Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

The Success and Failure of Silence: Gordon Freeman in 'Half Life' and 'Half Life 2'
By Ciarán Ó Muirthile
In terms of silent protagonists few come bigger, or quieter, than Dr. Gordon Freeman, whose beard, glasses, and crowbar cut an iconic figure, which has left an imprint on video game culture, reaching the tops of popularity polls. [18.Apr.14]
What Do We Do When Our Online Comics Collections Explode?
Complications or confusion aside, the hacking of comiXology demonstrates a disconcerting vulnerability in digital comics. [18.Apr.14]
Counterbalance: Disclosure's 'Settle'
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread, right? Then it's time for another edition of Counterbalance. This week it's electronic time with a critically acclaimed UK hit from 2013. [18.Apr.14]
That Thing, That Time…: A Look at Mimi Ponds Over Easy
Over Easy is hauntingly beautiful, breathtaking, ferociously intelligent. It allows us to peer behind the veil of private lives in a radically different way to other biographies. [18.Apr.14]
Slint: Spiderland: Deluxe Box Set
The expanded story of Slint's Spiderland shows that the album doesn't define place or genre so much as it illuminates a singular approach to making music. [18.Apr.14]
Today's Articles
18.Apr.14
Slint: Spiderland: Deluxe Box Set
The expanded story of Slint's Spiderland shows that the album doesn't define place or genre so much as it illuminates a singular approach to making music.
Medeski, Martin & Wood plus Nels Cline: Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2
The funky organ trio gets together in the studio with a live audience and an adventurous guitarist to break the mold.
Weekend: The '81 Demos
Former Young Marble Giants vocalist Alison Statton steps out on her own with a collection of demos that seek to bridge the gap between what that group was and what Weekend would become, influencing countless indie pop acts in the process.
The Souljazz Orchestra: Inner Fire
Eclectic, showing an appealing musical restlessness, Inner Fire is both enjoyable and exceptional.
Blue Highway: The Game
The game never stops for the long-running bluegrass powerhouse.
Counterbalance: Disclosure's 'Settle'
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread, right? Then it's time for another edition of Counterbalance. This week it's electronic time with a critically acclaimed UK hit from 2013.
Shirin - Take a Bullet (audio) (Premiere)
British singer Shirin brings glampop back front and center, but she can rock too and sounds like the next in the line of great UK dancepop divas.
Johnny Depp Is Ubiquitous Not Only in Real Life, but in 'Transcendence', Too
The decision to preserve the consciousness of Johnny Depp's AI researcher is a Frankenstein- and Skynet-like Very Bad Idea.
'Make Your Move' Ain't Got the Groove
Make Your Move seems determined to take the most circuitous route through its myriad generic clichés.
Jan Svankmajer's 'Alice' Is the Perfect Marriage of Content and Style
Even when darker in subject matter, Jan Svankmajer's films all retain an element of joyousness and childlike wonder.
Tribeca Film Festival: 'Lucky Them'
Lucky Them focuses on a music journalist who can't break free of her history as the girlfriend of a deceased-Seattle rock icon but this romantic comedy falls short of its potential.
That Thing, That Time…: A Look at Mimi Ponds Over Easy
Over Easy is hauntingly beautiful, breathtaking, ferociously intelligent. It allows us to peer behind the veil of private lives in a radically different way to other biographies.
What Do We Do When Our Online Comics Collections Explode?
Complications or confusion aside, the hacking of comiXology demonstrates a disconcerting vulnerability in digital comics.
Backwards to School, Dept.: Exclusive Preview of MAD #648
Reading “Being Thrown Under the Syllabus, Dept.” in the upcoming MAD #48 is reading classic MAD.
'Cloudbuilt': The Devil Is in the Design
Where Cloudbuilt really shines is at the intersection of art and level design. Art and science operate in a delicate dance, blurring the lines between the two.
The Success and Failure of Silence: Gordon Freeman in 'Half Life' and 'Half Life 2'
In terms of silent protagonists few come bigger, or quieter, than Dr. Gordon Freeman, whose beard, glasses, and crowbar cut an iconic figure, which has left an imprint on video game culture, reaching the tops of popularity polls.
Place and Space in 'Device 6'
Device 6 does a wonderful job conveying the physical layout of an environment, but does a relatively poor job conveying the unique characteristics of a location.
