Here are 8 developments of interest to fans:
(1) Last week I saw Independence Day again, where Mary McDonnell is cast as a doomed First Lady, one of the early casualties of an alien attack. She also played President Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, who survives a Cylon attack and goes from 43rd in line to president of all of the surviving colonists.
I wonder how many actresses have played both a First Lady and a President? If there’s another, surely McDonnell must be the only one who’s been assailed by space invaders in both roles.
(2) If you sent your kid to Hogwarts how much would you have to pay?
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” raked in more than $475 million globally and $168 million domestically in its record-setting opening weekend. By one calculation, that global total is enough to send 11,000 young wizards and witches to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Centives, a blog run by Lehigh University’s Economics Society, calculated the cost of Hogwart’s tuition based on the cost of a typical English boarding school plus the items specified in the admission letter Harry receives in the first book of the series. Including items such as “three sets of plain robes” and “one cauldron,” as sold on Amazon.co.uk, the economists estimate the total cost for first-year students at Hogwarts at 26,816 British pounds, or $42,752. Read the full breakdown here.
(3) And since ‘tis the season for Harry Potter news, I’ll follow up with a link to “What If Famous Tennis Stars Went to School with Harry Potter?” by Chris Chase at Busted Racket. Here’s how his thought experiment works:
If the biggest names in tennis went to Hogwarts and sat under the Sorting Hat, in which house would they be placed? Because it’s a Friday in July, I was able to ponder this question for a lot longer than any grown man should. The decisions are below…
Gryffindor (courage, bravery, loyalty, nerve and chivalry)
Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Francesca Schiavone, Andy Roddick, Laura Robson
(4) Writer Monica Valentinelli took a 100-day break from social media. She quit tweeting and ignored Facebook, though still kept up her blog. Reporting back to her fellow SFWA members, Valentinelli concluded the experience overall was a plus: “Good content is more valuable to a writer’s career than social interaction.”
(5) What makes you think Andrew Wheeler’s experience with the Hugo scene has left him a bit jaded? Just because he ends his comment about the Best Fanzine Hugo category by asking readers “What will you vote against?”
Not that he’s wrong, you understand…
(6) A North Yorkshire farmer paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of Star Trek by creating the world’s largest maize maze, where a visitor can lose himself “running around the Starship Enterprise, in Mr Spock’s head or on a ‘Borg cube’.”
(7) Seeing Joe Lansdale interviewed by CNN reminded me of an AggieCon long ago when I met several Texas sf/horror writers for the first time:
CNN: Your fiction crosses many genres from thriller to Western to horror to young adult. How does that affect your publishers?
Lansdale: I think I made the right choice for me. I don’t know if it would be the right choice for someone else, but what I did is I created my own genre. And so when people come to me most readers know that I do a variety of different things and so they like the unexpected. I know I do.
(8) I should be able to run one more Harry Potter reference without violating the rule of three (originally a rule about the structure of jokes in a Johnny Carson monologue, but helpful in many other writing tasks…)
The Guardian reports JK Rowling’s childhood home, that may have inspired elements of her magical world, is on the market for around £400,000. There’s still an inscription on a bedroom window frame that reads: “Joanne Rowling slept here circa 1982.”
As well as the gothic style, beams and vaulted ceilings, another feature that might have stuck in Rowling’s mind as she sat down to write Harry Potter is a boy-wizard-sized cupboard under the stairs. Potter, of course, was forced to live in such a cupboard by his unpleasant aunt and uncle. The house also has a trapdoor leading to a cellar not dissimilar to the one guarded by the fearsome three-headed dog in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Current owner Julian Mercer says:
“JK Rowling would have been here in her formative years and could have taken inspiration from the cottage. The architecture is very Hogwarts-like. It has vaulted ceilings, stone windows and oozes gothic spirit.”
[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus and Andrew Porter.]
Well, Glenn Close played a First Lady (in “Mars Attacks!”) and a Vice President (in “Air Force One”), and she was assailed by space invaders in one of those roles. So she hasn’t equaled McDonnell’s achievement, but she’s at least in the same ballpark.
Also, Patty Duke played a fictional president in the TV series “Hail to the Chief,” and First Lady Martha Washington in the miniseries “George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation.” Unfortunately, I don’t think there were space aliens in either of those projects.