Friday, July 20, 2007

All Things Harry Potter

I am almost finished rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in anticipation of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at midnight tonight (although I won't be getting it until tomorrow). I also recently saw the movie The Order of the Phoenix. I thought it was okay but there were things I didn't like about it. A lot was cut from the book, not necessarily a bad thing as the book was quite long with a lot of things I could have missed. But this felt like a CliffsNotes version of the book with all the important stuff touched on but not really delved into. There were some great new characters but there wasn't enough of the supporting cast for my liking (oh, how I wanted more Tonks). The movie is called the Order of the Phoenix but we saw precious little of the Order themselves.

I loved Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge. She played this wonderfully awful character so perfectly. The way she dressed, her hair, her speech, the way she sipped her tea, those mewing cats on her office walls, all were brilliant. I've been a fan of Staunton for years. You may remember her from the movie Vera Drake or maybe from the series Little Britain but I remember her most from a British series I really enjoyed called "Is It Legal?" where she played Stella Phelps. I found it a bit hard to see Staunton as Umbridge first because I kept seeing her as Stella, but that went away and I soon came to dislike her as much as one should dislike the horrid Delores Umbridge. I also thought Luna Lovegood was well cast and well played by Evanna Lynch.

There were some slow parts in the movie and I felt it depended a lot on headlines from the Daily Prophet to explain things that they didn't have room for. This is the shortest HP movie but made from the longest book. The climactic scene was very good, if a little hard to follow at times with all the swirling going on. I'm glad I saw it but I'll say this. I have rented every other HP movie to watch again after I saw them in the theatre. I don't have any intention to do that with this one, at least not right now.

So, I'm all geared up for the final installment of Harry Potter, but I feel I must hide away from the world until I read it to the end. See, there are unscruplous people out there who put things in online forums like the name of some important character that has died (in the subject line, no less, so you just can't avoid it), even wear t-shirts with the important information on it: "Insert character name here dies". And the news will be filled with reports of reactions from readers. Someone on facebook will undoubtedly have their feelings about the book in their status section so I am staying away from the news and the Internet for the next little bit. I'll come back when I've finished reading. But don't worry, I won't tell you a thing. Well maybe I'll tell you if I liked it or not, but I've liked every HP book so I'm pretty sure that's a given.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Poe and Lovecraft at the Newman Wine Vaults

A few years ago hubby and I went out on Halloween to see "The Cask of Amontillado" at the Newman Wine Vaults. I was just reading the wonderful WANL Weekly email newsletter (it's worth the price of your membership fee just to get this in your inbox every week), and saw that “The Cask of Amontillado” is going to be at the Newman Wine Vaults again throughout much of the summer. I can't recomend it enough. The place is the perfect setting and I remember the audible gasp and then complete silence at the end of the performance when we saw it. “The Cask of Amontillado” is, of course, Edgar Allan Poe’s story, "set in 19th century Italy; Montressor feels he has been insulted by his friend Fortunato and, during the madness of Carnival season, decides to take his revenge." Adapted by and directed by Dale Jarvis, it features Peter Ayers as Montressor and Chris Hibbs as Fortunato.

And as if that wasn't enough, this is a double performance with Dave Walsh performing “The Rats in the Walls" (by H.P. Lovecraft, I believe). "Tormented by the sounds of rats scurrying behind the walls of his ancestral estate of Exham Priory, the owner investigates and discovers a horrible secret deep in the crypt under the ancient castle." Isn't the Newman Wine Vaults the perfect place for such a performance? I can't wait to see this one and to take in “The Cask of Amontillado” again. They run every Sunday and Monday night at 8:30pm until August 20. Admission is $10 at the door. Arrive early, limited seating.

And while I'm on Poe and the Newman Wine Vaults, "Nevermore: The Life and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe" with storyteller Terry Rollins of North Carolina, will be performed by candlelight in the Newman Wine Vaults. This one is hosted by Dale Jarvis as well. "Since 1991, Terry has perpetuated his Southern family’s tradition of storytelling, performing from the Southern states to the Great Lakes to Ontario and Atlantic Canada. For the past two years, he’s spent part of the summer in Newfoundland." He will perform some of Poe's stories and recite tales from the life of Edgar Allan Poe. One night only! July 20. Show starts at 8pm; door opens at 7:30pm. As always, the seating is limited so better get your tickets early. They're $10. Advance tickets are available at Britannia Teas and Gifts, 199 Water Street, St. John’s, (709) 579-9288.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Serena Ryder

