["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Micah: Because when Jo talks we listen - because it's not very often - this is MuggleCast Episode 221 for February 20th, 2011.
[Show music begins]
Andrew: This week's episode of MuggleCast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 221! Micah, Eric, and I here to give you the lowdown on what's going on in Harry Potter. I'm getting to - I get to bust out my J.K. Rowling impression again today. I'm really excited. I was looking forward to this episode.
Micah: Okay. Well, let's hear it.
Andrew: Well, no, we'll wait for the news. So, I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: I'm Eric Scull.
Micah: And I'm Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: Sorry, I misled you all. What's going on in the news this week, Micah?
Micah: It actually has been a pretty busy week for news concerning J.K. Rowling and she was at the BAFTAs where the Potter series was honored over the weekend. We'll talk about that in a little bit. But a little piece of news surfaced not too long ago that there is going to be this made-for-TV movie called Strange Magic and it is going to essentially chronicle the life of J.K. Rowling. And this is not authorized in any way by Jo as far as we know and - is this just an opportunity to capitalize off of her success? I mean, I'm surprised that she hasn't come out against it if she's not supporting it. Can you...
Micah: ...do this sort of thing? I mean, it...
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, there has always been unauthorized bios of famous people. But if she came out against it, then she would just be promoting it, so I think it's best to just stay silent. But I doubt she is happy about it. There is - who would want that? J.K. Rowling is a very private person.
Micah: There's been a lot of...
Eric: It just seems interesting.
Micah: ...mixed response, though, it seems, just from the comments on the site as well as - we asked people on Twitter, we'll read those a little bit later on in the show. But for her life to be put out there - as you just said, she's a very private person, and didn't we already get some of this in her authorized documentary, A Day In The Life which...
Andrew: Yeah, but this is like a film, so it's going to pull you in and you are going to see her living all these experiences.
Eric: That's true. It's sort of a dramatization and I think the fact that it is unauthorized kind of makes it edgier? I don't know.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: You always want to get the unofficial, unrated, extended edition of movies just in case they are even an ounce better than they were in theaters, to justify you paying twenty dollars for it.
Micah: And on top of that, she's being played by the hot chick from Without a Trace, so...
Eric: It's true, it's true.
Micah: ...you're enticed even more to watch and see if there is a couple of scenes that might peak your interest.
Eric: Maybe she will have to find a killer or something in the middle of writing a book.
Andrew: [as a movie voice-over] In a world...
Andrew: ...where authors become legend, J.K. Rowling was one of them. [changes to normal voice] I don't know. I can't...
Micah: Okay. Well...
Micah: ...we just mentioned it, let's talk about it here. The Potter series was nominated at the BAFTAs last weekend, and J.K. Rowling and David Heyman accepted the award, but Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, as well as all of the directors, with the exception of Chris Columbus, were there as well. And I thought they did a really great job, the BAFTAs, in putting together this montage that they showed just before they accepted the awards. And Stephen Fry introduced them and...
Andrew: Yeah, it was so good.
Micah: ...it was really, really well done in terms of the people that they were able to get to speak on behalf of the series. And David Warner/David Heyman - I couldn't tell if that was a joke or Stephen Fry...
Andrew: Yeah, I didn't get that.
Micah: ...just messed up.
Eric: Is there a David Warner? I didn't...
Andrew: Maybe he was implying that Warner Bros. owns his soul. [laughs]
Eric: No, I thought it was a genuine mistake, actually, because he did it while he was intro-ing them, when he...
Eric: ...was actually, like, "Ladies and gentlemen, David Warner," and I think it was just an accident. But we've been...
Andrew: Let's listen to...
Andrew: ...Stephen Fry open up the - this whole segment because it was really well done.
[Audio clip plays]
Stephen Fry: Michael Balcon was a visionary producer whose legendary productions with Alfred Hitchcock and his glorious Ealing Comedies have become part of our national heritage. In his name, I have the honor to present this year's award for "Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema." It goes to an achievement in British cinema which has created a British film industry within the British film industry that has entertained more millions around the world than any other - I'm going to have to use the horrid word - than any other franchise...
Stephen: ...in recent memory. One of the most remarkable phenomena of our time was the bursting-into-the-world of boy wizard, Harry Potter. In the pages of J.K. Rowling's seven novels, the Harry Potter cycle became the most successful literary series of our time, perhaps of all time. New words entered the language: Hogwarts, Muggle, Quidditch, Mudblood. Characters like Harry...
