Currently Browsing: Pottercast
Dec 2, 2013
The Harry Potter Alliance is a nonprofit coalition whose work so far has included creating a YouTube video titled ‘The Hunger Games Are Real’ which aims to raise awareness of poverty and hunger in the US.
Thought “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” were just fun and games?
Today the series’ famously cult-like fans are using these popular fiction books as a means to affect social change.
The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of fans who use “the power of story to inspire and affect social change,” is launching a campaign inspired by Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy to fight social injustice in the US.
The nonprofit Alliance has created a “The Hunger Games are Real” YouTube video and a social media campaign called “The Odds Are in Our Favor” which shares statistics about poverty, hunger, and income inequality in the US with fans.
In an LA Times op-ed, Harry Potter Alliance executive director Andrew Slack writes, “If the books are supposed to function as a cautionary tale against the real class divide in the U.S., we need not look far for evidence. The future of Panem is upon us: More than 20 million Americans can’t find full-time jobs, 22% of children live in poverty and middle-class wages have been largely stagnant since 1974. Meanwhile, corporate profits are at an all-time high.
“If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the same can be said of systemic economic inequality. The pull of the American dream is still so strong that many believe the only reasonable explanation for poverty is that it’s poor people’s fault.”
The “Hunger Games are Real” campaign is using excitement behind “The Hunger Games,” a story about inequality, to attract interest. “The Hunger Games” is a story about economic inequality, Slack argues, in which the fictitious country of Panem is actually the United States some decades in the future, where a fraction of people control almost all of the wealth and starvation is a daily experience.
According to the UK’s Guardian, actor Donald Sutherland, who plays President Coriolanus Snow, the archvillain of the Hunger Games series in the latest film, said in a Guardian interview that “I hope that they [young people] will take action because it’s getting drastic in this country.”
The campaign hopes to spread its message through its YouTube video, social media, and a three-fingered salute used in the “Hunger Games” as a symbol of solidarity against corruption and inequality.
In the Times op-ed, Slack writes, “Perhaps Lionsgate will embrace the simple but radical message of its blockbuster films: No one should have to go hungry in a nation of plenty. After all, fantasy is not an escape from our world but an invitation to go deeper into it. And we will keep going deeper until the odds are in everyone’s favor.”
Using popular fiction to inspire social change – what do you think of this trend?
Originally posted at Christian Science Monitor
Sep 10, 2013
HARRY Potter fans are flocking to an Edinburgh grave – because they believe it is the last resting place of evil wizard Lord Voldermort.
Harry Potter fans have been visiting a grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard and leaving dozens of tributes. The 19th-century grave belongs to Thomas Riddell, who died in 1806 aged 72.
Fans believe it is the inspiration behind the name of Voldemort from the JK Rowling books, whose real name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. The author was said to have taken much inspiration for names in the novel from graves and texts around the city of Edinburgh.
Riddell died in 1806 aged 72, but his name is believed to have inspired Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who picked up identities for a string of characters from Edinburgh’s streets, landmarks and graveyards. Voldemort – played by Ralph Fiennes in the Harry Potter series – was born Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Thomas Riddle’s grave in Edinburgh has become a shrine for Harry Potter fans
The grave bearing his name is now a magnet for follwers of the Potter books and films, with dozens leaving notes next to the headstone. But Edinburgh University students, Richard Duffy and Will Naameh, who run The Potter Trail through city spots connected to the texts, say people may be getting in a “muggle” between fact and fiction.
Will, 21, said: “This recent trend to leave notes and such has been building up over the past month.
The fact and the fiction have become a little blurred – on the tour we do state that ‘This is Voldemort’s grave’ but most people understand he is just an inspiration.”
Thomas Riddle’s grave states that he was from Befsborough in Berwick and died in Edinburgh on 24 November 1806, aged 72. It also commemorates his son, also Thomas, who was Captain of the 14th Regiment and died at Trinidad in the West Indies on 12 September 1802, aged just 26; and his daughters Christian and Maira Jane who died aged 31 and 47.
J K Rowling has previously said that the tombstone of Thomas Riddell Esquire in the famous Kirkyard may have subconsciously been the inspiration for Voldemort’s true name.
The nearby gravestone of poet William ‘Topaz’ McGonagall is also said to have offered inspiration for the name of Professor McGonagall, the head of Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry.
One note on the grave says: “RIP Tom, thank you for making us all believe in magic. You are an inspiration.”
But another sneers: “Dear idiots, you know there’s a difference between fiction and reality, right?”
Jul 19, 2013
A London lawyer has admitted inadvertently outing J K Rowling as a crime author, after confiding her secret identity to his wife’s best friend.
Chris Gossage, who works for law firm Russells, insisted the “leak” was not “part of any marketing plan” as J K Rowling issued a statement saying she was “disappointed” and “very angry”.
The author, best known for her Harry Potter series, was this week unmasked as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, writing behind the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
The revelation has been the subject of global speculation this week, with some noting the book had received positive reviews but mediocre sales of just 1,500 copies.
After it was identified as being written by J K Rowling, sales rocketed as publishers commissioned another 300,000 copies to keep up with demand.
