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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More bad press

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 23

It's probably good for Harry that Sirius is staying in touch. Not sure what he's going to need him for, but I can only assume he will need his assistance one day.

OK, some observations on the ball.
  • Hey, I got a prediction right. Hermione shows up on Krum's arm. I surmise from the descriptions that Hermione was the belle of the ball or close to it.
  • Harry and Ron turned out to be nothing close to dream dates. They raised ignoring to a new level.
  • Balls are always a good place for eavesdropping. What were Snape and Karkaroff talking about? I won't venture a guess here.
  • Rita Skeeter, or one of her informants, must have been hiding in the bushes when Hagrid gave away his giant secret.
  • Cedric seems like a good bloke after giving Harry a hint about the egg.
  • Hermione had a lovely time at the ball, but in the end she sounds as if she would have rather gone with someone else. I can't imagine why.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 24

I tried to get Rita Skeeter fired, but she is obviously selling papers. Her hearsay piece on Hagrid has made everyone on Harry's side of things at Hogwarts realize that Rita can be trusted to twist the facts - or simply make them up.

I would have liked to be at The Three Broomsticks when Harry and Hermione told her off. I might have had a few things to say myself.

I do wonder what Bagman is up to, if anything. He's acting strangely, but maybe he's just strange. Maybe it's Crouch we need to keep a Mad-Eye on.

As for Hagrid, I should have known Dumbledore, great man that Dumbledore, could be found at Hagrid's house telling him the truth. I can't imagine Hagrid going against Dumbledore and not showing up for class on Monday.

And Harry's chosen to take Cedric's advice. Everyone can always do for a little pride shelving.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shall we dance?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 21

Are the house-elves of Hogwarts any relation to the Keebler elves? Can they bake cookies?

Sorry, before we get to the question of whether elves should have free-agent status, I suppose we should address the screaming or howling egg. I have no clue. All it made me think of was a howler. That's all I've got.

So Dobby is getting paid. It doesn't appear that the other elves have ostracized him for it. I wouldn't be surprised if after a while of seeing Dobby with freedom that the others won't start to ask for money.

Apparently, Dobby might be one to provide intelligence on enemy movements. It's not surprising that he called the Malfoys bad dark wizards. But what about Winky's slip about Bagman being a bad wizard? Might be that Crouch just doesn't like him, or it might mean something dark. The light of truth will shine eventually.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 22

The Yule Ball. Now this is starting to sound like my high school days.

The pressure to have a date. Friends telling you who to ask. Getting up the nerve. Being turned down. Acting like you don't want to go, but all the time really wanting to go.

Amid all this figuring out who is asking whom to the ball, Hermione raises a good point once or twice. Harry does need to start working on what the egg is revealing about the next task. He shouldn't put all of his eggs in the basket of figuring it out at the last minute.

In the end, everyone finds a date for the ball. Not everyone gets their first choice, but at least no one will go alone.

And that includes Hermione. She won't divulge her date because why? Probably because it's someone they would either make fun of or be jealous of.

Viktor Krum, perhaps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

If I could be an animal, I would be a ...

Reflecting on The Prisoner of Azkaban

My original intent was to write this post when I finished reading Azkaban, but it's not too late.

I found the Animagus magic to be very cool. At this point in the series, it's the bit of magic that I think would be the most fun. Riding brooms would be a close second.

So I got to thinking: What animal would I choose if I had Animagus powers? Something big. Something small. Something fast. Something strong. Something beautiful. Something regal. Something plain. Something clever. Something sneaky.

My answer might surprise you. But I'm not giving it out until I've heard lots of you. So please leave a comment on this post and tell me what animal you would morph into and why.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Staying on task

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 19

Rita Skeeter, you have brought shame on all journalists. Yes, Harry Potter is the story for sure, but you have fabricated quotes and blown his story out of proportion and context.

You're fired.

But before you go can I have that device that writes down the quotes for you during the interview. It sure would be nice to not have to decipher my scribble or transcribe from my recorder.

Just when Harry sinks about as low as he can by becoming invisible, his circumstances begin to improve. Mad-Eye spots him under the invisibility cloak but doesn't give him away. Harry has definitely made another friend, who it turns out must also be friends with Hagrid.

Then Hagrid tips him off about the dragons, followed by his conversation with Sirius that tips him off about Karkaroff being a former death eater.

The chapter does end with a run-in with Ron. Yes, Ron started this by not believing Harry. But Harry could stand to be a little more mature and not be too proud to take the first step.

Despite his appointment with a dragon looming, things are starting to go Harry's way again.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 20

After hours of book research, Harry learns a valuable lesson when he gets advice from Mad-Eye on how to think about conquering the dragon. The lesson is always go to somebody first who might know, then do research only if you must. Sometimes research is needed for validation, but always pick someone's brain first when possible.

So after realizing that being on a broom gives him the best chance to beat the dragon, he has a problem. Second lesson learned is ask Hermione. After hours of training on summoning charms, Harry is ready to slay his dragon.

I have to wonder if someone put a spell on the dragon action figures to make Harry draw the most difficult assignment of the Hungarian Horntail. Right now we're supposed to think that Karkaroff is an agent of Voldemort, but it's probably someone else. Karkaroff is just too obvious.

Bravo to Harry for being the fastest to the egg and the most original. He used less magic than the others, therefore he should have gotten the highest score. But Karkaroff did his best imitation of a Soviet judge during the Cold War and gave him only a four. They should throw out the lowest and highest score and average the rest. Harry would probably be in first place if they had done that.

And having incredibly partial judges is ludicrous. Some department of some kind of affairs at the Ministry ought to launch an investigation.

I am glad Harry and Ron are friends again and that Harry took a high road. It's no fun being a dragonslayer if you haven't got friends to share your triumph with.

The plot to eradicate Harry has thickened again. Somebody tell Rita Skeeter to investigate that story.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wand-ering what's next

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 17

As I suspected, everyone had two cents to throw into the discussion of whether Harry should be permitted to compete in the Triwizard Tournament.

Ze French tried to appeal to Dumbly-dorr, but he refused to go against ze goblet. Is he just playing by the rules, or does he know something we don't. He's wearing a pretty good poker face if he does know something.

The first task ought to make the champions want to see Pomfrey for a sleeping pill. Knowing that you will have to defeat some unknown danger can't be comforting. Harry does have experience, though. Plus he's not taking this as seriously as the others, so he ought to be more relaxed. His resourcefulness should be a strength.

Of course, the students aren't buying the truth from Harry that he didn't put his name in the goblet. Even his best friend won't believe him.

So how did Harry's name get in there? Was it a joke? Was it to get him killed? Do I smell a rat?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 18

Hermione's powers of observation are still intact. She saw the genuine disbelief on Harry's face when his name was called. Ron, however, is slow on the uptake as always. He typically goes for the obvious, which in this case is that Harry somehow must have put his name in the goblet.

It's really quite flattering if you think about it that all the students think Harry is clever enough to get past Dumbledore and put his name in the goblet. If that's true, then Harry has to be the favorite to win the tournament.

Now Malfoy as we all know is an idiot who does nothing but play on his social status and elevate himself by putting others down. But I will give him credit for being smart enough to pull the stunt with the badges in front of Snape. Had this happened in front of anybody else, Malfoy would have been the one in detention for inciting the incident.

Maybe Ron and Harry will make up in detention and make a plan.

The wand inspection wasn't too exciting until we learned that Harry's wand shares some common ancestry with Voldemort's wand. The entanglement between these two continues. I'll accept anything that comes along as long as Voldemort never says, "Harry, I am your father."

Not sure what's coming next, but we do have the clandestine meeting between Harry and Sirius to look forward to on 11/22.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Only the Goblet knows

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 15

Obviously you have to get up earlier in the morning than Harry did to fool Sirius Black. I told Harry not to worry about Sirius. Maybe now he will take my advice.

No surprise that Harry was able to fight and beat the Imperius Curse. If you can beat the Avada Kedavra as a baby, then you ought to be able to beat a lesser curse as a teen. Still, I'm sure Mr. or Mrs. Potter had plenty to do with that. That knowledge, I surmise, has a lot to do with Harry's bravery.

The arrivals of the delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang were predictably elaborate. They do like impressing one another, not that it does any real good.

Madame Maxime summoned images of the Queen of Hearts from the old animated Disney version of "Alice In Wonderland." Not just her size, but also her manner.

And Viktor Krum is in the house. How exciting.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 16

But not as exciting as the announcement of the champions. As I began this chapter and read about Krum's presence, the great welcoming feast, Fred and George's ill-fated attempt at beating the age requirement and Hagrid's crush, I couldn't help but wonder if Harry would end up in the Triwizard Tournament. I didn't think it would be as the fourth, though.

I suppose we will find out how this happened, because I'm sure Maxime and Karkaroff won't like Hogwarts having two players in the tournament and will demand answers. But the Goblet has spoken, so I'm sure there is no undoing what's been done.

Betting and handicapping isn't my thing, but I would lay heavy odds on Harry winning the tournament. He has the instincts, and he's already encountered more danger than the others combined.

I wonder though ... are dark forces at work here.

Counterpunches and countercurses

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 13

Back to school and what does the first day of classes hold? Squeezing pus from an ugly plant that people are going to use on their face to fight acne. Sounds like a budding infomercial: "Our pus kills your pus for only $19.95."

Then it's off to Hagrid and Blast-Ended Skrewts. Can't imagine what they are useful for.

So what is Hermione up to with all this inhaling of her meals and running off to the library or somewhere else. More time travel? I doubt it, but it must be something important for someone important. Research perhaps.

Then comes the best part of the first day of school when Mad-Eye turns Malfoy into a ferret and sends him bouncing like Tigger. McGonagall had to be secretly liking what she saw, but she couldn't admit it.

When Fred Weasley says, "Moody. How cool is he?" everyone in Gryffindor was saying ditto to that. And looking forward to their first class with old Mad-Eye, the fastest wand in Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 14

I don't think the ballots have been handed out yet, but it doesn't take one of Trelawney's crystal balls to know that Mad-Eye is the early favorite for professor of the year at Hogwarts.

He doesn't turn a blind eye to Malfoy's evil ways, he has a magical eye and he just gave the most unforgettable lesson on the unforgivable curses. He is unprecedented. Only question is can he outperform himself the rest of the school year.

I was begging the other day for someone to start playing some defense against Voldemort. Dumbledore must have read this blog and called Mad-Eye. I hope he signs up to be a follower.

It's interesting to find out about Avada Kedavra and that it didn't work on Harry. Mad-Eye says there is no countercurse, but his mother must have used one or done something to counter it when Voldemort tried to kill Harry with it. It had to be some kind of reverse curse that all but killed Voldemort.

I was disappointed to learn that Hermione was only working on her elf-rights project. But maybe some elf along the line will help the cause against Voldemort.

Good to see Sirius' letter arrive. Harry shouldn't worry too much. Sirius has done a pretty good job of taking care of himself. And Harry will probably need his help whenever we get around to whatever the goblet of fire is.

I wonder where old Peter Pettigrew is slumming these days? Perhaps not too far away.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hang in there, the good part's coming

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The movie

So many things in this movie flew by so fast that it felt like I was watching in fast-forward. I suppose that's because I read the book first. Do others find that when you've read the book first, the movie seems too fast because you realize all that it's skipping and condensing.

I invite everyone's thoughts on the subject.

Otherwise, the climax that begins with Sirius in his dog form dragging Ron beneath the whomping willow was pretty good. Things slowed down a bit. Before that scene, the movie seemed disjointed at times. I wondered that if I hadn't read the book, would I have any idea what is going on. Ultimately this story is about Sirius Black and the moviemakers know that. Obviously, the want to get some other things in there to please the book fans, but it has to be tough to do that without getting bogged down.

