Wizard Friday Fun

Today is an auspicious day.

Today, the final curtain will fall on a saga that has kept me occupied for a good many hours over the last 11 years. 
Today, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is officially released (henceforth known as HP7b) and I, for once, will see it the very day it opens. 
The media is full of Harry Potter retrospectives at the moment – and with good reason. The final instalment of an eight film franchise is a momentous occasion. Yes, not all the films are superb, but, as a general rule they do the books good service – especially Prisoner of Azkaban (the discerning Potter fan’s favourite book and film). The first film came out during my final year of university and now I’m on the cusp of another big change. To this day, parts of Hogwarts are still the room where I had choir rehearsals as a teenager and I will forever be indebted to Alan Rickman for making Snape a much more bearable character to read as the later books were published. [Coincidentally, right at this moment my parents are on holiday in Alnwick – location of Alnwick Castle, the main set used for Hogwarts. Wonder if they’ve realised?] 
Anyway, for those of you that consider this an important event, I have some fun for you. Those that couldn’t give a toss about Harry Potter can come back next week – I make no apologies for what I like… 
Firstly, a fantastically creative interpretation of all the films, via cartoon. The Summharry parody comic by Lucy Kinisley is utter genius and you’ll have to follow that link to see the full beauty of it. One cartoon for each film now turned into one massive cartoon covering all eight of them. The comedic detail is fabulous! 
Continuing the spoof theme and returning to my favourite blog written by a bookseller, Jen Campbell (of ‘weird things customers say in bookshops’ fame) has written some seriously fabulous spoofs. Yes they’re long, but to anyone who knows the books in a certain amount of detail, they’re hilarious. Books 1-4 have been done so far, and if this extract from the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Cup of Pretty Blue Flames is anything to go by, they’re well worth reading:

Chapter One: Some dude called Frank

JK Rowling: Once upon a time there was an old man who lived in a house…
Readers: WTF Jo, where’s Harry?
JK Rowling: Shut up, I am SETTING the SCENE.
Readers: Oh. Well get on with it then.
Frank: PESKY KIDS.
Nagini: Hissssssssssss.
Frank: You’re not a pesky kid.
Voldemort: So, David Tennant, what will you bring to the story?
David Tennant: An amazing cool leather jacket.
Voldemort: Fabulous. Fashion is my number one priority right now.
Nagini: Hisssssssssss.
Voldemort: Ooo, Nagini says that lunch is standing just outside the door.
Wormtail: Oh, fabulous, I was getting rather peckish. AVADA KEDAVRA.
Something I didn’t think I’d manage to include in this week’s fun was my traditional standby of comedy a cappella YouTube video, but, remarkably you can get a Harry Potter themed one of those too – superb! This is Overboard Vocals (friends of the ever-wonderful Swingle Singers) performing Hedwig’s Theme, complete with wigs…

Yes, I realise that you’ll now have quite an irritating piece of music going round your head for the rest of the day – but imagine what it’s like working in a bookshop on a Harry Potter release day and hearing nothing but that for many, many hours from very early in the morning. I have no sympathy.

Back to dear Alan Rickman. So Snape is perhaps not a role in which I’m able to swoon over him as I would in Truly, Madly, Deeply or that Texas video that I love, but he is utterly fabulous and thank goodness JK Rowling was able to persuade him to take the part. I love him even more ever since I read the letter he wrote to fans, published in Empire Magazine in April:

Finally, just in case you need a reminder of what’s happened in the last films, here’s a handy round-up of all that has gone before:

And with that, I’m off to enjoy a screening of HP7b in a classy cinema (which serves booze), with good company and no children. Awesome!

The hole in the fence

Ok, it’s Friday, we need some light relief and a few distractions. I have a wonderful distraction up my sleeve for you, but first you need to get through a typically random story from the life of Liz…
There are only two routes into the housing development (the snob in me avoids the word ‘estate’, hmmm) where I live – three residential roads off a big south London artery. Neither of these ways in are any where near the local mainline station, even though it’s basically over the road. It makes the walk at least twice as long as it needs to be.
However, people have found a way round this. Over the years a path has been worn down to a spot where two of the railings have been pushed as far apart as possible. This has now become a common short-cut, resulting in surreal moments, like having a bag land at your feet on the pavement, with a person appearing shortly afterwards. Or, observing a group of students try to lift 4 pizza boxes over the top of the fence whilst simultaneously clambering through the hole.
My first encounter with the hole in the fence was before I’d even moved to the area. A friend had recently moved in and it was he who suggested we clamber through. I took one look at the (small) gap and thought it probably wouldn’t work. Then, just to show some willing, I stuck my head through, yelled “this is NOT going to happen!” and never attempted it again.
For four years I’ve put up with the walk to the station/local shops/bus stop taking at least 5 minutes longer. My friend and I have competed as to who can get to the take away quickest. He has consistently complained that when travelling home together he has to take the long route round.
However, what with my recent shrinking activities, the thought struck me a while ago that perhaps the hole in the fence might become a possibility. Admittedly, the hole will always suit men better than women (ideally, you need to be straight up and down to have no issues with it), but it was worth a try.
Last night I had the perfect opportunity – it was fairly late, dark, quite quiet, with no one around to observe an embarrassing failure. Initially I walked past the hole, then went back and looked. I struggled to get my handbag through and began to reconsider, but then went for it. There was a little manoeuvring needed and a certain part of my anatomy got a little bruised, but I was through. Quite the major achievement, I’m incredibly proud.
As you have dutifully got through my self-indulgence, here’s a perfect Friday distraction for you: xkcd cartoons. A random combination of maths, science, romance, geekery and general amusement, clicking on the ‘random’ button results in hours of amusement. (And a little confusion on my part – some of the maths/science/techy stuff is a little bit beyond me.)
Of course, right at this moment I can’t find my particular favourites, but I have just come across this one, which will do, especially as this is exactly how I would react to an act of wilful book destruction: