Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Gluten-Free Birthday

The morning of my October 11th 2014 was not terribly pleasant for me. On top of poor sleep and surprise assignments with unreasonable deadlines, The senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Monaco, Spain was weighing on my conscience due to my strategic mistake not upgrading my airforce soon enough to be able to catch the new, faster alien spaceships. All this extra work and violent horror was a bit of a drag. Then Alice presented lunch to me.

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My theme this birthday has been the gluten-free reimaginings of glutinous classics. For lunch Alice made me reimagined sloppy joes.  That is, sloppy joe filling on a cornmeal pancake. I called the new concoction “Pancake Joe,” making the whole thing sound vaguely military and saturday-morning-cartoonish. The roasted sweet potatoes are for the purpose of using up extra vegetables in the house, a secondary theme of my birthday. We received these sweet potatoes from one of Alice’s lab mates, who had removed a small core from each to study and had no use for the rest. Occasionally I had a potato with a small cylinder removed, but that made things even more fun. All lunch items were delicious, and they were delivered with such charm and care that I couldn’t possibly remain grumpy. And I hadn’t even had dinner yet.

Before dinner, my sister called me. Despite my attempts to monopolize the conversation and prevent her, she eventually managed to wish me a happy birthday. Then I told her I hoped to live to eighty-eight years old to see the United States’ 300th anniversary. I can decide then if the US ended up the land of the free and the home of justice that it always aspired to be, or if the great experiment ended up yielding just another big, corrupt country like China and Russia. Rachel said when she was 86 she would talk with me about whether we thought America turned out all right, and she also wanted to discuss whether Harry Potter was still beloved in 2076. I told her I’d write down that I was going to do this in my blog, because if anything is still around in 2076 it will be my blog. Always updating once a week, as long as I have a brain to think and fingers to type.

Greg called as well. First he called when I was grumpy, and I told him how grumpy I was and the conversation just ended there. Then I called him back when I was feeling better, and he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told him that he should make me something creative as always. Jimmy texted me with a generic happy birthday message, and I said “oh no you don’t, you have to say more than that.” He was all like, “I don’t have time.” Then later in the day he managed to find a small window and called me, but after one ring the phone stopped ringing. It turned out that just at the brief moment when he was able to speak to me his phone was failing him.

Dinnertime.

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Barbecue chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and fresh beans and broccoli. No gluten-free reimaginings here, but that’s because it is all gluten free in its original imagining, and all delicious.

After dinner, Alice presented me a little notebook. I asked what it was, and she said she’d been keeping notes on all the ways I’d made her happy since late July. “Oh, wow, what a great gift! How’d you think of it?” I asked, to which she smiled and said, “It was your suggestion. I figured you’d have forgotten by your birthday.” “Oh,” I nodded, “Well, that explains it.”

Finally, shortly before the evening’s close, who managed to get his phone to work but Jimmy? I told him about how I was planning to visit with Rachel at age 88 and evaluate how Harry Potter had aged, and he said it would be funny if by that time neither of us had any memory of what Harry Potter was. That would certainly be an indication of how well it had aged.

The next day my mother took a shot at the Gluten-Free Challenge. She cooked some fettucini alfredo with gluten-free spaghetti, making it really “spaghetti alfredo,” but I wasn’t going to split hairs. It was so good I had already eaten seconds before I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture.

Between lunch and dinner Greg sent me an email top 20 list of the favorite things he remembered me doing, written like a historical timeline complete with years and “circa” years for when he didn’t remember exactly when they happened. I’ll just share one of these.

The Death of Greg. Sam completes the ultimate Barrett Hall comic, entitled ‘The Death of Greg.’ Modeled on comics like ‘The Death and Return of Superman,’ Sam built on the success of the earlier Earlham comics by creating an actual story rather than a series of highly self-referential jokes. (c. 2009)

I particularly like this one because it makes me seem like some kind of comics visionary, and I like being represented in such a way.

When dinner did come, I did not forget to capture it.

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Mom constructed orange chicken from scratch. It was a bit of a cheat because I hadn’t realized orange chicken called for corn starch instead of breading and was therefore already gluten free, but that was no problem, as it was the best orange chicken I’d ever tasted. Really, the orange chicken at Chinese 35 buffet was just fat and salt that pleased me as a ten-year-old, but this orange chicken was tangy and sweet and had just exactly the right texture. The vegetables were also delicious.

Finally, my mother brought out the cheesecake. She dumped canned cherries on top and then felt sad that they didn’t have sickly sweet syrup all over them. I assured her that I didn’t want sickly sweet syrup, but she continued to loudly plan for how she would make sure to cover everything with sickly sweet syrup next time until I firmly reiterated that I would prefer fresh fruit rather than sickly sweet syrup. “Fine,” she said, “no sickly sweet syrup.”

