throughlines

10

In the first five minutes of the film, the throughlines of Cher’s wardrobe are established: bright or rich colors, plaids, and some variation on the four Fs: feathers, fuzz, fur, or frills, which all tend to highlight her fussy nature and princess-like attitude. (…)

Her entire wardrobe suddenly changes almost exclusively to romantic pinks and lavenders as she tries to make herself into a better person, a person worthy of Josh. There are no frills here, no ruffles or feathers, no plaids or thigh-highs, no bright or rich colors. Pastels—and especially pinks—are not just the colors of romance for Cher, they’re the colors of maturity and growth as well.  (…)

This final bit of costuming illustrates why Clueless has had such long-lasting impact and has inspired fond memories for an entire generation of viewers. Clueless isn’t a film about vapid mean girls or trendy fashion or even about young women pinning all their hopes and self-esteem on finding love. It’s Cher Horowitz’s coming-of-age story, plain and simple.

                -  ‘Clueless’ style: a fashion analysis of the best teen movie of all time by Tom and Lorenzo

i am super embarrassingly heartbreakingly invested in poe being canonically gay and i am also legitimately so glad that for ONCE EVER fandom has not just decided to unilaterally ignore a black man having an extremely slashable relationship and have, instead, rallied behind it

but i really wish it would do that without being gross and dismissive about finn and rey’s relationship in ways that literally just mimics the exact same language and rationale always used to exclude black men as romantic interests in both fanon and canon

the fact that you’re shipping poe/finn doesn’t actually make ignoring the obvious romantic setup of finn/rey by discussing how there’s ~no chemistry~ and finn’s so much more like a brother to rey and she so obviously doesn’t return his feelings any less hurtful

like here’s the thing: with john boyega and daisy ridley as leads, with rey and finn written as they were, their relationship being the huge focus that it was, their caring for each other being the emotional throughline for the film that it was, they set up a fucking star wars trilogy to revolve around a black leading man in an interracial relationship with a white woman which is still such a huge taboo it’s straight up fucking embarrassing

and yes it would be a magical occurrence of wonder and delights if finn/poe was actually canon, but it’s already pretty fucking wonderful that finn/rey is so idk maybe don’t casually shit on that bcs it’s kinda important

10

Day 11 of celebrating illustrators, painters, and artists of the African Diaspora:
Jerry Pinkney
http://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com/

When I first started compiling this list of illustrators and painters, I quickly realized certain traditions and throughlines. I found myself nodding my head at the list and saying “Black people sure do love collage and children’s books!”
For me collage harkens back to african textiles and patterning, a reclamation of that tradition. While picture book illustration has this sense of urgency for representation.
Children are most vulnerable and need to have healthy images of themselves. So I see this history of childrens book illustration less as a limit, and more like a front line warrior piercing the armors of underrepresentation.

And I don’t think I can speak of black illustrators that focus on picture books, without mentioning Jerry Pinkney.
Jerry has been illustrating since the 60s with 100s of titles and he is still going to this day. He has won the awards, had the exhibitions, worked as an educator. He has done… alot.
And not to mention. Those watercolor skills!

So here are some of my favorites from Jerry Pinkney

8

Forgotton Anne 

developed by ThroughLine Games  |  Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One  

“A 2d cinematic adventure game combining puzzle platforming with adventure game elements. You play as Anne, the enforcer who keeps order in the Forgotton Realm, as she sets out to squash a rebellion that might prevent her master, Bonku, and herself from returning to the human world…”

[Visit the Website]

via Craig Stephens

Say that it’s mere “brotherhood” or “friendship” if you will. But when the Bad Thing (sob) happens at the end of X-Men: First Class, Erik doesn’t respond exactly like a buddy. He passionately drops 500 missiles, clutches Charles to his chest, homicidally freaks out at everyone else on the beach and then basically proposes marriage (“I want you by my side”)—all while looking like he wants to kill himself.

They are in love, and that’s that.

They should be married and living happily ever after, but Erik’s rage issues make him an unsuitable daddy for the X-babies, so Charles divorces him on the beach, and they’ll spend the rest of their lives in miserable devotion to each other, facing each other from across the line, instead of living together in Westchester mansion splendor, “playing chess” until they too old and creaky to “move the pieces.”
In the end, adding the romantic throughline to the film is a masterstroke. The “X-Men: First Love” approach elevates the otherwise absurd comic-book goings-on. And the narrative heft of the storied mutant war to come elevates the potentially trite romantic arc.

