Get Ready for Mission Creek! April 5-10

Get Ready for Mission Creek! April 5-10

Mission Creek Festival returns to Iowa City April 5 – 10. The festival is dedicated to inspiring and building the arts and culture community in Eastern Iowa.

Each year the festival utilizes the existing cultural geography of Iowa City – bookstores, clothing stores, performance venues, and movie theaters – turning the downtown into an easily-navigated nexus of music, art, and transformative experiences. Most events will be within about five minutes walking of other events.

Mission Creek Festival is presented and produced by The Englert Theatre. Information on all Mission Creek events can be found on the Mission Creek website.


The Corridor Review is excited to cover the 2016 Mission Creek Festival. We’ll be live-tweeting events @CorridorReview.

Tuesday, April 5th:

Alison Bechdel

Venue: Englert Theatre
Doors Open:6:30 pm

Presented in partnership with University of Iowa Lecture Committee.
Time magazine named her book Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic the Best Book of 2006, describing the tightly architected investigation into her closeted bisexual father’s suicide “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.” Fun Home was adapted into a musical in 2015 and was nominated for five Tony Awards including “Best Musical.”

Thursday, April 7th:

Venue: The Mill
Doors Open:8:00 pm
Supporting Act(s):Subatlantic The Wandering Bears

Co-Presented by SCOPE Productions
Originating from Baraboo, WI, the band members of PHOX have since formed an American sextet creating an alternative form of folk/indie pop blend with beautiful tones and rhythm.

Since releasing their album, PHOX has continued to capture listeners with their folk-pop mixes. Drawing inspiration from Feist, Sufjan Stevens, and countless others, the members of PHOX will do nothing shy of sooth your soul.



Venue: Gabe’s
Doors Open:8:00 pm
Price:$15 – $18
Supporting Act(s):Trouble Lights Cuticle

YACHT are artists based in Los Angeles.
“YACHT’s new album, I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler, is a sweeping and visionary critique of the 21st century. It reveals the band at its most self-assured: critical, funny, tough, and musically diverse, crafting an infectious and hyperactive conceptual pop that seems to seep through the walls of an alternate universe. YACHT’s knowing references to technology, feminism, and media are layered in complex arrangements in songs about holograms and phones, police violence and identity, sex and the future.”


7th Annual Lit Crawl

Writers and publishers from across the country again invade downtown Iowa City businesses for three hours of literary mayhem. More information coming soon. Visit for more details.


Friday, April 8th:

Marc Maron

Venue: Englert Theatre
Doors Open:6:00 pm
For more than twenty years, Marc Maron has been writing and performing raw, honest and thought-provoking comedy for print, stage, radio and television. A legend in the stand-up community, Maron has appeared on HBO, Letterman, Leno, Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Real Time with Bill Maher, John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up, The Green Room and two Comedy Central Presents specials. He has appeared on Conan O’Brien more times than any other comedian.


San Fermin

Venue: Gabe’s
Doors Open:8:00 pm
Supporting Act(s):Esme Patterson Extravision
San Fermin is a lush Brooklyn-based baroque pop band, molded by the talented Ellis Ludwig-Leone after he graduated from Yale, where he studied composition and assisted Nico Muhly, a well-known contemporary classical music composer and arranger. The band has traveled all over the world, playing sold-out shows and opening for prominent bands such as the National, St. Vincent, Arctic Monkeys, and The Head and the Heart. With their blend of classical music, pop, and rock, featuring wide-ranging lead vocals from Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, San Fermin’s live performances have been noted to deliver an emotional and epic experience.


Information on these events and many more can be found on the Mission Creek website.


A Digital Gamer Exploring the Analog Gaming World

By: Devin Carney

“Uh, I don’t know, let’s check the manual…”

In my roughly 26 years of video gaming, I don’t think I ever uttered these words. Instruction manuals were decoration; something you would peruse while in the back seat of your parent’s van while you were on the way home from the store. Pictures of enemies, descriptions of the various icons, and seizure warnings were all par for the course. Very rarely, if ever did an instruction manual tell you how to play the game. The closest you might get would be the “Nintendo Tips and Tricks” number on the back (only $0.89 per minute to talk to a game expert, a steal!). A manual is redundant when you can just figure out what the A button does by playing.

As I approached 30, I realized that I had missed a chunk of nerd experience that I felt slightly guilty for missing: Tabletop Gaming. Sure, I’d known the joys of “Trouble”, “Sorry!” and setting up “Mouse Trap” just to sadistically make that old man dive into a shallow, empty tub. But these weren’t nerdy endeavors, just things that happened along the way, purely incidental for a child growing up in the late 80s and 90s. I imagined that it would be as simple as picking a game, reading the rules, and slaying a bazillion dragons with friends.

