Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief as Experienced by Me Reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Avast! Spoiler Warning
If you’re of the sort who gets all pissy about cats being let out of bags.
Um, also, we should point out that the author, Ms. Verlizzo, did not forewarn the noble Y.P.R. editors and thus ruined the book for us before we cracked its spine. If anyone would like to purchase an unopened copy of H.P.A.T.H.B.P., please send a nickel.

652 pages. Six hundred and fifty-two. After Order of the Phoenix’s 870 pages, I suppose this is light reading. Then I remember that I forgot the entire content of the blue-covered book having whipped through it two long summers ago. I can’t go back to it, yet I’m having problems moving forward. Harry is no longer my sweet little boy wizard and I cannot deal with this. He is captain of the Quidditch team and discussing his future as Auror. He is starting to have very teenage daydreams about witches. This isn’t happening. One day he is innocently scarfing Chocolate Frogs, the next he must battle evil incarnate or die. And then, 596 pages later, as I’ve slowly moved towards acceptance of our Harry on the cusp of adult wizardhood, THE death occurs. My eyes repeatedly scan the words “Avada Kedavra!,” the death curse uttered by Snape to Dumbledore. Surely, it is a mirage. Ms. Rowling is playing tricks with my mind. Those words only appear because I’ve been reading for seventeen straight hours and my mind can no longer process the English language. Our beloved headmaster isn’t dead; he’s just sleeping.

Our beloved headmaster is dead. Now I’m pissed. Regardless of Snape’s hateful attitude toward Harry and preference for that snot-nosed, bleached-blond pretty boy Malfoy, Dumbledore trusted him. I TRUSTED HIM. How, for the past sixteen years, has Snape followed Dumbledore’s gentle yet firm orders, only to ruthlessly murder this most loyal and highly skilled wizard? A wizard that gave him a job and a home at Hogwarts when he could have, should have turned him away? Snape infuriates me: I always thought he was way too creepy cute in the movies not to do his part in eliminating evil. This seriously screws with my view of controlling, sullen, slightly disturbing, deep-voiced men. I start to question everyone who has ever promised me anything and snap at anyone who asks if I’ve finished the book yet.

If anyone can bring Dumbledore back it’s you, Harry, our hero. Didn’t you learn some anti-jinxes in Defense against the Dark Arts? Can’t you get that brainiac Hermione to mix up a potion? Conjure a Patronus, channel your dead dad, do whatever it takes for five more minutes with Dumbledore! Go get Fawkes, the beautiful phoenix with the healing tears! He can blubber all over Dumbledore until he rises again, stronger than ever. Dumbledore’s silvery beard will glisten in the moonlight; his eyes will shine behind his half-moon spectacles. With boundless authority he will impart on us his wizardly wisdom so we can rest easy, knowing full well Hogwarts is safe under his watch.

I am never reading again. Harry has nobody. First, his parents are killed and he is left in the negligent care of the Dursleys. Had Harry lived in America, Child Protective Services would have most definitely removed him from that household. Then Sirius, Harry’s godfather and the only parental figure he has ever known, was knocked off. Dumbledore is gone, and before long Ron and Hermione will give in to their adolescent desires and catch up on six lost years of snogging. All Harry has left is to single-handedly save the entire world without getting himself killed. This reminds me of how dreary our non-magical universe is and how we face mostly grim prospects by trying to help our fellow man. Damn you, Rowling.

Dumbledore did not die in vain; we can seek comfort in our memories and well-worn copies of the first six books. Dumbledore coached Harry through some of the darkest periods of his young life. Perhaps Snape will even prove himself good somewhere in his seemingly blackened heart. After all, he had ample opportunity to kill Harry and never did. Maybe Snape will even penetrate the circle of dark wizards and use this knowledge to help defeat them. I accept that J. K. Rowling wants to put us, faithful readers, in her trusting embrace of Harry’s future, where there is always hope. I accept that even though this is the only series of sci-fi/fantasy books I have ever read, I became somewhat of a sci-fi/fantasy dork because of it. I accept that Book Seven may be the answer to our questions. I don’t know if I can accept that I may have to wait three years to find out.

Lauren Verlizzo is a teacher recovering from an injury, about which she writes lots of angst-ridden journal entries. She has never been published, except for a poem about monkeys in her sixth-grade literary journal and a heartwrenching letter to the editor in the November 1, 2004, edition of New York magazine.

The New Harry Potter Book, as Dictated by My Boss, Brian Schmutto

Memo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Guy.

.K., O.K., O.K., I know it’s five o’clock, but seriously, they needed this yesterday. This will take less than a minute, I swear to you, so let’s bang this out real quick right now, O.K.? Great—hold on—(Into cellphone:) Jimmy! Hi! I was just going to call you! Yeah, she’s faxing it to you right now, right this second. Of course I’m sure. O.K. (hangs up) O.K., so what do we have so far? Right, O.K., so. Ahhhhhhhhm. Ahhhhhhh, O.K., so we got Voldemort, right, the Death Eaters, you got that part already, right? What do you mean? Haven’t you been listening? O.K., fine, so Voldemort and the death eaters and the Dementors, terrorizing London, yada yada. Make it sound really good, really creepy. Everyone’s scared, you know, make it scary. O.K. Ahhhhhhhhhhm. Uhhhhhhhhhh. O.K., then, or, first, before that, Ralph Scrimihumma, right, Rufus, that’s what I said, becomes the Minister of Magic—Oh, and you got the thing with Weasley and What’sherface, Hillary? Right, Hermione, that’s what I said. We’ve got to make this good, so do you think you could please try to pay attention? Oh, but first, we gotta get in the thing about Harry’s textbook, all the special spells, the Half-Blood Prince thingy, right, transcription, fine. See, at the end of this, it’s going to be great, there’s the Dark Mark over Hogwarts, and What’shisface gets killed, ooh, you’ll love it, very scary, it’s great. O.K., O.K. You know, you really should have had this to Jimmy already, like, yesterday. Ahhhhhhhhh, oh you got the thing about schmeckle, right, you know, whaddycallit, Snape, Severus Snape, right? Jesus, Shirley, are you even listening? Could you try to get this down? (Into cellphone:) Jimmy! You didn’t? I’ll have Shirley fax it again—she’s useless! (Hangs up.) I’m kidding, you’re great. O.K., where were we, ahhhhhhhhhhm, O.K., do a chart here. Can we do it Excel? O.K., so it’s Voldemort’s four horcruxes that must be destroyed, and then like a chart and pie chart or something. Fine, O.K. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhh. Then, it turns out that Fleineyfloo, Whatshisname, Alan Rickman, he’s the Half-Blood Prince. Brilliant, isn’t it? And then, wait, you got the part with the Malfoy kid and how he’s in cahoots with, you know, Schmuterbub, Whathisname, right? That’s crucial, Shirley, please try to pay attention. O.K., get Jimmy on the phone right now. O.K., and you’re getting this, right, so Hogwart’s all messed up, it’s perfect, we leave room for another sequel. I’m good, right? Good enough, fine, O.K., so read that back to me.
Amy Shearn’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Passages North, 3rdBed, Lyric Review, Surgery of Modern Warfare, Zulkey.com, GutCult, and elsewhere. Also, she can touch her nose with her tongue.

E BOARDS THE TRAIN, and shoves through the pulsing and chattering river of students to his compartment. Ron is there. Hermione is there. Ron is too long and too tall for his robes and Ron is hungry because Ron is poor. Hermione studies. Somewhere in a summer land infertile for lessons Hermione has found something to study and so she studies and she does not look up. She does not look up. Outside the sweets trolley bangs and the train begins to move. Wheels slot to rail scream like a mother screams protecting her infant from murder as she is murdered in turn. The wheels scream like a man struck by a curse reversed. The trolley bangs and a prefect glowers but the attendant has long put away respect for the badges of children.

The Houses gather and meals appear and the sausages’ skins are split down to their essence of greasy dead flesh. Fricative shoulders and the babble of students but Harry is alone. He rubs the scar he carries that is a portal to the Dark Lord himself and he is alone. Neville has managed to transfigure his fingers into gardenias and he shrieks as if the Crucio curse has driven him insane. Hermione flicks her wand and Neville is happy because Neville now has fingers and he plunges them into the greasy dead flesh of the sausages. Luna’s eyes bulge and Harry sees the world reflected there, stretched and maimed nearly beyond recognition.

Harry stirs his cauldron but does not understand and Snape stalks his class and is pleased that Harry does not understand. Ron whispers about quidditch because Ron always discusses quidditch. When the Dark Lord returns he will pluck Ron’s liver with his gory talons and Ron will scream. He will scream about quidditch. Hermione is perfect and her work is perfect and the potion within her cauldron is perfect. It stirs itself as she stares at it and she does not blink. She does not blink. Snape arrives and he glances into Harry’s cauldron. Snape sneers. Fifty points from Gryffindor. Draco and Goyle gibber laughter. Goyle’s head is a pumpkin carved by an idiot and Draco’s teeth are wealthy and white and should be fangs but they are not fangs. They are not fangs.

Dumbledore is dead. Sirius Black is dead. Harry’s parents are long dead and the dead outweigh the living. Voldemort was once dead, but is no longer dead. The grass is dead but it is winter and the grass will return. It will return. Cho passes and says why are you out here alone? Harry can not explain and Cho is pleased he can not explain because Cedric Diggory is dead and in her onyx heart she blames Harry that Cedric is dead. Harry’s eyes tilt skyward to the gathering dusk and he says Voldemort is coming and Cho says that’s why I no longer snog you because you are such a downer.

John Jasper Owens lives in the South, and was not named after the painter, although thank you for your concern. When not fending off satire groupies, he shamelessly attempts to raise enough money to get married by offering unpublished fiction and humor at low, low prices.

Things I've Learned about the Harry Potter Series from the Online Slash Community

Harry Potter is a gay cutter who does hard drugs and has flings with all of his teachers.

Harry and Draco Malfoy are in a relationship. They frequently have anal sex. Draco is the “bottom.”

At one point, Lucius Malfoy—Draco Malfoy’s father—is in denial about his son’s sexuality, and takes him to a strip club to make him “straight again.”

Harry is the son of Dracula, and also Batman, making him one-quarter vampire, one-quarter superhero, and one-half boy wizard.

Bunnyfucking Harry Potter artwork by Bryan Danknich, FM Magazine.

Severus Snape—a talented potionist—perfects a concoction that allows men to become pregnant. Harry Potter, after drinking said potion, grows a womb and bears his first child, Alex (sired by Draco Malfoy).

Magneto from the X-Men comics plays an important role in the novels.

Harry sleeps with Seamus Finnigan, an old classmate who’s renting a loft in New York City above a flower shop. Since his time at Hogwarts, Finnigan has become a junkie.

In order to find a cure for lycanthropy, Severus Snape is forced to have sex with a werewolf.

Harry Potter, after traveling back to the 18th century, sleeps with a crew of pirates. He then transports to the Korean War, where he is wounded by shrapnel and taken to the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital 4077. There, he interacts with characters from the popular television show M*A*S*H.

Lord Voldemort (some evil wizard) casts an obscure sex-slave curse over Harry Potter after imprisoning him.

Draco Malfoy, at the age of 24, is married to a woman and well respected within his upper-class community, but is in denial of his homosexuality.

Harry and Severus Snape frequently shower together.

After a few weeks of excruciating stomach pains, Sirius Snape takes a pregnancy test and finds out that he’s going to have Remus Lupin’s child. Four months later, he gives birth to a black puppy. This is because Remus Lupin is a werewolf.

Ron Weasley, after a one-night stand, knocks up Draco Malfoy, who, after eight months of pregnancy, knocks up Harry Potter. The two ensuing children become best friends, wizards, and finally, lovers.

Harry Potter has breasts.

Zachary Vora is the celebrated author of The Pig Fuckery—a New York Times best seller—and its lackluster sequel Gettin’ Fuckety: A Choose Your Own Fuck-venture.

Happy Bastille Day! Reprinting some of Y.P.R.'s Francophilia.
Sheen Machine: Every Single Episode of Two and a Half Men Since the CBS sitcom is on hiatus in wake of Mr. Sheen's galactic shitshow, Y.P.R. hereby republishes all 177 episodes of ribald mediocrity, handily condensed into one easy page.
Money-Saving Holiday Shopping Tips from the Wizard of Oz I AM OZ, THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE. Those who come before me cannot help but to cower and quail at my flaming visage. But I still have limits on my credit cards, and during these recessionary times, even mighty despots with enormous Heads have to count their pennies.



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