Archive for Harry Potter

Harry is Feeling a Little Claustrophobic: If YA Characters Logged On to Facebook

Posted in 2011 with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Kristen

This weekend, I’ve been reading a fun little book that some of you may have heard of—it’s called Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs On to Facebook. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s author Sarah Schmelling’s imaginings of what would happen if characters and authors from classical lit had Facebook accounts. It’s full of beloved classics such as Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, and Macbeth, told as though they were taking place on a Facebook newsfeed. These severely shortened, witty, and downright silly versions of the books make for some pretty funny reading. My favorite bits are the times when Shakespeare breaks in and demands recognition for influencing pretty much everything written in English, and the times when I realized how dated the Facebook of 2009 (the year the book was published) already is. Ah, the wonders of technology.

Also, the book got me to thinking—sure, classical lit is fun to imagine in this way, but what about other genres? More specifically, what about young adult lit, one of my personal favorites? Oh, the possibilities! And so, I present for your reading pleasure, three well-known YA books, as seen on Facebook. I chose the first Hunger Games book and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because they’re awesome. And also, Twilight. Because, even though that thing shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as the word “literature,” well…come on. How could I not? That book is perfect for this.

Before you read this, know that there will be spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

And so, first up:

The Hunger Games Newsfeed

  • Katniss is going out for a…walk. Yeah, that’s right, a walk.
  • Gale wrote on Katniss’s wall.

               Gale: Hey, Katniss! Nice day to rant about the Capitol, isn’t it? Sent you a pic of a squirrel I shot. Think the mayor                               will like it?

               Katniss: Shut up, stupid! What if someone saw that? You’re lucky that you’re my only Facebook friend.

  • District 12 has created an Event:
    • Reaping Day! Come see whose son or daughter is going to be sacrificed this year! Be there. Or else.
    • Prim has received an invitation to 74th Annual Hunger Games
      • Effie: May the odds be ever in your favor!
      • Katniss: No! Pick me, pick me!
      • Katniss will be attending 74th Annual Hunger Games
      • Peeta will be attending 74th Annual Hunger Games
      • Katniss wrote on Peeta’s Wall

                                             Katniss: Hey, you look really familiar.

                                             Peeta:

  • Katniss is now friends with Effie Trinket, Haymitch Abernathy, and Cinna.
  • Cinna sent Katniss a gift! Katniss receives Makeover
  • Katniss is on fire!

 Caesar Flickerman: Wow, you look awesome, Katniss! But tell me, are you and Peeta going out? You are, I just know it!

  • Katniss is as radiant as the sun.
  • Peeta wrote on Katniss’s Wall

                   Peeta: So…I kind of totally love you. A lot.

                   Katniss: ???

                   Haymitch: Just go with it, sweetheart.

  • Katniss is getting ready to enter the arena. I’ve gotta keep it together, I’ve gotta keep it together, I’ve gotta…oh crap! The platform is rising! Nice knowing you guys…
  • Katniss is using the applications Mysterious Orange Backpack and Running
  • Katniss is really, really thirsty.
  • Katniss is using the application Random Pond
  • Katniss is using the application Killer Bees
  • Katniss is using the application Silver Bow and Arrows
    • Peeta: What are you doing? Run away!
    • Katniss: Where did you come from? And why are you all sparkly?
    • Katniss is totally tripping right now.
    • Katniss is now friends with Rue
    • Katniss is on fire! No, for real this time, you guys!
    • Rue is offline
    • The Gamemakers wrote on the Wall of the group Tributes

Just so you guys know, there’s a new rule—if both tributes from one district can stay online until the end of the event, you win! Woohoo!

