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The Portal - October Edition

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Oct. 31st, 2007 | 06:42 pm
posted by: zz_portus in portus_2008

Letter from the Ghoul

Boo! And a Happy Halloween from the Portus staff!

Halloween is a favorite time of year for many Potterphiles. After all, how often do we get the excuse to don our school robes and participate in some well-mannered frivolity? (Besides Portus of course!)

In this special issue of The Portal, we will be offering some suggestions on how you can Potterize this year’s celebration of Halloween.

Also known as All Hallows Eve, Halloween originated in Ireland and Great Britain under the name of Samhain before being embraced by the Western countries in the late twentieth Century. Many cultures hold that it is the time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent.

So let’s whip out our wands and swish and flick our way into some pumpkin juice, Halloween mad libs, cauldron cookies and so much more!

Best Regards,
Aziza Aba Butain


Portus Previews – October Episode

The new episode of the Portus Previews is now available for download. The October installment features an interview with our Friday Keynote Luncheon speaker, Dr. Henry Jenkins.

You can subscribe to the Portus Previews through iTunes by visiting our News & Updates page and clicking on the Portus Previews image at the bottom. Or, if you use a feed reader other than iTunes, just copy and paste http://www.hp2008.org/podcast.xml into your reader's Subscribe field.


Registration Reminder

The price for registration is currently at $200.00. Be sure to get your registration before the price increase on February 1, 2008. Visit the Registration page to learn more.

Looking to be a part of Portus’ programming but need some ideas? Be sure to take a look at our monthly prompts as presenters can register at the discounted price of $180.00.

Call for Proposals - October Prompts

October Prompts
By Jenn Clack

As Halloween approaches (everyone get their cloaks cleaned & pressed), let’s look at the appearances of Halloween in our favorite book series. Hopefully, the spooks and ghosts don’t frighten you away from writing a proposal for Portus’ formal programming.

The fateful Halloween night of 1980…

  • Why didn’t either James or Lily have their wands on them? Complacency or sabotage?
  • Why didn’t Sirius just run after he talked to Hagrid? What did he think he’d accomplish by confronting Pettigrew?

“Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid.” (SS 10)

  • We get the first view of Harry’s propensity toward bravery tempered with foolishness on his first Hogwarts Halloween. Why did JKR want us to know this about Harry so early?
  • Is this why JKR gave us Hermione? To counteract Harry’s not-so-brilliant tendencies?

“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” (SS 10)

  • The beginning of the trio: What do we see in this early friendship that carries through the series?
  • Alternate Universe: What would have happened if Harry & Ron hadn’t gone back for Hermione?

Another unfortunate Halloween: Nearly Headless Nick

  • Examining the Ballad of Nearly Headless Nick cut from JKR’s first draft of Chamber of Secrets.
  • Why didn’t he sharpen the axe by magic? He was all ready to die for doing magic. What could one more spell hurt?

Visit our Call for Proposals page to learn more about you can become a part of the Portus experience!

Become a Volunteer!

Portus is an event run completely by volunteers. From the senior staff to the on-site volunteers, Portus just wouldn’t be Portus without the help and commitment from its guests. By volunteering, you can help shape Portus, meet fellow fans before the symposium, and gain an insider's viewpoint to event planning.

Portus is actively seeking to fill the following positions. To apply, please send your resume and a cover letter to volunteers@portus2008.org with the position title in the subject line.

Aside from the aforementioned positions, there are many other ways to be involved! One can volunteer in such areas as security, Meet & Greet, public relations, programming, and much more.

To contribute your talents to Portus, please send an email to volunteers@portus2008.org for a volunteer questionnaire and more information.

To learn more about what's in store for prospective volunteers, and to keep up on the latest positions, visit our Volunteer page.

Banner Exchange

Have a website you’d like to promote? How about through Portus’ Banner Exchange? We’d love to swap banners and links with your website! Send us an email at bannerexchange@portus2008.org for more information.

Halloween Special Edition

Throwing a Halloween party? Here are some suggestions to Potterize your celebrations.

Pumpkin Juice Recipe (approx. 15-20 mugs)

  • 1/2 cup of regular iced tea mix powder
  • 1 cup of orange breakfast drink mix, i.e. Tang
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
  1. Measure all ingredients into a cocktail shaker (or clean jar).
  2. Stir or shake well.
  3. Mix 2-3 heaping teaspoons into 1 mug of hot water.
  4. Serve hot or chilled.

Cauldron Cakes Recipe (approx. 24 cakes)

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ginger
  • 24 thin licorice strings
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit).
  2. Mix eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Whip for 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually mix flour, baking powder, salt, and milk into the large mixing bowl.
  4. Put batter into greased muffin tins (be careful not to fill the tins to the top with batter. The cakes are meant to be somewhat flat.)
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool for several minutes. Then take the licorice strings, make an upside U and place into the tops of the cakes for handles.
  7. Decorate with sprinkles and frosting if desired. They also go well with honey.

Mad Libs

[Original excerpt from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Page 174, American Edition]

Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.

And then they heard it – a low grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gigantic feet. Ron pointed – at the end of a passage to the left, something huge was moving toward them. They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.

It was a horrible sight. Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was incredible. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so long.

The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.


