Alan Alda to visit UVM

UVM will be hosting actor Alan Alda for their Burack Lecture Series for a talk titled “Helping the Public Get Beyond a Blind Date with Science”. The talk will take place on Monday, February 2nd at 4pm at UVM’s Davis Center Livak Ballroom.

Here’s the details:

Alda, actor, director and writer, has had a lifelong interest in science. In addition to his well-known roles in M*A*S*H and West Wing, he hosted PBS’ Scientific American Frontiers from 1993 to 2005. After interviewing hundreds of scientists, he became convinced that many researchers have wonderful stories to tell, but some need help in telling them. Alda played an important role in the creation of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and has led workshops that use improvisational theater games to help scientists communicate more directly and personally. He was co-chair of the 2009 World Science Festival in New York City, hosted the 2010 documentary miniseries The Human Spark, and has written a play about the life of Marie Curie.

Additional information.

Weird Al Returns to Burlington in July

Last night, ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic announced a sprawling tour that’ll take him across the country. One of his stops will bring him back to Vermont!

Yankovic’s tour will be supporting his new album, Mandatory Fun (which is fantastic, if you haven’t listened to it yet). He’s known for his lengthy tours, and he’ll find himself performing at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, July 12th. Tickets will go on sale on January 27th at 10 am.

His shows are quite a lot of fun, and in the past, they’ve invited members of the 501st Legion to help out with a song or two.

He’ll be stopping by a couple of other locations in New England as well:

  • June 2nd: Wilbur Theatre, Boston MA
  • June 3rd: Wilbur Theatre, Boston MA
  • June 4th: Capitol Center for the Arts, Concord NH.
  • June 6th: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard CT.
  • July 11th: Palace Theatre, Albany NY.
  • July 12th: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington VT.
  • July 26th: Maine State Pier, Portland ME.
  • August 4th: The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, New Bedford MA.

Fora full list of tour dates, visit his website.

Burlington’s Second Barcade is Coming: The Archives

Last night, the Burlington Free Press wrote that a second barcade is coming to the downtown Burlington area: The Archives. Owned by Nathan Beaman, Matthew Walters, Adam Lukens and Matthew Strauss, the bar will mix craft beers and vintage arcade games in the former Burlington Free Press Building on College Street.

The former home to the Burlington Free Press is about to get a new tenant as Burlington’s Department of Planning and Zoning recently approved a zoning permit for an arcade and bar to take part of the space.

The establishment, fittingly dubbed “The Archives,” is targeted to open on May 1, said Matthew Walters, one of the four owners. It has been approved to occupy 2,020 square feet of the first floor at 191 College Street.

Read the entire Burlington Free Press article here.

The owners released their own statement:

The Archives, an arcade and craft beer bar, will be opening in downtown Burlington. It’s home will be the building previously occupied by the Burlington Free Press at 191 College St. The Archives will serve craft beers, wine and unique cocktails alongside a wide selection of classic video games from the 1970s-1990s. After you work up an appetite battling Donkey Kong you can satisfy your hunger on anyone of the half dozen artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu. Each one being crafted with Vermont made breads and farm to table ingredients.

The Archives will embody all the best parts people love about bar-arcade hybrids, but with Burlington flair.

The concept of a Barcade isn’t new, and it isn’t new to Burlington: the announcement comes just months after Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House opened up in South Burlington in July, prompting speculation that Burlington might not be big enough for two such establishments. Tilt has proven to be wildly popular over the last six months, with an excellent menu and selection of games, and would have a considerable head start and established clientele. As one commenter pointed out, Tilt doesn’t have to contend with parking in downtown Burlington.

Still, the Archives doesn’t appear to be an act of opportunism: the owners have been working on the concept for the last couple of years after being inspired by the original Barcade in Brooklyn, New York. According to one of the owners: “The Archives is a reference to everything being vintage, the place itself will be an archive of all things cool from those prime gaming decades. We have some plans to work that in other ways as well. Plus with the decor.”

To start, they’ve got a wish list going for games, and anticipate opening with 25+ arcade machines and 5-8 pinball machines.

We’re excited about this, and we don’t think that the presence of one such bar will seriously harm the other. For one, The Archives appears to be aiming towards an adult market, while Tilt is frequently home to adults bringing in their children to share in the games they once grew up with. Having two similar places in the Burlington area will yield a bit more diversity in the games and will hopefully keep both places interesting and worth returning to over and over.

The Archives plans to open on May 1st, 2015, but the owners noted that they still have quite a bit of work in front of them as the renovate the building and get moving on buying a small library of games. A website for the bar has just launched.

