OK, this is going to be a difficult read for some, and hardly like the rest of the blogs I've done on this forum but...I need to get this off my chest.
In short, recent news (that I've seen from The Young Turks and Secular Talk, both talk shows on YouTube) have left me very pissed off at what's happening here in America. Unarmed black guys getting killed by cops, riots breaking out with cities like Charlotte being turned into pseudo-warzones with more innocent people getting hurt. This is, of course, ignoring the whole Trump/Hillary thing.
Just... What in the flying FUCK, America!? A part of me wonders if "united" means anything anymore. We're just one step away from killing each other all over again. United? Ha! From what I've seen, we're far from that. Some part of me wonders if, deep down, we were just looking for a reason to start killing/maiming each other...that we never truly, actually liked each other. Give me a few examples, if you please, to show that we genuinely give two shits about each other.
I feel ashamed to be American, ashamed to be in this country. I want to live somewhere else. Europe, specifically the UK but I don't have the finances to do that. I want to like my country, I want to believe that there are good things about America, that we Americans aren't just deranged animals looking for a reason to tear each other's throats out...but the news is making it very hard for me to see that.
So that's that. :/ I've completely lost faith in America and my own people.
WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHOY FOR ANYONE WHO HASN'T READ IT AND CARES ABOUT NOT BEING SPOILED!!!
IF YOU DO READ IT AND ARE SPOILED, THEN WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF?
<takes out wand>
In short, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins 19 years after The Deathly Hallows, picking up exactly where the epilogue of the seventh book left off. Now, if you're expecting a prose-styled format, you will be in for a shock. It's not. It's written out in a screenplay format, as if they took the script of the play (that's what it was initially) and stuck it together and called it a book.
I...don't think I like the format. For starters, there's little to no description of the new characters so I've no idea what they're supposed to look like. For example, I imagine Harry looking exactly as he did at age 17 when he's in his late-30s/early-40s in this book. Nostalgia makes me feel for these characters but if I honestly had never read any of the previous seven books, I probably would not have given a single damned about any of them. Prose-style, like what...99.99% of books everywhere uses lets readers grow to understand and feel what the characters are thinking. Instead all we have are their words and sparse actions. I kind of understand why they're doing it, but I'm not sure if I have any emotional investment in their actions.
The whole theme revolves around the notion of parenthood and trying to come to terms with the actions of the parents. Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy have their own internal battles. Albus thinks Harry doesn't love him and is tired of being the son of the most famous wizard ever; and Scorpius has an even nastier history: there's a rumor that he's really Voldemort's child, not Draco's. The plot kicks off when they hatch a plan to steal a Time-Turner to go all the way back to the events of Goblet of Fire and prevent Cedric Diggory's death at the hands of Voldemort. Yes, you read that right. This isn't a Time-Turner that lets you go back hours, this takes you back YEARS.
Albus' motivation is, as I understand it, that he didn't think it was fair that Cedric had to die as he was “the spare”, so he figured he would correct this one mistake. He drags poor Scorpius into it, so I actually feel for the boy. I actually liked Scorpius more than Albus: Albus came off as your typical whiny “Whaaaa I don't like my daddy!” He actually reminded me of Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens to tell you the truth. Scorpius seemed like an innocent, decent kid with a lot of baggage he didn't ask for. Ironically, he reminded me strongly of Harry from the first book. Albus? I actually wanted Harry to pull a Vernon Dursley and punch the brat.
Speaking of the Dursleys, there is a very touching moment when it's revealed that Petunia Dursley had actually kept the blanket Harry was wrapped in as an infant after all these years. When she died, Dudley found it and gave it to Harry. And it was this scene that really made me wish Harry took a leaf from Vernon's book. Harry is trying to have a bonding moment with Albus by giving him the most important, personal thing second only to the Invisibility Cloak and Albus basically verbally shits on it, throws it against the wall and tells Harry to the effect of, “I wish I wasn't your son!”
