Forbidden Planet Screening

This is one of my absolute favorite films: Forbidden Planet. Middlebury College will be screening the movie as part of their Hirschfield International Film Series on Saturday, January 24th from 3 – 5:30pm. Middlebury alumnus, Dan Curry ’68 will be giving an introduction to the film.

The film will be screened at Middlebury College’s Dana Auditorium.

Middlebury College: Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction

Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction

Middlebury College has a really interesting event listed for today: Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction. The event will take place from  4:30 – 6pm in the Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room on the college. Here’s the blurb:

“Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction,” a talk by Mingwei Song, associate professor of Chinese, Wellesley College. Dr. Song has published books and articles in both English and Chinese. His Chinese books include Criticism and Imagination (Shanghai, 2013) and The Sorrows of a Floating World: a Biography of Eileen Chang (Taipei, 1996; Shanghai, 1998; Hong Kong, 2001). His first monograph in English, titled Young China: National Rejuvenation and the Bildungsroman, 1900-1959, is forthcoming from Harvard University Asia Center. He guest edited a special issue of Renditions (2012) that featured the English translations of 13 Chinese works of science fiction. He is currently writing a new monograph on the utopian and post-human imageries in twenty-first century Chinese science fiction. Dr. Song’s talk will focus on the works of three influential authors who created the “new wave” of Chinese science fiction: Liu Cixin (b. 1963), Wang Jinkang (b. 1948), and Han Song (b. 1965).

I’m particularly looking forward to reading The Three Body Problem, which is due out next month from Tor Books. This looks to be an event not to miss.


Theater-sized Video Gaming

It’s interesting to see what Vermont theaters have done in recent years to stay afloat. Cinemas in some places have become more than just a place to go watch films. Essex Cinemas has worked to cultivate the serious movie-goer. Williston’s Majestic Ten has advertised their screens as a meeting and presentation space. Now, it seems that there’s a new use for theaters: video gaming.

While looking at the slate of Vermont’s screens earlier today, two theaters caught my eyes: Springfield’S Cinemas 3 and Middlebury’s Marquis Theatre both advertised video gaming rentals. It’s a cool idea: hook up an xBox or Playstation to one of the big screens and watch as your own story unfolds on the big screen.

The Marquis Theatre advertises the following: $25 an hour. You get the whole theater to yourself, or for your friends. Utilize our state of the art 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound Systems (speakers hand picked by a specialist) and our Christie CP2210 DLP Digital Projectors (worth more than your college tuition). Enjoy the comfort of our thickly padded reclining chairs, along with classic concession choices, ranging from fresh buttered popcorn to the largest collection of candy you will ever see in a place of business. You will never want to go home. Ever.

The theater is available by appointment. (Email them at or call (802) 388-4841)

Across the state, Springfield Cinemas 3 has a similar program: $40 an hour will get you a theater. They note that they have “340 square feet of screen with both PS3 and XBOX 360 systems. There are four wireless controllers for each system and a small selection of video games to choose from on hand.”

This makes quite a bit of sense to me: movie theaters in the last couple of years have been under fire to change over from traditional 35mm or 70mm projectors to digital ones. (Indeed, when prominent directors push for traditional film releases, theater owners get pretty upset. These digital projectors are expensive, and theaters such as Waitsfield’s Big Picture theater had to resort to crowd-funding campaigns to actually begin to purchase the equipment. As the Marquis Theater notes, it’s more than a college education (Middlebury College’s tuition is in the $46,000 range).

This is all in a market that has seen the worse year in movie revenue in over a decade. If people aren’t going to the movies as much as they did before, it’s clear that movie theaters are going to be diversifying their offerings quite a bit in the coming years. My guess here is that what Middlebury and Springfield are doing are steps that we’ll see other theaters take up in the near future.

I have to admit, it’s something that I’m surprised hasn’t been done much thus far, because it’s a pretty simple idea. (My guess is the conversion to digital projectors is the key here.) I’m now itching to break out multiplayer Halo on one of the big screens with a group of friends.

Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference

Middlebury College is hosting it’s first annual environmental writer’s conference, which will focus on all things writing and the environment:

The Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference is an annual, week-long writers’ conference, based on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model, that’s designed to hone the skills of people interested in producing literary writing about the environment and the natural world. The conference is co-sponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Orion magazine, and Middlebury College’s Environmental Studies Program.

