["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Andrew: Because we finished reading The Casual Vacancy - at least one of us did - this is MuggleCast Episode 259 for October 28th, 2012.
[Show music begins]
Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 259. Eric, Selina, Micah, and I are all here this week. Hello gentlemen and lady.
Andrew: Fair lady.
Eric: This is so odd...
Selina: I know. [laughs]
Eric: ...seeing you, Andrew, in your Google headband and monocle.
Andrew: Yeah, we're doing a Google Hangout chat to talk. It's fun.
Andrew: I like it.
Micah: It's interesting, we're all dressed up for Halloween.
Micah: I'm not... except for Selina. I'm not quite sure what she is.
Andrew: I don't even see Selina.
Selina: I know.
Eric: Selina is a black hole.
Selina: Well, mine was just a green screen, so I turned it off because that was weird.
Selina: Look, I'm just green.
Andrew: Maybe your camera is just broken.
Selina: Maybe. So, I was like whatever. [laughs]
Andrew: Eric, could you get closer to your mic? You're still low compared to everybody else.
Eric: Sorry, I have to...
Andrew: That's much better.
Eric: I pretty much have to hold the mic like this.
Eric: What do you have? You have like a mechanical arm.
Eric: Dude, I'm just going to get one of those.
Andrew: Yeah, you should.
Andrew: So, we have some news to catch up on and we also are going to talk about The Casual Vacancy. A couple of people have finished it. Not everybody, however.
Selina: Nope. [laughs]
Andrew: [laughs] And we have some emails to... wait, did you not finish it, Selina?
Selina: No. [laughs]
Andrew: Oh no.
Micah: Do you know what happens though?
Eric: You were the closest!
Selina: No. [laughs]
Andrew: Yeah, you were the closest. What happened?
Selina: I didn't read anything. [laughs]
Eric: The ball has been dropped.
Andrew: So, it all comes down to Micah. [laughs] The MuggleCast review of The Casual Vacancy is actually the Micah review of The Casual Vacancy.
Micah: All right.
Andrew: So, we'll talk about that in a little bit, but first the news. Micah, what is happening in the world of Harry Potter this month?
Micah: Well, it's really the world of JK Rowling, [laughs] not the world of Harry Potter...
Micah: ...because she's been out on her promotional tour for The Casual Vacancy and she made a stop in New York City a couple of weeks ago. And some of us were there.
Andrew: Yeah, how was that?
Micah: It was good. It's always good to kind of see everybody get together, minus a few obviously - Andrew and Selina, we didn't see you there - but it was kind of like a mini reunion...
Micah: ...of sorts. It was kind of like Chicago all over again, but with a few less people. And it was fun. Not to be too critical of the person doing the interviewing, but I didn't find her that engaging, and I'm forgetting her name right now but she really... she seemed to be way more of a fan than a professional, and so... I mean, I can understand that being in the presence of JK Rowling and being responsible for interviewing her, but I really felt like it was more about her [laughs] and less about JK Rowling, and she talked way too much and JK Rowling didn't talk quite enough.
Eric: Well, authors tend to have a shorthand that they talk to each other in sometimes because this...
Micah: Like a pimp hand?
Eric: No, a shorthand. [laughs] A pimp hand. No, it's a vernacular, it's vocab. So, they talk to you... so, she was asking... I think her name was Ann and she was an author and she was asking Jo about her creative process and things like that, and so some of the questions she would ask I found that I was very interested in because I like to look into writing and I found those questions interesting. But there was... I was uncomfortable at certain times when she was just talking about her own writing and her own work, and here I am wanting to learn more about JK Rowling. So, if they had a time limit - and they did - I feel like it could have been better used to ask even more questions of JK Rowling because getting your book signed... that was not the time to ask Jo a question. If you wanted to have your question asked, it needed to be done... submitted in the weeks prior. And the questions that... well, some of the questions that Jo was being asked during the event were submitted, but on the whole - and they even joked about this - she had a stack of cards with everybody's questions on it and really probably only got to about five of them that night, out of fifteen or twenty it looked like.
Andrew: I think it's important, though, to have somebody who is really excited about being in the presence of JK Rowling though.
Eric: That's true.
Andrew: You know?
Eric: That's true because she, in a way, then represented all of us who were...
Eric: ...just as excited.
Micah: Yeah, but I think the other part of it, though... you have to remember that the people there paid to see JK Rowling.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: They didn't pay to see Ann Patchett, that was her name.
