#keepthesecrets: my spoiler-free thoughts on cursed child

Did I put on my Hufflepuff socks for the sole purpose of writing this post? Yes. Yes, I did. Badger pride, y’all.


I have never in my life been more nervous to read a book.

With all the mixed reviews (and my own cousin’s vehement vitriol), my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sat on my kitchen table for nearly two weeks before I finally cracked the cover. And I…enjoyed it. Quite a bit, actually.

Note: J.K. Rowling asked us to #keepthesecrets, so my plan is to be as unspoilery as possible in this post. However, your definition of a spoiler may be different (i.e. stricter) than mine. So if you’re trying to avoid even the slightest hints of spoilers, I suggest you stop reading now.

The first thing about this book is that it’s not a book. It’s a script. That means that we are not getting the full texture of the story on the page. We can’t. That’s not the intention of a script. So while some characterization read flat in places, it allowed me the freedom to imagine how it is taking place on stage, the same way the actors playing these roles in London got to, the same way the actors who eventually play these roles on Broadway will get to, the same way any actors get to who perform this piece in the future. That the beauty of a script. And while it takes a bit of getting used to, I truly liked it.

And actually, for a script, it’s still pretty detailed in regards to the atmosphere. There were stage directions and descriptions of scenery that made my breath catch. While I won’t say I felt as connected to the wizarding world as I did reading the novels, if that experience was a 10m Olympic platform dive, then reading Cursed Child was a diving board cannonball at your neighborhood pool. One definitively has more oomph, but they both get you fully into the appropriate setting.

And as for the plot itself?

It was fun. It was fun to read, fun to react to, fun to analyze. The new characters, especially Scorpius Malfoy, are interesting and engaging to read (Scorpius’ inclusion is not a spoiler, as he has been heavily featured in the theatre promos). I also really appreciated exploring the evolution of relationships previously established in the novels. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly enjoyable.

Yeah, it’s a bit trope-y, a bit fan fiction-esque. I wrote some cheesy HP fan fic myself back in the day (shout out to 2007-09), and between the six unfinished pieces still kicking around on my laptop (no, you can’t read them), I hit three solid plot pieces of this story.

But to be honest, the sheer volume of HP fic that has been written, plus the hours and hours that so many fans have spent reading and analyzing that fic, means that nothing Rowling published about life beyond Deathly Hallows was going to read as truly original. We precluded that end many years ago.

This does bring up the argument “Well, should this have been published at all if it was just going to come off as derivative? Why not just…not?” I understand this line of thought, but I also know that, as a creator, it’s hard to keep something you’re intensely excited about to yourself. I honestly don’t think that Rowling did this just as a money grab. I truly believe that this story was something that, having formed in her mind, she had to share. I may be wrong, but that’s my feelings on it.

There’s a reason Rowling presented this story as a stage play. It’s not quite narratively rich enough for a novel, but it’s got a beautiful intimacy that translates perfectly on stage, aided by some stupendous special effects. The story is allowed to thrive in its smaller nature, to flit between character viewpoints with an ease not given as freely to novels.

Part of me wishes the script weren’t published, that we could all experience the story on stage as Rowling intended. But I’m also truly grateful that there is recognition of the unfortunate inaccessibility of live theatre and that the script was published to help ease that.

I read the script in under 24 hours. I experienced moments of sadness, moments of shock, moments of wonder. I laughed, I gasped, and I shed a tear or two. I was genuinely hooked into the story (seriously, I almost fell off the treadmill while reading).

So, no, this script is likely not going to live on as high a pedestal as the seven novels. There are some plot holes that still confuse me. But it has merit and weight of its own to contribute, and it allowed me to take one more deep, Rowling-given dive into a world I love so dearly.

To be honest, that alone is worth it for me.


on tuesdays we play trivia

On Tuesdays, we play trivia.

“We” is Parkside and Recreation, a somewhat fluid group of Samford post-grads who attempt to answer questions about movies we’ve never seen and music we’ve never heard.

Occasionally we get questions about pandas. We do really well on panda questions.

Parkside and Recreation has never won. We came in third a couple of times, but we’ve also come in dead last twice.

