Category Archives: Harry Potter

Movie Review: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

harry_potter_half_blood_prince_poster7I’ve been neglecting my Mraz duties because I’ve been living in Potter land the last few weeks, rereading the books to get ready for the movie. I saw it at midnight, and here’s what I think, on three hours of sleep.

Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I don’t know if it’s the best Potter movie yet, but it’s very good, and definitely the funniest one so far, which is odd as it should be the darkest one yet. Teenagers are funny though, so it feels natural.

A lot had to be left out, and I don’t mind that we don’t see much Quidditch, that Hagrid is almost invisible, that we never see Dobby or Kreatcher, that Tonks and Lupin are an established couple so she isn’t moping around all over, or that SPEW is non-existent.

I would have liked to see:

The Dursleys.I can see why they didn’t want to start yet another movie with Harry at Privet Drive, but I really, really wanted to see Dumbledore tell them off. Also, the new beginning makes it sound like Harry was running all over the place, free as a bird, instead of pent up in his room, desperate to leave and get back to the wizarding world.

Neville. Well, we see him a lot, but he only speaks once. After building up the D.A. in Order of the Phoenix, it would have been nice to see Harry interact with him a little more, especially since he’s an important player in book seven (and my favorite second-string character). Seamus and Dean are both around and Crabbe and Goyle are shown for a split-second on the Hogwarts Express, and it’s nice to see so many familiar faces.

More Fred and George. Just because I think they’re hot.

A little context for what Dumbledore shows Harry. In the book, Dumbledore makes it very clear to Harry that they are going through these memories because Harry has to understand Voldemort to be able to defeat him. In the film, Harry is just suddenly in Dumbledore’s office talking about memories, without any explanation. There are a lot of jumpy cuts in the film, where you feel like maybe you missed a scene. I think they should add another half hour of material in, see if that helps.

Um, big fight scene at the end? Maybe it was a time and budget issue, but I can’t believe they had the Death Eaters walk in, watch Dumbledore die, then walk out again. Where’s the Order? Harry doesn’t even tell Ron and Hermione that he’s leaving the school (although I saw that scene in a preview, so they must have cut it), much less to watch out for trouble. And if there’s no Bill in this one, then maybe no wedding in the next one? Or maybe a wedding, but without Bill all cut up.

Without the fight scene, there’s also no regrouping afterward where Harry tells the Order about Snape, and they all decide he’s guilty. No one asks Harry where he was, and no one tries to get him to talk about Dumbledore’s mission. Which reminds me…

harry_potter_half_blood_prince_poster4Rufus Scrimgeour. I didn’t need to see a lot of him, but the Christmas scene where he asks Harry to promote the Ministry would have been a nice way to remind us that Harry isn’t just fighting the bad guys, he’s also not to keen on the “good” guys. “I must not tell lies” and all that.

Dumbledore’s funeral.Again, time and budget probably got it cut, but to me, that was the really emotional part of the book, more than Dumbledore’s death scene. This is where Harry sees how many people have come to honor Dumbledore (and we see Ron and Hermione sort of together, and Harry is moved to see Luna and Neville support each other – the only two members of the D.A. to joint the fight) and resolves to continue his mission. He also has another chance to tell the Ministry to bite him.

The ending of the film was pretty lame. Harry tells Hermione what he’s going to do while Ron sits there, not talking. They should have at least finished with the three of them all together instead of Ron looking like a tourist in the scene.

So that’s the big stuff that was left out. And yet, they found time to add in totally new scenes. The oddest is one where the Burrow is attacked and burnt to the ground by Bellatrix and Fenrir. Huh? The Burrow is supposed to have all kinds of protections on it, for one thing. And what was the point? After it burns, it’s never mentioned again. Do they magic it back together? Where do Mr. and Mrs. Weasley go to live? Harry never expresses guilt for being the reason it happens, Ron never once mentions that his home was destroyed, it just happens and then is forgotten. Weird.

The new scenes with Harry and Ron talking about girls are pretty entertaining though, and give us a nice look at the kinds of chats they have during those times in the book when we just get something like, “weeks went by and the weather turned cold…”

What was most excellent were the Snape scenes. Alan Rickman is perfect (well, maybe a little too thoughtful – I don’t know if anyone could watch him and believe he’s evil) and even Michael Gambon got the death scene right.