Andrew: They only paid thirty-five bucks, though. [laughs]
Micah: I know, but how many opportunities do you get to see JK Rowling and to listen to her talk? I thought overall it was great, though. She read from a passage in The Casual Vacancy and really that part that Eric talked about, that Q&A...
[Drum roll plays]
Micah: ...was very, very short, from the fans themselves.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, that definitely was. And even the reading. She did a reading...
Eric: But I found the whole evening was kind of short. We ended up waiting quite a while afterwards to get our stuff signed, but...
Micah: The hour deadline... I say deadline, but that's kind of what it was like. They stuck to that hour time frame very, very strictly. It literally ended right at nine o'clock and they moved it over to the signing portion.
Andrew: And that's obviously because JK Rowling had a lot of books to sign, I'm sure.
Eric: Two thousand, yes.
Micah: Just a few.
Eric: A thousand more than she was even going to and I'm so glad that she still decided to do that for everybody, but...
Selina: Did she sign everybody's books?
Eric: Yeah, she signed every one.
Selina: Oh, man.
Eric: And not only that, everybody got a new copy of the book because there's no way to facilitate "bring your own Casual Vacancy," whatever. They had... we all got a brand new book and it was already... the flap was already in the page so that you just open it up and it was right to the page that Jo would sign, which is the fifth or sixth page.
Andrew: So, Eric, what did you say to Jo?
Eric: So... [laughs]
Eric: I'm laughing because...
Eric: ...I asked Micah this question afterwards. No, no, no, I asked Micah... I'm going to... I don't want ruin this, I don't want to spoil this for Micah, but I asked him afterwards. I was like, "So, Micah, what did you say to Jo?" and he says, "Uhhh, you know, nothing."
[Andrew and Selina laugh]
Eric: And I was like, "What do you mean?" and he was like, "Oh, you know, I may have said thank you afterwards."
Micah: I did say thank you.
Andrew: Were you speechless, Micah?
Micah: No, it goes by very, very quickly and what else are you going to say? I said thank you and... she actually fumbled with the book when she was giving it back to me, so...
Andrew: She was nervous to meet you.
Eric: Whoa, you had that effect on her.
Micah: Yeah. [laughs]
Andrew: But... well, Eric, what did you say?
Eric: Yeah, I said... I had a script, I had a thing that I played with while I was waiting in line. I knew that we'd only have three to five seconds.
Eric: So, I came up with this speech and I didn't introduce myself. Several other people from MuggleNet were like, "Hey, I'm so and so from MuggleNet," and she was like, "I love MuggleNet!" and stuff. I didn't waste that time. I basically said... what did I say? "Thank you for continuing to put pen to paper. You have a wonderful voice," - meaning writing voice - and, "I love your simile and metaphor."
Eric: And she said thank you.
Eric: That was it. That was what I did. And as she was signing the book... and then I got pushed to leave, so that was it.
Eric: But that was really... that was what I was looking forward to the most out of this event. We can criticize the...
Andrew: Yeah, definitely.
Eric: ...question and answer, or whatever, but actually just being able to thank her in person - there's the eye contact, that kind of thing - for everything that happened with Harry Potter. And it wasn't a Harry Potter event. People were not allowed to bring anything Harry Potter-wise into the line. Nothing at all. But still, I wanted to thank her in person for that impact. So, this was a good opportunity for that and I'd say it was well worth the trip.
Andrew: I did watch the video, the first fifty minutes of the event, so I got a good sense of that interviewer and the atmosphere and the audience. And it seemed like a complete... everybody there was a huge Harry Potter fan. I don't think anybody there has never read Harry Potter or...
Andrew: Yeah, they were hardcore JK Rowling fans. So... well, it seems like everybody had a good time. I had a couple of other friends who went, and they said it was a great time as well. I know when...
Micah: Well, afterwards was even better.
Micah: We went to this bar and did these Harry Potter shots.
Micah: I think we're old enough to say that at this point on the podcast.
Eric: Did you just say that afterwards was better than the JK Rowling event?
Andrew: [laughs] Because alcohol was involved.
Eric: I'm pretty sure that's what you just said, Micah. We are adults.
Andrew: I saw photos from that, the place that was doing the Harry Potter Fireball Whiskey shots or... what was that? They were on fire! The shots were on fire!
Micah: They were on fire.
Andrew: And the bartender had a Harry Potter scarf, and... good stuff.
