“Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” – Douglas Adams

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“Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

“One Thursday lunchtime the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the galaxy is a very strange and startling place.” – DouglasAdams.com

See the thing about Douglas Adams is as a “nerd/geek” person I was meant to have read him years ago. I didn’t. I lived through most of my young life not knowing the difference between Douglas Adams and Michael Douglas (after learning the latter I was able to deduce the former). Regardless, I didn’t think “Hitchhikers Guide” was going to be the be all end all of nerd chic.

In a way I was not wrong. I’m glad I finally read it – it’s one of those Nerd Bucket-List items I think. Star Trek, check, comic books, check, Douglas Adams, hey look at me; Check! But it also wasn’t the be all end all of books either I don’t think. It’s absolutely brilliant and as you know from my opinions on Dirk Gently I just love Adams’ writing. He writes in a way that you would speak – which is a great way to hear a story. I would believe I am sitting down and listening to someone weave a tale to me; and it’s beautiful. Moreover, he speaks of these huge, large, undefinable concepts in ways that just hit you in the face with the simplicity. He relates all of life together in a cosmic circle, all while having it do double backflips off a diving board into a bowl of soup. I don’t know, there’s something super perfect about his story telling. And yet something about it just doesn’t “click” in that “oh, that’s why he’s a genius” way. The hype was comparative to the experience, but yet it wasn’t.

I think the simplest way I can understand this very conflicting experience is that I’m simply more of a Fantasy Dork and less of  Sci-Fi one. Do I love Star Trek, you betcha but I love the relationships and the exploration of far away (fanciful) lands more than I care about anything space related. I’m a Tolkein, Rowling, Euripides, Kripke, Dungeons and Dragons nerd. And that’s okay! I’m glad I took the time to branch out and try a different thing. I’m even more glad I liked it! But I don’t think that Sci-Fi is always gonna be a genre for me. Dirk Gently is something I can get into (maybe ’cause of the Sherlockian undertones?) and I can definitely enjoy Star Trek but given the choice between Space and Magic I’ll choose magic every time.

This leads me into a tiny segue I didn’t quite mean to take but hey, as Robert Frost always yaps about who wouldn’t want to take the road less traveled right? So, sometimes I feel like a bad nerd. I know that sounds weird so I’ll explain. I’m not particularly nerdy about anything. I mean, I am, I’m obsessed with fricken everything. But I don’t fit in to ‘a thing’. I’m not “the science nerd” or “the magic nerd” or “the computer nerd” or “the history nerd” I am just a little bit of everything. I collect small pieces of every fandom and I hold onto the little bits I like. I am the Potter nerd, the Supernatural nerd, the superhero nerd, the zombie nerd, the video game nerd, the myth and folklore nerd, the horror nerd… but I’m never fully any one thing. I know those of you who have made it this far are going “Stop, stop, stop you’re the Harry Potter nerd ya Muggle!” or “You’re the Supernatural nerd, ya dumb moose!” well okay, yes. Those two I can safely say I’m pretty much King of (hey speaking of, did you know that Curtis Armstrong who played Metatron in Supernatural created and co-hosted “King of the Nerds” cool huh?) *cough* the point is there are people out there who know way more about both things than I do and who could take me down any day of the week. I’m just “average”. I’m pretty much average in everything.

I used to think – about three minutes ago before my brain started on this tangent – that that meant I wasn’t a good nerd. I spend spent a lot of time thinking that I wasn’t fitting in with my friend groups because I didn’t like things the way they did. I know that’s stupid and something you’re supposed to feel at 15 not 20something almost thirty. But I also think that’s the thing about life is that we don’t ever really get to feel secure. Maybe some of us do. Or maybe some of us just fake it better – so well in fact that we’re lying even to ourselves. I don’t like lying though so that’s hard for me to grasp. It’s okay to like one thing, or all things, or no things. It’s okay to like something with all your heart but someone else still knows the material better. It just means you can have deeper conversations about it. This is really cheesy and has nothing to do with Douglas Adams.

Or maybe it has everything to do with him.

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“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” – Douglas Adams

dirk-gentlys-holistic-detective-agencyDirk Gently is a Holistic detective who believes in the interconnectedness of all things. He uses seemingly disconnected happenstances to solve the larger problems. I feel this is the most acute way I can describe the book/the character without giving away enough to spoil anything. I feel that this novel, as with most things, you should go into it completely blind and come out even more blind but with a sense of knowing why.

