Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Harry Potter and the Snotty Kleenex


This blog has MAJOR spoilers about the goings on in the new Harry Potter book. If you have the book and haven't read it yet or are of the mind that you'll just wait for the movies, please do not read this post. This is basically for the 2 out of 5 people that read this that actually read the books.

A side note: if you have only seen the 3 movies that have been released so far, I recommend picking up the 4th book reading it, asking someone who read the 5th to tell you about the prophesy (the 5th is only OK and unnesecarily long) and then reading the 6th book.

Stop reading if you want to go to the 6th movie as a Half Blood Prince virgin.


The 6th HP book, which I just finished on Saturday, is by far and away the best of the series. I loved the 3rd and 4th books, but this one is something that is really very special. It was the first time ever that I was reading a book, decided that I would stop reading once I finished the next chapter, but couldn't stop and decided I HAD to finish the book. Now I know what a book has to be like for me to actually say, "I can't put it down."

In the 6th book, Harry is learning about Voldemort's childhood through memories that Dumbledore is supplying. During the course we learn that V has used a very terrible curse which enables a wizzard to split his sould in 2 and store the other half in an object. Therefore, if the body is killed, the person lives on in this object and can be brought back to life. To do this, the wizzard must kill a person, however, becasue that act essentially fractures a person's soul. And V, we figure out, has SEVEN of these things spread out and hidden all around. Needless to sya, Dumbledore and HArry are determined to destroy these objects. As a resutl fo retreiving one, Dumbledore is severely injured, returns to Hogwarts to find that V's followers have infultrated the school and during the confrontation, Dumbledore is killed by none other than Professor Snape. The same Professor Snape that no one but D trusts.

On Ain't it Cool News, one of the folks on that web site called the Half Blood Prince J.K. Rowlings's own personal Empire Strikes Back. I think that assesment of this book is entirely, 100% accurate and fair. If you happen to been in the continuum of geekdom that LOVES both Star Wars and the Harry Potter books, learning of Dumbledore's death is every bit as shocking as learning about Darth Vader being Luke's father (oops, I forgot to mention that there's a Star Wars spoiler in here, too). The main difference being that if you're a female member of both groups, like my dear friend Erika, you probaly cried like a baby while reading the HP book (or if you're a male member, the room got a little dusty and your allergies were acting up a bit).

Before I read that bit from Ain't it Cool News, I had already started drawing the Star Wars similarities. They can't be ignored. On a mere plot level, this is the first Harry Potter book that basically sets up the plot for the next book: Harry needs to find these other bits of Voldemort's soul and destroy them. That's it. That's the plot of the next book. Just like you knew one of the main bit of plot of the movie after Empire would be the gang rescuing Han Solo. It had to happen. And since in both cases, the next installment is to be the last, you knew it was happening very soon.

Then you obviously have Dumbledore as the Obi Wan Kanobi figure. The key difference is that in the HP world, there's nothing to say that a wizzard can be more powerful in death than in life, as was the case of the Jedi and Obi Wan. But you KNOW that a character like this cannot die without the death serving a grander purpose. We don't know what the purpose is yet. It's not like Harry needed any additional reason to hate Snape and to want to seek revenge on Voldemort. So to say, "It was just to get Harry mad and to act," I don't feel is enough. A part of it could be that Harry could never realize his true potential while D was still alive becasue he'd always fall back on him for help. I can accept that as part of it, but alone, it is not sufficeint. What the reason behind his death is remains to be seen. I'll be very disappointed with Book 7 if there isn't one (I'll still love Book 6, though).

This raises the question f Snape as the Vader character, and to be more specific, can he redeem himself. First, on a very basic level, I reject the idea of Snape as Vader (which Jenn argued very well) mainly because Vader is the archetypal father in the Star Wars trilogy. There isn't any connection between Harry and Snape to make their relationship such that Harry would hate him but grow up to be like him. Plus, there is nothing in Snapes past which suggests that he was ever good. Pitiable, certainly, but not not unculpable and certainly not sypathetic. That leads to the final question of whether he can be redeemed. I don't think so nor do I want him to be. Dumbledore himself in the book said that murder is the most unforgivable act anyone can do. There are some making an arguement that he was sparing Malfoy from committing the act (V had given the task to him). But that's still inexcusable. You don't kill, period. And on top of that, I don't WANT him to be redeemed. To paraphrase Erika, "He's a shit. I hate him and I like hating him. And I don't want to see him turn out to be good after all." I'm fully capable to see Snape get killed in a final act to save Harry in some way. But that is not redemption. Vader got redemption by killing the Emperor. That is Harry's job here. If Snape does sacrafice himself, he is simply paying the price for the ill he has done. We're square, but he's still a shit.

