This post is spoiler-free

I finished reading the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series last night. I spent the entire weekend on a reading binge, first re-reading the sixth book, then blazing through the seventh.

Let me just say, well done JK. You have managed to not only wrap up the saga with a Martha Stewart worthy bow, but you’ve managed to take the final book in directions I never expected. There was so much new mythology, so many new details on the characters. So much backstory! This is an author who truly loves her characters.

And now that it’s over? I don’t know. I’m completely satisfied with the seventh book. All my questions have been answered. And yet I’m oddly sad. It’s hard to believe the whole thing is over (and don’t say, “but there’s still two movies left!” The movies don’t count). All the waiting for the next book, the midnight release parties, the one day that the publishing industry triumphs over movies and video games and television shows.

I hope something else comes along the gets kids excited about reading, I really do. It was such a joy to see children clammering for a book. A BOOK. CHILDREN. READING. Wow… The first book was released in the US in 1998. A good chunk of the children lining up to get the last book weren’t even born yet, and still they were part of the excitement.

The whole thing is bigger than the story. The Harry Potter series has left an indelible mark upon popular culture, and I hope part of that legacy is that it gets kids to pick up other books, latch on to another series. I know my childhood was richer, my imagination more vivid, because of the rabid reading I did. I hope if I ever have kids they’ll pick up books with the same enthusiasm.

And if it seems like their interest is tepid, I’ll just hand them Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

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Top 5

Every week, I’m going to ring in the weekend by making some random top 5 list and encourage everyone else to do the same.

Today’s topic: Top 5 overlooked television shows

5. Beg, Barrow & Deal – ESPN – ESPN’s ripoff of the Amazing Race was amazing. Originally aired in primetime, when this show began airing at like midnight, I figured it was a bad sign.

4. Swan’s Crossing -My guess is that if I actually went back and watched this teen soap opera that aired for 13 weeks in 1992, I would think it was awful but I have super fond memories of the show from when I was 9.

3. Blow Out – I think my favorite part of this show was watching hair stylist Jonathan Anton try to convince the world that he was straight every week. Dude, you have tattoos and you finish every sentence with “man,” you like chicks, I get it.

2. Bands on the Run – I was obsessed with this show when it was on. I just didn’t miss it. If anyone from VH1 ever reads anything I write, I hope it’s this.. BRING BACK BANDS ON THE RUN AND RELEASE THE FIRST SEASON ON DVD. Who can forget the hard-drinking, hard-living guys from Flickerstick going toe-to-toe with corporate rock schmoozers Soulcracker. That show was epic.

1. Degrassi: The Next Generation – I know as a 23-year-old white guy, I’m hardly this show’s target demo but Stephen King’s love for Veronica Mars makes me feel like this is ok. This show is completely mindless and melodramatic and fantastic. If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you an example of the power of Degrassi. A couple weeks ago I was at home in Indiana for the wedding of my blogging colleague L-Mo and my girlfriend, myself and my friend Zac were sitting around my parents living room watching television. I turned on Degrassi. What started with “This is so dumb” quickly turned into wait “Who did Emma sleep with?” and “Why is Jimmy in a wheelchair?” That’s right, it’s social commentary brought to life by Canadian teenagers.

Friday’s Line

Lighters will be allowed back on airplanes. Unreal.New CEO of Revision3, parent company of Diggnation, talks about the company’s future.

A smaller, cheaper iPhone may be in the works. And in related news, I still don’t care.

CNET teaches you how to ghost hunt.

Young adults and teens aren’t reading the news. Wow, great stuff, guys! Really!  

You’re less likely to die in a plane crash if you’re sitting in the back.

This guy is the new Green Hornet:

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Huffington Post’s Tony Sachs talks about losing his wife to Harry Potter.

Top 10 things you can do with your time before reading the new Harry Potter. 

The New York Post’s Top 100 cover songs of all-time.

Newsweek’s Devin Gordon on the Emmy nominations.

Randomly Rad

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I am not at all excited about the Simpsons Movie but I’m a Lost dork and this is pretty rad.

Certified by The 730

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The 730 hereby certifies “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America” as Pop Culture genius.

This certification will be awarded anytime Lauren and I agree on the genius of any one thing.

