Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Potter Bougwaise

Harry Potter a left-wing hero?

By James Mackenzie Fri Oct 26, 10:56 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - Harry Potter -- left-wing hero of the intellectual aristocracy against the materialist middle classes? Well, yes, according to the French daily Liberation.


To mark the French publication of the final instalment of the adventures of J.K. Rowling's boy magician, France's leading left-wing daily devoted Friday's front cover and two more pages to answering the question "Why Harry Potter is of the Left".

The paper, like other French national media never afraid to seem intellectually aristocratic itself, invited philosopher Jean-Claude Milner to add to the millions of words of Potter-analysis already written the world over by students, critics and enthusiasts.

Milner identified a reaction to the free-market revolution instigated by Margaret Thatcher's governments.

"Reading it, one has the feeling that J.K. Rowling feels, like many cultivated English people, that there was a real, catastrophic Thatcherite revolution, and that the only chance for culture now is to survive as an occult science," he wrote.

Milner identified the "Muggles" -- inhabitants of the ordinary, non-magical world -- as the uncultured bourgeoisie who did well materially out of the Thatcher years and later under Tony Blair.

"In the world described by J.K. Rowling, there are the Muggles, who represent the Thatchero-Blairite middle class (going from the lower middle class to the upper middle class), and then the others: the people, cultivated people and the penniless aristocracy, people whom you would expect to find in public schools or at Cambridge," he said.

Milner said the disinterested world of culture upheld by Harry Potter and his friends at the elite Hogwarts Academy represented a form of opposition to the values of the profit-seeking market economy.

"As such, Harry Potter is a war machine against the Thatcherite-Blairist world and the 'American Way of Life'."

The French translation of the final volume of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", went on sale at midnight.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Justice League Hooo!

More Exclusive Story Info About the Justice League of America Movie!

Posted by Patrick on 10/23 at 04:42 PM
JLA Justice League Alex Ross

Our JLA source has returned. After listening to the rumors that there had been a leaked draft of the first 14 pages of the Justice League of America screenplay floating somewhere out there on the internet, our spy laughed and said that the real JLA script was nothing like that. In fact, our dude/ette on the inside told us precisely what happens in the first 14 pages of the authentic Justice League of America screenplay and wanted you to know what you can expect in the real deal.

Whereas the fake script opened on Green Lantern flying a jet fighter, the real Justice League of America script begins on a much grander and somber note: Superman walking on the rooftop of a cathedral. He is there as well as five other members of the Justice League (Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter) because they are paying their respects at a funeral, grieving over the loss of someone that we don’t know as of yet. If you’re thinking that the deceased is Batman because he’s not in attendance, you’re wrong. The funeral is a public event and as such Batman doesn’t show up until after all of the cameras have gone away. For now, the rest of the League is under the media spotlight, each of them showing their respects for the deceased by wearing black. For example, instead of the his traditional red and blue costume Superman is wearing an alternative black-on-black costume. Maybe it will be like the black costume that Superman wore after returning from the dead in the comic books.

And then we cut back to six days earlier in Central City…

Detective Barry Allen and his wife, Iris, are eating lunch at a superhero themed restaurant. The pair are watching a television showing Wonder Woman addressing the United Nations. Barry makes a comment clearly showing an infatuation for Wonder Woman to which Iris promptly shoots him down.

And let’s stop it right there for a moment and examine what we just learned: The Flash in the Justice League movie is married. That throws a big monkey wrench into the recent news that younger actors were auditioning for the part of The Flash, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine seeing a 19-year-old Barry Allen married in a JLA movie, can you? Of course not.

But it all will make sense by the end of the film, trust me.

From here we cut to the introduction of the Brother Eye satellite, a sleek, state-of-the-art surveillance satellite in orbit and owned by Wayne Industries. Batman sits in the Batcave, watching Barry and Iris enjoy their lunch. We see him adjust the controls and the image shifts to architect John Stewart (a.k.a. Green Lantern) sitting in his office unaware that he is being spied on. Batman flicks the dial and the image shifts again to show us Wonder Woman in the U.N., then to Aquaman and finally to the Martian Manhunter under his human disguise as Central City Detective John Jones. Batman hears a noise behind him and closes down the interface just before Alfred appears to speak with him about Bruce Wayne’s upcoming business meeting with business tycoon Maxwell Lord.

