Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Harry Potter would've failed

In an imaginary world where jelly beans taste like boogers and people actually sit still to watch a stupid game where all the players are flying around on brooms, there is one conceit that stretches credulity to its breaking point: the friendship between Harry and Ron. In real life, Ron would've turned on Harry after the 3rd book or so, and not for the reason you think.

In the books, the rift between Harry and Ron begins to develop because Harry has a crush on Ron's sister, Ginny. Fiction loves to pretend that men care so deeply about preserving their sisters' purity they'll kill their best friend if he makes a move on her (see Scarface for a particularly asinine example). This is old-fashioned, out-of-date thinking, though it would definitely alter the relationship permanently.

The real reason Harry and Ron's friendship is the most unrealistic part of the fantastical Hogwarts saga is this: No guy stays best friends with the same dude from ages 12 through 21 (or however old they are when the story finishes). There's a simple reason for this: One guy always matures faster. When you have that growth spurt and start realizing how much fun it is to try to get girls to sleep with you, you can't be seen hanging out with the dude who still looks prepubescent. In real life, Ron's voice would've dropped first, and he'd be picking on mudbloods with Draco Malfoy in no time. He'd probably pull down Harry's pants in front of all the girls and laugh as Crabbe and Goyle dumped him upside down in a trash can.

Then, since Harry still hasn't hit puberty, he'd have to go make friends with the lowliest social class: other kids who haven't sprouted yet, or kids even younger. He'd probably still have Hermione as a friend, since nobody likes her anyway, but they'd be joined by scrubs like Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood: the weird and pathetic.

But Harry would still grow up eventually. And when he did, his quest would not be to stop the Dark Lord or whatever, it would be pure and simple revenge. He'd probably still date Ron's sister (specifically to break her heart), but he'd be training and honing his skills simply out of hatred for all Weasleys. Voldemort? Who cares? Killing a guy's parents is one thing, but the wounds suffered from social humiliation in adolescence burn longer and deeper.

So the final chapter would be all about how the Death Eaters come back into power, and Harry's one of them, and he kills Ron while Snape nods in silent approval, his transformation into the new Dark Lord complete. I mean, what teenager has the ability to see beyond his own selfish perspective? Fight evil, save the muggles? No. I see him taking the easy way out 9 times out of 10. If you disagree with me, you, like J.K. Rowling, have never been a teenage boy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts on being a father

As a dad, I have only one job: to prepare my children for independence. Being a dad is one big balancing act between staying out of the way of your child's development and keeping them from overstepping their boundaries. This is somewhat counterintuitive at first, because children start off totally helpless, but it is a role that they themselves help you transition into. Every new development a child makes is a parental test. Depending on what that development is (crawling, talking, trying to eat the ant traps, taking off his own diapers), the parent's job is to respond correctly -- either encourage it if it's something good, or teach them not to do that if it's something bad.

And really, this is a trivial concern for at least the first few years of life, because there are very few things a child can learn to do that are of any consequence at all.

What the child is really doing for these first few years is preparing you. It is the developments they will make when they are older that are significant. As the child grows, their behavioral and physical changes multiply exponentially. Every parent reaches that point in their child's life where they just don't recognize the person anymore. That is the very point I want to avoid. I want to be able to chart every level of my child's progress, by taking an active hand in it.

This is probably a pipe dream. Perhaps some division between the generations is necessary in order to bring about that aforemention "independence" that a child must attain in adulthood. The comfort I can take in this is the possibility that my son will one day have a child of his own, and will begin to understand our relationship from my perspective. Until then, I have to let him be whoever he is.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Decision

It's settled. I know what song I'm gonna sing at Ari's wedding reception tomorrow. You no longer have to worry about me ruining any of the songs mentioned in my previous post. It's none of the above. I'm gonna play "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters.

What I like about this choice is that it's one of those songs pretty much everybody likes. Maybe it rocks a little too hard for a wedding, but my sister likes it, so I don't care. And it fulfills all my silly restrictions. There's one part in the song I don't know how to play, so I just have to fake it through that. But otherwise this choice is looking pretty nice.

Now the next question: Should I ask my brother Jaren to back me up on the drums? We could tear it up on this track, me and him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What song should I sing for my sister's wedding?

Help! I have a week to decide this. These are the 3 pointless, arbitrary guidelines I've come up with in selecting the song:

1. Nothing from before the year I was born (1982)
2. The lyrics must be unambiguously pro-love
3. Something "everybody" knows (this can mean a lot of things)

Here are the choices I've come up with, along with reasons I can't do them. Feel free to suggest something else, too.

(Not "everybody" knows this song.)

(Good choice, I just need to learn it.)

(Nobody remembers Hanson anymore)

(Is this song pro-love or anti-love? I can't actually tell)

(This song is almost certainly anti-love)

(It's from 1964)

(I can't think of a reason not to do this song other than it doesn't feel quite right)

Ari, if you're out there, feel free to weigh in.