“MuggleNet Academia” Lesson 27: “Billywigs, Bowtruckles, and Basilisks – Harry Potter’s Fantastic Beasts” is now available for download

MuggleNet Academia returns with an incredible show that jumps right into the heart of fantastic beasts as found within the Harry Potter books and movies as well as the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In this lesson, John Granger and I are joined by Dr. Melissa Aaron of California Polytechnic University, Pomona and biology/zoology instructor Jason Crean of Lyons Township High School, St. Xavier University, and Aurora University in Illinois.

In this lesson we discuss:

  • Magical, mythical, and real fantastic beasts.
  • The significance of unicorns, dragons, and werewolves.
  • Fantastic beasts that we hope make an appearance in the highly anticipated Fantastic Beasts film series.
  • How does Rowling differ in her dragons and werewolves from traditional literature?

MuggleNet Academia is a comprehensive insight into the literary thematic elements and scholastic endeavors that author J.K. Rowling has provided in her writings of the Harry Potter series. We look through the entire Harry Potter series for various elements in alchemy, literary components, and composition attributes, as well as available classes at universities and colleges around the world and various unique studies that are being implemented today.

To listen to the show and discover more insight into the fabulous literature of author J.K. Rowling, download this lesson RIGHT HERE, or head on over to iTunes. You can also listen directly from Facebook or simply click the “play” button in the image above.

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Enjoy the show!

[toggle title=”Special Guests” state=”close” ] [tabs type=”horizontal”][tabs_head][tab_title]Dr. Melissa Aaron[/tab_title][tab_title]Jason Crean[/tab_title][/tabs_head][tab]

Dr. Melissa Aaron

Professor in the Dept. of English and Foreign Languages at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, CA

Melissa D. Aaron is a Professor in the Dept. of English and Foreign Languages at Cal Poly Pomona. She received her Ph.D from UW-Madison in Renaissance dramatic literature. She is the author of Global Economics: An institutional economic history of the Chamberlain’s/King’s Men and their plays, 1599- 1642, (University of Delaware Press, 2005). Her research is on Shakespeare and economics and all-women Shakespeare companies. In the Harry Potter fandom, Professor Aaron, aka “Moonyprof,” has developed a specialty in werewolves. She represented Professor Lupin at the “Hogwart’s Best: Teacher of the Year” panel at LUMOS in 2006, and has given several papers on Lupin and werewolves: “’Said He Was a Wolf: Professor Lupin meets the Duchess of Malfi,” The Witching Hour, 2005; “The Way of the Wolf: Werewolves, (Mis)Representation, and Mental Illness” Prophecy, 2007; “New Moon, Full Moon, Wolfsbane Potion and Fursploding Boys: werewolves in the Harry Potter books and the Twilight saga,” Azkatraz, 2009; “My, what big eyes you have: Lupin, Greyback, and the modern werewolf revival,” Infinitus, 2010; and “The Werewolf Renaissance, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Moon,” Ascendio, 2012. She currently teaches a Harry Potter course at Cal Poly Pomona and regularly gives talks in the Southern California area.


Jason Crean

Biology Instructor/ Zoology Consultant

Jason Crean is a biologist who wears many hats. Jason is a biology instructor at the high school and university level and a curriculum designer and instructor at Brookfield Zoo. He has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching by President Obama in 2009, the 2010 High School Science Teacher of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as awards from the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Illinois Science Teachers Association. He authored several curricula, including the award-winning Zoo Genetics curriculum (www.xy-zoo.com) and Harry Potter Biology curriculum (harrypotterbiology.com), and was recently awarded the Teacher of Distinction award by the Golden Apple Foundation. He serves as Vice-President of the Illinois Science Teachers Association, Vice-President for the Illinois Association of Biology Teachers, and sits on the Board for the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching and the National Science Advisory Panel.

[/tab][/tabs][/toggle] [toggle title=”Transcript” state=”close” ]



Keith Hawk (KH)
John Granger (JG)
Melissa Aaron (MA)
Jason Crean (JC)

KH: This lesson of MuggleNet Academia is brought to you by Audible. Please visit AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet for your free audiobook download.

[Show music begins]

Eric: Hey! Josée! Wait up!

Josée: Oh hi, Eric! I’m sorry, I really can’t talk right now. I’m running late.

Eric: Late? Late for what?

Josée: Oh, it’s because I have to go meet Keith and John Granger. I’m actually going to listen to a Harry Potter literature lesson at MuggleNet Academia.

Eric: Oh cool, that sounds awesome. Can I come with?

Josée: Yes, of course you can. Just come with me.

Eric: Okay. Let’s go!

[Show music continues]

KH: Welcome back to another lesson of MuggleNet Academia. My name is Keith Hawk. I am the managing editor of MuggleNet.com. My co-host, John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor – how are you, sir? It has certainly been a little while.

JG: It has been a little while, Keith, but it has finally become spring here in Oklahoma City. It has been sixty degrees all week; we’re loving it. How are things there in Lehigh Valley, Keith?

KH: Well, if anybody has been watching the news, you’ll know that we have had major snowstorms up and down the east coast all winter long. It is absolutely insane. We have the third… we just hit the third recorded high for snowfall in a year. I hope we don’t have any more; I’m so sick of it.

[JG laughs]

KH: Absolutely terrible. It is terrible. I had my first baseball practice, though, last week.

JG: Aww.

KH: Indoors. Indoors. We can’t play outside yet.

JG: But Keith, rumor has it that you’ve been to Florida.

KH: I have been, actually. Wow! [laughs] It was so much fun.

JG: Tell me about this trip to Florida, Keith.

KH: Okay.

JG: All of us here are green with envy.

KH: Yeah.

JG: He goes to Florida. Go ahead, make us feel bad.

KH: Well, I don’t know if you are green with envy because of the warm weather or because of what I actually did, but Kat Miller, my partner on the site, and I were invited to go down to Florida to see Diagon Alley, the expansion area of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They had an event called the Harry Potter Celebration. They had several of the stars there: the Weasley twins, Fred and George, which is James and Oliver Phelps, were there; Matt Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, was there; Evanna Lynch – who is just a dear friend of mine; I love her to death – who plays Luna Lovegood; they had Devon Murray there, who plays Seamus Finnegan; and they had Arthur Weasley there, which is Mark Williams.

JG: Wow.

KH: So it was just a brilliant time. Universal was so great to us. Met some great people that are behind the scenes. I mean, the art director for the Harry Potter films is Alan Gilmore, and he has basically been in charge of the entire thing – underneath Stuart Craig, of course – for the whole Diagon Alley look and everything else. So he is the one who gave Kat and I and a bunch of other reporters a first look at Diagon Alley. It’s beautiful. I can’t really say too much other than… it’s really an amazing thing. You enter the area where… it’s on mainland in the Universal Studios portion, not Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure is where the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts castle is. So it’s in the other park, which is Universal Studios. And when you go in, you are actually entering the lagoon area where Jaws used to be and you’ll see Muggle London. So as you’re looking up, you see King’s Cross on your left, then you have [pronounces as “lie-ches-ter”] Leicester… I can never pronounce it right, but [pronounces as “lie-kes-ter”] Leicester Tube Station, and then the Wyndham Theater, and then all the way to the right is Grimmauld Place. So you’re seeing the Muggle portion of London, and I think outside they’re going to have the Knight Bus, and they’re going to have the fountain from Piccadilly Circus there for people… good fan photo shots and everything else. It actually makes you feel like you’re in London. The detail in the architecture is extraordinary. It’s exactly what it looks like over in England. So it was absolutely beautiful. Now, we didn’t see the paved streets or anything, so I can’t tell you how that is yet. But then you go into Diagon Alley through the entrance. Now, the entrance wasn’t set up. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. We’re obviously hoping for some moving bricks or something, but they’re going to make it really dramatic so that when you enter from Muggle London into Diagon Alley, you’ll feel like you’re in the books. And then as soon as you get in, to your left is the Leaky Cauldron. So that’s how it plays out; you’re not actually going through the Leaky Cauldron to get into Diagon Alley. But they said it represents it well. And they have a lot… all the exterior buildings are built. The interiors are not finished yet, so we really didn’t see anything on the insides. But they are going to be opening up very soon, and it’s amazing. They have Knockturn Alley there.

JG: [laughs] Oh really? Wow!

KH: So you’re going to be able to go down Knockturn Alley and go into Borgin and Burkes.

JG: Oh, neat.

KH: They have the main Ollivander’s branch there. They’re going to keep the Ollivander’s Hogsmeade outlet open.

[JG laughs]

KH: They have… Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes is going to have all the joke stuff and it’s three floors of joke stuff, but… now, we’re only going to be able to go on one floor, but the stuff is just amazing. And then of course you have Gringotts and that’s going to be the Gringotts… what’s it called? Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or something like that. It’s going to be an incredible ride. It’s going to have… they couldn’t tell us what it’s going to have, but it’s going to be pretty sick.

[JG and KH laugh]

KH: I mean, from what we gathered, Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix are going to attack us in the ride, the dragon is going to be there, we’re going to ride out on the dragon’s back somehow. I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but it’s just going to be really cool.

JG: Now, is this going to all be open by LeakyCon this summer?

KH: Yes, it’s going to be opened up probably… I’m going to guess June-ish should be the grand opening. They kept saying that they are on track. They are on perfect time, even though… like I said, the insides weren’t done yet, so… and it’s a lot of work, but I guess they’re all set to go.

JG: They’ve got all those house-elves to do the work. What the heck.

KH: Yeah, right. And we met the guy… his name is Bryn Court. Genius guy. Very nice gentleman. He’s the one who built all the sculptures for the films. He did the Fountain of Magical Brethren that we saw in the films. He’s done other films, too. He did the Batman statue in The Dark Knight and all that stuff. Really good stuff. But he’s also creating the dragon for on top of Gringotts. So there is actually going to be a fire-breathing dragon on top of Gringotts. Really exciting. Yeah, so anyway, it was a lot of fun. It’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait for the fans to get down there and do it. So if you have any plans this summer, make sure you hit the Wizarding World and take… you need a two-park pass to go into both parks, and you can go from one park to the other via the Hogwarts Express. It’s going to be just so well done. I mean, it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait.

So LeakyCon is a nice hint there, John. Thank you. Please register for LeakyCon. It is open for… registrations are open. We are putting up links all the time on Twitter and Facebook. Go into the MuggleNet links so that you’re hearing the show… or you’re hearing the links from us here on MuggleNet. We get credit for it that way. We certainly do appreciate that. And make sure that when you’re coming to LeakyCon, you say hi. I think I’m going to be bringing my two girls with me, so they’re looking forward to it.

JG: Well, major envy on this end, Keith, that you’re able to do all this great stuff. The only satisfaction I have is that you had to go back to Lehigh Valley and eighteen inches of snow or whatever.

KH: Yeah, I missed the one snowstorm, which was good.

[JG laughs]

KH: Because I actually left on a Tuesday at 6:30 in the morning, and at 8:00 the airport shut down. [laughs]

JG: Oh.

KH: So I got out of there just in time.

JG: Wow.

KH: But yeah, I’ve had my work to do when I got back here with shovelling and everything. But anyway, let’s move on. Let’s introduce our great guests here. We actually have two experts in the field. Our first guest is a friend of our show. Dr. Melissa Aaron was actually on Bonus Lesson 3. If you are not familiar with the bonus lessons of MuggleNet Academia, it’s real simple. Just go to iTunes and download Podcast Box – that is a free app – and then look for MuggleNet Academia. It’s a $1.99 one-time download and you’ll see all of our bonus features on there. And she was Bonus Lesson 3. We talked about her class. Dr. Aaron does teach at… I’m going to say it wrong, but California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, California.

MA: “At Pomona.” At Pomona, yeah.

[JG and MA laugh]

KH: Yeah, at Pomona.

MA: It’s a mouthful.

KH: When I say that this woman is a great Potter fan, I’m being very… that’s like an understatement. She wears her robes in class. So if you want to have a teacher that wears robes to class and teaches Harry Potter, that’s the place to go. John, you’ve known Dr. Aaron longer than me, certainly.

JG: [laughs] I think we’ve done almost every HPEF convention together.

MA: Almost. I wasn’t at Portus, I think, and that was it.

JG: That’s great because I missed that one too, so we’re good. I didn’t go to Dallas this summertime. That was too much for me.

MA: Yeah, I can understand that.

JG: [laughs] But no, it’s Las Vegas, Toronto, Orlando a couple of times, most recently Ascendio… and we correspond. We argue with each other.

MA: Sometimes. Yeah, we do. But…

[JG laughs]

MA: Mutual respect. Seriously, mutual respect.

JG: Yeah. When I see my little spinner that says Moonyprof, I’m like, “Okay, here we go.”

MA: [laughs] Oh, dear.

JG: “Get my leotards on, man, because we’re going to be wrestling here.”

MA: [laughs] Well…

JG: No, it’s good stuff because… yeah, because we have the same priorities. It’s about artistry and meaning and how you understand this thing correctly.

MA: It’s about the books. It’s about the books. I actually… my supposed first specialty is theater history, and we tend to be very big on the details, and we’ll meet at the Shakespeare Association and anybody who is new to that group usually goes through some sort of baptism of fire. They’re just ripped to shreds. “Do you know the details?” And then afterwards it’s, “Hey, come to dinner with us.” It’s no hard feelings.

[JG laughs]

MA: And Roslyn Knutson – who is just this dear woman from Arkansas – said, “Well, of course we don’t bear any ill will, honey. That’s how we do our work.” And she meant it in that if you don’t have anybody correcting some of the details of this, your work is going to get published and you’re going to be really sorry that nobody stopped you on this. So I come from a really… [laughs] we’re a tough crowd. Really a tough crowd. But in pursuit of something that’s good; in pursuit of work. And same thing with this. We all adore Harry Potter and we take it seriously, as you’ve said many times, so there you go.

KH: Well, welcome to the show, Dr. Melissa. Can I call you Melissa during the show? I hope you don’t mind.

MA: You can call me Melissa. No, not at all.

KH: Or Moonyprof. [laughs]

MA: You can call me Moony a couple of times. No.

KH: Great. And also joining our show is Mr. Jason J. Crean. Jason is a Biology teacher at Lyons Township High School. He also teaches zoology and some other curriculum at Saint Xavier University in Illinois, as well as Aurora University. Jason, did I get all that right?

JC: Close. Pretty close, yeah. I’m impressed. As someone that has eleven jobs, you hit…

[JG laughs]

JC: … the nail on the head, so pretty good. [laughs]

MA: Wow.

JG: That’s scary.

KH: Well, now tell us exactly what you’re teaching out there.

JC: Well, I’m a biologist. I teach full time high school. That’s where my passion lies. And I also teach biology at the university level, mainly at Saint Xavier University. I do teach other graduate courses through our local zoo here, Brookfield Zoo, in…

MA: Oh, yeah.

JC: We’re just outside of Chicago. And we do a lot of science workshops there, and through… basically what I do is I am adjunct through a few different universities in connection with those programs. So I’m a curriculum designer. I write curriculum that we do specifically for educators so that they can get their kids excited about science. And my passion has always been animals. My classroom looks a lot like some of the classrooms you’ve seen in the films.

MA: Oh, wow.

[JG laughs]

JC: I’ve got cages everywhere because I run a live animal outreach education program.

JG: Wow.

JC: And it’s funny because I do have a lot of HP connections here. I have… my program includes Luna Lovegood the golden parrot, and Fawkes the cockatoo, and Tonks the very clumsy turako, Buckbeak the mousebird…

JG: Where were you when I was growing up, man?

[JC laughs]

JG: Where were you when I was stumbling through Biology classes that bored me silly?

JC: Yup. Well, and…

MA: And I’ve been to Brookfield. It’s gorgeous. It’s a gorgeous zoo.

JG: Oh, yeah.

JC: It’s a fantastic zoo. I’m very lucky to be a part of that. But the animals that I have are actually my personal outreach program, so with the… and any time I have an HP connection I exploit it, including… I have a lorikeet named Severus Snape because we can’t quite tell if he’s good or evil.

MA: Oh.

[JG laughs]

JC: So we do those recognizable names for kids because then they are very interested in what we have to offer. But yeah, so I do a lot of curriculum design for several institutions, and I do private curriculum design for myself, which is where the harrypotterbiology.com website came up in materials that I’ve developed for my own students.

KH: That’s great. Well, thank you very much. I mean, the first thing that I think about when people say that they’re a biologist… I’m sure, John, you don’t know what I’m talking about, but The Big Bang Theory is a big show here in America, and Penny goes, “Oh, the one with the frog.”

[JC and JG laugh]

KH: Yes, that’s the one, all right? So whenever somebody says “biologist,” I’m like, “Okay, there we go. The one with the frog.” [laughs]

[Show music begins]

MA: I’m almost glad I don’t know what that’s about. [laughs]

JG: That’s right. Phew.

KH: It’s just a comedy. It’s just… oh, whatever. We’ll move on.

MA: No, I’m sure.

KH: But anyway, to both of you, welcome to the show. It’s going to be an interesting show.

MA: Thank you.

KH: And I look forward to it. So let’s get it going. From MuggleNet.com, my name is Keith Hawk.

JG: I’m John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor and author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures.

MA: I’m Melissa Aaron, I’m known as Moonyprof sometimes, and I teach at California Polytechnic State University at Pomona.

JC: And I’m Jason Crean from Lyons Township High School and Saint Xavier University.

[Show music continues]

KH: Before we get into our lesson today, I would like to take this moment to thank our sponsor, Audible. If you are not familiar with Audible, Audible is the Internet’s leading provider of spoken audio entertainment with over 40,000 titles to choose from. If you have a genre you prefer to listen to, such as the immensely popular young adult genre, they will most certainly have the right selection for you to choose from. If you go right now to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet, that’s AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet, you can get yourself a free Audible book to download when you sign up for their service. And if you’re wondering which book to get with your free audiobook download, I would suggest the Jack Haldean Mysteries series by Dolores Gordon-Smith, a former guest on our show. She has Frankie’s Letter, A Hundred Thousand Dragons, Off the Record, and Trouble Brewing, amongst others that will certainly entice any Harry Potter fan. Or perhaps you’d like to dive into some J.R.R. Tolkien with The Hobbit, as Tolkien is certainly discussed on many of our lessons here on the show. If none of those tickles your fancy, then don’t worry. There are still over 40,000 titles left for you to choose from. So once again, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleNet and get your free download today.

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KH: Welcome to Lesson 27: “Billywigs, Bowtruckles, and Basilisks: Harry Potter’s Fantastic Beasts.” This is a show that I’ve been waiting for for a very long time, actually since the announcement from Warner Bros. of the new film series, screenplay written by J.K. Rowling, the queen herself, called Fantastic Beasts. So as soon as she announced that, we got the press release right from Warner Bros. and put it up on MuggleNet immediately. I was extremely excited to get into this show. I’ve been asking John for… I don’t know, the better part of six months at least. “We need to do a Fantastic Beasts show.” And here it is. It fell into our laps. Dr. Melissa Aaron sent in her request to do a Fantastic Beasts show with us and I said, “Yes.” And I have the perfect student because Jason – Mr. Crean – sent in his request to be a special guest on Fantastic Beasts along with it. So we actually had two opportunities here and we said, “Let’s just put them all together and let’s just do this.”

