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- Poetry, Poetry, Poetry and Repetition
By Charlotte Van Schaack If you have spoken to me about poetry then you probably know that one of my favorite poetic forms is the pantoum, a poem of any length using four-line stanzas where the second and fourth lines of a stanza become the first and third of the subsequent stanza. The pantoum is a Malaysian form that first began in French and English. I believe that I first learned about pantoums as a rising junior in high school when I attended a writing camp. At that time, however, I called them “pontoons.” My writing of them began with a four stanza poem summarizing the witches’ role in Macbeth, where each line was a complete thought with a period endstop. (As a side note, I really don’t know what to say about my early writing endeavors.) When I began reading other examples, I learned that some pantoums used varied punctuation across repeated lines, while others would place punctuation in the middle of a line. Then the lines could come to have new meanings based on what else surrounds them. In case you need a visual of what one of these poems looks like, I am going to attempt to create a visual, as well as linking a pantoum that I had published in AmLit several semesters ago (Empty Echoes). My love for this poetic form largely comes from the way that the writing seems to reinvent itself as it progresses. A three stanza pantoum might look like this: Line A Line B Line C Line D Line B Line E Line D Line F Line E Line G Line F Line H There is a variety where the pairs of repeating lines rhyme with one another in an AbAb scheme. Some pantoums also have the first and third lines of the first stanza as the second and fourth of the final stanza. Others may use the first line as the last line. There are all sorts of variations that a writer may choose to implement in order to create emphasis or another sort of twist to the reader’s interpretation. One of the biggest strengths to repetition is the way that it enables slight differentiations. Now having read this I would love for you to go out and try writing a pantoum for yourself! Or maybe you’ll be interested in trying out another poetic form. Perhaps a rondel, sestina, villanelle, or even a blitz. This blog post was inspired by the Poetry Foundation’s recent prose series called “Not Too Hard To Master.”
By Emily Barnes I have a tendency to collect words when I catch them pacing my field of vision. I often open my notes app and write one in the header and wait for anything remotely articulate or congruent to fill the page. I repeat these words back to myself in my head compulsively, rehearsing incoherent incantations to cling to as disjointed descriptions of self— right now it’s cenotaph and somnambulist and solipsistic. This feels important, or maybe it is just the punchline of a joke for which I do not know the setup, but in any case, it feels an appropriate foreword. We offered our palms to the grey and caught the rain beginning again. Clouds guarded the hill while we tip-toed outlines of stones, glancing out over the city as the storm creeped forward. Ornate tombs and somber statues filled the field in scattered assortment, winks of stained glass made dull in the haze. I had read somewhere that over fifty-thousand people are buried on the grounds of the necropolis, but only a couple thousand bodies are marked. I had a sense just then, looking down from the crest, that there might’ve been someone right next to me, or right behind me, or waiting for me at the bottom. I don’t say this aloud, just nod to my friends in unspoken understanding that the afternoon has grown old, and we shouldn’t gamble on rain and cold and darkness. It wasn’t really late yet, only the sky tired before we did these days, and the sun was making room for a late-November vignette. “We’ve talked about the whole ghost thing, right?” I ask. We mulled over the existence of a paranormal as we began our march to the base of the hill where the cathedral stood, the spire breaking through the skyline. The trick to Glasgow is finding shelter from the moon and we could see, now, a severe-looking brewery on the street under the overpass. The air had given in to the storm by now but in a few minutes we would find ourselves nestled between open hearths behind its doors; we had no clue yet how lucky we were. Alex was the only one who thought to bring an umbrella, which was promptly handed to Andrew to manage over our three heads. A chill had seeped through our wools and leathers but whispers reached through the soil and the dead insisted we ought not hurry down, that we consider life and death and the in-between. It seems a nice enough dream— drowsy figures of lost life, drifting alongside those of us still around. I can’t seem to get myself to believe it, though; not for lack of desire, not out of judgement, but by fault of some obstacle of belief in the back of my mind. I tell my friends that I would love to be a ghost. That I fantasized about it as a child, knees tucked to my chin reading scary stories in the corner of my elementary school library, wishing that I could float through life, invisible and all-knowing. That I would haunt all of the right places and all of the right people. That if I died just then, in the necropolis, that the long white skirt I was wearing would forever graze the ground I’d now hover above. That there is sadness to this that seems euphoric to me, stuck on that hill in perpetual iconized gloom, an immortal desperate shadow cloaked in rain and ash stained white. And, most critically, that the despair of a ghost makes far more sense than the despair of the living. If that tricky sadness could be lovely, then why would I not wish for it to be?
