Archive for July 2007

July 27th, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser

Do I want to know how this last Harry Potter book ends?

Had you asked me, a few months ago, if I wanted to know this, I would have told you that I couldn’t care less. You could have just blurted it out to me, or not, it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. But now….

I suppose it’s worth noting that I have not so much as glanced at so much as a page of so much as one Harry Potter book. While there was a period in my life when I loved “fantasy”-based stuff like Star Wars and X-Men, by the time the first Harry Potter book came out my interests had shifted to non-fiction and realism.

With the mounting excitement for the release of this last book though, a myriad of fans have shed their “invisibility cloaks” (that’s a Harry Potter reference, right?) and revealed themselves to me. People whose opinions on a variety of matters I really respect, people who I never expected to be hopelessly enthralled by young-adult literature about sorcerers and wizards, were eagerly and openly awaiting this last book. Their enthusiasm was so universal that I couldn’t even point out how silly it all seemed. Clearly I was the one being silly.

Even Steph, who didn’t know her Sorcerer’s Stone from her Order of the Phoenix, recently decided it was time, borrowed all the books, and reverted to a state of seventh-gradeitude, hunkered in a corner, completely ignoring me and anyone else who graced our presence. After three weeks she’s almost on the last book. I look forward to conversing with her again in the near future.

The problem for me is I’m not much of a reader. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of. Not only does it make me a bad son, considering that my mom is a professional writer, but, given that I like to write, it’s kind of hypocritical. I just don’t think I’m reading-inclined. I can still remember, pretty vividly, feeling like a complete idiot, as the other kids showed up automatically knowing how to read, plowing through the “Early Readers” to Volumes 4 or 5 in the span of a few days, touting their accomplishments at every turn. Meanwhile yours truly was still struggling to read Book 1 (“A Day at the Zoo,” I believe it was) out loud to the adult who was evaluating me on my performance. It was so nerve-wracking. But enough about last weekend…. Haha! Zing!

No, seriously, that was way back first-grade, and it was my very first exposure to reading. Ever since then it’s been a tenuous relationship. Then you have these Harry Potter books that, near as I can tell, are approximately the same length as The Bible, and, well, it’s just not going to happen.

I am liking the movies more and more with each one (though I know, I know, this is not the same thing). We were persuaded to go to a midnight showing of this last film by our friends Thurston and Bliss, who are the kind of friends that are always doing things and persuading you to do things ’cause they understand that you need more fun in your life. Perhaps you have friends like this? Anyway we went to an iMax showing and it was really fun. The last 20 minutes are in 3-D. Perhaps you’ve heard that.

Thurston and Bliss love Harry Potter. They are the same reason we ended up at a bookstore for the midnight release of the last installment this past weekend, among manic, costumed wierdos of all ages. They are also the reason the end of the saga is now on my mind.

At this time, I am not seeking out the book’s ending, because I’m entertaining the idea of renting them in book-on-tape form, or possibly because I’m just not willing to invest the energy needed to do so. I’ve just sort of been skulking around certain websites — like the kid who maintains that he has no interest in joining your stupid baseball game, yet keeps showing up and wandering the periphery of the field, haphazardly swinging a stick and kicking rocks with his Chuck Taylors — hoping that an impossible-to-avoid plot synopsis will catch my eye.

I managed to learn how The Sopranos — another cultural phenomenon that I had nothing more than a passing interest in — ended in this manner. So far, nothing from the Potheads, though. This, and the general reactions of people whom I know have finished the last book, leads me to believe it’s not as jarring as that controversial and dramatic cut-to-black that I’ve never actually seen was.

If things stay this quiet maybe I can even hold out ’til they release the movie…. Yeah, that’s probably good enough for me.

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July 25th, 2007

“Oh, So They Have the Internet on Computers Now!”

Alright, everyone else has posted there’s somewhere, so it’s time for me to hike up my trousers, and hop on the bandwagon.

