Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ch. 4-5: Still a better book than Twilight

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This week, we discuss: awkward crushes; our favorite Lockhart books; the Hogwarts prefect at home; we’re pretty sure someone is Neville Chamberlain; how many bacon sandwiches does it take, really?; linguistic puns; Dan’s accent is broken; fabulous Lucius Malfoy; Drarry fanfic; what exactly is in Lucius’s basement; wizard race porn; adventures in sex shops; the Hand of Glory; sexism in livestock; why Borgin and Burkes hasn’t been shut down; Knockturn Alley and Diagon Alley; ley lines and Ancient Aliens; flat earthers and how geometry works; please sue Alex Jones; Angela Merkel and the Anti-Smite Shield; Cabbage Patch Mandrakes; how we know that Gilderoy Lockhart escaped St. Mungo’s to reinvent himself as Dan Brown; Malfoy v. Weasley; treacle is disgusting; this entire book is Arthur and Molly’s fault; Hedwig abuse; the Restriction of Thingy; the Whomping Willow and the Evening Prophet; and WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET EXPELLED FROM THIS EFFING SCHOOL?!

S: Welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies! We’ve been gone for so long.

C: It seems like it, doesn’t it?

S: And I still haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast.

C: For shame! It’s so good!

S: I was prepared for – even if it wasn’t that good – I want to see it just for Luke Evans’ Gaston. That’s perfect casting.

C: See, Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite Disney movie, so I was not only pleasantly surprised, I was pretty much delighted from beginning to end. Emma is great as Belle, she’s feisty. Belle in the animated movie is a pretty tough cookie for a Disney princess, and I think she manages to ratchet that up, her agency, which is fantastic. I look forward to discussing this with you when you see it because I think you’ll have things to say.

S: I saw a review online from a couple of writers who went in cynical but once the music started, they were sold.

C: It’s so classic! It’s nostalgic, and it’s awesome.

S: I think my husband and I are going to do a trade off. I’m going to see Power Rangers with him and he will see Beauty and the Beast with me.

C: I have such mixed feelings about Power Rangers. I am so attached to them from our childhood.

S: I’m one of the few from our generation that did not get attached to them at all. All I knew about them was that there was one of each color and everyone thought the Pink Ranger was hot.

C: She was a total babe.

S: I have zero emotional investment whatsoever. So going in to this I know that this may be mediocre at best, but it might be good. I doubt it. I really am not expecting anything above the grade of a Fantastic Four movie.

C: I think mediocre at best is generous.

S: It might be. But I have sat through enough Transformers movies for that man, and I will continue to do so, so it’s fair.

C: It has to be better than Transformers.

S: I hope so. Then I’ll hopefully get to see Beauty and the Beast soon and he will love it, refuse to admit it, gripe about it, and it will all work out.

C: It will be good.

S: So today we have chapters 4 and 5.

Chapter 4: Flourish and Blotts

S: The best named book store ever to bookstore.

C: I didn’t understand what that meant until I started writing with a fountain pen.

S: We started off with Harry back at the Burrow. He’s having a great time. The Weasley’s house bursts with “the strange and unexpected,” including a mirror that yells at you, a ghoul in the attic, and regular small explosions coming from Fred and George’s room, which are perfectly normal. I dig the Burrow. I could totally live there.

C: I don’t know how much I would like that.

S: Too much?

C: Bit too much, yeah. I’m not a people person.

S: If you were a Weasley it might not be an option. Or else you’d be like Percy hiding in your room.

C: I’d probably be like Percy.

S: This is a nice line: “What Harry found most unusual at life at the Burrow wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul, but the fact that everybody there seemed to like him.” It’s so strange!

C: Bless his heart.

S: It’s lovely! And as someone who is married to someone who grew up in an abusive household, when we got together and he spent time with my family, I do remember that he found it incredibly weird and did not know at all how to handle it, because my mother was mothering him and baking him cookies, and he was like, “I don’t know how to react to this.”

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C: It’s sad, for your husband obviously, but just sad in general that you and I had unique childhoods in that our parents were happy together and we were happy with our parents.

S: True, as I get older I realize that it really was. He takes advantage of it now, though. When he’s having a bad day he just calls my mom because he can cry on her shoulder. She should just start a company where people pay to call her and be sympathized with.

C: Sounds good to me.

S: I would pay for it, if she wasn’t my mom. Mrs. Weasley is fussing over him, and Mr. Weasley can’t stop interrogating him about Muggle things because he is the wizard Little Mermaid and can’t stop being fascinated by plugs and the postal service.

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Really, these burning questions must keep him up at night

C: What won’t they think of next?

S: And poor Ginny seems to knock things over whenever Harry is in a room, which much make it extremely inconvenient to have him staying there for an entire summer.

C: They must go through a lot of butter.

S: Poor Mrs. Weasley has to get good at mending dishes. Harry knows she has a crush on him – everybody knows she has a crush on him – but in general nobody teases her about it, and Harry certainly doesn’t. Which is so nice because that’s such an awkward thing at that age, having a crush can mean merciless teasing, especially if it’s an older boy who doesn’t like you.

C: But Harry’s a nice guy, and he wouldn’t do that.

S: Now they get their Hogwarts letters! And there’s something odd about the letters. I can’t put my finger on it.

C: Every book cover grins and winks at you.

S: Because every damn book on this list is by Gilderoy Lockhart, with his lovely alliteration. Break with a Banshee. Gadding with Ghouls. Holidays with Hags. Travels with Trolls. Voyages with Vampires. Wandering with Werewolves. Year with the Yeti.

C: That would be my favorite. As a big fan of the show Finding Bigfoot, which is godawful and therefore wonderful, I would love Year with the Yeti.

S: I was always a fan of that Photoshopped meme of the cover of Wanderings with Werewolves that put Lockhart with Jacob Black.

C: I’ve never seen it but it sounds wonderful.

S: It’s so intense. I would read that one, absolutely. If I could read about the adventures of Gilderoy Lockhart trying to make Jacob love him, I would.

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10/10, would read

Fred: “Whoever assigned this list has to be a woman.” Which tells you about Lockhart’s fan base, which includes Molly. Here’s Percy, wearing his prefect’s badge on his sweater vest. He knows he’s not at Hogwarts right now, right?

C: That’s obnoxious. I’m sorry, Percy, I try to be on your side but that’s obnoxious.

S: Is he thinking that people in his family are going to forget? Is he doing to try to take points from family members while he’s at home?

C: You know, it’s Percy so it wouldn’t surprise me.

S: I picture him with a Steno pad in his back pocket, jotting down demerits.

Oh hey, it’s Errol, a wilting feather duster!

C: I love Errol!

S: We really need to retire Errol. He’s getting up there.

