A Quill by Kazarelth Writing Apparatus

World Poetry Day

Photo by Kazarelth Writing Apparatus

“His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
I wish he was mine, he’s truly divine,
the hero who conquered the Dark Lord.”
– Ginny Weasley

March 21st was World Poetry Day. Members of the Central Florida Slug Club celebrated by dusting off their quills and writing some Harry Potter themed poetry (in exchange for house points, of course. After all, there’s a Cup to win!) I must say, I was extremely impressed by the submissions we received.

Some of them were bursting with House Pride.

Bravest and Boldest
Lovers of the red and gold
We are Gryffindors!
— Lauren G.

“Wit beyond measure
Ravenclaw intelligence
The best House there is”
— Stephanie S.

Hufflepuff House Greeting:
Come in, you’ve nothing to fear.
We’ll greet you with happy good cheer.
We’ll not turn you away. We’ll ask you to stay. For everyone is welcome here.
— Anna R.

Others were just straight up funny.

There’s a giant squid in the Black Lake,
I can assure you he isn’t a fake.
He likes to cause trouble
And many many bubbles
He lives underwater, for Pete’s sake!
— Stephanie S.

Some told a tale:

There once was a Slytherin named Snape, His love for Lily he could not escape, He seemed to be bad, But really was sad, And helped the big picture take shape.
— Anna R.

Students speak, Chamber opens, Lockhart is a fraud, a secret is held in it for Tom Marvelo Riddle lives once again as Voldemort!!!
— Joe C.

While some reflected some anger at corporate media shenanigans (with a bit of adult language here):

It is an Eagle
F*ck you Warner Brothers and
Your Raven bullshit.
— Margaret L.

Even though I’m not a Gryffindor, this was my personal favorite for its creativity:

Gryffindor is the best house,
There can be no denying;
We don’t have a badger, snake or eagle
As a mascot;
Instead we have the mighty Lion!

It’s not boasting, when you’re the best,
It’s just tried and true!
We’re strongest and bravest,
Though we don’t claim brightest,
We have proven we’re better than you!
— Candace F.

Let’s keep the creativity flowing, shall we? Write your own Harry Potter poetry in the comments or submit it to cfslugclub at gmail.com for our quarterly newsletter!

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Slug Club members get sorted

Celebration of Harry Potter Social Media Meetup 2016

By Megan Stump

 

Harry Potter Celebration is one of my favorite times of year, and this year was no exception.  In 2015 I was invited to the Social Media meet-up by a friend. I didn’t think anything could top that. I was able to meet James and Oliver Phelps, talk with MinaLima and Alan Gilmore about Diagon Alley, and ride Escape from Gringotts basically by ourselves.  It was a fantastic time, and Celebration was basically a dream.

 

Then about a month ago, Universal announced another Social Media meet-up. I entered on the first go, and in a few days I was notified that I won.  Immediately I decided on bringing my friend Ann Marie since Celebration is kind of our “thing”.  I had no idea what to expect and, even with a second email, all I knew is that we were going to be in Universal for almost five hours with a lunch break.

 

Social Media Meetup Selfie

 

We showed up to the front of Universal at 7:30AM to get our credentials and managed to be the first ones there. I figured there was going to be a long line like some of the Disney meet-ups, but no one else was around.  We came back around 8AM and met up with Meg and Kara from Slug Club, as well as some other friends that we knew were going to be there.  At 8:25 we were brought into the park through a special entrance with the Universal Orlando Resort (UOR) social media team and two VIP tour guides. It was then we were told that we were going to be taken through the day of a Hogwarts student. Off we went towards the Expo entrance.

 

When we arrived, we were told we were going to be sorted into our Hogwarts house. If you’ve never done or seen the Sorting Hat ceremony, a Universal team member brings you up and asks you some questions about yourself. If you have a specific house you feel tied to, they will ask you that as well. If you don’t, you usually end up with either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. After we were all sorted, we took the opportunity of no one else around to take a crazy selfie with the Sorting hat and its attendant!

 

  Slug Club members get sorted

 

The tour guides took us to the London Waterfront where we talked about Grimmauld Place and then about the entrance to Leaky Cauldron and why we end up going through the brick wall to the side of Leaky (purely capacity issues). We then walked into Diagon where we were taken over to the backside of Ollivander’s and divided into two groups to go through the wand experience. Meg was with us and ended up being chosen! Usually at the end of the wand ceremony, the assistant tells you about your “options” but this day we were just walked through the shop with the chosen students getting to keep their wands. I admit I was kind of bummed at first, but it wasn’t for long.

