Transcript – Episode 149

[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 149 of Alohomora! for August 8, 2015.

[Show music continues]

Michael: Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet’s global reread of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull.

Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard.

Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller.

Michael: And what’s happening today, you guys?

Kat: Holy crap, we’re wrapping up Half-Blood Prince.

Alison: Already. So fast.

Michael: I don’t believe you.

Kat: It’s… I’m a little… wow. Wow. A little wow.

Michael: Yeah. Just like Harry, we are in super denial, right?

Kat: Ugh.

Eric: Mixed feelings, guys. Mixed feelings on this.

Kat: Yeah, I agree. It’s such a good book. Well, I mean, we’ll at least get to watch the movie together on Saturday.

Michael: Yes.

Eric: Woo!

Kat: Which is when this episode comes out, so if by some miracle this episode gets out before Saturday, August 8 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: … you guys can all grab your movies and join us for the global movie watch, and then the live show immediately after.

Michael: Or you might already be there.

Kat: Yeah, or you’re listening to this episode a week, three weeks, a month, two years later, ten years later…

Eric: And then you’ve missed it.

Kat: You’ve definitely missed it, sorry.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: You definitely missed it. There will not be a watch on Saturday.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: But guys, going back to the books – Book 6 being what it is, probably my second favorite book – it indicates that there is only one book left after this.

[Kat cries]

Eric: So we’re actually quite a ways through our global reread.

Alison: Ahh!

Eric: It seems like only last weekend we were wrapping up Order of the Phoenix.

Kat: I know. It’s been – I think I counted today – 30 weeks since we started.

Eric: Yeah.

Alison: January 2. I looked today.

Eric: It has actually been 30 weekends.

Kat: Yup.

Eric: It feels like only yesterday.

Kat: Indeed. Oh, God, three… let’s see, we started in April 2012, so we’re coming up on three and a half years.

Alison: Wow.

Eric: Nice. You know what else is coming up on an anniversary? That other podcast that I’m on. MuggleCast is celebrating ten. Big 1-0. Ten.

Kat: Yeah, technically tomorrow, right? The seventh?

Eric: The seventh? Yes. And the reason I remember that, too, is because this book that we’re closing today spawned that podcast, basically.

Kat: Oh.

Eric: Only two [or] three weeks after it came out, MuggleNet decided to test the waters on podcasting, and we’ve been doing it ever since.

Kat: Yay!

Alison: Woo!

Eric: Yeah, it’s really cool. So it’s great, ten years down the line from when this book was released, to still be talking about it, to still be theorizing…. and every time we get on, every time I sit down for an episode of Alohomora!, I see or hear or read something that makes me think in a way that I have never thought before. And as an example, we’re going to get into now some of the recap comments from our discussion on last week’s Alohomora!

Kat: Our last recap! Ahh!

Eric: The last recap of Book 6. Ring the bell, ring the bell.

Kat: Ding, ding, ding, ding…

Eric: Bang the gong.

Michael: Not that this is where the conversation ends or anything.

Kat: Right, no.

Eric: No, no, no. We’ll be talking about these movies… these books for a long time.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: We’ll be talking about these movies on Saturday.

Kat: Right.

Eric: But yes. Okay, so back to the book on the last chapter of Half-Blood Prince, which was Chapter 30. Our first recap comment comes from username WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock?

Eric and Michael: “Who do you know who’s lost a buttock?”

Eric: Okay, they say,

“I always loved the Dumbledore line about how old age is foolish indeed when it forgets what it is like to be young – and yet, that’s a huge part of the books! We side with Harry, we feel that he should be told EVERYTHING, and in doing so we are betraying our biases and also regressing a bit in maturity levels.”

That’s a heck of an accusation.

“No adult would tell Harry everything, not even Dumbledore. The idea that just because he’s Harry Potter means that all adults believe him to be trustworthy is a bit silly. He’s still a teenager, who makes arguably dangerous, risky decisions a lot of the time. And he is a kid. There is so much in this series about adults and children and the relationships therein. I would invite those who believe that Harry should have just been told everything try to apply that rule to the children in their own lives and tell them every detail they know about everything their children ask, no matter how personal. The fictional gloss that comes with our love for Harry might rub off a bit.”

Kat: Ooh, ten points for snark. Nice.

Alison: Ugh.

Eric: I have never disagreed with a comment more on this show. [laughs]

Michael: Really?

Eric: Well, I don’t know about that, and it’s usually because I tend to be very agreeable when I read these. Yeah, but I don’t know, guys, I want to hear some of your thoughts on this before I lay it into this Buttock person.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: That was like a backwards sideways insult, I think.

Eric: No, no, no. It’s their awesome username. We love awesome usernames, and it’s part of these comments.

Michael: Lay it into this buttock.

Eric: But yes, please, somebody else go.

Alison: Yes, Dumbledore probably didn’t need to tell Harry everything. He still left out way too much critical information, and that’s a problem.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: I would say… because I think a lot of this comment stemmed from… I know you guys were discussing… there was some discussion about Harry’s accountability, and whether he’s a good leader, and the issues of, I think – especially from the Podcast Question of the Week last week – the trust issues in Harry, especially in terms of Sirius and what happened. And I think this question leads perfectly into… Alison, I agree with you in terms of… because I’m rereading; I’m reading ahead in Hallows right now.

[Kat gasps]

Michael: I know. Spoilers.

Eric: Scandalous!

Michael: It is, actually, because I haven’t read Hallows as much as the other ones. But I mean, you really realize just in the first… I’m around Chapter 10, 11, and [in] those first chapters, it’s amazing how many things Harry and the trio reel off that they’re like, “Wow, we actually have no idea what we’re about to do. And that we should know. Things that Dumbledore had really no reason not to tell us.” So yeah, I think I agree with Alison that there’s more that could’ve been said, but I still think… because we talked a little bit about Dumbledore at least keeping Snape’s personal stuff from Harry, and he did promise Snape that he would.

Alison and Eric: Yeah.

Kat: Mhm. I mean, in all honesty, I feel like the night they got back to Dumbledore’s office with the Horcrux, if Dumbledore hadn’t been killed, I feel like Harry would’ve been given additional information, like, “Okay, so here’s how we destroy this…”

Alison: Yeah, that’s probably true.

Kat: “… here’s how we do this, this, this, and this.” And Dumbledore just never got the chance.

Eric: It is too little too late, though. I mean, even the hand, which he noticed the first day he saw Dumbledore, was never properly addressed. That’s not Harry’s fault.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: No, it’s not, but Dumbledore has the right to hold back that information. It is his hand.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Well, so in getting on to my response to the comments; the attempt to discredit Harry as not being deserving of the information because he makes dangerous, risky decisions a lot of the time. I feel like a lot of the risky decisions he makes is because he doesn’t have the right information…

Michael: He’s not informed.

Alison: Exactly.

Eric: That’s just one point there. And second, I’m not saying he deserves to be told everything because he’s “Harry Freakin’ Potter.”

[Alison laughs]

Eric: I’m telling you he deserves it because it’s about him!

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: This information is directly relevant! It’s information about him. If I were in this situation, this hypothetical, of having to tell a child something private, something personal – if it impacted the way in which they’re going to have to face death one day – I would think that I would do the right thing and tell them that.

Alison: There’s also the fact that a lot of the times the reason Harry makes these risky decisions is because he doesn’t have all the information, so he’s going off what he knows and he makes some stupid decision once you have the whole picture, but he doesn’t know that.

Eric: Yeah. I have issues with – in the final chapter of Half-Blood – Harry not really opening up to Scrimgeour. I didn’t like that. I think maybe that would have been a perfect time to let bygones be bygones or something because Scrimgeour was, after all, an Auror and that’s exactly the sort of person that Harry should know more of right now. But the other way, the other direction of no adult is fully trusting Harry, I think that is a bad thing because they should be making as much serious effort to recruit him, and to basically comfort him because now he has just lost his only… his largest protector. So I don’t really agree that information should still be somehow kept from him. Certainly, if we’re talking about the events of Deathly Hallows, there’d be a lot less camping.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: But also, he finds out what he needs to know at the eleventh hour anyway.

Michael: Well, and as far as saying that we shouldn’t… taking it in terms of, “Well, think about the children in your life and would you tell them everything unfiltered?” I think Harry is in a particularly unique situation that most children hopefully would not find themselves in.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Like you said, Eric, it is all about him, and he’s fighting an adult’s fight.

Eric: Yeah, it’s not just that he’s an orphan. “Oh, be sad for the orphan; his parents fought the wizarding…”

Michael: No, no, absolutely not.

Eric: It’s not. It’s that he is the Boy Who Lived, and the Chosen One, and unfortunately… I know Dumbledore erred on the side of delicacy when telling him things, but that was the wrong choice. And Book 7 is all about how that was the wrong choice. I mean, Harry and them are really just angry at Dumbledore for not telling them more.

Michael: Well, and Dumbledore admits at the end of Book 5 that that was the wrong choice. But what’s interesting to me about that…

Eric: Well, then he continues to perpetuate it.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Michael: He doesn’t tell him the whole truth because the thing… this is why it’s so sad for me, leaving behind Half-Blood, because to me, Half-Blood delivers on the thing that Order promised to deliver on and didn’t, which is that Dumbledore is telling you everything, or at least some really, really intriguing essentials.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Because I think the Horcrux stuff is way more interesting than the Prophecy stuff because the Prophecy stuff is just to establish something that we the readers already know is going to happen, which is that Harry and Voldemort have to face off.

Eric: Right.

Michael: But the Horcrux stuff is just way richer material. But it’s almost like Dumbledore doesn’t want to share that until… he admits that he’s like, “I wasn’t really sure that this was it, so I didn’t want to share it because then I’d be proved wrong.”

Kat: Well, and I think he didn’t want to scare the crap out of Harry either, if he wasn’t right.

Alison: Oh, yeah.

Kat: I mean, I think that’s a legitimate concern for Dumbledore. Harry already has enough on his plate. Why put something else there that might not actually be anything?

Michael: I always felt like he had enough proof for the Horcrux stuff by that point.

Kat: Yeah, I mean, he probably did, but still. We have no idea what was going to happen the night that he died.

Michael: Yeah, no, fair enough.

Kat: And sure, he could have told him more, but I agree that he should not have told him everything.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Everything, more, big difference.

Michael: Yes.

Eric: Yeah. So thank you for that comment with a mixed bag of replies. WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock?, hopefully you enjoyed that.

Michael: You buttock, you!

Eric: Buttock! Next commenter: My Patronus is Leslie Knope.

Alison: This is my new favorite username.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: This is a long one; bear with me. They say,

“I love thinking about Harry and Ginny’s relationship in this book in relation to circle theory and relationships to books or texts as a whole. I find it so interesting that both ‘Chamber of Secrets’ and ‘Half-Blood Prince’ involve the idea of what I guess I’ll call ‘possessive’ texts in the form of Ginny’s literal possession by Riddle’s diary and Harry’s more symbolic one by Snape’s old copy of Advanced Potion Making. Both Harry and Ginny look to these texts for some sort of support and guidance (Ginny does so for more emotional purposes, and though Harry’s relationship to Advanced Potion Making is a practical one at first, it eventually becomes arguably an emotional tool as well when he wonders whether it belonged to James). I love the idea that one of the parallels between Ginny and Harry’s relationships to these books involves their pining for one another – Ginny uses the diary while she has a debilitating crush for Harry, and Harry finds the Prince’s book when that has finally come full circle, and he is developing feelings for Ginny. In a way, both texts end up being epistolary. Ginny writes to Riddle, and pieces of Snape’s scrawlings in ‘Advanced Potion Making,’ such as ‘Why not just stuff a bezoar down their throats?’ suggest an exchange – as if Snape wrote certain notes in the book expecting someone to pick it up and encounter them later. In a way, is ‘Advanced Potion Making’ a sort of diary for Snape that parallels Riddle’s? If Snape were to have a [H]orcrux, would ‘Advanced Potion Making’ be it, since he preserves a bit of himself within the pages? I suppose I am just fascinated with the idea of books being an extension of ourselves and then creating a sort of domino effect to reach others in the same way. I like to think it harks back to Jo creating the series as an extension of herself and then us readers consuming the novels voraciously, thus making them extensions of us as well.”

Michael: That parallel is briefly touched upon when Ginny admonishes Harry, right, a little bit for… reminding him that that’s what Riddle’s diary did to her.

Alison and Eric: Yeah.

Michael: I like the idea that that’s… and that moment is supposed to be a moment in the books that strengthens the relationship between them, I guess. But I like the idea because it’s a great concept. In a way, I almost feel like it’s not fleshed out enough.

Kat: Hmm. Yeah, I agree.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: The potential is lost to use this to bond Harry and Ginny together more, perhaps.

Alison: Well, I think it’s interesting that when Harry does have to hide the Potions book, it’s Ginny [who] stands up for him using things from it. Which, if we’re taking this parallel, it is an interesting thing for her to do considering her history with Riddle’s diary.

Michael: Yeah, well, and again, also referencing, she does… I’m right, right? In saying that earlier in the book where Hermione is admonishing Harry about the book, Ginny says, “listening to a book that thinks for itself” or something like that.

Alison: Uh-huh.

Michael: So yeah, it is funny that she has that turn to defend the book. And I mean, she reasonably defends it, considering that it was used by Harry to defend himself from Malfoy hurting him with an Unforgivable.

Eric: I like the idea, and I do appreciate that the books we read are extensions of ourselves. Because if you look at all of my original Harry Potter books with their broken spines [laughs] from how often I read them…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: … I would… I mean, Horcruxes are too dark a think to turn them into, but I loved them, and I loved them really hard.

Michael: Oh, yeah. I think that’s a great idea, that the books… Rowling, I think, always… especially through Hermione, but I think we see that a lot throughout the series, that there is a great importance placed on reading and books. She very much values knowledge via books.

Eric: Or misinformation via printed form. Very powerful, a book.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. With Rita Skeeter and the Daily Prophet versus Tales of Beedle the Bard and things comparing those things together and the untrustworthy narrators of Riddle and Snape. Yeah, absolutely. But as far as the Ginny relationship, yeah, like I said, I think it is a great concept that’s not pulled upon enough for the two of them because Alison, you guys were talking last week so much about how you loved that ending with Ginny and Harry. I don’t. [laughs] So…

Alison: Oh, dear.

