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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.

Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day Honors And Celebrates Native American History And Culture

All across the country various states and cities are hosting virtual or outdoor events this Monday October 12th to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday meant to celebrate and honor Native American traditions and culture. 

 Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia and more than 130 cities officially observe Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. The initial notion of this day taking over Columbus Day first emerged at an international conference on discrimination sponsored by the United Nations in 1977. In 1989 South Dakota became the first state to recognize the day as a national holiday; the cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz in California followed shortly thereafter. California and Tennessee also celebrate Native American Day in September every year, which is celebrated the same way.

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While there are some groups across the country that argue Columbus Day celebrates Italian-American heritage, many others think that by naming a holiday after Columbus, we are further glorifying colonization and the exploration of America that led to one of the biggest genocides in human history of native peoples; which also paved the way for slavery. 

Columbus may be credited as the person who first “discovered” the New World but the reality is millions of people had already been inhabiting the Americas for centuries prior. Columbus made four major expeditions to the Caribbean and South America over the course of twenty years. During these two decades he enslaved and decimated complete communities of Native Americans, which ended up starting a massive trend of westernization and European colonization across the world. 

There have been multiple incidences across the nation of groups calling for the removal of Columbus monuments, as well as any confederate generals, as a means of respecting the cultures that these leaders completely destroyed through colonization. Several Columbus statues throughout America were taken down this summer amid the protests for George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. 

Columbus, Ohio, a city literally named for the explorer, also removed their Columbus statue outside of its city hall. President Trump, however, has campaigned to protect monuments and end programs that want to teach America’s youth about the reality of Christopher Columbus and what his “discovery” actually entailed for the millions of Native people whose homes he invaded and destroyed.

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However, more and more cities, states, and school boards, have opted to observe Indigenous Peoples Day every year instead. For example, in February the Chicago Board of Education voted to officially change the name of the holiday as well as the governor of Arizona. Rockville, Maryland, Salem, Massachusetts, and Montgomery, Alabama, plan to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as an official holiday for the first time this year. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed thinks the move to change the name is a truer representation of the city’s history.

“We are not rewriting history. In fact, we are allowing for a more accurate accounting of history by acknowledging the people who are native to this land. We must be honest about the past in order to heal, reconcile and become an even stronger community.”

The Alabama Indigenous Coalition also plans to host a gathering in downtown Montgomery that will march to the Capitol to honor the Native Americans who died along the Trail of Tears; the 5,000-mile trek millions of natives were forced to endure moved natives across 9 states, yet it’s rarely discussed in terms of history. 

This year indigenous individuals have never needed to be recognized more, as Native American, Black, and Latino households are the ones being most severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, 55% of Native American households have reported serious financial problems. Half of the Native American households either have poor internet connection or no internet at all. 

This year for Indigenous Peoples Day, get educated on the many systemic issues that impact people of color, and Native Americans especially, to this day. Recognizing the holiday as a celebration of Native American culture is a step in the right direction, but we must also acknowledge the violent and racist history that Indigenous individuals have had to endure for centuries.

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

Rhianna Pratchett Thrilled To Continue Father’s Legacy As Fantasy Fiction Author

Rhianna Pratchett grew up watching her father create a mythical world that fans fell in love with through his iconic Discworld comic book series. Now, five years after Terry Pratchett’s death, Rhianna decided to try her hand at fantasy fiction writing.

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. 

Target Store

Target Announces Diversity Plans To Increase Number Of Black Employees By 20%

Companies all across the country have been put under fire in recent months as the Black Lives Matter movement has been mainstreamed, prompting consumers to call on their favorite brands to step up their inclusion and advocacy for racial justice. 

This Thursday, Target pledged to increase the amount of Black employees across its entire workforce by 20% over the next three years. Target has around 350,000 employees in America, a majority of which are white, especially in their executive and leadership positions. 75% of its leadership team is White and 8% is Black; based on data from 2019. 

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When it comes to the retailer’s overall workforce – including part-time employees – 50% are White, 25% Latino, and 15% are Black; making up the top three groups. Within their pledge, however, Target also mentioned their many previous initiatives to increase representation within their stores and in their corporate offices. They claimed to have doubled their representation of non-White officers in the past five years; equating to about 30%. However, only 5% of that population is Black. 

Target also mentioned how now more than half of their stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color, however, during a movement that is heavily focused on the injustices Black individuals face on a daily basis, consumers aren’t satisfied with the minimal effort they believe Target has put forward. Chief human resources officer for Target, Melissa Kremer, recently posted a news release regarding Target’s new pledge for inclusivity. 

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team. We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment creates a stronger team.”

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Kremer went on to claim that Target would be emphasizing its recruitment and hiring of Black employees and look for new ways to advance their careers once they join the company. Anti-racist training will be implemented as well as new diversity programs that will focus on things like technology, merchandising and marketing; all aspects of Target’s corporate culture that’s mainly run by White individuals. 

Target is no stranger to publicly advocating for issues of social justice. They’ve made public statements telling customers not to carry guns in stores and welcomed all transgender customers to use their bathrooms and changing rooms whenever they need; which caused conservative groups to boycott the brand. 

After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell and other top executives released a statement expressing their pain over Floyd’s death, and made a call for change. He joined a subcommittee of the Business Roundtable to look for new policy recommendations that would directly address the issues with US law enforcement as well as create more opportunities for individuals who were previously incarcerated and looking for work. 

Other retailers joined target in this initiative by donating to civil rights causes and setting new standards when it comes to hiring and recruiting employees in the future.