Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading Harry Potter With My Mom: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Plus Order of the Phoenix)

Mom and I have now read Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. I didn't get a chance to write up GoF, which we finished in October, so I'm adding it to OotP, which was finished just before New Years. Shall we proceed?

Goblet of Fire is really where the series transitions from children's series to young adult. It gets darker and the characters are starting to leave childhood behind and enter the beginnings of adulthood. Voldemort's getting stronger, Harry and Ron have what may be their worst fight of the series, the world is hitting that point of no return when nothing will ever be the same again. We have our first real death. It's not the series it's been for the last three books.

This book also had a ton of accents. Which kind of drove me as the narrator insane. Especially trying to flip from Scottish to my normal accent to French to Russian and back. This moment of "Death to all accents!" brought to you by Madame Maxime, Fleur Delacour, Rubeus Hagrid, Igor Karkaroff, and Viktor Krum.

Group pic of the foreign wizards at the photo shoot for the Triwizard news article (art by hooraylorraine on deviantart)

This is the book where we also find out that Snape used to be a Death Eater. Which is actually something that is a huge deal and since I've known this fact for a long time, I sometimes forget how huge it was. But Mom's reaction reminded me. Because after I read that Snape was a Death Eater, I swear to god, she whipped around and did an exact impersonation of Dramatic Chipmunk.

"Snape a Death Eater?! My god man!"

We've also realized (and this may be hitting Mom more than me) just how much of the light-hearted moments and Harry just getting to be a teenager is left out of the movies. Goblet of Fire is one of the thickest books. And yet its movie is one of the shortest in the franchise. Characters were discarded, moments like the letter with too many stamps and the Ton-Tongue Toffeee were done away with, and back story is slashed. Plus, one of my favorite characters (and Mom's), Pigwidgeon is never introduced. Plus the great moment of Hermione's revenge on Rita Skeeter.

Hermione's conspiracy theories are always correct. (art by mazokups on deviantart)

And then we moved on to Order of the Phoenix. Or, as I like to call it, The Rise of Angst Harry. Alternatively: Harry Potter and the Year of ALL CAPS. Because Harry is angry and edgy through out the entirety of this year. I mean, who can blame him seeing as people are suspicious of him and think he's a nutter? But he does seem to do an inordinate amount of shouting.

Umbridge is introduced this year and my mom wanted her to burn in a fiery pit of molten lava and poisonous snakes. Which is of course the appropriate reaction to Umbridge. Next to Voldemort and Bellatrix, she may be the most evil character in the entire series. But Umbridge+Angst!Harry= Sarcastic Harry. Who just may be my favorite Harry of all. Because his sarcasm is just absolutely hilarious.

I tried to find a picture of sarcastic Harry but this is as close as I got

Plus, with the introduction of Umbridge, we get sarcastic and witty McGonagall who hates Umbridge meddling. Actually, one of the best things about this book is that all of Hogwarts (except for Flich and most of the Slytherins) completely hate Umbridge and undermine her at every turn. But McGonagall vs Umbridge is the greatest piece. One of the best exchanges in the book is McGonagall speaking with Harry after Umbridge sends him to her office. "Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?" "Yes" "Youcalled her a liar" "Yes" "You told her He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back?" "Yes" "Have a biscuit, Potter." The entire force of teachers hating her is fantastic
Miverna McGonagall: Better than You since 1935 (art by wotchertons7 on deviantart)

And of course, Mom loved the Weasley twins and their attacks on Umbridge. As well as the teachers just saying "Screw it, you can deal with all of it" and even using her own words and rules against her. She agreed that the exit of Fred and George deserved a better filming than happened in the movie, because it is just such a wonderful moment and rallying point of solidarity for the school. This is one moment where it would have been nice if Peeves existed.

by Laura Freeman
"Give her hell from us, Peeves. Oh wait, you don't exist." (art by Laura Freeman)

This is also the book where you start to fall even more in love with Neville. He has had every bit the hardship that Harry has, and while Harry's parents may be gone, I think Neville may have it worse off, with parents who probably can't even remember who he is. But still he loves them and wants to make them proud. I think the reason he hasn't told anyone about them is that he wants to protect them from cruel comments. I very much started choking up and crying a little when I was reading the scene where Neville's in St. Mungo's on Christmas. And Neville totally has Harry's back 100%, even when Harry doesn't want him at the Battle of the Ministry. He never leaves Harry to defend himself, even when he's got a broken nose and can't cast incantations right. But still he stays. Because he though he's loyal as a Hufflepuff, he is also every bit as brave as a Gryffindor.

If you didn't get choked up at this part, you're dead inside (art by Laverinth on deviantart)

This book probably had the most emotionally draining last six chapters until Deathly Hallows. And we read from the Battle at the Ministry through to Dumbledore talking with Harry after Sirius's death (about four chapters) in one sitting. There was screaming and emotional trauma and my voice was wrecked for the next two days, but I think that part needed to be read in one go. It gives the full impact of the emotion and you get the heartbreak of Sirius' death along with the aftermath of loss. Plus Dumbledore answers a lot of the questions that have been building in the series. Mom though was both upset about Sirius' death and angry that Rowling keeps killing people off. It was a very emotional night.

Basically my emotions that night (art by toerning on deviantart)

Although we did have a moment of Dumbledore is a badass and can do whatever the hell he wants. Because he's Albus Frickin' Dumbledore. He brings and entire set of bronze statues to life and sends two off to get Fudge while the others stay to fight and protect. He fights Voldemort (one of the most powerful Dark wizards in history) while simultaneously keeping an eye on Harry to make sure Voldemort doesn't hurt him. If he doesn't want to be found, he won't be found, no matter who is looking for him. He is so badass that his pet if a creature who never dies and will only stay with you if it really bonds with you. He dies because he allows it to happen, not because he was beaten. You do not mess with Albus Dumbledore.

Battle in the Ministry, by Beeeb
"I am Albus Percival Wulfic Brian Dumbledore. Do not even think about it." (art by Beeeb on Deviantart).

We have now begun Half Blood Prince. Which is surprisingly shorter than Order of the Phoenix. The end is nigh. Bring the tissue.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top Ten Moments of 2011

I am a little late to the party (although I did post this on Tumblr a little while back. By the way, I'm kind of addicted to Tumblr now) but these are the highlights of my past year.

In no particular order:

1. Graduation from Western Washington University and All That Day Entailed: This day was a bittersweet one. Because I’d accomplished what I set out to do at Western and had my degree in hand within my planned two years. But this also meant leaving a place that felt like home and the wonderful people I met and love there. However, this day also included the Epic Canadian Sojourn, which is a completely fantastic story involving a sack of oranges, a street magician, one cute hotel/casino driver named Marius, slipping past tram police, British accents, and road signs that didn’t wish to be read.

2. Summer at the Hive: I spent two fantastic weeks last July with my friends at a house called the Hive. Pretty much this house and the people in are the reason for half of my great stories. If not more. These people (Natalie and Erin especially) are…well there are no words to describe them. We had a fourth of July barbecue (complete with rooftop 90s music concert) and hung out at the Presbyterian church (and freaked out a few church goers at one point) and had a masque and attended the HP 7.2 premiere together. I always cherish the little time I get to spend at the Hive, but those two weeks are ones I will always look back on with fondness.

3. A Very Potter Musical Glee: If you have even glanced at this blog, you may have seen that I love Harry Potter and A Very Potter Musical. The Glee Club at Western this past winter actually did the song “Get Back to Hogwarts” and I got to be a part of it. It. Was. AWESOME! Getting to be a part of that and hang out with some truly excellent people was amazing. I loved it.

4. Becky: Speaking of excellent people, I know that technically Becky is not a moment, but our friendship is one of my favorite things about 2011. A friendship that actually started as a mock Facebook battle over a fictional character and who loved him more. Which basically gives you a good idea of how our relationship works. She is totally awesome and I love that she makes me laugh just as much I as make her grin.

5. Glee Summer Spectacular: I got to spend another amazing weekend this past summer (this summer is probably one of my favorite ever, second only to my London summer) with Becky and a whole group of fantastic people from the Glee club. We got attacked by a rooster and played Friends Scene It and went star tripping and hung out at night on this dock with water pretty much on all sides. We laughed til we cried and were basically insane. It was totally awesome!

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Premiere: Yes, I know I mentioned this above, but it’s important enough to garner its own slot. This one night was basically the close of my childhood. I know that Harry Potter will never truly be over, because the fandom will live on, but this was pretty much the end of an era. The characters I had grown up reading and the actors I had grown up watching, were giving their final curtain bow. The experience of waiting with everyone else in line, all of them just as excited as I, is something that I’m not sure will ever happen again in quite that magnitude. It is a memory I will cherish.

