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Archive for June, 2012

Mr. & Ms. Pac-man at Level Up

Quarters are being used for more than just parking meters and washing machines these days. For $0.25, Oregonians can escape reality and enter into the world of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Troy. They can even drink a beer while trying to get to the next level. That’s because barcades, or bars that feature classic vintage arcade games, are beginning to sprout up across the Pacific Northwest. For avid gamers and gaming novices, barcades offer a fun environment for anyone old enough to reach the start button.

Barcades are hitting new levels of popularity because of nostalgia, because people want to connect together in real life, and because it’s fun. There aren’t many things in life that still cost a quarter. Thanks to new establishments like Level Up and Blair Alley Vintage Arcade popping up in Eugene, Oregon, people now have places to grab a drink, meet up with their friends, and play the video games from their childhood.

Nostalgic games like Pong (1972) and Frogger (1981) may seem out of date but they’ve never been more popular.  Kids and adults are lining up to play these games from the ‘70s and ‘80s because they celebrate the simplicity of the past. Kids can learn the game quickly while parents and the older generation can jump back into their favorite game without much practice. For Andre Sirois, a Eugene-based DJ, this means it’s easier to socialize while trying to get to the next round of a game. “The old games are simple.  One or two buttons, a joystick, and that’s about it.  So, you can go out with the homies, drink, be social, and still play these games,” Sirois says.

Aaron Thayer, gamer, game review blogger, and author of Silicon Sasquatch, agrees that nostalgia plays a major role in why vintage games are rising in popularity. “What seems to prevent these games from dying is the level of nostalgia they impart upon people, and that’s the same for frequent gamers and those who haven’t touched a game since Pong. Many gamers, myself included, play these older games because of the memories attached to them,” Thayer says.

This is exactly what barcade owners are banking on: customers reliving those childhood moments. Level Up is the latest bar to open up its door to gamers in the college town. It’s centrally located both to the University of Oregon and downtown Eugene, making it an easy place to meet up or play a round of pinball. With only a handful of bars to choose from in the college town, Level Up offers Eugenians a place to get away from the regular bar scene and try out something new or old, depending on their level of gaming expertise.

It’s only been open since April of this year, but Level Up is already becoming a hot spot, drawing people of all ages to stop by. “Happy hour is from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. If your kids get off of school and you get off of work, you can have a beer while your kids do their thing,” says K-I, assistant manager at Level Up. “It’s a safe place and there’s always a good vibe in here.”

Level Up also wants to reiterate to its customers that it’s not a nightclub. The space used to be occupied by The District, the troubled dance club that had a history of problems with the law. The barcade does offer daily and weekly events for patrons to enjoy. Customers will soon be able to purchase hanging pieces of artwork featured by local artists and Thursday and Friday nights cater to those looking to blow off some steam on the dance floor.  Andre Sirois also moonlights as DJ Foodstamp during Next Level Fridays. But don’t expect to hear any LMFAO or Nicki Minaj. “DJ Foodstamp is more of a turntablist. He plays the classics which is the vibe we’re trying to maintain in here,” K.I. says. The bar is open until 2 a.m. and kids are welcome to play games until 9 p.m.

It’s refreshing to see that these vintage games have a home again. With the advent of in-home gaming systems like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation, kids never had a reason to leave their rooms in order to play their favorite games. Thanks to barcades, now people can congregate together, play against each other, and compare scores and gaming techniques. This environment encourages a more active approach to gaming, rather than the sedentary lifestyle that so many gamers have become accustomed to. “We are used to video game masturbation; that is, playing by ourselves,” Sirois says. “Barcades get us away from our computers and allow us to play games socially. Not like fake socially via a network, but in person.”

It may be 2012 but walking inside Blair Alley Vintage Arcade in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, feels like strolling through an arcade in the 1980’s. It celebrates a time when machines and video games were packed into one giant room and people came together. Located directly behind Ninkasi Brewing Company, this pinball haven offers food, dancing, and plenty of games for the whole family to enjoy.  It’s a little off the beaten path but that’s part of its charm. As owner Chad Boutin says, “It’s a speakeasy arcade.”

Arcade sign located outside of Ninkasi Brewery

What started out as Boutin’s 350 square-foot photography studio waiting room turned into a full fledged bar and arcade in a matter of months. “My friends brought four pinball machines over and I had one already. We started opening up the space for Friday night art walk and people loved it,” Boutin says.  Within three months, they added a bar, two bathrooms, increased the size of the entrance door, obtained a liquor license, and opened their doors for business. “It’s that place, when you have a friend in town, that you take them to because only a local would know about it,” he adds.

