Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Let me first start off by saying that the so-called "leaks" are just codswallop. Just goes to show that you cannot fully trust what you read, especially if the source is questionable.

The Deathly Hallows refers to three objects mentioned a children's tale called "The Tale of Three Brothers." The tale mentions three objects - The Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and The Cloak of Invisibility. It's believed that whoever possesses all three objects will be the true master of Death.

So Harry was left with the task of obtaining all the Horcruxes. Naturally, Ron and Hermione helped him out. From the very start, the book was jammed packed with action. JK Rowling wasn't shy in killing off characters:

  • Hedwig
  • Mad Eye Moody
  • Professor Burbage
  • Fred
  • Remus
  • Tonks
  • Colin Creevey
  • Dobby
  • Snape

Personally, I had tears in my eyes when Hedwig and Dobby died. I wept when Snape was murdered by Voldemort.

Theories about Snape being Dumbledore's trusted spy and not a traitor have been proven in the book. Dumbledore's death was planned all along. In fact, he was already dying because of the cursed Slytherin ring in book 6. As Dumbledore said in the book, he would rather die by the hands of Snape than die in a painful and humiliating way.

The Dumbledore and Grindelwald story comes into play as well regarding the Deathly Hallows. It shows a flawed and ambitious Dumbledore who only cared about himself rather than his own family. He believed he was responsible for his own sister's death. His brother, Aberforth, also appears in this book as the grumpy barman of Hog's Head and was instrumental in the final battle at Hogwarts.

Kreacher becomes a loyal house elf to Harry. It was sweet how it came to be.

Lily and Snape's past plays an integral part as to why Snape deflected from Voldemort and decided to become a spy for Dumbledore. My theory about why Snape hated James Potter so much was proven by this which I found fantastic. A silver doe patronus?

The last chapter was a nice touch in my opinion. "All is well".

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't wait to have kids myself and get them into the magic of Harry Potter. I am sure that the next generation will benefit from the wonderful messages it brings: friendship, bravery, loyalty, and love.

5 out of 5 stars.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Major spoiler warning!

At precisely 9:01 am on July 16, the first box containing copies of the latest Harry Potter was opened and distributed to fans here in Melbourne who have been awaiting the said book's release. I was one of them!

I have finished reading the book. Please stop reading this post if you don't want to know or have not read the book yet and planning to soon because there are major spoilers here!!!

So first question, was it worth the wait?

My answer, hell yes!

I only wished it was longer. It seems like 607 pages of Harry Potter is not enough for me.

The joys...

Harry seemed to have matured immensely since Order of the Phoenix. His loyalty to Dumbledore was remarkable, and he was rather proud of the new Minister of Magic calling him "Dumbledore's man through and through." I thought it was really sweet when Harry told Dumbledore about this and that he also believed that he is Dumbledore's man. Dumbledore was touched that he became a bit teary-eyed.

The background story of Voldemort was very interesting. A lot of pieces of the puzzle was falling into place, and I can understand why Dumbledore thought it was essential for Harry to know this in order to defeat him. Dumbledore and Harry's relationship has improved considerably and there is a huge amount of trust in each other.

Ron and Hermione's relationship, while it's obvious that there is something more than friendship there, remain stubborn and maintain their platonic relationship. It was rather interesting to see Ron's jealousy over the possibility of Hermione snogging Viktor Krum back in Goblet of Fire (duh! of course they snogged!). This made Ron have a "snoggging relationship" with Lavender Brown. I thought Lavender calling Ron "Won-Won" was hilarious!

Harry wasn't left behind in the love-stakes of course. The fact that he stuck to his guns and maintained that Voldemort was indeed alive and creating havoc, the fact that he faced Voldemort more than once and got away, the fact that he shot up a foot-taller than the year before, and that he became Gryffindor's Quidditch Captain, made him in Hermione's words, "fanciable." He had a bevy of girls chasing after him, one in particular was so determined to get him she was putting love potions on chocolates!