There you go Bat-fans: Alfred is in the JLA movie—or at least he’s in the script right now.

As Batman and Alfred depart the Batcave they don’t see the computer switch itself back on or the override for the Brother Eye program accessed remotely. Whomever is using the device resumes spying on Detective Jones/Martian Manhunter.

Jones is working police cases at the station when someone drops off a package on his desk. Upon opening the parcel a fine white powder explodes in his face. Zooming in we see that the powder are actually zillions of some kind of molecular-sized robots, nanobots. They settle on the Detective’s skin and the result is that the Manhunter loses control of his ability to change his shape. As shocked coworkers gaze on him we see Jones change his shape into a beautiful woman wearing a bikini and then into a mountain gorilla followed by a small child, a python and then into a ball of fire before he finally is able to regain some control and morph into the humanoid green guise we know as Martian Manhunter. Distraught and fearing for the safety of the others J’onn J’onzz flies off at great speed heading for a location in Colorado. Barry Allen manages to get a glimpse of the Manhunter streaking through the sky and has to excuse himself from Iris as The Flash rushes off after J’onn.

And so ends page 14 of the script.

Of course I had a million questions to ask the source and I got the answers that I wanted. They were very candid about what happens to the JLA on page 44...and on page 73...and at the end of the script. The same huge spoiler/twist, the one I referred to as an “Empire”, is still in there and I won’t be the one that blows it. In fact there are a couple of surprises that haven’t been mentioned by me or anyone else yet which tells me that the people making the JLA movie want to surprise us. I say let them have that opportunity. Will you get to see plenty of superhero fights? Sure including battles between OMAC robots and League members. The ending is pretty eventful and what goes down has major ramifications on the lives of at least two Leaguers. I’m pretty sure that some of the fanbase of one particular JLA superhero is going to be angry over what happens at the conclusion of the story regarding a heavy decision that the superhero(ine) has to make that comes as a suggestion from one of the film’s villains. Yes, I did say villains, plural.

The closest superhero movie that we’ve seen to this JLA movie, as its laid out in the screenplay, is probably the first X-Men except there’s no room for introductions to the League heroes. We pick up the story right away and so the audience has to but who Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and the rest of the team are. There are small character building moments that can serve as background information on some of the League’s lesser known heroes, like Martian Manhunter, but there no room to recount Superman’s origin or how the League formed. They are already assembled at the start of this film and have been working together for some time as evidenced by their presence in the world.

Thanks to our source for keeping us informed and giving us hope that this movie has the potential to be a major superhero movie event. If you want to know more, show us by getting involved in the talkback below. Maybe we can persuade our source to let loose with more info…

Not my POV, just thought I'd share it

Cinematical Seven: Why I Don't Care for Zombie Movies

There's too much symbolism

I realize that this problem can largely be laid at the feet of George Romero, and I'll accept that, but every time I watch a Romero movie I feel like I'm being smashed in the face with the symbolism bat. It's not that he's an unskilled filmmaker -- although some have argued as much after seeing Diary of the Dead -- it's just that he's all-too-eager to use his zombies to advance whatever cause he wants to flog at the moment. Zombie movies are about ... racism. No, wait, zombie movies are about ... consumerism. No, no, the threat of nuclear war. Actually, go back to the first one -- they're about racism. Diary of the Dead, which I haven't seen, apparently uses zombies to set up the argument that there's too much reality TV. Has it come to that? I realize that zombies make a good catch-all, unlike, say, vampires, but there's a point where enough is enough. No more zombie message movies.

There's no growth in concept

No growth whatsoever, going back even before Bela Lugosi in 1932's White Zombie. One of the few interesting things about Resident Evil: Extinction was that it featured a subplot wherein the evil scientists try to reverse the zombie status of a zombie. They try to make him learn and regain some the cognition of a normal human -- but even this has been done before. Hell, the notion of zombies emerging from the fog of zombiedom has even been done by George Romero. What else have you got? The 28 Days Later films make zombies run fast and take care to not call them zombies, but that's hardly groundbreaking stuff either. Maybe the most innovative zombie movie I've seen in the last few years, Joe Dante's Homecoming, did something a little intriguing -- it gave the zombies a political motivation and had them intent on going to the voting booth. But even this is campy, and brushes up against my problems in point number one.

