Andrew [Show Intro with music in background]: This is MuggleCast - Episode 8 for September 24, 2005. If you haven't finished reading Book 6 yet, then you probably should not listen to this podcast, as we do talk about different plot spoilers.
Andrew [In strangely high pitched voice]: Hey everybody! Welcome to another exciting edition of MuggleCast! I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: I'm Eric Scull.
Jamie: I'm Jamie Lawrence.
Laura: I'm Laura Thompson.
Andrew: Ben Schoen is not here this week because he's at a debate tournament.
Eric: Forensics or something...
Andrew [whispers]: It doesn't really matter because nobody really likes him.
Andrew: Yeah. So before we get things started, let's get you updated on the past week's top stories with Micah.
Micah: Thanks, Andrew. Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter series, has announced that sales for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince have hit 11 million in the U.S. alone. By comparison, 5 million copies of Order of the Phoenix were sold in the first twenty-four hours and 11 million sold in total.
And on Thursday night, the 6th Book in the Harry Potter series was named "America's best-selling novel" from January to August. It sold more than twice as many copies in the United States in its first two weeks as any other author's book in a whole year.
Moving from Half-Blood Prince to Goblet of Fire, a special gathering and party has been announced for the Goblet of Fire premiere weekend of November 12th in New York City. Reservations include hotel and various activities to enjoy over the weekend. This is a great way to plan your trip for the U.S. Goblet of Fire premiere. More details over on MuggleNet.com.
Of course you can check out all the new trailer information, video clips, and pictures on our Main Page. This week three new interviews have been posted with the actors who play Fleur Delacour, Cedric Diggory, and Cho Chang. It has also been reported a commercial with new footage for Goblet of Fire aired Thursday night during a showing of "Joey" on NBC. Seeing as there are only five people who watch this show and we know who you are, we’d appreciate it if the former cast members of "Friends" would send it in.
And, a very happy birthday to Tom Felton (the actor who portrays Draco Malfoy) in the Harry Potter movies. He turned 18 on Thursday.
Finally, we end with an update on the fundraising efforts for Hurricane Katrina. Alivan’s reported on Wednesday that they have raised $9,315 through their Redwood for Red Cross sale. Thank you to everybody who donated.
That’s all the news from our News center in New York for this September 24, 2005 edition of MuggleCast. Back to you guys!
Andrew: All right, thanks, Micah. Now you guys are all updated. Doesn't everyone feel better now? Everybody knows what's going on?
Eric: I feel - I feel positively enlightened, Andrew!
Andrew: Fresh and new!
Andrew: Oh, I almost forgot. Before we start, [takes a deep breath] you can stop the emails. We finally have a girl FROM MUGGLENET on the show.
Andrew: Laura Thompson!
Eric: Laura Thompson of MuggleNet Fan Fiction is here.
Andrew: Laura is that your main job around the site? You also do some content, right?
Laura: Yeah, I work on MuggleNet as well, but it's a pretty even balance between the two.
Andrew: Okay. Sweet. And you were one of the ones who originally came to us after I put out the request from Staff Members to come and help out.
Laura: Yes. Yes.
Andrew: And I sort of didn't get any girls on until five minutes ago.
Laura: And I sort of badgered you for weeks on end.
Andrew: Yeah, and then I gave you first priority which we are going to start having whenever there is an open spot, we're going to bring in a MuggleNet female. Whether it be Laura...
Andrew: Yeah. And now people in the Staff Forum can stop complaining.
[Andrew and Laura Laugh]
Andrew: I never replied...
Laura: Not that I did that.
Andrew: Yeah. Wait a second. We have Staff Forums? I don't know what you're talking about. Okay.
Jamie: We have an eternal split through the staff positions.
Andrew: First, let's get to a few announcements. Eric, let's start it off with the Contest Update.
Eric: Yes, the Contest is now closed and the twenty finalists are posted on the site for your distinct voting pleasure. Now to get to this Poll, just go to our MuggleCast section.
Andrew: Actually, no! We're going to do it differently. I didn't tell you this. My mistake.
Eric: You didn't inform me, man! You changed the contest and you didn't inform me? I'm so alone...
Andrew: To get to the Poll to vote for what you think is the Top Entry or maybe if it is yours (because twenty lucky people got into this Poll), go here. There will be a Poll there. You are going to vote. We're going to keep it open until... When should we keep it open till?
Eric: I think till the next episode or is two weeks better?
Andrew: I think two weeks.
Eric: Two weeks. Okay, yeah, two weeks then.
Eric: So at the release of Episode 10 the Polls will be closed and our list will be complete.
Andrew: All right, so that just about wraps that up. The Poll will be open until Episode 10 at which time we will have the winners. People will win the prizes. If you want the prizes. If you want to know what they are go back to Episode 6.
Eric [Laughs]: Probably! Probably!
Andrew: Episode 6.
Eric: Oh wait. Okay. So, can I do that thing now?
Andrew: The voicemails?
Eric: About the Horcruxes.
Andrew: Yeah, sure. Yeah.
Eric: Okay, okay. One thing we have to ask the fans, we were kind of talking about discussing the show - all of us - and we decided that recently we've devoted a lot of time to talking about (and there were good conversations too), but to Horcruxes. We were talking about recent Book 6 stuff a lot. And it makes sense because it's a hot topic and stuff, but what we wanted to do, and kind of ask the fans to help us with, is to kind of get back to talking about more of the original and basic Harry Potter stuff. The things that we love about the books and the characterization, which I believe is actually our main topic is today! Which is great and it's just basic, more down-to-the-books stuff. So PLEASE, send in voicemails that aren't... We love to hear your voicemails and all your theories on Horcruxes cause they're all good, uh, and stuff, but we would like to get in to talking about more fundamental and earlier and all-encompassing things. I think it would be truly a bad thing on MuggleCast if we just brazed the surface of the books, which is really what we've done since we've just talked about Horcruxes. Harry Potter isn't all about Horcruxes. So please send in your voicemails. If you have any questions or anything that you'd like to add about the original, the first few books or...
Andrew: ANYTHING else besides Book 6 content...
Eric: Yeah. And anything else besides Horcruxes. And also, well, last week we talked about Felix Felicis, which was not a voicemail, but it was something that Ben brought up, but it was nice because it was a NEW part of Book 6 that we hadn't talked about extensively or at all. And so that was very nice.
Andrew: Okay. So please stop. PLEEEEAAASE.
Andrew: Okay, and now time for some plugs. Now...
Eric: They made you that website, Andrew.
Andrew: Oh, yeah! Okay, thanks for setting me up for that one. [Clears throat and says in nerdy voice] I'd like to thank everybody who made me a website, a fan site. It warmed my heart.
Eric: He's got like forty now. It's great!
Andrew: I knew. I knew what would happen when I asked. And sure enough all of my fans fulfilled my wishes. So, I thank you all.
Jamie: All two of them.
Eric: Oh, Andrew. I know we were going do this later, but do you want to tell them about this now?
Andrew: I'm not done yet. I'm still thanking my fans.
Eric: Introduce your new section?
Andrew: But seriously, you guys are cool. Okay and don't forget to vote for us on Podcast Alley by going to MuggleCast and clicking on the link that says "Vote For Us On Podcast Alley" because we want to be up at No. 1! We're at No. 6 now and that's not cool. We want to be up to No. 1!
Eric: You're the one who said you were getting bored of being No. 1, Andrew!
Andrew: No, that was on iTunes.
Eric: Oh that was on iTunes! I'm sorry.
Andrew: And now, I'm bored of being No. 30. So I want to move back up to No. 1. [Laughs]
Eric: Well, Andrew, why don't we plug that thing, that free iPod Book just ONE MORE TIME!
Eric: Just in case they didn't hear it in the other SEVEN casts!
