Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Swans: The Stuff That Fuels Nightmares

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #3

One of my favorite and least favorite songs (you’ll understand why as you read on) is 93 Ave. Blues by Swans. You know the kind of music that you listen to whenever you’re anxious and need to be in a chill mood to study for an upcoming exam or the kind of music that brings you to a calm level of being and puts you in a peaceful state? This ain’t that kind of music. The kind of music you would hear in some circle of hell, or if the financial aid office was a song, this is it.

Swans are known for their creepy, longwinded music that gives off ominous vibes, but this song in particular really stuck with me after I heard it and I often return to it whenever I want to simulate a horror-like atmosphere. In this song, there’s some groaning that sounds like the voices of tortured souls that are being eternally damned. It’s pretty unpleasant. But even worse than those are the violins. Oh my goodness, the violins. When I think of violins I think of the pretty Outer Sailor Scout themes of Mercury and Uranus from Sailor Moon from childhood nostalgia, but Swans are far removed from sparkle transformations and spaghetti meatball buns. They’re in a whole other realm of musical (dis)pleasure. Yet it’s strange how something so disturbing can be so oddly satisfying. I remember how off-putting this song was to me on my first listen. I had found out about this song through one of my favorite comic book writers (The Wicked + The Divine), Kieron Gillen. He has a Spotify playlist entitled Ten Candles, and 93 Ave. Blues is on it. I happened to listen to it and was extremely weirded and creeped out by the cacophony of terror emanating from my laptop. I thought to myself, “What strange sounds have defiled my ears?” But then I thought, man, this would make some great Halloween music and I have actually personally utilized it in a similar way. I told some scary stories to my family with this song playing in the background and it was a trip. We were laughing throughout which really defused the tension that usually builds when this song is playing, but being in a dark attic helped to raise some arm hairs.

So maybe, in lieu of cheesy ghost moans, witches’ cackles, or another year of playing “Monster Mash” at your Halloween costume party, maybe give this song a chance to play and see how the response is from your guests. And to make it more fun, turn off the lights and pretend there’s a power outage, have another friend dress up as a creepy dog with human teeth and black, soulless eyes and boom, you’re gonna have a grand ol’ time scaring the living daylights out of your friends and family.

You should at least give one listen to 93 Ave. Blues just to experience a Swans song. Also, to heal your fearful, beating heart listen to the track “Song for a Warrior” afterward as a form of recovery. It’s from the same album as 93 Ave. Blues, The Seer. It’s a complete 360 from 93 Ave. Blues. It features Karen O., the frontwoman of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The music is fairy magic, plain and simple, and not even just by comparison. It’s a delight to listen to Karen’s sweet and special vocals with some guitar and piano and other ambient musical sounds. So before this Halloween, have a little bit of devil and a little bit of angel in your music mix, you won’t regret it (hopefully).

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

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Posted in Arlinda's Newest Posts

Proverbial Seesaw

Whimsical Wednesdays with Arlinda

Understanding, empathy, and balance are often missing in our day-to-day routines. We can’t understand when things don’t go right; we can’t comprehend what someone else is going through; we can’t take the two extremes we work with and find a position in the middle. Poets, such as Rudyard Kipling in “If”, captivate my attention and cause me to question why we force ourselves to create boxes of burdens limiting our thoughts and actions; we are capable of more; we are capable of logically understanding the two sides to a story, so why do we feel the need to only perceive things through one angle?

The poem highlights the transition between childhood into adulthood and all the alterations of our perspective that should be accompanied by growing up. In the poem, the speaker states, “if you can dream—and not make dreams your master; / if you can think—and not make thoughts your aim, / if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / and treat those two imposters just the same… / yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it”. We can dream, but our dreams should not consume our waking lives. We can think, but our thoughts should not be forced. While we are faced with good and bad situations, we need to remember that both are fleeting and cannot last forever, therefore we must balance our reactions to each, as each situation is in its swiftness the same.

Without understanding that there is a balance to everything, we cannot learn to truly enjoy all that the world has to offer. By constraining ourselves to perceive the world in one way or another, to oblige ourselves to create new thoughts and ideas, and to chose instantaneously whether a situation is beneficial to us or not we are boxing ourselves into the labels we have imposed upon our lives. We can choose to believe in both sides of a story, because every story has multiple angles. Understand that it is ok to seek the balance in your life by standing in the middle of life’s proverbial seesaw instead of choosing one side or the other; and realize that trying to understand how others see the world will only broaden your perspective of it.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Posted in Hardik's Newest Posts, Homepage

Did You See Capote?

CINÉMONDAYS WITH HARDIK

Capote

Dir. Bennett Miller

Screenplay: Dan Futterman, from the book by Gerald Clarke

Bennett Miller’s Capote uncovers how the titular author Truman Capote came about writing his masterpiece In Cold Blood and how his moral collapses in the process.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the titular bold and flamboyant media darling, Truman Capote. His remarkable ability to lose himself in the skin and manners of Capote creates for a celebrity-portrait that’s at once arresting and at another charmingly humane. Hoffman becomes Capote. (He even took home the Oscar for it!)

Dan’s powerful screenplay presents Capote and his disposition as it unfolds; it wins for it chooses not to take a side, keeping the stand eerily ambiguous.

In the movie, as in real life, Capote forms a strong relationship with one of the two killers (Perry Smith, played by Clifton Collins Jr.) whom he researches on for his novel In Cold Blood. Capote finds it affecting that Smith, too, had experienced a bad childhood and that he could have been saved like Capote, had he “went out the front door.” The moral aspect in Capote’s undoing comes in where Capote’s sympathies shift to the killer of four, Perry Smith, and where he knows that he’ll have to betray their established trust in order to come to an ending for the creative nonfictional novel––Smith and his killer friend’s execution.

He wants for Perry what the movie wants for Capote: “If I leave here without understanding you, the world will see you as a monster. I don’t want that.”

The film, of course, chooses to let the viewers understand Capote for themselves. Did you see Capote?

~ Hardik Yadav

Additional Reads: ‘In Cold Blood,’ Truman Capote’s Achievement and UndoingThe Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel.

 

 

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Assassination Classroom: How to Make Homework Fun and Make Your Students Love You (Yet Still Want to Kill You)

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #2

Homework sucks. It’s mandatory and at times can be an abuse of power that weeds out the weak, instead of helping a student to learn, grow and improve themselves. I think the only homework I ever really enjoyed in my whole school career was vocabulary, readings, and poetry, but as for mathematics, science and sometimes history, I was at a loss. Looking back at my high school days I can remember most of the teachers I had and for what subjects, but as the time goes by their faces fade and their names slowly start to disassemble. Although, there was one teacher I still remember clearly, am actually very fond of and admire even to this day. Her name is Ms. Roach and she was my favorite teacher in high school. I was in one of her advanced English classes and whenever I would go to her class I would enter a room that had more to offer than chalk notes on a blackboard. Ms. Roach saw potential in me and she pushed me to do more than pass. With her help, I excelled and with her support and encouragement, I participated in poetry and oratory contests in which I won awards and even money. I couldn’t believe that I had it within me to be successful. I was so focused on comparing myself to my smart cousins and straight-A classmates that I didn’t realize that I had talent and the capacity to achieve things. Koro-sensei is Ms. Roach.

Assassination Classroom is a manga (Japanese comic) written by Yusei Matsui that is a comedic and heartwarming story about the journey and growth of a relationship between underdog, misfit students of class 3-E and a teacher with a big heart, while also being about a story about a yellow, tentacled alien monster set out on destroying the earth as junior high school students train to be assassins, in hopes of killing this threat to the continuation of mankind and all its creatures. Pretty wild, huh? Although a lot goes on within this story, what I want to focus on is Koro-sensei’s relationship with his students because that is the true gem and mastery of Yusei Matsui’s storytelling. As far as the art goes, Matsui is pretty hilarious when it comes to drawing facial expressions on his characters– imagine eyes bulged out and mouths stretched out beyond their natural limits, very cartoon-like and it’s always a joy for me to see the next cover of each volume (Koro-sensei changes color depending on his mood, he’s an octopus mood ring of sorts). But what truly fascinates me about this manga is its approach to teaching and forming healthy, supportive relationships with students as a teacher.

I’ve met Matsui-sensei at a meet and greet in a Barnes and Noble and the man is so adorable and quiet. You’d never guess that he was as wise and knowledgeable about the positive and effective teaching techniques of young teenaged students. Maybe he was a teacher at some point in his life before he became a mangaka (comic artist) and writer? The lengths that Koro-sensei goes for his students is at times impossible but mostly idealistic and inspiring. He’s able to move and talk so quickly that he’s able to attend to every single student simultaneously. He focuses on the students’ strengths so they can go even further, as well as gain confidence, and tends carefully to their weaknesses so they may improve. He takes the students on trips for recreation so they may bond and form a healthy camaraderie with one another and maintain a social life which he knows is important. His criticisms are consistently constructive and he compliments it with small praises. He’s kind of the perfect teacher that we all aspire to be for our students, friends, siblings, and ourselves. Even though it is impossible to do the physical feats that Koro-sensei does and not to mention, he’s planning on destroying the earth and all its inhabitants, I think it’s important for us to learn from Matsui-sensei’s fictional character and maybe gain a knowledge that will last us a lifetime in reality.

If you’re looking for something that has both “the feels” and good laughs, as well as a yellow tentacle teacher that wants to destroy the earth but also wants his students to pass, this is a comic you definitely got to pick up.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Arlinda's Newest Posts

Dream a Little Dream

Whimsical Wednesdays with Arlinda

 

Langston Hughes- Dreams

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

Dreams are important; they allow us to enter a world where anything and everything becomes a possibility. Dreams are capable of lifting you into a world filled with unpredictability and new ideas. In Langston Hughes poem “Dreams”, the speaker states that without dreams “life is a broken-winged bird / that cannot fly”. Within dreams, our imaginations fly into different worlds and different concepts; our dreams have the capability of exciting us, inspiring us, and enticing us to broaden the scope of our goals.

The endless possibilities contained in dreams remind me of Emily Brontë’s poem “I’m Happiest When Most Away”. I perceive her poem as a description of a dream-like state, and as I sit here sleep deprived, I can understand the happiness the speaker of the poem describes when stating, “I’m happiest when most away / I can bear my soul from its home of clay / on a windy night when the moon is bright / and the eye can wander through worlds of light”. Dreams are a form of freedom for the mind; they allow us to explore our imagination and escape the pressure’s of reality. The speaker of the poem continues to state, “when I am not and none beside— / but only spirit wandering wide / through infinite immensity”. In these lines, the word “immensity” seems to stand out most to me, possibly because of the use of alliteration in “infinite immensity”, or perhaps because of the realization it evokes. Dreams are immense; yes, dreams contain the capability of inspiring and exciting us, but they also contain the ability of terrifying dreamers with endless possibilities that may seem frightening at times. It is within the immensity of dreams that fear can become born; personally, I like to focus on the parts of my dreams that make me happy and motivate me towards a brighter future, rather than allowing the immeasurable nature of dreams scare me into self-doubt.

So while your dreaming, enjoy the experiences created by the freedom of imagination within your dreams. Do not fear the immensity of your dreams, instead focus on the possibilities that have been awakened by your subconscious.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj