10 Top Dogs from Fandom Aug31

10 Top Dogs from Fandom

There’s something special about faithful, furry companions in our favourite stories. And how do we make a top ten list when there are so many wonderful canines in geek culture? Let the fans decide! We ran daily “Dog Days of Summer” matchups over August on our Facebook page to make the following countdown. 10. Cosmo Marvel’s spacedog is a liaison to the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping them plan their wild adventures. Former test animal of the Soviet Space Program and current head of security in a city called Knowhere, the talking dog hides the city’s citizens in a dimensional envelope on his collar during the events of Nova comics. Plus, he’s telekinetic and telepathic; as long as his psionic blast isn’t directed at you, you couldn’t ask for a more protective friend. “That does it. That enough. No more Mr. Nice Dog. Now Cosmo will hurt everyone.” —Cosmo 9. Wolf Link All right, all right, he’s not technically a dog, especially since he’s a human in disguise, but we still want him as our best friend. Playable in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link can also be summoned in Breath of the Wild as a companion for Link. “Wolf Link is summoned from another plane of existence and can’t be seen by other people in this world.” —Breath of the Wild Loading Screen Tip 8. Gromit Wallace’s loveable companion in the Wallace and Gromit movies, Gromit was originally going to be voiced by Peter Hawkins, but that idea was dropped when creators realized how expressive he could be just from his eye movements. Gromit is skeptical of Wallace’s inventions and tends to do most of the work for his bumbling friend. He also reads books, listens to Bach, and is great at solving puzzles. “Er, Gromit, old pal? It happened again. I’ll need assistance.” —Wallace, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 7. Zwei It’s not every day you find a dog that happily fits into a small package along with enough food to last him months. He’s also apparently fireproof and incredibly tough, as seen when he destroys an Atlesian Paladin-290 in “No Brakes.” His name is possibly a reference to Cowboy Bebop‘s Ein, also a Welsh Corgi. Eins is the German word for “one” and Zwei means “two.” “Are you telling me that this mangy… drooling… mutt… is going to wiv with us foweva?” —Weiss 6. Underdog As long as you don’t mind him speaking in rhyming couplets and phone booths exploding after he changes into his superhero outfit,  Underdog seems like a handy canine to have around. Able to move planets and fly, among many other superpowers, there doesn’t seem to be much he can’t do. “There is no need to fear; Underdog is here!” 5. Snowy Tintin’s companion, Snowy sometimes struggles making th e right decision when bones or Loch Lomond whisky are on the line. He originally had a dry, cynical personality to balance Tintin’s positivity, but eventually morphed into light-hearted comic relief. “Tintin! Are you dead? Say yes or no, but answer me!” —Snowy, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets 4. K-9 First appearing with the Fourth Doctor in “The Invisible Enemy,” K-9 is known for his ability to beat the Doctor at chess and as Sarah Jane Smith’s companion. Apparently, the writers originally wanted to name him “Pluto” after the Disney character, but Disney refused permission. They also considered calling him FIDO (“Phenomenal Indication Data Observation”). “Affirmative!” —K-9 3. Huan Given to Celegorm, Feanor’s third son, Huan is as large as a small horse and has special powers granted by the Valar. He took pity on Luthien when she was captured and helped her escape, assisting her in killing Sauron’s werewolves and even winning a battle against Sauron’s wolf-form. A prophesy stated Huan could only be killed by the greatest wolf that ever lived. “Arise! Away! / Put on thy cloak! Before the day / comes over Nargothrond we fly / to Northern perils, thou and...

Quiet Character Appreciation Day Aug29

Quiet Character Appreciation Day...

