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Reading Across the Disciplines

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I have a horrible habit of buying textbook rentals at the end of the semester. Every semester, I try to figure out which books I’ll want in the future, then inevitably miss three or four that I decide I need after reading them. These are books that I found have made my college experience all the more valuable and engaged me at my core. Because each discipline has books that change perspectives, I’ll also be featuring other books (and some articles) from other disciplines and professors that matter to students at Goucher. Below, I’ve named my top three books from courses in Psychology and English. I hope to add books from others in the future. In the meantime, feel free to add these three to your to-read list!

Source: Google Images

Stand Your Ground by Kelly Brown Douglas
Genre: Non-Fiction
Read for: Rick Pringle, Relational Psychology, Spring 2017
Summary: Kelly Brown Douglas examines the history of Stand Your Ground laws in the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin and considers the contradiction that exists within Black Faith.
Why: This summary is far too simple to address the whole of Douglas’ discussion, but that’s mainly because the issues Douglas confronts are far too complex for a one sentence summary. While Stand Your Ground is certainly a dense read, it provides incredible and important insight into how systemic racism came to be a part of our judicial systems and our media. It certainly covers a dark history, but the book is overall hopeful that these issues within our society can be fixed, if only enough people acknowledge the horrors in our past that have lead to our horrors in the present.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Genre: Fiction
Read for: Antje Rauwerda, Contemporary World Literature, Fall 2016
Summary: The White Tiger follows Balram Halwai as he plays by, as well as breaks, the rules to rise up within India’s caste system through becoming a driver for one of the wealthiest families from his village.
Why: As a whole, I’d highly suggest all of the books on Professor Rauwerda’s syllabus, primarily because all of the books give context to cultures and countries that are often ignored within our society. The main reason I suggest The White Tiger out of all of the books on this list, however, is because it requires the least background research out of the 5 novels we read. The White Tiger is also a really interesting read, with the crude and honest first person narration of an unreliable narrator. I found Balram engaging, not entirely likable, but a character that continuously shocked without appearing inconsistent or unrealistic. Additionally, if you’re a fan of animal symbolism, this book is right up your alley.

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien
Genre: Fiction
Read for: Rick Pringle, Relational Psychology, Spring 2017
Summary: Told in three main formats— an evidence section of quotes, a proposed narration, and footnotes— the narrator attempts to discover the truth of what happened to John Wade, Vietnam Veteran and former US politician, and his wife when they attempted to slip away from the public eye in a tiny cabin in Lake of the Woods.
Why: This book beautifully demonstrates the view of the truth as nebulous and subjective. Throughout it, many people are quoted as supposedly knowing exactly what happened the night John’s wife, Kathy, disappeared. In the end, however, true evidence is scarce, and it is up for the reader to determine what qualifies as being true. For those who love slow build mystery, unique book formats, and footnotes, In the Lake of the Woods is an absolute must.

The SPX Haul Part 3

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A couple of issues ago, I wrote about some of the super cool comics and artists I met at SPX back in September. Well, here I return, but this time I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of focusing on the objects and stories I acquired, I’m going to talk about one of the artists I met. I did not pick up any particular work of hers at the convention, but I did pick up a few collections that contained her work. I’ll talk about them another time (I still need to read all the stories in them); instead, I want to talk about the conversation I had with Carla Speed McNeil and her insightful comments.

But first, a quick biography. Carla Speed McNeil is an Eisner and Ignatz award winning comic artist, who got her start back in 1996 drawing a comic called Finder. It started as an ashcan comic (black and white, cheap paper, hand stapled, meant to be thrown away) and slowly grew an audience until the advent of the internet where, after thirty-eight issues, it moved online. More recently, Dark Horse Comics has been serializing the most recent chapters in its anthology magazine, Dark Horse Presents.

Finder was not a huge seller in its individual issues, but it created a sprawling, dense sci-fi world that sucks you in and immerses you deeply into its character’s life. It is widely considered to be a seminal science-fiction comic work.

Source: Carla Speed McNeil

More recently, she has worked with Alex Di Campi in creating a series called No Mercy. It’s a wild ride, and having only read the first volume, I can’t fully talk about it ,but go check it out if you can.

Okay, enough backstory. The reason I wanted to talk about her is because of her passion for comics and because of how much of modern comic history she has witnessed and been a part of. As I said before, she started with ashcan copies of Finder back when SPX was only two years old. From what she said, she’s been at the con since its inception in 1994 (hence the con grandmother comment last time). The con was just a singular room, only a few tables, and made up of a small number of independent comic creators and comic enthusiasts. They traded their zines and discussed what they had made.

Now, SPX is the size of a large hotel ballroom, packed to the brim with independent comic creators and comic enthusiasts. All sorts of creators are there and the amount of creativity, while always high, has only grown. Carla talked on how she had watched con guests arrive, become inspired by the work they saw, and a few years later, have a booth right next to hers.

She talked about how the makeup of the con is changing: diversity has increased and female creators are a large portion of the cons now (they were always a large portion of the guests). She sees independent comics as the future— she always had— and while the comics industry is still plagued with problems relating to its treatment of non-white, non-male, non-straight creators and creations, the future looks bright. There are so many new voices being shared by people who love the medium of comics; hopefully, as the years go by from here, more and more voices can be shared.

I began this article by saying that I would talk about Carla Speed McNeil and what she told me as we conversed. I lied. Well, not totally. A couple months can dull the actual words and parts of the conversation, but the sentiment still stuck.

The makeup of the people buying comics hasn’t changed all that much; it’s always been a diverse group of people. Yet, finding a platform from which to share voices that reflect that audience was difficult back before the internet. The internet has made it easier for people to be connected to the voices that would otherwise have been buried, ignored by the industry.

Now, having had time to make those voices loud and proud, artists can start to be heard by those who would have normally ignored them. They can continue the process of change and to inspire a new generation who will continue the fight and continue to produce amazing art.

These are those voices. Independent comics are the voices of the people and the place where unpolished, fresh, or even polished but still unknown talent can be found.

I do remember the last words that were told to me before I left her table. I had asked what was the best way to manage the con and really get the most of it. She told me to take notes. To pay attention to work that grabs me and catches my eye. To get contact info if, even for a second, I pause and stare at a piece.

“It means they captured something, something you’ll want to follow,” she said.

“The Sun and Her Flowers” Review

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The Sun and Her Flowers. Photo Credit: Urban Outfitters

Rupi Kaur released her book The Sun and Her Flowers on October 3rd, 2017. I was filled with excitement because she is known for her book Milk and Honey, which was released in 2014. Kaur had brought a new type of flare to modern poetry with her first book. It was hard to find poetry that talked about current issues; most of the poetry nowadays talks about being in love or heartbreaks. In both of her books, she talks about multiple topics. I was impressed with her first book, but unfortunately I did not feel the same when reading her newest book.

I bought her second book the day it released. The day she announced the release date for her second book, I put it in my phone calendar so I would not forget (although I did not really need it, I remembered it perfectly). When I first received the book, I scrutinized the cover and the back. The cover of her book is really cute. The background is an off-white, while the title is bolded The Sun and Her Flowers, along with her name under it. Under her name, there is a picture of what appears to be sunflowers, with blue petals. It is not the best picture of a sunflower, but it is still very cute. The picture looks as if it was drawn by a child. The back of the book also has an off-white background, with sunflowers at the bottom, but it has one of Kaur’s poems written on the back of it.

The Sun and Her Flowers covers six main themes: loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration, and revolution. A lot of the topics were covered in her last book, except for the topics of migration and revolution. She wrote about the same thing, just in different words. There was no spark when reading her poems. When I read her first book, I was constantly taking out my phone, taking pictures of her poems because I believed they were very deep and meaningful. I did not want to forget them. I probably took about three pictures with her newest book. Many of her poems lack depth and meaning. You could literally find tweets on Twitter that basically say the same thing. A lot of her poems looked as if she was making bland statements, but they were just pushed into multiple lines. Unfortunately, she did not bring anything new to the table, so I was not impressed with her second release.

Although I was not impressed with her new book, she is still a beautiful person. If she made a third book, I would read it in hopes that she would give me the same amazement as she did with her first book. She is already a beautiful writer, but I would like her to expand more on her thoughts. She is saying what has already said.  I want her to make me think. If a person is looking for a book to make them think while leaving them with a new perspective, this is not the book for them. If a person is looking for a quick, easy read on some of the most commonly discussed topics, then this is the right book.

HANNAH CLAGGETT

The Show Will Go On— Changes in this Year’s “Rocky Horror”

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At the Towson Town Center! Photo Credit: Goucher College Events Page

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a highly anticipated event every year at Goucher college. The raunchy show is part film, part theater, and makes for a unique experience that changes every year. In spite of its beloved place in Goucher’s campus culture, things are changing for this year’s showing. Gone is the show’s traditional closed off setting of Merrick Lecture hall; instead, say hello to one of the center points of campus: the Hyman Forum.

“This year Rocky will be performed in the Hyman Forum,” says Sophie Mezebish, assistant director. “Typically Rocky has always been performed in Merrick, which is a much smaller, more intimate space. The Ath will change things up dramatically as it’ll be vastly larger, accommodating for a larger audience as well as a larger cast and lots of audience interaction.”

“A lot of people have been confused by the move,” says Abigaile Bates, this year’s director of Rocky. “When I selected my cast, they were the first to know. Some of the actors had issues, given that the forum is a much more public space. Still, we are trying to take control of the space as best we can.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show started out as a musical in the early 70s. The show gained traction and was adapted to film in 1975. The film gained a cult following, and inspired a set of viewing traditions that persist into today. Since then, organizations across the US have presented their own versions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing the film while having actors lip sync the lines and music on stage below. Productions are especially popular on college campuses, and Goucher is no exception. The show has become a staple of Goucher campus culture.

The first time I saw Rocky was at Goucher my freshman year- I absolutely fell in love, and for the past two years, I’ve been a huge fan.” says Jasmine Hubara, a member of the ensemble this year.

This year’s Rocky Horror will be presented one night only, as the larger space of the Hyman forum ensures that just about anyone who wants to see it, can. But why the location change?

“I went to OSE to reserve the space, and apparently there is going to be an outside concert from a Baltimore group that is going to be using Kraushaur, but they will be storing their instruments in Merrick,” says Bates. “That was only for Saturday night, but the only reason we do two nights in Merrick is that the space is so small, and we want everyone to be able to see it. I thought of the Hyman Forum but thought ‘no, that’s too public,’ but the more and more I thought about it— It’s certainly a creative challenge, but maybe Merick was booked for a reason.”

There are quite a few challenges to overcome with the new space. The openness of the forum makes the lighting and sound design of the show completely different from previous years.

“In addition to the new space being larger and much different than anything we’ve worked with, it is also not set up to hold theatrical performances. This means that we will have to bring in lighting and scenic elements to make the forum feel like the typical Rocky performance space. This is difficult because it’s very expensive to buy props, sets, and lighting implements to fill up the new space,” says Mezebish.
“We have the different levels we can work with, and we can hold a lot of people. For that reason, it’s going to be very loud,” says Bates. “Luckily I’ve been meeting with a technician to try and get the movie as loud as possible to override that. As for the spotlights we usually have, we are going to try using high-tech flashlights to try and have the same effect.”

The open nature of the ath is another concern. “I think that the major challenge with the new space is that it’s hard to practice there if we want to keep everything secret until opening night. And, of course, we won’t have complete control of the space like we did in Merrick,” says Hubara.

Aside from the location change, there are other problems facing this year’s production. Some of the show’s traditionally used props have gone missing.

“We have always had a box filled with Rocky supplies that lies in one of the rooms of the theater,” says Bates “We have special shorts that Columbia always wears, some corsets for ensemble members who can’t afford their own… and I went to the room and could not find anything! The only things I could find were the coffin, wheelchair, and gurney, and we wouldn’t be using two of those! And no one had any idea where anything was. It was extremely frustrating. And so we’ve had to extend our budget not just for the normal props that we have to rebuy every year, but also to get the things we thought we would already have. But the show must go on, and as someone who loves a challenge, I’m still pretty excited.”

And the show is still going on, thanks to the love and effort that’s been put into it. “There’s something about the Goucher community of the show that makes it so different from all the other Rocky shows I’ve seen. We’re not afraid to be vulnerable and wild for the show because we have this supportive and uplifting culture of our Goucher community— I know I decided to audition for the show because I trusted the community I would be so vulnerable in front of,“ says Hubara.

“For so many, Rocky Horror symbolizes transgressing cultural norms and truly feeling free to be one’s self. In a liberal arts sphere such as Goucher, we value acceptance of others despite their differences or what social norms may say about these differences. Rocky reminds us to set our judgements aside and celebrate not only sexuality, but everything that makes us unique,” says Mezebish.

“The funny thing about this year is that we will never run the show full out until the night of. So the first time the audience sees the full show will also be the first time the cast and I also see the full show. It’s frightening, but exciting at the same time” says Bates.

The performance will be Saturday, October 28th at 8 pm.

FIONA RUTGERS

Who Did IT Better?

