And to help you celebrate, we come bearing a dope playlist:
And to help you celebrate, we come bearing a dope playlist:
By Justin Hermstedt
2016 ended over two months ago, and just when you thought you were caught up on that year’s music, 2017 comes around and brings a whole new lineup. There are truly no off-days allowed in the pursuit of good music, but we’ll give you a pass just this once. Here are a few albums you may have missed this year already. Now keep your ears to the streets so you don’t miss any more.
Process – Sampha
Sampha built up hype for his debut album through his collaborations with popular artists such as Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange. Big names, one might say. Released early in February, Process is an intimate introduction to Sampha.
The first few songs reveal the pressure and anxiety Sampha experiences: “It’s so hot I’ve been melting out here / I’m made out of plastic out here.” This feeling builds until the fourth track, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” an endearing ballad dedicated to Sampha’s mother, who died in 2015.
The album has a very special way of finding highs and lows from song to song. The quiet songs build a desire in the listener for something danceable, which eventually comes in “Reverse Faults” and “Timmy’s Prayer.”
Process solidifies Sampha as a pop artist with unrivaled soul.
Plural – Electric Guest
Plural is Electric Guest’s sophomore album, arriving five years after the commercially successful Mondo.
As in Mondo, the music in Plural is characterized by tight, dancy percussion and synth. Electric Guest seems to draw influence from, say, Depeche Mode and your common elevator music. Plural leans slightly towards the elevator music side of the spectrum compared to Mondo. Plural is notable for its optimistic tone. Songs like “Dear to Me” and “Sarah” are more smiley than we’ve seen Electric Guest in the past.
Although Plural is generally high-tempo, there’s still a hint of the uneasy brooding of Mondo, like in the opening track, “Zero.” The best new development in this album is a more diverse vocal performance, aside from the band’s signature mellow falsetto. Check out the surprising passion in “Back For Me.”
By Justin Hermstedt
On any given morning in Hashinger Hall, one subtle sound that breaks the silence is the hum of Jack Hatzfeld’s coffee grinder. Hatzfeld starts his morning with a cup of coffee like anyone else, but caffeine addiction does not drive this morning ritual. Hatzfeld is a KU student devoted to the art of coffee.
“Third wave coffee” is the artisan approach to coffee that Hatzfeld practices. Third wave coffee makers seek the highest quality ingredients and get them directly from their origin, whether that is Colombia, Ethiopia or any other coffee hub. Hatzfeld says coffee becomes an art form rather than a mundane daily beverage, when it is produced with the acute attention to detail that sets third wave coffee apart from Starbucks.
“The quality of water, the temperature, the brew time—there’s so many variables that actually go into making coffee and it really takes a lot of skill and knowledge to be able to isolate those,” Hatzfeld said. “That’s kind of what third wave is about.”
Ian Walla is a coffee colleague of Hatzfeld’s. Walla says third wave coffee is like other drinks, such as wine and whiskey, only it is more complex. He says that he and Hatzfeld are drawn to the coffee industry partly because it is constantly evolving.
“As soon as someone knows everything, some crop disease happens in Asia and it totally changes the game on every front. And then you have to relearn everything”, Walla said.
Hatzfeld has done the best he can to support his coffee hobby despite being restricted by the size of a dorm room. Last fall was Hatzfeld’s first semester at KU, and the first time in three years he hasn’t been working as a barista. Hatzfeld is a product photographer for a few coffee companies, which means he is sent samples to photograph, helping his personal coffee supply remain stocked. Although he’s grateful to still be crafting coffee for his own use, Hatzfeld longs to be back behind the counter in a coffee shop so he can share his work with customers.
“Luckily, coffee is a part of my life right now because I am photographing for companies,” Hatzfeld said. “I get that every day. I wish I could give it to other people every day though.”
Hatzfeld began working in coffee when his other art form of choice, photography, led him to it. Hatzfeld worked as a freelance photographer throughout high school. He has worked at several coffee shops around Kansas City, but his first job in coffee was at a coffee shop in Gardner, Kansas called Groundhouse, where he often used to hang his photographs. The manager reached out to Hatzfeld to see if he’d be interested in working there.
“I started picking up some shifts at Groundhouse on the side while I sold my art, and then I started to realize that coffee was kind of an art form in itself,” Hatzfeld said.
Hatzfeld is studying graphic design at KU. He draws inspiration for design from coffee work, and vice versa. Design is prevalent in the coffee industry through media other than the beverage itself. Hatzfeld is fascinated by the incorporation of art in the atmosphere of coffee shops, whether it is through interior design, graphic design, or the packaging of coffee products. Hatzfeld’s dream job is to be a brand manager for a coffee company, allowing his work in design and coffee to intersect.