Miley Cyrus + Sky Ferreira: 5 April 2014 - Brooklyn, NY
Miley Cyrus's performance is not a sexed-up act, but a manifestation of her bad-ass, "female rebel" persona.
Cloud Nothings + Ryley Walker: 12 April 2014 - Hamden, CT (Photos)
Cloud Nothings helped Connecticut let loose some angst at a wild-all ages show.
'Americas Forgotten Constitutions' Bear Potent Messages for Our Times
What can the ‘failed’ constitutions of American history teach us about building community and galvanizing social movements?
Recent Articles
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Marketing in the Age of Surveillance
What do you get when you try to marry perky start-up optimism with the ominous prospect of the surveillance age?
Duck Sauce: Quack
They may not ever be able to achieve the dizzying heights of "Barbra Streisand", but Quack is more than worth the wait.
It's Not Easy, 'Being Ginger'
Kermit the Frog may have said it’s not easy being green, but this entertaining documentary shows that it’s sure not easy being a ginger, either.
Rodney Crowell: Tarpaper Sky
With a recent Grammy in hand and momentum on his side, a Nashville legend returns to the studio with some old friends.
On Being Up a Creek with Only a Paddle
Love Is a Canoe is about how people in love will latch onto any floating bit of debris to salvage their sinking relationships.
Shakira: Shakira
The Colombian chameleon’s new eponymous album sees her ditching the squelchy Latin beats of her last English-language album, in favor of dipping her toe into country, ska, rock, and EDM.
Twilight: III: Beneath Trident's Tomb
Twilight have slammed the tomb shut and are hostile to all visitors, leaving a disconnect between the listener and the songs outside of “Oh Wretched Son” and “A Flood of Eyes”.
Talib Kweli: Gravitas
Although there are a few moments that lack the edge of his debut, Gravitas is a welcome return to form -- of sorts -- for Kweli.
The Mast: Pleasure Island
Goodbye, guitars. Hello, electronics.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Scorsese vs. Scorsese: Tales of Two Dreamers
The Wolf of Wall Street celebrates deception, whereas Hugo upholds the search for truth. Which worldview is Scorsese's?
Goldieblox vs. the Beastie Boys: A Parable on Permissions
When a song becomes forever connected with a product, particularly with the use of a parody lyric, it's deemed “baked” or “overused”.
The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films
Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.
'The Blind Swordsman' Teaches How to See Video Games More Clearly
The Blind Swordsman at first might seem like madness, a video game without an essential component of the video game, the video part.
20 Questions: We Are Scientists
These guitar-based indie pop titans release a delightful new album, discuss the greatness of Tusk, and find a correlation between Macbeth and BASEketball.
Bruce Springsteen's Artful Criticism of American Culture
This is an ambitious undertaking, weaving American history, popular culture, and Bruce Springsteen’s music into a cohesive narrative.
The String Arcade
This isn't an exercise in nostalgia or recognition, but a journey into new territory.
Woods: With Light and With Love
With Light and With Love is Woods' most cleanly produced record to date, and the brittle edges of their sound now melt around bright, bittersweet songs.
'30 for 30 Soccer Stories: Hillsborough'
Hillsborough recalls the horror of that day, the FA Cup Semi-Final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Boundaries Are All Fictions in Godard's Breathless
Even now, after countless reviews and essays, it's easy to be captivated by the way Godard obfuscates our expectations for cinematic art.
Cayenne Pepper Enemas and Other Developments in Early Medicine
From applying leeches to mapping the shape of the human skull, Erik Janik describes a drama of medical history in Marketplace of the Marvelous.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Sam Cooke's Tennessee Waltz: A Cultural Geography
With his rendition of "Tennessee Waltz" for his 1964 Copacabana shows, Sam Cooke proceeded to do the impossible: he made the waltz swing.
In Defense Of ... Jesse Winchester
With the news that the singer-songwriter has passed, it's time to look back on someone Bob Dylan once dubbed 'The Greatest Living Songwriter'.
How Bad Games Can be Good
It is valuable sometimes to look at something broken to see how well it could work.
It's Going to Be Hard for 'Fargo' to Seem Like Anything More than Coen Brothers Fan-Fiction
While the TV version goes down its own solitary snow-swept roads, its sprawling cast of characters featuring proxies for the film’s iconic figures.
