NEW: Share the joy of books, reading in “Off the Shelf”

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Welcome to our new book review feature, “Off the Shelf.” Open to any book reader who wants to share your thoughts on how you’re affected by what you read, Off the Shelf is also led by decades-long voracious reader and personal reading activist Cathy Chavez, who will provide a monthly review. Take a look at Chavez’s first review, on an award-winning book from July 2019. BOOK: “The Nickel Boys” AUTHOR: Colson Whitehead ABOUT THE BOOK: Historical and literary fiction of 213 pages, released in July 2019 RATING: 5 Stars REVIEWED…

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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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