Transcript #253

MuggleCast 253 Transcript

Show Intro

[“Hedwig’s Theme” plays]

Micah: Because James Potter just should have known better, this is MuggleCast Episode 253 for May 13th, 2012.

[Show music begins]

Micah: Today’s podcast is brought to you by, the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to

[Show music continues]

Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 253. Selina, Eric, Micah, and I are here this week, bringing you all the latest Harry Potter news and we’re going to talk more about Pottermore. And no, we’re not going to complain this week.

[Selina laughs]

Micah: Maybe.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: We have positive things to – well…

Micah: A little bit.

Andrew: Yeah. [laughs] You never…

Micah: Never say never.

Selina: Yeah. [laughs]

Eric: I love how you…

Andrew: That’s always a given.

Eric: You said that with a straight face, but the first news item is like, “Pottermore: Are they telling the truth?” [laughs]

Andrew: Right. Yeah, I take it back. [laughs] Well, what I meant was our main discussion…

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: …will be a positive Pottermore discussion.

Eric: Yes.

Andrew: We’re going to be talking about the Dursleys’ backstory as well as J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on the Dursleys, and McGonagall’s backstory as well. And then we have your e-mails and tweets to get to. So let’s start with the news. Micah, what is in the news this week?

News: Update on Pottermore’s Future Book Releases

Micah: Pottermore.

[Prolonged silence]

Eric: Oh, okay. Thanks, Micah.

Selina: Yay.

[Eric and Selina laugh]

Andrew: Okay, thank you. Moving on now.

Micah: Yup. Well, you didn’t want to talk about anything negative associated with it, but the…

Andrew: This isn’t negative news.

Eric: This is…

Andrew: I think this is good news.

Micah: It’s not negative news, but I guess the discussion that we have about it may lead in that direction. But Charlie Redmayne, who is the new CEO – or newly-appointed CEO several months ago – spoke at the London Book Fair. And I guess he was asked about Pottermore, and he said that Chamber of Secrets and other books are coming in the next few weeks or months. And what do you guys think about this? I mean, Chamber of Secrets obviously would be the next, and if you’re saying the next few weeks…

Selina: Right.

Micah: …where does that put us? Maybe into June sometime, and then obviously the other books would follow. But it’s just, to me – I’m trying to get my head around – what’s the schedule for the releasing of these books? Why are they not committing to a specific date? I know they’ve had issues committing to dates in the past, but why not just lay it all out there? Is it a material issue? Is it – are not all the books ready yet? What do you guys think?

Selina: Well, I don’t think all the books are ready yet, because it seems like a lot of work goes into creating each book, and I almost feel like it would be better for them if they spread out the releases. If he’s really saying the books will be coming within the next few months and he’s sort of expecting this scattering release of all six remaining books, I think that would just be a bit anti-climatic for fans. Like, I wish we had something to look forward to in that way.

Andrew: Oh, I think – and I think it’s better that they do spread out the releases.

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: Because, one, I doubt they’re much further than maybe even Prisoner of Azkaban. They may still be completely focused on Chamber of Secrets, who knows how far they’ve gotten. But I think – if they were to release all of these books at once – say they did do that, or released even three at once – people would page through them so quickly they’d be done…

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: They’d be done.

Andrew: …in two hours.

Eric: Yeah. No, I think that the initial timeline that they had said – it had new books every six months, maybe longer. And that was too long. That was like a – we’re talking three years of every six months, and it didn’t work out that way. Now that we have this news that it’s going to be a few weeks or months between each of the books, I’m glad that the timetable has sped up a little bit, because we’ve been in beta for so long as well. I think it’s more suited that we get it maybe a few months – maybe three months, apart. Say it’s three months apart for every book.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: Okay, I think that’s a little bit better, considering you can finish each book within a couple of hours. Content wise, who knows where they’re at? But I think – this timetable, if they stick to it, if they’re able to stick to it – and I’ve always hated the vagueness of their dates, like, “Oh, beta’s open in October.” Well, does that mean the 1st or the 31st? I’ve always hated that. So I do wish, agreeing with what you said, that they’d give us a specific date, for crying out loud, and just stick to it.

Selina: [laughs] Yeah, but here’s the thing though with that: I agree that I think that maybe a three-month release is a pretty good amount of time, but what are they going to do with Pottermore once all the books are out? Because this huge thing, Pottermore, was going to keep the fandom going, but once all the information from all seven books has been released, what’s the point of it? Collecting house points? [laughs]

Eric: Well, then at that point, they’ll just work on the second part of Pottermore…

Selina: Right.

Eric: …which is the shop.

[Eric and Selina laugh]

Eric: There’s always…

Selina: They’ll have Casualmore. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, Casualmore. Exactly.

[Andrew and Selina laugh]

Andrew: Well, I just think that – getting back to what he had to say, these interviews he’s done lately have been very reassuring. It’s good to hear that they actually are pretty close to Chamber of Secrets. I didn’t really expect it to be this soon.

Micah: Right. And in that article, you actually bolded a couple of things worth talking about, aside from the fact that new books are in the works over the next few weeks and months. Something else that came up is the site is going to get incredibly exciting, and his job will become much more exciting. So that should have fans excited.

[Selina laughs]

Micah: And then, “Over the coming weeks, you will see more of J.K. Rowling’s content and books ‘fly by.'”

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: What does that mean?

Eric: Fly by. It means fast, it means speed.

Andrew: Well, now that they have their server problems out of the way, all they’ve got to focus on now is books.

Eric: Are the server problems out of the way truly? Do we…

Andrew: I think so.

Eric: I’m having trouble with Flash.

Micah: Well, no one on this call can answer that.

Eric: [laughs] Yeah. Well, I’m having trouble with Flash, I think. When I went back in there to grab content for today’s show, I was clicking things and it wasn’t working. And then I was scrolling – I was hovering over with my mouse and then things would click. I don’t know if I’m just doing the whole Pottermore thing wrong.

Selina: No, that happens to me as well. I’ll go in there and I’ll hover over stuff and it will sort of – you know what it does? It kind of moves when you can click on it, but I can’t actually click on it. And it really annoys me.

Andrew: What I’m about to bring up may be a little too nerdy, but Flash, which the site is based on – and we all know Flash.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: We’ve all seen Flash sites before. It’s kind of…

Selina: Outdated?

Andrew: The technology is aging.

Selina: Mhm.

Andrew: And it’s never been that great. And it’s bad for tablets. It’s bad for actually physically touching, so this stuff will never work on an iPad unless they completely revamp it. Something else he – Charlie Redmayne, the CEO – mentioned is that there will be new interactive and community functionalities…

Selina: Yay!

Andrew: …being added in the coming weeks as well. And in a follow-up interview – he’s been doing a lot of interviews lately. In a follow-up interview, he said they are going to make it less restrictive.

Eric: Ooh.

Andrew: So…

Selina: That’s a good sign.

Eric: So clothes are coming off.

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: Well, one of the things I thought would be the first things that they would change is they would let people see their real names.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: That seems like a big thing that they were a stickler against, though.

Selina: Yeah, it seems like they’re really going back, but I guess they are listening to fans though, which is good.

Andrew: Well, the one thing – because he also said, “Well, we’re going to keep it just as safe but make it less restrictive,” so it’s like, “Well, how are you going to do that?” I mean, one of the ways could be maybe you can opt in. You can be like, “Yes, I am 18 years or older.”

Selina: Right.

Andrew: “Please show my real name,” whereas people younger would still not be able to.

Selina: Or only your first name, maybe.

Andrew: Yeah, or maybe just first name, right. And maybe new messaging features, who knows.

Selina: I hope so.

Andrew: I don’t think they’ll do a chat room, though.

Selina: Like, have some kind of thing, personalized thing on your profile, or have some kind of thing that you can say, “I’m not just a number collecting points for a house, but it’s actually me.”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Well, no, hang on, hang on. I think you’ve gone too far.

Selina: Oh. [laughs]

Eric: Because we each have our own house, we each have our own wand.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: And a wand is very specific.

Selina: But I…

Eric: And I think – we speculated before, sorry, that as later books come, we’ll get more things, like a Patronus in Book 5, say, or an Animagus in Book 3. Things like that, that may make it a little bit more in-depth. I mean, it’s just the first book. I think what he’s saying here with these exciting new community features, they may come hand-in-hand with each book. I’d hate to think that sorting and wands is the only book tie-in to your profile page. I would like to think as you go through, you can have different things like pets, like what Andrew had said, and other stuff.

Selina: Do you guys remember – and this might again be going too far, they probably wouldn’t allow this, but do you guys remember really old school Internet chat rooms where you had little icons and you sort of moved from room to room and you chatted with people? That would be so cool if you could chat with people in the common room and in the Great Hall and… [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, that would…

Eric: Yeah. They always said the same thing to me when I got in those chat rooms, and it was “ASL?” ASL, question mark. ASL, question mark.

Andrew: Even today though, I don’t think you can go in chat rooms and really – people don’t really ask “ASL” anymore, do they?

Selina: What does “ASL” mean? Do I want to know?

Andrew: “ASL” means “Age, Sex, Location.”

Eric: Question mark.

Selina: Oh right, of course, yeah.

Eric: They’re trying to hook up. People trying to hook up.

[Selina laughs]

Eric: I don’t know. I still have AOL, I could go into the chat rooms.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: But I don’t see a reason to. Yeah, obviously – if we get a forum, chat rooms would be good.

Micah: I don’t think – no.

Selina: I think it would be too far, I think you guys are right. We don’t want “ASL.”

Andrew: And chat rooms require moderators.

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: I don’t think they’re going to do that.

Micah: You just see that, though, on sort of the social communities that have already been created – look at, for example, with MuggleSpace. I mean, I doubt the chat there is Harry Potter all the time. In fact, I know it’s not.

Andrew: [laughs] Very rarely.

Micah: So it would take a lot of moderation, like you’re saying, on the part of Pottermore…

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: …to really keep it in line, I think, and fan-friendly.

Selina: I think I just want Pottermore to be some kind of interactive Hogwarts. [laughs] That’s what I keep wanting it to be.

Micah: Well, they’re trying, supposedly, and my concern remains – if you’re going out there and you’re saying now that within the next few weeks that fans are going to have this new book – because let’s not forget, the people who were in beta for so long have had Sorcerer’s Stone since last summer. So…

Eric: Or some variation.

Micah: Yeah, they’ve had almost a year now to play around with this thing, whereas the new members are just getting accustomed to it. But it’s kind of like, well, your one million beta testers really want something new. They’ve been sitting out on the sidelines and haven’t really had much to experience. So they better deliver, and deliver soon. That’s just…

Eric: I like this guy.

Micah: …what I think.

Eric: I’m just going to say that this Charlie Redmayne, he seems pretty cool.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Micah: Well, I’m glad you like him. But the other thing I wanted to bring up really quick – because I saw a couple of people tweet about it and I actually got an e-mail this morning – is why is Pottermore sending out sign up e-mails to people who have already signed up? I understand…

Andrew: I got that, too!

Selina: Me too, I got one.

Eric: I got that, too.

Micah: I understand if you registered an account and you didn’t follow through on it – Andrew, you brought up in previous episodes that people probably signed up and forgot about it. Okay, if it’s a reminder that’s one thing, but you should know the people who followed through and signed up on your system. I don’t get that.

Eric: Yeah, one day ago I got the same e-mail:

“Have you signed up to Pottermore?”

Andrew: And “to Pottermore” sounds like it’s a verb.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: “Have you signed up to Pottermore?” Like, “Have you done the Pottermore?”

Selina: [laughs] To Pottermore.

Andrew: Do the Pottermore!

Eric: Sign up to Pottermore.

“We are delighted that Pottermore is now open to everyone.”

This is from the e-mail.

“If you haven’t yet signed up, now is your chance to discover if you’re magical.”

What do you mean “if you’re magical?” [laughs] Is there an option that you’ll…

Selina: You’re a Muggle. [laughs]

Eric: …sign up to Pottermore and you won’t be magical? “Sorry, Muggle. Can’t come in.” [laughs]

Selina: Yeah, you fail the Sorting.

Micah: I don’t know…

Andrew: Yeah, it was – I thought the same thing when I saw that.

Micah: They seem very unorganized across the board.

Andrew: Really?

Micah: In terms of what they’re doing. Yeah, I mean – well…

Andrew: I’m starting to think you’re right.

[Everyone laughs]

Selina: What was that you guys said about not being negative? [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, let’s…

Micah: Well, no – look, I think it’s a great platform, I think there’s a lot of great content in there, but I think the way that they’ve done things so far is less than desirable for fans.

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News: Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection Gets Low Reviews

Andrew: What else is going on in the news?

Micah: The Wizard’s Collection is continuing to cause much controversy amongst fans.

[Selina laughs]

Micah: And we talked about it, I think, on the last episode, but it seems as if this collection is just not sitting well with fans of the series. Hypable had a great article about the fact that the collection itself has a 1.5 star rating amongst 200 reviews, or over 200 reviews…

[Eric laughs]

Micah: …on, which is interesting considering the Wizard’s Collection is not due out until September.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Nobody has seen it.

Micah: So how you can review something…

Eric: This was a fantastic article. I loved this article.

Andrew: I’m glad you liked it.

Eric: It’s just – you give Harry Potter fans a year – this is the other thing, [laughs] is that they’re going to – they’re going to speak their mind. But this just is a good indicator of what the Harry Potter fan is thinking. The reviews that are talking about this Wizard’s Collection so negatively before it comes out shows that we’re kind of fed up with Warner Bros. marketing. And it’s not just this collection. Maybe this one got the brunt of it because it’s the latest incarnation of basically repeating the same stuff we already own, and reiterating it, and putting features that we’ve already seen onto these discs, and selling it for this huge price, this ridiculous price.

Selina: Yeah, I think it is a huge price. That’s the main issue here. I mean…

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: So huge.

Andrew: So what should the price be?

Selina: A hundred dollars? [laughs]

Andrew: WB has it retailed for 500 dollars, Amazon has it discounted to 350, but what should it actually be after a discount? 150?

Selina: I would say a hundred. Because we don’t get…

Eric: A hundred dollars.

Selina: Do we get any new material besides the box?

Andrew: Well, if you think about…

Eric: The little books, right?

Andrew: But if you think about most box sets, they are pretty pricey, usually around the 100 dollar range.

Selina: Maybe 150 then. I don’t know.

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: Because you do get seven films.

Eric: How much do you really think it costs to make this, is the other thing.

Andrew: I’m sure they’re making bank off of it.

Selina: I don’t know.

Eric: I’m just like – there’s like a stamp collection or a tattoo collection that comes with it, right? In addition to the movies.

Selina: I feel like you get – because what you get with it that’s supposedly so special is that you get that it’s one out of like 35,000 or something, and you get, like, “This is number 753.”

Andrew: Yeah, something like that.

Selina: I feel like that’s so ridiculous. Like, if they were going to give anything to warrant this huge price, it should be, like, an autograph from J.K. Rowling or something, you know?

Andrew: Yeah. And you should get – the general consensus, as I wrote in the article, is that people want extended editions…

Selina: Yes!

Andrew: …and content that isn’t on the DVDs that they already have.

Selina: Blooper reels. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah, blooper reels, for example. And in fairness, WB has said in the past they are going to keep announcing new features, so we’ll see what may come next. We know, as we talked about on the last episode, there’s going to be more from the Dan Radcliffe/J.K. Rowling one-on-one interview. It’s like ten minutes of additional footage.

Eric: [laughs] Extended features of their extended features.

Andrew: Right.

Micah: So basically what they’re doing is they’re integrating a lot of what was on the Ultimate Editions into this set, right? So one of the things I did was I sent an e-mail to WB and I wanted to know, “Hey, are you guys planning on releasing Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2 Ultimate Editions?” They haven’t responded yet, I don’t know that they ever will. But I think that’s one of the main issues that’s out there for a lot of people who have bought these Ultimate Editions: They want a complete set.

Selina: Mhm.

Micah: And are they going to be able to do that?

Andrew: Right, because all the Ultimate Edition boxes are specially designed to kind of sit next to each other.

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: And they all look similar.

Selina: And we all want our shelves to look neat and organized in that way, you know? [laughs]

Andrew: Right.

Eric: You just don’t do anything half-assed.

Selina: No.

Eric: You don’t do six Ultimate Edition collections, and not do “7” and “8”.

Selina: No.

Eric: You just don’t do that.

[Selina laughs]

Eric: Like, the reason I don’t own the Ultimate Editions is because even them – even they looked like repackaged features from the get-go. It was cool that they had the unique documentary, but even then it was split across eight parts, right? So you’d think they’d complete the whole set. But besides that special documentary – which was almost a selling point. I very nearly purchased the Ultimate Editions for it – the other big thing, I guess, was the opportunity to watch the film ABC Family version with…

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: …deleted scenes put back into the film. Instead of what we did previously – which was you had the deleted scenes but on a separate disc, or you view them separately – you could view them as an extended version of the normal film.

Selina: Yeah. That was cool.

Andrew: As some people brought up though in this post, there weren’t that many deleted scenes. So if you add these deleted scenes into the film, and you make them “Extended Editions,” you’re not really getting that much more out of it.

Eric: Even if they did that…

Selina: The deleted scenes have just always been such a disappointment. Like, you’d go into it and you’re like – it’s five minutes of the same scene and then at the end they add, like, a long look from Snape, or something.

Eric: Yeah. You’re right, but I think the other reason for that is that these films – they really did make the films they set out to make. You’re not going to find extra scenes, really, because very early on, they would have been nixed before they ever filmed them.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: It’s not like – Dumbledore’s funeral, for instance. It’s not like they filmed it and just didn’t put it in.

Selina: No.

Eric: That was a huge decision that they made very early on. “It was never going to be in the film,” I think David Yates is quoted as saying.

Selina: Yes.

Eric: So there are never going to be that many special features, like bonus deleted scenes, to warrant a special edition. I’m thinking that the Ultimate Editions were just a mistake to make, to begin with. Maybe they feel the same. But I think they should make “7” and “8”.

Selina: I agree with you.

Andrew: I bet they will. I think they’re just going to come after…

Micah: Well, it’s more money, too.

Andrew: …the Wizard’s Collection.

Micah: I mean, that’s the other thing to look at, right? And there’s a huge opportunity there, for people who have the set already, to make money off of them by putting theses two discs out. So I just don’t understand, though, with the speed with which they put out I think Movie 3, Movie 4, Movie 5, and Movie 6 in Ultimate Edition format. It was very, very quick. And I don’t know exactly how many months were in between, but that’s kind of how they did the release. And I guess they tied it to the movie coming out – Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, they had that opportunity to market it, but it just kind of dropped off completely once the last film came out. So I don’t know – and I guess they were waiting for it to do Part 1 in Ultimate Edition until Movie 2 was in theaters and – or I guess out of theaters. But it just seems like a slight to fans, a little bit of a slap in the face that they’re doing it this way.

Eric: Because essentially it’s like, “Oh, just keep buying, just keep re-buying the same stuff. We know you’ll like it. We’re going to throw in a sticker book, and it’s going to be awesome.”

Selina: Yeah.

Micah: Well – because the point is it’s not like the content doesn’t exist, so it’s just a matter of packaging it together and putting it out there like they did…

Eric: Yeah.

Micah: …when they were putting the other movies out in such rapid fashion. So – yeah. But the only other thing I would add to that is, for fans who were complaining about it, the solution: don’t buy it.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: You don’t have to buy it.

Andrew: Right.

[Selina laughs]

Eric: You really want to say that, though? Because – I guess that’s…

Andrew: Because you’re not – you don’t get much extra. So what else is going on in the news, Micah? Please.

News: Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated at MTV Movie Awards 2012

Micah: Yeah, the final bit of news: the MTV Movie Award nominations were released back at the end of April, and as expected, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 picked up several nominations. And the awards show is set for June 3rd, voting is open now. This is one of those shows – what’s interesting to me is we always talk about when we have no control over it, we’re always so upset that Deathly Hallows doesn’t get nominated – or sorry, Harry Potter doesn’t get nominated. Whether it’s the Golden Globes or the Oscars, those are things we have no control over. Well, here’s an awards show we have plenty of control over, and can easily have impact on the outcome of who wins these awards. So what ends up happening, though, is that people don’t vote enough and they get upset when…

[Selina laughs]

Micah:Harry Potter doesn’t win against movies like Twilight, and this year The Hunger Games is going to be a part of it. So a lot of interesting categories there. What do you guys think? What does Harry Potter have the best chance of winning?

Andrew: Well, I love this year’s awards because all three big film, book-to-film franchises are going up against each other…

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: …as you had mentioned. So it’s going to be really interesting, and there’s going to be a lot of feedback [laughs] once all the awards have been announced by the different fandoms.

Eric: I think ‘Best Cast’, right?

Selina: I hope they win ‘Best Cast’.

Andrew: Okay, but here’s the thing you have to keep in mind: it’s all about the people voting, and if Harry Potter fans aren’t reminded enough to vote, it’s pointless.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: So Harry Potter fans have to get out and vote.

Selina: I pretty much – I’m predicting right now – I pretty much think that Hunger Games is going to sweep these awards, because their fandom is most active at the moment because we’re still in the middle of the series, and the fandom is still so fresh, and the fans are still – I mean, I’m not saying Harry Potter fans and Twilight fans are less enthusiastic, I’m just saying I think that The Hunger Games – because things like ‘Best Kiss’ – I’m particularly fighting for Harry Potter to win ‘Best Kiss’, not necessarily because of anything besides the fact that it’s the only category that would put Rupert Grint up there. [laughs] And it’s – I always feel so bad for him in these awards, because it’s always Daniel Radcliffe for ‘Male’ and obviously Emma Watson for ‘Female’, and he never gets anything. So I’m just like, “Just give him that, at least.” But anyway – so I don’t see how Hunger Games couldn’t win that one or ‘Best Fight’ or ‘Best Female Performance’, ‘Movie of the Year’, you know?

Eric: Yeah, I think I’m going to just repeat what I just said. I think ‘Best Cast’ is a – that Harry Potter has a great opportunity to win that just because there’s so much – so many people that people like, whereas I think with The Hunger Games there are still fans…

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: …who feel adverse about – even something like Gale’s casting, you know? People say Gale and Peeta should have been switched, their casting, and feel that way, which is odd to me, but whatever. And again with Twilight, it’s really only about two people, Bella and Edward. And Jacob, obviously. But even though I like the Cullens…

[Selina laughs]

Eric: …you really don’t see a whole lot of them, they’re not – it’s not really about them, etc. The cast of Harry Potter, nothing is ever going to come close to it.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: So I feel like it has a good chance.

Micah: Well, it’s interesting because in the ‘Best Male’ and ‘Best Female’ categories it’s – in my opinion, it’s Harry Potter versus The Hunger Games, because there is no Twilight nomination in either of those categories. So…

Andrew: Yeah, and the Bridesmaids fandom isn’t going to be coming out…

Micah: Yeah, exactly.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: …to vote.

Eric: Are you kidding? They have been out…

[Selina laughs]

Eric: …since – in all the other awards.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s true.

Eric: They won the Comedy Awards, for crying out loud.

Andrew: Well…

Eric: Last week they swept…

Andrew: At what?

Eric: They got three…

Andrew: But were these fan-voted awards?

Eric: Oh. Yeah, probably not.

Micah: And I just think you can’t compare though, Eric, to your point with the ‘Best Cast’. You look through these movies, I haven’t seen most of them, but Bridesmaids, The Hunger Games, 21 Jump Street, and The Help are all up against Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It’s not a contest.

Eric: Yeah, it’s really not.

Micah: And – but that’s the thing, are people going to go out and vote? Are you going to have that more-active fandom like Selina was talking about with The Hunger Games that’s going to go crazy and vote every single day, as many times as possible, versus Harry Potter which has kind of become a little bit complacent.

Eric: We need to take out ad space on our site.

[Selina laughs]

Eric: We need to retweet, and retweet, and retweet…

Selina: Yes.

Eric: …saying, “Harry can still make a difference. Vote ‘Best Cast’ for the MTV Movie Awards.”

Selina: See – but I think that’s a pretty good sort of test, really, is how excited are we for Harry Potter to win these awards? Do we – I mean, I’m not saying, “Do we care?” but do we think it’s so important that we’re going to go in and vote every day and campaign for it and stuff, or are we just sort of become a bit complacent like we’re saying the fandom has?

Eric: I don’t know, I’m kind of motivated by Micah’s call to action here.

Selina: [laughs] Yeah!

Eric: I think I do want to vote, because that’s what it was. And I like the MTV Movie Awards. Thinking back, they’re the shows – that’s the award show that I watched first, before the Oscars, before the Grammys. MTV Movie Awards, primarily because of the skits, but also because they have the movies that I like. It’s more fan-oriented, and so I think I will vote now, thank you very much for the reminder.

Selina: Good! We should all vote.

Andrew: If you ask me, it comes down to which studio’s Twitter account is promoting it enough.

[Eric and Selina laugh]

Andrew: And I think the best thing Harry Potter does have going for it, that said, is the fact that it is the last chance it has at the Movie Awards. There’s not another film, whereas there will be for Twilight and Hunger Games. So that’s it for news!

Micah: That’s about it, as far as the news goes.

MuggleCast 253 Transcript (continued)

Pottermore Discussion: Dursley Backstory

Andrew: All right, very good! Now, like we said at the start of the show, we are going to talk about Pottermore, some of the new material from J.K. Rowling we’ve been going through recently. And this week we’re going to be going through the Dursleys’ backstory as well as McGonagall’s backstory, two very interesting backstories that were very fun to read. And Eric is going to lead this, I think.

Eric: Yes. Before we go into this, remember, Pottermore is now open to everybody.

Andrew: [laughs] Don’t forget!

Eric: Don’t – [laughs] in case you put your e-mail down and they e-mailed you and said, “In case you haven’t signed up,” Pottermore is open to everybody. So – look, we have two items that we chose to discuss on this week’s episode. I’m not going to go through bullet point by bullet point, but basically we do learn a lot in – I believe it’s Chapter 2 of Pottermore Book 1, about Vernon and Petunia Dursley. We find out how they met, we find out how they fell in love, and also their relationship with Lily and James Potter. So, what did you guys think? You guys have all read this, I’m sure, by now. I hope because I put it in the doc. What were some of the stand-out moments of this? Because it’s quite a few paragraphs. It’s maybe, I don’t know, two or three pages.

Andrew: Well, why don’t you read the summary first? I think that will be a good way to start.

Eric: Yeah, so I summarized this based on the ten or twelve paragraphs there, and I’ll read this quick. So, Petunia separates herself from Lily and her parents when she figures out that they like Lily and her wizardry more. She secures an office job as a typist and she meets a man who is as ordinary as possible. She confesses the existence of her sister to Vernon and he vows not to care. He proposes to her in his mother’s house. Due to James Potter’s lack of sensitivity, the relationship between James and Lily, and Vernon and Petunia only gets worse. Vernon and Petunia do not attend James and Lily’s wedding at all. The last correspondence they have is the announcement of Harry’s birth. Also, very interestingly, J.K. Rowling sheds a little bit of light on why they try to drive the magic out of Harry, and when they’re running from the letters, why they take him to the hut on the rock. That detail, I thought, was very cool. Apparently there is an old superstition that witchcraft or witches cannot cross water.

Selina: Hmm.

Eric: So that was why they – because didn’t it seem odd reading the first book for the first time? You were like, “Okay, a hut in the middle of nowhere.” It’s funny because didn’t they go to the middle of a cornfield or over a suspension bridge first? So we think Vernon has finally lost it when he persuades a fisherman to give him a boat. But really, it’s based on superstition, so I liked that she had the opportunity to explain that.

Andrew: So, one of the things that first stood out to me here is that Petunia loves the ordinary. She – after learning about Lily and her special power, she hated – and we already knew this, she hated everything about Lily, that she was being treated as special. So, meeting Vernon – it seems like one of the reasons she fell in love with Vernon was that she liked somebody who was boring, [laughs] who was the complete opposite of her sister…

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: …and even fell more in love when he didn’t really care for this Lily, either.

Selina: See, I…

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: And was repulsed by it just as much as she was.

Eric: Mhm.

Selina: See, I – sorry.

Eric: Well, J.K. Rowling’s writing helps, too, and that’s the reason to really read Pottermore and not to settle for my summary, which was probably God-awful. J.K. Rowling’s writing style really helps because when she’s talking about this moment, she’s talking about Vernon driving the correct car and he’s a perfectly ordinary man and he’s always doing the perfectly ordinary thing. And so that helps characterize what is going through Petunia’s mind…

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: …when she meets him.

Selina: I just want to say I never understood the logic of Petunia Dursley. She makes no sense to me. The whole…

Eric: Really?

Selina: And I get that she hated magic so much she was attracted to the idea of getting as far away from it as possible, but to go for someone like Vernon and be so attracted to the fact that he was so unbelievably dull, I do not understand. Like, what kind of life did she imagine that she would – well, I guess that’s the kind of life she likes, but…

Eric: Well, isn’t it also – don’t we learn – and I think one of our Twitter followers has said this, which we’ll get to later in the episode – essentially that because we know that Petunia wanted to go to Hogwarts, isn’t this said…

Selina: Hmmm.

Eric: Is it in Book 6 or Book 7? Where they’re young, and Lily is saying, “Well, we could write to Dumbledore and get you to go to Hogwarts possibly.” The factor – don’t we know from what J.K. Rowling said, that Albus himself wrote Petunia a letter explaining…

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: …why she couldn’t come to Hogwarts, but that he treated it delicately? When it came – she was jealous, essentially. As a young girl, she was jealous that her sister was getting all this attention for, essentially, being a freak, and when it became known that she would not also be able to go to Hogwarts with her sister, they parted ways. There was this split. There was this break. And Petunia never looked back from it. As a coping mechanism for her own self-worth, she convinced herself that her parents were insane, and that Lily was a freak. And unfortunately, she needed to find somebody who felt, or would have felt, the exact same way without all that provocation. So she found the most ordinary man she could possibly come across and marries him.

Micah: It’s interesting to me, though, that Vernon actually believed what it was that…

[Selina laughs]

Micah: …Petunia was saying, because, think about it: you’re a regular person never exposed to the magical world before and the woman that you are dating, all of a sudden, comes up to you and tells you that her sister is a witch. I mean, you’d probably think she’s a little bit off her rocker, wouldn’t you?

Eric: It would make me drop my sausage.

[Selina laughs]

Micah: Whoa.

Eric: Which is exactly what happens.

Selina: What?!

Eric: That was a joke!

Micah: I know, yes.

Eric: That was a joke.

Micah: That’s what’s written in the text.

Eric: They were eating at the time. They were at a drive-in movie or something, and Vernon drops his sausage when she tells him.

Micah: But…

Eric: But yeah – go on.

Micah: The question I wanted to ask you, though, is do you think it’s Petunia and Vernon’s fault that this relationship didn’t really move forward at all, or do you think James has a large part to play in that?

Selina: What relationship?

Eric: I think James is very much kind of the reason – his temperament and Vernon’s temperament are completely clashing. James wants to show off, is proud of magic, has never had a reason to hide his magic, and is just really – he’s unashamed about anything. And the fact that Petunia and Vernon want to act as though magic is not the coolest thing in the world, I see a character conflict with James there, and so I do think – because it hurts Lily, and it’s said that the strain on their relationship, between Petunia and Lily, really hurt Lily. I think James could have tried harder.

Micah: Right, that’s the thing. Because we see so much of that out of him when he has that interaction with Snape as well. It says in Pottermore, “James was amused by Vernon, and made the mistake of showing it.” A smarter person would have just kind of placated him, I think, and just…

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: I think so, too. Especially for Lily’s sake. Because their relationship is really important to Lily, I think that James should have been a lot more – even little things, just mindful of Muggles – so, I do agree. And there’s even some point in the story where James tells Vernon about his huge vault full of gold, and it’s said that Vernon isn’t sure whether James is being honest or telling the truth. And that’s James’s fault, really, because if you come across as that kind of a person where you could be making fun of them or you could be being honest, that’s your problem, I’m sorry. You need to really come across as – you need to really think a little bit more about how you’re presenting yourself, and I don’t think James did that, and I do think that that led to their separation. They didn’t even come to their wedding, for crying out – [sighs] it’s just so upsetting…

Selina: Yeah. There’s definitely…

Eric: …that they couldn’t have been better friends.

Selina: There’s definitely a lot of shadiness with the way that James sort of is portrayed in some of the scenes in the book. You just – you double – you think of him like Harry did, as just this perfect dad who can do no wrong because he’s not there to do any wrong, basically, in Harry’s mind. But then, when you actually look at some of these things, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it? But I guess he is just like Fred and George, really.

Eric: Well – yeah, and I think what’s interesting though is the role that guilt plays, because throughout the series – because we’ve looked at what Snape – he loved Lily.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: And his whole guilt over possibly causing her death, or his guilt over not being the right man for her, eventually caused him to protect Harry and look after him through all those years and lie to the Dark Lord and all that stuff. Well, Petunia’s guilt, perhaps in the role of not being on better terms with her sister when she died or even at all throughout their lives, that guilt is causing her to also protect Harry. And she’s the reason that they take Harry in, and that provides – we know that provides – this strong protection. So all these people have this guilt over Lily, essentially, and that’s allowing Harry to be protected. And Lily’s own sacrifice protects Harry throughout the series. So I just think that’s very interesting.

Andrew: Did anybody have a changed perception of the Dursleys following – reading this backstory? Because we’ve always had this disgust for them, distaste in our mouths, for the Dursleys because of how they’ve treated Harry. Did this allow you to understand them more or anything?

Selina: Yeah.

Andrew: Is anybody feeling better about the Dursleys?

Selina: I just feel bad. I feel like it’s a very tragic story. Petunia was the one who wasn’t chosen, she was the one who was told very early on in her life that [laughs] she was not the special one, and I think that despite – we can hate her for how she let that consume her, but I definitely think – looking at her life, I just think it’s really tragic.

Micah: Yeah. No, I agree. I think, as I said before, my perception of James changed a little bit more than…

Selina: Mhm.

Micah: …really anything related to Vernon or Petunia. And I thought it was interesting – Eric, you brought up the point – that Petunia and Vernon don’t go to James and Lily’s wedding even though James and Lily go to theirs, and Lily is not asked to be a bridesmaid at that wedding. So, I wonder though, is that more of the fact that Vernon and Petunia don’t go because can you imagine them conversing amongst a group of witches and wizards at this wedding?

[Eric laughs]

Micah: It probably wouldn’t have gone over very well.

Eric: Especially with James and Lily Potter. Like, two superstars essentially of Hogwarts, going there – everybody at that wedding is going to think that Lily and James are the best thing ever, and I can see why that would be – that alone, not to mention, surrounding yourself with a bunch of wizards to begin with, would be repellent to the Dursleys.

Micah: It’s a constant reminder for Petunia of what she could have had.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: Well, not only that but we see, as Harry grows, that they cannot be – they do not wish to be reminded at all about magic, that there is this whole other world out there. They prefer to be so close-minded and they prefer not to be reminded of that at all in the slightest. They need to be able to ignore it, to go on functioning. Petunia said that she doesn’t feel unworthy, and Vernon, just because he’s Vernon. So that’s very interesting about “trying to be normal.” There’s this adherence to normal. I keep thinking – Dursleys throughout the series, okay? How the Order gets them out of the house. Is it in Book 5? That fake invitation to the England’s…

Selina: Oh, yeah! [laughs]

Eric: …Best Kept Lawn ceremony? Really, I think over time – and that’s, I want to say, a high – it’s an exaggerated kind of character, but it’s admirable and you kind of just – you do love the Dursleys, I think, by the end of it. Especially because of Dudley’s redemption. There are these Muggles – are they the only Muggles in the series, too, that we know of? Besides obviously Ted Tonks.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: They’re what we have for Muggles.

Micah: Well…

Selina: I don’t think you end up liking them.

Eric: For people who can’t wield magic. No?

Selina: No, I don’t. I really don’t like – how they treated Harry, there’s no excuse for that.

Micah: Yeah. Well, I think – and also Hermione’s parents are the complete contrast to the Dursleys.

Eric: Well, Hermione’s parents are like Lily’s parents, really. The exception is that Lily is an only – or Lily isn’t an only child, and Hermione is. Although she wasn’t originally going to be…

Selina: No.

Eric: …which we also find out in Pottermore. Very interesting. But Lily’s parents, okay? They find out their daughter is this witch, they’re completely – wait, I’m sorry. They were also witches and wizards, which is the difference. But basically, Hermione’s parents – she’s their only kid, they have to support her in that way, whereas Lily’s parents probably share the blame for isolating Petunia, when it was that she was a Muggle-born or a Squib, whatever it is that Petunia exactly is. The fact that Petunia felt neglected, that Lily was more special, is kind of her parents’ fault. So I do blame Lily’s parents, because Hermione’s parents are doing the right thing.

Micah: You were right, though. Just – sorry about that. You were right with what you first said, Eric, though. Her parents were both Muggles, not – they didn’t have any magical blood in them.

Eric: Oh.

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: I must be reading – somebody’s grandmother, maybe it’s McGonagall, that said her grandmother was a great witch. Yes, I’m sorry. I’m confusing their backstories.

Micah: Well, they said there’s probably some magical blood in the line somewhere with Muggles who have magical kids. But I think Lily specifically – I’m almost a hundred percent sure both of her parents were not…

Selina: Were Muggles. Yeah, definitely.

Micah: Yeah.

Eric: So look at it, then: you’re Muggles, you find out your daughter is this witch. What do you do? Well, Hermione’s parents praised that. They were like, “We’re going to raise our daughter just like we always raised our daughter, to be special and that kind of thing,” whereas Lily’s parents were like, “I have two daughters, one of them is special. I’m going to let them know it. I’m going to let the one who is not special know that she’s not special.” She’s going to leave home and get married at the age of seventeen, I think Petunia did. So that’s tough. That’s rough, actually, for Petunia. I definitely sympathize.

Andrew: J.K. Rowling added her thoughts on this whole backstory as well. She didn’t really analyze it too much, she just provided the backstory on the names – how she got the names and there wasn’t too much interest in there, to be honest.

Eric: [laughs] She picked the name “Dursley” based on a town…

Selina: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: …that was near the town she was born in and she said, “I’ve never visited but I’m sure they’re charming people.”

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Unlike the Dursley family, ironically.

Eric: Yeah, yeah.

Pottermore Discussion: McGonagall Backstory

Andrew: Okay, so let’s move on to McGonagall’s backstory now.

Eric: Unfortunately, this is not more redemptive. [laughs] Or it’s not a happier story to tell.

Andrew: It’s sadder, if you ask me.

Eric: Yeah, and it’s in three parts so you get some of it in Chapter 7, then some of it in Chapter 8 of Pottermore, and then the final bit in Chapter 15. So throughout Book 1, you do get these bits added and added on about Professor McGonagall. So this is – again, this is my summary but the real thing, trust me, is five or six times longer. So here’s the summary: Minerva’s mother, who lived in Scotland, falls for a Presbyterian minister, a Muggle, but doesn’t tell him about her magic. Isabelle, which is Minerva’s mother, feels trapped by her secret. Only after Minerva is born does she confess to Robert that she’s a witch and this leaves a big distrust in their marriage. They still stay together but the wife and husband can’t trust each other. Minerva has two younger brothers, who are both wizards. At school Minerva is a Hatstall, which we can talk about a little later on. Minerva is great at Transfiguration and Quidditch. She suffers an injury in the Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch game which gives her a long-standing wish to see Slytherin crushed at Quidditch. [laughs] Additionally, Albus Dumbledore guides her to successfully becoming a registered Animagus. They don’t become close friends until after McGonagall goes back home. She falls in love. She has to tell her new fiancé that she has to cancel their marriage because she doesn’t want to live the same life her mother did, lying to the Muggle that she fell in love with. She works for the Ministry of Magic for two years, she dislikes it due to their anti-Muggle tendencies, and she writes to Hogwarts asking for a job. Dumbledore responds within hours and finds her crying when she learns that her former fiancé has remarried. A trust between Albus and Minerva develops when they get close following that incident. Additionally, McGonagall and Sprout were friends during the last couple of years at Hogwarts. Finally, Minerva did end up marrying her boss from the Ministry of Magic but only after her first fiancé had died. Being quite old in age, her new husband only lasts three years before he dies. They shared a cabin together in Hogsmeade where Minerva’s nieces and nephews would visit. Minerva moved back to the castle after his death where she remained at the castle.

Selina: Awww!

Eric: So that’s pretty sad.

Andrew: Such a deep backstory, too, for something we never, ever hear about in the books.

Eric: That’s true.

Selina: That’s the kind of stuff that J.K. Rowling can just pull out of thin air.

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: Thin air.

Selina: Yeah, this is all of her…

Eric: Yeah.

Selina: Yeah, it’s insane.

Eric: So, is it that none of it was in the books? Like, how much of this could we have guessed at? Any of it?

Andrew: No.

Selina: No, none of it.

Andrew: I don’t think so. I mean, at best the only thing we could have started guessing about is “Oh, how did Minerva get to Hogwarts anyway? How did she start working?”

Selina: Well, what has always been weird to me has been – you know the trophy that we see in the first book going, “Minerva blah, blah, blah,” on the Quidditch team where I guess that showed us that she was on the Quidditch team? Or that her daughter was. I think we speculated that she had a daughter at the time. But I guess that’s the only thing.

Eric: Mhm. I mean, it’s interesting because for as much as we know about McGonagall, from reading the books, this is – it seems to come completely out of left field. Like, it’s plausible, it’s completely fitting with the character, but none of this was really ever into that. Like spouses. I think J.K. Rowling was asked once about spouses of Hogwarts headmasters, or of the professors. “What are they like? Did they live with them?” that kind of thing. And I think Jo said that it was really important and that it may come into play later, but what we find out here is that McGonagall has had this tragic history. Her own parents were kind of – their marriage was ruined because her mom was a witch and her dad was a Muggle. She ends up falling in love with a Muggle, has to tell him she’s a witch or cancel the relationship, so she cancels the relationship. And the guy who loves her – her boss at the Ministry of Magic – she refuses his proposals the first ten or twenty times until the Muggle that she was in love with dies. And then by that time, this guy is so old in age that he dies after only three years of marriage. Like, there’s this long tale of regret and secrecy versus all this other stuff.

Selina: Yeah.

Eric: What comes out of it is that Minerva has this moral code that she got from her father who was the minister, and that’s really all we see in the Harry Potter series, is that she’s a very – well, stern but also she has this sense of right and wrong.

Selina: Mhm. Yeah, that was one of the biggest things.

Micah: Mhm. Yeah, and I think you also get the foundation for her relationship with Dumbledore, and why she is so sort of dedicated to him throughout the series, and really kind of sticks by his side no matter what. It’s said that they have this really deep connecting conversation between the two of them, where he gives pieces of his backstory to her, which I’m assuming is about his sister and his brother and everything that happened when his sister was accidentally killed. So I think that that’s kind of a bonding moment for the two of them.

Eric: And I think at the end of the description, Jo describes both Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore as being kind of reserved characters, and I thought – well actually, yeah, that’s right. They are – they do keep to themselves. Dumbledore’s backstory wasn’t even revealed until posthumously, until after he died. Then it was revealed by Rita Skeeter. But really, people don’t know – people know Dumbledore and people know McGonagall, but we don’t know that much about them in the books, reading through what their histories are all about, what made them who they are. And so all this McGonagall story about not only her parents and their struggles, but herself and what she went through is really cool to have. But does it make you read McGonagall in a new light, or is this something where it’s totally extra? We get it from J.K. Rowling but it won’t influence our reading in the Harry Potter books because…

Micah: No, I think it’s…

Eric: My argument for that is that…

Micah: …meant as extra.

Eric: Yeah, go on.

Micah: Yeah, I think it’s meant as extra. I don’t think it’s meant to influence your reading necessarily of the series, because that all takes place in a separate time than the information that you’re getting. You brought up the Hatstall earlier, I thought that that’s really a cool thing, that essentially her and Flitwick could have switched spots, and one could have been the head of Ravenclaw, the other the head of Gryffindor, depending on what the Hat decided. I mean, I was a Hatstall when I did it. I don’t know if anybody else on here was.

Selina: No. [laughs]

Eric: No.

Selina: Very jealous. [laughs]

Eric: That’s super cool.

Selina: That’s so cool.

Eric: Yeah, I’m jealous, too.

Micah: So I had the…

Eric: So you got to pick your House on Pottermore?

Micah: Yes. I had the choice between Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

Selina: Oh, cool!

Andrew: And you picked Ravenclaw?

Micah: Yup.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to choose Slytherin.

Selina: No. [laughs]

Eric: Well, a Hatstall is something completely new. It’s completely Pottermore, you know?

Andrew: Mhm.

Eric: And it’s cool because then J.K. Rowling was able to say, “Well no, it’s always existed, because you have these characters McGonagall and Flitwick who were Hatstalls, I always knew that.” But it’s never mentioned in the books because it’s not relevant. Isn’t it like when the Sorting Hat – well, the Sorting Hat can’t decide, obviously, but takes a certain amount of time to decide. And ultimately it does decide but it’s stumped, you stumped the Sorting Hat with what you’ve got. And I don’t think Harry could be considered a Hatstall, right? Because it didn’t really take that much time. Or could he? Was the Sorting Hat just speculating, or what’s going on?

Selina: Don’t know.

MuggleCast 253 Transcript (continued)

Pottermore Discussion: McGonagall Backstory (continued)

Micah: Are Hatstalls explained a little bit more in Pottermore? I’m trying to remember, because I feel like somebody said that Hermione was a Hatstall.

Eric: Oh.

Micah: Or am I making that up?

Selina: No, I think Hermione just had the choice that Harry did, didn’t she? Or did she say – oh no, she just said something like, “Oh, the hat couldn’t decide for ages whether it wanted me in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor but it chose Gryffindor in the end.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: So she didn’t actually choose.

Micah: That’s possible.

Eric: The hat chooses – it’s possible. I think Harry – and Hermione, to some extent – had this dialogue with the hat – everybody has this dialogue with the hat. But to be a Hatstall, you really need to stump the hat. I think that’s if it takes longer than five minutes to decide, that kind of thing, then is when the issue is. Obviously with Flitwick and Minerva, they joke in later years that they could have each other’s jobs, because both of them could have equally been in the other house. But the hat, in the end, chose Ravenclaw for Flitwick and Gryffindor for McGonagall.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: Just very fascinating stuff.