Hatzfeld says we are in the midst of a boom in third wave coffee. He hears of independent coffee shops popping up all the time around Kansas City as demand grows. His father, David Hatzfeld, says his son is poised to take advantage of this burgeoning industry.
“Jack has realized that as the coffee industry is starting to develop and mature into a craft like microbrews in beer, he’s seeing it as an employment opportunity at levels other than at the retail level,” David Hatzfeld said.
Hatzfeld says most people view coffee as just a drink, but he finds art in it.
Jack Hatzfeld and his father share this artistic mindset, but David Hatzfeld’s interest is in culinary arts. Jack Hatzfeld cites his father as an inspiration in his artistic development in coffee, and fondly recalls extravagant breakfasts that his father used to prepare for their family. David Hatzfeld and Jack Hatzfeld see past the surface level of their respective crafts and obsess over details.
“He looks at coffee at a deeper level, and picks up the nuances”, David Hatzfeld said. “I would talk to my kids and tell them food is an experience, not sustenance. He kind of took that to heart.”
Photography courtesy of Jack Hatzfeld
By Justin Hermstedt
Last spring, Teagan Fitzpatrick founded KU Improv. In its second semester, the group grew and garnered a consistent following at its many performances.
John Pace, a freshman from Olathe, joined KU Improv last fall. He’s been doing improv for a few years.
“It’s pretty much ‘acting without a script,’ to put it in three words… or four words. I can count; I swear,” Pace said.
Although the club is young, it pulls around 10 to 20 people at the average show. Those are solid numbers for a comedy startup, whose existence might not be known of by the majority of students.
Style on the Hill went to check out their last show of the fall semester, and KU improv brought the comedic heat.
This semester, be sure to support the good people at KU improv. It’ll be a merry (and free) time, especially if you like memes and/or muppet impressions.
By Justin Hermstedt
2016 was a standout year for music. New Kanye, Beyoncé, and Frank Ocean barely scratch the surface. What were your favorite albums of 2016? Here are some personal favorites from the staff at Style on the Hill.
A Seat at the Table – Solange
This album is soulful and spiritual and imaginative. Solange is too often overshadowed by her sister, and this album showcases her incredible musical talents. Her music is powerful.
Starboy – The Weeknd
A pretty sexy album. It’s r&b and electronic without being too overbearing. The album seems to flow better when I listen to it as a whole.
Holy Ghost – Modern Baseball
I came for the witty, angsty expressions of social hijinks/struggles which highlighted Modern Baseball’s first albums, but I stayed for the honest, introspective stories of surviving in the face of loss and mental illness. This album kicks ass.
Disappear Here – Bad Suns
Bad Suns had an awesome EP a couple of years ago and followed up this year with a dope album; Disappear Here is the perfect amount of peppy and artistic.
Call Him a Doctor – GFOTY
GFOTY (Girlfriend Of The Year) created the EPOTY with Call Him a Doctor. Rarely does an artist’s magnum opus manifest as an EP, but with Call Him a Doctor GFOTY infuses her signature wit/bombast with an unexpectedly refined pop-punk and PCMusic electronica.
The Ride – Catfish and the Bottlemen
Their first album was absolutely killer and this followed it perfectly. I honestly just don’t have any words for how great this band is.
Awaken, My Love! – Childish Gambino
This album is so different from anything Childish Gambino has done in the past, and a lot of people don’t like it for that reason. I thought it was spectacular. I think his voice was made for this kind of music.
Blackstar – David Bowie
David Bowie hadn’t died in 2016, Blackstar would still be a top ten album of the year. But nothing exists in a vacuum, so the compelling narrative behind Bowie’s last LP secures an already enchanting album its place as my second favorite album of 2016.
How to Be a Human Being – Glass Animals
Each track on How to Be a Human Being tells the story of a real person who Glass Animals have encountered in their travels. The unique narratives of these colorful characters coalesce into a uniform anthology, just like how the diverse and whimsical sounds form an awesome, melting pot of an album.
Centerfold – MOTHXR
MOTHXR explored the decadent basin of New Romantic dystopia’s pits and excavated a dark, amethyst gem with Centerfold.
By Darby VanHoutan
I won’t deny how spooky this weekend was. Am I referring to arguably the world’s best holiday (Halloween) or my grades? The world may never know. However, the world will know WTF happened this week!
