Sunday, December 5, 2010

Harry Potter Rules the Future!

by Caren Crane

As some of you know, I have a high school senior this year. Most of my “free time” (snork) is spent nagging her about filling out college applications and scholarship applications. The remainder is spent searching for scholarships for which she is eligible to apply. This seems innocuous enough, but let me tell you friends, it is a sure path to madness. Most scholarships have stringent criteria applicants must meet. The few who meet them must then contort themselves to slither through a series of elaborate hoops in order to complete the application. After that, it’s months of nail biting, finger crossing and endless waiting.

The upside to the search is that there are some really amusing scholarships out there. My favorite is one sponsored by called The Big Dig Scholarship. I decided for fun (and since I couldn't get my daughter interested in applying) that I would answer the questions that constitute the scholarship application here. Sorry to disappoint the sticklers, but no annotated bibliography is included. :)

1. What is the item you are going to bury?

A first American Collector’s Edition of the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

2. Where could you purchase the item today?

This edition is currently available at Quill & Brush booksellers, accessible on the internet.

3. How much does the item cost?

The book is listed for $100.00 (though I saw it at another rare book dealer for about $250.00).

4. What made you choose this item?

The Harry Potter book series came to mind because of the recent release of the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. It made me remember how much I enjoyed reading the books aloud to my daughters. By the time the last book was released, the girls were too old to tolerate being read to (though I was willing) and they read it on their own. I have seen every Harry Potter film when it was released in theaters and own them on DVD. Harry Potter has been part of my family’s life for the past 13 years, so it is no surprise the first book is a treasure I would bury in the backyard.

5. Why do you believe that the item will have immense value 200 years from now?

J.K. Rowling’s series of books about the Boy Who Lived and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have made history as the fastest-selling books of all time. According to Reuters, the series of seven books has sold more than 400 million copies. That is frankly astonishing. The series spawned a series of major Hollywood films that have set box office records on their opening weekends. The series has been translated into 67 languages, so it is a global phenomenon. It has also inspired myriad spin-off books (both authorized and unauthorized), academic studies, spin-off movies, spin-off TV shows and more fan fiction than you can shake a stick at. It famously inspired A Very Potter Musical, which I heard about from my teenagers. It has been watched many, many times at our house both in full and in part, thanks to YouTube. (As a side bonus for Gleeks, the guy who plays Harry in the musical is none other than Darren Criss, who plays Kurt's mentor and possible love interest on Glee!)

Believe it or not, high schools and colleges now have Harry Potter Clubs. I know, because my daughters are in the one at their high school. Many of these clubs have Quidditch teams and, yes, one of my daughters is a Bludger on her school’s team. The girls are also planning to attend a Yule Ball that is being planned by the Harry Potter Club at another high school and fretting about what to wear. My younger daughter will be going on a combined-school Harry Potter Club trip in February to – you guessed it – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

Harry Potter inspires maniacal fandom in both young people and adults. Those book release parties sponsored by local bookstores drew out a huge and varied throng of people, costumed and breathlessly waiting to buy their copy of the next installment at midnight. Yes, friends, they did this for books. I know of no other series of books that has swept the world and captivated all ages in such a, well, magical way. Harry Potter is more than a pop culture blip. I think he has permeated the global ether in a way that will be lasting and remembered for centuries to come. In 200 years, a first American Collector’s Edition of the first book in Harry’s tragic saga will be worth a bundle of money. I hope my heirs will cherish it and that it helps make their lives much more magical!

Isn’t this a fun game? I had a great time with it. So what would you bury for your family to dig up in 200 years, and why? If you just want to geek out and talk about Harry Potter (or Darren Criss), that’s okay, too.


Deanna said...

Happy Sunday!!! Been away for a while. It's good to be back.

Donna MacMeans said...

Oh Daz - I was getting excited by the 0 comments. You beat me by a second or two.

Harry Potter is a good choice, Caren. I think I'd bury a collection of my books - not sure they'd be worth a lot in 200 years, but maybe distant, distant, distant relatives would find them interesting.

Deanna said...

I've never really thought about it. What would I bury? That's a really, really good question. I think I would bury an iPod with all the music that I love - from music that I grew up with to the music that inspires me and the stuff I listen to just for fun. I'm not sure if the iPod would still work (after all some technology necessary, unlike a book) but I think it would be fun to check out the music that spanned a person's (mine!) lifetime. 80s love ballads, anyone?

Deanna said...

Donna, sorry about that. I think it was pretty neck and neck there.

Nancy said...

Daz, congrats on the bird.

Caren, I'm not sure what I'd bury in the back yard. I'll sleep on it and let you know. So far my dream of stumbling on a cache of gold in the back garden and learning it was buried during the Civil War has not come true.