Michael: It’s not my favorite, and I wish… because the moments we see in Half-Blood, I think, are some of the best where Ginny and Harry relate to each other based on their prior experiences, including this one, but they never..i I don’t know. They just never get fleshed out enough for me, which is why I’d smash down my Thor cup and say “another,” so…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah, it just happened a little too late. A little too late.

Alison: Well, it’s also… we only…

Eric: Well, it has been happening for weeks. When Harry takes her aside, he’s like, “These past ten weeks have been like something out of a dream.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Where were we when this was happening?

Alison: Well, I think the thing with Harry and Ginny is that, as a reader, we only really get to see the very beginning of their romantic relationship and then once it’s been fully established in the epilogue. So I think there’s so much time in between that we don’t see [when] I think these things get developed more during that time.

Michael: Yeah, because I think the narration… because I was reading… there’s a little more of it at the beginning of Deathly Hallows when Harry is around Ginny, and it’s in a similar vein to Half-Blood, where it continually implies that pretty much all Harry and Ginny did when they were hanging out was have makeout sessions.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: And that’s what the narration suggests. And I think at the same time, though, there was an attempt to develop that Ginny and Harry have a pretty good rapport with each other where they can do things beyond making out.

Kat: So let me bring up when I defended Ron and Lavender and said, “Maybe they have intellectual conversations,” and everybody was like, “No, all they do is make out.”

Eric: Yeah, they definitely don’t. They do not…

Alison: Yeah, Ron and Lavender don’t, but Harry and Ginny, I think, could.

Eric: It’s not the same.

Kat: But we do not have proof of that! It is the same thing.

Eric: Well, look. What Michael is saying [is that] there is proof of them having a rapport, and it’s that final chapter moment where he says, “I have to leave you,” and she says, “I expected as much.” She was internally thinking of the day this would come. Now, it means she should actually probably say, “Screw that; I’m coming with you.” But she doesn’t.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: If she really… yeah. But I don’t know.

Michael: Well, and there’s been definitely a lot of response on the site that the reasoning for that is maybe that she knows Harry well enough and has gotten to know him well enough…

Eric: That he’ll just be feeling so guilty all the time and won’t be able to concentrate. So she’s sacrificing her role in their relationship for….

Kat: Well…

Michael: This drives me crazy because it’s exactly the ending of Spiderman when Mary Jane says to Peter Parker…

[Kat laughs]

Eric: It’s not that.

Michael: And she’s like, “Go get ’em, tiger.” And then he flies out the window.

Eric: All right.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: We need to move on.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: Okay.

Eric: The last recap comment comes from Roonil Wazlib:

“I’m curious about this phoenix (or phoenix-like shape) that Harry briefly saw…could that be Dumbledore’s [P]atronus or even his actual soul being released from his body? We know that souls exist in the wizarding world and that they can be separated from the body. Some cultures believe that the soul clings to the body after death for a certain amount of time ([for example,] Dumbledore’s soul could still be present even though he has been dead a couple [of] days). This is the only real wizard funeral [that] we see…could it be that this fire spell is always used to release the soul?”

Kat: No. It’s evidence that he was alive. Okay?

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: That was the one thing that I hung onto after this book.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: That phoenix-like shape. I was like, “That’s it! He Apparated out, and he’s alive! This is amazing! Yes, yes, yes!” I was so excited.

Eric: I love the idea that it’s his soul or that it’s a fire spell that is common to every funeral because his body does do something that is crazy and unexpected, but at the same time, the tomb is being formed, right?

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: Harry witnesses the shape in the sky, which he thinks is something, but the second he thinks harder about it, it’s gone. And it’s very, very interesting.

Kat: Dumbledore is fast, Eric.

Eric: In the last chapter, it’s even said that they didn’t have a funeral for Sirius because there was no body. So it’s impossible to tell whether this is a common thing or not.

Alison: I think it’s a beautiful thought.

Michael: That’s really interesting to connect it with the reasoning why wizards won’t hold funerals without a body because I forgot, and yet again with rereading ahead, Moody also does not… the narration is like, “They couldn’t hold a funeral because they couldn’t find his body,” and so I don’t… maybe that is a thing where there are certain rites and rituals with their funerals that require a body.

Eric: Although I will say his soul probably isn’t still… Moody’s soul is not just still in his body somewhere until they…

Michael: I hope not, because that’s sad.

Eric: Well, because Voldemort… actually, the big difference… and this is getting way ahead, but I mean, Voldemort actually has a corpse. He leaves a corpse behind. And I’d hate to think that his soul is still in there somewhere. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah. Well, and I like the idea that it is a release of the soul. That’s a great interpretation because I actually always thought, until Deathly Hallows when Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s grave, Dumbledore had been cremated. Which was an interesting idea to me because cremation… I actually think cremation is probably the more – for me – ideal way to go because it’s not just sticking your body in the ground, which is a terrifying idea to me even if your soul is not in your body anymore. I just don’t like the idea of corpses rotting in the ground. And there’s something more, to me personally… I don’t want to speak for everybody but a little more free about the idea of having your ashes scattered.

Eric: I can see that. Well, I mean, so the question would be “Was Dumbledore set fire to? Was he cremated at the same time as this tomb, which wouldn’t have been a tomb if it didn’t have his body, but it would have been still a grave marker for him?” Some sort of…

Michael: I don’t… yeah, he’s not cremated, because I’m pretty sure that Voldemort is described as…

Eric: No, I know he’s not, but it looks like he’s caught fire to; the whole thing rises in flames.

Michael: Yeah!

Eric: So if he had been cremated, would there still be as large a tomb left behind?

Michael: Oh yeah, maybe. Because it’s – like you said, Eric – a marker.

Kat: A memorial, yeah.

Eric: Because he’s such a powerful wizard that this marble thing… I wasn’t on [the] last episode, so I did want to draw the parallel: Aslan in Narnia and the stone table that he is lain on at least once. In fact, I think it’s closer to four times by the series’ end. Big deal. It’s a big deal, that thing.

Kat: Yeah, and I mean, something to remember, too, is that fire brings rebirth as well. So I’m just going to stick with my theory that he’s alive and…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Just kidding. No, but that’s something important.

Michael: Well, hey, hey!

Kat: What?

Michael: Here you go! Because Aslan comes back when the stone table breaks.

Alison: Oh!

Michael: Voldemort breaks Dumbledore’s grave open.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Yes!

Alison: Oh, God.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yes!

Alison: Oh my gosh! [laughs]

Michael: I’ll fuel that fire for you, Kat.

Kat: Thanks, Michael.

Michael: I don’t believe it, but I will give you that. [laughs] I will give you that.

Kat: Thanks.

Eric: And I love that idea of Dumbledore’s soul is like roaming around until Voldemort desecrates his tomb, and then he comes back.

Kat: [whispers] Yes.

Michael: But it’s an interesting thought…

Eric: Voldemort reaches for the wand, and Dumbledore slaps him across the face.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Michael: “No!”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: “Back off!”

Michael: It’s an interesting thought, though, because we were talking before about how Fawkes leaves two chapters before…

Eric: Right, forever.

Michael: … and the idea that maybe he’s a representation of Dumbledore and his soul. So there’s another… I guess, for me, it was just a continuation of that imagery, I guess. So yeah, I could totally see that as being Roonil Wazlib’s interpretation that it is Dumbledore’s soul leaving the body in some way.

Kat: It’s very elegant.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Ephemeral imagery, that’s fun stuff. It doesn’t necessarily mean… I like when… Rowling does that a lot, where she leaves things completely to interpretation, and these are the kinds of things you don’t want her to answer on Pottermore. So don’t answer that one, Jo. Leave it open.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: He’s alive.

Eric: Unless it’s the right answer.

Kat: He’s alive.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Well, that’s different. [laughs]

Eric: Well, that concludes our recap comments.

Kat: So let’s move on to our Podcast Question of the Week responses from last week, our very last one for Half-Blood Prince, like most things on this episode. [sniffs] So sad.

Michael: It’s a good one, too. It’s a good one.

Kat: Yeah, an amazing one to end on. Kudos to the team that was on last week. Very, very good. Let me remind our listeners of that question:

“This is a chapter that makes you think, full of emotion and reflection. Harry has matured into the true Hero character, ready to face the challenge he has been destined to face since before his birth. But he is no longer alone in this destiny and is surrounded by those who both inspire and are inspired by him. Despite this, Harry never seems to realize he is part of a team. Does Harry ever overcome his reckless Hero complex? Is he ever able to see past his need to protect others, like Ginny in this scene, or must he ultimately be the lone hero, facing the big bad evil alone in the woods?”

So we had some amazing responses this week. No joke, I had picked out 12 to read. 12.

Alison and Eric: Wow!

Kat: Yeah, I had a really hard time narrowing it down. So I picked my top two this week instead of top three because, honestly, I couldn’t pick a third. You amazed me this week. Kudos, far more… you always have good comments; this week, they were spectacular. So kudos to all of you again. The two that I picked… the first one here I’m going to read was from They’ve Taken My Wheezy! Comment says,

“I believe we have seen Harry overcome his lone hero complex already in this book. When he leaves Hogwarts with Dumbledore he recruits his friends to take up his role and fight as heroes in his place. Harry could have kept things to himself in order to protect his friends but knew that something had to be done and that his friends were more [than] capable. It didn’t even take a second thought. Perhaps when he does have time to think about it, he is reluctant to have [to] put anyone else in harm’s way, but when it matters most he does put faith in others to be there for and with him.”

Eric: I like this comment a lot, both in that it accurately portrays Harry’s mindset when he’s leaving. He realizes that he needs, like, ten more pairs of arms to be able to, basically, take care of what needs to be handled. And [I] also like it because it seems to forgive Harry for basically what he does to Ginny at the end of this book in deciding to move on. Because I think that is an example of the Hero complex still being there.

Kat: Him walking away from Ginny?

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: I disagree with that.

Alison: Yeah, I do too.

Eric: Well, he even wants to leave Ron and Hermione alone, and they just tell him, “No, it’s not happening.”

Alison: Well, but he also doesn’t argue with Hermione.

Eric: Yeah, but he still wants to, so… but this comment’s very… I like this comment a lot.

Alison: I don’t think he necessarily wants to leave Ron and Hermione behind, but I think he thinks that they want to stay. And so he doesn’t argue when Hermione gives one of my favorite lines of hers ever, which is the one where she says, “You told us we could turn back, and we’ve had time, and we’re not going anywhere.” And I mean, he doesn’t argue with it at all. He just says, “All right. Then cool. You’re coming. I know that for sure.”

Michael: Yeah, I love that she hearkens back specifically to that moment in Sorcerer’s Stone.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: You know where… because that was a big moment, a big test of their friendship.

Alison: Mhm.

Michael: And that she’s kind of saying, [as Hermione] “We’ve been doing this for how many years now, and we’re not going to stop now.” Yeah, it’s funny because I don’t… I’m kind of the opposite of this because I think – but not necessarily in a way that villainizes Harry – I’m thinking of it in terms of – and somebody said it in a comment this week, I believe, and it was much more excellently phrased then I’m about to probably say it – but it was something along the lines of Harry’s not rejecting them because he wants to go it alone because he’s got the hero complex issues; he’s rejecting them and wanting to go it alone because he cares about these people.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: And he doesn’t want them to die. That’s an issue he’s going to continually come up against at the beginning of Deathly Hallows, which is why I think this is such a great question for now. Because he will face almost every important character one-on-one and kind of be like, [as Harry] “No, I’m tired of people dying for me.” And, with their response being, “We’re not doing this for you.”

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: “We’re doing this for a greater good.” Which of course gets into bigger things with Dumbledore and the greater good and what not, which I think will be a big debate in Deathly Hallows about what that means. But yeah, I think Harry’s not being “the hero”; he’s just trying to protect the people he loves.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: I would agree with that.

Michael: But it comes off as… I think definitely when I read it as a kid, it kind of came off that way because we’ve heard Harry doing the whole “stay behind” thing for quite a while. And I think in Order of the Phoenix, it’s a little more debatable because he was being very difficult in Order. And there’s parts in Order where he’s just like… the narration actually says, [as Harry] “I wouldn’t have chosen these people to go with me.”

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Michael: So in that case I think it’s different. I think there might still be a little bit of Order Harry lingering in people’s minds when they think of this.

Eric: Oh yeah, that’s possible.

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: That’s actually very possible.

Kat: So, since you mentioned Dumbledore, we’ll move on to our next comment, which is from WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock. Wow, two in one episode.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Props!

Michael: So much buttock in this episode.

Kat: So much buttock!

Eric: Something I agree to… oh, there’s the other buttock!

Kat: There’s the other buttock.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: We’ve found it.

Kat: All right, so the comment says… this is the last paragraph of a much longer paragraph, so go read it over on the website, and you will be blown away like I was when I got to this paragraph. It says,

“Most interestingly to me, this is another way in which Harry surpasses Dumbledore – he learns how to balance love and trust in relationships with the need to take certain weights on himself alone. Dumbledore never quite learned that balance. He carried so much alone, doling out bits of information when he absolutely had to, but rarely trusting beyond absolute necessity. He was not the man Harry is (and he knows it!), and it’s just another way that Harry exceeds his former teacher. This balance being achieved, Harry’s journey is completed. He has learned how to be both himself and part of a whole. We should all be so lucky in our lives.”

Michael: Applause, applause, applause.

Alison: Yes! That’s… wow. Yes.

Michael: I’m doing the Dumbledore clap from Sorcerer’s Stone where he claps the top of his hand.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Oh, right. Yes.

Michael: Yes.

Kat: Yeah, so the rest of the paragraph gave a lot of examples as to how Harry does and doesn’t have the hero complex, and then arrives – kind of compares to Dumbledore – and arrives at this conclusion. Which I thought was the most important part of the whole comment from WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock. And I love it because it nails it on the head. It’s perfect.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: I wouldn’t want to disagree because I haven’t read the full thing.

Michael: Full butt…

[Alison laughs]

Eric: No, I agree. There are still things that Harry plays very close to the vest, again even when he refuses to tell McGonagall what’s going on. Which could be the right choice, but we know from Book 7 she’s never possessed; she’s never interrogated by the Death Eaters. There’s no risk really in telling Voldemort what he was up to.

