Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Box of Crayons

Once upon a time, there was a box of crayons.

All the crayons in the crayon box were segregated by their colors, but each section was really good friends. The blues got along with the greens, the reds loved the yellows and pinks and oranges, the grays and whites were all great pals, and the browns and blacks got along famously.

Then one day, the box of crayons was taken off its shelf and opened. All the crayons spilled all over the floor and the colors mixed together. The browns were squeezing with the greens, the blues got cozy with the yellows, and the reds and blacks chatted it up.

One green crayon and one pink crayon really connected. They talked and cuddled and laughed the time away. But then it came time for all the crayons to be rounded up and put away. Each crayon was placed back in its own section and of course, the pink and green crayon were very sad that they had to be separated so soon.

They promised to keep in touch but it was hard. They were each at the farthest corners in their little sections but somehow, they managed to stay wonderful friends. Every so often, they would even be able to get together when the crayons were spilled all over the floor or table or carpet. They learned that distance is no excuse for letting a relationship fall apart.

One day, after being spilled all over the floor, the crayons were not put back in their usual organized fashion. The pink crayon and the green crayon were overjoyed when they realized they were next to each other. And so they lived happily ever after.

Author's note: This is not to be taken too seriously. I wrote it in about ten minutes a few years ago and I just thought I would try to keep up with the short story theme for this week. Hopefully I'll have another one for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The view from my window.

In order to avoid ranting about my depressing feelings and mood swings, I'm just going to leave you with a series of pictures, all taken from my bedroom window, over a period of...maybe a year? I think that sounds about right.

Monday, April 18, 2011

All was well.

Due to a lack of time because I need to do homework and study (I hate the end of the semester; there's so much to do), I'm just going to post an essay I wrote about Harry Potter. I've mentioned before how much I love and adore and obsess over this series, and I wanted to share this. It was supposed to be a literary journalism/cultural critique piece, and I think my essay turned out pretty well. So enjoy.

My Letter From Hogwarts Is Just Late

Some people might think this is weird or claim that I’m just making these details up, but there are some nights that I just don’t forget.
            Six years ago, on July 15th, around 10:30 pm, I was standing outside a bookstore in Maine with my dad. I was fourteen years old and we were on vacation.
            A day or two before we’d learned about this midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I’d convinced my dad to take me even though we had to be up early in the morning to drive home. I needed to have this book—mostly because I wanted something to read during the car ride home but also because it was Harry Potter, and Harry Potter was important. To me, anyway.
            I nodded my head slightly for each person in line, counting silently in my head. I was thirteenth in line. I clutched my small Dobby doll in my hands, adjusting his movable ears so they stood straight.
            The doors to the small bookstore opened at 11:00 pm sharp and the enthusiastic crowd was let in for Harry Potter themed games and trivia questions and socializing. I met a Rita Skeeter, a human sized Dobby, and numerous clones of Ron, Hermione, and Harry himself.
            It was my first experience being with other people who were just as obsessed with Harry Potter, counting down the minutes until the book was released and we could hold it in our hands.

I wonder if J.K. Rowling (Joanne Kathleen) ever thought that one day her book about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard would ever become as big as it has. She started out destitute, with no job and a child to feed; a mere five years later, Forbes magazine estimated her worth at one billion dollars.
            Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by twelve publishing companies before someone took a chance on it; it was published in June of 1997. I’m sure that investment has paid off, considering Harry Potter is now a global brand worth about 15 billion dollars. The final four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United States and the United Kingdom. The previous one, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, had sold 9 million copies in its first 24 hours.
            The rights to the films were purchased in 1998, and the first one was released in November of 2001. The film series is the highest grossing film series of all time, with over 6 billion dollars in receipts. The series won the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the 2011 British Academy Film Awards.
            Now, ten years after the first film was released, and fourteen years after the first book was published, as we slowly approach the release date for the second half of the final film, I’m starting to wonder what will become of us obsessed fans when we have nothing to look forward to anymore. Will it still be a huge part of my life? Or will I, as well as others, put the books on the shelves and move on?
            For the past six years, Harry Potter has always been there for me. There was always another book, another film, another midnight release party or midnight premiere to go to. There was always something to discuss, whether it be what we thought would happen in the final book, or what we thought the films would take out or add or change.
            Harry Potter has brought together so many people, it’s hard to imagine it ever ending. From Harry Potter fanfiction to Harry Potter themed Tumblr blogs, from all the different conventions to the theme park in Florida, from a small community on YouTube to wizard rock (wrock) festivals, Harry Potter has always been there.
            Hogwarts has been my escape from reality, a fictitious home for me to return to whenever I wanted. I’ve never wanted anything else to be real as much as I wanted Hogwarts and Harry and Hermione and Ron and the Weasleys to be real.
            I know so many people whose lives have been changed by Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One. Harry Potter isn’t just a book series, or a film series. It is a cultural phenomenon that has brought people from all over the world together.
            And in my opinion, Harry Potter will never really end.

