A game that’s serious about LGBTQ+ community, relationships: Mass Effect (Review)

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I often tell people I was born with an Atari 2600 controller in my hand. One of my earliest memories was my parents showing off the Atari at my grandparents’ house to my aunts and uncles. Games of Berzerk, Missile Command, and Space Invaders lasted long into the night. My sister was nearly born at home, because dad just needed to get one more game of Space Invaders in. Gaming, while I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, was a very male space. Hardly any games featured women…

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Poignant live performance from ’90s dream pop Fishmans re-emerges

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In spite of such a difficult COVID-consumed year for all of us, the universe gave us unexpected gifts along the way. Some are bright and shiny; some are dark and stormy. Some are both. One of those dual-sided gifts for me has been discovering a 42-minute concert film that a commenter on RateYourMusic calls a “post-rock/dream pop/neo-psychedelia epic…. absolutely heavenly.” Known officially as “98.12.28 Otokotachi no Wakare” (“A Men’s Farewell”), this concert is, as video game developer Daulton Nelson writes,  “a mastery in progressive pop and psychedelic pop” and “an…

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Author and comic artist Huda Fahmy confronts Islamophobia with humor, wit

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Life in America can be challenging when you wear a hijab. Huda Fahmy shares her experiences as an obviously Muslim woman in America with humor and wit in her book “Yes, I’m Hot in This.” This comic collection of her experiences reveals the Islamophobia and ignorance that Muslim-Americans have to deal with. One recurring theme in Fahmy’s book is dealing with people who react with instant negativity and hatred when they see a hijab. Her comics show her responding with poise and witty comebacks, but Fahmy said that it’s always…

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Wingspan: progressive, educational, fun and beautiful

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Wingspan is one of my favorite board games, for almost more reasons than I can mention. This is a game that puts you in the role of a bird enthusiast who is trying to obtain the bird food you need to attract birds to their appropriate habitats. Wingspan helped raise money to fight the Australian wildfires. That’s actually how I learned it was available, after seeing it only on back order for months. For everyone who signed up to receive notice of Wingspan’s “early release” second expansion, called Oceania, Stonemaier Games donated $1…

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Board games offer lessons of life, inclusiveness

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Walking into the game room of Mayhem Collectibles, in Clive, can be a surreal experience. There are people sitting at tables throughout the room playing games of all kinds. Games about building the best suburb, games about discovering underwater kingdoms, even games about lying to your friends face to sneak contraband past the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is one of my favorite places, for the same reason as so many others: it’s relaxing and fun. “I have major social anxieties when it comes to interacting with strangers … But gaming…

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LGBTQ dating when you’re not ‘gay’ enough

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Hey Varla! I have a problem that I’ve been dealing with … forever, really. I’m a REALLY feminine girl. And I’m also REALLY gay. It makes dating hard because only guys flirt with me, and if I try to flirt with other girls they think I’m joking around, actually straight and just experimenting, or they don’t believe me that I’m a lesbian. I don’t know how to get it out there. Every time I go to an LGBTQ+ event, I cover myself in rainbows and smile at butch lesbians. And…

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REVIEW: In “Wild Nights,” Molly Shannon brings shades of SNL’s Mary Katherine Gallagher to Dickinson

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The hilarious image of SNL’s Mary Katherine Gallagher will forever be what I see first, when I see actress Molly Shannon. The character of an over-eager Catholic schoolgirl trying dramatically and desperately to be the best she can be, at whatever she tries, eventually smashing into something nearby in a swirl of over-emotion expressed in a movie (or made-for-TV movie) scene, is dear to me, as it is for many Gen Xers who were SNL addicts during the Molly Shannon era of the late 1990s. I see glimpses of Mary…

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Last chance for two films about authenticity

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These two stories showing at FilmScene are set thousands of miles, and hundreds of years, apart. One features several actors considered legends; the other is a project of admired newcomers. One centers around a building, and the other revolves around a garden. But the beautiful themes shared by “All Is True” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” are themes that can transform attitudes in difficult times, reinstate faith in authenticity, and revive or create a love of film. First off, apologies upfront that you have only one day…

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‘Saturday Church’ earns fans through teen’s self-discovery

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Cherry blossoms represent overwhelming beauty, the fleeting nature of life, and the feminine yet powerful. In “Saturday Church,” cherry blossoms help tell the story of a young African-American’s budding journey of discovering their sexuality and gender identity. The plot of “Saturday Church” helps illustrate the symbolism of these beautiful flowers, which comes mainly from Asian cultures and how cherry trees bloom and then fall off within a short time. This film is the latest installment of Pride at FilmScene, coming Monday, May 20, with a 6 p.m. screening at FilmScene,…

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AIDS documentary recalls heartbreaking activism

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Early on in the documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” activist Larry Kramer is shown giving a motivating speech to a group of young New Yorkers. He asks half of the large audience to stand up, then announces, “All of you are going to be dead in six months. Now what are we going to do about that?”    I barely remember the first Bush presidency that started in 1990. But I do remember, as a very young girl, learning about a terrifying disease with no cure.    I remember being way…

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