MA: Yes.

KH: So…

JG: And then Ms. Rowling cooperated by giving us a whole other plug for this in her conversation with Emma, right?

MA: Oh, yeah.

KH: Absolutely. How about that? Can you imagine?

JG: Great timing.

KH: It was. It was all great timing. So here we go. We’re talking about Fantastic Beasts and if you don’t have it, the schoolbooks that are written by J.K. Rowling feature the Fantastic Beasts and Quidditch Through the Ages. The Fantastic Beasts book has a whole bunch of notes by Harry and Ron and everything. They’re playing Hangman. They have mega X’s for the Acromantulas. It’s just a lot of fun to read, to learn about these fantastic beasts. But J.K. Rowling really puts a lot of focus on magical creatures, and she has a class herself called Care of Magical Creatures that’s featured in the book, a character who is obsessed with them, the many magical creatures Harry and his friends run into on their adventures, and the textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, written by Newt Scamander. With the new screenplay, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we have a whole new window opening up on JKR’s world building. This is going to feature a film series that takes place in the 1920s based on Newt’s explorations around the world of the fantastic beasts. From our understanding, it could be taking place part of it in England, part of it in New York. I really can’t imagine how this is going to work, but it’s going to be exciting because it is a film series. So this is really exciting. One thing that we do with each one of our shows is we ask our guests how they came about being a fan of the Harry Potter book series, and Dr. Melissa Aaron, you’re such a fan you actually teach your class in robes – Gryffindor robes – right?

MA: Yeah.

KH: Yeah, Gryffindor robes.

MA: Although, actually on Pottermore, they sorted me into Hufflepuff, and what’s funny about…

KH: So you’re a Gryffinpuff. That’s okay.

MA: I am. I’m a Gryffypuff. And I looked at that – I’m only wearing Gryffindor because of Lupin – and I thought, “Well, wow…”

[JG laughs]

MA: “… I’m going to have to be honest about having been put into Hufflepuff, and I’m not going to do it again.” And I realized that that was such a Hufflepuff attitude that I really… that Pottermore got me right. I’m really a Hufflepuff at heart. Absolutely.

KH: I think you are because you are very loyal, you’re very dedicated, and I think you’re all about what’s right. We’ve met several times already at conventions, and I’ve had the chance to talk to you, and I see a Hufflepuff characteristic for sure, so I think that’s accurate.

[JG laughs]

MA: I love Hufflepuff. They are… they’re great. I would have said that even if I weren’t one, so…

KH: Well, J.K. Rowling herself even said that to be honest, she would be a Hufflepuff…

MA: They have the best food.

KH: … if she wasn’t such a Gryffindor. Well, it’s not just the food.

MA: No.

KH: It’s about just the basic characteristics of being a great human being. So I’m all for Hufflepuffs. They’re all great.

MA: I always thought…

JG: Actually, I have to object here. In my experience, the true Slytherins never say they’re Slytherin.

MA: Oh. Yeah.

JG: The true Slytherins say they’re Hufflepuff.

MA: That’s funny.

JG: Because…

MA: That’s really funny because everybody in my family except for my aunt and I got sorted into Slytherin. And my poor nephew – he’s such a huge Harry fan; he just adores Harry. He has dressed as Harry two Halloweens in a row.

[JG laughs]

MA: And he was just devastated to be put in Slytherin, and it made him feel a little bit better that his Mommy was in it, too.

[JG laughs]

MA: And even his little sister – his four-year-old little sister – everybody was a Slytherin. But I think the reason I wound up being put on Pottermore into Hufflepuff is because one of the questions is, “What power would you most want?” and mine was, “I would most like to be able to talk to animals.”

JG: Oh.

MA: Evidently that’s a Hufflepuff thing, so it works out for me.

KH: Well, let’s talk about how you became such a fan of the series. We all know you know your stuff, but how did you get into this?

MA: My mother. That’s the truth. I was applying for work and I was staying with my family right before the big job interviews at the Modern Language Association, and she handed me these books and she said, “These are great. You’ll love them.” And she’s one of the few people in the world who if she gives me a book recommendation I will actually read it because she knows me. She’s a smart woman; she’s a wonderful person. And I remember Prisoner of Azkaban, getting to the chapter “Cat, Rat, and Dog,” and my jaw dropped. That was the chapter that sold me on the books forever because it was so brilliant and so interesting.

JG: And you became Moonyprof right then.

MA: I sort of… well, I was on my way to it. Maybe it’s because I was just about applying to be a professor. But yeah, I found that I just really loved the character and I really love… I love the character as a teacher and just… that was it. And very slowly, I got to know people. I went to The Witching Hour – I went with my mom then, too – and then Azkatraz, I met the lovely ladies of the Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army. And so, yes, they’re wonderful people, actually; they’re great. So it’s been a little slow ride. A couple of years ago, I got my course approved. So that’s how it started, really. But it’s become… I don’t want to sound like I live for fandom, because I don’t, but the books are… they’re dear to me. They’re dear to me in many ways. Actually, I have a student who was in one of my classes before who said that she reread all the books twice every year.

JC: Wow.

MA: Wow. And she said, “Those books are in my heart.” That just really touched me a lot, “Those books are in my heart.” So, yeah.

JG: I love it. It’s like the Deluminator ball. I love it.

MA: It is. She’s a Hufflepuff, actually. [laughs] That’s what she says.

JG: Jason. How old were you, Jason, when you stumbled into Hogwarts?

JC: Oh, age… now that I’m 40, it’s a little hard for me to remember.

[JC and MA laugh]

JC: I originally got into it because of my godson. He was a fanatic, and we kind of grew… I guess we grew together in the fandom. I didn’t really know anything about it until he became a fanatic, and I got hooked pretty quickly. I guess as an educator, the backdrop of a school was particularly attractive, but the character development and the rich storyline… I mean, that just did it for me. I identify with Hagrid. I’m a Gryffindor.

MA: [laughs] Oh.

[JG laughs]

MA: I completely understand that.

JC: I mean, I’m just a little bit shorter and I have a lot less facial hair, but outside of that…

JG: [laughs] That’s great.

JC: You’re probably not going to find anybody that has an affection for exotic creatures like I do. Dogs and cats tend to bore me; I have just about everything else.

JG: Aww.

JC: [laughs] So I can identify.

JG: That’s perfect and a perfect lead-in to my first question here, Keith. What is a magical creature? It’s not a dog or a cat. It can be something like a dog or a cat. Is it a creature with magical properties or a strictly magical creature? And what kind of magical creatures does she make up, whole-cloth? I mean, not just from the traditional… we’ve got unicorns and things from other places. What kind of stuff does she make up on her own?

MA: The first one that comes into mind is Plimpies, although I would argue about the cats.

[JG laughs]

MA: Because cats are one of the three different things you can bring with you to Hogwarts, right? You can bring a cat, an owl, or a toad, right?

JG: I guess, but aren’t they mostly Kneazles or crosses or something?

MA: Well, I always wondered if Crookshanks was a Kneazle.

KH: Crookshanks is a Kneazle, yeah. Crookshanks is.

MA: I think she said that he was. But he’s based… she is not a cat fan. She likes dogs. She has a Jack Russell, like Ron’s Patronus, actually. But she said someplace near where she worked, she saw this great big, tough cat, and he was the model for Crookshanks. She kind of grew to at least respect him, [laughs] if nothing else. But the first one that pops into my head for some reason is Plimpies. Plimpies, because she doesn’t have to have them. They’re just fish with legs, [laughs] and as far as I know she just made them up.

JG: That is something. I don’t know magical creatures that well. I mean, I’ve read a couple of medieval beasts here courtesy of [unintelligible] company or whatever, but I don’t know that much about magical creatures. And so when I read Fantastic Beasts, some things I’ll recognize – the stuff is traditional or whatever; classical or mythical – but the other stuff I think… is she making that up? Where does she get that?

MA: I have no idea where she got Plimpies. I’m curious… Jason, is there anything like a Plimpie? I mean, in real life like a fish with legs? She has a picture; I think she drew it.

JC: There’s fish that… there’s an intermediate… some people refer to it as a missing link, and I’m trying to remember the name of it off the top of my head, but it is fish-like and it lives in the water but it can live out of the water for some time. So there is those intermediate fish that do have… that look a little bit similar. They have a longer fish-like body. They’re not round like Plimpies would be, but…

[JG laughs]

MA: Mhm.

JC: … there are kinds of specifics out there like that.

MA: As far as I know, I have no idea where she got Plimpies from, except from her own extremely rich imagination, which we know is clearly right off the… amazing with that. I saw some of the stuff on Pottermore about her… when she first was deciding what classes would be taught and the first one… she didn’t even have “Magical Creatures.” She just had “Beasts.”

[JG laughs]

MA: So that was one of the ones she was absolutely sure that there had to be a class on beasts.

KH: Let’s skip the Plimpies part and let’s go to a different one that she made up. Let’s talk about Thestrals.

MA: Oh, fascinating.

KH: That has to be… I mean, that’s a significant beast that’s a magical creature or beast… I don’t know what you would want to call it. What is the difference between a beast and a magical creature? Is there a difference? Let’s start with there first.

MA: Huh. Well, yeah, that’s a good question because I was doing a talk on this at one point and I had to sort of say, “Well okay, we’re not going to be talking about just some of the regular beasts that appear. Just because it’s in Fantastic Beasts, it’s not fantastic enough to have a whole conversation about, right?” But I guess a magical creature would be either something that has a magical property that you can either make use of in a spell or something, versus something that really seems to run on magic or be primarily magic. And I guess I would put phoenixes and unicorns in that first category, really – in the second category, really – category of creatures that really are uniquely magical and mythical and really don’t have any real world equivalent at all. So that’s what I would… separating it down… I mean, unicorns and dragons and phoenixes there are… obviously there’s something that people would definitely recognize. Those are magical creatures.

