Springfield Steampunk Festival

This is something that we hadn’t known about before: Springfield, Vermont has its own Steampunk Festival! The event will be held later this year, but it’s worth putting on the calendar.

Here’s what the website says about how it came to be:

The Springfield Vermont Steampunk Festival started as a Facebook group of like-minded Steampunk fans just sharing Steampunk photos and thoughts. The talk turned to the possibility of a Steampunk Festival and that talk turned into the real thing – The Springfield Vermont Steampunk Festival. Steampunk takes its inspiration from science fiction writers of the Victorian age, namely Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. The fantasy worlds created by these authors combined with our present day knowledge of science and technology drives Steampunk imagination. A futuristic Victorian Age where technology is powered by steam rather than electricity.

The event will be held later this year on September 11th through the 13th: admission will run you $65 at the door, $50 in advance, with a bazaar, and a number of other events that will be announced in the near future.

This is pretty cool, and it fits nicely into the legacy of the region: as the website notes, the Precision Valley was once an industrial powerhouse in the young United States:

Springfield Vermont is in an area called Precision Valley. Once a bustling industrial age town, Springfield was known far and wide for its gear shaper, tool, spindle and grinder factories. Springfield and the Precision Valley have a rich history of industry and innovation. That’s why we are turning Springfield into the Steampunk Capital of Vermont!

For more information, visit their website. You can also ‘like’ the event on Facebook.

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 marquismidmovies@gmail.com 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.

VT Yankee Injunction Denied

A variety of news sources around the state have reported that a federal judge has ruled in the state’s favor regarding the status of the troubled nuclear power plant in southern Vermont:

Judge Denies Entergy’s Request for Injunction

The first round in the legal battle between the state of Vermont and Vermont Yankee goes to … the state. A federal judge on Monday denied Entergy Vermont Yankee’s request for a temporary injunction against the state of Vermont.

The company is suing the state to keep it from shutting down the Vernon nuclear reactor in 2012. Entergy was pushing for an early resolution to the suit because of a fuel-buying deadline. The judge denied the request, clearing the way for a full trial in September.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Gov. Peter Shumlin praised the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha, while ENVY officials offered a tempered response.

But, while Judge Murtha ruled in the state’s favor this round, his ruling leaves wide open the chance that he’ll rule in Entergy’s favor when it comes to issuing a decision later this year when the case goes to trial.

Despite the denial, Murtha made it clear he was only denying the temporary injunction and moving for an expedited trial on the broader issues raised by ENVY’s suit against the state of Vermont, Gov. Shumlin and the Vermont Public Service Board. That trial is scheduled to begin September 12.

“In the unique circumstances presented in this case, only permanent injunctive relief could likely ameliorate the alleged harms, and therefore trial on the merits has been accelerated. This court declines to order short-term drastic and extraordinary injunctive relief that will not offer certainty either in the short or long term, and will have no operative effect on state actions before trial,” Murtha wrote in his 18-page decision.

Read the full article here.

Geek Things for June 9th

  • Public Forum – How Vermont will meet its energy needs far into the future. 6–9PM, Riverside Middle School, Springfield. Free. (Energy)
  • Basic Bike Maintenance, 5:30–6:30PM, Skirack, Burlington. Free. (Bikes)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Understanding & Protecting Intellectual Property. Preregistration requested. 7-9pm, Dean’s Conference Room, Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington. (Copyright)
  • Green Mountain Global Forum – The astrophysics of the warming of planets throughout the history of the solar system in “Just How Hot? Climate Change and Lessons From the Universe.” 7PM, Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield. Free. (Astrophysics)
  • ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, 8PM, 11:59PM, Merchants Hall, Rutland. $18-20. (Theater)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)