Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
At least, none of any consequence whatsoever. Below is the piece I will be reading at the Neo-Futurists’ Pottermania-related event, presented for those of you who will not be able to attend but are still curious as to what my fevered and overworked creative center managed to spew out and which then convinced itself that it was quality work. I present it beforehand, because as soon as the book comes out, I’m sure almost everything in the piece will immediately become quaint.
MINUTES FROM A STRATEGY SESSION OF THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, AS RECORDED BY AUTOQUILL ON THE SIXTEENTH OF JULY AT NUMBER 12, GRIMMAULD PLACE
• Meeting is called to order at approximately 7:05 pm; roll call affirms that there have been no deaths or captures since previous strategy session.
• In Molly Weasley’s absence, several members insist that the group order out for pizza. A brief and animated argument ensues over the choice of topping, resolved when we are reminded that salamander kidney, besides being extremely rare and expensive, reacts explosively to tomato sauce.
• It occurs to the Order that it is impossible to deliver a pizza to an Unplottable Location.
• Elphias Doge is selected by the Goblet of Fire to go pick up the pizza and a case of mead. Doge leaves headquarters, complaining loudly that this is the fifth time in a row that this blasted Goblet has selected him to perform such undignified labours, and that he means to take a much closer look at the instrument when he next gets the chance. He also bitterly remarks that some members, and they know who they are, still owe him money from the last time.
• The meeting is briefly interrupted by enraged shrieking from the portrait of Walburga Black; a quick investigation reveals that she was only screaming at serial drama characters on the telly. For posterity, Mrs. Black’s exact words were “You blind fool, it’s so obvious that he’s using an Imperius Curse on her, don’t you know how much she truly loves you?”
• Shacklebolt requests an update as to requesting help from the American wizarding community in fighting the Death Eaters. Charlie Weasley, recently returned from America, informs the group that there is in fact no such thing as an American wizarding community, as all members of wizard families who had sailed overseas when the continent was first being colonized were eventually burned at the stake for being witches. Weasley adds that what few wizards there are in America are gainfully employed in an underground bunker for a company called Apple, and therefore cannot be counted upon for support. He also confirms to the Order once and for all that the current American Vice President is not a dark wizard of any kind, but merely an unsettling robot of ingenious Muggle design.
• Moody suggests that the Order convene for a refresher seminar in Defense Against The Dark Arts, citing the noticeable increase in expositional monologues occurring in the midst of combat. “Less yapping,” he scolds,“more zapping.”
• The Sorting Hat casually complains that it is well overdue for a cleaning and refurbishing, and has been asking for a visit to the local haberdasher for well over a fortnight, and that if its demands are not met promptly it will place every new student who wears it into Slytherin House just to see how many Dark Wizards emerge. This leads back to the larger, rancorous discussion regarding the recent proposal to disband Slytherin House entirely and disseminate its students to the other three Houses, due to the inescapable reality that Slytherin seems to keep producing “a lot of bloody damned Death Eaters.” The idea of abolishing all four Houses is also mentioned once more, as it is feared that the inherent separatism and proud displays of individual colours amounts to little more than the encouragement of gang activity. The discussion is tabled for now.
• On the subject of Hogwarts, it is pointed out that the Great Feast served at the beginning of each year at Hogwarts is only serving to exacerbate an alarming obesity epidemic amongst our young folk, and should thus be curtailed or eliminated entirely. Larger children, Moody points out, mean larger targets, and a bigger mess to clean up after.
• Professor McGonagall refers to the very troubling rumours that members of the Ministry of Magic and possibly even members of the Order have been participating in a gambling pool based on whether or not Harry Potter will die in his final confrontation with You-Know-Who. She states plainly her disgust with anybody who would consider profiting on the possible death of a young boy.
• McGonagall is then informed, discreetly, of the current size of aforementioned pool, and promptly places 100 Galleons on Potter to survive.
• It is generally agreed upon, as per the research study convened at the previous meeting, that Arthur Weasley is correct, and the easy-water, nonfat, half-caff, no-whip white mocha is the closest that Muggles have ever managed to true butterbeer. Diggle, however, refuses to acknowledge this opinion, stating that the beverage was “ghastly,” and reminded him not so much of butterbeer as it did of a failed Potions project in his second year of Hogwarts, which besides having a terrible taste, also caused each of his teeth to quietly play the entire second act from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
• It is brought to the Order’s attention a small dossier of recent intelligence, possibly indicating that a sorcerer in the Middle East may be amassing a great deal of cursed artifacts and ancient hexes, and that the Ministry is making inquiries as to whether or not this sorcerer should be dealt with in a pre-emptive fashion. After examining the dossier, the Order concludes that the intelligence is shoddy in most places, provably false in others, that any threat perceived from this sorcerer is largely a product of his own propaganda, and that it would be folly to begin such a confrontation in the Middle East against a containable nuisance while already fighting a war against a more immediate and deadly foe. Everybody in the room agrees. It would be a preposterous move. Irresponsible. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
• A tangential discussion about the resurgence of the Chudley Cannons and the play of their rookie Chaser temporarily derails the meeting from its intended purpose, although it is agreed that the finish to last Sunday’s match was perhaps the most thrilling seen in professional Quidditch in several years.
• The pizza arrives. Doge has already eaten a slice and he is not sorry.
• Etymological surveys of the wizarding community have determined that there is an alarming trend of heretofore unnoticed predestination occurring amongst our citizens. Although hardly an exact science the evidence suggests that a number of our own names are serendipitous with our dispositions. In particular, it is pointed out the peculiarity that Remus Lupin and Fenrir Greyback, men whose names recall those of mythical wolves, should have grown up to become lycanthropes, or that Professor Sprout would have gravitated naturally towards Herbology. Questions are also raised as to why nobody in the Auror Division had even considered that Sirius Black, upon his escape from Azkaban four years previous, might be hiding out in the form of a black dog, although it is observed that this oversight did work out for the best after all. Additionally, it has been noted that the family name Malfoy is French for “bad faith,” and the Order is forced to grudgingly admit that perhaps it always should have seen that one coming.
• A longer discussion about the Order’s expense reports is brought to committee, highlighting a number of expenditures, of which relevance in the continuing battle against the forces of evil is, at best, questionable. Singled out for examination is a recent sojourn by Savage and Dawlish, in which nearly 150 Galleons were spent solely on mead. In their defense, Savage and Dawlish explain that they had been buying the mead for a pair of young women who certainly seemed like they could have been sympathetic to Death Eaters, and whom they had been plying with the alcohol in order to loosen their tongues. At this point Dawlish lets out a loud snicker and is shortly thereafter elbowed in the ribs by Savage, who proceeds to ask what a secret society is doing keeping expense reports in the first place, or, for that matter, minutes of their meetings.
• There is a noticeable and heavy silence punctuated only by the sound of the AutoQuill writing down that there is a noticeable and heavy silence.
• The AutoQuill proceeds to feverishly write out an impassioned defense of its function and the necessity of good record-keeping even in such circumstances as utmost secrecy. It states with great clarity and charm that it has always served at the pleasure of the Order, and that if one could not trust an AutoQuill in these dark times that it was best not to trust anybody at all.
• Its noble pleas fall upon cruel, deaf ears, however, and in the moments before the AutoQuill is seized and magically deactivated it transmits the entirety of this document to a random Muggle word processing machine several hundred miles away, where its work will remain intact, and hopefully translated verbatim into one of the nicer fonts, such as Baskerville Old Face or Vladimir Script. Something with serifs. That would be lovely.