REVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

If you’re looking for some kitschy fun, look no further that Ypsilanti’s Holy Bones Festival. The Halloween Spirit was out in full force as local artists and performers showcased their spookiest wares and performances. I commend the talented drag and burlesque performers for doing their routines on a chilly evening!
During one memorable number, Johnny Rocket, dressed as a mummy did a striptease unraveling their bandages. Local drag queen Zooey Gaychanel, I first saw perform at the Spectrum Center’s Fair in September was also headlining.

Johnny Rocket strikes a pose

The Halloween Market featured everything from antiques to enamel pins to bath bombs and indie comics. I particularly enjoyed talking with Detroit-based Bad Love Design who sells cheeky, high-quality affordable prints inspired by retro cartoon an 60s pin-up aesthetic. Bad Love is working on a forthcoming tarot deck, so keep your eyes peeled! I also stopped to talk to the owner of Conjure Goddess, a new hoodoo shop opening up in Ypsilanti. They stock everything a witch could need from incense to Tarot cards to conjure oil. I was really impressed by the diversity of magic shops and businesses in Ypsi as well as the amount of queer-owned and women-owned businesses at the fair.

Owners of the Conjure Goddess
Bad Love Design


Last but not least, the food options were few but notable. Fork in Nigeria was definitely the stand-out, with various kinds of fufu and jollof. There was also a more economical taco truck option. Both had vegetarian choices. There was also a lot of hot cider going around! I ducked out before the festivities ended but I did get to hear some of the mellow tones of London Beck before I left. The fun, lighthearted atmosphere nearly allows you to forget how hard the performers and artists work to put events like these together. All in all, I think the Holy Bones festival is a great choice for families and for students and young adults.

REVIEW: The Spell Book for New Witches: Essential Spells to Change Your Life

I should preface this review with the universal acknowledgement that just like the weird side of YouTube that many quarantined individuals may find themselves stumbling into, there exists an equally bizarre side of Amazon – and this book hardly scratches its surface. While on a similar downwards trajectory across Amazon’s vast niche book collection, I came across a plethora of modern witchcraft guides, including Ambrosia Hawthorn’s The Spell Book for New Witches: Essential Spells to Change Your Life.

For someone with no prior witchcraft knowledge besides having happened across a handful of Vox witch documentaries, this book managed to clear up any confusing spellcasting terminology. A good quarter of the book is dedicated to understanding the art of spellcasting and educating the reader on spellcasting preparation, which rings true to its intended audience of ‘new witches’, or beginner practitioners. In Part I, Hawthorn clarifies commonly confused magic terminology, such as witchcraft versus Wicca, and even briefly delves into its ethical obligations, warning beginners of the Law of Threefold Return and knowing one’s place within cosmic law. Though I personally have no plans to sew poppets or charge clear quartz under the next full moon, I’m grateful for the author’s emphasis on exercising reason, caution, and stable-mindedness under all spellcasting circumstances.

Hawthorn divvies Part II of the spell book, the spells and their recipes, into seven categories of use: ‘Romantic Love’, ‘Money Matters and Prosperity’, ‘Work and Career’, ‘Friends and Family’, ‘Health and Healing’, ‘Protection and Forgiveness’, and ‘Well-being, Success, and Abundance’. Though I expected witchcraft to require a number of obscure ingredients and esoteric performing instructions, Hawthorn’s spells stress the ‘practical’ in practical magic, with most spells requiring 10 or less ingredients and tools combined. While describing the core principles of witchcraft, which include celebrating your life and sexuality, Hawthorn explains that spellwork should be fueled mainly by “a respect for nature and the mystery of the universe”. She characterizes magic as existing all around us, therefore crystals and herbs should be drawn upon as secondary sources to harnessing our personal power and energies.

Hawthorn’s book promises a wide range of spells designed to suit your every need – whether that be finding a lost item, curing heartbreak, or designing a custom healing sigil. The performance rituals range from simply harnessing crystal energies to boiling herbs; many of the spells can double as quarantine-induced-boredom cures, as Hawthorn makes a point to include cookie recipes, soap, and other self-care spells. Some spells that might be particularly useful to unmotivated students such as myself include: ‘Money Manifestation Crystal Grid’, ‘Wealth Manifestation Rice’, ‘Acceptance Talisman Spell’, and ‘Anti-Procrastination Oil’.


PREVIEW: Mystic Nights at Zal Gaz Grotto Club

Image result for magic clipart

The world is full of unknowable things, things that exist underneath reality: the supernatural, the magical, the mystic. Some are gifted with the ability to see into this plane of being, but most of us are offered mere glimpses, if any sight at all. Occupied by the ordinary world, we fail to see the extraordinary that lies just beyond our unseeing gaze.

