Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pottermore: Wonderful and Definitely a Work in Progress

So school and work have pretty much taken over my life, to the point that I am too tired to think of something to say in my blog and if you don’t have anything to say then don’t say anything right? Right. Well besides the life being consumed by work/school it has also been completely overrun by the new website pottermore.com, a website that J.K. Rowling made for her fans. I love the idea of this site, it has wonderful nerdy Harry Potter tidbits that I can obsess over, and it follows the books instead of the movies so it should have a lot more than the movies did (the movies were awesome but not as cool as the books, isn’t that always the case?). While I love the idea of this site with all of my nerdy little heart, the site has a good deal of flaws that I am hoping they will fix. So I will go over the pros and cons of this site. But if you’re a Potter fan(like me) the cons won’t stop you from being on and loving this site. It’s just that Pottermore has this great pile of raw material at their disposal and it can be improved if they listen to the fans. Though, if they do fix it I will never meet my deadlines for term papers because I will never leave the internet.

Pros:

  1. Pottermore follows the books. I love the movies, a good chunk of my life has been Harry Potter and being able to go to the theaters and see my favorite characters come to life was wonderful. Besides whenever a new Potter movie came out that meant that my brother and I got to see our dad because he would come and take us to the movie. Anyways, getting off track, the movies are great there’s no denying it, but we all know that they left out the little things that became big parts later. Like Peeves, I really wanted Peeves the whole scene in book five when the Weasley twins leave and they tell Peeves to “give her hell for us” talking about Umbridge was one of my favorite parts of the book. Pottermore does the book, when you first sign in and start, you start from chapter one, everything is broken up into the chapters and you get to explore and find hidden things that are in the chapter, things that Rowling didn’t put in the book.The chapters themselves are also really neat looking, artistically.
  2. The little tidbits that Rowling didn’t put in the book. When you are scoring the chapters for hidden items, some of which are weird and really have no meaning to them (like seaweed), you will also find these gems of information that are really cool. They have things like the life story of Minerva McGonagall, information on Ollivander, etc.
  3. Diagon Alley. Diagon alley looks really interesting, you can go to Ollivander’s to get your wand, which is really cool. You also go and pick out a pet and your school supplies. It looks really nice as well.
  4. The sorting ceremony. J.K. Rowling wrote the sorting hat test herself so that people can’t cheat, and I know for a fact they can’t cheat because I the majority of my friends are on it and none of us could figure out how the test answers pertain to the house. I thought for sure that I would either end up in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, I got Gryffindor. The sorting is not like on other sites where you can take it again if you don’t like the answer, it’s the real deal like if you were actually at Hogwarts.
  5. Spells. The spells are kind of weird and I’m not sure how you actually unlock them, I know that they come in your spell books like The Standard Book of Spells Grade 1. The way you do the spell is that they have bits of the word on the screen and you either type the letter or click on it wait for the circle around the word to get big, type on it again and then follow the pattern with the rest of the letters. How close you get to it is how powerful your spell is. Then you can do wizard duels with friends and people from your house and others…like Slytherin.
  6. Potions, to me, is the coolest feature so far of pottermore. You have follow the recipe, do it in the time allotted and you are the one doing it, you’re not just clicking on the ingredient and it goes into the bowl. No, you have to measure things out and crush them or boil at the right temperature for the right amount of time or stir it in the right direction. It’s really fun, then you have to wait for it for like an hour (depends on the cauldron you use) and make sure you come back at the right time to finish the potion. There isn’t much to do with the potion afterwards but making it is entertaining.

Cons:

  1. Verification emails. When you register for pottermore there are five steps. You give your birthday, country, first name/email, you make up a password, and you tell them how many of the books you’ve read and how many of the movies you’ve watched. Then you can pick one of four pregenerated usernames, I know it’s lame but I think it’s better than having 5million potterlover65’s, or mrsfredweasley27’s out there. Then you have to wait for your verification email, which is the lamest thing, the time between registering and getting your email is ridiculous. Usually when you get a verification email it takes like .2 seconds after registration. Not with Pottermore, I had to wait well over 24 hours and that was after contacting both help lines, one on the website and one on facebook(which they didn’t get back to me for a couple days). While I was waiting 5 of my friends registered and got theirs within a range of 10min-2hours. So frustrating!
  2.  No chat or messaging of any kind. There are two comment boards count them 1…2 (one in the Great Hall and the other in your Common Room) and those are so moderated that you can’t have a decent chat with anyone (by moderated I mean you type “hi” and it goes into moderation, and the time it takes to moderate every single little thing you post makes you feel that the verification email wait was short and then eventually you don’t want to post at all cuz waiting forever for a post you might not even see is just stupid. When you find your friends on pottermore you can’t message them when you friend them, not even a “hey this is so-and-so” and if you can’t pick your own stupid username then you should at least be able to tell your friends that the random name is you. You can’t post on your friends profiles, say anything to the people you are dueling, or do much of anything. Takes away some crucial coolness points. If pottermore is supposed to be a community then why are we not allowed to talk? What kind of community is this? Is it 1984, some kind of Orwellian nightmare? Oh no, pottermore is being ran by Umbridge!
  3. Waiting. I know I’m not the most patient person in the world, but The Sorcerers Stone is a pretty short book and it’s the only one on there so far. I wouldn’t mind the wait but the only things to do after getting everything from the chapters(which really isn’t much) is either wizard duels or potions and there are only like six potions and 20 some-odd spells so you get bored after a while. Plus you have to buy your own potion supplies and there is no way to get more galleons you get a few in the chapters but not enough to pay for horklump juice or beetles eyes. So eventually you can’t even make potions.
  4. You know what they could have added to make the time between books pass more quickly? For one they could have added Quidditch that was in the first book and would have been my favorite thing to do. I would want to be a keeper and I would have totally squashed Slytherin and made them cry to their mommies. Also they could have added more to theitems the chapters are short but you do get a couple things like books, and a remembrall, chocolate frog cards, and other things like that. Once you have them though you have nothing you can do with them, except give them as gifts to your friends who by the way already have them, they are just sitting there in your trunk taking up space. I have 15 books, 22 objects, and 11 chocolate frog cards and nothing to do with them. I’m not asking for the books to be full written books but have at least a bit more info than the book jacket, I worked hard to collect those things and I was so excited about it and there is nothing but a colorful square that says it’s a book.

Obviously Pottermore has some issues, but to be fair it just opened to the public not too long ago, I mean just a couple weeks ago. It is bound to have problems at the beginning and I’m sure it will get better with age, and, when all is said and done the fact that J.K. is doing this for her fans is very touching, Thanks J.K.! For the most part I am extremely happy with pottermore, there just needs to be a few tweaks and then it will be so amazing that I will never leave. But they better have Quidditch, nothing is better or more important than Quidditch nothing! Go Harpies!


In Which the Writer Discusses Howl’s Moving Castle

I think that everyone by now knows that I am a huge Diana Wynne Jones fan. I am also a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. So you can imagine how excited I was when Diana’s book, Howl’s Moving Castle was made into a Studio Ghibli movie in 2006. I had already read the book so many times that I had to buy a new copy–the old one wore out–and I was excited that a Diana Wynne Jones book was finally being made into a movie, and by Miyazaki (aka. god of all that is great anime) no less! To me it was nerdvana, absolute bliss on the highest scale of nerdism. But, I forgot about Miyazaki’s movie style, so I think part of me was thinking that it would be exactly like the book, or as close as possible. Miyazaki doesn’t role that way, he takes a concept, a book, story, etc. and makes it completely his own–i.e. Ponyo based on The Little Mermaid or his newest The Secret World of Arrietty being based on The Borrowers. Anyone who watches a Studio Ghibli movie–the studio Miyazaki co-founded– can immediately tell where the movie came from. So when I went to see Howl’s Moving Castle it was nothing like the book. Now with most hard core fans, they complain when their favorite book is being made into a movie (i.e. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Blade Runner, etc) because it wasn’t close enough to the books. I think most of us have been a little spoiled with movies like those that at least try to get as close to the book as possible, and I am usually one of those spoiled fans who complain (usually depends on the book). With Howl, at first I wasn’t sure how to feel, I mean it was very different from the book and it was one of my favorite books. Yet somehow I couldn’t be mad, it was a wonderful movie 5stars all around. So I decided that I didn’t care if it wasn’t like the book and just took it as a Miyazaki movie, I would recommend both the book and the movie to people (though I would ask people to judge them as separate entities). I thought I would do a review on both so people can see the different aspects of both and hopefully find it interesting enough to read/watch it.

