The Dumbledorks

It's Friday, which I am fairly certain means all Catholics must send me their Beef Jerky. It's Friday the 13th, which I am even more certain means that all pretty young thangs must send me pictures of them in wet tee shirts.

It is also International Farfelonus Day (I will let you figure it out). And since I plan on spending the weekend in traction (eating my beef jerky and looking through photographs that came in the mail), Saturday is International Un-Birthday Day (think Wedding Crashers meets Chuck-E-Cheese) and Sunday ends the week with International Do a Favor Day. (Do me a favor: LEAVE COMMENTS!)

I know some of you might want to see the Harry Potter movie, but are scared of the crowds and wild horses could not drag you there on opening weekend. We can argue about that another time. The point is, if your kid is aching for some quality entertainment, consider renting TREASURE PLANET (the link takes you to my Peabody award-winning review). For you adults hankering British people doing strange things others do not understand, why not rent DIRTY PRETTY THINGS. Both movies are not only guaranteed winners that will elate your soul, but make you much more likely to obey me when I give you more controversial recommendations (like bringing me the head of Colonel Montoya, and abstaining from all forms of zinc).


The Hyperion Chronicles
"I shoulda eaten the Raviolis!"

#456 The Dumbledorks

When the Harry Potter movies first came out it was Koz with whom I made midnight premiere pilgrimages. This in itself was nothing new; we saw many movies together. However, the difference this time was that he was the driving force. Up until the summer of '01 I was deeply suspicious of Harry Potter, refusing to read any of the books. Koz leant me the first four, imploring me to read. That was enough of a motivation right there. Koz taking an interest in a book is kind of like a young hot woman coming up to you on a crowded street; it does not make much sense, but you happily accept the situation without questioning too much.

My initial reservations centered on two themes. 1) Almost every time a book, movie or whatever gets that much press there is overhyping galore. And 2) I was pissed that my own favorite book series—Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time—was not getting the same amount of attention. You know me: I always want the higher quality items to be recognized, which almost never happens. However, as I read those first four books in a little over two days I realized that whatever other series might be better, and whatever overhype there was, Harry Potter was a fine tale, working on several different levels. (It is this facet that I think so many of the fans seem completely oblivious of, and I renew my determination to write an epic column of how Harry and Voldemort are the same person, but another time.)

Between the second and third Harry Potter movies, I moved to Canada, and started seeing the films with my sister Jerrica. This brought up a conflict of interest now that I was back in Georgia, one she fixed by proposing a trip up to Atlanta. We would have a leisurely dinner with friends discussing movies, old times (and that Wittgenstein I told you about), and then see the premiere of Harry Potter V, and then drive back. As readers will recall from my epic trip back in February to see all five Best Picture nominees, the chance of my back and ankles making it were slim, but you do what you got to do.

But first, we needed snacks.

Monday night at 2:00 am, Jerrica and I traveled to Wal-Mart to procure movie snacks. I tell you the truth: I was like a kid in a giant store. I was running (well, hobbling) from aisle to aisle, completely forgetting our list, and pulling everything that looked good. At one point Jerrica came back from some other section and looked with horror at the cart.

"This is just one movie, you know!"

"Yeah, but we may need all this stuff!"

She pulled out a pie-pan of ready-to-bake S'mores.

"S'mores?" She challenged.

"Who doesn't like S'mores?" I countered.

"Yeah, they are great, if you are camping! Are you going to have a campfire IN THE THEATRE?????"

Nobody understands me.

After some negotiation, this is what we got:

  • Two bags of Beef Jerky (Teriyaki and Sweet & Hot)
  • Two cans of Pringles (Regular and Loaded Baked Potato; not worth the fuss, as you can't distinguish flavors)
  • Box of Sour Patch Kids
  • Large Box of Milk Duds

  • Large Package of Retro Starburst (In case you were wondering, the flavors were Disco-Berry; Hey, Mango-rena; Optimus Lime; Psychedeli-Melon. They are pretty good, but I would stay Berries and Crème and especially Baja California and Tropical are better overall packages)
  • Package of Trail Mix (with dried pineapple and yogurt covered something I never did figure out, but they were good)
  • Four cans of Sobe Energy Drinks (so Hyperion could make it back)
  • Two bottles of flavored Water (White Grape and Peach)

