Stranger Things season 2
‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Lives Up to the Hype

Massive, massive spoilers ahead. First spoiler: ‘Stranger Things’ season 2 is amazing. Ever since last year’s stunning premiere of the Netflix Original hit, one question was on everyone’s mind: will Stranger Things season 2 live up to season 1? How in the world could they top that? For those somehow not in the know, Stranger…

Wonder movie
‘Wonder’ Infuses Kindness into Culture

Featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, the ‘Wonder’ movie based on R.J. Palacio’s best-selling book could shift our daily interactions. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably much worse,” says 10-year-old August Pullman, the protagonist in the New York Times best-selling middle grade novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Auggie, the…

The Justice League
Superhero 101: The Justice League

The Justice League looked a bit different in the comics than it does in the upcoming film. In recent years, fans of superhero squads have had the pleasure of seeing Marvel’s best-known supergroup come together on the silver screen in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The DC side of things, save for the…

deafness
9 Common Myths about Deafness

Let’s clear up some misconceptions about deafness. More than 35 million people in the U.S. experience some degree of deafness, yet misconceptions abound — possibly because we only occasionally get to see one stereotype of deafness in movies and TV, despite there being so many people with different variations of deafness. (Read more about the…

Calvin and Hobbes
‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Bill Watterson: A Phenomenon and a Recluse

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ first appeared on November 18, 1985. The strip has remained relevant for more than 30 years, and its creator has stuck to his principles through it all. It was one of those things moms say to their kids to impress them about their jobs, as if being an outstanding AP teacher weren’t…


  • ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Lives Up to the Hype

    Stranger Things season 2

    Massive, massive spoilers ahead. First spoiler: ‘Stranger Things’ season 2 is amazing. Ever since last year’s stunning premiere of the Netflix Original hit, one question was on everyone’s mind: will Stranger Things season 2 live up to season 1? How in the world could they top that? For those somehow not in the know, Stranger Things was something of a dark horse in the world of television. Created by relative unknowns, the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things is a sci-fi action-adventure pseudo-horror steeped in ’80s nerd nostalgia that took the nation by storm. Following a Goonies-like pattern, the series features a group of small-town kids as they try to solve a cross-dimensional mystery involving government secrets, literal aliens and a now-iconic experiment-turned-badass psionic bald girl who apparently loves waffles. With its cinematic eye and its nail-biting storytelling, the show was a tremendous success. But soon after Stranger Things season 2 was        …read more

    ‘Wonder’ Infuses Kindness into Culture

    Wonder movie

    Featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, the ‘Wonder’ movie based on R.J. Palacio’s best-selling book could shift our daily interactions. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably much worse,” says 10-year-old August Pullman, the protagonist in the New York Times best-selling middle grade novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Auggie, the main character born with a severe facial deformity, tells his story, and then the perspective shifts to his classmates, sister and sister’s boyfriend. Exploring themes of belonging, empathy, differences, kindness and resilience, Wonder is spreading empathy like wildfire and will debut as the adapted Wonder movie on November 17. The film, with Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson and Mandy Patinkin, was originally slated to release last April but did so well in test screenings that filmmakers pushed it to November for the increased holiday ticket sales. Beyond predicted profit margins, however, the underlying story        …read more

    Superhero 101: The Justice League

    The Justice League

    The Justice League looked a bit different in the comics than it does in the upcoming film. In recent years, fans of superhero squads have had the pleasure of seeing Marvel’s best-known supergroup come together on the silver screen in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The DC side of things, save for the abysmal Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has yet to see some of its most famous heroes together in one film. That will soon change, with Justice League set to hit theaters this month. The Justice League, as depicted in the movie, will see Batman and Wonder Woman recruit The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to create a formidable legion of supervillain-thwarting power. It’s been a long time coming. Sure, the Justice League has appeared in nine straight-to-DVD animated movies since 2008, but DC’s heavyweight collaboration of superheroes will enter live action for the first time        …read more

    9 Common Myths about Deafness

    deafness

    Let’s clear up some misconceptions about deafness. More than 35 million people in the U.S. experience some degree of deafness, yet misconceptions abound — possibly because we only occasionally get to see one stereotype of deafness in movies and TV, despite there being so many people with different variations of deafness. (Read more about the differences between Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing here.) I myself am hard of hearing, so allow me to be your ambassador in the exciting world of deafness today. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but these are the most common myths about deafness that I’ve encountered since I lost my hearing at the age of five. 1. All deaf people know sign language. I often meet someone only to have them immediately start signing to me. (How did they know? Apparently my deaf accent is even stronger than I thought!) While I appreciate the thoughtfulness        …read more

    ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Bill Watterson: A Phenomenon and a Recluse

    Calvin and Hobbes

    ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ first appeared on November 18, 1985. The strip has remained relevant for more than 30 years, and its creator has stuck to his principles through it all. It was one of those things moms say to their kids to impress them about their jobs, as if being an outstanding AP teacher weren’t enough. But of course, I was just a young boy. Name-dropping has its effects. “Bill Watterson graduated from Chagrin Falls,” she told me. Chagrin Falls High School in Northeast Ohio, that is. The school where my mom’s now taught for 22 years. Calvin and Hobbes, the revolutionary comic strip, made Chagrin Falls’ own Bill Watterson a household name. Calvin and Hobbes had always reminded me of home. The precocious Calvin and his stuffed tiger live in an idyllic Midwestern town with many Chagrin Falls characteristics. In one of the first Calvin and Hobbes strips, for        …read more

    ‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Perfects the Mario Formula

    Mario’s latest adventure, ‘Super Mario Odyssey,’ is part greatest hits, part unearthing of endless potential. For more than 30 years, Nintendo has captivated the world with the platforming genius that is Super Mario. If one game franchise were universally considered the flag holder for all video games, it would undoubtedly be the lovable, pint-sized, mustached man. What Super Mario has achieved so consistently across more than a dozen mainline games is to capture the art of the “aha!” moment, that smile-inducing lightbulb that makes one thing clear — Nintendo thought of everything. Super Mario games are ceaselessly clever, utterly charming and fun for all ages, and Super Mario Odyssey adds so much to the legacy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6oPBIVjf8E Even with Mario’s expected brilliance, it would’ve been hard to predict the sheer excellence of our determined hero’s latest adventure. Super Mario Odyssey, the series’ Nintendo Switch debut, accomplishes two very different feats in        …read more

    Therapy on the Go: 7 Mental Health Apps to Ease Your Mind

    mental health apps

    Relieve stress, anxiety, depression and OCD with these mental health apps. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 18% of people in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety-related disorder. More than 16 million adults in the United States — approximately 7% of the population — are affected by depression. As more individuals continue to struggle, software developers have begun scrambling to create mental health apps that assist people with these conditions. Currently more than 50 apps exist for stress management, depression and behavioral modification. While mental health apps are not designed to replace medication or face-to-face therapy sessions, many make mental health care services more accessible to those who need them, delivering a wide range of useful information as well as support for those with anxiety, depression, OCD and other related disorders. Here are seven mental health apps to consider. 1. Talk Space Launched in        …read more

    Cazzie David Follows in Dad’s Footnotes with Cranky Web Series

    Larry David, Cazzie David

    Larry David’s daughter Cazzie delivers a series that’s like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ swaddled in Snapchat filters and drone jokes. Even if you didn’t know the names behind this year’s hottest web series, it felt instantly familiar: the nitpicking over minutiae, the anxiety-fueled arguments, the friendships built on equal parts love and disgust. Larry David’s 22-year-old daughter follows in the footnotes of his unique brand of humor with Eighty-Sixed. The web series debuted in April 2017 when Complex announced the eight-episode series about Remi, “a neurotic, semi-narcissist who, across several episodes ranging four-to-eight minutes, tries to ‘win’ her breakup.” The show came from writers Elisa Kalani and Cazzie David, the daughter of Larry David, cocreator of Seinfeld and the actor/writer behind HBO’s long-running Curb Your Enthusiasm. The elder goofy, acerbic David brought back Curb in October, but this year some new buzz has been swirling around his talented daughter. What Cazzie        …read more

    Sex Doesn’t Sell Anymore: Sexy Ads Give Way to Corporate Activism

    sexy ads

    The number of sexy ads is decreasing as brands embrace social responsibility in advertisements. Fashion brand Eckhaus Latta unveiled an X-rated campaign in March for their spring/summer 2017 collection. The campaign was shot by the Korean-German photographer Heji Shin and featured couples of different races and sexual orientations in the midst of erotic acts such as oral sex. The images are pixelated to hide the most intimate details, but there’s nothing left to the imagination. While the Eckhaus Latta campaign pushes the boundaries of acceptability, suggestive or sexual imagery in advertisements are not a brand-new concept. The level of eroticism in sexy ads has fluctuated over the years, coinciding with changes in the Western perception of gender, sex and pornography. But does sex still sell in 2017? In 1911 the soap company Woodbury launched an outrageous ad for its time. It showed a tableau were a man lightly embraces a        …read more

