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May 2011

May 26, 2011

Need Help? Ask Some Drag Queens

Appiniphone4 As further proof that everyone and their mother is hopping on the digital caboose, our good friends over at the Hot Damn Trailer Park in Beaver Pond now have their own app.

Vermont's favorite drag queens, the Sisters Lemay, recently released "Ask Some Drag Queens," a mobile app for iProducts and Droids made by the dubiously named KrappApp. According to the app, which we purchased for a whopping $1.49, the program was created by a "young adult cancer survivor," and 10 percent of the profits will go to the I'm Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation. The app can be purchased from iTunes or the Android Market. 

The app works a little bit like a magic 8-ball. Only instead of shaking the device and getting some crap answer to your most burning life questions (You: "Will I get laid off?" Magic 8-ball: "Outlook good."), you need only touch one of the ladies' photos to hear one of 100 snappy replies to your queries. 

The app doesn't do much beyond provide the user with various kitschy Lemayisms. But it could be entertaining at a wine cooler party. Below are some examples of the app in action.

Ask Some Drag Queens intro

Boyfriend question for Amber

Career question for Margaurite

Fashion question for Margaurite

Makeup question for Lucy Belle


If you still can't figure out how the app works, consult this handy video below.

May 25, 2011

Coming Soon — Made in VT Creemee Mixes!

Imgres-1 Living in Vermont, we have come to accept, whether we want to or not (or even believe it), that everything made in the Green Mountain State is better. Whether it's maple syrup, cheese or those crazy-ass mismatched socks advertised in the New Yorker, if the product says Made in Vermont, it's superior.

As such, we have developed a collective taste for all things local. We want everything to be made in our fine state — we want (nay, demand) our coffee roasted down the block from our house, we want our rice grown in a paddy up the road and most likely want our beloved bananas, avocados and citrus to be cultivated in our backyard, though that won't happen until global warming gets worse. We have, for better or worse, become local snobs. That's not exactly a bad thing. It means that there is likely a market for your Made in Vermont whodads and whatsits and that you will be supported in your efforts.

That's what two new dairy product operations are banking on. Later this summer, the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and Clair-A-Den Dairy in Hardwick both intend on rolling out new local products of their own — creemee mixes.

Continue reading "Coming Soon — Made in VT Creemee Mixes! " »

May 24, 2011

Sweet on Gesine Bullock-Prado

DSC_0392 Last night 7D food intern Frances Cannon and I went to see Gesine Bullock-Prado do a candy-making demonstration at, of all places, the New England Federal Credit Union. Why was she making candy in a credit union? Because NEFCU is a literary credit union, or at least encourages its members to be: It hosts a Vermont Distinguished Writers Series in a room called the Member Education Center. This is impressive; most banks give you a toaster or an iPod and call it a day.

But I digress. Gesine (pronounced gih-zee-nuh) was not there simply to make candy; she has a new book to tout, Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar. And while regular authors have to just read from their books, Gesine is a chef and has to demonstrate something. Or perhaps I should say "gets to," because she seemed to be having a grand time, making a bit of a mess with two of the stickiest candies on Earth: taffy and "cotton" candy.

Continue reading "Sweet on Gesine Bullock-Prado" »

So Very Special

I'm usually not much for reality TV unless it involves Padma Lakshmi, but this is kinda cool. Or horrifying, depending on how you feel about Radiohead.

It seems a UVM pre-med student, Devon Barley — who is also the music director of UVM a cappella group the TopCats, of which I was once a member, many years ago — is doing quite well on NBC's latest Star Search ripoff, the Voice. For the unfamiliar, the show, hosted by Carson Daly, is a reimagining of a Dutch TV show of the same name, in which aspiring pop singers compete for the right to be on American Idol. Or maybe to win a ton of money and a record deal. I can never remember.

The contestants are judged by a panel of pop stars, including Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5's Adam Levine. In tonight's episode (NBC, 10 p.m.), Barley squares off against another hopeful — on a stage that vaguely resembles a boxing ring, no less — to move on to the next round. Again, I'm not terribly familiar with the show. But this particular contest seems loosely based on the rap battle concept, with contestants alternating verses of a song. Except that instead of freestyling, they tackle a poppy karaoke rendition of the radio edit version of Radiohead's "Creep." (Video below.) Thom Yorke must be rolling in his grave.

