[Show music begins]
Noah Fried: This is Episode 14 of Alohomora! for October 21st, 2012.
[Show music continues]
Noah: Okay everybody, welcome to a new episode of Alohomora!. I’m Noah Fried.
Caleb Graves: I’m Caleb Graves.
Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller.
Noah: And we’d like to introduce our special guest today, Irvin, who is also hpboy13 on MuggleNet.com. He’s one of our editorialists and he writes some pretty crazy editorials.
Irvin K: [laughs] Hello!
Noah: Yeah. [laughs] It’s this guy, the guy who you’ve been flaming for maybe a year now with comments. It’s…
Irvin: Yes, it has been a year.
Noah: Tell us a little bit about that experience. [laughs]
Irvin: Well, it’s been interesting, for one. I never expected to get that much outcry from it because… I was kind of used to it ever since my Ron/Hermione editorial went up two years ago and sort of opened up a huge can of worms that people were duking it out over them in the Chamber of Secrets forum for two years after that. So, I expected a big response but maybe not quite that big.
Noah: What would you say is your most controversial editorial?
Irvin: Probably “My Damnation of Severus Snape.” People get very touchy about Snape.
Kat: Oh. Yeah.
Kat: I could see that.
Irvin: Right? I usually try to keep up the conversation with my commenters, but I just had to give up on that one because people were writing essays in response daily. I just couldn’t keep up after a while.
Noah: Irvin, you’ve been doing a great job in the Editorials section and I’ve enjoyed featuring your essays throughout.
Irvin: Thank you.
Noah: [laughs] Yeah. But you seem to have some issues with various characters of the series: Sirius, Dumbledore, Hagrid, you’ve taken some issue.
Irvin: Well, yeah. I think that in a good book series, you can’t like all the characters. That’s just not realistic. You don’t like everyone you come into contact with. So, I believe everyone has characters they like or dislike and I’m just not afraid to talk about the ones I dislike.
Noah: That’s pretty cool. What do you think about Gilderoy Lockhart?
Irvin [laughs] I find him hilarious, actually. I think he’s an amazingly written character and I wish we saw more of him.
Noah: Yeah, he’s a… no, he’s like this is a… some of these chapters are some of the funniest and a lot of them are his moments, and I wonder if the old stories about him being an homage to Jo’s old boyfriend, if that’s true or not.
Irvin: I don’t…
Kat: I hadn’t heard that. Really?
Irvin: I don’t think it’s an homage to her boyfriend, but she did say that it’s the only character in the books that’s based on someone she knows.
Noah: That’s pretty scary.
Irvin: I think the quote she…
Caleb: There’s a real Lockheart out there.
Irvin: Yeah. The quote she used on her site when she explained this was, “I bet he’s out there somewhere saying that he inspired the Harry Potter series.”
Kat: Probably. [laughs]
Kat: Well, thanks for joining us, anyway.
Irvin: Yeah, glad to be here.
Kat: It’ll be good. Yeah.
Caleb: So, we would like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, Audible. Exclusively for fans of Alohomora!, they are offering a free audio download. They have over 100,000 titles to choose from. So, head over to AudiblePodcast.com/Open to get yours now.
Kat: And we’re going to move right into our comments from the discussion last week on Chapters 7 and 8. Our first comment here comes from the forums and it’s regarding Chapter 8. This is from MoonRose. She says:
“I was a bit disappointed the Vanishing Cabinet wasn’t mentioned in the chapter discussion. I always assumed it had been broken for a long time, but only now I’ve realized it’s destroyed by Peeves in Chapter 8. He was talked into ‘dropping it from a great height’ by Nearly Headless Nick, in order to get Harry out of Filch’s detention. Imagine if this had never happened, how easy Draco’s job would have been a couple of years later!”
Noah: Yeah, I wish I would have zeroed in on that. I mean, I remember, a little while ago, that this was mentioned in Chamber of Secrets and that was a big deal of foreshadowing, but we didn’t bring it up.
Kat: Right, I know. We just missed it somehow.
Caleb: That’s a good point. I mean, otherwise, Death Eaters would be all up in that place really fast.
Kat: Yeah, they would. [laughs]
Caleb: Without him having to fix it. And we wouldn’t get that really awesome scene in the movie where Draco is testing it out.
Kat: Right. Cool, well, thanks for the listeners for putting us in our place, as usual. So, thanks.
Noah: Yeah, the thing about these early books are there are tons of bits of foreshadowing to later ones. So, naturally we’re going to miss a few, but they’re all really interesting.
Irvin: I have a question: Do you guys think that she planned this all along? Or that she just went back when writing Half-Blood Prince and was like, “I have a broken Vanishing Cabinet. I can use that.”
Kat: No, I think she definitely knew what she was doing.
Irvin: All right.
Kat: It hasn’t…
Noah: I mean, it’s either one of those. [laughs]
Kat: I mean, hasn’t she said that she had it planned out from the beginning?
Caleb: Yeah, and she uses the Vanishing Cabinet again. Doesn’t…
Irvin: Order of the Phoenix.
Caleb: …someone from the Slytherin…
Caleb: …Quidditch team, yeah, gets lost between them or something.
Kat: Right, yeah.
Caleb: So yeah, I think she had a plan.
Kat: Yeah, agreed.
Kat: Great, the next comment comes from our main site. It’s from SocksForDobby and it’s regarding Ron’s spell casting, I guess, when he says, “Eat slugs.” Well, anyway, it says:
“I was thinking about how Ron’s wand backfired and made him eat slugs. You guys were talking about it possibly being a nonverbal spell but I was thinking about something we read in Book 1. When Hagrid meets Harry, he asks him if he ever made something happen when he was scared or stressed out without meaning to. Could this be what happened to Ron? He was so upset about what Draco said to Hermione that he did magic without having any control.”
Noah: I don’t know, I feel like… someone mentioned in the comments – I don’t remember who – just the fact that Ron probably muttered the spell, but we just didn’t get that in the text.
Noah: You know?
Kat: I mean, I think it’s obvious that he was definitely upset about what Draco said. But yeah, there must have been a spell there.
Caleb: Yeah, I definitely think so.
Irvin: Doesn’t it seem like a pretty intense spell though? That seems like something a second year wouldn’t know, especially Ron.
Noah: Well, I mean, I’m sure younger students at Hogwarts would have curses that they all share. That’s probably the juiciest bits that they want to learn first year. So, they’re probably going to learn those the quickest. So, “Eat slugs,” whatever that actually is, sounds like a spell they’re going to all want to learn and joke around after. Unfortunately for Ron, it backfired.
Kat: I wonder what “eat slugs” is in Latin.
Noah: I don’t know. If Rosie was here, she could at least throw in a voice.
Kat: [laughs] That’s true. All right, our next comment is regarding the Basilisk and it’s from the forums from MissouriMuggle7. It says:
“One question that occurred to me while reading this week’s selection is why Harry is the only one who can hear the Basilisk. I understand that he is the only one who can understand it as a language, but shouldn’t the others at least be able to hear the hissing sound of a gigantic snake in the wall next to them?”
I thought that was a good point because I did bring up last week, how was he the only one that can hear it?
Noah: Oh, I…
Kat: And who is it talking to?
Noah: I actually read some comments in the forums just about this topic, and I actually commented that I thought it was, maybe it’s in his head? Maybe the Basilisk is just screaming this voice in his head and Harry could somehow zero in on that thought because he’s connected to the snake, and maybe snakes can communicate like that, or at least this magical snake? Because otherwise, shouldn’t they – everyone – be able to hear hissing? But it sounds like this is actually in his head.
Caleb: Unless they just can’t distinguish the hissing from water running in the pipes and he can or something.
Kat: Yeah, I’m looking back in the book now and it doesn’t say anything about there being a hissing at all. So, that’s… it could be a thought, a snake thought or something like that.
Noah: Because I’m thinking…
Caleb: Yeah, but he wouldn’t… I mean, there could be hissing, but he wouldn’t recognize it as hissing because he’s hearing it as communication.
Irvin: Didn’t they actually fix this in the movie where Hermione, I think, hears hissing and that’s how she figures out it’s a basilisk? I haven’t watched the second movie in a while, but I seem to remember that.
Noah: She might. Oh, that’s interesting.
Noah: I just…
Kat: I don’t recall.
Noah: I harkened back to with Nagini and Harry in Order of the Phoenix. He could hear Nagini’s thoughts, but I know that’s because they’re Horcruxes tied together, but what if it’s also because they’re snakes?
Kat: Right. So, he’s more like hearing… okay, I see what you mean, hearing the thoughts. That’s a good thought.
Noah: Potentially. Let’s see what the fans think.
Kat: All right, and this comment here is for you, Noah. I stuck these in here just for you. They’re both from the forums and it’s regarding the Deathday Party. The first one is from LuccaBlack. It says:
“The trio witness gloomy nun ghosts at the party, which struck me as kind of ironic considering the nature of Christian beliefs about death.”
“Could these be nuns for a different kind of wizarding religion, or do you think this was an intentional religious satire from Jo? Jo has officially identified herself as Christian but has stated that she has struggled with her beliefs and was also annoyed by the smugness of overly religious people.”
And hold on, this next comment is from Killey2011. It says:
“Jo once said that only witches and wizards could become ghosts, so I find it weird that the nuns were included at all. But wait, at this point, churches were already rejecting her book and burning it. Maybe she included the nuns to show that magic isn’t evil and can happen to anybody.”
Noah: Either that or she’s angry at Christiandom, so she made these ghost nuns. But…
Noah: I don’t know. That’s interesting, though, because nuns… don’t they live their lives giving their lives to God and they live in the hopes of ascending with him after that? Am I wrong?
Kat: I mean, I know very little about religion, which is another reason I put this in there. I thought it was very interesting. So…
Caleb: Yeah, I mean, that’s true about nuns. I definitely think that it has a lot to do with her frustrations with the structured elements of religion. And while she has… like the first comment said, has… Rowling has said that she is Christian, but she has struggled with those parts. So, I definitely would see it more as her… maybe a satire or just pointing out the problems of religion in some ways.
Noah: Yeah, because if she has nuns that are ghosts, that seems to suggest that there wasn’t an afterlife for them, you know?
Kat: Or they didn’t believe in it enough to carry on.
Noah: That’s right.
Noah: That’s true because you’re a ghost if you fear death.
Noah: But death-fearing nuns?
Irvin: Maybe they weren’t voluntary nuns? Maybe their families forced them into a convent?
Noah: So, it’s a critique on false religious belief…
Noah: …maybe? All right, yeah. This is all really interesting. I’d love to see what people in the comment… in the forums want to make of it.
Kat: But, I mean, so we believe it’s intentional, right? Because I don’t think there are too many things that she does in her books that aren’t…
Kat: …thought out and completely intentional.
Caleb: Yeah, I definitely think it’s intentional.
Noah: Intentional satire, we think.
Kat: She’s very good at that. [laughs]
Noah: All right, so…
Kat: All right.
Noah: Yeah, let’s see what people think for the next episode. We’ll bring it up again.
Kat: Right. And our last comment here from the comments of last week is regarding Voldemort coming back as a ghost, and it’s from the forums by Walpurgis. It says:
“You discussed Voldemort’s death and whether he might have chosen to come back as a ghost. I think that were he given the choice, he absolutely would have. He fears the unknown and is familiar enough with the ghosts he met during his life to know he would still be able to torture the living, and torturing others is Voldemort’s great passion. He definitely would have come back. But he wasn’t permitted that choice. The haunting feeling that I got from the infant-like Voldemort presence in the King’s Cross scene at the end of ‘Deathly Hallows’ was that this is a creature who has been denied his freedom in a very permanent way. He seized at too many forbidden and terrible things during his life to be granted the choice of happiness or sadness in the afterlife. He is forever in ‘limbo.'”
Noah: Well, yeah. That’s true. I think Dumbledore made that pretty much clear in that scene, right?
Kat: Yeah. Well, I mean, kind of. Didn’t he just keep saying, “You can’t help it. You can’t help it”?
Kat: “Don’t worry about it.”
Noah: Yeah. But he definitely doesn’t have enough soul to move on. It’s fragmented, so each piece is in this weird limbo.
Irvin: Yeah, maybe you need a whole soul to come back as a ghost, and just that tiny bit left of him would not be enough.