  • One package of Chick-O-Sticks (These are so good. Peanut Butter and toasted coconut. I cannot believe they are not more beloved)

  • One large bag of Carnival Skittles (The Flavors were Cotton Candy; Bubblegum; Candy Apple; Red Licorice; Green Slushy. In all honesty, these flavors do not hold up at all, but I would still recommend trying them because they are so completely different from the normal range of Skittles flavors that I do not think you will feel cheated)
  • One box of Corn Pops; Chocolate/Peanut Butter (In all honesty, they were just like Chocolate Peanut Butter cereal made by other brands, which is still arguably the best cereal ever made, but can you imagine how amazing if you have the softness of corn pops with a chocolate peanut butter flavor? Or Berries? I would give up the lives of one of my cousins to make this happen; but not you, Jonny.)

In February, I wrote at length about Movie Cereal, but you have to admit, it is a better idea than anything you have ever heard of in your entire life, and when I say that, I am assuming you were in the room with Dr. Jonas Salk when he invented fried cheese. I am not going to disrespect popcorn and Jujubes (although; in a related item, apparently some people do not know how to pronounce it), but Movie Cereal is such a perfect fit, I simply fail to understand why theatres do not sell it. They could sell them in 3-ounce chip bags, which would reduce garbage and noise (you just tip the bag into your mouth). Who wouldn't buy Movie Cereal? Dried cereal gives you that sugar rush, but has less sugar than the candy and is less messy than chocolate. Are you telling me that parents would rather their kids gorge on Sour Patch kids? I become more and more convinced that this idea simply MUST HAPPEN. And when it does, I want some credit.

Anyway, that was the list. I know some of you are wondering why I had to detail all that, but I feel you need to know these things. We were ready to roll. (It should be noted that since I refused to eat any of our movie snacks before the movies (which mostly had to do with Jerrica keeping them in her room, but still; the intention was there), we needed different snacks for the two-hour trip to Atlanta. This turned out to be a Twinkie, Pudding snack pack (Chocolate and Chocolate Fudge), and a pepperoni stick my dad bought me. You might wonder why I would need to eat the two hours before dinner, but only if you have never met me.)


The plan was to meet at Carrabba's, which is possibly my favorite chain restaurant of all time. I love Love LOVE their food. I have never been to Sicily, but I feel very comfortable asserting that Carrabba's makes food better than anything they have over there.

Meeting us were Carlos and his wife Gadget, Sea Hag, my brother Achmed (more on him in a moment), and supposedly Koz and his wife. Koz was supposed to make the reservations, but in the most shocking development since the sun came up this morning, he did not. (Not only that, but he was supposed to tell me for sure if Teela was coming, which he finally did, when they sat down at the restaurant.)

I know I rag on Koz quite a bit, but the truth is I love him and Teela very much. In fact, this became the immediate topic of conversation when they sat down, as Teela was pregnant, and it turns out I was staying with them at or around the time it happened. Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am the father of Teela's second child. We have blood tests for that. However, I am going to say that Koz is perhaps the best sport I know. If the group had made jokes about Carlos the way we did Koz, there would have been more than one fistfight. I can virtually guarantee it.

There were a few negative spots, but before I get to those, I want to give you the Questions of the Day. As you know, every time I have dinner with friends I give out Three Questions (later, if worthy, to be chronicled in these pages.) The questions are usually provocative and meant to get people talking. In honor of the evening, we had Harry Potter-themed questions. I am giving them to you now so you can think about them for a while (and see if you come up with anything better than the group). The questions were:

1) In honor of the 5th movie, what is your favorite 5th anything?

2) What is a really cool band name that you would only get the significance of if you knew of the Harry Potter universe. (For example, if I called my band Goblet of Fire a non-fan might get that, since the movies are so prevalent in pop culture. However, if I called my band The Huffle Puffs only Harry Potter fans would get it, though all would enjoy.)

3) Who (or what) is your favorite Harry?

One of the arguments Jerrica and I had was whether I could take my wizard. A few months ago, Jerrica returned from the Renaissance Faire with a giant wizard (seen above next to a chair, so you can see how big he is.) At first we totally did not get along, as he is an inveterate lecher constantly on the lookout for tail, and ardent feminist that I am, I simply cannot condone such behavior. However, to keep the family happy we made peace. Oh, and his name is Pythagoras.

