Monday, July 30, 2007
So a handful of the very few souls who read this thang, have expressed a bit of outrage of my blatant reveal of the winner of this year's World Series of Poker main event champion, one day after his victory. Apparently ESPN actually starts broadcasting the tournament on August 21st, so I spilled the beans, I guess. Whoops.
I mistakenly assumed anyone who was passionate about the subject, would of course be following along as the event unfolded live. After all, there's nothing more exciting than following poker on an internet radio with no hole card cameras. (Trust me, you haven't lived until you've tried to follow Pot Limit Omaha/8 this way!)
Okay, in a game where so much rides on visual information, maybe it's a bit like having someone describe a beautiful painting - you might want to wait for the video on this one. My apologies for giving things away.
So who wants to talk about the ending of the new Harry Potter book!
Seriously, this is where you stop reading if you at all care about this stuff and haven't finished the latest installment. Spoiler Alert!
I thought JK Rowling knocked this one out of the park; the story was taught and gripping from beginning to end. And I'm not sure things could have been resolved any other way. There were certain threads that I thought were handled just perfectly.
My favorite non-lead character, the ultimate poster boy for tragedy, Snape, got the exact ending I would have hoped for - horrible pathos and passion. Lily was his unrequited light, his sole reason for making the right choices in spite of himself. Brilliant.
Ron and Hermione finally snog, and thank God, the moment is absolutely 100% earned. One of the toughest things to get right in literature, and in story telling in general I think, is life long love - and Rowling absolutely nails it here. A tremendous arc over 7 books, that culminates beautifully, with Harry perfectly punctuating the treacle so we can all breathe again.
Harry walking through the forest, knowing he is going to die, is for me perhaps the strongest moment in the entire series; again, a brilliant culmination, where bits and pieces laced throughout all the previous stories, seem to come together exactly right for the payoff. The resulting meeting with Dumbledore at King's Cross Station, struck this God fearing (but not particularly religious) reader deep in his heart. And like Lord of the Rings before it, this story for the ages, is ultimately about what matters most. Making the best of the time we are given, by putting our own needs second to those we love. Having faith, in our creator and in our hearts - that good will triumph, in spite of our sins, our failings and innate selfishness, it is our choices, our actions in life, that will ultimately bring us peace.
There was also a bunch of other stuff that I thought just flat out was cool, and will make a great movie someday - this is probably, and it has been said by other reviewers, JK's most cinematic work yet.
The great Gringott's caper, with a spectacular dragon escape is the scene that jumps first and foremost into my mind as being most movie-worthy, but the battle of Hogwarts, complete with Giants and Spiders and Spells - oh my, will certainly be the most challenging to capture. I thought all of the action sequences, were easily the best Rowling has written - in terms of clarity and dramatic impetus. Every encounter, every action set-piece, mattered the most; because this was it; the payoff, the end.
I'll confess, Return of the King is my favorite Lord of the Rings Book, because it's the culmination of the promise of the first two stories. One of the reasons I treasure the books, and films so much, is that the ball is absolutely not dropped at the end. One of the absolute hardest things for any story (electronic or written) to get right is the ending.
As you know, you don't want to get me started on Return of the Jedi. But what befell Star Wars is, for most tales, the rule rather than the exception.
I'm overjoyed to say, as of right now, The Deathly Hallows is by far my favorite Potter book. It's the promise delivered in every way that matters. And perhaps best of all, despite an epilogue to put our minds at ease that Harry does indeed live on happily (these are children's stories after all) there is still enough left to our own imaginations - that for many years to come we can fill out the rest of the story quite nicely on our own. There are still countless adventures for Harry and his friends to embark on, in the minds of children and children at heart everywhere.
Posted by Chris Manzoni at 12:54 PM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
A psychologist has won the World Series of Poker's main event. Hailing originally from Laos, the 39 year-old Californian Jerry Yang won over 8 million dollars last night, or rather at 3am this morning - defeating over 6000 other players over a week long tournament. Wow.
And unlike last years champ, sleazy Hollywood agent Jamie Gold, this guy seems to be truly humble and genuine. For starters, Jerry will be donating 10% of his winnings to charity. Class act.
I have indulged a bit over the last month, obsessively following all the bracelet events and this last main one online. Some big name pros took down the gold, as well as the usual wide assortment of amateurs. Some day I'm going to do it; save up and enter a small event. What a thrill just to be there.
Other silly things have been taking up my time as well. I saw Transformers with the wife; a ridiculous, loud movie, perhaps the ultimate "movie", with more explosions in two hours than you could shake a stick at. Loved the new Harry Potter movie as well, and am currently chomping at the bit to get my hands on the latest and final book which comes out Saturday.
Oh the silly and soft pursuits of my life. I look back over this blog and I find I'm either raging pissed off about politics, or I'm geeking out over some ridiculous thing like music or movies. I really do need to grow up, but it's hard to help myself.
I guess I feel guilty, while men and women are dying overseas so that I can buy DVD's and play poker; I really get the sense sometimes that I'm just a big kid who can't get his act together to do something meaningful.
And then I look at what is happening to my daughter. She is so full of joy, intelligence, laughter, energy, healthy, vibrance, and on and on and on. My wife and I must be doing something right, because this little girl is so bright and happy; she is truly loved to the point of bursting with exuberance. I know in my heart she will be happy and live well, and I have played a pretty big part in that so far.
I take solace, that at least where being a dad is concerned; I am every bit the responsible grown up. Until my very last breath, I know she will always be provided for and loved fiercely. The energy I put towards indulging my silly pursuits is dwarfed by my devotion as a father. Things are good, and I know my existence has meaning - I see it and live it every day, through that little miracle that dances through the day and sings herself to sleep.
Posted by Chris Manzoni at 1:57 PM