Beware of Country Bears

I’ve been working on an expanded version of my Disney Gothic story about the Country Bears Jamboree. I’m planning to eventually go back through and de-Disney it all, so that Disney doesn’t try to sue or anything and also so that I don’t have to be super historically accurate. 

But in the meantime I’m leaning heavily on the Disney structure, so I’ve been watching reel of the Country Bear Jamboree (park fans tend to be detail oriented, and you can find videos of the Jamboree on youtube by year, going back almost a decade, as well as scripts going back to 1971). 

It’s just such a weird performance. Most of the Animatronic Burlesques, as I think of them, have a clear narrative arc and a kind of throughline – the Tiki Room, the Hall of Presidents, the Carousel of Progress, they all have a story and a point. The Jamboree is this bizarre fever dream full of bears in wigs and half-understood in-jokes. And once in a while, if you look where the spotlights aren’t, you see some truly unsettling stuff. The piano player looks super sad as they lower him into the pit, and there’s a weird moment where the tiny bear-child on the end of the Jug Band setpiece gives an approving little hoot following a song about a guy who keeps getting yelled at by the women in his life for not being highly sexed enough. 

There is a song about how Mama shouldn’t beat her son for misbehaving, she should just shoot him. This is being sung to a crowd primarily composed of overstimulated children and their very tired parents. 

And people applaud the bears. That’s weird, right? I mean I think I did it, when I was watching it, but that’s weird! They’re robots! There’s no puppeteers or anything. Nobody applauds the Tiki Room or the Hall of Presidents. Though I did startle @scifigrl47 when they introduced Dwight Eisenhower during the Hall of Presidents and I let out a sudden, murderous growl. (I’ve just finished reading Command And Control, about nuclear accidents and escalations, and I have shockingly strong opinions about Eisenhower.) 

Anyway, it all works in my favor, but damn. Ease back on the child murder and bear sex there a little, Walt. 

The God of Winterfell

Inspired by a back-and-forth with float-freely-forever​ about whether or not Bran is ever going to return home:

Bran’s story is about the loss, sacrifice, grief, and (crucially) ultimate solitude incurred on the path to power. Of course, one can easily map those concepts onto many other character arcs in ASOIAF (from Jon to Cersei to Stannis to Daenerys…) but the basis for my belief that Bran will never physically return to Winterfell is that his journey of torment and transcendence is fundamentally, metaphysically different from that of any other character, on a scale that is difficult to overstate.

This is especially true in comparison to his big sisters. One of the most widely accepted thematic throughlines of the series, especially within the Feast/Dance timeline, is that Arya, Sansa, and Bran Stark are undergoing roughly similar trials, albeit flung far apart in terms of geography and the medium in which they’re being instructed. Certainly, GRRM lays too many parallels to be denied: the blurring or outright suppression of identities, the simultaneous suppression of and primal re-engagement with their Stark origins, the figure of the mysterious, potentially (or unquestionably, in Littlefinger’s case) sinister mentor, the aura of temporary seclusion from the major movements of the plot (although that’s breaking down in the “Mercy” and recent Sansa chapters), and above all, the intense, ego-redirecting training in an art that speaks to the very core of each Stark’s dreams and fears and experiences. These apprenticeships are so concentrated in their import and impact that GRRM has been notably sparing in checking in on them: among the 116 chapters of the Feast/Dance timeline (not counting prologues or the epilogue), there are 5 for Arya and only 3 apiece for Sansa and Bran. (Compare that to the Lannister siblings: 12 each for Cersei and Tyrion, 8 for slacker Jaime.)

I agree with racefortheironthrone that Arya and Sansa are building to a “snap back” where they reject their mentors and seek to return, both spiritually and literally, to Winterfell. (Arya, of course, may have to stop in the Riverlands first to pick up her wolf army.) But when I reread Bran’s chapters, I am more and more convinced that he is not.

I appreciate that, as float-freely-forever​ said, that there’s potentially ableist implications in that argument. Why does Bran have to be stuck while Arya can move about with occasionally credulity-straining fluidity? My answer is that just as Bran has suffered direct harm to his person beyond even what his repeatedly beaten sisters have undergone, he has begun an education that is simply sandblasting his brain at a level they will not experience.

