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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
The plot holes in Marion Parsonnet's script suggest that this film, too, is living dangerously.

Jane (Nancy Coleman) is a beautiful spy for the British war effort. In New York, she’s kidnapped by German agents and lands in the hospital after a car accident gives her temporary amnesia—or does it? Her doctor, Michael Lewis (John Garfield), alternates patronising her and hitting on her when she tries to explain the situation, but soon they’re both prisoners in a mansion with a man (Moroni Olsen) who claims to be her father. Running the scheme is the distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Ingersoll (Raymond Massey), proving Hollywood’s then-popular thesis that you can’t trust head doctors.


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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
The questions asked by the behavior in a game are limited in comparison to those asked by choices. They are always about violence.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on PopMatters talking about moral choices and how they can be an effective tool in our understanding of and our engagement with a game. I started by discussing an example of a directed choice, moved on to a more fundamental understanding of why many supposed moral choices in games don’t work, and finally by looking at a different presentation of choices in games like Papers, Please. After publishing all three posts, fellow PopMatters contributor Jorge Albor briefly asked about my focus on consequences regarding moral choices.


It’s true, both the games and my writing highlighted what he called a “consequentialist ethic” whereby the outcome was more important than virtues or values. This has been a bugbear of video games for a long time. How does one get a player to concern themselves with what they are doing instead of what they will get out of it? How does one get that player to not just focus on items or experience, but on story content and so forth? In talking about recentering moral decision making on moral values instead of moral consequences, I want to talk about something that I previously left alone in my discussion: behavior.


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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
Andrew Bird's newest album Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of... features covers of the Handsome Family that were brought to life at Summerstage.

After Luke Temple, of Here We Go Magic, opened to a crowd that had already reached the venue’s capacity Andrew Bird started off his Summerstage show with three solo offerings before bringing out his backing band. The troupe called The Hands of Glory performed with Bird for the rest of his lengthy set reimagining his originals (draw from nearly a dozen albums) and some covers, mainly those from Bird’s most recent album, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… consisting entirely of songs originally by The Handsome Family. This backing band included regular collaborators Tift Merritt, Kevin O’Donnell and a few others and they gave Bird a country nest from which to perform though there was a couple chances for him to go on one of his more abstract, whistling journeys. A fine performance for the outdoor venue on an evening that remained undisturbed by rain.


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Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014
Check out the scuzzy, raw, and lo-fi new tune by Birmingham, Alabama garage rockers Dirty Lungs, "Dead in a Graveyard."

Anyone who has ever jammed with a couple of friends in a garage or a basement will immediately feel at home upon spinning “Dead in a Graveyard”, the latest tune by the Birmingham, Alabama rock outfit Dirty Lungs. From its shouted, simplistic chorus, to its rough-around-the-edges guitar distortion, and especially its improvisatory-sounding guitar solo, the song has all the hallmarks of a gritty, lo-fi rock tune. It’s no surprise that this quartet has become a staple in the Birmingham music scene; the vitality and energy in Dirty Lungs’ songwriting is palpable, even in the quick burst that is “Dead in a Graveyard”.


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Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014
"The Freshmen" defined them, but their pop songs since were mature and nuanced. With his band's first album in 13 years, Brian Vander Ark tells us what he thinks is the most tear-jerking scene from Frozen and just how long he can sustain a burp ...

Contrary to popular belief, Brian Vander Ark was never much of a rock guy.


Oh sure, he was the guitarist and lead singer for the Verve Pipe, who, in 1996-1997, dominated the airwaves with the inescapable, era-defining modern rock single known as “The Freshmen”, but in truth, Vander Ark was a pop purist at heart. Their 1999 follow-up to their breakthrough album Villains featured memorable pop-rock numbers like “Hero”, but by the time they released 2001’s supremely underrated Underneath, they brought on Fountains of Wayne frontman and noted pop-savant Adam Schlesinger as producer, and were focused on crafting pop songs in the most classical of senses. Their commercial prospects never matched the heights of “The Freshmen”, but while that song somewhat defined the band for some people, their hardcore fans knew that the band was capable of so much more.


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