I don't review too much here. I have many reasons for that but I'll keep them to myself. I have on a couple of occasions, mentioned certain music I love and oh do I love music. I have told you how much I enjoyed Leanne Kean, mentioned my love of Oddly Enough, and for the song "I Wish I was a Punk Rocker" by Sandi Thom. Now, I need to talk about Serena Ryder because I love her music and her voice. What fantastic power and tone she has. She combines pop, blues, and folk music and blows me away. Critics compare her to Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. Big shoes but, in my opinion, she's slipping into them like a comfy pair of slippers. You can find out much more about her here and here and you have probably heard her singles "Good Morning Starshine" and "Weak in the Knees". "Weak in the Knees" makes me feel exactly that. Just go out and get her album If Your Memory Serves you Well or her newly released EP Told You in a Whispered Song. If Your Memory Serves You Well is made up mostly of her doing covers of Canadian songs along with some of her own stuff as well. It's a treasure chest of music. If you don't know her, trust me you will. She's going to be huge.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Back to blogging

Well, who would know that a brief break away from my blog would cause me to hear complaints from people via email, telephone, and even my mother with her pronouncement on the back steps of their house this weekend: "you have not updated your blog since Wednesday, June 13, 2007". It's not like nothing's been happening. It has. I've been living life so much there's no time to blog about it. Of course, there's always time but blogging, like so many things in life, is easier to do the more you do it, and easier not to do the longer you're away from it. And it's not like I haven't had stuff to rant about. I mean there's Paris getting out of jail and her sudden finding of God in there, there's the fact that Michael Moore got bumped from Larry King Live so they could have the first post-jail Paris interview., there's Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence for perjury and much, much more. As for what I've been up to , nothing as exciting as being in jail but I have been busy. My Mom and Dad and Aunt Jackie were here for a few days, I was in Eastport for the Writers Guild writers retreat, and then last weekend we went home for the weekend.

Eastport was wonderful. It is such a relaxing place and we had a lovely house rented there. By "we" I mean five of the six of the Strident Women. We loaded up a van and all five of us drove out there together, stayed together all weekend (from Friday noontime to Monday evening when we got back). We talked about everything-- including stuff like religion, sexuality, gender-issues, abortion, politics--we played Trivial Pursuit, stayed up until at least 2:30 every night and got up again pretty early each morning, wrote, walked, read, laughed--oh my did we laugh, forced each other to listen to the music we loved and felt everyone else should love too, went to the pot luck and evening workshops of the Guild, ate, drank, and slept. We didn't argue about one thing. Even who got what room was a shrug and "okay" kind of thing where no one cared as long as they were there at Eastport. I still think that the fact that I got out of Lori's van on Monday evening, still as interested in being in the presence of these women as I was when we left on Friday, is quite an extraordinary thing. Any close quarters with people for such a period of time would usually cause some animosity, someone is anal about something or wants to be in control of the group or is horrified about someone's opinion about those controversial issues we discussed, or someone has an annoying habit that drives you nuts. But that didn't happen and we still all got along fine. I don't think I could be with my husband and son that long with no TV and not be annoyed with them for something. It was odd how we could all get up, arrange some kind of breakfast, gab for a while and then just, as a group but completely separate, sit down and write. Everyone quiet and then, after a time, we'd all gather together again and gab a while more and maybe go to Tellum & Things Café for a coffee, and then all just quiet down again and write. Someone would go for a walk or I would listen to my MP3 player but it was all so seamless. Never a hiccup (unless I caused the hiccup and didn't know it). I think it was, in part, the writing. The fact that you could say, while everyone else was waiting to go somewhere, "I just need to finish this section" and it was accepted. If you were staring off in space, it was understood that you were mulling a story or character or maybe just off somewhere else in your head and that was fine. No explanation was even necessary. Plus, the ladies are an accepting, understanding, open-minded bunch with nary a control freak amongst us, at least not that weekend. So I hope to do this again with these ladies. I look forward to it.

The next time I go to Eastport will be a more stressful time, I know. I'll be on the New Voices panel at the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival and will be frightened to death, at least until my panel is over. Then I can relax. But I still look forward to going. Besides the huge honour of being part of the festival, I get to go to Eastport again, a truly beautiful and relaxing spot I could totally see myself living much of the year.

And this past weekend we went out home, also a truly beautiful and relaxing spot. We had a gorgeous day at the cabin down on White Point on Saturday afternoon and the skies lit up with lightning that night for a little pre-Canada Day fireworks. As usual, Mom and Dad let Vince and I sleep in and they looked after Sam. He has such fun out there.

And then last night we went out to supper to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday (Happy Birthday, Janice). Lot of stuff in between these main events, of course, but I think you're caught up on the big stuff now, at least the stuff I'm willing to share. I'll resume regular blogging soon enough. But it is summer and one has to enjoy summer, even if the weather makes it feel more like fall.