Weekend Reads: Vagrant Story, Stranger Things & Adoption, Donnie Darko, Firefox Quantum, the NFL’s Impending Demise & more

Also: Indie record labels, the new Blade Runner, Star Wars timeline, Mad Max: Fury Road, a history of Photoshop, Origen, and science and religion.
Vagrant Story
One of the best PS1 games. Maybe someday I’ll beat it.

Peter Tieryas sings the praises of the classic PS1 JRPG, Vagrant Story. “Directed and written by Yasumi Matsuno, it’s a role playing game that defied categorization, mixing genres while telling a complex story that blended seamlessly with the gameplay and art style.”

Taylor Deupree discusses his acclaimed 12k record label. “The aura around the label has grown to be much greater than just me in the basement just packing up orders. And that’s been by design since day one. It’s not like I’m putting anything false out there. I’m just to trying to create this sense of community, or this curatorial sense — this little ecosphere of happening — and hope it gets out there.”

Stranger Things: Hopper & Eleven
The best family in Hawkins, IN

Stranger Things 2 offered a moving portrait of adoption and family. “Stranger Things 2 wears its heart on its sleeve and holds up the self-giving virtues that build strong relationships and desirable communities. After the bondage and decay of broken relationships, the inescapable Upside Down, and a power that threatens to tear her apart, Eleven’s search for a place where she belongs culminates in a simple scene at the end of the series: the understated exchange of a piece of paper.”

Blade Runner 2049 explores some weighty theological themes. “It asks that we do not go passively into the future — that we at least begin to consider what it is to be human, what it is to be God, what happens when people play at being God, and by what factors personhood is determined.”

Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly
Have you ever seen a portal?

How does Donnie Darko hold up after all these years? “Sixteen years after its release, Donnie Darko still exists in a universe all its own. A work that welcomes endless debate thanks to its productive ambiguities, each viewing is different from the one before.”

A new Star Wars movie comes out later this month, so here’s a breakdown of everything that’s happened since Return of the Jedi. “But if you’ve not been keeping up with the utter behemoth that’s the tie-in universe of Star Wars media, there’s an awful lot to dig through. Here’s everything you need to know about the major events of Star Wars’ post-Return of the Jedi history, as well the source material that covered those events, in case you want to explore them for yourselves.”

Mad Max: Fury Road
Witness me!

Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t just the greatest action movie of 2015; it might be the best action movie ever made. “Miller found a way to tell a moving, mythic, larger-than-life story in a fully-realized alternate world, and he did it without ever letting up on the throttle. He spent nearly 20 years developing the movie, keeping at it through false starts and heartbreaking dead ends. And when he got the chance to make it, he went all in, devising entire societies full of baroquely souped-up death machines and screaming war-cults. He found ways to devise, stage, and film stunts that are like nothing anyone’s ever accomplished.”

Talk about nostalgia: here’s a look at the first 20 years of Adobe Photoshop. “On February 19, 2010, Adobe Photoshop turned 20 years old. Take a look at the evolution of Photoshop over its first 20 years with this image gallery. Browse product packaging, splash screens, and screen shots while learning about the history of Photoshop and its features.” The first version of Photoshop I ever owned was v4.0; its splash screen is burned into my memory.

Firefox Quantum
And it has an updated logo to boot

Wired says Firefox Quantum is a better browser than Chrome. “It turns out there are lots of things Firefox Quantum could do to improve the browser experience, and it did many of those things. The new Firefox actually manages to evolve the entire browser experience, recognizing the multi-device, ultra-mobile lives we all lead and building a browser that plays along.”

Will Leitch ponders the end of NFL. “There was a time, not long ago, when the NFL was the most unifying public institution we had. No matter your political or demographic persuasion, the one thing you could find to talk about with someone was football… Now, suddenly, the league that was once for everyone seems to be in crisis.”

Origen (André ThévetPublic Domain)

In light of all of the sexual abuse allegations swirling around, perhaps more men should follow the example of Origen. “Though many of his ideas (such as the pre-existence of souls) were condemned as heretical by later generations of Christians, he was still arguably the first important Christian theologian to come along after the Apostles and was directly responsible for the present entanglement of Christian theology and classical philosophy — for good or for ill. Oh, and he also cut off his junk.”

Repeat after me: science and religion are not enemies. “[T]he story of enmity between Christianity and science has often been distorted and overstated, leading us to forget some of history’s most influential science advocates and fueling a false dichotomy that unnecessarily polarizes scientific debates today.”