On A Tangent

The ultimate site for a generation sidetracked by the fandom life


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Beginning In Media Res, Origin Fatigue, and Worldbuilding; or, Fantastic Ideas and How to Lose Them

This piece contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

This weekend, after some house cleaning and the chaos of Thanksgiving, my mom and I went to the movies. We both wanted to see Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so we settled on a double feature: Fantastic Beasts first, then dinner, and Moana for dessert.

Over dinner, we discussed the first movie. We both liked it, we agreed. We thought the visual effects were (pun intended) fantastic, the creatures were fascinating, and that Eddie Redmayne was a great choice for the lead.

But as we discussed, a thought occurred to me. I turned to my mom with a question.

“Did you understand who Grindelwald was?”

Her answer, of course, was no. My mom has seen the movies, but she never read the books. Though she might have remembered his brief appearance in the final films, he wasn’t really highlighted. For her, Grindelwald was just a name on a newspaper. The significance of his presence in the film was lost to her entirely. fb

Fantastic Beasts is a movie produced under strange, but increasingly common circumstances. Harry Potter is a global phenomenon — you’d be hard pressed to find someone of my generation who hasn’t read or at least watched it. It sparked films, LEGOs, theme parks, and the ever-expanding Pottermore, for those who just can’t get enough of the world. Fantastic Beasts is a product of that multimedia empire and ravenous fanbase, always clamoring for more — it’s a story already sketched out in vague lines for devoted fans who picked up the “textbook” on which it is based.

But the film fleshes that story out. And as a part of a multimedia franchise, it does so in a manner that assumes many things about what its audience knows about the setting. If Fantastic Beasts were merely a sequel, that might be okay. There is an expectation with sequels that you really only get the full picture if you’ve followed the series (although skilled writers should be able to ground you in the story regardless.)

But Fantastic Beasts isn’t a sequel, as such. It’s the beginning of a new series, one that, while related to Harry Potter tangentially, exists entirely on its own plot and characters. It is our entry into a world familiar, yet strange.

But if this is our entry point… boy, is it muddled.

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Laney’s Top Ten Must Reads

When you come from a family of bibliophiles, deciding upon your top ten favorite books feels a little bit like Solomon’s Dilemma. I’ve read over 1300 books in my lifetime (at least that’s what I can remember and put on Goodreads…), so I had to put a lot of thought into my top ten list. I LOVE beautiful, rich, deep, complex language. If there’s one thing that threads throughout all of my top ten, it’s the beauty of language and the art of a story well-told.

As Leah mentioned in her Top 10 List, we decided to focus on the books that in some way shaped or transformed our lives. Ranking these ten books amongst themselves would be even more impossible than choosing them in the first place, so they are arranged in chronological order. They are all worth-while reads, even the ones that require tapping into your inner child (a practice which I heartily support doing on a regular basis!). Continue reading


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On a Tangent (Again)

Hello folks, and welcome back to the fray!

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus while Leah completed her degree, but we’re happy to return better, brighter, and feistier than ever!

We’ll be kicking off our reboot with a favorite subject for both of us: books! This week, we’ll each be compiling a list of ten favorite books — books that have influenced us as writers, readers, and citizens of the world. We’ll tell you when we read them, why we love them, and why you just might want to consider picking them up for yourself.

We’ll also be attempting to return to a weekly schedule of posts. Real life gets busy, but we want to get back to talking about the things we love, and discussing them with you!

Until then, happy reading, watching, and learning!

 

 


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Fandom Friday: “You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die.”

When I was in 10th grade, I was dual-enrolled at the local community college, which meant one of my elective courses during the school day was left gloriously blank. Of course at the time, I was only 15 going on 16 (you know you just sang the Sound of Music in your head), which meant I could go absolutely no where until my dad collected me at the end of the day.

My best friend at the time, who for purposes of anonymity I will refer to as KC, was likewise dual-enrolled with a free period, and in a fit of extreme generosity, our very young and very likable geometry teacher let us camp in her room, which was her free period as well. Her room shared an office area with three other teachers/rooms and we were ecstatic to be encouraged by another teacher in the quad-pod to delve into her old VHS movie collections to bide our time. (Seriously, as an adult myself now, I glory at these teachers’ letting us into their private time when they had to deal with teenagers ALL DAY LONG. Where ever you are, wonderful teachers, I thank you!)

Best. Movie. Ever.

Best. Movie. Ever. (Leah’s note: Is this a kissing movie?)

First of all, as sheltered, bookish child, I had missed out on a lot of pop media in my day. KC, who was as pop-media savvy as I was naive, and I were quickly mowing through a variety of classic films, when the subject of The Princess Bride sprouted.

“What do you mean you’ve never seen The Princess Bride?!” KC exclaimed one day over popcorn and a movie, our feet propped up on the adjoining desks. The revelation was so overwhelming she actually stood up. “This is completely unacceptable. It’s my favorite movie ON THE PLANET. How in the world could you never have seen it?”   Continue reading


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Media Matters: The New Age of Being a Fan

All rights reserved to TriStar Pictures and the other producers of this amazing movie.

We have been lucky in our lives to float along like ships on to the sea with good friends, both real and in our imaginations. (All rights reserved to TriStar Pictures and the other producers of this amazing movie adaptation.)Welcome to the blog!

Welcome to the blog!

Leah: If I were to estimate how long Laney and I had been thinking about doing a collaborative project, I would probably be totally wrong.  I think the idea has always been in the back of our minds, to some extent, stemming from the very first days we spent writing together and editing one another’s childhood stories.  In the past few years, we’ve bounced around from the concept of a traditional blog to a website to a vlog, but all with one final goal in mind: to attract minions to overthrow the… umm, wait. Wrong project. Oops. Moving right along…

Laney: (Our first collaboration was me telling Leah fairy tales in her crib. But we digress.)

Leah: On a Tangent is a response to a culture that is increasingly supportive of and interested in subjects that would have been hidden under pillows and cloaked in basements twenty years ago. With the increasing popularity of phenomena like Game of Thrones and multi-movie franchises a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the mainstream has created a growing space for so-called “geek” culture. For those of us who grew up on a healthy dose of Star Wars, who devoured the Chronicles of Narnia, and knew Captain Picard’s “final frontier” speech as well as we knew our own names, this changing culture is both a blessing and a challenge that makes us reflect on how we consume media. In the here and now, the ideas that fueled every childhood daydream of battling monsters and traversing space are becoming an increasingly relevant part of how we live our day-to-day lives and understand the struggles of people around us. Continue reading