Well, Jerrica did not want him in the restaurant with us, despite how much I argued that Pythy would not eat much. After much debate, I won that argument, but you should have heard her howl when I insisted she buy three movie tickets online!

The next bone of contention was my brother Achmed. For reasons only known to him, he has refused to read or watch any of the Harry Potter movies. We rarely see Achmed, and half the reason to trek all the way up to Atlanta was to spend some time with him. However, he REFUSED to see a midnight movie of Harry Potter, and instead wanted us to watch TRANSFORMERS with him. (When he found out I had not seen it yet he almost quit talking to me, but I pointed out, "How would I be able to tell it was for TRANSFORMERS and not just your normal behavior?" and he relented.) While I would have totally loved to see TRANSFORMERS with Achmed, it did seem like dinner with friends would be better time spent, and he reluctantly agreed.

Perhaps my biggest regret of the evening was the food. I love the atmosphere but make no mistake: you go to Carrabba's for the food. Are you one of those people who agonize over what to get, and then later second guess yourself? Um…me neither. I was just checking.

For years, my favorite thing to get was a bowl of Minestrone soup. Best Minestrone soup ever. (EVER!) Then one day we were at a Carrabba's and the waitress said that Minestrone was actually the least good of the three, topped by Lentils and Sausage and especially the Mama Mandola's Sicilian Chicken. I tried the Sicilian Chicken and had to agree it was out of this world. (I am not sure if this is legal, but I found a site that claims to have the recipe, if you want to try it.)

My plan was to not just get a cup, but a bowl, which is huge, and not just half way filled like they normally do, but all the way. Sadly, I just got the normal portion for a bowl, and when I told our server, she said I had only been charged for a cup. BUT I WANTED THE FULL BOWL!!! I should have ordered a second bowl, and a bowl of Minestrone too. I guess I did not want the people at the table to think I was a glutton, but why would I worry about that? They know!

I got pork chops Marsala with the fettuccine alfredo as the side. (I recommend the fettuccine over the mashed potatoes for this dish because the Marsala sauce is so thick and tangy you need something creamy to cut through). Ginger ale with lime was a perfect drink. I have nothing but good things to say about all of that (although later I tossed and turned for hours, wondering if I should have gotten steak Marsala, and if you think I'm kidding, you really don't know me.) There was also this amazing bread with sauce. They bring out like 10 spices on a little plate and drizzle EVOO over them. Absolutely incredible. Between regular bread and soup bread, I think I had over 20 pieces.

My biggest mistake (besides soup-gate) was that Sea Hag got Quattro Formaggi Ravioli, and between the soup and bread she did not eat very much of hers. She even offered to let me have the rest but I demurred, and even now, sitting here writing about it, I am still upset!


We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease,
We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.
Four things greater than all things are, --
Women and Horses and Power and War.

Oh, the things we talked about! I am so tempted to go into details (like when Koz went to the bathroom and the subject of the Bachelor Party and subsequent Wedding Night performance came up), but perhaps I leave that to the night. Our initial server was Katie, who gave as good as she got (although later we ran her off sick; but I thought she just could not answer the questions). Our next server called herself "Kristen or Taco, whichever you prefer." I immediately dubbed her "Kako" and even found a picture.

Okay, as to those questions. I am omitting the answers to the second one because I decided to make a top ten list. (Below) Koz said his fifth would be Gin, and his favorite Harry was Harry Reames. No one at the table got the joke. (I am rather thankful my sister did not.) Teela went with THE 5TH ELEMENT and Billy Crystal's character in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Jerrica completely froze up, but she bought snacks so I guess she is off the hook.

Achmed was torn. He wanted to do a 5th of whiskey, and then the 5th Element one. "They've taken alcohol and movies from me! What more is there?" he exclaimed. Finally, he went with the 5th 3rd Bank and Dirty Harry.

Carlos went with Henry V and Harry Crumb, two great answers, while his wife Gadget when with Carlos V (did she mean the Holy Roman Emperor, or her husband, who is technically a fifth?), and Harry Connick Jr. Sea Hag went with the 5th Amendment and Harry and the Hendersons. Kako went with Beethoven's 5th Symphony and Hairy Palms, which surprised me that it took an outsider to make a rather obvious joke.

As for me, I was tempted to go with the Norwegian pejorative Harry (quite the put-down there apparently, which makes one wonder how Harry Potter translates), but instead am going with Seppuku, by Frisbee if possible. As for my fifth, I cannot see my way around 5 B.C. Why, you might ask? Well, some dude named Joshua was born then. Good enough for me.

(If you have better answers to the three questions, leave them in the Comments.)

I need to wrap this column up, so I will zip through the rest. The movie I have told you about (you can read the full review here), but a couple of highlights that did not make the review:

Watching a movie with Carlos is a trip in and of itself. The two of us did our famous birdcall right as the Dark WB logo came up, which was after the applause had died down, and quite well received.

Speaking of applause, the reason I love premieres and opening nights so much is that the audience is into it. Movies are at least 20 times better when there is an energy in the crowd, a feeling of excitement of people who want to be there and want to enjoy the movie. (Must be what live music connoisseurs talk about.)

Carlos and I had too many funny little jokes to repeat here. Actually, an entire column is needed for Carlos's Movie-isms, but I did want to mention one in case you wanted to use it yourself. There is some part of the movie where Harry is trying to talk to Cho and the Weasley twins are in the way. Carlos mutters under his breath, "Quit wand-blocking him!"

Later during the credits (which I made us all watch), that disclaimer comes up about how nothing in the movie is supposed to represent real life. "FICTITIOUS!" I yelped loudly. "I thought this was a documentary!" This seemed to go over well.

After the movie, Carlos talked me into going over to Steak and Shake to talk about the differences between the Jacquiere Rebellion of 1358 and the Wat Tyler Revolt of 1382. I was tempted to think he just might have a paper to write on the subject, but maybe he just loves his European history, right?

Then we came home, finally arriving at 7:30 am, 13 hours after we started. I know I skipped a lot there at the end but the column is running long and I really do want to sneak in this Top Ten List. I took the various answers people gave for "Best Harry Potter-eque Band Name" and ranked them up. If you do this at work today, remember: the band name must be cool and interesting on its own, but only understandable if you are a Harry Potter fan. Here you go:


(Suggested band type in parenthesis, as well as who thought of it if not me)

#10 The Weaseleys (Weezer crossed with Hanson; Carlos) – If they were all redheads, all the better!

#9 Gillyweed (College Rock; think Phish; Gadget) – I think you know what weed their listeners would support

#8 Goldensnitch (Rock; Teela) – Actually this would make a great Harry Potter Bond hybrid, huh?

#7 The Dumble Doors (Psychedelic Acid-folk; Kaida) – Maybe if you put an album cover with Jim Morrison on stage he could sing along!

#6 Levy o'SAH! (Celtic) – This is neither here nor there, but I wonder what it would be like if the soundtrack to Harry Potter V switched with THE DEPARTED. You're curious, aren't you?

#5 Parseltongue (Gothic) – I can totally see them hooking up with Marilyn Manson and The Chemical Brothers for a Monsters of Goth tour

#4 Zombie Dumbledore (Pop; Sea Hag) – Not only would they write infectious beats, but I bet this would make a great internet cartoon

#3 Hermione's Hymen (Chick Rock) – And somewhere the Indigo Girls just raised their heads from slumber. (Hey, I just thought of this as I am writing it up, but wouldn't Ravenclaw be a great band in the vein of Pussycat Dolls?)

#2 Diagon Alley (Alternative; Koz) – In the Great "E Street Band" mode, Diagon Alley just sounds cool. Is that where they are from? Where they are going? I cannot wait to listen!

And the number one Harry Potter band name….

#1 Mudblood (Speed Metal) – They are dark, they are sinister, and if you are not careful, your 12-year-old daughter will hook up with the drummer.



Anonymous said...

Love the Indigo Girls comment - LOL

Sweet I made #2 on the top 10 (If it were my list you'd have been #2- but doesn't everyone like their own Idea the best.)

Wand-blocking haha sorry I missed out on that moment.

Sea Hag said...

Hey, I didn't get props for Hermione's Hymen!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to point out that there was massive ammounts of popcorn, which I had to journey to ye old lobby about 8 times for. And just to cause you more agony...the steak marsala was amazing!