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7.23.2005 ||>   Congratulations, Chris and Beth!

One of the bloggers I make sure to go to every day has just had a baby. Well, really, his wife had it, but since I go to her blog quite a bit as well, I guess that could cover them both.

Since it was a cesarean, I suppose their new girl won't have the cone head that my nieces had. And congratulations to Chris for not passing out. I saw my sister give birth and it took some Lamaze of my own not to keel over.

Good Luck you two.

Sepra was livin' easy on 3:32:00 PM || Site Feed ||

7.22.2005 ||>   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryRight before I began reading Harry Potter, I saw the movie adaptation of another favorite children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. When I was a child, I particularly loved Dahl, who wrote one of my favorite books, Matilda. The thing I loved about him was that he was never condescending. Children can be nasty and cruel and he would always depict not just the way adults wanted children to behave, but how they actually were. He was also not above satirizing adults either and that's a relief to a child who can be told constantly that adults are always right, even though they aren't.

Dahl hated the first remake of his book, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It's one of those classic movies that survived apart from the book and became a favorite in its own right. I always separated them. Different title, lacking some of the book's fun, but still a great movie. Gene Wilder was great, the kids were funny as hell and the plot was fun despite its heavy moralistic ending. It also gave us sunless tanners the Oompa Loompas, something to compare to when a sunless tanning incident goes awry.

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryWhen the new Tim Burton movie came out, I was at first apprehensive, but got used to the idea. I was a bit psyched that this movie would be more like the book. I did enjoy the movie. I thought the kids were both realistic and scary, Johnny Depp was exactly what Tim Burton wanted Willy Wonka to be, and Charlie was a good combination of sweetness and typical kid. Some critics compared Willy Wonka to Michael Jackson. But like Jenah, I didn't see that at all. Willy hated kids, or at least was deeply ambivalent. Jackson created a ranch for children (whatever his motives). So how could they be the same except that they have unnatural reactions to things?

The other thing I've been seeing critics get wrong about the movie is when they compare this one to the Gene Wilder movie. This movie was an adaptation of the book, not the movie. Comparing the two is like judging a chocolate-covered caramel to a covered cherry (couldn't resist the candy metaphor, sorry). They look the same, but the bite is completely different. So when people complain that it lacks the spirit of the first, I can't help but think it's because the first movie was so different from the book. But then, how could something compare anyway to a move that touched you when you were a child?

Since I'm very bad with conclusions on my reviews anyway, I'll just end this one by saying: It's a fun movie, so just go in, enjoy it and don't have any preconceived notions about what it's supposed to be. You should be fine.

Sepra was livin' easy on 7:06:00 AM || Site Feed ||

7.21.2005 ||>   Get political, political

Went to Publius Pundit as I sometimes do and he had this post up regarding Mikhail Saakashvili, the president of Georgia. Apparently, Saakashvili allowed as how Belarus would be the next totalitarian state to fall to a peaceful revolution named after a color.

I can't remember how long ago it was (right after the Rose Revolution in Georgia), but I remember that Saakashvili made a similarly idiotic comment when he suggested that bringing in American non-governmental organizations would be all the people need to help form a velvet revolution. The reason I remember is that soon after, the Peace Corps started to have real trouble with the Uzbek government. In fact, all the NGOs working there started to be watched and questioned.

I can't help but think that things are going to be very bad for any dissident in Belarus for a while. It will probably also be difficult to get over to Ukraine and Georgia for anyone. I can't see President Lukashenko of Belarus taking that threat lying down, but I can see him reacting in a repressive way. Which begs the question, why would Saakashvili say that? Can he just not keep quiet, or is it something other than silliness that prompts him to say things like this?

Sepra was livin' easy on 6:53:00 AM || Site Feed ||

7.18.2005 ||>   Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - some light spoilers

While grocery shopping, I spied a display of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to the side. It winked at me with those mysterious green covers, daring me not to buy one. Unable to resist, I immediately put one in my cart and fought the urge to sit down on the cold grocery store floor and begin to read.

Instead, I played a game of cat and mouse. Reading a chapter, then seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Nathan, reading some more, and sleeping. On Sunday, I succumbed absolutely and read it all the way through. When I was done, I realized it was after midnight, but it was difficult to sleep from all the conflicting emotions it brought. This was JK Rowling's most affecting book so far.

It's not my wish to spoil anyone on the ending. I will say that it was a great and terrible ending. Before I began the book, some people had been whispering that there would be another death. However, I did not heed this as 1. I was not affected by the last death too much and 2. after being a fan of Joss Whedon all these years, I'm accustomed to being kicked in the gut emotionally. Unfortunately, my blase attitude left me woefully unprepared for the actual death and I cried like a little baby by the end. (Of course, I cry at everything, so no surprise there.)

Regarding the "snog factor," I'm very glad to say that I was totally wrong about the Harry and Cho Chang relationship and that I have not been this happy to be wrong in a long time. I like this new relationship much, much more than the last. And in the case of Ron and Hermione, I am glad that it seems the tension-filled bickering reached its end, because it was really boring and obnoxious by the end. I think they've landed in a good place, so I'm hopeful that the next book will be better on this point.

Of course, the real question that came out of the book was really, whose side is Snape on? I've read quite a number of views on the subject, and I'm still not decided. I think it all boils down to whether or not you think Dumbledore was hoodwinked by Snape or not. I'm not sure I can make that link, and I'm not sure many of the fans can either, despite how it looks. That will make it frustrating for some.

I hope everyone liked it as much as I did. In my opinion, this was the best so far, a good mix of the light and dark, the sad and the heroic. I'm not sure I would want smaller Harry Potter fans to read it (under, say, 10) because I think it would be a little too much, but it was a great read for anyone older.

Sepra was livin' easy on 12:45:00 PM || Site Feed ||