COURTESY OF PENGUIN BOOKS

Upward Spiral: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

If I closed my eyes, I could picture vividly the last time I read a book by John Green. I was high school sophomore then, and had the luxury to spend entire afternoons reading non-academic books. The book I picked that day was The Fault in Our Stars, and it made me stay in the same armchair for hours. Fast-forward four years, and there are some things that haven’t changed all that much. The heroine of John Green’s new novel Turtles All the Way Down is much like Hazel Grace as she’s a quirky, nerdy sixteen-year-old girl who embarks on an adventure and encounters friendship and love along the way, all the while battling a chronic illness that stands between her and happiness.

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JONES | Where Eminem, Finally, Draws the Line

A lot of words have already been written about Eminem’s BET cypher last week, in which he attacked the president. There’s been a good deal of praise, some measured and some fawning. Colin Kaepernick tweeted his appreciation of Eminem’s declaration of allegiance with Kaepernick, for the protests that have (arguably) prevented him from signing onto a new football team. There’s a Politico Magazine feature responding to the cypher with an analysis of Macomb County, the area that both Eminem and rapper-turned-Senate candidate Kid Rock hail from. There’s also been criticism, notably a Noisey article by Lawrence Burney that argues that Eminem has received unearned praise simply because people are impressed by a white rapper declaring solidarity with a black athlete.

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Brahman/i: Hindu Gods Meet Standup Comedy

More often than not, when the words “religion” and “gender identity” appear together, conflict ensues. But that’s not what happens in the Kitchen Theatre Company’s production of Brahman/i: A One Hijra Comedy Show. Written by the award winning playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil as the first part of her Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy, Brahman/i takes the form of a standup comedy show performed by the intersex main character “B,” and sheds light on the often overlooked experience of the I in LGBTQIA+. Through personal anecdotes, some hilarious and some deeply moving, B narrates a unique journey of self-discovery as an Indian-American navigating the rocky landscape of growing up as a Hijra, an individual born with traits of both sexes. Through B’s monologues, other characters come to life; An unpredictable but wise aunt, loving parents, annoying cousins and classmates, and the Hindu creator god Brahma, in a way audiences have not seen before.

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TEST SPIN: Wu-Tang Clan — The Saga Continues

If you’re not a huge hip hop oldhead, it’s easy to overlook a lot of new releases from 90s rap groups these days. Most think that their music usually sounds pretty dated, and that many once ferocious MC’s have understandably lost a little bit of steam on the mic. However, people skeptical about the reemergence of 90s hip hop have really been proved wrong over the last year or so, after the impressive 2016 releases of A Tribe Called Quest’s Thank u 4 Your Service and De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody. While Tribe and De La Soul (two New York rap groups who are members of the hip hop collective the Native Tongues) have shown that they can still bring it in 2017, many oldheads have been itching for a similar resurgence from another New York hip hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang’s most recent album release, The Saga Continues, is once again a reminder that not only does Wu-Tang’s saga continue, but so does the vintage 90s hip hop sound that has been so overshadowed in recent years.

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TEST SPIN: dvsn — Morning After

It seems like it was just yesterday when dvsn, the Toronto-based joint project between vocalist Daniel Daley and producer extraordinaire Nineteen85, debuted in 2015. In the brief time since their inception, dvsn has garnered 150 million streams and, arguably, landed the largest gig that any aspiring artist could land. In 2016 dvsn opened up for the Drake and Future on the notorious Summer Sixteen Tour, and with this brought their smooth, 90s R&B to the masses. While although only debuting their music to the public within the past few years, dvsn has been involved in the music business for much of the last decade. In the early years, dvsn leaned heavily toward rap because, as Daley says in a recent Rolling Stone article, it wasn’t really the “coolest thing to say ‘Yo, I sing – have you heard that Boyz II Men record, that new Usher or Ginuwine?’” However, once 85 heard the remarkable voice of Daley, he knew that the talent couldn’t be ignored.

