Winter essentials: warm art for snow days


Celeste – courtesy photo

Whether you’re loving the nip of Wichita’s winter wind or find yourself weathering seasonal depression, a good piece of art can warm your heart this season. Our writers are here with some of their favorite frosty picks. Bundle up, put on a pot of cocoa, and dive in.

Videogame: “Celeste”

“Celeste,” set in the snowy environment of a literal and figurative mountain, is the perfect — yes, perfect — game for winter. By some miracle, “Celeste” manages to be delightful to play, gorgeously designed, and heart-wrenching all at the same time. In other words, it’s an instant classic. It makes most videogames look like a waste of time. It’s not just me who feels this way — just search “best games of 2018” and you’ll see what I mean.

Like old-school Mario games, “Celeste” is a 2D platformer with dead-simple controls. You jump, dash, and climb your way across levels. Why play a game in a genre that’s thirty years old, you ask? The simple truth is that “Celeste” takes every element of similar games and makes them better, then integrates them into an incredible story of the main character’s struggle with her mental health.

As Madeline, you climb Celeste — a mountain with mysterious, legendary properties — and the difficulty of your mental fight is mirrored in the toughness of each level. The difficulty of the game would cripple a game that wasn’t so thrilling to play. A gorgeous, heart-pounding soundtrack accompanies you as your soar through dangerous levels that are as dynamic as they are rewarding.

“Celeste” will enchant you into pushing past the ceiling of your limitations. As its story becomes your own, you might just find the ceilings outside the game becoming more and more within reach.

Music: “Funeral” by Arcade Fire

“And if the snow buries my, my neighborhood / And if my parents are crying / Then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours.”

Over a bed of strings, the opening track of “Funeral” builds its own word, a landscape of childlike wonder and heartache. The gorgeously arranged, twinkling record soars as it navigates a torn universe. In the piling snow and tragedy that wracks the record’s characters, they reach out for each others’ love and warmth. “Funeral” is an ode to survival through companionship. Chock full of compassion and astounding melodies, it often feels like “Funeral” is a musical companion in and of itself.

The members of Arcade Fire wrote their debut album in a state of devastation after a series of family deaths. Grief and a sad suspicion permeate the record, appearing through powerful images throughout that flip clichés with grace and find beauty in the chaos of death.

Power ballads explode into upbeat dance tunes and aggressive guitar riffs give way to glockenspiel melodies. “Funeral” thrives on the emotional friction of its subject matter. Sparks fly as Arcade Fire strikes love against loss. The resulting flames are strong enough to carry the listener through any pain — sometimes just sitting by something warm and moving is enough.

Literature: “If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler” by Italo Calvino

In one of the most wonderful pieces of meta-art out there, Italo Calvino tells the story of you, the reader, trying to read “If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler.” Calvino’s isn’t one of those Onion articles with a great headline and a phoned-in article to back it up. Instead, it’s an absolute blast from beginning to end. Full of surprising twists and delicious ideas that are introduced at lightspeed, “If On a Winter’s Night” is a rare book that’s as fun as it is smart.

Calvino’s book clocks in under three hundred pages. Each chapter seems to introduce a new genre and setting to the table, resulting in a kaleidoscopic reading experience. The waves of new content, characters, and ideas eventually form into a more cohesive narrative that would be frustrating if it wasn’t so enjoyable. “If On a Winter’s Night” is the type of book that will have you exclaiming, “I can’t believe this sort of thing exists!” as you’re reading it. There’s no better time to start this literary adventure of a lifetime.