Blair Alley Vintage Arcade also offers food and has happy hour specials. Kids are welcome until 9 p.m. and all the machines are set up so they can easily be moved and played outside once the DJ arrives. It certainly has the old vibe of a classic arcade, with all of the machines lined up inside a dimly lit room and the sounds of quarters clanking in the background. “After you’ve been here 5 minutes you know without a doubt that this is a place you want to spend some time in or thanks but no thanks, I’m never coming back. Don’t you wish all your relationships were that up front in 5 minutes?” says Clark, a regular customer and part-time worker at the bar.

August, age 3, masters mini bowling at Blair Alley

Now residents of Eugene don’t have to drive out of town in order to play their favorite vintage games. Ground Kontrol, located in downtown Portland, and Shorty’s, located in Seattle, used to be the only options for barcade enthusiasts living in the Pacific Northwest. Wunderland, a family-owned nickel arcade, has franchises all over Oregon but it’s catered more to children and those under the age of 21.

Although the barcade isn’t an entirely new concept, the community of Eugene appears to be catching up to the trend. Who wouldn’t want to grab a beer, play a round of Pac-man, watch a game on the big screen, and dance until it’s time to go home? With two barcades opening over the past year and half and another console-based lounge set to open in the near future, it looks like this trend isn’t going anywhere.

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What if I don’t live in Eugene? No problem. Take your quarters here:

Barcades are popping up all over the country!  The original barcade in Brooklyn, New York came about thanks to five friends coming together back in 2004. They bridged their love for gaming with their love for American craft beer and established Barcade. Just this year, two more Barcades have opened in Jersey City, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over in Grand Rapids, Michigan, gamers can head over to Stella’s Lounge where they can enjoy Sunday brunch and their favorite vintage video games.  Denver, Colorado is the latest city to get on board with the arcade/bar concept. The 1up opened in June 2012 and features three lanes of Skee-Ball and multiples sets of Giant Jenga, in addition to 45 classic arcade games and 15 pinball machines. Game on!

Barcade in Brooklyn, New York
(credit: barcadebrooklyn.com)

Barcade in Jersey City, New Jersey
(credit: barcadejerseycity.com)

Barcade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(credit: barcadephiladelphia.com/)

Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids, Michigan
(credit: heinemanbarco.com)

1Up in Denver, Colorado
(credit: the-1up.com)

The women’s bathroom at Ground Kontrol in Portland, Oregon

Shorty’s in Seattle, Washington
(credit: http://www.shortydog.com)

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Fall of 2011 saw the installation of two art bike racks in downtown Eugene. While there is a plethora of utilitarian pipes and posts throughout the city, these new hunks of metal were a bit more in line with the spirit of Eugene. There are plenty of examples of public art scattered throughout the community. Murals adorn the backs of businesses, sculptures decorate planters in the heart of downtown and sidewalk chalk, graffiti and random installations around campus and in parks make Eugene more colorful. The artistic bike racks not only provide visual stimulation, but physical accommodation as well.

“I think it makes a pretty big statement,” Richard Hughes, president of the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs), said. Yet, Hughes says the “more artsy” element of the racks is not necessarily a help to the cycling community.

“It softens motorists… or pisses them off.”

Hughes acknowledges he’s no art critic, but he knows bikes and he knows Eugene. So, when he became involved in the art corral project, he was disappointed by one huge oversight for a project in a town known for a particular kind of weather.

“They’re cute,” he said. “But where’s the roof?”

(more…)

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image via The Book Cover Archive

In 2010, when e-books outsold print books for the first time, culture columnists from the The Atlantic and Slate posted conflicting reactions. Mark Oppenheimer wrote, “Simply put, gadgets give us too much privacy. We’ll go into people’s houses or squeeze next to them on the subway, and we’ll no longer be able to know them, or judge them or love them, or reject them, based on the books they carry.” Elanor Barkhorn, associate editor at The Atlantic responded, pointing out, “after all, in this era of social media we broadcast our cultural preferences habits more loudly than we ever did before.” The popularity of e-books and reading online has sparked discussion in the publishing community over the future of the print book, the importance of book covers, and how we communicate.

