Friday, July 17, 2009

The Half-Blood Prince: Half the book made into a Whole Movie

The latest Harry Potter movie opened Wednesday night at midnight and yes, I was excited. Since I no longer have to worry about being at work at a certain point each day, I decided this was an occasion to stay out late and have some alone time. At least, alone being without my kids or the husband. I couldn't help all the other people who wanted to see the movie straightaway also.

I caught on to the book series the summer I graduated from high school, through a friend who was also recommended the book by a friend. The first chapter of the first book was a bit of a slog, but after that, I was hooked. For the end of the series in 2007, I re-read the entire series. My favorites in particular are Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. They all have their charms, but Azkaban I can read stand-alone and be satisfied and the final two books are just an amazing contrast from how they all started, with Sorcerer's Stone.

Like any book person I know, it's tough to watch the film adaptation and be satisfied. The only one that immediately comes to mind is Silence of the Lambs - the movie is exactly the same as the book. But that's an entirely separate argument.

I wanted to enjoy HBP - I did enjoy it. Just not as much as I would have if they hadn't left half the book out. Yes, I realize they have to cut a lot - it's a long book and the average movie-goer doesn't want to sit in a theater for 4 hours watching a sentence-by-sentence copy of the book. But there were also scenes added to the movie that were not in the book at all. If they had room to add crap that they made up or took from a future book, then they had room to get in the important stuff.

Spoilers ahead, if you haven't read the book or seen the movie.

The movie opens with an entirely new scene - No Dursleys, just Harry in a coffee shop getting hit on by a hot chick. Nothing wrong with that in terms of plot - except in the book, Harry is visited by Dumbledore while still at the Dursleys and he gives them the talking-to that I've been waiting for since book one. For saving time within the movie, it's ok to be cut, but in terms of enjoyment - I really wanted to see that scene on the big screen.

The movie progresses nicely and we get to Harry's first "lesson" with Dumbledore, where we see Dumbledore visiting Tom Riddle in his orphanage. No earlier memory of his mother, grandfather and uncle in the shack - something that is definitely necessary in the next book. In the book, Harry's lessons with Dumbledore are to help him learn about Voldemort and how to defeat him. In the movie, these moments are glossed over, showing only 2 memories in the entire movie and no discussion of additional Horcruxes beyond the one they seek out at the end of the movie.

Harry and Ginny's relationship was also pared down to tension-filled encounters and a tiny kiss in the Room of Requirement. This was also a necessary plot device - the small amount of time he had with her in the book, being happy, confiding in her - it gives Harry more reason to continue on after Dumbledore's death, it gives him motivation to try to get rid of Voldemorte, so he can be free and normal after Voldemorte's gone. Not to mention that Harry thinks Ginny's hot and he's a boy, after all. :)

The scene where Ginny and Harry kiss is also a disappointment for another reason - in the movie, Ginny is helping Harry hide his Potions book in the Room of Requirement so no one will ever find it. In the book, Harry is hiding this book alone and he hides it in a cabinet, covering it up with a bust of an old wizard and puts a tiara on his head, so he can find it later. This scene is crucial in Deathly Hallows because the tiara turns out to be a Horcrux. How is Harry supposed to know where to find it if he's busy snogging Ginny? It's only going to make for awkward re-telling in Deathly Hallows' movie version.

No Tonks and Lupin - an unnecessary attack/ambush at the Wesley's house - no Ginny/Harry breakup at the end - NO FUNERAL/REMEMBRANCE FOR DUMBLEDORE - no stalking of Harry by the new Minister of Magic - no Order of the Phoenix - no attack of Bill by Fenrir Greyback - and the final scene of the movie had Harry and Hermione talking in a tower of the castle with Ron just off to the side. Not a single line from him. What the hell?? I admit, in the movies previous, there's has been a bit of shunting to the side for Ron's character. But it was blatant at the end - the core of the HP series is Harry, Ron and Hermione's friendship. I felt this scene was really unjust to Ron's character.

