Notes on Seeing the Latest Harry Potter Movie

Will and Annette and I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie this afternoon. Here are some of my thoughts on the whole experience:

  • We got Will out of school a bit early, mainly because it is like a 3 hour movie and we wanted to be able to watch it and get home before it was way way past dinner.
  • We settled in, into kind of the front row as you enter the theater. It’s not the absolute front row, but it was maybe the fifth or so row, and it was also very near the enterance to the theater.
  • Just as the previews commercials that I didn’t pay to see were starting, a group of older folks who seemed determined to talk through the entire feature and who also seemed hard of hearing sat down to our right. Annette and Will, who were sitting to my immediate right, moved over to my immediate left.
  • Then, about a minute or so into the feature itself, a man and his two children sat down to our (and specifically, Annette’s) left. And I mean right on her left, like a seat away, and it’s worth pointing out that while the theater was crowded, it was far from packed. These people could have sat in many other places. Then this guy then starts explaining the movie to one of his kids, saying stuff like “Okay, now all these people are wizards. Oh, and this game quidditch is sort of like soccer but they play it on brooms.” Annette, not a person to suffer fools in a movie theater, leaned over and said “shhh!” His response was “No.” Annette said “What?” He said “I’m not going to be quiet. This isn’t your house.” Annette said “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said “My son is hearing-impaired so I need to explain things to him.”

    Now, let me point out that I didn’t hear any of this, but I could tell that there was some kind of commotion going on over there. Annette gave me the very brief version of what was going on and I knew immediately that this wasn’t going to work. I started gathering the coats hastily and said “Let’s move,” and we did.

    As we walked by Mr. Talker and his “hearing-impaired” son (I’ll get to that later), I said, quite sarcastically of course, “Thank you.” You know, a “THANK you!” kind of thing. Mr. Talker’s loud and somewhat sincere response was “Asshole!” Whatever. We retreated to seats a few rows behind.

  • I liked the movie, I think quite a bit. It was a bit problematic for me though because I have only managed to read about 200 pages fo the 700+ page book, and the movie got through this material in literally the first 10 minutes. But I was able to follow what was going on and I thought it was pretty well done.
  • It is a pretty scary movie, and one of my former students/friends sent me an email last week saying that he thought it was too scary for a kid Will’s age. I emailed back and told him (and I’m not really proud of this) that Will has what strikes me as an unusually high tolerance for violence and such on the screen. And it does turn out he was fine. When I asked Will after the movie if he thought it was too scary, he just scoffed at me.
  • It turns out that in our huff to leave our previous seats, I had left Will’s mittens and stocking cap behind. So, as the credits were rolling and Mr. Talker et al were watching them, we walked by to look for them. To Mr. Talker’s credit, he apologized to us profusely for his earlier behavior, explaining that he too didn’t like it when people talked at the movies, he was embarassed for his past behavior, etc., etc. We small-talked a bit about the movie (Mr. Talker liked it too), and then he explained that his son was actually not hearing-impaired but he had ADD and Mr. Talker thought he’d have to explain everything to his son. Which, for me, prompted a big ol’ “Huh?!?!?!?!” in my head.
  • Annette clearly had mixed feelings about the flick, largely based on the many things that were left out of the 700+ page book, and also (IMO) largely based on her extensive knowledge and scholarship on the whole Harry Potter series. It wasn’t quite like this, but it was a bit like her saying “And that whole deal that was on page 373? That’s not there at all!! Can you believe that?! Jeesh!” Well, like I said, I need to finish reading the book first.

Like I said, other than some weirdness, a good movie. Worth checking out.

Will’s and my Lunch Boxes do not Contain Lead; Does Yours?

While at school the other day, a colleague of mine noticed the vinyl Spiderman lunch box I was carrying. And yes, that is my lunch box; Will’s has a Yu Gi Oh! theme to it. Anyway, this colleague of mine said “You know, a lot of these soft-sided lunch boxes contain lead.”


“Yeah, they passed around a notice at the EMU Children’s Institute,” where said colleague’s children attend pre-school.

To get to the point: according to studies done by the Center for Environmental Health, there are some soft-sided lunchboxes out there that contain way too much lead. Furthermore, according to, this is not a hoax.

Now, as even the Center for Environmental Health web site makes clear, it’s not like the lead-containing lunch boxes are as dangerous to kids as eating or inhaling paint particles or something. Still, Will and I like to stay on a low-lead diet, so we swung by Home Depot and bought one of the lead testing kits suggested by the CEH web site. Happily, we are carrying around lunch boxes free of lead and made of pure vinyl/petrochemical plastic-like products.

Why would you want to give up coffee?! (Or, “you’re going to blog about that, aren’t you?”)

Annette and I stopped by the Food Whole on Thursday after a nice morning walk. I for one like to stop and get a cup of coffee, perhaps something for breakfast (depending on what I had eaten before the walk). This semester I teach on Thursday nights, so I also usually get a frozen dinner to heat up for a pre-class meal at school.