  • Katniss is now friends with Peeta
  • Peeta is using the application Frosting
    • Peeta: The last defense of the dying…
    • Peeta isn’t feeling so good. And could really use a bath.
    • Katniss gave Peeta a gift! Peeta receives Medicine
    • Katniss and Peeta challenge Cato to a game of Mortal Combat
    • Cato is offline.
    • Katniss and Peeta are the winners of the event 74th Annual Hunger Games!
      • Peeta: Great teamwork, Katniss! You were awesome. And gorgeous. Wanna go out?
      • Katniss: Umm, yeah…about that…
      • Katniss and Peeta are no longer friends
      • The Capitol wrote on Katniss’s Wall

You better sleep with one eye open, missy.

Moving on to:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Newsfeed

  • Harry is feeling a little claustrophobic. And is tired of killing spiders.
  • Dudley is playing Superpoke! with Harry. Dudley whacked Harry with his Smelting Stick. Join in! Use Wingardium Leviosa, throw a Chocolate Frog, send an Owl, or do something else.
  • Harry received a message from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
  • Uncle Vernon has hacked Harry’s Account and blocked all messages from Hogwarts
  • Hogwarts found a way past the firewall and sent 100 jazillion messages to Harry
  • Harry added Shack on Stormy Island to Places I Have Been
  • Hagrid wrote on Harry’s Wall

                       Hagrid: You’re a wizard, Harry!

                       Harry: ???

  • Harry is going shopping!
  • Harry is now friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger
    • Ron: That Hermione’s a ruddy know-it-all.
    • Harry: Too right, mate.
    • Harry has updated his location to Hogwarts
    • Harry is using the application Sorting Hat
    • Harry joined the group Gryffindor
    • Harry is now friends with George Weasley, Fred Weasley, Seamus Finnigan, Dumbledore, and 20 others (click to view more)
    • Harry had an exciting first day of class—he met a scary teacher and learned how to fly! And then that bloke Neville got a broken arm.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione are using the application Mischief
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione are playing the game Whack-A-Troll
    • Harry thinks that Professor Quirrell has been acting weird lately…
    • Professor Quirrell challenged Harry to a game of Magic Wands
    • Harry is getting really freaked out…what’s under Quirrell’s tur-OH BLOODY H&*% IT’S VOLDEMORT!!!
    • Harry poked Quirrell
    • Quirrell is AAAARRRGH!!
    • Quirrell and Voldemort are offline
    • Harry is using the application Random Weird Rock
    • Harry is what am I doing in the infirmary?
    • Harry is the best Gryffindor ever! And will possibly even be the best wizard of all time. Seriously, you guys.

And last and definitely least:

Twilight Newsfeed

  • Bella is going to miss the desert. It’s dry, like my personality. And hot, like every single person seems to inexplicably think I am.
  • Bella updated her location to Forks, Washington
  • Bella Green…it’s so green…
  • Bella added Forks High School to her Education
  • Bella received friend requests from Eric, Mike, Tyler, and 22 other boys (click to view more)
  • Bella is curious about that superhot Edward guy…
  • Edward sends Bella a gift! Bella receives Death Glare
  • Edward wrote on Bella’s Wall

                  Edward: Um, hi. Let’s be friends.

                  Bella: Okay!

                  Edward: I’ll see you tonight. At your bedroom window.

                  Bella: Um, what?

  • Bella is now friends with Jacob Black
    • Bella: Hey there, handsome. Let’s go for a walk.
    • Jacob: Gulp. Sure! I’ve got this really great story to tell you.
    • Bella: Wow. That story totally reminded me of this guy that’s stalking—I mean, this guy I know…
    • Bella has added Vampires to her interests
    • Bella sent Edward a private message

                   Bella: So, I totally know what you are. You’re a vampire.

                   Edward: You got me. You should stay away from me. I’m dangerous.

                   Bella: Never!!! OMG I love you so much let’s go out.

                   Edward: Okay. But I warned you.