Two years after my first book release party, I went to attend my second, and final, one. I’d been preparing for weeks, counting down the days and rereading the first six books. I spent the days leading up to July 20, 2007 reading about preparations for the release.
            People in London had started lining up two days before the 20th to ensure that they would be among the first to buy the book. Less insane fans started lining up at 7:30 am on the 20th, dressed as their favorite characters and counting down the hours.
            As for myself, at 6:00 pm that afternoon, I’d gone over to the Barnes and Noble where I would be later that night to reserve two copies of the book and purchase a gold wristband that designated me as one of the first hundred people that would get their books.
            Upon arriving at the bookstore, around 9:30 pm, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. There were so many people milling around. Some were sitting in the hallway outside the store, others were reading other books; meanwhile, there was a whole line up of Harry Potter activities going on upstairs.
            Bookstores across the country had been preparing for this night, as it was sure to be their biggest party of the year. In New York, for example, booksellers prepared by putting finishing touches on cauldrons, replicas of Diagon Alley, and Harry Potter themed snacks and drinks, like butterbeer.
            11:59 pm. A countdown had begun. It was like New Year’s had struck; when the clock turned twelve, cheers filled the store. Books were purchased and taken away by happy customers; I was the thirteenth person in my line. I got my two reserved copies and escaped the madness that was Barnes and Noble on midnight, July 21, 2007.
            On the way to the car, my dad and I passed people who had already cracked open the pages, beginning the final installment. I saw people who’d already flipped to the end to see what happened. I clutched my book tight to my chest the whole ride home.
            This was the last time I would ever read a Harry Potter book for the first time.

What’s great about Harry Potter gatherings is that there is never any shortage of things to talk about. Sometimes all it takes is just one little thing to turn it into something bigger.
            Between the releases of the sixth and seventh movies, one of my best friends sent me a link to a song called “Lumos Flies,” a Harry Potter parody of the Owl City song, “Fireflies.” From there, I became so involved in the online Harry Potter community, it was like I lived and breathed Harry Potter.
            And there wasn’t just one YouTube channel that started and continued because of Harry Potter. There were dozens and dozens of them. One channel I started following extensively was the one called fiveawesomegirls. It was a collab channel with five girls who had become friends because of Harry Potter. A few of them hadn’t even met in person when they started this channel, with each girl making a video every weekday.
            From there, I discovered wizard rock bands like the Ministry of Magic, The Whomping Willows, The Parselmouths, and Diagon Alley.
            In November of 2010, my friend and I went to the New York City Wizard Rock Festival in Brooklyn, where we danced all night to songs that were inspired by the Harry Potter series.
            Things like wizard rock are what have really launched people into the eye of the community. Kristina Horner, for example, who has a YouTube channel that I subscribe to, is one of these people. She got her start with writing Harry Potter fanfiction, then moved onto making videos on YouTube. She is a member of the previously mentioned fiveawesomegirls channel, and a singer in the band the Parselmouths. They sing songs from the point of view of two Slytherin girls.
            Because of this series, she gets to travel around the country going to Harry Potter conventions and speaking at them. Without Harry Potter, her life would be vastly different.

Three years after the final book had been released, setting records in book sales, the final film opened in theaters. The midnight premiere drew in approximately $24 million in about 3,700 locations. The previous film, the Half-Blood Prince, opened at midnight with sales of $22.2 million, at 3,003 locations. Despite the fact that the series had come to a close, the phenomenon that is Harry Potter hadn’t died down a bit.
            It was 7:00 pm when my friend and I arrived at the movie theater for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One. We weren’t the first ones there, though we were among the first dozen to arrive.
            We picked some good seats and for the next five hours played Harry Potter themed hangman; I played Harry Potter Lego (Years 1-4) on my DS; we watched as more and more people filed into the theater.
            As each hour chimed, someone would announce how much time was remaining. To pass the time, people played charades, passed out homemade versions of The Quibbler, Luna Lovegood’s father’s quirky magazine, and chased around a human Golden Snitch.
            The previews began and people continued to talk excitedly over them, booing Twilight as it came on the screen. When they ended and the theater went completely dark, a hush fell over the crowd like a blanket.
            The end had begun.