The most exciting part of Harry's lovelife - Harry finally noticed Ginny. When Ginny and Dean were going out, Harry felt, in his words, "a creature in chest" that suddenly appeared when he and Ron saw them kissing in an empty corridor. In the end, Harry got the nerve and kissed Ginny in the common room while they celebrated winning the Quidditch cup. Harry and Ginny got together! Yay! Yay! Yay!

(All Harry/Ginny shippers jumping and celebrating in unison)

AND... Harry kissed Ginny first, not the other way around like Cho Chang did! Yay! Yay! Yay!

Remus and Tonks got together as well (I could here all the Remus/Tonks shippers jumping for joy as well). The way they got together was rather interesting.

Oh, and Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour are getting married!

Also, it seems like Draco Malfoy has a conscience... read below to find out why!

The sorrows...

Who is the Half-Blood Prince? Severus Snape!

Please read the book for the full explanation... I refuse to explain all the details here.

Why did I put this bit of information in this section? Well, because it was the half-blood prince who committed the murder of one of the most beloved characters in the book...

Who died? Albus Dumbledore!

I know, I know... I cried big time when I came across this chapter. The way he was killed was a shock. I have my own theories as to why Snape killed Dumbledore. Please share your thoughts once you've read the book!

Voldemort actually hired Draco Malfoy to do this task. Since Lucius Malfoy got himself jailed in Azkaban back in Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort thought that the best punishment was to get his son to kill the only wizard he feared. Narcissa, Draco's mother, asked Snape to perform the Unbreakable vow, that if Draco does not succeed in his seemingly impossible mission, he will help out.

Draco proved to be gutless. He couldn't do it. Harry caught him crying in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, with Myrtle consoling him... gasp!

Harry and Ginny broke up in the end. Harry explained that he couldn't stand it if something happened to her because of their relationship. This shows that Harry really cared for her. This may turn out to be a joy in the seventh book, when they get back together (all H/G shippers down on their knees praying...)

Memorable quotes/moments...

Why Are You Worrying About You-Know-Who?
You SHOULD Be Worrying About
the Constipation Sensation That's Gripping The Nation!

- From a gigantive poster advertising the new product "U-No-Poo" outside Fred and George's joke shop in Hogsmeade, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes

Rufus Scrimgeour: Dumbledore's man through and through, aren't you Potter?
Harry: Yeah, I am. Glad we straightened that out.

- when the Minister of Magic was asking Harry where Dumbledore was constantly disappearing to. Harry, of course, refused to disclose such information.

I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick.

- the line Professor Flitwick made Seamus write out as punishment when he made an error with a charm, ending in getting Flitwick sprayed with jets of water coming out of Seamus's wand

The drowsing creature in Harry's chest suddenly raised its head, sniffing the air hopefully.

- upon hearing news from Hermione that Ginny and Dean had a row.


JK Rowling's style of writing has changed quite a bit as the years passed. I could only guess that because Harry is already a 16-year old in this book, the narrative style was so much more mature than let's say, the Philosopher's stone when Harry was just 11. I understand why so many adults such as myself have fallen in love with Harry and the other characters that Rowling had magically created.

Please, please, please read the book! I can't wait for the final book... hopefully it will be out in a couple of years!

5 stars out of 5!!!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Musically related questions...

This was something that my friend Bec sent me through an email which I thought was too precious to be posted in Friendster's bulletin board. Feel free to copy and paste this in your respective blogs if you wish. I found these questions rather fun to answer. Enjoy!

Q1: Your top ten singers/bands/musicians of all time?

I like lots of bands but the list below would have to the bands I will love till the day I die...

10. Sex Pistols
9. The Doors
8. Bloc Party
7. Interpol
6. Tears for Fears
5. The Beatles
4. U2
3. Joy Division
2. The Smiths
1. The Cure

Q2: Five most memorable lyrics?