  • Edward has updated his occupation to Creeper
  • Bella has updated her relationship status to In a Relationship. For Eternity.
  • Bella is now friends with Alice Cullen, Jasper Hale, Rosalie Cullen, Emmett Cullen, Esme Cullen, and Carlisle Cullen
  • Bella will attend event Cullen Baseball Game
    • Bella: Tut tut, it looks like rain…
    • James, Victoria, and Laurent are now attending Cullen Baseball Game
      • James: I smell dessert…
      • Bella is using the application Run Away
      • Bella took the quiz What Shoddy Getaway Plan are You? with the result Back Door of the Bathroom
      • Bella is using the application Running
      • Bella is in surprisingly good shape, considering the amount of time she spends acting like a fencepost.
      • Bella used Foursquare to check in at Dance Studio
      • Bella is beginning to think that there’s something fishy going on…

                                                  James: Gotcha!

  • James sent Bella a gift! Bella receives Poisonous Vampire Bite
  • Bella is AAAAAAGH! IT BURNS!!!
  • Edward is using the application Suck Out the Venom
  • Bella is feeling much better.
  • Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper are using the application Dismemberment
  • Edward and Bella used Foursquare to check in to Junior Prom
    • Bella: C’monnn, Edward, just turn me already! You know you want to.
    • Edward: What was that? Did you say something?
    • Bella is not giving up that easily! One day I’ll be an awesome superhot undead monster too! Just you wait! LOL!!

 

And there you have it, friends. Gosh, that was way more fun to write than it should have been. Thanks for joining me in the silliness! But let’s not stop there—what would the newsfeeds of your favorite characters look like? What would their status updates say? The potential is limitless!

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Ten Points to Hufflepuff

Posted in 2011 with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2011 by Kristen

In light of a recent Facebook status update I made that received waaaay more likes and comments than I expected, I thought I’d write a bit about Hogwarts houses, a topic that is near and dear to all of our hearts. What’s that you say? Your Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail too? Dang, that bites.

Represent.

Like me, I’m sure that all of you other Harry Potter freaks have made free to sort yourselves into either Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff. You also know exactly why I wrote them in that order. Most people want to be Gryffindors—I mean, let’s face it; they’re obviously the coolest house. They’re strong, brave (if a bit rash), talented, and self-sacrificing. For the most part, they’re the kids that everybody wants to be like, especially since they always seem to win the House Cup and maintain their status as Dumbledore’s favorite. Oh yeah, and they have Harry Potter. Of course we all want to be on the hero’s team! Sadly, though most people claim to be Gryffindors, in reality, I think that few of us actually would be. My guess is that most of the people who say they’re Gryffindors are more of the Neville Longbottom type than, say, the James and Lily Potter type, for example. But then, Neville does become a total BA in the last book, so perhaps I shouldn’t go around underestimating people.

The next most popular house is Slytherin, a house full of ambitious, cunning bas****s. Okay, that’s a bit crass, but you get the idea. Some aspiring Slytherins really do possess the smarts, gumption, and leadership that this house is known for, but the main draw for this one is the fact that all Slytherin kids are evil. Or, at least, are reputed to be. This appeals to the fans among us who desire to go against the grain just for the sake of sticking it to the man. “Ch, Gryffindor is way too mainstream,” they say. “And the Malfoys are so misunderstood. Go, Slytherin!” Deep down, I suspect that Slytherins might have some hipster tendencies. But in any event, they know what they want and they go for it, and I can respect that.

Ravenclaw comes in third on the list. Though Ravenclaw is also largely overlooked in the books for a variety of reasons, it’s still a fairly popular house, though its following comes from a rather small pool—because, as you and I both know, this is where all the nerds go. The know-it-alls like Hermione (who is not, in fact, a Ravenclaw, though I’ll be darned if I know why), the pretentious ones like Penelope Clearwater, or the just plain quirky ones like Luna Lovegood. These kids are smart and they know it, and they love geeking out together. Or so I imagine. So even though they’re not as cool as the Gryffindors, they have their own brand of coolness, and they rock it with style.

