Friday, July 17, 2009

This is a Harry Potter Post (I'm sorry)

Yes, I am one of millions of people who read and love the Harry Potter series.

Yes, I am also one of millions who loves the Harry Potter movies.

I'm sorry. But I just can't help it.

I didn't actually start reading the books until after I watched the first movie on HBO with my friend Kasandra. I knew what it was and I knew that it was this huge series of kid's books, but I was a little old for it, so I had never actually read it. Well, she had and she insisted that I would LOVE the books and they were all amazing.

Begrudgingly, I borrowed her copy of the first book and read it. Despite that it was written for children, I thought it was written really well. It had interesting characters and a great plot. I'm not that into science fiction or fantasy, but for some reason, the first book caught my interest. So I bought the second and read it.

Then I bought the third and read it.

Then, I bought the fourth and read it.

Then, I went with Kasandra to reserve my copy of the fifth and I have been a fan ever since. I know that I'm a little too old for it, but to be honest, that's half the fun! Sometimes I need something that reminds me that there is a lot of fun in the world and all I have to do is let myself find it.

I really think JK Rowling did a great job with the series. Not only do the kids develop and grow up, but the writing actually grows with them. The books do not all read like children's books, but instead, well, grow up. Granted, they are not Ayn Rand, but there are subtle complexities that anyone can appreciate.

Now, the movies.

I treat these as a seperate entity becasue they have to change so much to make it translateable for the screen. If, after every movie, I compared them to the book, I would drive myself nuts. Plus, I would never enjoy the movies and it would be pointless to spend the money to see it. But, so far I have yet to be disappointed.

I think they did an amazing job at casting. Everyone, from Harry all the way down to the guys who play Crabbe and Goyle (the kid who plays Crabbe just plead guilty to growing pot. Just an interesting side note.), is cast exactly how I imagine it when I read the books. Alan Rickman as Snape is probably my favorite.

The effects and the acting can be a bit, to be perfectly honest, bad at times, but I really think they make an effort to stay true to the book, even if that means some things have to be cut out. It might be frustrating, but overall, I think they have done a great job so far.

So yeah, I'm a nerd. I like to go to the midnight showing the day it comes out because I get to see all the big fans who dress up and I can cheer without distrubing everyone. It's ok, though. I enjoy it and, at this point, I am not ashamed to admit it! (Although, up til now, I never wrote a blog about it. I am a nerd, aren't I?)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Don't you ever stop readin'?

It has been a really long time since I have written about what I'm reading, so, since I feel like writing something but don't really have much to write about, I figure I might as well write about the books I'm trying to get through right now.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. This is one of those books that got such great reviews from so many people, I finally caved and picked it up. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was on sale at Target. So far, I'm only about 70 pages in, but it really is interesting. He is talking about how the correlation between the month kids are born and their likihood at being successful hockey players. It is all very interesting, but I'm also finding it hard to read more than 20 pages at a time because I end up thinking too hard about it and losing focus. We'll see how it goes.

Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert. My friend Cierra talked me into this one. She actually didn't talk me into it so much as insisted that I read it. Plus, I found it at the dollar book store. Anyone else sensing a pattern?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I'm seeing it at midnight next Tuesday! I can't wait!

Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, Jennifer Scanlon. Helen Gurley Brown is a bestselling author and was the editor of Cosmo for 30 years and is overlooked as a great feminist. I read the review for this book in the NY Times Book Review one Sunday and, rare thing for me to buy hardcovers, too. I am about halfway through and I really find her when a book I'm interested in reading gets a good review from the Times, I go buy it. It's a very fascinating. Jennifer Scanlon has a tendency to be redundant, but overall it is written well and interestingly.

Slumberland. Paul Beatty. So one of the things I miss the most about working at Barnes and Noble are little things called Advanced Reader Copies. The publishers send these out to authors and bookstores to get feedback on the book. When the book actually comes out, they take quotes from this feedback and put it on the cover to try to intice you to buy. Well, once again at my trusted dollar bookstore, I found an ARC of this novel. It is not even out in paperback yet, so it was a major score for me. (Have I mentioned I hate hardcovers?) I read Beatty's White Boy Shuffle in my contemporary African American Lit class and fell in love with him. He writes very lyrically and I think the way he infers rather than tells with his satirical style is brilliant. This is about a DJ's quest for the "perfect beat," which leads him to West Berlin. I think the writing is beautiful, but I'm not quite sure about the plot yet. I just need to keep reading.

