Federal Arts Funding Crisis

Federal funding for the arts has been steadily on the decline for decades, and looks like it will only continue to drop. In his budget proposal for 2018, Trump has made it clear that he hopes to permanently shut down the funding for the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities).

The NEA provides grants to nonprofit organizations that help fund private artistic endeavors and local organizations. A large percentage of the organizations it funds are ones that reach underserved populations, such as low-income families, people with disabilities, people in institutions and veterans. The NEH supports the preservation of and research in the humanities.

By no means is this slashing of arts funding new to us in 2017. It’s pretty much been occurring with every new budget passed by a president, no matter which side of the aisle. The exclusion of that would be George W. Bush, who managed to get a $20 million increase for the NEA in 2008. Unfortunately, this was the last true ray of hope the arts funding has seen in decades. After slashing them to begin his presidency, Obama eventually fell through on a promise of a 10% hike he promised back in 2012. The increases weren’t enough, and haven’t been enough in a while, to make up for inflation.

While the politicians who seek to end the federal funding for the arts believe that programs get sufficient funding from private sources, many artists and organizations believe otherwise.

Earlier this year, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to the Chicago Public School System, primarily intended for the encouragement of arts. His seemingly small charitable act should not be overlooked. With the slashing of federal funding, the future of the arts will depend solely on private donations such as this.

The best shot we have at reversing the course of the arts funding in America is to use some of our time to research the many dynamics of the budget process, and to contact our representatives with an educated complaint and plea for them to show more support for the arts in Congress. Arts is a bipartisan issue and we should all come together, no matter which side of the political spectrum you fall onto, in order to collectively encourage a future for the arts.


Life throws you around

Life lifts you up

Death is inevitable

Life simply happens

It gives you choices

It takes them away

Nothing is forever

Love doesn’t always conquer

But in the times of despair

Remember a single rule

Remember to smile

Because everyone deserves

A reason to smile


Writers and Sports: A List of 5 People who have Competed and Written

There are two things that seem to have followed me throughout my life as passions: writing and sports. That’s not to say I love both of them equally (it really varies day to day), or even at all (occasionally I will actively hate my writing or whatever sport I’m watching or playing). However, the two are still large parts of my life. So seeing the merging of these two passions, often with the act of writing about sports or the comparisons between the two, captivates me. I’m often drawn to other people who also share these two loves at once, and share it through the act of writing about their sport. Sometimes this will include an athlete who has taken up writing and found they are good at it, or a writer, who has been athletic in their life in a more than casual way, reflecting on their past in sports. I’d like to share some of these people whose writings I’m attracted to.


Rusty Woods


Rusty Woods is a Canadian cyclist with a fantastic blog. I’ve been reading him since 2015. Interestingly, he started out as a runner (well, actually a hockey player, but unsuccessfully). He still has the fastest mile run on Canadian soil by a Canadian; under 4 minutes, too. He switched to professional cycling at age 25 after stress fractures forced him to retire from running. But before I waste more of your time gushing over him as a comeback kid, I should talk about his blog. It’s fairly intense, going from hard fought races to nasty crashes gone viral. I don’t follow cycling too closely, but he makes it incredibly easy to understand the sport itself and his own mindset in each race. I’d recommend starting at the beginning (oddly enough called “The Finale: Part 1”). My personal favorite entry is “The Finale: Part 3” which I won’t spoil but in which he finds himself sick after drinking water in Mexico and compares the struggle to the Battle of Minas Tirith.

You can find his blog here.


Nate Jackson

Nate Jackson is a former professional tight end who spent the majority of his career with the Broncos. He originally began as a wide receiver, starting in his college days, before being converted to tight end before his third season with the Broncos. A series of injuries, ending with a hamstring injury, ended his career. Since then, he has written various articles and essays, usually about the NFL, for various places. My favorite piece by him is “After the NFL Comes Weed, Hollywood, and Fantasy Football” where he goes into his disappointing consultancy on the film Concussion, in addition to other topics. As you might have gathered from that title, he is a proponent of the NFL allowing players to smoke weed. A good place to start with his work, though, is “What an NFL Training Camp is Really Like.” This one, and other pieces, manage to convey an insider’s perspective of the NFL in a way that surprises me every time.

