Arts & Culture, Journalistic

From the Archives: “Drowning In This Frank Ocean Do Not Resuscitate”

Published July 19, 2013 for the Reykjavík Grapevine

During Frank Ocean’s Reykjavík show—the final one of his European tour—fans drowned metaphorically in the tides of his music and literally in the sea of people pushing towards the stage. 
It was great.

Swim Good
Before the show, excitement at Laugardalshöllin was palpable. Frank Ocean may not be as well known throughout Iceland as he is in the United States, however those who invested in the sold-out show demonstrated their dedication by staking out spots near the stage long before the concert was set to begin, fiercely guarding their positions.

The overexcited crowd screamed periodically as they mistook sound technicians for The Man Himself. The background music played such R&B classics as Otis Redding’s “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay,” and some whistled along impatiently while negotiating the rippling waves of the crowd.

A chant of Frank’s name rose up and died down—sounding comically foreign to an American ear. Just as Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer” reached its chorus, the man we were waiting for finally appeared on stage and even the most reserved fan couldn’t help but scream like a little schoolgirl.

Thinkin Bout You
Wearing his signature red and white striped handkerchief headband, Frank Ocean opened the show with a song about travelling all the way from California, befitting the title of his tour, ‘California Live: You’re Not Dead…2013.’

On his Tumblr page, Frank Ocean wrote, “all the travel isn’t in support of an album or anything like that really- past or ahead. there’s no label or touring firm dollars involved. all pennies from my pocket. in support of some odd daydream. ops to photograph crowds and clouds from planes. contrast all the quiet with some noise. new noise and old noise…sober crowd, faaded crowd. all welcome [sic].”

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Illustration by Megan Herbert

 
Super Rich Kids
The demographic largely corresponded to the age group most familiar with Tumblr, a ‘micro-blogging’ website popular among the Millennial Generation that Frank Ocean uses to connect most directly with his fans. There were even some surprisingly young fans in their early teens who were much too short to see the stage from the standing area. A few of their chaperones could even be spotted wandering around.

Many of these youngins were preoccupied with taking pictures and videos of Frank Ocean and themselves with Frank Ocean in the background before and during the concert, presumably to post them to social media as soon as possible. Other fans felt the need to shout the lyrics to each of Frank Ocean’s highly nuanced 
melodies.

The star mostly played the hits from ‘Channel Orange’ but mixed in “Novacane” and “Songs For Women” from ‘nostalgia, ULTRA.’ He also unveiled two new songs from an album in the works, and tested the crowd with a few deep cuts, noting that he would be impressed if they could sing along to “Golden Girl.”

We All Try
Based on the Icelandic scenery Frank Ocean posted his blog we can gather that after travelling to Germany, Sweden, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Belgium, England, Ireland and Scotland, Frank Ocean was looking forward to ending his tour here in Iceland. Although he added, “i’d tour for a year if it didn’t interrupt my recording or my weekend driving [sic].”

During his last show in Norway, Frank Ocean ended the concert abruptly after only four songs. On Tuesday he once again left the stage after performing a few songs giving many of his fans heart palpitations, however, he returned gleefully with a camera to snap a photograph of the crowd. Afterwards he said, “I probably should have said, ‘say cheese,’ or some shit like that.” And although his concert in Reykjavík lasted just under two hours, he showed no signs of exhaustion or disdain.

He ended the concert with a performance of “Wise Man,” which he said he likes to end each show with because it expresses a “core sentiment” of his. As he left the stage and his fans resurfaced, the statement, “In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were filled with joy” was projected on the backdrop. Some waded towards the stage for an encore, but it was clear that Frank Ocean had finished his tour on the note he wanted to. Until his next album release Frank Ocean’s fans will gasp for his music like fish out of water.

Note: As all photography was prohibited at the concert (which was kind of amusing in light of ALL THOSE FUCKING CELL PHONE CAMS OBSTRUCTING THE VIEW), we sent the wonderful illustrator Megan Herbert to the show so she could document it, courtroom-style. This is her illustration that you’re looking at right now. Pretty good, right?

See more of Megan Herbert’s illustrations

Read more Reykjavík Grapevine

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Arts & Culture

Ready for a YouTube Rabbit Hole? Watch Every Bill Wurtz Video ♬You’re Welcome♬

If you haven’t heard of Bill Wurtz, I’ll let him introduce himself with his own video:

What you will notice immediately about Bill Wurtz from his videos is:

  1. He’s cool
  2. He has a silky smooth singing voice
  3. He has a keyboard and isn’t afraid to use every button
  4. Neon typography is his jam
  5. His animation style evokes jazzy PowerPoint slides

With 394 videos and counting, Wurtz categorizes his YouTube channel under “science.”

His bio on billwurtz.com reads, “accidentally came to earth. it’s weird”

With videos as short as 5 seconds, many of Wurtz’s videos claim to be comprehensive and then fall comedically short.

His 9 minute “history of japan,” however, is surprisingly thorough despite being mostly a joke. Donald Trump makes an eerie appearance at minute 4:00.

And if you watch all of his videos and have some questions for Wurtz, he’ll answer them on his “euqstions” page.

Here’s a good one:

“8.26.16  3:07 pm   WHY DO YOU ANSWER QUESTIONS IN ALL LOWERCASE LETTERS?

     why do you ask questions in all capital letters”

If this doesn’t feel like a rabbit hole already, I don’t know what is.

You could watch this playlist of every Wurtz upload and just sit back and enjoy the ride. But it’s also equally exciting to pick and choose from his archive based on video titles.

If you’re not cracking up after watching ten of these videos in a row, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Either way I “hope you have a good day,” just like Bill:

 

 

 

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Arts & Culture

The Best Meryl Streep Fan Page of All Time!

Are you a fan of Meryl Streep? You’ve probably seen a lot of her movies then. And with three Oscars and countless nominations, you’ve come to expect Streep’s incredible transformations on screen for characters like Florence Foster Jenkins or Margaret Thatcher… but I bet you’ve never seen her like this:

You can thank Samantha Raye for these lovely internet gems, which she posts on the Instagram account @TasteOfStreep. As a graphic designer and actor in Brooklyn, Raye’s penchant for photoshopping Meryl Streep with food is clearly perfectly natural.

In an interview with the Cut, Raye said, “There are so many great actors that I admire, and I could go on for reams about each one. But come on, Meryl Streep tops everyone’s  list… From what I’ve seen in interviews, she has a killer sense of humor and a love of life. No apologies for who she is, and honestly, I think she seems unbelievably cool. Pair that with food, and you’ve got one stellar combo.”

But how does she come up with the food pairings? Raye told Lucky Peach, “I search the Internet and find a picture of her where something about her outfit reminds me of food.” You can read the interview for more in-depth examples.

The resulting images range from tasteful…

…to tasteless (in the best possible way).

Raye started posting in January of this year, and with every post, 2016 becomes all the richer for it. Thank you, Samantha.

 

 

 

 

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Arts & Culture

Why Won’t My Cursor Disappear While Watching HBO Go?!?!

Raised by the warm glow of the television, I would say that I have a healthy aptitude for the willing suspension of disbelief, but HBO Go is testing my freaking patience with its lousy interface.

WHY WON’T MY CURSOR DISAPPEAR WHILE I’M WATCHING HBO GO ON MY COMPUTER?!?!

No matter what I do when I am in fullscreen, my salient cursor reminds me that I’m looking at a screen instead of bearing witness to Nasir Khan‘s terrible/no good/very bad day while watching The Night Of.

Riz Ahmed is a talented actor, but he spends much of the HBO miniseries staring mournfully into the middle distance. I transformed these moments into an opportunity to illustrate how horrifingly distracting my omnipresent cursor has been in the course of my HBO Go-ing.

This video is what happens when I can’t let go of a grievance at 3 AM.

 

 

 

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Arts & Culture

Broad City for Los Angeles: Ladywood on YouTube

Fans of Broad City know how important the representation of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship is in today’s media landscape. And it wouldn’t be on Comedy Central today if it hadn’t started out as a popular webseries by the same name. If you’re searching for more non-hegemonic representations of modern femininity on YouTube in a sea of makeup tutorials, I cannot recommend Ladywood highly enough.

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This webseries is the result of an award winning filmmaker and a Groundlings actor living together and making a thing inspired by their real life friendship. With a healthy list of cast and crew, this project was certainly not shot on an iPhone. To learn more about it, read Auri and Dani’s about page.

