Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9: 394 Shades of Hinkypunk Hanky-Panky

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This week, we discuss: life as a background Everyone Else at Hogwarts; insensitive Cher songs; trying to figure out how Head Boy and Girl work; hillbilly high school; inter-House hanky-panky and Percy the Boner-Killer; how portraits work; Dumbledore is not having any of it; Percy’s tragic handicap; cowardly portrait guardians; the world is ending so let’s play Quidditch; the moment we knew the movies were going to start being good; Snape, PTA, and PTSD; ignorance is bliss is a Hogwarts parent; hinkypunk drag queens; WHY BEDPANS; wizarding STDs and flaming vaginas; teen wizard pregnancies and gay fascism; the most illogical Quidditch game to date; don’t look down, it’s Craft Services Voldemort!; Oliver Wood in the showers (oh yeah); unnecessarily dramatic Hermione; and the death of the Nimbus and all our hopes and dreams.

S: Welcome back! I am Professor Seraphine.

C: It’s been so long, I don’t remember who I am anymore.

S: You’ve lost all sense of self, haven’t you?

C: The only scrap of knowledge I’m clinging to right now – it’s this very fuzzy feeling in my mind – that perhaps I used to go by the Weasel of God?

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Professor Creed searches for her sense of self as Professor McGonagall plots her demise

S: That is by far the most important bit of information you could have. Well, Weasel of God, as long as you are with me I fear no evil. I think. We are going forward into Chapter 9 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Grim Defeat.” I see what you did there, JK. Even I with my affinity for puns find this chapter title a bit much. It probably doesn’t bother you in the slightest.

C: I mean, I like puns.

S: This is true! When we left off, the poor Fat Lady had fled her portrait, after Sirius Black got into the castle, tried to get into the Gryffindor common room, failed miserably and took it out on a centuries-old oil painting, because that’s mature. Now everyone is headed back to the Great Hall, and I love this sentence because I feel like this chapter opening sums up the experience of attending Hogwarts at the same time as Harry Potter – for everyone else.

They were joined ten minutes later by the students from Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin, all looking extremely confused.

If you’re anyone else in this school and are not in the inner circle, that is your life for the next few years. You show up places, looking confused, wondering what happened now?

C: At the end of the year there’s always some kind of big drama, and by the time you reach Year 4 you roll your eyes and you’re like, this shit again?

S: These same people again? Honestly.

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C: “What do they have to do to be expelled?! I just want to go to school in peace!”

S: The question we are all asking ourselves every time shit goes down – what does it take to get expelled from Hogwarts? Listeners, we are going to talk about Fantastic Beasts fun stuff pretty soon, but I would just like to point out that, if at no point in this saga do we find out what it takes to be expelled from Hogwarts, vis-à-vis Newt Scamander getting expelled, I will be terribly disappointed.

C: I just want everyone with his wand explained. Unless at this point in time at Hogwarts they didn’t snap your wand when they expelled you?

S: I just – how? How?? SO MANY HOWS! I didn’t even think about that – did we even bring that up when we did Fantastic Beasts?

C: I don’t know. I was tired and you were drunk.

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The perfect combo!

S: I was drunk which is probably why I don’t remember. But yeah! How did Newt get out with a wand intact and Hagrid didn’t? The wizarding world is SO RACIST.

C: It’s true. Maybe they only snap the wands of half-giants.

S: Well, he’s a half-breed and his brother’s not a war hero, so. Oh man we have so much to talk about.

C: Every time you say that I want to sing that Cher song “Half-Breed.” Did you ever hear that song?

S: No!

C: I think she’s supposed to be half Native American, and it’s something like “Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word / Half-breed, never knew what I was worth.”

S: Now that you say that I think I might have heard it. I don’t know.

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Then again, that could have just been the offended cries of every First Nations person ever to see this

The teachers and Dumbledore are going to search the castle, the prefects are going to guard the entrances, and Head Boy and Girl are finally going to get something to do OTHER THAN walk around and remind everyone that they’re Head Boy and Girl, because as far as we’ve seen, they don’t actually do anything.

C: Who is Head Girl?

S: It has to be Penelope Clearwater. It has to be. WHO ELSE would it be. And also, is there only one?

C: Only one….?

S: Head Boy and Head Girl. Is there only one per school? Or one per house?  A Head Boy and Girl for Gryffindor, for Slytherin…

C: I just assumed that there was just one Head Boy and Girl for each year. You have all the Year 6 prefects, and from them you choose Head Boy and Head Girl. I mean, I don’t know anything about real boarding schools, let alone fictional boarding schools.

S: Yeah, listeners, we’re American and went to public school. This is like the food to us – we just don’t get it.