 

They took us straight into Madame Malkin’s where we were told we were there to be fitted for our robes. I couldn’t believe it but we were all handed robes based on the houses we were sorted into at the beginning.  Each of us was also given a wand based on our houses. Gryffindors received Ginny Weasley’s wand, Ravenclaw received Luna Lovegood’s, Slytherin were given Severus Snape’s and Hufflepuff… Fleur Delacour…? We still haven’t figured out why that was the wand for the ‘Puffs, but hey…free wand! The “students’ that had been chosen were given the wand that had chosen them in Ollivander’s. I’m pretty sure I’m still in shock from this. At this point I did the standard Megan thing and burst into tears. One of the UOR social media team members gave me a hug that was greatly needed. At this point, the day wasn’t even half over and it had been the best meetup I had ever been to.

 

Lunch took place at the Leaky Cauldron of course. Each of us received a Gilly Water, an entrée and any beverage that was non-alcoholic. I could have tried any dish, but I stuck with good old fish and chips and my favorite Wizarding World drink – the Lemon Squash.  (Yes I love it more than butterbeer. It’s more refreshing and I can drink it without getting on a sugar high!)

 

 Waiting for the Hogwarts Express

 

After lunch, we were taken over to Islands of Adventure by way of the Hogwarts Express. Our group had our own car and had an exciting moment when the Dementors showed up.  I’m fairly certain the cars on each side of us could hear us screaming.  We were clearly having way too much fun. When we got over to Hogsmeade station, we thought we would be heading over to Hogwarts but they brought us to the front of the park.  Near Confisco’s and the Crescent Moon Bakery is a little gate that is the entrance to the Navigator’s Club.  It usually takes a special event to get up there and, if you watched the webcasts that the cast recorded that weekend, that’s where they were filming! We went upstairs and were given a wand master class by Paul Harris who was the wand choreographer for the movies. He kept telling us to cast WITH VENOM to the point our friend Felipe sent his camera’s lens case flying with all the venom he could muster.

 

We were asked for a group photo with Paul Harris and, as we were all scattering, Matt Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Rupert Grint came into the room!  We were all in shock, but I decided to open my big mouth and reminded Matt that we had had a conversation during Potterwatch in summer 2014. They all had us get together for a photo. I was lucky enough to be standing right behind Rupert and Paul.  After the photo was over, I asked Rupert if I could get a selfie before they left, and quickly snapped it before the stars were whisked away.  It happened so fast! I was the only one to get any photos or anything. I could barely walk down the stairs I was shaking so hard, but managed to make it without falling.

 

 Megan with Rupert Grint

 

They took us over to Hogwarts and we rode Forbidden Journey for our last bit of the event.  Afterwards, we were taken to the Three Broomsticks and given a Chocolate Frog to combat the sad feeling the Dementors left us with during the ride as well as a souvenir stein filled with cold butterbeer.  Before our last picture in front of Hogwarts, we were given a 1-day 2 park ticket and VIP express passes for the rest of the day.
For as many Disney and Universal blog meetups I have attended, this one was truly the most amazing.  I still can’t believe that we were given this opportunity. I was so glad that I was able to share it with people who absolutely loved Harry Potter as much as I do! I can’t thank the Universal Social Media team enough for this event. I’m happy that I wasn’t the only Slug Club member who got to experience this!

 

Butterbeer
Headphones and Quill

Three Fandom Podcasts to Try

I love podcasts.  It’s a new thing for me; I became interested in them well after they became popular. It took a long time to get past the fact that, no, this isn’t like some of the boring talk-radio shows I was stuck listening to on the radio years ago. Podcasts are interesting and engaging; each one I listen to opens me up to some new ideas and concepts. The way I know a podcast will end up being a regular one for me is I find myself talking and/or arguing with the hosts while driving down the highway. (They can’t hear me, but that doesn’t stop me!)

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites that have a fandom and/or Harry Potter focus to them:

1. Mugglenet Academia. Anyone that has been in the Harry Potter fandom for awhile has at least some passing knowledge of Mugglenet, a HP fansite. Over the years, they have rolled out a few different Harry Potter-themed podcasts.
What is it about: Academic discussions of Harry Potter fandom with experts in fields related to the discussion of the day.
Why you should give it a listen: Get a chance to listen very in-depth and educational conversations about the Harry Potter series
Favorite episode: Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, and Troll: Translating Harry Potter, an episode that discusses what goes into creating translations of the Harry Potter series.

