All posts by cbiondi

The Scariest Harry Potter Book Is . . . The Half-Blood Prince

pensieveWith the penultimate novel in the saga—Half-Blood Prince—we know that things must become much worse before they can become better and reach resolution in the seventh and last novel.  We should thus expect that it will be chilling in unmatched fashion, and I shall argue that it’s the scariest of them all!  Let’s take an eerie walk through the dark corners of Half-Blood Prince, to places seemingly devoid of light or hope . . . .

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NY Comic Con 2013

The exhibition/booth floor was packed at NY Comic Con 2013
The exhibition/booth floor was packed at NY Comic Con 2013

This past weekend (10/10-10/13) was the eighth annual NY Comic Con, where tens of thousands of fans gathered each day (for an estimated total of 120,000 overall) at the spacious yet ever-crowded Jacob Javits Center in midtown Manhattan to attend panels, fun activity sessions, and autographing booths, and to engage in cosplay while purchasing all manner of geekware and collectibles.

I was in attendance on Friday as Princess Leia (from the original Star Wars film) and on Saturday as Hermione Granger.  Much fun was had by all! Continue reading

Love Is in the Air . . .

Snoopy ValentineLiterally!  Throughout Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley have been juxtaposed—both in the air of the Quidditch field and on the ground—as Harry’s possible love interests: 

“Yeah,” said Ron slowly, savoring the words, “we won.  Did you see the look on Chang’s face when Ginny got the Snitch right out from under her nose?” (OotP, chap. 31, p. 704)

Boy, did Ginny ever get “the Snitch right out from under” Cho’s nose!  As we see yet again, when “Ginny play[s] Seeker against Cho” in Half-Blood Prince and Gryffindor beats Ravenclaw 450 points to 140, the other Snitch that Ginny was “Seeking” enters the Gryffindor Common Room and stumbles upon the big celebration of the Quidditch win:

“Harry looked around; there was Ginny running toward him; she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him.  And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her.” (HBP, chap. 24, pp. 532-33)

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What’s in Your Stocking?

It’s only when Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts that he knows for the first time in his memory the joys of Christmas, including the practice of receiving (and giving) gifts.  When Harry expresses surprise at finding a pile of presents at the foot of his bed on Christmas morning, Ron says, “What did you expect, turnips?” (SS ch. 12, p. 200).  Well, having lived with the Dursleys . . . yes! 

For the most part, Harry receives the same sorts of gifts each year from the usual caring and kind suspects: homemade sweaters and food from Mrs. Weasley, books and candy from Hermione, Quidditch stuff and candy from Ron, etc.

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You’re Invited to . . . a Deathday Party?

Halloween marks the occasion of the death of Nearly Headless Nick (a.k.a. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington), which was caused by having been “hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe” (CoS p. 123).

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We find out in Chapter 12 of Chamber of Secrets that October 31, 1992 is Nick’s five hundredth deathday. Hoping that Harry will attest to Nick’s being impressively frightening so that he might be allowed to join the Headless Hunt, Nick invites Harry and his friends to his Deathday Party. Ron skeptically asks a good question: “Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?” And Hermione characteristically looks forward to what she can learn from the experience: “A deathday party? . . . I bet there aren’t many living people who can say they’ve been to one of those—it’ll be fascinating!” (CoS p. 130).

With Hermione’s inquisitive spirit, let’s have a go at wrestling with Ron’s question. Is there something more going on here than a chillingly gothic setting for the horrors to be unleashed by the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets?

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House-Elves, Hogwarts, and Friendship

The next article in the June 2012 Harry Potter and Philosophy collection is “House-Elves, Hogwarts, and Friendship: Casting Away the Institutions which Made Voldemort’s Rise Possible,” written by Susan Peppers-Bates and Joshua Rust (both philosophy professors at Stetson University, FL). 

This essay begins the collection’s journey toward an exploration of some of the darker themes present in the Harry Potter series (though with the ray of hope that is friendship!).  For an abstract of their article, please read below the jump.  As always, questions and comments on the full article and its topic are welcome in the comments box below.

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Heroic Hermione and the Love of Learning

The next article in the Harry Potter and Philosophy collection is by Patrick Shade (Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rhodes College, TN ), and is entitled “Heroic Hermione: Celebrating the Love of Learning.”   As the title suggests, the spotlight here is on Hermione Granger.  Gather ’round all ye bookworms, because Prof. Shade does justice to Hermione’s dedication to reading and study.

Here’s an abstract of his article (below the jump).

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Mr. Pond on The Casual Vacancy Tonight

For those of you who’ve been hoping for more discussion of J. K. Rowling’s new book, you’re in luck!  The Hog’s Head’s very own Mr. Pond (a.k.a. John Patrick Pazdziora) will be appearing tonight as a participant in a round-table discussion on The Casual Vacancy for STV.  It’ll show on Scotland Tonight and be broadcast at 22:30 BST (London time), viewable online at the time and probably for a while after.  Here is a link to STV’s online t.v. guide.

So tune in, turn it up, and leave your comments and questions here!