J.K. Rowling Tells Why She Left Zombies Out Of The Harry Potter Books

Sources: Cinemablend – Kelly West| All Things Michael

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J.K. Rowling continues to dole out Harry Potter treats to fans at Pottermore. Today’s festive surprise came along with an essay focusing on the creepy reanimated corpses that Voldemort enlisted to guard one of his Horcruxes. Included in her thoughts was an explanation for why zombies, specifically, were not used for this part of the story, and as it turns out, one of the reasons has to do with Michael Jackson. Apparently, Rowling’s associations with zombies are too closely tied to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which is partially why she created a different magical creature to serve the Dark Lord.

We’re about to get into Pottermore spoilers here, so if you’d rather answer today’s riddle and read the essay on your own, head on over to Pottermore (login required).

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Today’s riddle required people to name the zombie-like creatures with cloudy eyes, which surrounded the lake where Harry and Dumbledore were trying to escape.The latest Pottermore essay explains that Inferi are reanimated corpses, who can be enchanted and cursed to do their master’s bidding. When explaining the difference between Inferi and zombies, Rowling includes a number of reasons for why she decided against going with zombies, the last of which was:

I’m part of the “Thriller’ generation; to me, a zombie will always mean Michael Jackson in a bright red bomber jacket.

Well, that would’ve made for an amazing (and ok, ridiculous) twist. Imagine J.K. Rowling had used zombies instead of Inferi, and instead of creepy undead monster people attacking Harry and Dumbledore, they were treated to a zombie dance break…

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Yeah, somehow that probably wouldn’t have set the right tone.

If you remember Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince well enough, you’ll know that this scene happens near the end of the book, when the headmaster took Harry to help him search for the locket Horcrux. They were attacked by Inferi, which are not the same as zombies. As mentioned, the Michael Jackson association is just one reason why Rowling went with Inferi instead of zombies. Another is that, while zombies do exist in the Harry Potter universe, they’re not part of British folklore. Rowling was also trying to avoid any conflict with the Horcrux story:

While zombies of the Vodou tradition can be nothing more than reanimated corpses, a separate but related tradition has it that the sorcerer uses their souls, or part of their souls, to sustain himself. This conflicted with my Horcrux story, and I did not wish to suggest that Voldemort had any more use for his Inferi than as guards of his Horcrux.

Considering the connection a Horcrux has with the soul of the wizard who makes it, it’s understandable that Rowling would want to keep the line between Voldemort and his Inferi firmly drawn.

So, who were Voldemort’s Inferi? Rowling’s essay about the magical creatures states that the bodies used to protect the Horcrux were “mostly vagrant, homeless Muggles” murdered by Voldemort with the intent of turning them into Inferi. And a few were former witches and wizards who clearly got on his bad side and ended up “disappearing” without any explanation. RIP all those people.

Zombies aren’t the only magical creatures that J.K. Rowling has addressed in her recent Pottermore updates. She also discussed vampires in one of the new essays. And the riddles keep coming, with a few more on the way, as we’ve been promised a festive holiday treat every day leading up to December 23.

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The Charm Of “Come Together” And The Dangers Of “Toe-Jam Football”

Sources: AVClub.com – By Andrea Battleground | All Things Michael

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In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re highlighting our favorite drum tracks of all time.

The Beatles, “Come Together” (1969)

I struggled to come up with what I considered to be a “good pick” for this topic. Then I decided to get over myself and write about the very first song where I can remember taking note of the drum part. So here we both are: in a music piece where the writer dares suggest to a reader that maybe The Beatles are worth a listen.

“Come Together” will always hold a special place in my music-loving heart, because it’s the first Beatles song I fell in love with as a kid. Although I’ll cop to hearing the 1988 Michael Jackson cover first (I was really into Moonwalker), MJ’s version can’t hold a candle to the original, which I must have heard a year or two later on an oldies radio station. I think the secret ingredient may be Ringo Starr’s drumming on the track; something about it is just downright funky—especially those chunky, stuttering downbeats over the “Got to be a joker / He just do what he please” part.

Much has been made by Beatleologists about the quality and importance of Starr’s drumming in the Beatles’ discography and legacy. But as a 10-year-old kid, all I knew was that I thought this song was great; I became kind of fascinated with it and learned all the words. Not that I had any idea what to make of them, but I sang along all the same. I felt proud that I understood the irony that Old Flat Top had hair down to his knees, and I remember asking my mom what exactly “toe-jam football” was and whether it was contagious. (I didn’t think twice about someone having “ju-ju eyeballs,” though.)

