|14 August 2001|
"Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time."
-- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
I've spent part of the last week and a half reading the four extant Harry Potter books for the first time. Now I'm getting excited about the movie. This yarn, it doth rip.
It was interesting (and I don't feel it was a disadvantage, though I'm sure purists would disagree forcefully) to know going in who is slated to play each major character in the movie. I'd never read a word in the books about Snape until I already knew he would be depicted by Alan Rickman. Maggie Smith is the only Professor McGonagall in my head. Et cetera. On the one hand, you can argue that my imagination has been deprived of some valuable exercise; on the other, the actor-character matches are very well chosen, and they gave me a shortcut to grokking each character. For better or worse.
If you're a Harry fan, you're probably already aware of the Potter news site The Leaky Cauldron. If you weren't, that's my good deed for the day; go have fun.
For those curious about the cast and desiring photos of even the minor characters, there's a spiffy collection of such at hpgalleries.com
I read the U.K. versions of the books, because my well-read love chose to own the volumes in the original language that Rowling wrote in, not a translation into American. I have to say I appreciated her purism there. :) You can order the U.K. versions from, among other places, Amazon.co.uk.
More slow-on-the-draw pop-culture news: Star Wars Episode II will be named Attack of the Clones. Eh.
Somewhat more timely cultural news: Suzanne Vega is ending the long drought and releasing a new album (her last one came out in 1996). It's called Songs in Red and Gray and is scheduled for release at the end of September. Oddly enough, the lyrics to all the songs on it are already available.
Oh, and she's on tour right now, too. I've never seen her live, but I'm going to try this time. She's a heck of a singer/songwriter.
Saw the Indigo Girls a week ago. No backing band, just the two of them and their various stringed instruments. It was really just indescribably excellent; their voices are as strong, as vital and as well-blended as ever, and that's saying something.
A particularly fun thing they did a couple of times was to not sing an entire verse at a time; you could still hear the (complex) words clearly as the entire audience sang it to each other and back at Ray and Saliers.
Their tour together is over, but Amy Ray is performing with her own backing band (the Butchies) for a few more dates.
They mentioned that they're about to go into the studio to do a new, predominantly acoustic album, and they performed several songs from it. This got the entire audience jumping up and down with anticipation, us included.
Dmitry Sklyarov is out of jail, but can't leave California. [Wired News]
Pick a point halfway between Matt Drudge and Free Republic, flip it on its head and you get Buzzflash.com, a baldly-partisan Democrat-biased survey of the news of the day.
They twist and spin their headlines a few turns too far, but at the same time it does make for an entertaining antidote to the creeping Foxination of the national media.
Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?
-- some t-shirt somewhere