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.

With all the hubbub with Thanksgiving and starting a new job (yes, I got a job!), I have been remiss about posting.  I’ve started to read Northanger Abbey and took myself to see Deathly Hallows again.  I liked it even better the 2nd time.  The differences between the movie and the book weren’t quite as glaring to me this time.  I was more prepared for the scene where Harry gets attacked by Nagini, which is good because I really hate snakes.

I also recently finished a re-read of Philosopher’s Stone and am in the middle of a re-read of Chamber of Secrets.  I plan to re-read all of the books and see all of the movies before the grand finale this summer, in Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I’m noticing things in these earlier books that I didn’t see before.  There are so many hints of the things to come that I should probably take far more time in reading them than I actually do.  One example is in Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry and Ron are visiting Hagrid for the first time, and Harry complains about Snape not liking him.  Hagrid is very noncommittal, and doesn’t look at Harry when he tells him that he can’t imagine why Snape would not like him.  Since I know how the whole saga ends, I think it’s an interesting little tidbit.

I tried to explain to my father why I love these books.  They’ve become classics, and they’re not just for kids.  There are so many layers to these stories, and they can be read in a variety of ways.  OK, so Rowling is no C.S. Lewis.  But that’s OK.  Her books are still both interesting and entertaining.  I think it’s a wonderful thing that stories that tell of the struggle between good and evil and the importance of loyalty and bravery and love are so popular — wouldn’t it be nice if more people would live that way in their real lives?

This was a terrific weekend.  On Saturday, “N” and I went to see Deathly Hallows.  I’m very glad I stuck to my personal tradition and re-read the book in anticipation of seeing the movie.  I will re-read it yet again before part 2 is released in July.

Overall, I liked the movie.  I liked it a lot.  My least favorite is Half-Blood Prince because it seemed to me that, if you hadn’t read the books, you’d have no idea at all what was going on.  The same thing is true here, but for some reason, it bothers me less.

At the very beginning, we see Hermione at her parents’ home, and she’s modifying their memories so that, if Voldemort and his Death Eaters come calling, they will not be able to tell them where she is.  As we see Hermione’s face disappear from the photographs, we feel her pain and sadness. Her commitment to helping find and destroy the Horcruxes is of primary importance.  Another made-up scene that I liked was Harry and Hermione dancing in the tent.  Neither one is a particularly good dancer in this scene, but it shows just how hard he’s working to cheer her up after Ron has left.

But it’s the scenes that are left out that can make the resulting film difficult to understand if you’ve never read the  books.  The most glaring omissions include the fact that, after Ron opens the locket, Harry never explains to him that he and Hermione are not in love with each other and that she spent days crying after Ron left.  Another is that we don’t get to see Luna’s bedroom and see just how important her friends are to her.  Then, at Godric’s Hollow on Christmas, Harry and Hermione visit the graves as themselves.  But in the book, they disguise themselves as an older Muggle couple.  What I found odd is that, in the movie, they made a point of telling us that they could have used Polyjuice Potion but did not do so.  But what really struck me is the scene where the doe helps Harry find the Sword of Gryffindor.  In the book, one of the things Hermione takes from Grimmauld Place is a portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black, a former Headmaster of Hogwarts.  It is because of this portrait that Snape learns where Harry and Hermione are so he is able to get the Sword to them.  But in the film, Hermione never takes the portrait, so it is very difficult to figure out just how Snape knows where to put the Sword.  Also, since we never learn that Harry saying the word “Voldemort” alerts the Snatchers to their location, it’s hard to figure out how and why the Snatchers were able to find them in the woods.  One very weird thing is that, in the movie, Wormtail doesn’t die.  A lot of other people do (and will in the next installment), but not Wormtail.  I just don’t get it.

As an aside, in Half-Blood Prince the book, we know the students take their Apparating lessons so those of us who read the books know why they now Apparate to wherever they need to go. But, since those lessons were omitted from that movie, anyone who only saw the movie might be confused as to why they Apparate all over the countryside instead of taking brooms.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are inconsequential.  I loved this movie.  I particularly loved the part at the beginning, when we see the 7 Harrys preparing to help him escape.  Daniel Radcliffe did a very good job pretending to be, say, Fleur pretending to be Harry.  It was hilarious.  I also thought that the scene at the Ministry of Magic was very well done — the man playing Runcorn did an excellent job pretending to be Harry.  Dobby’s death was heart-breaking, and very well done.

I’ll probably see it again and may even post again to reflect any new insights I may come up with.  I’ve only seen it once, and it’s already a desert-island keeper.

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The rest of the weekend was stellar also. “N” and I hung out with the Jets Fan Club of Tampa Bay and watched as the Jets once more tried to take even more years off my life than they already have.  It was so much fun, hanging out with other wild-and-crazy former New Yorkers all dressed in green and white.  If the bar weren’t 60 miles from home, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

And my friend “N” and I already have our tickets.  She lives north of Tampa and I live south of Tampa, so we’re meeting in the middle for an early-afternoon show tomorrow.

Rotten Tomatoes says that critics give it a 77, but that “real people” are giving it a 90.  Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal doesn’t like it (Harry Potter and the Endless Ending), but A.O. Scott at the New York Times loves it (Time for Young Wizards to Put Away Childish Things).  Fandango’s critics give it a 71, but “real people” say it’s a “MUST GO!”

Given the disparity of opinions between the professional critics and normal people, I’ll happily make up my own mind.  I can hardly wait.