Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Schedule is Up!


Seven nationally televised games. Not too bad.

Edited to add: OK, so they announced it yesterday, but I was in Green Bay, not checking the internet for stuff, yesterday. Give me a break.
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Magical Green Bay Trip, Part 1

And now I bring you a bona fide Wisconsin Adventure, the magical trip to Green Bay. In this, part one of two, I discuss:
Item one about Lambeau Field: it's hard to really appreciate, until you see it, that it really just is in the middle of a regular old, middle-sized town.

See? Neighborhood.

Behind me there--nondescript gas station, Godfather's Pizza, etc. Less than a block away? Super K-Mart and a grocery store.

(What I'm on is a Packers-logo bench/terrorist protection. As I heard in the gift shop--sorry, pro shop--from the cashiers [as they were talking to each other instead of waiting on customers {in particular, me}] was that the Packers are finally complying with the NFL's orders to build Stuff in the parking lot around the stadium to keep crazies from driving a car bomb or something in on game day. Also, I'm squinting because it was bright out.)

Item two: statues!

Here's me with Curly Lambeau. (I'm trying to see what he's pointing at. [I still don't know.])

Here's Neal with Vince Lombardi. Vince must have been hot in that metal coat on a ninety degree day.

And that's a sweet artsy shot of Curly again.

Item three: signs. Firstly, good for the Packers for not selling the field name. But they do rake in the cash from other avenues.

My favorite sign was the one about all the restaurants (that you get to through the Miller Brewing Gate).

I know "Brett Favre's 2 Minute Grill" isn't all that funny. But it cracks me up.

We ate at Curly's Pub (as mentioned on the top right corner of the sign). Neal was very excited.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Post I'm Recommending

This still involves Harry Potter spoilers, just so you know.

My gentleman caller had a great idea related to that interview J. K. Rowling gave. You should read it.
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Keeping Up With My Correspondence

Dear men who wear capri pants (or "manpris"),

You know I judge you, right?


* * * * * * * *

Dear The Internet,

You're pretty amazing. First you bring me Planet Unicorn, and now you're offering me a Planet Unicorn ringtone?! Your benevolence is, at times, overwhelming.


* * * * * * * *

Dear Charms,

I'm a fan of your new candy. I mean, I'm fan of the concept. It's delicious. But on the other hand, there's not enough gum in one piece to actually chew--in fact, it's just enough to get caught in the ridges of exactly one molar. And of course, one of them cut the roof of my mouth all up. So, good effort, but I can't buy any ever again.

(I actually wanted Razzles, anyway.)

Click here to read more . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2007

HARRY POTTER!: post five (another spoiler, I'm afraid)

Gotta tell ya, there are MORE SPOILERS in here. So proceed at your own risk. At your own PERIL, even.

If I were J. K. Rowling, I'd feel really relieved right now about being able to answer anybody's questions on anything having to do with Harry Potter, with no more need for secrecy. And maybe that's how she does feel.

Anyway, she's done an interview, which you can read here, in which there is information that makes me very happy:

Luna and Neville Longbottom?

It’s possible Luna has also found love with another member of the D.A.

When she was first asked about the possibility of Luna hooking up with Neville Longbottom several years ago, Rowling’s response was “Definitely not.” But as time passed and she watched her characters mature, Rowling started to “feel a bit of a pull” between the unlikely pair.

Ultimately, Rowling left the question of their relationship open at the end of the book because doing otherwise “felt too neat.”

In other words, WOO HOO! My decision that Luna and Neville get together is perfectly legitimate. Rock on.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Headline

"Bob Barker is 'delighted' that spay-neuter phrase will stay"

This makes me glad for two reasons:

1) Bob Barker is a very old man, so even though he might still be a jerk, I'm happy that he's happy and

2) my dad will get to continue to use his catchphrase, "Help control the pet population--run over a dog today."
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The Part of the Show Where I Rag on The Simpsons

I am always quietly amused when media gets opposite results than intended. (Like that time I saw an Outback Steakhouse commercial that really, really made me want to eat at Chili's.) One example is this article from The Onion AV Club called "15 Simpsons Moments That Perfectly Captured Their Eras." The article wants me to think about how cutting-edge and with-it The Simpsons is and, I think, to remind me how great a show it is.

But in several of the moments, the authors are forced to tell us that the episode aired a year or two after the "cultural" event it skewered. And some of the events are pretty weak to begin with: remember when that girl got into the Citadel? And then quit? Wow. Defining.