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C: And we didn’t go to a fancy public high school either, we went to a low-income Southern, rural high school. Now, can we tell you about having hog pens on our campus? Fuck yes we can, but we can’t tell you about Head Boys and Head Girls. We could tell you about the time a skunk got loose in the court yard and one of the boys from the Ag shop came and shot it with his bow, but we can’t tell you about prefects.

S: We can tell you about the time a bunch of dumbass Ag kids got drunk and branded themselves in the Ag shop, got their asses busted, and they weren’t even good brands, by the way.

C: Of course not!

S: That’s our world.

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Did this happen at our school? No. No, it did not. Could it have happened at our school? Yes. Yes, it could.

C: Damn straight! I feel so southern right now.

S: Let’s go back to pretending to be British, where there are Head Boys and Girls, and Percy looking immensely proud and important because he has a job, finally. Dumbledore moves the tables in the Great Hall and conjures some ‘squashy purple sleeping bags,’ because he has style. Everyone crashes out and does a slumber party. And of course Percy ruins the fun, going around shouting, “No talking! Lights out in ten minutes!” Ten minutes, Percy? We’re having a school-wide slumber party and you want everyone asleep in ten minutes? You suck!

So of course the big question is – is Sirius Black Still around, and how did he get in? Hermione thinks he got lucky and picked the night no one was in the tower. Ron thinks Sirius Black lost track of time, it happened to be Halloween, and who knew? But either way, the question is – how?? And we get our first installment in the ongoing series, “Did Anyone Else Read Hogwarts, A History?” Hermione has to remind people that you can’t just Apparate on to school grounds. You can’t just fly in. You probably can’t even just walk in. And the dementors are everywhere and would have seen through a disguise. Filch knows all the passages, supposedly.

C: Or so he thinks!

S: Now Percy’s shouting again so everyone has to shut up. Once an hour a teacher pops in to see if everything is quiet. These are incredibly well-behaved students, by the way. They actually shut up and went to sleep.

C: I would not have.

S: I’m impressed by this, honestly. Finally, about 3 a.m. Dumbledore comes back.

C: Can I interject with something completely irrelevant?

S: Sure!

C: Surprising to me that they didn’t separate everyone by gender. Because Hermione is hanging out with Harry and Ron and nobody cares.

S: I thought about that earlier and considered mentioning it. It says they drag their bags into a group in the corner. And I’m thinking of your assessment of our southern school. How many parents, had this happened in our school, would have sent very angry owls to the school the next day saying “How dare you not separate our children by gender in the emergency situation where they had to stay at school overnight?”

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C: I guess they would have done that, except for the night before Bonfire, when you would sleep in front of the bonfire to make sure people from another school would not come and burn your stack of wood before you got to do it the following night. They did have a teacher chaperone or two, but still, if you wanted to get up to something you probably could.

S: That’s why it’s so much more impressive that everyone complies, bc you’ve got students of all ages in this room. You’ve got 6th and 7th years in here. Don’t tell me that there aren’t some 7th years who are dating thinking, “You know, we could use this opportunity…”

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C: Not to mention all the Houses mixed.

S: Serious inter-House hanky-panky! There’s also this, which is a serious boner killer. When Dumbledore comes in,

Harry watched him looking around for Percy, who had been prowling between the sleeping bags, telling people off for talking.

So even if you wanted to get some face time with your significant other, you’re going to have prim, pouty Percy prowling up to kill the mood.

C: I feel like some of the better 6th and 7th year students could do a charm to make his attention glance right off of them when he went by.

S: Dude, by 6th year Harry, Ron and Hermione are doing Muffliato to prevent being overheard, you don’t think no one else has figured that out?

C: It’s Hogwarts, so who knows?

S: But this is the PG version, and Harry doesn’t know to look for these things! So innocent. So young. You’re laughing because I said this is the PG version, aren’t you? Of all the things I said, that’s what sets you off. “No this isn’t! This is the opposite of that!”

C: This is the NC-17 Harry Potter podcast!

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S: One day, that will be our official tagline.

C: What do you mean one day? It already is!

S: I mean if we ever get an official logo or anything. And when that happens, I will feel I have accomplished something with my life. So nothing has happened, Dumbledore is like, it’s fine, we haven’t found Sirius Black, there’s not point in moving everyone. They got a temporary guardian for the portrait hole. Dumbledore failed to mention that it’s an insane guardian, but a guardian nonetheless. They found the Fat Lady. She wouldn’t let Sirius Black in without the password. So we haven’t yet got to Sirius Black resorting to stealing passwords. At this point he just tried to get in. And I guess she herself was damaged, because Dumbledore says

“She’s still very distressed, but once she’s calmed down I’ll have Mr. Filch restore her.”

C: But it says she’s hiding in another portrait.

S: So they’ll magically restore her to her portrait?

C: It seems to me that Sirius Black took out his knife or whatever, and she, having whatever passes for a brain for a portrait, ran, and he slashed up the background.

