Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hex and The Witch

CRAZED! December Review Dec 7/Dec14 Double Issue
Hex and The Witch
Different Mediums On the Classic Scare
By Annette Sugden

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You may remember back in October…

I planned and promised a comparison/contrast of Robert Eggers film, The Witch and the novel, HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I had recently finished both, and it was Halloween season. Still back then the election and personal issues were making it challenging to get to working on it. I was confident though that Hillary Clinton would be elected president and all would calm down enough so I’d be caught up. Then Trump won the Electoral vote, thus making him President Elect. As a result, this review kept getting pushed aside for other content.
The review I originally thought I’d write isn’t going to happen. It’s now been a longtime since I had HEX in my hands or watched The Witch. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact given events that happened in the world since I completed reading and viewing those two works, I’ve had time to think about the human propensity towards mass hysteria, the fear of anything “other,” and gone back and forth on whether I actually like HEX, or if ultimately I found it to be a disappointment. I’ve never doubted my thoughts on The Witch.

Let's begin with The Witch

In Eggers’ The Witch, set in 17th century Massachusetts, a puritan family have a small farm far from any village or town, but on the edge of a large forest. The family’s oldest daughter, Thomasin loses the youngest son, still an infant, during a game of hide and seek. A witch had taken him, and we see an old crone hovering over him with a knife and then consuming his entrails. Right away the film establishes where it is historically and is rich with classic themes straight out of Nathaniel Hawthorne and even older tales and folklore, including the idea that the woods are the stronghold of an older, pagan world, represent the subconscious and the supernatural, while the cultivated earth, the towns, the farms represent the conscious mind, Christianity, civilization and safety.
The Witch’s brilliance lies in it’s use of elements gleaned from the historical elements of the Salem Witch Trials and the witch hysteria that occurred in the early puritan colonies, including covens of women meeting to commune with the Devil in the forest at night, consuming infants for power, flying in the air, and the Devil as a black, horned, goat figure.
In addition The Witch’s power comes from how many things are left open to the audience’s interpretation. Is it a straight scary period witch story? Is it an allegory using elements from history? Is it a commentary on fear and suspicion of female power and mass hysteria? I’d say it’s all of these things. It has both narrative and avant garde film elements. There’s a fever dreamlike quality to it that lends it both beauty and creepiness. For me, although I also like HEX, a different take on similar ideas, but set in contemporary New England, The Witch is a far superior work, and a lasting classic that borders on the literary and the surreal.

I’m not sure how HEX will fair over time

Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s novel, HEX is what I’d call an easy, satisfying read with intelligent elements. It’s mostly well written brain candy and if it were a horror movie, it would be creepy and scary as hell. We’re talking a movie that would invade your nightmares for it’s very visually terrifying witch spectre of Katherine who’s cursed the small village of Black Spring, since being tried, convicted and sentenced to death for witchcraft in the 17th century and who also haunts everyone in it. As a result of this the entire town has agreed to a social media black out, and does everything it can to keep the town’s secret from getting into the outside world.
Heuvelt successfully melds modern technological themes with the folkloric and Hawthornian themes of the big dark forest, witch scares and disease with Dutch American characters. His creation of the witch Katherine is also a masterpiece. Just imagining a ghost who materializes anywhere, including inside houses and without warning, who “stares” at people with sewn shut eyes and sewn shut mouth made me grateful that this image wasn’t on the book cover. It also made me excited for this book to be adapted into a horror film.
I honestly think it would be more successful as a film. At times I even felt I was reading an extended treatment for a screenplay. That’s not always bad, but I prefer books to be books. Even if I hope and imagine that someone might adapt a book into a movie, I don’t want to see the obvious, classic three act film script structure in the novel itself.
The other issue I have with HEX is related to the “translation” of the book into English. Why? Heuvelt didn’t really have someone translate his book. He rewrote his book for an American audience, changing the setting from the Netherlands to New England, USA, altering parts of the novel in other ways, and changing the ending. Nancy Forest-Flier is credited with the translation, but I’m guessing she consulted on the English with Heuvelt instead to ensure his English and Americanisms were all correct. That’s not translating a book but “rebooting” it for a different audience because the author thinks the audience won’t get it. I found that insulting. Most readers can understand and relate to stories set in foreign countries and cultures.
Frankly while I finished HEX in a day, and found it a nice diversion, I had to work hard to overlook plot holes and things that didn’t make sense. In addition as a huge fan of the T.V. series Supernatural, I couldn’t work past the thinking that all the town had to do was dig up the witch’s grave, and then salt and burn her bones. Problem solved really. Sam and Dean could have easily freed the town. Perhaps had Heuvelt not changed his original setting to the United States, this nagging idea would never have come to mind.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should skip HEX. It’s a great read on a cold, dreary day. Plus I really hope somebody makes it into a movie.
The Witch gets an A+
HEX gets a B

© Annette Sugden

Annette Sugden is a writer, artist, performer, dancer, actor, and a bunch of other adjectives. She’s also the founder and managing editor of CRAZED! Her work has appeared here, in, Gentle Strength Quarterly, Bearfoot Magazine, and Beyond Baroque Magazine. Some of her past poetry was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Best of the Net.

Crazed! is an online lifestyle, film, arts, and entertainment zine and Annette Sugden’s personal blog.
Crazed! accepts submissions including reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, and personal essay. We are also always looking for material to review and people to interview. Send queries via email to Annette at or

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Person Of The Year

CRAZED! Op Ed Dec 2016 Double Issue Dec 7/Dec 14, 2016
Person Of The Year
Try Poodle of the Year
By Annette Sugden


In Case You're Under a Rock...

I mean, I’m not judging your lifestyle choices, just thinking you might not have a wifi signal, but Trump (I can't choke out “President Elect”) was named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine. It's a yuge honor as you can imagine, it's bigly, believe me. But just not the same as when it was “Man of the Year,” because now women, even ugly women, women who menstruate, women who don't like him, women who complain about non consensual pussy grabs also qualify. He didn't say this, just implied it at one of his “thank you” rallies where he stands at a podium so brainwashed angry and/or racist homophobic people can hail him and shout stuff like “lock her up!” It's all very unpresidented type behavior on Trump’s part.
How do I know that he complained about Person vs Man of the Year? This clip below from the Washington Post where he makes a huge point of it and asks a mostly white male audience to vote via applause for which is better:
Now to be clear, I’m not on the PC, Trigger/Spoiler Warning, you better call me by whatever the non-offensive term of the minute is for how I choose to identify myself is or I will start a flame war with you on the Internet type of feminist who isn't completely cis gendered (I’m about 60/40 to 50/50 f/m but term myself female and am fine with either she or they pronouns) and who also identifies as polyamorous, but that's another topic. Still the debate about the terms man vs person for things like awards of the year is long over. I mean if I ever won Time’s award, as a woman, I don't want to receive a “Man of the Year” award, nor do I want to insist that it be renamed “Woman of the Year,” for the time period that I was chosen. Plus no gender is neither above nor below “personhood.” I understand that in these changing times where white males are soon to be the minority group, and where more people are talking about gender fluidity, different definitions of masculinity (and femininity), plus that gender isn't actually binary, that they are feeling frightened and threatened. Believe me. I’m weird, a freak. Much of who I am I’ve spent huge hunks of my life afraid to express even to myself. Welcome to the party. Maybe you could open a dialogue with those of us who live alternative lifestyles and have different gender or relationship or sexual identities than cis gender, monogamy, or heterosexuality? Are views and identities aren't contagious. We aren't trying to turn you into us or join us. We just want to talk, to accept each other and to work together.

Oh and This Also Happened...

