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May 17, 2017

The World of Fan Fiction: Harry Potter Lives Again

The World of Fan Fiction: Harry Potter Lives Again

When I finally realized that J. K. Rowling probably wouldn’t be writing any more Harry Potter books, it took me awhile to learn that Harry Potter would live again. An introduction to the ever growing opened up new worlds, among them 526,085 entries in the Harry Potter section alone with many of them full-length novels. Fan fiction predates the Internet, but the Web makes it easier to generate hundreds of millions of words based on books, movies, TV shows, video games, plays, musicals, rock bands and board games.

Fan fiction teems with prequels and sequels, missing storylines and questionable plot lines. Imagine a full length story of the evolving and emotionally charged friendship between Harry and Draco Malfoy during their seventh year at Hogwarts, including a new perspective on life as a Slytherin. Read it in “Underwater Light” by Maya. What about a novel from the point of view of Lilly Potter in a story set when she and James were in school?  Emmyjean’s “Crossroads” follows their romance and gives a detailed account of their courtship. Delicate” is an appealing adult-themed story about Ron and Hermione’s daughter Rose Weasley, who hooks up with Scorpius Malfoy and has to grow up quickly to deal with the consequences. All of these stories are from the world of Fan Fiction.

Fan Fiction is a world unto itself, with its own rules, genres and conventions. It’s huge and ever evolving and constantly the subject of heated internal debate. Cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up have become mainstream modes of cultural expression and fan fiction is a part of that. It challenges everything we thought we knew about art and creativity. Nobody makes money from fan fiction, but everyone has their own opinion about whether loses money from it. Authors are deeply divided on other’s “borrowing” from their work. J. K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer have given Harry Potter and Twilight fan fiction their blessings.  Other writers for example Oscar Scott Card author of the classic Ender’s Game books consider it a violation of their copyrights, and feel that their characters have been kidnapped by strangers. “I will sue, because if I don’t protect my copyright, I will lose that copyright...So fan fiction, while flattering, it is also an attack on my means of livelihood. Do the characters belong to the person who created them? Is art about making up new things or about transforming what’s out there? You can see both sides of the issue and the legal arguments abound.

The fan fiction scene is hyper-diverse. You’ll find every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, age and sexual orientation represented there, both as writers and characters. There is, of course, a ton of sex in fan fiction. There are stories that take every character you can name and pair them up romantically, erotically, or pornographically. The market carries dark alleys to pursue, i.e. a genre called Mpreg, which is about male characters getting pregnant or "dubcon” (stories about “dubious consent”). Archive of Our Own website for example offers warnings such as “graphic depiction of violence”, “major character death”, “rape/nonconsent”, or “underage”.

What if instead of trying to kill baby Harry, Voldemort adopted him, raised him as Harry Marvolo and conquered the entire British Isle? What if on his first day at Hogwarts Harry had been sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor? What if Harry were black or a vampire or a werewolf?  What might have happened if someone turned right instead of left? Welcome to the Alternate Universe in fan fiction.

Note: Consider this post as an item of interest to our readers. It's origins are lost in my notes, but I thought it might interest our followers and should not be discarded. Thank you for your continued support.

Nov 17, 2016

Black Lives Matter Founders Honored By Glamour

Every year, Glamour awards a diverse group of innovators across business, politics, entertainment and fashion and more for their Women of the Year list. This year, the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement — Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors — will be honored for their tireless activism, highlighting the issue of police brutality in America.

After George Zimmeran was found not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013, Garza shared a status on Facebook to express her feelings about the verdict, writing: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” After Patrisse Cullors shared Garza’s post, adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, Tometi reached out to them to create a digital platform to keep the conversation and the movement going.

Today, “Black Lives Matter” has become a rallying cry against police brutality and other realities of systemic racism in America. Beyond a hashtag, the movement has sparked demonstrations and other activist events all over the country.

“We gave tongue to something that we all knew was happening,” Tometi told Glamour of the three activists’ work.

“We were courageous enough to call it what it was. But more than that, to offer an alternative. An aspirational message: Black lives matter.”

Other black women honored on the list are Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and actress Zendaya.

The entire group of honorees, which also includes Miuccia Prada and model Ashley Graham, were honored at a special awards ceremony in Los Angeles on November 14.

