some of emma’s recent favorite movies

howdy, guys! in this blog, i’ll be talking about some movies i watched recently that i absolutely love. some i watched over the summer and some during the first few weeks of school whenever i’ve had time, and i’ll be sharing a few of the highlights here! it goes without saying that elvis (2022) belongs on this list, but i already did a blog on it, so it’s not here. (and, hey, you know the drill–no spoilers and no particular order.)

terms of endearment (1983)

y’all…i don’t even have words for this movie. it’s one of my mom’s favorites, so we watched it together one night this summer, and i literally could hardly sleep after it because i just could not stop thinking about it. it’s the sweetest, most heartwarming movie ever but it’s also gut-wrenchingly sad. terms is so extremely relatable to me with my relationship with my mom and how i imagine myself as a mother. it paints a gorgeous, truthful picture of the challenging transition from girlhood to womanhood with unflinching empathy and humor. i actually rewatched it with my roommate last night and sobbed uncontrollably in spurts for the rest of the night. if you like steel magnolias, this is the movie for you. shirley maclaine is so wonderful, it’s my favorite jack nicholson role, and don’t even get me started on debra winger. the talent is unbelievable here. please, please give this one a chance. i’m so glad that i did.

 

Terms of Endearment | The Soul of the Plot

 

girl, interrupted (1999)

this is a movie that i’ve always wanted to watch but have been saving for just the right time. ever since i first heard of it, i knew that i would love it because the cast, subject matter, and overall aesthetic just seemed like something crafted just for me. even the soundtrack has some of my favorite songs ever. i was definitely right. i’ve never related more to a movie in my life. to spare you from an extremely long rant about how much i love this movie, i’ll just include a brief review that i recently wrote for it:

“as someone who has suffered from a mental disorder my entire life, and as a young woman, this movie was a huge step forward in my healing process. it held a mirror to my flaws and to my strengths, it made me realize that i am not alone, and it helped me to connect with the other women in my life who love this film for the same reasons. so, yes, i do hate to see this film written off as an exploitative romanticism of the mentally ill because, for me, it’s the best representation of life with my disorder.

i understand and respect why some people feel inaccurately represented or offended by this film; but that simply wasn’t my experience with it. mental illness, especially amongst young women, is grossly misunderstood and often polarizing—girl, interrupted is a prime example of that. it’s far from perfect—it’s melodramatic, grimy, and sometimes over-the-top.

that being said, i do think it’s something everyone should form their own opinion about. i’ve read reviews saying that no one with mental illnesses could ever relate to this or act the way the characters do, which is extremely harmful, because, when i watched this, i related to it so vividly. harsh generalizations like the ones in those reviews are counterproductive and just as invalidating as the film was to the people who wrote them. so, please, take my opinion as well as any others you read with a grain of salt—watch this movie for yourself.”

 

Girl, Interrupted (1999) - IMDb

 

the eyes of tammy faye (2021)

i was super excited when the ads for this movie came out, and i couldn’t wait to see it in theatres, but it sadly never came to any near me, and i didn’t hear much about it, so i assumed it wasn’t very good or something. i was so, so very wrong. as a longtime fan of both andrew garfield and jessica chastain and someone extremely interested in the topic of religious scandal, i enjoyed this movie more than i can say. jessica just totally captures tammy’s beautiful spirit, and the film is a wonderful love letter to the amazing person she was and the…less than amazing person jim is. this movie is campy, glitzy, heartfelt, and brilliant–just like tammy faye was. may her spirit live on forever.

The Movie Waffler

 

dolores claiborne (1995)

this has got to be one of the most tragically underrated stephen king adaptations ever. admittedly, i can understand why, though. this movie does move at a fairly slow pace. even i didn’t watch it all in one sitting. so, why did i love it so much? two words–kathy. bates. she is such a genius. easily one of the best actresses of all time, and horror is a specialty of hers. at first, i was unsure of jennifer jason leigh’s direction with her performance, but the further i got into the film, the more i understood the merit of what she was doing and just how well she was doing it. i think that when we watch something by king, we expect it to be upfront horror, but this is more of a slow-burning psychological terror. in the past, i’ve been a critic about king’s portrayal of women and still am, but in this particular case, i was pleasantly surprised. i found it extremely relatable in many ways, and the dynamics between the female characters are nothing short of brilliant. this is an amazing story of revenge, motherhood, and women sticking together. the ending makes everything make sense, every slow moment necessary and worth the watch. i cannot wait to watch it again, knowing what i know now. it’s super quotable, too. i have notebook pages full of the dialogue from this movie. just so, so good.

Dolores Claiborne (1995) Original One-Sheet Movie Poster - Original Film  Art - Vintage Movie Posters

 

 

well, if you made it this far, thanks for reading! a neat thing about this list is that it also kinda doubles as a good list of movies every feminist should watch. all these stories contain strong, powerful women and their journeys, and i highly recommend them for both educational and inspirational enjoyment! see y’all next time!

as a treat for making it through that blog, here’s a picture that represents my mental state at the time of writing it:

Arrested Development Season 5 Episode 2 Review: Self-Deportation | Den of  Geek

 

“Flowering” by TK from 凛として時雨: A Story About Grief and Mourning

Flowering is one of my favorite albums of all time. Toru Kitajima, from J-Rock band 凛として時雨 (Rin Toshite Sigure), is, in my opinion, one of the greatest Japanese lyricists and musicians of the modern era. Best known for “Unravel” the first opening theme for the Tokyo Ghoul anime, he writes songs about the human condition, and what makes someone human.

The first song in Flowering is “Flower” (linked below)

 “Flower” portrays the initial loss. It is a very reminiscent song, with lyrics such as (loosely translated, not perfect) “My past brightened when I met you” and “I live in a colorful dream-world I don’t want to end”. This song also, as shown in the second line quoted, deals with the denial stage of grief. Overall, this is my second-favorite song in the entire album. 

Next, we have “Abnormal Trick”.

“Abnormal Trick” delves deeper into denial. The mourner does not want to accept the truth. This is shown with lyrics such as “Still hiding? What looked like secrets (don’t change) have pierced me” and “You can’t wake me up, me up/although someday I won’t be blamed for my sins,/Will I exist within?” . It, however, begins to fade into a form of acceptance with the line “Like a fool, I can’t change/Are the wonders destroyed by the unchangeable me still here? I want to see/I can’t wake me up, me up, me up” as the mourner begins to wish for freedom from their self-imposed catatonic state.

After this, comes the song “Haze” (linked below is the Egomaniac Feedback version, though it’s the same song.) 

This song is about the hatred towards the world can feel when grieving. It showcases a sense of apathy. This can be found as early as the first stanza:

Somebody’s tears that fell from the sky
I don’t have any kindness to give to anyone
If you were to be consumed by darkness
Will a millimeter of me even glow?
Smile
 

This stanza seems to portray a sense of both derealization and apathy. It is likely that the tears referenced are the singers own, and the line “I don’t have any kindness to give anyone” speaks for itself in terms of portraying apathy. It also delves into how people who are grieving feel like they’re losing everything around them. This is shown in the third stanza:

Becoming lost while reminiscing
Losing everything that I touch
Everything is becoming shrouded by fog; I won’t hide anymore

However, the song shines a bit of hope with the fifth stanza, as TK sings:

There is no way I can change the world
But I can cut through the darkness

 

This portrays a sense of willpower. Even though one cannot regain what is lost, you can move forward with your life and be happy again.

After this comes the song “Phase to Phrase”:

This song portrays a sense of fault within the singer, and the idea that they are the reason everything is out of control. This is emphasized with the lyrics of the song:

A rotating phrase, I counted the motion1
It’s close enough to start pretending
There’s no turning back from lies
I become the disorder that draws close
Nobody wants themselves to be seen
Nobody wants themselves to be known
There’s no pain, nor sadness, and yet, and yet
What they don’t want others to know are frozen inside
What they don’t want others to know are killed inside
But then it all may disappear
Everybody could become, everybody could become, and yet, and yet
I become disorder

 

The singer says that everybody could become anything, and, despite his efforts, he becomes a chaos he cannot control. I believe that this is the peak of the self-loathing that can occur with grief. This song represents the upmost limit of his hatred for himself.

Next comes one of my favorite songs, “White Silence”:

This is the softest lyrical song in the album. It features Shione Yukawa for a portion of the song. This song is from a different perspective than the rest of the album, and is from the POV of the deceased. The song urges the mourner to move on. Showcased in the lyrics:

Remember them, the words you’ve forgotten
Don’t look for me, because I’m no longer here
I’ve been swept away
 

This is a stark contrast from the rest of the album, as oftentimes the singer refers to “you” in reference to being lost, instead of “I”. This song represents a transition into the next stage of the song, and the mourners life.

After this is “12th Laser”:

This song seems to be looking back on the previous songs. Once again in the perspective of the mourner, the song portrays the helplessness they felt when the person they are mourning first died. This is the first case of healing being shown.

Example lyrics for this are:

My heart couldn’t understand, a picture drawn by my left hand
The unconveyable color of sadness
A laser of memories beyond is shining through
I could not escape

The first stanza (shown above) portrays the idea that they were trapped, and “could not escape”. The thing keeping them trapped was their inability to allow themselves to heal and move on.

“Film a Moment” the fifth song in the album, is another song that focuses on looking back.

It both looks back on the time when the deceased was still alive, and once again at the period of time that the mourner was at their worst. It discusses the way that time had felt like it stopped. The song also portrays the struggle between wanting to remember the precious moments forever and wanting to forget them completely. This is shown in the lyrics:

The you that I long for isn’t there
Perhaps there are no such miracles
film A moment, Fill the moment, Kill the moment
 
The world I hold in my hands is expressionless and silent
I want to see what lies beyond. Could I kill the future?
 
A finger, a dimly lit ghost of what’s left of you, turning red
If only I could steal the future you have filmed
Gently the secret signal floats away. You are laughing
 
Without emotion, blatant fiction
If only the future could be stolen
 
Memories are shining through, we met in a dream
Shining through, we met in a dream
And so, I wrote my name
 
I have become like time, will someone restore me?
Is that what I want?

 

The song feels almost like a blur, both musically and lyrically. The singer portrays a desperateness to become “whole” again; a desire to finally move on from their grief. However, they struggle to balance the happy memories and their future. This is what causes that “time freeze”.

The 8th song, “Daylily”, has no lyrics.

The daylily flower is a flower of many meanings, but the one most thematically correct would most likely be “forgetfulness and loss of memory”. It is a decision to forget everything and move on that way. A “bad” ending, though it’s not entirely over yet. It’s merely a step in the process.

After this comes the song “Fourth”.

This song is filled with a sense of yearning. The singer shows their desire to talk to the person they lost again, to experience the good times. The lyrics show this:

The sound of your footsteps echoed inside of me
What I found was something you hid at night – a secret song
 
Wishes made again and again in the night, can you see them?
Inside the night, you wouldn’t stop…letting go
 
The sound of the night’s wind…was so faint
Still unknown, the immeasurable light
Find it
The light in those hands
 
Listen to the sound that could be seen in those eyes
Tell me what could be seen in those eyes
 
These tears may go away if we can meet in the sorrowful night
The light that you carry All of it, all of it, all of it, all of it
Gather it…in those hands
Thereby the stars, are you smiling?

 

It is not desperate or rushed. It is filled with a sense of acceptance and finality. The singer understands that they cannot regain what is lost, but they have finally accepted it. They’ve realized that moving on is not forgetting, but living on in their name. It is bittersweet, filled with a sense of joy, yet also an understanding that it’s all over.

Finally, “Sound_am326 (Secret Track)”.

Once again a song with no lyrics, it is instead filled with acoustic guitar and piano. Reminiscent of all of the previous songs, namely “White Silence”, it represents a finality. It was made to be the closing track for the album, and fills that role excellently. It portrays all of the difficult feelings of mourning and moving on without a single word being sung. 

This is, as I’ve stated before, one of my favorite albums of all time. Toru Kitajima did a phenomenal job with the composition and portrays the story of a person in mourning wonderfully. The title is very fitting, as the album tells a sort of “coming of age” story about accepting ones emotions and learning to feel again after a severe loss.

Thank you all for reading! Next time, I’ll be covering the album White Noise, and the story it tells.

All translations initially found on Lyrics Translations (lyricstranslate.com) 

A Literary Student Analyzes Slipknot Pt. 2

Hello everyone and welcome back to this month’s blog! If you remember last month’s blog, THAT’S GREAT because we’re diving right back in with the next song in the chronological story of the songs Killpop, Vermillion, Vermillion Pt. 2, and Snuff. Last month we went over Killpop and Vermillion… so you know what time it is now.

Vermillion Pt. 2: Track 11 from “The Subliminal Verses”

This song is a DEFINITE continuation of the story from Vermillion where (refresher) the man in the story sees visions of his ex-girlfriend who he killed and is currently still obsessed with. That song was angry and aggressive, but this one is a softer and slower song that really emphasizes his grief and sadness. He sings this song in a tone of somber acceptance. It really gives off the guilty and depressive feelings that the man is feeling. This song has a few lines that I want to go through so this blog might be a little longer than last time. 

“She seems dressed in all of meStretched across my shameAll the torment and the painLeaked through and covered meI’d do anything to have her to myselfJust to have her for myself”

This stanza further reiterates how he has visions and hallucinations of her. She is dressed in all of him. She is everywhere he goes. He is singing about how these feelings are overwhelming him to the point where he can hardly take it anymore. He would do anything to have her back with him.

“I catch in my throatChokeTorn into piecesI won’t, noI don’t want to be this”

He is talking about the guilt eating him alive from the inside out. He doesn’t want to be a murderer. He doesn’t want to be the person that killed the woman he loved, yet he has to give in and accept the punishment for what he had done. Though, that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to become better. 

Snuff: Track 11 from “All Hope is Gone”

This song is also a very somber and depressing song. This song takes place long after the girl’s death and is on a whole different album. Like I said earlier, he has been trying to become better not only for himself but for the spirit of his past love. Though, in this song, he has fallen in love with a new woman. He loves her all the same, but his past actions are constantly in the back of his mind. 

“Come away with innocence and leave me with my sinsThe air around me still feels like a cageAnd love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again”

This is the man’s warning to the woman because he feels as if he is descending further into insanity again. He sees her as naïve and innocent since she has no knowledge of what he has done. The last line is like a reflection of past actions. He thought he killed his first girlfriend out of love, but it was actually rage and possession that pushed him to go to such lengths to keep her with him.

“Deliver me into my fateIf I’m alone I cannot hateI don’t deserve to have youOoh, my smile was taken long agoIf I can change I hope I never know”

This line also takes place a bit further in the future relationship between those two people. He has let himself become vulnerable with her and now is telling her about what he has done. He asks her to punish him or leave him. He doesn’t believe he deserves her and that since he has tried to change and failed, he asks to never know if he can truly change. He thinks it’s better not to know.

“So break yourself against my stonesAnd spit your pity in my soulYou never needed any helpYou sold me out to save yourself
And I won’t listen to your shame”

These lines are sung with a lot of painful and sad-rage undertones if you know what I mean. So, his new girlfriend is taking pity on him, and he thinks he doesn’t deserve it. He gets angry with her for telling him it wasn’t his fault, as if she was as delusional as he was. Though, she was only pretending because she was afraid of him. After the fight and they had both calmed down she called the police on him. You sold me out to save yourself is the embodiment of her calling the police for her own safety. He will no longer listen to the shame she feels for doing so because on the inside he wanted to be punished.

“Ooh, my love was punished long agoIf you still care don’t ever let me know”

This is the last line of the entire song and the ending of the story. It’s the last thing that the man wishes for the woman who had turned him in. He doesn’t want her to suffer, he just wants to be left alone in his punishment. He believes that he deserves this fate.

Thank you all for reading this month! Keep an eye out for next month’s blog where I’ll be analyzing a Ghost song instead. See you!

 

Mood Swings Into Order (MITO)- DPR IAN

This long-anticipated album has been on repeat for about three weeks now.  It has so many elements within the album that blends so well together while also giving an insight into this artist as well as this artist’s struggles. It is such a wonderful complimentary album to MITO (Mood Swings In This Order) which was released a year before on March 12, 2021. It explores Ian’s journey of living with bipolar disorder and how he uses music to tell the story of how it has affected him. From beautiful ballads to upbeat bedroom pop, this album has really captured the essence of connection through music.

The previous album MITO 1, was mainly about MIITO a character curated from Ian’s own personal chaos. It builds an alternate universe that has somewhat the same characteristics as the biblical story between God and Satan. I really like how he tied it to his own experiences and gave us such rich, beautiful, and dark songs. Although you don’t have to listen to or watch the videos from MITO 1 to understand MITO 2, I highly recommend that you do simply because of how other-worldly the cinematography and music are. While MITO 1 talks about the relationship between MIITO and his creator, MITO 2 gives us the origins of MIITO and why he is the way that he is while also tying it to Ian’s disorder. Without further ado here is MITO.

Seraph

As I’ve said before this album has strong but subtle biblical tones and the first song really displays that. The song opens with an orchestra, something that helps to highlight the tone, and honestly, I was not expecting it. I’ve known Ian to sort of have these instrumentals in his song before, but it feels different. Both dark and heavenly like how people view the Seraph. A Seraph is an angelic being, regarded in traditional Christian angelology as belonging to the highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy, associated with light, ardor, and purity. It is a being that can be perceived as narcissistic, impure, or judgmental. Or at least that is what I got from the rest of the album. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This song describes MIITO’s fall from grace as something that is solemn and heart-wrenching. To compare it to the story of Lucifer, MIITO describes the fall as if he does not want to leave “heaven”, whereas on most accounts Lucifer does. Also, he says maybe three times “I feel myself changing” and I believe that he is being stripped of his celestial invulnerability and becoming human and subjected to the behaviors of man, bipolar disorder. I thought it was very interesting to see the parallel between the two.

Avalon

I’m going to skip ahead to (what I believe) is one of the best songs on the album. It has more of a modern techno feel to it. There is a balanced amount of auto-tune and electrical SFX that heavily accent this feeling. I especially like the reference to King Arthur with the title and the parallels of this sort of technology utopia the song gives. For context, Avalon is a paradise to which Arthur is carried after his death. I think this song is about distraction and wanting some sort of relief.  Because of the repetition of dance floor and parties I get the feeling of losing yourself and forgetting your issues with these big distractions as it gives the illusion of Avalon. Take me to your Avalon is said five times in the song and not to mention the amount that was stated in the adlibs. It is sort of a mantra meant to put you in a trance to make you believe that at this moment you’re happy. So really MIITO just wants relief from not only his disorder but the mix of emotions that he now has to face after leaving his creator, and in his way of coping, the only way to do that is to basically hypnotize himself. 

Sometimes I’m

So this is the last song on the album which is the best song, there is no debate. I think in this song there is a mixture of DPR IAN and MIITO as this had a more direct approach to bipolar disorder. Throughout the album, we see these metaphors and story-telling of what it’s like or how to deal with the disorder, but the outro song flat out tells you what it’s truly like. It seems all over the place with the switching of pitches and the placement of adlibs, but it still seems cohesive. I think what really brought out the theme of chaos was the switching of adlibs in your earphones. One part is completely in the left ear, then the next one is in your right ear. I especially like when artist incorporates these things in their work because it shows you how much detail and work was put into this. It feels like mania it feels like chaos, it feels tiring, draining, beautiful, and bright. I really love to see the different layers in the album all compiled into one song. Definitely an album of the year for me.

New Year New Blog

“The rise and fall of Ancient Greece revealed.” 

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, and Authoritative Account of Greek Military and Political Power, Architecture, Sculpture, Art, Drama, and Philosophy. That is the full title of the book, written by Nigel Rodgers, that I will be reviewing. This book has over 500 pages and considering that the word count for these blogs is 500-900 words, that means this is going to take a while. For simplicities sake, I’ll just be calling the book IEAG, standing for Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. 

IEAG is what inspired me to begin writing mythological and ancient historical stories, primarily starring in Ancient Greece. The book’s first line says, “Our world began with Greece – the world, that is, of Western civilization.” That’s definitely one way to start a book! The first pages tell you where anything time-wise can be found, and a word glossary at the back of the book for more hyper-specific needs. For instance, if I wanted to know more about festivals, the book directs me toward pages 400-1. The chapter is titled Festivals, Sacrifices, Priesthood and Oracles. Fun title! IEAG contains many pictures, accurate or illustrated, to help the reader understand and realize how vibrant Greek life indeed was. Many depictions either come from recovered vases or statues found worldwide. If you wanted to know more about the Oracle of Delphi, the most well-known oracle of the Greek world, you could easily find it on page 400. When did she come to prominence? Funny you ask, it was “in the 8th century BC.” While it may not be specific, at least now you know you’re being scientifically accurate, and you can look up Greek life during the 8th century as opposed to Greek life during 478 BC. 

When writing, whether it’s a piece of historical fiction or non-fiction, making it as accurate as possible will almost always entrance your reader. If you can bring someone into an entirely different world and keep them there without continuing about Ancient Greece’s economy relying mostly on good farming soil, you have struck gold.  

IEAG even provides its reader with a basic timeline at the beginning of the book to help those new with researching or those who are unfamiliar with Greece as a whole. Greece was not always carved from white marble, “Far from being cold and passionless, the Greeks burned and quivered with passion and desires- personal, political and intellectual- that often led to disaster, not perfection.” If you were to write about Greece in 347 BC, you would want to put in that Plato died that year! History nerds and even those who don’t study up will be intrigued and want to know more about Plato’s death or Plato in general. Boom! You just tricked someone into studying and researching a benign topic. In 146 BC, “the Romans sacked the city of Corinth, making Achaea and Macedonia Roman provinces,” Write about the Romans overtaking the city of Corinth or how the Greek politicians reacted when hearing the news. You can do your best to base it on facts, but always have fun with your writing while trying to stay accurate. 

IEAG even tells you about the Minoan society in Crete. The Minoans were the first civilization, then after their fall, the first draft of Ancient Greeks, the Mycenaean Society, came to be. 

Please let me know what points of Greek history you would like to hear about or even words/phrases/items you would like me to expand upon.

“The Gift” by Mary Oliver

The Gift by Mary Oliver | Mary oliver quotes, Mary oliver, Mary oliver poems

About a year and a half ago, I was gifted with a basket filled with all the things I would need for art school by an alumn (and dear friend). In that  basket there were coasters, cups, a towel, and many other dorm living neccessities. Although I loved every single thing in that basket, one thing in particular caught my eye… Mary Oliver’s collected works “Devotions”. 

I immediately began to read the book when I got it, and quickly fell in love with the style that Mary Oliver wrote in. I admired the way that Oliver wrote about the world, and I wanted my writing voice to be similar to hers. There was one poem in particular that I had a deep emotional connection with. That poem was “The Gift”. 

In this poem, Oliver conveyed the beautiful complexity of the human experience, and what happens to the soul towards the end of our allotted times in this tangible realm. Reading that for the first time was absolutely mind boggling as a teenager whose thoughts rarely ever went to the depths that someone like Mary Oliver’s did. 

One thing about Oliver’s writing that I always will admire is her ability to draw connections between her own writing and religious references. Many of Oliver’s poems use phrases from religious text and speaking, but it’s never over bearing. 

In “The Gift” Oliver uses phrases such as “Earth and heaven are both still watching”.  This sentence gives the readers such a clear image of what she was trying to portray. I, as a reader imagined the subject of the poem on a big stage under bright lights, almost like a big finale show. 

My favorite part of this poem is the direction that the second stanza goes into. In the second part of the poem, Mary Oliver speaks about not letting your love and gratitude fade as years go on. I think that this is such a testament to what Oliver represents in many of her written works. She is all about finding the love within the life you lead and keeping it strong even as years go by.  

I think that is why I became so attached to her works in the first place. Many of her works represent my biggest goals in life, especially this piece. As a human, one of the things I want to accomplish in life is keeping the same passion throughout my years. Mary Oliver explains this so beautifully in her poetry. I hope to one day be able to express similar things as wonderfully as she does. 

 

“Gambling Addiction” by Leanna Firestone: A Lovesick Literary Analysis :)

So, if you’re aware of my existence as a literary artist at all, you’re aware of the love story genre and my dedication to it. From, quite literally, the first piece my fellow literaries heard from me to the very last piece we workshopped together our junior year, as well as the first one we shared senior year, I’ve been writing and presenting romance. The genre has been running through my very veins since I developed my appreciation for literature. From the two year period in my life where I could not be found on the material plane without a Twilight book on my person, to the extended and still active period where my reading life is consumed by mlm romances, I’ve been reading love stories since I discovered I could read things without a teacher telling me to. 

Naturally, romance can be found in other aspects of my life. Movies and T.V. shows are an obvious answer, but the topic of love has also made its way into my music taste, particularly heavily, at that. As of late, I’ve been fixated on the musical musings of a gal by the name of Leanna Firestone. You may have heard of her, you may not; it doesn’t matter. By the end of this blog, you’ll know her pretty well. 🙂 

Leanna is known for love oriented songs, self or romantic, and you may have heard some of her more popular pieces (we’ll get to those later, don’t worry). One you may not have heard, however, is my personal favorite “Gambling Addiction”. 

For word count’s sake, I’ll only analyze some of my favorite lines. Starting off with one of the opening lines: 

“I’ve got a gambling addiction

But I don’t raise, I don’t call I go all in, all of the time

On people who don’t feel the same” 

Frankly, I think these words are metaphorical genius. Not only do they perfectly encompass the feeling of putting your faith in someone you shouldn’t, they showcase the sensation that follows falling for someone who isn’t there to catch you. The familiar sting of impacting a bottom you were never meant to see after leaping into a situation that was definitely not a safe jump is a common theme in Leanna’s music, and for good reason. She captures it like no one else; case in point, these lines. 

Next: 

“So, I keep losing to the house

I’ll never learn my lesson

Losing to the house, because it’s just a guessing game

I haven’t figured out how to play in moderation.”

These lines move on to focus particularly on the “All in all of the time” aspect of the previous lines. “losing to the house” refers to failed attempts at love and relationships. Leanna clearly states that love is a guessing game, and that she can’t figure out how to “play in moderation”. The sentiment of only being able to go all in with someone is a familiar sensation to anyone who grew up in an environment where love was absent or even unhealthy. Such an upbringing affects someone, usually manifesting in relationships. Inability to love in moderation is the unfortunate reality for many people, many of whom are Leanna fans. 

Finally: 

“But with all of my loses someday

I’m probably gonna win, right?”

It’s important to note that most of Leanna’s songs (the ones I like, anyway) end on an optimistic note, or at least have a sweetness to balance the bitter. “Gambling addiction” Is no exception. The song is ultimately about unpacking the inability to love in moderation, and acknowledging that all of the “losses” are cause to believe in victory. What was the popular phrase? If at first you don’t succeed…? Sounds about right. 

And that does it for the review on “Gambling Addiction” by Leanna Firestone! I am so happy to start sharing these songs, as well as my thoughts on them. I’ve been an avid Leanna fan for a long time, and I hope that these blogs will convince you to be, too! Until next time! 

Sincerely, a fellow “gambling” addict. 

-Elliot <3

 

Tokyo Ghoul (東京 喰種) And What It Means To Be Human Part 1

TW// Mentions of Violence, Cannibalism, Self-harm, and Death (among other things)
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE TOKYO GHOUL MANGA, I SUGGEST YOU DO SO BEFORE FURTHER READING! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Tokyo Ghoul (東京 喰種) is a manga written and illustrated by Sui Ishida and published by Shueisha’s seinen manga magazine Weekly Young Jump between September 2011 and September 2014. It told the story of an 18 year old university student named Ken Kaneki and the struggles he faced when he became a ghoul (a human-like creature that only gains nutrients from eating humans) after a terrible accident during his date with a girl named Rize (Ree-zey) Kamishiro, who was a ghoul herself. He was transformed into a ghoul when his organs were replaced with some of Rize’s during a surgery by Akihiro Kanou. Kaneki monologues that “I’m not the protagonist of a novel or anything. I’m just a college student who likes to read, like you could find anywhere. But… if, for argument’s sake, you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be… a tragedy” (Tokyo Ghoul Ch. 1 Vol. 1).

Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1 Ch 1 Final Page

Tokyo ghoul discusses what it means to be human through Kaneki’s psyche, which alters constantly throughout the series. One major moment in the first volume, specifically in chapter 3, depicts Kaneki walking outside in the city. He notices all of the people around him, and starving, slowly goes from thinking of them as “man”, “woman”, or “child” to simply “meat”. To prevent these thoughts, he bites his own finger, and rushes off to a nearby restroom. In this restroom, he sees his singular red eye for the first time, and in a mixture of fear and rage, punches the mirror. He gets a cut on the back of his hand, but it heals almost immediately. He heads home, and lays in bed thinking about his favorite novel “The Black Goat’s Egg”.  He comes to the conclusion that he is like a “ghoul’s egg” and, to try to prove to himself that he really is a ghoul, takes out a large knife and attempts to stab his stomach. This fails, and the knife instead breaks apart, leaving Kaneki crying on the floor as he ponders what he should do about this situation.

This is the beginning of Kaneki’s struggle with his identity, and the question of what makes one human. He had previously run into Touka Kirishima, a girl, who happened to be a ghoul, that worked at the café he frequented: Anteiku. He goes to the café, hoping that she would provide help for him. He begs Touka for help, but she responds with a firm “No”. She then goes on to ask what being human is like, expressing a jealousy for the way they can live so peacefully in comparison to ghouls. Kaneki is at a loss for words and does not respond to the barrage of questions. 

Tokyo Ghoul has established it’s theme of “what it means to be human”, the baseline that will be explored throughout the series. I am excited to delve deeper into this theme, and the overall story. It’s one of my personal favorite written works. This serves as a baseline introduction to the series and it’s themes, we’ll be focusing a bit more on the theme next time. 

That’s all for now. I can’t wait to write the next part of this series! 

Midnight Mass: Motherhood and Monologue

Midnight Mass is a Netflix original miniseries about the going ons of the small island town of  Crockett Island that slowly changes under supernatural effects. The show itself is a horror piece, using religious imagery of the catholic variety and eventually vampiric lore to arouse unease within the audience. While I find it to be expertly crafted, I want to pay heed as well to the development of the theme of selfishness within the text of the show. I analyzed the use of religion for selfish or personal means and the consequence of doing so as a major theme within the miniseries. In this blog, I intend to describe just how these themes are expressed, focusing on characters used as vehicles for them.

CW: child abuse, religious abuse, islamophobia, murder, self harm, and suicide

Bev Keane(played by Samantha Sloyan) is a parishioner of St. Patrick’s church who is held in high esteem by some characters in the shows large cast, while reviled by many others. Keane is presented as an astutely religious woman from the very beginning, quoting bible verses and correcting the new priest, father Paul Hill(Hamish Linklater), on wearing the incorrect color robes. Sloyan’s character is written to feel overbearing, judgmental, and deeply unlikeable. She complements Erin Greene’s(Kate Siegal) abusive mother in a way to put Erin down, and makes comments on the Muslim faith of the town sheriff(Rahul Kholi), contributing the audience’s dislike of the character. But while she may have expressed her religion despicably, this does not alone show a selfish viewpoint, more simply an elitist one. The perception of the Bev Keane as a simple elitist slips, however, as we learn of her role in the recent events of the town. See, when Crockett island fell victim to an oil spill a year before the start of the series, Keane encouraged the residents to simply take a small settlement from the company responsible. Calling the settlement money a ‘gift from god’, she leveraged many to donate some of it back to the church, which some characters suspect to essentially have gone into her pockets, as the priest at the time had gone senile. Using the money from the donations, the church would erect a rec center, but it is implied the donation money would have covered much more than just the costs of the center. Keane seems to utilize religion as a mask to deflect criticism, and as a means to maintain influence and acquire wealth, making her an insidiously selfish character. When the supernatural events rise within the town, however, her true nature is fully revealed.

Reverend Paul Hill, the new Priest of St. Patrick’s, is similarly influenced by a form of selfishness, causing him to ultimately share the blame of the fate of Crockett island. Hill comes to the church intended as a temporary replacement to their aging original Priest, Monsignor Pruitt, who he tells them to be recovering from a sickness on the mainland. In truth, the young Hill is the same person as the elderly Pruitt, revitalized and given youth from drinking blood given to him by a winged vampiric creature(Quinton Boisclair) he encountered on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Hill has brought the creature with him to the island, and has been mixing it’s blood with the eucharist of the church, resulting in the healing of many of the town’s ailments. When a girl previously confined to a wheelchair miraculously stands during mass, a religious revitalization spreads across town. While in his sermons, he speaks of the resurrection of the church, we find in the final episode what he is truly motivated by. After it is revealed that drinking enough of the blood and dying will result in immortality, a thirst for blood, and an intolerance to sunlight, Hill and Keane reveal to the entire church what they have been doing, offering the church members to die and become creatures of the night. It takes a moment for most of the members to accept, all(except for several main characters) do, and they go out and feed on the town. Linklater’s character, who is recovering from a wound suffered earlier, sits with the newly regenerated Mildred Gunning(played by Alex Essoe). Mildred had formerly suffered with severe dementia in her old age, being taken care of by her daughter(Annabeth Gish), but is now young and fully cognizant as a result of having drank the blood of the creature. They lament the happenings, revealing that they were former lovers, and the Hill was the father of Gunning’s daughter. He reveals to her that all of this, despite his feverous sermons, was so he’d never have to see her or their daughter grow old, so he could save them from that. In the end, he was acting selfishly.

The disastrous actions of Hill and Keane fed on, or turned, with the exception of a few main characters. Bev decides to take the role of a leader of them all, seizing her opportunity for power, and leads her flock to burn all the trees and buildings of the island, leaving only the church and rec center to provide cover at sunrise for those she decides to let in. Erin, the sheriff, -people who throughout the show were wronged by Keane- and Hill’s very own daughter, work together to destroy the church and it’s rec center, leaving no cover for those turned by the blood. When the sun finally upon the island, none survive. Hill’s selfish actions exploiting faith lead to the even more selfish Keane to exploit it, resulting in the death of hundreds.

The Warriors

The Warriors is a novel written by Sol Yurick in 1965, that was later adapted into the 1979 film with the same title.  The Warriors is one of my favorite movies ever so once I found out that it was a novel as well I had to read it, because if the movie is great then the book has to be 10x better. The setting takes place in New York, and is centered around a gang that goes by the name The Warriors. We follow them as they make their way through New York to meet at some kind of assembly held by the leader of the strongest gang in New York whose name is Cyrus. The purpose of this meeting is to get all the gangs to work as one to take over the city and overthrow the police, and everything goes as planned until it takes a drastic turn. The leader of the top gang is shot and killed, and the police also appear so this sends everybody into a panic. The leader was shot by the leader of another gang whose name is Luther. Luther then decides to throw the blame onto the warriors and everybody believes him. So now here the warriors are far away from their base, and they have to make it back home all while avoiding not only police, but other rival gangs along the way.

The go through an array of obstacles the end up picking off certain members of their gang, leaving them with a smaller group than how they started. They make their way through several areas that belong to rival gangs who are trying to kill them because they think that they shot Cyrus. Their own leader ends up being killed by Cyrus’s gang, so a member that goes by the name Swan takes over. Along the way Swan meets a girl who lived with another gang. Her name is Mercy, and they form a bond that is toxic, but still romantic. Mercy ends up leaving with the warriors after she instigated a fight between them and her previous gang. Through out the night they have to survive many fights and battles with gang members and the police as well. We truly see the dynamic of the group and what roles they each play as the story progresses. Eventually they do make it make to Coney Island, where Luther and his gang is there waiting to kill them, but it does not go according to his plan. Cyrus’s gang received information on who actually killed him, and pays their respects to the warriors and end up killing Cyrus. From there the warriors are free from running and have nothing to worry about. They lost three members in total and ended up gaining one more.

I’m not able to do full justice by just describing how this story went, but it is truly one of the best things that I have both read and watched. It was incredibly enjoyable and I loved how well the novel was paced. There was a single moment where I felt it was rushed or drug out too long.  It’s an amazing film and an occult classic, so I encourage everyone to at least watch the movie if reading is not your favorite thing!