Matyrs Crispin and Crispinian

Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

– William Shakespeare, Henry V

Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Conference

The annual peak of Potter Punditry, at least with respect to gatherings, is this weekend in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, a suburb just north of Philadelphia, where Chestnut Hill College hosts the 2019 edition of ‘The Harry Potter Conference. I am home in Oklahoma this October but Hogwarts Professor Louise Freeman is representing and presenting, not to mention moderating a panel or two, and I suspect long time friends of this weblog, David Martin, David Gras, Lorrie Kim, Lana Whited, Kathryn McDaniel, and the local group, the Potterdelphians, are there in addition to the Chestnut Hill hosts and conference co-ordinators, Karen Wendling and Patrick McCauley.

It’s a fun gathering and a great place to meet a host of like-minded and not-so-like-minded serious readers. Check it out if you’re in the area or just surf the website for the talks scheduled. Enjoy!

Hunger Games Prequel Title Announced

I’m playing frantic catch-up on my non-Harry Potter life after a wonderful but busy build-up to Queen City Mischief and Magic, highlighted by a visit and multiple talks by our own John Granger. But, I had to make a brief post to announce that the Hunger Games prequel now has a title:  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.  The cover has also been released.

We know the book will feature the Reaping for the 10th annual Games, and speculation is that we will see Mags chosen as District 4 tribute. The “Snake” in the title also suggests that a young Cornelius Snow will play a role.

Collins appears to be sticking with at least some elements that worked well in the first series books and movies, particularly the use of ballad motifs, a la The Hanging Tree and the Meadow Song. And the familiar bird-in-a circle is back, albeit a less mature-looking one, firmly encased in multiple rings and perching on a nest of thorns, in contrast to the gradual break-out of the series. 

Now would be a great time to look back on previous comments and speculate some more, while we wait for May.

Hat-tip to Mike G. 

Carnival Row: Literary Value Worth the Unsavory Package?

Image result for carnival row

This week, I had one of those wonderful moments that reminds me why I teach. In my ENG 112 class, we were having a great literary conversation, starting to unpack W.B. Yeats’s fantastic poem “The Stolen Child,” which describes the fae and their efforts to lure a human child away from the human world. The students had already asked great questions about the geographical references and some of the vocabulary, but I could see they were trying to really grasp the poem. I explained about the amorality of the fae, their differences from cutesy fairies and their connections in literature and Irish mythology, and then, one of my students exclaimed, “They’re kidnappers!” I wish I could have captured the look on his face, an a-ha expression that combined both his delight at making his connection and his discomfort with the unsavory undertones of the poem. His combined reaction is very similar to my own in response to the new Amazon Original series Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevinge, and an impressible ensemble cast in a tale of good and evil, of fae and of men.

The steamnoir series is set in a world where the fae world is not a myth or fantasy, but a very real geographical location that has been torn asunder by warfare between competing armies of men. It is visually stunning as well as thought provoking, making some fascinating allusions to history, mythology, and literature, but it is definitely not family viewing, with language and scenes that would make Cormoron Strike blush. [Read more…]

Who Do You Think You Are, Daniel? Happy 30th Birthday, Daniel Radcliffe

Read about the show here. Hat tip to Kelly!