Monday, December 22, 2008

...and the runner up is....Harry Potter and the art of losing

Been meaning to post this since my birthday, which coincided, serendipitously, with the book release of Beedle the Bard (which, yes, I bought, but for the low discounted Amazon price, not the millions of dollars hand bound version). We thought, before swinging on to another bash for a friend in town, we'd take Julia to a Beedle the Bard book release party at Scribble Press in West LA (a place we have great affection for, where Julia could spend days creating books they will bind for you.). She's missed all the other major book release parties - this really would be the last one she could go to.

She donned her Hogwarts robes and we set off. Of course the place is mad with Harry Potter fans - and she is definitely the youngest there. The owner's daughter seems to have read each HP book a dozen times (and I overheard her mother saying she had to make a rule she had to read several other books between re-reads now). She seemed about 10. There was drawing and several contests.

The first HP trivia quiz was 20 questions. 20 questions!!! Of trivia that I even don't know all the answers to! You have to get that Julia goes to a developmental elementary school which believes in an incredibly non-competitive childhood (that I think is cool but I'm not even sure I believe in). So this HP test was her FIRST TEST EVER. And it's 20 questions. And I have to help her spell and it's big effort, believe you me, for a 6 1/2 year old (because she turned that the day before ) to be spelling out things like LEVIOSA and AVADA KEDAVRA and CRUCIATIUS, even with help. It's slow and she's playing catch-up and wonderful owner's daughter nails the contest with a perfect score. Julia's really disappointed.

Then round two - the live quiz showdown - structured much like a spelling bee. Once again, not done at all at fantastic developmental school where nobody wins and nobody loses. All the kids line up - and Julia's first, the peanut of the group, for trivia questions thrown at her. Granted, they made sure that they gave her book questions since she hadn't seen any of the movies yet, but she was doing great. She answered a couple with very thoughtful almost essay-like answers. Then came the round where they asked her a question, she got it right, then they eliminated almost all of the rest of the line with the next question "What is a Bezoar?". Now, technically, since they all got it wrong, she should have won the game, but she couldn't get it right either when it came back around to her (look it up in the lexicon)and I wasn't going to do interfering-my-child-should-win mom thing.

And there's part of me that's enjoying this. Look, she really wants to win and part of that is being 6 and part of that is life and I'm pretty sure she's going to get dinged out because these kids are older and I think it's good for her to compete and it's good for her lose, and that's the way of the world. Maybe I'm a little bitter because in this playwriting/screenwriting business I am rejected at least once a day but it is always a question I have at developmental school - how will this teach my child to be in the real world if there's never any winning or losing in a competitive sense (this from the woman who as a kid never came close to winning anything sport-wise until my 9th birthday bowling party when I did win fair and square and my mother took my bowling trophy away and gave it to my cousin who came in second because it was unseemly for the birthday girl to win - which was just unfair and horrifying and probably says something about me now - after cake they caved and bought another trophy)??? What horror story will she be telling when she's older and blogging about how all this non-competitive stuff affected her in a competitive world?

And then it's down to her and a boy. An 11 year old boy who really really didn't want to lose to a 6 year old girl. Let's just put it this way - Julia will never forget the goblin Griphook again. And the prize goes to 11 year old boy.

She burst into tears. Genuine sad sad sad disappointed tears. Which - I must say - broke my heart because she did so well - she beat out all the other kids except one and now, now I'm thinking gee, I like developmental school because I don't have to deal with this kind of heartbreak in my kid on a daily basis.

And my eyes met the eyes of the woman running the contest as I'm telling Julia how great she was, really, and then she scrambles for a prize for the runner up (she's a goddess) and the irony is is that Julia gets the cherry flavored floo powder (which has disappeared into the black hole of her room, probably never to be eaten) and the BOY WHO WON got phoenix eggs so spicy that all the kids had to try them and then were gulping down water like they swallowed actual fire.

So it was somehow fitting that my daughter's first test was a Harry Potter one, and first "bee" a Harry Potter bee, but it left me really thinking about how I can and will handle her heartbreak for the rest of her life. Because as much as I would like to hope that candy will ameliorate all sadness, there are definitely going to be wounds I cannot fix - how will I teach her to roll with what happens when life hands her questions she can't answer?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Very Harry Thanksgiving

My lovely (talented beautiful intelligent) 14 year niece arrived for Turkey day and the hero worshipping began. Julia may be obsessed with Harry Potter but worship JL from head to toe. And thankfully the two have something big to bond over - because how much do a 6 and 1/2 year and a 14 year old really have in common - but they do - Harry Potter.

The two of them chatter at each other in English accents and JL dives right into Julia's collection of wands and Harry Potter figurines, bookends, action figures (hell, the girl never really went Barbie wild so she's got a lot of HP stuff) but the most precious moment of HP loyalty displayed came towards the end of the trip when Julia showed her the Gryffindor sweatshirt and Slytherin sweatshirt that came via owl in the magical box of swag that our friend Prof. S, who works directly for Harry, it appears, sent earlier this summer. The sweatshirts are a little big for Julia but fit JL perfectly. Julia offered her the Slytherin sweatshirt (I'm sure because she never intends on wearing something from that evil house). But JL tried it on and couldn't bear the sight of herself in it. She felt like a traitor to her precious Ron, Hermione and Harry. Julia came up with a plan- - JL could put one of those red circles with a line through it over the Slytherin logo. Still no go. She couldn't bring herself to do it.