Andrew: [interjects] MuggleCast.
Stephen: ...Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort, who mustn't be - oh damn, I named him.
[Andrew and Audience laugh]
Stephen: They made an indelible mark in the imagination of millions of adults and children, the world over. Could such an unprecedented and astounding phenomenon ever be translated to the screen? Well, with a total of twenty-eight BAFTA nominations and the final installment still to come, the Harry Potter series has shown British filmmaking in its very best light: dramatically dazzling, technically breathtaking, internationally record-breaking. At the heart of the films' appeal is the fact that no matter how much money they make - and believe me, it is a shedload...
[Andrew and Audience laugh]
Stephen: ...the Harry Potter movies all seem to have been crafted with an attention to detail and a love which bespeaks genuine care and affection.
[Audio clip ends]
Andrew: So, he goes on and on, of course, but it was really, really nice and it was well done. Stephen Fry! I don't know if he wrote that himself or what, but it was really good.
Eric: Have any of you guys listened to the audiobooks, the Harry Potter audiobooks by him?
Andrew: Of course. Well, I mean, bits and pieces...
Eric: Oh okay, because I know a lot of people are just, like, "Oh, Jim Dale all the way!" But he makes a joke about the audiobooks. Is it - right in that acceptance speech, isn't it? Where...
Andrew: It is, yeah...
Andrew: ...where he says [laughs] they may be better than the audiobooks or they may not be.
Eric: Something like that. He talks about the guy who narrates the audiobooks, which is, of course, him. But we've been skeptical or critical, I want to say - I know Micah has, I definitely have, too - of the BAFTAs in the past, particularly when we're talking about the Oscar nominations and will Deathly Hallows get an Oscar nomination, will they seek it. But I think we've kind of given the BAFTAs a bad rep. This whole video - and the video is online - of this acceptance speech by Heyman and J.K. Rowling is just so very moving.
Andrew: Here is a clip of Stephen Fry from the audiobooks, by the way.
[Audio (Stephen Fry)]: "Not my daughter, you bitch!"
Andrew: I still have that from that time when we compared Jim Dale and [laughs] Stephen Fry.
Eric: And - oh, I remember Jim Dale's was, like, [imitates Jim Dale] "Not my daughter, you bitch!"
Andrew: Yeah. Here, let's do a comparison again. Here is Stephen Fry.
[Audio (Stephen Fry)]: "Not my daughter, you bitch!"
Andrew: And here is Jim Dale.
[Audio (Jim Dale)]: "Not my daughter, you bitch!"
Micah: Got to give it to...
Micah: ...Jim Dale still.
Andrew: Yeah. [laughs]
Eric: Absolutely not. The inflection is all wrong.
Andrew: Before we continue, we'd like to remind everybody that this week's podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, the internet's leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many New York Times bestsellers. For listeners of this podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their service. One audiobook to consider is The King's Speech. It's based on a terrific true story, and as most people know, it was recently turned into a film. Now it has been nominated for several Oscars and it will be very exciting to see if the film does pick those up. But check out the book, it is equally as interesting as the film. So, for a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. Again, that's AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
All right, Micah. What else is going on...
Andrew: ...with the news?
Micah: ...we continue on with more about J.K. Rowling. She spoke with the BBC on the red carpet at the BAFTA awards and she said that, "I don't know when you will get to read it. I've got several things going on at once so it's hard to know which will be the first to actually appear in print, but yeah, I'm writing hard." So, a little bit more insight into the fact that she is working and as she has said on Twitter three times, pen and paper are her priority. And this is good to hear, though. It's hopeful then that we will see something in the not-too-distant future, possibly this year.
Andrew: Yeah. [laughs] We said that last year too, though, I think.
Micah: Well, we can...
Eric: Well, that was...
Micah: ...kind of...
Eric: ...based on a tweet...
Micah: ...go that way.
Eric: ...though. That was based on a tweet.
Andrew: Oh, that's true.
Eric: At least now she's saying, "I'm writing several things and writing hard." Several things? Did any of us anticipate more than one thing? Because she said - obviously we're, like, maybe the encyclopedia and something else. But she said she's actively writing several things, that's really exciting.
