“Cho Chang,” Harry called from across the hallway, and quickly closed the distance between them, like some sort of sexually compelling locomotive. “The Yule Ball is tomorrow. I wish to acquire you for it. Say yes, now, with your mouth, before I cruelly crush it against my own, like some sort of sexual flower.”
“Oh. Harry,” Cho said, “I’m sorry but someone’s already asked me. And well, I’ve, I’ve said I’ll go with him.”
“I refuse to allow you to live in the world of the mediocre,” Harry said, eyes flashing flint and fire. “You are the only acceptable mate for me. I will hold you in my arms in front of our peers at the Yule Ball. Reconcile yourself to your fate, and wear something red or purple.”
“Harry, I’m sorry, but –”
“You’ll wear your hair down,” he said carelessly. “It suits you best that way. I have nothing left to say to you at present. I don’t think I’ll kiss you just yet. Go make whatever feminine preparations you have to make before tomorrow night.”
“Your watch is off by fourteen seconds,” he said before turning to leave. “Unless you plan on making imprecision a habit, I suggest you correct it before I see you again.”
“Harry,” Hermione called out breathlessly, scurrying to catch up with him, only no one could ever catch up with him, for he walked alone, “I got you a Christmas present. Happy — Happy Christmas, Harry.”
It was a sweater she had knitted herself with the answer to every exam they’d be taking for the rest of the year magically and invisibly sewn into the fabric. Harry tossed it in his book bag.
“I got you a present too,” Harry said. Hermione’s smile widened.
“My present is the truth,” he said. “You don’t look very good in green. I don’t know why you’re always wearing it.”
“If you want to know what a man’s like,” Dumbledore said, “take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
Harry leaned back in his chair. “No man is my equal.”
“Harry,” Dumbledore said sadly, “you must not compare others so harshly against yourself. It is our duty to those weaker than ourselves to–”
“I don’t make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything.”
“You preach selflessness,” Harry said, “but what you really mean is slavery to the collective.” And with that, Harry awarded himself six O.W.L.s — which was his right as an individual — and Disapparated to Hogsmeade.
“The drinking age is fundamentally oppressive,” he explained to Madame Rosmerta. “Under a truly federalist system, youthful drinking is rightly governed by the laws of common sense and natural consequences. One fire-whiskey, please.”
Malfoy flashed his SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY/POTTER STINKS badge from across the table. Ron sneered. “Cedric Diggory,” he said. “Thinks he’s so great. He’s not so great.”
“Jealousy is a quality of the womanish and the poor,” Harry said, without malice, finishing a simple dish of plums. “I suggest you free yourself from it.”
The merpeople brandished their spears fiercely. Harry looked around. Ron, Hermione and Gabrielle Delacour drifted lazily through the water, arms bound uselessly behind their backs. Where was Fleur? And where was Krum?
Harry turned to face the merpeople. “The true test is not whether a Triwizard Champion can perform an act of charity — an act of mercy — whether I am capable of saving these victims, these leechers, these children. I can, I assure you. The question is whether I can do without them, whether I can exist solely as my own entity. Whether I can perform an act of accomplishment.”
Harry carefully began placing the heaviest stones he could carry over the rope connecting Ron and Hermione, until they were hopelessly enmeshed in the lake bed.
“The answer, of course,” he said clearly, “is that I can.” He swam away. He swam alone. He had lost the task, perhaps, but he had won the only tournament that truly matters — the tournament of self.
“I hope you’re not expecting me to apologize,” Harry said without looking up the next day when a very muddy and a very angry-looking Ron and Hermione appeared in front of the door to his study. “And don’t come any closer. You’ll track lake water all over my new rug.”
“Listen, Harry,” Cedric asked. “The third challenge. Do you have any idea what it’s about? I can’t seem to figure out the last clue for the life of me.”
“If you want my advice, Cedric, you’ve made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?”
Cedric shook his head. “How do you always manage to decide?”
“How can you let others decide for you?”
“Do you always have to have a purpose? Do you always have to be so damn serious? Can’t you ever do things without reason, just like everybody else? You’re so serious, so old. Everything’s important with you, everything’s great, significant in some way, every minute, even when you keep still. Can’t you ever be comfortable–and unimportant?”
“No.” Harry turned away. “I have to go think about trains now. Excuse me.”