New Month – New Netflix
November 1 marked many things. It’s the end of the most beloved spooky season, the first appropriate day to blast “All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey and, most importantly, a new season for Netflix!
The company stayed true to CFO David Wells’ promise and has 50 percent original content. One of these Netflix-produced series is a truly badass one called The Crown that serves as a biography following Queen Elizabeth II (The current Queen of England who is a true goddess divine). It consists of 10 episodes each an hour long and will hopefully have many more seasons following this one released today.
Along with the long awaited The Crown are comedy sketches from Dana Carvey, Colin Quinn and more. There are also movies such as Cujo, Just Friends, Boyhood and others. Oh! Let’s not forget the holy grail: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Can you even? I can’t. Of course there are movies leaving Netflix as well. Movies like Almost Famous, E.T and others will be exiting our (or the ones we stole from our friends) Netflix cues this November.
Clinton’s Genius Ad
62 years ago a woman named Monique Corzilius Luiz, who was three years old at the time, stared in the most controversial political ad of her time. It was during the 1964 presidential election that Democratic candidate Lyndon Johnson premiered the TV ad dubbed “The Daisy Ad”. The ad showed a young girl, played by Luiz, picking petals off a flower before a countdown in the background leads to the explosion of an atomic bomb. It ended with the announcer saying “Vote for President Johnson. The stakes are too high for you to stay home”. The advertisement was tactical and effective before being pulled from television.
Current Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton brought not only the ad but the now 65-year-old star of the spot, Monique Corzilius Luiz.
WTF Your Favorite Celebs Were For Halloween
I wish the entire human race dressed as they did for Halloween much, much, much more often. I especially admire the famous goons on goblins that come out around October 31. I could get lost in pictures of celebrity costumes throughout the years that just whole heartedly ~slay~ me. Here’s a few of my favorites from 2016, with pictures all courtesy of Instagram:
1. Beyonce & Jay-Z & Blue Ivy as “Black Barbie” and “Black Ken”
2. Kourtney Kardashian and Family as Power Rangers
3. Ariana Grande & Mac Miller as both an adorable and psycho Eevee and Pikachu
4. Lena Dunham as a “Grabbed Pussy”
5. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s daughter as a hot dog
By Sydnie Germany
It is finally October 31 and that brings us lots of candy, pumpkin patches and lattes, and of course the amazing tradition of Halloween! There is definitely no better way to celebrate Halloween than with spooky horror movies and a big bucket of popcorn (or candy corn, depending on your personal cravings).
Ranging from your typical horror movie to straight up creepy, here is a list of eight scary movies to watch on Netflix to satisfy all your Halloween scare-fest needs. Enjoy!
3. 13 Cameras
7. The Babadook
By Jaden Nussbaum
Retrieved from: diymag.com/2016/01/23/kanye-west-drake-collab-in-the-studio-larry-graham
In case you haven’t heard by now, Kanye West disclosed some inside details regarding his current schemes and come ups in an interview with Vogue magazine back in early September. You can Keep Up With Kanye and read the entire article here, even though I can save you some time and tell you the one truly important piece of information bestowed upon us by our beloved Yeezy: a Kanye/Drake collaboration is in the works. This is not a drill; not enough people are talking about this.
We aren’t talking about some B-list collab. This is Drake, Drizzy, 6 God, AUBREY GRAHAM combined with Yeezus himself. What we did to deserve these blessings is beyond what my lowly feeble brain can understand, but I’ll accept them with no dissent.
The thought of this album really, for some reason, excites the hell out of me. The two most (opinion warning) culturally impactful hip hop artists of the decade are grinding away to grace our humble, undeserving souls with an album that will change the face of America.
Okay, it’s probably not that serious – but it is a really big deal. I know I’m not alone in saying this and I really feel like an entire generation is hinging on the release of this album. We’re hungry. The anticipation makes us all tense; can you feel it? You didn’t know it was there until I pointed it out, but you feel it. We’re all the same.
My point: modern hip-hop has taken the genre and transformed it into a social and cultural empire. Meaning we are putty in their hands. We live our lives in accordance to them, oftentimes unconsciously. These impacts may be positive or negative, but even the fact that they exist confirms the pop rapper’s reign.
Think about it. Rap and hip-hop artists were once treated like thugs and degenerates. They are now treated like royalty – and they didn’t get that treatment on accident. Some of the industry’s biggest stars made some moves, did some low-key “gangsta shit”, and purposely propelled the hip-hop namesake into relevance that can almost be equated to mass worship.