Also, the list shows how The Simpsons has really been tapering off in quality. The seasons from 1993 to 1996 provide nine of their fifteen moments; they can only come up with two from after 1999. Of course, I didn't need The Onion to help me deduce that The Simpsons has been barely watchable for most of this millenium. It's been painfully obvious.

This brings me to two conclusions: 1)why are they making a Simpsons movie now? Why not back when people cared? 2) South Park is better. Yes, ok, it's harder to watch, what with all the uber-offensiveness but it's a) funnier and b)waaaaaay more cutting-edge and with-it than The Simpsons has ever been. (To be fair, the fact that they can produce an episode in under a week gives them a distinct advantage on this--but also makes it more impressive that they're still funnier than The Simpsons.) I mean, can you imagine trying to do a similar list of cultural moments for South Park? You'd end up with twenty-five before you'd even tried that hard, much less have to stretch to get fifteen. And while The Simpsons merely uses current events as a backdrop for the same old "Guess what? Homer is stupid!" jokes, South Park bothers to make disturbingly intelligent commentary on the phenomena it mocks.

So, sorry, The AV Club. I'm not buying the product you're selling--not just because it's old and stale, but because I can get a better version elsewhere.
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A Little Bit of Football

Well, you can tell it's getting close to football season (I guess 38 days is close?), because the TexAgs frontpage is filled with news stories with teeny helmets next to them.

I have perused many of these stories so you don't have to. Here are the highlights:

I read this pretty boring story about our new Strength and Conditioning Coach. (I clicked on it because the headline was "K-State's loss equals A&M's gain," and hey, I like schadenfreude as much as the next gal.) But what I did learn from it? To liven up strength and conditioning sessions, the coach has the guys play the game . . . wait for it . . . Ultimate Medicine Ball.

In news from around the Big XII: "Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel starts every practice by going down his offensive line and giving each of the players a hug." . . . Okay then.

And, from Iowa State: "Mack daddy: Chizik said he still talks often with his former boss Mack Brown. 'I took notes from him for two years,' he said. 'He still helps me. I'm still just a little ol' puppy.' " Again . . . okay then.

"McGee downplays win at Texas": good. He ought to. That was a terrible game in which it just happened that the 'sips managed to out-suck the Aggies. And I had even forgotten, until that same story brought it up again, about Kellen Heard's unbelievably flagrant illegal hit on Colt McCoy (it's at about the 1:10 mark). No poor little 12-year-old deserves to have that happen to him.
I'm sorry, I've never been so bitter about a win in my life. But come ON.

Finally, this article doesn't get any better than the headline but then, how could it?: "From 4 Pounds at Birth to 268, Aggie Still Gains." (That article also says: "Last season, Franchione was criticized after a 17-16 home loss to Oklahoma for not giving the ball to Lane on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Aggies made a 19-yard field goal.
Franchione said that decision haunted him. 'Sure, you’ve got regrets,' he said." NO KIDDING. [As it turns out, my plan not to despise that guy is not working. Does anyone have any suggestions?])

OK, so if you really want to know anything about how good the team is going to be this year, maybe you should go ahead and read the stories.
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Mmm . . . Amusing Things Said over the Top of Movies

You know what are great? RiffTrax. It's like Mystery Science Theater 3000, except with (mostly) watchable movies and, more importantly, still being produced.

So far, I've only watched one whole one (Dad and I watched Plan Nine from Outer Space [widely recognized as the Worst Movie Ever Made {and I will say--it ain't good}]), but even the samples provide great entertainment. My favorites are Grey's Anatomy:

and Willa Wonka and Chocolate Factory:

I am totally going to watch some of these. As soon as I . . . remember to.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Anti-Bacterial Pens?

My favorite thing that's happened to me today was this:

I was at the grocery store near a big display of school supplies. An old lady was on the other side of it, and when she saw me, she said, "Anti-bacterial pens? Dear God! Just wash your hands!"
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Chad Vader

For my 100th post, I bring you the first three episodes of the story of Darth Vader's younger, less famous brother--Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager.

These are made in Madison, by the way.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

HARRY POTTER: post four; 100% chock-full o' spoilers

Again, I cannot stress enough--this post is CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERS. FOR REAL.

My Predictions
I did pretty well, eh?

Guess One: Snape was indeed good and, as I forgot to talk about in the main post but mentioned in a comment, was the one who tipped off Dumbledore that Voldemort was going after the Potters.

Guess Two: Snape was WAY in love with Harry's mom! That part exceeded even my expectations.