KH: Okay, well let’s get back into the Thestrals here. Now, the Thestrals have a skeletal, black body; they have a dragonish face and neck… I mean, they have similar characteristics to a horse with wings. They have extremely good directional abilities where they know where things are somehow and they are used for… Dumbledore and Hagrid used them to fly to different places. But this is something that she made up. Now, did she make up this particular beast specifically because she needed an avenue to get from Hogwarts to the Ministry of Magic in Book 5? Is that the entire reason that she made this thing up? Or was it from Book 1 where we have invisible creatures pulling a carriage to school and we later find that these are the Thestrals? So, does she have it planned out way back then or starting in Book 5?

JG: But you only met… here is all it says on Thestrals: “… the rare Thestral (black, possessed of the power of invisibility, and considered unlucky by many wizards).” That’s not the full picture that we get…

MA: No.

JG: … when we get…

MA: But I don’t think that… I think purposely, Fantastic Beasts isn’t comprehensive. And remember, there is that bit under Acromantula, where it says there is a colony of Acromantula…

JG: [laughs] Yeah.

MA: … potentially in Scotland [laughs] and then I think it’s in Harry’s handwriting that says “Confirmed by Ron.”

[JG laughs]

MA: He’s got that. And I think the Thestrals, it’s very possible… well, Newt you would have thought would have seen a Thestral or would have been able to because sadly, almost all of them or all of us can at a certain point have seen death, or hopefully maybe not. But I think she always meant to have them because they are so important to the concept of understanding and becoming at peace with the concept of death that they in particular really seem like they have some kind of thematic significance other than just being…

JG: Absolutely. I would say that. I think it grows as the themes grow in the story. I suggest that the small play there doesn’t get its own category. Maybe just prudence who doesn’t want people speculating about what is drawing those carriages. But it could also be that as… Order of the Phoenix, which comes out after the three-year summer, is where she really gets the death in a transformed vision consequent to an experience with death.

MA: Oh, yeah.

KH: That is one of the things you have to remember. The schoolbooks were written in that absence…

MA: Mhm.

KH: … between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. Goblet of Fire came out in 2000 and the books for Comic Relief – Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts; the schoolbooks, commonly known as – they came out in 2001, if I remember correctly. So it was during that hiatus of hers when she was writing Order of the Phoenix.

JG: I get it. That’s when they were published. But I mean, the legend… and I don’t follow Pottermore; I don’t know if this is confirmed or not in her comments since publication, but the legend has been that she… Comic Relief asked her for something and she pulled these books complete out of her files, that she had written these books.

KH: Oh, I’m sure most of this stuff… I mean, I guarantee you that most of what’s in here was in her notes and files, but I’m sure she pulled out some stuff from mythology and everything else, things that were not necessarily in her repertoire of Harry Potter books.

JG: Absolutely. And we started this conversation a little bit; let’s look at some of these classics like dragons and unicorns, okay? There’s classical myth, there’s medieval legend involved here, we have dragons, we’ve got The Hobbit movie now for comparison, Chronicles of Narnia… what’s unique in Rowling’s depiction of dragons? I mean, the big dragon books are “1”, “4,” and “7.” We’ve got the axis of the series; the beginning, the middle, and the end are dragon-heavy – and we can argue about that if you want – but what’s unique to Rowling’s dragon depicture here?

MA: Huh. Well, I guess for me, one of the things that’s interesting is because dragons… and Tolkien really invented… I didn’t know this, but I found this out. Tolkien uses a very old concept of dragon, the idea that dragon as representating greed. And then… but he invents the idea in Western culture of the smart dragon. Because before that, dragons don’t really talk… well, I guess they do in the Ring Cycle. But she goes back to having dragons that are really beasts. They’re not capable of rational thought, really. They’re not capable of conversation. They’re in some ways a little bit more classically… like a medieval dragon. But her dragons don’t really have much to do with greed, quite to the same extent. The dragon that she shows in Book 4, they’re lady dragons protecting their eggs, which… you don’t have to be a dragon to be a lady wanting to protect your young. And the one in Gringotts is there not because the dragon wants to sit on the gold, but because it’s a prisoner. And that’s actually… I always cry at that part. I feel really sad for that old, blind dragon being forced to having… sitting in the dark and becoming white because of that. It’s funny, she never… she pulls this off making this… her dragons are never not terrifying; they’re always scary. But she also makes you feel bad for that dragon because it’s an animal and it’s an animal that’s being abused. And you get a little bit of Hagrid’s perspective [laughs] on dragons. It’s just a teeny tiny…

JG: Absolutely. That conversation between the dragon Weasley expert and Hagrid in Hallows about Norberta: How did you know it’s a woman, a female dragon? Because they’re the meanest or whatever.

MA: Mhm.

JG: But there you touch base at the beginning of that book with Norbert from the beginning and Hagrid is taking care of it, and here’s the other dragon master or whatever, and then the end of the story is largely about this dragon escaping and…

MA: Mhm.

JG: … responding to their freeing it. As you say, this is not Smaug.

MA: No.

JG: This is not even the Beowulf dragon. This is… they’re wild beasts, they’re not rational creatures, and that is a… in terms of the fantasy literature that we’re used to, we’re used to Smaug.

MA: Yes.

JG: [laughs] We’re looking for this dragon to talk and smell and be clever and… the thing you have to sneak past. Not these dragons. These dragons just want to rip your head off.

MA: And I have to say, I have a weak spot for really sentient and even very clever dragons, so I don’t know if you’re familiar with Kenneth Grahame’s book The Reluctant Dragon, but the dragon in The Reluctant Dragon is just a darling. I mean, he doesn’t want to fight at all. [laughs] He winds up staging a fight with Saint George…

[JG and MA laugh]

MA: … so that the villagers will leave him alone. It’s a delightful book. You must read it. Don’t bother with the Disney movie, but it’s just so, so dear. And I went to see The Desolation of Smaug and oh, Benedict Cumberbatch – what a terrific cast for Smaug. I love Smaug. But it’s also nice to see a dragon that is an animal, too. And that seems to be the idea, bringing it back to that but taking away the greed element. It’s just… it’s wild, respect it as such, and letting it go. And then it really goes. It goes out of the books [laughs] for good as far as we know.

JG: Jason, do you use dragons at all in your class? I mean, when you bring people and you get them engaged with Harry Potter, do they say, “Where’s the dragon?”

[JC laughs]

JG: “Where’s the bird?”

JC: Yeah, I’ve been asked. When we talk about real life dragons, Komodo dragons, which are obviously named…

MA: Mhm.

JC: … after the mythical creature, I get a lot of students who ask, “Do they breathe fire?”

MA: Aha.

JC: Obviously not. I mean, we do have to root it in reality to a point. What I find interesting about her portrayal of dragons is that I feel like she is telling us as mortals – or wizards or Muggles, regardless – that we have a responsibility to wildlife.

MA: Yes.

JC: The dragons are kept on reserves; they talk about that quite a bit. There’s a vulnerability with the dragon in Gringotts, like was just referred to. It just seems like she is using this terrible, terrible beast to show us that even the most dangerous creature we have a responsibility to protect. And I don’t believe that it’s just to protect them from Muggles seeing them. I do really believe that she cares a great deal about beasts in general and this is how it comes across. And I think that as far as her portrayal of dragons just in general, there’s selective breeding going on. I swear this woman has had to have been a biologist in her previous life because she has elements of…

[JG laughs]

JC: … selective breeding and evolution, and she talks a great… there’s so much chimera, and not just the mythical creature chimera, but chimerism in her books, and this just leads more into that, the different hybridization of dragons being bred and things like that. So there’s a lot of elements there, but I do think that it has to do with… even something as terrible as a dragon has a vulnerability, and it’s our responsibility to protect them.

KH: I think the movies played that out pretty well too, because all three dragons in the movie… Norbert, you really think he’s cute, he’s like this…

MA: Sort of.

JC: Yes.

KH: … really cute dragon.

JG: Yeah. Whoa, Keith.

KH: He is.

JG: You’re showing your Hagrid side here, Keith.

MA: Uh huh.

KH: Oh, I love the dragons. And then the Hungarian Horntail – no matter how mean he is…

[JG laughs]

KH: … and all that stuff, it’s still a gorgeous dragon when he’s hanging on the castle area and you’re like, “Wow, what a great design this thing is.” And then like you said, the vulnerability of the Ukrainian Iron Belly in Gringotts. They all have that side where actually you do care about them and you hope they’re okay even though they are this mythological dangerous creature that will swallow you whole.

JG: I just reread the Deathly Hallows dragon section and what really struck me rereading it was, how did I believe that this dragon was not going to be their means of escape? Knowing what this lady feels about… and basically Hagrid is largely, I think, a projection screen for her. I mean, she loves magical creatures.

MA: Mhm.

JG: She loves to piece the elements or whatever. How did I ever believe that when you see the… it was like Chekhov’s gun.

[MA laughs]

JG: They walk by this flying dragon. You know this dragon is going to go off by the end of the chapter. And so… I still, when I read the chapter again, I thought… I’m still surprised when that dragon flies away, and I feel elated and liberated because all through the books we’ve been taught that… basically we’ve become Hagrid’s students and even the most dangerous creatures, if you treat them with respect, they’ll help you out. And I thought, how did I miss this the first twenty-five times I read this chapter or whatever? She sets this up throughout the entire series that of course Harry, when he’s got no place to go, says, “Hey, wait a minute. I’ve got a dragon to ride out of this building.” And he does and all of us don’t say to ourselves, “That’s not possible. That’s not credible.” It’s perfectly in sync with the rest of the books.

