Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Cirice: In Our Darkest Days

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #9

In our darkest days we look up to the highest powers. – Aldo Baricevic

As it draws closer to the end of the semester, the world becomes darker. Partially due to the upcoming winter solstice, but also because of the stress and anxiety caused by deadlines, homework, papers, exams, and finals. It is times like this that I am reminded of this drawing I once saw on Tumblr. It was a three-point diagram entitled something like “Life”. The three points were entitled SLEEP, SOCIAL LIFE, and SCHOOL and there was a caption that read “Choose two”. Honestly, if you’re a master at time management you could actually be able to have all three without having any horrible repercussions, but for people like me who also have to add work to the equation, life feels like a never-ending merry-go-round in hell. For the past few weeks, a cold has been lingering in my body and last week brought me to a dark place, so I’ve been trying to recover, but sometimes, due to my mental disability, I get these uncontrollable, unexpected waves of depression. I’ll just be sitting down enjoying a banana beside my friend or I’ll be in the library studying for a quiz or I’ll wake up from sleep and then I just feel my whole being sinking downward and I feel hopeless, directionless, and it’s not elicited, it just happens. I have a lot of different coping mechanisms for this, some healthy, some not so healthy, but when I was having a bad morning today I listened to one of my favorite bands, Ghost, and tried my best to feel better.

The particular song I was listening to was called, “Cirice” (Ghost actually won a Grammy for “Cirice” last year and of course, Papa Emeritus, the frontman of Ghost, and his nameless ghouls were in full garb and he was in full makeup as well). It’s one Ghost’s best songs, hence the award they won for it, and it has a wonderful music video that is worth a watch as well. It’s great because of its powerful lyricism. It tackles the topic of religion, a theme that most of Ghost’s songs deal with. They’re not actually Satanists but their songs do mention Satan and revolve around satanic themes. “Cirice” doesn’t explicitly mention satan but one could interpret the song as the voice of Satan speaking to a troubled soul. Satanism aside, the lyrics are so beautiful and heart-wrenching, they’re also even a little bit comforting. Papa Emeritus sings, “I know your soul is not tainted/Even though you’ve been told so”, which is really validating. There’re a lot of negative people out there who will talk down to you and try to make you feel bad, but no one deserves to be talked to like that or feel that way. We’re all flawed creatures, but that doesn’t make us damned. Papa Emeritus recognizes the pain within us all as he sings, “I can feel the thunder that’s breaking in your heart/I can see through the scars inside you”. It’s hard to be optimistic and a positive ball of energy all the time. There will be days when we don’t know what to do with ourselves and everything seems to be falling apart when we’re already broken down inside, but like the voice in this song, there is hope. There is someone. You may not even know them, but there is someone to reach out to for help. Please, always remember that.

When I put on Ghost, it always puts me in a good mood, even as dark as the music is, because even in the dark there is light. That light for someone could be God, could be Satan, could be a parent, a friend, a co-worker, a teacher, it could even be a song or a book or food. My old friend, Aldo Baricevic, once wrote this poem back in high school that had the line “in our darkest days we look up to the highest powers”. His poem really resounds within me at this time in my life. Those highest powers are many kinds of different people and things for all of us. If you are ever in the dark, and you feel like you don’t know where to reach out to, there’s always someone who will listen, who will care. Keep on keeping on and before you know it the sun will come out again.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

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Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Scott Pilgrim: We’re Human, Therefore, We Suck

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #8

Humans suck. They’re selfish, they’re cruel, they’re lazy, they’re ignorant– they’re a perfect example of imperfection. And there is no exception for the characters in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book (whose books are shaped like traditional manga volumes), Scott Pilgrim. These characters embody the deadly sins and they mess up a lot and sometimes can be downright mean. I was talking to my friend who lent me the series about how it’s hard to choose a favorite character, not because I was all “OH MY GOSH, they’re all so great! How could I ever choose one?” but rather I was feeling like “Oh my gosh, they’re all so flawed and kinda sucky, I don’t have a favorite character. I think I see myself in them.” Yeah, I totally had a small identity crisis when I was reading Scott Pilgrim. I had that epiphany moment where I realized how all the characters are not the best people, but then reflected on myself and thought, “Who am I to judge when I am just as flawed as them?”

I think that’s the mastery of O’Malley’s character writing. He knows how to make them real. Really real and complex. This is not hard to do. I notice in a lot of the comics I read, sometimes even in books I like, the characters can be unrealistically nice or awesome. Think Ned Flanders from the Simpsons pure and holy. These characters seem to be untouchable and infallible, but this is not how life is. Life is filled with bruises and bad people who aren’t all that bad. O’Malley acknowledges this with his characters and I feel like he knows that his readers might pick apart these characters he makes, in their own attempt to salvage the good parts of them, but ultimately, if you want to choose a favorite character, you got to do that thing that people do when they go for the long haul in committed relationships. You’ve got to accept them as they are. Warts and all.