When you come in last at Trivia Tuesday, you get to pick a category for the next week. Our two choices: Harry Potter wandlore and How I Met Your Mother.

We did really well on those categories, as well.

Every week there is a music round, featuring 10 songs that share some common thread. Parkside and Recreation hates the music round. We are too young for the trivia curator’s taste in music and keep crossing our fingers for the day when the common theme will be “show tunes.”

There is a burger sold at the Trivia Tuesday establishment, and one has graced our group’s table every week for the last month. While I have never had it, the speed with which it disappears clearly speaks to its magnificence. I believe bacon jam is involved?

We have a group message thread for Trivia Tuesday. I believe this is what makes it an official “thing.”

We fit in general life updates between rounds. Some of us don’t see each other except at Trivia Tuesday. It’s our chance to play catch-up.

On Tuesdays, we play trivia. And Tuesday is now my favorite night of the week.

that on-stage itch

This past Monday, I got the chance through an #InstaMeet to explore the the Lyric and Alabama theaters in downtown Birmingham. The Lyric, which hasn’t been operational in quite a while, is currently undergoing massive renovations to revive the landmark, so it was pretty cool to be able to wander around the various parts of the building and get a glimpse of the old grandeur of the place (albeit, a rather dusty glimpse).

The Alabama, on the other hand, has been thriving since 1927, hosting concerts, movies, ballets and more through the years. I had been to see a few movies there before, but Monday was the first time I was able to explore the on- and backstage areas.

As I walked onto the stage to gaze out upon the sea of plush seats, a lump rose in my throat and I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks. I’m pretty sure no one saw it, thankfully, but it did happen.

I miss performing, you guys. It was my lifeblood for so many years, basically from birth until high school graduation. I was in One-Act Play, the spring musical, church children’s musicals, the praise team…whatever I could get my hands on. But then came college, and it all just stopped. And now I’m really beginning to feel the effects of it.

It’s not that there weren’t any opportunities for me in college; in fact, there were plenty. And I participated in a few, but nothing that really gave me an audience. Step Sing was the closest I got, and it’s definitely one of the reasons I became such a Step Sing fanatic. I was always too nervous and scared to try out for even the smallest School of the Arts productions, so I just kind of let it slide and satisfied myself with being a regular audience member. There’s too much other stuff in my life going on, I told myself. I don’t need to add a rehearsal schedule on top of it.

But that itch to be on stage, to sing and act and perform, it never left me. And it’s been resurfacing more and more often in the year-ish since I graduated.

Hence, the tears on the stage of the Alabama.

There’s a very special brand of joy I feel when I’m performing, and I’m verging-on-desperate to recapture it.

All this to say, if anyone in the Birmingham area knows of any opportunities for amateur actors/singers or any opportunities to work with children’s theater, please do let me know. I’ll be incredibly grateful.

Thanks, guys.


in which jackie is on the world cup bandwagon

I am not a fan of soccer/fútbol. I know very little beyond the basics, and I probably couldn’t give you the names of five U.S. teams without the help of Google (just tried it, just totally failed). My heart belongs to good ol’ American football, and I doubt anything will ever take its place.

But what I have discovered quite recently is that I have a major love for the FIFA World Cup.

Yeah, yeah. I know you’re going to call me a bandwagon-er (is that even a world?), but I don’t care. I ❤ the World Cup, and you all can just deal with it.

Okay, story time: In June 2010, I went to Madrid to finish up my Spanish credits. Also in June 2010, Spain’s national team was competing in the World Cup in South Africa (vuvuzelas, anyone?). This meant that, no matter where I went for my five weeks in beautiful España, I was guaranteed to see/hear an absolute gush of national pride for La Furia Roja.

It was pretty infectious, to say the least. Even though I cared next to nothing for the game, I found myself smiling and cheering and feeling a small swell pride for the country I called home for a month (my roommate and I even bought jerseys). How incredible to be in a fútbol-adoring country while their national team is being dominant on a international stage! It still makes me grin four years later.