Andrew: The free iPod Book...really, we're not getting paid for putting that up. If you have an iPod, download it. If you're new to podcasting, download it. That's all there is to that. Don't forget. It is so easy to subscribe to us on iTunes. We like being high up on that list because we get a lot of extra promotion from visitors. Okay? So to subscribe to us through iTunes all you to do is go to MuggleCast and click on the "iTunes" button and/or "Subscribe/Download". You can install or download iTunes. But, here's the catch. Here's what's really going to get you going. Okay? Soon, very soon...[takes short breaths and coughs] Sorry, I'm still recovering from my cough.
Andrew: Soon, we're going to start offering subscriber incentives, so that those that subscribe via iTunes or other things, but we rather prefer iTunes, you will get special bonuses. We're going to putting together a Blooper Reel soon. We might put together...Ben and I have a behind-the-scenes video in the works on how the show is made. Stuff like that. We encourage you to subscribe. It's easy. It doesn't cost you anything. And, so go to MuggleCast for more [in weird voice] in-for-mation.
Andrew: Okay, and the big topic of this week...of discussion...
Eric: Oooh, yes...
Andrew: No, it's not Goblet of Fire. No, it's not about Half-Blood Prince. It's about...
Eric: Wow, SOMETHING NEW!
Andrew: I know. I can't believe it!
Eric: Okay, so since we've got this new, WONDERFUL girl, Laura Thompson from MuggleNet Fan Fiction News.
Laura: Oh, thank you.
Eric: Who's had to read, she's probably force-fed herself stuff, you know, all the time, all the fan fiction she got sent. And of course some of it's great, but she SHOULD and DOES know a lot about characterization in the books, and that's what we are going to talk about today. So, right Andrew?
Andrew: That's right, Eric.
Eric: Okay, one of the things I can say about this would be teachers! Now I've gone to public school my whole life, and that enabled me to meet quite a bunch of wild and crazy (well, not exactly wild and crazy), but different teachers. So, what I wanted to say was that I don't think there's a single teacher at Hogwarts which I can't really compare their personalities to a teacher I've had in the past!
Laura: I think...
Andrew: Well, you know what...
Eric: And just like in Book 6, Slughorn was the final one. The last one I needed. The kind of mindset of a teacher who, likes to be around the kids who might one day be very successful and famous. But, we've had the complete kook, we've had the, you know, person who is completely unprepared and ill-equipped, and we've had the outcast. So...
Laura: Really, I think she has a great representation of all the teacher-types you can get. I myself have had my very own personal Dolores Umbridge when I was in the 8th Grade.
Andrew: What about a Snape? Did you ever have a Snape?
Laura: Oh yes! Yes, I have. It was definitely an enlightening experience. She ignored me. She was just basically pretty awful to me. And I really didn't enjoy that class very much. I think we've all probably had our own Snapes. Input?
Eric: Yeah. [Laughs] Insert input here! Yes.
[Eric and Laura Laugh]
Eric: I've had Umbridge too and, unfortunately it was a very bad year for me. There were like, twenty bullies in the class and only like, three people who wouldn't make fun of me. So that was, that was not good.
Laura: The Inquisitorial Squad.
Jamie: Eric, you're turning into Ben. You're turning into, "I was bullied when I was six. I've had a really bad life."
Eric: [Laughs] No Jamie, that wasn't Ben. That was the voicemail that the one guy sent in asking us how many times we read the books and said he read it like, fifty times or something. We weren't making fun of him but then said how Ben had the bad childhood and all. Oh, that was funny. "I was bullied in school!"
Jamie: When people compare the Harry Potter teachers to their own teachers, I think they either compare the magical qualities or the normal, sort of personality traits that are in them. I've had Dumbledores, the people who really care and who really look after you, and are really concerned about your welfare rather than just your education. I've had Umbridge, who I didn't particularly like and whom I felt was working for the education system rather than me, which they are, but I prefer a more personal teacher who actually cares about you. I think everyone has had to have had the Snapes who you don't personally like, but other people like them. Like Harry doesn't really like him, but Malfoy does really like him. So I think if we compare personality traits, loads of people will have had teachers exactly like the people in Harry Potter. But if you compare the things they do in lessons, I don't think many people have had to sort of transfigure a warthog...
Jamie: ...in 8th grade math.
Eric: Well! Of course not. I mean that was great and a brilliant distinction there and thanks for bringing it up.
Jamie: You're absolutely welcome.
Eric: I really like your Dumbledore comparison there, Jamie. There are those teachers who are just really, concerned for your welfare and not just for education and, and those are my favorites.
Jamie: Exactly. I think in Harry Potter, Jo doesn't really talk about the education system that much. You can't really have standardized teaching because it's just one school, which teaches magic. Whereas, all the schools, especially in the U.K., they have a curriculum, so you all have to stick to one path to teach. Obviously, all the teachers have different ways of teaching, different methods, but there is a certain specification that you have to teach. I don't know for sure, but I think for primary school you have to do one hour of numeracy or literacy every day. Or something like that. Whereas, in Hogwarts, it's all down to the teachers, it's all down to the school. Because in essence it's a private school, but it's not. They can do whatever they want, really.
Eric: Well, it kind of is, and they have been doing what they want to. In Book 5, Umbridge was saying how all the former DADA teachers had taught the students all this useless crap...
Jamie: Yeah. Exactly.
Eric: ...but, what it just shows how little power the Ministry had over the school. Or at least authority.
Jamie: Exactly. Exactly, but it isn't only that. The school can't really appeal to the Ministry to change things to a different education system because it is against the Ministry. There aren't many countries, especially in the West, where the government and the education system are separate. The education system is usually overseen. It isn't in control, but it's overseen by the government. And I think that's one big distinction between Hogwarts and normal schools.
Laura: Honestly though, Order of the Phoenix, it really compared to my feelings on the education system because I'm homeschooled now, and the reason I left was because I felt like the public schools didn't care about us anymore. They were more concerned with handing out detentions and frankly trying to keep their ratings up, get their funding. It was definitely not the best experience. I spent ten years in there.
Eric: Laura, I think that's brilliant. I know exactly what you mean since I'm in public school and funding is a big issue now. One thing is that kids these days are asking for and practically begging teachers for detentions, and deserve them but, I mean that's something else. There's also kids who... I mean one thing I think about public school is that public school has always been sort of... it's had a lack of individuality. Homeschooling you get it. It's a big, big thing. And that's simply, you know, I don't think that could exist in a public school because there are so many kids or that it could if we wanted it to. Because there is no way for the teachers, there's no individuality because they have to teach a class and not just you. So, in a way homeschooling will always be that more personal, and more so than public school. There are other issues with public schools and the school system, and I think that Book 5 really brought out kind of the worst things...
Jamie: No I like that, but I think as Laura was saying, she didn't like how everyone was handed out detentions and stuff like that. But I think that's because Hogwarts and the magical world, it doesn't really have bureaucracy and people aren't really accountable. They are accountable to the people, but they aren't accountable to the government. We don't know how the government in Harry Potter is elected really, but in school nowadays, in the Muggle world, people meet targets, they have to be scrutinized by everyone. Targets? Yeah, everyone has to make targets. They have to be scrutinized by everyone, which means they have to hand out some detentions just to show that they are assertively disciplining everyone. And that's the big distinction between Hogwarts. I would personally, I don't know. I'd like to be taught in a Hogwarts, obviously because everyone wants to be taught in Hogwarts. But, I don't know.
Eric: Yeah. What you said about the government and the Ministry being completely separate from the school is true. And in public schools, there's always this pressure to perform up to and meet standards. It's not quite the same at Hogwarts. At Hogwarts, they don't need to worry about losing funding if they don't meet requirements and that's a big problem with public schools. They're going to lose funding if they did anything inappropriate.
Jamie: Exactly. Yeah.
Eric: Right, and one of the things is that I guess Hogwarts and Muggle schools do have SOMETHING in common which is the parents! And I mean, maybe sometimes not, but in recent books, Dumbledore has certainly had to answer to the parents of the students. And schools nowadays, my school just last year had a large book banning and all of the parents of students in the community came out and participated rather heatedly, but the parents of the children who say that they don't want their children taught this and that, and all the problems with religion and schools, and all this, this whole thing is really like an accountability that they don't have necessarily for the government, but they have for the parents. And Hogwarts has a little bit of that.
