The Harry Potter Exhibition

Just a quick post to share with you my excitement for visiting the Harry Potter Exhibition yesterday!

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You can find all the photos I managed to take (not as many as I wanted to because it was very dark there) here on my blog along with the whole story.

I don’t have a big haul to show you since the merchandising was expensive and not so special, but I bought the Official Exhibition Guide and my mom gifted me a Hufflepuff crest keychain.

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I’m glad I’ve got the guide since I couldn’t take nice photos of the props and costumes, it’s a nice way to remember the visit.

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Inside the guide, there was a replica of Harry’s Hogwarts Letter!

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I was on the fence between the keychain and the enamel pin, but I went with the first one since I’m always afraid to ruin my clothes with pins. My home keys have a nice geeky touch now! 🙂

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The ‘All About the Reading’ – Tag

I’ve just stumbled upon this tag watching one of my all time favorite booktubers and since I’m only reading books these days (haven’t watched a new film in months), this tag spoke to my soul. Before I begin with the questions, I tag everyone who is keen to answer some or all of those questions.

You can watch the video that inspired me over here: Why I Read | All About the Reading Tag by Books by Leynes.

All about the Reading – Tag

1.What do you look for most when you pick up a book? A) A beautiful writing style B) A character driven story C) A plot driven story
When I pick up a book, the only thing I initially look for is, as in the case of Leynes, that it tells me something I don’t know. Whether it is telling me an adventure I haven’t read about yet, a way of portraying characters and their developments, or a unique way of writing, I want to be exposed to new ideas. The rest, plot, character construction, or quality of writing style comes later.

2.What are your pet peeves in books?
Plot holes and authors making use of tropes out of sheer laziness. If you’re using tropes to dismantle them or as a form of satire, then that is awesome. However, if you’re using a trope because you can’t think of another way to describe a character or scene, then that is lazy.

3. If you could print one quote on your wall, which one would it be?
As I’m looking around my room, I’m realizing that I already have a quote in my room, however, it is not on my wall. A while ago, I painted the famous line “Not all those who wander are lost” from Tolkien’s poem about Aragorn on a pillow. There are two reasons why I chose this rather overused line. For one, yes I’m a basic white girl that likes to travel so as a basic white girl I have to do what we all basic white girls do, find some ‘inspiring quotes’, plaster them on an lovely, but basic looking image and pretend that this alone will make things ‘good in life’. Ok, all jokes aside, my life was never straight forward with a clear and easy ‘graduating from school to find a job, buy a house and have a family’ -type of path. My life has been and still is a zig-zag journey leading me, sometimes, back to where I’ve already been. So that line is just a nice reminder that its OK to not have a straight forward life path. Anyhow, I digress.

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4. Which genre would you like to explore more?
Ancient literature, non-fiction, and folk tales from all over the world. As I’ve said, I want to be exposed to new ideas and I’ve been neglecting those three genres way too much.

5. Was there ever a movie adaptation you liked better than the book?
Oh, that is a touchy subject. For one, I have to out myself as a member of the minority that doesn’t think that “the book is always better than the adaptation”. Having said that, I’ve been avoiding some of the recently released adaptations so I’m not very up-to-date. Now to answer the question, I have to admit that I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels more than I enjoyed the actual novels.

6. If one of your favorite books would be adapted or get a new adaptation, which book would it be and which role would you like to play?
That is an oddly specific hypothetical scenario, but here we go. If The Lord of the Rings ever receives a new adaptation (I’m looking at you, Amazon), I’d love to play a random Hobbit in the background or alternatively an Orc. Honestly, I really don’t care about what I’d play as long as I’d be a part of it. I’m not an actor, nor do I possess any talent in that regard what-so-ever so just give me a random role as an extra Mr. and Mrs. Amazon. I’m willing to play an Orc in exchange for coffee.

7. A hyped book you wouldn’t recommend at all?
A recent disappointment was Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London. Several of my friends love this series while I was utterly bored and annoyed.

8. A book that highly influenced your life and way of thinking?
Similar to the Youtuber Leynes, where I found this Tag to begin with, I have to say Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. The ability to lure the reader into such a story, and even make the narrator seem likeable at times, just by through Nabokov’s stunning use of works is one of a kind and deeply affected me on how to see and interpret novels.

Now, this is not a single book, but rather than an entire genre, but non-fiction books deeply affected me and the way I read. When growing up as a kid, I’d either read fairy tales or non-fiction books. It got to a point where I was so intrigued by what non-fiction books could teach me that my father only got me non-fiction books as birthday presents for several years. This, I guess, explains why I’m putting such an emphasis being exposed to new ideas when reading books, fiction and non-fiction, in general.

9. Are you a fan of re-reading books, do you do it often?
I love re-reading books, especially my favorites. It allows me to either re-live an adventure or re-evaluate what I’ve read in a new way.

