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Episode 10: “This gap is where it all changed …”

Steve starts “season two” of the podcast by reviewing the past nine episodes, then discusses new things on Pottermore, discovering Diagon Alley in London, how the world of Harry Potter changed during the gap between books four and five, and why that gap left many fans unprepared for book five when it came.

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Comments on SOPA

Today I was asked about my position on the pending legistation in the US congress known as SOPA and PIPA. As the webmaster of a relatively popular website, as a published author, and as a dedicated fan of the Harry Potter series, I firmly oppose this legislation. These bills are intended to fight piracy and copyright infringement, but they are written in a way which is overly broad and which threatens legitimate websites. For example, many websites, including the Lexicon, could find themselves shut down if they link to some external site which includes possibly infringing content. Few site owners would have the resources to fight against such an unfair attack. As someone who has been the victim of piracy and copyright infringement, I support the goal of defending copyright owners and trying to stop illegal pirating of intellectual property. However, I am definitely against anyone who feels that the way to stop such things is to censor and damage the free and open way in which the internet operates. For more detailed information on SOPA, please visit this Wikipedia page.

Steve Vander Ark

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Episode 9: “The Dark Arts … are you TRYING to be bad?”

Steve wonders about the numbers 1531 and 4157, then talks about December in the Harry Potter universe, what makes the Dark Arts dark (and where Crouch Jr. could have learned them), mixes up the spelling of a spell and forgets the order of Priori Incantatem, then recalls experiences with anti-Potter book-banners.

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Episode 8: “And then book 3 came along … a bolt of lightning!”

Steve raves about Pottermore, then talks about dragon breeds, interviews from the misty past, offensive spells, Rowling’s trickery, missing the whole point, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter lore.

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Updates and new stuff

I’ve been wandering around Pottermore lately. Everywhere I look, I find interesting canon information (along with the odd chocolate frog card or galleon). As I’ve mentioned before in the podcast, I won’t be posting all of that new canon information on the Lexicon. There’s no way I want the Lexicon to spoil anyone’s joy of finding for themselves things like the story of McGonagall’s lost love or the purposes of other hidden King’s Cross platforms. However, I have added to the Lexicon little tidbits here and there — Ollivander’s first name, for example. If you’re already on Pottermore you know how wonderful all of Rowling’s essays are and that there’s no substitute for reading these marvelous tales directly from her. If you’re not on Pottermore yet … well, let’s just say that you’re in for a treat when you finally get your owl, get your wand, and get Sorted. Me? I’m a Ravenclaw and my wand is hornbeam and unicorn hair.

There are a few other new things to mention. The latest episode of the HP Lexicon podcast went live over the weekend. You can find out more about it by clicking on the Podcast link on Lexicon pages (or just by clicking here). In this episode I talk about wandering down Charing Cross Road looking for the Leaky Cauldron, the purpose of book two and its connections to book six, and other odds and ends of Potter lore. You can download it from here on the Lexicon or get it on iTunes.

Also, I’ve released the first eBook in the Harry Potter Lexicon Reader’s Guide Series. This book, entitled The Reader’s Guide to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, consists of completely updated notes, trivia, connections, plot questions, and background details about the first Harry Potter book, presented chapter by chapter and even line by line. I’m working on the second book, not surprisingly covering Chamber of Secrets, and I expect that I’ll be releasing a new volume every six months or so.

The book doesn’t simply reproduce the readers’s guides from the Lexicon website. In fact, I intentionally avoided referring back to those notes since they were written many years ago without the benefit of the viewpoint of the entire series. Instead I went at the project with “fresh eyes,” bringing to the text of the book over a decade’s worth of research into the world of Harry Potter.

So far, the book is available on the Kindle and the Nook (whose online store seems to have problems with apostrophes in their book titles, for some reason). I’m looking into releasing it in other formats as well.

Thanks for all the emails and comments. It’s great to know that there’s still such a vibrant, creative, and exciting community of fans out there enjoying Harry Potter as much as I do.

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Episode 7: “There’s a door … a black door with no handle …”

Steve wanders down Charing Cross Road, then talks about hidden pubs, anti-magical roads, questions in book two and answers in books six, floating kitchenware, hanging animals, and other bits of Potter lore.

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Episode 6: “Only two people are known to have done it … and they’re both dead!”

Steve discusses McGonagall and Walpurga and their friends, wobbly bridges, mutant chickens, Bertie Botts Shots, who can and can’t fly, a fateful decision to retrieve a forgotten diary, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter canon.

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Episode 5: “In front of me was a signpost that said ‘Burrow’…”

Steve explains how choices were made about Lexicon content ten years ago, then discovers the Burrow among the hedgerows, an intriguing list from Rowing’s notebooks, and two Harrys over the course of the saga.

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What’s new around the Lexicon

Here’s the answer to the most common question I get in email: Yes, the Lexicon is still being updated and edited. The changes are kind of hard to notice, for the most part, since they consist mostly of reformatting pages and making small edits and corrections to the content, but they’re happening. I work on it almost every day.

There are also changes happening behind the scenes, thanks to Nick Moline who has taken on the role of tech guru. The search is fixed, for example. Registration works, too, which means we can finally mess around with the Portkey again (which I’ve really missed … I love the Portkey!). Nick’s been working on a lot of other things, too, getting the Lexicon running the way it’s supposed to.

Probably the biggest addition to the site lately has been the podcast. I’ve put four episodes online so far and I’m recording a new one in the next day or two. Check it out if you want to spend a little time chatting about the Harry Potter canon.

I will try to post here a little more often and let you know what’s happening with the Lexicon. You can also follow me on Twitter (Lexicon_Steve), add me to a circle on Google+, and visit the Facebook page.


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Episode 4: “Boom! There comes Neville!”

Steve lists things he liked and didn’t like about Deathly Hallows part 2 (SPOILERS), and discusses the warm and cozy Great Hall, the Famous Wizard cards, prejudice through the ages, what Dobby knew and how, and other Harry Potter odds and ends.

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Episode 3: “There’s an Elf head hanging outside the window!”

Steve talks about Harry Potter canon levels, Rowling skipping the ‘t’, teaching styles of Snape vs. Flitwick for First Years, wandering around Grimmauld Place, and other random Potter things.

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Episode 2: “Oh wait a minute, who was that?”

The Daily Prophet newsletters

Steve talks about Pottermore misconceptions, how Rowling changed the online world once before, cool and interesting sources of canon information, Galleons changing the world, the late Quidditch match in book one, and other bits of Potter lore.

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