My actual blogiversary was the 22nd, but who could be pulled away from the Potter madness to blog about blogging? In a year, I've written over 400 posts and welcomed over 12,000 visitors to Kudzu Jungle in addition to reminding myself why it is I like to write in the first place - to talk about Harry Potter for 40 some-odd posts, of course. I also like to write letters to celebrities and others in need, offering my sage advice. Or to complain about important matters such as national security and dog poop on the sidewalk. The idiosyncrasies of the 9-to-5 life were prevalent on the blog until I decided to render myself unemployed. Over the year, the blog cataloged the big move and the baby boom and the dream I had about showing Justin Timberlake my boobs. And a good time was had by all. Thanks for reading. More to come.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I have been as neglectful of you in the past couple of weeks as Britney on a bender in Vegas is of the poor Federspawn. What, with the pre-release Pottermania and the post-Potter come-down, I've hardly had a Potterless post this month. Then I left town, and, well, I'm back, but not for long. See, on Thursday, I've got a meeting with important people who might be willing to pay me to do work for them (but let's not call it what it is lest we jinx it), and then on Friday, I have to get my hair did - and blonde to boot. You know how I love to tend to my tresses. Saturday looks like it's going to be the family celebration for Anna's birthday. And Sunday...well, Sunday is going to be its own religious experience at the John Mayer concert.
I know, I know. You're tired of my excuses. It's really not about you, you know. It's me. I'm suddenly busy. Like, I almost have a life. But don't you worry. I'll be back soon. And we'll plan for some real quality time. Promise.
A few years ago, I bought the Puffball Bed Pillow from your Martha Stewart Everday collection at the illustrious KMart. It may have been that time I was with Kim and Hoang-Anh and I dropped and smashed the Earl Gray candle from your line. Sorry about that. Anyway, that pillow is my absolute favorite and it's starting to get ratty.
Trips to three different KMarts have proven fruitless in finding a replacement. As have KMart's online store and customer service department. What gives, Martha? Somewhere between the broken candle and the ankle bracelet, you stopped making my pillow? I find that unacceptable. Insider trading I can handle, but I really, really need a new Puffball Pillow.
If you could crack the whip (without, of course, disturbing your immaculate hairstyle), and produce a Puffball Pillow for me, it would be a good thing. And I know that I really should be submitting my request in ink made from crushed cranberries and written on handmade stationery scented with lavender from my garden, but without the pillow, it's hard to get enough sleep to have the energy for those things. So this will have to do.
As posted below, JKR conducted her first post-Deathly Hallows television interview with Meredith Vierra. And if you're wondering how NBC got the scoop, its parent company is Universal, who just happens to be behind the forthcoming Harry Potter theme park. Yeah.
So, anyway, if you missed the interview, it was really interesting. You can read the transcript here and watch at least some of the video. It's amazing to know how much she had planned - for example, one of the Weasley twins was always slated to die, and somewhere in the middle, she knew it would be Fred. Arthur got a reprieve from the snake attack in OOTP, because she wanted to preserve the one good father figure. And because she admitted she could not bear to kill him.
And some of her long-planned decisions show in her reaction to fans' ardor for certain characters. She seems almost puzzled by the dedication of some to Sirius Black, whose death was planned from the beginning, but confesses experiencing a sort of sheepish guilt prior to OOTP when fans begged her not to kill him.
Tonks and Lupin were the unplanned deaths, and, as predicted, were killed to create an echo of the orphaned Harry from the beginning of the story.
Rowling also conducted a web chat today in which she discusses even further the lives of the living, revealing that Ginny went on to a Quidditch career with the Holyhead Harpies before becoming the Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet. And Luna married Rolf, a distant descendant of Newt Scamander, author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The transcript is here, and be advised you should read from the bottom up - I was very confused at first.
The two interviews contain conflicting information about Ron's future - one indicating he becomes an Auror alongside Harry and the other suggesting that he joined George at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. I'm sure that will be clarified at some point.
And for the many of you who have questioned who did magic late in life, it was a storyline dropped from the final edit, and must have introduced a new character because she didn't indicate that it was anyone we knew.