I have the feeling that sweatshirt may go unworn by both of my HP fanatics, unless they get a little bad boy Draco in their lives. And I love that they have values - and are fiercely loyal. School spirit, as it were....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

back into the deathly hallows

so, we were on hiatus, not just with the starting of 1st grade at pre-Hogwarts, but J discovered a new treasure -  THE BORROWERS - and since she's been getting them out of the library, Harry had been stuck wandering the woods with Ron and Hermione far longer than he would have otherwise.   Part of it, I think, is that she really doesn't want the series to end so we're stretching it out.  There's been plenty of listening to earlier books on CD (ahhh the dulcet sounds of Jim Dale, fantastic, even if I think his Hermione is a touch too shrill/whiney) on drives for apple picking or just for school.  But now we've re-entered the Deathly Hallows and like any true addict, one little taste and little J was begging for more.

So we're back.  But let me tell you about the delightfulness of THE BORROWERS, the series set in the early part of the 1900s about the little people who live among us and steal (excuse me, "borrow") our possessions for their own use.   It's become J's fantasy - every time something goes missing (like where the hell are those pink American Girl pajamas?  curtains in a little family's room?)  Or what would the borrowers use this object for?  At PopPop's apartment she even left objects out for them to take.  

But still the love for Harry prevails.  As  I read to her tonight she gazed at her wall of HP pinups -  THREE different calendars, a cover of a magazine, little cake HP figures...aahhhh young love.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

oh the sadness of the end being nigh....

We finished book six a couple of weeks ago and I've been holding off on book 7, primarily because we're going to be travelling and it's not out in paperback yet and I'm not lugging the tome in my "now we pay an extra $15 dollars" luggage around New York, Long Island and Cleveland (annual visit the family summer festivities) as much as I love bringing HP with me on trips because I know it's good reading material for us both.

This morning Julia sat on the couch with me. " I don't want book 7 to be the last book". Yeah,Link neither did a zillion other folks. She has fantasies that Rowling will come to her senses and write a book 8 or 9 or 21.

I did not tell her I pre-ordered Beedle the Bard on Amazon. Couldn't help myself, the email came and I clicked the link and realize now I have at least one Hannukah present taken care of. Though without Harry, I'm not certain of its appeal. And no, I did not succumb to the collectors edition.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's definitely genetic -

Had a lovely experience at my almost 14 year old niece's middle school graduation last week (sappy Aunt Jen cries). This is her speech - a finalist in the school competition - which not only proves Harry Potter obsession is genetic but is wonderful and charming and shows I have some serious family competition in the writing business.

When I reflect on the past three years at Mill Valley Middle School, I like to compare them to Harry Potter’s six years at Hogwarts; after all, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been around since we were in kindergarten.

When I think of science, I think of Potions class. This isn’t because Ms. D reminds me of Professor Snape, but because we started out this year doing chemistry. It all seemed like magic, especially when your average pink substance turned blue, and started to smell like the sewage plant next door to MVMS.

Social Studies reminds me of Defense Against the Dark Arts, because of the Current Events we focused on. These included the crisis of water bottles contributing to landfill waste and global warming. Harry and his friends learn about the dangers of Voldemort, and how to protect the Wizarding World. Likewise, we’ve learned ways to protect our world from this crisis.

When I think about Language Arts, I relate it to Charms, because everyday we learn something new like appositives, conjunctions, or prepositions. Then we practice them over and over, like Harry does with spells.

In chorus we sang the song “Double Trouble” from the third Harry Potter movie, and although we were in our hot old gym instead of the luminous Great Hall, it was still very fun because Ms. S was so enthusiastic!

Of course, large parts of the Harry Potter series are the occasions when Harry faces Voldemort. We have definitely had to face some fierce battles of our own throughout our three years here. One challenge for me was Algebra. Finding the solution for “x” was almost as hard as finding the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.

Another Voldemort-like challenge for us are friendships. There is always some secret being told, or some heart being broken. But however much tension there is, we find a way to get through it. There are always those moments of inexplicable laughter that simply lightens our day, like conjuring your first Patronus in the Room of Requirement.

I may not be able to predict the future like Professor Trelawney, but I know that High school will bring changes, especially with friends branching off to other schools or moving away. But whatever it does bring, we will always have the incredible memories of the magical years spent at Mill Valley Middle School.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Harry Potter Prequel!

So Rowling has written an 800 word prequel to HP to auction off for charity.   By hand.   Now perhaps if I were the best mom in the world I would get that for Julia for her birthday but since I've been out of work since before the strike I think buying the mass produced published version when it comes out might be better.

I think I'm going to have to have Julia try to write one of these - 
- just for the possibility of being part of the whole thing.  Wouldn't that be cool

Monday, May 26, 2008

a very harry potter birthday

So the birthday fast approaches (June 4) and yesterday we pulled out all the stops and threw Julia's birthday party - very appropriately a Harry Potter Dark Art Party - because she loves HP and she loves art. Pals were asked to wear magical clothes and they started off at this amazing place in west la - Creative Space - where there was tatooing and nail painting and wandmaking and potion making and wizarding class and a seemingly accident waiting to happen obstacle course that I was sure someone would break their neck during so I was glad we ruled out little kids and Quidditch (which turned more into dodgeball with those floatie noodle things between their legs) and the very Muggle snack of juice boxes and pizza - and, of course, CAKE!

I got a "best mommy in the world" when we picked up the cake (thank you Ralphs) - wish I'd had the time and energy to be Martha and make it myself but this made her happier than any I could come up with I'm sure. I can just picture now the gloppy purple dyed icing falling over wizard hat cake that would have come out of my kitchen - all vomity and unappetizing.

The "best kid in the world" part - Julia asked her friends to bring a new book instead of a present for her and she's donating all of them to Operation Schoolbell tomorrow after school. At one point I thought she was going to ask everyone to bring a Harry Potter book to donate but she let them pick their own - funny thing, not one person brought a Harry Potter book to donate (from Fancy Nancy to Chronicles of Narnia and a wide range in between!).

Monday, May 5, 2008


We're closing in on the end of The Order of the Phoenix. And this morning - before school - I read to Julia the last two pages of the chapter where Sirius dies. It's an interesting death in that it's not bloody or violent, there's no body to recover, no corpse to weep over. He disappears behind the veil and he is gone.

And I'm wondering why Rowling chose that route. Did she think Cedric's death was enough, having that body to weep over? Was having Sirius merely fall behind the curtain a hint he could return, (even if having read book 7 we know he doesn't). Did she contemplate that? Magical deaths appear to be much cleaner than gunshots and plane crashes and knife fights - is this a somewhat sanitized version for kids as we move into the harsher books 6 and 7?

As for Julia - she knew it was coming because her friend W has filled her in on some plot points but she's trying to figure it out...coming to me tonight to find out when Dumbledore dies (yeah, he spilled that too). And she's lying in bed right now, sounding out words in one of her more age-appropriate books. Soon she'll be reading HP to herself and I'll be obsolete. And sad.

Harry Potter falls off the best seller list?!

Say it isn't so!

Must be Voldemort's doing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

and crafty too?

OK - Julia does want me to teach her how to knit, but I am not that accomplished. I am able to surf the net at all hours of the night but knit, not so much. I did rug-hook as a kid but I pretty much think that's a lost art (or at least I've lost it).

But spotting this book - oh, it may be incentive for us both to learn. If I were Mrs. Weasley I could charm some knitting needles and pump out some sweaters. Julia does want a Weasley sweater with a big J on it (or is it a big G since she believe's she Ginny, it's so hard to figure out).

Monday, April 21, 2008

if i were a good mom -

this would be Julia's birthday cake -

obviously scroll down to hogwarts -

experiencing operating difficulties?

OK - I've posted a couple of times since our return from the Harry Potter tour of the century but somehow I must have screwed up and not pressed the publish button? So - postings lost to the ether....never to be recovered. I assure you that they were my most insightful, most brilliant yet.

So the jet lag is way over, the shortbreads are consumed, the tartan hat worn to school with pride, and we are into the depths of book 5. I am also getting harassed daily by my lovely daughter to let her watch the movies already, even though she gets scared at scenes in Stuart Little. She tries to force pinky promises on me (damn that hurts) and has no sense yet that deals and bargains actually have to be entered into by both parties.

Yesterday she grabbed her quill (yes, I bought her a quill in London) and paper to write her essays for Transfiguration and Divination and Potions in the car on the way to seder. Then she got upset at how many essays she had to do for school and told us that first year Gryffindor students had special dispensation to have their parents write their essays for the.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

no more big red, julia's going to oxford

yes, it helps that the great hall in Christ Church was the Harry Potter dining hall....She has left her Cornell aspirations behind.

We did Oxford - not too shabby of course, Sunday, before going to Stratford for me (not enough time to indulge my Shakespeare cravings ) and then driving to my sister's in Scotland (where we did discuss Harry Potter with the Buddhist nuns at Samye Linge, where we toured and saw the amazing temple, ate lunch, strangely had a wonderful cappuccino in the coffee house there...and more and more...but I digress). Julia was totally infatuated...and when we had dinner later that night there was a guy at another table that would make my niece JL look twice, a bit of a ringer for Rupert Grynt. After spotting a Harry Potterish looking teen at our hotel in London - is it a wonder that I think we're doomed to be visiting these girls in the UK for college?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Platform 9 and 3/4

So today we did it - after witnessing the classic (and freezing - it's insanely coldwetcold here) changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (no queen but a horse who obviously couldn't wait to boogie) we spent the afternoon on the London Harry Potter taxi tour with our tour guide, Carol. Evidently doing just the 3 1/2 tour is a rare thing - most people book the 10 or 12 hour tour that includes Oxford and the place where the classrooms were shot. But we stuck to the good old London scene. It seemed to baffle Carol a bit, how to describe anything to Julia when she hadn't seen the movies yet. I don't know if the books were her thing quite as much - but we did about 10 stops in the afternoon and considering the bitter bitter cold and a 5 year old's tired feet I'm glad we did it.

