Harry Potter and the end of an era

Over the weekend, Sara and I had to go to a movie to maintain our average of 1 movie in the theater a year since Evie was born. Just to recap, the other 3 moves were Slumdog Millionaire, Public Enemies, and Avatar. That’s right, we go to so few movies in the theater, each one is worth a blog post. Now, 2 of those movies were really good. But if you’re only going to see 1 movie a year, you can’t afford to have just an average movie in there. So this time, we didn’t want to waste it, so we saw the last of the Harry Potter movies.

I saw a lot of people being bummed about the end of the long-running series, and calling this the “end of an era”. I don’t know, I just didn’t feel any sentimentality over it. Maybe it was because I was into the books more so than the movies, so my era already ended. Certainly I was very excited to see the movie (but then again, that might just have been the fact that Sara and I were getting away from the kids for the 4th time ever), but I didn’t feel any sense of loss or absence or whatever afterwards.

The movie was really good. It was fast paced (after all, they had to wrap up an 8 movie series in just over 2 hours, which the shortest of all the movies), it was well done, it was superbly acted (especially Alan Rickman), and it did everything it needed to do, which is apparently harder in a series finale than you might guess.

Now that all is said and done, I doubt I’ll ever go back and watch the movies again. I tried watching the first one awhile ago, and man is it silly. I didn’t notice at the time, but now that we’ve seen the darker movies, it’s hard to go back to the early, goofy ones. It’s how they had to do them, however.

In fact, I’ll go on record saying that’s the single biggest reason why the Harry Potter series was successful.

The books (and consequently the movies) started out as kids books, but they didn’t stay that way. They grew with the audience. Children who read the first book at an appropriate age were 10 years older when the final book came out. If the books would have continued to be written for children, they would have ceased to be interesting to the kids who were no longer kids.

So the question is, will something like Harry Potter ever happen again? Well sure, in the sense that there will always be some sort of high-selling-cultural-phenomenon that everybody just has to go see. So in that sense, I guess Twilight is/was the new Harry Potter? There are a couple of significant differences though, and not the least of them is the fact that Twilight focused on a much narrower audience (mostly teenage girls)(and before you yell at me, I read them all, so don’t try to tell me they’re not focused on teenage girls), and Harry Potter has something for everybody.

I would certainly think that making 8 movies with virtually the same cast would be the hardest part of it. To me, that is the most amazing part, and I’m still impressed they were able to do it. Think of everything that had to go into that. You had to have actors that were able to carry on the roles that long (consider how many were unknowns, and how many started as kids and ended as adults). You have to have no scheduling conflicts or egos demanding more money (maybe that last is the hardest one). You have to have a studio that is really committed to doing everything right, with no egos on their end who demand changes or certain directors, etc. You have nobody who decides they don’t want to be typecast, or wants to move on to something new (I guess this goes back to the ego thing, but hey! This is Hollywood! Ego plays a big part.)

So that’s it I guess. I’m looking forward to someday reading the books with Evie and Oliver. That won’t be for quite some time I think.

Oh, a final note about seeing movies in 3D…I’m over it. The 3D in the movie was interesting, maybe even neat, but at the end of the day, it added nothing. It is certainly not worth paying a couple of bucks extra to see. Movie studios won’t stop doing it until we stop paying for it people. Stop them now before there are no 2D options left! (Of course, we can always go buy 2D glasses from ThinkGeek to down-convert 3D movies into 2D movies…)

Christmas Extravaganza

We went to church on Christmas Eve, and Evie was really excited. However, we’re still struggling to find a Christmas service that both starts at a reasonable time, and is around an hour or so long. They tend to draaaaag. I understand, you want to get your big choir in, and read all the best readings, and have a Christmas play, etc., but it is very, very stressful to try to keep Evie entertained and quiet while all of this is going on. Especially when you factor in that you have to get there 30 minutes early if you want a seat.

There were still some good moments though, like Evie playing peekaboo with the president of the Cook County board, who sat right behind us. The big thing for Evie was singing Christmas music. Of course, she likes the more commercialized songs and the church ones tend toward the religious. She asked me if we were going to sing Deck the Halls and I was like, “I don’t think so honey.” She likes Hark the Herald Angel Sings, so I thought we might have a better chance with that. However, when we looked in the program, sure enough, Deck the Halls was on there! Who would have thought?

Of course, once we opened the door to Deck the Halls, as far as Evie was concerned, everything was fair game:

Evie: “Are we going to sing Santa Baby?”

Of course, Deck the Halls was at the end of the service and Evie didn’t quite make it. It was a big relief to me when she fell asleep, since I didn’t have to threaten her anymore, but I knew she would be disappointed that she missed it. The first question she asked when she woke up was, “Was it beautiful?” Then she made us all sing it when we got home in reenactment.

As far as the presents go, there were so many under the tree that the meager additions from Santa sort of went unnoticed. The presents I was most excited about were the balance bike, the sizable donations to college funds, the “my first bacon” from Uncle Nathan, and the beautiful, amazing doll house that Sara and Anna had when they were little (which Evie adores).

The bacon, in particular, has caused quite a stir. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I’m bacon!” in the past few days. It was a present for Oliver, but Evie is the one who keeps playing with it.

Evie: “Mommy, shh! Bacon is sleeping!”

However, there were two presents that really take the cake.

Well, the first wasn’t technically even a present. For months now, Evie has insisted that the only thing she wanted for Christmas was a new bed upstairs where everyone else sleeps. Her bedroom is downstairs, by itself, and she’s terrified. It makes me feel pretty bad. So naturally she wants to sleep upstairs where everybody else is, and who could blame her? So, since Santa gave her a bed last year, she figured he’d be good for another one this year.

So my mom had a trundle bed she was willing to give up, so we got that to put into Oliver’s bedroom upstairs. We tried to make it very clear that it was not a Christmas present. It’s Oliver’s big boy bed in Oliver’s room, that he doesn’t mind sharing with her while he’s not using it. Her bed, and bedroom, remain downstairs.

For my part, the grand prize was my new accordion. I have really been wanting to learn how to play the accordion for some time now. I don’t know the first thing about it, but you know what they say: the first step is buying the accordion!

Something tells me you might hear a thing or two about the accordion on the blog in the future…

ThinkGeek for the Holidays

If you recall, I blogged previously about a Harry Potter-style wand that can change the channel. I must be a sucker for any kind of wand related merchandise, because I can’t seem to get over it.

Check out this voice activated wand flashlight. Say “Lumos” to turn the light on and “Nox” to turn it off. Tell me that’s not cool??

Available in two styles!

Also, there is a Harry Potter dueling wand game, which is sort of like laser tag. I don’t think this is as cool as the spell-activated flashlight, but they have more styles!

Four choices this time!

If you prefer something a little more practical (or useful at work), ThinkGeek has non-Harry Potter related merchandise, such as Rebel Leader headphones, for that perfect Star Wars look:

Or some awesome medieval weapon pushpins:

I never get tired of looking at their stuff, and I look forward to getting the catalog the way you look forward to getting a magazine you subscribe to!

Who needs a gnome?

Lloyd the gnome is currently guarding our garden, and doing a decent job at it. So far this year, no poachers. However, I think Lloyd is about to be superseded. Gnomes aren’t really that scary. But zombies are.

That’s right, a garden zombie from (who else?) ThinkGeek. It’s a little pricey at $90, but who hasn’t wanted to have their own garden zombie?

Yeesh, never mind, that thing’s too scary.

Everybody likes bacon

Nerds like bacon (periodically):

Jews like bacon:

And I like bacon, so we’re all in agreement.