Michael Jackson ruined everything

The zombies in Thriller were scarier than most of the zombies in today's zombie movies, and that's a big problem. If you go back and watch John Landis's landmark short film/music video, you'll see that an enormous amount of attention to detail is paid to the makeup and the whole approach of the zombie horde. I admit the whole werewolf element is lame, and the werewolf makeup is atrocious -- is he supposed to be half wolf, half cat or something? -- but the zombies themselves are made up in an appropriately scary old-school horror mask style, with thick latex-covered faces and believable funeral wear and the whole nine. Whatever it is, it works. In contrast, one of the hallmarks of recent zombie films, like the 28 Days Later movies, is to barely let you see the zombies. They flash in and out of the frame or attack in such a way that you can't examine the lameness of the total zombie look. Who needs that?

What about skeletons?

I think every zombie movie should have to set up its own rules to explain why it's not a big remake of Jason and the Argonauts. I'm no expert on human decomposition, but any person who has been dead for more than a year would almost be certainly skeletonized, so why don't these skeletons come back along with the rest of zombies? Yes, I've seen the movies and I know they sometimes use the caveat "the recently dead are walking the Earth!" but they don't say why. What is it about having a few pounds of dead flesh on your bones that causes zombie reanimation? I'm not pointing this out to suggest that I'm smarter than zombie movies, I'm making a sort of follow-up to my second point. If there were more thought put into exactly what a zombie is and what it's instincts and basic properties are, that might be some grist for new thought and new ideas for continuing the genre.

No More 'turning'

Werewolf movies and vampire movies were exhausting the dramatic possibilities of monsters biting people and turning those people into monsters long before zombie movies became popular. The concept is completely played out, as evidenced by the fact that people at my recent screening of 30 Days of Night were cackling during what was supposed to be a dramatic moment -- one of the characters, bitten by the vamps, starts to give a big speech about his problem, and how something will have to be done about it. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before, pal. I'd like to see a zombie movie that makes a definitive break from this 'rule' or whatever you want to call it. Let there be a finite number of zombies so that someone can do something about the problem and we can all get on with our lives. Let's also point out how little sense it makes that the undead have the power to turn others into undead. How can the living go straight to being undead?

Follow the logic

It's often been said that the core appeal of a zombie outbreak is that it portends the apocalypse, and I agree with that, but we rarely see much follow-through on that theme. Zombies have, for the most part, been ground down into standard-issue whack-a-mole monsters. This especially applies to the 28 Days Later and Resident Evil films. Yes, I realize that those films include a nuclear or biological apocalypse that leaves nothing but a wasteland (and zombies) but I'm talking about the biblical apocalypse. The dead rising from their grave. When's the last time you saw a zombie movie that actually took into account the pure psychic trauma such an event would cause and the mass hysteria that would ensue? Can you imagine CNN announcing a zombie outbreak? There would be a war in the streets in, like, five minutes. I want to see that movie. It would be a lot more interesting than having zombies preach to us about shopping to excess.

Even when it works, it's depressing

My favorite zombie movie is 1993's Return of the Living Dead III, from director Brian Yuzna. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. But even though that movie worked on me, it was extremely depressing. The message of the film is essentially "F--k humanity," which, when you think about it, is the whole message of zombie movies in general. Vampires and werewolves are abberations -- typically one or a handful of diseased individuals and never the dominant species, except in some comics and a few high-concept films. They are outsiders. But the threat of zombies is that they always seem on the verge of success -- of wiping out humanity completely or reducing it to what they represent. For a zombie film to work on me at all, it has to rise to the level of RLD III -- it has make me feel like the world is one big oven that we're all about to be cooked in. Is that why I go to the movies?

Amazing Artist

Check out this website:

It has some cool pictures of the artist.

Strokes of Genius

Phil Hansen is not only tearing down the “gallery” walls that keep many people from seeing and enjoying art. He’s also showing us how it’s made -- all on the Internet.


Phil Hansen stubbornly adheres to one artistic cliche. He's willing to suffer for his art.

Asked to provide a photo for Yahoo! News, Phil Hansen couldn't resist creating a composite image.

Take the giant portrait he made of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a protest against nuclear proliferation. He applied 6,000 adhesive bandages on a plywood backdrop. Then, using a quart-sized bag of his own blood, he painted Kim's face on the exposed gauze. His sister-in-law, a doctor, helped him draw the 500ml he needed.

