On Puffer Fish and Zombies

In 2013 I traveled to Haiti with one of my heroes: Dr. Baker. Known to us kids as just Walt, he had an air of wisdom and mystery. Living full-time in Haiti with his wife and kids for most of their lives, Walt knew the subtleties of the Haitian culture. As a sophomore in high school, the understanding and grace through which he composed his words…

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Review: Half-Hazard by Kristen Tracy

The poems in Kristen Tracy’s debut collection Half-Hazard (Graywolf Press) are warning signs in a big, dangerous world. Tracy leads her readers by the hand into a surreal landscape of circus animals, vampires, and the fields of Idaho. An author of twelve novels for young readers, Tracy brings all the magic and pain of adolescence…

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The Best Movies of 2018

The Academy Awards finds new ways every year, and recently, every month, to ignite controversy—from the Popular Film category (though the Oscars are nothing more than a popularity contest anyway, so why bother?) to the Kevin Hart controversy, to the dispiriting nominations themselves (we won’t get into that), to Academy President…

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Review: Kayak Morning by Roger Rosenblatt

As I was reading Roger Rosenblatt’s Kayak Morning, I found myself mentally clawing at the reflective prose for a direction. I was hoping to find a structure that lead both this book’s speaker and its subject to some unified conclusion. I was looking for distance, for the book to travel. I think, because of how much of this piece…

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We Do Not Have The Luxury to Choose: On Jussie Smollett and the Importance of Intersectionality

Hearing about the alleged hate crime taken against Jussie Smollett made me mad, but it was the discourse surrounding the circumstances of the tragedy that hurt me in a place real deep. As you all know, I do my best to highlight people that are often overlooked by bringing their stories to the forefront of all conversations…

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Stories on Set: A Visit to the U.K., Part II

After the two-hour early morning excursion from the town to London and back, the meeting point was location—an apartment building complex. We were shooting a scene in which a man and a teen wake up in his apartment the night after a party. Apparently the location manager found the place through a friend who was away…

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An Interview with The Paper Kites

Based out of Melbourne, Australia, the band was founded in 2010 and released their debut album, States, in 2013. Their sophomore effort, twelvefour, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. In this interview, we spoke with Dave for a few minutes about the songwriting process, the band's artistic journey, and some of their favorite bands…

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Stories on Set: A Visit to the U.K., Part I

Because I didn’t go to film school or study anything related to filmmaking, I’ve often found myself putting extra effort into finding projects, resources, and a community of filmmakers with whom to work. At first it was hard, but as I’ve come to know many creators in Madrid (where I’m from) and across the globe over the years, it’s become…

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Seeing Things Differently: A Journal Entry on Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas, who passed away at the age of 96 last week, was in love with the invention known as the camera. With it, he captured all the beautiful and lovely things that people often overlook, ignore, take for granted—a row of bushes, a woman planting flowers, his mother getting water from the well in the front yard of his Lithuanian home…

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The Artifact of Connection in Robin Wall Kimmerer's “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Robin Wall Kimmerer paints scientific knowledge as an artifact of connection. Her scientific experiences as a field biologist and botanist are woven fervidly into her emotional invocation for healing. Braiding Sweetgrass is an engaging read that captures the reader’s attention with vivid stories of lab science, student interactions,…

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Stories on Set: Working with Extras

My second time working on a short film in the capacity of the director was a very different story than the first, both on screen and in the process. In case you missed it, I wrote about my first short and the challenges that I faced during its making, both in terms of production, preparation, and delegating projects to my crew. My second short…

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Literary Soundtracks: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Today, our playlist is inspired by Joan Didion's novel, Play It As It Lays, originally published in 1970. The novel centers on Maria Wyeth, a woman in the 1970s confined in a psychiatric hospital. What unfolds in Maria’s history is somehow both comforting and alienating, baffling and yet still incredibly knowable. I found myself drawn to soundscapes…

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Review: The Voice at 3:00 A.M. by Charles Simic

The Voice at 3:00 A.M. is poetic pop. It’s easy to understand the broad appeal of Charles Simic’s work: his collection, The Voice at 3:00 A.M., has the unshakable aroma of compromise. By aiming to amaze everyone, it mainly just tickles, rather than truly resonating with, the individual reader. I found it promising but eventually…

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An Interview with Atharva Kharkar

Atharva Kharkar is a filmmaker at The University of Michigan currently pursuing a double major in Art & Design and Business. Atharva has worked with many brands including Michigan Football and Sweetwaters Coffee and created several films that have won film festivals and premiered at a local theater. He started out creating comedy…

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Film Review: Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Hirokazu Kore-eda, among the most prolific Japanese filmmakers of the new millennium, not to mention also one of the best, finally won an award on the national stage spotlighting his enormous talent as a compassionate chronicler of individuals who are spiritually down and out. With Shoplifters (2018) winning the 2018 Palme D’Or Award…

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Literary Soundtracks: Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

This week's playlist is based off of Ocean Vuong's book of poetry called "Night Sky With Exit Wounds." Vuong, a master of language and imagery, describes the indescribable. From violent tragedy to generational trauma to beautiful heritage, he covers so much ground with precision, and paradoxically is full of indulgence and restraint…

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Review: Elegy Owed by Bob Hicok

Never before has an elegy made me feel so giddy inside. Bob Hicok’s Elegy Owed provokes the reader to completely rethink the concept of the elegy, warp it from a leaden dirge into a necessary foil of wit and celebration. No abysmal doldrums weigh this collection down. With childlike playfulness, the shamanistic Hicok yanks the sky down…

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