Saturday, January 03, 2009

Wizard People, Dear Reader

One nice New Year's Day ritual is the Watching Of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone). It has a glorious Christmassy feel, all overeating and imaginary schooldays in front of dorm room fires, with dragons and dwarfs and stuff. But it is getting on a bit now and so, although we watched HPSS, we actually listened to Wizard People Dear Reader.

If you don't have a copy - and you well might, as it was first released four years ago - Wizard People Dear Reader is an alternative soundtrack for the movie. Completely unauthorized, it is available to buy as CDs or to download, or just as a streaming audio. You cue up the soundtrack with the movie (on mute, of course) and listen to a whole new story.

The author of WPDR is Brad Neely, a story teller who reminds me very strongly of the psychedelic, surreal Captain Beefheart on a roll with the Mothers of Invention. Of course you don't get the Mothers with this soundtrack, but instead you have the rich visuals of HPSS. As the story unfolds on screen, Neely gives a reading which is not-quite the same story featuring not-quite the same characters. The result is a hysterical tale of Harry Potter (the Beautiful Animal, the Destroyer of Worlds), Harmony (a hideous creature with her hair a mass of follicle sized serpents) and Ronnie (The Bear) Weasel, and their bid to outwit the vampire guy, Val-Mart (who is, of course, Harry's father).

I don't want to give away all the beautiful, outrageous descriptions and flights of fantasy. Wikipedia does, in its deadpan fashion, so if you like spoilers (or reminders) you can read them there. One of the descriptions that stuck in my mind was Professor Flitwick (Professor Ugnaught) described as looking like a happy pizza in a hen-house, covered in feathers and chicken sweat and greasy dust, a description that clicked with me. He does!

Although the tale itself is PG, the language is freighted with f-words, so it's not something you'd want to spring on the kids without reviewing it first. That's part of its charm - the use of a language that older American kids might use in a British Magical Boarding School is hilarious in itself.

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