Halloween Book

Underrated Stephen King Novels To Scare You This Halloween 

Stephen King is known as one of the kings of the horror genre. His countless novels and movie adaptations have become iconic for thriller/scary movie/book lovers everywhere. This spooky season, as the weather begins to cool and the coronavirus pandemic continues to force us to remain indoors, curl up next to the fire with one of these iconic novels by King, and make sure to keep a light on so you don’t get too scared. 

Christine: This 1983 novel follows a haunted candy apple red 1958 Plymouth Fury that has a mind of its own. Not only can this car heal itself from damage, but it also has a deep love of doo-wop music and revenge. Christine discusses themes of toxic masculinity and obsession during a time where high school hierarchies ruled the world and is one of King’s most popular novels. 

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11.23.63: This time travel narrative follows school teacher Jake Epping as he attempts to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, the portal he uses to time travel only will drop him at the same spot in history in 1958; five years before Kennedy was shot. Jake begins to learn about all the intricacies of the time-travel process as he makes his way to the watershed moment in American history. 

Needful Things: This is one of King’s worst reviewed novels, however, his fans view it as a story that was ahead of its time. The 1991 novel takes place in the community of Castle Rock as it slowly and violently begins to turn against itself. As the citizens begin to turn into creatures that exploit their low-grade rivalries and resentments towards one another, residents begin to realize that they really don’t know anything about their neighbors. 

The Long Walk: This 1979 novel takes place in a dystopian future in which society’s Super Bowl has turned into a sadistic race in which 100 men compete in a nonstop walking contest. The first prize winner will never want anything again, and the second prize winner gets killed. Walkers are given three warnings for slowing down and then are executed by the military. The entire walk is a last man standing type competition. 

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Lisey’s Story: This novel is cited to be King’s favorite, which is a little ironic considering it’s one of his lesser known works. This is likely because the type of thrills in this novel are more delicate and subtle as opposed to the in your face horrors he’s more known for. The title character of this story is the widow of a Pulitzer Prize winning author who continues to think of his wife Tabitha in his everyday life. She follows him as he deals with a crazed stalker and the confusing elements of alternate dimensions.

The Dead Zone: Johnny Smith is a young man who wakes up from a coma one day with the ability to read people’s past, present and futures through touch. He deals with a serial killer, devastating accident and the heartbreak of a lost love who moved on without him easily. Eventually, Smith finds that his powers are necessary for saving the world after he shakes a powerful politician’s hand and sees a devastating nuclear war in the future. 

The Stand: This novel is not for the faint of heart especially in 2020. Originally published in 1978, this story explores what rises within the survivors of a world-killing pandemic. After all of society vanishes, a select few are left surviving in a world with no laws, order, or authority. 

Madrid Spain

Highly-Anticipated Hotel In Madrid Opens Its Doors To A Struggling Tourism Market

Madrid made headlines this week after announcing the opening of its first grand hotel in nearly 50 years. The hotel itself is a luxury Four Seasons establishment that took nearly a decade to complete.

Leonardo da Vinci

Experts Claim Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lost Masterpiece’ Can’t Be Found Because It Never Existed

Art experts and scholars have been looking for Leonardo da Vinci’s “lost masterpiece” for years now, however, some individuals are now claiming that the search is pointless because the work doesn’t even exist. 

On October 8th the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy held a socially distanced round-table discussion with art historians Roberta Barsanti, Giancula Belli, Emanuela Ferrretti, and Cecilia Frosinini. The four historians all presented research that they claim proves the fact that da Vinci’s work is not behind a wall in Florence’s century-old town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, as previously believed. 

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These claims aren’t taken lightly either, if the historians are correct they would be disproving decades worth of research performed by Maurizio Seracini. Seracini has long advocated for high-tech scientific testing of the town hall that he believed would potentially reveal the painting. 

The painting in question is titled The Battle of Anghiari, and depicts a large battle scene that da Vinci was supposedly commissioned to paint in 1503. The historians published their own findings about the painting in an Italian language book in 2019, where they first made the shocking claim that the piece was never painted in the first place. 

They’re basing these claims on the ground that the way in which the painting was prepared would make it impossible to execute given the placement. The painting was thought to be created using a technique that involved a layer of gesso and oil, however, da Vinci couldn’t have created an image using this technique because the paint wouldn’t have held, according to the historians. Francesca Fiorani is another art historian who discussed this painting in her recent novel, The Shadow Drawing: How Science Taught Leonardo to Paint.

