Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday morning

I went into work yesterday hoping to finish packing for the office move and leave by 10. But you know how moving goes; every time we turned around there was another thing to be packed, half of which didn't fit into any available box, and the office ran out of packing crates and had to send for more, and so the process stretched out until after noon. It was a madhouse week, trying to move in the midst of one of the busiest times of the past decade -- no signs of recession in our office -- and the one good thing about the delays of yesterday was that while we were waiting for crates I wrote furiously on a proposal we need to finish next week and got a remarkable amount done. But I did still get out early, leaving my working life in the hands of Office Movers. When I go back to work on Monday it will be to a building I have never before entered, and I will have traded my large, windowless office, tucked into a weird space behind the server room at a considerable distance from all the people I work with, -- every time we got somebody new in the mailroom I would get a plaintive phone call asking how to find my office -- for a cubicle in a highly organized space, seated next to my colleagues. Will my carefully cultivated image as an eccentric genius suffer? At least I will have a window.

So, to catch up on my week. This is Renfield, the new kitten. He appeared on Wednesday, causing chaos among the animals but bringing smiles to the women and children. He is most adorable, but every time I turn around my house has a new occupant.

Last night we took Mary and Thomas with us to see Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, Part 1. This was entertaining, and it followed the book more closely than any of the other Harry Potter movies and maybe more closely than any other movie adaptation I have seen. Which was, for me, something of a problem, because I thought Deathly Hallows was by far the worst of the Harry Potter books. For one thing it is not set at Hogwarts, and Hogwarts is the best thing about the series. There are long stretches in which nothing happens in a grim and tense way, which is realistic, because the characters have no idea what they should be doing and are very frustrated about it, but that didn't make it much fun to read (or watch). There are yet more cases of the most annoying thing about the Harry Potter world, the way even supposedly great wizards allow themselves to be fooled by magical tricks. You would think that as often as Harry, Ron and Hermione have changed their own appearance with polyjuice potion they would be more careful about believing that other people are who they say they are. The plot is unnecessarily complicated -- the Deathly Hallows could have been dispensed with -- and there isn't enough of the humorous stuff Rowling is so good at. And the Epilogue -- just don't read it.

But, anyway, back to the movie. The three main actors -- Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Gint -- have gotten better over the course of time, and their attempts at conveying emotion no longer make me wince. At the same time, though, they have gotten less attractive. Maybe it was partly the dark way this was filmed, but I thought Radcliffe looked sharp and mean and Gint particularly broad and stupid, and if Watson is kind of pretty despite her profoundly depressed mien she has the body of a fence post. We got only glimpses of my favorite characters from the movie series, Alan Rickman's sinister Severus Snape and Evanna Lynch's delightfully daffy Luna Lovegood. But as with all of these movies there is great atmosphere, some cool magic, and competent action, and there is no denying that Rowling's world is a great creation. So it was worth it.

Searching for that picture of Luna Lovegood above, I discovered that Luna Lovegood has a huge fan base, with lots of web sites, fan fiction, and so on. I mentioned this to my daughter Mary, and she said (more or less) "That's because Harry Potter fans are all spacey and half of them have Asperger's, and people with Asperger's all love Luna Lovegood." Ah, so that explains it.

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