The Muse: How Shakespeare Inspired My Love of Rome (and Vice Versa)

First of all, sorry for missing the “watch this version of the play” addition for this weekend. I was… indisposed. Coriolanus really only has one easily available version, and that is the 2011 version with Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, and Vanessa Redgrave. If you can track it down, Tom Hiddleston’s version of Coriolanus is remarkable, but that’s going to involve… internet detecting. Go forth.

Anyway. On to this week and… *fanfare*… JULIUS CAESAR.

Julius Caesar is not really my favorite play. For that, I have to admit I’m something of a Hamlet fangirl, with Much Ado About Nothing as my favorite comedy and Henry V as my favorite of the histories. But, Julius Caesar occupies a very, very special place in my heart and always–always–will.

It’s the play that got me into Shakespeare. It is also the play that got me into Roman History. And, in a way, they fed into one another. A latent love for both led me to this play, which set off a life-long love bordering on obsession. If not for my very real love of having primary sources at my fingertips, I would certainly have devoted my life to the oh-so-problematic men and women who have captured my heart. Men named Scipio and Agrippa, women named Agrippina and Fulvia, Vestal Virgins and Centurions and… *sigh*

I love Rome.

But back before the passionate love of both the Bard and SPQR, I was just a little girl who loved stories. I can’t even begin to remember the first time I heard Shakespeare quoted or a Roman mentioned. Maybe it was myth–my mother loves Greek myths and, conveniently, so did the Romans–or maybe it was seeing ruins when I was two on a family visit to Turkey (my imagination has always tended to adore old things). I couldn’t tell you. But both Rome and Shakespeare were living in my head from a very young age, latent obsessions just waiting for… something to set them to growing.

Enter: Friends, Romans, Countrymen…

Yeah. That single speech. But, you know, what a speech. What a skillful manipulation, a Masterclass in politics and rhetoric and, of course, writing. Mark Antony is… glorious in that moment. And when I read it, I fell in love. With Antony (which persists to this day, despite a greater understanding of the historical figure). With Rome in general. And with the man who wrote the speech to begin with: William Shakespeare.

I don’t think I fully understood what I was reading at the time. I can’t even fully remember if I read the whole speech at once or if it was a vague series of clips that somehow coalesced into a weird… blob of adoration. But I know it was the speech. I know because I was fifteen before I read the whole play all at once (weird, I know, but it happens). Friends, Romans, Countrymen… Lend me your ears…

It’s so marvelous. Sublime, even.

That speech turned a general awareness and admiration of Shakespeare into a real love (which made me so very popular at school…). I picked up the sonnets. I learned the famous speeches. I (tried unsuccessfully) to enjoy movie versions of the plays (I was still young, and I think maybe Branagh wasn’t the easiest start). Wishbone was still much more my speed, if you want to know about how old I was when this was going on. And I started reading the Dear America books, as well as the royal princess spin-offs (the Cleopatra one left me a bit twitterpated, I tell you), which spawned not into a huge love of historical fiction (I do dabble, though) but of history. And that love, that historical crush, on Mark Antony–spawned by the speech, remember–turned into a voracious love of all things Rome.

I even took Latin in high school instead of something really useful, like Spanish. I live in South Florida, and I do not speak Spanish. Because I took Latin. Which I also do not speak.

I guess I don’t really have anything to say that this whole thing leads to. Just that this one speech in this one play led to such an important part of my life. An important part of me. And next month, when A and I go to Stratford, I will finally–finally–get to see it live. With a lady as Antony, too, so no weird transference of historical crush to actor is in danger of happening. Trust me, it’s happened before. I, like everyone else I know, watched Rome when it came out.

Anyway. This is it for me today. I’ll be back on Friday to pair the play.

C

Advertisements

Boozy Plays: Coriolanus

Hey, guys! Welcome back to the ramp-up to this year’s Stratford trip! Since Monday, we’ve decided that, yes, I would handle the first two weeks and A would take care of the second two since she’s on vacation. I’m still not sure which plays she wants to do, but I’d put serious odds on The Tempest being one of them. Your other possibilities are An Ideal Husband, The Music Man, and To Kill a Mockingbird. If we get lucky and no one takes those last two available seats for the Comedy of Errors show on the Wednesday we’re there, maybe you’ll get a write-up on that, but it’s unlikely in the extreme we’ll write about it ahead of time.

