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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


November 15, 2013

Night Vale Welcomed Anaïs Mitchell

This is kinda old news, like practically a year old, but hey. It took me that long to discover the "Welcome to Night Vale" podcast, which apparently is a top download on iTunes.

It's a twice-monthly "community update" for an imaginary desert town where hooded figures roam the forbidden dog park, "glow clouds" menace downtown traffic, and the city council appears to be composed of ill-intentioned immortals. It's also weirdly soothing. If you enjoy David Lynch, H.P. Lovecraft, mellifluous voices and/or making fun of unflappable public radio personalities, you should discover it immediately, too. Perhaps you already have.

Anyway, today I was listening to last December's episode 12, "The Candidate," and who should I hear as the voice of "the weather" but Vermont's own Anaïs Mitchell? (The Night Vale weather forecast is always musical, with a different artist featured each time.) The song was "Of a Friday Night," misidentified in the podcast as "The Brightness," and it sounded appropriately spooky and ethereal. You can hear the whole episode here.

November 04, 2013

Mug-gate Update: Step Away From the 2005 Cup, Please

Fall_2005_MugUPDATE NOVEMBER 6, 2013: VPR clarifies that it is unable to test mugs from 2002 and older, and that is why it recommends owners of those mugs discontinue use.

Also, the issue with the 2005 mug is, in fact, lead detected in the ceramic, not in the design printed on it. It was the only mug out of 34 tested that did not meet FDA requirements.

News that has the word "lead" in it is usually bad news. But Vermont Public Radio's announcement today about "Mug-gate" was mostly good. Of all the artist-designed mugs VPR recently has had tested for the presence of the heavy metal, all but one passed with flying colors, i.e., met FDA regulations.

However, if you're a donor who's been drinking your coffee from the 2005 artist mug pictured here, well, you are advised to stop. Especially if you're a young child or pregnant woman. Better to turn that mug into a planter or pen holder.

In fact, VPR suggests donors not drink from any cup made in 2002 or earlier, just to be on the safe side.

The 2005 mug's artwork by Chris Varricchione is not to blame; neither is the Chinese manufacturer of the white ceramic cup. Rather, it's the Pennsylvania vendor that imprinted the art on the glazed mug. 

To its credit, VPR has stayed in front of this story since another mug was in question in late September (see our previous post about the lead discovery here). Today's press announcement noted that VPR has purchased the mugs from China but used various American vendors to ink the designs. 

The station is now reconsidering its tradition of gifting artist mugs to donors in fundraising campaigns. Says today's announcement:  ..."members of the VPR staff have started to examine a future reboot of the program, including domestic sourcing of mugs and the continued use of organic-based inks."

Added Brendan Kinney, vice president of development and marketing, “We have learned much over the last month as we navigated this complicated issue. We appreciate the feedback that we’ve received from our listeners and are working diligently to maintain their trust and loyalty.”

Image of mug courtesy of VPR.


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