To a Stranger in Brooklyn Heights

Dear stranger in Brooklyn Heights,

I don’t know much about you, but I can infer some things.

I think you are someone who cares about your belongings.

Like your copy of Spoon River Anthology, for example.

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I think you care about it because you stamped it twice – once inside the front cover and once inside the back.

Maybe you just didn’t want to lose it and for it to be returned to you if it ever did get lost. But, if that’s the case, how did it end up in a used bookstore in a town 3,000 miles away?

I would want to know which poems are your favorites, but it seems like you never read them. The pages are nearly perfect, despite being printed in 1962.

I wish I could ask you some questions.

How old were you when you bought it? How old are you now? Why didn’t you read it? How did it end up with me?

I don’t know who you are, but I want to say thank you. Your book that was originally sold for 95 cents is now my book that was sold to me for three dollars.

And now I have a story within a story, thanks to you.

I’m not sure if you still live in New York or if any of my assumptions about you were correct or if you’re even a person at all.

But just in case I was right, once I finish the book, I’ll send it back to you.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2

Just this past Friday, March 30, A Series of Unfortunate Events season two arrived with gusto. Streaming on titan platform Netflix, season two has expanded from eight episodes to ten and takes the views up through book nine.

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This season sees the introduction of the two remaining Quagmire triplets, a swagger filled Nathan Fillion stepping into the role of Jacques Snicket, and a wonderful, fourth wall breaking, sense of self awareness that shows of this nature often lack.

While yes it does follow a predictable plot line, which was a problem many had with the first season: bad guardian –> something terrible –> Baudelaires escape. The beauty of this repetitive and predictable plot line though is it allows actors like Neil Patrick Harris (Count Olaf) and Nathan Fillon (Jacques Snicket) to really work their roles and have fun doing so, which is reflected as fully realized and sharp characters.

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The plot, instead of taking front and center like most shows/movies, takes a backseat to an incredibly immersive and rich world. Instead of trying to turn darkly fantastical source material into highly approachable comic realism (e.g. Marvel Comics), the plot champions a wonderful sort of self-realized, almost escapist fantasy that is unafraid to hit viewers in the face with a strong message of: This is our world, not yours.

With this world also comes the introduction of the highly secretive and, thus far, very vague secret society of VFD as the Baudelaires chase after red herring after red herring (ha).

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This season is wonderful and keeps the Baudelaires on the move, it maintains the spirit of the books and the first season with dexterity, and manages newly introduced plot lines with ease. I recommend this show so highly it and I are probably in space. Go watch it.

Now I may be a bit biased by the fact that I get to see one of my all time favorite series on screen, if one is in the mood for a more comprehensive look at season two (spoiler warning) there is one here.

Home

Home is a loose word, I often find my mind and, in turn, my spirit in other places. Sitting wrapped in a blanket I’ll physically be here or there but, in truth, I’ll be far, far away. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house.” House or home or somewhere in between? A trivial question when one is hunting for a place to rest one’s mind.

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My tangible home will always be with my family in our small “faerie home,” surrounded by an unruly garden that seems to compete with the urbanity of the asphalt road and the ever shrinking street light (or perhaps I’m the one growing). Home with its boarding of white and blue, with a hand built white picket fence; home with a stylized and cohesive found object collection inside and hand painted walls of a whimsical forest land further from reality than the closest galaxy. Tangible home will be with my dad’s music blasting well above the sound threshold of his earbuds, shuffling in the Paint-Shack. Tangible home will be with my mom, picking up conversations we never started mid-way through a sentence. A home fit for part of my heart and part of my body.

But my true home, home for my mind, my spirit, the rest of my heart and body, that’s much harder to pin down. I’ve lived too many lives, I’ve walked the halls of Hogwarts and thieved the streets of Ketterdam. I have run through the Overlook Hotel and traveled the world in the Leviathan. I am inclined to call all these places my home despite the threat of horror and danger and pulse-stopping fear. But then again, I am just as inclined to call a solitary cottage at the edge of humanity surrounded by piles and piles of mugs and books my home.

When I was much younger I believed home would be among the pyramids and mummies of Egypt, studying a culture older than I could comprehend, dinosaur hunting while bouncing from continent to continent in search of the next great dinosaur find. Now I find myself lost, filled with wanderlust. Do I return to Ketterdam, Hogwarts, Brakebills? Do I follow the dust and jewels and bones of ancient history? Do I find my library tower with an endless supply of tea, coffee, pastry, and more books than I know what to do with? Do I find my corner of a city and people watch for the rest of my time?