She also describes the Hufflepuff common room, which made me relieved, because I realized the other day it is the only common room we never saw and felt woefully incomplete about it.
I might have more to say on these interviews soon, but it's late now, and I can't really think that hard.
Monday, July 30, 2007
For those of you who live (or have lived) in N.C., you know Cherie Berry. She's the first occupant on every elevator in the state, the Commissioner of Labor, smiling down at you and letting you know that the elevator has been inspected for your safety. I've missed her since I moved to Georgia, who so far as I can tell, has no such Patron Saint of Elevators.
I felt a little twinge over the weekend while in a hotel in Raleigh when I saw Cherie sitting serenely above the button panel when I got in to take the luggage cart back to the lobby. Maybe that's why I mistook the "6" button for a "G" and exited the elevator two floors above our fourth floor room. By the time I saw that the numbers were in the 600s, the elevator had closed and descended. I called another one, selected the proper "G" button, and rode down the requisite six floors. When the doors slid open, I pushed the cart out, only to find myself on the parking deck level, at which point I began to laugh, and, therefore, missed my chance to get back on the elevator. I finally reached the Mezzanine level (oh, you're so fancy, Hampton Inn, with your mezzanine level) and returned the cart.
I started to take the stairs back up, but I didn't want to give up just a bit more time with Cherie. For old time's sake.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
While I claim W-ville as my home town, the truth is that I was born in Tennessee, just over the border. For the first few years of my life, I lived in a little town just east of Lookout Mountain in the midst of the Appalachian foothills.
Mom and I went up that way yesterday for her to close out the probate on my step grandmother's will. I thought we'd have lunch, drive around a bit, stop by the courthouse, and so I wore my new four-inch black suede open-toed wedges. Because I didn't know that Mom was going to decide to do the tour de graveyards during our trip. After the first stop, I begged her to stop at Wal-Mart and buy me a pair of $1.94 flip flops.
We traipsed through three different graveyards, and Mom pointed out to me the graves of her parents and their parents - generations of Martins and Williams. We traced along the rows of stones the siblings and children of the same names, coming across one stone with a lamb atop it with the inscription "Budded on earth and bloomed in heaven." The last of the three graveyards was on a hill that overlooked a valley backed on the other side by the steep upsweep of a ridge. I stood, squinting across the way and thinking that it was a peaceful spot to be laid eternally. Here were the stones I'd most anticipated, the legendary great, great uncles named by their mother Willie Lowry with outrageous names like Vandell (whose first initials were W.F., though I know not for what they stand) and Montezuma Elmo, whose wife Rosa Nell was laid to rest at his side. Story goes that Rosa Nell was a bit unhinged and yelled at the children who rode bikes past her house while waving a butcher knife from the porch. Unfortunately for me, their brother Prudential Leffell and sister Zenta are buried elsewhere.
I'm not that informed about the generations proceeding me on either side of the family, other than knowing that for at least of few generations back, the general northwest corner of Georgia bleeding into Tennessee was home. And maybe that's why I could never settle down in the flat coastal plain. Something in my blood needed the rise and fall of the land, to be caught in a valley with a thin ribbon of sky overhead and nowhere to go but in between. Mom and I talked yesterday about how it's not really home anymore in the literal sense, but if you're talking about everafter, we wouldn't mind calling it that.
Also, loved your post on the arrest at your concert last week.
I liked that Dumbledore got another dimension in this book, but at times, I felt a little too much like Rowling kept this information an ace in her sleeve a little too long. I'm not so presumptuous as to suggest how to fix it, but I wish that we had been given even the merest hint that there was another side to Dumbledore. And while some may argue that his off-putting of telling the story of the blackened hand to Harry is an indication that it had a more sinister bent, I think we all assumed that the story had something to do with the horcrux search and it simply hadn't become relevant. Dumbledore's benign wisdom throughout all the books is a bit undermined by the slew of information we get in the seventh installment.
