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 universe....my 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 (man....teenager...you 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.