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A close examination of language — its power to inform and misinform, to elucidate and obfuscate — from renowned Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter. A true polymath, McWhorter analyzes the words and phrases that dominate our discourse and make the headlines. www.booksmartstudios.org
 
The Harry Potter Lexicon website has been in existence for almost two decades. Over that time, J.K Rowling thrilled us with her magical creation — in novels, interviews, on her websites, on Twitter, and more. And here at the Lexicon, a small group of dedicated fans have worked very hard over all those years to catalogue all the magical details she revealed. The Lexicon website has always been seen as the gold standard for careful research and faithfulness to Rowling’s created world, all beca ...
 
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Turns out that some languages are less intelligible through a mask than others, and, believe it or not, it all depends on how often you use certain consonants. It’s called the McGurk effect and it’s the closest that linguistics comes to actual magic. * FULL TRANSCRIPT * From Booksmart Studios, this is Lexicon Valley, a podcast about language. I'm J…
 
There’s a lot of passionate argument about whether “Critical Race Theory” should be taught in schools. But the meaning of CRT differs greatly depending on who you talk to. What did CRT originally mean, and what does it mean now? What are our children actually being taught? And why do some terms tend to become so thorny over time? Click play to find…
 
In my last podcast, I talked about the first of two magic duels in chapter 36 of Order of the Phoenix, the one between Harry and Bellatrix. Now it’s time to move on to the main event, the massive duel between Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort. There is no other magical battle in the entire series to equal this one. The roller-coaster flow of spells an…
 
In my last podcast, I talked about the first of two magic duels in chapter 36 of Order of the Phoenix, the one between Harry and Bellatrix. Now it’s time to move on to the main event, the massive duel between Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort. There is no other magical battle in the entire series to equal this one. The roller-coaster flow of spells an…
 
Umbridge is one of those characters the reader is supposed to hate and despise, but she isn’t a Death Eater, she’s just a nasty person. Sirius sums this up well by saying “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters”, and Umbridge is the perfect embodiment of this maxim, showing the nuance that Rowling can give to her characters. Not ev…
 
Umbridge is one of those characters the reader is supposed to hate and despise, but she isn’t a Death Eater, she’s just a nasty person. Sirius sums this up well by saying “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters”, and Umbridge is the perfect embodiment of this maxim, showing the nuance that Rowling can give to her characters. Not ev…
 
LexiCon #301 – America’s Ass Strikes Back July 4th is Steve Rogers’ (and Nick Fury’s) birthday! (And, America, I guess.) To celebrate, we watched Captain America: The First Avenger, which was released in theaters ten years ago this month . . . What’s your favorite Steve Rogers (or Nick Fury) moment in the MCU? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, ge…
 
In this podcast we’re going to take a look at the incredible magical duels in chapter 36 of the Order of the Phoenix. Before we get to the main duel in the chapter, however, that between Voldemort and Dumbledore, we learn a bit about the Unforgivable Curses when Harry and Bellatrix have their own duel in the Atrium before Voldemort appears. After k…
 
In this podcast we’re going to take a look at the incredible magical duels in chapter 36 of the Order of the Phoenix. Before we get to the main duel in the chapter, however, that between Voldemort and Dumbledore, we learn a bit about the Unforgivable Curses when Harry and Bellatrix have their own duel in the Atrium before Voldemort appears. After k…
 
Season Three is Here! Hello, everyone. Back in January, 2018, I created a new short-form podcast called The Harry Potter Lexicon Minute. I had planned on a shorter title — The Harry Potter Minute — but discovered that there was already a podcast with that name, so I added the Lexicon’s name. The podcast ran for over 160 episodes, through November o…
 
Season Three is Here! Hello, everyone. Back in January, 2018, I created a new short-form podcast called The Harry Potter Lexicon Minute. I had planned on a shorter title — The Harry Potter Minute — but discovered that there was already a podcast with that name, so I added the Lexicon’s name. The podcast ran for over 160 episodes, through November o…
 
LexiCon #300 – America’s Original Ass A father, daughter and son watch the Kurt Angle-Shane McMahon street fight from King of the Ring 2001 . . . What’s your favorite Kurt Angle match? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially distance, and MASK-UP! . Help victims of the Flor…
 
LexiCon #298 – Squidward Tentacles’ Day Off A father, daughter and son watch the 80’s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for its 35th anniversary . . . If you had access to a car like that, would you take it back? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially distance, and MASK-UP!…
 
LexiCon #296 – Wrestling ’96 On their 296th episode, a father, daughter and son watch two ’96 wrestling matches (Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel from 4/96 and Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. from 6/96) . . . What’s your favorite wrestling decade? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands,…
 
LexiCon #295 – Man, We Were Just Dumb A father, daughter and son comb through the Cartoon Network Catalogue . . . What’s your favorite Cartoon Network show? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially distance, and MASK-UP! . Here are some resources/websites/organizations to ch…
 
LexiCon #294 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Silliness A father, daughter and son take another deep-dive into the second installment of the Harry Potter books . . . Do you think it a really small book, or a really big toilet? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially distan…
 
LexiCon #293 – Nobody Puts Miss Piggy in a Corner A father, daughter and son welcome the kids’ mother as they do their commentary thing for her favorite movie, Dirty Dancing . . . What would you think about a Dirty Dancing reboot? Let us know on Twitter. . Remember, get vaccinated when you can, stay home when possible, wash your hands, socially dis…
 
Summer is over and it is time to return to Hogwarts. Harry has lessons with Professor Dumbledore to look forward to. He becomes surprisingly talented in Potions class and works hard as the new Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. But what is his classmate Draco Malfoy actually up to? Ready or not, here we go! Podcasts: Fifty Years Ago by Steve…
 
Summer is over and it is time to return to Hogwarts. Harry has lessons with Professor Dumbledore to look forward to. He becomes surprisingly talented in Potions class and works hard as the new Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. But what is his classmate Draco Malfoy actually up to? Ready or not, here we go! Podcasts: Fifty Years Ago by Steve…
 
Everything turns a bit darker in Book Five. Lord Voldemort has returned. Dementors show up in unexpected places. And Harry is unhappy, even when he has re-joined his friends before the end of the summer. Ready to find out why? Let’s go! Podcasts: Encore Presentation: OP 1: Drought by Steve VanderArk OP 2: Kneazles by Steve VanderArk OP 3: Why Not S…
 
Everything turns a bit darker in Book Five. Lord Voldemort has returned. Dementors show up in unexpected places. And Harry is unhappy, even when he has re-joined his friends before the end of the summer. Ready to find out why? Let’s go! Podcasts: Encore Presentation: OP 1: Drought by Steve VanderArk OP 2: Kneazles by Steve VanderArk OP 3: Why Not S…
 
We now start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a book with several exciting events for Harry and his friends to experience. We go back to the Weasleys and attend an international event where a disaster takes place. What more can happen? If you’re ready to find out – on we go! Podcasts: Canon Thoughts: Goblet of Fire by Steve VanderArk Fifty Year…
 
We now start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a book with several exciting events for Harry and his friends to experience. We go back to the Weasleys and attend an international event where a disaster takes place. What more can happen? If you’re ready to find out – on we go! Podcasts: Canon Thoughts: Goblet of Fire by Steve VanderArk Fifty Year…
 
In the early 2000s, Harry Potter fans debated the possible range of dates for the saga. Small clues like the reference to a PlayStation in book four were discussed in detail. — Since the PlayStation wasn’t available until December 1994 in Japan and September 1995 in Europe, some argued that the events of Goblet of Fire couldn’t have happened until …
 
In the early 2000s, Harry Potter fans debated the possible range of dates for the saga. Small clues like the reference to a PlayStation in book four were discussed in detail. — Since the PlayStation wasn’t available until December 1994 in Japan and September 1995 in Europe, some argued that the events of Goblet of Fire couldn’t have happened until …
 
Welcome to the third book in the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban! Many fans consider this to be their favorite Harry Potter novel. Harry is another year older, another face-off with Voldemort under his belt. What could be in store for him and his friends this year? Let’s crack the new adventure open and find out! Podcasts: Canon Thoughts: Book Thre…
 
