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Unfortunately, this last weekend, Leaky wasn’t able to attend the Harry Potter Celebration in Orlando. However, we do have marvelous Harry Potter fans who follow our site, and we invited them to share their experiences of the celebration.
Chelsea Kleven, a Senior Production Editor for a Central Florida newspaper, was the first to share her experience with us. The following review of the Harry Potter celebration is written by Chelsea Kleven. (Click to enlarge photos)
I had no expectations for the Harry Potter Celebration weekend. My friend Amy and I had heard about the Harry Potter Celebrations before, but had never been to one. We live an hour from Universal Studios and both have annual passes to the park, and this year, we decided to see what it was all about. We figured it would be over-crowded and impossible to do anything all day, but since we have been to the park and experienced this many times before, we didn’t mind.
Amy and I both work for a daily Central Florida newspaper. I’m a designer, and she has a design background but now works on special projects and social media. We are both HUGE newspaper nerds, which inspires our love for the Daily Prophet (even though it seems Daily Prophet is written by many crooked journalists in the books.)
We headed straight for Hogsmeade Village when we got to the park, though we normally go to Diagon Alley first (that way you can ride the train from King’s Cross to Hogwarts like you would at the start of a school year. We’ve given this a lot of thought.)
When we looked up the schedule for the Celebration events, we discovered there was a graphic design panel happening in about 45 minutes in Hogsmeade. Perfect! We had just enough time for a ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and run over to the panel.
For as big of a Harry Potter fan and design nerd as I am, I had absolutely no prior knowledge of Minalima, the graphic design duo behind the Harry Potter films. Their talk was short and sweet, but still awesome. I had no idea what being a graphic designer for a film was like.
They began with a short video showing clips of their work as seen in the films. They discussed how many people don’t realize how every paper, poster, package … everything!…has to be created by a graphic designer.
Minalima spent a large amount of time creating a realistic world for these characters to interact in, but often, their work is rarely seen in the final film. For example, they said they spent 7 months working on all of the elements for Fred and George’s shop, when it was only seen in the film for about a minute and 30 seconds.
They weren’t bitter about this at all though. They seemed thrilled to have been a part of the films, and lucky to help bring authenticity to the magical world. Another example of their hard work was how they designed all of Hermione’s books for Deathly Hallows. However, the books, too, were never even seen in the film. All they got was a sound of the books falling over in Hermione’s beaded bag.
They discussed how the parks were such a dream for them, because they were now able to show their work in a place where people were able to really stop and look at it. Park-goers could pick up boxes, look at advertisements on the walls of Diagon Alley, and really absorb the detail that went into everything.
The duo also discussed their favorite pieces to create, which were the Daily Prophet and The Marauders Map. The Daily Prophet is my absolute obsession, so I was busy snapping hundreds of pictures of all of the close-up images of the Daily Prophet and didn’t absorb much of what was said about it.
As far as the Marauders Map, they really reiterated how they wanted to pump the personality of the characters who created the map into their design. It wasn’t about their personal design aesthetic, it was about bringing authenticity to the object. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were crafty and intelligent, and they wanted the map to be a reflection of those qualities.
The map was drawn BY HAND based off of architectural maps that had been created for the set. The hand drawings were scanned in and developed into what you see on film. When the map was first created, there was a small mistake on it. They had included the Room of Requirement. Someone on the team realized that the room was not supposed to appear on the map, and went back through the whole process to take the room out.
After the graphic design panel, Amy and I headed over to the other park where the Harry Potter Expo was located. After chatting with some people at the design panel, we learned there was a wall covered in Daily Prophets at the expo and we had to check it out. We went first to Diagon Alley and had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, complete with a Dragon Scale beer, and (it is our tradition on every visit) we sat on the stoop of the Daily Prophet office and took a photo.
We didn’t have to wait very long to get into the expo, though it was pretty crowded. We caught a glimpse of people being sorted into houses by the sorting hat on the way in.
