Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harry Potter "Mosts"

Remember back in High School when everyone voted on who in the Senior class was "most... something"? Most Likely to Succeed, Most Studious, Most Athletic etc. I always thought is was weird and it bothered me a little that some of the categories weren't "most" they were things like, "best dressed" "cutest couple" "prettiest eyes". How could you word that in a "most" type of a way? I've thought and thought, and you really can't. So I've gotten over it (mostly, I'll try not to lay awake thinking about it tonight). Anyway, now that you know one of my life's little pet peeves (no pun intended, speaking of Harry Potter) we can move on.

So in honor of my recent (57 minutes ago) completion of the Harry Potter Series (2nd time around for some of the books, 3rd for others), I held a contest (comprised of a panel of one, me) to vote on Harry Potter "Mosts". (You won't mind if I put commentary with them do you? No, I didn't think so.)

Most Lovable: Fred and George Weasley, Tonks and Hagrid
It's interesting that the categories where there is more than one winner the candidates all share similar qualities. The Weasly Twins, Tonks and Hagrid all are eternal optimists, happy and unique.

Most Trustworthy: Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin

These guys never waver in their advice, charity and devotion. You pretty much know what they say holds water.

Most Loyal: Ron Weasley and Dobby
Ron and Dobby choose Harry over all other people and all other circumstances. I want a friend like that.

Most Loathsome: Delores Jane Umbridge
Really, she beats out Voldemort in my mind. She is too conniving, self-righteous, hypocritical, devious, oppressive, manipulative, self-serving, psychotic.... ooohhh! Words just can not express. The thing that makes her so unpalatable is that, FOR SURE she thought she was perfect in every way and all her treachery was all performed under such a sickening sweet cover; kittens, pink bows, glass plates, tiny feminine cough/voice... . I used a drawing of her here, not because Imelda Staunton didn't do a good job of portraying her, but I don't think any human being with a shred of decency could really come across as looking like the real (wait! Is she real? I can't remember) Delores Umbridge. I always enjoyed the description of her looking like a toad.
Voldemort is bad, therefore we are not surprised when he does bad things. Umbridge is a Ministry Official, a Hogwarts Professor and The High Inquisitor, for goodness sake. She is supposed to at least have some sort of, I don't know, scruples.
Can you tell I have strong feelings here?
Just wait til I get to Snape.

Coolest Name: Kingsley Shacklebolt
Really! Don't you agree? What kinds of things would you do with a name like Kingsley Shacklebolt?
Since this is where I'm talking about names, I'm going to throw this in. I am super impressed with J.K. Rowling's choice of names for characters, major and minor. I have always been one to think about what names I would use for characters or places, should I ever write a book (ok, there you have it another "Stefani Strangeism"). I used to even keep a list. I might even be able to find it if I wanted to. I know, I know... don't say it.
But you have to agree, Ms. Rowling has a gift being able to assign her characters the perfect blend of every day sounding names (Lee Jordan) with totally preposterous sounding names (Dedalus Diggle). Props to her for making the words Hogwarts and Dumbledore sound normal. (my spell checker even recognizes them).
Someday I'm going to have a cat named Lavender Brown
Did you know there is a Wikipedia page that has ALL the Harry Potter names listed? And I do mean ALL!

Most Consistant: Hermione Granger
I believe Hermione could be the next Professor McGonagall (see below). She always has it all together, has the perfect blend of wit and sobriety. Her priorities are always arranged for the, dare I say it, Greater Good!

Priorities in Place: Minerva McGonagall
The first time I really knew I loved this woman is when she put Harry on the Quidditch team when clearly he should have been expelled.
I also appreciate that she did her job and did it well. She never cared that she wasn't the Headmistress. She never worried about not being in the spotlight. She just shone where she was. She is the whole package deal.

Love to Hate: Draco Malfoy and Peter Petigrew
Misguided, Weak, Self-Serving, Insecure... you almost pity them until you realize the damage they cause.

Coolest Under Pressure: Ginny Weasley
I have to say, the perfect girl for Harry. Loyal like Ron. Stubborn like Mrs. Weasley, Unassuming like Mr. Weasley. Mischievous like Fred and George. She knew Harry's whole story from beginning to end, but wasn't in the thick of it. She always seemed to have the right answer and was a very calming influence in Harry's life, even before he liked her.

Surprise Hero: Kreature and Neville Longbottom
Kreature could almost go on the love to hate list. But really he is just misunderstood.
Neville is also misunderstood. The perfect example of a kid with a tricky family situation, a late bloomer, maybe a little bit homely. The kind of kid that gets picked on in school, but that you see when you go back to your 20 year reunion and he is the best looking, richest and most successful guy in the bunch.

Most Complex: Severus Snape
Again, someone who could almost be on the love to hate list, but even though he does some very hateful things you always know there is some good in him somewhere because Dumbledore trusts him (see "Most Trustworthy" above). I think Snape's character is a great example of someone who made bad choices young in life, out of desperation, the need to belong, or possibly even out of ignorance, and these choices continue haunt him the rest of his life. Granted, he could have made better choices along the way to help assuage some of the grief and the self-loathing that he, no doubt had, that spilled out onto others. He could have forgiven. But I'm sure he thought it weakness. But look what he learned in his struggle. He had talents for Potions, Spells, Occlumency, and Legilemency and much more, all learned to keep his true identity hidden.
How did he keep it all straight? How did he keep it together? How did he NEVER reveal his true self to Voldemort?
Here are some words that I think describe Snape:
Tortured/Unrequited Love

Now, before I go further. I have to say, When I decided to do this post, it made me feel like a Harry Potter nerd. But, as I started looking for pictures... um, lets just say there are some very whacky fans out there! In comparison I know nothing about Harry Potter. People are using their imaginations to write variations on the story and/or characters. There is lots of art out there, some lame, but some quite good. One such example was a picture. At first I just laughed and said, "Ya right!" But the more I thought about it the more I wanted to include it here.
Had Snape made some better choices, got out while he had the chance, let someone help him, forgiven others and himself; this could have been how it turned out for him. If not with Lily, then with someone else. He did help bring the Dark Lord down, and yay for him, but how much richer and fuller his life could have been.
Ok, stopping now.

