I Didn’t Ask To Be A Half-Blood

LightningThiefPlay-300x300In case you’re new, you may not know that I have a few what I call “baseline” obsessions. They’re not the fundamentals of nerdiness, as deep in my bones as Star Wars, Harry Potter or Les Mis. But they’re things I come back to over and over, with love and joy and excitement, but I can detach myself enough to view them critically. Batman, The Collective Television Work of Aaron Sorkin, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Game of Thrones. 

A big one, a big big one is the connected mythological work of Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson And The Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase And The Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo, are semi-annual joys to visit. (One book generally comes out in the spring, another in the fall…) They’re also, one of the earliest bits of nerd bonding that Aless and I came to. (The summer we became besties Sea Of Monsters, the movie, came out. We moaned over it’s disappointments together.) So, when we learned the there was going to be a musical of The Lighting Thief, we got tickets as soon as possible for the first Saturday night performance.  I also reread all of the Greek/Roman books.

The show itself is really great, capturing the sort of cheeky, totally epic fun of the books, and giving fans a lot to grab on to, especially given the various characters on display. At Camp Halfblood, necessary for the plot characters Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Luke are joined by Clarisse LaRue, Silena Beuaregard and Katie Gardner, with a brief mention of Charles Beckindorf. (Though it’s that he’s cheating on Silena, something he would NEVER DO. HE DIED LOVING HER SO MUCH THAT HE WAITED TO ENTER ELYSIUM FOR HER!) Grover sings a whole song about Thalia’s sacrifice, and there’s even a cameo in the Lotus Hotel and Casino of a girl who’s been there since May of 1939. (Yes, demigods, we see, though only for a moment, Bianca DiAngelo! She also mentions her brother. Aless and I spazzed accordingly)

As a musical it’s entertaining, with a few truly good songs, though the theater lover in me, did have to roll my eyes at a few elements. “We get it, you love Rent!” I mumbled at one point, while Chris McCarrell as Percy raged against his bad luck to a pounding drum beat while jumping around a set constructed mostly of scaffolding. But McCarrell really did well with a character I have a great deal of affection towards and said song, “Good Kid,” has been stuck in my head since leaving the theater. I was equally impressed with Kristen Stokes as Annabeth, particularly her big solo song, but my favorite cast member was James Hayden Rodriguez, who played Luke Castellan as well as Ares and a couple of other parts. (Most of the cast doubled or tripled roles.) Luke is definitely in my top 3 favorite Riordan characters (Number 1 is Leo Valdez and the 2 spot rotates between Luke and Rachel Elizabeth Dare, depending on my mood.) And this performance really got what I liked about Luke, the charm, the anger, the sheer heartbreaking grief when this guy you can’t help but like stabs you in the back.

I was really happy with the show and even happier to see it with my best friend. (I came cosplayed as Annabeth, and Aless provided us some blue food.) We then proceeded to drink approximately all of the Tequila in The Village, but overall we had a great night, and now I’m just waiting on the cast album.

And the possibility of a sequel? Maybe? While the escalating weirdness and ballooning cast of Percy Jackson might make for a tough fit on stage, I’d still love to see this group give it a shot.

Busy Busy Busy: Smartening and The Kurt Vonneguys

Six months ago I decided to smarten up a little and the project failed miserably, because Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton is insanely long and dense and I wasn’t smarted up enough for it.

So, I dropped that book and the whole American History project, but lucky for me, a new presented itself to me!

Michael Swaim and Alex Schmidt, who I knew from Cracked, (by knew I mean, read their writing and watched their videos, I have not met these men.) started a podcast called The Kurt Vonneguys where they’re reading and discussing the works of Kurt Vonnegut in release order.

I’ve always liked Vonnegut’s work, and felt like I hadn’t read enough of it, so I decided to jump in. (Plus, my English major brain was missing the analysis of reading in a big way, and the podcast gives me that.) So far the podcast (and myself!) have made it through Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan and Mother Night. The one for Cat’s Cradle came out this week and I’m reading it right now. (I’m about halfway through.) Cat’s Cradle is one of my favorite books ever, so I was excited to circle back to it.

