Month: February 2016

So You Would Like To Be Heard


Recently we’ve become aware of the fact that several folks in town do interesting podcasts. That’s delightful! Podcasts are after all the radio of the future.

But have you considered the radio… of the past? Which is to say just plain broadcast radio?

Your local low power FM station – 103.3FM WXOJ Valley Free Radio – has resources for you to use, friendly member of the local community! So what can they do for your podcast? Lots!

Scenario 1: I Want to Start a Podcast… But I Don’t Have Any Good Equipment!

Valley Free Radio is happy to help! You can use their brand new community recording studio! They have mics, they have a computer, they have soundproofing that’s better than your living room.

What are the restrictions?

  • You can only record in the studio when a member of the VFR team is there to actually let you in. For the most part, this should not be an issue. But keep in mind that if a sudden illness hits the staff at VFR, you’ll need to make other plans.
  • You need to add a little stinger to the end of each episode of your podcast noting that this was recorded at the VFR studio.

What are the benefits?

  • You can record audio and then take that audio and do what you want with it, delightful!

Scenario 2: I Have a Podcast, But I Want To Be on the Radio!

Valley Free Radio is looking for new programs, so you’re in luck! You can record at the station or you can do live broadcasts if you’d like! Go to and fill out the online form to get started!

What are the restrictions?

  • No racism/sexism.
  • No swears. Thank the FCC.
  • No promoting products. VFR is a non-profit, and there are rules about this sort of thing!
    • You can probably say “Hi, I’m the creator of the Ice Cream Cone and you can find out more about my invention at” at the end of your show.
    • You cannot say “Go to Herrell’s and buy an ice cream cone, folks!” or “If ice cream cones sound tasty, go pick one up at your local retailer!”
    • Yes, it’s subjective and a bit thorny at times, but the volunteers at VFR are happy to speak with you about the specific implications for the w
  • You need to go to a training on station practices and equipment usage.
  • You need to sign a contract with the station stating you’ll follow FCC and station guidelines.
  • You need to contribute. Either with some volunteer work at the station or with a flat monthly fee of $20-$30, plus a $30 membership fee.

What are the benefits?

  • Access to the airwaves! VFR, as you can see by the map above, has about a 15-mile radius coverage area centered around Florence.
  • Access to the station! You can record any time day or night in either studio, with the caveat of course that you can’t overlap with another person. You can pre-record your shows at a time that works for you!
  • An audience! VFR already has regular listeners and a bunch of people who listen to the stream online, so you’d be able to start reaching people immediately who might otherwise never hear about your podcast. Some VFR shows have a dedicated international following!
  • A neutral professional space! People aren’t always interested in interviews/guest appearances that take place in a person’s living room. The radio station is a comfortable and convenient place to meet.
  • The ability to have call-in guests easily!
  • The thrill of creating live content!
  • Help from friendly volunteers! The people at VFR are capable radio producers who can help you with any issues that pop up in the process of making, editing, and promoting your show.
  • A specialized email address so you can easily communicate with fans of your show!
  • Access to a private Facebook group just for VFR programmers where they talk about the station and answer questions about the work.

So there you have it. Whatever you’d like to do with your podcast, VFR can help you do it. Just talk to the station volunteers! You can get in touch with them here.


February 29th – March 6th

The Valley Nerd Watch!

So this past week we had a chance to check out The VVitch, and we recommend it to all of our readers who like tense drama about devoutly religious families set in the 1600’s and also those who’d like to hear a whole crowd of 16 year-old horror fans go “Wait… what? That wasn’t even scary!” simultaneously. For real though it was a pretty neat film andwe recommend you check it out even if you’re not usually into horror flicks or not usually into family drama films.

We also got to check out a neat game made by Worcester-based Zephyr Workshop, A.E.G.I.S. It’s pronounced “technically, there’s no record of how to pronounce words written in ancient Greek so don’t worry about it.” It’s a game about combining robits, meaning you get the option to forgo squad tactics and just glomp together into your own personal Voltron/Megazord. It’s a good time! We’ll be writing something more detailed about it this week. We also got a chance to interview the lead designer, which will also go up this week!

We played Hanabi at a local bar, which is great! It involves trying to figure out how to arrange a bunch of cards from 1-5 in each of five colors without knowing what cards you’re holding. So you need to give clues about either the number or the color of cards to each other about what cards are what in order to make informed decisions. It’s hard as heck, but the scoring is on a continuum and it’s a co-op game so if you play with sensible people you’ll have a fun time even if you fail to get a perfect score.

Also we’ve been playing Grim Dawn again and we are doing our best to put a stop to that because wow that thing is just a beautiful, terrifying timesink. Really recommend it to anyone interested in Diablo-style Action RPGs, though. Lots of interesting systems of improving your tiny click-fighter, and some fun exploration elements.