Anyway, here’s the post on the history behind Coriolanus I wrote on Monday. I put it up at a slightly odd time, so I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to experience one of my history rambles. I enjoy my history rambles. They make me happy.

But for now, let’s talk about pairing the play, which involves, as usual, talking about the plot.

Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s Roman Plays (the others being, of course, Julius CaesarAntony and Cleopatra, and Titus Andronicus) and is largely based on Plutarch and, possibly, some Livy. Shakespeare, unsurprisingly for him, took a few historical liberties with the story of Caius Marcius (most especially with the order of events), who was given the cog/agnomen of Coriolanus for his role in the battle of Corioli. Traditionally, cognomen were the third name, but even by this point early in the Republic’s history (super early, actually, as we’re within a few years of the expulsion of the last Roman king), cognomen had sometimes become family designations rather than simply valor names. So agnomen, the fourth name, was sometimes used to distinguish people if they already had a family name.

*cough* Move away from the history, C. Damn.

OK. So, basically, the play is about Caius Marcius and it’s a tragedy, so… take a guess how the play ends. In essence… Caius Marcius is a self-important man who is openly contemptuous of the people of Rome because they have not served in the military. (This is especially assholey as the average Roman wasn’t even ALLOWED to serve in the army at this point in its history. It was only later that the poorest citizens could enlist.) The people are angry because they don’t have food to eat, so… they’ve got a point, you know? Can’t be all pissy at people for not serving in the military when they can’t and spit at them for being angry that they don’t have food, which you were part of withholding because they didn’t serve in the military. (There was a grain shortage. Just for the record.)

Anyway. Caius Marcius goes off to fight a war because that’s what he does. Cominius is the consul and Caius Marcius is his deputy in battle against the Volscians. Their leader, Tullus Aufidius, considers Caius Marcius a blood enemy, having fought him many times before. During the war, C.M. lays siege to the Volscian city of Corioli and takes it, earning the name Coriolanus for his efforts. He even faces Aufidius in single combat (my GOD did the Romans love winning in single combat), though the later does survive and the Volscians are not completely defeated.

Later in Rome, Coriolanus’ mother convinces him to run for consul and he does so (reluctantly, of course), winning a great deal of support from the Senate and even from among the plebs (which just goes to show how much the Romans loved them a military hero). Two tribunes, however–Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus (why yes, he is related to the Brutus who later kills Caesar… why do you ask? This one is also a fucking traitor. He is later part of the conspiracy to put Tarquin back on the throne and his own father has him executed. SUPER ROMAN, GUYS. SUPER ROMAN. This is a good moment to remind you that reading my post from Monday will give you some idea of the nature of Roman history of this time period)–lead a conspiracy against him, causing a riot against him which drives Coriolanus to denounce the whole concept of popular rule. He’s… As much as we shouldn’t really support Sicinius and Brutus because they’re scheming politicians, they might have had a point regarding Coriolanus’… suitability to rule. Anyway, they brand him a traitor and banish him from Rome.

Guys. Coriolanus shouts that he banishes Rome from him on the way out. SUCH A PETULANT LITTLE FUCK, am I right? Ugh. There are no heroes in this damn play. Seriously. Remember, Brutus ends up conspiring to put Tarquin back on the throne. The King. But he doesn’t want Coriolanus to rule. Even with the total lack of historical, uh… surety here, that is a special sort of hypocrisy. Ugh.

I do not like the Junii Bruti, guys. I just don’t like them. I mean, the one dude was willing to execute his sons, but that’s not exactly likable. But I am way more into dudes with Scipio in their name. Africanus, Aemilianus, whatever. And dudes name Marcus Antonius. I love me some Mark Antony, I admit it. I am well aware of his more problematic issues, trust me. I also love Alexander Hamilton and he was mostly problems wrapped up in man form.

But back to the play. Coriolanus is being a drama general (no kings in Rome, remember?) and goes to Tullus Aufidius, telling him to kill him to spite Rome. (DRAMATIC LITTLE SHIT.) Aufidius is like… “dude. Have you considered fighting with us against Rome? You’re a good general, and we both TOTALLY HATE ROME.” And Coriolanus is like, “OMG, did we just become best friends?” And Aufidius is like, “YUP. you know as long as you actually fight for us and don’t betray us or anything ok right bye.” So they shake on it and Coriolanus prepares to lead a new assault on Rome.

Rome, justifiably, is a bit panicked. They gave the man a nickname, dammit! Only the ones who know what they’re doing get those! Cominius and Menenius Agrippa (OK, note on the name here. His name is actually Agrippa Menenius Lanatus. Agrippa isn’t a known cognomen for the gens Menenia. Which is why, of course, I made *my* Agrippa a Menenius since this is a fantasy world I’m writing in. But I, once again, digress. Sorry. I really love Rome.) both try to convince Coriolanus to stop this and give them back the basketball stop trying to attack Rome, but it doesn’t work, so they bring in the big guns:

MOM. (And wife and random chaste woman because, of course, chastity is a Roman virtue in their women and it’s symbolic and shit.)

And Mom, wife, and random symbol of Roman womanhood do manage to convince Coriolanus to stop being a little baby and trying to destroy Rome. He relents (“but Mom“) and instead conducts a peace treaty between Rome and the Volscians and YAY ROME IS THE WINNER. OR AT LEAST NOT DESTROYED BY THEIR OWN GENERAL. YAY.

YAY, indeed, except for Coriolanus… who is assassinated by Aufidius, who is (kinda justifiably) upset at the betrayal.

Fin.

OK. So… that’s a heavy play. Despite my attempt at humor, it really isn’t a funny play. It’s dark and heavy and tense because the story of Coriolanus (itself a reconstruction–again, read the blog from Monday) is a reflection of the turmoil Rome itself went through in these years. It wasn’t stable yet. It was barely a Republic. People forget that, because Rome went on to become ROME, it was an incredibly tense and difficult time for them and no one knew if it would survive. Enemies surrounded them (the Volscians were also Italian, mind. Hell, their capitol of Antium was no more than 40 miles away from Rome itself) and were within the walls (looking at you, Brutus Junius, and your older brother, Titus Brutus Junius, too). Coriolanus, like Rome, is unstable and at war with himself, but ultimately he is strengthened by family (and chastity, Roman virtue™) and he, like Rome, is restored. Of course, this is a tragedy so he has to die. Can’t just let him ride off into the sunset. But still… ROME.

Anyway. Gotta pair this thing now. I have selected a Syrah, preferably one from a colder region to bring out the spicier aromas and flavors. It’s an often heavy red, great with barbecue and spicy foods, and I think that feels very Roman. No Roman play should be paired with a white wine, anyway. Rome is red. Red like their cloaks and the brooms on their helmets and the blood they really liked to spill. But this play, in particular, is dark and heavy, and Coriolanus is spicy as fuck. Like, guys… he banishes Rome from himself.

So spicy.

If you purchase a Syrah made in the Australian-style, it’ll be called a Shiraz.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ve written a novel, anyway. I’ll be back either tomorrow or Sunday to talk to you about Tom Hiddleston, aka versions of this play you should try to track down if you can.

See y’all later! Valete!

C

The Fourth Annual Goodtime Bestie Theater Vacay! (aka StratFest 2018)

Heyo, everyone! Welcome to this year’s ramp-up to our annual trip to Stratford, Ontario for the Stratford Festival. For those of you new to the blog (hi!), or not necessarily new but weren’t with us last year, this is how we prepare for our theatrical experience:

Monday- Introduce a play we’ll be seeing by saying something (hopefully) interesting about it.

Friday- Pair the play.

Saturday- Suggest performances of the play that are available via streaming, Blu-Ray, etc.

Sunday- Something silly about the play. (Though this year, we might forgo this particular venture rather than scour the internet for something sillier about Coriolanus than the name of the play, aka The Anus Play.)

