I still don’t like running

halfmarathon

I did it! It happened! I completed a 13.1-mile race, and I got a medal to prove it!

I survived my first 1/2 marathon, but I haven’t been bitten by the running bug. I do have a greater appreciation for those who can do this in half the time it took me to finish (3 hours 26 minutes), and I have come away with a better understanding of my running style. However, running is not the first thing I’d do for fun. I prefer walks – slow ones, where you can marvel about your surroundings, or your walking companion(s).

Now that I am free of pain I might do it again, as long as it’s another fun run and I am not expected to finish the course in less than 3 hours. I will most certainly train better next time.

diagonally

While the run was the focus of the weekend, I have to spend a few lines reflecting on the near-perfection of Diagon Alley.

I loved that it was hidden away, behind an unassuming building. I loved the fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts! I absolutely enjoyed the new ride. I still love Frozen Butterbeer and Fizzing Whizbees. But most of all, I loved the use of interactive wands to bring a splash of wonder to the park experience. Great job, Universal! Not only do you have more people buying wands, you also added a layer of interactivity to the park. If only there were more sections!

Next stop, Universal Hollywood!

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Potted Potter: 7 Books in 70 Minutes

Take two guys, seven books, seventy minutes and an assorted array of props and you have Potted Potter! This is a show that Harry Potter fans will truly enjoy.

Dan and Jeff take the audience on a hilarious ride from Platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts as they fearlessly battle dragons, Slytherins and You-Know-Who. There’s a bit of crowd participation with a rousing game of Quidditch and tons of opportunities for laughter. There was hardly a time that I wasn’t laughing!

The one and only issue I had with this show was the closing number – there were times when I couldn’t understand what they were singing, I’m not sure if this had to do with the audio in the theater or the fact that they were singing really quickly and I just couldn’t make out the words, either way, it would have been great to hear all the words of the song! Since this was the very end it felt a bit anti-climactic, which was sad because I thought the rest of the show was hilarious!

Overall, it was a fun experience. I don’t think they are playing in New York anymore, but if you do get the opportunity to see the show in another state/place, it’s definitely a show to watch.

Window Shopping on Think Geek

One of my favourite geeky stores is Think Geek. They carry a lot of cute things… this post highlights some of my favourites.

I have mono! I need bookworm and the common cold to complete my cute little microbes collection.

I have the Sonic Screwdriver pen (which has two inks! Just like the Doctor has two hearts). I’m also loving the journal and mini screwdriver pen and the Keep Clam products – especially the “Dont Blink” one. Weeping Angels episodes anyone?

They also have Harry Potter things, like this Tom Riddle diary with wand pen. I’ve also got my eyes on the Gryffindor long sleeve t-shirt (even though I got sorted into Ravenclaw).

They also have some very cool jewelry. Steampunk, vintage, some really fun stuff.

Think Geek is the place I love to geek out in. I’m sure if they had a physical store I’d probably be there just as much as I’d be in the bookstores. =)

Pottermore: Thoughts and Recommendations

In late September, I received my letter email inviting me to sign into Pottermore. After a bit of excitement, confetti and general happy making, I sign in, for the first time, to the newest Harry Potter experience.

Pottermore choses a username for you, so I’m AsphodelPurple124 (find me; friend me) and then it takes you on an adventure through the first book in the series. Each chapter contains several sections with hidden messages, items and exclusive content from J. K. Rowling.

I love the graphics and what they did with the site. However, I’m hoping when they come out of beta there will be, well, more! I love the chapter explorations, but it would be nice if they implemented little mini-games, or more background on the characters. I was under the impression that JKR had a ton of background information on characters that never made it into the books. Short stories and such will add a lot more to the experience.

You get to walk through Diagon Alley where you can get money from Gringotts and shop in some of the shops. It’s a lot of fun, until you realize that you can only buy from three or so store. Even if you couldn’t buy, it would be nice to walk through other stores.

In Diagon Alley you can go to Ollivanders to get your wand. But remember, it’s the wand that choses the wizard, so you can’t choose your own wand, but you will get to answer a few questions.

J. K. Rowling offered some descriptions of the wands; you can break down the different attributes to different personality traits that are fun to read. For example, my wand breaks down to:

Alder …

Alder is an unyielding wood, yet I have discovered that its ideal owner is not stubborn or obstinate, but often helpful, considerate and most likeable. Whereas most wand woods seek similarity in the characters of those they will best serve, alder is unusual in that it seems to desire a nature that is, if not precisely opposite to its own, then certainly of a markedly different type. When an alder wand is happily placed, it becomes a magnificent, loyal helpmate. Of all wand types, alder is best suited to non-verbal spell work, whence comes its reputation for being suitable only for the most advanced witches and wizards.

