Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hogwarts: kicking the shit out of real schools for over a thousand years

            Anyone else feel like Hogwarts does more right than we do? And before I get going, apparently Hogwarts is in the Microsoft word dictionary. This is either fantastically awesome or a complete travesty. Hopefully I’ll decide before I’m done.
            Anyway, I decided I was going to reread J.K. Rowling’s (who is also in the dictionary, although if Hogwarts is I probably should have seen that coming) goldmine of a series before I saw the seventh movie, and I’ve come to many a shocking philosophical revelation. The first being you should never start reading a seven book series a week before finals. That just spells disaster for your free time.
            The second is that Hogwarts kicks the unholy Hell out of our school system. Maybe because the teachers there are ridiculously better than ours (except Emily, who has the magical ability to fail me with a wave of her mouse, which is really the most difficult kind of magic there is. Remember: I gave you an apple). Seriously though—two wizards were ready to take over the world when they were seventeen, which makes a twenty-three year old white kid who can’t grow a beard and is doing just about everything possible to delay growing up and joining the real world look like a complete failure at life. Tom Riddle: 1. Me: negative 426739.
            Hell, one of the wizards that took over the world at seventeen didn’t even finish school. Home boy got kicked out in his sixth year, and still managed to become the ruler of all things—all the dude needed was a stick. Apologies to anyone who hasn’t read the seventh book, because you probably have no idea who I’m talking about. Here’s a hint: he’s a wizard.
            And if that wasn’t enough, T.M. Riddle became a goddam immortal by chillin out in the library and reading a few choice novels. Might have been a tad more complicated than that, but seriously—you don’t even have to go to class to learn these shenanigans? Does UAS have a muggle exchange program?
            For those who frown on the dark arts (party poopers), that magical castle academy churned out an old dude who could’ve taken over the world when he was seventeen, but instead he decided he was gonna be an old dude for a while, then he was gonna save it. Seriously (do I use that word too much?), teacher man just wakes up one morning and goes “after breakfast I think I’ll save the world. And take that guy’s stick. I do love me a good stick, and that there’s a nice lookin stick.”

            I may have just completely tarnished all memory of Dumbledore. My apologies.

            I guess you can say Harry saved the world too, and he skipped his last year. But Harry’s a bit of an idiot, plus he had just a tad bit of help, so I’m gonna say that doesn’t count. Plus those kids need some serious acting lessons, unless they’ve improved since the last movie, in which case I have the following message:


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I guess you could call this nostalgia

            Now that my obligatory family rant is out of the way, I guess I should actually do this whole retrospective thing, since your only sister only gets married once (knock on wood).

            As someone who fancies himself a writer, I look for stories pretty much everywhere. I can finagle one about the little girl bowing bubbles in the park, or the knee I blew out in high school, or the northern lights over the lake. Whether those stories are worth reading/hearing/writing is entirely different matter—point is they’re there. And like I said in the speech that made my sister cry, I have a lot of stories about my sister. Twenty three years, five months and (now) thirteen days.
            There’s the time she drove through a door and got me grounded. The time we were playing baseball in the front yard and she rang the titanium bat off my forehead. And when she came up to visit me for Thanksgiving and we rowed out to the middle of Auke Lake to watch the lights dance. Then there’s the handful from right before the wedding, like when she tossed me a grapefruit and I tried to cut it in half before it hit the ground, and forty five seconds later she was yelling at me for something neither one of us remembers.
            At her wedding I said the hardest thing about being a writer was admitting when the story wasn’t yours anymore. Recognizing when it’s time to take on a supporting role and hand someone else the reigns (or pen, whatever). I officially handed took on a supporting role and gave Zach the reigns. And it’s official because there was a mic involved. I also put my speech down on paper, so it’s uber official.
I’ve never understood why people cry at weddings—particularly the kind of crying which sounds exactly like the dry heaving that comes right before my cat coughs up a hairball. Unless the newlyweds are moving to Singapore with no intention of ever seeing anyone again, I’ve never seen any reason to be anything but various amounts of happy, especially if there’s an open bar and free food.
There was a weird feeling in my gut when I got to the end of my speech though. Not that I broke down into fountains of mournful tears—that would defy all masculine stereotypes, and as we all know, I’m nothing if not the foundation on which masculinity stands.
It was weird. Kinda like watching Ray Bourque retire after he finally won the cup back in 2000. Everyone was glad it happened and he was going out on a high note and on his own terms and all that, but you’d be hard pressed to see find someone who wasn’t sad to see him go. Not that my sister is anywhere near the level of Ray Bourque aesome—that would just be silly talk. But there was that weird mix of glad she finally (can I say “finally” if she’s only 25?) found what she was looking for and sorry that our era had officially come to an end. I’m not sure yet how much of an exaggeration that is.
I find Zach to be acceptable, but I’ll still miss the days when sibling and I would hop around and cause mayhem and destruction, or hit up every fast food place in Silicon Valley because she was having some weird ass cravings, and I’m not gonna get to tell anymore stories of the time she cut off an old lady in traffic and spent the next half an hour wondering if senior citizens carry guns in their glove compartments, and if cutting them off was a valid enough reason to get shot.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It was a beautiful wedding

The most accurate definition of “family” I’ve ever heard of, courtesy of urbandictionary: insane people that mated and decided to have kids to torture and scar mentally just to keep their blood line going with that extra zest for life.
A friendly word of advice to anyone who will ever even remotely consider getting married, or has a sibling who has ever considered getting married, or has ever seen anyone who’s related to anyone who has a sibling who’s considered getting married: don’t do it. Bad idea. If you’re gonna do it,  I’m sure I’ll be happy for you and all that jazz, unless you do it when your only brother has shit to do. And if you’re gonna do it when your only brother has shit to do, make sure you don’t ask him to do ANYTHING to help with the wedding or prewedding activities, and nobody else asks him to help with anything relating to the wedding or prewedding activities.. At all. He will kill you with a butter knife. Slowly.
            Seriously, how hard is it to understand that a student intern has homework to do, and internship duties to complete, in NOVEMBER? Exact midpoint of the semester--not a chance this kid has anything to do except entertain us until midnight, and of course he'll be willing to start the whole routine again at 8:00 am tomorrow. Yea, he’ll love to do that every day for two weeks. Ugh.
            I thought trips to California were supposed to be relaxing? Sunny all the time, seventy degrees at 10:00 at night in middle of November. Well, beginning of November, but it’s still November. I thought I’d have to entertain people for a day or two, and yes, on the day I get to look at the groom and go “HA! She’s yours now buddy!” I would, of course, be respectful and helpful and etcetera etcetera. Maybe one or two minor tasks, scattered here and there like the leaves that are never going to fall off those damn trees because it’s California, and California will always have climate and never have seasons.
I did not think I’d be staying up until 4:00 in the morning to make sure emails were sent, or that books were read, and essays were written, and paperwork was done. I did not think I’d be calling people who had already committed to coming to this—do we call it a celebration?—just to make sure they were still coming, and still knew where the opera house is, because sometimes buildings spontaneously jump up and run around, but we wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case with this particular building.
            I should have expected to retell the same story four hundred and eighty seven thousand times a day, about the time I saw something I see every day, because I live in a state where pedestrians aren’t the only wildlife. And yes, I should have expected to give my unedited opinion of the Sarah Palin debacle. I love my family sometimes, but can they not see that I have apparently have to get this written, because it is sitting on my lap, and I am typing it?
            On the upside, my newly wedded sister and I discovered that cutting a grapefruit in half before it hits the ground is just as much fun as it looks.