- By The Bay Window
By Alexa Berman The smell of oranges reminds me of my momma - of her sunshine soaked dresses, her perfectly coiffed golden hair, and her doe-like green eyes that I so graciously inherited. My momma was the kindest woman and the most brilliant cook to ever step foot in the kitchen. Every morning she’d roll out dough for pies and biscuits with her favorite rolling pin, her apron permanently coated in flour and fresh jams. The breakfast nook would sit laden with bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, toast, juice - and most importantly, her hot cakes. They were exceptional; always fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar, and glazed in fresh blueberry syrup. I loved them almost as much as I loved Momma. Those hot cakes were waiting for me every single morning. They were always exactly the same with three to a stack and extra butter on the side. I would slide into the bay window’s padded booth, pour myself some juice, and dig in. Momma would stand by the counter, watching me stuff bite upon bite into my gaping mouth. She’d laugh and go back to rolling out doughs with that pin of hers as she moved on to prepare the various baked goods of the day. The kitchen always smelled of one fruit or another. Sometimes it’d be ripe peach danishes or apricot jam, other times it’d be fresh blueberry muffins or sweet plum pie. That particular morning’s smell was different from the normal wafting scents of her jams. It was citrusy, but I couldn’t quite place it. I slid into the booth, illuminated by the ornate stained glass fixture emitting its usual soft glow. Greens, purples, and oranges bounced off the breakfast spread as the morning light shined through the mosaic above. Just as I did every morning, I poured myself a tall glass of apricot juice. My hotcakes sat there in their normal stack of three, glazed in blueberry syrup. I dug my fork in and shoved a massive piece into my mouth. I had it - I was finally able to place that citrusy scent. I took another bite, just to make sure. My mother smiled from the counter as her rolling pin rested on the day’s fresh dough. Her hair looked far less perfect that morning - sort of matted on one side - and her green eyes looked oh so glassy. The rolling pin was stained with a much deeper red than any strawberry jam could ever have produced - the same deep red my hands dripped with. The smell of dough and baked goods failed to fill the kitchen air. Momma used to glow with the rays of sun coming through the bay window as she smiled brightly at me, but she looked so much colder now, so much greyer in the harsh light of the morning sun. The pieces of the mosaic that once illuminated my nook lay scattered across the floor, no longer reflecting illustrious colors onto the table. I had taken my normal place in the bay window to a new stack of hotcakes that were almost as good as hers - but not quite. I didn’t have the same touch my Momma did, but at least I still had her company. I miss momma every day, but I don’t regret it. After all, she knew how much I hated oranges.
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Through the Lens of Dostoevsky: A Comparison
By Kendall Spink Gene Wilder is God. More specifically, Gene Wilder’s character, Willy Wonka, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, represents a version of God as described in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: Rebellion. Willy Wonka exemplifies children suffering under a high power, parents causing children to pay for their sins, and questioning if revenge can be justified. I will analyze how Wonka’s actions align with Ivan’s points about God through the comparison of Willy Wonka and his allowance of children suffering in his chocolate factory to God allowing children to suffer in the world as described in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: Rebellion. Directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic book. In this film, five children are invited to enter Wonka’s chocolate factory by finding a golden ticket where each child represents a different deadly sin created at the fault of their parents. The children and their respective sins are as follows: Charlie: lust, Augustus: gluttony, Violet: pride, Veronica: greed, Mike: sloth. Grandpa Joe would represent envy and Wonka wrath, but we are going to focus on two of the children: Charlie and Augustus.. We see the parents, those who the children suffer because of, indulge their children and allow, and in some cases encourage, their sinful behavior. Wonka is viewed as a god by the small, poor town the movie is placed in. Provider of jobs and candy, Wonka and his factory are full of mystery, and people try their hardest to get close to this power. In a seemingly meticulous manner, Wonka allows the children who enter his factory to be plucked off one by one. Tempting each of them in their own personal room, Wonka, like God, invents a test of faith to the children. All of the children fail their tests and endure suffering, and possibly death, because of it. This is a reflection of the Rebellion chapter as the abuses are listed, one after another. The stories told in Rebellion, the chapter we are focusing on from Brothers Karamazov, describe different types of child abuse. Ivan is speaking to Alyosha about his confusion over the phrase of “love thy neighbor.” The thought of having unloveable neighbors, and loving them just for the sake of it without a sense of duty, pokes holes into this idea. Ivan decides to begin his argument that the god which people subscribe to cannot be as good as they say because he allows suffering. A picture of young, naive, innocent children is painted as the object of this suffering. These idealized children “are not yet guilty of anything” and everyone has the capacity to love them, even cruel people love children. So, Ivan asks, how can God allow these children to pay for the sins of their father? The first incident of suffering in Wonka’s factory is when Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river after scooping chocolate into his mouth. Wonka, and the other children and parents for that matter, make no effort to save him. Augustus is swallowed into a chocolate tube and sent to the fudge room. His mother is sent after him, hoping she gets there before he is boiled. The Oompa Loompas sing a song about greed getting you into trouble. Augustus very obviously represents the sin of gluttony and a