S: I guess she can’t hang out in a slashed portrait. I wonder what the rules are that bind someone to their portrait? So many pointless question this series poses.

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Professor Seraphine, reading too much into this

Meanwhile, Snape shows up. Filch has done the dungeons, everything has been searched, and Sirius Black is not around. Snape then proceeds to have a very inadvisable conversation in front of Percy, of all people.

C: That’s how much he hates Lupin.

S: Yeah, he doesn’t care at this point. From Snape’s perspective, that has to be the obvious answer. From his perspective, if that’s not what Dumbledore is thinking right now, he’s being willfully obtuse. He’s thinking, there is only one other person who would let Sirius Black in to this castle, you know who that is, and you’re ignoring it.

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I get that, and I do like that again J.K. Rowling is trying to maintain a possible sense of confusion. Snape says,

“You remember the conversation we had, Headmaster, just before — ah — the start of term?” said Snape, who was barely opening his lips, as though trying to block Percy out of the conversation. 

“I do, Severus,” said Dumbledore, and there was something like warning in his voice.

“It seems — almost impossible — that Black could have entered the school without inside help. I did express my concerns when you appointed –“

And we don’t finish the sentence. At this point, if you’re not totally on board the Hagrid train, it could possibly be Hagrid, since he’s the only other teacher we know of who was appointed at the start of term. Theoretically, there’s a little wiggle room, although at this point I think you’d have gotten hang of the series enough to figure out that new teacher = problems.

C: Well, that and the fact of how Snape has looked at and treated Lupin.

S: Yeah. At this point we don’t know enough about the background to think it’s anything other than Snape wanting his job. I love the way Dumbledore shuts this conversation down.

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“I do not believe a single person inside this castle would have helped Black enter it,” said Dumbledore, and his tone made it so clear that the subject was closed that Snape didn’t reply.

C: Take that, Snape! Oh, I almost called him Sirius.

S: The ultimate insult!

C: Sorry, Severus.

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Amid this very serious scene, I must put a gif of Alan Rickman and Michael Gambon repeatedly cracking up as they attempt to film this scene for the movie

S: So much better. Dumbledore is going to inform the dementors that the search is complete. Percy: “Oh, you didn’t want them to help?” Really, Percy? You WANT them here?

C: Percy can’t read a room, can he?

S: No! That’s an excellent assessment of what his problem is half of the time.

C: And it’s hilarious that he thinks he’s going into politics and will be successful, because he has no clue.

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This level of obtuseness only worked for Roger Sterling because he was half buzzed and always charming. Percy is neither.

S: He cannot read the tone of where he is. We get to Book 5 and he sends that incredibly tone-deaf letter to Ron. It’s like, read the room, Percy.

Dumbledore is still very unhappy with dementors being here.

“Oh yes,” said Dumbledore coldly. “But I’m afraid no dementor will cross the threshold of this castle while I am headmaster.”

C: Oh, snap.

S: Percy is abashed, and Snape is watching Dumbledore with a look of “deep resentment.” Everyone is so bitchy tonight!

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C: Except for all the 6th and 7th years getting it on. They’re pretty happy.

S: The theories about how Sirius Black got in get wilder and wilder.

Hannah Abbott, from Hufflepuff, spent much of their next Herbology class telling anyone who’d listen that Black could turn into a flowering shrub.

C: Really, it’s the most logical explanation.

S: She’s the closest! She’s in Flora, not Fauna, but of all the theories she’s the closest! He can transform into something, just not a flowering shrub. So close, Hannah Abbott! She’s spent too much time in that greenhouse.

Now, the Fat Lady has been replaced by Sir Cadogan, the insane King Pellinore-style knight we mentioned earlier. He’s thrilled with his new job.

Sir Cadogan spent half his time challenging people to duels, and the rest thinking up ridiculously complicated passwords, which he changed at least twice a day.

C: Poor Neville! No wonder he has to start writing them down!

S: We give him grief for writing them down, but who among us would not need to write them down with a complete lunatic in charge of the portrait hole?

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C: I carry a notebook and pen in my back pocket to write stuff down all the time as it is, and I don’t have passwords to deal with.

S: Apparently Sir Cadogan is the only one brave enough to volunteer for portrait duty.

C: Dumb enough.

S: It’s code, we understand.

C: Why could not a portrait of a former headmaster gone to guard it?

S: Why would they not have volunteered? What is so frightening about being a portrait and facing Sirius Black? You’re probably already dead in real life. As a portrait, you can be restored. You’re not really alive per se. Are we all so cowardly, even in our non-living painted existence, that we won’t volunteer to face danger?

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C: Obviously, if you see someone in the tower you don’t recognize and who has no business being there, flee from your portrait immediately!

S: Are there no Gryffindors in portraits in this castle? They’re always doing something very brave and very stupid. Is Sir Cadogan the only one? Or – get a portrait of a non-sentient being, like Fluffy, to guard the door!

C: Isn’t there a portrait that guards the kitchens where you just tickle the pear?

S: Yeah! These people forget that they have magic, don’t they?

C: Just get a MasterLock. That will confuse everyone.

S: Meanwhile, Harry is being followed by teachers and Percy, like an extremely pompous guard dog. Then McGonagall does this thing I love where she summons Harry

with such a somber expression on her face Harry thought someone must have died.

At least in the book, not the film, McGonagall is willing to set him down to say, “Potter, I must tell you something distressing.”

Harry is like, yeah, I know, another person wants to kill me. I know.

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Of course, you must see how seriously she’s taking this. She says:

“Well, in that case, Potter, you’ll understand why I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be practicing Quidditch in the evenings. Out on the field with only your team members, it’s very exposed, Potter–“

If McGonagall is suggesting curtailing Quidditch practice, she is clearly concerned.

C: Practice in the mornings!

S: She gives in eventually, because Harry is like, “We have a match Saturday!” She gives in as long as a teacher is present. Because as we all know, the highly capable teachers at Hogwarts – the ones who are always abandoning their classes and wandering off, those teachers – make that so much better.

I feel more solid in his prospects, how about you?

C: I have so many thoughts about Quidditch and teachers coming up in this chapter, I believe I will defer until then.

S: Excellent! I am looking forward to those. Oliver Wood is, at their final training session, upset to tell everyone that they’re playing Hufflepuff instead of Slytherin – Slytherin, it seems, made up an excuse because of Draco’s poor, poor arm. He’s still injured and can’t fly.

C: Oh, well, then too damn bad, you play without a Seeker.

S: You would think! See, everyone knows the weather is going to be bad so that’s partly why they put Hufflepuff on to that day.

C: So why don’t they just postpone it a week?

S: I’ve said this before and will again, but I appreciate that J.K. Rowling is very careful to lay the groundwork for key things in the following books. I appreciate that she’s introducing us to Cedric Diggory now, and doesn’t wait until Book 4. So when we see him in Book 4 and he takes on a larger role, it doesn’t seem so out of nowhere. Cedric is the new captain and Seeker – the tall, good looking one – on Hufflepuff.

C: Not as good looking as Oliver Wood, thank you.

S: True! Although I have to say that – what’s his name again?

C: RPatz?

S: Yeah! When RPatz wasn’t slathered in magenta lipstick and white makeup, in the Harry Potter movies, he has these delightfully pink cheeks all the time. I think he looks cute. I buy that for Cedric. He’s no Oliver Wood, but he’s handsome.

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C: Meh. My opinion of RPatz is colored by Twilight.

S: We’re always colored by Twilight. We can’t shake the specter of Twilight. It will haunt our culture forever. I personally was scarred by it; I know you were as well.

C: Remember the time we deeply offended the audience around us when we went to one of the movies and laughed at everything?

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The makeup…oh, god, the makeup…

S: It was the first movie!

C: Was it the first one? Did we see that, or New Moon? I thought we also saw one of the last ones that Dakota Fanning was in, because they were kind of legitimately funny. They were still terrible but they got marginally better as they went on.

S: We saw the first one together, and I remember laughing our asses off and saying we had to see the next one together, and of course we did and laughed our asses off even more with Jacob Black and his magical abs.

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C: Can we do a Drunkwatch of those? They’re so bad.

S: Anyway, I feel really bad for Oliver Wood. He’s starting to lose it. His eyes are bulging. He’s saying everything in exclamation points! Six, seven sentences in a row – all exclamations!

C: He can see what’s coming! Oliver Wood is, perhaps, the next Seer a la Professor Trelawney.

S: Just sports-related things. Even Fred – when Fred is alarmed, it’s bad. Even Fred is having to step in.

“Oliver, calm down!” said Fred, looking slightly alarmed. “We’re taking Hufflepuff very seriously. Seriously.” 

I don’t understand why wizards are so dumb, though, that they can’t just call the match for weather. They’re like, “No,  it’s okay, we have magical brooms, we can totally play this complicated game on broomstick in the wind and not worry about our students being struck by lightning.”

C: That’s what I was going to talk  about! Surely there is a way to set up some sort of barrier around the stadium.

S: Right? Shield it? Cut out the weather? No, can’t do that. It’s Quidditch! Malfoy is hamming it up. “Oh, if only my arm were feeling a bit better!” Poor Oliver, he is spazzing out. He keeps dragging Harry between classes, makes him late for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and is still shouting tips at him as he runs. And then we get to the infamous moment that I still remember – when I saw the preview for this movie. The first two movies had come out, and we were at the point where the preview for the next Potter movie was  BIG. DEAL.

C: “Is this going to be the movie where they get good??”

S: I remember seeing this one and thinking this would be the one where they got good! Because it opens with this killer shot of Snape bursting into the classroom, lowering all the blinds – BAM, BAM, BAM

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– and then looks at the camera and says, with that voice:

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This is a great moment – Harry walks in, and surprise surprise, it’s not Lupin, it’s Snape. Being an ass, as usual. You don’t really appreciate how much Alan Rickman toned down Snape’s assholeishness for the films until you go back and read the books again. They you realize, o hai, he REALLY REALLY toned it down.

C: Indeed.

S: Seriously! He takes 10 points from Harry for being late, and then 10 more for asking where Lupin is, and

“if I have to ask you to sit down again, it will be fifty.”

So much passive aggression happening in this room right now.

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Not so passive, judging by the film

C: Snape really needed to be in therapy.

S: The guy really did.

C: He legitimately has PTSD from his Hogwarts years.

S: All joking aside, he does. The guy seriously needed something of that help. He had bad relationship after bad relationship, PTSD from bullying, lots of unresolved issues –

C: Did you say PTASD?

S: No, I said PTSD. Although that would be funny too.

C: I was going to say –

S: Parent Teacher Association Stress Disorder?

C: Yes! Because you were there for the carnage when somebody else’s mother socked it to the Harper Valley PTA!

S: You know, if the parents at Hogwarts cared half as much as the parents at the Harper Valley PTA, a lot of this shit wouldn’t happen. But the parents don’t care! Their children are petrified and they don’t even come to visit them. It’s fine! My daughter’s a ghost in the Hogwarts bathroom. It’s fine! My daughter got turned into a cat at your school. It’s fine!

Is that a prerequisite to acceptance? Do they enchant the letters so that when parents get them they lose all interest in the well being and safety of their child so that the kids can go to Hogwarts?

C: “My child got turned into a cat!”

S: “That’s very interesting, dear. Please pass the marmalade.”

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All Hogwarts parents

C: I don’t know why that was so funny, but it really struck me.

S: Well, back to Snape’s PTA-passive-aggressive-SD something or other.

C: He needed to learn to integrate his childhood self with his adult self and come to terms with this that and the other.

S: He did. He’s messed up and has zero outlet, healthy treatment – and therefore takes it out on a bunch of kids, because he got issues. He’s taking potshots at Lupin, who isn’t even here, and that makes him feel better somehow. He says Lupin hasn’t left any record of the topics covered thus far. Hermione: Here, let me rattle off a list of the topics we have covered thus far. Snape: I didn’t actually want to know what those topics were, I wanted to mock Lupin’s lack of organization, and you just ruined it for me, bitch.

At least the students speak up!

“He’s the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had,” said Dean Thomas boldly, and there was a murmur of agreement from the rest of the class.

Go Dean! But of course, Snape is like, he’s terrible and you should be doing more. So today we’re going all the way to the back of the textbook to talk about…werewolves.

I have to give it to J.K. Rowling here. There are enough clues at this point that, if you’re really thinking, you might actually start to think about why he chose werewolves. But the way she puts it –

Harry watched him flick through the textbook, to the very back chapter, which he must know they hadn’t covered. 

“–werewolves,” said Snape.

But when I read that the first time, it seemed like a typical dick move from anyone even marginally acquainted with teaching. You start at the beginning and work your way through. In any given class, if you go to the back of the book, everyone will say, “We haven’t got there yet!”

C: Mmm-hmm.

S: And they haven’t gotten there yet! They’re supposed to do hinkypunks! I don’t even know what a hinkypunk is, but they’re supposed to be doing them!

C: Let’s theorize – what is a hinkypunk? Without looking it up.

S: What is a hinkypunk? I feel like it’s a really angry hedgehog with magical powers.

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HEADCANON FOR LIFE

C: I can see that. I think of some kind of creature, but one that likes spiked dog collars and mohawks.

S: Well, you’re probably closer than me. I went to Google this when you started your guess, because I wanted to see which of us was closer. When I started typing this, Google Autosuggest’s first result was “hinkypunk drag queen.”

C: I mean, what else?

S: I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

C: Search that first!

S: According to the Harry Potter wiki, it’s a one-legged creature that looks like it’s made of smoke and carries a lantern to lure travelers into bogs. It sounds basically like a will o’the wisp.

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C: I don’t think either of us can claim to be more correct.

S: No, but that’s exactly what it is. Wikipedia, under will o’the wisp, lists hinkypunk as another name. I have to now Google hinkypunk drag queen, because I have to understand the connection. There it is again – first thing! What the hell is this? How can one be a hinkypunk drag queen? I guess this is a person. There’s all sorts of disturbing Google art on this.

C: I am going to join you in Googling. Okay, the first thing I got when I typed “hink” was “Hinkley Lighting.”

S: Well, good for you and your wholesome internet.

C: Now I’ve got “Hinky:” “Hinky Haines,” “Hinkley Lighting,” “Hinky Nevada,” and “Hinky Freeman.” What have you been Googling??

S: I don’t know. It took me to a Facebook page, and this is a drag queen who goes by Hinkypunk as a stage name. And they have a spiked collar on! So I will declare that you were closer than I was. There are some great glam rock shots with spiked collars.

C: Are you seeing this aqua headpiece?

S: Yeah, it looks like Medusa.

C: I am disturbed. What on earth?

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S: Taking some cues from mythology.

C: Oh, from Ru Paul’s Drag Race. They must have had some kind of avant garde challenge. I’m going to have nightmares about some of these weird costumes.

S: Yeah, stop looking.

C: It’s all extremely well done and fancy, but it’s a little on the spooky side for me. I am an enormous wimp.

S: Well, back to Snape being passive-aggressive. He tells Hermione to shut up because he’s teaching this lesson, not her, and everyone needs to turn to page 394. Say it dragged out over 50 syllables like Alan Rickman does.

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C: Oh, Alan Rickman.

S: Now they’re talking about telling the difference between real wolves and werewolves. I love how the students are clapping back at him, even Parvati is like, we told you we hadn’t gotten this far yet. Snape: Oh, I’ll tell Dumbledore how behind you are. Screw you! Hermione knows the answer, she always knows the answer. But nope. Here we are again – academic excellence? Five points from Gryffindor!

I like this line.

It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, “You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?”

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It’s a fan revision, but it should have been in the movie so I’ll allow it

C: It’s an excellent question, Ron!

S: Last time we said we wished Harry would step up and defend Hermione to Ron. At least this time Ron is defending Hermione against Snape. Although that does go a little too close to the “Only I can be mean to her” thing.

The class knew instantly he’d gone too far. 

Ron gets detention, everyone shuts up and takes notes, Snape prowls around and trashtalks all their work with Lupin and complains about his grading system. He then assigns them an essay on how to recognize and kill werewolves. This is awful.

Harry: He’s never been like this with our other teachers.

“Why’s he got it in for Lupin? D’you think this is all because of the boggart?”

C: He’s never had to substitute for any of your other teachers. Maybe he’s always like this, you never know.

S: Ron got a terrible detention – he has to scrub out bedpans in the hospital wing. Which raises an important question for me. How often are bedpans being used in the hospital wing? Is this a common occurrence? Are children put in the hospital wing so often, and in such extreme circumstances, that so many bedpans are being used that students would have to clean them?

C: Apparently.

S: QUESTIONS. I HAVE THEM. What is going on at this school?

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C: NOTHING GOOD.

S: That’s the correct answer.

C: You know how we talked about 6th and 7th years getting it on in the Great Hall sleepover? Do you think the wizarding world has their own unique kinds of STDs?

S: Probably. They’ve got their own diseases, like dragon pox.

C: So what on earth? Would your vagina actually grow teeth? You can see that happening.

S: Breathe fire, maybe?

C: Pee fire?

S: Dude, I would take a fire-breathing vagina.

C: Ugh!

S: It couldn’t be comfortable, but just to be able to say – “Don’t come too close!”

C: Oh, that’s terrible.

S: This is your fault! You did this to yourself!

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Why? WHY? BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE I CAN GOOGLE FIRE-BREATHING VAGINA AND THIS IS THE FIRST GODDAMN RESULT, THAT’S WHY

C: I mean, we’re recording late at night. This is the Harry Potter pOdcast – After Dark.

S: That asks serious questions about wizarding STDs?

C: Exactly!

S: And the wizarding world doesn’t seem to go in for things like penicillin – basic medicine. Soooo…..

C: They don’t have anything like a health class at Hogwarts that we ever see.

S: I bet we got more sex ed than they do.

C: Which is a very low bar.

S: Extremely low! I don’t know, man.

C: We are asking the hard-hitting, journalistic questions!

S: The teen pregnancy rate has got to be high! Where are all the students dropping out, or going on “extended vacations”?

C: I wonder if you could charm yourself to not get pregnant? They make potions, I’m sure, instead of taking the pill.

S: You know, one day, generations from now, the copyright on this work of fiction will expire, and a whole raft of new adult literature will spring out to answer these very questions. It happened to Jane Austen’s works, it’ll happen to these.

C: Why don’t you try to Google some of this stuff? Because I’m pretty sure it’s already happened.

hogwards

S: No. No, no, no. That takes us into the realm of fanfiction, and I’ve googled for just enough images of slashfic to know that’s not a road I want to go down.

C: I like fanfiction!

S: Fan fiction, yes. Slash fiction – the Harry Potter slash fiction – messes with you. I’ve seen some good stuff, but some of the stuff I’ve seen that’s bad, you can’t unsee that.

C: Remind me for the umpteenth time what the Harry/Draco ship is?

S: Drarry.

C: AAAAAAAAAAAAUUGGHHHHHHH. Every time it surprises me with how terrible it is!

S: It will never get any better.

C: I’m going to Google it.

S: Why? Because you hate life? And me?

C: I’ve already been traumatized tonight with scary hinkypunk pictures.

S: How’s that going for you?

C: I Haven’t run into anything weird yet, but my Google history is obviously a lot less on the wild side than yours is, based on what predictive text gives us.

S: Either that or my Google is out to get me. Aren’t we supposed to be talking about this chapter?

C: I did a Google image search and came to a screencap of Sean Hannity saying “LIBERAL FACISM!”

S: Well, that’s important.

C: I don’t know what that has to do with Drarry. Maybe the liberal gays are bringing fascism to all of us.

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You know, I googled “gay fascism” not expecting to find anything. This was one of the least weird things I found

S: Back to the story, Peeves wakes Harry up in the most distressing way possible – just blowing in his ear. WHY???

He can’t go back to sleep so he gives up, Quidditch is today anyway. And I love that as he goes out of the door, Crookshanks is crouched outside the dorm, patiently waiting.

C: Crookshanks is the bomb.

S: He is your soulmate! He’s been hanging around so someone unexpecting will let him in so he can get a certain rat.

“You know, I reckon Ron was right about you,” Harry told Crookshanks suspiciously. “There are plenty of mice around this place — go and chase them. Go on,” he added, nudging Crookshanks down the spiral staircase with his foot. “Leave Scabbers alone.” 

Harry quickly realizes he should have known better than think the match would be canceled.

Quidditch matches weren’t called off for trifles like thunderstorms.

What are they called off for?

C: Even football gets called off if lightning is too close. Football! In Texas!

S: I feel like if you read Quidditch Through the Ages, you’d find a line that says “Quidditch matches were not called off for trifles like the Black Death.”

The team is in the Great Hall eating breakfast, and no one cares that it’s a really bad storm, they just bring umbrellas. Poor Oliver can’t give his usual pep talk – he’s just making odd gulping noises.

C: He knows what’s coming!

S: The description of the game is fantastically bad. It’s a catastrophe! Everyone is soaked, you can’t see or hear, the wind is horrific, Harry keeps almost getting knocked by Bludgers because he can’t see anything. He loses track of time.

Twice Harry nearly hit another player, without knowing whether it was a teammate or opponent; everyone was now so wet, and the rain so thick, he could hardly tell them apart…

C: Good times!

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S: This is awful. Wood finally calls a timeout, and they’re 50 points up. HOW are they 50 points up? Who has managed to score during this insanity?

C: Gryffindor has, because they’re a damn good team.

S: They’re persistent, I’ll give them that. Fortunately Hermione is here with a great idea and puts an Impervius Charm on Harry’s glasses so he can actually see in the rain. Which, can we not put an Impervius Charm on everyone’s clothes?

C: Or give them goggles?

S: I like how they put goggles on them in the movie, because they realized there’d be no way to deal with this any other way.

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Back out there – sports first! Really, the message you want to reinforce at this school is clear. If you’re good at academics, you lose points for your class, but by God, we’re having a Quidditch match.

But Harry does get distracted because he sees a dog:

the silhouette of an enormous shaggy black dog, clearly imprinted against the sky, motionless in the topmost, empty row of seats.

C: Sounds legit. Nobody would look askance at that.

S: No, no one would. And it’s more significant here than in the movie, where Harry just sees the outline of the Grim in the sky and is all, “Oh no, an omen!”

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No, there’s legitimately a big black dog in the stands. Then he looks again, and it’s gone. Again, seems legit.

But Cedric has seen the snitch, and he’s going after it, so Harry is going after him, and then everything gets quiet like someone turned off the sound.

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And it’s cold, and Harry makes the mistake of looking down. As all cartoons have taught us, it’s not real unless you look down. He looks down. And there are at least 100 dementors standing below him.

C: That’s overkill.

S: Are you like me in that the movies have tweaked Dementors in your head to the point that you can’t picture Dementors standing?

C: I guess I didn’t really think of them actually standing so much as at ground level looking up at him. And if you’re above them looking down, whether they’re hovering or 3 feet above it, it’s going to look like they’re standing on the ground.

S: It really jars me now, that description. They don’t have legs! They don’t stand! They just float around. They’re like Craft Services Voldemort.

C: Please, PLEASE use that gif in the transcript of this. It can never be used enough.

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Such excellent character craft

S: And then we get this legitimately horrifying moment where Harry feels frozen, and now he’s hearing voices – a woman screaming in his defense. So much so that he’s taken out of the moment.

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What was he doing? Why was he flying? He needed to help her. … She was going to die. … She was going to be murdered. …

It really messes him around and gives you a window into what it would be like to be around these things 24/7. You’re not just reminded of the terrible things that have happened to you – you are reliving them.

