The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

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Talia Military

Talia Military has 4 articles published.

Two Days In Bruges

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Bruges, a city in the Flemish Region of Belgium, can be summed up as a tiny metropolis of cobbled streets, canals, windmills and houses with crow-stepped gable roofs.
There aren’t really any ugly parts of the city, but there are some areas that are prettier than others. It’s pretty small, to the point where you could cover the sights within two to three days if you mustered up enough energy.
Not counting origin-questionable French Fries, Belgium is famous for three foodstuffs: beer, waffles, and chocolate. Bruges delivers on all three, especially chocolate. There’s an entire museum (called Choco-Story) dedicated to the history and making of chocolate, while the city itself is chock full of chocolate shops (pun intended). I found that the big brand name stores like Leonidas and Godiva tended to attract the most attention. They were the ones with crazy window displays (because no one can resist a chocolate fountain); the unique molds and shapes (because everyone needs a toolbox set made out of dark chocolate); and free samples inside and outside of the store. Then there were the local, family-owned places that have gained enough popularity over time to rival the crowds of the brand name stores. Chocolatier Dumon (or simply Dumon) was established in the center of Bruges in 1996; in 2008 and 2014 respectively, the new owners were able to expand their business to two more locations within the city. The least crowded places were the smaller, less flashy shops that lacked the presentation of the brand name stores and the history of the older shops.
In addition to Choco-Story, Bruges is home to a number of small museums and in turn, great pieces of art. One of my personal favorite works was The Last Judgement, a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, housed in Groeningemuseum. Additionally, museums aren’t the only places in Bruges to find artwork. In the Church of Our Lady, visitors can pay to view Michelangelo’s “The Madonna of Bruges”, a sculpture depicting Mary and the baby Jesus. At the Vismarkt (a stone structure where fishermen used to sell their catch of the day) local artists bring out their paintings for sale. But one of the best collections of art (in my personal opinion) was the pop-up Salvador Dali gallery housed on the ground floor of the Belfry of Bruges. The exhibit featured some of Dali’s lesser-known works, including his illustrations for the children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s all very extravagant and vulgar, but as one of Dali’s framed quotes says, “Modesty is not exactly my specialty.”
Of course, there is more to Bruges than just chocolate and art. The city accommodates literally dozens of stores, selling products from Smurf and Tin-Tin merchandise to Bruges’ traditional flower lace (available at almost every shop). Additionally, the city itself is something to look at; as I stated earlier, there are no ugly parts of Bruges. You shouldn’t stress if you’re unable to find accommodation near the Markt (the center square of the city), because everything is within reasonable walking distance. I personally preferred my stay at St. Christopher’s at the Bauhaus near the edge of the city because in the morning I was able to wake up early and take pictures of the city’s windmills as the sun rose. My advice is to visit during the colder months; in addition to avoiding the bulk of tourism, you’ll also get to see the already magical little city strung up with holiday decorations.

Featured Image: Beautiful Bruges. Photo Credit: Talia Military

Murder on the Orient Express: Review

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Great scenery? Check. A-List casting? Check. A script based on one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time written by an author universally acknowledged as ‘The Queen of Crime?” Check. A totally fresh and revamped adaptation of a classic that lives up to it’s predecessors? To quote Hercule Poirot, “Non.”

