Thanks, again, Tim!
I just finished the new Harry Potter book. (six hours...whew) Here's an almost entirely spoiler-free review.
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is a very long book. 870 pages, in fact. That makes it 25 pages longer than The Bell Curve, and approaches both my Norton Anthology of American Literature and War and Peace in length.
The story flies by, flowing much better than anything its length has a right to. Before you know it, Harry's back on the Hogwarts Express. In the preceding pages, he'll have taken the reader on quite the thrill ride.
Rowling's formula is adhered to in this one as well: Description of summer, back at Hogwarts, calamity, resolution, and back to Number 4 Privet Drive. Still, it's an awfully flexible formula, one that leaves the book to make its own magic. And make magic it does, while breaking new ground for the series in the process.
Those who appreciated Years 1 and 2 will find Phoenix difficult. Readers like me who appreciated the way the character's language and actions grew with each passing year will find the new installment to be the best yet. Rowling even allows herself a reference to homosexuality and a passing swipe at the word "fuck". Regardless, Harry's not hitting a bong or doing kegstands, though certain other activities that come with being fifteen do come into play.
The characters are very dynamic in the fifth year. Fred and George Weasley make quite the splash, as does Neville Longbottom of all people. Cho Chang shows up again, for all those who remember Harry's attempts at flirtation from year four. Professor McGonagall seems more human, and readers who remember Professor Lupin will be pleasantly surprised.
The recommendation: Non-fans may have trouble, as having read the first four books really does make things easier. Thankfully, Rowling has included short digressions of the kind found in book 4, Goblet of Fire, to help newcomers. If you're a fan of the series, this book is a must-have. C'mon now, you're done reading. Go buy it. You won't regret your purchse.
Enjoy...Too bad the Times ruined every major plot point in their "review."
Thanks, TEd! Great job!
Selected Sunday Readings
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
More 'June Gloom', and that's OK by me.
The kid finally whined that he was bored. Told him so long as he had a bedroom that could be cleaned up, he shouldn't even hint he's bored, or I'll find something for him to do. [That's how my Mom broke me of that line. ; )]
Hope everyone had a pleasant solstice.
Tonight, Sunday, CBS opens the evening with the traditional '60 Minutes', followed by a RERUN 'Becker', then a FRESH 'Charlie Lawrence', then a RERUN made-for-tv movie 'Guilty Hearts' (part 1).
NBC has arena football overlapping into primetime (on the east coast), so at least 1 hour on the left coast will be local filler. Also scheduled are 'Dateline', a RERUN 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent', and then a FRESH 'Crime & Punishment'.
ABC starts the night with a RERUN of the movie '101 Dalmations' (the Glenn Close version), followed by a RERUN 'Alias', then a RERUN 'The Practice'.
The WB has the weekly RERUN 'Gilmore Girls', followed by a RERUN 'Charmed', then a RERUN 'Boarding House: North Shore'.
Faux has a RERUN 'Futurama', followed by a RERUN 'King Of The Hill', then a RERUN 'Simpsons', followed by a RERUN 'King Of The Hill', then a RERUN 'Malcolm', followed by a RERUN 'Oliver Beene'.
UPN has a RERUN 'Buffy', followed by the movie 'Live & Let Die' (Roger Moore as James Bond).
A&E has 'Columbo: Ashes To Ashes', followed by 'Biography' (Hugh Hefner), then 'The Point'.
AMC offers the movie 'Ghost', followed by the movie 'White Palace'.
BBC has 'Ground Force' - Stamford (7pm), 'Ground Force' - Nantwich (7:30pm), 'Faking It' - Vicar Turns Second Hand Car Salesman (8pm), 'Faking It' - Ballet Dancer to Wrestler (9pm), 'The Office' (10pm), 'Behind the Screen' - Coupling (10:40pm), 'Faking It' - Vicar Turns Second Hand Car Salesman (11pm), and 'Faking It' - Ballet Dancer to Wrestler (12am) (ALL TIMES EDT)
Bravo has Michael Palin's 'Around The World In 80 Days', followed by 'Inside The Actor's Studio' (Drew Barrymore), then the movie 'Mary Reilly'.
HBO offers the Season Premiere (for the final season) of 'Sex In The City'.
History has 'Gold Rush Money', followed by 'Greatest Raids', then 'Battle Stations', 'Mail Call', and 'Tales Of The Gun'.