Quiet characters are often overlooked. The bold, adventurous characters carry most of the drama, captivating audiences with their flashy fighting styles and quirky personalities. Meanwhile, the unassuming characters play support roles at best and are negatively stereotyped at worst. When a well-represented quiet character comes along, I get excited because I’m one of the quiet ones, too. Here are seven favourites who have inspired me. 1. Spock – Star Trek Although he is half-human, Spock chose to follow the Vulcan lifestyle of logic and restraint. He’s so controlled that it’s easy to forget he’s actually the strongest person on the Enterprise. Although some characters don’t trust Spock due to his lack of emotion, he works hard to maintain his quiet nature. On the rare occasions when he loses—or is forced out of—control, it’s clear why he does so. I admire Spock’s wisdom and scientific skill, but mostly I respect his commitment to self-control, even though he could influence others through force instead of logic. 2. Lie Ren – RWBY Upon first acquaintance, it’s easy to overlook Ren in favour of his extremely outgoing friend, Nora Valkyrie. Ren may not attempt Nora’s crazy stunts—like riding a Grimm monster through the forest—but no one can question his skills as a warrior. He fights with the calm finesse of a trained ninja, but his steady nature is his best contribution to his team. Even during the rockiest of times, Ren is a reassurance to his friends; that’s a skill that I strive to have. And, of course, who besides Ren will make the pancakes? 3. Edwin Jarvis – Agent Carter When Edwin Jarvis begins helping Peggy Carter, he has some trouble keeping up. His genteel existence is suddenly interrupted by exploding buildings, interrogations, and a host of other...

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings Jul20

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings...

Although each fandom has its share of brothers and sisters, the dividing lines between franchises have prevented many sibling relationships that should have been. Here are some characters that definitely belong in the same family: Wonder Woman and Lady Sif Not only do Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif look like sisters, but they share the same skill on the battlefield and the same passion for protecting other people. They even carry the same weapons: a sword and shield. Westley and Jack Sparrow In The Princess Bride, Westley begins as an unassuming farm boy and ends up taking the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts with such gusto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an actual pirate in the family. Although, Jack would be the awkward brother whom Westley doesn’t talk about, but demonstrates an uncanny habit of showing up at the worst times. Elrond and Spock They may be from totally different times, places, and races, but Elrond and Spock share the same pointed ears, black hair, and affinity for calm logic. Plus, they’re also both downright scary in a fight. Mantis and Odin’s children (Hela, Thor, and Loki) Odin’s bombshell in Thor: Ragnarok—that Thor has an older sister, and she’s intent on conquering the universe—is apt to make anyone a bit paranoid. Many fans have joked that Thor should suspect Mantis of being kin, due to her clothing’s green-and-black color scheme and her horn-like antennae (characteristics shared by Thor’s other siblings, Hela and Loki). Add these hints to Thor’s tendency to adopt everyone—even strange rabbits—and it makes total sense for Mantis to join the family. King Thranduil and Lucius Malfoy Same long blond hair, haughty attitudes, and penchant for strutting around carrying a staff. Definitely related. Amy Pond...

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture Jul06

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture...

We’re talking a lot about siblings this month in Area of Effect! Here are some of our readers’ and writers’ favourites from geek culture—and most of these relationships are defined by a willingness to support each other and grow, allowing the relationship to change and strengthen as the individuals change. Others, of course, end with one killing the other. 1. River and Simon Tam, Firefly Simon gives up everything for River because of his unconditional love for her. And River, in turn, trusts Simon completely even when nothing else makes sense to her. —Marilyn Rudge 2. The Weasleys, Harry Potter Especially Fred and George. You can just tell they’re a close family, even though Percy leaves for a while (they welcome him back). —Kyla Neufeld 3. Edward and Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist Theirs is the kind of relationship I wish I had with my siblings. The age gap and distance between us has prevented the kind of closeness that Ed and Al enjoy. Though the presumptions that lead to conflict in the show are a little too familiar. —Naomi Strain 4. Rodney McKay and Jean Miller, Stargate Atlantis They are so different, but still connected. It’s nice to see someone living their own civilian life, plus the actors are brother and sister so their chemistry is really specific. —Hannah Foulger 5. T’Challa and Shuri, Black Panther They compliment each other so well and encourage each other’s strengths instead of being jealous of each other. Also you can just tell they’re close; they joke a lot, and they really love each other. Reminds me of me and my older brothers. —Caitlin Eha 6. Ruby and Yang, RWBY I love how much Ruby looks up to her sister at first, and how that dynamic shifts as Yang faces the loss...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture? May18

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture?...

