Tag Archives: Harry Potter

I’m Still Wild About Harry!

So young, so innocent!

Remember how the three main “Harry Potter” characters—Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)—looked in the first movie a decade ago?

Hermione and Ron: Fated to be together

My, how wonderfully they’ve grown up and into their more-mature roles as heroes in the final “Harry Potter” movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

I have just one word for the eighth and final HP movie: Brilliant!

We waited until 9:05 a.m. last Saturday to see the flick (along with a lot of other sleep-deprived, matinee money-saving crazies). Of course, it wasn’t as good as the book, but it did bring the entire franchise to a satisfying close. We laughed, we perched on the edges of our seats during the battle for Hogwarts, we applauded when Mrs. Weasley uttered her wonderful line against Bellatrix Lestrange, and, of course, I cried at the end. It was great!

Harry vs. Voldemort: Good vs. evil

Sidebar: Does anyone not know who wins in the end in the seven books’ ongoing battle of good vs. evil, Harry or Voldemort? Well, the Mister didn’t, and he didn’t like reading about the epilogue that made it obvious who was triumphant.

Neville Longbottom superstar!

My favorite character in Part 2 was Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). Not only has he changed the most over the years, turning into a super hottie (excuse the minor cougar excursion), but he showed amazing courage and leadership. As loyal book readers know the entire series could’ve been about Neville instead of Harry, so it was nice that he finally got to show his mettle.

Was Snape really good or evil?

I liked how Snape’s story was told. It’s obvious why he had such conflicting feelings about Harry. It also confirmed who he truly was loyal to. Alan Rickman has done a magnificent job with this easy-to-hate character.

I’ve read a lot of criticism about the epilogue, but I truly loved it! It brought a fitting close to what has been a magnificent run for J.K. Rowling’s amazing series. It’s nice to be reminded that love and friendship can conquer all.

I can’t wait to see the movie again!

Cozy Black Friday

Furby: Not very cute but very much in demand in 1998

Did anyone get up early and stand in line to score some great Black Friday deals?

Not me! I stayed cozy and warm as the temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight from yesterday’s high of 82. Plus it’s been raining this morning. Nothing seemed worth the effort.

I haven’t shivered in a post-Thanksgiving Day queue since 1998 when I wanted to buy a Furby, that ugly, electronic, must-have toy. I did get one, but it never left the box in our house.

A much-cuter Humphrey Beanie Buddy

The Furby merely was a means to an end: I traded it for an equally in-demand Humphrey Beanie Buddy. Both parties walked away very satisfied.

Of course, I do have to go shopping today or tomorrow, because Chanukah has the nerve to start Wednesday, December 1st (the first night). My older son will return to college Sunday, and I’d like him to be able to take his gifts with him (to be opened on the proper nights as listed on the wrapping paper).

Think I’ll wait until the last possible minute before leaving the house!

Thanksgiving Fun

Will good (Harry Potter) triumph vs. evil (Voldemort)?

We finally saw “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” yesterday morning. I loved it! It stayed fairly true to the book and was filled with action and passion. The scenery was spectacular! Totally unexpected. I also liked that amid all the drama, it was so lighthearted. The audience cracked up so many times.

Fair warning, though: If you haven’t read the book, don’t expect to understand everything. The Mister was lucky that he had me to whisper explanations in his ear.

Baby Dillon watches TV with his Uncle Daniel.

In the afternoon we drove to my brother-in-law Mike’s house for our Thanksgiving meal. My sister-in-law Paula is a great cook, and it’s always fun to spend time with them, their kids Melissa (and her boyfriend Andy) and Daniel, and the Mister’s sister, Carol.

Grandpa Mike and Dillon watch a football game together.

And who could resist baby Dillon, who is almost five months old? He’s so cute and so aware of everything going on around him. He’s going to make holiday gatherings fun for years to come!

“Stop bothering me, Mom!”

This one? Not so much!

Percy Jackson vs. Harry Potter: Demigod vs. Wizard

Instead of seeing “Valentine’s Day” on that holiday, we instead went to “Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief.” That’s what happens when you let the kids vote.

The #1 son had read the Rick Riordan fantasy and was keen to see how it played out on the big screen. I had been intrigued by the trailer (“It’s just a pen!”), hoping that all the good parts hadn’t been revealed in it.

Good news: They weren’t!

For those of you who haven’t heard of the book or the movie, Percy Jackson is surprised to find out that he’s a demigod, the son of Poseidon. Yes, even though he can sit on the bottom of a swimming pool for seven minutes! Apparently, Olympus gods (not to be confused with Olympics gods) mate with mortals but aren’t allowed to help raise their kids. Sounds like the kind of daddy issues we see all the time on “Lost!”