Hansen shrugs off the experience.

"Five hundred cc's of blood seems like a lot, but it's just nothing," he says from the basement of his brother's house outside St. Paul, Minnesota, where he currently lives and makes his art. "I don't even have scars on my arms anymore from it."

It's not the suffering that really distinguishes Hansen's work (after all, it's hard to top Van Gogh) but his style and method for displaying it. Hansen eschews galleries, preferring to take his art directly to the eyeballs rather than bringing the eyeballs to the art — through the Internet.

An art school dropout, Hansen works as an X-ray technician by day, spending all of his spare time and money on his art. But his work, and his method of presenting it, has given him a huge audience.

His breakthrough piece was a time-lapse video of a two-day project called "Influences." He painted 30 pictures on his own chest, one over the other, with each picture representing an influence in his life. When he was done, he peeled the quarter-inch thick layer of paint from his skin and cut out a silhouette of his own profile. The video was streamed more than a million times on the Web — a cyber art phenomenon in which both process and final piece were revealed.

Hansen often uses the technique of pointillism, in which the canvas is dabbed with tiny bits of color, rather than fluid brush strokes, to create a larger image.

But he gives pointillism a modern twist. You might call it "kinetic fragmentism" — pointillism in motion.

For instance, Hansen completed an on-camera piece of paint-dipped karate chops to reveal a portrait of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

Hansen's Ku Klux Klan piece aims to provoke questions about religion.

His works often have a political stance. Several years ago, Hansen devised an image of President George W. Bush by hand-painting the names of 1,700 coalition soldiers killed from the beginning of the Iraq War until April 2005.

"They're dying for George Bush," he explains. "They're dying for an idea that he had and unfortunately it wasn't a clear idea."

Covering the entire back wall of his brother's basement is a 7 x 14 foot mural of the Ku Klux Klan, made up from thousands of verses copied from the bible and individually cut out. It's a companion piece to an image of civil rights hero Rosa Parks — also made from bible verses.

Hansen says the idea was to show the far-reaching influences of religion for both evil and good.

Hansen's commitment to his own brand of pointillism is most evident in a portrait of the so-called Green River killer, Gary Ridgeway.

He made the piece by drawing one-inch portraits of each of Ridgeway's 48 female victims in various shades of light and dark. He then photocopied the drawings and cut them out into 12,000 tiny squares which he arranged, one by one, to reveal the killer's face.

Hansen says it's about remembering the victims — women all connected by the misfortune of having crossed paths with Ridgeway. The project took four months.

The detail work has taken its toll. Hansen holds up his right hand to show me a twitch he says he's had since high school, when he was first introduced to pointillism and became obsessed with it.

Hansen created his self-portrait 'A Moment' over the course of six days, oven sitting cross-legged for up to 12 hours straight.

His latest project used the Internet to connect his viewers to the art being created. He created a ten-foot, spinning, circular canvas in his brother's garage, then moved in there himself. Taking a week off work, he spent six days straight living in front of his web cam, sleeping on the floor, eating takeout and encouraging people to call him or email him with a "moment" that changed their lives.

"I'm really interested in how all of our experiences build together to create whatever world we live in," he said before starting the project.

He got over 600 responses. People from all over the world, from the United Kingdom to Romania to Botswana, told him their personal moments: their first time acting on stage; the death of a parent without being about to say goodbye; seeing the rainforest destroyed.

Starting from the center of the canvas, Hansen then painted their words, working out to the edges until the image they had collectively created was a face — Hansen's own — bordered by four hands.

"There's always someone or something, maybe even ourselves, supporting us," Hansen tells me by phone, shortly after completing the piece. "But at the same time there is some experience... trying to push us down. And somehow, as we move through life, most people end up kind of staying in the center, in the middle through that experience."

Strangely, Hansen says the jitter in his hand that has plagued him for so many years went away while he was making the piece.

-See more of Hansen's work at his Web site.

McDonalds Pizza

Using McDonalds’ As Pizza Toppings

October 22nd, 2007 · 48 Comments

My friend Richard sent me these photos tonight, saying

“I don’t know where these came from but they’re going around the
net. If you haven’t seen them already, I know you will enjoy them. Don’t ask questions, just marvel.”

