Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Fun Stuff--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter fans queue in front of Waterstone's in Piccadilly in London, Friday July 20 2007, to get the first copies of the final title, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is to be on sale in the first minute after midnight. (AP Photo / Irina Kalashnikova)

What can I say, but tonight is going to become Pottermania. Fans are lining up at bookstores to snatch up the first copies of J.K. Rowling's final volumn in the epic saga of Hogwart School's most famous wizard. According to MSNBC News:

LONDON - Readers waited in sheets of rain and blazing sun Friday, from Sydney to Seattle, to get their hands on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final volume in the schoolboy wizard’s saga.

In a now-familiar ritual that is part sales frenzy and part Halloween party, bookstores in Britain were flinging open their doors at a minute past midnight to hordes of would-be warlocks, sorcerers and ordinary, non-magical Muggles. Shops throughout the world were putting the book on sale at the same time, and the United States will follow as midnight strikes Saturday in each time zone, from 12:01 a.m. EDT.

J.K. Rowling, who created the magical lad in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” a decade ago, was giving a midnight reading to 500 competition-winning children in the grand Victorian surroundings of London’s Natural History Museum.

For many of the keenest fans, the place to be was Waterstone’s bookstore on Piccadilly in central London. Dozens of die-hard fans sheltered under umbrellas and plastic ponchos, undeterred by torrential rain. Some passed the time by jotting predictions for the final novel in notebooks, while others encouraged passing drivers to “Honk for Harry.”

“This is the biggest Harry Potter party in Europe, so it’s worth the wait,” said Laura Halinen, 23, from Kuusankoski, Finland.

Rowling’s books about the bespectacled orphan with the lightning-bolt scar have sold 325 million copies in 64 languages, and the launch of each new volume has become a Hollywood-scale extravaganza.


“Deathly Hallows” has a print run of 12 million in the United States alone, and Internet retailer Amazon says it has taken 2.2 million orders for the book — 47 percent higher than the pre-order for the sixth volume, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Britain’s Royal Mail says it will deliver 600,000 copies on Saturday — one for every 43 households in the country; the U.S. Postal Service said it would deliver 1.8 million copies.

“It is completely crazy,” said Deborah Tilley, a spokeswoman for Britain’s Waterstone’s bookstore chain. “It has never been quite this busy.”

I will admit that I have not read the Harry Potter books. My introduction to Harry Potter has been through the movies, which have amassed around $4 billion in the global box office. But I don't think I've seen any literary series that has created such a cultural mania as Harry Potter has done, and that could even include J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Rowling's Harry Potter has become an instant cultural classic, with thousands lining up to bookstores, waiting to get their hands on the first copies of these books. And it is not just children who are reading these books, but also adults, and young adults where were introduced to Harry Potter as they were children and have grown up along with Harry. It is an incredible finale here for Harry Potter, even as there are still two more movies to film.

And so to celebrate the latest Harry Pottermania, I found this wonderful Saturday Night Live "Harry Potter" sketch featuring Lindsay Lohan playing a very sexy Hermione Granger. It is hilarious. From YouTube:

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