Monday, March 31, 2014

Similarities between Voldemort and dictators

What Makes a Dictator?

General Traits of Psychopathy

-Charming, charismatic, intelligent, self-confident, independent, self-absorbed, excellent liars, compassion-less, sadistic, hunger for power

-Damage to frontal lobe & amygdala

        -The frontal lobe has been linked to the expression of a moral compass and compassion

-The amygdala has been linked to control fear, rage, and emotional memory
-Damage to these areas (particularly the frontal lobe) can cause highly addictive personalities since they  
are unable to find pleasure from some of the same things that normal people would (reading a book, etc.)
-In the case of sadists this leads to an addiction to hurting/killing others which gets worse over time

-Certain X chromosome linked to aggression→ why dictators tend to be men

-Usually abused and/or lost caretaker in childhood

Voldemort Vs. Hitler

-Childhood: muggle orphanage vs abused as a child
-Highly charismatic vs talented public speaker
-Persuasive & manipulative
-Thirst for power→ control of Wizarding world vs thirst for power leading to pan-Germanism
-Denial (Fudge, Prophet, etc.) vs Appeasement (Prime Minister Chamberlain)
-Focus on purity of blood→ pure blood v. mudblood VS segregation and genocide
-Propaganda→ “Magic is Might”, puppet in Ministry, control of Daily Prophet vs control of media
-Dark mark vs Swastika
-Second Wizarding War vs WWII

-“Voldemort is of course a sort of Hitler. If you read books about megalomania types like Hitler and Stalin, it’s interesting to find how superstitious these people are, with all their power. It’s part of their paranoia, the desire to make themselves bigger then who they really are; they love talking about destiny and fate.” - JK Rowling

"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. The public will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened" - Stalin

-Alfonso Cuarón, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban compared Voldemort with George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein. Both are selfish, show disregard for the environment, in love with power, and seek to manipulate people.

Presented by Paige Yelvington, Rachel Brittain, and Josh Lee

Date Cake (Pseudo Sticky Toffee Pudding) Recipe!

This is a recipe I found a while ago because I had a surplus of dates thanks to Costco. When we had the sticky toffee pudding in Turf Tavern, it reminded me of this recipe.
After having made this many, many times, I've changed a few things to reduce the ridiculous amount of calories and (hopefully) make it taste better. I've written out the original ingredients/quantities in case someone wants to try that first.

1 cup dates (preferably not ones that are completely dried out)
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter (original: 1/2)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (original: 1 cup white sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (original: walnuts)

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour the baking dish. I use a 9" round cake/pie pan. 
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring dates and water to a boil. ** make sure the saucepan has enough room for double the water and dates mixture since a later step causes lots of bubbling 
4. Stir in 1/4 (original: 1/2) cup butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar (original 1 cup sugar) until melted. 
5. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. It will bubble up. Let cool enough so that the egg won't scramble when you mix it in.
6. Place date mixture into a bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
7. Add the 1 1/2 cups flour. It's better to sift or stir the flour separately with a whisk to make sure there aren't any lumps. 
8. Stir in chopped nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.
9. Bake in the oven for 40 to 60 minutes. This is a wide range, but it just depends on the oven. The usual inserting a toothpick to check doneness works well. 
10. Start making the sauce about 15 minutes before the cake is done so it's warm and ready when you get the cake out. To make the sauce, combine 1/4 cup butter with 1/3 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Don't let it boil.
11. As soon as you get the cake out of the oven, let it cool just enough so you can transfer it to your serving dish and move it (gently!).
12. Poke the top of the cake with a fork pretty well and then pour on the sauce to let it soak in. Save some for serving if you like. (original: Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with sauce. Much more bleh than serving it warm)

I would add a picture of the cake, but the cake has yet to stick around long enough for pictures after it comes out of the oven. It looks like a lot of steps but they really aren't that complicated or time consuming! 

Cambridge, Oxford, Tolkein, and Harry Potter! Oh My!

                                                      King's College in Cambridge
                      The Willow that may have inspired the setting of The Wind in the Willows.
                                                      The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford
                                                          All Souls College, Oxford
A height comparison of Roald Dahl and some of his beloved characters (from the Roald Dahl Museum).
                                         A Bust of J. R. R. Tolkein at Oriel College in Oxford.
                                  A Chocolate Frog from The Making of Harry Potter Studios!

                           Some wonderful quotes that can be found around The Making of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter in the Classroom

For our group's final project, we looked for classroom activities for students who are reading the Harry Potter novels. Here are some of our favorites:

Harry Potter Haikus
  • Appropriate for students in grades 3-6

  • Source:

  • Haiku is a very old form of poetry from Japan

  • Haikus have three unrhymed lines. The first and last lines have five syllables each, and the middle line has seven syllables.

