The Princess and the Witch

BeFunky-collage.jpgThe following is in response to The Princess Saves Herself in This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by American poet Amanda Lovelace.

Poetry can be difficult to appreciate.

It is not for everyone. If you enjoy this flavor of written word, you might have forced it on a love one to gauge their reaction. Not because you want to make them feel odd about not understanding it, but because you want them to experience the beauty of the words the way that you have. You march up to this person that you think highly of, crack open the book of poetry with pride and point them to the page. They read the lines, even take a few moments to digest them, but ultimately look back up at you with a disinterested glare. Adam Kirsh of the Atlantic writes that this transaction can leave readers feeling “unprestigious” and “unremunerative.”

What Lovelace’s poetry does in these two books that alleviates some of the unknown that readers find themselves lost and unhappy with in poetry is that it roots the reader to something concrete that they are likely more familiar with. Disney? Lovelace takes some of the most recognized female figures from our childhoods (Cinderella, Maleficent) and retells their stories in modern ways. You might not take away the feeling of being incomplete and unchallenged from Bukowksi’s poems about prostitutes and drinking, but you’ll probably feel Lovelace’s pain from the loss of her mother about princesses and witches. In short, they’re relatable.

Instagram has done a thing…

Searching for information on Lovelace, I discovered that her poetry can be categorized as “Instapoetry.” Apparently, Instagram has birthed a new brand of poetry. These compositions are sometimes referred to as “literary selfies.” What does this all mean? Simply put, poets use Instagram and other platforms to reach a greater audience and find notoriety. Poetry published online is typically more simplistic in style and form and though more readers “get” this poetry, some readers don’t like it. There is a divide of sorts in the community, one side of which argues that Instagram-poetry is killing poetry and not reviving it.

My answer to this divide goes as follows: Poetry gets a bad rap, glued to this stigma that it can only be enjoyed with the overly intellectual.  Maybe you like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman or maybe you prefer Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur. Maybe you’re like me and you can appreciate both. However, if this type of poetry gets more people excited about the written word, then there is no reason to dismiss it.

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The Revenant

czfoHmAx.jpgThe following is in response to The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke in 2002, based on real events in the life of American frontiersman Hugh Glass in 1823.

The Revenant is a historical car driven by author Michael Punke through the story of a man whose thirst for revenge—deserved and not misplaced—leads him to rise from the dead. Hugh Glass, one of a band of frontiersmen working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, is attacked by a bear and nearly killed. Fitzgerald and another member of the company were supposed to stay behind to either aide Glass’s recovery or bury him when he dies. In his cowardice and greed, Fitzgerald waited a few days, robbed Glass of his belongings, and left him to die. Though glass is badly wounded in his back and throat, he is aware of everything Fitzgerald has done.

Ironically, the bear that nearly took his life, also saved him; okay, it might not have been the exact same bear, but the irony still stands. Left to die and barely able to breathe nonetheless move, Glass is almost discovered by a group of Native Americans that would surely have killed him. Before finding the defenseless white man in the woods, a bear is seen in the distance and the Native Americans decide to leave the area.

From Revenant To Revenge

Punke does a lot of great things with his writing to show us Glass’s relationship with revenge and how it drives him. After miraculously gaining enough strength to begin crawling towards civilization, he happens upon a rattlesnake. I saw this venomous serpent as a representation of all the dangers of the frontier; when Glass kills the snake and eats it, this not only shows us the true grit that Glass possesses but that he means to overcome everything in his path. There is a wonderful image where he keeps the rattler from the snake so that he won’t forget what he had to do. Of course this comes right after his back story is fully realized as if to say he will draw on his past to move forward. We see this as earlier as page 85 when he uses his knowledge of plants that he gained from the Pawnee Indians to stay alive. Leslie Knope would be proud.

Snakes aren’t the only things that stand in Glass’s way. Starving, Glass eats the bones of a dead buffalo that he finds on the plains. He immediately gets sick from eating the rancid marrow and nearly dies. Glass is even sprayed blind from a skunk at one point. Revenge gives him the drive to survive. Illustrating this revenge-drive, is the juxtaposition of Glass and a giant of a man named pig. Pig dies from a small stab wound but Glass survived a bear attack. What does a man have to possess to survive the way Hugh could and pig couldn’t? Punke is showing us want it means to harbor revenge. In many stories, revenge is a force that destroys characters (like in one of my favorite books, Carrie), but for Hugh Glass revenge is more of a saving grace. It’s this unlikely dichotomy that made The Revenant one of my favorite reads in 2018.

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Quotes From The Drawing of the Three

51ZJLAWiZVL.jpgThe Following are quotes from Stephen King’s “The Drawing of the Three,” the second installment of The Dark Tower series which was written in 1987.

Even now one of the men tore a sheet form the yellow pad which lay upon his lap and crumpled it into a ball, although he had only written on the top half of one side and not at all on the other. The gunslinger was not too sick to feel a twinge of horror and outrage at such unnatural profligacy. (pg. 28)

Standing alone and out of context, this passage exemplifies that type of person—not unlike myself—that gives a lot of value to not only the written word but the pages themselves. I only lend books to specific people that I know will handle them with care. It only takes one creased or torn or smudged page for a lender to be permanently retired.

And if it was, was his physical self still there, collapsed, untenanted, perhaps dying or already dead without his self’s self to go on unthinkingly running lungs and heart and nerves? (pg. 36)

Peering in one of the three magic doors that he finds on the beach, Roland is wondering what state his body is left in on the sand. The imagery here is a gem, showing us what’s been left behind while Roland’s consciousness is in a different “when.”

 “Johnny Cash is everything,” Henry replied gravely, and there was a moment of silence palpable in its considering surprise…(pg. 120)

Who doesn’t love a good Johnny Cash reverence? King is demonstrating how Roland’s world and Eddie’s (and Jake’s, Detta’s, Odetta’s, and our) world are somehow related. The lines of worlds and timelines blur at certain edges and Johnny Cash is one of them. King’s love for music is prevalent in a lot of his works. Did you know what King and a ton of other writers are in a rock and roll band called Rock Bottom Remainders?

At the same instant the gunslinger drew left-handed, and his draw was as it had always been, sick or well, wide awake or still half asleep: faster than a streak of blue summer lightning. (pg. 149)

At this point, Roland has lost some fingers on his right hand—the prime shooting hand—to the lobstrosities on the beach, but he is still able to draw true. With the added image of a streak of lightning, readers hear the thunder that follows like the bang of a gunshot. King definitely knew what he was doing here.

It was battle-fire, hazing all thought, leaving only the need to stop thinking and start shooting. (pg. 158)

That state of mind that commands all of Roland’s focus when he is about to shoot. He does it without thinking, his gun an extension of his hand.

Whether it was an open field of battle where thousands had died by cannon rifle, sword, and halberd or a small room where five or six had shot each other, it was the same place, always the same place in the end: another deadhouse, stinking of gunpowder and raw meat. (pg. 165)

The reality of war is seen in this image of dead members of Balazar’s gang juxtaposed to larger scale battles that have rang out through our and Roland’s history. The dictionary will not turn up a definition for “deadhouse” but it should. Consider the images here: If you walked among the dead, mobsters or fallen soldiers, then the place itself, the room or the field, would seem dead too. Dictionary.com we have a new entry for you!

Roland draws him close, so close he can smell the stink of Eddie’s sickness and Eddie can smell the stink of his; the combination sickens and compels them both. (pg. 180)

This is one of my favorite lines from this entire book. Roland is sick from being bitten by the lobstrosities and Eddie is sick from drug-related withdraws. You could create two characters that were more different than these two, and yet they are so similar. This sets up their relationship in the following installments of The Dark Tower series. They are in the same Katet after all.

Roland would have been as helpless to do otherwise as a gun is helpless to refuse the finger that squeezes the trigger and flings the bullet on its flight. (pg. 360)
Gradually he relaxed, as a finger curled around a trigger may relax at the last instant. (pg. 360)

What better way to describe Roland’s feelings than compared to the anatomy of a gun? It is as if Roland had truly thought these things himself. The immersion is so elevated in this book that I thought I was in Roland’s head.

