drgonprince

GUEST ROOM | Cel Shading, Framerates and The Dragon Prince

You may have first seen Cel Shading in 2013 with the premiere of RWBY, an “American Anime” aimed at both American and Japanese anime fans. Characters are 3D models, like a lot of modern animation, but they look a little different from their Disney-Pixar cousins. In stills, they could fool you into thinking they’re two-dimensional drawings or frames from some traditionally-drawn anime. The character’s skin looks flat and their eyes are large and cartoony. Cel Shading is a technique long used by video games, from the classic Katamari Damacy to the more recent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but in recent years, animation studios have used it to bring the anime style into the modern era.

Simon (Nick Robinson) and Abby (Alexandra Dripp) in Love, Simon.

YANG | Creating the New Normal

I’m not the type of person who watches one movie after another on long-haul flights, and usually spend the better part of the sixteen hours sleeping. The trip back from Hong Kong before the beginning of this semester ended up being one rare exception, however, because there was a crying baby in the seat next to me. I had no choice but to cycle through all the MCU movies they had (thank God), and afterwards, set my eye on a movie I had deliberately avoided seeing in the spring — Love, Simon. Despite putting the movie’s soundtrack on repeat the moment it came out, and despite promising every one of my friends who went to opening weekend and raved about it afterwards that I would go see it, I never did after watching the trailer. You would think that as someone who loves rom-coms and never shuts up about representation, the premise itself is enough to make me want to go.

SWAN | Karaoke Dreamin’

Philip Roth’s American Pastoral is a favorite novel of mine. For one, Philip Roth, like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, was from New Jersey, and he manages to artistically encapsulate the working-class, Newarkian fervor that seems to extend down to and characterize so much of our state – north, south and central. American Pastoral is about European immigrants and their successive American generations, calling to mind my not-so-distant ancestors who ventured to New York and New Jersey from places like Italy and Scotland. They, like the Levovs, were in pursuit of something like the American pastoral, that Waspy utopia of spacious, suburban homes and Ivy League educations. Of course, as the novel contends, it is easy to shoot for the dream, miss and be cast away to the American berserk.

Courtesy of Netflix

YANDAVA | An Ode to the Teen Movie

I watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before last week — twice, actually, because as much as I like to scorn cliché and make fun of it, I really am a hopeless sap when it comes down to it, and also because it was so damn cute and sweet and wholesome. Much of this sweetness and wholesomeness results from the fact that the film makes copious use of the tropes we’re familiar with in high school rom-coms. Even the characters are in on this; the film’s protagonist, Lara Jean Covey, is obsessed with romance novels, and her shock is apparent when she finds out her fake boyfriend Peter Kavinsky has never heard of Sixteen Candles. Similarly, much of the film’s fashion takes inspiration from the ‘90s, what with its plaid skirts and slip dresses, combat boots, chokers and leather jackets. However, the movie manages to be referential in such an earnest, wholehearted and honest way that it’s hard not to like it. Good, old-fashioned sorts of teen movies like this seemed to have been waning in popularity for the better part of this past decade.

Courtesy of Capitol Records

TEST SPIN | Paul McCartney – Egypt Station

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most greatest musicians of all time. From his Beatles years to his successful Wings albums and James Bond theme songs, his music choices have almost always been varied and bold. In recent years, however, McCartney’s albums have not carried the same interest and uniqueness as some of his earlier solo work, and not even close to that of his Beatles hits. His new album, Egypt Station, released earlier this month, is filled with delightful songs, many of which flow with a sense of familiarity as keen listeners can hear similarities that fall somewhere between Beatles’ hits and McCartney’s early solo discography. On Egypt Station, when the standout songs work, it is amazing — McCartney highlights his skills as both a descriptive lyricist who allows audiences an intimate look into his life, and as a one of a kind musician able to blend genres and instruments with ease.

