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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The wedding crasher

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 8

The only part of this chapter I truly care about is the final italicized line. But to write something to which you are accustomed, I must acknowledge some of what comes before the final, plot-shifting moment.

As Captain Jack Sparrow once said, "Weddings? I love weddings." And I do. I enjoyed a wedding day with my lovely bride, and I walked two daughters down the aisle.

This wedding chapter, however, seems to exist to get everyone in one place for that big thing that happens at the end. And it gives us Barny Weasley, a k a Harry Potter. Playing the part of Barny, the cousin who is oddly there with no immediate family, Harry learns many things without even trying.

Harry also meets a lot of strange people (that happens a lot at weddings) like Xenophilius Lovegood and Auntie Muriel. They are both people to avoid for different reasons before the ceremony and especially during the reception. After the tufty-haired wizard (would never want to be described as tufty-haired) performs the ceremony, dancing and talking ensues.

Viktor Krum informs Barny/Harry that XL is sporting a Grindelvald sign, apparently paying homage to the dark wizard that Dumbledore defeated. Does it mean anything? Most things do.

Then the name Gregorovitch suddenly hits Harry. He remembers it now and that Gregorovitch is a wand maker of excellent reputation because Voldemort was searching for him. Thoughts race through Harry's mind. Harry, it seems, must find Gregorovitch.

Harry mingles as all good wedding guests do and stumbles upon Elphias Doge and tells him he's not really Barny Weasley. Doge assures Harry that Dumbledore never experimented with the Dark Arts. Of course the hundred-and-seven-year-old Auntie Muriel shows up and can't shut up.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I truly hope all of her talk about Dumbledore and his sister, etc., is pure nonsense. The rumors are there and may need to be dealt with. Still, I hope she isn't credible. It would be like Rita Skeeter being credible.

But there is a bombshell in the end for Harry: The Dumbledores live in Godric's Hollow where the Potters lived. But before this news flash can be discussed, the thing at the end of the chapter happens.

Kingsley Shacklebot's Patronus in the shape of a lynx lands on the dance floor to announce that the ministry has fallen into the hands of the Death Eaters, that Scrimgeour has been killed and that the Death Eaters are coming.

What a party-pooper Kingsley is. But his announcement does beg the question: Are the Death Eaters coming in a general sort of way like taking over the world kind of thing or are they literally coming to the wedding reception?

In either case, the honeymoon is over.

Monday, May 18, 2020

What's it all mean?

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 7

Dumbledore never did anything on a lark. His actions had purpose. No doubt these odd objects he bequeathed to Harry, Ron and Hermione will come in handy some day. And it won't be until they need them that they will understand the purpose.

That's my prediction anyway.

Schemegour sure knows how to crash a party.

"May I see your invitation?" I would've said.

"Do you know who I am?" Schemegour would've said in his most offended voice possible.

"Yes," I would've gladly admitted. "That's why I'm asking."

The matter of the sword of Godric Gryffindor is interesting. Harry, I'm guessing, will get his hands on it at some point.

Quite the back and forth between Harry and Schemegour about the sword. When Harry fires back about the minister earning some respect, well, that was exciting. Then Harry tells the minister he doesn't like his methods. The gloves are off.

This guy should to go back to the ministry and hang out with Umbridge. Schemegour and the High Instigator ought to just do a puzzle or something and stay out of everyone else's business. Hope they fight over who gets to place the last piece.

I don't recall any gifts I received on my 17th birthday. That was 1981. It was a Friday, so I probably played in a basketball game that night. The next night, if there wasn't a game, we probably went out to eat.

I certainly didn't open a Deluminator, The Tales of Beedle the Bard or an old Snitch. Can't say I feel cheated. For now, they can make it dark, try to figure out what "I open at the close" means that was written on the Snitch and catch up on some missed childhood reading.

Lights out. There's a wedding tomorrow.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Listening and watching along with Harry

I wrote the other day about the new Harry Potter read-along on Today I listened and watch along for 28 minutes about The Boy Who Lived, read by Daniel Radcliffe.

