Hear me out: What You Should Be Listening to this Month

We’re now into November. I know, I can’t believe it either. Love to my Sagittarius babies, but what is the point of this month? Anyway, we press on.

I know you babies have been waiting patiently for something to listen to. I’m here to help out. I compiled a list of some pretty dope albums coming out this month that I’m and, therefore, you should also be, excited for! All jokes aside, the artists listed below have some great discographies, so you’re gonna wanna see what they’re working on now.

SAM SMITH — THE THRILL OF IT ALL (NOV, 3 2017)

Prepare your tissues and set a lock on your phone to make sure you are unable to text your exes. Sam Smith’s sophomore album is set to put us all in our November blues, but everyone needs a good cry now and then. It’s been 3 years since Smith’s debut, In the Lonely Hour, which sold over 24 million copies worldwide. Smith gave us a sneak-peak of what to expect with this album in his Billboard interview:

“I went through, like, this vortex, came out, I feel like I’ve rebuilt myself as a stronger thing and I’m just gonna go into the vortex again,” he says in a preview that features a montage of studio sessions. “I wasn’t trying to make a big pop record when I made this album. I was actually just trying to make something personal and like a diary.”

YUNG LEAN — STRANGER (NOV, 10 2017)

Stranger will be Yung Lean’s third official album since his first mixtape in 2013. This Swedish rapper has his stories to share in his relatively short lifetime. Read more in his interview with the Fader. Along with his new album, Yung Lean will head out on a European tour. You can find the details here. 

T-PAIN — OBLIVION (NOV, 17 2017)

T-Pain hasn’t released an official album since his 2011 RevolverOf course, I can’t forget the legendary mixtape, T-Wayne that T-Pain dropped on Soundcloud this year featuring Lil Wayne, as it was a throwback from their collaborative efforts in 2009. This release had everyone nostalgic for that era of rap music and excited to be hearing more from T-Pain in general. Judging from this hilarious exchange between T-Pain and a passenger on an airplane, he has to have something pretty great cooking if he’s going that hard in his airline seat:

TALIB KWELI — RADIO SILENCE (NOV, 17 2017)

Talib Kweli’s latest project, Radio Silence, is set to come out in a few short weeks and we’re so excited. Kweli collaborated with some really great producers like Kaytranada and The Alchemist. Not only is this album stacked with these noteworthy producers, it also has some amazing features such as Anderson .Paak, Jay Electronica, and BJ The Chicago Kid. This will be Kweli’s eighth studio album with a release party at the Brooklyn Bowl on November 16th.

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG — REST (NOV, 17 2017)

Charlotte Gainsbourg is set to release her first album in seven years. Rest features the collaborative efforts of some pretty prominent household names such as Paul McCartney, Owen Pallett, Connan Mockasin, and Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Gainsbourg has never wrote her own lyrics before, and this album marks the first time she has completed that task.

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Top Five Young Adult Novels This Year

In the literary world, young adult novels are typically looked down on as being less high quality than fiction produced for adults, and not worthy of the same critical inspection and praise. I totally disagree. Not only is that assessment an insult to the authors of these books, it’s an insult to the readers. In any case, 2017 has been an excellent year for young adult novels. Here are my picks of the top five young adult novels released this year.

 

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

John Green is widely known for his previous young adult novels along with his YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, co-hosted with his brother Hank Green, and dozens of other online projects. Unlike his previous works, however, this one feels more authentic and gripping, as Green reveals, via his narrator Aza Holmes, the terrifying prison of thoughts created by OCD and anxiety (which Green himself suffers from), and the realities of living with a mental illness.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

It’s often assumed that teen literature can’t really discuss intense and/or controversial topics, or talk about them well. It’s also often assumed that debuting authors aren’t doing the best work out there. Angie Thomas proves both of those assumptions totally false in her stunning debut work. The novel revolves around its narrator, Starr, who navigates the worlds of her poor black neighborhood and her wealthy white prep school, and the fallout when her friend Khalil, unarmed, is shot by the police. Thomas dives right in to the subjects of police brutality, race, and class with nuance, thoughtfulness, and grace.

I Hate Everyone But You by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn

If you’re a fan of the hilarious YouTube comedy channel Just Between Us, then you’ll love this fun and charismatic novel from its two creators, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn. The story is told through a series of emails, text messages, and other communications between its two main characters, best friends Ava and Gen, as they begin their first year of college. Just as they do in their YouTube show, Raskin and Dunn tackle everything from coming out to mental health with boldness and humor in this awesome debut.

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

When the protagonist of this story, Griffin, finds out his ex-boyfriend, Theo, has died, it sets off a terrifying spiral of downward thoughts, secrets, and obsessions. Author Adam Silvera adds this emotionally devastating tale to his other, critically acclaimed works including the New York Times bestseller More Happy Than Not. In this book, Silvera explores loss, grief, mental anguish, and how we learn to let go.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Another stunning debut novel, this one from Robin Roe, A List of Cages tells the story of high school senior Adam Blake, who finds himself reunited with his former foster brother, Julian. However, Julian is keeping a few secrets. As Adam struggles with ADHD and tries to navigate Julian’s issues, his desire to help Julian pushes up against the reality of both their situations. Roe gives us an amazing debut novel, and leaves us eager for her next work.