Welcome to the third book in the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban! Many fans consider this to be their favorite Harry Potter novel. Harry is another year older, another face-off with Voldemort under his belt. What could be in store for him and his friends this year? Let’s crack the new adventure open and find out! Podcasts: Canon Thoughts: Book Thre…
 
Welcome to the fifth installment of our celebration series! We’ve been warned not to return to Hogwarts, met some new allies and foes, and accidentally broken one of the most fundamental rules of wizarding society. What a way to start the school year! Ready to have some fun exploring what’s next? Here we go! Podcasts: CS 6: Howlers, Mandrakes, and …
 
Welcome to the fifth installment of our celebration series! We’ve been warned not to return to Hogwarts, met some new allies and foes, and accidentally broken one of the most fundamental rules of wizarding society. What a way to start the school year! Ready to have some fun exploring what’s next? Here we go! Podcasts: CS 6: Howlers, Mandrakes, and …
 
Now we’re into the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Plenty of connections can be made between this book and book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In fact, book two was originally going to be called Half-Blood Prince! Here’s what Rowling had to say about that: I have been engulfed by an avalanche of questions on the …
 
Now we’re into the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Plenty of connections can be made between this book and book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In fact, book two was originally going to be called Half-Blood Prince! Here’s what Rowling had to say about that: I have been engulfed by an avalanche of questions on the …
 
Quidditch is the wizard sport that everyone – well, almost everyone – in the Wizarding World is mad about. It features high levels of danger and unpredictability. The strange rules and seemingly unfair scoring system of Quidditch are more than a bit illogical. But what outweighs these objections are the thrills – thrills for the spectators in the s…
 
Quidditch is the wizard sport that everyone – well, almost everyone – in the Wizarding World is mad about. It features high levels of danger and unpredictability. The strange rules and seemingly unfair scoring system of Quidditch are more than a bit illogical. But what outweighs these objections are the thrills – thrills for the spectators in the s…
 
Ready to have some fun exploring? Here we go! Podcasts: Trunks by Selena Gallagher Platform Nine and 3/4 by Steve VanderArk How Many Students Are There at Hogwarts? by Steve VanderArk Whatever Happened to Sally-Ann? by Steve VanderArk The Significance of Hallowe’en by Rosie Payne Free Will, Divination and Time Travel Part 1 by Abby Koop Reader’s Gu…
 
Ready to have some fun exploring? Here we go! Podcasts: Trunks by Selena Gallagher Platform Nine and 3/4 by Steve VanderArk How Many Students Are There at Hogwarts? by Steve VanderArk Whatever Happened to Sally-Ann? by Steve VanderArk The Significance of Hallowe’en by Rosie Payne Free Will, Divination and Time Travel Part 1 by Abby Koop Reader’s Gu…
 
When Harry finally gets his Hogwarts letter from Hagrid, it contains a list of required school supplies, but makes no mention of how he’s expected to pack it all. Nevertheless, on the 1st September, it’s all safely packed in a ‘huge, heavy trunk.’ This is fortuitous as it appears that the trunk is indeed the luggage of choice for Hogwarts students.…
 
When Harry finally gets his Hogwarts letter from Hagrid, it contains a list of required school supplies, but makes no mention of how he’s expected to pack it all. Nevertheless, on the 1st September, it’s all safely packed in a ‘huge, heavy trunk.’ This is fortuitous as it appears that the trunk is indeed the luggage of choice for Hogwarts students.…
 
Welcome to the first of twenty-six blog posts in our Canon Celebration! This time around we’re exploring the first five chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Why am I not saying “Sorcerer’s Stone”? Because that’s not the original name of the book, as you probably know. That’s the title that the editors at Scholastic came up with bec…
 
Welcome to the first of twenty-six blog posts in our Canon Celebration! This time around we’re exploring the first five chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Why am I not saying “Sorcerer’s Stone”? Because that’s not the original name of the book, as you probably know. That’s the title that the editors at Scholastic came up with bec…
 
Twenty-one years ago, I created a small website to collect and organize information about the Harry Potter novels. I was part of an online discussion group called Harry Potter for Grown Ups, which is just what it sounds like, and we all needed a quick way to find details from the books as we discussed the clues and hints that we found as we read th…
 
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