On A Tangent

The ultimate site for a generation sidetracked by the fandom life


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5 Things by the Time I’m 30

The countdown is officially on. I’m nearing the big 3-0. It’s an exciting and fun time of life. My husband and I are happily secure enough to get to do some travel. We live close enough to 90% of our family to see them on a weekly or monthly basis. We have a fabulous group of friends who, although they live literally across the globe, make it a point to stay close utilizing technology.

True, we’ve been handed some really rough lemons over the years, but we have always chosen to turn them into SourPatch Kids. The 30s are going to be our best decade.

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Jay Gatsby agrees. His 20s sucked too.

To be fair, I would seriously contemplate bodily harm on anyone who tried to send me back to the start of my 20s. People say they’d “give anything to be 20 again.” I don’t think they know what this term means.

What is fun about being poor, lonely and uncertain about your direction in life, feeling like the whole world must understand this better than you? (It’s possible that this is not everyone’s 20s experience. I hear there was parties and drinking for some.)

That being said, transitioning from your third decade of life into your fourth should be met with a certain pizazz. So I queried the world. What should I do while I was still “living it up” in my 20s? Continue reading


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Laney Reviews: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

So like many Harry Potter fans, I went out and bought my copy on Sunday and read through it all day yesterday. (I’ve specifically dropped in the “Read More” tag and hidden any spoilers so that if you haven’t read it, you get that magical first-time experience. If you have read it, I would LOVE to see a discussion in the comments! What did you think?)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8)Like so many Harry Potter fans, I was in middle school (the same age as Harry) when my English teacher first recommended the Harry Potter series to me. The first three books had been published in the previous years, and the fourth was about to come out. My best friend and I devoured them and analyzed them, lovingly, but critically. (I still think of The Goblet of Fire in a completely different way that I do the others.) The Harry Potter books are not, in my opinion, great works of fiction, but they ARE a delightfully fresh world the likes of which others have tried to duplicate and none have arguably succeeded.I am not blinded to their faults by my love of what they represent.

What made/makes Harry Potter such a global phenomenon is that it tells a very human story in a setting that is equal parts fantastic and horrifying. We empathize with Harry and revile Voldemort. We feel the bonds of friendship that are set against the bonds of self-interest.

The other important thing to remember about the original 7 Harry Potter stories is that they are entirely told on the perspective of Harry Potter, a boy who knows nothing of the wizarding world and to whom (like his innocent reader) everything is a new delight. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child turns that original narrative structure completely on its head to create something entirely new.

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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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Marvel Monday: Thor, Full of Sound and Fury

AvengersFor our Marvel Monday column for the next two months, we will be reviewing all of the Marvel canon movies to prepare for our big review of The Avengers: Age of Ultron  on May 1. Today, we get philosophical about the nature of heroes and aliens with Laney’s review of Thor (2011).

When it first came out in theaters, despite starring another of my all-time favorite leading ladies Natalie Portman, Thor just didn’t hold up to how much I enjoyed Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely! Was it the best written plotline in the world? Well… to me, it felt a little rushed and a little contrived.

Rewatching it for our blog, however, and in light of the films that come after Thor, places the film in an entirely different light. Like a lightbulb going off, I have realized it is the pivotal plotline of the current Marvel continuity. Continue reading


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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Emily Gilmore?

Only The Dowager Countess Grantham could rival Emily Gilmore's tongue.

Only The Dowager Countess Grantham could rival Emily Gilmore’s putdowns. (Leah’s comment: I want to see THAT Friday night dinner.)

To say that Lorelei (Lauren Graham) and Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) have one of the most turbulent cinematic mother-daughter relationships would likely be an understatement. The dysfunction present throughout all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls between these two strongly willed ladies could likely fill years of psychological journals.

But for the purpose of this very brief, 1,000-word blog post, I want to focus on the ways that Emily Gilmore works, both as a character and a reflection of the strong-willed lady in all of us. (You too, gentleman readers!)

First of all, with only a few exceptions, Emily Gilmore, like so many ideologues and family matriarchs, never errs from her firm opinion that her actions are not only in the right, but are what is best for those around her. This habit is regularly exemplified in her dialogues with Lorelei, in which Lorelei says one thing and Emily steamrolls right over her.What I love about the beginning of the show is that it launches us immediately into the timeframe in which Lorelei has begun (with mixed success) to improve that relationship and force her mother to hear what she is saying.

I have often thought this is very reflective of real life, where we only allow those who have torn us down to see us when we have started the assent back up. Rory is thriving despite a rocky start to life. Lorelei is successfully managing a big business with dozens of employees. To some extent and despite all her attempts to rebel from their way of life, Lorelei is still craving her parents to say that she has done well. It’s a praise she never fully receives. But that’s a digression for another day.

