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Monday, June 01, 2009

HOGWARTS REVEALED

I have seen Hogwarts.

No, I am not making this up. I HAVE SEEN HOGWARTS.

“Unpossible!” you exclaim. “You are telling tales, mj. Tales made of lies interwoven with untruths.”

Oh, except it IS possible. Listen to my story. It starts . . .

OVER A YEAR AGO

Many of you have asked me why I go to England so much. There are actually loads of answers, including, “I went for the food but stayed for the weather.” But ONE of the reasons is that I worked on the Harry Potter 6 video game. I was the scriptwriter for the PSP and DS versions. The story of how I ended up being the scriptwriter for the Harry Potter 6 videogame and the GLORIOUS THINGS I SAW is a story for another day—specifically, a day AFTER the release of the film and video game. Until then, I am legally bound to keep quiet.

But I can tell you that I saw Hogwarts—the full and awesome virtual version. And I thought then that that was the last time I would be so immersed in the world of Harry.

I was wrong. Flash to . . .

LAST THURSDAY (WELL, LIKE A WEEK AGO THURSDAY)


So there I was, sitting at table, writing with The Others*, when I noticed many people Twittering about Leakycon, the big Harry Potter convention in Boston. I had known about this for a while because my friends John and Hank Green were speaking there, but didn’t think I would be able to go. “I’m too busy,” I thought. “I have THINGS to do.” But as the day went on, more and more people asked me if I was going, so I wrote that I would go if my “Accio Leakycon pass and hotel room” spell worked.

A half an hour later, Melissa Anelli, author of “Harry, A History” and one of the main organizers of Leakycon, wrote to me with passes and hotel room.

I looked to Robin Wasserman (one of The Others) and said, “What do I do?” And she said, “Clearly, you go.”

I was scheduled to be out late that night, and the train I would need to take was early in the morning, which meant no sleep. But still . . . I had asked, and I had gotten the answer.

“Okay,” I said. “See you tomorrow.”

FRIDAY

I boarded an Acela express train from New York City to Boston—a zippy 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was so freakishly beautiful that I decided to walk to the convention center. I got there just in time to hear John Green speaking with Cheryl Klein, one of the U.S. editors of Harry Potter. During the presentation, I started to realize I hadn’t eaten that day at all. As soon as it was over, I had to get up and get food. But when it was over, I found myself surrounded by several people, including the band The Luna Lovegoods.

“Let’s go get food,” I said. So we all went down to Au Bon Pain, where I bought every snack I could get my hands on and ate so fast I got cheese spread on my forehead.



My escorts.


The rest of the afternoon was a blur. There was a massive Nerdfighter gathering, and then we watched a screening of “We are Wizards.”

At some point, I began to the feel strongly that I needed to claim a house as my own. But this didn’t seem like something I could do by myself—I needed help. So, I turned to what has become my source of all information. I went to Twitter. “Twitter,” I said, “what house am I?” Twitter was pretty sure I was either Ravenclaw or Slytherin. I decided to go for Slytherin because I actually RAN INTO THE MALFOYS in the merchandise room.



HOLY CRAP IT’S THE MALFOYS


Once I had my house tie and my Harry Potter glasses, I felt a lot more relaxed and ready for the big Wrock show that night. I was told that this was in The Castle. And I was all like, “What castle?” Imagine my surprise when I turned the corner and actually saw A CASTLE behind our hotel. I have no idea why there is a castle in the middle of Boston, but there is. Part of it is taken up by a Smith and Wollensky’s steakhouse, but the rest of it can be rented out. It had been made up to look like the great hall at Hogwarts, with illuminated banners from the four houses, and a huge stage, and a big clock. I saw The Whomping Willows, Gred and Forge, and Tonks and the Aurors . . . and they were all AWESOME.

John, Hank, Katherine and I hung out at the show. I ended up meeting LOADS of people—people I’d been corresponding with for ages. It was like THE INTERNET CAME TO LIFE. I spent some time with Alex “Nerimon” Day and Kristina Horner. I met bloggers and vloggers and Twitterers and Facebookers.

I noticed many things in the crowd, like this girl, who has the Harry Potter call numbers TATTOOED ACROSS HER BACK in Harry Potter font. (The other tattoos are of the state of Texas and some Care Bears sitting on a rainbow, so you know SHE has some good stories to tell.)



Hardcore.


For some of the night, I realized I was standing next to Paul, aka Harry 7 from Harry and the Potters.



Harry and the Potters WROCK OUT.


“Hey,” he said, “do you guys want to be our dancers for the big final number?”

I didn’t have to be asked twice. When Harry and the Potters ask if you want to come on stage with them and do awesome backup dancing, you go.

There were five roles up for grabs in the backup dance: sexy Santa lady, 2 hip-hop wizards, and rubber chicken and rubber owl. Katherine and I passed on sexy Santa lady because the skirt was about two inches long. (This was eventually taken by Lauren from 5 Awesome Girls.) John and Hank took the hip hop wizards. Katherine and I took rubber chicken and rubber owl, which were large rubber masks that went over your head. Katherine was the owl. I was the chicken, which I didn’t really understand. Where is the magic chicken in Harry Potter? But I do not question Harry and the Potters. I am sure there is a magic chicken in there somewhere, perhaps in the epilogue.

Anyway, once Katherine and I had on the rubber chicken and owl heads, we realized we could not see AT ALL, because the things were so big they immediately spun around and blinded us completely. We might as well have had bags over our heads. So we each took a wizard escort. She went with Hank, and I went with John. In fact, I clung to John’s arm SO HARD that I think I bruised him.

So we heard someone scream, “Now! Now! You guys, now!” And I felt John move and I went with him. I made it up the ramp to the stage just fine, but immediately crashed into and fell over an amp. But I was so full of Harry spirit** that I felt no pain. I lurched forward and started jumping up and down while Harry and the Potters played “Smells like Harry Potter.” (I THINK this is what it was. It was a Nirvana cover, but at the end, everyone was screaming HARRY POTTER.)

Then I lost John, who was also pretty blind in his hip hop wizard glasses and bounced away in confusion. At some point, someone screamed, “Face the audience!” so I guess I was turned completely around and was rocking away to the back curtain. I attached myself to Hank, who had accidentally left Katherine to die by falling off the stage. (This was barely prevented.)



Katherine the Owl rocks out dangerously close to the stage edge, while I cling to a Brother Green.


When that was all over, we returned to the Leakysuite with something like 200 people. I remember falling asleep somewhere around 3am with a meeting going on right next to me on the bed.

SATURDAY

Saturday started three times. The first was at 4am, when we both woke to find a nice man from hotel security standing by the foot of the bed. He was there to tell Melissa that an attendee had just been taken to the hospital. She got up and went right to action, and I helpfully rolled over and went back to sleep. We woke up again right around 8 when the fire alarm went off and our floor was evacuated. This time, I had to get up as well. We dressed and picked up our laptops and stole glasses of ice water from a catering tray and made our leisurely way down to the sidewalk, where we were immediately told we could go back up again. I think I slept for a few minutes once we got back upstairs. Melissa, of course, was long gone, off running 25 events at once.

A little while later, I caught up with Hank in the Imperial Ballroom, and we sat around for a while, discussing the events of the day.

“Hey,” he said. “Harry and the Potters want to show me the best hot dog place in the world. Want to go?”

Having become a die-hard fan of Harry and the Potters the night before, I immediately agreed, even though I don’t eat hot dogs.

“I don’t eat hot dogs,” I said, “but I’d come to watch.”

So we all piled into the Harrymobile to drive around Boston in search of the world’s greatest hot dog, which was apparently in a very elusive cart in an industrial park. Well, first, Joe and Paul (Harry 4 and Harry 7) had to release the Harrymobile from the grips of the garage, which charged them billions and billions of dollars in Muggle money. After feeding a machine an endless succession of twenties, we headed out and almost IMMEDIATELY got lost. This is because Harry and the Potters usually travel by broom or flying car, and the streets keep them down. But we finally got back on track, and we got to the industrial park, only to find that the cart was not there.

There were sounds of despair from all around the Harrymobile. But Paul quickly changed plans and said that there was ALSO an awesome Vietnamese sandwich shop we should go to. So we did a few more laps around Boston and eventually took the Harrymobile back to the same exact spot we had started from and walked to the restaurant, which Paul described as having, “the dirtiest door you will ever see on a place where you would actually want to buy food.”

They took us to Boston Common and showed us their favorite sights, including a monument to anesthesia.

By this point, I was supposed to be on a train home to New York. But Hank said, “You can’t leave. You have to go to the ball.” And Paul said, “You have to stay. I’ll play Ghostbusters for you.”

So I missed my train and stayed on for the ball.

I sat around with Hank Green in his hotel room for a little while, telling the story of how the “in your pants” got started. We also noticed that one of the sessions at the conference was run by a psychologist who specialized in helping people overcome their obsessions with fictional characters, and in the last few years, she has focused her practice on people obsessed with Snape. We noticed this just too late, as I would have gone to that IN AN INSTANT.

We went to dinner with Chellie and Monica The Short Sisters, Paige, and Rachael. Then we met up with Joe DeGeorge of Harry and the Potters in the lobby and went over to the ball. Joe was so ready:



Joe DeGeorge was ready for the ball.


The ball, dear readers, was an epic, epic thing. I can barely describe it. There was so much dancing. Paul, Hank, Melissa, and I broke into the restricted area and got up into the clocktower and danced for the crowd. Melissa did some major dance numbers. Hank and I did a tortured romantic number to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that ended with Paul pinning Hank down on the floor. Then we once again returned to the Leakysuite, this time with I think 500 people.

I took my place on the enormous bed and decided that I wanted to have a “lounge party,” which was just me being lazy and a party forming around me.

“I’m having a lounge party,” I said. “People should come in and lounge.”

For the first few minutes, it seemed like this idea might not take hold, but I am a persistent person. I invited everyone who even poked their head in to “come lounge.” And when I say “invited,” I mean, “ordered.” Pretty soon, the bed was completely full. I remembered seeing another rollaway bed in the main room, so I left my spot and went and got that bed and ADDED it to the big bed.



The lounge party.


Pretty soon, we had filled both beds, and all the space around the beds. We had about, I’d say, maybe 35 people on or around the beds. I got up to do something and LOST MY SPOT, and didn’t get it back until around 3 in the morning. At some point, I entered into a texting feud with Hank Green. A brave man named Colin stood up as my defender, and a wondrous battled ensued.



A wondrous battle.


Having given up on the bed, I took a rogue party into the main room of the suite to build a fort out of chairs and sheets we stole from other beds. This went pretty well for a while, but then the fort fell down, largely because we were holding it together with drumsticks and bits of a Rockband video game kit we found, and too many people tried to get in, and we got lazy. And then we locked Hank Green in a bathroom.

At some point after that, there was sleep. Once again, I think there were about ten people on the bed. When I woke up the next morning, I stumbled over the sleeping form of Voldemort by our door, and saw the ragged remains of our fort.



A sleeping He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and the ruins of the fort.


Though I caught Leakyflu, the virulent illness that overcame many people who were in the room that night, it was still 100% worth it. I may have infected many people at BEA (Book Expo America, a major publishing event) this weekend, but that’s just my way of KEEPING LEAKYCON ALIVE!

To see more scandalous photos, please friend me on Facebook. They are all there.

And next time . . . ADVICE POST. So if you need ADVICE, leave your questions in the comments.



* An unspecified gang of writers who will remain unspecified
** Butterbeer

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45 Comments:

Blogger Luna Star said...

It was fun hanging out with you at LeakyCon, Maureen =) You're awesome. Please come hang out with HP fans more often!!!! =D
Sincerely,
Kat who snuck up on you at the Nerdfighter Nosh so you'd sign her Suite Scarlett.

(I do not expect you to remember this. But I thought I'd try.)

7:15 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

Quite possibly the most hilarious text feud I've seen in a long time.

Glad you had such a good time!

Lily

7:17 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

I wish I had been invited to lounge with you, but I wasn't D: hah.

LeakyCon was amazing, Maureen. I'm so glad I at least got to MEET you! You're freaking awesome, I hope you know. And it was a fabulous time. This obviously means you're going to Leaky2011, right???

7:20 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the great post! I loved seeing the Leakycon through your words :) You are the BEST. xoxo

7:23 AM  
Blogger FzngWizbee said...

Maureen-
Fort building was fun. We should continue it at LeakyCon2011. Will post fort photos on Facebook soonish. Enjoy the singing hamster card!
~Sasha

7:33 AM  
OpenID paigingbrenna said...

Maureen, a) This is the most hilarious and true recount of LeakyCon I've read yet and b) I was in the LeakySuite multiple times and didn't once see you there or get to say Hi. (To this, I boo.) Even though I did see the fort being made and wondered, "I wonder why Hank is making a fort..." And then I heard somebody say, "We decided the password is 'shut the f*ck up."
Did this ACTUALLY happen?

-Brenna

7:34 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

Holy crap! That's my back! Glad you like that tattoos! Wish I could have talked to you at some point! <3!!

7:42 AM  
Blogger angela said...

I wish I would've been there!
You WILL see me there next year though, MJ I promise you this. (: Carpool? (: Haha. Unless you happen to be in Chi-Town before LEakyCon2011 I doubt that'll happen.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I wish I could have gone to LeakyCon! Maybe next time though.
It sounds like you all had a lot of fun.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Leakycon looks like it was the greatest thing in the world ever. Stupid Boston, being 3000 miles away.

Also, advise: How does one get his friends to realize the awesomeness of techno?

8:01 AM  
Blogger Melissa A. said...

OK, I totally missed the text feud because I blindly stumbled into another room to see how some people were and promptly fell asleep in that room. But it was only one of my 20 minute naps that fueled the entire week.

I also enjoyed the rolling in of the rollaway, and finding Voldemort on the floor in the morning. I believe after this night, when I woke at about 6:30am and tripped-fandangoed-to-the-shower, you blearily opened your eyes and scratched out "How ... are you... alive...?"

Thanks for adding so much funny and epic, dude. I'm so glad this is how we met. LEAKYCONFTW.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous McChrista said...

How can I figure out if the guy I like likes me back if we don't talk that often?

8:02 AM  
Blogger Starlysh said...

Thank you for coming to LeakyCon! And for signing my book. The Lounge Party was definitely a highlight of that magical weekend. Ingenious.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Quest Author said...

Maureen, you were a joy to have at the conference. I was the one who sold you the ticket for the raffle (my daughter did choose Suite Scarlet and is now in awe of the fact that I met you). I hope you can drag yourself to Leakycon 2011... I don't think the fort would be the same without you.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hahahahaha. I laughed so hard while reading this blog (and imagining you rocking out on stage, facing the wrong direction). If I could be just a little bit more like you, my life would be that much better. (This is basically what I have to say after reading any of your blog posts, but this one is especially funny.) The next time someone asks me to take a spontaneous trip (and/or miss my train to continue said spontaneous trip), I hope I remember this story and say yes.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for you!

Summer is upon me, and like most college students, I am poor. This lack of money is doubled by the fact that my chosen career is acting. Having written characters like Spencer and spending time around shows yourself, I beg you to advise me how I might maintain my theatrical nature while slogging away at an as-yet-unknown-but-certain-to-be-boring job? Many thanks in advance. ~Rachel

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Poppy said...

Harry Potter has never looked more fun!

10:50 AM  
Blogger nebka said...

For a visual of the ball :

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pascalgagne/3564001275/

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Sidi said...

Thank you for letting me experience LC 09 through you here. :)

11:42 PM  
Blogger superellen said...

I have a question:

What do I do with my summer?!

12:02 AM  
Anonymous WWFLOR said...

I am home from college and in desperate need of summer employment. Could you hire me?

-Will Work for Letters of Recommendation

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Ana said...

A question: We all know that team zombie is so much better than team unicorn, but how does one convince her friends that it is? Several are convinced that when zombies take over the world, their unicorns will save them. I doubt they will.
:o)

1:11 AM  
Anonymous JK said...

Wow, and I thought exam week was intense.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need advice on how to steal Snape back from the magical frogs named Elmond who are using him in their evil plot to mesh headphones with Twinkies and use it to infect the entire printer force with Frolic Disease.

Please.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Tamsin-Emillie said...

i would like advice on coming to Leakycon next year...My friend is an epic Harry Potter fan and wants to go and I want to go to America for the summer anyway...Do I do the right thing and acompany my friend through kindness and have epic fun...or do I travel the coast of america in search of...(i'll decide later)???

Please answer this terrible predicament...Its a life or death thing you see =(

3:22 AM  
Anonymous Kitty said...

Dear MJ,

Soon I will be going to a camp where I don't know anyone! I really need advice on how to make friends and a good first impression.

Help!
-Kitty

3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJ-
I want to write a book this summer...do you have any advice for me?

3:51 AM  
Anonymous MaddyH said...