“Kill the spare,” whispered a hazy voice out of the darkness, and Harry heard “AVADA KEDAVRA,” and he saw a flash of green light, and Cedric was dead.
“A pity,” Harry said. “He would have made quite a fine architect, had he lived.”
“Quiet, boy!” Voldemort hissed. “I have you now.” He turned to face his followers, who were not being recompensed financially according to their service, which was ridiculous. “You know of course, that they have called this boy my downfall? You all know that on the night I lost my powers and my body, I tried to kill him. His mother died in the attempt to save him — and unwittingly provided him with a protection I admit I had not foreseen… I could not touch the boy. His mother left upon him the traces of her sacrifice… This is old magic, I should have remembered it, I was foolish to overlook it… but no matter. I can touch him now.”
“How dare you laugh at your death, you impertinent boy,” Voldemort snarled.
“My mother’s death was unnecessary,” Harry said. “It is not because she refused to honor her own life that you cannot touch me. It is because I have self-respect.”
“Impossible!” Voldemort cried. He shot all sorts of magic at Harry, but it didn’t work.
“Self-respect is something that can’t be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man’s pretense at it.” Harry turned to Voldemort’s followers. “You are fools — mediocre fools — because you work not for money but for the approval of others, for the approval of another man.”
“And what of that man?” Voldemort asked dangerously. “What do you think of me, Potter?”
“But I don’t think of you,” Harry said. He Disapparated back to Hogsmeade. “I only think about trains.”
He ordered another fire-whiskey and thought about trains.
Nearly a year ago we reported on changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS) that involved renaming some of its services and the introduction of a freshly-designed set of boxes, envelopes, and tubes that were received with a modestly encouraging response. More interesting than the final result was that we were having a conversation about design and USPS at all. At the time, I closed my first paragraph of that post with "No credit given" for who had designed those well-intentioned boxes. New York, NY-based GrandArmy recently posted a comprehensive page with their work for USPS that shows a large breadth of work to reposition the visual retail presence and in-store experience of more than 30,000 locations. Included in the scope of work was the redesign of the packaging which, as you will see at the end of the post, had a little more flair to it than what was finally produced by another vendor. To continue the unexpected conversation about design and USPS here is a look at what is basically a complete redesign of the USPS (sans logo).
The United States Postal Service is one of America's great infrastructure achievements. In addition to being a technical marvel, it is also a storied and hallowed institution. From the Pony Express to the first letters sent by air-mail, few things are so uniquely American.
Plagued by budget woes in the modern era — the USPS sought to modernize its image, and more importantly, streamline the retail experience with clear signage, way-finding and packaging.
USPS retail locations manage to be some of the first world's most depressing "retail" experiences. They are drab, there are long lines, the clerks are rarely in a good mood, and there is too much information posted everywhere that makes little sense. Any small change that improves that experience would be a bonus. To the rescue: Gotham and a couple of condensed styles of Knockout. Perhaps a clear answer for us designers but, as GrandArmy tells me, it wasn't an easy sell to USPS: "Typography was a big part of the discussions. We had to spend a while justifying our choices and petitioning for them to purchase the right fonts — but in the end they were reasonable. They appreciate good design and were happy we cared so much about their brand."
GrandArmy developed a total re-design of the USPS in-store experience. A robust three-bar layout system was applied to all materials, from menu-boards to hang tags to welcome signs to kiosks and so on. This system holds together a huge variety of collateral. Ancillary materials include emotive creed posters, window clings, a mobile app, and shipping box design (since modified by an external team.)
We wanted to create a visual language that paid homage to USPS' heritage, but was a modern, clear and simple update. There are a lot of contemporary brands that try to wrap themselves in the American flag — but our case to USPS was that here is a brand that actually deserves it. So a contemporary update on Americana, with modern, clear grids and hard-working typography — that was our brief to ourselves. In the end, the system is extraordinarily simple. Red, white and blue color fields separate every piece along consistent ratios, and these ratios inform headline and body copy sizes.
Like the recent Domino's Pizza post about their type family, this isn't a straightforward identity redesign but its implications in how we perceive the USPS brand can be as significant as changing its logo. (Not quite, but you get my point). GrandArmy's guidelines and efforts in redesigning "boards" are about communicating in a clear, elegant, moderately exciting language. These are far and away more positive adjectives than anyone thinks of when thinking of the USPS's communication efforts. Without any overly fancy design tricks — this is basically a typographic, hierarchy exercise on steroids — GrandArmy has set up a lovely and clear system that is helpful and attractive.
