Archive for November, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

November 20, 2010

Its All Here … Waiting For Next Time.

Pretty obviously I intended to finish writing about this (and the last book) before yesterday but … that didn’t happen.  So now I don’t feel like focusing too much on the details of Half Blood Prince when Deathly Hallows is so present in my mind.  In that light here’s what I got out of it:

There’s a lot that happens in this book and, like all the others, it has a clear independent plot line but in light of the next book a lot of it starts to feel like setup.  Here’s just a few … of the top of my head but mostly in order:

  • Snape’s ambiguous behavior sets up his big reveal
  • Inheriting Kreature sets up living at Grimauld Place … and the locket Horcrux story
  • The Burrow visit sets up the wedding (and Shell Cottage)
  • Harry’s obsession with Draco (and Ron and Hermione’s constant dismissal of it) sets up the conflict of the three of them being on their own and on the road
  • All of Dumbledore’s collected Voldemort related memories set up the mystery of the next book
  • Hiding the Potions book sets up Ravenclaw’s diadem
  • Draco’s expelliarmus on Dumbledore sets up the Elder Wand Hallow

So that’s a lot of setup.  Not that there isn’t a goldmine of clues and foreshadowing in all the other five books too – its one of the things J.K. Rowling is most famous for.  But for me at least, with book seven staring me down from the shelf … and the next movie five days away … I’m seeing those nuggets everywhere.  The only thing to do, then, is to press on!

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Fun with Watercolors

November 18, 2010

In lieu of fabric based craft project I’ve been playing around with my old watercolors lately.  Its relaxing and fits easily into the evening between making dinner, watching something or other and reading.  I picked up a book from the library which encouraged me to get out my masking fluid again and give that a try.  The below three pictures are examples (note: they’re copied from exercises in books, not original compositions).  The fourth one is all me … which is why its really not as interesting.

Hey there, Harry Potter Searchers

November 18, 2010

There are a lot of you passing through the site lately (I can’t imagine why) and you might want to check out some of my other Harry Potter related stuff.  Feel free to check out all my Potter related posts including:


That Hard, Blazing Look: Ginny Weasley

November 16, 2010

I love this girl.  The little sister to six big brothers who all think they know best, Ginny Weasley takes no crap from anyone.  She’ll catch the snitch under pressure, stand up for her friends, break the rules with impunity and hex you if you get in her way … or even ask too many annoying questions.  She’s great from day one but stands out even more in Book Six, where I’m tempted to draw little hearts around her name every time it comes up.

A Match for Harry

Maybe its just the power of propinquity but Harry and Ginny really “get” each other.  He thinks she’s really funny, laughs at her Phlegm imitations, appreciates her back up on the Quiddich pitch and generally understands how great she is.  She is one of the few people who’s actually able to see him as a person rather than a celebrity.  She doesn’t put up with his self pity for a moment (I love the scene in Order of the Phoenix when she chews him out for worrying that Voldemort was possessing him and not coming to her for help … as she’s the only person he knows who has some experience with that particular problem).  When Harry’s upset, Ginny sometimes knows before Ron and Hermione do and she’s usually ready to help out as when Read the rest of this entry »

“I think I’m feeling a bit rebellious:” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

November 11, 2010

I love this book.  As Harry, Ron and Hermione progress into their teen years they start having a better and better understanding of the world around them.  I can’t really say they get more involved in defending themselves and fighting the dark arts (because they have already taken on Voldemort three times, saved the school, and two the lives of two innocents at this point) but they get their hands dirty with a little more self awareness now.  At this point it feels like they are less stumbling from one misadventure to another and more using what they’ve learned to accomplish their own goals.  Which is fun.

A window into the world of adults

In this book more than any other Harry and his friends start seeing the adults around them as human beings with strengths and weaknesses and hopes and fears.  This realization isn’t a lightning bolt – its been coming on for a while.  In the first book they assume every adult (except Snape) is powerful, worthy and good.  In book two they are still shocked to learn that Gilderoy Lockhart is planning to run out on his responsibility to help Ginny.  In the fourth they can see that Barty Crouch Sr is addled, that Karkarov is spineless and Hagrid has identity issues. Read the rest of this entry »

The Trademark Three Part Harry Potter Ending

November 7, 2010

I’ve just finished reading Order of the Phoenix and I’ll be posting about it soon (when I’ve gathered my thoughts a bit but I had to kick off by celebrating that J.K. Rowling classic, the three-part ending which comes standard in each book.

Part 1: The Action Set Piece

The dramatic climax in which Harry, Ron and Hermione (and occasionally someone else) rush headlong into danger with the best of intentions.  Through some twist of fate everybody else falls behind and Harry ends up taking on Voldemort (or a troupe of dementors) on his own.  Deep sighs of relief all around.  But its not over yet …

Part 2: The Hospital Wing Tell All

Rowling must be a fan of Agatha Christie (I’m not) because she just loves to use this ending style in which the smartest person in the room sits everybody down and re-explains the entire plot, adding in key pieces of information which re-frame everything in a way the reader could never have predicted.  The Hospital Wing Tell All usually involves Dumbledore sitting by Harry’s bedside (although sometimes the scene is moved to his office or someone else’s) and telling Harry (and us) all sorts of things that would have been useful to know a while ago.

Part 3: The Hogwarts Express Pick-me-up

Since the Tell all phase often contains some pretty bleak news (Harry is destined to battle Voldemort to the death, e.g.) we need a little pepping up before that chime-y cheerful music kicks in at the end of the audio book … and to keep us waiting eagerly for the next installment in several years time.  So we always get a little bit of humor and often a little bit of revenge on the school train.  This often involves hexing Draco Malfoy (which is effective but a bit unfair) or intimidating the Dursleys (who totally deserve it).

Here’s how the formula plays out in the first five books.  Spoiler Alert: if you don’t already know the endings to each HP book, you should stop reading.  But in that case why are you reading this in the first place? Read the rest of this entry »

Bats Aren’t Bugs!

November 5, 2010

My mom found a bat in the greenhouse last week!  Is my reaction eek! or yay!?  Well I wasn’t there and the picture is really *really* cute so I’m going with aw!.  But I was extremely disappointed in her for not using this scientific information in her otherwise informative post about bats:

Many thanks to mimosas on the front lawn for making this available to the world of the internet!

Don’t Forget to Vote!

November 2, 2010

Don't forget

Hey there, cats and kittens.  Don’t forget to get out there and do your civic duty today.  Its fun.  Its easy.  And it makes a difference.

Homemade Halloween

November 1, 2010

KJ was up to visit me this weekend and we celebrated Halloween in much the same way as last year … by making our own candy.  In this case we tried the recipe for Peanut Butter Cups provided on Have Cake, Will Travel and they couldn’t have been easier or more delicious.

I won’t bother to reprise the recipe (which basically calls for chocolate, peanut butter, salt and sugar) but we made it without the graham cracker crumbs but did add some flour to the peanut butter filling in our second batch to thicken it slightly. Since we were using very all natural peanut butter  it was a little soft.  We also learned that it was important to get the chocolate equally thick on top and bottom (and not too thick in either place) to prevent explosions on the first bite.

But basically they were AMAZING.  I didn’t think it was possible to make chocolate more delicious, but adding a pinch of salt … turned it into an unbeatable substance!

I should credit KJ for really ALL the work of making these.  I helped by making some of the real food we at at other points during the weekend, taking photos and being an enthusiastic tester.

Moral of the Story: Kids, do try this at home!