Tag Archives: harry potter

The debt ceiling answer: SWEAR ALLEGIANCE TO VOLDEMORT (consider the gas savings alone)

Pictured: Boehner and, I don't know, Cantor? Harry Reid?

GateHouse — Good morning, America! Or at least the small percentage of you who have successfully avoided the impulse to beat yourself silly every morning with a box of Lucky Charms (or whatever kind of cereal box is most damaging, it’s up to you, although I find the purple stars pretty hurtful).

I have found myself drawn to the Debt Ceiling Negotia — well, Negotiations is an incorrect word, because it indicates on some level the involvement of adult humans, so let’s go with Pathetic Caterwauling By People Who Sound Like Ralph Wiggum — for the same reason that I was once drawn to pro wrestling: Because I like listening to silly cartoonpeople in costumes read from goofy scripts in an attempt to emanate impressions of grave importance.

Also, I like my house, and with Sunday’s deal/compromise/fiesta of Democrat giveaways I’m glad to know that in theory I can keep it through September, or until my mortgage is sold to China or Cobra or the evil Thundercats or whoever. Wait, were there bad Thundercats? I can’t remember now. If there were bad Thundercats, someone please email about them, in the precious last few days before your Internet bill jumps to $450/mo and you pay it directly to a Koch Brother.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-sOaUAgbB4]


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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Giant spiders, butterbeer, giant spiders, $30 twigs and giant spiders

If Harry Potter land contained a spell which outlawed garments promoting Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and/or jorts, the waits in line would be about nine seconds each.

GateHouse — So we found ourselves with three days off and full-time weekend babysitting, so we did what I think most 35-year-old professional married couples would do when gifted with such a rare opportunity: Went promptly to Harry Potter land in Orlando. My idea was Chuck E. Cheese, but whatever, this was fine.

It’s not Harry Potter land, of course, and the lovely 29-year-old woman we met in line at Ollivander’s Wand Shop who dropped $800 and waited 10 hours to attend the park’s opening day would probably punch me in the quaffle unless I referred to at directly is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida and basically the single most satisfying aggro-nerd experience I’ve had since the first time I rode “Star Tours,” which was EXACTLY LIKE Beggar’s Canyon back home, or the time we waited outside a Merrillville, Ind. hotel for 90 minutes to get our photo taken with “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Now, I’m not remotely a 800-bones-on-opening-day Potter fan, though it is true that I lost considerable sleep to the books, have been told that my patronus would resemble Springsteen (accurate), and once began concocting a reasonably logical plan to physically enter “Half-Blood Prince” to claim vengeance on Snape (not over it), but let me go on record as saying that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter went all sectumsempra on my expelliarmus. For those of you who read books from the grown-up part of the bookstore, this means it was totally worth it.



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GateHouse — If you found yourself suddenly and inexplicably thrown to the ground late last week, it probably happened when the Earth briefly stopped spinning, thanks to the shocking revelation that fictional wizard Albus Dumbledore was gayer than an actor on a commercial for a pickup truck. Dumbledore, the now-deceased Obi-Wan Kenobi figure in a marginally popular children’s book series of some kind, was officially outed this week by his author, J.K. Rowling, who claimed that she made the announcement mostly because she was trying to make Britney Spears feel better.

I’m kidding, of course. What I’m not kidding about is the fact that the national media covered Dumbledore’s outing with slightly less effervescence than might be the case if it was revealed that an actual wizard was gay — which, let’s be honest, would probably be the case among actual wizards, with their flowing robes and flamboyant headgear and potential for jokes involving the word “wand.” Actually, there’d probably be less excitement then, because by now actual wizards would likely be subject to all manner of questionings, registrations and subtle social exclusions, whereas fictitious wizards — which, again, is a group that contains Dumbledore — are free to roam about their castles or wizarding schools or electroclash dance clubs in peace, impervious to the unblinking eye of the people who would keep a wary yet curious eye on them in the real world, such as fans of “Sex and the City” and Larry Craig.

Dumbledore, if you for some reason don’t have a Google alert set up for this sort of thing, was outed by author Rowling in a recent appearance at Carnegie Hall, as part of a response to an audience question about whether the late wizard ever found true love, as well as any really amazing sales at Banana Republic. There’s been the usual tittering among the usual easily activated suspects, many of whom were probably just happy to have something to complain about other than the books’ promotion of witchcraft (some have questioned why Rowling waited until now to make the announcement, feeling, I’m guessing, that they’d been tricked into some kind of nutty tolerance or something). But for the most part, people seem to be — you may want to sit down for this — more or less OK with the idea of a fake 126-year-old magic man being fake-gay. Either way, the announcement probably makes Dumbledore now the most famous gay character in a semi-children’s book, more than the parents in “Heather Has Two Mommies” and, of course, Piglet.