The expo wasn’t quite as large as we were expecting. There was a large stuffed Fluffy you could take photos with, and a large Fawkes perched from the ceiling. A giant Lego replica of Hogwarts and some other movie props were on display. A wall blank wall was available for fans to write “What Harry Potter means to you.”
There was a booth handing out posters of the cover of the illustrated Sorcerer’s Stone, and a place to take a Quidditch themed photo. At the Pottermore booth, there was a large map of the new wizarding schools around the world. [Click to enlarge photo]
Minalima had a booth set up as well, which was where the Daily Prophet wall was. Amy and I took about 394 photos in front of it. Mira Mina and Eduardo Lima were there signing prints they had for sale. They also had a spread of some of the movie props they had designed, such as a copy of Advanced Potion Making, a stack of Qibblers, and pamphlets on “When Muggles Attack.”
There was a cool display of school letters hanging from the ceiling and trailing on the floor, that was previously featured in their gallery exhibit last month. The graphic designer in me was overjoyed.
There was a studio tour at the expo as well, but the line was incredibly long so Amy and I decided to skip it. And it was lucky we did, because when we left we realized the cast Q&A panel had just begun nearby. We stood towards the back of the crowd, but we still could not believe we were actually seeing the cast answer questions. We had no expectations going into the day of even catching a glimpse of them, so it was an awesome surprise.
Overall the day was amazing. There had been a lot more to do and see over the whole weekend, but we were completely happy with the little bit we got to experience. Maybe next time we’ll try and see more of the events – I highly recommend making a visit!
Chelsea took video of the Q&A that took place in the early afternoon. This cast Q&A was not live streamed, exclusive for those at the celebration. A similar cast Q&A that night was made available on live stream. In this clip the actors talk about their fears and if they have conquered them. The topic of spiders led to asking Rupert to rap, but Matt came to Rupert’s rescue with his own spider story. Apparently Matt is more afraid of spiders than Rupert, and no he definitely has not overcome that fear.
During the Celebration of Harry Potter, many news sites got the opportunity to sit down for exclusive interviews with many of the film experts that were there. Blastr and other interviews there released some vital information about Newt Scamander’s wand in the up coming wizarding world films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“Bonus: In a group interview conducted separately with Harry Potter propmaster Pierre Bohanna, we learned Newt’s movie wand has lime wood, shell, bone and other elements to reflect his consideration of animals.”
How is this? EW released the first large set report from the new films last year, and told fans that Newt’s wand was not made out of any animal products, which begged the question of how it was made–the wand cores revealed in the Harry Potter series were Phoenix feather, dragon heart string, unicorn hair, Thestral tail hair, Kneazle whisker, and veela hair, all are considered “animal products.” Other known wand cores include coral and dittany stalk.
I think it is responsible to say that bone is considered an animal product, as all animals have bones. Being a zoologist, it was presumed that no animals were harmed or killed, or even died by natural causes, in the making of Newt’s wand. Is it possible for the prop to be made out of different materials than the cannon wand of the story? Most wands in real life are made out of synthetic material, so that doesn’t seem to make any sense.EW reported: “His wand, too, is deliberately simple and wooden.”
This year is Beatrix Potter's 150th birthday, and so it's fitting that she has been in the news. A long-lost story featuring a black cat will soon be published with illustrations by the delightful Quentin Blake. Can't wait!
Another reason to rejoice is a newly released picture book about Potter the animal lover written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Charlotte Voake. Hopkinson sets young Beatrix in Victorian London and introduces readers to her many animals. There are the rabbits she takes for walks, assorted birds, reptiles, amphibians, and hedgehogs. Hopkinson is also upfront about the misfortunes that befell some of the critters. These sad events are told in Potter's own words, from the many journals the naturalist kept. Despite the horrors, it's hard not to smile when reading Potter's entries. Here is her account of what happened to a bat left dozing in a wooden box:
The very next morning that horrid old jay, being left alone to bathe in a wash basin, opened the box and destroyed the poor creature. I fancy he found it ill-favored, but he pulled out its arms and legs in a disgusting fashion.
