Musical Melancholy: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land

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Is there any genre that excites such undeserving scorn and hatred as the Musical? It seems that the very core of this hatred is nothing more than a revulsion to unceasing optimism and a complete refusal to suspend your disbelieve that normal people would burst out into song at random intervals.

I won’t say that La La Land solves this problem, nor that it is a problem.…

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Valve Loves Mods

Half Life

Have you ever played a game and thought to yourself “I really wish that dragon looked like Thomas the Train?” Well if you have, then you are in luck, because mods allow you to do just that. And if you have never even come close to thinking that, then fear not: there is still a mod out there for you. Mods are a great way to make a game more personal and entertaining since mods can essentially change almost any aspect of a video game into something the player wants. However, mods would be nothing without the developers that make the games they are for.

One developer that has been particularly prominent in the modding world is Valve. In fact, Valve was actually born from mods. In 1996, two Microsoft employees—Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington—left Bill Gates’ company to go and try designing video games.  To do this, they acquired the software development kit (or SDK) for the Quake engine and began modding. In 1998, they released their debut product Half Life.

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Why Bee Movie is Government Propaganda

Bee Movie

I saw Bee Movie when it came out in theaters (whenever that was) and liked it fine (I was 10 or something–again, I don’t know when the film came out–but the point is that my critical senses weren’t as finely honed back then). I didn’t really get who Jerry Seinfeld was since I hadn’t seen Seinfeld, but he had a funny voice and that was cool (again, I was 10. Maybe 11).

However, this evening my brother mentioned that Bee Movie popped up in Netflix and that despite the provided two-and-a-half-out-of-five-star rating, he watched it and thought it was a fine piece of cinema. In an effort to join him in waxing poetic over Jerry Seinfeld‘s animation debut (?), I thought back on the plot of the incredibly forgettable film.

I found that all I could remember was the kitschy opening scene wherein the main character (a bee played by none other than Jerry Seinfeld, the only actor I’ve mentioned thus far in the article) goes over to his closet, which is full of a bunch of iterations of the same outfit, then ponders which of the outfits he will pick (comedy gold!…

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Finding the Greenman: Inside the Studio of Nicholas Kahn

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In early July I had the pleasure of visiting the studio of artist Nicholas Kahn. Though he has his primary studio in Hudson, Nicholas also works in his farmhouse where he has cultivated a menagerie of objects from Mexican devil figures to dead bats and taxidermies. As I am studying photography, it was a rare opportunity to see his artistic process, although for the majority of my visit Nicholas was working on a watercolor painting, another one of his mediums. Some of his other works are heavily inspired by 17th century dutch art and pagan religions ( especially the Greenman), which are prevalent in his floor to ceiling tapestries. After finishing up with his painting, which ended up being a pangolin suspended over valley and Hudson River, we headed out to a local waterfall to work on “Dreams of the Drowning World,” a portrait series by Nicholas and fellow artist Richard Selesnick.…

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Sleeping with Thedas

Dorian Romance

As a company, Canadian-based game developer BioWare has been famous for its attempts at inclusivity of minority characters in its video games. Through the years, most notably in its two most famous properties, the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, BioWare’s concern with inclusivity has been centered largely around that of minorities on the sexuality and gender spectrums. These attempts at inclusivity have been earned the studio commendations for their progressivity and forward-thinking, as well as appreciation from fans for targeting a somewhat atypical triple-A gaming audience—that is, people who are not heterosexual, cisgender men. Perhaps the most prominent example of BioWare’s efforts at representation is its most recent major publication, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Of the three major Dragon Age titles published so far, Inquisition, released in November of 2014, is undoubtedly the most inclusive when it comes to gender and sexuality. While Dragon Age: Origins (2009) and Dragon Age II (2011) featured multiple straight and bisexual characters, Inquisition is the first of the three to feature not only gay and lesbian characters, but also a character who falls outside of the traditional male-female binary on the gender spectrum.…

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