As A is on vacation currently (yes, both of us pretty much went on back-to-back vacations before Stratford. We are young. Who needs to save for retirement?), I’ll be starting first and–depending on her wishes–perhaps doing the first two weeks while she finishes out with the final two. I’m not sure which plays she’s elected to do (one hopes for The Tempest, at the very least), but I have claimed historian’s prerogative and selected Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. Because it’s Rome.

I love Rome.

First up, I want to do Coriolanus. And I want to talk about the historical nature of the play, such as it is. The play, like most anything Shakespeare wrote set in and around the world of the Roman Republic/Empire, is at best loosely historical (Shakespeare was a firm believer in story-first historical fiction), with Titus Andronicus being entirely fictional and Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra more clearly reflecting historical facts. Coriolanus, however, is a much more… interesting play, at least with regards to historical accuracy. This is because, while it follows the historical sources somewhat closely (i.e. Plutarch and possibly even Livy), we actually have to question the historical sources themselves.

Oh, yes. This is happening.

When people talk about the sacking of Rome, they’re usually talking about Alaric’s sack in 410AD. But the history of Rome is actually book-ended by devastating sacks about 800 years apart. The earlier sack occurred round about 390BC (this is dependent, in many ways, on which dating system was used in each source. Livy used Roman dating, Polybius used Greek, etc etc.) following the disastrous Battle of the Allia, in which the Senones (a Gallic tribe) just whupped the Roman Republic and proceeded to sack the city itself. It devastated the Romans, who if nothing else, never actually believed they would lose, and instilled a centuries-long terror of the Gauls that was only really put to rest with Julius Caesar’s victory over Vercingetorix. Someone had penetrated their walls. Someone had pillaged their city. Wounded their own sense of invulnerability (especially since they’d had to *gasp* BUY OFF the enemy to leave them alone).

More importantly, it destroyed their records. There is some debate as to whether the city itself was ever burned or destroyed (archaeological debates are the best kinds of debates, people. Everyone brings their ceremonial whip and fedora and it gets dirty), but records were absolutely lost.

Have you ever noticed how early Roman history reads more like myth than history? Romulus literally disappears in, like, a whirlwind and ascends to the heavens as a god. The next couple of kings conveniently represented the piousness and craftiness of Rome (while Romulus represents the pinnacle of Rome), then all the kings get conveniently awful so the Romans are justified in overthrowing them. Tons of battles are won by the valor of a single man. And lots of Romans conveniently mirror their Greek counterparts. Basically, it reads like a narrative constructed with a very specific theme in mind: Roman greatness.

And what does this mean for good ol’ (not-so-good) Coriolanus? It means we have to take the very sources Shakespeare used–the sources the Romans themselves constructed in the aftermath of the Gallic sack, determined to create a thematic narrative–with a hole bag full of salt. Shakespeare actually changed a relatively small amount of the sources he borrowed from (names, a couple details, a more definitive end only hinted at, etc), but he took them at face value. This is the right of any historical fiction writer, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fictional interpretation. It isn’t history. Sometimes, sources have an agenda. In this case, Rome wanted to create a through-line between its founding through to the Republic and the Gallic sack.

Funnily enough, not long after this, when the sources were much more definitive, Rome decided that they were no longer living in the ‘golden age’, when men were men and a man’s word was his bond. Rome had a relationship between martial and pious that was pretty uniquely Roman, and the parts of their history they were able to reconstruct tended to align all their heroes in perfect unity with these ideals. Coriolanus, then, is a representation of a perfect fall from grace and redemption from the ideal Roman man. He is anti-populist (at a time only shortly after Rome had shucked off the monarchical yoke) and turns against Rome due to his arrogance but is ultimately unable to let it be destroyed (conveniently through the purity of Roman women, but that’s another story for another time), like a true Roman man.

