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Poetry in Baltimore, Spring 2018

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Poetry Events in Baltimore This Semester

*for bios, below
3/4 Artivism Day
5pm, Impact Hub
3/8 ART Rising open mic, with featured performer TBA (Brought by Slammageddon Baltimore)
7:30pm, GLCCB, $5
3/29 Jenny Johnson* and francine j. Harris*
7pm, Batza Room in the Athenaeum, Goucher College
4/4 ART Rising open mic, with featured performer TBA (Brought by Slammageddon Baltimore)
7:30pm, GLCCB, $5
4/10 Terrance Hayes*
6pm, Mudd 26, Johns Hopkins University
4/11 Rigoberto Gonzales
5pm, Skylight Room in the Commons, UMBC
4/12 ART Rising open mic, with featured performer TBA (Brought by Slammageddon Baltimore)
7:30pm, GLCCB, $5
4/12 Black Ladies Brunch Collective*
7pm, Batza Room in the Athenaeum, Goucher College
4/19-21 DewMore Baltimore Youth Poetry Festival
4/21 Rudy Francisco,* featured performance
5/10 ART Rising open mic, with featured performer TBA (Brought by Slammageddon Baltimore)
7:30pm, GLCCB, $5

Chris August is a teacher and writer based out of Baltimore. He travels the world performing his work and has authored the collection Loving Instruments (Sargent Press, 2013). His poetry has been featured in Hyperlexia and the anthology From Page to Stage and Back Again. For over ten years, Chris August worked as a special educator in and around Baltimore city. During this time, he spent all of his free moments writing poetry and traveling the country to perform it. Over that time, he became involved in the national slam poetry community, which challenges writers to take their poetic works to the stage, competing with performance-ready versions of their best work. He has represented Baltimore, Washington, DC and Philadelphia at the National Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry slam, which he was lucky enough to win in 2011, after which he represented the United States at the Poetry World Cup in Paris, France.

Airea D. Matthews​’s first collection of poems, Simulacra, recipient of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, has received praise from outlets including The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Best American Poets 2015, American Poet, and elsewhere. She received the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and was awarded the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in 2016 from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Ms. Matthews is working on her second poetry collection, under/class, which explores poverty. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College.

Somali-born poet and essayist Ladan Osman​ is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, winner of
the Sillerman First Book Prize, and the chapbook Ordinary Heaven. Her next collection Exiles of Eden, a
work of poetry, photos, and experimental text, is forthcoming in 2019. Osman’s writing is a lyric and
exegetic response to problems of race, gender, displacement, and colonialism. Throughout her writing,
Osman is concerned with the question of testimony. Whose testimony is valid? Whose testimony is worth recording? Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and Luminarts Foundation, Michener Center for Writers Fellowship, among numerous other nominations. Osman’s writing and photographs have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Roar, Rumpus, Transition, and Washington Square Review. She is a contributing culture editor for The Blueshift Journal. Osman currently lives in Brooklyn.

Jenny Johnson​ is the author of In Full Velvet, published by Sarabande Books in 2017. Her honors include a 2015 Whiting Award and a 2016-17 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. She has also received awards and scholarships from the Blue Mountain Center, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia
Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, New England
Review, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. After earning a
BA/MT in English Education from the University of Virginia, she taught public school for several years in
San Francisco, and she spent ten summers on the staff of the UVA Young Writer’s Workshop. She earned
an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. She is a Contributing Editor at Waxwing Literary Journal. She teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Rainier Writing Workshop, Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency MFA program.

francine j. harris​ is originally from Detroit, Michigan, where she grew up in one of many neighborhoods
operating in economic limbo in the aftermath of the motor industry collapse. After high school, harris moved to Arizona and attended several community colleges part-time before earning scholarship to attend Arizona State University, where she earned a BA in English. harris spent the next several years working with grassroots organizing projects for community radio, social justice, and queer performing arts, while facilitating poetry workshops for young people and practicing visual art. harris moved back to Detroit in 2002. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Poetry from University of Michigan, where she was awarded a Zell Fellowship. harris is the author of allegiance (2012), a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award; and play dead (2016). Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, Poetry, Meridian, Indiana Review, Callaloo, and Boston Review. A 2008 Cave Canem fellow, she has also won the 2014 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest and was awarded a 2015 NEA fellowship. harris has taught creative writing at University of Michigan and Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and she is currently writer in residence at Washington University in St. Louis.

Terrance Hayes​ is the author of Lighthead (Penguin 2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books are Wind In a Box (Penguin 2006), Hip Logic (Penguin 2002), and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999). His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a United States Artists Zell Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. How To Be Drawn (Penguin 2015), his most recent collection of poems, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, and received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry. He is the current poetry editor at New York Times Magazine and has two forthcoming manuscripts: American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin (Penguin, 2018), and To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018).