flowing river of chocolate is the ideal test of faith for him. His gluttonous behavior is a direct result of the way he was raised. We see his mother pander to her son throughout the movie and Augustus is ultimately punished because of it. At the end of the film, Charlie and his Grandpa Joe drink the fizzy lifting drink after being instructed not to by Wonka. Flying around a bubble filled room is all fun and games until they float too high and cannot stop from flying into the room’s large fan. They discover that burping will bring them back down to the ground, right in the nick of time. Charlie is the final child left in the factory but for breaking Wonka’s rules, is sent away from the factory without his lifetime supply of chocolate. In the final moments inside the factory, Charlie redeems himself by returning the everlasting gobstopper that he was tempted to sell to Mr. Slugworth, to Wonka. This show of good faith to both Wonka and the factory leads to Charlie being given control of the factory. The stories of abuse in Rebellion range from the Turkish shooting a baby in its face, a child forced to steal to survive being beaten and sentenced to death, and a little girl who is flogged by her father– who is found not guilty by a jury. His final story is about an eight-year-old who injures a rich man's dog’s paw. His punishment is being chased down and killed by a pack of dogs. Alyosha’s response is to shoot him, proving Ivan’s point of human’s complex relationship with suffering. Why is the revenge, death, and suffering of one justified? The point of all of this is simple. Humans have a complicated relationship with suffering, especially that of innocents like children. Those claiming to worship an all-knowing and all-loving God really think, as Alyoshka did, that revenge can be justified. Each of the assaults described by Ivan and committed by Wonka have something in common. These are children, at the fault of those expected to be older and wiser, who are put in situations in which they make wrong decisions. In Rebellion this is shown in the situations children are put in by adults to commit their crimes, or are wrongfully subjected to violence for no apparent reason. In Willy Wonka, the idea of a lack of trust in adults is portrayed through the frightening nature of Wonka and the ongoings of his factory, as well as Grandpa Joe who pushed Charlie to drink the fizzy lifting drink for his own enjoyment. Children are inherently innocent and follow the lead of their elders; this does not mean that they should be physically abused or killed. But, we are shown that there is a limit to the wrong decisions that different ages can make, as one could justify seeking revenge on an adult who murdered a child. As discussed in Rebellion, the relationship humans have with suffering is dependent on many factors. Our ability and will to empathize with those we see deserving of it is limited to the young and seemingly innocent. The children in Willy Wonka toe this line as their characteristics make us less inclined to give our unwavering support. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a visual representation of the points made by Ivan in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: Rebellion. In the movie, Wonka portrays a god who provides tests of faith to his people, consents to the suffering of the children who act against him at the fault of their parents, and asks the audience to consider their position on suffering as a form of punishment or revenge.
- Queer Paranormal Book Recommendations
By Hope Jorgensen While Halloween and October have come to an end, the season of spookiness doesn’t need to. November is a month of gray skies and rich autumnal hues, and what better way to spend those chilly November nights than with a horror novel? In my opinion, the only thing better is cosying up with a queer horror novel. Luckily, I have three queer paranormal novels in mind. My next recommendation for queer horror is “Summer Sons” by Lee Mandelo. “Summer Sons” is a queer Southern Gothic set in Nashville, Tennessee. The content warnings of this book include suicide, homophobia, violence, drug use, and racism. The story follows main character and narrator Andrew as he deals with the sudden suicide of his childhood best friend; Eddie. Andrew is haunted by both supernatural forces and his own grief as he navigates graduate school at Vanderbilt University. The ghoul of Eddie stalks his every move, and Andrew must learn to resist him and his past. As he struggles to understand new secrets of Eddie’s, he must also dive into his own complex feelings regarding Eddie and what these feelings truly mean. For those looking for an escape from a dreary, chilly November, this novel full of the ghouls of late summer is a perfect fit. The next novel I will be recommending is “The Taking of Jake Livingston” by Ryan Douglas. There are a few content warnings for this book that include school shooting, attempted sexual assault, suicide, homophobia, racism, physical abuse, and animal cruelty. The main character of the book is Jake Livingston, a queer Black 16-year-old boy and medium who lives in a world of ghosts and ghouls that no one else can see. Jake attends a predominantly white high school where he struggles to find true friends and succeed in school. After the sudden death of a neighbor, Jake becomes haunted by the ghost of Sawyer Doon, a school shooter. The book switches between Jake’s point of view and Sawyer’s past before he died. As the book progresses and the haunting worsens, this becomes a fight for Jake’s very soul. The last book I will be recommending is “A Lesson in Vengeance” by Victoria Lee. Content warnings for “A Lesson in Vengeance” include child neglect, suicide references, and violence. The story is set at an all-female boarding school called Dalloway School. Felicity Morrow has returned to school after a year, having taken off after the death of her girlfriend. Returning to a dorm thought to be haunted by the ghosts of the Dalloway Five, Felicity meets Ellis Haley. Ellis is a prodigy author who draws Felicity into her research for her next book, based on the Dalloway Five. Reality becomes horror and horror becomes reality as Felicity searches for the truth. Truth not only about the ghosts, but her own haunted memories and what really happened the night her girlfriend died. For those seeking queer paranormal dark academia, this book is an ideal pick for a November read.