JC: And that protection, if I may, is a point of contention among the people. Whether they be…

MA: Yes.

JC: … the captors who were the goblins or the wizards or whatnot, there is a point of contention and this mirrors so much of conservation, biological conservation in real life. We’re protecting lions even though they’re killing people, because we feel like we have that responsibility to do so. So this is mirrored very, very well in our real living human world.

MA: And that’s very near and dear to my heart, by the way, because I’m a big supporter of a group called Panthera and they’re very much about preserving big cats, but they also know that you have to look after the people as well.

JC: Yes.

MA: But yes, absolutely. And on the other side of it, you do have to respect them and that means respecting their dangerous quality.

JC: Yes.

MA: I mean, Hagrid is wonderful but at the same time, the fact that he packs a teddy bear in with baby Norbert [laughs] so that he won’t get lonely… he seems a little bit…

JG: Yeah, they have giant size…

MA: Yeah, and there’s the little… what is the name of that book? It’s like Men Who Love Dragons Too Much. [laughs]

JG: That’s right.

MA: It’s like trading dragons for fun and profit, but there’s a level of not being responsible with your dragons. She’s great at that, and she wrung so much out of dragons that she brought her own very humorous perspective and often brought in some real world issues, things that have a real world analog, I guess.

KH: I want to also bring up some of the mythological creatures that she writes in Fantastic Beasts and then some of them are actually in the series themselves. First off, you have Cerberus the three-headed dog, also known to us as Fluffy because he’s so cute.

MA: [laughs] I know.

KH: But you also have Yetis, which are basically Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman. You have Kelpies, which are the Loch Ness Monster. Again, these are all mythological things. And here’s one thing: [laughs] the Discovery Chanel, they focus in on the… they get me every time.

[MA laughs]

KH: I was watching a show on the Discovery Chanel and they have the Loch Ness Monster, “Searching for Loch Ness.” And I’m watching this and I’m like, “Oh, they’re going to find Loch Ness. Finally.”

[MA laughs]

KH: But every time it ends the same, “Nope, didn’t find anything.” But I’m always excited that they actually found him. [laughs] But anyway, she talks about all of these creatures that are mythological and brings in Cerberus, so where is this research coming from? How is she interpreting all this?

MA: Well, I think John touched on this before that she knows… she clearly has done her homework with medieval bestiaries. There’s a really good article by a woman named Gail Orgelfinger called J.K. Rowling’s Medieval Bestiary and it looks at the ways that she uses those as a model. And in medieval bestiaries, at least The Book of Beasts by T.H. White, frequently there are ways they will describe an animal and then they will usually have a specific Christian moral to be drawn from it as well. So she clearly… she knows how to… in a way, Fantastic Beasts is her bestiary. I think that’s true and she includes not just “here are all these cool magical creatures,” but there’s a purpose for them. You can see that she’s using some of the tropes of… well, one of the things that fascinates me is when she defeats our expectations, like fairies. I mean, she has a long explicit thing about this is what Muggles think fairies are like, but actually they’re like insects. [laughs] Surprised, right? So yeah, I think a lot of her sources… she clearly is drawing on [unintelligible] Roman, Western mythology, and then there [are] things like Lethifolds, which I don’t know where she got a Lethifold from, but the idea of this black cloud that just sort of settles on you and digests you while you’re in bed. I really have no idea where she got the idea of Lethifolds, but it’s a brilliant one though.

JG: [laughs] I’m liking the unicorns because if you read T.H. White’s book The Book of Beasts or whatever, you get the full Christian treatment or whatever. Her treatment… none of that… but she does say, unlike the fairies turning into insects, she has a little footnote that says they get a great press.

[MA laughs]

JG: “The unicorn, like the fairy, has received an excellent Muggle press – in this case justified.” And I wanted to ask both of you this question: Unicorns… they appear… we see one that’s dying or dead in the first book, and then we see children on Hagrid’s vacation or whatever or his long walk home with his brother. Are they anywhere else in the books?

KH: Well, yeah. They’re selling unicorn horns for 21 Galleons in Diagon Alley, they have unicorn tail hairs in wands… so yeah, they’re all over.

MA: You know who has a unicorn hair… you don’t actually see it. Actually, one of the things that interests me is that Cedric has a unicorn tail hair in his wand. It always just suited him so well. You have Viktor Krum with the dragon heartstring because what else would it be? And Harry’s, of course, the phoenix because he’s got to be different, right?

[JG laughs]

MA: But it sort of suits Cedric that he’s got a unicorn tail hair that is both… it’s indicative of strength and purity and nobility and that it works, but I think there’s a reason she keeps them off stage. It’s because they’re such a powerful emblem that you don’t want them just strolling through. Also, the baby unicorns, though. Aww. [laughs]

JG: “Aww.” All the girls like that. But that one scene, though. You talked about the moment that you were won over was in Prisoner of Azkaban.

MA: Yes.

JG: For me it was in Philosopher’s Stone

MA: Oh.

JG: … because I came into it thinking, “This is sorcery trash. I have to teach my kids why we don’t read garbage like this.” And I got to that chapter in the Forbidden Forest where Firenze explains to Harry what unicorn’s blood is about…

MA: Yes.

JG: … which is straight out of 1 Corinthians and the scene is so vivid, where Draco actually has the proper human response: run like hell. Get away from… this is a horrible scene. We have this serpentine figure that’s clearly satanic in some way, and you have this image of Christ who is bleeding.

MA: Mhm.

JG: It is a mythic nightmare. Outside of the double-headed… the thing at the very end where you get Quirrell-demort scaring Harry through the mirror.

MA: Uh huh.

JG: The only other image in that book [that] was really frightening, I think, is the serpent drinking the unicorn’s blood. That’s a Stephen King-type scene or whatever for kids. And we never see it again! But I think we’re referenced to it when we go in… it says, “… into the forest again.” He’s gone into the forest plenty of times, but… I don’t know about you, but I thought, “Well, this is… he’s going to that spot. He’s going to go to that place where he saw the Dark Lord drink the unicorn’s blood.” That was the only really horrible moment.

MA: And that’s funny because I remember that scene so vividly and one of the lines that just really chokes me up is, “Harry had never seen anything so beautiful or so sad.”

JG: There you go. [laughs]

MA: It is. It’s really… she makes it not just a horrible moment of the head going up and the blood and the uh, but also just the sheer sadness and the unnecessary waste and that Firenze – who is presented in many ways actually as a classical centaur in the sense that he’s one of those creatures that knows everything; sort of a mentor character – says that killing a unicorn is killing something truly pure and that you’ve destroyed it and therefore you blaspheme, essentially, by drinking unicorn blood.

JG: Right. And the cursed blood aspect is the full circle. We’re going to do the cursed blood thing or whatever that is a reference to, as I said, 1 Corinthians where if you drink this blood unworthily, you’re damned. Firenze makes this observation and Harry, not the sharpest knife in the drawer and only 11 years old or whatever, was just like, “Oh yeah, sure.” In a way, I remember holding the book, thinking, “Game over.”

MA: Yeah.

JG: You just said the bad guy is doomed. This is a done thing, and you’ve done it with a Christian image, which… again, you made the point… Newt Scamander is running a secularized bestiary.

MA: Right.

JG: T.H. White’s book, the unicorn section, about two-thirds of it is about the Christian symbolism, about the nobility…

MA: Yes, it is.

JG: … the horn, and all these things, the references in scripture to it, et cetera. None of that, of course, in Newt Scamander’s book, but you have all the images. You have the single horn, you have the nobility, you have the beauty of it, you have the blood’s powers, et cetera. So in a way she’s just being… it’s implicit rather than explicit.

MA: And the art directors for the film picked up on this by having the unicorn tapestries be the inside of Gryffindor Tower, right? That’s from the unicorn tapestries…

JG: Oh, wow.

MA: … at the MusÈe de Cluny. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with that set of tapestries, but…

JG: Oh, I…

MA: Yes.

JG: [laughs] I grew up in New Jersey!

MA: There you go.

JG: We used to go across the river and see that thing. That’s…

MA: Right, but they’re… each of them is devoted to a different sense. It’s eye and I think… sight, taste, hearing, and then the very last one is “¿ mon seul dÈsir” and it’s got a little pavilion with “¿ mon seul dÈsir” written around it and the lady taking her jewelry and locking it in a casket with the unicorn sitting by. And it’s very Christian typological stuff where she’s taking each one of her senses and locking it up and devoting it to the unicorn, which is Christ pretty much. So the art direction seems to have picked up on it. Again, it’s subtle because they’re books for everybody. They’re supposed to speak to everybody regardless of faith, but she’s definitely… the unicorns are where I think you can really see some of the very strong typological stuff that she is clearly using, no question.

JG: For me, the power of the beast… I’m not a biologist. I did all right, guys, in that, but for me it was going to the cloisters…

MA: Mmm.

JG: … and standing in front of these things, these magnificent things. They’re usually not… they’re more faded than you’d expect, even though they’re less faded than if you really thought about it [laughs] than they should be or whatever. They’re magnificent, beautiful pieces of art, and yet you feel like you’re standing in front of an icon that they’re really a transparency to something much greater than themselves, obviously. That is, I think, what we get inside the story with the magical creatures, not to me so much the biological reference, real world reference, as so much the transparency to something which is transcendent. She does the same thing with the hippogriff, which she borrows from Ariosto, but you’re getting something more powerful than just the beast. Hence I think the dragon, which is so much larger than life and so powerful when it’s been abused by a human being and then is liberated by another human being in its own situation, and they rise out of that together. A magnificent image of transcendence. I mean, basically they’re underground… it’s very much representative of the phoenix in Chamber of Secrets, where they ride out with Fawkes, ascending on Fawkes… it’s another image of Christ, this ascending with that. Here is this white dragon… something like revelations, liberating them at the end of the series. Again, if you’re heart doesn’t leap at that [laughs] and doesn’t… maybe not screaming and swearing like Ron or crying like Hermione, but you’re just elated at the liberation and you’re sent into the sky after being underground and in danger. That’s a use of these beasts, which… again, it’s a post modern myth. She’s using these things to give you that same kind of experience outside of our energy and matter matrix. Forgive me for making this speech here. I want to hear, Jason, the unicorn stuff.

