Category Archives: Arts and Culture

Flux Playlist: Musical Mania

We here at the Pulse are a ways away from Broadway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate musicals! In fact, we’re rather dedicated fans. From Rent, to Willy Wonka, to Avenue Q, our tastes are varied and vivid. Let each song choice bring you into a small slice of a larger story. Take a listen, then go check out the soundtracks!

 

Rache’ll

Gay or European – Legally Blonde: The Musical
Magic Dance – Labyrinth
Another Day – Rent

Sam

Murder, Murder! – Jekyll & Hyde
If You Were Gay – Avenue Q
Beggin’ – Jersey Boys

Sarah

Seize the day – Newsies
I Got Life – Hair
Any Dream Will Do – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Emily

Defying Gravity – Wicked
Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind – Spring Awakening
Pretty Women – Sweeney Todd

Marissa

Try To Remember – The Fantasticks
Out Tonight – Rent
Seventy Six Trombones – The Music Man

Casey

Up There – South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Pure Imagination – Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian

On Trend: Style Profile-Andrew Van Asselt

Andrew

-Rache’ll Brown

At age 25, Eugenian Andrew Van Asselt has established himself in the Pacific Northwest as both a designer and an activist. As the owner of Coalition for Justice clothing (pictured below) and director of the Abolition Project fashion show (which is held annually spring/fall on campus), Van Asselt has worked to raise awareness for human trafficking and the mistreatment of women and children for the past two years. His motto? Do good, look good—and he does just that with a clean and simplistic style.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I’ve always been interested [in fashion] and I’ve always been one to set trends. I remember in first grade I would wear something and about three months later people would be wearing it. The same thing happens when I design something—it just happened this past fall. I designed a jacket, then this spring I went to a department store and BAM! The same jacket I made was right there. I like that fashion is a living art piece, and I like looking good. I love to have people judge me on my clothing when they meet me or see me. I want my first impression to be a good one, and usually that happens when I walk in the door. I say a thousand things before my mouth ever opens to say hello.

What would you say is your ideal outfit?

Some good jeans in slim fit, a scoop neck or v-neck t-shirt, and a great jacket. Not a North Face, but a good jacket. Layering is necessary. Also, a watch that is classy and clean, and not too bright or bling-y, like a Nixon watch. Add a clean pair of shoes and you’re set. Also, accessories always make the outfit, so sunglasses are usually key.

Where do you get inspiration?

I get inspiration from the people around me: my friends and family, Scandinavia and Europe, but most of all God.

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What are the best aspects of fashion?

The creativity. You have style, and that makes fashion personal. And it’s always changing.

If you had to wear one specific article of clothing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I would say nice dark denim jeans. It goes so well with everything. You can wear a blazer with it, or you can dress it down with a plain white t-shirt. It just goes with so much, and a dark wash makes you look thinner and taller.

Any advice for men or women struggling to define their style?

I would say to start by looking at yourself and ask, “What do I want to say to people with my clothes?” Like it or not, we judge people by the way they look. Just start small and build up, and look at [stylish] people and trends.

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Bottom image from http://coalitionforjustice.co.

Do Not Fail The Snail Mail

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-Marissa Tomko

“Okay, I’ll send you a letter!” said no one ever.

But really, be honest. When is the last time someone mailed you a personal letter? I bet you remember because you either a) noticed how thoughtful it was, or b) thought it was weird, or, c) some combination of the two because who doesn’t love thoughtfulness and weirdness?

In any case, I think that there is something so beautiful about a handwritten letter, and it’s sad they don’t hold as much relevance in today’s society. The combination of seeing somebody’s handwriting scrawled across the page, the postdate stamp looking all artistic, and the sheer idea of receiving mail all make me feel giddy and nostalgic.

My parents raised my brother and I as strict thank-you noters—not a single gift or birthday card goes unthanked by either of us. As a kid, I was in constant correspondence with my sister-in-law who, looking back, was such a trooper for putting up with my lengthy notes idolizing her. Waiting for her mystical, fairy-sticker-covered letters was part of my daily ritual. Even now, I find myself writing letters to friends who have found themselves around the world and lacking constant access to computers. That is precisely the reason that letters have fallen out of style: technological advances.

A study cited by the Wall Street Journal found that the average time since an adult put a pen to paper for any reason was forty-one days, and in the past two decades, the US Postal Service noted that the number of letters mailed dropped by 10 billion.

