Book 33: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (2007)

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Yes, I finally read the final installment of the Harry Potter series. The whole time I was reading it I couldn’t help thinking of my first encounter. I was a junior in high school and an Afghanistan classmate casually mentioned that she loved Harry Potter. This was when the first four books were already favorites of kids who read fantasy books but not really known by kids who didn’t read at all. Kind of like Vanessa Hudgens before the nude photo scandal. Now everyone has some idea who she is even if they’ve never seen High School Musical.

I especially remember the time I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was the hugest book and Rowling needed about two years before she came up with the fifth book (actually, it’s three – I just checked). I still remember the library I found it in. Now it’s the library I go to most often. Sigh, I can’t believe how time flies. I could’ve sworn it was just yesterday when I borrowed the fifth book from Samantha and the sixth book from Stephen. They both knew never to lend any books to me again – ever.

In the meantime, the epilogue for this book is rather stupid. I find it annoying when main characters who first meet each other when they’re really young eventually get married. Not saying it’s impossible, but considering the contemporary setting, it’s highly unlikely. Surely new friends come along and they don’t all get married as soon as they hit twenty? Rowling should have left the epilogue to the readers’ imagination. Leave some room for possible relationships among the characters, but don’t conclude it outright.

And finally: it’s just idiotic of Harry and Ginny to name their kids Lily, James, and Albus. Talk about being overly sentimental.

Movie 13: Grease (1978)

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I read somewhere that Grease is the High School Musical of yer parents’ generation. I also read somewhere else that it is the best teen movies of the 1980s. Me being me, I just find it hard to find something to criticize harshly in any old movies I see. People seem to have better acting skills back in the old days, or maybe I just like anything old. Nevertheless, I have several things to note:

– John Travolta looks a lot skinnier and, well, younger. He still looks too old to be in high school, but seeing him in a leather jacket and tight pants – and wearing that hairstyle – compensates for everything that is wrong in my life.

– Although Grease is supposed to be like High School Musical, I am reminded of Mean Girls. The Pink Lilies (or they’re called something pink anyway) are a lot like The Plastics, aren’t they? And they don’t have to be cheerleaders. too.

– Speaking of whom, the cheerleaders wear very long skirts! I almost died choking when I first saw that. Imagine cheerleaders today wearing that kind of uniform. Horror.

– Speaking of which, all the girls seem to be wearing slightly-below-the-knee-length skirts. I couldn’t help thinking of something. Twenty-years from now, teenagers would be laughing at the gelled hair and the baggy pants boys are sporting . . . and the various ridiculous outfits girls are wearing. Hell, I’m laughing at some of them already.

Edit: After watching the whole movie, I came to the conclusion that it is like High School Musical in that it is stupid beyond reason (no offense, y’all). I did like the music, especially “Summer Nights” and “Grease Lightning” (which I think may be because my dad used to put those on when I was younger), but the vocals are terrible and the dances are so horribly choreographed.

I also hated the ending. Why on earth did Sandy (by the way, I found out the actress who played her was thirty at the time) become a bad girl? That sends all the wrong message. It is romantic in a way, but it’s mostly stupid. In the end, there’s no way the relationship will work.

Movie 10: High School Musical 2

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I’ve never liked anything produced by the Disney Channel. Yet some time last year I couldn’t resist watching High School Musical due to the hype surrounding it. It did make me chuckle at parts, I liked a couple of the characters (Gabriella seemed sweet, Ryan adorable), and I loved the song “Breaking Free.” Overall it was terrible, though. Then I also watched the concert and was amazed at the number of people who worshiped the show. The audience was HUGE, man, HUGE.

And just because I’m a masochist of some sort, I also found a couple hours in my incredibly and excredibly busy schedule tonight to see the sequel. Now it may be that I have a twisted mind, but that ha got to be the most sexual G-rated movie I’ve ever seen. The pool scenes? The swimsuits? The numerous double-entendres? Or maybe it’s just me, in which case: never mind.

