The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco and based on the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, chronicles the production of what may possibly be the most notoriously bad film to ever see the light of day, The Room (2003).  The film follows the mysterious Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and his friend Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) through their trials and tribulations in Hollywood that eventually lead to the production of a movie so bad that it is culturally revered.  

The film opens with real-life comedy greats and Hollywood bigshots (Kevin Smith, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, J.J. Abrams, and Kristen Bell to name a few)  giving praise to the original film, lauding its uncharacteristic and extremely comical, if not sad, rise to such a prominent level of cultural significance.  The film then flashes to San Francisco in 1998, where Greg Sestero is failing miserably on stage at an acting class.  After being critiqued and berated for his lack of passion and talent by his teacher (Melanie Griffith),  the enigmatic Wiseau approaches the stage for his turn to act.  After an extremely uncomfortable, unintelligible yet fearless rendition of the “Stella” scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, Sestero realizes that Wiseau has the precise reckless abandon that he himself needs to succeed.  When Sestero befriends Wiseau and they realize they both share a desire to be Hollywood stars, Wiseau insists that Sestero join him to live in his L.A. apartment and pursue the endeavor together, with little plan or system.  

With Sestero having mixed success getting an agent (Sharon Stone) and auditions as well as a girlfriend, Amber (Alison Brie), Wisteau grows more jealous and erratic in their interactions.  Channeling his anger into an “artistic” outlet, Tommy pens the screenplay for The Room.  After making Sestero read the entire screenplay in one sitting, he insists that Greg play the second lead in the film and that he would be entirely funding the project.  

Once the process of making the movie commences, the audience is introduced to the cast and crew of The Room, which is the best part of the movie.  The crewmembers are great, and include Seth Rogan as script supervisor Sandy, Paul Scheer as a Raphael, a disgruntled production assistant, and Hannibal Burress and Jason Mantzoukas (The League) as the owners of the lot on which the movie is filmed, and make the absurdity of the entire production more tangible.  The actors are also very believable and interesting, with an excellent performance by Zac Efron as Dan, an actor who plays the over-the-top intense “Chris R.”  

Franco’s Wiseau is a dead-on impersonation, and he is virtually unrecognizable in the role.  His undecipherable accent is accurate for his character, who has become famous for having an unknown background.  Franco emits the desire of Wiseau to succeed with an obviously less-than-ideal set of skills.  His charisma and drive throughout the movie make the character likeable and at times sympathetic, and he nails many of the iconic lines that Tommy delivers in the original film.  

The cinematography of the film is very well done, and gives a very nostalgic nod to the early 2000s with the music, scenery, and style.  While the portion of the movie in which they are filming The Room is almost documentary-style, it definitely helps to highlight the insanity of the production in a comedic way.  At the end of the film, the side-by-side reels from The Disaster Artist juxtaposed with the respective scenes from The Room are uncanny and extremely entertaining.  

The Disaster Artist is definitely an industry film, and gives many winks to Hollywood in general.  The celebrity cameos are almost constant, and they deliver a great punch to the movie.  The movie could be characterized as a biography, comedy, drama, buddy film, and a rise to success movie, and hits the nail on the head on every level.  This film about Tommy Wiseau will be a huge success, but this time because it is actually excellent.  

There is a growing (borderline viral) trend in my generation (b. 1989) to blame Disney for instilling over-the-top expectations of love in the hearts and minds of its young audiences. There is always either a prince or a princess, and there is almost always a grand gesture (or a variety of grand gestures) of undying, unconditional love, totally irreplicable in actual society.

Disney is to unrealistic expectations of romance as Pixar is to terrifyingly authentic existential crises. Building on that theme, I would argue that Coco is the deepest, most emotionally and existentially complex film in a string of deeply thoughtful and reflective Pixar movies.

Coco, Pixar’s newest Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Feature*, is the story of a young Mexican boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who, in an act of familial rebellion, leverages La Dia de Los Muertos to travel to the land of the dead and reconnect with his ancestors. Miguel encounters all sorts of characters on this journey, from aimless afterworld drifters like Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) to his childhood hero, singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).

Without giving away too much I’ll say that I believe this film to, in a word, perfect. So forgive the bias.

