Month: March 2016

The Wayward Astronomer: James’s Friend Is Doing a Thing

Note: This is in no way a Valley-based thing, I just want to do a little to help out a friend who’s making some art.

So my pal Geoff is a guy who I’ve known since high school.

He’s currently working at a private space company building a spaceplane. You might recognize this as an occupation that I have always dreamed of having. It sounds super neat and also seems to actively be excellent based on what I know about the folks he works with and the work he gets to do. He’s living out the dream he’s had since he started reading sci-fi and that’s awesome. It would be understandable for me to be deeply jealous of Geoff, but I can’t be. Because Geoff’s also working very hard on possibly the only thing nerdier than building a spaceplane: fanfiction.

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Geoff is a huge fan of the comic Dreamkeepers. It’s about talking-animal space alien people and it’s not something I actually read, but it seems like a good adventure story. He’s such a huge fan he wrote a fanfiction novel about it called “The Wayward Astronomer” that has become canon.

To clarify, I don’t mean to say that fanfiction is lesser-than. Fanfiction is just a story being told and stories should be judged as neat or not on their own terms. It’s just indisputably nerdy. It requires a deep and abiding love for a particular piece of media that can’t be contained by mere consumption. And I find his unabashed enjoyment of Dreamkeepers and of the craft of writing too charming to succumb to the jealousy that boils beneath my skin even now.

He loves the world of Dreamkeepers so much that even while working what can only be described as a spectacularly difficult job he spent a ton of his free hours for the past five years putting together a fitting tribute in the form of a novel. Here’s the pitch:

Our hero is a young astronomer, Hal Adhil. He spends his evenings watching the sky high up in the Starfall Mountains with his friend and fellow astronomer, Miri. Here, far away from watchful eyes, he can indulge in using his unique but forbidden power: the ability to see all forms of light. Nestled safely in the remote observatory, the troubles of the city and his past life are far from sight and even farther from mind, but no calamity can be ignored forever.

When a meteorite crashes nearby, Hal and Miri set out to find it. Unfortunately, what they go out looking for, and what they find, are two very different things. After a chilly encounter turns violent, Hal is left for dead and abandoned. He is unwillingly thrust into a dark conspiracy that threatens the life of everyone in Anduruna, where the difference between friend and enemy is impossible to see. He has no choice left but to fight to reclaim the things he lost, and solve the mystery of the meteor… before time runs out.

He’s doing a Kickstarter to get the book published in a for-real actually on bookshelves manner, and I think that if you think the story sounds interesting you should take a look. I feel comfortable recommending you back the project because Geoff is a hardworking and dedicated person who is taking great pains to do this right.

I wish him the best of luck!

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March 28th – April 3rd

The Valley Nerd Watch!


Hello and welcome to a Nerd Watch that has like 900 Magic: the Gathering events. If you’ve got a spare $70 and you’re good at MtG, this is the weekend for you to take some rubes to school for fabulous prizes.

We also wanted to highlight a couple things happening next week up here so as to emphasize their importance. First of all, we’ve been remiss about featuring events from the Holyoke Public Library on account of our not including it in our bookmark list. Well, it’s on the list now because one of the wonderful friends of the Library reached out to us about an event happening Saturday, April 9th. Mini Golf in the Library! It’ll be open to all, there are going to be food trucks outside, and you’ll experience the illicit thrill of doing an outdoor activity indoors.

We were kind of charmed by the fact that they specifically made a little flyer that says “Special Invitation to Nerd Watch Families & Friends”. We aren’t 100% certain but probably the current list of “Nerd Watch Families” includes ourselves and our mom but it is very nice to have someone reach out to our ever-expanding audience.

Next up is someone who actually got in touch with us months ago, an artist taking part in producing the comic book anthology Artists against Police Brutality, or APB. They’re going to be hosting a dialogue and exhibition at Comics N’ More also on Saturday, April 9th from 5:00pm – 8:00pm, during the Easthampton Bookfest and also during the Art Walk Easthampton. It’s like planets aligning. Local artists featured in the collection as well as the publisher will be on hand to present and discuss their work. All proceeds from the collection go towards the Innocence Project, which is a solid charity doing good work.

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!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Thursday, March 31st
Smith College Museum of Art [20 Elm St, Northampton, MA 01063] at 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Predicated Internationalism: ‘Peripheries’ and the Global Work of Art
Caroline Jones, a Professor in the Department of Architecture at MIT, studies modern and contemporary art with a focus on its technological means of production, distribution, and reception. She’ll tell you things about contemporary art that you probably would not be able to figure out on your own, which’ll be cool! Free and open to all.
Saturday, April 2nd
Sunderland Public Library [20 School St., Sunderland, MA 01375] at 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Honey I Shrunk My Art!
A little workshop to take children through the idea of shrinking down art via heating! They’ll put plastic art designs in toaster overs to see them shrink, and check out a bit of the chemistry behind it! Also presumably they’ll be told over and over again to not light tons of plastic things on fire in the toaster once they get home.