The shift from print publishing to online and e-book platforms follows the patterns music and photography have taken in the last decade, from material objects to digital ideas and concepts. Reactions from people working with books range from optimism to ambivalence to staunch rejection. Evon Smith of Smith Family Bookstore says, “I can say with confidence that Smith will never sell e-books. We love books as objects.” On the importance of covers, she says, “We have the adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but when buying used books we absolutely judge them by the cover.” She says customers who come in the store with a specific title often browse the shelves, and end up with three or four books that catch their eye. In her own reading habits, Smith reads in print almost exclusively, except for checking her email.

Marleda Jones, library assistant at the Eugene Public Library says the e-book industry in still new and in flux, and she sees the format as another platform for delivering content to readers. “I have noticed covers are made more simple for electronic publication, with high contrast images and bigger text size,” Jones says. “Maybe this form of reading expedites the process of transferring information.”

“Much is to be gained by e-books,” says Chip Kidd, long time book designer for Alfred A. Knopf in a TED talk in April, “ease, convenience, portability. But something is definitely lost. Tradition, sensual experience, the comfort of ‘thingy-ness.’ A little bit of humanity.” In his speech, Kidd demonstrates how he created the Jurassic Park logo by copying a diagram of a dinosaur skeleton and distilling it to the now famous side-view head and shoulder silhouette. He says a story needs a face, to give a first impression and to let the reader know what he or she is getting into. Kidd argues the importance of the form of a book, including how it feels, its scent, and its emotional ambiance. “Even though we love publishing as an art, we know it’s a business too,” he says. Kidd’s speech, like his work, is engaging and bit flashy. What about readers who get their books from the library? Or those who are more interested in content than its form, presentation, and how it’s marketed?

A conflict arises between publishers whose motivation is to invent new ways to define and distribute books and readers who want to preserve the quality and value of reading in print. Tim Schaffner, founder of Schaffner Press, writes on Publishing Perspectives, “We must ask ourselves as we hurtle forth into this new age if we are losing not only the intrinsic value of the physical book itself, but the value of readership as a whole.”

There’s a marked difference in tone between the those nostalgic for old-fashioned print and those looking forward to the digital future. The print purists write elegies for dusty hardbacks while the futurists evangelize the values of blogs and open source authorship. Craig Mod is one of the futurists. Mod, a writer and designer, has written about publishing in the digital age on his homepage. He says the digital platform frees the book from its confines as a printed object. He uses Wikipedia as an example of public authoring that, according to him, surpasses the physical encyclopedia in usefulness, quality, timeliness, and convenience. The qualities print loyalists value – permanence, reading in solitude, a printed book’s sort of sacredness – Mod says we should forget. Similar to Wikipedia’s text, which continually changes through updates, Mod says digital books have the flexibility to change over time, through updates from the author, and from notes and comments in the margins from readers.

Looking at opposing views on e-books objectively creates the impression that a battle is going on between print and digital people, but that may be far from the truth. The librarians, booksellers, critics, and designers I talked to or read share a dedication to literature, and while they disagree on the big issues, each one plays an important role in the book culture. Whether the future of publishing is in trouble or if digital can save it, or if we should say “forget it!” and read a book is a matter of perspective.

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by Alex Marga

Seattle Building

Seattle’s skyline is full of various types of buildings, new and old. These particular buildings hug a courtyard on Pine Street & 4th Avenue.

When we go through our day, passing through building after building, we are constantly bombarded with the walls, floors, doorways and windows around us. Whether we are having dinner at home working in an office building, our surroundings take on a form of emotion that either connects us to that place or pushes us away.

Buildings have emotions built into the blueprints. Each component is thought through hundreds to thousands of times, whether it’s the shape of the building, or where to disperse the sprinklers on each floor. While each part is important, it’s usually the little things that matter the most to both the audience and to the architect.

We take advantage of various things in a building: light-switches, stairs, sinks, windows, doors, and more. But there comes a time when we really see what we use and appreciate it. That’s the art of architecture.

San Franciscan architect and real estate developer Don Bragg has been in the business of buildings for 25 years, working on indoor pools, homes, office buildings and Burger Kings. Over those years he has discovered his tastes in buildings and practiced them on his own designs.

“I consider architecture as an art form first and foremost,” says Bragg. “I like the holistic approach of the design of a building.”

A simple choice to do stone work versus woodwork for a home can be a deal breaker for potential buyers, but putting too much artistic thought into something can cause other problems too.

“You want these things that are on these buildings to have an artistic representation, but you don’t want the building to look haphazardly [sic],” says Bragg.

