Category: Art

Jojo Rabbit: A Choice Between Authentic and False Community

“You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.” – Jojo Rabbit You know it’s a good movie when you clap spontaneously, laugh like a maniac, and feel your heart torn to shreds in the same two-hour stretch. […]

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Why I Love Old Rock and Rollers

Mick Jagger is a great-grandfather. Yet I suppose he still gets up on every tour date and sings about how he can’t get no satisfaction. There are countless bands and older musicians who (despite being well past their prime) still go out and play the hits: Journey, Paul McCartney, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith. From […]

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Good Fiction Is Like Case Law

Good fiction is a lot like case law. Stick with me here. You’ve probably been in moral dilemmas before that are harder than some court cases. And you’ve had to play the judge. Should you cover up a friend’s misdoing? Expose it and rat him out? Or expose it and take the blame? Should you […]

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The Difference Between Poor, Mediocre, Good, and Great Song Lyrics

The worst song lyrics are heavily literal and dependent on adjectives, e.g. (using the example of a love long) “She’s hot. . .” Mediocre song lyrics use similes (“X is like Y”), e.g. “She’s hot like the Texas sun. . .“ Good song lyrics use metaphors, e.g. “Sunlight on the first day of spring. . […]

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Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown: S8E1 “Winterfell” – Free Riders, Obligations, Disclosure, and Leadership

*SPOILER ALERT FOR GAME OF THRONES, OBVIOUSLY. Don’t listen to this if you haven’t watched the show!* We’re excited to be back podcasting on the philosophical themes of Game of Thrones, and the first episode of this final season brought great story and good food for thought. As Jon, Daenerys, and their allies prepare for the […]

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Your Story Makes Things Lovable

Nostalgia is a strange thing: it makes us fond of some stupid, awkward, and ugly things. Tonight, for instance, I was listening to some cheesy country songs from the 90s and early 00s. By many objective standards I should dislike this stuff (the over-production, 80s hangover mullets, and twangy rock/pop sound, etc) but for better or worse I’ve come […]

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Perfection Kills Co-Creation

I am generally a clean, organized person. But even I can tell when something is over-organized. You can get the feeling of sterility and regimentation from a too-perfect space. The glass is immaculate, the paper is custom-made, the feng-shui has taken 20,000 years to balance. Worst of all, you get the feeling of “off limits […]

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Sometimes Art Needs to Celebrate Itself

Last night I went to see the delightful new movie Mary Poppins Returns. As one of the few heathens who have not seen the original Mary Poppins, my opinion is understandably suspect – but I really liked it. In this movie I saw the best work of great actors, Disney animators, choreographers, songwriters, scriptwriters, stuntpeople, set designers, costume designers. […]

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These Are a Few of My Favorite (Christmas) Things: A Mega-List of Things to Jumpstart Holiday Cheer

The Christmas spirit is owned by no one. You can’t summon it up. It “comes and goes as it pleases.” That said, you can do your part to make a home for it. This Christmas, here is my mega-list of all the things you can choose to do to prepare yourself for a wonderful holiday: […]

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Chihuahua Ballet, Tiny Band Carols, and Sick Violin-ing: A Concert Review of Lindsey Stirling’s “Wanderland” 2018 Tour – Charleston, December 22, 2018

Chihuahua ballet. Tiny instruments. Dancing violin players. Not things you would expect at a typical concert, even in the wild world of 2018. But that’s Lindsey Stirling for you. Last night my family went out to see the electric violinist/dancer’s last stop for the Wanderland 2018 tour (supporting Warmer in the Winter, which I reviewed last month) at the Performing Arts […]

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“Dungeons and Dragons” and the Three Universal Elements of Great Games

Every month or so some friends and I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons, a role-playing game which turns out to be as complicated as modern finance, a religious text, and an assemble-it-yourself furniture order. With a large variety of spells, abilities, gear, character types, etc, this game requires trained narrators and decent-sized player handbooks of 300+ […]

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Inspiration Is Like Manna

Despite writing daily for over a year now (minus one missed day), I still hardly ever plan out posts more than a few days in advance. More often than not, I find my daily writing idea late at night when I lay down in bed to type out a post. You’d think I’d be a […]

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A Moving Image of Body Image: Why “The Man and His Wife” Should Be On Your 2018 Watchlist

When’s the last time a short film punched you in the gut in a happy, beautiful sort of way? Enter “The Man and His Wife,” a silent film written and directed by my friend Levi Adkins*. The story (kept to a perfect, waste-free 19 minutes) follows a young man and a woman on the brink […]

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The Power of Giving a Good Photo Portrait

There are few simpler or better gifts you can give than a good photo portrait of someone. Have you ever taken a good camera lens and tried? That’s what I did throughout the weekend at Georgia Tech hackathon HackGT. I doubt many of the college-aged participants expected to have a photo shoot as they hacked away […]