Also, given my current mood and sense of feeling overwhelmed by the world there’s something comforting in Vonnegut’s strange form of Nihilism. Unlike a lot of the “nothing matters” philosophy, Vonnegut’s point is inevitably, “nothing matter, so we might as well take care of one another, makes the nothingness more pleasant.”

There’s something comforting in that feeling right now, when it seems like common courtesy (or as some people want to call it “Political Correctness”) is considered weakness. When caring for others, particularly those who are different from you might be a radical act, I see nothing wrong with indulging in some thoughtful literature about how the world may burn, but at least we have each other.

Even if it’s all an accident, it’s a damn amazing accident.

Cosplay Corner: And The Smallest One…

I’d hoped to fill this post with pictures from the NY Renaissance Faire last weekend, but it was too hot to take many pictures. Sorry about that! But I did get one closet cosplay in this week!

Per the suggestion of my cousin Meaghan, I decided to celebrate back to school with a tribute to everyone’s favorite Parisian school girl, Madeline!

A simple navy blue dress with a wide Peter Pan collar.

I’m all set to head out from that old house in Paris, covered in vines, in two straight lines in rain or shine.

Weasley Is Our King

So, I recently reread the Harry Potter series, which is one of those, things I like to do from time to time, also because after The Cursed Child I felt the need to find my way back to The Wizarding World.

But this time, I really found myself focusing on Ron Weasley.

I’ve always loved Ron, and spend a lot of time in Harry Potter fandom defending him because he’s actually quite unpopular. But I relate to Ron and to the Weasley clan in general.

Like Ron, I tend to feel like a sidekick in my own life (ESPECIALLY in high school) at times, I have more popular and conventionally successful siblings, and a big loud, loving family with a tendency to adopt strays. (WHAT UP ALESS & JAIME!) I also get hangry (in a pouty shouty mood when I’ve not had enough to eat!) which is basically Ron’s entire plot line in The Deathly Hallows.

And much like Han and Leia, I appreciate the love story between Ron and Hermione, because as neither of them are our main protagonist, they’re on a narratively even playing field. Also, I love the idea that this totally average dude not only gets the smartest and most talented magical person in his age group but he’s always in total awe of her, but also calls her out on her arrogance or occasional ignorance. It’s a really great love story and a very fun relationship to track, that’s more complex and layered than I think anyone gives it credit for.

It was one of my main criticisms of The Cursed Child that Ron is just a side character while Harry and Hermione get significant action. Even Rowling doesn’t quite know what to do with him, which suits the character quite well. Though defining Ron as “a really good dad” is such a delightful turn, that it’s hard to over complain about it. And my main criticism about Cursed Child is that they went back in time to save Cedric Diggory when REMUS LUPIN IS A PERSON WHO DIED AND ALSO PROBABLY THE BEST PERSON EVER…but I digress.

Anyway, I just wanted to give Ron some love you guys. Because he’s always been my favorite of the main 3 characters. Though not my favorite character.

That’s Lupin. Did I not make that clear? Maybe in the coming weeks I’ll write about that.

The Tattoo Is Only The Beginning

I was travelling this weekend so I got a lot of reading in. (Finished my Harry Potter reread! I’ll have something to say about that soon, but I discover new things about those books every time I touch them, and I need to sort it out.) And there was just no way that I was getting on a plane without Amy Schumer’s book, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo queued up in my Kindle. (Walking past it in the airports would have simply made me mad if I hadn’t done it.)

I’m glad I did, as Amy’s kind of meant a lot to me symbolically over the past few years and also because like her movie, her stand up and certain of her sketches, made me laugh and think and wonder at this tremendous woman and her talent.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo is often raw, particularly when Amy (yes, I will talk about her like she’s a friend of mine, I feel very connected to this woman.) discusses her family and relationships. While often hilarious, her reality involving her father’s MS, her mother’s emotional abuse and her sexual assault as a teenager are all heartbreaking. But nothing compares to her story about her abusive relationship, which is presented in such a matter of fact manner that you just want to give her a million hugs afterwards.

My favorite element of the book however, was the way Amy printed and commented on her old journal entries. Journaling, by it’s nature, is a narcissistic practice and Amy manages to make an excruciating exercise relatable and fun.

Overall I enjoyed the book, and I know because of…stuff, Schumer is not the most popular person on the internet anymore…but I’ll just always appreciate her honesty, and the way she makes me laugh and reminds me of my friends.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Something Special

I never dove full in to active Harry Potter fandom. I went to midnight premieres, but never a release party (this is because I usually had dress rehearsal during the release parties, not because I didn’t want to) but I mostly stayed away from internet fandom until most of the fervor died down because it terrified me.

I have learned that this was probably the best choice I could make. But in the time since, what with embracing internet fandom for other things, I couldn’t help but stumble onto the remains of the HP fanfiction community, and thus I was aware of some of the common tropes of HP fanfiction, particularly when it came to “the second generation.”

One of the many fun things about Harry Potter And The Cursed Child was that it managed to fall into some of those tropes, which just proves that often times story telling leads you down unavoidable paths.

Delphi “Diggory” being the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange is the kind of thing that fandom has been talking about for years. Scorpius Malfoy (the greatest character that JK Rowling has ever created, with the possible exception of Minerva McGonnagal) becoming friends with Albus Potter (BOOO) and having a thing for Rose Granger Weasley is also pretty common. And of course, Draco Malfoy is actually good guy at heart, oh that’s all over fanfiction. (They managed to stay away from Draco/Hermione, thank God, even in the alternate timelines)

So that was fun to see. But how was it as a piece of work on it’s own?

It’s a good play. The stage directions are clear but vague enough to interpret, the dialog is clear and clean. The characters are well drawn, the plot is fun. Overall, it was a fun trip back to The Wizarding World. I love Scorpius Malfoy to an unhealthy degree. (This is a Percy Jackson style love, not a Poe Dameron, fear not!) I think Albus is a good character, if a terrifically unlikable one, as Harry was from time to time. Also, the fact that Harry grew up to be a shitty parent is kind of perfect. And that Ginny calls him out on it.

I liked the plot, because I love time travel and it’s reprecussions. That’s why Back To The Future Part II is my favorite of that series. It’s why Flashpoint is in my top 5 comics. It’s why I can stand to watch The Butterfly Effect multiple times. I also like the idea that the death of Cedric Diggory and The Tri Wizard Tournament are the events upon which Voldemort’s return and eventual final fall depend, because The Goblet Of Fire is my favorite book in the series. It’s also the best movie. (Fight me Prisoner of Azkaban people! It’s both a watchable movie and a passable adaptation of the book!) I’m hoping to see The Cursed Child when it comes to New York, but then again, it’s arrival will make Hamilton tickets easier to get…(maybe…)

Either way, I was into the play, always happy to be back, and if nothing else, I’m rereading the series now!

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Work In Progress

Sooo, I had today blocked off for my Cursed Child review, because I somehow thought that I’d have time to read four acts of a play during You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown tech week.

That was the stupidest thing I’ve thought in a while. I probably could have finished it, if I’d actually gotten it on Sunday, but I didn’t get it until Tuesday and now, it’s just not happening until next week.

I am about 50 pages in…Here’s my initial thoughts.

  • Scorpius Malfoy is life. I’m obsessed with him. I hope he just keeps getting totally awesome and better.
  • Albus’s teen angst makes Harry’s look mild. Seriously, so far I feel like his entire characterization is Harry’s from The Order Of The Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince but without all the actual PTSD to justify the jerkiness. Kid’s just kind of a dick.
  • Rose Granger-Weasley (love the hyphen) appears to have inherited the worst aspects of her parents/extended family. I…kind of dig that. She’s a haughty know it all over achiever, who’s a little bit clannish. And Scorpius is obsessed with her. (As I have already stated, I love him, so I love this.)
  • HERMIONE. IS. THE. MINISTER. OF. MAGIC. I love this. I love that we didn’t know this.
  • Time. Travel. This is a story about time travel. In Harry Potter. I can’t. I just, I can’t. This is a gift. A marvelous, beautiful, delightful, incredible gift. I’m going to savor it.

I’ll follow up next week, when I have time and energy to finish, but I am really enjoying the play so far.