HP 6

*This post will contain Harry Potter spoilers. If you have not read Harry Potter and do not want to be spoiled, please refrain from reading on.*

This week we will continue our examination of the beloved Harry Potter series with a peek into the wonder of the sixth book. For a look at my commentary on the previous installments, please see herehere, and here.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the calm before the storm. It’s tone is similar to that of Prisoner of Azkaban. There aren’t any upfront and personal confrontations with Voldemort, though he is still omnipresent and in this case the danger is more real than ever as people are dying and going missing left and right.

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HP 5

*This post will contain Harry Potter spoilers. If you have not read Harry Potter and do not want to be spoiled, please refrain from reading on.*

This week we will continue our exploration and analysis of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. For a look at my commentary on the previous installments, please see here and here.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix may be the most difficult book in the Harry Potter series. From the very beginning the tone is immediately different. It’s darker and much more adult. Even Harry is changed, being described as having the “pinched, slightly unhealthy look of someone who has grown a lot in a short space of time.” The book is based on confusion, lack of communication, and misunderstanding as well as an element of distrust. Nearly all the book’s problems stem from those roots. There’s just so much that goes wrong in this book and it’s painful to read because I care so much. We can connect some of the dots, but often, especially on the first reading, we’re just as lost as Harry and for that we feel his injustices and confusion doubly. In retrospect, it’s just as frustrating, but for different reasons. It’s somehow worse to see it all coming and not be able to do anything to stop it.

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Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

I hate the idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The novel is an abomination. It’s an affront to literature. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels of all time and I hate the idea of some parody, modern interpretation mucking it up. HOWEVER. I went to see the movie adaptation, and while it is still the most ridiculous premise, it was pretty awesome and may have turned me around a bit. JUST A BIT.

I am in no way saying this was a good movie. It wasn’t. The pacing was uneven. I felt like it galloped through all the little intricacies present in the novel. It never felt wholly cohesive. But, to put it on the Flop House Podcast scale of measurement, it was a good bad movie and I had fun watching it. The first scene where zombies attack and all the Bennet sisters whip out swords and knives from under their dresses may have made me squeal a little. The mashup of badass ladies with the delicacy of the period was oddly compelling. It was a very empowering film. The women did 90% of the saving and much ass kicking. And the fight choreography was pretty cool. It was also hilarious to see the ways they integrated zombies into what is essentially a love story. It was very strange. It was both the Jane Austen story and an action/horror flick. It shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it managed.

The casting wasn’t terrible either. The actors who played Elizabeth and Darcy had nice chemistry. Though I was a bit put off by Darcy at first. He has an almost Byronic thing going for him and this low, raspy voice, but it grew on me. My favorite scene, and this may be a spoiler so if you would like to remain unspoiled AVERT YOUR EYES, was Darcy’s first proposal. It had the dialogue of the original Austen text, but they worked in a fight scene and it was quite nice. I won’t lie. Funny and ridiculous, but nice. The other Bennet sisters were pretty forgettable except for Jane. Wickham was appropriately smarmy and slimy, and Bingley was entirely too attractive. Lady Catherine de Bourgh was reworked as not only Darcy’s aunt but the fiercest warrior in England, which was neat. Also Matt Smith played Mr. Collins and it was AMAZING. He played him very silly and it worked well.

Adaptations are strange and people, myself included, have a tendency to get very upset about how they are handled. I try to treat any adaptation of a work as a new thing in and of itself. The medium has a tendency to change things; even the best of adaptations have to be worked to fit the medium. Sometimes it works well, others less so. But the adaptation in no way tarnishes the original work. So this zombie thing can stand. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely. But it serves its own purpose. It’s just another way to take in Austen and that can’t be a bad thing.

Until next time!
xx

 

 

HP 4

*This post will contain Harry Potter spoilers. If you have not read Harry Potter and do not want to be spoiled, please refrain from reading on.*

The time has come for me to revisit my most beloved of stories, the Harry Potter series. See my musings on books one through three here. In this installment, I will discuss Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a book that I have read so many times my copy’s spine is in a very fragile and delicate condition.

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Hello there, dear friend.

