Tag Archives: Journaling

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Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

One thing I admire about J.K Rowling’s writing style is that it’s clear and concise. I had no problem remembering the plot from the previous books because she did a good job at refreshing readers’ memories by taking the time to explain important events. But the greatest magic she did to me has opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world. As I mentioned before in one of my previous posts, I was never really a fan of sports, but I could appreciate it now when the author used Quidditch to illustrate teamwork and good sportsmanship to support and fight for the right cause. Also, I learned what bravery looks like and why it’s the greatest trait above all else. It takes a lot of courage to conquer death. In fact, the entire story of Harry Potter is like the Christian Gospel for the Wizarding World. It’s meant to soothe and cradle the anxious soul who are fearful of death or have lost a loved one.

Since the beginning of the first book, particularly Book 6, I have always seen Dumbledore as the embodiment of good and wisdom (p.360). To me, he is like God, all-knowing and omniscient and Harry Potter had to have faith in Dumbledore’s instruction even though like Christ he was on a mission to be slaughtered like a pig (p.687). How is this not a parable of the Christian faith? The entire series is bombarded with Christian tropes such as the trinity (Hermione, Harry Potter, and Ron are metaphors for mind, body, and soul); the serpent as being the lesser being; the number 7 as a holy number; finally love, love conquers all. If you are familiar with the Christian faith then you know what I am talking about.

The scale of the story followed the same structure. God sent his beloved son to die for our sins. In other words, a hero sacrifices his life for the greater good. Harry Potter was born to destroy evil and that’s why he is the Chosen One who comes from the House of Gryffindor, which is the greatest House out of all the Four Houses. Why is that? Wit, ambition, and hard work are all great traits but bravery tops it all because they don’t fear death. The Four Houses are just metaphors for the virtuous traits that benefit and develop a stable society. I agree with the author. Great leaders don’t just lead by example but are selfless. Harry Potter puts himself in danger many times for others even for Draco, his enemy! That’s why the author made her point about bravery as the biggest virtue on several occasions by using Ron, the insecure character to show readers that anyone can be great and that there’s bravery in everyone. An example is a part where Ron saved Harry from drowning in Forest’s frozen pool in Chapter 19:

‘You’ve sort of made up for tonight,’ said Harry. ‘Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life.’

That makes me sound cooler than I was,’ Ron mumbled.

‘Stuff like that always sound cooler than it really was,’ said Harry. ‘I’ve been trying to tell you for years.’

Book 7, p. 379

As I was reading, I kept wondering what’s the significance of the Chosen One in relation to the story other than fighting evil. That plot in itself is too generic. Then I realized Harry Potter is the symbol of youth and bravery on the verge of corruption in a society. When I saw it in that light, I became more appreciative of the story as something more than just a children’s book. You see, if Dumbledore is the embodiment of goodness and wisdom, then Harry Potter is the embodiment of hope and change. Wouldn’t all parents want to see their children become better than them in some form? Parents would only hurt their children’s future if they make their children serve them by abiding by old outdated traditions. The western concept of rearing children is far different from Asian cultures (particularly Eastern and Southeastern Asians) and that came as a shock to me. We are taught to respect and serve our elders–not challenge them as we see in the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter’s behavior was appalling to me in Book 5 when he was upset that Dumbledore left him in the dark, but sometimes it’s necessary to continuously challenge an established society for the sake of the “greater good” which will benefit all. After all, it takes a brave person to stand up and make changes to a decaying society even at the expense of one’s own life.