Kat: Well… so you would just have him tell everybody everything? You want him to talk to the Minister, McGonagall…

Eric: Well, if you think of what actually ends up happening with people like Neville killing the snake, and basically everybody but Harry gets a Horcrux to themselves in Book 7… Ron destroys the locket, Hermione destroys the cup…

Kat: Harry destroys himself.

Alison: Ooh!

[Eric laughs]

Kat: Am I wrong?

Alison: No!

Eric: No, you’re not wrong, but he’s also the accidental Horcrux. But given how…

Alison: That doesn’t [unintelligible].

Eric: Given how it’s so spread out to other people, there’s really no reason for Harry to keep anything in. But that’s retro. That’s like using the future to inform the past, and that’s not something that is fair to do in an argument necessarily. But I think it’s very clear that… I mean, it doesn’t really matter that Harry is keeping all these secrets from the people who would otherwise be closest to him.

Michael: I think the secrets are another element of keeping people safe, which we were discussing before.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: I mean, you’re right, Eric, that for example, McGonagall didn’t get tortured as far as we know, but she easily could have been. She was surrounded by Death Eaters.

Eric: Right.

Kat: And you keep saying, “People that he’s really close to,” and I’ve said this before, but we assume that Harry’s close to Lupin and he really wasn’t. Is Harry really close to McGonagall? No.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: He’s not any closer to McGonagall than he was to Lupin.

Eric: No, but he should have also taken Lupin along with him. It’s just that she just had to make a point about the foster complex, orphan kid thing.

Alison: Ooh. I definitely don’t think they should have.

Eric: Well, I’m spilling too many of my Book 7 thoughts, actually.

Michael: I think in terms of Dumbledore though… yes, I think that’s an excellent point by WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock, because Dumbledore does acknowledge that Harry is a better man than him.

Kat: Mhm.

Alison: Yes.

Michael: He doesn’t exactly explicitly say why, and I think that is true that Harry… I still don’t agree that Harry has learned this balance by the end of Book 6. I think he still has a lot of learning to do.

Alison: No, but I think by the end of Book 6, he’s open to finally figuring it out in Book 7. He’s finally learned that maybe it is a good thing to let people like Hermione help you.

Michael: Yes, because I think Ron explicitly states early on in Book 7… he’s like, [as Ron] “Do you want to die?”

Alison: [laughs] Yeah!

[Kat laughs]

Michael: “Or do you want to go with Hermione?”

Kat: Yeah.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Alison: Yeah, pretty much.

Michael: So… yeah, I think that’s correct. Yes, Harry does have a better sense of that in terms of… if we’re comparing to Dumbledore who really doesn’t. And I do think there’s still an element that Dumbledore, while he doesn’t – like you said, Kat, in the case of the Horcruxes – share because he doesn’t want to scare Harry with something that may potentially be incorrect. Dumbledore does talk a lot in Book 6 and Book 7 that he does pride himself on being very smart, and I think there is a little bit of that, [as Dumbledore] “I don’t want to say it until it’s perfectly right…”

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: “… so I won’t.”

Kat: Mhm.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: I think Dumbledore does get a… that’s something I think we’ll be talking about a lot in Book 7 too, why Dumbledore bothers to keep certain things a secret…

Kat: His ego.

Michael: Yeah, ego issues. Absolutely.

Eric: It does come up quite often in Book 7.

Michael: Yup. Which Rita Skeeter will poop all over with her pen.

Kat: Yes, yes indeed.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I guess that’s it for our podcast responses for this week – Podcast Question of the Week.

Eric: It’s like, is that it for our podcast?

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: The end.

Kat: I meant Question of the Week responses, okay.

Eric: Okay, but can I say when we do decide to end this podcast twenty years from now, we have to let the last word be “scar.”

Alison and Kat: Aww!

Michael: We have to remedy the mistake.

Kat: Okay. We could do that, I suppose. But yeah, so there won’t be a Podcast Question of the Week for this week since we’re wrapping up the book, but our first episode of Deathly Hallows will be out next Saturday, the fifteenth, and there will be a question then.

Michael: Oh my God.

Kat: Yay!

Alison: But before we can get there, we’re going to wrap up Half-Blood Prince – I almost said Deathly Hallows because you just said that.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Not quite.

Alison: We’re going to just start by going over the normal things we go over. [laughs] So the dedication for this book is, “To Mackenzie, my beautiful daughter, I dedicate her ink and paper twin.”

Kat: Aww, that’s so sweet.

Alison: Of course, Mackenzie Murray, J.K. Rowling’s youngest, was born on January 23, 2005, so just a few months before this book came out.

Michael: That’s so funny hearing Kat go “Aww!” because I remember the last time we did this and she dedicated it to one of her other kids, Kat was like, “Boo! Boring!”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Did I really?

Michael: Yeah, you were like, “Oh, this is such a mom dedication – new mom dedication.” I think it was just because we’ve become accustomed to her dedications having a bit of a… the early books have a lot of depth for interpretation.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Oh, it was the last book, right? And it just said like, “To my…” It was boring.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: At least this one says, her “ink and paper twin.” At least this one is cute.

Eric: Look, we can’t all be Book 7 interesting…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: “Split seven ways” dedications.

Michael: I was going to say, that’s a good dedication.

Eric: At least she really stuck the ending. She really stuck the ending.

Alison: Oh, it’s the best.

Kat: We’ll get there, guys. Book 6 dedication…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Book 6’s dedication is probably my favorite. Just knowing that she was creating this book while her body was…

Kat: Creating her daughter!

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: … creating new life. Yeah.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Like essentially, “I dedicate [my] ink and paper twin,” they were born… Mackenzie was born in January, and she probably finished writing right around that same time. So they really, really, really were twins.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, she finished the first draft just a little before this.

Alison: Yeah, I believe it was in December. I believe we have that somewhere.

Eric: Yup. So there’s absolutely… there could not have been a more perfect dedication, as far as I am concerned.

Michael: Can you imagine being the living twin of the Half-Blood Prince?

Alison: Yes! I thought about it, but just for people to say that, “This is my twin. It’s a book.”

Eric: I wonder if her favorite book is Half-Blood.

Michael: I hear a lot from people who are involved, from celebrities, that their children have little to no interest in what they do for a living.

Eric: Right.

Michael: I know Idina Menzel’s son hates Frozen and hates “Let It Go.”

Kat: Good kid.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Which the public has started to come around his way. But at the same time, that’s the thing you hear a lot from celebrities because they just see their parents as parents.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Right.

Michael: So I wonder if Mackenzie… I mean, Mackenzie’s ten now.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: So I wonder if she’s kind of had… she’s about at the right age to start reading Harry Potter, if she has not already.

Eric: I do really want the tell-all, when Jessica is of age – actually, I’m sure she is – but I really want those kids to write books of their own one day.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: I don’t think they will because they’ve been so… Rowling has done such a good job of raising them so privately and trying her best to give them pretty normal lives.

Alison and Eric: Yeah.

Kat: I’m not even sure honestly that I know what they look like, and I want it to stay that way.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, that’s true now. That’s very, very true now.

Kat: But obviously her daughter is into what she does. She has a freaking treehouse that looks like Hagrid’s hut.

Alison: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I just want to be able to go and play in the treehouse.

Michael: I imagine now her older children probably have a pretty good grasp on the level of what their mother is to the world. But I’m sure when you’re just ten years old and all you want is your mother’s attention… I’m sure that’s all you want.

Kat: Aww.

Alison: So the US hardcover summary then is the next thing we’re going to go over, and it says, “The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet… as in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate – and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort – and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.”

Michael: Just want to high-five the person who writes the US summaries.

Alison: They got so much better.

Kat: Yeah, this is the best one so far.

Alison: It’s so good.

Michael: Yes, this one’s really good.

Eric: Okay. It kind of covers everything, I guess.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Well, I think it covers everything in the way that it should. It gives you a really good… we talked about this in Order of the Phoenix too with their summary, and I think… I just feel like the US – and maybe it’s the different tastes of readers from different countries – but the US summaries are so perfectly tailored to sparking the curiosity of American readers, I think.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Right.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: They give you just enough tantalizing information to really get you reading, especially because I think for the time, the Harry Potter series was a challenging read for kids that it was meant for, because a lot of them start slow. This one starts with Ministers talking about political business…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … which is not something you usually start a kids book with.

Eric: Right. But it’s summarized quite well…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … that the local governments are suffering and that’s how we would know about it.

Michael: Yeah. They take the tact of “Oh, the Muggle and wizarding worlds collide” and…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … I think that’s more of an interesting way to approach it. Like I said, whoever does these, come on the show. Whoever writes these, high five to you.

Eric: I guess it is pretty good. Yeah.

Michael: Well, good. And having read the UK hardcovers…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … wait till you hear these. Because in my opinion, these aren’t as good, but I don’t know, I’m not British, so…

Alison: Well, let’s read it, then. So the back cover of the UK hardcover says, “It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the window panes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the headmaster was in the fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Durseys’ of all places. Why is the professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already gone off to an unusual start as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine. J.K. Rowling turns Harry Potter’s latest adventures in his sixth year at Hogwarts with confident skill and breathtaking fashion.”

Eric: You know what I’m remembering? And this started out as a joke to myself in my head, but I’m actually beginning to think that this was a thing now. Maybe they only gave the reviewer of the UK…

Michael: The first chapter?

Eric: The first two chapters, yeah.

Alison: Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I’m actually serious. Because this sounds like… it only really pertains to the first two chapters.

Kat: Well, and that’s how all of the UK…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … hardcovers’ back page or back book summaries have been. So that’s entirely plausible, or it could just be that unlike Americans, they don’t want to know what happens in the entire book.

[Eric laughs]

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: You know?

Alison: It’s a very nice lead into the beginning and that you’re going to start a journey with this story, whereas the American editions go through “here’s everything that happens during this entire book,” and…

Eric: Yeah, even the Weasley twins get a shoutout, and they’re not even big characters.

Kat: Right.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: See, but that’s why I think the US editions do a good summary, is because even though they touch on everything, they don’t give everything away. The US summaries are not equivalent to a movie trailer, because… at least a movie trailer of today, because movie trailers of today do give everything away.

Eric: Mhm. Yeah.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: But I think the US editions just do a good job… because this, to me… maybe I’m just an example of the stereotypical target audience for America that Scholastic was thinking of, because the points they touch on, I think perfectly summarize the tone of the book. They make it sound… because Half-Blood Prince… the other issue with Half-Blood is that while I do think it flows really well and it’s pretty fast-paced and tight, like you’ve talked about before, Kat, I think it’s different in that this is a pretty average year for Harry.

Eric: Well, and the summary says that the focus is on…

Eric and Michael: … the homefront.

Michael: Uh-huh.

Eric: And the homefront takes centerstage…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: It’s like a way of saying that things are low-key…

Michael: Mhm. Back to basics.

Eric: … without being boring. At least the UK summary, to its credit, takes care of the most pressing question on British readers’ minds: How’s the weather?

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Eric: That’s the first line. “It’s the middle of summer but there’s an unseasonal mist pressing against the window panes.”

Michael: I was going to say that the UK cover, I think, is more atmospheric…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … than the US edition. The UK cover paints more of a definitive picture of a moment that is intriguing.

Kat: That’s what I was going to say. I was going to say it sets the tone for the book a lot more…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … than the US one does. Because that has an air of mystery about it and there is a lot of mystery in this book, and I think that that is what the UK is going for.

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: I would agree.

Michael: Absolutely.

Eric: Well, now, hang on. There’s a second summary from the UK book here?

Kat: Yeah, because one of them is the hardcover, the one that doesn’t have the jacket…

Eric: Oh.

Kat: … and then this is the hardcover that does have the jacket.

Alison: Yes. And this one is slightly different. It says, “Harry has yet again spent the summer holidays at the Dursleys’. He’s had plenty to think about, though. From the death of his beloved godfather, Sirius Black, to the terrifying chas through the Ministry of Magic by the Death Eaters, to the fierce duel he witnessed between Professor Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort. Now he is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ for a visit from his headmaster. Harry can’t think why Dumbledore would want to visit him now. What is it that cannot possibly wait until the beginning of term? He is also not quite sure how the Dursleys will react to the headmaster’s sudden appearance in their own home. J.K. Rowling charts Harry Potter’s adventures in his sixth year at Hogwarts with a mix of detail and humor that is unsurpassed, pace that is breathless, and above all, a flair that is magical.”

Michael: Props to the UK hardcover editions for shouting out to Rowling’s writing style.

Kat: Yeah.

Alison: Yes.

Michael: Which we didn’t do.

Eric: That also indicates that they read it.

Alison: Also, spoiler if you haven’t read Book 5.

Michael: [laughs] Which some people haven’t.

Eric: There is that feeling of sitting at a bookstore and reading just the summaries of each of the books.

Michael: Mmm.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: To possibly having that spoil you. Well, because I always used to… the UK books don’t have tables of contents, but the US books do, and…

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: … part of my ritual, when I would read a Harry Potter book for the first time, was to read the chapters because they were, to a degree, vague.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: There is not going to be… I had a trust that they were vague enough that doing so wouldn’t necessarily give it away. But I like that quick dip of the foot into the water to test…

Kat: Weren’t you also the one who goes and reads the last page?

Eric: No. I may have said that once…

Kat: Mmm.

Eric: … but it’s not… no, you know what? I know people who do that, and I don’t do that.

Michael: I do that, but I don’t read the last page.

Alison: I don’t think I’ve done that with Potter, but I’ve done that with other things.

Eric: I’m fairly certain… other books, if I’m halfway through and bored, I’ll go and read the last sentence.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: You said that you spoiled Sirius’s death for yourself because you read ahead.

Eric: Well, I couldn’t help but notice all-caps Harry. When I dropped the book on the ground and…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: … it’s a pretty big part of the end of that book.

Kat: You said that you spoiled Sirius’s death for yourself because you read ahead.

Eric: Well, I couldn’t help but notice all caps Harry when I dropped the book on the ground…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: … and I was looking at the… It’s a pretty big part of the end of that book.

Michael: I had the same tradition of reading the table of contents, but I also always read the last sentence. I never read the last page – I read the last sentence.

Kat: Wow!

Michael: It was a weird habit that I started doing.

Eric: Book 6 does have one of the weakest last sentences but it’s a very unique last sentence.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Y’all are cheaters.

Eric: Mmm.

Alison: I always jumped right in. First word of Chapter One, let’s go. I’ll look back at the other stuff later.

