Top Ten Favorite Secondary Characters

Yoinked from: http://hardcoversandheroines.com/2013/08/26/top-ten-favorite-secondary-characters/

 

1. Will from “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman  (I say anyone not in all books of a series can be considered secondary, if you’re wondering.)

2. Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman (This one’s a little iffy, as it’s really an ensemble cast, but…dammit, I love him and I am taking this chance to declare it!)

3. Rob Anybody from the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett.

4. Maddie from “Fever” by Lauren DeStefano (She is by far my favorite character overall.  I desperately want her to wind up in charge of everything.  This is my head-cannon.)

5. Thorin from “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkein (The primary reason why I detest the old cartoon version is their horrid characterization of Thorin.)

6. The Jester from “King Lear” by Shakespeare (He has, by far, the best and most brilliant insults of all the bard’s works.  And THAT, my friends, is saying something!)

7. The Persian from “Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux (WHY does he not show up in more movie versions??  He is wonderful!)

8. Puddleglum from “Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis (You TELL that witch, you beautiful pessimist!)

9. Calcifer from “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones (I want him to run my house!)

10. Gollum in everything by J.R.R. Tolkein (I know I already did something from “Hobbit”, but this counts as separate since it covers “Lord of the Rings,” too.  The sneaky creature stole my love from “Riddles in the Dark”.)

 

Who are yours?

Lords of the Rings AND Other Things

In a recent birthday discussion about activities with the Lord of the Rings cast, in literary figures and then in actors, several things became clear.

1. If a magic school the equivalent of Hogwarts began in Middle Earth, its founders would be:

-Elrond for Ravenclaw

-Boromir for Gryffindor

-Samwise for Hufflepuff

-Saruman for Slytherin

2. When visiting a haunted house with a LOTR character, you should take Aragorn.  He’d totally have your back.

3. When on a whale-watching boat, the person to hang out with is Sean Bean.  He has the ability to engage in and enjoy shipboard merriment while simultaneously being aware of the environment and on alert for sightings, even if the other passengers include pranksters.

4. If one had to babysit with someone that someone should be Elrond or Hugo Weaving-can you see the expression on his face when they overhear things he hadn’t wished them to or started running the wrong way?

5. If one of the cast had to be your wedding planner, it should be Andy Serkis.  He’s got directing experience and the ability to make incredibly stressful, going-wrong things laughable.  If it had to be a character, your wedding planner is Faramir. 

6. If one of the cast were to give the first speech at your wedding, it should be Boromir.  He gives short, sweet speeches and appreciates the real life of the party.  Moreover, he’s good at directing everyone else to partake more in the merriment.

7. If one of the cast were stalking you, it should be Billy Boyd.  If one must have a stalker they should be a soulful Scottish singer.

8. The funniest charades partner would be Dominic Monaghan.

 

Other things have candidates.  For instance

-When going to a haunted house  with the actors, would it be more fun to go with Elijah Wood (reassuringly goofy, but into it) or Liv Tyler (loving the fear, but reassuringly on the brink of laughter)?

-Would the best character stalker be Pippin (hilarious and bearing food) or Legolas (most soothing stalker ever and pretty)?

-Would you rather play charades with Haldir (swishy, painstaking, and interpretive dancey) or Legolas (earnest, stiff, and hilariously helpless at guessing)?

-Who would you most like to maintain an allegedly fancy garden with?  Ian McKellan (“Good work, now let’s knock off and have some iced beverages in our hats”) or Liv Tyler (“All paths lead to beautiful”)?  In characters, would you partner with Elrond (who guarantees both serene learning and a flourishing garden) or Samwise Gamgee (who guarantees growing things and agreement to your plans)?

-Who’d make the best college roommate?  Frodo (quiet, reader, good for dancing at parties and rooting-for-you advice on crushes) or Faramir (quiet, reader, good for hiking and giving perspective on parental issues)?  Or acting-wise, Ian McKellan  or Liv Tyler?

-Who would you like to host a dinner party with?  Gimli (most enthusiastic foodie, good for rousing the carousing) or Bilbo (best thinker of food choices and used to putting up with the worst of manners)?  Ian McKellan or Elijah Wood?

-Would your favorite Middle Earth designer (if all of them became adept for an epic designing show) be Faramir (Symbols, shininess, whites, and blues) or Eomer (Soft cloth, warmth, golds, and burgundies)?

-Who would you most like to bake cupcakes with?  Theoden (coziness, inept comedy, and victory announcements) or Samwise (earnest, peaceful, and up for most of the work)? Or Elijah Wood (goofy, messy, and everything-licking good) or Liv Tyler (calm, sweet partier)?

-Who would you like to ride a roller coaster by?  Galadriel (twinkle-in-her-eye) or Faramir (the light on the horizon is EVERYWHERE)? 

-Who would you most like to read your tarot cards?  Galadriel “(I see things that are, things that were, and some things that have not yet come to pass”) or Bilbo (“This is the most fascinating thing I learned from the elves, let me ponder, hmm”)?  Or Hugo Weaving or Sala?