Guess Three: Not only did Voldemort die, he died A) without much fanfare and B) without Harry having to Avada Kedavrize him, which was nice.

Hope One: Harry did get to keep being The Boy Who Lived, although he also kind of died--so my 50-50 (if you want to look at it this way, and I do) was strangely accurate. [And about his whole "afterlife" experience: I was leery about the concept, when I first started that chapter, but Jo pulled it off really well. Much better than, say, Grey's Anatomy did. {For instance, I'm glad Cedric Diggory wasn't there, yelling and falling down dead over and over. That . . . might have ruined it for me.}]

Hope Two: Ron lives! (And turns out to be a really funny adult, I thought.)

Hope Three: We did hear about the Dumbledore/Petunia thing, and again, it was even more interesting than I would have thought. Also, a little sad.

Hope Four: I didn't think there was enough Neville overall, but man! did he get to do some cool stuff! I don't think there was a single heroic moment in the entire book that was as awesome and perfect as Neville beheading the snake with the Sword of Gryffindor. Go Neville!

Hopes Five and Six: I did stay up and read, and nothing gave away the ending until I read it.

I will admit, I had never really come around on the "Harry is a horcrux" theory. My bad. Who knew you could accidentally make a horcrux? Voldemort sure didn't. Which brings me to my next point . . .

Wasn't Voldemort Dumber Than You Thought He Would Be?
He was certainly dumber than he thought he would be. I mean, he just counted on his whole idea and all his hiding places being WAY too good for anybody to be able to defeat him? And as Ron pointed out, he couldn't even put it together that anybody had ever found the Room of Requirement when confronte with a room filled with a whole bunch of discarded stuff.

I'm not complaining, really. It made the book funnier than it could have been that Voldemort kept having these, "Crap! No WAY!" experiences. And, of course, made it more plausible for Harry to beat him.

The Deaths
As usual, I felt that J.K. let us off easy--at least as compared to my expectations. A lot of characters I felt were high-risk made it: Neville, McGonagall, and especially Hagrid.

Moody, I felt, was not that big a surprise. The way he died made a lot of sense for the character (especially if you think of the parallel between how Harry left Privet Drive in Book 7 with how he did in Book 5; a bunch of Aurors coming to his kitchen and taking off with him to a safe place--and the first time Moody was all serious about the possibility of death, though no one else was.)

I was also unsurprised that a Weasley died. (There are a lot of them, y'know?) It's still awfully sad, since poor George will have to be a solo act* for the rest of his life.

Also sad, but still not all that shocking, were Tonks and Lupin. But it's nice that before they went, they were happy together and with their turquoise-etc-haired baby. And at least turquoise-etc-haired baby seems to have a nicer caregiver-grandmother than Neville had, and a less incarcerated godfather than Harry did.

Oh, and Snape. I didn't mention in my guess list, but Snape was clearly toast.

Dobby dying was kind of weird. I thought the only kind-of-off part of the book was the whole Malfoy Manor debacle--it just didn't seem to gel as well as the rest of the plot. And Dobby seemingly randomly showing up (I know it was explained, but it was still strangely jarring) and then immediately getting killed . . . I dunno.

Ergo, the one death that surprised and resonated with me? Hedwig. I didn't see it coming, and I didn't see it coming that soon. Poor owl.

*tasteless joke: just like his ear.

A Ponderance
How in the world will they make this into a movie?

Now, I'm no screenwriter, but the book seems to me to have a very film-unfriendly story structure, especially when the climactic Battle of Hogwarts is interrupted by two very long interludes--Snape Loved Lily All Along and Harry in the Afterlife. Very puzzling.

I sure hope they're able to keep in enough of Snape Loved Lily All Along for Alan Rickman to do justice to it.

Ron and Hermione
So, at last, on the 625th page of the seventh book, Ron and Hermione kiss. That . . . really took awhile.

But at least it finally happened.

And, of course, they get married and have babies, and even though I don't think it's explicitly said, I'm choosing to believe that their hair is both bushy and red.

And They All Lived Happily Ever After
I could see how some people would find the ending trite--everybody marries their school sweethearts and has adorable babies and happy family friendships. But I think it's great.

I think I would have liked more details on what ended up happening to everybody, and for instance, what any of them were doing for a living, but the epilogue would to have been much less narrative in style. I guess it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Also, since J. K. didn't officially rule it out in the text of the book, I get to decide that Neville and Luna end up getting married. Yay!