Courtesy of Myles Cameron

Myles Cameron Is Bringing His Melting Pot of Music to The Haunt

The Cayuga Sound Friday After Party, co-sponsored by Ithaca Underground, promises to be a thrilling night at The Haunt tomorrow, September 21st, with a lineup including Elucid, Space Clubs, Lazy Bones and Myles Cameron. At just 21 years, the final artist on that list is already making waves. His most popular song, “Caged Bird,” has nearly 600,000 plays on Spotify. With a self-described genre of a melting pot, drawing from pop, R&B, hip hop, and indie-electronic, his beats are calm and his lyrics rhythmic. Looking at this trending song, one can easily see the poetic tendencies in his writing.

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Cayuga Sound Grows to Two Days of Music in Stewart Park

The first annual installment of Cayuga Sound saw both X Ambassadors and The Roots headline. But while this past year has certainly been a busy one for X Ambassadors — as the band has been hard at work on their second major record which Sam Harris, X Ambassadors frontman, described to me as constantly in flux but “expected to be completed sometime in 2019” — they have grown their festival to include a second night of action in Stewart Park. This year’s ticket includes acts such as Young the Giant, who rose to stardom through singles like “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” Talib Kweli, Towkio and dance duo Matt and Kim. Harris described the process in curating this year’s festival in a recent interview with The Sun:

“Honestly, we really just kind of reached out to [this year’s] artists blindly. We didn’t really have any prior relationship with any of them.

X Ambassadors performs at the inaugural Cayuga Sound festival at Stewart Park, September 23rd, 2017.)

Music, Ithaca, Activism: A Conversation with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors

If there’s anything we learned from last year’s Cayuga Sound Festival, it’s that X Ambassadors are more than just a band. They are expert showmen, skilled curators and philanthropists:  home-town-heroes in every sense. Cayuga Sound began last year as X Ambassadors’ homage to their roots and is hosted in Stewart Park — a place Sam Harris, the frontman of X Ambassadors, says holds tremendous sentimental value. “I was a camp counselor at Stewart Park Day Camp … it was a place where I would go to play soccer as a kid,” he described. He continued on to discuss how he “has a very deep emotional connection with the park” and how “it is insane to be able to put a festival on there.”

Harris notes that as a kid he “just wanted to get out” of Ithaca.

Courtesy of Kitchen Theatre Company

Kitchen Theatre Company’s Girlfriend Is Thin on Plot But High on Feeling

Based on Matthew Sweet’s 1991 alternative-rock album of the same name, Kitchen Theatre’s first production of the 2018-19 season, Girlfriend, has everything you’d expect from a classic summer rom-com — the meet cute, the mutual pining, the awkward yet exhilarating first date, the inevitable challenges and their resolution. What makes Girlfriend different from the start, however, is that instead of boy-meets-girl, it’s boy-meets-boy, in a small, conservative, midwestern town. It’s the summer of 1993 in Alliance, Nebraska, and Will (Jonathan Melo) is still celebrating graduating high school and his new-found freedom when he receives a mixtape out of the blue from a classmate, Mike (Woody White). Unlike Will, a musical theater nerd constantly bullied at school for his sexuality, Mike is the golden boy of the football team with a (rather absent) girlfriend and a full ride to college, and it had seemed unlikely for their paths to ever cross. What they share, however, is a passion for music.

Rami Malek as the protagonist of Mr. Robot, Elliot Alderson.

GUEST ROOM | Why We Need to Watch Mr. Robot

The recent news that Mr. Robot’s fourth season will be its last signals the end of a show that redefines what it means to be revolutionary. The techno-thriller chronicles the story of cybersecurity engineer Elliot Anderson, a morphine addict who wants to save the world from corrupt corporate powers. The cybersecurity firm that he works for protects the data of conglomerates such as E Corp, a manufacturer of most of the world’s computers and phones and a provider of much of the world’s entertainment. E Corp, led by a power hungry board of directors, also covered up a toxic gas leak that led to some of their workers contracting leukemia — including Elliot’s father. Thus, despite the mission of his workplace, Elliot works to expose some of E Corp’s secure digital records with the hopes of diminishing their grasp over the global market.