Board Games:

Saturday, April 2nd
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Here Kitty Kitty! Launch!
Here Kitty Kitty is a game about the innate human desire to possess as many cats as physically possible. We all get it, right? That urge to take so many cats into your domicile that your home turns into more of a sort of drywall mech suit piloted by dozens of cats? This is a quick game for 3-6 players where you try to lure cats and steal them form your neighbors! It also have hundreds of tiny rubber cats which seem adorable.
Sunday, April 3rd
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Sunday Heroclix!
Heroclix! Fight little miniatures against each other. This week we suggest you team Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman up and pit them against the deep pit of existential despair that has opened up at WB in the wake of Batman Vs Uperman!

Books:

Wednesday, March 30th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
John Hadden: Conversations with a Masked Man
For forty years John Hadden and his dad, also John Hadden, fought over a ton of issues concerning America. The older John was haunted by his CIA career, the younger John retreated to Vermont to direct Shakespeare. But he came back to confront his dad one last time, this time with a tape recorder. Come hear a candid, deeply personal history of the CIA, and speak with the author afterward!
Friday, April 1st
Jones Library [43 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Emily Dickinson International Society
Converse about the poems of the great local poet Emily Dickinson! Contact Lois Kackley at 413-230-9733 for more info.

Card Games:

Saturday, April 2nd
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:00 AM to 5:30 AM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
It’s that time of year again, when we see vampires in the alleyways and werewolves on the highways. That’s right, it’s almost April 1st! Come to Modern Myths to play the newest Magic: The Gathering expansion, which is full of creepy cards and spooky… special… stuff. Win prizes for your play! No word on cost, but these things are usually around $20 to enter, with some guaranteed packs.
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
The same thing as the other pre-release event happening at Modern Myths only for this one a vampire will not charge into the store and drain all of your blood. Vampires can’t stand the sun! That’s science.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
For just a $20 entry fee you can fight with the most up-to-date MtG cards! This entry fee does not include food! So eat up beforehand. We recommend you try Mapo Tofu. It’s not that hard to make, and if you take the time to grab Schezuan Peppers oh word is it nice. There are four rounds, and probably prizes!
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
This is basically the same thing as the midnight pre-release only it’s a $25 entry fee, but that includes a free pizza lunch! Free pizza! Wow! And depending on your ability to distract your fellow players, that could be a lot of pizza.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
Third time’s the charm! This is also a $25 entry fee, with a free pizza dinner. The one caveat is that if you’ve already played the previous two events a being of smoke will arise from the cards and demand your eternal fealty. We recommend you agree! The being seems super scary.
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant St. #B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
This one is basically the same as you’ve seen before but it’s at a nice store in Amherst! Also, rumor has it that the cards in this one actually spit out real magical beasts like in Yu-Gi-Oh so that’ll be neat! $25 for entry, with prize support!
Sunday, April 3rd
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
Same as Saturday, only you will be facing off against agents of the Eternal Guard, sent back in time to the one moment pre-Fracture that may be the key to saving all of history.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release
Same as Saturday, only you’ll face agents of the Great Void Beneath, whose sole purpose is to drain what vitality they can from the past before erasing our future with alchemical fire.

Entertainment:

Monday, March 28th
Goodwin Memorial Library [50 Middle St, Hadley, MA 01035] at 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Trustees’ Tea
Join the Goodwin Memorial Library Trustees for tea and refreshments, then learn more about the future of the library! You’ll see plans for the proposed new library, learn more about what programs and services the library offers, and you can get involved! Make your library better!
Wednesday, March 30th
Palmer Public Library at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt
We actually don’t know a ton about Eleanor Roosevelt! She seems like a pretty interesting character, though. Got a heck of a lot done as a First Lady, worth knowing more about.
Thursday, March 31st
Palmer Public Library at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Anime Club
Say hello to the fine folks at Palmer and watch some anime! We gotta admit we don’t really watch a bunch but we totally did watch FLCL as high school kids and they’re making a new series? TWO new series? Wild. Could be neat!

Movies:

Tuesday, March 29th
Mead Art Musuem [41 Quadrangle Dr, Amherst, MA 01002] at 4:15 PM to 6:00 PM
Film Screening: Zanele Muholi’s “Difficult Love”
A powerful documentary film about the lives, loves, and struggles of black lesbians in South Africa. The screening is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception and discussion.
Northampton High School [380 Elm St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
The Matrix – Free Film + Q&A
The Matrix! It was a pretty cool movie that we liked a bunch as kids that did feature a whole lot more murdering than we think generally is considered “summer blockbuster fun” but man it was interesting, well worth a re-watch. Also, Valley Local and Academy Award Winner Diane Pearlman will give a short talk about her work on The Matrix as VFX Producer which is awesome!
Saturday, April 2nd
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Movie Sangha – Born Free
Film and interactive making sense of said film via activities. Sounds like a neat enough time. Might be doing Movie Yoga? Not sure what that entails. Imagining them projecting a move on our flanks whilst we pose and frankly have just become quite incensed. The movie’s a classic about a couple of British folks helping a lioness they raised in captivity to adapt to the wild and run free.
Sunday, April 3rd
Yiddish Book Center [1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
The Muses of Bashevis Singer
Bashevis Singer was a Polish-born Nobel-winning author who exclusively wrote in Yiddish. But he also got translated into a bunch of languages, mostly with the help of a big team of female translators! This is an exploration of the inspiration he drew from these under-appreciated muses, as well as a celebration of a great author. The filmmaker, Asaf Galay, will be available to answer audience questions after the film!

RPGs:

Thursday, March 31st
Palmer Public Library at 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
RPG Club
Join your friends at the Palmer to play an RPG! We’re not certain if they’re already hip-deep in something, but we’re sure they’d be glad to write your character in! Adventure! Roll dice! Develop elaborate superstitions about how best to roll dice!
Friday, April 1st
Chesterfield Scout Reservation [22 Sugar Hill Rd., Chesterfield, MA] at 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM
Magestry LARP 2016 Spring Season – Game 1
A New Year dawns! The town of Elmerton awakes from the slumber of winter faced with new challenges… and new opportunities! Carzon has been defeated and his Broch demolished, which means that there’s time to focus on the ever-growing power of the Mongrel Shadow Queen, and to wrest control of their dreams back from the Dreamweaver! Planting and just like general subsistence farming once again takes a back seat. Check out the Meetup or Magestry.com for more info!
Saturday, April 2nd
Pizzeria Paradiso [12 Crafts Ave., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
MES Changeling: The Lost Game
Come hang with the Pioneer Valley Geeks and Gamers in the private room of the Pizzeria Paradiso to play this classic RPG about mysterious magic and creatures beyond our knowledge! The setting appears to be a magical world experiencing climate change! Join the Meetup to RSVP!

Science:

Monday, March 28th
Union Station [125 Pleasant St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
SciTech Cafe: Engineering Plant Defenses to Fight Cancer
Come to another delightful SciTech Cafe to learn about the wonderful world of plant-life! How do they protect themselves? How can we exploit their ability to protect themselves in order to protect ourselves? How can we protect ourselves from the inevitable retaliation these clever plants unleash upon we theiving mammals? Professor Susan Roberts – head of Chemical Engineering at WPI – will explain!
Holyoke Public Library [250 Chestnut St, Holyoke, MA 01040] at 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Genealogy Research Clinic
Dave Robison will wrap up the March genealogy series with the second of two clinics in the Computer Classroom! Get a guided tour of how to figure out how it is you can trick the Protectorate into designating your Interim Steward of the Court of Leaves as part of your brilliant deceit! Call to pre-register at 413-420-8107!
Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Trans Temporality and the Coloniality of Gender
Dr. Marie Draz, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at San Diego State University, will come speak about how the state deploys temporal narratives in the administration of gender identity. It sounds like something that will help you develop a better understanding of the world.
Saturday, April 2nd
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060-2406] at 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
The Bran-Bread Philosopher: Sylvester Graham and the Science of Human Life
Oh gosh, folks. This guy. This guy was so frigging odd and also kind of great. He was a scientist in the loosest of senses, and he really really enjoyed the idea of a bland as heck diet as a cure-all. Also founded the American Vegetarian Society! An interesting and weirdly influential character from the Valley that you should learn more about.

Video Games:

Tuesday, March 29th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Minecraft Group
Minecraft is that game that will eventually replace all interaction with human beings. Turns out the Matrix was mostly right, it just had the resolution way off. Bring your own machine or use a library one, but be sure to have your own login! Kids can explore and collaborate, punching trees in this virtual wonderland!
Sunday, April 3rd
The Quarters [8 Railroad St., Hadley, MA] at 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
MAKE TALK PLAY – GDC Recap Starring Elliott Mitchell
Elliott Mitchell is a Vermont game dev community pioneer who has come to our fair Valley to discuss the always exceptional GDC! He founded Vermont Digital Arts, and co-organizes the Boston Unity Group. He’s also got a ton of cool VR dev stuff. He’ll talk the latest and neatest in game dev news!

March 21st – March 27th

The Valley Nerd Watch!


Hello all! If there’s a snowstorm tonight do not even worry about it. This is just weather, wacky New England weather. There is, we are assured, no possible manner in which meddling with that old snow globe could possibly have caused the world to rip itself free from the bonds of normal space and plunge itself into what we’re tentatively calling “the Cold Underneath”. Above all else it’s important to remember that the stars in the sky are definitely still stars and not eyes no matter how often you see them blink. Just stay indoors and keep a red candle burning on each level of your dwelling and we’re 95% certain it’ll all be cool.

Did you know that a bunch of really excellent people make things in the Valley? Of course you did. Well, we’re going to highlight a couple of them on account of them being so neat and having recently been added to the page.

The Mother of Beasts not only picked basically the most excellent possible pseudonym of all time but also makes really neat things! She creates handmade familiars like bats and mandrake roots and ghosts and gerblins and mothmans and the best part is she makes them stuffed animals so they’re a lot less gross and messy than your average familiar and they love you more than your average cat. She even individually names each one of them!

Right now they’re available for a very short time every Saturday because they’re really popular, and for good reason. Make sure to check every Saturday at noon to get your hands on one of these fantastic beasts every time the shop restocks!  The average price seems to be somewhere from $30-60, and there are usually several of the same design so you have a couple chances to grab one you love.

Next up is Pat Nietupski who’s making Legends of Fomora,a real solid fantasy webcomic. It’s about a couple kids who are attempting to complete a quest to kill a legendary beast on account of it killed the stubborn one’s dad. What makes it interesting to us is that the kids read as children. Mostly scared and out of their depth, dealing with a world in which you don’t have much choice about when your childhood ends in the best way they can.

It’s already got about a year’s backlog, and it’s building to a climax as we speak! There’s no better time to start reading. And if you like what you read, kick in to support Pat on Patreon! It’ll allow him to devote more time to his art and that sounds nice.

You should follow both Pat Nietupski and The Mother of Beasts on Twitter!

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!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Saturday, March 26th
Mead Art Musuem [41 Quadrangle Dr, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Meet at the Mead: Out to Sea! (For Families)
Throw your family into the raging sea at the Mead! Watch them as they deseperately attempt to keep themselves awaaait nope it’s a fun afternoon open house for all ages involving tours, making art, and performances about art and seafaring. Well, that’s probably safer if maybe a little less dramatic.

Board Games:

Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 12:00pm to 8:00pm
40k Apocalypse!
40k Apocalypse! The close of a two month long campagin of the classic giant people hitting other giant people with giant gunswordchainswordgunpikes tabletop wargame! Entry fee for the league is $5, but if you’re already in it this event is free. Heck, stop by for a little while just to check out how some gigantic fights with cool looking minatures are going while you browse the store!

Books:

Tuesday, March 22nd
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Jane Sutcliffe: Will’s Words
Jane Sutcliffe will be reading from her book about how one guy’s popular plays about murder and poo jokes basically reinvented the English language in the course of trying to cheat the rhyming meter.
Gamble B, Mount Holyoke College [50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Heather Hansen: Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears
Mount Holyoke alumnae Heather Hansen presents her new book! It’s about the National Park system! Which is all things considered a rare example of people managing to not light something beautiful on fire just to see what will happen. Learn just how hard it was to institute this wide-ranging system when it was conceived of over 100 years ago!
Wednesday, March 23rd
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Michelle Hoover: Bottomland
Michelle Hoover reads from and discusses her novel following the Hess family from World War 1 into the post-war world. While attempting to rid themselves of the anti-German sentiment that has sprung up after the war, their two youngest children vanish. Now they need to struggle to maintain what they have while piecing together what happened to their daughters.
Thursday, March 24th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tony Tulathimutte: Private Citizens: A Novel
Private Citizens is a loving satire of Millenials which sounds a lot like something you’d say before writing a completely awful satire about how young people are dummies. But according to the description on Odyssey’s site it’s “expansively intelligent and full of heart” so that probably means it’s actually got interesting things to say about how the current generation of 20-somethings is dealing with a world where they’re both priviliged in many ways and also totally SOL in many ways.
Mama Iguana’s [274 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Sci Fi Book Discussion: The City & The City
Perhaps the least outwardly strange book we’ve ever read by China Mieville, but also our favorite. A tightly written mystery that takes place in two cities that share the same physical location, it takes the sort of political structures that already exist in the modern world and just tilts them all the way into mind-bending absurdity. Absolutely interesting book that we think you should read and talk about. Be sure to join and RSVP in the meetup group! http://www.meetup.com/4scifi/events/227260323/
Saturday, March 26th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 9:30am to 2:00pm
Friends of Greenfield Public Library Book Sale
Buy some books from the library at a reduced price in order to increase the total number of books you have available in your home to read or to increase the number of books a friend or relative has available to read.

Entertainment:

Thursday, March 24th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School St., Sunderland, MA] at 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Laser Tag in the Library!
Children in grades 5th – 8th are encouraged to come simulate vaporizing each other with powerful laser blasts in the library!
Friday, March 25th
Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:00am to 9:00pm
DEAFinitions: A Deaf Studies Conference
The Hampshire College ASL Collective will host a conference to provide space for people to discover and explore th emulifaceted experiences of Deaf lives. Sponsors and students will provide a space for people to celebrate Deaf culture and history along with workshops about DeafSpace architecture, Deaf education, dance, art, queer identity, and many more topics! The conference is free, but registration is required at www.tinyurl.com/deafinitions

Movies:

Monday, March 21st
FPH East Lecture Hall, Hampshire College [893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Film Screening: Muzzafarnagar Baaqi Hain (Muzzaffarnagar Eventually)
The dynamics of a riot that claimed dozens of lives and displaced tens of thousands of people in North India are explored in a thorough investigation. Many current university protests in India have been sparked by one group or another attempting to screen this documentary.
Wednesday, March 23rd
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm to 8:30pm
The Hunger Games Part Mockingjay Part 2
Did you miss the latest installment of the wildly popular YA novel on the big screen? Now’s your chance to see it on the Library’s nice big screen! Talk about how the book was better to make the librarians feel smug, they deserve it.
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm to 8:30pm
The Rise of ISIS
Are you less interested in a movie about a fictional bloody conflict than you are a hard hitting documentary about a real conflict shaping the world today? Watch Frontline investigate the miscalculations and mistakes that led to the rise of the brutal ISIS regime in Iraq. Correspondent Martin Smith will report on how the country came undone, and what it means for the U.S. to return to fight a new war. Presented by the Northampton Committee to Stop War.