Kat: But I mean, weren’t we saying that before the Horcruxes and before the… before he came back to life and all that, I think that was what we were talking about, right? At that point, would he have become a ghost?
Caleb: I’m not convinced that he would. I don’t think that he would come back.
Irvin: Wait, you’re saying…
Noah: I mean, he definitely…
Irvin: You’re saying when the original curse rebounded when he tried to kill Harry as a baby, then would he have come back as a ghost?
Kat: No, before that, even as a teenager. Say he had died as a teenager, before the Horcruxes, before he had any backup system. If he had died, would he have chosen to come back as a ghost?
Caleb: I don’t think so.
Noah: I mean, it makes sense. Jo has said that his Boggart was seeing his own dead corpse. So, he definitely fears death enough.
Irvin: Yeah, I think if he could come back he would.
Caleb: I just don’t think so because I think he would know enough about magic to know what the limits are of being a ghost. He probably would have read up enough on it, and there’s not really much for him to gain being a ghost. So, I don’t know. I just don’t see him coming back.
Kat: I don’t either. I agree with that.
Caleb: I say… I get that his fear is death, like that’s his Boggart, but at that point it has already happened in a way. So, he would want to prevent it, but at that point he can’t really prevent it. He can stop it from fully, I guess, completing, in a way, but I think he would be learned enough to know that there’s not enough to gain by becoming a ghost.
Noah: But that’s assuming that becoming a ghost is a conscious decision. I’m kind of picturing these people dying… did Moaning Myrtle die and was she given this weird voice from the gods…
Kat: Yeah, it’s…
Noah: …saying you can become a god, or you can move on, and she had this time.
Kat: No, it’s definitely a conscious decision.
Caleb: Yeah, because she talks about it. And so does Nick.
Irvin: Yeah, because Myrtle wanted to come back to haunt Olive Hornby.
Irvin: I think it says that later in the book.
Noah: I just wonder how that works, so where do they go in that middle space? Are they in a similar area that Harry was in, but their own crossroads, whatever that looks like?
Kat: I mean, possibly.
Noah: We will never know.
Kat: Their own personal King’s Cross.
Kat: We got to find a ghost and ask him.
Caleb: Yeah, there we go.
Noah: I actually downloaded this great ghost app. It’s spooking out my roommates.
Noah: I just… on my iPad, I just wander around the apartment at night and I look for ghosts.
Irvin: [laughs] That’s awesome.
Kat: Yeah, that sounds like something you would do.
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Caleb: All right, so we’re going to move on to our comments from last episode’s special feature which was Pottermore, In Depth. So, the first comment comes from the main site, from HulkHarry, and the comment is:
“I’m surprised that you didn’t mention in Pottermore, In Depth that the composer of the ‘Pure Blood Directory’ was Cantankerus Nott. Since it was published in the 1930’s it would be safe to assume that this was Theodore Nott’s (Draco’s fellow Slytherin) grandfather. I’m sure it was CoS that originally had a [conversation] between Malfoy and Nott that showed that Nott’s father was an equally important Death Eater and that Malfoy couldn’t bully him the way he does to Crabbe and Goyle. This conversation was cut from the final book but JK has always hinted that she had a lot of unused information concerning the Nott family.”
Noah: I mean, I buy that. That makes sense.
Irvin: I just wanted to bring up that Nott Sr., Theodore’s father, is one of the more interesting Death Eaters because he’s one of the original Death Eaters from way back when. When Voldemort tries to get a job as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher – and that’s around 1960 – I think Nott is one of the Death Eaters that Dumbledore mentions waiting for him in the Hog’s Head. So…
Irvin: …evidently the Notts have been at the forefront of the pureblood movement for a while now.
Noah: That’s interesting. Good find, Irvin.
Caleb: If she has all this information about the Nott family, I definitely hope it shows up on Pottermore eventually.
Caleb: I don’t know when she would bring it out since there’s not really ever a time that the Notts play a prominent role in the story that we have.
Irvin: Well, they come up…
Noah: Well, how many…
Irvin: …in Order of the Phoenix sometimes.
Caleb: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. Maybe do it then.
Kat: I mean, it’s just like Dean Thomas. I’m dying to hear about his background, but he doesn’t have a large role until, what, like Dumbledore’s Army, right?
Kat: Otherwise he is just really mentioned.
Kat: I don’t want to wait another three books to learn about it.
Caleb: Especially with the…
Irvin: Didn’t we get his background, though, already? On JK Rowling’s site before the last book came out, she talked about Dean Thomas’s background, how his father was a wizard and he left the family and then he was killed for refusing to join the Death Eaters or something to that effect.
Caleb: We do know that.
Kat: Yeah, but she said that… wasn’t he one of the more important characters in the beginning, he just ended up keep getting cut?
Kat: Anyway, good. Yeah, good comment.
Caleb: All right, and the second comment comes from the forums from SheFlooLikeAMadMan and it says:
“What if this new term ‘Magbob’ was inspired by the similar RL/Muggle word, ‘Nabob.’ From Wikipedia, ‘A Nabob is an Anglo-Indian term for an East India Company servant who had become wealthy through corrupt trade and other practices.’ ‘British Perception: The European perception of a ‘nabob’ was a person who having become wealthy in India, or another foreign country, then returned to Europe with considerable power and influence. In England, the name was applied to men who made fortunes working for the East India Company and on their return home, used the wealth to purchase seats in Parliament. A common fear was that these individuals – the nabobs, their agents, and those who took their bribes – would use their wealth and influence to corrupt Parliament. This perception of the pernicious influence wielded by nabobs in both social and political life led to increased scrutiny of the company.'”
That’s quite the history lesson there.
Noah: Yeah, and this was in reference to Magbobs, meaning these Muggle wizards…
Noah: Muggle-born witches and wizards.
Noah: And it just makes so much sense because…
Noah: …the main wizard folk believed that these Muggle-borns could upset the system because they were unique and magical, and yet outsiders. So, here it ties into the East India Company which is probably really significant in British history, which is the fact that these people were becoming rich elsewhere and then bringing that money and power back inside, and yet they were outsiders, and then purchasing Parliament seats. So, it makes total sense that this where she got the word.
Kat: And yeah, I mean that’s exactly what the purebloods feared, was that the… where were they getting this magic from and they were worried about this. Exactly what this says.
Noah: And it challenges all their old society…
Noah: …and stuff. Man.
Caleb: Yeah, I love this. This is great. What a great find.
Kat: Applause… wait, we need to… round of applause!
Kat: Very good job.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s a clever name too.
Kat: It is. [laughs]
Noah: Okay, so now it’s time to answer Noah’s posed question of the week. So, here was the question from last week: Given that particular scene where the ghost comes up to the table and tries to taste the food, but can’t quite do it – this is at the Deathday Party – and the fact that the ghosts are listening to music that is terrible for humans but eerie enough that it kind of connects, what do these instances reveal about the connection between the real world and the ghost world or the world of the dead? Are ghosts in between? Can they taste and feel from both worlds? Or are they solidly in the other world and because the music and food are so strong and potent they can get a taste? And what does that taste consist of? So, basically my whole question was on the order of with these rotten smelling food… all these rotten smelling foods at the Deathday Party and the really loud music, how did it reach the ghosts possibly if they were in another world? So, our first comment from UrictheOddball. Is that right, guys?
Caleb: It’s Uric, isn’t it?
Irvin: I guess.
Kat: Yeah, I think Uric.
Kat: Like Eric, but Uric.
Caleb: Yeah, I always read it Uric.
“The entire purpose of remaining as a ghost rather than moving on is that they generally fear death or are clinging desperately to life. This desire to be alive causes them to strive for even the smallest taste. The act is merely them attempting to experience the things about parties which they so wistfully remember from their lifetime. I don’t believe the food truly has a taste for them so much as a faint memory of something you once tasted, almost like when you see a cake on television and think about how delicious it looks.”
Irvin: That makes sense.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s pretty solid.
Kat: Yeah, I completely agree actually.
Noah: Yeah, it does, and doesn’t… when that ghost kind of opens his mouth and goes through the old fish, doesn’t he say…
Noah: …he can almost taste it?
Caleb: Yeah, Harry asks him.
Caleb: Or someone asks him. Maybe it’s not Harry. Someone…
Kat: I think it’s Ron.
Caleb: Ron asks him, yeah, “Can you taste it?” and he said, “Almost.”
Noah: [impersonating the ghost] “Almost.”
Noah: It’s like Ron…
Kat: I can just picture that. I wish we had seen that in the movie. I don’t know, I just think that’s a funny line. I like the visual.
Noah: Little details.
Noah: Little details we’re kind of missing in those first movies. Irvin, you like the first two.
Irvin: I do, yes! Those are my two favorites.
Noah: Yeah. Wouldn’t you have liked to have seen some of these smaller details?
Irvin: I would, but I feel that at least the first two movies got the overall thing right. They got the entire plot and characterization right, so thank God for that.
Noah: They did capture the spirit of the books.
Kat: So, you’re a purist, it sounds like?
Irvin: Yes. Very much.
Kat: Nothing wrong with that.
Irvin: That’s what all the flames are coming from for the most part.
Kat: Oh, okay. [laughs]
Noah: So, our next comment from AccioMagic:
“As we know later in the novel, it is possible for the ghost to be petrified. Of course the only way to reverse this is the Mandrake Restorative Draught. How is this applied to a ghost? It could perhaps suggest that ghosts can… consume?”
Noah: Now, that’s really cool.
Noah: Because they’re potentially in a different world. How is that possible?
Irvin: I mean, I don’t think they can consume because it says several times in the books that Nearly Headless Nick has not eaten for several hundred years. I just always thought that the Mandrake Draught was just sort of spritzed onto Nearly Headless Nick.
Caleb: Like a baptism?
Kat: Like in a water bottle?
Irvin: [laughs] Yes, exactly.
Noah: But even that assumes that his body is like… his spectral body is taking in the potion to the same degree that a physical body could.
Irvin: Or maybe they just…
Kat: Yeah, wouldn’t it…
Irvin: …got a lot of it?
Kat: Maybe… wouldn’t it just fall right through him? Because if you can walk through him, I imagine a liquid wouldn’t be able to stay on him. I mean, even McGonagall has to conjure up a fan to blow him away.
Irvin: Well, maybe there’s something magical in the potion that prevents ghosts from walking through it? I mean, we don’t know if ghosts can walk through potions, do we?
Noah: And then they get some sort of slight effect from the potion, so maybe that’s all he needed.
Caleb: Or is this maybe something that Jo just didn’t really feel like she needed to think through very much and she just sort of made it happen.
Kat: It’s possible.
Irvin: Maybe, but we should still try to explain it.
Noah: Yeah, we’ve got to.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Noah: None of this actually happened, Caleb. I don’t know…
Caleb: Wait, what?
Noah: [laughs] Sorry.
Caleb: Are you sure about that?
Noah: Oh no.
Caleb: I need a moment.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs] I mean, obviously, his being petrified was really just a vehicle for… who was it that saw through him?
Irvin: Justin Finch-Fletchley saw the Basilisk through…
Noah: Justin, yeah.
Kat: That’s right. So, obviously it was just a vehicle for Justin’s petrification, but still…
Kat: I mean, this is… I still feel like a logistical problem.
Irvin: Which is so creative. I love that you get petrified by seeing it through a ghost. I mean, that’s just brilliant.
Caleb: I mean, I…
Noah: And the ghost. The ghost is also seeing it through a filter because he’s already dead. So, he can’t die, so he gets petrified.
Caleb: I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more I think that the ghost might be able to consume it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they get a taste from it or something like that, but they still are able to sort of take in the magical effects of the potion.
Noah: Do you think that maybe they had to make a ghost potion that he could drink?
Kat: I was just thinking that!
Kat: I was just thinking that. [laughs]
Irvin: How would you do that?
Noah: Which is pretty easy. You just kill it.
Irvin: Kill the potion?
Kat: Well, I mean, there are already… I mean, we see all these other ghostly things in the world. Maybe there’s a ghost who makes ghost potions.
Caleb: Now, that is a business that someone should get into.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs]
Irvin: Would you need dead ingredients, though?
Kat: You would need ghost ingredients.