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“This process, which was always thought to be part of the painting, was instead meant for the preparation of the wall before the paint. Since the process to prepare the wall was not successful, Leonardo never painted on it. This means that Leonardo’s battle existed only as a cartoon, never as paint on a wall.”

The art historians also claimed at the Uffizi event that after they closely examined the traces of pigment found beneath the Palazzo Vecchio wall, they determined that a painting may have once been present there, however, it may not have even been done by da Vinci. However between 2009 and 2012, Seracini said he was able to match the same pigment to a kind of black pigment found in the Mona Lisa, one of da Vinci’s most famous paintings. 

At the Uffizi, Frosinini brought up Seracini’s findings and rebounded by stating that the specific pigment found was used widely around Italy especially during that time period, making it impossible to accurately trace if the pigment was attached to the lost painting or not.

As of right now, the only existing evidence of what The Battle of Anghiari may have looked like as a mural is a full-scale cartoon made by da Vinci himself that was made in the late 15th century. While there is little to no evidence that this painting ever actually existed, art historians are likely to continue to search for it, as it’s regarded as one of the greatest art mysteries of all time.

Netflix on Screen

‘Glow’ And ‘Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance’ Join Growing List Of Cancelled Netflix Originals

As Glow and Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance join the long and growing list of Netflix original series that receive praise from audiences everywhere only to be abruptly cancelled months later, viewers are beginning to ask the question, is Netflix killing off their series too soon?

Sense8, The OA, Santa Clarita Diet, and One Day At A Time are all examples of shows that have been cancelled after receiving critical acclaim everywhere, as well as massive social media followings. They’ve all released around two to three seasons before Netflix announced they’re getting the boot, and more times than not the series ends on a cliffhanger due to the abruptness of the cancellations. 

Now, Glow and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, have joined that list. The latter show is a prequel to the 1983 Jim Hensen movie which became famous for its intricate puppet design and animatronic use. Netflix premiered the prequel series in August of 2019, garnering near universal acclaim from critics and a slew of award nominations. It also received a 2020 Emmy for outstanding children’s program. Even with all of these positive accolades and reviews, Netflix still cancelled the series before it was able to develop further. 

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Glow on the other hand is a three-time Emmy winner, and is a show that follows the culture of female wrestling in the 1980’s. The show had three seasons and was about to start filming its fourth and final season when the pandemic hit. Now, thanks to the uncertainty regarding all things Covid-19, Netflix decided to just scrap the final season in its entirety, leaving many fans disappointed that their favorite show from the past three years won’t be receiving a proper ending. 

The way that Netflix decides what shows get renewed every year is still a mystery to the public. The streaming service has claimed that the cancellations have to do with social media presence as well as viewership, however, they never release their actual rating figures, leaving the public in the dark as to why these shows actually get cancelled. 

Netflix is notoriously known for watching the way their viewers interact with their programming. They look at analytics regarding what you watch, when you watch it, what time of year you’re watching it, what device you’re watching on, how many episodes you watch in a row, when you pause it, etc. The data gets so specific so the company has a better understanding of its customers. 

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Netflix apparently also looks at viewership mainly seven to 28 days after a series launches. They break their viewers into three categories: “starters, who watch the first episode; completers, who finish a show in its launch window; and watchers, a measure of all subscribers who watch a show. The more who finish a season within the first 28 days, the higher Netflix regards the show, it seems.”

This algorithm, however, is putting Netflix in the hot seat more and more, as fans are growing tired of paying more monthly for a service that keeps cancelling the shows audiences grow a deep connection too. Glow being one of the biggest and most recent examples of this, even the cast and crew working for the show went online to express their extreme disappointment in Netflix’s decision, showing that the individuals involved in the making of these shows are left in the dark just as much as the rest of the world when it comes to how/why certain shows don’t get renewed.

By exclusively looking at the viewership of a show within its first month of launching, Netflix is excluding an entire audience of individuals who have yet to discover the show, get Netflix, catch up with said show, etc. There’s a complete market of viewers that they’re choosing to ignore and while there’s been signs from management that this style of renewing would shift, the Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the entire entertainment industry on its head in general, so who’s to say. 

NYC Broadway

Study Finds Only 20% Of New York Theater Productions Are Written By People Of Color

In an annual study released by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, it has been found that there are major gaps in racial representation and wage amounts when it comes to white writers versus people of color writers on the New York stage. In the same regard, some theater non-profits were listed as spending up to six times the amount of money on white actors when compared to actors of color. 