Of course, there is surely something to the modern day email and text message. They’re instantaneous, you can send them from your smartphone, and they’re so much easier to edit and send to multiple people. But what will our children have to read? Instead of leafing through Love Letters of Great Men, will they be Googling “One Hundred Ways To Say ‘Love Ya’ With Emoticons?”

There is also the matter of etiquette. If a member of a friend’s family passes, do you shoot them an email? No. You send them a letter of condolence. It’s the polite thing to do. And what if you receive an generous gift from your grandmother who still thinks Apple is just a fruit? You can’t really iMessage her sweet soul, you have to send her a nice note!

A friend recently showed me Handiemail, a website that can write out your emails or type out your letters. So crazy that it just might work? Eh, I think it’s just crazy. Half of the fun of letters is being able get to know someone through their handwriting. You might tell me I’m still hanging on to being 16-years-old, but I definitely still have cards and notes from my high school boyfriend tucked away because of how cute and horrible his handwriting was. Being able to look back on something like that with a smile is not possible if some random machine did it for you.

Even if you aren’t trying to profess your love or say you’re sorry to someone, take ten or twenty minutes sometime this week and write a nice letter. Maybe you want to thank your roommate’s family for hosting you last weekend, or maybe you have a friend at another school who you haven’t had time to call lately. Imagine their surprise if they were to receive a letter, in the mail—the real mail! I can think of few things more thoughtful.

When the Music’s Over: R.I.P. Ray Manzarek

The Doors album

-Casey Klekas

The Doors has been one of my favorite bands since I was old enough to have favorite bands. I don’t remember the first time I heard them because they were the soundtrack (along with Cream and Creedence) to my early childhood. My memories stream “Light My Fire,” “Break On Through,” and “Soul Kitchen over the weeks in Lake Powell, inside speedboats fitted with more speakers than life-jackets.

My special connection with The Doors continued through my pubertal awakening. When I was eighteen and in Paris, I ducked out of my class’s day-trip to Versailles and made the pilgrimage to Jim Morrison’s grave inside Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery home to Balzac, Chopin, Jacques-Louis David, Eugène Delacroix, Merleau-Ponty, Proust, and Oscar Wilde, to name just a few. It was truly a religious experience for me. My Blessed Sacrament was performed with Jack Daniels, and my sacred hymn was “When the Music’s Over.”

I am one of those who think that The Doors were a foursome, not just three guys behind the vocals of Jim Morrison. Jim died in 1971 when he was only 27-years-old. His band members, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger, have long outlived him. On Monday, Jim was finally given some company.

Ray Manzarek played organ and piano, among many other instruments, for The Doors, and it was apparently his conception to start a band in the first place. Manzarek’s battle with cancer ended Monday, May 20th. He was 74.

I often play the thought experiment of substituting band members out of my favorite groups to find which are essential and which are disposable. I’ve done this with The Beatles, and I’m sorry to say Ringo is as indispensable as George. I’ve come to realize that most truly great bands are so because of the unique fusion of their members. This is true of The Doors.

Ray Manzarek first recognized the poetic talent of his film school classmate Jim Morrison in Venice, California. Manzarek was a musical genius of extraordinary talents, and when they formed a band with Densmore and Krieger he took on more roles than one. He often used one hand to play bass on a piano and the other hand on his VOX Continental organ. Indeed, sometimes he would have to combine this with lead singing, such as when Morrison accepted a few too many psychedelic offerings before a show in Amsterdam.

The Doors were a band that mastered the solo. This is evident in the poetic incantations of Jim Morrison and the slide guitar of Krieger. But Manzarek’s notes are the ones that I seem to remember best, the ones that define the sound of The Doors. If you know The Doors well, you’ll know exactly when the organ breaks into an orgiastic solo.

Manzarek’s organ is as essential to The Doors as Morrison’s voice. He set the tone for the music of the Doors, something wholly unique and hence immortal. Here’s to a man that still makes me pound my fingers on the dashboard in an ecstatic want of mimicry.

On Trend: Style Profile – Torrey Hicks

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-Rache’ll Brown

Twenty-four pairs of designer jeans ranging from True Religion to Dolce & Gabbana—twenty-four pairs. Freshman Torrey Hicks has an admiration for watches and a love for a crisp and classic look, but his obsession for denim trumps all. After leaving swanky Southern California for laid-back Eugene, Hicks has learned to adapt to the local uniform while still holding true to his roots. We chatted about fashion inspiration, style necessities, and warm weather wear; this business administration major knows a thing or two about men’s fashion.

