Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« September 2011 | Main | November 2011 »

October 2011

October 31, 2011

VIDEO: Get Spooked With Local Horror Flick


Some of us have been celebrating Halloween all weekend. But if you're not bored of scares yet, check out the new horror short from local filmmaker Owen Mulligan, "Night of the Vampire." Here's some background info.

While this "found-footage" flick owes much to The Blair Witch Project, it has the distinction of taking place in the fabled Bennington Triangle, where we join two unwary hikers equipped with a camera...

October 28, 2011

Grazing: Roasted Delicata Squash With Feta & Parsley

Delicata_fetaIn the days before I was acquainted with winter squashes, their bin looked like a formidable landscape of oranges and greens. I had no idea which ones to grab or what to do with them once I was home.

Eventually, I schooled myself in the ways of these colorful nutrient bombs, making dishes such as creamy butternut squash soup and broiled acorn squash with butter. I also learned that Delicata squashes are — as their name suggests — the most tender and delicious of all (at least to me) and that you can eat their thin skins, a definite draw.

Delicatas are like autumnal zebras of squash, with long, forest-green stripes on an oblong yellow body. Slice into one, and you'll find soft, pale-orange flesh. Like their cousins, they're hard to ruin — you can fry them, roast them, grill them, boil them or even bash them with a mallet. They'll still beguile you with their subtly sweet flavor — and probably get gooey and caramelized in the process.

Continue reading "Grazing: Roasted Delicata Squash With Feta & Parsley" »

Movies You Missed 10: Attack the Block

Attack-The-Block-1This week in movies you missed: Inner-city kids fight aliens in a summer '11 movie that was not a remake, sequel, prequel or adaptation.

What You Missed

When it comes to landing sites on Earth, movie aliens — both nice ones and nasty ones — prefer suburbs full of sheltered, precocious white kids. That's the Spielberg template, and it still sells tickets, as we saw last summer with Super 8.

But what if, just once, aliens invaded the inner city? What if they did it on a night when rampant fireworks would keep the police distracted? What if they claimed a low-income housing project as their territory, and what if the only people who fought back were a group of teenage thugs?

Writer-director Joe Cornish decided to find out.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 10: Attack the Block" »

Patrick Dougherty's Sculptures 'Inclined' to Come Down

PatrickDougherty-SoInclined-Mahaney CenterI miss them already. The strange-looking, twisty, teepee-esque sculptures, a grouping of botanical buddies that lean slightly, as if whispering secrets to each other. "So Inclined," the installation in front of the Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College, is coming down. Talk about planned obsolescence.

Renowned artist Patrick Dougherty created the site-specific sculpture in 2007, with the help of more than 200 local volunteers and from dogwood saplings harvested in Weybridge. The word "temporary" was built in. Today, Dougherty returns to campus for a talk about this, and other projects, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the Mahaney Center.

If you want to know why Dougherty believes in taking down what he has put up — "So Inclined" is soon to be chipped and recycled as compost — go to his talk and ask him.

Middlebury College is also inviting comments from visitors, and memories from those who helped install the sculpture four years ago, on a blog on the school's website.

Anyone who might find themselves nostalgic for "So Inclined," or wants to find out about more of Dougherty's installations, should pick up his recent monograph, Stickwork. Word has it the artist will be signing copies following his talk today.

Walking through Dougherty's sculptures is transformative, probably in ways unique to each visitor. For me, the spaces he creates feel intimate, contemplative; they manage to recall the magic of a childhood playhouse with a grown-up awareness of the evanescence of life. I've seen only one other work of Dougherty's firsthand, at the Joslyn Art Museum in my hometown of Omaha, Nebr. That one is called "Story-Telling Hut" and presides over the museum's "Discovery Garden. Aptly named.

Note to Patrick: Please return to Vermont to build another stickwork. My yard is available.

October 26, 2011

Democratic Mayoral Debates for Dummies

DSC00590If Burlington voters thought they had killed off instant runoff voting once and for all, think again.

It's alive and well in the Democratic primary for mayor — and boy does it show.

An upside to IRV is that it's supposed to allow candidates to focus less on a winner-take-all strategy and more on taking substantive policy stances that appeal to a wider range of people — people who may be endorsing one of their competitors.

The downside is that it makes for excruciatingly boooorrrriinnng debates, if you can even call them debates. They're more like live versions of a candidate's Facebook page — basic bio, interests, work history, a poke here and there.

Continue reading "Democratic Mayoral Debates for Dummies" »

What's The Deal With the Pumpkin On the Cover?

