Harry Potter and the Sacred Text- a Podcast

I, like I’m sure many readers of this blog, LOVE Harry Potter. I have read these books at least six times, and every time I read them I find little things that I didn’t see before.

I feel it’s important to tell a little bit of my Harry Potter origin story before I start raving about this amazing podcast. In 6th grade, we had a book day. Everyone brought in their favorite book to talk about it for five minutes during class. I talked about the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories, and a friend of mine discussed a silly book about a boy wizard.

Over that summer I bugged my mom to buy it for me because I was 11 and could not buy things. Then I spent the summer reading it. I finished reading The Sorcerer’s Stone on the Fourth of July during a cookout alone in my parent’s friends house, laying across her living room floor while everyone else was outside. I remember my best friend making fun of me for it, as he would many times over the years, for being wrapped up in Harry Potter. I remember my grandmother visiting from out of state buying me the fourth book and joking that it would take me a year to read it and finishing the book before her trip ended. I sat on the floor of the supermarket I worked at behind the fast line register to read parts Half Blood Prince, so I didn’t lose any time walking to the break room on my break. I remember the deep numb feeling about reading about Fred Weasley and having the feeling replicated only one other time in my life since. And in that time, to try to feel better, I reread Harry Potter.

I found the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text during NerdCon: Nerdfighteria. The wonderfully adorable hosts Vaness and Casper, held a panel where they did a discussion about the first line of the first book “Mr. and Mrs. Veron Dursley of number four Privet Drive were happy to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” As a group, we discussed what the line means spiritually, literally, and emotionally. We discussed what we learn from this line and how it sets up future events.

At first, I thought “This is a little silly” However, I still subscribed to the Podcast and started to listen. I still thought it was a little silly as I listened to the first couple chapters of Book One, but as I listened to it more and realized that these two people were 100% serious about what they were doing and discussing these books in different themes and really shedding light on different parts of the books and really digging in.

At the time I am writing this, I am listening to Book 2 Chapter 15 Aragog. And the Podcast itself is in the middle of Prison of Azkaban.  I’m not too far behind being able to catch up with it so that I have to listen to it once a week instead of once a day.

So far this Podcast is just, brilliant. Vanessa and Casper do a deep dive into each chapter with a theme. With Aragog they are reading with the theme of sanctuary. They find parts of the text that show examples of these themes and how we can take what Harry Potter gives us and use it in the “real world.” It’s such a deep, thoughtful, relook at these books that I’ve read multiple times. There is always new ways to see parts of this text.

One of my favorite part of the podcast is toward the end of each episode, they do a religious practice about the text. They are using different practices from different religions. I honestly don’t know all that much about religion, but I do really enjoy learning about it, and I find this practice fascinating.

If you love Harry Potter and are interested in seeing the text in a different light, I highly suggest checking this out. I linked to the website above, and it can be found on all the podcast directories.

Have you listened to this podcast? Are you in love with it? Do you have any podcast suggestions? Let me know!

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

Welcome to Night Vale

Over the weekend, I traveled to Boston to see live something I’ve been enjoying for a while now: A live reading of a Welcome to Night Vale show.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast experience. It’s been around since June 2012 and currently has 105 episodes. Night Vale is hard to explain. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is very hard to have it make sense in a way that would make someone want to listen to when discussing its plot. It’s a desert town somewhere in the southwestern United States. It exists outside the realm of our space and time. Time is different there. What we hear is the voice of Cecil, the community radio news host. He tells his listeners of the happenings in their extraordinary little town. The opening of the Dog Park, and how no people or dogs are allowed in the dog park. It is a humor podcast with a little bit of horror, spoken in complete deadpan as if what is happening around Cecil is totally normal; because for Cecil, and Night Vale it is.

I love it.

I stumbled onto this weird little thing on Tumblr after the second episode Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL) which had the very odd song “The Bus is Late”  by Satellite High as the weather. I then listened to the first episode about Old Lady Josie and the Angels (which do not exist) and I would occasionally listen to episodes when someone posted them on Tumblr. However, none of my real life friends listened to it, so I had no one to talk about it with so my interest in it moved on to things that I could discuss with other people. For me, liking things involves talking about it and if I can’t talk about it, I tend to lose interest.

About a year ago I made a decision to enjoy things by myself. I felt like I was limiting myself by not just doing it. My friends are, for the most part, in very different times in their lives than I am. If I wanted to do something, travel, see a show, go to a convention, join a book club, I was going to have to do it myself. If I didn’t learn to just do things myself I would probably never do anything. So I rediscovered Welcome to Night Vale, and listened to the backlog of episodes and listened to the audiobook.

When Welcome To Night Vale announced that they were having a new live show tour and they were coming through Boston, I was all over that. I bought a ticket and was ready to go. When I was down in Boston for Nerd Con in February, I scouted out the theater that the show would be so I could find it when I came back so I was ready when I got off the T on Saturday afternoon.

I stood in line with people dressed as Hooded Figures, Cecil and Carlos, the Glow Cloud (Praise the Mighty Glow Cloud), and all sorts of different characters from the radio show. The show was so cool. I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never seen theater like this before. Cecil came out in a yellow plaid suit and read his news broadcast. The visual representation of this wholly auditory experience was, just, I don’t know, neat. It is always fun to be in a room full of people who love the thing you love; even if we don’t know each other, we all have this one thing in common.

The show currently on tour is All Hail, a show about the omnipresent Glow Cloud that is the president of the school board in Night Vale. Occasionally, the great and powerful Glow Cloud will rain down dead animals upon the town which, as you can imagine is slightly inconvenient for the townspeople.

The show is still on tour, and don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is going to see it, so I’m going to leave out the details of the show, but just know that it is a powerful and well worth seeing. The voice actors are amazing, and the weather, Erin McKeown was ah-mazing. I highly recommend that you check her out even if you aren’t interested in Night Vale.

