Archives for February 2011

Attention Literary Potter Readers! Leaky Con Academic Proposal Deadline Extended to March 10!

This cartoon from this week’s Monterey Herald serves as a reminder that there are still folks who need reminding of our shared text’s literary value!

On that note, the deadline for academic programming proposals for Leaky Con 2011 is now March 10. I’m really looking forward to some amazing academic presentations, as well as the opportunity to confer with my brother wizards in the steamy Florida sunshine! If you’ve not gotten your proposal in yet, and your Time Turner is broken, get cracking! Even if you don’t want to present, but you have some ideas for academic programming that you’d like to see, email the fine folks planning the academic schedule.

Department of Accidental and Skewed Shared Text References: Kitten Pattern Dishes and DVDs Sale

As I was recently browsing the local classifieds, I nearly dropped the paper when I came across these two entries back to back. I have been sorely tempted to call the number of the second ad and ask for Dolores! I’m fairly certain the folks at the local paper probably didn’t put these two together on purpose, but it’s fun to think so.

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Hogwarts Professor Winter Vacation: Trips to Louisville, Kentucky, and to Huntsville, Alabama

We are on the cusp of breaching 150 inches of snow fall since Thanksgiving here in Central New York State, what one Canadian meteorologist has called this year’s ‘Snow Capitol of North America.’ I am especially delighted, consequently, to be traveling this week to Louisville, Kentucky, for a talk at the University of Louisville McConnell Center (details here) and the Climacus Conference (details here).  I fly farther south from there to Alabama for speaking dates at the Athens and Madison public libraries (details here and here) and at a parochial school. I’ll come home via New Jersey for a return trip to the Blair School’s Society of Skeptics, for an advanced session of Q&A with their witches and wizards.

The friend who scheduled all of these Alabama dates is a woman I met at Leaky Con 2009 in Boston — which reminds me; if you’re coming to Leaky Con 2011 in Orlando this July and you want to give a talk, your proposals have to be in by 28 February. Two weeks until the Programming closes — don’t be late! I’m looking forward to seeing you and hearing your talk in Florida!

I hope to see all HogPro All-Pros living in Louisville’s metropolitan area and friends in Alabama! I’ll be the guy in bermuda shorts and shades enjoying the tropical weather (or just the man smiling unnaturally because he doesn’t have to plow the driveway). 41 days with snowfall in the last 43… Whew– it’s Noah on ice up here!

Brian Jacques, Story Teller, Dead at 71

I have read The Chronicles of Narnia to my children, and The Lord of the Rings, Artemis Fowl, the Little House books, Moody’s Little Britches series, and, of course, Harry Potter. All of them are special to us; the books and their authors are like distant family members you think about much more often than you see them and about whom you always feel fondly.

None of these very special writers and book series, not even the Hogwarts Saga, mean to my younger children what Brian Jacques does and will, despite his passing of a heart attack last Saturday, news we only learned today. There are 23 Redwall novels (and counting) and we have read twenty of them aloud together. The boys and my youngest daughter have read them to themselves and listened to them on tape and CD many more times. Today’s news, consequently, was devastating.

We even met him once and he showed a special kindness to my son, Timothy, a tale I’ll save for another day. Today I just want to say “thank you,” cry a little for the loss and for the great pleasure this wonderful story teller gave me and mine, and open the comment boxes for you to share your favorite Redwall novel or how you first met Martin the Warrior, with whom I hope Brian is enjoying a hearty meal tonight. May the greatest pure story teller of our time rest in peace.

“Somewhere Jacques is slurping hotroot soup and eating a big slice of deeper’n’ever pie, rinsing it down with Dandelion Cordial and October Ale, and crunching dozens of candied chestnuts for dessert.”
— Matt London

There Be Dragons

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to the next title in the HogPro Book Club: C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. To get things started, Professor Pazdziora offers some reflections on literary and spiritual themes in the book. So, grab your copy and your reading memories, and get ready for a great series of challenging discussions on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.]

There Be Dragons

A Reader Remembers
The Voyage of the
Dawn Treader

I know nothing about cartography. So maybe that’s why it’s always seemed to me like a strange and mystical science. There’s poetry in maps. I stare at those squiggled lines and neat text—geological tortures reduced to splotches of ink—the Sahara to Yellow 5 and the Nile to Blue 47—and wonder: have the mapmakers really been there? Did they sketch this from memory? From travellers’ tales?
From dreams?

It’s no surprise, really, that maps are central to modern fantasy literature. Tolkien began it, of course, perhaps following the example of Rider Haggard and the researches of (ahem) Allan Quartermain, or the legendary map that sent Squire Trelawney and the good doctor on their ill-fated adventure.

Any edition of The Lord of the Rings is incomplete without a large foldout of Christopher Tolkien’s painstaking and perfect maps of the Shire, Middle-Earth, and Mordor. Bilbo Baggins began his adventure with a map, of course. A map that showed where the treasure was hidden, a map with a secret door. And on the edge of the map—at the end of the journey—was the dragon.

And so the mapmakers gave us the warning:

Here there be dragons.

That was the legend on the edges of maps, the signifier that admitted fear of the unknown. The ancient cartographers drew dragons around the boundaries of the world. The quarters inaccessible to human voyagers were realms of deathly peril. Sea Serpents. Giant Squid. Sirens. Kraken. And dragons.

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