EMP

The Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington rests in the sun at the base of the Space Needle. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Experience Music Project (EMP), Frank Gehry’s elaborate building in Seattle, Wash., is one such building that receives criticism for its unusual design. With multiple slabs of brightly colored metal overhanging the glass door entrances on each side, and its place next to the iconic Space Needle, the EMP is not one people flock to for inspiration. According to

Harold Washington Library

The Harold Washington Library, located in Chicago, Illinois, is often criticized for its over abundant homage to various types of architecture. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

writer Bunny Wong, this building is “everything from ‘a multicolored blob’ to ‘open-heart surgery.’”

Other buildings, like the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Ill., create a different type of criticism: pretentiousness. “Neoclassical references collide with a glass-and-steel Mannerist roof; throw in some red brick, granite, and aluminum… and you’ve got way too much architecture class for one day,” writes Wong.

Bragg believes that the best type of architecture is one that can combine each component with ease. “Despite differences between different parts [of a building], it should at no point forget about itself,” he says.

Some of the most famous buildings tend to be ones that stick to one style. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France remains famous for its elaborate ironwork, and the Louvre museum, also in Paris, showcases an elegant glass pyramid that plays with the eyes when lit up. Both keep a consistent style and are praised for their iconic images.

But when it comes to average architecture, each person has his or her own preference. “I always like when they put stone on the wall,” says Bragg, who praises his own house for being an interesting piece of architecture.

While the actual building is a piece of artwork, to make a functional part of that building into a piece of art is a feat of its own.

“Whatever component is designed to be a part of a building must be artistic,” Bragg says. That means every light switch, every doorframe, and every side of the building must be designed to look pretty.

The fire escape, for example, has a specific use: to quickly exit a building on fire. However, the incorporation of the iron or steel bars on a building – traditionally brick – creates an interesting contrast to the often-drab metal-and-glass buildings of modern times.

Portland Fire Escape

This fire escape, located in Portland, Oregon, has been painted white to match the white bricks on the building. People use the fire escape as a balcony, plant holder, or extra storage rather than its intended use.

“When we design buildings, there are entire indoor [fire exit] corridors being planned alongside the building,” says Bragg. “But in San Francisco most buildings that are six or seven stories have fire escapes.” The choice to leave almost obsolete objects on a building is purely an artistic choice, but one that reflects the style of that building.

There’s a cultural implication for certain pieces of architecture, alongside the aesthetics of it. Stained glass windows are reminiscent of cathedrals and the Renaissance era, while fire escapes are a reminder of tenement houses and neighborhoods.

Whether it’s a specific component of a building, or just the style that it fits into, architecture resonates with everyone in contact with the building. It can bring up good memories and bad ones, it can make you feel uncomfortable or completely in your element, and it can make you wonder about the world or not at all.  Without even you knowing it, architecture is quite possibly one of the most important elements of life.

Sidebar:

Architecture by Woody Allen

Famous neurotic director Woody Allen is an architect-phile. Finding the beauty in even the most down and dirty places, Allen tends to romanticize the art of buildings and place by making them characters in his film. Well, not characters in a traditional sense at least. Here are five brilliant examples of architecture in Woody Allen films.

1.    Paris, France (Midnight In Paris, 2011)

Paris is one of the most photogenic cities in the entire world. With a history of brilliant architecture and the romance of the various colors and style coming together as one, it’s hard to find a bad picture of the city. So, during the opening credits of Allen’s latest film Midnight in Paris, he decides to let the city show itself.

2.    Rockaway, New York City, New York (Radio Days, 1987)

The story of Radio Days relies heavily on the setting: as Allen tells the story of “his childhood” (a fake version, but one that doesn’t seem to be too far off from the truth), he illustrates the memories from the Rockaway in New York City. The way he describes his neighborhood for the first time becomes an important piece of the plot.

3.    Beverly Hills, California (Annie Hall, 1977)

It’s the beginning of the end of Annie Hall when Alvy (played by Allen himself) and his girlfriend Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) head to Los Angeles for Christmas. While this example is not one of Allen’s moments of praise for architecture, it does illustrate his taste and dislike for the sunny West Coast versus his beloved New York City.

4.    New York City, New York (Hannah And Her Sisters, 1986)

Holly (played by Diane Wiest), one of Hannah’s sisters in Hannah and Her Sisters, is on a date with an architect. Well, she’s more of a third wheel of a date with an architect. As they drive through New York City at night, the three characters discuss the beauty and elegance of various buildings and why they stand so gracefully next to some that are not so beautiful.