I came home totally in love with the country of Spain, completely jealous of my classmates who were still there, and entirely desperate to hold on to the last bits of my Spanish experience. So I put on my jersey, grabbed my Principe cookies and Spanish Fanta (which is loads better than American Fanta), and watched those last Spain games of the 2010 World Cup like it was my job. I cheered so loudly when they beat the Netherlands in the finals that I’m pretty sure I scared my parents.

Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja!
Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja! And let’s pretend they didn’t royally screw up this year. *facepalm*

[Cut to 4 years later]

I didn’t set out to have the same passion for the World Cup this year as I did in 2010. I mean, I had only been interested in Spain’s games then, and nothing seemed to be drawing me to even watch the games this year.

Maybe it was the bandwagon effect, maybe it was friends wanting to mooch off our cable, or maybe it was just needing to understand my Twitter feed, but I have been completely sucked in to this year’s World Cup. At first it was just the U.S. games, but now I find myself needing to keep up to date on all the games and scores (I can probably also blame my FOMO tendencies). I’ve been more attached to my SportsCenter app this month than I am even during college football season, and that’s saying something, you guys.
Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn't get the memo.
Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn’t get the memo.
Most of all, I’ve loved figuring out different aspects of the game that I didn’t realize before. I’ve loved getting to know the players and some of their stories (#TimHowardAmericanHero). I’ve loved researching past World Cups and how they’re formatted and how exactly the Group Round scoring system works. It’s just been really fun simply to watch and learn and enjoy the atmosphere of the sport and its fans, even if it’s mainly through Twitter.
I love the World Cup. I love how it brings people together in national pride and how passionate and dramatic people get. It’s incredible. And I’m so grateful there was room on the bandwagon for me.
(Also, I’m categorizing this in “football” because it still totally applies. Deal with it.)

the mountains rise: a camp crestridge story

People who hear me talk about Camp Crestridge for Girls often think I was there much longer than I was. That I grew up attending as a camper and later came back as a staff member. But they happen to be wrong.

I spent exactly two summers in Ridgecrest, North Carolina: the summer of 2011 and the summer of 2012. In lieu of getting “real” summer jobs or journalism internships, I instead tramped around a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains in shorts and t-shirts for three months at a time, often sticky with sweat, with either a video camera or DSLR in hand. I gave up cute sandals for dusty Chacos, air conditioning for the labored whir of Wal-Mart bedside fans, and peaceful meals for the squeals and screams of 250 girls (aged 7-16) grabbing for more chicken tenders and juice.

They were, to put it simply, the best two summers of my life.


My first summer began plagued with doubts: I’m not good enough for this videography job. I’m not an camp/outdoorsy person at all. What the heck am I doing here? GET ME OFF THIS MOUNTAIN! I was convinced the camp had been crazy to hire me.

But God quickly ushered staffers and campers into my life who continually poured joy and affirmation over me. The videography job was not easy– stress and frustration were pretty constant friends– yet there was always someone there to lend a hug, a prayer, or that last hoarded package of peanut butter M&Ms. I can quite honestly say that I have never felt more blessed than I did through those relationships my first CC4G summer.


I spent my junior year of college eagerly anticipating my return to the mountains, and God did not disappoint once I got there. Whereas my first summer was a lot about personal growth and ministry, the second was all about servanthood. While I didn’t get the facetime with the campers that the counselors get, I did my best to continue building relationships and pouring the same affirmation over the campers that was poured into me the year before.

That second summer also taught me how truly heartbreaking good-byes can be. How do you tell an 8-year-old that you won’t see her again next summer? That there’s very little chance you’ll ever see her again at all? I spent every Closing Day in tears as I hugged my precious girls good-bye.


If there was a way for me to be working at camp again, I’d be up there in a half a heartbeat. The work of God is so plainly evident in the lives of the staff and campers there, and it would be such a joy to be a part of it again (Of course, I’m also itching for another Night of Chaos and a banana boat, so there’s that, too).

Camp Crestridge taught me so much about myself, about ministry, and about faith, and the seeds planted there continue to bear fruit in my life to this day. For that, I will be forever grateful. If you ever get the notion to work at a summer camp like Crestridge, I absolutely urge you to do it. You will never regret it.