How would you describe you style?

I would describe my style as modern casual.  I like to wear timeless pieces that have a fashionable touch to them.  A pair of True Religions, v-neck Lacoste shirt, and a pair of fresh shoes is the way to go.

Who, or what, inspires your look?

Because what I wear is kind of mainstream, I don’t really have any icons. But GQ magazine always gives me ideas on how to complete my look. Also, men such as Zac Efron and Ryan Seacrest have that timeless look that I tend to gravitate toward.

What is something in your wardrobe that you think is a necessity to invest in?

Every man should invest in a nice pair of dark wash designer jeans for his wardrobe. A nice watch is also a necessity—nothing completes a causal outfit like a classy timepiece.

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What advice do you have for someone who lacks in the style department?

I would say to just read fashion magazines and pop culture articles. And if you’re really desperate and it’s your taste, Nordstrom offers a personal stylist.

How could you describe the perfect out for spring and summer?

During spring and summer, when the sun starts shining, it’s time to unleash the shorts.  An everyday go-to outfit could be chino shorts in any light color with a light button-down cotton shirt. As for shoes, Rainbow sandals or causal boat shoes are the way to go.

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Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Obsessed Culture

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-Emily Fraysse

I play “Magic: The Gathering,” have a collection of all the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings DVDs, display a Where the Wild Things Are poster, read graphic novels such as V for Vendetta and Watchmen, and watch anime films like Spirited Away.

I believe that we are not only the “lost culture” in the ways of being glued to our cell phones and iPods, but that we are “lost” in the realm of these make-believe lands, characters, and stories. I find that today more people are open to reading graphic novels and comics, and are obsessed with pop culture, horror, sci-fi, anime, gaming, film, and fantasy in general. While the range of fantasy literature is vast, it usually involves a type of magic in an imaginary world and plays out stereotypes like clever thieves, wizards, dangerous monsters, and dark threats. The gaming industry has contributed to pop culture as well as advancing videogame technology. This has had a sociological, psychological, and cultural impact on the individuals who play, as well as the rest of civilization.

Men and women alike gather at Comic Cons around the world, dressed to the nines in homemade or store-bought costumes of sci-fi or fantasy characters. For that day, they get to look and live like their obsession or merely a favored individual.  Just as Michelangelo sculpted his iconic, muscular statue of David, many of the characters seen in these genres epitomize what the male and female bodies are supposed to look like. The men tend to look built, fit, and agile, while the women tend to look beautiful, thin, and wear revealing clothing.

Much of fantasy-themed literature and gaming emphasizes the male ideals of heroism, responsibility, and power. In the popular game Skyrim, the hero spends his or her time running around a vast world, going on daunting quests, collecting weapons, improving skills, and battling demonic animals in order to protect the relatively peaceful community that they live in. The same ideals are seen in J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales of the Ring or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The lands are spectacular, imaginative works of splendid beauty like ancient forests, forgotten caves, and little villages. Usually, years of thought and grueling work goes into them, as seen in the film The Indie Game, which highlights the history of gaming, the tedious process that gaming developers go through, and the effect that it has on consumers.

“It’s not just a game,” Phil Fish, creator of the game Fez, said in the film. “I’m so closely attached to it. This is my identity.” His game sold 20,000 units the first day it debuted and a year later hit the 200,000 mark.

In a society that constantly seems to be dealing with an overwhelming amount of unsolved problems and issues, gaming allows the user an escape to become a part of a different world. Despite the ideals of grandeur that the quirky tales and characters play out, the underlying grand themes are displayed in a sort of juvenile and child-like tenor. It is almost like regular gamers should be diagnosed with the Peter Pan effect—they reach out to these games to enter another world, where making a potion or combat have no serious consequence other than having the potion go wrong or losing a leg during the battle and grudgingly having to restart the game. But it also goes deeper than that. It is a way of communication, a relation with a character. Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid, said his game was “making it was about ‘let me take my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and put them in the game.’” And that was exactly what he did.

Image by Andy Simmons.

The Big (Photo) Shop of Horrors: Drowning in Skinny Plastic Figures

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-Emily Fraysse

H&M has hired a real, human model who has a real, live, “normal” human body.