Andrew: I thought saying "writing hard" was kind of sexy, too. It's, like, [poorly imitating J.K. Rowling] I'm writing hard...
Eric: Is that...
Eric: [laughs] Is that your impression of J.K. Rowling? Is that the only time we'll get that this episode? Because...
Andrew: [poorly imitating J.K. Rowling] I'm writing several things at once. I'm writing hard.
Eric: I kind of still want more, Andrew.
Andrew: I need to retire that. That's not very good. [poorly imitating J.K. Rowling] It's hard to know which will be the first to actually appear in print, but yeah, I'm writing hard.
Eric: [laughs] That was sexy.
Andrew: [poorly imitating J.K. Rowling] I'm writing hard. [changes to normal voice] Yeah, writing hard. If she's working - I mean, so what could be some of the projects? Of course, the encyclopedia, the political fairy tale which she hinted about a good three or four years ago at this point, and she said that was like a children's political fairy tale.
Eric: So, that was the really...
Eric: ...children's book she talked about, right? Because she said she's going to do an even younger children's book, younger than Potter.
Andrew: Yeah. And the way she implied it, writing several things, that makes me think it's more than two things.
Eric: Yeah, it does because she's, like, "It's difficult to tell which you will see in print first." It just makes it seem like there is three or four things...
Eric: ...that she said that.
Andrew: And one of them has got to be Harry - something Harry Potter-related.
Eric: I don't know. I don't know about that.
Andrew: I think so. Well, [sighs] it has to be. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, because people just aren't going to care anymore once the movie comes out.
Micah: Perhaps it's...
Micah: ...about a theme park in the United Kingdom after Harry Potter.
Andrew: Ahhh, is this a segway...
Micah: This might be a segue...
Andrew: ...to another news item?
Micah: ...[laughs] into the next news story, Andrew.
Eric: I was going to say, because it didn't make very much sense but it kind of matched with our next news story.
Micah: Yes. So, doing the news rounds at the BAFTAs, she mentioned that she wouldn't be opposed to seeing a Wizarding World type of theme park in the United Kingdom. Obviously, the story last year with the mayor of London - he was not probably as nice about it...
Micah: ...as J.K. Rowling was. I think the quote was - when he was mentioned in the Orlando Sentinel he said something along the lines of, "You're more likely to get shot in Orlando..."
Micah: "...than you are in the U.K." as a reason why the theme park should be based in England. So, what do you guys think about this? I don't think it's going to gain any attraction, it's just - she was just being nice, I think, in saying that.
Eric: She was just answering the question.
Micah: "Yeah, it would be nice to have a theme park here." Yeah, so not much more to say about that. I don't think it's ever going to happen to be honest with you. What do you guys think?
Andrew: Really? I think somebody is trying to make it happen.
Eric: There just aren't...
Micah: But she points out...
Micah: ...the weather is an issue for them to have a theme park.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, and the reason it is in Orlando is that is a theme park area, so that is why the first one would go there. So...
Eric: Theme park state, yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, I don't think - I think if they build a second one, it won't be in the U.K. I think there is a better chance of it being in California first. Of course, there is also that expansion which we talked about last week or two weeks ago, too, so I don't know. But yeah, it was just a little - J.K. Rowling talks so little now, that we have to post every little sentence she says...
Andrew: ...even if it is just, "I would love a Wizarding World in the U.K." [laughs]
Micah: Well, she was the focal point of the news this week, which - I can't tell you the last time [laughs] that was the case.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Micah: Every news story, literally, has had to do with J.K. Rowling so far today. But Andrew, you have an update on the International Quidditch Association.
Andrew: Yes! In November we reviewed the Quidditch tournament that took place in New York City, and Micah and I went, along with Richard and...
Micah: Kevin Steck!
Andrew: ...our old friend Kevin Steck...
Andrew: ...actually, yeah. [laughs]
Micah: He lives!
Andrew: And it was - what?
Micah: He lives!
Andrew: He lives? Yeah, he's still alive. It was such a good time, it really exceeded my expectations. It was just fun to watch, everybody was really into it, it was a great turn-out. And so we were trying to help them spread the word more about the International Quidditch Association, which ran the tournament in New York City. There were just a couple of updates: first of all, a Quidditch team from a university in Finland played their first intercontinental Quidditch match in history against a college from - how do you pronounce that? [pronounces incorrectly] Poughkeepsie? Micah?
