The First Cold Night, and oh yeah, more Harry Potter


Yesterday I had a very enjoyable evening. The temperature dropped precipitously this week, and last night was the first really cold night of the winter. My house has two-zone heating, owing to the laziness of whatever contractor built the addition in 1965 if you ask me, and I don’t heat the living room. I didn’t check the thermostat, but it was very cold. I braved much colder air to go outside and bring in some wood from the woodpile. The oak on the far right side of the rack has been drying out there for almost 7 years, so it burns readily and very hot. I built a roaring fire, piling the logs 3-high when it really got going. It warmed my small living room nicely, and I stretched out on the sofa and read.

Harry Potter, of course—book 4, which I’m about a third of the way through. The students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are just now arriving. Since the book is more than 700 pages long, I knew up front that the movie had to have contained only the basic plot. Sure enough, while both the book and the movie start with Harry’s nightmare, I was disappointed when he woke up at the Dursley’s in the book instead of at the Weasley’s, as in the movie. Even in this fourth book the humor involving the Dursley’s (Dudley’s on a diet now) is cartoonish, and mildly funny at best. The stories don’t really get going until Harry steps out of the muggle world.

Of course in this book the kids attend the Quidditch World Cup before going back to school, and I have to say, that entire episode benefited from being cut short in the movie. Not that it was bad; I’m speaking relatively here. The post-game scene was much more menacing when we saw Harry get separated from his friends and knocked out. Oh great—like he isn’t vulnerable enough when he’s conscious. Replace this with talk, talk, talk, as attempts are made to pin the Dark Mark first on the kids then on a house elf, and the scene in the book just can’t compare.

But they all finally got on the Hogwart's Express and I was suddenly back in the story again. And from that point on I started enjoying this book tremendously—more than I’ve enjoyed any of the books so far. This book has the most and best humor, and I laughed out loud repeatedly. Being fourth years, the kids know the professors well enough to deal accordingly. I laughed when Ron and Harry shoved their star charts aside and did their divination homework by predicting a month of unmitigated disaster—Harry’s culminating in his own death by beheading—for which they both received “full marks”. I laughed again when the students got serious about their study of antidotes—homework for Potions class—after hearing the rumor that Snape was planning to poison one of them.

And I love Mad-Eye Moody. I’m searching for the perfect picture of Mad-Eye to replace Dr. Strangelove as the wallpaper on the computer in my office.

It helps that I can finally see Harry in the story and hear him speaking the lines. Watching just a half hour of the movie before starting the book seems to have worked, and I wish I’d done it with the first three. When I come across references to black hair or green eyes now my brain just says “brown…blue…” and goes happily on.

July 2012

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