So whether you’re bouncing between music streaming services in an effort to culture yourself with the newest album or mixtape, buying merchandise, or even checking a Kardashian snap story, you are contributing to the ascension to godhood experienced by these artists and their associates.
When did this happen? When did I start separating contrasting portions of my life by album releases? Does anybody remember the exact moment we all fell under the complete control of a handful of pop-rappers? They have us hooked; why else would we obsess over their families, significant others, and personal lives?
I used to always feel indifferent about rappers and the music they produced. Some of it was good, but most of it was repetitive and cliché. None of it gave me that euphoric tingle I sought and expected out of the music I listened to.
While I’ve always been a fan of Drake, I had never considered myself a true hip-hop enthusiast. My taste in music has always aligned with songs and artists that have a ritualistic effect on culture, AKA I’m a basic b!tch. I listen to what is popular. So, as a self-described basic, I can tell you society was totally and completely devoured by the world of hip-hop the day Kanye West released The Life of Pablo.
Hip-hop has always been huge, don’t get me wrong but something changed in the air that day. TLOP struck a chord with the world. It did this by being different, by feeding our collective a need to feel chic, manic, and a little spiritual. Rap and hip-hop are restricted to themes of parties and drugs no longer, and making hip-hop music that can get you in your feels has ceased to be a Drake-specific anomaly. Sorry, Drizzy.
Funky beats and ethereal choruses are cool now, and this trend has no end in sight. Chance the Rapper took advantage of our newfound curated taste for a more spiritual rap experience and slapped us in the face with Coloring Book. Along with that, Drake kept us dancing with Views. Will we ever get a break?
We are now cogs in a machine. Are you okay with it? I think I am. As long as these artists continue shelling out content that makes me want to chug a pot of coffee and get my life together: I’m obsessed. I am the property of the rap industry, and I know you feel the same. Let’s stomp on our dignities, cast away our doubts, and together we will blindly allow hip-hop to drag us into the future.
By Maria Rodriguez
Do you enjoy art, fashion and music? Well, look no further than Kansas City. First Fridays are full of pop culture and entertainment. And now, thanks to the University of Kansas, students are able to attend this amazing monthly event without wasting any gas money. Every First Friday (weather permitting), a bus takes students from Lawrence to Downtown KCMO.
I was able to attend for the first time ever, and it was by far one of the best events I have been to. From food trucks to art galleries, the night was full of picture opportunities.
For the 21 and over crowd, I highly recommend Up-Down bar. If you are into photography, I also recommend checking out the vintage shops on the West Bottoms.
By Georgia Hickam
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: a place to enjoy, appreciate and understand visual art and varied cultures from around the world. It is the perfect venue to escape daily life and find inner peace through art.
Being held through January 2017, there is a new exhibition called Surveillance, which explores the sneaky side of photography. As soon as cameras were introduced in the 1880’s, anyone could be unknowingly photographed at any time. Today, cameras are constantly recording our movements on the streets, in grocery stores, in airports. We rarely go anywhere without being watched by cameras. Constantly being watched makes us feel that our personal privacy is being interfered with. This new exhibit features works dating from 1864-2014 and focuses on categories like spying, military surveillance, mapping satellites and drones, as well as examples of counter-surveillance that prevents watching.
In conjunction with this exhibition, Atkins Auditorium will be showing a series of critically acclaimed films throughout October. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window will be screening on October 1 (this Saturday!). The main character, Jeff, is a photographer who spies on his neighbors through his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed a murder. It really makes you think about voyeurism and the importance of personal privacy.
Plus, the exhibit is free admission for everyone, so now you really don’t have an excuse to miss it!
Considering the current weather, it’s a little difficult to believe that the Autumnal equinox is already upon us. Let’s welcome the new season with open arms! Here are some tunes to help you shed your summer skin:
By Elias Medici
The purgatory impatience finally ends for Frank Ocean to release new music. On August 20th, 2016, his next project Blond was available for the world to drool over after four years of being silent. His last album, Channel Orange, brought worldwide attention to the young artist, perhaps contributing to his hibernation from the music industry. But the wait is over, and Blond blesses our ears with a re-defined sound and an inspiring story so well crafted by the mastermind himself, Mr. Ocean.
Four years is a long time. The struggle of waiting can be explained by a leap year baby trying to celebrate their birthday and turn one year older. His distinct style favored by the masses can be enjoyed throughout the album and provides a depth into his personal life. In the first song, “Nikes,” it takes around three whole minutes to finally hear his voice. He as well incorporates a tribute to Pimp-C, A$AP Yams and Trayvon Martin, who all in-explicitly died at different times. He as well mentions a tribute to Hurricane Katrina in “White Ferrari,” which connects the death tributes to a common theme of never forgetting personal devastation suffered in the past.