I'll add links another time (finally adding them today -slacker jetlagged blogger mom) but we started with Kings Cross - Carol pointed out which building had been used as the outside of the station as Kings Cross itself is so not pretty. We scooted inside - changing Julia into her Hogwarts robe (couldn't resist) to see several sites of the movie. The bridge you see Harry and Hagrid on, the clocks, the platform that they really filmed (number 5), the wall where the kids disappear into platform 9 3/4 (Julia tried, but obviously not being 11 yet she couldn't get through) (in the meantime btw it started sleeting outside) and then, outside to the tourist attraction of them all - see picture above - platform 9 3/4. There's my girl taking off for magical boarding school!
We went to the site that Warner Bros "stole" for Grimmauld place - evidently the folks who lived there wanted too much cash for location so WB just built their own exact copy. And then to the Australia House - the site of Gringotts bank. Off to the passages leading up to Diagon Alley (Leadenhall) and the site that had been transformed as the entrance to Diagon Alley. Then of course my camera battery died (damn that overzealous photo taking mommy) and we must rely on Aunt Miriam's with which we took photos but she doesn't know how to download them yet.
A project for Scotland.
We went from Diagon Alley to an open air organic market that is across from a beautiful classically rundown shop under the train arch that was the Leaky Cauldron. It hailed again! We went to London Bridge to hear all about how Harry had flown on Thestrals and Broomsticks over the Thames, back to the Globe to hear the Globe connection (Zoe Wanamaker aka Madame Hooch is the daughter of the man who headed the restoration of the Globe - Sam Wanamaker) and check out The Millenium Bridge again, where Carol believes they filmed for Movie 6 (collapsing Bridge), and the Lambeth Bridge (at which point Julia didn't want to get out of the car again and I couldn't blame her) and then on to Scotland Yard - otherwise known as the Ministry of Magic. I'm sure I've forgotten something along the lines but it was a cool day and will be better when I have all the photos for Julia to compare to when she does see the movies.
But right now she's cuddled on her hotel room bed, listening to Mike read HP5 the second chapter...."addressed to Petunia Dursley at number 4 Privet Drive...."

Friday, March 21, 2008

julia's magical weather

Today - after soaring through the sky on the London Eye, being knighted by a silver Dumbledore, riding the carousel and going to the Globe - where we saw a cool actress chick learning to stage-fight from her fellows, mesmerzing J - and then touring the Globe (sidebar - Julia asked the best questions of the group if I say so in the proud mommy way myself - querying the guide as to what would happen to the not royalty folks if they wore the royal purple or red (fined!) or if the canon that started the London fire was still in the room above the stage (no)) - we crossed the Thames by way of the millenium footbridge.

As we walked over the bridge the skies darkened and winds kicked up, grey clouds rolled in. I told Julia the Dementors must be around. She braved the winds and let out a cry over the river - Expecto Patronum. Expecto Patronum. I could swear I saw a bit of the sun peek through.

Then three minutes later it started to HAIL!!! Some powers my kid has!

P.S. our hotel - not the swanky Marriott - but the unswanky but totally fine Premier Inn is right behind the London Eye, really couldn't get a better location for a better price!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Landed in the land of Harry Potter this morning on just a few hours of sleep but have been going all day in cold rain with Julia serenading the world with Harry and the Potters at various intervals. Took her to see the crown jewels and boat ride up the Thames and across the bridge and now are safely ensconced in our hotel room, exhausted, waiting for Aunt Miriam to show up.

She's carrying her Harry and Ginny action figures with her. Trying to figure out which Harry Potter things to do - Platform 9 3/4 - we'll see you soon!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You might be thinking -

- that since I haven't posted in a few weeks the Harry obsession has waned. But no - despite my getting mired in a business trip to Chicago and a very very intense web series shoot, much of which took place in my own home - the "I wanna be Mrs. Harry Potter" cry has not diminished at all. You saw the report card (progress report? Whatever they call those things in progressive developmental private schools).

The other night was the war of her crying that we had to start reading her book 5 NOW! Which I wouldn't. Little does she know that we bought a paperback copy to take on our flight to London on Wednesday. London, where we will be immersed in Muggle England with the hope of seeing some witches and wizards amongst the crowds.

This is how contagious Julia's obsession is - it turns out that a friend knew Daniel Radcliffe's mom long ago - she mentions it in passing and all I can think is that if I could have her meet him I would be the coolest mom ever. Something I would never do probably even if I had the chance to have her do it because I do know he's a person and an actor and not HP himself (Julia blurs that distinction) but for a moment I really really want to be the coolest mom ever.

Kindergarten report card

Julia's progress report says - and I quote

"She has a wonderful, playful imagination and her dictations, when not centered on Harry Potter, are very creative."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Presenting Hogwarts....part 1

Just so you know - it took Mike, Julia and me several hours just to put together this part 1. The whole thing is pretty awesome....and now that it's built, here's where the hours of stories and imagination come in.

As much as it's pretty incredible - I still miss the days when Legos didn't have instructions. I feel like kids today have lost the ability to putter, to daydream, to be bored, see where boredom leads them. Is it we don't allow them to be bored?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fare Thee Well Frogwarts - Hello Hogwarts...

Sometime a few months ago, Julia and I found some origami paper my sister had slipped her last year and a Jewish Holiday Origami book that I don't really know how I got but I have a dim memory of buying at a gift shop in Little Tokyo pre- Julia and pre-Michael as a gift for more uber-Jewish friends that I never gave them. Anyway, there's instructions for origami frogs (the plagues, the frogs...stretching I think but that was the Passover origami, which was better than the origami matzah cover, which was just lame.). So Julia wanted me to make her a frog (better made with index cards because then they actually can jump) and she drew Harry Potter glasses on it and for the next week I was making Dumbledore frogs and Dobby frogs and you get my drift.

And then...the icing on the cake....Julia built Frogwarts from cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls. Frogwarts proudly occupied a corner of the living room - added to every time we finished another roll (seriously, you never saw a kid's eyes light up the way her's did when I waved a little cardboard tube at her). But this weekend Julia finally scored her Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Legos - long awaited because she had to scrape together her own money for it and she spent a lot of time calculating how many more teeth she needed to lose to make the $16 she had left to get. We had a yard sale on Saturday and my rule is is that if she sells her old toys she gets to keep the money (great de-cluttering incentive) so now she has about 2 dollars and 73 cents but she's also got Hogwarts.

And stunner for mom, here. Legos aren't the legos of my childhood where you spent hours puttering around with them, creating and pulling apart and creating. Legos now have instructions, legos have a right way to do them, legos have a wrong way to them. On Sunday Julia actually said (having spent the afternoon constructing with her pal W and his mom and me) "I'm not very good at legos." How can you be not good at legos??? - is my thought - but these days you actually can be. And no, I didn't tell her that. This was actually her first major lego set and they're for 7-12 year olds and she's 5 1/2 and hell, her dad (retro guy that he is) just blithely opened plastic bags at first, neglecting the numbers, neglecting the instructions! And as the weekend and the many hours passed with help from me and him, and W and W's older brother N who is a freaking lego genius, she got a little better.

Crap, now legos can give your kid an inferiority complex? What is the world coming to?
And for that - dusty and messy as it was, ruining the (ha ha) aesthetic of my living room - I'm going to really miss Frogwarts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Mensch who lived?!

Defamer claims Harry Potter (aka Daniel Radcliffe) is a member of the tribe (or my tribe) - wow, a magical jewish son-in-law-to-be.

Rowling a creative copyright hog? Oh please!

This from yesterday's New York Times - Joe Nocera has decided that Rowling is a "copyright hog" because she doesn't want to allow the publication of a Harry Potter encyclopedia (Harry Potter Lexicon) that won't even consult with her and her publishers about the content. She may want to publish her own lexicon some day (for charity). Oh man, she is just being so greedy. And what if she doesn't publish her own? Why should the Harry Potter Lexicon guy have the right to do so because he's turned his obsessive website (which she does allow) into a book? Just how is she stifling creativity by not allowing someone else to profit off her characters?

Here's the deal guys - it's her choice. Harry Potter came from her imagination; she wrote seven novels over however many years, and strangely she wants to be paid for work that is derivative of that - and, at least have some jurisdiction over it. Rocera likens this to a parent who was told to take a video of their baby off YouTube because there's a Prince song playing in the background - and although I personally think, what harm is there in that because there's no personal profit in posting something to YouTube I get Prince's point. Wasn't this partially the reason I just spent three months walking in circles carrying a big stick? Oh - I get it, Nocera's poor friend wasn't allowed to use a clip from 24 in a documentary and he's standing up for the little guy.

A few years ago I wrote a short play about two girls auditioning for "The Crucible" that used 63 words from the text because I was told that 75 words was the fair use limit; the whole thing really started as a playwriting challenge from a group I was involved with. When I found out that it was going to be produced at a major festival I sped up my efforts to get the rights to those words, to be fully on the up and up. I couldn't - Miller was sick, I couldn't get it pushed through his people, I was incredibly anxious I was going lose the production. I went back to the original Salem Witch Trial transcripts, hoping the words I had chosen were something Miller had pulled from there. He hadn't.

I rewrote it - "The Crucible" became inspiration and I didn't use a word of Miller's play in it. And you know what - I think version 2.0 became a much better play.

Deciding someone can't use a huge chunk of your creative work without compensation or permission doesn't have to stifle creativity - it can engender it.

Perhaps "fair use" needs to be defined as what the author/creator deems fair - not the other way around. It's a risk if you want to co-opt someone else's work - good thing Shakespeare isn't around anymore because he'd be up to his ying-yang in copyright lawsuits.

And now back to how Harry Potter has inspired my child.

Friday, February 8, 2008

London baby (Scotland too)

Aunt Miriam lives in Scotland and we're going to visit in March, stopping in London on the way.

Seriously, the fact that Harry Potter lives in London and goes to school in Scotland has nothing to do with it. Really.

Perhaps we'll manage to sneak in seeing the Queen and riding the London Eye between scouring the crowds for badly dressed Wizards and hoping to catch a ride at platform 9 and 3/4s

Monday, February 4, 2008

Double Happiness

Thursday night Julia complained about something hard in her tasty pasta at Swingers where we were enjoying the free meal anonymous-actor-guy-who-everyone-claims-to-know has offered up to the striking WGA writers (as a matter of fact, we made friends with the striking family in the next booth) - Anyway - the hard thing, apparently was not a reason to call the health department about a violation but was her second tooth...which passed down her esophagus before we realized what was happening. The news she'd swallowed her tooth made her burst into tears into I assured her the Tooth Fairy would still visit. She cheered up enough at the writing of the above letter (translation: I don't know why I swallowed my tooth but it's the truth) - and yes, her dollar was under her pillow in the morning.

Double Happiness - that night we read the last few words of Goblet of Fire...ahh the blessed "The End". The chapter at night is always followed by the cries of "One More Page"...after the end of Goblet of Fire she cried "One More Book!"

I'm holding off - she wants to go back into Goblet of Fire again but Mommy Needs A Breather!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Loving the Gay Dead Headmaster bling!

Just digging the thought of this button on the Popgoesthelibrary post.

Would it be wrong to get one for Julia?

Getting to the Hard Part

(DANGER WILL ROBINSON: there are spoilers in the following post if you haven't read book 4 - Goblet of Fire yet.)

So we're nearing the end of book 4. As a matter of fact we had a babysitter last night and she was forbidden to read past the end of the Third Task chapter because I knew what was coming and I wanted to be around for it. I finished the Third Task chapter with Julia this morning, my brother, who is town, read her some of the next chapter today. The tough chapter. The hard chapter. The one that I haven't been wanting to think about reading to Julia.