These sad anecdotes, though, are but mere appetizers to the main story--the guinea pig. As the title foreshadows, there will be no happy ending. Wanting to sketch a guinea pig and having none at hand, Beatrix borrows the squeaking rodent from her neighbor, a Miss Paget. And not just any guinea pig. She borrows Queen Elizabeth, a descendant from "a long line of distinguished guinea pigs." But when Beatrix is called away from her sketching to attend a dinner party, Queen Elizabeth devours a good deal of the art supplies, including paste, and that night succumbs to a case of extreme indigestion.
The next day Beatrix has no recourse but to tell Miss Paget what happened to her beloved guinea pig. Miss Paget does not take the news well, not even when Beatrix gives her a watercolor of her late pet.
Hopkinson's tongue-in-cheek recounting of the tale is similar to Potter's droll style in her journals. And Voake's soft watercolors evoke her illustrations. My one quibble with the book comes in the entertaining postscript. Hopkinson admits that she made up some parts to her story and changed others, including that Potter was actually twenty-six when she borrowed Queen Elizabeth and not a young girl as portrayed in the book. This strikes me as not playing fair with the reader and casts an entirely different light on the incident. You can forgive a child for being careless with another's pet; you judge an adult more harshly.
Still, all in all, this well-told story will entertain and inform young readers, many of whom no doubt have their own "unfortunate tales" regarding pets. (I know I do.)
Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson illustrated by Charlotte Voake Schwartz & Wade 44 pages Published: February, 2016
After Crazy Rhythms, The Feelies pretty much dropped off of the face of the planet. Their bassist left, and drummer Anton Fier left and eventually formed The Golden Palominos.
Meanwhile, Glen Mercer and Bill Million never stopped playing, and eventually picked up an new bassist, Brenda Sauter, and not one, but two percussionists: Stan Demenski & Dave Weckerman. Weirdly enough, the resultant album, 1986’s The Good Earth, featured less weird percussion than Crazy Rhythms, as Weckerman provided color as opposed to contrast.
Produced by Peter Buck, The Good Earth felt as pastoral as the cover — for the most part, Mercer and Million found a groove pretty early on in every song and just rode it throughout. For the most parts, they strummed their electric and acoustic guitars together and each song had just enough melodic difference to distinguish from the others.
“Slipping (Into Something)” is different. It starts slow and quiet, almost imperceptibly, and then builds measure by measure — Mercer and Million’s guitars playing off of each other — until it finds a groove.
But that groove lasts just long enough for Mercer to sing a verse, and then it all breaks down, and starts up again, back into the groove, and then breaks down again.
But this time, when it starts back up, it’s different: no words, and the groove just gets faster and faster and faster and faster, and now the guitars are both, er, shredding and the beat gets faster and faster and faster some more and the guitars get noiser and noiser, and eventually the whole thing just collapses and the song ends.
It also around this time that the Feelies appeared in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, — still one of the more schizophrenic films ever made — playing the band at Melanie Griffith’s high school reunion, which was one of the reasons I went and saw the film in the first place.
“Slipping (Into Something)” Performed Live in Athens, GA 1987
The Feelies performing David Bowie’s “Fame” in SOMETHING WILD
There's been a lot of tweeting and tumblring about the need for more diversity in comics. And now you can make comics more diverse! Here is a chance to actually support a project by African-American creators that deals frankly with racial issues from a non-white perspective. BLACK is a new kickstarter for a graphic novel written by Kwanza Osajyefo (aka Kwanza Johnson)and Tim Smith III with art by Jamal Igle with additional art by Khary Randolph. Former Vertigo editor Sarah Litt will oversee the production. The story is high concept: what if only black people could become superheroes? Let your mind wander over that.