I didn’t hear the entire Abbey Road record until I was a teenager, definitely a pivotal album purchase for my life, but to this day whenever I hear John Lennon’s opening “shoot (me)” followed by Starr’s muted drum fills, it’s a mood-booster that forces me start bobbing my head to that beat and making sounds that approximate those fills. It’s such a touchstone of a track for me, and hearing it reminds me of a time when it didn’t matter to me so much why a song was “good,” or whether I could make heads or tails of the lyrics. What mattered was how the song made me feel and whether it compelled me to dance around and learn all the parts. I also spent a considerable amount of time wondering if Old Flat Top was the type to show up and kill me in my sleep. Something about that dude just didn’t seem right.

Which version do you like better, Michael’s or the Beatles?  

 

 

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Hot Toys Little Groot From Guardians Of The Galaxy

Sources: Collection DX | All Things Michael

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“We are Groot.” Marvel Studios’ blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, has taken the world by storm earlier this year. Groot has become many fans’ favorite character and the special scene of Little Groot dancing to The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” has been one of the most memorable and cutest scenes from the movie!

Now Hot Toys is excited to present one of the cutest 1/4 scale collectible you’ll ever see – Little Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy! The movie-accurate Little Groot Collectible features 3 interchangeable head sculpts, special paint application to reflect his distinctive appearance, and movable arms and body to recreate Little Groot’s dancing scene.

Price and release date are to be announced.

 

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Watch Will.i.am’s Next-Level Interactive ‘The World Is Crazy’ Video

Sources: Rollingstone – By Nick Murray | All Things Michael

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In will.i.am’s latest music video, the rapper sits behind a news desk, mouthing the words to 2012 #willpower track “The World Is Crazy.” As he does this, footage of recent events like the killing of Eric Garner appear near his head while a standard ticker rolls across the bottom of the screen. These images are all hyperlinks, and clicking on any of them pauses the song to load an article within the frame of the video.

“I couldn’t really understand why people haven’t noticed that when you watch TV, the tickers on the bottom or the little square when the news reporter’s talking – you can never interact with them,” he says, calling from London after appearing at the BBC Awards.

For Will, the technology displayed in the video opens up countless new possibilities; he says that collaborating with a coder should be no different than composing with a guitarist. In the past, when people wrote songs they never knew that you can actually dive deeper,” he explains. “There was never a platform that allowed you to dive deeper on that train of thought. I can give you clever little wordplays that make my point stick, but to prove it I gotta give you detail and I gotta go in-depth. I gotta give you facts.”

The Black Eyed Peas frontman points to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” as retroactive examples: “I wish I could see exactly what Bob Marley was talking about. If he was to have these tools today, he would’ve shown you all the trials and tribulations that he was talking about in the songs.”

In this great future, new technology could also give the user control over the song itself. “You’d be able to click any type of icon and change it from the guitar to a Rhodes,” Will says. “You want options now. I’m pretty sure Bob Marley sang that with an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar. He probably sang it on a piano. He probably sang it with just the bass, but the only one that we have is one that we recorded because that’s the limitations of the technology of the past.”

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The Simpsons Turn 25 This Week (Top Five Celebrity Cameos)

Sources: South China Morning Post |Edited By – All Things Michael

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Whether as a TV show, cultural phenomenon or commercial juggernaut, it’s hard to overstate the importance of The Simpsons. The series, which marks 25 years since its first episode on December 17, has virtually defined comedy, satire and the Fox network that produces it during that time.

Take a moment to imagine a pop culture landscape without The Simpsonsand you’ll understand its impact. The show not only convinced America (and the world) that animation could be for adults, it could be commercially lucrative at primetime. This opened the door for the likes of Beavis & Butt-head, South Park, Family Guy and countless imitators – and also set the tone for a new kind of self-aware, hyper-referential form of satirical comedy that has influenced everything from The Office and Spaced to The Daily Showand The Colbert Report.

As Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane put it in an interview with Vanity Fair: ” The Simpsons created an audience for primetime animation that had not been there for many, many years … As far as I’m concerned, they basically re-invented the wheel. They created what is in many ways – you could classify it as – a wholly new medium.”

That medium was driven by an anarchic brand of comedy that encompassed satire, slapstick and often a touch of the surreal, and to which nothing was sacred – even itself. Ever keen on the meta-gag and unafraid to bite the hand that feeds it, The Simpsons has mercilessly mocked Fox on numerous occasions, as well as media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the network’s owner, who has gamely appeared as a guest star in two episodes.

Crucially, due to a clause in the contract negotiated by executive producer James L. Brooks, Fox can’t interfere with the show’s content.

The Simpsons also marked the dawn of a new age of shows that were as TV-literate as the audience that was coming of age, and it’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was. The genius of The Simpsons in those early days was the mischievous glee with which it subverted expectations and turned genre clichés on their head to comedic effect.

Powered by a razor-sharp writing team, including future Late Night host Conan O’Brien, The Simpsons often turned its spotlight on the absurdities and shortcomings of the medium and the sitcom format, skilfully vaulting those same limitations in the process.

