Blogging Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Part 11
Chapter Thirty-One: O.W.L.s
Better Title: Wizard Job Market Is Non-Existent
I bet the kids at Hogwarts all enjoy reading a series of books about a special orphaned child who excelled at mathematics and science, went to a school of business, and one day battled an evil lawyer named Mr. Trevor-Mort. Perhaps the Hogwarts students also find escape in the pages of a phone book or by watching the agriculture report on the news.
We never really find out how the wizards and witches spend their entertainment dollars, aside from Quidditch tickets. If you have the ability to summon ghostly stags and travel through time, seeing the latest superhero movie is a tad ho-hum. And what good is a video game if you can already fly?
Instead of talking about the wonderful The Avengers, perhaps a young wizard will shout, "Dude! Did you watch Larry Crowne? That movie was amazing!!! I loved that one scene when Tom Hanks sat down! It was gooble-tan!" (I imagine that wizard youth slang would include the term "gooble-tan," which roughly translates to "freaking awesome!")
Wizard children care little for so-called action-packed movies and shows, and are much more enthralled with the everyday stuff you and I take for granted. A wizard child may pass up the chance to see The Dark Knight Rises to instead read the ingredients list on a package of socks. And for a young witch, the choice between a roller-coaster and a sturdy bench is no choice at all.
Why am I bringing this up?
While reading about Harry's O.W.L.s (which are similar to our S.A.T.s) I wondered if "writer" popped up on the short list of possible wizarding occupations. The obvious answer is no. Wizards cannot be writers, or at least are not given that option in school. If you want to be a writer in the wizarding world, you have to teach yourself, just as you must teach yourself about sexual reproduction and fractions.
The students of Hogwarts do not take any sort of English composition class, and it's a wonder that Harry can even say, let alone read, a complete sentence. Pity.
I then also assumed that the greatest of wizard authors are probably complete hacks. They don't have even the most rudimentary training or writing skills. Their books are no doubt rife with run-on sentences, comma splices, typos, and all the narrative subtext and artistry of a Taco Bell print ad, or worse, a Twilight novel.
I also suspect that wizard fiction is dreadfully boring. Creativity and art are subjects not broached in the halls of Hogwarts, and so those students who wish to express themselves must either A) be really super-good at Quidditch, as athleticism seems to be the only way a student may express himself or B) express themselves poorly.
He who can write a list of fictional colors may be considered a grand literary master.
With this in mind, my new goal in life, after I buy that jetpack and tempt a werewolf into biting me, is to travel to an area with a large wizard population and set up shop as writer. In a matter of a days I will become the Shakespeare of the wizarding world! I am by no means a good or even a competent writer, but surely I can entertain wizards with such books as:
Carl Eats Soup: Book 2 of the Carl Eats Liquid Chronicles
Birds I've Seen
Rocks and Eggs
The Adventures of the Clock on the Wall
People Named Rick
Help! I Found a Nickel!
Refrigerators Are Just Food Closets
Laura Sneezes While Gregory Does Not
Wizards who care not for the literature of popular Muggle authors may marvel at my amazing and tedious novels.
If there are any wizards out there reading this list, you are probably clicking over to Barnes and Noble right now to try and order these boring-in-a-good-way books. Stay tuned!
This is what crossed my mind while reading this chapter. As to what actually happens in the book, you can go ahead and read the chapter yourself…if you haven't already. Not much happens. Harry takes tests, Hagrid fights some people, and then Harry dreams.
Favorite Part of the Chapter: Hagrid kicking ass.
McGONAGALL: And so to transform into a waffle, you must flick your wrists and…Yes? What is it, Mr. Potter?
POTTER: Professor, no offense, but when are we ever going to need to know this stuff in the real world?
McGONAGALL: I see. You think these lessons are useless, do you?
POTTER: No. But…I mean….in the real world, we'll never need to turn into a waffle, or change a cactus into a walrus.
McGONAGALL: Very well. What would you have me teach? What skills do you require in the real world, Mr. Potter?
HERMIONE: And trigonometry! We need to know cosines and tangents and Celsius and….
POTTER: And I'd like to know how Spain came about! That'll be ever so useful!
McGONAGALL: Hmph. I don't see how knowing about cosines and Spain will help you anymore than knowing how to turn a ladybug into a shoe.
POTTER: Maybe you're right. Maybe all high schools, both magical and real, are merely teenage daycare centers. Maybe education needs to be reevaluated and curriculums altered to suit the needs of modern teens.
McGONAGALL: How insightful.
POTTER: But can you at least tell us where babies come from?
McGONAGALL: When a women has to use the bathroom, and she holds it for a very long time, she becomes pregnant.
RON: I knew it!!!
Chapter Thirty-Two: Out of the Fire
Better Title: Umbridge is Almost Gone!
Harry's dream from the previous chapter showed Sirius being attacked in the Ministry of Magic. Harry is sure this dream is a reality and hurries to find anyone who can help him. But Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid are all gone. When Harry asks Ron and Hermy for help, Hermy is a little hesitant and thinks maybe Harry has a bit of hero complex.
I must agree. All the time Harry wants to save the day and defeat evil. It's noble, and without his help the world would end, but surely he's setting himself up for a disappointing, lackluster adult life.
After he saves the universe from evil, how can anything else compare? Poor guy. He's going to need a pretty good hobby. Maybe he can escape his disappointing life by reading my forthcoming wizard novel, "Albert Gets Mail."
Of course, everyone agrees to help Harry contact Grimmauld place using Umbridge's magical fire. Ron, Hermione, Luna, and some random lamp help Harry, but he's caught by a seething Umbridge.
Umbridge calls for Snape and orders him to use the truth serum on Harry to find out what he's been up to. Snape, who we all know is a good guy, says he's out of truth serum. Harry yells a coded message about "Padfoot" to Snape before Umbridge uses the Cruciatus curse on poor Harry.
But Hermione speaks up and lies to Umbridge, telling her that Harry and the rest have been building a secret weapon. Umbridge believes Hermione and demands to be shown the ultimate weapon.
Favorite Part of the Chapter: Knowing what's about to happen to Umbridge.
20 Years Later
GINNY: Honey, do you want to go bowling tonight with the McLaggens?
HARRY: Ugh. I hate the McLaggens. They're your friends. I don’t see why I have to go.
GINNY: Stop it. It'll be fun.
HARRY: Fun? Fun was stealing the flying car from your dad. Fun was riding a Hippogriff and saving Sirius. Fun was preventing the world from ending. Bowling? Bowling ain't exactly fun, love.
GINNY: Yes, yes. I know, dear. You had wonderful adventures. But now maybe bowling can be an adventure!
HARRY: Nuts to that. I want real adventure. Something that really matters.
GINNY: Well, how about the loser has to buy pizza?
HARRY: Or, the loser has to watch a father figure get murdered in front of his own eyes!
GINNY: Oh Harry. You haven't gotten any father figures left, remember? Hagrid had a heart attack? And my dad was killed in that electricity accident.
HARRY: I can make a new father figure. Um…this sock. [Harry holds up a sock.] Yes. This is my new father figure. And surely he will never die! His name is Keith!
GINNY: I should have married Neville…
HARRY: Keith, did you know my parents? What were they like, Keith? Tell me everything!
Chapter Thirty-Three: Fight and Flight
Better Title: Centaurs Are Amazing
Hermione leads the Umbridge and Harry into the Forbidden Forest, and then everything becomes every shade of awesome. The mighty and scary centaurs attack the group after Umbridge says some unkind words about the creatures.
I like to read this chapter slowly, to savor every sentence and adjective. My favorite verb from this scene is "wriggling," which describes Umbridge as she is attacked and carried off by the centaurs.
And then Grawp shows up and there's a rather entertaining scuffle.
My only real complaint about the attack on Umbridge is that it's not nearly enough. I wanted her to suffer more. While we never really find out what happens after she's taken away by the centaurs. We do know she doesn’t die. In fact, she manages to escape somehow. But that's for another book.
Let's just all close our eyes and hum a few bars of "Ding-Dong, the Witch Is (Presumably) Dead!"
So Harry and Hermione meet up with Luna, Ron, and a lamp. Harry says they must go to the Ministry to save Sirius. But how will they get there if the brooms are all locked up?
Favorite Part of the Chapter: When Umbridge screams and wriggles.
HERMIONE: The centaurs are probably going to kill Umbridge…
HARRY: Eh. Maybe. Hard to say with centaurs.
HERMIONE: But isn't that a tad much?
HARRY: She made me do extra homework, Herms!
HERMIONE: Fair point. Let's go adventure and not think of Umbridge's outcome for an entire year!
House Bergstein School Announcements
I'm very disappointed in you and your actions at prom. I thought it was to be a fun night of mature, sophisticated revelry. Instead, there was a fair bit of damage done. Here is just a sample:
1 broken table
1 table turned into a lizard that blinked fire
4 missing limbs (3 of which were found in the Chamber of Eww)
18 broken windows
13 acts of portrait harassing
1 flea storm on the dance floor
5 broken seals to dimensions of hate
The entire library was turned into a horse of some sort
There was a fire inside another fire inside the teacher's lounge
The Goblet of Fire was used for inappropriate bathroom activities
The entire downstairs was flooded with a wave of fur
34 students somehow caught the plague
The Lighting Troll is still missing in the girl's lavatory
And everyone somehow got a tattoo of a Super Mario on their ankle
For this reason, Prom 2 has been canceled this August.
Until you can show me you are responsible partygoers, I fear we can never dance again.
I'm both angry and disappointed. Money for the repairs is coming out of the "Trip to the Chocolate Water Park" fund. I do hope you're happy.
Read every book.
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