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Throwback Thursday: Appreciating Ella Enchanted

Look at how spunky she is! How could you not adore a face like that?

Look at how spunky she is! How could you not adore a face like that?

As a kid, I devoured every book in the mythology/folklore/fairy tale section of our school library and public library. I was utterly fascinated that no matter what culture about which you read, you always came back to the same types of instructive or amusing narratives. (Note: yes, I discovered you can actually major in college in this subject. It’s called International Affairs, and I have two degrees in it.) When I discovered a whole world of fictional chapter books on retold fairy tales (think Robin McKinley and the like), I was over the moon. But by far, my favorite was Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.

I have read this book no less than 20 times in my life I’m sure, but in re-reading it for my book club pick this month, it occurred to me that it’s the first time that I have read it post-marriage. I love it just as incredibly as I loved it the first 19 times I read it, for entirely the same reasons. It’s the feeling that you have in greeting an old friend whom you know so well. It might not have held up perfectly well to our scrutiny as adults, but it didn’t make it any less delightful.

How many times do we watch/read/hear the Cinderella story, especially in the western media? Re-told in so many versions, the most recent of which is (amusingly) Disney retelling their own cartoon. We are inspired by the story of characters who overcome all odds, then thumb their noses at the people who kept them there.

But what I love best about Ella Enchanted is that it is NOT a story in which the only strife the character experiences is that placed upon her. Continue reading


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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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Celebrating Paris Geller: The Unsung Hero of Gilmore Girls

It probably goes without saying that every introverted pre-teen and teenage girl of the mid-2000s had a deep-seated camaraderie with the show Gilmore Girls, and a particular kindred spirit feeling for everyone’s introverted darling, Rory. (You’ll probably be seeing a lot more of Gilmore Girls from this blog in particular, as both of its authors share that kinship.) Rory was bookish, she was sweet, she was smart and driven; we got her and we loved her for being a different kind of leading lady from anything else on TV.

But, with full recognition of our love for Lorelei and Rory, our Worthy Women Wednesday blogs must take some time to focus on the zany characters that drove these two characters toward the very human perfection that was Gilmore Girls.

For many years, I have made a vocal argument that season 1 Rory could never have become season 7 Rory without one, single character: her foil, nemesis and ersatz friend, Paris Geller.

An oft-rehearsed debate between our sister bloggers, wherein Laney looks like she’s just come from the hair salon at all hours of the day or night, while Leah continually struggles to contain her curls. – Leah

Those of us who went to a private or advanced academic school all knew at least one Paris Geller. (Or maybe you WERE her.) They were loud. They were bold. Their drive for perfection drove everyone around them up a wall on group projects. Their ability to drop SAT-level vocabulary words at 6 am off of 3 hours of sleep was nothing short of astounding. And don’t get us started on their actual SAT scores. Which they probably took 4 times to score a perfect 800 on each section.  Half of our brain wanted to be them, the other half wanted to figure out how to make them disappear back to the planet from which they had sprung.

Rory and Paris are foils: both driven, both smart, both so hard-working it would make the Amish look lazy. They start out with identical goals: to be the top of their class, to make it into Harvard, to create waves in the world. In all of the Gilmore Girls universe, no one, not even Lorelei, can understand Rory at quite such a deep level as Paris can. Yet at the same time, they differ greatly.

In many ways, Paris is what Rory might have been if she had followed “The Gilmore Plan” to be raised by her grandparents instead of Lorelei raising Rory on her own. Rory is what Paris might have been if she was allowed to pause for two seconds and be appreciated for exactly who she already was. Where Rory ducks behind a book, Paris charges forward with confidence. Where Rory sidesteps conflict, Paris confronts. Where other characters worship Rory from a distance, they literally move out of Paris’ way. Both girls are, in their own way, isolated.

Paris is a character you love to hate. Her perpetual antagonism of Rory in the first two season of the show stems directly from these personality preferences on the part of the two characters. But what matters to the show, and to our deep appreciation of Paris Geller, is the results of their relationship: a stronger Rory, who realizes she is not a delicate princess to whom everything should be given, and a softened Paris, who can accept that someone might love her for herself and not her accomplishments.

The first turning point in their relationship comes in episode 13 of season one, “Concert Interruptus”, where Rory is forced to invite Paris and her sycophants to her house for a study group. In a twist of expectations, Madeline and Louise, the more sympathetic set of characters, end up breaking the rules at The Bangles’ concert and being distanced from Rory, while Paris drops her shell to admit that she actually had fun. This moment of humanity instantly breaks the ludicrous layers of Paris’ character and makes her real to the audience.

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