HP 20th anniversary (US)

Packing continues. I’m working on my next sideboard and the kitchen. There seems to be something to pack everywhere. So.much.stuff.


I know I put a ton of books to be given away, but I kept all my David Eddings and all the Potters. News about Potter, its US publisher is releasing new covers to mark the 20th anniversary of book 1’s release in the US. The 7 covers come from one giant image and are designed by Brian Selznick.

Think about that for a moment.

20 years.

Technically 21 years because Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997. And honestly, at this point, they should just scrap the stupid Sorcerer’s Stone name.

harry potter’s large pile of ash


Last year, the folks at botnik programmed an AI to write a chapter of a Harry Potter book, by having it learn and analyse all seven books to find combinations of words likely to follow each other according to the style of the writer and then generating text using their predictive keyboard. The result was Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash and it was, as the guardian described it:

gloriously bonkers.

It started promising, describing a castle that could be Hogwarts and the surroundings which was

snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.

But then it rapidly descended into chaos:

Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family.

Uh-oh. A few favourites from the chapte:

“Death Eaters are on top of the castle,” Ron bleated, quivering. Ron was going to be spiders.

They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was ‘BEEF WOMEN,’ Hermione cried.

The tall Death Eater was wearing a shirt that said ‘Hermione Has Forgotten How to Dance,’ so Hermione dipped his face in mud.

Several long pumpkins fell out of McGonagall.

One more:

Harry could tell Voldemort was standing right behind him. He felt a great overreaction. Harry tore his eyes from his head and threw them into the forest. Voldemort raised his eyebrows at Harry, who could not see anything at the moment.

And now they’ve recorded the chapter, with delightfully literal animation by Jamie Loftus and perfectly voiced by Rachael Wright. Must watch.

tv sunday

Spent the whole day watching tv. Amazing Race Canada is on, 5 episodes every Sunday. First time I’ve seen TARCAN, we’re up to season 2. The format is the same. In s1 they stayed in Canada and it was a great advertisement for the country, so beautiful. A couple of overseas locations in s2, but still a lot of Canada. The teams are the usual mix, they are competitive like Americans and some are also as arrogant and nasty. Mostly polite though.

Harry Potter 7 and 8 were also on at dinnertime. Seen them many times but can never resist. And this is the best scene.

#90: leave an inspirational note


Task #90 of 101.1001 is to leave an inspirational note for someone to find.

Originally I envisioned getting a postcard with a motivational message and leaving it in a random book at a bookstore. I forgot to get it done at Powell’s in Portland, which would have been really great seeing that it’s a huge bookstore.

For once, I’m glad I procrastinated. Two things happened in parallel.

A few weeks ago, mugglenet started #potteritforward, where participants could

share messages of love, friendship, or bravery with the next generation of Harry Potter readers by tucking a note into the pages of a bookstore or library copy of the boy wizard’s adventures.

Naturally, it’s a hashtag and pictures have been shared all over social media.

The second thing that happened was when I was talking to my niece and finally she’s ready to read the HP books. I said she can borrow mine, if she promises to keep them in good condition.


So that’s how I came to incorporate #potteritforward into lending my HP books to my niece. Since most people have been putting notes in either the first chapter of the first book or last chapter of the last book that’s exactly what I did. There is a third note about Dementors hidden somewhere in the one of the middle books, when Harry used Expecto Patronum on Dementors.


#12: finish all the Harry Potter books


Task #12 of 101 in 1001 challenge is one carried over from the previous round.

I got up to Order of the Phoenix when it came out. It wasn’t my favourite, it felt like it was the Empire Strikes Back of the Potter series with endless exposition of Grimmauld Place, stupid Dolores Umbridge, grumpy Sirius and teenage angst with all the hookups and jealousy. The Dumbledore’s Army arc was great, so that was a silver lining.

I dutifully bought books 6 and 7 when they came out, but then sort of lost interest so they’ve been sitting on my bookshelf following me around the world for years. I saw all the films of course, so I knew what was going on.

It was time to finally finish reading the series. It seems like some sort of cultural heresy that I hadn’t. So I started with Philosopher’s Stone, and the magic came back. Yay! Hard to pick a favourite, I’m going say Deathly Hallows and Goblet of Fire. Despite all the despair and trudging around the country searching for horcruxes, DH was extremely well written. Plus, Neville! Easily my favourite character outside the three. Goblet of Fire I loved the whole idea of the Triwizard tournament, and it was IMO when Harry started growing up. Shame about Cedric, I hadn’t expected it when I first read it, was still sad upon re-read. A strange tidbit is that Mum’s copy of Goblet of Fire is an American version (all mine and all her others are UK) so it was odd to read about people running toward something and all the other American spelling. Didn’t really fit with such a British book and set of characters.