The model, Jennie Runk, happens to be a size 12.

Often scrutinized by the media for editing or creating computer-generated models, the Swedish Goliath retail store, H&M, features a “plus-size” model for their new swimwear line.

Posing in the season’s summer wear was a refreshing face and body when it comes to H&M’s past modeling disasters. The media went nuts for the “big news” and, supposedly, size 12 mannequins were being used in certain retail locations.  Brushing it off like it was no big deal, the company made no press announcement or any other hint that they were doing it. They just decided one day to stick her in there with the rest of the skinny girls.

“Our aim is not to convey a certain message or show an ideal,” H&M spokeswoman Jennifer Ward tells Quartz, “but to find a model who can illustrate this collection in an inspiring and clear way.” But, it was not necessarily the company’s intention to showcase “real women.” Initially, they rejected the idea when they were collaborating with Versace in 2011.

I needed to see what all this fuss was about, so I hopped onto the H&M website. The first photo on the main page: Beyoncé. A little lower on the page and I see the smokin’ bod of David Beckham. So, where is Jennie Runk? I go to Women’s swimwear. Nothing. At the very bottom of the left hand column is the “H+M Size 14-24.” Ah, there she is. Only one photo. Was she originally on the homepage and then got taken down due to the amount of publicity and backlash? Or was it just the ever-so fast-paced seasons that bumped her to one of the pages deeper in the site? I mean, technically summer hasn’t even hit yet, so shouldn’t she be there promoting the new swimwear line?

Well H&M, I applaud your sly move of promoting “real women” by hiding her on the site. Real, great marketing has taken hold of what is seen in the mainstream fashion. I guess we just made it out to be a bigger deal than H&M intended and, consequently, diminished the point of trying to subtly feature her in the first place. Maybe it is the public and media’s fault for making this out to be a huge deal, or maybe, with the history the company has with Photoshop, the public was astonished by the transition into the reality of the real bodies of women.

Segregated Proms and Social Media

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-Casey Klekas

This year marks the 150th anniversary since President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It has been sixty years since Brown v. Board of Education declared racial segregation unconstitutional. And it has been fifty years since Dr. Martin Luther King gave his imperishable “I Have a Dream” speech, addressed not just to those at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial, but to every person in the United States, from the “snow-capped Rockies of Colorado” to the “Stone Mountain of Georgia.” It has been fifty years, and yet the word “segregated” still rings in some parts of the United States.

My generation hasn’t had much more than a Hollywood encounter with segregated schools or the unavoidable pains of integration. My first experience with the history of racial segregation probably came through Forrest Gump (“Ma’am, you dropped your book.”). This period, while undoubtedly unforgettable, is still just a distant chapter in our history books.

Well, at least that’s what I thought until I stumbled across headlines that read, “Georgia students organize their own, integrated prom,” and “Segregated prom tradition yields to unity.”

For those of you who are well aware of this “phenomenon” (I don’t know what else to call it), please forgive me. For those of you who, like me, were convinced that segregation died in the ‘60s and ‘70s, you might be as shocked as I was when I found out that in some parts of the American south, school dances are still organized according to skin color.

The ruling in Brown v. Board of Education said that segregated schools were unconstitutional, and that, “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Chief Justice Earl Warren fought to make it a unanimous decision (nine-zero) so as to quell any further legal opposition. In order to get a nine-zero decision, Warren made the concession of leaving an open timetable to the implementation of school integration. Schools gradually became integrated or they closed down. But some traditions such as school dances were difficult to integrate with force. Some proms were no longer sanctioned by the school but were instead privately organized by students and parents so dances could remain racially segregated.

This tradition has been difficult to buck. “White proms” were normally invitation-only, while “black proms” remained largely open to all.

There have been several famous acts of resistance to this tradition, like in 1997, when actor Morgan Freeman offered to sponsor an integrated high school prom in his hometown of Charlestown, Mississippi. His offer was denied. Ten years later, he made the offer again. This time, it was accepted. This event inspired a documentary Prom Night in Mississippi.

Only a few counties in the southern states still hold separate proms based on variations in pigment. Until Saturday, April 28, 2013, Wilcox, Georgia, was one such county. Four girls came up with the idea of breaking with tradition and making their high school prom integrated. To raise money and awareness, they created a Facebook page, which brought in more than enough money to rent a ballroom and offer party gifts to every couple.

