Today in Pop Modern: October 30th, 2013

October 30th, 2013Allen: The video for Jhene Aiko’s “Bed Peace” featuring Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino was released today. Aiko’s been a stalwart presence in the hip-hop/R&B scene for the last few years, featuring on almost every major rap album either alone or with her R&B collective known as Cocaine 80s. “Bed Peace” showcases her beautiful vocals coupled with Gambino admiring her both in the song and video. I’m not actually sure if the two are dating in real life, but they sure can act like they love each other, whispering lyrics to each other about love and peacefulness. These two are definitely forces to be reckoned with, and only more people will discover them with this smooth, relaxing single. It’s nice to see such a zen message being spread when so much of R&B is about loss and intensity.


James: Having played Xbox to the point of stopping for a while, I decided it was time to move on to television. This week I marathoned Arrow, the CW show about the superhero Green Arrow. It recently went up on Netflix, and is a fine show to watch. While the individual episodes have some trouble getting the seriousness down in a serialized format, the show as a whole does well, introducing the hero successfully, giving him motivation to become a superhero. The thing that makes it fantastic is the references to the DC universe. The villains that Oliver Queen faces are actual DC comic book villains, and the people he meets are well within the canonical reach of the universe. The flashbacks to the island where he learned archery is particularly rich, a storyline that shares the benefits of the overall show, while feeling fresh and humorous.  I found myself particularly attached to this overarching plot, and the ending of the season finished the first chapter in what I anticipate to be a long story of survival that is definitely worth watching.


Magellan: October is drawing to a close, meaning the movie-going public only has another few days to get their annual dose of horror movies before we all start gearing up for Oscar-bait season. There are a handful of movies that I’m excited about for the last two months of the year (The Wolf of Wall StreetInside Llewyn Davis, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to name a few), but this week we also got a glimpse of another exciting time for film: next summer. Maybe it’s a bit early to be thinking about the next big blockbuster, but yesterday saw the release of the official trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, which doesn’t look half-bad. Sure, by now we’re all probably burnt out on superhero stuff (the shakily handled X-Men franchise in particular), but X-Men: First Class was a triumphant return to form for the series, and Days of Future Pastlooks to be following in its horribly mutated footsteps. I’m hopeful, but that may be because I have a soft-spot for X-Men media done right. Watch the trailer and judge for yourself.



Frames of Preference: Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy TacticsI could write a million essays about Final Fantasy: Tactics. In addition to having one of the best stories of a Final Fantasy game (think Game of Thrones-style politics with more magic), it’s also one of the best examples of game mechanics that could stand entirely on their own. With such a simplistic yet detailed, watercolor-esque aesthetic, battles play out like extended chess matches with RPG mechanics stringing them together. Movement, preparation, even directional facing of each of the many units in the game are absolutely crucial to success in this game. Many games have attempted to recreate the tightly-paced dance that is the average battle in Tactics, but few have succeeded outside of its sequels.