Tag Archives: Harry potter

Riots in London and Israel: The cry of the desperate. Also, bats on a plane! And my much-delayed Harry Potter movie review

The pictures are horrifying. And they’ve been pretty numerous in a lot of different places over the past six months.

Rioting. Looting. People flooding the streets of major cities, demanding change. Sacrificing their bodies in a desperate plea to be heard. The voiceless crying out for a voice.
It happened over the weekend in Israel, and it’s been happening for three days in England. The pictures are impossible to ignore; thousands upon thousands of people looting, fighting and venting their anger.
Of course there’s more than one cause. You can’t lump Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, and England all into one tidy explanation.
But as I watched the recent England fires, I didn’t feel anger at the protestors, or at the government that they’re railing against.
I just felt sad. Sad that conditions in England had become so bad for so many, that this was their only alternative. These aren’t drunken soccer fans pissed because their team lost. These are people who felt they had no other option. People with no money, in many cases no jobs, and little hope for the future.
It’s a horrible feeling to be that desperate, I would think.
They’ve been ignored for far too long, and this is their last chance to be heard.
For a wonderful blog post from the point of view of a England resident about what’s going on here, I strongly urge you to read this post from Laurie Penny. She expresses better what I’m trying to say here.
Read this, and feel the boiling anger of people who are tired of being ignored.

**Boy, I hope the people on this flight got a whole lot of extra drink coupons after this one. A Delta flight originating from Madison, Wisc. had a little problem with a winged creature onboard. Check out this awesome video (Random thought: Do you think the guy who trapped it in the bathroom was called “Batman” for the rest of the trip? I hope so).

**So about three weeks after every other Harry Potter fanatic saw it, I finally took in the final movie in the incredible series last weekend. It was breathtakingly good. Even though I knew how it ended (duh, same as the book), and even though I was prepared for this to be the last film in a series I’ve enjoyed so much, I was still pretty sad at the end.
And also exhilarated. It was a terrific movie for the series to go out on. The cinematography was again awesome; the heart of JK Rowling’s masterpiece was kept intact on screen, and the acting continued to be awesome (Alan Rickman deserves some kind of prize for his portrayal of Severus Snape).
Truly outstanding movie. I wish there were more.

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My last dance with Harry Potter. A great Duke win. And Adam Sandler’s song, of course

I was late to the Harry Potter phenomenon, coming to the party only when I saw how crazy the world went over the release of J.K. Rowling’s fourth book in the series.
And so I’ve always been behind everyone else. I just finished reading the final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” last night.
And a minute after I was finished, I was profoundly sad. Because it was over. An incredible journey of seven books, each one a classic on its own, had ended. I felt a thrill reading these books like you rarely feel, the kind of thrill where you can’t wait to keep turning the pages, to see what happens next.
I actually could’ve finished “Hallows” a few nights ago, but I spread out my reading because I didn’t want it to end.

Yeah, I’m a little strange. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only Potter-phile who did that.

Way more talented writers than me have taken a stab at explaining why these books have caused such hysteria. And certainly I don’t think I could convince you, if you haven’t already, to pick one up and start reading.
But there was something special in each of those books, and by reading them, it was almost like you felt you were part of a special club, with the passageway in known only to other Potter fans.

It was an incredible journey JK Rowling took us on, and I for one am pretty bummed it’s over. No more Hagrid. No more Hermione Granger, the smartest girl in the history of books. No more Snape and Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom.
Sigh. I guess I still have the final movies to look forward to. But it’s not the same.
Harry Potter is gone.  But not before leaving an incredible legacy, in my heart and those of millions of others.

**Big-time win by Duke Wednesday night, over a very, very good Michigan State team. It was a great game; I have so much respect for Tom Izzo and the Spartans program. No doubt in my mind Izzo is the second-best coach in college basketball right now.
As for the Blue Devils, geez, Kyrie Irving, good Lord that kid is good. He’s been phenomenal in the two wins over Kansas State and MSU. He’s been too good, really; there’s no way at this rate that he stays at Duke for  more than a year. But hey, I’m not complaining.
Also loving the maturity of Andre Dawkins and Mason Plumlee, two huge keys to the season.
There’s some crazy talk among my fellow Duke fans that they’re going undefeated; no possible way that happens, even with the ACC being as bad its been in a long, long time. No one goes undefeated anymore.
Still, very happy with how the boys from Durham are playing right now.

**And finally today, as it’s the first day of Hanukkah, I feel I am legally required to post this, and listen to it at least twice. Happy Hanukkah to my fellow Jewish-ites out there…

Duke! Invisibility cloaks! And a little “Love Boat” music.


