Saturday, December 22, 2012

Walls Family Holiday Riddle 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy this year's riddle!

I am the shape of Captain Hook's arm
And a nostalgic Christmas charm.
In duplicity, I make a heart.
I'm a kitschy medium for art,
But to performers, I might cause alarm.

I sometimes have a wooden spine.
I resemble a barber's sign.
Jimmy Smits was heir to me.
I'm a cactus and a tree
And a servant for those who are blind.

I can be read, played, shot and licked.
I'd make a festive swizzle stick.
I'm an extra leg with a rubber foot
And a common bit of stocking loot
Dropped in by jolly old St. Nick.

I go up, then I come down.
I was made to curb sound.
I'm an alternative source of fuel.
You'll see me 'round at the tide of Yule,
But a game is my hometown.

I was the second known man on earth.
I conjure up rivalry and mirth.
I vary in color, species and size.
I'm a toothsome gem a small child espies.
Who else would appreciate my worth?

I alternate between hot and cold.
I am more than 300 years old.
A prop for tap,
I'm hard to snap.
An Aussie barkeep was once my role.

I'm the theme of a prosaic prayer.
I have a certain musical flair.
I'm the suffix of a violent storm,
But hang around in places that are warm,
Where I masquerade as a basket-chair.

I'm the crook of sheep-herding men,
And a renowned cinematic citizen,
Who just longed for his sled.
I'm an incomplete zed,
And hint at the blood shed for sin.

Unpublished Work © Heather K. Walls

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Harry Potter Movie Tour | United Kingdom

In September - October, I was very fortunate to be able to spend some time touring the United Kingdom and Ireland. Okay, you dragged it out of me, the tour was three weeks, and it was A-MA-ZING! One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing various Harry Potter filming sites. Now, Harry Potter's world isn't a real place on the map like the setting on our Twilight Movie Tour, so everything had to be CG'd or superimposed or edited together to make it seem real. So, as you are looking at my pics, use your imagination. Try reading it in your best British monologue. Or, better yet, go re-watch the films - HP7P1 comes out tomorrow/today on disc, you know! Alright, then! Jolly good!

As soon as we arrived in London, we made our way down to the London Eye, then cruised on the River Thames to the Tower of London. Along the way, we sailed underneath the Millennium Bridge, aka the Wobbly Bridge, which was used in the opening scene of HP6.

Millennium Bridge more widely known as the Wobbly Bridge

The next day, Stacey, Tracey and I went on a tour marketed specifically as Harry Potter. We did see a lot of HP sites, as you'll see below, but not as many as we would have liked, such as the building used for Gringotts Bank or The Leaky Cauldron. Don't get me wrong, the other stuff was fascinating. I felt quite learned following Nigel's bloody riveting hullabaloos every time we transitioned to a new period of ancient architecture. Doesn't it speak volumes about my level of cultural refinement?

Our first stop was the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral, which was used in filming a few hallway scenes at Hogwarts.

Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral used in Hogwarts hallway scenes

The entrance to Gryffindor Common Room was also shot here. In the films, there was a red door in the entryway. Can't you just imagine the painting of the fat lady hanging next to us? What was that password again?

Doorway used as entrance to Hogwarts' Gryffindor Common Room

More memorable is the alcove where Harry Potter hides out when he spots Snape talking to Malfoy in HP6. This alcove is also at the Cathedral. Stacey and I tried to conceal ourselves behind one of the columns. I think we would have been spotted.

Alcove at Gloucester Cathedral where Harry Potter hides from Malfoy and Snape in HP6

From here, we went on to Oxford, the college town home to Oxford University. I have to admit, I did not think Oxford such a large campus. It really is a self-containing town. My big question for Nigel was, does the university make the town or does the town make the university? He said that it was one of the great debates of the town. Oh, yea, score one for me in the astute column!