Imaginary Worlds Collide At Vermont Comic Con

VPR has posted up an article and some photographs from Vermont Comic Con:

Halloween is around the corner, but some comic fans dress up in costume year-round. And all manner of characters came out for the first annual Vermont Comic Con in Burlington this weekend. Folks dressed in elaborate costumes ranging from obscure comic characters to fairytale favorites.

For some, it’s a chance to be a hero – or a villain – for a day.

Curtis Swafford won the “novice” category in the costume contest. He dressed as Edward Elric from “Fullmetal Alchemist,” a Japanese manga series.

“I’ve always been a dork and geek my whole life. I like anything fantasy, sci-fi, anime,” said Swafford. “It’s all good.”

Listen to the article and look at a slideshow here.

VTIFF After Dark: Horror Films @ Artsriot

The Vermont International Film Festival has started up and will run for the rest of the week. Over the course of the week, they’re screening three new horror films (one screened on Sunday. Coming up,

Tuesday, October 28th: Honeymoon

Writer/Director Leigh Janiak’s first feature Honeymoon is a doozy. Two young newlyweds head to a secluded cabin in the woods to escape the city. On their second night Paul (Harry Treadaway) rises early to go fishing and discovers Bea (Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones) out of bed and possibly missing in the pitch-black woods. He finds her standing nude in a state of shock. Following this she seems somehow wholly different, clearly concealing a terrible fate, and the days following descend into terror and madness. Honeymoon deftly capitalizes on our fears – not only the fear of the unknown or the boogeyman in the woods, but the fear of love lost and anxieties that can be found in a new relationship – “How well do I really know this person I married?” This taut and smoldering horror’s strength comes from two incredible performances – that will leave you gutted.

Thursday, October 30th: Life After Beth

Is there life (or death) left in the Rom/Com/Zom genre? Yes! Zach (Dane DeHann) is crushed by the accidental death of his girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza) by snakebite. When she miraculously comes back to life, Zach jumps at a second chance with Beth and promises not to take their relationship for granted. Problem is – Beth is acting really strange. It isn’t long before Zach’s world (and relationship) spins totally out of control. Life is tough when you’re dating a dead girl. Writer/Director Jeff Baena (I Heart Huckabees) unearths a fresh and hilarious take on zombies, bringing together an all star comedy cast including Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation), John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Anna Kendrick. Get ready for a fun and gory ride!

The festival ends on Saturday, November 1st. A full schedule can be found here.

Vermont Comic Con: GMS Recap

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Over the weekend, Geek Mountain State (myself and a couple of hapless and selfless volunteers), had a table at Vermont Comic Con, which exceeded our expectations nicely on Saturday and Sunday. With this first year of the convention, we weren’t sure exactly what to think: was this simply the workings of an outside company trying to force a standard-grade Comic Con into Vermont, or something that would ignore most of Vermont’s vibrant community of artists and creators? Without the longer track record that other conventions have (such as in the major media markets of New York City and Boston), it was hard to tell.

The convention was a fun time, mixing the typical ‘Comic Con’ elements such as Cosplayers and vendors with some good local offerings, such as Tilt Arcade’s game machines and the Vermont Library Association’s booth. We were perfectly positioned next to Gamer’s Grotto and chatted with a number of existing GMS followers and people who were simply curious about what we were up to. Walking the convention floor, we were happy to see a number of local artists and authors selling and presenting their artwork, and a ton of local superheroes, fans and gawkers wandering back and forth over the two days.

What was fantastic to see was a sort of vindication for us and our mission: ‘Geek’ culture is alive and well in Vermont, and events such as this have the ability to pull in a number of people. From all reports, the convention did extremely well, with a crowded two days on the convention floor and game rooms. It’s also nice to see the various elements of Vermont’s geek scene come together: Brap’s Magic put together an extensive gaming schedule, costumes were out in full force, and elements of the state’s cartoonist/artist community were present.

One thing that we were very thrilled about was the people who stopped by who had heard about us through various ways and means. We talked to countless fans who were interested in the site, converted a few more followers, but more importantly, met a ton of new people: we’ve formed a number of new links to people, which is very exciting: we can’t wait to see what they’ll be up to in the coming year.

It’s clear that this was a first-year effort, and the convention will have some things to work on in the coming year: the convention’s website is… painful, to say the least, with little information for vendors until the last minute, and with some copy editing issues. There were a number of artists present who weren’t listed, and as a result, we came across a number of pleasant surprises wandering around. These, however, are pretty minor issues.