Kat: I’m not even sure I ever read the summaries because I didn’t want to be spoiled. I specifically remember for this one because I was in Colorado and I picked it up with my best friend who was our guest on Episode 1 – Hope, by the way – and I remember sitting in her car and the first thing we both did was take the jackets off of our books and put them into our bag because neither of us wanted to read it or be spoiled.

Eric: Well, we couldn’t help on MuggleNet being spoiled. Just because… or at least the summary got released early.

Kat: Yeah, see, I never read that stuff.

Eric: Yeah…

Kat: I didn’t have the coolest…

Eric: It’s different for the people who had to post it, and that wasn’t even me…

Kat: That’s true.

Eric: … so that’s not my excuse, but still. Yeah, it was a big deal.

Michael: Well, and we’re going to get into this with this section, but there were some firsts for Half-Blood as far as the marketing campaign went that did not occur with the other books. This was a very interesting… looking back on this, this is a very interesting period to watch the evolution of marketing a book…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Mhm.

Michael: … because Half-Blood marks, I think, a watershed moment for book marketing.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah, absolutely. It was also, we’ve said this before, but this was the time that the Internet was getting big. Big, big, big.

Michael: Yup.

Kat: Everybody had it.

Michael: That’s a part of it.

Kat: So. Yeah.

Michael: Bonkers for Potter.

Kat: Bonkers.

Alison: I can’t remember this book’s release. I remember Order very vividly, I remember Deathly Hallows very vividly, but I can’t remember this one.

Kat: Huh.

Alison: At all.

Eric: I remember being in Ohio.

Michael: I was in a Barnes and Noble just a few miles down the street being really loud with my friends because they wanted me to do all my Harry Potter voices.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: And then there was a point where I was being really loud and we stopped talking and realized how freakishly quiet it was in the bookstore. There were a lot of people in there, but they were being very, very quiet.

Kat: They were listening to you.

Michael: [laughs] Sure.

Eric: That was also the book release event where MuggleNet did Spellbound. It was called Spellbound in the mall. Anybody go to that? Anybody remember that?

Alison, Kat, and Michael: No.

Eric: Okay. Yeah. It was in conjunction with local authors in Chicago, Wizarding World Press, and they took over a mall and it was actually a really big deal.

Alison: Huh.

Eric: Spellbound. 2006.

Michael: That’s cool.

Kat: I mean, I remember it, but I wasn’t there.

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: Because you know, I wasn’t in Chicago.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: And I was 12.

Kat: Oh, God!

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Wow, I feel old! You too? Mmm.

Alison: Actually no, I probably wasn’t even 12 yet.

Kat: Oh, shut up. Stop talking.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Speaking of history… so Half-Blood Prince had been planned for years, like all of them, obviously, but Rowling actually gave it a two month review before she started writing, going over her plot to eliminate potential plot holes, which is a lesson she learned while writing Goblet of Fire.

Eric: Hmm.

Alison: Which, I think we mentioned this before a couple of weeks ago, but this is probably the book that is the tightest wound story. There’s something happening at each point. There’s none of these fluffy in-between moments.

Eric: Lulls?

Kat: Yeah, there’s no Grawp in this book.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: No, there is not! Thank God.

Eric: Grawp shows up at Dumbledore’s funeral, guys…

Alison: It’s true!

Kat: Shush. No. What I mean is there’s no plot that was dropped and clearly just forgotten about.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: No, Kat and Alison, you both said this throughout the read and I absolutely agree and I think this is why… I love Prisoner because I think Prisoner is at the top of my list for somewhat biased reasons, especially Lupin, and it is really well done, I think. But Half-Blood Prince is, like you guys have said, it is very, very tight. There is not one moment that’s just like, “Oh, I’m just here to be a moment.” There is none of that.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Well, there is the Crabbe and Goyle girls thing. It doesn’t really have a resolution.

Michael: Sure it does!

Eric: Not really. They just stop doing it.

Michael: No…

Kat: Stop being girls?

Eric: Yeah. Well, the plot line with the… Crabbe and Goyle are not in the room, guarding outside the room when Malfoy is there the last time so I wonder what happened. Did he just not take them?

Kat: Because he didn’t need them, because he knew he was getting the Death Eaters in.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: It was already fixed. He didn’t need a look out.

Michael: Yeah, a whole crew of Death Eaters.

Eric: But then Harry totally sees them just hanging around in the Great Hall afterwards and they’re missing Draco and I’m like, “oh”…

Michael: That’s probably because Draco is… and the narration makes that clear to me, but especially because it’s from Harry’s point of view, but Draco has essentially left them behind.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Because that’s what’s implied to have happened.

Kat: Their Regina George left the group, so they’re sad.

Michael: Yup.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Well, I feel bad for them, that’s all. I want the Crabbe and Goyle spin-off story.

Kat: Oh, God. [laughs]

Michael: I think that’s excellently done because Malfoy puts them through a lot of stuff through all these years and then he just ditches them because they’re not useful to him anymore. I think that makes sense. And it offers Harry an opportunity to reflect on why him and Hermione and Ron have separated a little bit this year.

Alison: All right. Also interesting tidbit about the writing in this book, the magical and non-magical ministries colliding was actually a concept that Jo was going to attempt to introduce in Sorcerer’s Stone, Prisoner, and Order of the Phoenix, but…

Kat: Wow.

Eric: Huh.

Alison: … this was the one that it worked in. I wonder how that would… especially Sorcerer.

Kat: That’s funny because I thought she was going to introduce it in Chamber

Alison: Maybe.

Kat: Because, I thought that was a rumor that I hear because she was going to introduce Snape and his backstory then, and that’s when the other Ministry stuff would appear.

Michael: I find that these three that are listed make sense because Sorcerer’s Stone makes sense in terms of just introducing the idea of Muggle and wizard worlds colliding.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Eric: And the first chapter is in the Muggle world.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yes. Prisoner would make sense because of Sirius escaping and Order would make sense because of the non-threat that Voldemort is supposed to be at the time but… that Fudge would maybe go and be like, “Oh, it’s nothing, don’t even worry about it.

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: Well, it’s just funny that in the chapter “The Other Minister,” she is able to write about the previous times that Fudge did come over, so it’s as if this chapter was in previous books, but it wasn’t.

Kat: In the best possible way, yeah.

Alison: Yeah, they mentioned…

Eric: Previous times he’s visited.

Kat: Yeah, it’s really fun to read through that first chapter and think about “Oh, I remember that, and I remember that, and I remember… yeah.

Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat: Yeah. To think about those meetings that they had. That’s cool.

Alison: All right, we kind of already touched on this, but the draft was completed on December 21, 2004, which Rowling put on her website after you had to solve a series of riddles because we need that website back because it was wonderful.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: And it said, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is COMPLETED and has been delivered to my English[-]language publishers, who hope to announce the publication date within 24 hours. Although I have joked about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince racing my third baby into the world, I have in fact had all the time I needed to tinker with the manuscript to my satisfaction, and I am as happy as I have ever been with the end result. I only hope you feel that it was worth the wait when you finally read it!”

Eric: We do, Jo, we do.

Michael: It was.

Kat: Yes.

Alison: It was worth it.

Michael: I think the interesting thing about that quote and the interesting thing – and we’ll get more into it with the further quotes that are through here – is that I think Rowling, after every book and every movie, was like, “Oh, this is the best one. I just love it. It’s the best,” but I feel like her quotes on this one are the most sincerely pleased that I ever have heard her, and especially coming off of the behemoth that was Order and the giant problem that was Goblet, I think it sounds to be that Half-Blood was just a purely joyful… very little strife in that writing experience.

Kat: Right, and I think the quote definitely lends itself to that because she’s not saying it’s her favorite; she’s saying that she’s the most happy with it that she has been so far.

Alison: Yeah, with how it turned out.

Kat: Right, and obviously, somebody edited the crap out of it, including herself, and it shows because it is just the tightest book. It’s so good. So good. But I don’t remember at all what happens.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Nobody does!

Eric: Just, ladies and gents, set your time machines for December 21, 2004, and go […] take a look at the manuscript before the publishers got it because I want to see about extra plots and stuff before it was whittled down by them.

Michael: Well, that’s interesting because I think she said in an interview that compared to previous books, this book didn’t really have that. She said in an interview, which is I think cited later in here, that she didn’t do a lot of big… most of the changes were sentence structure, grammatical issues, not so much big plot points that she had to drop.

Alison: Well, like it said, she took two whole months just going through plot, which is – let me tell you as someone who’s trying to write a book – the hardest freaking part, […] so just to really make sure everything was going to work together before you got into all the fun writing.

Eric: Yeah, but we speculated… I remember speculating, though, in the Tonks chapter when Tonks is outside the Room of Requirement with Harry that there was dropped plot or something with… because we did speculate that on this show recently.

Alison: That’s true.

Michael: We did. I think we were wrong in terms of that because the Tonks thing is pretty much resolved, but…

Eric: Yeah, I forgot how well it’s resolved with Lupin, actually, at the end of the book. They’re seen holding hands at the funeral.

Alison: Yeah, so those quotes we were talking about. She said, “I like Half-Blood Prince better than I liked Goblet, Phoenix, or Chamber when I finished them. Book 6 does what I wanted it to do, and even if nobody else likes it (and some won’t), I know it will remain one of my favorites of the series. Ultimately, you have to please yourself before you please anyone else!” And then in July 2005, she said, “I absolutely loved writing Half-Blood Prince. It was an enjoyable experience from start to finish. I would say the two books I have enjoyed writing most, and I have been most relaxed in my life at the time, were Azkaban and Prince.”

Kat: Which I guess is why you love them, Michael.

Michael: Well, I do think it truly just shows in the writing. Those two are Harry’s most relaxed years, and she takes such a more casual approach to the two of them. They feel like the years that Harry, aside from the big plot of […] Prisoner of Azkaban or the Horcruxes, there’s not really anything unusual that happens at Hogwarts.

Kat: Yeah, he has a bit of a normal life those years, doesn’t he? I mean, except for the fact that his best friend was living with a man in his bed, and… that’s pretty normal.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: Hey, it’s just another day in the wizarding world.

Kat: Yeah, just another day. Right, exactly.

Alison: Well, speaking of that fabulous website that we all need back – hint, hint, hint – the title was announced on June 29, 2004, on the locked door on that website.

Kat: I miss that door. God.

Michael: Well, and the nice thing, too, listeners, just in case you didn’t know… we’ve mentioned it before, but you can go to the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive, which thankfully is still around. Please make sure, if you are interested, to fund the Internet Archive because it might go away someday. But they still have… people went through and archived Rowling’s website on certain days back in the early 2000s, so you can go […] get that original website. It might not be…

Eric: Text only, though, right?

Kat: Is it the text only website?

Michael: No, you can find some in the Flash versions.

Kat: Really?

Alison: Ooh.

Michael: Some people had the foresight to file away the Flash versions, so you can get them.

Alison: Those are smart people.

Michael: It’s hard to get in there and get a complete version of the Flash website, but you can. It’s possible. So go for it, listeners. Have fun.

Kat: Ooh, I’m going to do that right after we’re done.

Eric: [laughs] Me too.

Alison: Before that all happened, though – actually, just a few days before – apparently, there was a rumor spread by a 19-year-old University of Florida student that both public and the press picked up that said the title was Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storg, but that was, of course, quickly debunked by Rowling, but this just shows us that we’re in the Internet age where people picked up strange things and read it on the Internet and thought it was true.

Michael: [laughs] Well, the funny thing with that is that I remember I had a friend back then who said something akin to “If Rowling sneezes, the world’s going to hear about it.” That was also the thing to consider in that time, was… and I think it’s still a little bit that way. We still see this. Whenever Rowling says anything new on Twitter, it’s trending on my Facebook feed and my Twitter feed.

Kat: Yeah, immediately.

Eric: Did you hear the thing about tea, by the way? [laughs] Yesterday?

Alison: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did see that one.

Kat: So I actually wanted to look up “storg? because I didn’t remember what it was.

Michael: Yeah, I just looked it up too.

Kat: And so it’s another word for “familial love” and is the Greek word for “natural affection,” such as the love of a parent toward offspring or vice versa.

Eric: “The Pillar of Natural Affection.” I love that.

Alison: That actually could have worked.

Kat: Yeah, I know. It says, “Storg? or affection, is a wide-ranging force [that] can apply between family members, friends, pets, owners, companions, or colleagues. It can also blend with and help underpin other types of ties such as passionate love or friendship.”

Michael: It’s essentially Harry Potter and the Pillar of Love.

Kat: Yup, pretty much.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Which… let’s pontificate for a moment: That would have put an entire new spin on Snape’s story.

Alison: Oh. Yeah. So Half-Blood Prince was actually the original title for Chamber of Secrets. We’ve talked about this before. Rowling deemed much of the information related to the title too important to be included so early in the series.

Kat: Good move.

Alison: Yes, definitely.

Eric: I agree with that. It’s funny because as often as that gets mentioned or brought up on this show, or as much as it’s embedded in my memory, I like Book 2 for being Book 2. It still has so much to do with the later books. It doesn’t ever feel like a cop-out, or oh, this is the book where Jo said, “Let’s take it easy and not give too much away.” It still seems to be crawling at a consistent rate toward the end of the series. Book 2 isn’t slower than Book 1.

Alison: Yeah, I agree with that too.

Michael: Yeah, she said in an interview, I think, that she realized that when she had that original draft of Chamber as Half-Blood, she was writing two different books that were meshing together. Still, I think that the most fascinating part about that is, by calling it Half-Blood Prince, that essentially says she was going to tell us that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. Unless she had another person for that identity, but I don’t think she did. And I just can’t imagine how the series would have panned out if she had done that.

Kat: Well, I mean, we don’t necessarily know that she would have given us that information then. Just the fact that we knew about it and that it was a red herring or an Easter egg so early in the series.

Eric: I wonder.

Kat: Yeah, he might not have been necessarily revealed at that point, but the information was there.

Alison: It would have been a name drop, like she does in the first couple, anyway, with people.

Kat: Yeah, like when we read about Sirius in the first book or whatever.

Alison: Also on that wonderful website, on October 31, 2004, for the very first time, we got chapter titles before the book.

Eric: Woo!

