Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spin-offs need to spin off!

More spin-offs from Vertigo?

As if Fables doesn't have enough with Cinderella, Jack of Fables, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, and now Werewolves of the heartland and Fairest.
I understand the need to keep producing comics and perhaps stir more interest in Fables itself, but to be honest, Fables sells itself just fine. Anyone who reads comics or Graphic Novels has either heard of it, read of it, or is in love with it.


The first issue of Cinderella (the second one will be released in April) was good, but not spectacular. It has some potential though, the idea of the 'baddass female faerie-tale' has taken quite a hit with Hollywood , and I predict it will continue in its popularity. The soon to be released Snow White and the Huntsman and ABS's new show Once Upon a Time both tossed aside the frail and fragile damsel in distress image for a more independent and kick-ass one, much like Cindy's spy role in Fables.





I personally did not enjoy Jack of Fables, I found it predictable and boring. Jack's so called witty ingeniousness coupled with his absolute lack of regard for anyone but himself makes for great reading when thrown into Fables. But without any other three dimensional characters for support, Jack of Fables fell miserably low in my opinion.









1001 Nights of Snowfall was by far the best, and I don't even think it should be categorized under spin-offs. It should be labelled as a prequel or 'origins piece'  or something similar. The artwork alone is spectacular and includes pieces from Tara Mcpherson, one of my personal favourite illustrators, and of course Bucky* himself.





   


And now Werewolves of the heartland coming out in November. Hopefully it's more promising than the previous ones. I appreciated how they created and honed the Bigby story, so I would like to see where they go with that.









I say invest more time with current issues and less time trying to be innovative and make more money.  At the moment issues come out every six months, which is quite a wait for regular readers. That said, I cant wait to see the latest installment: "Fairest" featuring Sleeping Beauty, Cindy, Snow, Red and Rapunzul...and perhaps more. This looks like something I would want to read, and hopefully other Fables fans agree. As long as they keep the art spectacular, and the story better than the other spin-off attempts, it will be a hit.






*Mark Buckingham: Illustrator: (Sandman, Fables, Spiderman, Xanadu...to name a few). He is the Morgan Freeman of comic illustrators.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Holding out for a hero: FABLES Vol. 16

Fables Vol. 16: Super Group           -released on December 13, 2011.

It seems like I have been waiting for this latest installment of fantastic writing & art for far too long! The last one, Vol. 15: Rose Red, was released almost 6 months ago (April 11, 2011). This seems like reason enough for a general uproar from the Fables fan community, but taking into account that the first issue was released in 2003 and this is a fairly new series, I should probably stop complaining. Here's some sneak peeks of some of the pre-released artwork by the amazing Mark Buckingham (my personal art idol after Pauline Baynes and Waterhouse) and Joao Ruas' phenomenal cover artwork. 

 

Issue #104 - cover
Issue #102 - inside peek

I don't know how I feel about Vertigo going back to it's DC roots and opting for the 'superhero' look for this entire volume, but as with everything Fable -variety has always been a predeterminer to  their success as a series. Regarding the theme, the editor Shelly Bond said:

 

My initial reaction was probably similar to yours: WTF?!?! But then Bill offered up an explanation. It’s a sendup to 1950 comic books – sort of. In classic Willingham style, Bill wanted to do a storyline that was nothing that any Fables fan could see coming…what else could you do post 101 issues but give readers something truly unexpected? But trust me–it’s more than Ozma’s big idea to form a super team to ward off evil powers…there are relationship troubles galore involving Beauty and the Beast and their new bundle of joy (?), Snow White and Bigby and even some reappearances by characters long forgotten and abhorred.” 
  
Personally, I can't wait to see what this volume holds regarding the storyline - regardless what they're 

wearing. And I'm sure no one will say no to seeing Bigby and Charming in some latex ( I would 

include Cindy in that, but she seems to wear form-fitting latex and boots as casual spy attire anyway). 

December can't come soon enough. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Helena's Lament

 

       A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act One, sc. 1, lines 232-251



How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know:
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,                                             [230]
So I, admiring of his qualities:
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:                                     [235]
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,                                 [240]
So the boy Love is perjured every where:
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia¹s eyne,
He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.    

                                                           
Helena's Lament: Close analysis

Love is a common theme seen in many plays and A Midsummer Night’s

Dream is no exception. William Shakespeare uses it as one of the central themes to the

plot alongside seeing and blindness, deception and trickery. In the passage chosen, the

effects and repercussions of some of these themes will be discussed, in relation to the

rest of the play. Shakespeare also uses literary tools to create a certain poetic flow to his

writing, and these too will be divulged.

In Helena’s mournful and self-pitying lament, there are ten rhyming pairs of verse in

iambic pentameter(1). These couplets add to the dramatic effect by presenting a constant

sound and rhythm which is synonymous to Helena’s relentless devotion to Demetrius.

These couplets help to portray that effect. The use of reversed syntax should be also

noted, as it emphasizes certain words and gives Helena’s speech a distinctive sound (2).

An example of this can be seen when Shakespeare puts the object before the subject

and verb, “Things base and vile, holding no quantity, / Love can transpose to form

and dignity” (ll. 238-9). This not only enables the iambic pentameter and the rhyme

to continue, but puts emphasis on the words ‘quantity’ and ‘dignity’. These words are

important because they refer to Helena’s love for Demetrius as being out of proportion

to his faults and containing no self-respect for herself.

There are many themes presented in the play, and one of the most glaring is ‘seeing

and blindness’ which is mentioned five times through this particular passage. The

first and second is where Demetrius is “doting on Hermia’s eyes” (l. 236), and where

he “looked on Hermia’s eyne” (l. 248). This is worth noting because it is Demetrius’s

eyes that are blurred by Oberon’s nectar, yet it is twice mentioned that Hermia’s

eyes are enchanting enough to sway Demetrius’s heart. The third reference talks of

how “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind” (l. 240), which is ironic because

that is explicitly where Oberon tells Puck to place the nectar; so that the Athenian will

love the first thing they see. Hence, in this instance, love does see with the eyes. The

fourth reference, in the same couplet, states that “winged cupid [is] painted blind” (l.

241) which infers that love is blind to everything. This is seen in multiple pairings

throughout the text, as with Titania and Bottom (3), Helena and Demetrius, Demetrius

and Hermia. The fifth and last reference to seeing and blindness is perhaps the most

important. It declares that love has “Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste” (l. 243).

The insinuation here is that loving someone without truly seeing them is as pointless

and dangerous as flying without the ability to see. ‘Unheedy’ and ‘haste’ are two words

that strongly negate each other, yet when put in this context they are used to illustrate

this impossible situation.

There are some interesting examples of imagery and vocabulary scattered throughout

the passage, all with distinctive connotations and inferences. One of the key ones is the

image of Cupid, the personification of love itself. He is depicted as a blind young boy

with wings, toting a quiver of love-inducing arrows. The significance of this is to show

that love is as folly-some, easily swayed and inconstant as a child. "So the boy love

is perjured everywhere" (l. 247) simply means that he is falsely depicted as a bringer

of love, but she is implying that his presence is more deceptive and not so joyous.

Trickery and deception is a recurrent theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream; the play is

full of characters that seem to be one thing and yet are another. A few examples of this

can be seen in the Meta-theatricality of the plays within the play, and also with Bottom

appearing as a donkey to Titania.

An interesting use of vocabulary is when Helena likens Demetrius’s display of love

for her, to hail. Hail is cold and harsh and not usually associated with romantic love,

as is the sun for instance. Nevertheless, Helena uses this particular word which could

be a hint that his love is not true. In addition, his "showers of oaths did melt" (l. 251)

when "some heat from Hermia's [he] felt" (l. 250) which proposes that Demetrius's love

for Hermia is more concrete.

The passage also illustrates aspects of Helena's character that need to be presented in

order to enhance the understanding of the rest of the play. At the start of the passage

she cries “How happy some o'er other some can be” (l. 232), which can only be

translated as a bout of whining self-pity. The next line is equally indulgent, showing

her jealous nature with a hint of pride “Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. /

But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so” (ll. 233-4). This would be a harsh judgement

of her character from a mere two lines, but she continues to talk and act this way

throughout the rest of Act 1 and into Act 2 (4). Therefore, the passage reveals Helena's

role in the play as the neglected pursuer who eventually gets her desires (through no

credit to her). It also engages the audience to decide whether they either feel pity or

contempt for Helena as the beaten, yet still fawning spaniel (Act 2, sc.1, l. 211).

Helena's colourful lament, though it may deviate from the point at times, has a clear

underlying message: Love is unjust, dangerous, inconstant, and folly some. This then poses

the question; if all love is futile, what of her 'love' for Demetrius? If that is her interpretation

of how love can be, then how is her love any more legitimate than his? If his inconstancy

towards her is purely because all love is inconstant, then he cannot be blamed for it.

Despite these conundrums, her monologue advances the plot by addressing the larger themes

that repeatedly appear later in the play. The themes of love, sight and deception are scattered

throughout the play, and are given an adequate introduction in this passage of Helena’s

lament.

**********************************************************************************
1. These are known as ‘heroic couplets’.


2. Here Shakespeare uses his trademark of changing the conventional order of the subjects, objects
and verbs in a sentence. Despite making the meaning of the sentence less clear, this method creates a
poetic effect.

3. This pairing is a product of magic, whereas the other two are natural.

4. After Act 2, magic intervenes and she is pursued by both Lysander and Demetrius. Thus her self pity
turns into low self-esteem and she accuses their love for mockery.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader : critical analysis


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one of the more engaging books of C.S Lewis's seven book series, mainly because of the theme of an epic journey. It raises many interesting issues that were not seen in the previous written books. Many literary analysts over time have attempted to address or interpret these themes and issues. Colin Manlove is one of these, a renowned literary critic on numerous fantasy works including those of J.R.R Tolkien, a friend and mentor of Lewis's. Manlove makes a statement about this particular book, which is the third book in the series when taken in order of publication, and the fifth book in chronological order. When referring to the books here, publication order will be considered to lessen any confusionAlso, only the books that relate directly to the Pevensie children will be mentioned in depth. Magician's Nephew and Horse and His Boy are not as relevant to the topics being discussed. Colin Manlove makes many notable observations in his statement about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and also a few debatable claims. These will all be addressed in the order stated.

Firstly, Manlove states that growth and expansion is a structural pattern in each of the books. This is undeniably true. Each book delves more deeply into important issues in life. If the publication order of reading is to be considered, this is definitely true. Starting with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the focus begins with introducing Narnia and Aslan. This enables the Pevensie children and the readers to widen their minds to other realities and possibilities, as a staring point to prepare them for the rest of their adventures. Then in Prince Caspian, a more subtle plot of belief without seeing is introduced, which requires further proof of their faith – and not all of them succeed. Peter and Susan take the longest to believe that Aslan is with them without seeing him, and act more grown up than they are. This new development in their characters insinuates that they are getting too old for Narnia, so when Aslan confirms this at the end of the book it is not that much of a surprise. Then with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the monumental task of facing temptations growing into adults is required. The characters have to discover themselves and decide what kind of people they want to grow to be. In the following books the new characters (because the Pevensie's are no longer part of the immediate story line until the end in The Last Battle) must face even larger problems, and grow and expand their capabilities much more to achieve their goals. In The Silver Chair must undertake the impossible task of rescuing Prince Rillian with only a few clues and Jill is tested more than any other charcter while on their first trip to Narnia. Then in The Last Battle she and Eustace go through the worst ordeal ever seen in the books – they must watch their friends and comrades die around them in battle and the destruction of all that is good in the old Narnia. The readers go through the stages together with all the characters, which is key to the whole Narnian experience. So, there is in fact a clear structure of growth and expansion in each of the books.
https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-UJIJrgyTtog%2FTiqedvZuWYI%2FAAAAAAAAAfQ%2F9JqQoPO937U%2Fs1600%2Fpauline_baynes_006.jpg&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*
Next, Colin briefly summarizes that the point of the book is that it is a “journey out from Narnia to discover Aslan's far country”. This is a very general description and it slightly takes away from the real point of the story. Yes, the primary reason for the physical 'journey' is to indeed seek Aslan's country (and the seven lost Lords), but a more subtext and far more important reason is the journey of maturing, and growing up. That also is a very generalized notion, so each character's personal journey to maturity needs to be addressed separately. For Caspian, the journey is about accepting his leadership role as king, and understand that personal needs, like his desire to travel to the end of the world and forfeit his crown, must come second to his duty to Narnia. This physical journey quenches some of his thirst for adventure and glory so that he can return to Narnia and be king without any unfulfilled needs. For Edmund and Lucy the journey is more about coming to terms that they need to be able to live in their world without Aslan and Narnia, and creating a sense of self and identity on their own. For Lucy in particular, it is about discovering what kind of woman she wants to become; she faces unresolved issues like her jealousy of Susan and how she sees herself. Edmund's journey is about facing deep personal issues he has had since his first encounter in Narnia – namely, his problems with always being 'second in command'. This comes to light on Deathwater island in his duel with Caspian. For Eustace, the journey has quite a different effect. It prepares him for his future encounters with Narnia, and simultaneously sparks his need for more of it. This is seen in the beginning of The Silver Chair where at the first sign of trouble or difficulty he calls on Aslan. The school semester had barely begun and he was so changed that he couldn't stand it even for a brief time. The only character for whom finding Aslan's country is a primary goal is Reepicheep and he achieves that goal, most probably because of that reason. Therefore, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is about much more than a “long sea jouney”, and more about each characters personal journey.

Another questionable claim of Manlove's is that previous books in the series display Aslan's 'nearness' more than in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This is simply not true, in Prince Caspian Aslan is far more distant and unreachable. Aslan does make more physical appearances inPrice Caspian than in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but he is much more present in spirit and more supportive in the latter. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader he appears at will when characters need him (with Eustace at Dragon Island) or temptation (with Lucy in Coriakin's house, and Caspian at the end of the world), but also when he is called. There is a clear example of this when Lucy calls him for help when all hope is lost in Dark Island. In Price Caspian he does not come when called, in fact he does quite the opposite, which is part of the theme of needing to believe in him whithout seeing him. It goes without saying that in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is undoubtedly shown to be the 'nearest' in comparison with all the other books. He gives physical support in the battle, emotional support to each character, and most importantly, shows his vunerability to Lucy and Susan. So The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is not the book which explores Aslan's 'distance' the most. However, the second part of Manlove's statement is quite accurate; he says that the book is about going from “the known world to the wholly 'other' ”. This applies to all the characters as well as the readers, for none of them have ever been to that part of Narnia before.

https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-GuNYZwDqs1s%2FTiqedNdCtaI%2FAAAAAAAAAfM%2FUn8vCtd0vXg%2Fs320%2Fdawn.treader490.jpg&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*
The next issue that is addressed is the significance of the seven islands that the Dawn Treader sails to. Manlove's opinion that each island is an “image of the cut-off self and of evil or delusion” is perhaps too harsh an analysis. It does not correctly describe all the islands, except perhaps for Dark Island and Deathwater Island. There are islands where the characters go through both positive and negetive experiances. The negetive ones are more about facing temptaions and conquering fears than 'evill or delusion'. The first one that is travelled to is The Lone Islands, and perhaps here is the only emphasis on the 'cut-off' self. The inhabitants are under Narnian law, but are not currently following their rules and customs, so they need to be brought back to it. Dragon Island is primarily about facing the temptaion of greed, for Eusctace. It also brings about a change in him that is needed for the rest of the journey, and his future journeys in Narnia. Burnt Island has the illusion of being about nothing, because there is nothing there, but it could be argued that the mystery represents the unknown part of life, or the part that is yet to be written. None of these first islands are even remotely to do with the black-and-white concpet of 'evil'. In Deathwater Island there is some presence of evil, but mostly it is the darkness within Caspian and Edmund that creates the problem. There is greed and hunger for power within all of us, and these characters are no exception. The next island is the Land of the Duffers, and this explores temptations for Lucy. This is the part of her journey where she is presented with a scenario where she has to decide what kind of person she wants to be. She is tempted twice, and fails once. This is part of the recurrent theme of maturing and growing that is seen repetitively in the book. In Dark Island, there is a definite presence of 'evil', which is ultimately conquered, but has no obvious source. The last island is Ramandu's Island, which is merely a resting place and a crossroads. Then as they draw near to the end of the world, there is no evil or delusion, but simply more temptations. Caspian is tempted to break his vow to the crew, to his country and even to Ramandu's daughter. The only thing that can shake him out of it, is Aslan himself. So, the islands are not merely an image of all that is bad, but once again about maturing and moving onto the next stages of life.

The last thing Manlove mentions is that the Dawn Treader is “moving ever onward...an image of the growing spirit”, which is the perfect description of it. The ship does represent life, and the growing spirit in many ways. It goes through storms and trials, adventures and achievements. But it keeps moving forwards regardless of all this. As the characters grew and matured through their voyage, so does the human spirit through its voyage through life.
         Colin Manlove's description of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader may not have been completely accurate or precise on a few accounts, but it does give a general picture of what the book is about. Analyzing a work of fantasy is not an easy feat, especially when it is set in a world so different from our own. Narnia is a world where epic journeys occur, and characters grow, mature, and discover themselves far better than they could in their own world. As C.S. Lewis himself aptly stated, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” 





Monday, May 16, 2011

The Runaways Movie Review: Newfound respect for Kristen Stewart and rekindling an old love of Joan Jett.




As a huge fan of Joan Jett since my angsty preteen years, and my previous encounters with Kristen Stewart's 'acting' (namely: In the land of Women and that Twilight series- I was highly sceptical of this movie. In my opinion, she basically knew how to play one character. But believe it or not, five minutes into The Runaways and I had completely forgotten Bella Swann ever existed. I could tell you all about the movie plot and what happened and who said what, yadda yadda, but you can go to Wikipedia for that. Or Fused Film has a great review here, which has a good outline of what I want to talk about, and so to avoid repeating what was said (and because it's been done so well)  here is the gist of it:

"However, as most of the posters and press suggest, the stars of the movie are Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart.  Fanning’s portrayal of Cherie is amazingly genuine, showing us the scared fifteen-year old who is trying her best to be a grown-up and is experimenting with several things for the first time: drugs, alcohol, lesbian relationships, and the ups and downs of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.  Fanning has made very smart choices regarding her career, and this film is no exception.  Her slow evolution from kiddie actress to a competent leading lady seems to culminate with this film.  Once you get over the initial shock of seeing the little girl from Man on Fire popping pills and strutting around in lingerie, you realize that Fanning was a perfect choice for the role.  Kristen Stewart must be equally praised for becoming Joan Jett.  She is a genuine tough girl who also really cares about Cherie and is determined to pursue her rock star dreams.  Those who have only seen Stewart in the mindless Twilight films will be pleasantly surprised.  Stewart is capable of much more than that annoying Bella character."

The main things I want to hi-light are:
* The accuracy of this biopic 
* The astounding portrayal of the characters     and
* Some major similarities in the musical performances of the actresses and their counterparts. 

After watching the movie commentary, (which includes Joan Jett herself, Kristen and Dakota) you can't help but be impressed with the film making. Anything that was glossed over in the movie was simply due to time restraints and was just interpreted into a shorter version of the event. For example, Joan's meeting of Kim Fowler happened over a series of events, not just one night - and her guitar lesson wasn't quite so dramatic in real life. Also, Cherie's departure of the band was not quite as sudden as was portrayed. But these  events were more than made up for with all the other accurate events and additions to the story. Joan was on the set with Kristen every day of the shooting, and the result  can be seen in her amazing portrayal of Joan's character and little idiosyncrasies. I think if Cherie Curie had done the same for Dakota, it would have been even more amazing. Dakota did a fantastic job, but from someone with such an extensive acting background and experience - I expected much more. It wasn't even her first movie where she doesn't play a child (although, it is debatable whether Twilight can in fact be called a 'movie'). That aside, her best portrayal of the blonde bombshell is undoubtedly on the stage. It's uncanny how similar she is to Cherie in the way she sang and moved on stage. 
Here is the live footage of "Cherry Bomb" from the Japan concert of '77.... and the corresponding scene from the 2010 movie. Watch Cherie's/ Dakota's walk onto the stage - UNCANNY (there is a better version where you can see Curie's face better, but can't seem to find it).




 

As for Kristen, taking into account the phenomenal makeup and wardrobe job, her performance was flawless - especially considering that much of the script called for improvisation on her part. Many people found her "gum-chewing-wannabe-badass" persona annoying and classified it as bad acting, but in truth it is very much a representation of Joan herself. Watch any interviews or live performances and you'll see. But I found that the most commendable thing she does is recreate Joan's guitar playing method perfectly, while emitting a vibe of "hardcore, yet slightly reserved and not seeking the limelight". Which is completely true of Jett's personality at that time. 

                                              
            Kristen Stewart                                                                                                           Joan Jett 


                       


                            Dakota Fanning                                                                                                                               Cherie Currie
   
In addition to the acting, the musical performance from the rest of the cast was once again, flawless. If you listen to the movie soundtrack and compare it to The Runaway's album songs, you'll see what I mean. Getting actors that can play, sing and act is always a tough job when making a musical biopic - and in this case it was 10/10. Of course you can hear the differences in voice and pronunciation, but what fun would it be listening to an exact copy? Another movie of this genre that does it this well is Cadillac Records  (another favourite of mine - definitely recommended for the music) which tells the story of Chess Records featuring Beyonce as Etta James, Mos Def as Chuck Berry and Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters. The only difference is that for this movie, historical accuracy came second to making a hit blockbuster. The love affair between Etta James and Leonard Chess was cute, but it was a distraction from the music, not to mention inaccurate.

Now, I realise there was a huge chunk missing in the plot, in particular: ALL the other band members. The fact that the emphasis is on Jett and Currie is ironic to say the least, because the whole point of an "all girl rock band" (and partly the reason for Currie leaving)  is that there was not meant to be a front man, or woman in this case.  The rest of the band are fairly one dimensional characters who have little or no spotlight.  (Lita Ford, Sandy West, and given that Jackie Fox didn't give license to use her name they had to make up a bassist, Alia Shawkat. ) Other than this variation in the story, the rest is pretty accurate. Especially the scene where Jett and Currie talk for the first time since the breakup, over the radio. Joan confirmed this to be true in the commentary. 

I found that this movie does immense justice to one the the first 'all girl rock bands' ever made, despite their short lived career and rise to fame. It gives them a well deserved spotlight that they never really had in their home country, and defines them as a major influence for female musicians everywhere. But the most important thing is that it brings today's youth back to the origins of music, and rekindles an awareness of great musicians that may otherwise be forgotten. 











Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Harry Potter 'phenomena' ... or lack of it.

[This is a well overdue musing and compilation of thoughts that I've been thinking for ages, but never got round to writing down. I know, I know, the book and movie has been out for a while....better late than never tho.]

Firstly, I find that through time, JK Rowling's books became increasingly aimed at lower-level readers. Not necessarily younger readers, but less astute. I think the reason for it (this is a theory) may be because Rowling realised that with her increasing popularity, her fan base expanded and now includes readers who may not be - how do I put this delicately - as 'book smart' as they used to be. Think about it, when the first books came out around 1997, most of the people reading it were: parents to their children, teachers to their students, and perhaps a few young adults. Then as the world realised just how fantastic it was, younger children began reading it for themselves as the books continued to be released till 2007. These said children are most likely ones that read allot of books anyway, and are capable of reading books slightly higher than their 'reading age'.(1). Then later once the films began to emerge, with the Philosopher's Stone in 2001, the hype started to begin. People wanted to see what the big deal was, and read it just for that, and not the story itself (or perhaps to make sure that their kid's weren't reading satanic/cultist fiction). My point is, JK perhaps started dumming down her writing style to suit a wider range of readers, an to keep them interested. Not only do the books get progressively easier to read, Rowling ceases the let readers figure plot devices out for themselves. She hands them the answers on a silver platter. Ever heard of "show not tell" ? I guess not. This is basically her admitting that the readers are too stupid to get it for themselves.This goes hand in hand with the new generation of kids being taught little or NO grammar and the vocabulary range is at a shocking low. I have GOOD grounds for insinuating that children do not receive the high standards of grammatical education that they used to, but that's a ranting issue for another posting.


AND THEN I found this article in 1, 2, 3, 4 parts describing, almost exactly, my feelings about all this. Except with more eloquence than I could bother to muster, and examples to back it up.

Daniel Hemmen's colourful chapter by chapter dissection of the last Potter book The Deathly Hallows is dripping with delicious sarcasm and notably clever humour. It is factually correct (I checked some of the quotes myself) and anyone who has actually read the books will feel the need to slap the table and say, "Aha! Thats EXACTLY what I was thinking when I read it but was too emotionally-caught-up-in-the-'event'-of-reading-a-Harry-Potter-book-and-just-wanted-to-get-to-the-end to stop and think about it." Ok maybe not quite that specific but you get the gist.
I did disagree on one thing though - when Hedwig died - I kind of teared up.It was a really sad moment...no thanks to Rowling's dwindling capabilities as an author, but because of the character and symbol that Hedwig was to Harry (and perhaps to me as the reader). I think she deserved a bit more than one stilted sentence of grief (overshadowed by Harry's 'paramount' of terror for the others). A few other things were brutally critiqued to an unnecessary degree -Rowling did get some stuff right - but nobody wants to hear the nice things. People would much rather read an article on how flawed, inconsistent, and rubbish her writing is. Me included, but only because I already thought so.
One of my favourite summaries that Dan concocted of an otherwise boring plot development:

"Dear Sirius, I'm really glad we aren't going get horribly killed in the next six months. Baby Harry is wonderful and I love him very much. So much that I'll make him immune to dark magic by the sheer loving power of my loving loving love. Love Lily." 
                                                                 - can I just say that I love this.


Anyway, in between spontaneous bursts of 'laugh out loud' moments, I had some thoughts:
Is the entire point of the book, perhaps, TO BE annoyed with Harry? Maybe we're totally misreading it and not giving JK enough credit. That's totally it. Must be. The only other alternative is that she spent the last 10 years molding and shaping and eventually failing at creating a decent protagonist.
I will admit that at first when reading the book, I consciously overlooked severely annoying issues (many of which Dan mentions in his article). Why? Because I grew up with Harry Potter, it was fantastic. And it made me just too ridiculously sad to think it was going down the shit hole, and the very very last book was no better. But even in my moronic emotional attached state, there is nothing in the world that would let me accept the ending. Three words: LAZY ASS WRITING. It made me so angry I remember staring at the last few pages in utter disbelief. There was no way that was the end. And the afterword? OMG.
I wont go into more detail as the article does an amazing job at it.

If this interests you at all, definitely give his article a read - if nothing else you will have added a few years to your life from laughing so hard.

If your still not convinced, here's probably the best one his Chapter summaries:

Chapter Thirty Three: The Prince's Tale

In which all the fanfic turns out to have been right.

Snape was in love with Lily. 

Harry is a Horcrux. 

Dumbledore is an asshole. 






(1) Maybe there is slight bias on that observation, as that it what happened to me. But I think its a fairly relate-able claim.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nanna ├śland Fabricius - Oh Land is the future of music



Not just a pretty face gents. 
Danish singer/songwriter and former ballerina (of the Royal Swedish and Russian Ballet) Nanna ├śland Fabricius, or better know as 'Oh Land' is breaking through all boundaries of today's popular music. What exactly is it that makes her such a big hit? For most people (ie. the 6 million viewers of "Son of a Gun") it's her completely 'out there' music videos....fantastical landscapes and crazy dancing. 
Perhaps it's her slightly accented floaty voice, come-hither (yet insinuating innocence) look, and lets not forget the tall graceful form that only a ballerina can have. 

For me, it's her unmistakable sincerity and love for what she does that comes through in her videos and performance. Also the fact that she does nothing to induce sex appeal (ass shaking and such) and yet you can't your eyes off her. She's sexy without trying too hard to be. How many female performers can do that these days? In a world where Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black are thought to be 'music artists', this may give humanity some hope that there still is a sense of order in the world, and good music is still out there. 

But the main reason why she's such a hit, I think, is the fact that she's different in the right way. Her music is different, her videos are so different you cant look away, and her mixture of classical dance moves with her own quirky style is different. But like I said: different in the right way. 


Still not convinced?

         
       

Ok, how about now?