C: He tries so hard.

S: It’s a letter from Hermione, because apparently Ron wrote to Hermione before he went to pick up Harry.

C: Which is really conscientious of him.

S: Surprisingly so, for Ron. And this letter sounds exactly like Hermione – two breathless, run-on sentences at the very beginning, and also very pointedly honest comments. “Perhaps it would be better if you used a different owl next time because I think another delivery might finish your one off.”

C: She’s the best.

S: She’s very busy with school work. What schoolwork? She hasn’t even bought her new books! What is she doing?

C: She’s got to have her own copy of Hogwarts: A History.

S: The plan is for everyone to meet in Diagon Alley the next week. In the meantime we see the boys playing Quidditch – not really, just catching apples on Harry’s Nimbus, as “Ron’s old Shooting Star was often outstripped by passing butterflies.” How does she write these sentences? I just picture poor Ron puttering along on a broom with little yellow butterflies twittering past.

Percy’s not playing semi-Quidditch, though. He’s busy.

C: I bet Percy is terrible on a broom, too.

S: Do we ever see him on a broom?

C: I don’t think so. He doesn’t do any of the stuff with the Order of the Phoenix, does he?

S: No, because at that point he’s already gone to the dark side.

C: He’s not evil, he’s Neville Chamberlain.

S: I thought Fudge was Chamberlain? Percy picked a side, and his side is the establishment. Nobod knows why he’s holed up in his room though. Rowling is still working in background – the Weasleys, wizarding money – I do like the fact that Harry has never mentioned his vault in Gringotts to the Dursleys, because he doesn’t think their “hatred of anything connected with magic would stretch to a large pile of gold.”

C: I’m sure he’s correct.

S: Also, I’ve always been curious about this line: “Mrs. Weasley woke them all early the following Wednesday. After a quick half a dozen bacon sandwiches each—“ How big are these sandwiches? Have you ever eaten 6 sandwiches at once?

C: No, but I was also never a 12-year-old boy, so.

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S: Maybe they’re small sandwiches.

C: Is there anything on them other than bacon? That honestly sounds terrible and not very filling. Maybe you would need 6.

S: It’s dumb that that sentence sticks with me, but that has always left me kind of stymied. Now we get our first encounter with Floo powder, which Mrs. Weasley keeps in a flower pot on the kitchen mantelpiece. I used this in one of my Latin root words lessons in my English class, teaching the root “flu-,” which refers to flow, flux or change. So of course they travel by Floo powder! The English nerd in me is thrilled by Floo powder.

C: Now the English nerd in me is thrilled as well.

S: Isn’t there a fireplace pun in there too? Don’t fireplaces have flues? Am I making that up?

C: That’s the thing you open and close to let the smoke up.

S: Yes! So it’s a play on Latin roots, which so much of her stuff is, but also a play on the flue of a chimney. So they travel between fireplaces. It’s like having a subway stop in your living room.

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C: A very dirty one.

S: Would you like traveling by Floo powder?

C: It would make me dizzy and be bad for my asthma.

S: Well, maybe you could use an escapator instead. I would watch a side movie with someone taking Mr. Weasley to a mechanic’s shop and letting him play all day.

C: Imagine taking him to a shopping mall. He would never leave.

S: So you take a pinch of the powder, throw it in the fire, step in the fireplace, and say where you want to go. As long as it’s connected to the network it will take you there. I always wondered where this connected. They just say “Diagon Alley.” Does that end up in the Leaky Cauldron?

C: That would be my guess.

S: I don’t know why they wouldn’t just say Leaky Cauldron…. Although, if they say “Leaky Cauldron,” we can’t have the mix up that we’re about to have.

C: I always think of how Dan says it in the movie. “DIGONELLY!”

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“I have so many questions about building code compliance!”

S: If you don’t speak clearly, it’s a problem. Harry’s trying to follow all their direction, and he gets some ash in his throat, coughs, and says “Diagon Alley,” but it doesn’t come out right. I don’t know why they didn’t have that happen in the movie – it makes more sense than Dan Radcliffe suddenly forgetting how his accent works.

C: “DIGONELLY!”

S: He never says it that way again at any other point in his life!

C: Just so they could have Mrs. Weasley say, “Did he say…Digonelly?”

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S: It’s like he’s sucked down a giant drain. Which, knowing what I know about the ending….

C: Foreshadowing?

S: Yeah. Come on now. He’s tumbling through fireplaces, and finally falls forward in a dimly lit wizard’s shop, but it is not Diagon Alley. He sees a wizard hand on a cushion, a bloodstained pack of cards, a staring glass eye, evil-looking masks, an assortment of human bones – always handy – and rusty spiked instruments.

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He’s trying to get out of there, and just as he’s trying to get out, of all the evil wizarding shops in all the world, Draco Malfoy and his daddy walked into mine. The FABULOUS Lucius Malfoy.

C: And now we see where Draco gets all of his assiness from.

S: Bless the lord for giving us Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy. That man is so fabulous anyway, and with the wig and the getup and supercilious accent, he IS Lucius Malfoy.

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Bitch I’m faaaaaabulous

C: He’s really good.

S: We get back and forth between sulky Malfoy and dad. “I thought you were going to buy me a present, Dad!” “I will buy you a racing broom.” Apparently Malfoy talks about Harry a lot. I guess I see where the people who decided that Harry/Draco fanfic needed to be a thing could at least come up with some basis for their fanfic. Because legitimately, Draco talks about Harry a lot. He sulks about the Nimbus, playing for Gryffindor, being famous. “Everyone thinks he’s so smart, Potter with his scar and his broomstick.” He sounds like Albus!

C: Speaking of Malfoy and Harry fanfic – what’s the portmanteau of that?

S: Drarry. The fact that I know that is depressing in the extreme.

C: I would have gone with Motter.

S: Nope! It’s Drarry.

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I GOOGLED! WHY DID I GOOGLE??!

C: “My only love sprung from my only hate!”

S: Yeah, yeah. I don’t get it but I get it. The world of fanfic is dark and full of terrors, in my opinion. I’ve read some legitimately good stuff, but I can’t with the whole Drarry thing. I have a hard time with anything shipping Draco, honestly.

C: Because he’s awful.

S: He and Pansy Parkinson deserved each other. And I get it, he grew up and married a nice person and had a stupid child, but right now he’s a douche. We get the sense that Mr. Malfoy is playing the long game, reminding Draco that it’s not prudent to “appear less than fond of Harry Potter when most of our kind regard him as the hero who made the Dark Lord disappear.” This is a great intro to the character. You learn so much about, not only who Lucius is, but how he manages his life in a post-Death Eater world. He’s all for keeping up appearances, while doing what you want on your own time. So he’s come to Borgin and Burkes, which will be very important in the Book 2 mirror (Book 6) to sell some stuff.

Poor Mr. Borgin thought he was going to make a commission. But apparently the Ministry is conducting raids, and Mr. Malfoy has some *ahem* embarrassing things at home. My mind runs amok.

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C: Talk about things that would bring up fanfic…

S: You know he’s got a dungeon in his basement.

C: He’s got a playroom!

S: Here’s my question. If you’re a Death Eater and you have a kinky sex room, if kink for most people ties into something subversive or taboo, but you’re already a Death Eater, is it more along the same lines? Or is it the most vanilla, Muggle-ish thing you can think of?

C: I think it would be more Mudblood fantasies.

S: OOOOOOOHH. You have an excellent point. Kind of like that icky genre of porn which is all about race.

C: I didn’t know there was a race genre of porn.

S: Uh, yeah, it’s generally mostly about black people.

C:  Really? That’s a part of the pornternet I’ve never been down.

S: Again, I question why I know these things and you don’t, and what I’ve been doing with my life that I know this. There is a frighteningly popular subset of porn that is all about white women being raped or white men being cuckolded because their white wife is sleeping with a black man. There’s black gangbang on white woman, there’s the white guy hiding in the closet watching his wife getting fucked by some black dude – there’s a lot of anxiety about black penises in the white male consciousness. So there’s a whole subset of porn that is just that.

C: Good to know!

S: So you might have something there! “We hate you because we think you’re less than us, but secretly we fantasize about getting it on with the Mudbloods.”

C: No matter who you are there will always be something taboo for you.

S: And that’s always the thing that’s super alluring.

C: That’s what makes you horny, what you can’t have or think you shouldn’t have.

S: We’ve already gone down a very dark hole and we haven’t even started. Why do we do this to ourselves?

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C: Well, was it us? Or was it Borgin and Burkes? That withered hand is called the ‘Hand of Glory.’ I mean.

S: To be fair, yes. I do think of glory holes a lot when I read this. I mean, is this a novelty shop, or is this a novelty shop?

C: It’s like a hand version of one of those Fleshlight things.

S: Exactly! Listeners, I am so sorry. You have to understand that all of this stems from one time when we both got really drunk and went into a sex shop together, and had a lot of fun making fun of stuff we saw.

C: Tell them the weirdest part of that, though.

S: I don’t remember the weirdest part. What was it?

C: The man who approached us and wanted our opinions on vibrators.

S: I don’t remember that! Either I had too much to drink or it’s been too long

C: Probably both. Because I seized up like a deer in headlights, walked away and let you handle him. And you were all, “Oh, I don’t really know but why don’t you take a look at this section over here?”

S: Was I actually trying to be nice and help him?

C: Yes. This is when we were younger and not as assertive as we are now. Now we probably would have given him side-eye. But yeah, a total stranger wandered up and asked us what kind of vibrators we recommended.

S: Wow.

C: I can’t believe you don’t remember that!

S: Thank god for everclear and me not remembering that. Maybe I was traumatized and I blocked it out.

C: I think I would prefer that to you being that drunk.

S: Now I’m more traumatized trying to search for a memory I should have and don’t. But aside from Mr. Malfoy’s porn predilections, he is annoyed with that “flea-bitten, Muggle-loving fool Arthur Weasley,” because the Ministry is constantly meddling! How dare they try to enforce laws! It really sucks being a war criminal post-war, doesn’t it?

C: Just a bit.

S: “And as you see, certain of these poisons might make it appear…” as if I intended to… poison… someone.

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“Which, of course, I wouldn’t. Not. Poison someone.”

C: I don’t know what it is about poison that makes people think you want to poison someone.

S: It’s an illogical leap. So – TO THE HAND OF GLORY!

C: I keep hearing it as the Lady Gaga song in my head: “You’re in the Hand…of Glory!”

S: Now I’m picturing Draco dancing around, singing, “I’ve got the Hand (the Hand) the Hand (the Hand) the Hand (the Hand) THE HAND! I’ve got the Hand….of Glory!”

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“I’VE GOT THE HAND!”

The Hand of Glory is really interesting. Would you like to learn about it?

C: Yes, because I don’t remember anything about it.

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Be careful what you wish for

S: All it is in the book series is what we’re told here – you can insert a candle into the hand and it gives light only to the holder. So it’s great if you want to break in somewhere, because you’re the only one who can see the light. Which, to be fair, would have helped Harry when he tried to get into the Restricted Section in the stupid movie and he had his lantern hanging outside the Invisibility Cloak like a dumbass.

But you may not remember that Malfoy does end up getting the Hand of Glory and uses it in Book 6 when he sneaks in the Death Eaters. So the chiasmus, or circle theory, between 2 and 6 is so heavy. So much with Draco, Harry, Tom Riddle, coming full circle. Even in little things like the Hand of Glory and the Vanishing Cabinet, both of which surface again in 6 – as well as some other things we see here in a moment!

But the hand of Glory is actually a thing! It is the dried and pickled hand of a man who has been hanged, usually the left hand because the left is the “sinister” hand that committed the crime. You know those lefties.

C: They’re a little odd.

S: So older European beliefs said that the Hand of Glory, not just combined with a candle but combined with a candle made from the fat of the corpse of the person who died on the gallows. So someone commits a murder, you hang them, cut fat off their corpse, you cut off their hand, pickle and dry it, make the fat into a candle, then light the candle and put it in the hand. According to this, it would make anyone to whom it was presented motionless. I don’t know how that’s useful. The notion of it giving light only to the bearer makes more sense to me, but whatever.

C: Who came up with these ideas? Because clearly that didn’t work. But who says to themselves, I’m just gonna make this shit up?

S: Purveyors of scary stories in the 18th century? Someone somewhere believed it worked.

C: Probably a lot of people, since science was not a big thing then.

S: This is what blew my mind on this – the fact that the Hand of Glory is brought up in this book. And this is on Wikipedia. I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling knew this. The etymology of the term Hand of Glory – apparently folklore has long attributed mystical powers to a dead man’s hand, but that specific phrase is folk etymology from the French main de gloire, which is a corruption of the word mandragore or mandragora, which is – mandrake!

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OH HEEEEEEEYYYYYLLLL NO THAT MAIN DE GLOIRE DID NOT JUST FLIP ME OFF

C: And we have mandrakes later!

S: Yes! The mandrakes are a huge point in this book that end up saving everyone who is petrified. It’s weird that the mandrake and Hand of Glory are connected this way.

This Hand of Glory is pretty grim, though. From 1722 there’s a long description of how to make one, and all the different things you need to do. There are also antidotes to protect your house: “rub the threshold and all parts of the house with an unguent composed of gall of a black cat, fat of a white hen, and the blood of a screech owl.”

C: And guess what? It still wouldn’t fucking work.

S: There is an actual Hand of Glory on display at a museum in Yorkshire, called the Whitby Museum, and it goes with a text from a book published in 1823 which describes how to make the Hand of Glory.

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And this is either a really deceptively sized box, or a hella ginormous murder hand

And this is my all time favorite description of how to make it. Listen to how you make this shit: “It must be cut from the body of a criminal on the gibbet, pickled in salt and the urine of a man, woman, dog, horse and mare.”

C: A mare is a horse!

S: A mare is a female horse.

C: So why not say stallion? Why is the male the default all the time?

S: That is sexism in descriptions of livestock! I will not have this!

C: AGREED.

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I eat your sexist horse stereotypes for breakfast

S: I’m personally stymied that in order to make this, you’d have to go around and collect the urine of a man, woman, dog, horse, and mare.

C: And if anyone saw you doing that, they’d say you were a witch and you’d be hanging next.

S: Yeah! Or else you have a weird fetish – which is also reason enough to hang you. So once you’ve pickled this in 5 kinds of urine, you smoke it in herbs and hay for a month, hang it on an oak tree for 3 nights running, lay it at a crossroads, then hang it on a church door for one night, while the maker keeps watch on the porch. “And if it be that no fear hath driven you forth from the porch, then the hand be true won. And it be yours.” THE FUCK IS THIS?

C: That is so dumb.

S: I’m starting to think it wasn’t just women getting high on rye-based fungal ointments back in the day. I feel like a lot of people spent more time high than we think, because how else do you come up with this crap?

C: That’s somebody jumping a lot of hoops, hoping nobody will follow through and prove them wrong.

S: I think you’re confusing that with our President.

C: He doesn’t jump through any hoops. All he does is play golf.

S: True. So that’s how you make a Hand of Glory! Which, I would think would turn anyone off from touching one, given that it’s been pickled in pee, but what do I know?

C: That also is a thing you find in porn on the internet.

S: This is a kinky book, is what I’m saying. Also, we get a glimpse of hey, the wizarding world is sexist too! Lucius to Draco: “I would have thought you’d be ashamed that a girl of no wizarding family beat you in every exam.” So what’s more offensive here – that she’s a girl, or that she is a girl of no wizard family? Is it the Mudbloodness or the girlness?

C: Mudbloodness.

S: Well, same all over, these peasants have no respect for their betters, blah blah blah. They haggle over the price of the poisons Borgin didn’t want to buy in the first place. Meanwhile, Draco wanders around window shopping and finds a long coil of hangman’s rope, then “stops to read, smirking, the card propped against a magnificent necklace of opals. Caution – do not touch – cursed – has claimed the lives of nineteen Muggle owners to date.” GODDAMMIT J.K. ROWLING.

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C: What?

S: Draco uses that very same opal necklace in Book 6. And they’re counting on you remembering that being a big factor in whether you figure out what’s happening in 6.

C: Which I didn’t, I’m sure.

S: Also the cabinet Harry is hiding in – a vanishing cabinet. The whole plot of 6 is in this chapter! They leave, and Borgin is happy to see them go. Harry makes it out of the store, and realizes that he is in an alley made up of shops devoted to the Dark Arts. Borgin and Burkes is the biggest, but there’s also a nice display for all your shrunken head needs, your gigantic black spiders – it’s a useful place.

C: I feel like you should not have an entire alley devoted to the Dark Arts at all, let alone only a decade after the end of the greatest Dark Wizard of all time.

S: I find it interesting that this is allowed. Is this a freedom of speech issue? Or is it just, the Ministry is looking the other way? There’s legitimately dangerous things for sale in Borgin and Burkes, and this shop here is selling poisonous candles.

C: The Wizarding world is very strange.

S: They literally only exist to sell things to kill people! Why would you let them continue to operate? Oh, wait, like gun shops. Never mind.

So Harry realizes that he’s not in Diagon Alley, but Knockturn Alley. I find that the alleys have two fun wordplay things going on. For example, if you say them slightly differently, you have one word: diagonally and nocturnally.

C: And let’s not forget, DIGONELLY.

S: There’s also a thing called a ley line, spelled like the last part of “alley.”

C: Oh, no! I have watched many an episode of Ancient Aliens. I know ALL ABOUT ley lines.

S: Oh please, you tell us about ley lines! All I know is what I read.

C: No, go ahead!

S: Well, all I found is that it started as a rather British notion. This archaeologist wrote a book in 1925 that claimed that – and I don’t know why this expansive or interesting as claims go – in ancient times, Britain was very densely forested, and people built roads in geographically convenient straight lines. He believed that those were called ley lines because so many passed through towns that had “ley” in the name.

(NOTE: Professor Seraphine has since discovered that Old English etymology of “ley” means “a clearing in the woods.” So, maybe that’s relevant??)

He thought these lines existed in countries all over the world, and especially Europe. Which – probably true. There’s really only so many ways to build a road. Humans follow patterns, we’re pretty predictable, and geometry is a thing that exists. So yes, there are probably these lines and patterns all over the world because we are all human with human brains, and we build in straight lines.

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But now they’ve been adopted into mysticism and people think they’re magic. So they’re considered hypothetical alignments between places of power, which can be magical, magnetic, or psychic in nature. So where two or more ley lines cross you have these nodes or nexuses of power, like Stonehenge is supposed to be built on an intersection. Supposedly they are often invisible conduits of magical power that flow through the earth and air, mages can tap into them for their power, and places where lines intersect attract wizards and supernatural beings.

C: It’s a bunch of bullshit.

S: Geometry! How is it supposed to be unusual that, hey, people developed societies and built roads to places, and if you zoom out enough you start to see patterns?

C: Also you have things like the Maya or the Incans that had their big pyramids that they built, and if you go across the globe, what do you find? Pyramids in Egypt! Well, you know, there’s a temperate zone that works well for people. It’s not a surprise that you’re going to find things that line up in that general way.

S: And also there’s the fact that there are only so many primary shapes we have to work with, and triangles work very well! Again, geometry is a thing! There are only so many patterns humans are going to create and utilize. “OMG, one society built a thing shaped like a triangle, and then another one built something shaped like a triangle! They must be connected!” OR – they only knew circle, square and triangle, and they picked one!

C: That’s what’s so maddening and hilarious about Ancient Aliens. The people on that show hold ancient civilizations in such low regard, when it really should be the opposite. They like to say things like, “How did they build these wonderful constructs? They didn’t have computers! They didn’t machines and cranes!” Yeah, but they had religious fervor and a whole lot of fucking slaves, and simple machines work, and it took a long ass time.

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Your argument is invalid.

S: Not to mention that the understanding of things like mathematics, geography, physics –

C: We didn’t invent! We got it from these people who came up with it on their own! They were brilliant and didn’t need ancient aliens to come down and hand them knowledge. They fucking learned.

S: I’m thinking, the argument is that they didn’t have the technology to do it. What technology? Well, like computers! You mean computers that human beings built? The ingenuity is there, no matter what time you’re in. Science and mathematics are there, they don’t change enormously. These societies understood enough math and physics to build these incredible structures. Just like there are brilliant people today, there were brilliant people back then. Yeah, they didn’t have power tools, but it’s incredible the kinds of construction you see. And if we have learned anything, humans will come up with all sorts of batshit crazy stuff. Why aren’t they equally capable of coming up with awesome stuff?

C: Pretty much.

S: If it’s not going to be a rectangle, square or triangle, what else is it going to fucking be? It’s not like they have the technology to build a great big round Epcot center, which is hellishly difficult to construct, and is uncommon as a shape since I’m sure it’s impractical. So what other shape do you think it’s going to be?

C: A rhombus.

S: Are they going to invent some shape? No! Math doesn’t work that way. I’m starting to think all these people who believe in this Ancient Aliens crap don’t understand math. And I  don’t understand math, but I understand enough to realize that this is bullshit.

C: It’s total bullshit.

S: It is kind of funny though, this website points out that there are a huge concentration of ley lines near Florida.

C: Is that the Bermuda triangle?

S: I have no idea where the Bermuda triangle is. I just think it’s funny because it might explain why Florida is insane.

C: I’m going to be in Florida in a month, so I will keep you apprised of any strange happenings.

S: The Wizarding World is there…

C: That’s where I’m going!

S: I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, but the Fountain of Youth is supposedly there too. But yeah, we have this nexus of wizarding commerce in England – Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley – right next to each other, so you have this convergence where everyone comes together. And so much of the wizarding world is contained here – source of wands, money, books – I like that she plays with that notion of ley lines by creating Diagon Alley and the other that you go into for Dark purposes, Knockturn Alley.

One thing I saw in ley lines was in reference to how to access them –

C: Peyote.

S: Yes! And access to Diagon Alley fits with this idea – you need an access point that sideslips you in.

C: That’s all of the wizarding world, though.

S: Yeah. Even though ley lines are bullshit, it’s cool.

C: You and I should do a show just on Ancient Aliens.

S: No! I would just yell, I have no patience for that stuff.

C: That’s the fun of it!

S: My husband entertains himself watching flat earther videos and laughing at it all, and I don’t know where he gets the patience for it! I listen to two minutes and start shouting.

C: That’s what’s fun.

S: NO! The stupidity is exhausting!

C: You can either get angry, despair, or laugh. Has this made it to you that some pro athletes have been coming out and admitting that they’re not sure the earth is round after all, because where’s the proof?

S: Oh God, yes. Because the bullshit flat earther thing is still around. Don’t get me started.

C: I just want to tell people to look at the horizon! It tells you that there is curvature!

S: No, if you watch these videos they have all these explanations. None of the explanations make a lick of sense, but they have them. I find that subset of the internet fascinating. I don’t want to listen to the torture of logic, but that mentality and psychology that pushes a person to subscribe to a view that is so blatantly insane, but it feeds into this mentality of “Everything else is a lie, I know the truth and I’m special because I know it.” It’s a way for people who need a sense of identity and feeling important to have that, even if it’s batshit insane.

C: What’s really scary is that those people now control the government and the Presidency.

S: Did you see that Alex Jones sort of apologized for Pizzagate?

C: I would sue.

S: I think that’s why he apologized. He’s got to be on the brink of a lawsuit. I can’t imagine an on-air apology any other way.

C: That is extraordinarily beyond the pale of even just crazy insane things that get said on conservative talk radio. I wish Obama would sue about Trump’s wiretapping claim.

S: I do too. But good for the restaurant owner if he sues, and I hope he pursues that claim. Drag that man. Saying batshit theories about Hillary Clinton being from the Devil is one thing, although that’s a whole other subset of crazy, but dragging a poor innocent man and his business into this, bringing the crazies out to target your family and livelihood when all you’re trying to do is sell pizza – what the fuck is that?

C: It’s so insulting to actual victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse to make up wild accusations.

S: Yes, it’s not like there’s not horrible sex trafficking all over the world, which Alex Jones’s set doesn’t seem to care about any other time, but when it fits their political ideology, hoo boy.

C: I just want a flamethrower, and to take it and spray it over large swaths of the country.

S: It might not solve anything, but it would be satisfying. Did you ever read any of the Thursday Next books?

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And if you’re listening to and like this show, and YOU haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE

C: I read through Something Rotten.

S: Do you remember the Anti-Smite Shield?

C: I don’t recall.

S: I thought it was in Something Rotten, but maybe it’s after that. The country has a major stupidity surplus due to implementation of sensible governance, and they’re trying to figure out what to do with it. They think maybe it will be best to invest all the excess stupidity into an Anti-Smite Shield, which would create a shield system to protect the earth from the smiting of an angry deity. Politicians think it’s the perfect way to spend the stupidity – one vastly stupid idea, that costs a ton of money and will never be used!

But the idea keeps getting shot down because people say that’s actually a very sensible response to a stupidity surplus, making it smart, not stupid, so you’ve created a bigger problem.

C: That’s awesome!

S: But it’s times like this that I would like to erect a selectively filtered Anti-Smite shield – for no reason – just in the hopes that, you know….

C: I think our Anti-Smite shield might be Angela Merkel.

S: I live for her facial expressions.

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C: I hope that someone besides Marie Le Pen wins in France and that Merkel gets re-elected, because otherwise we’re TOTALLY FUCKED.

S: All right, let’s leave the real world crazy and go back to wizard crazy.

C: Hang on! I’ve got a $300 million check for money sent to NATO that you need to pay me for.

S: Oh, that invoice. “Hang on, why does this have Clip Art on it?” Come on, you know he created a fake invoice in Microsoft Works on his old computer with fake Clip Art to make it look official. Bullshit like that.

C: They are the worst in so many different ways.

S: So is this witch trying to sell Harry a tray of whole human fingernails!

C: That’s disgusting!

S: You gotta keep your Hand of Glory well manicured! Thank goodness Hagrid comes along to save the day in a lovely, early onset of misdirection. Hagrid comes storming towards Harry, grabs him and pulls him along a twisting alleyway into sunlight.

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Come with me if you want to live, to die later in one of my ill-conceived lessons

So apparently, Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley are very close together and don’t have a lot separating them, which, if that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is. Hagrid’s giving him a dressing-down for being in Knockturn Alley. Harry: “Wait – if I’m not supposed to be there, what were you doing there, excuse you?”

Slow your roll, Harry Potter. Hagrid needed Flesh-Eating Slug Repellant.

C: Because they’re ruining the school cabbages.

S: Cabbages need defending.

C: They are full of kids! We have to make sure the children are okay.

S: The Hogwarts gardens are full of Cabbage Patch Kids! That’s what the mandrakes are.

C: Cabbage Patch Kids gone wrong.

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S: Harry catches Hagrid up on his horrible summer. Hagrid: “Lousy Muggles!” Now here comes Hermione, running to meet him and NOT fixing Harry’s glasses in a way that is not congruent with the rest of the rules set out in the book, thank you very much. Mr. Weasley does that for him. All the Weasleys come running up, and of course once they learn where he was – “Excellent!” Bad twins! So Harry catches them up on Draco and Lucius being in Borgin and Burkes. Mr. Weasley: “Did he buy something? DID HE?” Hearing that Lucius is selling, he thinks, oh, he’s worried, this is working, I’m awesome. Arthur to Molly, indignantly: “You don’t think I’m a match for Lucius Malfoy?”

C: No. Poor Mr. Weasley.

S: But he gets distracted, because, MUGGLES! Hermione’s parents! Which is so underplayed. Hermione’s parents come to Diagon Alley and get to meet all this crazy world, and Mr. Weasley is so excited to meet them and wants to take them out for a drink, they’re changing their Muggle money – he’s over the moon.

C: He would be fascinated by dentistry.

S: They go to Gringotts to get their money, which makes Harry feel bad because he’s got lots of money in his badly organized, shelfless vault, and the Weasleys have very little. They go off to supply shop, and the plan is to meet at Flourish and Blotts in an hour.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione go shopping, get ice cream, window shop for Quidditch supplies, Fred and Joke get joke stuff and fireworks, and they find Percy in a joke shop reading Prefects Who Gained Power. Is that a thesis somebody had to write? It feels like something that gets published by a university and never read again.

C: Probably!

S: They make their way to Flourish and Blotts, and they are startled to discover that there’s a massive crowd in the shop. Because Gilderoy Lockhart is signing copies of his autobiography Magical Me. The smarmiest of smarmy men. And the ladies love them some Gilderoy Lockhart. And now we get to meet the man himself, flashing dazzlingly white teeth at the crowd. I love how he color-coordinates his hats and robes.

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C: You know who he reminds me of for really no good reason?

S: Who?

C: Dan Brown, the author.

S: Why?

C: If I don’t think Kenneth Branagh, I think Dan Brown.

S: I have to look this up, because I don’t know what Dan Brown looks like. OH. Okay all right. You know, that’s not bad. I can see that.

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C: I think part of the reason is – have you ever read The Da Vinci Code?

S: Unfortunately I have read part of The Da Vinci Code.

C: It’s not good. It’s a provocative idea – I think most of his ideas are provocative and interesting – but he’s not a good writer. His character, Robert Langdon, is so clearly a self-insert that I think that whole thing is why I tie him in with Lockhart.

S: They might as well call it The Incredibly Unlikely Adventures of Dan Brown.

C: Yeah. The way he describes his character is himself.

S: He does have a nice smile. Not sure how much he would surround himself with selfies, but if he was that self centered it would be amazing. He does have a nice cleft in his chin and nice smile.

C: Have you ever heard his pop music?

S: What? What are you talking about?

C: He was in a band or something before he got famous. Let me see if I can find it. Here, listen to this.

S: He wrote a song about phone sex? What the fuck? “976-LOVE”? OH NO.

C: WAIT UNTIL YOU PLAY IT. It is the greatest thing.

S: OH NO. UM. OKAY, so this is a song about him jacking off to phone sex girls.

C: Yes. In the style of soft pop / adult contemporary of the early 1990s.

S: I feel sullied and unusual. This is awful. Why would you do that to me? All I’ve done is talk about kinky wizard porn and Ancient Aliens! Why would you make me listen to Dan Brown’s phone sex pop music?

C: Okay, listeners, I’m going to read some of these lyrics to you. “I take you to bed and push the phone to my head. You make me feel like a man.”

S: Which head?

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C: Oh man, it’s the greatest thing. You have to link to that.

S: I will. It’s too good not to share.

C: I’m going to make it your ringtone.

S: Why would you do that? You have a Star Wars ringtone on my phone. That’s not fair or friendly. Bad friend!

C: That’s true.

S: Okay, I get where you’re coming from with the Lockhart comparison. I think Dan Brown gets off to pictures of himself. So there’s a photographer with the Daily Prophet taking pictures, and of course Gilderoy sees Harry, recognizes him and drags him to the front for photos. “Nice big smile, Harry, together you and I rate the front page.” Kenneth Branagh is so perfect.

This sucks for Harry – he’s being put on the spot with this ridiculous person. Lockhart gives Harry all his books for free, but also the wonderful announcement that he will shortly be getting the REAL magical me – because Lockhart is going to be our next Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Holy shitballs.

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C: Dumbledore was scraping the bottom of the barrel this time.

S: I have to think that even he considered just not having Defense Against the Dark Arts this year.

C: Might as well not!

S: At least Harry is awesome and gives Ginny all the books Lockhart gave him for free, and says he’ll buy his own. Which is so sweet, because you know those have to be insanely expensive. Brand new, hard copy, Gilderoy Lockhart books – you know he’s charging out the butt for those.

C: Yeah, there’s no Amazon in the wizarding world.

S: It’s so sweet!

C: I kind of want to tell Fred and George and Molly and Arthur – you don’t have to buy 5 new sets. Buy 4 new sets, and make the twins share.

S: Yeah, that’s a good point! Or buy one set, find a handy charm like the Geminio Charm which Hermione uses to duplicate the locket, and duplicate the book! Piracy is an option, people.

And Malfoy. “Bet you loved that, didn’t you Potter?” I picture Ginny, like a fierce kitten getting in his face. She goes to bat for Harry even though she’s terrified of him at this point.

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There’s only room for one of us to obsess about Harry Potter at a time, thank you very much

Malfoy starts with the poverty jokes, because he’s got a wide array of them that he loves using on Ron. Ron goes to hit Malfoy, but Harry and Hermione stop him. Now here comes Mr. Weasley, and here comes Lucius Malfoy. And HE starts with the poverty jokes.

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“All those raids – I do hope they’re paying you overtime.” And they start trading insults. Then Mr. Malfoy does something unforgiveable: he insults the Muggles.

C: Dun dun dun!

S: Arthur Weasley goes all, “NEVER. INSULT. MY MUGGLES. IN FRONT. OF ME.” And he goes flying! Throws himself at Mr. Malfoy, and they’re having a fist fight in the middle of the bookstore, which is hilarious because Ron and Draco were about to do the same thing until cooler heads prevailed. Then Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Weasley came along, and were like, “Screw that, we hate each other!”

When it’s all over, Mr. Weasley has a cut lip and Mr. Malfoy has been hit in the eye by the Encyclopedia of Toadstools. I don’t know why that feels fitting… it just does.

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Looooooook at all the fucks Toad does not give…..

C: Agreed.

S: But he is conveniently still holding Ginny’s book, which he gives back to her –

C: CONVENIENTLY.

S: They make it out, and Molly is terribly embarrassed. “Gilderoy Lockhart – what he must have thought!” Fred knows what he thought: “He loved it. Free publicity.”

So they go back, and home. Harry’s not a huge fan of Floo Powder, but it’s been an instructive day.

Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow

S: Harry considers this summer the happiest of his life. “It was difficult not to feel envious of Ron when he thought of the Dursleys and what sort of welcome he might expect the next time he turned up on Privet Drive.” That’s a nice line to have, especially when we know Ron has such a hard time being jealous of Harry. He doesn’t realize that it works both ways.

They have a great big dinner, with treacle pudding, which I don’t understand because I’m American and I don’t understand pudding. Or treacle. I always thought treacle was this really thick, sugary – do you know what it is?

C: No idea.

S: Oh, it’s molasses! Oh, why does Harry like this?

C: It’s a good thing he knows dentists.

S: This is a nice description of what anyone who has tried to get out of their house on time for a long trip experiences. It always goes down this way. You think you’ve got everything ready, then you wake up and there are still a million things to do, and people are looking for their socks.

They are going to go to King’s Cross station in a small Ford Anglia that Mr. Weasley has…souped up a bit. He’s magically expanded it so they can fit everything in it, another feature he has conveniently not mentioned to Molly. So being unfamiliar with Muggle cars she has no idea this is bigger than it should be.

C: Which is kind of funny!

S: The front seat is stretched to resemble a park bench! And Rowling is so good at laying the hints in. They’re barely out of the house when they turn around because George forgot his fireworks. Five minutes after that they’re back for Fred’s broom. Then they’re almost at the highway when they have to go back because Ginny left her diary.

C: How much differently would the year have turned out if she’d left her diary at the Burrow all year?

S: They were SO CLOSE. None of this shit would have happened. This would have been the most boring year in the Harry Potter series. Everything hinged on the Weasleys being so nice and loving their children so much that they’re willing to turn around 3 times to get sundry items left behind. Weasleys, this is your fault for being good parents.

C: Why couldn’t you just owl them?

S: That makes much more sense. Now everyone is very annoyed, which leads Arthur to say, “You know, Molly…we could…my car flies…let me fly my car…can I fly my car?” Molly says no.

At King’s Cross Harry and Ron are the last to try to get on the platform. They try to get on, and no go. Boom, crash, luggage everywhere, flying Hedwig rolls away shrieking indignantly. “There was a lot of muttering about cruelty to animals from the surrounding crowd.” I think Hedwig is doing the muttering.

C: She’s had a rough summer, between being cooped up at the Dursleys, and now this.

S: She suffers a lot for this fool. For some reason the barrier has sealed, and the train has left. They’re stuck on the Muggle side. Ron: “If we can’t get through, Mom and Dad can’t get back to us…” They don’t have any Muggle money, so Harry says, let’s go wait by the car. And in a flash of 12-year-old logic, Ron has the solution: We steal my parents’ car and fly it to Hogwarts.

C: Oh, Ron. This is why you married Hermione, so your kids would have a decent chance of turning out smart. Because it’s not coming from your side.

S: But when you’re 12 it makes perfect sense! And your parents won’t be mad, right? Harry: “How do your parents get home?” Ron: “They’ll apparate!” Harry: “We can’t use magic!” Ron: “Underage wizards are allowed to use magic in emergencies. It’s in Section 19 or something of the Restriction of Thingy!”

If I ever get pulled over I’m using that. “I’m allowed to drive like this. It’s in Section 19 for the Restriction of Thingy.”

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C: Just lie and say you’ve got a family member in law enforcement. It’s called professional courtesy.

S: Well, they’re dumb children and this is brilliant. So they get the car. They load up the car. They fly the car. And he does use the invisibility booster, which is faulty and means they keep appearing and vanishing and reappearing.

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C: This is why you listen to Molly Weasley!

S: They find the train and are flying high in the clouds following it. Ron: “All we’ve got to worry about now are airplanes.” Which is hilarious, except, if you had come across an airplane it would be even worse.

I always loved this – the way she writes this is a perfect encapsulation of how things like this are when you’re younger. You go into it and it seems brilliant, it starts off perfect – they’re in the clouds, it’s sunny, they’ve got toffees, they’re thinking they’ll make this cool landing.

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But a couple of hours in, you’re hot and thirsty and it’s the worst. You’ve had that happen, right?

C: Yeah.

S: She really understands that and how to convey it. I like that she does that instead of the Chris Columbus route of hokey falling out of the car and shouting in unison. Oy vey.

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“Wait, Chris Columbus is still directing this?!”

They’re getting closer, and they make it to Hogwarts. Right about then the car has had enough of their nonsense, and starts falling from the sky.

C: Poor exhausted car!

S: They’re losing altitude fast. They’re right over the lake, and the engine just dies. They fall flat and land on a tree.

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C: Can we just stop and consider for a moment in the last book, Ron’s “Are you a witch or not?” Which is great. But this time, when it’s up to him, he panics, pulls out his wand, and starts whacking the dashboard saying, “Stop! Stop!” As if that was ever going to do anything.

S: It breaks his wand almost completely in two, which Rupert Grint does to great effect with his squeaky voice.

C: “My wand! Look at my wand!”

S: Harry also gets to yell, “Watch out for that tree!”

C: “George, George, George of the Jungle!”

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S: Underrated movie!  Things can’t possibly get any worse, until the tree tries to murder them. Because this is Hogwarts, and that shit happens here. So not only did they crash into a tree, they crashed into a tree with a vengeance.

C: A tree that whomps.

S: It is here to cave in the roof, like a battering ram. Ron manages to reverse the car to get it out of the tree, and the tree is still trying to hit them. “They could hear its roots creaking as it almost ripped itself up, lashing out at them as they sped out of reach.”

C: Serious business tree!

S: Amazing tree to have if you’re a career criminal. Plant a Whomping Willow or two around your house and the Feds will never come knocking.

C: Or, you know, if you’re a normal person and want to prevent crime.