Too bad. We also have a high school senior, and I could use some Confederate gold. Unlike the CSA scrip, the gold has retained its value.

Anyway, you may be interested to know that there was, for a while, a rock group in the Harvard area known as Harry and the Potters.


Unknown said...

well done Daz

Hi Caren I have been to see Harry Potter this morning with my grandaughter.... I have seen all the earlier ones with her so she said we have to see this one together even though she is 18 and could go with her friends... I presume we will have to see the last one together...I have read all the books ..... not sure what I would bury ... will have to think about that

Helen said...

Well done Daz he is liking it in Sydney at the moment LOL

This is a really good post I gotta say I do so love all the Harry Potter books and movies and am waiting for July for part 2 of The Deathly Hallows.

What would I bury in the back yard to be dug up 200 years from now I probably would put a lot of family photos and special family items. I have a diary that belonged to my grandmother and it has some funny little drawings in it and some stories about her life in it I would hope that distant relatives would be interested to read about their ancestors and perhaps a letter from me.

Have Fun

Nas said...

Not sure what would I bury..hmmm...maybe a calculator we use now and two hundred years later people would have a micro chip implanted in their minds to do calculations and would be surprised by my buried treasure.

Caren Crane said...

Daz, congratulations on nabbing the GR! I'm sure he'll have a lot of fun with you today. Just watch any Christmas candy you may have bought - he is a mad chocolate thief!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I'm sure your family would love to have an intact collection of your books. It's tough to anticipate what the world at large will find valuable, but family will always treasure things from their ancestors. I would LOVE to have a journal from an ancestor. What fun to know what s/he thought!

Caren Crane said...

Daz, when I was trying to figure out what to bury, I dismissed a lot of things because I figured they might not work. It would be great if you could figure out how to bury something like an iPod and ensure it would work in 200 years.

We can't even be sure the power systems will be the same, but it would be fun to leave music for descendants. Yes, I think 80s power ballads would be a real treat. Maybe some pictures of the metal bands, too. Can you imagine what they would make of the big hair? *g*

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I know what you mean about the gold cache, believe me. That's why I'm straining my brain hunting up the scholarships. We'll have another senior next year, then 5 solid years of tuition and living expenses to pay for. It would be easier if our education savings accounts hadn't lost half their value!

I suppose burying $200 worth of gold would be worth a try. You never know about markets in the future, though, and gold is currently valued so high that $200 doesn't buy much. It's nice to think maybe I could send some future many-greats grandchild to college. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Nancy, I have heard of Harry and the Potters! I think it's great when kids can just claim what they love and let it influence them in college, rather than being embarrassed about it and stuffing it in a closet. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Barb, you're ahead of me if you've seen the new movie. I want to go, but I don't want to pay $9.75 (or even $6.75) for the privilege of walking into a theater. I'll wait until it's on at my $1.50 theater (probably in February!) and see it then. I have to wait so long that everyone in the world has seen movies before I have. I just saw Inception a week ago at the theater. It was amazing!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I think your future family would really treasure the photos and especially the diary. My mother loves to get rid of things, so I despair of having much to remember her by when she's gone. I know she does have photos, though, so I'll grab some of those!

It's hard, though, to think of something that will be invaluable later that is relatively inexpensive now. I was amazed that a first edition Harry Potter book could be had for $100.00 still. Of course, an autographed one would be thousands of dollars!

Of course, an autographed Bandita book will be worth a fortune. Maybe I should just bury a draft of one of my books. No doubt that will be worth a fortune someday, eh? ;-)

Caren Crane said...

Nas, maybe if it were a solar calculator it would still work! Actually, I was re-reading my Anne McCaffrey collection recently and she had a computer system from ancient times on Pern that was solar-powered. The settlers had carefully shielded the building it was in so that the erupting volcanoes wouldn't destroy their knowledge base.

So, I think you're onto something with the calculator. Just make sure it's got a power source they will be able to use later. I'm sure future people will be astonished by what we didn't know. Kind of like we are about people in 1810! Although I'm often amazed by what they did know, too.

Joan said...

Morning all,

A quick shout out before taking my beloved brother (who would roll his eyes at the beloved part :P) for a bday lunch.

I took from your post, that this item does not necessarily imply only books so:

I would bury a selection of handcrafts: crochet, knit, counted cross stitch.

You can purchase the items needed for these creastions at specialty stores and online catalouges.

The cost varies depending on the scope of the project, for larger ones could be $100 or more

I chose these items for the value in the history of lost arts. Not enough people have the time to devote to these expresssions of beauty due to time and modern distractions i.e. Bejeweled Blitz :D

I believe these will have value in the future because humanity's senses will be so dulled by the constant bombardment of electronic stimuli that to behold something made so "crudely" by their ancestors yet so dazzling it will renew their spirit

Trish Milburn said...