Selina: Yeah. I mean, I definitely felt – I really enjoyed reading all of this stuff on McGonagall, because even though it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual books, it still just shows the richness of the world. But I almost felt like – while I was reading it, I was almost waiting for some kind of twist. And I know maybe that’s just me being too demanding, because all of these small stories can’t have something, but – I mean, did any of you guys feel that? Like, were you waiting for some kind of small revelation of some kind, or do you think we already got that?

Micah: Who specifically? Are you referring to anyone in particular?

Selina: I meant for – yeah, but for either of them. Like, really because there was so much speculation during the books that, “Oh, the Dursleys were going to have some kind of huge role to play,” and then we never got that. So I thought, “Okay, well, maybe in the extra material -” or even with McGonagall, because I think J.K. Rowling once said, “Oh, the reason I can’t tell you anything about the spouses is because it might come up in a later book of the Heads of House.”

Eric: And then it never did.

Selina: And then it never did.

Eric: Yeah, and the fact that McGonagall marries someone who we’ve never heard about – is that kind of what you’re saying?

Micah: What’s his name, Eric?

Eric: Okay…

Micah: Say his name.

Selina: Like, I expected it to be more. [laughs]

Eric: Urquart? Elph Urquart? What is it?

[Selina laughs]

Micah: It sounds right to me.

Eric: Elphinstone Urquart. Okay, so she marries this guy who we’ve never heard about before or after. It’s important that she marries him, okay? It’s important that she lets love in.

Selina: [laughs] Aww, I guess.

Eric: But ultimately it only lasts three years and she’s left a widow. And she didn’t really deserve that, she deserves…

Selina: And she kept her own name.

Eric: …happiness. Yeah, she didn’t change her name, which was – I think that was a twist, right?

Selina: [laughs] A huge twist.

Eric: That her parents…

Micah: They say she’s a bit of a feminist.

Eric: A bit of a feminist, right? So that’s kind of cool, I guess, that she would’ve changed her name but she didn’t. I mean, she could’ve gotten married, changed her name, and then changed it back, considering we only met her after she was widowed.

Selina: And she was a bit of a gold digger. I bet that was a bit of a twist.

Eric: No, no – [laughs] in case there was any question whether or not that song applies to her.

Selina: [laughs] Yes.

Andrew: Did we get through these questions?

Selina: I think so.

Eric: My biggest question, though, was that Dumbledore teaches or guides McGonagall, presumably while she’s in school, how to become an Animagus. So I thought that was just really interesting because there was all that speculation for a while that Dumbledore – his symbol is the phoenix, but also that he could turn into a phoenix. Not Fawkes. Not to be confused with Fawkes, but the phoenix and Dumbledore kind of have this thing going on. So it was a question whether or not Dumbledore himself was an Animagus. Turns out he teaches McGonagall how to turn into one successfully.

Andrew: But as you have quoted in all caps, “‘GUIDES’ her to successfully become.” So maybe – could he have led her to somebody who could – who is an Animagus and who could have taught her?

Eric: Maybe. It looked like one-on-one tutelage is the way it read to me, was one-on-one time, which was also interesting because…

Micah: But he’s Transfiguration teacher.

Eric: Well, he is the Transfiguration teacher, but… [sighs]

Micah: And don’t the Marauders teach themselves how to become Animagus? Or Animagi?

Eric: They do teach themselves, so I guess it can’t be too hard, right? But they could have used…

Micah: Well, it’s probably hard. I mean, they’re not idiots.

Eric: Yeah.

[Eric and Micah laugh]

Eric: No. Okay, good point.

Andrew: And has it been said before that one [laughs] Animagus has to bequeath the…

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: …information onto another?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Eric: I’m just saying for Dumbledore to teach McGonagall and then twenty years later or thirty, forty years later for the Marauders to do it without Dumbledore’s help. It’s interesting to compare the two, I think.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, that’s fair. I wish we knew if McGonagall ever had feelings for Dumbledore. Because obviously we knew he doesn’t for her, but did she? Could she have?

Eric: There’s this mutual trust and respect. I mean, we see her in the books defending him all the time, and I think that’s just because of those – she knows that he’s had kind of a messed-up past just like she has. And he has been there for her. She gave him – she hated her job at the Ministry. There was too much of this anti-Muggle bias and stuff. She hated her job there, wrote to Hogwarts, within hours he gets back to her and says, “Sure, come be a Transfiguration teacher under my department of Transfiguration.” So I think she does feel like she owes him a lot, that he’s been a great friend to her.

Andrew: Dumbledore seems to have been a bit of an emotional friend as well, when she was going through the hard times.

Eric: A shoulder to cry on.

Andrew: Yeah.

Eric: An Oprah.

Micah: Yeah, I mean – and I know we kind of give Pottermore it’s fair share of flack for a lot of things, but kind of reading through this – and even there was this one thing at the very end where they talk about McGonagall going back to Hogwarts and saying that she “returned to her sparse stone-floored bedroom in Hogwarts Castle, accessible through a concealed door in the wall of her first-floor study.” That’s detail only J.K. Rowling would give, and it reminded me a lot of reading the books. She didn’t have to say, “Hey, it’s behind this concealed door in her first-floor study,” but those are things that people want to know. I feel like people will continuously ask questions as it relates to these characters and this world, and you always wonder, “Well, where does McGonagall sleep? Where does she go at night?” And now you have that answer. Well, maybe you don’t want to know that specifically, but…

Selina: Yay! [laughs]

Micah: …you get what I’m saying.

Eric: No, no…

Selina: I can rest now.

Eric: Yeah, well, any of the professors, right? Because the only time we see them is really in the Great Hall.

Selina: Mhm.

Eric: But they all have offices, they all presumably sleep in the castle, they live in the castle, so where do they – the only person whose office we’ve been to – well, I guess Snape’s and then Dumbledore’s, right?

Selina: I felt like…

Eric: But each of…

Selina: I felt like I knew this already, but maybe I’ve just been reading fan fiction.

[Micah laughs]

Selina: Like, I don’t know, didn’t we go to Lupin’s room at one point? [laughs]

Eric: What, involving Minerva in her bedroom?

Selina: No!

[Eric laughs]

Selina: Like, where they slept, all the teachers. I felt like we went to Lupin’s room at some point in canon. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I think that was kind of assumed, that they lived in the castle, because they’re always there at night.

Micah: Yeah, but I’m saying there’s…

Eric: Well, yeah, they have to.

Micah: This is just another one of those things that kind of leads to another, like, okay, you’re talking about McGonagall, but how much about Hogwarts don’t we know? Like, how many passages and rooms and things exist there that weren’t on the Marauder’s Map that we still have yet to learn?

Andrew: Hopefully we’ll find out in the encyclopedia.

Selina: Yeah.

Listener Tweets: Dursley and McGonagall Backstory

Andrew: Well, we got some tweets from those of you who follow us on Twitter. We had asked, “What do you think of -” I don’t know what the tweet said, exactly. [laughs] What did the tweet say?

[Eric and Selina laugh]

Andrew: It said:

“For those who have read the Dursley and McGonagall backstory in Pottermore, tell us what you think, we’ll share on Episode 253.”

Micah: Wow, Andrew, how did you figure that out so fast?

Andrew: I’ve always had the MuggleCast Twitter ready at my disposal. So, we got some replies. emiillyy224 said:

“I absolutely loved that Vernon amused James. McGonagall’s was heartbreaking and shows she’s even more badass than we thought.”

Did it really make her badass? I mean…

Selina: She had a hard life, yeah.

Andrew: She’s been through a lot, I’ll give her that.

Selina: And she kept fighting.