Alison: I really like this riddle. I don’t remember this, but the riddle to unlock the door said, “One by one we come to life, / Then side-by-side we wait / While our company swells in numbers / (Some come early, some come late); / And some of us may bore you, / And some of us enthral, / But you cannot choose between us / You must take us one and all. / We’ll be bound together tightly / For we’re naught if we break free. / If you’d like some clues about us / Simply answer: WHO ARE WE?” And the answer was “Chapters.” And then we got to the…

Eric: That’s brilliant!

Alison: She is!

Michael: Clever girl, clever girl!

Alison: She is a brilliant riddle writer. Ugh. It’s amazing.

Kat: I mean, you’re right. She did write one of the best riddles in novels today.

Eric: I was going to say, “It’s better than the Sphinx one,” but yeah, it’s good.

Michael: Yeah, this is a really good riddle.

Kat: I meant Tom Riddle, for the record.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: And of course, the chapters we got were “Spinner’s End,” “Draco’s Detour,” and “Felix Felicis,” which the only thing we knew about was Draco. That was the only…

Kat: Yup, she couldn’t have given us more vague stuff.

Eric: I love it.

Michael: I liked the “Felix Felicis” drop because a lot of people thought it was a person.

Kat: That’s true.

Michael: Yeah, a lot of people thought it was going to be a new character, which I guess, in a way, it was.

Eric: In a way.

Michael: Not the way we thought it was going to be.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: There was also a little bit of controversy over things. Multiple venues held bets over which character would die and actually had to suspend them because the highest one was Dumbledore, and people thought people had cheated.

Michael: Yeah, I guess some of the bets were… there was belief that information was actually leaking from certain publishers that it was Dumbledore because he was the frontrunner to win in that bet.

Kat: Yeah, and realistically, who would have ever expected him to actually die? So it makes sense.

Alison: Speaking of leaked things, a Canadian grocery store accidentally sold 15 copies of the book before the release date. So the Canadian publishers…

Michael: The only naughty thing Canada has ever done.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Remember that time J.K. Rowling went to war with Canada?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: This is how World War III started.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Yeah, boy.

Alison: So the Canadian publishers attained an injunction preventing the purchasers from reading or discussing the contents of the book, as well as preventing the press from publishing reviews early. And it sparked a whole debate over fundamental rights, and I believe I read somewhere it became a pretty big court case.

Michael: Yes, it did.

Alison: However, the 15 people who bought their books were offered a T-shirt and a signed copy of the book if they brought them back before the publishing date.

Kat: Just raising my hand [to] say I’d bring mine back in a heartbeat.

Eric: I’d bring mine back.

Michael: I was going to say, “If you 15 people are listening right now, you better have brought them back.”

Eric: I would bring mine back in approximately 23 hours.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Oh no. See, I feel like that probably had a time limit.

Michael: The stipulation was that they had to bring it back before the release date of the book.

Alison: Yeah, yeah. But that was it.

Kat: Oh. That’s it?

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. So they still could have read it.

Kat: I don’t care. I’d do anything for a J.K. Rowling-signed book, so ask me to cut off my toe, and I might do it, so…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It’s the difference between immediate satisfaction and long-term investment.

Kat: Yup. Exactly.

Alison: That is very true.

Kat: I mean, I probably wouldn’t cut off my toe, but I’d think about it for a long hard second.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Especially a first-edition Sorcerer’s Stone or Philosopher’s Stone. I’d probably cut my toe off for that because those are worth 20 grand, so…

Eric: Good thing there are only seven Harry Potter books because you have ten toes.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Only the pinkie toe.

Michael: But how many editions?

[Kat laughs]

Eric: What if there were 11 Harry Potter books?

Kat: I’d be screwed; I’d have to go with a thumb or a pinkie.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Let me borrow one of yours, Eric.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Okay.

Kat: You can’t have it back, though.

Alison: This is also one of the first really aggressive campaigns…

Eric: Kat, Kat. I’ll settle for joint custody.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Sorry, sorry, sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry, Alison. I’m so sorry, Alison.

Kat: Oh, God.

Eric: It struck me; I had to say it.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Alison: That was worth it; it was worth it.

Eric: Thank you. I’m so sorry. Thank you.

Alison: Don’t worry.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Alison: So in the US, Scholastic had a really aggressive campaign – and now that I think about it, I may remember this, but I may be misremembering it as Deathly Hallows – focused on who the Half-Blood Prince is. So Rowling obviously quickly confirmed that Harry and Voldemort were out of the running for being the Half-Blood Prince, because obviously, those are the top contenders for “Who could it be?” I don’t know, really, though – I think we talked about this before – if people guessed Snape.

Michael: I think some people did. I assumed it was going to be a new character that we hadn’t met.

Alison: Yeah. I did, too.

Kat: I don’t remember what I assumed. I’m not one to figure out mysteries; I’ve said that before.

Alison: Yeah, me neither.

Kat: I’ve never been very good at that. So I always just kept down the speculation and just was ready for it to be in my hands so that I could read it.

Alison: Yeah. 1.4 million preorders were made on Amazon. It broke Order‘s previous record of 1.3 million. So not that much.

Eric: And somehow managed to save, still, [more] trees.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: There were 11 million copies sold within the first 24 hours, so 2.7 million in the UK and 8.3 million in the US, which is a lot real fast. [laughs]

Michael: Cha-ching.

Kat: Yeah, that’s a lot. I mean, although only – I don’t know – half as many as Hallows, right?

Alison: Yeah, probably.

Kat: Hallows was in the 20s, was it not?

Eric: Yeah. I think so.

Michael: Well, and as the movies and books have ended, other books and movies have taken up the mantle from Harry Potter, but this…I think we take it for granted now when we hear a new series has set the record for fastest-selling out of, fastest sales, fastest…

Eric: Oh, I don’t take it for granted. I’m thinking, “Ah, it’s not Harry Potter. I don’t care.”

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Michael: But I think it is important to remember that Harry Potter, I think, set this standard. And again, this series as a whole is a watershed moment for books and how you market a book. The books that are coming out in this generation now – The Hunger Games, Divergent, even Twilight – took from this success, and that was almost right after. But it’s funny because the books that come out now like this, tons of books – maybe not while getting quite this much attention – still get this kind of lavished-upon attention from their publishers to some degree. This was unheard of back then. And the saddest thing that we didn’t have on here, but this was a big deal – It’s all encapsulated; you can still find it on YouTube – that video of that complete arsehole going around to the bookstores and screaming that Dumbledore was dead.

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Michael: Yeah. It’s still online.

Eric: I’ve never watched this video. I’ve never.

Alison: That sounds awful.

Michael: Oh, that was a famous video.

Alison: I’ve never even heard of it.

Michael: It was famous in the Harry Potter fandom.

Kat: I’ve never seen it.

Michael: I’m surprised you guys haven’t heard of this video.

Eric: I don’t think YouTube was around then.

Michael: This video… he might have posted it on another video flash service or something like that; that was pre-YouTube.

Kat: So is it… it’s on YouTube? YouTube. Man yells “Dumbledore is dead.”

Michael: I think you can find it on YouTube now.

Kat: Oh, yeah. It says, “Guy drives past Barnes & Noble and ruins the ending of the newly released Harry Potter book.”

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Let’s briefly listen to this.

Michael: This is awful, you guys. It’s awful.

[YouTube video begins]

Kat: Wait. ebaumsworld, by the way.

[Audio]: I am here at the Barnes & Noble – you can’t see it from here, but there’s a giant crowd outside – and I am about to ruin the Harry Potter ending for them.

Michael: Oh, God!

Kat: Wait, hold on.

[Audio]: It is 1:02 a.m. Central Time. This is Dallas, Texas. Let’s see how pissed off these people get.

Kat: Oh! Like… wow!

Michael: Wait.

Kat: He’s walking, just so you know.

Eric: He’s walking? I hope they tackle him.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Kat: Well, we’ll find out in a moment, won’t we?

[Audio]: And I suck at driving my mom’s minivan.

Kat: Oh, I guess he’s in his mother’s minivan, I think is what he said.

Michael: Yeah, he’s driving.

[Audio]: And I have a friend up there that’s probably never going to forgive me for doing this, but oh well.

Alison: No, they won’t.

Kat: There’s tons of people.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: I’m so scared.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: Turn it off, turn it off, turn it off, turn it off, turn it off…

Kat: No, no.

Eric: Turn it off!

Kat: There’s only ten seconds left.

Eric: No!

[Audio]: Snape kills Dumbledore!

[Alison gasps]

[Audio]: Snape killed Dumbledore!

Michael: Just wait.

[Audio]: Hey! Snape kills Dumbledore!

[Audio]: Nooo! You bitch! You bitch!

Michael: That poor girl at the end impresses me the most.

Alison: [laughs] Oh my gosh!

Michael: He came… he drove right up to her…

Kat: Yeah, he did. She’s standing right outside the window.

Alison: What?!

Michael: … and said it right to her face. You, whoever you are, young man from Dallas, you’re the worst person [laughs] on the face of the Earth.

Alison: [laughs] He’s so mean!

Kat: You’re a dickhead.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Wow!

Alison: [laughs] Who is that horrible human being?

Michael: [laughs] I’m surprised you guys hadn’t seen that before.

Kat: I’ve never seen that before.

Eric: Wasn’t he one of the leading GOP candidates now for this year?

Kat: Yeah, Donald Trump.

Alison: [laughs] Oh my gosh!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I tried a political joke.

Michael: Oh, man.

Eric: Man, that’s just… that’s bad.

Kat: Wow.

Alison: Ugh.

Kat: Wow.

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: Well…

Michael: And it was a big deal. “Snape kills Dumbledore” was like the phrase of this book.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: So that would be forever associated…

Eric: What was the phrase of the last book?

Michael: Angry all-caps Harry…

Alison: Caps lock. [laughs]

Michael: … or something like that.

Alison: Caps lock Harry.

Eric: I guess.

Alison: Well, that guy wins no awards, but the book won lots of awards…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Yes.

Alison: … including the British Book Award, W.H. Smith Book of the Year for 2006, the Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books 8-12 category for 2006, the Quill Awards Best Children’s Book and Best Book of the Year for 2005, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Audio Award for 2006, New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2005. It was listed for the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults in 2006 and listed for Booklist Editor’s Choice Books for Youth for 2005.

Michael: Nice.

Kat: And I’m sure the list is even longer than that.

Alison: Oh… yeah, I’m sure.

Michael: Yeah… oh, it is. Those were probably the most prestigious of what it was given. Yeah, nothing to sniff at.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Again, pretty big deal, too that… essentially because young adult literature didn’t quite exist yet.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: It wasn’t really in its heyday, and Half-Blood is considered young adult. Most libraries will file it under Young Adult rather than Juvenile Fiction. Or they’ll put two copies in both. So for a young adult novel to get this much attention and accolades… again, pretty big deal back then. Not so much anymore, but pretty big deal.

Alison: And that is the wrap for…

Kat: Aww!

Michael: … that part of the book. It’s over.

Michael: Don’t worry, we don’t get to quite leave it yet. Just one more thing to do, which is one of our favorite…

[Kat and Michael laughs]

Michael: … things to do on Alohomora!

Eric: Because it’s our favorite thing to do.

Michael: We get to go through the book covers…

Alison: Yes… yes!

Michael: … and take a good look at these beautiful covers from all over the world.

Kat: And I’m so excited that I’ve haven’t spoiled myself with the covers. [whispers] Yes!

Michael: Listeners, we always say we’re going to do a scroller for you and then we always don’t do it, so just go look them up online. You can find them pretty easy. [laughs]

Kat: Or maybe this time we’ll just do it.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Or maybe we’ll do it!

Eric: This time we’ll follow through on our promise.

[Alison laughs]

Kat and Eric: Yay!

Michael: Probably not. [laughs] So let’s start with China. China, as we remember from the last book cover, had a lovely superimposed photo of Hagrid’s hut from the movie on the top…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: … and then some stuff. [laughs] So they went a little different with their approach this time. I think it’s still the same structure as Order

Eric: Which is Dumbledore’s tomb, right?

Alison: I was going to say…

Kat: Yeah.

Alison: And it looks like the Mary GrandPré Dumbledore’s tomb at the beginning of the chapter.

Kat: Yeah, a little bit. Huh.

Michael: They just take their art from everywhere else for that top section. But on the bottom, they do their own thing.

Eric: Hmm.

Alison: And I see…

Kat: Do I see Dementor hands or something?

Alison: Yeah, I was going to say, it almost looks like… is it supposed to be Inferi?

Michael: That’s what I was going to say.

Kat: Oh, yeah, Inferi. Yeah.

Alison: Because that’s the lake.

Michael: Because they’re…

Alison: They’re in the middle of the lake, yeah.

Michael: It’s a very, very somewhat childish-looking Harry.

Kat: And it looks like Ginny, not Dumbledore.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: It looks like Santa. [laughs] It looks like Santa Claus.

Kat: Santa! Oh, you’re right. It does kind of look like Santa.

Eric: It is Santa, yeah.

Michael: Harry and Santa…

Alison: Aww. [laughs]

Michael: … are having a nice… having a nice drink of green liquid while…

Eric: Hey, the Pevensie children interact with Santa, right? In [Narnia]…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: And Fawkes… there’s always a tradition on the Chinese covers of some kind of creature coming out of the corner, and this time it’s Fawkes.

Alison: Very beautiful Fawkes.

Michael: Which is funny because this is not Order of the Phoenix, but…

Eric: Right.

Kat: And he’s coming out of the fire…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … which Dumbledore was reborn from at the end of the book.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: So it’s good.

Michael: So Dumbledore is alive! [laughs]

Kat: He is alive! Yes!

Alison: [laughs] We’re just all going to hang on…

Michael: Definitely he’s…

Eric: Maybe that’s why Fawkes is never seen nor heard from again. Actually, Dumbledore just decides to go take a vacation.

Kat: I knew it!

Eric: A hard-earned, 150-years-alive, defending-the-wizarding-world…

Kat: Was he… he was like 140… no, 120… this was just confirmed…

Alison: Yeah, I just heard about it today.

Kat: 120-something.

Alison: I don’t remember.

Kat: 100-something… yeah, 120-something, I think, when he died. It was just confirmed.

Michael: But yes, the Chinese cover interestingly… now the thing we’ve discussed about the covers before, too, that we see a lot is the color scheme that they choose to go with, especially because Mary GrandPré tends to lead the way with the color she chooses. This one kind of ignored that, and while there is green on the cover, the predominant cover is kind of orange-ish and rust.

