The World Needs a TV Show Set in the Harry Potter Universe

Just picture the opening sequence: a train traveling through the picturesque landscapes of northern Britain. Enchanting music plays in the background as the actors’ and actresses’ names display on-screen. Then at the end of it all, the train arrives at its destination. Hogwarts.

Hogwarts will be the working title of the series I’m proposing here. The main setting would be Hogwarts itself, but the series could contain the perspectives of a variety of characters (besides just students) such as professors, Hogsmeade shopkeepers, etc. to broaden the possible storylines which could be explored. As this would be a television series instead of a movie series, episodic storylines would need to be able to fit into sixty to ninety-minute timeframes. Longer, overarching stories such as younger characters’ journies through their school years would span the entire season. I also believe that a Harry Potter series would be highly thematic, so the Hogwarts series I am proposing here would delve deep into modern-day issues similarly to how Star Trek often does in its many television series.

Harry Potter 3

If I were making a pilot episode for Hogwarts, I imagine it may include many of the same features of the beginning of the first Harry Potter book, The Sorceror’s (or Philosopher’s, if you prefer) Stone, and highlight things like main characters meeting each other, the initial train ride to Hogwarts, and the sorting ceremony. This pilot may also include chit-chat between professors as they prepare their courses, scenes from Hogsmeade as storeowners get ready for the busy season, and some other tidbits of news from elsewhere in the Wizarding World which could hint at some antagonistic dark forces looming around.

As the season progresses, the buildup to the finale could be filled in with all the little things which you miss from the books. How about Quidditch matches! Or perhaps more duels, romance, and trips into the Forbidden Forest? Maybe a Christmas special where the main characters run into interesting enemies during their holiday? You could even incorporate elements of the American wizarding community which is being expanded upon by the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie series; possibly an American foreign-exchange student from Ilvermorny? Really, the possibilities are endless; I’m just throwing out random ideas here.

Now the truly intriguing thing about the whole idea of a Hogwarts or Harry Potter television series is that it’s entirely possible to create. I mean, sure, JK Rowling told the Guardian in 2015 that she didn’t want to make one, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. HBO already has the rights to the post-cinema lives of the Harry Potter film series, so it would not be incredible to see them produce a Harry Potter series. We’ve already seen the spectacular work they do in shows like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. Just imagine if they put that effort and high-level production quality into a Harry Potter series. The result would be amazing. Also, besides the costume and set design, this series would not necessarily be difficult to create. At the very least, they could cast less well-known people for the main roles, and it shouldn’t make any difference as long as they are decent at acting.

The best way to make this dream a reality is to make our voices heard. I know there must be tons of Harry Potter blogs and such out there in the world. Write to them and encourage them to write up similar messages, and eventually, someone with the money and wherewithal to make this happen may take a serious look at the concept. Who knows, maybe in ten years we could see the Hogwarts Express rolling across our television screens once again.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I just finished reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, and with a major motion picture adaptation of the novel coming out early next year, I figured I’d put out a quick review. Annihilation is a book about a small team of explorer/adventurer/scientists who are sent into an abandoned coastal area known as “Area X” by the mysterious “Southern Reach” government organization. The all-female team is told that Area X is just the site of an environmental disaster that needs to be monitored, but they soon learn that the Southern Reach may not have given them the whole truth.

In my opinion, Annihilation is not a “fantasy” or “horror” or “sci-fi” novel at all. It is a psychological thriller, or perhaps a philosophical text. It is a novel that delves in what it means to live, what it means to survive, and what it means to be human. The characters are forced to make quick decisions which decide between life and death. Decisions must be made which affect the protagonist on a soulful level. Emotions run rampant throughout.

For what it’s worth, the plot of the novel is very interesting as well. I’ll refrain from giving away any spoilers, but I will say that I have not read any novel which contains a plot like this, and VanderMeer’s antagonists in this story are as well-crafted and disturbing as you would find in any great horror or crime novel.

The one thing I disliked was VanderMeer’s overuse of flashbacks. I realize that without them, perhaps some of the protagonist’s actions would be difficult to explain, yet I still feel like he could have cut back a little. In the latter half of the story, the flashbacks cut into the present-day plot at odd times and made the flow a bit choppy.

All-in-all, Annihilation is a great book. It’s even getting a movie treatment soon! 9/10.

 

Is Metal the Closest Genre of Music to Classical?

