Accio Knowledge! (And cookies!): Countdown to Queen City Mischief and Magic.

We are down to less than a week until the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, and the line-up of speakers rocks this year, starting with our own Headmaster.  I am going to be crazy busy this year, but I hope it will all be worth it.  I look forward to hosting John and hopefully impressing him with both Mary Baldwin University and Anthony and Cleopatra at the Blackfriars.

See full program here:

I like to bake special cookies for special occasions, and QCMM is no exception.  I usually do several batches of treats to hand out for trivia prizes and give as thank-you’s to our wonderful volunteers.  I spent most of yesterday with my rolling pin and Harry Potter cookie cutters, baking up some specialty treats.  My personal favorite is the Sorting Hat, made with an apple-cinnamon dough that is the perfect color.  A bonus:  no decorating needed!

Even better, my cookie-cutter collection is extensive enough that I can create some Potter-themed goodies with other cutters.  A Christmas reindeer becomes Prongs, a dog (in my favorite chocolate dough) makes a great Padfoot and I turned a train into the Hogwarts Express.  My newest edition is a fawn I ran across at Michael’s, which has become my Silver Doe.

I’m still looking for a cute frog cookie cutter for Chocolate Frog cookies, but in the meantime I’ll settle for my molds.  In addition to the Chocolate Frogs, I crushed up some candy mints and made some white Peppermint Toads.

If any of our regular Hogpro readers are coming to the festival, stop by the talks at MBU at the Wharf, next to Pufferbellies Toys (which is another place you don’t want to miss!) I’ll try to slip you a cookie, or possibly one of my Cauldron Cake Pops, from the speakers’ stash.

Emma Watson as Meg March: New “Little Women” Trailer Debuts

The trailer for the new Little Women movie has made its debut, and Harry Potter fandom is abuzz over Emma Watson playing the role of all-American protagonist Meg March. She apparently wasn’t the first choice for the role, and some have questioned whether she can pull off an American accent. Still, she looks beautiful, as always, and I have read comments comparing her pink ball gown to her Yule Ball attire.

What surprised me when I heard she was in the movie was her age.  Emma Watson is 29 years old, and playing a character who is roughly the same age as Hermione was in Deathly Hallows, which filmed a full decade ago.  When I first heard she was in the film, I thought, wow, she’s pretty young to be Marmee. Yes, Emma proved she could still do the young girl thing in Beauty and the Beast. But this is one of the biggest cinematic age mismatches since 33-year-old Stockard Channing played Rizzo in Grease.

Though since 39-year old Shirley Henderson pulled off Moaning Myrtle, and 11-year olds Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are being played by actors in their mid-20’s onstage, I guess anything is possible.

I think it is interesting–and refreshing– that Emma Watson is continuing to embrace her wholesome young girl persona, when so many former child actresses are eager to move on to more adult (read: sexually explicit) roles.

While we wait for the Christmas season movie, let’s go back and read John Granger’s post on Harry Potter’s, and JKR’s connection to Little Women. 

Laugh out Loud with Reading, Writing, Rowling Episode 26: Harry Potter and Humor

What do “Gran’s on the run,” Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the Rotfang conspiracy have in common?  They are all among the funniest elements highlighted by the podcasters of Reading Writing, Rowling. This is the show I have wanted to do for years.  Best of all, it’s only the first of two parts, so more to come!

Join me, Katy McDaniel, Emily Strand and Caitlin Harper for a discussion of how Rowling makes us laugh, and what the humor does for the Harry Potter series!

Final Round-Up: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal.

After a week of reflecting about the trip, I wanted to come back and summarize some final thoughts.

Do I recommend Universal as a pilgrimage destination for Potterheads? Merlin’s beard, yes! The Wizarding World attractions are amazing, and they are, of course, only part of a much larger theme park, which has some incredible rides, especially if you like the 3D and 4D type. Favorites of ours outside of the Wizarding World included the Hulk rollercoaster and the Transformers 3D ride.

Having experienced the park for a single evening on my own in 2014, I was particularly happy to share this multi-day adventure with my family. In a way. I felt like the fictional parents of the Wizarding World, beaming with pride at seeing my son purchase his wand at Ollivanders and learn to cast spells. Judging from the number of families who were enjoying the park together, I’m not alone. As the earliest child-readers of the series grow up and have their own families, I predict the park will only grow in popularity.

More random thoughts after the jump! [Read more…]

The Closing Feast: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 5.

Date:  11 July 2019

T-shirt choice: “Always” (with Deathly Hallows symbol for A).

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Open on and off most of the day, but no way were we braving that line again.

Today was our last day in the park, and the plan was to arrive at a reasonable time, and stroll through both parks to do some favorite rides, provided the lines were reasonable. We started with the Hulk coaster in Islands of Adventure and worked our way up to Hogsmeade by midday.

Happily, I was able to see both of the shows that were rained out the previous evening. The Frog Choir was as 4-person (and 2-amphibian) a cappella group that did a short set of 3 songs, two of which were familiar from the movies: “Something Wicked This Way Comes” from Prisoner of Azkaban and “Dance Like a Hippogriff,” from the Yule Ball of Goblet of Fire. The frog puppets seemed to provide a bit of back-beat. Overall, a good, although short performance.

The Triwizard Spirit Rally was next and consisted of a group of three Durmstrang and four Beauxbatons students, performing a dance routine reminiscent of the schools’ entrance in Goblet of Fire. The guys did some acrobatics and a martial arts quarterstaff routine to the movie music, without the fire-blowing. The ladies did a ballet-style dance to the Beauxbatons music (no butterflies!) and of course, both groups were attired in their movie costumes. Again, a nice performance, but very brief.

The Forbidden Journey ride claimed a 60 minute wait time, so we decided that was worth another round. It was just as good as I remember and I was glad to refresh my memory on a bit of it before blogging about it. However, the wait time was again underestimated a bit: it was more like an hour and 15 minutes.

I picked up the Marauder’s Map scarf I’d had my eye on at the gift shop, mailed my postcards, then we got the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley, so my son could visit the Magical Menagerie store. This place carries almost every creature you can think of from Harry Potter in plush form; you can buy not only Hedwigs, but Errols and Pigwidgeons. I was partial to the hippogriffs, but my son ultimately selected a stuffed niffler. Having done our second round on Escape from Gringotts the previous night, I didn’t do much else there but say hi to Stan Shunpike and toast the end of the adventure with a frozen Butterbeer.

We worked our way back through the rest of the Universal Studios park, did a few more rides, then were ready to go back to the hotel by 8 PM or so.  Part of me wanted to double back and spent the last couple of hours in the Wizarding World, but common sense, and an early morning flight prevailed.

I’ll be back tomorrow for some closing thoughts.