2. Fansplaining: This is an interesting fandom podcast that came onto my radar a few months ago when the Harry Potter Alliance‘s Communications Director Jackson Bird was on the podcast. It actually might be my favorite podcast right now across all subjects.
What is it about: This is a general fandom podcast, so the possibilities are endless! The hosts are huge Harry Potter fans though, so HP is included in a number of conversations. Topics tend to be broad (Fanfiction! Copyright Law! Social Justice! Fandom on Tumblr!) and can occasionally jump from fandom to fandom.
Why give it a listen: Learn new things about fandoms you’re in as well as fandoms you may never have heard of before, intriguing discussions that go into perspectives you may never have considered, etc. This podcast satisfies my inner Ravenclaw. Also, it’s one of the few general nerdy/geeky podcasts that I know of with a feminist perspective.
Favorite episodes: Fangirling through Time, an episode that talks about the history of fandom in general with a focus on gender roles, or The Dark Fantastic, an episode that explores race in fandom and pop culture.

3. Always: The Potter Fandom Podcast. Okay, yes, I’m biased in recommending this one. After all, I’m in it! It’s easy to listen to the entirety of this podcast in a short period of time though; not only is it entertaining, but we haven’t had the time to record it in awhile so there aren’t many episodes.
What is it about: This is a podcast is about the Harry Potter fandom, specifically Harry Potter events and fan groups.
Why give it a listen: Hilarious tales of Harry Potter event planning, opportunity to hear about Harry Potter themed events around the world. If you have ever thought of running or helping with your local Harry Potter fan group, I recommend giving this a try.
Favorite Episodes: Conventions, a discussion of Harry Potter conventions, or Harry Potter Food and Fandom, which talks about the various ways the fan groups have used HP themed food for their meetups.

Honorable Mention: Alohomora from Mugglenet. Many people have recommended this podcast to me, but there are so many episodes already that I’m a little intimidated to jump in. It’s quite a commitment. I’ve heard such wonderful things though that I felt it needed a place in this post. Alohomora breaks down the Harry Potter books into small bits, discussing just a few chapters at a time. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your Harry Potter series re-read. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts!

 

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

New Year's Resolutions

Need Help with Your New Year’s Resolutions? Join the Slug Club!

It’s that time of year again when people start thinking about new beginnings. Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions or goals for 2016? If so, joining and being active with the Central Florida Slug Club might actually help you accomplish your goals! How so? Here are some example goals:

  1. Make Friends and/or Get Out of the House More. Making friends as an adult is hard. In school, you always saw the same people in class each year and always had that one thing in common. But as an adult, you don’t necessarily have that. With the Slug Club though, you already know that every single person at our meetups has at least one thing in common – we all love the Harry Potter series. It makes it easier to get conversations started. Even if you don’t say a word during your first meetup or two, keep coming! The more you see the same people, the easier it gets to open up and start talking with new people.
  2. Read More. We have a book club in our group! Book club meets every other month and alternates between re-reading the Harry Potter series (with some members reading it for the first time!) and reading a new book as selected by members.
  3. Learn a New Skill/Try Something New – I guarantee that at some point in the year, you will learn something new at a Slug Club meeting. We’ve had a variety of activities such as knitting your own house scarf, laser tag, cosplay days, and Quidditch pong.
  4. Volunteer. Want to help others and get more involved in your community? We have a subgroup within the Slug Club called S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Everyone’s Welfare) that does community service and activism projects. They’re also a member of the Harry Potter Alliance, an international nonprofit that uses the positive energy of fandom to create social change.12243380_1247831591910240_892006089286919503_n
  5. Get organized. …yeah, okay, we might not be able to help you out much with this, though come find me at a meetup and I will be happy to discuss at length the pros and cons of various planners I’ve tried over the years.
  6. Improve your writing skills. Both our newsletter and blog are always looking for submissions! Write something and send it our way! Also, participate in our book club! Reading the writings of fellow authors helps improve your skills… plus you’ll learn a lot from the discussions about what other readers enjoy and get recommendations on other books to read.
  7. Improve your health. Okay, so our pizza nights probably aren’t the best for this (though they do have vegan and gluten-free options!) But for those who are looking to get more physically active, a number of our members are also in the Hogwarts Running Club. Start a post in our Facebook discussion group and get a group together!
  8. Travel more. There’s at least one Harry Potter convention each year. They are a great way to indulge your nerdy side while giving you an excuse to travel to a location you might not have necessarily visited on your own. (Trust me, I know. New Hampshire wasn’t on my top list of travel locations until I started attending MISTI-con. Now I can’t wait until my next trip up there… and at least 20 Slug Club members are attending next time!)Slug Club and Portkey to Magic at MISTI-con Ball

Have we convinced you? Join our Meetup.com and/or Facebook groups in order to find out about upcoming meetups.