JC: Yes.

JG: What do you do when… do students ask you and say, “Are there real world pictures of these things? Do they exist? Are they extinct now? Are these like dinosaurs?”

JC: Yes.

JG: What are they…

JC: Yes. And they do ask a lot of questions because they’re curious about what was and the connection to what we have today. When you have something like a unicorn that is rooted in reality – it’s an equine; it’s a horse of some type – once again, when I look at how they portrayed the unicorn… and your original point was that you don’t see them that often in the books and I do want to echo what I heard, that the rarity is important because that means that it’s precious. They allude… the rarity of them and their appearances in the books and in the movies is it shows that there [are] precious few, and when you lose one, that is dangerous to, dare I say, genetic diversity of a population because you have a very small [number]. But when you think about what the unicorn is possibly based on, and anecdotally they think it’s… a rhinoceros may have been the root.

MA: Yes. I’d heard that.

JC: And when you look at… this is so exactly what is happening right now.

MA: I know.

JC: There are… so many species of rhinos are on the brink of extinction, and when one is poached… and what you saw in the movie was poaching because there is a cultural significance for what they wanted from that unicorn. They didn’t want the whole unicorn as a whole organism; they wanted a… the organism was poached for a significant medical significance. It was very significant, that part. And that is exactly why rhinos are poached. They take the horn, the whole animal is left behind, and that is… once again, we have that vulnerability of something very big, very powerful, a very powerful figure as far as an animal goes, and it’s poached by man for something very specific, whether it be… in rhinos, they use them for the handle of a dagger in a cultural coming-of-age type ritual, or Chinese medicine, ancient Chinese medicine.

MA: But basically greed.

JC: Yes.

MA: In some ways, it’s very suitable that Voldemort goes after the unicorn blood out of his own greed and selfishness because this is what you see when people do… and poaching is a major thing with tigers too…

JC: Yes.

MA: … but I’m just listening to you talking about rhinoceroses and I’m thinking, “Oh, Jason, don’t. You’re breaking my heart.”

[JC laughs]

MA: Because it’s so horrible.

JC: Exactly.

MA: Because it’s so terrible.

JC: It is.

MA: It is. That is a definite… and this is one of those things where dragons aren’t real, but what they represent are real. Unicorns may not be real, but, as you point out, some people think that the idea of the unicorn partially comes from somebody going and seeing a rhinoceros and then really just describing it extremely…

JC: Correct.

MA: … badly.

[JC and MA laugh]

MA: So, yeah.

KH: I want to switch gears a little bit here, get off this subject and get onto a couple of others. There’s a couple of more topics that I want to discuss on this show. One of the main ones has to do with the upcoming film series.

MA: Oh, yes.

KH: This is what the fans are excited for, and this show is going to naturally attract… the title of the show is naturally going to attract those fans that are looking, “Hey, what about the beasts that are going to be shown in the Fantastic Beasts film series?” So we know that Newt Scamander is going to be doing this and going back into the 1920s area where he started to search the world for these animals. And we did hear rumors that it might take place somewhere in New York.

MA: Mhm.

KH: Based on what I’m understanding, the only… one of the few creatures that we know of that is located in the Americas is the Clabbert, which is like a cross between a frog and a monkey with this big purple pustule on his head that lights up when there is danger. What do you think is going to be shown in this new film series on beasts? What do you think we’re going to see? Are we going to see this whole new line of beasts like the Clabberts, or do you think it’s going to be focused more on just the tale of Newt himself?

MA: I actually think they’re going to use the opportunity to show all kinds of creatures, some of which may not appear in Fantastic Beasts because, remember, that’s a textbook that doesn’t represent the full sum of everything that Newt has seen and done. He doesn’t talk much about the werewolf registry either, and he invented it.

[MA and JG laughs]

MA: I mean, he briefly refers to it. He is the one who created the werewolf registry. So I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know if they will, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we just see Newt going all around the world like Carmen Sandiego and bringing in maybe some kind of Aztec type creatures. That would be really neat if we got ourselves some plumed serpents. I’m sure there [are] all kinds of things that you could do with animals that are distinct to North America. I want to hear that possums have some kind of magical significance…

[JG laughs]

MA: … because they have certainly gone far outside of their original range. I live in southern California; they are all over the place where I am. So I think she can do some interesting stuff with that. And of course, New York eventually became the site of the UN. Everything winds up in New York sooner or later, [laughs] so she can just jump off forever.

JG: Yeah, what’s living in the sewer, Keith? I mean, there has got to be stuff living in the sewers. Here is my thing about this latest interview where she talked about how it wasn’t really her idea that came to her, the idea… they wanted something spun out of Fantastic Beasts. And I thought to myself, that is unusual in that you know this film… which is going to be, what? It’s going to be Indiana Jones fights Godzilla with wands. This is going to be a super adventure film with a lot of crazy characters. This is going to be the most expensive CGI budget film that Warner Bros. has ever done around the Harry Potter stuff. It’s going to be just wild green screen stuff.

MA: Cannot wait. Cannot wait.

[MA and JG laughs]

MA: It’s going to be great.

JG: But I’m saying that I was surprised that they said, “Hey, we’re willing to spend a billion dollars to make a billion dollars.” And I can just see her say, “Okay, buddy, you thought the fire scene inside the Room of Requirement was bad in Deathly Hallows. Wait until you see what I’m going to write for this guy.” Anyway, I can imagine that this is going to be, Keith, the all-out thing. And things like the werewolf transformation? That’s going to be just a small piece. There is certainly going to be a werewolf inside this thing.

MA: Oh, should be. There has to be. [laughs]

JG: Really, there has to be. There has got to be a werewolves from London piece. Every film director wants to do those scenes, and here we’ve got an expert on werewolves.

MA: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

JG: Tell me, what is special about the werewolves here?

MA: Well, of course, for me it started out with… I’m a very squeamish person, actually. I mean, that is really kind of sad that I have had to watch all these werewolf movies because I have to click through them frame by frame [laughs] and stop, right? But for me, the real point of attraction is Lupin and I found out that he belongs to a very specific type of werewolf in sort of 20th century werewolf mythology. Because most of it is made up; that is the thing. The idea of all of the things that you think you know about werewolves are things that were pretty much invented after 1920, and a lot of it comes out of The Wolf Man including things like Larry Talbot who is the main character in that saying things like, “You don’t understand what it is to be me.” Wolfsbane is when they invented that, and it’s funny that in most werewolf movies – and I mean to this day – there is always what I call “that is ridiculous” or “don’t be ridiculous” moment. In An American Werewolf in London… and she explicitly said that her werewolf transformation sequence is based on the one in An American Werewolf in London, which is just iconic. Everything in werewolf transformations is either before that or after that, and there is a moment in An American Werewolf in London in which the dead friend is appearing to the guy who has become a werewolf and he is explaining all the things about being a werewolf. There’s always this scene and he says something about, “Well, do I need a silver bullet?” and his friend says, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!”

[JG and MA laugh]

MA: And there’s always this thing… yeah! And there’s always this thing where they’ll pick and choose. They’ll say, “Okay, we’re going to use the…” most people don’t use the pentagram anymore. “We’ll use the wolfsbane, we’ll use the infection by bite, we’ll use these other things, but here’s this one thing, we’re not going to use it, don’t be ridiculous. And as soon as I started to learn that, I realized why it was that people kept putting something about silver in to Lupin fanfics and that’s because it belongs in the same little list of stuff you’ve got to have about werewolves. But silver, as it turned out, was her “don’t be ridiculous.” [laughs] That werewolves have… her werewolves have nothing to do with silver. I really… [sighs] werewolves are really interesting. They go… well, obviously, I think they are, but this idea of being able to shift skins and having something inside that is not acceptable, that some sense of violence or some kind of horrible monster inside, the beast within, I find they’re possibly the most relatable of the classic monsters. I mean, I have a hard time identifying with vampires; I’m just not pretty enough. But the idea of having some…

[JG laughs]

MA: Well, having some kind of anger or some kind of thing of, “If you knew what kind of a person I was, you couldn’t really like me,” and Lupin really has that quality. And I started doing my work looking at that and thinking about a character in John Webster’s play, The Duchess of Malfi. And he’s a very violent, very terrible man and after he’s had his own sister killed, he looks down on her body and clearly something clicks in his head and he’s never right afterwards. And somebody describes him; a doctor who has been brought in to cure him says that the Duke was found digging up bodies in the churchyard and it says, “Said he was a wolf, only the difference was his skin – their skin was hairy on the outside, his on the inside. Bade them, take up their sword, rip up his flesh, and try.” So that if you… in other words, if you cut him, you would see the wolf skin turned inside, that the inside is where the fur is. The inside is where the horrible thing is. And that with Lupin, she intentionally chose that… she finally revealed what his Patronus is and it’s a wolf, and she said on Pottermore that here’s our image of what wolves are like. They’re horrible, they’re beastial, and angry, and they wolf things down, and they’re violent. Then what wolves really are, which is they’re very family oriented, they’re… they form these pair bonds for life, and that Lupin can’t bear to… the reason you never see him personally cast his own Patronus, you never really quite see it, is because he’s ashamed of that quality in himself. But they’re really so versatile and she does such interesting things with her werewolves, and she really keeps mute on what she’s going to pick. She clearly picked the infection by bite model, which is a fairly recent development. If you read older werewolf stories, they’re very often either somebody has been cursed by somebody or they’ve made a deal with some kind of infernal power to have this ability to shift skins. But the idea that it’s something that… that it’s a kind of disease is something that she’s picked up on and they use it in Buffy, the idea that a werewolf is a person twenty-seven days out of the month. It’s just for some reason, the figure of Lupin, this person who is very flawed, very damaged, and yet tries so hard to be the best teacher he can possibly be and the best person he can possibly be, I found him a really compelling character and I think that’s what made me actually start investigating werewolves. It really was all about Lupin because in terms of all the blood and [roars] I can leave it alone.

[JG and MA laugh]

MA: It’s not my… I’m not a horror movie watcher, actually. I prefer something…

JG: Here’s my question for you as the Lupin and werewolf expert here.

MA: Mhm.

JG: Werewolves, to me, even though they’re really a 20th century invention, as you say, especially in literature, they’re gothic.

MA: Oh, yes.

JG: There’s this idea that there’s a… as you say, there’s a fallen man within you. The inner person is sick and degenerate and you can’t see that person, but it will come out with some sort of natural trigger.

MA: Mhm.

JG: And it is predictable and it’s definite that this person is that way and that we recognize that, as you say, and identify with this person that isn’t all that he seems. But then there’s the psychological thing, which Freud really brings out…

MA: Yes.

JG: … with his case… I can’t pronounce his name, Sergei Pankejeff, the Wolf Man and his thing where this wealthy Russian family… he becomes depressed and he seeks out counseling with Freud and he builds this whole idea of psychosexual development around this Wolf Man case. Is that a piece of this as well? I don’t know which came first. Was Freud building on the Wolf Man image that was already growing or is this something that people who read Freudian literature… Keith, help me out here.

KH: Well, I know what you’re saying. Is it based on that or… I’ll finish up the one part of my thought on this.

JG: Sure.

KH: She actually brings it up for more of a sympathy character.

MA: Very much so.

KH: Because you don’t… people are inflicted with blood conditions all the time in the world.

MA: Exactly.

KH: HIV, AIDS, things like this, and the way that people treat these people that are inflicted is almost a fear because they… number one is the stigma that just surrounds blood itself, thoughts and beliefs on what blood actually represents, and so I think she brings out Lupin as this character to make you feel more sympathetic for a blood-borne condition similar to AIDS and HIV and understand that people who have this affliction are not bad people and they shouldn’t be treated like a disease. They’re actually good people and it doesn’t change who they are. That’s how I interpret her.

MA: And I think that’s right. She specifically said that she had an HIV model in her mind and I can really say that, although it’s funny, I’ve met a lot of people who feel some kind of special connection with Lupin and for whom they will say, “Oh, he’s my favorite character.” I’ve actually… I know, it’s silly. I’ve put on a little mustache and people say I look good. But it’s funny.

[JG laughs]

MA: People come up to Snape and they want to do all kinds of inappropriate things, but they walk up to somebody dressed as Lupin and they just want to give him a big hug because… and almost everybody I know who really loves this character can identify in some way of having some quality, some kind of traumatic experience or some kind of disability or some kind of experience, something that is in the inside that no one can see. I was at Ascendio and I gave this little talk, and it was a difficult one to give, and I saw a lot of heads nodding and afterwards I felt, “Wow, I don’t know whether that was good or not because people were very quiet.” And it turned out that people were crying because I didn’t see that one of the women who was at that arrived in a scooter. I didn’t know from looking at a couple of these people who came up to me later that they had some kind of traumatic experience or some kind of personal wound that made them particularly love the character. But at the same time, though, yes, she shows us her pitiable werewolf, right? Somebody who has this quality. So we don’t quite believe. We’ve seen him transform, we see all this, the sheer possibility, but it isn’t until we meet Fenrir Greyback and we learn that, in fact, he was the person who bit Lupin, that we get the flipside of the coin and that there are, in fact, people out there who are bad. And so there are two kinds of werewolves out there – there’s the kind who sort of transcend it or push it to one side, and then there are people like Fenrir Greyback and he seems to really revel in hurting and in blood. The description of both Lupin’s and Greyback’s voice is really interesting. She describes Lupin’s as having a slight hoarseness, but Greyback clearly has spent a lot of time living as a wolf by choice because Harry describes that voice as being a sharp, rasping bark of a voice and that he’s made himself into something less than human, which you don’t have to be bitten by a werewolf to do. That’s obviously a human choice, to become more than what you are or to become like an animal. So…

JG: This is, I think, where I get involved with the magical beasts, is really that they’re allegorical figures.

MA: Yes, they are.

JG: We’re meant to move through the beastliness of these things and see whatever quality it is – especially if it’s a human being who is a cross with a beast, a half-giant or a werewolf or whatever. These characters, we look into them and we ally with the text.

MA: Yes.

JG: And somehow we experience what they’re experiencing, and, as you say, then we get the contraries. You’ve got a choice here.

MA: Yes.

JG: You’re a werewolf, whether you like it or not, right? There are some parts that you don’t present to the public all the time, and you see that in the character and you go, “Oh, I’ve got a choice here. I can be a Lupin or I can be a Fenrir.”

MA: Exactly.

JG: It’s as if she presents it as a fair choice. It’s not as if anybody sits back and says, “Well, maybe I’d like to be a little bit more like Fenrir.”

MA: No.

JG: Nobody goes there. It’s almost like a morality play, where you enter into this story and you’re being transformed by that. Now, you do see Lupin act a little bit like Fenrir.

MA: Yes.

JG: When he wants to dump Tonks and the baby.

MA: Yes.

JG: And what’s so great about that moment, where he slams Harry against the wall or whatever, he blasts him, and he leaves the House of Black, is we get to see why people suddenly feared werewolves.

MA: Yes.

JG: This guy has got pieces missing.

MA: Yes.

JG: He really is messed up.

MA: And Harry says that he saw for the first time the shadow of a wolf across his human face. Absolutely, yeah, that’s true. There’s this sudden recognition of “Wow, this is something…” and he’s even volunteering, in a way, at that moment, to kind of be Harry’s Fenrir. “You know what I am; you know what I’m capable of.” And Harry, aside from sending him back to his wife and child, which clearly is essential, in rejecting that, he’s doing Lupin a favor. Lupin doesn’t know this, but he’s doing Lupin a favor by not letting him become Fenrir, and by extension, not letting Harry become Voldemort. I’ve been working away [on] my book on werewolves in Harry Potter, and, to me, Lupin is really a wounded healer in the Henri Nouwen sense, in the sense that in order to really be a good teacher, his qualities as a teacher and his qualities of compassion, which… when I think of myself as a teacher, what I try to do is I try to use Lupin as a model in some ways, and one of them is “In disability is strength,” or “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” that he uses that experience as a way of connecting with compassion to his students. He can connect with Harry and help him face his fears. He can help Neville face his fears because that’s his first lesson.

JG: Absolutely.

MA: You can’t learn if you’re in a state of fear. And he picks Neville on purpose. That whole scene where he… face your fears,ù make it funny, which is why when people make Lupin into an angsty character, I kind of think, “Yup, this is a guy who shoves a wad of gum into Peeves’s nostril, right?”

JG: [laughs] Yeah.

MA: And he can teach Harry to face Dementors because he’s got his own thing. In other words, it’s a four point thing. It’s teach through doing and also use humor to diffuse the situation, because Snape is no good at humor, right? He’s all about terrifying the heck out of your students, right? Which doesn’t work real well. And then the very last one is using the spots of weakness that we all have as a way of connecting with students and connecting with the rest of the world. So for me, that’s a really powerful model. Lupin as a teacher, Lupin as a human being is this access to a spot of woundedness, not as a… as an unavoidable part of being human, ironically. Here’s a monster, but you identify with him or you care about him not because he’s a monster but because he is a person and that he connects with that. And also the idea of illness, as Keith has pointed out on the opposite side, that werewolves partly become werewolves in the sense that they are because of the way they’re treated by society, that when you marginalize people because of a disability or something they can’t help, they become so much worse. It becomes partly a problem with that. So anyway, I’ve found that one of her things that she does with lycanthropy is using this idea of prejudice against disability, all kinds, and also of using traumatic experience as a way of becoming a better person.

KH: Jason, I want to get your input on these werewolves. What’s your take on the werewolves and their backstory and how it relates to Lupin?

JG: I wanted to ask, Jason, the same thing, before Jason does this. Werewolves – we’re talking about them as entirely metaphor, right? We’re talking about them as HIV people, as a Dickensian transparency for the downtrodden or whatever. Wolves – do you ever get to talk about wolves with these things, or are they just metaphors?

JC: Wow.

JG: I’m sorry to jump in, Jason.

JC: No, that’s okay. I think that just the image of a predator is very frightening to people, especially with wolves threatening… the origin of werewolves, I want to say, was in the late 1500s, was connected to a mass murderer who drank the blood of his victims, or at least he claimed to do that before he was executed, but there is a lot of connections between not only clinical lycanthropy, where there’s a psychosis involved, but also the genetic disorder hypertrichosis, which is informally known as werewolf syndrome, when people are just covered in hair, and whether… I think a lot of it has to do with… the full moon image and things like that, I just think a lot of it has to do with these people who are afflicted with things like genetic disorders or afflictions like Rowling’s mother with multiple sclerosis, where they’re viewed differently by the world who don’t know that person as a person, and I think the werewolf is just a… it’s basically an objectification of what that person stands for. And I know… the famous hypertrichosis example was Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy who was a famous sideshow act, and owning that and using it as a career and becoming famous for it and things like that, coming out of the shadows. But they were very careful with a lot of the – quote, unquote – “freak shows” to not allow people to get to know you personally. They wanted you to inspire shock and awe. And I think that fuels a lot of where these myths come from. But the fact that the wolf has always been the bane of a farmer’s existence, I think that leads into its connection with this terrible beast that will hunt you once a month, [laughs] rear its ugly head.

