Friday, August 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I'll hazard that most of you have completed the book by now. I'll also hazard that some of you are anxious to find out what will happen in the next book — which happens to be the last, pivotal chapter of Harry's life. I am the same way, but given the traumatic events that have occurred in the previous book, I am prepared to give my thoughts on the book itself and what I expect to happen in the final book.

First: I'll review what's going on at the moment: Voldemort's return has finally gone public, after the Ministry of Magic tried to cover it up for a year, and because of the ensuing trauma and the public now frowning upon the Ministry because of these lies, Cornelius Fudge has been impeached. Once again, the Ministry is in disarray, and everyone is scrambling to hide. Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, is dead, as is Auror Emmeline Vance. At the end of the book, Snape reveals himself as a Death Eater who had managed to fool Dumbledore — and finished Draco Malfoy's mission of murdering Dumbledore himself. Now that Dumbledore is gone, Harry is left alone to get the Horcruxes himself, risking his life at every turn.

The death of Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore, coupled with Lucius Malfot's imprisonment, winds the battlefield down slowly to Harry and Lord Voldemort. Now the question is, who, in keeping with the prophecy, will die and allow the other to live on? Neither can lave while the other survives, and the outlook is that Harry is going to die. But what is the most probable thing that will happen? Let's have a look at each individual character:

The Good Side

Albus Dumbledore: Dumbledore, having been killed with Snape's Avada Kedavra, is effectively out of the action. However, there remains the possibility that he will remain as a ghost, but given his views on death this is very unlikely. And since Dumbledore is dead, his phoenix won't be there to help.

Rubeus Hagrid: If Dumbledore's wisdom is gone, Hagrid can help beat down foes as he did whilst fending off Umbridge in the previous book. However, he has affinities with several magical creatures that pose threats to normal humans, so I can see him succumbing to them in the near future.

The Dursleys: The Freezing Charm Dumbledore set on that turret of Hogwarts was dispelled by Dumbledore's death. Since Dumbledore invoked a spell that would prevent Harry from being harmed at number four, Privet Drive, this spell has almost certainly dispelled as well. Even if it hasn't, it would have dispelled when Harry turned seventeen, which he will in the next book. Not only does this leave Harry as open as ever to attack, but the Dursleys are also as vulnerable — either they will use this as an excuse to throw Harry out of the house once and for all, or they'll be killed first. Since the battlefield is, as I say, winding down, the prospect that they'll be killed is very high.

Ron and Hermione: From year one they've stayed by Harry's side, and at many times they've been very useful to him as they fought off foes, especially at the Ministry siege. It seems unlikely that they will die, but if they do, Ron will be murdered along with his entire family — they are ostracised as 'blood traitors' — and Hermione will be murdered because of her parentage. If not, they'll be by Harry's side as he ticks off the last of the Horcruxes.

Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour: We learned that the Triwizard Tournament finalist from Beauxbatons and Ron's eldest brother are marrying, so the seventh book will lead off with that. However, Fenrir Greyback bit Bill in a clear sky, so Bill will not be a werewolf, but the chances that he'll survive are about the same for someone bit in the full moon. As stated for Ron and Hermione, however, the chances that Bill and Fleur will die, if ever they do, with his family are higher than him dying from Fenrir's bite.

Rufus Scrimgeour: He's not faring as well as Fudge. The public will soon realise that he's just trying to use Harry as a poster boy for the Ministry and he will be impeached as well.

Minerva McGonagall: She succeeded Dumbledore as head of Hogwarts. Will her firmness and straightforward attitude be of use to Harry as he moves on to the final battle? Or will Hogwarts, as vulnerable as ever, not prove enough to protect her from Voldemort?

The Dark Side

Severus Snape: After he killed Dumbledore and revealed himself as the Half-Blood Prince, he fled, leaving the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher position vacant once again. In Half-Blood Prince, Snape was shunted into the position when Horace Slughorn was put back in Dumbledore's employ. Because of the murder, and because of his position in getting his parents killed, Harry will hate him more than ever — maybe even enough to kill him. Chances are very high that Snape will die in book seven.

Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy: Bellatrix is the only Lestrange that evaded prison after the siege — and she was angry at Snape for being out of the action for so long. But that's not where we're concerned — when Sirius died, his will effected Harry's claims to Kreacher the house-elf and number twelve, Grimmauld Place, which still can only be reached if the Secret-Keeper tells you. If Harry forgoes the will, everything would go to Bellatrix — and kreacher would reveal everything about the order to Bellatrix if there wasn't enough exposed already. As for Narcissa, she has become very close to Bellatrix over the years, and she has tried to help Malfoy kill Dumbledore. The prospect that she and Lucius will reunite, however, is extremely faint — we learned that Lucius was busted at the siege and thrown in Azkaban, and Voldemort was extremely angry at him for getting one of his Horcruxes (the diary that Harry destroyed in Chamber of Secrets) destroyed and for botching up the siege that was intended to obtain the Ministry's copy of the prophecy — so the two may die together, if ever they do.

Peter 'Wormtail' Pettigrew: Wormtail has been rather quiet in the past years, but it is possible that he will surface again to help his master in some way other than reviving him and getting him drinks.

The Battlefield

If the battle winds down correctly, Harry and Lord Voldemort will be at each other's front, one ready to die and one ready to kill. There is speculation, however, that Harry will die in the seventh book, and given the circumstances the prospect for that is as high as ever. Yet will J.K. Rowling allow the world to be consumed by darkness forever? Probably not, so to uphold the speculation we can conclude that both Harry and Voldemort will die, but not necessarily kill each other.

We learned that Voldemort killed people to make six Horcruxes for a seven-part soul, as he believed that seven was the most powerful magic number, in order to achieve the equivalent of immortality, and he assembled Death Eaters just to ensure that no one got in his way. Each time he said 'Avada Kedavra!', his soul would be cut apart. Now if Harry kills Voldemort — which we are hoping for — his soul will be cut, and since he is not yet a fully grown wizard this could be fatal to him. If he kills Snape first and then goes on to kill Voldemort, his chances of dying from the soul split are even higher. It seems most likely that he will kill Snape and be severely wounded from the soul split, unable to make a Horcrux himself, and then die from the following split resulting from Voldemort's death.

It's probably a pipe dream, but who knows what Rowling has up her sleeve?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Articuno — IRC chatroom gone mad!

Ohay, so it's a cheap rip-off of the Iceberg announcement of the same name, but I might as well put this as a tribute to the fine folks at that site, to make everyone laugh.

Some say it's spam
Some say it has no place
But there's one area in that great void
Where it'll stare you in the face

Pounding on the keyboard
Mocking the PHP
That's the creed and the language
Verbal catastrophe

Oh, the IRC! Great IRC,
Where randomness doth thrive,
Where the Iceberg shows that excellence
Is not that hard to derive
Oh, Iceberg IRC!
Where Draelen's in love with a server,
Where the dissidence issues are suppressed,
And spammy freedom is always in fervour!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Youth Summit — Summary

It's been over a month since I've posted on the blog, not because it fell into disuse, but because I had been working on its appearance and was waiting to report a trip that I went on, so I pray you, forgive me.

The thing started when I asked Zelda Fan on SuperCheats to stand in for me, but Rich didn't want that. However, since nothing serious happened while I was gone, that part of the story is moot. It really starts when I'm driven to the church with my clothes and maps in tow at 5:30 a.m. and the Advantage Tours bus arrives shortly thereafter. The pastor was out for a funeral and his daughter and close friend were at work and were not willing to go on any more trips and crunch their summer activities further, so we went instead with the assistant and a small faction from Atlantic City.

The trip, like the one before it, took six hours, and along the way I was envisaging what would happen at the summit. When I went the previous year, I came back a new person with my personality oiled and a faint love record: The group was accepting and some of the females had the delicate balance of beauty and brains. The entire clientele, however, was galvanised in a pledge to stay away from drugs and illicit sex. This was Youth to Youth, a group based in Columbus, Ohio that formed in 1982 and now attracts members from 16 different countries and territories. Last year the focus of my lessons were tobacco and how some companies — particularly Philip Morris — hoodwinked customers. At that point, however, I had met a female by the name of Ylenia that would indirectly disprove the theory that I was impervious to infatuation. If someone told me that I would be susceptible to that on the trip before I went, I would have thrown them from the room.