“The Visibility Report: Racial Representation on NYC Stages” analyzed the 18 largest non-profit theaters, as well as Broadway production companies in New York, that occurred during the 2017-2018 season. The report did find that the year gave Broadway it’s first play written by an Asian American, Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, however, it also warned against celebrating small victories like this, as they can “often serve as the poster child of diversity for a particular season, encouraging a false sense of progress.”

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The fact that it’s taken Broadway this long in general to hire an Asian American playwright has been staggering for many critics in the report, and many realize that the 2017-2018 season is only further reflecting the systemic inequalities of racial representation on and off the stage in New York. 

In the 2016-2017 report, it was found that 86.6% of all Broadway and off-Broadway shows were written by white people and 97% of all directors were white. This year, the numbers dipped slightly with 80% of writers and 86% of all directors being white, but essentially, these numbers have always been around the same. 

The report showed that when it came to on stage performers, 60% of all roles on New York City stage went to white actors; to give it some perspective only about 32% of all New York City residents are white, so the on stage roles aren’t reflecting the off stage reality. 23% of all roles went to black actors while only 6.9% went to Asian American actors. 6.1% went to Latino actors, 2% went to Middle Eastern or North African actors, and only .02% went to Indigenous actors. 

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The study was released months after more than 300 stage artists of color signed a letter addressed to “white American theater” as an institution, and called them out for the complete lack of representation on and off the stage, a well as the lack of opportunities made available for people of color on the NYC stage. 

“We have watched you un-challenge your white privilege, inviting us to traffic in the very racism and patriarchy that festers in our bodies, while we protest against it on your stages. We have watched you promote anti-blackness again and again.”

The report also found that when it came to actor wages, non-profit theaters in NYC spent $1.70 for every $1 spent on an actor of color. The wage gaps vary by company but to give an example the Roundabout Theater spent $6.09 on white actors for ever $1 spent on actors of color; the Atlantic Theater was $1.46 for every $1, and the report claimed that a similar gap was “highly likely” to exist on the Broadway stage, however, Broadway productions don’t publish their salaries. 

The end of the study worked to give a similar impact as the 300-page letter, and called upon NYC theater companies to start reflecting the diversity of the streets on the actual stage. When theater reopens in 2021 (tentatively) it will be a unique moment of opportunity for New York to expand their horizons and catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to equality.

Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum

Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum Finalizing Depot Project With Over 150,000 Exhibits

Smack in the middle of Rotterdam is a structure that curves over 120 feet in the air and reflects the clouds through its walls of mirrored glass. The Boijmans Van Beuningen museum now has a new open storage extension that will contain collections of over 150,000 objects from a wide variety of collections. 

Art handlers are projected to begin moving pieces from the museum’s archives in December of this year, and it will open fully to the public late 2021. The building was originally a massive warehouse, but thanks to the Dutch design firm MVRDV, it has been transformed into a structure that staff are referring to as The Depot. 

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Instead of keeping their most valuable jewels and pieces behind closed doors, the museum invested $50 million into an “open storage” concept with the Depot, which is an extension of the museum itself. The museum can currently only display about 8% of the pieces that the Boijmans museum has collected throughout the years, so the whole point of the Depot is to give museum goers the opportunity to see how vast that entire collection actually is. 

This is one of the first times in history that a museum will be building an open-storage facility to this degree. Sjarel Ex is the Boijman’s director who recently spoke with the press about how after a flood in 2013, his team knew they needed to make a change in how they stored and displayed the works that they’ve collected. 

“What’s the English expression – ‘out of sight, out of mind’? So much of what museums do happens in the dark. We wanted to bring some of it into the light.”

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Winy Maas is one of the main architects who’s been working tirelessly on the Depot and explained how difficult it’s been to create “vault-like conditions” in a regular public building structure. The structure also had to be divided into five different “climate zones” with various temperature settings, as certain pieces of art need to be stored in specific conditions to maintain their beauty. 

Museums in the past have done expansion projects such as this one and the main issue has always been the amount of space they take up. The concern is over how much more certain museum collections will continue to expand. 150,000 pieces of art seems like an unfathomable amount, but considering the museum has been around since 1935, it makes sense that they would’ve curated that many works, so what will happen within the next decade when that collection expands even further?

Ex is aware that this project is very experimental, and with that comes the risk of failure, however, he seems more enthusiastic than concerned when it comes to the opening. Regardless, the project marks a monumental transition for the way humans experience history and culture at these establishments. Museums all over the country are beginning to work on projects that will expand their retail space and allow for even more collections of art to be displayed to the public. 