- “I Can’t Even Draw a Stick Figure,” and Why That Doesn’t Matter
By Abby St. Jean “I can’t even draw a stick figure!” — the most common words muttered out of someone’s mouth following my admission to being a Studio Art minor. A statement that I, frankly, do not believe. I think that our art curriculums do a lot wrong, but the biggest shortfall is assigning a grade based on benchmarks meant to assess the creativity of young children. Before our worlds are shattered by a 3 out of 5 on an elementary school progress report from a grumpy, older woman dictating that our art did not meet the expectations she held — we are all artists. Beginning from the first grasp of a red Crayola marker followed by the journey our hand takes from the table right up to a fresh white wall, there is a sense of freedom we all possess. A freedom that can only be described as artistry. A desire to create something from nothing. I think this experience, or ones similar, can be fondly remembered by most of us. Yet, our years of creativity often halt at age 9, unless we are encouraged to pursue art. In a world with increasingly less original thought, why are we not encouraging every single child to pursue the arts, why is it only the ones who excel in the eyes of that grumpy old woman who get to continue? When we tell our younger generations what they can’t do, they believe it. So when someone regurgitates the words “I can’t even draw a stick figure,” really what they are hearing is some external voice saying “you can’t even draw a stick figure.” My advice? Return to the urges you had as a child to draw on your mother’s white couch. Maybe not literally, but doodle, make gifts for people, draw for fun — not for a progress report, and seek out creative outlets. And maybe, one day soon, you will create something beautiful, and someone will come up to you and say, “Wow! I can’t even draw a stick figure!”
By McKenna Casey There’s a vampire sitting at the bar. She’s got red lipstick on because she thinks it’s hot and kind of ironic, like eating jam donuts or wearing her necklace with the little silver cross on it. She had considered ordering a Bloody Mary, as well, but thought the red lipstick was probably enough. It’s a nice shade. It leaves little marks on her mojito glass when she pretends to drink. The vampire is considering eating the man four seats down. He’s wearing a baseball cap and a plaid shirt that has never been in style, and she would know. He’d stared at the bartender’s chest as she had taken his order, then stared at her ass as she made it. He had also complimented what he saw, which was never a compliment. The bartender had only rolled her eyes and gone back to drying glasses. The vampire had watched this exchange with a detached sort of curiosity. Now, she taps her nails on her glass, stirs her drink, and thinks. She’s been alive for several lifetimes, but hadn’t even gotten to the second one before getting tired of men. A synth-heavy song comes on then, and the girls at a table across the room shush their conversation and begin to sing, laughing and pointing at each other as they recite the lyrics. The vampire takes her eyes off the capped man and swivels in her seat to watch them. She smiles. It’s this kind of paradox that makes her love humans. These girls hadn’t even been born when that song came out, yet they all knew the words and loved them enough to sing them at a bar. A bright spot of humanity, only feet away from a dirty one. The vampire turns her attention back to the man down the bar. He isn’t singing, which she thinks was a shame. It’s really quite a good tune, and the band had been very talented when she saw them live in the 80’s. The man downs a beer, then snaps at the bartender for another. Snaps, with his fingers, like it’s a poetry recitation. The vampire looks at her nails and decides to kill him. She’s not a vigilante, or anything. She just likes killing annoying people better. Less strain on her ancient, weathered moral compass. She’s dead, after all, not evil. The vampire watches as the bartender brings the man his drink, smiling a sickly sweet smile as she sets the drink down in front of him. The vampire figures if more women had fangs, there’d be a lot less men. The song finishes. The table of girls let out a symphony of giggling and go back to their French fries. The vampire takes out her phone and checks the time: five hours until dawn. Plenty of time for a late-night snack. She’s very good at this by now, knows to check all her boxes, cross the t’s and dot the i’s, so to speak. The vampire hadn’t come to the bar with this goal in mind, but she knows not to pass up a good meal when it practically falls into her lap. The man in plaid finishes his bottle off with a grunt, then ruffles through his things to pull out a dollar bill. He throws it on the counter, taking one last long look at the bartender’s cleavage as she bends down to grab something under the bar. Then he gets