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.

See You at Queen City Magic Festival?

I am just off the phone with Prof Louise Freeman, and, yes, we will both be speaking at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival (QCMM) this 26-29 September. The Queen City is charming Staunton, Virginia, home to both Mary Baldwin University and the American Shakespeare Center, in the Shenandoah Valley. I couldn’t be happier or more excited. This is a super fan gathering in a beautiful city that turns itself into Hogsmeade for a weekend, a conference that has a little bit of everything and all of it fun and festive.

I trust Louise will tell you more in the coming weeks but here is my hasty introduction to those new to QCMM. From the festival’s website home page:

Wizards and muggles from near and far descend upon Staunton, Virginia for the annual Queen City Mischief & Magic. With a touch of wizardry, the historic downtown is transformed into a magical village, offering themed shopping, dining and hands-on activities for all ages.

Experiment with potions. Enjoy delicious wizard fare and libations. Try your hand at wild beast taming or wizard dueling.

Visitors are greeted by Norberta the Dragon, where selfies and costumes are encouraged. Unlock the secrets of Staunton’s bewitching historic downtown using our Mischief Map. Use Traipse, the free app, to explore our walkable downtown while solving puzzles designed to tickle every wizard’s brain… and maybe find a few treasures along the way.

This is not an academic conference, in other words, akin to either the annual MLA gathering in Albuquerque or the Chestnut Hill College colloquium. QCMM is a fan gathering with a serious egghead side-show of talks about the Harry Potter books and films, talks accessible to all levels of readers. HogwartsProfessor.com faculty will be featured this year in that aspect of the festival; I’ll be talking about ‘Why We Love Harry Potter’ and Prof Freeman, a Psychology Professor and licensed Behavior Analyst, will discuss ‘Magic and Mental Health.’ In addition to my keynote talk, I’ll be speaking at a local church and in several Mary Baldwin classrooms.

The conference House-elves have a tentative schedule and plan for venues that will be posted soon on the QCMM website, QueenCityMagic.com. My plan is to arrive Thursday afternoon, and, if at all possible, to catch a play that night at the American Shakespeare Center’s mind-blowing Blackfriar’s Playhouse.

Need I add that I hope to see you there? ‘Not One, but count ’em, Two HogwartsProfessors!’ It promises to be a lot of fun, a feast in fact with a significant helping of quality idea-sharing about the Hogwarts Saga — with a side order of Cormoran Strike — followed by dessert with the Bard — and drinks later at the Hogs Head with other serious readers. I can’t wait.

I learned at the Roanoke Generic Magic Festival in 2017 and its more than 8,000 participants that, indeed, ‘Virginia is For Wizards.’ Join Prof Freeman and me in Staunton 26-29 September 2019 for a fan conference that is free, city-wide (as in ‘check out all the blocked off streets!’), and chock-full of exciting vendors, venues, and visiting Wizard magi. All you need to do is show-up, and, yes, you can bring the whole famn damily in Muggle or wizard regalia, and, of course, you’ll have the time of your lives!

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…]