Monday, July 30, 2007

media sensations

The news from my tax guy last Friday was non-shocking, which is reassuring. Actually, he thinks that the amount I have to pay in self-employment taxes might be almost equaled by the refund I’ll get from taxes withheld from the payroll checks I get. That’d be nice. At any rate, I’m well prepared to pay what I owe, so there we are.

It may only be the end of July, but the squirrels in my yard are acting like fall is already here. They scurried around all weekend picking up crabapples to nibble and store. Some are even bold enough to come up onto the deck while the cats and I sit here. Too bad I never remember to bring my camera outside.

Yesterday was a blissful day of media gluttony. I spent most of the day in my hammock finishing Harry Potter. (Summary: Selflessness trumps selfishness.) I enjoyed Mrs. Weasley opening up a can of wizarding whup-ass there at the end. I also appreciated Neville’s role in the finale. He’s certainly come a long way.

However, I spent the entire book wondering where the hell Snape was, and I’m really disappointed he didn’t get more ink this time around. And although it would have made the book big enough to qualify for its own zip code, I wish the action had cut back and forth between Harry & Co. and Dumbledore’s Army back at Hogwarts, or at least that we could have heard via correspondence what they were up to. It would have helped the pacing. But I do understand the need for Our Hero to feel as isolated as possible.

Other things that annoyed me:

  • Harry Potter and the Endless Camping Trip. A pacing issue. The only reason they had to camp and ponder so damn long was so a whole school year would pass in this book like it did in all the other books. That was too contrived.
  • Hermione Granger and the Ceaseless Flow of Tears, which I mentioned the other day.
  • Hermione Granger and Her Largely Expository Function. Every series these days seems to have a Spock/Data/ubergeek character that conveniently supplies vital information at just the right time. (See also Gus in Psych, Marco in The 4400, Willow in Buffy, the Lone Gunmen in The X-Files, etc.) I know such devices are necessary in order to move the plot along, but I’d like to see them made just a wee bit less slamming obvious. Could the main characters maybe do their own homework once in a while?
  • J.K. Rowling and the Tarnishing of Dumbledore. I saw no point in making this grand hero out to be so flawed; posthumously done, it amounts to speaking ill of the dead, not unlike Rita Skeeter does. The “nobody’s perfect” lesson got driven home in countless other ways. Why not leave Harry’s idol intact? Why can’t we imagine there really are people around who are as steadily good as Dumbledore seemed?
  • J.K. Rowling and the Offstage Demises. Almost all the big character deaths happen offstage, as it were — we’re told of them after the fact rather than shown them happening. Whatever happened to "show, don't tell"? This story is meant to Bravely and Honestly Depict the Horrors of War. But there wasn’t room in this novel for multiple points of view. And maybe if Harry — and his young readers — had had to personally witness each of the deaths, it would have been just too traumatic. But the offstage tragedies are too convenient, too. I picture the author sitting at her keyboard, halfway through a bottle of merlot, mumbling, “How can I make this even harder on Harry? . . . Ah, the hell with it, another friend bites the dust.”

Good book and good series, definitely. But I was very tired by the end.

Later I caught up on some video goodies as well.

Geek points of interest:

  • The building used as the 4400 Center in The 4400 and as MadaCorp HQ in Kyle XY is the same building — the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia. Both series are set in Seattle but filmed in Vancouver.
  • Kyle XY bad guy Ballantine is played by actor Conrad Coates, who also plays badass warlock Morgan in The Dresden Files.
  • Nicolas Lea, best known as Krycheck from The X-Files, appears as another dickwad of dubious allegiance in Kyle XY.
  • Actress Chelan Simmons, who plays lovable slut Hillary on Kyle XY, also appeared on Psych as a homicidal sorority girl.
  • This week’s Psych included a reference to “spontaneous psychic krav maga.” The martial arts geek in me laughed out loud at that. Also at Shawn’s technique.
  • Peter Krause plays a lead character both in The Lost Room and Six Feet Under. Coincidentally, I’ve got the former on hand right now and the latter coming in a few days.

Apparently I watch way too much TV, even though I don’t have cable.

Which reminds me, I might go see The Simpsons Movie today, just cuz I can.

I really need to clean house and go to the grocery store. Why am I still typing?


Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of Fries With That, I wish

I went to the latest Harry Potter movie at noon, just because I could. It didn't do much for me. Truth? It was a struggle to sit through despite my empty bladder.

It's been too long since I read the book, I guess, so I was not able to mentally fill in all the stuff that got left out of the screen version — and even with my feeble memory, that seemed to be quite a lot. Even at 2.25 hours, the movie seemed rushed. No lingering explanatory scenes, no sir! No explanation for the sudden but silent appearances of Ginny Weasley! Leave those loose ends dangling! Chop chop! Churn this thing out before Radcliffe’s beard gets any heavier! It was like a very long after-school special disguised as a goth music video. And I flaming hate music videos. And ASSes.

This does not diminish my love for the HP stories, of course. I’ll be buying my copy of The Hallowed Book later in the week.

And speaking of familiars . . .

The cats have spent the day at the vet for their semi-annual exam. They were so agitated that they had to be sedated for the entire event, which means I can't pick them up until 4:30 and they'll still be groggy then. So I'll skip classes to stay home with them — because last time they came home groggy, when I locked them in the office for their own protection, they set off the security alarm, causing the security company to call my mother and scare her half to death. Trying to avoid that this time.

All right, time for me to turn on the air conditioner and cut some of this humidity. For once it’s not just my own hot air gooeying the place up.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

dying to know

You want to know who dies at the end of the last Harry Potter book? I'll tell you who dies.

Tony Soprano

Movin' on.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Welcome Back, Potter

Great things about today

Check out this magical mashup of Welcome Back, Kotter and Harry Potter. I found the link via Boing Boing.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

green grass, red birds, blue sky

Great things about today

  • The weather. This is what summer in Paradise must feel like. Thank you to whoever put this together.
  • I thought I had to go to a shindig for Online U this afternoon, but I don’t. That means I have the rest of the day free. Bonus!
  • The lawn looks and smells freshly mowed. The laundry is done and hung up. No more chores. The rest of my day really is free.
  • Speaking of my yard: I feared my new lilac and spirea shrubs were goners. They were looking good before I left for the reunion, but a searing week with no water left the poor things mighty crispy by the time I returned. But I’ve been soaking them and talking nice to them all week, and guess what! Buds on the lilac and tiny new leaves on the spirea!
  • There’s a cardinal in one of the trees shaking her tail feathers in the spray each time the sprinkler arcs high enough. The cardinals seem to enjoy a shower almost every time I run the sprinkler near a tree. I think about installing a birdbath for them — but then I remember that Warren is a pretty good hunter, and the bath would only serve as bait for unsuspecting birds.
  • I might be able to help a friend start doing something she wants to do. And a friend might have a business lead for me. See, it all comes around.

Two things I really should do tomorrow: (a) check with Sela about when they’re going to remove the dumpster that’s been blocking my driveway for nearly a week and (b) get my call forwarding capability reinstated.

I could ride my bike to the post office later today. I could empty the dishwasher. And I could start on one of the projects on my desk. But none of that has to happen today. I could return to the hammock and the far-away world created by Michael Chabon in the The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Yep. That’s the plan.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

my my my

My family
Been busy. Reunion followed by guests in my home. But it’s all gone quiet now.

The guests were Sister-san, CNE, and (Grand)Mother Media. CNE was a delightful playmate who wore her poor old auntie out running around the park, the yard, and the house. She now has better communication skills than 30% of the adults I know. Plus, she happily eats all her bloccori and her hair is long enough for a ponytail now. My wee CNE is really growing up.

She’s beginning to like longer bedtime stories, too, so I’m thinking of starting her on the Harry Potter books next month. Yes? Or should we stick with Dr. Seuss a while longer?

My kung fu
I had to deliver a kung fu smackdown earlier this week. Not the pretty, floaty kind where I wait serenely for my opponent to wear himself out, either. It was the sort of thing where I had to take a stance, root myself, and shut down the bullshit attack coming from Sela. I had to battle my way through the lower ranks to get to the operations manager, and by then I was ready to get really stern.

LTS, I spoke extremely firmly and insistently, but not bitchily, to the operations manager and eventually got what I wanted — i.e., for the company to do what they said they’d do when they said they’d do it. Goody for me.


Is any one else as jaw-droppingly amazed as I am at how defensive and pissy people — even people whose role is customer service — get when you suggest they keep their word and treat others with respect? Unbelievable. And unacceptable. I do not tolerate that kind of diaper-fill from people I’m paying to do a job.

So I got the project back on track, but the cost in angst and time spent babysitting those wankstains (not the work crews; the administrative weasels), when I could have been babysitting someone young enough to actually need it, was much too high. I will never, ever hire Sela again, and you shouldn’t, either.

My travels
I’m definitely going to Dragon*Con in Atlanta in September. Must make travel arrangements. Calling my dear friend and host MrP tonight.

I’m definitely going to see Rockapella in Denver in October. I had good fun with my best friend from high school during the reunion last week, and since she lives in Denver, I invited myself to her house and invited her and her husband to the show. Must contact uncle who lives near Denver and arrange side visit, then book tix.

I’m allegedly hosting friends for an SSQ concert, also in October. Must make guest list, acquire tix, decide where to buy dessert, etc.

My colleague
During staff meetings, a colleague doodles elaborate, densely furnished rooms with open doors and windows. What do you suppose that means?

My conclusion
OK, that about covers it. On with the show.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Class of '87: 20 years later

I had a good time over the 4th of July doing 20-year-reunion things with my high school class: a drinks & dinner social, a tour of our old school, a family potluck picnic, a float in the parade (complete with water balloons and squirt guns). We had a great turnout, and I got to talk with nearly everyone who showed up. It was nice to reconnect.

Below is a link to some of the photos I took over the last few days. You can leave comments on individual pictures, so if you know a name I've left out, please add it. Enjoy!

Class of '87: 20-year reunion