Harry is at Hogwarts and it’s a-MAY-ZAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! He’s been accepted into the fearsome League of Lions, he’s got his first words of wisdom from Dumbledore (“Blubber!”) and he’s excited to be away from the Dursleys. What happens to our brave hero in this exciting 8th chapter?!
Harry’s first obstacles at Hogwarts are: a lack of engineering degrees, blueprints drawn by Picasso, and living standards that are grossly failing health and safety regulations. Let’s tackle these problems as they arise!
Hogwarts has 142 staircases. The following should be considered Safety Hazard #2:
- wide, sweeping ones (these staircases have giant brooms that try to knock students off the edge)
- narrow, rickety ones (because the termites are the closest thing wizards have to carpenters)
- some that led somewhere different on a Friday (you are still expected to get to classes on time, even if that means jumping to the desired floor)
- some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump (but halfway down, you’re ok)
- there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked politely (because doors think it’s polite to stand in your way when you need to pee)
- or tickled them in exactly the right place (because tickling is all you can think of when you have to pee)
- and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. (don’t expect students to hold in their urine)
Filch catches Harry and Ron trying to open a door that happens to be the entrance to the third-floor corridor. Again, no signs, no warning lights, no caution tape? Let’s sue that Dumbledy-doo.
Harry quickly found out that waving your wand and saying a few funny words is not everything there is to magic. After all, you have to get emotional, want it (this won’t be a rule until the 5th book, but I’m adding it anyway), and pronounce the words correctly so the wand understands.
McGonagall’s first magic trick to the first years is to change her desk into walking bacon and back again. (Remember this moment for Book 7, kids. Making food could save your lives.)
And at the end of class, only Hermione was able to make her match all silver and pointy. I guess she didn’t say the funny words, wave her wand, get emotional, want it, or pronounce the words correctly so her wand could understand. Better luck next time, Hermione!
Snape’s debut performance is more than worthy of mention. “I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death.” If Snape can brew glory, then why isn’t he glorious? If he can bottle fame, then why why whhhyyyyy did he sell it to Jaden Smith and Justin Beiber??!!!!!
These students need to listen to Snape. He can teach them to “stopper death”. I know this is a kids’ book, but bare with me on this one. What if (if, mind you) someone important in this book series will die (I know it’s crazy-talk, but hear me out!) What if Dumbledore or Harry or, I don’t know, Snape were about to die. Snape could have this stuff on hand to save their lives!
Ok, trivia time. I’ll write the questions and you answer them before looking to see the correct answer below.
Q: What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?
Q: Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?
A: Cybertron. Bezoars are wild robot pigs that will gore you, so be careful.
Q: What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?
A: One is a hood worn by monks, the other isn’t.
How did you do? I got 5/5 right.
Safety Hazard #3: Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus’s cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the floor, burning holes in peoples shoes and causing boils to grow all over Neville. Any safety committee would demolish Hogwarts for the following:
- Not providing personal protective equipment to students.
- Not providing fire extinguishers or fire blankets for fire emergencies.
- Not providing waste disposal, wash stations, or spill-cleaning equipment.
- No downdrafts or fume hoods for vapor protection.
- Not providing safety training for students, or educating them on what to do in emergency situations.
- Using toxic, corrosive, and carcinogenic chemicals without first informing parents via permission slip.
- Using metal equipment to hold highly acidic chemicals instead of glass.
In short, I give Hogwarts an F minus minus for negligence in all safety regulations. This school should be shut down immediately and its faculty imprisoned.
Ah, yes. The chapter that truly begins the epic 8 book, 7 movie tale of Harry Potter (not sure why JK Rowling felt the need to split the last book into two parts!)
Now, the first thing I want to nitpick is when Professor McGonagall teaches us about the wonderful heritage of Hogwarts: “Each House has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards.” Yeah. Let’s break this down.