Although it disappointed me to see that she was not present this time around, I did see other faces from yesteryear, some of which were previously plebeians but had now graduated to the Youth Staff. I also took comfort in knowing that the summit worked the same way as the one before it — being sorted with the name tags in an activity. I also took comfort that the old social trends and 'energisers' were once more present: During mealtimes, someone would yell out 'Dexterity check!', causing the entire clientele to erupt into a jive whilst chanting 'We are drug-free, unh, unh, UNH!' (although, contrary to last year, no-one had posted prompts on the bulletin board, although some joker put a post to the New Jersey factions reading 'Li'l John Check!'); devout activists would engage random people in a 'shake your booty' dance; people would come close to grinding others in a ring in a game called 'Ride That Pony'; 'secret fuzzies' — 'fuzzies', or personal notes taped to four categorised boards in the atrium of the venue — were designated once more and had people wondering as usual. New trends also arose: Our family group had us circulate a spoon, and we created two games that would become instant hits, Mafia (a game in which others accuse two people with aces in their hands for causing a death in the group) and Indian Chief (in which a person has to determine who's leading off a series of jives in the group). Aside from this, the summit functioned as I had envisaged it. And again, like last time, I was in a haze of infatuation, but not one as severe. Time, however, would now be invested in a map of Ilfracombe (an area of Hoenn that I just made up).

On the first day, we were bunched together in a game that aimed to introduce us to other members via bingo boards marked with twenty-five possible attributes (I filled twenty) which other members would sign if they applied to them. Then we were bunched by prefernces of television programmes, sports, and cereals. Finally, we were sifted out into 'family groups', which were designed to afford members the best environment possible without placing two members from the same faction.

Throughout the course of the trip, I had to rely on my roommate (who luckily happened to be in my group) for the key, since I did not get one straight off and had to get it recut after the wrong mould was used. On top of that my first priority was to get some of my contact details changed; they had been botched in the previous edition of the participant directory due to the erratic paperwork. It also became my priority to seek out people I knew from the previous summit — but few appeared again, as I said before.

The second day played host to another two 'workshops': The ones I selected were a sign-language seminar as well as a seminar on alcohol advertisement followed by a member's graphic account of being drugged and raped. On the night of the second day, we were taken to the Bryant Athletic Centre, where we engaged in several sports activities. The pool had been the magic ticket the year before if I were to gather friends, but only the collegiates and some underclassmen were present and the pool water was next to frigid. I ended up pacing the entire time and concentrating on Ilfracombe.

The third day meant an 'extreme skills session': For me it would be 'How to Prevent Truth-Decay, which transpired to be yet another seminar on alcohol. The host, Ray Lozano, an anti-alcohol activist that had spoken on the first day — and caused my ability to lick my elbow to rocket to fame in the amphitheatre — told the students about the 'three P's of alcohol': 'pee, puke, pass out', all in succession by the area of the brain affected in each stage. The night was host to the traditional farewell party, which took place in the Governor Notte Park north of Providence; while most of the clientele would dance on the beach — and a few were removed for provocative dancing — I worked on the map as some of the staff garnered spectators for it. It was the first time my maps had gained large-scale attention, and a snapshot of the sketch appeared in the closing movie as testament. However, not all was smooth from the third day: Rumours had arisen that a member of my faction had smuggled marijuana aboard the bus and into the college, and they were confirmed when he was taken home by his father when a high-up overheard him bragging about having smuggled it in. On the fourth day we learned that some people from the interior of Brigantine had sold it to him, taking advantage of his craving for social normalcy. I will not name involved names now.

If you're wondering what happened to the map, it eventually went to Sarah, a participant from central Tennessee. It was the first time I had given away a map to someone outside the family sphere (that is, where my family lived and the environs). I also ended up getting my key on the night of the third day.