And then come the Hufflepuffs. Oh, the Hufflepuffs. The “bunch o’ duffers,” as they are often lovingly called. This is, plain and simple, the house for everyone else. Though there have been a few shining stars among them, like Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks (who, by the way, both have fabulous names), the majority of Hufflepuffs don’t have much aptitude in any particular field of study. Instead of achievement, they value loyalty, fairness, and tolerance. In other words, they like just about everybody, and if they don’t, they’d never admit it. They’re non-competitive and have a pretty chill view of life, and they know that, while they may not be the next Boy Who Lived or whatever, and though they probably always got chosen last for pick-up Quidditch games, at least they had a dang good time with their friends at Hogwarts.

And which house have I decided to claim, you may ask? Well, it’s been a long and winding road to the Sorting Hat, and I’ve only very recently settled upon the most likely spot for me. In the beginning, my inclinations leaned toward Gryffindor, just like everybody else’s. However, by the time I finally got around to reading the books, I was old and wise enough to realize that I was not Gryffindor material, not by a long shot, so I gave up this notion pretty quickly. Slytherin was right out—I’m far too much of a goodie-two-shoes and possess far too little common sense to fall in with their dubious ranks. I considered Ravenclaw for a while, since I am, in fact, a huge nerd, and I’m pretty smart if I may say so, and so I thought I might fit in well there. But then I realized that, while I’m no dummy, I’m certainly no genius either. On top of that, I’m not a particularly motivated person. The other Ravenclaws would be way more hardcore and driven than me, and I’d just feel like an underachiever.

I didn’t even think of Hufflepuff for the longest time. I mean, nobody says they’re a Hufflepuff. Nobody! That’s where all the lame ones go who have no direction in life. And their mascot is a badger. I mean, really. But then, I was talking with a friend about Hogwarts houses (sooner or later, this topic always comes up when you put two Harry Potter fans together), and that friend said that Hufflepuff would likely be the one for them. It was then that I began to consider this as a possibility. And why not? I thought. None of the others have ever seemed to fit.  I remembered that Hufflepuffs are loyal, they’re hardworking if not particularly ambitious, they’re concerned with keeping the peace and making sure everyone gets their fair share, and they tend to get along pretty well with just about everybody.

And that’s when I realized. All of those things are me.

And so, my friends, I stand before you a proud, if initially reluctant, Hufflepuff. And while this is all a little silly, since we’re speculating about completely fictional circumstances, it’s fun to find a place to belong. And now I get to talk about Hufflepuff pride and how Hufflepuffs are totally underappreciated. And I get to remember that it’s good to know who you are and to celebrate that knowledge, whether it comes from real-life experience or a bunch of pretend preteen wizards.

And now, I ask you, what house do you identify with the most? Are you rocking that blue and bronze, or do you favor scarlet and gold instead? And why do you match up with the house you do? C’mon, guys, let’s pull a Ravenclaw and geek out together. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Villain Superlative Awards

Posted in 2011 with tags , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Kristen

All right, you guys, we’re going to have a little fun today. Welcome to Kristen’s First Probably-Not-Annual Villain Superlative Awards! This is a highly prestigious event (obviously) during which I award, as I see fit (this is my blog, after all), certain villains we have known with prizes for being the best, brightest, or some other -est. I decided to do this because, as I’ve been watching and reading various things lately, I keep thinking, “That villain is the most _______ character I’ve ever seen!” And also because, as we all know, villains are oftentimes more compelling and multifaceted characters than their more benign fictional counterparts.

I chose a rather hodgepodge selection of some of my favorite nefarious individuals, so if you are familiar with all of the villains on this list, congratulations—you are as nerdy as me. So without further ado, here we go!

Naraku (Inuyasha) – Most Frustrating

First on the list is Naraku, a shoo-in for this award. Now, I’m guessing that most of you haven’t heard of this guy, but he’s the primary villain from Inuyasha, my favorite anime series (Yes, anime. Don’t judge). Naraku has basically ruined the lives of every main character in the show at one point or another, and the show’s main plot follows the characters as they try to destroy Naraku before he gets the best of them. I gave Naraku the award of Most Frustrating because this guy just. will. not. die. Throughout the series, he is constantly becoming stronger, and just when you think that the main characters have gotten him at last, he escapes or regenerates or uses their plans against them, and he lives to fight another day. It’s so darn annoying! And you have to feel bad for the main characters; when they throw everything they’ve got at him, Naraku just laughs it off and floats off into the sunset without a care in the world. When I get to the end of the series, it’s going to be so satisfying to finally see the last of this guy.

