Sunday, November 17, 2002

NEW YORK (ICBW) -- In the wake of the spectacular opening-weekend success of the latest Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", authorities are bracing for the likely consequence: a spate of children injuring themselves while imitating Potter's magic feats. "We want to warn the public that magic is a dangerous business," said Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and a technical consultant to the filmmakers. "Untrained muggle children shouldn't even attempt to dabble in it."

After the release of the first film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", numerous young viewers sustained injuries uttering backfired spells and playing quidditch with dangerously underpowered homemade brooms. This time, there have already been scattered reports of flying-car accidents and careless petrifications. "The magic stunts performed in the film all involved qualified Hogwarts-trained professionals," explained Dumbledore. "But many youngsters see a group of child actors appearing to use powerful spells and potions, and figure, 'hey, I can do that.'"

In preparation for the film's opening, hospitals throughout the US have stocked up on mandrake root and phoenix tears, and Dumbledore said his staff will be available around the clock to handle emergencies. "But the best precaution," he reminds viewers, "is to stick to non-magical pursuits. It's funny, really--if our own students had a choice, most of them would neglect their magic completely and spend all day playing video games and chattering on their blasted cellphones."

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