10. Which book title could easily be the title of your life?
I really like the title of Witi Ihimaera’s play Woman far Walking.

11. Which book should be required reading for everyone?
None, to be honest. What is ‘required’ to read as a means of learning changes all the time and far too often ‘required readings’ in school consist mostly of books by dead white men.

What about you? How is your reading going so far in 2018? Leave a comment down below.

 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE | APRIL 18th, 2018

Welcome back to another ‘If we were having coffee’ -post were we pretend to meet up for a coffee to catch up with each others lives.

It has been almost a year since our last virtual ‘coffee meet-up’ so I thought I’d give you a brief update of things.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m re-reading The Lord of the Rings again. In my last ‘If we were having coffee’ – post from June 2017, I’ve talked about how I’ve re-read The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, and were re-reading LOTR. Almost a year later, I’m planning to do (almost) the same. I’m currently half-way through reading The Two Towers and have read Beren and Luthien a few weeks ago. I plan on reading The Silmarillion next, but in order to switch things up, I think I’ll read The Children of Hurin instead of The Hobbit afterwards. Very exciting news, I know.

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I’ve given up trying to stay up to date with geeky news. I’ve still haven’t watched many of the things I plan on watching for years and I’ve accepted that I’ll probably never will. I’m still very much in the mood to read and do nothing much but read. At some point I might start writing book reviews…. if I ever manage to get my nose out of a book long enough! In the meantime, the best book I’ve read this years so far is The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov.

I have, however, managed to catch up with one TV show though. During the Christmas break, I’ve managed to watch Westworld season one and OH EM GEE this show is soo good. This show has everything I love about the art form of Television all the way down to even a great intro song. My favourite characters? The Man in Black and Maeve, hands down. I have not seen the trailer for season two and I’m not planning to do it either. I want to surprised by whats to come.

I’ve simply walked into Mordor. A few months ago, Lord of the Rings Online released Mordor as a region, and my Hobbit hunter is finally strong enough to enter and quest in Mordor…well, kind of. Mordor is designed for levels 105 and higher and even though my Hobbit hunter is level 108 (of 115 in total) I’m still struggling to quest in Mordor. Sure, Mordor was designed to be difficult, it is Mordor after all, but still the struggle is very very real! I’m loving it though. Also, LOTRO recently released Laketown, Thranduil’s palace and the Lonely Mountain as Rergions and I’m soooo tempted to buy the region because I really want to quest there!

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How about you, what have your geeky life has been like in the last ten months? Have you watched Westworld and if you did which was your favourite character? Leave a comment down below!

Selfmade ‘Today in Middle-earth’ – Moleskine Journal

Several years ago, Moleskine release some beautiful Hobbit edition of its notebooks. As a lover of Moleskine notebooks and all things Tolkien, I had to get one too. While I loved every notebook in this Hobbit series, I settled for this notebook in pocket size.

Yet, until recently, I didn’t knew what to use it for. I wanted to use it for Middle-earth related stuff, but I was also too afraid to use it in case I ruin it. You know, the usual struggle every stationery lover has.

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A few days ago, as I was thinking of #middleearthmarch I somehow got THE IDEA: Why not use that Hobbit Moleskine notebook to write all Middle-earth dates down?

If you’re like me, March will make you wonder ‘What exactly happened that day in Middle-earth’? The entire year is filled with important days in Middle-earth, but March is, without a  doubt, one of the busiest months in Middle-earth. So whenever I wanted to know what was ‘going on’ in Middle-earth, I’d search the internet. Now, I don’t have to browse the world wide web, I can just grab my Middle-earth Calendar notebook and look up what is going on.

How I created my ‘Today in Middle-earth’ Moleskine Notebook

The most pressing question some of you now might have is ‘Where did you get all the dates from’? The best resouce on the internet is, by far, The One Ring.Net’s ‘Today in Middle-earth Calendar’. It is the most extensive and structured calender I’ve seen so far. No need to reference dozens of different hopepages anymore.

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Section 1: LOTR events month on two pages

For my own, analogue version, I created two sections. A ‘month on two pages’ featuring Lord of the Rings Events only and a ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section featuring all dates and events. The LOTR  events only section allows only for the most important event on each day. It serves me as a quick overview. My ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section is the one section I’ll use as a detailed account of events.

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Section 2

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My system of colour-coding events

In order to make things organized and clear, I’ve decided to colour-code the events in my ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section. Black stands for events  significant to LOTR, blue are events of importance to The Hobbit and purple encompasses miscellaneous events such as Tolkien’s birthday. All in all, I used up about two-thirds of my notebook. Depending on your handwriting or added decoration, it my be different for you if you decide to re-create it.