Bringing it back around to Books, as this is a book blog, Night Vale has two novels, Welcome to Night Vale which I listened to. It’s narrated by Cecil Baldwin and is a story that is completely separate from the Podcast, but it is helpful if you are familiar with the characters of Night Vale. There is also a book coming out in October, It Devours!  which I am super excited for. They also have two volumes of podcast scripts if you are interested.

Welcome to Night Vale is a weird, fun show that on its surface is just weird but if you listen, really listen, it’s about everything. It’s covered with many layers of horror and strangeness, but it’s about love and acceptance. I can’t say enough about how amazing the story is. A new episode will be posted on Saturday (Episodes are released on the 1st and 15th of every month).

This is a little bit off topic, but learning how to just enjoy things whether or not my friends like it or not has been liberating. I have never been good at making friends, I can kind of do it on the internet, but in real life it’s hard. I’m rather anti-social and get very overwhelmed around strangers, so I real life friends are hard to come by for me. The ones I have are great. I love them, but I don’t have kids and I like weird things. My friends, for the most part, have different priorities. I do feel an overwhelming loneliness a lot, but I’m learning to accept it.

Have you ever listened to Night Vale? Do you have any fun podcast recommendations? I would love to hear them!

Until next time Internet,

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Deanna

Can I talk about podcasts here on my book blog? Yes? K cool.

In October, a friend of mine started a podcast that is incredibly interesting and different than what I usually listen to when it comes to podcasts. It also one of those things that you, as a listener, need to talk about after listening to it, so here I am.

I should state that I have known the person that narrates and created this thing for more than half of my life, and think everything they do is unbelievable awesome.

Anyway, let’s discuss The Disappearance Podcast.

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What does this meme:

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This painting:

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and made up Knight have in common?

I don’t know, and that is why I am writing this.

The premise of the story is fairly straightforward: the narrator, John Herman, received a box in the mail from a former classmate that went missing about 20 years previous. The box comes to him after the classmate’s father died, the box was found in a closet in the father’s house with a note taped to it, with the narrator’s name on it so it was sent to him. Also written on the note was a quote from an Edgar Allan Poe story; inside the box are 6 rather odd records. The records don’t have music on them.

That’s pretty much all I’m going to talk about when it comes to the plot of this thing because I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a mystery podcast, and I’m bad a summarizing mysteries without giving the whole thing away.

The episodes post bi-weekly for 6 episodes then takes a 4-week hiatus between seasons. Just enough time to fruitlessly research random information that is hopefully relevant.

The story plays with timelines, like the Berenstain vs. Bernstein Bears timelines, worlds where everything is the same, but everything is different.

The first season, six episodes in length, delves into the symbolism of the information on the records. It discusses the Edgar Allan Poe quote at length, which if you read my post about Alexander Hamilton, you know that I spent the two weeks between episodes researching everything about Edgar Allan Poe.

I did learn that when Poe was 15, he was part of the youth honor guard that welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette back to the United States in 1824 and that during his tour of the then 24 states, the Marquis de Lafayette stayed at a place near my current house. So that made the hours and hours of research I did worth it. There is a lot of information to dig through in these six episodes, enough to keep the amateur researcher in me occupied and story present in my mind between episodes.

The second season, currently 5 episodes in with the sixth coming in two weeks on the 20th, deals with small towns and doppelgangers. Doppelgangers freak me out because I also listen to Lore, which has a whole episode about how seeing your own doppelganger means you are going to die. This particular story line does not do my anxiety any favors.

As a person from a small town, although one significantly larger than the one portrayed in the show, but still small town New Hampshire, the politics and small town characters that are depicted are emphasized by knowing those kinds of people and seeing them in every town hall meeting I’ve been to since I was 10.

Why was I going to town hall meetings at age 10? The town wanted to take away high school. #trufax

One of my favorite pieces of this story is the voices, I know most of them. For me, it’s cool to hear people I know, people I consider my friends because we are friends on facebook and that is my basis of friendship, be a part of this really interesting and engaging project. It’s a fun added bonus for me. I like ingesting the interesting things my friends do. This project is one of the coolest pieces of media I’ve gotten to ingest.

I do love myself a good mystery. I love Sherlock Holmes and things based on Sherlock Holmes. I like not being able to figure it out, as frustrating as it can be. I like having to work to find the answer. Right now it looks like I’m not going to get many answers, but I want them. It has it refreshing my podcast stream twice an hour every other Monday waiting for it to post. It has me pressuring people in my office to listen to it and then watching them listen to so I can ask them questions about what they think the moment the episode is over like a crazy person.

Besides this one, I only listen to one other podcast that is an ongoing story, that being Welcome to Night Vale. All the other ones are either news podcasts or things along the same vein as Lore where it’s a different story every week. The Disappearance Podcast tells this story about this missing–declared dead– teenage boy and draws the listener deeper and deeper into the mystery each episode.

I am engrossed with this story. I love it.  I have guilted three people in my office to listen to it because I needed to talk to people about it, but they don’t seem to get that I can’t live with two sentences of dialogue about a thing and then the conversation is over.  Why don’t these people understand that I need to talk this out so I can figure out the mystery?! How am I supposed to get work done if I have to Wikipedia Samuel Johnson and read everything ever written about the death Edgar Allan Poe?

The answer is I can’t, and it’s a problem because I have 2.5 jobs.

So please listen to this podcast and talk about it with me, so I don’t lose it when it goes on its 4-week hiatus after it’s next episode. You can find it at the links below, and I’m sure other places where you can listen to podcasts.

Facebook |  iTunes | Audioboom | Blog

Until next time Internet,

Deanna