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March 2012

March 26, 2012

Study: Sen. Bernie Sanders Tops List for Congress' Most "Influential" and "Engaged" Tweety Bird

Button-300x200-1"Gentlemen, start your hashtags:" Ever sat up nights wondering which political party spends more time tweeting and which members of Congress do so most effectively? Me, neither.

Still, that didn't stop the social-media gurus at Edelman Digital in Washington, D.C., from lighting up the twalaxy (or "Twitter galaxy," for you newbies) with the results of its new study, "Capitol Tweets: The Yeas and Nays of the Congressional Twitterverse."

Edelman identified five metrics for measuring so-called "Twitter success — engagement, mentions, amplification, follower growth, and tweetlevel influence — and looked at the behaviors that influenced those metrics across key demographics." 

Over a period of 112 days spanning from September 2 to December 25, 2011 — who Tweets on Christmas Eve? — the researchers examined 456 member handles who made a total of 59,270 tweets. During that time, the researchers found, congressionaal tweeters had more than 5.1 million followers, more than 1.3 million "mentions" and an average of 130 tweets per handle. And you thought your job was boring.

After all the numbers were crunched, guess who came out as the grand master of the 140-character word form? Vermont's own independent senator, Bernie Sanders, who ranked number one for both overall "influence" and "engagement," number three for "trust" and number four for "popularity." Imagine that: a Brooklyn-born socialist from Vermont tops the list for most engaged and influential member of Congress. That noise you're hearing is the sound of Fox News-watching heads exploding all across the heartland.

Continue reading "Study: Sen. Bernie Sanders Tops List for Congress' Most "Influential" and "Engaged" Tweety Bird" »

The Vermont Brew Bracket: Close Results and Upsets in Round 2

Beerbracket-logoThe second round of the Vermont Brew Bracket is over, ending in some shockingly close matchups — and a few blowouts, too.

First, the close ones: In a victory for hop-heads, Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA defeated top-seeded Magic Hat #9 by just 22 votes. What an upset!

In an even closer matchup, Shed Mountain Ale took down Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout by a mere 5 votes. And Trout River Rainbow Red beat Rock Art Vermonster by 41 votes.

Hill Farmstead Edward, Switchback Ale, the Alchemist Heady Topper and Long Trail Ale all won their matchups by more comfortable margins.

The big winner of the round was, once again, Woodchuck Amber Cider, who blew out Otter Creek Copper Ale. The number of votes in that pairing was nearly twice as many as any other in the round. (Two things to say about that. First, to other brewers: Woodchuck is winning big thanks to lots of promo on its Facebook and Twitter pages — push this to your social-media fans, or Woodchuck will win this thing handily. Second, to Woodchuck fans: You can vote for Woodchuck AND vote in the other matchups! But maybe not if you've got a gluten allergy.) Woodchuck's social-media juggernaut faces its toughest challenge yet in the next round: the Alchemist Heady Topper.

Now we're on to the regional finals — the Heady Eight. The winners from this round will move on to the prestigious Final Pour, so choose wisely. Voting for this round closes Tuesday night at midnight. Click here to cast your votes.

March 25, 2012

An Interview With Embattled Monologuist Mike Daisey on His Apple Show

DaiseyYou may have heard about Mike Daisey by now. He's the monologuist who's spent the past year and a half performing his new monologue, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which examines the links among Apple, industrial design and overseas manufacturing. Pieces of the monologue focusing on the harsh working conditions at Apple's Chinese factories were excerpted on "This American Life" earlier this year. It made for an incredibly compelling hour of radio.

And then this happened. Daisey made a repeat apperance on "This American Life," this time to answer to charges that he made a bunch of stuff up about his trip to the factories in China. It was compelling, too — this time in a raw, incredibly uncomfortable way as a Hulking-out Ira Glass deconstructed the lies.

After that show aired, Daisey gave a talk at Georgetown responding to the controversy (transcript here, audio here). He sounded defensive, even angry as he defended the greater impact of his work and condemned the media for focusing on him instead of the factories.

But when I spoke to him a few days later, he seemed contrite, content and ready to move on and fix his mistakes as best he could. It should be fascinating to hear him perform "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" at the Flynn Center on March 31. Will Daisey's tale still resonate emotionally with the audience? Will people still care to listen?

Click here to read the full interview with Mike Daisey.

Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus

March 23, 2012

Grazing: Flatbread & Fiddlehead in Shelburne

Folinos_1When I first met John Koerner this winter, he was covered in dust from a day of work on Folino's, the wood-fired pizzeria he was busy building next to the adjacent Fiddlehead Brewing (Koerner is actually Fiddlehead's landlord). Outside, the words "Beer and Pizza" adorned the front of the building; inside, the future Folino's was still all rubble and tools with a foil-covered stone oven in its midst. Chairs and tables had yet to materialize.

The kinetic Koerner, who used to own the Bagel in Shelburne, fretted about turning out the perfect crust. On the one hand, he mused, “You just throw it in there; it puffs up and looks perfect." But even up until a few days ago, Koerner worried that the test pies he and his staff were turning out weren't up to snuff. Fiddlehead opened in January, but by mid-March, Koerner was still putting the finishing touches on his business.

Continue reading "Grazing: Flatbread & Fiddlehead in Shelburne" »

Movies You Missed 31: The Myth of the American Sleepover

Myth-american-sleepoverThis week in movies you missed: Awkward teenagers doing awkward teenage things the way teenagers actually do, which will not remind you of Project X or American Pie.

What You Missed:

In a Detroit suburb, in an unspecified era (no cellphones or internet, no obvious '70s or '80s gear), it's the last day before school starts. All the kids are headed for parties or sleepovers or just trolling around in the hopes of getting that cute guy/girl to notice them.

Maggie (Claire Sloma, pictured), a lowly freshman, ditches her all-girl sleepover to look for trouble. Claudia (Amanda Bauer) wants to make friends at her new school but finds herself making waves instead. Rob (Marlon Morton), a virgin, can't stop thinking about the blonde he saw at the supermarket. Scott (Brett Jacobsen), a college student just dumped by his long-time girlfriend, tries to recapture his high school prime by seducing a pair of twins.

All these plotlines weave their way through David Robert Mitchell's directorial debut, which screened at Cannes and a bunch of other festivals.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 31: The Myth of the American Sleepover" »

Breaking Dad: Author David Sheff Talks About His Book 'Beautiful Boy' and His Son's Meth Addiction

David_sheffThere’s an inherent repetitiveness to all books about alcoholism or drug addiction. The reader knows immediately that if the main character enters rehab just a third of the way into the story, a relapse — or more likely, a series of relapses — is just page turn away. That's the nature of addiction: It's a vicious circle, or more accurately, a vicious spiral that typically moves only downward.

Beautiful Boy, David Sheff’s 2008 #1 New York Times bestseller about his son Nic's rapid descent into methamphetamines addiction, is no less gripping because you already know what's coming: Nic, an exceedingly bright, athletic and creative boy, starts drinking and smoking pot as a northern California preteen and soon moves on to harder stuff before discovering his drug of choice: crystal meth.

What unfolds over the ensuing 300-plus pages of Sheff's compelling and heart-wrenching memoir is all-too-familiar terrain to the families of addicts: the lying, stealing, guilt, self-recrimination, broken promises, sleepless nights, police cars, and seemingly endless visits to emergency rooms, Al-Anon meetings and drug rehab centers. And tears. Lots and lots of tears.

But the book, which is unsparing in its gritty honesty, also offers tremendous hope to those who assume there's no road back from addiction to an insidious drug that permanently alters the brains of its users.

Sheff, whose pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired and elsewhere, based this book on a February 2005 article he wrote for the  New York Times Magazine called "My Addicted Son." Since the publication of Beautiful Boy, Nic Sheff has published two books of his own about his meth habit: Tweak and We All Fall Down.

Sheff, 56, will be speaking at Burlington's Contois Auditorium on Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. (Tickets are $15. Click here for more info.) He was invited to Vermont by documentary filmmaker Bess O’Brien, of Kingdom County Productions, whose latest project addresses prescription opiate abuse in St. Albans. Following Sheff's talk, he'll take part in an open panel discussion, moderated by Mitch Barron, with St. Albans pediatrician Dr. Fred Holmes and two recovering prescription-pill addicts.

Seven Days spoke to Sheff by phone at his home in Inverness, Calif.

SEVEN DAYS: You must get many invitations to speak to community groups all around the country. What convinced you to come to Vermont? It couldn’t just be for the Ben & Jerry’s and maple syrup.

DAVID SHEFF: Do you know Bess O’Brien? She’s sort of a force of nature and hard to say no to. But, yes, I get a lot of invitations and I like to do them. It’s really gratifying to connect with people, and it also relates to the new book I’m working on... about the addiction treatment system, what works, what doesn’t, and what’s wrong with the system we have here in America. So, going to different places is instructive. Most places have very similar issues but there are specifics to specific places and  specific drugs... Plus, it sounds like Bess is doing some really interesting work. That has a lot to do with it. And, the maple syrup.

SD: You write in Beautiful Boy that your own experimentation with drugs was a flaw that you passed on to your son. Have your other two kids avoided using drugs?