Little Tom Riddle is ok, he was a little too bland, not as bratty and angry as I think he should be, but teenage Tom Riddle was awesome. He was confident and arrogant but also very charming and clever.

And finally, I think Rupert Grint should do more comedy. I heart him, big time.


More Mraztastic Baby Names for a Friend

When our friend, Steve, was getting ready for his first child, I carefully compiled a list of baby names worthy of a son being born to such a Mraz geek. Now, our friend Jon Baron is getting ready for his first little bundle of expenses (and joy), and I want to give him the same honor.

Jon is just as geeky as Steve, but not in a Mrazy way. Just in the normal “I like to talk about components and quote Monty Python like Scripture” way. He can’t argue with that because he doesn’t have the password to edit this blog. Ha!

Steve knew he was expecting a boy, so his list was tailored to fit a little Whedonesque son. Jon is expecting a girl though, so I can’t recycle any of those names. Here’s what I came up with from scratch. Any children born to any friends after this will get leftovers.

Because a daughter born to a Baron should have a regal, royal name:

  • Contessa
  • Dutchess
  • Lady

Because Jon may want to think back to his childhood summers in Norway:

  • Danica
  • Elsa
  • Margit
  • Petra (also a good geek name from the Orson Scott Card ouvre)

Because you can’t go wrong with Harry Potter names:

  • Hermione
  • Luna
  • Lily

Because Jon knows his Simpsons almost as well as I do (okay, maybe even better):

  • Marjorie
  • Sherri/Terri (if only he was having twins!)
  • Lunchlady Doris (I suppose this one could cause her to be pigeonholed into a career)
  • Malibu Stacey
  • Lisa (hey, it’s served me pretty well all these years)

Because his daughter may grow up to be a Whovian (I volunteer to take her on a pilgrimmage to see David Tennant):

  • Romana
  • Sarah Jane
  • Billie (a much better name than Rose)
  • Gwen (or maybe save that for the spin-off… er, second child)

Because Jon is well-traveled:

  • Alexandria
  • Cairo
  • Safari

Because Jon insists on stealing one of the two names I would find acceptable for a girl, and I’m thinking maybe I can distract him and push him onto another Beatles-inspired name:

  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Penny Lane
  • Strawberry Fields
  • Lucy Sky
  • Julia
  • Martha Prudence (no Girls Gone Wild worries with this one)
  • Blackbird
  • Savoy Truffle (She would have her own show on Food TV before her twelfth birthday)

Or how about names of real people associated with the Beatles:

  • Yoko
  • Stella
  • Sean
  • Dhani

Because Jon loves Peter Himmelman:

  • Dixie

But if I have to suggest the best ever baby name for a precious little darling girl being born to a geek, I have to go with:

Serenity Firefly Baron

No way could she go through life with that and not become a free spirit, a rebel artist, a compassionate thinker, a brilliant leader and pretty much better in every way than all her peers. Not that having Jon as a dad doesn’t already ensure that, but I think you should give a kid all the advantages that you can.

The one with the bright eyes, well she laughed her way inside this music box, stored away in the corner of my heart,

Jason Mraz and a Plate of Shrimp

There are a few reasons that Tuesday was a much better day than Monday. For starters:

The new Flight of the Conchords CD came out and Amazon had it on my desk by 2:00. Excellent. Unfortunately, the downside is that on Monday I saw that if I had pre-ordered through iTunes I could have gotten the bonus track, “Bret, You’ve Got It Goin On” which is clearly their greatest song of all, and is not on the regular CD. I’ll just have to keep YouTubing it.

It was Earth Day and I got some free Earth Day swag, including reusable shopping bags.

My friend, Laura in Florida, called me at work so that her two-year-old could sing me the Harry Potter Puppet Pals song. First the “Ron, Ron, Ron WEAS-ley!” bit, then “Snape, Snape. Severus Snape.” Apparently there was an adorable dance to go with it as well, but I laughed hardest at the thought of one of her friends asking what she likes to do at home and saying, “My mommy and I do the naked puppet dance.” Yeah. That must go over really well.

Finally, the day ended with what Jon Baron calls a “Plate of Shrimp” experience. I think it’s a “Repo Man” thing. It’s when something bizarre comes up out of nowhere, a phrase or object or name, and then you suddenly come across it a bunch of times. It can’t be something common like football, or Hannah Montana, or Paris. It has to be something uncommon, like a plate of shrimp, or Bananarama, or Canada (Kidding! Love you guys!).

On Tuesday afternoon I wrote about Jason’s “Song For a Friend” because although it didn’t speak exactly to my situation, it’s a good song about friendship and caring about the people around you. A few days before that I wrote about how his new album cover reminds me of Renoir and the painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.


Tuesday evening I was waiting for a friend and had some time to waste so I headed to a book store. I got out of my car and was walking across the parking lot when suddenly the great DJ in the sky started talking to me. Then I realized that I was not, in fact, going crazy. I really was hearing music. And it really was Jason Mraz. And it really was “Song For a Friend”. A car a few spaces away from me had it blasting. Wha?

First of all, I think we can admit it here, very few people know who Jason Mraz is. He’s popular among a certain crowd, but stop ten people on the street and maybe one would know the name. Next, even if you’re going to blast Jason Mraz, “Song For a Friend” isn’t really a blasting song. “Geek in the Pink”, maybe. “Too Much Food”, certainly. But not “Friend”. And finally, the odds of me being in just the right place to hear it, well, they’re phenomenal, I’m sure.

Luncheon of the Boating PartyI walked into the store, pulled some super stealth moves to wait and see who was in the car, but they never got out. They sat a few more minutes and then drove away. I guess once I was smiling, their work was done.

Happy to be me I started to look through the stacks of Buy 2 Get 1 Free books when I spotted one I’d never seen before: Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland, featuring the Renoir painting as its cover.

Plate of shrimp times two,

Jason Mraz is You

In a different situation.

It’s true. Last week he wrote, “I’ve been choosing pocket-sized books and Plays as they’re easier to stuff in my suit rather than have to carry a bag. But I’m finding great joy in the moving in and out of stories and characters more quickly.”

I’m finding great joy in the fact that “Plays” are worthy of capitalization in the world of Mraz. Why shouldn’t they be?

His Dark MaterialsMy reading habits have been the same lately. Now that I commute by stuffy train instead of sexy little blue car, I’m able to get through more books, but I have to carry them with me. I made the mistake of getting the three-in-one paperback edition of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, weighing in around eight pounds or so. (Amazon claims 1.9 pounds. I question their methods.) It took up so much of the space in my bag I couldn’t bring a lunch to work with me for a week. When I finally finished it off and moved on to short stories by Chekhov my shoulder was very grateful, although my brain because a little disgruntled. Not a single winged creature or magic spell in the book, just a lot of brooding. Russians are so damn moody.

Anton ChekhovJason also wrote that the desire to live (literature-wise, I believe) through every era, to explore and understand people from different times and worlds, was so overwhelming that it could be depressing. I feel that way whenever I go into a book store. There are so many possibilities for places to go, without even touching the travel section, that I can become frozen with indecision. I solve the problem by getting a little bit of everything, hopping through literary time and space like, um, you know.

My bedside table has three or four books on it at all times, one that’s almost done, one of short stories or something that can be picked up and read bit by bit, one that I haven’t started yet but I leave out so that I remember what I want to read next, and then “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. It’s been there since the day after it came out when I finished it at 3:00 a.m. I can’t bear to put it away on the shelf, but I’m not quite ready to re-read it yet, so it just sits there, my hardbound security blanket.

In the end though, the message of Mraz remains the same: Be happy to be who you are, where you are, when you are. Easy, eh?

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together,

Who Needs My Christmas List?

You may start shopping here (I’d guess that I’m a medium.):

Weasley shirt

I swear, cafepress is worse than YouTube for me when it comes to wasting time browsing. I started out shopping for a baby gift, and now I’m desparately seeking the perfect Ron/Rupert shirt.