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Maybe, what I’m getting at is I won’t find one home, there is no way to make that which is plural singular. I’ll always be hunting for the next city to make my heart beat faster and my lungs dance, the next country, the next world, the next universe. My home will be that glimpse of color disappearing around the corner, just slow enough for me to go skidding into the alley and see it go around the next corner. My home will be a sturdy pair of boots, one hell of a scarf, and a bag with an undetectable extension charm. My home will be that trip around the world finding the best food there is and then traveling to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Home will be that rare dinosaur in the middle of nowhere. Home will be Nefertiti’s tomb. Home will be finding that portal to Fillory, Hogwarts Ketterdam, Le Cirque des Rêves. Home will be the pens and paints I bring with me; home will be the countless notebooks of dreams, adventures, and future worlds.

Home will be the next great adventure. The never ending circular promise: the next place will be the place, the next place will be home. Part of me will always belong to the first home though, my little blue and white cottage in the forest of pavement and cars, but the rest of me? The rest of me is restless. Home will always be one step ahead of me, patiently waiting for me to catch up, always waiting for me to leave a little more of myself on the path.

What I Learned From The 100

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In January, I got the chance to miss three days of school and head up to Vancouver to watch the production of my favorite tv show, The 100. Now I probably know what a lot of people were thinking: this girl went on vacation to meet Bob Morley? Actually, yes, but while I did get to meet my favorite actors, eat sixty five dollar filet mignon, and find out so many spoilers for the show – and no, I’m not sharing – I also learned so much about the filming industry that I didn’t know before.

    1. A one minute scene that seems so well put together takes hours to be made. Literally, one small scene, and it won’t even be the entirety of it. I went to the outside set for one day, and they filmed the same scene for hours, and when I left they were still filming the same scene. It was absolutely fascinating how they did it. They filmed from every angle with multiple cameras. They’d have the same actor repeat the same line a hundred times just to capture a different detail of their face from a different angle from multiple cameras.
    2. The CW has the weirdest rules. For starters, actors could say any cuss word known to mankind, but they aren’t allowed to say the Lord’s name in vein. Also, actors aren’t allowed to show side boob in the shows. At all. So, basically the dresses lots of actresses wear at movie premiers would not be allowed on any of the tv shows from The CW we know and love.
    3. They usually don’t rehearse. Apparently they get their lines, have fifteen minutes of their own time to figure it out, and then get in front of a camera. That’s a part of the reason why there are so many bloopers, and so many retakes of several scenes. Their rehearsal is the filming.
    4. The camera makes people look bigger than they actually are. Not fatter, just bigger. When I met the actors, they were so much smaller than I expected, because they were a fourth of the size of what they look like on screen. They weren’t short or tall specifically, just tiny. It was definitely not what I expected.

I’m pretty sure that I learned a lot more things from that trip that I couldn’t have ever learned inside of a classroom, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head.

Autobiographies.

I often wonder how people write autobiographies. That wonderment often boils down to my curiosity of how life plays out. How does one go about living a life interesting enough to write about?

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What is it to live a life full of intrigue and well meaning? I haven’t lived that much of life but there are so many people my age or within margin that have already lived such extraordinary lives. I feel like I’m playing a game of catch up with a future I can’t even see.

How do I live an extraordinary life worth marking down in the books? How do I reach a point where I feel confident enough to write it myself?

I often wonder how people write autobiographies; do remarkable lives just happen or are they fought for? Am I fighting hard enough? Am I fighting for one at all? What does it take for a life to be incredible?

where the heart is

it’s true what they say,

home is where the heart is.

my heart lies in a small piece

of california

where fire has burnt the once green shrubbery.

where the air is thick and sweet,

like a gooey piece of my aunt’s famous cheesecake.

where my body knows the winds

of my neighborhood’s roads,

like the lines on my palm.