Follow this link to read “What an NFL Training Camp is Really Like.”


James Dickey

Moving away from athletes who are writers towards writers who are athletes brings me to James Dickey. Dickey is really more of an Easter egg for this list. He played football for Clemson as a tailback in 1942. Granted, after the semester, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, but hey! Still counts. As far as his writing goes, he was a poet and novelist. He wrote the book Deliverance. Yes, that Deliverance, with the banjos. He even played the sheriff. He was also appointed the US. Poet Laureate in 1966. I enjoyed the poem “For the Last Wolverine” with lines like:

“Dear God of the wildness of poetry, let them mate/ To the death in the rotten branches,/ Let the tree sway and burst into flame.”

They are some weird lines, but oddly captivating.


Vladimir Nabokov

Oh sure, you expected Hemingway when I got to athletic writers. That’d be too easy. Nabokov actually played a lot of sports, ranging from soccer (probably football to him) to tennis. But the one that he seemed to stick to the most was boxing. He was competitive at Cambridge as an undergraduate, and some of his early work involves poems with titles like “The Boxer’s Girlfriend” or short stories like “Breitensträter – Paolino” which reads more like a love letter to boxing than any traditional narrative. Of course, the work that Nabokov is known for is Lolita, the novel written from the perspective of a pedophile. Pale Fire also comes highly recommended amongst forums dedicated to him.


Leanne Shapton

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the woman who actually sparked the idea for this list. Leanne Shapton is foremost an artist and graphic novelist. But in her youth, she was a national competitive swimmer, making her way to the 1988 and 1992 Canadian Olympic trials. Her memoir of this time, Swimming Studies, offers various interesting takes on how closely athletic and artistic disciplines mirror each other, often in grueling and painful ways. And, of course, she did the artwork for the book as well since she’s a more than competent illustrator. She has other works as well, including one with the incredible title of Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, which is apparently slated to be made into a film.


Obviously, these aren’t the only writers who have been athletic (and vice-versa), but they are the ones who have stuck out to me the most while I’ve read various works about sports. I’d like to find more. So feel free to get in contact with me to hit me with your favorite athlete’s blog or some author gushing over their old tennis days or something along those lines. I’m not that picky about the topic, honestly.

October 16- Poem of the Week

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.



Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)



My Top 5 Halloween Makeup Tutorials of 2017

Makeup is one of my favorite hobbies, and also one of the most overlooked art forms. So when it comes time for Halloween I am nothing but excited to see how creative some people can get with it. Youtube is a great community where many are able to share their creativity and art through the means of makeup. Check out these 5 tutorials for Halloween makeup!

1. Pennywise glam:

I really like how people have been combining the scary aspects of costumes with glam makeup to form a beautiful yet edgy mix of the two. This amazing tutorial was created by the Youtuber Kathryn Bedell.

2. That’s So Raven Cow:

This tutorial was created by the youtuber TooMuchMouth. This is first on my list because I loved That’s So Raven when I was younger and this costume relates to one of my favorite episodes. Also, I have never seen anyone recreate this yet, so it gets extra points for creativity.

3. Glitter Pennywise: 

This next IT makeup tutorial is more on the scary side, which I would expect nothing less from the youtuber Glam&Gore.


Mean Girls is a classic in my eyes. I will never forget the moment when Regina got hit by that school bus. So when I saw a tutorial for her prom look after the accident, I was very interested. You do not see many makeup tutorial for movies that are not scary. Also, I had never seen this before, so creativity points were added for sure. This tutorial was made by the youtuber My Pale Skin.

5. Bratz Doll:

Bratz were my go to doll when I was younger. To see it come to life through makeup was like I was in the movie Life-Size. I loved how she did not stray too far away from the original design of the doll to make this tutorial truly authentic. This tutorial was done by the youtuber Alissa Ashley.


