Anne Rice, ‘Interview with the Vampire’ author, dies at 80

by Variety

Anne Rice, influential author of “Interview with the Vampire,” died on Saturday due to complications resulting from a stroke. She was 80.

The author’s son Christopher revealed the news on Facebook and said that she would be interred in the family mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans in a private ceremony.

Born in New Orleans in 1941, Rice became renowned the world over as a writer of gothic fiction, with her books selling more than 150 million copies globally. In the early 1970s, while grieving the death of her daughter Michelle, she began converting one of her stories into what became her first novel, the gothic horror “Interview with the Vampire,” which was published by Knopf in 1976.

The novel turns on vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac, who tells the story of his life to a reporter. Michelle served as an inspiration for the child vampire Claudia.

The book was the first of 10 in what is collectively known as “The Vampire Chronicles.” It was adapted by Neil Jordan as a 1994 film starring Tom Cruise, Brad PittAntonio Banderas and Christian Slater, with Kirsten Dunst playing Claudia. Rice adapted the screenplay from her novel and the film gathered two Oscar nominations and a brace of BAFTA wins.

“Queen of the Damned,” based on one of the bestselling sequels to “Interview with the Vampire,” was adapted as a film in 2002. Other adaptations of Rice’s novels include Garry Marshall’s “Exit to Eden” (1994), starring Dana Delany, Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell and Emmy-winning Showtime original “The Feast of All Saints” (2001).

Earlier this month, AMC ordered a series based on Rice’s “Lives of the Mayfair Witches.” As revealed by Variety, AMC had acquired rights to “Lives of the Mayfair Witches” and “The Vampire Chronicles” last year, and casting was recently finalized on the latter.

There is no good way to introduce ‘Harry Potter’ to the next generation

“Harry Potter” can’t be the same magical series it once was. Warner Bros.; Marianne Ayala/Insider

by Pam Segall, Insider

“Harry Potter” needs no introduction. It was a once-in-a-generation phenomenon.

As the millennial Potterheads grew up, the books provided an idealist escape to the less complicated world of childhood. The Wizarding World became a safe place where magic was real and bravery, brains, and friendship always won.

For early and late adopters alike, it seemed like a given that such a treasured series would be passed lovingly along to the next generation. But as often happens as we age, the real world began to seep in.

J.K. Rowling’s transphobic viewpoints left many Potter fans disenchanted

In 2020, in a now-infamous series of tweets and a subsequent essay, the controversial “Harry Potter” author issued a spate of contentious statements about biological sex and gender. Rowling’s opinions led many to label her a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

A TERF is generally characterized as a person who says they’re a feminist while espousing trans-exclusionary views. Common examples include saying that trans women aren’t women, barring trans women from women’s spaces, and conflating sex with gender.

These comments weren’t her first foray into transphobia. In addition to liking a couple of offensive tweets in 2018, she also tweeted in 2019 in support of a British woman who was fired over making transphobic comments.

Then, amid the backlash of her 2020 tweets and essay, the author published a poorly received book under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, that follows a male serial killer who lures his victims by dressing as a woman.

Her actions disenchanted scores of fans, who have struggled to figure out what to do with their love for the series given the controversy around its creator.

As Rowling’s personal beliefs became harder to ignore so, too, did the biases embedded in her books

Many fans take issue with Cho Chang’s name. Warner Bros.

As fans reexamine the books and amplify long-quieted critiques in the wake of this backlash, it’s become increasingly clear that Rowling’s personal views and biases made their way into the subtext of the series.

Like so much of the media of yesteryear, the books are rightfully subjected to critiques and criticisms. Everything from the naming of Cho Chang, to the injustice that was the Patil twins’ Yule Ball look, to the absence of prominent Black and queer characters dulls the series’ luster.

Rowling’s attempts to revise history by sharing postcanonical details about characters and the Wizarding World at large – such as Dumbledore being gay and a minor, unknown character being Jewish – did little to quell these claims.

In a series that spans thousands of pages and often provides minute details, the thought that Rowling couldn’t spare a few words to mention a character’s race or sexuality already seems preposterous. But to imply that these facts were always present and that fans merely missed or failed to imagine them feels mildly insulting.