-Whose self-help book would you most like to read?  Faramir’s “Resisting Rings to find Happiness” or Theodon’s “Getting out of the Ring in your Head”?

 

Feel free to weigh in with votes, other options, or more questions! 

(For example, ones with too many candidates to put here were With whom would you visit the zoo?  Who’d be the best partner in a non-dangerous but tricksy maze?  And so on!)

Colossus: Stone and Steel-Quarrying Queries

In my review of David Blixt’s Colossus: Stone and Steel here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/colossus-stone-and-steel/ I say that it “invites intellectual debate.”  Now I’m going to follow through on that by going through the cumbersome quarries of material within this book to chisel out some interesting queries.  (I’m sorry, I had to.)

 

I present to you, Colossus: Stone and Steel Discussion Questions! 

(Expect spoilers).

1. The question of Florus’s wife Cleopatra bothers me.  As the property of Florus, at the time of this novel it would’ve been seen as fitting that she share her husband’s fate.  Undoubtedly, as his wife, she shared in the spoils of his greed and mistreatment of the Judeans.  On the other hand, can any of the blame really fall on her?  The descriptions and inner thoughts of Florus hardly include Cleopatra, let alone giving any hint that he would have behaved differently if she wasn’t there.  None of the victims mention Cleopatra as having done anything offensive on her own.  Even Berenice speaks only of Florus, and surely she would have mentioned Cleopatra by name if this wife had also slighted her.  True, Cleopatra’s personality isn’t stellar-she’s obnoxious and selfish.  Still, is that any reason for her to share the tortuous end of Florus?  Shouldn’t someone have at least thought that Cleopatra might deserve a separate fate?

 

2. Speaking of Cleopatra, is there any way in which this portrayal of Queen Berenice is not reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra?

 

3. Colossus: Stone and Steel frequently refers to the worth of blood and ancestors.  One of the first ways this is set up is in the contrast between the businesses of Judah and Phannius.  While it’s natural to resent such differences now, particularly from the view of non-aristocrats like Judah, can all the blame really always be laid at the door of the “superior-blooded”?  Phannius is constantly described as a ‘lout’, largely because he doesn’t seem to work as hard to Judah and Asher.  He’s even indiscriminately punched in the face by Judah, for no immediate reason, only latent resentments against decisions that are not all, or even mostly, Phannius’ fault, but his mother’s.  Is it any easier for those on the upper side of the scale to overlook such attitudes concerning them?  Should it be?

-On that note, does the fact that Vespasian and Titus are allowed to flourish according to their military prowess in Rome, in spite of their lack of famous ancestors, demonstrate that Roman laws are more progressive than Judea’s?

 

4. Omens appear frequently in this book.  However, whereas Judean omens seem to derive from different interpretations of the same original texts or themes, Roman omens seem to leave more room for individuality.  Titus feels blessed because of something that happened when he was vowing over the Fifteenth’s eagle.  The eagle itself is an established historical symbol, but the wind event derives from the immediate stimulus of visual impact and shared feeling.  Titus does not need to recite other times this same event happened to other people to ensure its validity.    It is valid because he was there and it seemed propitious to those who saw it.  Nor does he need to become anything other than what he is.  Unlike Yosef, who tries to become the mahsiah, Titus’ omen is not so much about his place in society as about external events he will take part in.  Similarly, whereas Yosef’s new interpretation of Hebrew prophesies centers on Vespasian becoming an archetype in relation to others, the Roman prophesy about Vespasian’s family winning the war is purely about outside outside happenings.

-Are omens more powerful as foretellers of events or as declarations of a person’s destined place in the world?  Or more dangerous?  Titus and Vespasian may be less encumbered with deep thoughts about prophesies, but is that good or bad?  Is Yosef’s spiritual journey less genuine because it’s always tied to omens he wants to work himself into?  Or is that responsible for Yosef’s great power to adapt and therefore possibly a positive thing?

 

5. Sex appears over and over again as an underlying theme.  Yet, this too is represented very differently for the Romans and the Hebrews.  The potential for sex appears as something negative whenever the Judeans encounter it: the potential for shame if Judah and Deborah engage in it, the sexual threats to Perel, Edith, and Asher, derogatory comments about Queen Berenice, and the lesson that sexual activity removes the Lord’s presence.  On the other hand, sex is used to bolster the Roman egos-they will win the war like a seducer winning a fuck, they revel in the phallic nature of their weapons, individual men gain strength from their sexual partners.  What does this say about these culture’s views on sex?  Aside from that, which of these sexual attitudes is shown to lead to the healthiest attitudes about women?  Or is it all just foreshadowing of what side will win and which will be violated, and each character should be viewed as creating their own views on sexuality and women?

 

6. Was anyone else’s favorite scene Yosef’s mathematicide?  It was delightful in its inevitability, understated intensity, and flow!  What are some other favorite scenes and why?