As someone who struggles with a chronic illness, I can’t always relate to my fictional superheroes. Thor’s abs and Wonder Woman’s stamina never give up, after all. The heroes are almost always strong, beautiful, and not sick. If a character with an illness or chronic pain does show up, they’re often a weak link for the hero to save; their illness is mentioned once as the butt of a joke; they’re useless until they’re healed; or they’re only there to provide inspiration for the hero’s journey. These tropes are frustrating for those of us who face sickness every day in a society that doesn’t know what to do with us. But sometimes I come across characters who represent accurate struggles of being chronically ill. Here are some of my favourites: 1. Remus Lupin, Harry Potter Lupin doesn’t consider himself a worthwhile member of society because that’s what the world keeps telling him. For example, as soon as word gets out that he’s a werewolf, he has to vacate his position as a Hogwart’s professor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because people don’t want him teaching their children, even though he is safe as long as he drinks his potions. J.K. Rowling has stated that Lupin’s condition is meant to mimic the stigma of blood-borne diseases. His fear of accepting love is a very real thing people with chronic conditions face daily. “‘I am not being ridiculous,’ said Lupin steadily. ‘Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.’ . . . ‘But she wants you,’ said Mr. Weasley, with a small smile. ‘And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.'” —Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince 2. Izumi Curtis, Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse’s alchemy teacher, Izumi is a tough, stubborn, ...

Monstrous Bodies: Fat Shaming in Geek Culture Feb19

Monstrous Bodies: Fat Shaming in Geek Culture...

Vernon and Dudley Dursley aren’t just monsters because of the way they treat Harry; they’re monsters because they’re fat. Vernon has “five chins” and Dudley is “pig-like.” When Dudley gestures at something, he doesn’t wave his arm, he waves his “fat arm.” They are also both brash, lazy, and selfish—traits that are common stereotypes for fat people. If the physical descriptors appeared just once or twice, they would be inconsequential and the Dursleys would just be bad people who happen to be fat. But, in the introductory chapters to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone right through to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Vernon and Dudley’s fat characteristics are repeated over and over again, linking their fatness to their evil behaviour. This is a similar trope to villains having disfigured faces, but in this case, their exaggerated sizes become the visible signal that reflects their moral failings. We live in a thin-obsessed society; one glance at a magazine cover will tell you that. We are quick to judge and assume that fat people are lazy, that they don’t work hard, that they eat too much, that they are stupid, that they are greedy, that they are poor, and that they haven’t tried hard enough to lose weight. Making fun of fat people is still an “acceptable” form of harassment and it’s not difficult to find on the internet. Though shut down in 2015, the subreddit r/fatpeoplehate, which ridiculed photos of fat people—mostly women—had 150,000 subscribers at the height of its popularity. Many of the people who were targeted by this subreddit were doxxed and abused. This is fat shaming; the idea that we can pressure fat people into losing weight if we make fun of them enough. This mentality comes from the...

Dealing with Dementors and Depression Jan08

Dealing with Dementors and Depression...

J.K. Rowling’s dementors, first introduced in The Prisoner of Azkaban, are a frightening, visceral force of evil, serving both as a villainous power and a major plot point. But these cloaked and hooded minions are more than just another antagonist that Harry must defeat; they are reminiscent of a stigmatized, fundamentally human struggle: mental illness and depression. Rowling herself has confirmed that the dementors represent the horrors of depression, and if we take a closer look at these frightening creatures, similarities between their impact on the characters and the realities of mental illness abound. In both the Harry Potter books and their on-screen counterparts, dementors cause a creeping sense of dread, a tangible coldness in the air, and a dredging-up of horrible memories. The longer a character is in the presence of a dementor, whose very name suggests “mental demons,” the worse these symptoms become. Harry hears his mother screaming, feels a numbing cold, and eventually, unable to cope with the horror, passes out. These symptoms are similar to clinical depression—a darkness, an almost existential dread, and claustrophobic, tunnel-like enclosing, which leaves the one suffering in a state of suspended numbness and despair. Though hope may exist outside of the dementors’ range, that hope is inaccessible; it might as well be non-existent to those suffering. Lupin affirms that the amplified reaction Harry has to dementors is not because there’s something wrong with him. The first time Harry experiences the terrifying effects of the dementors, he is ashamed and embarrassed in the aftermath. Though Hermione and Ron are also horrified, they do not respond nearly as viscerally as he does. Indeed, Harry is frequently mocked by his arch-enemy, Draco Malfoy, because of how strongly he responds to the dementors. Lucky for Harry, though, he is...

