Archive for the ‘ literature ’ Category

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor deleted files shall stop the Cynic from recovering his Freshman English project




“Dna htiw ym nwo seye I was eht yelims gnignah morf eht sdnilb, dna I dias: Tahw sah deneppah ot ouy? Nda eht yelims dias “I evah neeb dehcnyl”

For Mr. Bloom:

evah a ecin yad.


  1. The Waking of the Brain Dead


April is the cruelest month, testing

My alarm can wake the dead, beeping

The Cynic is awaking, stirring

To begin his daily reign.

The comforter keeps me warm, covering

I am now in the kitchen, feeding

A little Captain Crunch with milk

The good ‘ol days I still do miss

And as I shower I reminisce,

And I went out of the sun, and into the Safeway’s 10

And to the brain-washing muzak we listened for an hour:

Galileo! Galileo! Galileo Figario! Magnifico-o-o-o!

The manager, he kicked us out,

And I was frightened. He said, Kid,

Kid, no loitering! And out we went.

In the strip mall, there teens feel free.

But enough of the past, for I’m out of hot water.


Where are the graduates, what knowledge grows

Out of this rubbish? Son of a gun, 20

I don’t know, or cannot guess, for I know only

A massive collection of bricks, where the sun bakes.

And the classroom gives no shelter, the learner no relief,

And the vending machine gives no change.

But there is a secret among these red bricks.

(Come and I will tell you about these red bricks)

And I’ll tell you something, but make sure

There are no teachers hiding behind you

Or no teachers coming to meet you;

I will show you what lies beneath this dust. 30

Annuit coeptis

Novus ordo seclordum,

E pluberus unum,

All others pay cash

“I suspected first a year ago;

“They called me a crazy dude”

— Yet when we* came back, late, from lunch off campus,

My stomach full, and hair gelled, I could not

Speak, but my suspicions were confirmed

As I saw staff members disappear 40

Into the underground via the drainpipe.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.


Miss Cleo, famous scam artist

Has nothing to do with the story, nevertheless

Is one of the ugliest women on TV,

With a rigged pack of cards. Here, said she,

Is your card, the deranged Air Force Pilot,

(Those are wings on his uniform. Look!)

Here is Bloomadonna, Wizard of the Words, 50

The Vangoah of Vocabulary.

Here is the man with six numbers, and there is the tin,

And here is the one-minded student, and this card,

Which is blank, is something I spilled whiteout on,

Which I can no longer see. I do not find

The Hanged Smiley. Fear death by administrator.

Thank you. The bill will arrive shortly,

Please feel free to- I changed the channel:

There is such garbage on the tube these days.


Unreal classroom, 60

Under the rotting roof of a Phoenix school,

A crowd flowed in through the door, so many,

I had not thought AP had received so many.

Bells, short and infrequent, were signaled,

And each man stood post at his desk.

He paced up the rows and to his desk,

To where the attendance sheet was kept

With a dead sound, the EOP bell rang at the stroke of nine.

Then I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Trevor!”

“You were with me when you wrote the suicide note, 70

“has it received a grade? Or did Bloom veto it?

“Oh keep that thought far hence, and away from Bloom,

“Lest he bring up stomping again!

“You! English techeur! – You likem my Freunch?


II. An Installment of Reading


The chair I sat in, like a quadriplegic,

Staring at the front, where the radio

Powered by its long-lasting dry cells, 80

From which a deep voice peeped out

(He was an old man who…)

Seemed to double the passing of time

Emitting sound from the table as

We followed along in our books

From our desks in sheer frustration,

In waves came the colorful language

Uncensored, came the strange synthetic phrases,

Unusual this story – we were troubled, confused

And drowned with the images; the descriptions 90

As the old man cast out his lines, his life

And talked to himself and the seagulls,

Floating in his skiff on the sea,

Stirring the waters on the placid surface.

Huge sea-fish snagged the line,

Pulled hard and sturdy, unrivaled size and strength,

And he ate raw dolphin, and was towed.

Above the sail was displayed

And the man accepted the bizarre scene

The fish of Santiago, the fishing king 100

So rudely dragged; yet there the seagull

Sat and listened to the undiscouraged voice

And then she flew, but still the voice continued,

“Fish… fish” spoke his lips.

And on we sat through time

I looked upon the posters, staring forms

Looked back at book lines, and read between them.

Footsteps drew my stare

I saw his shoes, his tie, his hair

And the finger hit the button 110

And the tape grew savagely still.


“We stop here for the day. Yes, stop. How is it?

“Speak to me. Why does no student speak? Speak.

“I doubt some of you are thinking? What thinking? Think!”


I think the monotonous voice mesmerized me.

I think I have lost all thought, and been chilled to the bones.


“You want me to just tell you?”

That would be nice.

“You want me to tell? Well, I’m not going to do that!”

Suit yourself. 120


“You think nothing? Do you hear nothing? Do you remember


I remember

The wings on his uniform.

“Are you accelerated or not? Is there nothing in your head?”


O O O O that Code Hero Rag-

It’s so eminent

So irrelevant 130

“What shall we read now? What shall we read?

“I shall leave you, and walk down the hall

“So, then. This is what we will read to-morrow?

“This we shall do?”

The bell rings at ten

And lunch at twelve, nearly dismissed at fourteen.

And I shall spin a record

And ponder the location of the hidden door.


As I stood in line, I said –

I didn’t mince the words, I said to my friends, 140


Now Bucky’s coming by, act smart.

He’ll want back the money he gave you

To buy yourself some fries. He did, I was there

And you salted them heavily

He said, I swear, I don’t know how you eat them.

And no more can’t I, and consider poor Bucky.

He’ll be in the Army in four years, and needs cash,

And if you won’t give it to him, you’re in deep, I said.

And I’ll know who to thank, Ax said, and gave me a strong stare. 150


If you don’t pay soon the interest comes, I said,

Others make you pay if you can’t.

But if Bucky takes off, it won’t be with empty wallet.

You ought to be ashamed, I said, like a perturbed mother.

(And then came the kicker)

I can’t help it, he said, pulling a long face.

I borrowed more, I needed more blank discs.

(He has five already. I nearly died from concealing my laughter) 160

The sharks said it would be all right, but they’ve never gotten off my back.

You blithering idiot, I said.

Well, if Bucky won’t leave you alone, T.S. (tough situation)

What did you borrow for if you didn’t want trouble?


Well, I’m taking off home, and vegging some more,

And I rolled my eyes at the beauty of the whole situation.



Later Ax. Later Saber. Later James. Later. 170

See ya. Later. Later.

Later,friends, later, comrades, later, later.


III. Open Flame & Baked Beans


The sky is broken, the last shreds of daylight

The news speaks of the West Bank. The sun

Goes down. I feel the light betray me. The light is departed.

Linkin Park plays softly, and I think.

The baked beans provide nourishment, vitamins,

Minerals, nutrients, awesome dinner

And I think of beneath the school. The light is departed.

And my friends, who loiter daily near its entrance; 180

This issue I must address.

By the waters of my pool I sat down and thought…

Linkin Park, play softly your emotional song,

Linkin Park, play softly, for I think hard and long.

But from my back a blast I hear

To rattle my bones, and I chuckled from ear to ear.

I think I killed some vegetation

And I considered the school’s plants

Under which a dull canal

Is it used on winter evenings as a gashouse? 190

Its purpose is unknown, and I’m a wreck.

And as my father bellowed,

I looked at the damp ground

And turned away and went inside,

Embarked to my room, dust to dust

But from my back time to time I hear

The sound of bean residuals, and I sing.

Sweeny to Green Day, punk-ish theme:

Do you have the time

To listen to me whine 200

About nothing and everything all at one?

Sha la la la la la, a Brown Eyed Girl…


Twit twit twit

Is someone making fun of me?

So rudely forc’d.



Unreal Classroom

Under the glaring bulbs

Mr. Bloom, the Eloquent merchant

Unshaven, with a bag full of contraband 210

Ph.D. English, documents in hand,

Asked me in serious tone

To luncheon in the place where there is no darkness

Followed by a weekend at Metro Center.


At the right hour, I sat suspicious

Looked up from my desk, where the professor awaits

Had he known my subterranean intentions?

I Trevoreous, recently moved, and stuck between two women,

Who greatly obstruct my view, can see

That this hour, begins the Cynic’s strife 220

Time, will bring this problem into view,

And as our conspirators exchange, it lights

The stove, over which militants hang

Where curiosity and sarcasm are spread

The cynic’s theories are seeing their last days,

As the two parties ascend (the Otis escalator)

Pass Funkoland, Macy’s, Cinnabon, and Orange Julius

I Trevoreous, young prophet with smirk on face,

Perceived this scene, and quivered to think-

I gained knowledge of the Cynic’s decease 230

At the underground he shall arrive,

Accompanied by an agent, with a bold stare,

On whom the cynic’s assurance sits

Where he shall be taken, captured

And must endure the deathly fear

The time is upon us, as I guessed

Looking for a confidant,

Will confess to his dear teacher

He fears what’s in the underground-

Some brother lies beneath his feet. 240

Captured, betrayed, and assaulted at once;

And the cynic’s hands – futile defense;

Until he falls, with no response,

It’s whom he tells, makes all the difference.

(And I Trevoreous have foresuffered it all

been in the confines of the room;

I who saw Strafe below the ground

And saw him among the lowest dead.)

Let other cynics know the room,

For the number is a man number – the number is 101.


Strafe turns and enters through the glass, 250

Hardly aware of plans against me;

My brain was on the unanswered question ahead:

“Are you actually still reading this?”

And I thought of my imbedded skill:

I stomp people, no one exempted,

I pass people on the right or left,

With no signal given.

“And what of my musical connections?”

Be it Creed, or Queen, or Victorian Opera.

O Cd, Cd, I wish I could hear 260

I wish I could find my teacher,

For if it weren’t for him, I’d be doing-

Um, something else.

Now, for those hopelessly confused: you take me too seriously

Oh Mall Muzak take hold

You can skip this part if you wish.


How many times

Is it gonna take?

‘Till someone around you hears what you say?

You’ve tried being cool, you feel like a lie 270

You’ve played by their rules, now it’s their turn to try!

So back off your rules, back off your jive,

‘Cause I’m sick of not living

To stay alive

Leave me alone, I’m not asking a lot I just don’t wanna be controlled

It’s all I want… it’s all I want,


Yi yi



Repeat 280-292


“Golf carts by the trees.

Hide the entrance the Underground city

He sent me. By intuition I navigated

And found the doorway to my fate.”


“We’ve expected you, us administrators.

We wait under your feet. We run this cavern.

You don’t exist. But we could give you a ‘new start’

You have no commitment. Turn in your other cynics!” 300


“You’re all janitors!

I can connect

Nothing to a conspiracy!

You in greasy jumpsuits and dirty fingernails?

Use the underground to drink coffee?


ha ha

Trevor takes things too seriously.


Laughing laughing laughing laughing

O man I am rather disappointed 310

O man I am




IV. Death by Administrator


Strafe the Cynic, not quite yet dead,

Forgot the rumors of conspiracy, beneath his feet

And the lack of his loss.

A Starbucks was under his feet!

He ordered a latte. As he added more sugar

He passed through the stages of his public education

Entering his teens.

Freshman or Senior

O you who remember the Tarot Prophecy 320

Consider Strafe, and what he said about TV psychics.


V. What the Saber Said


After the caffeine rush subsided

After the frothy mixture was downed

After the long walk home

The Cynic attempted to sleep

Tossing and turning and mattress reverberation

And thoughts of a red Moon over a white Valley

With the rocket at the center

His consciousness will become unconsciousness 330

With a little patience


Here there are no ravers but only punks

Punks and no ravers rule the streets

The streets which lead to this white valley

Which is the White Valley of rock and no techno

If there were ravers you could talk or think

Amongst punks one cannot talk or think

Trance is dead and the world is dark

If only there were ravers amongst these punks

Dead eyes glare back at this Red Mountain 340

Here one can neither rest or rave or chat

Even silence would be better than this

For thoughts run dry without the aid of trance

There is not even solitude in this valley

But pirced angry faces swear and snarl

From the doors of broken classrooms

And there are no ravers


And no punks?

If there were punks

And also ravers 350

And techno

A war?

And synths among the rock?

If there were the sound of techno

No more guitars

And white guys screaming

But the sound of keyboards over beats

Where the cynical friends can rave with their glow sticks

Beep blip dada blip bleep ta ta tatata

But there is no techno 360


Who is the dude who walks always beside you?

When I look, there are only Strafe and Ax

But when I turn again he appears

There is always another walking beside you

Wearing a gray hooded coat

I do not know whether he is a raver or punk

— But he is always there beside you


The Saber spoke, and his voice filled the air

Murmur of unorthodox intelligence:

Who are these you take orders from? 370

Over seven hours, each in respective quarter

They do not exist

They are illusions made by this Red Mountain

Yet they cost a lot of tax dollars

Strange, yes?

McCourtney Garcia Brooks

Eidenbock Bloom



The Cynic, Strafe, let the puppy walk by – this time

In the glaring sunlight, he waited, once more 380

As students and teachers passed on both sides

Talking, all on cell phones

And he ducked his head and crawled back underground

He ignored the sound of the cooling towers

He ignored the bells above, signaling the hours

And descended further into the void, enclosed by earthy walls

In this decayed hole under the Red Mountain

Ax sat playing solitaire, and quietly singing

Amongst the graves, and far from classrooms

Surrounded by switches and cameras and things 390

It had no windows, and only one door

Dead ends can harm no one

And Ax sat alone in the control room

Destination Unknown! Ruby ruby ruby ruby so-ho!

Strafe opened the door, and a damp gust

Bringing Saber


Saber was last sunken, the last to leave

He waited for the tardy bell to ring, while the other ravers

Entered much sooner, the nimrods

The Cynic crouched, Ax sat in silence 400

Then spoke the Saber,



HAPPY: Why am I laughing, said Saber

My friends, your blindness wounds my heart

We, the last ravers, nearly surrendered

All the time you wanted answers from teachers

But now you know they never existed

Another week and you would have found sarcasm in an obituary

Or in memories, being rewritten by the Party

Or as falsehoods, being slandered by solicitors 410

In this empty room.


HARDCORE: This word is the key, said Ax

Turn away once and turn away forever

Should loyalty waiver and you’re in your own prison

Thinking like a raver – where lies your trust?

Inside your own mind, and only there!

This makes a hardcore person


HARMONY: The Cynic responded 420

Put simply, strength in numbers

More when all the numbers are in step

Independent, but when need be, submitting and obedient

To cynical hands


I sat back at my desk

Thinking, with the past behind me

Shall I declare my independence to the system in its native language?

I don’t need to walk around in circles walk around in circles walk around in

Raverthinkers unbellyfeel the system

Cynicism plusgood for modernman – here’s to ownself! 430

Teachers unpersons, thoughtcrime is nocrime

This voice shatters the calm of the day, like an alarm

Bless the ravers – we rise again.

Happy. Hardcore. Harmony.

Cynics. Cynics. Cynics.


And the Ass Spoke: The Quasi-theological Musings of Strafe

The notion of biblical in-errancy is a croc of sh*t (or, a turd-gator, if you will). Opponents of scriptural infallibility will speak the inherent logical problems of claiming a work to be true based on the assertion of the work itself that it is true (e.g. the bible is true because it claims to be; classic “begging the question.”) I hate that people do this, because like any good mud-slinging campaign, it distracts from the real issue… namely, that the bible makes no such claim.

In my past, people have immediately jumped to 2 Timothy 3:16 (what’s with these 3-16’s?), where Paul declares that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” But check everything else Paul wrote. When he says “Scripture,” it is clear that he is referring to what Christians call the Old Testament… which at the time included a few books that Protestants do not acknowledge. Read a few verses before and after the phrase, and it looks to me like Paul is reminding Timothy not to throw out the Old Testament, because it guides one to wisdom and has valuable lessons to teach. One could debate the true significance of the word/phrase “God-breathed,” but in context it seems trumped by the overall, more straightforward meaning of the entire sentence. No self-referential assurance of the infallibility of then-contemporary works (e.g. Paul’s own letters). If you think it does say that, you are drawing that conclusion from an extra-biblical source.

Regarding Paul in general… there is no implication in his works that he knew he was writing Scripture when he sent all those letters. So, it is possible he may have used a style of language, made certain references, etc when writing to friends that he would not have used in a sermon, or something meant to be authoritative. One may conclude that the Spirit imparted unto him infallibility in his writings… but the bible doesn’t say that. It also makes the spot where he says “And I say (I, not the Lord)” rather awkward.

A man who no longer attends my church once mentioned in a class he was teaching that we “know” the Mormons are wrong because they “add” to the book (referring to the book of Mormon), disregarding the warning at the end of Revelation. I hope that opinion is not wide-spread among us evangelicals, given that the warning clearly applies only to the writings of Revelation itself.

(*TANGENT* I’ve always liked the theory that John used the heavy symbolism in Revelation as a means of effectively encoding the letter, that is, making it unreadable to those who would persecute the faith. At the time, it was common practice to abridge, expand, sign, tag, correct, etc relevant writings, since they all had to be copied by hand anyway. I wonder if John’s dire warning may have just been a signal not to alter anything/be mindful to present the work in its entirety, or else the “code” would be even more indecipherable. Just an idea… no scholarly backing *END TANGENT*)

A particular disadvantage us monolinguals have when reading the bible is that we are not reading anything straight from the authors. Everything has been translated. More than once. And here’s what the translators have to say for themselves: “Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect man, this one undoubtedly falls short of its goals.” That’s from the preface of my NIV. Check the footnotes in the scriptures themselves. Job 29 has a whole clause that cannot be translated beyond a certain degree of uncertainty. I pick on Job because one of the most reassuring quotes I’ve ever come across, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (13:15) can also be translated “He will surely slay me; I have no hope.” That’s a bit of a downer. But if you understand how Ancient Hebrew works, you’ll know you can’t blame the translators. If you don’t, here’s a crude example, made from that last sentence:


Even when you add spaces it doesn’t help much:


Ultimately, one’s attitude towards the bible, and the lessons one takes away from it, are largely contingent on the personal experiences one brings to it. The bible itself gives examples of this… read the part in Acts with the Eunich; he seems to be most impressed by the Savior’s lack of descendants. In order for us to get any meaning from it, on some level we need to match it up with things that lie outside of it. That’s not a problem if you believe in a God willing to reveal himself in multiple mediums (the whole Holy Spirit thing kind of implies this). If, however, you are one of those “sole authoritative word of God” types, we encounter problems… not the least of which being the fact that the bible makes no claims of infallibility.