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It, the novel originally written by the notorious Stephen King in 1986, first made its way to the big screens in 1990. The plot follows a group of gangly preteens, known as the Losers Club, as they each face an evil force that has cursed their small town of Derry, Maine and eats children. The age old force reveals itself in many different forms, usually taking shape in a child’s worst fear, though it is most famous for appearing as an evil clown named Pennywise. In fact, in the book, the creature even has the power of mind control and telepathy, though this is not showcased in either of the It movies. The film starts with the six year-old Georgie playing out in the rain, splashing in puddles, and watching his homemade paper sailboat covered in wax float in the water. The monster is first revealed when Georgie’s sailboat goes down a sewer. It is in the drain and lures small Georgie to his death by offering him his boat back. Georgie’s older brother, Bill, and his friends begin to investigate and find a pattern of waves of children disappearing in their town every twenty-seven years. In the older version of the movie, the gang gets back together as adults and goes home to confront Pennywise, but the newer movie does not, in all likelihood because it is the start of a series and will address this portion of the infamous novel later on. While an unpopular opinion, I personally favor the older movie. The original movie was rated 6.9 on IMDB and 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, while the newer version has scored 7.8 and 85% respectively. Even the middle school mentees in CBL’s Middle School Mentoring said they preferred the new one, and a surprising amount said it was their favorite movie of all time. The new It isn’t a bad movie (to say so is a sheer lie), but to say it’s the better of the two is outlandish.

Source: The Tylt

The remake has an excellent balance of comedy and scare. Fright obviously stems from the child-devouring monster, and the comedy comes in during some well-written and well-placed lines regarding boyish immaturity and childhood ignorance. Though the internet claims It is pee-your-pants terrifying, I found it to be a good amount of horror without being overwhelming. On top of this, the cinematography was beautiful. While made in 2017, the movie is set in the 1980s and definitely looks the part. The film score played into the jump scares and added to shock value. While occasionally the use of computer-generated effects was very obvious, overall the movie is very well-done and I would even go as far as to call it a must-see. However, the old movie was better, if only for a minimum of two words: Tim Curry.

We all know Tim Curry. The razzle-dazzle person that he is, who inspired the whole world to love transvestite burlesque in his legendary role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While Bill Skarsgård, Swedish actor and model, did a good job in playing Pennywise in the remake, there’s no way to compare him to Tim Curry. It can’t be done. In fact, in an interview with Us Weekly, Skarsgård said “We were making a new film, a new adaptation of the book. Of course, I wanted to bring something different and unique to it. Otherwise, I don’t see the point in remaking something. I hope that people can consider both performances separately and appreciate them for what they are.” Obviously he brought something new to the table. It’s a new movie, directed by someone else, created nearly two decades after the first one, and focuses on a completely different aspect of the character’s lives than the last one as well. However, I don’t think it would be completely out of the left field for one to suggest that maybe Skarsgård does not wish the world to compare the two renditions because he recognizes the enormous clown shoes Curry left behind.

ISABELLA FAVAZZA

The SPX Haul Part 2

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Zen Kitty, Art Credit: Paulina Ganucheau

 

Last issue, I talked a bit about my experience at SPX (Small Press Expo), a wondrous con filled with many fabulous artists and storytellers, all coming to ply their craft and meet their fans IRL. This time, I’m going to get right down to the nitty gritty and tell you about a few more of the cool stuff I found and nudge you in their direction.

Let’s kick this off with something sweet and spooky (and something I teased last time).

Mary Shelley’s Franken Berry by Matt Hickey: A short zine (about four pages) that reframes Frankenstein as if it were a cereal commercial for everyone’s favorite gothic cereal, Franken Berry. It’s humorous and blends the serious tone and language of Mary Shelley’s original work with a rough, black and white art style. I saw the title and, without looking inside, purchased it. Worth every dollar I spent.
The art style, which is an underground comix movement style (purposely ugly and stylized), fits better than it should, and the framing as a cereal commercial had me laughing more than it should have. Matt seems to mostly have short zines like this up on his etsy store, which you can get to from his Instagram Clarissamansplains. Check it out if you’ve got the chance, and a few bucks lying around.

Mini Comics by Abby Howard: A collection of very short memoir style gag comics, all very funny. Most are three to four panels, featuring some aspect of the public personality of the author and her animals: Spoons the cat and Wednesday the snake. If you want to get an idea of what these are like, check out her series Junior Science Power Hour.
Abby is a master of creating humor out of the mundane and horrific. The very first webcomic I ever read, Abby’s The Last Halloween, just began book two and you should all check it out. It’s fantastically creepy, funny, not to mention the artwork is stellar. In all black and white, Abby’s love of horror shines through with her grotesque monster designs and dark storytelling, balancing it out with just the right amount of incredulous humor. You can find her on twitter @abbyhoward.

Innsmouth (Issue One) by Megan James: I’m just going to copy a couple sentences from the introduction to sum this series up:
“A modern day revisionist horror comedy featuring a diverse cast that would be accessible to newcomers and old fans alike. [She] wanted to pay homage to all the things [she] love about the Mythos, but [she] also wanted to take some good jabs at the more troubling aspects.”
And that’s what it is. We open on our main character, a resident of Innsmouth (and a member of its cult), going door to door handing out pocket Necronomicons.
Unlike Abby Howard’s work, which leans much more heavily into horror juxtaposed with humor, Megan James take the humor and leans the horror into it. It’s veers more towards the absurd (one character literally uses one of those wall mounted fish as a walky-talky), but I love it all the same. You can find digital copies on gumroad at sinkswimpress, physical copies from sinkswimpress.com, or follow her on twitter @meg_emmy_james.
“Isn’t the public domain a wonderful thing?”

eet their fans IRL. This time, I’m going to get right down to the nitty gritty and tell you about a few more of the cool stuff I found and nudge you in their direction.

Let’s kick this off with something sweet and spooky (and something I teased last time).

Mary Shelley’s Franken Berry by Matt Hickey: A short zine (about four pages) that reframes Frankenstein as if it were a cereal commercial for everyone’s favorite gothic cereal, Franken Berry. It’s humorous and blends the serious tone and language of Mary Shelley’s original work with a rough, black and white art style. I saw the title and, without looking inside, purchased it. Worth every dollar I spent.
The art style, which is an underground comix movement style (purposely ugly and stylized), fits better than it should, and the framing as a cereal commercial had me laughing more than it should have. Matt seems to mostly have short zines like this up on his etsy store, which you can get to from his Instagram Clarissamansplains. Check it out if you’ve got the chance, and a few bucks lying around.

Mini Comics by Abby Howard: A collection of very short memoir style gag comics, all very funny. Most are three to four panels, featuring some aspect of the public personality of the author and her animals: Spoons the cat and Wednesday the snake. If you want to get an idea of what these are like, check out her series Junior Science Power Hour.
Abby is a master of creating humor out of the mundane and horrific. The very first webcomic I ever read, Abby’s The Last Halloween, just began book two and you should all check it out. It’s fantastically creepy, funny, not to mention the artwork is stellar. In all black and white, Abby’s love of horror shines through with her grotesque monster designs and dark storytelling, balancing it out with just the right amount of incredulous humor. You can find her on twitter @abbyhoward.

Innsmouth (Issue One) by Megan James: I’m just going to copy a couple sentences from the introduction to sum this series up:
“A modern day revisionist horror comedy featuring a diverse cast that would be accessible to newcomers and old fans alike. [She] wanted to pay homage to all the things [she] love about the Mythos, but [she] also wanted to take some good jabs at the more troubling aspects.”
And that’s what it is. We open on our main character, a resident of Innsmouth (and a member of its cult), going door to door handing out pocket Necronomicons.
Unlike Abby Howard’s work, which leans much more heavily into horror juxtaposed with humor, Megan James take the humor and leans the horror into it. It’s veers more towards the absurd (one character literally uses one of those wall mounted fish as a walky-talky), but I love it all the same. You can find digital copies on gumroad at sinkswimpress, physical copies from sinkswimpress.com, or follow her on twitter @meg_emmy_james.
“Isn’t the public domain a wonderful thing?”

Zen Kitty by Paulina Ganucheau: Closing us out is not a comic, but a print. As it’s the title image, I don’t have to describe it, but I will describe Paulina’s other work for you. She’s an artist on Zodiac Starforce and Another Castle: Grimoire, both fantastic series that I highly recommend. She is the most “professional” of the bunch this time, as big publishers have put out her work, and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about them, especially because the second Zodiac Starforce series is coming out right now and it is *chef’s hand on mouth, kiss motion* wonderful. It’s a western, magical-girl series; complete with a sexy, otherworldly prince villain, who spends most of his introductory issue posing half-naked. It’s a wonderful flip of the script and Paulina’s art sells the whole thing. She has such strong character designs and a great energy for fight scenes. Check out volume one of Zodiac Starforce if you can (the Towson library has a copy or two). She can be found on twitter at @PlinaGanucheau.