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Legally Singing in the Rain

It’s amazing how some things can become a part of our cultural consciousness without our even being aware of it. The movie Singing in the Rain was released in 1952, before my parents were even born, never mind me. I mention this because Neil and I watched it for the first time the other day and I was pleasantly surprised by how familiar I found the soundtrack. I’d heard many of the songs before but never knew they were from the film.

For the uninitiated, Singing in the Rain is one of the most iconic musical movies of its time. Made in the fifties, it carries a deep nostalgia for the twenties, which, watching it sixty years later is fascinating. There were scenes and jokes that didn’t quite land with us, not knowing the punch line ourselves. I find it to be a lot like the nostalgia we currently have for the eighties. The film follows silent film star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) as the industry begins its shift to “talkies,” centering on the romance of Lockwood and the fiesty Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). It’s a really great movie with all the charm and earnestness that you only seem to get with old films. Also O’Connor’s comic timing as Cosmo is truly glorious.

But the great thing about the movie is the music! Of course, I knew about Singing in the Rain. It’s the title track! But I had no idea all these other songs were from the movie, namely, Make ‘Em Laugh, Moses Supposes (which I heard over and over during my stint as an iParty employee in high school), and Good Morning. Funnily enough, nearly all the songs featured in Singing in the Rain are actually from other films, from Babes in Arms with Judy Garland to as far back as the Hollywood Revue of 1929, from which the song Singing in the Rain even comes! The versions I’m familiar with are pretty much all from Singing in the Rain.

It’s wonderful how immersive a musical can be. There’s something about drama and comedy set to song and dance that just sucks me in. I’ve been really fascinated with musical soundtracks recently. I think Hamilton re-invigorated my love of Broadway, specifically to listening to them. You get this entire story, all these emotions, feelings, and events but accompanied by musical soliloquies, duets, and scoring. You get a complete story but set to music! What is not to love?

These last few days I’ve been obsessed with Legally Blonde: The Musical. It sounds like such a silly premise for a play, but the music is so good! I love singing along to it. Neil probably is going to kill me if he hears me sing “Oh my god you guys” around the house one more time (he’s a good sport). I actually watched that play when it was broadcast on MTV in 2007. I was into it then and I’m into it now. The title track toward the end is actually a really lovely and moving duet between Elle and Emmett; it has so much love and hope and despair. It gives me such feelings. But most of the tracks are upbeat and fun, which is a nice change of pace in this humdrum winter. Christian Borle, who originally played Emmett (who I really, really love in the musical), is actually in Something Rotten right now as Shakespeare and I am *tempted* to go see it when I’m in New York.

TL;DR Musicals are awesome. Go watch some.

Until next time!
xx

HP Books 1-3

This post contains Harry Potter spoilers.

I began this new year rereading Harry Potter for the first time in a while. So far, I’ve gone through the first three books (currently on Goblet of Fire). It feels really good to get back into this magical world, like meeting up with a really great friend you haven’t spoken to in years. It’s nice to see you still have so much in common.

Upon rereading, I’ve been noticing a lot of things I’d missed or forgotten and many things that make more sense or feel more meaningful in retrospect. It’s also interesting to take a look at the story from a little bit older perspective, with an undergraduate degree and three years out of school. I find myself constantly praising Jo’s genius. There’s so many beautiful breadcrumbs early on in the story. I’ve no idea whether she meant it that way or retrofitted details but either way it makes for some breathtaking storytelling.

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My lovely UK editions of books 1-3

This is a book series that ended nearly a decade ago, so forgive me if this gets spoiler heavy. If you’ve never read Harry Potter, first of all, what are you doing? Stop reading this post and go read Harry Potter. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Okay, now that everyone here has read Harry Potter, let the spoilers commence.

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Review: My True Love Gave to Me

I meant to post this review a few weeks ago when it was a little more relevant, but the time got away from me. My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of twelve holiday themed short stories curated by author Stephanie Perkins. This is the “cup of hot cocoa and a warm blanket” of books. Each story is a tale of romance, written by some of the most delightful writers out there, including Perkins herself, Rainbow Rowell, Kelly Link, Holly Black, and more!