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 2: Harry Potter Nov03

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 2: Harry Potter...

New from the Geekdom House Records! Four explosive hits from original stars! It’s the YouTube for the Fandom-Loving Soul, Volume Two, featuring the Potterverse. The Second City, Neil Cicierega, Broad Strokes, and the much anticipated TheDCTVshow all make the cut in this once-in-a-lifetime combination that will knock your socks off. All for the low price of FREE. Money back guaranteed. Don’t wait. Watch now. 1. HOGWARTS: Which House Are You? 2. Potter Puppet Pals 3. The Greater Good – Dumbledore and Grindelwald Honourable Mention: VOLDEMORT: Origins of the Heir...

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love Oct30

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love

“I love Professor Snape,” my friend gushed. “He’s the real hero of Harry Potter. And his devotion to Lily Potter is so moving.” I simply nodded along, not understanding her fictional crush but unable to deny Snape’s good intentions; he does protect Harry throughout the series, albeit while mentally torturing the boy for being the child of a man he hated. But then again, maybe I could have denied it. In fact, maybe I could have pointed out that Snape is an obsessive, cruel stalker and not a romantic hero at all. For some reason, obsessive love is sentimentalized in books and media. And this is not a new trend. From Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine, to Bella and Edward, doing anything (and I mean anything) for your lover is portrayed as a desirable feat. I raise an eyebrow when I see the image of a glowing doe accompanied by a cloaked, crooked-nosed figure and the word “Always,” Snape’s key phrase. It’s plastered on memes, throw pillows, and iPhone cases as a testament to devotion, but that’s not what it really represents. Snape is a fascinating and well-developed character, but to use him as a model for romance is a disturbing sentiment of a narcissist culture. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “He makes no effort to grow as a person,” says Hannah McGregor, one of two feminist scholars who host the podcast Witch, Please. “He ultimately supports the regime that directly leads to [Lily’s] death, and in the wake of it, doesn’t meaningfully become a better person, just remains fanatically devoted to her as an object he wanted to own and never got to have.” Though many fans’ hearts were warmed by the reveal of Snape’s history with Harry’s parents in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a childhood feud with Harry’s dad and unrequited love for his mom doesn’t make the Hogwarts teacher a hero. It’s incredibly creepy that Snape continues to have feelings for Lily years after they stop being friends. Though he shouts something cruel at her as a teenager, which is what causes the rift in their relationship, he never tries to make amends. Instead, he holds on to his childhood feelings into adulthood—including his hatred for James—feeding the flames of his obsession with the desire to effectively own her. It’s not until her life is threatened that he rethinks giving up her family to Lord Voldemort. He doesn’t have a problem with Voldemort killing her husband or her son, just with killing her. Dismissing what is important to the other person is not a testament of true love, however; it’s the opposite. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “Severus Snape” by Ludmila-Cera-Foce (ludmila-cera-foce.deviantart.com). When someone tweeted to J.K. Rowling, commenting that “Snape held no malice against Harry (which Harry came to know, eventually),” Rowling replied, “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” Even after Lily’s gone, Snape isn’t moved to real love; the ways in which he mentally tortures Harry and belittles Hermione for being Muggle-born, just like Lily was, demonstrate his bitterness and lack of understanding what real love is. By treating her as an object and holding on to childlike memories of her, Snape has made Lily into something she isn’t—“When we find what we think to be a suitable ‘object’ for our idealistic affections . . . we invest more of ourselves than is appropriate—to the extent of worship. Rarely do we really know the other person well, but imagination and desire make up the difference,” writes Bruce Atkinson PhD. We’re attracted to these romances because we think it takes a special kind of person—a strong woman—to love a...

