Going away to college is often touted as one of the defining times in a young person’s life, a period in which they are no longer under the supervision of their parents and placed in an environment that can’t help but change them. As cliche as this vision of academia seems, that’s exactly the situation of freshman Joyce Brown, one of the leading players in David Willis’s slice-of-life dramedy Dumbing of Age, which is set entirely on the campus of Indiana University.
Joyce (like Willis himself) has been raised in a loving but sheltered and strict fundamentalist Christian home and is attending school to, in her own words “hunt down the wonderful, godly man [she] will someday marry.” But Joyce’s worldviews will be tested and turned upside down by a widely diverse and intricate cast of characters. These include Joyce’s misanthropic roommate, her Yale-bound new best friend who happens to be an atheist, her rebellious convicted felon neighbor, their despot of an RA, and an emotionally unstable girl masquerading as a caped crusader (or is it the other way around?)–and those are just the people on her floor!
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, September 14th, 2015||No Comments »|
Excuse me for being a tad behind on app games. You see, I owned a Windows phone for the past year (I know, I know–it was those yellow Lumias that hypnotized me at the store) and couldn’t do anything on it. But recently I finally chucked the phone for an iPhone and have been getting caught up again on app games. I already played popular hits like Fallout Shelter and The Silent Age, and now my latest obsession is Framed.
Released late last year, Framed has won tons of awards and has been a critically acclaimed darling amongst reviewers, so going in I already had high expectations. And since I like noir, jazz, and puzzles, I figured this was a formula that would be hard to screw up.
In Framed you’re in control of various thieves who are running away from cops. The game is presented like a comic book with animated panels for each scene. At the beginning of each page we see the events unfold panel by panel, with scenarios that usually end with you, the thief, getting caught by police. To avoid this, you must rearrange the panels to recreate the pattern of events to trigger the correct ending. It starts off easy, but like most puzzles, gets incredibly hard.
The only disappointing thing about Framed is that it’s a tad short, but if you’re a lover of puzzles and stylized silhouettes, Framed will be your new commuting companion.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, September 1st, 2015||No Comments »|
One of my favorite types of music is the kind where the melody and the beats are absolutely killer and the lyrics are basically poetry, but the theme of the song is a bit hard to interpret. The Staves fit perfectly into that category. A proper way to describe this band of sisters is like if Mumford and Sons and Haim had a musical baby, The Staves would be it.
These three sisters, Jessica, Camilla, and Emily, originate from Watford, Hertfordshire in the beautiful country of England. Their first EP, Facing West, was released in 2010, which was a perfect starting point for the band and their slow rise to fame. This EP also displayed each of their individual talents aside from singing, such as Camilla’s ukulele skills and their striking harmonies.
Though they are initially from across the pond, they have a bit of American influences such as gothic folk and hippie rock. Their most recent album, If I Was, was actually released in 2014 but has only gained legit fame this past year. The album is a great extension to their past EPs and first album. A personal favorite off the album is the first track, “Blood I Bled.” It’s a great first look on the album and the type of music the sisters create. Their style is perfect for almost all music lovers; whether it be the hippies or the hipsters, The Staves will fit in their daily playlist.
|Recommended by Alecxis Rubic||Friday, August 28th, 2015||No Comments »|
Anyone who’s spent time in a foreign country can tell you that culture shock is a real thing. While perhaps not as romantic and alienating as moody cinema might have you believe, there’s a never-ending adjustment period in which you find yourself faced with situations you never would have considered before your arrival (ask anyone who’s had to use a Japanese squat toilet).
Nowhere is this more obvious than the adorable and irreverent comics of Mary Cagle, who has for the past two years been chronicling her time as an English teacher in a small-town Japanese primary school under the title Let’s Speak English. Cagle, who in addition to teaching also works as an illustrator, writer, and colorist on a multitude of comics, illustrates Let’s Speak English in the traditional Japanese comic format called 4-koma (ie: four black and white panels stacked atop each other) and makes full use of the medium to tell short, witty, and only slightly embarrassing stories of her daily interactions with her students, coworkers, and neighbors.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, August 21st, 2015||1 Comment »|
If it weren’t for all the past critical praise for The Age of Miracles, it might have been a hard recommendation to sell. A coming of age story set amongst a backdrop of a dystopian, dying world? Surely we’ve all heard this story before. Thanks to The Hunger Games and Divergent, most book readers probably aren’t in a rush to read another story like it either. But The Age of Miracles’ approach to sci-fi and blossoming teenagers is anything but cliche. If anything, its speculative nature proves that sometimes human beings do strange things when faced with things they can’t control.
Despite being a story about the “end of the world,” the novel moves at a lingering pace. The calamity in Karen Thompson Walker’s novel can’t be killed or destroyed in a war, and so the events that unfold echo the actions of its characters, who move with uncertainty against an inevitable black death. In Miracles, the disaster is the slowing of Earth’s rotation, resulting in longer days that have catastrophic effects in both nature and biology.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, August 18th, 2015||No Comments »|
Theropods is a simple point-and-click adventure game about a cavewoman battling dinosaurs, but the game is surprisingly adorable. Our story opens when a peaceful evening at the neolithic campfire is interrupted by hungry dinos. Our proto-human heroine, with adorable fur bikini and flowing red hair, will need to grab and creatively use items around her to survive, so get clicking.
Players can carefully consider how to use and combine items, or just click randomly whenever the cursor lets you know you’ve found an interactive object. (I used both methods.) If you find yourself completely stuck, JayIsGames has a pretty clear walkthrough, but when I wasn’t sure how to proceed, I found that random clicking plus the ol’ adventure game standard of pocketing everything that’s not nailed down was a pretty great way to get through.
|Recommended by Meg Stivison||Friday, August 7th, 2015||1 Comment »|
There’s a lot of hyperbolic praise swirling around Beijing-based artist Nova Heart (aka Helen Fang), from being called “the Queen of Beijing Rock” to “the Blondie of China.” My knowledge of Chinese music is nonexistent, and while Jpop and Kpop have both had their turn in American pop culture (even though both were treated as fads), America is long overdue for a Chinese crossover. Maybe that’s where Nova Heart comes in.
Fang, a mini celebrity in her own country, has been fronting bands and touring across Europe for the past few years. Nova Heart, her much-anticipated solo project, has been swimming in critical accolades since her 2013 debut EP, Beautiful Boys. Since then, the imminent release of her first full-length album and a song of hers appearing in an episode of Hemlock Grove have both boosted her exposure here in the states.
Although I personally don’t get a “rock” persona from her, Fang is excellent at spinning dark, moody sounds that are as ominous and puzzling as her eye-catching videos. There’s a story to everything she does, and her commitment to strong visuals helps solidify her vision. And exactly what is Nova Heart’s vision? You’ll have to dive into her world and find out.
If you liked this, don’t forget to pre-order her self-titled debut album.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, August 4th, 2015||No Comments »|