7 Things the Harry Potter Movies Got Right

The last minute and I have an affair reaching back well over a decade. Now, on the Eve of the release of Part 1 of the HP finale, I realized I stood little chance of finishing this post in time. Also, I was gently informed that the predecessor to this post was far too long. The solutions to both these problems was obvious… so, I give you:

7 Things the Harry Potter Movies Got Right (Part 1)

7 — (Movie) Magic

Twenty years ago, people noticed digital affects, and were amazed. The T1000 in Terminator 2? Jaw dropping. He’s liquid metal! Today, for better or worse, audiences have come to expect great effects… if we notice them, it’s usually because they look fake. I, for one, rarely notice the effects in Harry’s world.

Budget is part of this–the effects team has no reason to cheap out on these films. Also, we are shown things for which we have no frame of reference; my mind doesn’t have a great many “stock” images of Hippogriff’s and flying curses, so the images presented on screen seem to do a great job. I think this is partially why many of the affects in the newer Star Wars films are unsatisfying–we all know that space battles are supposed to look like WWII fights on a black background (with ironic thanks to Lucas’ earlier films), so when they don’t, we’re disappointed. I never thought the flying car sequences in Chamber of Secrets looked quite right, and it,s probably or a similar reason: we have a good idea of what that would really look like.

Most importantly, the visual presentation of the HP universe extends well beyond the digital. Those Hogwarts interiors are real. The lighting is intentional, and mostly effective (notable exception: some shots in Half Blood Prince, in which the camera showed up wearing sun glasses and David Yates decided to go with it.) Hundreds of hours of forced perspective shots have been lined up in order to make Robbie Coltrane eight and a half feet tall. This conscientious design and labor pays-off and gives this magical world an unexpected, and refreshing sense of authenticity.

I said real, not to scale

6 — Settings

CGI or real, miniature or full set, the film maker’s have nailed the settings [pun totally intended]. They didn’t give us Cinderella’s Castle for Hogwarts… they gave us a chaotic, neo-Gothic fortress. And yet somehow they kept it beautiful.

Not that the films are afraid to get gritty. The Shrieking Shack in Prisoner of Azkaban, the underpass (where the dementors attack) in Order of the Phoenix, the Underground in the opening of Half Blood Prince… these places stand is sharp contrast to the magical backdrop of the films, and are frankly terrifying.

What’s particularly great about the Underground shots is that they aren’t in the book. This scene is inserted to replace the obligatory “back at the Dursley Residence” chapter that opens each book… and it lends enough to the mood of the film to be forgiven. I mention that because the film makers take ignoring Rowling’s descriptions to new artistic heights in the final act of Order of the Phoenix when the characters invade the Department of Mysteries.

Sum of the remainder of an unbalanced equation inherrant to the programming of the Matrix... what the hell?

This all makes me very excited for Deathly Hallows–we’ve been stuck at Hogwarts for 6 movies, with the excoption of the end battles (even in the first two movies, the end sequence comes in never-before-or-again-seen dungeons). Now, we can anticipate more of Grimmauld place and the Ministry, plus Malfoy Manor, Shell Cottage and Gringotts… with the final battle at Hogwarts.

Don’t screw up, Yates…

5 — Casting

Some misguided fans write erotic fan fiction. According to’s Rule 34 there’s some witch-on-witch-on-Dobby out there. Now, I’m not into that. I am, however, considering doing a piece in which Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman trade some serious wizarding Yo Mama’s.

Yeah, well your mama's so ugly the Basilisk can't look HER in the eye!

Now that I’ve put an image in your mind that makes you wish for an Obliviator Charm, they really got some superb actors and actresss for these parts. That’s impressive, because a lot commitments to child actors had to be made’ with over a decade’s worth of movies to be made. If Daniel Radcliffe had gone Culkin on us, that could easily have derailed the franchise.

But enough about the kids… it’s the portrayal of the secondary characters that wow me. Both Dumbledore’s, despite having radically different interpretations of the character, play him true to the book (When reading the books, I picture Richard Harris orating the lengthier speeches, and Michael Gambon delivering the shorter quips, and of course doing all the fighting). Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid gets more impressive when you realize his accent is 100% fake. The aforementioned roles of Snape and Sirius are played perfectly. And even if she is phoning it in, I am obligated to say Helena Carter is a great Bellatrix.