At any rate, I was disappointed we didn't get to see Dudley. You'd think with all the theme of parenthood, family, and reconciliation, we'd get to see Dudley. Maybe he invites the Potter family to his house for dinner and we learn what's been happening to him?? Nope, we just get one brief mention of him and we don't hear of him again. GAH! What happened here? Clearly the two reconciled, otherwise Harry wouldn't be speaking so fondly of him. I know they had the handshake when they parted in the seventh book but I wanted to know more! >:C
Back to the plot, the whole “going back in time to save Cedric” basically screws with time. Albus and Scorpius accidentally create alternate realities where Hermione is a professor at Hogwarts, or a darker reality where Voldemort won and a new age of Darkness has dawned. It's explained that because they intervened and made Cedric lose the first two tasks, history changed so it's kind of like the Butterfly Effect? I dunno, but I fail to see how Cedric losing the first two matches would change anything. As I understand it, Cedric was never meant to grab the Portkey that got them to the graveyard so even if he lost, things would play out the same only Cedric wouldn't be dead.
As for Harry himself? Well, I can understand his stress because his own son's missing (note: the subplot is Harry and the other characters we've known from the main series trying to find Albus and Scorpius) but there were moments I felt he acted way out of character, such as threatening frickin' McGonnagal that he'd use his entire power as a Ministry agent on her and Hogwarts if she didn't use the Maurader's Map to keep track of his kid. I thought, “Who are you, and what have you done with Harry?” At one point, Draco confronts him and basically goes, “WTF?! You go into Hogwarts, threaten two professors, re-arrange school timetables so our sons can't be together...on the word of a centaur??!” I actually agreed with Draco here, even began to sympathize with him when Harry starts implying that Scorpius is dangerous. Wow, good job Harry. Draco's sick with worry over his son's safety, he's trying to quell rumors that his son is the child of the wizard equivalent of Adolf Hitler and you have to pull that? Come to think of it, Draco and Scorpius actually reminded me more of Harry from the main series than Harry himself did! I'm not sure if that was the intent or not but...damn. At times I found myself wishing the play was more focused on the Malfoys rather than the Potters as I felt both Draco and Scorpius had more to lose, not that I'm saying Harry and Ginny's issue of “OH MY GOD OUR SON IS MISSING!!!” is trivial of course. I'm just saying that these two had more issues to work with, what with Draco's dad being a Death Eater, him becoming a widower, and having to deal with the vicious rumors about his son being Voldemort's child.
The finale? Well, this is Harry Potter after all, and the whole plot focused on the kids trying to alter a very important moment in Harry's life so...I'm gonna let you all fill in the blanks. Suffice to say, I...felt kind of let down with the book. I liked Scorpius, but most of our attention was on Albus, the annoying brat.
So...I'm gonna have to rate this book a 5/10. :[
To anyone else who read it, what are your thoughts??
Here's a list I've compiled after Imaginarily looked over a story I PM'd her for critique. Hopefully this will be of help for not only me, but for everyone else.
#1- DON'T INFO DUMP!!
Seriously, don't. You've got the entire book to build your world. Keep in mind that what you reveal will be through your character and his/her personal opinions and interests. If you must discuss something, make sure it's something that's relevant for the character or for the plot at that appropriate time. If your character enters a house, don't wax lyrical about when the house was built, who owned it previous, etc. If all that is crucial to the story, give it to us sparingly to add to the air of mystery. I mean, can you imagine it like...
ROBIN: “Egads! This house once belonged to Mr. Witherford, Amos! Our culprit!”
AMOS: “Uh, dude?” <gives him the book> “Everything was spelled out in the first twenty pages. And way to go with the expository dialogue, bro.”
#2- EMOTIONAL CONNECTION!!
This is not a police report or a wikipedia page. Your characters are living the story as its being told; so their emotions have to feel real. Let them live in their actions and feelings. This is the only way you're gonna get your readers to care about your characters at all.
#3- SHOW, DON'T TELL!!
Unless it's not necessary, show the readers what's going on, don't just tell them. If your character is in pain, let the readers feel that pain, Make it suck for both the character and the reader.
#4- BE VAGUE!!
