Mail Bag: Wands that Work, Star Wars Webinar, Snape as Role Model, and… Ron Weasley as Hat-Tip to Aslan?

f192990246Pretty full mailbag today with quite the variety of news, events, challenging ideas, and questions I’ve never heard before. Let’s jump right in with a report that you’ve been waiting on for at least a decade.

Okay, maybe that’s not for everyone. My cell phone, for example, has a rotary dial. I’m pretty sure my 20th Century Nokia is not going to cut it with ‘Alohamora!’

But here’s something for anyone who has seen a Star Wars film (I’m guessing that pretty much everyone in the Common Room today?). Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, profound Potter Pundit and the first one kind enough to answer my email (way, way back in 2002), is giving a free webinar on the greatest Sci-Fi film franchise ever. Here is what she sent me today about the wow talk she is giving online for free:

I just wanted to drop you a note in case you or anyone you know might be interested in the event below. Everyone is welcome!

I’m going to be offering a free online and interactive lecture on Saturday, August 15 at 3pm Eastern as part of the Mythgard Guest Lecture Series. It will be hosted by GoToWebinar, so all attendees need is some kind of internet access (computer, smartphone, etc.).

Here are the details:

Title: “The Jedi, the Cowboy, and… Thomas Edison?: Pulp Science Fiction and Star Wars”

Synopsis: What images come to mind when you think of Star Wars? Luke Skywalker watching the twin suns set on Tatooine? Princess Leia with a blaster in her hand and buns on her head? The glow of a lightsaber in the darkness? These visuals convey volumes, and they spring in part from a common origin.

One of the keys to the worldwide success of Star Wars is that the saga draws from a variety of global sources, both classical and contemporary. Join Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she discusses one particular tradition that has left its indelible imprint on the Star Wars franchise. How did pulp science fiction evolve? What is the relationship between this genre and the Western? And how can tracing the pulp ancestry of Star Wars give us new insights on key moments and messages across the Star Wars canon — and quite possibly shed light on the forthcoming film The Force Awakens? Star Wars fans and newbies alike are welcome!

Registration is free here:

I’m especially excited about this class Dr. Amy is giving, because, as my private email list friends know already, I’m offering a WebinarJam class in ten days about — well, that’s just for those on the Serious Readers list. If you want to join, you’re more than welcome; just sign up here (and get my Cormoran Strike Mystery notes as an extra) or shoot an email to awlist3972339 at I’ll send you a note tomorrow if you do.

f21778854Another long-time friend, Nadja Wolfe whom I met way back when she was a lowly undergrad at Washington & Lee. She’s since moved on to law school, some time in Russia, and now in New York City.  Nadja wrote me to say:

I hope you’re well. I’ve thought of you lately because I now live in NYC and guess who I hang out with—The Group That Shall Not Be Named. 🙂

I saw this and thought of you: – nothing crazy but a nice reflection on the Christian example of Snape.

That’s two fun surprises: Nadja meeting up with Jon Rosenthal and the wildest group of serious Potter readers (and Cos Players) in the Western Hemisphere and a ‘Living Like Snape’ reflection in The National Catholic Review. If you, like me, hadn’t thought that Professor Snape was a role model for young Americans, well, guess again!

And Viktor Richardson left me scratching my head with this question:

Dear Professor:

Inspired by your latest MuggleNet Roundtable on the medieval motifs in Harry Potter, I wondered if just as “Tom Marvolo Riddle” > “I Am Lord Valdermort” could “Roonil Wazlab” > “Low Brio Azlan”?

Ron being the low spiritus lion, Harry the high spiritus lion.

If so, it would be another hat tip to C. S. Lewis.

Ron 1Have you encountered a better unraveling of Ron’s nickname?

I love that Ron has the same frustrations with spell checkers making wrong from right a smuggles!

Apologies if this is an old musing and I am just slow on the uptake.


I responded:

Dear Viktor,

f4219174Have you encountered a better unraveling of Ron’s nickname?

No — but, then again, I haven’t seen any other attempts! ‘Low Brio Azlan’ seems quite the stretch, of course, both because of the spelling and the lack of any kind of association with Ron and the Red Lion; I just haven’t got a better and am not feeling particularly dismissive.

Mind if I run it up the flagpole at HogwartsProfessor?

Grateful John

Viktor assures me he has a thick skin and welcomes your feedback.

More anon! Keep these e-Owls and letters coming… and don’t forget to sign up for the Serious Readers email list!


  1. Louise M. Freeman says

    I am not sure JKR could bring herself to misspell Aslan, but I have wondered about Ron being mocked with “Weasley is our King” in an Aslan/Christ manner, then the song of derision turning into a true song of praise after his victory. Was Luna wearing her roaring lion’s hat during that particular game?

    Calling someone a King in a trash-talk song always struck me as an odd choice.

  2. Thanks, Louise!

    According to the web site WHO’S YOUR BABY, “Azlan” is a popular Muslim boy’s name meaning lion.

    The spelling is no impediment if JKR is being extra cryptic or If she is referring to the trio collectively as a lion in alchemical formation:

    The name “Roonil Wazlib” belongs to both Ron and Harry in that Harry tells Snape it is His nickname. Also, I think Hermione is described as possessing a “main” of dark bushy hair.

    Also from WHO’S YOUR BABY are these attributes of a person named Azlan:

    Potential. Helper – Expression / Destiny Number 9. His talents center in humanistic interests and approaches. Azlan likes to help others as Azlan’s were intended to be the big brother or big sister type. Azlan operates best when following his feelings and sense of compassion, and allow himself to be sensitive to the needs of others. Azlan works well with people, and has the potential to inspire. This suggests that Azlan could successfully teach or counsel. Creative ability, imagination and artistic talent (often latent) of the highest order are present in this expression. It’s possible that Azlan is not using or developing all of these capabilities at this time. Some of his talents may have been used at an earlier time in his life, and some may still be latent. Be aware of his capabilities, so that Azlan can make use of them at appropriate times. Azlan has a strong awareness of his own feeling as well as those of others. Friendships, affection, and love are extremely important.

    Desire. Friendship – Soul Urge Number 2. Motivation is centered on friendships, partnerships, and companionship. Azlan wants to work with others as a part of a cooperative team. Leadership is not important to you, but making a contribution to the team effort is. Azlan is willing to work hard to achieve a harmonious environment with sensitive, genial people. Sympathetic, extremely concerned and devoted. The nature tends to be very sensitive to others, always tactful and diplomatic. This element in his nature indicates that Azlan is rather emotional. Azlan is persuasive, but in a very quiet way, never forceful. Azlan is the type that makes really close friendships because Azlan is so affectionate and loving.

    At the time Forge’s mis-spell checker quill gave this cryptic name, Ron was not manifesting many of these attributes.

    Is this totally Luna-sensical?

  3. Louise, I think you are really onto something with the “Lion King song”. JKR must still sit back after ten years and chuckle at how much she has slipped past the sleeping dragons!

    The trio are not The Aslan but, true Azlans in training.

  4. Louise M. Freeman says

    Very interesting, Viktor. Who knows? I learned something new about Aslan/Azlan, anyway.

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