Category Archives: Around the Common Room

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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Playing- Just b’cos

Which Potter character would you/ do you like to dress up as most?

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One of the things I loved doing from when i was a young teen was making costumes and finding excuses to wear them.  It started from when I became interested in role-playing games.  I’d already had an interest in sci-fi from my childhood.  I usually made warrior-type costumes.  I’m doing what I can to get my kids going this way.  I just made this breastplate for my almost three year old son…

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He cried until I took it off…

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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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Around the Common Room: February 1, 2013

There’s not a lot of universe-changing news this week, but there is the announcement that J.J. Abrams is set to direct the next Star Wars movie. Abrams is known for his work on Star Trek, which is a weird qualification for a Star Wars director, and Lost, which is–by all report at the Pub here–a superb one. According to the linked article, Michael Arndt, writer of Toy Story 3, is set to write the screenplay, which is another hopeful sign. Might the next Star Wars be a worthy heir to the legacy of A New Hope?

io9 has some of Abrams’ thoughts on the job, and GeekTyrant has embedded a video in which Abrams talks about Star Wars as good storytelling. Related articles are available at MTV.com and Deadline Hollywood.

In slightly less directly related articles: Turks get in a tiff over a ‘Jabba’s Palace’ Lego toy; apparently they think it looks too much like the Hagia Sophia. io9’s Rand Simberg questions the original cost estimate for building a Death Star, and Charlie Jane Anders highlights a set of R2D2 high heels. The TOMS posted in the comments are likewise adorable.

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Around the Common Room: January 25, 2013

Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:

Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.

Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.

In other news and commentary:

Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.

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Around the Common Room: January 18, 2013

It’s been a quiet week here at The Hog’s Head, and apparently everywhere else, too–but there are a couple of hefty news stories. First, Christopher Tolkien gave an interview in which the history of his relationship to his father’s work is covered, as are his feelings about the Peter Jackson adaptations. Sample from the latter:

“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

Second, the White House has responded to a petition to create a Death Star. Despite their rejection of the proposal, they’re apparently gung ho on getting to space. This has provoked some presumably fake diplomatic responses from long-dead Star Wars characters.

Also unfortunately for Star Wars fans, a bunch of wet-blanket physicists have determined that the Millenium Falcon’s jump to hyperspace wouldn’t look anything like what the movies show in Han Solo’s windshield. They’re probably correct, but whatever. They also have difficulties with Batman and James and the Giant Peach.

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Around the Common Room: January 11, 2013

Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been chosen to write one of eleven new Doctor Who short books, and the big speculation of the week is that J.K. Rowling may be chosen to write another. Colfer’s much-revered name was the first to be released; other news will hopefully be coming soon.

A series longer in the making than Harry Potter released its finale on the eighth of January: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic began with The Eye of the World in 1990 and now, after Jordan’s death in 2007, has been completed (from Jordan’s notes) by Brandon Sanderson with A Memory of Light. Jordan’s story is known for worldbuilding almost unrivaled in its depth and range, a cast of characters large enough to fill a decent-sized small town, a high page count–fourteen books averaging over 800 pages apiece, a fantastic magic system, a handful of repetitive descriptors, and–to its loyal fans–a great deal of awesomeness. One of those loyal fans happens to be writing this blog post, and can hardly stand the wait for her copy to come in the mail.

Brandon Sanderson’s release post offers some final details: for instance, that Jordan himself wrote the ending before he died, and why the ebook release has been delayed. Also, Tor art director Irene Gallo toured the bindery as the book was in production, and posted a long set of pictures from the process.

There are rumors–again, only rumors, but still–that Universal may be getting the rights to create a Middle-Earth theme park. It seems likely that a satisfactory recipe for lembas will be as difficult to come up with as a satisfactory recipe for butterbeer.

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