Rigoberto González​ is the author of 17 books of poetry and prose, most recently Unpeopled Eden, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Recipient of the Guggenheim, NEA, NYFA, and USA Rolón fellowships, he is currently professor of creative writing at the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark and on the board of trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). His book of criticism Pivotal Voices, Era of Transition: Toward a 21st Century Poetics is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press Poets on Poetry Series.

Black Ladies Brunch Collective​:
Katy Richey​’s work has appeared in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, RHINO, The Offing and other journals. She
received an honorable mention for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Poetry Award. She is a Cave Canem fellow and hosts the Sunday Kind of Love reading series open mic at Busboys and Poets in Washington D.C. Tafisha A. Edwards​ ​is the author of THE BLOODLET, winner of Phantom Books’ 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in The Offing, PHANTOM, Bodega Magazine, The Atlas Review, The Little Patuxent Review, and other print and online publications. She is a Cave Canem Graduate fellow and a graduate of UMD College Park’s Journalism school. Saida Agostini​ ​is a Cave Canem fellow, and lover of Prince. A queer Afro-Guyanese poet and social worker, Saida’s work has been featured in several publications. Anya Creightney​, a Cave Canem fellow, is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico with roots in Kingston and Copenhagen. A poet, editor and coordinator, she is a Programs Specialist at the Poetry & Literature Center in the Library of Congress. Teri Ellen Cross Davis​ is a Cave Canem fellow and has received scholarships to attend the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her first collection HAINT was published in June, 2016 by Gival Press. Poet and journalist celeste doaks​ i​s the author of Cornrows and Cornfields,  (Wrecking Ball Press, UK) March 2015. Cornrows was listed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2015 by Beltway Quarterly Poetry. Her journalism has appeared in the Huffington Post, Village Voice, Time Out New York. Currently, she is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at University of Delaware.

Rudy Francisco’s​ spoken word art is an amalgamation of social critique, introspection, honesty and humor, using personal narratives to discuss the politics of race, class, gender and religion while simultaneously pinpointing and reinforcing the interconnected nature of human existence. He has conducted guest lectures and performances at countless colleges and universities across the nation. Francisco has shared stages with prominent artists such as Gladys Knight, Jordin Sparks, Musiq Soul Child, and Jill Scott. He is also the co-host of the largest poetry venue in San Diego, competes in domestic and international poetry slam competitions and had the honor of being nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Ultimately, Rudy’s goal is to continue to assist others in harnessing their creativity while cultivating his own. Rudy Francisco is the 2009 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion, 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and appeared on TV One’s “Verses and Flow”

Events in Baltimore (February 16th-March 2nd)

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February 16

  • 4 Hours of Funk** at The Windup Space
  • BEYONCE VS RIHANNA DANCE PARTY at Ottobar
  • IT’S UNVALENTINE’S DAY! DANCE PARTY* at Metro Gallery
  • Caz Gardiner w/ The Flying Faders, Suburban Hi Fi at Sidebar
  • Shellshag w/ Bigmouth, the Guests, Faunas, Pearl at Joe Squared
  • The Future in the West** at The Crown
  • REACHES//PWM//TarikEvolve//SeanKing** at The Crown
  • LITZ 2 Day Run (Live Album Release): Funk You* at The 8×10
  • Frozen Harbor Music Festival: Day One at Baltimore Soundstage
  • Frozen Harbor Music Festival: Day One at Rams Head Live!
  • Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series at Royal Farms Arena
  • “Pictures at an Exhibition” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest of Your Life at The Lyric
  • Ladies Night at Grand Central Nightclub
  • “Along with the Gods: the Two Worlds (신과함께-죄와 벌)” at The SNF Parkway

February 17

  • Baltimore Into Comics Issue #17 at The Windup Space
  • STACKED LIKE PANCAKES w/ THE STOLEN, MORE TBA at Ottobar
  • SURF ROCK NIGHT! OTTOBAR’S SHRUNKEN HEAD w/ KILLERS FROM SPACE, THE TSUNAMI EXPERIMENT at Ottobar
  • JOSEPH & THE BEASTS w/ Manners Manners, Santa Librada, DJ Pancakes* at Metro Gallery
  • Rats In The Wall w/ All Torn Up, Pearl, Syringe at Sidebar
  • Elegant Filth: Live Burlesque** at The Crown
  • LITZ 2 Day Run (Live Album Release): Box Era* at The 8×10
  • Frozen Harbor Music Festival: Day Two at Baltimore Soundstage
  • Frozen Harbor Music Festival: Day Two at Rams Head Live!
  • Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series at Royal Farms Arena
  • “Pictures at an Exhibition” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Charles Revival Series: “Night and the City” at The Charles Theatre

February 18

  • ROAD TO SXSW at Ottobar
  • HONEY RADAR w/ Margins, Homosuperior, Birth (Defects), Henry Owings* at Metro Gallery
  • GLOOP, Jim Shorts, Middle Kid, Too Soon Jokes at New America
  • INTERVALS “THE WAY FORWARD TOUR” w/ JASON RICHARDSON, NICK JOHNSTON, NIGHT VERSES at Baltimore Soundstage
  • Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series at Royal Farms Arena
  • “Pictures at an Exhibition” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Cinema Sunday at The Charles Theatre

February 19

  • Hortio Dark at The Windup Space
  • Charles Revival Series: “Night and the City” at The Charles Theatre
  • “Chisholm ’72 – Unbought and Unbossed”: President’s Day Screening! At The SNF Parkway

February 20

  • Black Mass w/ Led To The Grave, Narrow Grave at Sidebar
  • SILVERSTEIN & TONIGHT ALIVE w/ BROADSIDE, PICTURESQUE at Baltimore Soundstage
  • STRFKR w/ Reptaliens at Rams Head Live!
  • Louis Malle’s “God’s Country” presented by Colette Shade at The SNF Parkway

February 21

  • Drink and Draw!** at The Windup Space
  • TRONG-PONG: Black Light Table Tennis at The Windup Space
  • I SET MY FRIENDS ON FIRE w/ KISSING CANDICE, AWAKEN I AM, AT THIS POINT, SPERMASAURUS REX at Ottobar
  • YNDI HALDA w/ Staghorn, Time Columns at Metro Gallery
  • Pow Pow Family Band/ $100 Girlfriend/ James and the Giant Peach** at The Crown
  • ELM February Residency: lespecial* at The 8×10

February 22

  • Beat Barrage featuring Ashley Sierra and Ullnevano and MORE! at The Windup Space
  • FULL OF HELL w/ PRISONER, NEOLITHIC, R-COMPLEX at Ottobar
  • DJ DIAMOND DUSTIN SPINS PUNK & METAL!** at Ottobar
  • IAN BROWN MEMORIAL w/ Alms, Cemetery Piss, Pearl* at Metro Gallery
  • No Zodiac w/ Strengthen What Remains, Iron Price, Dahmed., Cancer Priest at Sidebar
  • UFO VOL 11** at The Crown
  • A Night Of Japanese New Wave & Obscure** at The Crown
  • Roots of Creation Grateful Dub Tour ft. Kash’d out, The Elovaers* at The 8×10
  • “Rite of Spring” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Justin Moore: Hell on a Highway Tour at The Lyric
  • Charles Revival Series: “Get Out” at The Charles Theatre

February 23

  • Surf Harp (Record release) w/ Operator Music Band, Zula, Chiffon, Jacober at The Windup Space
  • TIM BARRY w/ JOSH SMALL, ROGER HARVEY at Ottobar
  • MATT TALLEY (EP RELEASE) w/ Locus Sound, Thunder Club, Flying Jacob, TM Lockemy* at Metro Gallery
  • Street 45’s w/ E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart, 3rd Grade Friends, Subtastics at Sidebar
  • Depth Perception Presents: The Pleasure Tour ft. Exmag + Bass Physics, DeltaNine, Image.Nation* at The 8×10
  • ELI YOUNG BAND w/ MELODIME at Baltimore Soundstage
  • Katt Williams at Royal Farms Arena
  • “Off the Cuff: Rite of Spring” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Baltimore Craft Show at Baltimore Convention Center
  • “Golden Exits” with director Alex Ross Perry! at The SNF Parkway

February 24

  • LET THERE BE HOUSE! at The Windup Space
  • BLACK MASALA at Ottobar
  • BUTTER::
  • OLD-SCHOOL CHILL HOUSE VIBES W/ DJ DAN G & MORE!** at Ottobar
  • PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH w/ Praise, Unholy Sights* at Metro Gallery
  • Bad Time w/ No Parking at Sidebar
  • June Star with Stars and the Sea w/ Leland Sundries, Saddle of Centaur at Downsquares
  • Night Gruuvs** at The Crown
  • Splintered Sunlight* at The 8×10
  • THE PRINCE EXPERIENCE at Baltimore Soundstage
  • “Off the Cuff: Rite of Spring” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Charles Revival Series: “Boudu Saved From Drowning” at The Charles Theatre
  • MET Opera: “La Bohème” at The Charles Theatre
  • Atomic Comics Klatch (ACK!) at Atomic Books

February 25

  • Baltimore Record Bazaar Winter Show! at The Windup Space
  • “Expert of Nothing” comedy game show at The Windup Space
  • “MORE LAUGHS” THE ANNUAL BIG FRED BIRTHDAY COMEDY SHOW at Baltimore Soundstage
  • “Rite of Spring” at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Center
  • Revival Series: “Warner Brothers Cartoon Show” at The Senator

February 26

  • VÉRITÉ w/ Roses And Revolutions, Pale Spring at Metro Gallery
  • Runaway Brother w/ The Neckbeards, Clairvoyant, Pinkwench, 96 Olympics at Sidebar
  • Charles Revival Series: “Boudu Saved From Drowning” at The Charles Theatre

February 27

  • Brews and Board Games** at The Windup Space
  • Gutter Demons w/ Meteor King, Skapparoneday at Sidebar
  • The Beanie Bros Tour 2018* at The Crown
  • Oak House / Drone Theory / Stars and The Sea* at The Crown
  • Atomic Reading Club: Less Than Zero at Atomic Books

February 28

  • TRONG-PONG: Black Light Table Tennis at The Windup Space
  • ADULT. w/ HIDE, Extended Release* at Metro Gallery
  • ELM February Residency: DJ Williams Shots Fired w/ All Star Cast* at The 8×10
  • Revival Series: “Once Upon A Time In America (Extended Director’s Cut)” at The Senator
  • Gunky’s Basement Presents: “American Psycho” on 35mm! At The SNF Parkway

March 1

  • Foxhole Atheists at Sidebar
  • MONDO BALTIMORE: Trash Flicks and Cult Epics!
  • Ed Schrader’s Music Beat w/ Wume, Smoke Bellow* at Metro Gallery
  • CHEFS: The Sizzling Kitchen Showdown
  • Revival Series: “Belladonna of Sadness” at The Charles Theatre

March 2

  • Tomason (record release) w/ Sea Lilies (record release), Flying Faders, Yanni II at The Windup Space
  • Pressing Strings w/ Skribe* at Metro Gallery
  • Lost in Society w/ Rooney’s Show, The Stifled, Old Bay Thrashers at Sidebar
  • SOOHAN w/ Anna Morgan – Christian Dope at The 8×10
  • “KÉKSZAKÁLLÚ” at The SNF Parkway
  • “Western” at The SNF Parkway

The Shape of Water (2017): A Review

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Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones in The Shape of Water. Photo Credit: The Atlantic

Yes, I am aware that this is a review of a movie that is over a month old. Yes, I am aware that I have missed the zeitgeist of this movie by many weeks. And yes, I am aware that the initial hype that built through the limited release schedule over the course of December has long passed, having culminated in a wide theatrical release in early January. However, I was unable to see the film until recently and, considering how long it has been since it came out, I’ve decided to forgo a regular review in favor of a conversation about the craft of this movie and the commentaries it provides through its set design and character choices.
The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro’s newest film, is nothing short of a modern monster masterpiece. A spiritual sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon, the film that directly inspired it, the movie takes all the tropes of a classic monster film and filters them for a modern audience. However, this is not a monster movie at heart. There is nothing horrific about this film, save for the small wounds that powerful humans inflict upon those who lack that power. There is no dark reflection of our fears contained within the monster. There is no cautionary tale about the dangers of science or nuclear war. There are only lonely people, trying to find comfort in a world that hates them for the things it perceives they lack. But perhaps that is the horror of the film.
Regardless, there is a theme to the film that is found in these thoughts: the theme of completion. The protagonist, Elisa, feels incomplete; she has been told all her life that because she cannot speak, there is something wrong with her. Her neighbor, and one of her only two friends, Giles, desires love but cannot have it – no man will give it to him in an age of repression. They both require companionship, and while they have each other, it is an incomplete match. They are two halves of a whole but, as the set design reflects, there is always a wall between them.
The Shape of Water also works within its setting to create a world that asks us to examine our fascination with the idealized time that was the ‘50s. Creature from the Black Lagoon came out in 1954, and the aesthetic of this film is a direct commentary on the setting of the original as well as the constructed version of the 50s we have bought into ever since. Our villain, Colonel Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, lives in a perfect 50s home with a perfect 50s wife and two perfect 50s children. It even has the pop art clock that looks like the sun exploding and bright, garish orange walls. He is representative of all the horrible things that mid-20th century (and present day) American cinema has swept under the rug – sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, racism, ableism, sexism, etc. The film does not shy away from the harsh realities of the past but also does not revel in them.
We focus instead on the characters who would have been marginalized and trivialized in Creature from the Black Lagoon instead of the traditional sci-fi “hero” embodied by Strickland. Yes, Strickland is more villainous than traditional Hollywood monster movie heroes, but he reflects the worst aspects of those “heroes.” He is also couched in the “best” of the ‘50s, juxtaposing that which the American consciousness has deemed as “a simpler, better time” with the horrors those pastels mask.
In contrast to Strickland’s “beautiful past” aesthetic, the rest of the film is steeped in dark, art deco architecture and design. Yet, these are the moments and locations that provide the most warmth and humanity. In the dark corners and hidden locations, we find ourselves. We find our humanity; we find out where we stand. These locations are, however, still dirty, still imperfect. And there is no better example of this reflection than in Giles’ obsession with old Hollywood musicals. He needs them to bring meaning to his life, to bring companionship and to distract him from the world he lives in. He cannot handle the reality of the civil rights rallies, preferring to live in a world that is blissfully unaware of the socials ostracization he faces as a gay man. He wants to live within the perfect fabrication he creates with each Jell-O ad he draws. He is a fallible character, willfully complicit in a system that marginalizes others as well as himself because he does not want to see the harshness of the world. He wants, much like we often do, to see the world as an old Hollywood musical: “perfect,” simple, uncomplicated, and filled with problems that have simple solutions.
At its core, The Shape of Water is a romantic drama that just so happens to feature an amphibious man as the love interest. It is a beautifully constructed movie, unapologetic in its inspirations and one of the most fulfilling films I have seen in a long time. If you can, see this film in theaters. It has much to love and much love to give.

