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A Very Harry Potter Miscellany

The delay in the existing Chamber of Secrets coverage is almost 100% due to me procrastinating about getting the new death counter sorted out. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer. In the meantime, here are some random little Harry Potter related asides and conversations – none of them justify posts to themselves.


Point the first: Dumbledore is actually the head of the Klan.

This is the post that triggered this conversation:
https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/09/21/there-must-be-a-word-for-making-a-fool-of-yourself-to-get-attention/
(Someone on Twitter arguing that yes, the KKK are awful, but their titles are pretty cool-sounding e.g. Grand Wizard.)

[Strictly speaking this isn’t just a random someone, it’s James Damore, better known as the former Google employee who wrote the awful manifesto claiming race and gender imbalances in hiring are justified by the facts because women and nonwhites are just so stupid, and how oppressed he felt for not being allowed to say so. He’s not exactly a neutral party here, and one questions how genuine his ‘yes the KKK are awful but’ is. Nevertheless.]

And from there it proceeded in an entirely logical and sane fashion, as one would naturally expect from your favourite bloggers…

Loten: Also, Grand Wizard = Chief Warlock?
Mitchell: Oh god
Loten: And of course they already have the pointy hats
Mitchell: Didn’t his bio also include ‘Grand Sorceror’
Mitchell: I remember checking to see if it had become Philosopher ;P
Loten: Yes, yes it did
Mitchell: …And his name is literally White
Mitchell: Oh my god
Loten: Also his backstory is that he is a racist.

Compelling evidence, I’m sure you’ll agree.

[More concisely: he is White Bumblebee, the Chief Warlock and Grand Sorceror and Supreme Mugwump (it’s like someone threw Grand Wizard into a thesaurus program!) and his backstory is that his ex-boyfriend was literally Wizard Hitler.]


Point the second: Rowling is probably a fan of Ayn Rand.

A brave soul named Adam Lee has been sporking Ayn Rand’s more notable works on his blog over at Patheos. He’s currently working through The Fountainhead, and a paragraph of this post jumped out at me.

But while Rand could make her protagonists either loved or hated, she couldn’t stand to depict them as unimportant. Whether for good or for ill, she just had to script a world where everyone’s got an opinion about what the heroes are doing.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Everyone either worships or despises Harry. Nobody sees him as unimportant and he is deeply relevant to everyone’s lives, to the point where he is almost the only celebrity in a world that doesn’t have a celebrity culture.

[In fairness, this is a criticism that could be made of a lot of fictional characters, and might be a good test for identifying when using the term ‘Mary Sue’ is appropriate; it’s not isolated to either of these particular authors by any means. Still, it’s a fantastic way of articulating this problem and you cannot argue that it doesn’t apply. (Also, Adam Lee’s Rand series comes strongly recommended by me, go look it up if you enjoy that sort of thing.)]


Point the third: Rowling may be a bigger Roald Dahl fan than we previously thought.

A little while ago Amazon had a number of Roald Dahl Kindle editions on sale, so I picked up a few. And while I was enjoying revisiting my childhood, I happened to notice the plot synopsis for James and the Giant Peach:

James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. He’s very lonely until one day something peculiar happens…

I’m sure everyone can see my point immediately, but allow me to change four words and slightly adjust the protagonist’s name anyway.

Harry James Potter lives with two ghastly people. Uncle Vernon is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Petunia is bony and screeching. He’s very lonely until one day something peculiar happens…

(Yes, I know his name isn’t a perfect match. But Harry’s been a legitimate nickname for Henry for centuries, so nyeh.)

Obviously, it isn’t deliberate. Plagiarism is important and people pay attention to it, and something this blatant would never be overlooked. [We hope.] But it’s a hell of a coincidence, isn’t it? We’ve been drawing parallels with Dahl’s work for a while without realising just how strong the link is. I wonder if Rowling herself knows…

[Honestly, I would suspect that she doesn’t. There’s an extent to which this is just a Stock Children’s Book Plot, so it may not be that surprising that the parallels are there (if you elide enough details in a summary you can make most stories sound vaguely similar; people like Joseph Campbell have based entire careers on doing so). But regardless, we still found it striking.]


Point the fourth: in which we are disappointed by a fandom thing, quelle surprise

[A little while ago, we came across a few discussions of a fan-made Harry Potter Cards Against Humanity set, ‘creatively’ titled Cards Against Muggles. The card combinations shown in that article could be interpreted as critical of the series, so we thought it might have been something that would interest us and make for amusing jokes at the expense of the books, and looked into it enough to acquire and read through the list of cards. We were wrong.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’d forgotten how stupid and unfunny the vast majority of Cards Against Humanity itself is, or if adding Harry Potter content just highlights the worst flaws of the original game, but at best it doesn’t work well and at worst it’s even stupider than the original. Far too many of the cards are just copies of things from the original with a Potterverse word stuck in, or just take the format $HPCharacterName’s $SexOrgan, etc etc. There isn’t even much opportunity to use it to make subversive commentary at the expense of the game’s intent, like there is with the original (I’m not going to defend CAH or encourage anyone to play it, it’s honestly vile garbage, but it’s theoretically possible to make it a decent experience if the people you’re playing with aren’t arseholes. I don’t think that’s true of the HP version).

Needless to say, the best I can say of this effort is that it’s a bit of a damp squib. And at its worst it’s just stupidly offensive and vulgar for the sake of being so, just like the original.

That said, it amused me that they couldn’t even get the parts of speech right between the two types of cards, such that “There’s no need to call me ‘There’s no need to call me sir, Professor’, Professor” is a completely valid play.]

Mitchell wrote this last one because I’d honestly forgotten this even existed, we found it a while ago. Oops.