As seen in the album cover, there is no immediate signal of anything “blond” especially since he has Chia-pet green hair and is hiding his face. However, Spotify and Apple Music have displayed the album as Blonde, which the public determined as misspelling all over social media. In the English dictionary, the term “blond” is defined as a “fair-haired male” and “blonde” is “a fair-haired female.” In 2012, Frank posted on Twitter an open letter about his true self and the answers he is seeking for in the matter of love. He explains about his relationship with a man. He stated that four years ago he “met somebody, I was 19 years old. He was too.” He then goes on saying, “by the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love.” This may be a contributor to collaborate with the streaming services to define his sexuality in the ways he feels. He as well encourages listeners to do the same and be open about it with tracks such as “Be Yourself,” “Good Guy,” and “Facebook Story” which provide a calm, holy-like instrumental, with a speech as lyrics from different sources. They all support staying true to oneself and not letting any influence change real identities.
Ocean’s album involves an array of writers including Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, and even The Beatles. The song “White Ferrari” includes lyrics provided by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in their song “Here, There, and Everywhere.” He as well incorporates Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend for lyrics on the second track “Ivy.” The strong support of writers provides a sensible tone to enjoy throughout the album and a new choice of words not present in previous works by Ocean.
The wait is well worth it. All expression of a struggling person in society is found throughout the album and triggers an enormous emotional response listening to its entirety. The public has yet to acquire the knowledge for the reasoning behind the release delay, but it’s here to enjoy. Blond can hopefully be recognized as a generational masterpiece and reach historical significance. Effective music embodies a personal narrative with political ideals and consistency to present a message, which this album successfully does. Take 40 minutes uninterrupted out of the day to listen carefully and learn something from the album.
By Ellie Milton
Ask anyone on campus: the KU football team hasn’t had the best of luck in the recent years. Yet, that definitely doesn’t mean that Jayhawks don’t know how to throw a tailgate! Whether you’re from Kansas or you’re here from out of state, there are a few things you should know about game day here at the University of Kansas.
By Darby VanHoutan
I paid my first rent, remembered to eat three meals a day, and managed to stay informed this week. Now, here’s a few happenings from the world for all! WTF happened this week?
2017 – Full of Stranger Things
Many people remember where they were when Michael Jackson’s death was announced or President Obama announced the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Me, on the other hand, I remember the exact moment I first saw Eleven – or Elle for short – on my television.
The Netflix original series Stranger Things debuted this summer, and the world has never been the same. The show follows some ~spooky~ happenings of adolescents living in a small town in Indiana. Don’t worry—I won’t give away any spoilers. Besides the fact that Barb is dead, Will was rescued from the upside-down, and Eleven has some sort of supernatural connection to the monster.
The most exciting part is that Netflix announced via Twitter on Wednesday that it has been confirmed for a second season that will come out in 2017. Unlike me, Netflix really didn’t give away any clues besides some 80’s-esque thriller music and words like “Palace”, “Storm”, “Pollywog”, etc. Good News! Only three months until 2017.
Brazil Seeking Leader
This past Wednesday while the rest of world was partaking in some dollar-night-like festivities, the Brazilian Senate impeached their president. The first female president of the country, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended this past May to await trial, and as of Wednesday, has been removed for the rest of her term.
This impeachment comes at the closing of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and, in summation, was due to what the Brazilian Senate saw as Rousseff covering up the country’s growing economic and social issues. The final vote in the Senate was 61 in favor of the impeachment and 20 opposed.
Rousseff’s Vice-President Michel Temer is currently serving as interim president, will remain in the position until the end of the term in 2018.
Willow Smith gets Shady
Ever since Willow Smith whipped her hair in 2010, I’ve been infatuated. The latest move by the daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, is serving as the ambassador to Chanel’s AW16 eyewear campaign. The entire campaign, shot in black and white, features the model/actress/singer sporting….sunglasses. No virgin to starring in high end fashion campaigns, Smith has also modeled for Marc Jacobs and more.
Chanel creative director and all-around mastermind Karl Lagerfeld photographed the entire campaign which can be viewed here → AW16 Campaign.
One Big Explosion for Mankind
Facebook’s first ever communications satellite was set to launch this coming Saturday. The satellite, attached to sexily-named rocket SpaceX Falcon 9, would have extended internet access across 14 countries in Africa. However, during a static fire test this Thursday the rocket exploded. (I feel you, rocket) The explosion destroyed the rocket along with the entire payload, satellite included. Luckily, the rocket was unmanned and there were no civilians injured at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it resided.