So About Taylor Swift’s Reputation…

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Contrary to what she wants you to think, the “old Taylor” definitely isn’t dead. After Swift’s year long media hiatus she dropped a string of disappointing singles. “Look What You Made Me Do”, “…Ready For It?” and “Gorgeous” left a lot to be desired. Despite this, Swift manages to deliver the high-gloss pop we’ve come to expect while being refreshingly introspective and showing growth as an artist. The old Taylor isn’t dead; she just drinks, has sex, takes an arguably more adult view on relationships, and doesn’t care that you think she’s hyper curated or calculating.

Taylor Swift has a reputation. Photo Credit: Google Images

Reputation continues the synth-pop we received with 1989, working with hit producers Max Martin and Jack Antonoff. Beginning with the bombastic, speaker shattering “…Ready For It?” to the more quiet but still booming (for Swift) “New Years Day,” Swift has adapted to the sonic trajectory that pop has been on recently.

The absence of her signature love ballads is glaringly apparent and may be a turnoff for some fans, but Swift is all “grown up” and wants you to know it. The relationships and love Swift is now concerned with are noticeably more age appropriate and long term. The adolescent, idealized versions of love have been replaced by a more realistic twenty-seven year old who’s well versed in failed relationships and just how disappointing they can be.  Her new remorselessness is admittedly hard not to enjoy, especially on “I Did Something Bad.” This isn’t Swift’s best, but the spite and apathy is new for her and it just feels so, well…good. This is also the first time Swift sings about sex, mentioning it frequently throughout.

Drinking is referenced heavily as well, another first. “Delicate,” which feels oddly comforting in its description of a fragile, budding fling, is one of the album’s strongest songs both lyrically and sonically. It finds Swift meeting her lover at a dive bar in the East Side: “We can’t make any promises can we babe, but you can make me a drink,” probably to cope with the stress of an undefined relationship, and while she knew “from the first old fashioned” that they were cursed, her doomed lover isn’t thinking and Swift is “just drinking” in “Getaway Car.”

Ever the image-conscious capitalist, Swift manages to make references that straddle the different lifestyles of her fan base, subtle cultural cues that attempt to appeal to both Middle America and the wealthy living on the coasts. “…Ready For It?” was teased on a  Instagram pre-football game hype montage and booms with aggression.  “End Game,” arguably Reputation’s weakest song, features her and Ed Sheeran attempting to rap alongside Future, has a football game warm-up feel, “I wanna be your first string, I wanna be your first string,” and stays clear of any explicit sexual- or alcohol-related lyrics. Meanwhile, “Getaway Car,” “New Year’s Day,” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” find Swift reveling in her uber-wealthy bi-coastal lifestyle.  While the shameless mentions of wealth aren’t great— “Jump into the pool from the balcony, everyone swimming in a champagne sea…feeling so Gatsby for that whole year” she sings, before lamenting her fight with another celebrity (Kanye?) on “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”— it is the world she knows, and Swift traditionally has written from a very personal place.

If you can stomach the unapologetic privilege and some bad rapping, Reputation is definitely worth a listen. Swift might not be currently popular as a human after her series of self-pitying public relations gaffes this past year, not to mention some of the well-deserved criticism for her lack of political action during the 2016 election, among other problematic aspects of her too extensive to include in this article. However, there’s no denying that Reputation is an incredibly strong piece of work, and most importantly, enjoyable to listen to. Just skip past the self-pity and “End Game”.

 

Reading Across the Disciplines: An Ode to ISP

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The International Scholars Program (ISP) encouraged students involved to expand their perspectives globally through various classes and seminars. Now, the ISP program is nearing it’s end. In honor of this course, I sat down with two former ISP students, Liv Siegal and Terrin Rosen who gave recommendations of four books they read throughout the course. While there are specific explanations on why for each of the books below, Liv felt that all of these books were important for her because “[Reading these books] helps us understand why the world is the way it is today. It helps us understand global capitalism. It helps us understand white supremacy, war, national boundaries— pretty much anything related to international relations.”

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Summary: “It’s basically a theory on how the west was able to rise to global supremacy. The whole idea is that it’s based on the way the genocide of the Native Americans happened through the spread of infection, guns because they were able to access gun-powder, so their weapons were more advanced than the indigenous people living here, and steel is industrialization.”