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity Oct11

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity...

While Christianity does not figure prominently in many fandoms, here are six occasions when faith is alluded to with surprising accuracy. “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” – Captain America, The Avengers When Natasha Romanoff describes Thor and Loki as “basically gods,” Cap responds with this famous statement. Odin himself echoes the sentiment in Thor: The Dark World when he tells Loki, “We are not gods. We live, we die, just as humans do.” Both Cap and Odin realize that power doesn’t equal divinity. The Avengers may be able to save lives, but only God can save souls. “Mankind has no need for gods. We find the One quite adequate.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek (S2E2, “Who Mourns for Adonais?”) The crew of the Enterprise is faced with a dilemma similar to Cap’s when they meet a superior being called Apollo, who interacted with the human race thousands of years ago and was considered a god. Apollo demands that the humans of the Enterprise worship him, but Captain Kirk and the others refuse. “It’s easy to do nothing, but it’s hard to forgive.” – Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (S3E16, “The Southern Raiders”) In this episode, Katara wants to take revenge on the man who killed her mother, but Aang urges her to forgive him instead. While Aang doesn’t mention God directly, his words are reminiscent of Jesus’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis Generations of readers have found truths about God hidden in Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s metaphor for Jesus Christ. Mr. Beaver’s explanation of...

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

Why We Glorify School-Age Memories Sep06

Why We Glorify School-Age Memories...

Deep space is fun and fantasy worlds are neat, but my favourite setting for stories is a school. These wondrous places fill me with nostalgia and a romantic longing for youth, innocence, friendship, and learning. I never attended a school that evoked such feelings in real life—the schools I frequented were mostly mundane, brick buildings with minimal landscape design—but somehow, I travel to a past I’ve never lived when I see them on screen. In My Hero Academia, students attend U.A. High, a superhero school where they learn how to use their powers, called Quirks. Although there are hints of a darker storyline early in the series, much of that tension is relaxed by the high school atmosphere. The classmates, who bond over their shared abilities, become close friends by seeing (and sometimes competing with) one another so often. In Japanese schools, a class stays together throughout the day in the same classroom, and teachers are the ones who rotate in, so they learn and grow together. The finale of Season One, however, shatters the sense of wonder associated with the school when the students and staff are attacked within its walls. The aptly named League of Villains appears in force, and while the superheroes-in-training courageously fight back, they’re also very afraid. Kids battle against hardened criminals who are willing to kill. They aren’t in a controlled learning environment anymore; the danger is real. U.A. High is a school that feeds my dreams, led by teachers who are superheroes themselves. This span of episodes brought me out of my comfort zone. I’d fully bought into the goodness of U.A. High; it’s a school that feeds my dreams, led by teachers who are superheroes themselves. Even though the baddies are ultimately repelled, that warm, fuzzy...

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist Jul07

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist...

Ol’ Severus gets a bit of a bad rap in the Harry Potter books. Maybe it’s the way he bullies any student who’s not in Slytherin, or his former status as a Death Eater, or just his scathingly sarcastic personality. However, there’s far more to Severus Snape than first appears. While Snape may not have the sensitive bedside manner of most professional counselors, he does have many other qualities that suit him for such a role. Here are 10 reasons why Sev would make a fantastic therapist: 1. He’s not afraid to tell you the hard truths: “It may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 2. As an accomplished Potions master, he’s sure to have something helpful. Need a little Veritaserum to fix compulsory lying? Maybe Draught of Living Death to cure some insomnia? Snape’s got you covered. 3. Snape sympathizes with your problems, even if he can’t fix them. “Unless you wish to poison him—and I assure you, I would have the greatest sympathy if you did—I cannot help you.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 4. His speeches, especially to first-year students, have been known to inspire greatness. “Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn’t a dunderhead.” —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book) 5. Snape gets what it’s like to have a rough past. Former Death Eater? Lost the love of your life? Sev knows the struggle. 6. Sev will push you until you get it right, even if he has to use Legilimens a million times. “Control your emotions. Discipline your mind.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 7. He’s uncannily good...