RPGs:

Saturday, March 26th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 12:30pm to 3:30pm
D&D 5th Edition
Hosted by kindly wizard Neal Robinson, this is your chance to live out a fantastic adventure with friends! You can stop by, grab a pre-made character, and get to the action right away! The best thing to do in our opinion is to pick some defining character trait and just lock on to that as your driving impetus in interactions. That way role-playing gets a little less awkward. Also! Do a voice! Everyone has a more fun time when you have a character voice.
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:00pm to 8:00pm
The Curse of Stroud 8 Hour Event!
For a mere $20, you get to hang out for 8 hours of D&D and pizza as you try to escape the DEATH HOUSE! Grab a character, join a team, and see if you can get through this puzzlebox of an adventure! You’ll fight werewolves, wolfweres, wereweres, wolfwolfs, vampires, Draculas, Frankensteins, corpse monsters built by scientists named things other than Frankenstein, all the horror hits!

Science:

Monday, March 28th
Union Station [125 Pleasant St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
SciTech Café: Engineering Plant Defenses to Fight Cancer
Come to another delightful SciTech Café to learn about the wonderful world of plantlife! How do they protect themselves? How can we exploit their ability to protect themselves in order to protect ourselves? How can we protect ourselves from the inevitable retaliation these clever plants unleash upon we theiving mammals? Professor Susan Roberts – head of Chemical Engineering at WPI – will explain!

Video Games:

Tuesday, March 22nd
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Minecraft Group
Contact Bev Bullock via whatever means available to you. For some, simple blood-scry will suffice. Others posted to more distant membranes will have to rely on the elusive crystalline singing spiders whose favor can be gained only by losing a part of what makes one human. Then, talk about this club to play Minecraft in the Greenfield Room! Probably bring your own computer, probably it is for children!
MYSTERY LOCATION at 1:00pm to 2:00pm
GlowLime Games: Ryan Canuel from Petricore Games
Ryan Canuel, CEO of Petricore Games, comes to speak about the indie development processa nd how to transition from a small team of student game developers to a fully fledged studio. Hosted by GlowLime Games, the Pioneer Valley Game Developers, and the Hampshire Tech Entrepreneurship Fund. Go check it out if you’re at all interested in producing a game!

Playing Zephyr Workshop’s A.E.G.I.S.

A.E.G.I.S, coming soon from Greenbriar Games! Not just an annoying as heck name to type, also a great game that was fun times when we got to play it recently at the co-working space Zephyr Workshop calls home.

So we’ve always been huge fans of tactical strategy games, on account of basically having thought we were secret geniuses since we were little kids. There’s something immensely satisfying about thinking about how you’re going to trick another person or best a computer and then seeing everything play out according to your plan. And since Chess seemed wicked boring every time we tried to play it we gravitated toward things that included magical powers or giant robots or huge wars.

The thing is, tactics games that aren’t on the computer tend to cost enormous amounts of money, require ridiculous amounts of time, and generally are closed off to all but the most invested players. And we’re fans of lots of games, which means that getting intensely into a single game kind of cuts into our desire to play literally everything. A.E.G.I.S. is a refreshing change from what we’re used to in tabletop tactics.

Without dumbing down the gameplay, A.E.G.I.S. provides a simple to pick up battle system that’s fast to play through. Our first game with it took about 30-40 minutes start to finish, including pauses for explanations of the rules.

The basic hook is this: it’s a strategy game where your team is Voltron or a bunch of Zords, depending on when you grew up. Or well,  Definitely-Not-Voltron-or-a-Megazord-So-Don’t-Sue-Please we suppose. Each little robot on your team has a store of energy that it contributes to the entire team, as well as individual health points, attacks, and special abilities. In order to move or attack with your robots you spend energy, 1 for one to move and varying amounts for each attack. In general, you can basically only move or attack with a limited number of your team in a single turn. If your energy drops low enough, you’re out of the game.

Guardbanna-1024x341

Each class of robot is a pretty simple archetype, good at one basic concept with a little variation between each individual bot. G or guard type are tough little buggers with a bunch of health but no reliable attacks and plodding movement speed. E or evasive type are quick as heck and can usually fly over obstacles but are vulnerable and can be hit hard by anything with anti-air. Each class is useful for certain tasks, but comes with significant drawbacks.

But because you’re Voltons/Zords, at any time, you can combine two or more robots into a single bigger robot. The big robots usually have significantly more useful abilities, stronger attacks, fewer weaknesses, and can usually do something special the same turn you create them. The thing is, they contribute less energy to the team and have lower health total than the individual robots that combined to create them. Which means suddenly you’ve got a lot less room to maneuver when it comes to spending energy and getting hurt, so all your attacks had better count.