On why it matters: “There’s some truth to it, and it’s an unorthodox interpretation of history, and it also helps us understand the way the systems of oppression work today.” (Liv)

Black Skin, White Masks. By Frank Fanon. Photo Credit: Amazon

Black Skin, White Mask by Frantz Fanon

“It’s about the systems of racism that were being exercised when the world was being colonized and how the colonized experience a lot of internalized racism… the colonized experiences because of the colonizer.” (Liv)

Orientalism by Edward Said

“It’s, again, postcolonial theory, and it’s basically about how Western culture looks at ‘the east’ and ‘the orient’ and how we take that and co-modify that.” (Terrin) “[This] was another one that I’ve recommended.” (Liv)

Orientalism by Edward Said. Photo Credit: Google Images

Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire

“It is probably a pillar of postcolonial theory, so basically looking at the way colonization worked, and it’s a critique of colonialism and a critique of the motivations behind colonization… and the systems of power it creates— particularly racism and capitalism and exploitation.” (Liv) “It looks at different ways of exploitation in ways that we don’t necessarily think of them.” (Terrin)

Resistance and Decolonization by Amilcar Cabral

“It’s very similar to Césaire’s critique of colonization.” (Liv)

I hope through this section you’ve piled up some books to read (or listen to) over Winter Break! If you have any suggestions of books, essays, collections, etc. from your majors, minors, or favorite courses, feel free to email me directly (kamon002@mail.goucher.edu) or fill out a survey titled “RAtD Submissions” (distributed through the Goucher app and class pages). Just input the title of the work, the course/professor who introduced you to it, and why you think others should read the book. Happy reading!

My Favorite Murder Review

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Have you ever felt like you and your best friend are absolutely hilarious and that people would enjoy listening to your weird conversations about your super strange and, sometimes, disturbing interests and experiences? My Favorite Murder, a podcast hosted by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, feels exactly like that. Both Karen and Georgia are professional writers and have worked in comedy before. Even though they are both talented writers and comedians, this show feels effortlessly funny and casual.

My Favorite Murder, a podcast hosted by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, was started in early 2016 as a place where Karen and Georgia discuss their obsession with true crime. Photo Credit: Google Images

My Favorite Murder was started in early 2016 as a place where Karen and Georgia discuss their obsession with true crime. Each week, they both pick and research a murder, a famous or lesser known one, and they tell each other the story of the murder. This whole process usually takes about two hours, sometimes more, so the episodes are quite long. However, the show isn’t just two women sitting and telling each other about murders; a majority of the episode is spent on long asides and funny/stupid jokes. Each episode, it usually takes around an hour of them talking, catching up and joking before they get to discussing the murders they’ve researched.

It sounds like it could be flip and callous, but Karen and Georgia do an incredible job of respecting the victims of these crimes. While they are silly and carefree most of the time, there are moments of gravity and reflection. Both Georgia and Karen are reflective about how the subjects of their stories are victims of trauma, and show respect for the victims that they talk about. They also discuss the flaws of and critique the criminal justice system. Despite the fact that they are talking about these heavy topics, My Favorite Murder still feels like a lightweight and funny podcast, rather than a  discussion of horrific murders.

My Favorite Murder covers a variety of different crimes. They cover some of the most famous murders alongside lesser known crimes. I recently listened to their coverage of the Son of Sam murders in New York City in the 1970’s. While Georgia and Karen discuss their horror at the crimes of David Berkowitz, this episode is also hilarious. Both Georgia and Karen are from California, so they have no knowledge of New York City at all. Listening to them attempt to name all the boroughs of New York City, and cackle while they read the very wild Son of Sam letter is absolutely hilarious.

I’ve also been fascinated by the smaller, lesser known crimes that Karen and Georgia talk about. Episodes about the Collar Bomb Heist and the Amish Killer both showcased fascinating cases. These are also incidents that I otherwise would never have heard of unless I listened to My Favorite Murder. For anyone who is a fan of true crime, of any sorts, but also enjoys weird comedy that makes you feel like you’re just hanging out with your friends, My Favorite Murder is the perfect podcast for you.

Reviews of Helen Glazer’s Walking in Antarctica

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What is the exhibit?
Kyoko Kinoshita
Goucher College is holding an exhibition entitled “Walking in Antarctica” by Helen Glazer in Rosenberg Gallery, from October 18th to December 18th. Helen Glazer makes photographs and photo-based sculptures based on complex natural forms, informed by an understanding of scientific concepts of growth and form in nature.
This is exhibition is of her seven week “walks”: over frozen lakes, into frozen ice caves, up mountains and with the Adélie penguins. The gallery is structured so that you follow her journey as you walk along the wall.  As soon as you enter the main entrance, you will see the audio guide and brochure right in front of you.

“The balance between light and dark subjects creates a simultaneous sensation of restriction and expansion, of being consumed and being freed.” -Miranda Egan Brooks Photo Credit: Helen Glazer

Background on the Artist
Guadalupe Sosa
Helen Glazer comes from a well-established art background. Her art career began during her undergraduate years. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Yale University. Afterwards, she went on to the Maryland Institute College of Art to obtain her Masters in painting. Not only is Glazer’s work displayed at Goucher College, but two pieces from her Walking in Antarctica exhibit will be displayed at the BWI airport.