From Hogwarts to Heaven Apr12

From Hogwarts to Heaven

You’ve probably seen a post like this one on social media: “Which fictional world would you want to live in?” Answers abound, from a galaxy far, far away to Middle-earth, from the Enterprise to Hyrule. Hogwarts seems like a pretty common answer. Butterbeer-flavoured drinks abound, and Facebook filters let us proudly display our house affiliations—Gryffindor for me. Part of what makes Hogwarts so appealing is how much Harry loves it. I’ll never forget the image in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone of Harry jumping for joy and swatting at flying envelopes as they fill his living room—and he doesn’t even know their significance yet. Even small glimpses of magic are better than his dull, miserable days with the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia pretend he doesn’t exist, Dudley picks on him, he lives in a closet under the stairs, and people think he’s a freak when magical things happen to him. When he was younger, he “had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away,” but after he receives his letter, his wildest dreams come to life. Being unable to imagine Heaven’s perfection is the point. As a fantasy writer myself, I pondered J.K. Rowling’s choice to give her protagonist such a terrible childhood. Attending Hogwarts is not a trial he has to overcome; his parents left him both his magical gifting and the funds to afford Hogwarts. And why keep any knowledge of the magical world away from him for eleven years? I realized the answer was simple: to make the magic in her books even more magical—both for Harry and for us. If Harry’s life had been easier, if Harry had loving parents, nice siblings, and hadn’t experienced embarrassing magical accidents, then Hogwarts and everything with it—leaving home, meeting new people, confronting a mortal enemy, and intense schooling—would have been an everyday matter. But to Harry-who-lived-under-the-stairs, Hogwarts is a blessing and an escape. Hogwarts represents so many amazing things to Harry—making friends, gaining wisdom from caring teachers, learning astounding skills, discovering his parents, having a house to belong to, and being treated as an equal. A giant, soft, four-poster bed awaits him every night. The food appears out of nowhere, never runs out, and disappears without leaving dirty dishes behind. Harry could never have imagined somewhere so wonderful. The mystery and magic of a place like Hogwarts make me wonder if there are similar surprises for me in the afterlife. I believe I’ll go to Heaven after I die because of my faith in Christ, but I don’t exactly know what to expect. I know a few things. There will be no pain, no crying, no shame, no death, no evil, no deceit, no darkness, and life forever, for starters (Revelation chapters 21 and 22 discuss that). Why keep any knowledge of the magical world away from Harry for eleven years? To make the magic in her books even more magical. How can I even imagine something that perfect? The answer is: I can’t. And it’s hard to get excited about it when I can’t picture it. Instead, I seek the things this life offers. I have a job, an apartment, a car, plenty of food, a loving family, and more books than I know what to do with. I have my friends, my passions, my hobbies. I don’t want to miss out on life’s experiences, because they’re all I know. Heaven is going to be great, but it feels so abstract. Picturing sitting on clouds and strumming a harp is easier than trying to grasp the truth. But if I believe it exists, shouldn’t that knowledge affect my life somehow? How do I live like Heaven is all I’ve ever dreamed of and more? I think being unable to imagine its perfection is the point. I have to act on my faith, not on what I can see now. I...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

Questing for Deus Ex Machina Jan30

Questing for Deus Ex Machina...

