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Yule Ball and Wizard Rock Are Now, Unfortunately, RealIn the 4th book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," we were introduced to the Hogwarts school tradition of the Yule Ball, a winter dance for 4th years and up. This also marked the first point in the series when Rowling discussed "wizard music" at length, and introduced the first Hogwarts "musical act," known as the Weird Sisters. From this simple beginning, an entirely new genre of music grew.
In 2002, brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge formed the band Harry and the Potters, and became the first act in a new movement that would eventually encompass over 880 "Wizard Rock" artists.
There's even a 3-day wizard rock music FESTIVAL, called Wrockstock, and a real version of the event originally described in "Goblet of Fire": the Yule Ball. Yule Balls are touring Christmas events full of fans singing and dancing to their favorite Wizard Rock songs. (As opposed to Wrockstock, a single concert planned for one weekend out of the year.)
The video selected here is artist Whomping Willows performing his song, "I Believe in Nargles," at a recent Yule Ball.
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Invisibility Cloaks Are Actually Being DevelopedJK Rowling didn't invent the notion of an "invisibility cloak." The concept has existed for years in various media (most notably as a powerful item in the Dungeons and Dragons games.) But the cloak has taken on some central importance in Potter mythology, with it Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione use it to sneak around Hogwarts, the wizarding school, to create mischief and evade enemies.
In 2010, Forbes reported that invisibility cloaks are actually being developed (along with flying cars and medicines for regrowing bones). Unlike most inventions from sci-fi and fantasy that are "being developed" and only really exist at the conceptual stage, Forbes claims invisibility cloaks are already a reality.
Scientists at Tufts University published research last summer on artificially engineered compounds that interact with wavelengths of light to create the illusion of invisibility.
A property known as a "negative refractive index" allows for electromagnetic wave manipulation. This splits light waves apart and allows you to be able to bend light around an object inside material, rather than absorb light.
This causes the cloak to blend in with whatever people are looking at, making the wearer "invisible".
No word yet on when this technology will be available for meddlesome boy wizards.
Attached is a video from Duke University's research on invisibility cloaks and below, is the closest that Japanese researchers have managed to come to making the cloak a reality. (It actually kind of works and is really pretty awesome.)
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Quidditch is Now a College SportThe most popular wizard sport in the Harry Potter Universe is, of course, Quidditch. In the game, teams of 7 players fly around on brooms chasing a variety of colorful balls, which they catch or shoot to score points, with "the Golden Snitch" standing out as the most significant prize of all. Catching "the snitch" automatically wins the game.
There is, in fact, an ACTUAL National Quidditch League and an International Quidditch Association. They even have a World Cup (like in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). The International Rules are based on a game devised at Middlebury College in 2005, and it's now the basic model used throughout the United Kingdom, the United States and much of the rest of the world. Obviously, no magical Golden Snitches (which are supposed to be quasi-sentient, flying balls) are available, so instead individual players take on the role. Everyone is still required to run around on brooms, however.
Yes, that's right. People are running around on brooms in this sport, kind of like our grandparents used to do with those toy horses that freakishly were just a creepy-looking, lifeless, severed horse head at the end of a broom handle.
If you want to try a new sport and run around on broom handles like a wizard sports aficionado, then you can even purchase your own Quidditch kit and play with your friends like it's a pick-up game of whiffle-ball.
Check out the video to watch some kids spend their college "I could totally be having sex right now" time on playing a fictional sport. I mean, shouldn't they be at a party somewhere emanating their hero Daniel Radcliffe by going out and getting completely trashed?
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Wizarding Schools Now ExistThe "Wizarding School" is at the center of the Harry Potter world. Young witches and wizards go there to learn the ways of magic, as well as to make friends and join the larger magical community. It's also made the word "wizard" into a verb.
But a school like this, with subjects like "Defense Against the Dark Arts" and "Potions," could only exist in the realm of fiction, right? I mean, no one in their right mind would actually try and posit that not only witch craft exists, but works, and should be taught to children, right?
Wrong. You're underestimating society.
A 68-year-old man named Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (note: this may not be his real name) has announced plans to open his own Wizard School, the Grey School of Wizardry, in California. (Obviously.)
Planned classes include Beastmastery, Alchemy, Wand-Making and Spell Casting. There will also be courses about defending against the Dark Arts, and the pupils will be split up into various "houses."
But Oberon insists that he's been a wizard for long before the Harry Potter craze, and that before people referred to him as "Dumbledore," it was just Merlin or Gandalf. Now kids read books that are much, much easier to read and have cooler wizards that hang out with kids more often to look up to.
Some additional research on Oberon has taught us that he's not only been practicing magic for decades, but he's got a few achievements under his belt.
Other than the school, most notably, he created the world's first unicorn. Well, kind of.
In the early 1980s, he claimed to have created the world’s "first unicorn". What he really did, was something quite... eccentric. He created this white, beautiful, mythical, single-horned creature, by doing some minor surgery on a goat.
This "Real Gandalf/Dumbledore/Merlin" also wrote many textbooks that are regarded, by the "wizard community" as the ‘bibles of Wizardry.’
What sets him apart from every other loony who's tried to make magic a real thing and actually bring it into some form of legitimacy? His wizarding school will actually allow children. (Oh, good!)
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart’s Grey School of Wizardry is the first wizard school to be officially recognized as an academic establishment. And it costs roughly $40 to be let in. The man honestly believes that he can teach the basics of wizardry to absolutely anybody.
His beloved wife's name is Morning Glory.
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People Want Owls As PetsAlright, this one's kind of sad. And even though people have always wanted owls as pets to a certain degree (they are kind of cute when they're not being absolutely terrifying), they've never wanted them as badly as they have since the Harry Potter craze started.
Imagine if the Twilight books/movies featured Edward the vampire having a pet, I don't know, Iguana. Imagine how high iguana sales would be.
Anyway, in the books, Hedwig the Owl remains one of the most beloved characters in the series. She's even kind of an icon for the series as a whole.
When Harry first discovers that he is a wizard, his pet owl Hedwig is one of the first magical things that he purchases, and remains a constant fixture in Harry's life throughout his development as a wizard.
It's only natural that Potter fans would want to keep owls as pets, despite the difficulty in obtaining and keeping the animals. Demand has increased for the birds to the extent that a sizable black market has appeared in India for them. (This also has to do with the common use of owls in certain black magic and religious traditions.)
The existence of Hedwig increased the owl-hunting and owl-poaching business single-handedly in India (hence the black market demand for them), as birthday boys demanded owls as presents while hunters shot white owls down -- probably to decorate the dining room mantles of their sick, twisted, "we couldn't just buy them the plushie" household.
The carnage wass so extensive that J.K. Rowling had to speak out and bring awareness to this sensitive issue. "If it is true that anybody has been influenced by my books to think that an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can: please don’t." She should've done her research and made Harry Potter's pet a pigeon. At least then we'd be accomplishing something.
For anyone wishing to obtain their own version of Hedwig, remember... a plush stuffed owl will probably work out better for everyone.
(Thanks to Mark for the research and help)
Also, though, and something that you should show your children, is that who the hell wants owls as pets? They look like demon spawn from a hell dimension that trades human flesh like little kids do Pokemon cards.
People really want THESE hell-beasts as pets? What the f*ck?
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