I absolutely love how the Harry Potter stories got hordes of kids interesting in books and reading again. And when they finished those books, they went on to explore others. I credit J.K. Rowling with bringing the YA genre back to life.

Trish Milburn said...

Nancy, I've heard Harry and the Potters. They are probably the most famous band of many who are called wizard rock bands. There's Draco and the Malfoys, the Remus Lupins, the Whomping Willows, Tonks and the Aurors, the Moaning Myrtles, etc. There's even a website devoted to the genre:

I want to go to one of the Harry Potter fan conferences sometime because they usually have, in addition to tons of workshops, a wizard rock concert with lots of bands.

Louisa Cornell said...

Welcome back, Daz! We missed you! Apparently the GR really missed you as he jumped on the chance to visit with you again.

What a neat idea! I was forced to read the first Harry Potter book as my brother refused to let my nephew and niece read it until I did. (Some preacher labeled it "satanic." SIGH) After that I was hooked and pre read each book for the kids. I have all of the movies on DVD. I think we will be reaping the benefits of these books in their renewing interest in reading in young people for years to come. I certainly hope so.

As for me, I think I would have to bury a collection of the complete works of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Georgette Heyer. I never want the world to forget the power of romance to touch our lives.

Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Joan, I love your idea! You are quite right in thinking that people in the future will be fascinated by "real world" things, IMO. Especially since things like hand-sewn needlework are already rather uncommon. A piece of "rare" needlework from our time might fetch a pretty penny in 200 years! I know intact needlework from 1810 fetches a pretty penny today!

Have fun with your brother and tell him Happy Birthday from all of us here!

Caren Crane said...

Trish, it was amazing to see the effect the Harry Potter books had on non-reading kids. My kids always loved books, so these were a natural fit for them. Then again, my husband and I both read all the time.

I would be interested to know whether it made readers - real readers, who read more than JK Rowling - of kids whose parents do not read. With as many of the books as have been sold, statistics tell us it has to have happened. That would be a significant triumph for literature!

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Trish, a whole subculture! I'm sure they have lots of performers of wizard rock at the fan conventions. That would be a really fun trip, wouldn't it? I look forward to being able to do fun things like that someday - after we pay for all the years of college, of course. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, wasn't the extreme conservative backlash against poor Harry a head-scratcher? I had to wonder how people who let their children watch NFL games - with requisite violence and scantily-clad cheerleaders, etc. - could object to a fictional story about a world in which magic exists. I mean, it IS fiction, whereas the violence and blatant sexuality our children see every day is real life. I suppose everyone needs an enemy to fight, though, and Harry was an easy target!

I agree about keeping the power of romance alive for generations to come. Not sure how valuable the books will be, since there are so very many around these days, but the stories themselves are priceless!

Caren Crane said...

Everyone, I wanted to let you know (in case you didn't check out The Big Dig for yourself) that last year's scholarship winner decided to bury the jersey of Chinese NBA player Yao Ming. He did projections of the population growth of China in 200 years, along with the increase in disposable income of Chinese people. He figured since the Chinese would be so populous and would have more income, they would be interested in the jersey of a Chinese athlete from this time. It was a pretty convincing argument! There is a link to his essay on the Big Dig Scholarship page I linked in my post. Fun stuff!

jo robertson said...

Great blog, Caren. I love all things Harry Potter and think J.K. Rowling is a goddess. Which is one of the reasons I hate it when people say, "So and so is the next J.K. Rowling." I don't think so.

I can't even imagine the brilliance that fostered this magical series.

Yay, Daz, you're back. Where have you been?

jo robertson said...

Hmmm, I have no idea what I'd bury. Probably my journals. It's fun to think of a descendant reading them decades later.

I do commiserate on the college apps, though. I've walked many a senior student through the application essay. Since there are so many 4.0+ applicants with AP classes and weighted grades, the colleges really want to find out what's unique about your student.

It's more murderous for the parent than the student, I think LOL.

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I share your frustration. Really, reviewers lack perspective on how much sheer genius it takes to think up a really new idea and be able to execute it. I have had a few really great ideas that I know I am not yet capable of pulling off. Maybe one day, but not today! I'll have to wait until life is a little more sane, I fear. Not sure when that will be!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I know with your posse and your teaching background, you have endured endless essays! The daughter is much more sanguine about all this college business than I am. My husband is completely clueless, because he has been intentionally hands-off about the whole thing. She has already been accepted at her third choice school, though, so at least we know she has somewhere to go next year. Still waiting to hear from the #1 and #2 choices.