Jamie: Yeah, but over here, especially nowadays, it is so hard to fire a teacher. You have to go through paperwork and you have to find out exactly what they did. They have to be tribunaled, and hearings, whereas Umbridge in Book 5 just told Trelawney to go. There's no accountability, there's no forms, there's no scrutiny or anything like that. You do have the School Governors, which threaten to close the school and do all those things in Chamber of Secrets, but I don't really see if they can do that. If they close Hogwarts, the thing is, there's only three schools of magic in the world. Or as far as we know. And if you close one, you're like shutting off the education system for every single wizard and witch on one continent, and you can't really do that. Whereas, if you close down one school temporarily because of a gas leak or something now, you can because there are contingency plans and you can go back in a few days and catch up. Whereas, I don't you can do that to Hogwarts. Even if they have the Governors who are supposed to scrutinize them, I don't think they can very well.
Eric: You know, Jamie, that's great point! And it's really a big question now: Will Hogwarts be open again for Book 7? Not necessarily for Harry. Harry doesn't really need to go back for his seventh year. He's so completely screwed and incompetent with tackling the Horcruxes and he does need to find out how he's going to find them. But, I certainly don't think it's anything that he can learn again at school. The point is what will happen to all the underclassmen? And how will they...will the new wizards find out that they are wizards with the new children? How will they function? How will they learn? That's a great, great, great point.
Eric: If there's no school, what will happen to the underage wizards? Will they need to be held back a year? Next year, when it's open again?
Andrew: I think the Ministry of Magic would have some sort of back-up plan if this would happen. Maybe transfer them to another school or maybe set up a temporary school? Something like that. I think this deserves its own discussion though. We'll save it for another podcast. Does anyone have anything else to discuss before we move on?
Eric: Okay, Laura. Tell the world what it's like. Tell us the kind of stuff you are exposed to as a Fan Fiction Editor/Poster/Moderator-thingy.
Jamie: Half the eighteen-year-olds in the country would faint just at the mention of some of the pairings you receive. Isn't that right? Even Satan would go: "I am getting out of here right now!"
Laura: A majority of the authors are very easy to deal with and we have a lot of very talented people. Some people do get demanding sometimes, but it is really because they don't understand the magnitude of the stories we get. We must get at least 600 stories a day! And when you're splitting it between less than twenty people who have lives and such, it is difficult. But it is a good job, and I really enjoy doing it.
Jamie: Do you find the majority of people present one character in a certain way, or do you find there's a small niche in the market, say, who feel that one character should be presented in one way or a different way? And they are cut off from the rest of the Potter Community?
Laura: There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to the characters. One thing that is annoying is that people often stereotype Ron as being very dumb. And I realize he's not Hermione, but he's not dumb either.
Jamie: He's not stupid though, is he? No. I really like Ron.
Eric: Well no, yeah, the thing about Ron - he's very intelligent.
Jamie: That's the point. I like him.
Eric: He just doesn't always get the uptake!
Eric: You know, he's not.. he might not be up-to-date with things, but once he knows what's going on he's very...
Eric: He knows what to do about it and he has no trouble advising Harry...
Eric: It's not like he just sits there and he's like "Uhhh..." you know?
Laura: One of the things that I find most important about Ron is his loyalty to Harry.
Jamie: Which is more important.
Laura: Ron is the kind of friend that would die for him, and I think that counts, as Hermione said, a lot more than books and cleverness.
Eric: Yes, and I'm going to quote Jamie from a few episodes ago here, right now.
Eric: Yes! No, he said that in the books it was a true mark of friendship that that Ron didn't laugh...
Jamie: Oh yeah.
Eric: ...when Harry told him about the Hogwarts Express-Draco incident.
Laura: That's a perfect example.