    8 Reasons to Schedule a Binge ahead of ‘Grace and Frankie’ Season 4

    Grace and Frankie season

    ‘Grace and Frankie’ season 4 is sure to wrap up several exciting cliffhangers. If you haven’t been watching the Netflix hit sitcom Grace and Frankie, you’ve been missing out. Luckily right now is the perfect time to get caught up. The show recently just got renewed for a fourth season, which will be on Netflix in 2018 — giving you plenty of time to binge-watch the first three seasons currently available on the streaming service. The show is about two rival women in their 70s who are forced together when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) both come out of the closet and leave them for one another. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) couldn’t be more different: the former is a tightly wound businesswoman while the latter is a pot-smoking hippie. As they come to terms with their post-divorce lives, they end up living together        …read more

    Horizon Zero Dawn Enters the Frozen Wilds

    Horizon Zero Dawn game

    We’re in a land like no other... Horizon Zero Dawn developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment available exclusively for the PS4, is an open-world RPG with a variety of geographical locations and ecotopes from frozen mountain ranges to hot, dense jungles and all teeming with life and automatons in this postapocalyptic future. The game’s hero, Aloy, is a young hunter on a journey to find her destiny. Aloy develops her skill set and savage aim to hunt the huge variety of Machines and to defend against rival tribes. She’s also quite the badass. Her fighting dynamics vary from a bow to hand-to-Machine combat with her spear, and even gaining the ability to override certain Machines, upon which she can also ride, making it easier to traverse the vast landscape. As in other RPGs, like the new Assassin’s Creed, our hero also has the ability to upgrade her skills        …read more

    The Strange Magic of Automata with Master Craftsman Thomas Kuntz

    automata

    Kuntz uses old-school techniques and a touch of magic to build surreal automata. You’ve likely heard that machines will one day take over the world. Don’t fret: it will only give humanity more time to create art. Automata are the predecessors of robots, and their artistic creation dates back centuries. In the 1500s astrologer and mathematician John Dee made a wooden beetle that could fly. During the Age of Enlightenment Jacques Vaucason crafted a flute player that actually played the instrument. And in the modern era Thomas Kuntz, whose work has appeared in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, dominates the automata art scene with fantastical things of nightmares. Thomas Kuntz’s Automata A devil blowing smoke. A vampire drinking blood. A skeletal Prussian conjuror tapping his foot and raising his hat. The devil lurking inside a merry couple. A seductive ghost playing a sonata. A widow finding company with skeletons. These are just        …read more

    ‘Friends from College’ Gives Viewers an Unlikely Family Drama

    Friends from College

    ‘Friends from College’ is finding its way with a balance of smart comedy and unconventional family drama. They say you can’t choose your family. And Tolstoy famously wrote that “all happy families are alike.” So how do you explain the cast of Netflix’s new sitcom, Friends from College? To be sure, they function perfunctorily as the titular (can we call them titular?) stars of the show (they are “friends from college”), but even such a designation doesn’t properly explain the deconstructed alchemy on display. Just when you think you understand what the show is trying to be, it dives off into another corner of another thought landscape, hurling the viewer down an excursion that is usually, more often than not, worth the ride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWUBRto1WZQ Starring Keegan-Michael Key (Comedy Central’s Key and Peele), Cobie Smulders (The Avengers, How I Met Your Mother), Fred Savage (Wonder Years) and a fine ensemble cast,        …read more

    5 Cover Songs That Are So Much Better Than the Originals

    From Nina Simone’s “My Way” to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” these cover songs dramatically changed the originals when the cover artists made them their own. Almost all the musicians I’ve met in my life want to play their own songs, not someone else’s, when they perform live. If you’re an artist, what’s the purpose of playing a cover song? Sure, plenty of musicians will do it to please a bar crowd, and sometimes it’s fun to put your own spin on it, but often cover songs are nothing more than shadows of the original. Every once in a while, though, a cover comes along that completely alters the original and makes it the artist’s own. Through slight changes of lyrics, music or point of view, the person creating the cover song takes it somewhere the original artist either didn’t intend or didn’t foresee. The following are five examples of cover songs        …read more