Hades (Disney’s Hercules) – Most Likeable

Next up is Hades, of Disney fame. He’d love to be here to accept his award, but he’s still lost in his own home with a bunch of see-through people. Anyway, Hades was an easy choice to receive the award for Most Likeable, which I realized when I re-watched Hercules the other day. We loved him when we were younger, and we still love him now, with his fast-talking ways, his plentiful wisecracks that are just as funny now as they were fourteen years ago, and his buddy-buddy attitude with his victims. We can’t help liking this guy – for a villain, he’s downright personable. He’s practically more likeable than the title character, for goodness’ sake (even though Hunk-ules is pretty cute, and his clumsiness is endearing). It almost makes you feel bad for Hades when he gets his just deserts at the end. Almost. So, Hades, keep freaking out at Pain and Panic, keep getting your hair blown out, and keep making jokes that bring back sweet memories of the ‘90’s. We like you; we really, really like you!

Gollum/Sméagol (Lord of the Rings) – Best Antihero

And now comes Gollum/Sméagol from Lord of the Rings, perhaps the most complex character on this list. He’s classifiable as a villain for the majority of the series…or is he? Though he seems evil, there are many moments throughout the series when his behavior smacks of heroism. I put Gollum on this list because he’s so difficult to identify as a character, and no matter how sneaky or treacherous he can be, one can’t help but pity him, just as Bilbo did, since Gollum seems to be more a victim of circumstance later on, rather than the diabolical sneakthief he appears to be at first. We even begin to wish that Gollum could be saved somehow from his wretched life. Definitely not your classic villain, but rather, a true antihero. He causes us to question what the definition of a villain really is, and makes us realize that the line between good and evil is oftentimes much blurrier than it first appears. He shows us that there is good and evil in everyone, and that we all have the potential to become either heroes or villains, depending on our circumstances, strengths, and desires. Pretty heavy stuff for such a scrawny little guy.

Also, I just have to say that the names Gollum and Sméagol are both part of the Word dictionary. Good on you, Microsoft.

Bowser (Any of the Super Mario Brothers games) – Most Deceptively Intimidating

Most of us have played a Super Mario game at one point or another, and if you’re one of those people, then you know what I’m talking about here. Bowser is this hulking, spiky, dragonish sort of fellow, and by all accounts, he looks pretty imposing. If a Goomba can kill Mario just by bumping into him, then surely Bowser must be able to smoosh the poor little plumber like a bug. However, Bowser, as we know, is not nearly as difficult to defeat as he might seem. Of course, he has some tricky moves, and he has a tendency to shoot fire from his sharp-toothed maw. But in the end, he can usually be defeated by a couple of jumps on the head, just like any other creature in the Super Mario world. Bowser may look like a tough guy, but he usually ends up relinquishing the chronic kidnapee, Princess Peach, pretty easily when it comes down to it. I always find myself surprised at how much of a coward this guy turns out to be in every version of the game that I’ve played. Thus, I must bestow the award of Most Deceptively Intimidating on our favorite cartoon lizard. Dragon. Turtle. Thing.

The Squeers Family (Nicholas Nickleby) – Most Insufferable

As you can see, the interwebs didn't come through for me with a picture of these guys.

