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Saturday, January 15, 2011

When Nerd Vandals Strike

Yesterday, a patron requested several of the Harry Potter books as she had never read them before and wanted to start them now that she was out of college. (Better late than never, right?) The transaction reminded me of when my sister and I, during a trip to Scotland last May, visited the coffee shop in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling did her writing in the early days. You know, before she became the most famous writer in the world and a children's literature icon and a target for the religious right and a millionaire. Those days.

My sister and I had hoped to be struck by divine literary inspiration or at least breathe in some of the air particles that potentially contributed to Rowling's success. So we got a pot of Earl Grey and a few scones and, like the classy American tourists we were, took pictures of ourselves in the cafe. Here's a riveting photo of me drinking tea:

Ahhh, I can feeeel it woooorking.
Sadly, the only thing by which I was struck was a caffeine-induced headache. But all was not lost! In the restroom, I discovered some amusing things scrawled on the walls by tea-crazed Harry Potter enthusiasts. (There's nothing weird about taking photos from inside a bathroom, right?)

Avada Graffitia!

1. Apparently, Lord Voldemort, Hermione, Sirius Black, and Bellatrix had all used the restroom and felt the need to deface its wall. (That goody two-shoes Hermione would do this is a surprise, and I'm a bit disappointed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named signed with an ordinary black pen instead of with fire or blood, but you can't win 'em all.) 

2. "Remus & Dory" is a sweet declaration of love, but I don't recall the nickname "Dory" ever being used for Nymphadora Tonks. (Harry Potter fans, correct me if I'm wrong about this.)

3. The statement "J.K. Rowling started the book!" is a bit confusing. What is the nerd vandal really trying to say here? Is there a deeper meaning? Do we even want to know?

4. Lower Right-Hand Corner: "In Memoriam to George's Ear." Very cute, although I'm not sure George would appreciate this being written in a bathroom.  (Or would he?)

And finally:
Now that's what I call "art appreciation."

A picture I took of a plaque in a Glasgow art museum. This has nothing to do with Harry Potter, and it wasn't even taken on the same day or in the same city. I just found it hilarious at the time. (Please note that I was jet-lagged and whacked out on antihistamines for most of the trip. I think I was allergic to every plant, animal, and highlander I encountered.)

Thanks for the memories, Scotland!


  1. I love that last image, it's nice to see the curators having a little fun. One of my favorite games in an art museum is to come up with stories about the people in the paintings - especially the ones where it can be kind of confusing about what's going on.

  2. Here's another caption from that same museum:

    "Mary Cassatt is famous for painting sensitive portraits of children. But who are these two little girls? Are they sisters? We don't know."

    So informative!

  3. After reading that, I went to the coffee house's website and watched the J.K. interview on there. Then I watched her interview on Oprah. An hour later, I was inspired, yet pissed that I wasted an hour of time.

    So, um, damn you.

  4. I'm here to help, Matt. I'm here to help.

  5. The curators for that museum sound like CNN anchors.

    "Who are the people in this painting? We don't know. Prostitutes? Kidnapped children?... More at 11."

  6. now i want to post comments a la Scottish curators in my own albums. "The benign-looking people at this Thanksgiving seem to be my family, but they are, in fact, hired actors, minstrels, and prostitutes."