I hope these highlights spark something in you— maybe you’ll find a new series you love or a new artist to follow. Who knows. Maybe next time I’ll have another few recommendations from my SPX haul.And maybe I’ll talk about con grandma, Carla Speed McNeil. If I’m being honest, she could get her own article. Keep reading comics y’all!

ELIAS ROSNER

Book Review: We Are Okay

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“The truth was unconfined, unadorned. There was no poetic language to it, no yellow butterflies, no epic floods… The truth was vast enough to drown in.” ~ We Are Okay, Nina LaCour; Photo Credit: Katie Monthie

One of the biggest struggles of looking for a book with LGBTQ+ representation is finding books that place outside of the romance genre, the topic of coming out, or the subject of transitioning. There are very few books out in the world that showcase the LGBTQ+ community simply existing and dealing with everyday struggles. However, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, does just that as she tells the story of Marin, a grieving freshman college student, who happens to be a lesbian.

After the death of her grandfather, the only remaining member of her family, Marin slips away from the life she knows and into her new life at college, determined to forget her old life and create a new home in her dorm. Until now, she’s kept her distance from her old friends from San Francisco. While she hunkers down in her dorm room for winter break, Marin is visited by her old friend Mabel, which forces both of them to face the mess Marin ran away from.

This novel beautifully explores how grief impacts people and their relationships with one another through two main plot lines: the story of Marin and Mabel, mostly told through the present, stream of consciousness narrative, and the story of Marin and her Grandfather, told through vignettes. All of this is done in a first person perspective, using gorgeous imagery that does not sacrifice clarity of the narrative, save for the details that are hidden through Marin’s own denial.

While there isn’t a lot that actively happens in the novel, the heart of the story lives in the tension between the characters. Marin and Mabel may spend most of the novel eating and sleeping and avoiding real conversation, but Marin’s narration and the anxieties she has as the two of them cook spaghetti or got lost in a snow storm distract from the lack of action. This allows for the themes of the novel (death, grief, and trust) to be fully explored. We Are Okay is a character study, a fictional narrative meant to explore Marin and her grandfather’s traumatic experiences with death in depth.

Despite the fact that We Are Okay strongly focuses on the grieving process, it is not a hopeless or altogether depressing read. This isn’t to say I didn’t cry— I definitely cried at least twice. The hopefulness in We Are Okay comes from Mabel’s presence, calling back to Marin’s recovery. Mabel again and again presses Marin to confront the death and lies of her grandfather with the underlying idea that talking about these issues will allow Marin to move on into another stage of life and cope with a support system. The novel does not push Marin to a place where she is unsafe, but allows her to grow to a place where she finally believes she will be okay some day. We Are Okay does not offer quick fixes, but it does give hope of recovery within a topic that is so often used for simple drama and tragedy.

Part of the reason LaCour succeeds in her discussion of grief is the simple narrative she places it in and the casual nature with which she approaches the subject. She also addresses the characters sexualities in the same way; she never directly labels Marin as gay or Mabel as bisexual, but she makes it clear through their dialogue and the memory their past romantic relationship.

There is a minor conflict that comes with the level of casualness that LaCour uses, particularly in Mabel’s case. Within the bisexual community, many people take issue with the lack of naming bisexual characters as bisexual because in some ways, it’s a form of bi-erasure. On the other hand, LaCour never disqualifies that Mabel has feelings for both gender. Additionally, LaCour is known within the YA community for writing about sapphic women in her works, writing to give the representation that she didn’t see for herself. The casual nature of the representation in both Mabel and Marin’s case at the very least allows for the focus of the narrative to be about grief, allowing We Are Okay to be a story about two sad girls who happen to be gay and bisexual, as opposed to a narrative focused on two girls being sad, gay and bisexual.

We Are Okay graced “top YA releases” lists for 2017 across the internet, praised by those who’ve never read YA and those who only read YA. There are many reasons for this, including the absolutely beautiful prose, the slowburn storytelling that contrasts the surprisingly fast pace, and the subtle representation of sapphic women. However, the main reason is the representation of grief in all of its different forms, even those that are complex and far from cut and dry. If you’re looking for a good representation of sapphic characters, an emotionally engaging story, or an excuse to cry, look no further than We Are Okay.