MTV has the Series Premiere of 'Doggy Fizzle Televizzle'.
SciFi has the movie 'Wishmaster 3', followed by the movie 'Wishmaster 4'.
Showtime has the Season Finale of 'Queer As Folk'.
TCM offers the movie 'Once Upon a Time in the West' (1969) (another movie I love - check out Henry Fonda as a heavy - jeez, when he shoots the little boy...), followed by the movie 'Comanche' (1956), then the movie 'The Fearmakers' (1958), followed by the silent movie 'The Man From Texas' (1915), starring Tom Mix.
Anyone have any opinions?
(See below for addresses)
A reveller dances during sunrise on the day of the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, June 21, 2003. Thousands of people travelled to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise on the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
Photo by Kieran Doherty
The Information One-Stop
Moose & Squirrel
'Streetcore' To Be Released In October
The final album from late Clash principal Joe Strummer will be released Oct. 7 via Hellcat/Epitaph.
Titled "Streetcore," the set was assembled by Strummer's former bandmates in the Mescaleros and drawn from sessions recorded prior to the artist's sudden death last December.
Although the track list has not yet been announced, among the cuts that have reportedly made the album are "The Road to Rock'N'Roll," which was written for inclusion on a Johnny Cash album, and a Rick Rubin-produced cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."
The finished tracks did require additional recording from the Mescaleros, a process which group members described as "the hardest bit." Writing in January on Strummer's official Web site ( www.strummersite.com), the group said, "Up until now we were just putting stuff down to see what works. Now we've got to decide what works and what doesn't."
Gets Hollywood Star
Lionel Richie was dancing on the ceiling Friday after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
An estimated 500 people gathered at the Hollywood Boulevard ceremony and sang "Happy Birthday" to Richie, who celebrated turning 54 on the day of the event.
Among those in attendance were comedian Jay Leno, who teased the singer about the location of the star. "What an honor to be in front of a parking garage," Leno said.
US pop singer Iggy Pop, left, and former Italian top model and now singer Carla Bruni smile after being awarded Knight in the Arts and Letters order in Paris Saturday June 21, 2003.
Photo by Jacques Brinon
Fox Pulling Show
Cedric the Entertainer
The Fox television network has halted production on the year-old variety and sketch comedy show starring Cedric the Entertainer but will bring the series back this fall for a short run of as-yet unseen episodes.
A spokesman for the News Corp. Inc.-owned network said on Friday the seven or eight remaining segments of the half-hour show will air through the end of the year, returning to its 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night time slot.
A source close to the production told Reuters that Fox executives suggested a "holding deal" with Cedric to keep him at the network while they searched for "the right vehicle," but the performer declined. "His representatives felt like he had a big movie career in front of him and that he should be focusing on that," the source said.
Cedric the Entertainer
Accuracy In Graphics?
TV3, New Zealand
TV3 has apologised after a graphic labelling US President George W. Bush a "professional fascist" flashed up during its primetime news.
The baseline graphic, which was supposed to have promoted an upcoming weather bulletin, was aired to 360,000 viewers halfway through Wednesday night's news.
TV3 spokesman Roger Beaumont said the network was thoroughly investigating the mislabelled graphic.
Mr Beaumont said it was too early to say if disciplinary action would be taken against the person who made the "absolutely genuine mistake".
"But we are looking into it, for sure."
TV3, New Zealand
Sponsors Bone Marrow Drives
Rapper Nelly and his sister Jackie Donahue will sponsor two bone marrow donor drives Saturday, hoping to find a match for her and others with leukemia.
Testing will be at the America's Center in St. Louis and the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif., said Nelly publicist Juliette Harris.
The National Marrow Donor Program registry is in dire need of donors for Donahue and other black patients, but donors of all ethnicities are encouraged to have their bone marrow tested, Harris has said. Only 388,000 of the program's nearly 5 million volunteers are black.
In The Kitchen With BartCop & Friends
Ruth Buzzi, a regular on the '60s "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" comedy-variety show, has an eye for collector cars — and a personal stable of six Rolls-Royces.
She's been collecting Rolls-Royces since her marriage in 1978 to Kent Perkins, president of Allied Management Resources.
A gem in her collection is a 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Drophead Coupe convertible, now on display in Petersen Automotive Museum's "A Century of Elegance" exhibit, which opened Friday.
Her favorite is the one she's nicknamed "The Rat Pack Rolls." It's a Corniche convertible that was once owned by Dean Martin. It's now Buzzi's everyday driver, as she calls it, to fetch groceries.
Petersen Automotive Museum
Thousands of new bulbs made the enduring symbol of the City of Light twinkle again in Paris, June 21, 2003. Almost two years after wear-and-tear darkened the Eiffel Tower's lighting system. The 20,000 new lights on the tower recreate a glittering display originally meant to show off one of the world's most visited tourist sites on the night of the Millennium. The tower will be engulfed in twinkling lights for 10 minutes at the start of every hour from dusk until one or two each morning for the next decade.
Photo by Philippe Wojazer
Three-Day Fest In Butler, PA
7th Annual Monster Bash
Not too far from the cemetery featured in the "Night of the Living Dead," vintage sci-fi and horror fans are invading a hotel for a chance to see creature features and their stars at the seventh annual Monster Bash.
Organizer Ron Adams says he expects as many as 2,000 people to crowd into a hotel in Butler, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, for the three-day celebration of creature features and classic monsters, which began Friday.
Among the horror legends at the festival are Ben Chapman, who played the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the 1954 film; Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff, who portrayed Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 movie; and the "Blob" prop used in the 1958 film.
The festival opened Friday with a short called "Monsters We've Known and Loved" and continued with "The Mummy" (1931). Also playing are the 1919 German film, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "King Kong" (1933), "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) and a 3-D version of "It Came from Outer Space" (1953).
7th Annual Monster Bash
Monster Bash 2003
Scott Joplin Opera
An opera composed by ragtime musician Scott Joplin decades ago and first staged more than 25 years ago is about to get a whole new sound.
Treemonisha, which was composed by Joplin in 1911 and first performed by the Houston Grand Opera in 1975, is scheduled to be performed Sunday at the Stern Grove Festival.
But the new production will not sound like the Houston version. Joplin's original orchestral score was lost, and conductor Rick Benjamin has written a new version based on the composer's surviving piano-vocal score.
The Houston version, by contrast, was composed by conductor Gunther Schuller for a full orchestra. Well-received by many critics, that version played on Broadway for two months in 1975.
Set on an Arkansas plantation in 1884, Treemonisha tells the story of a young black woman who teaches former slaves about the power of education.
Formerly 'The Vidiot'
Wins Aladdin Casino Bid
A federal bankruptcy court awarded the billion-dollar Aladdin casino to investors who plan to turn the Las Vegas property into a Planet Hollywood-themed resort, a bidder who lost the battle said on Friday.
The winning group was led by Planet Hollywood investors Robert Earl and Bay Harbour Management, which had joined with Starwood Hotels.
Under the terms of the winning bid, Earl and his investment group will assume $510 million in debt and assume another $35 million loan for the casino's power plant. Another $90 million will be invested in refurbishing the property.
The desert-themed Aladdin cost an estimated $1 billion to build but went bankrupt in September 2001, about a year after it opened.
Hindu Seer Bappi Giri practices yoga at the Kamakhya Temple in the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati June 20, 2003. Seers and pilgrims are arriving at the temple, which is famous for the teaching of black magic known traditionally as 'Tantra', for the annual four day 'Ambubachi Mela', which starts on June 22 when pilgrims and Seers believe their prayers will be answered by God during the festival.
Photo by Utpal Baruah
Dutch Gallery Offers Reward
Stolen Van Goghs
An Amsterdam art gallery said it was offering up to 100,000 euros (116,500 dollars) reward for information leading to the recovery of two works by the Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh, stolen last December.
The canvasses, the 1882 "View of the sea at Scheveningen" and the 1884 "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church at Nuenen", number among van Gogh's early masterpieces.
Thieves used a simple ladder and a length of rope to make off with the works from the heavily guarded Van Gogh Museum which contains the world's largest collection of Van Goghs -- some 200 paintings and 500 drawings.
The gallery, acting in cooperation with the Amsterdam police, said payment of the reward would depend on the recovery of both paintings in good condition.
Stolen Van Goghs
Discovered In China
Aged wines don't get much older than this. Archaeologists in western China discovered five earthenware jars of 2,000-year-old rice wine in an ancient tomb, and its bouquet was still strong enough to perk up the nose, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.