I would love to do another follow-up post in a year and see if the boards above look as good in the actual locations as they do in these handsome photographs. My guess is "not as much" but I do think they have the potential of starting a broader transformation of the USPS in-store experience… that is, assuming there is any money for the poor organization to implement changes.
I should probably elaborate on the above but, no: Yeah!
Finally, we come to the boxes. I wanted to keep them at the end so you would see the progression and how they are the culmination of all of the more "basic" work, coming together in, well, a tight little package. Although the packaging that launched a year ago was a step up from its predecessor, the proposed and submitted designs by GrandArmy had that extra cohesiveness and (as evident in the two boxes directly above) more Pow. Yup, pow. More of it. With any luck some of the more expressive traits of these boxes will find their way to the real boxes. Probably not. But it's definitely encouraging to see the USPS even engaging a design firm and working to establish a contemporary presence.
To conclude: Yeah!
The "How To Tell If You're In" series is one of my very favorite things.
Previously in this series.
You are living intimately with another young girl in a French military barracks.
You become curiously fascinated with your fiancé’s aunt.
You keep a woman’s portrait in a cigarette box on your dressing table and brush away all inquiries about her identity.
You meet a woman with her hair tumbled like a young boy’s.
You seduce a young girl in your sorority, and when you are caught, you try to have her institutionalized.
Sex with your boyfriend is the most miserable and disgusting thing that’s ever happened to you.
You open the front door to greet a total stranger and inform her you are in love with her.
You are an artist, and you draw your models nude or not at all.
The faint odour of pomade lingers wherever you go.
Your boyfriend is glad to learn you’re not running around with other fellows.
You go to the nurse because you think you might be a lesbian. You seduce her, just to make sure.
You feel sorry for men by virtue of them just being men. They can never know what you know.
You want to move in with a woman you have known less than a week.
When you say the word “Lesbian” in your head, you capitalize it.
You make your girlfriend go on a date with a boy, because you couldn’t live with yourself if she didn’t at least try to hide who she is.
Your appetite is gone.
You dress very carefully.
You live with a couple, a husband and wife, who take turns each night to knock on your door. You hate them both.
A man calls you stark, raving mad.
A woman calls you.
You become suddenly aware that someone’s tongue is in your ear.
You describe lesbian sex as an all-encompassing ecstatic storm.
All of your Scotch bottles are half empty.
Your ex may or may not be insane.
You may or may not be insane.
Your girlfriend and her ex confront each other in a blaze of gunfire and scandal. Four weeks later, you move to Florida.
So here’s some good news for a change. Arian Foster, well known for being generally awesome most of the time, has once again brightened our day by trolling the media. In a transcript of an interview posted on CSNHouston.com, Foster answered an interviewer’s questions with the exact right answer to please sportswriters, the media, and the fans. Only problem is, he did it 11 times in a row:
Question: How do you feel? Were you 100 percent out there today?
Foster: I’m just out here trying to be the best teammate I can be and I’m gonna work hard at doing that.
Q: Physically, you’re good to go?
F: I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be, man.
Q: Arian, can you tell us exactly what kept you out, what was going on?
F: Yeah, man. I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be, you know. I’m gonna work hard at doing that.
Q: What was physically wrong with you?
F: Yeah, I’m just out here, working hard every single day, trying to be the best teammate I can be.
Q: What did it mean to be able to get back out here and start working, Arian? And get back with your teammates?
F: You know, being with your teammates and being the best teammate you can be is what you strive to do. So that’s what I’m out here for.
Q: Your teammates talk about how they want to see you out here. They know what you mean to this ballclub. What does all that stuff mean to you, Arian?
F: Yeah, man. When you’re the best teammate you can be, you just work hard at doing that every single day. That’s what we’re out here trying to do.
Q: Is your body starting to break down?
F: Yeah, man. I’m just out here trying to be the best teammate I can be. And I’m gonna work hard at doing that.
Q: How’s that coming, Arian, your progress with being a better teammate?
F: Yeah, you know, I’m just, every single day, just trying to be a better teammate, man.
Q: What do you think about these fans going crazy for you guys?
F: Yeah, man. I’m just out here trying to be the best teammate I can be. And I’m going to continue doing that.
Q: Is there any difference in the way you felt physically, feel stronger?