I think the show really does showcase Victoria’s wit and sense of humor in a really charming and endearing way. But just when you think, man, she’s just like anyone else. She arrives somewhere in what are surely two bulletproof Cadillac Escalades and enough bodyguards to protect the entire field of 2008 presidential candidates.

If the Beckhams never do anything else in this country, I seriously hope they consider making more episodes.

Victoria Beckham: Coming to America (and my heart)

Remember how I said I love reality tv? Well I do. And to demonstrate that, I’m posting twice in one day on yet another reality television show.

First things first. Victoria Beckham? Not the heinous shrew I once believed her to be. She’s actually a really funny chick. I flipped across her new show in an effort to keep my Tivo from recording South Park (I loath South Park, but that’s a post for another day). I had no intention of watching Vicki pout and not eat her way through an hour of my life. But one zinger after another and I was glued!

From commentary on botoxed over the hill Hollywood “socialites” to an attempt to fake out the paparazzi with a very well-coiffed blow up doll, the woman is full of British charm and humour. And guess what? She smiles!

Exhausted from a long day, I won’t spend too much time recapping. I will say that reviews of the show have been poor, which shocks the hell out of me. Beckham is, for me, the trendier, more famous, British Kathy Griffin. I love her. To illustrate this, I will leave you with an exchange from the show between Beckham and noted celeb-hater-blogger Perez Hilton in a coffee shop.

Hilton: I got you a cookie!
Beckham: Isn’t that nice of you. [gestures to piles of paparazzi outside the cafe] Unfortunately I can’t be seen eating or smiling. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make myself miserable again. [exits cafe with trademark pout]

LOVE HER.

So bad it’s good: Rock of Love

I’ll man up and admit right here and now: I am a reality show junkie. I’ll give just about any reality show a go. At first Fox had the market cornered on trash-tastic voyeur TV, though one network has not only surpassed the title, but has practically reinvented itself as the network that is simultaneously trashy yet can’t miss. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about Video Hits 1, the network formally home to Michael Bolton videos and the softest rock VJs this side of a secretary’s office.

First there was Flavor of Love, Hogan Knows Best, Celebrity Fit Club and the Surreal Life. Last season brought us Monique in her bitchin’ bad babe show Charm School (a personal fave). But when I saw the previews for Brett Michael’s Bachelor rip opus “Rock of Love,” I vowed not to watch. No way was I going to watch the tow-headed wash-up re-live his glory days with a bunch of vapid, drunken, siliconed camera whores.

And then the British Open started. Golf invaded my normal day-sucker that is TNT. Gone are my repeats of Law and Order, Without a Trace, ER, and Judging Amy. Damn golf. And all I could find to watch was Rock of Love. And now, without further adieu, here are five reasons why Rock of Love is the most trashtastic, so bad it’s good reality show on TV right now.

1. The man has his own bouncer. Big John rules with a pair of iron firsts, breaking up catfights with one and doling out brewskies with the other. And the man isn’t just a bouncer. He offers up such sage advice as “Problems is like shit. We all got ’em, and they all stink.”

2. During a photoshoot in which Brett takes sexy pics of each contestant while moaning with each click, one contestant throws down and admits what the whole show is really about. She simply whips out her surgically enhanced rack, at which point she has ensured the receipt of a coveted “All Access Pass.”

3. The girl who gets sloppy drunk, thrown out by Big John only to be brought back, and attempts to start catfights with each and every contestant, is allowed to stay at the end of the episode. And Brett doesn’t beat around the bush or bullshit us like our favorite ABC Bachelors. “She hot, she’s sexy, and hell, she’s entertaining.” Anything for the ratings, eh?

4. When Brett asks contestant Jessica (who refers to herself as a “Jessica Simpson knockoff”) to talk about herself, she immediately begins addressing an invisible audience as if the star of her own busted beauty contest. When Brett finally interrupts to ask who she’s talking to, she simply giggles and produces sounds that I presume might have been words. Who can tell….

5. And when you can hear one girl call another a “skank slut whorebag” twice in one episode, you know you’ve hit reality show gold.

So thank you Brett Michaels, for helming the ship of reality so unabashedly trashy, so aware of its own ratings, that it doesn’t even pretend to be The Bachelor. It might as well be titled, “Brett Michaels: Who Still Wants to F*ck me?”