Eric: There were incantations. He gave us a scarf, and a hat, and a wand, and we were supposed to... what is this place called? Do you remember, Micah?
Micah: It's called the Barcelona Bar.
Eric: Barcelona Bar in New York City. And this... you wouldn't be able to... it's hard to find from the outside because there's currently scaffolding on the building, but Micah's friend, Nicole... not Danielle, right?
Micah: Not Danielle. [laughs]
Eric: Not Danielle. Nicole...
Micah: Eric called her Danielle the whole time.
Eric: ...knew about this. She didn't even say anything. Nice girl, right?
Eric: Didn't even say that I had her name wrong the whole time, but... no, so they have these specialty shots from all different literature and movies and pop culture and stuff, and the Harry Potter shot involves them literally handing you these props, asking you to cast a spell, and then he lights them on fire, these... the more the merrier is just... so we had nine, and he lights them on fire and he's shouting some kind of... it was kind of adult what he was saying, weird rambling crap about Harry and his trials at Hogwarts, but then the fire just keeps going and going and going and going and eventually he blows it out and you've got this very hot, cinnamon-y, kind of apple shot to drink.
Andrew: That's awesome.
Andrew: Well, good stuff. Glad that all worked out. Did they have a... but they knew ahead of time you were coming, right? The Harry Potter...
Eric: No, they just regularly offer... and I wonder if I took any pictures of the blackboard, but it's like a chalkboard and they have all the list of all their different shots. There's an Indiana Jones shot...
Andrew: Oh, wow. This place sounds awesome.
Eric: Yeah, and they just do different things. Well, that's the thing, is the shots, I feel, really saved this place...
Eric: ...for... otherwise...
Micah: Well, it's a hole in the wall. That's what he's trying to say.
Micah: And that's what their moneymaker is, is that they do themed shots.
Andrew: Oh, okay. Cool. So, there's been lots of interviews about The Casual Vacancy and, of course, most of them have involved Harry Potter. I got to say, a lot of these interviews were very repetitive. [laughs] I've been getting very bored with each new one that comes out.
Eric: I feel bad for JK Rowling. [laughs]
Andrew: I know! And she has to answer every time like it's some big revelation that she's saying. One of the questions was, though, what will be her next book? And she does say that it is likely to be a children's book. She hasn't committed to it yet, but she has two children's books and one other adult book I think she has pretty much written at this point. And one of them, for six to seven year olds, is the one she believes is going to be her next book that's released.
Selina: I'm so relieved. [laughs] I don't think I can handle all that grown-up stuff.
Eric: Oh, really?
Andrew: But are we to be... as adults now, are we to be even excited about a book for six or seven year olds? It's just going to be some children's picture book, right?
Eric: There's no way that I'm going to get into this next book of hers. I can tell already that it's just going to be... it's going to be a great book, I'm sure, but it's not for my age type.
Andrew: Of course.
Eric: I can already see myself going, "I'm not..."
Micah: Yeah, but you'll collect it at the end of the day. You're going to go out and buy it, right?
Eric: I really don't know.
Andrew: I don't know. I don't know if I'll buy it.
Andrew: I'll definitely go to the bookstore and read it, but...
Selina: I'll buy it.
Micah: Selina is going to buy it.
Selina: Yeah, I'm going to buy it [laughs] just to... no, I think that it's going to be really interesting because I think where Jo really went out of her way this time to show that this was not Harry Potter and she was writing for adults in this really real story. I feel like now she's going to be writing for children. She's going to... she's proven herself, you know? She's going to go write something, I don't know, fantastical in some way? At least that's my hope. And while it might be for a lot smaller children, I think I'll still really enjoy it. Maybe that's just more about me, though. [laughs]
Andrew: No, yeah, it will definitely be a fun book, I would think, and something whimsical. I would have no reason to buy it, really. I mean, we're entering this era now where it's like, do I buy every JK Rowling book no matter what? Or what do I do? Do Stephen King fans...
Andrew: ...buy every single Stephen King book?
Selina: I think they do, actually. [laughs] But...
Eric: He's written like fifty of them, though.
Andrew: But that's probably because they're all for adults.
Selina: I guess that's kind of the thing, is that did The Casual Vacancy prove to you that you are, in fact, a JK Rowling fan, or are you just going to accept that you're - quote, unquote - just a Harry Potter fan? That's the difference.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. Anything else...
Micah: That's a good point.
Andrew: ...that she has said recently that's been of interest in interviews?