F: Yeah, man. I’m just out here trying to be the best teammate I can be. And I’m just going to continue to do that.
Q: What was the offseason like, working at your brother’s facility, different than other previous seasons?
F: Yeah, just every single day, man, just working hard, trying to be the best teammate I can be.
Reporter: You got that down.
Foster: Thank you.
Reporter: You’re welcome.
Foster: Y’all take care.
Arian Foster is a national treasure.
You have to click through for it, but good lord it's worth it.
Dear snow, vanilla ice cream, the color on the flag that’s not red or blue, and your iPod cord; it’s over. There’s a new whitest thing ever and its name is Peyton Manning dancing to “Rocky Top.” The video comes courtesy of 9News in Denver who recorded The Broncos morning stretch and dance routine for our eyes to never un-see.
It’s hard to tell if he’s dancing or if his body was finally struggling to cope with the weight of his head. Let’s also not sleep on Wes Welker, who dances with the grace of a walrus with an inner ear infection. It’s all glorious, coming together for a riveting moment in White guy history.
Fact-check: Triceratops went extinct 66 million years ago. The director of Jurassic Park has never shot one for sport.
A lot of people didn't get the joke, and thought Speilberg really had shot a dinosaur.
This is the literal skeeviest.
You are in a library that may not exist. You are having a terrible time.
It is unclear whether you have been writing the story, or the story has been writing you.
You visit the south of Argentina, where something terrible happens to you.
You are standing inside a sphere. Its center is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere. You are terrified.
Everyone around you is being murdered in a perfect Kabbalistic pattern.
A Scottish man sells you a book that ruins your life.
A red-haired woman tells you that you have always been a dead man.
You are lost in the desert. Your map is the desert itself.
You may have committed a murder. You’re not sure.
Everywhere you look, you see a sinister equilateral triangle.
A train conductor is rude to you, who was once a king in Babylon.
You are dreaming. You have never existed. You are being born. You are a thinly veiled version of Borges himself, and you have been dying for a thousand years.
A gaucho with a knife is laughing at you. There is blood on your saddle, but you have been in a hospital for the last four days. There is no saddle. Now it is you who is holding the knife, and no one is laughing.
You are standing in the middle of an empty city that is also the corpse of a tiger. There is one company in the entire world, and it does not exist, but it is watching you.
You may be a man, but then again you may be a mathematical thought experiment; it’s difficult to tell.
You die in a labyrinth.
Read more How To Tell If You Are In A Jorge Luis Borges Story at The Toast.
What the hell?
In order to prove once and for all that it is totally web-savvy, and not nearly as analog as the critics say—oh, and also to raise money—the Republican Party is selling new web domains ending in .gop starting today. They are much in demand, but not for the reasons Republicans might have hoped.
Right in the wet stuff!
To express this, I think Bowe tried to make a “the prices are going up like my dick.” I’m not sure, because what came out was at best a confusing jumble of phrasing, and at worst an announcement that Bowe has accidentally been f*cking dudes for the last 30 years.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, “Riddick Bowe Thinks The Price Of Coffee Is Too Damn High, And Also Whoops.”
1. Bowe considers the clitoris a “ding dong.” If that’s the case, how is he raising the vagina up? Is he talking about moisture? Is he raising the water levels of a lady’s vagina?
2. Bowe has been having sex with guys (dressed as women?) and is talking about the butthole. If that’s the case, why are they? That can’t be sanitary. A wet butthole is nothing to brag about.
3. Brain damage and nobody to ghost tweet for him.
I’m going with #3, because it explains this …
Ben Stein, who the lowbrow among us will recognize as the eyedrop shilling "Bueller.... Bueller...." guy from Ferris Beuller's Day Off and the nerds will recognize as the conservative thought-generator and American Spectator senior editor, has penned an incredibly bizarre stream of consciousness essay on how he is basically a slave to his dick and can't stop being tempted to give beautiful women who are not his wife money. This essay was printed in a magazine.
This is freaking hilarious.
Ten years ago last week, The Notebook took our nation's feel-holes by storm. Nick Cassavetes's adaptation of Nicholas Sparks's novel—starring Ryan Gosling at PEAK shoulder-to-waist ratio—struck some emotional brown note of sentimentality and hunkiness and forbidden love and manipulative sentimentality, and remains the standard by which all other romantic weepies are judged. I've seen people get misty-eyed just talking about this movie. I've slipped on puddles of cry-snot in the Mead aisle at Walgreens. But even though I love vintage dresses and kissing as much as the next lady-blogger, somehow I bumbled through this entire decade without ever actually watching The Notebook. So today, in honor of its (belated) birthday, I took the plunge.
