confessions of a selfaholic











{June 21, 2010}  

i am baaaaack! after two months of hiatus, i welcome myself back to the blogging world. why my absence? i was preoccupied lately in a ‘positive’ way (wink, wink) but last night, i woke up and suddenly, jumbled thoughts started springing into my head, wanting to be put into writing. it was like an epiphany of sorts that i had to update my abandoned blog.

*****

over the past month or so, i went gaga over the post season of NBA. i rooted for the celtics in the east and the lakers in the west. it was a dream come true for me to have them play against each other on the finals because i liked them both. but in the end, i can only truly cheer for one team and my heart went to the lakers, the 2010 NBA champions. whoohoo! it was so intense, man. i actually didn’t watch much of game 7 because it was so nerve wracking for me. i only caught the last 7 minutes or so of the 4th quarter. by then, the lakers had already closed on the early lead by the celtics. and thank God for the DVR because i was able to watch the whole thing after.

basketball is one of the few sports that i truly understand. i started watching it when i was young but i never got to fully appreciate it until mid-90s which i refer to as the glory days of my being a basketball fan. it was at that time when i was so much into the sports with UP Maroons (of UAAP), Alaska Aces (of PBA) and Chicago Bulls of NBA) making up my so-called fan life.  i frequented the UAAP games as i untiringly cheered for paolo mendoza of UP Maroons. i even went to one of their games at the araneta coliseum, all by myself after a class field trip (although i found some friends inside). my elder and sister and i, being big alaska fans that we were, also saw live PBA games. i remember when we stood in line very early in the morning to get tickets for a finals game between alaska and ginebra in 1996. oh boy, those were happy days! that was the year when alaska won the grand slam. it was also the time of michael jordan and the bulls dynasty in NBA and needless to say, there was obviously so much to look forward to and to celebrate.

i am fortunate to have found raj who like me, shares the same enthusiasm in basketball. when my elder sister left for the US, it was raj who became my constant companion in PBA games. he too was an alaska fan so there was never a conflict. we both liked the same teams and just recently, the two of us were together in cheering for the lakers (against everyone in our family who were all celtics fans). now the NBA is over and i’m going through withdrawal period, hence this entry.



{April 13, 2010}   another german invasion

i am alive. and on that note, below is a funny read. click the image to enlarge it. heidi klum will be pleased.



the harry potter theme park in orlando, florida will finally open on june 18th. as early as now, my sister, my husband and i are already planning our trip to orlando being the devout fans that we are. but i’m pretty sure we’re not the only people in this planet who are busy making plans.

last year, i read harry: a history by melissa who is known in the harry potter world as the lucky-fan-who-gets-the-chance-to-interview-the-great-j.k.-rowling. after reading the book, i realized that there are hundreds of others who are more hard-core than i am and i’m not sure if i should feel happy and relieved (i am normal, after all) or if i should be sad and disappointed (that i wasn’t able to attend many big events that gathered all HP lovers). nonetheless, i am extremely proud that i was a part of this global phenomenon not because of peer pressure, but because of my personal devotion and unwavering support to the series. and, i have my own list of crazy things i’ve done all for the love of harry potter:

– when i left manila for japan, i traveled with my books (the first three in paperback and the hardbound copy of GoF). this wasn’t the last time i traveled with them. they were in my luggage when i moved from japan to hawaii in 2005 (this time with hardbound copies of OotP and HBP); from hawaii to NY the same year; from NY to california in 2006; from california back to NY in 2007. suffice to say, harry potter is a proof to my nomadic existence for the past years. unfortunately, i was not able to bring the books with me this year when i moved from NY to hawaii. my books are in a secure storage unit for now. but i shall get them back, one day soon.

– i was in japan when OotP and HBP were released in 2003 and in 2005, respectively. i coaxed my elder sister into letting me use her credit card so i can order online from amazon japan. although COD was an accepted delivery method in amazon japan, i didn’t want to take the risk of not getting my book on the same day of its release. i also thought i would be in the priority list since mine was pre-paid.

– i spent the summer after HBP was released reading r/hr fanfics and in between re-reading the 6 books. raj was in tokyo during this time for his annual kumon job so i really had nothing going on for myself. discovering fandom exposed me to many great works about the HP world. to this day, i still read, look at fan arts and watch fan videos, not as much as before but the urge is still there from time to time.

– when the first movie (SS) was released, (i was in manila at the time), i told my boss that i was going to the bank although the truth was i hailed a cab, went to the nearest theater (power plant) and purchased movie tickets for a screening slated that night. i thought that because i went about 30 minutes before the box office opened, i would be the first in line. boy, i was wrong. there was a long queue of HP fans like me who can’t wait to see the movie. luckily, the service was fast and i managed to get back to the office after an hour or so.

– i was in japan when the second movie (Cos) was shown and i had to beg my host mother to drive me (and raj) to the nearest movie house. fortunately, she had an 8-year old son so i didn’t have a hard time egging her.

– i was in the US for my sister’s graduation when the third movie (PoA) came out so naturally, I was able to see it on its first day of release. i watched it the second time back in japan, never mind if the cost of the ticket was too pricey for a regular student that i was back then.

– i was already back in the US (for good) when the fourth in the series (GoF) was released and in a spur of the moment decision, i had raj lined up for tickets for the midnight showing of the movie. this was the first midnight screening i ever attended and i learned that the best way to watch a harry potter film was to be with the company of avid readers who would appreciate every single nuance in the film compared to a mere movie goer. we watched the film three more times after.

– i bought a ron shirt online (from hot topic) after watching the movie but it took me at least 2 years to finally wear the shirt because i considered it a sacrilege to do so. of course, when i finally decided to use the shirt, the print was already outdated so i just used it at home.

-i watched the fifth movie by myself on the first day of its release. i wasn’t able to catch the midnight screening because raj was back in manila at that time and i had no one to accompany me. the screening for 7pm was sold out so I had to wait for the next one which was not until past 9. even though i was in the middle of a long line, i still had the best seat ever because i was alone ( and usually people who watch movies together tend to leave a vacant seat to be apart from the others). i saw it again a few days after and then a couple of weeks later at an imax theatre in las vegas.

– i attended the midnight release of the 7th and final book at barnes and noble in union square along with my office pal robert and his two french buddies. the atmosphere was so great with the presence of hundreds of fans, many of whom dressed up for the occasion. a couple of television cameras were there to vigil with the crowd. i purchased my own copy even though raj already pre-ordered the book for me a year prior to the release date. it was scheduled to be delivered by amazon a few hours later but my impatience, and my love for harry, got the better of me.

-i didn’t get inside barnes until past 3am, thereafter i went home by myself as robert and his friends were going to a different direction. i braved the subway and the long walk from the station to our apartment all for the 7th book. i tried not to open the book while on the subway because i wanted to savor the moment when i finally do it. when i got home, i started reading immediately and had a hard time putting the book down. i slept only for an hour and read the whole day, with breaks in between so i can cry wholeheartedly (opened my reservoir of tears on the chapter 19, the silver doe, in particular) and mourn for the death of my most loved characters (RIP fred weasley).

– i have two copies of DH – the one that i bought from barnes and the other was delivered by amazon on the same day that the book was first released.  to this day, the latter copy remains sealed in the special harry potter box by amazon. it is my hope that one day, it will sell as much as the first edition of alice in wonderland ($40,000 in a recent auction).

– for the sixth film, i went to the midnight screening with raj and my younger sister. i purchased the tickets via fandango.com a month before the movie release. we watched it again after a couple of days and then caught its imax version as soon as it became available. i also bought 2 shirts at hot topic for the occasion. i still have to wear the one with ron in it.

– i reference harry potter a lot. it’s a part of my daily vocabulary. SIRIUSly.

to say that i am excited is an understatement but i still need to iron a few things before the much-awaited trip to the harry theme park materializes. for now, i say bring on the weasleys’ wildfire whiz-bangs for some major fireworks to celebrate, and some butterbeer as we toast to harry potter.