Me as a Simpsons character:


In case you haven’t seen this, you can create your own Simpsons avatar at

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July 22nd, 2007

Stretching Myself Thin

Anyone up for a little jog this weekend? I was thinking we’d go out for four or five hours. Really get a work out in. No? How about a bike ride? I’ve got this great 40-mile route we could do. Too much for you, eh? Some marathon games of racquetball or soccer perhaps? Surely you could handle that. C’mon. I…I…. Ok, I couldn’t do any of these things in my current state either. I can’t lie to you. I am not in the best shape.

Combine a sedentary desk job with paying no attention to my diet and getting older, and you’ve got me getting winded after I climb a few flights of stairs, and my arms and legs staying skinny, but brushing up, to my slight surprise, against areas of mid-section that are now out in places where they didn’t used to be. It seems like only yesterday I was teasing my parents ’cause their bellies protruded and they were saying “You wait. It will happen to you one day” and I was all “Not a chance.” And now…. Now I have the solid foundation of that same gut. (Hear that Mom and Dad? And I also have a powerful craving for coffee every single morning. And I like nothing better than a side of steamed broccoli with my dinner! And I actually prefer All Things Considered to loud music when I’m in the car. You were right about everything! You win! Mercy! Uncle! Parcheesi!)

I’m turning things around though. Steph and I are currently enrolled in one of the most challenging and beneficial paths to physical fitness in the world. We are taking a yoga class!

It’s…. Wait, are you laughing at me? You are, aren’t you. You think yoga is all granola and new-agey and only girls take it and it’s just a bunch of lamazey breathing and twisting and contorting yourself into silly-looking positions. You, my friend, are misinformed. Sure our routine may consist of breathing that kind of sounds like lamaze and we may “twist” and “contort” ourselves into some “positions” that may look “silly” and our instructor and all but two of the people taking the class may be “girls” and may be “straight out of a casting call for granola, new-agey people” but…. Ok you may not be that misinformed.

Keep in mind though we are taking “power yoga” which is less about “cleansing your aura” and more about “making you sore…uh.”

You spend a full hour striking and holding poses so difficult that, within five minutes, you are sweating like the lazy pig you (apparently) are. For example, there’s a set called the “Warrior” poses, where you hold your legs in a forward lunge with your front knee cocked at a 90-degree angle. You keep that knee this way for a good five minutes. If you were allowed to keep your hands on the floor to help support you, it might not be so bad, but you are not. They are kept busy doing a variety of reaching and bending movements that, even if you weren’t holding your knee bent, would be pretty intense. Your front quadricep is drained of it’s power surprisingly early in the routine. This is when you begin to experience a lot of what your instructor nonchalantly refers to as “sensation.” “Just close your eyes and experience the sensation in that front leg” she will say, as burning pain engulfs your beloved appendage. It will then begin to twitch. You close your eyes. “Six more breaths” the soothing voice traveling around the room reports. God, she’s right next to you. Making sure you’re doing it right. Better straighten up. All you can think now is “When this all is over, we’re only halfway there! We’re going to do this stuff all over again on the other side.” A tear rolls down your cheek. Twitching gives way to shivering. “Five more breaths” the voice says. Breathing is very important in yoga; your teacher is constantly reminding you to…. Hold up. Five more breaths? We were on “six” over a minute ago. She is short-changing you. And from the sound of it she’s still standing two feet from you. Why are you picking on me? You’re the teacher. Move around the room. Full-fledged leg-vibration sets in. Everyone in the class is shaking, like individual leaves on a big tree made of cushion-y mat foam. “Now let’s lean forward and lift that back leg off the mat.” This is clearly a little joke. There’s no way you could possibly…. In her spacey, yet somehow now schoolmarmish voice, she repeats herself. She is serious! This is seriously a thing in yoga! WTF!?! You try and it’s all you can do to stay on your wobbly pillar of an aching, bent leg for a few seconds. You collapse on all fours. For at least the next hour, your leg is useless.

Like most intense exercise, I don’t like doing this, but I love having done it. Mainly because I can spend eight hours at work, on my butt in front of a computer, then do yoga for an hour, and come out at least feeling like I’ve been doing yardwork all day. I would highly recommend yoga to any of you who need more physical activity in your life. Assuming, that is, that you’re man enough.

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