The pictures of happy couples at the dance look like any other prom pictures of nervous high schoolers with awkward smiles and silly hats.

The first two statuses on the group’s page are about local fundraisers, including the “Barbecue Chicken Plate Sale,” as well as donation opportunities for those across the country. The next few read something like, “We would like to thank everyone all over the world who have given to this Prom and cause from the depths of your heart.” Then the countdown begins. “4 MORE DAYS!!!! *SCREAMING* :-)”. The Saturday of the dance read, “TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!!! SO BEYOND EXCITED 🙂 *BUTTERFLIES IN OUR STOMACHS AND SCREAMING WITH EXCITEMENT*.”

Each picture and status update has hundreds, if not thousands of “likes” and heartening comments. Don’t be surprised if you get teary-eyed.

The courage of the students who organized, attended, and got down on the dance floor at Wilcox High School’s first integrated prom makes me proud to think that the spirit of brotherhood that sustained the Civil Rights Movement is alive and well in the Facebook generation.

Image by Shalimar Flower Shop.

On Trend: Dressing for Formal Occasions

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-Rache’ll Brown

Spring may be known for the beautiful weather and colorful flowers, but in my book it is also defined by another event: formal season. From sorority and fraternity formals, to  weddings, graduations, and more, May to September seems to be jam-packed with events that require dressing to the nines. In some cases, formal events can be tricky. How much is too much? What is too casual? But fear not, I’m here to help!  Take these tips to be appropriate at any upcoming event that may hold a dressier tone.

To start, scope out the event to figure out what would be deemed appropriate. I like to ask other guests I know what they will be wearing, or just use prior experience to gauge the situation. Next, depending on the event, follow a little style guide that fits the occasion. For weddings, don’t wear everyday clothes. This is a special occasion, and attendees’ outfits should reflect that. For ladies, a nice sundress with sandals or wedges is suitable, and slacks and a dress shirt are perfect for men. Don’t go too flashy unless the invitation says black-tie, and don’t be that person who wears jeans to a wedding. That’s just rude.

As for formals, think back to high school homecoming: short and playful dresses are the way to go; leave the floor length princess dresses behind. I try to stay away from black, especially in spring, but I also don’t seek out over-the-top prints. Classic, simple pieces will always be in style, and accessorizing will take a look a long way.

Most importantly, an outfit should make the wearer feel confident and comfortable. I won’t fuss over heels if they are too high and I can’t walk in them—I look a thousand times better owning a pair of flats than teetering around in stilts. I look for clothes that suit my body type and make me feel amazing because it’s not worth being trendy if I feel self-conscious. In any situation, dressing appropriately is extremely important, but wearing an outfit that just screams you is key.

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Discovering Hidden Gems: Flea Markets

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-Emily Fraysse

Right there, displayed in front of me, was a perfect, authentic pair of ruby red Chanel pumps for twenty bucks. They were exactly two shoes sizes too small for me.

Every time a new month began, I looked forward to one thing: the flea market in Alameda, California. Around six a.m. of the first Sunday of every month, I would drive with friends and family to an island located next to Oakland and across the way from the fog-ridden city of San Francisco. The sunrise loomed above us as we walked towards to entrance, each of us holding a cup of coffee in our hand.

Flea markets can be overwhelming. Different vendors displaying vintage items from clothing to taxidermy to just about anything and everything imaginable. But, it’s worth it. Through a careful scope of each row of vendors, you have the ability to find hidden gems that are unique and cheap. It’s amazing how time and money can disappear so fast while getting lost in the market.

The craziest thing that I have ever bought was a vintage, white bed frame and headboard, two white side tables, a giant white mirror, and a vintage seafoam green dresser for a total of $500. The vendor had used Ralph Lauren paints on all of the items and sanded them down a bit to make them look older. It was a steal.

There are a variety of flea markets along the west coast that are definitely worth checking out. The Alameda Flea Market, which is where I always went, is the second largest flea market in California. There are many in California, Washington, and Oregon.

A bit of advice for going to flea markets: sometimes there is a fee to get in, so the earlier you go, the more you’ll have to pay since you are looking at the vendors first. Bring a piece of paper or take notes on your phone of vendors that you might want to go back to.

Although sifting through each of the vendors wares can seem daunting, running across those unique finds is worth it.