So, has my opinion of Dumbledore changed after learning that he’s not a family man and that it was out of selfish ambition that he wished to make peace with the Muggles so that both worlds can live in harmony? Not quite. Like Harry Potter, I felt a little betrayed, but the author did a great job at explaining his actions and redeeming him. Like Voldemort, Dumbledore operated in secrecy, pulling strings to see his plans come through. He wasn’t all that different from Voldemort who was lusting after power and domination. But there is a huge difference between the two. If you can recall the statement in the Sorcerer’s Stone: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure (p. 297), Dumbledore accepted his immortality whereas Voldemort didn’t. That’s why Voldemort will always fall short. It’s kind of like how Satan will always be less than God or why the number 6 is less than 7. So yes, I still like Dumbledore for many reasons and believe that his traits reflect Christian virtues. One of them is the fact he is modestly humble. He is talented and gifted but chose to be a headmaster of a school rather than be the head of the Wizarding ministry. The logic is that if you want to make a huge impact in the world, you start off in the classrooms. Training and disciplining young wizards and witches have a huge impact on the future of society. That’s where changes really happen. It always starts small, especially if you want to make the world a better place, but of course, great ideas don’t always follow through as we see with Tom Riddle, who turned out to be the evilest wizard. But it’s better to try than not try at all.

Another interesting point made by the author was the concept of respect for all life. Dobby, a slave elf who falls at the bottom of the wizarding community food chain is as grand as Dumbledore. However, when he died, all he got was a small burial and not an elaborate ceremony. It made me think about how society tends to place importance on social structure. Someone from the bottom of the food chain is just as impactful as someone on top. It was a nice touch to say that no matter how small someone’s place is in society, they can make a huge impact!

I could go on and dive deeper into the world of Harry Potter because I enjoyed every single moment of it and learned how to see new perspectives such as the concept of gold and treasure from the point of view of the goblins, but I decided to conclude my thoughts for now. Everything in this book makes sense. There’s the notion of empathy, forgiveness, and acceptance just like the Christian faith. Perhaps, it’s the statement that Harry Potter and Voldemort are one of the same kinds but at the same time different than confused religious people. Still, when it comes to great literacy work, nothing should be taken literally. It’s the lessons that are important.

Now I just need to watch the first two Fantastic Beast films before I can see the third one in the theater to get caught up with Harry Potter. While I was reading Harry Potter, each time I finished a book, I watched the film, comparing and contrasting them. Of course, the books are way better, but the films are cool too. This whole experience took me about 4 months but I am glad to say I have now graduated from Hogwarts and know what bravery looks like. Snape is the bravest and is my favorite character. Maybe if I feel like it, I might write an essay about why I think so, but I will just leave it for now. That was a lot to take in, I am sure.

Reflecting on The Apartment (1960) Film

Do you know what a mensch is? I didn’t know what it means before I watched this film. What better way to define a person with integrity and honor than by showing what it’s not than by starring a bachelor whose goal is to climb the corporate ladder by succumbing to bribery? He allowed his superiors to conduct extramarital affairs at his apartment in exchange for a promotion. Now, I recall reading the company’s manual on not accepting bribes because things like this do happen! This film falls under romance/comedy and perhaps that’s just my cup of tea lately, a happy ending with a bit of romance.

Truthfully, I was not all that different from the protagonist C.C Baxter except I wasn’t as mischievous and I did not work for an insurance company. Like him, I wanted to climb the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, the company I worked for did not have many growth opportunities to sustain my “bachelorette” lifestyle (it really just means I will rather be alone than settle with the wrong person). Plus, people recognized the color of my lipstick and the outfit I was wearing for the day rather than my leadership skills. So, promotion was far from reach. In the end, after 5 years, I got nowhere because 1) the company got acquired 2) I was suffering from mental fatigue, and 3) the new company did not align with my basic principles. On the bright side, I met some friends and acquaintances and found love and love conquers all. So, I guess being cute has its perks or I was just in the wrong field of work.