Sources: The Grio and the Huffington Post

Sit to Stand Up: Continung the Struggle

Taking  A Stand: The Struggle Continues

What happens when a NFL quarterback worth $10 million dollars takes a stand? Everyone has an opinion about Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit during the playing of the National Anthem. For me it's simple. I admire Kaepernick' courage and support his right to exercise his First Amendment Rights. I'm sure it was not an easy decision considering everything he has to lose. Think about the "punishments" metered out to John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their win at the 1968 Olympic Games. What about the sacrifice of Muhammed Ali, banned from boxing in his prime and the support he received from prominent Black athletes. It's easy to take a stand when you have nothing to lose.

Personally, I remember as a youngster my feelings about the National Anthem. It was "their" song, not mine. I knew it did not apply to me. Yes, I stood and sang it, respectfully. But my heart was sad and I felt my exclusion even then. Today, when I hear the anthem, I am militant and feel that, whether others like it or not, it's my flag and my country too. I'm emboldened to continue my fight to do all that I can to make Dr. King's vision of brotherhood in this country a reality.

There's so much written about Kaepernick's "sit to stand up", so I won't labor the issue. I pray that as he kneels in protest God gives him strength and guidance and that the penalty he will pay doesn't break his commitment. His decision not to vote for any of the presidential candidates caused another up roar.  But, each of us has to determine how we will contribute to our collective progress. I leave this Langston Hughes' poem for you to ponder as the struggle continues.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen",

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed-

I, too, am America.

Feb 12, 2016

Boyz N The Hood Trivia Challenge

Feb 4, 2016

Tale of Two Cities: How Officials Respond to "threatening" Situations

I read two interesting articles, back to back, as I browsed the Internet this morning. When I finished reading them, I immediately thought of “The Tale of Two Cities”, by Charles Dickens.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, go back and refer to the Cliff notes, as we all did in studying for a class. Charles Dickens begins “The Tale of Two Cities” by developing the central theme of duality. His pairings of contrasting concepts such as the "best" and "worst" of  times, "Light" and "Darkness, "and "hope" and "despair" reflect the mirror images of good and evil that will recur in characters and situations throughout the novel. The year is 1775, and life in England and France seems paradoxically the best and the worst that it can be. The rulers and ruling classes of both countries may have the best of life, but they are out of touch with the common people and believe that the status quo will continue forever. Of course as you read on, you’ll see drastic changes that most of the people never expected.

I began my reading journey this morning with an article that focused on the January 2, 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal property in Burns, Oregon by a group of self-styled armed militants. The group, led by three brothers from the Clive Bundy family of Nevada, is protesting the arrest of a father and son pair of Oregon ranchers scheduled to begin 5 year prison sentences. Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Hammond, 46, were convicted of arson three years ago for fires they started on federal property. Both men served time  — the father three months, the son one year. The pair said they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires. A judge ordered them to return to prison Monday to serve an additional four years because the time already served did not meet minimum-sentencing laws. The pair reported to prison peacefully, but said they will seek clemency from President Obama.

The occupation of the wildlife refuge reflects a decades-old dispute over land rights in the United States, where local communities have increasingly sought to take back federal land. In phone interviews from inside the occupied building on the night of the takeover, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if police tried to remove them, they said.
On January 26, after the standoff had lasted more than three weeks, the FBI and Oregon State Police arrested eight, including leader Ammon Bundy, and killed one member of the self-styled, armed militia who staged a takeover. Three more militia members were arrested later in the day after turning themselves in. As of February 4, four people remain at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. the occupiers said they were in contact with the FBI. The occupiers said they were in contact with the FBI and want pardons for all who were involved in the standoff.

After reading about the militia standoff in Oregon, I flipped my page to information about the MOVE group in Philadelphia in 1985, thirty years ago. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based, self-proclaimed black liberation group founded by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart) in 1972. The group lived communally and frequently engaged in public demonstrations against racism, police brutality, and other issues.

The MOVE group was particularly known for two major conflicts with the Philadelphia Police. In 1978, a standoff resulted in the death of one police officer, injuries to several other people and life sentences for 9 members. In 1985, another standoff was ended when the police deliberately dropped a bomb on their compound, which was a row home in the middle of a city street; Osage Ave. This resulted in the deaths of 11 MOVE members, including the leader John Africa and 5 children, the destruction of 65 houses and widespread news coverage.

The handling of this situation in Oregon in 2016 may be the best of times and the 1985 slaughter of the MOVE group in Philadelphia was certainly the worst of times. I’m sure the scholars can explain in detail why the participants were treated so differently.  The final solution took place in Philadelphia with the MOVE group in 1985. We’ll just wait for a final resolution to the standoff in Oregon.

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Why So Many People Never Heard of the MOVE Bombing


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