I’m cheating on my blog with someone bigger.

I’ve recently become a writer for FanSided, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I signed on to write about Game of Thrones, which means I’ll basically be doing much of the same stuff I’ve been doing over here, but letting them edit and format it to their specifications and post it on their site.

So far what I’ve written for them is:

Knowledge is power, so what don’t they know? — I give an overview of the end of Season 5, in terms of various characters lacking valuable information.

Monday night, the EOD posted a link on the Slack channel (I assure you, this all makes sense) and asked for someone to write something on it. I stepped up. Seems I may also, occasionally, write about Harry Potter ish for FanSided.

Alan Rickman and the meaning of ‘always’. — someone changed my headline to something with a misspelling. There are worse problems to have.

Later that night, the same editor posted another link and asked me to write something on it. I was sitting there thinking, “YOU’RE ASKING ME, SPECIFICALLY, TO WRITE SOMETHING ON JAIME LANNISTER IN SEASON 6? HAVE I FINALLY FOUND MY PEOPLE?” I think it was more because I was already present and available, rather than because of my brilliant analytical skills, but sure, I stepped up.

HBO debuts brief Game of Thrones Season 6 footage — again, not my choice of headline. (My idea of a headline was: “What is Jaime Lannister doing on that horse?” I guess it sounds too much like a disapproving mother with her hands on her hips.) The story is basically: look! Jaime’s working with the Tyrells! I may have leaned on prior knowledge of filming leaks for this insight, but seriously, it’s all there in the video. It’s our first HBO-sanctioned image of Jaime in S6!

This one here is where I’ve really pulled out the stops: I analyzed Melisandre’s actions and came up with an explanation. This is possibly the most sympathetic to Stannis that I’ve ever been. In case anyone’s wondering: I haven’t changed my mind about him being dead. Oh, he is dead as Ned Stark, but the revelation is basically that he was victimized, rather than supported, by Melisandre’s guidance. The editor made my piece look super-pretty and treated it like a big story that’s worthy of attention, and he changed some of my wording in the process. That’s his prerogative as an editor, but I still prefer my version of the first paragraph, so I’ll use it here. There is no universe in which I will apologize for referring to Cersei’s children as “inbred bastards.” My ideas, however, are kept very much intact in the FanSided version.

When the Red Priestess Melisandre of Asshai first began serving Lord Stannis Baratheon of Dragonstone, she surely believed that he was Azor Ahai, destined to become King of Westeros and save the world. As the next-oldest brother of the recently deceased King Robert Baratheon, and with the understanding that his late brother’s putative children were really inbred bastards, Stannis had the best claim to the Iron Throne and was easy enough to convince. Melisandre gained his trust, converted his wife Selyse Florent to the faith of the Lord of Light, and became one of his closest advisors, in competition with Ser Davos Seaworth. It was with the understanding of Stannis as savior that Melisandre used her magical skills to help him kill his younger brother and rival for the Iron Throne, Renly Baratheon. It was with Melisandre’s guidance that Stannis continued his campaign to take the Iron Throne, culminating in the failed siege of King’s Landing.

To see the rest, go read the story: Making sense of Melisandre.

In Which I Talk About Black Hermione

There’s a play in the works about Harry Potter & Co. as adults, and we’ve recently seen the casting for the main roles:

Jamie Parker, Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley will lead the cast as Harry, Hermione and Ron when Cursed Child opens in London’s west end next summer.

J.K. Rowling told Pottermore: ‘I’m so excited with the choice of casting for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I can’t wait to see Jamie, Noma and Paul bring the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron to life on stage next summer.’

No one seems to have anything to say about Jamie Parker or Paul Thornley (actually there’s a little bit of chatter regarding Thornley as Ron Weasley, but I won’t deal with that here), but there’s been a predictably high volume of opinion-sharing about Noma Dumezweni playing Hermione.

I say “predictably high volume” because Ms. Dumezweni is a black lady from Swaziland, and there are a lot of people who think Hermione Granger should not be cast with a black actress. JKR disagrees. JKR seems to think it’s totally fine for Ms. Dumezweni to play Hermione.

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Yeah, I’d see that.

Folks, I would totally stand in line and pay for a ticket to see a West End show about the early life of Harry Potter. It might even be a good excuse to save up for another trip to London.

Moreover, how much fun would it be to write that play? Those playwrights get to write fan fiction about wee Harry, and they get to consult with JKR while they do it. That is the perfect life, right there.