I loved how the revelation of Dumbledore's past subtly showed why he's a stickler for second chances - Hagrid, Snape. And I can see how his early life shaped so many of his words and actions throughout the books, which I think will be a delight when I go back and reread. But I wish we'd had a trace of Dumbledore's other side prior to the hallows. Perhaps that would've made it easier to conclude, like Dumbledore, that Harry had the makings of a better, stronger leader than the only one he ever feared.
Rowling clarified that, while Deathly Hallows was not "a blood bath", there were more than two deaths, as mistaken by many fans after she said two characters died that she didn't intend. (Which, to my knowledge, hasn't been revealed yet, but I'm putting my thoughts below.) Here's the body count of the good guys. For those of you who wish to discuss in great depth, there is a Snape thread posted below.
* Hedwig - The book's first jet of green light struck Harry's faithful fowl in a moment so surprising that I thought (hoped) that it wasn't what I thought it was. I shed a tear, but the action was so intense, that I was distracted by getting all the OOTP members safely to the Burrow. I wonder if Hedwig might have been an unplanned death (as Susan and I discussed) because Rowling realized the cumbersome logistics of what to do with her while Harry roamed through the book.
* Alastor Mad-Eye Moody - Mom and I had guessed that Moody might be one of the deaths. In a way, it made sense to clear out the members of the OOTP from the first generation. In fact, thinking on it, the Hogwarts professors are some of the only originals to survive. Mad-Eye was shot down in a blaze of glory, and that's how he would've wanted to go. Harry's burial of his eye later in the book gave me a moment to tear up on the Auror's behalf.
* Dobby - Didn't. See. It. Coming. And therefore it hit me like a ton of bricks. Dobby was the least likely character to die, according to Mugglenet, who put his odds at 100/1. The death was so unexpected, but I accepted it, knowing that Dobby would've been happier to die saving Harry Potter than any other way he might go. And the subsequent grave-digging scene with the characters' contributions of clothing and Harry's manual labor and mental toil made it the most well-processed death in the book. Plus, Luna's funeral speech was so...appropriate and simple that it made me bawl all over again.
* Fred (sniff...sniff...sob) Weasley - When Mike and I were talking prior to the book's release, he suggested that Rowling would take one of the twins - a kind of grief that was different than any other death she could create. I scoffed. Not the twins, I said! My favorite living characters outside of the trio. The appearance of Percy just prior to Fred's death already had me in a fit of weeping, but the death, Fred's face with "the ghost of his last laugh" and Percy's obvious anguish was so wrenching. The scene that followed with the Weasley family was a flash-portrait of despair that we hadn't seen in the books thus far. Mike, you called it.
* Severus Snape - Snape had the most gruesome death in all of Potterdom. The moment Nagini's cage sunk down over his head, I shuddered at the macabre scene. I liked that Harry drew blood biting his knuckle in horror - I think that was almost a meta-moment in which the character does the same as the reader. I wished Snape had gotten a more heroic death, but, as Kim pointed out, it was unlikely that Harry would've believed his goodness without the memories or that Snape would've allowed Harry to see them while he was standing there. It was absolutely grotesque, but after what we see in the pensieve, I'm pretty sure we don't have to worry about his soul.
* Remus Lupin - I anticipated that Lupin would be among the death count. It seemed fitting that all of the Marauders would be laid to rest before the book's end. I was a bit disappointed that Remus died offstage and that we weren't given much room to absorb his death. Even the moment his resurrected spirit has with Harry in the forest is overshadowed by the appearance of James, Sirius, and especially Lily, and the overall emotion of Harry's decision to die. I wished we'd been able to have more of a moment with Lupin's death than to add a tally mark to the body count.
* Nymphadora Tonks - This is my bid for the other unexpected death. Tonks, like Lupin, dies offstage, and I think that Rowling might have conceived late in the book that it would be a nice homage to the first generation to have an orphan left to his godfather in the second generation. Similar complaints here about having no emotional room for this one.
* Colin Creevey - Some are calling it a throw-away death, but Creevey, like Hedwig and Dobby, was one of the characters most wholly and unabashedly devoted to Harry. And though we don't see his death, this is his moment, albeit brief, to prove he's a true Gryffindor, unafraid to face death. He might have been a side character (at best), but it was a touching little moment to see Oliver Wood carrying his body into the castle.
