Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Thursday, October 06, 2022 — Houston, TX

Kaylen Strench, Arts and Entertainment Editor

NEWS 3/25/15 5:33am

English professor Tim Morton talks to Bjork

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City (known to most as MoMA) is showcasing a retrospective of Bjork, a world-renowned Icelandic composer and musician, March 8-June 7. The three-story exhibit celebrates various elements of Bjork’s work over the past 20 years, using various auditory and visual mediums. Though perhaps not a complete critical success (The Atlantic’s Kriston Capps recently referred to the it as “slight on substance and nuance”), the exhibit is nonetheless impressive. In one section, visitors watch a strange, powerful music video in a dark room, which features the singer running around a volcanic cave, crying out in heartbreak. In another, attendees walk through a winding hall lined with artifacts from the artist’s career, accompanied by music and narration.Perhaps most notable to Rice University students and faculty, however, is the university’s own mark on the exhibit. Rice’s Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English, Dr. Timothy Morton, collaborated with Bjork on a visual book created to accompany the MoMA exhibition. The five-part work, Bjork: Archives, is an amalgam of art forms, including photographs of the artist’s fashion over the years, album artwork, illustrated text and poetry.Morton’s connection to the project can be traced back to July 2014, when he received an email from the singer praising his 2013 book, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology and Causality. Morton responded by initiating a philosophical dialogue, and the two carried on a sprawling intellectual conversation for three months, despite never having met in person. During their correspondence, they decided to collaborate on a project and soon realized that their 150-page email chain was a piece of collaborative art in itself. The text was bound into one of the volumes of Archives and sold alongside four other booklets, which each strives to interpret and reflect upon Bjork’s career in distinct ways. Other contributors include MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach, critic Alex Ross, musicology professor Nicole Dibben and poet Sjon.Morton said in an interview with Houstonia magazine that he has been a fan of Bjork’s music for decades, even before she had started her solo career and was moving between various bands. He described her as “futuristic” and “a leader in how to inhabit the new era.” Fittingly, Bjork also said she’s long been a fan of Morton’s work, which focuses on object-oriented ontology, a branch of metaphysics that considers objects outside of their relation to human beings. Rice reported that the two met late last year when Morton flew to Iceland to wrap up Archives, and Morton has said that during his visit he met Bjork’s friends, watched her record music and ate the artist’s own home-cooked meals.MoMA’s Bjork exhibition will be on display until June 7. Bjork: Archives can be purchased for £40.00 at thamesandhudson.com.