This post originally appeared on October 17th, 2013.
Mallory left this morning. But not before we went to see the mini horses. On the drive over, Mallory wasn’t sure she was ready.
“I need a minute. I need a minute to prepare myself.”
First, we met Godiva.
Mallory started to lose it. She used curse words. Then she touched Godiva.
It was pretty intense. Godiva sensed and reacted to a powerful female energy coming from Mallory.
Then Mallory lost her mind.
We decided to say hi to the geldings, but they rejected our overtures.
“Mallory,” my friend and horse trainer said calmly. “Mallory, we’re going to go look at the babies now. Prepare yourself.”
“WHO IS THAT?” “That’s Thunder.” “WHO IS HIS FRIEND?” “His friend is Rusty.”
“Nicole, this is why I couldn’t own a miniature horse. I know you just said you have to treat them like horses and not like dogs, but I couldn’t handle it. I would buy them hats and jacket, and they would live in my house. I would be a crazy cat lady, but with horses.”
“We have to go. You have a ten hour drive ahead of you. Say goodbye to Thunder.” “Goodbye, Thunder.”
“Nicole. I am never going to be happy again. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Mallory.”
Lovely, but this shit has NOTHING on an Australian radio station cake recipe.
I am a simple woman: I love reading people argue about the causes of World War I, and I love reading the comments section on the Telegraph. When the two are combined, I become very happy.
Previously: Every French novel ever.
1. Fleeing The Impoverished, Drunken Countryside For Dublin
2. The Estate Decays
3. A Man Laughs Unhappily
4. We Do Not Speak That Name In These Parts, Stranger
5. The Landlord Pays A Visit But Does Not Sit Down
6. The Boy Sickens
7. THE ENGLISH
8. Poor In Material Goods But Rich In Sweeping Vistas Of The Hills And Also The Sea, My Son
9. Do You Know What Would Be Very Sad? So Many Things; Let’s List Them All
10. A Series Of Seemingly Unrelated Vignettes That Are Quite Possibly A Dream
11. Looking At A River Well Have You I Remember The Smell Of Her Broach The Day The Ship Sailed I Do Yes I Do Always Have
12. A Funeral Is Ruined
13. Everyone Starts Talking About The Wallpaper
14. A Chapter Written Inexplicably In French Just To Show Off
15. The Hell Sermon From Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man You’re All Thinking Of
16. An Accidental Circumcision Followed By 14 Pages About The Length And Goodness Of The Nose
17. A Friendly Argument With The Vicar
18. The Boy Dies
19. Leaving Out The Back Without Paying, That’s What Old Dad Did Best
20. A Bit In Gaelic Just To Remind You The Author Knows Gaelic
21. The Washerwoman Coughs
22. We Do Not Speak Of The Boy
23. Fleeing Broken, Vice-Riddled Dublin For The Countryside
24. An Insane Man Is Buried Up To His Neck In Ants And Forced To Play Chess With The Devil, Who Does Not Exist
25. Poverty, Failure, Exile and Loss, And The Apple Tree Did Not Bloom This Spring And Never Will Again
26. Conditions Worsen
The History of the Royal Houses of Europe, 850-PresentA thousand years ago — so the legend goes — God offered the Hapsburgs a choice: “You can have Europe,” he told them, “or you can have chins. But you cannot have both.”
They made their decision, and they were happy with it.
“Two Tom Bombadils, a weird-ass bird, and a bell that turns into a dress.”
The heraldist protested. “My Lords, I–”
“Two Tom Bombadils. A weird-ass bird. A bell that turns into a dress.”
So it remains to this very day.
Some say World War One was brought on by the tendency of the Electors of Prussia, Brandenburg and Lower Silesia to neglect matters of state in order to meet at their summer estates along the Rhine and grow mustaches at one another.
“Cheer up,” the Hapsburgs would say to one another in particularly low moments. “At least you’re not a Stuart.”
Underneath their puffy jackets, most of the Kings of Hungary stood about two foot four and weighed between forty-five and forty-seven pounds. When startled or threatened, the average Hungarian royal could puff himself up to as much as three times his normal size.