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where my parents squabble over the air conditioning

because “it is way too hot in this car!”

where i can hear my dogs bark

from down the street

just like they can hear the rolling tires

of our mighty, little minivan

turning around the last corner.

where my bed is cool,

despite the melting heat outside.

home is coke on ice

and cereal boxes

spread across the countertops.

home is how i can walk into my room

and pick up a book i was reading before i left.

home is where i wake up from

my cat meowing outside my door.

but, i still know,

after all these months,

not to let him in

or he’ll be scratching at the door

to be let out in ten minutes.

home is my broken closet and messy garage.

but, when i move away for good,

home will be in the way

my parents stick their hands out the window

when we’re driving,

the way my dogs bark

more at paper in the wind

then people at the door.

it’ll be in the way my heart warms

when I see my city’s name pop up

on the freeway

and all the times

i’ve laughed at dad jokes

and silly faces.

for my home is in the smiles

and eyes

and teeth

and hair

and hands

and paws

and hearts of those

whom i love the most.

romeo lost

poets only write about love and love lost,

but what about the time afterward?

what about the times when i see you my heart breaks,

not because i miss you,

but i miss the feeling of you.

the feeling of you on my neck,

the feeling of you in my arms,

the feeling of you on the other end of the line.

you weren’t a classic romeo.

you were one with trails of cigarette smoke and a bright red motorcycle,

instead of shiny, chain-link armor and a glistening white horse.

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your eyes hold the past.

the past hour-long laughing fits,

the past midnight ice cream runs,

the past nights we slept under the stars.

i wish i could kiss you one more time,

not because i like you,

but because i liked the void you filled.

what about when i see her for the first time, this new me.

Photo Credit: buzzfeed.com

she’s beautiful, blonde, bubbly.

everything that i wasn’t, she is.

she’s willing to go all in. i guess i wasn’t.

i guess i couldn’t stand up when you walked away.

i guess i couldn’t hold you the right way,

because now i’m holding empty space.

my bed is empty to my left because i can’t bear to roll over in case you’ll come back.

because sometimes i open old, dusty copy of shakespeare’s sonnets,

and imagine you in every one.

i wish he wrote about how to pick up the pieces when you’re broken,

because i keep cutting myself on broken glass.

THE DARK TOWER IS ALMOST HERE

2017 IS SET TO SEE STEPHEN KING’S THE GUNSLINGER COME TO FILM. Additionally, with a gorgeous, gun-toting Idris Elba at the front and center.

Set to release in August, The Gunslinger is a source of great excitement and anxiety. Like any other book-to-movie transition, fans are left to wonder how much is going to be cut out and how much is the studio going to eff with something we love?

But in King’s own words, “I feel more wrapped up in this one because the books took so long to write and the fan base is so dedicated. I’m 100 percent behind it — which doesn’t mean it necessarily will work, just that it’s a good way to try and to get into these stories.”

King even approves of the casting. “It was great to see Idris Elba as Roland. He has terrific focus and tremendous energy as Roland. Mathew McConaughey is very scary and very intense as Walter. I love that right away you set up the tension between the two of them.”

Another mark in favor of this movie is, according to Entertainment Weekly, “co-writer Nikolaj Arcel, a Danish filmmaker who says he learned English as a teen just so he could read King’s books in their native language.”

The novel sees Roland, the gunslinger, and Jake, the boy crossing the desert in search of the Man in Black, Walter. Filled with dark subplots and set in a world possibly just adjacent to ours, The Gunslinger movie will have at its fingertips a uniquely open plot to fiddle with.

The first book, for which the movie is named, leaves many questions unanswered and is essentially 300 pages of set up for the rest of the epic series. That being said, the movie will have a lot of room to fill in details and separate non-book plots. In fact, it seems to be bringing in elements from later books like The Wolves of Calla and is possibly missing characters like Susannah and Eddie, but whether the movie adaptations will continue may alter their M.I.A status.

But whether or not one looks on with trepidation or excitement, from the looks of the trailer, the world building is incredibly detailed and all the hardcore gunslinging dreams of fans are front and center.

J.K. Rowling, You’ve Given Me an Identity Crisis

I have spent most of my years wondering what Hogwarts house I would belong in. And when I say that, I mean I’ve spent way too many hours obsessively tapping my fingers in introspection.

For about half of those many years I have been told time and time again that I am unquestionably, undoubtably a Ravenclaw. So when Pottermore launched, part of me was just itching to go and check, but something stopped me. I did not go to Pottermore, in fact I waited approximately seven years before I visited.

I now know that I was terrified, as dorky and riddikulus as it sounds, yes I was terrified. What if I ended up in a house I didn’t feel like I was part of? Part of me had always held onto this idea that I, like the trio, was part of Gryffindor, but I knew that I was probably Ravenclaw.