Before I did the #HarryPotterAtHome thing as it's being tagged on social media, I looked back at the post I wrote about Chapter 1 of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I got so caught up in the cat thing, because of my feline phobia, that I missed all sorts of important things in my introduction to Harry Potter. Things that I now realize are important as I have progressed through the opening chapters of "Deathly Hallows."

I started jotting things down as I listened to the perfect British voice of Harry:

  • The Dursleys are perfectly cast characters to be Harry's kin. Yes, they are annoying and mean, but as we came to learn book after book they are exactly what Muggle relatives of Harry should be like.
  • All of things Uncle Vernon noticed that day fueled his dislike for "that lot" as he often referred to magical folk.
  • The owls were flying everywhere. I had forgotten all about that.
  • The mention of Godric's Hollow. I had not remembered that name even when it came up in recent chapters I have read. Now, it appears, Harry will be returning to the scene of the crime that made him a hero.
  • Completely forgot that McGonagall didn't want Harry left with the Dursleys. Can't say I blame her, but Dumbledore was ever the wise one. He remained safe on ye olde Privet Drive.
  • I had no recollection that Hagrid made such an early appearance. And how appropriate it was for that noisy motorbike (borrowed from Sirius, a name we knew nothing about then) to be the vehicle for Harry's arrival at Privet Drive and for his final getaway. How many of you remembered that when you read the "Seven Potters" chapter? It's been 10 years, so I, of course, didn't remember anything about Harry's arrival.
  • No wonder Hagrid has been so protective of Harry. Hadn't considered why until just now.
  • Finally, this was our introduction to the scar, which didn't seem important at the time.

The Chapter 2 reading is live. "The Vanishing Glass" reading is by Noma Dumezweni. She portrayed Hermione in the original cast of "The Cursed Child" in London and on Broadway.

On the Wizarding World website you can sign up for alerts and such. I figured I would sign up so I will know when a new chapter reading is posted. During the signup process, the Sorting Hat appeared and there were a series of questions designed to put you in a house.

I paused.

Do I really want to do this?

Might as well.

I came out a Hufflepuff.

Nerdiest thing I've ever done.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Crack the books

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 6

Books. Of course, Dark Arts textbooks are the beginning of putting Harry, Ron and Hermione (she couldn't be happier than to have lots of books to lug around) on the trail of Horcruxes.

School, it seems, is back in session.

Sooner, rather than later, the three of them will leave the Burrow against Mrs. Weasley's wishes and begin their "Deathly Hallows" quest to rid the world of Voldemort and the hidden pieces of his soul for good. But first, there is a wedding to get ready for, books to sort through, rucksacks to pack and travel plans to make.

Planning has been difficult with Mrs. Weasley's obvious attempts at keeping them busy and apart from one another. But the plan is coming together.

Hermione will have to do some late-night reading to get caught up on Horcruxes. Harry will have to sort through his memories and figure out what spells will work best and leave behind his go-to tricks that the Death Eaters are wise to. As for Ron, I'm not sure what his job is besides running interference for his friends. Moral support, I suppose, is Ron's job. That and making sarcastic remarks.

Real school, of course, is over for these three. Hogwarts will apparently be open for business in the fall. Who will be the new Headmaster? No idea.

Ron and Hermione have their school absence cover stories ready. Ron is faking something called spattergroit by using a ghoul as a double. This is weird for even magical folk. A ghoul exists (not sure you can say lives) in his attic and Harry referred to it as their ghoul. The next time I think about sending my ghoul to Goodwill I'll remember that I might actually have a use for it some day. Weird.

Hermione's plan to send her Muggle parents on holiday sounds like something people would actually do. Not as inventive, but I think it will work.

Peeking ahead at chapter titles it appears we have two more chapters at the Burrow prepping and prepping and prepping for the wedding and the departure. I'll try to remain patient and be alert for clues.

Then the honeymoon will be over for everyone except, of course, Bill and Fluer.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Harry Potter read-along

Listen up friends.

If you want to start over reading the Harry Potter series, you can do so without even picking up a book. No, I don't mean by levitation. I mean with your ears.

And, no, it won't be me doing the audio book. There is a much better plan than that.

Just go to and listen. Daniel Radcliffe will get you started in "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" by reading "Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived." Others you probably know and love will follow one chapter at a time.

This will eat into some of my sports and writing podcast listening, but I plan to refresh my memory of a book I read 10 years ago.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Mind games

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 5

Before reading this chapter I had five questions. I answered some correctly, whiffed badly on one and one remains unknown.

Where did Voldemort vanish to and why? I was actually correct about this one. Harry passed safely through a magical force field meant to keep Death Eaters out.

Is Hagrid dead? Thankfully no. I just figured when he hit the earth that hard and the Richter scale probably registered about 5.4 that he didn't make it. Lots of padding I suppose.

Are any of The Seven Potters and their escorts dead? Because I assumed Hagrid didn't survive I figured the rest did. Sadly, Mad-Eye Moody is no longer with us. Maybe he'll meet up with his other eye some place.

Is Harry in a safe place? He is now. The old portkey trick to the Burrow worked. And everyone else except Mad-Eye, of course, and Mundungus are safely there if not all in one piece. Poor George and his missing ear. He and Fred will find a way to monetize it in their joke shop.

Who told Snape? That's still a mystery. Those at the Burrow are hot to find out though.

Now Harry, presumably in a safe place, wants to leave for the same reason he broke up with Ginny. Dumbledore's and now Mad-Eye's deaths have more than saddened him. He's blaming himself and he doesn't want another death (perhaps even his closest friends) on his conscience.

Harry is in a tough spot. He needs his friends for protection and help. But he doesn't want them to die while protecting and helping. The pain in his scar has increased his fear that something bad will happen.

The curious behavior of his wand is also troubling. He's thankful it happened, but why? There is a curious connection between his wand and Voldemort's wand. But of course, as Harry can surmise from his vision of Voldemort terrorizing Ollivander, the Dark Lord had chased him down with someone else's wand. We, of course, know it to be Lucius Malfoy's, and the vision revealed the same to Harry.

The mystery of Harry reading or hearing or seeing Voldemort's thoughts and actions has returned. Seems like Voldemort has let his guard down in his rage. Or something like that.

Hermione reminds Harry to keep his guard up to keep his mind free of Voldemort. Not sure this a two-way street though. My hunch is it seems like Voldemort would have more of an upper hand and wouldn't need spies if he could read Harry's mind.

But what do I know. I'm no mind reader.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Race against death

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 4

The Order of the Phoenix needs to strengthen its intelligence corps and plug its leaks.

The, "Oh, there's probably only a couple of Death Eaters around" was an intelligence failure. It was like Butch and Sundance trying to win a shootout against the entire Bolivian police force.

Hope is not a strategy. Hire a scout.

That doesn't mean The Seven Potters wasn't a good plan, but trying to outrun the enemy at the same time on brooms and a flying Harley lacked sense. Every part of the strategy should have been deceptive. If they had known a legion of Death Eaters was hiding in the clouds, they would have figured out a Plan B.

However, it was frantic reading. Once the Death Eaters appeared I found myself trying to read faster like when you move to the edge of your seat during tense movie scenes. So despite the failed plan, it was good reading.

The cliffhanger ending begs many questions.

Where did Voldemort vanish to and why?

Is Hagrid dead?

Are any of The Seven Potters and their escorts dead?

Is Harry in a safe place?

I figure Harry got to the safe place, which caused Voldemort to be thwarted by hitting some sort of force field.

Hagrid is probably and sadly dead. There is no one he'd rather give his life for more than Harry.

The others probably made it all out alive because the Death Eaters have worse aim than the Imperial troops in "Star Wars."

The intel that Yaxley got about Harry's movement being the day before his birthday was false. Snape was right.

That leaves us with another question: Who told him?