I haven’t yet read Nicholas Nickleby, much to my shame, though I have seen the fantastic (and characteristically lengthy) BBC production of it starring James D’Arcy. The film portrayed the story’s principal villains, the Squeers family, in a way that stuck with me. And by that, I mean that I could not stand them. What with their piggish eating habits, ugly faces, abysmal manners, penchant for shouting, and behavior that was the rock bottom of selfish, grasping boorishness, they’re the kind of characters that are just begging to be smacked upside the head throughout the entire movie. Their name is even onomatopoeic—the very sound of it connotes a picture of sniveling, disgusting people, which is exactly what they are. As usual, Dickens knew what he was about when naming his characters. All of this adds up to characters that the reader just loves to hate, which puts the Squeers family as the obvious choice for Most Insufferable.

Severus Snape (Harry Potter Series) – Most Surprising

Okay, I’m going to try to do this one without putting any spoilers in, because I had many parts of the Harry Potter series spoiled for me in the past since I boarded the HP-train (or the Hogwarts Express, if you will) quite a bit later than most. Information about Severus Snape, winner of the Most Surprising award, however, was not among those spoilers. I was very grateful for this, so on the off-chance that someone reading this has not yet read Harry Potter, I’ll say as little about any details as possible. Suffice it to say, while the argument as to whether Snape is really a hero or a villain is alive and well, this mysterious man is evidently one of the most villainous people in the series—in Harry Potter’s opinion, at least. However, what Snape ends up doing and being by the end of the series came as a total shock to me—more than once, as a matter of fact. I have to give props to J.K. Rowling for keeping him so unpredictable throughout the series, and I must say that I really enjoyed learning about Snape as the series progressed. He wins this award because he took me by surprise more often than any villain I’ve ever come across.

Orochimaru (Naruto) – Creepiest

Brace yourselves, guys—it’s another anime character. More of you will have heard of this one, I’ll wager—Inuyasha is popular in America, but I’m pretty certain that Naruto, another of my favorite animes, is even more so. Orochimaru, the main baddie from the series, is a ninja gone bad who is always trying to make life difficult for Naruto and company. What makes Orochimaru distinctive is that he is just so darn creepy—I’d be willing to say that he’s the creepiest villain I’ve ever come across, hence the award. Orochimaru can steal people’s faces, reanimate dead bodies, and—get this—cause swords and, more often, snakes to come out of his mouth. See what I mean? Creep central. He even kind of looks like a snake. Incidentally, he also looks a bit like Voldemort, or at least what Voldemort would look like if he had long, flowing black hair. In any case, the author/illustrator of Naruto tries really hard to make sure we know that Orochimaru is the bad guy, and the results are pretty shudder-inducing. It’s easy to see why Orochimaru is the creepiest of them all.

Captain Barbossa (Pirates of the Caribbean movies) – Best Villain-Turned-Hero

Let’s end on a high note with everyone’s favorite villain-turned-hero: Captain Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean. As we know, at the beginning of the series, Barbossa is Bad Guy Number One. He captains a hellish crew on an accursed ship. He does reprehensible things like raiding, pillaging, and blowing holes in Jack’s ship, seemingly just because he finds it fun. Oh yeah, and he’s a zombie. As the series begins, we have no reason to believe that Barbossa is anything other than pure evil. However, by the end of the second movie, we discover that a certain date with destiny turned this guy around for good. Sure, he’s still the swashbuckling, mischief-making, monkey-toting dude that we all know and love, but the word “villain” ceases to apply to him after a certain point. The other main characters certainly could not have made it as far as they did without him, and Barbossa himself grows more and more loveable as the movies continue. Both of these things are the work of a hero, not a villain. Barbossa deserves this title, from the top of his ridiculously large hat to the soles of his boots (or is it boot?).

This concludes the first ever Villain Superlative Awards! There are many other great examples out there that I would like to have highlighted, but for the sake of both your attention span and mine, I’ll end this superpost right here. However, as I said, please feel free to comment and tell me which of your favorite villains deserves to be awarded and why. This list doesn’t even pretend to be comprehensive, so I’d love to hear about other baddies that you feel should be included. Popular, obscure—it doesn’t matter. Your opinion is what counts here. In any case, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a few characters who are so good at being bad!