KATIE MONTHIE

Podcast Review: The United States of Anxiety

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In today’s political climate, there appears to be nothing that people can agree on. Finding common ground can, at times, seems to be next to impossible; it feels like facts that we once took for granted are now up for serious debate. The only thing that we’re able to come to a consensus about is that the times we live in have lately been tumultuous. At moments like these, people tend to turn to the media, not only as a source of comfort or validation for their feelings, but to help them understand how we got to where we are. WNYC’s podcast, The United States of Anxiety, provides a way to understand a world which can appear daunting and scary.

Hosted by Kai Wright, The United States of Anxiety deals with several contemporary issues facing American society (i.e. racism and sexism). The United States of Anxiety is a fairly new podcast, beginning as a reaction to the 2016 election. During season one, the podcast focused on a Long Island suburb as a microcosm for the social issues facing America during the election. Despite looking at the lives of specific individuals and their experiences, The United States of Anxiety seamlessly wove in larger social issues to their storytelling. In an age where we tend to live in bubbles, it is only through hearing our own opinions and viewpoints echoed back to us by our peers that The United States of Anxiety provided a way to connect with alternative points of view and humanized those who hold them.

Season Two of The United States of Anxiety differs from its predecessor. However it proves as equally engaging. In season two, Wright looks at clashes of American culture from a historical perspective with the goal of helping shed some light on how we got to our current political/cultural state. Interrogating issues such as climate change denial, the involvement of religion in politics, and observations of radical (left and right) groups of the political spectrum, Wright provides much needed clarity in a confusing time.

Two of season two’s episodes that stood out to me are the programs that closely examined the radical political beliefs from the far right and left groups. Looking at the growth of the alt right movement by tracking its path from radical internet chat rooms to mainstream American Politics, Wright makes sense of a movement which seemingly came out of nowhere; listeners are able to walk away with the message: once you understand something, you can fight it. In another episode, an interview with a former member of the leftist terrorist group, the Weathermen, showed the slow and steady descent into political radicalization, giving a nuanced looking into political radicalism in America.

“The United States of Anxiety” forces us to ask ourselves, what are we willing to fight for? Photo credit: Google Images

Wright is a fair host who acknowledges that, just like us, he has his own biases and difficulties with the subject matter, but still believes in the importance of engagement. While The United States of Anxiety mainly focuses on the importance of trying to understand those with different beliefs than us and understanding of our current political moment, it also shows those who are fighting for political and cultural change. By profiling current activists fighting for what they believe is right, this podcast doesn’t just highlight issues, it shows current grassroots solutions, forcing us to ask ourselves, what are we willing to fight for?

TERRIN ROSEN

Star Trek’s Return to Television

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In the picture, from left to right: Saru, Michael Burnham, and Phillippa Georgiou (photo credit: Fortune.com)

Warning: Contains Spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery

After a twelve-year television hiatus, Star Trek returned with a bang on September 24th, with new and old characters alike. Set roughly ten years before Star Trek:The Original Series, this fifteen-episode series tells the story of a cold war between the United Federations of Planets and the newly-united Klingon houses. Star Trek:Discovery is on a separate timeline from the J.J Abrams rebooted Star Trek film series with decidedly less lens flares.

Bryan Fuller, one of the show’s creators, continues his tradition of giving female leads typically masculine names. The main character is Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green. In the first two episodes, Burnham, the First Officer of the USS Shenzou, is referred to as “Number One”, honoring the character of the same name portrayed by Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek pilot episode. The overarching premise of Discovery is the  Klingons’ finding of a messianic figure in the form of T’Kuvma. Following an ancient Klingon prophecy, T’Kuvma convinces his followers that the Federation’s goals center around usurping the individuality of Klingons, and that the ultimate goal of the Federation is to extinguish Klingon culture. Though T’Kuvma dies by the end of the second episode, his death (and Burnham’s actions) spark a cold war, indicating the beginnings of Starfleet’s militarization.

Discovery is one of, if not the most, diverse Star Trek casts to date. Many fans were thrilled to discover that Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Phillippa Georgiou, at the helm of the USS Shenzou. Georgiou is the first captain of Asian descent; Yeoh keeps her Malaysian accent for the part. Unfortunately, right as fans (myself included) fell in love with her, she was killed in the same skirmish that killed T’Kuvma. Many were incredibly disheartened at her death, claiming that she deserved better. However, I’m hopeful that Captain Georgiou will return. After all, Yeoh is slotted for the rest of the season. She could make an appearance in a  flashback— this is Star Trek— or return fully alive; the second episode makes it very clear that Georgiou’s body was never recovered. One of this season’s plots could potentially involve Burnham attempting to rescue her Captain  while keeping an all out war at bay.

