I was talking to my mom last week about going places and doing things on my own. I was talking about how I want to go on the Bunac Christmas trip to Bruges, but how I was a little bummed about going alone. (Now I'm bummed because I don't know if I can go--this cold has held me back from work for a few days, and it's really taking it's toll. But this is a happy blog :)) She said,"Em, I stopped being worried about you being on your own when you went to the Pirates 2 midnight screening in LA alone, and came out of there having made friends with an indie band. (True story: they sat outside in line and played guitar until they let us in. Great guys. We're MySpace friends ;-))
Anywho, in that true spirit, I was looking through some podcasts to load on my iPod, and I came across my MuggleCast one. This is the #1 podcast made about Harry Potter--the best show was when they had JK Rowling herself on for an interview. The great part it, it's all done by 6 fans who are my age, and they started it a few years ago. I went on to their site, and saw that they were going to be at the release party for The Tales of Beedle The Bard. This is JK's latest book having to do with Harry Potter. These are the tales written for wizard and witch children the way Grimm's fairy tales were written for us (Muggles). In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore leaves the original copy of these stories to Hermione to decode, and she is able to use the tales to help Harry find the different Hallows. JK hand wrote and illustrated 7 copies: six were given to the people she felt had been the most involved with the HP series, and a 7th copy was made to sell at auction for her charity The Children's Voice. This last copy was bought by Amazon for $3.98 million dollars. For serious. It is 157 pages, all hand written and illustrated by the author, and has inserted notes from Albus Dumbledore.
Now that you have the backstory, here is where I fit in. On MuggleCast's homepage, they mentioned they would be flying over from the US to host the midnight release party for the book (the first one in the world, due to the time differences) at Waterstones Piccadilly. Waterstones is a chain bookstore out here, but this particular one is the largest bookstore in Europe. It is built in an old department store building, and is 6 stories tall, with a cafe and bar. Their fiction section alone was about the size of the Borders by the mall in South Portland. I was thinking about getting a ticket (5 pounds, which covered the podcast, refreshments, and a copy of the book.) But they were only selling 450, and I was worried it was sold out. But I called anyway. Luckily, they had 10 tickets left, and I was able to snag one.
Then this whole cold thing hit--hard. I get this every year, but I was to the point of being dizzy and coughing so hard I woke up my roommates. I decided to take the day, spend it in bed, then go to the release. I slept some, but not much, and made my way into the City around 7pm. I got there, got my entry bracelet, and wandered around in bliss. I ended up in the cafe around 9:30 with a large tea, and waited til they opened the doors at 10. I got to the top, and got in line for another cup of tea. It was crowded, but it was pretty evenly split in ages, origins (they did a poll during the podcast, and about 1/3 were American) and fan worship--there were a lot of people in great costumes--one came as Luna with the Gryffindor lion on her head--she won. I was getting my tea when I started chatting to this really nice woman behind me, and we decided to sit together for the podcast. She's here studying from the US, and was so great. She had come to this Waterstones to get her copy of Deathly Hallows last summer when there were over 2,000 people waiting.
We wandered over to the seating area for the show, and it was a pretty decent show. The store had been decorated in one section to look like the Forbidden Forest, and they had people dressed up like Dumbledore and Hagrid. These characters warmed up the crowd before the cast of MuggleCast came on to do the podcast. They had a quiz where they gave out prizes, discussed the book and the new international movie trailer, and then took questions to discuss from the crowd. If you listen to MuggleCast #164, you can hear me asking how they feel about the theme park that is opening at Universal in Florida in 2010.
After the podcast, they had a costume contest, and while Dumbledore was a bit bias towards some Americans who dressed up like the Harpies (there were others who were more dressed up, even the Harpies said this). The winner got the first copy. That was something else I liked: when you paid to get it, you also had the price of the book included, so you just got handed your copy. Here is the video of the release:
After you received your copy, you got a stamp saying it was one of the first released. I took my copy over and got it signed by the cast of MuggleCast. They were the nicest people. Elysa, the only girl, is from Baltimore, and knows people at McDaniel!! Small world. Then Matt and I totally bonded over Wicked, and Andrew and I talked about TV Production classes and blogging. It was exactly the kind of experience I love having, where I can meet people who I just click with because we love the same things.
Cassandra (the woman I'd been hanging with) and I walked back to Leicester Square to the bus stop. Since the Tube stopped running at midnight, and this was now 1:30am, I had to take one of the many night buses that run from midnight to 6am. Luckily, the N5 lets off right in front of my hostel. I got on the double decker, and sat upstairs to try and avoid the drunks. I called my folks to stay awake, and chatted until I lost my voice, and the drunks stumbled upstairs. I got back to the hostel around 2am, and went to bed.
I've been reading one Tale a day (there are 5) and they are each wonderful and something that I will read to my kids the same way I'll read them Grimm's fairy tales, Greek myths, and The Hobbit, just like my parents did for me. I think these are stories that have the potential to really stick with kids--even before they are introduced to Harry Potter.