TCON and why I love accronyms

There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.

Yesterday I talked a little bit about my favourite book in The Chronicles of Narnia and fantasy. Today, I wanted to share more with you about a couple series that really made me the reader that I am today.

I’ve come across several people who credit the Harry Potter series with teaching them a love for reading. As I’ve talked about on here before I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t love books. I was familiar with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe very early in my life. But only that one. We had a VHS copy of an animated version of the story and I spent a lot of time in my childhood watching that movie. Then one Sunday morning at church this little girl sitting next to me had this book called The Magician’s Nephew. The cover looked intriguing to me so I asked her about it. She told me it was like TLTWaTW but from before it. I think this was the first time I heard about there being series of books. It sort of freaked me out. I knew the story-line of Aslan and the four Pevensies so well it threw me that there could be MORE to the story. So I asked my mom about them. It must have been close to Christmas/My Birthday because I received the whole set in a box pretty soon after. And then I read them. Continue reading “TCON and why I love accronyms”

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monitor lizards & childlike awe

Yesterday I went to Busch Gardens with my friend Jenna. We went with the express purpose of petting kangaroos and wallabies.

wallaby

Don’t you just want to pet him? It was pretty cool, but here’s the anecdote.

After we pet the marsupials we wandered around the park to see the cheetahs and meerkats. And finally we made our way into the section with Busch Garden’s Animal Ambassadors and the Cave of Curiosities. I found out that Burmese Pythons and Boa Constrictors make me want to hurl. And bats totally freak me out.

We passed a family standing in front of the monitor lizards. They were surprisingly active when we passed by and the little girl in the family persistently declared that one of them was attempting to escape.

don't want to pet him

It made me chuckle and remember that iconic scene in Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone when Harry visits the zoo and releases the python. I haven’t talked much about Pottermore here yet (it’s sort of unique and difficult to describe) but this scene was fairly cool in the “experience”.

The zoo, the aquarium, MOSI, all of these places you visit as a kid and are amazed are so much fun for me to revisit. It’s like caffeine for my imagination. I’m overwhelmed with fanciful ideas and nostalgic memories from my childhood. Theme parks are designed to entertain but I think they also do a good job of revealing the bits of everyday magic. The sort we forget and often pass over.

Speaking of everyday magic – Publix Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream is just perfectly delicious and magical. I’d suggest dipping out a scoop or two and settling in for some evening reading.

Thank You, J.K.

In case you haven’t caught on yet my system for blog posts looks a little something like this – Saturday I write Mon-Thur’s blogs and then Friday is usually inspired day of. I thought a lot about what I would write this week. I knew it would likely have something to do with Harry Potter. I figured I’d write something about the movie, say farewell to a completed decade of entertainment. Blah, blah, blah.

However, the experience we had at the movie theatre last night was SO BAD that I’m still seething with rage. I thought about writing of the absolutely terrible management of a particularly bad situation, but figured that just needs to be expressed to MUVICO and I won’t bore you.

At my job I get plenty of time to contemplate as I stare at pools and make sure people are safe. The thing that popped into my head as I roamed around our splash pool this morning was to write a breakdown of what I’ve learned from J.K.Rowling a la the Summer Reading posts I’ve been doing.

Harry Potter first entered my world 12 years ago in the form of a birthday present from my former Pastor’s wife. She is British and was thrilled to give me the first two books because they’d garnered so much attention and claimed so many awards. I was immediately entranced. I was a kid, so the made up words were fun for me, suspension of belief was easy since I’d been an avid fantasy reader for awhile, and I loved Hagrid’s umbrella wand. For several years I had a pretty singular Harry Potter experience. The controversy about the books started a little bit after the third book (my favourite) and since we were in fairly conservative circles most of my friends weren’t reading them (also, most of my friends didn’t like to read). In 2007 I was traveling around on staff with Student Life Camp and for the first time I experienced Harry Potter in community.

I’ve read and re-read the books countless times. Thanks to abcfamily we’ve all seen more of the movies for Years 1-3 than we could ever wish. But this is all about the world of Harry Potter. What I want to tell you about is what I’ve learned, so here goes:

1. The story is in the details – and boy did Rowling show this off. From the smallest, tiniest, most seemingly inconsequential aspects she constructed a complete world. Somehow, she managed to paint the forest AND the trees so that at one point the reader is overwhelmed by the layers and complexity of the story, but just as easily shown the overarching plot. She really packed it in the last few chapters of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. Details from the first chapter of the first book were brought back full circle in the final pages of the last. It made the whole experience complete and that much more real.

2. You can write silly things in the midst of dark serious things – Rowling also proved that children can read it. Let’s be honest, life is rarely a singly-faceted experience. Even in desperately sad situations there is hope and humour. In the midst of mirth a bittersweet note can strike you as you realize someone long gone would have loved sharing in that moment. Emotions are varied, complex, and challenging to convey from one person to the next, let alone several hundred characters. These emotions and ideas are not pitch perfect the entire series, but they are impressive.

3. It may be difficult, but you can make your characters really suffer – this is something that puts the Harry Potter series miles away from most of its YA Lit counterparts. The characters go through realistically devastating experiences. There’s orphans coming out of everyone’s ears. Misunderstood teenagers run rampant, but are forced to take on adult roles instead of coddled or ignored. As I read Deathly Hallows I kept thinking how hard it was going to be for Rowling to kill Harry. I wasn’t writing much back then, but I operated under the conviction that I could never kill a character I’d written and gotten to know as well as I presume she has Harry. I still have a hard time conceiving the thought process that lead to that plot development. Maybe it was there from the beginning and it made it easier. I don’t really know, but I sensed her hesitation in the last bit of the novel. I felt the deaths of Hedwig and many other characters as well as George’s injury were her attempts to appease the muses that demanded Harry’s death. That  could just be my over active imagination, but I was hugely impressed. And unprepared.

4. You can make your own rules and be a successful writer – This article goes into a lot more detail. But suffice it to say I’m proud that she’s been writing her own rules. She was careful shopping the movie rights, she’s been careful with the e-book rights, she’s a smart lady. I’m not even going to criticize and say she’s being greedy. I think it’s brilliant. With a move like Pottermore she’s making a concerted effort to knock Amazon of its monopoly driven high horse. Keeping control of the e-books will give smaller authors the courage to do the same.

There could be a lot of discussion of the translation of books to movies, where Rowling seems to have let people down, what the future looks like for her as a writer, but all I know is that if one day I come anywhere close to touching a portion of the amazing story she created with my writing I’d be happier than words could convey. Imagine being able to claim that your work inspired at least two generations to read.

For twelve years of reading wonder and ten years of movie magic, J.K. Rowling, I want to say thanks. You planted seeds in this little girl’s head. I waited awhile before claiming to be an author, but you’ll never know how grateful I am for you providing something for me to aspire to.

Author’s Disclaimer: This may be a bit too mushy and nostalgic. I wrote it with less than four hours of sleep under my belt and after a long day at work and a lunch meeting. Apologies if it was too sappy. Right now, I mean every word.

Original Works – Distraction

I wrote this poem the week of Pt. 1’s release. Today will echo a similar countdown toward the premiere of Pt.2. In anticipation, I thought I’d share this little gem with you. Enjoy.

Distraction, or How I spent the day waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1

8:00 am, shut off alarm, 16 hours until it starts

brush teeth, make breakfast

10:00 am, homework, iTunes playlist, 14 hours

left to wait, contemplate what to wear, keep doing

homework

12:00, eating lunch, play with puppy, watch

two episodes of Conan, 12 hours, contemplate

details: books vs. movies, hope nothing disappoints

2:00 pm, avoiding homework, don’t like Faulkner,

distract with Twitter and Facebook and YouTube,

find music, download, throw sock at puppy, 10 hours

4:00 pm, proctor CPR test for Gina, discuss life,

college, weddings, and very important thing happening

in 8 hours… promise not to dress up like a dork

6:00 pm, showered, blow-dried hair, make-up,

jewelry, attention to tiny details, texting Pam, and Daniel, and Jenna,

prepare to drive to Tampa, 6 hours left

8:00 pm, dinner with mom, discuss friends’ wedding this

weekend, wonder what Shepherd’s pie is, keep texting and

checking Twitter, 4 hours seems so long

10:00 pm, sitting in the lobby, listening to mom talk about work,

call little sister, tease her about how she says “button”, sounds

like “bu’un”, 2 hours, someone brought a trivia card game

11:00 pm, move from queue to theatre, playing game on my

phone, answering movie trivia on screen, contemplating best

time to go buy a drink, never happens, 1 hour (and 2 minutes, apparently)

12:02 am, previews start, Harrison Ford is in a movie

called Cowboys and Aliens? giggle, stupid looking Nicolas

Cage movie, blah, blah, blah, and finally!

12:22 am, beginning of the end, 10 years of reading books

and seeing movies, a generation’s imagination captured by

a story of witches and wizards, this movie is beautiful

2:38 am, mind blown