Harry Potter Meets the Beethoven Fallacy

This came up on Pinterest last night.

As the poster points out, it’s a lot less offensive than the pictures of mangled fetuses the womb-control crowd often carries around, so I give credit where credit is due.

However, as one commenter says, if Voldemort had been aborted, the Weasleys would still have Fred. In fact, if Tom Marvolo Riddle had never been born, the Wizarding world would have been spared a huge amount of death and misery and Harry Potter would have grown up with his parents.


“Make more babies! But don’t let them read Harry Potter!”

What in the shit is this?

A library in Columbia, SC has been showing the Harry Potter movies this month. This has drawn some protests, I’d like to say from the usual suspects, but these folks are actually…special.

Asking supporters to call and email Lexington County Council members demanding they put an end to the Witch-a-thon and decrease the library’s funding, Columbia Christians for Life indicated that any council member who disagrees should be voted out of office. The group backed up their demands and proved God’s apparent dislike for the Potter series by including several Bible verses from Deuteronomy and other Old Testament books:

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire (which, in the Harry Potter series, could be accomplished by a simple shield charm), or that useth divination (one of Harry’s least favorite classes at Hogwarts), or an observer of times (sounds like Hermione’s time-turner), or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer (such as Gilderoy Lockhart), or a consulter with familiar spirits (hopefully fire whiskey), or a wizard, or a necromancer.”

Something tells me the general voting populace is not going to share their priorities.

What I wonder is how Columbia Christians for Life, which you can tell by the name is an anti-abortion group, got so interested in protesting Harry Potter movies. As Ashley Miller shows us, their website is covered in spittle-flecked pronouncements about how abortion is sending America to Hell in a handbasket. (I’m not even exaggerating.) Harry Potter doesn’t say anything about abortion. If anything, you’d think the forced-birth set would appreciate the fact that Harry’s favorite family are the Weasleys, who seem to be in the camp of “babies are awesome so let’s have lots of them.”

I guess it makes sense if they view fertility less as building families and more as making lots of little Warriors for Christ, which, based on their website, appears to be their angle. They want you to make more babies, but don’t show them anything as left-leaning as Harry Potter, which has a nuanced view of authority figures and shows women doing interesting things with their lives. Nothing but Left Behind books for Columbia Christians for Life kiddies.

I’ll know I’ve made it when library systems start banning my books. If Columbia Christians for Boring Lives think Harry Potter is offensive, I’ll introduce them to Charlinder. Wait until you hear his thoughts on the Immaculate Conception. We won’t even get started on Gentiola.

I’ve seen some wacky theories in Harry Potter fandom, but this?

Via Pharyngula, we learn from Nick Squires of the Telegraph that yoga is Satanic and the Harry Potter series is dangerous, according to the priest who has made a career out of finding “evil spirits” in people who need to be “cleansed” through painful, traumatizing rituals.

“In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” said the priest, who in 1986 was appointed the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.

And how did Father Gabriele Amorth form this theory of the physics of magic as shown in Harry Potter, you might ask?

“Satan is always hidden and what he most wants is for us not to believe in his existence. He studies every one of us and our tendencies towards good and evil, and then he offers temptations.”

He knows that extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses are the literary guise of Satan, because Satan is always hidden and wants us to believe he doesn’t exist.

In all the years I spent hanging out in Harry Potter fandom—and they were some great years!—I learned a lot of pretty far-fetched theories based more on what wasn’t in the books than on anything that was, but this one here? If this showed up in a fanfic, I think the “Hermione drugged Harry with a Love Potion to make him fall for Ginny” advocates would say, “Whoa, Padre. Step away from the shrooms.”

A reasonable person might see absolutely no parallel between Harry Potter and yoga, but Satan lurks in both, so I guess they must be condemned together.

In 1999, six years before he succeeded John Paul II as Pope, [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] issued a document which warned Roman Catholics of the dangers of yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other ‘eastern’ practises.

They could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer, the document said.

Yoga poses could create a feeling of well-being in the body but it was erroneous to confuse that with “the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit,” the document said.

Okay. I guess you can exercise, or you can pray, but you can’t do both.

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Son of a Muggle-Born Witch

Alyssa Rosenberg has put together a very astute list of political lessons from Harry Potter, though there’s one thing that’s striking in its absence from her list. Perhaps she’s left it out because it’s more of a cultural issue than a political one, but either way, it’s such a pervasive part of the storyline that I will point it out.