I have to be honest, I haven’t watched Broad City nearly as much as I know I should. As a California native, I find it harder to relate to the East Coast themes in the show. The challenges West Coast life presents for 20-somethings are much different from those Abbi and Ilana face in New York City.

In LA’s Little Armenia, Auri and Dani grapple with when to sage their apartment, who to allow as a couch surfer, and how to break a ruinous juice habit. You know, pretty normal stuff for Californians.

Here’s the first episode of four:

You may recognize Auri from the “Guys Experience Periods for the First Time” Buzzfeed video she produced. It went viral and you should watch it, if you haven’t already. But first, warm up with Ladywood‘s “WTF is a Diva Cup,” also known as episode 2.

If you’ve got a lady wood (it had to be said) for this show, check out MyLadyWood.com and share the videos with all your lady friends.

 

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Arts & Culture, Photography

NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences

If you think science is sexy, then the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has the date night for you! Every Thursday, Cal Academy hosts NightLife from 6 – 10 pm for a 21+ crowd.

Not only are NightLife guests able to wander through the exhibits with cocktail in hand, but every week there is a different theme with special events and guests. So far I have heard Adam Savage speak, watched a movie with Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and watched Lower Dens play.

But my favorite part is how intimate each of the exhibits feels after hours.

The rainforest exhibit is a sealed off area that retains humidity and feels like a futuristic greenhouse

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Butterflies flutter freely

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Terrariums house amphibians and camouflaged reptiles

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This is not a two headed monster: just a gecko and his reflection

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Then there are the aquariums

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And the dioramas

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10 out of 10 recommend

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Arts & Culture

So You Watched Stranger Things and Want to Play Dungeons & Dragons?

30 years from now, will there be a cinematic ode to childhood in 2016 that revolves around Pokémon Go? Probably not.

Here’s why: children staring into their phones is not a compelling visual. You know what is? The opening scene of Stranger Things, showing four boys animatedly playing Dungeons and Dragons.

stranger-things-netflix-dungeons--dragons-1

Stranger Things follows this group of boys as they grapple with supernatural happenings in their small town. Drawing heavily from D&D mythology and ethos, the entire plot of Stranger Things could have easily been a collective creation of these boys’ table top role playing.

But you don’t have to be a prepubescent boy living in the 80s to appreciate Dungeons & Dragons. If you’ve never tangled with a 20-sided die, there’s no better time than the present.

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Photo by Diacritica via Creative Commons

I began playing D&D in 2014 after watching Freaks & Geeks and listening to the Harmontown podcast. I even wrote an article for KQED Arts about how Judd Apatow and Dan Harmon have rewritten the roleplaying geek through their television characters.

I was lucky enough to have not one, but two amazing Dungeon Masters in my life, but not everyone is so lucky. So how can you start playing Dungeons & Dragons?

If you start talking about D&D, friends and family may come out of the woodwork to show you their old character sheets and pass along their materials and wisdom. Maybe no one has ever given them the opportunity to share their nerdom before!

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But if you and everyone you know is removed from nerd culture (AKA too cool for school), you can bet there’s a comic bookstore or hobby shop in your area that has its finger on the pulse of the local D&D scene.

Often, these stores have a bulletin board where you can find calls for D&D players and Dungeon Masters. This is a great way to join a campaign or game or seek a seasoned Dungeon Master.

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But if even this fails, buy a Dungeon Master Guide, a Player Handbook and a Monster Manual and start your own campaign from scratch. It’s definitely not easy, but if 12 year-olds in the 80s could do it, so can you!

Here’s A Step-By-Step Introduction D&D for Total Beginners. It includes 7 articles that cover the following:

“Article 1: Introduction – Deals briefly with game philosophy, the basic mechanic, the adventuring party, and some important terms

Article 2: Character Creation: Mechanics – A step-by-step guide to building a first-level character

Article 3: Character Creation: Story – Some tips to building a well-rounded and interesting character

Article 5: Leveling – A check-list of things to remember when leveling up

Article 4: Basic Combat – The basics of combat: attacks, damage, armor class, movement, saves, skills

Article 6: Advanced Combat – More advanced combat techniques, spell usage, situational modifiers

Article 7: Beyond the Core – A brief discussion of non-core classes and systems (psionics, Tome of Battle, Magic of Incarnum, etc.)”

Have fun and try not to summon a Demogorgon!
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