    How Those Period Panties Could Save the World

    period panties

    What if girls and women all over the world had access to safe feminine hygiene? Picture yourself as an 11-year-old girl. You’re going about your day, waiting for the bus or walking yourself to school, marching to class, talking to your friends, maybe studying for a quiz — everything is going according to plan. You even remembered your lunch money and a fresh set of gym clothes today. You’re ready for anything. Then you go to the bathroom. Someone probably prepared you for this, whether that someone was the female teacher who found herself tasked with explaining the ins and outs of puberty to a class of giggling schoolchildren, or your mother, or your know-it-all sister who just wanted to remind you how wise she was. Whoever your teacher was, chances are she bestowed enough knowledge on you that you now refrain from running from the bathroom yelling, “I’m hemorrhaging,”        …read more

    7 Ways Companies Are Improving Work Environments & Job Satisfaction

    work environments

    From impressive perks to professional development, companies are discovering surprisingly innovative ways to increase engagement with their teams and fine-tune work environments. In 2017 Gallup came out with a new study of the workforce in 160 countries, and the results were downright depressing. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, went so far as to claim that the world’s workforce is broken. Why the extreme language? According to the study, only 15% of employees worldwide are actually engaged in their current work environments. America fared a little better in polls, but still 70% of the country’s workforce agreed they were fairly unengaged and unhappy at work. According to another study Gallup did in 2016 millennials in particular are not engaged, and old management practices are literally grinding the life out of them. Millennials want purpose, not just a paycheck. They put a lot of clout into the work environment because work is a        …read more

    Assassin’s Creed: Origins — Millennia in the Making

    Assassin’s Creed: Origins

    Assassin’s Creed: Origins is ancient history. Like many fans of the series, I’ve played the Assassin games for a long time and have looked forward to each new edition, including Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Until now, we’ve known relatively little about the characters’ true origins, and now it looks like we’ll be given much more of the story. What makes the series truly unique is its ability to constantly surprise. With every game, players learn more about the Brotherhood and the Templars. For example, when I played as Haytham Kenway in AC3, the reveal at the start of the game gave me one of the biggest surprises ever. Using real-world events from a historical fiction perspective, the Assassin’s Creed game focuses on a centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace, and the Templars, who desire peace only through complete control. And now it would seem it’s not just centuries        …read more

    How Will the Sheldon Cooper Spinoff Compare to TV Spinoffs Before?

    As audiences take a double dose of Sheldon Cooper, how will ‘Young Sheldon’ compare to 7 of the best and worst spinoffs in TV history? TV studios, like all businesses, are in the industry of making money. Given the production costs of making a brand-new TV series, it makes sense that TV shows often overstay their welcome. But another thing makes sense, too: spinoffs. Offshoots of hugely successful television series have preinstalled fan bases, making them less risky than wholly original ideas, while simultaneously switching it up a bit to draw in new viewers. That’s exactly what CBS is running with Young Sheldon, a spinoff prequel of the enormously popular comedy series The Big Bang Theory. https://youtu.be/KhxKEg-IBBo By now most people with cable have seen The Big Bang Theory either through CBS or syndication. It’s been one of the most watched shows in the U.S. for years now. Best buds Leonard,        …read more

    Superhero 101: Thor

    Thor: Ragnorak

    Ahead of ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ take a look at the mythological superhero’s comic book origins. If you keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, November 3 is likely circled on your calendar. The anticipation to see how Thor escapes from captivity on the planet of Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok is mounting. Set almost directly after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and four years after Thor: The Dark World, this new film will see our hero lose his trusty hammer, battle his good friend Hulk and take down the Goddess of Death, Hela, to save Asgard and its people from total destruction. The 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok looks to up the stakes significantly from previous entries. I certainly recommend viewing 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World before getting in line for the third movie entry in the franchise. But beyond that, Thor has        …read more

    Horror Writing: Finding the ‘Gruesome’ Thread That Connects Us All

    horror writing

    Gregory Lamberson discusses the craft of horror writing. Darkness subsists in the crevices of our minds, tucked away. And often, this darkness can manifest as fear. Fear is distinctive, it thrills us, and as H.P. Lovecraft reminded his readers in a popular essay on the genre, it connects us all — man and animal alike. Horror author, screenwriter and director Gregory Lamberson has been tapping into that cultural stew for years, honing his craft and stretching out into many narrative forms. Lamberson, the author of such titles as Johnny Gruesome, The Frenzy War, Personal Demons and others, like most writers of the macabre, can trace those darker passages from the building blocks of an impressionable childhood. “I loved monsters as a child, in cartoons and comic books,” Lamberson says. “I started collecting the Aurora monster models as a kid (based on Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula and other characters), then watching        …read more