Super Anger Management: Action Comics #30
Undermining someone's principles is everyone's kryptonite.
Stuffed, Wired, and Eager to Please: 'Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy'
Walter Potter crafted hundreds of animals, amphibians, and birds into intricately assembled Victorian dioramas for the delight of his fellow Britons.
The Both: The Both
Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are a perfect pairing on their new band's immensely likeable debut.
'The Making of a Lady' Is a Fine Portrait of Mystery and Misdirection
There is only one place to find the social acuity of Jane Austen and the inquisitive intrigue of Alfred Hitchcock, and that is in a Frances Hodgson Burnett story.
Carlene Carter: Carter Girl
Carter Girl, plus family and friends, delivers a rousing tribute to personal and family history.
Lilacs and Champagne: Midnight Features Vol. 1: Shower Scene
With Midnight Features Vol. 1: Shower Scene, the sample-heavy duo of Lilacs and Champagne prove that their one-of-a-kind sonic can function beyond the realms of the recording studio.
Mudhoney: Live at Third Man Records
If this is what a Mudhoney shows sounds like these days, then I say hooray for longevity.
Monday, 14 April 2014
Rock the Cashbox: The Great Rock n Roll Sellout
How you can’t sell your soul to rock ‘n’ roll because it has already sold its soul... There once was a time during the new Age of Aquarius when the length of someone’s hair meant more than the balance in their bank account.
'Blue is the Warmest Color' Is Truly a Feast for All the Senses
What Blue is the Warmest Color demands of its viewers is to stop looking and start sensing, start engaging with cinema with all five senses.
Moving Pixels Podcast: Another Hand of 'Hearthstone'
This week we play a few hands of Blizzard's collectible card game, Hearthstone, while considering its place in the free-to-play gaming landscape.
Why 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Is Not a '70s Thriller Throwback
When the film's story showcases the turncoat nature of those in power, it doesn't have the impact -- or the ideas -- of the films from the '70s.
When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - Good to My Baby
With the second track of The Beach Boys Today!, we get a solidly written song reminiscent of the group's earlier singles: sophisticated but digestible and fun.
A 'Simulacrum of Life' in Words: Marcel Theroux's 'Strange Bodies'
In this thoughtful, entertaining novel, Marcel Theroux explores the ways in which we construct 'a workable self out of all the dissonant parts.'
The Room Two
While it is true that a mystery loses all interest once it is explained, it is also true that continually implying something significant without providing a payoff can render it meaningless.
The Afghan Whigs: Do to the Beast
Greg Dulli, John Curley, and some other guys they're calling the Afghan Whigs channel the rock, soul, and dark undertones of the band's classic work on an excellent quasi-reunion album
A Hands-Off Approach Goes a Long Way in 'Philomena'
The direction is solid but not overbearing, the score subtle and light, the entire affair very nicely cushioned around Coogan and Dench's performances, and the film is all the more effective because of it.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib: Piñata
Madlib and Freddie Gibbs drop one of the best hip-hop albums in recent memory.
Making Sense of Nonsense and 'Assembling Flann O'Brien'
Given Brian O'Nolan and his sly guises, one must wonder what this erudite satirist makes of this posthumous tribute to his tetchy talents.
PopMatters Highlights
'L'Immortelle' (1963) (Short Ends and Leader) [Fri, 4:02 pm]
'Home in Indiana' (1944) (Short Ends and Leader) [Fri, 4:01 pm]
Nature, with Narrative: 'Disneynature's Bears' (Short Ends and Leader) [Fri, 4:00 pm]
Echaskech: Origin (Capsule Reviews) [Fri, 1:30 pm]
Diego Barber: Tales (Capsule Reviews) [Fri, 12:30 pm]
Sax Ruins: Blimmguass (Capsule Reviews) [Fri, 11:30 am]
Shirin - "Take a Bullet" (audio) (Premiere) (Mixed Media) [Fri, 9:27 am]
Counterbalance: Disclosure's 'Settle' (Sound Affects) [Fri, 9:00 am]
'Make Your Move' Ain't Got the Groove (Reviews) [Fri, 9:00 am]
Tribeca Film Festival: 'Lucky Them' (Notes from the Road) [Fri, 8:12 am]
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