Louise’s Pre-Cursed Child Post: Anticipation, Head-scratching, and Curry.

It’s Cursed Child Eve for this Hogpro faculty member, as, almost exactly a year after I snagged tickets to the Broadway production, I caught the train to NYC from Charlottesville for the big show. I opted for the one day version, so Parts I and 2 are both tomorrow. A long day of theater-going, to be sure!

Headmaster John asked me to write up both pre- and post-performance productions. Confession time… while I read the script through twice when it was published in July 2016, I intentionally have not picked it up since, knowing that I would someday see the play and wanting as fresh a take as possible.  In a perfect world, I would have seen the play before reading the script, but, I couldn’t wait three years. Thus, while John insists he would have read the play multiple times in the weeks before the show, so as to best be on alert for any changes, I took the opposite approach.

I did, however, re-read the previous posts I had written about the script (here, here and here), as well as listen to the MuggleNet Academia episode I recorded on the topic. Another must-read was Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s brilliant essay of the Oedipal connections to the script.  So, if you want to know my thoughts on the script itself prior to the show, you can go there. 

In the absence of fresh script thoughts, I will share a bit of my Cursed Child Eve festivities in the Big Apple. We arrived in mid-afternoon, just in time to check out our decidedly “cozy” hotel and do a little sight-seeing. After a stroll by the Empire State Building, we visited the NYC Public Library, which turned out to be a great place for getting into the Potter spirit. Not only are there awesome lions– that’s the very Gryffindorly-named Fortitude, above– there was an entire display of Harry Potter material in the library gift shop, including, of course, the Cursed Child script. 

Then, we walked over to the Lyric Theater itself, where the show will start at 1 PM tomorrow.  The gift shop there was open as well, and my husband requested I visit today, before I got overly intoxicated by either the production itself or the drink to which our Headmaster has promised to treat me. As it turned out, his fears that I would go crazy in that retail establishment were groundless.  I noticed on the picture of the house banners outside the theater that a couple of the House color schemes were off. Gryffindor and Slytherin were OK, but Hufflepuff was a light gold, almost beige, paired with a muddy brown. rather than the yellow and black of the series. Ravenclaw, already corrupted from the books’ blue-and-bronze to the blue-and-grey of the movie merchandise, was even worse: a royal blue paired with a sky blue. (Bleah!) As you can see in the photo, the faulty color scheme was repeated in the t-shirts, ties and scarves sold in the theater souvenir shop. This pretty much kills any chance I will add to my Ravenclaw swag collection here.  

On top of that, a lot of the key-chains, pens, etc. carried the slogan “The 8th Story, 19 Years Later.”  If you perused the posts and podcasts, you know I think it was a mistake to marked this as the “8th book” in the series, since it clearly is not. The opening dialogue on Platform 9 3/4 does not match either the book’s or the film’s; where Harry is clearly shown to have a loving relationship with Albus Severus and be OK with him being a Slytherin. That fundamental precept must be changed if the Cursed Child storyline is going to exist. For that reason, I belong to the camp that rejects the play as canon, and considers it a fan-fiction adjunct, albeit the best type, the kind that gets the approval of the Author Herself. So, while I am greatly looking forward to the theatrical spectacle tomorrow, I think I will let my “Best Play” flyer, above, be my only souvenir. Unless that promised drink comes in a keepsake goblet or cauldron….

The final fun bit?  Our hotel is located directly over this awesome little take-out curry place, where we ate a delicious dinner after our touristing. It was enough to help me imagine being in London with Cormoran, Robin, Nick and Ilsa.

Back tomorrow with a review of the play itself!

Creosote-Colored Tea Leaves: Louise’s First Musings for Cormoran Strike 5

As has been pointed out multiple times by John Granger and others, the Cormoran Strike series seems to be following a pattern of parallels to the Harry Potter series, with Book 2 centered on the havoc wreaked by a mysterious autobiographical book, Book 3 on a notorious escaped criminal stalking the protagonist and Book 4 on patricide of a government minister, set against the backdrop of a major sporting event. For this reason, we should expect echoes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Cormoran Strike 5.

John has also pointed out the multiple ring structures in the Harry Potter series, with similar themes in books 1, 4, and 7; 2 and 6; and 3 and 5. The large number of parallels seen between Cuckoo’s Calling and Lethal White suggest the pattern is continuing with the Cormoran Strike series. Thus we should expect echoes from both Career of Evil and Order of the Phoenix in the next installment of Robin’s and Cormoran’s adventures.

