Overnight I got an email from Amazon Canada telling me that they are offering a special for Harry Potter fans. It’s an amazing boxed set containing all 8 films in DVD, Blu-ray and digital editions. The set includes a total of 13 discs, and there are tons of extras. Here’s the complete description from their website. I don’t happen to have an extra $349.99 (whether it be Canadian, American or even Australian) lying around. But if I did, this sure sounds like something I’d consider buying.

It is a little odd that this new boxed set is for sale because of the announcement from Warner that no new Potter products were going to be available after December, 2011.  Who knows.  I’m not exactly “plugged in” with Warner, and I am one of the millions of fans still waiting for Pottermore to go live.  So, if you are in a position to buy this, please let me know if it’s any good.  If not, I still have the regular movies (and, of course, the books!) to keep me company.

 

Update! — For those who don’t want to/can’t buy from Amazon.ca, the set is being offered for $349.99 US.  Unfortunately, regardless of whose dollar we’re talking about, I still can’t afford it.  *sigh*

N and I went to see DH2 this morning.  The theater was pretty crowded for a 9:30 show, but we did get to sit together and were far from being the last people in the theater.

The movie was just amazing. It was breathtaking.  It was gripping.  It was heartbreaking. We knew how it was going to end, but we were still on the edge of our seats at some parts, and we still cried at others.

There were, however, a couple of things that I don’t understand.

First, what reason could they have for omitting having Harry explain the whole Elder Wand business to Voldemort in front of the whole crowd? Instead, he just tells Ron and Hermione when they’re all alone.

Second, I thought that the scene in the book, where Harry repairs his old wand with the Elder Wand and then decides to put the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore’s grave was very moving. What possessed them to have him just break it in two and toss it away?

Third, why wasn’t Crabbe in the Room of Requirement? I thought I’d seen him earlier (he’s in the credits). And who was the new character in the Room with Goyle and Malfoy?

And, last but not least, I didn’t like the way the diadem was handled. Luna doesn’t tell Harry that he should ask the Gray Lady; he comes up with that on his own. And why did they change the Gray Lady’s story? It was perfectly fine the way Jo Rowling wrote it.

You may say I’m being nitpicky and a purist.  But I disagree.  These were changes that weren’t made in the interest of time (after all, what was the point of having Harry and Voldemort fly around the castle?), and changes that didn’t affect the story materially.  They just seemed to be change for the sake of change.  And the way the diadem was handled reminded me of something in Half-Blood Prince that annoyed me — in that movie, we never saw Harry put the diadem on the bust so he’d have an idea of where to look for it later on. Instead, they have him being able to hear the horcruxes.  That was, in my opinion, a bit over the top.

I cried for most of the second half of the movie.  I liked seeing Harry able to speak with his parents, Sirius and Lupin.  I did think Snape’s memories were too short, but we did get to see how much he loved Lily.  Alan Rickman is a brilliant actor, and he shows his talents to us once again in this film.  The audience applauded when Molly killed Bellatrix.  I’m glad that Ciarán Hinds found his way into a Potter movie (as Aberforth Dumbledore); I’m just sorry we didn’t see more of him.   The epilogue was very sweet, and I’m glad they re-shot the scene.  The actors looked so much better this time than they did in the clips that were leaked last year.

Overall, I really, really loved the movie.  I cannot wait to see it again, and I will definitely be buying it as soon as it comes out on DVD.  If you’re a Potter fan, run, don’t walk, to see it.  You will not regret it.

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On Edit — I have found out why Crabbe (Jamie Waylett) doesn’t appear in DH2.  He was arrested in 2009 for both possessing and growing marijuana.   His character doesn’t appear in DH1 at all, so I didn’t notice his absence until DH2.  I could have sworn I’d seen him at some point in the movie.  Maybe it was in a flashback.  I’ll pay more attention next time I see the film.

So far, I’ve watched the movies for years 1, 2 and 3 and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Watching Philosopher’s Stone for the first time in ages was particularly entertaining because the kids were all so young and adorable.  Fred and George’s voices hadn’t yet changed, and Percy wasn’t quite as much of a prat as he is later in the story. It seems like so long ago.