So I will work at giving them the benefit of the doubt on the first half moving too fast.

Otherwise, I have quibbles with the portrayals of Black and Lupin. Black wasn't mangy enough and Lupin wasn't pathetic enough. Nor did Lupin look old enough. I know he is the age of Black and Harry's parents and Snape, but I figured he would look more like one who had aged prematurely. And he was the most hairless werewolf I have ever seen.

Peter Pettigrew, however, looked perfectly like the vermin he is.

The Marauder's Map was cool. I want one.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Mad Identity

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 11

So who was sneaking around old Mad-Eye Moody's yard? There are lots of suspects, but I won't speculate.

Mad-Eye might be the most colorful name yet. He could be a pirate or a pro wrestler or a hitman. With a name like that he has to play a central part to our developing story.

Is it just me or is there more interaction with muggles in this book. We always have the Dursleys, of course, but we had the theatrics at the campground and now we have these poor taxi drivers. I'm positive that veteran taxi drivers figure they've seen it all, but these guys have story to top the others in the garage.

I see Malfoy hasn't changed over the summer. Harry needs to ask Malfoy: "What have you ever won?" Some say it ain't bragging if you can't back it up (not a theory I subscribe to), but Malfoy has nothing to point to that he's ever done on his own. Where would he be without daddy and his sidekick goons?

So what's Malfoy's big secret? Keep reading.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 12

I'm sorry, but I have a soft spot for Peeves. He has great comedic timing and knows just how to rile everybody. When everybody's wet, make 'em wetter.

What? No Quidditch? I can't say I'm sorry about that. It can get a bit old at times. But now we have the Triwizard Tournament. At first I thought it was a competition for three-legged magic students.

I'm not sure this decision will be good for morale. It's already fixing to get Fred and George Weasley into trouble. I can just hear their mother: "You should be doing better on your O.W.L.'s."

Ah, old Mad-Eye is a teacher. I'm sure Snape and the Malfoys will think this is a terrible idea, but who better to prepare Harry to do battle with Voldemort? I look forward to seeing if Mad-Eye has mad skills.

What will become of Hermione's crusade for house-elf rights? Guess she has to have something else to keep her busy this year because she won't be time-traveling to take extra classes.

And Harry definitely has his first crush. Ain't that sweet.

Clueless people

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 9

Wizards being scared by other wizards in a muggle campground. Is no safe place anymore.

What these magic folk need is a wizard who can truly do battle with the dark arts on a large scale. Not some dimwit like Gilderoy Lockhart or one like Lupin who can't gain trust because he's a werewolf.

Somebody's got to rise up and take the bad guys' wands and snap them over his knee. Obviously, no one like that exists yet or they wouldn't be so scared by the Dark Mark and clueless what to do about it.

Someone needs to infiltrate Voldemort's ranks or call him out into the street for a showdown ... wand against wand.

All these Ministry of Magic dudes seem like political appointments. When real problems come along all they point are their fingers at pathetic house elves.

After a night in the woods that makes headlines, only Harry might have a clue. His burning scar, then the Dark Mark appearance. Harry ponders: What did these things mean?

Indeed, what do they mean.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 10

Like I said, nobody knows what to do. Mr. Weasley said he's just putting out fires. No doubt that's what everybody else is doing. The ministry is in damage control mode.

These magical people do have some of the coolest ways though. Talking to a head floating in a fire has just been added to my bucket list.

Harry is on top of things, which I would expect because his name is in the title of every book. Goofy old Telawney's prediction that Voldemort would rise up more powerful than before certainly has Harry's attention.

Harry is hoping for answers from Sirius, but whatever it is will only be something to help in the next step. There is no magic answer to the problem of Voldemort. It's like how one clue leads to another clue in "National Treasure."

In answer to what I said in Chapter 9 above, form a committee of Harry, Sirius, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione and maybe even Mr. Weasley. And send a spy.