Elvendork of the Month: Pat Acton, Iowa

I’m still not sure if this is a joke or not, but it’s funny even if it is just a test of our gullibility. Which is funnier, the possibility that a man spent the time and treasure to build the Hogwarts Castle pictured in the newspaper article out of a gazillion matchsticks or that I find it credible that a human being would do this (as a warm-up, no less, for his Minis Tirith scale-model)? How about the guy making his living as a “careers advisor at a local community college”? He tells other people how to get a life.

Speaking of Elvendorks, yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the publication of Goblet of Fire. Where were you on July 7, 2000? I was with my Gang of Seven preparing for a party and an all-night out-loud reading of the fourth book. We had just finished the first three books and they all dressed up for their first of four Midnight Madness Potter-parties (this one was at the Border’s Book Store in the renovated art deco movie theatre on Shepherd Street in Houston, TX). Some very happy family memories!


  1. I have to respond to this one. Yes, I have had a fellow art student at a local college create the two towers out of clay. It was amazing! And if that was not enough she created a life size clay construction of King Nebukannezer to boot. She is a Christian and loves to put the theme in her artwork. I love the sculpture and think it’s great. It reminds me of the small scale set builders who create sets for animation movies like Tim Burton’s. Watch the making of on hte videos of his movies and you will see what I mean. Kind os like a Trekky , no?

  2. Oh, I believe it. It looks fantastic.

    Where was I in July 2000? At the Borders in Tacoma with Laura, her boyfriend and his little brother. They had the biggest party going so we went for the fun. I’d actually reserved my book at the Barnes and Noble in my town, where we went around 12:30. They were still open and Laura and I stood in the remains of the line, talking to a couple with a young daughter. They were all dressed up, but we only had the Harry Potter glasses they handed us at the door–and somewhere I have the photos we took that night. At least I thought to take along the camera.

    I remember that, until then, Laura and I only had each other for discussion partners for the first three books, which we’d both read two of three times by the summer of 2000. We started reading HP the summer or fall of 1999.

    And mostly I remember walking around Border’s while people waited. I’ve no idea how many were there, but it was a huge turn out with families in all the sections of the store. It was so neat to see them all sitting down reading or browsing in a book store. How could that kind of enthusiasm for reading be a bad thing!

    And we went to every midnight release after that. For some reason, I usually went to Borders, but for the last book I went back to the Barnes and Noble where I bought the first four books. I felt like I wanted to finish where I had started.


  3. I recall the adds for GoF, and various plans for midnight events, and thinking “why do people get involved in this demonic stuff?” I was definitely a Harry skeptic – at best.

    Somehow OotP stayed under my radar. (My wife read it, making sure not to bring it into the house when I was around.) By July ’05, I had been to John’s weekend seminar at St. Andrew’s Riverside, and had read the first five books in the preceding eight months. But even then, I didn’t get HBP until about 11 am the morning of the release.

    As for the sculpture – I can believe it. An impressive job.

  4. Very impressive! The man is an artiste’ in matchsticks, no less. Me, I like gardening and astronomy. But this guy’s got a serious hobby. I have tried to make things out of matchsticks. Lots tougher than it looks. Kudos to the artiste’!!!!!!!1

  5. I wasn’t a Potter fan then, but I recall now my first exposure to Potter was in 2000… It was an audio book my uncle had on when he took me home in his car one night, I believe it was the scene where Lockhart so kindly removes the bones from Harry’s arm, as can sometimes happen you know… Alas my first Potter experience was a Quidditch tournament. I became a fan four years later in 2004 when I visited a Potter fansite, now dead unfortunately… That’s where I learned of you actually.

  6. FYI, this story is almost two years old! Hat-tip to Travis and the Hog’s Head crew for reporting this back in 2006.

  7. This is the first book I had to wait for . . . it arrived on my porch by 8 am and I started reading it while siting in the pedicure chair that morning. At the time, I wondered if I’d finish the book before I left for a 3-week trip to Rome, Assisi and Florence to attend World Youth Day 2000. Wow! What a summer that was, and why I was so worried I wouldn’t finish GoF before my trip, I’ll never know . . . seems so completely silly in retrospect. After that OotP, HBP and DH all arrived on my porch the morning of release (no midnight parties for me!). I read OotP at Kentucky Lake, HBP in Luray, VA and blocked out the entire weekend of July 21-22 to read DH at home. DH arrived a little late in the morning, so it didn’t interfere with coverage of the Tour de France — serendipitous! and nothing else interfered with my reading. Ahhhh . . . sweet bliss it was!