It was very very good. I got everything I wanted to know out of it, and--even though it could easily have been bogged down by needed to be the darkest book of a dark series--it wasn't so heavy and dramatic that I felt like killing myself once it was over or indeed, at any time during the story. Well done, J. K. Rowling. This is why you're a billionaire.

What did you guys think?
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

HARRY POTTER!: post three; 100% spoiler-free!

Mad props go out to the Madison West Side Barnes and Noble, because they really had their poop in a group last night. They herded, I don't know, a thousand people? (the highest number I actually heard was 700, but I think that was just one point in a very very long line) with extreme competance and efficiency through their gigantic store to their 8 registers. Well done on that front, Barnes and Noble.

Mad derision likewise goes out to the Madison West Side Barnes and Noble, for not letting me have one of the boxes that the book came in. For one thing, I have a box from Half-Blood Prince, so I really wanted one. For another thing, they had, like, a million of them. I would have been doing them a favor, really.

The store had activities set up, but they were not aimed at my demographic. The gentleman caller and I arrived there around 9, as we had been advised to get there early. You know, because of the craziness. And it was indeed already crazy in there. But we looked around, scouted the location where we'd be expected to pre-line up (there was a big pink sign for 450-500, and his Golden Bracelet said 469), and decided to go see if the mall was still open. As it was not, we ate a nice meal at Chili's before heading back to the, you know, craziness. And it had gotten crazier. The phrase "sea of humanity" could not be used amiss. More mad props go to the Madison West Side Barnes and Noble, therefore, for being enormous.* Well done again.

I think my favorite "activity" (out of, remember, slim competiton) was the countdown to the rolling out of the books. People were jazzed counting down those last thirty seconds, man. I suppose I'll call the costume contest my second favorite, because the guy who won was an outstanding Mad-Eye Moody. I wish I had brought my tiny pink camera, just for him. (I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that he would have dressed up that way whether the contest existed or not.)

Then, when I got home, I read the book.

I guess clandestine reading after hours when I was younger stood me in good stead. I didn't eat or drink anything, not even caffeine; I didn't take breaks; I just sat in my chair and read that book. (It took until a little after 8 a.m., if you're curious.)

Now, not to go on and on and on about my gentleman caller, but: when I stayed up all night to read Half-Blood Prince two summers ago, the worst thing was that I couldn't talk to anybody about it the next day. And it was so good and so exciting that it was pretty much all I wanted to talk about it, but of course no one I knew was done. And I surely wasn't to give out spoilers against anyone's will, because that's evil. I wouldn't ruin a single detail of a new Harry Potter book for my own worst enemy. Anyway, the point is, my gentleman caller is also the type to stay up all night to read Harry Potter, so we got to go over all the cool stuff today. Awesome.

Also, I intend to go over the book tomorrow in this space. But don't worry, I'll put big old warnings all over it. Like I said, I wouldn't intentionally spoil Harry Potter, much less the last Harry Potter, for my worst enemy.

Not that I really have worst enemies, like some boy wizards I could name.

*At one time, not too long ago, I would have used "ginormous" here. But its being recognized by Webster's dictionary takes all the fun out of it.
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Some Hippopotami

As a public service, I now bring you some videos about hippos. The first is the aptly named "Baby Hippo!!!" The second shows an heroic hippo (OK, they're attempted heroics, but that's still pretty good for a hippo). The third is about a pet hippo. After you watch it, you might wish for a pet hippo of your very own.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

HARRY POTTER!: post two

This is pretty amusing. (I wouldn't too strongly advise going looking on youtube for more Potter Puppet Pals, though, as this is by far the best one.)

Props for this go out to Lesley, who sent me the link in the first place.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Things I am Excited about Besides HARRY POTTER!

In an effort to be a smidgen well-rounded (and to prove to you, my readers, that I am), I have compiled a list of things other than HARRY POTTER! about which I am enthusiastic at the moment.

1. The grade of A that I got for the first half of my Latin summer course--and only three more weeks to go! Huzzah!

2. The dozen roses my gentleman caller gave me today. For no particular reason, no less.
(Try not to be too jealous, ladies.)

(And they're way up on that bookshelf so Cat #2 can't get to them/eat them/knock them over for sport. He wants to. He wants to bad.

Look at him, all angry.)

3. My Netflix queue. I just finished season one of The Closer--which, if anyone is curious, is very very good--and so, naturally, next up is The Closer, season two, disc one, on which the first two episodes guest star . . .

. . .


William Daniels!

Oh man. That is going to be great.

4. College football season!

What? I saw an Athlon college football preview magazine today, meaning that it is totally reasonable for me to being getting pumped. I mean, for heaven's sake, it's only 43 days, 16 hours, and 51 minutes til the first Aggie game!

