July 22, 2007

Harry Potter Freak-Out Weekend

Coming late to the Harry Potter-craze, picking up the first book shortly after the fourth had been published (thank you, Adriaan) I have since made-up for my early lack of enthusiasm with an absurdly over-zealous enjoyment these past few years. The few weeks leading up to Saturday's release of the seventh and final book was passed in anticipation and eager excitement, re-reading the final few books, seeing the fifth movie, and planning what turned out to be a very well-executed Harry Potter weekend of glory.

Yup, read the book. Finished it. And though I won't be providing any spoilers (though I must note how effective my spoiler-proofing proved to be) I will say that the ending has a satisfying thorough-ness, and finishing the final chapter of the final chapter, I was content. But first, the what-happened:

For over a year now I've planned on spending the weekend of the release of seven with one of my favorite people/Harry Potter fans Kelly, and since the date was set last winter, so were the essentials of our plan. I'd meet her in Boston, we'd get the book at midnight, and then proceed to read until our eyes bleed, or we finish, whichever comes first. Circumstances changed, and the specifics weren't finalized until just a few weeks ago, but that's pretty much what happened.

Taking the day off from work (Harry Potter Freak Out Day is not yet a national holiday) I left NYC armed with my iPod and my radio off. Total media blackout was both my strategy, and my advice to other folks seeking a spoiler-free experience for the last book. I had assiduously avoided all the places I suspected spoilers may accidentally have been posted, as well as those who intentionally offered to ruin the experience.

Despite a two-hour parking lot on I90, I arrived in time to meet with my co-conspirators Kelly and our friend Liana and her husband Mark, and to head into Boston to meet Pete and Eliza. Harvard Square had been transformed into Hogwart's Square for the evening, and costumed fans, students, and tourists co-mingled as the night's festivities commenced. Harry and the Potters and their companion bands were playing (I had seen them earlier in the week) though we decided instead to have dinner nearby at Grendel's Den, a very nice place serving very small portions from a themed Harry Potter pre-fixe menu. I eschewed the pri-fixe menu for my dinner and that made all the difference, getting a well-done medium rare hunk o' burned cow instead, and loving it.

Books had been reserved for us all over town, hedging our bets. Though the Coop was bustling, it was so bustling we decided against sticking around. The line was staggeringly long, and the books hadn't yet been paid for, leaving us confident that at 12:05 we'd still be hours away from reading should we stay. Off we went instead to Pandemonium Books, which served us well.

A small Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Gaming shop of the kind that I loved as a teen, and grew out of as an adult, Pandemonium Books was perfect for our purposes. It had been hosting a release-party, with loads of misfits dressed as their favorite character. As we walked down the stairs I noticed that the basement was where they host their role-playing game tournaments. "It's full of games" I observe. "And a crapload of nerds" someone nearby helpfully adds.

Pre-paid, we get some coffee and hang out until 12 when everyone lines up. Almost before we know it, with books in our greedy little hands, we're heading back to the car - I check my watch, and it's only 12:05. Couldn't have gone better.

Back to our Harry Potter pad, and we settle in to read. Liana checks out by 3:30, Kelly and I are still going. At 4:00am Kelly wants to head to sleep, so I figure sure, let's get some sleep and get back to it in the morning. But I'm wide awake. Thankfully, less than 15 minutes later Kelly, also wide awake, says she's heading back to the book. Me too!

Watching the sunrise through our peripheral vision, we keep reading well into the morning. A quick break for some well-made breakfast by our hosts, and we enter the home stretch. Kelly finishes first, and her gasps, sighs, and crying both excite and worry me. She's nearly a hundred pages ahead of me (wicked fast reader, that Kelly is) so I know I've got stuff to look forward to.

By noon however, I needed to get going. I've been up all night, and I have a 4 hour drive ahead of me. Not wanting to risk attempting the drive even later in the day, I head back to CT, resuming my read after a long drive and dinner. By 11:00pm I'm finished. Sunday, I re-read the last few chapters, to ensure I got em straight.

So there it is. All over but the re-re-reading, and the post-game checking to see what was accurately predicted, and where I was all wrong.

I'll give you a few more days to read the book yourself before I get specific.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Adriaan said...

YOU SUUUUUCK!!! That sounds like one of the coolest weekends ever! I can't remember a cool weekend like that in a long time. Mt. Washington not included. I am still waiting for my HP book to arrive from Amazon.

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My HP arrived at 11 am on Saturday thanks to UPS, a wizardly-dressed driver (no kidding) and Amazon.

I'm on page 390 something. I'm not reading your blog again until I finish.

I had Jury Duty today and stupidly forgot to bring the book with me. I had 4 hours of sitting around and would have finished it! I didn't get seated on a jury, but as far as my office knows, I have jury duty tomorrow, too . . . .


At 10:35 AM, Blogger broadway2boston said...

So, I ditched my homework and finished reading Saturday afternoon instead. After that, I was good for little else and postponed my homework until Sunday. I got a thoroughly embarrassing grade on it, but I don't care. It was all worth it. :)
Thank you for including me in your long awaited quest. I was happy to host, and reading with the two of you was all sorts of wonderful.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Adriaan said...

Just read until 2:00 AM last night. Finished HP7. I thoroughly enjoyed every single page of it. I can't wait for this weekend to talk about HP. Willow is starting it now and I doubt will be finished by the weekend so you and I may have to braid each others hair as opposed to you and Willow. Although braiding my hair may be a bit more challenging.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Elise said...

Adriaan, you could braid the back hair! ;)

You guys are such geeks! But I love you all.

Hey, I thought they closed Grendel's Den. I loved the Fondue there.


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