And marvel I did. My God. Have a look - ingredients and buildup here, the shocking conclusion after the jump.







When I worked as a pizza cook we deep-fried everything: cucumbers, strawberries, a pencil. Once I battered and deep-fried some bacon and topped pizza with it. And yeah, it was both gut-curdling and awesome. But this. This is something else entirely. We never would have thought to put cheeseburgers, fries, and McNuggets on a pizza.

This is a culinary Frankenstein cooked by Bizarro, a crude combination of deliciousness into an artery-jamming fatty Voltron.

The thing is, I would totally eat it. You would, too, stop lying. The cheeseburger parts, the McNuggets — you know that’d be tasty. The fries might be the sleeper hit. If this thing were in my house, I’d totally roll my eyes and groan and make a big stink. Then my curiosity would get the better of me and I’d sneak a bite when nobody was around. And I mean, you can tell it tastes pretty good.

If nobody were home for a day or so, I know I’d end up eating the whole thing, morsel by greasy morsel. It’s the food equivalent of a Real Doll — a revolting, plastic, desperate experience that would just rope you in with tractor beams powered by an evil curiosity.

Maybe that’s what the pistol’s for. Not to avoid the inevitable heart attack, but as an easy way out from the SHAME of it all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dumbledor is Gay!

J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore is Gay; Neville Marries Hannah Abbott, and Much More
J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Edward
October 19, 2007, 09:17 PM

Note: A preliminary transcript is now at the end of this post; please note that there may be some small errors in phrasing, and all questions have been paraphrased to save time; this is not a final transcript, but the accuracy of the questions and answers have been maintained.

Reminder: We are routinely deleting the (thankfully) miniscule percentage of comments that are hateful or intolerant. Debate on this topic is welcome but hate and name-calling is not. Please maintain the respect in this article that you all do in all others. Thanks.

Tonight, the one thousand grand prize winners (and their guests) of the Scholastic's Open Book Tour Sweepstakes along with a companion got the chance to see Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling read from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," answer questions and sign books at New York City's Carnegie Hall. We have exclusive information this evening on the myriad of "Deathly Hallows" questions she answered as well as in-depth details on a number of subjects she spoke about.

A caution now. Parts of the following WILL contain book seven SPOILERS.

First, the biggest revelation of the night came when Jo revealed to her audience the fact that Albus Dumbledore is gay and had fallen in love with fellow wizard and friend, Gellert Grindelwald. This elicited a huge reaction and prolonged ovation. So much so, it promoted Jo to say:

"If I had known this would have made you this happy, I would have announced it years ago."

The question was: Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?

JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"

Jo also said after revelation: "You needed something to keep you going for the next 10 years! ...Oh, my god, the fan fiction now, eh?"

Jo also revealed that Neville Longbottom married Hufflepuff Hannah Abbott and she was to become the landlady at the iconic Leaky Cauldron Pub. She thought that people would find the fact of Neville's living over a pub particularly cool.

Equally large revelations were made concerning Petunia Dursley when Jo answered the question of what Petunia could not bring herself to say when Harry and the Dursleys parted ways before his seventeenth birthday. She would have wished him luck, saying:

"I do know what you're up against and I hope it's okay."

Information on the original Order members was also revealed during tonight's event. Jo related the fact that Remus Lupin, prior to the third book, was unemployable because he was a werewolf and upon his graduation from Hogwarts along with James and Lily, was supported by James using their own money. In addition to this she shed more light on the early days of the Order, saying James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were full time Order members. "Full Time Fighters," as Jo put it.

Jo also went into further detail about the many portraits in the wizarding world and their occupants. An occupant can only move freely to other portraits in their dwelling or to another portrait in which they are depicted. She also revealed that Harry himself made sure that the portrait of Snape made it into the Headmasters Office, but doubts that he ever went to speak to it.

Life debts were another subject discussed during tonight's question and answer session. It was revealed that Draco Malfoy does not owe Harry a life debt. While speaking briefly on the Elder wand, Jo did not detail the the core of this extraordinary wand. Hagrid never married and James and Lily went into hiding shortly after she first became pregnant with Harry.

Finally, speaking about her personal feelings and experiences of the past seventeen years with the boy wizard, Jo said finishing the first book and the seventh book produced very similar feelings. She also admits that she was very difficult to live with for the weeks following her completing the last book in the "Harry Potter" series.