There are certain elements that audience have come to expect from Pixar movies, and Coco wholly delivers on all fronts. The voice work, both in dialogue and in song, is fantastic. The young kid, Anthony Gonzalez, really carries the movie in terms of vocals. But who knew Benjamin Bratt had those kinds of pipes?

On that subject: the music in this movie is so contagious. I see it being nominated for three Academy Awards in the “Best Original Song” category alone**, on top of Michael Giacchino getting a Best Original Score nod. The original songs are short and catchy and (I’d imagine) very listenable even if you haven’t seen the movie.

Pixar has always dazzled with its animation; it’s sort of what put the company on the map. Each Pixar movie breaks new ground in terms of how that animation looks–the water in Finding Dory, for example, is remarkable in and of itself. But generally, the consideration that goes into how the animation serves the film is just as impressive as the technical panache. Coco does a really awesome job of reminding you that the settings of these Pixar movies (maybe not all, but definitely most) are as much a part of the story as anything else. Take Finding Nemo, for example: if that team of filmmakers wasn’t able to create a believable, endless, abysmal underwater world, the themes of hopelessness and fear of the unknown may not have been as powerful.

If there’s one thing this movie instilled in me, it was a strong desire to learn Spanish. There were multiple occasions of my southern California viewing experience where everyone in the audience was laughing at (apparently) obvious Spanglish-centered jokes. I was seriously jealous of this; I was enjoying the movie so much that any detail of it that I wasn’t able to consume, however minute, was upsetting.

Coco is, in many ways, a classic Disney film: in terms of plot structure, musical injection, and hero/villain relationship, it fits the mold. But it still zigs when you think it will zag. Its script is masterfully written; it draws the audience so deeply into the story that we have no time to think about when or how it will end. Like most Pixar, there are enough small twists here and there to obfuscate the larger, more overarching turns in the script. And also like most Pixar, the emotional gut-punch it delivers is simultaneously way out of line and exactly what you needed.

*We’re over 10 weeks from the Oscars, but if you are a gambler, I think this is just about the easiest money you’ll make at the Academy Awards this year.***

**I say this having seen very few other movies in this year’s Oscar season, but here are my guesses in order of least likely to be nominated to most likely:

  1. “Un Poco Loco”
  2. “Proud Corazon”
  3. “Remember Me”*****

***This movie deserves to be nominated for Best Picture, as well. If Toy Story 3 was nominated, this should be, too****

****Don’t get me wrong, I thought Toy Story 3 was one of (if not) the best third movie in a trilogy of all-time, but I think Coco was more complete, evocative, and important.**********This song will win.

Boston artist Ed Sokoloff has created a photographic montage of nostalgia that portrays more than 300 pictures of businesses no longer in business — including Worcester’s former Elwood Adams Hardware Store.

Sokoloff, 75, included the Elwood Adams store — which was located at 156 Main St. for the past 235 years — in his montage “History on Canvas,” to pay homage to what was the oldest hardware store in America.

When Elwood Adams closed, its manager Fran Neale worked there for 41 years, and its assistant manager Mark Lannon racked up 35 years.

The montage, which measures 58″ x 54″, includes photographs of other former places that no longer exist like Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Boston Public Library’s Kirstein Business branch near the old Boston City Hall. It also includes retro memorabilia including the Acoustic Research loudspeaker, 45 and 78 speed records, the Brownie Hawkeye Camera, Coca Cola Classic, the compact cassette, the eight track cartridge, the IBM typewriter ball, the incandescent light bulb, the Mimeograph machine, Muzak, New Coke, the Polaroid  One-Step Land Camera, the record turntable, the reel to reel tape player, Sony Betamax videotape, Sony Walkman, Tab soda, TV clicker, TV rabbit ears, TV test pattern, VHS recorder and videotape, Western Union telegram, white wall tire and Zenith transistor radio.

It is officially the holiday season, dearest readers!  Seamless & Savvy couldn’t be more excited to celebrate with Mariah Carey Christmas tunes and the Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. With black friday and cyber monday behind us… it’s only right to think of the little gifts and stocking stuffers for you and what you think your friends and family would enjoy.

This year for the first time my family is doing a “secret santa” between our cousins. And as my personality would have it, of course I coordinated it, and found out who is my secret santa… (Hi Dan!). So let’s be real, I know he’s going to read this so maybe a few things you’ll read below are a total hints strictly for him… but around $30 is our budget, I think 😉 Each year, gift giving seems to be the best part of christmas- a thoughtful gift for a close friend, coworker, or family member truly can put you in the spirit. So, I will try to keep the prices at an easy, affordable gift giving option with a few splurges. Come along and get into the holiday spirit with me!

