Always Winter and Never Christmas? Some Thoughts on Snow, Springtime, and Fantasy Literature

According to the calendar, the vernal equinox is coming soon, March 20. The Auditors of Time just decreed that we must all surrender an hour of our lives (they do promise to give it back in the fall), and I’ve already heard spring peepers singing for all they are worth. However, we currently are having a snowstorm here in western North Carolina, so those poor peepers are, as my dad would say, now “peepingReal-Life 'Narnia' inspired author | ITALY Magazine through glass,” and the single digit temperature and sub-zero windchill are enough to make a person look twice at the calendar to see if spring is around the corner or on another continent. As I frequently point out to my fellow residents of the mountains during this time of year, “Appalachian Spring” is not just a musical composition; it is a specific species of cruel joke. It’s rather like that feeling when, well before the end of the book or film, our heroes have slain the monster and we, savvy story-consumers that we are, know that the monster is NOT in fact dead, or the monster has a baby, a mate, a scary parent, or a whole monster army in reserve. Thus, the howling winds outside and the freshly cut daffodils inside (I cut them just before the snow) have reminded me of some thoughts I have long been pondering about the way seasons, particularly winter and spring, work in fantasy literature and how the treatment of those seasons is often an indication of the worldviews of authors and of the directions their tales will take.

So join me after the jump as we ponder some fantastic thoughts and decide if “winter is coming” or if, in fact, “This is no thaw. This is spring.”

[Read more…]

Will Ariana be one of the Secrets of Dumbledore we see in the Next Fantastic Beasts Film?

After our lively conversation about the posters for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts:  The Secrets of Dumbledore, due out April 15, I think it  Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore - Wikipedia is safe to say that curiosity is high about the film and about just what secrets might be revealed by and about Dumbledore and his family. Last month, Mugglenet published photos that had beeAriana Dumbledore from "Crimes of Grindelwald"n taken during production on the second film, photos of an actress depicting Ariana Dumbledore in scenes that were evidently cut from the final version. It’s anyone’s guess if Ariana will appear in the new film, but there are a few interesting aspects that might be fun to ponder as we hope to learn more about Dumbledore, a character who has the distinction of always being courteous and friendly, while simultaneously holding his cards so close to his robes that hardly anyone really knows him, and those who think they do sometimes aren’t sure.

Any scene with Ariana will have to be a flashback, Pensieve, or Mirror of Erised experience, of course, so perhaps the footage shot for the second film could be used for the new one. After the jump, I have a few quick observations on these photos and their potential.

[Read more…]

Take a Virtual Wizarding World Trip to Universal-Orlando with ResortTV1

With high gas prices and all the other challenges of travel these days, you may not be up for a trip to Central Florida and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so you may want to check out the YouTube channel of ResortTV1. This lovely channel has been around for over 13 years, with brother and sister team Josh and Jenna vlogging and regularly streaming from the Universal and Disney Parks.

If you can’t go out on a Friday night, go with Josh and Jenna (and sometimes their parents or Josh’s wife and son) on a stress-free visit to beautiful Orlando! I’ve enjoyed reliving my own days in that area, as Jenna and Josh wander around my old stomping grounds (the Disney World streams at Christmastime were my stress escape!). They are wonderful hosts, very family friendly and relaxed, taking viewers to the front of the line and to great views of the parades and fireworks with no crowds, high costs, or sweltering heat.

If you’ve never been to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World, check out this video from last fall, in which you can see some of the Wizarding World seasonal entertainment. You can also see some of the sites on other visits to the park. If you are hoping to visit the Wizarding World (or any other resort area park) in the future, this channel will whet your appetite. Enjoy!

New Fantastic Beasts Posters: Lights, Flowers, the All-Important Backdrops, and our Missing Leading Lady

As we await April and the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, we’ve already been closely analyzing the previews and posters as they come along, dissecting the carefully arranged images and making predictions that may turn out to be dead accurate, wildly off base, or somewhere in between. Last week, we were treated to a series of eighteen character posters, and they are likely already going up across the country in theaters eager to welcome back live audiences after nearly two years of viewers relying more on streaming than on the cineplex.

While there will be plenty of folks eager to blow some money, gobble some popcorn, and just enjoy the promised CGI-fest, maybe even in IMAX, there may also be more to the film than just another money-spinning blockbuster; there is certainly more to these posters than just glossy headshots of attractive people with sparkly sticks. We could be dazzled and distracted by the pretty faces or snazzy costumes, but there are a few interesting themes that are noticeable, including the use of lights and light sources, a strange flower motif, and some very well positioned backgrounds.

Of course, we also need to talk about the Auror in the room, or rather, the Auror who isn’t in the room. Join me after the jump as we take a peek at each poster we have (and speculate on the one we don’t have) to make some of those predictions!

[Read more…]

Real World Echoes of Cuckoo’s Calling: Celebrity Suicide Sad, Familiar, and True

This week, I was teaching my students Edwin Arlington Robinson’s classic 1897 poem, “Richard Cory.” I asked, as I always do, if the story seemed familiar. Of course, my students know plenty of stories of people like Richard Cory, beautiful, affluent, charming people whoFormer Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Dies at 30 - The New York Times nonetheless end their own lives, either directly, as he does, or with drugs, alcohol, or other destructive choices. Some of those are stories of famous people, and others concern less-well-known people who nonetheless seemed to have everything any of us could want. It may seem surprising that someone who has it all should throw it all away, but it happens with terrifying frequency.

This week also saw headlines that were both sad and hauntingly familiar to Strike readers as beautiful pageant winner and television host Chelsie Kryst died under circumstances painfully reminiscent of those surrounding the death of Lula Landry. While Lula is merely a literary construction, Ms. Kryst was a very real person, with friends and family who are devastated by her death. The world appears shocked, as it always does, when someone beautiful and famous dies this way. Ms. Kryst was the 2019 Miss USA, advancing from North Carolina, and went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. She was a college athlete, an attorney, and a correspondent for Extra! She was clearly loved and admired. Yet, like so many people, she wrestled with her own challenges behind a beautiful image.

[Read more…]