A Positive Start to the New Year

It’s that time of year again, when we want to get the warm fuzzies from the holiday season and the promise of a new year but outside stressors may be affecting our good cheer – crowds at the stores, family drama, that awful customer who procrastinated their project and now puts a rush on you when you’d rather daydream of candy canes or relaxing afternoons at home…

Over the summer, the Harry Potter Alliance released their Positive Fandom campaign, a list of community guidelines to help make fandom a safe, inclusive, and welcome space for all fans. At GeekyCon 2015, they passed out postcards with these points and a list of tasks that attendees could complete in order to work their way towards a more positive fandom (and one of the coveted ribbon badges.) Each task was relatively easy to complete, but really left us thinking afterwards about how we can apply these to our daily lives.

The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. team took inspiration from these guidelines, discussed how these affected us, how could use these reminders particularly through the holidays and new year, and came up with a list of four points where we could use improvement: Kindness, Community, Education, and Self-Care.  During this month-long project, we are asking members of our group and the community to talk about what these mean to them, what they are doing to improve as individuals on each point, and post it on social media with #positivecfslugclub. Keep an eye on Slug Club social media (particularly our Twitter and Tumblr!) for member submissions and ideas on what YOU can do throughout the month! We’re dedicating a week to each point; expect to see a new one up each Sunday through early January. 

 

Intrahouse Rivalry?

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express for the 2015-16 School Year!

Another September 1st has come and gone. As you may know, September 1st is the day that young witches and wizards throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland gather at Kings Cross in London to hop on board the Hogwarts Express for the new school year. While many of us are well beyond our Hogwarts years, every year on September 1st we still don our Hogwarts uniforms, gather at Platform 9 3/4s at 11am, sing the school song, and think fondly back to our school days.

Slug Club at Kings Cross

Slug Club members outside of Kings Cross on September 1st, 2015

September 1st is always a magical day. We see old friends again…   Seeing Old Friends Again

And make some new ones…

Lauren and Carla Magical Law Enforcement Squad

Rehash old rivalries…

Intrahouse Rivalry?

And rekindle those old school romances.

Hogwarts Romance

Eventually, we made our way back to Hogwarts for old times’ sakes.

11244712_10152972354256851_9121824802121956112_n

In the famous words of Albus Dumbledore: “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! […] I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you.”

Now time for the feast!

Cornfundo!

Wait, you’re doing it wrong!

Accio Books 2015

S.P.E.W.’s Accio Books 2015 Drive Would Make Hermione Proud

A couple of weeks ago we delivered the books we collected this year, thus completing our second year participating in The Harry Potter Alliance‘s Accio Books campaign. Last year, we collected over 300 books and were so proud. It was only our first year doing it plus we started with less than half of the campaign left. We expected maybe 100 books.

This year, Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. group was a little more ambitious. When the HPA asked us to set a collection goal, we went for 1,500 books – almost five times what we collected in the previous year. Our team went all out, setting up book collection boxes at their jobs and in local libraries, pestering their friends and family, and partnering with other local groups such as Orlando Nerd Nite and Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic. (It really helped that the organization we were working with was one that many of our members were passionate about helping: Impower FL, a mental health and child well-being organization that serves five counties in Central Florida.) Our total this year? Read More

Potterwatch 2014: One Year Later

by Megan Stump

Several years ago there was a rumor that more Harry Potter was coming to Universal Studios Florida. I had fallen in love with Hogsmeade immediately after seeing the tip of Hogwarts from across the lagoon in IoA, so needless to say, I was very excited. We learned about some fun details at the Harry Potter Celebration. Finally June 9, 2014 the construction walls came down. Read More

So You Want to Attend a Harry Potter Convention: Choosing Your Convention

“So you want to attend a Harry Potter convention?” is our new series to help out first-time Harry Potter convention attendees. We will break down each individual con, provide tips on how to budget, how to prepare, and how to make it a successful con experience.

You’ve been a fan of the books for years and have always been jealous of the pictures floating around the internet of everyone with their amazing con experiences. Or maybe you’re a new fan that missed all of the excitement of midnight book releases and movie premieres. Whatever your reasons, it is time for you to attend your first Harry Potter convention. What next?

Part 1 – Choosing Your Convention

First, pick which convention you prefer to attend. Each convention has a unique style and pros and cons. Your friend may enjoy one con that you hated, while you adored another con that your friend found mediocre. That is totally okay. Each experience is different and valid. As you go through the list, really think about what YOU are looking for in your first con experience. Read More