I wasn’t really that disappointed by the movie – since I never really liked it in the first place. I do wonder about the exact interval between the first movie and this one. Just about everyone has changed his/her/its hairstyle and grown some. Half of the cast certainly doesn’t look like they belong in high school. Also, Gabriella no longer looks like the good girl she’s supposed to be, and whoever plays Sharpay is such a terrible actress. I still love the boy who plays Ryan, though. Ha.

Movie 7: Wakko’s Wish (1999)

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I used to really love Animaniacs because it was one of the best cartoon shows at the time. Which goes to show how horrible the quality of the average cartoon show was. Wakko was my favorite character mainly because his clothes were the most colorful and he was the cutest among the Warner brothers (and the Warner sister).

Now when I was still watching the show regularly, I was this naive kid with a nonexistent sarcasm radar. Still, I remember being somewhat aware that Animaniacs was a parody of some sort. I thought that maybe I’d understand the jokes better “when I’m older.” Eight years later, I’m watching Wakko’s Wish and I think: “This is such a piece of crap.” The only thing that keeps me from turning it off is my desperation to remember the good old days.

First off, I still think the artwork is great. I still think Wakko is adorable. For a parody, though, there is nothing remotely funny about it. I didn’t even laugh once, and I’m the kind of person who laughs at everything. I think the producer (yes, Spielberg, I’m talking to you) is too concerned with trying to appeal to adults as well as to children. Well, I think if you’re making a movie for children you need to treat your targeted audience seriously. Enough with the inside jokes – parents who are stuck watching alongside their kids just need to grin and bear the kind of movie their kids are into.

Book 14: Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence) by Katherine Roberts (1999)

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I tried. I really did. But with names like Kherron and Rialle, and with bizarre terms like Challa and Aushan (italics not mine) . . . I just had to stop trying. Not worth the effort.

I can’t even begin to understand how one reviewer could say this book is “[f]or the child who keeps asking for the next Harry Potter.” It’s nothing like Harry Potter. At all. For one thing: Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all English names. For another: any foreign words in a Harry Potter books are usually readable nevertheless.

I really don’t want to use any brain cells on a fantasy book just trying to pronounce the names. Period.

Book 12: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)

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This is such a cute book. Percy is such a cute boy. I think it could’ve been better if the Greek Mythology weren’t directly involved. Centaurs and satyrs (and dragons) have been such accepted figures in a typical fantasy story that they could’ve existed in this book without any direct reference to the gods. Anyone, one shouldn’t write about characters like Zeus and Athena. They’re such known characters that if you mess around with them their fans are not going to like you very much.

Another thing is the copy I had (the paperback one with the green cover) had a good chunk of the book missing. So I returned that one and got another copy – only to later find out that it had the exact same miserable pages missing. So now I’m going to get a completely different version before I can complain even more about this book.

Edit: Hm, okay. So apparently there’s going to be Lightning Thief the movie. I’ve been getting a lot of hits from those keywords. I already got a new copy, by the way. I just haven’t had the time to finish it yet.

Edit#2: OMG, OMG, I finally finished this book on August 23, 2007!!1! Maybe if I didn’t pause midway I would’ve appreciated the story as much as I did when I first read it. It just becomes stupider and stupider towards the end, I don’t know. I maintain that a modern writer shouldn’t play around with archaic characters. I hope the movie will be able to pull it off. Thanks everyone who has googled the movie, come across this page, and enlightened me about its existence in the process.

Book 10: Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams (2005)

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I may not know anything about mystery, but I know terrible writing when I see one. Ingrid is one of the most one-dimensional characters I’ve ever encountered. She’s thirteen (or eleven – I may be confusing her with another character of a book I recently read), but she doesn’t sound like one at all. I find it really hard to relate to her the way I could easily relate to other female protagonists in a juvenile novel. I’m not even sure if this book qualified to be a juvenile novel (my library marks it as one). You can definitely tell that the narrative is written by an adult male who has no idea how it’s like to be a teenage girl. This book should probably be a book for adults about children, or something. I may appreciate it when I’m older, but not now.