lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Toilet Utopia September 12, 2017

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 12:30 pm
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If you ever have a chance to go to the Cliffs of Moher, go. I don’t care if you’re not a Harry Potter fan and don’t want to see where Voldemort hid a horcrux. The cliffs are breathtaking.

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And while you’re there, go to the bathroom.

I’m not kidding. Not only is it a trek so you should use the bathroom while you have the chance, it’s also an interesting cultural experience. You see, it’s one, large, unisex bathroom with like thirty stalls. Like Ally McBeal style.

My husband and I both had to use the bathroom, so we followed the signage and arrived at a door. We both looked around for a Men’s vs. Women’s room sign, but there just wasn’t one. And we weren’t the only confused people, mind you. There were like five of us hovering outside the door, trying to figure out who got to go in and pee.

Then men and women came out of the same bathroom, so we all went in. (more…)

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The Effing Fife August 20, 2016

I’m having problem writing a blog for you all at the moment. Mostly because I have awesome writerly news that I can’t tell you, and it’s all I can think of.

So, right.

Here’s a good story for you. The Story of the Effing Fife. My husband has an admirable life goal to learn to play as many instruments as possible. He can play the piano, the guitar, the ukulele, the mandolin, and the effing fife.

He never set out to play the fife. Never had a hankering for a fife in his life, but now he can!

We were doing a show near Gettysburg, PA, and there was a big Civil War reenactment going on. My mom was in town, and since we did a bunch of reenactments when I was growing, we decided to go. It was a fairly decent reenactment; there was singing and food, and my husband was fairly entertained for the most part. But when we started looking at the costumes and textiles, he got a little bored.

So my mom, trying to be awesome, bought my husband a fife to keep him occupied while we looked at corsets. He, being him, figured out how to play a few notes in seconds and then found an actual fife player to show him how to play them better. By the end of the day he was walking around the reenactment playing the Harry Potter theme. Yes, it was just as dorky as it sounds.

It was great for an afternoon activity, and I thought that would be the end of it. I was so, so very wrong. (more…)

 

Harry Potter and the Stolen Mountain July 2, 2016

J.K. Rowling has finally released the location of the North American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ilvermorny is located on the peak of Mount Greylock. My inner Harry Potter geek is so thrilled to finally know where the American wizards of Rowling’s world study and learn. But the author me is having a minor meltdown.

See, way back at the beginning of The Tethering Series, I knew I wanted to use a real mountain for the lair of the Pendragon, the chief evil dude in the series. After a ton of research, I chose Mount Greylock, spelling it Graylock to match the name of the clan that rules that territory. I even climbed the mountain to make sure the mountain would work well!

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After all that research, three years later J.K. Rowling added her wizarding school to the mountain. The Pendragon has new neighbors, and I’ll bet there’s a quidditch pitch.

On the one hand it’s cool that my research and Rowling’s research led us to the same mountain. Great minds think alike and all. On the other hand I’m terrified for what it might mean for the mountain. It’s not exactly a well-known or expertly trailed park. There is a monument right on top, exactly where Ilvermorny is supposed to stand, but other than that there’s not much. I don’t know if the park can handle an influx of eleven-year-olds on September 1st. People are going to get lost in the woods, and parking and peeing will be a nightmare.

On the third awkward hand that nobody likes to talk about, The Tethering Series is now doomed to be called fan fiction. Despite the copyright date inside the book, people will assume that Rowling’s magic moved to Mount Greylock first, and Amazon reviews will start coming calling The Tethering fan fiction. Being the good little author that I am, I won’t be able to respond to tell them to check the copyright date and see that the battle at Graylock with the Pendragon came before Ilvermorny was even a word.

My mom said to just think of it as J.K. Rowling writing fan fiction of my books. She liked The Tethering so much and found the scenes on Mount Graylock so inspiring she had to create a whole wizarding school based on my mountain.

I know that she probably just did the same geographical research that I did, minus the actual climbing of the mountain, and decided it was an amazing spot for magic. But as I am in the midst of a panic attack, that’s what I’ll tell myself. J.K. Rowling just created fan fiction of The Tethering Series.

 

Music and Lyrics April 2, 2016

So this crazy thing happened last year. My husband and I wrote a song.