You don't always have to give a blow-by-blow account of every action your character takes. This isn't a script for a movie or a TV show. This isn't a comic strip. Sometimes you can be vague about certain things.
“Amos grabbed the cup and tapped his way out of the room” is a lot better than, “With his left hand, Amos quickly grabbed the cup and slowly tapped his way out of the room, sweeping his cane side-to-side.”
Leave room for the readers to imagine what's going on.
#5- DESCRIBE WHAT'S RELEVANT!!
By this, I mean you describe what is relevant for the scene, the character, and the plot. When I read, I don't mind brief descriptions to get a general idea of what's going on, but if there's a whole paragraph dedicated to the fact that there's a curious gouge in the wall of the character's home and there's nothing more said beyond ‘Oh, that exists’, then I'd be a bit disappointed.
#6- USE THE SENSES!!
Assuming your character isn't in a coma, chances are he/she is experiencing the world in some form or fashion. Examples:
“Amos gagged, pinched his nose with his fingers as the raw, putrid smell assaulted his sinuses.”
“Small strands of spider web caressed his cheeks, tickling them. Amos brushed and pulled it off. ”
“He took a swig of the beer, felt the sharp taste in his mouth.”
“A loud boom attracted his attention, he spun around toward the source, listening carefully for any new development.”
Yes, I know Amos is blind, but the point still stands. Even if your character is blind, deaf, blind+deaf, or can't smell (like me), he/she can still interact with the world with whatever senses he/she has.
#7- BE CONCISE!!
@Imaginarily said it best when she critiqued my work: if you can convey the same message/meaning with fewer words, do it. I am reminded of a passage in Paolini's Eldest where Paolini went on a tangent about how Eragon closed his eyes and drifted off to a realm where all things were possible. As in, the dude went to sleep.
#8- FAMILIAR THINGS!!
OK, so your story is set in a fantasy/sci-fi setting with all sorts of things that don't exist in our world. Start by showing something that's familiar within our world, or maybe even within the genre (ie, something they'd be familiar with like a spaceship battle or envoys talking with the king of a foreign land before assassins start shanking fools.) Gradually introduce the readers into your world by first showing them what's familiar, then surprise them with stuff they've never seen before.
I may be missing more, but these were the tips I wrote down for future references. Hope this helps others.
Hey, I've been doing some preliminary readings involving the UK leaving the European Union across the various forums. Some of the British folks I know there (and some here) are afraid, panicking, etc. Reactions vary from one end to the other, and some are very upset about this, especially in the other writing forum. If I remember correctly, a British poster on the Zelda Universe forum even declared that this was the demise of the UK.
Now a caveat: I'm an American. I've absolutely no clue about how British politics and laws work. This may sound a bit arrogant of me because who am I, an American on the other side of the world, to tell the British what to feel when their country voted to leave the European Union? Still, I wanted to get this out to you all.
<puts on preacher robes and stands on a conveniently placed soap box>
In short... Whatever happens, whatever consequence arises from this choice, you all will pull through. Yeah, it must be scary because it's different, something new (something old, something blue-*is shot*) but you all will pull through. One way or another, you all will pull through. You've done it before. When World War II happened, and it was just you lot against the terrifying might of Nazi Germany, when the London Blitz was raging in the skies, you all pulled through. You all survived. Hell, dare I say it, I think the UK and the USSR basically won World War II all by themselves. Everyone else (who could) just helped.
For those who didn't approve of Margaret Thatcher and her policies? Well, you survived that as well. Northern Ireland survived all the bombings and shootings in the latter part of the 20th-century. This just illustrates to me how powerful a nation can be, its people. Everywhere in the globe. No matter what happens, no matter what changes or calamity visits a people they pull through. They survive. Whether it be the UK leaving the European Union, or the US facing the reality of a Trump or Clinton presidency, or all the horrible shit you see on the news. People pull through. They adapt. They survive.
So whatever happens, I think you all will survive. The UK will keep on doing its thing. It did before, I see no reason why it couldn't do it now.
Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest.
I think I just made a very important step psychologically. A crucial victory in my self-improvement and personal happiness. It's hard to put it into words, but it feels liberating. I feel like I've just been let out of jail (to use a clichéd phrase.) I feel free.
I think I just overcame my own worst enemy: myself. I think I just conquered my own inner-bully. For those who may not know what that is, imagine a common bully that puts you down either physically or emotionally. In this case, however, the bully resides within you. It's basically your evil half for want of better word. I think I just outright destroyed that son of a bitch.
To fully understand how I did this, I think I need to start over from the beginning, when all this came into being. And before you say it, yes, it involves Historium and the cyber bully who used to put me down because I was an American. Please stick with me on this, I promise there's a point to it all. I can't very well just go, “Huzzah! I've slain the beast!” without first explaining everything that happened up to this point now can I? That's not how a story works.
The cyber bullying had left me filled with vindictive rage. Understandable, as I had done nothing to this poster and he goes to shit on me because I just happened to be from a country he didn't like. It boiled in me, festered on the inside. Sometimes I would lash out by passively-aggressively asking the internet if it were OK if I studied/wrote things related to the United States (re: see the thread I linked in my last blog.) But then something happened, I began distancing myself from things that I liked (ie, the American Civil War, American literature, etc.) because I wasn't allowed to like it. While I didn't know it at the time, I pinned it all on this poster who was long gone from the forum in question. Everything was his fault; my suffering was his fault. He was the big bad monster.
But then I made that blog about revenge. Why? Because it occurred to me for the first time ever that what I was doing was not only hurting myself, but the people around me. But I was especially hurting myself.
This was especially evident last night when I was browsing Listverse. I stumbled upon an article listing ten countries who provided foreign aid to the US (mostly around the time of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Gulf oil spill.) Pretty heartwarming stuff, right? Look at these humans, putting aside their differences to help fellow humans in need! Awesome! Go humans! Even the commentary was very friendly, where at one point an Australian commentator was wishing an American commentator well when she went to go have a baby, and congratulated her when the baby was born.
“I'm surprised,” a inner-voice peaked in my head, “Figured everyone would hate you and the US. They're all just lying, wearing masks that disguises their true nature! Exhibit-”
I caught it. And for the first time in my life I realized it. All those moments when the inner-voice told me that humans were incapable of coexisting peacefully, that kindness between two different cultures was merely a facade to hide the fact that they really do hate each other and wish to see the other one destroyed, all those moments I told myself I wasn't allowed to be happy because of [xyz reason related to that poster]...
That was my inner-bully. That was me. That was me, not some long-gone poster I hadn't seen in years. I was hurting myself. “Your pain was real!” it would argue, but who is in control of my emotions? Who gets to control how I feel? I do.
Korra from Avatar: Legend of Korra once had this to say: “You're oppressing yourself!” I never knew what she meant until I looked at what I was doing. Essentially, I was making myself miserable by coming up with a whole host of reasons why I shouldn't be happy and do what I want, pinning it on some external source. I was making myself miserable by convincing myself that no way would humans ever be able to coexist peacefully despite their differences, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. I took one nasty moment in my life and used it as justification as to why I shouldn't be happy, why humans were all rotten to the core. As a result, I was growing bitter and spiteful. Depressed. What's the point of being happy if people are basically cowards looking to get one over you? Looking for an excuse to turn their backs on you when you need them the most?
But at the end, I was only hurting myself. That old fart's long gone. As much of an asshole he was to me, I have one thing he'll never have. And to those who were/are bullied, you have one thing they'll never have: The ability to choose to be happy. None of us can control how other people act, but we can control how we act and feel.
I've finally let go of the grudge. I'm at peace, and now I'm learning when to catch that inner-bully and put a stop to it before it goes too far. So for those who were witness to my drama about that forum: sorry you had to see that. Wasn't fair for me to take it out on the internet, even if what I felt was genuine. Life's too short to spend it feeling bitter and spiteful over something that happened years ago.
<takes a deep breath>
It's a new day. And it looks brilliant.
Separate names with a comma.