Jamie: This bring us, this brings us to another point though. You were talking about how Hermione said that bravery and friendship is favored more. Why don't we talk about why we think Hermione was put into Gryffindor then rather than Ravenclaw? Because all the while in Book 5, what's his name? I can't remember who it was. Ernie Macmillan, I think, said how after Hermione said that she could perform a Protein Charm...Protein...I don't know how you pronounce it. Protean charm. It was NEWT grade. And she said: "Oh well, I can." And he said: "Why weren't you put in Ravenclaw?" And I think that was a turning point because it led up to Book 6 and showed, you know... I don't know to finish that, but I hope people understand what I mean. [Laughs]
Eric: No, yeah. I know what you mean. That's really cool, and gets our attention and says, "Why wasn't Hermione put in Ravenclaw?" I don't want to say that they're all insensitive and mean in Ravenclaw in contrast to Hermione because, you know Ravenclaw is really the house we know least about? Hufflepuffs are probably the most, next to Slytherin the most violent, as far as gossiping and making Harry feel real bad! Ernie and them in Chamber of Secrets.
Eric: But that's an interesting point and, I don't know why Hermione wasn't put in Ravenclaw.
Jamie: I think we're all going to have to find out why she was put into Gryffindor and not Ravenclaw. Clearly in the 1st Book, and it was emphasized in the film, she said: "Oh, you're a great wizard, Harry." And he said: "Oh, I'm not you." And she said: "The books don't really count. It's friendship, loyalty." I think she has to favor that over any type of education even though in every book, Jo always says she always got her head in a book, reading and studying. I think clearly she's going to have to do something to show why she was put in Gryffindor. It is such an important point. It isn't just a sorting when they are getting sorted by the Hat. They are showing off all their personality traits, emphasizing them as a person. It isn't just a house. It isn't a school house where you're put into the Blue Team, the Yellow Team, and the Red Team. It's a really important aspect of school.
Eric: Yeah. I think what would completely and utterly stink is if the Sorting Hat didn't do anything alphabetically and kind of - I don't know if you have this Jamie - but Laura, American gym classes if you get like picked last for the sport...
Jamie: Yeah. It's a stereotype. Yeah.
Eric: They have captains and they're picking everyone. If it wasn't alphabetical, all the favorites would go first.
Jamie: I like that one. That's true.
Laura: Actually, I have something to say on Hermione being put in Gryffindor. I think she proved her bravery particularly at the end of Half-Blood Prince just in her one statement saying: "You told us that we could have turned back and I think we've had plenty of time to do that."
Jamie: Yes. That's brilliant. That's absolutely brilliant.
Laura: It's basically sealing the fact that she's going to be with Harry and Ron to the very end.
Eric: Great point and she has said before that "we're not leaving you Harry".
Eric: That is a really good and underlying theme of bravery on her part. That's great.
Jamie: If you go back to the 1st Book. Do you remember after Ron was really mean to her? And they saw her cry and they saved her from the troll. Jo emphasizes there they became the best friends after that, her new best friends. And that was setting it up, that was setting it up...
Eric: You know what, Jamie? I love that part and in fact I have the book with me right here. I have to find that part. It's something about, something about there are certain things you can't do without becoming friends and wrestling a troll is one of them or...
Jamie: Without becoming best friends. This is the first time on the show I think we're actually having a quote from the book.
Eric: Yeah, hang on a minute, it's "Halloween". It's the very end of the chapter.
Jamie: Maybe we should do readings. Jim Dale can just go compared to us.
Andrew: Yeah, he's got those books memorized.
Eric: All right. I have it. It says:
Jamie: Yeah. Exactly. I think after that, they were going to stick together.
Laura: I love that. It just seems so simple. It's perfect. I love it.
Jamie: It means a lot. Yeah. That's true. That's true.
Eric: Well, right. It's brilliant. It really shows that the best friendships can just start from nothing. Not exactly that wrestling a mountain troll was NOTHING, but it's that it's an awkward situation in that it was the result of Hermione taking direct offense. Hermione was completely offended by Ron and it turned into this beautiful friendship. Even now, we're seeing that it's grown beyond friendship and it's spreading between her and Ron into a romance.
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