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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have broom, will travel

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 3

A chapter with another good-bye to the dreaded Dursleys and a slew of new characters with more funny names.

Except for Kingsley Shacklebolt ... let that name run through your mind in a British accent. It's what all British names should be made of. Can't you just hear the queen saying, "Kingsley dear, do pour me another cup of tea."


I do say it was interesting to meet the real Alastor Moody. This Mad-Eye acts a lot more like the Mad-Eye that was described in Goblet of Fire. This one is way more paranoid, eccentric and irritable. Tonks (I promise not to call her Nymphadora) is apparently along for the ride to provide balance to Mad-Eye. And Lupin is there to make Harry feel comfortable.

Note to self: If you are ever invited on a night-time broom ride, wear a coat, gloves and a ski mask.

This story might be getting a little TV-crime-drama-like with Harry being taken to a safe house in a London slum. I guess I will soon find out who and what this secret society called the Order of the Phoenix is.

Maybe they are about to rise again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not much private on Privet anymore

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 2

I couldn't remember what a Squib was so I Googled it. How crazy is it that I found a wiki that had the definition and an entire entry devoted to what a Squib is. I would say it's ridiculous for people to put this much work into fictional characters, but then look at me. I'm pretty sure some people think I'm crazy, and more would if they knew about this little blog.

"A Squib is someone who was born into a wizarding family but hasn’t got any magic powers. Kind of the opposite of Muggle-born wizards, but Squibs are quite unusual."
— Ron Weasley discussing Argus Filch

And I thought a squib was when you bounce a kickoff along the ground to prevent the dangerous return man from making a big play. Anyway, I'm sure we'll see more of Mrs. Figg if she doesn't get thrown into Azkaban for murder.

This episode of the Dursley's trying to uncover what happened to Dudley is comical. Vernon must have a strong heart, because he's not one to take things in stride. Harry, on the other hand, was just the opposite. He doesn't care what the Dursleys know and he tells them everything. What's the point in hiding it with owls in and out of the house and Dudley trying to blame him for everything?

Of course, when Petunia reveals that she knows what Dementors are, the whole scene changes. Harry finally gets some Privet Drive cred even though Vernon tries to throw him out. Then the Howler shows up and Petunia is shown to know even more about wizarding. "Are you in touch with wizards?" Harry asks. I would love to hear the answer to that one as well.

I want lots of answers, but I must be patient ... one chapter at a time (no wiki leaks please).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Talk about your dark alleys

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 1

I've started Year 5 on my quest. I must be demented.

Dudley must be on his way to a productive life. The Sweet Science has rescued many young boys from a life of crime. It's good to see him making something of himself. Yet, I do wonder if there is a spine inside that mass of flesh.

Perhaps I am being a bit judgmental of dear old Dudley. I suppose if my cousin waved a magic wand at me and I encountered Dementors completely unaware of what was going on, I'd be a little spineless too. Dudley is a spoiled brat and a bully, but I do feel some pity on him.

Voldemort's attack has apparently begun. But I think he sent some boys to do a man's job. A little Expecto Patronum! and the Dementors were defeated. And it was jolly of Harry to save Dudley from his first kiss.

Now here's something I should have realized. Old Mrs.Figg is a witch. Of course, she has lots of cats and she took an interest in Harry when no one else would. No doubt she works for Dumbledore. Can't wait to find out who or what Mundungus Fletcher is.

As cold as it is the spring, one has to wonder if the Dementors are lurking in alleys all over the Midwest.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Should I read the book, or wait for the movie?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Movie

If I hadn't read the book, I would have been lost watching the movie. At least that's the way it seems. Maybe I feel that way because I knew more of what was going on than the movie told me.

If I had only watched the movie, would I be happy knowing what I know and oblivious to what I don't know? Would I ask more questions? Or would it seem like a simple story? Would I realize from only watching the movie that Harry was entered into the tournament to get him to his graveyard duel with Voldemort? Hard to say.

I do know that when I watched Lord of the Rings movies I mostly knew what was happening, but didn't always know why. I had everyone else in the family to fill me in on that. So it would probably be similar.

That said, it was a pretty good movie, especially the second half. The first half seemed to jump a lot and lack flow. Overall, it introduces a lot of elements about halfway. It might have been better to introduce fewer elements and further develop the important ones. There is a balancing act between trying to be like the book and trying to be a movie. I say, be a movie. Be more explicit about the theme running through the movie of Harry heading for a showdown with Voldemort. In the movie, it was all of the sudden.

It's probably a good thing the final book is two movies. I expect a lot to happen in that one. But I've got two other books to read first. Maybe this summer I will finish what I started and was supposed to finish last summer.

