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Post-Potter Depression

Oh please, like you lot didn’t see this one coming a mile away.

Yes, my friends, it’s over. I’ve seen the film twice. I’ve suited up (a Hogwarts uniform counts, right?) for the midnight premier. I’ve begun re-reading The Philosopher’s Stone. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and it really has changed my life.

I’ve expressed all these conflicting emotions in my tumblr post here–hang on, I haven’t told you about my tumblr yet?! Oh, well, it’s very much like this blog, except the url reads “thenewsarahjane” instead of “p0serge3k” and there are rather more GIFs floating about and I rant less. Feel free to check it out.

Or just enjoy this lovely visual of my post-Potter depression:

It hurts so good!

Also, you should all know that RG is quite possibly my soul mate, as evidenced by this little tidbit:

The director of “The Prisoner of Azkaban” gave Daniel, Emma and Rupert homework. They had to write an essay on their character. Daniel wrote 10 pages, Emma submitted a well written and beautifully detailed 60 pages, and Rupert didn’t hand in anything. When confronted he just said, “I’m doing what Ron would do”.


I Love Books

I may be a little late to the party on this issue, but, as is my want, I’m going to add my two cents. (Possibly even three.) Are you ready? Good, because the next sentence you’ll read here is extremely important.

YA saves.

What does that mean? Well, it’s in response to this article by the Wall Street Journal, which, to be frank, makes me angry. Stop saying that! You’re not Frank, you’re Sarah Jane. (Gotta love the Dad humor.)

But I digress. The article in question raises objections about contemporary young adult literature, specifically those novels that deal with real-life issues such as bullying, rape, abuse, suicide, and self harm. The article postulates that such novels are harmful to teens and appears to defend censorship of such literature in libraries and book stores. Now, this is of particular interest to me as I am a) a writer of young adult fiction and b) an avid reader of the genre. I am, after all, only twenty. It was not so long ago that I was in the age bracket to which these books are marketed, and, last time I checked (two minutes ago), they were still relevant to my life.

Meghan Cox Gurdon, the writer of the article in question, claims that YA novels dealing with dark themes are harmful to those that read them. She claims that “…a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.” Mrs. Gurdon, I think you’re missing the point of these novels.

Typically, I don’t like to generalize (see what I did there?), but since Gurdon has done so with relish in her article, I’ll have to adopt a similar tactic to counter her argument. So, here I go. Most YA novels of a “dark” thematic nature exist to give a voice to those who haven’t been able to speak out. A teen who has been through some sort of trauma may read a fictional account of struggles similar to hers and think, “I’m not alone.”  But, more importantly, she will read of her fictional counterpart’s recovery and think, “I have hope.”

It may sound sappy, but I believe that is the greatest power YA fiction possesses: hope. The darkest bits of a YA novel can be very dark, but they have to be in order for us to recognize the light at the end of the tunnel, however dim it is. One can’t just ignore the things Gurdon objects to because they’re not pretty. That happens enough in the real world, which is why there is suffering to be written about. The aim is to bring that suffering to light–to force people to acknowledge it, ugly though it may be, so that we can do something to fix it.

And how can we do that if disgruntled individuals who prefer to stay ignorant call for censorship of these novels? To shut these stories in a dark room where no one can look upon them is to deprive teens of a vital lens through which to view the world. Young adults who might have been saved by a novel’s message would never hear it, and people who might have been encouraged to act–to report their tormentors to the police, to rally against the evils in our society, to help others who have been through hardship–would sit idle.

And then there’s that whole issue of how censorship is WRONG (I don’t use that world lightly). It is a parent’s responsibility to judge what is and is not appropriate for their own children. It is neither their responsibility nor their right to decide that for others’ children. Let’s put it this way: my parents let me read whatever novels I chose, regardless of how disturbing the content may have been. If Suzy’s mother had forbidden me from reading those novels, would I have listened? No. It’s not her choice. So, Suzy’s mom (you’re a metaphor, by the way, but I’ll understand if you’re not familiar with that concept), why don’t you focus a little less on me and a little more on Suzy? Because here’s the truth: if a teenager wants to read a book that chronicles a boy’s desire for suicide, she should do so. And then she should be able to talk to her parents about what she’s read, to synthesize ideas and think deeply about the issues brought to light by the novel.

Young adult fiction author Maureen Johnson said it best when she posted this graph on Twitter (via photobucket’s Half-Lighter):

Discussion is key. Gurdon posits that “Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it” and she may be right. However, literature is not just entertainment. It is a mirror that reflects facets of ourselves with which we may not be familiar, and a lens that allows us to look upon the world through someone else’s eyes. And perhaps a young adult will become attracted to darker novels because of his experiences with certain YA fiction, but if he is taught to process what he has read and to learn from it, he can do nothing but benefit.