Allow me a moment here to step out of my demographic and mention that I’m disappointed in Emma Watson lately. Maybe it’s just an American thing… hey internet, send me a British commenter! Does Hermione speak clearly by English standards? Somewhere around movie 4 or 5 she seems to have quit enunciating. It hasn’t been so bad because, as the plots grow more complex and they have to shoe-horn in many secondary and tertiary characters, Ron and Hermione have taken a bit of a backseat. But the way Deathly Hallows is structured, we are bound to get plenty of the trio… and there’s a lengthy sequence where Harry and Hermione will have to carry on their own. This could be really good, or, if previous patterns continue, it could provide an opportunity for an extended bathroom break.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I made this coarse joke involving Dobby...

4 — Tie: Dialogue & Music

Dialogue is kind of easy because most of the best lines are taken directly from the book. Still, a great bit of abridging, rearranging, and adding has been done, to mostly good effect.

Scenes that come to mind: Neville’s revelation about his parents to Harry in Order of the Phoenix: entirely fabricated for the movie, but totally true to the character. Earlier in the same movie, Harry and Sirius’ conversation over the Black Family Tree–a combination of two separate scenes from the book. All of Harry and Lupin’s scenes are excellent, regardless of which movie.

But the crown jewel comes from the least complimented movie (at least on my lists), Goblet of Fire. Lord Voldemort’s return to power, and the subsequent fight, is overshadowed in weight and creepiness by Voldemort’s lengthy, and ultimately premature victory speech. It so effectively establishes how powerful and frightening this character is that he is still coasting on it three movies later, despite having about 4 lines from then to now.

As for the music- continued in part 2

7 Things the Harry Potter Movies Got Wrong (So Far) [Spoilers!]

I have no shame in admitting to being a huge Harry Potter fan. I never waited in line for the books, and I don’t wear robes to the premiers… but then again I do everything online and I hate shopping for clothes. In anticipation for part 1 of the Harry Potter finale coming in November (I wonder what this post will do to the ads at the bottom of the page?), my beloved and I have been both re-reading the books, and watching the movies.

And because I know no better way than to show love for something, I must lampoon it on my blog.

Disclaimer 1: Be it known that I love these movies… errors, oversights, and all.

Disclaimer 2: In case I would be accused of only blogging about the negatives, my next post shall be about the strengths of these films.

Disclaimer 3: In case you chose to disregard the title, this is your last chance: this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies, and intent to, skip this post. Read about Higgs Boson. Or, send me a blog idea.

7 — Argus Filch

If you just said “Who?,” my point is made. Argus Filch is the keeper of the castle and essentially Hagrid’s opposite. Like Hagrid, he does not use magic, though it is not for lack of permission-rather he is a squib; a person of magical heritage with no magical abilities. This is explained in the movies, with the singular exception of Draco Malfoy yelling “Get your hands off me, filthy squib!” in Half-Blood Prince. He is obsessed with cleanliness, laments the prohibition of torture against ornery students, and uses his cat as an agent.

Aren't you from Rush?

His role in the books is hardly significant, and I’d probably be fine if he were deleted from the movies altogether. However, in Sorcerer’s Stone, he is very much present, and superbly portrayed. His loathing for the students, and cynicism towards his colleagues is haunting and skillfully timed. Take his line to Hagrid: “Your going int’ the forest, man… y’ve got t’ ‘ave your wits about ya…”

Sadly, this development is not continued in the later films, and by Goblet of Fire he has become a bumbling parody of himself, ineffective and unaware. Case in point: the “dancing with the cat” shot in Goblet, and his entire role in Order.

6 — Hufflewhat and Ranenwho?

The books themselves often let Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw be overshadowed by Griffidor and Ravenclaw. This is especially true in the earlier books, but later in the series the other houses get some airtime. In the movies, however, it’s easy to forget they even exist. I’m pretty sure they put both Patel twins in Griffindor (not positive though), and do they ever even mention that Cho Chang and Luna Lovegood are in Ravenclaw? Same with Cedric Diggory being from Hufflepuff.

The unfortunate consequence here is that it undermines the qualities the other two houses life up, namely intelligence and loyalty. Also, quite unintentionally I’m sure, it implies that all the members of Dumbledore’s Army (Phoenix) are from Griffindor, while the rest of the school presumably sleeps through Voldemort’s second rise to power.

5 — Whatever happened to Mr…

Quick, who are any of the following?