While there’s not time to apply for the program, there are a number of public events scheduled. Here’s what you can attend this week:

June 9th:

  • 8:00pm, Opening Event

June 10th:

  • 9:00 am, Lecture by Alan Weisman, “Where Environmentalists Fear to Tread”
  • 3:30 pm, Publishing panel with Jennifer Sahn of Orion magazine, Deanne Urmy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Joan Wyckoff of Carol Mann Agency, and moderator H. Emerson Blake.
  • 8:00 pm, Reading by Camille Dungy.

June 11th:

  • 9:00 am, Lecture by Maurice Manning, “How Landscape Went From Being the Setting of a Poem to Being the Subject of the Poem.”
  • 8:00 pm, Reading by Alison Hawthorne Deming.

June 12th:

  • 9:00 am, Lecture by Rick Bass
  • 8:00 pm, Reading by Maurice Manning

June 13th:

  • 9:00 am, Lecture by Alison Hawthorne Deming, “To See Beyond Earth’s Noise: New Relationships Between Art and Science.”
  • 8:00 pm, Reading by Jane Brox.

June 14th,

  • 9:00 am, Lecture by Camille Dungy, “Like Taming Something Wild: Why Setting, Smile, and Metaphor Make Sense.”
  • 8:00 pm, Reading by Alan Weisman.

Full details are here.

Pinchnut and Crokinole Winery Classic

A pitchnut flick in progress.

A pitchnut flick in progress.

Sage Van Wing of VPR reported this morning on a pinchnut and crokinole tournament this past weekend in the Middlebury area. 40 plus people gathered at the Lincoln Peak winery to flick discs to score points.

While the focus in the contemporary board game scene is often centered on the highly thematic or brain-burning economic engines, there’s a growing awareness for older games like crokinole and pinchnut of the abstract or dexterity-based persuasion. Crokinole in particular has gained traction in the hobby game scene in recent years, especially in light of it featuring as the final competition in PAX East’s 2012 Omegathon.

Ilsley Library Game Day November 17th

Ilsley Library, Middlebury, Vermont. Photo by donshall.

Hot gaming news from Addison County! Over on the Green Mountain Gamers site, Chuck Burkins announced today he and some friends are hosting a game day at Ilsley Library in Middlebury on Saturday, November 17th:

Two friends and myself are running a family friendly game day at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury on Saturday the 17th of November. There will be plenty of familiar games like Battleship, Othello, and Monopoly, but there will also be some more Green Mountain Gamerish games like Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Pandemic. If you’re in the area, come on by. Admission is free. This is not affiliated with the Green Mountain Gamers, just having fun and playing games. It will go from 10AM to 8PM.

People interested in learning more can visit the forum thread on Green Mountain Gamers’ web site, or email Chuck directly.

Geek Things for August 22nd

  • Draw Comics!, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • Marjorie Cady Memorial Writers Group, 10AM–12PM, Ilsley Public Library, Middlebury. Free. (Writing)
  • Open Cardgames!, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • L5R Constructed, 7pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Mini Painting, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Monday Night Magic, 6pm – 9pm, Village Pizza, Montpelier. (Gaming)
  • Straw Rockets, 11am, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Kitchen Chemistry, 3pm, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Planetarium presentation: Meteors that Changed the World 11:00 a.m., Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury. $5/person. (Astronomy)

