Chapter Four: The Keeper of Keys
Better Title: It's OK to Talk to Strangers
Hagrid arrives in all his gigantic glory and utters his famous phrase: "Harry—yer a wizard." Note: If a large burly man burst through your door and said this, you should call the police and for god's sake don't go with him on a train. This chapter is a tad creepy. I'm surprised Hagrid didn't say, "I've lost my dog, little boy. Climb into my van and help me find him. And help yourself to some of that candy."
But of course, in the world of Harry Potter, talking to strangers and believing everything they say is acceptable.
Hagrid is pissed that the Dursleys haven't told Harry the truth about his parents and his wizarding genetics. I've always hated this part of the Harry Potter mythos—the fact that wizards can only be born and no matter how hard a Muggle tries, he can never become a wizard. It's like telling someone, "You can't play the oboe because you don't have oboe player genes. So give me back that oboe and take off that oboe hat."
Not everyone is born to play the oboe, but if you practice enough, even the worst oboist can play a simple tune. This isn't the case with wizards. Either you're born a wizard or you're not. And Muggles aren't even allowed to try out.
This would make sense if wizarding relied heavily on a specific muscle or having an extra bone in your wrist, but from my understanding, all a wizard does is wave a wand, say words that end with "us," and concentrate. It's pretty much just like playing Wii. Why can't a Muggle do that too?
Harry is shocked to learn the truth and has a billion questions for Hagrid. The half-giant explains that Harry has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and hands Harry one of his acceptance letters.
Is there an Elementary School for Magic? Students at Hogwarts are about 11 years old. How are they educated prior to that? Wouldn't it behoove someone in this book to have sent Harry to PussNugget's Primary Wizarding School for Toddlers and Tykes for a few years so he could learn the basics? Or make him watch the wizarding equivalent of Sesame Street. What do wizard kids learn for their first 11 years, and who teaches them?
Maybe wizards just show up to high school without any knowledge of numbers, letters, colors, dinosaurs, the solar system, or fractions. And since Hogwarts offers no classes on math or real world science, it's a safe bet that if you're reading this sentence, you are wiser than a wizard.
Wizards are powerful people, don't get me wrong. But they can be easily thwarted with a simple long division problem or a basic question of, "What's a predicate?" At least Harry has a few years of Muggle school. Perhaps that's why he's the chosen one. He's the only wizard who can measure angles and create the tertiary colors of the color wheel. He's so strong!
Hagrid tells Harry that not too long ago, a dark wizard was gathering his forces and doing bad evil stuff. Hagrid, like most wizards, doesn't like to use the name Voldemort because he's so evil and wretched. This bothers me.
The wizards are pretentious when it comes to evil. They shouldn't be afraid of Voldemort's name. During World War II, the allies used Hitler's name all the time. Cartoons and posters were made to make fun of him. We never feared his nomenclature. (And I get 7 points for using "nomenclature" correctly!)
Hitler was worse than Voldemort. I'm not even sure what Voldemort did that was so bad. I think he killed maybe a dozen people…at the most. According to that logic, wizards would refer to the Titanic as The-Water-Vessel-That-Cannot-Be-Named. And I don't even want to know what long-winded wordy nickname they would come up with to refer to polio. And if Sauron were in these books, the wizards wouldn't even have a name for him but simply pee their pants and point while whimpering, "Uh-ohs."
The wizards should use Voldemort's name. They should mock it. They should strip it of its power. Maybe instead of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, they should call him Volde-snort or Captain Turd. Wizards can be so overdramatic some times. (Just wait until we get to all the prophecy nonsense.)
During this scene, Mr. Dursley keeps trying to keep Harry away form the wizarding world. Why? Mr. Dursley hates Harry. If you had to take care of a dolphin that you hated, and then someone said, "I'll take that dolphin from you for most of the year," you'd gladly hand it over. But Mr. Dursley demands Harry stays. I don't get. (BTW: Anyone want a dolphin who acts like a big baby all the time, eats all my ranch dressing, and gets my sofa wet and then pretends it wasn't him? Call me.)
Hagrid uses a bit of illegal magic to scare the Dursley, resulting in Dudley growing a pig's tail, and then they all shut up. Everyone gets some sleep because the next day Hagrid is taking Harry to Diagon Alley to pick up school supplies.
DUMBLEDORE: We must find a way to defeat Voldemort. He is riding a train traveling at 40 mph. The train is 20 miles away and will leave the station at 4 o'clock. What time will the train arrive?
DUMBLEDORE: No. I'm afraid "batteries" is not the answer.
SNAPE: Is the train made of spite and unrequited love?
DUMBLEDORE: No. And I don't think that really matters.
TRELAWNEY: Is "twenty" a type of bird or wig?
DUMBLEDORE: No. It's a number.
FLITWICK: A numb bird?
DUMBLEDORE: No. It's a number. Like three or seven.
McGONAGALL: [Proudly] I believe the answer is "soon."
DUMBELDORE: Well, I need you to be a bit more specific.
McGONAGALL: Very soon.
FLITWICK: What's a three?
TRELAWNEY: It's a letter, like the letter M but it's sideways and sounds like this, "Thhhhhhh."
DUMBLEDORE: It is not a letter and it does not make a sound.
McGONAGALL: To figure this out we should consult the whispering waters of Gradius McSlurpingoff!
DUMBLEDORE: No, you fools. It's simple math. Haven't you learned simple math?
FLITWICK: Oh boy, I love taking a nice hot math after a long hard day.
DUMBLEDORE: We're doomed.
SNAPE: I named my bed Lily. It's just a name. I like those kinds of flowers. That's all. No biggie.
