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Thursday, August 23, 2007

California Blogging - Harry Potter and the Man from the Future

Well, I'm back from my California vacation. Here are the highlights:

Why do Wizards Depend on Muggles for Anything?

So, I preordered the newest Harry Potter from Amazon.com, and had it shipped to my vacation spot in California. Unfortunately, it arrived two weeks after release day! That didn't bother me, though, because I was reading other things at the time. I found the box it came in entertaining, so I took a picture.

No danger of that!

I also found it humorous that wizards would use muggles to deliver their package! I want my book on time, and I want it delivered by owl! So, I guess it's the muggle post office's fault for the book delay. Rowling's wizard employees should know by now that they can't depend on normal people for anything.

The Great Potter Debate

My sister-in-law got married on our vacation, and I had the pleasure to visit with the groom's two sisters, Sylvia and Deanna, at the rehearsal dinner. Both are very charming women, and I enjoy talking to them when I get the chance. However, I was surprised when they suddenly started arguing at the dinner table. About what? Harry Potter.

I don't know how it started, but I distinctly remember Sylvia saying, "Why do you still read that stuff? Rowling is a terrible writer!"

That got my attention. Deanna replied, "She is not! Will you stop trashing her!? I happen to like her stories."

Sylvia said, "When she learns to write, I'll stop trashing her."

I jumped in. "I don't think that's completely fair," I said. "She's not that bad."

Sylvia said, "Well, she can sometimes write a good plot. But other than that," she shook her head. Sylvia's an English teacher, and she knows her literature.

"Well, there's something to be said for a fun read," I said.

Deanna said, "Yes! If she can get me to read it, then that's an accomplishment." Deanna is a fashion designer, and does not read much.

"Still," Sylvia said to me, "Have you read her first book? Horrible."

"Yes," I said. "And I agree that she's not the best writer in the world. However, I have to give her some credit. She won the Hugo Award, you know."

Sylvia said, "Oh."

I think she thought I didn't really agree with her as much as I said I did, so I tried to clarify. "Now, don't get me wrong. I thought they screwed up royally at the time, but still, it counts for something."

She nodded at this.

"And Harry Potter has good characters, who live in an enchanting world," said Deanna.

"And that's why I like it, too. It doesn't have to be great literature. It's fun to read, and that makes it worthwhile."

Maybe I came off as a diplomat, and maybe I am one. But I think there's a place for fun writing, even if it isn't great literature, or even if the style sometimes makes you cringe. And based on Harry Potter sales, millions of readers agree.

Kung Fu Fighting

Baby Gruff received a kimono from our friends in Mountain View. Their daughter also has one, and when the two babies were garbed in their japanese-styled outfits, they felt compelled to fight, kung-fu style, with accompanying music and all. I didn't understand the urge, but had the presence of mind to take a few pictures (You can clearly see that the babies are recovering from their martial arts injuries in this one). I didn't even think a kimono was an appropriate martial arts uniform.

The Man from the Future

While we were in San Francisco, we saw a time traveler, who was not very sophisticated in the art of disguise. We knew he was from the future, because he was riding a Segway, a device that obviously runs on futuristic technology (was it also his time machine? We'll never know). However, he was riding it around like a madman wearing a cowboy hat and a trench coat, like some sort of combination of Neo from the Matrix and Clint Eastwood. He reminded me of these guys.

Wrapping It Up

So, that was my trip to California. Mountain View, San Francisco, and Sacramento are all wonderful places, with beautiful landscapes, interesting people, and lots of sights to see. The traffic is terrible, the weather (although nice) is kind of boring, and life out there is expensive, but overall the good outweighs the bad for me. I'm really looking forward to my next visit.

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