Go check out the Valley Creators page! As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!



Wednesday, March 2nd
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 4:30PM to 6:30PM
Submissions and Revisions
Are you a writer? Then you probably enjoy writing. What you probably do not enjoy is the process of submitting your work! Because it’s the worst and also demoralizing and anxiety-ridden. So do it with pals! Hang out and submit all your brilliant work with a bunch of other people ready to cheer you on when you shout out “sent!”
Thursday, March 3rd
Emily Dickinson Museum [280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Amherst Art Walk and Poetry Night
The museum is going to be participating in art walks on the first Thursday of every month! There’s going to be a one-night-only art exhibit by Nancy Meagher, a poetry open mic, and a couple of featured poetry readers: Nina Shallman and Lori Desrosiers! It’s a treat for any poetry fans and also we’re guessing especially Dickinson fans.

Board Games:

Sunday, March 6th
Comics N’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00PM to 4:00PM
Sunday Heroclix!
Heroclix! You can make little superhero figures fight each other, which is fun! And supervillain figures. This week we suggest that you make a team of nothing but people who currently have mohawks, had mohawks in the past, or for whom you can make a compelling case that they would look cool with mohawks.


Monday, February 9th
Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College [50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 6:30pm
Jhumpa Lahiri, In altre parole/In Other Worlds
Jhumpa Lahiri is going to read from and discuss her new memoir, which is presented in both Italian and English. The book focuses on exile, both linguistic and otherwise. Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of widely acclaimed works of fictions such as “Intepreter of Maladies” and “The Namesake”!
Tuesday, March 1st
The Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 4:00pm
Cammie McGovern, Just My Luck
Cammie McGovern returns to the Jones Library to read from and discuss her new middle-grade novel! It’s her middle-grade debut, and it’s a moving novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart helps him cope with tragedy. Sounds adorable and also weepy!
Thursday, March 3rd
The Odyssey Bookshop [9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Amy Dryansky & Deb Gorlin
Local poets will come down to Odyssey and read from their new poetry collections! Amy Dryansky’s poems tackle marriage, relationships, and motherhood. Deborah Gorlin’s poems involve speaking to the dead for recognition and commemeration. Sounds like it’ll be interesting and also probably sad.
Saturday, March 5th
Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College [50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 2:30pm
A Discussion with Janet Mock
Janet Mock will speak at the 2016 Women of Color Trailblazers Leadership Conference, which is free and open to the public. Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America. She imparts vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized population.


Wednesday, March 2nd
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00PM to 8:30PM
Comics and Graphic Novels
Bang! Whip! Zing! Pow! Comics aren’t just for kids anymore! But for real there’s a bunch of wonderful work in the medium of comics and cartooning, a lot of it done right nearby! Join a trio of talented cartoonists – James Sturm, Tillie Walden, and James Lawson – as they show and read from their work!


Tuesday, March 1st
The Foundry [24 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm
Northampton Webdive – After Work
Meet up with fellow coders to talk about your work! Make connections, gripe about how no one really understands the sort of work you do well enough to make cogent requests of your time, and imbibe delicious drinks!


Wednesday, March 2nd
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00PM to 8:00PM
First Wednesday Speaker Series: I See You Have Studied Your Agrippa
Jeff Lord, the Lord of the Jeffs and Duke of the Geoffs, will come to the GPL to present an astonished crowd with sweet sword moves! Presumably there will also be some element of explanation and discussion, though we wouldn’t be opposed to just a silent dance of blades for two straight hours.
Thursday, March 3rd
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Anime Club
Anime! It’s cartoons. Watch and discuss with fellow fans in a friendly place! It’s a great opportunity to share your knowledge and expand your horizons. Also we saw some of the One Punch Man anime and it was pretty cute.
Friday, March 6th
Goodwin Memorial Library [50 Middle St., Hadley, MA] at 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Good Brew @ The Goodwin
A tasting event to benefit the Friends of the Goodwin Memorial Library. Too bad you can’t support the library itself, but it’s nice that they’ve chosen to put the focus on their pals. Drink local beers all brewed using Hadley’s own Valley Malt! Tickets are $10 each.


Tuesday, March 1st
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Film Screening: The Princess Bride
To prep for Jeff Lord’s presentation about swords on Wednesday, the library has wisely chosen to provide a free showing of this classic swording film! It’s fun, and some people are super duper into it, so maybe go check it out!
Sunday, March 6th
Yiddish Book Center [1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Film – Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love
Marvin Hamlisch is responsible for a lot of iconic music from movies and shows like “A Chorus Line” and “The Sting”. He also won a bunch of awards! The Book Center is going to show a detailed documentary of this musical master!