I listen to all sorts of music. When someone asks me what kind of music I like, I usually say “anything but country,” although I admit that I’ll even listen to a little bit of country sometimes in small doses. What’s really intrigued me, however, are the similarities I’ve noticed when comparing bits of music from two of my favorite genres: metal and classical.

From an onlooker’s perspective — someone who likes, say, pop and EDM — it’s probably safe to say that they’d hear me suggest this and look at me like I’m a maniac. If that’s you, well… hear me out, alright?

Traditionally, classical music has no words. One of the main ideas behind the genre is that the musical instruments are able to make beautiful sounds in a way that transcends any vocal noises. Classical music is complex, delicate, strong, and diverse. The genre is able to do so much just because of the sheer volume and variety of instruments which sit in a traditional orchestra. Violins, trumpets, cellos, oboes, and everything in between. Modern musical genres don’t tend to have many instruments in their music, and that causes songs to feel less multi-dimensional. Hip-hop can have complicated rhythms, but usually, there aren’t many more layers than vocals and an electronic beat. Country has vocals and guitars, but not necessarily anything else. Most alternative bands have a vocalist, guitarist, drummer, and maybe a bassist.

However, metal is a very diverse genre. Many metal bands have five or more members, and this tends to allow for more complex layering within the music. A typical metal band composition I’ve noticed is to have a vocalist, bassist, drummer, and two guitarists. This extra guitar layer seems to push the sound in a direction that adds a whole other dimension as the second guitar can often play a line which is harmonic to the first guitar. I’ve also seen metal bands which add atypical instruments to their lineup to achieve a unique sound. Eluveitie, for instance, employs bagpipes, a mandola, and a hurdy-gurdy in order to achieve their unique Celtic sound.

The layering really makes a huge difference, but at its core, metal music tends to be more complex than pop or normal rock. Pop tends to be a vocalist singing over a (generally) simple bass line. Alternative rock may have more complicated harmonies and melodic switch-offs between vocalist and guitar, but you don’t tend to see melodic handoffs like guitar solos or many intricate non-vocal rhythms in songs of the alternative genre. Metal, on the other hand, often has impressive drum or guitar rhythms which make songs seem like a true composition of instruments’ sounds instead of a few instruments that got thrown together to highlight a vocalist.

I’ve also found that, in addition to the songs’ levels of complexity, metal and classical are also comparable in terms of the wide variances in style. The classical genre reigned supreme for a long time, so naturally different styles evolved in the different periods like Baroque and Romantic.  In metal, the genre is split into many, many subgenres such as metalcore, power metal, nu-metal, death metal, heavy metal, etc. These subgenres allow metal to approach a selection of musical sounds; I do not feel as if any modern genre is as similar to classical in this sense.

If you’re looking for the closest genre of modern music to classical, look no further than metal. Sure the instruments are different and the intensity may not be what you’re used to, but in a musical sense, the two genres aren’t all that different.

What to do in a Deep South Snowstorm

Today, Atlanta got hit with its first snowstorm of the 2017-18 winter weather season, and the area is surprisingly getting a fair bit of snow. However, after the 2014 “Snowpocalypse” turned Metro Atlanta into the laughingstock of the nation, I think today is a good time to review just what we ought to do if there is a snowstorm here in the South.

  1. Get all of your food and milk and such in advance. This will prevent you from having to go out into the mess of traffic and slush, and it will also ensure that you have provisions for if the power goes out or you get iced-in by the storm. The South is not-at-all well-equipped to deal with winter storms, so response times on things like power outages can be quite lengthy, days even. Be prepared to camp out at home if need be.
  2. Unless you have an emergency, stay of the roads in urban and suburban areas. Maybe in rural areas where people have more off-road driving experience and the roads are less traveled it’s okay, but at least from personal experience, I know that urban roads get turned into black ice nightmares. Also, no one knows how to drive on ice or snow. Just stay off the roads.
  3. If you do happen to find yourself on the roads, drive slowly. Here in Atlanta especially, drivers tend to drive stupidly fast. The snow seems to have some effect on speeds, but y’all really need to slow down or you’ll end up as another one of those idiots who slides into a ditch. Also, even if the snow is insane and traffic is just barely crawling, DO NOT ABANDON YOUR CAR ON THE INTERSTATE. You’d think this would be self-explanatory, but during the 2014 Snowpocalypse, a great number of cars ran out of gas in the middle of the highway and were just left there. If you’re running out of gas (speaking of which, fuel up your car if you know there is a storm coming), pull over to the shoulder so that you don’t impede the traffic flow on the entire highway.
  4. Invest in gloves. This may sound a bit odd to folks living in colder areas, but many Southerners don’t own winter gloves. When it snows (and this may also sound odd to Northerners), Southerners of all ages tend to get filled with unparalleled excitement and want to go play in the snow, only to discover that they don’t own gloves. Get some mitts!
  5. Enjoy yourself. Relative to the rest of the country where snow is a common occurrence, snow is extremely rare in the South. Get out there and play in it! Or just stay inside and sip hot chocolate while watching it fall. Either way, you may as well cherish the snow while it’s here; it may be awhile before you see it again.