I loved, loved, loved The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (his books are like no other books), and the cover of The Girl in the Red Coat reminded me of it. Interestingly, there seem two be two different covers. Which do you like better?
Nobrow Press’ 17 x 23 series highlights accomplished smaller works in a pleasing package that speaks to graphic novel consumers who might not seek out short comics stories. Two recent releases are particularly success in the way they take story forms of old and present them through a modern lens, making traditional lessons applicable to […]
Sci-fi and fantasy site Nerdist is teaming up with crowd-driven publishing platform Inkshares for the second year in a row for six book publishing contests.
This year Nerdist and Geek & Sundry are running these publishing contests over the next year in order to build out their imprint with new science fiction and fantasy works. Each contest will seek books with a specific theme. The theme of the first contest is “Space Opera”. Here are more details from the contest page:
The rules will be the same as previous contests. We’re looking for the top three books in terms of unique-reader pre-order counts within the specified time period. For this contest, that means any pre-order placed between February 1, 2016, and March 15, 2016. All three winners will be published by Inkshares even if they haven’t reached their pre-order goal. One (or more) will be selected by Nerdist or Geek & Sundry to be in their collection on Inkshares.
Call for submissions for the Flogometer, none in the queue. Get fresh eyes on your opening page and chapter or prologue. See submission instructions at the bottom of any Flogometer post.
Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, It seemed to me that it could be educational to take a hard look at their first pages. If you don’t know about BookBub, it’s a pretty nifty way to try to build interest in your work. The website is here.
I’m mostly sampling books that are offered for free. I’ve noticed that many of these folks use a prologue—I generally skip those books, but today I thought I’d try one. Following is the first page and a poll. Then my comments are after the fold along with the book cover, the author’s name, and a link so you can take a look for yourself if you wish. At Amazon you can click on the Read More feature to get more of the chapter if you’re interested. There’s a second poll concerning the need for an editor.
Should this author have hired an editor? Here’s the prologue from a book by Andy Straka.
Either homeboy had wigged out on us or forgotten his blue-faced, oyster shell Rolex. Better yet, rather than finger one of his own for murder, he had decided he preferred to perpetuate his still young life.
The snow could have been confetti the way it swirled in the glow from the streetlights and skittered across the hood of the unmarked. I blew on my frozen hands to stave off the numbness. Toronto, on the passenger side, nursed a tepid foam cup. We both stared down the street at the upper-floor windows of a darkened two-family, its sagging porch clashing badly with the well-tended look-alikes on either side. The block was out of our jurisdiction, off North Avenue in New Rochelle. Son of Sam territory from a decade before, a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood, tony section of Pelham a few hundred yards over the hill.
“It’s getting colder. You wanna call it a night?”
Jake Toronto looked more like a club bouncer than a detective. Short but linebacker broad, his ample shoulders shaped his turtleneck beneath an unbuttoned Knicks jacket. Narrow cheekbones looked out of proportion to the rest of him: a Roman nose, close-cropped black hair, and deep-set eyes. An aura of menace mixed with Old Spice seemed to surround him. He left you with the impression something boiled just beneath the surface with which you would not wish to contend.
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
The writing and voice in A Witness Above are strong, a good sign. The scene is set, and we know we’re dealing with cops on a mission. However . . . I found the first paragraph a little hard to parse. I had to read it a couple of times to understand that someone they had a meeting with hadn’t shown up. And, if this writer’d had me as an editor, he wouldn’t have spent all that narrative time describing his partner on the first page instead of getting on with the story. For me, that diversion was a warning sign that the writer hasn’t quite grasped the notion of a compelling first page. I passed.
Google has created a Doodle to celebrate Frederick Douglass’ 198th Birthday. He was a social reformer, abolitionist, orator and writer.