Noah: You’d need ghost ingredients. It’s an untapped market.
Kat: Ghost mandrakes. Yeah.
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Caleb: Everything got so much more complicated now.
Kat: It did.
Noah: Well, we have another comment from RebeccaTheRavenclaw, so maybe she’s pretty smart. She should be able to help us out.
“I think that once you are dead, even if you choose to ‘come back’ as a ghost, you can neither touch nor taste anything in the world of the living. How do some ghosts affect objects then; like say, Moaning Myrtle turning on her taps? I think that’s down to emotion rather than physical touch.”
Does she do that? Oh, I guess she does, to get all the water flowing and flooding.
Irvin: I think…
Irvin: …the term used is that she floods the bathrooms. I don’t think we ever know how she does it.
Noah: I always thought it was just her tears.
Caleb: Oh no.
Kat: Aww, that’s so sad.
Irvin: I always envisioned it as the toilet water sloshing around from her agitation, which is kind of nasty.
Kat: Which is another thing. How does she move the toilet water?
Noah: …this is what Rebecca is saying. It’s due to her emotion…
Noah: …rather than her physical movement.
Caleb: Yeah. I think…
Kat: But I’m saying that the water is like the Mandrake Draught. So, if they can manipulate… if she can manipulate the water, maybe they can manipulate the potion too. I don’t know.
Kat: Because they’re both liquid, is what I’m saying.
Noah: So, is it dead water?
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Caleb: Oh my goodness. Water is not alive to begin with.
Noah: Well, neither is a potion. But anyway, here is another comment from LumosNight3, one of our avid subscribers:
“So, we have been talking a lot on the past few episodes about means of magical communication and I’m wondering, did anyone else notice that the letter Nearly Headless Nick receives denying him entrance to the Headless Hunt was a transparent letter that he tucks away into his coat pocket? So, now we know that ghosts can not only communicate with each other without being in the same room, but they can send ghost letters too? How are they doing this and how is it that the letters look transparent and ghostly like the ghosts themselves do?!”
Caleb: Yeah, I was thinking about this exact thing…
Noah: Good one.
Caleb: …when I was reading because I wasn’t on the last episode. But yeah, I was wondering, how does this correspondence work?
Kat: Maybe you have to die with everything in your pocket.
Irvin: So, die with just a bunch of parchment in your pocket, and then you use that?
Kat: And a quill and some ink, yeah.
Irvin: Of course.
Caleb: So, when you feel like you’re getting up there in age, never…
[Irvin, Kat, and Noah laugh]
Caleb: …go a day without stuffing your pockets with everything you will need.
Irvin: Lessons to live by.
Caleb: Yes. There we go.
Noah: Isn’t that so cool, though, that they just still send letters to each other and stuff? Like they have some kind of mail system? Like croaked owls?
Caleb: Yeah, who is the ghost postman?
Irvin: Yeah, dead owls. That’s what I thought.
Caleb: Oh wow, we’re really building up this ghost world here.
Caleb: I’m digging it.
Noah: That’s where the dead owls go.
Kat: I’m kind of seeing it as its own society.
Kat: That’s just living kind of…
Kat: …invisibly around us.
Noah: It does.
Caleb: Yeah, the ghost society that is hidden within the wizarding society, which is hidden within the Muggle society. We’re on Inception here.
Kat: Oh my God.
Caleb: We’re going four levels deep.
Noah: Well, here is what I brought up in the comments the other day that I thought was pretty smart. You know how… the riddle at the end, “Where do Vanished objects go?” They go into everything?
Irvin: “Non-being, which is to say, everything.”
Caleb: “Non-being, which is to say, everything.” Yeah.
Noah: Right, but what if that means it’s into the ghost world? So, the ghosts… whereas humans can make stuff disappear, ghosts can make stuff reappear just by using their mind. And these are all these previously banished objects by humans.
Irvin: So, you’re saying vanished objects become ghostly objects?
Noah: Or that ghosts can recall them, if they’ve been previously vanished.
Irvin: Oh, that’s interesting.
Kat: So, they’re pulling from that kind of figurative world, where we said… wasn’t that the chalk world where we said everything goes to?
Noah: Well, that’s the…
Kat: Is that what you’re talking about?
Noah: That’s another world. But yeah, in a similar sense. I mean, it sounds like…
Caleb: I want to go live in the chalk world.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs]
Noah: But this was McGonagall’s quote at the end, the riddle outside of… Ravenclaw Tower?
Noah: No, it was Luna who solved it, I guess.
Irvin: No, it was McGonagall. Luna solved…
Kat: It was McGonagall.
Noah: It was McGonagall?
Irvin: …the phoenix and the flame one.
Noah: Right, and it’s this whole idea of “into everything.” So, that seems to reflect more of a spiritual belief on her part, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also tied to the magic in the ghosts, and they can… the ghosts are pulling from everything, and they can…
Kat: Wait, why don’t we consult our guest ghost host? Maybe he has an answer.
Caleb: Wait, what?
Noah: [in a ghost voice] Hello.
Noah: [in a ghost voice] Hello.
Kat: I was being stupid or silly.
[Noah makes ghost sounds]
Kat: Whatever. [laughs]
Noah: Okay. Well…
Noah: Hopefully he won’t return again. He was scaring me.
Kat: I just think that the ghost world is… anything can… I just think it’s amazing. It’s incredible.
Irvin: Guys, ghost Quidditch? Can you imagine?
Kat and Noah: Aww!
Kat: That would be pretty cool.
Noah: Well, listeners, if you have any thoughts on ghosts and magic, just leave a comment in the Alohomora! section. Or write an essay about it and I’ll feature it.
Kat: Or send us a voicemail.
Noah: Or send us a ghostly voicemail. Thank you.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs]
Caleb: So, before we get started on this week’s chapters, have you guys read The Casual Vacancy yet?
Kat: Yeah, actually, I’m about one-third of the way through and actually, I downloaded the audiobook for myself from Audible. Did you guys know that they over 100,000 titles to choose from? Most of them the day that they’re released in bookstores?
Caleb: Oh, man. I did know that, Kat. Audible is definitely the best place for all your audio downloading needs. Plus, right now, Audible has a great special offer for our US and Canadian listeners. They can visit our unique link created specifically for them and get a free audio download today. So, right now you can just head over to AudiblePodcast.com/Open.
Noah: Wow, sounds like I’m going to have to check out Rowling’s new book at Audible then. I’m sure a lot of her fans would love it, especially with how great the sound quality is on Audible downloads.
Caleb: Definitely. So, all of you listeners out there should take a minute to visit the site and start downloading directly to your computer. For easy listening on burned CDs, mp3 players, and even your iPad, iPhones, or Androids. Again, the website made just for you is Audible – A-U-D-I-B-L-E – podcast – P-O-D-C-A-S-T – dot com slash open – O-P-E-N. So, visit AudiblePodcast.com/Open for your free download today!
Kat: So, let’s jump right into our chapters for this week. We are covering Chapters 9 and 10, “The Writing on the Wall” and “The Rogue Bludger.”
Noah: Wow. And yeah, I was really glad I got this chapter, Kat. But even after reading, does anyone know why it was called “The Writing on the Wall”? Besides the fact that there is writing on the wall. What does it significantly… what’s its significance for the whole chapter?
Kat: Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that. I always just assumed that it was because of the blood on the wall.
Noah: No, I know it’s there, but why did she pick that title? I’m just trying to… because sometimes “the writing on the wall” also means “the obvious”…
Noah: …or when someone fails to realize… you know what I mean? It’s kind of a saying as well.
Noah: I don’t know…
Kat: Well, I mean, it does happen right outside Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, where we know the Chamber of Secrets is. Well, we don’t know yet but…
Noah: Yeah, but I’m…
Kat: So, maybe that’s it. Maybe she’s implying that it’s obvious, it’s right here… I don’t know.
Noah: Maybe. Maybe it’s something we have to think about as we read through the chapter, and by the end I’ll question you all again.
Irvin: All right.
Noah: Okay, so getting into this chapter, I personally thought it was one of the funniest. It was just so great. There were so many little moments. Did you guys feel that, too?
Noah: It’s just…
Kat: Agreed, yeah.
Noah: It’s just hilarious, and a lot of it is pretty dark too because we’re getting the first instance of this monster coming in and killing, or trying to attack Mudbloods and stuff. Kind of this racial persecution almost, similar to the Holocaust. So, I feel like she’s dealing with so many dark themes but she’s using humor to offset it throughout, and you get that especially with Mrs. Norris in the beginning. Dumbledore takes Mrs. Norris with the other teachers into Lockhart’s room and it’s just kind of a humorous scene…
Noah: …as he’s poking and prodding the cat.
Irvin: Generally, the Hogwarts professors are hilarious. Like, every time we have a scene with a lot of them interacting, I just end up cracking up. So…
Noah: Have you noticed… there was even a line where Snape is trying to hold back a smile that Harry notices, and I thought, “Wow, humanity from Snape.”
Irvin: Well, no. I assumed that’s because he was happy that Harry was getting into trouble but…
Irvin: …didn’t want to make that obvious.
Noah: You think it was that? I thought it was because there’s this line, “The tip of Dumbledore’s nose nearly touched Mrs. Norris.” He made that smile while Dumbledore was doing all those things to the cat and everyone was freaking out and McGonagall got very serious, so I thought he was taking it a little less seriously because he thought it was kind of silly.
Kat: No, I think it’s definitely Snape’s happiness that Harry is getting in trouble, especially with Filch’s overreaction.
Irvin: Yeah, and don’t we get something similar when Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet in Goblet of Fire? That Snape is also trying not to look too happy or something?
Irvin: So, that’s just Snape being snarky.
Noah: But he’s not necessarily… I feel like he would smile if that was happening. He was making a weird face like he was trying to hold back a smile. Let me get the line up for you.
Irvin: Well, isn’t that because Filch’s cat just got petrified, and Snape and Filch are kind of friends? So…
Noah: He wouldn’t be laughing about that.
Irvin: Yeah, it wouldn’t be prudent to be smiling with glee that Harry is in trouble when…
Kat: Well, I mean, this is Snape we’re talking about. He’s not exactly all sunshine and rainbows, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he was smiling.
Noah: Wait, hold on one moment.
Irvin: Here, I have it. Page 141. “Snape loomed…”
Noah: Read the whole paragraph.
“The tip of Dumbledore’s long, crooked nose was barely an inch from Mrs. Norris’s fur. He was looking at her closely through his half-moon spectacles, his long fingers gently prodding and poking. Professor McGonagall was bent almost as close, her eyes narrowed. Snape loomed behind them, half in shadow, wearing a most peculiar expression: it was as though he was trying hard not to smile. And Lockhart was hovering…”
Noah: Okay, stop.
Noah: So, you see that? Like, his smile is therefore in direct reaction to what Dumbledore and McGonagall are doing.
Kat: Maybe he thinks it’s funny.
Noah: He does!
Caleb: I mean, I would probably be smirking.
Noah: I mean, think about it. Dumbledore has got his nose right in Mrs. Norris.
Noah: It’s like, “Hmm, she smells like…” what does she smell like, Dumbledore? What are you doing?
Irvin: Like Filch.
Kat: Eww, that can’t be pleasant.
Noah: Oh, but I imagine she would. But I don’t know his nose could function, and then I was just imagining him, after poking, pronouncing that, [as Dumbledore] “This is indeed a cat.”
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Noah: Or something like that.
Kat: All right, all right.
Noah: But in all seriousness, I think Snape was laughing at that, therefore he’s actually… it wasn’t just Harry, and I think we get too much of the filter of Snape just wants to give Harry trouble.
Kat: Well, you have to remember that the book is told through Harry’s point of view, so everything that Snape does we feel is towards Harry.
Noah: Right. And I think that was the effect of this. But I just love this scene because I had totally forgotten about it, and it is so dramatic. All right, so we happen to be in Lockhart’s room, the Defense Against the Dark Arts room, and we notice pictures of Gilderoy everywhere and it’s really funny because they’re all disheveled and wearing hairnets, presumably getting ready for sleep. So, I had two thoughts about this: What is it like for him to live with so many magical versions of himself that he can likely communicate with, that obviously are complex enough that they have sleep schedules?
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Noah: And my second question is: Lockhart is clearly feminized here, with all the hairnets, so are we therefore taking that he is less of a man? And if we are getting the fact that he is less than a man, by virtue of the fact that he is kind of feminine, what does that say about women?
Kat: Well first off, I think having all these magical versions of himself just feeds into his ego even further.
Noah: Of course.
Kat: Personally I probably have, I don’t know, three pictures of myself in my entire apartment, but I’m not a really egotistical person, so I guess this fits with Lockhart’s character. As far as the hairnets, I don’t know. He’s metrosexual, maybe?
Caleb: Yeah, I don’t know if it does too much to comment on women because… I think it’s more on the individual character because Rowling does enough to portray strong women and weak women, to show that there is obviously different aspects to femininity, and I don’t think that… yeah, I think she’s just doing more to comment on the character than women in general.
Noah: Yeah, my only concern was that she’s using this feminine thing of the “my hair is in rollers and the hairnet beforehand, I’ve got to get ready” to kind of belittle Lockhart. So, therefore it seems to have some implications on femininity. Or maybe I’m just reading in too much, but I got that weird sense from it. And I know there are tons of strong women in the series, but I feel like there are many, many times where Lockhart is ridiculed for being this flamboyant, and sometimes feminine, character.
Kat: Well, I definitely see him as frail, as far as men go in the series. He’s definitely not the one that I would call if I was in trouble.
Caleb: But do you think that’s what he’s sort of looked down on for, Noah, more than the way people view his ego and his bold claims of what he’s accomplished? Because I don’t… I guess I never really noticed this much. Like, people hating on him because he’s too feminine.
Noah: I mean, it’s definitely more because he’s not a good wizard than anything else.
Noah: And people definitely find him attractive. He’s got scores of these middle-aged women…
Noah: …reading his books.
Noah: So, I don’t know if it’s directly because of his feminine attributes, but I’d like to kind of track it through the series and then make a claim…
Caleb: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely something we should watch out for as we keep going.
Noah: Yup. So, then we move on from there, and Snape is trying to get them clearly punished because, as you’re saying, yes, of course he wants to get them into trouble, and he… Snape starts asking Harry, Hermione, and Ron why they were… why didn’t they go to the feast, why were they up in that corridor, and they explained they were coming from the Deathday Party and they want to go to bed, but he’s saying, [as Snape] “Weren’t you hungry? Didn’t you want any supper?” And Ron’s like, “No!” and his belly rumbles.
Noah: And Snape weirdly smiles like a creep. [laughs] And then I just wish Harry would have been like… because Snape had said, [as Snape] “I didn’t think ghosts provided food fit for living people at their parties.” [back to normal voice] Harry could have been like, [as Harry] “Well, how do you know about ghost parties, Professor?”
Irvin: Yeah, well this was before Harry got some attitude.
Irvin: We get to see so much more of that in the later books, and I love it!
Noah: You do? I thought you… oh yeah, you had that whole piece where you defended “Capslock Harry.”
Noah: Right? [laughs]
Kat: I’m with him on that one. I love outspoken Harry.
Irvin: Yeah. My favorite is in Half-Blood Prince in the first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson, where it’s like, “There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”
Irvin: So much sass. Love it.
Noah: That stuff is great. But just on this point, do we think that Snape once attended a Deathday party, or a party of any kind? Or is it just general knowledge that ghosts don’t really eat the best human food?
Caleb: Yeah, I would say it’s more general knowledge. I don’t see Snape attending any Deathday parties.
Irvin: Or even living parties.
Caleb: [laughs] Yeah, that’s very true.
Noah: Only alone in his dungeon.
Kat: I don’t know, what if… he might go to one. He’s a pretty dark guy, and death parties seem interesting. I would go to one. I don’t know, I could see Snape at one.
Caleb: I just don’t see him…
Noah: I’m sure there’s plenty of fan fiction.
Caleb: …associating with ghosts.
Kat: Woah. Say that again, both of you.
Noah: I’m sure there’s plenty of fan fiction about his party life.
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Noah: Probably in the Marauders’ era.
Caleb: Yeah, maybe they caught him at a Deathday party with ghosts, the Marauders did.
Kat: Yeah. [laughs] Okay…
Noah: “I find these people so much more lively than you!”
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Noah: That’s terrible.
Caleb: Oh okay, got it. Nevermind.
Noah: So anyway, they start talking about the fact that, yes, Mrs. Norris is petrified, so they… Dumbledore talks about how they’re going to get the Mandrakes, and I guess it’s Professor Sprout, Snape, and Madam Pomfrey who are going to work on that eventually, but I’m just wondering: How does Mandrake Restoration Draught… how do they get it? It sounds like they have to wait for the Mandrakes to mature, but what does that consist of? Do they just become these full-grown bodies in the pots and they just grind them up, or do they milk the Mandrakes?
Kat: I definitely think it says that they chop them up.
Caleb: Yeah, I hope they don’t milk them. That’s awkward.
Irvin: Yeah, no, they need to be grown up because they mention that they get acne as they grow up, and then there’s a whole thing about them trying… there’s a thing about them throwing a raucous party in the greenhouse.
Kat: [laughs] Right.
Irvin: And then, once they start trying to move into each other’s pots, then they’re full-grown. So, Mandrakes kind of have their own life cycle similar to ours.
Noah: And they’re having a great time…
Caleb: And maybe some don’t make it and become ghosts, so you can’t use them for the Restorative Draught.
Kat: [laughs] Oh God.
Irvin: Right, exactly.
Noah: So when they become teenagers, do they start hopping pot to pot and making more Mandrakes? How does this work?
Irvin: Yes. It says that.
Noah: Wow. And then Pomona just…
Irvin: Chops them up.
Noah: …sharpens her knife and ends their party very badly.
Caleb: She has no time for feelings of the Mandrakes.
Caleb: She’s all business, that girl.
Irvin: Have you guys ever heard the wizard rock song by The Butterbeer Experience called “Mandrake Lament”?
Caleb: [laughs] No.
Caleb: Oh gosh.
Irvin: It actually talks about that. It’s great.
Noah: I mean, I never considered it before, but Pomona Sprout is a serial killer of Mandrakes.
Noah: At a certain point, she just… it’s genocide in there.
Kat: That’s why it’s hard for me to view them as a plant. I see them more as a being, but I always have to remind myself that they’re a plant.
Noah: Question of the week?
Noah: Well, we’ll get to that later. [laughs]
Kat: Right, of course.
Noah: So, then we finally get out of that room, and what happened with the writing on the wall starts to go to everybody in Hogwarts, and Ron mentions out of hand that Ginny was very upset about it, that… here’s the line. Harry hears that “according to Ron, Ginny was a great lover of cats,” and she was just really upset because of that. There is actually another instance in the chapter, but I just love… it’s so great because of the narrative, the way Jo works. So, we get this instance of foreshadowing with Ginny through the conscious… through something that Ron says, but it won’t dawn on us at all. We just think that she is really scared.
Kat: Yeah, there are so many signs that point to Ginny in this book that you don’t really realize until later.
Noah: Yeah, including the roosters – or the chickens – back in the last chapter.
Kat: Right, exactly.
Irvin: That’s why I love re-reading the books. I just finished my thirteenth re-read of the series, and I’m still picking up new stuff. It’s great.
Noah: Yeah, I feel like these books were also meant to be re-read because…
Irvin: Oh, yeah.
Noah: …there’s a great humor in reading this now, knowing what’s going to happen because…
Noah: …it is very ironic. Obviously she was coming from a similar place when she wrote it because she knows where she was going.
Noah: And then we have Justin Finch-Fletchley, who just stumbles upon Harry in a hallway and then he just runs in the opposite direction because he thinks Harry is the Heir of Slytherin. [laughs] So, then Ron… so Harry is kind of upset about it, so he talks about it with Ron in the hall… in the library, at which point he says, “I don’t know why you care. I thought he was a bit of an idiot myself.”
Noah: So… well, obviously, referring to the fact that when they were in Herbology, he had really talked up Lockhart and Ron didn’t… wasn’t okay with that. But here’s our first instance of a little bit of Hufflepuff hate, isn’t it?
Kat: Well, our first one that’s directed towards a student, I think.
Noah: Yeah, but I think Justin Finch-Fletchley is thirty percent of everything we know about Hufflepuffs in Harry Potter.
Kat: Well, that’s true.
Noah: And I was just going to mention: In other news, JK Rowling in her interview said that she was sorted on Pottermore into Gryffindor but said she would have been okay being a Hufflepuff.
Irvin: I know! That made me so happy!
Noah: Isn’t that great?
Kat: Yeah. I have so many friends that hate Hufflepuff and stopped using Pottermore because they were sorted into that house.
Caleb: That’s… yeah, I’ve heard that also. It’s ridiculous.
Irvin: It’s horrible.
Caleb: Get your life together.
Kat: Right. If she created that house, it can’t be all that bad.
Irvin: Half of my friends were very offended when they weren’t sorted into Hufflepuff, actually.
Noah: I remember when I did the Sorting I had this huge identity crisis, and I thought I was going to be a Slytherin or something.
Kat: I remember that.
Caleb: Yeah, it’s a crucial moment in your life, waiting for that screen to come up.
Noah: No, when I was sorted into Hufflepuff I was… it was like, “Okay, okay, I’m a pretty good person. I’m okay with that.”
[Irvin and Noah laugh]
Kat: Well, then you got to choose too, so…
Caleb: Yeah, you were a Hatstall.
Irvin: You were a Hatstall? That is awesome.
Kat: He was.
Noah: I was, I was. It was between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.
Caleb: I think that’s the only Hatstall I’ve heard of people I know, between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.
Kat: No, I met someone at LeakyCon who was Slytherin/Gryffindor.
Caleb: Oh, yeah. That’s what I thought I was going to be, but…
Noah: Because I used to think that Slytherin and Gryffindor had this really tight tie, just by virtue of their ambition…
Noah: …that you were either one of those two, or you were either Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. But that’s really not true. It could be combinations…
Caleb: I wonder if there are… yeah, so I would love to hear people that had a Hatstall between Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Something like that.
Kat: Right, other combinations. Right.
Noah: Yeah, message us… if any people are listening, message us if you were a Hatstall. Let us know your experience and…
Kat: And what common trait you think it is that placed you into both houses.
Caleb: And why you picked the one you did.
Kat: Right, yeah. Good.
Noah: Because there are obviously a lot of connections between all of them.
Noah: So, then we finally get into Professor Binns’ classroom. What’s the… history class?
Irvin and Kat: History of Magic.
Noah: Right, History of Magic. And no one is talking but Hermione actually shoots up her hand because… we’re going to talk about it a little later, but she’s starting to… she’s obviously a little worried about the attack on Muggle-borns, and I think she wants to know about the Chamber of Secrets more than anyone. So, she actually raises her hands and asks Binns about the Chamber of Secrets, at which he responds: “That’s ludicrous, it’s sensational,” the story and the myth of it, though he will talk about it. But I just want to talk about the word “sensational” and how it might work in here because a lot of the Victorian fiction that I know Jo read was… by critics of the time was called sensational because it’s often too physical or too wild or often too sensual, and it wasn’t proper. So, I was wondering maybe… I wonder if she views her own writing as sensational in a way, and what that means, especially considering she’s upset a lot of different groups with her writing especially…
Noah: …far-right Christian groups.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s a really good point, relating it back to Victorian novels, but I wonder though… when she’s writing Chamber of Secrets, do you think she knew it was going to create all the firestorm that it did?
Noah: Didn’t we say it already had to a little degree?
Irvin: Had it?
Caleb: I don’t know. I don’t feel like it did because…
Caleb: It was published not too long after the first book, and it didn’t really start picking up that crazy that early.
Kat: Right, right.
Noah: This might just be her kind of viewing her own writing, though, in a way.
Caleb: But no, yeah, I definitely agree with that. Yeah.
Kat: I see it as a commentary on how old Binns is because how long has he been around teaching?
Irvin: Well, actually…
Kat: When did he die? A long time ago.
Irvin: I wanted to talk about that because if he’s been teaching for over fifty years, shouldn’t he have been there when the Chamber was opened the first time?
Irvin: So, he can’t have been there that long, otherwise that’s just an inconsistency.
Noah: I was thinking that, too.
Noah: He should know better than anybody.
Caleb: Yeah, it doesn’t… yeah, that makes it seem like he hasn’t at least… so he must have started within the last fifty years.
Kat: The Lexicon doesn’t have any information. It just says that he died at an old age.
Caleb: Yeah, I don’t think we really ever get dates for him. Give it to us, Rowling. Give it to us.
Noah: [laughs] Professor Binns, what was he like? Well, pretty much the same as his real life.
Caleb: Yeah, I want to know what his real life was like.
Noah: It sounds like… but the one line that we get in the book, which was that he just woke up in his chair and just went to class as if nothing happened.
Caleb: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Noah: It suggests that he really didn’t change.
Irvin: Well, ghosts don’t change from when they were alive.
Irvin: Hence, Moaning Myrtle remained Moaning Myrtle.
Noah: Right, because their soul carries over.
Kat: I think Binns was probably just stubborn and old in real life, or when he was alive.
Kat: Because we know that ghosts can learn and they can have intelligent thoughts, so…
Noah: So, really nothing changes except you can float around, go through stuff, and not taste and hear. Well, you can still hear.
Kat: And touch things really, yeah.
Noah: That’s interesting. Why aren’t ghosts listening to normal music if they can hear normally?
Kat: Who knows.
Noah: Anyway, questions for our commenters.
Kat: [laughs] Right.
Noah: So, moving along. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide they want to check out the scene of the crime because it’s causing a lot of issues for them, so they end up wandering towards that area and then Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom – a girls’ bathroom – and we run into her, and she says… she’s really upset, and she says, “Peeves upset me so much I tried to kill myself.”
[Irvin and Noah laugh]
Noah: And she couldn’t. So keep in mind, everybody, this is a children’s book, and we have somebody seriously attempting suicide until she realizes. Ron says, ‘Well, you are dead,’ and she says, ‘Yeah, I realized.’ But look at all these moments of dark humor because that is pretty funny, but again it seems to just be there to offset death in a way.
Noah: Which is great. And like I was talking about the fact that we have this persecution theme, almost like the Holocaust, about to gear up because innocent people who are of a different kind and they have… they’re Muggle-born, and I’m going to read that within the lens of being a different race. They’re being persecuted. So, by virtue of the fact that that’s so dark, I think that she had to make these chapters purposefully really light.
Kat: Do you think that there are any purebloods that aren’t against Muggle-borns?
Noah: Well, the Weasleys.
Kat: Well, besides the obvious ones, like…
Noah: The Longbottoms.
Kat: “Do you think there are many?” I guess is what I’m trying to say.
Caleb: I don’t think there would be many who are so strong-willed and vocal about it like the Weasleys are because when it comes down to it, when you do that, you lose clout in the wizarding community, especially if you have any aspirations as far as being political or job in general, or anything like that. So, I don’t think there would be that many.
Noah: Yeah, it’s like politics. There might be a lot of people in the middle, but the loudest voices are the most controversial voices or the people who are so far to the right or left. Those are the voices that mostly get heard. So, I think it’s just a matter of a lot of the pureblood tends to go along with what the highest order of purebloods think or say because they just don’t feel motivated to speak as loudly.
Irvin: And there are plenty of purebloods in the series who do marry Muggle-borns – James Potter, Reg Cattermole, Andromeda Black – so…
Noah: Nice. So, then Percy comes along and he notices Ron, [laughs] and he says, “Ron, that’s a girls’ bathroom!”
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Noah: So, just thinking about that, what could possibly be going through Percy’s mind? He knows that they’re going around because that’s where the Chamber writing was on the wall, but he’s also seeing Ron in a girls’ bathroom. Are we getting a little bit of a gender joke here from Jo?
Kat: Imagine if Harry wasn’t there, and he was just walking out of the bathroom with Hermione. I feel like that would have been…
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Kat: …a pretty obvious clue. But I think this is just Percy’s uptight, don’t-break-the-rules attitude.
Noah: Yeah, I mean…
Kat: He’s just shocked that Ron would ever be in a girls’ bathroom.
Noah: Well, it seems to be more also… because Ron says that they were looking for clues, which sounds pretty ridiculous in a girls’ bathroom.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Caleb: I know that’s where I always go to look for clues.
Noah: Yeah. But then Percy does take five points from Gryffindor, which…
Caleb: Is annoying.
Noah: Isn’t it? [laughs] This is when you really start to hate Percy because we love house points.
Noah: But I guess he just felt like, “I have to follow the order of things.” They’re potentially putting themselves in danger, “I fear for Ron so I’m going to teach him a lesson and take points away from my own house.”
Caleb: Or he just likes to assert his authority because he’s a pinhead.
Noah: Or it’s that. But he could be scared for Ron, too, or just really upset that Ron was in a girls’ bathroom.
Caleb: I think Percy is only looking for himself.
Noah: You think so?
Noah: A lot of people have been saying that Percy is a Slytherin.
Caleb: No, I don’t think he’s a Slytherin.
Noah: Because he’s all about ambition.
Irvin: Doesn’t Dumbledore say that one of the Slytherin traits that Harry has is a certain disregard for the rules? So, I think that excludes Percy.
Noah: Oh! Very good point. I was just saying in terms of his ambition, he wants to be Minister of Magic.
Kat: I don’t know, I think Gryffindors are pretty ambitious.
Kat: I don’t know any that aren’t, so…
Noah: They’re definitely… that’s true. And then we get back to the common room, Hermione has the idea that they’re going to brew Polyjuice Potion to figure out if Malfoy is the one who is the true Heir of Slytherin, and then they realize that… Ron says, “Oh, we need to find [which] professor is thick enough to sign us a book from the Restricted Section.”
Noah: And that’s where the chapter ends, then the next chapter opens with Gilderoy Lockhart. [laughs]
Caleb: Yup. So, Chapter 10, “The Rogue Bludger,” and sure enough, as Noah said, we get an opening with… we’re inside the Defense Against the Dark Arts class and we get a really comical description of what’s been happening in class…
Caleb: …for the past couple of periods, I guess, where Harry basically becomes the class actor. I’m really just interested to get… I wish we could have seen this in the movies or something where Harry has to make a nice, loud howl…
Caleb: …[which] Gilderoy gives him feedback on. Also, a high moan as he’s portraying a werewolf, so I thought that was pretty comical.
Noah: [as Lockhart] “Come on, Harry. A high moan like I’m killing you!”
Noah: [as Lockhart] “Yes! Great!”
Caleb: [as Lockhart] “No, no, higher! Higher!”
Caleb: So, that’s great.
Noah: What are you suggesting, Caleb?
Kat: I don’t think he’s suggesting anything, Noah.
Irvin: Nothing that hasn’t been suggested in fanfiction.
Kat: There you go.
Caleb: Oh… no, I was not going there at all, Noah.
Noah: Oh man. But anyway, for a totally random point that will take us away from that, it’s… there’s a lot of theater here. Isn’t it great that… what’s the name of the actor?
Kat and Irvin: Kenneth Branagh.
Noah: Kenneth Branagh, he’s a Shakespeare guy. He’s a theater buff and he’s…
Noah: What a great choice for him because Gilderoy Lockhart, he’s a theater guy, he’s all about the show.
Caleb: Of course.
Kat: Yeah, this would have been a great scene in the movie.
Caleb: I agree.
Kat: Even a deleted scene, I would have been happy if it had just been filmed so I could watch it later.
Noah: Yeah, well…
Noah: I can’t wait to watch the movie again when we finish the book and then we can look at all the things that they did keep…
Noah: …in terms of his craziness. But I’ve got to say, Lockhart is one of the craziest characters in this book… in the entire series in terms of how off he is, you know?
Irvin: Yeah, I feel like as the series went on, the characters became less like caricatures and more realistic.
Irvin: But this early on, there are definitely some out-there characters.
Kat: Well yeah, it’s because the books grew up and moved out of being strictly for children.
Noah: And as she matured as a writer, and she wanted to talk about these deep…
Kat: As well, right.
Noah: …human connections and stuff.
Caleb: Irvin, do you want to talk about the points you wrote?
Irvin: Yeah. There are actually two things that I found weird in this scene. The first is while they’re talking about the story of how Lockhart defeated the Wagga Wagga Werewolf…
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Kat: Which is the best name ever, just saying.
Noah: [in a silly voice] “Wagga Wagga!”
Irvin: One of the quotes was that he “‘then screwed up my remaining strength and performed the immensely complex Homorphus Charm – he let out a piteous moan – go on, Harry – higher than that – good – the fur vanished – the fangs shrank – and he turned back into a man.'” So, what is this Homorphous Charm that can turn a werewolf back into a man? This doesn’t seem to fit in with anything else in the series because from Book 3 onwards it’s very clear that nothing can change a werewolf back to a man. So, does this…
Noah: Well, does anyone… should we look up the word “homorphus”?
Caleb: I’m looking it up now.
Kat: Maybe it just is something to do with the effects of the…
Noah: The potion?
Kat: Yeah, the Wolfsbane Potion.
Noah: Because if he was going to write this book, it had to have some sort of legitimate tie-in because it sounds like… he’ll later say that he stole a lot of stuff from previously… wizards who had done previously great things and just claimed it for himself.
Kat: Right, so I mean this must have happened…
Kat: …because he’s not creative enough to make it up.
Caleb: Yeah. So, this is the only mention of the Homorphus Charm in the books. The Latin roots of it are pretty basic. “Homo” is, what? It was used for man, and “morph” obviously means to morph or change shape.
Caleb: So, that’s a really basic translation from Latin.
Kat: I wonder if “the werewolf” was a real werewolf or was an Animagi… magi? Whatever.
Irvin: That could be.
Kat: And I guess…
Noah: And that’s the only reason that a spell could work?
Irvin: The only other explanation I can think of is that Jo just hadn’t planned for Lupin to be a werewolf when she wrote this.
Kat: Or she did and she just wasn’t thinking about it.
Noah: Because we don’t see anybody trying to use this complex bit of magic on Lupin when he’s going crazy.
Kat: Right. And she has said that there are things that she would change if she could go back and write the books. So…
Irvin: Right. Yeah, just little things.
Noah: It doesn’t bother me.
Caleb: Well, at the end of class before they go get his permission to get into the Restricted Section, Lockhart announces their homework for the class, which is to write a poem about his defeat of the Wagga Wagga Werewolf…
Caleb: …and I really want our fans to write this poem.
Noah: Yeah, I would love that. If fans want to email us just a quick poem, let’s read them in our comments section on the next episode to start.
Caleb: Yes. Exactly.
Kat: Do we have any requirements for this poem?
Noah: It’s really… I think it should be pretty open.
Caleb: No, let’s be open about it.
Noah: About Lockhart’s defeat of the Wagga Wagga Werewolf.
Kat: Extra points if it rhymes.
Caleb: Yeah, for more cheesiness.
Kat: Right. [laughs]
Irvin: And then there’s another weird moment. So, they ask Lockhart for a note to borrow a book from the Restricted Section, and Hermione says, “It will help me understand what you wrote about in Gadding with Ghouls.” And then there’s a thing where Hermione says, “So clever, the way you trapped that last one with a tea strainer.” How does one trap a ghoul with a tea strainer?
Kat: I don’t know. What exactly is a ghoul? What’s the definition of a ghoul in the books, do we know?
Irvin: Well, isn’t it the thing that lives above Ron’s room in the attic?
Noah: Yeah, yeah.
Irvin: So, ghouls are human sized and… can’t be trapped with a tea strainer.
[Irvin and Noah laugh]
Kat: Maybe it’s a fairy ghoul. Maybe it’s just very tiny.
Noah: Or maybe Lockhart just fixes it on his nose. Just like, “Nyah!”
Irvin: Right. Or maybe Engorgio charm on the tea strainer and just made it like a huge cage.
Noah: That’s more likely.
Caleb: That’s clever. Well, they start to get the note from Lockhart to get permission, but Lockhart brings up the Quidditch match that Harry is about to play against Slytherin. And of course, we learn that Lockhart, did you know, was an amazing Quidditch player himself.
Irvin: Of course!
Caleb: So, I thought that was pretty… I think I kind of read over that the first time and didn’t really appreciate the added-on humor.
Caleb: So now going back, it was enjoyable. And they do get permission from Lockhart which they take to the library, and Madam Pince takes a long time to make sure that the note is valid. I thought it was pretty amusing how she’s scanning it to see if it’s a counterfeit or something. But they get the book from her, Moste Potente Potions, and they start going through the book in Myrtle’s bathroom, which makes me wonder: What other sort of shady stuff has happened in that bathroom in the past fifty years?
Kat: [laughs] Oh my God.
Irvin: Oh dear.
Kat: Lots of make-out sessions, maybe?
Caleb: Well, aside from… yeah, teenagers making out maybe, but what sort of stuff have people… potions they’ve cooked up or whatever else?
Noah: I heard somebody died in there.
Kat: Hmm, I don’t know. I feel like nothing really exciting happened at Hogwarts until Harry got there.
Irvin: Yeah, that’s true.
Caleb: [laughs] What a missed opportunity.
Irvin: I’d really love to see what a regular year at Hogwarts looks like, without Dementors or basilisks or anything. What does a normal year at Hogwarts look like?
Kat: I couldn’t tell you, I never got my letter.
Irvin: Mine got lost in the mail.
Caleb: It’s probably really boring and everyone wants to go home because they’re so unhappy.
Kat: Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.
Noah: That’s so magical. But I think, just as far as that bathroom goes, obviously nobody discovered the Chamber because Myrtle is so whiny and you don’t want to go in there. I’m pretty sure she scared a lot of people away… or not scared them, but annoyed them such that they didn’t want to go in there.
Noah: And for the people that did, they just went in there purely to annoy her, I’m sure.
Kat: Or to cry like Draco did in the sixth book.
Noah: [laughs] Draco.
Irvin: He’s just misunderstood!
Kat: Yeah. And Slytherins, you can send your hate mail to noah at staff dot mugglenet dot com.
Noah: Send it right here.
Irvin: Actually, talk of that book, Moste Potente Potions, I don’t get why the Polyjuice Potion is in there, in the Restricted Section, because there’s a question about it on the OWLs.
Kat: Oh, that’s true.
Noah: Well, they… I mean, Snape already talks about Polyjuice Potion to the second years, right? That’s how Hermione even hears about it.
Noah: So, it sounds like they…
Caleb: Maybe it’s just something like they need to know the basic theory of it but not practically how to actually make it.
Noah: Yeah, it’s probably like a word bank. Like, “What is this potion?”
Noah: “What does it do?”
Noah: We’re not going to have you brew it because that could just lead to some odd transformations among the examiners, but…
Irvin: That makes sense because the exam question was to describe the effects of the potion…
Irvin: …and then in Slughorn’s first class they talk about making it. So, I guess you just do the theory in your first five years.
Noah: Yeah, probably NEWT level you can actually brew these more complex potions that would have dangerous effects.
Kat: Do you think Polyjuice is illegal? Or should be?
Irvin: It should be.
Caleb: Yeah, it makes you wonder if there has to be some sort of approval to use it legally?
Caleb: Which also complicates it even more. There’s a lot of bureaucracy that would be involved in deeming what is legit and not.
Noah: But you’re probably going to get a lot of underground trading of lacewing flies and slugs.
Irvin: Oh, yeah. I bet they use it all the time in Knockturn Alley. Guys, think about it: Polyjuice brothels.
Kat: Okay. [laughs]
Irvin: Yes! Just bring a bit of whoever you want them to turn into and there you go.
Caleb: Oh my God.
Noah: For all commentors on Polyjuice and potential themes that we don’t talk about…
Noah: …in large part on the forums…
Kat: [laughs] Right.
Noah: …you can go to Noah’s Nook where there’s a special thread.
Caleb: You’re not coming into my forum.
Kat: I mean, yeah, I just think that there has to be… I mean, maybe there’s not because… some sort of regulation, but I guess it’s been proven that wizards just really don’t care.
Kat: So… about what is quite…
Noah: But Polyjuice is crazy… I’ll just bring it up, we don’t have to go into depth about it, but another thread in my forum… people were talking about the fact that what if a pregnant mother uses Polyjuice to be somebody else and is… uses it for all those nine months, or you Polyjuice into a pregnant person? So, stuff like that. Very confusing.
Caleb: Oh, dear.
Noah: But yeah…
Kat: I’m just saying, I think if you Polyjuiced into a pregnant person you wouldn’t be pregnant, but the pregnant woman who used Polyjuice would still be pregnant.
Noah: But what happens if you’re still in Polyjuice form when your time comes?
Kat: Well, I still think you’re yourself. I just think it’s your skin that changes.
Noah: No, but your whole body…
Caleb: It’s just a trick of the light.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Noah: But anyway, if you want to discuss any of these interesting topics, head over to the Nook in the forums.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Caleb: Go for it. So, I also thought… going through this… realized how disturbing some of the things in this book are. Well, there’s… it mentions a witch sprouting several extra pairs of arms out of her head, which is kind of weird. We don’t really…
Noah: That’s probably not useful.
Caleb: Right, but the other one is so disturbing the more and more I think about it: a man who seemed to have been turned inside out. Can you just… I don’t even want to…
[Irvin makes a disgusted noise]
Caleb: That’s just… the thought of seeing a picture of someone turned inside out. Oh my gosh.
Kat: There was a cartoon that was on when I was a kid. It was claymation, so it was in the days of Gumby where it was a little boy who was swinging on a swing, and he went so far that when he jumped off he turned inside out.
Caleb: Ugh. Just the thought of that…
Noah: That’s disgusting, Kat.
Caleb: …it makes me hurt everywhere.
Noah: You made Caleb hurt.
Kat: I’m sorry. I apologize.
Caleb: That’s okay. Anyway…
Caleb: …let’s get away from that before I have nightmares.
Caleb: Okay, so they’re talking about the Polyjuice Potion – possibly using it – and Harry and Ron bring up the fact that it’s maybe not the best idea breaking a lot of school rules, but Hermione is very determined to stick with this, and she shuts Harry and Ron up about breaking the rules, and she makes it clear that this is a priority of hers, and it’s something that’s very important. And I’m just wondering if this… the way that she sticks to doing this so much despite the rules that they’ll be breaking, is it her drive… is her drive mostly due to her own fear about what might happen to Mudbloods because of the writing on the wall and, obviously, she’s a Mudblood, so her basically fear of what could happen to herself, or does it stem more from her wanting to do what’s right? Or is it a little bit of both?
Kat: I definitely think it’s her wanting to do something that’s right because…
Kat: …Hermione is insanely brave…
Kat: …and I don’t think that she cares… I mean, obviously she cares about it happening to herself, but I think that she would rather risk something happening to her than letting something happen to everyone else in the castle.
Noah: Right, which we know, but I think she’s also kind of scared because remember when Draco first says “Mudblood” she has no idea what’s going on, but ever since that moment she’s zeroed into it.
Caleb: Yeah, it just seemed to me re-reading it that there’s a certain level of emotion when she’s saying it, almost this anxiety of… I could almost picture her saying, “Guys, this could be me next.” That’s sort of what I envisioned as I was reading it this time.
Noah: I think she is. I mean, Jo could have completely written it that way. She could have had Hermione bursting into tears and saying, “I’m going to be…” especially as people get more and more petrified, she could have been breaking down and being like, “I’ve only been part of this community for two years. I’m scared to death that I’m going to be killed or worse,” but that doesn’t happen because this is a children’s book.
Noah: But… and yet, that stuff is at stake.
Kat: I don’t know. I don’t see her being all that worried about it. She’s a pretty capable witch and… I don’t know, I just see her bravery winning over her fear.
Irvin: Yeah. Hermione isn’t much of a worrier in the first few books.
Noah: Well, here’s my… here’s a paragraph that made me think it might be fear on her end. This is on page 146. “The attack had also had an effect on Hermione.” The attack on Mrs. Norris. “It was quite usual for Hermione to spend a lot of time reading, but she was now doing almost nothing else. Nor could Harry and Ron get much response from her when they asked what she was up to, and not until the following Wednesday did they find out.” So that line there, it’s kind of shielded. You can’t… it’s veiled. But the fact that she’s not really giving a response… I think she’s really scared there.
Irvin: I disagree. I think that’s just a Hermione-ism that she doesn’t let Harry and Ron in on her plans until she’s confident in them. I mean, she does the same thing with Rita Skeeter in Order of the Phoenix, and…
Irvin: …I think with SPEW she might have done the same thing. She’s always just like, “I’m off to the library! And once I have everything together, then I’ll tell you.”
Kat: Yeah, I agree completely.
Noah: But just the line that “it was quite usual for Hermione to spend a lot of time reading, but she was now doing almost nothing else,” that shows that this is slightly… there’s something unusual going on here, and I think it’s because of her personal connection to it.
Irvin: All right.
Noah: But yeah, just something… just me zeroing in on the language.
Caleb: All right, well, they get to the… right before the Quidditch match is about to start, and I guess it’s breakfast before, and Wood is talking to the team… or I guess it’s… yeah, just before the match. He’s talking to the team about how they have such a great team, they’ve worked so hard, and they can definitely pull off this match even though the Slytherins have these amazing brooms that Malfoy bought the team to get himself on the team, [laughs] and I thought… I was pretty amused by Wood saying, “Get to that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Harry, because we’ve got to win today.”
Caleb: It’s like, “Wood, way too intense, man. You’ve got to chill out on that.” But it is kind of funny because it’s foreshadowing, because he kind of almost does die because we get a rogue Bludger as soon as the match starts. The Bludger is coming after Harry like crazy. Fred and George try to knock it away, but it’s like a magnet and it just comes straight back for Harry.
Irvin: Well, my question for all this is that… so the Bludger tries to kill Harry, and then Wood calls a time-out because they’re getting beaten by Slytherin really badly. And… so then, what is the Bludger doing during this time-out? Because, according to the jinx, it should just be trying to kill Harry, even while they’re in time-out, but if that happened surely someone would notice it. So, why would it stop attacking Harry during time-out? My theory is that Dobby was watching the match, probably somewhere under the stands, and monitoring the Bludger to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Noah: Yeah, I’m sure. I mean, he needed it to hurt Harry enough that he could leave Hogwarts. So, if it had continued to get him, then everyone would realize that something was up. I don’t know why Madame Hooch didn’t realize something was up anyway, or other people in the audience, but…
Caleb: She’s probably so confident that she secludes the four balls enough to… that nothing should happen, so she’s probably just confident in the system that there shouldn’t be anything wrong.
Irvin: She also doesn’t stop Quidditch for anything. In Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry’s broom is trying to throw him off, they keep on playing anyway.
Irvin: That’s just Quidditch.
Noah: It’s like this old legacy of do whatever… rain or sleet or attacking Bludger will not stop Quidditch.
Irvin: That is so true.
Caleb: I also really liked, in the time-out, how George pretty much gets angry with Wood for the “die trying” comment that Wood makes earlier because Harry keeps telling the team, “No, Fred and George, just ignore the Bludger. It’s going to come at me, but I’ll deal with it. You’ve got to stick with the rest of the team,” and then George gets really upset because he obviously doesn’t want Harry to be putting himself in that situation, and I just thought it was really cool to see a single Weasley twin, George, not being a joker in the moment but actually showing passion for Harry, wanting to keep him safe.
Kat: Yeah, I definitely think he gets that from his mother.
Kat: For sure.
Irvin: And you can see that throughout the series that George is shown to be the more caring of the Weasley twins. He’s much more concerned with the well-being of his family, and I guess Harry is part of his family now, whereas Fred has the slightly nastier sense of humor. I mean, for example, in the previous chapter, “The Writing on the Wall,” there is a thing about how Fred turned Ron’s teddy bear into a giant spider when Ron was three…
Irvin: …which is just horrible. Absolutely horrible.
Kat: Oh yeah, no wonder he doesn’t like spiders. [laughs]
Caleb: Yeah. So, they get back to the match and Harry is out on his own, dodging the Bludger left and right, and he finally spots the Snitch and it’s hovering just above Malfoy, while Malfoy is, I think, asking him if he’s going to try out for the ballet or something.
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Caleb: So, he stayed still way too long, and the Bludger knocks the crap out of his elbow and breaks his arm, and… but he still manages to eventually catch the Snitch, and… so I’m just thinking, “Man, talk about playing through the pain.” He’s got a broken arm trying to balance himself on a broom, the Bludger is probably still coming at him because it wants more, but he still is able to catch the Snitch.