Anyway, whenever I go to Whole Foods, even if it is just for a cup of coffee, I always make the rounds of the store in order to enjoy the various samples. The way I figure it, if I’m going to be paying a premium on my groceries (and actually, the extent to which Whole Foods is “over priced” is debatable, I think), I might as well enjoy all the perks. I had made my way over to the coffee area after picking out a ginger scone (sorta like a breakfast but sorta like a dessert, I guess), and there was a sample station set up for some kind of coffee. “Hmm, I’ll try that,” I was thinking, and as I was fixing myself a tiny cup from the pump thermos, I read the description of what I was about to try and I began to second guess myself.

The product I had poured myself was “Teeccino®,” a caffeine-free herbal coffee. I picked up one of the brochures they had there about this stuff. Here’s a quote from it:

Teeccino® (tea-chee-no) is the first herbal coffee belnded from herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted, ground and brewed just like coffee. Dark, rich, and full-bodied, Teeccino® brings you all the satisfaction of a robust brew with no caffeine reaction. Teeccino® tastes mildely sweet from dates and figs, but only has 15 calories per cup! Teeccino® contains 65 mg of potassium to give your body a natural energy lift.

Worse yet, Teeccino® comes in a series of flavors, including “Java” (ah, coffee flavored caffeine-free herbal coffee?) and “original.” On sample that morning was Almond Amaretto. Now, to be fair to the Teeccino® people, I don’t like flavored “non-herbal” coffee, so my impressions of their product may be a bit skewed. Nonetheless, I came away thinking that Teeccino® tasted a) absolutely nothing like coffee and b) icky.

And I guess the problem I have is the basic premise of the product: why would you want to give up coffee? I mean, sure, maybe you want to cut down on caffine. But that’s what decaf is for. They’re trying to make a comparison between this stuff and “herbal tea,” but the basic difference seems to be that herbal tea tastes good while herbal coffee tastes bad.

BTW, after bitching about this crappy stuff to Annette, I picked up the brochure I am looking at right now. Annette sighed and said “You’re going to blog about that, aren’t you?”

Christians get in on the Halloween act with “Hell Houses”/I just want to get rid of the candy….

From a blog I read once in a while in my “official” blogging/teaching role comes this entry about conservative Christian churches sponsoring “Hell Houses.” Basically, some conservative Christian churches in places like South Carolina (where else?!) have been setting up these elaborate haunted houses –er, “Hell Houses” that are a lot like haunted houses in their churches. With one big difference:

Welcome to the creepiest stop in the afterlife — complete with real fire, demonic characters, a heavy metal soundtrack and unfortunate souls bound by clanking chains. In the knick of time, visitors are whisked away to a heavenly realm of redemption.

Under 15,000 feet of black plastic sheeting, the church has been transformed into a dark, twisting maze where visitors can witness scenes of death and destruction — from the living room of a Hurricane Katrina victim to the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq. Then, there’s the judgment scene where Christ invites Christians into heaven and banishes others to hell.

Personally, I think this is the kind of thing that is likely to backfire on these folks. Anyone who has ever read things like Pardise Lost or The Divine Comedy know that hell and the devil are the most interesting parts of the story.

Anyway, we’re all getting ready for the old-fashioned candy ‘n costumes sort of Halloween celebration around here tonight. This year’s celebration has been quite similar to last year’s: we went to a “Day of the Dead” party this past weekend, Will is wearing his knight costume again (check out the picture from last year to see what I mean), and I will be wearing my “This is my costume” T-shirt while passing out candy.

I want to be rid of all of this candy, too. Basically, when it comes to sneaking and eating candy, even though it really is pretty crappy candy all in all, I seemingly have no self-control. I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last two weeks just from tootsie rolls. Well, it needs to be outta here tonight, and Will will need to guard his candy haul carefully from me.

And I need to get back to the gym, too.

Why I (too frequently) hate going to the movies

Annette and Will and I went to see Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit on Friday for a late afternoon matinee. First off, it was a great movie– far from a “kiddie flick,” and anyone who has ever seen any of the other Wallace & Gromit shorts will love it. A lot of fun and worth seeing in the theater.

However, I am increasingly irritated about seeing movies in the theater. The expense and such is part of it, but I guess most of it is the people around me who seem to have no ideas about the basic rules of how to watch a movie in a public place. Like I said, we were there in the late afternoon. Among a few others, there was a large group of people behind us, and as far as we could tell, all of them had brought fistfulls of candy wrappers with them to the show. We heard a steady krinkle-krinkle-krinkle-krinkle, sort of like a grass fire.

And then, to make matters worse, there was a couple in their late 40s/early fifties sitting to my right who seemed to be in the theater not so much to see the movie but because they were looking for a place to sit to carry on other business. I mean, this woman was on her cell phone off and on, they were talking and talking about God knows what, and then, when they did notice that there actually was this movie going on, they would make loud and stupid proclaimations like “hey, LOOK at THAT!”

Idiots. And for the three of us, we paid around $30 for the pleasure of dealing with these kinds of people. This is why a really good big-screen TV/home theater seems like not only a good idea but ultimately cost-effective.

