Friday, July 17, 2009

Virtual Vicarious Vacation Friday: Oxford

Harry Potter in the morning, then burgers and frozen custard for lunch (separate courses, not together) -- the makings of a lovely day. Now, though, I'm utterly exhausted for some reason.

I liked the movie. I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to film adaptations, but I've decided for the purposes of this series that the movies and the books exist in separate universes, and I appreciate them separately. With that in mind, I think the adaptation worked, for the most part. I was wondering how they'd adapt this book for film, not so much because the book was so huge, but because there really isn't much in the way of action. I often jokingly call this one "Harry Potter and the Off-Stage Antagonist" because there's no real struggle to this story. It's mostly the coming-of-age story for the series, the transition from childhood to adulthood, rather than being about the fight against the Big Bad. So I can see why the scene that was added was added, so there would be actual action at the midpoint of the movie and a reminder that there was a threat. There was one thing left out that I thought could have been kept in without making the movie longer and that would have deepened that part of the story. Otherwise, I think it flowed well enough, and it was both funny and intense. Jim Broadbent was absolutely wonderful as Slughorn. That was such a good performance. I did have one inappropriate giggle fit at the very beginning, in the scene where Harry is preparing to flirt with the coffee shop waitress. I had a massive Extras flashback and halfway expected to see Diana Rigg at the next table.

Since I'm in an English state of mind, let's go to England for Virtual Vicarious Vacation Friday. To Oxford, to be exact. This one was actually a vacation, a rather spontaneous trip I took in October 2000 after a rather harrowing customer conference for a client. I wanted to go somewhere where my clients couldn't reach me, so I spent a few days wandering the Oxford area.

First, a lovely view of the city skyline:

Then Balliol College (I like the way the sky looks in this shot -- that was the only really sunny day of the whole trip, and it was gorgeous):

And finally, the River Thames, just downstream from Oxford. They've turned the old towpath into a walking trail, and it was a great way to walk off jet lag.

I may end up doing some travel this summer, after all. I think I will do the New York trip. It turns out that it's actually less expensive to go in August (which is odd because usually travel prices drop after Labor Day instead of going up), so I can go at a time when it fits better with the book. I won't get to enjoy a northern autumn, but it still should be cooler there than it is here, so I can maybe get a tiny preview. Now I need to book everything (and hope it's the same as it was when I was researching yesterday).

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