Jane’s Great Re-Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Aw yeah. Re-reading Prisoner of Azkaban was a complete joy. This really is J K Rowling writing at her best here. No extraneous bits, the plots moves at a thundering pace and it is fantastic. Even the time travelling which is notorious to pull off well is competently done. The character development really starts here, we start to learn more about Snape and some of the reasons why he hated James Potter so much. Oh Severus, so much disappointment for you in this novel.

So without further ado five things from Prisoner

  1. Minerva Mcgonagall being disrespectful and passive aggressive towards Professor Trelawney and barely even managing to conceal it from the students. My favourite dig comes from Christmas dinner where Sibyl has been waxing lyrical and she counters by picking up a dish: “Tripe, Sybil?”
  2. Remus Lupin. The best Defence Against Dark Arts teacher ever. Marauder’s map manufacturer and werewolf. He gets a bum deal in this novel yet still fights for what is right.
  3. The dementors. They are a brilliant representation of depression and they are one of the most disturbing things in the the series of novels.
  4. That said I love way to fight them is a Patronus which is the essence of happiness in animal form. I would really like to have one of my own. It would probably a cat.
  5. Chocolate as the remedy for a Dementor attack. I try to always carry some round just in case.

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Gatekeepers and why I’m not a fan

I have a problem with Gatekeepers in geekdom and fandom. Self-appointed guardians of what it means to be a fan. Those who have a personal credo and if you don’t know the answers to the questions or you weren’t there at the beginning then you can’t be a real fan.

I’m quite a sensitive person, I’m a survivor of bullying and I hate us and them mentalities. I understand the need for folks to create their own communities where they create safe spaces and the desire to control that space by building walls around it and pulling up the drawbridge. I am someone who usually ends up outside the castle and from the outside all these coteries, cliques and fandom look mean.

I also struggle with those who can only things their way and who insist others follow their example whether it is right for them or not. Those who create a cult of personality around them to ensure that they get their own way. It is a subtle form of bullying but it is a form of bullying, especially when their own rules are used to put others down.

I avoid these spaces and folks who behave this way – that said you can stumble across these people accidentally and before you know it you are feeling like you have done something unforgivable when all you have done is expressed an opinion.

I think what I’m trying to put forward, rather inelegantly is that there is always a plurality of ways of looking at things and there are no definitive answers when it comes to fandoms. Anything can and indeed will go. Judging people who do not conform to your expectations is not good, snarking about them or their fandom or the way they take part in fandom is just low and if its being done to make themselves feel better, then maybe some time reflecting on this is the best way forward.

Jane’s Great Re-read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – the verdict

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As I previously mentioned Chamber of Secrets was always my least favourite of the series and I think my memory let me down a bit with this. This is a good thing because it was much much better than I remember. I think there are parts to this story that really don’t make sense until you read The Half-Blood Prince and that’s okay but it feels a little bit foggy in places.

I think part of the issue is that my memories of the book are tainted by the film adaptation. Dobby is far less annoying in the book than he is in the film. The humour is far more evident in the books and there is a lot of funny moments which I had a real joy in rediscovering.

So without further ado: five things about Chamber of Secrets.

  1. Valentine’s Day specifically the teacher’s reactions to the hideous pinkness of it all.
  2. Dobby: Better you be sent home grieviously injured than dead.
  3. Arthur Weasley being more concerned with how the flying Ford Anglia flew rather than Fred, George and Ron borrowing it.
  4. The headless Hunt
  5. “Never trust anything where you cannot see where it keeps it’s brain.”

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Jane’s Great ReRead: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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I’m tackling this in two parts: the first general experience of re-reading for the millionth time and secondly five things that made me tingly warm in a fangirl sense.

I have tried to count up how many times I’ve read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, definitely more than seven, I’m guessing maybe as many as ten I discovered Harry Potter in my final year of University and I was going to be an English Teacher so I made a point of reading ‘kids books’ so that I would have a wealth of recommendations for students (I was exceedingly idealistic even if it didn’t work out for me). I fell in love with the universe, the names, the characters the idea of Hogwarts the amazingness that was Minerva McGonnagall and Neville Longbottom.

Prior to this read the last time I read Philosopher’s Stone would have been more than five years ago. Re-reading this books was like a comfy pair of slippers, every sequence an old friend reassuring and warming. It is still a cracking story, 223 pages of magic.

One thing I noticed was how stilted the dialogue was, even for 1997 it was slightly old fashioned but that’s really the only thing that stuck out. Hogwarts still feels like home and that’s a great thing.

So the five things:

  1. Sirius Black is mentioned and we know nothing more about him until Prisoner of Azkaban.
  2. Deadalus Diggle and his green sparks, it really is one of my favourite names
  3. “You knew, you knew I was a wizard.”
  4. The complete muggleness of the Dursleys.  They really are horrific creations.
  5. The centaurs, half man half horse.  I love the cyptic clues they give.

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Well hello insomnia

Funny thing going back to the day job after a glorious couple of weeks off is the rising tide of panic and belief that I can no longer do the job.

Thanks brain you really are super special.

My anxiety and its best pal the Fear were in tag team super force last night as I tried and failed to sleep seeing midnight, 1.00am, 2.00am and 3.00am before losing conciousness for the alarm to wake me at 6.30am.

I could do without the insomnia but it has become a pattern that when I am due to go back to work it will kick in with a vengeance.

This leaves me in a less than optimum state for doing stuff at work the following day and completely wiped out.

I wish there was a way to calm self.  In the rational light of day I know I can do my job and well.  I also hate the fact that this has become a pattern. Will have to work on my Sunday night-itis.

2014 frustration in a nut shell

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I really didn’t manage to get anywhere near as much writing as I wanted to. The reasons behind this are many and varied. My job is still quite demanding and has not settled into a pattern I can control yet.  Coupled with extended periods of extremely brain busy times which leave me with no capacity to do more than the basics. This sucks but until the situation changes which I’m hoping it will soon then that is going to remain. I am also a creature with hobbies. Musical theatre, board gaming and knitting crochet all of which a necessary to my well being to stop me going completely off the rails. But there is a part of me that feels hugely guilty that I don’t write more.

One of the things I need to do is make space for writing physically in my house I’ve made my office a dumping ground and that needs to change so I am going to have to get my bum in gear and do so sorting of stuff.

Next I’m challenging myself to write something by the end of January. Some poetry or a short story something small and doable. I feel like there is a solid white box sitting in my brain doing nothing but taking up space allowing me nothing but the ability to get the barest of essentials done. The box needs moving breaking down and redistributing but it is swollen and doesn’t want to move.

I’m aware that it sounds weird. Maybe to go with a computer analogy my hard disc is full, I need a RAM upgrade and a defragging. A hard reset wouldn’t go amiss. Though to be fair I could do without the smashing into a wall and dissolving that usually precedes them.

That said the rest over the festive period combined with headcold of doom has meant I’ve had to rest so that should help recharge.