{March 17, 2010}   excuses, excuses

i finished reading frank mccourt’s teacher man last week.  mccourt is an inspiration to me because his future looked so bleak and hopeless when he was a young boy in ireland as he wittily narrates in his memoir angela’s ashes. but he triumphed over poverty and adversities in his hometown and went on to become a well-loved teacher and a celebrated pulitzer price winning author.

teacher man documents the rich and vast experience of mccourt as a high school english teacher in new york city. no small feat in a blackboard jungle of teenagers if i may say so. like his two other books angela’s ashes and ’tis, teacher man is a funny and yet a genius read not only for teachers like the author, but more importantly for students because it shows  the human side of teachers.

one of my favorite parts in teacher man is when he tells the readers how he uses the lame excuse letters that his students wrote with forged signature of their parents to explain their absence or their failure to submit the homework, in order to teach imaginative writing and to squeeze the creative juices of his students. in particular, he asks them to write ‘an excuse note from adam to god’ or ‘an excuse note from eve to god’. their class discussion on writing excuse letters goes on to include other historical figures like eva braun, judas, attila the hun, lee harvey oswald and al capone.

***

drawing inspiration from mccourt’s class, i will now attempt to write excuse letters for some celebrities.

excuse note from ninoy aquino to the filipino people [on kris aquino]:

i am very sorry for the preposterous behavior of my youngest child. i believe this stems from the fact that she was used to having all the attention of the entire family to herself. i am aware that she’s been saying a lot of imprudent things on air and has been involved in countless, often too personal to even divulge, dramas and controversies. but that, i guess, is the price you have to pay for the democracy which cory and i bravely fought for. at least, you can switch channels when my daughter starts blabbing about her private life.

excuse note from angelina jolie to jennifer aniston

i’m sorry for being the biggest bitch in the world and stealing brad from you.  what was i supposed to do? deny the feelings? i’m sorry that you can’t give him a child while i’ve already given him 3 excluding our adopted kids. but i wish you peace and happiness that you deserve, and a man that would love you for who you are. now, if you can just move on with your life. ta!

excuse note from imelda marcos to the filipino people:

i am sorry if you are jealous of my shoe collection. you’ve always pointed it out as if it is a flaw when it’s one of those things that put the philippines in world map. who else has 3000 1,060+ shoes in their closet? ok, maybe carrie bradshaw of sex and the city fame but i probably inspired her anyway. i only wanted us to be called the shoe capital of the world but since you ruthlessly ousted us from office, i was not able to push through with this grand plan. nonetheless, thank  you for giving us your wealth and paying for my shoe collection. you did know that, didn’t you?



{March 2, 2010}   muy bien (or not)

the philippine daily inquirer recently reported that spain and the philippines signed an agreement on the spanish language:

Spain will help the Philippines reintroduce Spanish language instruction at public schools in the southeastern Asian country under an agreement signed Tuesday between the two nations.

The study of the language is currently voluntary at public high schools in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, but the government plans to make its availability widespread from 2012.

Under the agreement signed Tuesday, Madrid will help train Spanish language teachers in the Philippines, help develop the curriculum and provide electronic teaching aids as well as technical advice, the Spanish foreign ministry said…

while the strenuous attempt to make the filipino youth trilingual (filipino, english and spanish) in this era of rapid globalization and rampant immigration to foreign soil is in itself commendable, i have personal concerns on re-introducing the spanish language as a mandatory subject in high school.

for one, the quality of education in the philippines is already declining as it is. adding another subject to the curriculum may do more harm than good at this point in time. the government should first focus on cultivating the learning abilities of the students in the core areas. they should prioritize on improving math, science, history and english in the elementary level before implementing spanish as a subject in high school. they should also develop the cognitive abilities of the students at an early age because by so doing, it becomes easier for the latter to learn and understand spanish in a relatively more rapid pace.

second, although the spanish government has pledged assistance to training teachers of the language,  learning the language per se is also a pressing issue at hand. how long will the training last before the teachers reach the required competence level? how many teachers can be trained with the allotted budget?  will there be enough language instructors to supply all high schools in the entire country? or, is this going to be another cause of disparity between private and public high schools with the former getting all the benefits because they are able to offer enough remuneration to the well-trained spanish teachers? will the government have enough budget to pay the wages of these instructors? is this an equitable program for both urban and rural, even far-flung areas? learning spanish like every other subject in school should be a right, and not a mere privilege for the few.