  1. Remove twenty words of your choice from the above excerpt, and replace the removed words with numbered blanks (see example below.)
  2. Print the reworked excerpt and the list of word blanks (see example below.) Printing a few extras is a good idea.
  3. Cut along the dotted line and hide the excerpt from your guests (no cheating!)
  4. Hand out the list of 20 word blanks to your guests and have them fill out the blanks.
  5. When everyone is done, pass out the excerpt with blanks to your guests and have them fill in the blanks from their word lists.
  6. Read aloud the original excerpt.
  7. Have each guest read aloud his or her mad libs and let the laughter begin!

[Sample excerpt with blanks]

Harry sniffed and a _(1)__ stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old ___(2)_ and the kind of __(3)_ no one seems to clean.

And then they heard it – a __(4)__ grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gigantic __(5)_. Ron pointed – at the end of a passage to the left, something __(6)____ was moving toward them. They shrank into the shadows and ___(7)_____ as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.

It was a ___(8)____ sight. ___(9)____ feet tall, its skin was a ___(10)____, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a ____(11)___ with its small bald head perched on top like a ____(12)___. It had short legs thick as ___(13)___ with flat, __(14)_____ feet. The smell coming from it was ____(15)____. It was holding a huge wooden ___(16)___, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so ____(17)___.

The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It ___(18)___ its long __(19)____, making up its tiny mind, then ____(20)____ slowly into the room.

[Sample Word blanks]

  1. adjective (i.e. beautiful) ____________
  2. plural noun (i.e. boxes) ____________
  3. plural noun (i.e. boxes) ____________
  4. adjective (i.e. beautiful) ____________
  5. singular noun (i.e. pencil) ___________
  6. adjective (i.e. beautiful) _____________
  7. past verb (i.e. talked) _____________
  8. adjective (i.e. beautiful) _____________
  9. number (i.e. three) _____________
  10. adjective (i.e. beautiful) ____________
  11. singular noun (i.e. pencil) ___________
  12. singular noun (i.e. pencil) ___________
  13. plural noun (i.e. boxes) ____________
  14. adjective (i.e. beautiful) ____________
  15. adjective (i.e. beautiful) ____________
  16. singular noun (i.e. pencil) ___________
  17. adjective (i.e. beautiful) _____________
  18. past verb (i.e. talked) _____________
  19. plural noun (i.e. boxes) _____________
  20. past verb (i.e. talked) _____________

Quick Costume Solution

Is Madame Malkin's on back order? Never fear! Here’s a quick solution to creating a couple of homemade costumes.

Hogwarts Student Costume

What you’ll need:

  • Black pants
  • A white shirt (preferably a button-up, collared shirt)
  • A black robe (a black bathrobe will work – just take out the belt. A cape will work too – you can find pre-made ones at costume stores or make your own with black fabric and a black string)
  • A tie you don’t mind fussing up
  • A lightning scar (temporary tattoo, face-paint, mascara, lipstick, etc.)
  • Black shoes (preferably dress shoes, but sneakers will work too)
  • House color acrylic paint (red and gold, silver and green, yellow and black, or blue and bronze)
  • Paint brush (fingers can work too!)
  • A wand (any backyard branch will do)
  • Glasses (you can use your own, find some at a costume shop, or make your own with cardboard/posterboard and a little tape)

For the tie, you can paint diagonal, horizontal stripes alternating the colors. You might want to do this first so it has a chance to dry before you put it on.

Then just assemble the rest of the costume and you’ll fit in like a wizard pro!

House Elf Costume

What you’ll need:

  • A potato sack (This can be found at a local grocery store. Call ahead to see if they have any available and if they have a big enough size)
  • Elf ears (These can be found at a costume shop)
  • Spirit gum & spirit gum remover (This can also be found at a costume shop)

Cut three holes in the potato sack – one for you head, and two for your arms.

To attach the ears, use spirit gum - a prosthetics adhesive. After the evening’s festivities, use spirit gum remover to detach the ears. Your local costume store should have specific instructions for proper application and removal. (Be sure to check ingredients for potential allergy information)

Volunteer Spotlight

Ailene Everts

Ailene, most commonly referred to as Blue, was pestered into reading Harry Potter by her sister and finally caved in just before the release of Order of the Phoenix. It took her only ten days to read all four books as she waited patiently for the release of the fifth book. Soon after, she discovered the fandom (the Happiest Place on Earth, no matter what Disney bills their theme parks) and Lumos 2006. Having just missed The Witching Hour, she was determined to go to Las Vegas and immerse herself in all things Potter. After volunteering for the Meet and Greet team, Blue was hooked. As Prophecy approached, she made sure that she was as involved as possible, volunteering for Meet and Greet, Security, Registration, and The Decade of Enchantment Ball. In the Muggle world, Blue can be found crawling her way through her undergrad work and working full time for the San Diego Unified School District as a mail clerk.

Blue is one of our hardest working volunteers and we feel quite fortunate to have her. Her dedication and enthusiasm for the symposiums is epitomized through her hard work in both pre-site and on-site planning. We first met Blue at Lumos 2006 in Las Vegas. Seated behind the Meet & Greet table for hours on end, her zeal became quite apparent to us. After Lumos, she continued her commitment to the symposiums with Prophecy 2007 where she was Meet & Greet’s Orientation Coordinator on top of volunteering for many other positions. As a securor, Blue was a huge asset and always willing to take on any undertaking that arose. We are very privileged to have her on the Portus team as our Assistant Chair to Decorations.

If you have questions or comments concerning the Call for Proposals, programming, etc., please contact us at info@portus2008.org.

If you have any questions or comments about The Portal or the Portus Previews, please feel free to contact us at portal@portus2008.org.

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