A full transcript of this evening's event will be available on TLC soon. TLC will update throughout the evening with the latest from this event.

Some highlights have been transcribed:

Q: Did Neville ever find love?

Of course. ... To make him extra cool he marries the woman who becomes, eventually, the new landlady at The Leaky Cauldron, which I think would make him very cool among the students, that he lives above the pub. He marries Hannah Abbott.

How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix?

I always knew Molly was going to finish her off. I think there was some speculation that Neville would do it, because Neville obviously has a particular reason to hate Bellatrix. ..So there were lots of optios for Blelatrix, but I never deviated. I wanted it to be Molly, and I wanted it to be Molly for two reasons.

The first reason was I always saw Molly as a very good witch but someone whose light is necessarily hidden under a bushel, because she isn't in the kitchen a lot and she has had to raise, among others, and george which is like, enough... I wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn't have a lot of other talents.

Second reason: It was the meeting of two kinds of - if you call what Bellatrix feels for Voldemort love, I guess we'll call it love, she has a kind of obsession with him, it's a very sick obsession ... and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love... the power that you give someone by loving them. So Molly was really an amazing exemplar of maternal love. ... There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together.

How different would the last two books be if Arthur had been killed in the middle of book five?

I think they would have been very different and it's part of the reason why I chose my mind. ... By turning Ron into half of Harry, in other words by turning Ron into someone who had suffered the loss of a parent, I was going to remove the Weasleys as a refuge for Harry and I was going to necessarily remove a lot of Ron's humor. That's part of the reason why I didn't kill Arthru. I wanted to keep Ron in tact ... a lot of Ron's humor comes from his insensitivity and his immaturity, to be honest about Ron. And Ron finally, I think, you see, grows up in this book. He's the last of the three to reach what I consider adulthood, and he does it then [ when he destroys the horcrux] and faces those things. So that's part of the reason. The only other reason I didn't kill Arthur was that I wanted to come full circle. We started with an orphan, someone who lost their parents because of the war. ANd so I wanted to show it again. ... Even though you don't see Teddy, I wanted to express in the epilogue, that he gets an even better godfather than Harry had, because Sirius had ihs faults, I think we must admit. He was a risky guy to have a s a godfather. Because Teddy gets someone who really has been there, and Harry becomes a really great father figure for Teddy as well as his own children. I hasten to add that I didn't kill Lupin or Tonks lightly. I loved them as that hurt, killing them.

Q: In the Goblet of Fire Dumbledore said his brother was prosecuted for practicing inappropriate charms [JKR buries her head, to laughter] on a goat; what were the inappropriate charms he was practicing on that goat?

JKR: How old are you?


JKR: I think that he was trying to make a goat that was easy to keep clean [laughter], curly horns. That's a joke that works on a couple of levels. I really like Aberforth and his goats. But you know Aberforth having this strange fondness for goats if you've read book seven, came in really useful to Harry, later on, because a goat, a stag, you know. If you're a stupid Death Eater, what's the difference. So, that is my answer to YOU.

[loud applause]

Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?

My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!

Q: Since Ron is able to speak Parseltongue in the last book, does that mean that parseltongue is a language that most witches and wizards can learn or must a person be born with some ability to speak Parseltongue.

JKR: I don't see it really as a language you can learn. So few people speak it that who would teach you? This is a weird ability passed down through the Slytherin blood line. However ROn was with Harry when he said one word in Parseltongue, which I do not know so I cannot duplicate for you, but he heard him say "Open," and he was able to reproduce the sound. So it was one word. Whether he could learn to speak to snakes properly is a separate issue. I don't think he could. But he knew enough, he was smart enough, to duplicate one necessary sound.

Q: [Speaker thanks Jo for the Dumbledore answer.]

JKR: You needed something to keep you going for the next 10 years! Oh, my god, the fan fiction now, eh? [Applause.]

Q: What did Dumbledore write in the letter to make the Dursleys take Harry?

