Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One Local Issue I Care About is...

Education! I think there are a lot of problems with the Public School System, even in the fairly liberal city of  Minneapolis

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Chosen One Exposed- Marriage in Shambles? The Potter Family is Falling Apart!

    The Boy Who Lived was spotted in Diagon Alley earlier this week, sporting a nasty black eye, among other injuries. It seems to me incredibly unlikely that Harry Potter, the man who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named as a child, would suffer these injuries in the course of ordinary Auror work. The hero of the Wizarding world has always worked very hard to maintain his public image- which apparently includes wearing those ridiculous glasses well into his thirties- and would in all likelihood go to great lengths to avoid damage to his recognizable face. As the Ministry has on no uncertain terms declined on four separate occasions to comment on what official assignments may be to blame for the unsightly lesions on the face of our country's hero, one can only assume that these mysterious injuries have another source- and if you read the signs right, the answer is clear. Ginny Potter (formerly Ginny Weasley) has been proven time and time again to be violent, delusional, and short-tempered. The former quidditch player is rumoured to have a temper to match the fiery red hair so common to her bloodline, a rumour which many of her former classmates have attested. During her time at Hogwarts, she was infamous for her bat-bogey hexes, and scored highly on any OWLs for classes that focused on offensive or defensive spellwork. This success can be attributed primarily to the secret war organization known and Dumbledore's Army. (Other former members include her brothers Ron, George, and Fred (deceased) Weasley, Hogwarts Herbology Professor Neville Longbottom, and renowned naturalist Luna "Looney" Lovegood, and was originally led by the Boy WHo Lived himself. Does he now regrets providing his wife with the skills to abuse him? Or is his emotional state too damaged to make the connection?) If the escapades of her school days wasn't enough evidence, regular readers may remember that two summers ago, she jinxed Daily Prophet Correspondent Rita Skeeter during coverage of the Quidditch World Cup.
    Whether Ginny has actually begun taking her formidable temper out on her husband or not, it is clear that there is a lot of stress in the Potter household. Just last weekend, the two youngest Potter children reportedly stayed for several days at the home of their uncle George Weasley, owner of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, and his wife, the ex-girlfriend of his dead twin brother. Has the Potters' fighting escalated to the point where a silencing charm is no longer enough to protect the innocence of their young children? Can Harry Potter, who was himself an orphan- unloved and abused by his muggle relatives- and Ginny Weasley, the youngest of --- children, with a workaholic father and an overworked mother, really be truested to raise children?
    Even James Sirius, the eldest son of the Chosen One, doesn't seem to have escaped the unhealthy influence of his family. Last September, he was sorted into Gryffindor House, the alma mater of both of his parents, as well as all of his mother's siblings, surviving and deceased. Was the pressure to follow in his father's footsteps too much for him? It is rumored that Harry Potter influenced his own Sorting- could young James have been coerced into doing the same?
    But the Potters are not alone in their relationship troubles- it seems that a certain Mrs. Hermione Weasley recently took a week-long trip to attend the wedding of her "friend" and former boyfriend, the Bulgarian Quidditch star Victor Krum. Is Ron Weasley no longer enough to satisfy Miss Granger? She has always had a taste for famous men- Before she attended the Triwizard Tournament Yule Ball with Mr. Krum in 1994, she was rumored to be dating Harry Potter. Perhaps the man who was merely a friend of the Boy Who Lived is not quite up to her standards?
    Why is it that the Boy Who Lived and his family can't seem to let go of fame? While their peers have moved on since the War, taking up teaching posts, starting businesses, or seeking ministry employment, it would seem that the Potters thrive on danger. Perhaps the Chosen One wishes for another Dark Lord, so that he can be called back into the spotlight. In the meantime, they will just have to make do with creating their own drama, and we at the Daily Prophet will simply have to do our best to ignore their constant pleas for attention.

-From the Daily Prophet offices



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Noma Dumezweni cast as Hermione in "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

On December 20th, the casting was announced for the play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", which premieres this summer in London. The Cursed Child is based on a new original story by J.K. Rowling herself. Though the story has not yet been released to the public, the play's script will be published in book form on July 31st- a date which Potter fans will recognize as the birthday of both Harry Potter and his creator. will continue the story of the Golden Trio as adults, focusing on the middle child of the Boy Who Lived- Albus Severus Potter, whom we met briefly in the Deathly Hallows epilogue.

While J.K. Rowling did not write the script for the play, this has in no way detracted from the enthusiasm regarding this new insight to an entire generation of Potters which was only touched on in the series'  final chapter. Many fans are treating "The Cursed Child" as the equivalent to the long-hoped for eighth Potter novel.