C: So does anything like this ever happen to any other students? As far as we know Harry is the only one who passes out or anything, but surely just considering the generation of kids, there would be other people who witnessed horrible things.

S: There would have to be! I guess the idea is that yeah, probably, but none of them are special special like Harry, so we don’t hear about them. But there has to be. If these things force you to relive the worst moments of your lives – and that’s across the board, that’s everyone –

C: Maybe that’s why there are so many bedpans that need to be cleaned.

S: This is our first real glimpse at what we quickly realize is the moment where Harry’s mother is trying to prevent him from being murdered. We hear laughing and screaming, and then he’s gone. Then we get a great next line:

“Lucky the ground was so soft.” 

Incredible. He fell an insane amount, and he wakes up in the hospital wing to see the team, who all look like they just got out of swimming pools, they’re so drenched.

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Harry fell 50 feet off his broom, everyone thought he had died, but like a good Gryffindor, he wants to know what happened with the match. And no one wants to tell him the horrible truth –

“We didn’t — lose?”

C: We could never lose!

S: Yeah, you lost pretty badly. And at little moments like this I appreciate that she introduced Cedric here instead of waiting for Book 4, because even though we don’t spend much time with him, we get an idea as to what kind of person he is. He catches the Snitch after Harry fell, and George says:

“He didn’t realize what had happened. When he looked back and saw you on the ground, he tried to call it off. Wanted a rematch. But they won fair and square…even Wood admits it.” 

Which is a useful and interesting detail to have about a person whose sense of fairness is going to be so important coming up. The kind of person who would win a hotly contested match and, when he saw that the other guy was taken out of commission, wants to give it all up and do it over, because it’s not fair. Why does Cedric have to be such a nice guy?

C: I was just going to say, Cedric Diggory was a good egg.

S: He was, except that he got embarrassed that one time and went off to be a Death Eater. But the rest of the time, good egg.

C: Oh my god, that play was so fucking stupid.

S: This is an amazing line.

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Poor Oliver. Fortunately, it’s the showers.

C: I’ll console you, Oliver!

S: Sure you will. In the showers, no less.

C: Mmm-hmm. Only when he’s of the age of consent.

S: That goes without saying. Of course they’re trying to scheme how they could still pull off the Quidditch championship. This is the first time Harry has lost a match, after all. Of course he’s disappointed. Meanwhile, Hermione is more interested in what happened with Dumbledore. He slowed Harry down as he fell, and then shot what we know to be a Patronus at the Dementors. No one has ever seen him this furious. I love Angry Dumbledore. Maybe I didn’t get enough Angry Dumbledore in the movies, at least not enough Appropriately Angry Dumbledore? I love those moments in the book where he’s radiating righteous indignation and you’re like, “YES this is the Dumbledore I came to see!” Maybe we’ll get some of that with Jude Law. I’m hoping there will be more of that. I’m not counting Inappropriately Angry Movie 4 Dumbledore, because that movie doesn’t exist.

C: I don’t even remember.

S: IT’S SO BAD I’M GOING TO COMPLAIN AND POSSIBLY WEEP. And the last little thing we’re left with: Harry’s broom. He fell, it’s the first time he lost a match, and his broom took a little detour into the Whompling Willow, who, as Ron says very succinctly, “Doesn’t like being hit.”

I like this description.

Slowly, she reached down for a bag at her feet, turned it upside down, and tipped a dozen bits of splintered wood and twig onto the bed, the only remains of Harry’s faithful, finally beaten broomstick.

ronbroom

C: I feel like that is an unnecessarily dramatic way to reveal that, Hermione.

S: It is unnecessarily dramatic, but it’s his Nimbus! His faithful athletic companion! I don’t know.

C: His faithful athletic companion?? That immediately made me think of a jockstrap.

S: WHY? WHY DO YOU IMMEDIATELY GO TO THE WORST POSSIBLE OPTION?

C: Because this is the NC-17 Harry Potter Podcast! This is what the people come here for! Our tens of fans!

S: I feel like we haven’t gone off the rails like this in a while. It’s a little more than we normally go.

C: It’s because it made me think of that line in Grease, when the principal says something about athletic supporters. She means fans, but they way they take it is as jock straps, which I didn’t realize until I was older.

S: Yeah, she says, “If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.”

C: Yeah, that’s what I thought of.

S: I was going to talk a little about werewolves this chapter, but now that I’m thinking about it I think we should wait for the big reveal, because it’s more pertinent then. But I have so much to say about that, I’m really looking forward to that chapter.

But that’s it for the chapter! Harry’s broomstick has been murdered, as have Oliver Wood’s hopes and dreams, Harry is surprisingly / not surprisingly not dead, and surprisingly it felt like a short chapter. And then the next chapter, which will be much longer, is Chapter 10: The Marauder’s Map.

C: Dun dun dun!

S: That’s it on Prisoner of Azkaban.

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