Daily Archives: July 19, 2009

The Harry Potter Generation

My kids (girl:13, girl:9, boy :8) all have one thing thing they all have in common: a complete and thorough knowledge of the works of JK Rowling. I remember back in 1997 first being asked to buy a Harry Potter book. i thought nothing of it.

This afternoon we all went to see THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE (part one) movie at the local luxuryplex. Even the most minor deviations from the sacred text were lambasted by my highly literate and knowledgable crew. “The Weasleys house never burned down in the book!” etc.

i have often wondered what the long-term impact of the Harry Potter books on this generation will be. I’m guessing it will be like Star Wars was on mine. an impact like a comet that will reverberate for a very long time.

firstly there is the very act of actually completing all seven or eight books. one more detailed than the other — my eight year old son recently read all eight in a few months. it encourages and demands voracious reading. and like the old saying says, once your mind is stretched it never goes back to its original shape. very true.

consequently my kids are world champion readers thanks to JK Rowling. they read and write incessantly. which runs counter to the millenial stereotype of short attention spans and texting as language. these kids are a throwback to the 1930s. they make my generation look like the tubers that we were.

they have a real good grasp of what they’re interested in. and it’s a very balanced mix. they are not wowed or enamored of any particular medium. unlike their internet crazed elders. i largely have my splendid wife to thank for all this goodness and I also realize that my kids aren’t representative of anything but my kids. but the success of the HP books has been about as big anything since the beatles.

books. who ever would have thought that? reading! kids today etc…

How to cope when one’s horse mounts a Honda Civic

one last NYC-based horsey tale.

one night i was dropping a couple to an italian restaurant on third avenue on the lower east side of Manhattan. after dropping the couple off I took an westbound one-way street bordering Gramercy Park back to the nearest northerly pointing avenue that would take me back to Central Park.

i noticed when we (the horse and I) were about halfway up the street that the street lights were out and there was a mechanical backhoe digger (JCB) next to them. it was only then that i noticed my horse was acting skittish and seemed nervous about passing the backhoe, which in all honesty did look like a bit like a dragon in the poor light.

when horses are nervous about something their instinct is to run away from it. so my horse stopped and started backing up. unfortunately it was tethered to my carriage and it was a one way street down which we had already progressed around two thirds of the way. there was no going back.

i started to appreciate the extent of my horses fear of mechanical diggers only when its legs made contact with a New Jersey registered red Honda Civic. to my great surprise my horse mounted the front (hood here, bonnet in UK) of the car with its front hooves. at that point i kind of lost it. and jumped onto the front of the car and grabbed my horse’s bridle and started shouting at it in a voice that clearly communicated that i was pissed off, to any species. I pulled the horse off the car and steadied her nerves. I realized she was scared shitless of the digger in the dark.
but also knew she had to be driven past it too.

i looked back down the street. it was completely empty. not a single new yorker had witnessed my horse jumping on a car. phew! then i saw that in the process one of the rubber rims on the rear carriage wheels had come loose in the altercation. problem! big problem.

just then what can only be described as yer classic 1940s movie drunk come wobbling and staggering down the street. he sees me and the horse and without missing a beat slurs: “Hey mister, i think your horse needs some water!”. i desperately handed him a tire iron and asked if he could put the rubber rim back on the wheel. to my eternal surprise he did it like it was second nature. perhaps BECAUSE he was so drunk. in seconds it was back on.

i thanked the movie drunk profusely and stood up in the front of the carriage and drew the long flailing whip which was mostly for decoration but in occasions like these could prove invaluable. and waited for a green light. I then cracked the whip in the air like i’d never cracked it before. i’d like to point out to you PETA types that i didn’t actually whip the horse. just the air around the horse. it’s the CRACK! sound that gets them going. not the contact of the whip on their flesh.

my horse took off like a rocket shying away from the mechanical digger as it went past it.

i have often wondered about the bewildered reaction of the New Jersey Honda driver who returned back to his parked car to find actual hoof-prints on his hood.

sorry dude! it was my horse, not the reincarnation of the dark lord.