Here’s more from the Google Doodle webpage: “To help us commemorate Frederick Douglass’s legacy, the Gilder Lehman Institute curated an exhibit of photographs and ephemera that you can explore here. Through our partnership with Open Road Integrated Media, Google Play Books is offering a free download of Douglass’s seminal autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: an American Slave, which is available starting today, February 1, 2016.”
Best’s plan is to overcome this byzantine structure and scan and upload as much of the database as he can. This includes 700,000 files and 11,000,000 pages. He will then publish these documents for free online and make them searchable, and available in PDF and Kindle formats.
The cover even LOOKS like a Libba Bray book...Summary: England in the Edwardian era…Besides bringing to mind a whole slew of fabulous Edward Gorey drawings, it was a time in which society was still stumbling out from under the long shadow of Queen... Read the rest of this post
Before Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham trilogy proved how top tier comic book properties could be perfectly adapted in the world of blockbuster video games; Electronic Arts was setting up to once again release a tie-in Batman game alongside Christopher Nolan’s second Bat film, The Dark Knight in 2008 . It would not have been their first Batman endeavor […]
In the piece, Jacob Heilbrunn states that “It’s precisely Trump’s lubricity that is allowing him to transcend the GOP’s parochial ideological battles.” And I actually did think, “is that a made up word?” Nope. It’s in the dictionary! Merriam Webster defines the term as “the property or state of being lubricious; also the capacity for reducing friction.”
Obviously the context basically gives away the definition. It’s not like I was shocked by reading the actual textbook definition. Rather, at first glance, I figured this was some analyst-made-up word like the football commentators who continually talk about “escapability.” It was nice to know that yes, this is indeed a legitimate word.
[By the way, absolutely zero politically — positive or negative — about this article is intended towards Trump himself. Take your political kvetching to the Huffington Post or somewhere.]
The publication party for The Queen of the Night, the magnificent second novel by my dear friend Alexander Chee, is tomorrow night at McNally Jackson. I was stunned and so happy when he asked me to discuss the book with him there.
Alex and I became friends before I read his first book. An instant easy understanding was possible between us that might have been impossible if I’d encountered Edinburgh — which is wonderful and true and utterly its own thing — before I knew him. Over the years he has become a kind of muse for me, as well as an advisor, though I don’t think I ever put it to myself quite that until I just typed the words just now.
Over at Strange Horizons, I review the second and third books in Ayize Jama-Everett's Liminal People series. This was one of those cases where a book comes to you just when you need it the most. As they've slowly taken over popular culture, I've found myself growing increasingly impatient with superhero stories, and with how the ones that show up on our screens choose to handle politics (see,
I have managed for two entire weeks to not add a book to my library requests. I would have made it past today too but the book gods sent me a message and I am not one to mess around when they are trying to get my attention.
It seems their message has a duel intent, good books and for me to come to terms with squirrels.
The first message came last week with an article at the Guardian of top 10 squirrels in literature. Who knew there were so many books with squirrels in them? While the description of the squirrel in Nabokov’s Pnin sounded amusing, the demon squirrel in Small Game by John Blades seemed more realistic. I saved the list because, you know, it could be amusing to read a few of the books at some point in time.
I went on my merry way until today when it came to my attention that The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie contains an “an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel.” I checked my library and of course they have it and of course there is a line for it. I hesitated for about a second before I put myself on the list. I am number 82 so it will arrive sooner that I want it to but not as soon as I expect.
While I was thinking of squirrels I checked to see if there was another volume of Squirrel Girl and there is! In volume 2 she faces off against Ratatoskr, the Norse god of squirrels! So of course I had to request that too! I am number 26 in line for it.
In the meantime other books in my library queue are moving up faster than I expected but it’s all cool. I finished Fates and Furies and should have something to say about it tomorrow. I am working my way through Sorcerer to the Crown and Between the World and Me is moving right along as well. That means I will be ready for the squirrels whenever they should arrive! And, I have followed the directive of the book gods so all will be well.