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Review: “Strictly Ballroom” Isn’t Strictly What You’d Expect from a Dancing Movie

Baz Luhrman’s 1992 film Strictly Ballroom delivers everything you should expect from a good performing arts movie, but it’s far from the niche, overly serious stories made just for dancers. It’s hilarious and odd and heartwarming and still manages to be artsy enough to appeal to the highbrow filmgoers out there. The male protagonist Scott Harrison […]

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Review: “Eighth Grade” Speaks to the Awkward Middle Schooler In All of Us

Remember when you were 13? Remember being shy and awkward about everything (shawkward, if you will)? Remember parties with the cool kids where you felt totally out of place? Bo Burnham does. And he brings all those memories flooding back to you in his film Eighth Grade, which is in theaters now. I saw it tonight with […]

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Why Your Good Times Need Designated Documentarians

You know the guy or gal who likes taking photos or videos of everything? There’s one in every crowd. That’s me. One of my favorite ways to add value to a social gathering is to take time to document the sights and sounds. When I’m having a good time with people, I take on the job […]

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How To Be Entertained and Productive at the Same Time

Entertainment has a bad reputation. Its sister word “amusement” after all can be loosely translated to “mindless” – “a” (without) “muse”. And for most people, entertainment is a way to waste time and avoid the important things in life. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. When we go to see great skill performed on […]

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The Social Benefits of Hipsters

Hipsters catch a lot of flak for being pretentious and seemingly silly social fashion fringe-dwellers.* People don’t like people who stick up their noses, or those who like to flaunt edginess or early adopter status. Still, I don’t think we give hipsters enough credit for the positive role they play in things. What’s better is […]

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Creative Constraints at Work in “The Lion King”

If the Lion King was made today, it would probably be much worse. When Disney created this film (which I recently rewatched for the first time in years) in the early 1990s, it didn’t have the plentiful, powerful CGI available to modern filmmakers. Artists assembled the scenes from traditional drawings and used systems like CAPs to […]

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Ignore Artist Drama and Enjoy Good Art

So there I was, listening to a ________* song as one does, when the Spotify’s app Genius integration decided to give me the backstory on one of the songs: “By now, everyone’s heard about _______’s beef with _______ and _______.”  “OH, REALLY?” thought I. EVERYONE? I could certainly enjoy the music just fine without having a […]

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5 Great Film Scores from Disney Movies

Most people know Disney movies for the excellent songs, like “Let It Go,” or “How Far I’ll Go,” or “Under the Sea” (extraordinary song, that one). But less appreciated is the work of the composers who score these films. Here are five Disney film scores worth a listen on their own merits – even without […]

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A Personal Branding Case for Bringing Back Coats of Arms (or Something Like Them)

If you’re trying to convey an immediate sense of who you are to the people around you, you’re probably not going to be able to do it with words. Most people form snap judgments based on appearances, not on careful study of your self-description. And, as the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. […]

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Try To Forget You Have a Fan Base

If you’re trying to create something, you’re going to do your best work when you are least aware of your fans. Game of Thrones fans know what I’m talking about. After six amazing seasons of storytelling, Game of Thrones found itself a bit adrift in its seventh season. There was no writing from original A Song […]

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Take Time to Salute Your Fellow Creators

Today I was closing a loop on a marketing project when I did something gratuitous: I stopped, paused, and tipped my hat to a fellow creator. The marketer I had been working with is an employee of another company in my industry. I happened to see some of his work on his company’s social media feed, and […]

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Watch Films From Behind the Camera

Remember those cheesy, boring, grainy nature documentaries you used to watch in school when the teacher was not having the best day ever? These films set my expectations for nature films. But Planet Earth 2 is not like those films. And I don’t regret my recent decision to watch the series on Netflix. There’s a real […]

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Build Diversity Into Your Office Space Design

When I’m at the office, I tend to want to work almost anywhere but my desk. It’s not that I don’t appreciate my fancy standing desk. It’s also not that I don’t like the coworkers around my “official working space.” They’re great. I’m just a weirdo who needs to move and wander around restlessly and sit alone (in […]

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Why TV Talent Shows Fail To Produce Artists With Lasting Impact

When’s the last time a winner of a television talent show left a lasting mark on artistic culture? If you’ve ever seen prime time television, you’ll know that for the past decade+, shows like The Voice, American Idol, and America’s Got Talent have fixated viewers. They’ve also jump-started the recording careers of countless singers and musicians. But with […]

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We Need Art To Inspire Us for Normal Days

Why do most of us only turn to inspirational art on exceptional days? There are few human beings who aren’t be lifted up by a beautiful, swelling piece of orchestral music. Even non-religious people can appreciate the poetry of the Hebrew Psalms. And if you meet someone who doesn’t get fired up by Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech, they are a rare […]

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