5. It's different now that I'm poor and aging, I'll never see this face again, you'll go stabbing yourself in the neck -- "Obstacle 1" by Interpol

4. Why is the bedroom so cold? Turn away on your side. Is my timing that flawed- our respect run so dry? Yet there's still this appeal that we've kept through our lives -- "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division

3. The further we go, the older we grow, the more we know, the less we show -- "Primary" by The Cure

2. I can't operate on this failure when all I want to be is completely in command -- "Pale Shelter" by Tears for Fears

1. If a double decker bus, crashes into us, to die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine -- "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths

Q3: Biggest crush in the music industry?

At the moment, I would have to say Roland Orzabal... that dancing in the "Mad World" video and the shirtless look in "I Believe" just makes me go... phwoar!!!!!

Q4: Your most favourite song from your top ten favourite singers/bands/musicians?

10. Sex Pistols - "Submission"
9. The Doors - "Love Her Madly"
8. Bloc Party - "This Modern Love"
7. Interpol - "Obstacle 1"
6. Tears For Fears - "Pale Shelter"
5. The Beatles - "Fool On A Hill"
4. U2 - "One"
3. Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
2. The Smiths - "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
1. The Cure - "Close To Me"

Q5: Song that makes you laugh?

Just one? There so many stupid songs out there! Ok, probably... "United States of Whatever" by Liam Lynch

Q6: Song that makes you cry?

"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths. Seriously, need you ask why?!?

Q7: Song that makes you remember of a specific moment during your high school days?

Oh dear, for some reason "Elevate My Mind" by Stereo MC keeps on popping up in my head. This song is very memorable because of my sophomore year in high school was my wildest, I reckon... of course, not as wild as my frosh year :p

Another song would have to be "Stay" by Lisa Loeb. Not only does this song remind me of the best high school year of my life (senior year), but also of my constant argument with then best mate James as to which song is better: "Stay" or "I Swear". I know, I know... all together now..."Eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!"

Q8: Song that never fails to make you dance?

Many of these as well. To name one, it'll probably be "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand

Q9: Song that reminds you of a loved one?

Of Arnie? It'll have to be "All I Want Is You" by U2. He played it on the guitar and sang it for me a few times. It was lovely!

Q10: Your most hated song?

Only one: "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears... it was the beginning of the death of rock in the 90s. Bloody tart...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Falling in love with Roland and Curt all over again...

Do you recognize the faces above? Any child of the 80's or music lover would know that it's Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears for Fears back when they were young, fresh, and absolutely gorgeous! (Don't you just love Roland's hair? >grin<)

Tears for Fears is definitely one of those bands that made such a huge impact on myself. From the first time I heard of them through the song "Mad World", I've been hooked, line and sinker! They were synth pop at their best and their voices were just heaven sent. Lyrical geniuses, excellent dancers (Roland anyway... just see the "Mad World" and "Change" video :p), and gifted guitarists... it was sad that they broke up the way they did, but at the same time I'm happy that they patched things up and released "Everybody Loves A Happy Ending" a few months ago.

My most favourite Tears for Fears song would have to be "Pale Shelter"...

How can I be sure?
When your intrusion is my illusion
How can I be sure
When all the time you changed my mind
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure
When you don't give me love
You gave me Pale shelter
You don't give me love
You give me cold hands
And I can't operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command...

Didn't I say lyrical geniuses? Told you so...

I just bought the DVD "Tears Roll Down Greatest Hits '82-'92". Now I can watch Roland's totally un-choreographed shimmy over and over again!!! I've been trying to copy it... and Arnie has been laughing his arse off, the git! Just because HE can do it... >grumble, grumble<

For those who are curious as to why my partner Arnie can do a "Roland Orzabal shimmy", unlike myself he is a genuine "child of the 80's". He is 36 years old and was a teenager when Tears for Fears were in their prime. I, on the other hand, was 5 years old when I first heard "Mad World"!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Andy Warhol's Time Capsules/Grotesque: The Diabolical and Fantastic in Art

One of my most favourite locations in Melbourne is the National Gallery of Victoria. It is situated in St. Kilda Road, one of the more popular spots/roads in Melbourne.