Don’t worry SpaceX, just like college students tell themselves every day – this too shall pass.
By: Darby VanHoutan
There’s nothing quite like good music. High Waisted, a band led by singer and all-around badass Jessica Louise Dye, is going to bring an entire night of good music to Lawrence. Currently on a Summer long tour, the band will be in Lawrence at the Jackpot Music Lounge on Thursday September 1.
Lawrence is one stop of many on the band’s tour for their debut album On Ludlow that was released in March of this year. The album, in summation, sounds like Summer and is appropriately classified as a surf rocker album.
Along with Dye is Jono Bernstein on drums, Jeremy Hansen on bass, and Stephen Nielsen on guitar. Over the past year the group has received praise from numerous publications around the world as well as being named Best Party Band by GQ Magazine. If there’s any band I make room to see – it’s one holding this title.
If you can’t wait for their concert, you can find their music on Spotify, Soundcloud, or on their website which appropriately ends in .party instead of .com. After listening to a few of their songs and realizing the only thing better than dancing to them in your room is seeing them in person, join us on Thursday night to watch them live.
Stay tuned for updates and rock on!
By Logan Gossett
The intrigue is gone. Walking to class is a burden. Class A’s room is going to be suffocatingly warm. Class B is a 50 minute class that goes 50 minutes too long. Class C is a type of motorhome. Class D is too easy and class E is too difficult. And I couldn’t think of anything to say about class F, so let’s assume it’s okay. With the exception of the hypothetical class F, all of the above are thoughts of someone ailing from the second week slump.
The second week slump, or SWS as I just arbitrarily decided to abbreviate it, is a malady that plagues college students entering their second week of classes. Syllabus week won’t prepare students for the gauntlet of the following semester of stress, and the most notable victim of the post-syllabus week life isn’t grades or mental stability: it’s the quality of outfits.
Laundry has to get done at some point and, when it inevitably doesn’t get done, students end up dressing like every day is laundry day. That mysterious orange stain may objectively ruin the beige top that matches with everything, but sometimes the stain’s obscured by denial, so that helps. For the most part everyone’s already made an impression on one another, so solemnly walking into class wearing a hotel bathrobe to open week two feels mostly harmless anyway.
To paraphrase an amateur life coach, everyone is thinking about themselves too much to judge people as viscerally as people judge themselves. That being said, everyone probably notices the mysterious orange stain loitering on that dynamic beige shirt. And everybody better notice those spotless triple white Adidas Ultraboosts (I’m not paraphrasing life coaches anymore; I just really love my Ultraboosts.) SWS can’t be cured. SWS doesn’t have a single remedy. Nonetheless, those who suffer from SWS have two options:
Fortunately Style on the Hill is here to help assuage the second week slump! We’ve prepared a playlist that’s sure to be the oil to your squeaky wheel.
By Logan Gossett
On Sunday, Miguel Sapochnik concluded season six of Game of Thrones with two of the three best episodes in television history, per IMDB and totally objective Game of Thrones fans. If it wasn’t the best episode in television history, “Winds of Winter” was at least the best episode in the series. You know an episode’s phenomenal when “best episode in the series” is a compromise. Due to the resonant hype from the impeccable season six finale “Winds of Winter,” a coherent recap of Sunday’s episode is out of the question. What that question is, I have no idea. Instead, these are six incoherent ramblings from an overhyped Game of Thrones fan. Bullet points are present to give the illusion of structure.
First, Peter Dinklage elevated the exchange between Tyrion and Daenerys to another impossibly impressive level. Tyrion hasn’t appeared to be that genuinely fulfilled since his relationship with Shae in season four, which turned out to be manufactured by his father who was *ahem* similarly fulfilled by her.
Second, the first twenty minutes of the show displayed unparalleled visual storytelling. The word “game” in Game of Thrones has never felt more darkly ironic. Cercei’s game overcooked a notable slab of King’s Landing, including the player at the top of the leaderboard in Margaery Tyrell, although an argument can be made that Mace “the ace” Tyrell’s rousing, even arousing, motivational abilities will be missed with greater longing. Perhaps the most impressive cinematography of the episode was Tommen pulling a voluntary Bran by falling from a window after Cercei’s wildfire explosion. The longshot of a charred King’s Landing framed between two pillars illustrated the collapse of faith and the crown, with Tommen falling in-between them. The visual storytelling was like Pearl Jam’s music video for “Jeremy” except good, and not similar whatsoever. Plus, the casting budget for next season was reduced considerably. The Great Sept of Baelor’s explosion was basically a cost saving collaboration between Cercei and frugal HBO executives.
