill-fated farming family who lived in the former area during the Civil War era. Or ... did they?

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

9/11 Film With Vermont Ties to Screen This Sunday in Burlington

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:13 PM

  • Courtesy of Atlas Distribution
  • Still from 9/11.
Where were you on 9/11? It’s a question most Americans who lived through that tragic day in 2001 can answer with pinpoint accuracy.

Filmmaker and musician Martin Guigui, a former Vermonter who spent part of his youth in New York City, recalls being awoken in the early morning at his Los Angeles home by a friend in New York who was calling to say he was safe. In a state of confusion, Guigui turned on the news to see footage of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Millions and millions and millions, if not billions, of people remember 9/11. They remember where they were,” Guigui says in a phone interview. “It’s the modern-day version of Pearl Harbor or who shot JFK. It’s that moment for our generation, and many generations.”

Guigui’s latest film, which the writer-director will bring to Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington on Sunday, October 22, is simply titled 9/11. It’s based on Patrick Carson’s play Elevator, about five people of various cultural backgrounds  who were stranded between floors in the North Tower after the first plane hit.

The film expands the first act to include backstories of the trapped characters. It also adds the role of a control-room employee, played by Whoopi Goldberg, whose voice over the elevator’s intercom serves as the characters’ sole connection to the outside world.

Guigui says he was initially hesitant to adapt the play, which premiered in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011, “because of the sacred ground that that story lives on.” He eventually went forward with the project, he says, because he was “so intrigued by the internalized aspect of the story — of those who were on the inside trying to get out.”

With the exception of second-unit location footage shot in New York, the $5 million production was filmed entirely at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, Calif. Sets were built to scale, including the elevator where most of the story unfolds. Besides Goldberg, the cast includes Gina Gershon, Vermont resident Luis Guzmán, Jacqueline Bisset and — controversially — Charlie Sheen.

In a 2006 interview with far-right radio host Alex Jones, Sheen raised eyebrows when he questioned the official government account of the events of 9/11. Specifically, the actor suggested that the collapse of the Twin Towers was caused by controlled demolition.

  • Courtesy of Martin Guigui
  • Martin Guigui
Guigui says he cast Sheen without prior knowledge of his 9/11 “truther” comments. He notes that he wrote the film’s billionaire businessman specifically with Sheen in mind, as a continuation of the actor's role as the brash young stockbroker in Oliver Stone’s 1987 drama Wall Street.

“I was unaware of his comments about 9/11, and when I found out about it, I didn’t care, because a lot of people make those comments. There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there,” Guigui says. “And that was then. This is now. This is a different Charlie Sheen.”

Guigui thinks an anti-Sheen bias contributed to the film’s mere 11 percent "fresh" critics' rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Though he declined to name names, he suspects at least one review was written without the critic actually having seen the movie, he says. He adds that 9/11 received a standing ovation following its Los Angeles premiere and was well-received at other screenings he attended. (Rotten Tomatoes lists a 53 percent audience score, meaning more than half of registered users liked the film.)

The screening at the Roxy will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven. In addition to Guigui, the event will feature several members of the production who are either native Vermonters or have family ties to the state, including producer Warren Ostergard and supporting actor Paul Burroughs. Proceeds will benefit the Burlington Firefighters Association.

The director’s Vermont roots run deep. Born in Argentina, he moved to Middlebury as a teen when his father, Efrain Guigui, was offered the baton as conductor of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Guigui's first feature film, My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception (1999), was shot in Vermont and includes a cameo by then-Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as a rabbi with a penchant for long-winded baseball asides.

Guigui says it’s an honor to bring a film that focuses on the humanity of 9/11 back to one of his adopted homes.

“It’s one of those films,” he says, “that after you experience it, it brings you back to that place where we were 16 years ago, where the entire planet stood still, and we all became one.”

9/11 screens Sunday, October 22, 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington. $15. More info here.

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Watch Francesca Blanchard's New Video, "Free"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 3:16 PM

  • Courtesy of Francesca Blanchard
  • Francesca Blanchard
Singer-songwriter Francesca Blanchard recently released a new video for her song "Free." Prior to its release, the song itself was featured on ABC's long-running medical drama "Grey's Anatomy."