to his unsteady feet and makes his way to the door, eyeing the table of girls as he goes. The vampire leaves a few bills of her own, two hundreds that she slides beneath the full mojito glass. Money is easy when you’ve had centuries to collect it, and don’t have to pay taxes on account of being long dead. She leaves before the bartender finds the tip, following her meal out the door. It’s a cold night, with a chill wind out of the north that rustles through the vampire’s hair. She watches as the man in plaid shivers and tracks the plume of his breath as it floats toward the moon. He stumbles towards his truck, parked at the edge of the lot, away from the lights. Perfect. She steps lightly after him. As he fumbles for his keys, hands probably numbing in this temperature, the vampire goes right up to him and taps him primly on the shoulder. He whirls around, the motion nearly taking him clean off his feet. “What the hell?” His breath is pungent. The vampire sighs. She doesn’t like the tang of alcohol in the blood, anymore, but will make do. “Hello,” she says, smiling a bloodred smile. “Would you like to go into the woods with me?” The man grunts again, which seems to be his primary method of communication. The vampire finds herself desperately exhausted by this. She, as a lover of languages, knows several. She has spoken with dozens of accents, lived in hundreds of places, learned countless dialects and quirks of speech. Grunting is boring. She repeats the question. He acquiesces. It’s quite a quick conversation, really. She’s very convincing - another thing she’s perfected over the years. As they walk side by side into the woods beyond the bar, the vampire considers taking off her dress. It’s a fun little silk number she’s had since the 60’s. She doesn’t want to get blood on it. She stops when they get far enough into the trees that she can’t hear the music from the bar anymore and slips it quickly off. The man approaches her, clearly taking her state of undress as a signal. “Aren’t you cold, baby?” he asks, bringing his rough hands to her pale arms. The vampire considers him. Eyes his throat, where his pulse jumps underneath the skin. “I’ve been cold for a very long time,” she replies simply. “But I think you can help make me warm again, at least for a little while.” She smiles again, and this time he sees all her teeth. His eyes widen. He doesn’t even make it three feet before she’s on him. Afterwards, she cleans herself up a bit. Puts on her dress. Steps daintily over the mess. Walks out of the woods. As she fixes her lipstick in the sideview mirror of a truck, the vampire starts humming that song, the catchy one from earlier in the bar, and smiles, a real one this time. She really does love humans.
- Podcasts You Should Be Listening To Right Now
By Peyton Dortch As the year comes to a close and everyone is seeing their Spotify Wrapped I see the amount of minutes everyone has listened to music this year. But when I looked at mine I only racked up a total of 17,425 minutes. This felt low after seeing my friends have totals of over 50,000 minutes. But then I thought to myself what am I listening to? If I am leaving my room, I have my headphones on. So why am I not at 50,000 minutes or more? After some thought I realized I am an avid podcast listener. So allow me to give you 5 podcast recommendations for your walk to class, errand running, or morning routine. I have put this list from my most listened and favorite podcast to my least but do not think for one minute that the podcast at my bottom spot is not truly beloved by my ears. Happy listening! American Scandal American Scandal has been my most listened to podcast for about 3 years now. I discovered it while I was downloading entertainment for a long train ride. Narrated and hosted by Lindsay Graham this podcast tells the story of as the title states, American Scandals. Some episodes cover more notorious scandals like Watergate and some cover lesser known scandals like the Plame Affair. One reason I keep coming back to this podcast is because of how long it is. One season of about 5 to 6 episodes each about an hour long it covers one scandal and all the different elements, people, and facts of the scandal. This makes it perfect for a long travel day or an all-day listen. I also tend to listen at night when I cannot sleep. I must discuss the amazing sound mixing this podcast has. There are sound effects that perfectly encapsulate the sound of a heel clacking on tile or the sound of a brief case being opened. This podcast was launched in 2018 and since there are 56 seasons to pick from. My one note, this is a Wondery premium podcast so a new season will be locked to non-subscribers for an amount of time. But since there are 56 seasons to pick from you can wait until the new season is fully released to non-subscribers by listening to other full seasons. I recommend this podcast to anyone who has a love for history, crime, and scandal. Emergency Intercom This podcast is an acquired taste. If you were a YouTube kid like me you have probably stumbled upon their YouTube videos. Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips are hilarious but I will say that it is a niche sense of humor. This podcast doesn’t have a clear theme that it sticks to. Rather each episode is just a recording of two friends having a conversation. A bare bones podcast, no sound effects, no research done before recording. Just start the recording and see where the conversation is taken. If you spent hours of your youth on YouTube you probably have an interesting sense of humor making this podcast perfect for your tastes. Listeners beware if you are listening to this podcast in public people may think you are crazy because you will be laughing out loud at seemingly nothing. Short anecdote, I was on a flight home listening to the episode “We got lead poisoning” and I could not stop laughing. Picture a silent airplane and some girl giggling to herself looking out the window. The middle-aged woman sitting next to me was side eyeing me the whole flight. She probably went on to tell the story of the time she sat next an obnoxious teenage girl who could not stop laughing for the duration of the flight. I think everyone should listen to this podcast just to see if you enjoy it. This is a great podcast if you just need a good laugh. Tune in! High Brow This is a newer podcast just launched by host Mina Le. You may know Mina by her YouTube channel where she uploads video essays about a variety of topics. If you are a video essay lover this podcast is perfect for you. It is like a video essay without the visual component making it perfect for an on the go listen. The topics that Le discusses are always interesting and contemporary yet also unexpected. By listening you will end up having knowledge on something like “courtcore” or “modern farmhouses”. She also brings on guests that are experts or have a perspective to share on the topic of discussion. There is a common theme of fashion and pop culture to this podcast that makes you feel very as the title states “High Brow”. If you are like me and tend to intellectualize everything around you this podcast is a perfect fit for you. It uncovers the history of trends that we see every day like the rise of “quiet luxury” and Erewhon. Episodes span about an hour with the minutes feeling like they are flying by. Every episode I’ve listened to has me thinking about it for days after and telling my friends about this new knowledge I acquired. History This Week This podcast is the shortest in run time out of all the other podcasts I have recommended. Episodes are 15-30 minutes long making it perfect for a podcast to start your morning or for a short walk. I discovered this podcast when I was trying to find something to listen to on my morning walk down to Spring Valley for class. Hosted by Sally Helm this podcast is a quick history lesson every week to tune into. With so many episodes to choose from you could either relearn about something you have previous knowledge about or learn about something completely new. The sound mixing on this podcast is also fabulous, it plants you firm in the setting of the episode’s event and paints a clear picture of what is going on. In most episodes there is also a guest host who is an expert on whatever topic is being discussed. Somehow this podcast manages to take a possibly mundane event in history and make it interesting by talking about the details we all want to hear like the juicy bits of scandal and gossip. I recommend this podcast to history buffs, lovers, or newbies to accompany them on whatever journey the day has given them. Celebrity Memoir Book Club Celebrity Memoir Book Club is like American Scandal as their titles both explain exactly what the contents of the podcast are. The hosts, Claire Parker and Ashley Hamilton read a new celebrity memoir every week and discuss. This podcast is absolutely hilarious. The hosts both have a background in comedy so it makes sense that their podcast will have you bowled over with laughter. The best part about this podcast is that you do not need to read the book to know what they are talking about. They pull quotes and give context so that listeners are able to understand the jokes. Launched in 2020 this podcast feeds your craving for celebrity gossip. Listening to this podcast reminds me of chatting to friends about the newest headline about a celebrity. The out-of-pocket jokes made, the random connections to other celebrities, and the inside jokes made with friends. With episodes spanning about an hour and a half it is perfect for a long walk, a car ride, or even just ambient noise. If you love gossip, celebrity culture, and a good laugh I highly recommend this podcast. That is all I have for now! I sincerly hope you listen to at least one of these podcasts as I feel these are shining stars in the podcast universe.