  8. Arabella Figg says

    Rather than elvendorkish, I see this as HP artistic expression. It’s a marvelous work of art–taking “matchless” skill. 🙂

    We can expect to see paintings, sculpture, and other art forms using many materials coming down the line–tapestries, wouldn’t that be interesting! Can you imagine sketches on grains of rice?

    HP provides so much grist for artistry. This guy has a life and it involves creativity. Others work hard and for years at various forms of artistic expression, why not him?

    Ack! Luscious Badboy just “painted” the wall with his dirty tail…

  9. Arabella Figg says

    To add to my note above, picture the following:

    “Michael, why are you wasting your time painting on that stupid ceiling when the shed needs painted?”

    “Leo, quit doodling and get in here this minute! You’ve got homework, young man.”

    “Man, that Picasso, what’s he drinking? Brother!”

    “Georgia, quit painting dirty flowers and take time to smell them.”

    “There goes an expensive education. [Insert impressionist] just paints these ridiculous daubs nobody wants. He’s the laugh of Paris.”

    “I’ve told little Pat, time and time again, not to play with matches!”


  10. Kathy talks about reading DH after watching Tour de France coverage. (As we come up on the one-year anniversary, this will become topical, so I don’t feel *too* bad about being slightly off-topic.)

    Well, a late book arrival wouldn’t have helped me. I had gone full media blackout around Wednesday, about the time we began to hear reports of leaks. (I hadn’t planned on going dark until Thursday or Friday.) I did read some of Travis’ blog comments during that time – his reactions, illustrated through photos of his daughter, were priceless.

    But my blackout even included skipping the British Open – a big deal for a golf fan like myself. I did watch the final round on Sunday, after I had finished the book, and the camera at one point zoomed in on a young boy in the gallery reading . . . Deathly Hallows! And the commentator took him to task for not paying attention to the golf.


  11. well, in July of 2000 I was.. really not a part of Potterdom. But hey, on the flipside, I didn’t have to wait for any books but the last. I think this guy Acton’s stuff is fantastic, he really enjoys it and makes beautiful models. He’s working on a huge Minas Tirith right now, and so far it looks great. Check out more of his works: Acton Family Website.


  12. RedHeadDo says

    When GoF came out I was still reading the books aloud to my sons, (at the time 9. 11 and 15). The oldest left for lacrosse camp the day after GoF went on sale. He made the rest of us SWEAR we wouldn’t read a word until he came home. Once loaded into the vehicle after 5 days of camp. I pulled out the book and started reading on our 1 hour drive home while my husband drove. My husband just didn’t get it…. and still doesn’t. He’s watched the movies, but doesn’t know what he’s missing in the details of the books. To me the biggest loss in the movies is the depth of the characters and understanding the complexity of their relationships. It’s hard to have sympathy for and care about characters that have no depth.

  13. Arabella Figg says

    I had to think to remember our GOF release experience. We’d read the first three during the hype preceeding GOF’s release, maybe a year before it.

    GOF was the first book (in history?) you could reserve in advance for $5 down. So we had our reserve and got it the morning after the midnight party. This was the book whose first run was short of expectation; many people couldn’t get it and I felt sorry for them.

    My husband and I took turns. I got it by day, he had it in the evening.

    When OOTP came out, I had just severly sprained (shredding a ligament) and broken my right ankle and was laid up for the summer. My husband got our reserve OOTP and I spent several days in the depths with Harry, wondering, what the heck? And then, rereading it. (Thank heavens a certain Professor was able to shed some light on this dark book.)

    Both my ankle and my appreciation for HP were never the same.

    Thank heavens for a cat on my lap… >^..^

  14. I risk repeating myself on this thread…but I didn’t read any of the books until the summer of 2006 after graduating from So IL Univ-Carbondale. I can’t explain the delay except to say that I knew I wanted to do them justice and didn’t want to share reading-for-grade time with reading-for-pleasure time.

    Worth the wait? You bet! Best graduation present I could have given to myself.

    The only release party experience for me came last year when DH came out…my Texas family reserved the book as my Mother’s Day surprise and we trouped out to their favorite Barnes & Noble in July to negotiate the twisty-turny lines with other Potterphiles. I waited until we returned to the house to literally closet myself until 4am, reading as fast as I could! Then I had to wait until “down time” over the next two days to read on! I did finish on Sunday afternoon…and began rereading on our trip home later in the week. I haven’t stopped reading the series since.

  15. revgeorge says

    I came into reading Harry Potter fairly late in the game. It must have been six months or so after HBP came out ’cause I picked up a hardback copy of the book. But once I started reading them, I didn’t stop. I must’ve read the series 5 times or more before DH came out. Plus various books on the series, especially John’s Looking for God in HP. And listening to podcasts, of course.

    Arabella, know what you mean. Many times while reading through the series, I had multiple cats on my lap. 🙂

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