SHERMAN | Animals as Metaphors and a ‘Cruelty-Free’ Guggenheim

If, for the past couple of weeks, you’ve been following either the art world’s murmurings or the Most Popular Petition category on change.org, you would be well aware of the Guggenheim’s recent Animal Rights-related quagmire, a tiff with PETA advocates which resulted, on Sept. 25, in the removal of three pieces from its fall blockbuster exhibition. Whether or not you’ve been keeping close tabs on both, you likely missed the fact that the show in question, Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World, opened to the public this past Friday, Oct. 6. What reviews it has received have been, for the most part, somewhere between tepid and enthusiastically restrained (or else just petty), colored by and large by the Guggenheim’s milquetoast reaction and concession to those accusing it of complicity in animal rights violations. The 70 artist, 140 work-strong exhibition, which was supposed to be a milestone for U.S. reception and awareness of contemporary art from Chinese artists (Holland Cotter, in his review for the New York Times, calls it a show capable of reminding us that the country of 1.4 billion has given the world more than Ai Weiwei), has, it seems, been too profoundly marred by the museum’s willingness to nix some art at a cry of “Wolf!” This cry began in the form of a change.org petition — written by Stephanie Lewis, directed at the Guggenheim’s curators, administrators and corporate sponsors and subsequently backed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — which garnered nearly 800,000 signatures.

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Seeing Today in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches

When Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes premiered in 1991, it won a smattering of awards for its intense exploration of pressing, contemporary topics. A bit more than a quarter century later, the social issues and themes explored in the play are ever-relevant, and as the first show in their 2017-18 season, Ithaca College presents the first part of the play, Millennium Approaches, directed by Robert Moss. Angels in America is set in late 1985 in Manhattan, and follows a large cast—a gay couple, Prior Walter (Will Thames) and Louis Ironson (Josh Wilde); a Mormon couple, Joe (Ryan Ballard) and Harper Pitt (Steph Seiden); and Joe’s mentor Roy Cohn (Keenan Buckley), a lawyer with extremely questionable ethics (based on the real-life Roy Cohn). Their stories and lives overlap and intersect in weird and sometimes fantastical ways as the story moves through experiences of the AIDS crisis, homophobia, racism, and political tension and corruption. As revelations of illness and secrets come about, relationships deteriorate and an overwhelming fear of the future seems to cripple the characters.

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TEST SPIN | Rostam — Half-Light

Don’t act like you weren’t even just a little bit sad when Rostam Batmanglij announced over twitter in 2016 that he was leaving Vampire Weekend.  The New York based indie band who had brought hits like “A-Punk” and “Holiday,” as well as released one of the most compelling coming of age albums of the 21st century, Modern Vampires of the City, had lost their production mastermind, and to us fans who knew how critical his talents were on tracks like “Diane Young,” perhaps they had lost their essence, too. I was devastated, to say the least. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr6glYSzgcG2_GS0spAV9zvJiOSZx9N7F

Lucky for us though, not only has the frontman Ezra Koenig been gracing us with consistent social media updates for a new Vampire Weekend LP — working title Mitsubishi Macchiato — but Rostam Batmanglij is also confirmed to be collaborating with Koenig on parts of the new album. What’s more, Rostam has found enough free time to release an effort of his own: Half-Light, his first solo record.

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Blade Runner 2049 Might Just Be A Masterpiece

It’s not often that a recently released movie can possibly be considered a “masterpiece.” The term carries a lot of weight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCcx85zbxz4

Yet, many have already declared Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner, a masterpiece. 2049 extends Scott’s visionary world, in which near-human robots called “replicants” are second-class citizens, and those who stray from their slave status are hunted down by cops called blade runners (don’t ask why they’re called “blade runners”… it sounds cool). The original film followed a blade runner named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), and this installment continues Deckard’s story but focuses on another blade runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), whose job is to kill outdated, less obedient models of replicants, as he uncovers a puzzle that could alter the division between humans and replicants.

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Rebel in the Rye Epitomizes Holden Caulfield’s Favorite Word

As a fan of Salinger’s works, and someone who generally enjoys biopics about writers and creative people, Rebel in the Rye seemed to be right up my alley, but unfortunately fell flat in many places. I felt that Rebel in the Rye did not reveal or add much to what many fans already know about Salinger’s life.