Sunflower Seeds: Summer Aspirations

With summer here, I have done some serious self-reflecting over the past school year and now have some summer aspirations.

I couldn’t be happier with how my third year of college went, but I am eager to accomplish more. In the past, I used a timeline for events in my life that should have or will happen at certain ages. For example, I expected to know exactly what I wanted to do with my major/career by the time I was a sophomore, but now I am going into my senior year and I still debate changing my major at least once a month. It’s not too practical to live your life on a time line, so now I just like to set different goals for myself! Therefore, I thought this summer would be the perfect time to set and accomplish some personal goals!

First and foremost, my number one goal is work full time.

As an extremely broke college student, this will really benefit my wallet. I’m currently in the fourth and final stage of interviewing for an internship, so if I get it I will be accomplishing this goal! If not, it’s not the end of the world but I really need to pick the slack and work a job or two. Since I am going into my senior year and being 21, I would like to not worry about expenses like going out or going to concerts. Besides having extra cash for fun spending, I want to have enough saving to be able to afford rent right out of college. I don’t know what is going to happen in a year, and I really don’t want to have to move back home to Chicago. I am just trying to look out for my future self!

A second goal I have is to travel more!

If I am working full time it might be hard to travel, but I am positive I can work something out. I’m not necessarily trying to go out on international rendezvous’, but I would like to see more of the West Coast. I have never been to the Grand Canyon and its not that far away! I would to do more fun weekend trips even if it’s to places near San Diego like Julian, CA. However, I do want to go back to New York at some point in early June, so hopefully I can come up with enough money for that!

Lastly, I just want to have a ton of fun!

This will be my last summer ever as an undergrad, and I want to have as much fun as possible before I’m in the real world. In my seed about New York I stated that I lived in an atrocious, filthy, and cockroach infested apartment this past summer. I lived with 6 girls in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. All of our twin beds touched because we didn’t have much room, but that wasn’t really a problem compared to all the others. Besides it being filled with cockroaches, it was abnormally hot (sometimes I would sleep outside by the pool because there were less bugs and it was cooler there). Anything and everything that you think could go wrong did. Even though the living situation wasn’t ideal, I had the time of my life! It was the most fun summer I have ever had given that I had cockroaches for roommates. I met so many incredible people and explored. I hope to do that again, but without the bugs of course!

All in all I think it is good to motivate yourself and have different goals. Mine really come down to making money, traveling, and fun! That’s not too much to ask for and they all relate to one and another, so I’m sure ill accomplish them. Weather your goals are big or small you really can accomplish them if you put your mind to it!

Written by: Nina Capuani

Possum (2018) – Film Review

A Temporary Glimpse into the World of Possum (2018): An Absolutely Gripping Fever Dream of a Film.

All Bones, No Meat

I like my films how I like my sexual encounters; confusing, without context, and unsure of what’s going on for the majority of the time. A wise man (me) once said media is best experienced when you have the least amount of context going into them. No trailers, no spoilers, just a cool-sounding title and a summary of a few sentences to spice up your interest. So when it comes to the 2018 film Possum, directed by Matthew Holness, here it is:

A small talking man, aged by torment, has returned to his childhood home after serving in the military. After his service, he takes up puppeteering, but it doesn’t go too well. Maybe because his puppet is a giant disgusting, wound-ridden spider with a human head, glass eyes, and a hundred-yard stare. The house he returns to isn’t empty though; when he arrives he finds his filthy uncle Maurice has been living there for some time now. The plot revolves around dream-like montages of our dear puppeteer Philip returning to different places significant to his childhood as he attempts to figure out the secrets of his past and the house he now lives in.

There’s your summary. That’s ALL you get. Go watch it, it’s fantastic, I gave it 4/5 stars (that’s a high score from me). If you feel intrigued but don’t care about spoilers, or if you’ve already watched it, stay for a bit while I go into detail about this film, and probably end up digging deeper than necessary.

*TRIGGER WARNING: This film includes themes of abuse and sexual assault. If you are uncomfortable with these concepts or themes please don’t watch/read about this film. If you or someone you know is dealing with abuse trouble and need help, call this number:
National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline – 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the review.*

 

!!! SPOILER WARNING !!!

All Meat, Boneless

Alright sweet, now that we’ve thinned the herd a little bit, let’s talk about this movie.