A few things to ponder:

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, blogs beautifully on the issue here.

Twitter user Foz Meadows says “#YASaves because books can say things that other people won’t, whether peers, parents or teachers. We read silently, but it is not silence.”

Twitter user Robin Wasserman says “Without books, I would have been alone. Trapped. Without hope. If adolescence is a cage, books are the key. #yasaves

The YA community’s response to the WSJ article as covered in novel novice.

This picture:

If you’re still skeptical, do me a favour and read up on book burnings in Nazi Germany. Or, here’s a wacky idea, read Fahrenheit 451. (See, I did get something sci-fi related in here!)

Thanks for reading. And thanks for Reading.

A Few of My Favourite Things

Hey! Remember how I love Doctor Who? And remember how I love Neil Gaiman? And remember how I love charlieissocoollike? Well, now all three are together in one beautiful TARDIS shaped package full of wacky hair and British accents! Yes, all is right with the world.

You see, many moons ago, Neil Gaiman posted this picture on his Twitter account: 

Which of course made the little fangirl in me make truly mortifying excited noises.

Around the same time, Charlie McDonnell (AKA You Tube’s charlieissocoollike) gave us this lovely teaser image: 

And it’s entirely possible that my heart stopped beating for a spell. I’m better now.

In any case, these mystifying pictures culminated in an episode of Doctor Who complete with funny bits, scary bits, sad bits, and running about bits–all Neil Gaiman’s favourite bits–written by Gaiman himself. Impressive. The episode, entitled ‘The Doctor’s Wife,’ was everything we could want from the series, which I’m sure Gaiman would be pleased to hear. He and Charlie had a nice chat about the episode, the TARDIS, and the program in general, and BBC graced us with the footage earlier today. 

Brilliant! Bravo Charlie and Neil! I laughed, I cried, it changed my life. Alright, really I just laughed. Still, well worth the 7:07 minutes. (By the by, was that intentional? Seven is an awfully magical number for an awfully magical trifecta of awesome.)

In other news, Neil and Charlie aren’t the only ones who’ve spent time with the TARDIS.

Shut up fangirl! Quiet!

It has to be just very complicated Solitaire

It’s me–I’m back!

Did you miss me?


Well bugger off and read someone else’s blog then.

No, please stay!

All right, stop that! It’s silly. And a bit suspect, I think.

But really, after three weeks of final exams, stressful travel, exploits in NYC, and melting in the Florida heat, I’ve returned, and I’ve got things to tell you!

On today’s edition: Good Omens. They’re positive portents, they’re pleasant predictions, pleasing prophecies…I’ll stop. Really, I’m talking about the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a funny little book. It looks like this…

…or like this…

…or, more often, some derivation of this

Anyway, I’m a writing major and a religious studies minor, so this book is more or less my bible. The irony is not lost on me. Given the season finale of Supernatural–shining in all its sacrilegious glory (my kind of glory to the tee), full of ***SPOILERS*** rebelling angels, apocalypses averted (twice), deals with devils, and new gods–I’ve had religion on the mind. Especially Christianity, especially relating to heaven, hell, angels, demons, God, Satan, and especially the apocalypse.

What with the rapture coming and going more or less unnoticed (see, I didn’t want to go to heaven on Saturday–I’d have missed Doctor Who), I’ve been thinking a lot about what a funny thing an apocalypse is. If you ask me, contradictions are more or less inherent in its nature. The foremost of which is best represented by a rather blasphemous opinion I hold: heaven sounds painfully boring. I quite like earth, thank you very much, despite–no, because of all its flaws. What’s the point of life (or afterlife as the case may be) if there are no problems to solve, no conflicts to resolve, no goals to work for or improvements to be made? What fun is any of it if it’s all perfect?

That’s what I think Good Omens is about. It’s about the pros and cons of life on earth, about the balance of power in a world which may be a giant chess board, or a complex Solitaire spread, or a disc riding on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a turtle. Alright, probably not that last one. Good Omens is about right and wrong as opposed to Right and Wrong. It’s about prejudices realised and destinies averted. It’s about free will and whether free will was ever really all that free to begin with. It’s about mad old women who weren’t mad at all when you got right down to it, and it’s about very astute ducks.

And it’s brilliant.

Now, it doesn’t answer any of the Big Questions, really. We still don’t know the question of life, the universe, and everything, although I think Crowley and Aziraphale would have to agree that the answer is most certainly 42. (What is the atomic number of molybdenum? The critical angle of a rainbow? The wildcard character? I’m not even warm, am I? A Coldplay song? Now that can’t be right.) Good Omens does, however, make me smile. And I assume it’s made many other people smile, given how wildly popular it is. Either that, or I’m just reading it dead wrong.

