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July 2009

July 27, 2009

Venture Vermont 2009

DSCF4620 Want a free pass to Vermont's state parks? You can earn one by taking the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge. It's a self-guided scavenger hunt that gives you points for completing environmentally friendly activities, most of which are centered around the parks. You get points for hiking, fishing, boating, climbing a tree, wading in the water or for introducing friends to a new state park.

If you complete the challenge, you get a free state parks pass, good for the rest of this year, and all of next year. Pretty great, right?

My family of four is working our way through it. We found out about it late last summer — I blogged about it here — but we didn't have time to complete it before the deadline in mid-October.

We're totally on top of it this year, though. Here's a picture from our hike up Mount Philo last weekend — 20 points each, plus 20 bonus points because Mount Philo was the Weekly Venture Vermont Bonus on the State Parks blog (see the left-hand column). All of us are now more than halfway to the required 250 points.

The best thing about the challenge is that it gives you a to-do list. It's a project, and when you get points, you feel like you're making progress. But the tasks are all fun — they're all about getting you outside to experience nature, which is one of the biggest bonuses of living in Vermont. Our family is loving it.

I was feeling like the program wasn't getting much attention — until I saw this article about it last week in the Burlington Free Press. I had some additional questions, so I contacted Rochelle Skinner. She's the Parks Sales and Service Manager.

Skinner told me that 200 families participated last year. So far this year, only 20 people have sent in completed score sheets. But it's still early in the season. "I'm getting a lot of questions on it," she said, "so I think a lot of people are doing it."

If you want to get in on the action, download a score sheet and get moving. This year's deadline is October 15.

July 24, 2009

After 29 Years, Savoy for Sale

Rick Winston and Andrea Serota, owners of Montpelier's single-screen Savoy Theater, have announced that they're looking for someone to buy the business.

Winston has been showing indie and arthouse films at the brick-walled theater since 1980. Serota, his wife, became his sole business partner in '99.

So why stop now? Serota says in a phone interview, "Rick and I are both celebrating our 62nd birthdays this week. We realized some time ago that we wanted to prepare for the theater's existence beyond our participation." Knowing that the "transition might take quite a long time," they listed the business — including a lease hold on the downtown space, theater furniture and equipment, and the stock of their attached video store — with Vermont Business Brokers. The asking price: $112,000.

Continue reading "After 29 Years, Savoy for Sale" »

July 23, 2009

Summer Reading List

"What's Good," the guide of all guides — the creme de la creme — the bane of our intern existence — goes to press tomorrow. With great pride, we say goodbye to the hours spent in the "morgue" at the Seven Days office, finding the dankest of dank places for our readers to explore. We have squeezed all of our brains dry coming up with places to go, people to see, and words to know.

So, rather than making you wait with breath that is bated for "What's Good" to hit the stands, we've asked the workers at Vermont parks and ferries to tell us what they're reading while they sit in their huts collecting cash from cars.

When we headed out on this adventure to create a "summer reading list" recommended from Burlington Parks and Recreation workers and ferry watchers, we assumed that everyone would be reading books. Call us naive, but we figured books were the only option for these folks. We were, however, proved wrong. It seems us millennials (the technologically savvy born around 1985-1992) do more than flip pages. Equipped with iPods, X-Boxes and laptops, they are having more of a multimedia experience than we expected. 

Continue reading "Summer Reading List" »

Onion Interviews Steve Bissette

Vt-monster-guide My favorite site for film reviews, smart-ass commenters and general pop-culture silliness is the Onion's AV Club. So how excited was I this afternoon to click on my bookmark and find on their front page an interview with Vermont's own Steve Bissette, who teaches at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction?

I know very little about comics, but I do know that Bissette collaborated with the famous, irascible Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) on DC Comics' Saga of the Swamp Thing and other stuff: Moore did the text, he did the pictures. In this in-depth interview, he talks about that process, saying: "Alan’s scripts were dense. They were like long, narrative letters to the cartoonist."

Continue reading "Onion Interviews Steve Bissette" »

Little Lost Kitty

Few things make me as sad as lost items. Perhaps sad isn’t exactly the right word. Losing an umbrella is obviously not nearly as wrenching as say, the plight of lepers in developing countries or the conscription of child soldiers in war-torn parts of Africa. But when I see lost mittens, abandoned bikes, the occasional shoe without a mate, something tugs at my heartstrings. My frayed, black heartstrings.

This is why Dawn O’Connell’s homemade flyer, which ended up on my porch last night, is really making me bummed. The notice is simple — the word “MISSING” is printed in handwritten capital letters over the photo of her cat, Cody. Underneath the cat’s photo is Dawn’s contact info. It’s amazing that in an age of digital overkill that something as simple as a handmade, photocopied flyer can be so effective and poignant. The flyer has spurred me to action. I want to find Dawn’s cat, not so that I can be the hero, though that would be an added bonus, but so that Dawn can rest easy knowing that Cody is safe and sound mewing around the house, playing with cat toys and getting stoned on catnip.