Role Playing: The Art of an Interactive Medium

Art, as defined by Google is “the expression or application of human creative skill or imagination.” A suitably broad definition for a subjective topic. In the rise of our digital age, video games are becoming more pervasive as a form of entertainment. However, video games are also becoming more relevant as a work of art. As with film, the video game is a way of telling a story or providing an experience, and it is the details, whether it be the writing, the environmental aesthetics or the elegance of its interactions, that become important. It is the requirement of player’s input that separates video games from film and allows for new avenues of story telling.

Video games can range widely when it comes to whether they are played primarily for entertainment or even as a sport to cinematic and narrative experiences. Beyond: Two Soul’s (and it’s predecessor Heavy Rain) is a game that asserts itself as a drama. Beyond: Two Soul’s follows the life of Jodie Holmes, and forces the player to take on the role of Jodie for 15 years of her life. The player makes decisions about what Jodie does, from picking what kind of music she wants to play at a party to important moral choices about who Jodie is as a character and what she values. It is the ability to affect how Jodie interacts with her world that allows the player to fully immerse themselves in the life and story of Jodie, and helps the player build a bond with the characters throughout the game. While the game draws heavily from cinematic dramas, it is set apart by its need for interaction that allows the game to be engaging for the longer period it takes to experience it.

While video games like Beyond: Two Soul’s draw primarily from cinematic and dramatic techniques, the history and adaptation of the tabletop RPG (role playing game) is the basis for how many games have players interact with their stories. Tabletop RPGs are games where a group of people come together and collectively create a story filled with both characters and scenarios. Dungeons and Dragons is the most well know tabletop RPG, but a formal rulebook and setting like those provided by Dungeons and Dragons are not required for all RPG games. In games like Skyrim a(nd other installments of the Elder Scrolls series) where you create your own character and are in full control of what they do clearly shows where the inspiration for the role playing genre comes from. This genre of video games stems from adaptions of the tabletop RPG rules into a video game format, such as with Baldur’s Gate, and the evolution of this style of game into the action RPG like Dragon Age: Origins. This has led to the transition into the modern RPG like Witcher 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The influence of the tabletop RPG is not exclusive to the role-playing genre. As mentioned when discussing Beyond: Two Souls, all genres of video game require some measure of role playing. Role playing really shows itself as an art form in more narrative focused games.

While tabletop RPGs are considered a game (the G in RPG is game after all), they also could be considered a collaborative writing style. Each player brings in a character and agrees on certain rules (a setting). Having a diverse cast with potentially conflicting values tends to be innate due to an array of contributors with different characters. Like any narrative, the RPG can approach difficult emotional topics, such as loss or betrayal, but it is collaborative and pushes for players to work together to achieve an experience made by a supportive structure. This variability of input characteristic is also what makes video games able to provide a unique story to each person, and a different story with new perspectives with each successive play through the game. The decisions one makes in a game or how they play can change how the player interprets a story, allowing for one person to potentially get multiple stories from one work. Whether these different perspectives are significant or not is up to each individual, and how the player’s input is handled by the developers.

These characteristics have created a new sector of art, and has allowed the typical definition of art to expand and evolve with advances in technology. This has opened a new world of connectedness, and as everyone gets something different from each story, we are collectively able to contribute to a narrative, making the possibilities for interpretation truly limitless.

Blade Runner and Women- A Movie Review by Sydney Lykins

In anticipation of Blade Runner 2, I reviewed the original Blade Runner. If you haven’t seen the original yet, this does contain spoilers.

Blade Runner is an iconic movie in the science fiction world, but my question is, why it is still such a “need-to-see?” Overall, the idea of the movie is not bad, but the way certain stereotypes and people are portrayed can be really insulting. One can tell how this movie models after Metropolis in how it only uses females as robots and very little for good (as well as the noir, rainy feel that it has).

First off, the movie does have a very noir and robot-y theme going on. This follows closely with Metropolis in that it is in black and white, which gives it a darker tone visually, and has robots that are out to do some damage. The one scene that I found most similar to Metropolis was the very last scene where Deckard and Roy were fighting on the roof of the building. The men fight all the way up to the roof, and then while on the roof, one almost falls to his death. It follows the ideas from the movie.