Chapter Five: Diagon Alley
Better Title: It's Like Office Depot
This is my favorite chapter of the book, and I doubt I'm alone. Seeing the magical marketplace makes every Muggle jealous. Insanely jealous. So jealous that I gave Harry Potter the finger when I watched the movie. It was immature of me, but the feeling was very real. Sorry, Harry. I'll try to be a better sport about all of this.
Hagrid takes Harry to London for the first time and shows him the secret entrance to Diagon Alley. Harry is overwhelmed by all the odd shops and people, but Hagrid quickly ushers him to Gringotts so they can withdraw some of the money that Harry's parents left him.
I wish more of these books took place in Gringotts. The underground vault is so big and scary that you could use it as setting for an entire series of novels, including my fan fiction novel, "Gringotts Sex Parade." According to Hagrid, there are dragons deep in the tunnels guarding the various vaults. And according to my fan fiction, these dragons wear bras.
After grabbing some money for Harry, Hagrid picks up a mysterious package from another vault for Dumbledore. What could this package be?! I'm sure it's nothing and we should all forget this scene ever happened.
Hagrid buys Harry an owl as a birthday present. All Hogwarts students need to bring an animal, and owls are one of the best. In American wizarding schools, not only must you bring your own animal, but you must also bring your own tissues and chairs because our wizarding schools are grossly under-funded. (Quidditch is played in the parking lot using old mops, Potions class is only available as a long-distance learning course, and Defense Against the Dark Arts is taught by a house elf who just doesn't care anymore.)
Harry also must buy a wand at creepy Ollivander's wand shop. After a lengthy trial and error process, Ollivander finally finds the perfect wand for Harry, a wand that has a Phoenix feather core. How do they get the feather into the wand? The same way they get the cream filling inside a Cadbury Egg: with brute force.
If you ever wanted to replace the word "wand" with the name of a certain male organ, this is the chapter to do it. You can also replace it with the word "ferret" or "Bratz Doll" and have even more fun.
With all the supplies acquired, Hagrid takes Harry back to the Dursley's house where Harry must wait until September before he can leave for Hogwarts.
HARRY: Hagrid, why do I have so much money?
HAGRID: Your parents left it for you.
HARRY: But how did they get so much money?
HAGRID: Through wise investments and saving.
HARRY: That sure is a lot of money, though.
HAGRID: They also had life insurance.
HARRY: I guess that makes sense. Still…it's so much money.
HAGRID: OK. You want the truth? Your parents were arms dealers. They used magic to smuggle weapons in and out of the Middle East. They also poached elephants and ran a crooked nursing home. Happy?
Chapter Six: The Journey From Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
Better Title: It's Pronounced "Her Me Own." Right?
Ron! Hermione! Neville! Fred! George! And Ginny.
The gang is all here in this chapter and it's so strange to watch them meet for the first time. Harry has been instructed to take the train arriving at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, which is an odd thing to tell a wizard since I assume most have no understanding of fractions.
At the station, Harry finds Platform Nine and Platform Ten, but has no clue where Nine and Three-Quarters is located. He's too afraid to ask anyone, but overhears a family of redheads talk about Muggles. He follows the family closely and watches as the first three boys seem to vanish into the wall.
Yep, these are the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley notices Harry and senses his confusion. She tells him to run straight for the wall and he'll find the train to Hogwarts on the other side. Harry is a tad skeptical, but not nearly as skeptical as I would be. If a strange woman, even one as motherly and warm as Mrs. Weasley, told me to run into a wall, I might first touch the wall or gently kick it with my boot before barreling into it at full speed.
But not Harry. He races towards the wall and on the other side finds the big beautiful Hogwarts Express. He hops on board, and the Weasley twins help him with his luggage. Fred and George are smartass pranksters, but they're always friendly and helpful. They're like Johnny Knoxville, if Johnny Knoxville were raised by Paula Deen.
The twins find out that Harry Potter is, indeed, the Harry Potter and quickly spread the word. Ron finds a seat next to Harry and the two slowly but surely become best friends forever…thanks to candy.
Ron is poor, but Harry has lots of money, so he buys them all sorts of sweets and treats from the food cart. Next to Diagon Alley, this scene is my favorite in the book because it's fun, funny, and just makes you feel good, like when you watch penguins or find the person who stole your DVD collection and kick them in the junk.
Ron explains a bit of the wizarding world to Harry, mainly focusing on collectible wizard cards and Quidditch. I'll have more to say on the sport later, but right now I'm left wondering: Is this the only sport wizards have?
Surely they could come up with more activities. Wizards can fly, for crying out loud! And what type of school only offers one sport? I went to a relatively small high school and even we had basketball, football, soccer, tennis, rifle, swimming, and a sport I made up called "Dan tries to jump over the tennis net but fails."
So why does a school that is equipped with greenhouses, dungeons, magical creatures, and ghosts only offer one sport? And just because you're a wizard, that doesn't meant you can't also enjoy basketball. Not everything needs to be filled with goofy magic. Pick up a damn field hockey stick, you lazy fools.
There's a lot happening on the train. Neville Longbottom is crying because he lost his toad. Lee Jordon is showing off a tarantula. Hermione pops in, acts bossy and bookish, and introduces herself. And before you know it, they arrive at Hogwarts.
The first year students must take boats to the castle. I don't know why.
HARRY: So wizards don't play basketball?
RON: No. They can only play Quidditch.
HARRY: What about football?
RON: Nope. Quidditch is our only sport.
HARRY: But surely there are more games you can play using brooms. Why not have races?
HARRY: Or play baseball on the tops of clouds?
RON: Quidditch is all we have.
HARRY: How odd. It's easy to come up with more sports. I would think creative and powerful wizards would have more activities. Just sitting here I thought of three more games.
RON: What the hell is a three?
Related post: Blogging Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Part 2