Category: General

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

It’s been over a month since I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I received as an advance birthday gift from Philip on the day it was released, together with a hardbound copy of its predecessor, “Half-Blood Prince”. The six books that preceded the finale had set the stage for a wildly popular book that took a decade to provide an answer to the question, “Will Harry Potter die?” Answer: Yes and No.

I’m a Potter fan, so my take on the book is a little biased. However, the popularity of this piece of fantasy is not without merit. JK Rowling delivered a dark, exciting, and ultimately, a heartwarming conclusion to the saga of The Boy Who Lived.

Deathly Hallows ties all the loose ends of the previous books, with the young hero beginning to understand the source of his power which gives him the strength to engage in a climactic duel with the Dark Lord. This page-turner leaves the reader asking for more with every exciting encounter of Harry Potter with friends, the Order, the dead, the Death Eaters and Voldemort, and its nearly too bad that Rowling has no plans to extend the story of Harry Potter. A lexicon is coming up soon to provide background information about the Harry Potter universe, and, perhaps, how each of the characters that we have come to love or hate end up.

Never has a series so captured the fascination not only of a generation that grew up with the book’s central characters, but also that of an older one’s that has managed to keep the magic within and see the world as Harry does–all the sacrifices, the challenges, the hopes and ultimately, love–which push the young fictional hero towards greatness and his place in literary and publishing history.

JK Rowling created a magical world that was clearly inspired by the realities of everyday muggle living. Never has love been more emphasized in a book of fiction than in Harry Potter, and “Deathly Hallows” affirms that one does not need a wand to show how it is the best kind of magic that muggles and wizards, pure-bloods and mix-bloods, can conjure.

Rowling unabashedly used references to certain aspects of characterization and situations in other popular fantasy sagas, such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, David Copperfield, and at some point, even The Secret Garden (at least, its Broadway musical). Dumbledore proves that every young hero needs an experienced and wise wizard to guide him through treacherous times. On the other hand, the Weasley couple become parent figures to the twice-orphaned Harry. The inclusion of father/family figures, the central character being an orphan, well-meaning characters of humble backgrounds, sidekicks or a posse of fans and best friends, and love triangles set in a background of adventurous travels, and communities that have their own sets of customs and biases are common among popular novels. In other words, what made Harry Potter successful have already been used in other popular works of fiction: the battle between good and evil, the alliance among species, and, something that I feel strongly about, the racial issues that focus on whether one’s being pure-blood is better than being of mixed origins.

There are also a number of similarities between objects that are being fought over by good and evil in both Potter and LOTR books. For one, a horcrux, which can affect the behavior of its keeper/wearer, appears nothing short of being inspired by The One Ring. Remember how it ensnares its keeper? Moreover, these horcruxes are also where Voldemort saved his soul should anything in his plan to dominate the wizarding world (e.g., failing to kill a toddler) fail. And so in both books, the only way to ensure the death of the villain is to destroy these artifacts.

Every dark lord has a band of thugs to do his bidding, mostly not out of ardor but of fear. Their powers are so entwined that a failure by one means a rehashing of the plan or ultimately, the death of the big evil guy. If LOTR has the nazguls and orcs, then HP has Death Eaters and Dementors.

And just when I thought that Harry, Ron and Hermione would be spared the journey, they had to join Harry’s seemingly never-ending quest and camp in a number of forests scattered all over Britain. Surely, Harry would have died halfway through the story if not for his loyal friends. But the best help he got, one that he neither expected nor appreciate at first, was the one from Severus Snape. The character proved to be the series’ dark horse in spite of the proclamations by other characters that if Dumbledore trusted him, then it was enough. This further means that except for a chapter in each of the books, the story unravels nearly entirely from the point of view of Harry. No one knows for sure that role that Snape has played, nor whether Harry dies, until towards the end.

He does, but then again, he doesn’t.

Get in the zone???

I came across one of the silliest marketing gimmicks online via Arnold’s blog. Lipton’s Getinthezone.ph is a half-hearted, half-baked attempt at using the Web as a marketing venue.

Get in the zone dot ph

For one, it is only meant to come up with a site that featured “mavens” from various fields, such as music, film making, design, photography, entrepreneurship and journalism. I very much doubt that they should be considered mavens at all–except for two –and I don’t think that they are the best in, or best representatives for, their fields.

But let’s talk first about the site and its flaws.

First, the site is user un-friendly. While the aesthetics is something to behold, with its funky vector-y design, flash doesn’t cut well when it comes to loading time and SEO-friendliness.

Second, it is a forum site with too little conversation going on. The forum or “Maven Talk” is a half-baked effort to get people to communicate with the “mavens”. It even looks like those who posted questions were either from (1) the PR or Advertising company that handled the online promotional gig, (2) the web development team, or (3) some fans. I sort of tracked one of the persons involved in making the site and that person posted one of the questions in the sparse forum. Moreover, the forum index pages do not show the latest dates of the posts. And how the heck would people know that those who answered their questions were indeed the “mavens” themselves?

