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Monday, June 26th, 2017 01:05 pm

[This was the review of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” I posted on June 8th 1999, shortly before the release of “Azkaban”.]

It's been quite a while since I enjoyed a previously unread children's book as much as I enjoyed HP&TPS. At first, the book did seem to skip through genres quite jerkily: I think the introduction, an ugly-duckling story as with the start of, say, James and the Giant Peach, was a bit too long for a section so separate from the rest of the story. But the mystery part was excellent and I never guessed the secret. (It's an interesting point that there's no way you can be really evil if you have a stammer.) Considered as a school story... I'm not sure I can tell: the conventions for stories about boys' schools and girls' schools are so different, and good stories (such as this one) about co-ed schools are correspondingly so rare. Perhaps this is just my limited experience.

Incidentally, I wonder how much she was influenced by DWJ. The idea of the Ministry of Magic is very similar to Chrestomanci's department (though with different motives); you could perhaps draw (a few) parallels with Witch Week.

The description of the first few days at the school did get slightly irritating, because your attention kept being summarily drawn to a rapid succession of things which were (or seemed to be) just for show, without any obvious use in the story (e.g. the Choosing Hat): it was rather as though the author had invited you over to show you her holiday snaps. This is one of the places where I'd draw unfavourable comparisons with the subtle way DWJ has of doing the same thing; nevertheless, there are lots of good little ideas used well, with Diagon Alley and the Every Flavour sweets being especially memorable.

A few oddnesses: I'm sure Hermione's logic puzzle has more than one solution. The bizarre HM turned without warning into a bizarre moralist beside the Mirror of Erised (though you could draw comparisons with his behaviour by Harry's sick bed). Quidditch was rather run to death. Were there really no half-decent people in the whole of Slytherin? And by the way, I'm fairly sure I remember reading in Brewer that the Philosopher's Stone was pink and crumbly, not scarlet... hmm!

But it's also been a while since I've slowed down towards the end of a book because I know I'm going to miss the characters (cf. the Neverending Story). So I think I'll look out for the sequel... besides, I want to know whether Harry & Hermione get together :) . I'll certainly be recommending this to people I know who are sensible enough to want to read it.

[And a small claim to fame: AFAIK I was the first person to try to create a Harry Potter newsgroup.]

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 10:02 pm

This is the first of our rose plants to flower.
The plant's name is Sheila.


I've been growing roses all my life.
I wear a necklace of rosewood.
In many ways, I am a rose.

Roses aren't naturally climbing plants, like bindweed or grapevines. They must be cared for, and bound to a structure. And I've learned that I need to give myself a structure, or I can't naturally climb.

I am a rose.

Roses need work. They must be pruned. The pruning is painful, but without it they won't flower.

I am a rose.

Nobody cares about dog-roses, nobody notices them, but they grow wild wherever they please. The popular roses that everyone admires are sterile and can't spread: they survive because they're grafted onto a dog-rose root. The roses nobody cares about are the roses that keep the others alive.

I am a rose.

I grew up near one of the biggest rose nurseries in the country, so everywhere there was me, there were roses too. I fell into many a rosebush while I was learning to ride a bike. I carefully grew one up the side of the house, a yellow rose with a mind of its own: soon I had to leave it to its own devices because it had grown taller than my arms could reach.

I am a rose.

When I was about six I had a dream of a concentration camp. I had been imprisoned, along with many other humans, by gaseous aliens who lived on methane. The armed guards would float around our cabins and the parade ground, terrifying us as much as they intimidated us.

Of course when you're sent to the camps, they take everything away from you: all your property as well as your dreams and your name. But I'd smuggled in one memento: a small twig of rosewood. I kept it in the pocket of my grey uniform and squeezed it tight whenever I was homesick.

One day I realised that roses have thorns. And that was the day I used the rosewood to burst and kill the guards at the gate, and run free into the outside world. One small piece of reality had torn a hole in the nightmare.

I am a rose.

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Saturday, June 24th, 2017 09:50 pm

So...

strange/interesting how things ferment at the back of one's mind until quite a while later, AHA so that's the answer/meaning/whatever.

This little doodle I did years ago... alchemia.dreamwidth.org/31325.html

Bug and I have been writing, and we are wrapping up a specific scene, and while I was searching for something else, I came across this entry via journal tags and thought, 'holy crap, we just wrote that'.  Not, you know, Snape and Harry naked on a bed, 'cause we and plenty of others have written that in many delicious ways.  But specifically, this exact pose, the mood, even Harry appearing 'aged down' (there's a wee spoiler for anyone interested, but I can't imagine that revealing anything of importance at the moment; afterall, he's a shapeshifter, and he's aged himself up in previous books, so why not the other way around?).  The only thing missing in the image is a the ****  lol, ;-)  

Even Bicrim's comment about it looking more parental than romantic is, just... at first I thought, wow, she picked up on that so early, but then realised i didn't say the image was ABP related so it musta just been the image speaking to her, and my unconscious thru the picture (no, don't worry (or hope, if the case may be), ABP does NOT turn into a Severitus fic.)  For those wondering, no HP is not wanking for Snape's entertainment (or potion ingredients, or anything else), but feel free to consider it independant of ABP, or some character's fantasy or something.

