Friday, January 31, 2014

Dinner Party!

You are Cordially Invited to Dine with Heather… Literally Whenever You Can Come Over.

Photo Credit: Mark B. Schlemmer

I would send a dinner party invitation in an instant if I could summon some of the coolest literary ladies and gentlemen I know from the pages where they currently reside. Never mind that I hate cooking. And hanging out with too many people at the same time. I think for once I would not care.

Because it would be awesome.

My dining room table has seated something like twelve people when my mother volunteers our home for a social gathering. If I take one seat for myself, that leaves eleven empty chairs for me to fill. It’s my first time, of course, which means I’ll probably want to take it easy. Heroes and secondary protagonists seem a great place to get the action started.

Guest List:

Horace Altman—I’m not sure I could even begin to start without inviting Horace, the best of the warriors I know and one of the bravest. He’s not as smart as his friends, but that doesn’t mean he’s stupid. He would have plenty of stories to share, for sure, and more than that he would have an appetite to eat me out of house and home. I’m sure he would help out afterwards with the dishes to make up for it.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn—I don’t really envision Aragorn being much of a talker, to be honest. He’s called Strider, but at some points he acts more like a stalker. I would invite him because I love his character, and he would probably find a friend among Horace. Even if he didn’t talk, I would feel better having him around. He’d keep an eye on things.

Violet Baudelaire—A different era than either Horace or Aragorn, but despite her introverted mind Violet has some sharp ideas and would undoubtedly add valuable insight into the conversation. While we talked she would probably invent something to bring the food over to us so we don’t have to get up, or a device to refill everyone’s water glasses on demand.

Annabeth Chase—Annabeth would have a hard time keeping up between Horace and Violet, trying to hear both the epic tales of Araluen (while adding in a few of her own, I might add) and engaging in a rapid-fire discussion over inventions with Violet. As the daughter of the goddess of wisdom, I doubt she’ll be a boring character to have around.

Artemis Fowl (with Butler)—A two for one, seeing as Artemis hardly goes anywhere without his faithful manservant. Artemis will undoubtedly be fascinated by the ideas both Violet and Annabeth come up with, but knowing his love for history, he’ll also want to spend as much time speaking with his medieval counterparts as well. Hopefully he won’t offend everyone by the time dinner’s over. (Butler, of course, will get along fabulously with Aragorn and Horace because of their occupations.)

Hermione Granger—Hermione and Artemis would go head to head, I’m afraid, as a Gryffindor matched with someone like Artemis, who cannot be so easily constrained by such simple divisions as houses. I’m sure she would gush just as much as Artemis, however, over the historical knowledge she may get to gain. And with girls like Annabeth and Violet around… Who knows what would happen?

Otto Malpense—A liability, I admit, but someone needs to be around who is just as smart and capable as Artemis. Undoubtedly they will enjoy challenging each other so much they will make plans to have tea later in the week, as that is a very posh thing they would do, being Irish and British and all. Otto, however, would also learn to admire the rest of the members of the table as well, and be quite interested in having an individual conversation with each guest himself.

Halt O’Carrick—I love Halt. He would sit next to Aragorn, and make dry comments about all the young people sitting around him. Presumably everyone would be in awe of his splendor and therefore make him the butt of all subsequent jokes. And Halt would take it like a man, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

Thor Odinson—Despite the risk to my dishes, I have to invite Thor. Even though at best he’s really more of a comic book character who has made it to the silver screen. Thor would be most at home with Skandians, but to be honest, it’s not like any guest from Araluen hasn’t proved his salt. Undoubtedly Thor would have plenty of things to say in the realm of magic as well, so three or four of the others might end up tuning in as well.

Will Treaty—As if anyone could forget Will. Out of this list Will is going to be the life of the party, because even though he’s a ranger now nothing can dampen that smile. And to be honest the rest of the table isn’t really a party-going group. Except perhaps Thor. He’ll keep the spirits up, and if we’re lucky, charm us with a song. And no matter what, he’ll always have something cheeky to say.

I’m not sure if there’s much else I could ask for.

If I count correctly, that is exactly eleven people. I can’t imagine what it would be like to talk the night away with them, avoiding disasters and eating something my mother made for us. I mean, I know they’re not real…

But a girl can dream, can’t she?