Eric: [pronounces incorrectly] Poughkeepsie.
Andrew: [pronounces incorrectly] Poughkeepsie, New York?
Eric: [pronounces incorrectly] Poughkeepsie.
Andrew: Poughkeepsie, New York.
Micah: You want to just say it over again so...
Andrew: No, it's all right. Everybody knows I can't pronounce anything. [laughs] On Wednesday, February 16th. So, there was this - the very first intercontinental Quidditch match which was so cool. That finished team will be heading to Harvard on Sunday, or by the time this airs it'll have already happened. And then to Long Island on February 22nd! Micah, you should go to that one.
Micah: Who are they going to be playing here on Long Island?
Andrew: Against Stony Brook University.
Micah: Okay. It's amazing...
Micah: ...just to hear this stuff. I think, like you said before, having gone in New York City a couple of months ago, we were just so impressed by the number of people, the attention that it got in the media, and just how much fun people seemed to be having from all these different colleges around the country. And now you're going international, so you're adding a whole different dynamic to it.
Andrew: Yeah. Oh, and there's tons of international leagues already. But anyway, the International Quidditch Association also announced their first league-sponsored regional tournament, The Swamp Cup, to be hosted in Florida from March 18th to 20th. So, for all this information you can go to InternationalQuidditch.org, definitely check it out. If there is a game happening near you, like there is for Micah very soon, definitely suggest checking it out, InternationalQuidditch.org.
Micah: And feel free to go, do a write-up, take some photos, and we'd be more than happy to post it on the site.
Andrew: Yeah, maybe.
Andrew: [laughs] Depending on how good it is.
Micah: Depending on how well you write it up!
Andrew: What else is going on in the news?
Micah: All right, final bit of news this week, I'll turn it over to Eric. You recently spoke with somebody who has had a role in the Potter series over the course of the last ten years, and what did he have to say?
Eric: Well, it's no secret, guys, that Dan Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter in the Harry Potter movie series is on Broadway! This coming season - he has been on the West End and Broadway in a production of Equus, and he is coming to Broadway again for a production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It's a new revival, the show has only been revived once before. But it's a 1960s musical about big business and getting ahead, obviously, without - let me do that again - about getting ahead and climbing the corporate ladder. It's kind of a satire, it's going to be a really fun show. But I was able to speak with Dan and there will be an interview posted - unfortunately, we already did the interview but it can't be posted until opening week of the show for the public, so March, I think, 21st, around springtime. The opening week of the show, we'll post an interview with Dan Radcliffe. I sat down with him, I talked with him for about fifteen minutes. And it really is a good interview and it's going to focus mostly on this show, and sort of how he feels about some of the characters and their motivations and things like that. It was really in-depth, actually, far stronger than I thought it would be, too. But it was really, really good.
Andrew: In all seriousness, Dan was very impressed with Eric's knowledge of the play, since...
Andrew: Or the musical since Eric was a part of it. And I think Dan had a little crush on you after that. I listened to the clips, he was swooning.
Andrew: I shouldn't say that. Allegedly.
Andrew: [laughs] So, that's it for news this week. Before we get into Chapter-by-Chapter where we'll be looking at Chapters 27, 28, and 29 of Goblet of Fire, I want to remind everybody, as we announced on Episode 220, that we will be podcasting from LeakyCon 2011. Visit LeakyCon.com for all the information about this conference. I am telling you, if you want an awesome event to go to for the release of Deathly Hallows: Part 2, check out LeakyCon.com, get all the information. We're going to be doing a podcast there, but not just that. There's going to be a private party in the park exclusively for the attendees of the conference. There's going to be a big, mass midnight viewing of the film, of course. There's going to be a ball. There's going to be tons of Harry Potter panels, we're going to learn tons of information. I mean, they're just really fun to sit in on. There's going to be wizard rock. There's going to be so much, including a keynote by Scholastic editor Arthur Levine who has had a big hand in the Harry Potter books. So, please visit LeakyCon.com. If you do register, we can't wait to see you there. I'm telling you it's going to be a lot of fun. Also, use referral code "Muggle", M-U-G-G-L-E, and you'll see a box to put that code in. And that way we'll get an idea of how many MuggleCast listeners are coming, which we appreciate very much. So, visit LeakyCon.com. We're going to be talking about it more and there's going to be more announcements leading up to the event. I am telling you, [laughs] you are not going to want to miss this. This is going to be a ton, a ton, a ton of fun. And, by the way - I mean, you also get to check out the theme park so if you haven't been to the theme park yet, this is a great way to go. You're going to be surrounded by some of the biggest Harry Potter fans. All seeing the movie together, all dancing together, all going to the theme park together, all going to these great panels together, and you're going to meet some great friends. Even if you don't know anyone who is going, you will have some new friends by the time you leave it.
Micah: The other up side, too, is - you were mentioning the park. I think things will be a little bit more easily accessible this summer than they were last summer because the park had just opened.
Micah: So, I think people who may have not gone last year - the park, I think, is just a great opportunity to go there and obviously the conference as well. But - and also to go down there with your friends and other people who really enjoy the series. It's an experience that you're not going to get at any other point.
Eric: That's very true.
Andrew: And not to mention that that party in the park will be only - it will be an extra ticket that you'll have to pay in addition to your registration, but you will be able to have access to the rides very easily because it's only the LeakyCon attendees, so there's going to be many less people in the park.
Andrew: So, you'll be able to get on the rides very quickly.
Eric: Yeah, even if there are lines during the day.
Andrew: Yeah, and that will include a ticket for the rest of the park, too, earlier in the day. So, you can get on Spider-Man and all that other stuff earlier in the day, then save the Harry Potter park for the night when it's open to just us and you'll be able to get on the rides real quick, get Butterbeer, everything. So, really, check out LeakyCon.com. This is such an easy sell. I mean...
Andrew: Yeah, I don't even have to think about this.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: I'm just talking out of my head. From going to these cons over the past five or six years, I know these are the most fun and this one will easily top them all, I'm sure of it. LeakyCon.com, use referral code "Muggle" when you register, and we'll see you there. Okay, let's get into Chapter-by-Chapter, Eric has Chapter 27. You really wanted this chapter, Eric.
Eric: I did, I put my name down for it, like, two weeks ago when we first started planning. This is actually one of my favorite chapters, I think, in the series - well, obviously because Padfoot returns, but you get some Sirius and it's really important, and it's also sort of - I feel like it's the middle point in the book, even though this book has probably, I think, 37 chapters, so it's a little bit more - quite a ways more than halfway in the book, but it just seems like the halfway point as far as plot. So, without further ado, we're going to go into Chapter 27, "Padfoot Returns." We've actually just completed the second Triwizard task, and we were talking last week on MuggleCast about how kind of boring it would be to actually see the task in the audience because obviously the whole school turns out to see these Triwizard tasks, but the second task happened all underwater. So, I think Micah - it was asked, "Do they have screens? Can they see what's going on underwater? What's going on?" Well, apparently in this chapter, Harry and especially Ron are getting really inundated with questions about what happened during the task. So, I guess that answers our question because everybody seems to want to know what was going on at the lake. It seems like they really didn't see anything.
Micah: Yeah, I think when you're sitting there for an hour and you're in the midst of February, it's pretty cold outside, it can't be that fun of an experience. I mean, obviously you're there, you're trying to enjoy yourself until...
Micah: ...the first person emerges. What's that?
Eric: Support your school.
Micah: Yeah, exactly. You're there to support - if you're Hogwarts, your two champions, and the other schools your respective champions. But how much fun could that possibly be to sit out there...
Micah: ...in the freezing cold, by water which makes it even colder than normal, and just kind of twiddle your thumbs until somebody pops out of the water and you know who's going to emerge as the victor for this particular task. I mean, that was where I was kind of thrown off a bit because it's the same thing when you get into the third task, with the maze. It's not like this is 2011 at a major sports stadium here in America or abroad where you have these huge HD TVs that are plastered all around so if you're up in the nosebleed seats you can still see what's going on down on the field. I mean, you can't really follow the action.
Andrew: I just think it's - I think I said this on the last episode, it's just a sort of on-the-edge-of-your-seat event, so I think that's what makes it exciting. Somebody could die.
Micah: Yeah, but when do you get on the edge of your seat? [laughs] Like, forty-five minutes in?
Micah: Forty-eight minutes in?
Andrew: It's all underwater! You don't know how long it's going to take until...