Yes, this is more or less how our thought processes actually work. It explains a lot, doesn’t it. Hopefully regular content will resume at some point relatively soon. I might also be starting a new thing in the New Year. We’ll see.

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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in loten, mitchell

 

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Strike: The Silkworm (BBC adaptation) Part Two

Part two. At some point my commentary is probably going to dry up, because as you all know I never finished the book in detail so I won’t be able to judge how closely the show is following most of the ending. We’ll see how it goes. Also this is later than I had planned to do it because I have no motivation for this – it’s not awful the way the book was, just really, really dull.

As it turns out I was able to keep commenting until the end, since they cut just about everything that happened after I ragequit. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in loten

 

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Strike: The Silkworm (BBC adaptation) Part One

This trainwreck just will not stop. Despite how much I disliked Cuckoo, I’m continuing into Silkworm. But with a heavy caveat – I loathed the book. You all know I loathed the book. I loathed it enough to quit half way through my coverage of it for you all.

moth

I’ve tried several times to sit down and start going through this episode and I just plain don’t want to. It’s not going to be fun. So I did some thinking; by the time I did the book I was a lot better at this sort of thing than some of my earlier series here, so we already have a detailed plot synopsis. Rather than make myself do it all again, I’m just going to watch this with as much of my attention as I can muster and note down what’s been altered from the book and if there’s any new content.

It’s not like most of you care either way. I suspect almost everyone’s just waiting for me to stop tormenting myself and carry on with Harry Potter stuff. If you are interested, I suggest you re-read my coverage of the book first so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

Part One, then: “War veteran turned private investigator Cormoran Strike investigates the disappearance of a provocative author.” Not the most interesting synopsis in the world, but at least it’s accurate.

Let’s go. Before we start, I am fully prepared to quit if it becomes clear at any point that they haven’t tried to fix any of the extremely offensive things that made me abandon the book coverage.

[I’ll interject occasionally if I have something to say but I doubt I have much to add here.]

Content warning for suicide under the cut. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in loten

 

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Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (BBC adaptation) Part Three

Time for the final episode. I am still not sure why this was three episodes long. Around half the first episode and almost all the second one could have been removed completely without changing the plot in any way.

Apparently, ‘long-buried secrets are revealed, putting Strike and Robin in danger as they close in the killer‘ [sic]. I don’t recall any actual peril in the book, but the typo amuses me.

Well, let’s see how badly they manage to mess this up.


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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in loten

 

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Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (BBC adaptation) Part Two

All right, part two. Starting to lose patience, this took multiple sessions to get through. If it had been a two-parter, part one could have introduced us to everyone and picked out the most likely people, and part two would be actual detective work figuring out the answer, but as it is we’re an hour into a three-hour program and have no idea how most of the characters are remotely connected to the case. We know Ciara was with Lula earlier on the night she died, and we know Tansy and Freddie were at home when it happened and that Tansy initially claimed to have seen the fall.

Strike hasn’t managed to speak to any of them beyond Tansy refusing to talk to him, and we’ve also been given a list of other people Lula knew who don’t seem relevant to anything. We know no more about the plot at the beginning of part two than we did at the beginning of part one. Rochelle’s death has no impact since all we know is that she was friends with Lula; it’s not until later this episode that Strike tells us she was also with Lula that day.

Despite this, the episode synopsis assures me that Strike makes a breakthrough. We shall see.

Feel free to skim-read, by the way. This was boring to go through and will probably be boring to read; I just wanted to make sure the things I’m complaining about are clear.

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Posted by on September 16, 2017 in loten

 

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Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (BBC adaptation) Part One

The BBC have decided to immediately follow Cuckoo with Silkworm, so I now have to rush to get through both of them before they vanish from iPlayer.

If they throw out Career of Evil immediately after that, I may never get around to watching it, since I’ll do the book first if I cover it at all (which is a very big if given what Silkworm did to me) and I’m certainly in no hurry. The first two adaptations should give us an idea of how faithful the third will be to the source material, at least, so we can probably guess how good it was if I do miss it.

Cuckoo is split into three hour-long parts, while the others are only two (I think). This seems odd since I remember Silkworm having marginally more actual plot to it.

I’ve only seen a couple of trailers, so this is a ‘blind’ watch even though I know the story; I think they’ve included a lot more of Matthew purely to vilify him beyond reason (he features on exactly half a page in the original book) and it looks like they’ve made Robin slightly less annoyingly man-obsessed fluff, but other than that I haven’t a clue what they’ve done.

Let’s start this train hurtling towards wreckage, shall we?

[Mitchell here: my comments in bracketed italics per usual. I’m going off Loten’s summaries, I’ve not personally seen this and she recommended I keep it that way.]
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in loten

 

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Good news, everyone.

It’s been a while since you’ve really seen me suffer, hasn’t it?

The BBC have the solution.

Part one of their adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling starts this Sunday. Apparently it follows the book very closely, which is a problem because when I first saw the trailer I thought it might be okay provided they toned down the racism/classism and changed the ending to remove the glaring plot hole. After all, just getting rid of the protagonists’ internal monologues will make it a hundred times better.

See this tag for my (rather amateurish) coverage of the original.

The next couple of weeks are going to be very busy for me – hence no Harry Potter post for a bit, again – so I don’t know when exactly I’ll get around to this

They’ve also already adapted The Silkwormwhich I ragequit – and Career of Evil, which I suppose means I should probably make myself read and review that at some point. They will also be doing the as-yet-unreleased fourth one, Lethal White, which apparently follows directly on from a dramatic cliffhanger at the end of Career of Evil that I almost certainly will not care about and that will almost certainly make no sense.

We’re going to have fun, right guys? Right? Right?

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in loten

 

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