My first choice was based purely on “cool” factor, a game called “Arkham Horror” (experienced tabletop fans are probably screaming internally at this point). I mean, what could be more amazing than teaming up with 1 to 7 of your closest friends to stop Elder Gods from another dimension from unleashing horror upon our world? I was certain this would be the hook to get me down a long road of enjoyable social hours spent crowded around the table, drinking beer and throwing dice. Nothing could stop this train!

This is what’s in the box:

Oh god, what the hell is any of this?


The train left the tracks, exploded into flames, smashed into the water, and sank down to the very bottom of the ocean, never to be found. All lives on-board were lost. No services will be held.

I spent 3 hours reading the manual. That’s more time than I’ve spent staring at game manuals in the past 26 years combined. The sad thing was that I didn’t understand a word; as soon as it introduced a new rule, the previous rules were gone. When can I enter a portal? How do I investigate? Hoping to make some sense of it all, I punched out all the little tokens from their cardboard carriers (very cathartic, actually), browsed through the cards, and felt hopelessly lost. I began to believe the true game of madness was trying to figure out what the hell you were supposed to be accomplishing. It all seemed very meta; perhaps the madness was inside me all along. Perhaps the game was already played.

I spent hours upon hours scouring the internet for clarifications on the rules. When one question was answered, another would takes its place. Every discussion inevitably had the same comment:

“Seriously, the rules in this game suck. Buy <Insert Other Game Here> instead.”


I started to feel slightly better about my inability to grasp anything about the game. I slowly placed all the pieces back into the box, gently placed the manual on top, and closed the lid. It was my secret shame that I never figured out how to play. I kept it around for the artwork, and thought that someday I’ll win the Nobel Prize and have the intellectual confidence to pull it out again.

It’s hard not to feel defeated. If a 7 year old can figure out the rules to Uno, shouldn’t a 30 year old be able to figure out a game that prominently displays an age range of 12+? What does a 12 year old with a firm grasp of “Arkham Horror” look like? What scholarship to an Ivy League school does he already have?

“Easiest tabletop game for stupid people”

Google had my back. The one consistent answer was always a game called “Love Letter”. A game so simple, that it has only 18 cards and the rules are written on the cards. I’d gone completely the other direction. Half of the pages for the rulebook were a story ripped out of a Harlequin romance novel written for elementary school kids. It involves a Princess, her suitor, and a guard. The word “Milady” is used unironically.

Who could possibly feel intimidated by a game like this?

Ahhhhhhhh, that’s better!


Everyone gets a card. On their turn they draw a card, use the ability of one of the cards in their hand (written on the card) and then discard that card. The objective is to either have the highest-numbered card by the end of the round, or to eliminate your opponents. This stupid game became a hit. It was easy to play in 5 minutes, and everyone could grasp the rules, even me.

I’d found my gateway drug, and enlisted my friend Jerry to sit around and take hits with me. “Love Letter” led to “Munchkin”. “Munchkin” led to “Rat a Tat Cat”. “Rat a Tat Cat” led to “Star Realms”. “Star Realms” led to “Legend of Drizzt”, which turned to “Catan”, and so on.

Whatever game, whatever night, no matter how many times we played, we’d always utter “Uh, I don’t know, let’s check the manual…”. It’s a constant. I went from viewing the manual as an unsurmountable obstacle to viewing it as a way to verify I was playing correctly. I didn’t need to know it inside and out! It’s like a good friend that you hang out all the time, but you aren’t sure when it’s their birthday.

Finally, not so long ago, and feeling much more experienced, I decided to pull out my Everest, “Arkham Horror”. The familiar pieces with gibberish I never understood, gently placed in baggies, untouched for years. I cracked open the manual and began reading.

Seriously, how the hell do you play this damned game?!

If you’re interested in starting board gaming in the Corridor and are not sure where to start, here are several local stores that hold regular events and carry a selection of games:

Tempest Games
212 Edgewood Rd NW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52405

3625 1st Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
1123 7th Ave, Marion, IA 52302
702 S Gilbert St #104, Iowa City, IA 52240
Devin will continue to coverage gaming, local events, and board game culture on The Corridor Review, so be sure to check back for more!


Do We Love or Hate Jonathan Franzen?

By: Emily Weber

It’s quite possible that Jonathan Franzen is that smart guy in your late-teens early-twenties that you fall in love because he’s so smart, even though he’s a complete asshole. Unfortunately, I’m still under the Franzen spell so I’m struggling to write a review on his newest novel Purity. But I will work on it and try to have a more subjective and critical friend write another review at a later date. Sorry you’re stuck with me for now.


Purity, like The Corrections or Freedom (I only read the giant Franzen novels, and I’ve read nothing in between these) has several protagonists. The first is Purity Tyler, a 23-year-old who goes by Pip and has an incredibly strange and needy mother from whom she must move far away if she ever has any chance of actually growing up (I mean, Bolivia). Pip’s got $130,000 of student loans and a crappy job. The 2016 reader gets it.

Franzen writing from the perspective of a 23-year-old woman is awkward and a bit creepy, I’ll admit that. Hold on for the next few sections, though, because he really hits his stride with some of the other persons featured. Next we get Andreas Wolf, a Julian Assange type character (though he shudders at the comparison being made by several observant characters in the text) who got his chip on his shoulder by being an enemy of the State in East Berlin. In the context of Wikileaks, Sony leaks, even Apple’s battle with the government’s “back door,” it should not surprise us that the ultimately zeitgeist-y Franzen is writing about hackers in his newest novel. His three major (giant) novels are crisp commentaries on their time. This is one of his biggest strengths, so sure he’s going to write about a Wiki-leaks inspired commune stationed in Bolivia in the 20-teens. Sure.

The next two sections follow Leila Helou and Tom Aberant who are both talented journalists in off-kilter relationships battling the fact that they’re really good and smart people who don’t think they’re either thing, and certainly not at the same time. Now, if you’ve recently read me gushing about Spotlight, or the first few seasons of Newsroom (before this moment), or House of Cards, you know I’ve got a big thing for journalists in fiction. Leila and Tom’s sections of the book just sing for me. Their both brilliant and funny and I wish they were my parents/mentors (Pip does, too). I think I read the whole chunk in one sitting. I don’t want to spoil anything about their parts, so give their story a shot if nothing else.

Now I know that people read Purity and come away feeling uneasy about Pip and her mother, and even at times the completely brilliant Leila because of how strangely Franzen writes women. The concerning aspects of their character that seem to overwhelm them from being real people (craziness toward men, craziness toward other women, flakiness, insecurity, etc.). I feel uncomfortable telling women they should read this novel because I feel like they might judge me for liking Franzen. I mean Gawker ripped the book completely to shreds. I’m not saying the people saying these things are wrong.

But I really like the way Pip and her mother come to relate to each other, and the way Pip learns to look up to Leila, and the way everyone in the novel (male & female) have to come down off of their moral high-ground if they’re going to stand to be around each other. And I just can’t help that I really like the way Franzen writes and crafts a story. I think he describes our times in such witty, intelligent ways and line by line his writing has this wonderful speed that I really enjoy. Plus the novel doesn’t feel too “literary” and the plot is full of really fun twists and turns. As a story, it’s really entertaining.

For every person who loves Purity there will be someone else who doesn’t love it, so that’s why I recommend everyone to read it. If you think there are problems with the story Franzen’s telling, you’re not wrong. But if you like the story and you like the writing, this novel might give you something to argue with your friends about. And that conversation has never done anyone wrong. So, tell us what you think.

You can find Purity or other novels by Franzen at your friendly, neighborhood bookstore, like Next Page Books.

Online Literary Journal: Submissions

Online Literary Journal: Submissions

Literary Journal Submissions

Submitting via Email
Please email your submissions to Use the subject line: The Corridor Review Submission. Spring-Summer submissions are due May 30, 2016.

 Simultaneous vs. Multiple Submissions
We will accept 3 submissions per writer per reading period. Simultaneous submissions to other journals are fine as long as they are identified as such and we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere for legal purposes.

 Manuscript Guidelines

  • Typed pages.
  • No hard copy submissions, please
  • Fiction and nonfiction: Less than 6,000 words. Excerpts of longer works are welcome if self-contained and we can link to a site where you have posted the longer piece.
  • Poetry: Submit 1-5 pages at a time.
  • Flash fiction is encouraged!
  • We will accept photo journalism and stories but make sure you send the photo files in high resolution format.
  • We will accept essays, but only on topics of art, culture and lifestyle. And we will accept your recipes!


We’re sorry we can’t pay you at this time. We are willing to post and promote links to your own personal blogs and publications will do everything in our power to promote your work at this stage.

Find more information on the literary journal here. Please direct any questions to

We’ve created this site as a platform to share the things we enjoy with people of Eastern Iowa. We hope others will share their passions, too! If you would like to write an article for the blog about something in arts and culture world that interests you, pitch it to us at:

Thanks, The Corridor Review Team

On: The Road to Wrestlemania

By: Cole Swanson

(Cole is a guest blogger for The Corridor Review, who writes wrestling articles over on

On Saturday, March 5, the Road to Wrestlemania passed through Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With WWE’s “Show of Shows” a little less than a month away, the US Cellular Center found itself packed with a hyped crowd who was ready to drop big money on merchandise, yell at dudes in tights and, in my group’s case, drink $90 worth of Bud Light.

WWE Live

Here’s what went down:

* Match 1: AJ Styles def. The Miz *

Despite being in the WWE for little more than a month, Styles got a great, positive reaction from the crowd. Miz did an amazing job working the crowd into a frenzy of boos with his smarmy Hollywood persona.

* Match 2: Jack Swagger & Darren Young def. Curtis Axel & Adam Rose (Social Outcasts) *

In hindsight, this was the low-point of the night. Darren Young alone commands no real reaction from the crowd, so pairing him with Swagger was a good move, but Swagger doesn’t have much going for him these days, either. I was genuinely surprised to see both of them wrestle a match, let alone team up.

* Match 3: WWE United States Champion Kalisto def. King Barrett *

Of all the people who wrestled on Saturday, no one got a more polarizing reaction from the Cedar Rapids crowd than Bad News Barrett. There were competing chants of “Let’s go Barrett” and “Barrett Sucks.” Kalisto was a big hit with the kid demographic. Not so much the “my brother” demographic, who claimed he wanted to challenge Kalisto for the US Championship right then and there. Kalisto has yet to accept or decline.

* Match 4: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) w/ Kofi Kingston def. The Dudley Boyz & The Usos in a triple threat tag team match *

With Big E being a U of I grad, we knew this was going to be an entertaining segment, and it didn’t disappoint. Before the match, Big E covered his ears as Kofi and Xavier talked about how terrible Iowa was, evidenced by their loss in both the Big 10 Championship game and the Rose Bowl blowout. The match itself was by far the most entertaining of the night, too.

* Intermission *

* Match 5: WWE Divas Champion Charlotte def. Becky Lynch *

Becky got a great, positive reaction from the crowd. Charlotte did a good job playing up her “elitist” attitude during the match. Not a bad match, but not a show-stopper either.

* Match 6: Sheamus def. Neville *

Neville kept his high-flying antics to a minimum during this one. It was pretty much all Sheamus from the get-go. I was bummed we didn’t get to see Neville hit a Red Arrow in person. Maybe next time…

* Main Event: Dean Ambrose def. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens via DQ *

After hearing the crowd’s reaction to Ambrose, there’s really no doubt in my mind he’s the most universally popular wrestler on the roster. And seeing Kevin Owens in person made me love him even more. He has the heel role down to a science. At one point, he yelled to a girl in the crowd who was recording the match to “Watch this!” and then proceeded to throw Ambrose over the ropes on the complete opposite side of the ring. The match ended when KO wouldn’t stop beating on Ambrose in one of the ring corners. While Ambrose was getting back to his feet, Kevin grabbed the mic and started talking trash. While he was gloating, Ambrose surprised him and hit him with a Dirty Deeds to end the night on a positive.

* Parting Thoughts *

Overall, this was a well-paced, entertaining show. Being able to see Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and The New Day in Cedar Rapids was well worth the price of admission, even for a casual fan.

Judging by the crowd turnout and reaction, I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of the WWE in the City of Five Seasons. If you’re looking for a crash course in the world of professional wrestling before that time, feel free to hit me up.

You can find more wrestling articles from Cole, as well as blog posts and podcasts on sports, music & culture on their Facebook.

Next to Normal @ TCR

Next to Normal @ TCR

By: Curtis Stochl & Emily Weber

First let us begin by saying that we attended this show on Friday night, the day that House of Cards premiered on Netflix, so you know it had to be good to get us out of the house.

Attending a show at TCR is a delight and there are so many places nearby the theater you can eat and have a drink before or after the show. We visited both White Star Ale House for a drink before the show, and Need Pizza after the show (for a #RestaurantWeekSpecial– clam & artichoke heart pizza!). Curtis also wants to emphasize that he always feels like he can go to a show at TCR in jeans and not feel out of place, which is a huge win for men who like the arts but don’t like to get fancy. Here’s to Cedar Rapids for making a Friday night at the theater feel just right.

So, Next to Normal.

The musical is an ensemble cast of six characters: mother, father, daughter, son, daughter’s boyfriend & therapist, who are all struggling with the mother’s mental health fight in different ways. As Diane, the mother, battles a 16-year-long struggle with manic depression, every member of the family feels as though they are holding the family unit together through their own efforts,  just trying to “get it right.” The father by aiming to keep everyone cheerful, the daughter (Natalie) by working hard, boyfriend (Henry) by helping Natalie not fall apart, the various therapists and doctors by always coming up with another cure. A main focal point of the show is Natalie, the 16-year-old hard-working daughter who believes she can study,  practice piano, and overachieve her way out of the tough life she’s been thrust into. Nikki Stewart who played Natalie did a fantastic job. It was Natalie’s moments with Diane that really carry the emotional through-line of the show.

You may not guess it from the subject matter, but Next to Normal is a rock musical with lots of energy and loudness. This is an area where Curtis and I disagree about the show, not that this arena is within TCR’s control. Curtis feels the show would have been stronger as a straight drama, rather than a musical (this is almost always his belief, though, with musical theater). I disagree, I don’t feel the audience could handle the heightened emotions of the shows’ themes without the relief of the punchy, energetic music. It’s a tough show as it is. Many sniffles coming from the audience during this one.

Let’s talk about the technical qualities of the show. This was an area where TCR’s production really shined. We’ve actually seen this show once before, performed in a larger city, and we thought TCR’s production was much better.The set is simple but beautiful: a suburban house with three vertical levels cut open in the front so the viewer can see straight inside. You can see the family exposed inside at all angles. Color and light were also done really well. The set and props are gray or white, except certain items (pills, memory box, spotlights on certain characters) that are highlighted in bright, vibrant colors. Dramas like this that can focus on the story and have a simple production (without being a big to-do) are a real strength of theaters the size of TCR. All the focus is put on the story and the emotion of the characters. It was very well done.

We highly recommend seeing this show before it’s gone. Tickets are still available for Saturday & Sunday 5th-6th, as well as next weekend, Friday-Saturday the 11th-12th. Buy your tickets online and use the special code given by TCR so part of the proceeds will benefit a local human service organization. It’s great to see TCR support the community in this way. Kudos for being a community partner.

I can’t lie about the fact that this story left me, as an audience member, feeling a little helpless. If you’re living in Iowa at the moment, you’re probably hearing about the mental health and disability service funding that the state is lacking. Maybe you’re wondering what you can do to make a difference. I would bet, when you see this show you’ll want to do something to help. Consider reaching out to some of the community partners TCR is working with and see what you can do. Nothing is too small to make an impact: Tanager PlaceNational Alliance on Mental IllnessAbbe Center for Community Mental Health, and Foundation2.

This show may not be a feel-good, but it will make you feel like you should try to do some good.


Some recommendations from Curtis on films that people who enjoy this show might be interested in:


Inside Out. Next to Normal is sort of a grown-up Inside Out.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next (which is referenced in the show)

and any Darren Aronofsky film.

It’s tough watching people fight their way out of a hole, only to fall back in. But it’s a story that’s real and relevant.




Book Review: A Little Life

Book Review: A Little Life

By: Emily Weber

Whoa. Like Everyone says, this is a book that hurts to read and hurts to put down. It makes you smile and tear up on every page and leaves you with the most unsettling of feelings every time a chapter ends pleasantly. If you have ever worried about a friend, or cared about someone with a draw you don’t really understand, you will connect to this book.


A Little Life is more than just a great plot about four friends living in New York after college. It is about memory, friendships, and those who go all in for their passions. It is about time passing and how that changes the previously mentioned themes, in ways good and bad.

Plus, can we talk about the writing itself? Unbelievable. I could read Yanagihara describe art and scenery at such length. If only those were the only things that were described so vividly (I’m squeamish)… But really the writing is very well done. It is like reading a painting.

Once you’re in this book, it doesn’t let go of you for 700 pages, so tuck in. The author has mastered the art of when to reveal a long-desired secret, and just how much to give at a time so that it keeps you wanting to know more.

Next Page Bookstore owner, Bart Carithers, agrees: “The international acclaim Hanya Yanagihara has received for her novel, A Little Life, is well deserved. She is a gifted writer and her novel weaves an incredible story.”

Next Page Books

The fiction section at Next Page Books pictured above.

After consuming A Little Life, take in the following on Instagram:@alittlelifebook and @hanyayanagihara for more.

Share what you think of the novel! Author Hanya Yanagihara writes back to The Corridor Review: @ hanyayanagihara“Thank you so very much for your very kind post!”

You can find A Little Life and Yanagihara’s first novel The People in the Trees(2013) at Next Page Books in the NewBo District in Cedar Rapids, IA.