7. The Saddest Pirate Ship That Ever Did Sail: I believe this happened just before I joined Tumblr, so I never regaled you with the adventure of The Pirate Ship Cake. If you are a Starkid, you may remember that right before Starship came out, they had a profile picture contest on Facebook. It just had to relate to Starship in some way. Becky and I decided to bake a cake, make it a pirate ship and put stars all over it (Star Ship, get it?). Well, we didn’t get it done in time, but we decided to make the cake anyway. Unfortunately, we are impatient and the cake hated us, so while it kind of looked like a cake, it was also kind of unstable. Delicious, but wobbly.

8. Modeling Session with Jenny: Yes, another summer one (what can I say? My summer was epic). My cousin is a fantastic photographer with her own business, Jenny Ostenson Photography, based in Tacoma. She was looking for people to model for her over the summer and I happened to be close enough and have the time (plus inclination). She was so much fun to work with and I got to feel beautiful for the two hours or so that we took pictures. Beautiful and goofy and happy. There are more pictures from the session here. I will never be a model, but I had a blast doing this with Jenny.

9. I Met Kate Voegele: Because my sister is a huge One Tree Hill addict, we learned about Kate Voegele and fell in love with her music. She has beautiful lyrics and plays the piano and guitar and I don’t think there is a single song she’s released that I dislike. So when we heard she was coming to Portland to perform (hardly ANYONE comes to the West Coast) we jumped on the opportunity. And the show was actually Andy Grammer (who we now love as well) and Kate Voegele with Natasha Bedingfield as the headliner. After their sets, both Andy Grammer and Kate came out to this little counter by the entrance and signed autographs and talked with people. I didn’t have anything for her to sign so my sister dared me to have her sign my arm. Which I did and then she took a picture with us. And after the show was over, she was still there and Mom got to meet her as well. She was so sweet and down to earth and probably one of the nicest people you could hope to meet (and she didn’t look at me like I was insane when I asked her to sign my arm. That wins her bonus points).

10. My 21st Birthday: I finally reached my 21st birthday this year. My celebration was tame, compared to many people’s (one drink at Red Robin with a friend and then a movie night in), but for me getting drunk is not why I’m excited about being 21. Being 21 means that I can go to a bar, if I should so choose. I can go to karaoke nights or book clubs that meet in bars. I can go out to dance clubs. It gives me the last bit of freedom society holds in reserve, though I will be carded mercilessly for probably the next fifteen years.

Honorable Mentions

1. My Sister Getting Engaged: My little sister got engaged this year (although the proposal story is kind of hilarious and will not be the one she probably tells her children) and she named me her maid of honor. Which shocked me and for which I feel honored. Hopefully we will not have a bridezilla on our hands as July draws closer. She did pick lovely bridesmaids dresses though, and her dress is gorgeous.

2. Leading Worship for the First Time: I am on Worship Team at my church, which basically means I sing with the Worship Leader and try to get people excited about singing for the Lord. Some days that’s easier than others. Also, I am not allowed to clap, because I have a…fluid sense of rhythm. But this past November, the pastor’s wife, Grace, who is in charge of worship, began giving me songs to lead. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I led probably half of the songs, plus read a picture book to the children. The reading went better than the singing since I hadn’t gotten a chance to practice and I think Grace overestimates my vocal abilities (the nice thing about church ladies is they will tell you that you were great even if you sucked), but being given the opportunity feels amazing. Plus it’s helping me get the confidence to sing on my own in front of people without my legs feeling like Jello.

3. Yule Ball 2011: This was my third Yule Ball and may have been one of my favorites. I went as Harry Freakin’ Potter (Darren Criss’ Potter for those who miss the reference) and won third place in the costume contest. There was the impromptu rendition of Get Back to Hogwarts, Voldemort dancing to Thriller, and just merriment in general with good music and great friends. It was beautiful and fun and totally awesome

I will miss 2011 dearly. It was a transition year for me, figuring out more about who I am and what I want (spolier alert: I still have a very vague idea about the latter). I left Western and came home, but part of me stayed in Bellingham. I got my first job in two years and met amazing people and grew up just a little more. I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store.