Leda Strike: Mistress of the Salmon Salt

I received an email yesterday from Katya Slonenko, a Serious Striker in Holland, that was an invitation to read an article she’d written and posted on Reddit’s Cormoran Strike thread about the Blue Oyster Cult lyric that Leda Strike had tattooed above her pudenda. With her permission, I post her note to me below and my response to her, one I wrote after readingWhy did Leda have a Mistress of the Salmon Salt tattoo? Because She was the Quicklime Girl. And What’s That?at Reddit.

In brief, my conclusion from what Ms Slonenko reveals about the the song, the particular lyric, and that Rowling-Galbraith gives the tattoo such importance in Strike’s memories of Whittaker at his murder trial and in Laing’s terrorist note to Robin with the woman’s severed leg is that Whittaker almost certainly did not kill his wife. I hope you will read the Reddit piece and my thoughts on it posted after the jump and that you will offer your thoughts here about the meaning of the tattoo.

I wish to thank Ms Slonenko for writing this challenging piece on a subject neglected here at HogwartsProfessor and for inviting our comments on it (her note is addressed to the ‘The HogwartsProfessor Team’ — and that includes y’all, of course). Enjoy! [Read more…]

Troubled Blood: The Secret of Rowntree

Rattenbury, the yapping terrier in Lethal White, had a name that turned out to be a hidden key to the novel’s murder mystery. In brief, there was a historical real-world murder case featuring a Rattenbury on which the patricide of Strike4 could have been modelled. See Louise Freeman’s Rattenbury the Wonder Dog: The Secret of Lethal White’s Yapping Terrier for that fascinating story.

It turns out that Rowntree, the Ellacott’s aging chocolate Labrador retriever, also has a name with significant meaning. To English men and women, especially those in Yorkshire, the name ‘Rowntree’ has the same association that ‘Hershey’ or ‘Nestle’ has for Americans and non-Brits; it is the name of the largest chocolate confectionery concern in their area.  Here are my three quick-thoughts on this subject: [Read more…]

Troubled Blood: Strike’s Natal Chart

After being chastised by Robin for pretending not to know his astrological sun sign, Strike tells her what he recalls of his natal chart (Troubled Blood, pp 240-242):

“What’s your sign?” asked Robin, trying to work it out.

“No idea.”

“Oh sod off,” said Robin. He looked at her, taken aback. “You’re being affected!” she said. “Everyone knows their star sign. Don’t pretend to be above it.”

Strike grinned reluctantly, took a large drag on his cigarette, exhaled, then said, “Sagittarius, Scorpio rising, with the sun in the first house.” 

“You’re—” Robin began to laugh. “Did you just pull that out of your backside, or is it real?”

“Of course, it’s not fucking real,” said Strike. “None of it’s real, is it? But yeah. That’s what my natal horoscope says. Stop bloody laughing. Remember who my mother was. She loved all that shit. One of her best mates did my full horoscope for her when I was born. I should have recognized that straight off,” he said, pointing at the goat drawing.

“But I haven’t been through this properly yet, haven’t had time.”

“So what does having the sun in the first house mean?”

“It means nothing, it’s all bollocks.”

Robin could tell that he didn’t want to admit that he’d remembered, which made her laugh some more.

Half-annoyed, half-amused, he muttered, “Independent. Leadership.”

Did Rowling actually go to the trouble of giving Strike a birth place, date, and time for a natal chart whose aspects and characteristics would to match the detective she created? After the jump, a quick look at what online astrological mavens say about (1) Sagittarians, (2) those people with rising signs in Scorpio, and (3) the meaning of having the sun in your first house. The short answer? Yes, she did. [Read more…]

Troubled Blood: Rowling Father Echoes

There are five crises in Rowling’s life that, because of the author’s description of her inspiration and writing process (‘The Lake and the Shed’) as beginning with subconscious resolution of her personal issues, serious readers of her work are obliged to acknowledge. The terminal illness and death of Anne Volant Rowling is the first crisis in sequence and power of influence and the break-up of The Presence’s first marriage and consequent years in the UK’s social safety net are a close second. Next come her break with her father Peter after Anne’s death and his re-marriage, the Potter-panic of international criticism from Christian groups about the magic in her Harry Potter books, and, most recently, the avalanche of criticism and de facto blacklisting she has endured in the past year consequent to her stand against transgender activist overreach in the United Kingdom.

There are other events that caused extensive media coverage or personal problems — I think of the Vander Ark plagiarism lawsuit, the Levesden Inquiry testimony, the Amanda Donaldson kerfuffle, her Skydome talk in Toronto, the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in London, and the Harvard Commencement speech — but the five crises that challenged her sufficiently that the echoes are evident in her work stand apart and above these. Only the Harvard talk, the only time she has spoken even indirectly to an audience about how to live one’s life, is important in this collection of what could be filed under ‘Rowling Media Moments.’

Today I want to review Rowling’s relationship history with her father Peter and its reflections in her work, the “stuff” given to her by her interior Lake to work out her daddy issues that was reworked in story. I ‘go there,’ not because any of it is news or new ground, but because it has not been updated with respect to the story events of Troubled Blood, in whose characters and testimony ‘Peter Rowling,’ archetypal Bad Dad, gets a fresh treatment.

Join me after the jump for a review of the family history, of Peter Rowling’s shadow in Rowling’s work, for the Troubled Blood reappearance, and why we should care about Rowling’s “exteriorization” in story of her interior conflicts with her father. [Read more…]

Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic Co-sponsors Breakthrough Research in Motor Neuron Disease.

In January, neuroscientists from the University of Edinburgh announced that they had identified, and more importantly, repaired a defect in cultured motoneurons from an inheritable form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This condition is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease here in the States, and is a sub-class of a larger family of conditions known as motoneuron (or motor neurone to the Brits) disease. What’s the Harry Potter connection?

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, UK Dementia Research Institute and Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic.

J.K. Rowling founded the clinic in 2013, in honor of her mother, Anne, who died of multiple sclerosis. She made another major gift in 2019. 

The neurons turned out to have defective mitochondria, the “powerhouse” of the cells, which shorted the axon, the all-important long fiber that carries electrical signals from the spinal cord to the muscle. But, when a virus was used to boost mitochondria, the axons were restored to their normal length. This opens the possibility of using drugs already available in clinical trials to treat this condition.

As a neuroscientist whose own dissertation work focused on a motor nucleus of particular interest to both motoneuron disease and sexual differentiation, I am delighted to see this research. Although JK Rowling has received criticism for her position on transgender issues, some of which is, in my opinion, well-deserved, she must be given credit for the great use she has made of her wealth. Research like this doesn’t happen without funding. ALS is currently a death sentence, with most patients dying within two years, and there are few treatments available. The benefits of this work cannot be understated.