The lead up to this point, too, is similar in that there is a very long middle of the movie and then all the sudden, boom, the end. It seemed cut short because of the immediate “boom” ending, but it suited the film. Another thing that I found in the movie was a place called “The Bradbury.” I was wondering if this was an allusion to the author Ray Bradbury.

Now for the more important matter. All the females shown in this movie are robots and two out of the three are villainous. The first lady that we meet, Rachael, has been tricked to think that she is a regular person, when really she is pretty much just a slave to Tyrell for his own experimentation. And once she figures out that she is a replication and makes friends with Deckard, she is drawn into him and the movie takes a turn in showing scenes resembling sexual assault. Deckard tells her to ask him to kiss her, so in a way, he is getting some consent, but at the same time, he is telling her what to do. I did not personally like that scene because it made me uncomfortable, as he is taking advantage of her in a vulnerable state. When someone (girls mostly) takes their hair down from the up-kept style it is always in, that usually means that they are allowing themselves to trust someone and to be vulnerable. This is what Rachael has done, and Deckard is taking it for granted because (even though he kills replicants) he likes her appearance. For Rachael, as in all the women in this film, a dominant male figure is in charge of them and they always listen without a fight.

Now onto Priss. She is an exotic dancer that wears a lot of makeup to make herself resemble a doll or toy. Not only does this choice in makeup make her less human to men, but it makes them treat her as though she is only something to be played with. She is in some sort of relationship with Roy, who controls her in every sense of the word throughout this movie. She also uses the fact that she is attractive in order to get to know Sebastian so that Roy can take over and do what he wants. It is like a femme-fatale, but where she only does the evil things because Roy tells her to so that he can get what he wants.

Lastly, there is Zhora, a prostitute with snakes who is also a replicant. The general fact that she is a prostitute is already a stereotype for women that leads to the idea that she does not deserve respect from men. When she runs away from Deckard, her outfit is even revealing to the point that I was pretty sure it could have just been tape and a clear trench coat. It turns out that it was similar to just a very revealing bathing suit, but that does not change the fact that she is shown only to be something for a man’s pleasure. She never did anything explicitly wrong that we saw throughout the movie, and I do not personally know how I feel about her death. Her character as a prostitute seemed very unnecessary.

To sum up my thoughts on the portrayal of women in Blade Runner, I believe this film only used them as replicants to do the bidding for the men. They are objects to be used however is deemed needed, and they are stereotypical women that men seem to like.

Ten Musical YouTubers You Need To Hear

As YouTube continues to rise in popularity and more people fall further down YouTube rabbit holes, many creators on the site have turned to making music, writing books, and an overall passion for the aesthetically pleasing. This has opened up a new platform for others to enjoy once hidden artists the world may not have known otherwise. This is especially true on the musical side of the platform, leading to a rise of musicians on the site recording music that is now available online and in stores alongside more mainstream artists. Here are ten musicians you need to hear that are bringing their musical talents to the world and killing it through YouTube.

  1. Dodie Clark

Known by some as her channel name, doddleoddle, Dodie started her YouTube channel in 2011 with an original song entitled “Rain.” Her postings include original songs, mostly played on her ukulele, about mental health, relationships and sexuality, with a mixture of covers and collabs sprinkled throughout. With this, she has seen a large amount of growth, now having over 1.2 million subscribers, allowing for a rise of opportunities for the young artist including the release of two EP’s: “You” and “Intertwined.”


  1. Rusty Clanton

Also beginning his channel in 2011, Rusty Clanton’s channel contains a mixture of covers and originals from across the years. He more so brings light to the YouTube music community as many of his covers are those of other YouTubers. His raw talent, combined with his aesthetically pleasing, quality videos create an overall experience unlike the originals. He has released an EP of covers titled “Songs by Other People” and a few of his originals. His following is small, with only about 80,000 subscribers, however he is definitely worth a listen


  1. Pentatonix

One of the more famous acts on this list, Pentatonix got its start as an acapella group in 2011. While their group has grown significantly, with multiple recording contracts, two tours, and a number of albums, their presence on YouTube is still going with 13.7 million subscribers, and a growing number of acapella covers getting millions of views a piece. While one of the members, Avi Kaplan, has left the group and the others members in the group have created their own platforms, this group overall continues to kill the game on YouTube


  1. Avriel & the sequoias

Featuring the former member of Pentatonix, Avi Kaplan, this Folk group is bringing a new sound to popular songs. They released their first EP “Sage and Stone” in April 2017 and have amassed close to 400,000 subscribers on Avi’s Channel. Avi’s well known deep voice combines with three others and shows a different side to this musician’s range of work.