The current unfinished book, and the one right after it, might actually get smooshed into one (not positive yet), and this scene is in the one after the current one we left off on, unless they are combined, in which case, it will be in the current book.   I am really eager to get to it.  It had some really horrible stuff to write in it, but totally necissary if they're going to ever heal / move forward. 

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 07:02 am
Continuing to have trouble setting aside time to focus on work with the kids home for the summer.

After taking my mom to her doctor appointment and subsequent errands on Tuesday, I spent most of Wednesday through Friday sick in bed with a fever and sore throat, but no other obvious symptoms. Now I'm finally feeling better, and Robby has decided that since Tropical Storm Cindy's gift of some ridiculous number of inches of soaking rain will prevent him from doing his usual maintenance out at our church this weekend, this is the best time to disrupt the downstairs living area and try to finish constructing Connor's loft bed.

If I didn't have to take the kids to swim lessons today, I'd probably flee to the library and try to get some serious work done. Maybe that strategy will work next weekend, if I can find someplace to go that isn't closed for the holiday.

In other news, Steam is having their annual sale and I've discovered that most of their older LEGO games (pre-Marvel) are PC-only. I really wanted to put the Harry Potter games on my laptop so that I could play them without broadcasting them to the rest of the household. There's also a PC game that Connor wants that is too resource intensive for his poor old gaming PC. But I read on Twitter last night that Starship Titanic is on Steam for $1.49, so I'll get that if nothing else. I've been wanting to play it again ever since I saw Passengers.

I'm also realizing how much cheaper and easier to find the PlayStation 4 is compared to the Nintendo Switch, and that's probably also the better platform to choose if I want to play Kingdom Hearts 3, assuming it ever gets released.
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 02:36 pm
I've written several times over the years about how much my kids and I enjoy playing LEGO video games, especially the franchise tie-ins, and I appreciate being able to go back and read those older entries and see how that relationship has evolved as the years have gone by. In particular, it struck me that once upon a time I wrote about how Connor would join me in two-player mode on the Wii, but Will never joined in, although he liked to watch and advise us, and would play the mobile versions of the game on the DS or the iPad.

Well, that has officially changed. After assisting me in various areas of the first Harry Potter game over the past couple of weeks, today Will started a solo playthrough of the second Harry Potter game.

The original LEGO Star Wars, the game that started it all, came out the same year he was born, in 2005. So I feel like my love of these games and the lives of my kids are entwined, in a sense. All these years later, I consider the Harry Potter games to be my favorites, so it's a bit surprising to me to realize that I only completed the second Harry Potter game once, although I've played through the first one four times now. I wish they would release a remastered combined game for the Wii U like they did for the PS4.

As near as I can figure, I own all of the LEGO franchise tie-in games except for Indiana Jones 2 and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. I even repurchased for the Wii the ones I originally played on the Playstation 2. I haven't completed the more recent ones, though, since I got distracted by the introduction of LEGO Dimensions.

This is the first summer in a while that I can remember not having a new LEGO game to play. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2, which appears to feature the Guardians of the Galaxy, has been announced for later this year, but it will require me to purchase a newer console, so we're probably getting a Nintendo Switch for Christmas. Connor's already asked for one anyway.

Just for fun, I made a chronological table for the various franchise games - not including the LEGO Movie Videogame, LEGO City Undercover, or LEGO Dimensions and its various expansions.

Read more... )
Monday, June 19th, 2017 10:46 pm

I really wish EFiction wasn't MySQL based.  That's how intertexius got broken the first time around, corrupted DB. 

Trying to write my own little piece but damn physical pain, so I can't stay on the computer to work for more than 30 or so minutes at a time.

I know, Iknow, AO3... but I can't make heads or tails of it, as a reader or a writer.  Plus I like all our work in one place.  Unless we die, then I don't care where y'all want to post things.

Speaking of which, since lots of ppl have asked for ABP on AO3, can we just make an entry for it on AO3 but not put the actual story text there, just the link to it?  So people can find it on searches and leave kudos etc.?  Or is that not permitted? 

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 12:11 pm
Sans photos because otherwise this will never get done:

In case you missed it earlier, here's the more generic Harry Potter Wizarding World guide/review I posted the day after we got back. It says pretty much everything I wanted to say about my experience with that specific part of the park, which was the primary reason we went.

Cabana Bay )

Citywalk )

Blue Man Group )

Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure )

Kennedy Space Center )

And that's everything I can remember experiencing that's fit to write home about. Overall, a really good vacation that will hopefully tide me over for the next couple of years.