Renaissance Men: The Plague of the Information Age

You follow fifteen odd blogs in your Google Reader. You subscribe to various YouTube channels. You have cable, or Netflix, or you bootleg like a true postmodern. You Tweet. You Facebook. You have an app for news. You have an app for Wikipedia. You have an app for Tumblr.

And what exactly do you get from the technology at your fingertips?

An inferiority complex.

Why aren’t you as good at blogging/photography/homeschooling/cooking/decorating as the Pioneer Woman? Why aren’t you an awesome vlogger like the Vlog Brothers? Why can’t you sew as good as that girl on YouTube? Or refinish furniture as good as the guy on that blog? Why does your little sister have so many more Twitter followers than you do? Why are you stuck on this Wikipedia bunny trail about polymaths?

And most importantly…

Why won’t your “Coercive Alan Rickman” meme take off like Chemistry Cat?

That’s why.

Okay, so we have the world at our fingertips. But the world is better than us at EVERYTHING. You can’t just master math, science, and art like a Da Vinci. There’s a whole slew of other stuff you feel like you have to be good at.

Because the Gregory Brothers are.

Or the kid in the HuffPost news article who is singlehandedly changing the course of civilization.

Sometimes, you just feel inadequate.

So bully for you, Internet. You are the only true modern Renaissance man.


Who Put the Who in Hogwarts

I rarely have strong opinions about movies.

As Robby will tell you.

As long as it’s entertaining and not intensely depressing, it fulfills its purpose in my book. But, with the last chapter of the Harry Potter franchise coming out in two weeks, I thought I’d put in my two cents about the casting of the eight movies.

Disclaimer: If you don’t like Harry Potter for whatever reason, you’re more than welcome to not read this post.


For the most part, I think the various casting directors did a great job of casting actors based upon J.K. Rowling’s characters.

With a few exceptions, of course.

1. Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman.

Mildly sarcastic, I guess. Evil, in a fumbling, Colonel Brandon-type way.

But menacing? Tortured? Charmingly slimy?

I don’t think so.

Although, he has the PERFECT voice for the part. So I am a bit torn.

This is a chapter illustration of Professor Snape drawn by Mary GrandPré from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Which leads me to my ideal Snape in a more perfect world…

Basil Rathbone. Fair enough, he’s dead, but wouldn’t he totally rock?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Alan Rickman in pretty much every other movie he’s been in. And he was the best choice of actors to play a character from the Marauder’s era.


2. James Potter, played by Adrian Rawlins.

No name actor. That’s fine. He doesn’t show up very much. But the guy is 53. James Potter died, at the latest, in his early 20s, so wouldn’t it stand to reason that his ghost would also be in his early 20s? Or do ghosts age in the Harry Potter world?

That would make Nearly Headless Nick look over 500 years old. And yet, he looks surprisingly like John Cleese…who’s only 71.

So who would I have liked to see as James instead?

Matt Smith. Of Doctor Who fame.

3. Then there’s Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman. Which is a whole ‘nother story.

Gary Oldman? GARY OLDMAN?!?!

My pick: Richard Armitage. Because unlike Gary “Old” Oldman, he is actually believable as a previously handsome, heartbreaker-type person. He even would have made a pretty good Snape if the immortal Sir Rathbone were unavailable.

Richard Armitage looking like a young, carefree, flying motorcycle-riding Sirius Black:

Richard Armitage looking like a post-Azkaban, tortured, unkempt, but still fairly good-looking underneath Sirius Black:

Gary Oldman? Pff.

4. And Remus Lupin, played by David Thewlis.

Again, the problem I have is that the Marauders were the most popular boys in school. And I just cannot imagine David Thewlis as a formerly popular kid, even one that has gone through the trauma of losing all three of his childhood best friends and being a werewolf.

My choice? Cary Elwes…

…preferably before he gained a ton of weight.

And only because Kenneth Brannagh played Lockhart in the second movie and couldn’t play both.

5. The Weasley twins, played by James and Oliver Phelps.

Okay, this one is pretty nit-picky.

They actually do a wonderful job as the twins. The only thing that bothers me is that they are supposed to be built more like Charlie Weasley — short and solid, while Ron is supposed to be built more like Percy and Bill — tall and thin. But they are tall and thin.


Other than that, they’re aces.

I should note, that all of my alternative choices are English actors because (other than Chris Columbus’s daughter as Susan Bones) all of the actors in the movies are from Great Britain. So there’s none of that fake Americo-British accent nonsense.

So no, Johnny Depp should NOT be on my list for Sirius Black.

I know you were thinking it.

On the other hand, the BEST casting choices by far were:

1. Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid.

Hand-picked by J.K. Rowling for the role, Coltrane recreates my image of bumbling, lovable Hagrid to a T.

2. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall.

Before the seventh book was completed, it was rumored that J.K. Rowling would have killed Professor McGonagall off in the books, if Smith died before the completion of the movies. Only Dame Maggie could develop a role so perfect that the author literally views her as the embodiment of the character.

3. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange.

Only the quirky, lunatic wife of Tim Burton could play quirky, lunatic, psychopath Bellatrix Lestrange with such ease.

And she is Tim Burton’s wife.

So it’s easy.

Well, there you have it. You know my thoughts on the Harry Potter cast, and you’ve probably surmised that I’ve read the books fairly meticulously over the years. But what can I say?

I’m kind of a fan.

[Image credits (here I go...): poodilywoots.livejournalHarry Potter LexiconWikipediajrlatenight.blogspotfymattsmithswardrobe.tumblereonline.comThe Hunkieskarenvwasylowskidaemonsmovies.comCJ Amazing's Cinematic Escapadesbadnewsdudes.comcinemaeye.comIMDBAllMoviePhoto.comIMDB]

We Interrupt This Program

Do yourself a favor. Listen to this:


Sufficiently hooked? The rest of the audio can be found on YouTube, here.

Or download it for free at the Internet Archive.

And if you’re feeling especially theatrical, here’s the full script.

This broadcast is a masterpiece. I always thought it seemed ridiculous that half of New Jersey flipped out when they heard it, but it really sounds legit the whole way through.

Bravo, Orson. Bravo.


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