Now, here's my dillemma: I can't read fast enough! I want to finish all of these books because I have about 108 other books I want to read, not to mention the fact that I haven't even read the NY Time Books section yet today, which means there will be another 100 books I want to read.

This is just another reason I need to start waking up earlier.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Just because I get lost doesn't mean I don't enjoy it...

This past weekend I went up north for my good friend Molly's Welcome Home soiree. You know me, if there is a party involving a good friend and wine country then I’m so there. I hopped on a plane, rented a car, and headed up to Sonoma.

And promptly got lost.

I had no troubles getting from the Oakland Airport to the 101 and then on to the 37 and the 121. Then, when the signs said “121/12 to Sonoma/Napa” I decided this must be the “slight right” Google Maps was talking about. Not so much. (Sidebar: Yes, I know I’m from SoCal because I put “the” in front of the highway/freeway numbers. Thanks for pointing that out, Molly.)

I started noticing that there weren’t any street signs, at least not any that were visible from the highway. After about 2 miles I decided I was going the wrong way and turned around on one of these small roads. It turns out that these “roads” were actually DRIVEWAYS to wineries. No wonder I couldn’t see the street signs. They weren’t actually streets.

Once I got back to the correct highway, I found the “slight right” Google Maps was talking about and took that. Now, the street actually looked like streets and there were houses that I could see. But then I got nervous that I had passed the street I was looking for and called Molly.

“So..I’m like 99% sure I’m lost. I just passed Petaluma Road but I think I missed…”

“Kimmi. You just haven’t gone far enough.”

As soon as I hung up with her, I saw a car pulling out of one of these streets, and sure enough, that was the one I was looking for. Which I realized as I was passing it. I turned around and got onto the correct street and found Molly’s house really easily after that. I’m sure it was all my navigational instincts that told me which house was the correct one. It had nothing to do with the Cal decals on each one of the cars in the driveway.

This got me to thinking. Why is it that when I am in a city like LA or San Francisco, I feel more comfortable, even when I am lost much worse than I was in a small town like Sonoma?

I always hear people talk about how independent they are in “the City,” but if you think about it, they are actually incredibly dependent. In San Francisco, driving along the Embarcadero, there are 100 signs telling you where Fisherman’s Wharf, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Exposition Park are. There are even signs with “alternate routes” to the 80. Even outside of the tourist-heavy areas, there are a ton of signs pointing you in the right direction. In Sonoma, there were no signs like this. There were a few signs advertising delicious wine, but, for the most part, I was on my own.

So what’s my point? I don’t really know. I just think it’s so interesting that I rely so much on signs pointing me in the right direction when I’m at home or in SF, but when I get outside, I have to rely on my own sense of direction. Although, when I do get lost, I am then able to find my way much easier the next time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Journeys are not what it's all about

You know that saying “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? Well, in my opinion, that’s bull. I hate the “journey” part of traveling. I hate the airport and I hate flying.

My hate for the airport is not necessarily for the “hassle” as much as it is the reasons behind the hassle and the idiots who don’t get it. You have to put all your belongings on display for some stranger to X-ray and then, if you’re lucky, another stranger will then make you open your bag and display all your stuff for the rest of the travelers as well. Then, once you get past the humiliation of walking through a public facility with no shoes on, you must pay $3 for a burnt, tasteless cup of coffee. Plain coffee. It’s another $2 for cream and sugar. All of this “hassle” because a small percentage of people decided they needed to fly planes into buildings to make their point. Or because a few people decided that blowing up a plane with liquid explosives would be a good idea. Thanks.

Then, the other source of the hassle is the fact that people can’t seem to comprehend that 3 oz in a clear plastic bag means 3 oz in a clear plastic bag. Not a big bottle of shaving cream shoved underneath all the stuff in your already too large carry on bag. And yes, ma’am, you do need to take your shoes off. Just do it and stop complaining.

Overall, the “hassle” at the airport is something that is manageable. I hate it, but I handle it.

The act of flying is the other part of the “journey” that I am not in love with. Somehow the idea of being 36,000 feet above the ground is not comforting or exciting. Plus, the seats are so close together that your either have to get really comfortable touching the person next to you for the duration, or you have to fidget like the lady in the hemorrhoid cream commercials in order to avoid physical contact.

Then there’s landing. Racing toward cement at hundreds of miles per hour with only a few small wheels to save you from slamming into the asphalt.

Even with all of these fears and concerns and discomforts, I still do it. I know that, in order to reach my destination, I have to put of all of this scary, uncomfortable and stressful stuff in order to get to where I’m going.