Percy goes on an adventure (helping to save the world, natch) with two other demigods. The movie is action-packed; I was on the edge of my seat for most of the computer-generated scenes (which were terrific). It’s well-acted and leads nicely into what surely will be yet another movie, because there are five books in the series. What’s great about the novels is that they teach kids Greek mythology (Riordan was an English and history teacher) in an entertaining, unforgettable way.

Uma Thurman made a spell-binding Medusa (note the iPod).

After seeing the movie and recommending it to others, I thought I’d check out Rotten Tomatoes and see what the people who get paid to watch films thought. Apparently, half agreed with me.

The half that didn’t see things my way (so, of course, they’re wrong) seemed fixated on something that never occurred to me while I was sitting next to the Mister rooting on Percy: The book/movie is similar to those featuring one Harry Potter, a literary favorite of the #1 son and myself. Here’s what some of those cranky reviewers had to say:

“So trite and ludicrous it is no threat to the Harry Potter franchise.”—Jackie K. Cooper

“. . . an attempt to replicate the phenomenon that is Harry Potter.”—Robin Clifford

“Very American, very crass and very underwhelming.”—Allan Hunter


“Maybe if you’re aged between eight and 12, or exceptionally dim-witted, you may not notice that this is a tenth-rate rip-off of Harry Potter, with Greek mythology taking the place of magic.”—Christopher Tookey

Double ouch! That one stung. Because if I’m not between the ages of 8 and 12 (which, of course, I am not), then I guess I’m exceptionally dim-witted. But then I noticed that Tookey writes for Britain’s “Daily Mail” (who can name the Beatles song that references that publication?). He might opine that being a Texan would make me even dimmer-witted than most Americans. Good thing I still consider myself to be a Midwesterner!

By the way, it can’t rip off Harry, because Riordan wrote his tale in 1994 (though it wasn’t published until 2005); J.K. Rowling’s first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” was published in 1997.

“A slab of market research in search of an actual movie.”—Tim Robey

What? I guess I’m too dim-witted to understand this sentence.

“While the Hogwarts saga may be getting long in the tooth, at least it has decent characters and a sense of humour. This has neither.”—David Edwards (yet another British reviewer)

Pierce “Giddyap!” Brosnan

No decent characters? Two words: Pierce Brosnan. Who played a centaur, for goodness sakes!

Here’s my take on Percy vs. Harry: Of course, both main characters are going to have two good friends. And one key similarity that most people might miss is that in order to stay safe, both Percy and Harry have had to live with disgusting people (for Percy, it’s his stepfather; for Harry, it’s the Dursleys).

But Percy was a mama’s boy, which I loved, of course. Poor Harry didn’t really know his parents. And the “Lightning Thief” movie had such a clever use of a shiny iPod—no magical iPods in Harry’s world.

The universal themes of friendship, loyalty, and love that both films espouse aren’t copyrighted by HP and Rowling. Any writer can explore and present them in their own way. I think Percy and Harry can stand both on their own and side by side as wonderful characters.

If you want to be transported to a different, mythological world, go see Percy Jackson (especially with kids). It’s a great ride! Oh, and be sure to stay for the credits.

Seattle Trip Day 3: The Zoo and the Wedding

Cute ocelot photo alert!

Cute ocelot photo alert!

Remember our Pensacola trip back in June when we went to that decidedly under-animaled (yeah, I made that one up) zoo? While in Seattle, we visited the Woodland Park Zoo and more than made up for that other woeful experience.

Golden lion tamarin

Golden lion tamarin

This zoo had plenty of animals to look at. With a discount coupon, it was priced just a little more than the Pensacola place but with so much more to do. No train, though, but we definitely could live without that.

A gorilla looks out from his enclosed area.

A gorilla looks out from his enclosed area.

We experienced the zoo without an entourage of relatives, who all went their own way. We knew we’d see them later that day at the wedding.

The #2 son takes a photo in a tropical bird exhibit.

The #2 son takes a photo in a tropical bird exhibit.

The #2 son decided that, like me, he also wanted to see the zoo in a different way, so he used my Olympus Tough Style-6000 point and shoot camera to take a million or so photos. Fun for him and fun for me watching him.

A Humboldt penguin goes for a swim.

A Humboldt penguin goes for a swim.

What #2 liked best, of course, were the Humboldt penguins, which normally are found in South America. They were a little harder to photograph than the blackfoot penguins we saw at Pensacola’s Gulfarium. But that didn’t stop us both from trying.

The #1 son enjoys Dippin’ Dots.

The #1 son enjoys Dippin’ Dots.

The boys always like to have a little treat at the zoo. This time it was Dippin’ Dots. Remember when this confection was called the ice cream of the future? I guess the future is now for Dippin’ Dots only at zoos and amusement parks.