NEWS 3/11/15 5:28am

Thresher Presents: Rodeo Preview

There’s a musty hint of hay and grease in the air. An occasional whinny may be heard in the distance. The streets are packed with more hats and pairs of cowboy boots than usual. It can all mean only one thing — it’s Houston Rodeo time in the city. Especially for Houston newcomers, Rodeo can be a bit overwhelming. Dozens of performers, food vendors and other entertainment will all vie for your hard-earned pennies and attention. While you’re sure to have a good time no matter what you do and see, the Thresher has narrowed down your options a tad to let you know which are actually the best concerts and treats being offered. BEST MEALS:For the BBQ fan: Triple J’s SmokehouseLocation: NRG Park, KC501What to get? Big J Potato, $15 — A baked potato stuffed with butter, cheese, sour cream, chives and your choice of beef, sausage or rib meatMeat Combo, $9.99 — Two meats (ribs, beef or sausage) with barbecue sauce and breadFor the Vegetarian: Stump’s Wood-Fired PizzaLocation: NRG Arena, AR600What to get?The Jimmy Buffet, $10 — A nine-inch hyper-fresh margherita pizza; San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oilFor the Adventurous: Belgian WafflesLocation: KC306What to get?Fried sriracha balls — Shredded chicken, tomatoes, green chiles and sriracha encrusted in tortilla chips and then deep-friedStrawberry waffle balls — Like cake balls, but waffles that come with strawberry dipping sauceFor the Tex-Mex Fan: Tad’s Bodacious BurritosLocation: NRG Park, RP65What to get?Chipotle beef burrito, $8.50 — Enormous burrito filled with shredded beef rubbed with chipotle, black beans, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses; coated with chipotle cheese sauce and garnished with pico de galloBEST TREATS:For the Fried Food Lover: Aunt Edmoe’s Homemade CookiesLocation: NRG Park, CD205What to get?Fried cookie dough on a stick, $7 — Real, delicious cookie dough deep-fried and put on a stick, can also be dipped in chocolateCookie dough parfait, $7 — Ice cream, cookie dough, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry and two warm cookies on topFor the Cinnamon-aholic: Stubby’s Cinnamon RollsLocation: NRG Arena, AR903; NRG Center, L259What to get?Cinnamon roll with “the works,” $5 — A cinnamon roll as big your head topped with rich icing and pecansBacon-wrapped cinnamon roll, $5 — Huge cinnamon roll coated in juicy baconFor the Popcorn Fan: Kettle Corn of TexasLocation: NRG Park, KC506What to get?Small bag of kettle corn, $3 — Decent helping of fresh-popped kettle corn made in 100 percent corn oilFor the Intense Dessert Fan: Granny’s Cheesecake & MoreLocation: NRG Center, L255What to get?Chocolate-dipped cheesecake with Oreo, $7 — Means what it says; a delicious cheesecake dipped in chocolate and served with Oreos on top EVENTS:Mutton BustingMutton busting is everyone’s favorite rodeo event. Like bull riding for children, kids between ages five and six must grab hold of a sheep and attempt to stay on as long as possible. While everyone in mutton busting is declared a winner, the child who stays on the longest is awarded a champion belt buckle and serious bragging rights.Calf ScrambleThe calf scramble is arguably the most chaotic rodeo event. Officials release 15 calves into the arena that 30 4-H and Future Farmers of America youth must race after and try to catch with nothing but a rope halter. Each successful student is given a $1,500 voucher to purchase his or her own beef heifer or market steer to show in next year’s rodeo. This event is intended to encourage agricultural enterprise in the state of Texas by supporting students’ interest in ranching and farming.Tie-Down RopingThis rodeo sport, inspired by traditional ranch-hand practices, tests skills necessary for any good rancher. The event starts when a calf is released and crosses a trip lever that frees the mounted roper. The team must race after the calf and quickly lasso its neck. The horse must then maintain tension on the rope so the calf does not escape as the roper dismounts and ties the calf’s legs. The fastest roper to complete the task wins.  CONCERTS:If traditional country’s not your thing:Zac Brown BandTime: Thursday, March 12, 6:45 p.m.Hits: Chicken Fried, Colder Weather, KneeDeepSummary: Melodic, slower-tempo country with deep lyrics and some nice harmonies If you like to sing along:Luke BryanTime: Sunday, March 22, 3:45 p.m.Hits: Crash My Party, Play it Again, I Don’t Want this Night to EndSummary: Strong beat, authentic country — mostly feel-good tunes and love songs Brad PaisleyTime: Saturday, March 21, 3:45 p.m.Hits: Perfect Storm,Whiskey Lullaby, Beat this SummerSummary: Classic songs that tell stories — rich with nostalgia, humor and heart If you want a pop/country mix:Florida Georgia LineWednesday, March 18, 6:45 p.m.Hits: Cruise, This is How We Roll, DirtSummary: Fast-paced music that sounds best on a road trip, windows down, wind blowing The Band PerryFriday, March 20, 6:45 p.m.Hits: If I Die Young,Better Dig Two, DONE.Summary: Strong female vocals, soft melodies and powerful, belting choruses If you want something TOTALLY different:La Arrolladora Banda El LimonTime: Sunday, March 15, 3.45 p.m.Hits: ?Summary: Traditional Mexican regional music. You can’t help but dance along. If you want straight-up Top 40:Ariana GrandeTime: Tuesday, March 17, 6:45 p.m.Hits: Love Me Harder, Break Free,One Last TimeSummary: Belting pop ballads, choruses that always manage to get stuck in your head PitbullTime: Friday, March 13, 6:45 p.m.Hits: Timber, Fireball, Time of Our LivesSummary: High-bass tracks that make you wish you were in a downtown nightclub

