A Spoiler-Free Review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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I thought when I walked into Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that I already knew pretty much the whole storyline from the previews.  I was wrong.  The previews don’t even touch on the story.  They and the movie itself set you up to make you think you know what’s happening.  You think you know (or at least, I did) what kind of creature is terrorizing New York City.  I was so wrong.  What it was was far more intense than I had imagined.

J. K. Rowling wrote the entire screenplay herself. She didn’t give her world over and let someone else do the work, and it shows. She created an entire new concept that harmonizes perfectly with her existing series.  To my delight, the movie caters to people who have read the books.  It shows you things from the books that were left out of the movies—things you probably thought you’d never get to see.

Fantastic Beasts relies on you being very familiar with the British Wizarding world, and then it takes you and drops you smack dab into an environment, along with the main character, Newt, that it knows you are a stranger in:  Wizarding America in the 1920s.  It’s supposed to be shocking, and it works.  You have no idea what’s going on and neither does he, so you learn together.  If you enter this movie and you have no concept of the Wizarding world whatsoever, you’re going to be very, very lost, and not even Newt will be able to help you much there.  In fact, you’ll probably feel very much like the “No-Maj” character, Jacob.

The film also expects you to have certain preconceived notions about things so it can break them down.  It expects you to feel a certain way about certain types of magic, based on the people you have seen use them in the future.  It expects you to think yourself an expert on how a certain type of magical creature lives, only to sweep the rug out from under you.  It wants you to feel that Wizarding America in the 1920s is a very different place from Wizarding Britain in the 1990s.  Those nuances are only accessible to people who have at least watched the other movies before, and they are what take Fantastic Beasts beyond just a great movie and make it a work of art.

This movie expects you to be familiar with some of the history and politics of the Wizarding world.  It expects you to remember why the International Statute of Secrecy came to be.  (Hint:  Just ask Hermione.)  It expects you to already be familiar with Wizard Hitler.  (Hint:  It wasn’t Voldemort and you’ll have to sit through Harry Potter until the last film if you don’t already know.)  You should already know what Wizard Hitler stood for and why it was so easy for him to convince people to his side.

Fantastic Beasts is also very aware that the majority of your experience within the Wizarding world has been from inside a school, and it wants you to know it’s time to join the adult world now, and that that is a scary place.  This is about a world about to go to war, and there is a sense of their being very ill-equipped to deal with it.  You’ll find there are just as many issues within MACUSA as there are within the Ministry of Magic, and we are introduced to some fascinating new villains and situations.  This is meant to be one giant culture shock, but Newt is the perfect character to hold your hand through it.  He is warm, relatable, and caring, while taking almost a neutral view to the human world and its politics.  Newt is no Gryffindor, and it’s actually very refreshing to have a story told by a Hufflepuff, two American Witches, and a No-Maj.  It’s a very different perspective from what we’re used to.  And I can’t wait to see what comes next.

About Vote Trading

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It was two days before I was scheduled to vote in Florida, and I still had no idea what I was going to do.  I didn’t want to vote for Hillary, I really didn’t, but being in a swing state, I couldn’t contribute to a win for Trump by voting the way I wanted—for a third party.  I was even considering not voting at all.

Then I saw some enthusiastic friends on Facebook discussing an article about vote sharing and decided to check it out.  I thought I’d do a quick scan of the article and move on with my day, but before I knew it, I had already downloaded an app and was communicating with people from all over the country who wanted a way to use their votes strategically.

There are several of these apps.  The one I used was called #NeverTrump.  It asked me a few simple questions about my state and who I planned to vote for for my profile.  Then I entered a chat room where I was immediately inundated with people looking to trade me their vote for mine.  I picked one almost at random who lived in New Jersey (a write-in state) and agreed to vote Hillary if he would write in Bernie for me.  The whole process took less than five minutes.

I know it sounds like I threw away my vote by writing in a candidate who isn’t even running.  But I see it as letting my voice be heard, just in a different state.  I was sick and tired of being bullied by my vote by my Democratic friends.  (Interestingly, I didn’t get bullied by a single Trump supporter, but that may be because I don’t know enough people voting for him.)  I was exhausted from trying to point out the fallacies in the same old clichés:  “You’re throwing away your vote!”  (No.  I’m speaking my mind.)  “A vote for a third party is a vote for Trump!”  (Only if you assume I was ever planning to vote for Hillary instead, but I’ve never been a Democrat, so it’s as much a vote for Trump as it is for Hillary—which is to say, none at all.)

As an unaffiliated voter, I think what my Democrat friends have consistently been missing is that the objection of third-party voters to Clinton has never been about her character.  It has always been and will be with each coming election about the objection to the illusion of choice.  Obviously Clinton is of far superior character to Trump, but that isn’t the issue at all, and it is silly that we can’t express that of either candidate without being accused of supporting the other.  It is exhausting and so completely ridiculous that I can make comment after comment about why Clinton is superior to Trump and then I say one thing critical about Clinton and then everyone grabs their fire extinguishers to put out the nasty Trump supporter.  That behavior makes Democrats as a whole look just as brainwashed to us as a cluster of Republicans.  That legitimate criticism is continuously ignored and viciously defended against because people worship their party is an issue.

Clinton and Trump may be very different people, yes, but both of them are owned by the same corporations who certainly do not have the interests of the 99% at heart.  Therefore, electing either one of them can only ever affect certain key issues to make us talk, whereas with everything else we care about, in four to eight years we’ll be left scratching our heads over why we elected a candidate who claimed to care about an issue and then never mentioned it again.

That’s how they’re the same to me.  That’s how they’re equally bad.  Until we stop voting by party and start voting for people who are owned only by themselves, that’s how it’ll always be.

For me, the only real choice could be a protest vote (and yes, I’m fully aware that Bernie told us not to).  Otherwise, my vote is not being used the way I intend, and in that case I really don’t think it should be used at all.  But there were no remaining third party candidates I could really get behind.  No one ever spoke to me again the way Bernie did, and I felt the way I could be most effective would be to remain standing with the crowd who I know still intends to vote Bernie.  I felt like there was such a large movement in this election that we cannot let die, and right now continuing to show my support for that movement and refusing to align with either party is the best way I know to do that.  I know Bernie won’t win.  But that isn’t what my vote is for.

Was all of that, though, important enough to risk Trump winning Florida by my doing?  After I discovered vote trading, I realized it didn’t have to be.  I was finally able to vote Clinton with a smile on my face, confident that my vote was being used the way I wanted in another part of the country.

You might wonder if I trust the total stranger I chose to trade with, and yeah, you kind of have to take the person’s word that they’ll do what they say they will.  You can take some extra precautions, though.  We friended each other on Facebook to be sure we were real people, and I know in some states they allow ballot selfies so you can prove to your voting partner that you voted the way you promised.  Nothing else was exchanged in the process of agreeing to partner up; that thought didn’t even cross my mind.  I know from my conversations with hundreds of Facebook friends how passionately people either wanted to vote for Clinton or wanted to vote third party and would not be swayed.  It didn’t surprise me for a moment how many people were using just this one app.  It strikes me as less realistic that there would be hundreds or maybe even thousands of people on this app wasting their time trying to trick people into voting a certain way than that the majority of users would be like me–earnest about using their vote to its full potential.  So yeah.  I trusted him, content with the knowledge that at least my vote had a chance of being heard, and if I was being tricked, at least it wasn’t in Trump’s favor.