5.    Manhattan, New York City, New York (Manhattan, 1979)

Nothing screams New York City more than the opening of Manhattan. As Allen attempts to kick-start his story in the perfect manner, black and white shots of the Manhattan district of New York City roll on, all set to the music of “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. The entire scene is so elegant that despite not even mentioning the buildings, Allen introduces them like characters to his plot.

HONORABLE MENTION: Rome, Italy (To Rome, With Love, 2012)

Because the film hasn’t come out yet, it’s not fair to add it to the list just yet, but already from the preview we can tell that Allen is sure to make the audience fall deeply in love with Rome.

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The clean Northwest breeze splashed her face as she made her way over the grassy hill. The breath that she was trying so desperately to catch was knocked right back out of her lungs as she took in the sight. The glittering ripples of the Columbia River mimicked the deep blue of the sky as it weaved through the scaling cliffs of the Gorge. The bright sun sat regally in the west of the massive globe above her and the pounding bass of the music resounding from the stage at the bottom of the hill vibrated inside her ribcage, welcoming her back. Finally able to deeply inhale the clean air of the Pacific Northwest, Berrin Boyce, with the broadest of grins on her face and tiny pools of happy tears collecting in her eyes, bellowed out in her loudest voice:

“Happy Sasquatch!!”

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Three senior theater major students, who are graduating this June, are ready to move forward and pursue their theater career in their own ways.

Miller Theatre Complex at University of Oregon is the place that students learned and got experiences.

June is a season of graduation in the city of Eugene, Ore. Each student is excited and anxious at the same time. Kyle Leibovitch, Derek Verhoest and Sophie Kruip, theater students at University of Oregon, are not the exception. Leibovitch is going to New York to attend a conservatory for acting. Verhoest is starting his acting career in Portland, Ore. Kruip is getting an apprenticeship position at a theatre in Philadelphia, Pa. They have been studying and working hard together on the shows at university theatres with other great theater mates and amazing faculties. No one can argue about University of Oregon theater department not offering one of the top best programs in the country. However, Leibovitch, Verhoest and Kruip believe that a broad range of experiences and its uniqueness of UO theater department made them realize what they really love.

Theater students know that pursuing any types of theater career is not easy. According to John Schmor, the UO theater department head, no more than 10% of the students who graduate move into a professional theater work field right away after they graduate over the last six years. Also, not a lot of students go to a graduate school or conservatory. Many students tend to get a non-theatrical job at the beginning and keep trying for a while, which has always been how theater people start out. For example, a number of students work for Netflix and help the customers on the phone.

“When you are 21, you are floundering to figure out how to break into the business or how you want to do with it.” Schmor says. “It takes a couple of years.”

In fact, theater students have a lot of advantages in the business field, according to Schmor. They are self-disciplined. They know the importance of meeting a deadline. They, especially the actors, are often well spoken and professional when speaking in front of people. They know how to dress. And they know how to cooperate. Because of that, many of the students usually do not have a hard time finding some kind of job as their first step.

“I think we are really good at giving students a broad range of experiences, and we are really good at supporting the liberal arts degree,” Schmor says.

Students in theater at University of Oregon are required to take many kinds of classes, such as acting, stage setting, costume and make-ups, directing, playwriting and drama history.

Verhoest thinks that it is valuable for the actors to learn about the different aspects of theater production. By taking non-acting classes, actors will be able to have different perspectives and build a better relationship with other members of the production staff, such as directors and designers.

Leibovitch says that the comprehensive program gives time to students to deeply think about what they really want to do in the future. For example, Kruip was nominated, as an actor, to join the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival twice. KCACTF is a national theater festival program in every February, which involves 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide to help improving the quality of college theaters in the country. Although she really enjoyed acting, she then realized how competitive the acting world is. It made her wonder whether acting is something that she really wants to do.

At the same time, the UO theater department as “jack of all trades, master of none” could also be a downside in some situations.

“I am just worried that I don’t have enough skills in any one area,” Kruip says. “By the time to you to decide, it is the time to you to leave.” She did not choose to go to graduate school because of the money issue. She did not really want to spend $40,000 more for an education.

The city of Eugene is not a perfect place for theater people either.

Schmor says that there is no theater in Eugene that pays professionally. Though Lord Leebrick Theatre Company pays on a semi-professional basis, there is no equity company.

After Leibovitch moved to Eugene from Los Angeles, where he grew up, and fell in love with theater, he found that the UO theater department was inspiring. He thinks that he could not make a decision to go to New York to pursue his dream without it. But he also admits that he cannot be satisfied by staying in Eugene.

