Lehman Students Are Spellbound by Magic: The Gathering

By Juan Vasquez

A game of Magic: The Gathering. Photo by Juan Vasquez.

“I didn’t know what Magic was, I only ever heard about it in passing,” said Kat Anne Fornier, a novice player and Lehman student. “Then one day I watched a chaos match, which was really confusing and I wasn’t feeling it.” Though she felt intimidated at first, after other players guided her, she said, “it was actually really fun...I don’t even remember if I won or lost but by the end of it I wanted to enter the Magic community and have my own deck.”

Created in 1994 by Richard Garfield, Ph.D., Magic: The Gathering is a pastime that has drawn many Lehman students into a world of dueling wizards attempting to do each other in. The rules are simple--reduce your opponent’s life total from 20 to 0. Players use 60-card decks filled with monsters, spells, and lands that aid the player and hinder their opponent. While there are more ways to win--reducing an opponent’s deck to zero cards, using cards that create certain win conditions when activated, etc.--this is the most common win condition. 

Players find the game helps them get away from the rigors of college life and regain a sense of calm. Fornier notes that playing is “extremely stress reducing…a lot of laughter comes out of the games, and…all the laughter means dopamine, which is kinda like a runner’s high without the exercise.”

Many players credit the Magic: The Gathering community as being a safe and supportive community. Andrew Negron, an avid Magic player and Lehman student says, “I enjoy the community...how players help each other get better by assisting new players with getting cards and learning new skills, which makes the game even more enjoyable.” Negron adds “It is very fun so I believe it’s a very relaxing game that helps you make new friends and strengthen bonds with current friends that also play.” 

Yet to most Magic players, the real enjoyment is going to victory with a deck that they put hours of research, development, and construction into. Frederick Kemeh, a Lehman Student and longtime Magic player, said, “It’s always rewarding, making a successful deck and winning with said deck, but it takes time of planning and preparation. That, however, is fun for its own right.” 

Return of ‘Stranger Things’ Lives Up to the Hype

By Zoe Fanzo

Logo of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

Last summer’s finale of the hit Netflix show “Stranger Things” left audiences with many unanswered questions. Where did Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the Demogorgon go after their final confrontation? What happened to Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) after his return from the Upside Down? Would the simple town of Hawkins ever be the same? 

In the sequel, “Stranger Things 2,” released in its entirety on Oct. 27, these questions are answered, but greater conflicts arise. A new supernatural villain, the Mind Flayer, is introduced, and his presence tortures Will. The portal to the Upside Down, opened by Eleven in the first season, has grown immeasurably. Eleven must struggle to come to terms with the implications of her upbringing and decide how she wants to use her abilities. 

Ultimately, the return of “Stranger Things” satisfied fans who yearned for more of its captivating science fiction, synthesized soundtrack, and homage to 1980s genre films. After its first season premiered in the summer of 2016, the show quickly developed a cult following. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer, known as the Duffer Brothers, drew inspiration from Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and 1980s pop culture; their first season premiered to critical acclaim. 

In the behind-the-scenes special, “Beyond Stranger Things,” the Duffer Brothers describe the challenge of continuing the story. “It was kind of freaky figuring out, how do we make this story continue on in a way that it doesn’t feel forced? And we want to make sure that it can sustain at least a few more years,” said Ross. Matt echoed this adding, “In season one, you have the dramatic tension of Will being gone which ties it all together, so we lost that, but at the same time we had all these characters that we actually knew a lot better now.”

The strength of this season ultimately lies in the character growth, particularly Eleven’s coming-of-age story in standout episode “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister.” The season allows for further character development and exploration, and skillfully groups characters into unlikely pairings. The emotional climax of the season finally arrives with the long-awaited reunion of Eleven and Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard).

New characters also join the award-winning cast, including Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), a sociopathic human antagonist, and Bob Newby (Sean Astin), a love interest for Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder). New addition Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), also known as Madmax, introduces conflict when she beats Dustin’s high-score on an arcade game. Tensions deepen when Max finds her way into a love triangle between friends Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). 

Though the Duffer Brothers plan to end the show after four or five seasons, fans can rest easy knowing that this trek into the Upside Down was not the last. 

On Their Comeback Album, The Cool Kids Live up to Their Name

By Jorel Lonesome
Sir Michael Rocks performing at Southbound Festival in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Michael Rocks performing at Southbound Festival in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersol announced their duo was splitting up shortly after releasing their hit album “When Fish Ride Bicycles” in July 2011, it seemed as though we might never hear from them again.

But, The Cool Kids are back with their new sophomore album, “Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe.” Released in September 2017, the 16-track LP features artists such as Jeremih, Syd, Smoke DZA as well as collaborations with artists such as Drake, Maroon 5, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker. The album does a great job at sounding both modern and nostalgic. It’s like a classic Cool Kids album but with noticeable artistic progression. In rap music today, it’s increasingly difficult to make an album that sticks for an extended period of time, but The Cool Kids serve their purpose once again.