Whenever I would come home from seeing the movies on the big screen, all I did was complain at how much was missing from the books. But watching them one right after the other, with a month or so break from having finished the last book, has served to remind me just how wonderful the films really are.  No, they are not exact re-tellings of the book, and yes, I still absolutely disagree with some of what was cut out, but overall, the  movies are just wonderful.  Even though you know the stories, you are still on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens.

The movie opens on July 15, which is 3 weeks from this Friday, and I’ll see it on July 16 at a 9:45 a.m. show.  I can hardly wait.

I don’t need to return Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to the library until tomorrow, so I’ve been re-re-reading the last few chapters.

One thing that really struck me with my latest read of the entire series is the theme of love.  We have Lily’s love for Harry protecting him against Voldemort, and we have Snape’s love for Lily helping him change from a Death Eater to a spy for Dumbledore.  But we also see Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy’s love for Draco.  Ever since the Unbreakable Vow scene in Half-Blood Prince, I’ve paid extra attention to the Malfoys, and have found their story to be very interesting.  I noticed that, the less status they have with Voldemort, the more we see that this family loves each other as much as any non-Death Eater family featured in the series.  They’re not warm and fuzzy like the Weasleys, and I still don’t trust them as far as I could throw them, but these are parents who love their son more than anything else in the world and who are willing to sacrifice themselves for him just as Lily and James Potter were.

This does not seem to be a common trait among Death Eaters.  Sirius’ parents don’t seem to have had much love for their children and, if Bellatrix had had children, I doubt she’d ever be up for Mother of the Year, but Narcissa is very different from this sister.  She has something very important in common with her other sister, Andromeda Tonks, even if she doesn’t want to admit it – they both understand the importance of love and family.  Given how Voldemort disdains love and family ties, it makes sense that he would find the Malfoys lacking. He scoffed at Snape’s love for Lily. He drafts Draco to kill Dumbledore because he wants to further humiliate Draco’s parents and sneers at Narcissa and Lucius when he sees how worried they are about their son.

Narcissa ends up saving Harry’s life when she tells Voldemort that Harry is dead when, in fact, he’s not.  I think this scene is under-appreciated; she is worried sick about her own son – and she further risks her standing with Voldemort and the other Death Eaters (and with her own sister) to tell them that Harry is dead, but her mother-love compels her to do it.  While the Malfoys will never be bosom buddies with the Potters and the Weasleys, they do reach a sort of truce at the end of the series, and I think their commitment to love and family is a major reason for this.

I recently finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Again.  For some reason, whenever I finish reading it, I am compelled to re-open the book to a random place and start reading again.  Do I keep reading it because I don’t want the series to end?  Or do I keep reading because it’s become my favorite book of the entire series?  I honestly don’t know.  But what I do know is that I  love this book and I hope that Rowling does publish that encyclopedia she’s talked about so I can get some more details about the characters I’ve come to know and love over the past 10+ years.

With the last movie scheduled for release on July 15, I’d decided to re-read the entire series, starting with Philosopher’s Stone, and I am truly in awe of Jo Rowling’s ability to tell a story.  While some of the characters are caricatures (Dolores Umbridge, Gilderoy Lockhart and Argus Filch, to name but 3), most of them are very, very real. We know people like them, or we are like them.  We want friends like Harry or Ron or Hermione.  We wish we’d had teachers like McGonagall.  We wish our parents were more like Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

There are people out there who still believe that these are nothing but children’s books.  They can not be more wrong.  The books can be read on several levels, and adults are really missing out if they refuse to read them.  Rowling is familiar with classic literature, Greek and Roman mythology and French and Latin.  Among the countless books written about Rowling and her work is Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, which talks about books that influenced the Potter series (whether intentionally or unintentionally).  From Austen to Dickens to Shakespeare to the Bible, they’re all in the Potter books.  There’s a bit of the picaresque too, like Don Quixote or Candide.  Unlike most series for or about children, these kids grow up over the course of the series.  They become older and wiser.  They experience true joy, and they suffer true heartache.

But the people who really tick me off are the people who try to ban the Potter books because they supposedly endorse Satanism.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a church-goer, but I cannot for the life of me understand how these people get the idea that these books encourage readers to practice the occult.  They cannot possibly have read them.  If they had, they’d know that the magic is incidental — it’s not the focus of the stories.  These books are about love, loyalty, friendship and doing what’s right, even if it’s inconvenient. They are about the struggle between Good and Evil.  How anyone can say otherwise is beyond me.

Now that the re-read is over, it’s time to start watching the movies.  I can hardly wait.

Here were the Florida State League Standings going into last night’s action:

As you can see, St Lucie is leading the entire league with a 17-3 record.

Here were the lineups for last night:

Anyway, here’s what happened last night: St Lucie scored first, with 3 runs in the top of the 3rd.  Bradenton answered with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  The Mets scored again in the 5th to take a 4-1 lead but, in the bottom of the 6th, struggling Marauder Calvin Anderson crushed a 3-run home run to tie the score at 4.   I may be a Mets fan first, but I’m still a season-ticket-holding Marauders fan, so I’d been worried about Calvin’s struggles and was thrilled for him with those 3 RBIs. I did join in the applause as he rounded the bases.

Still, as nice as it was to see Calvin do well, it was even nicer to see the Mets win the game.  Which they did, by a score of 9-4.  The Marauders fielders looked like Keystone Kops in the 9th, and they allowed the Mets to score 5 in their half of the 9th.  I certainly hope they remember how to field when they’re in Port Charlotte this weekend to play the Stone Crabs (baby Rays).

The Mets are now 18-3, and the Marauders are in 3rd place with an 11-10 record, 1/2 game behind the Fort Myers Miracle (baby Twins).

St Lucie comes back to Bradenton next week, and I’ll be there.  So will some of the very nice Mets fans I met this week.

LGM! (and LGM! )

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PS — I’ve started the first leg of the ‘thon, and am re-reading Jane Eyre.  I’m trying to take it slowly but, as I discovered when I was re-reading Austen, it’s very hard to do that with books you’ve read so many times.  During that same trip to the library, I also took out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I need to finish the book and then watch all of the movies by the time the new one opens in July.  And, speaking of which, here is the trailer for DH part 2:

Even though there seem to be some major deviations from the book even in this 1+ minute trailer, I am still looking forward to seeing the movie.

As some of you may remember, I’ve been re-reading all of the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the final installment in the movie series.  I own every one of the books, but they’re in storage, so I’ve been taking them out of the library.  In the UK, Bloomsbury published a couple of different editions of the books, including an “adult” version.  The only thing “adult” about the book is the cover:

I own the Bloomsbury children’s editions of the books:

Including Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, which is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Latin.  This book was also published in Welsh (Harri Potter a maen yr Athronydd), Ancient Greek and Irish.  Here is a link to all of the different editions of the Potter books.  I’m not a snob, but I really do prefer the British covers.  The other reason I only own the British books is that I was so furious that Scholastic (the American publisher) thought American kids were so stupid that they wouldn’t read anything with the word “philosophy” in it that they made up something called a “Sorcerer’s Stone” just for the US market.  I learned about the Philosopher’s Stone and its role in alchemy in elementary school (back when the dinosaurs roamed), but there is no such thing as a Sorcerer’s Stone, and to change the book (and the movie) just for Americans is just stupid.  No other country did this.  None.  So I refuse to own any US copies of the book or the movie.  Call me crazy, but there’s a principle at stake.  Luckily, my public library stocks the Bloomsbury adult versions, so my delicate sensibilities are not offended. 😉

Anyway, I’m up to book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  It’s only the 2nd time I’ve read it, and I am liking it so much better than I did the first time I read it.  I even preferred the movie to the book, and that’s just not normal for me.  What I disliked the most last time is that Harry was always so angry that I thought the plot got lost in it.  I thought there was too much filler and not enough story.

But this time is different.  I’m reading it much more slowly and am appreciating the story more.  I don’t think it’ll ever be my favorite (that’s Prisoner of Azkaban), but I still like it better than I did before.

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I try to read every day at lunch, and am about halfway through No One Would Listen, by Harry Markopolos.  Yes, I’m late to that party too (even though I’ve owned the book since last year), but all of the Madoff-related troubles the Mets’ owners are having made me put it on top of the TBR pile.  It’s a great read, and a terrific reminder of the old axiom: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Words to live by.