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Tag Archive: Harry Potter

Mar 04

Suddenly, curling is cool—the unlikely winner of the Winter Olympics

It is the first week of the month of March, and I should be paying bills, writing thank you notes and attempting to sweep the winter street sand out of the garage. Instead, what am I doing?

Reading about curling and still reveling in this riveting Olympic sport.

Yes, curling, the unlikely breakout sport of the Winter Olympics.

I can’t help myself. Curling is cool.

Read what Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports wrote:

“Six thousand fans packed the suburban curling venue here (Vancouver) for three sessions a day. Ticket brokers worked the sidewalks with marked-up prices. Beer flowed liberally inside. Fans rang cowbells and sang songs. Both the men and the women were hailed for their sex appeal. It was wild…”

Wetzel continued his praise, calling the sport itself a winner in the games, “This isn’t your father’s curling anymore. The sport received wall-to-wall television coverage in Canada, the U.S., and China…Long mocked as shuffleboard on ice, curling suddenly was cool.”

Wall-to-wall coverage? Absolutely. It seemed every time I turned on the television during daytime hours, curling was there. Curling reeled me in and hooked me before I knew what happened.

I admit that at first I did not understand why the “curler” (the one who sends the blue-hone granite stone gliding down the course) was shouting and bellowing “harder, harder, harder”.

Are those brooms I see out there on the ice, I wondered? Are the “sweepers” actually sweeping the ice with them?

Curling lingo sounded very Harry Potterish to me.

And yes, I heard the joke that women are better at curling than men because a player has to use a broom and yell at each another in a loud, bossy voice.

Ladies, ignore that.

On to the strategy of the game.

Suddenly an epiphany occurred. I saw the subtlety of the game and felt its intensity, realizing that somehow the curler must send the stone impossibly on a curved path and make it slowly rotate as it slides.

Sweepers, scurrying ahead of the stone, must make the ice perfectly smooth in front of it so the big blue rock will follow that exact path to the “house”, the target.

You can see why this curling terminology is as colorful as the game itself using terms such as skips, vice skips, hog lines and hacks.

On the lighter side and in the category of “I wish I said this” are some favorite curling terms as carefully explained online by the notable Potomac Curling Club. I added a few asides of my own.
Vice skip: the player who delivers the teams fifth and sixth rocks. So if the number two player delivers the last shot, does the second curler in the lineup spin the rock third?
Tough shot – Anything the Skip (head who-ha curler) misses.
Crap shot – Anything you miss. Always pilot error, isn’t it?
Blanked end – Nobody had draw (where the stone lands) and weight (force applied). I have no idea what this means.
Bury – What you do with your head when you hog your rock in the eighth end. Oh man, I’d hang my head, too, if I hogged my rock.
Double – What you order at the bar when you lose.
Draw weight – Once again, darned if I know.
Inside note to curling fans that are impatient for the next Olympics. The USA Curling National Championship is happening now–March 6 to 13 in the Wings Stadium at Kalamazoo, Michigan.
It’s a “spiel”, and this time I know what that means.

Nov 19

Grandparents may need a primer in Harry Potter-speak!

You might think that the Harry Potter craze has died down, but think again, grandparents. The next installment of the movie sequence is here just in time for Christmas, and the final book in the series of seven is being written as we speak.

Time to learn the Potter language if you haven’t already.

From the moment the ink dried on the first Potter book, I “jumped on the bandwagon” and became an adoring fan of J.K. Rowling and her magical story of young Harry Potter and his battle between good versus evil.

Not so fast you say.

Some folks think it’s the other way around, and that evil lurks in the pages of these immense and robust novels.

Au contraire!

I submit there are lots of reasons to the contrary, but before I bore you with those and rave about the joys of reading Harry Potter books, I had better get such an objection addressed up front.

After all, some parents and grandparents may need some assurance that it’s OK to read these books.  So, I set out to find those answers for the skeptical.

Certainly, one can find evil in the Rowling books, but, through creativity, trust, faith, and sheer determination, Harry Potter overcomes the demons that beset him. What better a story is there anywhere for young minds to “sop up”, as Rowling might say.

Helping Harry with his noble quest is his amazing arsenal of magical tools and gadgets. We Boomers know this is not unlike the technology we have today that appears to many of us to be pure magic and totally incomprehensible, ie.remotes, computers, satellites, cell phones, and GPS.

Then, your next question that may come to mind is a natural one.

Is Harry careful to use his magic (technology) for good, or can he be corrupted by it instead and lured to the “dark side”, or in wizard-speak, to “the one-who-must-not-be named?”

Your young readers may need some explanation, Boomers, as to why Harry must be careful what he does with his magic. Our young, as we well know, must be just as careful with the power of the technology at their disposal, such as internet and cell phones!

Need I explain further?

Anyone who reads Potter books knows that wizards are not allowed to perform magic in front of “Muggles” (ordinary people with no magical skill or powers).  Using magic (or, if you will, technology) unwisely can cause irreparable damage to others, and Harry finds that out, quite soon in his young wizarding life.

A wonderful book, The Science of Harry Potter, addresses the magic of Harry Potter’s world and compares it to the technology of ours. Author, Roger Highfield, writes an insightful guide to the Harry Potter books by showing us a link between Potter’s magic and science. Highfield explains that what we find strange and magical in the Potter books can actually be explained by science.

I enjoy what Highfield says when he writes, “I love the Harry Potter books, but maybe not for all the same reasons that you do. For me enchantment, spell, curse, and other act of sorcery in J. K. Rowling’s wonderful creation seems to throw down a challenge to modern science…Surely  brain scientists would reject the idea of a hat that can read thoughts? Beans of any and every imaginable flavor? Sounds unlikely, as do flying broomsticks, the candles that hover in Hogwarts (school of wizardry and witchcraft), and the Weasley’s gravity-defying Ford… Surely magic of this sort can’t be reconciled with the rational laws of science?”

Or can it? Author Highfield does just that, in my humble opinion, and, therefore, I highly recommend his book to you in order to satisfy your own curiosity.

One of my great concerns, as I grow older, is how younger generations have lost the habit of reading for pleasure, and thus, do not experience its joys.

Perhaps, nothing else has gone so far to correct that problem as has the mysterious and thrilling J. K. Rowling novels. I, personally, have witnessed several young people discover how to read for fun, just by becoming absorbed in Harry Potter novels.

James F. Sennett, a professor at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian College and Seminary, wrote an interesting piece that goes a long way, in my mind, toward putting any concerns about the Potter books to rest.  Sennett wrote a piece for the Christian Standard entitled, “Thank God for Harry Potter.”

He discussed how Harry and his friends confront many of the same problems that youth today face, such as bullies, cheating, homework, and the angst of developing adolescence.  Sennett tells us that even though the characters age throughout the books, the clear message of morality and the exceptional literary quality of the books does not change. Sennett says, “…the books are exciting, educational, wholesome, and just plain fun. And none of these virtues can be taken for granted in today’s world or today’s church.”

Get ready, then, for more Harry Potter, controversial as it may be, because the Potter story is far from over.

 One thing is certain; J. K. Rowling gets us reading, if for nothing else than to keep up with the kiddos, and as Mark Twain once observed, “Those who do not read have no advantage over those who can’t.”