Here’s my report on Infinitus 2010, the largest convention in the history of the Harry Potter fandom. It was held July 15-18 at the beautiful Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. This report is an account of my personal experience there and is by no means all-encompassing. There were about nine academic programming tracks happening simultaneously, and it would therefore be impossible for me to experience all that this convention had to offer without a time-turner! 😉
Thursday, July 15, 2010
1:30 p.m. I attended the Welcoming Feast, where it was announced that 1,700 fans had gone through registration thus far, and that number would probably increase by tomorrow.
3:00 p.m. After browsing the Common Room, Art Gallery, and Vendor’s Room, I returned to the Common Room for the Marauder’s Meet-Up, which featured a lively discussion of the canon and fanon lives of Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, James Potter, Lily Evans, and Severus Snape. Just before the Marauder’s discussion I finally met one of my favorite bloggers in person, Hanako M. Ricks (“hmrpotter”). Please read my blogroll for links to her “Confessions of a Grown-up Fangirl” and “Hollywood News” Harry Potter blogs. Hanako is awesome!
4:00 p.m. I went to a great presentation by author Connie Neal entitled “How the Muggle Media Mishandles Harry Potter,” in which Connie gave examples of all of the Rita Skeeter-worthy articles that were published about J. K. Rowling after the Harry Potter author had a bit of a wardrobe mishap. Rather than focusing on what Rowling had to say about the Harry Potter series’ Christian imagery, the muggle media tried to create a scandal by publishing sensationalist articles about Rowling accompanied by embarassing photographs. Connie Neal is the author of What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? (2001), The Gospel According to Harry Potter (2002/2008), and Wizards, Wardrobes, and Wookies (2007).
5:00 p.m. I enjoyed conversing with Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, and David Gras after Connie’s presentation ended. Connie autographed my program. (I have all of her Harry Potter books, but didn’t have them with me.) It was so nice to finally meet Logospilgrim in person. She is a very sweet person, and soft-spoken, as I imagined she would be. The Quiet Professor has written a few books about Orthodox Christianity and Severus Snape, which you can read about on her site at www.logospilgrim.com. Fellow presenter David Gras is also a Christian Harry Potter fan. I met him and his wife for the first time at Portus 2008, and it was really nice seeing them again.
6:00 p.m. Valerie Frankel was signing copies of her Harry Potter parody novel, Henry Potty and the Pet Rock, at the Craft Faire. (See www.HarryPotterParody.com for more about Valerie Frankel’s parody books.) She graciously offered to share her author table with me, and I was glad to accept her offer because my official book signing time was scheduled on the last day of formal programming, opposite the presentation of A Very Potter Sequel. (I knew that most of the Infinitus attendees would be viewing that. It’s incredibly popular.) Anyway, I enjoyed sitting at the Craft Faire with Valerie. The best part was when Percy Weasley himself, Chris Rankin, walked in unannounced and hung out with the fans. He even autographed my Infinitus program! 🙂 The wizard rock concert was going on during all this, so I missed most of it. However I did take a break to visit the wrock merchandise tables to buy a few CDs, including “Muggle Relations” by The Ministry of Magic, “BMiN/E” by ALL CAPS, which includes a great Ron/Hermione song (“Lumos Flies”), and the Remus Lupins dropcard EP, ALL ACCESS: The Next Great Adventure. I really like “Don’t Let the Muggles Get You Down” on that EP.
Friday, July, 16, 2010
9:00 a.m. I browsed the Vendor’s Room, Fandom Museum, and Common Room again. I usually make a daily visit to the Common Room to check the notice boards and to pick up fliers, business cards, etc. from the freebie table. I also put business cards and bookmarks on the freebie table each day to promote my book as well as that of some of my author friends who were not able to attend Infinitus, such as J. W. Braun and M. B. Weston.
10:30 a.m. I attended John Granger’s fascinating lecture “The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter,” which covered such topics as literary alchemy, story setting, postmodern themes, the hero’s journey, allegorical satire, Christian symbolism, and narrative misdirection. John’s presentation was great, as always. 🙂 Visit his blog at www.hogwartsprofessor.com to read his Infinitus convention report when you have the chance.
I had lunch with my Mom at Emeril’s today. The menu offered “Sorcerer’s Starters,” “Magical Main Courses” (I had the Dragon Burger, lol!), and “Potions.” My potion of choice was sweet tea.
2:30 p.m. I attended another wonderful John Granger presentation, “The Historical Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Why Witches and Wizards Went Underground After the English Civil War.” After the presentation, I bought a copy of the Potter Pundits book Harry Potter Smart Talk, which John autographed for me.
4:30 p.m. I went to Logospilgrim’s talk, “Severus Snape, Jedi Master,” which combined two of my geeky obsessions, Harry Potter and Star Wars. 🙂
After supper I attended one of the most ambitious fandom projects I’ve ever seen, Lena Gabrielle’s Deathly Hallows musical, The Final Battle. Lena is quite a talented composer, and if you didn’t get to see this epic musical at Infinitus, look for it on YouTube in August. The CD “Love Will Prevail: Songs from the Final Battle” is quite good, especially Lena’s duet with Christian Caldeira of Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. On the CD, Lena sings the part of Lily and Christian sings the part of Severus Snape on “The Prince’s Tale.” It is really beautiful and sung with so much emotion. Bravo! In the staged musical there were some really awesome moments that got huge cheers from the audience, such as Neville telling off Voldemort (and killing Nagini) and all of the awesome Ron/Hermione kisses. (Yes, there were kisses, plural.) I loved Ron and Hermione’s love duet “Never Letting You Go,” especially when Harry interrupts the song with “Oi! There’s a war going on here!” That bit was hilarious. Bellatrix brought the house down with a chorus of singing and dancing dark wizards on “Death Eaters Rejoice!” It was also great fun to see the Leaky Cauldron’s Melissa Anelli as Augusta Longbottom and John Noe as John Dawlish. Their fight scene got a huge laugh from the audience. John Noe also played the part of Percy Weasley. No pressure with Chris Rankin in attendance, right John?
Saturday, July 17, 2010
10:00 a.m. I went to hear David Gras’ presentation “Harry Potter: A Symbol of the Infinite Power of Courage and Love” which included a great group discussion session. David also mentioned some of the similarities between Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins, which is a topic that is of great interest to me. I wrote quite a lot about that in my book, The Lord of the Hallows, and I appreciated David’s comparison of both Harry and Frodo’s sufferings to the story of Christ’s Passion.
11:00 a.m. Connie Neal’s “Holidays in the Harry Potter Books: the Significance of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter” was really outstanding. She gave numerous examples of Biblical allusions in all seven Harry Potter books, with emphasis on the stories of Christmas and Easter. I really loved this presentation.
1:30 p.m. I was in the audience for “The Potter Pundits Live Onstage at Infinitus” featuring Travis Prinzi, John Granger, and James W. Thomas. I had met both Travis and James at Portus two years ago, and it was great seeing them again. (I met John Granger for the first time at Azkatraz last year.) Great news! Travis Prinzi is currently editing his second Hog’s Head Conversations book, James W. Thomas is writing his second book on Harry Potter entitled Rowling Revisited, and John Granger said he’s updating Unlocking Harry Potter. The Potter Pundits were awesome, as always.
4:00 p.m. I heard most of Travis Prinzi’s excellent “Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake,” much of which I was familiar with from reading Travis’s wonderful book, Harry Potter & Imagination. I was sorry that I had to leave a few minutes before it was over to get ready for the final presentation….
5:00 p.m. This was the last hour of formal programming. “Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Symbolism and Themes in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia” was presented by Denise Roper. (That’s me!) Yeah, I had to follow Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, John Granger, David Gras, James Thomas, and Travis Prinzi. No sweat, right? 😉 The presentation actually went rather well. From the Infinitus program book: “Both J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis have been recognized as great Christian authors of fantasy literature. In this presentation, the themes of Good vs. Evil, the Immortality of the Soul, Self-Sacrificial Love, Death, Resurrection, and Making the Choice to Believe are examined in the light of both authors’ profession of the Christian faith. the influence of the Narnian books on Harry’s adventures will be discussed in detail, including the symbolism of the lion, serpent, eagle, raven, badger, unicorn, stag, phoenix, centaur, dog, werewolf, and much more.” Whew! I covered as much of that as I could in an hour. This was followed by a book signing in the vendor’s room. Travis’s last presentation as well as my lecture and book signing were scheduled opposite the musical A Very Potter Sequel, which was a huge hit at Infinitus. I was happy that Travis and I actually had an audience for our presentations in spite of the fact that we had to compete with such a huge fandom event. After supper I realized that I missed all of AVPS and would have to watch it later on YouTube. Oh well.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
7:00 a.m. I went to Mass at the Church of the Holy Family in Orlando.
9:00 a.m. I visited briefly with Travis Prinzi, and then later, Connie Neal.
9:30 a.m. I went to the “Weasley Is Our King!” meet-up that Hanako invited me to attend. It was fun to talk about Ron and all of the other Weasleys at this last event before the leaving feast.
10:30 a.m. brunch/leaving feast.
11:00 a.m. Parselmouths wrock concert. After the feast, I had time to visit with David Gras, Erin Pyne (of the wrock band House of Black & also an author of books about the Harry Potter fandom), Logospilgrim, and many others. I talked with Kristina Horner of the Parselmouths, then later Luke Conard of Ministry of Magic. I just wanted to tell Kristina and Luke how much I enjoy their band, ALL CAPS. I’m also a huge Ministry of Magic fan. I also spoke briefly with Alex Carpenter of The Remus Lupins (another wrock band that I enjoy), and he invited me to their (then) upcoming concert in New Orleans. Jason Munday of Ministry of Magic was with him; he has a solo act called Skyway Flyer, which is quite good. Since Skyway Flyer would be opening for the Remus Lupins on tour, that was a wrock concert that I knew I would want to see. I’ll write another blog post later about the wrock concerts I attended in New Orleans after Infinitus.
My Mom and I along with many other Infinitus attendees spent the afternoon at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, a spectacular ending to a spectacular event. Well done, Infinitus!
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