“I want more. I want to really just invest myself,” he says.

Kruip built a great relationship with the faculties, backstage crews and classmates in her four years of college life. She also loves the laid-back atmosphere of Eugene. She is originally from California but does not want to move back to the big cities, such as New York or Los Angeles. At the same time, she is not satisfied with a city with very few community theaters, such as ACE, Actors Cabaret of Eugene.

“I am more ambitious and more driven, so moving to a new city is pretty important at this point for opportunity,” she says.

Despite of these concerns, the students appreciate what UO theater department gave them. One of the things that the students are really proud of about the program is the Pocket Playhouse. The Pocket Playhouse is the smallest theatre in the basement of the Villard Hall, which is completely under the direction and operation of students. The theatre is open to all UO students to hold any kinds of show. Because of the limited number of shows and crews, not all theater students are able to join the main university shows that are performed at the Robinson and Hope Theatres. The Pocket Playhouse is a chance for those students who do not have any former theater experiences. Some students take classes and then do their first show at the Pocket Playhouse, and some does the opposite.

“It’s very experimental,” Verhoest says.

Kruip experienced every aspect of theater at the Pocket Playhouse. She acted. She designed. She stage-managed.

“You can do whatever you want in there,” she says.

Those experiences had greatly helped her building her resume to apply for the apprenticeship.

“This is a special resource that we have, and I wish that more people would take an advantage of it,” she says.

One of the shows that Leibovitch is very proud of is Sonnets for an Old Century, which was performed at the Pocket Playhouse last year. It is a series of monologues written by Jose Rivera, and that was when he realized that he loves to play a serious character, like the murderer that he played at Sonnets. Even though he himself was fortunate enough to get a chance to be involved in the main shows from the beginning, Leibovitch thinks that the Pocket Playhouse is a great place to be seen by the directors, which is kind of like an audition.

“If you are in the theater, you are going to get denied. That’s just inevitable,” Leibovitch says. “It’s a good opportunity to be auditioned and get used to auditioning in a less stressed situation.”

These Students all have different dreams in theater field. What is common among them, however, is that they all aim to make living out of something they really love to do. The dream might not come true right after they get the degree, but they believe it will eventually.

Kruip’s final goal is to own her own theater. Her dream theater is not just for plays but also for many different forms of arts.

“If I do someday own my own theater, I could do acting, maybe in the theater that I own. That would be ideal,” she says.

Leibovitch’s final goal is to act professionally and work. He does not want to be a one-hit wonder. He wants to keep acting.

“I’m totally content with just being able to work consistently,” he says.

Verhoest says, “I will be happy just supporting myself as an actor.”

The most important thing for him, he says, is to keep doing what he really loves.

He says, “The worst thing that can happen is me giving up on the career.”

The stage of the Pocket Playhouse is his favorite place at U of O.

Kyle Leibovitch, 23-years-old, is going to a conservatory for acting called Atlantic Acting School in New York.

“I didn’t feel like I was ready quite yet to go right into acting career because I was kind of new to theater,” he says.

He was originally majoring in human physiology in his first two years at University of Oregon. But after taking the second year acting class, he just fell in love with theater, especially the people.

“I think my personality fits more towards theater than human physiology people,” Leibovitch says.

He thinks that the human physiology people were more introverted, which did not suit his outgoingness. His personality was more of a weird one, which he thinks who exactly theater people are. The great thing about acting for him is that he can pretend to be and live a life of someone else. He also loves people and to talk to people. So, he changed his major at the end of his junior year and determined to devote his life to acting.

Leibovitch did not have any former theater experiences. However, surprisingly, changing major in the middle of his college life did not scare him.

“It was an easy decision for me,” he says. “I felt at home.”

Even though he could imagine the hardship that he will experience in the future as an actor, Verhoest is full of excitement to move forward to his dream.

Derek Verhoest, 22-years-old, is stepping into the film acting. He has already started his acting career by being part of a TV show, Leverage, as well as short films and feature films in Portland. He will pursue his film acting career for the present. In his opinion, there is a lot more job opportunities in the filming industry than in the theatrical productions. Also, theater shows take a lot of time for the rehearsals, which does not allow actors to join several different works. His plan is to work at a deli place and audition in his off time until he can support himself as a fulltime actor.

“I really don’t mind being like a server or a waiter or a bartender,” Verhoest says. “I think it goes well with my lifestyle.”