I'm really looking forward to the next book. I can't even begin to think about what's in stopre becasue the means to the ends could be anything. You have to be prepared for anything. But I'm most looking forward to reading about Harry's celebration after he runs the gauntlet to kill Voldemort. The celebration, with Ron, Hermione and Ginny and all the Ewoks, will certainly be a big one!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Around the Horn

There's quite a bit going on at the moment. Enough to make one's head spin. And unfortunately, I haven't been here to guide you all through it. I"m going to try to get back ona regular schedule in the coming weeks. We'll see how that goes. I know I ahve at least 2 for this week: this one, which will be another "Bit of Everything" and a Harry Potter blog. SO on with the show!

Let's open with politics. This Karl Rove/CIA Leak thing has really had legs. I'm quite surprised. I thought for sure that there wouldn't be enough to keep interest and the administration would do enough to prevent this from going anywhere. But the media is actually performing it's job: the watch-dog of elected officials for the people. I think it's got a little to do with the fact that one of their own is in jail right now and a little to do witht he fact that Rove is so entirely unlikeable. Anyway, I'm still not convinced that anythign will actually happen to Rove - no way Bush can bite the hand that feeds him - but I do think this will be another little item on the mountain heap of crap that Mr. Joe America will remember when the mid-term elections come. I don't think that the Religious yahoos will get the boot entirely, but they sure don't look very good right now.

I don't like the new Daily Show set. I fear that they're starting to take themselves a little too seriously. The couch was just enough to say, "we handle serious topics but in a way that people can be a little relaxed." The new set looks a little TOO much like an actual news show. But the show is still as good as always. The guests are getting better, too. I never really like when he has celebs on. I prefer the political guests. Int he past 2 weeks, he had 2 different double-interview segments with conservatives. One was Creepy Senetor Extraordinaire Rick Santorum out of my home state of PA. He has writen a book called It Takes a Family - an obvious dig on Hilary "I'll support any view as long as it advances me PERSONALLY" Clinton's book It Takes a Village. I imagine Rick would fear that the fags int he village would make all the little boys start worrying about interior decorating. A good segment. Jon was trying to explain that any family unit can produce a good child but Santorum maintained that the IDEAL is a man and a woman without actually providing and evidence or reason on why this would be the ideal. The other was some creep who wrote a book call 100 People Who Are Ruining America which included Barbara Striesand, Howard Stern and Al Franken. I'm sorry, but if you're going to claim that Al Franken and Howard Stern are ruining America, you HAVE to include Rush Limbaugh or you lose all credibility. He's responsible for disecting this nation into a bunch of mindless regurgitators of quotes (rather than a nation of engaged open-dialouge thinkers) as much as anybody. FORGET THE FACTS, LET'S TALK REGURGITATION!!! Jon's best point was, listing Babs when people like Rove and Novak are revealing National Secrets is taking the focus off of what actually matters just a bit.

The new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie is really good. Johnny Depp rocks!! He may be my favorite actor right now. And the movie is just fun and not ... Tim Burton-ish. I wish I could expand on that thought. There's a certain quality that some Burton films have that make me like them the first time I see them, but then realize taht as movies themselves, they are completely forgetable. See BAtman, Edward Scissors Hand and The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.

Lastly, THE WEDDING!!! Jenn and I are getting really excited. The tentative number is still right around 60, but we're STILL waiting on people to send their responses. Jenn had her Bridal Shower on Sunday, which by all accounts was fun and a success. Katie was an absolute rock star hero in playing host and the cake was really yummie. That's about the best I can do with first hand information. Things are falling into place, but some little things are still un-done and I either forget to do them every day or forget to get them in order. My memory with this stuff has been really bad. Jenn, when you read this, pull out a pad of paper and write down the following things: e-mail picture of the cake, fax/mail song list, confirm process with the chapel, confirm menu, confirm when money is due. There, now they'll get done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What I did on my Summer Vacation

OK, so I've been relatively quite on the Blogging front. You can't say I didn't warn you though, as I had predicted that my blogging would be reduced drastically once Fantasy Football sign-ups started. Welp, that's exactly what happened. But let me get you up to date on various goings on.

Firstly, on the Supreme Court vacancy, I've heard a lot of talk about the pluses and minuses of the departing O'Connor and a little talk about potential successors. The every evil Sean Hannity on Fox News claimed that Liberals were being two faced in praising O'Connor since in actuality we all hated her except for her stance on abortion. Well, I can say, as a middle of the road kind of guy that I am (though not always seem), for the reasons I stated in my previous blog, there was plenty to like. Obviously, I would have rather she NOT cast one of the votes that handed the 2000 election to Bush. An interesting caveat here: on all of the "major" issues that were decided by a single vote that went against the fascist right, it is always said that her vote was the "deciding vote". But you don't here that said when her vote went with her "party line". The fact is that Hannity and the other fascists hate her as much if not more than any pinko Liberal because technically, she never betrayed us. The thought for the day, of course is, who is REALLY more scared about her replacement. I'm totally freaked out, but I but the hard-line right wing is even more so. What if they get another traitor?

Also going on is the recent revelation that Karl Rove (aka Jabba) may or may not have divulged the identity of an undercover CIA operative to a Time reporter. As much as I would LOVE for this story to pan out into something that makes the Village Idiot and his Puppet Master look foolish, I just don't see it going that way. The problem is that none of the notes that have leaked to the press suggest that he actually named a particular person or even referenced a person as being a CIA Operative. Yes, he alluded to it, but I think the bigger story is that someone from Camp Idiot actually said something of substance to a reporter. Really. We know nothing about the motives, plans, processes or daily activities of any aspect of the current administration. All we get insight to are talking points. No thought is involved in talking points and as a result no insight is provided. This administration systematically refuses to allow the people know how they are being served and governed. And no one asks the questions that would delve into this. It's how we ended up in Iraq, how there are still a large number of people that believe Iraq was involved in 9/11, how one half of the country believes we are liberators and the other half occupiers and how right-wing media can claim that the mainstream media is biased and only shows one side of the story without being called on the fact that there really is no side of most stories. The OFFICIAL WORD from the administration is so banal and so empty of thought that anyone who doesn't want to think about the bad that might be happening doesn't have to. They can be shielded from anything they want to ignore: reality, responsibility, reason, rights. The conservatives will continue to win elections as long as the majority of the voting public chooses to not want to think.

On the wedding front, all the small stuff is slowing falling into place. We've got a guest book and pens to sign it with. We've got an semi-official estimate count of attendees (we're looking at about 65 with several people still unaccounted for). We'll be ordering the wedding favors within the next week. It's really filling out to be a real wedding.

Anyway, sorry for jamming so much random stuff in this one. Once the fantasy drafts are over, I'll be a little more on target. Until then though, I suspect I'll continue to be a little disjointed. Unless of course something really sticks out as needing to be ranted about separately.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Playing well with others

Unfortunately, the ball is now in Bush's proverbial and literal court. Today, as you may have heard, Sandra Day O'Connor announcer her retirement from the Supreme Court. If you want detailed information about her, please read any one of a billion articles floating around on news sites. I can't really do her justice (2 puns in the first 3 sentences, not a good sign). To summarize, she's palyed a very important role in the past 25 years acting as a moderate, a sane voice, on a court that would otherwise be split even on left and right. For anyone who considers themselves a middle of the road kind of guy (or gal), as I do, her departure, when we have a whacko Village Idiot Right Wing Religious extemist in the White House is a very terrible thing.

I fear that Bush will try to push through someone that will tilt the highest court in the direction of Constitutional Conservatives that believe the Bill of Rights is largely a mistake andf can easily be ignored. This type of person would mean intrusion into our person lives as we have seen recently witht he Terry Schivo fiasco and could potentially see with an over-turn of Roe v Wade (more on this next week).

I do have to work, so I have to be brief. But the time to do something is now and there isn't a very big window to act. Click this link:
and be sure to let our congressfolk know that America is a melting pot which does not lean left or right but rather sits smack dab on the middle of the fence. There needs to be a calming influence on the court. If this weren't so important, I would have waited until I had more time to write a blog that supplies some semblance of coherent thoughts.

I hope everyone is well. Happy 4th!!!