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January 2012

January 25, 2012

USDA's New Plant Hardiness Zone Confirms Vermont Is Getting Warmer

Vt"Hot enough for ya?" Get used to hearing that remark a lot more than you used to, or so say climatologists and atmospheric researchers. As this week's Seven Days cover story "Totally Uncool" points out, Mother Nature's warning signs are now big and obvious enough for even us nonscientists to notice.

The newest evidence? Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled its new, 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone map. The Vermont map confirms what local growers have been saying for years: The Green Mountain State is becoming more temporate and now more resembles the climate of Virginia in the 1960s.

What's worse, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at their present rate, by 2080 Vermont will look and feel more like northern Georgia. The good news? More peach cobbler. The bad news: Say goodbye to real Vermont maple syrup.

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Joy Madden Dances Her Way Through Motherhood at Burlington Dances

Joy PosterWhen I first heard the title of Joy Madden's new dance-theater piece, The Giant in the Washing Machine, I thought, I know that guy! He's responsible for the terrifying thump-and-rattle that thunders from my laundry room when the washer starts to walk itself across the room.  

Madden's giant, of course, is a metaphor for those rare moments when the mundane world of adulthood (e.g., doing laundry) collides with the enchanted world of childhood (laundry monsters!).

The 40-year-old choreographer has two kids, ages 4 and 7. "I’ve been really fascinated by the idea of being a mother and witnessing the experience of being a child," she says.

And, as any dancer might do, she's funneled that fascination into her creative work. Motherhood, childhood and the ways in which they overlap are the focus of the evening-length piece Madden will perform this weekend at Burlington Dances.

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January 24, 2012

Alice Eats: Castlerock Pub at Sugarbush

IMG_3462Lincoln Peak Village, Warren, 583-6311

I recently traded lift tickets I won at Top Hat's Trivia Mania for a restaurant gift certificate. That should tell you everything you need to know about my nonexistent interest in skiing. Sure, I have balance issues, but I'm also lazy.

What occasionally interests me is a good après-ski menu. It was the bill of fare at Castlerock Pub that inspired me to make the trek to Sugarbush on Sunday.

I was glad to have relatively mobile feet, unbound by ski boots, as I made my way through Lincoln Peak Village. Just past the parking lot, a new tasting room devoted to East Shore Vineyards wines boded well for a gustatory experience.

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January 20, 2012

Movies You Missed 22: Mysteries of Lisbon

Mysteries-lisbonThis week in movies you missed: Remarkable coincidences! Swooning! Duels! Ridiculously effective disguises! Yes, we're dealing with a plot based on a 19th-century novel — as realized by an amazing filmmaker.

What You Missed

Portugal does "Masterpiece Theater" with this adaptation of Camilo Castelo Branco's 1854 novel from recently deceased Chilean director Raoul Ruiz. The plot centers on an apparently orphan boy, Pedro (João Arrais), raised at a school run by the kindly Father Dinis (Adriano Luz). His true parentage is the film's first "mystery." (Hint: In 19th-century novels, every obscure orphan turns out to belong to the nobility.)

Once that's been solved, we explore a bunch of other plots and subplots, most of them linked by the protean figure of Dinis, who has borne various colorful identities and names in his life. He's not the only quick-change artist: Another central character is the dashing Alberto de Magalhães (Ricardo Pereira), a self-made millionaire who once went by the name Knife Eater.

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Grazing: Sole Meunière With Meyer Lemon

Sole_meuniereOld habits die hard. It's around this time every year when the most ambitious post-holiday food resolutions begin to fade, and fat, sugar or other offenders begin to creep back into our diet. After all, it's freezing out, and the body wants to pack on calories as much as the mind wants to keep them at bay.

Sole meunière is one of those dishes that gracefully treads the line between abstinence and indulgence — it's clean and light on the one hand (fish, herbs, lemon), and kind of naughty on the other (butter, wine). Most appealing, though, is its simplicity: The sauce is ridiculously simple but flavorful, composed of just three ingredients. Famously, it was the first dish Julia Child ever tasted in Paris, and she called it "a morsel of perfection" and "the most exciting meal of my life."

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Reid Postpones Vote on PROTECT IP Act; Leahy Criticizes Senate Colleagues

Wiki-blackoutWednesday was the day the internet stood still to protest a pair of antipiracy bills in the U.S. Congress — and it looks like it worked. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has postponed a vote on the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), a much-criticized bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy.

"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act," Reid said in a statement. This doesn't mean PIPA is dead, though — just sleeping for now. Reid, who supported the bill, praised Leahy's work on PIPA and stressed that there remains a need for strong antipiracy legislation.

In a statement of his own, Leahy said he understood Reid's decision to indefinitely postpone the vote, but he blasted his Senate colleagues for making a "knee-jerk reaction," and said that criminals are "smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy." Leahy's full statement is after the jump.

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Photo Gallery Wants Performers to 'Show Off Their Human Forms'

Darkroom Gallery wants your body. 4corrnersPC

Well, not just any body. They're looking for one or two "tastefully and scantily clad" performers, dancers or models to enhance the opening reception of their new exhibit, "The Human Form," on Sunday, January 29, from 3-5 p.m.

These underdressed specimens won't exactly be performing — "I don't want the focus taken off the photographs," says gallery manager Susan Robinson — but they will "show off their human forms." In other words: They'll be just a couple more works of art.

"We're this little gallery in Essex Junction," says Robinson. "We're trying to bring more people in." If there's one surefire way to get folks through the door, it's the promise of a little flesh.

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January 19, 2012

Statehouse Reacts to Vermont Yankee Ruling

DSC01647Bob Stannard was standing in the Statehouse cafeteria Thursday when his phone rang. It was Gov. Peter Shumlin, calling to tell him that a federal judge had finally ruled on Vermont Yankee's lawsuit against the state. Entergy, owner of the nuclear power plant Stannard had lobbied to shut down for five years, had won. The state had lost.

"I haven't had a chance to read this tome," said Stannard (pictured), glancing over the 102-page decision on his iPhone. "It appears we'll get nothing from Entergy except radiation and spent fuel. We get stuck with their waste."

News spread quicky through the capitol Thursday afternoon after federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that the 40-year-old nuclear reactor can remain open past 2012, and that the Vermont Legislature pre-empted federal authority when it voted to shut the plant down two years ago. Stannard fought to close the plant for five years as the lobbyist for the Vermont Citizens Action Network. He witnessed a major milestone in 2010 when the Vermont Senate, led by then-Senate President Peter Shumlin, voted 26 to 4 against letting state regulators hear the plant's petition for a 20-year license extension.

At the time, a series of radioactive leaks and false statements by company officials had Entergy on the run. But Entergy sued the state, contending that federal agencies, not states, had sole authority to regulate nuclear power. When Thursday's ruling arrived in favor of Vermont Yankee, Stannard and other Statehouse denizens seemed disappointed, but hardly surprised.

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Shit Vermonters Say

You may have heard about the "Shit People Say" meme that's taken the internet by storm in the past month. It began with the "Shit Girls Say" video, in which a guy dressed in drag recites stereotypically girly phrases. This went viral after a few million people said "OMG this is soooo true!" and shared it on Facebook. Next came the copycat videos, which became increasingly specific/offensive — "Shit Guys Say," "Shit Black Girls Say," "Shit Drunk Girls Say," "Shit Girls Say to Gay Guys," "Shit Middle-Aged Guys Say While Waiting In Line at the Bank," and so on.

A recent sub-genre of the "Shit People Say" meme has been the rise of the geographically focused videos, ranging from the obvious ("Shit New Yorkers Say") to the less-obvious ("Shit Austinites Say"). Fashionably late as always, there still hasn't been a Shit Vermonters Say video, but Vermont's Twitter community filled the void admirably today, beginning with @whitneyinvt. Here are a few of our favorites. Thanks for giving us an excuse to stare at Twitter instead of doing real work today, Whitney.

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Ag Activist Balks at Popular "Working Lands" Bill


Top among Vermonters’ values is this: Ninety-seven percent of residents in the state say the “working landscape” is key to Vermont’s future. 

That’s according to questions asked in 2008 and 2009 by the Council on the Future of Vermont, which conducted what they’re calling the most comprehensive survey of Vermonters’ values in the state’s history. More so than any other value, Vermonters could agree on the fact that supporting farm- and forestland is important. Now, champions of the new “Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill” are parlaying that support into a plan that backers say could revitalize Vermont’s farm and forestry economies.

The bill (known by Statehouse followers as H.496/S.246), is currently being reviewed by the House ag and commerce committes and the Senate ag and economic development committees. When the bill cropped up for a public hearing last night in Montpelier, the mood in the Statehouse meeting room was overwhelmingly supportive.

Groton farmers market manager Mary Berlejung said she’d watched farmland disappear first on Long Island, then in Fairfax County, Va., and didn’t want to see the same thing happen in Vermont. Montpelier resident and well-known writer Tom Slayton called the bill a “bold step” that would protect the working landscape that he called a signature of the state. From Bethel resident Carl Russell came this: “It’s about time.”

So… what’s not to like?

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