Eric: She had a few interesting things to say about The Casual Vacancy, like specifics about The Casual Vacancy, during that interview at the Koch Center. But otherwise, in interviews I think it's been kind of, like you said before, repetitive. Nothing terribly new and interesting about that.
Micah: Yeah, there is one Potter comment about wishing that she could still speak with Dumbledore, but I feel like that's something that she's said before in the past.
Eric: She has.
Eric: And I'm like if anybody can speak to Dumbledore still, it's JK Rowling.
[Eric and Selina laugh]
Eric: She could... I don't know why that's a complaint because she could just write a paragraph where she talks to him, or a page or two, but...
Micah: Now, we know that she hasn't ruled Potter out in the future if something does come up, but do you guys think we will see another Potter novel, whether it be ten years from now, fifteen years from now? I don't understand how she could have that much knowledge in her head and not want to go ahead and put it down on paper again if there is a good story that she can write.
Eric: I think what's in her head are the bits and pieces, the fragments of stuff, like stuff that never made it into the first book because it's not relevant. I think what she means when she said she still walks in and out of the walls of Hogwarts, and if there were a good story that came upon her as being worth telling she would tell it. I think what that means is she needs another central character because she's done with Harry. So, where in the timeline and where in that world is there another kind of story that's equally interesting, or that's going to appeal to her in the same way that Harry's hero's journey over the course of seven years at Hogwarts arrested her and got her to tell it. So, I think that's what it is. What she's looking for is another character to follow, or another journey that...
Selina: Albus Severus.
Eric: Yeah, Albus Severus. It could be Harry's direct kid or it could be somewhere else in the world at another school or maybe at an orphanage, [laughs] maybe at a senate seat of a high council.
Selina: Oh God. [laughs]
Eric: More political. It could be a more political book, it could be a vastly different book than Harry Potter but in his world, is what I...
Selina: That's kind of true, and I never really thought about that because I always assumed if she was going to go back to Potter, she would either write about Harry's children or Harry's parents or the founders of Hogwarts. I never really assumed she would go anywhere else, but you're absolutely right. She could write about Beauxbatons or something, we have no idea.
Andrew: She has said that Harry's story is finished, so...
Eric: Yeah, so...
Andrew: We'll never see more with Harry as the lead character. I do think if she does return to Harry Potter, it will be a while from now because she has said in these interviews that she has multiple books prepared in the pipeline and it seems like none of those are Harry Potter.
Eric: That's true, although there is Pottermore, and I did want to ask you guys if you've continued or finished Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore yet because quite a bit of the book is available now, isn't it?
Andrew: Yes. Yeah, I mean, I've been through it. We're going to get the final Chamber of Secrets chapters this upcoming week.
Eric: Okay. The reason I ask is because I wondered about the new content that she continues to release on there. At least, for now, that seems to be the only place where we're going to get Harry Potter content from Jo, though.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
Eric: Summarizing those interviews that she said.
Andrew: It feels like an encyclopedia is very unlikely in the near future. I think Pottermore has to be completely finished before we can even start considering the idea of an encyclopedia happening.
Micah: Yeah, I agree. And I think, from what I remember going through, I know when the next set of chapters was released for Chamber of Secrets, I did start the process of going through and looking at the new information, but I don't think I made it all the way through, so I'm not up to this next set of chapters that are going to be released in the upcoming week. But... and again, nothing kind of stood out to me, Andrew. I don't know if it did to you, about those chapters. There's no really big information that I can remember.
Andrew: No. Let me look through my notes. There was... they had... there was a new piece on King's Cross Station, there was a new piece on purebloods, new piece on Peeves, new piece on Hogwarts ghosts, and new piece on Draco Malfoy. So, there were five new sections of writing from JK Rowling, which was cool. This next one is believed to have information on the Sword of Gryffindor, the Chamber of Secrets, and ghosts. Just in time for Halloween, appropriately enough.
Eric: Well, I'd like to know more on the Chamber of Secrets for sure.
Andrew: Well, if you can't...
Micah: Well, follow the spiders.
Andrew: If you can't wait, lucky for you, there is this... I've learned in the past week there is this Pottermore hacker...
Andrew: ...and he got into the new Pottermore stuff early. And this guy is legit because he's done it before. The content that he unearthed before is real.
