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Happy Friday the 13th, everyone. And happy birthday to sunshinedew and marycrawford, with best wishes for a wonderful day and a terrific year to come!

I'm back from a fantastic time at the seminar. A highlight for me was getting to talk with Tim Minear one-on-one about his script adaptation of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, before watching the Firefly episode "Out of Gas" and hearing his fascinating talk about the process of writing it.

Now, I have many links to share!

* I have lots of new pictures of our new house (inside and outside, as we're finally getting settled) and Virginia (my favorite model) here.

For example:


* Here's a new imprint to watch: Planet Stories aims to bring classic fantasy and science fiction adventure stories to a new generation of readers. Every book in the Planet Stories line is currently out of print. The imprint launches next month and will publish one new volume per month of classic science fiction and fantasy pulp stories.

* An interesting article comparing J.R.R. Tolkien and Ayn Rand: "Tales of Titans and Hobbits" by Juliusz Jablecki.

* ailing_prophecy is holding a new contest at her wonderful Etsy shop Mirror Box, Inc. No purchase is necessary. Entries for the drawing must be in by noon (EST) on August 25. Learn more here.

I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My initial impressions are below.

On the whole, I think it's a very good and enjoyable movie, though I still prefer Alfonso Cuarón's direction, and The Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite of the film series thus far. I do recommend it, and I plan to see it again.


* Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge. I had my doubts when I first saw the casting choice, but she fully inhabited the role, and made Umbridge every bit as chilling as I imagined her to be.

* The "Big Brother" Orwellian imagery, including the massive banner of Cornelius Fudge in the Ministry of Magic, and the wall of educational decrees in Hogwarts. Someone was paying close attention to Rowling's message, I think. The entire film carried off the darker and more serious tone well.

* Dumbledore's Army. All of the students, from Luna Lovegood (played nicely by the book) to Neville Longbottom, were portrayed with wonderful heart, and the scenes of practice in the Room of Requirement were very effective. Ginny Weasley's brief but powerful moments were some of my particular favorites.

* The attack on Arthur Weasley. This was appropriately harrowing, and Arthur's later toast to Harry in thanks for his rescue struck just the right note.

* Harry's angst. His frustration came across effectively, and his final struggle with Voldemort (though nearly undone by unnecessarily cheesy lines) was wrenchingly depicted.

* Lucius Malfoy had great moments. So did Snape, and though they were few, they were fabulous. Sirius's error in calling Harry by his father's name during the fight with the Death Eaters worked beautifully. Lupin, when we did get to see him, appeared and sounded amazingly bedraggled and weary, a poster child for how things were not going well for the Order. And Rupert Grint has abandoned childlike mugging and perfected his understated characterization of Ron.

* One word: Centaurs.


* Has Michael Gambon ever read the books? Or any lines of the script but his own? I'm amazed at how consistently his lines seem to misfire. I can't fathom his take on Dumbledore's character. I cringe each time he opens his mouth - which is odd, because I've thought he was fine in other roles - and dread the mess he will inevitably make of the death scene in the next movie. The manner in which he played the confrontation with Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic directly contradicted the book's description and completely robbed the character of its greatest power.

* I felt that the film was overflowing with missed opportunities. In Prisoner of Azkaban, for example, the scenes were packed densely, fully three-dimensional; in the background, behind the main action, characters were doing things, and details were unfolding. There's more to see and learn about Harry's world with each viewing. In this film, some scenes had such texture, but others had gaping empty spaces, silences, that could have been filled with more - more interaction between the members of the Order of the Phoenix (we hardly see Lupin and Black together at all, for example, and that lack of interaction detracts from Lupin's reaction to Black's death), the professors at Hogwarts, the Weasley family, the students in their rooms, etc. Tonks seemed given very short shrift, considering her importance later. Lupin was nearly ignored. If only Cuarón's ability to triple-pack each frame could've been brought to bear on the script, I would have felt more immersed in the story and its world, and the film might've seemed less rushed and more thoroughly inhabited by the characters I love.