All kidding aside, congrats on your success so far, Devon. And best of luck tonight. 


Alice Eats: Upper Crust

118 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, 871-5647

If judging solely on dessert picked up at the counter, I already knew I liked Upper Crust. Since it opened in December, I'd picked up home-baked treats at the pizzeria's counter a few times. The cinnamon roll was soft, buttery and appropriately rich in spice. The chocolate chip cookies retained something similar to a melted-chip, fresh-from-the-oven texture even when fully cooled.

Despite my high marks for the sweets, I didn't try the other food until this weekend.

IMG_2339 While perusing the menu, I grabbed a tiny plastic cup of chili from the self-serve soup station. The sample cups are free — a tool to assist in choosing a full-size portion. The chili was mildly spiced, and full of tomato and earthy chile powder and cumin. But I had to save room.

To be fair, it seemed that we should order both a pizza and a sandwich, the two major food items at Upper Crust. But first, a salad.

As you can see in the photo, the vegetables' colors are bright. The friendly waitress admitted that dressings at Upper Crust are not made from scratch, even though the dough, sauce and baked goods are.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Upper Crust" »

Does White-Nose Syndrome Have a Silver Lining for Big-Wind Opponents?

LM-bat Ordinarily, the several-gram body of a little brown bat is no match for the whirling blades of a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine. The massive rotors don't even have to strike the bats to kill them. Studies done in 2008 and 2009 by Boston University's Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology reveal that low pressure near the rotating blades can be enough to rupture the bats' lungs and cause them to hemorrhage. (Nothing too graphic, but check out the trippy video clips here.)

However, Vermont's bats may soon get a fighting chance against utility-grade rotors. Last week, opponents of big-wind projects filed a letter with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in support of Rule #11P011, which would extend state endangered species status to two bat species that have been decimated by white-nose syndrome (WNS): the little brown bat (pictured) and the northern long-eared bat. 

As Seven Days reported back in March, the Agency of Natural Resources is moving full steam ahead with plans to list both bat species as endangered in the Green Mountain State. The state list already includes the Indiana bat and small-footed bat.

Vermont's population of little brown bats has declined by 85 to 95 percent since January 2008, when WNS was first identified in the state; the northern long-eared bat has been hit even harder by the lethal fungus. Since the disease was first identified in 2006 in a cave 40 miles west of Albany, N.Y., WNS has killed off millions of bats nationwide, including more than a half-million of the winged mammals in Vermont alone.

Last week, Vermonters for a Clean Environment filed a letter with the Vermont FWD in support of listing the bats. In it, VCE cites 2007 research from the Center For Biological Diversity: "Bats are killed in significant numbers by utility-grade wind energy facilities, with the greatest number of fatalities occurring along forested ridge tops in the eastern United States." In short, VCE is referring to the exact type of wind farms currently in the works in Deerfield, Sheffield and Georgia Mountain.

"There is no question that wind turbines constructed on Vermont ridgelines will kill bats," writes Annette Smith, VCE's executive director. "The only question is how many, and how many is acceptable?"

Continue reading "Does White-Nose Syndrome Have a Silver Lining for Big-Wind Opponents?" »

7 Questions for... Miss Vermont USA

Gallery_photo1305286319Vermont On June 19, Lauren Carter — recent college graduate, equestrian, nurse and jazz bassist — will represent Vermont in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.

And by represent, we mean she's gonna slap the Aqua Net right off those other girls' shellacked heads. Then she'll wipe their Vaseline smiles clear off. Once Carter gets through with her strutting and opining about serious current events (perhaps about topics such as the Iraq), those other contestants will look about as charming as a toothless meth-head diving for half-smoked cigarettes and day-old crullers in a Dunkin' Donuts Dumpster.

We caught up with the Stowe native the day after she graduated from UVM to grill her on all things beauty pageant.