See, the theatre company that we’ve been working for for a while is run by this awesome family. The patriarch decided he wanted to write a musical and asked the husband and me to be in it. We were both super excited. I mean, how often do you get to be in a brand new show with parts written just for you?

The patriarch/playwright said that we could help with the music, and I could play my beloved ukulele in the show. We had this conversation about fourteen minutes before the husband and I left Florida for a long road trip north.

We were listening to Harry Potter book on tape, a practice which has saved our marriage on more than one occasion, and I started daydreaming.

A ukulele song for me. I knew what my character’s story arch was, and I got a little bored hour five into the drive. So I decided to write out some lyrics. Just for fun. When it was time to switch drivers, I made my husband look at the lyrics. He’s the music guy. He can listen to a song and write out what notes he’s hearing, and he’s done orchestrations for shows before. So, he really knows what he’s doing.

I think he got a little bored in the car, because before we had made it north he had written the melody, and after an hour with my uke he had written out the chords.

We sent the song to the playwright. He liked it and asked us to write more. And before you knew it, the husband and I were a song-writing duo. (more…)

 

Chris’s Corner of Conundrums and Comprehension – Episode Three: Harry Plotholes July 13, 2015

Filed under: Chris's Corner — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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Beware: this post contains spoilers from multiple books in the Harry Potter series.

One of my absolute favorite topics of discussion amongst friends is the inconsistencies and possible alternatives to storylines such as those in Harry Potter. As you probably know, Megan and I are close to Harry Potter fanatics. We’re not completely obsessed, but we do listen to the books on audio when we drive cross-country. And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of our favorite theme park destinations. We own all of the books and the movies, too, of course. Basically, we know quite a lot about the Potterverse and love to discuss the books: our favorite moments and characters, whether or not Harry was able to thwart Voldemort near the end of book seven because he had ownership (though not possession) of all three hallows or because he himself was a horcrux, and certain plot holes that we think we caught.

One such plot hole was brought to our attention through an article on Facebook. Megan had a bit of a freak out, saying that if Rowling, who is a genius, had missed such a crucial detail, how much would she (Megan) inadvertently miss in her books? The plot hole to which I refer is this: how did the Weasley twins never once notice the name Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map sleeping next to Ronald Weasley or next to Percy Weasley before Ron had come to Hogwarts? Mind-blown! In all of the years that we had been listening to, reading, and watching the Harry Potter series, that had never once crossed our minds. (more…)

 

Chris’s Corner of Conundrums and Comprehension – Episode One: Dinner Theatre May 13, 2015

Filed under: Myths and Legends — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Welcome one and all to Chris’s Corner of Conundrums and Comprehension. This is my first of what will eventually be multiple guest posts on lifebeyondexaggeration.

Megan and I are currently working in Alaska for a dinner theatre show in which we portray actual, historical figures. Well, I portray Harry Karstens, first superintendent of Denali National Park, and Megan plays a showgirl based on real-life roadhouse showgirls who existed during the time of the gold strike on the Klondike and in Alaska.

I say all of that to say this: wouldn’t it be great if you could go to restaurants where your servers portrayed (my new favorite word apparently) characters from your favorite books/television shows? For instance, imagine a Game of Thrones-themed restaurant. Would you ever trust a beverage delivered to you by Olenna Tyrell? How long would it take to get an answer about dinner and drink specials from Hodor? (more…)

 

Let it Go (Or Etiquette is Hard) October 29, 2014

I’m an actor. I’m used to reviews. In fact, I generally don’t read them. But The Tethering recently received a review, and my husband read it to me. It wasn’t bad. On the contrary, the reader said I was a wonderful writer. But mid-patting myself on the back, the reader said that the book was a lot like Harry Potter.

I knew this was coming. Really, I did. The Tethering is about a boy. And he’s a wizard. All YA vampire books are like Twilight. All wizard books are like Harry Potter. It’s just something we have to deal with. Now, I love Harry Potter. I really do. And sure, there are a few wands in my book. But it is not Harry Potter. Now, the part of me that screams, “Do you know how much of Harry Potter is pulled from old legends? Have you heard of Merlin?!” really wanted to reply to the review. (more…)