The identity shifts that Arya and Sansa have been through are at least partially metaphorical. Bran’s is horribly literal: his consciousness is merging with a group entity so ancient it makes Winterfell look like a sapling. He is becoming an avatar of collective thought and memory and perception, and that is altering him in ways that are drastic, permanent, and utterly destabilizing not only to his relationship to the rest of the human race, but to the reader. I mean, read this stuff:

The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife. A pale sun rose and set and rose again. Red leaves whispered in the wind. Dark clouds filled the skies and turned to storms.

“Most of him has gone into the tree,” explained the singer Meera called Leaf. “He has lived beyond his mortal span, and yet he lingers. For us, for you, for the realms of men. Only a little strength remains in his flesh. He has a thousand eyes and one, but there is much to watch. One day you will know.

A murder of ravens erupted from the hillside, screaming their sharp cries, black wings beating above a white world. A red sun rose and set and rose again, painting the snows in shades of rose and pink. Under the hill, Jojen brooded, Meera fretted, and Hodor wandered through dark tunnels with a sword in his right hand and a torch in his left. Or was it Bran wandering?

No one must ever know.

In the beginning he had tried to count the days by making note of when he woke and slept, but down here sleeping and waking had a way of melting into one another. Dreams became lessons, lessons became dreams, things happened all at once or not at all. Had he done that or only dreamed it?

“Maesters will tell you that the weirwoods are sacred to the old
gods. The singers believe they are the old gods. When singers die they become part of that godhood.”

Bran’s eyes widened. “They’re going to kill me?”

“No,” Meera said. “Jojen, you’re scaring him.”

“He is not the one who needs to be afraid.”

Seated on his throne of roots in the great cavern, half-corpse and half-tree, Lord Brynden seemed less a man than some ghastly statue made of twisted wood, old bone, and rotted wool. The only thing that looked alive in the pale ruin that was his face was his one red eye, burning like the last coal in a dead fire, surrounded by twisted roots and tatters of leathery white skin hanging off a yellowed skull.

The sight of him still frightened Bran—the weirwood roots snaking in and out of his withered flesh, the mushrooms sprouting from his cheeks, the white wooden worm that grew from the socket where one eye had been. He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.

One day I will be like him.

It’s worth noting that GRRM invokes this hallucinatory, imagery-driven, gorgeous and terrifying many-souled history-soaked voice (no, voices) in one other location within A Dance with Dragons:

In the godswood the snow was still dissolving as it touched the earth. Steam rose off the hot pools, fragrant with the smell of moss and mud and decay. A warm fog hung in the air, turning the trees into sentinels, tall soldiers shrouded in cloaks of gloom. During daylight hours, the steamy wood was often full of northmen come to pray to the old gods, but at this hour Theon Greyjoy found he had it all to himself.

And in the heart of the wood the weirwood waited with its knowing red eyes. Theon stopped by the edge of the pool and bowed his head before its carved red face. Even here he could hear the drumming, boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM. Like distant thunder, the sound
seemed to come from everywhere at once.

The night was windless, the snow drifting straight down out of a cold black sky, yet the leaves of the heart tree were rustling his name. “Theon,” they seemed to whisper, “Theon.”

The old gods, he thought. They know me. They know my name. I was Theon of House Greyjoy. I was a ward of Eddard Stark, a friend and brother to his children. “Please.” He fell to his knees. “A sword, that’s all I ask. Let me die as Theon, not as Reek.” Tears trickled down his cheeks, impossibly warm. “I was ironborn. A son … a son of Pyke, of the islands.”

A leaf drifted down from above, brushed his brow, and landed in the pool. It floated on the water, red, five-fingered, like a bloody hand. “… Bran,” the tree murmured.

They know. The gods know. They saw what I did. And for one strange moment it seemed as if it were Bran’s face carved into the pale trunk of the weirwood, staring down at him with eyes red and wise and sad.

And his next chapter is called Theon, free of the burden of titles that has followed him his whole life, and maybe one day free of Reek as well. Bran is now powerful enough to intercede in the naming of chapters, a metaphysical healer whose consciousness is rapidly bleeding into the rest of the story: 

She took a breath to quiet the howling in her heart, trying to remember more of what she’d dreamt, but most of it had gone already. There had been blood in it, though, and a full moon overhead, and a tree that watched her as she ran.