Last Saturday, April 2, Arnie and I went to see the exhibit "Andy Warhol's Time Capsules", and "Grotesque: The Diabolical and Fantastic in Art."

As much as I have wanted to take photos at the said exhibits, avid art fans know that there is no way in the world will any gallery allow the public to take photos of the works being displayed. Damn! I would have loved to share a lot of the things that I saw in the exhibits with you guys, but... tough luck!

Andy Warhol was a horder... he kept everything! There was this quote he said... something along the lines of instead of throwing things that were given to him and risking being rude, he just said thank you and placed it in the box of the month. That was the whole concept of the time capsule. He had a box for the month and kept everything in it. Newspapers, mail, stamps, clothing... everything!!! I know for a fact that if I even thought of doing anything like that, my mum would kill me!

He started doing this when he moved to an apartment in New York. Imagine the lack of space after a few years! Jeez, I forgot! This is Andy Warhol we're talking about! He had the Factory, his underground film company. The exhibit played a few of his films... "Sleep," "Kiss," "The Empire State Building," "Four of Andy Warhol's Beautiful Women," "Photographers and Models," etc... As if I expect the Gallery to play "Heat" or "Flesh." Hahahahaha...

Francisco Goya y LucientesSpanish 1746–1828Hobgoblins (Duendecitos)plate 49 from Los Caprichos (The Caprices), 1st edition 1799etching and burnished aquatint printed in sepia ink18.8 x 13.2 cm (image), 21.5 x 15.1 cm (plate), 24.6 x 17.7 cm (sheet)Harris 84.III.1

The image above is just an example of what Arnie and I saw in the Grotesque exhibit. Francisco Goya happens to be one of my most favourite artists. He captured the images of fantastical creatures amazingly. Most of his works were influenced by Spanish folklore, superstition, and legend. Other artists featured in the exhibit are Albrecht Dürer, William Blake ( I only thought he was a poet! He actually painted his own interpretations of John Milton's Paradise Lost), Pablo Picasso (that's right!), and Eugène Delacroix ( a good mate of Charles Baudelaire and illustrated the best interpretations of Goethe's Faust).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

All these re-makes!

I don't know about you guys, but have noticed that there are heaps of "new" songs out that are actually just re-makes? If not full re-makes then intrumental rip-offs with different lyrics? What's going on? Have people lost their creativity? Or is it because artists nowadays are just concerned with making money and nothing else? Whatever happened to an artist's pride in their own work? It's all just about MONEY, MONEY, MONEY... the starving artist has ceased to exist! Because unfortunately in this day and age, if you want to earn money you would have to compromise your vision.

"Re-making" is the trend in this modern world. It exists not just in music, but also in fashion. I remember vividly a fellow pug parent speaking to me in confidence about how much he hates the ra-ra skirt. There was this chick in the playgroup who was wearing the horrendous skirt so he just had to say it to myself. He said, "I remember those skirts coming out about 15 years ago and was very happy when I went out of fashion. Why the hell do they have to resurrect it?" Well, my friend, that is because aside from the acceptance of people walking about starkers, everything has been done! Re-making!

There are heaps of rock groups from Britain and surprisingly, America, that I like. They may not be as original as they come (read: influences stemming from the New Wave/Punk era) but they are doing something more creative than some shit that I hear!

That said, I am only human. There are a lot of re-makes that I like. The reason being that the artists who re-made them made an effort to make it sound like their own. Here's my top ten list of re-makes (in no particular order):

1. The Man Who Sold The World - Original by David Bowie, re-make by Nirvana
2. China Girl - Original by Iggy Pop, re-make by David Bowie
3. Comfortably Numb - Original by Pink Floyd, re-make by Scissor Sisters
4. How Soon is Now? - Original by The Smiths, re-make by Tatu (I know Smiths purists will slag me off for this... but I even surprised myself when I found that I don't really mind it!)
5. Blue Monday - Original by New Order, re-make by Orgy
6. My Way - Original by Frank Sinatra, re-make by Sid Vicious
7. Always On My Mind - Original by Elvis Presley, re-make by Pet Shop Boys
8. I Fought The Law - Original by The Crickets, re-make by The Clash
9. Dear Prudence - Original by The Beatles, re-make by Siouxsie and the Banshees
10. Personal Jesus - Original by Depeche Mode, re-make by Marilyn Manson