There is, however, one thing that has caused some stir in the Potter fandom.

Hermione Granger. She is the brightest witch of her age, a muggleborn with frizzy hair and large front teeth (despite both her parents' being dentists). The most practical of the Trio, she's saved their lives on countless occasions through her quick thinking, magical prowess, and tendency to memorize her school course books. And she looks like this:
Well, according to the Warner Brothers films. Other fans imagined her a little bit differently.
Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Fans have been "race-bending" Harry Potter characters- with Hermione being the most popular choice- for years, and the casting of a black woman to play the older Hermione in the Cursed Child was the realization of something many fans had only dreamed of. Although people who create fan art or write fan fiction often face criticism for changing the race or sexuality of their borrowed characters- something that is done quite frequently, as there is rarely enough canon representation of POC and LGBT+ characters- any claims that Hermione Granger can only be interpreted as white were shut down by JK Rowling herself with this tweet:
This twitter conversation was prompted by the aforementioned casting announcement for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. In the play, a black actress, Noma Dumezweni, will portray the adult Hermione Granger, something which has sparked a lot of conflict between Potter fans on social media.
There have been many arguments in the last two months about this decision. Many focus around whether Hermione is white in the books- based on cover art depicting her as such- with fans questioning whether or not this means she has to be white in every interpretation of the character. Others say that as Hermione's race is never explicitly stated in the series, Rowling left the subject open for interpretation, to allow readers to more easily connect with the character, or perhaps she herself imagined a non-white Hermione from the beginning.
Many people who call themselves fans of the franchise (who also, apparently, don't understand how movie adaptations work) seem to be in support of the Cursed Child casting, but are using this as an opportunity to attack the author, "calling out" Rowling for not casting a black actress to play Hermione in the films. They claim that the author is only taking advantage of this opportunity to make herself look better, since the casting of Emma Watson in the Warner Brothers films "proves" that JKR visualizes Hermione as white. Others have taken a different side to the issue, arguing that Hermione should not be black at all, because previous casting directors and book illustrators have not interpreted her that way. While it is clear that the artistic vision of the directors of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone included Emma Watson as Hermione, in the books themselves there is very little racial description of Hermione- or most of the other characters. In fact, one of the rare moments in which the skin tone of a character is mentioned is in the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry spots Ron and Hermione in Diagon Alley, and describes the former as looking "very freckled", and the latter as "very brown". Interesting.

In any case, whether Hermione is canonically white, black, or if this was intentionally left to reader interpretation, has no bearing on the cast for Cursed Child. As with the films, Rowling did not make the casting decisions. Emma Watson may have been the artistic vision the directors on Potter had for Hermione- Noma Demezweni is another, that of a different directing team, for a different adaptation. The great thing about books is, they are open for interpretation. And when there is no direct textual evidence to support either white or black Hermione- and when the author supports both- nobody really has a right to judge either.

-From the restaurant at the end of the universe


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

6 Harry Potter Fan Creations Every Potterhead Should See

1. A Very Potter Musical
This Team Starkid production stars Darren Criss (Harry Potter), Joey Richter (Ron Weasley), Bonnie Gruesen (Hermione Granger), Lauren Lopez (Draco Malfoy), Joe Walker (Voldemort), and many others in a two and a half hour musical parody of the Harry Potter franchise, particularly books 1, 3, and 7. It's a staple for any Harry Potter fan who wants to poke a bit of fun at the series with a cast that promises never to take itself too seriously. Team Starkid (originally Starkid Potter) has also created several other parody musicals, including Twisted: the Untold Story of a Royal Vizier (a Wicked-style take on Disney's Aladdin) Holy Musical, B@man!, and two other Harry Potter themed musicals. A Very Potter Musical has over 8 million views on youtube, and has even been praised by Tom Felton (Who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the original film franchise)

tumblr (originally AVPM)

2. All of Severus Snape's Important Scenes in Chronological Order
Whether you love him or hate him, most people can agree that the potions master has a fascinating and complex backstory. While there were several significant memory scenes that did not make it into the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and so could not be included in the video, kcawesome13's project will give you a much deeper understanding of the character of Severus Snape. (And possible make you feel feelings. Sorry.)

3. Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise
Potter Puppet Pals is a puppet parody of Harry Potter created and voiced by Neil Cicierega. While the (quite catchy) Mysterious Ticking Noise is arguably the most well known Puppet Pals video, there are 19 total videos on the channel, which does not include the series reboot on Neil Cicierega's personal account, or the original animated episodes. My personal favorite is Snape's Diary.
tumblr (originally Snape's Diary)

4. A Very Potter Sequel
The second Potter musical by Starkid. The sequel to A Very Potter Musical features not only the returning Golden Trio, Dumbledore, Snape, Malfoy, and the rest, but Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and even Professor Umbridge.

tumblr (originally Starkid)

5. The Marauders (Parlé Productions)
Parlé Productions is a group of UK cosplayers who create parody sketches and music videos on their YouTube channel. Their Marauders series is only four episodes long, but there are 19 total Marauders-related videos, including music videos, bloopers, character videos, and shorter sketches. Similar to AVPM and AVPS, this series makes little to no effort to follow canon, which only makes it funnier. The group has made many fandom-based videos, including the 33-video series "Some Assembly Required", featuring characters from Marvel's Avengers, and other parody videos based on  Welcome to Night Vale, the X-men, Hannibal, various anime, and even Disney.

(And it's amazing.)

tumblr (originally Youtube)
6. Harry and the Potters
Joe and Paul DeGeorge founded the genre of Wizard Rock with this band, debuting in 2002 at a family barbecue. In 2003, they released their first, self-titled, album, featuring songs like Save Ginny Weasley, Follow the Spiders, and My Teacher is a Werewolf. The brothers both perform as the character Harry Potter, and like many of the other things on this list, part of the band's appeal is that they often use their lyrics to make fun of the books, while still being completely dedicated to the fandom. They also use their popularity within the Harry Potter community to raise awareness of problems in the muggle world, and helped to found the Harry Potter Alliance charity.
Harry and the Potters at Nerdcon 2015 in Minneapolis (source)

-From the city of War Drobe in the land of Spare Oom


Team Starkid: 
Potter Puppet Pals:
Parlé Productions:
Harry and the Potters: 
Severus Snape in Chronological Order:

I think that the first and most important choice that any writer makes is what to write about! As anyone who's ever spoken to me for any amount of time will be able to tell you, I am an avid Harry Potter fan. Because seven books, eight movies, and a theme park is nowhere near enough Potter for me, I love to share any interesting HP trivia, fan videos, UPCOMING MOVIE trailers, or (well-written) fanfiction that I find with my friends. Although it wasn't entirely my choice, I also really enjoyed using the listicle format. It made my writing a lot more organized and (I hope) fun to read, than it would have been if my post had all been one giant, fangirling block of text. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Media Consumption Reflection

I think most teenagers have heard pretty much everything there is to hear on the topic of how cell phones, Facebook, and practically any form of media beyond newspapers is what's wrong with "kids these days". While I'll admit that many teenagers, including myself, often spend a lot of time using these kinds of media, I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing. I wasn't surprised to find in doing my media consumption log that I spend a significant portion of my time on my phone. I am aware that the time I spend throughout the day scrolling through tumblr, reading fanfiction, or following trails of buzzfeed links to the darkest corners of the internet, adds up. While it is true that this usage sometimes happens in lieu of homework, I don't believe that simply because it aids me and countless other teenagers in our procrastination, that the internet is somehow inherently bad. (Besides, as someone with ADHD, I would be able to find other ways to put off my work. Reading, reorganizing my bookshelf, staring at a wall...
from tumblr
...Yeah. The internet is definitely not to blame here.) On the contrary, I would say that a lot of the media most teenagers consume on a daily basis is to an extent educational. While watching old TV shows on YouTube until 1 am on a school night (something I did with astonishing regularity in middle school) may not have been the best use of time, there are a lot of things to be learned on the internet. If you follow the right people, you'll learn more on social media about things like social justice issues and politics than you're ever going to learn in high school. I think these kind of uses for media consumption are incredibly valuable, even if they take place on social networking platforms like Facebook or tumblr. I think this was a worthwhile assignment, because it forced me to be at least somewhat more aware of how I spend my time, even if I was somewhat prepared for the results. I also think it was a good assignment in that the goal was not to shame us for using certain kinds of media, but to get us to look more closely at what we use and think more deeply about our personal media consumption as well as media usage in general.

-From a galaxy far far away

Monday, February 1, 2016

Profile Update/Test Post

I have no idea what this is going to look like, and this will be useful information to have for my first real post.
Also, I finished updating my profile, specifically the "Favorite Books" section. If my math is right, this includes 123 books. There are only 60 items actually listed, because some of them are only the name or first book of a series. The reason I'm not quite certain of my math is because sometimes I intentionally only included one book of the series, or I was unsure of how many books were in a series or how many of them I had read. But yeah, there's a lot of books there. If you're looking for anything new to read...

-From under the bed