U is for Umbridge

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8447Yes, this blog is about Delores Umbridge. From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling (in case you’ve been living under a rock or something).

You may have noticed by now that I like villains and antiheroes. I like complex characters who make you see their point of view.

I loathe Delores Umbridge. I wanted to see something awful happen to her. Like being forced to watch reruns of Jersey Shore. Or being dismembered.

It’s not just because she tortures Harry. I always kind of liked Snape. Even before the last book, I always thought he was good, deep down. Like Vader.

But everything abut Delores Umbridge is detestable. She talks in a sickly sweet voice that makes me want to vomit, even when I’m reading the book and not actually listening to her. She has plates of creepy kittens (and anyone who makes kittens a bad thing deserves to die, in my book).

She’s got her own agenda, which is Villain 101. But she runs roughshod over the other teachers, respecting nothing and no one who opposes her. Every time she tightens her grasp, more slips out of her grubby little fingers.

But all this is what makes her such a great villain. Every once in awhile, it’s nice for things to be in black and white. There’s no reason to like her. Even He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named wasn’t as horrible as she was.

And that’s really saying something.

Who’s your favorite villain?

Some of you may have seen my “V” blog go live for a brief second this morning. I apologize… apparently I don’t know my alphabet. If anyone wants to send me back to Kindergarten to relearn it, as long as I get snack time and nap time, I’m in.

J is for Joe

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_6764Joe is the narrator of You, by Caroline Kepnes. He meets Beck in the bookstore where he works, and after getting her name from her credit card, Googles her.  He looks at her Facebook and Twitter. And then he starts to figure out where she’ll be so he can engineer a “chance” meeting. It gets creepy. Fast.

The thing is that Joe is an otherwise nice guy. Overly emotional and obviously a stalker, he also does his best to make her happy. And Beck likes to mess with men. She’s not a good person either. They’re not a problematic combination even if Joe was an ordinary guy.

My emotions were all over the place with this book, because while Joe is a bad guy, obviously, I started to see where he was coming from. Because it’s told in his point of view, I started to get sympathetic.

It’s masterful, and I don’t know how Caroline Kepnes did it. It made me think of this quote:

“When you really know somebody you can’t hate them.”
― Orson Scott Card

Believe me; I didn’t like Joe. And having worked in mental health, with people who’ve been in DV relationships and people who’ve assaulted others, I know that he’s wrong on so many levels.

But… the ability to get inside his head was a valuable experience. Fiction gives us that ability, even when it’s disturbing.

Do you ever find yourself sympathizing with the villain?


thI’ve just finished watching House of Cards, and toward the end of the season, I realized three things.

1.  I was rooting for Frank Underwood.

2.  He’s a villain.  Not like an anti-hero.  He’s a villain.

3.  I still want him to win.

(Sue me; it’s a TV show)

It’s talent to make a villain like Frank Underwood, with few redeeming qualities, that you actually want to root for.  I’m a little ashamed of myself.

With Dexter, I didn’t feel bad about rooting for him.  He’s a serial killer who only kills bad people.  He’s got a code of ethics.  The Punisher, same deal.

(Spoilers ahead… you’ve been warned)

Peter Russo wasn’t the greatest human being, but he didn’t deserve to die.  Yeah, he was weak, but he really loved his kids and loved Christina.  Frank killed him for political gain.  That’s not a good reason to kill someone.  But I still can’t find it in me to hate him.

It should be noted that I’m not a fan of politicians in general.  I have no problem believing the dirty, crooked, underhanded stuff that House of Cards shows.  I shouldn’t like the show.  I shouldn’t like Francis or his equally conniving wife.  I shouldn’t.

But I do.

And that folks, is the magic of good storytelling.  I don’t know why it works, but it does.  I’ll be sad if Frank doesn’t win, even though I know I should be rooting for Zoe and the truth, I’m really not.

Season Two begins February 14th.  What better way to spend Valentine’s Day?

Watch at your own risk.