Thursday, March 3rd
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00PM to 10:30PM
Indie Role-Playing Games
Indie games! Did you know that due to the Confluence of the Spheres in the Time That Went our sleepy little Happy Valley is a nexus of RPGs? At Indie RPG Night you can try interesting new games that you may have missed, including those by local creators like Dread and Apocalypse World and Questlandia!
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 4:00PM to 6:00PM
RPG Club
Join fellow adventurers at Palmer Public Library to take on amazing adventures in fantastic worlds! Not certain what exactly they tend to play, but they’d sure love to have you. And if you want a quick game to pick up, we recommend locally-developed game The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku!


Wednesday, March 2nd
Stirn Auditorium, Mead Art Museum [41 Quadrangle Dr, Amherst, MA 01002] at 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Lecture by Professor Steven Nelson, “Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness”
Steven Nelson, the director of the UCLA African Studies Center and professor of African and African American art history at UCLA will investigate works from artists who focus on understanding African Ancestry, diaspora, and urban spaces. After the lecture, there’s a reception! Probably food too, nice.
Thursday, March 3rd
Nacul Center [592 Main St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:00PM to 7:00PM
Gone With the Wind: Tracking Human Impacts on Wildlife
As we sit waiting for the inevitable Mad Max future it’s just getting more important to dedicate ourselves to bold conservation efforts to preserve what biodiversity we have left. Dr. Paul Sievert will talk about why we’re seeing so many plants and animals becoming endangered and how we can conserve everything from the most adorable little bat to the most adorable giant albatross!
CORC (3rd Floor of the Library) Hampshire College [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:00pm – 7:15pm
Bridge to Graduate School Program: Information Session
Learn about graduate school applications with the help of the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers! Students interested in pursuing graduates studies are encouraged to attend. Our advice is to think very, very hard about the exact thing that a graduate education will allow you to do, assuming that tenure will basically not exist by the time you’ve gotten out.
Saturday, March 5th
Damon Education Center, Historic Northampton [46 Bridge St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 2:00pm
Martians and a Hole in the Sky: Amherst Astronomer David Todd
David Todd was a professor in the Valley around the turn of the last century. He built a telescope at Amherst College that was not only one of the best around in 1905 but is still around today! He was a leader in studies of the Sun’s atmosphere and the planet Mars. Professor George Greenstein will talk about the research of this interesting local scientist!
Woodbury Room, Jones Library [43 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:30pm – 4:00pm
Introduction to Green Burial – On the Same Page Amherst
Dr. Carol Coan will introduce people to the neat idea of green burial! You’ll learn about what one is, what makes it green, and where it cfan be done! Dr. Coan is an anthropologist with a special interest in what we do with bodies after death, making the rest of this event description really make a lot of sense.


Thursday, March 3rd
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:00PM to 8:30PM
Jones Library Trivia
Mark “Harpo” Power … wait, for real? Harpo? Deep cut on the nickname there. Anyway! Harpo’s going to host trivia! Enjoy the art walk, then come for trivia night! Two rounds of 15 questions a piece, suggested donation of $5, maximum 5 per team!

Video Games:

Friday, March 4th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 3:30PM to 4:30PM
Minecraft Club
Construct! Destroy! Deconstruct! Reconstruct! It’s a wild world out there, and all you have is a shovel and also actually a ton of other fun tools you can construct and little furnishings it’s delightful. Registration is required for this event, check at the children’s desk for sign-up info. The club meets for an hour to do free play, group games, and challenges!
Sunday, March 6th
The Quarters [8 Railroad St., Hadley, MA] at 6:00pm – 9:00pm
MAKE TALK PLAY: Global Game Jam Game Demo
So the Five College Global Game Jam event hosted at Hampshire College last month was a big success! THe PVGD want to say thank you to all the people who attended and helped out by hosting a shindig and having people shocase their games! Sounds like a cool time for all.

Speaking with Chandra Hughes of Chisa Studios

Local creator Chandra Hughes is a Hampshire student who co-founded a small game design studio that specializes in “Visual Novel” games, which are basically what they sound like? Choose-your-own-adventure stories with stats and pictures and also you tend to wind up involved in about a half-dozen simultaneous whirlwind romances and/or puzzle solving competitions. download

She and the rest of Chisa Studios have been hard at work between studies getting this small primarily student-staffed studio set up to produce their first game! We got to speak to her this week about that game, Bitter Truth, and about her experiences getting into game development.

James Olchowski: Hello! Thanks for talking to me today.
Chandra Hughes: Hey, thanks for having me.

JO: Were you born in the Valley? If not, what drew you here?
CH: No, I was not. I grew up in Manhattan. I am currently a student at Hampshire College which is how I ended up in the Valley. I really like this area though.

JO: You mentioned that you got into voice acting in 2010, what got you interested in voice acting?
CH: In high school, I stumbled across someone’s voice acting audition on youtube one day and decided to give it a shot for fandubs. After some practice, I bought a USB mic and spent most of my free time auditioning for projects on Voice Acting Alliance.