2007 Kick-Off CountDown

And now, I have a 5: That I was able to post that sweet kickoff countdown! I am, like, a freaking html genius! (If you ignore the pointless grey space. And how hard is that, really? Especially when you notice the sweet modifications I made to the one on the sidebar. I'm so proud of me!)
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HARRY POTTER!: post one

I was at a restaurant the other day, and two of my friends started their umpteenth argument on whether Harry is going to die. (By this point, it's devolved into, "No, he won't" "Of course he will!") And I got pre-emptively nostalgic.

Because starting in a little over 30 hours, nobody can have these discussions again. The publication, at long last, of Book 7 means the end of theories and speculations and just plain wondering--because we'll know. And while knowing is great, it still makes me sad that we won't be able to argue about it over dinner anymore.

Not that I personally have any elaborate theories. I have a couple of guesses of what will happen, but I have more of just hopes than I do of those. But here they are:

Guess One: Snape is good.
We learned it in the first book, people. Snape is mean, Snape is petty, Snape is physically unappealing in all the ways a regular storybook villain ought to be--and Snape is not the bad guy. I do think Dumbledore told Snape to kill him, because one thing we know about Dumbledore is that he always considered himself expendable. Is it something Dumbledore would do, to arrange for Snape to kill him to save Draco Malfoy from true darkness? Absolutely. But another reason I think Snape is good is because of the theory to which I am most attached . . .

Guess Two: Snape was totally in love with Harry's mom.
Dude is always talking smack on Harry's dad, but has never so much as breathed a syllable to Harry about his mother. Snape's worst memory, in the Book 5 chapter of the same name, was a recollection of what seemed like routine bullying by James Potter and his crew, so why was it the worst? Because he called Lily a filthy name and she decided to stop sticking up for him, forever.
Now, if I am correct (and I am--mark it down!), Snape can't be completely evil like his (erstwhile) boss Voldemort, because of the having loved. Love. It's so important. We learned that in Book 1, too.

Guess Three: Voldemort's going to die.
Nothing, NOTHING, would be more unsatisfying than the triumph of evil. For us or for Jo. Whether Harry has to die to accomplish it or not, Voldemort is going down.

Hope One: That Harry keeps on being The Boy Who Lived.
Is Harry going to die? I have no idea. I mean, I think I'm completely 50-50 on this. But if he dies? What a horrible little life he would have led! And what terrible thanks for saving the world. Poor baby.

Hope Two: That Ron gets to live, too.
You know how I feel about Ron. But I'm very scared for him, mostly because on pages 773-774 of Order of the Phoenix, Harry sees the creepy veil for the first time. In the book, when he hears voices coming from it, he thinks that one he hears is Sirius, and calls for him. Then, a few paragraphs later, he says, "Is that you, Ron?" As even those of you who've only seen the movie know, Sirius falls through that veil, dead, not too long after this. The possible logical extension of this worries me deeply.

Hope Three: That we find out what the deal was with Aunt Petunia and Dumbledore.
I mean, for real! We know Petunia and Dumbledore corresponded about Harry, but I really want to know more about that. It's crazy!
(This hope is clearly of a lesser order than the first two, but it's still important to me, anyway.)

Hope Four: That Neville gets to do some really cool stuff.
And if he lives, maybe get together with Luna Lovegood. I know Jo said that won't happen, but . . . maybe she could change her mind? (If Neville doesn't die. Which . . . let's just say, I wouldn't put any money on it.)

Hope Five: That I manage to read the whole book (in one night, of course) before I pick up any spoilers on, like, the local news.
I'm really paranoid about this. I'm going into Total Media Lockdown tomorrow, and not letting up until I have read every page of the book. This means no news (I think I'm going to reset my homepage from Google News, even), no Facebook (because people will immediately be joining groups like "I still can't beleve Snape killz Hermione!!!!!"), no radio (because deejays have big mouths, you know), etc. Like I said, paranoid.

Hope Six: That the Harry Potter "party" at the gigantic Barnes and Noble isn't too horrible or too hideously long.
The gentleman caller and I are going there in a matter of minutes to pick up The Golden Bracelet that will get us into the Barnes and Noble tomorrow night. And apparently, we're going to have to get there at 10:15 if we want in at all. It may be ca-razy. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Overall, though, I am way excited about this. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! On sale tomorrow night!
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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

An Off-Season Pick-Me-Up

It picks me up, anyway.

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