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Painting the Screen: A Review of Loving Vincent

Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s Loving Vincent is the world’s first oil painted film. Over one hundred artists contributed to its animation, creating a series of 65,000 oil-painted frames in Van Gogh’s neo-impressionist style. Well worth the effort. The result is both striking and bizarre. We enter the world as Van Gogh saw it, crooked, swirling, and filled with feeling.

Loving Vincent is not so much a biopic as a murder mystery. The majority of the plot is set after Van Gogh’s death. Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’ Dowd) sends his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to deliver a letter to Van Gogh’s brother Theo. Though Armand fails to find Theo, he becomes obsessed by the ambiguities surrounding Van Gogh’s death. Armand questions Dr. Gachet, Adeline Ravoux, and Dr. Mazery in search of answers, and these familiar faces from Van Gogh’s portraits come to life. Ultimately we are given the impression that Van Gogh might well have been shot. “Blame no one,” says Vincent on his deathbed.

Whenever an artist/filmmaker makes a bold decision with method or technique, we are left to wonder whether it was a brilliant innovation or if we had been duped, lured in by the weird and wonderful at the expense of meaningful content.

Is this film a gimmick or a masterpiece? The storyline, which offers little character development, seems like an excuse for an ambitious artistic experiment. We never get inside Van Gogh’s head, but we see the world through his eyes.

Still, there is something refreshing in using Van Gogh’s vision to create distance from his inner life. Van Gogh has been pegged as the quintessential tortured artist; we have turned him into an archetype, a cultural meme. For the most part, we are content with this two-dimensional rendering, as it is romantic, and familiar, and it allows us to identify our own darkness with possible brilliance. But Kobiela and Welchman resist.

In an online review of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ MoMa writes: “To know van Gogh is to get past the caricature of the tortured, misunderstood artist and to become acquainted instead with the hardworking, deeply religious, and difficult man.”

This, Loving Vincent achieves. We are spared the director’s rendering of Van Gogh’s inner life, which no one but Van Gogh himself could ever hope to express. Instead, the camera turns outward. He is brought to life through the eyes of other characters; Van Gogh assumes a social identity and we see in him what other’s see; he paints in the rain, he’s shy around women. By allowing others to imagine Van Gogh through his own aesthetic, Kobiela and Welchman seem to suggest that all individual perceptions are as slanted and emotionally charged as Van Gogh’s. In fact, this is what makes the mystery of his death so difficult to solve. Everyone has their own story.

But perhaps Loving Vincent’s greatest achievement is that it provides its audience with an entirely new experience of familiar images. We move through Van Gogh’s artworks. There are moments on screen that approximate specific paintings, I can recall an almost replica of Van Gogh’s ‘Marguerite Gachet at the Piano’. But then we are given more. We are given a perspective of Marguerite as Van Gogh approaches her window, we watch as she moves towards it, and we stand by her side as she smokes a cigarette. We occupy new spaces in the rooms Van Gogh had previously painted and we discover his subjects in different contexts.

As I thought about the effect of Van Gogh’s work on screen, I recalled Walter Benjamin’s essay, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In it Benjamin looks at film’s potential to radically change our relationship to all arts. We stand alone as individuals before a painting. But we view films in a theater, surrounded by others. Nobody walks out of a film and feels unqualified to judge what they have seen. Film, as a medium, invites us to form collective conceptions, to feel collectively.

A collective viewing of Van Gogh’s work (or its likenesses) feels particularly meaningful in 2017. Van Gogh is now a canonical artist. Seeing a work by Van Gogh is not simply about enjoying a painting, but about taking part in a larger movement, participating in cultural memory and conversation. Surrounded by others in the theatre we can feel ourselves doing just that, on more than one level.

While we have grown to appreciate impressionist painters as masters of fine art, we do not often look to animators with the same kind admiration. The crew of artists involved in this film approximate Van Gogh’s style, sometimes very closely, but their work remains unique, a variation on a theme. In the end Loving Vincent is not only a nod to the work of Van Gogh, but a loving ode to the art of animation; animation as masterpiece.

Dear… Donna Karan

Dear Donna Karan…

You’re cancelled. On behalf of anyone and everyone in the fashion industry, as well as the millions of women who have purchased and felt empowered by your clothing, you’re cancelled. On behalf of abuse victims, assault victims, and rape victims around the world, you’re cancelled. On behalf of everything that is righteous and pure in the world, you’re cancelled. Anything you choose to do from here on in has no value to the world, as well as everything you’ve done in the past carries no value. Why? Because it seems that the same women you aimed to empower with your clothing all those years ago, the same women who gave you your title and career, carry no value to you.

It’s baffling to see how a woman whose life mantra was empowerment for women, could so easily dismiss the claims made by women who only want to seek empowerment and justice for themselves and for the countless other women who fell to the disgusting hands of Harvey Weinstein. How could a woman who knows the brutality of finding success in the male-driven world of fashion so easily place the blame on women? On the same women who supported your success and contributed to it? It’s a shame to see that someone who could have been an ally to these women, whose mantra could have been to Weinstein’s victims support and a source of reassurance that they will get through this and that their attacker will be met with justice. It’s a shame to see her take the side of the villain and sow the seed of doubt by putting the blame on his victims and not crucify her BFF for what he’s done.