With that in mind, I’m going to start a few preliminary muses about themes, ideas and storylines that might come up. Keep in mind this is pure, very early speculation. More after the jump. [Read more…]

Misattribution of Arousal: More Evidence of Robin’s Psychology Training

As most Hogpro readers know, I am a psychology professor/ neuroscientist/ behavior analyst, and therefore love looking for psychological themes in fiction. Most of my commentary has involved depictions of mental illness, though the Hunger Games and  Divergent provided a mountain of other themes, from personality theory to fear conditioning to neuroscience. Naturally, I was delighted to learned that Robin Ellacott had planned to major in psychology, prior to dropping out of uni, and I take special note of any use of her psychology training on the job.

This segment of Lethal White, where Robin tries to sort out her feelings for Cormoran, really jumped out at me.

Wasn’t it possible, she asked herself, when she was cried out at last, that she was confusing gratitude and friendship with something deeper? That she had mistaken her love of detection for love of the man who had given her the job? She admired Strike, of course, and was immensely fond of him. They had passed through many intense experiences together, so that it was natural to feel close to him, but was that love?

Whether she consciously remembers her coursework or not, Robin is demonstrating knowledge of a well-known psychological phenomenon, misattribution of arousal. More after the jump. [Read more…]

The Flobberworm’s Flat: Is Robin Entitled to a Share of the Proceeds?

As happy as many Serious Striker’s were to see Robin finally walk out on the Flobberworm, it was painful to see her searching, for the second time, for tiny rooms in shared houses. Personally, I’m quite glad Nick and Ilsa had a friend conveniently in need of a roommate. But what if she is not *quite* as financially bad-off as she thinks?  I will admit I don’t know the first thing about British marital property laws, but I was intrigued about this little aside from Lethal White:

“Matthew had objected when Robin first suggested renting again, but she had overridden him, saying that she could not stand another year in Hastings Road while further purchases of overpriced houses fell through. Between the legacy and Matthew’s new job, they were just able to make rent on the smart little three-bedroomed house, leaving the money they had received from the sale of their Hastings Road flat untouched in the bank.”

So—  they sold an apartment, roughly a year after they married, and deposited the full amount in the bank.  I have to assume there is no such thing as a cheap apartment in London, certainly not one that Matthew Cunliffe would deign to inhabit. Ergo, this is a tidy little sum—  certainly way more than the 5000 pounds Robin told Raff would make a huge difference to her.

The question is, is half of that sum Robin’s? Did Matthew purchase their flat before Robin joined him in London circa early 2010, right before their engagement? Or did they buy it together? Is Robin’s name on the deed? Was “their Hastings flat” really “theirs” in the legal sense–  and can Robin demand her half now? Certainly Ilsa, the hotshot attorney, can give her some advice on this. Of course, Robin being Robin, she may be reluctant to claim a share of the bank account that she hasn’t personally earned. But, as I said, there are no cheap flats in London– even if she only took a quarter, or a third, it would make her transition easier. As despicably as the Flobberworm treated her in that final scene, I wouldn’t mind seeing Robin take him to the cleaners. And Vanessa “keep her bleeding earring and turn it into a pendant” Ekwensi will probably chime in with some good girlfriend advice. Between Vanessa, Ilsa and Cormoran, Robin’s got some good people in her corner.

The question is, if she does come into this money, what will she do with it? Could it be a deposit on a place of her own? Or—  if, as hinted in the last book, the agency may be in danger of losing its Denmark Street digs,  thanks to the building being sold to a developer, maybe Robin will wind up helping to finance housing for the business, rather than herself. I hope they somehow manage to keep the old office— I’d miss that rickety old metal staircase and broken birdcage lift—  probably more than Robin would.

The Silver Doe: Life Imitates Art


Did someone say, “Expecto Patronum?” Is this a remake of the Silver Doe in the Forest of Dean scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?  

No, it’s a rare albino deer, photographed during today’s snowstorm in Central Virginia. The magical creature was captured on film by Julia Richie and submitted to Charlottesville TV station NBC29’s Weatherpic feature.

Maybe it turned up expecting to attend one of Virginia’s many wizarding festivals?  Has anyone seen any ruby-hilted silver swords lying at the bottom of any nearby ponds? Has Phineas Nigellus Black been blabbing again?

In any case, I challenge any Harry Potter reader to look at this and not think, “Always….”