JKR: Very, very good question. As you know, as we find out in book seven, Petunia once really wanted to be part of that world. And you discover that Dumbledore has written to her prior to the Howler...Dumbledore wrote to her very kindly and explained why he couldn't let her come to Hogwarts to become a witch. So, Petunia, much as she denis it afterwards, much as she turns against that world when she met Uncle Vernon, who is the biggest anti-wizard you could ever met in your life, a tiny part of her, and that's the part that almost wished Harry luck when she said goodbye to him in this book, she just teetered on the verge of saying, I do know what you're up against and I hope it's OK. But she couldn't bring herself to say it. Years of pretending she doesn't care have hardened her. But Dumbledore appealed in the letter you're asking about, so that part of Petunia that did remember wanting desperately to be part of the world and he appealed to her sense of fair play to a sister that she had hated because Lily had what she couldn't have. So that's how she persuaded Petunia to keep Harry. Good question.

Q: When Harry was stabbed by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, since he was a Horcrux shouldn't it have been destroyed then?

JKR: I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.

Q: Why couldn't Harry speak to a portrait of Dumbledore throughout the last book>

Well there are two reasons, three reasons actually... Teh last bit, why did he have to decode? As Dumbledore says to tell Harry about the Hallows was to tempt him. And Harry, throughout all seven books has been incredibly impetuous and reckless. That's one of Harry's biggest flaws. He does tend to act without thinking, and Dumbledore knows this about Harry. He wants him to work it out slowly enough to gain wisdom along the way. That's why he passed the information through Hermione, who is the most cautious person in the books, as you know. And Dumbledore says explicitly, so your good heat isn't overcome by your hot heads. Or I may have paraphrased myself slight there so forgive me. "She doesn't even know her own book!" [laughter] Yes so that's one reason. Harry needs to decode. He said, he does say in this book, he's frightened by his decision not to race for the wand, because he had never chosen not to act. So that's Harry's real big coming of age moment, that he's decided to hold back for the first time very in his life. So the other two reasons that i have for him not t speak to Dumbledore's portrait, first of all, I crated a lot of rules for this world and then later had to navigate my away around them. But this rule was always good, and the rule was that portraits could only move between portraits in the same building. so if I'm in a picture and you're in a picture and we're both in Carnegie Hall, then we can move into each other's pictures. Otherwise we can only move only to other places where we have a portrait. You can't just move willy nilly through all the - the Louvre, the Met - you can't do a world tour, as a picture person. You are limited by geography. So there was that reason. And then lastly of course, the third reason, is it really would be too easy and I wouldn't have had a plot.

Q: Many of us older readers have noticed over the years similarities between the Death Eaters tactics and the Nazis from the 30s and 40s. Did you use that historical era as a model for Voldemort's reign and what were the lessons that you hope to impart to the next generation?

It was conscious. I think that if you're, I think most of us if you were asked to name a very evil regime we would think Nazi Germany. There were parallels in the ideology. I wanted Harry to leave our world and find exactly the same problems in the wizarding world. So you have the intent to impose a hierarchy, you have bigotry, and this notion of purity, which is this great fallacy, but it crops up all over the world. People like to think themselves superior and that if they can pride themselves in nothing else they can pride themselves on perceived purity. So yeah that follows a parallel. It wasn't really exclusively that. I think you can see in the Ministry even before it's taken over, there are parallels to regimes we all know and love. [Laughter and applause.] So you ask what lessons, I suppose. The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry, and I think ti's one of the reasons that some people don't like the books, but I think that's it's a very healthy message to pass on to younger people that you should question authority and you should not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth.

[Loud applause.]

Q: What did it feel like completing your first Harry Potter book versus completing the last.

JKR: What a great question. It felt strangely similar actually. Both feelings were more alike than with any of the other books. When I finished the first book, there was this incredible sense of achievement that i'd actually written a novel, i"d actually finished my book. And it was after seven years of writing and making notes and rewriting. And then when I finished the seventh book, that was 17 years. WIth the seventh book there was a huge feeling of loss as well. I couldn't believe I was done. And it took me weeks, as my poor, long-suffering husband will attest. He's here. [applause] Yes, you should clap him, he's very patient! [ovation] He's not the type to stand up and take about but trust me. Toward the end of a book i'm not that easy to live with. Yes Neil would bear witness to the fact that for weeks, really... it felt like a bereavement. I knew it was coming. I was prepared, I knew it would hurt, and it was huge. So, that's why I'm glad to be here and talk about it. Thank you.

Voice: Excuse me, Ms. Rowling?

JKR: Hello.

Voice: I have a question.