Irvin: I mean, that’s what Quidditch is, both in the books and in real life. I have seen people with broken arms and injured everything still playing. I mean…
Irvin: …I got internal bruising on my knee at Wednesday’s practice and kept on going. It’s just what you do.
Noah: Yup, even with my Quidditch team that I’m trying to start, which is not quite getting off the ground just yet…
Caleb: It’ll get there.
Noah: It’s doing okay, but it can get pretty brutal. Amanda, who was on the last podcast, is on our team, and she is one of our best.
Caleb: Well, and so Harry, after he… I guess he falls off his broom – I guess it’s not a very high fall because it doesn’t really hurt him any further – but while he’s sort of… after he comes out of his stupor, Lockhart is the first person he sees, [laughs] and his first words are, “Oh no, not you.”
[Irvin and Kat laugh]
Irvin: I think he speaks for all of us.
Caleb: Yeah, justifiably so. And Lockhart, wanting to save the day, per the ushe, decides to not really fix Harry’s arm, or I guess he tries to, but he just sort of makes all the bones disappear, none of the bones left. And this part makes me so angry every time I read it because what a dumbass. [laughs] Just how does he manage to do something so terrible? It’s one thing to not repair the broken arm correctly, but he deletes the bones from his arm.
Kat: I forget, does it say the spell in the book?
Caleb: No, not in the book.
Irvin: I don’t think so, no.
Kat: Not in the book. I didn’t think.
Caleb: He says something in the movie, right?
Caleb: Yeah. But fortunately for Harry, Poppy Pomfrey, Madam Pomfrey, is able to save the day.
Caleb: I thought it was really interesting how… just the way this Skele-Gro works, this thing that can regrow bones, because there is some cool implications how science and medicine and magic are sort of working together here. It makes me wonder, is it regenerating cells for bone growth? Are they creating new stem cells that will eventually develop into bone cells? The science nerd in me is going crazy at this now.
Kat: I wonder if it just speeds up our natural… you know when you break a bone how it just naturally mends itself? I wonder if there’s something in this Skele-Gro that enhances that and allows the bones to be regrown or… because, I mean, it also mends bones, right? So…
Irvin: I don’t think she uses it to mend bones. She just does that with magic or whatever.
Irvin: I think this is specifically to re-grow them.
Noah: Yeah, I mean it’s possible that maybe some imprint on Harry’s DNA interacts with the solution, and the combination of magic knows that this is what Harry’s bone structure should look like, and it sees… it looks at the DNA, and it’s like this, and then Harry’s bones just grow naturally to fit in every direction this… that plan in his DNA.
Caleb: It also makes me wonder how things… so we obviously have the FDA to approve drugs over the counter and prescription drugs in America… if there is any sort of research and testing body in the wizarding world for things like Skele-Gro for products because I can’t imagine someone just whips it up and be like, “Hey, let’s try this and see if it works.”
Irvin: Probably something with the Ministry.
Noah: Well, I’m sure a lot of them were…
Caleb: Yeah. I’m sure.
Noah: They might have all been original household solutions that just kind of got passed down by the ages and then eventually were marketed by those original families.
Irvin: I mean, we know the Ministry has to approve new spells because there is a department on experimental charms, and Hermione doesn’t approve of the Half-Blood Prince because the spells aren’t Ministry-approved, so there’s probably a similar thing with potions.
Kat: And I’m wondering, how often are bones kind of vanished that they need a product like this?
Caleb: Yeah, I can’t imagine it would be too often. It seems like it would more be someone cursing someone…
Caleb: …than Lockhart’s idiotic methods.
Noah: Unless he goes around and does this to a lot of people.
[Caleb and Irvin laugh]
Caleb: Which is possible.
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Caleb: Yeah. Well, when Harry… he has to stay the night because this is going to be a grueling and long process of growing the bones, and he wakes up in the middle of the night because he feels someone dabbing at his forehead, and, lo and behold, here’s Dobby out of nowhere. We haven’t seen him in a long time, but then we find out that he’s actually the one that sealed off Platform 9 3/4, and he messed with the Bludger. So, it’s some pretty impressive house-elf magic going on here, but how annoying for Harry that this little creature is making his life so hard. And I was thinking about how Dobby, at the very end of his long rant, he lets slip about the Chamber of Secrets, and he immediately knows he shouldn’t have because he freaks out about it. And I have to wonder why Harry doesn’t immediately realize there must be some sort of connection because he should know that… well, I guess… oh, now I realize why. Because Harry doesn’t know that Dobby belongs… wait, no… does he know that he belongs to the Malfoys? I can’t remember.
Kat: No, not yet.
Caleb: Okay, so that’s why. That was my question because I forget at this point Harry still doesn’t know.
Kat: Yeah, but there could… there should be a connection because if we assume that Malfoy is the only one who knows anything about the Chamber, and Dobby does as well, he… there could be a connection there.
Caleb: Yeah, because he’s already starting to suspect Malfoy.
Caleb: So, I guess I’m more surprised that he doesn’t try to use that to bolster his theory.
Noah: Well, he should be going at Dobby more just because he… Dobby somehow knew it was going to happen before it did, so that should be evidence enough for him to interrogate, but I think he’s just in so much pain and is so angry that he’s not thinking clearly.
Caleb: That’s true.
Caleb: Well, Dobby disappears because in comes Professor Dumbledore and McGonagall, and they show up with a petrified Colin Creevy. So, that’s super sad because now Harry will no longer have his fanboy following him around.
Caleb: But I think it’s a really cool scene with the camera because it kind of… when I read it the first time it made me wonder, why is he getting petrified looking through a camera? Does it have anything to do with it? I definitely started to break this down and see what that meant then. I had no idea.
Noah: He was just trying to take a picture.
Kat: And I just want to say that Dumbledore has obviously never taken a photography class because if he wanted to look at the picture he shouldn’t have opened the back of the camera.
Irvin: That’s also true.
Kat: Just saying. [laughs]
Kat: Well yeah, because the film is exposed in the back of the camera.
Caleb: Yeah, once you expose it, it’s ruined.
Irvin: Maybe it’s magical film.
Kat: Yeah, but still…
Caleb: Well, but Colin is… he’s a Muggle. Muggle-born, so…
Noah: Good point, Kat.
Caleb: So, I also thought it was interesting, this quote that I never really paid more attention to on a deeper level where Dumbledore is talking about… he says that the Chamber of Secrets is open. He believes that has happened, and he says, “The question is not who, the question is how.” So, that makes it pretty clear that Dumbledore must know who opened it, or at least have a good idea of who opened it the first time. But he wants to know how, so I started wondering, what is Dumbledore’s knowledge about the Chamber’s monster at this point? He was around when Myrtle was killed, but did they ever really theorize as to what killed her back then?
Kat: Yeah, I never thought about that. I mean, Dumbledore is pretty smart. He should have some sort of idea.
Irvin: I mean…
Noah: I think he does, he’s a pretty smart man.
Caleb: Yeah. And so, that sort of… I thought the same thing and that led me to the question: Does the petrification give Dumbledore an idea that it’s a basilisk, specifically? Because this is the first time he’s seen someone petrified because of this monster, because the first time it was just… wasn’t it just Myrtle being killed? That was the only victim?
Kat: Right, yeah.
Irvin: Does it say that? Or…
Kat: Yeah, she was definitely the only victim.
Irvin: Yeah, but I don’t think it says whether other kids were petrified or not.
Caleb: See, I couldn’t remember a specific mentioning, but I felt like if it had happened they would have said, “Oh, this is happening over again.” But they never really mention it, so I was led to believe that it had not happened before. But still the question remains: Does that petrification give Dumbledore an idea that this indirect seeing the basilisk is what is leading to them to being petrified?
Irvin: Mhm. I mean…
Kat: Well, what happened… and don’t forget after Myrtle died they closed the school, so…
Caleb: Right, that’s true.
Irvin: You can definitely rule out Aragog, though, because there is just no way that Aragog could have killed Myrtle…
Irvin: …because Aragog’s only way of killing is to eat the victims.
Caleb: So, that makes me wonder why Dumbledore didn’t use that same evidence and that same reasoning to basically exonerate Hagrid so he wouldn’t have been expelled. And it makes me… I don’t know, I feel like he should have… he had the evidence to stick up for Hagrid so that he wouldn’t have taken the fall.
Irvin: I think he tried…
Kat: Maybe it was… yeah, or it was his selfishness. I mean, he was young at that point and he was kind of still up and coming, so maybe he didn’t want to kind of…
Caleb: And also if he had any ideas about what was actually going on, maybe… this would show one of the worst qualities in Dumbledore, but…
Caleb: …he’s sort of letting Hagrid take the fall so no one else really knows the true horror of what’s going on.
Irvin: I disagree, I don’t think Dumbledore would do that. I think Dumbledore probably tried to exonerate Hagrid, but either Armando Dippet or whoever was the Minister just didn’t believe him, and that’s why Dumbledore let Hagrid stay on as gamekeeper.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s true.
Kat: And it was more the fact that once they got Hagrid out of the school, they could re-open it. It never actually ended up closing, so they expelled Hagrid and the school remained open. So, I think maybe all the angry parents and stuff probably had more of a pull than Dumbledore.
Caleb: That’s true. That’s true.
Noah: Yeah, I believe that’s right. But hey, we know that Dumbledore knows it was Voldemort.
Irvin: Yeah, true.
Irvin: And my thing is that the next line is that, “And from what Harry could see of Professor McGonagall’s shadowy face, she didn’t understand this any better than he did,” and I disagree because Jo said in an interview that McGonagall’s age was 70 after Goblet of Fire, which would make her in the year ahead of Tom Riddle when they went to Hogwarts. So, she would have been in her sixth year when the Chamber was opened, so she actually is probably trying to understand what Dumbledore means, and how either Hagrid or Tom Riddle, whoever she believes, could be opening the Chamber again. So, there’s more than meets the eye there.
Caleb: Hmm, yeah.
Kat: And speaking of hidden chambers and such, we’re going to move on to the special feature for this week.
[“Trelawney’s Seeing Glass” intro begins]
Announcer: Trelawney’s Seeing Glass.
Sibyll Trelawney: And now, class. Please direct your gaze to the crystal balls you see in front of you, and begin your…
[Sound of glass breaking]
Trelawney: Mr. Weasley! What have you done?
Ron Weasley: I saw myself breaking my crystal ball, professor. Who am I to deny fate?
[“Trelawney’s Seeing Glass” intro ends]
Kat: It’s where we talk about contemplations about Harry Potter beyond the book series and the canon, and this week we’re going to talk about hidden chambers. So, just a little bit of history here: Hidden chambers have been noted and talked about in history and literature for many years. The story of Bluebeard – who was kind of a nobleman, I believe – who had a hidden chamber in his basement where he used to murder his wives, and then there’s a story of Prince Agib of the Arabian Nights and he had a hundred keys to a hundred doors but he was forbidden to enter the golden door, and this was seen as more of a test than a warning. And this kind of reminded me of the trapdoor in the first book. You know how we’ve talked about how that was kind of a test for Harry?
Kat: Yeah, so… and it is also believed that there are some hidden chambers under the Sphinx in Egypt. One of the rooms is called the Hall of Records. It is said to contain ancient knowledge of the Egyptian race and also scrolls pertaining to the lost continent of Atlantis. Radar has been used and it does show rooms under the monument, but none have yet to be found.
Noah: Well, that sounds more like the Hall of Prophecies in the Department of Mysteries.
Kat: It does, that’s true.
Kat: That’s definitely…
Kat: Go ahead.
Irvin: I wonder what the wizarding version of the lost continent of Atlantis is because I’m sure that there’s some wizarding explanation for it, and I’m really curious to see what Jo comes up with.
Noah: Just some wizards that messed up pretty bad.
Kat: The ghost world.
Irvin: [laughs] Maybe Atlantis is the secret ghost society.
Noah: Guys, that’s impossible. I’m sorry.
Noah: I have to come [off] on this crazy theory. That is ridiculous.
Kat: Nothing is impossible, Noah.
Irvin: Yeah. Prove that it doesn’t exist.
Noah: You know I can’t do that.
