Basement Dwelling: “Oxnard” by Anderson Paak

The cover for Anderson Paak’s latest album, Oxnard, immediately gives the impression of a film. “Starring Anderson Paak,” it reads, much like the marquee on a movie poster. And like a movie poster, we see an array of images all pertaining to Paak’s life. These include images of his son, two of the members of his band The Free Nationals, as well as Paak himself, standing before a large crowd next to the most glaring inclusion, which is hip-hop legend Dr. Dre. All of these images are portrayed in a cloud of smoke, as Paak stands firmly there, arms open, assuredly singing something uplifting and life-affirming.

This is the poster to the film that is Anderson Paak, Oxnard being the third film of the trilogy — and the biggest one to date due to his meteoric rise in the public consciousness in the last two years. Keeping this in mind, despite my hype for this record and my love of Paak’s previous works, I still had my apprehensions about this project. I wondered if this newfounded backing and production by Dre and his label Aftermath would result in a production too large with stakes so high that it might suck the soul out of what makes Paak so great — the soul that was allowed to freely reign on a record like Malibu. Would Oxnard be marred by tracks lacking the songwriting ability that made his previous works so instantly lovable and memorable?

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Not Your Binary: A QTPOC Reading Column – A Reading of Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia”

Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia” patchworks the words of thirty-seven poets, composing a sublime composition into a loose-sestina form. Each time Guzmán’s speaker repeats phrases, the words crescendo and build into an intense meaning. The beginning lines depict an awareness from the speaker of their own disorder: “I am cosmically outrageous, a tragic orchestra” (ll. 1).

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More Marrow for Your Rose Beds? A Mysterious Analysis

After watching various crime and cop shows like Elementary, Psych, X-Files, and NCIS and reading Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie narratives, the formulas and patterns of mystery become impossible not to notice. Stories usually start with a character seeking investigative expertise of the detective; stories start with travel to a new setting where a murder is revealed following the detective’s brief lounging with the mystery’s central characters. There’s always a problem that needs solving, usually done through witness-questioning and clue-searching. Once you have a handle on these patterns, finding ways in which authors subvert these patterns is all the more fascinating. I began thinking that I would apply this philosophy to the newly released standalone novel by Tana French entitled The Witch Elm. I wanted to see if French crossed the boundaries of the typical mystery or if she stayed within its lines.

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Student Feature: 3 Student Perspectives on “Donnie Darko”

Found below are three reviews of Richard Kelly’s 2001 film, Donnie Darko, written by Lewis University students Hannah Cross, Megan O’Brien, and Joseph Pryzdia.

Hannah Cross:

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, sends its audience down the rabbit hole (almost literally) into a twisted idea of time travel. The movie is suspenseful and brilliant as it alludes to other great works, notably: Alice in Wonderland. Donnie is followed by a white rabbit, which is the basis for his hallucinations and visions throughout the film. This movie’s genre lies somewhere in the spectrum of mystery, sci-fi, and teen angst in the John Waters tradition. The audience can easily relate to the feelings that Donnie has about being the outcast, not only in school but also in his family. Its satirical elements bring out some of the darker and dry humor in the movie. The canted cinematography and jagged editing of this film add to the eerie, chaotic, and unsettling feelings to the audience. While the majority of scenes are bright and colorful, every scene with the rabbit becomes visibly dark and muted by design to foreshadow the impending dark side of the film. Continue reading

Meet the Editors: Patricia Damocles

Patricia Damocles

It’s time for another addition to our Meet the Editors series with someone who has already made a presence on this blog. This week we are introducing Patricia Damocles, our Asst. Poetry Editor; Asst. Layout Editor; Communications & Media Editor. Please visit her music blog: Putting Tracks on the Map with Trish. 

Patricia is a junior at Lewis University majoring in English Language Arts and Secondary Education with a minor in Creative Writing. She is a transfer student from Benedictine University who previously studied Writing & Publishing in the journalism field. Aside from being an editor for Jet Fuel, Patricia is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, a tutor at the university’s Writing Center, and a sales associate at LOFT Outlet. What she strives to achieve as a Jet Fuel editor is to give passionate, aspiring writers a platform to express themselves. As someone who has had the opportunity to be published in a previous issue, she is aware of how empowering it is to have her voice acknowledged in the world of literature. In her free time, she enjoys reading poetry and short stories, and also making memories with her friends, family, and cats. Some of her favorite writers include Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and Langston Hughes.

Below is our Q&A with Patricia Damocles:

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The Canon—Close Encounters: Ideal of Courtly Love Examined

If I were to read or hear “Lanval” at the time Marie de France wrote it—the twelfth century—I might be a lady at the Anglo-Norman court, possibly at the court of Henry II. I would have “listened … gladly and joyfully” to such narratives and would have referred to them as “lays.” These narratives, telling of “love and adventure”—later known as romances— would have excited my curiosity and a sense of wonder, as they told stories of kings, queens, and knights, and often included elements of the supernatural. Romances are “stories of separation and return, disintegration and reintegration” (Greenblatt 158). If I were a listener of this particular lay, I would have followed the struggle of Lanval, one of the knights of the Round Table, to the deeply comforting, happy ending, but I would also have been left with many questions to ponder long after the echo of the last words that have died in the chamber. Perhaps I would notice that the structure of the story varies from other romances that I have heard—the elements of separation and loss appearing immediately in the beginning. To use Greenblatt’s language, the “protected, civilized state of some integrated social unit” is missing at the start of the story while the elements of “disintegration” abound (158). “Lanval” is a narrative that makes the reader focus on disintegration and does not offer much in terms of solution; rather, it offers a looking glass in which the courtly audience can see and examine themselves.

Disintegration or disruption is present from the first lines of the narrative, which takes place in king Arthur’s   England, torn by violence, where “Scottish and Pictish peoples [lay] / waste all that land, in war and raid” (de France 7-8). Marie de France builds the story of Lanval with complexity, depth, and creativity. Where a typical romance would move the audience from a harmonious beginning, through loss or separation, to a satisfying reintegration, Marie de France employs creative variation to this structure. From the country at war, she narrows down to the “unit” of Arthurian court, where she zooms in on many points of disintegration. She undermines the legendary notion of the unquestionable nobility of the Knights of the Round Table—all equal and unified around their king; instead, Arthur is portrayed not as a superhero and the best of kings, but a prone to error human who “forgets” to reward one of his most valiant warriors (19). Arthur and his knights, guided by petty jealousy, “[make] a show of loving” Lanval, says the story, and there, I believe, begins Marie’s commentary on love in its various forms.

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Student Feature: Zakiya Cowan reviews “City of God”

Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s 2002 film, City of God, is a vortex that swallows the audience into its cyclic narrative that emphasizes the dangers of toxic masculinity and consequences of the notion “being a man.” As observed in the film, a twisted perspective of manhood can be a bullet that passes through one generation to the next, destined to extinguish them all.

City of God

Meirelles and Lund’s film is a stunning execution of a labyrinth-like storyline in which the audience delves into the lives of multiple characters. Then, through cinematic moves such as foreshadowing and flashbacks, seamlessly intertwines these plots that become a metaphorical domino effect. As the film progresses, and gradually strips down the plot, we observe how the actions of one character cause a steady disruption in the lives of everyone else. From the jarring, handheld camera scenes, to the drastic shifts in color gradients from deep, saturated blues, to honeyed yellows, the audience experiences the chaotic and disruptive life of the film’s gang members.  Similarly, to the characters in the story, the audience is overtaken by this whirlpool narrative, trapped in “the slum [that had] been a purgatory.” But, “now it’s hell.”

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