Verhoest had been a business major for two years until he first visited to the university theatre and knew about the UO theater program. At the same time, Verhoest’s enthusiasm toward acting has been deep inside his heart. He used to play when he was in 5th grade and has always been an outgoing person. So, when he found out about the theatre, he did not hesitate to join the audition to act at university theatre. Since then, he is completely absorbed in acting. He switched his major few months after his debut to the university theatre.

“I honestly don’t know why I wasn’t in a theater major before,” he says. “It’s just like this missing piece of my life that I didn’t have.”

Kruip found out her real dream through the UO theater program.

Sophie Kruip, 21-years-old, is planning to get an apprenticeship position at Arden Theatre in Philadelphia, Pa. It is hands-on company management experience opportunities, including box office, fund raising and stage management works. Her plan is to work at small theaters and get part time jobs at restaurants at the same time to earn her living for a while. She is ready for the challenging theater life in front of her.

She has been an actor since her 3rd grade and believed that acting is what she is going to do for the rest of her life.

“I still love the acting and I love the recognition too, and I love working with people so closely in a cast,” Kruip says. “I just love so much about it, except for the lifestyle that professional acting would needs.”

Kruip does not want to live an insecure and unstable life with a lot of moving around for a tour. It is just not her style of life.

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, by Jessica Brookes

Canon, AU, OTP. Cosplay, fic, GPOY, fluff. Shipper, mpreg, tl;dr.

These words, acronyms, and initialisms may seem indecipherable, but they comprise a small sample of the jargon that is well known and frequently employed in those communities that join together on the Internet to express a shared love, even an obsession, with works of art and the people that created them.

These fan communities go by many names, but they are most commonly referred to as fanbases or fandoms. They are the homes of the geeks, the nerds, the outcasts. They are the places in which those who are unashamedly enthusiastic about loving things find a safe space to be themselves.

The most popular fandoms today exist primarily online, spread out over thousands of forums, blogs, fanfiction hosting sites, and websites that showcase user-made art. These communities create vast archives of analysis, art, and humor, all hinging upon the shared interest in a particular original work of art or the artist behind it. Crossover between fanbases is not uncommon, and some fandoms are so closely linked that jokes along the lines of “some fandoms marry other fandoms, get over it” often occur.

Jessica Brookes, a member of the Portland Believes in Sherlock fan group, elaborates on both the positive and negative realities of participating in a fan community.

Joining a fandom means an automatic, immediate bond with people who share your interests. In the real world, meeting people who care as much as you do about specific artistic works is harder and occurs less often. Everyone that joins a fan community is there because they expressly desire the opportunity to share their love a specific thing.

“That’s the beauty of fan communities,” Brookes says. “You meet amazing, intelligent, passionate individuals who share your interests, and those people enrich your life in a way that random acquaintances don’t.”

Yet committed involvement in a fandom is not without its drawbacks. A common trend involves those that have been involved in fandoms for longer than others forming an elitist mentality. This can take the fun out of being an involved fan, causing newer fans to feel unwelcome due to fans with seniority claiming superior opinions, greater fondness for characters, and deeper knowledge and understanding of the canon, a term that refers to the concepts accepted by the fanbase as officially a part of the original source material. When significant portions of fandoms develop this attitude, they may get the reputation of being less welcoming than other, leaving newer fans feeling isolated.

In addition to this, Brookes points out the danger of mob mentality forming within fandoms.

“Once something spreads, whether it’s something good or bad, real or fake, it spreads widely and rapidly,” Brookes says. “People can lose sight of reality if they see something enough times, and that’s a major problem.”

Despite any issues that arise from the potential for mob mentality in fan communities, it is no secret that these fanbases are practically bursting with user generated art. Artistic expression in fan communities comes in just about every format imaginable. There are written fictions in countless styles and maturity ratings; role playing games; drawings of any medium on anything from notebook paper to canvas to digital drawing pads; paintings; videos; food art; comics; graffiti; fashion; short, moving animated images called gifs; micro-stories made out of a set of gifs in the styled of a paneled comic; and more. The quality of these artistic expressions ranges anywhere from casual stick figures to commissioned works of art that take months to complete.

Jessica Brookes with her painting of Lara Pulver as Irene Adler

Fan creativity of award-winning quality has existed for decades. The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist was introduced in 1967 and is awarded each year to the creator of the best piece of fan art of the previous year. The Hugo Awards, presented by the World Science Fiction Society, focus on the best science fiction and fantasy works published each year. Because of the strong connection between fandoms and the science fiction and fantasy genres, it is no surprise that attention is given to the most talented fan artists of each year.