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Nashville Producer (and Elvis' Bassist) Coming to St. Mike's

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 6:30 AM

  • Courtesy of Norbert Putnam
  • Norbert Putnam
Norbert Putnam, a session musician and record producer, played bass guitar on 120 Elvis Presley tracks.  He was the bassist on J.J. Cale's 1971 classic "After Midnight" and produced Jimmy Buffett's 1977 hit "Margaritaville."

Putnam recorded Kris Kristofferson's first demos in Nashville and once discussed bass levels with a 13-year-old Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson was a great genius," Putnam told Seven Days

Putnam, 75, is a repository of stories about music and the people who made it back in the day. He brings his tales to Vermont on Friday, October 20, for two events at the McCarthy Arts Center at St. Michael's College: an afternoon bass summit with Mike Gordon of Phish and an evening presentation/performance based on his book, Music Lessons: A Musical Memoir. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Joke of the Week: Get a Room

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 2:31 PM

It's Monday, which means it's time for your weekly dose of locavore levity: the Joke of the Week! This week's joke comes from Middlebury's Pierre Vachon. Take it away, Pierre…

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Vermont Huts Association Launches Statewide System of Trailside Cabins

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:50 PM

Merck Forest and Farmland Center cabin - COURTESY OF MERCK FOREST AND FARMLAND CENTER
  • Courtesy of Merck Forest and Farmland Center
  • Merck Forest and Farmland Center cabin
If there’s anything better than a day in the backcountry, it’s two — or three, or more, and a network of cabins in which skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers and hikers can hunker down for the night before tackling another section of trail. The Alps have such a system, as do the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada and the Presidential Range of New Hampshire.

But the Green Mountains of Vermont? Not so much. As Devin Littlefield writes in a blog post: “When I first moved here, the trails were looking bright and fresh. There was lots of great new terrain to let the outdoor wild-child in me let loose with — mountain biking, backcountry skiing, trail running, you name it. The one thing that I was most surprised about, though: lack of backcountry accommodations.”

So, in August 2016, Littlefield — who hails from Maine — partnered with University of Vermont grad and endurance athlete RJ Thompson to create the Vermont Huts Association. The new nonprofit is dedicated to creating a four-season hut network in order to enhance recreational opportunities across the state, no matter the weather.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Katharine Montstream Hides Paintings Around Burlington

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 3:37 PM

Katharine Montstream at the Moran Plant - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Katharine Montstream at the Moran Plant
Katharine Montstream's paintings seem to be as ingrained in Vermont's  cultural landscape as the scenery they often depict. No wonder — she's been doing it successfully for 30 years.  Now, in honor of that milestone, the artist is offering an unusual giveaway: Every day for the next 30 days, Montstream is hiding  a painting somewhere in Burlington. Whoever finds one can keep it.

"It's been 30 years of selling paintings in Burlington," Montstream said, "and it's pretty remarkable to me. I was looking in my garage one day and was like, I have so many paintings, what do I do with them?"

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Joke of the Week: Give Him a Hand

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 12:41 PM

It's Monday, which means it's time for your weekly dose of locavore levity: the Joke of the Week! This week's joke comes from Winooski's Jared Hall. Take it away, Jared…

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Alison Bechdel Is One of Three Female Cartoonists Spoofed in "The Simpsons"

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 12:11 PM

You know you've made it in the world of entertainment when you get drawn with yellow skin and four fingers. (Unless you're Jesus or God. Then you get five.)

Chalk up yet another comic coup for longtime Bolton resident Alison Bechdel. The 57-year-old Vermont Cartoonist Laureate and veteran Seven Days  contributor  is perhaps best known for her syndicated  comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For" and for her graphic novel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The latter was later adapted into a 2015 Tony Award-winning musical. (Find a review of the current Vermont Stage production in this week's issue of Seven Days.)

On Sunday night, Bechdel played herself as one of three female cartoonists — along with Roz Chast and Marjane Satrapi — spoofed in classic "Simpsons" style. The episode's title, "Springfield Splendor," is a riff on the late comic Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor."

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Half Lounge Reopens in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 10:46 AM

Half Lounge - JORDAN ADAMS
  • Jordan Adams
  • Half Lounge
Half Lounge officially reopened on Sunday night. The cocktail bar and live music hotspot closed its doors in March after serving downtown Burlington's nightlife scene for well over a decade. The Church St. watering hole will now be open seven nights a week.

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