And, of course, the play is set in a time when fear of the Volscians was very, very real. They had, after all, overrun Latium and threatened Rome itself. And given Rome’s love of the single hero standing between Rome and ruin (or a single soldier charging out and, through his courage, inspiring his fellows to win battle), it only makes sense that, in the character of Coriolanus, Rome flounders but is ultimately restored to a place of strength by adhering to its core principles. (It should be said that, in the original sources, what happens to Coriolanus is completely unclear. Shakespeare found the single version that gave a definitive end since, you know, plays need endings.) It’s very, very Roman.

I love Rome.

C

The Muse: On Reading Good Writing

Hello readers! Long time no… Um… Write? I guess. Anyway, A here! I’m getting ready to head out on a two week international getaway with my main man, but I wanted to drop in and say “hey, I haven’t forgotten about you, Cactuslandia!”

I’m just busy and, frankly, a little less than motivated to write. C already covered this, but we’re up to our ears in rejections and my own writing has been stalled due to my transition to full-time work. (Yes, my metamorphosis to adulthood is almost complete. Now I just need to own a belt and sensible shoes… Oh, and buy a NEW couch for a change.)

Anyway, as much as I feel no inspiration or immediate desire to write, I’ve been continuing my push to read two books per month. Technically, I’ve been hanging out in the 1.5 books per month range, but, to be honest, I think I’d read a lot faster if more of the books I picked up were legitimately well-written. (No, this isn’t another rant about books that don’t deserve to be published… It’s more of a commentary on the written word.)

Sure, I’ve read some engaging stories in the past few months, but if the writing isn’t doing anything to propel my reading, it can take weeks for me to finish a novel. So-so writing that does the job of taking you through the plot but fails to keep you from checking how many pages you’ve got until the end of the chapter or the middle of the book or whatever just aren’t satisfying. Of course, this realization jumped out at me after picking up an article that demonstrated the power of, well, powerful writing.

Oddly enough, the article in question was in a copy of Vogue I read while getting my hair done. But it just captured me, you know? From start to finish. Granted, it was only about 5 pages, but the writing… It was really good.

You know when you get to the end of a story and go “wait, that’s all?” That’s the experience I want with every book I read, but that feeling has become more and more fleeting. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m not particularly discriminatory during the actual process of reading. If I’ve paid for the thing, I’m gonna finish reading it, dammit. Maybe not the best attitude…

So, yeah… Reading good writing is the best. It’s the cure-all for content boredom. (Oh yeah, I work in digital content now, so that’s not helping me fill my quota of good reading material by any stretch of the imagination.)

That’s all for now! I’ll be back, and since Stratford is coming up fast, C and I will begin prepping Nerd Cactus HQ for all things Stratford/Shakespeare.

Stay tuned!

-A

The Muse: Back in Internetlandia

So, I was definitely planning on doing July’s Boozy Books last week during my Canadian vacation (not the Stratford one, of course, which is next month. And we’ll be diving in to our usual preparations the week of the 13th.), but then… there was no internet. Well, there was internet, but it was so bad, it was literally worse than having absolutely no internet. Which means I’ll be moving last month’s Boozy Books to next week and pretending I didn’t miss last month.

 

Is that good for everyone?

 

Good.

 

I’m not exactly ready to write anything. Actually, I’ve been doing so well on the whole novel front, that I don’t know what to blog. I am literally one chapter away from finishing Liar, so… success! On the not-so-happy front, we’re another four rejections up and no closer to getting Mercutio out into the world. I’m beginning to get really flipping frustrated with the entire publishing world on this front. It’d be one thing if I knew the book was mediocre or lacking in some way, but this is literally because we don’t fit some preconceived notion of what the market wants. I knew it’d be difficult to get a de-romanced adult version of Romeo and Juliet through the gatekeepers, but this is really affecting my can-do attitude. And before I get a slew of ‘go indie’ or ‘self-publish’ comments, I am totally aware of my options. My expression of frustration is not, in this case, an request for advice or even sympathy, really. It’s just an expression of frustration. While I do appreciate the willingness of the writing community to reach out and help one another, I would probably end up more annoyed at having to dredge up the various explanations for our choices yet again, so… I’m just venting. It helps sometimes.