third, will a daily use of the language supplement the classroom training ? i studied intensive spanish, grammar and all that, in college for one semester. i got high marks in the class but eventually, i forgot everything i learned because it had no use after finishing the course.  learning a language isn’t just about memorizing the vocabulary or knowing how to conjugate the verbs; comprehension also involves communication in all facets including listening and speaking. an hour class will not suffice. the whole environment should be conducive to learning.  i remember back in my elementary and high school days when speaking english even outside of the classrooms was compulsory as part of the learning process. but it wasn’t just this that contributed to enhancing my skills as an english speaker, it was the fact that english was used daily in most of our core subjects, in mass media that were readily accessible  and in the proliferation of everything western that was for public consumption. are such tools available to augment the learning process?

fourth,  is there a practical use to being a fluent spanish speaker? the agreement should encompass more than just learning the language in schools. it should bring about direct incentive in order to motivate students to pursue learning. learning english in the philippines, that i very much understand its significance. after all, english is the medium of instruction and communication in the country. it is a universal language and being fluent in english enables the filipinos to become truly global citizens and to compete along side people of other nationalities with the same level of proficiency, or whose native tongue is english. it allows them to seek better educational and work opportunities elsewhere in the world. arguably, spanish is also a widely spoken language across the globe but where the opportunities to benefit from spanish are available should also be taken into account in the agreement. in simpler and more direct terms, the spanish government should also promise employment, more white collar jobs for filipinos who can speak fluent language. ultimately, we want to see positive results from learning spanish.

lastly, requiring to learn spanish can lead to the deterioration of our filipino language even more. the national language is already corrupted as it is with the widespread use of taglish or the mix of tagalog and english words in daily conversations, made even worse by the birth of text language which for the record, i totally hate. i admit to be a perpetrator of this taglish code switching at least in casual conversations because it is more convenient and it comes more naturally than using lengthy and profound tagalog terms. when i learned japanese, i also infused japanese words into my taglish habit of conversing  to anyone who understands the three languages. it wouldn’t be surprising to hear spantaglish or the blend of spanish-tagalog-english therefore if it’ll make the conversations simpler, easier and more fun. on the other hand, filipino is already peppered with many spanish words that we borrowed from the language and that we use on a daily basis that the effects would probably be minimal compared to what taglish has done.

to sum up, i am all for teaching multilingualism among students but the government should focus on improving first the overall quality of education. the program should be accessible to every student in the country. classroom training should be supplemented  and knowledge should be complemented with practical use. language proficiency should translate into better work opportunities in the future. and, the preservation of our national language should be kept in mind even while we strive to learn another  language.



{March 1, 2010}   book whore alert

in an effort to stay true to my new year’s resolution, that is be even more of a voracious reader than i already was, i am keeping track of the books that i have read thus far.

here’s the list of the books that i have devoured the past two months.

january

  • only love by erich segal
  • on chesil beach by ian mcewan
  • marley and me by john grogan
  • boomsday by christopher buckley
  • percy jackson & the olympians: the lightning thief by rick riordan

book of the month: boomsday. it’s an interesting, funny and witty look at the state of american politics. i swear there are plenty of laughs in stored for you even if you know nothing about the US or politics or both.

february

  • american fuji by sara backer
  • percy lightning & the olympians: the sea of monsters by rick riordan
  • the reader by bernhard schlink

boo of the month: yes, you read that right. it’s boo for blech. hands down to the sea of monsters. reading it made me felt like i was being drowned to the bottom of the ocean by the sea of monsters themselves. luckily, i had my life vest on.



{February 24, 2010}   become a fan

my facebook friend ehm became a fan of ‘hindi porket mag-aasawa ka ng kano, ibig sabihin yayaman ka na. asa ka!’ i found that funny so i immediately commented under this activity of hers and asked if there is ‘hindi porket mag-aasawa ka ng kano, ibig sabihin maganda ka’.

i was inspired by this so i thought of making more of these tags (or clubs or pages, whatever you call it).

i apologize if these already exist in facebook. i never explore that much. i am not a fan of ‘become a fan’ thing and as such, i am not completely sure if these pages have already been created. it is not my intention to steal ideas from others. these are all my own pet peeves or what have you based on my friends’ status updates. here are some i thought of:

  • pa-english english pa, mali naman ang grammar
  • parang soap opera ang ka-dramahan mo, eh kung banlawan kita ng ice cold water
  • sa corny ng posts mo, malapit na kitang i-hide
  • tama na ang pa-profound effect. nabasa ko na ‘yan
  • ‘te, ang jologs mo. mag-friendster ka na lang
  • puro na lang tungkol sa alak ang posts mo, magpa-rehab ka na
  • hindi porke’t out of the country ka, sosyal ka na
  • ni-recycle mo lang ang status update mo nung isang araw.
  • non-sequitur ang sentences mo. ewan sa’yo.
  • anong pakialam ko sa schedule mo for the day, personal secretary mo ba ako?

as much as some status updates annoy me, i must admit  they amuse me and apparently, inspire me. in fact, i have always wanted to write a blog entry on ‘tell me your status update and i’ll tell you who you are’. maybe next time. but i don’t want to appear as a condescending snob. ultimately, it’s all about freedom of speech and i totally respect that. so now i shut up.



{February 23, 2010}   i heart TFC

my husband’s cousin recently posted a question in her facebook about the significance and cons of TFC (the filipino channel) in the lives of filipinos living abroad. this was my reply to her:

significance

– it brings us closer to home in more ways than one. the medium does not only allow us to see the local shows that we could have missed by being away or to keep abreast of the latest happenings in the country, but more than that, TFC serves as a link between two separate worlds. if we were all characters in the hit series lost (sorry to the non-fans), TFC could be our variable.

– it allows us to appreciate our cultural heritage, embrace it and makes us experience a unique sense of homecoming. the array of programming in TFC – soaps, news, documentaries, game shows, variety shows, reality-based, talk shows, children and family, lifestyle, etc – is a reflection and a reminder of who we are and what we are as a nation.   and in a nutshell, we are a nation of entertainers.

– it bridges the cultural gap between parents and second generation immigrants. this goes back to the fact that TFC enables us to learn more about our culture and language, and in so doing allows foreign-born filipinos (the term used here to identify ethnic lineage and not the nationality per se) to understand the values, attitudes and ways, even the idiosyncrasies rooted from the cultural upbringing of their immigrant parents.

– in a way, it enhances our identity as an ethnic group and as a target market. we have our own international channel to be proud of, and that cable companies around the world have carried the TFC channel speaks volume about the purchasing capacity of overseas filipinos. we even have mickey d’s advertisements on TFC.

cons

– the shows are addicting that TFC subscribers forget about the other cable channels. consequently, they don’t get to maximize what they pay for because their TV is  always tuned in to TFC. imagine having 100+ cable channels and watching TFC shows most of the day while paying over 100 gran every month. ack! that’s how i feel when i think about it but then again, thank the stars for the DVR. at least, there’s a way to see the shows from other channels.

– the shows continue to propagate negative cultural traits and we find a reason to justify these inculcated values (‘Eh kasi Pinoy ako’) instead of deconstructing them.

P.S.

let it be stated here that we are kapamilya, except maybe for my dad who watches eat bulaga on pinoy TV. yes, we do have pinoy TV because my dad wanted it for himself but other than that, this channel (otherwise known as kapuso or GMA-7) has of no use to us but for bashing their so-called stars whose names and faces we hardly remember.



i’ve told myself over and over again never to judge a movie by its book but i keep repeating the same mistake, always to a fault. the film adaptation of percy jackson and the olympians: the lightning thief is no exception. and this is why i ended up disappointed after watching it.

as i said in my book review below, the lightning thief has all the elements of a good fiction and in fact, i thought there was a conscious effort from the author to turn the book into a movie with the combination of its action-packed narrative and intriguing twists and turns driven by a mix of extraordinary and yet still relatable characters and literally out-of-this-world creatures. it is therefore interesting to see why there was a need to re-write the plot when they could have easily lifted it from the book and condensed it into a two-three hour film as faithfully as possible.

i was confident that chris colombus would stay true to the book’s content. after all, he directed the first two harry potter films which to me, were the closest adaptation in the series thus far. but the discrepancies between the book and the movie are very much apparent that it’s not difficult to overlook them, but more importantly the deviation somehow attenuates the very core of the book.