But will there ever really be an end?
            The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has opened in Orlando, Florida, where you can drink butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks, buy a wand that chooses you, go to Zonko’s and Honeydukes, and ride through Hogwarts.
            It is the closest people will ever come to Hogwarts besides traveling to Europe and seeking out the castles where Hogwarts scenes were filmed, and people are flocking to the theme park. It’s received good reviews and was well received by Harry Potter fans and non-fans alike. The grand opening for the cast and crew of the films, J.K. Rowling, and the media took place on June 16, 2010; it opened for the general public two days later.
            While I haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet, people I follow on YouTube and a few of my friends have been there. Their tales of how amazing and detailed and accurate it was to the books only make me want to go more. I’ve spent so much time wishing Hogwarts was real and that I could be there, surrounded by the magic and the people, that I can’t imagine what it will be like walking through the gates and seeing Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts Express, and the castle of Hogwarts standing before my eyes.
            Not to mention the numerous Harry Potter conventions and festivals that take place all over the country and throughout the year. Just recently, the Miami Yule Ball was held in Miami, Florida. LeakyCon will be held in July in Orlando, just in time for the midnight premiere of the second half of Deathly Hallows. LeakyCon is a charity conference that had its first year in 2009, in Boston, with only about 740 attendees. The next year, that number jumped over a thousand, and for 2011, that number has only increased even more.
            It’s not the only charitable event that revolves around Harry Potter; for the past four years, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) has been working to inspire people around the world to get involved in social issues the world faces. Some of their successes include raising funds for thousands of women and children in Darfur and Myanmar (Burma), as well as collecting and donating thousands of books for a youth village in Rwanda.
            I think the greatest thing about Harry Potter is that it isn’t just a popular series; it uses its popularity for good. Because of all the people that love and adore Harry, they can do something great for the world. In 2010, the HPA and other communities raised over $123,000 for the Haitian people through Partners in Health.
            Will all these things come to an end when the films finally come to a close? It’s hard to imagine them stopping after fourteen years of fandom.
            The days are ticking away to the end of what truly is a cultural phenomenon. But as Stephen King said, “I think Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo, and Dorothy and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages.”
            Harry Potter has made the world a smaller place, bringing people together from unlikely places and in unlikely ways. Things like that don’t just vanish into thin air.
            But no one can really tell what will happen. Sure, the fandom will continue, but the same obsessive air that surrounds it now will probably disperse a little. With nothing new to look forward to, the less obsessed may retreat from this thriving community.
            As for myself, I only know that once the credits start to roll in July, so will the tears. But I won’t be alone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Things that annoy me: Hockey edition.

As we all know by now, there are plenty of things that annoy me. Today, though, because it's a beautiful spring day and because the Rangers just beat the Flyers in a shootout to keep their playoff hopes very much alive, I'm going to address things that annoy me: the hockey edition.

"Sidney Crosby sucks. I hope he never plays in the NHL again."

For those who don't know, because not everyone I know is quite as obsessed with hockey as I am, Sidney Crosby is the young captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I'm what you would call a casual Penguins fan, and mostly because I adore Sidney Crosby, but they're my fallback team in case the Rangers don't make the playoffs.

Crosby has been out since January, having suffered from a severe concussion. A few weeks ago, my dad told me that it might be so bad that he actually might never play again, which, as a Crosby and a hockey fan, was disheartening to hear. And here comes the part that really pisses me off to the extreme end: when people say that they hope he never plays again and he sucks and he's a crybaby and whatever else their tiny little brains can think of.

Seriously? Can't we all, as hockey fans, embrace and respect the amount of talent that he has as a player? I'm sure if he played for whatever team you support, you'd be singing quite a different tune and praying for his swift recovery. But no. Instead, people have to narrow minded idiots who can't appreciate talented players on other teams.

I hate the Devils, but when Zach Parise was out with his concussion, I wasn't sitting around hoping he would never play again. He's a good player even though he plays for my least favorite team. I hate mindless idiots who can't even bring themselves to respect talent around the league.

Being a mindless idiot.

This just annoys me in general, mindless idiots, but when I heard about this story, I could do nothing more besides shake my head at the types of people that exist.

The Dallas Stars played the L.A. Kings last night, and the Kings won 3-1. I'm pretty neutral about Western Conference games, since, well, I live on the East Coast, and it's a lot easier to get access to Eastern Conference games, but I'm not even talking about the win.

Apparently after the game, a Kings fan was beaten close to death by a bunch of Stars fans. It could've been the other way around because I'm honestly not really sure and I can't find a story about this.

But the point is, why can't someone support their team without having to be afraid of getting beaten up by others? I mean, really, I don't think I can stress enough that people should be fans of hockey in general as well as being fans of their team. There really is no cause for an innocent fan to be beaten to a pulp in the parking lot after the game.

EDIT: That actually happened at a DODGERS game. Different sport, same story.

Pretending to know everything about hockey.

When I go to Rangers game, this is what annoys me the most. I'll be sitting there enjoying the game, and some idiots behind me will be talking very loudly about the game, thinking that they sound so smart when they actually just sound like pretentious imbeciles.