 

Anyway. We haven’t heard back from everyone in this last round of queries, so there’s still hope I won’t have to do even more research of various agents. Having basically the opposite of what most of the market seems to want right now probably isn’t helping, though. Who knew so many people didn’t like Shakespeare? What the fuck is wrong with them? Seriously. (And, again, before I get comments… I’m kidding. My own mother doesn’t much like Shakespeare and she’s a Brit Lit major.)

 

But back in the good news world. I should be ready for beta readers on Liar by the end of the year. YAY. And this book is much closer to what the industry wants, I think. Who doesn’t love Loki?

-C

The Muse! On fandom.

This past weekend, I went to Disney World. My annual passes are almost up, and given my plans for the future, it may well be years before I get back to the happiest place on Earth. (Which, given that I still have not made it on the Snow White train thing during daylight hours, might be a good thing.) It was a miserable weekend, full of rain and sauna-like conditions that left me–despite my every effort–dehydrated and blistered. On the plus side, I did manage to keep from getting sunburned. So, at least I did something right. But being there, especially at Hollywood Studios (aka Star Wars plus some other stuff Studios), reminded me of something:

Star Wars fans are literally the worst.

They have driven the actresses who play Rey and Rose off the internet. They attacked the idea of a black storm trooper. Recently, they decided that Laura Dern’s purple hair and dress were just too damn ridiculous to be worn by an Admiral even though General Leia also wore dresses and had nice hair. (These same people, it should be noted, think Admiral Akbar should’ve been the one to suicide mission the ship. I’m beginning to think Star Wars fans aren’t that aware of the world, either. A guy named Akbar suicide mission-ing anything is probably not the sort of optics Disney wants, regardless of character history.) Earlier in the franchise’s history, they almost drove the guy who played Jar-Jar to suicide and mistreated the kid who played Anakin so badly, he basically had a breakdown. (Note: this is not to say that his mental health issues were caused by the abuse. But they certainly were exacerbated by them.)

These are people who are convinced that their elaborate fantasies deserve validation and they’ll be damned if they let anything else happen. After The Last Jedi came out, there was a surge of (mostly) dudes deciding that, you know what, they’ve liked the prequels this entire time, they were just afraid of saying so. So the prequels are good but the sequels are bad because…?

These people have decided that the fans own the franchise. That their perspectives are the only valid perspectives. That their fandom is the only legitimate fandom and heaven forbid you can’t name every book in the now-not-canon EU. They talk about how Luke isn’t their Luke, whatever the fuck that means, like the character we saw in TLJ isn’t completely realistic. Think about it: the last time we saw Luke, he’d just brought down the emperor and saved his father. We’re meant to believe the empire will crumble, despite having no evidence to suggest this because, this just in, killing the emperor doesn’t dismantle the system! Anyway, it’s been almost forty years since those events happened. The emperor Luke fought so hard to stop has basically returned. And Luke, in his own mind, gave the First Order its very own Darth Vader. He drove, through his moment of doubt (which we’ve seen Luke have before, canonically), his own nephew to the dark side and to  the enemy. And not only that, but his single moment of doubt (driving that home–a SINGLE MOMENT OF DOUBT) ended up getting a whole new generation of potential Jedi killed. He let down his sister and his best friend, arguably drove them apart, and helped reignite the very entity he’d dedicated his youth to stopping. Whether or not he can be blamed for any of this–Ben Solo made his own choices, in the end, and the empire wasn’t going to just go away because the Emperor was dead–is up for debate, but the fact that he blames himself for it and goes into hiding is very much in character. Not only for Luke, but for the Jedi. And it’s not like Luke hasn’t been a melodramatic bitch from the beginning, guys.

But I take a huge digression. The point isn’t to argue that Star Wars ‘fans’ are wrong about Luke Skywalker (though they obviously are–and, though I haven’t read the ((again)) non-canonical EU books or played any of the games or anything, I have seen the movies many times and that’s enough to judge on); the point is to talk about fandom.

