Category Archives: Ashley

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

The Tales of Beedle the Bard: These Tales Are for CHILDREN!?

Beedle and his "luxurious beard."

Beedle and his historically accurate “luxurious beard.”

As a kid, my favorite thing in the world was to read fairy-tales and fables. I couldn’t get enough of them. At one point, I think I had actually read every single book in my local library that contained anything remotely like a fairy-tale. So yeah I’m automatically going to like this, but add in that it’s an extension of the Harry Potter universe, and that each story is followed by pages of ‘commentary’ discovered after Dumbledore’s death means I’m going to LOVE it. They also come with Jo’s own hand-drawn illustrations, so bonus! (If I ever got my hands on one of Jo’s hand-inked leather-bound editions, I think my brain might explode.) I know this is technically a re-read, but if you’re like Jennie and haven’t read it before (see below), you should track down a copy and read it. It won’t even take you an hour.  –Ashley

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Product_The_Tales_of_Beedle_the_Bard_Harry_Potter_Series_J_K_Rowling_4_2115769286“The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” — Lindsay

A wizard is left a pot by his deceased father, and inside is a small, single slipper. The Muggles of the town come to the wizard in hopes that he would be as kind as his father, but he sends them all away. The Hopping Pot manifests each of the townspeople’s ailments that the wizard refuses to help. By the time the wizard has had enough, the pot does all sorts of nasty things: vomiting, spitting slugs, braying like a donkey, clacking around on its single brass foot, and it’s totally covered in warts. Finally, the wizard goes to the townspeople and offers his services, and the Hopping Pot offers up his slipper for his obnoxious foot.

Obviously, this is a story for young wizards about using magic for good. The interesting thing is that it was actually taken out of existence later because it was so pro-Muggle. It’s sort of depressing that a story that had such an important message was destroyed because of prejudices against Muggles. Perhaps JKR was making a censorship statement with this add-on.

While this is a wizard fairy tale, we Muggles can have our own moral of the story: use our lives for good. All too often we go through our days wrapped up in our own problems that we can’t see the suffering of others. I’m not even talking about the obvious stuff- homeless on the street corners, sick person in my hospital bed. Suffering is often much more abstract and not worn like a t-shirt. Just as the wizard can make a Muggles’ day better by easily curing warts, we can easily make someone’s day even just a little bit better. It doesn’t require money or a ton of work or a bleeding heart liberal view- it may just takes a simple smile or a sincere thank you. A little bit often goes a long way. We are all fragile beings. We should act more like a team, rather than every Muggle for himself.
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Quidditch Through The Ages: 25 Things You Never Knew You Always Wanted To Know About Quidditch

quidditch

“The definitive work on the origins and history of Quidditch. Highly recommended.” — Brutus Scrimgeour, author, The Beater’s Bible

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25 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT QUIDDITCH

1. Why brooms? — Mr. Whisp traces the evolution of the modern flying broomstick to two primary sources:

a) The need for a bewitched object capable of providing flight to those wizards not bird animagi (animagi themselves being rare, those with flight capability even more so). “No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form,” he writes, and wizards who are transfigured (by their will or no) into flying creatures like birds or bats, find themselves with the brain of that animal as well, which one imagines might limit the experience; and b) Any object bewitched for flight would need to be discreet and easy to hide, and the portability and inexpensive nature of the broomstick lent itself to the task as well. There is no record of the first person to bewitch a broomstick.

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2. Imagine the splinters. — Early broomsticks were neither aerodynamic nor comfortable. They also had limited movability: up, down and stop were pretty much it.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 34-35: Valar Morghulis

So I’m just straight up going to tell you that when I went to start my post for these chapters — almost two weeks ago — I panicked. Utterly.

It seemed like such a great idea six months ago to assign myself two of my favorite chapters in the entire series, the chapters that probably mean the most to me personally, and the chapters that cemented my love for this series not just because they represent the beginning of the end of something that I love, but because they hit me in a place I normally hide even from myself. And they hit me there hard.

I also questioned my decision to put these chapters together (a decision I made more than six months ago), but when I remembered that I had done so because both are pretty short, it made sense. Unfortunately for Present Ashley, Past Ashley wasn’t thinking through the emotional implications, and Present Ashley is having to deal with the fallout.

All that is to say: bear with me if I start blathering.

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dh.c34--the-forest-againCHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: THE FOREST AGAIN

In many ways, the internet is a wonderful place. But it’s also a very large place. When I went looking for a couple of interviews I’d read or seen with JK Rowling in order to properly write this post, I couldn’t find them. Not even evidence that they ever really existed anywhere except my head. So I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you these things (and as Dumbledore says in the next chapter, just because it’s in my head, why on earth should that mean it’s not real?).

When I first started reading Harry Potter back in 1999, I was drawn to it against my will, and once I was in — sucked into that very special imaginary place only really great books can bring you, where you actually and truly forget that what you’re reading is not real, forget that you’re even reading in the first place — I never really questioned the experience. It was only years later when I was called upon to put into words just exactly WHY I had taken this story so far inside of myself that I’d essentially spliced it into my DNA that I realized I didn’t actually know why it was that this story about an orphaned boy who discovers he’s a wizard was so important to me. I’m the kind of person who takes stories way more seriously than most people to begin with, but my feelings for this story a kindhearted and sassy British woman thousands of miles away pulled out of her mind are seriously beyond the pale. And it’s really a hard thing to express to someone, that kind of love that is so strong it turns the thing being loved into something else, something that can’t really be expressed, but begs you to try anyway.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 20-21: I Made You a Fairy-Tale, But It’s Sad So I’m Sorry

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I read these chapters for the first time. It was the afternoon after the book had been released. I’d stayed up as late as I could stand the night before but only gotten about a chapter or two in before passing out — I’d worked the midnight release party at Barnes & Noble, which was horrible and tiring and stressful, and hadn’t gotten home until 2:30 AM. I’d also gotten a bit of a late start that morning. I don’t think I woke up until around 10 AM. So this is why I was only on chapter twenty at this point. So there I was, sitting on my kitchen floor (linoleum, covered by a rug I still own to this day, and that reallllly needs replacing). My butt hurt but I didn’t want to move. I was cooking one of those soup-in-a-bag things you can get at the grocery store. It was chili (I would never make this again, as a point of interest). I was wearing my favorite sweatpants and a U of A t-shirt. My mouth was probably open and drooling.

I suspect that I remember so much detail of this because these chapters instantly became one of my favorite things about this series. I LOVE fairy-tales. I can remember where I was and what I was doing while reading other books for the first time, but I’m pretty sure this is the only instance in my memory that I can remember individual chapters. Anyway, all that is to say I totally assigned myself these chapters, but now that I’m confronted with writing about them, I find myself completely incable of expressing exactly what it is I love about them.

So I re-interpreted them as a fairy-tale instead. No idea how this is going to turn out.

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dh.c21--tale-of-the-three-brothersCHAPTER TWENTY: XENOPHILIUS LOVEGOOD &
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: THE TALE OF THE THREE BROTHERS

Once there was a man who loved his daughter very much.

This man, who possessed the unlikely name of Xenophilius Lovegood, was not like other men. Other men loved their daughters, for sure, and other men had professions that made them proud, woke them up in the morning, and gave them energy for the day. Other men like a nice cuppa and a long sit. So, yes, if we must be honest, he was like other men in some ways. All men are like all men at their elements. But we are not speaking of elements. We are speaking of Mr. Lovegood, and what made Mr. Lovegood different from most men is that he possessed the rare ability to believe in that for which there is no proof. To really and truly believe.

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