firstly, it fails to capture the essence of camp half-blood as one of the primary settings. my main criticism on the book is that it does not allow its readers to create a distinct parallel universe and what’s little of it in the book, i.e. the camp half blood, is not even given much screen time as it should have had. sure, we see glimpses of the camp per se; the other demigods, the satyrs, the centaurs and the other strange beings that make up the myths; the classes that take place like archery and sword-fighting; and, even percy’s cabin. but it fails to be the training ground that it is for percy in the book. we don’t see him understanding the true nature of his quest, or learning the prophecy of the oracle, or honing his swording skills with luke’s aid, or directly interacting with his fellow half-bloods apart from luke and annabeth.

second, most of the major characters are two-dimensional. annabeth is the daughter of athena, goddess of wisdom but we don’t get that impression from the movie if she didn’t explicitly state it. she could have passed as the offspring of ares, the god of war, what with her bold stance and exceptional dueling ability. in the book however, we see her past beyond the brave front. she is also bookish and almost always has the answers for everything. the parallelism between annabeth and hermione granger of the harry potter series is visible in the book, something which i don’t quite like and yet ironically, i find it wanting in the film. in addition, we also feel her loneliness in the book having stayed in the campyear-round with no family to go home to. chiron is another example of this flimsy portrayal. he is more than a centaur professor to percy, at least that’s how it is in the book. he is the lone voice of reason, similar although still incomparable to the likes of dumbledore and gandalf. the depth and magntitude of his character are significantly diminished. why does he not explain in the film america as the current home of the gods and goddesses, it being the present-day cradle of western civilization. why can’t he be the mentor that he supposedly is? his character is only memorable as his horse ass.

third, the movie lacks the gamut of emotions that we get to feel from the book. in particular, i am disappointed to how the movie revealed that percy is the son of poseidon. it is a big scene to me in the book, perhaps its main highlight. even though i already had strong suspicions that percy is sired by the god of sea, i was still deeply moved when a trident appears above percy’s head as a sign that poseidon claims. and being that he is a son of the big three, all the campers kneel in front of him in awe and reverence after the revelation. in contrast, the movie discloses this piece of information in a straightforward manner such that it does not ensue any strong reaction from the audience. it could have been a ‘gasp’, or at least an ‘oh’ moment of the film, but it’s not. even the characters in the movie seem to be unaffected too by the fact that percy is the son of a higher god, whereas in the book, most of his fellow half-bloods shied away from him. being alone in his cabin makes us ache for his isolation even while marveling at his eminence.

fourth, the plot twists are not as well established and elaborate as in the book. who stole the lightning bolt of zeus? that was pretty much the question that runs through the heads of the audience. of course, i knew it is luke all along having read the book before watching the film. but this treacherous act of luke has greater impact in the book because he was more than just a camp leader to percy. he is his dueling trainer and in the process becomes his friend. moreover, the oracle in the book warns percy that he ‘shall be betrayed by one who calls (you) a friend’ and so the readers look for any possible signs of betrayal from people who are close to percy. it all leads up to the climax when percy discovers that luke is the lightning thief after all. in the film, percy is hardly friends with luke. the idea to ask his help before they leave on a quest comes from annabeth. even us, the viewers did not get enough time to spend with him and establish a connection with him so when he is revealed as the true villain in the film, there is no empathy on luke for being framed up and all that. we look at two teenagers fighting for the lightning bolt instead of two demigods breaking their bond of loyalty and friendship.

having said all these criticisms, the movie per se is not bad. if i am to judge it on its own merit without comparing it from the original literature and keeping in mind that the target audience are the children, then the lightning thief is indeed a delightful and enjoyable adventure kid flick. however, i hope that the audience, especially the young ones, do get more out of the movie than pure entertainment. i fervently wish that the film motivates them to pick up the book if they haven’t yet, or to read other books of similar genre, because we shouldn’t limit our imagination on what the eyes can see. there are plenty of worlds to explore, stories and plots to unravel, characters to meet and lessons to be learned that a 2- or 3- hour long movie often cannot give justice to.