JO: What was your first voice acting experience?
CH: Honestly, I can not remember. But I will say, voice acting is the thing that brought me to video game production.

JO: And what exactly is a fandub, or the Voice Acting Alliance for that matter?
A fandub is fans dubbing a show. [Alright so… that makes sense. – ed.] I got involved in fandubbing for anime although people have certainly done it for TV shows and video games. Voice Acting Alliance is a website for those interested in finding online voice actors for their projects.

JO: Do you have recommendations for people interested in doing VA work?
CH: Recommendation wise, I’d highly suggest start by auditioning for fandubs. You learn a lot by imitating emotions that already exist from characters. Once you’re able to do that, it will be so much easier to voice original characters. Voice Acting Alliance is a great place to start!

JO: Have games always been a hobby for you?
CH: Yes and no. I wouldn’t call myself a gamer. But when I was a kid I would play a lot of Pokemon and other DS games. Honestly, I don’t remember why I started playing. It was certainly popular in my generation, but I remember picking up a gameboy one day and playing it.

I have also loved Japanese video games. Later down the road, when I became interested in game production, I got myself a ps3 and ps vita, and I have been trying well known titles since.

JO: When did you become interested in making a game?
CH: During my first semester at college, I took an introduction to game design course and fell in love with the production aspect of it. During that time, Bitter Truth had also arisen, and with the nice timing, I started developing games.

JO: How did you and Samantha start working together?
CH: Samantha and I are actually friends from middle school. I brought her into the voice acting world with me back in 2010, and since we both loved writing, we decided to write a valentine’s day radio play that was called “Tsurai Shinjitsu”. The project never was completed, and so we decided to revamp it into a visual novel, and changed the names to be a American, and hence “Bitter Truth”.

JO: I notice that neither you nor Samantha list programming as a skill, is it necessary to know how to code to make an interesting game? Did you need to call in specialists for any part of the process?
CH: While I do think knowing programming is beneficial, I do not think it’s necessity. Rather, if you under game design mechanics, that should suffice. That said, I do have minor programming experience as I’ve dabbled in Ren’Py (the visual novel engine we’re using) which certainly did make things easier.

JO: The inaugural game of Chisa Studios is a Visual Novel romance, why did you choose this format?
CH: I have always been a romance fan since a kid. When I encountered anime in sixth grade, I did not ever stop watching. I went through the sailor moon and magical girl phase, which had a huge romantic part in it. That said, we didn’t exactly choose to create a romantic visual novel. We had taken our romantic valentine’s radio play and decided we’d be able to expand on it, turning it into a visual novel.

JO: There have been, at last count, an infinite number of visual novels produced. What sets Bitter Truth apart for veterans and what makes it approachable for new players?
CH: What I can say is, Bitter Truth isn’t your typical romantic visual novel, and while it has elements of an Otome game, it is not completely an otome. The protagonist, Emilia Teague, is already in a relationship with her best friend, Callister Grant. In this sense, the gameplay revolves around Emilia’s life and interactions with other people, and less around deciding which guy she ends up with. Our game is heavily story based.

JO: Have you encountered any challenges putting working on a game with a small indie studio?
CH: Definitely. The biggest challenge, that I’m sure any indie can agree on is, budget. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to find people willing to volunteer their time to work on games, and we are very fortunate to have Gaby as our artist. Our team consists of college students and full-time employees, so there isn’t much free time for any of us to work on this, especially if they can not get compensated for their efforts.

JO: You’re going to Kickstarter for this work, were there challenges involved in setting up an effective Kickstarter? Do you have recommendations for fellow artists?
CH: There were a ton of challenges setting up the Kickstarter and still more to encounter. The biggest challenge is that we’re asking for $10,000 for the project which is a huge sum. With that in mind, we spend a lot of time working on promotional art, rewards and updates. Since September we updated twice a week. On Mondays we’d release a description of how we were building Bitter Truth, and on Fridays we would release the assets regarding the description. In terms of recommendations, I’d highly suggest spending a lot of time researching and listening to feedback. Audience is the key to success, and at the end of the day, the game is made for the fans, not for yourself.

JO: Not to be pessimistic, but is there a plan in place for if the Kickstarter doesn’t reach the final goal?
CH: Our publishing company, Sekai Project, and us are discussing a plan if the Kickstarter fails. At the moment we’ve decided that we would cancel the project and regroup. We’d discuss with the team on who would be willing to keep working on the project for fun, and see if we could launch another Kickstarter with a smaller goal. Each volunteer would get a small compensation.

JO: How do you keep Chisa Studios projects on track working with someone long-distance?
CH: It’s a lot of constant emailing back and forth, along with Skype calls. With our volunteers, we get a deadline from them and then check in periodically. Those for hire, we try to assign deadlines/ That said, it isn’t the easiest, especially with time differences.