There’s a pleasant tension between the adaptability afforded to you when you’re fielding a full team of robots and the extra firepower provided by a super-bot. In particular the “on-combination” moves for certain combined bots give you a reason to plan your play a few moves ahead. If you can get a couple potshots off with these 3 robots this turn, then when they combine next turn their special ability will let them hit everyone at once and take out a bunch of bots at the same time!

Assaultbanna-1024x341

We also got to see a fun effect of the various “push/pull” abilities that bots have, when during our game creator Breeze Grigas tried out a strategy of having one of his robots toss another into the middle of the map before having it zip back to the safety of the starting positions. It almost got us, but we were able to force a confrontation near a corner of some Line of Sight blocking mountains that allowed us to combine several bots, use the free activation ability to zip forward and attack, and then zip back behind the lines with our spare energy. And the best part was that it involved one of the robots damaged by his clever little opening gambit, so we got to negate that damage at the same time as zapping one of his bots! After that it was all downhill for him, probably mostly because he was taking it easy on us. Still, we felt like geniuses, which is the point of this sort of game.

We are excited as heck for this to get a wide release, and we look forward to a tactics game that doesn’t take hundreds of dollars and three spare hours to play. If you think this sounds fun too, why not take a look at the free print-and-play version?

FULL DISCLOSURE: Breeze took us out for a nice lunch, which may have powerfully influenced our opinion of this game in manners inconceivable to us.

March 14th – March 20th

The Valley Nerd Watch!


We had a great time at Nerd Nite this past Monday! The crowd was extremely kind and attentive to two great speakers. And honestly, more laughter than we were expecting in response to what wound up being a real cavalcade of reminders that life is fleeting and full of terrifying uncertainty. To learn how to deal with the stresses of our mortal existence, check out presenter Sam Bernecker’s study at UMass Amherst!

Other than that our week was kind of straightforward! Played a lot of Tales from the Borderlands which is a good game that has the best robots. We highly recommend it. Speaking of games, we’ve been trying real hard not to buy a ton of new games until old ones are finished but it is difficult because turns out there’s a lot of neat stuff out there all the time. Stardew Valley in particular looks like a lovely experience.

You should check out comics by local creators! There are a bunch, like one about a paranormal investigator living in Northampton: Paranormal Petunia, one about an acorn named Crange: He Is A Good Boy, one about TopatoCo sort of: Overcompensating, and one about comedy ghosts and ghouls: Welcome to Enigma!

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!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Tuesday, March 15th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School St., Sunderland, MA] at 6:00pm to
Zines!!
The two exclamation marks make it clear that this is going to be both a hoot and a holler. Zines are little magazines, or fan zines. They can basically be about whatever you feel like! We’d make a comic zine or a game zine, maybe a cooking zine. There’s a lot of options for cool stuff to make! And when you’re done you can make a bunch of copies and hand them out to friends. Or enemies!
Wednesday, March 16th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Submissions and Revisions
A drop-in group to polish and send off submissions of literary work! Not to work on these submissions, mind you. This group is to help you do the really hard bit: actually getting them out the dang door. Help yourself get motivated with a crowd of friendly fellow writers!
Friday, March 18th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Paper Airplane Crafternoon
In the spirit of Amelia Earhart, design a plane! We feel we need to point out that she… wait did she design planes? After checking out her bio she did not, but she was super awesome. So go ahead and do this in her spirit! There are competitions and prizes.

Board Games:

Tuesday, March 15th
Palmer Public Library at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Game Night
Game night! Bring your own! Game night! Play theirs! Game night! Get some new boardgame pals and play some boardgames with them! Everyone wins on Game Night!
Saturday, March 19th
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035] at 11:00am to 8:00pm
Malifaux Tournament
Malifaux is a cool-looking miniatures game that seems to be in the same vein as things like Warhammer. It’s a big complicated dance of elaborate and lovingly painted figures. Plus, there are prizes if you do a good job having your little people punch other little people effectively! Details at: http://the131.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=6517.
Sunday, March 20th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Sunday Heroclix!
Heroclix! Fight little miniatures against each other. There’s a new set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ones out, we’re pretty sure! Grab those and represent the Valley with your punch-team!

Books:

Monday, March 14th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School St., Sunderland, MA] at 6:00pm to
I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia
So this sounds completely fascinating. We heard about this book a while back but had no idea the author was a local! In 1988 Su Meck was hit on the head and left with a traumatic brain injury that erased her past 22 years of life including marriage and two children. Her body healed, but her memories never did. Twenty years later, after finally putting her life togehter, she had a series of devestating events shatter her new normal.
Tuesday, March 15th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to
Jung Yun, “Shelter”
Local author Jung Yun will read from and discuss from her new novel. It’s about young father Kyung Cho burdened by the house he can’t afford to keep. Debt and bad decisions are catching up to him after a lifetime of trying to live up to wealthy parents. Sounds tense as heck!
Greenfield Public Library at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Children’s Book Writers Group
Adults who write for children can come talk to each other about how to write for children! Talk about skills, trade tips, give advice, read stories! The group is facilitated by Nell Wright and you can call Jane at the library for more details at 413-772-1544 x 5120!
Wednesday, March 16th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to
Kaitlyn Greenidge, “We Love You, Charlie Freeman”
Kaitlyn Greenidge will discuss her debut novel about the life and times of an African American family that uproots from the South End of Boston to participate in an experiemental effort to teach a Chimpanzee sign-language in the Massachusetts countryside.
Saturday, March 19th
The Holyoke Public Library [250 Chestnut St, Holyoke, MA 01040] at 4:00pm to
Sonia Nieto, “Brooklyn Dreams”
Sonia Nieto will be discussing and selling copies of her new memoir about her life in public education. She’ll look back at her previous experiences and how they influenced her drive to become an activist and educator. Education is important, complex, and divisive. Always a good idea to listen to more in-depth thoughts about the topic!