In sum, Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss don’t beat around the bush: they uproot it. The fact that Bronn is still alive is unprecedented in Game of Thrones. After hearing “bad pussy,” I’m surprised he didn’t uproot his bush himself.
When I was 10, I was probably learning how to walk. An exceedingly competent, inscrutable kid is just intrinsically ridiculous. Arya’s a believable kid character. She’s reactionary, unintelligent, and lacks clear judgement. Her bravery and resolve have triumphed, but she’s not going to hush a maester when he’s offering sage advice. If she did, arrogance and neglect would be the motivating factors, not wisdom.
Dragons? Totally believable. I draw the line at unimpeachable kid characters.
*This is probably hyperbole, considering how widely accepted R+L=J was by A Song of Ice and Fire fans in the 20 years preceding Sunday night. Then again, I can’t imagine “Jimmy Neutron is actually an eggplant” or “Family Guy is literally human feces,” carried as much hype as R+L=J.
By Kate Miller
Growing up, Brianna Woods was told that being an actress was something she just couldn’t do.
A black 21-year-old woman from Overland Park, Kansas, she remembers sitting down in high school with a high school mentor who she says was trying to be helpful. Woods, who at the time was deciding what she wanted to study at the University of Kansas, was young and impressionable. Her mentor said, “’You have a lot of talent, but it would be wasted,’” Woods remembers. “‘No one is looking for you. No one is going to hire you at this point.’”
Because of that conversation, Woods, who had been acting since third grade, chose to enter college studying business. She kept that conversation secret, even from her family, who had supported her love for the performing arts since the beginning.
Woods eventually dropped business and changed her major to theater in her first year of college—and has since been cast in both traditionally “black” and “white” productions both at her university and in professional companies. Despite her success, she knows the road ahead of her will be filled with obstacles other actors don’t encounter simply because of the color of her skin.
“Growing up it was ingrained in me, my parents would say, ‘Being who you are, you have to work twice as hard, twice as fast, be twice as strong and be twice as hungry,’” she says.
The path to becoming an actor isn’t easy for anyone. It’s a career largely ruled by who you know and the talent you’re born with—plus years of training, relentless auditions and harsh rejections. For a young black person, it’s even harder. Theater is full of traditionally white roles, and for the actors who don’t fit the bill, there isn’t much opportunity. Black actors have long been pigeonholed into “traditionally black” roles and shows, such as subservient characters who serve as comic relief—but seldom the lead.
For Diadra Smith, a black University of Kansas student studying theatre and psychology, this was the case all through high school. She recalls never having been asked to look at any roles outside of “black plays” and remembers serving as a stereotype for her culture in her school. After auditioning for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which she considered a pretty race-resistant show, she was shocked when she wasn’t cast, joking that she could have instead played the chocolate river. Her directors said, “‘Well, you can always do something for Kwanzaa,’” Smith remembers. “And that really threw me back because, I was like, do you think that’s all I can do?’”
However, Smith and Woods are part of a new generation of black actors demanding more visibility and opportunities in the theater world. A new show with an entirely multiracial cast, “Hamilton,” leads the blockbusters this Broadway season. The show, which follows the life of the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, casts black and Latino actors as the founding fathers, including a black George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The University of Kansas theater department’s most recent season includes three shows that focus on diverse casting and culture, compared to just one in the 2014-15 season and none in the year before that.
So what does this mean for the young black actors trying to make a name for themselves? It’s clear that black theater has come a long way from blackface and Jim Crow characters, but even after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it took 72 years before the first interracial couple danced together on a film screen—Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in their famous stair dance in 1935. Even though racist characters and blackface are no longer accepted in today’s media, it doesn’t mean it’s a welcoming field for black actors.
According to a study released in February 2016 by the University of Southern California, speaking roles in film, broadcast, cable and streaming are only 12.2 percent black. Of the black roles present on screen, only 33.9 percent of these are female roles. “Overall,” the study says, “the landscape of media content is still largely whitewashed.”
While the study didn’t include theater roles, the results aren’t that different across all fields of media, says Tony Bolden, a professor of African-American Studies at the University of Kansas. And when black actors have representation in film, it’s usually within the stereotypical roles and characteristics existing since slaves were emancipated in the 1870s. “There is a suggestion [in characters in film] that people of African descent are either unintelligent by nature or immoral by nature, given to criminality by nature,” Bolden says. This can come in the form of stereotypical casting— such as blacks playing the roles of criminals, subservient workers or just serving as a culture point in an otherwise “white” play.