I watched the new BBC show of the same title recently and decided to read the book(s) to compare them. I should note that this is the first thing I have ever read by Douglas Adams (this is also apparently something that should cause me to hide behind furniture while other nerds glare at me or stare opened mouthed while I awkwardly fidget with loose threads on my jeans). Anyway, back on topic, I watched the BBC Show and fell in love with the absolute weirdness of it. I loved Dirk, Todd, Amanda, Bart, Farah, Ken, the Rowdy Three (everyone). I loved the plot even though it was impossible to follow (in the good way) and I said to myself “self, read the book! It’s probably brilliant!” Now for those of you who may not be aware I am not good with certain elements of sci-fi. Until very recently I could barely handle Doctor Who. I love Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, but all of the spacey stuff makes my head spin. So someone like Douglas Adams had never even been on my radar because I just knew I wouldn’t be smart enough to follow it. Quantum Physics and all that. Since I liked the show so much though I figured I could handle the book.

Only the book I read was not the show I watched. A fair warning to all people: The show and the book are only similar in that Dirk is a character and he is a self proclaimed Holistic Detective – you can leave everything else you know at the door.

Anyway, back to this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was not the show, in fact it was wholly different, but it was fantastic. It was confusing to me and I had no idea what was happening until it was over but that’s kind of life isn’t it? There was just about every sci-fi element you could want and it was all prettily composed into a narrative that made it seem as though no time had passed at all when in actuality the sun had lowered in the sky and my weekend was half gone. In the good way.

I loved the way Adams’ wrote as well – instead of saying “an old bicycle” he’d say “the corpse of a bicycle” just little word changes like that – or whole sentences comprised of nothing that somehow say everything. Brilliant. It’s no wonder so many people idolize him. I was silently of the opinion he was overrated to be honest, but I guess that’s something people say when they haven’t experienced the thing yet. (Also no disrespect meant to the dearly departed – I simply am stating personal facts as they are relevant.)

Anyway, do not read the book expecting the show. Do not watch the show expecting the book. Do however indulge in both.

 

“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” – Jo Rowling

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Magizoologist Newt Scamander comes to port in New York in 1926 amidst a rather tremulous setting: New York seems to be under attack from a silent mysterious force. When his own mysterious case containing a variety of rare and exotic creatures is misplaced and multiple magical creatures are released into New York Newt not only has the task of finding and collecting the creatures before harm can come to them but also of avoiding the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) who finds him quite suspect.

With the help of a confounded Muggle, a Legilimens, and a reluctant heroine, Newt will embark on an adventure that he hadn’t quite planned on.

As a hardcore Potterhead (though I never much took to the nickname to be honest) I eagerly lap up just about anything Rowling puts on paper. I read the original FBWTFT text book and was thoroughly entertained but the screenplay THE SCREENPLAY. Ugh. The movie was beautiful, absolutely visually stunning! (Yates, Kloves, Heyman are a power trio I cannot even begin to praise enough. Add James Howard on score and my God you’ve got the makings of perfection!)

So when I got the screenplay for Christmas I just about cried (I cry over everything, it’s a perk of being me). But I was so excited to have a way to stay inside the world for a while more. The screenplay is of course just that – the script. It was therefore, obviously, everything I expected (having seen the movie multiple times). But Rowling lends herself to perfection and the screeplay is written beautifully with illustration throughout and colorful imagery in the scene settings.

Absolute perfection.

I highly recommend treating yourself to this written component.

“Scrappy Little Nobody” – Anna Kendrick

First completed book of 2017 and we’re only on day one! Good way to break in the new year. 


Now, Scrappy Little Nobody is a memoir of sorts – a collection of stories – from Kendrick’s humble rise to stardom. Have you never heard of Anna Kendrick? That’s okay, not many people have. 

I first came to know of Kendrick through Twilight – she made Jess my favourite character. Then I saw her in Elsewhere which is still one of my favourite movies to date. The Voices, Fear Itself, Mr. Right, Pitch Perfect, Drinking Buddies, Rapture-Palooza, Into The Woods, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates – okay now I’m just becoming IMDB. The point is I enjoyed her biography of work and then I followed her on social media where I wondered if her tweets were the kind of thing that pop into your head or the kind that take you three hours to think of. (After reading her book I’m going to go with pop into your head – not that she needs anyone’s validation cause she’s a boss ass bitch). 