Computers:

Thursday, March 17th
Last Call Media [136 West St., Suite 01, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Drupal Users Group Meeting
Drupal! It’s… a website? Maker? Thing. Look full disclosure we’ve only got a tiny bit of an idea of what Drupal is for. If you have a much better idea of it because you’re an actual user, go hang out with these other actual users to talk about D6-D8 migration and D8 theming! Sign up!

Entertainment:

Palmer Public Library at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Anime Club
Are there any animes about bards? It makes sense to us that there would be. Is that what Gurren Lagan is about? The power of music to overcome any evil is such a good idea. There was some giant robot show with that conceit we could swear… Also if this seeems like a real odd thing to think of for the Anime Club blurb the key is that we do not write these things in order.
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Cookies with a Curator
Sylvester Judd was a Unitarian Minister born in 1813. He kept a careful diary of the times in seven volumes that was never published. Explore this really neat bit of local history with the Local History and Genealogy Librarian Elise Benier-Feeley!

Movies:

Wednesday, March 16th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Vertigo
The Forbes Film Club is turning 7 this March so they’re celebrating with terror! A detective suffering from acrophobia investigates his old friend’s wife while becoming obsessed with her! You probably kind of already know the synopsis? It’s a legitimate classic. See it on a nice big screen!

RPGs:

Thursday, March 17th
Palmer Public Library at 4:00pm to 6:00pm
RPG Club
RPGs are an opportunity to unleash your creative side and most importantly to play a bard. No bards in this system? Haha ridiculous of course there are. Make a whole band of bards! Kill a dragon with song, destroy a demi-lich with a particularly powerful lute solo!
Saturday, March 19th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Mutants & Masterminds
Mutans and Masterminds allows you and your pals to create a new superteam and save the world! And then, internal tension will inevitably overcome you. Conflict, punches between pals! Don’t worry though eventually you’ll unite to fight a bigger common foe and remember why you got together in the first place.

Science:

Wednesday, March 16th
Greenfield Public Library at 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Wednesday Wizards Science Fun
Learn and have a fun time at the library! Some science concept will be introduced, with a book and a hands-on activity to encourage creativity and wonderment! It’s a great time for budding young minds to learn about the world
Saturday, March 19th
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060-2406] at 2:00pm to
Marion Dodd and The Hampshire Bookshop
Smith College Alumna Marion E. Dodd helped found The Hampshire Bookshop in 1916, this year is the centeniall! The Bookshop sold books both to Smith students and faculty as well as the wider community. It was also a core to the literary life of Northampton! Barbara Blumenthal, rare book specialist at Smith College, will present an illustrated talk about Marion Dodd and this remarkable shop!
Sunday, March 20th
Deerfield Community Center at 2:00pm to
Colonization and Captivity in Native Space by Lisa Brooks
Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Amherst College Lisa Brooks will discuss the captivity in native spaces of the colonized US. The focus will be the 1704 raid of Deerfield that captured 112 Deerfield men, women, and children before the “French and Indian War”

Check Out Our Interviews!

Did you know we have spoken to other people who do interesting things in the local area? We have! They were all a delight and each one of them is worth a read.

In order from the first:

Pioneer Valley Games founder Jesse Bemben

Evan Rowland of Small Fly Games

Hannah Shaffer of Make Big Things

Rebecca Slitt of Choice of Games

Emily Care Boss of Black and Green Games

Josh Yearsley of Professionally Editing

Pat King of Woodpenny

Chandra Hughes of Chisa Studios

March 7th – March 13th

The Valley Nerd Watch!


This is probably only exciting to us but this post was crafted using a much, much faster system. No more hand-typing a bunch of stuff into an HTML framework. That was super silly, we should have made our little script way earlier. So welcome to the new and improved and in no way different to your eyes Nerd Watch.

Big deal this week is of course the wonderful spectacular and completely worthwhile Nerd Nite NoHo. This event is put on by the two most excellent folks in town and they are definitely also smart and everyone thinks they are cool. The speakers this month are going to be really neat, too! Speaker Stacey Cooney will talk about the 50% ridiculous, 50% spooky, 50% depressing New England Vampire panic. Samantha Bernecker on the other hand will be talking about how relationships affect both your mental and your physical health.