What about you? Who would you invite to your fictional heroes gala?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I first listened to Deathbed on Pandora, while I was doing my homework. A lot of times I zone out of what the words are saying when I’m listening (unless my Dad is in the room at which point I realize I’ve been listening to a song with subliminal messages for ages without realizing it). I can remember stopping what I was doing—my Calculus homework, now that I think about it—and pausing to listen and read along with the lyrics. They were strangely profound. And in a way, frightening.

The song is a laundry list of pain and heartbreak and bad decisions and fear. A kid grows up to be a man who screws up his life, and then pays the price by dying alone with lung cancer. All throughout his life he makes decisions for himself, and turns to alcohol and cigarettes to make them go away.

That would be his deathbed.

But Jesus didn’t die for the perfect people. He came to earth to sit with the sinners and talk with the tax collectors. He forgave. He sacrificed himself for that forgiveness, so that one day when we lay on our deathbeds, with only our sins to hold our hands as we die, He could reach out and say, “No. That one belongs to me, thanks.” and bring us back to live with him for eternity.

That’s just crazy. More so because it’s a true story. I think Relient K nailed this one.

What do you think about the song?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mythology Monday: Echidna

I thought I’d do something fun on here for once.

It would be easy to start with some hotshot like Zeus if I wanted to start talking about Greek mythology, but that’s not how I roll. Main characters are great, but it is the adversary who sets the tone of the epic. Echidna sets the tone of Greek mythology. Her offspring and her deeds are some of the greatest challenges mankind has to face, and by existing lead heroes to their destiny.

Flickr Credit: Pietro Izzo
Echidna, the mother of monsters, was the spouse of the infamous Typhon, the deadliest monster of them all. After her husband was defeated, she and her children were allowed to live as challenges for the heroes, and are therefore littered throughout all the stories. Her brood includes Ladon, the Colchian Dragon, Scylla, the Hydra, Orthus, and Cerberus. Also she carried people off and ate them herself. Her legacy is of evil, and that is why she is so important.

Why I Love Her
Echidna was one of my favorite mythology figures for a long time. The Myth-o-Mania series, of which I am very fond, depicts her as a down to earth mom. She proved the best of babysitters, and when it came down to it was simply a practical woman caught in a bad marriage. She cared for her children, kept an eye on them as they grew up, and responded kindly to those who treated her the same way. She took no nonsense, and that was awesome.

I love her characterization in the Hercules TV show, as well. (The Disney one based off of the movie with only five Muses and a winged horse that should have come from Medusa’s severed head and no mention of the Furies.) Sure, she comes into a room with the line, “Tremble before mighty Echidna!” but when she gets going, you can be sure that she takes being a monster seriously. She compares the successes of her kids and demands greatness. Pita delivery boys are junk food—monsters need to concentrate on the real stuff. And who doesn’t love a mother who looks out for her children’s best interests?

(By the way, I do actually love Hercules. I watched it yesterday, and it was as good as ever, but I do not think they hit all the characters spot on.)

When I was later alerted to Echidna’s actual characterization in mythology, I realized that she was quite a bit more sinister, but that never really diminished her character for me. You still have to be a pretty tough lady to mother that many children, monsters or no, and despite all I’ve read and know, I still feel like she was probably the shoulder all the monsters came to cry on whenever things started going downhill. But that’s just me.

Why I Don’t Love Her
Regardless of my soft spot for the bad guys in mythology, Echidna still mothered a line of monsters capable of wiping out humankind. It’s their thing, and I get it, but still. Mass murder is one of the more inappropriate things one could ever hope to do.

Why She’s Important
Monsters are really important. Adversity creates adventures, and adventures are the stuff of stories. Echidna is the mother of the monsters, but she’s also the mother of growth, in a twisted sort of way. Without monsters, people would become complacent. Heroes would never hone their strengths. And some would never realize the full extent of their capabilities. People would forget the value of pain and struggle in their lives.

Echidna shows up nowadays in less conspicuous ways. Calculus homework, despicable neighbors, and learning to ride a bike are all daily trials, and some I myself have suffered through. But that’s the thing. Unless we face a mountain, we’re never going to climb.

That being said, I think Echidna’s pretty cool. Definitely a M.O.M. worth remembering.

What do you think about Echidna? Love her? Hate her? Leave a thunk below!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Looking Forward

Confession time: I am a terrible reader.

There are 47 books stacked next to my door (there’s a visual here) and I am rereading something I’ve already read before that wasn’t even in that pile to begin with.

It’s always been that way. I usually get caught in a book loop until something new astounds me. Usually I just stop reading a book if it bores me. I should probably read them through to figure out why I don’t like them, but still.