Congrats to STGD for being featured on the Gossip Gangster's site!!! STGD sent a fun photoshopped image to Perez about a month ago and received a thanks email (which we thought was pretty awesome). Today it popped up on the Perezzer's Thank You post about reaching an all-time traffic high. I am just one degree separated from Perez. Awesome.
A few things that were promised in various interviews with JKR did not surface in the book. Among them...
* the flying Ford Anglia
* the marital status of the professors and its importance
* someone who does magic late in life under desperate circumstances - several of you have asked me about this since it was pretty widely reported. I think this is something JKR said recently, so I was surprised that it was absent from the book. Mom suggested that maybe it referred to Molly Weasley, who we've seen do household magic but never dueling magic.
* what Dudley saw when attacked by the dementors. This topic was skirted but not addressed, and it was an insight into that character that I was really looking forward to.
* I still don't understand why Sirius had to die, although she's promised that we would know by now.
* who else was in Godric's Hollow. This topic has been bandied about a great deal in the fandom. JKR directly refuted that Snape was in GH under the invisibility cloak, but suggested there was someone else. Are we supposed to think it was Bathilda Bagshot??
In an interview with Meredith Viera, JK Rowling announces that she probably will write a comprehensive encyclopedia of characters that outlines the futures of those who live through the Deathly Hallows. This includes a new headmaster for Hogwarts (not McGonagall) and a permanent Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher. And, because JKR is so awesome, proceeds of the book will go to charity.
Also revealed in the interview is that the character reprieved from death was Arthur Weasley. She just couldn't do it.
And, fyi, the chapter that made her howl was Harry's death. Duh. ;)
One of the biggest plot holes left behind in the wake of Deathly Hallows was, for me, James Potter. In the first book, we're told that James and Lily were great wizards and wonderful people. As the series continues, we get precious few clues about Harry's parents until the Three Broomsticks scene in Prisoner of Azkaban. Here we find out about the friendship of those we will come to know as the Marauders, and the betrayal of one of them. By the end of the book, we know James was an animagus, a bit reckless, a bit mischevious, but a loyal friend. We also know that he saved Snape's neck, which at the time is why we think Snape hates his guts. And then we don't advance our knowledge about James and Lily much again (despite their appearance during Priori Incantatum) until Snape's Worst Memory in Order of the Phoenix. And this tidbit of James is disconcerting - a bullying, conceited showoff willing to humiliate for sport.
Unfortunately for us, that's right where Rowling leaves him. We never see the James that shifts toward a softer, kinder person. We never see a moment of nobility from him. And after we see Snape's memories in the pensieve, we realize that we never see a moment that proves that he deserved Lily. Lily is by far the most flawless of Rowling's characters, and it sits unwell to think that she was married to a preening git. Plus, I think the series has alluded to an enormous importance for James and Lily, and while Lily's significance pans out, James recedes into a 15-year-old's memory as a guy we would've hoped to avoid in high school. I'm a bit sad that James was never more than he seemed, that his bloodline leading to Ignotus Peverell is the best thing he contributes to the end of the story.
What did you want to know that we weren't told? Like where is Florean Fortescue?
And what were we told that still has you scratching your head?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The good or evil question answered at last. I find Snape one of the most pitiable characters in the book. His unrequited love for Lily, beginning with his eager awkwardness when they're just kids. I found the most heartbreaking thing that his patronus was a doe.
I thought he was good before I started the book, but I faltered after the first chapter and the sectumsempra on George. But when Harry heard that Snape gave Ginny detention with Hagrid, I knew he was good.
I was already crying by the time Snape died, which was only increased by him telling Harry to look at him. And then to find that the password to the headmaster's office was "Dumbledore." When Harry plunges into the mish-mash of Snape's memories we see, as Dumbledore suggests, the best of Snape, kept hidden for this final moment.
His love for Lily is so true and steadfast...I hope that she greeted him kindly on the other side.