I realize this entry was kind of all over the place.  I had a lot of ranting to do from this entire election season and I know, like so many others, I am very relieved it will finally be over tomorrow.

I’ll be on ABC’s Nightline at 12:35 tonight discussing this with Terry Moran and my voting partner.

ETA:  Here is the ABC segment I am in.

Ilvermorny House Analysis

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If you’re anything like me, you were sorted into your Ilvermorny house the day J. K. Rowling put the quiz up on Pottermore, and now you’re “waiting until you know more” about the houses to “decide how you feel about that”.  Several people have done analyses of the quiz to determine which questions go with which houses.  So I’m going to focus on this one by Reddit user u/N1ffler to try and glean an understanding of which house does what over here in the States.

I know the houses don’t officially align with the Hogwarts houses, but there is speculation that Pukwudgie = Hufflepuff, Horned Serpent = Ravenclaw, Wampus = Slytherin, and Thunderbird = Gryffindor.  I’ll take the houses in that order, since I am both a Thunderbird and a Gryffindor and I am going to force myself to wait the longest for my own results because it will be more satisfying that way.

All of these will be based on the stereotypical member of that house, so of course they will be generalizations.  As we know well from a visit to Hogwarts, there are many, many different personalities within a single house!

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So.  Pukwudgie.  Pukwudgies would rather heal than hunt, which to me suggests that they tend to be peaceful, patient, and gentle.  However, they would rather explore than plot, which suggests an eagerness to jump straight into a situation and deal with surprises as they come, rather than to prepare ahead of time.  Pukwudgies overwhelmingly prefer to experience than to remember, which again suggests they want to just be in the thick of things.  YOLO, I suppose a Pukwudgie might say.  Why live in the past when you can live in the now?

If faced with the choice between saving a baby and saving a potion that might save 1,000 lives, a Pukwudgie will choose the baby.  So while a Pukwudgie is out there exploring and comes upon this baby/bottle surprise, even though they haven’t planned this trip in advance, they would rather deal with what is known than with what is possible.  I am getting the impression of someone who is very hands-on and practical.

Pukwudgies would rather place their blind faith in something and then later find out they were wrong than have to deal with constantly worrying about whether or not someone can be trusted.  They also believe that curses are something that are done to a person; that person cannot prevent it through force of will.

Pukwudgies value individuality over freedom, service, and ambition.  They just want to be allowed to be themselves and do their own thing.

The thing they would most want to discover would be an all-magical city hidden from the No-Maj world.  This suggests that they yearn to move freely among their own kind.  It may also speak of a sense of imagination and possibility.

A part of who a Pukwudgie is is trying the patience of other people.  Maybe they are strong-willed and will not rest until they get what they want.  Maybe they’re a bit selfish or even a tad annoying sometimes?  Pukwudgies also accept their greatest weakness (whether or not this is their tendency to annoy people I suppose is up to the Pukwudgie) as just what makes them who they are.  It’s a part of them.  It can’t be changed.  Best to embrace it and move on.

Shame is the worst feeling to a Pukwudgie, suggesting that they might value other people’s judgment of them over their own, or at least a great deal.

Pukwudgies believe in the absolute existence of a soulmate for everyone.  Putting this along with their preference to believe and be deceived, it almost seems that Pukwudgies have a tendency towards gullibility.  But they firmly hold that their beliefs make them who they are.  Once again, their value over their own individuality proclaims itself loudly.  Even if their beliefs are to their detriment, those beliefs will set Pukwudgies at ease and they will probably face any consequences without complaining.

Pukwudgies can feel underappreciated; perhaps this stems from others not appreciating individuality in quite the way they do.  I get the impression that as a whole they are very prideful.  They do not see the value in asking “why” and even scoff at it.  This, again, goes along with their tendency to accept things at face value.

All they need to get where they’re going in life is a little help from their friends, showing that despite having a great deal of pride, they also recognize their own shortcomings and are humble when need be.  It seems Pukwudgies respect others as much as they respect themselves.  Though they often ask themselves whether or not they should do something, which again makes me think they value the opinions of others perhaps over their own.

In exchange for their heart’s desire, they would be willing to offer only that which they could afford to lose—which says that maybe their heart’s desire is not worth as much to them as the stability and reality of the here and now.  This reminds me of the question as to the baby or the bottle, and how they would choose to save one person who could definitely be saved over a thousand who only might be.  It seems maybe Pukwudgies do not like dealing in abstracts.  What they do not know and dearly wish they did is how to just get through.  They just want to survive and take each day as it comes.

They accept their own shortcomings and are okay admitting that their magic could maybe use some work.  But this also demonstrates a willingness to grow and learn from their own mistakes and maybe use them to their advantage.

Pukwudgies want to know when they will learn to keep their mouths shut.  This relates back to their desire to never feel shame, as well as their tendency to question whether or not they should act a certain way.  They are constantly worrying about whether they did or are about to do the right thing in the eyes of other people.

They consider themselves strongest when with friends or when feeling enthusiastic.  They definitely see friends as assets to a good life, and perhaps they are most productive when they are prepared to tackle the world head-on.  The things they would least like to lose are health and love, which kind of goes hand in hand with that, as it’s difficult to be enthusiastic when you aren’t healthy.  The people whose judgement Pukwudgies most fear are those who are closest to them, their friends and their family, which says that they care most about the people they have chosen to let into their lives.

The jinxes Pudwudgies would least like to experience would be those that struck them dumb or that made all food taste like straw, suggesting a love of both conversation and of good food.  I think a Pukwudgie would be right at home at a dinner party full of good friends.

A Pukwudgie would dearly love the power to make one person impervious to harm, again showing the side of them that cares deeply about their loved ones.  They would also love to be able to change one day in their past—maybe a day in which they felt shame, or a day they could change to make someone else’s life better?

They would least like to find themselves either imprisoned alone in a silent dungeon or in the dock in court, accused of a crime they did not commit (maybe they fear the silent dungeon outcome as a result, or maybe they would be more uncomfortable with the injustice of the situation).  Again I definitely get the impression that they are people-pleasers who are happiest when around their loved ones.

The answers Pukwudgies chose to a secret question they would ask an all-knowing being or device were:  “Not for many years”, “only once”, “only if you agree”, and “never”, which seem to indicate that the question most Pukwudgies asked was something negative or something they feared.

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Onto the Horned Serpents.  They would rather hunt than heal and plot than explore, which shows they are proactive rather than reactive.  They like to go into a situation prepared for the outcome.  Like Pukwudgies, they prefer to experience rather than to remember.  They would rather make memories than live in them.  Horned Serpents are also like Pukwudgies in that they would choose to definitely save a baby rather than to maybe save 1,000 other lives.

Unlike Pukwudgies, Horned Serpents believe that friends should not demand blind faith.  Horned Serpents allow for the fallibility of their friends or for the possibility that not everyone can be trusted.  They also believe that a curse cannot work without the victim’s secret consent.  Both of these demonstrate a colder overall outlook toward the world, perhaps with a dash of victim-blaming mixed in.  However, what they most value is service, so despite their sometimes negative outlook on the people around them, they still feel called to work hard for them.

A Horned Serpent would most like to discover a powerful magical creature loyal only to themselves.  Perhaps this shows a need for close companionship, or maybe a need for power.

What Horned Serpents most challenge is convention.  They firmly believe that just because something has always been a certain way does not mean it must remain so.

Horned Serpents’ greatest weakness is also their greatest strength, which shows a sense of innovation and creativity.  They know how to make something negative work in their favor.

The thing Horned Serpents would choose never to feel is pain, which maybe suggests a bit of selfishness, though not necessarily in a bad way.  Their idea of a soulmate is someone who is a psychic twin—in other words, the person they would most want to spend their life with is someone who is exactly like themselves, which lends further credence to the “selfish” idea.

A Horned Serpent’s beliefs are constantly evolving.  They add to them with every new experience and are always open to change.

They feel that their best ideas have gone to waste.  Maybe they have a tendency to procrastinate or to not do their best to achieve what they are capable of.

Horned Serpents’ answer to “Why?” is another question:  “Why not?”  This suggests they are curious beings, always prepared for a discussion or a debate, always looking to find the truth.

All a Horned Serpent needs is a little more time, which goes along with the suggestion that they are procrastinators.

They often ask themselves why they did something, suggesting that they are very analytical of themselves and of how their actions affected a situation.  Maybe they seek ways to change or effect desired outcomes by behaving differently.  For their heart’s desire, they would exchange blood, sweat, and tears, so despite procrastination, they would still work very hard to achieve what they want.  They wish they knew how to forget, so maybe what they need is a way to put the past behind them rather than constantly analyzing it in order to be more productive.

Horned Serpents believe their magic to be unique.  This makes me think they tend to be on the creative side.  They want to know when they will learn the secret, which lends itself to that theory.  They are focused on learning something they can only imagine.

They are strongest when they know they are right and when they are awake.  Simply being conscious can make them feel powerful, and this feeling is heightened when they know they have the advantage.

Horned Serpents would least like to lose either their luck or their reputation.  This suggests that maybe they do not believe they come by their talents naturally, and that their ability to achieve could be impacted if people were not so willing to help them or give them the benefit of the doubt.  Those whose judgment they most fear are history’s and their own.  They care about their own impression of themselves, but only a little less than they care about how they will be remembered after death.  The jinxes they would least like to experience would be that which kept them awake and that which played music constantly in their heads.  The first suggests that, despite feeling strongest when awake, they know that that strength is dependent on their being well-rested, and that they fear the distraction of something in their minds louder than their thoughts.

If they could choose only one power, Horned Serpents would choose first to know the answer to any single question, and then to bring one person back from the dead.  Both of these lend themselves to the curious and imaginative personality trait.

Horned Serpents would least like to find themselves either on a rope bridge fraying over a canyon, or locked in a crowded cage, standing room only, suggesting that they strongly value safety and freedom.

The answers to the mysterious question Horned Serpents would ask were:  “Without a shadow of a doubt”, “It is impossible”, “I will show you everything”, “No, I didn’t”, and “If you want to”.  These differ so vastly from one another that I’m not quite sure how to make a judgement call about them.

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Now we get to Wampus.  I was actually sorted into this house first, but after taking the quiz twice more (and receiving different questions each time), I got Thunderbird both of those times.  I’m very curious as to the biggest differences between the two.

A Wampus would prefer to hunt, explore, and remember.  I’m going to reserve judgement about that combination for the moment.

A Wampus would save the bottle over the baby because the chance of saving 1,000 lives is too important to miss.  The possibility is more important to them than the risk.

Like Horned Serpents, they believe that friends should not demand blind faith.  They are not prepared to put their trust in someone without good reason.

Horned Serpents do not believe that a person is at fault for their own curse.

What a Wampus most values is ambition.  Whatever their situation, they believe in always striving to improve it.  And what they would most like to discover with that ambition is a spell more powerful than any other.  They want to win every duel, every contest, every exhibition.  Maybe even rule the world?  And what they challenge is authority.  They will not allow anyone to stand in their way.  Their greatest weakness is nobody’s business but their own; that secret might give someone else some power over them, and they can’t risk that.  If they could, they would never feel fear; again, this feeling would only hold them back.

Quite the opposite of the Pukwudgie here, a Wampus believes that a soulmate is an illusion.  No one out there can be that one equal, that one most important person to them, because to a Wampus, they already are that person.  The beliefs a Wampus holds are few but strong.  They prefer to deal in facts, but those things they must take on faith, they do so fervently.

Wampuses’ best ideas get them into trouble.  This goes along with their penchant for challenging authority.  Their answer to “Why?” is, “Because I want to”, because again, no one and nothing will stop them from getting their way.  And to their credit, they feel that everything they need is already inside them.  They don’t need to depend on anyone else to get what they want.  A Wampus often thinks, “Why can’t I do that?”  If they are told no, they will find a way around it.  They would be willing to exchange literally anything for their heart’s desire, and what they want to know is how to win.  They perceive their magic as inborn, again requiring no help from outside sources.

Wampuses may also have an issue with procrastination, as what they can’t seem to do things on time.  They may be working toward their hearts’ desires, but can’t quite get a grasp on time management.  But they are strongest when awake and enthusiastic.  Being alive gets them going.

What a Wampus would least like to lose is hope and reputation—they count on themselves and their good favor with others to keep their strength alive—and the people whose judgement they most fear are nobody’s or history’s.  Nobody is stopping them today, but they’re still concerned with how they might be remembered after they die.

The jinxes that Wampuses would least like to experience would be one that forced them to tell the truth and one that made all food taste like straw.  The first one makes me think that they feel they have something to hide from the world, from society, or from their friends or family.

If they could only have one, a Wampus would choose the power either to eradicate one quality from all humans, or to know the answer to any single question.  The first suggests that they can be judgemental and would like a degree of control over other people.

The places Wampuses would least like to find themselves are trapped in the attic as the house burns below them and on the deck of a ship as a tidal waves comes over the horizon, both of which suggest that they most fear their own death.

The answers to the single question a Wampus wants a guaranteed answer to are:  “Very soon”, “Yes”, “If you come with me”, “Yes, you may”, and “If you want to”.  All of these are very positive and lend themselves to their determination to let nothing and no one stand in their way and to get everything they want.  (I think we know who the Slytherins are!)

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And now we get to the T-Birds.  Apparently as a whole we would rather heal than hunt, plot than explore, and remember than experience.  Like Wampuses, we would choose the possibility of saving 1,000 lives over the immediate guarantee of saving one baby.

