Wizard rock!

Headed to the show! Stacie likes it in the back (of the SUV).

Danae and I do that thing where I hold the camera out at arm's length and hope I have it aimed right.

Holly and Chele.

Chele rocks out with Brian from Draco and the Malfoys pre-show.

Danae bought a H&tP foam finger. That's right - they sold foam fingers.

Micah and her friend Aly, who lives in Grove City (Columbus suburb) and was kind enough to give us a ride to Skully's, where the show was. Aly has never read the Harry Potter books - but now she plans to. Such is the power of wizard rock.

Up first, The Whomping Willows. Wizard Rock 4-eva!

Holly, Chele and Danae in the crowd. Danae was about ready to go bustin' some heads if Matt didn't play "Draco and Harry." Luckily for all of us, it was his last song.

Draco and the Malfoys are up now, which means: "It's time to PARTY! LIKE! YOU'RE EVIL! It's time to FREAK! OUT! SOME MUGGLES!"

OK, so I guess Bradley lays down a drum track in advance, and then they use that for the shows. The drum machine went on the fritz, so Brian had to pull out his iBook. Macs ... is there anything they can't do? (I mean, except play City of Heroes ...)

While Brian fiddled with the drum track, Bradley played solo.

Whoa, dude - you kinda DO look evil there! I guess red-eye will do that to you.

It was an all-ages show. Here you can see a few kids sitting on the bar. I wonder if Skully's has ever had a crowd quite like this.

Things get hectic when my camera decides it's happier on the "Make Everything Look All Trippy" setting.

That would be Paul (aka Harry Year 7) if my camera weren't doing the trippy thing.

There we go! Hello, Paul!

Uh-oh! Looks like one of the Malfoys infiltrated the Potters' set! Bradley changed ties and came onstage as Bill Weasley.

Joe (Harry Year 4) pulls out a sax. Awesome!

These guys basically never stop jumping. Check their MySpace photos if you don't believe me.

It's tough to see in this photo, but this guitar has a lightning bolt painted on it, which is pretty cool. At one point, the guys did the guitar salute from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which was pretty rad, because I knew there had to be someone else out there who liked that movie. Too bad I didn't catch it on film.

Joe plays keyboards, and the bubble machine goes wild! This was the big finish, "The Weapon." So the bubble machine's going, and suddenly the guys jump into the crowd and start giving everybody hugs, and everyone's singing, "The weapon we have is LOVE!" - and it sounds hippie-ish in the retelling, but it was pretty awesome if you were there.

After-party at Barley's in the Arena District. As you can see, Danae took advantage of the excellent happy hour at Skully's. During the show, she was fanning everyone around her with her foam finger - which was nice, except when she would get a little too close and start hitting you in the face with it. Afterwards, she wandered around the bar offering everyone Soft Batch cookies.


The weapon we have is love!

I don't think I've ever been to a concert quite like the one I attended on Friday night.

Yes, yes - part of that is that I've never been to a concert where all the bands played Harry Potter songs, but really, what I mean is that I've never been to a show with so much energy. It was pretty amazing, and I'm definitely going again if Harry and the Potters' tour comes anywhere close.

Pictures coming soon!


Spoiler-free Harry Potter observation

Scholastic does seem to have trouble with the British-isms, doesn't it?

My books can't seem to decide whether the expression ought to be "well shot of" or "well shut of" (I think it's the former), and one of the Weasley twins just referred to Harry as "specky" when I'm sure he meant "speccy."


In search of Book 7

I didn't reserve Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows anywhere because I wasn't sure whether Gerry and Sarah's rehearsal dinner would go on past midnight. It ended at 11, so I had an hour to figure out what to do.

I stopped by Joseph-Beth without any real intention of picking up the book there - as you can see, it was a madhouse:

Just packed!

There was some fun stuff happening, though; I filled out a trivia quiz and a "Snape: Good or Evil?" poll, both of which offered chances to win gift certificates. The woman next to the Snape poll was pretty irritating, though; she kept shrilly insisting that Snape was evil:

(She's the one in the glasses with the owl perched on her shoulder.)

There were tons of fun costumes, too - my favorite was a perfect Luna with a cork necklace and a lion hat, but I didn't get a picture.

Oh, yeah, and Warm 98 was there for some reason. Soft rock was blaring across the parking lot - one more reason not to get into the line that, by the time I left, had wound in front of the store three times.

With less than a half hour to go, I headed to Meijer to see what their "party" was all about.

That's a long line! I bought a few groceries but decided against waiting for the book. Instead, I headed over to Kroger:

They had a good system at Kroger: instead of having everyone who wanted a book stand in one line, they just gave each cashier a stack of books to sell. If you wanted one along with your Five Alive, you said so.

So there was no big wait at Kroger, but the store was definitely livelier than it normally is at midnight. Maybe that's why I heard a college kid say to his friends, as I twirled out of the store with my book, "Aw, damn - I hate Harry Potter."


Matchstick bunnies!

There are also bees, pandas, and grumpy-looking men!

Buy them here if you can read Japanese.

(Roadside Scholar via electro^plankton)


It's here! It's here!

Pick up this week's issue of CiN Weekly, please, because I wrote the cover story on Harry Potter!

In it, you will find:
- A story about my friends and their Harry Potter parties
- An interview with wizard rocker Matt Maggiacomo, aka The Whomping Willows
- A teensy recap of the first six books
- Readers' predictions about what will happen in Deathly Hallows
- What's happening for the release at bookstores around town (our intern, Amy, wrote this one)

OK, you can also find those stories by going to the links above. But seriously, pick it up. Kevin did an awesome job designing it.


Why the Internet is awesome

So I was on the Wikipedia page for Chi-Chi's because Kari mentioned in a story that the chain had closed and I wanted to make sure that was true. (It is - thanks a LOT, hepatitis A!)

At the bottom of the Wikipedia page was a link to the Creepy, Abandoned Chi-Chi's Blog, which is a great idea but kind of sad and light on posts right now.

But they did have a link to the Belt Buckle Knife site, which I still think might be a parody, because it includes this line straight out of Real Ultimate Power:

Ok so you may have some really great knives with fancy handcrafted blades that will cut through any known material on earth, but no matter how great it is, it still has the same inherent problem that all knives except ours have. You have to get it out.

Also, its tagline is "How fast can you whip yours out?" I guess I'll find out if it's a joke when I try to order Mr. W one for his birthday, because I am SOLD on the usefulness of having a knife on your belt buckle..


Harry Potter, in outline form (Part 2) (SPOILERS)

As for the movie ...

HARRY: Is it my imagination, or is Daniel Radcliffe getting a touch overact-y? Well, I'll let it go in this movie, since he's cranky and pubescent:

HERMIONE: No imagining on this one - even Emma's eyebrows are overacting. And it doesn't help that every other shot in the movie is of her glowering and twitching. Yes, we get it, she's quite pretty. Now if only she would quit enunciating so damn much and talk like a person.

RON: Love, love, love! Rupert Grint is proving to be the best actor of the three, and his character is evolving from idiotic comic relief to quiet rock for the other two spazzes to lean on.

NEVILLE: "I'm quite proud to be their son." I'm actually welling up just a bit right now, sitting on my couch. If only there had been time for the scene at the hospital. But oh, dear - they do put him in dreadful clothes, don't they? Just because he's not so great with magic doesn't mean he's got no fashion sense.

CHO: Again, too bad they had to truncate her storyline. I think it works much better in the book, where they just - as Harry says - fall apart, and there's no wacky misunderstandings about her betraying Dumbledore's Army. That wasn't even really resolved, so it doesn't work on the movie level, either.

LUNA: Some people I was with were annoyed by Evanna Lynch's portrayal, but that's the point of Luna, isn't it? I quite liked her.

DUMBLEDORE: Better. I've always regretted giving Michael Gambon's performance the thumbs-up in my CiN Weekly review of Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, I can't link to it because our archives don't got that far back, but I believe I said he succeeded in taking Dumbledore in a different direction. What I failed to consider was whether Dumbledore needed to be taken in a different direction, and I think it's pretty clear he didn't. Richard Harris' Dumbledore was note-perfect, and an actor's wish to distinguish himself from his predecessor doesn't excuse not being true to the character. Thankfully, in Order of the Phoenix, Gambon rarely runs around clutching Harry's arm and yelling. You see a bit of anger and worry in Dumbledore, but that's appropriate at this point in the story.

