Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Umbridge for a day (Tucson's Potter parties)

Oh why didn't we film this??? Our Potter parties this week were a blast and pretty freaking amazing!

Professors Hagrid, Sprout, Trelawney and Snape were joined by a representative from the Ministry's Wizarding Examination Authority and me, Dolores Jane Umbridge Hogwarts High Inquisitor for "An Evening at Hogwarts" with crafts, classes, and magic skills testing, with door prizes generously donated by Scholastic Bookfairs (thanks Lisa!). Whew. "Hem Hem"-ing is harder than it seems!

Thania planned tonight's party at the Valencia Branch Library, and she set up tables where everyone could decorate wizard hats with glitter glue and stick-on stars, and make wands by twisting glittery pipe cleaners and putting them in clear straws. This was a brilliant idea, because it ensured that even the kids who came without a costume had a cool hat and wand.

Then Madam Trelawney (Laurie in a memorable bright caftan, blonde wig and nerd glasses) kicked the performances off by telling fortunes, with nary a cheerful one in the bunch. Here's a sample: "You will forget to wash behind your ears and a healthy crop of rutabagas will grow there." Although maybe that one is cheerful if you like rutabagas. Umbridge of course, demanded a prediction and was given a rather gruesome one that involved getting her knickers in a twist. Heh. That one came true!

A surprise guest was in store for the Herbology lesson in greenhouse 13. Our lovely Professor Sprout (Thania) was joined by Gilderoy Lockhart (Steve), fresh from St. Mungo's, though when he wasn't engrossed in a copy of Magical Me he was tormenting Sprout's plants. Unfortunately for him, one was a Mimbulus mimbletonia (stinksap all over him and the audience), and the other was Devil's Snare (oh, the horror!). The most memorable demonstration, however, was the baby Mandrake. No one fainted, though we came close because its cries were so piercing. Unfortunately the lesson was interrupted when Sprout had to take Lockhart to Madam Pomfrey after the devil's snare incident.

Snape (Mike) followed, teaching a mixture of potions and DaDA with a large dollop of drollery. He says "People have been asking me 'How are you? What have you been doing, Severus.' As if they care." Well it turns out that Snape has been learning yoga -- and reading classics such as Charlotte's Web and Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret." His favorite book is apparently How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though he says the ending could be better. Questioning from Umbridge didn't keep him from instructing students in how to do a Patronus or from leading rousing choruses of "EXPECTO PATRONUM!" Fun stuff.

Hagrid came next. Our Hagrid (Fergus) is part Three Stooges slapstick, part rock-and-roll fireworks, and part wise old mountain man. Watching him handle the hecklers is half the fun. Hagrid's class in Care of Magical Creatures covered a monstrous South American bee (ouch!), fairy dancing with his assistant (too bad she had such explosive cooties), a cooties cure with a Tesla machine, an exploding frog, and the mixture of a mash for baby boggarts. The mash was an edifying concoction of flesh-eating slug slime, 4-year-old pumpkin juice, hippogriff mucus (yes, Buckbeak recently had a cold), graveyard dirt, chopped mandrake, Texas gillyweed, pudding, and evaporated milk. Everyone had a go at tasting it and said it was pretty good. Hagrid left them with advice on dealing with people and magical creatures: treat them with respect and all will be well. Magnificent.

Then came Simon Wanderman from the Ministry of Magic's Wizarding Examinations Authority, who tested the kids in the audience for their magical ability. The Wingardium Leviosa test was just awesome, as were the rope tricks. Simon closed with admonishments not to neglect their studies because the Wizarding World is in need of smart people.

After Simon the door prizes were handed out, the grand prize being a deluxe edition Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!

These are my last parties before Book 7 comes out.

Oh my.


Yes, perhaps I will join Severus in some yoga.

More photos available on my flickr account...

Thank you Beth, Thania, Gina, Fergus, Chris, Mike, Laurie, Steve, and the staffs & teen volunteers of Himmel and Valencia libraries! Books+creativity+love x kids=joy.

Cast list for Valencia Branch party:
Rubeus Hagrid: Curt "Fergus" Booth
Severus Snape: Michael Sterner
Sibyll Trelawney: Laurie Fleetham
Pomona Sprout: Thania Mayorga
Gilderoy Lockhart: Steve Shull
Simon Wanderman: Chris Lyon
Luna Lovegood: Beth Rubio
Minerva McGonagall: Michelle Martinez
Draco Malfoy: Wren Sterner
Hagrid's "fey" assistant: Cheyenne
Dolores Umbridge: Lisa Bunker

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