The profiles of these “mavens” on MySpace, Friendster and Yahoo Groups have more and/or better content than the funky but nearly useless effort. It doesn’t excite me and doesn’t get me into the zone. It’s funny that one of the forum posters recommended that maybe s/he might as well drink coffee instead. Haha!

So, here are a number of unsolicited tips to whoever was behind the zone project, thingy, whatever.

  1. Get the “mavens” to post answers and engage the forum members in a meaningful exchange of opinions. Answering inquiries is not a one-time deal even if Lipton paid them to appear only once on the site. It doesn’t hurt to self-promote, especially in showbiz.
  2. Promote, promote, promote the site through search marketing (Example: Google Adwords), link-baiting and link-building. Invite bloggers to post about the site.
  3. Have those “mavens” mention the site in their columns, blogs, social networks and mailing lists.
  4. Make the site highly interactive and encourage networking by members not only with the “mavens” but also among themselves. Hire a firm that specializes in building social networks.
  5. Allow “mavens” to post content—articles, photos, videos, music, etc.,–on a regular basis, and make sure that these content may be shared (i.e., embedded) on other web pages, such as blogs and networking profiles. This group is composed of a film maker, a writer, a designer, a photographer, musicians. These people produce content and they have loads of ideas. They should share these both for the success of the zone project, as well as to promote their work. It’s one thing to have cred off-line and another on the web.
  6. Use viral marketing widgets, such as del.icio.us, RSS, etc.

See, never underestimate the value of the web as a marketing channel. Coming up with a flash-based site that does not add value to the time that people spend trying to figure it out is a waste of resources. That is sooo circa 1999; before the crash of Web 1.0. It’s like drinking stale tea.

We are in the Web 2.0 era now. That is the approach that Lipton and its online partner should take to make this project successful. Anyway, if your typical worker wants to get in the zone, the last thing that they should do is surf the ‘net. Haven’t you heard that mindless browsing is one of the top time-wasters among workers?

PS: Jake Verzosa is absolutely one of the best photographers out there. Now, this guy is a maven.

Thirty

Thanks to everyone who remembered. Here’s to all of you who have kept the journey fun and worthwhile.

Survey says…

First name?
Karla

Were you named after anyone?
No one. My mom was scrambling for a name and only came up with one at the last minute.

When did you last cry?
I don’t want to think about it. It was really sad.

Do you like your handwriting?
Sometimes. My handwriting normally depends on the pen that I’m using.

What is your favourite lunch meat?
Pork, beef and fish (any fish!)

Kids?
None yet, but I’d like to have one…or two.

If you were another person would you be friends with you?
You kiddin’? I love me. I adore me. I am awed by me. Hehe.

Have a journal?
I’ve been thinking of having a pen-and-paper journal, but for now I guess I’d put my thoughts in blogs.

Do you still have your tonsils?
Yeah. Never had any reason to have it removed.

Would you bungee jump?
I’d love to, but I’m scared.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Yes. I usually tie my shoelaces really tightly, so I have to untie them first before moving my shoes.

Favourite song at the moment?
“Real Girl” by Mutya Buena of Sugababes

Are you a strong person?
I’d like to think so. With all the troubles and challenges that I’ve subjected myself into, it’s a little impossible for me to not muster enough strength and gain some wisdom about life’s many travails.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Rocky Road and Black Forrest.

The first thing you notice about people?
If they are the kind who put others down. I can usually tell their level of self esteem by how they treat other people. Those who put others down are the very ones who have no reasons to honestly feel good about themselves.

Red or pink?
Red.

What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
Pass!

Who do you miss the most?
Lots!

What colour shoes are you wearing?
Black leather loafers with white threading.

The last thing you ate?
Steamed rice, lechon macau and veggies at lunch.

What are you listening to right now?
“Real Girl” by Mutya Buena and “Another White Dash” by Butterfly Boucher.

If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Red.

Favourite smell?
Clinique Happy. Freshly-brewed coffee. Chamomile tea.

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
A headhunter.

Drink?
My morning barako brew. Unsweetened caffe latte and chamomile tea from Starbucks, any fruit shake from Big Chill

Favourite sport to watch?
Badminton, what else? Okay, add figure skating because it’s entertaining. Tennis.

Hair colour?
Black with streaks of dark brown (I never colored my hair, but salon people usually accuse me of coloring it.)

Eye colour?
Black.

Do you wear contacts?
Nope. I wear glasses.

Favourite food?
Seafood, pasta, veggie salad. Chocolate cake, fruit shake, fried calamares from North Park.

Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings.

Last movie you watched?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

What colour shirt are you wearing?
Charcoal black

Summer or winter?
Spring

Favourite dessert?
Banana

What book(s) are you reading?
Harry Potter 5, 6 and 7; The 48 Laws of Power

What’s on your mouse pad?
nothing. It’s black leather with Enderun stamped on it.

What did you watch last night on TV?
Late night news on CNN.

Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Oasis.

Do you have special talents?
Hmmm…where should we start? Singing, dancing, writing poems and short stories

Where were you born?
a place some 118 kilometers north of Manila.