Is this week's cover pumpkin real or computer generated? Well, it’s a little bit of both. This year’s tech issue happened to fall on the Wednesday before Halloween, so we wanted a cover that combined the two themes. Our first thought was to carve the Tech Jam spaceman logo into a pumpkin, but we took it a step further in the tech direction and had it laser-etched instead, thanks to Michael Perrault from ExactBuilt in Underhill.

We went techie, too, in the way we lit up the pumpkin: with a refrigerator lightbulb instead of a candle.

See you at the Vermont Tech Jam, this Friday and Saturday in the Borders building in Burlington!

October 25, 2011

Alice Eats: Club Take 2

IMG_287321 Essex Way, Essex, 878-7231

In the spirit of the Vermont International Film Festival, which continues all this week, I thought it only appropriate to grab some big-screen eats.

Sure, I could have feasted on popcorn and candy anywhere, but at the Essex Cinemas, the selections are, well, a little more substantial.

Club Take 2 opened in the theater this summer with an ambitious menu that included house-cured charcuterie. It's been toned down to better appeal to the football fans who poured in last night to watch the game on the 20-foot theater screen in a side room of the restaurant. Still, the offerings are more sophisticated than one might expect and, even if you sit at a table in the dining room, just outside the large theater, you can start with popcorn.

IMG_2876After that, it was hard to choose. Sophisticated local-cheese plate with housemade preserves? Pan-seared salmon over penne? Nope, I opted to start simply, with the chicken tenders.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Club Take 2" »

Q&A: University of Vermont Robotics Researcher Josh Bongard

BongardHow and why did life on earth evolve in the myriad ways it did? Would creatures evolve in the same ways, and with the same anatomical structures, if we could rewind time and replay evolution over and over again? And, can humans create robots that not only evolve and learn but eventually become sentient?

These are just a few of the heady questions that University of Vermont robotics researcher Josh Bongard wrestles with every day. Little wonder, then, that on October 14, Bongard was one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The White House honor came with a $500,000 research grant. (And in case you're wondering, no, that's not Bongard's Lamborghini parked outside of Votey Hall.)

This week, the 37-year-old Toronto native took a short break from his research in UVM's Morphology, Evolution and Cognition Lab to talk about his work and the future of "computational evolution." (For visual depictions of Bongard's work, check out the media link on his site.)

Bongard is one of 11 speakers at this Friday's TEDxUVM event. Registration for the Oct. 28 event is full but the seminars will be streaming live from the TEDxUVM website.

SEVEN DAYS: Did President Obama recognize you for one specific scientific breakthrough or discovery, or was it your entire body of work thus far?

Continue reading "Q&A: University of Vermont Robotics Researcher Josh Bongard" »

October 24, 2011

Fired Conductor Ronald Braunstein and VYOA Reach Settlement

Sota-RB-headshot-largeNearly a year after the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association fired Ronald Braunstein — and seven months since the former conductor-director sued the nonprofit — the parties have reached a settlement. You're probably wondering, for how much?

So did I. But today the VYOA issued a not-very-informative statement that basically suggests the opponents have kissed — or at least shaken hands — made up, and agreed to never say any more bad things about each other.

Here it is:

"The Board of Directors of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association and Ronald Braunstein are pleased to announce the resolution of their disagreements and the termination of litigation.

"VYOA wishes to make clear that under Mr. Braunstein's conducting, VYOA's students were inspired to reach new levels of musical excellence. As described by Board member Nancy Waples, 'It was truly remarkable to experience the connection he had with our students. The orchestra performed some of the most exhilarating concerts in the history of our organization and their passion was palpable throughout the concert hall.'

Continue reading "Fired Conductor Ronald Braunstein and VYOA Reach Settlement" »

Champlain College's Center For Digital Investigation Opens for Business

CC Ctr Digital Investigation#1Let the digital sleuthing begin!

The Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation just opened shop two weeks ago in Burlington's South End and already it's providing an invaluable service to Vermont companies, government agencies and state and local law enforcement.

Housed in the college's new Miller Center at Lakeside Campus, "C3DI" gives students an opportunity to work on real-life digital forensics investigations outside the classroom, in a setting that measures up to FBI and international forensics-industry standards.

Jonathan Rajewski is an instructor at Champlain College and a digital forensics examiner with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, based at the Burlington Police Department. Rajewski runs C3DI with Michael Wilkinson, a former digital criminal investigator with the New South Wales Police Force. There, Wilkinson oversaw a team of about two dozen experts who handled more than 1000 digital forensic investigations per year for Australia's largest crime-fighting agency.

Continue reading "Champlain College's Center For Digital Investigation Opens for Business" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684