With my feet on the ground and my heart attuned,
I shall reach for the stars.

post-tonys youtube binge

Last night was the Tony Awards broadcast, a.k.a. my favorite night of television all year long. It’s the closest I’ll get to seeing a majority of the shows that come to Broadway, so I’m incredibly giddy by the time the Tonys roll around.

Of course, this also means that today I have slumped into my annual post-Tonys depression of “I have a great need to see all of these shows, but I live in Alabama/am poor.” Alas! The world is not a wish-granting factory (TFIOS reference, anyone? Anyone?).

So to get me through it, I’ve spent a buttload of today wearing out Spotify’s extensive catalog of cast soundtracks and re-watching some old favorite Tony performances. And since I needed to post something today, I figured I’d share a few of those performances with you. Enjoy!

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, “I’ve Decided to Marry You”

GGLAM won this year’s award for Best Musical, and, though I don’t really know too much about it, if it’s all like this performance it 100% deserved it. It’s also the soundtrack I’ve listened to the most today.

2013 Tonys Opening Performance

I’ve watched this probably no less than 25 times before, and it’s still one of my favorite things in life. NPH just knows how to work a room, y’all. Also, there’s an emotional moment about 3/4 of the way through that still makes me cry every time.

Wicked, “Defying Gravity”

This was my very first introduction to both the Tonys and Wicked, and I’ve been irrevocably captured by both ever since. I still haven’t managed to catch a performance of Wicked yet (utter tragedy, that is), but I’m holding out hope for a tour date near me soon.

The Book of Mormon, “Hello!”

This song (and the BOM soundtrack as a whole) is so friggin’ catchy, you guys. I dare you to try and get it out of your head within a day.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, “In My Own Little Corner/Impossible/Ten Minutes Ago”

The costume changes in this are just absolutely captivating. I have been known to rewind and watch that transformation five times over before continuing on. It’s just insanely awesome to watch.

Bonus: 2013 Tony Awards, “Kiss LA Goodbye”

It’s just too funny to not share. I mean, the sheer cheek of it!

Okay, yes, most of these are from the last couple of years, but that’s just where the chips fell with this post. Oh well, y’all can deal with it.

Happy theatre, everyone!

monday fun-day

It is my firm opinion that three-day weekends, while always nice, are much better when the extra day is a Monday. Thankfully, this is the case with the majority of three-day weekends. Thank you, people who plan(ned) the American holiday calendar.

Because of Samford’s policy of taking the Monday after Easter off as opposed to Good Friday (for which I will always be a supporter) and the fact that I didn’t go back to Georgia-home for Easter this year and therefore don’t have to travel, I am granted the luxury of doing absolutely nothing on this gorgeous spring Monday.

I really can’t remember the last time I woke up to the knowledge that I had literally nothing on my schedule for the day. Even if what I have planned is fun and enjoyable, it still requires me to set an alarm and be ready by a certain time. It’s just so peaceful to wake up to nothing, and so unfortunately rare, as well. So today was a day to be taken advantage of.

Said advantage-taking has thus far consisted of my daily Bible reading, catching up on the DVR a bit, and, my personal favorite, spending 3.5 hours reading a new book (Wicked by Gregory Maguire) in my hammock in the sunshine. The weather’s been so perfect that I barely even minded having to coat myself in sunscreen (alas, such is life’s lot for us freckled pale folk).

Surprisingly enough, I even threw in some more productive tasks by doing laundry and sweeping the main areas of the house, just for kicks.

After a Holy Week and Easter weekend of celebrating our new life in Christ, it almost doesn’t seem fair to get another beautiful day to rest in creation and in simply being (though I’m certainly not complaining). If hunger hadn’t eventually pulled me out of my hammock, I probably could have laid there for another 3.5 hours just to watch the flowers and leaves play in the wind. How a heart can’t believe in an Almighty Creator after witnessing springtime is beyond my comprehension.

It’s been such a blessing of a day already, and I’ve still got hours left to enjoy it.

Monday…I think I might love you (at least this week).

Bye guys.