A rat snake stares at me.

A rat snake stares at me.

The Woodland Park Zoo had lots of neat exhibits. Fortunately for me, they kept the reptiles behind glass. When I’m in a reptile building, I always think about Harry Potter letting that snake loose in the first book before he knew he was a wizard. Glad he wasn’t at the zoo with us!

A Panamanian golden frog

A Panamanian golden frog

With a nice mixture of indoor exhibits and outdoor habitats, the zoo featured a lot of interesting animals in different ways to view them.

A hippo peeks out from the murky water.

A hippo peeks out from the murky water.

Laughing kookaburra

Laughing kookaburra

Chilean flamingos

Chilean flamingos

The zoo had a bunch of cool brass animal statues all around the park, too.

#2 and a "raven"

#2 and a "raven" nevermore

#2 was especially captivated by ravens “sitting” on a bench.

Animalus Textus

Animalus Textus

Perhaps some of the zoo’s animals were just as captivated by these two animalus textus!

And the wedding

My niece Beck and her father, my ex-BIL

My niece Beck and her father, my ex-brother-in-law

Of course, the real reason we traveled to Seattle was to see my #1 niece, the Beck, marry Ken. They had an outdoor ceremony in beautiful 80-degree weather (very much enjoyed by the Houston set!).

Will the #1 son ever smile in a family photo?

Will the #1 son ever smile in a family photo?

Yep, our crew cleans up nicely! The indoor wedding reception featured delicious food and some dancing ops, mainly for #2.

The #1 cousin dances with the #8 cousin.

The #1 cousin dances with the #8 cousin.

I take a turn with my younger son.

I take a turn on the dance floor with my younger son.

The wedding provided a wonderful ending to a fun day for us. We welcomed Ken and his young daughter Lily into our extended family.

The Beck and Ken after the ceremony

The Beck and Ken after the ceremony

Hope Ken doesn’t think he married into a zoo of a clan!

A Positive College Visit!


A statue that has nothing to do with UTSA!

A statue that has nothing to do with UTSA!

Despite the misspellings on the sign and a statue that has nothing to do with the campus, the family walked away with a very favorable impression of the University of Texas at San Antonio yesterday. We still have one more college to look at, but we definitely could imagine the #1 son as a Roadrunner! The campus is much smaller than UT-Austin. It’s pretty and looks fairly new. Best of all, there are Macs all over the place—iMacs, eMacs, and MacPros in classrooms and computer labs. We could’ve stopped right there!

We enjoyed an hour campus tour and then met with the head of the music technology department (it offers a 16-hour certificate like a minor) and the head of the communications department (#1 probably will pursue a technical communications degree).

Even #2 became interested in UTSA when he heard about its rec center, which has a lazy river, weight rooms, big-screen TVs, and everything else that can be done while stalling to start one’s homework (not to name names!). I doubt that #1 will so much as step inside the rec center, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

194-buc-ceesWe enjoyed an easy drive to and from San Antonio. The highlight, as always, was a stop at Buc-ee’s in Luling on the way home. They have amazing bathrooms (yes, really worth holding for!), as well as all kinds of food and souvenirs. Love that place and especially love the Beaver Nuggets (aka sugar crack). Total sugar high! JJ, the organizational wiz next door, and I buy each other Nuggets when we stop at Buc-ee’s. They’re about to open a Buc-ee’s close by, and I’m going to have to use a lot of willpower to keep away from it. Unfortunately, it’s right by my dental office . . . hmmm, I wonder if the dentists will be sponsoring the Beaver Nuggets? Beaver Nuggets = sugar = cavities. It’s a dental-marketing dream!

Thinking time

fred-weasleyWhen we travel, we like to play “I’m thinking of a . . . .” We’ve been thinking of movies, TV shows, fictional characters, Beanie babies, etc., for years now, and we always have fun seeing who can stump the other three the longest. Yesterday I was thinking of a Harry Potter character, Fred Weasley, one of Ron’s twin brothers. It was finally  narrowed down to the Weasleys (it already had been established that it was human, male, magical, and a student) when the Mister stepped up to the plate.

The Mister: “Is it one of the twins?”

Me: “Yes.”

The Mister: “Is it Percy?”

Strikeout! Back to the bench! Raucous laughter by the boys and me.

Me: “Percy isn’t one of the twins!” Which didn’t narrow it down enough for #2, who guessed George, making it very easy for #1 to win the round.

eBookin’ it

I did a little reading of my eBook during the trip (but not while the car was moving, because I tend to get carsick if I read). I’m up to chapter four, and I really miss reading an actual book. The iPhone is too small for serious reading, and I prefer having a big page to a small screen. It’s going to take me awhile to finish the eBook, but finish it I shall!