Julia: Is Cedric dead?

And that's not even the hard question. The hard question is

Julia: Why?

How do you explain to a 5 1/2 year old about why people kill? Because even if they're magical mystical fictional people, magical mystical fictional people die almost the same way as un-magical un-mystical non-fictional people. Julia gets "dead" on a certain level. My mom passed away long before she was born and it's something we talk about a lot. But how do you explain to her about why someone would want to make someone else dead? Because that's something I don't think I will ever understand - what it takes to take someone's life.

Right now we're in the good guy/bad guy explanation. But she's going to get it soon - that this was a situation of someone who didn't value another life at all. She's going to get that Voldemort is evil. And she's going to get that if there's that kind of random horrible evil in the magical mystical fiction world, it probably exists in our not quite as interesting world. She's 5 1/2 and as much as I've tried to shield her from the horribly disappointing revelation that there are some people in the world who operate as if they are without souls it's seeping into her consciousness with glimpses at the front page of the newspaper or a channel not changed quickly enough or just what she overhears at school.

So Why? I don't have an answer for Why, baby. As a matter of fact I have the same question.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Loving Books - just a little too much

There's no school today so the moment little Miss Ginny - I mean Julia - woke up she asked me to read to her. Our ritual is she has to read (or try to read) the chapter number and title (The Egg and the Eye, if you must know).

Julia: Mommy, one day I was looking at the other words for where I saw the words Harry Potter and then I kissed the words!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crushing on Harry(s)

Julia and her friend E.H. are having a playdate as we speak. After forcing her new favorite song on EH (Harry and the Potters - about Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who lives in the Hogwarts Bathroom, who has a crush on Harry) she is now explaining the meaning of the word "crush".

Julia: it's when you really really like someone so much you want to marry them.

E: so you have a crush on Harry?

Julia: No...I love Harry.

P.S. By the way, Julia has informed me if she can't marry Harry Potter, she will marry the guy from Harry and the Potters. Nice she's willing to consider a real - albeit way older - man.

Friday, January 18, 2008

perhaps she can seg from this to kindergarten graduation?

The Boy Who Lived Goes Ivy League!

In today's N.Y. Times

Arts, Briefly

Hogwarts Founder to Address Harvard

Published: January 18, 2008

J. K. Rowling, who gave the world Harry Potter, will be the principal speaker at the afternoon exercises of Harvard University’s 357th commencement on June 5. “Perhaps no one in our time has done more than J. K. Rowling to inspire young people to experience the excitement and sheer joy of reading,” said Drew Gilpin Faust, the university’s president.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

WGA Strike - Potterless Post

I mentioned - more than once I'm sure - that I'm on strike (not as a parent or a playwright but for that pesky tv/screenwriting thing that sometimes thankfully pays the rent). Just wanted to memorialize Julia's contribution to the cause.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WitchCraft & Wizardry School!

There are times when I'm sad Julia can't read yet (like this week when I've lost my voice but all she can think is Goblet of Fire) and times when I'm pretty glad.
If she could read she might insist we go to this  Wizarding School
(we could stay in a room that Daniel Radcliffe stayed in )
In a perfect world  we'd take the whole family on the London/Scotland trip.  Personally I think I would totally love the Hogwarts banquet at the Edinburgh Castle.  And a Herbology Lesson in The Old Operating Theatre...Sadly the Wizarding Game (Quidditch?) is land-based but you can't have everything.
The lovely thing about this one is we end in Edinburgh, only a few short hours away from visiting Aunt Miriam (who, good aunt that she is, has now read the entire series in the last few months and I believe has been swept up by the magic as well).
The lower-rent option might be one of these Harry Potter tours in London
or perhaps just a jaunt on the Hogwarts Express?
All right, a striking writer girl can dream, can't she?
Or does anyone need to employ above striking writer girl with Harry Potter obsessed 5 year old to be a non-striking travel writer?

(by the way, what I totally dig about the picture above, swiped from Flying with Harry by Travelogger is finding out that the railway station from the Harry Potter Books - London's King Cross Station - now has this luggage cart jammed halfway into the wall at where platform 9 3/4 would be). 

some little girl is going to be awfully happy

thegossiphound claims that JK Rowling's going to write an 8th book. Not for 10 years or so but by then at least I won't be reading it out loud.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Julia = Cho Chang?

Tonight we read Chapter Twenty Two - The Unexpected Task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Harry struggles to get up the guts to ask Cho Chang to the ball.

Julia: Mommy, instead of reading Cho Chang's name will you put my name in instead?

Believe it or not, I turned her down.

Harry Potter and the....or my child the wizard home-wrecker

Today's conversation in the car on the way to school:

Julia:  I'm going to tell Harry to close his eyes and bend down and then I'm going to kiss him and he's going to open his eyes and then we get married!  Isn't that AWESOME?

Me:  ...yeah...

Julia: There's a new first-year in school and he falls in love with her -

Me:  and what's that first year's name? (like I don't know)

Julia:  Julia!... And then I write my next book - Harry Potter and the Wizard Breakup.

Monday, January 14, 2008

handball or harry?

The other afternoon at school pickup the assistant teacher for our kindergarten class cornered me. It went something like this.

Mrs. N: "Did Julia tell you what she's doing at school?" Mrs. N is totally excited.

Me (thinking oh crap!): No...what?

Mrs. N: She's playing handball!

Me (puzzled, thinking this is about legendary family klutziness): Oh...yeah...she mentioned that.