The same phenomenon occurred with Bloodraven, long before he was introduced within the ASOIAF timeline: 

“When we left King’s Landing we were men of Winterfell and men of Darry and men of Blackhaven, Mallery men and Wylde men. We were knights and squires and men-at-arms, lords and commoners, bound together only by our purpose.” The voice came from the man seated amongst the weirwood roots halfway up the wall. “Six score of us set out to bring the king’s justice to your brother.” The speaker was descending the tangle of steps toward the floor. “Six score brave men and true, led by a fool in a starry cloak.” A scarecrow of a man, he wore a ragged black cloak speckled with stars and an iron breastplate dinted by a hundred battles. A thicket of red-gold hair hid most of his face, save for a bald spot above his left ear where his head had been smashed in. “More than eighty of our company are dead now, but others have taken up the swords that fell from their hands.” When he reached the floor, the outlaws moved aside to let him pass. One of his eyes was gone, Arya saw, the flesh about the socket scarred and puckered, and he had a dark black ring all around his neck.

He wore the sable cloak he took from Blacktyde, his red leather eye patch, and nothing else. “When I was a boy, I dreamt that I could fly,” he announced. “When I woke, I couldn’t … or so the maester said. But what if he lied?”

And that’s without even going into Mormont’s raven…

Say what you will about Littlefinger or even the Faceless Men, but they are squabbling insects next to this. Not that they’re any less interesting, or even less important in terms of the people they impact, but that they have objectively less power over the basic consciousness of the Stark in their control. In other words, Littlefinger may be capable of creating “Alayne,” and the Faceless Men have certainly redirected Arya’s repression and depression and sorrow and rage to some fascinating places, but what Bloodraven and the Children of the Forest are doing to Bran is rendering something more and other than human.

Which is utterly horrific, regardless of how pure their motives may be. That leads me to, in my mind, one of the most misunderstood moments in the story:

“You will never walk again, Bran,” the pale lips promised, “but you will fly.”

Bloodraven is not just offering flight as a compensation for Bran’s fall. He is proposing a metaphysical swap: an abandonment of the mortal world, of family and home, of love and lordship and Winterfell, for a place among the Old Gods…to be a thousand eyes, and one. And Bran’s companions know it; Jojen is resigned, not only to his own death but Bran’s, figuratively speaking. Meera is horrified for both, but also by Bran. And Hodor…

What Bran does to Hodor doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person, but it does make me very much doubt that GRRM is intending for the greenseer that was Bran Stark to return home. The psychic assaults are a gruesome parody of the lord/commoner relationship; Bran doesn’t have to order Hodor around if he can just take him. To me, that says that Bran has moved irrevocably beyond the bounds of the prince of Winterfell. Indeed, that’s the basic tension in his storyline in A Clash of Kings, between winged wolf and Stark-in-Winterfell. But if there’s one passage that keeps me in the forever-in-the-cave camp, it’s this one from Bran’s otherwise uneventful first chapter in A Storm of Swords

If they stayed here, hidden down beneath Tumbledown Tower, no one would find them. He would stay alive. And crippled.

Bran realized he was crying. Stupid baby, he thought to himself. No matter where he went, to Karhold or White Harbor or Greywater Watch, he’d be a cripple when he got there. He balled his hands into fists. “I want to fly,” he told them. “Please. Take me to the crow.” 

I felt the first time I read this that it was the moment Bran decided (not just knew, but decided) to never return home. And one of the more horrific side effects of his marination in the WeirNet, I predict, will be his increasing inability to distinguish between his visions and reality, past and present, his dead father and his living friends. So much so that by the time Jojen dies, I fear Bran may not be able to truly grieve, or even fully understand.

Remember, this is the same choice Bloodraven made, to give up his humanity, to abandon what defined him: the war driven by “a brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired.” Brynden Rivers didn’t get to leave the cave to fight Maelys, just as he didn’t get to abandon his watch to fight Daemon III. (There’s another parallel, between the greenseers and the Night’s Watch: not for nothing does GRRM keep the crow symbolism in common.) A Blackfyre may well be about to take the Iron Throne, but after spending his Handship ignoring all problems other than Bittersteel, Bloodraven’s attention is finally where it needs to be.