Kat: Mhm.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: It’s very nice though. I love how they did them on the kind of parchment scrolls, too.

Kat: Yeah, that’s pretty.

Alison: Yeah, that’s beautiful.

Michael: It’s a very cool choice. So Denmark is terrifying.

Alison: Holy crap! That is…

Kat: Oh my God!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Whoa. And look, Jake Gyllenhaal wrote it.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: No, that’s the publisher [Gyldendal].

Kat: I know. [laughs]

Michael: Good old Gyldenhaal. Good old Jake Gyldenhaal.

Alison: Okay, that is like… who decided that was a good idea? [laughs]

Kat: That’s really scary. They have hair… they look more like zombies if anything.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah!

Eric: They actually look like… yeah, zombies is the best word. I’ve seen George Romero movies…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: … that were less scary than this. I mean… and where’s Dumbledore, too?

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Dumbledore’s completely gone, like not in the picture at all.

Michael: He’s lying over on that… he’s lying on that part of the rock.

Alison: Harry doesn’t even look concerned. Holy crap!

Eric: Yeah, yeah, that part of the rock. He does look concerned. He’s like, “What’s going on?” Harry’s face is, “I think I left the oven on.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Let’s see, so it’s Harry Potter og Halvblodsprinsen

Eric: Halvblodsprinsen.

Michael: Harry Potter og Halvblodsprinsen. Halvblodsprinsen.

Kat: Yeah. Wow.

Michael: Yeah, that’s… oh, I didn’t pronounce the Chinese one, but I didn’t know how to read it.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Let’s see if I can Google it.

Kat: It’s like a symbol.

[Michael pronounces Chinese title]

Kat: Very good.

Alison: Well, okay.

Michael: Apparently… I mean, that may not be wrong. Listeners, you had plenty of fun correcting me and telling me that I did a good or bad job last time, so let me know.

Kat: Oddly enough, just to bring her up again, our first episode host – our guest host, Hope – her son is pretty much fluent in Mandarin. So I will just ask her how to say it.

Michael: Okay, good, fabulous. But I actually like the Inferi because the ones in the movie were not scary enough to me.

Eric: Yeah, these Inferi are done well. It’s just… it’s not a book you can carry around.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: No, not really.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Eric: Can you imagine how many eight-year-olds had this in their book bags?

Kat: Oh, God!

Alison: Oh my gosh!

Kat: That’s terrifying, terrifying.

[Michael laughs]

Michael: So let’s go to one of our favorite countries. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, Finland.

Michael: Oh, Finland, you’re so fun.

Alison: Okay. [laughs]

Eric: Harry Potter… this is the very artistic attempt of a book within a book. The book is about Harry Potter, but Harry Potter is reading a book about Tammi.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: You know what? Okay, so I got confirmation on that, because that is actually – I think it’s like Jammi or something like that. Which is where we got the Jammi Pensieve from.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah! Yeah.

Kat: That’s right. [laughs]

Michael: That’s the publisher, apparently.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: They love… they’re very well-integrated into the artwork, aren’t they?

Eric: I would have assumed it was the finished word for a potion.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: The Half-Blood Prince is Tammi – Tammi the Half-Blood Prince.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Kat: That’s so funny.

Michael: Harry Potter Ja Puoliverinen Prinssi by J.K. Rowling.

Kat: Very close, Michael, I’m sure.

Alison: Is that Tonks in the back? Is that supposed to be Tonks?

Eric: It’s got to be Ginny.

Michael: That’s Ginny, right?

Alison: Is it?

Eric: That’s got to be Ginny…

Kat: Yeah. Look, they’re all wearing the same scarf. That’s weird.

Eric: … and the freckles…

Michael: Yes, I love her flower – her giant flower coming off of her head.

Alison: Yeah, that’s interesting because it does say when he’s… like the Amortentia is Ginny’s hair that smells floral. Or not hair, something about Ginny smells floral.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Kat: And look at the Dark Mark in the top right hand corner. I just noticed.

Michael: Yeah! Yeah.

Alison: Ooh.

Kat: Dumbledore coming out of the lightning-struck tower. Yeah, it’s because Harry’s reading to him, and you know…

Michael: [laughs] The Half-Blood Prince’s book is so tiny. It’s like one of those pocket dictionaries for when you’re studying another language.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Like hey, I just got to Finland. What do I do now?

Michael: I don’t know how Harry can read that over his nose though.

Kat: Yeah, and look at another cover that doesn’t have them in robes and they’re at school.

Michael: I think they are in robes.

Kat: What, how are they in robes? Ginny’s wearing a pink bedazzled sweater.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah, but look… they’ve always had this on the Finnish covers. Those scarves they wear are kind of attached… those are the linings of robes. They always wear those in the Finnish editions. Dumbledore’s wearing robes, definitely.

Kat: Well, I know he is. Yeah, I guess it looks more like a bathrobe to me. Because I don’t really see… besides the collar, I don’t see one on Ginny…

Eric: She’s wearing the red cape like Harry is.

Kat: Oh, I guess you can barely see it over her shoulder.

Michael: Yeah, that’s like a red shawl kind of thing. If that even is Ginny, which we’re pretty sure. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah, it’s got to be.

Michael: [in French accent] So let us move on to France. Oui, oui.

Alison: Yes.

Michael: They have a beautiful cover, don’t you think?

Alison: It looks like someone tried to copy a Monet or something.

Kat: I always like the French covers. They’re very impressionistic. I enjoy that.

Michael: Yeah, it looks kind of like they pressed hard with pastels…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … is what they use. Or chalk.

Eric: You know what, that’s exactly what that looks like, and I kind of like it.

Michael: The interesting thing is that we’ll see later that their covers are very similar to Mary GrandPré’s deluxe cover for the US. They chose to depict Harry and Dumbledore wandering through the forest toward the Gaunt house in the memory, which was a good choice. So there’s that. Oh, wait! In French. How do we say Harry Potter? Harry Potter

Eric:et la Prince de Sang-Mêlé.

Michael: Harry Potter et le Prince de Sang-Mêlé.

Eric: I am convinced that that was pretty expertly…

Kat: That sounds pretty good.

Michael: I can BS it pretty well, right?

[Eric laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: The French are like, [in a French accent] “How dare you?!”

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Kat: It’s okay. We insult them every time, so…

Eric: [in a French accent] I spit in your general direction!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: The French have interestingly gone with a more blue-purple cover, similar to our version of Order. Much more cool colors. Let’s see, Germany with their beautiful woodcut covers that they always use.

Kat: [laughs] Oh!

Alison: Harry’s hair!

Kat: Worm-haired Harry, yup.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: There are actually two Potters.

Michael: Yes. Harry – no matter whether he’s in the moment that the covers are depicting – will also always be depicted as a second Harry up at the front kind of giving you a very smug “Yeah, I’m the hero of this book, and you’re not.”

Kat: And these are the covers, too, that list Joanne Rowling, instead of just J.K. Rowling.

Michael: Yes, they are not afraid of women writers in fantasy in Germany, apparently.

Alison: [laughs] That boat looks…

Michael: Harry Potter und der Halbblutprinz.

Eric: I really like… you can see the silhouettes of bodies, like chalked outline type of style.

Michael: Yeah, in the water.

Kat: Oh, it’s so creepy.

Eric: In the water.

Kat: Dumbledore… who does he look like? He looks like somebody.

Alison: No, he does.

Michael: Not Dumbledore.

Kat: And I can’t put my finger on it.

Michael: He does look like… [laughs] this is a weird one…

Eric: Kingsley.

Michael: You know who he looks like to me? He looks like Sam the Eagle.

Kat: Yes!

Eric: Yeah.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Oh my God! That’s totally it! Because of the long face and the big nose.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: The cover expertly has Harry and Dumbledore gliding toward the basin.

Kat: And Dumbledore is wearing what looks like his fabulous velvet suit.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Dumbledore did dress for the occasion.

Michael: Yes. Yes. Oh, and he’s showing a little bit… is he showing a little bit of ankle?

Kat: [laughs] He is very scandalous.

Michael: Dumbledore!

Eric: Prepping for a flood.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It’s interesting to see which… now, no matter if it chooses different moments, many these covers so far have chosen to depict Harry and Dumbledore together, which is interesting because nobody’s chosen the romantic angle so far, but they’ve almost…

Eric: Yeah, nobody’s chosen Ron and Lavender sucking face.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Or having an intellectual conversation. But yeah, Harry is showing ankle on this cover too.

Michael: So Italy! [in an Italian accent] Beautiful Italy.

Kat: Oh, I love these covers so much.

Michael: Harry Potter e il Principe Mezzosangue

Eric: Whose hand is on the right? It’s got to be Harry’s, maybe? Right above “SALANI EDITORE.”

Alison: It looks like he’s swimming in the book.

Eric: Swirling? Could it be the Pensieve? Or there’s like a flow of a beard.

Michael: Okay, so this is hard to describe, listeners. You really are going to have to look this one up.

Eric: This is really cool. This is like being sucked into the Pensieve.

Alison: [gasps] No! It is the Pensieve.

Kat: Yeah, that’s what it is.

Alison: It’s Dumbledore’s office! Oh, that’s definitely Dumbledore’s office.

Kat: And that’s Dumbledore’s hair, I think.

Michael: Yes, it is.

Alison: Because there’s the sword in the background and…

Michael: Yeah, the Italian covers always go for a little more abstract depictions. They kind of mesh a lot of moments together too. But yeah, that’s definitely the Pensieve because of all the little symbols all around it.

Kat: And what is in the vial? Is it a snake?

Alison: Is it a toad?

Kat: It looks like maybe a shark or something?

Michael: It looks like a frog.

Eric: Looks like a frog.

Kat: What’s a frog?

Michael: Oh, is that the ring balancing on the Half-Blood Prince’s book? What is that?

Alison and Eric: What?

Michael: The gold thing.

Eric: Yes, got it. The spine.

Alison: No.

Kat: That’s big for a ring.

Michael: Oh, no, that’s the locket. Is it the locket?

Kat: No.

Alison: Maybe.

Eric: Yeah, it’s got to be the locket. It’s actually hanging from the top of the book.

Alison: What?

Michael: Oh, yeah! Look at that! That’s its chain hanging down.

Kat: But the locket doesn’t actually appear.

Alison: Yeah, it does.

Michael: Well, it could be the fake locket.

Kat: I guess so.

Michael: Doesn’t look anything like the [real] locket.

Eric: It doesn’t have an S on it, and that’s what…

Michael: No.

Kat: So wait, so wait, if that’s a frog, what’s the frog mean? Why is there a frog in the vial?

Alison: I have no idea.

Eric: Potions.

Kat: Potions, maybe?

Michael: Italy, yeah, they do abstract, almost collage-type stuff. They try to mesh everything together.

Kat: It’s beautiful.

Michael: It is.

Kat: Dumbledore’s hair! I want it!

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It’s gorgeous. Yeah, absolutely.

Kat: Look at those highlights.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: It’s beautiful.

Alison: Dumbledore is worth it.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: Dumbledore is worth it. Yeah, that’s right.

Michael: So journeying back to Asia, we’ll hop over to Japan. They have also chosen to depict Harry and Dumbledore in the boat, but they are arriving at the basin. Harry is not really in it.

Eric: No. He’s kind of a shadow.

Kat: He’s a shadow, yeah.

Michael: Dumbledore takes front center stage on this one. The thing about the Japan[ese] covers is, they also do what appears to be colored pencil/pastel type of art, and it’s very… it seems to be intentionally smudged.

Kat: Yeah, they’ve always been very vague-looking, not very sharp.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and it’s… again, they’ve chosen cool colors. That seems to be generally the theme. A few have gone the opposite route. Italy went the opposite way, and China did as well.

Kat: I found it funny that the base in itself looks like it’s on fire, but the flames are green. I’m sure that that’s just light emanating from it, but I get flames instead of light.

Michael: Yeah, that’s what I got too. Well, and in the, I think… was it the Dutch cover that we looked at where there’s a giant laser shooting out of the…

Kat: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, that’s the [Danish] cover. The light is blasting out of the basin.

Kat: Yeah. Yeah, I just find it funny that Harry is basically just a black smudge.

Michael: Yeah. [laughs] Yeah, he’s not important.

Kat: No, not really.

Michael: He’s just Harry Potter, that’s all. Hari Potta to nazo no purinsu.

Kat: Nice.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: You didn’t butcher that one at all.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Sounds great. Another interesting one: the Netherlands. Now, the interesting thing about the Netherlands is they almost never depict a face on their covers. But they do depict bodies but no faces.

Kat: With weird animals in the…

Alison: Yeah, what is that? Is that a house-elf?

Kat: Yes.

Michael: Oh, where are you seeing a house-elf?

Kat: In the J.K. Rowling banner at the top.

Michael: Oh, that’s a house-elf. That’s very…

Alison: An angry house-elf.

Kat: Creepy,. It looks more like a gremlin.

Michael: It does. I mean, it doesn’t really…

Eric: That, to me, is like book-Kreacher. That very clearly looks how Kreacher would look.

Kat: So this moment is when they’re running away from the tower or running up to the tower.

Eric: Yeah, the end of the “Lightning-Struck Tower” chapter. Or just after, actually.

Alison: Yeah, interesting that they would choose to do that battle sequence.

Michael: Yeah, this has to probably be the most interesting choice of the covers because it does not depict… nobody else chose to depict this one.

Eric: That’s what I like about it too, it is that they didn’t go straight for the cave scene.

Michael: Yeah, that seems to be the go-to. Is that Snape running up the stairs?

Kat: See, that’s what I’m trying to figure out, I can’t tell. The way the cloaks are flowing, it does look like he’s running up the stairs, and somebody from the Order is shooting at him. Because look at the shadow coming out around the pillar.

Michael: Because yeah, it doesn’t look like they’re running down, because we’re seeing them from the back, it looks like.

Kat: Right. And then that other spell is coming off from stage left.

Michael: Yeah. This one’s a pretty easy one to pronounce: Harry Potter en de Halfbloed-Prins.

Eric: Oh, there you go.

Michael: So the Spanish edition: Harry Potter y el misterio del pr?cipe.

Eric: I like this one because it’s pretty much like Harry is in the boat, but it could be also his crib.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: And Dumbledore has come to see him at his house at the beginning of the book, and Harry is angry… I don’t know. There’s something off about…

Michael: I like that Harry’s eyes are exactly the shape of his glasses.

