Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, once again.

You know what I realized? I have been keeping this blog since late 2004, before I even had a laptop and stuff. Crazy.

Well the gift-giving is over, although according to Mum I do have two gifts still to open that she ordered online that didn't make it here before Christmas. And I don't know if I'll get anything from Aunt Jane and Uncle Bobbo, who aren't coming here for Christmas after all cause Uncle Bobbo had to have a surgery of some sort done.

Anyway giving gifts went well and my parents and brother liked what I got them. My brother really liked the Medal of Honor PC game I got him (in lieu of an Xbox game; I couldn't find any games for the normal Xbox at Target). My dad really liked the Amazing Grace book (which is about William Wilberforce, like the recent movie of that name) I got him, and my mom really loved her angel drop Li Bien ornament that I got her from the Pier 1 Imports by my work (which is painted from the inside using an ancient Chinese technique), which I am glad made it to Christmas since it was glass and I was terrified that it would fall and break before Christmas while it sat in my closet since the day I bought it (Black Friday).

Now for what I got (minus the two presents I don't have yet):

~ Fantastic 4 DVD (first one, not Silver Surfer, the one I asked for, but that's ok, I like the first one too, and I didn't already have it)
~ 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (a book I actually asked for for Christmas but didn't expect to actually get; I am happy I got it. It'll help with my writing).
~ 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them (another book I asked for)
~ The Daring Book for Girls (a book which is actually pretty cool; it's kind of a trivia book and a how-to book in one, done in an old-fashioned style).
~ The Secret Things of God (my brother got this too; it's a book by Henry Cloud, one of my mom's favorite authors, written in response to The Secret)
~ A pack of high-cut underwear
~ A pack of black socks (good for work)
~ Black semi-casual pants (for work)
~ A blue T-shirt with palm trees that says "San Diego"
~ A tan shirt that says "You are what you read" (it's kinda tight though...*sigh*)
~ "Much Ado About Nothings" Shakespearean Sticky Notes (quirky but fun)
~ Audio Daydream by Blake Lewis (a CD I really wanted, cause I liked Blake on American Idol and he finally came out with a CD).
~Shakespeare's Insults: Educating Your Wit (quite brother was reading some of them after I opened it...hilarious)
~ Final Fantasy XII: Relevant Wings for DS (ooh!)
~ AN IKEA DESK!!!! (yay...I knew I was getting this present but it's still cool)
~ Two CD storage boxes from Ikea, Motorp series (to go with my desk)
~ A three-box with Velcro desk set from Ikea, Motorp series (which matches the CD boxes and is to go with the desk)
~ A nice blue hoodie

All this, plus the stuff in my stocking: some little Twizzlers licorice, a box of Mentos, a Wonka bar, lotion (good for the dry hands I've been having lately cause of washing my hands so much at work), Blistex lip balm, a small purple gel pen, and a Life Savers Sweet Storybook (a stocking stuffer tradition in our family - every year at least one person gets one).

My brother got an iPod Classic and my dad an iPod Nano. I have a funny feeling that by next Christmas or birthday I'm gonna end up capitulating and asking for an iPod, because I have been resisting so far and buying cheaper music players, with the excuse that either iPods are too expensive or that I don't even have enough songs on my computer to make buying a music player that holds 1,100 songs (or whatever) worth it. But with all the CD's I've been buying recently (mainly for entertainment's sake or to try to find good songs for my fandub project) it might be worth it now, and with me making steady money now, I might be able to afford it. I could always buy it at like Wal-Mart or something where it might be cheaper. (The union I'm part of says you shouldn't patronize Wal-Mart, among other stores, cause they're not union, but I say that's stupid - I shopped at Wal-Mart before joining the UFCW, you think I'm gonna stop now?).

While wrapping presents last night, I decided to listen to a podcast. The main PotterCast page wouldn't come up, so I tried going to the main Leaky Cauldron page to get there and still couldn't. So I listened via iTunes, and the next one for me to listen to was...*drumroll* the first part of their exclusive interview with none other than J.K. ROWLING. Yep, you heard me. The one, the ONLY J.K. Rowling. As in the creator of Harry Potter. I had seen stuff about the interview on their site but hadn't heard the podcast yet, and I still felt chills when they called and, after talking to someone else (probably her husband), they got her, and she came on. The first thing she said was "This better not be about house-elves" (referring to the debate between John and Sue of PotterCast about whether Helga Hufflepuff, who Sue adores, who was in charge of the Hogwarts kitchens in the founding days of the school, enslaved the house-elves who work there now - which they had brought to JKR's attention when they got to talk to her before her Carnegie Hall reading).