Rowling, like any person, is only human. Although some of the series’ flaws exist as overt bigotry, other coded messages may have been the result of unconscious biases or internalized stereotypes.

But intentional or not, the implications of these problematic portrayals left a stain on the series that even the most ardent Potterphiles can no longer ignore.

With each offensive comment Rowling shares, the Wizarding World becomes less of an escape.

Some fans who were raised on ‘Harry Potter’ faced an existential reckoning, and the path forward isn’t clear

Suddenly, fans were reckoning with the literary equivalent of having a racist uncle: What do you do when someone or something problematic is unwittingly and inextricably entwined with your world?

It’s difficult to truly separate art from the artist when the artist’s views color her world in so many fundamental ways.

Some fans treasure their existing copies of the beloved series while refusing to purchase anything new to support Rowling financially. For others, the books lie obscured and discarded, awaiting a fate yet to be determined.

As the original generation of fans has children, some may choose to omit the books entirely, opting for more inclusive family reading. Others may still introduce the series but ensure that it’s accompanied by disclaimers and caveats.

This intrusion of real life means the series can’t be a safe haven for the next generation. When we introduce the real world to the Wizarding World, we inherently drain some of its magic.

‘Harry Potter’ can never be what it once was for the next generation of readers

As we look for ways to carry the best of the books into the future, we’ll have to leave some of their splendor in the past – like a literary “you had to be there” moment.

We don’t have a Time-Turner to rectify these wrongs, so we’ll look upon “Harry Potter” with the kind of melancholy nostalgia that accompanies the lost days of childhood – a yearning for a time when the series was unburdened and uncomplicated.

As we look to the future, the best we can hope is that these conversations inspire the next generation to foster fully inclusive magic and create a more perfect version of this fantasy world.

Rowling and her representatives have declined to comment.

A Slave’s Dream

For my ancestors and their struggle to be free

newsnatlp4n2colReprationsExperts_t750x550

Running through brush,
free as the Wind,
An heir of royal heritage
– captured, chained, dragged, beaten,
separated from African shores,
bound for distant lands.

slave_ship_cargo

Tied in bondage,
deep below the ship’s deck,
pondering escape
– rebellion!

10c1de7d7aa5fe43e2b302286230e976

The struggle for freedom,
from the chains, and the whip,
diving overboard to be free
– food for the sharks!

Slave-Auction

White shore arrival,
chained, washed, dragged,
to the auction block
– let the bidding begin!
Generations torn apart.                              \

1790

Plantation days, invasive nights,
slaves on the run
from horseback hot pursuit,
dogs barking; feet bitten,
the lash of the whip
– a return to bondage!

83311563_2964403890316431_3256974816971849728_n

Cold nights, hot days,
but always pondering,
on the future of the children
– a slave’s dream to be free.

Copyright ©2007 – Present L.W. Barker

Total Failure

h1-four-minneapolis-cops-fired-after-shocking-video-shows-killing-george-floyd
by L.W. Barker
I waited a few days to write this…
 
What Derek Chauvin did…having George Floyd lie face-down with his hands cuffed behind his back with Chauvin’s knee applying pressure on Floyd’s neck is beyond evil. And you can see it in his face…cold, and without compassion for a fellow human being.
 
So cause and effect…
 
Floyd being prone on his stomach, couldn’t fully breathe and was only able to draw enough breath to gasp or speak in spurts as his body lost oxygen and fell unconscious. And the placing of a knee on his neck made things worse as it caused fatal damage to that area.
 
Chauvin knew this, and even amid pleas from bystanders, (and his victim) to “stop”, he continued to apply pressure to the man’s neck for upwards of 9 minutes.
 
No police department condones such a maneuver which makes Chauvin’s use of it on a restrained George Floyd even more damning.
 
A bit of history…
 
While working with the USAF Security Forces, I learned to never keep restrained individuals in this type of prone position for long. So to ensure their safety, I would keep them in that position just long enough to apply restraint. I would then take them out of it by rolling them onto their side, sitting them up or having them stand.
 
The bottom line…
 
Derek Chauvin failed to uphold the sworn oath of his badge “to serve and protect”. And that, for a police officer, is a failure on all levels.
 