If we view magical heritage as the Potterverse’s proxy for racial differences, then the message is not subtle: segregation will get you absolutely nowhere.

We see the vastly oversimplified categories of pureblood, half-blood, and Muggle-born, and time and time again, we see that heritage bears not the slightest correlation with magical ability. On the pureblood side, we have the Blacks (Sirius, Bellatrix, Narcissa) who are all very competent, but then there’s Neville Longbottom. His struggles are arguably due to psychological issues rather than magical ability, but still: all those generations of pure blood don’t make him any better off than his classmates.

Voldemort’s maternal family, the Gaunts, are so proud of their magical heritage that they’d rather become dangerously inbred than mate with any dirty Muggles, and boy does it ever show. Sure, they’re pureblood; they’re also deformed and crazy from all those oh-so-magical genes getting repeatedly reinforced. Tom Riddle is lucky enough to be as healthy and good-looking as his “filthy Muggle father,” but unlucky enough to have been conceived in a coerced union because his pureblood mother was desperate/crazy enough to use a Love Potion.

The Weasleys are recognized as a very old and very thoroughly pureblood family, but they’re badass because they don’t give a fuck about their blood status. Arthur is notorious for making a career out of protecting Muggles from the depredations of wizards. Ron’s older brothers are successful not because their family tree goes back through umpteen generations of nothing but magic, but because they’re clever, determined and dedicated to whatever it is they’re doing. The following generation of Weasleys, furthermore, is no longer pureblood. The first witch to marry into the family is not even fully human.

On the half-blood side, we have…well, we have Harry, for example. He gets his money, his looks and his athletic ability from his pureblood father, but he’s apparently inherited a sense of compassion and justice from his Muggle-born mother, who was a badass witch in her own right. JKR has disclosed that Lupin is a half-blood. We have Tonks, only child of a rebel Black mother (sister to Voldemort’s right-hand woman, no less) and a quietly brave Muggle-born father. We have Dumbledore, for heaven’s sake, the most powerful wizard of the century, also the son of a Muggle-born mother. We have Snape, a problematic character but either way a competent wizard with a Muggle father. Voldemort, most importantly, is steadfastly obsessed with blood status but when faced with a choice between two wizard boys born at the end of July, he chooses not the pureblood, but the half-blood like himself.

On Team Muggle-born, we have the aforementioned Lily Evans, member of the original Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s mom. We have Hermione Granger, the brightest witch of her generation, who never met a spell she couldn’t master.

The Death Eaters are not just characterized by racism; it defines them. The supremacy of purebloods and exclusion of Muggle-borns from Wizarding society is their end goal. The fact that their leader is the son of a Muggle father is never mentioned in their ranks. The only wizard he ever feared was the half-blood Dumbledore. They pride themselves on their purity of blood, but that doesn’t save them from getting their asses handed to them. At the center of the resistance we find a handful of teenagers including, but not limited to: the half-blood kid raised in the most neurotically Muggle household ever, the Muggle-born bookworm, the blood traitor, the kid who barely made it out of Potions lessons in one piece.

It’s no accident that the final book opens with the inner circle of Death Eaters killing a teacher who advocates for more mixing of magical and Muggle blood, not less. They wouldn’t bother to capture and kill her if they weren’t afraid she was right.

Someone has not spent much time among Harry Potter fans.

The Dish quotes someone named Tamar Szebo Gendler who thinks she can tell J.K. Rowling what not to say about her own characters:

As far as textual evidence goes, it’s clear that “Dumbledore is gay” is not a primary truth in Harry Potter: that sentence appears nowhere in the 4,100 or so canonical pages. So the question is whether it is a secondary truth. … [O]ur best evidence here is what Rowling herself said. But why should that matter? As readers have complained: “If the series is truly at an end, then the author no longer possesses the authority to create new thoughts, feelings, and realities for those characters. And, indeed, this sort of view of authorial authority is held by a number of leading critics of authorial intent. They point out that language is a social creation, and that authors do not have the power simply to make words mean what they choose. By this reasoning, it’s not up to Rowling to say whether Dumbledore is gay: her texts need to be allowed to speak for themselves, and each of her readers is a qualified listener.

Oh, no, it’s not like J.K. Rowling created Dumbledore, or wrote the Harry Potter series, or anything.

In case you haven’t read the series and don’t have many friends who can’t resist talking about it, there are spoilers below the jump. Proceed with caution.

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