Take the episode in season five where Bart – who originally became famous in the real world for catchphrases such as “Eat my shorts” and “Don’t have a cow man” – becomes famous in Springfield for saying “I didn’t do it!”, thus setting the scene for all manner of jokes at the show’s own expense. [..]

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Elsewhere, the show has spawned a hugely successful movie, a double-platinum album, a theme park ride and at least one university course, as well as countless video games, books, comics, fan sites and academic papers, walking the line between mainstream and subversive, kid-friendly and adult humour, and high and low culture all the way.

The show has also won 31 Primetime Emmy Awards, earned The Simpsonsa star on Hollywood Boulevard (as well as one for its creator, Matt Groening) and was named best television series of the 20th century by Time magazine in 1999. Time also named Bart Simpson one of the century’s 100 most influential people, while Homer’s catchphrase, “D’oh!” has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. To say it has come a long way from the crude sketches hastily scribbled by Groening on the way to a pitch meeting for The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987 is the mother of all understatements.

Even taking into account such influence and accolades, it is still astounding that The Simpsons has lasted quite so long – longer than any other American sitcom, animated programme or scripted show ever has.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO SPRINGFIELD? THE TOP FIVE SIMPSON CELEBRITY CAMEOS

Michael Jackson

The King of Pop made an uncredited appearance in the season-three opener, playing an overweight mental patient who thinks he is, well, Michael Jackson.

Thomas Pynchon

The notoriously reclusive and revered cult novelist guest-starred on The Simpsons twice in 2004 – with a bag over his head, naturally.

Johnny Cash

In season eight, The Man in Black appeared as the Space Coyote in one of the cartoon series’ weirdest and best episodes that sees Homer Simpson taking a psychedelic trip in the desert after eating a batch of Guatemalan insanity peppers.

Julian Assange

The show needed an extra-special guest star for its 500th episode in 2012, and it duly delivered in typically subversive style with a cameo from the WikiLeaks founder.

Stephen Hawking

The world’s most famous astrophysicist has appeared on the show four times, most memorably in a season 10 episode in which Lisa Simpson joins the high IQ society, Mensa. The episode ends with Moe asking who’s paying the tab at his bar, to which Homer replies (in Hawking’s computerised voice), “I am.” Hawking protests that “I didn’t say that” to which Homer (in the astrophysicist’s voice) replies, “Yes I did.”

Now that’s genius.

 

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Bulldozers Move In On The Historical Earls Court

Sources: The Independent – By Adam Sherwin| Edited By – All Things Michael

Michael Jackson performs in Earls Court at the World Music Awards in 2006

Michael Jackson performs in Earls Court at the World Music Awards in 2006

It has housed the world’s largest water chute, welcomed the Empire of India Exhibition and hosted the most disastrous concert of David Bowie’s career.

Now the bulldozers are set to move in on Earls Court as the famous exhibition centre is destroyed to make way for a controversial £8bn redevelopment which will replace the West London entertainment hub with luxury flats.

Tomorrow’s concert by indie band Bombay Bicycle Club will be the last time that the cavernous 42,000 square metre main hall will host a packed audience of rock fans.

Under the scheme backed by Mayor Boris Johnson, which local residents fear will tear the heart out of a bustling community, Earls Court will be transformed into a 77-acre “super village”, designed by architect Sir Terry Farrell, offering 7,500 new homes, offices and shops.

Penthouses with floor-to-ceiling glass and roof terraces are already being sold with prices beginning at £1.5m. A public library, a new high street and a park are also promised under the plans, which have roused a “Save Earls Court” petition.

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None of the new amenities promised will replace the Art Deco centre which, economically and culturally, defines the area, the Save Earls Court campaign argues.

“At a stroke, we will lose a unique facility that has hosted concerts from the Stones, Bowie, Madonna and Michael Jackson via George Michael and Pink Floyd to opera on an epic-scale and popular consumer shows such as The Ideal Home Show, The Royal Tournament and the Olympics,” the Earl’s Court Area Action Group said.

Originally opened in 1887 and rebuilt in 1937, Earls Court welcomes 1.5m visitors each year, who contribute £258m to the economy of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Whilst purpose-built halls such as the O2 Arena and the ExCeL Exhibition Centre have lured the music fans and car and boat enthusiasts who would once gather at Earls Court, the venue has a history of hosting weird and wonderful events which may never be repeated.

Entrepreneur John Robinson Whitley first introduced an amusement park to the wasteland between two train stations, staging Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and erecting a giant 300ft wheel in 1895, a precursor to the London Eye. The Great Wheel helped bring visitors to the accompanying Empire of India Exhibition.

The wheel was followed by the 70ft water chute constructed by Captain Paul Boyton, who flooded the arena in 1893. The ride was considered to be the biggest of its kind on either side of the Atlantic.