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Section 2: ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’

I’m not gonna lie, at times it felt tedious to write everything down. However, for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the process. I’d put on Middle-earth inspired music and pretend to be a Gondorian historian. Now that I’m finished I’m desperate to re-read LOTR again!

Have you done anything similar? If now, what do you think of my little project? Leave a comment down below!

Disability & Pop Culture: An Amputee’s Point of View

Whenever you think of disabled characters in pop culture, you’ll probably think of Geordi La Forge from Star Trek, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from Star Wars, and maybe of Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump. Disabled characters, whether they have a physical disability, an intellectual disability or have a chronic illness, are far and few inbetween in pop culture. There is a greater variety of vampires, ghosts, and aliens than disabled characters (or any other minorities for that matter).

I was born one-handed (don’t worry, I have no difficulties with typing this) and for the longest time, the only characters in film, tv, or books that looked like me, and by that I mean characters with missing limbs, were Luke Skywalker, Lieutenant Dan, and the occasional villian such as Darth Vader or Azog from The Hobbit. Naturally, most of them immediately became my favourite characters of that film or tv show regardless of whether they were good guys or even well-written characters. Seriously, no matter who the characters is, I’d get excited beyond words just to see someone ‘like me’ on screen, even if it was murderous Orc.

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Me, a few years back.

A statistic by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative from 2015 revealed that “just 2.4 percent of characters in the top 100 movies who spoke or had actual names had disabilities. That’s a significant gap between fiction and reality, since the Census Bureau has found in 2010 that 56.7 million people, or 18.7 percent of Americans, have disabilities. ” I’m sure the numbers will be the same for many other countries as well.

Here is a detailed breakdown of what this study uncovered:

Characters with disabilities appeared in 55 of those 100 movies. And of those characters, 61 percent had physical disabilities, 37.1 had mental or cognitive disabilities, and 18.1 percent had communicative disabilities. Characters with disabilities were overwhelmingly male; just 19 percent of characters with disabilities were female. Characters with disabilities were likely to be relatively marginalized in the movies in which they did appear: 10 of the 100 top-grossing films from 2015 featured characters with disabilities as leads or co-leads. Of the 11 movies that Smith and her colleagues classified as ensemble, two featured characters with disabilities as part of the core ensemble. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

The number of disabled actors on film and tv is similarly small. In fact, whenever I see a disabled character portrayed, I automatically roll my eyes thinking “ah yes another abled-bodied actor”. The exceptions to this are characters with dwarfism or down syndrome. These are the only examples that come to my mind where disabled actors are always chosen to portray a character that has the same disability as them. When it comes to other disabilities, more often than not, an able-bodied actor is chosen.

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Luke Skywalker

I can still remember, years and years ago, when CSI: Las Vegas came out how I reacted with cynicism upon seeing the Coroner Dr. Albert Robbins walking with a crutch. Even more so when it was revealed the character of Dr. Robbins is a double-amputee. Only later did I found out that the actor portraying Dr. Robbins, Robert David Hall was, in fact, a double-amputee himself! Over the years my interest in CSI: Las Vegas dwindled, especially after the departure of actor William Petersen, but I kept on watching it just for Dr. Robbins. Finally, I’ve found a character whose disability was just one aspect of his personality and not a walking-talking stereotype, nor a villain.

For most of my life, I didn’t really think about this issue in-depth. I just accepted the low numbers and sometimes terrible representation without question. However, as I get older and started my academic career in culture studies, with a focus on literary studies, I began to think critically and eventually began a Ph.D on disability in literature. For a year now, I’ve been reading and researching books and short stories in science fiction featuring disabled characters and let me tell you it wasn’t very easy. Not all summaries online will tell you that a book or short story deals with disability issues. Some books, I’ve stumbled upon by accident on amazon while browsing for another unrelated book.

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Lieutenant Dan

Initially, I intended this to be a brief “x amount of disabled characters in Science Fiction” – list. However, I realized very early that this is not an issue I can summarize in just a few sentences, hence, my Ph.D project. I could go on an on in this post, but it is too long and to “here and there” already. In other words, I want to write more blog-posts discussing disability in pop-culture. I don’t know, nor can I promise anything, how long this series will be or how frequent these type of posts will be. However, I will try, at the very least, to contribute a bit to the discussion of disability rights. I’m over 30 now and if a few random posts here and there end up helping a young person growing up with a disability to feel more confident and find characters that “look just like themselves” then I’ve succeeded.

So what’s next up? A short list of science fiction books and short-stories I’ve recently read that feature disabled characters. Moreover, there are numerous movies, tv shows, or books with disabled characters that I haven’t watched or read yet. So I think it’ll be nice to give brief reviews of my first thoughts on these characters.

It is your turn now. What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you have a movie, tv-show, game, comic, or book featuring disabled characters that you absolutely love or hate? Leave a comment down below!