Many of the tracks were produced entirely by Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, with a plethora of drums, samples, disco tunes, synth, strings, horns, guitars, bass, and more synthetic sounds such as “Westside Connections,” “Get Out the Bowl,” “Checkout,” “Gr8Full,” “Jean Jacket,” and “Too Smooth.” 

The first track, “The Moonlanding,” comes in hot with a gust of intensity. This really sets the stage for the production style of the album--energetic beats, futuristic synths, and layered horns. The track features actor/comedian Hannibal Buress, as he begins with a Black Sabbath tribute. “The Moonlanding” shifts into a banger that includes a dynamic horn sample applied by Sir Michael Rocks’ slick fashion talk in the hook that is produced by tag team partner Chuck Inglish. Their lyrics relinquish their most savvy wordplay and also reference “The Purple Tape” and Pokémon.

Arguably one of the coolest tracks is “20/20 Vision,” which features great beat characteristics for Chuck’s production. According to Urban Dictionary “20/20” means “Completely seeing the truth of a situation.” Therefore, we may suggest that the theme of the track is about how The Cool Kids are also The Real Kids. When we delve into tracks such as “TV Dinner,” to name a few, it’s as if your head is inside a hornet’s nest, but with a rhythmic sound of a robotic alarm that blends perfectly with the dominant pounding of drums beating in an even pattern to entice you to bop your head.  

“Break Your Legs,” features drummer Travis Barker from blink-182. The song is edgy compared to their smoother sounds. You can definitely compare it to N.E.R.D.’s 2001 smash hit “Lap Dance,” which sets this particular track apart from the others. 

“On the Set,” produced by Chuck Inglish perfectly shows the dark and 90s atmosphere beat that both Boldy James (Detroit native and Mass Appeal signee) and Smoke DZA (Harlem underground representative) are known for. Inglish’s distinctive use of vocals and instruments is inventively cognizant. The base is layered on top of the smooth sounding vocals that follow and will make you feel as cool. They create unforgettable funky bass lines and 808 hits that fall in the line of new- and old-school Hip Hop. 

Overall, with its creative production, this album lives up to the anticipatory hype of the duo’s cult fans, and will be regarded as a good reference point for future experimental MCs.

‘Dark and Stormy Night’ Puts a Gothic Twist on Contemporary Art

By Deirdre Fanzo

From left to right, the portraits “Yoko Sato, 1968-1999;” “Tasia Brown 1982-2012;” and “James Otis Purdy, 1914-2009” by Heide Hatry. Photo by Deirdre Fanzo.

“Gothic sensibility sends shivers down the spine,” reads the text at the entrance to the latest exhibit at Lehman’s art gallery. “It is the essence of foreboding, never going out of style, just as it unveils the eternal moments of human dread.” The exhibit, “Dark and Stormy Night, Gothic Influence in Contemporary Art,” opened on Oct. 28 and features 34 artists who skillfully manage to capture the Gothic essence in contemporary works of art. 

The show foregrounds several prominent Gothic themes. The idea of a dark and stormy night is well represented in four photographs from a series entitled “I’m Made of Rain” by Isabelle Menin. These photos present an eerie, almost surreal, Gothic atmosphere. So do statues and paintings of tall, ornate, angular towers and cathedrals found throughout the exhibit, along with depictions of women shrouded in mystery. 

Among these conventional Gothic themes are a few surprising works of art. A series of portraits in black and white by Heide Hatry entitled “Yoko Sato, 1968-1999,” “Tasia Brown 1982-2012,” and “James Otis Purdy, 1914-2009” appears, on the surface, to be nothing more than a few paintings of smiling people. Another painting featured in the gallery, “Poe Crossing the Concourse,” by Daniel Hauben, portrays an urban cityscape in bright and beautiful colors. Both of these installations require a careful eye to find the Gothic within them. According to the label beside the portraits, the materials used to create them were the human ashes of the very people being depicted. The urban cityscape reveals a scene outside Poe Park in the Bronx, and in the corner of the painting, a rendering of Edgar Allan Poe himself can be seen crossing the street. The pieces are incredibly macabre and suggest the notion of life--or perhaps still-life--after death. 

The only installation that truly feels out of place is a three-dimensional tower installed as the centerpiece in one section of the gallery. It is pink and frilly, and while it could be interpreted as a Gothic commentary on the notion of contemporary femininity, this reading is difficult to determine and is one I am not entirely confident about. 

Overall, the most interesting thing about “Dark and Stormy Night” is the presence of many different interpretations of what contemporary Gothic looks like. Several pieces depict Gothic themes in highly contemporary mediums, like digital photography, while others show contemporary scenes with the addition of Gothic elements. This exhibit is stunning, absorbing, and in some instances, morbid. I would highly recommend viewing ‘Dark and Stormy Night’ before it closes on Feb. 10, 2018.