Evolving Emotions: Forevermore

I feel your presence beside me

On the frigid, unforgiving Earth

On the lonely wooden park bench

On the gentle bed we shared

 

I hear your voice 

In the corridor you passed

In the kitchen you cherished

In the doorway to our home

 

I smell you in all that is beautiful

A hint of lavender in someone’s hair

A box of oranges sold at the market

A loaf of bread I find at the bakery

 

I surmise that I’ve see you

Maybe?

Maybe not. 

Perhaps it is madness

 

It’s hard to discern

The wishes and whims

The truth and sacred lies

 

Perhaps, I witness what I was too blind to see yesterday

No matter

 

Alas,

We are apart

But soon

We will feel each other’s warmth

In a plane unlike this one

 

My joy

My love

My apparition forevermore 

 

Art Biz with Liz: An Artsy Halloween in Ann Arbor

One of the best things about campus life at the University of Michigan – and living in Ann Arbor in general – is that there is always something going on. On any given weekend, you can see a musical theatre performance by SMTD students or a concert by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Halloween weekend is no exception, and if you’re looking for something to do other than attending parties or watching the long-awaited U-M versus MSU football game, there are plenty of arts events to consider.

Whether you visited the haunted bell tower at Lurie Bell Tower or watched one of the horror films offered through Halaloween: An Online Muslim Horror Film Festival, I hope you had a great start to the Halloweekend festivities. Last night, ComCo presented “Wait, That Zombie Is Sexy.” ComCo, or The Comedy Company, is the oldest improv comedy troupe at the University of Michigan, and the event was an affordable, entertaining event for students to attend at $2 a ticket in Angell Hall. For anyone else, the Hill Auditorium hosted the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, which offered a night of magic playing music from Harry Potter. There have been virtual events, too, like today’s virtual Saturday sampler tour at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. The event, “Spooky, Weird, and Magical: Halloween with the Kelsey,” offered audiences to engage with the museum virtually and experience Halloween with headless sculptures, mummies, more.

While Friday has come and gone, tonight you have another chance to see Ripper by Penny Seats Theatre at the Stone Chalet. The performance is conveniently one of the arts events featured on the most recent Passport to the Arts! Of course, there is also plenty of stuff going on this Sunday, Halloween itself. On October 31st at 3:15 pm, the carillon guild will play a variety of pieces for the public at the Burton Memorial Tower. Shortly after that at 4:00 pm, the SMTD University Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras will present their annual Halloween concert. The Halloween tunes will be made more entertaining by the costumed musicians, and audience members are invited to dress up as well.

For students, also be sure to check out what’s going on in your residential halls and student organizations. Many dormitories are offering activities like open mic nights and Halloween arts and crafts! Whatever you decide to do, have a safe and fun Halloween!

Note: Apologies for the delay in this post; I forget to publish it last night, so everything has been updated to what has already passed and what is yet to happen.

Hidden Gems: The Twilight Zone

Unfortunately it’s already the last week of October, which means that this is the last post of the horror-themed Hidden Gems series. I can’t believe how fast it flew by, especially being busy with midterms and existential dread about the state of the world. I’ve really enjoyed sharing some of my favorite works of horror art, I just can’t believe how much I didn’t get to cover; there’s pretty much an endless amount of art that I could talk about when it comes to horror. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see a spooky post now and again, especially if the inspiration strikes or I watch a particularly good movie. For my last post of spooky season, I found it fitting to talk about a work of art that is extremely close to my heart, a show that inspired my lifelong interest in the supernatural, science fiction, and horror: The Twilight Zone.

Depending on your generation, you might already be extremely familiar with the show; it was groundbreaking when it aired it 1959, and has inspired countless knock-offs and remakes due to its incredible popularity. However, I’ve noticed that has been brushed under the rug recently; I find less and less people who have ever seen it, let alone enjoy it. Unfortunately, the show’s age has been a large deterrent to modern viewers. It is filmed in black and white, as expected for the time, and not all of the acting has aged well. Although it is certainly an old show, I would argue that it has an unmatched amount of charm, and that the intellectual ideas presented in each episode are incredibly fascinating and still relevant today.

The original Twilight Zone of 1959 lasted for 5 seasons and spanned over 150 episodes, making it an incredible catalog of science fiction. Each episode is a self-contained short story and usually features some sort of social commentary or moral. The range of the show is incredibly broad: examples of topics include aliens, time travel, beauty, living inanimate objects, and other unexplainable phenomena. The one thing shared between all episodes is the haunting and iconic introduction by Rod Serling, the show’s creator. Each introduction is unique, but they all convey the same thing: anything can happen in the Twilight Zone, a place where not everything is as it seems, but a place where any of us could end up without knowing. It’s an incredibly powerful introduction, and one of my favorite examples of how art and media can create such strong emotions in the viewer, which in this case happen to be fear and uncertainty. The black and white filming of the show is also extremely conducive to the aesthetic being portrayed in each episode. One might expect it to be a barrier from realism, but I find it to be incredibly immersive, since so much attention is drawn to the characters and the story, not so much the visuals and special effects. More often than not, the immersion is actually broken when they attempt to use ambitious special effects; on the flip side, they use clever practical effects to achieve surprisingly convincing results. Episodes like Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? are a perfect example of this duality: some unfortunate prosthetics are especially jarring, while some of the practical effects are clever and so well done that it almost beats anything that could be accomplished today. In general, all of these aspects of the show make it extremely charming and memorable. Even if not every episode is perfect, they all come from a place of creativity and attention to detail is evident in every one.

With that being said, I can’t recommend the show enough; some seasons are currently on Netflix, and it’s the perfect show to watch during the month of October. Although the show has a notable reputation, it certainly doesn’t receive the amount of appreciation it deserves, especially considering how groundbreaking it was and how much it influences horror and science fiction writers today. If you do decide to watch it, these are some of my favorite episodes, and ones that I would recommend watching first: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Time Enough at Last, The Monsters are Due On Maple Street, Eye of the Beholder, and To Serve Man.

Study Hal: Week 24 – Costume Party

Hal is gearing up for Halloween this weekend! In his excitement (and to procrastinate on school projects…) Hal made costumes for him and his dog Sparky! They’re based on his D&D campaign, where he plays a wizard named Ignatius Lightshield with a dragon companion called Smokey.

Despite their fun outfits, Hal and Sparky are staying home this year. It’s unsatisfying to get all dressed up with nowhere to go, but it’s better to keep everyone safe! They’re watching scary movies instead, but, I think Hal likes the scares more than Sparky does… What about you? Are you a horror movie fanatic like Hal? Or would you rather be watching cartoons like Sparky?

In case you’ve missed it, Hal is a University of Michigan student taking remote classes this semester. He’s back on Tuesdays to share his experiences. Check out the Study Hal tag for more, or check back next week (preferably after you’ve voted)!

Hidden Gems: There Existed an Addiction to Blood by Clipping

There Existed an Addiction to Blood by Clipping

Nothing sounds more contradictory than horror music; horror is usually associated with scary movies while music tends to be uplifting, inspirational, or just a lot of fun. That’s why I was so surprised when I first heard There Existed an Addiction to Blood by the experimental rap group Clipping. It’s a self-proclaimed “horrorcore” album with a modern twist, released on October 18th, 2019, just in time for Halloween. I didn’t know much about the group before I listened to the album, which added a lot to the mystery of the project, but I’ve learned a lot more about the group since then and it’s pretty incredible. The lead vocalist of Clipping is Daveed Diggs, who is best known as Marquis Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the hit musical Hamilton, for which he won a Grammy. I still can’t believe the artistic range and musical talent of Diggs, to win a Grammy for Hamilton and then go on to produce the incredible horror album There Existed an Addiction to Blood. The group also released the album Splendor & Misery, which was actually nominated for a Hugo award as an amazing work of science fiction. If it isn’t clear already, Clipping is an incredible group that produces groundbreaking music albums with thought-provoking and unique narratives. So in honor of the spooky season, I present to you the best horror album I’ve ever listened to and an absolute hidden gem: There Existed an Addiction to Blood.

My favorite track from the album is Nothing Is Safe, which was also the first single I heard from the album, and I can’t overstate the impact it had on me. It was like nothing I had ever heard, and I don’t say that often. The song starts off with a single dissonant piano key, reverberating in dense air, with a steady, hypnotic rhythm. It instantly brings to mind images of being alone in the dark, or walking down the dark hallways of an abandoned castle, with a bone-chilling fear of the unknown. Then this heavy, bouncing synth comes in, perfectly complementing the repetitive piano key and providing the perfect foundation for the rest of the song. Next up is Diggs: he comes in with an understated, menacing, and haunting vocal performance. The story starts with a sense of calm, but it doesn’t take long to realize that something is off: everything is too quiet and the suspense is tangible. Things become more frantic as the story develops, and the instrumental conveys it perfectly. The dynamics of the song are flawlessly executed, reflecting the intensity of the story and culminating in a heart-pounding chorus that is absolutely unforgettable. From start to finish this song is a masterpiece and it completely blew my mind the first time I heard it. I can’t recommend it enough; pay special attention to the lyrics and how cohesive the song is, and appreciate just how unique of an experience it is.

Some of my other favorite tracks from the album are Run For Your Life and The Show, which both read like short horror stories in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. They’re incredibly story driven with terrifying narratives written in the second person, placing the listener in life-threatening and horrifying situations. Run For Your Life is incredibly imaginative, both in the narrative in the instrumental: you’re running for your life from a killer, hiding in an alley, and cars drive by playing the instrumental, which pans from ear to ear. It sounds like a gimmick but it’s incredibly well executed and realistic, making the story immersive and a thousand times more terrifying. The Show is an extremely graphic and well written song about being tortured by a sadistic killer. It sounds awful and it is, which is perfect for the Halloween season. It’s also extremely catchy: the chorus is surprisingly addictive, although I wouldn’t recommend singing it in public. Overall, I mostly appreciate how immersive and convincing the entire album is. Clipping isn’t afraid to commit to intense storytelling, even when it crosses conventional boundaries and is legitimately terrifying. The group is truly groundbreaking in a lot of ways and it’s easy to see why. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is an outstanding example of their talent, and my favorite horror album to date. If you’re interested in Clipping as much as I am, you’ll be happy to hear that they’ll be releasing a sequel to There Existed an Addiction to Blood titled Visions of Bodies Being Burned on October 23rd, just in time for Halloween. I definitely recommend checking out both projects; there is a lot to unpack in Clipping’s albums and I hardly got started in this post. Feel free to start a discussion in the comments as well, I would love to discuss the album more!

Hidden Gems: Doom (2016)

It’s officially October and the beginning of spooky season! Whether it’s pumpkin patches, apple cider, warm sweaters, Halloween, or the general atmosphere of spookiness, October has it all. In celebration of my favorite month I’ll be posting strictly spooky hidden gems, ranging from classic horror literature to blood-curling albums and everything in-between. The first entry in this series is the video game Doom from 2016, one of the many games released over the years in the Doom series. Although Doom is recognized in popular culture and has heavily influenced the development of video games, it has been overlooked by a majority of people: most people have never played a game in the series, seen gameplay, or know the plot. Doom 2016 is the best example of everything that the series does right and is already a classic in the gaming community.

I feel like I’ve always known about Doom: that it was taboo, violent, and graphic. I had always been told to stay away from games like that, but as I got older and more into video games, I couldn’t help but be drawn towards the legendary status of the Doom series. I had heard especially profuse praise for the latest entry in the series at the time, Doom 2016; that it was intense, addictive, extremely fun, and incredibly immersive. Needless to say, I felt like it was a game I had to play, and I’m so glad that I did. Doom 2016 has perfected the concept of an addictive, arcade style game that also cares about its art and aesthetic. It’s extremely approachable, regardless of skill level, and immediately fun. Anybody can pick up a controller, start playing, and suddenly realize that they just spent 3 hours slaying demons in order to save the world from a demon invasion, and then keep playing for another 3 hours, it’s that addictive. It’s no accident either; the entire style of the game is a perfect mix between intense fighting, cartoonish enemies, and a good sense of humor. It never takes itself too seriously, which I think is the perfect way to approach a game that features demons and monsters. One of the key reasons that the series has been popular for so long is because it’s the only series that has been able to fill the niche of a fun horror game, and Doom 2016 is the best example of that quality. So although Doom 2016 hasn’t been played by a large majority of people, it is absolutely loved by those who have played it. As one of those people, I can say without a doubt that Doom 2016 a hidden gem.