Howl’s Moving Castle- Diana Wynne Jones (1986)

Sophie Hatter lives the town Market Chipping in the land of Ingary, she is the eldest of three girls and lives/works in a hat shop. When her father dies her stepmother decides to split up the girls so they can “seek their fortunes” which seems to happen a lot in fantasy books. The youngest daughter, Martha, was sent to learn magic and become a powerful witch, the middle child, Lettie, was sent to be apprenticed at a bakery in the town, and Sophie was left to look after the hat shop, which she thinks is fitting because she believes the old wives tale that the eldest of three is the most unlucky. Sophie holes herself up in the shop and is so isolated that she starts talking to the hats that she is sewing. One day she goes to visit Lettie and finds out that her sisters had switched places because they didn’t want what their mother had decided for them, saying she didn’t ask them what they wanted to do, which their mother hadn’t. Lettie (actually Martha) tells Sophie that she should do what she wants, which Sophie shrugs off because she is the “eldest of three” and therefore destined for nothing.

When Sophie comes back to the shop she meets a woman and a very nervous looking man. The woman insults all the hats Sophie gives her to try on and Sophie gets a bit short with the woman. The woman tells Sophie that she shouldn’t talk like that to the Witch of the Waste, and evil witch who had been banished to the Waste for causing havoc, and the witch turns Sophie into an old woman and tells her that part of the spell is that she can’t tell anyone she is under a spell. Sophie decides that she should probably leave the hat shop before her stepmother gets home and ends up going to the Wizard Howl’s moving castle, which looks like a small house on the inside, where she meets a fire demon named Calcifer who says that he will help her break her spell if she helps him break his contract with Howl. She meets Howl’s assistant Micheal, who is 15, and ends up living as Howl’s cleaning lady. Howl and Sophie square off a couple of times because Howl is a vain coward and Sophie is a nosy pest. I love Sophie, yes she does think she is unlucky but, she is smart and sharp tongued and can hold her own against Howl or anyone else. Much chaos ensues both in Ingary and in Wales because Howl is from a different world(ours). The book is fun and delightful and the characters, while being fantasy characters, seem extremely likeable and like normal people.

Howl’s Moving Castle- Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli (2006)

Sophie works in a hat shop, she goes to visit her sister, is hassled by two soldiers and saved by a handsome wizard. They in turn are attacked by weird ink glob monsters and the mysterious man flies with Sophie in the air and gets he to her sister. Sophie hears from her sister that the man who saved her is the wizard Howl. Sophie gets back and starts to close up the hat shop and meets the Witch of the Waste who turns her into an old lady who can’t tell anyone she is under a spell. She goes to Howl’s castle and meets Calcifer the fire demon and Markl a young boy who is Howl’s apprentice. Ingary ends up going to war and wants Howl to use his magic to fight for them. Chaos also ensues and Sophie has to help Howl remember that he is human, oh and for some reason there is a wheezing dog in the movie. The movie is cute and fun and very much a Studio Ghibli movie. If you like any other Miyazaki movie–Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke– this one won’t disappoint. This movie is also good for anyone who likes anime, or old Disney (you know where there was a plot and good art that wasn’t all done on a computer), or just wants a good movie they can watch with their kids.

Do yourself a favor and go read/watch Howl’s Moving Castle. Diana Wynne Jones is an amazing author and Studio Ghibli is good for the soul.


Welcome. You will experience a tingling sensation and then death.

For those who haven’t watched Doctor Who or haven’t caught up yet I must post the obligatory “Spoiler Alert”.

So, I’ve been watching Doctor Who since the new series started in ’05 and I have to say that Steven Moffat’s brain baffles me. I swear that if we took an x-ray of his brain it would come out an M.C. Escher painting–everything all different dimensional and interconnected yet seeming not connected. I am convinced that the man is either a raving lunatic or a genius (possibly both). Every time I think I have this show figured out, they pull the rug out from under me.  Most shows or movies I watch I have the whole plot figured out with in the first 20minutes or the first 2 episodes. I’m not bragging about it it’s just that all these shows seem so standard/predictable, like it’s been done before, and that goes for sci-fi as well.