As such, I want to say that I don’t consider this an entirely grim future for Bran’s storyline. That third Dance chapter (second only in the series to Dany’s final chapter in the same book) is euphoric as well as disorienting; Bran is able to see his father again, if only in the past, something that Arya and Sansa and Rickon will never, ever have. He has utterly transcended the world of cold and pain and hunger that gripped him for two books. Above all, Bran is saturated with an elemental understanding that escapes every other character: a sense of deep time, of staggeringly incremental change, of the true tectonic gears of the world. It’s oddly calming as well as existentially horrifying; there’s a presence there that regards Jon and Dany and Euron and all the rest as wayward children, there to give the levers of space and time a little nudge before winking out. Meanwhile, Bran will dance among the stars, fighting the real fight; he will no longer be the prince of Winterfell, but its god. If it makes me uncomfortable, it’s because his chapters (once as intimate as a Terrence Malick voiceover) will become increasingly alien, increasingly ecstatic, like the expression on Willem Dafoe’s face in the final moments of The Last Temptation of Christ: no going back.

I give [future Hedwigs] a lot of advice, because I work with them all. But the biggest thing that I remind them is that the character is there by accident because of tragedy, and to keep the undercurrent of emotion throughout, because there’s a lot of jokes, there’s a lot of songs, there’s a lot of surface fun. Sugar, so to speak. But to keep the throughline of someone who’s been damaged, and triumphs in the end. Finds themselves. It really is a coming of age story, strangely. And that’s why we’re so excited that so many people can relate to it, and can play Hedwig. You know, everybody’s Hedwig now.
—  John Cameron Mitchell (x)
99% of music for film and TV is authentically, earnestly, emotionally written without that ironic sense — which means that we feel people’s pain. We don’t minimize it. We try and, in a way, guide the audience, sometimes sort of holding their hand through things. We can be a throughline through complicated plot sequences. We can be an emotional companion really….I hope what we do is to be there alongside the audience, feeling and expressing at the same time with them. Then somehow, on a really good day, an audience member watching the show can be experiencing their own emotional journey and they’ve got someone musically doing that at the same time. When it works really well, I think there’s a sort of a connection between the two and you always feel your emotions are validated by the music.
— 

Sherlock composer Michael Price, from his interview with mid0nz.

This, this, is why the music for s3 was the most satisfying thing about it. Because it felt consistent, unironic, true and trustworthy, and shored up the emotional expectations that weren’t always supported by the writing. Bravo, Mr. Price.

3

Sloane Leong is a Portland-based artist working in illustration, comics, and the occasional Twine game.

You pull from all kinds of influences for your pieces, in terms of culture, medium, time period; you’ve been on film podcasts, written criticism…so what’s your media diet like? Is there a throughline that links all this stuff together?

Mostly I’m just going with the flow or reading/watching things my friends recommend me. Sometimes I get focused on a specific genre or creative movement and I’ll stay with that for awhile. Right now I’m watching a lot of films from Chad and other North African countries simply because I know little about them. Theres so many voices out there so I try and focus on the ones not easily heard, voices like mine from small communities or disappearing cultures.

You wrote a piece on Tumblr that explained how crucial social media is to your work: this clearly fed into the one-tweet-at-a-time “Winterkill” comic. Is there a social platform you’ve found most useful?

Mostly twitter and tumblr. Besides the last couple years I’ve always lived in places where there was little to no creative community so I’ve always used the internet to access art and books and games and people to fill that creative gap.

You did a Twine game and a comic that seem to be two views on the same story. How did you come upon that idea and did it change the way you wrote it?

The first thing I came up with was having a sentient living creature, almost the size of a small planet or moon, with its own interior ecology. The twine game is set several thousands of years before the comic when the giant creature was still a primitive being, more of just a motherly hive housing its young. The comic is set in the far future where the aged creature has been colonized and given a task which it seems to enjoy, keeping criminals in a parasitic coma until their sentences are up. The stories all branched off this initial idea so they didn’t really affect each other when I wrote them.

Tell me about the squishy grossness of “Clutch” and “The Labyrinth’s Lament.” Where did that come from?

I’m both disgusted and amazed by the Self and the body, in both the literal and abstract sense. Being trapped by things out of your control is terrifying but also magnificent in what the constraint of a body allows you to experience. Its all about disgusting slimy cages and entrancing wonderful sensations.

How do games influence your work?

I’ve always enjoyed videogames as a distraction but they never solidly influenced me until I started playing games by Porpentine and found myself profoundly moved by both her writing style and how deeply personal they were. I’ll take a Porpy twine game over a billion dollar hyper real CGI videogame any day.