The redeveloped Museum of Modern Art in New York City now allows for an additional 15,000 square feet of gallery space that extends on six floors. The V&A announced an open-storage project that will open in London in 2023 and allow for over 250,000 pieces of art to be displayed throughout. For now, only time will tell how successful these massive expansion projects actually are.

Reading Book

JK Rowling’s New Book Faces Accusations Of Transphobia 

JK Rowling’s under fire this week after it was revealed that the main character in her new novel, Troubled Blood, is a male serial killer named Dennis Creed who dresses up in a woman’s coat and wig to get away with entering “female spaces” so he can murder them. The characterization has faced accusations of transphobia due to the fact that Rowling herself has made questionable comments in the past regarding transgender people’s right to enter certain gendered spaces based on how they personally identify. 

Rowling defended her novel’s plot by claiming that the story line is based on two real-life murders. The novel was released this week and after a review from Telegraph, the internet exploded with accusations of transphobia, ignorance, and general disregard for the community Rowling has been adamantly debating with for months. 

In the book, Creed lures his victims into his van by wearing women’s clothing, however, the novel never describes him as trans or as a cross-dresser, so the lines have been blurred for some reviewers. As previously mentioned Rowling also revealed this week that Creed was “loosely based on real-life killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams.” 

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Brudos killed four women in Oregon in the 1960’s and was known for stealing female underwear from his neighbours as a child; a characteristic Rowling also gave to Creed. According to past reports from Brudos’ killings, there was evidence of a “large man dressed in women’s clothing in a garage” where Brudos would later kidnap one of his victims. Williams murdered two women and was sentenced to life in prison ten years ago. He also was known for stealing female undergarments.  

According to Rowling, trans issues aren’t even part of the books plotline, and instead the main themes regard personal journeys and struggles with feminist ideals. 

“Change, loss and absence are the biggest themes of the book, but it also explores the changing face of feminism and ideals and stereotypes of femininity … through the cast of characters.”

The novel follows private detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott as they investigate the case of Margot Bamborough, who vanished 10 years prior. Bamborough is described as a feminist who was approaching her 30s, in the midst of a divorce and navigating motherhood. 

“It’s my favorite of the series by far and I think the length is necessary to do the story justice.”

This is the fifth installment in the Strike series and runs just over 900 pages long. According to Rowling, she always knew the book would be lengthy and because the investigation is meant to take place over the course of one year, she wanted to make sure the story was developed enough to read as such. 

The Oscars

The Oscars Announce New Diversity Requirements For ‘Best Picture’ Eligibility 

Within the past few years, the Oscars have come under major fire for their lack of diversity in nominations across all categories. Some may remember the many times that “#OscarsSoWhite” began trending shortly after the nomination lists were announced. It’s been a similar pattern among all of the major award ceremonies, but now, the Oscars are attempting to right some of their past wrongs with a list of new “representation and inclusion requirements” for films nominated for Best Picture. 

This past Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that movies in the Big Picture category will only receive the nomination if they check off every box on their list of new representation standards. The Academy recently released a statement regarding these new standards which will be a part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative. 

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“These standards were designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.” 

The 2020 Oscars in particular received major backlash for a huge lack of diversity within all categories. Even in terms of gender equality, one third- of the nominations were women – a step up from years past – however, there were no female nominees for Best Director, despite the fact that a majority of the year’s most popular films were directed by women. The most staggering aspect of this past year’s ceremony was the fact that only one person of color was nominated for one of the acting categories. 

These new standards for diversity will begin to be phased in with the 94th Oscar ceremony in 2022. For the years in between, a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be submitted for any film that’s eligible for Best Picture, however, the form isn’t a list of requirements. Starting in 2024, films will have “to meet two out of four newly created standards to be eligible for Best Picture.”

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The standards are listed by categories A through D, with subcategories. Standard A discusses on-screen representation, themes, and narratives, specifically, at least one of the lead actors must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group (which they go on to list), and at least 30% of all “actors in secondary and more minor roles are at least from two underrepresented groups.” The main storyline must also center around an underrepresented group: women, racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ community, individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities. 

Standard B covers more of the behind the scenes making of a film. This standard claims that at least two of the following leadership positions must be done by an individual in an underrepresented group: Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer. The standard then gets more specific with other level positions on set. 

Standard C regards “industry access and opportunities,” meaning that any film’s financial sector must pay apprentices and interns who are members of underrepresented groups, as well as ensuring they have a multitude of substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups. 

Finally, Standard D discusses overall audience development. According to the standards subcategories, “the studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from underrepresented groups on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.” To read all the specifics of the Academy’s new Best Picture requirements, click here.