> Kingsley Shacklebolt
> Fenrir Greyback
> Walden Macnair
> Tonks
> Fillius Flitwick
> Pomona Sprout

They have all appeared in the films, but are seldom or never mentioned by name. Now, I know given the sheer number of named-characters who appear in the books necessitates some truncating (the Wikipedia entries for said characters sprawl at least 4 “databases,” plus each of the “main” characters has his/her own entry), but I think some critical characters have been overlooked.

Take Kingsley Shacklebolt, for instance. Shacklebolt is a member of The Order of the Phoenix, but also works for the (impotent and increasingly antagonizing) Ministry of Magic. His role, as explained in the books, is that of a double agent between the Ministry and Dumbledore.

Kingsley is briefly introduced early in the fifth film, but is easily missed among the other known characters. Later, during a memorable, and critical scene wherein an innocent Dumbledore narrowly evades arrest, a very out-of-place looking wizard (even by Harry Potter standards) makes a pithy remark to the Minister of Magic before the scene break.

Now, if the viewer missed the fact that this man is also a member of the Order, then he is simply an eccentric, unnamed agent of the Ministry. But, if the viewer does notice, then the latter scene makes no sense… without context, or so much as a formal introduction to this character, why did one of Dumbledore’s men come to arrest him? Is he a traitor to the order? A double agent? An extra carelessly reused? The audience has no reasonable way to infer the meaning of this character… so why was he included at all?

Keep in mind, several critical characters have been eliminated entirely… these memorable (and well-played, when given screen time) characters are in the films just enough to cause confusion.

4 — Whoops! Turns out that was important…

There is an increasing problem of minor details, completely ignored in certain movies, becoming a big deal in later movies.

The movies are frequently made fun of for the Quidditch scenes. Apparently, outside of the first film they are conspicuous interrupters to the main plot… at least to casual fans. I disagreed at first. Then suddenly Half Blood Prince comes around and Harry is captain. Ginny is on the team (seems to be a returning member… “varsity” if you will) and Ron is trying out. What? How did this happen after two years of no Quidditch?

Presumably it was canceled in Goblet due to the Triwizard Tournament, and in Order during Umbridge’s tyrannical reign. But wait… Harry has that line “Just because you made the team last year is no guarantee…” So the movies state that Quidditch happened in Order, but we never see a second of it.

It gets bigger than Quidditch.

After Chamber of Secrets, Dobby the House elf disappears entirely. I think this was done due to a few other unfortunate all-CGI, vaguely humanoid, ineloquent characters present at the time.

To be fair, they kind of had a point...

Too bad for continuity, since Dobby is quite important to the storyline, and needed to have his undeletable moments of influence re-assigned… in two different movies it went to Neville (the Gilley-Weed, and discovering the Room of Requirement).

On the subject of Neville, his parents’ backstory was somewhat gracefully addressed in a brief scene in Order, but his role in the Prophecy is ignored completely. I’m frightened that when they get to Neville’s plot-critical moment in part 2 of Deathly Hallows (spoiler exception!), without the story behind it we will get the impression that he just bumbled into destiny, rather than fulfill it.

3 — Wait? It’s over?

The first two films were faithful to the books to a fault. Many of the numerous cut scenes are made entirely of word-for-dialogue, from-the-text dialogue, which, predictably, did not transition too well to film.

"I'm enjoying my steak and kidney pies. Care for some?" "No thanks, I tihnk I'll stick to treackle tart... but I'm looking forward to those tongue sandwiches and mutton-sickles for lunch."

Still, without these scenes, the films both approach three hours. And these were for the shorter books.

The later books get progressively longer, and almost without exception, better. However, if you check the running times on the fifth and sixth films, they are 20 minutes or so shorter than the early films. It is unavoidable that subplots and a certain richness of detail will be lost when trying to cram a sprawling novel into an audience-friendly film. However, the last decade has done wonders in this department–thanks largely to the efforts of Peter Jackson, and other filmmakers too numerous to count, it is perfectly acceptable for a movie to approach three hours–even a movie geared towards children (Prince Caspian is 150 minutes).

My opinion is that the pressure to make each film a blockbuster permeates the entire film making process, from the screen-writing to the actual filming to the editing–so far too much is identified as “fat to be trimmed,” which may otherwise have survived. Thus we feel rushed through a rather complex story. As a byproduct of this, we get the problem referenced in the previous and following entries…

2 — Marginalization of the House Elves (and other creatures)

Separate and apart from the deletion of Dobby, is the deletion of other House Elves, and the relative disregard of the other sentient creatures in the Harry Potter universe… the Goblins, the Giants, the Centaurs, etc. Yes, they do appear in the film. But nothing happens to set them apart from ghosts, Dementors, trolls, and other creatures in the Harry Potter world.

