Seasonal Reads: Harry Potter

Do you ever find yourself coming back to a certain story at a certain time of year?  I often re-read books during a specific month or season that I feel is inextricably tied to the book.  Here’s what I’m reading right now to get in the spirit of the season.

 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)

2Harry Potter for me is practically synonymous with summer reading.  I don’t think I was ever assigned it as summer reading in school, though I daresay that is common.  Or at least it was when I was in school.

All the Harry Potter books have strong ties to summer.  Harry’s birthday is July 31st, and all the books start around this time.  They also finish at the end of the school year, the start of summer.

But most importantly, the books were released in the summer.  From Book 4 on, summer was when I read all of them for the first time.  I’m sure many of you even attended release parties at midnight for some of the later editions; I did for Book 6.

I remember specifically that for Book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, my sister had placed a pre-order from Borders/Amazon.  On June 21, 2003, she was not home to receive it…but I was.  The next day I left for tennis camp, with the book packed in my suitcase.  I read the whole thing that week, before she ever got a hold of it.  (In my defense, she was still gone most of the time I was at camp.)

I distinctly remember sitting in the camp dorm room crying, not when Sirius died (I was too in shock), but later at the conversation in Dumbledore’s office, when he seems so defeated, telling Harry about the prophecy and how his fatal flaw was that he cared about Harry too much.  I’m getting a little teary thinking about it now.

So for me it seems natural to come back to this series as a summer read, though I probably re-read Prisoner of Azkaban most frequently, as it’s my favorite.

K-pop MVs: f(x)’s “Hot Summer”

The MVs for fun summer songs typically have things like beaches and girls in bikinis.  What does f(x) have? A bright pink tank.  That’s right.  Boom.

These girls are absolutely fabulous and they always have fun choreography.  I think of them as SHINee’s sister group.  They are also very multi-cultural: Victoria is Chinese, Amber is Taiwanese-American, and Krystal was also born in America.  Krystal is also the younger sister of Jessica from Girls’ Generation.

If “Hot Summer” sounds familiar, it might be because it was done first in English by a German pop group.

The members:

  • Krystal (0:21)—lead vocalist, maknae
  • Sulli (0:29)—visual, vocalist
  • Victoria (0:37)—leader, main dancer
  • Amber (0:44)—main rapper
  • Luna (0:55)—main vocalist, lead dancer

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions.  The oldest is typically the leader.  The “maknae” is the youngest of the group, but Sulli is sometimes called the “2nd maknae” because she is only a few months older than Krystal and usually has the cutest look.  The visual is basically the most attractive member who does promotional activities.

Their best song (though not quite as good of a video) is also one of my favorite K-pop songs ever: Electric Shock.  It will absolutely get stuck in your head.

Even more from f(x):

How NOT to Photoshop

I went to Blossom Music Center again last weekend for the end of their Summer Festival.  It was a family pops concert, featuring fun things such as “Let It Go!” from Frozen (everyone sang along) and Pat Sajak performing an orchestrated version of “Casey at the Bat.”  Plus there were fireworks after.

As I have mentioned before, Blossom is the summer home of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra.  It’s an incredible venue, and the performances are also incredible.  So, I was a little tickled by their program, which is handed out to everyone at the entrance before every show.

Sorry for the smears, etc...we were eating bbq during the performance.
Sorry for the smears, etc…we were eating bbq during the performance.

It’s a very good representative photo, and the sky is very pretty…until you realize…hmmm, those people on the blanket in the foreground…

blossomedit

And it only gets worse the longer you look at it:

blossomedit1

There are probably more!  Honestly, these other ones are so subtle I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if I hadn’t seen the trio on the blanket duplicated right next to each other directly in the foreground.  And the quality of the Photoshopping is fine; at least, I can’t tell which is the real group and which is the duplicate.

Anyway, I just got a kick out of it and figured I’d share 😀

July Camp NaNo Wrap-up

Well, it’s been another month of writing at Camp NaNoWriMo.  I went back and continued my fairy tale retelling that I started last NaNoWriMo, which has become kind of a practice piece for me.

After my dismal failure with NaNo last November, I tried to give myself several options of ways that I would feel personally satisfied by my efforts this month (in order of lessening difficulty):

 

1. 10,000 words written (my ostensible goal, which was the lowest choice–I also opted to include blog posts in my word count total for the month)

  • Yeah, did not make it.  Word total: 5,943 from novel/blog combined

 

2. 10,000 words total in my novel

  • Nope, but close: I am sitting at 8,866

 

3. More than 5,693 words written (my total from last November’s NaNoWriMo)

  • DING DING DING.

 

So my consolation prize is that at least I did better than last time!  And really, that’s all I can ask of myself, to keep improving.

 I did a few things differently this month compared to last November.  Mostly importantly, I kept reading.  I read at least 3 novels and some short stories this month.  Now that I am feeling more comfortable with my writing style, and narration especially,  it didn’t really bother me to have to jump back and forth between my story and what I was reading.  In fact, on occasion it was kinda inspiring, especially because I was reading some enjoyable YA fantasy (my story’s genre).

 Obviously, I also kept blogging.  For those of you who can do math, from the stats above you’ll see that I wrote 3,173 words for my novel this month vs. 5,693 last November when I took a blogging break for NaNo.  So, blogging definitely cut into my novel-writing.  But on some level, writing is writing, and my blog keeps writing fun, which I feel is also important.

 I kept watching TV, playing SWTOR, and doing all my normal “fun” also, which I think will help me form a more sustainable strategy for incorporating regular writing time into my life, instead of just a one-month binge.

 As for what I wrote, I’m pretty pleased with what I accomplished (although I hoped to be further along in the story by now).  I wrote several major conversations between characters (sometimes writing out of order).  I also feel much more solid about the narrator’s voice and character.  I did do more research as I went, which, while productive, takes away from actual writing.

 Whereas when I first started last year, I was treating this story as a training exercise, now I’m starting to see some joy and life in it.  I have some revelations for the motivations of several main characters, and found some good ways to showcase various personalities.  The parts that I was writing this time started to detail the fantasy elements of the story, which also more fun for me.

I do still need to find better distraction-free setting for writing.  Our office room in the house is comfy, but my husband spends most of his time there, too, and he loves watching YouTube videos.  And Netflix. I love marathoning Star Trek series and Warp Zone music videos as much as the next geek, but not while I’m writing!