Mrs. N: Isn't it great?

I am obviously so not getting it.

Me: This is a good thing?

Mrs. N: She's not playing some made up game.

Me: Oh.

OK - I still don't get it. Can anyone enlighten me? Because I was that kid, the kid playing made-up games. Granted they weren't made up games in the Harry Potter games ripped off Willy Wonka (my friend Beth and I had a glass walkway that transported us home from school) and Nancy Drew and a myriad of other stories I made up with my friend Veronica (in which I was somehow always a boy named Peter.). So I'm not getting it because did I turn out so bad?

Granted - I'm a writer on strike but still.

Can someone enlighten me? Am I supposed to squash the imaginative play to play squash?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So Quidditch isn't just a preschool sport anymore -

Last year - at her preschool - Julia taught the other kids how to play Quidditch. Kids who had never heard of Harry Potter, suddenly she's the coach for a game that's about flying, bludgers, snitches on the preschool playground. She went to visit after leaving and they flocked around her - "Julia, let's play Quidditch." Seriously, she wants her own Firebolt.

But now I think she should perhaps practice a bit more to gear up for a college team - perhaps a Quidditch scholarship is in order? I'm psyched to see that my alma mater Cornell may have a team soon -

...from the Amherst Student

Quidditch: Taking Off at Amherst?
By Robyn Bahr. Published Wednesday December 5, 2007

Muggles of Amherst, unite! To play Quidditch, of course.

No, this is no Fred and George Weasley-worthy prank. The official wizarding sport of the United Kingdom and most of the world (excluding the United States, which prefers a variant game known as “Quodpot”) will hopefully be making a permanent appearance at a local Northeastern liberal arts college near you next fall.

That’s right. Quidditch might be coming to Amherst.

In last Wednesday’s issue of USA Today, which featured a piece on the increasing popularity of collegiate Quidditch, co-founder of Middlebury’s team, Alex Benepe ’09 was quoted saying that he plans to recruit other nearby colleges into forming an intercollegiate league next spring. Middlebury’s Quidditch team has been widely regarded as the premier squad among roughly 50 schools across the nation since it started the craze in fall 2005.

Benepe told USA Today, “My vision is to get a couple van-loads of Middlebury players, all of the necessary equipment and Snitch runners, and travel to four to five colleges in the Northeast and get some games going.” According to the article, Amherst, along with Williams College and Colgate University, are among the schools on his roster.

Quidditch is a complicated but exhilarating sport played (and worshipped) by Harry Potter and his friends in the beloved book series and respected movie franchise. The game, which by nature is rapidly paced and often violent, holds a fervent following in the wizarding world like that of European football. It is played in the air, with each of the teams’ seven players mounted on broomsticks. In Muggle Quidditch, players must run around the field with broomsticks sandwiched between their legs. There are four balls: one Quaffle, two Bludgers and the Golden Snitch.

Three chasers play offense, passing the Quaffle (a somewhat — deflated volleyball in the earthbound game) among themselves as they make their way to the opposite side of the field, where the Keeper (goalie) guards three hoops that resemble the little bubble wands that children use. One goal is worth 10 points.

In the meantime, two Beaters chuck small, dark and dense Bludgers at opposing players to divert their attention and keep them from scoring. Bludgers are probably the most dangerous aspect of the wizarding game because they are enchanted to inflict as much harm as possible on opposing team members. Fortunately, the Muggle variant does not involve the same risk of injury. This, however, does not mean that the grounded game is fairy play. In Muggle Quidditch, once a Bludger strikes a player, he loses possession of the Quaffle and must go to his goal zone before resuming the chase.

Finally the Seeker, usually the fastest player on the team, must capture the elusive Snitch, a tiny winged object the size of a golf ball that flitters around the pitch. The capturing of the Snitch signals the end of the game and awards the Seeker’s team an extra 150 points in the original game and 50 points in the adopted one.

Muggle Quidditch uses a Snitch that dangles from a sock protruding from the back pocket of a swift cross-country who has the run of the campus and must return to the field every 10 minutes so that the game does not become too drawn-out. (At Marlboro College in Vermont, the Snitch is played by a toy helicopter that must be seized before it smashes into the ground.)

Although Benepe has yet to contact the colleges on his list, he is “determined to follow through on [the spring trip].” According to him, Quidditch is adored at Middlebury even though it is not an official club sport. His team gets most of its money through fundraising and special funds the college sets aside for “things like this.”

Although most of Benepe’s teammates (about 150 regular players) participate for the love of the game and love of the Harry Potter series, they are also serious about the athleticism Quidditch demands.

“The game itself has a tendency to get very rough — I have seen headlocks, body slams, slide tackling, body tackling and pile drivers, not to mention the occasional accidental elbow or broom to the face (which is why all players must wear lacrosse goggles). I try to encourage clean playing but I do not want to burden players with too many rules, as creative plays are a very vital part of the game,” says Benepe.

The game is spreading to college campuses across the nation. The “Intercollegiate Quidditch Association” Facebook group, which boasts over 1,000 members, has almost 40 colleges listed on its rota, including Amherst. It has even spawned a number of YouTube videos documenting the games, which are surprisingly vigorous but amusing — a love child between soccer and lacrosse hyped-up on Sugar Quills and Fizzing Whizbees.

Benepe says that students interested in starting Quidditch teams at Amherst or other schools must secure a centrally located field on campus and publicize the event to attract at least 100 potential players and spectators. They would also need to make meals and sleeping arrangements for as many as 20 to 30 visiting players. The Middlebury team plans to bring the necessary equipment, which includes brooms, pinnies, hoops, banners and the Snitch.