Oh, and yes, someday that link to the “Gift Shop” really will link to a cafepress site with fun Jason Mraz things. That’s about #43 on my To Do list.

Ooh, this is quite cute as well:

Mischief Managed,

I Have Strayed From the Path of Mraz

Well, maybe not so much “strayed” as “got very lazy and neglected the path for a bit”. So I’ll do a bit of weeding, sweep, get the path nice and clear for you again. And off we go.

Things that have distracted me over the last week:

  • David TennantDavid Tennant. (Just give one big eye roll all at once and get it over  with. Him again? Yep. Thanks.) I just couldn’t bear to purchase the third season with some new hussy filling in for Rose, so I’ve been Netflixing it instead. And while there are moments that I think I should just go ahead and buy it because Tennant is still so damn foxy, mostly I think it seems a bit watered down. Martha is a little too eager, a little too annoying, and really, even though Rose wasn’t one of my most favorite TV characters ever, I still feel like I’m watching a recently widowed man and his new bimbo girlfriend. Martha is just The Other Woman to me, and I can’t enjoy her. I don’t think he can either.
  • ShakespeareBill Bryson! He wrote a book about Shakespeare! Honestly, Bill could write about ancient aquaducts and I’d find it fascinating, but Shakespeare is a much better topic. The volume is slim (like David Tennant), but it has a ton of personality, quirky facts, and style packed in there (also like…). I could never dedicate myself to a monster of a book on Shakespeare, but this one is bite-sized and humerous enough that I enjoyed the few train rides we spent together. I also began reading it about the same time I watched “The Shakespeare Code”, so that was a nice Doctor (and Harry Potter) tie-in as well. (Expelliarmus!)
  • Work. Who knew I would ever have a job that would occupy more than four hours of my day?
  • Travel plans! I think you should always be in some stage of travel planning, or recouperating. It gives you something to look forward to or reflect upon and keeps everyday life from being quite so mundane. Right now I’m planning for a 10-day trip in January where I will visit friends in Florida and Boston. It may not sound exotic, but the friend in Florida has had two little girls since I last saw her, so this will be unchartered territory for me.
  • Jason MrazJason Mraz. Obv. I’ve been listening to the live shows quite a bit as well as a mish mash of stuff a friend gave me. His mix includes the soul-grabbing version of “Rocket Man” that I can never listen to just once. Tasty.

And Mraz ties into everything else too. Follow the bouncing ball:

  • Mraz toured with Alanis Morissette
  • Alanis played God in “Dogma” alongside Alan Rickman.
  • Mr. Rickman does an oustanding/sniveling job of playing Snape in our beloved Harry Potter films, where his co-star was once David Tennant.
  • I’m sure at least one of these people has met Kevin Bacon.

So, you see, Mraz and Tennant and sci-fi and fantasy and quality entertainment all go hand-in-hand-in-Quidditch-robes-in-a-Tardis.

Too simple.

Joss Whedon + Harry Potter = Mrazaliciousness

FireflyA sexy friend of mine who is steeped in good taste recently lent me his “Firefly” DVDs. I never saw the show when it was on, I must have blinked, but as a fan of all things Whedonesque, it was about time I dug into the show that so many people fought to save.

I’m only a few episodes in, loving Adam Baldwin as another tough guy (I’d almost forgotten how much I loved hating him in “Angel”. He plays the straight man so well in “Chuck” that you can’t help but really like him), and overall thinking that a space western seems like such an obvious idea, I can’t belive there haven’t been more of them.

The point of all this is that after watching a little “Firefly” I went online to see what else Joss has been up to, and wikipedia pointed me to this article from the Leaky Cauldron where back in 2005 Joss says that he would like to direct a Harry Potter film. It’s a bit late now, I’m certainly not holding my breath, but even the slim possibility that someone like Whedon or Alfonso Cuarón could swoop in and rescue the last two films from the crap the last one was, makes me a little less worried about them.

David TennantSo who’s got the petition to make this happen, where do I sign, and how do we somehow get David Tennant back in the picture as well?

(Insert gratuitous David Tennant photo here as I just got “Doctor Who” Season 3 as well and am finding him foxy as ever.)