‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ photos show grown-up Hogwarts gang

As preparation for the stage production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” ramps up in London, we were treated this week to new photos of the adult versions of the Boy Who Lived and his former Hogwarts classmates. The stage production is based on an original story by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling and picks up 19 years after “The Deathly Hallows.”

First: Harry Potter, Albus Potter and Ginny Potter 

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE From left, Jamie Parker will play Harry Potter, Sam Clemmett will play Albus Potter and Poppy Miller will play Ginny Potter.

Next, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Rose Granger-Weasley 

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE From left, Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger and Cherrelle Skeete will play Rose Granger-Weasley.

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE
From left, Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger and Cherrelle Skeete will play Rose Granger-Weasley.

Finally, Draco and Scorpius Malfoy

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE Alex Price as Draco Malfoy and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy.

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE
Alex Price as Draco Malfoy and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy.

 

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” opens July 30 with previews beginning June 7 at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.

Rowling collaborates with playwright Jack Thorne (“Let the Right One In”) and Tony Award-winning director John Tiffany for the two-part play, which continues the story of the boy wizard Potter, now a husband and father, and his son, Albus, as the two struggle with the weight of the past.

C3PO, Jim Morrison and Cindy Brady send their regards

Ever notice how short football season is?  It’s because football players take time to heal up from their injuries.  Comic convention season lasts nearly all year because, when you’re a geek, you just put a Band-Aid on your blisters and play through the pain.

Saturday, while waiting in line to meet Anthony Daniels, the gold standard in droids, I looked at my watch and noted to Duane, “Well, it’s 11 o’clock, Comic Con tickets are officially on sale. I bet they’ll be gone in an hour!”  Duane had no reaction, having already declared his feet and knees couldn’t take another West Coast convention.

It didn’t incite panic as in previous years.  We had declared this would not be the year to resume our travel to the prettiest city in the United States, San Diego. Though it is unrivaled in both size, exclusive merchandise and celebrities attending, the San Diego con is just too darn big. It’s really a venture that requires a vacation to recover from your vacation.

Instead, this year we’ve already attended two smaller conventions that are easier on our wallets, feet and noses (other attendees often forgo hygiene during convention time.)

Our first trip in the middle of February brought us to the city otherwise home to the world’s most famous mouse — Orlando. We went to Mega-Con for the first time last year and enjoyed both the scale and pace. There was enough to see and do for a couple of days, but we didn’t look like we could be extras on the Walking Dead when the convention ended.

The droids you're looking for

This year, the show featured Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series), David Prowse (the “body” most often occupying Darth Vader’s suit, and Tia Carrere (Wayne’s rock goddess from “Wayne’s World.”) They were all professional and friendly, which is always a relief.

The highlights of this year’s show, however, were the two panels we added. The first was a retrospective on DC’s Teen Titans with former artists and creators. They stressed the importance of not becoming too attached to certain story lines or specific versions of characters since the comics must evolve to remain relevant to ever-changing world of comic readers. The Titans of the 1970s and 1980s will not appeal in the same way to new comic fans.  More than once, the panelists had to remind some of the attendees that the Teen Titans are just characters in a book.  This concept didn’t make sense to some of the smellier among us.

The second panel involved experienced cosplayers who shared information on how to cut costs without sacrificing the look and authenticity of your costume. We learned better techniques to making metallic surfaces on a budget as well as plenty of ideas for future projects. The panelists regularly attend conventions and other events and never break the bank doing so.  This was a panel we could have enjoyed for hours because of the amount of information and ideas.  It was over far too soon.

Holly (Kathy Coleman) from Sid & Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost

A side trip to Orlando and Google research took us to Rock n’ Roll Heaven, a great record shop in downtown Orlando. The condition of the albums were so pristine that I was convinced they were reissues. They had almost everything a collector could hope for in virtually every genre. We picked up Nilsson Schmilson, a Big Brother and the Holding Company album, Van Morrison Live and Queen II.