Possum (2018) follows what I would call “dream logic.” Numerous scenes of the film happen out of order or with fractures in between, with the camera taking a break from what’s really happening to Phillip and instead catching a shot of some yellow and orange balloons beginning to smoke up, black rain pouring from the sky, and seeing that dreadful Possum puppet everywhere he goes. Possum is filmed in such a way that it gradually reveals more and more of the horrifying Possum puppet to the audience, representing Philip’s reawakening demons as well as both the audience and Philip slowly beginning to realize that Uncle Maurice has more to do with his trauma than Philip thinks.

Some shots seem to be glimpses into Philip’s memory, showing places he’s been in before, just empty with no one else in them. The film doesn’t have many human characters in it, making it seem just as lonely as Phillip is. However, that isn’t to say that the film lacks character; Sean Harris (who plays Philip) delivers a haunting performance that keeps a tight grip of your attention through the entirety of Possum’s 85-minute run time. Speaking of acting, Harris’ movements throughout the film are very reminiscent of child-like mannerisms and insecurities. Looking over his shoulder while he runs away nervously, sweaty hands held together in front of him like a toddler would when anxious from potential danger, curling up into the fetal position and crying when feeling threatened and whining like an unwanting baby when confronted. These all contribute to the ever-present truth of poor Phillip’s corrupted innocence, which is fed to the audience generously throughout.

What Does It Mean?

On the topic of symbolism, this film is full, simply bursting with it. If you like shots of random things representing other aspects or themes found in the movie, you’re in luck because this film has TONS of that. Here’s a quick list of all the symbols that I could find on the first viewing:

  • The yellow and orange balloons floating inside a children’s room represent Phillip’s original childhood ignorance, while the black smoke enveloping them represents the death of his parents (from the fire that Uncle Maurice started in Phillip’s house) as well as the corruption or ‘blackening’ of childhood innocence.
  • The nursery rhyme, “Mother, Father, what’s afoot? Only Possum, black as soot” bridges the gap between the purity of his younger years and the hell he now endures every day, walking around trying to live while being haunted by his past, feeling the eyes of his abuser on him at all times.
  • The black rain pouring from the sky, tainting everything it touches with its necro-colored pollution, is a symbol of Phillip feeling that his whole world is being overcome by insanity.
  • The immortal fox which can be beaten until dead and rotten, but somehow always stands back up and walks away, is a symbol of the anguish he feels and his inability to get rid of it.
  • The surrounding area is full of forests with many dead trees and warped branches, symbolizing the spindly, disgusting spider legs of the Possum.
  • While on the topic of spider legs, those in themselves are a symbol for fingers. If you haven’t seen the last 10 minutes of the film, there’s a LOT of fingers involved.
  • And last but not least, the Possum. Phillip’s dead-eyed spider puppet symbolizes multiple things; his fractured or suffering mental state, his abusive uncle Maurice (who we later discover is the man who’s been abducting and molesting many children in the area, who also raped him when he was young), and Philip’s desire to release this trauma from his life. Wherever he goes, no matter how hard he tries to get rid of it, the Possum is always there. Creeping up close behind him, watching him from afar, waking up with it in his bed, menacing him with his long, hairy appendages. There is no escape, you can’t break it or burn it, you can’t leave it all behind, because pain and memories aren’t physical things. The only way to get rid of abuse is to do away with the abuser.

Speculation Abomination

When Uncle Maurice says, “Waking up is it? Wants to get out” he’s referring to Phillip’s growing suspicion that Maurice is actually the one that raped him.

The green candies Maurice offers to Phillip could potentially be drugs that knock him out and allow for Maurice to get up to his dirty deeds. They could also be just regular candies that Maurice used to coerce Phillip into doing gross things or letting Maurice abuse him more.

The nature of the name ‘Possum’ for the puppet could be significant in that it mirrors how Phillip acts. Possums (the animal) are known to be cowardly and play dead when frightened, which is something Phillip does when he’s put into an uncomfortable situation. When he throws the Possum off the bridge, he too acts like a possum, slams into the mud, and curls up in a ball while he experiences horrible flashbacks.

Final Thoughts

This movie is really good and it is worth your time. It makes you feel more uncomfortable and slimy than scared, but the single most terrifying scene of the whole movie is well deserved. I literally threw my laptop when Uncle Maurice jumped out of the shadows. Please support this film, I genuinely recommend it.

Written by: Fabrizio Ramirez

Dreams From The Stars: Cult of Personality

In this edition, Ahmad Dixon witnesses the origins of a cult revolving around his friend. This isn’t a dream. It’s an absolute nightmare!

My friend Sam is a peculiar person. We became friends about a year ago, right before college, and since then we’ve become relatively close. However, things between us have become pretty strained because of an incident that happened recently. We were walking around Kensington when I noticed a team of bald men in robes trailing behind us. At first I tried to ignore them, initially writing them off as local town color, but then I noticed that they had Sam’s dumb face embroidered on their chest. “Hey Sam, what’s up with those guys?” I asked before we turned a corner.

“Oh them?” he said unenthusiastically, “They’re just my cult.”

Out of all my friends I would have thought Sam would be the least likely to form a cult of personality. Once while working at coffee bean he was almost kidnapped and sold into slavery by pirates because he messed up an order. Although in hindsight it was kind of obvious. We visited a fortune teller once and she said that Sam was the reincarnation of Charlemagne, Ramses II, and a Manager of a Fort Lauderdale Best Buy. She told me that I was going to get crushed by an elephant. I usually don’t put much stock in fortune telling, past lives, and the like, but I was indeed crushed by an elephant a week later, which lead me to believe that that particular fortune teller was on the up and up.

Footage of Me Being Crushed

Since that day in Kensington, I never saw Sam unless his cult was somewhere near by. It began with three, middle aged, bald men, but then it grew and they added four, young, bald women. Then it was 15 bald men, women, and children. And finally it escalated to a crowd of around 35 people following around my friend during his day to day activities. They’d throw flower petals in the space directly in front of his feet, they’d venerate his trash as sacred artifacts (ever see an apple core in a gold plated box?), and I think one of them learned how to play lute in order to write songs in his honor. The songs were mostly just popular tunes with the word “baby” taken out and replaced with the name Sam.

Sam seemed utterly disinterested in this development in his life. I asked him how he felt about being a living god and he just shrugged and said, “them’s the brakes.” After he said that the cult would sometimes chant “them’s the brakes” for hours on end in a hypnotic meditation.

I tried not to talk to members of the cult due to the fact they all gave me the heeby jeebies but curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of them what they saw in Sam as a spiritual leader. They said, “The Sam is the bringer of happiness and salvation, without The Sam there would be no sunrise, no morning dew on the flowers, no order to the universe. The Sam is a being of infinite compassion and infinite wisdom.” I looked over to Sam to see that he was on the verge of tears due to being unable to open a jar of peanut butter. He pulled out his pocket knife and somehow cut himself flipping it open. Cult members almost trampled each other trying to catch his blood as it dripped from his finger. I heard later that this event is one of the more important parables in the Book of Sam.

I went over to Sam’s house in City Heights to return some books and things had obviously changed since the last time I was there. Outside the walls were covered in murals depicting Sam slaying dragons and the cosmos being born out of his mind. I like to believe reality existed before Sam was born but I have no proof to the contrary so I felt it was not my place to argue. Inside there were masses of people, of various nationalities, on their knees chanting and praying. Some were in tears because of their proximity to the so called creator of the universe. Sam was in his pajamas playing his Nintendo Switch.

I went up to my friend and asked how long he thought this could possibly continue. He said when he got tired of all the positive attention he was getting and when they stopped giving him fruit offerings on command. I said “you know you’re not actually a god right.” I regretted this outburst almost immediately because everyone in the house stopped chanting and looked at me. A hundred hands reached out to grab me and before I could realize what was happening I was in a cage. Sam continued to play Zelda as this was happening. I yelled at Sam to let me out but he again said, “them’s the brakes” and went about his day.

I’m not the type of person who likes to be confined for extended periods of time. Especially when I’m in spaces that aren’t big enough for me to sit down in. I survived on nothing but the stale bread and dirty water I was given twice a day. What felt like months passed and I began to have strange visions. Dancing colors of light, geometric shapes, vibrating amorphous blobs. My beard grew down to my chest. I was losing my mind.

One day Sam came to the front of the cage, drinking a cup of coffee. I didn’t respond because I thought it was another hallucination. He said I could come out, and I just looked straight ahead. He then opened the cage and I collapsed. “You know the door wasn’t locked right?” I would have been enraged if I wasn’t exhausted. “I don’t know why you decided to stand in there for three hours, you look awful.” He said between sips of coffee. I didn’t speak. “Oh and you don’t have to worry about that cult anymore, we were out on a hike and they saw an interesting rock. They decided to worship that instead.”

My relationship with Sam became pretty strained after I broke a chair over his head.          