 

7. The question of performance versus intention comes up a lot.  Is Deborah really who she seems to be around Judah, if she has to try to act this way?  Is Yosef really brave when fighting if he does it for the sake of those watching instead?  Are Judah and Asher really heroic for firing Roman weaponry, or is their deed tarnished by their desire to be seen as heroes like Atlas?

-Is the real difference between Yosef’s fighting and the twins’ that the twins were willing to die?  Yosef certainly believed he might die.  Was the difference that the twins truly believed it was worth it, while Yosef thought it was madness?  In that case, many of the zelotes’ deeds become noble because their doers truly thought they were needed.  Was it that Asher and Judah performed their fighting for the present moment, whereas Yosef is always thinking ahead?  If so, a lot of us are in trouble because it’s deemed wise and necessary to look ahead.  Is the difference that Asher and Judah respected the people who were watching them, while Yosef did not?

 

8. The question of whether death is greater than life offers a rich quarry, indeed.  Many people are remembered more for how they died than how they lived, the Romans believed that to die with honor was worth more than anything, is immortality granted by the living or by gods?  The side issue of whether suicide or homicide is better also plays a large role.  Is the willingness to die for a cause greater than themselves the true measure of honor?  Or is dying to prove something about yourself equally noble?  Or is either reason simply misguided?

 

9. Yosef gets a lot of flack for continually manipulating everything to try and prove who he thinks he should be.  Most notably, he kills people off to ensure he will live because he believes he’s a person who must.  However, Judah commits very similar acts.  Judah believes that his purpose in life is to be a warrior-that is who he is, the same way Yosef believes he’s a great priest.  Several times, Judah is willing to sacrifice everything and everyone else to partake in the feelings and actions of a warrior.  He rushes out of the shield wall, he wants to stay and die fighting, even if it dooms his twin and his friends, because a warrior’s who he believes he’s meant to be.  Does the fact that Judah is killing Romans instead of Judeans really excuse him from the same personality flaws as Yosef?  Judah’s actions are a more emotional response while Yosef’s are planned, but does that make them different?  Yosef’s belief can be as genuine as Judah’s and Judah’s lack of concern for others when opposed to his personal self-purpose is arguably equal to Yosef’s.  Is it just the end goal of dying (as a warrior) versus living (as a leader) that makes us more sympathetic to Judah?  If so, what does that say about current beliefs about death being greater than life?

 

10. Who betrayed Jotapata?  (Personally, I think the clues are quite clear, but it seems a fitting question to end on.)

 

 

Family, film, and flippancy!

Today I got to introduce my seven-year-old niece to Aladdin!  My niece had some insights:

1. First impression: “Who’s singing?” Me-“The man on the camel.”  Niece-“But what’s his name?…He’s tiny.”

2. “It takes Jasmine an hour every day to brush her hair.”

3. You should feel sorry for Jasmine when she thinks Aladdin got beheaded.  (Movie Jasmine: “It’s all my fault, Rajah.  I didn’t even know his name!” Niece: “His name’s Aladdin, princess!”

4. On Jafar: “He’s using hypnotism!” Also, “He’s calling him “Abooboo” on purpose!”

5. The genie is “hilarious.”

6. After that most romantic of songs, “A Whole New World”, “I wish I could’ve seen that Chinese dragon up closer.”

 

As this was officially a Movie Date and my sister gave us permission to watch two films, Aladdin was followed by The Swan Princess, which the niece had seen before.  I think it just made her think about it more.  Also, it made her helpful.  She explained several things to me.  She informed me that Derek was sad because he wanted to marry Odette, that King William’s not really there during his voiceover, Derek’s just remembering, and other helpful tips.

 

1. Odette introducing Puffin: “I’m Odette, princess Odette.  And these are my two best friends in the whole world-Jean-Bob and Mr. Trudgealong.” Niece: “No-your best friend should be Prince Derek!”

2. Question: When Odette’s flying to find Derek as a swan, why does she whisper “Derek” when she sees him instead of saying it aloud?  My answer was that humans can’t understand her when she’s a swan and she didn’t want to startle him.  Any thoughts?

3. Question: Is that hag character Rothbart’s “true daughter”?  I said no, it was just his assistant, who I think joined him because she had a crush on him before she met Chamberlain.  There is debate about the crush-any votes?

4. Question: Can the hag character talk?  I said that I thought she could, but refrained herself to noises because that’s what Rothbart preferred.  After a particularly emphatic noise at the end of the movie my niece also decided that the hag probably could talk.  Yes?

5. Odette: “I’ll never give you my father’s kingdom!” Me: “Actually, her father’s dead, so she shouldn’t call it ‘her father’s kingdom’.  It’s really all hers!”  Niece: “But she should still call it ‘her father’s kingdom’ because she’s not married, so she can’t be the queen yet.”  I’m not sure if I should be glad the niece is brilliant enough to pick up on this medieval idea or be alarmed that she sees this so clearly.

6. Rothbart: “You’ve forgotten one very important thing.  Tomorrow there is no moon!” Niece: “How can she know the weather!?”

 

So, in short: I should watch more things with the niece.  She won’t let you get confused on the one hand, and on the other she comes up with good questions.  Hurrah!