Wesley Eure was on a routine expedition…

One of the owners looked as though Jim Morrison had resurfaced and decided to inhabit a record shop. It was really uncanny. We discussed our collection and music and he gave us some suggestions for music documentaries. He told us Davy Jones frequented the shop since he lived close by. He said Davy always put on a great show for the Flower Power events at Epcot. We were especially sad to hear of Davy’s passing just a short time after our return from Orlando.

Once we came home, we headed to our second convention of the year — Steel-City Con in Monroeville, Pa. We’ve gone to this show five times now and each time keeps getting better. They’ve started adding bigger media guests and more vendors are seeing potential on the modest retail floor, especially when they see Duane coming with wads of cash and no filter for what he’s willing to buy.

The deciding factor for the show was the announcement of the Sid and Marty Krofft reunion tour featuring Kathleen Colemen and Wesley Eure (Holly and Will from “Land of the Lost”) Johnny Whitaker (“Sigmund and the Sea Monster” and “Family Affair”) and Butch Patrick (“The Munsters” and “Lidsville.”) The previously mentioned C-3PO, Billy Dee Williams and his son, one of the cast members from Beverly Hills 90210, a wrestler from IMPACT Wrestling, and Susan Olsen and Christopher Knight (Cindy and Bobby Brady) rounded out the lineup.

We had a lengthy conversation with Ms. Coleman who told us how her and Wesley’s scene for “Land of the Lost” movie ended up on the cutting room floor. She also wanted our advice on other conventions to attend, which we were all too willing to give.  She may be the sweetest celebrity we’ve ever met.  I mean, come on!  She’s Holly from Land of the Lost!  She rocks!

I also couldn’t resist asking Mr. Daniels what it was like wearing the C-3PO suit. He recounted cutting his foot during the first take and said the entire costume was dreadful although he did add that it got better with each film.  Seeing some of the people in line behind us, I believe his nightmare was only beginning.  Smells were already wafting forward from what appeared to be an unwashed Pokemon costume two sizes too small.

Convention season is in full swing now.  It’s exciting to see events across the country taking shape and knowing friends that we’ve met from standing in line are representing geek-dom well by reporting back on their encounters.  Live long and prosper, fellow fanboys and fangirls.

You want REAL Star Wars 3-D? Try this instead.

One of the best ways to gauge the success of a toy is its ability to appeal to generations of children without changing the formula. There are a few that come instantly to mind — Playdoh, Slinky, Lincoln Logs and of course, LEGOs.

My first memories of LEGOs involve dumping them from a large bucket onto the floor and trying to figure out something to build with the colorful, plastic interlocking bricks. Usually, my limited abilities could only muster a house with a very square roof or a poor replica of The Great Wall.

I was never incredibly adept at making masterpieces on my own, but enjoyed playing with the blocks once in a while. Fast forward a couple of decades to our first trip to Comic-Con when we encountered oversized LEGO creations featuring characters from Toy Story and Harry Potter.

So, while shopping that Christmas season, we decided to try our hand at the modern LEGO playsets and chose a set based on The Weasley’s home from the Harry Potter series, The Burrows. We put it together on Christmas Eve night last year in a few hours while watching Christmas cartoons and have decided to make it a Maddy tradition.

Unlike the buckets containing a mix of various sizes, these new sets have ridicuously detailed instruction panels, allowing you to build miniature worlds, one piece at a time.

Since we had such a wonderful experience with The Burrows, we requested my in-laws buy us a larger LEGO set this Christmas. It’s been an incredible way to connect, a great family activity, and a nice escape from the internet/iPhone/other electronic devices.

So, on Christmas morning, we open our gift to discover a LEGO Millennium Falcon, complete with a slew of miniature Star Wars characters to go with it. A week later, we set out on the mission to tackle the monochromatic blocks that promised to look like Han Solo’s prized ship.

We dumped out the various bags, containing the more than 1,200 miniscule blocks, hooks, caps and rods that would bring the Falcon to life. And we were greeted with not one, but three instruction manuals on how to build this massive replica of Star Wars’ famed ship. After wondering how an 8-year-old could put this together alone, we began separating the parts by color and shape and continued our mission.

Piece by piece, layer by layer, the Falcon started taking shape. First, the floor gave way to the control room and area where Luke honed his Jedi skills, I could almost hear him say, “With the blast shield down, I can’t even see. How am I supposed to fight?” (Coincidentally, the set also comes with a LEGO Luke complete with reversible head and blast shield.)

We spent hours in our toy room upstairs, fighting off the leg-fall-asleep syndrome and the carpet imprints onto our skin to configure our miniature ship. The almost-hexagonal frame became a second nature to us as we replicated designs that would make up the exterior panels of the ship. One of my favorite features in the removable chamber that slides Luke in and out for the dog fight with Tie Fighters.

"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."

When we finally snapped the cockpit on and placed Han inside, there was much celebration, although our chihuahua was presumably unimpressed. We placed the Falcon next to its slightly larger twin in our collection (which we did not have to assemble.)

After conquering the Falcon, Duane decided to surprise me with the complete Hogwarts set for my birthday. Our nieces and nephew had gotten us an addition to the school which we put together in a few hours on Christmas Eve, so we were eager to attach it to the larger set.

Again, we were met with three instruction booklets laying down the challenge for the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry.

This time, we tried a new strategy in which we each took a book and started putting together the bags corresponding to our chosen book. We then interlocked them when completed.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all its LEGO glory.

The detail of the set is remarkable, from the Gryffindor and Slytherin common rooms to the Great Dining Hall to the Owlery to the image of Sirius Black in the fire place. Many of the most intricate details of these sets are never seen by the naked eye, yet it was not overlooked.

While building these sets, I couldn’t help but wonder who designs them? Do they have LEGO engineers sitting in a room, jotting down every minute detail — every sticker placed, every joint locked?

With theme parks now in California and Florida and building sets based on multiple movie franchises and beyond, LEGO is challenging the imaginations and budding architectural skills of generations of children to come, and all of us adults who remain children at heart.

Let the convention season begin!

San Diego Comic-Con (http://www.comic-con.org/cci) will not be a destination for Ashlee and I again this year.  We missed last year and, sadly, will miss again this year.  It’s almost a full-time job to swing tickets with the near “Power Ball” chances of being chosen, and between airfare, hotel, and car rental, it costs more than some full-time jobs pay.  Considering that we do not go ‘small’ for our trips to California, we felt it would be best to avoid pretending to be Mitt Romney with our monetary capabilities, if you catch my drift.

We are heading to a couple of familiar geek-friendly spots, though.

Mega-Con (http://www.megaconvention.com) is an Orlando, Florida convention, held on February 17th-19th, with a variety of fan entertainment.  There is a major focus on anime, which is highlighted by a slew of slothful sycophants wearing garb from their favorite Pokemon.  I become annoyed by their constant hugging and interaction with random strangers who share their interests in squealing upon meeting – and hugging.

Apart from the deluge of woven hat wearing, pubescent squealers, Mega-Con offers fan interaction with panels of comic book artists and writers, Star Wars, and various other topics, as well as autograph lines for celebrities like Stan Lee, cast members from Start Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other favorites.

Lego fans are always abuzz over the diorama displays of dynamic dimensions.  Lots of vendors are available for screen printed shirts to display your love of Dr. Who or the Green Lantern, the Green Hornet, the Green Arrow, or possibly even the Green Giant.
Further north, Steel-City Con (http://www.steelcitycon.com) is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania convention, held on March 2nd-4th.  It’s a smaller scale version of Mega-Con by far, but still has great media guests.

 

The focus for Steel-City Con is different.  It has a majority of its space taken up by vendors of classic toys and collectables.  There are no panels.

