Monday, July 30, 2007

A very avuncular day!

I am an uncle now twice over!

Zachary Matthew Anthony Lockett was born this morning at 9:15, weighing in at a quite respectable 8lb, 8oz. Michelle is doing very well and recovering nicely; Matthew is overcoming the new father coronary.

Isn't he perfect?

It makes me very sad that I can't be there like I was for Morgan. I'll be back in TO in a couple of weeks though, so I won't have to wait too long to meet my new nephew.

My brother defies the laws of nature. It still amazes me that this:

Somehow had a hand in the creation of this:

And this:

Sort of makes you believe in the stork all over again, doesn't it? Or at least in my sister-in-law's uber-genes ...

Friday, July 27, 2007

You know you've been watching too much "Hell's Kitchen" when ...

I was out the other night for a job candidate dinner at The Casbah, one of my favourite St. John's restaurants. My usual habit is to order their steak specials -- they do beef very well there, especially the tenderloin. The special that night was a NY striploin with cracked black pepper. I ordered it rare ... and it came medium! I was rather disappointed. I wasn't, in that context, about to send it back, but I kept having Gordon Ramsay flashes ... imagining taking it back to the kitchen screaming "You fucking DONUT! Is this rare?" And so on.

I might have to stop watching that show. Food and rage have never been conflated for me, until now.

It WOULD have been funny, though.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My predictions for Harry VII

Two inane headlines this morning, courtesy of the slackwits writing the MSN news feed. The first: "The Beckhams Bring Sexy Back to Hollywood." Well, I'm relieved. I was getting very bored with Hollywood's dowdiness and frumpy clothing.

And my fave of the day: "Harry Potter Makes Lots of Cash!" At this stage in the game, this is akin to predicting the sun will rise in the east. Not really a story, is it? If the new Harry movie tanked at the box office, now THAT would be a story. Not a very interesting one, mind you, but at least odd and unexpected.

Which brings me to my post du jour: my predictions for the final instalment of the J.K. Rowling retirement fund. It's good to see her scraping by, isn't it?

But yes, I have been an avid Harry Potter reader. Even if I weren't impressed with the series, I'd still be eagerly anticipating the final novel for the simple reason that I'm a narrative junky. I must learn not to get caught up in a fantasy series until all the books are actually in print. At least Rowling has generally managed to crank the books out with some dispatch -- the other series I'm currently hip-deep in is George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, which started in 1996 and, like the Potter books, is a seven-novel series. Unlike the Potter books, Martin has only reached number four (which came out almost two years ago), with number five nowhere in sight. Given that I read the first novel in hardcover, I've been dealing with that particular agony for a long time, all the while praying that Martin doesn't have a heart attack or get hit by a bus before he finishes.

So I'm glad to see the Potter series at its end. In anticipation of the final instalment, I picked up number five again the weekend before last, thinking to spend the two weeks before number seven hit the shelves refreshing my memory as to where we were at. Two weeks idly reading? Ha. I spent most of that weekend sprawled on the couch burning through both Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince. Two days.

See, this is what I'm talking about. I think I have a problem. A well-told plot-driven story is like crack to me. Add the absorbing characters, dastardly villains, imaginative flourishes and sense of humour that Rowling provides, and I ain't putting it down. Even as my marxist leanings and innate professorial snobbishness recoil a bit from this populist consumer juggernaut, they just get ploughed under.

So anyway ... when I got to the end of Half-Blood Prince, I was starting to form this post in my head. There has of course been an endless amount of speculation about how the series will end, fuelled in part by Rowling's own rather macabre promise of two deaths. Who will die? seems to be the question on everyone's mind, with Harry Potter being the even money choice.

Well, I don't think so. Actually, I don't think any of the holy trinity will get killed off -- Harry, Ron and Hermione will all survive. At least, they'll literally survive. I wouldn't be surprised if Harry suffers a symbolic death, in the manner of Frodo ... withdrawing from society while his friends go on to illustrious careers, living a quiet reclusive life. After all, his life's work will have been completed by the age of eighteen.

