19 July 2007

I think Zora might understand and be able to use “Hi!”—but I’m not 100% sure (yet). Update: It’s her first word!

12 July 2007

More than another ‘Harry Potter’s Greatest Hits’

I saw the IMAX 3D version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so your results may vary.

To do justice to such a sprawling episode in the Harry Potter saga would be impossible for a reasonably long movie; this one doesn’t feel too long. But it also doesn’t hold together too well as a narrative. If you’re one of the few people not to have already read the book, many of the plot elements will feel arbitrary or confusing, especially in the climactic battle scene. (Incidentally, there’s a moment in that battle that feels lifted straight from The Fellowship of the Ring.)

I enjoyed this movie: Harry is becoming more complex and has begun to understand the “real world” repercussions of the use of magic. Unfortunately, this thread is underdeveloped: we see too little of Neville Longbottom, and Dolores Umbridge’s hold over Hogwart’s seems too quick and too overt.

The best part of the movie was the type design, especially in the various newspaper layouts. It’s worth the price of admission on its own.

The most frustrating part of the movie? The 20 minutes of 3D by necessity interrupt the movie’s pacing. We are visually informed when to put our glasses on, have to adjust to a different way of seeing (and one that doesn’t always work very well), and then are notified when to take the glasses off. Nothing says excitement like having giant green (or red, crossed-out) glasses flashing across the bottom of the screen!

The creepiest part? Umbridge looks an awful lot like Laura Bush.

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Grade: B

11 July 2007

What is the threshold for a baby’s first word? Zora has been babbling for months now, sometimes says “Bababa” when she’s waving good-bye, occasionally identifies Erica and me as either “Dadada” or “Mamama,” and even seems to call the cats “Diddy.” She also uses these sounds in plenty of other contexts, though, so it seems like we’re still officially waiting on her first word.

9 July 2007

It’s like magic:ɔıƃɐɯ ǝʞıl s,ʇı

7 July 2007

The more you know.

Michael Chabon has had it with the way we treat “genre” fiction:

I don’t have a problem with many uses of the word genre, just certain ones. I have the most trouble when these labels are used to prevent discussion, to prevent a work from being taken seriously as literature. When we say “genre,” we generally mean “something crappy,” something that would be sold in an airport. I hate to see great works of literature ghettoized, whereas others that conform to the rules, conventions, and procedures of the genre we call literary fiction get accorded greater esteem and privilege. I also have a problem with how books are marketed, with certain cover designs and typefaces. They’re often stamped with an identity that has nothing to do with their effect on the reader. I subscribe to Sturgeon’s Law, which is that “90 percent of everything is crud.” I’m trying to say that they’re all inherently equal—it’s not what you do, it’s the way you do it. The percentage of excellence isn’t any higher in what’s called literary fiction.

I couldn’t agree more. (If you need an example: Which edition of Shakespeare’s Othello would you rather read: the latest Arden edition or this one from Signet Classics?) The rest of the AV Club interview contains equally incisive commentary.

This is the archive for commonplace book entries that I published in July 2007.