McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Mikhail Bulgakov

Hello and welcome back, everyone! I’m excited to be continuing my blog this semester and I wanted to start by visiting The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This novel has quickly become a favorite of mine, and I only regret that I didn’t read it sooner. At its core, this text is a masterclass of satire, irony, and fantasy, the likes of which I can only compare to the works of Vonnegut, O’Connor, and Wallace. If you’re a fan of the actively surreal, you will no doubt love this novel. Before we jump into the text, I’d like to focus on the author, as the life of Mikhail Bulgakov is central to understanding his Magnum Opus.

Continue reading

Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Witches

The Witches, is a 2020 supernatural comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and is narrated by Chris Rock. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and is the second feature-length adaptation of the novel, after the 1990 film of the same name directed by Nicolas Roeg. The film starts with narration by an adult Charlie Hansen (Rock) as he gives a presentation on witches. He then transitions into talking about his childhood (younger version played by Jahzir Bruno) and how he first came in contact with witches. In 1968, Charlie’s parents die in a car accident and he goes to live with his grandmother (Spencer) in Alabama. While at the store a strange woman with a green snake offers him a piece of candy, but they are interrupted by Charlie’s grandmother. This encounter scares Charlie and that night he confesses to her what happened. She then informs him what he saw was actually a witch and tells Charlie how her childhood best friend was turned into a chicken by one. In an attempt to get away from the witch for a while, Charlie and his now ill grandmother go stay at a fancy hotel where a family member works. The next day Charlie goes off alone to train his pet mouse (Kristin Chenoweth) as his grandmother rests, and he ends up in a ballroom set up for a meeting. When a group of ladies arrives to start their conference they reveal themselves to be witches. The meeting is presided over by the Grand High Witch (Hathaway) as she explains her plan to get rid of all the world’s children by turning them into mice. Drawing Charlie and his grandmother into a fight with the witches they had been trying to escape from in the first place. In this blog post I will look at how the change in setting and character background for the adaptation works in the story. 

Continue reading

Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 gothic supernatural horror film directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, and Casper Van Dien in supporting roles. It is a film adaptation loosely based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The movie is set in 1799 and follows New York City police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as he is sent to the small Dutch Hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders that have plagued the town. He is given very little information regarding the town or its victims, besides the fact that they all had their heads cut off. When he arrives, Ichabod is told by the town’s leaders that not only were the victims beheaded, but the murderer also took their heads after he killed them. The townspeople believe the murders to be committed by the apparition of a headless Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War who is looking for his own missing head. Ichabod is skeptical about the paranormal elements of the story and takes a more scientific approach to his investigation. Slowly he unravels a conspiracy against the leading families in the town and also comes face to face with supernatural forces which seem to be trying to drive him away from Sleepy Hollow, if not kill him. While at the same time being forced to confront his childhood trauma and developing feelings for Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), the daughter of one of the town elders. In this blog post, I will look at how the film expanded on the original story and how the character of Ichabod Crane changed between the two mediums. 

Continue reading

Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Stardust

Stardust is a 2007 fantasy adventure film directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars an ensemble cast led by Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong and Robert De Niro, with narration by Ian McKellen. The film is an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman 1999 novel of the same name. The movie opens roughly 19 years years prior to the start of the main character’s, Tristan Thorn (Cox), story with the meeting of his parents in a strange magical land. Baby Tristan is left for his father, Dunstan (Younger: Ben Barnes, Older: Nathaniel Parker) to raise in the fictional English town of Wall. When the story jumps ahead 18 years, Tristan is a rather naive boy who believes himself to be in love with the vain Victoria Forester (Sienna Miller). After seeing a falling star, Victoria agrees to marry Tristian if he retrieves it for her in time for her birthday. The night he is to set off, Tristan learns the origins of his birth in the magical land next to the town of Wall. Using a Babylon candle, which allows a person to instantly travel to the place they are thinking of when it is lit, gifted by his mother (Kate Magowan), Tristan tries to find her. But Tristan gets distracted by his thoughts of Victoria and the star, transporting him into a large crater where he falls onto a young woman (Danes) who he mistakes for his mother. He quickly realizes that the hurt girl is actually the fallen star and sets out to bring her back to Victoria, which leads to a wild journey for Tristan and the star, Yvaine, including run-ins with princes, witches, and even pirates. In this blog post I will look at the backstory established between the two mediums as well as the ways Tristan’s character is developed in the story. 

Continue reading

Sylvia’s Psychological Summaries: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

There’s something that I wanted to get off of my chest before I start talking about the book for this week’s blog. Recently, the second season of Bridgerton dropped and yes, of course, I binged it within the first two days of it showing up on Netflix. With that being said, I was HIGHLY disappointed in the second season. After reading the book, there was no way that I could enjoy this new season because it was almost completely different from the book. To say I was disappointed is an understatement…I still have faith though! I’m a die-hard Bridgerton fan and I am extremely hopeful that the third season will follow the book’s plotline because the books are PHENOMENAL. Anyways, to get back to my blog, I wanted to warn you that this one is going to be a little bit different than what I typically write about. Is it still a romance novel? There’s a sprinkle of that but the main genre is historical fiction that is based on one of the darkest times of human history; the holocaust. Many people in Ukraine are currently living through a similar type of hell and I wanted to address this because it is barbaric and hits a little too close to home. The way Russia attacked Ukraine and the types of war crimes they are committing in Ukraine right now are frighteningly similar to what Hitler did to Poland (my family’s home country) and MANY other countries/people during World War II. If you are not up-to-date on what is currently happening in Ukraine and you don’t know much about World War II, you need to educate yourself and not just turn a blind eye to it. Now, on to my blog. 

Continue reading

Jason’s Metal Library: Xanadu

To immediately get this out of the way, I want to state that this blog may have metal in the name, but we will discuss classic and progressive rock. As such, let’s begin by taking a look at “Kubla Khan” – a poem written in 1797 and published in 1816 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In Coleridge’s preface to “Kubla Khan”, he notes that this poem was created after an opium-influenced dream after reading about the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, led by the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. After waking from the dream, Coleridge went to work on writing the poem but was interrupted. Instead of completing a 200-300 lined epic, the interruption caused him to forget the lines he had planned, resulting in the 54-line poem we know today. The band Rush created a song based on this piece, called “Xanadu”. This 11-minute epic takes concepts from the story and it comes together as a grand merge of both literature and music.

Continue reading

Lauren’s Etude to Eden: Tess of the d’Urbervilles and “Eden”

Welcome back, everyone! This week we are taking a look back to a classic, one in which I managed to find a song that I personally think is my best pairing yet. Now, I have a lot of opinions on this work, and I am going to hopefully manage to reign in my impulses to rant on these various topics. I personally have no one else who has read this book yet to bounce these ideas off of, so these thoughts have been festering for a good while. With that aside, the novel I will be turning my attention to this week is Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. This is a read I do not encourage one to binge in one sitting, because it will give you whiplash with all of the events that go down. I say this from experience, from the perspective of a master procrastinator that read this book and analyzed it all in one day for a school project I had put off for months. SPOILER ALERT: I chose this book out of the many available mainly due to my awareness of the ending in which, spoiler, Tess dies. I largely chose my books based on dramatic endings because I wanted to see how the events of the story unfolded to lead to unfortunate fates. However, I had no idea of the events of the rest of this book, and it would be an understatement to say I was shocked at the time, as the plot provides hit after hit. The song I have chosen to pair with this book I think presents said events in a view that matches with my own and breaks down Tess’s story into the true horror it became. That song would be “Eden” by Sara Bareilles.

Continue reading

Sylvia’s Psychological Summaries: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

So far, I’ve been struggling to pick a book to write about for each blog. My first blog was easy because I recently read the book that I wrote about but I quickly realized that I’ve been slacking in the reading department. I had always thought that I was an avid reader and that I read a good amount of books but starting I quickly saw the opposite. When I look at my bookshelf, I see books that I’ve had since middle school as well as a handful of books that I’ve read throughout college. During quarantine, we all had a lot of free time on our hands so I read more often but I only re-read books. I do the same thing with tv-shows; when I know what will happen, it eases my anxiety which is why I think I re-read books. To circle back to why I’m even talking about this, the book I decided to write about in this week’s blog was one of those books that I re-read during quarantine. I first heard about it when I was in high school and was instantly obsessed with it. It contained a combination of two things that I loved to read about – romance and Greek mythology. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been extremely interested in Greek Mythology so, naturally, I’ve read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series about a hundred times as well as The Heros of Olympus series. I also dabbled in Egyptian and Roman mythology for a while. Along with that, I remember even creating my free website when I was in sixth grade that was strictly based on Greek mythology (I’m cringing internally) so when I heard about The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, I knew I had to buy the whole series and binge-read it.

Continue reading

Lauren’s Etude to Eden: The Love Hypothesis and “My Heart is Buried in Venice.”

Alright everyone, get ready for a doozy of an update because this week I have thrown everything to the wind. I like to think of myself as pretty organized and too anxious not to have a properly formed plan and schedule, but the impulsivity kicks in every now and then to ruin it and this will be a direct result of that. Because this week I actually read a book. I genuinely cannot remember when I last finished reading a story I chose of my own volition, but I binge-read a book in 24 hours in the middle of this week and it has taken over all thought processes. The plan was originally to write about another classic – and I know you will all be so bummed to hear I am no longer doing that – but instead, I have pushed the whole line-up back to discuss this novel which has taken up the residence of the tiny plot of free real estate that is my mind: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. I am laughing as I type this that I enjoyed this novel so much, especially after learning about how it is another example of mass-produced fanfiction from the internet. However, the fact that it reads so much like fanfiction really kept me reading, with its weird quippy lines and typical weird, unlikely situations. Plus, this baby has ALL the tropes. It really is a culmination of what writing on the internet has come to, and I love that those who put themselves out there on public platforms so long ago are getting recognition in the actual world of literature.

Continue reading

Sylvia’s Psychological Summaries: Waterfall by Lisa Bergren

Hey everyone! I hope you guys have been doing well and if this is your second time reading my blog, welcome! If this is your first time, I’m happy you’re here and that you’re curious about psychology. This week I’m going to be diving into an interesting aspect of how faith and psychology interact with each other. I grew up in the Roman Catholic faith and am still very involved in it and I truly believe in it as well so, like psychology, this topic is very important to me and something that I enjoy writing about. Before you get scared and run away, I promise that this isn’t going to be another theology class but more of an outside observation that connects to the main theme of Waterfall by Lisa Bergren, so hear me out. Psychology and the Catholic faith seem to mix like oil and water -not at all. This was something that I struggled with at times while studying psychology in school. On one end, I was hearing words like “self-sacrifice” and “self-denial” and that if someone slapped my face, I should offer them the other cheek. And on the other hand, I was learning about “self-actualization” and “self-fulfillment” and how I have to focus on myself. Needless to say, I was very confused at times about what I should be thinking and feeling and I’m sure that others who have grown up in religious households feel the same way. The reason I started thinking about this was that I was trying to figure out what book I should write about next. I didn’t want it to be another “Cinderella story”; I wanted it to have a little bit more substance so I thought of the book Waterfall

Continue reading