The fans do not own the thing they love. And, even more importantly, the thing they love does not owe them because they love it. JK Rowling didn’t owe fans a Hermione/Harry pairing (and the fans who hounded her into doubting herself and her authorial choices should be ashamed of themselves). Marvel doesn’t owe Loki fans another chance or a “more fitting” death. Star Wars doesn’t owe fans the Luke from the EU (which, for the third time, is not canon anymore). The fantasies fans create for their fan-fictions, no matter how well-thought-out or written or developed or whatever, are not canon and they do not automatically deserve recognition. In fact, fan-fiction writers should just be happy they’re allowed to write stories using someone else’s intellectual property at all.

All this being said, that doesn’t mean fandom should be without critique. There are valid critiques to be made of The Last Jedi. I don’t believe the casino scene was useless, but I do believe it was too long and messed with the pacing of the movie. Sometimes plans don’t work. Sometimes they end up not even being necessary. If the characters learn something from a plot arc, even if the plot arc (like, say, the plan to disable the tracker and whatnot) doesn’t work out, it is not a useless arc. Finn, Poe, and Rose all learned something. Finn became dedicated to the cause in a way he hadn’t been at the beginning of the movie. Poe stopped being the hotshot pilot that believed he knew best and thought fighting back was always the right move. Rose, who’d already lost enough, decided not to lose anymore. She also learned to stop worshiping people as heroes and see them as people, and maybe people she can fight among. (For the record, Finn would never have disabled that cannon. His death would have solved nothing and left the Resistance with even fewer numbers, plus taken away their man with, oh I don’t know, knowledge of how the First Order does things.) Criticize the movie all you want, but please check and see if those criticisms are born of genuine critique or whether or not a movie/book/whatever in your fandom is doing what you want.

Nothing you love is required to do what you want. It doesn’t have to follow your expectations or live up to the version you’ve created in your head. It isn’t bad because you didn’t like it, and maybe fans who find themselves complaining about SJWs or anything of the sort (like driving the sunshine from Instagram. Seriously, people. Kelly Marie Tran was human sunshine. WTF is wrong with you?!) should take a long, hard look at whether or not they’re actually a fan in the first place. Because when fans decide that they own the thing they love, they’ve become really damn toxic.

All this being said, the people at Disney loved all things Star Wars. Yes, even Solo. One of the most popular things there was a replica leather jacket worn by Han in the movie. (It was like butter, people. Butter.)

OK. I did the thing. I mused. If you’re one of those not my Luke people, just click out of the window and go about your business. We don’t want your negativity here.

C

Boozy Books June ’18: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy

Hello readers! It is I, A, queen of falling into time warps only to discover that weeks have gone by and I’m behind on my writing. Tbh, I’m also behind on my reading, which is a big part of why June’s Boozy Book selection is so late.

BUT. I have finished a book! Better yet, it was one I actually liked. See, the original plan was to pair A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, but I would be hard pressed to recommend that overwritten turd to anyone.

SO. Instead, I’ll be pairing The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: a Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs.

Now, it’s not a masterpiece. It’s not something I’ll be reading on a yearly basis. Hell, I may never pick it up again, but it was clever and held my attention. In many ways, it reminded me of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, so if you enjoyed that one as a kid, you’ll probably get your money’s worth from this one.

It’s kind of funny that I picked this one up, because I famously hate math. So a title about equations and a plot the revolves around the death of a mathematician don’t exactly inspire confidence for right brained readers like myself. Luckily, Hazel, the main character shares these traits with me, so my confusion is her confusion and vice versa.

Each chapter (some told from viewpoints other than Hazel’s) reveals a little tiny bit more about the mysterious death of Isaac Severy, but the story flows really nicely. By the time the clues start to fall into place, you’re invested in the characters and story, so it never feels like you’re being forced to follow or solve a mystery.

Hazel’s bumbling and eventual growth, her brother’s strange stakeouts, her suddenly present cousin, and her uncle’s run-ins with a P. Booth Lyons (phone booth?) all add up to a charming novel that’s perfect for lazy afternoons and pre-bedtime reading.

Now for the pairing! This one reads well with a strong hot toddy (extra lemon!). If you have any on hand, be sure to stir with a stick of cinnamon.

Happy reading!

A