And how funny it is that 2 weeks later, Ms. Karan is now singing a different tune. Begging those around her to forgive her careless words as a mere misunderstanding in a tumultuous time. However, the truth of the matter is that life isn’t that simple anymore. Today’s society has enough sense to know that certain things are not so easily forgiven. And stating that “women who dress a certain way had it coming” isn’t something that should be easily forgiven. What if some of those women were wearing designs from one of your collection when they were attacked? Would that be inappropriate to you? Or would it be something you sweep under the rug in the way you want everyone to sweep what you said under the rug? Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way anymore. Times are changing Ms. Karan. In the same way that Harvey won’t be able to escape his fate, neither will you. That’s all.


Queer Boy Costumes 101: Your Guide to Wearing Whatever the Hell You Want this Halloween

Halloween can sometimes be a distressing time for queer men. What may seem like a particularly fun time of year where anyone can dress up and have a great time can sometimes turn into a month-long battle between what you’d like to dress up as, and what the world fins acceptable for you to dress up as. This vortex of making yourself happy vs making the people around you comfortable often times seem completely suffocating. But the reality of the situation is that almost every recently out queer man, both young and mature,  will find themselves centred in the middle of a tug and war between your own feelings and the assumed feelings of those around you. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In all reality, dressing up for Halloween should be something amazing and freeing. It shouldn’t make one feel as if they have to choose between personal happiness and the level of acceptance or tolerance that those around you may have. It’s your night and you should be able to wear whatever you want. You should be able to dress as masculine and as feminine as you want. As outrageous or as tame as you’d like (just as long as it isn’t socially insensitive and offensive) In reality, the only stress one should feel during the spookiest time of the year is the stress of choosing just one costume out of all the great ideas floating around out there. Hopefully, this article will help you put your brain into overdrive during these last few days leading up to Halloween and help you put together the most amazing queer boy costume this year.

When in Doubt, Pastel Out

Whether you opt for femme boy extraordinaire or super masc gym rat chic. Pastels are always a great way to keep things fun for Halloween. Forget bright colours and all black ensembles. Pastels manage to give you a hint of softness with any costume you wear. Wearing an entire pastel outfit, or certain pastel elements can often time give you a sugary sweet and often times funny contrast; especially if you’re fusing something scary or overly masculine with your pastel look. You’re bound to be the centre of attention in your ice cream coloured party outfit if you opt for a pastel gig. Options for your pastel costume are endless. Some super fun ideas are The Chanels, Almost any kind of dessert, The quintessential fairy costume, cheer captain, and Anime Lolita.

A Gay Staple: The Unicorn

Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, lgbtqa+ folks have been associating themselves with the mythological creature for decades now. And for good measure. The unicorn is one of those majestic creatures yields great importance in the world of myth for its power, dominance, and strength. However, the reason the unicorn should be a go-to Halloween costume for queer kids over something like a dragon (not to say that dragons are badass) is that it doesn’t present its strength through overt masculinity, instead, it presents an image of strength through the balance of graceful femininity and brute masculinity. It’s a perfect balance between the two.Now the fun thing about a unicorn costume is that you can make it as feminine or masculine as you’d like and as sexy or tame as you’d like. The possibilities are endless. Imagine dressing up as a fetish unicorn, a space unicorn, a ridiculously hilarious blow-up unicorn or a sexy boudoir unicorn.

Your Favourite Drag Race Alumni

It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bi, queer, or everything in between. If you’ve had the pleasure of becoming a Rupaul’s Drag Race fan, then you’ll know how sickening some of the girls that have walked through the workroom are. And you know deep down inside (like Madonna said) you want to know what it feels like for a girl. So here’s your chance. With over 100 different queens to choose from. Drag race has a plethora of queens to chose from. Even if your favourite queen’s look is too hard to achieve, you can pick any of the other queens who’s looks are easier to achieve. However, when attempting to recreating a queens look, be aware that there may be more work you can commit to last minute. Nails, makeup, tucking, and wigs are all part of the processes, but you don’t have to go full on drag. Remember, it’s your choice. Some good example of gag-worthy queens is Valentina, Alaska, and Trixie Mattel.

Video Gay-mes

Here’s where you can really start to get creative and have fun. The possibilities could be endless. Whether you want to gender bend your favourite character or recreate their entire look. Video game characters are an amazing option for a queer boy to celebrate Halloween in. The world of video games has countless iconic characters to one can emulate or borrow from. Form Square Enix and their Final Fantasy series to Nintendo’s huge game roster. In all fairness, of all the costume ideas on this list. Video games are by far the easiest to recreate since there are most likely plenty of costume stores that sell video games costumes, but there are hundreds of tutorials online on how to DIY your favourite characters looks. Some good bets could be Princess Peach, Payne, Ash Ketchum, Ivy Valentine.