Dear MJ,
I'm going to camp this summer, and I won't know anyone. I'm terrible at making new friends and I don't want to be lonely for three weeks. What should I do?

3:53 AM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

Ok, I am SO coming to the next Leakycon!

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Wise and Powerful MJ: Since you are all-knowing, I was hoping you could answer a question: How do you tell a guy that you LIEK liek him?

6:38 AM  
Anonymous tess said...

mj, I am disappointed in you! A Harry Potter post with no mention of JK Rowling and her craziness?

7:06 AM  
Blogger MAlly said...

You are amazingly hysterical and I love reading your books and your blog!

Somebody asked a similar question earlier... but how do you FLIRT with a guy?

7:17 AM  
Anonymous sallene said...

Great blog! I loved Leaky Con and have good pictures of the staff bed-pile (declined actually sitting on the bed myself since I just KNEW my weight would be enough to plummet the bed through to the floor below). Glad you had a good time!

11:20 PM  
Anonymous a girl. said...

How do you tell a girl that you LIKE like her if you're both not drunk and sleeping in the same bed?

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Zelda. said...

Maureen, your posts are hilarious. RIDICULOUSLY HILARIOUS! hah. I'm glad I started reading your blog.

So, advice!

How to get over a jerk. Are there any... rituals?

This might be a bit urgent.

5:16 AM  
OpenID whdiana203 said...

okkkk
so DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE WILL BE A 13 Little Blue Envelopes SEQUAL?! MJ kinda left me hangin there, so i read the book over multiple times in my desperation!
And also when does Scarlett Fever come out? Wow, i sound more annoying than i desired. ick.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Shrieky said...

Yes! You are AMAZING, my new resolution is to go to Leakycon. But first I need advice. There is a girl (who we shall call GirlWhoMakesCoffee) who bugs me. She is in my German class and she comes early EVERY morning and makes COFFEE so my teacher doesn't have to. (Our teacher lets us have coffee and tea in class because she is made of win.) When we were in middle school, GirlWhoMakesCoffee learned the first names of all the teachers and would refer to them in coversation ONLY BY THEIR FIRST NAME. That is the kind of person she is. Not one single teacher sees through her, they all luuuuuuuurve her and think she's the best thing since Scantron cards, etc. Now, unfortunately, my German teacher thinks my friends and I like her, so we are stuck doing our final project with her. There is no way out of this situation. It wouldn't be so bad (well actually it would be), but she keeps looking up literal translations for things in the dictionary. THIS IS BAD. We cannoto trust her to write anything because we would have to do it all over again. We're going to have to put up with this situation next year too. What should we do????

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fake wands turn into rubber chickens. I'm not sure if they were Fred and George's or Zonko's. But i know they were in the books.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you do if your friends hang out with you during the school year but as soon as summer comes they either forget you're alive or only come over when their boyfriend/girlfriend comes over too?

10:51 PM  
OpenID kira902k said...

Squee! Thank you for just letting me relive leakycon. It really was amazing, thank you for coming.
I didnt get to hang out with you that much, because i am not over 21, nor am i a super-awesome-internet-person but it was awesome to meet you. I did get a picture with you, so thats good.
xD
The blanket fort sounds epic. :D
please go to leakycon '11!!! i need to meet you again! (and i didnt have any of your books with me to get signed, so i need that to be done too)

6:57 AM  
Anonymous trini said...

Maureen!

I've been wanting to buy your new book for a while now, but whenever I go to the Border's around these parts, THEY NEVER HAVE A COPY. Not even in hardback! This happens to me a lot and I'm starting to feel like they're targeting me specifically.

So, my question is: What do you suggest I do next time I go there/any other bookseller's and they don't have your book/any other book I want to buy?

I ask you for your help because you seem to have such a magically effective way of dealing with things, for example, your LeakyCon spell.

Thanks for your time.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Psych! said...

mj, how do i gain more freedom from my parents?

12:28 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

this has to be one of the greatest blog posts EVER. Even though I was already upset that I couldn't go to Leakycon, and this post made me even more upset, it is truly great.

I don't know if that made sense, as I'm sick to and am heavily drugged with cold medicine. :)

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I secretly love a small Asian boy who is moving away next year. Any ideas?

3:16 AM  
Blogger Bri said...

Have you ever been to http://mylifeisaverage.com maureen? You belong there. ;)

11:32 PM  

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