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Arts & Leisure

CAROL LOLLIS

Shirley Whittemore at her home in Amherst with the dolls she makes and donates to Help Our Kids.

Giver of hugs Amherst woman deploys homemade dolls to comfort vulnerable children

Thursday, December 11, 2014

AMHERST — Spread out in the living room of Shirley Whittemore’s Cushman home are more than a dozen dolls she has made in recent years, each one meticulously hand-crafted, each with its own story. In one corner is a doll seemingly flying through the air, lifted off the floor by a kite she is holding. Resting on the floor are …

The stories behind Toy Fund applications

Monday, December 1, 2014

HADLEY — For one single mother who uses scholarships to pay for her son’s participation in youth sports and other activities, the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund ensures that he won’t be disappointed with his gifts come Christmas. “Sidney Smith has put a smile on his face on Christmas Day,” the mother wrote in a letter recently received with her application submitted to …

friends & neighbors

Friday, December 12, 2014

Amherst Sasha Lansky, a 2010 graduate of Amherst High School, was honored by the Association for Africanist Anthropology for her college thesis: “My Brother Before Me: The Role and Experience of Local Humanitarian Aid Workers In Eastern Cameroon.” The essay was based on Lansky’s field work in Cameroon while she was a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated in …

What makes Vladimir tick? Russian-American journalist looks at Putin through the prism of modern Russia

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

With the Russian economy staggering under the plummeting price of oil, Vladimir Putin has been back in the headlines in recent weeks, blaming the West — and the United States in particular — for “warmongering” and creating disorder …

Button up and count down for 30th-anniversary First Night Northampton

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It’s not easy to be all things to all people, but Penny Burke and her merry band of magicians at First Night Northampton come pretty close every year. On Dec. 31, the city will ring in the new …

Table Talk: Cooking your goose (and other birds for the holidays)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The mournful music of some carols seem out of keeping with the holiday spirit. Not so “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which spanks along at the rollicking pace set by Frederic Austin’s tune, composed in 1909 and based …

Bruce Watson’s Lifestyles: This is only a test

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This year winds down with a unique distinction. Congratulations, 2014. Your grim news, replete with plagues and bombs and occasional beheadings, has made you the first year in history to be forever written with an emoticon. From now on, this waning, woeful year will be written as 2014 …

MuseFLASHES

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter ballet East Street Ballet presents “Winter Dances” Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the East Street Studio Theater, 47 East St., Hadley. On the program: Paris International Ballet Competition award-winning choreography, “The Glove,” by Donna Bonasera, …

Movie times

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AMHERST CINEMA 28 Amity St., Amherst 253-2547 amherstcinema.org Birdman (R) Daily 7:25, 9:50; Fri., Mon.-Wed. also 2:10; Sat.-Sun. also 11:15 a.m.; Thurs. no 7:25, also 4 Citizenfour (R) Fri.-Wed. 4:45 Force Majeure (R) Fri.-Wed. 4:20, 6:55, 9:45; Sat. also 11:10 a.m.; Thurs. 11 a.m., 1:30, 6:45; Wed. no …

Movie review: ‘Exodus’ plagued by casting, script issues

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

To what do we owe the second coming of the biblical epic? A genre that was once as moldy as stale communion wafers has been reborn this year, first with Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and now with Ridley Scott’s …

Movie review: Cumberbatch shines as wartime codebreaker

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

’Tis clearly the season for Oscar-worthy performances by British actors playing mathematical geniuses facing daunting personal odds. Sound overly specific? Consider: A few weeks ago we had “The Theory of Everything,” starring Eddie Redmayne as the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking. And now we have Benedict Cumberbatch in “The …

Amherst Police Department begins Toys for Joy drive

Thursday, December 4, 2014

AMHERST — Toys, gift cards and wrapping supplies are being collected by the Amherst Police Department in its annual Toys for Joy campaign. The gift drive runs through Dec. 19. All donations, which should be brought to the police station at 111 Main St. , will benefit families …

Saved by the Christmas Spirit Old Deerfield Productions stages a new version of ‘A Christmas Carol’

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It’s likely the most well-known Christmas story in the English-speaking world — and its main character has long been the very symbol of greed, miserliness and misanthropy. But in the end, he comes to symbolize something much better: …