Thunderbirds tend to believe it is nobler to be deceived than to be mistrusted, again showing a bit of naivety, though they also demonstrate a bit of victim-blaming in that they think if someone gets cursed, they must have secretly wanted it.

What Thunderbirds most value is freedom, and what they would most want to discover is a magical plant that would cure any illness.  Both of these suggest a deep caring and respect for other people.

Thunderbirds challenge themselves more than anyone else, and their greatest weakness is something they must change.  It seems that they are determined to better themselves and constantly work at it.  If they could, they would never feel regret.  They would choose to never miss an opportunity and never make a mistake.

To a Thunderbird, a soulmate is someone who is strong where they are weak and weak where they are strong.  They desire a partner who is their perfect complement rather than a carbon copy of themselves.

A Thunderbird’s beliefs are hard won.  They own them as a result of having survived something or fought for something, and they require some kind of evidence for their views.  Their best ideas have changed their life.  It seems Thunderbirds thrive on and learn from their own experiences, both good and bad.  Perhaps this is why they prefer to remember than to experience.  Reflection seems to be what propels them forward.

Their answer to “Why?” is “We may never know”.  Thunderbirds are content with not knowing if they cannot see a way to find the answer.

All a Thunderbird needs is an opportunity.  They have confidence in themselves to accomplish what they want, but accept that they may need help from outside sources to get it.  They often think, “I wish I had done that”, so perhaps they do not always choose to take the opportunities that come their way.

For their hearts’ desire, Thunderbirds would be willing to exchange what it is worth.  No more, no less.  They will work a bit harder if or when they need to but feel that fair is fair.

Thunderbirds wish they knew how to escape.  All they are looking for is that opportunity.  They know their magic is powerful, but apparently not quite how to put it to good use just yet.

Thunderbirds want to learn how to say no.  Perhaps they make too many commitments and put others before themselves when they should be working on what they want and need.  They feel they are strongest when they are alone; maybe they don’t feel complete when being pushed and pulled in multiple directions and need to be alone to feel like they’re all there for themselves.

What a Thunderbird would least like to lose is their dreams and their hope.  They know there is a better future out there for them if they can just get a hold of it.

The judgement Thunderbirds most fear is the world’s and their own.  They care what everyone thinks of them, and not least of all what they think of themselves.

Thunderbirds would least like to experience jinxes that meant nothing was funny or that played music constantly in their heads.  I get the impression that maybe Thunderbirds have difficulty with focusing.  If they could choose only one power, Thunderbirds would either change one day in their future or cure one illness worldwide.  Again their focus seems to be all over the place, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and about the entire world all at once.

They would least like to find themselves locked in a cage, standing room only, or lost in the forest at night, eyes staring at them through the dark.

The answers to the single question a Thunderbird would ask include:  “Very soon”, “I will show you everything”, “You are”, “Yes, you may”, and “Forever”.  Many of these seem to indicate a tendency to wait for something—like an opportunity, or maybe permission to pursue their dreams.  Maybe they are the biggest procrastinators of all.

What are your own thoughts on the Ilvermorny personalities, using the question analysis?

Wizarding Horizons

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With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J. K. Rowling announced that there would be no more Harry Potter stories.  A lot of people think that this means the end of the Wizarding World as we know it, but I have a different theory.

I like driving down to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter by myself on weekends sometimes.  I find it soothing to completely immerse myself in my fandom and surround myself with others like me.  Going by myself is kind of therapeutic because I can see and do whatever I want at my own pace, and also because I love to meet new people.  When I’m alone, I find myself talking to a lot of strangers from all over the world.  I like talking to the employees, too.  On my last trip, I played Slytherin vs. Gryffindor with an employee for a while until I got him to break character and let slip that there are rumors straight from JKR herself of much, much more to come, at least as far as the parks are concerned.  What could this mean?  There’s a part of me that is hopeful for a Ministry of Magic addition to the park.  The employee couldn’t tell me, but it was clear he had heard some things.

Later this year we’re getting the first of the Fantastic Beasts trilogy.  In talks about the second film a couple of weeks ago,  Warner Brothers announced that there is “much more on the horizon”.  And that brings me to my theory:  I think the WB plans to make the Wizarding World into its very own Star Wars.

We don’t need more Harry Potter stories.  Harry’s story was summed up well enough for me in the epilogue to the 7th book when we got a glimpse of the happily-ever-afters of everyone who survived…kind of like how the last Star Wars gave us a nice, succinct summary of what happened to our beloved heroes so we could be at peace and then paved the way for the rest of the world to blossom.  Harry’s story, for me and for so many other people, is perfect as is and doesn’t need to be continued via his children.  But the Wizarding World is a universe as large as our own and holds the potential for stories from an unlimited number of places and times…much like Star Wars.

After the Fantastic Beasts trilogy, we could get a whole movie about Quidditch.  We could get a movie about wizards in ancient Egypt.  We could get a medieval-era movie about the founders of Hogwarts.  Maybe we could even get a Marauders television series?  Whereas casting would be problematic with any new Harry films and could leave fans feeling disgruntled, that wouldn’t be the case with casting new characters in the same universe.

The magic is still very much alive for Harry fans the world over who will eagerly hand over their cash to the WB to keep getting their fix.  Hordes of people lined up to watch a play and buy a script that wasn’t even written by JKR, just approved by her.  We’re still soaking up every drop of new information she gives us on her website, Pottermore…which brings me to Ilvermorny.

Right around the same time Cursed Child was coming out and Fantastic Beasts was still being worked on…when JKR said she was done with Harry and the WB said they were not done with the Wizarding World…JKR released a brand new story on Pottermore about the American Hogwarts, paired with a sorting quiz so you could find out which American house you would be in.  At the very least, I’m betting we get one Ilvermorny film.  More likely we’ll get several.  The amount of merchandise the WB stands to sell as longtime fans and children just discovering this universe start relating to their American house and seeking out representation in the form of keepsakes with their colors on them is wicked.

I think it’s possible that, like Star Wars, many of us may not live to see the last film from the Wizarding World.  And as depressing as that thought is, I would be happy if the WB would just shut up and take my money already.

The Only Next Indiana Jones For Me

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Well, after the news about Alden Ehrenreich being cast as the new Han Solo, it’s time for me to accept the fact that this is not going to happen:

I won’t hold a grudge because that would be silly.  Best wishes to Alden and all that.  He got the role of a lifetime.  To be honest, I didn’t really want to see this film (though I’m 100% sure I will) other than to see what Anthony would do with it.  I merely accepted the film as an inevitability and hoped for the best.

But although this fangirlish campaign of sorts is over, I don’t see it as a total loss.  Because there’s another inevitability on the horizon, just past Cinderella’s castle, and it’s one I care about even more.   For now, this is still a possibility:

Writer James Thomas has perfectly laid out my own feelings here as to why we do not need another Indiana Jones.  No one can ever replace Harrison Ford as this character for me.  But in this age of reboots, we all know it is coming.  And if it is to happen, I want it done right.  The only person who should be considered to fill Harrison Ford’s boots is this young Harrison Ford.