The great thing about reading the books now is that I don’t have to rush to find out what happens at the end. And hats off to the filmmakers, the casting was so spot on that I can picture very clearly all the characters and scenes while I’m reading. Made it very, very enjoyable. In fact, I might re-read the whole series again in a while.

harry potter 7b

Harry Potter 7

Did my weekend run, laundry and grocery shopping yesterday so I had time today. Finally go round to seeing HP7b. It was very, very moving. I wish I watched part 1 beforehand to remind myself, but it didn’t matter, I was gripped from the start. The flashback to when Harry first went to Hogwarts, when he was under the sorting hat, wow. Everyone’s grown up, and the grown-ups held their own. Special mention to Neville! Awfully sad to see it end, I stayed all the way to the end of the credits.

potter adventure

video link: http://youtu.be/5Yw8HF29e4U

The afternoon after the con finished, a group of us went to islands of adventure. There were 11 of us, and we took 3 cars. I was the only one who had visited before, but that didn’t mean I was less excited. We headed straight to the wizarding world of harry potter and began exploring. I ended up having 2 frozen butterbeers and fish & chips. After we went on the forbidden journey ride. At someone else’s suggestion, we all went on the single rider line, which meant only 5-10min wait. The pods were enclosed anyway, so it didn’t make any difference going as a group or as a single. I remembered how dizzying it was, and I must confess to having my eyes closed for the worst parts. I did take the video of the whole ride though.

Then it was a matter of riding every water ride there was, so we all got soaked. I dragged a few to the Spiderman ride, which I experienced from the first row with a huge grin throughout — this is one ride I love and am not afraid of. It started getting dark and a little bit thundery towards the end. We managed to do the whole park in about 4 hours.


Saw HP7 part 1 today at Navy Pier imax. Absolutely brilliant. Would have sat for 5hrs without moving for the whole thing. July 2011 can’t come early enough.

Haven’t read the book yet, I think I’m still on HP5. But it didn’t stop me from appreciating the story, the acting, the special effects…everything about it. Now I’m wondering if I should go see it again before I leave.

universal islands of adventure

uni006main uni020seuss

full flickr set: here

Universal studios today. Or more precisely the Islands of Adventure part, there are 2 parks and this is the one everyone goes to, because of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But first, there was the main street and the Seuss section. We breezed past the Seuss section, cos we know nothing about Seuss. In any case we wanted to get to Hogsmeade.

uni044hogsmeade uni127hogwarts

The village was authentic, with Hogsmead station and Hogwarts express. There was a Honeyduke’s for sweets, owl post, restaurants, Ollivanders and of course butterbeer. Yummy. The castle at the other end of the village was home to the ride. It was a very intense and occasionally dizzy ride. Strapped in a pod, we went up and down, sideways and rotating all around while play quidditch, or fighting death eaters. The line was long, about 1.5hrs, I thought it was worth the wait.

uni175jurassic uni219olive

Lunch of ribs, corn, rice, beans and it was onto the rest of the park. Jurassic Park, Toon land and Popeye’s boat, and another signature ride, Spiderman. This one was 3D too, following Spidey as he flies from building to building fighting villains. Good fun. The outside of the park, between IoD and the studios, is an area called Boardwalk. There are restaurants, cinema and a hard rock café. I wanted to get a shirt there, but alas, it looks exactly the same as my London shirt. Not worth getting.

On the way back, we stopped by the Premium Outlets. We were both pretty tired by then so we did the outlets very quickly. Dinner was drive-thru McDonalds heehee. I wanted the angus burger and mm hasn’t had it before. We sat at a comfy cushioned seat by the lake back at our hotel, proving that it isn’t necessary to go for fine dining to have a nice meal.

big trip day 17


We went to see Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix today. I will of course watch it with mm when I get home, I think it will still be on. I hadn’t read the book, which is very behind of me. 🙁

Saw it at a multiplex, it wasn’t that crowded — it’d opened on Wednesday and we actually went to see the 1pm show. I had a Diet Coke and it was HUGE!!! Should have remembered to ask for a small. It’s probably over 1 litre with the size of that cup. Plus they offered free refill. I think the term Big Gulp is appropriate here.

Anyway, the film was a change from the ones before. Well, as the series progresses it gets darker and not unexpected. The kids have certainly grown up a lot. Now I need to go read the book.

The rest of the day was spent at the house. I tried to check-in for my next flight but I was too early. I have to remember 24 hours not the 48 that I’m used to.