Media guests in the past have included Adam West and Henry Winkler.  This time, there is an incredible lineup of 70s stars and Star Wars actors.  Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and his son, Corey Dee Williams (Klaatu – a minor character from Star Wars) will join Anthony Daniels (C3PO) for autograph signings and photo opportunities.

Stars of the classic television series, The Brady Bunch, will be in attendance as well.  Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) and Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) will be there.  Wesley Eure and Kathleen Coleman (Will and Holly – Land of the Lost), Butch Patrick (The Munsters and Lidsville) and Johnny Whitaker (Sigmund and the Sea Monster and Family Affair) will all be representing a mini-reunion of Sid and Marty Krofft Superstars.  That will bring back Saturday Morning memories for me!

Lidsville <–Theme Song/Intro

Stepping forward two decades, Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210) will be appearing and Ian Petrella, who played Randy on ‘A Christmas Story’.  That should cover most famous people named Ian.  There are plenty of other media guests and artists attending to fill up a full weekend, so this should be a fun excursion without the high cost of airline travel cross-country…although, there is not a more pleasant city on earth than San Diego, California.

Summer movies we're geeking out about

It’s movie season, which means we’ll soon be sitting in the dark, enjoying the air conditioning, getting jujubes confectionaries stuck to our clothing and spilling super-sized soda pops on our pants.

Yay!

And this summer seems particularly action-packed. It hit a couple of weeks ago like Thor’s hammer and doesn’t seem like it will let up until August.

Double-yay!

Some of us are having trouble deciding what movie to focus our excitement on. Take Ashley Craig for example:

So I’ve got a list, all of which I’m super excited over and will likely see alone. Yeah. I’m that nerd.

So far my list consists of X-Men, Captain America, The Tree of Life, Super 8, Cars 2, Colombiana and maybe Transformers since Megan Fox is out.

Here’s what the rest of us are geeking out about:

Nerd: Me, Brad McElhinny

Movie: Green Lantern

Comes out: June 17

This could all go wrong. It could be too heavy on special effects. It could be the Fantastic Four of DC Comics movies.

But even the trailer gives me butterflies and makes my arm hairs stand on end. For a funny book dweeb, it’s so cool seeing what seems like old friends on the big screen. Look, there’s Abin Sur! Look, there’s Kilowog! Hey, there are the Guardians of the Universe! It’s Oa! (“It’s Oa” would be an excellent half-hour comedy on the SyFy channel. Oa is a planet inhabited by the Guardians of the Universe and they’re cranky little blue guys in robes. What’s not funny about that?)

And then to hear the Green Lantern oath — “In brightest day, in blackest night, etc., etc. — that really produces the chills.

Ryan Reynolds looks like a winning Green Lantern, too. He looks good humored — moreso than Hal Jordan has ever been portrayed.

Making time to go see this movie in the theater? Yes, I’ve got the willpower for it.

Nerd: Jared Hunt

Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Comes out: June 29

I’m  interested in seeing the new Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie.

Not so much for the plot, but — given its subtitle — I’m interested to see if the movie tracks along with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon!

 

 

 

Nerd: Ashlee Maddy

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Comes out: July 15

It’s a film franchise more than a decade in the making. This summer, we will see the final showdown between one of modern cinema’s greatest villains and one of the greatest protagonists–Lord Voldemort and The Boy Who Lived.

For 10 years, the Harry Potter franchise has been building to the final two hours of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. The terrific trio (Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger) must decide if all their sacrifices have been worth it.

For those who haven’t read the books, this film finally reveals where Severus Snape’s allegiance lies. We must also say goodbye to several characters we have grown to love during the climatic Battle at Hogwarts.

It really comes down to the quintessential question–can Good triumph over Evil? I can’t wait for July 15!!

 

Nerd: Duane Maddy

Movie: Cowboys and Aliens

Comes out: July 29

I am looking forward to a lot of movies this summer. The one that captures my attention more than any other is ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ directed by John Favreau, but includes help from heavy hitters Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

The film has an all-star cast that includes Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde and the very underrated actor, Sam Rockwell. The plot is exactly what it sounds like. Arizona is invaded by a spaceship in 1873. The aliens’ intention is to overthrow the earth. The only thing standing in the way is a select gang of rough ridin’ cowboys. The film is based on a 2006 graphic novel by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley…and every kid’s imagination since 1950.

Nerd: Josh Work

Movie: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Comes out: August 26

Outside of the various comics-related movies coming this summer, I’m a bit curious about the remake of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” set to come out this August.

I’m not usually a big fan of horror films, but Guillermo del Toro has producer credits. I’m a big fan of his “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Orphanage,” and the “Hellboy” movies were pretty great, too.

Katie Holmes is the lead actress, which is a bit of a turn-off, but Guy Pearce as the father figure might redeem it.

How about you? What movie has you excited most?

Writing out the what ifs….

I’m about to reveal my deepest, darkest, most guiltiest of pleasures.

I love fan fiction.

I read it. I write it. Heck, I’ve even edited a few stories here and there.

For those scratching their heads about this fan fiction thing, I’ll explain. Fan fiction is exactly what it sounds like, fictional stories written by fans of a specific television show, comic book, movie, etc.

If you didn’t like the way a certain film or book ended, you can write it differently, the way you think it should have went. Or if you want to expand on a television show that has long since ended, you can do it.

What if Gilligan hadn’t thwarted one of the Professor’s many plans to repair the S.S. Minnow?

What if Jack had been able to fit on that floating chunk of wood with Rose after the Titanic went down?

What happens when Superman loses his powers for real and is forced to live without them (kind of like in Superman II but like forever)?a meal at the fortress of solitude
What if McDreamy stayed with his wife and away from Meredith at Seattle Grace?

These are the types of things that fan fiction writers have tackled in the past.

Fan-written fiction itself has been around for a long time but didn’t start to really take off until Star Trek rose in popularity. As my co-worker and huge Trekkie friend Jared Hunt said, you’ve got to find something to do in your time without Trek.

There are some in the fan fiction world who argue that Star Trek: Nemesis (the last of the Trek movies with the TNG crew), was a work of fan fiction because the screenwriter was a long-time Trek fan when he put pen to paper on Nemesis, sending the crew and the Enterprise-E looking for some guy named Shinzon who is essentially some kind of humanoid living amongst Remans. That, however, is another post for another day.

It’s not something I went looking for. I was looking for something to do, specifically something to read. I’d devoured all the books I had in my room and the library was out of the question just then, so I started wandering about the internet.

It was sophomore year of high school and I’d just gotten my first computer, so the internet was still this brand new thing full of the unknown. One night I simply typed the name of my favorite television show at the time (the long ago cancelled Roswell) into a search engine and up popped a website boasting fan fiction about the show.

Confused and curious, I started reading. An hour in and I was hooked. There were so many stories involving the Pod Squad and their adventures in Roswell or what could have happened to them after the show ended when they packed up and fled the tiny New Mexico town.

Within a few months I’d read every scrap of fan generated fiction on that website and had gone in search of more. That’s how I landed on www.fanfiction.net, one of the largest repositories of fan fiction on the internet.

There was so much to read and not enough hours in the day. Continue reading

A magical trip through Harry's wizarding world

I’ll just put it out there. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. But, as was evidenced during a recent trip to Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure, so are thousands of other Muggles. For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter, that’s unmagical people.

My husband very kindly indulged my obsession to make the excursion to the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter during our Orlando vacation. I researched the park thoroughly before we went and got a game plan in place.

Now, I’m not usually an early morning person, but for my favorite boy wizard, I made an exception. I hit the floor at 6:30 a.m. We arrived at the gate at 8:40 and were pleasantly surprised they were letting guest in ahead of the 9 a.m. opening. I suspect this has a great deal to do with Harry. We followed the mass exodus of humanity making their way past the colorful lands of Marvel Superheroes, Dr. Seuss and the mystical Lost Continent. We were all on a mission…a mission for magic. Continue reading