//

You can find Sloane’s work at her site and her Tumblr.

So I rewatched Desperate Souls

…for the first time in well over a year. (ALL my summer shows are over and I have nothing else to do. :-() 

First…geez it’s painful to see this show back when it was good, when the twists were twisty and Emma was Emma-y and the Storybrooke citizens actually appeared. 

Second, OMG tiny wee babies Jared and Dylan! And you know, while the boys look nothing alike now that they’re teens, there was a definite resemblance between the tiny wee babies.

Third…foreshadowing galore! After three seasons of watching Kitsowitz wing it, it’s somewhat shocking to realize that there was a time when they actually had a narrative throughline…and Dark Swan was it.

And fourth and most important…I was watching, of course, with special attention to how EVOL peasant Rumple takes on the curse and how it affects him. Turns out I’d forgotten one significant line:

Rumpelstiltskin: To keep a man like the Dark One as a slave? No, I… I-I can’t. I’d be terrified.

Fast forward to the climax. Rumple just literally walked through fire to steal the dagger to save his son. It’s nearly dawn and he has almost no time to save Bae. He calls on Zoso and…nothing. No answer.

Until he turns around and–boo! Spooked by the Dark One. And from this moment, even though Rumple has the dagger in hand, and technically has the power, Zoso taunts and intimidates Rumple.

And…holy fucking shit, you guys. He sounds EXACTLY like Milah. His words drip contempt. He plays on Rumple’s anxieties. He practically spits venom, just as she does. And he directly invokes her by bringing up Bae’s parentage.

Zoso: …Wield the power wisely. You can wield at any time now. It’s almost dawn. That means it’s your son’s birthday. I bet Hordor and his men are already on their way to your house.

Rumpelstiltskin: No, they can’t take him.

Zoso: You don’t control them – you control me. Have you ever wondered – was he really your child at all? Unlike you, he’s not a coward and yearns to fight and die in glory.

Rumpelstiltskin: No…

Zoso: What a poor bargain that would be – to lay down your soul to save your bastard son. So, I ask you – what would you have me do?

To which Rumple responds: “Die.” 

Killing Zoso wasn’t about gaining power at all. Rumple already  had the power with the dagger. It was about being thrust back to Milah’s (and possibly even Malcolm’s) emotional abuse. It wasn’t that Rumple couldn’t just tell Zoso what to do–it was that he couldn’t deal, AGAIN, and constantly with someone who constantly reviles him. He was afraid–not of Zoso’s magical power, but of Zoso’s viciousness.

Once again, Rumple made a terrible decision (just like his other two terrible decisions, letting Bae fall through the portal and sending Belle away at the end of Skin Deep) because of sheer blind panic.

I think I know what it is about Rocket that makes him such a captivating character, and that’s the emotional throughline that you follow when you go on a journey with him. You know? At first, he’s a gun-toting raccoon who spits and scratches himself, and it’s funny, you know? And it’s, like, kind of wild, and crazy. He’s this brash little raccoon, and, you know? But then you have a moment where you realize how vulnerable he is when you see he’s cybernetically enhanced, he’s, like, the result of genetic engineering and testing. He’s just… a little creature, and people call him ‘rodent’, and people call him 'rat’, and people call him 'raccoon’, and he doesn’t even know what those things are. All he knows is that he’s different, and he’s lonely. You know? He’s on his own. There’s no one - there’s nothing in the world like him, you know? And that’s a really sad place to come from.
—  Chris Pratt (x)
PETROCHEMICAL AMERICA: PROJECT ROOM

RICHARD MISRACH AND KATE ORFF

The Pomona College Museum of Art presents the traveling exhibition Petrochemical America on view from September 2 to December 19, 2014. Organized by Aperture Foundation, Petrochemical America represents a unique collaboration between photographer Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff. The exhibition brings into focus the industrialized landscape of the Mississippi River Corridor that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans—a place that first garnered attention as “Cancer Alley” because of unusually high reports of cancer and other diseases in the area. The exhibition reveals traces of their collaborative process and features Misrach’s haunting photographs of the region and Orff’s Ecological Atlas, a series of visual narratives, or “throughlines.”