Here are some songs that are just instrumental re-makes which I like:

1. Call on Me - by Eric Prydz, Music from Steve Winwood's "Valerie"
2. Falling Stars - by Sunset Strippers, Music from Cabin Crew's "Star To Fall"
3. Stan - by Eminem, Music and some lyrics from Dido's "Thank You"
4. Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling - by Dannii Minogue, Music from Madonna's "Into The Groove"
5. Crush - by Darren Hayes, Music from Madonna's "Holiday"

The Illuminati Diamond

I have been on the hunt for a lovely design for my second tattoo. I'm planning to place it along my left shoulder blade. I have been looking at Daniel Martin Diaz's artwork but a lot of my friends find a little too "gothic" even more me :p. After reading Angels and Demons, I've seen this and absolutely fell in love with it:

Image hosted by

The Illuminati diamond consists the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. It is also an anagram, i.e. it reads the same way upside down. Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, it'll be in black... still weighing all my options and being really, really picky. After all, I'll be stuck with whatever I choose for the rest of my life, 'ey?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I know I should have read this before The Da Vinci Code. It is, after all, the second book to what I would call The Robert Langdon Series.

Angels and Demons is the first of the Robert Langdon mysteries by Dan Brown. I have just finished reading this last night (read: actually it was more like 3 in the morning!) and was again spellbound by the intricate web of mystery created by Brown. The story happened in Rome, more specifically in the Vatican City (for some reason, they call it "the smallest country in the world). It was an excellent mix of religion (more input from the Vatican!), renaissance art (heaps of reference to Michaelangelo and Bernini), weapons of mass destruction (!) and of course, the ever helpful police (hmmm... can I hear a hint of sarcasm there???)

It is also about the infamous Illuminati, a secret brotherhood known for their vendetta against the Catholic Church. It is a well-known and documented fact that the Catholic Church was responsible for a lot of executions of men who delved into the sciences during the early days. The most famous one being Galileo (whom, by the way, was mentioned A LOT in this book). The Illuminati, according to lore, apparently was founded by Galileo as a means for people of science to meet in secret and discuss things that were banned by the Church. The book also discusses the use of renaissance sculptures and other works of art as a means to lead other Illuminati members to the Church of Illumination, the house of the Illuminati, which is filled with pagan symbols and tributes to the sciences.

Simply said, this is a book about the age-old war of Science vs. Religion. There are characters in this book that are working towards the ultimate reconciliation of both parties, that is, proving once in for all through science that God exists. A bit far-fetched, yes, but utterly convincing, thanks to Dan Brown's excellent prose. Of course, not surprisingly, there are also characters, noble but misguided fools who believe there can never be a reconciliation, that science is here to mock the wonder and miracles of God.

I have been completely entranced by this novel. Not only did it appeal to my own beliefs and religious philosphy, but it also gave a completely different look at the people behind the Church. I have known and believed all along that the Church is flawed because man presides it (not a gender thing mind you... I am just using the term "man" as a general thing). They are susceptible to greed and temptation. They may be holy and have the best intentions at heart but they sometimes fail to see the bigger picture.

The same goes for science. They may look at the bigger picture and tend to believe that the "end ALWAYS justifies the means." Unfortunately, this also comes across as heartless and cold. Scientists are, unfortunately, built this way. They may mean well, but they fail to see the human side of things.

Science vs. religion? Why? Why can't they just work together? Why can't each see the good in the other and work towards a better understanding of the other? I am not a fan of religion myself, but I do see something good in it. It is an organization that teaches people morals and values to become better people (I am talking about the proper way a religion should educate their followers. Of course, not all do this I'm afraid).

Please, please read this book. If there is one thing that this book tells you, it is that understanding is the key to a spiritual way of living.

Angels and Demons - 4 out of 5