Favorite Over-All: Sirius Black
Sirius Black also a victim of choices and circumstances. But he was a bit better directed. As the Sirius we know in the book, he was crabby and grumpy, like we all tend to get when we get older and reflect on the good ol' days. But in the flashbacks, the young Sirius was smart and good looking and popular, someone everyone wanted to be like. As an older Sirius he was still that person inside, although a bit more jaded and cynical. He had poor family circumstances, but overcame those in doing what he felt was right and good. In having good friends and in taking the rap for them. He was egotistical. But really, we all admire people with confidence. He had a wild streak, what, with his motorcycle, prison break, rule breaking, treatment of Kreature and all. But I think he was true to himself. I still picture that kid with all the potential inside him, the one that, I think was still there even after his stint in Azkaban. I think I also have a soft spot for him because he was the closest thing Harry had to a real family. He was nice to him, treated him like a normal person. Not, "the chosen one". He seemed fun and adventurous, and he's got the major "cool" factor going on. I probably also feel bad for him because he had Narcissa and Belatrix as sisters, or wait, I think they're his cousins. (Did you know there are many, many webpages dedicated to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black Family Tree? Ya, I don't really care either.) I don't know if I can fully explain my reasons for Sirius being my favorite. I'm not really going to try. I loved that he laughed when he died. But I cried when he died.

One more bit of Potterism. You've probably seen this but go watch it again. It is and always will be one of my favorites!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Brown Suit Looks Familiar

On Sunday March 13th, Brad got released from the Bishopric. We are excited to have him back on our pew at church (even though he felt restricted by the limited legroom there:), we're excited to have him around in the evenings and we're excited to be able to take a Sunday afternoon nap with him. Not that we have minded him serving in the church. In fact, as the wife of our Stake President recently said about her husband, (and I think applies to most men who honor the priesthood), "He's much happier when he's serving, so out he goes." (I think of that quote all the time and it comforts me and cracks me up all at the same time.)

Brad is so good at so many things and loves to get stuff done. He has, dare I say, revolutionized parts of the ward through his enthusiasm, computer skills and tenacity. I know he loved serving under Bishop Starkweather and learned so much from this humble, determined man. But, it's time to rest -- even though we know it's probably of short duration. It's time to get a glimpse of Brad in his brown suit more than just seeing him at the pulpit (by the way give a shout out if you know my obscure reference here). We are proud of his service to the ward and by extension, to our family and friends.

But less than a week later, look what he was up to.
This is Guy Forever! Lovable host of the popular show "Minute To Win It"- youth conference style. He was incredible! He did a fantastic job M.C'ing the game during our regional youth conference this last weekend. How quickly the mantle fades. HA! (Weirdly enough our outfits matched that night - only in color though, not in outrageousness. Even the licorice he's holding matched.)

By the way, our new Bishop is Loren Dickson. One of our favorite people (EVER) and home teacher for the last 8 years! We hope this new responsibility for him doesn't mean a change in that assignment. We truly love him! He's an awesome man for the job! But lest we forget he is still human.... and still a fun guy (not to be confused with fungi).
The future Bishop Dickson with the future Guy Forever at Trinity Lake.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Last week Afton's iPhone met with a tragic and untimely death. (First dropped in the toilet and not even an hour later dropped and shattered the screen). Brady, who wants to go into post-mortum work decided to do a little science experiment on the deceased. Just in case you ever wondered what the inside of your phone looks like... wonder no more.

He saved one thing from the whole operation. The camera lens. (I love his ratty, boy fingers here.)

P.S. If you are seeing a trend here with 3 posts in a row about Brady, you might wonder if I still have other children. Kelsi and Afton do still exist, and they are theoretically in our family, but we hardly see them. They are in the final throws of rehearsals for the school play. They are pretty much gone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m (or later). Trust me, if you've been missing them, just wait...

Thursday, March 3, 2011


There is somebody living in my house that is very iconic. His name is Brady. There are lots of songs, movie quotes, dances and actions that I, or someone else will inevitably say, "I can totally picture Brady saying (or doing) that." His latest has to do with the Song by Bruno Mars called Grenade. Funnily (Oh, I am so using that word next time I play Mad Libs and they want an adverb) enough, Grenade is a love song (albeit unrequited love). The guy is singing about how much he loves the girl, and what he would do for her, but she doesn't feel the same way.

Here's a sample of the lyrics:

I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won't do the same.

Sweet sentiment but, Brady has seen this for what it is, and has added his own voice. In our house the song goes like this.

I’d catch a grenade for ya... that would be dumb
Throw my hand on a blade for ya...
that would be dumb
I’d jump in front of a train for ya...
that would be dumb
You know I'd do anything for ya... (and to prove he's really listening)
nice idea, but that would still be dumb
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain...
that would be dumb
Yes, I would die for ya baby;...
that would be dumb
But you won't do the same.

We still love Bruno Mars and even this funny grenade song... but we love Brady even more! He has made this song so much more memorable don't you think? Just try listening to that song now and not say "that would be dumb" after each line. I dare ya.

PS. I also reactivated my playlist just for this post so you could hear the long in real life.