Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hogwarts professor

I spent two days in a row on the Hogwarts Express with Lori on Tuesday and both her and Polina on Wednesday. Tuesday I came into the city and met up with Polina at the Macy's Herald Square, where she needed to exchange some shoes. As a result of her ongoing wardrobe overhaul, she showed me some of the clothes she purchased earlier in the week with her sister. Afterwards, we had a bite to eat at a deli and then she caught an express bus back to Staten Island, while I continued to Lori's office to meet up with her so we could go to a lecture at the New York Public Library.

The lecture was titled "Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures" by John Granger, author of the book with the same title, and most recently The Deathly Hallows Lectures: The Hogwarts Professor Explains the Final Harry Potter Adventure.


The lecture was quite good, and of course, to a very involved and interested audience. Mr. Granger explained how J.K. Rowling borrows from many of the greatest works of English and world literature, most notably Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Dante's Inferno, as well as several different established literary genres, such as gothic romance, mystery, and English schoolboy fiction. He also confirmed that he is not actually a relative of Hermoine Granger's, as some people have asked him.

As longtime blog readers know, I'm relatively new to the Harry Potter phenomenon, having read all seven books for the first time in 2008 (since the Twilight Saga was done and I needed more stuff to read, so my family got me the box set of hardcovers for my last birthday - "Birthday gifts" - July 16, 2008). But even to a Potter newbie like me, the talk was very interesting, and will certainly enrich my future reading of the books.


After the talk, he signed books and Lori bought a copy of Harry Potter's Bookshelf. I said hello with her, and Mr. Granger explained why he was making a lot of eye contact with me, because he was using my reactions as an audience barometer of sorts. When I smiled and looked interested, he would take that as a cue to continue on that topic, and when I looked bored, he would move on. I was wondering throughout the presentation why he was looking at me so intently.

On Wednesday I had a very nice interview at a boutique (read "small") PR agency near Grand Central Station in the city. I met with the president and chief operating officer, and we seemed to hit it off very well. He even indicated which office I'd be sitting in if I were hired (which unfortunately doesn't seem to have a window that I noticed) but of course, this is dependent on them getting some new business in the door. The gratifying part for me was that he had called one of my former senior colleagues at Agent K and they had spoken highly of me, which is always nice to hear.

After the interview I went down to Union Square in the pouring rain to meet up with Lori and Polina at the Whole Foods to grab a bite to eat before heading to the movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Polina liked it all the way up to the end, but was peeved that the defense of Hogwarts against the Death Eaters was omitted. Also, she's still steamed about how Sirius Black met his end in the last movie. Lori was just shocked at the death of a major character in HBP, as she hasn't read the book yet. As for me, I still liked the new movie, but it doesn't surpass Order of the Phoenix as my favorite of the series so far.