Avid readers of this column — and hello again to my Mom, and the prince from Nairobi who keeps politely asking for my credit card number — normally, what I do here is read a couple of news stories about something, make some quote-fingers jokes about it, and head downstairs to begin consuming the bottle-and-a-half of pinot noir I need to fall asleep these days. But I’m not sure I can pull that off today, because the AP story on Dumbledore I am reading right now is IMPOSSIBLY HUGE. I don’t want to draw the obvious conclusion here, but it’s hard to imagine your local paper’s Iraq story today has anything on this behemoth.

As an avid Harry Potter reader who once used this space to warn anyone who would ruin the ending for me that thanks to Google Earth I could find them within minutes, I have to confess that I had absolutely no idea that Dumbledore was gay. In retrospect, this was a silly oversight on my part, given the amount of time Rowling had Dumbledore listening to Morrissey music and drinking wine coolers (also the man had a phoenix. A phoenix! Phoenixes have always clearly been the gayest kind of magical bird!). But I mainly didn’t think about it because – oh, jeez, I’m gonna blank on the phrase here, but it’s the one where I can’t fathom who could possibly have the time or need to worry about other people’s sex lives in the real world, let alone one in which most characters travel by fireplace.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Release Party: Midnight in the bookstore of good and evil

GateHouse — Have you ever been stuck in line somewhere behind a hypercaffeinated 11-year-old? They are astonishing creatures, boppy and boingy and like little fizzy hobbits, except hobbits will, at occasional intervals, cease talking for a second to breathe in, because otherwise they’ll keel over and turn purple. Eleven-year-olds do not have this physiological concern. They don’t stop on regular days, and they don’t stop while waiting for the last and final Harry Potter book at 10:30 on a Friday night. This is where I find myself behind an 11-year-old, and I am not just saying this here because she’s slaughtering me at Harry Potter trivia.

Address of the Order of the Phoenix? She nailed it. The name for a wizard who can transform into an animal? Pfft. The secret password required to view the Marauder’s Map? She was answering that before the question was over. Seriously, this girl was like the Good Will Hunting of Harry Potter.

Partly she was overstimulated to the point that I sort of worried her head would, at some indeterminate point, pop off of her head, perhaps accompanied by the sound that occurs when you place a finger on the inside of your cheek and pop it out of your mouth, fly around the room a few times to check things out, and then return to her neck, where it would continue talking at its current pace of approximately 700,000 words per minute.

But this was standard issue behavior at just one of last Friday’s 7 million book release parties, events, celebrations, throwdowns and riots, all unfolding under the pleasingly quaint reason of the release of a book. Here at a bookseller that shall remain nameless but rhymes with Carnes and Blobel, 90 minutes before showtime, the mood is lively, the coffee is flowing, the kids are bleary-eyed and fighting their damnedest to stay awake, the adults are more in costume than you might imagine, the scars are omnipresent and the eventual book dispersal is operating under a very effective and logical system of color-coding, which is much like the threat color-coding system employed by the federal government except it hasn’t been used to arbitrarily frighten people on particularly low poll-number days.

My party consists of my brother and his wife, the latter of whom is the only one who had her stuff together enough to actually pre-order the damned thing. My brother and I are doing the thing where we’re pretending to be there ironically, just to check it out, while secretly I’m plotting which of the weaker children I could body-slam for a book if it came down to it. (It’s not my trivia arch-nemesis, who, though small and in the fifth-grade, probably possesses a dark side and looks as though she probably has a pretty nasty left hook.)

So we’re killing an hour and a half before the book goes on sale, which we do partly by wandering around the store listing the books we’ve never read but think that we one day probably should, listing the books that we told our professors we read in college but didn’t, postulating on what could possibly be the plot of the apparent new best-seller by Danielle Steel, “Bungalow 2,” and telling the same jokes as everyone else in a bookstore on Harry Potter night, such as waiting until 11:30 and going, “So, you guys ready to go?”

But time flies when you’re surrounded by caffeinated pre-teens and adults in robes, and when it came time to line up, things got a little lively (I particularly enjoyed the every-15-minutes announcements that went like this: “No, really, if you have ANY OTHER PURCHASES TO MAKE, PLEASE BRING THEM UP NOW”). But they were also terribly orderly, and efficient, and when it came time to queue up the Browns, my sister-in-law started – and I’m not a doctor, so this may not be the actual medical term here – yipping a little. So did I, frankly, but I was just jealous that I didn’t have a book ordered. And we got up to the counter, and she got her book, and out we walked, all three of us, no one daring to look at it, open it, glance at so much as a chapter title for fear of ruining one of the rare few chances any of us will ever have to be surprised by something this long in coming. When I get around to it, that is. First I have to finish “Bungalow 2.”

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