- Hozier’s “I, Carrion (Icarian):” The most gosh darn beautiful thing I have ever heard
By Page Murrell If you randomly happen to be anything like me, then there’s one thing on your mind at all times: Hozier’s song “I, Carrion (Icarian)” from his most recent album Unreal, Unearth. (Duh.) And if you’re nothing like me, you probably have better things to do…but this is about me. Me and Hozier. Unreal, Unearth was released in August, making it his newest musical masterpiece. Through the album’s 16 tracks, Hozier pieces together a narrative inspired by the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’s “Inferno.” Naturally, this creates a pretty epic odyssey as listeners move throughout the tracks, each one a new narrative that draws parallels between Dante’s legendary vision and Hozier’s contemporary struggles and triumphs. The rhythmic pulse of the music serves as the heartbeat of the descent and the lyrics are poetic commentary on the sins and virtues that populate each circle. It’s enough to make a grown girl cry. I have never read Dante’s “Inferno,” nor have I ever wanted to, because I guess you could say I rock with contemporary struggles and triumphs more, especially when sung to me by Hozier. Anyways, I’ll admit that when I first listened to the first few songs, I was questioning whether or not I would like the rest of the album and deeply saddened by the thought of not loving anything my guy (Hozier) put out there for me. And then the fifth track began:“If the wind turns, if I hit a squall, allow the ground to find its brutal way to me.” And that is how the greatest listening experience of my life began, and never ended. The track that I am referring to is “I, Carrion (Icarian),” for those who are interested. The title is an obvious reference to the Greek myth of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the Sun, which Hozier drew inspiration from. According to Greekymythology.com, Icarus and his father were locked in a tower by the King. His father, the master craftsman that he is, makes each of them a pair of wings so that they can escape. He teaches Icarus how to fly and warns him not to fly too close to the Sun because it would melt the wax holding his wings together. Newsflash: he flies too close to the Sun. His wings melt, he falls into the ocean, and drowns. The story is often interpreted as a warning about excessive pride and carelessness. However, Hozier aims to reimagine the story. Hozier explains that this song tries to imagine that Icarus was so “enamored and so breathless and so ectatic in moments that he felt the air brushing him, that he never knew he died.” Icarus wakes up and is in complete denial that he is dead after being in such a place of ecstasy. Mix in a little love song vibes, and you got yourself track five of Unreal, Unearth. It’s magnificent. So yea, this is all I’ve been listening to for the past few months and there is no foreseeable end in sight. TLDR; I think it’s pretty cool of Hozier to bless us with the beautiful masterpiece that is “I, Carrion (Icarian),” but that’s just me.
- The DMV’s Finest Used Bookstores
By Franky Rodriguez What’s up AmFam? Wait, don’t even say anything, I already know what you’re thinking. It’s written all over your face. It reads; “Wow, ever since I moved to the Washington D.C., I’ve had an almost insatiable itch that’s begging to be scratched. Where are the most affordable used bookstores across the D.C. Metropolitan Area? I’ve just got to buy some AFFORDABLE USED BOOKS!” First of all, calm down. There’s no need to yell, the kids just fell asleep and I don’t think either of us wants to have to put them asleep again. Secondly, don’t you worry, because I’ve got the cure for your tiresome woes. I’ve got here with me a list of the best used bookstores in the DMV. Yeah, the best of the best. The best part though is that I’m gonna put you guys on real quick. That’s right, you’re getting the best list of the best (used) books(tores) in the ENTIRE DMV. Don’t say I never did anything for you. Anyway, let’s begin. 4. SECOND STORY BOOKS Yep, we’re gonna start here with a classic. First opening its doors in 1974, this place has become one of the DMV’s finest used bookstore juggernauts. It’s located in Dupont Circle, right off the redline for your convenience. These dudes know their stuff, and you could genuinely lose yourself for hours scanning through their vast selection of rare books. Check it out! 3. FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY This intimate little bookstore is located right outside of D.C. in the glorious district of Wheaton-Glenmont. Attached to the Wheaton Library and Recreational Center, this used bookstore offers some of the most affordable used books in the DMV with a constantly expanding book selection of all genres. On top of that, the place sells used records, DVDs, CDs, and comics, all for cheap, I’m talking $2-5 dollars cheap. Make a stop here the next time you’re in Wheaton-Glenmont and get your picture taken in front of the iconic Glenmont water tower! 2. LOST CITY BOOKS 1. The Lantern The Lantern is a non-profit volunteer-run bookstore specializing specifically in used and rare books. Since 1974, the bookstore has been helping fund women in need of financial assistance attending Bryn Mawr. Located in Georgetown, this place has a vast selection of used books, DVDs, Vinyl Records, and CDs. The best part is that the bookstore makes sure to keep all its products extremely affordable! Truly one of the DMV’s finest used bookstore gems.
