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Hamilton: Remixing the Old School for a New Audience

 

Hip Hop’s History of Remixing

Sampling and remixing from your forefathers has been a part of hip hop culture from day one. Bob and Earl’s opening horns to Harlem Shuffle were used as House of Pain’s opening to Jump Around. Funkadelic’s (Not Just) Knee Deep was heavily sampled by De La Soul’s breakout hit Me, Myself and I. Snoop Dogg’s What’s my name? practically sampled every bit of George Clinton’s Atomic Dog (bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo-yippee-yay). The Fugees biggest hits used hip hop to reinterpret old classics Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack and Ready or Not, Here I Come by the Delfonics. Their reinterpretations shined a spotlight on their inspirations for a new audience to appreciate.

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Enter Hamilton…

Hamilton is a Broadway musical that takes a very old school tale and spins it with a hip hop beat to update the story for today’s audience. When you think of United States historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams, you probably think of a bunch of white dudes with puffy pants, powdered wigs and a 1 percent attitude — a strange and distant past that doesn’t seem too appealing to visit. The Broadway musical Hamilton takes this impression and turns it on its head.

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Remixing A Book Into A Musical

In 2004, Ron Chernow published a book titled Alexander Hamilton, about the historic U.S. forefather. It was an acclaimed best-seller that captured the drama of Hamilton’s life and presented it in a novel-like readable manner. The book wasn’t just engaging to readers, it was also historically accurate. This book ended up being the inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda to pen the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.

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In this lesson, learn about how Hamilton pays homage to classic rap, celebrates diversity and provides a compelling narrative to tell the story of a white dude with puffy pants, which is entirely historically accurate. Then try your hand at creating the next unconventional blockbuster, relating history from your point of view.

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America’s Favorite Pastime, Part 2 of 3: Immigration in Baseball – Rewriting the Rulebook

 
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Baseball Isn’t Dangerous, Right?

Would you raft through shark-infested waters to play baseball? Would you risk being kidnapped? Would you subject another person to the possibility of death threats for the sake of allowing you to keep playing the sport? Well, for Cuban baseball players, the answer to those types of questions has overwhelmingly been “Yes!” Jose Fernandez, a star pitcher for the Miami Marlins, did indeed brave the shark-filled waters of the Straits of Florida. Can you blame him for having a huge smile on his face when he became a U.S. citizen in April? No more sharks!

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In an attempt to reach the U.S. Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, meanwhile, was kidnapped and held for ransom during his own immigration ordeal. Most recently, 16-year-old Cuban player Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros saw his agents subjected to death threats over disagreements about Lazarito’s future.

 

U.S.-Cuba Relations: Not So Friendly

The common thread among most Cuban MLB players is that they experienced extremely difficult conditions at some point in their journeys to the U.S. Because of the contentious relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, for many years immigration was especially difficult for Cuban players. Except in special cases, Americans and Cubans were not permitted to travel between the two countries, so Cubans had to illegally escape (defect) in order to reach the U.S. As a result, Cuban players often faced much greater obstacles than players who emigrated from more distant countries.

 

Is Peace Around the Corner?

However, the relationship between the governments of Cuba and the U.S. has improved in recent years. In late 2014, President Obama announced that the two countries would begin to take steps toward normal diplomatic relations with each other, a drastic shift from the hostility between the two countries for over 50 years. In March, Obama even traveled to Cuba to watch an exhibition game in which the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Cuban National Team by a score of 4-1. US-cuba-handshake Many people believe that this progress between the American and Cuban governments could drastically improve conditions for Cuban players traveling to play in MLB. Let’s all hope so - the only time an immigrant should be subjected to sharks, kidnappings, or death threats is in a Hollywood film.

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“Bullied to Death”: Not an Exaggeration

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Bullying: It’s A Real Problem

Teenagers often use the term “to death” as a way to exaggerate their feelings. “I’m bored to death” is a common saying in classrooms across the country. Kids might exclaim “I was scared to death!” after seeing a particularly terrifying horror movie.

However, over the past few years, the words “to death” have taken on a much more literal meaning. Across the country, numerous students have actually been bullied to death.

A Google search of the term “bullied to death” returns headlines about a teenager who was hanged for being pretty, a New York City teen who jumped in front of a subway train after being bullied, and Delaware girl who was beaten to death over a relationship with a boy. The latter two of those stories occurred recently, in April of 2016. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to suicides that have been attributed to bullying.

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Why Has There Been An Increase In Deaths From Bullying?

So what’s caused this wave of bullying that has literally cost some people their lives? There are various factors to consider, and many point to the rise of social media. On the other hand, some experts claim that kids being bullied to death is not a new phenomenon, but instead that this era of mass media simply allows more people to hear such stories than in the past.

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The connection between bullying and suicide is complicated, as the site StopBullying.gov points out. However, just understanding that there might be a connection is an important lesson for many children. It is also crucial that kids understand the so-called “bystander effect,” in which people watch idly as others are bullied. According to the site NoBullying,  “The bystanders who do nothing but watch are also the problem. Thus, the bystander effect can make kids more passive instead of more proactive when dealing with bullying.”

Examining the recent instances of bullying to death might allow teenagers to begin to help reverse this disturbing trend. If today’s kids can understand the causes of some of these bullying tragedies, they might be better able to help avoid more of them in the future.

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Star Wars: Should Fan Fiction be Added to the Star Wars Canon?

Canon is the material of a story that is accepted as official and is decided upon by the creator of the story or the person or business that owns the story.

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What’s Wrong With The Star Wars Prequels?

Before Star Wars exploded into the franchise it is today, it started with three movies: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. A whole universe of stories written by a whole slew of authors branched out from these movies. Then the official prequels were made. There are many diehard fans who hated the Star Wars Prequels; the boring plotlines, the demystification of the world, and the overuse of green screen and CGI. Above all, the poorly developed characters are widely considered to be George Lucas’ worst offense. Since the celebrated release of The Force Awakens and the upcoming release of Rogue One, there has been a rise of positivity around the prequels. This may be because fans want to protect the Star Wars franchise.

 

Can’t Keep The Stories Straight? You Need A Canon!

Star Wars is just one of the many epic franchises out there. Star Wars, like a myriad of other celebrated stories such as the Avengers, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have inspired numerous official and unofficial prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. These narrative creations have taken a variety of forms; from fan-fiction and fan YouTube videos to television series, video games, and books. With so many elements and sub stories, it can be difficult to keep up with the real storyline and know what the creators, owners, and fans actually consider the true plot and subplots for the franchise. This confusion is why canon is needed! Canon is the material of a story that is accepted as official and is decided upon by the creator of the story or the person or business that owns the story.

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We Think You Can Do Better

A lot of fans think that the Star Wars prequels spoiled the rest of the series by demystifying the working and fleshing out characters with dull uninteresting stories, character motivations and morals. Many people have postulated ways in which the prequels could have handled the characters and their storylines better, which has created whole new set of sub-stories and subplots.

Characters in any story must be, above all else, believable and consistent. And as a story grows and evolves the characters must do the same whilst retaining those qualities. In Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens, we see the return of old characters and, though they have changed in many ways, we can understand how they got to that place and why their past decisions led them there. When writing about characters, respecting their consistency is integral to broadening their stories. In this lesson we will look at the Star Wars franchise in more detail and go beyond to create our own franchises with their own ever evolving cast of characters.

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Will the Real Iron Man Please Stand Up!

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Genius, Billionaire, Playboy and Philanthropist? There’s No Way This Guy is Real!

Arguably the least heroic of the superheroes on the big screen, Iron Man leads the Avengers, Marvel’s premiere superhero team, and his films are responsible for the gigantic wave of comic book properties that have found their way to film. As Iron Man – the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark is also the most realistic high profile superhero. One of the world’s wealthiest men, building superhuman technology, like an Iron Man suit and fighting evil forces to make the world a better place, sounds like something that could actually happen. So, it should be no surprise that many believe that it is happening already.

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Could Elon Musk be the Real Life Tony Stark?

Comparisons between Tony Stark and Elon Musk have been made since the rise of both in the public eye, their similarities are so apparent that they’ve been the butt of many jokes — even landing Musk a cameo in the Iron Man II film. Even though the character of Iron Man is older than Elon Musk, modern interpretations can’t help but be influenced by him, even Robert Downey Jr. himself.

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Elon Musk’s continuing work in solar and reusable energies, electric transportation, space exploration, and other scientific fields that deal with today’s hot button issues have earned him a wealth of popularity as well as actual wealth. Musk is an icon in his own right, in the good graces of the public masses as a shining example of philanthropy built upon his genius and wealth, but his personal life is nothing like the scoundrel Tony Stark as far as we know… Instead it’s his business savvy and willingness to gamble his fortunes on researching and developing projects that might benefit humanity that have made him such a jewel in the eyes of the public and put him on the pedestal reserved for the marvelous and fantastical.

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Sure, He’s a Genius, Billionaire, Philanthropist…But Does it Count if He Doesn’t Have the Flying Suit?

But what separates reality from fantasy? Men from myth? Heroes from superheroes? What makes someone more than what they are? A person’s actions and beliefs are more important than the power they hold. Courage is trying to do more than you believe that you can do. That’s why individuals like Elon Musk are considered with the same esteem as the fantastical characters like Iron Man.

Although reports of Musk building a metal power suit might only exist in the rumor mill, there is no other person on Earth who embodies the ideals and characteristics of any modern superhero. He may not be the genius inventor that Tony Stark is, but he is a genius innovator. And if anybody’s really going to be Iron Man, there’s no one else that could fit the bill, or that could pay it!

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