* I was surprised that three potentially important events did not happen: Harry didn't have that moment of realization after viewing Snape's memory that James Potter wasn't perfect by a long shot; we did not learn that the prophecy might have applied to Neville instead of Harry; and the statue of magical brethren was not destroyed in the rather dumbed-down duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort (which seems a potent metaphor for we know will come). Ah well.

* Mark Williams did not need a wig. Especially that one. I'm just saying.

All in all, though, the good aspects of the film outweigh the more problematic parts.


Several students have contacted me to say that I look "just like the actress who plays Bellatrix Lestrange." I've wondered if this is because we're both petite and brown-eyed with long brunette hair, or if I somehow project crazed and deranged Death Eater evil. After watching Helena Bonham-Carter, though, I decided I'm okay with it either way. :)

"Well -- it's just that you seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am going to -- what is the phrase? -- come quietly. I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius. I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course -- but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing."
- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
I love your dog! Great photos.
Jul. 13th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! :) She has us wrapped around her little paw. And she knows it. Ha!
Jul. 13th, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC)
omg, I love your house! I nearly peed myself when I saw the LIBRARY! I'm so envious!! I've always wanted a library. Like desperately so! The fact that you have one AND a media room makes me crazy with envy! lol

And Virginia! That pic of her sitting all cool and relaxed on the couch had me in stitches! She's too cute!
Jul. 13th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! My last home office had built-in bookshelves all around the room, so I thought I'd experiment with putting these out from the wall at right angles, so I could still put my geeky posters up. :) We've wanted a media room for the last dozen years, and this house gave us the chance to create one. (The previous owners, who were also the builders, used it as a billiards room.)

Thanks especially for the kind words about Virginia. When she sees a camera, she starts posing - it's the funniest thing to see. Of course, she has us wrapped around her little paw. ;)
Jul. 13th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
OMG, that is the cutest picture on the *planet* (of Virginia)! And how much do I love your library?!? Invent the words and I'll use em. Your house is utterly gorgeous - Wow.

Skimming over the Potter-talk... I'm not going to see the movie until I'm done with the book. The casting screws me up.
Jul. 13th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Virginia totally cracks me up. She's so good about getting her picture taken. She poses on cue.

I'm thrilled that you like the library! You're the library guru, so if you like it, I feel like it has an official seal of approval. :) My last office library had bookshelves all along the walls, but I really wanted to try this new setup, so I could still have some wall space for pictures and such. It somehow makes it easier to categorize the books, too, when they're in smaller "U" spaces like that. Thanks so much for your kind words!
Jul. 13th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Again...wonderful pics of your house and the cute little dog. What a sweetie with her bat ears ;o)

I haven't seen the new HP movie yet. We'll go tomorrow evening with friends to the cinema watching OotP. And I read not only your comment but a lot of others (from German forums) too.

I agree to the fullest to your description of Michael Gambon's horrible Dumbledore performance. He is sometimes in such an extent out of character...it hurts!! It hurts to watch him playing Albus Dumbledore. It's like two different characters...the kind, caring, calm, wise but yet powerful book Albus, or the angry, energetic, loud and a bit coolish movie Albus without twinkle. Did you read perhaps the interview with Gambon? If not here is the link

Apparently he is wellknown for lying in interviews because it's "always the same boring stuff". This attitude is reflected in his poor Dumbledore performance. God, I'm missing the wonderful and amiable Richard Harris!!

Furthermore I've learned that they cut my favourite chapter of book 5 (the talk of Harry and Dumbledore in his office after the death of Sirius) into a few sentences, probably without the deep emotions of it *sighs*.

It's a pity that these movies consists more and more of action scences.

I need to lower my sights for this movie and won't expect too much. I don't want to be disappointed.
Jul. 13th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
Again...wonderful pics of your house and the cute little dog. What a sweetie with her bat ears ;o)

Ha! Thank you so much. We joke that, if she turns the right way, we can pick up radio signals through her ears. ;)

Thank you for the link to the interview with Gambon. I hadn't read that before, and it explains so much! "I have no idea. I just say what the script tells me to say." - this just makes me sick! No wonder his performance is so disconnected. He's got no relationship with or respect for the material... and he's not even trying. Ugh. I just have no words.