Warning: some of the below items are total holiday party must haves to be known as the greatest gift giver. Make sure to give Seamless & Savvy a shoutout on instagram (@seamless_savvy) if you purchase any of the below, I can’t wait to see!!

Invisibobble ‘Original’ Hair Tie (Set of 3)

$7.95

https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/invisibobble-original-hair-tie-set-of-3/4218930?contextualcategoryid=60172380&origin=keywordsearch&keyword=invisibobble

Funny this is the first… I bought these at Sephora when my gal pal Emily had 20% off. After reading so much about them I had to have them. And of course, I. Am. Obsessed. They are great! They give a pony tail volume, and leave no marks in your hair when you put it up. Seriously they leave no marks. When I was out of town and my sister was home, she stole one from me and there was no way I was getting that back. Really we’re all hooked. They come in so many colors and you can never have too many.  I stick to the clear color option because there’s no need to pay attention to my hair if it is up in a ponytail… LOL!

Yeti Tumbler 30oz Rambler

$34.99

https://www.yeti.com/search?lang=en_US&q=tumbler

If you haven’t heard about the cooler brand, Yeti, you really should look into it. My dad is obsessed and he bought me the limited edition pink tumbler and I have gotten SO many comments on this whenever I use it, which is everyday. I prefer my cold drinks in these as the ice cubes are put in at 8AM and they’ll be there at 6PM once I get home. Yeti has a stew price tag on their coolers/ accessories, but the technology they use to make their insulated cups and coolers work is very high tech and worth it. My dad actually tested the cooler and left ice in it for a week. When he went back, yes, there was STILL ice in it. This is a no brainer for a cute stocking stuffer!

Chambong  Set of 2 Curved Champagne Glasses

$35.00

https://www.amazon.com/Chambong-Glassware-rapid-Champagne-consumption/dp/B01916633G/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1512008218&sr=1-2&keywords=chambong

If this doesn’t scream holiday party essential, or holiday FUN, I don’t really know what does… take it to the next level with these glasses and I promise you’ll have a good time. What more do you need? Add a little bit of champs and you are good to GO!

Bose SoundSport In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

$149.95

https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/headphones/earphones/soundsport-wireless.html#v=soundsport_wireless_citron

This is a bigger stocking stuffer, money wise, but at least it can fit in there! I am totally the only one at the gym who still has a cord attached to their cell phone all the way to their ears. Getting caught in my arms, dropping my phone… the whole deal- I think it is time to invest in some bluetooth earbuds. Bose has impeccable brand awareness that keeps their business just right and people coming back. I am a big fan of their bluetooth speaker, so I know these are the ones I would purchase for ear buds.

Sugarfina Champagne Bears Cocktail Kit

$24.00

https://www.sugarfina.com/champagne-bears-reg-cocktail-kit

The champagne gummies and rose gummies are super trendy, and the well known brand that makes them prepared a kit for you! How cute is this? All you need to do is add the champagne and go! This would be perfect for a NYE party, huh?

Kate Spade New York Taxi Mittens

$48.00

https://www.katespade.com/products/taxi-mittens/KS1001124.html

I mean, who even calls a taxi anymore? LOL if you’re spending your holidays in NYC- these gloves are for you! They’ve been a Kate Spade favorite of mine for a while now, and they’re a classic little statement piece to have each winter. The perfect amount of detail for your chilly little hands! These mittens also come in other prints and styles. So if you aren’t in NYC or any other city for the holidays, check out what else they have! Although, Kate Spade anything really would be a win in my christmas book.

Polaroid Zip Mobile Photo Printer

$130.00

https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/polaroid-zip-mobile-photo-printer?category=tech-gifts&color=010

For all of those selfies and memories you’ll be making this holiday season… this is just one of many little gadgets for mini photos. This allows you to print out the pictures on your phone in minutes! All your gal pals will be so happy with you, guaranteed you’ll be the hit of the party with this, you’ll need to buy some extra film for sure!