With the ever-increasing opportunity for fans to create and share works of art based on original source material comes as much criticism as praise. Fanfiction in particular is often condemned as self-indulgent, pointless, and potentially even harmful to the originators of the work on which the fanfiction is based.

Opponents of the genre dismiss it as inherently lacking value and do not consider any fanfiction to be worthy of the label of literature. Many even consider it illegal.

The tendency to include under-developed original characters, use of poor grammar, and depiction of actions unsupported by characterizations in the canon have all been contributing factors to fanfiction’s negative reputation.

However, as the popularity of fan-created art grows, there is increasing evidence in favor of the validity of fanfiction. Many professional authors and screenwriters have spoken out about their beliefs and preferences regarding fanfiction written based on their works, and the general attitude seems to be a positive one. While it is not uncommon for them to avoid reading fanfiction, usually due to a strong personal connection to their characters, most are in favor of their fans writing creatively about their characters and worlds as long as it is not done for monetary gain. Still, some authors, such as Anne Rice, Lynn Flewelling, and George R. R. Martin, remain firmly opposed to fanfiction created from their works.

Even such high profile authors as J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman have stated their support of fan-created stories, though Rowling is weary of fans writing Harry Potter fanfiction that includes explicit material, asking them to be sure their work is credited to the fan author and not Rowling.

On her blog, Independent Paranormal, indie fantasy and supernatural fiction writer Jennifer Rainey posted a piece titled “In Defense of Fanfiction.” She confesses to having written fanfiction as a teenager and explains how it helped her grow as a writer without her even realizing it.

Writing for a supportive, interactive, and knowledgeable readership, Rainey writes, provides a trustworthy and dedicated critique group that can help hone the skills of an aspiring writer. Additionally, because the communities they write for are so well versed in the source material, fan writers learn the art of avoiding excessive details and focusing instead on key plot and character development.

Fanfiction is not the only creative outlet for fanbases that comes with a negative connotation. Fanart in general is not widely accepted as a valid contribution to the visual arts canon. The two major claims against fanart are that it is not real art and that it does not tend to be a moneymaking venture. For those that create and appreciate fanart, these arguments entirely miss the point.

Tumblr blogger makingtriangles explains the creation of fanart as an expression of the need to make something tangible that explores hows an artist thinks or feels about something. She points to the use of cultural symbols in both art that is original and art that is derived from another artistic source.

Respected artists in all facets of the art world use imagery that recalls mythology or religious teachings as an emotional shortcut for their audiences. In the same way, fanart expands on a fanbase’s shared knowledge of an artistic source to create new meaning behind characterizations, scenes, or interactions.

“I think it’s important to remember that fan communities and fanworks aren’t meant to be harmful to the original content,” Brookes says. “They’re just expressions by fans of their love of something. Most of the time, they’re fun, creative, constructive, and a fantastic way to meet people who are passionate about the same things as you.”

***

The Power of Fandoms as Demonstrated by Sherlock Holmes’s Lovers

Despite the tendency of fan communities to flourish on the Internet, such dedication to works of art is nothing new. There are countless historical cases of fans joining together to discuss and enjoy shared interests based in the arts. Some were even strong enough to influence the body of work of the artists they revered.

Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty, by Jessica Brookes

Contemporary fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories wore black clothing or tied black cloths around their arms in mourning over the death of the main character. So distraught were Holmes’s fans that they took to writing their own alternate endings in which Holmes survived, boycotted the newspaper for which Conan Doyle wrote, and fervently demanded the author bring the detective back to life. American fans created clubs proclaiming, “Let’s Keep Holmes Alive.” The author reluctantly brought Holmes back in response to the surprisingly large amount of backlash.

This ferocity of commitment to the protection of beloved characters and stories remains at the heart of fan communities today. A campaign that mirrors the “Let’s Keep Holmes Alive” clubs erupted after the finale episode of the most recent series of BBC’s drama, Sherlock. Fans of the show hang posters or even graffiti random locations throughout the world with phrases like “I believe in Sherlock,” “Richard Brook is innocent,” or “Moriarty was real. Brook is a crook.” Even the writers of the show have embraced this campaign and delight in the creativity and art with which their fanbase expresses its love of the show. After all, Sherlock is first and foremost an adaptation of the original works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That makes Sherlock, in the end, high quality, well-funded fanfiction.

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