One thing I was pleased to see about the movie is that the relationship between Sirius and Harry is emphasized, so Sirius's death really has an impact. Luckily, Gary Oldman does seem to take the role seriously, and it shows. The whole film seemed rather rushed to me, but at least the filmmakers knew what was most important. It had to be blatant, because we certainly couldn't count on Dumbledore's words at the end to give it meaning!

They dropped one of my favorite parts of Dumbledore's, his long discussion with Voldemort about fearing death and whether or not death is the worst possible thing that could happen to someone, during their standoff. Now, looking back, I'm glad they didn't include it, because I'm sure I wouldn't have liked how Gambon played it!

There are some really great performances in the film, from the smaller parts (Sirius, Snape, McGonagall) to the student parts. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to set yourself up for disappointment. I hope you enjoy it!
Jul. 14th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
Welcome back and.........
Happy Friday the 13th. Have a great weekend!
Jul. 14th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Welcome back and.........
Thanks so much - you, too!
Jul. 14th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
I'm just going to join the tide of envy at your library. When I saw the photo, I initially thought, "Hmm, A.'s including a photo of a local library - that's odd...", then realised what it was and then couldn't speak for a while. S. just got an earful of "Can we do that? Why can't we do that? How cool does that look?" *HUGS* Your house and the way you and L. inhabit it give off the _best_ vibes.

And VA - that dog sure earns her cheese...or does she pose for free now? ;)

Skipped the OotP comments but will be back after next Mon.
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
I am SO THRILLED that you like the library (we were experimenting with a new room layout with that one - in the last house, all the bookshelves were against the walls, but I think I like this much better) and the house. Your kind words have made my day! Thank you!

VA still gets paid in cheese. The thrill never gets old for her. ;)
Jul. 14th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
1) Need to see the movie. *nods*

2) Your libary makes me positivly green with envy.

3) Yea Virgnnia, still a happy cutie dog!
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, re: the library and Virginia! I hope you enjoy the film.
Jul. 14th, 2007 06:56 am (UTC)
Oh. Wow. There's a working script for Moon is a Harsh Mistress??? What wonderful and terrible things Hollywood could do to the plot and characters...Oh, Mike! Michelle!

Jul. 16th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
Yes!!! I was absolutely thrilled to hear all Tim Minear described about his script adaptation (which isn't the first, apparently). He is a huge fan of the book, and he really gets what it's about. I got increasingly excited as he told me about how he worked in all of the best and most important parts, and then, sadly, he ended by saying, "Of course, it will never get made." Augh!!! It sounded like he shares your concern about what Hollywood ultimately will do to the book. :(
Jul. 16th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
Well, miracles happen, even in Hollywood *g*. It sounds like a story that Peter Jackson or Joss Whedon could really sink their teeth into. Just imagine the outcry at the scenes where the Moon rebels start lobbing chunks of moonrock at the Earth...

In the meantime, I can moon over fantasy casting. Who would Peter Wingfield play, for instance? Maybe Jim Byrnes as the Professor? *g* I'm going to have to read that book again, I think.
Jul. 14th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
I can't wait to see the movie. I loved the book, despite its flaws; the film sounds like it's a great, albeit condensed version, and I'm going to probably need Kleenex.

I agree with you about Michael Gambon. I'm not familiar with him at all, and after the Harry Potter films, I don't care to become more familiar with him. I miss Richard Harris, and I wish they'd searched a little harder for his replacement.

Jul. 16th, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC)
I loved the book, despite its flaws; the film sounds like it's a great, albeit condensed version, and I'm going to probably need Kleenex.

Yes! I second everything you said - including the need for Kleenax. ;)

I miss Richard Harris, and I wish they'd searched a little harder for his replacement.

*sigh* I couldn't agree more.

Jul. 14th, 2007 09:52 am (UTC)
*Giggles at the picture*

Cute :-)
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
Jul. 14th, 2007 01:47 pm (UTC)
Virginia is a cutie! I love that Dumbeldore quote and, as far as the Bellatrix resembalance, it must be the similarity in size and coloring.:?)
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! :)

I do hope it's the size and coloring, and not the crazy-evil vibes. LOL!
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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