Robert Downey, Jr., is ‘Dolittle’

Featuring a trove of Harry Potter film franchise stars as animal voices, the new Dolittle movie features Robert Downey, Jr., in the title role. I read the twelve books to my children before we met the Boy Who Lived and they loved them so much that they named every vehicle we owned then and in coming years — cars, vans, even a used RV — after favorite Dolittle animals. I don’t recall offhand anything like the adventure the Dr Downey-Dolittle film is about (he is searching for a cure to a disease Queen Victoria has) but the high seas moments evident in the trailer above are a Hugh Lofting signature.

I had to laugh when I saw that MuggleNet asked in its article about the film and its Potter connections, ‘Is Dr Dolittle a Magizoologist?‘ Louise Freeman, Hogwarts Professor and Dolittle authority, asked and answered that question back in 2016 in a brilliant piece called ‘Could Fantastic Beasts Be Dr Dolittle with a Wand?‘ I highly recommend it and look forward to Dr Freeman’s revisiting the subject in light of the new film.

Live at Queen City Mischief and Magic!

I’ll be speaking today and tomorrow at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival (QCMM) in beautiful Staunton, Virginia, nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

My four, count ’em, four talks will be:

  • ‘Why We Love Harry Potter’ Saturday morning at 10:30 on the Festival’s main stage,
  • ‘Harry Potter and the Ring Composition’ at 2:00 this afternoon at Mary Baldwin University’s venue,
  • Sunday at 1:00 PM I will be talking at The Wharf about the Christian content of the Hogwarts Saga, and
  • I may be speaking again on the main stage Sunday morning as well. If I do, I think I’ll try out something knew: ‘Everything I Needed to Know about Shakespeare I Learned from Harry Potter.’

And there is a panel discussion at 5:00 today at which Prof Louise Freeman and I will answer questions from all-comers from the main stage.

If you can make it to Staunton this weekend, please be sure to introduce yourself as a HogwartsProfessor reader. There will be thousands of people, I know, but I really look forward at these live events to meeting my virtual friends with whom I spend so much time during the year. I hope to see you there, especially if you’re going to see Antony and Cleopatra as I did last night at the American Shakespeare Center’s magnificent Blackfriar’s Theater.

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.