I’m not surprised that the character I most identified with was Knives Chau, the sole Asian girl character who, of course, is in high school who is definitely a warts and all character. *SPOILERS AHEAD* She falls in love with our protagonist, Scott, or thinks she does, and then gets her heart broken leading her to seek vengeance on the one who stole her beloved from her. She cuts and dyes her hair hoping to be noticed, hoping for a change. I’ve totally done that before when I was feeling like I wanted a big change in my life; my hair has been blonde and different shades of pink, as well as pixie-cut short overnight. Beyond the unplanned urges and physical appearance, I feel Knives in a more spiritual sense. I’ve discovered that I am capable of feeling an ugly, uncontrollable jealousy just the same way as Knives and when I realized, it sucked. I didn’t want to be that jealous girl, but I was. In that moment I came to the self-actualization of being human.

Recently, I did a stupid thing, not regrettable, but just selfish, careless, and stupid. Not going to say what it was because it’s super embarrassing and worth about a thousand facepalms, but you could say I’d fit right into a Scott Pilgrim storyline. My story would probably be an off-book storyline really briefly referenced with me in a panel looking at someone I was involved with after they mentioned something that happened in the past that wasn’t… the smartest of moments, then I have a flashback to that particular stupid moment. He would quietly mouth “Sorry” for bringing it up and my face would be brimming with chagrin. The story writes itself. Scott Pilgrim has much more to offer than characters who “suck” (but also kinda rule). It has fist fights, beautiful manga-inspired art, and a pretty rad storyline. So, if you like any of those things, it’s definitely worth a trip into O’Malley’s world of Scott Pilgrim.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Eet: Today’s a Bad Day (And That’s Okay)

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #7

It’s like forgetting
The words to your favorite song

How could someone forget the words to their favorite song? All those hours of practicing the words and getting the rhythm down seem to have gone to waste because now you’re sitting in your car, the radio is actually playing your favorite song on an oldies station and as soon as the singer begins you freeze. We’re human and it is inevitable as humans to err, but another thing about us humans, we love to try and be perfect. Probably because of pressure from our parents, friends, teachers, or society. We’ve got to have flawless skin, perfect white smiles, and carry all the knowledge our fragile heads can possibly bear. We are sometimes made to feel like making mistakes will completely obliterate all of our progress, but that’s not true. On days when things aren’t going your way, whether you’re running late on a heinously delayed subway train or you forgot that today was your exam that you happened to not study for or like Regina sings, you forget the words to your favorite song, all we can do is two things: cope and hope.

As I usually preface with all the bands and artists I talk about here in my blog, Regina Spektor is one of my favorite musicians. She’s an angel. Her voice is so gentle and pure, she can play the piano nicely, and her lyrics are either unsettlingly eerie or silly or really beautiful. It’s hard not to fall under the spell of her music. Far is my favorite album from her and although there are other tracks on this album that I like more, I felt like this one really related to the way I feel today. I woke up this morning exhausted from small hours of sleep throughout the week, late night outings, night classes, and exercise. My little sister was my alarm this morning. She always reminds me to wake up at 7 AM to feed my cat, Mishu, if I don’t wake up on my own. I can barely keep my eyes open. I go to the kitchen, see that the litter box has crap in it, so I clean it out accidentally spilling some litter on the already litter covered floor. My little sister who woke me up is snapping at my other little sister and I try to intervene and then she snaps at me. I grumpily disengage and go back to sleep. Well, I try to and then my mother comes into the room to nag me about how my side of the room is a hot mess. Which is true, but I pretend to be asleep even though I know she knows I’m awake. I just want to disappear. I want this day to be over and it’s only just begun. It’s these little things that crack away our sanity and test our ability to handle high stress and not so ideal situations that sometimes (most of the time in my case) we put ourselves in. Sometimes the darkness almost wins and like Regina sings, “You spent half of your life/Trying to fall behind/You’re using your headphones/To drown out your mind.” We have to find the thing that brings us to a place of calm or at least escapism to deal with all these things that come tumbling down on us. Sometimes we just have to exit.

Right now, I’m on my way to work and I’m one of the lucky ones who actually like their job, co-workers, and boss. But not all of my friends and family are as lucky as I am. Some people are working two or three jobs and sometimes even one terrible, overwhelming job is enough to put you in an emotional grave. It’s the season of fall and that means you can try to avoid from falling down, but like the leaves in this autumn, you will succumb to a bad day, as will everyone around you. It just happens. The best we can do is find that one thing or person that calms us and hope for the day to end kindly. Trudge on my college mates, we can make it through this bad day.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

White Knight: The Rebirth of the Joker

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #6

YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE

These words are vandalized atop Batman’s Batmobile on the cover of issue #1 of White Knight and surrounding the message is Joker’s signature HA HAs in matching red, green, and yellow. It’s a strange message to hear from Gotham’s notorious clown king, Joker, because it seems to have an underlying message that something good needs to be done and why would Joker want that? His message seems to say, “Well, if you’re not gonna clean up this city and make things right, maybe someone else will and maybe that someone else is me”. And that’s where our story begins in White Knight.