So probably you haven't been under your rock too long, and maybe you knew about Wikileaks and DNC hack suspicions that perhaps Russia was involved in, but nobody would confirm because they didn't want to appear biased towards Clinton or any other not Trump candidate for fear of influencing the election. You heard about that back in October, right? Well, I have bad news and worse news.
The bad news is that the following US Intelligence agencies all agree that the Russians definitely used cyber attacks to influence and disrupt the presidential election to ensure Trump won and to undermine our democracy:
Oh it's all of them. There are 17. You might have been in wifi range when the FBI said they didn't agree with the CIA’s assessment of Russian involvement and motives, but they now say they never dissented and the CIA is correct.
The only person who claims he doesn't believe that the Russian government, his new bff, Vladimir Putin, were responsible and had a hand in installing him as, (did I say that out loud?), er electing him Russian Poodle of the United States.
Note: I can't take credit for “Russian Poodle.” It's from Nicholas Kristof’s brilliant New York Times Op Ed piece, I highly recommend you read it. In fact read papers like the New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian to stay on top of non fake news coverage.
What's the worse news in my opinion? It's that many Trump supporters and some Republicans don't care that a foreign power’s interference in our democratic election has undermined our democracy, threatened its survival and insured that a candidate favorable to their interests and/or that they can manipulate is elected President of the United States. I don't care who you voted for, or how you feel about Hillary Clinton, you should be angry. You should demand that this be thoroughly investigated. You should actively question the integrity, the validity of the election results. The fact that Russian Intelligence under orders from the Russian government hacked institutions and systems, leaked documents, and published propaganda - in the new double plus good speech “fake news,” to influence the US government and undermine democracy should not be something a majority of folks just shrug our shoulders, and say “whatever” about, or worse have our heads up our asses and be in denial over.


While You're Out From Under There...

Under where? Admit it. You said underwear. Anyway...Maybe you just are too tired or depressed or shy to call and write elected officials about things or to attend protest marches, but you can resist in other ways. You can subscribe to publications Trump hates because they criticize him or just show video tape of him actually saying stuff he says he doesn't. For example you can subscribe to Vanity Fair, a magazine whose food critic gave Trump Grill a negative review:
And Trump’s response on Twitter:
Vanity Fair is having a special right now. For $5 you get an annual subscription that includes print and digital access.
You can watch Saturday Night Live, a show Trump regularly goes on Twitter rants about after Alec Baldwin impersonates him in a sketch on the show.
You can tweet at him:
You can stay informed, fact check everything you read, including Trump’s tweets. Here's an app to fact check Trump Tweets:
Here's a website to fact check news:
You can stop hitting share on social media before you fact check links to articles.
You can start a blog. You can make art about how you feel. You can write plays. You can write songs. You can have in person conversations with people who have differing views from your own.
Trump says in order to unify as a country we must all join his movement. He's wrong. In order to unify, we don't have to agree or assimilate to views and lifestyles that aren't our own. We have to talk to each other, to dialogue, and be open. We have to understand that coming together doesn't mean consensus with a “winner” of an election. That's not freedom. That's not democracy. That's populistic fascism. We have to start communicating and stop trolling. Hate and fear aren't helping. Hiding won't help. Elections and democracy aren't sports. “Losers” don't have to shut up and be trampled by the “winners.”

©Annette Sugden

Annette Sugden is a writer, artist, performer, dancer, actor, and a bunch of other adjectives. She's founder and Managing Editor of CRAZED! Her work has appeared here, in, Gentle Strength Quarterly, Bearfoot Magazine, and Beyond Baroque Magazine. Some of her past poetry was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Best of the Net.

