20 July, 2007

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter phenomenon is one of those things that force me to reflect back on my attitudes and my behavior and realize that maybe I am not always right. Damn. I don't like to say that.

But it's true…

So what year did the first Harry Potter book ship? There's a trivia question for you. I may or may not know the answer already, but I wanna see how sharp you are. Plus it gives you an excuse to write to me and seem VERY smart and clever, or at least full of useless information. Suffice it to say that ever since shortly after the series began, various friends said to me "Oh Bob, have you read Harry Potter? Oh, but you really must read it. I think you'll really like it!". To this, I said "Bah. I am not reading a stupid children's book.

When I was at UW, one of my colleagues really started on me, and was constantly giving me the "you don't know what you're missing" line. But what he didn't realize is that the "you-don't-know-what-you're-missing" line struck a nerve from my childhood. See, when I was growing up, my Dad always used to try to get me to eat sweet potatoes and I would never eat them. I would refuse. And he would say "How can you not like them?! You don't know what you're missing!". And the mere utterance of that phrase solidified in my mind the fact that I would NEVER eat sweet potatoes as long as I lived. That, unfortunately, was the extent of my rebelliousness as a child.

So this colleague - we'll refer to him as "Josh" for the purposes of this blog (as well as because his name actually *was* Josh) always pushed me on the Harry Potter. And he and I are both guitarists, and have always had a little bit of a musical rivalry going that stemmed both from mutual appreciation as well as fundamental differences in our approach to music performance and composition. This rivalry made the similarity to the "Sweet-Potato-incident" (it will from here on be referred to as the SPi) particularly strong, and thus my resolve to not ever read Harry Potter (or see the bleeding films) even greater.


Right around the time I finished my degree, and went through one or two other major changes in my life, I got into a mindset of "well, maybe I should lose some of the rigidity I have had about some things that I had previously held as absolutes". And one of these was regarding Harry Potter. If the whole world, young and old, thinks it's the greatest thing, am I a) a rebel, to be commended for my steadfast avoidance of cheesy pop culture, or b) a stubborn dumb-ass for not being open-minded enough to find out for myself what I think of it.

So. Within 3 months, I was through the first 3 books. And of course I loved them. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that the third Harry Potter book (which was released on July 8th, 1999) was among the BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ! In fact, there was a particular moment in the book where the events that transpired threw me for such surprise, that I needed to stop reading, and sit in silence staring into space contemplating what I had just read. The mark of a truly great writer is when you are SO SURE you are being led down a particular path, and then you are wrong. But just to do that alone CAN be formulaic. J.K. Rowling manages to always do this trickery in a novel (no pun intended) way.

Read the 4th book. Saw the first 4 movies. blah blah. I didn't really like the movies because I felt like they were merely "Headline News" versions of the books with all of the interesting subtleties left out.

Right now I am about to finish the 5th book. And this one has been very exciting because it is my first ever audio book. I decided to listen to it on MP3. And this is so amazing, I recommend it to everyone. It makes reading an entirely different experience. I love driving to work, or going to the gym, while having a story told to me. And what made this special among the Harry Potter series is that the audio book is the original British version, which does not have the Americanized nouns and dialects. And I have to say it is much better.

I know I sound really positive here, and those of you who know me will know that this is uncharacteristic since I am such a cynic, but I can't get over how much I like being lost in that world. Maybe it's another form of escapism :)

At any rate. That's my ramble on that subject.

Oh, and by the way. I’ve been eating sweet potatoes for years.

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