Eric: "Oh my God, it's going -" Yeah, it's true but without seeing - so basically everybody is asking Harry and Ron what's going on or what happened, and [laughs] Harry notices throughout the week that Ron's answer for what happened changes subtly at first. But by the end of the week Ron is talking about having to personally fend off fifty merpeople and that he had a wand in his sleeve that he used to combat them. Basically, so even though Harry just rescued Ron who was unconscious, Ron has spun it into this huge tale of something else entirely. What does that say about Ron's character?
Andrew: He's just feeling very proud, I think, that he was involved in something. I mean, I think there was a little - we remember earlier in the book when Harry got selected, Ron thought that he put his own name in the cup, so Ron was pissed about that and I think Ron was just excited that he got to be a part of this epic event.
Eric: That's a good point.
Micah: Yeah, I think it's attention though, too. I mean, so much of the series we talk about how he feels as if he doesn't measure up to anybody else, whether it's Harry, whether it's his brothers. And so to finally be a part of something as Andrew was saying, to have the limelight on him for once, he was just taking it all in and playing it up.
Eric: [laughs] So, another question we had last week's episode was whether or not the hostages - let's just call them hostages - were in any real danger because it's really a big question. It doesn't actually seem to be answered largely or obviously in the book series. Even as of Book 7 - and I'll talk about that later, that's an e-mail we got, I think. But in the beginning of this chapter, it's kind of "blink and you'll miss it," if I could [laughs] borrow a term from that guy.
Micah: Ciar·n Hinds.
Eric: [laughs] If I could borrow a term from Ciar·n Hinds. But it's actually said that Dumbledore put them in a bewitched sleep before they went underwater and told them that they were going to be "quite safe" - and that's in quotes - once they exited the water. So, that's a little clarification about the people who were taken because the debate last week was whether or not Harry really had to save Fleur Delacour's sister and all the other champions, because it was a big, big, big deal for him to do that.
Andrew: I think if something were to have happened that would have put them in real danger somebody would have intervened, an adult wizard, somebody with the Ministry, something like that.
Eric: But anyway, the actual chapter picks up a couple of weeks in after the second task. March begins and Harry receives one of Sirius's letters, actually, a letter from Sirius. It may be a little delayed because there's a lot of wind going on and owls are not really as efficient to deliver the mail. Sirius asks Harry - and Ron and Hermione are present, too - to meet him in Hogsmeade in about a week and to bring as much food as possible. They leave lunch and head to the dungeons, and this is kind of a big scene down here. Pansy Parkinson is reading a copy of Witch Weekly - actually, her and her girls are reading a copy of Witch Weekly. Pansy throws it at Hermione and says, "You might find something interesting in here," and of course, it's Rita Skeeter's latest article, "Harry Potter's Secret Heartache." Now, I know when I first read Goblet of Fire, I was really young and I didn't really think about this article being out of place. I was, like, "Oh no, this is - it's drama, it's Harry." But now just reading it over again, I have to say, I really didn't think that this article should have been written at all, was really appropriate for anybody because reading it again, you just realize how wrong it is for Rita Skeeter to have published this article. Did you guys have initial reactions to this?
Andrew: Rita writes articles to sell, to sell on newsstands. It's right there on the cover. Anyone in news media - like, when you read the tabloids, like there's a new story about Steve Jobs in the real world having six weeks to live. It's B.S...
Andrew: ...but it sells. So - and Rita Skeeter is a tabloid writer. So, she's just writing to sell the cover here, and it's cruel and maybe it shouldn't be allowed for somebody as young as Harry, but apparently there's no rule against it.
Eric: She quotes Pansy Parkinson in the article as saying that Hermione is ugly, and insinuating that she's brewing love potions to keep Harry and Viktor Krum mixed up in her love. And that's slander. Not only is it slander, but Rita printed it so it's liable, and it's defamation of character and a hundred other things that you could legitimately sue for in the States if it were to be published. So, even though it's tabloids - Rita really has no class, there's nothing redeeming about this article at all. In fact, she even goes out of the way at the end and says, "Surely Albus Dumbledore will want to investigate these claims of love potions as love potions are illegal at Hogwarts." So, she basically assumes Dumbledore's position and authority, and there's just so many things I hate about this. I'm just going to end it right there...
Eric: ...unless you guys [unintelligible]...
Andrew: [laughs] Okay, good.
Micah: One thing real quick, though, I think you would never have this kind of reporter in a normal school, and I think that that's where there's a little bit of lack of judgment on the part of Dumbledore letting her be around. Even though she - obviously sneaking around in Animagus form and she's getting all these juicy stories to print up in tabloids and other papers. I just think she needs to be completely removed from Hogwarts and there not be any second thought, right?
Eric: Well, she...
Micah: I mean, we talked about this...
Micah: ...the other episode, where's a sports writer? Okay, this is clearly a competition where you're putting people against each other in different tasks. You should have somebody who's a little bit more knowledgeable and not there to write necessarily all the nasty things that she is about Hagrid and Hermione and Harry and so on and so forth.
Andrew: I wonder if this had to do with J.K. Rowling not liking writing Quidditch, and I think she doesn't really like to write about sports in general. She was quoted as saying she didn't enjoy writing Quidditch ever, so maybe one of the reasons she didn't add in a sport writer was because she wasn't feeling so inspired.
Micah: It's possible.
Eric: Although I think, too, having - that's kind of a good - that's a good idea because - at least from the part where if there is going to be a sports writer, have her be Rita Skeeter, have her write about the relationships, and the turmoil and things that are other than the Triwizard Tournament because we have enough people - we have enough inner monologue - Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cedric, all worrying about the task, and people are always offering to help Harry. So, to have the public be focused on relationships, it just kind of adds tension and also isn't more of the same thing, which was J.K. Rowling's problem with writing Quidditch, that every game - she had to work really hard to distinguish them. So, I think that that kind of obviously helps.
Micah: I think, though, it should have been limited to Rita Skeeter can only speak to the tournament champions because to go out - she has no business speaking to the other students in the school. They should be off limits...
Eric: Well - so for Pansy...
Micah: ...so that you wouldn't get a comment like Pansy Parkinson made.
Eric: That's a good point, because she's already been banned from Hogwarts.
Micah: These are fourteen-year-old kids.
Micah: Right, and that's what I'm saying, though. What I was talking about before is I think after that first article was written, or even before that, you know the type of writer that she is. She shouldn't have been allowed to cover the event in the first place.
Eric: Yeah. Well, I guess Bertha Jorkins went missing, but - [laughs] not that she was a writer because she wasn't. But anyway, moving on. Snape catches the trio talking about the article, he finds the article, he reads it aloud in class. This is horrible, this is one of Snape's, I think, worst torture scenes for Gryffindor. He's - but he's clearly - and we find out later, he is holding a grudge, not just the grudge we find out about in Book 7 but he is grudging Harry. Basically, he separates the trio and he talks to Harry then. He sits Harry up by front, up front of the classroom by him, and accuses Harry of stealing from his private quarters, which - the scene plays out a little differently in the movie, but Snape says Gillyweed and boomslang skin are what you stole. And Harry denies it, which is interesting, but the - obviously the Gillyweed was stolen by Dobby in order to help Harry with the second task. Harry didn't orchestrate it, but really Dobby either should have found it somewhere - what made Dobby think it was okay to steal from Snape?
Andrew: Dobby doesn't really care. He doesn't follow these kinds of rules that go on within Hogwarts. I mean, he follows the house-elf rules...
Andrew: ...somewhat, but he doesn't care. That's not in his character. He doesn't - I don't think he has much respect in terms of the teachers.
Andrew: I don't know.
Eric: Well, interesting tidbit.
Andrew: We never see - we've never seen him really interact much with the teachers, come to think of it.
Eric: It's just so odd to see him - like, I know where to get Gillyweed, I'll just go into Snape's office and take it there, like...
Eric: ...as a free - well, maybe he doesn't understand...
Andrew: Well, he also knows Hogwarts very well, having worked there for a while, so...
Eric: That's very true. They're in the cracks, always. Well - and then when Snape accuses Harry of stealing boomslang skin, Harry thinks that Snape is talking about an occurrence in year two because obviously, they actually did steal boomslang skin from Snape's office, they created a distraction in year two to brew Polyjuice Potion. So, when Snape is saying that it's missing, or that it has been missing, Harry thinks he means in year two. Snape actually means currently in year four, which is easy to miss. But it's a hint, it's kind of - the puzzle pieces are coming together that somebody at Hogwarts is using Polyjuice Potion this year, which becomes a huge plot point. So, regardless, soon enough, they get out of Potions class, they end up - it's the weekend, they end up meeting with Sirius. So, they bring a dozen chicken legs, a loaf of bread, and some pumpkin juice. They meet Sirius and actually, Sirius guides them for half an hour up this bouldery hillside. Honestly, my one point for this whole conversation they have, J.K. Rowling has said in the past that Book 4, more than any other book, is the book that she felt most rushed in completing. I believe because by this point she'd written the first three in a year each and I think she was under pressure - I'll have to find the exact article, but she was under pressure to complete the fourth book.