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I have spent years avoiding my inevitable sorting, but I finally caved. I’m not sure how I feel now that I have. I took every other quiz I could before this one, including an Ilvermorny house quiz, which I was surprised to find I am not a Horned Serpent, I am a Wampus, known to be the body of a wizard and the warrior. So maybe that should’ve been my first warning flag.

When I finally took the sorting quiz, I came out Slytherin. I understand to a degree, but I wanted a second opinion. So I did something taboo, I cheated the system, which, thinking about it now, may make me more Slytherin than I thought. But still, I made another account. It never hurts to get a second opinion.

This time Ilvermorny was not a Horned Serpent, instead a Thunderbird, known for spirit and adventure. Both for Ilvermorny and Hogwarts I tried to answer very similarly to the first sorting and as true to myself as I felt I could be.

For Hogwarts, this time I came out Gryffindor. I should be ecstatic, the secret hope has been partially confirmed. But something still doesn’t sit right.

I feel the most closely linked to Ravenclaw and the Horned Serpent, the houses of the wise, studious, and intellectuals. How could my results say traits, that yes, I do have and pride myself on, outweigh what I believe to actually be my strongest characteristics?

I have spent so many years of my life wondering about this… to the point where I am just straight up confused now.

Understandably, the houses together form one complete concept – everybody has a bit of every house. The point of the sorting is to identify the strongest of those traits, so why do I feel that the traits identified by a J.K. Rowling-approved computer algorithm as my strongest are wrong?

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Maybe because that’s just it. Despite my unerring geekiness and absolute worshipping of J.K. Rowling, I am not going to trust a computer to tell me what house I’m supposed to be for Ilvermorny or Hogwarts. The decision is for the Sorting Hat and the Carvings alone to make, and it is widely recognized that the Sorting Hat takes your belief into consideration and it is a personal belief that the carvings of Ilvermorny do too.

I, to give Pottermore some credit, as I stated before have an unerring belief in almost anything J.K. Rowling approves. That being said, I believe that this was partially correct both times and partially wrong both times.

The readers are what bring the story to life, and believe me, I am a reader and Harry Potter is definitely very much real life to me. So shouldn’t what I believe to be true mean something?

I feel that I have the ambition, resourcefulness, and many other characteristics of a Slytherin, but I also feel that I have the boldness, daring, and countless other traits of a Gryffindor, and equal to both of the previous I feel that I have the curiosity, drive for wisdom, and basically everything else that Ravenclaw treasures. My feelings on the Ilvermorny houses mirror my feelings on the Hogwarts houses – I value adventure, strength, and wisdom.

Simply put, I will continue to stand by my allegiance to all: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Horned Serpent.

But those of the steadfast Pottermore belief will have to forgive me for my terrible sin: I am going to take Pottermore as suggestion.

I will continue to believe that I am a Ravenclaw/Horned Serpent who has very strong tendencies toward the many other houses, like the well-rounded person, with an inclination toward intellect, I believe myself to be.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Based on the horribly juxtaposed 13 book children’s series, Lemony Snicket’s A series of Unfortunate Events is back on the screen.

After an adaptation starring the ever bold and physical comedian Jim Carey, there was something missing – a certain element of discomfort that made your skin crawl. Long-time and new fans alike are excited to see the whimsical and dark series come to life in ways the movie didn’t.

Thanks to Netflix, 13 years after the movie, fans left wanting more are treated yet again to the world of the Baudelaire Orphans.

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Netflix is a growing empire, what with its ever-increasing show and movie collection complete with the little red Netflix stamp in the corner. But none of its other series’ are nearly as daring as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Clocking in above The Crown as Netflix’s most expensive show to date, and aimed to appeal to every major viewing group, A Series of Unfortunate Events had to jump through all the hoops and stick the landing.

And stick the landing it has, masterfully translating a rich and vivid book series to the big screen.

With Daniel Handler (or better known to A Series of Unfortunate Events fans as none other than the Lemony Snicket) writing for the first two episodes detailing the first book, the show was off to a strong start.

The filming, dialogue and acting perfectly reflect the original material in ways that are often lost in book-to-screen translations. The actual visual and audio result is a style that is resonant with Wes Anderson’s later works like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom and even Fantastic Mr. Fox, with vivid colors, sharp dialogue, specific score, and subtle etchings of humor in small, seemingly insignificant places that make all the difference.

Sticking pretty closely to the original books, the Netflix series has only upward to look. Having only covered four books of 13, and with the introduction of a secret organization only hinted at in the books, the show will undoubtedly grow in complexity and content as the series goes on.