Kat: Yeah, those are really cute.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Well, he got the correct glasses.

Michael: [laughs] Perfect prescription.

Eric: The Dursleys care a little bit more about him in Spain.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: You know what is funny, though? Still, none of them are really depicting Harry as the description in the book. I feel like all of these are influenced by the perfection that is Dan Rad. Because his hair is not messy, his clothes aren’t oversized, even though, I mean, he has grown into his clothes probably by now.

Michael: Right. Well, the interesting thing about a lot of the covers as opposed to Mary GrandPré is that Harry tends to not mature in a lot of other people’s art. He ends up looking exactly the same.

Eric: Yeah, this is not 16. I don’t think 16 is getting captured in Spain’s. You know how 16-year-olds today look younger.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Maybe now, but not then.

Alison: I find it interesting that this one, especially, is… Dumbledore and Harry look like they have… they almost look Spanish. Does that make sense? Interesting that they look like the countries that these covers are from.

Michael: Yeah, they’ve taken on distinct features of that country’s… if you stereotype a country, there is a distinct look to each individual in that country, and I think there is… well, and I think the wonderful thing about that is that a lot of people find Harry Potter relatable and therefore can take him on to decide to represent him in the way they want in their art.

Alison: Yeah, I like it.

Michael: And that’s definitely done here. And again, the Spanish version has seemed to have taken inspiration from Mary GrandPré and they have gone with green as the predominant color and chosen a very similar moment. The Spanish covers do tend to take moderate inspiration from Mary GrandPré, Sweden! You’re intense. This is… okay… this is awesome. Also, first of all, captures 16. I think that absolutely captures 16. Yes. Harry is wearing a blazer! He looks so handsome.

Kat: Damn!

Eric: He is not as… yeah, wow.

Kat: He’s on fleek!

Michael: That lapel, though. [laughs]

Eric: No, Dumbledore just looks like he?s going to his bed.

Kat: No, check out the braid. I mean, that?s a dope braid that Dumbledore is sporting.

Eric: That is a dope braid. Not as dope as the hat.

Michael: Harry is wearing the clothes that Malfoy wears in the sixth movie.

Kat: That’s true. Pretty much, except for the white shirt.

Michael: Okay, that’s actually true. He looks good. Good choice, Harry. Probably one of the greatest things about this is, everybody else… yeah, I was going to say, all the other arts has skimped on the boat. The boat is a boat in all the other versions. But this boat is a boat made of bones and skeletons. And every tiny detail is drawn on it, and it looks quite beautiful. In a terrifying way.

Eric: This cover wins the Best Boat Award.


Michael: Yes. Absolutely. And we also get a nice, eerie hint of an Inferi, because the way the waves are positioned, we get a raised wave with an Inferi underneath.

Eric: Yeah, that’s cool.

Michael: It looks very cool. And again, excellent choice for… they depicted a moment everybody else has been choosing, but I think they might win for best depiction. Best take on it. So it’s very well shaded, very well detailed. Harry Potter och Halvblodsprinsen.

Eric: There’s no indication of where they’re coming from or where they’re going. We don’t see the Pensieve that they’re heading to.

Michael: Yeah, no, it’s solely focused on Harry and Dumbledore.

Eric: This is a new favorite. This, I think, the very first time I’ve seen this cover.

Alison: Yeah, I like this one.

Michael: And now one of my personal favorites…

Alison: Ooh.

Michael: Thank you, Ukraine, for existing and doing the book covers you do for Harry Potter. You do my favorite book covers ever.

Kat: Really very awesome, aren’t they?

Michael: They are.

Eric: Certainly intricate. Certainly very elaborate.

Michael: Yes. Every little thing has detail on it. This cover also chose to depict Harry and Dumbledore in the boat, and they are coming straight at you in the way that it’s positioned. And the boat is not quite as detailed as Sweden’s, but it does have some nice touches to it.

Eric: I don’t like it.

Michael: You don’t like their boat?

Eric: No, no, no, no. In fact, the front cover I don’t like at all. Not even a teeny, tiny, little bit.

Michael: Really? But…

Alison: He looks very Dan Rad.

Michael: He does.

Eric: In direct contrast, though, the back cover is everything.

Michael: The back cover’s fantastic.

Eric: The back cover, to me, is absolutely everything. It’s a magnificent, master work of art.

Kat: Every single one of them, you’re right, looks exactly like the movie character.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Look at Hagird. That is Robbie Coltrane.

Alison: Hagrid’s suit, even, is spot on.

Michael: That’s the movie suit.

Eric: It’s definitely Rupert Grint on the back cover.

Michael: That’s definitely Daniel Radcliffe.

Eric: There could be a class action lawsuit where the actors sue the book publishers for doing this, but…

Michael: And they used, like, 11-year-old Hermione. [laughs]

Eric: To pair with 16-year-old Harry and Ron.

Alison: No, that looks like 12-year-old Rupert Grint. [laughs]

Michael: That’s true.

Kat: Wow, I can’t believe that.

Michael: The back cover seems to be a combination of the lightning-struck tower and Dumbledore’s funeral. Interestingly, they’ve chosen to depict the moment we discussed earlier where the phoenix rises out of the smoke from Dumbledore’s grave.

Eric: Body, yeah.

Michael: From is tomb. But the phoenix depicted is not just a metaphorical smoke phoenix; it’s Fawkes.

Kat [whispers] Dumbledore is alive.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: Dumbledore is so alive, you guys. The neat thing about the Ukraine covers: If you line the spines up, they make a very interesting piece of abstract art. This particular section is the basin, and if you line them all up, it’s actually Harry facing the basin on one end and Dumbledore on the other.

Eric: No way.

Michael: Like a really cool… Dumbledore’s cloak turning into a phoenix tail.

Alison: Wow.

Michael: Yeah. It looks pretty neat.

Eric: I?m going to look that up.

Michael: Yes, and my favorite publisher A-Ba-Ba-Ga-La-Ma-Ga. [laughs] Again, I was explained to by a listener that that is apparently… the publisher is named after the phonetic sounds that babies make in Ukraine. That’s how they… rather than “goo-goo-ga-ga,” it’s more like “a-ba-ba-ga-ga-ga-ga.” So now we get on to some editions that are a little more familiar to the UK and US readers. And while other countries have their own editions, some of these did end up get imported into other countries. So the first one is the UK children’s edition.

Alison: I have this one!

Michael: [in a British accent] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.

Kat: Wow, you nailed that pronunciation.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I got this one, you guys.

Eric: I don’t know, guys. I think he…

Michael: A little off.

Eric: A little wonky, yeah.

Alison: It’s the children’s edition. You have to sound like a child.

Eric: This is the first time – correct me if I’m wrong – that the UK children’s and the US chose the same scene for their cover, because I remember this being a big deal. I suppose Prisoner of Azkaban both has them on the hippogriff, but if I’m remembering Book 3 correctly… what is the US cover of Book 3?

Michael: They’re on Buckbeak in Book 3.

Alison: Yeah, they’re on the hippogriff.

Eric: They’re on the hippogriff, but it’s somewhere else? Okay, because in the UK edition, they’re both flying away, up to the tower, I think, something like that. Okay, anyway, never mind then, but I was put off at first how they were both the same exact scene because I wanted to see some variety. But that of course has changed up in the other versions.

Kat: Well, they’re not exactly the same…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … because this is after…

Eric: Yeah, there’s one where they’re defending against the…

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: … Inferi.

Kat: I just like on the UK children’s one, how classy the basin looks.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: It’s so British.

Eric: Yeah.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Fancy.

Kat: Yeah. It’s very fancy.

Alison: Harry…

Kat: Super classy.

Alison: … looks older in this one, too. Harry looks about sixteen on this cover.

Eric: Yeah. I would say about that. Mhm.

Michael: And then on the jacket flaps, we actually have Snape and Narcissa’s hands as they are doing the Unbreakable Vow.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Right.

Michael: Which is a great choice. Once again, even though green was not the main color for the art, green is the jacket cover color.

Kat: So it’s funny to think about that Unbreakable Vow and looking at the jacket summary, because you wouldn’t…

Michael: … even know what that is.

Alison: Exactly.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yup, you wouldn’t connect it or have any hint whatsoever.

Michael: No.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: But yes, the…interestingly, the depiction of Dumbledore casting the Fiendfyre is very similar to a card from the Harry Potter trading card game…

Kat: Huh.

Michael: … where Dumbledore is casting an intense spell and it’s almost at that exact angle. But, of course, Half-Blood Prince hadn’t even come out by then.

Eric: Hmm.

Michael: But it’s very similar to that artwork. And then, of course, the UK, just like the US, had a gazillion different editions.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: We’ll touch on just a few of them. One of those would be the UK Signature edition, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Eric: And that’s much more recent, and I like this a lot.

Michael: Yes. These are the kind of sparkly diamond ones.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: This one seems probably to be one of the more detailed sparkly diamond ones.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: It has Harry and Dumbledore standing on the rocks just outside of the cave with crashing waves that seem to have come out of a Japanese painting.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: They’re beautiful.

Eric and Michael: Yeah.

Alison: Harry’s casting…

Michael: And Dumbledore’s casting some fireworks. So the UK adult edition, famously known as the editions so that adults wouldn’t have to admit they were reading Harry Potter to their friends…

Eric: Right.

Michael: [laughs] If you saw them on the shelf.

Alison: Even though it says, Harry Potter really large. [laughs]

Michael: In nice big lettering. But yes, if you put them on your shelf with the side binding, it’s subtle. Yes, “J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” We get an actual photograph of the Half-Blood Prince’s book, which looks like quite a tome from this angle, sitting on the corner of a desk.

Kat: It’s beautiful. Where is that book now?

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: I want that book.

Alison: I want that.

Eric: I really want that book. You mean it’s not at the Studio Tour? Ugh.

Alison: No.

Kat: It’s not. It should be, though.

Eric: I bet it’s at Bloomsbury’s headquarters. The CEO has it in a glass case.

Michael: Yes, MinaLima does not seem to have taken any inspiration from this depiction.

Kat: Right.

Michael: Because theirs is very different. But it even has the author of the… the correct author. So then of course the UK updated the adult editions very recently. I actually prefer these adult covers from the UK. They’re very… they love their impact font.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: “J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Kat: Yeah, this one… the contrast in this one is killing my eyes…

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Kat: … with the red and the blue. Ugh. God. Murder.

Michael: It’s sharp.

Eric: There’s a phrase for this type of art. It’s like you can do this almost with a stamp.

Michael: Mmm.

Eric: You can carve out…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: … of some material and stamp it. We used to…

Alison: I did that in elementary school.

Eric: We used this art form in high school. And I guess that shows the difference between your school system and mine.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Eric: You did this when you were five and I did this when I was seventeen.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: A little bit of a difference there. But yeah, this is totally really a cool look, I think, even though the contrast is rough.

Michael: Yeah, as I mentioned on the previous episode for Order of the Phoenix covers, but this seems to be very inspired by Hitchcock films and Saul Bass, who designed the titles for Hitchcock’s movies…

Eric: Mmm.

Michael: … which are… that art style you’re talking about, Eric, it’s very… it looks like paper cutout…

Alison: Mmm.

Michael: … stamp type of a look and the way that all the wording is turned sideways is unusual. And then we have this scene depicted on the back is the Dark Mark over the Astronomy Tower. The lightning-struck tower scene, which Mary GrandPré chose to do as a chapter title, but they have taken as a full book cover. And they have used red as their predominant color. Blood red.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Very different choice from… I think obviously, the green comes from the very predominant description of the green potion in the basin.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Which a lot of people went with. So it’s very…

Alison: The Dark Mark.

Michael: Yes. So it’s intriguing to see when the other illustrators decided to go the opposite route, which this one definitely does. Usually, people are not depicted in the new adult editions. We usually just get a scene or a creature, which is what we get there. But scrolling back up, the latest that we have is Mr. Jonny Duddle with his very starry Harry Potter. They have moved the scar over from the P to the O, and…

Eric: Oh, interesting.

Michael: Yes. And yet again we get a depiction of… it is almost a direct update of the children’s edition into a new children’s edition, because it is the same scene of Dumbledore defending Harry from the Inferi, but we just get more Inferi rather than none.

Alison and Eric: Yeah.

Alison: I’m not super fond of these. They look very cartoonish. And Harry always looks like he’s eleven.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Harry does look young, but I would say that they’re probably… that was intentional to make it look smooth.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat and Michael: Yeah…

Michael: Oh, go ahead, Kat.

Kat: I like the style of these. It does bother me that Harry doesn’t mature.

Michael: Yeah. That bothers me too.

Kat: That’s my biggest… I don’t even want to say complaint, but dislike about Duddle’s covers, but in general, I like the feel of his covers. They feel more magical to me than the other ones.

Alison: Mhm.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: The original children’s edition, the UK children’s edition, they just feel a little…

Eric: [unintelligible]

Michael: Yeah. I feel that way too.

Kat: Yeah. The thing about those is that they’re just a little square. The illustration doesn’t take up the entire cover…

Eric: Right.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … like Duddle’s do, and I just feel like it envelops the book better.

Michael: Yeah. I like Duddle’s covers, like you said Kat, I like that he uses bright colors because it feels magical to me.

Kat: Yeah, it really does.

Michael: I like the color choices he makes. I actually really like his depiction of Dumbledore.

Kat: Me too.

Michael: I think that’s close to how I picture Dumbledore.

Kat: He looks badass and I love it. I love it.

Michael: He looks pretty awesome. The Inferi do look a little too skeleton-cartoony to me, but overall…

Kat: Especially the one on the bottom left.

Alison and Michael: Yeah. [laughs]

Kat: It looks like a Muppet.

Michael: Yeah. That one, not so much. But overall, I like Duddle’s depictions. They do seem to have a pretty magical element to them. So that’s the latest coming from the UK. We don’t have all of… who’s the new illustrator?

Alison and Kat: Jim Kay.

Michael: Jim Kay. We don’t have all of Jim Kay’s covers yet, but we’ll see what happens when those come out since his will be fully illustrated books. But then we move on to the US.

Kat: Yes.

Alison: Yay!

Michael: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Eric: Here we go!

Michael: Yeehaw.

Kat: Wow. Texan you went with, huh? Nice.