JO: If you could only recommend one game to our readers, what would it be?
CH: Oh man, I’m never a fan of the “favorite” game. Considering I’m making a visual novel, I will go with one from that genre. I would suggest Clannad, for anyone who enjoys romance.

JO: What’s interesting about Clannad?
CH: I think Clannad’s gameplay mechanics are very impressive in terms of giving the player an immersed interactive experience. Choices really impact your ending on which character or story arc you end up in.

I’d recommend it to those who love romance because the game is highly romantic while still being realistic, in ways. There is a slight amount of supernatural in it as well. I did not attempt to imitate Clannad into my own work, as their protagonist is a single male while Bitter Truth has a female already in a relationship.

JO: Is there any other local work you’d like to highlight? Are there local developers that people should look up?
CH: I would love to highlight GlowLime Games, a student organization in the five colleges that aims to build a community of professional game developers. As the Operations Manager, I find working for this organization very rewarding in so many ways. For anyone in the Valley interested in trying game development or mentoring I’d highly suggest contacting us.

Thank you again for the interview. We have launched our Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight. Check it out! We’d love all the support we could get!

SciTech Cafe Tonight!

Dangit, forgot to check off this monthly event from our Happenings List yesterday. There’s a SciTech Cafe tonight! It’s about how the universe began, near as we can tell. Professor Gary Felder will talk about why the universe is how the universe is and how it all began. He’ll explain the Big Bang Theory, too!

Also, he’ll talk a bit about what that gravitational waves announcement was all about. What it means for science now, and how it relates to the theories that underpin our understanding of the early universe.

SciTech Cafe takes place at Union Station [125 Pleasant St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm – 7:30pm and there’s plenty of free parking on Mondays. SciTech is a family friendly event with free admission.

February 22nd – February 28th

The Valley Nerd Watch!

We beat XCOM! Look we know literally none of you care about this but this is immaterial, our braggadocio cannot be contained! It was neat! It was difficult and fun and we’re real excited to play it again with dozens of silly outfit modifications added.

It’s going to be in a little while, but remember to check out Nerd Nite this March at the World War 2 Club in Northampton! We took a February Break because we Wanted/Needed to do so but it’s back and better than ever the first Monday of March! What’s up this time? Relationships and mental health, and then also the New England Vampire Panics. Are these two discussions connected? Maaaaybe? Look, it’ll be fun just check it out.

Also! Big news! Our wonderful friend who writes awesome horror stories has written a horror story SO awesome that it is published! It’s on Pseudopod, a horror podcast! They got a really great narrator to read this story and creep you out! We’re kind of bowled over by how neat this is, everyone go read it!

We also saw Deadpool this week. Verdict: it was alright? Yeah? It was pretty good. It would have been a lot more interesting if it were 100% a comedic film instead of such a standard origin flick. But there were some good gags in there. And it’s kind of just amazing it got made!

Go check out the Valley Creators page! As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!



Tuesday, February 23rd
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 6:00pm
Playwriting Workshop for Teens and Adults
Are you interested in becoming the next Shakespeare? Then remember to keep in the dirty jokes, that’s what keeps the crowds coming back! Also attend this class and learn some skills for putting together a well-written play!

Board Games:

Saturday, February 27th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Star Wars X-Wing Learn to Play
It can be intimidating to pick up a new game, particularly when that new game is kind of expensive. So get to know this fun miniatures game with the friendly staff of Modern Myths!
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at 1:00pm
New York Grand Prix Trial
Kinda odd that there’s a grand prix trial at the local gaming shop. We’re pretty certain they don’t even have a track. But if for whatever reason you’re into F1 racing and living in Western Mass, go for it! Oh! Wait, it could be for Magic The Gathering, that makes more sense.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at 12:00pm
Age of Sigmar Trials of the Oighear
Okay this is about 95% words we cannot translate. But! This tournament has free entry and a bunch of prize support! Bring at least 31 models of what we are now gathering is a miniatures game! No wizards though! Wizards, who even likes them? Wait… then it says to bring an extra Wizard? Look we’re gonna leave this one to you, miniatures fans.
Sunday, February 28th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Star Wars X-Wing Learn to Play
It can be intimidating to pick up a new game, particularly when that new game is kind of expensive. So get to know this fun miniatures game with the friendly staff of Modern Myths!