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This is a photo of Cody, the wayward indoor house cat.

Continue reading "Little Lost Kitty" »

Happy 40th to the One and Only Reverend Diane Sullivan!

-1 Everyone here at Seven Days wants to wish one of our longest tenured employees, designer Diane Sullivan, a very special Happy Birthday. Diane is someone who makes every day at our office a little more fun. We love you D! 

Check out her new head gear we just presented her.

Dear Simon...

072209cover Dear Simon,

Where are you? I'm the substitute who's covering your Seven Days delivery route around Barre and White RIver Junction. While I enjoyed carrying the banner yesterday, delivering the news to Co-ops, coffee shops and general stores, I was bereft of one important piece of information: your whereabouts.

Believe it or not Simon, but your delivery, personality and taste in music are missed in the Upper Valley. Rick, at the South Royalton Market, is apparently waiting for a mix CD you promised him, and the clerk at Exile on Main Street in Barre is starting to get confused with all the new faces delivering her papers.

I'm covering your route for the next two weeks, so if I could have something, anything, to tell your following about the nature of your absence, I'd be happy to pass along what Simon says.

Your Temp,

Mike DiBiasio

Jon Stewart Most Trusted? Not in Vermont

With Walter Cronkite dead, an online poll conducted by TIME aimed to find out who is the most trusted newscaster in America.

Dailyshow_a The answer? The Daily Show's anchor Jon Stewart.

No foolin'.

Stewart received 44 percent of the 9400 votes cast. Coming in second with 29 percent was NBC's Brian Williams, followed by ABC's Charlie Gibson (29 percent) and CBS' Katie Couric (7 percent).

According to TIME's state-by-state breakdown Stewart won or came in second in every state ... except Vermont.

Go figure.

In Vermont, Williams received 50 percent of the tally, Gibson 28 percent, Stewart 17 percent and Couric 6 percent.

Must be Vermonters are keeping their TVs tuned to WPTZ NewsChannel 5 so they can get to bed early, rather than stay up for the Daily Show's 11 p.m. "newscast".

Along with Vermont, Williams won Arizona, Deleware, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina and Wyoming. He and Stewart tied in Kentucky and Alaska. Gibson won Tennessee and Montana, while Couric won just one state — Iowa.

July 22, 2009

"Outing" Media Complicity

In reporting an item for this week's "Fair Game" I had the chance to talk to one of the main protagonists in the documentary film Outrage — journalist and blogger Michael Rogers of PageOneQ and BlogActive.

The movie premiered Sunday night at Merrill’s Roxy in Burlington as a special fundraiser for  Pride Vermont, and was hosted by the House of LeMay under the auspices of the League of Drag Queen Voters.

The documentary examines the roles of closeted gay politicians and key political operatives who vote or work against equal rights for gays and lesbians — and relevant legislation, such as funding AIDS research.

The movie also looks at the media's complicit role in keeping this all hush-hush from the public. It's what Rogers calls a "pact of protection."

Amongst politicians, this protective pact is almost a given. But, the media shouldn't be sidling up to politicians in such a way as to abdicate their role as a watchdog.

That was largely the focus of our post-film discussion, led by myself and Amber LeMay of the League of Drag Queen Voters.

The question was posed: What would happen in Vermont if such a politician were discovered? In fact, I noted, this topic arose during last session’s same-sex-marriage debate. Had some Vermont lawmakers not voted in favor of the legislation, there was talk of “outing” them for their hypocrisy.

I openly admitted wrestling with how I would handle such a story. Don't fear, said the audience, report it just like any other investigative story. If it's OK to report the corruption of money in politics, and other issues where private decisions and actions often weigh heavily on public debate, then it's OK to report on closeted public officials whose votes and influence are doing harm.

In fact, most in the audience were galled by the complicity of the media in D.C. Many audience members also wondered if the rise of "new media" would allow these secrets to be unveiled to the public.

"New media is really media," said Rogers. "What I used to call media is now called the old media."

Continue reading ""Outing" Media Complicity" »

July 21, 2009

Grand Ol' Osprey

OspreyJuly212009002 It's not every day I get to see an osprey--in fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen one. So pictures will have to suffice until I have time to detach from the computer and visit nature. That's why I thought I'd share this image sent by Steve Costello. Steve usually sends us press releases from his workplace, Central Vermont Public Service. You know, the Cow Power folks in Rutland, Vt. Today he shared "the best osprey photo I've taken in 13 years working on osprey restoration."

This bird is presumably a mama, as Steve says she took the unfortunate fish in her talons to a nest on top of a utility pole at Vermont's Lake Arrowhead. There "its lone chick eagerly waited" for breakfast. Yum. Sashimi with scales. And bones. Eyeballs...

But who am I to judge? Osprey eat almost exclusively a fish diet. The raptor, also called the sea hawk, can be found most places on the globe, though it hangs around water for obvious reasons. It was on the verge of extinction in Vermont, though, until the successful rescue efforts of the Department of Fish & Wildlife, CVPS and tireless Milton resident Meeri Zettertstrom. Very cool.

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