Everything that I loved about this book was snipped and resized to be bits and pieces of a movie. If I had never read the books, I probably would have liked it a lot. I won't deny that it was good and I did enjoy it. It just wasn't what it should have been. HBP was so different from the books before it - except for the fact that it was a book about wizards, it was very real. A book about kids at school, going about their normal routines, liking boys/girls, complaining about schoolwork and teachers, playing sports - intermixed with very real and scary things. Terrorist attacks on their friends' family's, government reports and safety warnings, being searched at school for dangerous items. In the middle just happened to be a story about a boy who is the only one who can save them.

Yes, it's not the greatest book that was ever written and it's pure fairy tale with real-life reflections - but aside from all the escapist fun, it was a fairy tale that made me believe, maybe, just maybe, if this were real, there would be a majority of people who would sacrifice their lives in the same way, for the good of everyone. This movie did not make me feel that - I merely wished for more popcorn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eating for 1 vs. Eating for 1/2 of 1

I've never been a person who "dieted". It was always an evil word and an evil philosophy to me - starve yourself to fit into a certain size? No thanks, I'd rather have a cheeseburger. I abhorred the idea of being one of those girls who ate salads at every meal - I like salads, but they are the first course or the side dish that complements the REAL meal.

(Yes, yes, here comes the disclaimer - I've been tall and rather thin most of my life. Yes, I have nothing to complain about because I'm still within my BMI. But this is a blog, not an article on eating disorders in the Post, so I'm going to keep going.)

Until lately, that is. I have since become a quasi-dieter. I signed up for Weight Watchers a few weeks ago, to help lose some of the weight I gained with Belle and Baz. It's a good program, stressing small portions, lots of veggies and fruit and water, and they have lots of resources. I have been doing well - lost 7lbs. since June 21st. I've also been ramping up the exercise.

But the lazy person inside of me, who doesn't care if I get tired walking up stairs or if I have a huge bowl of ice cream before bed is annoyed with me. She reasons with me when I'm at my most vulnerable - early afternoon and after the kids are asleep. "Hey," she whispers. "There is ice cream in the freezer in the basement. It would taste SO good right now, while you're sitting in bed, watching True Blood. It would just be a little treat." Or driving around with the kids, running errands and driving past a favorite restaurant like California Tortilla or Red Robin and just not wanting to go home and make myself a healthy turkey sandwich with the awesome pears we just got at the store and a glass of milk. It's good, I love it, but somehow, it's just not as satisfying.

I'm all for healthy body image - losing 10-20lbs is not a life-and-death thing for me. I'll be ok if I'm this weight for the rest of my life, if I can at least control the landslide. :) It's also awesome to have a goal, like not having my child pull up my shirt, poke me in the belly and say, giggling, "Your tummy is squishy, Mommy," or to worry about whether or not I'm mooning the neighbors at our pool when I climb out after swimming with the family. It's frustrating that I'm so weak. Damn this human fallibility.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sucker-punched by the bureaucracy

Hello. It's a bit obvious that I'm not very good at the blogging here's my attempt to restart.

I am jobless again, as of Friday - while I don't really want to go into details, because it sucked, I'm a little relieved. All the balls that were in the air in regard to my responsibilities, any issues my kids had, where my oldest was going to start school - they fell to the ground and I didn't care. The pressure is off. Belle will go to school down the street, just like I did when I was growing up, and she'll do great. For now, we'll have the summer off to do as we please - playdates, days at the pool, our own cool fields trips and then we head to the Outer Banks in August.

The weather has been great, thank goodness. However, it's just started to get to that sticky, nasty, humid-hot. We finally caved and turned on the AC. We lasted until the second week of July! Not bad at all...especially with the electric bill being so low right now.

Baz's birthday is soon - can't believe he's turning 3. He's obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine - he knows all the engines, what color they are and what number they are. He plays with them with Anabelle and by himself. Such a big boy. Anabelle will be 6 in the fall and we went to the elementary school to register her today. Incredible. Didn't I just give birth to her? Now she's tall and sweet and explaining things she learns at school like how caterpillars are baby butterflies and that botany is the study of plants. They are such amazing kids, they can't be mine.

And I hear one of them screaming my name...until next time. :)