Rodan + Fields Lash Boost

$150.00

https://www.rodanandfields.com/Shop/Product/ENHLSH01

So, I just bought this… With all of the reviews and talk around town and the office, I cannot wait to give this a whirl. I have very short eyelashes and when I had on fake ones for the #foreveryflynn wedding, I’ve been so obsessed with having longer, fuller lashes. They’ll be a Seamless & Savvy post coming on this in the next 8 weeks… perfect larger stocking stuffer for, well, myself? LOL!

L.L. Bean Wicked Good Moccasins

$79.00

https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/18664?feat=630-GN1&page=women-s-wicked-good-moccasins&csp=f

Literally my most favorite comfy item I own, if you don’t already, I highly suggest you invest in one of these. I have tried the Ugg moccasins and these are just that much more fluffier and comfier. Plus L.L.Bean has a lifetime warranty so, an investment totally worth it.

Mark and Graham Universal Travel Cosmetic Case

$39.99

https://www.markandgraham.com/m/products/monogrammed-universal-travel-cosmetic-case-honeycomb/?cm_cat=rewardStyle&irgwc=1&source=ir&utm_source=ir&isx=0.0.15878&pkey=csale-view-all&cm_ite=Std&cm_ven=afShopPromo&bnrid=1402119&cm_pla=IR

Okay so Mark and Graham, a Williams – Sabina, Inc brand, have some amazing gifts and usually they have some good deals. This travel cosmetic case is such a cute gift for someone who travels constantly or just could use an adorable and functional accessory. Added bonus-You can monogram the majority of things on their site. Hello? So trendy! The site has its own gift guide and separated by price starting at 30$ and under so it’s perfect for every price range. And as if the added monogram bonus wasn’t enough, they have the most adorable free gift wrapping! One less gift I have to wrap? Sign me up!!

Other cute gift ideas..

2018 Planner… Erin Condren, Lilly Pulitzer

Cheese tray… Anthropologie, HomeGoods

Champagne… Veuve Clicquot 😉

DryBar… any of their hair products are amazing! Ask my sister, she’s addicted

Gift Cards:

Nail Salon, HomeGoods, T.J Maxx, Marshalls, Sephora, Soul Cycle, Pure Barre

So, I hope these made your last minute holiday gift giving wheels turn… and if anyone is wondering, Anthropologie is Seamless & Savvy’s fav store and perfect for gift giving  😉

Happy Holidays… Stay Savvy!

The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri and based on the book of the same title by Les Sandiford, is a welcome holiday movie amidst many subpar recent releases in the last few weeks.  The film chronicles the creative process of Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) while he writes his quintessential holiday story, A Christmas Carol.  

The film begins in 1842, with Dickens coming off of his biggest success to date, Oliver Twist, and making a speaking tour through the United States to much fanfare.  It then flashes to October 1843, and Dickens has failed on his last three books and is desperate to earn money to support his upper class Victorian lifestyle.  It is shown that Dickens spends much of his time in his office trying to think of ideas with little success.  Although desperate for ideas, he and his friend John Forster (Justin Edwards) go to his publisher to pitch a new, unannounced book.  This sets the stage for Dickens’ restless attempts to develop characters and a story in a very tight timeframe.

The story really takes off when Dickens starts taking inspiration from the people around him, creating a world that will become his magnum opus.  As the characters develop, they follow him, much like the ghosts follow Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, giving him ideas and inspiration to get through the barriers faced in the writing process.

The imaginary characters from the book are great and elicit much of the ideals and characteristics of their counterparts from the original story.  The character of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) is a great addition to show the struggle that Dickens faces while writing the story.  The imaginary character’s seemingly unwavering greed and misanthropy eventually bring Dickens to face his own past and reality.

The family and friends of Dickens also do a great job of driving the story along.  One of his housekeepers, Tara (Anna Murphy), serves as one of his major inspirations throughout the film.  Forster is a great character and voice of reason for Dickens for the duration of the movie.  Jonathan Pryce of Game of Thrones plays Charles’ father, John, and although being seemingly burdensome to Charles, brings a lot of the love and spirit that the original story emits.

Stevens’ Dickens takes over the picture from the beginning to the end.  The up and coming actor has great charisma, and takes an iconic name and creates a character to whom anyone can relate.  Charming and funny, but with a bit of an edge and a past that is constructed in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, he brings Dickens to life in a way that has never been attempted.