Art and Technology
Virginia Turpin
Helen Glazer created this exhibit after spending seven weeks in 2015 in Antarctica on a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. She spent this time photographing the landscape as well as mapping rock formations for sculpture using photogrammetry and 3D printing.
Despite the technology woven through the exhibit, the focus Glazer brings to the wild and natural beauty of Antarctica makes it feel earthy, rather than high tech. Throughout the exhibit she seeks to illustrate the different landscapes and features present in Antarctica beyond the stereotypical imaginings of Antarctica as endless snow desert. She does this by showing the close details of frost and snow, as well as alien underground chambers. She takes the viewer through the more rocky aspects of the coldest continent, including rocks bare of snow and icy mountain-scapes, as well as low lying lakes and muddy patches. Last, but certainly not least, she does not neglect Antarctica’s most photogenic resident: the penguin.

Why You Should Go
Kyoko Kinoshita
This  exhibition was beautiful and  educational. Antarctica is very far away and there is not much opportunity to learn about it in daily life, so it was very nice to see pictures from there and to learn about Antarctica, especially now, when the global warming is a huge issue.

Pondering about the Future
Guadalupe Sosa
I believe the theme of this exhibit would be pondering about the future. These pictures make you look beyond the focal point. Glazer may be making a point to look forward to the other side. This exhibit hit me because, as a senior in college, I am scared to look into the future. I am at crossroads in my career: should I stay at my current job or go elsewhere? I feel connected with the small penguin. The penguin is an equivalent parallel to my pondering in life. Overall, Glazer did an incredible job of fusing Antarctica’s with a deep message of finding oneself.

From a Photographic Point of View
Sara Naughton
Focusing more on the photographs for this exhibit, you can tell she structured her photos differently according to the different subject she chose. I liked that she decided to have a wider camera view of the landscapes, giving the viewer a broader glance into the environment, whereas when she photographed the subject matter of ice formations, she had a very close up view of them, which gives an entirely different perspective. This allows you to see intricate details you would otherwise miss, and look at ice entirely differently. Sometimes things that are photographed up close look like entirely different things.

Artistic Rather than Environmental
Miranda Egan Brooks
Although its aim was to shed light on Antarctica’s need for environmental concern, Glazer’s exhibition does not quite accomplish this and is stronger in other areas. Glazer’s success comes from her artistic talents and ability to depict the richness of the Antarctic landscape. Since each picture was so full of interesting content, I found myself focusing on the visual pleasures and complexities of the work, rather than feeling any concern for Antarctica’s environment. I can say that I genuinely appreciated a great number of Glazer’s photographs and that I left the exhibition appreciative of Glazer’s ability to expand my knowledge of the Antarctic landscape in a creative and impacting way.

Art Analysis: Blue Fractals
Miranda Egan Brooks
Packed with emotions, aesthetically intriguing, and demonstrative of technical skills, Blue Fractals is one of my favorite pieces in Glazer’s collection. I especially enjoy how much this photo has to offer in regards to content and perspective. The balance between light and dark subjects creates a simultaneous sensation of restriction and expansion, of being consumed and being freed. This photograph is also remarkable, as it illustrates the intricacies and beauty of nature in a very graceful way.

 
Intrigued? Check out the exhibit for yourself in the Rosenberg Gallery.

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.

Reading Across The Disciplines: Part 2

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This issue, I’m sharing three books from Economics and one from Creative Writing (focusing mainly on poetry). The following are books from the Econ department, shared with me by Fiona Rutgers, a current Econ major. If you’re interested in economics but don’t have time for the classes, check out the books below! All the following descriptions were given by Fiona Rutgers.

Photo Credit: Google images.

Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan; Class: Equivalent is Essentials of Economics
“Gina [Shamshak] recommended this book as a fantastic sampler of the kinds of topics we cover in Econ 111. The author wrote this book with the specific purpose of demystifying econ, so it’s a great place to start if you want to learn more about the subject.”

Photo Credit: Google images.

The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner; Class: History of Economic Thought, Steve Furnagiev
“[This book] is a historical examination of some of the biggest economic thinkers in history, and [provides] the background for the ideas and theories they created. I’ve heard that the course is really handy for poly-sci majors, since it gives context for a lot of the economic policies implemented in the US today.”

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Google images.

Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson; Class: Intermediate Macroeconomics, Steve Furnagiev
“The book is all about the power of institutions—political and economic, and how they shape the ways societies develop. The book specifically argues that institutions, things like corruption, education, and innovation, influence the wealth a country develops. It touches on a lot of the big picture ideas of macroeconomics.”

 
If you’re not interested in Economics, or want a quicker read over Thanksgiving or Winter Break, poetry may be what you’re looking for! You can look into poets like Rupi Kaur, Billy Collins, or the infamous Shel Silverstein.

Photo Credit: Google images.

