FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

The Grimmest of Grims, #HarryPotter #TGIF #FTSF

I love Harry Potter. I was late to the party though, on becoming one of the obsessed. I was twenty-four to be exact.

I often say,
like here on my About Me page,
that my three most visited topics throughout my mind and my writing are birth, death, and love. At the heart of most of what I write, those are the three subjects that are fueling it all.

The Harry Potter books are about the transformative effects of love, but it is also, in many ways, a book about death, if you look at the books critically. It’s about a villainous wizard who is so afraid of dying that he does whatever it takes to make himself immortal. I understand that, to a point.

It is easy for many young people, as I often hear, to believe that they are invincible and that death is so far off that it’s pretty well preventable. Maybe a cure to death will be found by then, they think. Maybe I can avoid all the darkness of the unknown of death, for myself or those I love.

But is that what we really want?

I had a discussion once, on a long drive home with a boyfriend, about death. There’s the science that’s working to put a stop to the inevitability of death. There’s the discussion about aging and suffering that often accompanies an aging human body. Then there was the added level of disability and medical conditions we both knew a little something about.

Did we want to live forever? We were several decades, ideally, from death. I don’t recall how this conversation came up.

Suicide is heard a lot more about these days, while stigma and misinformation still exist. A sudden or not so sudden end to a life, by choice is a frightening topic for most people. It’s a reality faced, by friends and families, for many of us.

Then there’s the fact that I never had my own brush with youthful carelessness or exuberance in the face of death, thought to be yet many many years down the road of life.

I lost dogs, several by our family’s admitted rotten luck. I’d lost a grandparent when I was ten. It didn’t get any easier with age to accept that I wouldn’t see certain people again.

While most kids are going through puberty I was also going through multiple surgeries. Then my little brother followed my medical path in a similar fashion. I then truly worried for someone else more than I cared and worried for myself. I wanted to take his pain away, add it to my own, still in progress.

As we got older, some of his medical issues became more serious and life-threatening and I feared death more than ever.

I can’t say I ever thought, right as I found myself on an operating table and about to do the paediatric anesthesiologist’s suggested countdown from one hundred, that I might never wake up. I just didn’t think it. I wasn’t worried, in some strange way. I can’t say now how I would feel. I have been lucky to avoid surgery for anything in many years, but I will likely face it again in the future, unless a cure for kidney disease is found in the meantime.

Now I am past losing grandparents. I just lost an aunt. I fear losing my parents. I fear the topic even being breached, as when my father brings it up in a nonchalant manner, as I know he is afraid too.

I live with a lot of fear about many things. I wish this weren’t just one more of those. It is inescapable and Voldemort is just a fictional character, but it’s his strangely relatable characteristics that I found most fascinating as I read, as fear of death is universal. It’s his deeds to avoid it, with how extreme and evil they are, that make him one of the greatest villains in literature, in my opinion.

I would like to write an essay of some kind, but it feels like such a huge undertaking. I feel like it would, by necessity, end up becoming a form of college term paper. I am not experienced with those.

If I did write it, it would be about the theme of death in the Harry Potter books.

Through the obvious, as I mentioned before, but also through J.K. Rowling’s use of other characters and symbols, such as ghosts and a black spectral dog, which when seen in the wizarding world, means death is near.

This isn’t my favourite of the Harry Potter films, by far, even if Emma Thompson is one excellent actress. I just include this clip to show you, if you’ve never read the books or watched the movies before. Though the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was one hell of a roller coaster ride when I first read it in 2008.

There’s some connection, a connective circle, as I mentioned dogs above, but I don’t know yet what it all is or what it all means.

I don’t know what that’s like when death looms ever closer, but I have come closer than many at my age and younger often do.

All these myths of black cats bringing bad luck and black dogs bringing news of demise. I will write about these things, as hard as they sometimes are to face, until the day I die.

This was
Finish The Sentence Friday
with host Kristi from Finding Ninee.

Read her feelings on the FTSF prompt for this subject if you can. They are lovely. As for myself, I have been away from this particular Friday prompt for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t resist coming back for this one.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, RIP, Spotlight Saturday

RIP, Alan Rickman – Always!

What a week!

It’s the sort of week that only a Harry Potter movie can sooth.

First it was David Bowie, then Alan Rickman, and finally it was the death of Celine Dion’s long-time manager and husband Rene Angelil. This cancer is a real jerk.

I am a fan of some Bowie songs and I am glad Dion was discovered, but it was the news of Alan Rickman’s death, on Thursday morning that threw me for a loop. All these men were no longer young, but still it was the dreaded cancer that took them from their families and from fans around the world too soon.

Of course I did not need this sad occasion, or any occasion at all, to get me to watch a Harry Potter movie marathon. As it is fifteen years since he first played the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, this time I am watching and paying particular attention to the brilliant Alan Rickman’s portrayal of one of the favourite literary characters ever created in my opinion.

This is a beautiful overview of Snape’s story.

Tributes have been pouring in, from fellow actors and fans alike, since the news broke suddenly of Alan Rickman’s passing from cancer, at age sixty-nine, on Thursday, January 14th.

Of course this isn’t really him,

in this fake guest voice spot on Family Guy,

but his voice was always so well-known. I’d like to think he wouldn’t have been offended by it.

I did not think of him as a joke. I saw only dedication in the roles he played. I just needed to smile from something since I heard he’d passed away and the clip from Family Guy came back to me.

The tributes, as I say, have been coming fast since news broke, on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media and online:

From J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, and other British stars.

to

Evanna Lynch

and her heartfelt post.