CRAZED! is an online politics, lifestyle, film, arts, and entertainment zine.
Crazed! accepts submissions including reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, and op ed/personal essay. We are also always looking for material to review and people to interview. Send queries via email to Annette at
For Submission guidelines go here:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Let A Smile Be Your Scimitar by Marie Lecrivain

CRAZED! December 2016 Dec 1, 2016 Issue
December Literature

Let A Smile Be Your Scimitar
By Marie Lecrivain

mona lisa and crowds.jpg

      The plexiglass window of Big Blue Bus #5 turns into a fun house mirror. My round face and stubborn chin elongate into a Mona Lisa Mockery. In the spirit of self-deprecation, I add a small closed-mouth grin for the finishing touch.
      As I gaze into my not-eyes, I realize what Da Vinci saw - and the rest of us often miss.

      On a lonely April day in Paris, I’m inside the Louvre under the precise heat of I.M. Pei’s pyramids getting patted down by French guards who, despite their machine-gun accoutrements, are much more polite than any TSA worker ever will be.
      Declared “safe”, I stumble from room to room filled with the best and brightest of man’s artistic aspiration. Drunk on beauty and wonder, my head about to explode from too much visual nectar, I spy a polite pandemonium to my left - and see you - M. Lisa, high up on the east wall, ensconced in glass, a black velvet rope separating you from the great unwashed.
      I come close and watch to see if you’ll close your lovely eyes against the lightning flash of a thousand cell phone cameras - but you smile on - eyes wide open.

      Even Snopes can’t determine if it takes a greater or lesser amount of muscles to smile or to frown. And though it may conserve energy, I know, M. Lisa, that you understand how abysmal some days can be. You've given me a weapon I can wield at need, and with purpose, to pass as acceptable, and to move through my day without too many questions as to why I am here.

© 2016 marie c lecrivain

Bio: Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor/publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles,  jewelry designer, and writer-in-residence at her apartment. Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Edgar Allen Poetry JournalThe Los Angeles ReviewNonbinary ReviewThe Poetry Salzburg ReviewSpillwayOrbisA New Ulster, and others. She's the author of several volumes of poetry and fiction, including Philemon's Gambit (© 2016 International Word Bank Press), which is available on

December Editorial

CRAZED! December 2016 Dec 1, 2016 Issue
December Editorial

Christmas Bah Humbug

By Annette Sugden

It’s December...

I can’t get into the holidays at all this year. Last year my holiday tree was out and my window was lit up and decorated. This year I can’t get into the excitement and joy of decorating and have zero anticipation for the coming holidays at all. I have personal reasons which I will write about in another essay, plus like a lot of liberals, I’m still depressed about the results of the U.S. Presidential election. Still, CRAZED! must go on regardless of whether I have the Christmas blahs or not. In fact the ‘zine finally has it’s own domain here at

This Month in CRAZED!

In the December issues we’ll have articles that the election pushed forward, including the promised reviews of the novel, HEX contrasted with the film Witch, and my review of Ellyn and Robbie’s new album, Skywriting with Glitter. I’ll also continue my multi part personal essay series on abuse and addiction, and there will be content from at least one other writer besides me. This last is super exciting because without other contributors to CRAZED!, the ‘zine would just be my blog and just my point of view. That’s not what I envisioned for it at all. In fact I expect the magazine to take shape and evolve as more CRAZED! voices besides my own influence it.

This Week in CRAZED!

The first week of December is another light week. However we have a wonderful piece by Los Angeles writer, Marie Lecrivain and this editorial. I realize it’s another light week, but that seems to be how things are going as CRAZED! goes from being a project to a full fledged weekly online magazine.

Next Week in CRAZED!

Next week will be a fuller issue with three articles, including two reviews. For now enjoy Marie’s excellent piece!
CRAZED! is an online lifestyle, film, arts, and entertainment zine and Annette Sugden’s personal blog.
Crazed! accepts submissions including reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, and personal essay. We are also always looking for material to review and people to interview. Send queries via email to Annette at

Annette Sugden is a writer, artist, performer, dancer, actor, and a bunch of other adjectives. Her work has appeared here, in, Gentle Strength Quarterly, Bearfoot Magazine, and Beyond Baroque Magazine. Some of her past poetry was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Best of the Net.

© Annette Sugden