Unicorn Core …

Unicorn hair generally produces the most consistent magic, and is least subject to fluctuations and blockages. Wands with unicorn cores are generally the most difficult to turn to the Dark Arts. They are the most faithful of all wands, and usually remain strongly attached to their first owner, irrespective of whether he or she was an accomplished witch or wizard.

Minor disadvantages of unicorn hair are that they do not make the most powerful wands (although the wand wood may compensate) and that they are prone to melancholy if seriously mishandled, meaning that the hair may ‘die’ and need replacing.

After purchasing your school things and boarding the Hogwarts Express, in chapter seven you get sorted with the rest of the first years. I got sorted into Ravenclaw!

While I’ve always claimed that I’m a Gryffindor, I knew that I had more Ravenclaw-ish traits than Griffindor, so, I don’t mind. The sorting is a bit of a personality test, giving you a number of multiple choice questions and placing you into the house depending on your answer – or that’s what I think. It could also be randomly selecting since all the houses seemed to have an even number of members.

After being sorted, you gain house points as you collect items from each of the chapters. Currently, only the first book is available, but I’m curious to see what the other books will look like.

There are other things that you can do around the site, brew potions, cast spells (though, this seems a bit spotty at the moment) and duel – which, was not working when I last played. I’d like to see how they will publish the ebooks; since Sony is hosting the site, I’m hoping they don’t do sell it in Sony-only format. That would be upsetting.

I’m looking forward to seeing the site outside of it’s Beta form.

[all images are screenshots of Pottermore]

Harry Potter: The Exhibit

As a Harry Potter fan, I had to go to the exhibit on its last American leg of the tour – Discovery Time Square. So, Anna and I set out to see the exhibit. It was a lot of fun!

While I’m a Harry Potter fan, I am not necessarily a fan of the movies. Movie 6 really disappointed me and I thought that 5 and 2 could have been done … well .. differently. Of course, they did the best they could with the story. The books are rich with imagery, so I didn’t expect them to take everything and regurgitate it on film, but some of the things that were cut or changed, it made me cringe.

  

That aside, one of my favourite things about the movies was the world they created. From the Yule Ball costumes – I thought Ginny’s was cute in the movie – to the Death Eater’s costume, to the horn-tail dragon model and different parts of the set – including Hagrid’s hut – there was so much to see and take in.

The Exhibit: Hagrid's Hut (via antenna mag)

Hagrid’s Hut featured a chair that you could sit in, it was rather large. I felt like a child sitting in it.

The Exhibit: Gryffindor's Dorm (via antenna mag)

I especially love the details in the Gryffindor dorm rooms, the bed hangings that were found – by chance – in a fabric store, that turned out to be perfect for the set.

The Exhibit: Marauder's Map (via nycsinglemom)

The work that went into making these sets, especially the items on the set, is amazing. However, the best prop – in my opinion – was the Marauder’s Map!

  

They didn’t have costumes from the wedding scene, but Fleur’s dress is awe-inspiring! I wish they had it in the exhibit.

Hogwarts Express (via NYT)

Overall it was a ton of fun! It made me excited for my trip to Hogwarts at the end of September. I only wished there was a Hogwarts Express to Universal.

If you missed the exhibit you can check out this New York Times slideshow of some of the pieces.

Steampunk, Etsy and Me

I blame Scott Westerfeld, and perhaps Tim Burton. My love for things “steampunk” comes from their influence. In the fall or 2009, after reading Leviathan, I hopped on Etsy and searched for steampunk jewelry, I was looking for necklaces and happened across this gem from School of Charm.

What captured my eye was the quote they had in the description:

“Nerves and butterflies are fine –
they’re a physical sign
that you’re mentally ready and eager.

You have to get the butterflies
to fly in formation,
that’s the trick.”
— Steve Bull

It was my first Etsy piece and my first steampunk piece. I loved it! After that, I read Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel and she was promoting an Etsy store – hebelmet – which sells jewelry based on her books. There I got my second piece of steampunk jewelry, another necklace. Clockwork Wings.

And now I have another piece, this time from Umbrella Laboratory, not necessarily steampunk, but it is a clock in a snitch – a Golden Snitch! A snitch in time?

Isn’t it pretty? I can’t wait to get it! =) Harry Potter + Steampunk + Necklaces?

Geek Out!