NEWS 2/18/15 4:09am

Rules for making reading fun and personal again

You are doing it wrong. You’re doing it wrong, and I know you’re doing it wrong because I was doing it wrong too, until a friend of mine threw my copy of Anna Karenina out the window and slapped some sense into me. This is a guide for those of you who choose your next read off Modern Library’s “Top 100 Best Books Ever Written” list, who start books and never finish them or who have ditched books all together for Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed. 1.  Make it personalFirst, understand that reading is like eating ice cream. There are books that everyone usually likes, chocolate and vanilla books, but those also tend to be the most boring. There’s also really sophisticated fig-tree truffle asparagus ice cream that you can appreciate on merit, but is just too much when you’ve had a bad day and want to simply stuff your face. As a reader, you need to find your flavor — the book that speaks to you on a personal level, that is relevant to your life in some capacity (even if it’s fantastical or from a different era) and lights up recognition inside of you. 2. Read at least 50 pagesNext, give every good book a good try — that means at least 50 pages. That gives you enough time to decide if you could really get invested in its characters, or if you regret picking it up and want to just go watch Netflix instead. As my mom always says, “If he can’t make you happy, he doesn’t deserve you.” The author needs to win you over. That said, sometimes it just takes a little bit to see where things are going. Remember, Harry didn’t even get to Hogwarts until, like, a third of the way through the first book. Every novel deserves a shot.3. Invest in the processNext, once you’ve decided you’re definitely going to read whatever book it is, make it worth your while. You have the capacity to read only so many books in your life and, well, you chose this one, so make it a part of you. Write all over it, underline quotes and doodle in the margins. Think about it when you’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Learn about the author. Talk to friends about the book. This is not to say you should add a bunch of work to the reading process, just that a healthy excitement about what you’re reading will ultimately make it more worth your while, and you’ll get a lot more out of it.4. Drop the obsession with being “well-read”Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be “well-read.” While this is a noble intellectual pursuit, it can be done better by spending four to five hours on SparkNotes, and it runs the risk of removing the personal aspect of reading, which is often times its greatest joy. As your third grade teacher’s annoying motivational posters said, lose yourself in a good book. It’s a nice place for an escape.

NEWS 2/4/15 4:16am

Faculty Slide Jam opens VADA season

When class is dismissed for the day, the Rice visual and dramatic arts professors are far from packing up and heading home. Though devoted to their students, these faculty members are not just teachers. In fact, they are all talented artists in their own right, putting in long hours to construct creative pieces worthy of national and international acclaim. Slide JamThis Thursday, Feb. 5, they will get a chance to show what they’re made of at the fourth annual Visual and Dramatic Arts Faculty Slide Jam, a rapid-fire presentation of faculty art. The event, organized by VADA professor Christopher Sperandio, will showcase recent research, paintings, drawings and other projects created by Rice professors in a series of rapid-fire presentations. “[The visual and dramatic arts department] is comprised of a really diverse and  exceptionally talented group of people,” Sperandio said. “However, we’re often exhibiting nationally or internationally, very rarely in Houston. So this is a fun and informal way to get to see what we’re all up to.”Each professor will have only five minutes to present their latest creations, some of which are colossal projects spanning over multiple months. Therefore, the event is fast, exciting and necessarily accessible to students, regardless of major or background in art.“It’s really a snapshot of what the faculty are working on when they’re not in the classroom working with students,” Natasha Bowdoin, another VADA professor, said. “I think in a span of five minutes you can really only give a general overview. There’s no time to get into a lot of heavy art speak.”Sperandio said the event is intended for all Rice students and that it has something to offer those of all art backgrounds.“If you’re studying art, if you’re taking an art class or interested in taking one, or even if you’re just interested in what’s going on in the [visual and dramatic arts department], this is a great way to get information quickly,” Sperandio said.Once the presentations conclude in Sewall Hall, VADA will serve sliders from Little Big’s and the night will continue with other art-centered events at the surrounding Sewall galleries. A Description of the Sun8-10 p.m., Rice alumnus and emerging artist Logan Sebastian Beck will be introducing his new piece, “A Description of the Sun,” in the Emergency Room Gallery, located inside Sewall Hall. Sperandio said the piece, a sculpture that tracks the position of the sun as it moves across the sky, will have particular appeal for engineers.Everything All at OnceAt the same time, in the student-run Matchbox Gallery, located in the Sewall courtyard, new artist Melinda Laszczynski will be opening her new exhibition, “Everything All at Once.” Laszczynski’s work is an intriguing amalgam of painting, sculpture and installation that features bright colors and diverse textures and materials. She said the paintings in her show are inspired by cakes she saw at Wal-Mart. “I liked how, though I wasn’t interested in eating the cakes, they still made bright and interesting sculptures,” Laszczynski said. “So when I started these paintings over the summer, I used the same color palettes and pipetted out of pastry bags to create that cake aesthetic.”Laszczynski’s work will also feature a variety of mixed materials, including everything from hair clips to glitter. “I’m very interested in this contradiction between materials,” Laszczynski said. “I wanted to combine low-craft materials — things found around my studio, or purchased in hardware or dollar stores — with high-art aesthetics. The effect, I hope, ends up being this immersive, playful thing you want to explore.”Laszczynski also said that although she is a graduate student at the University of Houston, she thought Matchbox was a perfect place to display her work.“Since I’ve been working more with installations and sculptures [versus two-dimensional paintings], I’ve been much more interested in the space where my work is being shown,” Laszczysnki said. “The small scale of Matchbox is really appealing, especially that window-front, because when you’re looking at the work from the courtyard it flattens out the view and makes the installation look like a painting, but when you’re inside the space it makes the work larger-scale for the viewer, it pulls them in. It’s just a really nice little space.”Along with the exhibition openings, a DJ will be playing live music in the courtyard and food and drinks will be served. The Faculty Slide Jam will start at 7 p.m. in Sewall 301. Matchbox Gallery will open at 7 p.m. and Emergency Room will open from 8-10 p.m. 