The dialogue between photograph and drawing begins to unpack complex economic and ecological forces that have shaped this landscape, mapping cycles of extraction and transformation from the scale of the neighborhood, to the region, to the globe. Ultimately, this joint enterprise offers an expansion of both disciplines and a richly researched and concretely visualized study of the petrochemical industry and American culture, which has become intricately intertwined with its output.

Born in Los Angeles, Richard Misrach has been widely exhibited and collected by major institutions worldwide. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his photography, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Richard Misrach has a longstanding association with the American south. His previous monograph, Destroy This Memory, offered a record of hurricane-inspired graffiti left on houses and cars in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. On the Beach and Violent Legacies addressed contamination of desert and beach areas.

Kate Orff is an associate professor at Columbia University and founder of SCAPE, a landscape architecture studio in Manhattan. Her work weaves together sustainable development, design for biodiversity, and community-based change. Orff’s recent exhibition at MoMA, Oyster-tecture, imagined the future of the polluted Gowanus Canal as part of a ground-up community process and an ecologically revitalized New York harbor.

A publication of Petrochemical America, with photographs by Richard Misrach and Ecological Atlas by Kate Orff, was released by Aperture in September 2012.

© Richard Misrach

Nas Talks Writing Raps for Netflix Hip-Hop Drama ‘The Get Down’


In the first episode, the series’ protagonist Ezekiel “Books” Figuero is portrayed as a gifted teen poet and a formidable park rapper played by Justice Smith, and a grown Nineties hip-hop icon portrayed by Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs. Nas wrote the lyrics for his introspective poems, battle raps and nostalgic reminisces, providing a throughline for an episode already loaded with super disco breaks and claustrophobic krautrock.


Rolling Stone: So you wrote every rap on this show that comes out of Ezekiel’s mouth. How did you get into the headspace of this character?

Nas: I put myself in a position … I said to myself, “If it was you, if Ezekiel was you, you’d be telling your story. I made myself Ezekiel. I said, "Yo, Nas, what’s your story growing up in hip-hop? How do you feel by making it to become a voice in the Nineties, because you remember all the hard times, you remember Mayor Dinkins being elected, you remember New York City when the streets were flooded with crack, and crime was everywhere.” So I am Ezekiel. Ezekiel is older than me, but I am that.

Fiction writers are often told by agents, editors, and even fellow writers that contemporary readers are not interested in short story collections, and that if one intends to write stories and assemble them into a book, they must be linked and resemble a novel. What is lost in this stampede towards the novel-in-stories is breadth. The great short story writers demonstrate range—exploring themes through an array of characters from a multitude of backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, and education levels without having to grasp the handrails of a unifying narrative throughline.
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Youtuber Michael Lichand has created this wonderful and thorough analysis of the narrative throughline of the Mario Party Party series. He even makes some predictions for the future. Give it a watch!

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The Biggest Games Are Defined by the Smallest Moments
Chances are that I'm not going to see the end of your epic story, so it’s the little moments that keep me playing.

Meanwhile, I can remember a few of the side quests from Inquisition, but I can’t remember why I completed them. At one point, I was fighting bad mages or looking for missing people or something, but I forget why those things mattered to me beyond the rewards taht these side-quests offered. Quests and goals were often spread too far apart in the game, so by the time that I found what I was looking for, I’d lost the emotional throughline and no longer cared about the quest’s conclusion. The pacing of the short story had been stretched so thin that it broke.

On structuring sidequests and their emotional impact.

Episode Review: "It's time to kill your rabbit." [S02E09]

Can we stop massively fangirl flailing for a minute and talk about this episode? What did we think about it?

Y: No, we can’t. Can you get back to me on January 3rd? I think at that point I may, just may, be stop giggling and smiling like an idiot long enough to put into actual words how good this episode was.

L: Still flailing over here too. THIS EPISODE WAS SO GOOD. Everything I love this show for. Twists, turns, moments that kick you in the gut, and moments that squeeze your heart like a sponge. I’ve had a grin plastered across my face since 8pm Wednesday. I suspect it will be there until January 4th.

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Manuskript looks promising
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Manuskript is a new open source writing platform currently under heavy development. But the screenshots look promising, offering a Scrivener-like look and what gets me excited: a storyline graph tool, for tracking throughlines.

If interested, take a look here – http://www.theologeek.ch/manuskript/

Note – I haven’t tried the downloads, as the product currently needs a lot of support code, but my…

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