  • Students will create their own Haikus based on characters, events, or lines of dialogue from the Harry Potter series.

  • Sample:

    I hope you're pleased with
    Yourselves. We could all have been
    Killed--or worse, expelled.
    -Hermione Granger

Genetic Traits in Harry Potter
  • Appropriate for students in grades 7-11

  • Source:

  • Students review and become familiar  with basic genetic concepts and terms, including DNA, chromosome, allele, dominant and recessive genes, Mendelian inheritance and Punnett Square.

  • Students apply these concepts to identify and examine several examples of genetic traits in  various characters from Harry Potter.

  • Students also examine inheritance patterns of magical ability in Harry Potter, and identify  possible genotypes of the magical ability demonstrated by characters in the series. For examples, students can examine why Hermione Granger has magical abilities when her parents are both Muggles, and why Argus Filch does not have magical abilities even though his parents are magical.

Writing A Harry Potter Script
  • Appropriate for students in grades 3-8

  • Source:

  • Students are given a handout on script writing to provide background information.

  • Students select and re-read their favorite chapter or scene from one of the Harry Potter novels, and then summarize the chapter using the script writing handout.

  • Students then work either alone or in groups to write scripts for their scene. Afterwards, students read each others work and provide feedback for editing.

  • After editing their scripts, students act out their scenes in front of the class.

  • Extension Activity: Watch a film adaptation of another book and discuss whether or not the film accurately captured the tone and spirit of the book.

    • Suggested movies: Matlida, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, James & the Giant Peach

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fandoms & Harry Potter - Wizard Rock

In class today, my group presented some information about the rich fandom culture that has grown up around the Harry Potter series. One of the most unique parts of that culture is "Wrock", or Wizard Rock. For those of you who just couldn't get enough of this genre, here are some more links to examples of Wrock, as well as some fun facts about what has become a vibrant, if sometimes crazy, part of the Harry Potter community.

The genre started in the early 2000s, with the creation of Harry and the Potters. More bands soon followed -- The Whomping Willows, The Parselmouths, Ministry of Magic, and a parody band known as Draco and the Malfoys being just a few.

The Wrock genre is defined by lyrics that focus solely on the Harry Potter franchise. The bands first started to play at conventions and small fan concerts, but many have found widespread success with the support of the fandom. Harry and the Potters, for example, have released three full-length studio albums and have starred in several documentaries.
(For those of you who don't know, a fandom is a subculture made up of fans who share a common interest, like Harry Potter. In essence, fandom = a community of people who love something).

And now, for your listening pleasure:

-Harry and the Potters - "Save Ginny Weasley From Dean Thomas" 

-Draco and the Malfoys - "My Dad is Rich"

-Ministry of Magic - "The Bravest Man I Ever Knew"

-Ministry of Magic - "The House Song"

-Riddle TM - "For Jo"

-Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls - "Flight of the Prince"

-The Parselmouths - "My Obsession"

Matilda the Musical in London

The cast of Matilda the Musical

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More WB Studio Tour, London

MIssed these wand boxes the first time--some famous names from cast and crew.

Box on the left below his own box is Dan R's best friend (his dresser) and box on the right below is his acting mentor and idol
Room-sized scale model used for Buckbeak flyovers, aerial scenes looking down into courtyards or up at the towers, Harry in the dragon task of the Triwizard Tournament
Diagon Alley

Animatronic Buckbeak--or his he alive?

Blinks, ruffles his feathers, turns his head

Fantastic work by the graphic designers

School books in the top row, Weasley Wizard Wheezes at bottom

Danger: Love potions

Ready for our close-up!

No. 4 Privet Drive

Sign on the Night Bus: All Destinations, Nothing Under Water

Bridge that Neville and Seamus destroy in the final battle to stop the Death Eaters

Concept art, Hogsmeade Village

There's a wand box for every person who worked on the films

Room sized scale model used for filming

The clock tower and standing stones from Prizoner of Azkaban

Lighting goes through the full day-night cycle every few minutes

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Vandy Goes to Hogwarts (AKA Warner Bros. Studio Tour)

We are ready

Keep track of the house points

Defensive spells lesson

Entering the Ministry of Magic

Tapestry from Sirius Black's family home

Lucius Malfoy's costume

The Burrow

The mechanical snakes actually move

Hogwarts students in their gear

Yule Ball decorations

Gryffindor boys' dormitory--Ron's bed
Bed of Dean Thomas, West Ham fan
In the Gryffindor Common Room
Stairs to the boys' dormitory

Potions classroom

Gates to Hogwarts
Ravenclaw's diadem