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HomeOpinionThe Papa Files: A Magical Month

The Papa Files: A Magical Month

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I accidentally watched all eight Harry Potter movies.  Noticing disparities, I then reread the books.  I bought and read them as they came out, and I was satisfied, though I’m sure ultra fans would have preferred a series of novels that included K-12.

There are seven books, but eight movies; the seventh book was split in two.  We saw them all on the big screen at the local theater, and I remember eating my popcorn and Junior Mints, plus some communal Milk Duds, only during the scenes of meals at the long tables—I was so mesmerized.  I experienced the same sense of munchies while reading the books, often getting snacks and even eating leftovers while reading about breakfast, lunch, supper/dinner, and feasts at Hogwarts, as well as the food cart on the train.  Some of my books have spots on them.

The reason I watched the movies is that they were on TV, all eight, one after the other in order.  Desperate to plan for something to watch in the future, I set my DVR to record them.  I had been recording only movies then, mainly of the animated kind, from Toy Story to Coco, and some real oldies, about seventy Laurel and Hardy’s.

I actually had no intention of ever watching the Potter movies again until early one morning, when I was rapidly thumbing through the channels to escape the news, I spotted the first movie on another channel, and stopped to watch.  It was a scene involving Snape.  Curious as to what had happened before, I pushed play on my recording of The Sorcerer’s Stone, watched it, and then watched Chamber of Secrets, I couldn’t help it, and next, I watched Prisoner of Azkaban without even realizing I’d fingered the necessary buttons.  Before I knew it, it was three in the morning and had to force myself to go to bed.  The next day I watched the last two and fast-forwarded through some of the wandering scenes.  And the very end was disappointingly brief, as I remembered at the theater, especially because of Rowling’s TV interview about her having writing it at the very beginning, so long ago, and therefore I expected more.  But all told, they are very good movies.

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The books are better, of course.  (Four and Five should have been three movies each.)  Do you know who Frank Bryce is?  His backstory?  What charm did Hermione use on fake Galleons so that Dumbledore’s Army knew when to meet in the Room of Requirement?  The books are full of ingenious details.  But the last one was a bit anticlimactic.  Did the elves go back to the kitchen?  Did the centaurs let Firenze back into the Forbidden Forest?  Did Hagrid ever finally civilize Grawp?  And what did Harry and the others wind up doing for a living?  Did they go back and finish their seventh year, or did they receive honorary completions?  (Yes, yes, Nevil became a professor.)  The epilogue, Nineteen Years Later, should have been nineteen short chapters, one for each year.  They could even be written as a continuation of Bathilda Bagshot’s A History of Magic, or even Hogwarts, A History.  And as far as I’m concerned, the houses should have been renamed after the teenaged destroyers of Horcruxes: Potter, Weasley, Granger, and Longbottom.

In the middle of the Goblet of Fire, I decided to make a tabletop bookstand so I could take that thick book out of the bathroom and read it comfortably on my office desk.  I didn’t design it on paper, I just cut some wood, drilled some holes, and screwed it all together.  Somehow, almost magically, it wound up at a forty-five-degree angle, perfect.  (I plan to cover it with sticky-back green felt.)  Oh, I still read in the bathroom, but not as much, and read during commercials in my recliner, and read till midmorning in bed.  And one time I set my bookstand on the kitchen counter and read while cooking.  I nearly burned the onions and bell peppers.

I must complain about the binders who made the books.  I don’t know what RR Donnelly did, but all the books except year five have warped after only two readings—me and my wife when they first came out.  The spines are distorted, leaning over from back to front.  It doesn’t interfere with reading, but it looks bad on the shelf.  I think the glue was unevenly applied.

O, it was a magical month, watching and then reading J. K. Rowling’s famous works.  But now it’s back to autobiographies.  I think I’ll start with “A Book” by Desi Arnaz.


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