Friday, November 26, 2010

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

Although not an avid reader of the series myself, Harry Potter came to me through Z. Being the serious reader that he is, Z has read all of the books several times. One of my fondest memories of our year in China from 2008-2009 was the time that Z and I spent sitting in the front of the #2 bus in Hong Kong because Z explained the entire series to me. I had never seen any of the movies and had no interest in the story line, which I thought was about wizards, witches, and sorcery, until Z had fully detailed almost every second of the books.

Once my interest was piqued, Z and I began searching Beijing for pirated copies of each movie that had come out so far. Harry Potter became our prime topic of discussion for a long period of time. This culminated with the arrival of the 6th movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which came out while our year abroad was coming to a close. You may remember Z's attempts to buy the DVD before it even came out in the theaters.

Despite all of our built up excitement, Z and I were let down by that movie. We had been excited for weeks, even buying a movie magazine featuring the Half-Blood Prince in Chinese. But we lost steam after seeing the movie itself.

That is, until we heard the news that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was coming out on November 19th. Hopes were high as we entered the movie theater that night. Although we wanted to go to the midnight showing. I don't think I would have made it to school the next day if we had. But the buzz about the movie at school was enough to get Z and me into a frenzy with all the anticipation. I still haven't read the book, but I already knew the end of the story and couldn't wait to see it on the big screen.

All of our wildest hopes were satisfied in Part I of the Death Hallows. The story seemed to me to line up exactly with the events that Z told me about and the acting was great. I thought the whole film was perfectly put together.

Spoiler Alert!

The movie starts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione preparing their families for the dangers ahead. With such a depressing beginning, I was worried that this movie might be just as dark and dreary as the last. But with the changing scenery, the mood was lightened and soon the Weasleys were enjoying the wedding of Bill and Flore. Although this changed with the arrival of Death Eaters, and Harry's terrible visions from Voldemort, the movie is continuously lightened by Ron's growing affection for Hermione. Once out on their own, there are highs and lows within the trio as they search for horcruxes.

I was especially impressed with the Tale of the Three Brothers and the shadowy animation that was used to explain the words coming from Hermione. This might have been the most impressive scene of the whole movie.

Seeing Dobby of course was one of my favorite things about the whole movie as well. The audience let out audible chuckles at each of his humorous remarks. His death left the audience particularly emotional since he was such an adorable character and great break from the seriousness of the story.

Even though the end of the story was sad and gives a taste of the evil that will fill Part II of the Deathly Hallows, I was very pleased with the first part and have high expectations for the final installment.

I think I am finally ready to delve into the books which I have heard so much about!

~Julie

PS: After seeing the Deathly Hallows, I watched the movie for the novel A Room with a View, and was surprised to see Helena Bonham Carter as the sweet and innocent Lucy Honeychurch. Anyone interested in seeing Bellatrix Lestrange as the weak damsel in distress?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Martha Stewart Is Helping Me Plan My Holiday Season!

As has already been documented, Desi and Julie have taken a fancy to making holiday decorations and cooking up special treats recommended by Martha Stewart. For my part, although I'm happy with both the visual and culinary results, I haven't yet found my point of entry in the world of Martha Stewart.

Until today...

As I idly turned the pages of the December 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living, I came across a curious page entitled "Martha's Calendar." As it turns out, this page is where Martha documents just what she'll be doing every day in the coming month. There's some pretty good stuff in there! So while I may not be able to make an appearance on the Today show (December 1st), and while I may not as a general matter celebrate Kevin Sharkey's birthday (Sharkey!), there is plenty of holiday inspiration I can take away from Martha and incorporate into my own daily life.

So here's what I'll be up to on select days in December...

December 2...Fertilize greenhouse plants.
(Desi reminds me that we first need to build a greenhouse. I guess that's what December 1st is for!)

December 5...Collect long-lasting berries, and use for decorating wreaths. (Reminder to self...google "long-lasting berries.")

December 19...Organize tools in kitchen drawers. (Hey, that's usually Julie's job!)

December 20...Take dogs for holiday grooming. (Yeah, right!)

December 22...Sweep fallen pine needles from under the Christmas tree. (That assumes that we've had time to get the tree by now!)

December 22...Deliver boxed sweets. (I guess sweeping the pine needles won't take that long! But where and to whom I am supposed to deliver the boxed sweets? A little help!)

December 23...Choose linens, dishes, and glassware for the holiday table. (Let's see...I choose the only linens, dishes, and glassware we own!)

December 27...Organize paperwork; store instructions, warranties, and receipts from gifts in one place. (By now I've usually thrown all of that stuff out!)

December 28...Pick spinach and lettuce from the greenhouse for salads. (Oops...Forgot to build that greenhouse on the 1st!)

December 29...Bring firewood indoors. (And then do what with it!?)

December 31...Celebrate! (By canceling our subscription!)

~Steve