Within the town are even smaller hamlets that comprise each of the major schools of the university. We stopped first at Balliol College. The cloisters here were used in HP4, when the students were wearing Potter Stinks buttons and Mad Eye Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret. This was my first "a-ha, I recognize it" moment. And, yes, I felt like I had arrived. Isn't this shot brilliant? I'd say, I ought to be a photographer, but I'm sure that Stacey's photos turned out much better.

Cloisters at the Balliol College at Oxford were used in HP4

It's tempting to want to post all of the shots from this courtyard in this post, but I'll refrain and just add one more: a self-portrait of myself with Stacey in the background taking a self-portrait of herself! Nope, didn't plan that! But, from this shot, you can easily see the entrance they used to come in and go off camera during the scene.

Tree where Mad Eye Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret

Next, we stopped at the Bodleian College Library near Radcliffe Square. (Not making that up.) A few scenes and inspirations can be found here. First, this room was used in HP4 when Professor McGonagall teaches Ron how to dance just before the Yule Ball.

Room at Bodleian College at Oxford in which Professor McGonagall teaches Ron how to dance before the Yule Ball in HP4

Nigel speculated that this case inside the room was the inspiration for the vault lock sequence in Gringotts Bank. Things that make you go ... hmmm.

Inspiration for the vault sequence at Gringotts bank

Christ Church College was our next stop on the Oxford tur. (I didn't just misspell that word. It's how the Brits pronounce it.) Besides being one of the largest colleges of the University of Oxford, it also happens to be a popular filming location. The cloisters courtyard within the church were used to film winter scenes in HP2 and HP3.

Cloisters courtyard inside Christ Church College used for a few winter scenes in HP2 and HP3

Imagine snow falling! Stacey and I positioned ourselves inside one of the open-air windows.

Window at Cloisters inside Christ Church College at Oxford University

Also at Christ Church is the long room that inspired the Great Hall at Hogwarts in the film, its walls covered in paintings much like the renown School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If you look closely, you'll see that there are only three table rows. If I recall correctly, Nigel said they CG'd the other row into the scene in order to accommodate all four houses of students.

Inspiration room for the Great Hall at Hogwarts

The paintings here were the inspiration for the moving pictures in the films. Nigel pointed out that this portrait of Thomas Andrew Terance, if I'm deciphering the nameplate correctly, literally seemed to move as we were walking past. I think Nigel was trying to impress us, but we know this is because the painting lacks a third dimension. Oh, Nigel!

The piece de resistance, which wasn't part of the original tur, but a landmark we requested, was to see the house used as Four Privet Drive, which is located in the lih'le burough of Picket Post Close.

Picket Post Close

The house appeared to be undergoing renovations, given the dumpster in front. And, of course, it was only used in HP1, before Warner Brothers constructed its own set.

Four Privet Drive

Back in London, while were taking some night shots, we stood on the Lambeth Bridge, the same one the Knight Bus is on when it squeezes in between two other cars. Just so happens that scene was filmed at night! Stacey got a cool time-delayed shot with cars streaking past. I would link to it here if Stacey had it posted somewhere. =]

Lambeth Bridge at night

A few days later when we were in the Scottish Highlands, our wonderful tur director Konrad pointed out that majestic Glencoe is where the flying car from HP2 was CG'd into the mountains here. Look familiar?

Glencoe Mountains, Scotland

At Edinburgh Castle, J.K. Rowling gave a reading in part of the Governor's house, because it resembles Hogwarts.

Edinburgh Castle Governor's House

Finally, one night we happened to be eating dinner at Merchant's, which is just under the George IV Bridge, where, you guessed it, The Elephant House is located. Stacey and I figured this out from the map and took a little stroll up the street to the bridge level just to see the famous cafe where the story was born. Dulce et decorum!

The Elephant House

Here is approximately where J. K. Rowling sat crafting the first installment of her legendary tale while she gazed out at Edinburgh Castle. How I wish I had time to sit here and sip some coffee!

Table near where J.K. Rowling sat to pen first installment of Harry Potter

Me in front of The Elephant House

I suppose I'll just have to return! Who wants to go with me?
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