Tuesday, February 23rd
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Alexander Chee, “The Queen of the Night”
Junot Diaz called this author “The fire, in my opinion, and the light”. We’re pretty sure that’s in the highest possible echelon of compliments. That’s the sort of thing a wizard says to you before you slay the darkness. So yeah, it seems like a good idea to hear him talk about his awesome book about the life of a circus rider turned opera diva.
Wednesday, February 24th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 4:00pm
Deborah Noyes, “Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original ‘Girl’ Reporter”
Nellie Bly is famous for faking mental illness to report on the incredibly horrific conditions of the infamous Roosevelt Island asylum. Learn all about this pioneer of justice from author Deborah Noyes and real live “girl” reporter Amanda Drane from the Valley Advocate!
Friday, February 26th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 6:30pm
YA Panel: Emily Lindin, Claire Needell, and Kim Savage
Join three new voices in YA lit for a candid conversation about how trauma affects young women. The memoir UnSlut pairs middle school journal entires with present-day footnots that add important context. The Word for Yes explores how date rape affected the relationship between three sisters, and finally After the Woods is a look at the aftermath of an abduction of two best friends. These three authors will talk about the importance of not shying from trauma in YA novels.


Wednesday, February 24th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Cyber Security Lecture
Learn a bit about cyber security awareness! Some of this will focus on how we now need actual decent security infrastructure for our computerized government services, and part of this will be some pretty simple common-sense ways to use the internet more safely!
Continuous Integration – Monthly Full Stack Meetup
What is continuous integration? Why do you need it? How do you get started? What’s that whirring noise? Why is everyone on the street in their bedclothes? What are they chanting? What are they all looking at? What are they seeing with those glassy unfocused eyes? Why… why are they turning toward your window? Join the meetup group to find out where this takes place!
Thursday, February 25th
ITBD – 3rd Floor Conference Center [185 Main St., New Britain, CT] at 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Design Thinking: The Game-Changing Strategy of Human-Centered Innovation
See a presentation about the the principles of Human-Centered Design and how to employ it as a way to solve problems! There’s also a Rapid Brainstorming Session to try it out!
Friday, February 26th
Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College at [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] 4:00pm – 8:30pm
Hamp Hack 2016 – First Interdisciplinary Hackathon
Hamp Hack! Interdisiplinary hackathon at Hampshire! It’s slightly different though! They’re not just looking to bring together techies to make tach, they’re looking for anyone from any background to come together and solve problems! Bring you skills!


Saturday, February 27th
Potluck and Dark Star
Join the delightful people from the Western Mass Sci-Fi Meetup Group and eat some delicious food while watching an old sci-fi flick. You should join though, so you can find it. You could also try just deduction? They might find that creepy though. They would definitely find that creepy. Join here!


Saturday, February 27th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Mutants & Masterminds RPG
Do you dream of being a superhero? Then make those dreams come true! Figuratively! By playing an RPG where you’re a group of superheroes. We recommend that you don’t go the easy route and make a dime-store imitation Superman, do something interesting! Make a character whose power is to materialize sweaters onto whomever they choose! The Sweaterator!
Sunday, February 28th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:30pm – 3:00pm
Feng Shui 2
Feng Shui had a sequel, in case you didn’t know. The sequel is less about rearranging your house to be more pleasing and more to do with it’s an RPG about movie-style super martial arts fighting. Weird place to take the franchise, we kind of hope Feng Shui 3 gets back to basics.


Thursday, February 25th
Smith College Museum of Art [20 Elm St, Northampton, MA 01063] at 5:00pm
The Cultural Work of Interactive Memorials: Lessons from the AIDS Memorial Quilt Digital Experience Project
Anne Balsamo, Dean of School of Media Studies and Professor of Media Studies at The New School, is going to discuss the creation of an interactive memorial designed to augment the viewing of the textile Quilt through digital experiences. She’s going to examine how public interactives are implicated in the practices of cultural reproduction.
Saturday, February 27th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 2:00pm
The Future of Renewable Energy in Massachusetts
State Representitive Stephen Kulik will talke about the future of renewable energy in Massachusetts! He’s going to discuss multiple upcoming legislative proposals affecting energy in our fair state. It’s pretty important to know this stuff, so pay attention! This event is cosponsored by the Sunderland Energy Committee.
Goodwin Library [50 Middle St., Hadley, MA] at 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Genealogy Workshop
Are you into the idea of finding out what your family used to do? Looking for secret connections to the ancient Kings of the Four Realms in order to cement your return, Bronnling? You’ll never regain your throne! The Usurper is too devious to allow that. Flee while you can, forget your past!
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 10:00am – 12:00pm
Meadow City Historians
Meadow City Historians is a group of people all united by a common interest in the research of local history. They welcome both amateurs and professionals, part-time and full-time, local and out-of-towners! To join, email them at and tell them about your research interests.
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Jones Library Makerspace (Ages 8-12)
Join the friendly librarians at Jones for their Makerspace! Kiddos cna come to learn, create, invent, and make neat things! Like robots. Or modelling clay and craft supplies! Or a combination, like a robot with clay tendons.
Sunday, February 28th
Deerfield Community Center [84B Old Main St, Deerfield, MA 01342] at 2:00pm
Winter Lecture Series 2016: Commemoration of the 312th Anniversary of the 1704 Raid
Holy heck! Apparently 312 years ago, over 300 French Soldiers, Canadiens, and Native allies launched a raid on Deerfield and captured over a hundred men, women, and children. They were then forced to march 300 miles to Canada. Learn more about this terrifying history at this lecture as four scholars introduce context and cultural perspectives about the French and Indian War!

February 14th – February 21st

The Valley Nerd Watch!

We have returned! No mere mortal malady may strike us down! These infernal migraines only increase our resolve to become stronger both mentally and physically! We have even delved into the dark arts, wresting from the universe what we will! And with these powers we will take our vengeance upon the hated Richards! And also put out a weekly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, here’s to another great year!

So we’ve been playing a bucketload of XCOM2 this past couple weeks. Here’s our brief review: XCOM2 is very good at presenting interesting puzzles to the player in such a way that heroic moments arise constantly. It’s a game about controlling a customizable little team of resistance fighters combating an alien takeover. It’s hard to describe what makes it so compelling to someone who isn’t already into tactical strategy games, but it’s sort of like playing with the most awesome action figures possible.

We named all of them after friends and family, so we get a lot of moments where [Mom] takes a shot at a monstrous alien and then carries [Good Pal] to a safe evac before they bleed out.

Also whoa hey, you hear about Gravity Waves this past week? Good word! To boil it down to the absolute essence: space is wobbly, but only on a very large scale. We can detect it now! It might end up being as big as discovering the telescope in terms of how much more information we can derive from the universe. It’s hugely exciting! Also secretly we hope this is somehow going to lead to “gravity manipulation” or something because it totally feels like the first 10 minutes of a high-concept sci-fi film.

Do you like comics? Check out some neat anthology collections that feature local creators! Restless Minds is a big color collection about imagination featuring local artist Jenny McKeon! Then 1001 Knights is a cool collection about what it means to be a knight! It features both Jenny McKeon and fellow local artist Alex Chaunyan! They co-create Eerie PD!

Go check out the Valley Creators page! As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the Book Clubs List!



Tuesday, February 16th – Friday, February 19th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 9:30pm – 12:30pm
Imagine! A Writing Workshop for Authors Ages 8-12
Writing is something that you need to do really often in order to start being decent. Get started early, 8-12 year-olds! Get all the bad ideas out while you’re young enough that critique will be really measured, and then impress the heck out of people when you write War and Peace 2: Better! at age 13.
Wednesday, February 17th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm – 8:15pm
The Well-Tempered Ukes
Ukuleles are kind of like guitars but cuter and unable to be played more than 2 hours away from a beach as the crow flies. This trio will present an hour of new and old songs, and offer tips and insights into playing ukulele! Open to all ages, free to the public!
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Submissions and Revisions
Are you interested in writing? This is for you! A drop-in group to polish and send out submissions of your work to literary magazines, agents, and editors. This is a lonely, demoralizing process, so hang out with fellow writers! Pool your knowledge! Raise your spirits! Make new friends! The best things in life are there for the taking at … Submissions and Revisions. Hosted by writer in residence Naila Moreira
Friday, February 19th
Emily Dickinson Museum [280 Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm – 2:00pm
“Don’t Tell!” Emily’s Strategies of Secrecy in Poems and Letters
Susan Snively is a guide, discussion leader, and script writer for the museum. She’s also a published author of both poems and novels, and she’ll be leading a discussion of the poetic strategy of Emily Dickinson, noted local poet!
Emily Dickinson Museum [280 Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Night at your Museum
Smithies! You can come hang out at the Smith College Musuem of Art for a cool party. We can’t, we’re not Smith students. So take advantage on our behalf! It’s got music and dances and a Smiffenpoof performance!
Sunday, February 21st
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Painting Workshop
Last painting workshop of the month! Get your little fighting people all gussied up so that people look at them and compliment your skill! Heck, win “best painting” prizes at tournaments! You can do it!

Board Games:

Tuesday, February 16th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Game Night
Experiment with the Palmer Library’s extensive collection of contemporary games, or bring your own! People will hang out and teach you the rules or hang out and be taught the rules by you! Also refreshments are provided!
Sunday, February 21st
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday Heroclix
New Heroclix team: the Not-Quite-Pools! Pick out a team of every character that went into the construction of Deadpool! Deadshot, Wolverine, A Generic Ninja, Carrot Top, the possibilities are endless!


Thursday, February 18th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Jacqueline Sheehan, “Center of the World”
A New Your Times bestselling author will present her novel about a mother and her adopeted daughter who embark on a journey of self-discovery and stunning revelations! It sounds pretty danged dramatic.
Saturday, February 20th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 11:00pm
Funky Brunch at the Odyssey Bookshop with Picture Book author Josh Funk
Good GOSH we have never been more jealous of a last name. Imagine, anything you do with a name like that sounds neat! “Funk’s Prize”, “Eat at Funk’s”, “The Funk Equation” aaaah dang that’s neat. Anyway! Enjoy a breakfast feast and a reading of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Sounds delicious!


Thursday, February 18th
Amherst Media [246 College St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:00pm
Western MA Drupal Meetup
Talk to folks about Drupal, a method of designing content for the web! Drupal seems pretty approachable, and there’s a big community in town thanks to the local Drupal-using web development concern Last Call Media! Drinks to follow at a place TBD at the meetup!


Thursday, February 18th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Anime Club
Animation! Anime is a fun time for all, usually involving a sequence of veeeery slow powering up of psionic powers/physical powers/emotional strength/baking powers.
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 2:00pm
Cookies with a Curator
Cookies! Delicious cookies! Also, near these cookies Archivist Julie Bartlett Nelson will teach you about White House events int he Coolidge era. See scrapbooks of newsclippings, events, just really get a solid concept of the dinner parties the Coolidges used to host. Then take that knowledge and one-up them at your next dinner party!
Friday, February 19th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Pokemon Pika-Party Ikimasho!
We understand several of those words! Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the best game for kids so long as you avoid thinking too much about the world at all costs! Craft Pokemon, or design your own! Eat snacks, watch the Pokemon movie, and play Poke-trivia! For ages 11-17!
Sunday, February 21st
The David Ruggles Center [225 Nonotuck St, Northampton, MA 01062] at 2:00pm
Basil Dorsey Day: Rememberance of our Past
Basil Dorsey escaped slavery and came to Massachusetts, only to almost be re-captured under the Fugitive Slave Act. Thankfully, the community banded together to purchase his freedom. He was an interesting, worthwhile person who went through enormous effort to just live like a human being, and it is worth remembering him on this walking tour and discussion.


Wednesday, February 17th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm – 8:35pm
Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was a guy who ran a wildly successful electronics company. This is the second big documentary about him, and has a slightly more interesting structure than the previous stock biopic. If you’re super into seeing a guy in a turtleneck say Sorkin dialog, you might like this!
Sunday, February 21st
Yiddish Book Center [1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00pm
Film Screening: The Return
Before World War 2, poland was home to four million Jews, today only 15,000 live there. After the fall of the USSR in 1989, a young generation of Jews begain learning about their ancestry. The Return follows four women in their twenties who discovered they were Jewish in their teens and have become leaders in nascent Jewish enclaves. It sounds enlightening!


Thursday, February 18th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
RPG Club
Hang out at Palmer and role-play a person who is going on adventures! Maybe their adventures will take them to… Palmer? See how deeply you can nest your campagin! Make every move through a forest of difficult referential language!
Saturday, February 20th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 12:30pm – 4:00pm
D&D 5th Edition
Dungeons? Dragons? What? Where? Who? Down at Comics N’ More! They’re lousy with ’em! Stop by and play a while, why don’t you? Delightful host Neal Robinson will guide players new and old through rollicking adventure! New players welcome to join any session, pre-made characters available!


Wednesday, February 17th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Wednesday Wizards Science Fun
Sciiiience! Learning, fun, and general inspirational cool science this week. A guest presenter introduces a science concpet with a book and an activity to encourage creativity in kids!
Hampshire College, ASH Lobby [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm – 1:00pm
CS Lunch Talk: Reba Rosenberg – Investigating the Infant Mind
An interesting lecture at Hampshire focusing on cognitive development! Dr. Rosenberg’s talk focuses on the working memory capacity of infants, specifically how working memory improves with age. In particular, are we only improving due to learned techniques, or can some differences between larger and smaller working memory capacities be seen in infants? Also, surprising limitations in the number and type of items infants can represent! We are not joking when we say this sounds pretty excellent. Plus you can pretend you’re a Hampshire grad student!

Apologies/Migraine Day

Hello readers!

It was not our intention to skip the Nerd Watch for this week, particularly as it’s the dang anniversary week. Unfortunately, we were laid out pretty hard with a migraine for the majority of the day, and obviously had little time to pre-write this weekend due to mom-birthday related shenanigans.

In the interests of getting other obligations – including actually eating some real food – settled, we’re going to need to skip this week.

We apologize sincerely for leaving you hanging on this auspicious week! One neat thing about the coming year is we’re going to finally get that back-end upgrade situated so that our schedule will be a lot easier to keep. Sorry again, have a lovely night!

We will of course continue to keep you updated about events via Twitter and Facebook this week.

Speaking of migraines, check out 14 Days by Valley Creators Hannah Shaffer and Evan Rowland!