Then there came a statement from The Late Show’s

Stephen Colbert.

Rickman’s close colleague and friend Emma Thompson wrote a moving tribute of her own

Here.

I don’t remember Ricman from the role that made him famous in Die Hard or the next role, where he played the villain in Robin Hood.

I do know he came to embody the character audiences always loved to hate on screen, but who was he, as a man, in his off screen life?

I knew him in such roles, perhaps a little lesser known, such as when he starred alongside Johnny Depp and his Harry Potter co-star Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon barber of Fleet Street”. He was positively evil in that,

but Rickman and Depp sing beautifully in that together.

It was in Harry Potter that I first heard his voice. I don’t forget a voice like that. It was infused with intensity and control over the words he was saying, whatever they just so happened to be. His slow speech grabbed hold and kept hold of my attention, anytime he spoke lines on screen.

I can honestly say that not everything about the movie versions pleased me, as big of a fan of the books as I’ve been since I first read them, but Rickman’s performance as Snape was never a part of my disappointment. He nailed that character, as one of the best cast parts from the entire story.

He was absolutely, terribly mean and you couldn’t help but hate him, as cruel to Harry and everyone else as he always was, but that’s what made him so great as an actor.

He could go from the world of Harry Potter to Shakespeare and almost everything in between. His start with the British Royal Shakespeare Company must have been something to see.

But whether he was playing a Shakespeare character on stage, the Blue Caterpillar from a tale like Alice in Wonderland, a modern literary villain in Harry Potter, or the bad judge in a musical, he was magnificent in whatever he was doing.

It’s strange how the death of someone you’ve never met can get to you, but from a closer source than I ever thought I would have when I first saw him take on the role of Severus Snape, I heard it confirmed what a warm and amazing person he was in real life, not just a fact made known through the celebrity reports and tributes.

His portrayal of Snape brought something important to life for me, as in he jumped off the screen in an extension of the character I loved to hate in the books.

It was Rowling who came up with the sad tale of a life that Snape lived, but it was Alan Rickman who made it real for me. He made that sadness real and I feel that same sadness now.

Rest in peace Allan Rickman.

It will always be Alan, for me, the man who was meant to play Snape. Always and forever he will be it.

Always!

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Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

About a year ago I wrote the beginning of a story I had wanted to explore for a long time.

Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret

I called it this because I was attempting to establish Fridays, on my new blog at the time, as the days when I would try writing fiction. This was opposed to Mondays when I thought memoir would be the thing to write.

Well, let’s just say that a lot has changed and this blog has developed and evolved since I wrote that, but I have still not been able to figure something out…

I know there’s a lot of truth in fiction. It can’t be helped. Fiction is all things made up, or is it?

**“This proverbial saying is attributed to, and most certainly coined by, Lord Byron, in the satirical poem Don Juan , 1823:
‘ Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction;
if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange! How differently the world would men behold! How oft would vice and virtue places change! The new world would be nothing to the old, if some Columbus of the moral seas would show mankind their soul’ antipodes.”**

I won’t lie and say that there is no truth in that story I began to write. Anyone who knows me well, specifically family members, they could tell this right away.

The woman in the story is a clear reference to someone in my own life. I got my inspiration from her. Isn’t that where many story ideas start?

Well, it is for me.

As much as I love writing memoir, there is something about fiction that can’t be compared.

As I say on my About Me page on my blog, fiction gives a freedom that memoir does not, but that does not make me feel a whole lot better.

I guess I’ve just never been someone who can come up with totally imaginary worlds and populate them with completely created characters.

My ideas start from somewhere real and true, but this crosses the line that sometimes happens in writing.

This brings out my fears every single time I write something. I hate the thought that someone somewhere might read and be offended, seeing something in my words, real or imagined, that they believe is about them.

I know all those disclaimers on television shows, in movies, and in books that says any resemblance to real persons, places, or events is unintentional.

This is to protect people, but we are talking my own writing here.

I write to help me figure things out, how to put my life in perspective, and to bring clarity where their was only chaos.

This all goes on in my mind most of the time, but it comes out on the page/screen.

I tried, for many years, to not write and to not rock the boat. I hid from any possible rejection or criticism I feared writing might bring me.

this was unbearable and stifling.

Now here I am. I am hardly in any sort of Oprah and “A Million Little Pieces” scenario:

Author Is Kicked Out of Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club

🙂

Do you remember that whole situation?

But I find it a curious thing.

Now here I am again and have been attempting to confront this fear. I shouldn’t feel bad for expressing myself, if my conscience is really clear.

I am proud of what I write and anything that has come of that is done without malice, but I realize I can’t really worry about what others might think.

Yeah, when I figure out how to completely not worry about that, I will let you know here.

I have not written any conjoining parts to the story I began from above.

I would love to tell even a version of that old woman’s story, but am not sure I can do that.

I have experienced things recently, heartbreaking instances of harsh reality, for those I love. I can’t quite do anything, at this time, to hurt them, whether they think so or not.

I think it is an extremely interesting issue. What do you think?

Authors and writers and people who read.

How much of what you write, as far as fiction goes, is completely made up and how much of it comes from your own real life?

It brings back the notion of how truth truly can be stranger than fiction, but both have their place.

Hmmm.

All this talk makes me want to see one of my favourite movies, Stranger Than Fiction, again.

If you have not seen this particular film yet, go and check it out. It’s a will Ferrell classic and one of his best performances…not to mention the ones given by the rest of the cast: Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. .

Also, as a fan of literature, I just think it’s a really cool storyline.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

**Referenced in above article:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/truth-is-stranger-than-fiction.html

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