The film is very well done, and the music and cinematography give the film a cheery, Disney-esque feel.  The movie never feels like a true “Christmas movie” in the organic sense, but as the film progresses, there is the total sense of contentment that is expected of a holiday classic.  

The movie is definitely worth watching for anyone who appreciates the Christmas genre, but it’s probably more enjoyable to watch in a family living room than a movie theater.  The movie doesn’t reinvent the Christmas movie, but it is a feel good holiday movie that is good for the whole family.

Netflix’s newest original series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe follows Frank Castle, AKA “The Punisher”, a murderous vigilante who uses extreme measures to fight against crime and corruption from the streets to the federal government. In the show’s premiere season, Castle finds himself following the breadcrumbs of a conspiracy that may lead to answers about the murder of his wife and children.

Let’s get the most important bit out of the way: Jon Bernthal is a proper actor, and Frank Castle is an awesome character. It’s so fun to discover, episode after episode, the innovative ways that Frank Castle gets the jump on his nemesis. Something happens to him that could take two or three episodes to clear up in another show, but somehow in less than forty minutes, Frank Castle has not only escaped calamity, but he’s got waiting for you something so much more calamitous. In fact, one episode boasts one of the best one-man-versus-the-world stand-offs I think I’ve ever seen. It was John Wick meets Kevin McAllister. Mouth open, fist-pumping, standing up from the couch without realizing it type of action sequences. Really, really fun.

Along with Bernthal as the title character, the supporting performances are all solid and contribute in precisely the right way to the show. Amber Rose Revah’s performance stands out as the extremely bad ass Dinah Midani, an Iranian-American DHS agent who’s unknowingly on the same trail that Castle’s on. Ebon Moss-Bachrach shows off impressive range as the computer whiz-turned-fugitive David Lieberman (AKA Micro). Lewis Wilson, a vet suffering from PTSD, is perhaps the most powerful performance. Australian actor Daniel Webber must have a knack for the disturbed; his American debut was as Lee Harvey Oswald in the Hulu Original mini-series “11.22.63”.

These performances are bolstered, for sure, by some excellent writing. The comic-book-adaptation balance of humor and action is perfectly intact; each episode weaves in these really honest, charming conversations that would feel totally out of place if they were poorly written or poorly acted. They’re neither, and instead they’re welcome diversions because they’re so realistic.

Everything about the character (and speaking voice) of Frank Castle screams cliche, and yet the show deftly and consistently avoids becoming a caricature of itself. Given the nature of cliches, a writer or director is often forced to either embrace them, or go out of their way to avoid them. Somehow, this show does neither. It zigs when you think it’s going to zag, but it’s so subtle that it doesn’t interrupt your experience.

I could (but won’t, but hope someone more qualified someday does) write pages and pages about how this show handles the topic of post-military life. The collective portrayal of veterans embraces the coldness of war, during and after combat. There are instances of melodrama, but none so over the top that it distracts from the story. It’s really powerful stuff for any genre, but especially for the superhero genre, where war is both stylized and glorified.

But then again, is this a superhero TV show? It’s Marvel, but that’s about it. Discounting his recurring role in the second season of “Daredevil”, there is nothing supernatural about Frank Castle, nor is there about anyone that Castle comes into contact with. Extraordinary, sure, but nothing technically outside the realm of possibility.

The versatility of this Marvel Cinematic Universe astounds me. Each movie has its own style, tells its own story, but takes place in the same world. And none of it seems forced or out of place.

Anyway, the series explores more than anything the complex relationship between soldiers and the country that they fight for. Castle calls this relationship, among other things, an abuse of loyalty. This is a minefield of a subject matter to tackle, especially in the precarious era of national nonsense we find ourselves in today. But on top of doing it skillfully and compellingly, I think the show treats this topic honestly, and with the respect it deserves.

It also deals heavily in the idea of the good–not so much the difference between good and bad (I actually think there’s only one character who isn’t truly aware of that difference), but more about who gets to decide who the good guys are? In that sense, I suppose it’s a little controversial (though, this idea shouldn’t be): maybe just being American doesn’t automatically make us the good guys? Especially considering how many Americans aren’t all that nice to other Americans?