So, that is why I enjoyed this film. It’s a happy ending where an ambitious man realized that climbing the corporate ladder is not worth the happiness that he yearned for all along. He was always a little lonely after all when he realized that he was falling for the Operating Elevator Girl by the name of Fran Kubelik, a naïve but charming girl who failed typing test because she couldn’t spell, which was the reason she ended up in that job role, to begin with (Why am I beginning to feel like her?). But most of all, she didn’t deserve to be used as a side thing for some sleazy big corporate man who happened to be married with two children. Hmm…, did I recall watching something similar to this, a film about a blonde cheerleader who thought she found the love of her life, called Lying Eyes? There’s a lot of humor to this film that I enjoyed because it’s such an old fashion idea but still rings true to modern-day society: The nice girl falls for the wrong guy and can’t seem to fall for the nice guy who is a bit of a crook himself but realizes how great the good guy is so she leaves the wrong guy for the good guy. As I said, a happy ending.

I know I made the plot sounds so basic and it wasn’t just the happy ending I liked, but it was the décor, and the way it was filmed made it so timelessly romantic. The apartment scenes were just well done, apart from the busy office and bar scenes which highlighted the bachelor lifestyle, making it full of excitement and possibilities but in the wrong sense. The fraternity can only last so long when it’s time to settle down and that is what the protagonist learned. As I mentioned, a happy ending. Glad to see he finally turned around and become a mensch. Quit his job and stop supporting his superiors’ extramarital affairs by drawing some boundaries. Now the only problem Baxter has is finding work. Back to square one, but that’s okay. One door closes but a new one opens. That’s how we should see life. At least that’s how I remain optimistic and happy. Love this film!

Reflecting on The Duchess of Duke Street Season 1

Lately, anything that inspires me to cook, I watch. And this English show is no exception! Cooking is something I’m not good at which is why I came up with Halsdoll’s Diner. How’s my progress so far you might wonder? My mother would have been proud. I gained 7 pounds since I started cooking, considering the fact I used to be shapelessly thin. And yet, I still have yet to find recipes I enjoy. You see, you got to have a passion for cooking and mine is not as strong as the protagonist Louisa Trotter who is known as the Queen of Cook and who is actually based on the real-life character, Rosa Lewis.

“I want to be a COOK!” said Louisa. And that’s all she ever wanted even till the end. Sadly, along the way she had to deal with the politics that come with it, especially being a woman in the 1920s when women are expected to walk in the shadow of their husbands. What I find so intriguing about The Duchess of Duke Street is to see an ambitious woman rising from the bottom as an assistant cook into a proprietor of a famous hotel in London. Of course, she didn’t do it all alone. The circumstance she was in led her to success. She caught the attention of royalty and got involved in an affair. Simply because she is a great cook and attractive. To cover up the affair, she was persuaded to marry her husband, a butler to whom she had no love. They moved into a house, and soon needed to make a living. So, they took over a hotel business. Unfortunately, her husband was a lousy manager and a drunk. Instead of bringing in revenue, he brought debt. As a result, she kicked him out and took up his manager position to turn the business around. Who says women can’t manage? Louisa Trotter can!

Not going to lie. I love strong resistant women. All she ever wanted was to be a cook and she had to work twice as hard to get where she wants to be. Sometimes she doesn’t always get moral support from her female kind. For instance, when her respectable trusted employee named Mary got into a dispute with her over a male guest, she called out the most hurtful thing to Louisa. She said Louisa “slut” her way into acquiring the hotel. It was a big blow to the ego. Louisa knew it was partially true. She was young and passionate when she started out and so there were a lot of male admirers. Trying to fend them off was not easy. After all, “Men are born to chase after women, otherwise, there’d be no human race,” said Louisa. Clearly, not only did she display a concern for her business but she also protects those around her. That’s what I called an amazing woman. Of course, it didn’t stop there. People started spreading rumors that the hotel is a brothel when it started to gain popularity. Working girls, you say? Not quite but they were indeed working hard to make a living in the hospitality industry. It’s not uncommon to see Louisa boldly surrounded by men.

Overall, The Duchess of Duke Street is a show about management, friendship, food, hard work, and love which made me realize not much has changed in regard to women’s struggles in the male-dominated industry. Luckily, I don’t have sophisticated big dreams. As long as I can find metaphors to write about on this blog and cook a nice meal that alone makes me very happy.