We had a chance to play the extremely interesting game “Liberty or Death” from the COIN series of wargames this week. It is – like most of the series – real complicated. It’s a sort of strategy wargame where simply engaging in a battle is an option you’ll be using significantly fewer times than “march” and “patrol” and “raid” and “muster”. It’s all about taking advantage of slightly arcane interactions of the rules, positioning, and chance to push yourself toward victory conditions that may have little to do with the how many troops you’ve managed to deploy or kill.

The learning curve is kind of a learning wall, but once you get over it there’s really no other game we’ve played with the same sense of realistically commanding troops. Very interesting and recommended provided you have at a minimum one friend who is completely into the idea of taking 5 hours to play and learn and then 3 hours for a “quick” game every so often.

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!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Friday, March 11th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Creative Writing Club
Children aged 6-10 are welcome to come have an hour of fun writing activity! They’ll get to do some exercises and then share work whenever they’re ready. Snacks are also provided!
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060-2406] at 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Debris Flow: A Meditation on the Mill River Disaster in 1874
A powerful mixed-media exhibition based on stereopticon images of the historic Mill River Reservoir Disaster of 1874. In a terrifying testament to hubris, the breakage of a dam destroyed factories, homes, bridges, and lives along an 11-mile path. It was the first major dam disaster in the US.
Saturday, March 12th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Art Walk
The Easthampton monthly art walk! There’s a lot of art to check out and good times to be had. Comics N’ More has a neat gallery in their little upstairs foyer area, and this is a great chance to check it out and chat with the friendly staff!

Books:

Seydel Reading Room, Library 2nd Floor [Hampshire College 893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:00pm to 6:30pm
A Manner of Being: Writers on Mentors
A conversation between and among aspiring writers and their mentors. Published writers will also give their thoughts about their own mentors. The panel includes Polina Barskova & Rachel Conrad of Hampshire as well as Jeff Parker & Sabina Murphy of Umass. Writers welcome!
Tuesday, March 8th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm to
Jeff Halper, War Against the People
Israli antrhopologist Jeff Halper comes to The Odyssey to talk about his new book. It’s an indictment of the Israli state drawing on firsthand research that attempts to shine light on daily injustices. It sounds harrowing, but also interesting.
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 4:00pm to
Ins and Outs of Writing for Children
The Odyssey and the Straw Dog Writers Guild present the second annual panel discussion about writing for children, from early readers and picture books to YA Novels. Authors Anna Alter, Molly B. Burnham, David Hyde Costello, and Gina Damico all have extensive experience to share!
Jones Library [43 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:30pm to 11:30pm
David Grayson Revealed
David Grayson was a writer who focused on the simple homesteading life in the Happy Valley. But apparently it’s a pseudonym? Not even halfway through this event description and there’s a twist! Try to solve the mystery of who exactly David Grayson was at Jones!

Comics:

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art [125 West Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002] at 1:00pm to
Meet Gareth Hinds
Gareth Hinds is the author and illustrator of a lot of critically-acclaimed graphic novels based on classic literature and mythology like The Odyssey, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. He’ll talk about his career, give a drawing demonstration, and talk about illustrating a new book! Book signing to follow!
Sunday, March 13th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Comic Creator’s Jam
Are you a comic creator? Do you want to hang out with fellow comic creators? You’ve probably already put two and two together here but basically this event is right for you! Hone your craft in the company of both aspiring and veteran comic creators!

Computers:

UMass Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) [Definitely Not 661 N Pleasant… it’s on the UMass campus] at 2:00pm to
UMass Drupal User’s Group Meeting
Meetings of this group are open to anyone interested in Drupal! Bring problems, bring questions, bring ideas, bring cookies! Those always go over well.
Saturday, March 12th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Forbes Doctor Who Club
Who? Hahaha get it that joke will never not be fun. But for real if you don’t know, Joseph “Doctor Who” Whovian travels the world in search of the gem that will bring his beloved back from beyond the Shattered Vale. Hang out and watch this fun British Sci-Fi classic at the Forbes!

Movies:

Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm to 8:30pm
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
A film screening sponsored by the Committee to Stop War of a movie about a writer, activist, and philosopher who has devoted her life to revolution.
Monday, March 7th
The World War 2 Club [50 Conz St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Nerd Nite NoHo
The triumphant return of your favorite night! It’s a great time this month! The always astute Sam Bernecker will be presenting on the connection between social ties and health both mental and physical. Excellent local radio host Stacey Cooney will be presenting a harrowing tale of a panicked local populace convinced it was being plagued by vampires in the far off era of… 1892?
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 6:00pm to
Mini Robots
Teensy robots! A chance to make a tiny little buddy robot who will vouch for you when the inevitable happens and our metal servants rise up against us. Their cruel claws will pass you over when your adorable advocate convinces them of your use! Sign up in advance at the library!
Saturday, March 12th
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060-2406] at 2:00pm to
Capitalism and Calamity: The Mill River Flood of 1874
The Mill River Flood was one of the worst disasters of the 19th century in the US. Within an hour, it killed 139 people and left 740 homeless. Several mill villages were simply washed away. Investigators deemed the dam “sham work”, but none were held responsible. Elizabeth Sharpe will dig deep into this distressing local history.