Russells yesterday apologised “unreservedly” for the disclosure, which occurred after partner Chris Gossage shared the information with his wife’s best friend Judith Callegari during a private conversation. A Twitter user under the name @judecallegari later appears to have sent a public message to a Sunday Times journalist.
Rowling has now issued a statement saying she was “very angry” that her trust was “misplaced”.
“A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know,” she said.
“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”
A spokesman for Russells added: “”Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling’s agent.
“We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.”
A spokesman confirmed that Gossage was still a partner but declined to comment on Rowling’s relationship with the firm.
Rowling, 47, has previously said it had been “wonderful” to publish without hype or expectation, after posing as a retired military policeman to write her debut crime novel.
The Cuckoo’s Calling remained at the top of Amazon.co.uk’s bestselling list on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day.
The novel had only sold 1,500 hardback copies since being published in April but on Monday raced to the top of bestseller list, leaving high street and online book merchants unable to meet demand.
Publisher Little, Brown, which last year published Rowling’s first adult novel The Casual Vacancy, said it was immediately reprinting The Cuckoo’s Calling - about war veteran turned private eye Cormoran Strike investigating the death of a model.
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Jul 18, 2013
JK Rowling’s secret was uncovered after a Sunday newspaper became suspicious
Prof Peter Millican of Hertford College, University of Oxford, helped unmask JK Rowling as debut crime writer Robert Galbraith.
An expert in computer linguistics, the professor developed software to analyse and compare texts.
He analysed The Cuckoo’s Calling against Rowling’s other novels, The Casual Vacancy and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
“I was given some text by The Sunday Times – I had two known texts by JK Rowling, two by Ruth Rendell, two by PD James and two by Val McDermid.
“What I did was clean up the texts, put them into my software and do a battery of tests to see what similarities there were.
Professor Millican compared word length and punctuation patterns in a series of tests
“I was testing things like word length, sentence length, paragraph length, frequency of particular words and the pattern of punctuation,” he explained.
“What was striking about the tests was how often The Cuckoo’s Calling came closest to the texts by JK Rowling and it was closer to those than to any other crime novels.
“In the vast majority of these tests I found that the new book came closer to A Casual Vacancy and/or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than it came to the other six books by the other three authors.
“The analysis corroborated quite strongly the hypothesis that had been put to me that she had written [The Cuckoo's Calling].
“Given that there was some independent evidence – apparently – that it was written by a woman, I was comparing it with texts by three other women and certainly, of those four, I had no doubt that JK Rowling was far and away the most likely (author).
“The great virtue of the tests that I was using is that they were based on very generic qualities of the texts, like length of sentences or frequencies of very common words like ‘the’ or ‘to’, or ‘in’, not very distinctive words, and those sorts of patterns tend to be absolutely unconscious to the author and often quite consistent between their texts.
“The conclusion was that on a lot of these tests – surprisingly many – The Cuckoo’s Calling came out much closer to the JK Rowling text than to the others.
“Normally with these tests I would try to test novels against each other from the same genre and I found it quite significant that in this case, we had a crime novel which proved to be more similar to JK Rowling’s non-crime novels than it was to other authors’ crime novels, and I think that does give great significance to the tests.”
- via BBC News
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Jul 15, 2013
Hold your hippogriffs!
Best-selling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is the secret scribe behind “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” a brilliant new detective novel penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
The publisher’s Web site claimed Galbraith was the alias of a former Royal Military Police investigator. But literary sleuths were on to Rowling.
Three months after the book’s debut, Rowling came clean to The Sunday Times of London.
“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being ‘Robert Galbraith’ has been such a liberating experience,” Rowling told the paper. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” follows Cormoran Strike, a war veteran-turned-private eye who investigates the supposed suicide of a model.
Rowling has mentioned her love of detective books in the past. Still, bookworms had other clues.
Rowling and Galbraith had the same agent, and Galbraith was the only client who had a silhouette instead of a photograph on the agency’s Web site.
Without the baggage of “Potter,” “The Cuckoo’s Calling” enjoyed strong sales and good reviews.
The Times noted that another successful crime writer, Peter James, said, “I thought it was by a very mature writer, and not a first-timer.”
Some online comments noted how good the “male” author was at describing women’s clothes and people’s looks.
Two independent computer linguistic experts, Peter Millican from Oxford University and Patrick Juola from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, were commissioned to run the last Harry Potter novel and another Rowling novel,” A Casual Vacancy,” against “The Cuckoo’s Calling” and two other detective novels through their specialist programs.
Neither knew Rowling and Galbraith were the same person, but both came back pointing to considerable similarities in phrases and styles. “It was striking that ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ came out significantly closer to ‘A Casual Vacancy’ and even ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ than the other books,” said Millican.
In broadcast interviews a few years ago with Stephen Fry and Jeremy Paxman, Rowling said she would much prefer to write any books after Harry Potter under a pseudonym.
The second Strike book, which it is understood has already been written, will be published next year — under the name of Robert Galbraith. But this time we will know who “he” is.
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