Noble history. I understand that Gryffindor and Ravenclaw may have noble histories, but Hufflepuff? Slytherin? Really McGonagall? Since ‘noble history’ is the only history we are ever given about Hufflepuff, I’ll take your word for it. And Slytherin has a noble history? You can fool anyone who hasn’t read the series, but you want to go with that? Ok, let’s put aside our knowledge that Salazar Slytherin was Nazi in his views of magic users, every dark witch and wizard has come from Slytherin, Slytherin built a Chamber of Secrets and filled it with a basilisk that could murder every student, Voldemort and his Death Eaters come from Slytherin, and the Slytherin common room is a dungeon, then yes, Slytherin has a noble history!
Oh and get this: “any rule-breaking will lose House points.” McGonagall’s script has a little asterisk by it that says (SPOILER): unless it is the end of the book and your name happens to be Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville. Then rule-breaking will win the House Cup.
The ghosts are also racist. When we first meet them, they are discussing the Peeves problem. “He’s not really even a ghost.” Come on! He’s not a ghost because he isn’t exactly like the rest of you ghosts? Go join Slytherin you reich-toplasms!
And at long last, the answer you have been waiting for: What is Hufflepuff? So Gryffindors are courageous and daring, Ravenclaws are smart, and Slytherins are cunning. Hufflepuffs! You are loyal and unafraid of toil! You can expect work in the field of servitude and Igor-ship.
And by the way, I must snobbishly and angrily wave my finger at anyone who likes Harry Potter. Clearly this author copied the House idea from Divergent!
So the new students are segregated into their various factions to be indoctrinated into a class war that has been since the foundation of the school and will soon erupt once again into a deadly war.
And our first sign that clearly shows us that Dumbledore is gay: “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” Yep. That’s cutting edge character development for you. (Oh, what’s that you say? That announcement was completely out of the blue and just a PR move? See? It’s right here in the book.)
Oh, Nick. Nearly Headless Nick. You raise so many questions that will never be answered. Someone tried to behead you, but didn’t do it properly. I’m guessing they used some advanced Ghostbusters weapon to cut through your ghostly neck. Oh, you were part-beheaded in life and your ghost is also part-beaheaded? That doesn’t make any sense. You ghosts can go through walls, how could an axe do anything to your ghost? Also, ghosts need to breathe to “live” because Nick pops his head off, sticks it back on and coughs! Again! Coughing means your throat is irritated by foreign contamination. If ghosts go through walls, then what does Nick has stuck in his throat that requires a cough?!?!!?! And what happens to a ghost if it stops breathing?!! How does Moaning Myrtle spend hours inside the plumbing and not drown? (Sorry, that happens in the next book. We are going through this book as though we have not read it yet.)
Neville explains that his family thought he was “all-Muggle for ages”. (*Squib hasn’t been invented yet… aaand there I go again about a future book.)
Neville’s uncle pushed him off the end of a pier and he nearly drowned. Call child protection services? No? Ok. And I thought the Puritan method of discovering witches was unfounded, but it is an approved method according to this book. If he drowned he wasn’t magical and he would be pardoned, but since he didn’t drown he must be a witch!
When Neville was dropped out of a window and rolled into the road, his family was pleased. I repeat: call child protection services.
Starting small in the Wizarding world is turning a match into a needle. I must ask if a big task is turning a log into a steel beam and what the difference between the two is. It’s wood to iron. Again, JK Rowling hints that size matters!
And hang on a minute! Why do wizards need matches? They have wands that can shoot and endless stream of fire out of them. Making matches is wasteful and harmful to the environment. (Tree Huggers unite against wizards!)
Arbitrary rule #1: no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. In Muggle schools, students are forbidden from practicing math in the hallways. That stuff is dangerous.
Unsafe conditions #1: the third-floor corridor is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death. Subsequently, all first-years died painful deaths because there were no hazard signs, no safety barriers, no warning lights, no security guards, and no maps to show them where to go. Good one, Hogwarts.
Also, anyone who does wish to die a painful death is allowed to go to the third-floor corridor. Instead of seeking psychological help, Dumbledore advises you to go die. Thanks, Dumbledore.
Dumbledore admits that music is a magic beyond all they do in Hogwarts. For those who wished to join the symphonic band, marching band, or choir we strongly urge you to shut your trap, burn your sheet music, and break your instruments. We will have none of that magic in this School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And now I wonder how any pure bloods know anything about music if it is forbidden.
I almost forgot about the Pink Lady. No she’s not an apple, but she is round. She’s a living thing capable of remembering faces and holding intelligent conversations with the rest of the school, but don’t ask her to remember faces to know which students belong to her House. No, instead make up a word that most students won’t remember. If you can’t remember, expect to be left out in the cold drafty corridors of the castle all night, while the stone drains the heat from your body and the rats chew at your feet. Oh, and since you are out in the hallways past curfew, you will also get detention. Good one, Pink Lady.
Wait. This isn’t the Pink Lady.
Ahh, chapter 6, the first chapter that is interesting. It’s titled: “The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters”. It could also be called, “The Five Chapter Bore is Over and Now on to the Reason why You Bought This Book–Magic School Time!” or it could be titled: “Wizards Possess an Extreme Lack of Foresight or Care for the Safe Travel of their Young Pupils to School.”
I mean…What exactly was Dumbledore thinking? “Hey Hagrid, go bust into the Muggle household and force the Dursleys to relinquish Harry for the day to buy his school supplies.” “Ok.” “Oh and, make sure you take Harry back to live with the Dursleys afterward as well. They’ve done a wonderful job raising our ward-of-the-state- and doing everything I’ve told them to do in that letter I left for them long ago- I’m sure they will take him to our magic school too! Cheers!”
Then Harry has the good knowledge to procrastinate getting a ride to King’s Cross Station. He asks the day before! Alternate take on this bit: “Hey, Uncle Vernon, can I get a ride to King’s Cross tomorrow?” “Can’t. Car’s broken.” (Or he simply says: NO!) And that’s the end of that rubbish.
Also, Harry asks Vernon to give him a “lift”. And in an odd bit of language failure, Vernon buys him an elevator. Good job, Harry. Even a stuck-up American such as myself knows what a “lift” is in England.
Now I said at the beginning that Wizards lack foresight. Case in point: Harry Potter! He gets to King’s Cross and…wouldn’t you know it there is no Platform 9 3/4! So Harry sits staring at the wall until the train just leaves, never knowing one of its passengers didn’t know how to get to the platform. One would think that there would be a Wizard-employee of King’s Cross that would direct the students to the platform or put up a sign that says “Wizards run at this wall!” Which leads to the second question: How do the other Muggle-borns know what to do??!
But at last we are introduced to the Wizarding family we have all been waiting for! Enter the Weasleys! A family of 9: 2 graduate parents from Hogwarts, 2 graduate sons of Hogwarts, 3 currently attending students of Hogwarts, 1 noob going to Hogwarts, and that one girl. You would think that YEARS of going to Hogwarts would have made this muscle-memory, but nooooooo. Mrs. Weasley just has to ask (loud enough for any Muggles to hear) “What’s the platform number?” This moment is both extremely convenient for Harry, and sets up the dim-wittedness that runs deep in red-haired magical families.
Here’s the sage advice of Mrs. Weasley to Harry on how to get onto the platform: “Don’t stop and don’t be scared you’ll crash into it, that’s very important.” Uum…..What happens if you stop? Do you get sucked into a vortex where nothing moves at all? Does the magic require kinetic energy to function?? And, don’t be scared??! Does the wall smell fear just by looking at you and screams: “Halt! We don’t accept pansies on this platform! Only the courageous may pass! That’s right, Gryffindors only!” (In case you’re wondering, the wall doesn’t sense fear, so Mrs. Weasley was just being a real w*tch to Harry’s psyche.
Now, this book has established how ignorant wizards are of the real world (yeah, I said it), so why do the chocolate frog trading cards mention that Dumbledore likes tenpin bowling? The majority of collectors are scratching their heads wondering what kind of bowl Muggles use and why Muggles put pins in it. I mean, this is hardly newsworthy. Shouldn’t they put “Dumbledore’s gay!” on the back of the chocolate frog? That’s what any other paparazzi group would do.
