#harrypottersummer–Goblet of Fire Pt. 2

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So, no jewelry this week, seeing as I’m late on this post anyway. The piece is made, but it’s not one that should be too hard to make a tutorial for, so I’d like to do that. For now, more thoughts, though.

*****

On probably the lightest note this post, I really wish I had the talent to draw my mental image of Hermione glowering at people and shaking the SPEW tin under their noses. It’s hilarious in my head, but my lines are way too static to pull off what I want out of it.

*****

I never actually got Harry and Hermione as a relationship until this reread, but this time around I can sort of see it. They do work remarkably well together, with the single qualifier of “when they have a goal.” When they don’t, they seem to get bored of each other a little bit, and it’s this as much as personal taste that makes me think they really do need Ron there as a buffer.

*****

Dumbledore casually insulting Aberforth by suggesting that he’s an idiot actually made me cringe this time around. Without the backstory it’s just an offhand joke, done in an attempt to make Hagrid feel better, but knowing the Dumbledore family’s history colors it completely differently. Knowing what happened then, it’s hard not to see that single comment as something of a remnant of the attitude that ended up with Dumbledore’s sister dead and his brother hating him. The man may have made a lot of strides toward trying to be kinder, but the parts of him that caused the problem in the first place certainly aren’t completely gone. And it’s not only in the manipulation that you can see them.

*****

I lied above. The actual lightest note in this post: apparently Hogwarts’ sewage system comes out in the Great Lake. Which the students then swim in. Gross.

*****

I need to say again just how much I love the chapters in the cemetery, when Voldermort comes back. They’re what really sold me on the series, and what launched me from enjoying the books into being obsessed with them.

It’s not only the surprise of them, or the major change that’s made to the series, either. Looking back, Rowling’s writing is really, really good here; I’m not sure any chapters stand out this much to me until “The Forest Again” in the last book. First there’s the off kilter, confusing creepiness of “Flesh, Blood, and Bone,” where we have no more idea what’s going on than Harry and the magic suddenly looks less like the practical, almost scientific things we’ve seen before and more like a Satanic ritual. Then the hints to the future in “The Death Eaters.” Then in “Priori Incantatum” there’s a nicely exciting fight scene, which is probably better than anything we’ve gotten up to this point, culminating in the completely heartbreaking titular spell.

Rowling had written some powerful things before, but none of them had ever quite gotten to me like these scenes did. Again, this is where I really started to love the series.

*****
And speaking of creepy things, is Nagini’s venom necessary for Voldemort’s recovery potion because she’s a Horcrux? I had assumed it was just something along the lines of “blah, snakes, evil” for a long time, but that actually makes much more sense, if he’s basically pumping bits of his own soul back into himself.

*****

This may be stirring the pot a little, but seriously, I always trusted Snape and viewed him as a hero. Is he a petty, childish jerk most of the time? Sure, but those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, seeing as how he does plenty of heroic things. Albeit, often, jerkily.

There are a couple of moments in this book that are good examples of him rushing to help while, or sometimes by, being a crabby douche. Obviously there’s his agreeing to spy again at the end, but you can also see it in little things, like insistence at Karkaroff: “I, however, am remaining at Hogwarts.”

The bit that stuck out to me this time was when Fudge refuses to admit that Voldemort might be back and he immediately offers his Dark Mark as proof, with no concern for what people might think of him. Instead of trying to hide it, he places the worst thing he’s ever done flat on the table because it’s necessary to, because it might convince the Minister to help them stop another reign of terror. That’s surprisingly noble; if Fudge had believed him he’d have basically been sacrificing anything he’d built after he war, and Fudge believing him was the goal.

I do understand where people see the bad outweighing the good with this character, but so many seem to want to deny that the good is there in the first place. That above? That takes courage and self-sacrifice. I won’t deny that they’re things he’s missing a lot of the time, but they do exist in him, about as much as they’re missing.

Given, I like my asshole characters, so I may be willing to go a little easy on them…

*****

This one was honestly great to reread: there’s plenty of atmosphere, they mystery’s good, and for as dark as it can get, it’s also really fun. The next book in the series has always been my least favorite, and I can’t help but think some of that is due to its placement right after something I loved so much.

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#harrypottersummer–Goblet of Fire Pt. 1

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Goblet of Fire was always the turning point in the series for me. Obviously it’s the point where things start to get darker and the schoolyard shenanigans begin to give way to the actual war, but it was also the point where I went from enjoying the series to flat out loving it. Even though you can tell this one is going to be different right from the opening scene those last couple of chapters completely blew my mind the first time I read them. I really never quite expected JK to go there.

We’ll get to that when we get to it, though. For now I’m not even at the first task of the tournament yet.

*****

As seemingly fluffy as the Quidditch World Cup scenes are at the beginning, I still really love them. Mostly I like this fourth book because it ups the stakes, but these happy, silly scenes really capture that feeling of being at a huge event in a giant crowd for me. There’s a palpable sense of excitement and the sort of build that you only get in a large group, and that has to hard to capture in writing. Reading this I feel the same sort of light happiness that I get when I’m at a concert or a fair or even a baseball game.

*****

Looking back, it’s kind of astounding that I didn’t see the ending coming. There’s the opening, of course, but the scenes once the World Cup goes wrong are really astoundingly dark. Like, you literally have adults torturing helpless children. Add onto that the general morally suspect nature of “Moody’s” behavior and the fact that he spells out his whole plan at the beginning, and well….

That said, it’s actually really clever how it’s done. Anytime he does something creepy it’s either paranoid and in character, done with a decent excuse, or done to characters we’re supposed to dislike. Regardless, we’re willing to accept it. And for the rest, we have Harry himself downplaying everything. Again, it’s really good misdirection, and I think a lot of that is down to the fact that JK knows how stories work and how to use that against the audience.

*****

Going back to the scenes after the World Cup, we see Stan Shunpike in the forest bewitched by a Veela. If I recall correctly he gets Imperiused later, right? Is the man just susceptible to mental manipulation?

*****

Ok, last one, and this requires some quoting:

It was common knowledge that Snape really wanted the Dark Arts job, and he had now failed to get it for the fourth year running. Snape had disliked all of the previous Dark Arts teachers, and shown it….”

Harry, honey, you make this sound like such a moral failing, but let’s be fair here. Quirrell was trying to kill you and steal a priceless artifact, everyone, including you, hated Lockhart because he was an idiot, and Lupin was a personal grudge. I don’t think it’s just that they beat him out for the job. Snape’s petty as hell a lot of the time, but that’s not really the problem in this instance.

*****

I’m beginning to remember why this was always one of my favorites: the mystery’s good, the clues are all there, and the build on the tension is both present and subtle. And like I said, those ending chapters quite possibly made the series for me. I’m looking forward to finishing it up.

#harrypottersummer-Prisoner of Azkaban Pt. 2

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As it turns out, I appear to have a lot of thoughts on Prisoner of Azkaban. Book three was far more fruitful than book two on the thinking front, and it makes me wonder why I’ve written this one off for so long. Maybe my thoughts on this series are changing; maybe this time around I’ll even like book five!

I’ve actually found myself pondering why my feelings here are so changed. I would say it’s knowing the backstory between all of the previous generation’s characters, but I’ve known that on rereads before. That is where the interest is, though, and I wonder if my new reaction has anything to do with the fact that I’m older now. The kids’ parts are strangely more boring than the background drama with the adults, and even in college I know I was focusing more on the Trio than anything else. A whole other world opens up when you focus on the teachers instead.

*****

So, going back to Harry finding out Sirius betrayed his parents, I love how in the book he goes more sarcastic and bitter than screamy. It seems to fit the way his life has been better for me. Out-screaming Uncle Vernon is probably not a thing that’s going to happen, but outwitting him or just venting are possibilities for Harry.

*****

“Your head is not allowed in Hogsmeade.”

Sometimes you just need to quote the really great lines.

*****

One of the things I’ve always liked about Hermione is that, while she’s very caring and empathetic, she’s not always the greatest about knowing how to deal with people. She expects everyone to be as logical and sensible as she is, and it leads to things like trying to calm her best friend down by telling him there’s no real proof after her cat most likely ate his pet. It’s technically true, but it’s not something that’s going to help the situation.

I’ve known a lot of people who are very like that. On some level I probably am one. It’s a nice little detail that seems very true to life for me.

I also love that Ron is the one who decides to be mature and end the fight. It’s a side to his character that you don’t see that often.

*****

On a last random note, Harry’s made-up prediction about Buckbeak flying away does come true. Ron’s not the only one who has sarcastic divination powers.

*****

IMG_20160801_195755875This week’s nerdy jewelry is a Maurader’s Map bracelet. No tutorial, because while it turned out alright, it ended up being more of a prototype than anything. Suffice to say that, given time to go out to a real craft store, I think I can come up with a version that doesn’t require three hours of cutting, sanding, and drilling plexiglass.

Still, I think it’s pretty.

 

#harrypottersummer-Prisoner of Azkaban Pt. 1

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I want to apologize for the decided lack of posts last week. It turns out fever delirium makes it sort of hard to write….

So, as always with these, I want to start out with a couple of random ideas that occurred to me while rereading. And I actually have quite a few here!

As much as I like the last book, Prisoner of Azkaban is really where things start to get going. If Philospher’s Stone is all the setup of the world, and Chamber of Secrets has all of the secret magical mechanics for Voldemort’s story squirreled away, then this one has all of the character development for the previous generation and war tucked into its corners. Maybe it’s just because these were the three that I never had to wait for, but I think between them they form the foundation for the series. And I’m pretty sure that’s intentional. As we all know, everything’s going to come crashing down next book, and that bedrock’s necessary for the audience to see the ways that crash changes things.

Again, I’m about halfway through this book: around the point where we find out Sirius “betrayed” the Potters.

*****

If you’ve read any tumblr post, ever, you probably know the way in which the current fandom likes to try and cram Muggle technology into the Wizarding World. These ideas are usually hit and miss for me: sometimes they’re creative and interesting, sometimes they seem out of character for the setting. This is mostly to say I completely get the urge, though. When Harry’s messing around with a dip pen and inkwell under the sheets in the middle of the night, and complaining about ink stains on the bed, I sort of want to shake him. Child! Get a ballpoint and a notebook! Recopy it onto parchment later!

*****

I find myself wondering if Ron’s rhapsody about Honeyduke’s is what got turned into “Ron loves food” for the movies. I don’t think we’ve seen him quite so gleeful about it before.

*****

Lupin’s reaction to Snape in their early scenes is very interesting on reread. Not knowing the background you assume his pleasantness in the face of Snape’s viciousness is either just a personality trait or an attempt to avoid a feud with a coworker. Understanding what went on in the past, though, it seems like an offer of an olive branch. Lupin’s trying to put the grudge behind him, and isn’t being met in turn. Snape either can’t or won’t forget.

*****

Speaking of whom, did Snape know that Sirius wasn’t actually a Death Eater? Would he have known that Peter was?

*****

It’s easy to think that Harry’s being incredibly stupid by using the Marauder’s Map to sneak into Hogsmeade. For all he knows there’s a murderer after him, and regardless of the actual case there are still horrific, soul-sucking monsters that he’s weak against guarding the village.

But it’s also completely understandable from the perspective of a teenager who’s been completely ostracized from any sort of group all his life. He’s probably thinking that once again he’s been left out of things more than he’s thinking about the risk; it’s not like Harry’s a character that takes personal risk into account that much in the first place.

I would also like to point out how Hermione is the only one who has any sense here. Wasn’t there a meme at one point about how Harry and Ron both should just listen to her all the time?

*****

This was never one of my favorite books in the series; in fact it’s actually pretty low on the list. I’m definitely enjoying it more this time around than I ever have before though. From a character perspective it’s sort of a gold mine.

#harrypottersummer-Chamber of Secrets

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Only one extra post this week, largely because I’m finding that my thoughts on this book are either very similar to my thoughts on the last book (“Wow, it’s really amazing how much she’s already setting up here!”) or fairly standard as far as observations go (“She’s really expanding the world! Almost like this is the second book in a series!”).

So I only have a couple of things here that are really worth sharing. So let’s go!

*****

This is basically another comment on setup, but the Wizarding World is so broad, and Harry knows so little about it that it would be very easy for J. K. to just sort of add whatever she needed for the plot to work. I remember, when I first read them, that I felt that was what she was doing a lot of the time, but no. The more I reread here the more I see that almost every little quirk in the world and the people is given some sort of understated introduction before it becomes important.

I also like that all of this setup has an easiness to it that I don’t see that often. I’m usually pretty good about picking out the Chekov’s Gun in a piece early on, but rereading I’m still not sure I could do it for Harry Potter accurately. Some of this is because there are so many of them, but I think a lot of it has to do with how they’re placed in the story. They have a tendency to come up naturally, as a small part of some humorous episode instead of flatly in the introduction, so they’re hard to see for what they are. I’m impressed; it’s good misdirection.

*****

Did Malfoy just buy out the entire stock of Borgin and Burkes in Halfblood Prince? Literally everything Harry eyes up during his Floo-induced mishap shows up there. I suppose the guy has enough money to do so, but dang. Seems to defeat the purpose of selling to them in the first place.

*****

I just love Molly Weasley. She’s the comic stereotype of the disgruntled houeswife, who’s alternately sweet and hot tempered, and it’s treated seriously here. J. K. gives her dignity and capability where a lot of authors wouldn’t, and it makes her a pretty unique character so far as literature is concerned. So often being a housewife is seen as a mark of failure or silliness, so it’s good to get a character who can hold their own and chose that because it was what she wanted.

*****

I’ve also decided to try to make some theme jewelry for each book as we go through this, since drawing was mostly an exercise in frustration. For Chamber of Secrets I made some phoenix feather earrings, and wrote up a quick tutorial for them.

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What You’ll Need:

– Four gold tone eyepins
-Two gold tone headpins
-Two large gold beads, any shape
-Six small black beads
-Two large red bicone beads, around the same size as the gold ones
-Two smaller bicones in yellow or orange
-About four inches length of chain in bronze or gold
-Four small jump rings
-Four cord crimps
-Two gold tone earring hooks
-Sheer red fabric, enough to make four small 2” square shapes
-Fabric paint in several fire colors (gold, orange, red, bronze, black, etc.)
-One pair round nose pliers (if you have them), one pair wire cutters, one pair needle nose pliers (two if you have no round nose)

This is a pretty simple project, so lot of it is easily open to interpretation and customization. The basic description is of what I did, but play around with the colors and styles of the beads or fabric and see what you get! Also, if you don’t know how to open and close jump rings, eye pins, or chain links, I’ve tried to give written descriptions, but a tutorial with pictures might be helpful.

1) Assemble the tops of the earrings. Do this by feeding one small black bead, one large gold bead, and one more small black bead onto an eyepin. Once all three are seated at the loop on the bottom, make another loop at the top. Do this by placing your needle nose pliers about 1mm away from the edge of the last bead, bending the wire back at an angle, placing your round nose pliers at the bend, and then wrapping the wire around one of their tips. When the loop is completed, cut the excess.

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You can also make a loop with needle nose pliers if you don’t have round nose. It will look a little strange, but nothing noticeable until you get up close.

2) Attach the earring hook to the open loop. Then close the loop by holding each side of the split with a pair of pliers and moving the open end backwards and forwards until it is in alignment with the rest of the piece.

3) Measure out four lengths of chain and separate them. I’m using about an inch each, which makes for fairly long earrings; you can adjust to your own taste.

4) Feed the smaller bicone onto another eyepin and make a loop at the top, like we did in step one.

5) Take one length of chain and attach one end to one of the loops on the smaller bicone, the other to the loop on the black/gold bead combination that doesn’t have the earring hook attached to it. Open the chain links by finding the split in the link, taking a pair of pliers on either side of it, and pulling one forward towards yourself and the other backwards away. Close the links by moving both ends back towards each other in the same way.

6) Feed one small black bead and the large red bicone onto one of the headpins. Again, make a loop at the top of this, then attach one end of another length of chain to this loop, the other to the free loop on the smaller bicone. They should look roughly like this:

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7) Test for length by putting them on. If too long, take out a couple of links in the chain. Repeat these first seven steps for the second earring.

8) On a piece of paper, draw out the template for the fabric “feather.” Mine look like this, with the size at about 2” long and 1 ½” wide, though you can adjust the shape to your liking. Pin or trace this onto the fabric and cut four of them out.

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9) Seal the edges of the fabric with the fabric paint, and then use the rest to paint the fabric to look like the spine and barbs of the feather. I used bronze for the edges, and gold and orange for the details, but again, design yours to your own taste.

10) When dry, crimp all four “feathers” into the four open crimp beads. Then, cut small strips up each side of the fabric, again to mimic the barbs of a natural feather. Be careful not to cut too far through on either side.

11) Attach two feathers to each earring with jump rings, one on the first link of the chain after the gold bead combination and one halfway between that and the smaller bicone.

12) Wear and enjoy!

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#harrypottersummer–Philosopher’s Stone Pt. 2

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So, first and foremost, I got one of them done at least. Not inked, but decent looking.

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Fanart is not my forte; I think I need to make some jewelry or do some embroidery or something for the next book.

And now, more random thoughts.

*****

You know, it’s also kind of astounding how many little things Rowling works in here that are going to pop up later. The unknown story behind the Bloody Baron, Harry asking why Voldemort came after him in the first place, the tiniest hints of Snape’s background: all are going to come up later as major plot points.

She’s even already starting to paint Dumbledore as morally ambiguous, in a way that’s very subtle for the intended audience. When you’re a kid reading these, you sort of think it’s awesome that this ridiculously powerful wizard had enough confidence in Harry to just help him along the way instead of pushing him out of danger. Looking back, though, it’s kind of like “Really, you decided to let the eleven year old handle the life and death situation!?”

My favorite though, so far, is probably “yet [Harry] sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.” I laughed and laughed.

*****

I’d honestly forgotten how much of a snot Hermione was at the beginning here, and how awful Harry and Ron were to her. Considering how close they become later it’s hard to remember that it takes the better part of a book for them to even begin to be friendly.

And speaking of Hermione, I’ve literally never understood why she lied about the troll. Seriously, she could have just said “I ran to the bathroom, and they must have noticed I was gone from the Great Hall, because they came running down the corridor looking for me and yelling my name.” It serves the same purpose of keeping them out of trouble and doesn’t untruthfully implicate herself. I get that it’s supposed to be the first instance of her loosening up about the rules, but her standing up for Harry and Ron and then starting to hang out with them could have done the same thing. Her loosening up was sort of an ongoing process anyway.

*****

So my book Ron looks a little bit like a very young Rick Astley. Just thought you’d all want to know.

*****

One of the things I’ve always loved about the books is how much you need all three of the Trio to form a functional, adventuring whole. The Devil’s Snare at the end of Philosopher’s Stone is a good example: you need Hermione’s book knowledge of what it is and what it dislikes, Harry’s calm in the face of danger to suggest a fire, and Ron’s instinct to jump to magic to solve the problem. And the rest of the tasks continue on in the same course. It’s always frustrated me that the movies cut so much of that out.

*****

Also!

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Boyfriend had coincidentally bought tickets to Harry Potter night at our local symphony before we’d even decided to do this reread, so on Saturday we got to go. I felt awkward taking pictures of total strangers, we were far enough away that I couldn’t get good shots of the official costume contest, so I have no proof of how many people there were dressed up. There were so many, though! It was basically cosplay night at the symphony.

It’s nice to see the fandom’s still a presence, even after the canon’s been done for years, and it makes me giggle a little to see how we haven’t lost our tendency to grab a striped scarf for everything even vaguely Harry Potter themed.

It was also great to hear the music again, and to finally notice the variety of it. Obviously Hedwig’s Theme is iconic, but for every song that I remembered there was another that I couldn’t even place to a specific movie.

And considering how magical Heinz Hall is on its own, it seemed like the perfect setting.

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So next week, on to Chamber of Secrets. This was up there as one of my favorites when I first read them, but I know a lot of other people have problems with it. Looking forward to seeing if it holds up.

 

#harrypottersummer–Philosopher’s Stone Pt. 1

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Status update: At the beginning of Chapter 9 as of last night, about halfway through the book. This first one, at least, I should finish well within the week deadline.

And I think, as of now, I just have a couple of random thoughts, though I’ve started some doodles. Hopefully those will be inked and decent looking by Monday!

*****

First, I know it’s not exactly a novel observation that this was a series that very much grew up as its audience did, but it’s honestly kind of amazing to look back and see how much it did grow. Reading it again after years my thought is that Philosopher’s Stone is bordering on the sort of children’s book that adults can’t read. It has an incredibly intriguing world, but very simple sentence structure, very simple plot, and very simple characters.

But at the same time you can see where Rowling is already leaving it room to become more complex. There are plenty of instances already where this first story sort of glosses over the more horrific elements of the Wizarding World, but those elements are still there, waiting to be used. Ditto the characters: even in the first brushes with them you can tell there’s a lot about them we’re not being told.

*****

By a similar token, it’s kind of funny to see just how cartoonish everyone is, not only in their personalities but in their physical descriptions. I’m usually pretty good about remembering details like hair and eye color, but even with that there are very few books where I can clearly picture a character’s face, body language, dress style, etc.

And I’m doing it with almost every character here, because the way Rowling talks about them is so expressive. No wonder we got such good covers across the board for these; they have to be an illustrator’s dream come true.

*****

Harry himself is very interesting here, too. We’re used to thinking of him as brave and brash, as the hero, and he does grow into that. But here he’s still young and uncertain, and the first thing about him that sticks out to me isn’t bravery, but kindness. Treat him even remotely decently and he’ll do everything in his power to reassure you and cheer you up. I appreciate that in a hero, especially since it’s done in such small ways. Most authors, when they want to show that, take it to big, dramatic anti-bullying speeches, and Harry’s just kind of there, doing it as a natural part of his personality.

*****

On a final, silly note, “MOTORCYCLES DON’T FLY!” was a sort of pre-internet meme in Middle School for me and my friends. I was always sort of disappointed when it didn’t take off as one of the catchphrases of the series, a la “Yer a wizard, Harry.”

Maybe its time has come. I think that needs to be one of Monday’s doodles, yes.