The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter: A History

I honestly couldn't tell you, without looking it up, when the first Harry Potter ("The Sorcerer's Stone") was released as a novel. I also couldn't tell you when Warner Brothers got the rights and released it as a movie. The most I knew about the Harry Potter books was that they were banned from Zeeland Public Schools because of it's “witch crafty” influences. My only interactions with Harry Potter was that I once attended a friend of mine's sisters birthday party, in which she had a rather strange box of Jelly Bellys. After tasting an unfortunate ear wax flavored “Jelly Belly,” I was later told that they were a replica of Harry Potter's “Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.” Delicious. I also attended another party a few years later where everyone wanted to watch the first film of Harry Potter, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That was sometime in high school. My family and best friend thought I was crazy for not even wanting to give Potter a chance, due to my love of fantasy/adventure books and films. I am just one of those people who HATE following whatever is popular, and at the time it was the Harry Potter series.

It wasn't until the Fall of 2005 that I finally caved in and was “forced” into watching the first film with my sister and best friend. Thank God for that day, and thank God for my sister for not only bringing along the first film, but two and three as well. So in one day we watched, “The Sorcerer's Stone,” “The Chamber of Secrets,” and “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” I was also fortunate enough for the 4th installment of Harry Potter to be in the theater around the same time. My mom took me to see “The Goblet of Fire,” my first Potter experience in the theater.

After that night I made a decision that has given me more grief than anyone will ever know. I decided to see all the movies before reading the next book. So, having seen movies 1- 4, I borrowed books 1- 4 from my mom although she had 5 and 6 at the time as well. Then I waited for the 5th movie to be released (“The Order Of The Phoenix”), watched it and immediately read the book. I waited for the 6th movie to be released (“The Half Blood Prince”), watched it and immediately read the book. And finally, the epic conclusion “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I” was released in November of 2010. I was so upset to hear that the book was being split into two movies! I reminded myself that Book 7 had been released since July of 2007, that I could wait a while longer. I have waited on tenterhooks for 4 years to know what was to happen to Harry Potter and all of his beloved companions, I could wait 7 more months for the REAL conclusion. And finally, on July 15, 2011 I found out Part II of “The Deathly Hallows” was going to be released. I wasn't able to get to the midnight showing, but two days later on July 17, I was able to see what would happen to my dear Mr. Potter.

I don't think I have been more exhausted after watching a movie in my life.

I couldn't tell you when I started crying or when I stopped crying. All I know is that I composed myself enough before the lights came on all the way, and held it together until I got home. Then, I let it all out. I have seriously never cried so hard over a movie in my life.

Why I did cry, you may ask? For “spoiler purposes” I will not reveal anything to those you have not seen it or may be interested in seeing it. However, I will say this. I cried not just for the tragedy that takes place, but for the shear fact that it is over. Never again will a Harry Potter movie be made. This is it.

However, this wasn't just a movie to me. This was a story. A story about bravery, friendship, magic, miracles, love, adventure, laughter, fun, mischief, etc, etc. I grew up with Harry Potter, with Hermonie Granger, with Ron Weasley. I was there through everything. When they were hurt, when they were in trouble... I felt like Bastian in “The Never Ending Story,” like I was really there. I felt like that not only when I read the books, but when I watched the movies as well. I was a part of this story. However I wasn't just a part of the story in my mind, but a part of it in the wordly sense as well. All of the stories I have ever loved, I grew up with. To name a few: “Willow,” “Star Wars,” “Legend,” “The Goonies,” “The Lord of The Rings,” “The Princess Bride,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” But these epic stories were all before my time. But Potter. This, this was something almost tangible. Here and now, in my time. Something that I was physically a part of.

I am a dreamer. Therefore, stories about fantasy will always have the dearest, most special place in my heart. I wish with all of me that magic existed, that Narnia existed. My idea of heaven is where our dreams become reality. My favorite quote from Harry Potter was one just spoken in this last film. Albus says to Harry in response to his question (Harry) “Is this happening in my head?” (Albus) “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it's not real?” That is exactly how I feel. When I read Potter, it all seems so real. And the truth is … I want to ride a Unicorn and a dragon. I want to fence, learn archery and use it for a purpose. I want to be a Jedi and learn the ways of the force. My goal is to one day design and build my own house. One that is filled with secret passageways, with book shelf's that reveal a room behind it. I want a moat, with a drawbridge. I am serious here folks.

I guess the thing that saddens me the most in life is that all of these wonderful things that we can create in our heads, make into compelling novels and into mind boggling movies are not real. None of it.

However, if we had all of those things, we would never know what we are missing.

Going back to Harry Potter...

