Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tell Me A Story

I came across this article the other day and it seemed like one of those things that would make a great premise for a short story. It was an item that might belong in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg with imaginative drawings meant to inspire creativity. (In middle school we used to choose random pages from the book as short story prompts which started some of my best creative writing days.)

In hearing about the mystery woman in white, my imagination took off and I was instantly formulating a Stardust meets Little Mermaid meets Princess Bride fantasy tale of mystery, lost love and high adventure. I should have struck while the iron was hot and written something but I missed my chance. Today I read the follow up article and it came as a not so pleasant reminder that reality is far too eager to dispel imagination. Real life always has an explanation.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

HP Predictions

Okay. I just finished HBP and I feel the need to set forth some predictions for Deathly Hallows. This isn't me being psychic and these aren't spoilers because I have no inside information (even though I have tried unsuccessfully to convince Tony to plan a Mission Impossible style coup to break into the Scholastic warehouse and smuggle me out a book), these are plain and simple guesses similar to my Deathly Hallows - Horcrux connection of my previous post. In other words, this is how I would write it if I were J.K. Rowling. And for those not into the whole Harry Potter craze, I'll be back to normal ramblings soon.

***NOTE: If you haven't read Half-Blood Prince, this might give some things away so stop reading now.***

Severus Snape - As far as the friend or foe debate goes I'm fully voting for the friend category. (Tony's betting foe so we have an official wager going) My evidence is that Dumbledore trusted him fully regardless of what anyone else said or did so if Snape really is evil you're basically saying that Dumbledore (the cleverest wizard in Rowling's universe) was fooled. I hate character inconsistencies like that so if Severus is a baddie I'm going to be more than a little miffed - plus I'll lose a bet. Also, Snape hated Harry's father which explains his animosity towards Harry but it's worth noting that in the final scene, Snape prevents Harry from performing unforgivable curses - if Snape was evil wouldn't he want Harry to join the dark side? Plus, Snape was also protecting Draco. Which leads me to my next speculation...

Draco Malfoy - Come on J.K. You've set the kid up to be entirely one dimensional with his Potter rivalry and Mudblood loathing. This might be too much wishful thinking but I'd love the final book to bring some sort of redemption or enlightenment to his character. Oddly enough we saw a caring side of Draco's mother in book 6 and even though Lucious is a total tool I think there could be a really cool story line involving the youngest Malfoy's conversion. And speaking of characters that will surprise me....

Regalus Black - If you haven't read the books lately you might not even remember the name Regalus, but he's the briefly mentioned brother of Harry's godfather Sirius. I'm pretty convinced that he's going to be important because at the end of Half-Blood Prince there's a note with the fake Horcrux signed "R.A.B" Anyone else catch that? This either refers to Regalus or to some yet-to-be-introduced new character, the former being the much less cheesy option. We're meant to assume that Regalus is dead but in the world of "If I were J.K. Rowling" he would be secretly hidden by the Order of the Phoenix - there's a bit of dialog between Dumbledore and Draco where Dumbledore talks about the Order's ability to hide people from Voldemort by making them appear to have died. It would be supremely cool if this was actually significant dialog and not just filler. But about not quite dead people....

Albus Dumbledore - Unfortunately I think he's really gone. I'd love to be wrong on this one but keep in mind that previous headmasters have spoken to Harry through their portraits before so even without a LOTR-ripoff Gandalf-style resurrection we can bet that Dumbledore will still be around to give Harry advice and guidance. So the main question is not who's not dead but who's going to die....

??? - I really don't know. Despite what rumors say I don't think it will be Harry. Or at least I really hope it's NOT Harry. Rowling's written some downer books but I can't see her ending the whole thing with the death of her hero. More likely I think the tragedy will strike Ron or Hermione (if I have to place a bet it's on Miss Granger - sad!) and I would suspect that some other minor characters might be leaving too (Hagrid? McGonagall? A Weasly brother?). If Harry and Ginny make it I think I'll be able to cope but dang it, Rowling, why ya gotta play it like this??!?

So there you have it. Let the record show that I'm writing all this down before the book release so that I can say "I saw that coming" or "WHAT?!?!!" with accurate honesty. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Second Time Around

I've been reading a slew of good books lately. Including but not limited to 1776, The Thirteenth Tale, and Farewell Summer - the last being the sequel to Dandelion Wine (much to my shock to see it on the library shelf and exclaim "There's a sequel to Dandelion Wine?!?!" but my fascination with Bradbury and DW is a story for another time). Most recently, I've picked up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the second time. Yeah, I know I'm being overly trendy by rereading it before Deathly Hallows comes out (very, very soon!), but I find that I'm seeing the book in whole different light than the first time I read it. I originally marked it with a LT 2 star rating but now I think I may have been too harsh. I won't give away any spoilers but I think on my first read the ending was a bit too traumatic and I just brushed off the rest of the novel as crappy due to my disappointment. It makes me realize that there are probably a few more books out there that I judged too harshly too quickly and a more objective second read through them would probably be a good thing (unless it's by Dan Brown because I refuse to waste any more seconds of my life on poorly written over-hyped fluff....too harsh?? Uhhhh...sorry?). But on the other hand there are countless good books out there waiting to be read, so why should I waste my time on something that didn't impress me the first time around? The ultimate dilemma.

On a side note, about Harry Potter (and this is really not a paragraph worth reading if you're not an HP fan) - it really bugs me that people keep calling the last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows when in actuality it's Hallows. This leads to the instant debunking of the theory that Godric's Hollow has anything to do with the title. So to all the thirteen year olds that actively subscribe to and propagate that myth, I just want to say "You're wrong!!!" Okay, I really only want to say it to the junior high kids heatedly discussing the issue on the Metra last week but anyways.... *deep calming breaths* So what are the Deathly Hallows? Well, my suspicions are that if you consider "hallows" from the origin of "holy" we're talking about some sort of sacred (but deathly!) items or objects. Horcruxes, anyone? Oh well. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Happy reading to all and to all a book light!

Deathly Hallows Countdown:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

That Time of Year Again

I know last year I had a huge list of reasons why I love the Home Run Derby, but watching last night's slugger show-down gave me even more. First off , I love that it's all about the families. The narrowly third place finishing Matt Holliday's pitcher was introduced as his brother and there's something just way too cute about seeing big-shot ball players hanging out with their kids. The look on Albert Pujols, Jr.'s face as his dad won a hit-off to qualify for the second round was indescribably adorable. And equally awing was the older Albert celebrating with his pint-sized biggest fan. I also love the casual atmosphere that surrounds the event. I joked that you could take an interesting survey of favorite Gatorade flavors from the scenes of the athletes hanging out "drinking" with each other. The cameras are pretty much unable to capture faces that aren't smiling and joking and for a season marked all too often by anger and fighting (for the Cubs, especially) it was a refreshing change. Some might even argue that winner Vladimir Guerrero took the trophy because of a bat kissed by slugger David Ortiz. After Vlad's first three outs, Ortiz made a hilarious show of presenting the new bat to Guerrero who proceeded to enter the next round with five homers - including a crushing 503' shot! It's still every bit the competition, but it's nice to see players and fans unwind, let loose and just truly enjoy baseball.

Congrats to Vladimir Guerrero - winner of the 2007 Home Run Derby!

As much as I would have loved to see a Cubbie in the race, or to have Pujols take the win as a "nyah-nyah" to everyone who hates the NL Central - I can't say that I'm at all disappointed by the outcome of the night. I mean, I gotta cheer for Guerrero, right? ;) I see the picture above and, to me, it captures everything that the HRD is about: A swing, a hit, and a huge smile.