Mischief Managed

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceI finished it. The new Harry Potter book. I bought it at 12:03am at a local QFC (a grocery store -- I figured it would be less crowded than traditional bookstores). I came home, pulled an all-nighter, and finished around 6:35am.

I won't spoil the ending, but I will say much of the speculation on the web has been correct. There are a few shocks plus some expected resolutions. All-in-all, pretty good. Better than some of the others (like 2).

I should go to bed now, but we need to get ready for Andrew's eighth bday party later this morning. Hm, fifteen crazy eight year old boys and me on no sleep. This will be interesting.

I can't wait for Harry Potter 6

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. I'm not one of those dads who hides behind his kids' love of the books. I expect to get my copy at midnight and pull an all-nighter reading it Saturday at launch. Hope it's good.

In the meantime, here's a link to some very good fan fiction -- Albus Dumbledore's death written the style of various authors. It's a Guardian (UK newspaper) contest. Some are great.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link

Harry Potter should go back to Azkaban

As many of you know, I love the Harry Potter series. Love it. Love the books, love the books-on-tape (Jim Dale is amazing), love all the rumors and musings about plots to come.

Too bad I hate the movies. It's especially too bad that I really hated the latest installation, The Prisoner of Azkaban. This was probably the best book so far and the worst movie (OK, maybe the first one was worse.) I know there's a lot of detail in the books that can't possibly be in the movie, but I thought the movie went so fast and was cut so poorly that the story didn't make sense.

I've heard that people who did not read the book liked the movie. That may be true. I've tended to dislike movies of books I've read in general, so this might not be a fair assessment, but boy was Azkaban a stinker.

Did it make sense to you?

Vacation Reading

While we were in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to make a dent in my reading list and finished off three very good books.

The Professor and the MadmanThe first was The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. This is the story the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary and is centered around two men -- the chief editor and one of the primary contributors (who happens to be in an insane asylum.) This book was of particular interest to me since I worked on Microsoft Bookshelf (rest in peace) and the Encarta World English Dictionary. Aside from the interesting tale of the two men, it was interesting to me to see how we still fundamentally use the same techniques to create dictionaries today (albeit with much more technological assistance). Of course, it took the editors of the OED seventy years to create their first edition and less than five to create ours (admittedly the OED is a bit more comprehensive.)

Cod by Mark Kurlansky
The second was Cod by Mark Kurlansky. This is the same author who brought us Salt. It's a great read describing the key role of cod in history and how it helped drive exploration, trade, and ultimately history. It's also a very sobering story of the devestation man has caused. I'm hugely concerned about the virtual extinction of entire fisheries including cod, so despite the tantalizing cod recipes from throughout history scattered throughout the book, I'll have to pass on eating cod or salt cod. (Note, I think Salt was the more interesting book, although both are definitely worth reading.)

Pirate Hunter by Richard ZacksFinally, I read Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks. I didn't know much about Captain Kidd beyond the legends and Hollywood versions. Zacks paints a very different picture, one of a man who tried to do right and was left to hang (literally) by some of the richest men in American and England including the King of England. Aside from the compelling biography of Kidd, the book does a great job describing life in the 17th/18th centuries on board ships, in the seedier parts of town, in war, and in prisons (I'm very glad to be living in the 21st century.)

More than anything I was glad to get a chance to read something besides email and web pages for a while. I love reading and will try to keep reading for fun on top of my other commitments.