Sun, 17 Jul 2005

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

Erm.. yeah, I think I mentioned before that I don't do book reviews, but I couldn't help myself. Despite what appears to me to be a larger proportion of people my age and with my interests thinking the Harry Potter series to be a bit childish, I've found them very entertaining. And a good story line to boot.

So, A few weeks ago I dropped by a local bookstore to pre-order a copy - Raewyn and I had an agreement that I would be allowed to read the book first, as she is a significantly faster reader than I, and has a habit of letting plot secrets out before you get to finish it after her.. As such, I spent most of the 26 hours after it was released reading the sixth installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I decided to use the release as a location for a bit of photography practice with my new 20D..

The young chap in the first image had been waiting at the front of the queue for about 2.5 hours.. not for me!

I met a reporter at the store, and we discussed what he'd been chatting to some of the folks in the queue. A good point was raised - the length, complexity, and general tone of story had changed with each successive book to match the capabilities and understanding of the original target audience - Younger teens, who now, 8 years after Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone graced bookstore shelves, are approaching their early twenties.

Now, to the story - I do heartily apologise to anyone who reads past this paragraph - here is your warning: SPOILERS FOLLOW, if you want to read this book, I highly recommend you bog off now... I repeat, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

For those that just want to know what happens, in a longwinded and badly constructed sentence, here goes; Harry discovers jealousy, and falls for Ginny Weasley, Ron and Hermione do the courting dance, but neither get to the point of actually admitting fondness to each other, Snape's a traitor, Malfoy wants to be a traitor, Harry learns about Tom Riddle's past, and ultimately begins to understand with the help of Dumbledore, what he has to do to defeat Voldemort, and Dumbledore is killed (by Snape).

The story starts of rather slow, and with little intrigue compared to the finale of the previous book. Because of this, I kept thinking "Wow, I'm this far through, what could really happen now that's bad?" (little did I know!). Eventually, things kicked into life, as Harry learnt about Riddle's past with help from private lessons with Dumbledore involving the pensieve. Basically, Voldemort has created six Horcruxes (objects that are used to store a parts of a soul) which must be found and destroyed before Voldemort himself can be killed. One such Horcrux was Riddle's diary that Harry destroyed back in The Chamber of Secrets. After learning of this crucial information, the book comes to a screaming finale as Harry and Dumbledore journey to find and destroy another Horcrux (which turns out to be fake, but that's inconsequential at this point).

During the course of the story, Harry becomes more and more convinced that Malfoy is up to no good, but Hermione and Ron are not quite so sure - it turns out he was right, Malfoy had become a Death Eater in his fathers stead, and Voldemort had placed upon him the task of killing Dumbledore. Early in the story, when we are unaware of what the task is, Snape is approached by Malfoy's fearful mother who insists that Snape make an Unbreakable Vow to protect Malfoy, and to carry out the task if he fails - needless to say, he does, since Malfoy appears to not be up to the task.

This early meeting with Malfoy's mother, is where we are first introduced to the possibility that Snape may well be a traitor to the Order of the Phoenix. I was finding it hard to believe to start with, but it's been such a recurring theme throughout the entire series that he is suspected by many to not be as faithful as Dumbledore thinks, that it becomes much easier to swallow. Although, this very belief of Dumbledore's, plays a large part in his demise. Sadly, it tarnishes the character somewhat - but thinking back, Dumbledore does admit to Harry that even he makes mistakes. It's a shame that he only realises that his faith in Snape is wrong at the very end.

But what about stopping Voldemort acquiring the Philosophers stone you ask? That comes up - At the time, Snape thinks it is only Quirrell after the Stone.. There are other such points, and questions asked of apparent contradictions throughout the story.. All are answered, and quite satisfactorily in my opinion.

Anyway, to conclude, I'll state that this is another very good installment from Rowling - She's done well, and I honestly do look forward to the seventh, and I believe final, book in the series.

Oh, and who is the Half-Blood Prince? I'm afraid that I am going to leave that one for those that actually read the book!

[02:26] [/Random] [permanent link]

Thu, 14 Jul 2005

My new Toy!

(I think this deserves a whole new section in my blog!)

So, Yesterday morning, I finally managed to get myself the toy I've wanted for some time - a Canon EOS 20D Digital SLR. I've played with a couple of these really neat devices before (thanks Michael!), and I've had GTE ever since.

I'd also played with a 300D in the past, but it would be silly to purchase that now, with the new 350D on the market. When I checked out the 350D a month or two ago, I just could not come to terms with the overly plastic feel.. it just wasn't heavy enough for an SLR!

Anyway, I've been having some good fun, although the 18-55mm EF-S lens in the kit is definitely pretty limiting, but it appears to be adequate to start with - but I couldn't help myself - Today I was in the store again, and ended up buying a second hand 90-300mm EF lens.. now, that one is FUN!

So, I haven't done a whole lot of shooting yet, but I've taken a couple which are currently up on the LCA2006 website being used as in a random rotation for the left hand header image. Look for the modern building (Otago uni's Information Services Building), and the night shot of the Town Hall.

[12:01] [/Photography] [permanent link]

Wed, 13 Jul 2005

Call For Papers

Well, Last night we opened the CFP for 2006.. I've been slack, and haven't blogged about it till now, because it was at about 1am last night that we got things to a suitable stater. And, we're still ironing out small bugs with the CFP submission pages - but that shouldn't stop you from submitting an abstract!

We most definitely want you to submit a paper, if you've got something cool that you want to talk about - It's a great excuse to make a trip to New Zealand, and observe some of the great scenery we have (LotR anyone?), or, maybe you'd like to hang out with some of the other cool people that will be here to present something awesome! :P

So, get to it, go and register as an author and submit a paper! (be sure to read the guidelines and condtions for submission).

[11:13] [/LCA] [permanent link]

Tue, 05 Jul 2005

It's A Website!

Well, we are still here, I promise! We finally have our website up and running.. I've also just updated DNS, so should point to the right place now too... (if not, give DNS a chance to propogate)

Things may seem quiet on the publicity front, but that'll change in the next month, look out for some regular site updates, and more! We'll be openning the CFP RSN (that's Reeeeeeeal, not Real), so keep your ears to the ground.. Now's your chance to make a trip to NZ and have the boss pay for it!

[02:52] [/LCA] [permanent link]