Joker has been a staple Batman character whose background story was a mystery until Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke entered the comic book universe, in which we were able to understand the whys and hows of Joker’s origin, but this first issue doesn’t so much revisit that as much as it poses something completely new (it’s actually already implied in one of the pages that the reader already has Moore’s Joker origin story in mind. There’s a page of art with pre-Joker as a comedian holding some notecards of bad jokes). What makes this comic issue so special is that it delves into the what-ifs of the Joker’s and Batman’s polar psyches. I found out about this comic because I am a subscriber of the Midtown Comics newsletter and the way it described this comic book was that the Joker becomes Batman and the Batman becomes Joker. Weird, right? I was so intrigued and had to check it out myself and the comic did not disappoint. Sean Murphy’s art and writing is an excellent example of how great a comic book can be if you put the right person behind the wheel. Matt Hollingsworth does a top-notch job with setting the depressing and dismal tone with the color palette of browns, blacks, and grays in this rundown urban setting plagued by crime and corruption. Best of all though, was one particular page that pretty much sold me on the comic because of its subversiveness. *SPOILERS AHEAD* It’s subversive because in this scene Joker has lured Batman into a warehouse filled with mysterious, unknown pills and the Joker spits out verbal vile at Batman. He refers to them as a married couple who never have make-up sex and even delves back into Batman’s dark past when Robin was killed. He’s doing his best to break the Bat and he, unfortunately, succeeds. Batman is sickened and sick of the Joker so he takes a bottle of the nearest pills and shoves the whole bottleful down Joker’s throat, forcing him to swallow them all. It’s a super intense scene (and this is just issue #1!).

From that point on chaos and disorder ensue. Joker turns sane and wants to sue Gotham City Police under the moniker, White Knight and then we get hit with that “To Be Continued…” I’m really curious to see where Murphy goes with this storyline. Mental illness is so misunderstood and I want to see from which angle he’s planning on approaching it from, especially with two iconic characters like Joker and Batman. He’s flipping everything on its head and I wonder what Gotham will be like now that the Joker is the one who stands for justice and Batman is out of control. Is the Joker really reborn anew or is this a charade? Has Batman finally been pushed too far? But most importantly, what was in those pills? I’ll continue the series and keep y’all posted if the storyline continues to progress in such a fascinating way in this journey through the psyche of hero, villain, and the in-between.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Kat's Newest Posts

Take Me: The Anthem for the Crushed

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #5

I love corny and cheesy things and I’m not talking food (although I do enjoy foods of those varieties). I’m the kind of girl who enjoys a good rom-com film and it doesn’t even have to be good in any aspect; the cinematography can be hackneyed and the acting can be full of B-, non-Oscar worthy performances, but as long as you slather it in that  good ol’ fashioned person meets person and they fall in love I’m good to go. My personal favorite romantic comedy movie is Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew William Goode. It’s a story about a woman who tries to propose to her boyfriend under the old Irish belief that a woman can ask for her partner’s hand in marriage on a leap year, and who encounters a stranger and slowly gets to know them and well, not to spoil it, but feelings develop. That’s the kind of love that builds over a long/short period of time slowly, but even though it’s a process and takes time for development there is something present there. It’s a seed. A tiny entity that grows inside of you and crushes you from the inside out— a crush.

And that brings me to the anthem of this week’s blog post, Take Me by Aly & AJ. Oh man, do I love this song. I’ve been playing it over and over and over and it never ceases to grow old. It’s synth-pop, it’s a tribute to the 80s and its subject matter is so relatable. It’s a song for all those people who kept a feeling secret deep within and were internally screaming “I love you”, “I want you”, “I need you”, “please, notice me senpai” but were never being heard. The girls sing “When you gonna take me out Make a move and make it now” and this really hits deep because, to be honest with you, that’s me right now. I am that girl being crushed by a crush. And to quasi-quote a tweet from my cousin and all-around cool peep from my bad memory, Petra, “They call them crushes because they crush you.” What a painful truth to take in, but it’s so universal because haven’t we all felt at one point burdened by the burning feeling of liking someone and not being sure they like you or even worse, they don’t know you exist? It really sucks because you want them to know or want them to find out but you are stuck in crushed limbo.

But the cool thing about this song is it seems like Aly & AJ kind of have their priorities straight. They’re not going to spend all their time on this person waiting for them to appease their burgeoning feelings. They sing it right off the bat in the song “I’ve been spending my attention on you, on you. I don’t wait long. Cause I got better things to do.” These girls are aware of their own feelings but they’re not going to wait a lifetime and a half hoping that this person finally realizes their own feelings or the girls’ feelings. And I think that’s a pretty important lesson. Sure, it’s okay, to have crushes and want for affection, attention, and adoration, but sometimes what’s even better is just having the crush itself. Basking in it’s painful, aching beauty. But for those bold girls who want to take the initiative, do what Aly & AJ sing and “sink your teeth” into that crush and go for it.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier