My brain's probably sublimating some of the stress and strain from my thesis into a more manageable and controllable part of my life. I think that my brain should probably suck it and listen to me. I have no patience for sublimation, denial, nervous hysteria, and any other coping mechanisms. It can. suck. it.
On a more positive note, not only have I gotten to watch 'Wicked' and enjoy it thoroughly (I was in a near-constant state of exhilaration), but a large hump in the house repair and renovations has finally been surmounted. It is such a relief to have most everything done. Now we've just got to return most of the things back to where they belong, which is a trial in itself. Boo.
And now, books.
The last two chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I don't know if my friend and I are starting on Book Two immediately, or if we're going to take a break? Well, here goes.
So we've got Hogwarts during finals week! Tapdancing pineapples, mice into snuffboxes, remembering ingredients to potions... I remember this post I saw on Tumblr, where the OP says that she never understood why Harry and Ron never wanted to study or do their homework, when she would have thrown everything to the wind to do their essays. I really, really get what she means by that. Interesting bits: the giant squid!!!, the thing right at the beginning of the chapter, "In years to come, Harry would never remember how he had managed to get through his exams when he half expected Voldemort to come bursting through the door at any moment.", and the Trio's realisation that they didn't know where Dumbledore's office was.
Why did Voldemort wait so long to make his move? He had gotten the information about Fluffy ages ago, and Norbert's hatched and gone already. Did Quirrell want to make sure that he got all his coursework and paper checking out of the way? Were they lulling Snape into a false sense of security and hoping his work would distract him? Did Quirrell want to master the harp so as to not disappoint Fluffy with substandard playing? We will never know.
Okay, I am disappointed in McGonnagall and Snape here. Either they're just plot-conveniently stupid at this point, or Dumbledore is just that terrible. #chessmaster #oldmenwithtwinklyeyes #rulingwithkindness The kids know about the Stone! If the first year children who've been busy with finals know about the stone ANYONE could know about the Stone! Also, Snape, really, you ALREADY KNEW about Quirrell what are you doing. This is why I like copperbadge's interpretation in Laocoon's Children more. Also, also, who else heard Alan Rickman when Snape says, "[...] people will think you're up to something." because I totally did.
Harry's little outburst/tirade here is adorable but totally on-point. It's also like this tiny taste of all his all-caps in book five. (I wonder if Gianina will make it to book five?) "I'll use the Invisibility Cloak[...] It's just lucky I got it back." #ChosenSacrifice Another adorable thing is Hermione's hundred and twelve percent on her exam and her surety re: never getting kicked out. Another-another adorable thing is Neville and his standing up to the Trio. FOOL HIM ONCE, SHAME ON YOU, etc. Not adorable: Ron wanting to kick Mrs. Norris.
Into the trapdoor! I was really disappointed that they changed the Devil's Snare bit in the movie, because it's totally the death of Hermione's muggle brain. Also the blue flames! I'd actually like to think that Dumbledore planned all the traps and that he wanted Neville to go with them since we know (in future books) that he's good at Herbology. Neville really doesn't come into his own until much, much later in the series, and it's a bit of a pity. Actually who are we kidding, Neville or not, Dumbledore totally planned every bit of these trials: convenient seeker, logic, and chess skills? Designed to allow only one to get to the end? (Are the potions self-replenishing? I see why they removed them from the movie, but kept the chess set and the rubble implying a game had been played before theirs.) On a meta-level, we know that Rowling could've done this for /reasons/ but come one isn't it more fun to think of Dumbledore as the ultimate strategist? It's just perfect in light of the next six books.
Okay, I totally freaked when I first read this book and it wasn't Snape. IN MY DAY, there were a lot less plot twists, so I was completely suckered into this. Grade school me was never ready for it.
FUCKING QUIRRELL. AND HIS TURBAN. And his info-dump. IT WAS I, ALL ALONG, HARRY POTTER. MEEEE. Let me even tell you that Snape and your dad were at school together and that they didn't like each other as I have all the time in the world, yes.
Okay, query: the Mirror of Erised was in that abandoned classroom that Harry conveniently found during the Christmas holidays so that he would learn how to use it. The Stone had been removed from Gringott's before the term began. Where had the Stone been hidden this entire time? ALSO, Dumbledore totally baited Quirrell because come on, he was like dear faculty I need to hide a thing, help me hide the thing and
DUMBLEDORE, Y'ALL. He did the wizarding equivalent of covering his eyes and counting backwards from a hundred, popped back into Hogwarts to defeat the distracted Voldemort. Harry could have died in book one and Dumbledore would have been able to kill Voldemort before he regained his strength. BUT LO, the power of LOVE helped Harry survive, and allowed Voldemort to be sufficiently concerned about dying that he escaped before Dumbledore finished him off. SERIOUSLY.
I'd like to think that that was Lily Potter's final 'Fuck you' from the grave.
So Dumbledore tells Harry what happened, since there were no other witnesses, and Harry is told that the Stone was destroyed because, "..to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." Which he totally cribbed from Peter Pan, thanks, and implanted in Harry, a Lost Boy, the idea that dying is not so bad if it is the right time for it! He is eleven, Dumbledore. ELEVEN. And then he withholds the information about the prophecy to protect Harry? And then he obfuscated the stuff about Snape and James??
What's terrible is that Harry knows that Dumbledore orchestrated the whole thing, yet he's convinced that Dumbledore did it as a favour to him. BABY.
I am seriously concerned for Harry Potter. I didn't think about being worried for him when I was his age. I thought it was okay and adventooor and haha sticking it to the man. BUT NO. I am so glad I'm re-reading this. Thank goodness Harry Potter has Ron and Hermione. Even though Ron wants to be Dumbledore and admires him greatly (and there are so many parallels between them??? but that's in book seven, okay so moving on). Okay, and that bit with Hagrid and the album is lovely :') and we all hope he's learned a valuable lesson from this school year. #hagrid #bestpawn
When I was younger, I felt p. triumphant when Dumbledore gives the extra points to Gryffindor and takes the House Cup away from Slytherin. But this re-read made me think about that bit Harry said in the penultimate chapter, how things are beyond points now, how it's about war, and death. The entire school knows about what happened albeit that it was solely Quirrell operating, but Dumbledore's made it all about the points again.
It takes four books for them to realise and admit that Voldemort is back when he could have announced it to the entire wizarding world after what happened. IDK GUYS.
The kids get their yearly reminders not to use their magic over the holidays, informing us about the Restriction against the use of Underage Wizardry as well, and everyone goes back on the Hogwarts Express like nothing bad had happened. Although, Harry is happier, his friends wish him well and want to see him over the summer, unnamed students want to say good-bye to him, and Mrs. Weasley is still the best. She was a complete stranger at the beginning of the book :') And Hermione's all appalled at Mr. Dursley and defensive of Harry. FRIENDS.
And back to the Dursley's he goes.
/end Book One
Okay, non-Potter reading.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller took a while to finish. I didn't really like how it started as the narrators were jumpy and jarring, and the timeline felt disjointed and manic. I even admitted to Kam that it was well-written, but almost incomprehensible. BUT, I now know that this book is pretty fucking awesome. It is without any kind of flaw. I had just been unready to receive it at the beginning. It's an absurd novel, but it could never have been anything else, and been able to discuss the paradoxical nature of its subject in such a cruelly effective manner? A week after complaining to Kam, I remember calling her to crow victoriously, "IT'S A CLASSIC FOR A REASON!"
Parasite by Mira Grant was something I'd been looking forward to reading as I a) love parasites, and b) had just finished reading the Newsfeed Trilogy last year. I liked most of this book, however the one part I didn't like is a major plot point that was meant to be built up to, and then revealed, in the latter part of the novel. Lots of cool stuff though and great details though, so I still would recommend it. I'm hoping the rest of the series will be stronger.
Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe was just released on January 14, so it was my new release read for January! (I'm trying to do at least one 2014 release a month. I won't hold my breath.) It's a fairly short novel, but it really packs a wallop. It's set in New York and Nigeria, but most of the story occurs in the latter. It's crisply-written, paced very well, and has a well-rounded narrator.
Matthew mentioned Magic Zero by Thomas E. Sniegoski and Christopher Golden to me a few weeks ago because his younger brother had recently gotten into the series. I checked out the synopsis on Amazon and decided to give it a whack because the concept seemed interesting. It's definitely in the kid-book range, but I've read other Christopher Golden books before, the ones associated with Mike Mignola, and heard good things about Sniegoski from my other friends. It wasn't a bad book per se, but the pacing was off, and the characters weren't well-developed enough that I got attached to them or their concerns. The world seems interesting enough, so I'll probably check out the rest of the Outcast quartet in the future.
The Scar by China Mieville
Babayaga by Toby Barlow and The Dragon Charmer by Jan Siegel
Next Twenty Reads:
1. S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
2. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
3. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
4. The Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
5. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
6. The Magic Kingdom by Stanley Elkin
7. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
8. My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
9. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
10. The Magic Kingdom by Stanley Elkin
11. Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis
12. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
13. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
14. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
15. The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
16. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
17. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
18. Countdown City by Ben Winters
19. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
20. Inheritance by Malinda Lo