Sunday, July 31, 2005

Anne Reviews "Harry Potter and the Medical Marijuana"

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Surely you've seen this hefty volume for sale at the local Barnes & Noble. And I was just kidding in the blog title about the medical marijuana. The real title is ... okay, you can read it right here!

Today this book was reviewed in the New York Times, a classic liberal rant sheet with big words. As with most book reviews in the New York Times, you can't tell if the reviewer liked it or didn't, although it appears she managed to push through to the end.

I, too, finished "Harry and the Half-Blood" over the weekend. And I think it should be banned by all druids everywhere. To think that the only duty of fairies in this enchanted world is to provide light at a Christmas party! I am seriously offended. This author lives in Scotland, for crying out loud. She probably has fairies hiding in her writing desk, wringing their hands and wondering what she's really all about.

But it just goes to show you how hidden the World of Sidhe is from modern humans, at least until they get ready to bounce over there permanently. Oh yeah, and for those who dabble in hallucinogenic substances. (I don't.)

After six volumes, it is crystal clear to me that J. K. Rowling doesn't dabble in hallucinogenic substances, and that she's only out to write a ripping yarn for the kiddies, based closely on English private schools and the British temperament in general.

It is interesting to note, however, that in six volumes the subject of attending Chapel has not come up once, nor has any mention of a wizarding religion. Death seems to be of the existentialist sort, with no afterlife to speak of. I counted two offhanded mentions of churches in the 652 pages, and my memory is not clear enough to recall whether those churches were in their world or ours.

I'm not going to ruin the plot for my legions of fans who don't read as fast as I do. (Okay, ta da! Harry lives.) I'm just here to tell you the one place where the author gets it absolutely right. And that has nothing to do with wizards or witches or magic or magical creatures. On those subjects her expertise is dim at best.

She does know professors, though.

I attended college, and I can tell you that every professor I had either hinted or outright declared that he (note non-inclusive language) knew all kinds of great things that were too advanced for us entry-level goat students.

Just recently I was foolhardy enough to sign up for an adult education course, and the professor who taught that was even more smug than most. He just looked down his patrician nose at us and from the first sentence declared us incapable of reaching his lofty career achievements, no matter how hard we tried. The course title in the catalogue was "Advanced Flea Detection," but the professor quickly (after receiving our tuition) advised us that it would really be "Advancing Flea Detection," since we adult students were not fully prepared for true, in-depth, no-holds-barred, super-specific flea detection.

I could have used that $225.00 tuition payment to buy something useful, like a second-hand Hatteras hammock or awnings for the double-wide.

But I digress. Let's take a close look at two notable Hogwarts professors and the student that everyone, down to the lowliest elf, knows is The Chosen One.

Well, there's Dumbledore. I've wanted to shout at him from Page 1, Volume 1. Clearly he's privvy to all sorts of secrets, all sorts of advanced magic, all sorts of mystical languages and high-level meetings. But he chooses to put The Chosen One on the slow track, doling out information at a rate that even our sitting president would find less than taxing.

Excuse me, DUMBledore, you're working with The Chosen One here. Don't you think you should be teaching him more, faster, better? Your average Native American shaman would be mortified at the pace you set. I mean, by damn. The boy's almost seventeen, and you have whole languages you use that you haven't even taught him!

Then again, we all know that Harry will eventually go up against He Who Cannot Be Named. Another student taught by Dumbledore. Who probably has similar gaps in his education.

Moving on to another professor. Now let's talk about Snape.

Okay, Snape's my favorite, because my college, Billy Bob Agricultural University (BBAU) was absolutely packed to the rafters with teachers just like him. So arrogant. So insecure. So jealous. So quick to pick you apart when you do something wrong, so slow to reward you when you do something right. So afraid you're going to excel and wind up stealing his job. (Well, maybe that doesn't describe Snape, but it does cover most every professor in America who doesn't have tenure.)

I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit this. I think Alan Rickman is hot stuff, and he plays Snape in all the "Harry Potter" movies. Therefore I love a Snape-filled volume, and Vol. 6 is bound to set me panting when it gets into celluloid.

This is a long blog, but bear with me. Have you ever been a student? Have you ever been frustrated by overbearing, pompous, secretive, less-than-illuminating professors? You have? Then imagine being Harry Potter and knowing that your sweet little life depends on killing a powerful enemy, based on what these losers are teaching you!

Ms. Rowling, why has your hero never stated, with firm conviction: "You Hogwarts blokes aren't educating me fast enough. Call in Professor Leary, and let's get to the bottom of this Voldemort nonsense!"

I guess then Ms. Rowling wouldn't have seven bestsellers. Or the castle in Scotland. Or the peerage. Or be richer than her queen.

But if I was Harry Potter, I'd have rebelled long before this. I'd have taken the fairies out of the light fixture and said, "Hey, help me out here." And they would have taken the whole business to the right people for the job at hand.

But who am I to talk about fiction? I'm a goat judge, not a writer.

If I could be a writer, I'd write an epic adventure about real alchemists and real warriors, set in, oh ... say ... Europe of 1300. They would be dabbling with potions that are highly illegal today, experimenting with gunpowder (secretly imported from faraway China) and fighting for their lives against the dual powers of the Catholic Church and the king of France.

And the hero would not be a clueless bloke named Harry Potter, but an awesome advocate for freedom named Pierre de Bologna.

Um, did I mention that I'm a redneck goat judge? Just want that to be here at the end of this meandering book report.


Harry is a boy.

See Harry run from bad men.

Good men help Harry.

A girl is smart.

Harry lives.

Anne, humble goat judge
Slightly bitter about her education and job prospects


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