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Literary Boondoggle
Friday, July 25, 2003   |    Fiction

A Muggle’s Guide to the World of Harry Potter

by Pierre Cavanaugh

Written by a guy who never read the books or watched the films, but is pretty good at figuring things out.

Ah, the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry! That J. K. Simmons really transports us into a delusional fantasy world of complex and intricate magic and mayhem. But so many funny names! How does the new reader sort what’s what in the mystical world of Harry Potter voodoo?

Well, to start, there’ good old H.P. himself, a precocious little tyke with poor vision and messy hair. But do not underestimate Harry—he’s a powerful wizard, skilled in voodoo, hoodoo, Santeria, Satanic sacrificial orgies, Kabbalah, and Svengali mind mesmerism. The source of Harry’s vast powers is that snazzy yellow-and-red striped scarf that was so popular at the Gap last winter. Harry also uses a magic wand and a magic broom. Both of these are wooden sticks. Critics have pointed to J.K.’s phallic obsession, but really, what could be more innocent than an innocuous wooden stick? Besides, in the Harry Potter world, it is surmised that mankind and wizardfolk alike evolved from wooden sticks millions of years ago, hence our straight spines and our fear of fire.

For pets, Harry keeps lots of owls, because owls are creepy-looking and nocturnal, and magic is nothing but nighttime creepiness. Also, owls have the ability to turn their heads ¾ of the way around. This is very cool and also slightly useful, as it helps them catch and eat small crawling things like bugs, mice, and other small woodland creatures that Richard Gere would catch if only he could turn his head toward his backside.

I’m not sure how Tootsie Roll Pops or potato chips fit into the equation, but owls are supposedly wise. It is said they are the professors of the forest. I once had an economics professor who lived in the forest. He did a lot of crystal meth. They put him on a forced “leave of absence.” If he was so wise, he’d probably have stayed in a cheap hotel, at the very least.

Harry Potter engages in varsity athletics at his wizardry school. He plays sky soccer on his flying broom. This is a good thing. High-school athletics teach the values of teamwork, of eye-hand coördination, of good sportsmanship, and of locker-room cussin’ and spittin’. These are all important elements of becoming a man, and, probably, of becoming a wizard, too. Whatever. Mostly, flying sky soccer is good for picking up the wizard cheerleader chicks.

Dumbledore is the old Merlin-like wizard that hangs out with Harry. He’s ten thousand years old and can create beautiful works of magical art by dipping his beard into watercolors and then thrashing his head about in front of a large canvas or a blank wall. Also, he ingests enough crystal meth to kill a medium-sized Latino family. (Just like my economics professor!) Sometimes, Dumbledore will disappear for weeks at a time on a crystal-meth bender, which is very disappointing to Harry and the other kids who do rely on Dumbledore as their only decent hookup for speed.

Harry also hangs out with a giant hairy monster named Roy. Roy has brightly colored plumage and can spit fire from his nose. Roy eats puppies and kittens and drinks Tang. He lives under the steps of Harry’s dormitory and Harry sometimes sneaks out half-eaten rolls from the dining hall to feed Roy. When Roy is feeling playful, he likes to sing TV jingles. He’s got a mezzo-soprano singing voice, even though when he speaks he sounds exactly like a garbage disposal sucking up glass. Often, Harry accompanies Roy’s songs by playing the loot and/or lyre. These are the most magical of all instruments. Sometimes, Lurch from “The Addams Family” makes crossover guest appearances and joins in on the harpsichord. This instrument is not magical but sounds like an angel singing.

Harry Potter’s world is filled with goblins and gremlins and elves and dwarves and hobbits and leprechauns and other magical creatures that keep midget actors and makeup artists employed. Sure, they are all short, sprightly, and have pointy ears, but there are vast differences between the various mini-species: goblins, for example, are good, while gremlins are evil. Elves are gay. Dwarves are only useful as an ingredient in super-spicy wizard chili. Actually, all these diminutive creatures are pretty much the same. They all taste good! A popular wizard dish is Shrimpy Halfling Jambalaya. Just take any combination of leprechauns, goblins, elves, whatever, and throw them into a big cauldron. Add some mustard and whatever smoky potions are kept in test tubes and garnish with parsley. Voilà!—a delicious, nutritious meal. Serves six.

So, in conclusion, wizardry is some very tricky stuff, and not to be taken lightly. Also, crystal meth. Tricky stuff, do not take lightly.

Pierre Cavanaugh can be seen on Provo's public-access Channel 6 on Sunday mornings, where he hosts his very own cable show called "Cavanaugh's Corner," a talk/variety show in homage to his favorite musical group, Dawn (feat. Tony Orlando). He doesn't believe in society's conventions and, as such, refuses to put his pants on one leg at a time. He sits on his bed, puts both legs in, slides the pants up to the base of his ass, jumps off the bed and yanks his pants up to his waist. He buttons them to conclude the process, but frequently forgets to zipper his fly. He lives in suburban Draper, Utah, with his wife and infant son. (Don't think he missed the opportunity to make a bigamy joke here. He simply passed on it, but feel free to make one yourself.)