Michael: So, the most traditional one that we know and recognize the most here in the US is Mary GrandPré’s original artwork, which features on the cover, Harry and Dumbledore contemplating the basin, just before Dumbledore takes a drink. He’s clearly casting his magic over it and ever so nicely, she has taken the light and turned it into swirls of smoke all around Harry and…

Alison: Yes…

Michael: … Dumbledore.

Kat: It’s so pretty.

Michael: Once again, the complaint that we have that is remedied here with Mary GrandPre, Harry has notably matured…

Everyone: Mhm.

Michael: … in his appearance. Interestingly, on the back is the lightning-struck tower and like the Ukraine, we have a few characters but they’re contemplating the lightning-struck tower. We can definitely see Ron, Hermione, and a little bit of Ginny.

Eric: Yeah.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: I was never sure exactly who they were.

Alison: Uhh…

Michael: It’s definitely Ron and Hermione up front.

Alison: I’m pretty sure that’s Ginny.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, the hair…

Eric: It’s also a totally less-than-descript guy behind Ron…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yes!

Eric: It’s not completely in shadow, it actually looks like a baby’s head now that I’m thinking about it…

Kat: Oh, Lord.

Alison: Aww… oh my gosh.

Michael: It could be anyone. You know who that is? That’s you.

Alison: Oh!

Eric: The reader.

Michael: Because you’re a part of the story.

Eric: That’s the best thing.

Michael: And there’s green. Green everywhere.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Nothing but green.

Eric: It’s because there’s so many words on the back cover and on the actual book that I’ve never looked that closely at these characters before.

Michael: Yes, Mary GrandPré from Book 4 but definitely Book 5 on, chose one color and she went with that one color.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Alison: The funny thing about 6 and 7, if you line them up on the shelf, the green in 6 and the orangey-red in 7 are so vibrant compared to the other colors…

Michael: Mhm. Yeah.

Alison: … that they just hit you in the face.

[Kat laughs]

Alison: But I like this one. I like the ethereal feel of the swirly, misty… you don’t quite know what’s going on in the background.

Michael: Yeah. What’s interesting too about the evolution of Mary GrandPré’s art is while she still does a bit of collage theme, she’s evolved from… Book 1, interestingly, depicts almost a stage where the action of Harry Potter is playing out on stage and she just meshes a bunch of random imagery and moments together, but she’s moved away from that and she’s depicting more definitive moments in these later books. Goblet is the last one to do that…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Mhm.

Michael: … and from there on she does more definitive moments that we get from these covers.

Eric: And nowhere is that clearer than with the deluxe edition…

Michael: The deluxe editions! Eric’s favorite!

Alison: Oh, I want it! I want it!

Michael: This is the one I would buy, poster-sized, hang it on my wall…

Alison: Yes.

Michael: Yes, it’s beautiful. So this depicts… just like the French cover, this is almost like if you took the French cover and you shifted it over to the right.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah, that’s true. Because Harry and Dumbledore are in almost the exact same position.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yup. It’s still going with the green theme, but there’s definitely more purple tones…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … and blue tones added in. Again, these covers were released a little later by Scholastic as box sets that were originally exclusive to Scholastic school sales and then they would be released to the main stores. You get them in a big hefty plastic box and then you pull it out and you see the full cover, which has no words on it, which is nice. So it is almost like a print.

Eric: Yeah, I mean it’s Bob Ogden, going and checking on the Gaunts in the Gaunt house. I love there’s almost… the snake is nailed to the door, right?

Kat: There’s silhouettes in the windows.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: Silhouettes in the windows, the knife…

Alison: There’s a knife in the tree.

Eric: Tree, yeah.

Michael: Yeah. It looks great.

Kat: And I like how the edges are fuzzy so that you know you’re in a memory.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: That’s cool too.

Kat: With a vignette around the edge.

Michael: While many of the illustrators do a great job with depicting Harry and Dumbledore, Mary GrandPré’s is always my true Harry.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: He’s what I see.

Alison: Same.

Michael: So it’s very, very close to my image.

Kat: What, you don’t see wormy-haired Germany Harry?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: I actually see Danish Harry.

Kat: Cool.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: And of course, most recently, our good friend Kazu Kibuishi redesigned the covers for paperback releases for a new generation, and his choice for Half-Blood Prince was Harry and Dumbledore intensely standing upon the rock. Seemingly facing the wrong way, but…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I don’t think it’s the wrong way. I think… imagine you’re the hole of the cave. Imagine you’re the opening of the cave and they’re staring at you.

Michael: Yeah, maybe there’s a little bit of a curve in the mountainside there.

Eric: There’s a curve in the rock face. What I like the most about Kazu’s is the sea mist…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Mmm.

Eric: … is the ocean mist coming up from that. That looks very realistic.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Well, and the benefit that Kazu has over many of the other illustrators is that he comes almost completely out of the digital age.

Alison and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: Layers, and he’s able to use them effectively.

Michael: You can definitely see the inspiration for that.

Kat: This is my favorite Kazu cover out of the seven.

Michael: Oh, yeah?

Alison: Really?

Kat: Yeah. I just absolutely love it. Only up until about two weeks ago from when it released, it was the cover on my phone. The background of my phone.

Alison and Michael: Oh, cool.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: It’s beautiful.

Michael: Yes, and interestingly – not something Kazu commonly chose to do for the covers – but he does depict Harry and Dumbledore full on with their faces.

Kat: Right. Oh.

Michael: He did discuss before… he initially took the Pottermore route with his artwork…

Eric: Right.

Michael: … which was to try to put the faces at an angle or shadow them so that they would be left to your imagination, as the reader. But he seems to have abandoned that concept mostly for this cover.

Eric: It’s from far away.

Alison: Well… I was going to say, this one is far enough away that you can’t really see details, and so that’s okay.

Michael: Oh, you can definitely see details if you’re holding the book in your hand.

Eric: Eh, but I mean, the source of light is from behind Dumbledore. The moon is on his silvery hair from behind.

Michael: Yeah, the faces definitely aren’t the focal point of the cover.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: I think the focal point is actually Dumbledore’s wand light.

Kat: What I also really like about Kazu’s covers is actually the backs.

Michael: Yes. Do you have a picture of the back? Because I couldn’t get a picture.

Kat: I just put a link.

Michael: Oh, fabulous. Okay. Because the back…

Kat: Because MuggleNet exclusively revealed them.

Michael: Yes, and the back cover, as we know, has Harry… this does go the Pottermore route with Harry not facing us. He’s facing Dumbledore. All of Kazu’s back covers depict a character – usually Harry, but sometimes others with him – facing away from us. As Kazu said, that was an attempt to show Harry going into the adventure of each book. Dumbledore is facing him directly, brilliantly and beautifully lit from the glow of the Pensieve, which is a very nice…

Eric: I love the portrait lady behind him. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, those eyes!

Kat: With the big eyes. Rawr.

Michael: And as we also note, too, thanks to our interview with Kazu back in Goblet of Fire, he chose all of the quotes that are on the back of his editions.

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: Love it.

Michael: And the quote that Kazu chose for this one was, “When you have that last piece of the jigsaw, everything will, I hope, be clear.”

Eric: Stop withholding info, Dumbledore.

Kat: Ooh.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: [laughs] I think that’s a great choice, though, for Half-Blood.

Kat: A great choice.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: It’s a good one.

Michael: I just noticed, too; I love the ornate design on Dumbledore’s desk of the tree.

Alison: Ooh, that’s pretty.

Kat: Yeah, because that actually depicts what his desk looks like in the film.

Michael: In the movie?

Kat: Yeah. Because the top of his desk in the film, you can’t really see it, but is all inlaid with hand-cut leather in the shape of zodiac signs and things of that nature.

Michael: Oh, cool.

Kat: So that’s pretty cool. And the Sorting Hat is there, too.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Michael: I was going to say, over to the right. The Sorting Hat is just sitting there looking particularly suave.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Yeah. It’s been working out.

Michael: I think that’s the best we’ve ever seen the Sorting Hat looking.

Kat: It’s been working out.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah. So while that’s all that we are going to go over, listeners, there are plenty more covers out there. Feel free to go explore them on your own. I think we tend to see that on the book wraps and ending shows, we don’t get a lot of comments on that because usually you guys say, “Oh, you said everything we wanted to say.” But please, if you find more interesting covers that you want to pick apart, or you find things in the covers that we did not see, we want to hear your thoughts and your observations and what you found. So make sure and leave your thoughts on the Alohomora! main site on our post about this episode.

Kat: Yeah, if you’re not bored of listening to us after two hours.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But that’s it. That’s the end of… [sighs] Bye-bye, Half-Blood Prince.

Alison: That’s all.

Kat: Oh, I’m sad leaving this one behind, guys. I’m sad.

Michael: Quick final thoughts from everybody?

Eric: It will always be here, on my bookshelf, for those who remain loyal.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I’m going to end it with one word: Masterful.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely.

Alison: Ooh, that’s a good word.

Eric: I’ll end it with one word: Snogging.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kat: That’s a good one.

Michael: My word will be under-appreciated.

Kat: Mm, that’s a good one.

Alison: Decadent. A very decadent book.

Michael: Ooh. It is. It’s just like a piece of chocolate.

Alison: Yes.

Michael: A delicious…

Eric: I’m changing my word.

Kat: You can’t.

Eric: I’m changing my word to essential.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: But snogging is better.

Eric: No.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Essential snogging!

Alison: Essential snogging. [laughs]

Michael: [laughs] Two words. No, I think that’s also an excellent choice for a word because that goes along with underrated.

Eric: Now we do have, apart from our movie episode, an entire other book, a final, seventh book to get through with…

Alison: Woohoo! Yeah!

Eric: … that’s the one with 38 chapters, isn’t it?

Kat: Yes, is is. Yeah.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: There are 38 opportunities that we can confirm remaining to you, the listener, to come and guest host on our show the way that guests have been dong all the way back since Hope on Episode 1.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: So [if] you would like to be on Alohomora!, please visit the “Be on the Show” page at There are instructions, there are examples – actually, no, your examples are on the feed – but if you have a set of Apple headphones, for instance, you’re all set. No fancy equipment is needed. And once again, we want to remind people that this Saturday, August 8 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, we will be going through the movie Half-Blood Prince.

Michael: Speak now or forever hold your peace, listeners.

Alison: Yes. And I will tear it apart.

Eric: Don’t we usually allow call-ins? Is that why that’s in this section? We usually allow people to call in?

Michael: Yes, also call in because we love you.

Kat: Yeah, the live show will take place immediately after the movie is done.

Eric: Okay, and people call in for that, so definitely check that out.

Kat: Correct.

Alison: Yup. And if you just want to stay in contact with us until then, until I rip apart that movie, which I’m quite excited about…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: … you can tweet us at @AlohomoraMN, visit us on Facebook at, on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast, or call us at 206-GO-ABLUS, 206-462-5287, or send us an audioBoom on It’s free. All you need is a microphone, and keep it under 60 seconds so we can play it.

Kat: And don’t forget to check out our Alohomora! store. Well, we have really cool things like flip-flops and sweatshirts and T-shirts and tote bags and cute little doggie bandanas. No, seriously. So head over there and check that out. And while you’re on the website, don’t forget to download some ringtones, which are free and available to you so you can jam out to us even when you’re not listing to us.

Michael: Jam with the jamming Pensieve.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Yeah, jamming Pensieve, yeah.

Michael: While you’re reading your book by Tammy.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Little book… pocket dictionary.

Michael: And of course, we also have our Alohomora! smartphone app, available – take a drink – on this side of the pond and the other.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Seemingly worldwide!

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Just for you, listeners. Prices vary depending on your location. The app includes transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and more. Oh, so much app content we’ve got nicely backlogged away for you, listeners, coming up, so you have that to look forward to because we just did our trip to the Wizarding World.

Kat: Yeah, and five of us were together, which I think is the biggest group we’ve had.

Michael: We must do just a quick shoutout and hello and wonderful thank you to all of the wonderful people that we talked to at Universal Studios and at the convention because I know I, in particular, had some great interactions with some Potter fans out there. I hope some of you are listening now to the show. It would be good to see you guys on the comments sections in the forums coming up soon. But thank you for your wonderful interactions and coming up to us and saying hi. And until the next time that we say hi and we all meet again, this is the end of this episode, and this is the end of Half-Blood Prince. I’m Michael Harle.

Eric: I’m Eric Scull.

Kat: I’m Kat Miller.

Alison: And I’m… [coughs] sorry.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Oh, wow.

Kat: And I’m choking to death.

Michael: And that’s an Inferi! Run!

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: It’s trying to talk!

[Show music begins]

Alison: I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 149 of Alohomora!

Eric: Open the Dumbledore’s tomb.

Alison: Oh.

Kat and Michael: Aww.

[Show music continues]

Michael: So yeah, she’s a good mom.

Kat: Good mom.

Eric: She is a good mom.

Kat: I was just going to say that. Good momma.

Alison: Yeah, that makes me happy.

Michael: Not that you need our approval or assessment, Rowling.

Kat: Right, no. Not at all, not at all.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Because the four of us are definitely experts in children.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Having exactly zero between the four of us.

Eric: That we know about, Kat.

Kat: Whoa, Eric.

Alison: Oh my God.

Kat: I don’t want to hear about that, son.

Michael: Don’t start that rumor.

Eric: There’s so much left to do in this whole book thing. Can we please move on?

[Kat laughs]

Michael: Rita Skeeter’s pen goes wild.

Alison: He’s had plenty to think about, though, from the death of his beloved gr… godfather, Sirius Black, to the… sorry.

Eric: You were going to say grandfather.

Michael: Not quite his grandfather.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: I almost held out laughing. Okay. He’s had plenty to think about, though, from the death of his beloved godfather, Sirius Black… I’m sorry, now something is in my throat.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: It’s not funny! Sirius is dead! No laughing matter.

Kat: I think it’s kind of funny.

Alison: Sorry, I keep messing up today. This is a problem.

Michael: It’s getting dark in here.

Kat: [singing] “It’s getting dark in here…”

Michael: [singing] “So take off all your clothes.”

Eric: [singing] “So turn off all the lights. Getting so dark. I’m going to turn the lights on.”

Kat: [laughs] Wow.

[Prolonged silence]

Kat: All right. You all ready?

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Hold on, let me turn my fan off again.

Kat: Okay.

Michael: Okay, it’s off.

Kat: Okay!

Michael: Okay! Righto!

[Kat laughs]