Eric: They talk about her having this moral code. I think what’s badass about her is that she denies herself involvement with this Muggle because she knows her parents’ relationship didn’t work out, so she kind of – and it said that the reason she doesn’t tell him that she’s a witch is because of the International Statute of Secrecy or whatever, so I guess that’s a little badass because she’s obeying the law.

Andrew: Yeah, that makes sense.

Selina: Yeah, and she didn’t want to work for the Ministry because of their stance on Muggles. I thought that was pretty badass.

Micah: And the Quidditch, I thought that was badass.

Selina: [laughs] Yeah.

Eric: She’s – Quidditch, yeah!

Andrew: Yeah, that is cool. Nathan_Wingert writes:

“Dursley backstory is very interesting in light of Book 7 and the revelation that Petunia wanted to go to Hogwarts.”

Gonzalo Collarte says:

“Liked how they explained how the Dursleys did see James and Lily a few times before they died and what happened, that was good!”

Yeah, that was a question, I think, a lot of people always wondered; how close were the two couples? Marcia wrote:

“It makes me admire McGonagall even more, if that’s possible.”

Cris writes:

“That McGonagall might have switched places with Flitwick blew my mind. The family cat did bidding before she could talk… whoa.”

[Andrew and Selina laugh]

Eric: The family cat did bidding? Oh, right! That’s a little bit that – McGonagall’s mother tells her that even before she could walk and talk, the cat was [laughs] performing tasks that the baby Minerva wanted.

Selina: That is so cool! [laughs]

Eric: Whatever that might have been. [laughs] And also, baby Minerva made, what, her father’s bagpipes play from rooms away? Wasn’t it?

Andrew: Yeah.

Selina: Yeah. So Scottish of her. [laughs]

Eric: Cute little things. Baby McGonagall was pretty powerful, apparently.

Andrew: And finally, Veronica writes:

“I loved McGonagall’s backstory! After knowing her history and then looking at her in the books makes me love her even more.”

Eric: So there’s our answer.

Andrew: So hopefully we’ll get lots more backstories in the coming – in the future Pottermore books and get connected to the characters more.

Micah: How do you think this rated, though, amongst sort of the content that’s been available so far? Do you guys like this kind of stuff?

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: Do you think it’s not interesting?

Andrew: This is some of the better stuff, I thought.

Selina: Yeah, I agree. I loved the McGonagall stuff, especially.

Andrew: Because the backstories are very encyclopedic which is what people have been wanting for so long. So, if there are a few of these in each book – jumping back to that interview – I think in one of the interviews with the Pottermore CEO, he said Chamber of Secrets is going to be better than Sorcerer’s Stone. So, to me, hopefully that means more backstories.

Micah: Right. And I know there was just one more thing, Eric, that you had here but – I mean, we did get very, very briefly mentions of Minerva’s siblings and her parents, but we didn’t really find out much of what happened to them beyond…

Eric: Yeah, her brothers have kids, so that’s great. I mean, she not only has younger brothers but Minerva McGonagall – her kids – her brothers have kids and so presumably – I don’t know why they’re not at Hogwarts is I guess my biggest, biggest question because it’s the only school in the area for them to go to.

Selina: Well, they might be out of Hogwarts.

Eric: That’s true, age-wise.

Selina: Because they’d probably be – yeah, they’d probably be too old to go to Hogwarts, and maybe – I don’t know why they – I don’t know. [laughs] Their kids wouldn’t be at Hogwarts, maybe that’s too much to ask. Maybe they’re at Durmstrang.

Eric: Right. [laughs] But interesting to know that she does have younger brothers, though, and so that’s kind of cool. I kind of pictured her as an only, not an eldest. Are those the terms? I guess so. But super cool.

Birthday Shout-Out

Andrew: Okay. So, that’s it for that discussion this week. And maybe we’ll do more Pottermore stuff next time?

Eric: Yeah, maybe.

Andrew: We have to look through it more, see what else is available.

Eric: There’s some good little stuff here and there that really…

Micah: Yeah, there’s stuff on Quirrell, I think, right? A little bit of backstory?

Andrew: Oh, right. A little bit. A little bit.

Eric: Got to read more on Quirrell.

Andrew: Eric, to wrap up the show, you have a birthday wish.

Eric: I have a birthday announcement. I want to wish my…

Andrew: Birthday announcement.

Micah: It was your birthday, wasn’t it, recently?

Eric: Yes. Well…

Andrew: Oh, yeah!

Selina: Yeah, it was!

Andrew: Isn’t it a bit full of yourself to wish yourself a happy birthday? We can do it.

[Micah and Selina laugh]

Eric: Oh, it’s not – it could be, it could be. No, I’m not talking about my own birthday, I’m talking about the birthday of my girlfriend Jeanna, and she listens to our show and has for a couple of years now, and probably hasn’t gotten a birthday announcement before, so…

Selina: Awww, yay!

Andrew: Awww. Well, Happy Birthday!

Selina: Happy Birthday!

Eric: Happy Birthday!

Andrew: That’s wonderful. Now, does she have a podcast to announce your birthday on?

Eric: They’re starting – she’s kind of involved in the beginnings of one.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Eric: But I won’t require that of her. I’m…

[Selina laughs]

Eric: My birthday? Maybe next year. We’ll see how popular her podcast gets, let’s say that.

Announcement: Ascendio 2012 & LeakyCon 2012

Andrew: Okay. And also, we want to remind everybody about Ascendio and LeakyCon. That’s the two events that we’re going to be at coming up this summer. Ascendio is the first one, happening in July.

Eric: July 12th to the 15th.

Andrew: Oh, beautiful. In Orlando, Florida, at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. It’s one of Universal’s official properties. You can still register now. Just visit, and there will be – still don’t know what the MuggleCast thing is going to be there, but that TBA. And then all four of us will be at LeakyCon 2012, which is It’s going to be August – [laughs] every time I talk about this on the show…

[Selina laughs]

Micah: 9th to the 12th.

Andrew: …I am typing in the URL as I talk about them.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Because of the dates and I can never remember. Yeah, August 9th to the 12th in Chicago, and that, of course, registration is open as well. Tons of stuff happening there, and we will be doing a full-fledged podcast there. We know that so far. So two places we’re going to be.

Micah: Probably a post-game meet-up, right? Oh, sorry. Post-podcast meet-up?

[Selina laughs]

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, maybe.

Eric: Yeah.

Andrew: Everybody just meet at a restaurant or something. It’s more fun than standing in the hallway. [laughs]

Eric: Agreed.

Andrew: And plus, we have to celebrate the seven-year anniversary of MuggleCast, which is practically that week or something.

Eric: Guys, seven years.

Selina: Wow.

Andrew: Mhm. Special stuff.

Selina: That’s amazing, you guys.

Micah: Signing off!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Goodbye!

Eric: Oh, I have to say, I’ve seen a few sketches of the T-shirts this year.

Andrew: Oh, cool.

Eric: And they look awesome!

Andrew: I haven’t seen those.

Eric: Yes, we’re going to – she’s going to send them on over.

Andrew: Cool.

Eric: But, no, I saw some sketches. I think they’re going to be great. There will be an opportunity to support the show by getting a MuggleCast seven year T-shirt.

Show Close

Andrew: Nice. And finally, a reminder for It has all the information you need about the show. There, you can subscribe and review us on iTunes. You can follow us on Twitter, You can like us on Facebook, which is And of course the fan Tumblr, which is

[Show music begins]

Andrew: And also there, you can get the latest episodes, read the latest transcripts, check up on the tweets, check out the Wall of Fame – everything you want to do, it’s right there at Thanks everyone for listening. From, I’m Andrew Sims.

Eric: From, I’m Eric Scull.

Micah: From, I’m Micah Tannenbaum.

Selina: And from, I’m Selina Wilken.

Andrew: See everybody next time for Episode 254. Goodbye!

Eric: 254.

Selina: Bye, guys!

Eric: Good night!

Micah: Bye!

[Show music continues]