Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Harry Potter – It All Ends

I remember hearing about Harry Potter, this new kid’s series that “promoted witchcraft”. I laughed and moved on, after all, crazy people love to blame books, movies, and video games for a whole host of things. My cousin later gave me a copy of Book 4, The Goblet of Fire, which had just come out. I was fairly happy, but didn’t have the first 3 books, so I tossed it on my shelf and didn’t think much more about it.

Fast forward about a year later and here I am, in a bookshop in Oxford, England, and my friend is buying a CD. I look down and there is a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The movie buzz had already begun so I was aware of the US/UK name switch, so I bought the copy of the book. It seemed like a neat thing to have and a good souvenir. A few days later, I had finished the book I had brought on the trip and was getting ready to fly home. So I pulled out Philosopher’s Stone and tucked it in my book bag.

By the time my plane landed in New Jersey, I had finished it. I was enraptured. It was *such* a good book. Walking through the NJ airport, I noticed a book store, with Chamber of Secrets prominently displayed. *yoink* I bought the book and then settled down to read. Over the next two hours every single flight was delay or canceled. Most of our group was sweating the idea of spending the night in NJ. I was wondering if I should run back to the book store and see if they had Prisoner of Azkaban.

Our flight was one of the only ones that left that evening, and I finished Chamber of Secrets before we landed in Memphis. On the ride home (remember, after being in England and Ireland for 11 days) I asked my mom if we could stop by Barnes and Noble to pick up Book 3. She pushed it off to the next day.

I blazed through Book 3 that next day and started Book 4 that night. In total it took my less than 16 hours total over 3 days to read the first four books. And Book 5, wasn’t out yet. It wasn’t even close. I convinced my mother to read the series and she was as hooked as I was.

Thus began the great bonding my mother and I had over midnight movie showings, midnight book releases, and discussing the finer points of Harry Potter philosophy.

One of the best instances was right before Book 5 came out. My mother worked at a religious school, and I had been hired to help with data entry tasks. A well meaning nut came into the office to hand out fliers and try to convince us to come and help her group picket the various bookstores in the area in protest of that “witchy” book being released.

I, in my usual, I don’t like idiots fashion, tossed the flyer into the recycle bin within seconds of it touching my hand. The woman noticed and immediately went on the offensive. Didn’t I know that that book teaches young impressional minds about magic and witchcraft? Didn’t I know that it claims that “there is no good or evil, only those with power and those too weak to seek it?” (To be fair, that is in the book, but it is said by Lord Voldemort, so I am pretty sure it kind of proves it’s own point by the end.)

I could not resist. Reaching down into the recycling bin, I snagged the offending flyer and stood up.

“You know what? You’re right. This is a terrible thing and we should do something.” I proclaimed as her eyes lit up. She looked thrilled. She just knew she had convinced someone to her cause.

“But why are you stopping at Harry Potter? There are plenty of other books that are just as bad, if not worse. We need to let these people know we don’t want their spell books in our stores.”

“Yes!” She agreed fervently.

“I mean, look at fairy tales! In Disney movies alone they have that fairy god mother. Beauty and the Beast is just as bad.” I started making notes on the back of the flyer as I proceeded to list every single Disney movie I could think of and why it’s magical events were obscene and should be removed, for the children. The woman’s face faded from excitement to a confused look.

“Well, I don’t know, I mean, those aren’t that bad…” She said in a low voice, clearly unsure of this new step.

“No no!” I insisted, “We have to be through. Like that Bible. It has to go too.”

Her shocked face very nearly made me laugh with glee, I didn’t though, it would have ruined the whole thing.

“Well, Jesus turns water into wine, that’s very clearly magic. As is walking on water. Oh, and he raises people from the DEAD. That’s Necromancy! One of the most vile branches of magic.” I finished with a flourish of the paper.

The woman opened and closed her mouth several times. She made some kind of squeaking sound. Then turned and stormed out without a word. My mother looked at me, a bit shocked, a bit proud, a bit disappointed.

“I can’t believe you did that.” She said.

“I can’t believe you didn’t expect me to do that.” I responded, as I returned to my work, once more toss the flyer into the recycling bin.

We spent the evening eating out, then sitting in a line at Walmart discussing the books with some other rather lovely people.

We got Book 5 at midnight, then drove home, with me reading the first chapter in the car out loud. I stayed up reading until at some point I fell asleep, the book flopping forward onto my chest. When I woke up a few hours later, I simply righted the book, and continued on.

Book 6 I got from Amazon, release day delivery, at 8 am, when I went down to my apartment complex’s office only to see the poor girl working the office that morning sorting through what looked like a hundred or so identical Amazon boxes. I helped her sort them, finding my own, and then went back to my house, and spent the whole day reading.

