Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Supreme Mugwump

On Thursday night, I went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.

This is how I looked:

After my friend and I claimed our seats with the tickets we bought last month, I spent a little of the three hours until showtime examining the contents of that bag. It contained two bottles of homemade potion, scraps of parchment, and my Hogwarts Report Card from the last midnight book release I attended.

To my surprise, it also contained an essay that I wrote a few years ago in response to this History of Magic test question from the fifth book (Chapter 31, for those of you following along at home):

Describe the circumstances that led to the formation of the International Confederation of Wizards and explain why the warlocks of Liechtenstein refused to join.
Harry doesn’t get to finish answering before Voldemort starts messing with his head.

...the first Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards was Pierre Bonaccord, but his appointment was contested by the wizarding community of Liechtenstein, because—
Luckily, I don’t have a direct mental link with anyone plotting my demise, so I was free to focus on this:

What’s that you say? The paper sports the elegant crumple and curl of authentic parchment? The ink was obviously applied with an actual quill pen? You can see why I’m having trouble finding another roommate?

I don’t remember the exact circumstances of writing this masterpiece, so it’s unclear whether all the details come from official sources. Regardless, I earned a number of geek points by displaying my treasure after the movie.

In addition to dozens of striped scarves, the theatre lobby contained one extremely bored local news cameraman collecting people’s opinions of the film. Armed with my roll of parchment, I could see the newsworthiness rising from me in waves.

“Oh,” said the reporter, “do you want to talk into the camera?”

I let loose with a giant smile and a slick little speech about my Liechtenstein essay.

After I finished, he quietly turned on the camera and asked me how I liked the movie.

Epilogue: At the outset, I believed that rabid fan obsession and functional adult responsibility could coexist peacefully. As it turns out, I have not mastered that balancing act.

Following my late-night Potterventure, I slept through two alarms and woke up nearly an hour into my regularly scheduled workday. After a full minute spent staring at the clock and trying to figure out what day it was, I called my office with a smooth explanation:

My boss was wonderfully understanding once I finally made it in, though my brain function didn’t improve appreciably.

Full text of the essay, available by no demand:

The first Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards was Pierre Bonaccord, but his appointment was contested by the Wizarding community of Liechtenstein as a result of his attempts to change the standing legislation concerning trolls. Bonaccord’s revisions included a ban on troll-hunting, as well as the official extension to trolls of rights then held only by wizards. These rights included settling outside of the appointed troll containment areas, in locations chosen by the trolls themselves, provided that no Muggle settlements were near enough to be disturbed. Bonaccord also intended to grant trolls status as Beings rather than Beasts, which would entitle them to participate in summits of the sort held at the time by the Wizards’ Council (predecessor to the ministry of Magic) and otherwise voice their opinions in matters concerning the governance of the magical world.

The Wizarding community of Liechtenstein was unwilling to accept Bonaccord’s proposal, however, as they were suffering abuse from an abnormally vicious tribe of mountain trolls. These trolls made frequent forays into mountain villages, causing considerable damage and distress as well as carrying off the livestock of wizards and Muggles alike. The wizards in the area worked tirelessly to keep the trolls under control and out of Muggle notice, but their success was limited. By the time of Bonaccord’s nomination, Liechtenstein’s troll problems had lasted five months, and with no sign that the trolls planned to relent, the community had no intention of ceasing troll-hunts, allowing the creatures a voice in government, or seeing even more of them move into areas inhabited by humans.

In the end, Bonaccord was appointed to the post of Supreme Mugwump despite Liechtenstein’s protests, but he was unable to pass his new troll legislation.

So now you know. Look for that on Jeopardy.


UPDATE: A lady from my office actually saw my interview on TV! That is how you identify a slow news day.


  1. Um, sources? I think we'd all like to see a work cited page. ;P

    I'm sad that I could not go on opening night. It was one of the few times I could have worn my dress cloak in public. :(

    Which reminds me that I have to find it...

  2. I think it's sad that society doesn't afford adults more excuses to dress up in costume. That's why Halloween deserves so much care and attention.

  3. wow.

    i'm glad you posted this. it motivates me to post something on the subject. Though I didn't write a troll essay.

    too bad you were late for work the next day.

  4. Andres, I'm always eager to see you post about Harry Potter.