Good morning all. as you read this I’m probably on my way to Port Canaveral, Fla., humming The Love Boat theme (man I loved that show. The guest star lists were so random; it was always like, Fred Dryer, Charo, and McLean Stevenson).

My wife and I are going on a cruise for the first time together, a four-day excursion to the Bahamas. It’s my first-ever cruise, so I’m totally pumped. Sure, the weather forecast for the Bahamas this week is crappy, but I’m not letting that get me down. I’m going to eat, eat, eat some more, and do some para-sailing. I’m very much looking forward to disconnecting from the world for a few days: No phone, no Internet, nothing.

But fear not, loyal readers: My beloved blog assistant/father will be posting a few things I had written for a rainy day. Dad, this is is your chance to tell any embarrassing stories from my childhood you think the world should know. But remember, the police know the truth!

Have a great week.

So, I know lots of people hate Duke. And I understand it to a degree. People hate winners. But you know, Duke hasn’t won anything in a while, so I was beyond excited Sunday night.

Thanks to Jon Scheyer finding his jump shot, Lance Thomas rebounding like a man possessed, and everyone who played chipping in a little bit, the Blue Devils are going back to the Final Four. Phenomenal win over Baylor, a really good team who scared the hell out of me.

It looked bleak for a while, as LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter (and come on, LaceDarius? What kind of a name is that?) were bombing 3-pointers.

But Duke came back in the second half and got it done. Huge props to Nolan Smith for his career-high 28 points, and Brian Zoubek played well before fouling out, and Scheyer, the leader, came up huge.

**Quite an interesting Final Four, I think. Butler, the hometown team and the little guy in field. Michigan State, who get to the Final Four for the sixth time in 12 years, a mind-blowing accomplishment for Tom Izzo. West Virginia, which hasn’t been there since 1959 and plays hellacious defense. And a Duke team most people still underestimate. Should be a lot of fun.

**Finally, this is one of those stories I can’t believe is really true. But remember the “invisibility cloaks” in the Harry Potter movies, where Harry and his friends could go from room to room undetected?

Well, apparently German scientists have created a 3-D cloak that can hide objects by bending light waves.

This is way too complicated for me to explain; go here for the details. But how cool would this be in real life? All those times you want to know what people are saying about you in the other room? Now you can! When I was younger this was the power I wanted most in life, and now it might be possible.

God bless science.


The genius of the Harry Potter books

HarryPotter

Back in 2004, my then-girlfriend, now wife, asked me if I wanted to go our local Barnes & Noble at midnight for a Harry Potter Book Release party.

I believe “Um, excuse me?”  was my reply. Of course I knew by that point about the Harry Potter phenomenon; four best-selling books had already come and gone, and you’d have to have been living in one of Osama bin Laden’s caves to have not heard about this boy wizard who could do magic.

But I’d never picked up one of the books, or read an excerpt. My wife is one of those people who locks themselves in a room for 12 hours when a new Potter book arrives, not resurfacing until she’s finished.

So I had no interest in Potter, but, because when you’re dating you’ll pretty much go anywhere a woman wants, I tagged along.

I was amazed at what I saw. Hundreds of kids dressed up like their favorite characters, roaming the store. People passing out stickers professing their love to Draco Malfoy or Ron Weasley. Kids comparing notes about what they thought the new book would be like.

Honestly, it looked like a “Star Trek” convention for little people. And so, after a little more prodding by other people I knew who were devout Potter-philes, I dived in.

So far I’ve read six of the seven masterpieces; I just finished “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” over the weekend. Yeah, I know I’m behind, but I started late, and I like to take six months to a year between books; it seems to make me appreciate them more.

And not that J.K. Rowling needs any help from me,  but I want to spend a few minutes telling you why, if you haven’t given them a try, you should.

For one thing, they’re wonderful adventure stories. The plots are complex, but not too complex that you’ll get confused.

Sure, it helps if you’ve read them in order, because you know the history of the characters, but you could easily pick up “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and enjoy it on its own.

The details are so clever and amusing, too; Rowling spent so much time crafting each story, and each character, that everything that the characters say and do rings true. Of course some mishap will happen to Neville Longbottom, and of course Hermione Granger will get frustrated at Ron’s antics, etc.

The writing itself, of course, also sets the books apart. Rowling is a master at the language, and she makes you feel so emotionally attached to the individuals in her stories that you truly do feel their hopes and dreams.

I’m awfully tired of people deriding the Potter books as “children’s literature.”  They’re way more than that. They are true works of art, able to be enjoyed as much by 13-year-olds and 63-year-olds.

I’ve got one book left, and I almost don’t want to start reading it, because I know it’s the last one.

Anyway, if you’ve been a Potter-phobe before, check out “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and just read a few pages.

You’ll get sucked in, whether you mean to or not.