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Gazing into the Abyss: Michael Rawdon's Journal


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Debbi and I went to see the second of the season's triad of blockbuster films yesterday, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, based on the Americanized version of J.K. Rowling's novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It's probably the most faithful film adaptation of a novel I can think of (a little ahead of The Andromedra Strain; also worth noting is the BBC adaptation of Day of the Triffids).

As such I don't really need to synopsize the story here for you; you can read my review through the link to the book, above, instead. So what else is there to say?

Well, impressively the movie looks and feels very much like I imagined while I was reading the book. The Quidditch match is even a little larger and more impressive than I'd imagined. The school is as I'd envisioned, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) looks perfect, and so do the Dursleys for that matter.

Not everything is as I'd envisioned. Dumbledore (Richard Harris) looks too old and wizened. I'd seen him as being somewhat younger and more fit, but affecting an air of age (or maybe just of wisdom), much like a kinder version of Sherlock Holmes. And Snape looks nothing like I'd envisioned; I'd seen him as shorter, and a rather snivelly, whiny creature, not the tall, menacing figure played by Alan Rickman here. These are quibbles, though: The film brings even many minor characters to life effectively.

The film's problems, though, are those of the book's: Rowling wasn't terribly subtle in her first two novels, and the character here are too black-and-white, and the plot doesn't hang together terribly well, being woven with, basically, a wish and a prayer. Of course, this is a common failing of many of the most popular children's novels (pick any Oz book, or even The Hobbit, for that matter), and I think most adult readers are prepared to overlook such failings when tackling this sort of subject matter. Still, it does mean that what's happened is they've taken a good (but not great) book and turned it into a good (but not great) film.

I enjoyed it, really. But the bottom line is that I watched what they did with the sets and special effects and wondered how excellent they could be when applied to a truly great story.

And I guess we'll see how well that works out next month with The Fellowship of the Ring.


It's been a terrifically busy weekend all around. I'd signed up for cable TV installation yesterday afternoon, and the cable guy came around 1:00 and then the rest of the afternoon was open. So we went shopping for various things for my home, and then I spent a bunch of the afternoon cleaning out the garage. In addition to my own stuff that I wanted to store there, the sellers left me a bunch of stuff, some of it useful (extra tiles for the floors and the patio) and some of it not (a big box of random pieces of wood). Since I want to be able to park my car in there, I needed to arrange everything to make space, which also meant throwing out things I didn't want or need. So that took a bunch of time, but I got it all done tonight, and my car is now safely parked inside the garage. Yay!

Today we did a big drive around the Bay Area, first hitting Ikea in Emeryville, and then heading into San Francisco so I could buy new sneakers at the New Balance outlet there. And with that I've just about finished all my projects that I need to finish this month. It's a load off my chest, since it means I don't have any more chores hanging over me for the rest of the month. Yay!

Also today I finished unpacking my living room and dining room. Yes, no more boxes downstairs! That's a great landmark. I still have some bric-a-brac to distribute, but otherwise my living area is set up. Now I need to finish my bedroom and study, but that shouldn't take too long.

Debbi also made turkey soup from the leftover Thanksgiving food, and we've been slowly working through the apple pie that Subrata and Susan had brought over.

It's really exciting to be settling in like this. And the cats are doing better and better: Jefferson's spending a lot of time snoozing on the couch, which is a good sign since it means he's not snoozing under the bed as much. And Newton is already his old self.

I still need to check out of my old apartment, but that should happen soon. I'm just about all set!

And then I can go buy a Christmas tree...

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