Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter report

Hey, I gotta blog briefly about "Harry Potter" 7.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was probably the most anticipated book in my lifetime, and I was excited about getting it on the 20th at midnight, like everybody else was. I thought I ought to take my niece to at least see the festivities, since she and I are close (in the way I can never be with people once they turn eleven or so) and I remember how great it was a couple of years ago after coming out of HULK and seeing a Harry Potter party at the Borders down the block.

So, there's a Borders not far away, and I took my niece (I almost called her my sister there, another sure sign of old age), finding a tremendous crowd, rock concert-sized. Not a heck of a lot of nubile young things were wandering around, and ironically, the girl playing The Fat Lady (complete with picture frame) was not really fat. It was fun, there was face painting, a costume contest, ringtosses, a sorting hat, a jellybean-tasting contest, and a mask-making table. We each made a mask, and here's the photo:

They gave away glow sticks at the door, and candy at a couple of booths. There were stickers and buttons proclaiming your support or condemnation of Snape (I believe I'm wearing mine in the picture I stuck on here), and I believe that I will be Snape come this Halloween, if I'm still around.

Even though it was late, my niece has inherited a lot of my qualities, such as being a night owl, the enjoyment of all things scary and twisted, mimicry, and the inability to grow a proper beard. There were a couple of guys dressed as (I'm guessing here) dementors, and I pretended I didn't see them, enjoying my niece's frustration at my confusion when she pointed them out to me. I will miss her soon when she outgrows me.

It was super crowded, as I said, and it was nigh unto impossible to get a book. But there was no shoving, bickering, farting, or audible complaining. A good crowd; I don't know that I could completely despise somebody who loved the Harry Potter books.

At quarter-to-twelve, they announced that whoever hadn't preordered the book should leave the store so that the winners in life could partake. I left, figuring I could, since I am in Land Of A Thousand Wal-marts, just go to the nearest one of those and pick my book up with no fuss and no wait. And no teeth, if you follow the stereotype.

But Wal-mart, if you can believe it, was worse off than Borders. The line looped through the food department, crossing through Women's Apparel, Diapers, Electronics, Toys, Home Furnishings, Home Dentistry, School Supplies, Books and Magazines, Greeting Cards, Automotive, Marital Aids, Garden, and back around to Children's Wear. I exaggerate not when I say there were at least a thousand people in line there. So I left, giving up. As I crossed the parking lot to my car, we were heckled by a foursome of college-aged morons out on the balcony of their apartment. One of the stoners shouted, "Dudes, it's just a book!"

That should have bothered me, especially since those idiots represent the future of our once-great country. But fuck them, the fact that this many people are this excited about a BOOK (instead of Nascar, or a football game, or killing people of another colour, or even a TV show) makes me think, more than anything in recent memory, that there's actually hope for society.

I took my niece back so she could sleep, and resigned myself to not buying a copy in the middle of the night. But then tyranist called me, on his way to getting his own book, and I believe he recommended I go to the local grocery store to get one. Grocery stores tend to be open twenty-four hours, and I got back in my car and headed over, still chatting with my friend. Turns out, I was only in line for four or five minutes, and then I had the book (I got mine before tyr got his, even). I went home and made it through the first couple chapters before passing out.

Terrified of the kind of spoilers that plagued me with the last book,* I avoided most contact with the outside world, stayed away from the internet, and dug in hard to read the book through that weekend. It was difficult, though, since, as with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I'd much prefer to ration it out, still reading the darn thing come mid-August.

Tyranist finished the book on that Sunday, and try as I might, I couldn't quite make it. He wanted to talk about it, and many of the people at work too wanted to discuss what they were reading, what they had heard, or what they "just had a feeling" was going to happen at the end of the book. I read when I could on Monday, and promised tyranist I'd finish it before we went to a soccer game Tuesday night. Finally, I just had to call in sick on Tuesday to finish it (I only ended up missing about a quarter of my day, though).

And it was a great book. I suppose that goes without saying--why would I be writing this if I hated it?--but it was an experience just following Harry James Potter from a baby at the beginning of the first book to where he ends up at the end.

And I had no idea I could be so moved by a novel. I cried multiple times, and was not alone; I had a friend start crying just recounting his favourite part of the book to me. This is my PEARL HARBOR experience, but I doubt I'll have as many scoffers when I talk about this one.**

There were so many threads tied together and picked up on from previous novels that I
probably missed a dozen of them (one of the characters I thought was new was not only in the previous books, but was in the movies as well), and every time I picked up on one, I got the satisfying, happy feeling that I was being rewarded for having followed along this closely for so long***.

The book was fantastic. I don't read as much as tyranist does--but then, only people confined to a hospital bed read as much as he does--but this is the best ending to a book series I've ever read.

I'm not really one of those people that only likes something as long as nobody else appreciates it, so I'm happy J.K. Rowling has become so successful. If one out of ten readers experiences the joy, frustration, fear, love, pain, laughter, excitement, and satisfaction that I did, she totally deserves her fame and fortune. I'll pick up whatever she writes next, and if it's a third as good as the second-worst "Harry Potter" book, it'll still be twice as good as the best thing I could manage.

Thanks, Jo.

R. Rowling Outfield

*I limited my reading of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to a chapter a day, and one of my coworkers who knew I was reading it came up to my desk and gave away the ending. I never figured out why he'd do that . . . I guess I didn't give him a chance, as I beat him to death with a fireplace poker, then set fire to his house.
And here's the best part: they laid the blame on this big shot banker who got tossed into the Shank for life.

**Someday, I would like to talk about why PEARL HARBOR was such a moving movie experience for me. I doubt it would justify why I liked it so much in anybody's eyes, but I'd still like to explain. Only not today.

***"Buffy" does that too; there are jokes in nearly every episode that are only funny if you know what event in an older episode they're referring to.

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