JKR: God? [laughter] And they say I don't believe in you! [Ovation.]

Voice: May I approach teh stage?

JKR: Sorry, I missed that, what was that? You may approach the stage, I always wondered what oyu looked like.

Announcer: Actually I don't have a question but I do have a little surprise. [Explains that they've picked some more questions from competition winners, randomly chosen to surprise sweepstakes winners.]

Q: Does Malfoy owe Harry a debt?

JKR: That's a great question and a lot of people wanted to know that. When Dumbledore said to Harry, Voldemort won't want a close associate who is in your debt, I wasn't implying by that there was any kind of magical bond there. It was more that Dumbldore's extensive wisdom and knowledge of human nature, he knew as Harry later thinks in book seven, he knew that Pettigrew would react a certain way to having saved his life. ... He's weak, fundamentally weak. Pettigrew is a very weak character. He's not someone I like at all. He's a weak person and he likes to gravitate to people who are stronger. Dumbledore is right. Pettigrew had an impulsive mercy... would Malfoy e in Harry's debt? I think the very worst burden Harry could have put Malfoy under was this one, that Malfoy has to feel any kind of gratitude. So I tried to show that slightly in the epilogue when they look slightly at each other and there's a, "Hi. It's so embarrassing, you saved my life. No one will ever let me forget it." I think, does he owe him a debt, probably not. I think Malfoy would go back to being an improved version of what he was but we shouldn't expect him to be a really great guy any time soon.

Q: Harry often wondered about his parents lives before he died. What did Lily, James, Remus, Lupin and Sirius do after Hogwarts?

JKR: To take Remus first, Remus was unemployable. Poor Lupin, prior to Dumbledore taking him in, lead a really impoverished life because no one wanted to employ a werewolf. The other three were full-time members of the Order of the Phoenix. If you remember when Lily, James and co. were at school, the first war was raging. It never reached the heights that the second war reached, because the Ministry was never infiltrated to that extend but it was a very bad time, the same disappearances, the same deaths. So that's what they did, they left school. James has gold, enough to support Sirius and Lily. So I suppose they lived foff a private income. But they were full-time fighters, that's what they did, until Lily fell pregnant with Harry. So then they went into hiding.

Q: Did Hagrid ever get married and have children?

[Aww from crowd] JKR: Oh, did Hagrid ever get married and have children? No. [awwws again] I may change that immediately due to the look on your face. Yes! He had 22! - No, no, Hagrid never did marry and have children. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. Oh I feel terrible now. I'll write another book! [Ovation] Realistically, Hagrid's pool of potential girlfriends is extremely limited. Because with the giants killing each other off, the number of giantesses around is infinitesimal and he met one of the only, and I'm afraid, she thought he was kind of cute, but she was a little more, how should I put it, sophisticated than Hagrid. So no, bless him. [Awws] I kept him alive, come on! [Applause.]

Q: Is Severus Snape's portrait in the headmaster's office?

JKR: Some have been asking why hasn't the portrait appeared immediately. It doesn't. The reason is that the perception in the castle itself and everyone who was in the castle, because Snape kept his secret so well was that he abandoned his post. So all the portraits you see in the headmaster's study are all headmasters and mistresses who died, it's like British royals. You only get good press if you die in office. Abdication is not acceptable, particularly if you marry and American. I'm kidding! [laughter] I digress. I know, because I thought this one through, because it was very important to me, I know Harry would have insisted that Snape's portrait was on that wall, right beside Dumbledore's. [Applause.] As for whether Harry would go back to talk to him, I think, I'm not sure he would have done. Snape, I was really [?] the week after I finished the book. And I went to a chat room - not a chat room, what am I talking about? [laughter] I never go in chat rooms. I went onto a fan site because I was looking for questions to put up on my Web site, which is sometimes difficult. And I was so heartened to see that people on the message boards that people were still arguing about Snape. The book was out, and they were still arguing whether Snape was a good guy But that was really wonderful to me, because there's a question there, was Snape a good guy or not? In many ways he really wasn't. SoI haven't been deliberately misleading everyone all this time, when I say that he's a good guy. Because even though he did love and he loved very deeply and he was very brave, both qualities that I admire above anything else. He was bitter and he was vindictive... but right at the very very end, he did, as your question acknowledges, acheive a kind of peace together and I tried to show that in the epilogue.