NEWS 1/28/15 4:16am

League of Legends is not for loners

When I first heard “League of Legends” tossed around in conversation among my guy friends, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit. Without missing a beat, I lumped it into the usual category of video games: mindless, violent entertainment designed to pass long, empty hours. After researching League more thoroughly, however, I found that, in this case, I was far too quick to judge. League is no standard game — with 67 million players a month, “pro teams” that draw 32 million viewers and compete for a million dollars in the World Championships and a collegiate league that inspired the incredibly well-organized and competitive Rice League of Legends club, League, or LoL, as it's called, deserves a fresh look. It’s time to put some misconceptions to rest and for Rice students to give the game and its players a chance.First, LoL’s fanatics are not the stereotypical Cheeto-munching, couch-potato gamers staring at their computer screens in isolation for hours on end. In truth, League is an exclusively social activity that requires sophisticated communication and facilitates bonding.“It’s designed to be a social experience,” Sid Richardson College junior Jacob Saldinger, a non-competitive player, said. “A lot of games have a good single player mode in addition to multiplayer. But League requires you to participate on a team of five every time; it’s 100 percent socialinteraction.”Part of League’s strategic challenge rests in its requirement that one’s “champion,” or avatar, must work alongside others in a team. The best teams practice together to develop rapid communication skills and coordinate strategy. “It’s really hard to get five people to go along with one cohesive plan,” Jones College junior Brian Lee, the external vice president of the Rice LoL club, said. “You have to work as a unit, resolve disputes about which strategy to choose in a matter of seconds and have the discipline to follow along with a plan even if you’re skeptical.” Another draw to the game is the unprecedented “pro scene.” The game developer, Riot Games, organizes regional, national and international championships, which are broadcast on the web. The viewership is substantial — last year, over 10 million more viewers tuned into the League of Legends World Championships than to the NBA Finals. “It has the most unmatched pro scene of any game out there,” Sid Richardson College junior Tyler Clapp, another non-competitive player, said. “The structured tournament system and competitive aspect of the game has made it easy for it to become so popular.”Riot promotes pro-league viewership as much as playing the game itself. League of Legends thus takes on the quality of a sport — it can be enjoyed both directly and indirectly.“There’s a lot of access points,” Saldinger said. “You can play yourself [and] you can watch people play. There’s a lot of strategy as well as brute mechanical skill, like football. Riot’s been really smart about leveraging those aspects to promote the game in as many ways as possible.” Riot also sponsors a collegiate league, in which teams from various colleges compete against each other in regional and national tournaments for tuition money instead of straight cash. “I started playing LoL in high school, and I was really interested in being on an intercollegiate team going into college,” McMurtry College freshman Savion Lee, a coordinator for the McMurtry LoL team, said. “I just really like the community environment and bonding with other people who have the same interest.”The Rice LoL club is broken into several five-person “elitist,” or varsity, and junior varsity teams. The coordinator for each team arranges practices and friendly inter-college matches with other team leaders. The club also organizes tournaments, where students compete in matches against each other and other universities.Many other students at Rice, however, choose to play the game just to blow off steam, or to hang out with friends and get to know people better.“Some video games just involve you sitting in a room by yourself for hours on end,” Clapp said. “League’s just not like that. It’s social, and the games are discrete — after 30 minutes, you’re done. The appeal lies in the bonding potential and the fun rush of [defeating] your friends.” Though the game offers a lot of room for improvement, Saldinger, Clapp, Brian Lee and Savion Lee all agreed that trying to be good isn’t necessarily the point.“Just give it a shot,” Savion Lee said. “It teaches you great communication skills, and it’s not super intense. It’s just supposed to be fun and social — light competition among friends.”