By the time we got to Book 7, I was working at Toys R Us. I was the SRS for the store, and was a part of the group that received the large pallet of books two days before release. It was wrapped in black plastic, and at some point, in transit, had been knocked, so the top half of it was shifted slightly and the plastic was torn. As my office was the only lockable space large enough, and still usable, I ended up with it there. And managed to shimmy a book out of one of the boxes. Three cheers for doing something completely illegal that would have gotten me fired, but I really didn’t care. I had to know how it ended.

Two days later I waited in line at Borders and bought my copy to go home and read it all the way through. I stayed up all night, and was quite exhausted the next day. But it was done. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series, but there was a sense of loss. No more Harry Potter. No more Ron Weasley. No more Hermione Granger.

But wait! There were still movies! I clung to that thought like a drowning man clinging to a branch.

Now, here in the Summer of 2011, I have seen the last movie. I have felt the whirlwind ease. I have cheered over Voldemort’s fall. I am sure I will read the books again. I am sure I will have movie marathons. I can’t wait to have children and experience the stories again through them when they are old enough. Harry Potter is as much a part of my life as College or High School. The movie posters for 7 Part 2, said “It All Ends.” And it was, an ending, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone, or it’s never going to come up again. I still have a red and gold scarf. I still have my Dumbledore’s Army shirt.

There are many things I could talk about, why the books are superior to other book series (the philisophical ideals presented, the growth of the characters, the compelling prose); why the movies, despite being so variant in tone and direction are superb to other movie series (the tone reflecting the audience, the different viewpoints and small shifts in the story better detailing the world beyond the books, the actors themselves growing into their roles and doing bang up jobs); or simply say, this was truly a series, both book and movie, for our age and era. Harry may not be a classic yet, but I am sure he will be.

Thank you J.K. Rowling, and Harry Potter, for allowing me into your world. The movies may have ended and new books may have stopped being written, but the story lives on in all the hearts and lives it has touched.

I know I will always wish that I were 11 years old and see an owl carrying a small parchment envelop, with green ink, bearing my name.

Lego Harry Potter Review

I played Lego Star Wars. I played Lego Star Wars 2. I played Lego Indiana Jones. I played Lego Batman. So is it any wonder I purchased Lego Harry Potter?

The Lego games have always been quirky, enjoyable, and fun. You generally play a contingent of characters, running through a world destroying things that explode in a glorious spray of studs. Video Games, being inherently focused on fantasy fulfillment, commonly have a player fighting endless hordes of enemies, blowing things up, and collecting massive quantities of “valuable” things. But for some reason when the Lego games did this, I thought it was very odd. Most parents buy their kids Legos because they are an “educational” toy that inspires creativity and non-violent play. They aren’t even like standard blocks, where it was always fun to destroy the thing built afterward, as Legos simply don’t fall apart that way.

But I played the games because the gameplay was solid, the cutscenes nothing short of INSPIRED, and the collecting wildly enjoyable.

Harry Potter changes the formula. In the books there aren’t that many battle scenes. This is no action movie. This is kids in class, exploring an insane castle, and playing around with magic and magic items. So the designers cut the “exciting” part of the game in favor of keeping true to source material and in doing so moved closer to the thing parents love most about Legos. Lego HP really focuses on the exploration and problem solving. The puzzles are wide and varied. The “levels” aren’t even that, they are more like segments of time, for the most part you can run around playing through the castle and villages as much as you wish. I put exciting in quotes because most designers consider combat the exciting part of a game. Lego HP proves it is not combat but rather conflict, and the conflict can be against puzzles as opposed to violence against monsters.

I haven’t completed it yet, but I am fairly positive even at this point I feel this is my favorite Lego game. I recommend it to anyone who loves Harry Potter, Legos, and good games.

Re-Post: In olden days long gone…

I have always loved historical places and items. Just recently I ordered the Collector’s Edition of Beedle the Bard, by JK Rowling from Amazon.com. (Okay, okay, I didn’t order it recently, I ordered it in July the first day it was available.) The book itself is printed on thick textured paper, in a lovely font with sketches interspersing the pages and bound in leather with silver adornments. It even has a clasp, to keep the book closed. The book is tucked into a velvet pouch, and placed in a large protective case, which also holds a few prints of illustrations from the book. The more I looked at this book and it’s trappings the more I felt the price, $100, was completely worth it. This is a book I would treasure. This was a book I could gift to my children at a later time in my life. All of this got me to thinking, why don’t we make things like this anymore?