- Five Albums to Cope With a Bitter Winter
By Abby Tredway With the fall semester wrapping up, we are headed into a miserable time of the year signified by leafless trees, early sunsets, and, for some, below freezing temperatures. Although many opt for a nice jacket or a soft pair of mittens to keep them warm, I tend to reach for an album to avoid the cold. Over the years, this tendency has led me to accumulate a hefty list of my top picks for the season. Here are my five warmest albums! songs by Adrianne Lenker (2020) This is very possibly my favorite album of all time, and while I reach for it regardless of the season, it is perfect for winter. Released in October of 2020, “songs” has stood the test of time for me, as I have listened to it every day since. I’ve loved and lost and loved again with this album, but, most importantly, I’ve grown with it. The album as a whole is a folksy tribute to love, nature, and what once was. In the most popular song, anything, Lenker laments on a former lover in a beautiful fashion with soft vocals that are a commonality between every song. The pair of her calming vocals and intricate guitar are perfect for laying inside in attempt to warm up after a cold day outside. Every song is incredibly stripped down, mirroring the bareness of the trees in winter. Adrianne Lenker changed my life, and I’m hoping she’ll change yours. 2. Better Oblivion Community Center by Connor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers (2019) Phoebe Bridgers and Bright Eyes frontman Connor Oberst teamed up to form their band Better Oblivion Community Center and released an impressive self-titled album that is perfect for the cold. Both Bridgers and Oberst are known for their writing skills, which means this superteam formulated the perfect album to either cope with seasonal depression or fall deeper into it. Either way, the journey Bridgers and Oberst take you on is worth it. On “Didn’t Know What I Was In For”, both close out the song with a haunting line: “Sit on the couch and think about how living is just a promise that I made.” Sonically, this album is more full than Lenker’s, riddled with drums, multiple guitars, and various other instruments. Both are incredible, but if a slower, more folksy album is not your pick, Better Oblivion Community Center is an incredible option without having to sacrifice the lyricism. 3. The Moldy Peaches by The Moldy Peaches (2001) Led by Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, The Moldy Peaches’ only official album (excluding compilations) is a sweet, honest, and raw collection of songs. Both The Moldy Peaches and Dawson herself found fame after their inclusion in the soundtrack of 2007 film Juno. Michael Cera and Elliot Page came together for a cover of “Anyone Else But You”, which has become a fan-favorite on The Moldy Peaches’ self-titled album. In tracks like “Jorge Regula”, both Green and Dawson opt for a slower pace than their more popular songs, which they are able to do just as well as their faster songs. This album is as versatile as it is sweet, and is it sweet! As a contrast to the other two albums, this one will not leave you feeling upsest and discontented with your place in the world, so it may be a better choice for some. 4. Just Another Diamond Day by Vashti Bunyan (1970) Regardless of the album, Vashti Bunyan is the quintessential winter artist. Her vocals are so incredibly calming, and they are the main focus of her songs. The intrumental takes a backseat and allow Bunyan to ruminate on many topics. This album almost forces you to light a candle and just sit while you listen to her voice. It is perfect for evenings where the sun sets sooner than it did previously and you’re waiting for something to do. 5. Bavarian Fruit Bread by Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (2001) Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Ciosoig teamed up to create a slow, reflective album that perfectly fits the season. The sound is in character for both Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine, but it is also a perfect blend of the two separate bands. None of these songs have the simple structure of most common songs, which allows the listener to think more about what is being said. This album is great wintery dream pop, and won’t leave you feeling too sad. Both Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine are more wintery artists for me, and this doesn’t change with this pairing.
- A Frustrated Writer’s Guide to Coping with Writer’s Block
By Emma DiValentino For two years I was plagued by writer’s block. Here are the practices I’ve implemented into my life to combat it. It’s okay to take a break from writing! Contrary to what capitalism and the academic hellscape lead us to believe, you don’t have to be producing something all the time. Some periods are meant for rest and consumption, much like bears in the wintertime. Sometimes what is best is to hibernate for a short while. Pushing yourself every second of every day is a surefire way to fall into the pits of burnout. Instead, take some time to experience the world; go for walks, find a lovely park bench to sit on, explore new music. 2. Investigate external problems Sometimes we can’t write because other things are interfering with our creative process. Consider these questions… Do you feel inspired by anything in your life? Perhaps a new album or friends and loved ones or books you’re reading. Are you engaging with the world around you in a way that feels fulfilling? Do you have a suitable space to write that you feel safe and comfortable in? Are you feeling burnt out? 3. Keep a journal (even if you just use it to vent and scream about the horrors of the world) Try to stay connected to writing as a form of expression, even if it’s just to discuss your inner thoughts or complain about your daily life. Some people like to write a certain number of pages each day to keep themselves in a routine, but if you’re like me, staying on track with a writing practice is difficult when juggling work and school. I solved this by finding a journal at the store that I was in love with and just dedicating it to absolutely anything that popped into my head, no matter how minor or silly or emotional it was. I used it for grocery lists, to do lists, notes for stories, etc. In this way, my journal became a resource for me rather than something to feel guilty about neglecting. When I was ready, my journal became the place I naturally turned to when I was ready to start writing again. 4. Don’t be afraid to write badly One of the biggest things that kept me in a writing rut for so long was that I was too focused on getting a story perfect on the first try. The writing process is entirely dependent on editing and good, careful editing at that. Also, rewriting intentionally brings opportunities to your story that you may not have thought of on the first try! Don’t fear the editing process! 5. Force yourself to write again After you’ve taken some time to properly consume the pleasures of the world, write. Write even if it feels miserable; you’ll get over it. Try starting by just writing the beginning of stories, even if it’s just a line or two. I experimented with cheesy prompts I found on the internet and overused tropes before I found my place in writing again.