MA: Well, also there’s the fear of real wolves as well.

JC: Yes.

MA: I mean, this is something that I pick up the newspaper and there’s something about, say, delisting wolves…

JC: Mhm.

MA: … or wolf calls and things. And partly because the werewolf I feel very strongly… I feel like that about all animals, obviously, but it’s really the sort of human fear of wolves seems to be so long running. I would love to hear what you have to say about actual real wolves in connection with some of this.

JC: As far as their social structure and…

MA: Or just humans, just human perception of wolves, and yeah, their social structure. They’re just really interesting.

JC: Sure. Wolves have a social structure that is more complex than meets the eye with… and most people know that they travel in groups and they have packs and they have alpha males and alpha females and they have a hierarchy of… and from what I see from wolves, I see them from a zoo standpoint where we’re looking at managed populations, where we’re attempting to keep them in a controlled setting so that we can hopefully increase their population where they’re needed, and they have different personalities. And it’s funny that we’re introduced in the books to werewolves really for the first significant character is a positive character, a good character, in Lupin. And yet, we… but there are bad ones out there, too. And I think that it has a lot to do with how we look at wild species like wolves. There [are] individual personalities that show up. There is a group of Mexican Grey wolves at a zoo and we just have one heck of a time introducing a new individual because they’re just so tightly connected to each other and they don’t want anybody else in their group, and it’s very difficult to be accepted into their group. And I’m sure we’ve all felt that, where we’re… somebody always feels that kind of connection. And I think being an outcast – like Lupin felt for so long even though his affliction was a small part of him, I guess you would say, where normally he wasn’t this terrible beast – I think speaks to the nature of a wolf. A nature of a wolf is how often are they – quote, unquote – “terrible.” Are they hunting and fighting and all that all the time, or are they caring parents? I think there’s a difference between a terrible bloodthirsty beast and a caring parent, which obviously if you’re going to survive as a species you need to be both. And that is mirrored in these stories where you have the inner… all of us… I think Sirius Black was the one that said, “We all have both dark and light inside of us.”

MA: Mhm. It’s funny because I live not too far away from the La Brea Tar Pits and there’s just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dire wolf skulls on the wall there. And I found out so many interesting things about that, including some individuals who clearly had had broken jaws that had healed, which means that some things… the rest of the pack was hunting for it and bringing it food. So on the one hand, they’re not exactly cuddly. You don’t want to say, “Yay, let’s make some dire wolves and keep them as pets.” But at the same time, they have this…

[JG laughs]

MA: Yeah, I just assume not. But at the same time, here you have an actual… from what I understand because I’m not a biologist, you have some actual proof in the skeletons that they obviously really… to the extent that you can say that animals love each other, that they care for each other, that this is… so yeah, it’s so fascinating.

JG: I want to go around the room here before we run out of time. I want to know which magical creature you want to see in the film. Keith? Keith, have you got one? Are you looking for an Oliphant? What are you looking for here?

KH: That’s a really good question, and it came up to me kind of a surprise there.

JG: Sorry! Sorry there, big guy.

KH: That’s okay. No, it’s fine. I want to see a Niffler. I want to see a Hinkypunk.

JG: [laughs] That’s great.

KH: And I want to see a really cool dragon that we haven’t seen before. I’m not sure which. And I’d love to see a Nargle too, but they don’t exist.

MA: What I really want to see is an Australian Opaleye because they’re one of the dragons, right?

KH: Antipodean.

MA: Yes, the only Antipodean dragon, and it sounds beautiful. She’s got so many Australian species that of course you never see, like Billywigs. Billywigs, Australian Opaleyes… I’m just hoping that Newt goes Crocodile Dundee on us at least once because there’s so many cool things that we could see down there. And yeah, I want to see myself some Australian fantastic beasts because I think that’ll be cool.

KH: Jason?

JC: Well, I really need to see an Erumpent because I want to see that horn.

MA: [laughs] Oh!

JG: There you go!

JC: I want to know, is that horn… was that a horn in the Lovegoods’ house? I really want to know if that was a…

JG: Is that a narwhal?

[JC laughs]

JG: Is that a narwhal from hell? What is that thing? I’m with you.

JC: Well, Erumpents… I love rhinos. I have a soft spot for rhinoceros, and it looks a lot… it sounds a lot like a rhinoceros, so I would love to see… I love those connections to real things in our world. I think that that really… those little connections are just really cool. They’re just cool. That’s the word I was looking for: cool.

[MA laughs]

JC: And I really like those connections because they make it real for the reader, and they say, “Well, that’s not all that farfetched.” It is a nice connection to the real… to what we’ve already been exposed to. So I definitely, definitely want to see that.

JG: We haven’t seen many five X.

MA: Oh.

JG: We’ve seen the dragon, the basilisk, or whatever. But there’s a five X thing in the books that we haven’t seen in the films and that’s a Quintaped, also known as a Hairy MacBoon.

[JC laughs]

MA: Oh! Those would be funny. I know what you…

JG: Now, I’m guessing that… its low-slung body is covered with thick, reddish brown hair, as are its five legs, each of which ends in a club foot, okay? And it’s only found on the Isle of Drear off the northernmost tip of Scotland. Now, I’m guessing that this is going to be the opening of the film. He’s going to go from Hogwarts on a field trip or whatever, and he’s going to find the Isle of Drear, and we’re going to see this Hairy MacBoon.

[JC and MA laugh]

JG: Which to me sounds like transparency for the ugliest of Scots that she hates the most or whatever. That’s what I’m looking for from the book. I thought, a Quintaped is a five X beast that we’ve never seen or heard about, really.

MA: It’s funny because a lot of my ancestry is northern Scotland, just like that. It’s highlands and islands, and I remember going and visiting up there, just went to Mull, which is where my great-grandfather was born, and it’s March and it’s miserable…

JG: Oh.

MA: … and it’s wet and it’s cold, and I just thought, “Now I know why they left.”

[JC and MA laugh]

MA: But yeah, Hairy MacBoon – as soon as I read that, I thought, “I’d believe that.” [laughs]

JG: That’s right.

MA: I would easily believe that.

JG: By the way, it’s going to be a great CGI moment, right? You’re going to have this kid at Hogwarts or whatever, assuming he’s a teacher there and he’s going to take a group like Hagrid; he’s going to take them out to go see a Quintaped to see what they’re actually like, and it’s going to be totally out of control because these are vicious animals.

MA: Well, of course, it will be. Of course he was the headmaster at one point, too, so… and the opportunities for all kinds of cool things like Hogwarts field trip, yes. So that could easily… I could see that going very badly very quickly. [laughs]

JG: And maybe we’ll see that in the beginning and then, Keith, we’re going to find out that someone brought an egg home or something like that and threw it into their New York sewer and there it is again.

MA: [gasps] Oh. See, now that’s so much…

JG: A Hairy MacBoon kind of thing.

MA: In the sewers of New York. Wow, that sounds like it would be really terrifying. [laughs]

KH: I really think this movie series is going to be more in lines with the people of Newt and who he runs across more so than the beasts, but who knows? Obviously there’s going to be something in there. I don’t know what she has up her sleeve for this. It’s going to be interesting either way, but that does it for this show. I do want to say that if you like what you hear, feel free to go to iTunes and give us a customer review. We’ve had a couple of reviews recently. I’ll read them off here. From Mimi4*, she said:

“So informative and enlightening! ‘MuggleNet Academia’ is the kind of podcast that can be listened to over and over without becoming a bore at all. The subjects that are brought up and the discussions that are created through them are so interesting to listen to, and the hosts are very knowledgable about the ‘Potter’ universe. The guest speakers always contribute so much to the conversations! I find myself looking forward to new episodes and relistening to old ones all the time.”

MA: Oh, wow.

JG: Whoa.

KH: Thank you very much, Mimi. We also had a nice one from Samuel Murphy, who said:

“‘MuggleNet Academia’ is my new addiction. Keith Hawk and John Granger bring on interesting guests each episode to help bring insight into the world of ‘Harry Potter’. They (along with ‘Alohomora!’) keep my work day moving and stimulate my brain at the same time! Thanks, guys!”

And that just throws it over to the other podcasts on MuggleNet. We have four podcasts on MuggleNet. We have obviously our show, MuggleNet Academia. We have Alohomora!, the global reread. Right now, they’re getting towards the end of Goblet of Fire. They do a chapter a week. It’s very interesting reading. They have a special guest on as well, or fan guest on, with the hosts. We have MuggleNet AudioFictions, which is fan fictions that are read from fans and the readings are done in the voices of the characters – so when Ron speaks, it’s actually in Ron’s voice. I mean, it’s really kind of interesting to hear, and the people behind that are just so talented as voice talents. And then we have Hogwarts Radio, which is an overall Potterverse news, fandom discussion of what’s going on in the world of Potter. So make sure you listen to all of our podcasts. They’re all great and informative, and we really appreciate you listening to the show. But thank you very much, guys. It was really interesting, and this subject is going to probably be brought up again closer…

[Show music begins]

KH: … or after we see the first movie so we can discuss the beasts that are brought into discussion. So I look forward to having a follow-up show with both of you, if that’s…

JC: Love to.

MA: Can’t wait.

KH: Great. All right, well, John, thank you very much. Good job as always.

JG: Pleasure.

KH: From MuggleNet.com, my name is Keith Hawk.

JG: I’m John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor and author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures.

MA: I’m Melissa Aaron or Moonyprof at California Polytechnic State University at Pomona.

JC: And I’m Jason Crean from Lyons Township High School and Saint Xavier University.

[Show music continues]

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