“By next fall I predict that over 100 schools will have a quidditch team or league up and running, and a good handful of them should be present at the World Cup next november.”

If Middlebury succeeds in recruiting Amherst into an intercollegiate Quidditch league, it can potentially be the most exciting phenomenon to ever hit the campus. That is, if the game can draw enough Amherstians to participate.

Taking part in this league would most likely have Amherst playing against Middlebury, Vassar, Union, Dartmouth and Marlboro Colleges and Cornell University, among others.

So, here’s to hoping that the Amherst Acromantulas will kick their arses.

Robyn Bahr owns many first-edition Harry Potter action figures that would have been worth hundreds of dollars if she hadn’t opened the boxes to play with them.

Also - this article in USA TODAY by Craig Wilson has some great muggle quidditch footage attached...with these rules that I think I need to explain to Julia ASAP:


So, here's how Quidditch is played according to earthbound rules:

Brooms are required, leaving only one hand available, making the game harder as you chase the game ball, a slightly deflated volleyball.

Each team has seven players.

Three chasers throw the ball among them as they work down the field. If they get it through one of three circular goals (think hula hoops on poles), the team scores 10 points.

At the same time, two other team members fling around dark balls called bludgers in an attempt to distract and knock over opposing players. When a player is hit with a bludger, he must drop any ball he is holding and run back to his goal zone before he can make any more plays.

Seekers try to catch the most elusive ball, the Golden Snitch. In the Rowling books, the Snitch flies about independently. In real life, it hangs in a sock from the shorts of a player selected for fleetness of foot. The Snitch disappears for periods of time, reappearing on the field to shrieks of the crowd. The Snitch player has a much larger boundary than the others, often covering a large part of campus. Seekers can follow him. Catching the Snitch is worth 50 points, and once the Snitch is caught, the game ends.

a mom's dilemma or how to teach your daughter some kind of feminism rather than a cosmo-kill-the-bitch-who-stole-my-man ethos

Julia used to want to be Ginny Weasley. Seriously, it was her Halloween costume, red wig and Hogwarts robe, though she was disappointed that those not in the know assumed she was Hermione. So first she wanted to be Ginny Weasley.

Then she wanted Ginny Weasley...well...terminated.

You see she got mad at Ginny because Ginny marries Harry (remember I didn't spill all the plotpoints to Julia, a school friend did - we're still on the prepubescent first pages of book 4...and it does make me wonder, what happens when a wizard has a wet dream?...ok, I digress...but really, what happens?).

So Ginny marries Harry and Julia hated her guts because she stole her wizard ( get my drift.) And I'm trying to imbue her with some feminist zen about how she shouldn't be mad at Ginny for marrying Harry....if anything perhaps to be mad at Harry for falling for Ginny (not that you could really call this any kind of betrayal because fictional wizard boy does not even know that this five year old exists and he's too old for her anyway).

I'm working on this here. I've always hated women for hating women more for "stealing" their man than the man who allowed himself to be stolen himself. (Full disclosure - I've been on the hated side while the woman took the man who came after me while dating her back, and then badmouthed me to the universe. Hello! He's the one who claimed he was breaking up with you and I was an idiot - with no promises made to you - but he was more of an idiot with promises made to you and now you're back together with him and I'm the bad guy????). Anyway, I'm explaining to her about being kind to other women, especially those who are with a guy you're interested in which is OK if they didn't know you were interested (read obsessed). So maybe be disgruntled with Harry because he hasn't recognized that the two of you are really soulmates but leave the other chick alone.

A moment or two of digesting this in the back seat.

Julia: But Mom - Harry is famous so I shouldn't be mad at him because he is more famous.

Have I mentioned we live in LA?

BTW - stumbled across the free downloadable posters on the Scholastic Site - note the lower left hand corner, Harry under Cupid's cloud with what looks like Cho Chang. We printed the Order of the Phoenix one out tonight and Julia pointed at Cho and said "Mommy, can I pretend this is me?"

Go to scholastic and download some - they're awfully cute but I can't seem to post them here.

And now she just claimed Cho Chang looks like her in the picture...oh....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

perhaps addiction...I mean obsession runs in the family...

Sleeping in the next room is my incredibly delightful 13 year old niece, JL ( visiting) and Julia. They should be exhausted - they've spent the last twenty-four hours spinning tales as Ginny (Julia) and Hermione (JL), also doing other HP characters, using the insanely cool Dumbledore's army action figures I got Julia for Chanukah (more on the great lengths and quasi- overindulgent Harry Potter gifts I got for Julia in another post).

In the car on the ride home from Pasadena I was dying for a video camera or at least a tape recorder as they spun tales of Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny with British accents (JL's is killer and Julia's is just damn cute.)

BTW - JL wants to marry Ron and Julia wants marry Harry so it all works out without a cousin catfight.

And I think - aren't we lucky to have something like this addiction/obsession that crossses the generations? I mean, how many 5 year olds and 13 year olds can love the same thing with such an equal passion (and have it be something also beloved by her Mom and her aunt who recently read them and evidently my cousin Steven in Philly who listens to the books on tape over and over again?)?

So perhaps Harry Potter addiction/obsession runs in the family? Is there a genetic component? Will, some day, a 12 step program be necessary??

But right now there are two sleeping girls in the next room - visions of broomsticks and Potters and Weasleys in their heads.