More Quotes

But of course names were secret things, full of power. (pg. 45)

Roland put his head back, closed his eyes and thanked God. God and Eddie Dean. (pg. 108)

Sometimes they fall down for a reason, sometimes they fall down for no reason at all. (pg. 122)

If he had known how, he would have said: I looked at what he built, and to me it explained the stars. (pg. 124)

God fucked you, my friend. (pg. 187)

Roland said nothing, but heard the voice of Cort in his mind: Fault always lies in the same place, my fine babies: with him weak enough to lay blame. (pg. 192)

Remembering the podgy, underexercised looks of the gunslingers he had taken these weapons from, it seemed that they cared better for the weapons they wore than the weapons they were. (pg. 420)

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Themes

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Why Are Kids So Scary?

A theme is an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature, and that includes film. Themes of movies include redemption, fate, sacrifice, and vengeance just to name a few. What did I see recurring in the films that I watched as part of my Horror Movie Cleanse in March of 2018? Children.

If you followed the string of movies that I watched as part of that series, you will know that I did not pick the films that I watched. Though I did pick the order that I consumed these movies—which was at random to be fair—the list was given to me by a friend. So it was a coincidence that more than half of the films included a child or children. This began with the first film that I watched, which was literally called Children. The themes associated with children are innocence and the loss thereof. But why kids? Adults can be innocent and can loose their innocence. In my opinion, I think children are just scarier than adults when it comes to killing and/or being killed. What do you think?

To prove my point—and to beat a dead horse with a stick—the following is a list of the films that I watched that had a prevailing child or childlike aspect* to it. For a complete list of the films from that series, check out the Re-Cap.

Film Child Aspect
Anguish (from Horror Movie Cleanse: Pre-Show) In this film-within-a-film, characters are watching “The Mommy.” Though the killer is a grown man, his relationship with his mother makes him seem like a child.
The Children As the title suggests, this film is all about children. The children become killers when the are infected with a virus.
Sleepaway Camp This film is about a summer camp full of kids. Which one is doing the killing?
The Burning Though this film focuses on the older kids at the summer camp, their are still plenty of young victims.
Cult The young girl in this film becomes possessed, walks up stairs backwards, and eats her dog.
The Clinic The woman in this film are all pregnant and fighting to survive.
Noroi, The Curse The antagonist in this film, Junko, has a son that she plans on using as a vessel to reincarnate the demon Kagutaba.
Prevenge Ruth is pregnant and her unborn child speaks to her, helping her kill those responsible for her father’s death.
The Pact To help her young niece, Annie is in search for her missing sister within the house they grew up in.
Lights Out The young Martin is being haunted by a paranormal being called Diana.
Snow White, A Tale of Terror The witch doesn’t try to kill Snow White and her father until she looses her baby.
The Girl With All The Gifts The children in this movie are a new generation of zombie that only become zombie-like when they smell blood.
Them Spoiler alert: the unseen killers in this film are bored children from the surrounding neighborhood.
Goodnight Mommy In this German film, two young twins torment and kill their mother.
The Wailing The young girl in this film, Hyo-jin, aslo becomes possessed.
Clown The clown in this film eats children.
Train to Busan The young Soo-an and Sang-hwa’s pregnant wife are the only two to survive this one.
Darkness Falls Following in Kyle’s footsteps, a young boy is being targeted by a spirit.
Dead End Another spoiled ending, what actually happened to the family is a car accident. Killed was a mother and her baby. Survives is Marion who is pregnant.
Annabelle Creation The young orphaned girls in this film are being chased by a possessed doll.
The Witch There are several children in this movie, including a baby that is chopped up by the witch and two others accused of working with the devil.
It Comes At Night The young boy in this movie contracts the sickness that is killing everyone.

* Did anyone else think about the Childlike Empress from The NeverEnding Story when reading childlike aspect? No? Just me? Okay, cool.