DS: They have. You don’t have to convince them that drugs are really, really bad. They were scared to death... When I was growing up, my parents talked to me about drugs. They warned me [with] information they probably got from public service announcements on TV and PTA meetings. So, I thought they were totally clueless, and they were, about drugs. They had no idea. So, because of my experiences, I understood, and understand, why people use drugs, both for the social part of it and also the relief they can provide when you’re stressed out. I understood the draw of drugs and I wasn’t naive about the dangers. It wasn’t just someone giving me these Nancy Reagan-like “Just say no” warnings. I had one friend I wrote about who died... one who ended up in prison, another who ended up out of his mind and who slowly drifted off into oblivion.

Continue reading "Breaking Dad: Author David Sheff Talks About His Book 'Beautiful Boy' and His Son's Meth Addiction" »

Burlington State Senator Among 130 Arrested at Vermont Yankee Protest

Thursday was a big day for Burlington’s own Sen. Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden). He played hookie from the legislature, got himself arrested at a protest, spent a few hours in the Brattleboro clinker, and made it back to South Burlington for the premiere of The Hunger Games at the Palace 9.

All in a day’s work, I guess.

Marking the first day of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s operation after its 40-year federal license was set to expire, more than 1000 opponents of the Vernon plant marched Thursday afternoon from a Brattleboro park to the local headquarters of VY owner Entergy Corp. (Some estimates pegged the number of protestors closer to 1500.)

Baruth bookingAccording to Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn, more than 130 of them were arrested for unlawful trespass as they sought to approach Entergy’s corporate office building.

Among them: Sen. Baruth, who has advocated for years against the plant’s continued operation — first as an activist and blogger and now as a member of Chittenden County’s six-member senate delegation. (Pictured is the BPD's makeshift booking station, as captured by Baruth.)

Baruth says he first considered engaging in civil disobedience in January during a weekly appearance on WKVT’s “Live and Local” radio show with Steve West. The two — and Newfane activist Dan Dewalt — were discussing Federal District Court Judge Garvan Murtha’s decision to allow VY to continue operating despite Vermont lawmakers’ efforts to close down the plant.

“The more I thought about this particular moment with the 40-year anniversary and the closing date, I thought it was the thing to do,” Baruth says.

Continue reading "Burlington State Senator Among 130 Arrested at Vermont Yankee Protest" »

The Vermont Brew Bracket: On to Round 2

Beerbracket-logoWe closed out the first round of the Vermont Brew Bracket yesterday with a couple big wins and a couple upsets.

First, the big wins: Switchback Ale and the Alchemist Heady Topper both broke 80 percent on their way to big wins over Northshire Equinox Pilsner and the Bobcat Cafe's Dauntaun Braun, respectively.

As for upsets, Lawson's Finest Liquids saw its Fayston Maple Imperial Stout pull out a surprise win over Trapp Lager, while Woodchuck Amber Cider came back from an early deficit to defeat Vermont Pub and Brewery's Burly Irish Ale. Incidentally, Woodchuck's win came with the most votes in any matchup, thanks to a big social push from Woodchuck's thousands of Twitter followers. Take note, breweries: your social media followers LOVE voting for stuff.

Continue reading "The Vermont Brew Bracket: On to Round 2" »

For Anaïs, a Short While Ago: Bon Iver Covers Anaïs Mitchell

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Vermont's favorite (former) Righteous Babe, Anaïs Mitchell, became good pals a couple of years ago, when Vernon lent his airy falsetto to Mitchell's Hadestown recording and the two toured together through Europe. Recently, the Grammy-winning Vernon — who somehow won the 2012 "Best New Artist" statuette for his third release — did a version of Mitchell's "Coming Down," from her new album, Young Man in America, for Australia's Triple J Radio station. It's a nifty take on Mitchell's tune, and Vernon and company manage to make it sound, well, just like a Bon Iver song, which ain't exactly a bad thing. Check it out:


March 22, 2012

Do Ask, Do Tell! Norwich University to Celebrate Its First-Ever "Pride Week"

800px-Rainbow_flag_and_blue_skiesThe oldest private military college in the United States is about to get doubly fabulous: Next week, Norwich University in Northfield will celebrate its first-ever "Pride Week" from March 26 to 31. The schedule of queer-tastic festivities includes a keynote address by Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, as well as remarks by Gov. Peter Shumlin at Norwich's first Queer Prom on Saturday, March 31. And, in keeping with the fine military tradition of not just opening doors but kicking them down, NU's Pride Week will also feature a tie dye t-shirt-making event, a "Free Love Dance" and a "Condom Olympics." What's next — celebratory bong hits with a brigadier general?

Continue reading "Do Ask, Do Tell! Norwich University to Celebrate Its First-Ever "Pride Week"" »

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