I am a creature of habit.

Even so, I am looking forward to some books I will soon endeavor to make it through. To be perfectly honest, I’ve already read five items on this list, but that’s really the reason I’m excited to read them. The rest are just potentially interesting, we’ll see how awesome they end up being.

So… List. List, list, list. List!

1. Unsouled, by Neal Shusterman

I received the book for Christmas, but although I’ve managed to reread Unwind, I haven’t gotten through UnWholly again, so as soon as I get through that, I will so be on Unsouled. I mean, I love this series, I do. I adore it. It makes me consider my world and occasionally it has blown my perceptions. It’s just that the last time I read UnWholly it took a shower and some time on the Internet before the murderous rage that overcame me dissipated.

And books causing emotions is great, but killing people isn’t. I’m just sort of worried about what my next read is going to be like.

2. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, by John Flanagan

This is undoubtedly my favorite book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, probably because of the amount of screen time Horace receives. Horace is and always has been the best of characters, shortly followed by Selethen, Halt, Will, and potentially Malcolm, but I digress. I thought the melding of cultures was super cool, and I love the Emperor as well. I mean, it takes a special kind of leader to point out that we all have bums, you know.

It shall be fantastic, and they shall bring joy to my essence once more.
3. Deadlock, by Mark Walden

I have something like three books to finish in the H.I.V.E. series before I get to book eight, but I've somehow meshed Deadlock’s plot with its predecessor’s, and I cannot wait to reconcile what actually happened with my delusions.

Then again, I’m not always sure I can tell the difference between what happened in the books and what I made up anymore.

4. Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, by Mary Seacole

A few Horrible Histories sketches have initiated my interest in this lady. As far as I know, she was a woman of Scottish-Jamaican decent who was rejected by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War to help out, so she built her own medical setup to help wounded soldiers. I don’t really know what else she has to say, but I look forward to seeing how she puts it.

5. The Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan

I bought this book the day it came out, and haven’t opened it. Awesome for me. I’m not sure whether I’m really excited to reading this, but I definitely look forward to getting it out of my to-read pile. Let’s hope I can make it through The Lost Hero before I die.

6. The Artemis Fowl Files, by Eoin Colfer

I like this. In some ways I really enjoy short stories, because I think there’s always a lot that gets unsaid in novels. Obviously, I don’t need to know about every single potty break, but sometimes there’s not really a place or a reason to put in certain information, and the short stories in this baby are a nice addition to Artemis Fowl’s world.

And, you know, puzzles are fun.

7. The Atlantis Complex, by Eoin Colfer

This is actually my least favorite AF book, for one reason: Orion. That guy drives. me. nuts. Like, I just want to strangle him.

But at the same time I love reading Artemis Fowl.

But I hate Orion. He’s sickening.

Though, on the other hand, we get Juliet back, and that chick is awesome. So not all will be lost.

8. Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

It took me forever to get into The Fellowship of the Ring. Only after I was at my grandfather’s seventy-fifth birthday party, wherein I sat in the kitchen with my sister for the entire duration of the celebration, did I approach a place where I could see what was going on and enjoy it. (I love Lord of the Rings; it is just occasionally over my head.)

The Two Towers wasn’t hard to follow with, but then I got in trouble because my European history teacher sort of made me stop. That was awkward. And he was cool about it. But still. I never really picked up RotK after that.

But that’s actually my favorite part of the story, so I’m excited to find out all the lovely details.

9. Demigods and Monsters, edited by Rick Riordan

I think I enjoyed this nearly as much as I enjoyed the books. I don’t know why, but I love little background bits of information. The only book in the Uglies series I own is Bogus to Bubbly, which is a background about the whole world.

Pretty much, it is the unauthorized compilation of essays by other writers who analyze the world he created. (I have no idea why it’s unauthorized, since Rick Riordan seems to have been involved in it, so it was sanctioned, I guess.) It is FASCINATING, and I would recommend you get a copy but it was Borders exclusive, so I guess sucks for you. :/

10. The Beatrice Letters, by Lemony Snicket

I got this for Christmas, and I only glanced through it, but I get the feeling I have an A Series of Unfortunate Events marathon coming my way. And I love the way Lemony Snicket writes. (Or, the guy who writes as Lemony Snicket, since he has another name too, but he likes Lemony Snicket and that’s all.) He’s so depressing, and yet so clever, and so enticing.

I look forward to the story.

Yup. That’s what’s up.

What are you looking forward to reading in the near future?