Woods knows the struggle of being seen just for her skin color and nothing else. Growing up in Overland Park, her friends from school were mostly white, although she had a community of black friends through church and her community. When she and her friends would play a game where they imagined they were the Cheetah girls (the popular Disney characters from the early 2000s), Woods was always told she had to be Aqua—the “black one.” Even though she was only eight years old, she spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant.
“I grew up never feeling like I truly fit in,” she says. “I wasn’t white but neither group thought I was really ‘black’ either. I spent a long time trying to figure out my identity and trying to figure out why being black was both something my white friends thought was cool but also complimented me on not being submersed in.”
Smith says it’s hard for white people to understand how much harder she has to work to be on the same playing field as other actresses. These challenges range from hair and makeup people not knowing how to correctly do her hair to people asking her to do her lines in a “black” accent. “Just little things like that…As an actor, you have to show in your real life that you deserve to be there,” she says.
Even though being black in a predominantly white industry is hard enough, Bolden explains there are several other breakdowns within race that make acting difficult. It’s not just that actors are black; an actor’s gender, socioeconomic status, politics and birthplace all factor into the roles available to them. Simply by being female, Woods and Smith have a harder path ahead of them than a male black actor does.
Despite the difficulties of her field, Woods had a recent breakthrough when she was cast in a new production as the lead. In January, she performed in a staged reading of Moulin Rouge!, the 2001 film starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, at the Buffalo Room in Kansas City, Missouri. The show is set in Paris during the turn of the 20th century, and she played the lead of Satine, a courtesan originated by the fair-skinned, redheaded Kidman.
While a black Satine may have been a big deal, the Buffalo Room in Kansas City, didn’t use that to publicize its production. At the end, Woods asked the directors why she had been chosen, to which they had responded that she was simply the best who auditioned. “I just started crying and said, ‘Thank you for not making me a gimmick. I wanted to thank you for letting my work speak first in a world where my skin color speaks the loudest,’” Woods remembers.
The co-producers of the show, husband and wife team Vi Tran and Mackenzie Goodman Tran, said using Woods’ race as a promotional tool was never an option. But it did factor into the casting decision—made by Goodman Tran and the other producer, Katie Glichrist—mainly in a discussion as to whether or not Woods would be up to the potential backlash from the decision and the monumental responsibility from being the face of a “black” Satine. Tran, who is an Asian American actor himself, knew the importance of the casting decision.
“It’s very important that performers like Bri have casting directors who are willing to see her in that role,” he says. “It all comes down to the more that happens, for performers like myself and for performers like Bri, that it becomes normative. Casting directors are doing themselves a disservice if they’re walking in with preconceived notions.”
Sometimes, that disservice begins early, especially in the spaces where actors are learning their skills. But Mechele Leon, the chair of the Department of Theater at the University of Kansas, is hoping to change that. She has seen more opportunities for Woods and Smith develop under her guiding eye. She was chair when the University Theater produced both “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Detroit ’67,” in which Smith and Woods had lead roles. But she says she’s not satisfied with the “simplified formulaic” presented at many university theaters today. Instead of falling back on the old manner of filling a diversity slot in a season by producing a “black” play or a “female” play, she wants to reflect the diversity seen in real life—where those characteristics intersect. For example, instead of producing a “Hispanic” play, she would want to produce a show that explores what it’s like to be a female, lesbian Latina—therefore, exploring several different diversities at once.
She’s pushing for an explicit statement from her department about its role in promoting diversity, especially in the light of the University’s recent racially-charged discussions on campus. “It’s time for us to say what we really think needs to be the shape of the season, for us to feel comfortable about its inclusivity and diversity,” she says. “It feels sometimes like it’s hit or miss. It hasn’t been a commitment; [now], it has to be at the top of our thoughts.”
This isn’t news to actors like Woods and Smith. Both agree the theater through which they learn has taken steps to make them feel more included, but neither is quite satisfied yet. Woods says the recent push towards more diverse theater comes from minority actors being fed up with the lack of representation—and the only option left is for them to take those steps themselves.
“Minorities are realizing that some people are stuck in their ways,” Woods says, “and they’re not going to write parts for us as lead roles and they’re not going to put us in the front seat, so we have to put ourselves in the front seat.”
Photography courtesy of Brianna Woods
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