#RIPGeorgeFloyd #JusticeWillBeServed

Black Panther IS Black Culture

Black-Panther-royals-e1499871154914

by L.W. Barker

February 16, 2018, dubbed ‘the blackest night in America’ by the black community was the opening night of Marvel Studios’ newest superhero film, Black Panther. And black audiences showed up en masse (some over a dozen family/friends strong) to support the film and embrace the mythos of Black Panther.

A brief history…Wakanda is a place untouched by slavery, but blessed with Vibranium, a rare and virtually indestructible metal derived from an ancient meteor that hit the area long ago. Thus, Black Panther’s costume and Wakanda are technologically-advanced products of Vibranium.

8k-black-panther-wakanda-kingdom-2018-movie-1228

Now, seeing Wakanda onscreen, a black centric mythical kingdom of doctors, scientists, inventors, etc., you have to wonder, what we as a people would have been like minus the forced separation and bondage of slavery. It is a symbol of who we were as a people in Africa, who we could have been as a culture, and most importantly, it also shows the wonders that could be accomplished if we all came together once and for all as a people.

A bit more history…the Dora Milaje are a pool of highly-skilled special forces like women who are recruited from every tribe in Wakanda. The Dora Milaje is also an ancient tribal tradition in which maidens were assembled as potential queens for an unmarried king. However, the daughters of Wakanda, Nakia and Okoye, became the first Dora Milaje to serve under T’Challa, and were viewed by the king as sisters, instead of wives-in-training.

Black_Panther_(film)_121

The strong willingness and overall strength of the Dora Milaje represents the daily toll and labor that every black woman goes through in our society. And their natural beauty reminds us that black is beautiful, and society’s negative views on the matter have always been null and void. Today’s black women are also natural protectors who will go all-out, no matter the cost to keep their loved ones safe, much like the Dora Milaje’s selfless protection of Black Panther.

400581-full-size-black-panther-wallpaper-1920x1080

Which brings us to King T’Challa, who is also a brilliant scientist and inventor, and a descendent of a warrior-class of ancient fighters. He is very proficient in both armed and unarmed combat, and also highly-skilled with just about every weapon known to man.

And so its T’Challa, the Black Panther, the hero and protector of Wakanda, whom we black men see in ourselves. For like T’Challa, who does whatever it takes to protect his people, we have scraped and hustled in the bowels of society for generations to protect and provide for our families. With many of us paying the ultimate price, much like the generations of Black Panthers before the time of  T’Challa.

T’Challa and his fictionalized kingdom are symbols of all that is good about black culture. Black Panther IS black culture, and Wakanda and its people are us…past, present, and future.

Black Panther releases on DVD and Blu-ray on May 15, 2018, and is available on Digital HD from Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes on May 8, 2018.

Visit Barker’s Books on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barkersbooks/

Break up – Surviving a failed relationship

51-sad-breakup-quotes-that-make-you-cry-1024x682

by L.W. Barker

Break ups and failed relationships are a part of life. They are as common as living and dying. They take place daily, and so you must be prepared for them when they occur in your life.  A few years ago I broke up with a girlfriend of a few months. My days and nights were ones of torment and bad memories. It is very easy to fall in love, but even easier to fall out of love. And when the latter happens, life can feel like a living hell.  But all is not lost for there are things that you can do to get through this most difficult of times.

In the months following my break up, I was lost to the fact that there is more to life than this girl. I would come home after work, not bothering to turn on my lights, and lay there on the bed listening to sad love songs. I noticed that I only felt this way after work though, and so I got more involved with work. I stayed late for most of the time I had to work, just to keep my mind off of what could have been. I also needed time to devise a similar plan as to what to do when I went home.

However, one night it dawned that I had to go out and have fun to forget about my failed relationship. And so, I went cruising through the town that night and eventually ended up at the local movie theater where I decided to see a new film. This routine enabled me to focus on the present instead of dwelling in limbo on the past. It also gave me the key to open the door to a new and improved relationship which I eventually found.

Breaking up is hard to do, but with the right mindset, the pain of it can be overcome. By keeping yourself occupied, whether by work and or play, you too will be able to emerge from the darkness and pain of a failed relationship.

Visit Barker’s Books on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barkersbooks/