Andrew: His name is SnitchSpirit. He games the system to get all these extra points and stuff. It's crazy. So, I have a link there in the show notes and it goes to a Google Doc. We didn't publish it on Hypable because I didn't need Pottermore knocking and being like, [in a stern voice] "Take that down, that's illegal."
Eric: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: But it's still up on Google Docs, and we won't read it yet. We should get back to going through some of this new content.
Andrew: Because I... there's a boatload of stuff. I mean, the Chamber of Secrets and the Sword of Gryffindor entries are pretty long. I imagine the ghosts entry is pretty long as well. And as you guys recall, in Halloween years past here on MuggleCast, we've done ghost-themed episodes.
Micah: And actually, we're all dressed up for this Halloween episode. It's just that nobody can see us.
Selina: [laughs] It's so cool!
Selina: I wish I could do it, too.
Andrew: We should take a... somebody can take another picture if you want, with the bigger screen.
Eric: Selina, you should still add some effects. See if you still can add some, like, facial hair to your green screen.
Andrew: I don't think it will work, though, because Micah's didn't turn on until his full face was in the camera.
Selina: When I tried doing it before, I just started a drumroll by accident...
Selina: ...which I'm sorry about.
Eric: If you... go to props. I think it just places a prop right in the middle no matter where you are.
Selina: Oh yeah, I see it.
Eric: With the birthday cake? Click it, see if... does that work?
Micah: But... and I don't like saying this, but as it relates to Pottermore...
Micah: ...I've just... I've lost interest.
Andrew: In Pottermore?
Micah: Yeah, and I just don't find myself running to the computer maybe as I did at the beginning to see what new information she's going to put out there. It's just...
Micah: It's not that exciting.
Eric: Well, that's a personal choice. It's your personal journey through Pottermore. I think what turned me off about the Chamber of Secrets was that they're only releasing four chapters at a time, instead of doing a full book like they did with the first book.
Eric: So there's that. But I know for a fact that one day when I'm feeling the Harry Potter vibe, I'm going to go in and read it all. I will do it. I'm not going to say that somehow they're failing at interesting me. It's my own personal thing. I've got plenty of things going on in my real life: joined a gym, trying to finish Casual Vacancy, all this other stuff.
Selina: [laughs] It's a tough job.
Eric: It's not ready for... I'm not ready for Pottermore yet. I'm going to let it in and I'm going to read it all, but probably only after all of it is released. Three chapters at a time thing is killing me.
Selina: For me I feel like it was so important while the show... while the series was still going on, it was so important for me to learn every tiny little detail. But now, I'm kind of with Micah in that I'm not so excited for every little piece of information, but I still really want to know about the characters. I still really want to know more about the backstories of all these people like McGonagall and everything, but things like how ghosts work and stuff kind of feels irrelevant to me now because we don't need to use it for anything.
Eric: Yeah, because there's not going to be a new story necessarily...
Eric: ...where the ghosts... everything the ghosts were ever going to do in a Harry Potter book has already happened.
Eric: So, I guess that's what you mean.
Selina: Yes, that's what I mean.
Andrew: I think they have to release the chapters in these batches of three or four at a time because that's how people... that's when their traffic spikes. And the Pottermore CEO said that. They're trying to combat that right now, find out ways... figure out ways to get people coming back on a regular basis because they admitted that the traffic spikes when there are new chapters released, and rightfully so. I mean, imagine how much longer we would... okay, let's say they release a whole book, you tear through it in like half an hour...
Andrew: Forty-five minutes, and then you're done for six months. See you later! [laughs]
Micah: Right, they have to stagger it. That's the whole point, I agree.
Micah: And I like how they've taken a completely different approach. If you look at their marketing campaign, it's changed a little bit. Now they're trying to get people excited all over again with the whole "Follow the spiders."
Andrew: Yeah, tell us about that. So, in all seriousness, did Pottermore... did they reach out to MuggleNet, like, "Hey, put these ads on your site"?
Micah: Yeah, pretty much. [laughs] That's what they said. They said, "We're kind of really trying to gear up and get people excited about the final chapters of Chamber of Secrets," and I think that they're going to probably look to do more of that, even, moving forward, because it gives something extra. It's something that people can kind of reflect on at the same time, too, because maybe you remember it from the movies or you remember it from reading the books, and it's a cool concept. Follow the spiders, see what happens.
Eric: [as Ron] "Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies?"
Selina: Awww. [laughs]
Micah: I knew he was going to do that. I was waiting for somebody, and I figured Eric would do it.
Andrew: What else is in the news, Micah?
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