Even if I purchase a hard bound book, it is unlikely I would view it as a treasure to be passed on. It is merely a sturdier version of the paperback book. I looked to other “treasured items” I own. A wool blanket, purchased in Scotland, a silver jewelry box from a grandmother, a small porcelain angel purchased in Ireland for another grandmother… All of these things share common traits. They are lovely, detailed, authentic, and have a sense of history or memorial for someone or some event.

More recently I have gotten interested in blog sites that detail unique things, clothing, and houses. It is only after thinking about the book that I began to realize something that ties all these things together. No one makes stuff like this anymore. No one takes the time and effort to put detail and energy into their work and crafts anymore. Look at stuff from the 19th century. No one built a house without adding tons of detail like moldings, railings, wrought iron work, and making each piece look like a work of art. Why do we get excited when we go to old houses or locations like the Seminary? Because they are beautiful and interesting in ways our cookie cutter homes cannot hope to emulate. Cookie cutter is not bad, and is in fact necessary to save money and time thus allowing something to be affordable by the masses, but something is lost along the way. But we have created a disposable society, where things are tossed out and replaced. I suddenly have this vision of the future, where a whole section of history has been lost due to our lack of craftsmanship. Is less history passed on because we do not view it as worthwhile? In a generation will mother’s still pass on treasured items to daughters, or will they simply buy a new one for the daughter? These artifacts are not being created for our generation. I love the heirlooms of the past, but I cannot think of any I would pass on from my home.

The most creative object I have decorated and detailed was a Nerf Maverick. To my daughter: A $5 plastic gun I painted in an interesting manner. Not a crib carved by your father and painted by your mother. One of the very things that makes us human is our ability to create things that are lasting and worthwhile.

Here’s to bringing back the days of intricate detail and adornment. Make something worth keeping and passing on to future generations.

Some Websites that I look at that might be interesting:

Harry Potter Movies

Harry Potter and I have an interesting relationship. I first encountered Harry Potter when an Aunt of mine gifted me with Book 4 for Christmas. I had not read the series and I absolutely refuse to read books out of order, so I tucked it on a shelf and continued about my merry way reading Wheel of Time. (More on that Later.) Six months later I was in England and visiting Oxford. Here my best friend and I stopped at a bookstore to pick up a CD from one of our favorite artists. I noticed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. One for collecting odd or rare editions I decided to pick up this book, as in America is was re-named and heavily edited from the original version. Our last night of the trip I was tired, bored and felt like reading, so I opened PS and started reading. My the time our plane landed in Newark, NJ, the next day I had finished the book, astonished at the quality and depth of writing for a “children’s” book. While waiting in the airport I discovered the news stand had Book 2 on sale, and picked it up to read. By the time I arrived home, I had finished that one as well. The first day after returning home I went and purchased Book3. Two days after returning home, I had dug out and finished Book 4. Then I joined the thousands of other “Potterphiles” waiting for Book5. I was hooked so completely and utterly.

J. K. Rowling had managed to write a “children’s” book that did something no other book I had read did. It grew up with the characters. I remember reading Nancy Drew novels and finding it interesting how many times she got early 18th Birthday presents. Nancy Drew, forever 17 years old. But here was a well written book that the characters seemed real. They are children in the first book. Do you notice how many times candy comes up in the first book? Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Botts, Fizzing Whizbees… almost constantly they are discussing, eating, or carrying candy. But then, they are 11 years old! It makes sense. Now candy plays a part in the later books, chocolate with the dementors and whatnot, but it falls off as they get older. These characters are by far some of the most realistic I have read in any fiction novel. They are conflicted, wishy washy, confused, intelligent, idiotic, emotional, complicated and annoying at various point throughout the books. In short, I was impressed and admired not only the complexity and depth of the world she created, the humanity of the characters, but also the sheer quality of writing.

When they announced the intention and began filming the first few movies, I was excited, but with cautious optimism. Fortunately for all of us, the producers and directors took the movies very seriously and gave us good quality production. After the third movie, I realized something very important. These movies were no longer “Cliff’s Notes” versions of the books, but rather supplemental to the books. The best way to experience them is to read the book then watch the movie. As we walked out of the theater, my father looked at me and said, “I don’t understand. How did the professor know it was a map?” It took me several minutes to identify what he was asking. In the movie, you are never told who Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs are. In fact, you are never full told that James was an Animagus. Those of us who read the book knew that Professor Lupin knew it was a map because he MADE the object. But my father was horribly lost.

I love the movies. I loved the most recent movie. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the visuals and hearing the proper inflection given to each line. I enjoy watching the actors become better at their craft and slowly grow into adults. I really enjoy that they have extended the story a bit since the completion of the final book. But to be completely honest, the movies are nothing more than a supplement to the books and anyone who watches the movie without reading the book is doing themselves and the story a great disservice.