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.

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The Wand (or Other Magical Tool) Chooses the Wizard

Most of us are used to being able to pick up many everyday tools and use them, regardless of their provenance. If I need a knife to cut up a potato, I just get one out of the drawer. If I need a pen, I grab the pen at hand. It doesn’t really matter if the knife or pen is one I’ve had aNew logo marks an exciting year ahead for the Wizarding World | Wizarding World short while, one I inherited, or even one that belongs to someone else, as long as I can cut up the potato or write down the item on the grocery list. However, like most people, I find that it really does matter. I have a favorite paring knife; I have pens I like or don’t like. Sometimes, it is because of the intrinsic quality of the item. Maybe that particular knife just holds the edge well or does a particularly nice job on potatoes. Maybe that pen writes well. Sometimes, though, it’s more about personal preference. The size of that knife or pen might just be a great fit for my hand, which is smaller than that of most adults. Or, I might prefer a particular color of ink for the task at hand (I have never graded in red, always green, purple, or, occasionally, blue).  Even more subtly, though, that tool choice may be linked to something deeper. Perhaps I use that knife because my granny always used one like that to cut potatoes, or perhaps I choose a pen, even for a menial task, because it reminds me of someone special. Humans are used to choosing our tools for reasons that are both practical and sentimental. Yet, there is also the sense, especially in literature, that tools choose us, and that is a theme we can see not only in the Wizarding World, but also in a wide variety of other texts and popular media.

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Encanto: Soul Triptych Magic

Encanto | Disney Movies Disney’s animated films are known for being enchanting. Whether we are taken deep into the forest to the castle of a Beast or swept off to the glorious savannahs of Africa, these films can take audiences somewhere, somewhen that is magical. In its sixtieth animated feature, Encanto, Disney again brings the enchantment, like the title indicates, as it presents the story of a non-magical girl trying to help and heal her magical family. Like a squib in a house of wizards, Maribel Madrigal is unable to communicate with animals, lift buildings, or control the weather (all abilities her family members possess), but she comes to understand that families and love are not about those kinds of gifts. In part, since the story is set in Columbia, the film relies beautifully on the tradition of magical realism. However, it also relies nicely on a very specific literary structure that we have often visited here: the soul triptych. Join me after the break for a look at the way in which the number three (and twelve), along with a familiar triune structure helps Encanto weave its spell. And yes, we will talk about Bruno!

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The Batman- Coming Soon with Some Familiar Hogwarts Faces under Those Masks!

Superhero movies continue to be popular these days, and even without a multiverse storyline to explain all his incarnations, we’re stillBatman bearing his traditional black batsuit stands in the rain surrounded by red light with the film's logo, title and release date beneath him seeing plenty of versions of Gotham’s Caped Crusader. The new “Bat and Cat” Trailer gives a good long sneak peek at The Batman, scheduled for theatrical release March 4, 2022. If you are a fan (or even if you’re not), you may want to check out this amazing trailer, not only for the incredible Batmobile action sequences that should be phenomenal on the big screen, but also to see some Hogwarts alums who are trading in their robes for capes… and claws.

Details after the jump!

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Happy Birthday to the True Ringbearer!

On January 3, 1892, John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was born, and our world has been significantly enriched by his presence in it. In addition to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he translated Beowulf, created all of Middle Earth and its many cultures, places, and languages.Biography of J.R.R Tolkien | Biography Online and helped found a little group called The Inklings.  Professor Tolkien and the Inklings,  particularly C.S. Lewis, helped lay the foundation of the mythopoetic worldview that is so central to all we do here and to the books we love to read and discuss. Thus, as I heard someone suggest this morning, we should all lift our classes this evening and declare a toast, “To the Professor!” If you prefer, you may wish to honor him by reading some of his beautiful words, or even by enjoying some of the many creative interpretations of them. I can recommend one I’ve been enjoying lately: Ambient Works Rivendell Ambience video (very pleasant in the background on a snowy day). There are also videos for the Misty Mountains and other aspects of Middle Earth to put one in a fit state of mind to celebrate the day. Or, one could simply shoot off some fireworks or make a dramatic disappearance and go on an adventure.

Happy One Hundred and Thirtieth Birthday, Professor Tolkien, and thank you for letting us into your world!