I forgot to take a picture again, and the leftovers are not terribly photogenic, but the cheesecake was also delicious. I would like to personally thank my father for doing all the dishes, even though he insists on saying “you’re welcome” when the proper response to “thank you” on one’s birthday is “happy birthday!” The implication of “you’re welcome” is that the recipient is “welcome” to ask for what has been given any time. “Happy birthday” makes clear that this is a birthday gift, not just a general kindness. Now that I think of it, perhaps since Dad always does the dishes, “you’re welcome” was appropriate in this case.

Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles

On the website “fanfiction.net,” the user “proudhousewife” states

My little ones have been asking to read the Harry Potter books; and of course I’m happy for them to be reading; but I don’t want them turning into witches!”  To resolve this, she plans to “make some slight changes so these books are family friendly!

As it turns out, these slight changes involve rewriting the entire book from scratch, starting from Chapter 1. The result is so over the top that the story reads like a parody of itself. I’m going to provide you some of the highlights of just the first chapter.

The story, called “Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles,” starts in much the same way as the original. Harry Potter lives under the stairs in his aunt and uncle’s house. Now, though, Uncle Vernon is a sheepish house-husband and Aunt Petunia is basically how tea partiers probably think of Hillary Clinton,

Aunt Petunia, a career woman, barked from her armchair where she sat with her feet up. She had short, curly blonde hair and never wore any makeup…she was wearing a baggy, unflattering pantsuit.

A knock comes on the door, and Hagrid arrives,

On the porch was standing a huge, muscular man with a big, manly beard; and he was dressed in a plaid, red shirt, blue jeans, and sturdy, leather boots. His chest was covered in a thick, unruly carpet of coarse, brown hair. He wore a necklace that looked to Harry like a lowercase T. Just looking at Harry feel happy, peaceful somehow; but he couldn’t say why! [sic]

Hagrid is travelling door to door and asks if Aunt Petunia has been saved. Aunt Petunia tells us something important about the setting of this story in her next line,

Saved? Don’t tell me you are you one of those Christians?

Then Harry solidifies it by asking what a Christian is. Wherever these people live, it is a place where a child could possibly grow to eleven without knowing what a Christian is.

Immediately Aunt Petunia / Hillary Clinton takes action to prevent Harry from accepting Christ,

We are too smart for that. Haven’t you read Dawkins? God is dead! Dawkins proved that. Would you like us to educate you on the Dawkins?  … Harry does not need your religion, he has science and socialism and birthdays. Haven’t you heard of Evolution? I have a very good textbook on Evolution that I could give you on it if you would like to learn things. [sic]”

Hagrid calls her on the evolution (the story capitalizes it, because apparently “Evolution” is the name of the god people who believe in the theory worship) point, though.

“Evolution is a fairytale. You don’t really believe that, do you?”

“Yes, I do!” Aunt Petunia screeched.

“Well then prove it!”

…And all of a sudden, this woman who apparently reads textbooks on evolution as a hobby, is struck dumb at the prospect of explaining how science works.

Aunt Petunia could only stare at him; and her big mouth hung open dumbly. Here she thought she was so educated; and always demanded that Christians prove what they believed in; but she couldn’t even prove her own religion. It was then that Harry knew who the smart one here was!

Next we see the first instance of what will be a recurring theme of Harry being wise beyond his years.

“Tell me how to get to this heaven place!” Harry cried wistfully, clasping his hands together. Sometimes, the wisdom of little ones is really amazing. We think we grownups know it all; but then God speaks through the mouths of little ones; and shows us how we are all mortals struggling along the path of life. Humility.

Pretty soon, Harry will be quoting from scripture, referencing specific verses by their author and number. This actually happens in the next chapter, which picks up immediately where the first chapter left off. Apparently the sinner’s prayer leads to instant memorization of the Bible.

After that little aside, Harry’s “holy energy” prevents Aunt Petunia from restraining him from reciting the sinner’s prayer, and Hagrid tells him he is now a Christian and a student of “Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles!”

The zaniness of this retelling doesn’t stop here. In future chapters you can look forward to Hermione, here Dumbledore’s daughter, forgetting all about any interest in academic success and repeatedly offering to help with her highest calling – dishes and cooking. You’ll also get to see God-as-personal-retainer complete with instant gratification of prayers for food to be prepared and prayers for doors to be opened, not because they’re locked, but because they’re too heavy for poor, feminine Hermione. After a philosophical discussion about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism with Ron, punctuated by extremely detailed descriptions of them eating bacon and talking with one’s mouth full of bacon, Harry then argues with Draco Malfoy that women are not inferior to men, it’s just that they have different skills, and that is why they should stay in the kitchen.

“Women shouldn’t not have careers because women are stupid!” Harry shouted indignantly. “Women are not stupid at all! Women should not have careers because women are nurturing and loving and their gifts serve them best in the home!”

Voldemort, rather than killing people, works through Congress to reduce the rights of the poor, set-upon Christian folk. Really, I could go on and on about how entertainingly ridiculous this story is, but you really should just read it yourself.