Anyway,

In all honesty this book was well written, funny, touching, and honest. It was like having coffee with a friend you needed to catch up with and they did all the talking but sometimes you’d find yourself going “oh ha ha ha Anna! I’m from Maine too and I also can’t sail! What a hoot! Do you also hate lobster? because we might be soul mates.” 

So if you are familiar with Kendrick’s work or social media presence I would recommend this book. If you’ve never heard of her before I’d recommend this book because really what do you have to lose except multiple hours of your life and some semblance of sanity? 

The Open Door Project

Okay, so this year I want to do a little project. If you are from a family that doesn’t understand you, doesn’t accept you, doesn’t care to know you then come to my virtual house this holiday season. Let me send you a little Holiday card so you know you are not alone. I know I don’t know you, you don’t know me, that’s okay! We’re family. If you don’t want to give an internet stranger your address (probably smart) that’s cool too. I can send you an email letter or an insta DM, snap, tweet, whatever you like just so you know you’ve got someone this holiday season who has your back. Just want to spread a little love this holiday and every day. If you want to participate that’s awesome too! Just post that you’re opening your virtual home to people this holiday season and hashtag it OpenDoorProject so people can find a safe place for the holiday! 

“Fangirl” – Rainbow Rowell

“Fangirl” Rainbow Rowell

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“Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath it’s something more. Fandom is life. It’s what got her and her sister, Wren, through losing their mom. It’s what kept them close.

And now that she’s starting college, introverted Cath isn’t sure what’s supposed to get her through. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?” – Front Cover, “Fangirl”

So I had been looking at this book for a while; in stores, online, but I always hesitated to buy it, or even borrow it from the library. Why you ask? Well, with a name like “Fangirl” it has a lot to live up to. I am a fangirl. A heavily dedicated, funko buying, fanfiction writing, talk about it to people who don’t even know what it is fangirl. So if I were going to commit myself to reading a book about me and my people then it had to be a good book. It had to be loving, and honest. It couldn’t be condescending and judgmental. It couldn’t be vague and fake. I didn’t want to read 400 pages of someone making fun of me, or worse, trying to act like they got it just so they could fit in to nerd chic and make money off of what was trendy. So I hesitated for about three years. Then I found myself at The Strand book store (for those of you who don’t know it’s a really famous bookstore in New York City) and I came upon the book again. I searched the entire store from Occult gems to Historical non-fiction but I kept coming back to my heart and soul at YA fiction. I carried “Fangirl” around for about half an hour while I browsed and finally my traveling partner asked if we were ready to go – still holding the book I nodded. I bought it. We left and checked the comic book store before heading back to the farmers market. But I digress.

I had every intention of reading it but then the Election was happening and I was focused on our country not going to shite. (Spoiler alert, it did). I wanted an escape. I wanted to feel like the world didn’t exist for a little while. My instinct was to read Harry Potter because he can usually cheer me up. But then I saw “Fangirl” sitting on my nightstand so I finally cracked the book open this weekend. I read the first twenty or thirty pages on Friday but I wasn’t hooked yet and I had gotten used to going to bed early (well, before midnight) so I favoured sleep over reading. Then Saturday night because I’m a crazy and wild girl I was in my room by dusk and needed a break from the world (again) so I opened the book.

I’m very glad I opened that book.

I wasn’t sure at first if I liked the way Rowell goes from Fantasy to Reality (because it was too much like my own head and I’m not sure how I feel about anything happening in there). Then I found myself getting just as addicted to the fantasy as the reality. I loved all the characters, they were all realistic, Cath and Wren (twins in case you didn’t read the description quoted in the beginning) were a polarization but not in a cliché Gemini way. Wren was carved realistically into this world, and Cath… Cath was me. I’m sure that Rowell wrote this this way on purpose – to relate to all the fangirls out there – but it worked. The social anxiety, the constantly re-purposing characters in your head. Comparing everything you’re doing to how you’ve written it! I just.. It didn’t feel insulting. It didn’t feel condescending. It felt like a love letter.

Every character had parts that they were made up of that didn’t define them (anxiety, panic, ocd, bi-polar) but none of these were ever what the character was about and I love, love, loved that. I love the idea of living in a world where people are not their disorders, their genders, their colors, their sexual orientation; where everyone is free to be them and that’s not who they are. It was subtle but this little bit of character development meant the world to me. It would be so easy to make Cath a nerdy shut in who hates people because she was always made fun of for being smart – or something cliche, but Rowell didn’t do that. She had reasons, and logic for every character choice. Or maybe I applied the reason and logic but either way Rowell crafted the web and I was caught in it.

My one “mad” takeaway is one of the main characters names is Levi – which if anyone knows the novel I’m writing so is mine – he was also named after the Old Testament – which so was mine. It was so coincidental that my jaw dropped, I debated changing my characters name (I won’t), and then I wanted to hug Rowell because obviously we share a brain and I need to be her friend.

So yes, I recommend this book. I also recommend being a fangirl/boy first – it’ll probably make it more relatable. I have now borrowed “Carry On” from the library and plan to read that as soon as time allows. I do have to focus on NaNo for a little while since the first weekend I was at Supernatural Con and the second weekend I was dealing with the aftermath of our country’s extremely poor decision making skills. Of course next week is Thanksgiving. So I’ve really got to buckle down now and focus. Best not to get (more) lost in the world of Simon and Baz right now. But I’m looking forward to getting lost in that world soon.

Happy Reading and Happy Nano!

“The Cursed Child” – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

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In this brilliantly crafted play we get to experience an eighth story in the Harry Potter universe. Continuing from King’s Cross Station nineteen years later the story explores Albus Severus Potter’s first years at Hogwarts. Written as a stage play the formatting strays from the original novels bringing not only a fresh story but also a fresh approach.

I usually avoid writing reviews/opinions/posts that include spoilers but for this one I am making an exception. So if you don’t want any information about the play other than “It’s about Harry’s kid and Jo helped write it” then this is where you should leave. Summary: it’s a good play. You should read it.

Now, for my meat and potatoes review. I really enjoyed this play. Honestly. I thought it was different, fun (in that painful kind of way only fandoms can really explore), and I was so downright excited to have fresh Potter material from Jo Rowling that I would have read the words “Harry Potter” repeated across 300 pages and thought it was the best book ever. I read this book the night it came out (Midnight on July 31st for those of you under rocks). As you may have noticed it has been almost a month and this is the first I’m posting about it. I wanted it to digest and simmer and sit for a minute before I went on about it. I wanted to give people a chance to read it. I wanted to give myself a chance to take it in and read it again (yes I’ve read it twice now, stop judging). After having read it, sat with it, thought about it, processed it, talked about it with friends/family, I have to say firstly I wish I had seen it performed. I would love to see how the characters are brought to life in this play; how the dynamics of these heroes that we have known and loved for years translates into adulthood. I would love to see the second generation exploring their world and growing into their own. Additionally, my instinct is to want this play as a book. I’ve read many a play in my day but I still do prefer books to plays. But I think it’s probably best this wasn’t a book. I think the concept wouldn’t necessarily translate well into prose.

I would never question Rowling on her choices. All I knew from the characters before this play was information Rowling had already given. I just… I didn’t feel like this was her play. It felt like a fanfiction to me. It felt like there were a few fan servicing moments (the Scorpious/Rose dynamic for example, the Slytherin Al, Bella/Voldy). Slytherin Al of course was crucial to the plot of the whole play and I’m completely fine with that. (As I am with Bella and Voldemort; another critical aspect to the play). The addition of Cedric being a catalyst was something I both loved and found forced. I love that Cedric was this turning point in everything (because he was. I mean, “The Goblet of Fire” is arguably the literal turning point of the entire series – others would argue that PoA was but that’s a post for another day). I love that depending on the outcome of Cedric the whole universe could change. Cedric could become a Death Eater! Cedric could still die anyway. Rebels would still exist. I only found it forced because as a very proud Hufflepuff we often get brushed aside as “the leftovers” house or “the weak” house or “yellow” and it makes me super mad. I think I’m a bit sensitive to any time someone tries to use a Hufflepuff as a plot device. Even our Queen. So part of me worried that they were only using Cedric because Jo wanted to prove something about Hufflepuff’s. But the more I thought about it the more I realized it wouldn’t have really worked any other way and I was just being guarded/defensive. I’ve gotten off on a tangent. Despite the fanfiction feeling I’m completely fine with all of it. I wish I could be more articulate in what I’m trying to explain. There was just something… unpolished? about it. It just didn’t feel like Jo. I’m not sure if it was the additional writers or the fact that it was play based so the whole formula is different. I’ve read a lot of second gen fanfics and this just felt like a better written one. The one scene where Al had to kiss Hermione was so awkward. I understand plot wise what was happening but it just made me cringe. There were just a few elements that I wasn’t in love with; which was hard for me to accept since I have always loved absolutely everything Potter regardless of what it is. I think it just … I loved it; but I was expecting that feeling of Hogwarts on September 1st, and instead I kind of got Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.

I do want to praise a few things as well. I’ve already touched on Cedric and his plot line that I loved the idea that one event can just switch a person. I love the idea of how our lives are shaped by singular events and if just enough happens, or that one final straw is added our whole worlds can flip. Cedric: nice, compassionate, friendly, outgoing, sweet, having a really horrendous fourth year and bam! Death Eater! It seems far fetched but we don’t know what else happened in that AU world; what else made him angry, and aggressive, and twisted. That aspect of human nature is just so cool to me. I loved the Voldemort child concept. Honestly it was a bit deus ex machina (who even knew you could have children after being a literal wisp of nothing and regrowing a body in a cauldron of your enemy’s blood) but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great twist. I love how sneaky Delphi was – I love that she targeted Albus (after unsuccessfully targeting Harry) because what better way to make your enemy pay for murdering your family than ripping his family apart? I love Scorpius. His character was adorable and everything I think Draco always wanted to be but was too afraid to. I love everything about Scorpius. I loved Albus. I think even though Slytherin Albus was a bit of an obvious choice (but again absolutely critical to the plot) I think Albus’ character was a perfect blend of Ginny and Harry. He was an downright thoughtless idiot, like our beloved Harry, but he did it in a selfish way (which calls to his Slytherin nature perhaps?). I mean, think about it, in Philosopher’s Stone Dumbledore makes it very clear that if Harry grew up with everyone praising him he’d be an asshole (yea Dumbledore is more articulate than I am, I get that), but it’s not that dissimilar here. Al was reminded every day from the second he was born that his dad was Harry Freaking Potter. The Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One. The Hero Who Defeated The Dark Lord. And if that weren’t enough to boot his mom was part of this legendary alliance to Dumbledore’s Army, she was a former professional Quidditch player and sports editor for The Daily Prophet. In case that wasn’t enough for young Al to feel bad about his Aunt was Minster of Magic. I mean, talk about a tough act to follow. Al didn’t have an affinity for Quidditch, wasn’t insanely smart… he was a proverbial black sheep. And it makes sense that he didn’t bother telling the hat he didn’t want to be Slytherin (after all at least he’d have Scorpius in Slytherin), and I think, like Harry, he wanted to rebel a little. He wanted to prove he was his own person and not just “Harry Potters son” just like Harry never wanted to be “The Boy Who Lived” they’re so different and so alike. I think Jo crafted Albus perfectly and I am so happy with his character. Additionally I love the AU’s. All of the time-turning and back and forth; the what could have been’s and the never-will’s. So fascinating to me. The time-travel/space time continuum stuff  is just boggling to me but I really do love reading stories that involve it. (Also was it just me or was there some UST in that Rebel Hermione/ Rogue Snape AU?).

The story didn’t allow for us to see much of James, Lily, Rose, Hugo, but I would love to see more of that; how Al interacts with his brother and sister during holiday, what family dinners look like. I think the familial aspect is fascinating and because the formula of the play was driven by the Delphi storyline we don’t really get to see any of that external family dynamic which leaves you with that thirst of wanting more.

Like I said, I loved this play. I hope it comes to Broadway so I have even a small chance of seeing it. I loved having a new Potter book that was fresh and different. I loved being able to feel like I was in the world again with words actually crafted by the Queen herself. Going to the midnight release, feeling the energy of the Potterheads, seeing new young Potter fans getting excited. . . It makes me so emotional just knowing there’s this whole big family of Witches and Wizards in the world and that the story lives on every time the pages are turned.

After waiting 9 years for a new book (Pottermore has been a great appetizer but I believe the whole fandom was definitely ready for another main course) I’m not sure anything could have lived up to that anticipation. That being said, I think this play was great for what it was, and I don’t think it could have been done any other way. Happy reading.

Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.