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Dobby is a FREE ElfHello everyone, you may have noticed some changes around here lately, most of them right here in the What’s New section of the site.

The Lexicon Blog

First of all, the What’s New section has now become The Lexicon Blog.  And it’s more than just a change in title.

While the What’s New section of the blog was managed by a copy of WordPress, it wasn’t presented as a blog.  Instead it was presented as a modified version of what the What’s New page always was, a date based list of updates.

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Five errors in the original text of book one and how they were fixed

In the summer of 2004, Bloomsbury released new editions of the Harry Potter books. These new editions featured a slew of changes to the original text. Some of the changes were simple fixes for typos. For example, on the third line of page 15 of Philosopher’s Stone, the word Potter’s was changed to Potters’.

For fans, however, the far more interesting changes were the ones that fixed errors. Many of these errors had been discovered and discussed for several years in online discussion groups such as Harry Potter for Grown-Ups, so in some way the 2004 changes seemed to be a response to fan input. Okay, that was probably not true, but fans did feel some sense of accomplishment when they saw that the errors they’d spotted had been fixed.

Here’s a list of the biggest error fixes in the first book: Continue reading

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Six errors in the Harry Potter films that confuse fans

I love the Harry Potter films. I have dear friends who worked on them. I was on the set during the filming of Order of the Phoenix. David Heyman even told me that they used the Lexicon “every day” while they created the films. So don’t mistake what I’m about to say for anything but loving criticism.

The films are nothing more than very expensive fan fiction. They’re made-up stories closely based on the Harry Potter books, created by people who are massive Harry Potter fans and who care very deeply about “getting it right,” but who, for one reason or another, changed a lot of things. Sometimes they changed things for very good reasons. Sometimes, though, they seem to have changed things for no particular reason at all. I can’t explain it, but there you go.

However, for a lot of people, the films are Harry Potter. They’ve never read the books, or barely read them anyway. As far as they’re concerned, Dementors attacked Harry and Dudley in an underpass below a highway. Snape died in a boathouse. And Harry fought Voldemort in an extended, violent duel at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, punctuated by clever bon mots and death-defying falls from high places.

But oh well. I really don’t care. At least they’re Potter fans! The more the merrier! Just do me a favor … don’t send me any more emails telling me that I screwed up on the Lexicon when I write that:

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Posted in Canon discussion, Rants, The Films | 9 Comments

4 Great Cliffhanger Chapter Endings

Admit it. Even though you’ve read the Harry Potter books three, four, er–twenty times before, when you get to the end of some chapters, you just HAVE to turn the page and keep reading. You even get a tiny reminder of that thrill you had the first time you read it, that shiver of excitement that made you charge on into the next chapter at 3am, even when you had somewhere to be first thing the next morning.

We’ve all been there. So to celebrate our shared unashamed love affair with the Harry Potter books, here’s a list of Rowling’s “4 Best Cliffhanger Chapter Endings” from the first three books: Continue reading

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How’s that spelled again?

At the Lexicon, we try very hard to spell everything correctly according to the books. We also try to capitalize words that Rowling capitalizes. We figure that if we carefully follow the books, we should be able to get it right.

How very wrong we are. Continue reading

Posted in Canon discussion | 3 Comments

At Hogwarts, on this date in 1992 …

On the evening of May 26th, 1992, Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville serve detention. The punishment, which they earned by trying to get Hagrid out of his own stupid mess with the baby dragon, is to tramp around the forest in the middle of the night, unarmed, looking for something ruthless enough to attack unicorns. To add to the fun, Hagrid splits them up into two groups.

Yes, Neville. Read the book.

Posted in Canon discussion | 1 Comment

3 Harry Potter Memes that NEED TO STOP NOW

I enjoy a good Harry Potter meme as much as the next guy. Okay, maybe more than the next guy, since the next guy probably isn’t obsessive Harry Potter fan. True, some are a bit lame and others are clearly aimed at teenage girls, but whatever. We all have our favorite ways to fan-crush on something and I’m great with that. However, there are some memes that are flat-out false. They pop up like Death Eaters and no matter how often fans try to Avada Kedavra them, they keep coming back. Here are three that particularly aggravate the true fan in me: Continue reading

Posted in Rants | 5 Comments

Weird Canon Moments

Oh, of course there are a million things that I wish had been included in the films. But there are a few really weird things that I really would have loved to have seen included. Here are my top three Weird Canon Moments:

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Posted in Canon discussion | 3 Comments

Episode 14: “It’s the Mirror all over again.”

Steve talks about the upcoming Potter play, the latest Pottermore updates, various arcana from the Book of Spells, and sources which may or may not be canon. Then he finally tackles the complexities of the seventh book and explains why, for the entire series to  make sense, the Hallows are essential and Harry’s final confrontation with Voldemort absolutely cannot be violent. Continue reading

Posted in Lexicon Podcast | 3 Comments

Musings on the Lexicon

I did an interview today with a Brazilian newspaper and one of the questions was “What was your favorite experience as a Harry Potter fan?” I thought about all the incredible things that I’ve been privileged to do, from visiting the film sets to exploring Britain to write a book about Potter places, but the best experience? That was working on the Lexicon website with Lisa and John and Bel and the others. That camaraderie and shared excitement and passion was the best by far. And I miss it.

Posted in Website news | 12 Comments

How to organize the spell pages

I’ve been trying to work out the best way to organize the Spell Encyclopedia. There are basically four types of entries: spell names (Full Body-Bind), incantations (Petrificus Totalus), unnamed magic (“fire whip”), and categories (fire magic).

Trouble is, every spell doesn’t have both an incantation and a spell name. Some have neither, some have both. So how do I organize the lists? What do I alphabetize by, and when I have an entry for both the incantation and the spell name, do I duplicate information or link one to the other, so list spells by spell name and list the incantation with a link back to that spell name? But if I do that, how do I list the spells that have no incantation given? And how do I make it clear which spell names are actually given in canon and which ones I’ve had to invent in order to list the spell? I’ve started putting quotation marks around the non-canon spell names, which helps, but still …

Nowadays, this sort of problem seems, well, quaint and archaic. But remember, this is the Lexicon, which was created in the late 1990s before Wikipedia or databased websites or content management systems. Each page is a separately created HTML document and is basically a static page. No sorting on the fly, no clicking on categories, nothing. Yes, yes, it would be great if the Lexicon were recreated in the modern style, but that would take way too much time and money. It is what it is.

So I’m left with the problem: how do I organize the spell lists?

Posted in What's New | 11 Comments

Bestiary and Herbology

When I start reading the Lexicon, I find myself following link after link, rediscovering the rich world of Harry Potter. I might end up reading some old essay or finding a page about nicknames or a map of Quidditch teams of the world … and before you know it, an hour’s gone by and I can’t even remember where I started. I’m not alone in this. I’ve received plenty of emails from people who tell me that they “just spent the last three hours here at my desk, reading things on the Lexicon when I should have been working.”

Well, the same thing happens when I start editing. Over the past few days, I’ve been updating sections of the site. I’ve been reformatting pages to the new style (and cleaning up the navigation in the process). I’ve also been adding canon information all over the place, and not just from book seven. I’ve also been adding notes from the WOMBAT tests, Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Pottermore.

By the way, I’m not including nearly all the information from Pottermore. I’ve been adding some basic information (such as Mr. Ollivander’s first name) and then linking back into Pottermore itself so fans can read all the details on Rowling’s own site. Take a look at the new Herbology page to see what I mean. On Pottermore, Rowling writes extensively about wand woods. All those types of woods are listed on the page and as part of the description, I’ve included a small quote from Ollivander along with a link back to Pottermore’s wand wood page. I like this approach because it doesn’t in any way replace the experience of reading the original source while it does make the connections to the rest of canon which fans appreciate about the Lexicon.

The sections I’ve been working on include:

Herbology – I’ve added missing plants, sources, and canon references to make this the central resource for plant information; I’ve also updated the formatting to put list boxes on the right-hand side and “On this page” navigation at the top.

Potions – I’ve removed duplicate information and added links back to the Herbology page

Bestiary – I’ve updated the information with more canon and sources; I’ve also updated the formatting to the new page style

other creature pages – this is ongoing; I’m updating all the individual Bestiary pages, the ones for dragons, dementors, and so on, changing them to the new style and adding canon and source information

Besides those, there have been edits and updates all over the site because, as I mentioned, I keep wandering off and discovering things which need attention. Sometimes these edits are small. Other times, they get pretty extensive (and I end up with a page half-edited when I run out of time for the night). That’s what happened to several of the spell pages, for example, as I tried to integrate some of the new information from Pottermore.

Posted in What's New | 5 Comments

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Original page date 9 June 2011; Last page update 14 June 2011 SVA