The show isn’t totally perfect. One of the subplots is not quite important enough to follow, and I think the showrunners agreed; the stretches between checking in on it are sometimes so long that I forget about it entirely. There are one or two episodes in the second half of the season that stray almost completely from the established narrative structure. Initially, it really threw me off; why change things up so obviously? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized two things: one, it did sort of break up the monotony a bit, and the episodes (while different) were still solid and interesting. Two, those types of changes are actually pretty common, I think; it’s the format that’s different. It’s an ancillary consequence of the binge-watching era of television: those changes are way more noticeable when you just watched six episodes back to back that were totally different.

If you or someone you love is anti-superhero, but generally a fan of action (this, I admit, would be a bizarre combination of preferences), “The Punisher” could be the perfect introduction into this ever-expanding genre. ‘Oh, you liked the Punisher? Well check out when he clashes with Daredevil. Oh, you liked that? Well have I got like five or six more shows for you and like twenty movies…’

Note: One really fun fact about Marvel’s “The Punisher” is the guy who played Sam Stein (Michael Nathanson) is the husband of my friend’s cousin and we once played trivia together in Boston. Not just me and him, like a bunch of us. Pretty sure we won.

 

It’s never been your typical craft fair, but this year’s StART at the Station has something new and really unique to offer.

“We wanted an area where guests could gather, listen to music, enjoy a holiday drink with friends, or just have a place to sit and relax in-between shopping” says Stacy Lord, co-founder and organizer of StART at the Station.  

The new addition? The  StART Lounge.  A “destination” area complimenting the handmade holiday theme of the day.

“The Grand Hall of Union Station is currently vacant, so we used the opportunity to create a space that would add to the experience”  said Lord.  “We think people will enjoy it.”

With an incredible line up of musicians and performers:

  • 10:50 – EVE Belly Dancers
  • 11:25 – The Cosby Sweaters
  • 12:50 – The Jazz Depot
  •   1:05 – Big Eyed Rabbit
  •   2:10 – Niki Laparelli and the Gold Diggers
  •   3:30 – Dark Matter-Claymore & MadS.
  •   4:20 – Carlos Odria Trio

TV’s will be set-up so you can catch the game, and restaurants open with several dining options, this in addition to Sunday’s 12th annual gift-themed arts festival is sure to be a hit with all who attend.  

StART at the Station is where New England’s love of all things handmade comes together for the holidays.  Different from StART on the Street, with hundreds of vendors, StART at the Station is a more intimate, holiday themed event, held inside Worcester’s historic Union Station.  Once considered the most beautiful building in Massachusetts, the venue gives the event a sense of elegance that most fairs and festivals don’t have.  With over 130 artisans carefully curated to display their works, it’ can be exciting for those with an eye for art to choose from the high quality selection of handmade books, cards, paintings, pottery, textiles, and one of a kind pieces of jewelry being showcased. StART at the Station represents the city’s creative “Best of the “Best”  and draws artists and makers — and shoppers — from throughout New England.

The shop local, shop handmade movement across that country has taken hold here in Worcester.   Artists work all year for the chance to sell at StART, and shoppers have it on their calendars as well.

“You really feel like you are getting that very special something from an artist who put their talent into creating each piece” says Laura Jeffries, of Worcester. “The variety and quality of handcrafted items gets better every year.”  

In addition to finding some great gifts for someone else, or even yourself, by shopping at  stART at the Station  you are not only feeding the local economy, you are allowing for the buyer and seller to connect.  People create because they want to share a part of who they are.  They have an idea.  They work through it.  They “make” it, and then they take it to market, not just to sell it, but to find out who likes it, who needs it, and why.  They want feedback on how they can improve it.  They want to meet their customers, and in turn their customers want to meet them. “Handmade” is real, and the unique connection that happens when you meet the person who made what you are holding in your hands, with their hands, is really cool!  You’re no longer shopping, you’re building a relationship with someone who shares a common interest.

This year StART at the Station has been hilighting some of the artisans attending, through a social media campaign.  A great way to preview what will be available to purchase, and to hear, in their own words, what each artist is trying to convey through their work. Additionally, it gives the buyer who may not be able to attend, the opportunity to find out where they can purchase pieces they like.