S: Or stray dogs. Or visitors. Either way, the car has had enough. It shoots their luggage out, and poor Hedwig AGAIN! Fortunately her cage flies open this time, and she’s like, “Fuck you, I’m out!” Then the car just takes off and trundles off into the night. “’Come back!’ Ron yelled after it, brandishing his broken wand. ‘Dad will kill me!’ But the car disappeared from view with one last snort from its exhaust.” A snort of derision!

That car just noped on out of there.

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So briefly, and we’ll see the Whomping Willow in much more depth in 3 which is fitting, because Willows are often associated with magic and the moon. He he he.

C: I see!

S: It’s also associated with the underworld. Hecate, Greek goddess of the moon and the willow, was a goddess of the underworld and is herself associated with water. And the willow grows along the lake edge. They’re also associated with growth, vitality and immortality, because they apparently grow hella fast. They can quickly regrow from coppiced trees, can grow several feet in one season, and you can grow one by pushing a healthy branch cutting into the soil, even if you put it in upside down, it will still grow. That’s what it says! You can’t kill them!

C: So it’s trees for lazy people.

S: Exactly!

C: My kind of tree.

S: They thrive next to water. So instead of arriving triumphantly, they hobble, stiff and bruised, up to the school, dragging their trunks behind them. They see the Sorting through the window, sparing Rowling writing another Sorting Hat song. They see Ginny getting sorted. There’s Gilderoy in aquamarine.

But Snape’s missing. “Maybe he’s ill.” “Maybe he’s left because he missed out on the Defense Against the Dark Arts job again.” “Maybe he’s been sacked! I mean, everyone hates him.” “Or maybe he’s waiting to hear why you two didn’t arrive on the school train” – because he’s right behind you, you dumbasses. There with his robes rippling in a cold breeze. “And he was smiling in a way that told Harry  that he and Ron were in very deep trouble.”

You’re screwed.

Snape takes them to his office, harasses them about being famous Harry and his sidekick. Snape knows about the car from the Evening Prophet, which according to the ebook version of this, “when something particularly interesting or exciting happens, such as the illegal flight of a Ford Anglia the length of Britain, an Evening Prophet edition will be rushed out. So let’s pause to appreciate that Harry and Ron probably single-handedly caused an evening edition to be published, just because they are stupid.

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C: It’s pretty impressive.

S: A LOT of people saw them. Six or seven Muggles reported to the police. Does the Ministry listen to police scanners?

C: They’d have to have a liaison, right?

S: Maybe an undercover police wizard?

C: Mr. Weasley would love that job.

S: Oh, don’t give him a gun. This is bad enough, because he’s not supposed to have that car, and Arthur is in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office – and they just misused a Muggle artifact in a grand fashion and let the whole country see. Harry’s panicking thinking he might have gotten Arthur in serious trouble. Snape: “You stay here while I get people who can expel you, and then I’m throwing myself a nice party.”

C: Basically.

S: He brings McGonagall, who is furious and needs no more than 2 words: “Sit. Explain.” I would be terrified.

C: Oh yeah.

S: Damn these adults with their logic! McGonagall: “You could have just sent an owl. You know, that owl you had in a cage. On your trolley.” Oh yeahhhhhh…….. Ooops.

C: They’re just so dumb!

S: And now Dumbledore, and it’s worse, because he’s not mad, he’s disappointed!

C: Ohhhh that is the worst.

S: This is painful! Dumbledore, after a long silence: “Please explain why you did this.” Any child with a soul would be just like, “Kill me now!” Harry tells Dumbledore everything except that Arthur owned the bewitched car, “making it sound as if he and Ron had happened to find a flying car parked outside the station.” Which is kind of funny, since that’s what he tries to do with Ginny at the end, because in both cases he’s trying hard to protect the Weasleys. Which makes Harry dumb, but awesome.

C: It does.

S: And now, our latest installment of “What the fuck does it take to get expelled from this school?” Because they’re not expelled, “not today.” Why? Why not today? When, if not today? How do you get expelled from Hogwarts?

C: You don’t unless you’re Hagrid.

S: Snape’s motives are not good, but to be fair he has a point! “They have flouted the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry, caused serious damage to an old and valuable tree,” the police were involved, people saw them – this is not good.

C: Honestly though, the only thing you could use to kick them out of Hogwarts would be damaging the Whomping Willow.

S: That’s true. And Harry tries to leverage that. McGonagall is about to take points, but Harry says that when they took the car, term hadn’t started, so “you technically shouldn’t take points from Gryffindor, right?”

C: You have to have some balls to come up with that.

S: Way to go, Harry! And it works, sadly enough. No points from Gryffindor right now. They’re both getting detention, but as we all know detention at Hogwarts is meaningless. They’ll write to their parents, which, the Dursleys won’t care. They get sandwiches, and they still can’t figure out why they didn’t get through. They’re headed up but realize they don’t have the password, and then Hermione comes running up behind them. “The most ridiculous rumors – someone said you’d been expelled for crashing a flying car.” “We haven’t been expelled.” “You’re not telling me you did fly here!”

All of Gryffindor tower thinks this is brilliant, because everyone in this house is very brave and very stupid. So they all stayed up to cheer. Percy’s unhappy, but everyone else thinks they’re heroes, huzzah!

C: Gotta say, I would be with Hermione in this situation.

S: They go upstairs to the dorm. Seamus, Dean and Neville all think they’re awesome, which they love, even though deep down they know they did something dumb. And that’s the end of that!

So that brings us to Chapter 6: Gilderoy Lockhart, which we will tackle next week because any chapter named Gilderoy Lockhart requires mental and emotional preparation.

C: And we have already gone for an hour and a half.

S: To be fair, we got sidetracked by wizard porn.

C: As one does.

S: I will point out before we go – looking back at the monomyth, since I’ve been interested in how this cycle perpetuates through the series – we had our call to adventure in reverse, when Dobby tells Harry NOT to go to Hogwarts. Harry’s response is the Refusal of the Call: fuck no, I’m going to Hogwarts and you can’t stop me. The third step is the supernatural aid, which I think in this case is the car, because the car saves their ass later on. Although it could also be that around the same time Ginny gains the diary, though we won’t know that until later. I’m not sure that the supernatural aid must necessarily be good.

But we’re close to the first threshold. Don’t think we’re quite there, but maybe. So the lessons we’ve learned: Gryffindors are dumb, flying cars are cool as long as your Invisibility Booster works, don’t buy vibrators in Knockturn Alley…

C: Be careful what you put into the Hand of Glory.

S: But if you’re going to use it, put on some Lady Gaga because that’s the only way to go. This was enjoyable! Next week will be Gilderoy Lockhart, Mudbloods and Murmurs, and then we might make it to the Deathday Party. Depends how much we talk. So until next time, I am Professor Seraphine –

C: I am Professor Creed –

S: And we will see you next time on Advanced Muggle Studies.

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