Bombadill’s makes the Eastern Echo

There’s a nice little write-up about Bombadill’s Coffee House in Ypsilanti in EMU’s student paper, the Eastern Echo.

I’m actually in Bombadill’s right now, certainly the best coffee shop in all of Ypsilanti and my choice of a coffee shop destination when:

  • I really have to get down to work instead of merely “hang out” and/or people watch;
  • When I need a reliable Internet connection and I don’t want to be at home (I say “reliable” because some of the coffee shops I go to in Ann Arbor have spotty at best WiFi and because if something doesn’t work here, I know the people behind the counter well enough to ask them to fix it);
  • I’m meeting someone from EMU for something (for example, I actually taught a class that met here in Winter 2005– a great idea); and/or
  • When I’m in the mood for the Chicken Chili (which, since today is Tuesday, ought to be on the menu for lunch).

But I still don’t have Ypsi in my veins the same way that Pete does.

Anyway, c’mon down and check the place out.

Robin Hood and deja vu

Annette and Will and I went to see The Adventures of Robin Hood tonight, part of the Michigan Theater summer movie program. We had seen the original (and silent) Peter Pan earlier this summer in the same series.

Robin Hood was the definition of “a hoot” in all kinds of fun and funny ways, but I had very much a “seen this before” sorta feeling. Only the 1938 film was the original, of course. While watching this, I just couldn’t stop thinking of Monty Python and The Holy Grail and the Food Network’s Iron Chef. Here’s why:

The connections between Robin Hood and Holy Grail are prehaps pretty obvious. There are all the fight scenes, including the ones where Robin takes out 100 guys with one arrow; the whole bit with people just getting shot with an arrow right out of the blue; fights where someone picks up a heavy-looking table clearly made out of cardboard and throws it at a group that instantly collapses under it. But then there’s other stuff too. For example, the outfits: all of the knights and other “bad guys” hanging around Prince John are all dressed like the knights in Holy Grail— or vice-versa, suppose. And then for some bizarre reason, Robin Hood has a minstrel (Will Scarlet– and hey, guess what? he dresses in red!) during the fight scene with Little John, not unlike Sir Robin in Holy Grail.

So, what’s the Iron Chef connection? First off, there is a lot of food in the movie. I mean, when these people aren’t fighting, they are eating and they are generally eating some animal hoof or whole bird just off of the fire. Second, Prince John (the chief bad buy played by Claude Rains) is dressed exactly like “the chairman” from the original Iron Chef, totally over the top with crazy colors and sequins and everything else. I can’t find any pictures on the web to prove my point, but believe me, if you’ve seen either either of these shows, you know what I’m talking about.

Slight photographic update:

Annette did a better job of researching pictures of Claude Rains than I did. Here are a couple of images from this web site:

Everyone has to have a cape in this movie….

three guys
That’s Claude as Prince John in the middle. This picture really doesn’t do this outfit justice because it includes black pants and shoes with weird silver accents everywhere. Very Iron Chef, IMO.

Adventures at the Food (w)Hole: “I know what that means!”

U of Okoboji

So, I was at Whole Foods yesterday afternoon to pick up a few things before heading home. While walking down an aisle, I saw someone who I vaguely recognized as also working at EMU. He made eye contact with me as if he were going to say something like “hey, don’t you work at EMU too?” But instead, as I got closer, he pointed at my chest and his face lit up. “I know what that means,” he said with glee, “and no one else here does.”

“That” was the T-shirt I was wearing, which was promoting the University of Okoboji. And I immediately knew what he meant. See, there is no “University of Okoboji;” it’s sort of an inside joke and a weird marketing scheme for the Spirit Lake/Okoboji area in northwest Iowa, the so-called “Iowa Great Lakes.” And really, I think it’s mainly a way for a store called The Three Sons to sell t-shirts and such.

Anyway, we had a nice “Iowa moment,” talking a bit about where we were from and all of that. This guy had never been to Okoboji, but I’ve been out there on a “extended Krause family vacation” we had there a few years ago. It’s pretty nice; I mean, it’s not near as posh or as pretty as the Traverse City area, but it was simple and certainly a lot cheaper that TC, too.

Spam Theater

Spam Theater

Originally uploaded by this Public Address.

Ah, we missed it, we MISSED it!

On our way back from South Dakota this summer, we drove right though Austin, MN, which is the home office of Hormel meats, the maker of the infamous luncheon meat SPAM. We just didn’t have time, and really, by that point of the trip, we wanted to be home.

Ever have SPAM? I bet ya haven’t. To be honest, I can’t remember ever having SPAM until we went to Hawaii last year. There, SPAM is a local and traditional favorite, I think because the canned meat was brought by the U.S. military a long time ago. I didn’t try the SPAM sushi, but I did have SPAM as part of a traditional breakfast platter that included SPAM, Portuguese sausage, scrambled eggs, and white rice. And you know what? SPAM is pretty good.

Some day, I too hope to tour the SPAM museum. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live through the photo memories of someone else…..