Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Music of Harry Potter

"Ah music . . . A magic beyond all we do here!" --Albus Dumbledore 

As of today, I am approximately halfway through reading the Harry Potter series. Woo hoo! Really, I have jury duty to thank for that. I didn't bring anyone to justice during my time as a potential juror. Instead, I added yet another Harry-Potter-freak-out-session to my life. Not that I minded at all.

But the fangirling didn't stop there.

Whenever I reread the series, my intake of Harry Potter related material increases exponentially. In the past week I have watched a multitude of Harry Potter fan videos on youtube, searched minor characters' back stories, and pinned even more Potter pins on Pinterest. Last night, however, I found another aspect of Harry Potter to geek out over.

It began as innocent as ever, believe me. My sister was playing snippets from famous scores that I was supposed to guess the movies to. This eventually led us to revisit the complete works of John Williams, which, inevitably, led us astray--astray to awesomeness. It's hard to pick my favorite John Williams score--but, then again, being a biased Harry Potter fan, it's not so hard. John Williams always seems to compose a score that fits the film perfectly, and Harry Potter is no exception. Did you know that Williams wrote "Hedwig's Theme" for the trailer, not necessarily planning on using it in the films? Talk about skill. If you want to learn  more, here's a link to a great article on the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone soundtrack:

My sister and I ended up geeking out over the various Harry Potter soundtracks--the 3rd being our favorite. I feel like I must mention that my sister and I are so invested in Harry Potter that we can recite the lines from the movies AND sing the music playing in the background as well. So that's what I did last night: listened to Harry Potter soundtracks and recited the lines that correspond to the music in the film. It was a great time.

While John Williams' score best captured the magical world of Harry Potter, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexander Desplat also composed Harry-Potter-worthy scores. In fact, I would say Desplat's The Deathly Hallows Part II is one of my favorite Harry Potter soundtracks. Ahem--"Statues" . . . just putting that out there. The last movie was also great because it incorporated John Williams' original themes, such as "Harry's Wondrous World," and also themes from Nicholas Hooper ("Dumbledore's Farewell"). No matter which score you prefer, I think we can all agree that the music is just another aspect of the films that brings the magic of Harry Potter to life.

Speaking of Harry Potter--when am I not, right--I realize I'm a bit behind on my 30 day challenge. I'll just include 3 days in one post and keep the explanations brief--well, brief-ish.

Least Favorite Character:

Dolores Umbridge

Why? Because she's evil. And wears pink.

Least Favorite Book:

This was hard since I like all the books, but the 5th book has always been the hardest for me to get through. Harry spends the whole book in an angst-ridden, Voldemort-possessed rage and everything seems to be working against him. Plus, Umbridge is in it. And we already know how I feel about her.

Favorite Film: 

I just like the first movie. Everything just works. Also, the first movie is probably closest to the book, which is a major factor for me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Wear Doctor Who Shirts Now . . . Doctor Who Shirts are Cool

As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I have jury duty this week. So far it's been a lot of waiting. And waiting. Then eating. Eating while waiting. And more waiting. It also consists of a lot of awkward silences  between fifty-something strangers. Now, I don't pride myself on much, but avoiding eye contact and conversing with others is a gift of mine. But sometimes I just can't evade human interaction. Sometimes it's painful. Most times it's uncomfortable. And sometimes . . .  it's awesome.

This is how excited I was to find a fellow Whovian.
While I waited for my ride to pick me up at the courthouse, a lady and fellow jury-duty-victim sat down next to me. Naturally, I was reading Harry Potter, shutting myself completely off from the rest of the world--as I do--when I noticed the woman to my left kept glancing at me. Of course, I just pretended that I didn't notice. Eventually, she plucked up enough courage to ask me, "Is that a TARDIS on your shirt?" Timidly, I said "yes," but internally I resounded with a triumphant "YES!" and fist pump.

Yesterday, my very first Doctor Who t-shirt arrived in the mail and, let me tell you, I was excited. Not only does it have the TARDIS on it, but it also has the complete "wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey stuff" line. My sister pointed out that the shirt was a bit text-heavy. She may be right, but I figured a true Whovian wouldn't have to read the whole thing to get it. And those who don't get it can just walk away. Ha. Kidding. But I didn't realize how quickly my shirt would single out another Whovian.

I ended up geeking out with this woman until my ride pulled up. Even though I was looking forward to going home, I was a little sad to leave. As much as I think I like keeping to myself at all times--well, some times--randomly rhapsodizing about Doctor Who with someone I met on jury duty is cool.

 Like fezzes. And bow ties.

And I conclude with my Day 2 entry of the Harry Potter challenge:

Favorite book . . . 

After 870 pages worth of all caps, teenage wizard angst, the 6th Harry Potter brings back the delight and humor of the previous books, along with the suspense of Voldemort's rise to power and mystery of Snape's true loyalties. Plus, Harry and Ginny happens. Need I say more? This was a hard decision for me to single out my favorite of the series, but I think I can safely say that the Half-Blood Prince would approve of my choice.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"To Harry Potter--the Boy Who Lived!"

Well, it's that time of year again! Potter time, that is. For the past four summers I have made a habit of rereading Harry Potter, my all-time favorite series. I mostly did this with the beginning of college because I wouldn't dare risk reading them during the school year. If I had, I would have been forced to choose between my schoolwork and Harry, and I think we all know who would win:
"Avada Kedavra, homework, focus, and academic success!!!"

Since then, Harry Potter has become a sort of summer tradition for me. More reason to love summer, right?  Anyway, I finished The Sorcerer's Stone last night and got a good start on The Chamber of Secrets this morning during jury duty. (Yes, I'm on jury duty. What joy is mine.) No matter how many times I read this series, I still find myself laughing out loud (mostly at Harry and Ron), getting chills at my favorite lines (usually provided by Dumbledore), and just freaking out at its overall awesomeness.

In rereading the 1st book, specifically, I am always amazed at just how nice of a boy Harry is: he appeals to Ron's financial woes by pointing out Dudley's hand-me-downs; instead of freaking out over Neville's sudden appearance before his midnight duel (like Ron and Hermione), he asks how his broken wrist is; and who could forget the moment he gives Neville a chocolate frog and tells him, "You're worth twelve of Malfoy"? The amazing part is that Harry has no reason to be nice. He lost his parents before he could remember them, then he's forced to live with Dursley's who give a bad name to Muggles everywhere. This time around it really got me when Harry goes to the zoo for Dudley's birthday--his first time at the zoo, mind you--and he spends the day avoiding Piers and Dudley's bullying, eating cheap lemon pops and Dudley's rejected ice cream, and being ignored by his aunt and uncle--when they aren't demeaning him. And this is "the best morning he'd had in a while" . . . Excuse me while I find a dark corner to cry in.

So, to honor Harry Potter even more, I thought I'd try that whole 30 day challenge thing . . but the Potter edition. Today I begin with my favorite character. And he is . . . 

Yes, I know. A little generic, but Harry is number one--or should I say "the chosen one?" Ha ha. He's brave,yes, but I think Harry's greatest quality is his goodness. This is best seen in the final showdown between him and Voldemort: 

"Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle…."
"What is this?"
Of all the things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked Voldemort like this.  Harry saw his pupils contract to thin slits, saw the skin around his eyes whiten.
"It’s your one last chance," said Harry. “it’s all you’ve got left….I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise….Be a man….try….Try for some remorse…."
Woa. Just . . . woa. I mean, he gave Voldemort--the loser who killed his parents, his friends, and made him a horcrux--a second chance. Who does that? 

Harry Potter. That's who.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fanny Price is Dead . . . and I'm Okay with That

"Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park." --Lionel Trilling

I finally started plowing through my summer reading this past week and boy, did I start with a crazy one! Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd retells Jane Austen's original work, casting the witty and clever Mary Crawford as the new heroine and Fanny Price as the wealthy, conceited heiress that everyone hates. Through a series of rivalries, jealousy, love affairs, and unrequited love, Fanny is found murdered on the grounds of Mansfield. Following the lead of thief-taker Charles Maddox, Mary helps piece together the details of Fanny's murder while fighting her feelings for Fanny's fiance, Edmund.

I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start. I've read Mansfield Park a couple of times and I actually did my senior project on it this past year. Long story short, I liked the book. It was Fanny I couldn't stand: she's too timid to act . . . like, at all, she's so weak that she's falls ill after picking roses, and she's just so . . . so . . . serious. *Insert Joker reference here*
"Why so serious, Fanny? Why?"
Fanny is also so morally sound that you feel guilty for disliking her . . .which just makes you dislike her even more.

Suffice to say, I found a twisted sense of pleasure in Fanny's imminent death. I know, I know. I'm a horrible person. But hey--she's fictional, so it's okay. Also, Shepherd explores Mary's character further, providing a more sympathetic back story. I really enjoyed the way Shepherd used the same events and--at some points--wording from Austen's original text. Although, I will say that I thought the murderer's reveal to be a bit obvious, but I'm usually wrong when it comes to mysteries so I got a kick out of being right for once.

For Jane Austen fans, particularly those who liked Mansfield Park, I recommend reading this book. As for those who hate Mansfield Park or share my utter abhorrence for Miss Price, I recommend reading this book. I mean, who doesn't love a good mystery and Jane Austen? The answer is no one. No one, people.