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The great thing about an Indy reboot—you know, if it has to happen—is that the Indy films are both timeless (nothing would have to be rewritten for a younger generation as it was always set in the past) and episodic.  They were always stand-alone adventures.  Anything could happen both between the original films and before them, and no canon would ever have to be messed with.  They could put Anthony in the role and the legend could just sort of…continue.  As though it always was.  How very convenient it would be for Disney, and how very fulfilling for us.

I would actually look forward to this.

I’m trying to understand why this is even more important to me than Han Solo, and I think it’s because the young Han Solo was only ever going to be the younger Han Solo.  Pre-Han Solo.  He was always going to be somehow other than Harrison Ford.

But if they reboot Indy with a younger actor, and if they want to do it right, that person is going to have to be Harrison Ford.  Not other.  Not younger (which of course, Anthony has already proven himself capable of, anyway) or pre-Harrison Ford.  Just Harrison Ford.

I still believe only Anthony Ingruber can pull that off.  And with Han Solo decided, that means the movie-making/going world is now freed up to focus on this potential.

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Nostalgia November: Perfect Harmony

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Before I begin, I have to confess something:  I watched this again knowing full-well that I still love it, so this is going to be completely biased.

Perfect Harmony was released in 1991, when I was in kindergarten.  It almost feels like it should have been made before then because I watched it so often as a kid, it’s hard to believe there were five years of my life before it existed.  Disney was the only channel my sheltered sister and I were allowed to watch for years, so I can even remember the commercials.  They used to play short promotional videos with interviews and clips from upcoming productions in between programming.  I particularly remember the ones for Perfect Harmony because my sister, who was three and whom we didn’t realize could read yet, once looked at the screen and said, “Look, Mom!  It’s Catherine Mary Stuart!” when the actress was talking about her part.  We thought it was some kind of miracle and still joke about it now, although years later she confessed to me that she hadn’t actually read it, she had just seen the commercials so many times that she knew the actress’s name by heart.  Filthy liar.  (Just kidding–love ya, sis!)

There are lots of talented actors in the credits:  Justin Whalin, Eugene Byrd, Peter Scolari, Darren McGavin, Moses Gunn, Catherine Mary Stuart, David Faustino, and Cleavon Little, among others.  It’s more of a family movie than anything, so the acting isn’t hammy like you might expect from a kids’ movie.  It’s still very watchable as an adult.

I credit this movie far more than all the in-school celebrations of Black History Month (during which we watched this a few times) in teaching me about what racism is and how it manifests—at least insofar as a little white girl can understand such things.  It really put the history we learned about later into perspective.  I remember watching it for the first time and wondering why anyone would want to treat black people that way, and why there were scary people in ghostly white hoods marching around.

The story, set in 1959 South Carolina, follows the blossoming friendship of Taylor, the up-and-coming Head Boy at a prodigious boarding academy, and Landy, nephew of the school caretaker from the “wrong side of the tracks”.  The two are drawn together by a shared love of music and spend most of the film teaching each other about the styles with which they grew up.

Obviously, music features prominently in this movie, and it’s worth a watch if for no other reason than to hear it.  Disney is strangely silent on the subject of who the actual vocalists are (there’s no credit anywhere), and there’s no soundtrack, so you’ll have all these great songs stuck in your head with no way to replay them except to watch the movie over, but again, worth it.

There’s a lot of still-relevant dialogue about the differences between the North and the South.  In one of the first scenes, the headmaster’s daughter giggles when the new choir director/history teacher, Mr. Sanders, is speaking and says, “You just talk different—‘pahk the cah’!”  Later, one of the kids mentions that Mr. Sanders is a Yankee, and Paul, the school bully, interjects, “Yeah.  Now the school has two [N-word]-lovers.”  (Yes, this movie uses the N-word.  Again, just as with The Journey of Natty Gann, there are some scenes that are necessarily dark and even downright scary for a kid, but the kids of my generation were cool with some gritty reality because we understood that the world wasn’t all kittens and rainbows—though it was the ‘90s, so we certainly loved our rainbows, too.)  Paul’s comment is intended as a jab at the only other Yankee character, a kid named Marc who gives a short speech later in class when they’re discussing Woodrow Wilson’s quote, “Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy.”  When I see and hear hateful bickering between political parties today, I still hear the voice of this kid talking about us becoming, “once again, the United States of America”.

The word ‘tradition’ is thrown around a lot as an excuse to keep people segregated.  “These boys are going to rule the country someday.  They can’t have black people getting in their way.  It’s Tradition!”  There’s a whole side plot about the people from River Town protesting at the pool because their swimming hole is unsafe, and the white Sheriff shows up and chastises them for “getting the people riled up over something as silly as where to go swimming”.  I mean, really.  If it’s so silly, then why can’t everyone swim in the same place?  As the preacher pointed out, they were the ones who built it.  Later on a kid actually dies in the swimming hole and the River Town people show up to protest again.  Miss Hobbs (the headmaster’s daughter) says, in a voice like a fly just landed in her wine, “Can you believe those boys?”, and when the casket appears a moment later, just hurries off, completely unconcerned by their plight.  I don’t think I ever noticed as a kid what a total brat she was.

Something else I didn’t grasp as a kid was that Mr. Sanders did not have a long and successful career at that school.  The movie ends on a high note (see what I did there?), but Mr. Hobbs is visibly frustrated at a black kid being allowed to sing in his school choir, and I finally realized that when we see Mr. Sanders’ car leaving during the end credits, to mirror its arrival during the opening ones, it means he was pretty much finished at that place, despite having made a tremendous impact.

Landy’s uncle had a quote I really liked (and I think I’m paraphrasing a bit):  “I have a special place where I keep my sorrow.  It stays hidden away, and when I want to, I take it out and be with it.”  I’m just placing it here because I want to remember it.

Side note:  I met David Faustino earlier this year. He was completely blown away by the fact that I remembered this movie. His character always scared me when I was a kid, but he was really nice!

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Nostalgia November: The Journey of Natty Gann

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This month I’m going to try this thing where I watch and review odd stuff I watched when I was a kid.  I’ll discuss cartoons created by people on drugs, and movies I remember but no one else has ever heard of, and I’ll attempt to provide non-biased advice about whether or not you should give these things a watch.  I’m going to call this Nostalgia November.

Tonight I will begin with The Journey of Natty Gann.  I know my childhood friends remember this, because I insisted we watch it anytime they happened to be at my house when it was on TV.  I can even remember my friend TiNY asking me once, like 20-something years ago, why we always had to do this.  It’s because The Journey of Natty Gann is a really good movie.  I just watched it again last night so it would be fresh on my mind, and I can confirm that even as an adult, it’s really fascinating.  This was a Disney film made not even seven months after I was born, starring Meredith Salenger, Ray Wise, and John Cusack.  It’s actually John’s sixth film credit on IMDB, and the first movie I ever saw him in.

The movie begins in Chicago in 1935.  It’s smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression, and Natty, a teenaged tomboy whose mother died when she was a baby, lives alone with her father.  Jobs are increasingly difficult to come by, so when he gets one at a logging mill in Seattle, he takes off immediately, leaving Natty in the care of their landlady until he can send for her.  Unfortunately, the scumbag landlady reports Natty as an abandoned child to the authorities, so she has no choice but to set off on an epic cross-country quest alone to find her father.  Along the way, she befriends a tramp played by John Cusack and a wolf played by Jed the Dog of White Fang fame, and has tons of adventures, all fraught with peril.

There’s a really fantastic score by James Horner (who broke my heart a few months ago by dying in a plane crash…why, James, why?—you will be sorely missed and never forgotten).  The album is difficult and pricey to get a hold of.  There was a limited quantity released and as soon as they were, I scooped up a copy for about $50.  Yes, for a single CD.  The score alone would be worth a listen even if you never watched the movie.  Lots of twangy harmonica that really captures the feel of the era.

The landscapes are spectacular.  Ironically, I always think of this movie when I imagine traveling through scenic America, but it was actually all filmed in Canada.  The forests, autumn-colored leaves, and snowy mountains all make me want to stow away on a freight train and make my way through the woods to the opposite coast and just take in every bit of scenery along the way.  I would die, of course, and probably quite quickly, but it might be worth it.

This isn’t like the Disney of today.  It’s got some grittiness, some mild language, some fighting…there’s even an uncomfortable scene where Natty narrowly avoids sexual assault by some creep.  There are a couple of tear-jerk moments.  This was made, like so much else I grew up with, for a generation of both children and adults with backbone, who didn’t need to feel babied or sheltered by their entertainment, and didn’t turn off their televisions in outrage over the fact that some stories reflect both the good and the bad things that happen in the world.

If you were looking for a spirited, Depression-era adventure story set on the American back roads and railways, or if you didn’t realize you needed one until now, definitely give this movie a watch!  It really is quite epic.

Q&A with Misty Burkett of Jacksonville Zombie Walk

Misty Burkett is the Marketing Director/Event Coordinator for Jacksonville Zombie Walk, an organization founded in 2008 by Jenifer Michel.  The mission of the Jacksonville Zombie Walk, from its Facebook page, is “to raise awareness of world hunger and stock up the local food drives”.  A zombie walk, for those unfamiliar with the concept, is an organized event wherein a group of people get dressed up like zombies and take a walk through an urban environment.

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Carrington:  How and when did you get involved with Jacksonville Zombie Walk?

Misty:  I was introduced to Jenifer Michel by a mutual friend back in 2013.  Immediately a friendship began over our love of zombies, all things horror, anything nerdy, and our interest in cosplay.

Carrington:  How much time and preparation goes into organizing an event of this size?

Misty:  We started this year’s planning back in May 2015 and we are talking about next year starting even earlier due to the enormous amount of time and planning that goes into these walks.

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Carrington:  In what ways has Jacksonville Zombie Walk been a benefit to the city?

Misty:  JZW, for the last eight years, has worked with Second Harvest and Daniel [Kids] for food drives.  This year we are proud to announce we are working with Hubbard House to raise awareness for domestic violence, and we are also doing a food drive for the families affected by domestic violence.

Carrington:  What sort of challenges does Jacksonville Zombie Walk face?

Misty:  Sometimes people can’t get past the zombie part of our walk/cause and don’t want to participate or donate.  It can be easy to lose sight of what the organization/walk is doing, and that is we are helping the community.

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Carrington:  What are Jacksonville Zombie Walk’s plans for the future?

Misty:  Jacksonville Zombie Walk is very excited for this year’s lineup.  JZW presents our 8th annual zombie walk for Hubbard House on October 18th in Jacksonville, Florida, located downtown at Hemming Plaza.  And we are proud to announce that we will be leading Spooky Empire Zombie Walk this year, and that will take place on October 30th in Orlando, Florida.  In the near future, we have started planning for a pub-crawl in February 2016.

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Carrington:  What has been your favorite experience from doing Jacksonville Zombie Walk?

Misty:  Spending time with my family and friends helping the community, and of course dressing up like zombies.

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Carrington:  What are some of your other passions aside from Jacksonville Zombie Walk?

Misty:  I am very big into cosplay; I love designing and coming up with a costume concept and watching it come to life.  I enjoy the fact my boys participate in cosplay and are following in their mom’s footsteps with comic books and art.  As a cosplay mom, it makes me happy when my boys come to me with their own ideas for costumes they want to do or ideas for us as a family.  I am also trying my hand in vending at shows selling my art and purses, so we will see how that goes and where it will take me from here.

Carrington:  What’s your favorite zombie movie (or series) and why?

Misty:  I love Shaun of the Dead.  That and Zombieland are my top favorite basically tied–I love the dry and dark humor in both movies, but I have a bit of a crush on the main character in Zombieland, Jesse Eisenberg.  And falling in second place in my heart of zombie movies is Warm Bodies–what can I say, I am a hopeless romantic and just want to see the zombie get the girl….

Carrington:  If you could say one thing to get people to come out and participate in Jacksonville Zombie Walk, what would it be?

Misty:  The Jacksonville Zombie Walk is a kid-friendly and family-oriented event.  This year we are working with Hubbard House collecting non-perishable items for the families affected by domestic violence.  Come out and see us on October 18th in Hemming Plaza at 1pm.  The walk is free.  Please bring two non-perishable goods to be donated to the Hubbard House.

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I had the pleasure of participating in JZW a few years ago.  Here’s my friend and me with Liane Curtis at the convention where the walk ended.  Good times.

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My First Con, Part III: In Which We (But Mostly Doulgar) Give James a Gift to Remember Us By

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In case you missed them, here is Part I and here is Part II.

Doulgar and I were both sad when we awoke on Sunday.  Yes, we still had until the end of the day, but neither of us was ready to leave Nashville and all the magic that had so far occurred there.  So we booked our rooms for another night and decided to leave the next morning.

We weren’t exactly sure how to carry out our plan for that day.  First thing when we arrived, we walked by and saw that James was not at his booth.  So we headed back near the front door to decide what to do.  A moment later, I saw James arrive with the manager.  “Hey!” he said, smiling as he walked past.  I smiled and waved back, speechless as ever.

“Doulgar!” I said.  “Doulgar!  He’s here!  He just arrived, see?”  I pointed.

“So, should we go present our gift to him?”

I figured we may as well.  It was the last day and people would be leaving early.  We didn’t have a lot of time to squander.

James’s manager had been giving us more and more dirty looks every time we went up to talk to him.  It was getting really awkward.  We knew we totally deserved it.  And yet, even though she glared at us like the creepy stalkers we were, as soon as we got past her to James, he greeted us as warmly as the very first time.  He treated us like guests he had invited to his home; she treated us like Jehovah’s Witnesses at her door.

When we approached, his manager actually said, “You again?”  She wasn’t even attempting to be polite anymore.  It was very clear exactly what she thought of us.  But, seriously–it isn’t like we get to hang out with James Marsters every day!  I think that was one of only two times we went up to him without buying something.  We spaced out all of our autographs all weekend so we’d have legit excuses to go over there.  And still we get the dirty looks!  But like I said, we knew we deserved it.  Scorned though we were, we were allowed to pass through.