Halsdoll eating breakfast
Halsdoll’s Breakfast
Halsdoll’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich with strawberries on the side

Thanks for reading my thoughts on this T.V series. As mentioned, I am open for business on the day I say I publish a post. Perhaps, there’s something more worthwhile next time. For me, it was a comforting show because a bit of Louisa personality reminded me of my mother. I wouldn’t mind being her apprentice.

Netflix Series Beastars Season 2: Who Is da BEAST?!

Disclaimer: Like “Netflix Series Beastars Review: Is the Rabbit Really A Slut?“, this post is for mature audiences. Not for children. Please watch show before reading. This is just my interpretation.

Well well…this became a bit of an erotic show that deals with a beastly appetite for another living piece of meat. Watching the show made me want to turn into a vegetarian or hide my face whenever I sense a predator staring at me from a distance. You never know if a perverted wolf is on the prowl. Yes, I’m still talking about Beastars here, a show jam-packed with metaphors.

It’s nice to see Legoshi, learning to control his instinct by turning into a Zen monk–well not quite. He can control his appetite to devour her but not the sexual desire he has for her! It seems as if he is confused with food for love or it’s the other way around. In this season, he did what is right, and started using his god-gifted ability to sniff out the culprit who killed the alpaca, Tem. But is it out of love or self-righteousness that he sought to solve the drama club murder mystery? Personally, I think it’s a way for the young lad to go on a journey of self-discovery. In this case, I think he may found his purpose which is to use his strength to protect and not kill. Lastly, marry Haru. No wonder Haru called him selfish when he proposed.

As I was sitting on my couch watching the show, I can speculate why it’s called Beastars. It’s a show about beasts fighting to gain respect within the society or you can think of it as watching the Olympics (let’s see which race is the superior race by demonstrating it through sports events!). But of course, it’s more than that. It tackles teenage issues, insecurities, sexuality, discrimination, and so much more! We got two groups of beasts: herbivores and carnivores who are in a constant power struggle to show the school who is da BEAST! Herbivores suffer from inferiority because of where they stand in the food chain meanwhile the carnivores feel mispresented as monsters. Deep down they are fragile creatures. It turns out the insecure big baby deer Louis and the sexually suppressed wolf Legoshi are both stars in this show and both deeply admire one another. There were some cuddling, heartwarming friendship scenes for those who like to see animals get along. Realistically though, animals don’t like sharing mates. I speak from watching animal documentaries and trying to raise two roosters under the same roof back in my teenage years. That didn’t even last a day. One got killed by the other. Perhaps, the relationship between deer and a wolf is different. As Claudio said in Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare:

Friendship is constant in all other things/Save in the office and affairs of love (Act 2: SC 1: P. 173-174)

So that’s why I’m surprise how mellow Legoshi is towards Louis who slept with the girl he loves and who was willing to sacrifice her for the greater good. The natural response would to give Louis a black eye for being such a prick. But, Legoshi, the awkward wolf is better than that. He mastered the art of suppressing his instinct by using the right head, the one upstairs.

So where does Juno, the manipulative wolf fit in the picture? Seems like her intent to steal the show in the first season is purely based on insecurity. Can’t blame her. She didn’t have to work for her respect in society so a part of her always feel inadequate. She was already given that respect simply for being born as a wolf (carnivores are seen as a high society). Although, I have sympathy for her in some ways. Beneath her confidence, she suffers from low self-esteem. Perhaps, she could practice gratitude and self-love? As for the promiscuous rabbit, she could learn humility and put her pride aside. That small thing needs help. She can’t survive on her own in a society that’s always hungry. I don’t want to say that slut saw it coming for hopping around alone in the Garden Club like a piece of meat because no living thing deserves to be looked upon as a tasty meal even if it’s part of the universal law in this made-up belief world, Beastars.

Overall, the message I got from this show is to respect all life. I liked that all the beasts are a star in their own way. They all have their unique strengths and weaknesses and deserve sympathy. It was amusingly fun to watch and I must say a well-crafted story for an anime. Not saying that anime is bad, but rarely do I find one that I actually binged watch, especially ones that involved high school drama.