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

John Boyega Claims Non-White Roles Are ‘Pushed To The Side’ In Star Wars Franchise 

British actor John Boyega recently spoke with the media and criticized the treatment of all non-white actors on the set of the most recent Star Wars film. Boyega claims that all POC actors may have been marketed as important and crucial elements to the storyline, but the reality was they were “ultimately pushed to the side.” Boyega specifically mentioned how his role as stormtrooper Finn had more of a crucial story line in his first film, but his character’s relevance faded in the latter episodes of the trilogy.  

“What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

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Boyega went on in the interview to claim that his fellow non-white actors Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac all agreed and had their characters suffer similar fates as the trilogy progressed. However, white actors Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley had taken more of a leading role playing Kylo Ren and Rey. 

“They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.” He discussed how one of the biggest issues that always arises when POC speak up about injustices within their industry, they often are accused of “making it up” or being “overly sensitive,” when the reality is they’re expressing a very real issue within the industry. 

His biggest claim that in general, Star Wars just didn’t know what to do with non-white characters after having strictly white casts for a majority of the franchises existence. 

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“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you.”

Boyega recently went viral for expressing his thoughts on racial injustices in the world in a video that spread around social media in June. In the video Boyega is emotional and angry as he gives a heartfelt speech at an anti-racism demonstration in London following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police. 

Boyega may not have been in the industry for that long, however, in his short time working in Hollywood he’s managed to make a major impact. Not only was he involved in one of the largest film franchises in the world, but he also was never one to shy away from speaking up against the injustices he faced and witnessed on a daily basis. 

In his speech at the Black Lives Matter rally in London, one of the most memorable quotes regarded the actual meaning of BLM: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”

Boyega has remained diligent in his efforts to expose the racial issues in Hollywood while also trying to help the Black Lives Matter movement as much as he can from quarantine. If one thing’s for sure based on his most recent interview, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Whitney Museum NYC

Whitney Museum Cancels Exhibit Highlighting Work Around ‘BLM’ And Covid-19 Amid Controversy

The Whitney Museum announced this week that they would be cancelling an exhibition that was meant to center around the Black Lives Matter movement as well as Covid-19. They made this decision after the public learned that the museum had taken a lot of the artwork that was done predominately by Black artists without their permission and at an extremely discounted price. 

The many different art pieces were intended to be in a collection titled Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change, and was acquired by the museum at a See In Black print sale. See In Black was a photography fundraiser meant to aid many Black organizations and charities. However, the artists who had their work bought by the museum claim that none of them were properly consulted or paid for the transaction. 

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This came to light after the Whitney director of research resources, Farris Wahbeh, emailed all the artists informing them that the museum acquired their work for its special collection. The collection was going to be scheduled for September 17th to January 3rd, 2021, and in the email Wahbeh also informed the artists that they would receive a lifetime museum pass in exchange for their personal information. 

The See In Black fundraising began on Juneteenth this year with its first print sale. Each piece for that fundraiser was priced at $100, and helped get the world out on what the organization was doing. The Whitney museum then acquired works from 79 different artists for its collection. Antwaun Sargent is an art critic who helped expose the Whitney for their lack of communication and compensation with the artists. 

She noted that museums normally take months to go through the process of acquiring new artwork as it has to go through several committees before receiving approval. However, the Whitney can technically skip all those steps when curating pieces to be in a limited collection. See In Black responded to these actions by the Whitney with extreme disappointment and claimed they completely went against their mission of “investing materially in Black communities.” 

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“The Whitney’s use of the works acquired through See in Black constitutes unauthorized use of the works to which the artists do not consent and for which the artists were not compensated. Furthermore, See in Black is not affiliated with the Whitney’s exhibition.”

Many of the artists also took to Twitter to express their extreme frustration in the Whitney’s use of an acquisition loophole to get out of properly paying Black artists for their work, while also using it to profit off potential ticket sales. Shortly after See In Black made their public statement the Whitney responded by announcing the preemptive closing of the exhibition. 

The statement claimed that the museum would be careful in the future when it came to giving artists their proper dues for their work, however, many of the artists and museum-goers in general aren’t so convinced, as this is not the first time the Whitney has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. 

Last year, the Whitney was under fire for its association with Warren B. Kanders, who was a former board member for the museum. Kanders ran a company that also manufactures tear gas to be used by federal police and border control. The museum also is one of many culture institutions that received a PPP loan between $5-$10 million, despite laying off 76 staff members the same month. 

As of right now the Whitney is expected to reopen on September 3rd.