But this Wednesday, March 27 the magician Misha Tuesday will be lifting back the curtain. He will be performing miracles in the form of hypnosis, mind reading, and magic to provide guests with a soul-changing evening. Your very understanding of reality will be tested and torn by the hands of this great illusionist. Perhaps you will be given the sight yourself. Anything can happen when mystery rules the night.

Doors are at 8:00 PM, and the show begins at 8:30, but the kitchen and bar are open beforehand. The experience will be priceless, but tickets are $10 at the door or at


REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them

Let’s make one thing clear. Although I have seen all the Harry Potter movies, and maybe I went to Barnes and Noble for the midnight premiere of books 1-6, I am not a huge Harry Potter fan. To me Harry Potter always seemed a little childish and derivative, like listening to top 40 music. That’s why Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them was such a pleasant surprise.

Newt Scamander arrives in 1926 New York, fresh off an expedition studying and cataloging magical beasts around the world for his book. While he plans to stay only long enough to release a particular creature back into the wild, a run-in with an a No-Maj (American Muggle) leads to a number of events that make the movie run 133 minutes.

8:30 + preview + 133 minutes = 11:15
8:30 + preview + 133 minutes = 11:15

Like all the other Harry Potter movies, FBAWTFT looks gorgeous. Combining wizards with 1920’s America was a fantastic idea and someone should give JK Rowling a high-five for that. It was so much fun to see spells flying inside speak-easy’s and upending Model T’s on the street–I only wish Newt’s travels had taken him to other American cities like Chicago and San Francisco as well.


Every actor fit seamlessly into their roles so well that I didn’t miss the Harry Potter characters one bit. Eddie Redmayne as Newt played the perfect awkward scientist, but it was Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski that stole every scene with his charm and naivety. Unfortunately, the female characters didn’t seem as well hashed out. Queenie Goldstein, one of the two female leads, is literally nothing but an attractive secretary at the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic. Maybe it was to add the period feel to the movie, but this series deserves better than one-sided female characters.

JK Rowling took the dark elements from the latter half of the Harry Potter series and ramped them up for FBAWTFT. Unhealthy relationships, from a neglected son to child abuse, pepper the central storyline, which also includes the DEATH SENTENCE as a plot device. I enjoyed that JK Rowling decided to write a movie that was for older audiences, but wow the movie gets dark.

At the same time, there are moments of precious comic relief scattered throughout the movie. DC Comics should study this film in terms of how to balance the light and the dark, because FBAWTFT knows how to make the audience laugh in one scene, and then pull those smiles away in the very next scene.

I left with one question on my mind: how does the movie scale up from here? The final “battle” felt almost like the end of a movie series, leaving New York in tatters (a la The Avengers) and at least two surprises. It felt like JK Rowling pulled out all of the stops as the wizards struggled to contain a dark force attacking the city. Will it be possible to make the action more exciting, or will we start to get fatigued after seeing the same spells, the same special effects, and the same CGI-creatures every outing?

PREVIEW: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

In case you somehow missed the hype, here is the trailer for the upcoming film.

Here are two of the many reasons why you should be excited:

  1. This new franchise doesn’t have a lot of source material (aside from Pottermore & the “book” that shares the same name. EVERYTHING will be new, and you won’t be disappointed by them changing or leaving anything out.
  2. David Yates is directing & J. K. Rowling is the screenwriter! Therefore, the next generation of Harry Potter movies will look and feel just like the way you remember.

Also why wouldn’t you want to see this gorgeous man on the big screen?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes out November 18.

You can find times for Goodrich Quality 16 and Rave Cinemas (Ann Arbor 20) here.

Tickets run about $9.75 for standard adult 2-D 

PREVIEW: Autumn Fest – Performance with a Purpose

Where can you find ComCo, Angels On Call, Groove, the Compulsive Lyres, the Michigan Magician Society, Arabian Dance Ensemble and the Violin Monster all sharing the same stage? Autumn Fest, of course!

What: The second annual variety show put on by Appreciate + Reciprocate, a University of Michigan student organization which raises money for the LSA Emergency Scholarship Fund.

When: Wednesday, October 22 at 8:00 pm

Where: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League

How Much: $3 in advance and $5 at the door

Buy your tickets at the Mason Hall Posting Wall, October 16-17th and 20-22nd 9am-4pm, and join the Facebook event for a reminder.

All of the profits from the show will go to support Appreciate + Reciprocate’s newly established scholarship, which benefits Michigan students who suffer from financial crises, so no student has to drop out due to costs! For the price of one ticket, you can sample many great local talents, as well as treat yourself to a dose of good karma.

For more information about Appreciate+Reciprocate, check out