    Pro Special Effects Makeup Artists Talk Monstrous Transformations

    special effects makeup

    A closer look at the extraordinary contributions of special effects makeup artists. What’s your favorite transformation in movie history? Before 1981 there was no special effects makeup category in the Academy Awards. One movie changed that: An American Werewolf in London. The film’s first transformation scene was shocking in its realness. It took a frightening folklore tale and dragged it, growling and biting, into the real world. Rick Baker, the special effects designer and creator of the film, is now a legend in the special effects makeup industry. The film industry can thank horror movies for many things besides introducing a special effects makeup category to the Academy Awards: the films are notoriously reliable moneymakers for studios, and many A-list actors have gotten their start in horror, including Kevin Bacon and Renée Zellweger. Horror franchises themselves have built cult followings that have morphed into yearly conventions, turning D-list actors who hadn't managed        …read more

    6 A-Listers Who Got Their Start in Horror Movies

    horror movies

    From Matthew McConaughey to Jennifer Aniston, these stars appeared in horror movies early in their careers. Many actors who got their start in horror movies have remained in the genre, either by choice or because the characters they played became defining pillars of the genre. Some actors use roles in horror movies as a stepping stone into other genres. I’m a huge defender of the horror genre, so while some may claim these actors moved past the genre (as if it’s something to grow out of), I don’t. I believe actors earn merit with their acting abilities, regardless of whether they’re playing a role in a period piece romance or a quiet drama or a horror flick. That said, some actors have opted to move on from roles as demons, vampires or sadomasochists from hell to broaden their résumés, lending their talents to other fare with mass appeal. And kudos to        …read more

    Should Combat Video Games Show Psychological Realities of War?

    combat video games

    ‘Call of Duty’ is heading back to World War II, but we need psychologically multidimensional combat video games. With modern computing technology, video games can come close to photorealism. For many genres, this is an advantage. In sports, adventure and action games, more realistic graphics are enticing and increasingly immersive. Shooters, the most lucrative genre — particularly first-person shooters — have also benefited from the uptick of graphical power. While more lively graphics immerse gamers in the scene, for some they raise questions about the ethical nature of shooters when simulating historic wars. As games become more aesthetically realistic, shouldn’t the horrors of war be depicted accurately thematically, along with offering additional, more diverse layers? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9ITIaKzG3A Call of Duty: WW2 will take the series back to World War II for the first time in a decade and the eighth time in the series. Games centered on World War II launched        …read more

    Real-Life Zombie Apocalypse: Are We the Next Walking Dead?

    zombie apocalypse

    Vaccine hesitancy + climate change + natural disasters = zombie apocalypse? It’s safe to say that all things zombie are now mainstream (any Walking Dead fans here?). What’s not to love about postapocalyptic times where dead people come to life and have no purpose other than to feast on the living? But what do they have to do with vaccine refusals, climate change and natural disasters? I’m glad you asked. Disclaimer: I don’t think there’s a virus capable of reviving the dead. But if you’re wondering if there are diseases and environmental factors that can promote zombie-like infections in the population at large (which we’ll call a “zombie apocalypse” for this article), then my answer to you is “Hell, yes.” Did you know there are real-life zombie scientists? Okay, so that may be a stretch, but epidemiologists come pretty close. Epidemiology focuses on where diseases come from (their origin) and        …read more

    7 Surprising Alternatives to Traditional Funeral Services

    funeral services

    These unique options are nothing like the traditional funeral services you’ve been to. If you’re bored by the idea of funeral services, here are seven far more interesting ways to leave a lasting impression after your departure. 1. Have Your Ashes Sent to Space Want to incorporate space in your funeral arrangements? Why not fulfill your dream of becoming an astronaut by sending your remains into space? Founded in 1997, Celestis specializes in launching human remains into space. Aside from reserving a spot for your ashes on scheduled “memorial spaceflights,” they also allow your loved ones to attend the launch and even track you in orbit. The company was cofounded by entrepreneur Charles M. Chafer, and staff members include aerospace professionals, space launch event management experts, retired NASA astronauts and even a retired director of the NASA Kennedy Space Center who directed more than 50 space shuttle launches. According to        …read more