New owner J Calvin Brown’s plan to stage a reconstruction of the Derby two minutes after the race’s completion on a 100-yard mechanical horse track in 1911 sadly never came to fruition and had to be replaced by a herd of performing elephants.

With its Motor, Boat and Ideal Home exhibitions, Earls Court gave aspirant postwar consumers a design for future living.

The Daily Mail Boys’ and Girls’ exhibition, which opened in December 1962, feature a model of a Telstar satellite and aimed to satisfy its youthful audience’s interest in sports, technology, cars, pop music and fashion. Celebrities made appearances to view the largest model railway in the world.

Advances in amplification made Earls Court a natural venue for the new breed of 70s arena rock stars. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elton John and Queen played huge concerts but not every show went to plan.

David Bowie was forced to quit the stage during a 1973 Ziggy Stardust concert described as a “fiasco” by NME. Fans were trampled in a stampede to see the poorly-positioned stage and the sound was rotten throughout.

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A Pink Floyd concert in 1994 almost ended in tragedy when a temporary stand seating 1,200 people collapsed, injuring 90 people. A furious David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd leader, said fans could have been killed. Floyd and Bowie declined to pay tribute to Earls Court, which continued to attract artists including Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire.

The 17,000 square metre Earls Court Two, constructed in 1991 at a cost of £100m due to a need to increase space, marked the venue’s peak.

The Brit Awards, held there during the music industry’s peak years from 2000 to 2010, and producing some of longest toilet cubicle queues ever, upped sticks to the O2 Arena, signifying a shift to East London’s glitzy new venue.

A 1948 Olympic venue for boxing, gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling, the successful return of the games in 2012 for volleyball provided an Indian summer for Earls Court which was in the process of being parcelled up to developers Capital and Counties.

The company’s “masterplan” of “four urban villages and a high street” promises “1,500 affordable homes, improvements to streets and public realm and the creation of 27 acres of green space including garden squares and communal gardens”, creating 10,000 new jobs.

The mooted new community facilities include a leisure centre. Whether it will ever be immortalised in song, like Half Man Half Biscuit’s “Took problem Chimp to Ideal Home Show”, or match Earls Court’s storied history from Buffalo Bill to the Brits, is another matter.

 

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Director James Gunn Talks About Soundtrack For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ – Guess Which One Is His Fave?!

Source: Billboard – By Allison Powell | All Things Michael

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
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Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the soundtrack album for comic sci-fi action movieGuardians of the Galaxy, tripped a sonic time warp with the best record K-tel never made. Director James Gunn’s adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise set a danceable batch of sunny pop tracks from the ’60s and ’70s against a frightening alien world. The result was a grass-roots No. 1 hit that sold more than 700,000 copies. The 12 songs that Gunn, 44, chose himself became the feel-good summer mix that resonated with audiences of all ages, especially teenagers. Befitting the era its songs hail from, the soundtrack was a solid performer in vinyl sales, and on Black Friday Hollywood Records also released the compilation on cassette — the label’s first since 2002.

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James Gunn: The sweet spot for me was songs from the 1970s that weren’t necessarily the best-known. Picking music from the past for a movie about the future worked because the world of the movie is weird and could be off-putting, and the songs immediately bring the audience into something familiar. When “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone comes on, it tells people that they may not be seeing the movie they thought they were seeing. Our greatest victory was that Dave Jordan, the music supervisor, got me every song I wanted. My personal favorite on the soundtrack is “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. In fact, it may be my favorite pop song of all time. Every beat of it is amazing. The fact that Marvel let me put such personal songs in the movie was big, but of course, I had no idea that the soundtrack would be a hit. It’s a real testament to the fact that the movie spoke to the kids, and the songs helped them relive the movie.

 

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X Factor Final Song Choices Revealed, MJ Covers Revisited

Sources: Heatworld – By Rhiannon Evans | All Things Michael

The X Factor judges are blown away by Fleur East's performance on saturdays show.

Want to know what Fleur East, Ben Haenow and Andrea Faustini will be singing on Saturday night’s X Factor final? We can tell you.

We’re down at the X Factor Final press conference this afternoon and the contestants have been telling us what they pick as their ‘best performance’ to repeat on the show.

We also asked Fleur what the winners’ song was – she remained tight-lipped, but told us: “I think people will be really surprised by it – it’s a real surprise.” Oooooh.

It’s only a week after she’s done it, but it won’t surprise you to hear Fleur East will be performing Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.

It went a bit like this…

Meanwhile, Ben Haenow will be pulling Man In The Mirror back outta the bag…

It went like this, the first time…

And Andrea has opted for another Michael Jackson track – Earth Song.

Here’s the his lovely puggle-ness doing it before.

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