So if you love art, and handmade, and want to support our local creative community this holiday season, head over to Union Station this Sunday and enjoy a day of music, food, shopping, and maybe a little football in the lounge.

stART at the Station, in it’s 12 th year, will be held at Union Station, 2 Washington Square, Worcester, on Sunday, December 3rd, from 11am – 5pm.  Admission is FREE.  If you would like to begin your Holiday Shopping a little early, from 9am – 11am, and skip the holiday crowds, tickets will be available for $15 per person at the door for this preview shopping experience.  Parking is available for $1 at the Union Station Garage and in FREE municipal lots around the station.  There is an ATM on site.   Union Station is wheelchair accessible, and has a full length high level platform.

WORCESTER – A sea of red and white — and a host of Christmas cheer — will make its way up and down Shrewsbury St on Saturday, Dec. 2.

The second annual Shrewsbury Street Santa Pub Crawl will kickoff at 2:30 PM and will include more than a dozen Restaurant Row bars and restaurants.

Participants are encouraged to wear their best Santa outfit or ugly sweater (prizes will be awarded). Tickets are $25 and include 2 beer tickets, an event t-shirt and food samples at each participating venue. There will be an after party at British Beer Company following the event from 5 PM to 8 PM.

To purchase tickets visit http://santapubcrawl.org/. Tickets are limited so don’t miss out!

Participating restaurants & bars include:

  • Leo’s Ristorante
  • The Pint
  • Victory Cigar Bar
  • Wormtown Brewery
  • Ralph’s Tavern
  • Parkway Diner
  • Valentino’s
  • Meze Bar & Grille
  • British Beer Company
  • 4th & 1
  • Frank’s
  • Flying Rhino
  • Funky Murphy’s
  • Vintage Grille
  • Padavano’s Place

The event is sponsored by Pulse Magazine and Wachusett Brewing Company. For more information visit: http://santapubcrawl.org/. Partial proceeds will benefit the Worcester County Food Bank

It’s Cyber Monday and it’s time for savings! ThisWeekinWorcester.com has put together a list of some great local deals you can find online from small businesses in and around Worcester.

We will continue to update this page regularly throughout the day. Please continue to check back-in for more great Cyber Monday deals in Worcester!

Worcester Railers –  50% of All Railers HC Tickets in All Price Levels for December Games! Log on to Ticketmaster.com and buy your tickets today!

The Hanover Theatre – Save 20% on Over 70 performances including Boston Pops, Cabaret, Jersey Boys and more!

Mugged in Worcester – Use the code: CYBERDEAL to get 20% off your order today!

IgWorcesterMA – Woopreneur merchandise!  Tshirts $15 and Totebags $8 today only! Message IgWorcesterMA for details.

Tree of Life Naturals – Stock on beauty supplies today until midnight! Lots of great deals!

Music Worcester, Inc. – Use code turkey to get 25% today until midnight!

Belinda Thomollari Fine Art – 30% off today!

Escape Games Worcester –  20% off of rooms booked before Tuesday November 28th!

Make a Charitable Donation to these local nonprofits when shopping AmazonSmile:

Project New Hope – Non Profit Veterans Organization

Children’s Smile Coalition

Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association

Central Mass Grown

From literary bestsellers, to every latest gadget, to malls and shopping plazas filled with mass produced “somethings” for every “someone” on your list, there is no denying that internet and chain retailers make it easy to one stop shop for the holidays.  This year though, while you’re purchasing for friends and family, consider gifting locally produced works of art from right here in Worcester, one of the most dynamic cities for art and culture in the region. Each purchase will directly impact the creative community in our city, and that’s a great way to spend your holiday dollars this season.
If you scroll down the rabbit hole of “wall decor” on your search engines list of retail websites, or walk the aisles of your local home goods store looking for gifts, you will find a lot of relaxing landscapes; bold, abstract expressionist images designed to match your sofa; and black-and-white photographs of flowers, cafes, and charming side streets in Europe.  They range from $50 to $500 and are ready to hang.  But here’s the thing, they are all mass produced, which means that while an artist did create the original piece, they receive no royalties, no recognition, and the retailers make all of the profit.  Every dollar spent on a commercial print is a dollar that could go to support a local artist instead.  If we spend a little differently, not only are we purchasing something beautiful, we are engaging, connecting, and supporting our creative community.
This year, if you would like to give a piece of art, or something handcrafted as a gift, consider doing it in a way that supports our local artists, makers, crafters, creative businesses and institutions.  For roughly the same amount of money that you would be handing over for an assembly-line reproduction, you can give something that’s one of a kind.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Holiday Festival of Crafts hosted by the Worcester Center For Crafts
November 24th and 25th from 10am to 4pm
The Holiday Festival is a true alternative to the Black Friday madness, featuring hand-made work in an environment where you can meet the maker, take your time, and let the artists personally assist you. Wearables, jewelry, leather goods, glass, textiles, ceramics, and more will be for sale. For more information please visit their website at

