fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Could Almost Every Sixth-Year in “The Half-Blood Prince” Turn 17 by April, When the Cutoff Wasn’t for Several Months?

Everyone who is familiar with “Harry Potter” knows that a young wizard or witch can start Hogwarts when he or she is 11 and is expected to attend 7 years there. That means that by the time a student reaches his or her 6th year, he or she will turn 17 either during the school year or summer.

However, when Harry is a 6th year in “The Half-Blood Prince”, many of his classmates turn 17 by April, and only a few remain 16 by then. Sounds crazy, huh? Only Harry, Ernie, and Draco (as well as Neville, who wasn’t in that scene for some reason), remain under 17 by April, and therefore, have to stay behind while the others in their year can take their apparition tests.

I remember how shocked I’d felt when I’d read that scene, at age 13. Even then, that felt very odd and unbelievable to me. I recall thinking, That’s supposed to mean every other student’s birthdays are close together? No other 6th-years who aren’t 17? That can’t be. I’d also come up with my own theory where maybe there were students with birthdays between April and August in Harry’s year, but were all expelled during the previous years.

But it was not until recent times when I discovered that Harry’s year is quite small. A lot of fans guess that fewer babies were born in the magical world during the late 70’s and early 80’s, when Harry’s peers entered the world, because of the dark times and first wizarding war. Maybe it became worse by the spring. I don’t know.

Another thing that I learned recently is that the cutoff for Hogwarts is August 31st, not September 1st. People on Quora said that if a child turns 11 on September 1st, he or she has to wait another year before he or she can start Hogwarts. Crazy, right? It would make more sense if a child who turns 11 on September 1st could start Hogwarts that day. I mean, that does technically count as being 11. If it’s your birthday, you are your next age. For example, if you turn 18 on Election Day in the US, you can vote. It’s if you turn 18 after when you have to wait.

However, in the UK, cutoffs in August are typical and standard. If there are schools in Britain that start in August, then a cutoff of August 31st makes sense. But for those that start after that, a cutoff no later than the first day of school, would be more rational. In New York, it’s usually the opposite. The cutoffs are often in December. I was born November 22nd, 1993, but graduated high school in 2011. So that meant I turned 5 a couple of months after starting kindergarten. I used to hate being the youngest in my grade and would say, “I’m too young for this grade. I belong in the grade below me.” That would have been true for me if I lived in many other states where the cutoffs are before my birthday, like in September. It’s rare for American school’s cutoffs to be earlier than September, though.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten to learn these things, maybe it makes sense for almost every 6th-year in HBP to turn 17 prior to mid-April.

movie

Let’s Get Rocking with This Review of “School of Rock” (2003)

I just watched this movie at a friend’s house, recently. I didn’t know much about it before. But now here is the review.

A man named Dewey is performing with a rock band at a club. He jumps into the crowd, but gets hurt. After a little time has gone by, Dewey’s roommates wake him up to complain about the rent situation, which is due soon. But Dewey is defensive about it. Shortly after that, his band votes him out of the group.

When Horace Green Prep School calls for a substitute teacher position, asking for Ned Scheebly, Dewey claims he is Ned and takes the position. He teaches the children his own curriculum, though, and trains them to be rock band performers. He also has the students hide their music from the principal, Ms. Mullins, who is pretty strict and sophisticated.

I must admit how great this movie was, especially the humor presented. I laughed my brains out several times, particularly since Dewey acted so chill and unprofessional in a funny manner. Jack Black did a fantastic job with the comedic portrayal of a substitute “teacher”. Aside from the immature questions he asked Ms. Mullins, Dewey also took a student’s sandwich and ate it. Obviously, that would not be funny in real life.

Besides the slapstick, the film also taught some things about rock music, which was pretty interesting. The advice was also useful, too, like to use your mind and other important parts of your body, both external and internal, to improve your music and singing skills. I feel like a good number of those could apply to learning rock in real life.

There were also a lot of neat twists and turns, especially later in the movie. I won’t spoil them, though. But some of the content was a bit predictable, too.

I would rate “School of Rock” 5 out of 5 stars. If you love slapstick, and especially rock, this movie would satisfy you very much.

fiction

Being Bananas at School: A Flash Fiction Piece

My name is Bernard Applebaum, although people often call me Bernie. Recently, my school had spirit week, and one of the days was “change your image day”. As a fan of the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” song, I decided to dress as a banana.

Little did I know that I couldn’t fit on my bus and I kept bumping into people. And those stares everyone gave me are never going to leave my memory.

I tried impressing people and even recited the lyrics of “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”. However right before the warning bell rang, I fell down the stairs to the basement level, and everybody laughed at me. I got hurt as well. And if that wasn’t so bad, the principal, Mr. Finkle, glared at me. He took me to his office and reminded me of the dress code, which prohibited hazardous clothing, even during spirit week.

My mom had to pick me up as Mr. Finkle demanded that I get send home to change. And he forbade me to wear a costume. I had to take my banana costume off and ride home topless on a chilly October day.

When I came back to school, kids taunted and teased me for the banana costume I’d worn before. I’ll never forget when that boy, Dylan, called me Bernie the Crazy Banana and even said “Don’t throw your peelings at me.”

I had a few friends who I sat with at lunch. But even they didn’t talk to me. In fact, they left me to go to the library—without even inviting me.

I came home not wanting to speak to anyone. I guess I’ve learned my lesson about wearing big costumes to school. The next day was spirit day, where students dressed in the school colors. I just wore street clothes of those colors.

art

Picture Cards for (Hopefully) Perfect Test Results

Ugh…studying for exams. Who doesn’t get stressed out over that? After all, we need to get good grades.

You might be wondering why I am talking about tests when academics and studying aren’t in my specialized topics. It’s because for my last final exam in college, right before graduating, I came up with a technique to make studying not only more enjoyable, but also easier. I was an art major, so I created picture cards and added humor.

The class I took was for meeting a certain learning goal, and it was quite difficult. I didn’t fail anything, but I barely passed the midterm. So, I met with my professor for extra help several times.

When finals week was approaching, I had to find an effective way to study. That was when I decided on picture cards.

They didn’t have to be artistic, and they weren’t meant to be. Regardless of my art skills, I used simplistic stick figure and shape drawings. They were for a different purpose, anyway.

I no longer have these cards as I tossed them a while ago. However, I do recall some funny ones, such as a crying alien when I needed to define and discuss alienation. Another was a factory and I even drew a stick figure Willy Wonka.

If you struggle with drawing, no worries. Pretty much no artistic abilities are needed. However, this is more likely to help if you are a visual learner.

No matter whether you’re in K-12 school, college, or grad school, this technique may work out for you. It certainly helped me, even though I ended up with a C on the final as well as the overall grade.