And she'd better be offered some scholarship money from one of these many organizations we've hit up or I'll be working a second job at the mall until I can no longer stand! *g*

You're not kidding about the competitive nature of the college stuff, either. They really do want to know what's unique about your kid. Trying to get a 17-year-old to engage in enough self-evaluation and reflection to figure out what's unique about themselves is like squeezing blood from the proverbial turnip. It's real work, people, trust me.

jo robertson said...

Caren said, "Trying to get a 17-year-old to engage in enough self-evaluation and reflection to figure out what's unique about themselves is like squeezing blood from the proverbial turnip."

I hear you. It's much easier for a teacher LOL.

I just saw one of my ex-students at church today. She's teaching college Spanish. Yikes!

Nancy said...

Caren, I haven't thought of anything to bury. The $200 in gold might be a good idea, if I had it.

Maybe I could bury the dancing Santa my parents had, an example of 20th century (or 21st) holiday kitsch for the future. He does need batteries, though.

I doubt he would be worth much in 200 years, and I'm pretty sure he's still available at big box stores.

And he's good for a laugh. If I can figure out how to make wassail, maybe we'll see what that does to his ho-ho-ho factor. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Jo, that's a success story right there. She was, no doubt, inspired by some awesome English teacher (ahem), who showed her what an impact she could have on students. *sniff* It's a beautiful testament to the power of teachers.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, the dancing Santa sounds a bit like the singing bass of the 90s. I thought those things would never go away, but they seem to have disappeared!

Maybe if you outfit him with solar panels they'll be able to enjoy him in the future, too! I feel a Big Idea coming on. *g*

Good luck with the wassail. Let us know how it turns out!

Nancy said...

Caren wrote: Nancy, the dancing Santa sounds a bit like the singing bass of the 90s.

LOL! It's very MUCH like the singing bass (official name "The Big Mouth Bass," I believe), which was our last birthday present to my father.

I was sick and couldn't go to the birthday dinner, but the dh reported that although my mother rolled her eyes, my father beamed and showed it off to everyone. He loved stuff like that. I think she even liked the Santa.

Solar panels could work.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, that's so sweet about your dad and the bass. I'm glad he loved it. I remarked this morning that I think people should get whatever they want on their birthday. If they want a huge party, they should have one. If they want no party, everyone should respect that. And if they want a singing bass, by gum they should get a singing bass! Personally, I like to get together with friends and eat. Forget presents, just give me lunch or dinner or a cake with friends!

Cassondra said...

Wooohooo Daz!

The neighbors are going to start thinking you have a pet rooster. It'a probably better to NOT tell them who he really is. IT could start an international scandal...

Just sayin....

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, surely not a scandal! In the Lair? I'm sure Daz would never cause such a ruckus. After all, we have our pristine reputations to protect. *snork*

Cassondra said...

Posh, this is a great blog.

And that is a very pretty boy in that picture at the end of it.

I don't really know who the heck he is, of course, and.....I'm old enough to be his sister....but still, he is very pretty.

I LOVE the Harry Potter series, though I have not read all the books yet, nor have I seen the past two films. I've just been too swamped, and I want to do a whole marathon where I rewatch all of them before I watch the lastest. I can't seem to find the time to do that.

That's not good, is keep wanting to do it a certain way to the point you don't do it at all? :0/

Cassondra said...

And can I just say....what a STRANGE thing to base a scholarship upon....

Cassondra said...

Daz said:

I think I would bury an iPod with all the music that I love - from music that I grew up with to the music that inspires me and the stuff I listen to just for fun. I'm not sure if the iPod would still work (after all some technology necessary, unlike a book) but I think it would be fun to check out the music that spanned a person's (mine!) lifetime. 80s love ballads, anyone?

You know, that's an astonishingly good idea. What a cool way to do a time capsule. And with an ipod, you could even include photos of yourself, or video.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

So far my dream of stumbling on a cache of gold in the back garden and learning it was buried during the Civil War has not come true.

Ha! I've been looking for the box of money buried around my house too! As most of you know, we're restoring a 150-year old house, and everyone talks about the box of money or jar of money that's quite likely buried around here--quite likely according to everyone ELSE. We have thus far not proven the likelihood....we've found a few old coins which were lost under the old porch, but other than that, just a lot of broken dish fragments and parts of old tools and horseshoes.

I have not, however, stopped waiting for said box o' money to appear each time I dig a hole to plant a tree or shrub. Perhaps one day.

LilMissMolly said...

OMG! My kids have been so addicted to the Very Potter musical on Youtube too. They sing the songs all the time and every time they watch Glee and Darrin comes on, they scream. It is quite funny.

Deanna said...

Hey Jo, I've just been busy with some other things and neglected reading my blogs for a while. I see I've missed some great posts too. :-( It's good to be back. The Banditas are my favorite.