Friday, July 20, 2007

Que Sera, Sera

So the new book comes out tomorrow. Although I have it pre-ordered from Amazon, it's actually the first of the series that I will read right as it's released. In fact, I didn't read book #6 until a couple of months ago. So, although I'm swept up in the momentum of book 7, I haven't been this much of a die-hard fan all along. I will not line up at midnight in my wizard outfit, although I bet it would be really funny to see the crowds--my local bookshop is having a costume contest, and since there's a Harry Potter fan club on campus (yes, indeed) I bet there will be quite a few entrants.

I've been pondering the outcomes of this final book, reading some predictions online and trying to come up with my own theories. I just can't separate what I want to happen from what I think will happen. I know there will be deaths, and I believe that several will be main characters, including at least one kid. But for a series that started out as such a sweet, fun tale of adolescent adventures, I feel a bit sad to even contemplate the potential deaths of these characters. In the most recent movie, there is a scene towards the end when all the kids are being held hostage by bad guys, and as the camera flashed from face to terrified face, I realized that, fictional or not, I have gotten attached to those kids, having watched them grow up through the pages of these books. I know it's naive of me to want a happy ending, so I suppose I'll just have to suck it up, face the inevitable heartbreak I expect in these next few days, and take it like an adult.

However, for the sake of entertainment, and for mocking me when I am totally wrong on all counts, here are some predictions:
  • The person who died at the end of book 6 is dead.
  • Neville will be a hero.
  • Draco will come over to the good side (and kill his own father!)
  • The Sorting Hat will be destroyed (and good riddance, that thing is annoying).
  • Hermione and Ron will finally get together, and there will be much snogging.
  • One of the Weasleys will bite it (I hope it's Percy; if it's Ron I will cry giant Hagrid tears).
  • Harry will die.
  • No, he won't--he'll live happily ever after with Ginny
  • Or, maybe he will die and she will marry Neville. I can't decide.
  • Cousin Dudley is a wizard, or maybe gay.
  • Snape will die saving Harry's life.
  • It turns out it was all a dream.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Daniel Radcliffe on Extras

Extras is a pretty funny show, and this has to be one of my favorite episodes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Six Degrees of Harry Potter

Harry Potter to Kevin Bacon:
1. Daniel Radcliffe was in three Harry Potter movies with Gary Oldman
2. Gary Oldman was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon

er...ok, that was too easy.

Connect Harry to...say...Cary Grant. Anyone care to try?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It's Harry Potter week here at Distant Wanderings!!! So a word of warning for all of you non-fans: be prepared for bizarre vocabulary and themes that might suggest I've joined a cult. Apologies in advance for you who have no idea what I'm talking about.

With four days to go until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm re-reading book six, listening to some Wizard Rock, and have located all (two of) the Potter fans at work for daily debates about the characters and predictions for the end of the series.

Last week I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on opening night, and enjoyed it very much. My main issue with the book was twofold: it was too long and complicated by too many sub-plots; and Harry was kind of a jerk in it. It got tiring to read about Harry repeatedly snapping at his friends, feeling sorry for himself, hating everybody around him and being an all-around prat, as they say. I was therefore pleased that the movie made delicate adjustments to lessen both of these problems while still retaining the emotional core of Harry's story. Harry's still a jerk sometimes (well, wouldn't you be if you saw your friend die and nobody believed you and the only authority figure who supports you ignores you all year? And you were 15 years old?) I also appreciated how the film streamlined all the many plot lines, eliminating those that were unnecessary to the continuation of the story, and even changed some details in order to move the plot along. One disappointment (which is unavoidable in a story with such a huge, famous cast) is that some characters get far too little screentime for my tastes, notably Luna Lovegood, Tonks, and Bellatrix Lestrange. (Isn't Helena Bonham Carter fantastic??). I also missed Firenze, the Centaur and substitute Divination professor; I was looking forward to his arrival (not least because of his reputed good looks) but I can understand why he had to be cut out of the story. Oh, and I feel a needed moment of comic relief was lost by not showing Ron trying to keep his balance and looking utterly terrified while riding an invisible horse.

One thing I realize about these movies is that I can't remove myself and watch them independently--I will always compare them to the books and debate how well they were adapted, and wonder how the director will handle a certain scene or character. Part of the reason I love watching them is that I love to see JK Rowling's amazing, vivid descriptions of places and people brought to life--they nearly always look on screen exactly the way they did in my head as I was reading. And I love that, because I have read the books, I recognize subtle scenery or background elements, such as the plant that Neville carries onto the train at the beginning, or the fact that Percy Weasly (who remains unnamed and line-less, and whose family estrangement is cut completely) stands prominently next to Cornelius Fudge in all the Minister's scenes. I can't help but wonder what the experience is like for those who haven't read the books. Are the movies confusing? Scary? Bizarre? Or is the discovering the crazy wizarding world as much fun when it happens in a cinema as when it happens while reading? Are there any movies-only participants out there? Care to comment?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Viva summer!

After approximately 8 months of complete sloth, the arrival of summer has kicked me into gear, exercise-wise. Yesterday I went for a short hike with some friends in one of many local state parks, under a non-canopy of trees stripped bare of leaves by an infestation of gypsy moth and tent caterpillars. Today I ran a mile (baby steps, people, baby steps) and this week I plan to go swim some laps in the university's outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool (and maybe jump off the high platform, if somebody dares me).

I've also grouped with some co-workers to play a little softball after work, and was pleased to note that even after a hiatus of 6 or 7 years, I can still throw and catch (and hit, thanks to the other team's error-prone infield). Running, however, is another matter. After 3 innings, all the sprinting involved in running the bases took a toll, and two days later I literally had to use my hands to help lift my legs--say, to get out of my car, or tie a pair of shoes. Hopefully by the end of the summer I'll be a little less wimpy.

One inspiration for this activity is the sudden (and somewhat inexplicable) athleticism of my brother Dan. He started going to the gym in January or February, and along with his friend Cooper (who I have known for 20 years) completed his first triathlon last weekend. Last Friday night I participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life as a part of a team from work. The Relay is a fundraiser in which each team has walkers circling a high-school track for 24 hours straight. Since I'm a little younger and have less family commitments than most of them, I volunteered for the 2-4 AM shift, giving me fond memories of my first days as a WRBC DJ. After my shift, I hopped in my car to drive straight down to Philly, arriving just in time to catch the guys just before they headed off for the swim portion (1/2 mile in the Schuylkill river, followed by a 13-mile bike ride and 3-mile run). It was really fun watching them, and I caught them at all the transitions, and got some photos as they sped past me. As a result, some of them are blurry, but you get the idea. I was really proud of Dan for doing this crazy thing, and he did great; both of them finished in under two hours.

Click on the Dan's fat cat Cutie for a slide show of photos from that weekend.