I think that is probably why I love Doctor Who so much, it keeps me on my toes. The show goes kinda how I think it will for all of about five minutes, then it throws a curve ball, or two, or seven, and by the end of the show, most of the time, I feel like I was vacuum sucked down the rabbit hole, thrown around for an hour, and then spit right back out again. Then I have to calm down enough from my nerd high to digest all of what just happened so that I’m ready for the next weeks episode.  I also love shows that make me think, and with this show not only do you have to think you practically have to keep a diagram.

The whole sixth season was, I honestly think, Moffat’s way of weeding out the herd, finding out who could keep up. For example the first two episodes “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, the Doctor is killed within the first 10min of the show. I don’t mean normal killed wear he regenerates himself and “Oh, look a new Doctor”, I mean KILLED as in he was shot, he started to regenerate, and then he was shot during the regeneration cycle. So your sitting there acting like Amy, trying to rationalize it. I mean he’s the Doctor, the Doctor doesn’t die. Maybe there is a loophole, yeah a loophole, that’s it. Even though you know that the Doctor died for real, I mean you’ve just seen it happen, you cling to any irrational idea that comes along.

Like the plastic flesh Doctor, I was like “Hey maybe that’s the Doctor we watched die, it wasn’t the real Doctor so we’re all good.” Nope, that jerk dies in the friggen episode and on top of that Amy was a fake Amy, and now you have to go back through the whole season to figure out how you didn’t know and see all the minute clues that are put in there and kick yourself for brushing them off. Then you find out that Amy’s daughter is actually River Song, and you have to go back even further than just season six and follow the whole River Song thing. I think that the gap between the first and second half of the season was so you could digest and the ones whose brains hadn’t exploded from the first half–don’t worry we have a memorial for all the Doctor Who casualties–were rewarded with the second part of the season.

I won’t go into detail about the second half of the season because, well it would look like a novel and we would all eventually get bored.  Basically Amy’s friend Mels turns out to be River Song before she regenerated because River is a time lord because she was conceived in the TARDIS. River tries to kill the Doctor and fails. There are tiny people inside robots who are like “time police”, they are trying to kill River. Then a bunch of crazy stuff happens and the world ends…again, and it’s the Doctor’s fault so he goes to his death after marrying River, one of those “wait…what?” kind of moments. Then River kills the Doctor as the astronaut in the first episode and we find out that the Doctor was never really dead because it was a robot Doctor run by the tiny  “time police” people. Then after all that they leave off with the biggest cliffhanger ever, saying that they will be answering the question asked from the beginning “Doctor who?” which I honestly never thought of as a question.

If you are confused, hey I said I wasn’t going into detail, go watch the show.

 

I’m wondering what is going to happen next season (have to wait till fall…crap) and also I have some questions. If any of you who actually read this whole thing have an answer please let me know. First of all is, ok so, River Song is a time lord because she was concieved in the Tardis around all that “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff”. My question is, does that only work on humans? I know humans look like time lords but what if an alien baby–such as a Silurian–was conceived in the Tardis. Will that baby be a time lord too? I know it sounds ridiculous but who knows? Maybe there is a reptilian time lord walking around somewhere.

The rest of my questions are about Steven Moffat. First, how do you do it? I mean it seems impossible to have all of that story in your head since 2005, all of those little details and clues that end up super important later. Where are you putting all of that information? Also, while I do find the Weeping Angels and the Silence successfully terrifying creature, how the hell did you come up with those creatures? Are you related to H.P. Lovecraft? Seriously you should sell tickets to your brain, it would be better than Disney World.

Now I’m stuck with the biggest question, Doctor who? Man, this is not cool, I was already going to be in Doctor Who withdrawal but you have to go and drop a bombshell like that before you leave? Well at least I have the old ones to obsess over for a while.  Stupid evil mastermind writers.

“The first question! The question that must never be answered! Hidden in plain sight! The question you’ve been running from all your life! Doctor Who! Doctor Who! Doctor Who!”

Dorium~ Doctor Who

 


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