The Collected Works of Lucille Clifton; Class: Introduction to Poetry, Katherine Cottle
While I don’t believe you need to read her entire life’s work (about 600 pages if you get the hardcover edition), Lucille Clifton’s poetry is stylistically unique, far from the stereotypical rhyme schemes and odes that many people know poetry to be. Lucille Clifton, the Poet Laureate of Maryland from ‘79-’85, writes with blunt, brutal honesty, expertly using punctuation and formatting to emphasize the strong imagery in her poems. Most of them are relatively short, so if you’re looking for a quick read that still packs a wallop, read a collection by Lucille Clifton.
That’s all for this week. If you have any suggestions of books, essays, collections, etc. from your majors, minors, or favorite courses, feel free to email me directly (kamon002@mail.goucher.edu) or fill out a survey titled “RAtD Submissions” (distributed through the Goucher app and class pages). Just input the title of the work, the course/professor who introduced you to it, and why you think others should read the book. Happy reading!

Stanger Things 2: Review

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Halloween: the time of spooks and scares, of tricks and treats, of strange otherworldly monsters and telekinetic girls. That’s right my friends; dust off those conspiracy boards and strap in for the second season to last year’s surprise Netflix hit, Stranger Things. I’ll be doing my damnedest to avoid spoilers, but there’s no guarantee. If you haven’t watched season two (or season one for that matter), proceed at your own risk.

Stranger Things 2 “was a little bit overstuffed…but there was a lot to love about it.” Credit: Google Images

For those of you who don’t know what Stranger Things is, it is a Netflix-original 80s-style small-town horror/sci-fi show. Think of it as a scarier, more supernatural version of Goonies or Stand by Me. Season One introduced us to our main cast and the central mystery/conceit of the show: the Disappearance of Will Byers, the appearance of a young girl named Eleven and her telekinetic/psychic powers, and the Upside Down. It was a tightly constructed season that resolved its main plot while leaving open the doors to expand the world and answer a lot of unanswered questions.
Now, over a year later, we have the answer to some of those questions as well as a whole host of others. Season Two does not possess the tight narrative of Season One, but it does have the advantage of knowing that it’ll probably get a season three. Therefore, it can afford to think on a larger time-scale. A lot of this has to do with the increase in the number of plot threads we get, along with the increase of characters in the cast.
We’ve got the main crew— Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Will— and each of them get their own mini-arcs. Lucas and Max, Dustin and Dart, Will and Joyce and the fallout of Season One, and Mike….is pretty sidelined this season, but considering he was the main focus of Season One, that’s ok. It gave the rest of the cast a chance to grow and to expand, which is exactly what we needed, enabling us to finally see more of the other families.
The other plots are split between Eleven and  Sheriff Hopper (whose plots converge and diverge throughout the whole season), along with Jonathan, Nancy and Steve, who fulfill the fandom’s promise of “Justice for Barb” and resolve their lingering love triangle. I’m glad that the creators addressed both of those issues and hopefully this was the wrap up we needed on those plot threads before we move on to others. This season also brings back everyone’s favorite character: Nail Bat!
On a more serious note, I think this season was a little bit overstuffed with all of these moving pieces, but there was a lot to love about it. Steve’s character arc continues here, and I’m so thankful for the nuance they are giving his character. He could have easily been the shitty boyfriend that he originally started out as in the beginning of the first season, but this season gave him a slow arc of character growth. He isn’t perfect, exemplified by the advice he gives Dustin on how to get girls and his own thoughts on love; but he has moved beyond the sex-obsessed douchebag we were first introduced to.
Bob was also a fun addition to the cast and exemplified peak-Dad characteristics of any character other than Mike’s. But out of all the new characters, new girl Max was the best and a true joy to watch. Her ‘brother’ (whose name I can’t remember so I’ll just call him by his key traits: Toxic Masculinity & Creepy Charmer) was easily the worst part of the season. He served no purpose other than to be an example of the bad guy that Steve could have been, failing to bring anything new to the show; at best, he’s a plot device for Max and Steve.
Speaking of unnecessary additions, Episode Seven was most definitely a misstep for the series. It broke from the established format of jumping between plot points to slowly build tension; instead it spent an entire episode focused on Eleven and Eight, a new character who really irked me. By spending the whole episode on this, we don’t have the layered storytelling we’ve gotten throughout the rest of the show. There were at least three cuts in the first twenty minutes where I expected us to cut away to another storyline to give us a breather, but we never get that. Instead, we get more of Eight and her self-righteous attitude. She serves as a foil to Eleven, as someone who grew up without anyone to hold her back or to teach her anything about compassion. She has no remorse and pretends to care about Eleven, but her only concern is her own agenda (at least at the onset). By the end of the episode, it’s apparent that Eleven’s presence has had an effect on her, but what that effect is is left up in the air. However, the episode was necessary for Eleven’s growth as a character, so it can’t be skipped. While I applaud the directing of the episode and the decision to take a risk, it wasn’t one that panned out.
Beyond that and a few other, smaller pacing problems, this season is very solid. It’s not as focused on the elements of horror established in Season One (which is a shame) but it makes up for it with the development of characters’ depths. Check it out if you haven’t yet, and if you have, get pumped for season three… eventually.

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