Part of this may be actually related to the books–Rowling introduces us to several obviously-sentient creatures early on, but they do not differ significantly from, say, the moving/talking pictures that line the halls of Hogwarts. They’re almost not “real;” they don’t matter. Then, in book 4, that begins to change. Gradually we are introduced to the idea that the wizarding world has impeded upon the natural rights of these magical creatures. For instance, Goblin “technology” is used by wizards, but Goblins are not allowed to make or possess wands. House Elves are nothing but slaves; Centaurs are treated more as wild animals than members of magical society.

The movies have ignored this completely. The consequence here is twofold–first, it forgives a major flaw in the pre-Voldemort influenced Ministry of Magic. More significantly, however, it causes the movies to “revert” to the attitude that the early books have–it shows us sentient creatures, which are clearly in subordinate roles to humans, and then never addresses why this is. It implies that it isn’t a problem, or simply isn’t worth the time.

1 — Goblet of Fire

Disclaimer 4: I feel obligated to state, up front, that I feel that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is by far the weakest book of the series; thus I’d expect it to make a weak movie. But I believe this film missed the mark even relative to it’s low-bar target. Many may disagree (the box office certainly did–it is both the highest-grossing and most popular movie of the series).

Forget cutting nonessential scenes, and combining several scenes/locations for the sake of time and pacing. Goblet takes so many liberties that it contradicts established norms in the Harry Potter universe, and makes implications that require the reader to have either a)read the books ahead of time, or b)commit not to analyze the movie beyond the current scene.

Take the Quidditch tournament that opens the film–the match itself is not shown, but we see the celebration afterwards. Dialog from the main characters implies clearly that the Irish won, but Ron is mesmerized by the performance of Viktor Krum, the star player of the losing team. Wait, what? Of course, the book addresses this with the details of the match (improbable enough on its own), but without that knowledge, it comes off as nonsensical.

What's the deal with Quidditch scoring? Doesn't the Seeker make everybody else pointless...did you ever notice that?

A far more consequential example of the same “glazing-over” of crucial detail comes with the (lack of) explanation for Barty Crouch Jr.’s escape from Azkaban. The entire plot of the previous book/movie revolves around the massive manhunt for Sirius Black following his escape from the prison; it was supposed to be impossible. The events as presented in the movie require the viewer to believe that, only a year later, another dangerous criminal escaped and no one even noticed his absence (Dumbledore’s one line on the matter: “Send an owl to Azkaban; I think they’ll find they’re missing a prisoner”).

Of course, this is the book that marks the beginning of Dobby/the House Elves disappearance. We are offerred no details as to how Alastor Moody was captured (in context of the character, it’s a real accomplishment). Sirius Black’s role is all-but removed. And as an added insult, we are treated to a sorely out-of-place scene in which Professor McGonagal gives the Griffindor students a ballroom dancing lesson. From the dance lessons to the conclusion of the ball, something like 15% of the movie plays out like an episode of “Secret Life” (or one of those). We are shown the developing love interest between Hagrid and Madaam Maxine during this sequence, but it is never properly concluded (and that has consequences in the next movie). The “romantic” moments may be enticing to the teen audience… but for every extra-textual scene that was added, that’s another great scene from the book never filmed.

And then there’s the ending.

No, not Voldemort’s second-coming; that sequence is great… although it’s hard to screw something like that up. Plus, we get to watch Edward Robert Pattinson die. The Barty Crouch interrogation is alright too. I’m talking about what happens afterwards.

As bad as the book is, it makes you want to read the next one. Dumbledore gathers all the players in his office, and though it is not mentioned by name, the Order of the Phoenix is reactivated. Dumbledore sends Hagrid and Madaam Maxine after the giants. Ron’s parents are to muster “the old crowd.” And best of all, Sirius Blank and Severus Snape are forced to face each other and shake hands. You can’t tell me Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman staring each other down wouldn’t have been great on camera.

I've got 3 to 1 on Commissioner Gordon

Instead, we get Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanging sugar-sweet sentiment, culminating with Harry delivering a zero-context quote from Dumbledore (which Dumbledore never says, books or movies): “We have something worth fighting for.” What? The ending of Goblet of Fire is like asking for dinner and being served a chicken salad and walnut sandwich. All the elements of completeness are there, and yet… something is missing.

Coming Soon: 7 Things HP (Harry Potter) Got Right

Possibly Coming Soon: 7 Things HP (Hewlett Packard) Consistently Gets Wrong

…kidding. However:

Actually Coming Soon: The Interrogation (A new short fiction piece)