I also don't think he'll die for the simple fact that the prophecy made clear that it's him or Voldemort.

Anyway, I say it's 6-5 and pick 'em whether Harry lives on as a prominent Auror or goes the J.D. Salinger route. I give long odds against his death, 10-1 say.

As for the aforementioned careers -- Rowling has said that the final chapter tells of what all the main characters go on to do with their lives. I think it's even money that Hermione becomes headmistress of Hogwarts, and ditto that Neville becomes Minister of Magic. I don't know about Ron ... which is why I think that, if any of the holy trinity die, it will be him.

And what about the deaths? If not Ron, I think one of the Weasleys will have to go, with my money on Arthur -- Ginny if Rowling decides to be particularly cruel.

I do think that one of the two deaths will definitely be Snape -- who will turn out to be a good guy after all. There won't be any reconciliation between him and Harry though. I predict he'll die saving Harry, but will say something really nasty with his final breath.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Inspired absurdity on a rainy Tuesday

This is quite possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen -- Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. Performing -- wait for it! -- The Scottish Play.

Just one of their many postings on YouTube. They also do Resevoir Dogs, A Christmas Carol, Doctor Who (which includes a lengthy argument over the proper spelling of "dahleks"), Romeo and Juliet and a respectable cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Monday, July 09, 2007

10 things you probably don't know about me

I'm currently kicking around an idea for a blog post about the culture of narcissism, so I thought it weirdly appropriate that I post something right now all about me. This is in imitation of my friend Matt, who recently did the same thing on his own blog. Plus, I've let this blog lag an unconscionably long time; I have a few posts in mind, the aforementioned one on narcissism, plus I'm formulating my own list of predictions for the final Harry Potter novel. Those ones need to simmer for a while still though, so here you are: ten obscure and possibly interesting facts about yours truly.

1. Apparently, I didn’t speak at all until the age of two, when I started talking in complete sentences. According to family lore, my parents would hear me practicing in my crib, but when they’d enter my room and try to get me to repeat what they’re heard, I’d clam up.

2. Further to the previous note: many people assume that my rather professorial (read: pompous) manner of speaking comes from my years of study in English. Actually, I’ve always spoken this way. When I was young I would introduce myself to people very seriously and carefully, saying “My name is Christopher James Lockett” and offering to shake their hand.

3. When I’m having difficulty falling asleep, I think of sword fights, especially the one from The Princess Bride. I find the rhythm soothing.

4. My parents always assured me, through my kindergarten years, that I would learn to read in grade one—a point I was very anxious about. I came home from school after my first day of grade one in high dudgeon because, after one day, I hadn’t yet learned to read.

5. I am never quite so calm or at peace as when I can see water. Even sitting by a creek in the summer is quite recuperative for the soul.

6. Though I am not a morning person, my favourite time of day is early morning, especially in the time just before the rest of the world wakes up. I like being into the office early, especially when it’s still slightly dark, and I can turn on my desk lamp and collect my thoughts in a pleasant pool of light.

7. I talk to myself a lot, especially if I’m out walking. When trying to work through a particular question, I stage imaginary conversations with someone taking a contrary position. I frequently win these arguments.

8. My earliest memory is of five-pin bowling with my paternal grandmother. I remember tottering down the lane, staggering under the weight of the ball, and dropping it with what felt like an earth-shattering crack.

9. The first music I ever spent my own money on was a 45rpm single of “Come on Eileen.” My second purchase was “Jump” by Van Halen. The third was “The Reflex” by Duran Duran.

10. I love fog and mist. One of my favourite sailing experiences was on Lake Ontario when we raced in fog so thick you couldn’t see more than twenty feet in any direction—but the fog also only went about twenty feet up, so we could see the masts of all the other boats in our vicinity. Every so often we would see a masthead approaching, and a sailboat would materialize, pass in front, and disappear again.