  1. Hayley Klinkhammer

Starting her channel 10 years ago, Hayley Klinkhammer has grown her channel solely off of originals and covers. She is known for her use of a looper pedal, which allows her to bring the feeling of a group or band with only one person. She has accumulated over 260,00 subscribers, has gone a couple college tours, and has released a couple EPs and original songs over the years.


  1. Boyce Avenue

Starting as a Rock band over 10 years ago, this band has flourished both on YouTube and off. They have a variety of originals and covers that they continue to post on their page, which has over 10.2 million subscribers. They have released many albums and while they used to be signed with an outside record company, they now own their own label. Their covers and collaborations with others take the popular songs you know in a direction you wouldn’t expect.


  1. Rob Scallon

Known mainly for his handiwork on a guitar and the creation of a guitar out of a shovel, Rob Scallon does things with six strings that are hard to find elsewhere. His main channel has grown to over 1.1 million subscribers. While his channel is popular for his sole use of the guitar for original songs, he has may covers of metal and rock songs that are equally as amazing.


  1. Jon Cozart

His main channel, paint, is filled with original music and covers. However, he is most popular for his parody versions of songs and comical music. His channel, currently at just over 4 million subscribers, features parodies ranging from Disney and Harry Potter to comical looks at social media as a whole.


  1. Bethan Leadley

Also known by her channel name, musicalbethan, Leadley started her channel 8 years ago. Her channel encompasses a range of videos including original music, covers, and “ha videos,” where she simply discusses whatever is on her mind. She has released a single on Spotify and has been on tour under her last name Leadley. Her channel has brought in close to 310,000 subscribers.


  1. Humble the poet

Humble the poet uses his channel to inspire change in the world. He is known for his rap, but his channel, started 9 years ago, contains originals, covers, and poetry/spoken word videos.  All of these works are intended to incite a change in thought and an overall change for the good, focusing on inclusion and self- love. He is also seen in music on other’s channels, including music on Lilly Singh’s channel. His channel currently has over 180,000 subscribers. His positive influence brings a new light to music in the YouTube community


October 2- Poem of the Week

Five Years Later

By Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Arizona’s poet laureate


I was, and now I am.
So much goes into the saying of those few words.
Sometimes this change is sweetness,
A kiss, a caress.  Sometimes,
Nothing warns us.  It cannot be thought by us.
It is done to us.  A gun,
An earthquake, a flood — any of the muscular
Horrors of this world.
In those instances, we don’t ask for it,
We don’t get to take a deep breath,
It is simply the end of the chapter
And Page One of the next.  We are thrown
Into the deep water and we are angry,
We are angry, we are angry.
We could not swim, but now we are swimming —
We have to swim.
It is not fair.  It is never fair.
We have no chance to be part of the decision
That changes us.
We were, and then we are.  Regrettably,
We are not alone.  If it is one of us,
It is all of us, so many of us.
We were, and now we are.
Sweetness or cruelty, suddenness, shock,
A rough touch that could be either:
We are changed.
If it has been a kiss, our lives are turned powerfully
Toward lightness.
But when it is not sweetness, not a kiss,
We live the rest of our lives as someone else,
But someone who is still us.
If we had a gun, because we did have a gun,
If things had gone differently, better,
If the rehab had been more effective,
Had God stepped in, had anyone heard:
We would be living in the regular world.
We could look at the rabbits along the highway
And the blue, ragged mountains in the distance
Like anyone.
But, five years after something happens to us
We are not the anyone.
The jackrabbits and the Tucson Mountains —
We love them, not easily but fiercely, fiercely
In the new way we have had to find.
We love them as who we are now.
We love because that’s what’s left.