“Hi, it’s us, here to stalk you again,” Doulgar said.

“No, it’s cool!  Good to see you,” he said, and turned to smile at me.  I once again found myself without speech, but each time we saw him these moments were more and more brief.

“We brought you a gift,” Doulgar said, and explained about the CDs.

James was very excited.  “You’ve given me the greatest gift that anyone could ever give someone–the gift of music!” he said.  Quote of the day. Maybe, just maybe, come Megacon five months later, he’d still remember us.

We now had no more plans, so we decided to spend the majority of our remaining time in panels.

Billy Dee Williams was…well.  He was Billy Dee Williams.  I don’t know how else to describe Billy Dee Williams, because he’s like an adjective all on his own.  There was some guy in the panel discussion who pissed off his manager, though, and me at the same time, by asking, “How big of a jerk was Harrison Ford when you were filming Return of the Jedi?”  Instantly I bristled.  Like I’ve said before, there is only one celebrity crush above James Marsters, and it is Harrison Ford.  From everything I’ve ever read/seen, Harrison Ford is a really cool guy.  One does not insult Harrison Ford in my presence.  I growled.  Silently.

Billy Dee looked confused and confirmed my own thoughts (here is an article by someone who attended, with the exact quote), and his manager said coldly, “Why would you say that?  Don’t talk that way about people you don’t know.”

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There was another guy who asked Billy Dee if he was aware of the obscure punk rock song bearing his name.  He had the album with him and happened to have a spare copy at home, so he gave his copy to Billy Dee and they read the lyrics out loud.  Then they told him to come by later for a free autograph.  That was pretty cool.

We then attended the Henry Winkler panel, which I found very inspiring, because he talked about growing up and struggling with dyslexia and how his whole life he believed he was stupid, and his parents called him “Dumb Dog”.  All of that really hit home for me.  And he said that his whole mindset changed when he realized what his gift was.  He figured out that everyone has their own gift, and once they realize what it is, they have the potential to be great at that thing.  It was all very uplifting.  Anyway, he had to cut it short because his plane was leaving at 2:30, so he said he was returning to his booth and would only be there for another half-hour.

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After the panel, Doulgar had to use the restroom, so I sat down to wait.  About a minute later, Henry Winkler and his manager came walking around the corner.  Henry looked over and smiled and waved at me, and I called out, “I just saw your panel, and I found it very inspiring!”

Henry stopped walking.  He said that he couldn’t hear me and asked me to come closer.  I went over and said, “I found your panel discussion very inspiring.  Thank you!  I have ADD and my whole life I always believed I was stupid, too.”

“And when you grew up, you realized you were brilliant!” he said.

“Well, yeah!”  I smiled.

His manager was hurrying him along.  Henry started speeding along beside him, but he turned back to me and held out his hand.  I hesitated for the merest of seconds to glance over my shoulder; Doulgar was not out of the restroom yet.  My phone was in the car so I would have no way of reaching him to let him know where I was.  I could be lost for a very long time in that building.  But The Fonz wanted me to walk with him, so walk with him I did.  I took his hand and on we went.  He kept trying to make conversation with me, and his manager kept interrupting.  Twice he asked me what I do, and twice I did not have a chance to reply.

We stopped at a drink machine.  “Do you like coffee?” he offered.

“Not really,” I said, feeling rather rude, but I didn’t want to accept a drink and put it right in the trash.

“Oh, okay.”

“…But I will have a smoothie!”  I smiled very widely.  I love smoothies.

“That’s my girl!” he said.  “What kind of smoothie?”

Normally I would stop and consider ALL the smoothie choices.  Every single one.  But sensing the urgency of the situation, I just said, “Strawberry!”

The smoothie was taking forever, and his manager was rushing him along again, so he paid for my smoothie and went along.

“Is he a nice guy?” said the drink stand girl.  “He seems like he’d be a really nice guy.”

“He’s a total sweetheart!” I said.

I turned and saw Doulgar approaching.

“The Fonz just bought me a smoothie,” I said.

“You know, while I was in the restroom, I was asking myself, who is she going to pick up for the minute or so that she’s by herself?”

“The Fonz.  I picked up The Fonz.”

We decided to go catch him at his booth before he left so I could thank him once again for the smoothie.  When he saw us approaching, he put his hands on his hips and opened his mouth in mock surprise.  I grinned and said, “Thank you again for the smoothie!”

“You are most welcome, my dear,” he said.

While Doulgar paid for a photo, Henry asked me, “So, are you two brother and sister?”  (Yes, this was the second time he had asked us that.)

I glanced at Doulgar, knowing he was listening.  I grinned.  “Yeah,” I said, “yeah, he’s my brother.”

“Oh, good!” said Henry Winkler.

I made sure the smoothie was visible in the picture.

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We said goodbye to The Fonz, and I suggested we go tell James about my smoothie before departing.

James’s manager was certainly not thrilled to see us again.  But at least I had an opening line again this time.  And each time we saw him became easier and easier for me to speak to him.  He was just so nice.

“Hi,” I said, “we just came to say goodbye.  We’re about to head back to Florida.”

As I waited much too long to write this entry, I can no longer recall what was said immediately after that.  Doulgar was saying something while I sipped my smoothie.

“The Fonz bought me a smoothie,” I said nonchalantly to James.

“What!?  That’s AWESOME!” he said, and his whole face lit up.  “Is he here?”

“Yeah…do you guys not know beforehand who’s going to be here?” I said.

“Well, I knew at one point he was supposed to be here, but I wasn’t sure if he had canceled.  I haven’t seen him anywhere.”

“Oh, he’s been hitting on her all weekend,” Doulgar said, and James laughed.  Doulgar explained about how in his panel discussion, Henry Winkler was talking about his parents wanting him to go into the family business of buying and selling wood, and he didn’t want to do that because he wanted to be an actor.  “Well, I’d say he’s been selling wood all weekend!”

James laughed so hard he slapped the table with his hand.  He told us that when he was growing up, he thought Henry Winkler was just the coolest guy, and was so disappointed to learn he was such a goofball offscreen and not really anything like the character of The Fonz.  But then when he got the role of Spike, he was also a goofball offscreen.  “I’m nothing like that character,” he said.  “He’s a total badass and I’m a really nice guy.  So I realized, in a way, I’m kind of like The Fonz of Buffy.”

Now that I had finally found my tongue, there were people behind us in line again, so finally it was time to say goodbye to James until next time.

“We’ll probably see you in Orlando in March,” I said.  And he shook our hands and I stared into his eyes one last time, and…that was that.

There wasn’t a whole lot left for us to do, so we looked at what panels were left and decided to go see Ray Park, and after that, we called it a day.

We found an awesome British pub in Printer’s Alley (that you had to go downstairs to get into–nothing like that in Florida, of course) to eat, because we figured there at least we wouldn’t be surrounded by country music.  That place would totally be my hangout if I lived in Nashville.