Xinhua said 1.3 gallons of the almost clear, blue-tinged liquor was found, enough to allow researchers their best opportunity yet to study ancient distilling techniques.
Several drinking vessels, along with bronze bells, more than 100 jade pieces and part of a human skull were found in the tomb, which Sun said probably belonged to a member of the Han nobility.
Playwright George Axelrod, who anticipated the sexual revolution with "The Seven Year Itch" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" and later wrote screenplays for such films as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "The Manchurian Candidate," died Saturday. He was 81.
Axelrod died in his sleep of heart failure, said his daughter, Nina Axelrod.
"He ended his life very peacefully in his home overlooking Los Angeles," she said. "He was very happy."
A radio and television writer, Axelrod hit the jackpot in 1952 with "The Seven Year Itch." It was a laugh-filled play about a man whose wife and children had gone to the country, and who pursues the luscious young beauty who lives above his apartment.
The play lasted almost three years on Broadway and was filmed by 20th Century Fox as a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, with Tom Ewell repeating his role in the play. The movie was a box-office hit, aided by the classic photo of Monroe's skirt being blown into the air.
Axelrod, who collaborated with Billy Wilder on the script, declared in 1955 "we didn't make a very good picture." The industry censor forbade the sexual innuendo contained in the play and would not allow the two characters to sleep together.
His next play, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" a satire on Hollywood, lasted more than a year on Broadway and was also filmed by Fox, with Tony Randall and Jayne Mansfield as stars.
Axelrod steadfastly refused to see it. "They didn't use my story, my play or my script," he said.
He wrote another script for Monroe, "Bus Stop," based on William Inge's play. His next assignment, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," was marked by acrimony with director Blake Edwards.
Axelrod, who still lived in the East then, was advised by Wilder: "You can't sit in New York, see the finished project, then raise hell about it. If you want to be involved in the making of the picture, you've got to be out here to do it."
Taking the advice, Axelrod moved to Hollywood and became the highest-paid writer in films.
He was born June 9, 1922, in New York City and started working early; becoming an omnivorous reader "to make up for my lack of formal education." He also haunted Broadway theaters.
After three wartime years in the Army Signal Corps, he returned to New York and wrote scripts for radio, then television. He calculated that he had written more than 400 broadcasts.
"The Manchurian Candidate," in 1962, based on Richard Condon's novel about wartime brainwashing and subversive politics, may have been Axelrod's best achievement. He declared in 1995 that the script "broke every rule. It's got dream sequences, flashbacks, narration out of nowhere ... Everything in the world you're told not to do."
He considered "The Manchurian Candidate" a comedy, but critics, audiences and pressure groups were offended by the tale of an American POW in Korea who returns home and kills a powerful politician. After President Kennedy's assassination, it was shelved. When the film was rereleased in 1987, critics proclaimed it a classic.
Another of Axelrod's plays, "Goodbye, Charlie," became a movie starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis. His other films as writer include "Phffft," "Paris When It Sizzles," "How to Murder Your Wife," "Lord Love a Duck" (also directed), "The Secret Life of an American Wife" (also directed). He also wrote three novels.
In 1987, Axelrod was saluted at the New York Film Festival. He told the admiring crowd: "I always wanted to get into the major leagues, and I knew my secret: luck and timing. I had a small and narrow but very, very sharp talent, and inside it, I'm as good as it gets."
Axelrod's second wife, Joan, died in 2001. He is survived by four children, seven grandchildren and a sister. A private service was planned.
A mother cheetah and three of her young cubs rest against a fence June 12, 2003 at the De Wildt Cheetah center in South Africa, which has just launched a nationwide census to find the number of the endangered big cats living wild in South Africa. Using radio collars, cameras, aircraft and DNA testing, the survey is the first comprehensive study of any country's population, says Ann van Dyk, who started the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust 32 years ago. The De Wildt is the only approved cheetah breeding center in the world. The census is expected to take between five and eight years to complete.
Photo by Juda Ngwenya
'Ark of Darkness'
"The Ark of Darkness", a Political/Science-Fiction work, in tidy, weekly installments (and updated every Friday).
'The Osbournes' ~ Page 4
'The Osbournes' ~ Page 3
'The Osbournes' ~ Page 2
'The Osbournes' ~ Page 1