I’m joking, of course. Good Omens is the sort of book that just can’t be read wrong. It’s also the sort of book that is about anything and everything, and possibly nothing at all, depending on how you look at it. (Although the bit about the ducks, that’s incontrovertible.)

So there it is, a book about the apocalypse that wasn’t. It seems we’ve seen quite a few of those in the last decade or two. And with another one due for next year, I think Good Omens is as relevant as ever. Or more so. It’s possibly the most relevant thing I’ve ever written about. (You see, writing about this novel is as close as I’ll ever come to actually having written it, which makes this entire entry rather a lot of wishful thinking.)

Wishful thinking. Dreaming. Questioning. I like to believe that’s the sort of thing we’re meant to do while we’re waiting for heaven or hell or the dark of a Death Cab for Cutie song or whatever it is that comes next. I like to believe that if there’s something or someone out there, up there, anywhere who expects anything of us, that someone/thing appreciates that we wonder, that we ponder, that we challenge superstition and supposition. Because Adam Young said it best: “I don’t see why it matters what is written. Not when it’s about people. It can always be crossed out.”

Witty blog title followed by explanatory subtitle

Me: This looks horribly familiar.

HBO: You’re seeing it now for the first time!

Me: If you say so–wait! I know exactly where I’ve seen that before!

Yeah…HBO’s ripping off one of my favourite comedy duos, Britanick. I got the news on Facebook earlier today as Nick posted the HBO video with this tagline: Veiled statement casually accusing a TV Network of plagiarism while at the same time expressing flattery.

Well, he’s never not funny, that’s for sure!

Anyway, this sort of irritates me (a lot), but the flood of fan support for Britanick in the HBO video’s You Tube comments ALMOST makes it worth the theft.

A few of the best:

And a thousand voices will be raised, crying, “NOOOOOO! They ripped off BriTANick, and did a p*ss-poor job of it, to boot!” And people everywhere will condemn the big network for ripping off brilliant artists without so much as an acknowledgment. (via allegritah)

“Watch something you haven’t seen a million times before”?? Really??? How about 2,555,334 times before?

Besides, Nick Kocher is MUCH more devastingly handsome. (via QuiteOrdinary)

And on Facebook:

“expression of sympathy followed by vague question about copyright law?” (via Roxanne Palmer)

Wait. When did this blog become me quoting other people’s humor from social media networks? Sorry guys, clearly there’s something hinky going on with my funny bone. That, or I just wasn’t funny to begin with. Yeah, it’s probably the latter. Go watch some Britanick. They’ll entertain you.

It’s an epic Where’s Waldo, Hide-and-Seek, Royal Wedding-Trumping event

Oh, that kind of event. Got it.

So…I’m never exactly excited about the loss of life, but I do enjoy the barrage of funny tweets and Facebook statuses that have resulted from Osama bin Laden’s death. Observe.

From my Facebook friends we have gems such as:

Told you I have friends.

And my personal favourite:
More death.

Also, from the Facebooks of the youth of Utah (my friend Andrea’s friends) we have:

Will somebody draw me a picture of Obama shooting Osama with a bayonetted civil war rifle that is actually a laser gun? I would like that.
Comment: And Osama is a vampire.

Osama Bin Laden: world hide and go seek champion 2001-2011.

Voldemort: 1. Osama: 0.

And from Twitter:

Apparently this is a comedic goldmine.

Plus two lovely visual aids:

Seth and Zach. What winners.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

See Frankenstein at the National Theatre. That’s right, get your butts on a plane, get to London, and scrounge up some same-day tickets for a sold-out show, because guys, it’s worth it. (No, I don’t work for the National.)

The play is written by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle–yes, that Danny Boyle–and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock fame) and Jonny Lee Miller (of Eli Stone, Dexter, and Trainspotters). 

Cumberbatch and Miller alternate roles, switching off to play Victor Frankenstein and the creature, which would be fascinating even if both men weren’t exemplary actors. They are. The show not only sports stellar leads, it also boasts incredible, innovative sets and lighting and an overall atmosphere of eerie intrigue.

Seriously, if you can go see it, do.

In addition to seeing the show itself, I was lucky enough to attend a panel in which Nick Dear and Danny Boyle talked shop, and a late-night Q&A with Danny, Jonny, and Benedict. I even got to ask a question at the Q&A (how exciting!!) about what the actors and the director felt were the major differences between working in theatre and working in television or film. Here’s the response I got. (See how Danny’s looking off camera? Yeah. He was making eye contact with me. I may or may not have let that fact go to my head.)

A big thank you to You Tube user turtlegoescanada for the footage.

This message will self destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2…