I truly feel that J.K. Rowling is the best writer of our generation. She has inspired more people than anyone I personally know. She's been the “C.S. Lewis” or “J.R.R. Tolkien” of our generation. And I love her for it.

So, thank you J.K. Rowling for allowing us to be a part of a world that we will never forget. We will love it, share it, and cherish it. It will live on for all time.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Alkaline Trio [acoustic edition]

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a "weekly" feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is: Alkaline Trio

Click here to check out an acoustic version of their song "Every Thug Needs a Lady," originally heard on the band's 2003 release Good Mourning.

And don't forget to check out last time's featured artist, Butch Walker and The Black Widows

Book Review: Aaron Polson's The House Eaters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading (and loving) Polson's March 2011 offering, We Are The Monsters, I knew I had to find something else by this author to read.

The House Eaters did not disappoint. Though, for me, not as chilling and atmospheric as We Are The Monsters, The House Eaters showcases well Polson's gift for capturing a teen voice and for brisk and entertaining YA horror fiction that also happens to be tasteful and well-written.

The House Eaters is set in Broughton's Hollow, a blip-on-a-map nowhere Kansas town. Nick Gillingham and his family move to the Hollow after Nick's mother loses her job and his father takes a position at Springdale High. (One of Polson's popular stomping grounds, the school is featured in three of his books I've read thus far.)

What transpires after that is a classic ghost story, a tale filled with wonderful characters we want to root for. With a few mysteries thrown in for good measure - most of which involve Nick's own family even more so, it would seem, than the creepy old neighborhood home where our haunter resides, The House Eaters is a satisfying read.

What I enjoyed a lot about the tail was the pacing. The curtain over Nick's troubled family is slowly pulled back as the story progresses, revealing a younger sister, Tabby, whose stay in a mental hospital a year prior may have been the first sign that there's more power in her than it seems; a mother who drinks a little more each day; a father who stays out later and later each night. The ghostly action is spaced well, leaving room for solid and natural character and relationship development. Nick's new ghost-hunting posse - Gage, Saul, and Sarah - make lovable comrades, and his struggles with the quintessentially popular "blood-sucker" Cat and her meat-head boyfriend Dane are believable and interesting.

All in all The House Eaters is very well done and I would highly recommend it. After reading We Are The Monsters, I found myself intrigued with this fresh literary voice. Now another book down in Polson's impressive catalog, I can officially call myself a fan.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Concise Thoughts on "Literary" vs. "Genre"

A post on author Roni Loren's blog entitled The Beauty of Books: Why The Literary vs. Genre Deabte Isn't Necessary sparked this comment from me:

The fact of the matter is that what's well-written enough to be considered literary and what is popular fluff will be decided by generations after ours. "Literary" shouldn't be used to categorize and compartmentalize what we do as authors. Writers cut from any cloth should strive to be as literary as they can in their writing because they are, after all, writing books. It's like describing a genre of music simply with "pop" or " indie." These terms don't really mean anything to music as an art form, just like issues of whose literary and whose genre shouldn't mean anything to a writer. Write what you love. Read a lot of different stuff. Learn all the rules (because there are a few) and then learn how to bend them to your will. It won't matter if you write about zombies or you write about war or you write about the incoherent mental ramblings of a man on death row if what you are writing is pleasing LITERATURE. Keep in mind that the Lord of The Rings is considered to be one of the most gorgeous and well thought-out prose of this century even though its about elves and hobbits, and that when F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, most people hadn't even heard of The Great Gatsby, his own obituary in The New York Times mentioning Gatsby only as evidence that Fitzgerald "had great potential that he never reached." So again, we do not decide HOW our book will be received or cataloged or stacked on the shelves of history. We can only control how well it is WRITTEN. And we should always want to write well no matter what we're writing.

Notice that nowhere do I say that writing what is popular is bad, nor that we as authors should run out and start writing tried-and-true trash that sells. This new breed of indie authors, especially, has to revive the standards of writing well if we are ever going to be taken seriously. We should ALL want to write as correctly and as entertainingly as possible. One of the comments on Roni's post posed this sentiment: "I can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, but if no one reads it, then it is nothing more than a glorified diary. "

I would urge us to think of the opposite. If all that's selling is shite we've shilled out to make a buck, than what good is it really doing the world anyway? If you can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, than for the love of God do it! And leave it in a diary for someone to find later, if for some reason you can't find an audience. It WILL be appreciated. Great words are always appreciated, somewhere down the line, even if their creators never see the spoils.

Just ask Edgar Allen Poe.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Butch Walker

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is: Butch Walker and The Black Widows

Click here to check out "Summer of '89" of their forthcoming record, The Spade (available Aug 30!)

And don't forget to check out last week's (technically two weeks ago) featured artist, Four Year Strong.