The interview was very cool. I was particularly happy when JKR said that Hermione went back to school and finished out the year and took her N.E.W.T.'s (Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests), the test you take at the end of your 7th year at Hogwarts (apparently J.K. Rowling has an interesting sense of humor to call the tests "Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests"). I know Hermione is the character JKR has said is most like her, and JKR is very into education (having herself majored in French and Classics at the prestigous University of Exeter, located in and around the town of that name, located in southwest England). Anyway, Go Hermione!!

Ironically, Harry and Ron did not go back to school to finish out the year and take their exams, JKR said, but went straight into the Auror Department, having proven themselves to be good at that stuff during the Battle of Hogwarts.

She also said she never saw Hermione as a fighter, which I'm guessing is why Hermione didn't become an Auror in the end. While Hermione can do spells, she doesn't really use them in active fighting the way Harry and Ron do. To use a video game analogy, she would be the support person in the team, casting defensive magic and what have you (much like she did in Deathly Hallows by casting protective charms around their campsites).

Oh crud I guess I gotta go. We're going to the movies. Later.

EDIT AT 12:05 PM

Just checked with Papa. We're not leaving just yet.

I looked up what the iPod models are. The iPod Touch is kinda cool, but only comes in 8 GB and 16 GB versions, which is more than I really need truly. At least for music. 8 GB is good for video though. The Touch also has a web browser (Safari, of course) and a YouTube client, similar to the iPhone.

Oh gotta go for real now. Bye.


Since it's still the same day I'm just gonna add edits to this post.

I am at home by myself, cause I decided I didn't want to go watch my brother surf. I'm just in my room, using my laptop. I may work on a video after this, for the heck of it.

I gotta close at work tomorrow (12-9) but then I get two days off, before working 7-4 Saturday and Sunday. Not bad. I haven't gotten more than 2 days off in a row for a week or so, but with this week, the store being closed today for Christmas meant everyone got the day off by default.

I told Mum how seeing Andrew (my brother)'s iPod Classic kinda made me want an iPod, and she said she was afraid I would lose it if I had one. I have lost music players in the past, usually by accidentally leaving them somewhere, so her fear makes sense. And I do lose things sometimes.

I do have a good music player now, a ZVUE ($65 at Wal-Mart), which also plays video though I don't use it that much for that due to the hassle of getting the files on there via ZAPP (the iTunes-like program that came with my player), but I am getting a little tired of it, primarily cause of the aforesaid ZAPP software, which takes a while to load and is kind of tough to use. Plus most of the video files I want to put on there I end up not being able to cause of the really narrow format restrictions (WMV and some form of DivX video). Also when you have WMA files on there, the artist name is displayed with the song but not the title of the CD.

iTunes, on the other hand, is easy to figure out how to use (I've bought music there) and the iTunes store has lots of stuff. Most of the podcasts I've seen cost nothing, and you can listen to them right in iTunes or (supposedly) download them. And while the iPod doesn't

Hold on moving the computer downstairs.


My parents got the movie Little Miss Sunshine for Christmas and so we were just watching it. It's very random.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes. Even though the iPod doesn't support WMA files, you can still get WMA files on your iPod using iTunes.

I like the iPod Mini size, but the Mini appears to have been discontinued. The new Shuffle is a size I'm not likely to lose (cause I can clip it to my clothes) but I want an iPod with a screen so I can see what song is playing. Maybe a Nano -- a 1GB probably.

Eh well can't think of anything else to say. Good night.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thoughts about the future, Order of the Phoenix video game, and other stuff

I was thinking about my future again today, cause my mom told me some people my brother knows invited him to move in with them. This would make him the first of us to move out, which I must admit makes me a little jealous. But then he's the one with all the friends. Anyway he is still deciding.

But in the process of this Mum and I ended up talking about me, and how I feel behind of my friends (yes, I do have some, though not many, and very few close friends) because I don't have a car and I live at home, whereas most of my friends have cars and live by themselves (well, ok, mainly with roommates, since it's pretty much impossible in SoCal for someone my age to afford to live alone in an average apartment, housing prices being what they are). She said eventually, let's just get through Christmas, get the bed from Grandad's in my room and all that, and then we'll see how things go.