SEVEN DAYS: How did you first get into pageants?

LAUREN CARTER: I decided to enter my first pageant in 2009 as a Mother's Day present. It was junior year of college and I was your typical poor college student. I liked the idea of giving my mom a memory instead of an item. My mother was stunned when I told her! I was never your quintessential girly-girl and my decision really caught my family and friends off guard. Lucky for me, they rallied around me and became the best support network I could ask for. I was fourth runner-up my first year and won this year [in the Miss Vermont USA pageant]. Ironically, Miss USA 2011 is being held on Father's Day. Call me superstitious, but I think it is a sign of great things to come!

Continue reading "7 Questions for... Miss Vermont USA" »

May 23, 2011

Leopold, City Officials Defend Burlington Telecom Expense Payments

Leopold In a Burlington courtroom today, Burlington Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold defended his decision to charge city taxpayers — rather than Burlington Telecom subscribers — for some of the costs associated with restructuring the embattled municipal telecom.

"To preserve this asset [BT] and ensure recovery of taxpayer funds, it is in my opinion that the money was appropriately charged to the general fund," Leopold said during his 20-plus minutes on the witness stand in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.

Two Burlington residents — former city councilors Gene Shaver and Fred Osier — have sued the city in an effort to force Burlington Telecom to repay the $16.9 million BT was loaned from the city cash pool, in violation of its state license agreement.

Monday's hearing was called to determine whether city officials violated a court order last February barring them from spending money on Burlington Telecom-related expenses and not charging the costs to BT within 60 days.

At issue in today's hearing was roughly $354,000 paid to a variety of consultants out of the city's general fund. In all, the city and BT has racked up close to $1 million in legal and consulting fees since July 1, 2009. Of that, more than $620,000 has been paid for out of Burlington Telecom revenues. In December, the costs hovered around $625,000.

Continue reading "Leopold, City Officials Defend Burlington Telecom Expense Payments" »

May 20, 2011

Barre Town Passes Food Sovereignty Measure

Food-milk1_0 The urbanesque Barre Town may seem an unlikely epicenter for a "food sovereignty" movement, but at last week's town meeting, residents quietly threw down the gauntlet for agricultural self-determination.

By a vote of 673 to 200, town voters passed a measure to "reject federal decrees, statutes, regulations, or corporate practices that threaten our basic human right to save seed, grow, process, consume, and exchange food and farm products within the State of Vermont." Barre City voted in a similar measure during its meeting earlier this spring, issuing the opening salvos in the battle for food system deregulation in Vermont.

Continue reading "Barre Town Passes Food Sovereignty Measure" »

Burlington Telecom's Legal and Consulting Costs Near $1 Million Mark

BT Burlington Telecom has racked up close to $1 million in charges to pay for lawyers and outside consultants to deal with regulatory and criminal investigations, as well as to oversee a major financial overhaul of the struggling municipal utility.

In a memo released late Thursday, City Hall officials claim Burlington Telecom (BT) has incurred up $974,445 in expenses since July 1, 2009.

That figure has nearly doubled since "Fair Game" first reported the growing cost of BT's external consultants. In September 2010 the cost of outside consultants was close to $500,000. That figure rose to $625,000 in December, according to a memo prepared in response to a Seven Days freedom of information request.

The lion's share of the money spent to sort out BT's troubles to date — roughly $620,000 — has been paid directly by BT. Yet another $354,000 has been paid from the city's general fund — or directly by taxpayers. If a judge finds the city in contempt of a February 2010 court order, BT could be forced to repay that money immediately. A hearing on that contempt charge is scheduled for later this month.

Of that $354,000 charged back to taxpayers, nearly $18,000 has been shelled out to the law firm of Langrock, Sperry and Wool for "criminal defense" work related to ongoing investigations by state and federal authorities.

No charges have been filed to date, but Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold announced earlier this year that he is resigning his post at the end of June — a move widely believed to be connected with the ongoing criminal probes.

Click here to download a copy of the updated BT expense report.

Continue reading "Burlington Telecom's Legal and Consulting Costs Near $1 Million Mark" »

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