Blizzard Warning: Excerpt from Hunger Games Prequel Posted.

Barely three months from the publication of the Hunger Games prequel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, readers have been treated to a sneak preview. The excerpt is short: less than 1000 words, but has already created a sensation. If you haven’t read it, go here before reading further.  Spoilers, ho!

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New Journal on Fantasy and Fan Culture

Attention fans, writers, scholars, and all combinations thereof!  A new scholarly publication, The Journal of Fantasy and Fan Culture has just premiered, sponsored by the English Department of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  Their first volume will focus on (what else?) Harry Potter! The deadline for submission of scholarly papers is April 1, so check out the guidelines here.  Special note:  no PhD’s allowed.

Still, sounds like a great opportunity for students and masters. I am certain that many of our Hogpro readers could make thoughtful contributions.

Marilyn Manson Not Who You Think?

If Hogwarts Were an Inner City School

Hogwarts Mystery Barely Scores an Acceptable Owl.

Besides reading Harry Potter in Spanish over the holiday, I picked up Hogwarts Mystery for the first time in months and started playing again. I started the game shortly after it was released, and played regularly for a while, but it is the sort of activity I find it hard to sustain long-term.

The Pro’s:  You definitely feel immersed in the world of Hogwarts.  My character is Thelma Peterswarren, and she is currently a fourth year Ravenclaw.  She has mastered the Animagus-form of an eagle and recently learned her Patronus is a Winged Horse (the fact the the two creatures are supposed to be the same notwithstanding..)  Bill Weasley is one of her best friends, and she is not getting to know Charlie, so she wrangled an invitation to the Weasley’s for Christmas this year (via Flying Ford Anglia!). And, like me, she is just now getting to her first Quidditch game; unlike me, she immediately decided to try out for the team.

The “mystery” itself is mildly interesting…  the brother of my character, Jacob, was expelled from Hogwarts, and has since disappeared.  The disappearance is related to the mysterious “Cursed Vaults”, which the protagonist is as determined to find as Harry was the Chamber of Secrets. Between searching, she gets to hang out with friends like Rowen, Penny, Ben and Tonks, and tangle with her arch-enemy, Slytherin Merula and a nasty Professor Snape.

The downside of the game is the pacing.  The bulk of the tasks are the same, whether they are classes, side quests or special events.  Basically, you look at graphics and tap things outlined in blue. Each tap costs a point of energy, and each energy takes 4 minutes to regenerate…  so it takes over three hours to fill up; my storage gets me through maybe 1/2 to 1/3 of a task.  If you are away too long, your “stars” expire and you have to start over. So, if you are not checking in every 2-3 hours around the clock, your progress is painfully slow.  You earn coins, jewels, books, etc along the way, but it can take weeks to save up for the next thing you want to buy—  like nifty new Ravenclaw gear for your room–and any you spend there is less you have to spend on emergency energy if you come up short.  You can always pay Muggle cash to move faster, but I swore, like in Pokemon Go, I was not going to do that.

The dueling is fun if you like a good game of Rock Paper Scissors.  There are cute touches, like getting to choose the name “Fang” for Hagrid’s new puppy. There are other tidbits that may or may not be relevant:  why are Merula’s parents in Azkaban?  Why did a werewolf kill Penny’s sister?  But overall, the game is too frustrating for me to play it too often— only when I have nothing better to do.  I sometime wonder how long before I just go look up the mystery solution online.

In other news, thanks to the support of a number of Potter Pundits and friends of this blog, I am 80% to the way of my goal for the Ecuador Skillcorps 2020 team.  (ignore the strikeout, the link works!)  The Hufflepuffs are leading the way in donations, in support of Dr. Laura Crysel’s personality theory work. I have five more days of my campaign, so please help me fill the Gringott’s vault. It isn’t cursed.  You can also get my magical, house-colored shirts at my Bonfire Store, but the Make Magic variety is only available for a day or two longer.