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Horror Movie Cleanse Top Five

My Top Favorites

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  1. Sleepaway Camp
    The thing about this movie that sets it apart from other eighties horror films is definitely the ending. In the last frame of the movie, Angela is completely naked revealing that she is actually a boy! That’s right people, it was the boy that survived that accident eight years ago. The aunt, who must have suffered from some kind of mental disorder, decided to raise him as a girl because she already had a boy. Hiltzik, unabashed by the strict mores that was the eighties in America, created a main character that was not gender binary. Never have I been more shocked at the end of a film in my life and I loved it! Sleepaway Camp is currently my favorite film from the eighties.
  2. Prevenge
    This film makes the list because of it many, many layers. On the surface, pregnancy is a horror film in and of itself if you think about it. Babies grows like a tumor, steals nutrition, and then comes out of you like an alien in nine months. If that’s not horror then I don’t know what is. There is an added layer to this film when you find out a little bit more about the writer and director Alice Lowe. Alice, who also portrays Ruth in the movie, was pregnant and jobless when she came up with the story and everything was filmed when she was still pregnant. How’s that for method acting?
  3. The Girl With All The Gifts
    This film definitely made me think. What I liked about this film was the theme that kept coming up centering around the idea of Pandora’s Box. We have all heard of this tale from Greek Mythology, in which Pandora curiously opens a box that unleashes, among other things, death and hope. When the group that fled from the fallen military base finds that the fungi has formed seedpods in the city, Melanie curiously opens them like the second coming of Pandora. On one hand she has released death for the disease will now be airborne, but on the other she has also released hope. The hope that Melanie brings—she is the girl with all the gifts after all—is through the second generation of zombies.
  4. Train To Busan
    Despite the amazing zombie-fighting scenes in this film, what got me the most was how quickly you fall of the many characters and how crushed you feel when they meet their demise. Of the tragic deaths in this film, the ones of Sang-hwa, Yong-guk and his girlfriend, and Seok-woo (the protagonist) are the saddest. Sang-hwa has to break his way into another train car to save others, but gets himself killed in the process. The antagonist draws zombies into the train car that Yong-guk and is girlfriend are in, causing their deaths. In order to save his daughter, Seok-woo gets himself infected, throwing himself from the moving train. These sacrifices parallel one of the films biggest themes, which is selfishness versus selflessness
  5. It Comes At Night
    This film made the top five because I enjoyed how simple it was. The movie does not explain much in the way of how the disease and the end of civilization came to be, or show the world in its current state. By focusing just on Paul and his family, we are able to hone in on what the movie is really about—fear and loss. We are told from the very beginning this is what the film is about, when the family is forced to kill Sarah’s elderly father because he is sick. If it were a novel it would be a minimalist work by Cormac McCarthy. The tension is created by nightmares that Travis experiences. Travis’ dreams are the things that come at night, hinted at in the film’s title.

For a complete list of the films from that series, check out the Re-Cap.

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Horror Movie Cleanse Re-Cap

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Check out all the horror movies I watched in 2018. It was a fun ride that I am thinking about reprising this year. Shout out to my bestie, and horror-movie-genius, Felicia McNear for coming up with this amazing list of 36 horror films.

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In The Green Room With A Knife

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“Now. Whatever you saw or did. Is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear. It won’t end well.”

The 2015 American horror film, written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier—Green Room—was the very last movie that I watched as part of my Horror Movie Cleanse in March of 2018 (For a complete list of the films from that series, check out the Re-Cap.). Green Room stars the late and great Anton Yelchin at the head of a punk band called the “Ain’t Rights.” Though the music wasn’t as great as the rock ballads in other films that featured bands, like Scott Pilgrim in 2010, it wasn’t bad. What makes you fall for the characters before the horror sets in is the camaraderie among this young group of artists. The group is touring in a cramped, beat-up old van, struggling to make a name for themselves. At one point they even have to siphon gas to keep up the journey. But it’s what happens when they get to their final gig that surprised me.

Pun-incoming. I apologize in advance.

I Did Neo-Nazi That Coming

That’s right, when they show up at the gig, they find that they will be serenading a group of neo-Nazi skinheads, drunk and hard to impress. Eventually winning them over with their second song, the group returns to the green room to retrieve their belongings. This is when things turn south and the horror element of this film comes into play. Returning to the green room, the members of Ain’t Rights discover a girl that has been stabbed to death. To keep the secret from getting out, the leader of the neo-Nazis—played by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart—lock them in the green room. With many twists and turns, Anton and Imogen Poots (playing the friend of the dead girl) ultimately make it out alive.

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