Deus ex machina, literally translates from Latin as God from the machine, is used to describe a magical or technological intervention of the Divine that saves the day, generally in an implausible way. In the plays of the Greeks, deus ex machina was actually a machine (often a crane) that lowered a saviour into the midst of trouble to rescue the hero. One could, for example, describe the many appearances of the giant eagles in The Lord of the Rings as deus ex machina because it is a contrivance which conveniently rescues hapless heroes from fates like lava, fire, or tall towers. In addition, the well-written, but implausibly “magical” endings to most of the Harry Potter books make J.K. Rowling a master of deus ex machina. It has been postulated that the appearance of a phoenix with healing tears carrying a magical sword hidden in a hat is the best example of a deus ex machina in the Harry Potter universe. How do I find hope despite all the chaos that comes with the machines crumbling around me? While we can scoff endlessly at these contrivances in ancient literature and as they pervade current popular culture, it is impossible to live in the real world without wanting, even questing after deus ex machina moments. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we are desperate for these events to happen. We come to the end of our money and we yearn for someone to rescue us from financial ruin by being lowered from the rigging above. Our son, our daughter, friend, or lover lays in the hospital, dying from accident or disease. And we weep at the end of the bed, desperate for an encounter with the “god from the machine.” Every so often, we...

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child Dec21

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child...

In the first seven Harry Potter books, sometimes I forget I’m in Harry’s head and can only see things through his perspective. Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play written by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, causes me to question just how much bias colours Harry’s outlook. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are grown up with children, and his son, Albus, is one of the main characters. Unlike its predecessors, the play spans several years, highlighting the life of a Potter who is placed in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. To Harry’s dismay, Albus becomes best friends with Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, who—despite the fact that he’s a sweetheart—many despise simply because of his heritage. As it is not told through the lens of a single character, the play provides a more objective look into the wizarding world than the seven novels detailing Harry’s childhood. It addresses some of the bias I didn’t even realize was happening in the original series. Harry vs. Slytherin Harry’s prejudice against Slytherin started to bother me when I re-read the Harry Potter books as an adult; I realized that there couldn’t possibly be a house that only churned out evil witches and wizards. The world isn’t black and white; it’s a whole lot of grey that can be tricky to navigate. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid says, “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin.” This has to be an exaggeration, and one that Harry takes to heart. As Hagrid is his first guide to the wizarding world, Harry has no reason to doubt the statement. He learns later on that Hagrid isn’t...

The Definitive Harry Potter Fan Art Collection Aug11

The Definitive Harry Potter Fan Art Collection

In honour of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child‘s recent release, feast your eyes on this collection of amazing fan art from the original Harry Potter series! Share your favourite piece on social media with a link back to the artist and the hashtag #SupporttheGeeks. And tell us what you thought of the play. Did you read it? See it? Hate it? Love it? 1. Back at Hogwarts by Alea-Lefavre 2. Harry Potter by HitoFanart 3. Harry Potter by tsulala 4. Winter Hogwarts by kissyushka 5. HP – Ginny Weasley by dido6 6. Harry Potter VS the Horntail by JoniGodoy 7. McGonogall by Lasse17 8. Hogwarts and the Whomping Willow by danidraws 9. Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy by auroreblackcat 10. Severus Snape =3 by speedportraits 11. The Death of Fred by viria13 12. Harry Potter VS Voldemort...

Keep On Keeping On Jul08

Keep On Keeping On

When Umberto Eco sought the feedback of friends and colleagues for his manuscript, The Name of the Rose, many, while praising the creativity of the narrative, commented on the difficulty of the first 100 pages, which described life and practices in a medieval monastery. Editors, fearing readers would give up reading before the mystery actually began, also suggested Eco rework the dense opening. Eco refused. As he explained in his Postscript to The Name of the Rose, “if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.” In framing the sort of mindset necessary to get through this part of the novel as a journey, Eco alludes to the kind of perseverance he expects. I got thinking about these difficult 100 pages and the sort of perseverance required to get through them earlier this month when I was loaning some books to a friend for summer reading. I handed The Name of the Rose over and commented on how much the novel means to me. “But the first 100 pages are really hard—the author tried to weed out people who shouldn’t read his book.” After thinking about that for a moment, my friend handed the book back to me and said, “Maybe not.” I’ve seen the same responses for not attempting to read Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, even Stephen King. So what makes some people able to persevere through long and difficult material? Put another way:...