First Look: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Warner Bros. Pictures released the first video of next year’s film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film, written by J.K. Rowling, is about the adventures of young Newt Scamander as he tries to find some of his missing “fantastic beasts” at large in New York City.

The Fantastic Beasts Announcement Trailer starts off with the voice of Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) saying the incantation lumos maxima twice, which harkens back (or forward, depending how you look at it) to the third Harry Potter film where Harry is practicing the same spell in his room at the Dursley’s.

Next we see Scamander’s future wife Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) in front of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) saying, “Yesterday a wizard entered New York with a case, a case full of magical creatures, and unfortunately some have escaped.” There is a shot of Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) staring outside from a room where the building’s side were blasted and heavily damaged.

Finally we see Scamander open a case slightly, hearing some bestial sounds, and closing it quickly before Goldstein asks him, “It was opened” to which he replied, “Just a smidge.” Next we hear a woman exclaiming, “Mr. Scamander” while Scamander, with a gentleman in tow with the case, points his wand and fires at an unknown person or perhaps fantastic beast.


Ravenclaw Reader

ravenclaw readerAttention all Harry Potter nerds, fans, and admirers! If you thought all the smart talk on Harry Potter was dying down all these years later, you’re in for a happy surprise. Our own John Patrick Pazdziora (Mr Pond) has been working hard with Micah Snell on Unlocking Press’s newest addition to its excellent books on Potter. I contributed one of the “rebuttal” chapters. Ravenclaw Reader is an excellent volume of brilliant essays. See links below for everything you need to know about the book, and get your copy!

Booklaunch home page (with free video, full endorsements, Amazon link)
Ravenclaw Reader‘s Amazon page
MuggleNet Academia:  Interview with Ravenclaw Reader editors and Prof Joshua Richards on St Andrews Potter Conference, book, free Snape lecture video, launch offer post on Ravenclaw Reader book launch

Rowling’s Potter play opens in 2016


JK Rowling has announced her Harry Potter stage play will open in London’s West End next year.
Called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it will tell the “untold part” of the boy wizard’s story, including the story of the lives of his murdered parents.
However, the author said on Twitter the play was “not a prequel”.
It will run at the Palace Theatre in the summer of 2016, with tickets on sale this autumn.

Thanks to Reyhan for this update.

I would love to see this, but as a reader, I’d love it far more in book form. What about you?

Has Harry Potter shaped Millennials’ political views?

In the com box of another post, longtime pub member Red Rocker brought this article to our attention. It’s a very interesting article on how Harry Potter has impacted Millennials’ political and social views, written by Anthony Gierzynski, professor in political science at the University of Vermont and author of Harry Potter and the Millennials.

Read the full article here.

Some excerpts:

I found empirical support for the idea that the Harry Potter series influenced the political values and perspectives of the generation that came of age with these books. Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture. As Harry Potter fans will have noted, these are major themes repeated throughout the series. These correlations remained significant even when applying more sophisticated statistical analyses—when controlling for, among other things, parental influence.


We’re often drawn to stories for reasons that may have nothing to do with our views: the stories’ popularity, attention given to them in the media, critical reviews, special effects, advertising, boredom, inadvertent exposure when we have little choice—the reasons go on. And once we’re immersed in the book, TV program, film or whatever, once we’ve come to identify with certain characters, we are, as communications scholars have demonstrated, likely to internalize the lessons of the narrative, and emulate the qualities of those with whom we identify.



In addition to Harry Potter, I also have preliminary results from two other recent studies. One, an experiment that found that exposure to different types of science fiction and fantasy villains affected attitudes about criminal justice. And another that found that exposure to Game of Thrones and House of Cards reduced the tendency to believe in a just world.

The article has several links within that are worth pursuing. Lots to discuss.

What do you think? And thanks, Red Rocker!

Rowling writes more Potter!

As some of you know, J.K. Rowling has been writing about the 2014 World Quidditch Cup at Pottermore through the pen of former Quidditch professional and now Daily Prophet sports writer Ginny Weasley Potter.

For the final match, however, we are treated to the Quick Quill of Rita Skeeter. Skeeter writes about former DA members, including the Trio and their spouses, attending the match. And as can be expected, she performs her usual hatchet job on all of them here. (The story was released on Tuesday, July 11).


About to turn 34, there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror’s black hair, but he continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old. The famous lightning scar has company: Potter is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone. Requests for information as to its provenance merely produced the usual response from the Ministry of Magic: ‘We do not comment on the top secret work of the Auror department, as we have told you no less than 514 times, Ms. Skeeter.’ So what are they hiding? Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem?


In the immediate aftermath of the battle Weasley, whose famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly, entered into employment with the Ministry of Magic alongside Potter, but left only two years later to co-manage the highly successful wizarding joke emporium Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Was he, as he stated at the time, ‘delighted to assist my brother George with a business I’ve always loved’? Or had he had his fill of standing in Potter’s shadow? Was the work of the Auror Department too much for a man who has admitted that the destruction of He Who Could Not Be Named’s Horcruxes ‘took its toll’ on him? He shows no obvious signs of mental illness from a distance, but the public is not allowed close enough to make a proper assessment. Is this suspicious?


Last of the ringleaders of Dumbledore’s Army is, of course, Luna Lovegood (now married to Rolf Scamander, swarthy grandson of celebrated Magizoologist Newt). Still delightfully eccentric, Luna has been sweeping around the VIP section in robes composed of the flags of all sixteen qualifying countries. Her twin sons are ‘at home with grandpa’. Is this a euphemism for ‘too disturbed to be seen in public’? Surely only the unkindest would suggest so.

But there is so much more joy to be found in Skeeter’s article. What does it say about me that I actually love reading Skeeter? I think she’s hilarious and a master at manipulative speculation.

That said, I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of her Quick Quill.

So what do you think? Does this only make you long for more Potter stories as it does me?



A Site Question

I’m wondering if regular visitors to the site have any indication of recent comments on the site.
I get a very different site experience depending on whether I’m signed in as a moderator or not.

What would help you, as a visitor to keep abreast of any conversation that’s happenning here?


RomCon 2014-A Short Review

Last weekend I attended RomCon 2014 down in Denver. RomCon is a conference for readers and writers in the Romance genre and its various sub-genres. There was a lot going on and a fair few people, but the conference has a very intimate feel with plenty of opportunities for meeting authors. It is a primarily fan driven conference, but they also sponsor RomCon University which provides various topics of interest to authors and aspiring writers.

You might ask, how did a Lutheran pastor end up at a romance conference? Several reasons. 1) My wife reads a lot of romance, primarily in the science fiction and paranormal genres, and her favorite author, S.E. Smith, was going to be at the conference. 2) The weekend before the conference my wife won two free registrations. Otherwise I was going to be left in the hotel room or sent off to the Colorado Rockies games; and 3) I read books, and sometimes I read romances, albeit primarily in the historical genre.

Continue reading

The Backstory of Fantasy Roleplaying

David Ewalt, the author of “Of Dice and Men:  The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the people who play it” delivers a lecture on the origins of Fantasy Roleplaying and of Dungeons & Dragons in particular.

It is very interesting and worth a look.

Please comment and share something of your own experience with D&D.