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Afterward we went to walk around the city until it was dark.  The weather was absolutely exquisite.  The whole weekend it was exquisite.

I stepped over one of those grates where there’s steam coming up from it.  It totally took me by surprise when my skirt blew right up like that famous picture of Marilyn Monroe.  That doesn’t happen when I walk over grates in downtown Jax.  I giggled with excitement at getting to play Marilyn for a moment and made sure to hold my skirt down when we walked over the next one.

We went to the Capitol building to watch the sun set over the mountains and the entire city of Nashville.  Sweet, fancy Moses–so gorgeous.  I hadn’t seen anything like it in years.  We waited until there was zero color left in the sky before leaving.

Oh–important note.  At the Nashville Capitol building, there’s a mock-up of the Liberty Bell.  I laid down on my back, stuck my head up in there, and licked the inside of it, out of respect to one of my two favorite How I Met Your Mother characters.  I knew if I did not, I would always regret not having done so.  And it was legen–wait for it–dary!  It also coated my mouth with nastiness.  But it was so worth it.  Anything for the story, I always say.

We couldn’t freeze time forever.  Morning came, we ate our complimentary waffles, and it was time to go.  Along the way, we stopped and got some peach cider, some pumpkin fudge, some alligator jerky…all that kind of stuff you can’t get unless you’re on the road.

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And then we were back in Florida, and it was very sad, but only because we had a totally epic adventure!

Oh, and in case I didn’t mention it before, The Fonz bought me a smoothie, and James Marsters told me I was very beautiful.

Some last day sights:

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My First Con, Part II: In Which I Approach James Marsters With a Plan

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Here’s Part I, in case you missed it.

The next morning we again arose cool, bright, and early.  The day before, after meeting James Marsters, we had attempted to get our photo ops in, but we headed over to the booth ten minutes after it had begun and it was all over.

With that in mind, we decided to wait an hour in advance for everything else we didn’t want to miss, which included the James Marsters panel early in the day for which we had paid good money for guaranteed seating.  So the schedule for the day was:  Arrive Super Early; Wait One Hour For Panel; Panel; Wait One Hour For Photo; Photo; Let Me Talk To James.  There was no real goal apart from that.

Here are some of the costumes we saw that second day:

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We entered the tail end of a panel about Doctor Who, and found seats in the front row.  As soon as it was over, while people were still standing up and wading through the chaos, we claimed seats front and center.

We were soon joined by a girl on Doulgar’s side who smelled too strongly of perfume, and an older woman on my side who knew everything there ever was to know about James Marsters and flaunted it.  As soon as she sat down she was spewing facts like she was teaching a class.  This woman went on and on, inputting into everything that was said and even answering for James on several questions.  That got a bit tiresome.

Here are a couple of links to videos JeanBugC took at the panel:

James talks about supervillains.
James talks about Leonard Nimoy.

And here are a couple of shots we took:

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Afterward, we had about an hour before photo ops, so we went to stand in line.  These two really cool girls were standing in line behind us, so we passed the time with them.

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James remembered us from the day before, even after all the people he must have met since then, and of course I started blushing.  And then…then James put his arm around me and pulled me all close to him, and I went totally weak at the knees.

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We headed then for a Superman panel.  Dean Cain was present.  At some point he mentioned that most of us in the audience were probably seven years old when Lois and Clark was on TV.  Somebody later said that he had actually been thirteen.  At the end, I went up to Dean Cain, shook his hand, and said, “I was seven, and my mom had the biggest crush on you!”

He laughed and said, “I like your mom!”  He then attempted to amend that statement to something less…something.  But all I heard was, “I mean–” before someone jumped in front of me to shake his hand, and I never got to hear what Dean Cain really meant to say when he told me he liked my mom.  I couldn’t wait to tell my mom!

At last we decided it was time to go back to James.  I asked Doulgar to let me do the talking.  Doulgar still didn’t know what I was about to do.

I gave James ‘Love Me’ Face once again.  We can just assume I was unwittingly giving him ‘Love Me’ Face all weekend long, but in this moment I played it for all it was worth because that was all I had going for me and, well, I was totally feeling it, anyway.

So after a brief moment of that, I said, “Since I’m too shy to talk to you, will you just talk British to me?”

He didn’t even hesitate; he just grinned at me and said the following in Spike-voice:

“If you want me to talk British to you, love, you don’t have to ask.  You just paid $40 just to come up here and talk to me, so I’ll say anything you want.”

“Thank you–that was AWESOME!” I said, trying not to giggle.

And then…THEN he said, “Thank you; you’re very beautiful.”

I must say, I did not expect that.  I had high hopes for the weekend, I really did, but nothing could have prepared me for that moment.  That moment when Spike himself looked me in the eyes, smiled, and said, “You’re very beautiful.”

Okay, I’ll stop acting like a schoolgirl for a few paragraphs.  …Eh…nope.  No, I won’t.

So Comic Con is totally awesome!  It was like I was drugged for the entire weekend.  For the rest of that second day, I’d just sort of space out with a big grin on my face and Doulgar would be like, “Aaand you’re not listening.  I know where your mind is,” and I’d be all, “Yes…I was just remembering that time a couple hours ago when James Marsters told me I was very beautiful.”

Afterward, we stopped at this little Greek restaurant for dinner, where something really weird took place.  The whole place was packed, so after deciding what we wanted to eat, Doulgar asked me to go save the one empty table while he ordered and whatnot.

I sat down, and very quickly got that weird feeling that everyone was whispering about me.  (After many, many years of bullying, it’s a very well-developed sense.)  I looked up to see what was going on, and determined that the 14 guys spread out over several different tables were all there together as one big group, and at that moment, all of them were focused on me.  Several of them had their phones up like they were trying to take pictures without acting like they were taking pictures.  So, to show that I knew exactly what was going on, I turned and smiled right into one guy’s camera phone.  Everybody started laughing.

Another guy called from across the restaurant, “What’s the relationship here?” and pointed between Doulgar and me.

“We’re friends,” I said coolly.

So that guy got up and brought me his business card with his phone number on it.  They asked what I was doing that evening, and I said we were going back to the hotel to sleep.  He asked if he could have my number, and I said he could have my email address.

Doulgar sat down, shaking his head.  “I can’t take you anywhere!” he said.

When they left, the owner was very apologetic, and I laughed and said not to worry about it, because no one had bothered me and I was flattered.  (I like attention.  I know; I guess I’m kind of stuck-up.  I admit it.)  But when he offered to do anything for me, I mentioned that I was still considering whether or not to try the baklava….

Without a word, he got a piece of baklava and put it on a plate for me.  Score!  I felt a bit guilty, but Doulgar and I were sure that baklava would have just been thrown away, anyhow.

That night, Doulgar came up with a plan for the next day.  That band he told James about on the first day…he had several of their CDs in the car and decided that James could have them.  He wrote out all the track listings and everything.

So on Sunday, we would present James with a gift to remember us by.

Other interesting sights from that day:

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Continue to Part III.