Rowling Twitter Mask: Bonfire Night 2017

Yesterday I asked readers to share their thoughts about the remarkable Twitter cameo picture Rowling had posted on her @JK_Rowling twitter feed. The responses were great (check them out here) and among the guesses and speculation we got a source for the mask.

Nick Jeffery wrote: “I think it’s makeup from last year, there is photo of her with Blondie wearing it.”

A quick internet search for the ‘Rowling Blondie mask’ turned up this story with the picture Nick remembered from a year ago.

Any party with author JK Rowling is bound to be magical.

But the Harry Potter author made sure her Bonfire Night celebrations went with a bang by asking Blondie to provide the evening’s entertainment.

Details emerged on social media when the US band’s co-founder and lead guitarist, Chris Stein, posted an image of punk icon singer Debbie Harry, 72, with Miss Rowling (sic). The author wore a mask over one half of her face, while Miss Harry sported dramatic make-up around her eyes.

The headline for the piece? Is That Debbie Harry (Potter)?

So, it’s not a halloween thing, but a Bonfire Night mask (Bonfire Night is Monday 5 November this year).

It’s not CGI or make-up but a “Venetian-style mask” according to the picture caption.

And it’s not a pointer to the Grindelwald ‘Mad-eye’ but may be a source for the look we’ve seen in Crimes of Grindelwald stills that DeppDelWald is sporting in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts.

I’m going to award HogPro some points toward an Order of Nostradamus medal for writing it was “a mask from Venice she is excited about” my first of three guesses, if only the second idea, the ‘Beasts within us” was meant seriously. I’ll be sending Nick Jeffery a special prize before Bonfire Night for his excellent memory (stay tuned for that announcement!).

Thanks to everyone who commented beneath the post and the folks who wrote me directly. I’m looking forward to seeing if Sebastian and Kelly are right about the crows!

 

Rowling Posts Demonic Twitter Cameo

J. K. Rowling has the largest twitter following of any author on planet earth. She uses her platform and access to 14.5 million tweeters to deliver Lumos pronouncements and push charity drives, to scold those on the political right for being stupid or Donald Trump as well as those with her on the left when they disappoint The Presence (especially the Corbyn inspired anti-Semitism sadly resurgent in the UK today), to share art by women, and to promote the Wizarding World film franchises, Cursed Child, and, on rare occasions, something Cormoran Strike (usually, alas, a BBC1 teevee adaptation advertisement). We sometimes even get a retweeted announcement with film when a dog breaks the world canine long jump record. Mostly, though, it’s Lumos.

She has told us that she tries to make the larger ‘masthead’ picture above her page reflect what she is thinking about. Those of us who collect these pictures — wait, am I the only one? — had all sorts of grins and giggles during our reading of Lethal White because so many of the scenes in the book were either in the masthead at sometime in the last three years or suggestive of the gist of that scene. The fates, the white horses, the chapel-crypt in Parliament, et cetera.

Within the masthead, Rowling embeds a cameo picture of herself. These are not casual selfies but production numbers appropriate to the size of her audience and the importance of creating a strong and positive impression of the author on her minion millions to advance the message of the day. Until yesterday, she changed masthead and cameo at the same time. There is no set period for pictures to stay up; in my little over a year of snipping pictures from the page, the average duration of a masthead-cameo combo is two to four weeks. One set this past August, though, only lasted five days. Once last February she switched out her cameo from full glam to girl-next-door the same day.

From 19 August to 27 September this year, the masthead was a billboard promoting the 18 September release of Lethal White. It looked like this:

On 27 September it changed to this:

I wrote an email about this new picture to my Super Striker micro-mailing list and asked if any of them had an idea of what the backdrop was about. Was it a black swan? A crow? Rowling had tweeted a picture of a crow as her masthead in 2017. M. Evan Willis responded:

Reversed image Search on Google to find the original, to see if the title of the stock photo might reveal anything. It comes up on shutterstock.com, a royalty free image site, with the unenlightening title of “Black feathers close up of black textured surface”. [smile enoji] https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/black-feathers-close-textured-surface-216240412?src=H4dj0sYdBclPRvlAI5ScqQ-1-4 Full photo from Google Images attached. That said, the color would fit if we are to expect the alchemical Nigredo in book 5.

The attached file was a match with the masthead foto. I filed it away.

Today I checked @JK_Rowling and noticed that the masthead was still “Black Feathers Close Up” but that the cameo had changed. My, oh my, had it changed. It looks like the image on the left now. My three guesses are (1) it’s a Halloween Ball mask from Venice she is excited about, (2) she wanted to highlight the ‘Beast Within’ theme of Fantastic Beasts that critics and speculators are neglecting in the run-up to the release of Crimes of Grindelwald next month, and (3) she felt obliged to remind those in Russia who think Harry Potter will save their country that she is a prisoner of demons and her work is the gateway to the occult. Or maybe it is just a show of support for the witches gathering in Brooklyn on 20 October to hex Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?

Anyway, pretty doggone scary cameo, especially against that same black masthead backdrop. Here’s hoping that it is either a warm up for Halloween — or that you know what it is all about! Is it Jo the Minotaur from the Theseus myth beneath the Newt series? That eye is definitely similar to the ghoulish eye of Gellert Grindelwald, no? Please do share your best guess in the comment boxes below. Lemmeno what you think!

Evanna-Luna Dances to Hedwig’s Theme

Did you know that Evanna Lynch corresponded with J. K. Rowling before she was cast as Luna Lovegood? Please remind me the next time I get snarky about The Presence about substantive, life-changing gestures like this that JKR made during the Mania madness to help young people through serious issues. Enjoy the dance!

NPR Wants Potter Professors for Show

National Public Radio in the US is planning a 20th Anniversary program to celebrate all things Harry Potter. They are looking for teachers who use the Hogwarts Saga in their classrooms — not just classes devoted to the subject but anywhere in any subject at any level. Here’s the  CFP — ‘Call for Pundits’ — on their website:

It’s been a little more than 20 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published in the U.S. In that time, the series has become beloved by many — and sparked controversy among others, often making it onto lists of banned books.

NPR wants to hear from teachers who incorporate Harry Potter into their yearly curriculum. Whether you’re just starting out and have loved the books since you were a child or you’re a seasoned veteran who has taught about Hogwarts for years, we want to hear about the experiences you’ve had with your students.

Your responses may be used in an upcoming story, on air or on NPR.org. A producer may reach out to you to follow up on your response, too. Thanks for submitting our form!

The form, very short, can be found here by scrolling down. NPR does great radio and I look forward to hearing about how the Harry Potter stories are being put to use by Generation Hex teachers in primary, secondary, and college classrooms, teachers who grew up with the stories and are now charged with sharing the magic. Please do send out this CFPundits to all the teachers you know who teach with Harry Potter. I hope to listen to your story or your friends’ stories when the show is aired!

J. J. Abrams: The Mystery Box

I have been asked to give a TED-length talk later this month at Oklahoma City’s ‘Curiosity Fest’ so I have been watching online some of the most popular videos of this speaking genre. This is a shorter and funnier example with something of a message for Potter-philes about the power of mystery in story-telling. Plus you get to learn how a director gets around the problem of shooting scenes involving a gun forced inside Tom Cruise’s nose. Enjoy!