Gallery Purchases and Credits
Sprinkler Factory, Davis Gallery, and ArtsWorcester
If someone in your life has a true love of art, consider visiting one of our local galleries to purchase a piece they will treasure forever.  The Sprinkler Factory, the Davis Gallery, and ArtsWorcester all have work on display by distinct, diverse, brilliantly talented local artists, all with portfolios of work for sale.  If you are unsure what to purchase, ask someone from the gallery to assist you in securing a gallery credit.  Like a gift card, you may buy the credit in any denomination.  Tucked inside a handmade card, this is the perfect gift for someone who is collecting, or simply interested in receiving something unique and beautiful.  For more information, current shows, and/or a list of member artists, please contact the Sprinkler Factory at http://www.sprinklerfactory.com/, the Davis Gallery at http://www.davisgalleryaustin.com/, and ArtsWorcester at http://artsworcester.org/.
Crompton Collective
Crompton Collective is a curated boutique marketplace located in the historic Canal District of Worcester.  Designed to celebrate local, independent artists and makers, and a love of old things, the building is filled with eclectic treasures.  Wandering through the displays and booths, you are sure to find the perfect gift for that special someone on your list.  For more information about the Crompton Collective, please visit their website at http://www.cromptoncollective.com/
Worcester Wares
For Everything Worcester
Worcester Wares carries a fun mix of local, Worcester themed lines of product, created by local Worcester artists and makers.  Amazing, and all so very different, there are pins, tote bags, shirts, posters, cards, stickers, and holiday ornaments for sale in this unique shop tucked away on Commercial Street. For store times and information, please visit their website at http://www.worcesterwares.com/about/
Membership to the Worcester Art Museum
For less than $100, you and your significant other will receive FREE admission, and 10 percent off at the gift shop, when you purchase a one year membership to WAM.  What you are really buying though, are museum dates.  Dates to openings, private events, discounts on classes, and opportunities to see the newest art exhibits in a more intimate setting.  The Worcester Art Museum houses over 35,000 works of art dating from antiquity to present day, representing cultures from all over the world.  It is the hidden treasure of Central Massachusetts, making the gift of a membership something anyone will enjoy.  For more information about the museum and how to purchase a gift membership, please visit their website at http://www.worcesterart.org/.
Artist Commission
The most meaningful gifts I have ever given or received were commissioned from local artists.  When you contact an artist whose work you admire about a custom piece, don’t be surprised by how willing most are to work within your budget and visual input.  Choosing an artist may be the hardest part of beginning the acquisition.  Visiting one of Worcester’s many local galleries (including the three mentioned in this article) is a great place to start, as is Etsy.  Etsy features artists and makers from all over the world, including many from Worcester.  By visiting the web page for “Etsy Worcester” at https://www.etsy.com/market/worcester_artist you will be able to choose from a variety of artists, with a variety of styles, all from our local community, where I am sure you will find the perfect fit for creative collaboration.
And for our youngest artists, there are just as many opportunities to share the gift of art in our community:
ArtsWorcester offers a teen membership and programming to students with an interest in creating and learning about art. They host several events throughout the year for this group of young artists and their families, as a way of introducing them to our local arts community. For information about this program, please visit their website at http://artsworcester.org/
Claytime and ArtReach, both locally owned studios, offer classes and workshops for artists of all ages, including our youngest creatives.  Consider purchasing a gift card to either, as a FUN alternative to just another toy. For more information about both of these studios, please visit their websites at https://www.claytimestudio.com/ and http://www.artreachstudioafs.com
In the next few days we’ll come together and give thanks… and then we’ll shop.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and every sale in-between.  This year I encourage you to make your list, check it twice, and instead of heading out, stay in!  Spend the day in Worcester purchasing handmade, one-of-a-kind, artisan made gifts in support of our city’s growing creative community.