Poster for Murder on the Orient Express Credit: Google Images

Full confession: I did grow up watching the 1974 Albert Finney version, which kind of (maybe sort of) got me hooked on murder mysteries. I went to see Branagh’s version  knowing who the culprit was and where most of the clues lead; I had to prepare myself with the fact that the reveal probably wasn’t going to be as exciting or mind blowing as the first time I’d seen it. With this in mind, I have to say those who do not know the answer to the mystery may enjoy this film more than someone who does, as the interest in the murderer’s identity will motivate them to keep watching.
Kenneth Branagh did to Hercule Poirot what Robert Downey Jr. did to Sherlock Holmes, which was essentially upgrade him from odd, dapper genius, to genius-gentleman-action-hero with a love interest. Which is fine— to each their own interpretation and revamping— except for one problem: Murder on the Orient Express is not an action film. The use of the Imagine Dragons song in the teaser trailer should have been my first clue that this movie was going to be pitched to audiences as something it really wasn’t.
At it’s core, Murder on the Orient Express is a delicate puzzle that requires the detective and the audience to use their ‘little grey cells’; to take a slew of seemingly unrelated clues and occurrences, and piece them together, until the very end, when all is revealed. Now, if you want to change things up, add in some action, a little flair, go for it. But don’t sacrifice valuable screen time that could have been used for sleuthing and deducing for the sake of a chase scene that literally leads nowhere. There are so many instances where clues are pulled out of thin air, confessions are made with barely so much as a threat, and a couple of the suspects (the lesser known actors) are passed over in favor of other suspects (the top billed cast), which made me wonder if there had been scenes edited out of the final cut.
I do have to give credit where it’s due; in this case, it’s to the cast. Everyone who had a part to play fully embodied their characters, taking full advantage of their time onscreen, no matter how short it was. A special kudos has to be given to Michelle Pfeiffer, (but is anyone really surprised? It’s Michelle flipping Pfeiffer) who is simply fabulous in her role as Mrs. Hubbard, and to Kenneth Branagh. I may not agree with his portrayal of Poirot, but he really stuck to his choices of characteristics and gave it all of the energy his six-pointed mustache could muster.
Looking back on my viewing experience, I realized that it wasn’t that the embellishments on the plot and the new characters that were bad; some of them actually added a new depth to the story. However,  others just weren’t executed as well as they could have been, which caused them to pale in comparison to the intelligence of film’s source material. Bottom line, I recommend that you either read the book first or watch the 1974 version (or even the television adaptation starring David Suchet, Jessica Chastain, and Toby Jones) before learning who the murderer on the Orient Express is in Branagh’s version.

Pantoum

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There are four miniatures on the butterfly dresser
The fairy sized bottle of watermelon flavored vodka is
Emptied and washed out
Filled with water and a flower picked from the side of the road
The fairy sized bottle of watermelon flavored vodka is
Right next to the little vial of coconut rum
Filled with water and a flower picked from the side of the road
It smells sweet and feels sticky
Right next to the little vial of coconut rum
There is a bumpy, lilliputian bottle of raspberry gin
It smells sweet and feels sticky
The bottle is empty and unwashed
There is a bumpy, lilliputian bottle of raspberry gin
Next to the peach flavored vodka in the tangerine colored packaging
The bottle is empty and unwashed
Making up four miniatures on the butterfly dresser, plus two in the
fridge

Dream Journal

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They say that dreams are the gateway to the infinite, to the sublime, to our true cores. If so, then maybe the world is a little bit more strange than we think. So, record your dreams, as has been done below, and tell us what times you have seen gone by.

 

Nearly a week ago, I dreamt of goblins
In a limestone cave
Dripping with stalagmites
Surrounded by moth eaten furniture
Feasting on the innards of metal garbage cans
Discussing goblin politics

The night after that, I dreamt of cyborg-aliens
Called the Weatherpeople
Who pilfered eyes, fingers, toes and ears
To steal their victim’s identities
And a woman who had visions of their crimes
(she was a dreamer within a dream)
And confided in her psychiatrist
Only for him to reveal himself
As the leader of the Weatherpeople

The next day, I dreamt about a teenager named Mary Elizabeth
Who went to a party
Smoked a cigarette
Got into a stranger’s van
And was swallowed up by the night

That night, I dreamt of a pastry chef
Dressed in black
Who prepared desserts
In a tall glass box
Stationed in the middle of a shopping center food court
And turned all the mall rats
Into gluttonous, creampuff-craving zombies

The night before last, I dreamt about a desert town
Called Moon Valley
(because it was built inside of a crater)
And a pale boy who sold snow globes
In the town’s only gift shop
And after all the
Cave Dwellers, Space Invaders,
Lost Girls, Zombies,
And Snow Globes

I dreamt about drowning
In a sea of Purple Rain

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