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Kat: Okay. And then obviously it has been told through first hand experiences, journals, and historic accounts that there were secret rooms and passageways that were used during the Holocaust, Prohibition, and even during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when practicing Catholicism was illegal and priests were hidden in secret rooms called priest holes, actually, so they weren’t found during raids. I don’t know, that kind of sounds like something that may be done with house-elves to me. Hide the house-elves.
Kat: But, of course, not all hidden rooms and chambers hold terrible things. There is actually a library in a monastery in France that houses ancient writings and books. Some of the books started disappearing around 2003 and upon installing a security camera, they found that a local teacher had discovered the secret room and was hoarding the books for himself. It was believed that the room or passageway was originally built for senior monks to spy on their younger counterparts.
Kat: I don’t know, that sounds like something that could be at Hogwarts.
Caleb: Yeah. It makes me think of V for Vendetta, if you guys have ever seen that movie.
Kat: The what?
Caleb: V for Vendetta. It’s my favorite movie.
Irvin: Nope, haven’t seen it.
Noah: I’ve seen part of it.
Kat: Is that the Natalie Portman one?
Caleb: Yeah, Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, yeah.
Noah: It’s some kind of anti-political movie, is that right? It’s just like…
Caleb: Yeah. It’s political commentary, for sure.
Kat: So, I was wondering, given all of this and everything we know about secret passages, and at this point in the book there are rumors of one being at Hogwarts and it pertains to Slytherin, do we think it’s possible that any of the other founders had their own secret chambers? And if so, where would they be and what would they contain?
Caleb: Yeah, I don’t know if they would, but it would be interesting to sort of think about what they would contain if they did.
Caleb: It seems like…
Noah: I don’t think they felt the need to.
Caleb: Yeah, it seems like Godric has all these special relics and everything, but they’re already out in the open because they have… he has certain ways of making sure they fall only in the right hands. Like his sword, things like that.
Kat: So, maybe his hidden chamber is a room full of gold and secret relics and things of that nature.
Caleb: Yeah, maybe.
Irvin: Well, Ravenclaw’s secret chamber would just be a library.
Kat: Maybe it’s that library at the monastery in France.
Irvin: Maybe that’s it.
Caleb: Yeah, there we go.
Kat: Maybe all those books are hers.
Noah: But I’m thinking more about Slytherin’s chamber. Why does he have one, and what would he do in it besides just housing the Basilisk in it? And how come nobody noticed? What was his excuse?
Irvin: Well, didn’t he build that just before he left Hogwarts? So, I think the only purpose was to house the Basilisk.
Noah: With the intention of having it come and kill all the Muggle-born students?
Noah: Led by someone who had a similar agenda.
Irvin: By his own true heir.
Noah: Yeah. But as far as chambers go, I have another point to throw into the mix. The idea that he has a secret chamber that is different from everybody else and he kind of withdraws into it… I couldn’t help but read it in the lens of sexual identity.
[Caleb and Noah laugh]
Kat: Oh, of course. I mean, totally. That makes total sense. Please…
Noah: No, but just…
Kat: Elaborate, please.
Noah: Let me just… I’m going to play with it a little bit. So, imagine he has this secret chamber that is all for his own, and he doesn’t tell anybody about it, and in it it has these dark tunnels of… it reveals kind of his true character, so… and it’s kind of his secret place. Like, only he can go there and only people within his line. So, by playing with that, I thought it kind of made him a bit more feminine. If he had a chamber and the chamber was the symbolic representation of his body. So, then he has a basilisk in there, which is this huge phallic thing…
Noah: …and it’s kind of in a race between Gryffindor’s sword and his kind of phallus, and therefore they’re both competing with their different versions of patriarchy and their different visions of masculinity, maybe. So, whereas Slytherin feels like he has to withdraw into this secret chamber, potentially feminine placement of the snake, kind of Garden of Eve a little bit. You have Gryffindor with the sword, promise and virtue, and eventually Harry is going to cut the Basilisk’s head off with the sword. These clashing masculinities. And it’s just… the reason that I bring it to sexual identity is the fact that chambers in literary theory… just going back all the way to Paradise Lost, these big voids, and stuff? These are cavernous places that the hero characters often thrust themselves into, and all that’s been analyzed over the centuries as, “Okay, there’s a sexual metaphor going on.” So, I’m just saying I don’t think Jo would have been… she wouldn’t not know about the kind of metaphors that go along with chambers. And I don’t think it’s random that there are a lot of jokes out there about “Oh, the Chamber of Secrets. I’m going to bring you into my Chamber of Secrets.” There are a lot of jokes out there, but I think it has its roots in this actual thing going back and forth. So, I don’t know if what I said actually makes sense, but maybe it did to any one of our listeners, so maybe just something you want to talk about.
Kat: Well, I…
Noah: Do you guys have any thoughts about it?
Kat: Yeah. Well, if you’re talking about the jokes like, “Let me bring you into my Chamber of Secrets,” I don’t see that as being feminine then. I think that contradicts everything you just said. I feel like that would be a male joke.
Noah: Well, only a female could say that.
Kat: No, I would see that far more as a male joke. As a male saying…
Irvin: Why would a guy want to bring you into his “Chamber of Secrets”? Aren’t girls the ones with chambers?
Kat: It kind of sounds like a dirty S&M room to me. Just saying. “Chamber of Secrets.”
Noah: No, but I was saying it was symbolic of a certain body part that only a woman would have.
Kat: Maybe, I don’t know.
Noah: Again, it’s kind of just an abstract connection, but if we’re going to talk about chambers, especially in Victorian fiction where you go there and there’s a lot of… it’s crazy, it’s hectic, and male characters are going to boldly go into that.
Kat: But most of those chambers were owned by men.
Noah: Exactly, which I think is kind of interesting and weird, and as we know… if we want to talk about combating masculinities between Slytherin and Gryffindor because they each had different views for what the whole of Hogwarts should be, and they both had these giant phallic symbols… I don’t know, it seems to be at odds with each other. And the fact that Slytherin has a chamber is interesting, and the fact that snakes forever will always be tied to Eve, it seems to link him with some sort of feminine hierarchy or something.
Kat: Hmm. I don’t know about that, but I didn’t buy into your “Snitch is female” either, so…
Caleb: I definitely see the competing masculinity argument you made. I definitely agree with that. And I think it is interesting, how that sort of battle is decided, sword and snake, but…
Noah: Yeah. So, maybe those are two different arguments coming in. But here’s my little Freudian slip coming in, “Is this happening, and maybe not, but interesting to think about” moment.
Kat: Sure, but I was just thinking about… in the context of the book, the Chamber is owned by a man and a woman is brought in, so it’s the opposite of what you’re saying.
Noah: Yeah. So, I’ve got to think about that for a while…
Kat: Right. [laughs]
Noah: …but I feel like in terms of Voldemort, I feel like his gender is always called into question. I think that happens for a lot of Slytherins, so I just brought it back to Salazar because… it’s not necessarily here, but I feel like Voldemort is always being questioned if he’s more or less of a man, and by killing he’s trying to get it back, but he’s losing part of his soul, and Harry triumphs as this better version of it. But then we’re going in a lot of different gender-reading discussions, and I’ve not looked at all of these different sections. I’m just thinking in terms of chambers, but maybe that’s not all applicable just yet. But it’s something to think about as we move forward, maybe.
Noah: So, today’s podcast question of the week is going to be all about Skele-Gro. So, as Caleb was saying, very quirky, interesting potion that is able to regrow all of Harry’s bones even though they were removed by Lockhart. So, our question is about: How does this potion work? I mean, we remember that quote from Draco back in Goblet of Fire where he says Hagrid probably just drank too much Skele-Gro and that’s why he’s too big. But what do you think are the limitations of the potion, and maybe other potions that have the ability of regenerating the body such as Skele-Gro works? Does it have something to do with the DNA, or does it have some intelligence or active part on its own, such that it can help Harry in just the way that he needs? How do you think in terms of magical medicine this might expand to all of that field? How does Skele-Gro reveal how magical medicine works? Leave your comments on the Alohomora! website and we’ll read them on the next episode of the show.
Caleb: Yeah, I’m definitely excited to read some of those comments, so definitely send those in. But we just want to take the time now to thank Irvin for joining us on the show. It’s definitely been a pleasure having you on board. You brought a lot of awesome insights. So, thanks for helping out.
Irvin: Yeah thanks, I was glad to be here. This was fun.
Noah: Yeah thanks, Irvin. And everybody, you can check out his essays, his controversial editorials, on MuggleNet in the Editorials section. He has his own place called The Three Broomsticks where you can pull over a chair, grab a Butterbeer, and chat Harry Potter with him.
Noah: So, if you really like Alohomora! and you want to be on the show like Irvin, all you have to do is submit content to the website or we watch people, ones who make forum comments, and if you’re really great we’d like to invite you on the show. The best way if you really want to be on an episode is to email a clip to us at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com, just a clip of you analyzing the book series. It’s really important that you have appropriate audio equipment so that we know that when you’re ready to be on the show, you’re going to sound great. Like we do.
Kat: And if in the meantime, you just want to keep in touch with us, you can follow us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN or on Facebook at Facebook.com/OpenTheDumbledore. For those of you on Tumblr, we are at MNAlohomora.Tumblr.com. And don’t forget about our phone number. We get a lot of great voicemails from you guys, so keep them coming. You can reach us at 206-GO-ALBUS. That’s 206-462-5287. And you can also find us on our main page at Alohomora.MuggleNet.com. And just one final reminder: We have just a couple of T-shirts left. We literally have two shirts left: one small and one large. And if you want some details on purchasing those, you can send us an email at alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com.
Caleb: Also, be sure to check out our smartphone app, which is available in the US for the iPhone and the Android, and in the UK it’s available on the iPhone. And it’s $1.99 in the US and 99p in the UK. You’ll see a lot of awesome things on this app, such as interviews with Mark Oshiro, Hank Green, Lev Grossman, and the wonderful MinaLima. Also, transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and much more. Also, be sure to check out our promotional video which we’ll stick in the show notes, and check out this awesome app.
Noah: Don’t forget, you can also subscribe to us on iTunes and leave us a review for our listeners there because if you like the show, they’re going to see that first and it’s a great way to spread the word about our great re-read that we’re trying to undertake.
Kat: And just to remind everyone, we are now offering low bandwidth versions of the show exclusively on our archives at Alohomora.MuggleNet.com, and that is starting with our first Chamber of Secrets episode which is Episode 10. It’s not currently available on iTunes, so if you want the low bandwidth, head over to the website to download them directly to your computer.
Noah: Also, we wanted to announce something real quick. A few days ago – when you’re listening to this, it will be a few days ago – we announced a global competition to create the best deskpig because we’d like to offer a new line of shirts and merchandise bringing the deskpig, because nobody wants the deskpig to go away! So, if you’re interested in that, send your deskpig attachment to alohomorapodcast at gmail dot com and you could have your logo on a shirt. And when you give that to us, we’ll give you a shirt.
Kat: And head over to Alohomora.MuggleNet.com for the exact rules for that competition.
Caleb: Well, that about does it for us this week.
[Show music begins]
Caleb: So, to kick it out, I’m Caleb Graves.
Noah: I’m Noah Fried.
Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 14 of Alohomora!.
Noah: Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]
Noah: Finding it. Scrolling through my iPad.
Kat: Mine just died or I would help, sorry.
Noah: Your iPad died?
Caleb: Did it become a ghost?
Noah: Is a ghost using it somewhere?
Kat: It might have, yup. It’s possible.
Noah: I love that theory. I thought that was pretty good.
[Kat and Noah laugh]
Noah: Hold on one second, I have to tell my brother to shut up.
Noah: Hold on one second, guys.
Kat: Hurry up!
Noah: I will hurry up.
Kat: We’re only, like, half an hour in of a two-hour show, so…
Irvin: Wow, really?
Caleb: I don’t know if we’re going to finish this by four. Well, we may.
Caleb: Our chapter notes aren’t super long, I don’t think.
Noah: Sorry about that, it was my brother and his girlfriend.
Noah: And I walked in on…
Caleb: Uh-uh. No, we’re not talking about that. Moving on.
Kat: Yeah. Continue with your notes, Noah.
Kat: You’re right here.
Noah: Got it. [laughs] Okay.