There were some glaring omissions: mainstay stores such as Quarterstaff Games wasn’t present (although they had a game day across town) at all, while there didn’t appear to be any official presence of the Center for Cartoon Studies, which is a major force in the cartooning world right here in Vermont. Hopefully, we’ll see them next year. Some additional programming wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

As a starting point, it looks like it was a success: the convention organizers have already indicated that they’ll be back next year (Labor Day 2015 is the new date). There’s certainly a lot of potential for them to grow and expand over the coming years, and that potential has us incredibly excited to see this become a mainstay here in Vermont.

For our part, many thanks to Megan, Ian and Matt for helping to man the table this year. Next year? We need a banner.

Vermont Comic Con Anti-Harassment Policy


Vermont Comic Con is coming up, and one of the things that we’re happy to see that they’ve put together is a solid policy for conduct at the event. Conventions are increasingly taking harrassment of patrons seriously, and we’re very happy to see that VTCC has taken the time to put something like this together.

You can find the policy on their website.

Here’s what it says:

Vermont Comic Con is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, fandom, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, political background, body size, race, religion, etc.

We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. This includes, but is not limited to: physical assault, verbal harassment, sexual harassment, stalking, unwanted physical contact, unwanted advances, or inappropriate photography. (Inappropriate photography is defined as photography where the subject feels they are being stalked, exploited, degraded, or disrespected through being photographed. While it is reasonable that photographers will be photographing costumers and other parts of the convention, should this photography become harassing or sexual in nature, the photographer will be subject to the above harassment policy.) Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

Harassment is defined by the victim. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. If you cannot find a staff, crew, or volunteer member to assist you, please go to the information desks located near registration or near the entrance of the exhibition floor. Please report to us before taking matters into your own hands (such as personally confronting the aggressor or posting on social media). We have professional security and they are properly equipped for these contingencies.

The individual or group may be:

Warned to cease and desist;
Asked to leave the convention, or;
Banned from the convention for any period of time (without a refund).
Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

We expect participants to follow these rules at all conference venues and conference-related social Vermont Comic Con events.

We’re happy to see this: it defines what types of behavior are unacceptable at the convention, what steps to take if it happens, and what happens to the offender. This also appears to apply to all participants, whether it’s a costumer, attendee, volunteer or vendor.

As we noted on Twitter when we asked the convention if they had a policy (it wasn’t clearly linked on their website), this is important stuff. Far too often, (and not just at genre conventions), people are made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable by simply showing up to have a good time – harrassment of all types has been in the news lately, especially in the genre commuunity. Too often, this is pushed aside as being not important. This is a good step.

Fall-loha Game Day on September 27th

An autumn leaf and the words Fall-loha 2014. Calling all tabletop gamers! Green Mountain Gamers announced their Burlington game day, Fall-loha, takes place on September 27th, at the Best Western Windjammer in South Burlington:

It’s time to say goodbye to summer and Aloha to fall! And what better way to do that than by playing games! So, bust out your favorite games and colorful cabana wear for a day of gaming.

Open play is the name of the game at Green Mountain Game Days. A huge pile of games materialize as people arrive. Then everyone gets to either push their favorite or try something that sounds interesting as it hits the table.

Our game days welcome ALL types of tabletop gaming. Want to play a board game? No problem! Want to run a RPG? Go right ahead. Want to play some minis? Sure! Want to play a CCG? Awesome!

Bring your own games or just show up to play. Join us for the entire day or just for a couple of hours. It is all good.

Green Mountain Gamers events are free and open to everyone. Donations to help cover the cost of space rental, etc. are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit the Green Mountain Gamers website.

Announcing: Fantastic Vermont


We are pleased to announce that Geek Mountain State will be hosting a special panel presentation called ‘Fantastic Vermont: Science Fiction, Fantasy And Horror In The Green Mountains’ at the upcoming Burlington Book Festival later this month.

Vermont has a long history of fantastic literature, from Rudyard Kipling to H.P. Lovecraft. Under the surface, the state is home to a number of genre authors and has been used as a location for more than a couple of genre stories. In this panel, representatives from Geek Mountain State will examine just what makes Vermont special and how it and New England are particularly ripe with fantastic stories. Andrew Liptak will moderate.

Authors on the panel will include F. Brett Cox (co-editor of Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic), Kristin Dearborn (author of the horror novel Trinity), Andrew Liptak (Moderator) (co-editor of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction and of Geek Mountain State), Erika Nichols (short fiction author), Aimee Picchi (writer for CBS and short fiction) and Brian Staveley (author of The Emperor’s Blades).

We’ll be discussing how Vermont is an important setting to the writers here in the state, as well as some of our legacy in the speculative fiction genres.

The event will take place on Sunday, September 21st at 3:30pm. We’re planning a reading event right after, located at the Burlington Writer’s Workshop headquarters in Burlington at 5:00pm. RSVP here.


Let us know if you’re coming to the panel here! We hope to see you.