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It’s no secret I am a fan of the holiday love story. (Love Actually, get at me.) And I am a huge Stephanie Perkins fan, so it was with great excitement and anticipation that I sat down to read this anthology. Neil gave it to me for Christmas (<3) and I started reading it a few days before Christmas. It felt very appropriate. The stories were well written and also just nice to read. It’s the kind of book that just makes you feel good, something one might need during the holiday season or any season for that matter. I enjoyed it immensely.

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On Turning 25

I’ve been grappling with what it means to be 25 in the weeks leading up to my birthday tomorrow. I feel silly that I even have feelings about it. I’ve gone around the sun one more time. I’ve done it this many times! Hooray! Nonetheless, I’ve got all the telltale signs of a self-diagnosed quarter life crisis. It’s hard to feel like turning 25 isn’t a big deal. I’m smack in the middle of my twenties and what do I have to show for it except all the preconceived expectations and notions I weigh myself down with? I usually love birthdays. Birthdays are about celebrating the year I’ve had, looking forward to whatever is ahead, going to dinner with my family, and feeding my friends chips, cupcakes, and my undying adoration/love.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little more introspective about my day of birth. With each advancing year, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps asking, “What are you doing? Where are you going? Why are you here? And why don’t you even know the answers to any of these questions? Shouldn’t you be doing something?”

I think it’s fair to say that I’m doing pretty okay as far as being a human person goes. I’m going into my fourth year in a job that I think I’m pretty good at and treats me very well. I’ve got a great, very engaged family as well as the most magnificent and glorious friends a girl could ask for. Neil is an amazingly supportive partner and one of the best people I know. I’m getting more creative work done now than I have since I was in college. I’m happy with most aspects of my life, but I still have this itch for more, but I don’t know exactly what that “more” entails.

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Review: Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut is a  bizarre, wonderful madman. His novels often read like fever dreams, something touching on reality, resembling it, but only just. It never quite gets all the way there. There is always something in the story that makes the reader stop and go, but wait! Something is not right here. And sometimes that something is subtle as hell. So it goes in Cat’s Cradle.

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This novel is one of those books where I was tempted to look everything up to see what was true and what was fiction. It’s written in a memoir style, which lends the story an authoritativeness and plausible credibility that nicely juxtaposes the utter incredulity of the story.

The novel follows our protagonist and narrator John, who calls himself Jonah, and the ways in which his life gets tangled up with a little island called San Lorenzo and with the Hoenikker family, a very strange bunch indeed. While unusual, the book is very compelling, drawing you along despite its meandering, posits, and musings. Though I had a few guesses about where things were heading, I nevertheless still found myself routinely surprised by the actions of those John interacted with. A series of vignettes and conversations push the action on, leading to its ultimate and inevitable end.

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A very brief treatise on rereading

There are, relatively, about a kajillion books out there. Each of these lovelies are constructed in different ways. Some tell new stories, some revisit old ones, but all of them are tales I either have or have not absorbed. In short, I get weird about rereading. I love to re-read. There’s nothing quite like revisiting a story you love. It feels warm, comforting, and familiar. It’s like a warm bath or a hug from someone you know really cares about you. Books you’ve loved feel a lot like home.

However, whenever I am indulging in a little re-reading (I’m looking at you Harry Potter), I always start to worry a bit about all those kajillion of books. In my short 24 (nearly 25) years on this planet, I know I’ve only put a tiny, baby fist sized−dent in the thousands upon thousands of reading options out there. When I linger on something I’ve already read I get this little pang of guilt. A voice says, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’VE ALREADY BEEN HERE! MOVE ON!”

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Oh, my beloved.

But I’ve started to become annoyed with that voice. I love reading as many new stories as I can. I learn so much from new authors and their styles. They have much to offer and it is my ambition to absorb as much literature in my lifetime as is humanly possible, but I also don’t want to feel bad when I revisit stories that have been important to me. Studying those tales is just as rich and vital. So that is my goal this year: I am going to restructure my reading life a little and just read whatever I want, whenever I want, including but not limited to books I have read in the past. Saying that out loud sounds silly. Of course, you should be able to do that. You are a grown ass adult Jordan. But sometimes one needs a little reminding.

Here’s to 2016 and stories of all kinds: past, present, and future!

Until next time.
xx