Chess is a Game That Everyone Should Learn How to Play

Chess is one of those games that no one really plays all that much anymore, but many people know how to play. The game of chess is over a thousand years old, and it still has a very sizable player base. There are also professional chess competitions. The person widely regarded as the world’s best player is the 26-year old Norwegian grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen. His net worth is estimated at $8 million.

A strategy game through-and-through, chess pits players’ analytical skills against each other. It’s a great game to play at the park or just inside with a friend on a rainy day. There are also a number of good resources to learn chess and play against people online. I personally use Chess.com’s app, and it’s good because it has a variety of different modes to pit you against opponents of a similar skill level.

The best way to learn, however, is probably to watch videos online or watch someone in-person and have them teach the game to you. Chess.com also has resources to teach you all of the basics if you want to know how to make basic moves, set up the board, etc.

Chess is one of those games that can bring people together. It has a long, rich history. It helps your brain get some needed exercise in a fun way. Learn how to play, and go to the park and find yourself an opponent next time you’re bored. You’ll enjoy it.

The Great American Burger Debate: Which is Better, Five Guys or In-N-Out?

As a native to Georgia where we have no In-N-Outs nearby, Five Guys is everybody’s go-to burger place. They’re everywhere around here, and their burgers are near-universally accepted to be the best out of all the common fast food places. However, during my travels out west, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had In-N-Out a dozen or so times over the years. With the great debate raging on between Five Guys’ fans and In-N-Out loyalists, I feel qualified to throw my two cents out.

There are two main problems with the In-N-Out versus Five Guys debate: 1) most East Coasters have never had In-N-Out, so they just scoff at the idea that it could be better than Five Guys and 2) the two burgers are vastly different from each other.

An In-N-Out burger is characterized by the “spread” a condiment which is derived from thousand island dressing, giving the burgers a unique taste. In-N-Out also uses very fresh lettuce and tomatoes. A typical In-N-Out burger, the double double, can be seen here. Burgers and fries can also be ordered “animal style” which adds an extra portion of spread as well as grilled onions.

Five Guys is a bit different. Their burgers are a bit cruder than In-N-Out’s, but they taste pretty dang good. Like In-N-Out, Five Guys’ burgers have the traditional toppings of onions, tomato, and lettuce, but they lack the x-factor of a defining topping like “spread”. However, Five Guys does give customers (literally) an entire bag of fries when you order fries, and they serve peanuts in their restaurants if you eat in. Have you ever ordered fries and seen them just plop a fries container in the bottom of the bag then scoop fries all over? A greasy bag of Five Guys’ fries is a good time.

But which is better? Sorry to all my fellow southern folks, but I’m going to have to side with In-N-Out on this one. The spread is really what puts them over the edge for me. It gives their burgers an extremely unique flavor and blends well with the freshness of the burger patties. In-N-Out also seems to use fresher lettuce and tomatoes than Five Guys, and they don’t get as soggy and saturated with grease as Five Guys’ toppings.

So yes, In-N-Out is better. Five Guys isn’t bad by any metric, but it doesn’t have enough uniqueness to make it superior to its West Coast counterpart.

People Don’t Seem to Want to Read As Much in 2017 

Hey y’all, AtlantanKnight here.

I just want to take a minute to talk about a startling and disturbing trend I’ve been noticing: people my age (college age) don’t seem to want to read anymore. 

Maybe it’s the distractions? There’s so much to do everywhere now. Mankind has the world at its fingertips, and so many people seem to be shying away from the physical entertainment of literature in favor of Netflix. Why read A Song of Ice and Fire when you could just watch Game of Thrones instead? Most people probably don’t even know the name of the book series! Perhaps that’s not the best example I could have used since admittedly I’ve watched a few GoT episodes and never opened the books, but you see the point.

I’ve seen people ridiculed (myself included) by likewise intelligent individuals because of recreational reading. To me, that’s just abhorrent. Here we are, living in a world where it is apparently so unacceptable for people to want to read that, indeed, criticizing the more literate members of society has become accepted! 

The anti-intellectualist culture in America (and likely the world is growing). The signs are everywhere; this new wave of anti-reading culture amongst young adults is just one of many. We need to find solutions fast and create an intellectual counterculture before the entire country goes the way of perpetual 2016 elections and increasingly illiterate idiocracy. 

The World Needs Classical Music to Make a Resurgence 

Nowadays, what do you hear when you turn on the radio? Kesha? Paramore? The Chainsmokers? No offense to them (I like all three), but that’s not really the best music for us to be listening to. Not from the perspective of their usual song messages or the physical sounds that come with their music.

Now… have you ever heard Beethoven on the radio? Mozart? What about Dvořák? I’ve never heard classical music being played on any of my travels throughout the United States. I’m sure there are some radio stations out there that play it, and I am well aware that this nation still has many fine orchestras, but their fans are few and far between. The entire genre of classical music–at least in the United States, but presumably elsewhere as well–is in the shadows.

So why do we need classical music? Why now? Just take a look around. More people live in cities now than ever before, and it feels like we’re all just bustling about all of the time. More and more people seem to be feeling increasingly stressed. With wars looming abroad and the conclusion of a tumultuous election just-finished here at home, we could all use something to destress.

Classical music is certainly not a solution, but it could definitely help. Studies have shown that listening to classical music has a number of benefits, including:

  • enhanced learning capabilities
  • easing of sleep ailments
  • stress reduction

Listening to classical music offers benefits to physical health that are not present amongst other forms of music.

Another thing to consider is how classical music can bring people together through language. The world is a big place, and it has thousands of extant languages. Music from one culture may be lost in translation by another culture. However, since it has no words, classical music can beautifully share melodies from culture to culture without any language barriers. The language of music, pure classical music, is a language which we could all grow to love just like people did a hundred years ago.

Food Review: Faygo Vanilla Creme Soda

Another short little food review (I know, I know. The “Culture” category is basically just food. Whatever. We’ll keep calling it culture). 

Faygo’s Vanilla Creme soda was actually the first cream sofa I’ve had in recent memory, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve got a taste for sodas in glass bottles, honestly. That’s the real reason I decided to buy it, besides the fact that I’d not tried it before.

There’s not really much I can say, but, well, it was very creamy. Actually it didn’t taste much like a soda to me it all; the Faygo was more like a very intensely vanilla-tasting syrup. Imagine the flavor intensity of fresh citrus fruits, yet with a vanilla taste rather than citrus. That’s what Faygo is like. It’s really quite pleasant, but while I would recommend it, I must admit that the sugar content is quite high. Treat yourself with the vanilla cream soda if you’d like; just don’t overindulge.

Rating: 7.0/10

Food Review: Häagen-Dazs’ Cookies ‘n’ Cream Milkshake

I know my first food review was also a milkshake, but, well… I just really love milkshakes. I also really love cookies ‘n’ cream, so this was a match made in heaven.

On my first trip to see the Atlanta Braves at their new home of SunTrust Park, I had a fair bit of free time before the gates opened. When I stumbled upon a Häagen-Dazs shop in the Battery (a small shopping district surrounding the ballpark), I just had to get something.

The Cookies ‘n’ Cream milkshake is just what it claims to be. I watched the employees scoop cookies ‘n’ cream milkshake straight out of the bucket and into the milkshake mixer-shaker thing. I was given an option to have whipped cream or not, and of course I opted for the whipped cream. A cookie crumb garnish was then placed to top it all off.

I loved it! The ice cream could have had more cookie chunks in it, probably, but overall it was a very enjoyable milkshake. Häagen-Dazs’ ice cream has a very rich taste, and the whipped cream actually offered a light, fluffy alternative to that taste. I think the whole milkshake had the proper blend of flavors, and its richness caused it to last surprisingly long. Go try one if you ever find yourself near a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop!

Rating: 9/10