Dreams From The Stars: Apocalypse How

In this series, we expose the dreams written by our wonderful KCR members. Today, Ahmad Dixon takes us through his post-apocalyptic nightmare.

 

I remember waking up last Wednesday and everything felt just a bit off. I really can’t properly describe what I felt but it was a more… crispy version of the normal existential dread you feel on a weekday. I initially blamed the spicy food I ate the previous night and went through my normal routine. I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, poured some orange juice, and switched on the local news. I thought it was peculiar that the anchors were either throwing up, crying, or both but I continued to watch because I wanted to catch the weather report to see if I needed a jacket. After one of the anchors pulled themselves together I learned that while I was asleep World War Three had apparently declared and the United States was fighting a brutal battle against all its enemies from all sides.

I can’t say that I was surprised by this new development but as a bleeding heart liberal I was pretty disappointed that my country was fighting another pointless war to preserve freedom or something. I tried to figure out what the war was about but at that point the newscasters were mumbling incoherently before cutting to commercial. I think the war was either about oil, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the South China Sea, Syria, a used car tent sale, or Eggo Homestyle Waffles. I was really hoping that it was about waffles, because that’s a cause I’ve always been willing to fight and die for.

I flicked off the television and contemplated my next move. I did the first rational thing that came to mind and checked my email. Apparently class hadn’t be cancelled due to Armageddon, and I needed the participation points, so I decided to go to school. I grabbed a coat out the closet (the forecast called for nuclear winter), put on my trusty gas mask, and got into the car.

My commute was fairly quick; on the freeway everyone was going the other way to try and get out of the city, but I kept having the swerve to avoid landmines. I accidentally hit one but thankfully it was a dud. That’s Russian manufacturing for you, or maybe we were fighting the Chinese? North Koreans? Honestly we could have been fighting the British for all I know, I wasn’t really paying attention. While in the car I was listening to NPR and it appeared that the Washington D.C. office had been taken over by a group of far-left communists, either that or they were just playing their normal morning programming. Again, not really paying attention.

When I finally did get to school the entire parking structure was empty, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I had parked up front on the first floor of parking structure three when suddenly, a sniper shot out both my front tires. I was fairly offended by this because it was obvious that they weren’t trying to kill me, just annoy me. As I walked away they shot out one of my headlights, jerk.

As I made my way through campus, I looked around and took stock of my environment. Graffiti was everywhere (“the end is nigh,” “God have mercy on our souls,” “help!”), there weren’t many students around but the few that were seemed to be in the midst of a severe mental breakdown, many of the windows were broken, and there was trash everywhere. So really a normal day at San Diego State University, I felt kinda silly wearing my gas mask.

Picture from: The Union Tribune

Over at East Commons the only people in the lecture hall were me and my Professor, who was banging her head against the whiteboard and didn’t notice me come in. I watched her do this for a good fifteen minutes, I felt it was rude to interrupt. She eventually turned around and asked why I was there.

“I’m on the border between an A and a B. I need as many participation points as possible to maintain my GPA.” I said as I took out a pencil to take notes.

“Oh dear God! Who cares about grades it’s the end of the world!”

“Yeah well, try telling that to my parents. They were pretty cross when I didn’t get on the Dean’s list last semester.

“Listen, the only reason I’m here is because my house got shelled and I have literally no where else to go. I am not in the mood to give a lecture, especially when you’re the only person in the room.”

I snapped.

“You should have said something on Blackboard.”

“Okay, please leave…

If tomorrow ever comes I’ll give you and everyone else in the class an A. Just don’t come back.”

 

My professor turned around and started banging her head against the wall again. Mom and Dad will be so proud that I’m doing so well this semester.

After I went back outside, I noticed that the sky had turned a sickly orange and kinda looked like it was on fire. A couple of seconds later the sun disappeared and black rain began to fall, covering the concrete in a tar like substance. Usually, I try to catch rain on my tongue, but that seemed like a pretty awful idea today. I decided to skip the other class I had that day and started texting my friends to ask if any of them had access to a bomb shelter. I didn’t get any responses immediately so I found a nice spot to get away from the rain, sat down, and waited.

The rain eventually stopped, so I started to emerge from my nook when I noticed the fire had spread to our library. As I watched our library burn down, I began whistling the national anthem. Suddenly, I got a text telling me to head east to get to the community civil defense shelter. I mentally prepared myself to spend a long period of time underground and walked down the street totally alone.

Dreamed by: Ahmad Dixon