Reflecting on Interview with the Vampire (Book): Passivity Is Death

I’m sort of done writing reviews. Writing impressions, journaling or reflective posts might be the politically correct term for this type of blog.

When it comes to reading, there’s no way I can ever read all the classics that I have set myself out to apart from discovering new stories from modern-day authors. Reading is meditative and truly addicting. I feel as if I have to be immortal to experience the many lives ebbed into a meaningful story that people packaged into a book and sell them off for profit. A strange concept if you were to ask me, but a writer has to make a living somehow. As a reader, I could play the god and judge the world for myself whenever I open a book. That’s what modernization turned human civilization into, a passive observer. As the bible goes: “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow (Revised Standard Version, 1:18).” Am I doomed to be melancholic?

Reading as a pastime is a double edge sword. For one, reading offers an escape but at the same time causes fatigue eyes and limping body. You see, there is a thing called the clock which governs our lives. Called it Mother Nature’s clock. We are forced to sleep against our own will and forced to do mundane things to sustain life such as working, eating, cleaning, etc. And we can only wish we had more days to live so we can experience life fully to feed our godly curiosity until there’s nothing else to uncover the mystery of our existence. Reading the Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice, made me think do I really want to be immortal? Vampiric immortality is far from living but more like damnation. Louis, the protagonist is doomed to search for the “truth” that he may never find: the origin of his kind. Do they exist just to kill? Are they truly the devil’s servants?

Since I am pressed for time, I won’t go into details about this book. I will just mention briefly that this book argues passivity is the real death. Just watching things slip from your hands when you could have done something about it makes you the murderer of time. Things don’t have to stand still. Get up and make some action. That’s the lesson I got from the book.

Finally, I will leave you, folks, with my favorite quote from the book:

I went through mortal life like a blind man groping from solid object to solid object. It was only when I became a vampire that I respected myself for the first time in my life.

Through Louis, we see one sad truth about the nature of vampires: they are eternally dead. Therefore, it’s hard not to see life as a gift even if it’s for a brief moment.

P. S.

Thank you Nairdalex for recommending this book!

I Love Beauty and the Beast

A few years ago, I went to see a play to support a co-worker who was one of the performers. Money gained from the play was then given to charity. Not a bad idea to support creative folks and give back to the community.

Assuming you are not familiar with Beauty and the Beast, it’s a tale about a narcissistic prince who denies a shaggy old lady into the palace.  As a punishment, he turns into his true form: a beast! To undo the spell he must learn to love and have love return to him. That’s the only way to be human again.

When I was a kid, I don’t like fairy-tale stories all that much compared to my peers. My first exposure to the fairy-tale was the Walt Disney animated version. I remember out of the Walt Disney films, this was my least favorite. Why, you may wonder?  The depth of this film is just too hard for a child to grasp.

As I became wiser through age, I discovered the beast is not gender specific because beast is a metaphor for one of the ugliest traits found in human beings, and that is conceit!  The moral of the tale is you shouldn’t deny someone based on their appearance. Doesn’t it sound like it is saying don’t be prejudice?  Both the Prince and Belle had to learn that moral lesson together.

There are several Beauty and the Beast versions like the picture book below.

Beauty and the Beast

This version is different from the play as it highlights that inner beauty is found within, and beautiful women do fall in love with “unattractive” men.  After all, attractiveness is really in the eye of the beholder.  I believe Leo Tolstoy mentioned something similar to that in Anna Karenina.

p5791_v_v8_aa

Finally there is Belle et la Bete (1946) directed by Jean Cocteau. This film is incredibly well done for being black and white. Out of the Beauty and the Beast versions, this one top it all as it has so many symbolism and topics you can extract from. This is my favorite version because it has a strong thesis about how humans cannot fall in love with a beast despite it’s good nature and there is a good reason why.