Don’t get me started on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. What numskull thought that was a bright idea? I’ll answer: the same kind of numskull that buys the beans on a regular basis to keep Bertie in business. When I buy some candy, I’d rather not play roulette with it (and yeah I hate boxes of chocolate. Such a waste of good chocolate.) Think about it people! They mean every flavor! You get chocolate, marmalade, and peppermint….but then you can get spinach, liver, menstrual fluid, and sweaty jock strap! wwwwhhhhhyyyyyyy??????????!!!
As they continue on the train, Hermione shows up (a big round of applause for the best person in these books ever!!) Her first appearance endears her to us as she says “it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter!” Such understatement! A letter saying you’re a witch?! What a surprise. Yay. How exciting. I didn’t see this coming. I got a letter saying I’m a witch. I don’t think the English language has a word that can describe the feelings I would feel if I got such a letter.
(I might feel something like this:)
I imagine that’s how any Pottered would be like when they receive their letters to Hogwarts.
Yeah, that’s all for this chapter. Most of it was lacking in nitpick-ability and is the wonderful beginning to a great book series!
BONUS FACT: I bet you don’t know how JK Rowling came up with the names of Malfoy, Goyle, and Crabbe! Malfoy comes from the latin prefix: mal- meaning “bad”. Goyle sounds similar to both “gargoyle” and “skin boil”. Crabbe was originally going to be named Scabbies, but it sounded too similar to Scabbers, so she went with Crabbes instead.
Let’s continue with the exceptionally long line-by-line nitpick of the cult classic “Harry Potter and the Sorcerphilosopher’s Stone”!
So chapter 2 begins with everyone grown up about 10 years. In this time, Dudley has managed to progress through school while being unable to count to 39 presents. I thought the American educational system was problematic, but at least our high school graduates can count to forty! Take that Brits!
Nitpick 2: Dudley gets a VCR for his birthday. This isn’t a nitpick, but I feel the need to teach a history lesson to the kids. VCRs are what we used to have before Blu-Ray players and digital downloads. The video cassette tape (which is the equivalent of a standard issue DVD without the menu or scene selection) was roughly the size of of an iPhone with a protective cover.
Petunia is revolted by Harry’s hair and cuts it all off except for the bangs. There’s our ordinary family doing something wacky. And, did half-bald Harry really look better than mess-haired Harry? Also, Harry’s hair grows back to the exact length it was before. Can Harry style his hair? What if he wanted a mohawk…only with his bangs and not the usual way? Eh, moving on.
Also, Harry’s magic begins to shrink sweaters he doesn’t want to wear and allowing him to leap tall buildings without getting a wedgie! It’s a pity Harry can’t use any of these spells later in life. Imagine fighting Voldemort with those powers??!! Just leap to the moon to evade curses and shrink Voldemort’s robes until they choke him to death. Ding dong the wizard is dead!
We come at last to the infamous zoo scene, where >GASP< a snake winks at Harry!!!! Harry, finding this odd, winks back at the snake. Um, why? I thought only 4-year olds imitated animals at the zoo. Then the snake gives Harry a look that means something. The snake doesn’t talk, just a bit of facial body language that I don’t think snakes have the muscles for. Oh, then Harry starts a conversation with it. Wow. Our main character is talking to a snake. A creature that doesn’t speak English. Harry is a nut.
Oh, and Harry doesn’t react when the snake shows that it clearly understands him. “Oh look, the snake just nodded his head. A very human thing to do. And it’s pointing at the sign of its cage, which it probably hasn’t read because the letters face away from him. Wait, does this mean that the snake reads English, too? Or does it understand the people reading the sign out loud? Eh, probably nothing, better keep talking to this snake.”
The snake leaves the zoo saying, “Brazil here I come. Thanks, amigo.” The bred-in-captivity snake speaks English and a word of Portuguese. In book two we find out that snakes have their own language and Harry understands it, but how does the language have separate words for English and Portuguese, thus allowing for this bit of dialog to translate the way it does? Are there multiple snake languages, and how does Harry understand Snake-Portuguese? And why would the snake speak Snake-Portuguese?! The snake’s bloodline originates in Brazil, so why doesn’t it speak Snake-Guarani or some other native snake tribal language? Ugh, so many unanswered questions…..must..stop….