When the Rangers are on the powerplay, for example, more often than not, most people will be screaming, "SHOOT IT SHOOT THE PUCK SHOOT IT NOW WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING SHOOT IT." Um, hey, open your eyes, THE PLAYER ISN'T EVEN IN THE ZONE YOU FUCKING DIPSHIT.

Or, hey, look, someone on the opposing team IS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. That means THERE IS NO SHOOTING LANE. Do you want them to shoot it and have it blocked by the other player? That can result in the puck leaving the offensive zone and a potential odd man rush.

Something else is when the Rangers (or any team) pass the puck back to their defense. "HEY IDIOTS YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY," is a common phrase I hear when that happens. But sometimes, mindless-people-shouting, you have to go back in order to go forwards. If you just charge senselessly ahead without giving everyone on the ice time to prepare and organize themselves so perhaps a play can be run, usually nothing good will result. It takes patience, sometimes.

So just shut up, sit down, and watch the game. If you think you can do better, then get your skates and equipment on and prove it.

"The New York Rangers suck."

I'm sure I could say the same thing about your team. Get outta here before I rip you a new one.

The Philadelphia Flyers.

Suck it, Flyers. You might have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but everyone still hates you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nostalgic for those days of past.

On the way down to my grandma's house today, driving along the all too familiar Garden State Parkway, sitting in the backseat for once, I was staring out the window, gazing at the clouds, thinking about what a nice picture it would make, if only I wasn't too lazy to pull my camera out.

The clouds were just the right amount of puffy, mixing white and gray, seeming to be at a standstill. I have this fascination with taking pictures of clouds because looking at them, it makes me imagine a world of possibilities. The sky seems endless, timeless. It just goes on forever, stretching across a land of opportunities and dreams for me to chase.

Then I return to reality, where I'm sitting in the backseat of the car, my parents in the front and my cousin next to me, and my brother in the third row. It's like a small home, where I can feel completely comfortable and at ease. It makes me think of late nights, driving home from wherever, and just watching the lights pass by the window, gradually easing into a slumber, feeling safe and protected, as long as my parents are up in the front, driving to our destination.

Sometimes I feel like I'm slowly losing that comforting feeling, the older I get. The older I get, the less we take family trips, the less time I spend at home, and the more time I spend doing things that require me to step outside of my comfort zone. I wish things could remain easy forever, and I didn't ever have to grow up and be responsible for myself. I wish I could return to the days of childhood when the days seemed endless and going inside at the end of the night was the worst thing ever; when the ground was lava and going to Dunkin' Donuts on our own seemed like the coolest thing ever; when naptime was acceptable.

Oh, nostalgia. I yearn for those days more than ever now that I'm facing the years of my 20s. But for someone who wants a lot out of life, I need to spend less time looking back and more time racing forward. But I think it's okay for everyone, every once in a while, to remember, cherish, and wish for their childhood.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Happy April, all. Because I have tons of free time on my hands, have no other obligations, and can't imagine myself doing anything more interesting, I'm going to attempt to do BEDA. I say "attempt" because I've never succeeded before, but there's a first time for everything.

By the way, for those who are wondering:

"tons of free time on my hands" = I have none.

"no other obligations" = I have school and hockey; they take up a lot of time in my life.

"anything more interesting" = Well, this is mostly true; but I just want to challenge myself.

Since I have nothing better to talk about, I'll just fill you in on all the interesting things I'm doing this month, so if I do end up failing at BEDA, then, well, at least I put my excuses out there at the beginning.

This weekend (the 2nd), I'm going down to my grandma's house near Point Pleasant. We're gathering to celebrate my birthday, my aunt's birthday, and my uncle's birthday.

Next weekend (starting Thursday, the 7th, through the 10th), I'm actually going to be busy. On the 7th, I register for classes for fall semester, then I'm driving down to Stockton with my friend Paul. On the 8th, we'll be hanging out there all day, so I'm not really sure how I'll get a blog done that day, but I'll figure something out. That night, we're celebrating Jessica's friend's birthday, so that should be fun. On the 9th, I'm driving home early in the morning (I have to be leaving Stockton by 7:30 at the latest), so I can go to the Rangers game that's at 12:30 with my dad and my brother; it's their last home game against the Devils. Then, on Sunday, it's officially the start of spring hockey season! I have my first game that night.

Then, April 29th, 30th, and May 1st, is BAMBOOZLE 2011. It's one of the highlights of my year; this'll be the fifth year I'm going. I almost just go for the sake of going now, for hanging out and just being around a ton of people who have all gathered for one thing: a love of music and going crazy. But this year I'm actually excited to see a few bands, so I'm pretty pumped for that weekend.

So yeah, those are my plans for this month. As of yet, I don't have anything else exciting lined up, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Currently Reading: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S. Lewis)