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Scene Selections: Feels like summer

, and | Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Theresa Tulsiak | The Observer

There’s always something to look forward to. For Scene writers, that something is usually a forthcoming album from a personal-favorite artist, a new television show with rave reviews or a movie from A24. Sometimes, the build up to the release of a new thing can be more exciting than the thing itself. So come and share in the anticipation of Scene writers patiently awaiting projects set to drop this summer.

Kendrick Lamar?

By Ryan Israel, Scene Editor

There’s no guarantee that Kendrick Lamar is going to drop new music this summer, but something in the air suggests that it could happen. From 2015 to 2018, Kendrick was prolific, releasing an album a year and placing solid side projects “untitled, unmastered” and “Black Panther: The Album” in between earth-shattering, critically acclaimed solo albums “To Pimp A Butterfly” and “DAMN.” 2019 was almost radio silence besides for a select few feature verses and the chorus on Dreamville’s “Under the Sun.” 

In early 2020, there was a tweet, but it was accompanied by a warning that the album was certainly not finished. In March, a cryptic video shared by Kendrick and frequent collaborator Dave Free announced the arrival of “pgLang,” a still mysterious new company. And that’s it. So, granted, there isn’t much to suggest that new Kendrick music will arrive this summer. But the timing would be right. The hip-hop artist’s last three solo albums have been dense, moving reflections on life and modern society, and at a moment when the zeitgeist is up in the air, it seems no one could speak on it more artfully and forcefully than Kendrick Lamar.

 

“Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition” promises a summer of beautiful exploration

By Jim Moster, Scene Writer

Scene doesn’t write about video games often, but I speak for everyone (without their permission) when I say that we love ‘em. In “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for Nintendo Switch, I’ve been busy hitting ugly villagers with my net and obliterating the ecosystems of Mystery Islands. If I can manage to take a break from Animal Crossing, I plan to purchase “Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition” for the Switch on May 29.

When I first played Xenoblade Chronicles on the New 3DS in the summer of 2015, I discovered a magical, mechanical, emotional world teeming with life. The game takes place on the Bionis, the long-dead husk of a warrior titan. Human civilizations pepper the surface of the Bionis, which has been colonized by lush greenery and fearsome creatures. The main character, Shulk, joins a cast of captivating characters to explore this mesmerizing beast.

Xenoblade Chronicles is so much more than its environment. For example, I still listen to the game’s beautiful soundtrack years later. Nonetheless, I can’t help but associate those summer days playing Xenoblade with the sense of wonder I felt trekking across the Bionis. The game somehow made an expansive world come to life on my tiny 3DS screen. The Definitive Edition promises even more exploration with the inclusion of a hefty epilogue. If you’ve never played Xenoblade Chronicles before, this remastered version is the perfect place to start. The graphics look amazing and the story remains as engaging as ever. And of course, Animal Crossing will still be waiting for you when you’re done.

New Netflix additions

By Dessi Gomez, Scene Writer

In addition to being a pretty popular streaming service, Netflix has certainly capitalized on this whole quarantine thing. While I have seen previews for three new works featuring innovative plot patterns, forms of sexuality that fall outside the gender binary and heteronormativity and plain cheesy humor (see “The Half of It” and “Never Have I Ever”), I want to draw attention to two more popular works that will most certainly live up to their hype. (I also want to shoutout “Love, Victor” on Hulu which, while it might seem like a knockoff of “Love. Simon,” could still be worth a shot). (Oh, also, for anyone interested, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” will be available on Netflix May 15!)

First, the cast of “Parks & Recreation” is reuniting for a one time special airing Thursday, April 30 on NBC and then becoming available for streaming May 1. The current pandemic has inspired this reunion, which will attempt to depict life in quarantine and can be compared to other virtual concerts and events that celebrities have been hosting. This additional “Parks & Rec” episode will serve as a great kickoff to summer, the season when worries tend to feel less dire and humor can come from anywhere. Ultimately, it is a reminder to keep things light.

On the other end of the spectrum is the “Becoming” documentary about Michelle Obama coming to Netflix May 6. I still haven’t read the book, so maybe this will finally inspire me to do so (although not before the documentary becomes available because #finals). Regardless of the order in which I consume the works, I could use a good story of female empowerment as well as a nostalgic throwback to the Obama days. I know that the documentary will reinvigorate me to work hard.

These works can kick off your summer or help you take a study break (read: procrastinate) from finals. Just know that they will be waiting for you on the other side, a light at the end of this infinite tunnel of Zoom calls and sheltering in place.

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About Ryan Israel

Ryan's favorite album is "Blonde" by Frank Ocean and his favorite movie is "Dazed and Confused." He's also a junior double majoring in Sociology and Television, but that's not as important. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryizzy.

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About Jim Moster

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