UMBRIDGE: Oooh. Perfect. You can read all about how awesome Imelda Staunton was in pretty much any review out there, so I won't belabor the point.

SNAPE: A confession. As the credits rolled, I turned to Stacie, put my thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart, and said, "I'm this close to thinking Snape might be, you know, kinda hot." I don't know what it was about this movie, but somehow, Alan Rickman turned on the hotness. For me, anyway - I know there are many people out there for whom he (and Snape, for that matter) have always "done it"; I am not one of those people, and I was surprised by how attractive I found him in this movie. I think it was his reserve and discipline.

THE MUGGLES: Seemed far weirder than usual, particularly Uncle Vernon. I liked them, but the change from previous movies was jarring.

THE LOOK: Wonderful. From the unfinished suburban dystopia of Privet Drive to the black halls of the Ministry of Magic, everything was bleakly lovely. Loved the enormous banner of Fudge and the Hall of Prophecy. With Umbridge around, we spent more time in the bare stone hallways of Hogwarts than ever before, making the school feel like a cathedral - a nice way to evoke another oppressive institution, the medieval Church. Whoa, I'm getting way too analytical here, so I'll dial it back and say that I really liked the newspaper transitions. It's kind of a film cliche, but the moving pictures and headlines gave it a twist.

THE ACTION SETPIECES: Thrilling, especially the big showdown between Voldemort and Dumbledore.

THE MUSIC: My favorite of any Harry Potter movie to date.

THE VEIL: Confusing. In the book, Sirius dies because he is pushed through the veiled arch. In the movie, he dies from a curse from Bellatrix and is then sucked through the veil. So, is whatever's beyond the veil just where EVERYONE goes when they die, and movie Sirius was pulled in because he happened to be standing very close to it? So then why would book Sirius have died when he went through it? There's a cause-and-effect problem here. (I know, I know, movies aren't canon. But still.)

THE MIRROR OF ERISED: Makes a couple of appearances here, which is interesting to me. Some theories postulate the mirror returning in book 7. If that's the case, this would certainly be a good time to remind moviegoers of its existence.

OVERALL: I always have a little feeling of disappointment at the end of a Harry Potter movie. There are always certain scenes that are beautifully realized and utterly satisfying, but so much has to be cut or expedited that the movie as a whole always feels disjointed. This was no exception - but so very much was done right that I think I'm prepared to call this my second favorite Harry Potter movie, after Prisoner of Azkaban.

P.S. I missed you at the show, AE - and Art Boy too. :)

Harry Potter, in outline form (Part 1)

PRE-PARTY: Dewey's in Newport.

PIZZA: Billy Goat, shared with Cati (pink shirt at lower left).

IN THE THEATER: Nervous at first because the 10 or so of us who were there at 10 p.m. were trying to reserve an entire row of seats. But our various friends arrived soon enough.

BARNES AND NOBLE: The only coffee option at the Levee, and therefore crowded as all get-out. The store officially closed before I was even able to make my order (but they served everyone who was already in line).



USHER JOHN: Awesome. In the pic below, he's asking if anyone has a wand with which he can perform the Sonorus Charm to amplify his voice. Love! (Also, note costumed wizard exiting stage right.)

THEATER: Crowded and raucous.


AMC'S POLICY ON THEATER SPECIFIED ON YOUR TICKET VS. THEATER YOU WERE SITTING IN: Enlightened. If you want to sit with your friends in theater 11 even though your ticket says theater 9, go right ahead.

COSTUMED CHARACTERS WHO WALKED THROUGH THEATER JUST FOR KICKS: Tonks and Filch. I yelled "Wotcher!" at Tonks, but was not quick enough on the draw to get pictures.

FASTEST BATHROOM BREAK EVER: Me, four minutes to midnight.

Coming up: the actual movie.


Monday linkage

Podophile waxes philosophical on the iPhone.