{February 1, 2010}   when lightning strikes

i finished reading percy jackson & the olympians: the lightning thief last night, in time before the movie opens two weeks from now. the book which is the first of the five-part series by rick riordan, is about the 12-year old percy jackson who discovers that he is a demigod, son of sea god poseidon to a mortal woman and his quest to prevent the three big gods from declaring war against each other. the series is actually based on classic greek mythology although set in the present day heart of western civilization that is america and driven by modern-faced heroes.

i was initially wary to read the book because being the hardcore harry potter and lord of the rings fan that i am, i know that i would always compare fantasy books or similar genres to the latter two. it’s hard not to especially when the book’s first line has ‘half-blood’ in it (oh hello, professor snape!) and the lightning itself reminds us of the scar of harry potter. at some point, i also felt like the camp half-blood which is the training ground for the demigods is a cross between hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardy and xavier institute for higher learning of x-men. i can probably name many more parallels between harry potter and the lightning thief but i let it pass for now. i have come to accept that because rowling was also inspired by classic literature while writing harry potter whether consciously or not, it is therefore not impossible to see the glaring intertexuality at play, especially since riordan premeditatively derived his series from greek mythology. in short, both of them used the same inspiration.

in addition, i feared that the novel would not live up to my standards and i would end up utterly disappointed. sometimes, media hype, and even the label new york times bestseller’s list , can be entirely deceiving. the more publicity, the higher my expectations. that’s how it usually works for me. but for all my biases and apprehensions, i decided to give the book a chance, to lower my expectations, and to read (and review) the book on its own merits.

the lightning thief in itself is a satisfying read. all the elements of a good fiction are present: the narrative is fast-paced and action-packed; the characters are intriguing and well fleshed; and, the settings are vividly described. i can truly see it being a commercially successful hollywood film that i sometimes wondered while reading the book if it was indeed the author’s intention to sell the story to film production outfits. the story is simple and easy to follow. one does not need a background on greek mythology to understand the whole concept and to be vastly entertained. the book after all, is primarily intended for kids and teens.

as mentioned above, the story is set in contemporary america and i think this is where my main nitpick of the book lies. it is too close to home to allow complete suspension of reality. most of the fantasy books i know have their own worlds to speak of which allow full escapism. i think this is the beauty of rowling’s harry potter and tolkien’s lord of the rings. hogwarts and middle earth are akin to a parallel universe to its legion of followers including me. they are accessible only through the deepest of our imaginations. on the other hand, percy jackson travels to some of the busiest cities in america like new york, los angeles and las vegas that the scenes somehow become too tangible to even allow one’s power of fancy to work. how can one allow fantasy to seethe in when the book tries to paint a world that is no different than the reality of everyday life?

also, the events are sometimes too contrived to my own liking.  i particularly dislike that chapter when the triumvirate of percy, annabeth and grover goes to las vegas and supposedly stays in a time-warped hotel. this screams fan fiction to me. no offense meant to riordan but i’ve read a few harry potter fan fictions much to my dismay, where the authors try to bring the harry potter characters into america and subject them to worldy pleasures which make the stories cheap and juvenile. i think america as the modern day home to gods and goddesses is like taking the easy way out. why the need to create a new realm when an existing one would suffice?

i also think that the book needs an authoritative figure who embodies wisdom and comfort in light of all the incidents that have taken place in the story. someone who would be harry potter’s dumbledore to percy jackson. never mind if this will result into another parallelism between the two books. a young adult book needs just this kind of person after the villains shows up, a friend betrays one’s trust or as the heart tries to mend itself.

despite my criticisms, i wouldn’t want to take away the book’s credit where it is fairly due. its attempt to bring greek mythology into the consciousness of the young readers is truly a commendable effort. not only that, it also inspires its audience, mostly the older ones, to delve further into the classic greek mythology. i, for one, admit that i know very little about the greek gods and goddesses but the lightning thief is pushing me to explore the depth of the myths, beyond the quests of percy jackson. more importantly, it encourages kids to once more turn to books, to be enthralled by the limitless possibilities of a curious mind and to learn the basic morals of life. in today’s world filled with game consoles, computers and other technological gadgets, a fantasy book like this one is a great reminder of what it’s like to live in wonder through the eyes of a child. and i would continue to read the whole series if only for this.



et cetera