I need to get one of those time turners. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

School's out for the summer

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 37

If chapter 37 is titled "The Beginning," we must be starting to get to the really good stuff. It would seem that way considering the events in the final chapters of this book, because the story is definitely at a turning point with the rise of Lord Voldemort and the parting of the ways.

Dumbledore, great man that Dumbledore, leaves no doubt of his intentions to part ways with the Fudge-filled Ministry after his speech at the Leaving Feast. You might wonder if Dumbledore has committed political suicide with his speech. But Fudge seems to be more like the kind of fudge that stays soft. He is full of fluff, but he won't take a hard stand, especially when in the back of his mind he has to wonder if Dumbledore is right. He has shown great trust in Dumbledore, so maybe Fudge will let Dumbledore do what he wants just in case Dumbledore is right. Then again, Fudge could be the kind of fudge that is full of nuts and fight this at every pointing of a wand.

It was interesting to find out that Rita Skeeter is an unregistered beetle animagus. It's people like Skeeter that give us journalists a bad name. She better hope there is no use for exterminators in the magic world.

So after Harry gives his tournament winnings to Fred and George, it's off the train and off to Privet Drive with Uncle Vernon. After this school year, maybe summer at home won't seem so bad. (But I'm not counting on it.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dumbledore rises; Fudge melts away

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 36

A lot to talk about in this chapter (I'll get to Fudge in due time).

Harry has to tell his tale again, but this time with no details left out because Dumbledore wants to hear it all. And he wants Sirius to hear it too. Dumbledore clearly isn't happy about Voldemort overcoming the barrier of being able to touch Harry. He doesn't elaborate on what it might ultimately mean, but it seems clear that this is a problem.

I was pleased to see that my guess about an ingredient in the wands had something to do with the standoff between Harry and Voldemort. I thought it was interesting that he heard a phoenix during the battle, and now we know why. Why did Harry's seem to be the stronger one?

Enter Fudge. With a Dementor. He's so sure he has all the answers. Strange that someone who has been doting on Harry now refuses to believe Harry's story of the rise of V? Not really. Fudge reveals his political hand when Harry begins to mention Death Eaters and Fudge talks of how they were cleared and that they have made donations to worthy causes. Fudge doesn't want to admit he was wrong, that his work to rebuild the magic world is threatened.

Dumbledore has an entire plan worked out for dealing with the Dementors and the Giants, but Fudge calls it madness because he doesn't want his approval ratings to drop. Then Dumbledore hits Fudge with his pride and the pure-blood argument. This is too much for Fudge. The dark mark on Snape's arm has no influence.

Dumbledore does what he must: part ways with the Fudge-led ministry. As soon as Fudge leaves, Dumbledore begins to take action. And Harry gets a well-deserved rest.

So where is V and what is he planning?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The truth comes out

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 35

I can't prove it, but I knew something was up when Mad-Eye Moody was suddenly a Death Eater. I know unexpected things happen in this story, but that just didn't fit. It's like I was channeling Dumbledore. Neither of us was surprised when he turned out to be an imposter.

Of course, I didn't know it was the junior Crouch. That was quite a tale he got to tell of how he escaped Azkaban and showed his loyalty to Lord Voldemort. He cursed Mad-Eye and took his place with the old Polyjuice Potion trick. (Drinking something with somebody's hair in it is not something I could do. Gag me with a spoon.) He incapacitated his father, later killed him, turned him into a bone and buried him like a dog would. Then he turned the Triwizard Cup into a portkey. That's one busy bad guy.

And poor Winky was made an accomplice. Dobby won't be happy.

I just had a thought. Because Harry saw all of those Death Eaters, will he have to go into witness protection?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ghost in the graveyard

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 34

Harry ran like a cat
He had to get away from V
The trophy was his prize

If the most evil thing on earth was chasing me around in the dark with a magic wand, I would hide behind gravestones, too. No shame in that, Harry. You have to survive this so we can have more books and movies. And nobody wants the bad guy to win, so keep running and hiding.

I didn't expect a wand battle that resembled an arm-wrestling match. Then again I didn't expect anything other than for Harry to get away. I should have known the portkey would be his salvation. Can't believe I missed that.

I really don't want to see V's so-called face because of the way it's described, but I would like to have seen his face the moment Harry disappeared. That scream of fury must have been good to leave behind. But something tells me we haven't left V behind. I don't think he's as strong as he thinks he is, or Harry wouldn't have out-wanded him. There might just be an ingredient in Harry's wand that is making a difference. Don't know if I'll take time to look back and see what he got that day long ago at the wand shop, but it's an interesting hypothesis nonetheless. Or maybe Dumbledore's put some kind of spell on it that V doesn't know about.

Time to read on and find out what happens when Harry lands back in Hogwarts.