Another highlight of the first three episodes was the preview of Burnham’s origins. Burnham grew up with three very familiar characters in Star Trek: Sarek, Amanda, and Spock. Sarek made an appearance in the first two episodes, to the excitement of many fans, especially at the end of episode three, it’s revealed that Amanda would read Alice in Wonderland to Spock and Michael. Some fans want to know more about Amanda’s relationship with Michael, and Spock’s relationship with her as well. Personally, I’m hoping to see more familial interaction. Furthermore, I’m interested in seeing the other ways Discovery plans on tying in with The Original Series, not to mention, why in the worlds the Captain of the USS Discovery has a tribble on his desk.

One character that caught my attention is Cadet Sylvia Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman. Tilly is very clearly coded as autistic, and many fans are rejoicing in an onscreen portrayal of autism, outside of the usual emotionless man. Tilly possesses a friendly and open demeanor, despite her inability to read other’s emotions well or take basic social cues.

Undoubtedly, Burnham is the star of the show. Although the first two episodes depict her her as a respected Starfleet officer, she eventually goes against Captain Georgiou’s commands in an attempt to prevent a war with the Klingons, becoming the first mutineer in Starfleet history. She is sentenced to life in imprisonment for her crimes and blamed for the start of the cold war with the Klingons. However, in the third episode, she’s granted a position upon the USS Discovery under a captain who’s made it clear he will do anything to stop the war. There are many different ways the season could go, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to have viewers on the edge of their seats, riveted to the TV (or laptop).

JULIANNA HEAD

The SPX Haul: Part 1

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I am an avid comic reader. I’d like to say I have been my whole life, but as with most things, it’s been more of a cycle. Since graduating high school, I have fallen deep into the hole that is the comics medium – both print and web. Surprising as it may be, I have never been to any comic convention prior to attending SPX (Small Press Expo). Sure, I’ve been to a couple cons here and there but never one specifically for comics. Seeing as I’m living so close to one this year, I decided to head over to Bethesda and check out the indie creators and publishing houses that attended the con, thinking I’d see a couple things I recognized, just pick up one or two zines, and maybe grab one of the Ignatz winner’s comic.

Oh boy, was I wrong. SPX, which only takes up the space of one hotel ballroom, was jam packed with amazing creators and creations, and I wanted to talk about a few of them here! Indie creators live and die by word of mouth, so if I can get even one or two more people to check out their work, I’m happy. This is part one, as I picked up a lot of zines and still have yet to read them all.

“Spectral Zone” by Kay D.
A super cool pilot comic about a town swallowed up by the earth and the veritable Scooby-gang of kids who must survive the Spectrums (ghost-zombie-computer virus things). I love the way Kay uses color in her comics and her characters are always so dynamic and fun. I’d direct you to her store, but it’s currently down, which makes getting a copy of Spectral Zone difficult at the moment. However, her webcomic, Oddity Woods, isn’t bound by physical limitations. If mystery, adventure, and spooky woods are your cup of tea, check it out. And even if it’s not, check it out anyway. You may find something you like (@cygullls).

“Waves” by Rebecca Kirby. Photo Credit: Elias Rosner

“Waves” by Rebecca Kirby  
A trippy zine about a woman imagining the world and the people in it while she waits in line at the grocery store. Kirby’s art isn’t for everyone, but man, is it right in my wheelhouse. She creates fluid, amorphous shapes that are cool to look at, making it feel like the world itself isn’t bound to any solid visuals (@reweki).

“Spinning” by Tillie Walden
The final comic I’m highlighting today is actually a graphic novel, a term which is a bit more complicated than it should be. It has a publisher (First Second comics) and is stunningly gorgeous. Billed as a graphic memoir, it’s all about the author and her love of figure skating. I haven’t finished it yet, but if you can get a copy, read it. If not, then check out her webcomic On a Sunbeam. It’s freaking beautiful, not to mention interesting and heartbreaking. It’s good sci-fi and just plain good storytelling. It’s been completed, so if you’re worried about the webcomic update crawl, problem solved (@tilliewalden).

The world of comics is weird and wonderful and I hope that I can share some more with you in the future. I’ve got lots more crazy stuff to talk about (like Mary Shelley’s Franken Berry). But seriously, check out these people (I included their twitter handles for a reason) and their work. You never know what you’ll find unless you go out looking.

ELIAS ROSNER

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