Andrew: Well, her mistake was that Goblet of Fire, she had already set a date with the publisher before she had finished writing so she had this deadline that she couldn't change.
Eric: Yeah. But fortunately she still made it into the book that it is, which is a good book, but there's a huge, huge plot - subplot here with Barty Crouch, Sr. almost becoming the Minister of Magic. And - I mean, we can talk about it, but - we don't really need to, but long story short, Barty Crouch, Sr. was pretty much on his way to being Minister of Magic, and they actually - Sirius talks about his practices, about how he goes around really employing death curses over kidnap and all sorts of other stuff. But then his son happened, which is where it becomes relevant to the plot of this book. I just felt that there was a lot of potential here for a lot of other kind of interesting plots because towards the end here - when we see Barty Crouch, Sr. it's very brief. But it just seemed like there was a lot there, a lot of thought, a lot of great plot that we'll probably, hopefully, see in an encyclopedia that just didn't make it into the book.
Micah: Yeah. Well, I thought the most relevant piece was that Barty Crouch, Sr. ended up trying his own son as opposed to recusing himself and not overseeing him going to Azkaban, because couldn't the punishment have been far worse for Barty Crouch, Jr. had somebody else overseen the trial?
Eric: Could it have been, though? Because Sirius mentions that Sirius himself went to Azkaban without trial per Barty Crouch, Sr. and that Barty Crouch, Jr.'s trial was only - pretty much, he says it was only an example setting so that the people could see how much he despised his son. So, I kind of feel like - it was a trial, which is more than Sirius got, but I don't think - I think it was over really quick. So...
Micah: But my point is, though, couldn't he have been given - have his soul sucked out?
Eric: That's a good question about the Dementor's Kiss because we don't see people - the only person who ever gives the order to administer the kiss is Cornelius Fudge in Book 3 but it just seems like it hadn't been done before almost because all these old Death Eaters are sent to Azkaban. Sirius in this chapter gives a list of...
Micah: Well, Cornelius gives it again at the end of this book and he does end up having his soul sucked out. Yeah, Barty Crouch, Jr. dies from the Dementor's Kiss, so it's just - I wonder if that was sort of the extreme punishment, the death-penalty equivalent that was given to Death Eaters or - what we're seeing, though, from an evidence standpoint is that never really did happen. Most of the Death Eaters are sent to Azkaban and that's it, they're supposed to live the rest of their lives sort of stuffed in these cells. But it would be interesting if because of what Barty Crouch, Jr. was responsible for with respect to the Longbottoms, if somebody else had tried his case if he would have ended up with far worse punishment than just going to Azkaban.
Eric: That's true. That's a good point and - especially considering not long after, there was a rescue effort for Barty Crouch, Jr. That's really it, they have this whole talk about Barty Crouch and they review the Quidditch World Cup. And Sirius's last request when he guides them down the hill is that when referring to him when he's not around or covertly, to call him "Snuffles."
Andrew: Awww, how cute.
Micah: Just one other point that I thought Sirius mentioned that was important - talking about Bertha Jorkins saying that when they were in school she had an excellent memory, and that it's kind of interesting that Fudge is so apt to not take this into consideration, saying, "Oh, Bertha Jorkins, she must have just gotten lost somewhere along the line." But for somebody to have such an excellent memory, that's not something that you would think she would do, get lost.
Eric: That's true. I think...
Micah: So, the pieces of the puzzle should really start to be coming together here for people who are reading the book.
Eric: That's also true with...
Eric: I mean, the whole story of Barty Crouch, Jr. and his mom in Azkaban is laid out by Sirius here so you really do have all the puzzle pieces. That with the Rita Skeeter beetle because she's quoted in the article as quoting Krum right after Hermione was pulled out of the lake and so if you read back, Krum says, "Oh, Hermione, you have a beetle in your hair," right when he's saying all those other things. So, really you do have a lot of the puzzle pieces to figure out the rest of the story at this point.
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