Geek Things for August 19th

  • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 9AM–9PM, Bread Loaf Campus, Ripton. Lectures and readings are free and open to the public; see for schedule. (Writing)
  • Murder Mysteries Live! 2011, 6PM, Wilson Castle, Proctor. $30; ages 18 and up only; formal or period costume preferred; preregister. (Murder Mystery)
  • Name That Movie!, 5–6PM, The CineClub, Savoy Theater, Montpelier. $2.50. (Movies)
  • Queen City Ghostwalk, 8–9PM, Burlington City Hall Park, Burlington. $14. (Ghosts)
  • ‘Rango’, 3PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Movies)
  • ‘Willy Wonka Jr.’ 11AM, 2PM, Montpelier City Hall Auditorium, Montpelier. $5-10. (Theater)
  • Owl Prowl & Night Ghost Hike, 6:45–8:45PM, Little River State Park, Waterbury. $2-3; call to confirm. (Ghosts)
  • Visiting Artist & Writer Series, 8PM, Lowe Lecture Hall, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson. Free. (Arts)
  • ‘Ten-Fest’, 8PM, Valley Players Theater, Waitsfield. $8-10. (Theater)
  • ‘Wicked City’, 8PM, Depot Theatre, Westport. $25. (Theater)
  • FNM – Friday Night Magic – Draft – $15 Entry Fee, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Hoopster Gliders and Paper Craft, 11:00am, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Honeybees, 3:00pm, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Open Gaming Convention –, Aug 19 – 21, 2011, Nashua, NH (Conventions)
  • Planetarium presentation: Meteors that Changed the World 11:00 a.m., Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury. $5/person (Astronomy)
  • Public Star Gazing, Castleton State College Observatory, 7:45 to 10:30 PM, Castleton State College, Castleton. (Astronomy)
  • Friday Night Magic — Varying Format, 6pm – 10pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Friday Night Magic — Standard Constructed, 6:30pm – 10:30pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)


Geek Things for August 18th

  • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 9AM–9PM, Bread Loaf Campus, Ripton. Lectures and readings are free and open to the public; see for schedule. (Writing)
  • Basic Bike Maintenance, 5:30–6:30PM, Skirack, Burlington. Free. (Bikes)
  • Mount Mansfield Scale Modelers, 6:30–8:30PM, Brownell Library, Essex Junction. Free. (Modelers)
  • Summer Sci-Fi Film Series – It Came from Outer Space. 7PM, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury. $3. (Movies)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Zoom In on Zebra Mussels, 12:30PM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington. Regular admission, $9.50-12.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • ‘Ice Ages, Glaciers and Fossils — Oh My!’ Geological history of Button Bay and the Lake Champlain Basin. 3–3:30PM, Button Bay State Park, Vergennes. Regular park day-use fee, $2-3. (Fossils)
  • Panel Discussion – The role food plays in our lives. 6:30PM, Amy E. Tarrant Gallery, Flynn Center, Burlington. Free. (Food)
  • ‘Cinderella’, 7:30PM, Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon. $25-85. (Theater)
  • ‘Ten-Fest’, 8PM, Valley Players Theater, Waitsfield. $8-10. (Theater)
  • ‘Wicked City’, 8PM, Depot Theatre, Westport. $25. (Theater)
  • Book Talk, 11AM–12PM, Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne. Free. (Books)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Planetarium presentation: KEPLER and the Search for New Worlds 11:00 am, Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury. $5/person. (Science)
  • Color Mixing, 11:00 am, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Fossils: Evidence of the Past. 3pm, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)

Geek Things for August 16th

  • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 9AM–9PM, Bread Loaf Campus, Ripton. Lectures and readings are free and open to the public; see for schedule. (Writing)
  • Computer Lesson, 5–8PM, Champlain Senior Center, McClure MultiGenerational Center, Burlington. $5 donation. (Computers)
  • ‘After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands’ & Media That Matters Film Showcase, 7PM, Film House, Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center, Burlington. Free. (Film)
  • Ben & Jerry’s Outdoor Movie Festival – TRON: Legacy, 9PM, Ben & Jerry’s, Burlington. Free. (Movies)
  • ‘The Aliens’, 7:30PM, Weston Rod & Gun Club, Weston. Tickets start at $24. (Theater)
  • ‘Cinderella’, 2PM, Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon. $25-85. (Theater)
  • Neil Goodwin – The We Go As Captives: The Royalton Raid and the Shadow War on the Revolutionary Frontier, 7PM, Old Town Hall, Brookfield. Donations accepted for the Old Town Hall restoration fund. (Authors)
  • Willard Sterne Randall – Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, 7PM, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury. Free; cash bar. (History)
  • Boardgame Night, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • HeroClix!, 7:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Paper Cup Telephones, 11am, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Fingerprints, 3pm, Monshire Museum of Science, Norwich. (Kids)
  • Green Drinks: CVPS smartPOWER, 7 – 9pm, 51 Main at the Bridge, Middlebury. (Environmentalism)