Speaking of the future, I still have to send the stuff for my insurance. I am still a bit apprehensive about the insurance, because there are some days I really dislike my job and want to quit. But the insurance holds me back -- I have to have medical insurance, and what if I can't get it again? And even if I do get it, what if 3 months after I get it, I find a better job and quit my current job? Then I'll lose that insurance, and the work of getting it would've been worthless. I'll be back where I started, with no health insurance (I'm too old to be under my dad's plan). I suppose I am just "catastrophizing," as Mum said the other day -- just thinking of the worst-case scenario.

Adulthood is bloody scary. I mean, here I am 23, setting up my own health insurance for the first time and terrified of doing it wrong. Meanwhile, I am only semi-independent as an adult; I live at home still (though I pay for rent every month and pay my monthly cell phone bill, and I buy most of my own food, including my own soda) and last I checked, Mum is still doing my taxes for me, using TurboTax or whatever. I suppose that is ok, but I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't try to do my own taxes this upcoming year, especially since I've got to do my FAFSA too and I might need tax information for that.

Now, granted, I said semi-independent. Like I said, I pay rent each month ($50) and my cell phone bill ($40) and buy most of my own food. I am currently paying for school now by myself and buying my textbooks myself. I do my own laundry and know how to wash dishes. I can more or less prepare a meal for myself, although I tend to eat things that can either be microwaved or easy things like toast or cereal since I'm not much good with the stove still. I can make pasta on the stovetop (boil water in a pot, put the pasta in, and so on) but that's about it (I'm still not good at scrambled eggs, and most of the time I don't have the time in the morning to make that kind of thing for breakfast). And I pretty much never use the oven since I don't usually ever eat anything that requires using the oven.

Also, the future of my schooling...I still haven't heard from Cal State. They're supposed to send me a Campus ID and password so I can check my application status. I wonder if their semester ended too and so things got messed up in the office? Eh well I'll call tomorrow to see.

As for paying for school, like I said I have to do my FAFSA. I am going to do it online because when you do that you get your Student Aid Report within 72 hours, as opposed to a couple weeks if the form's sent by snail mail. Mum said that if it turns out all I can get is loans, that we'll do so and they'll co-sign, and then we'll pay them off with the money we get from selling Gran and Grandad's house, since my parents are intending to use that money for both of our educations (mine and my brother's). I was pleasantly surprised to learn this, since I just did research on loans too (for my scholarship project). The reason it even came up was that my mom said they would use that money to provide for a junior and senior year's education for us both at college, and I said my junior year could be coming up pretty soon (if I get into Cal State for next fall and the right credits transfer over, I should be able to transfer as a junior -- that's how it usually works when you transfer from a junior college to a state university).

Eh well...change of subject. Last Friday, after I missed the FAST bus at 5:30 when I was coming home from work, I went over to EB Games and ended up buying Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for DS. I didn't get around to playing it till today, and not that seriously until I got home because I had left my styluses at home, and a stylus is essential for that game (it's your wand, among other things). And it is really fun. The visuals are way better than my other Harry Potter handheld game, the rather lame Chamber of Secrets GBA game (though not perhaps as nice as the only console Harry Potter game I own, Goblet of Fire for GameCube), and you get to run around the entire castle. That's cool.

You use your stylus in a wide variety of ways. Besides its main function as your wand, which you use on the main map to do everything from repairing Grimmauld Place vases and furniture to a Hogwarts suit of armor and some fixtures in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom (and then some) with Reparo to moving chairs out of the way with Wingardium Leviosa, it has other uses as well, such as stirring your potion in Potions or flicking your Gobstone from the bottom screen to the top screen while playing Gobstones.

They utilize other features of the DS as well, besides the stylus. Its two-screen format is used creatively in Gobstones, where the circles you want to aim for are on the top screen, but your Gobstones are on the bottom screen, and you have to use your stylus to get them from one screen to the other. Also, you duel in this game, using a number of different spells (including the staple Harry Potter video game starting spell, Filipendo), and when you duel, you not only use both screens but you turn your DS sideways so it's horizontal like a book. And the really cool thing -- during Potions lessons you can blow into the microphone to make the flames hotter. Cool, huh?

One ironic thing about the beginning of the game is that, despite the fact that the beginning of Order of the Phoenix is about Harry being on trial for use of underage magic outside of school, the game still has you going around Grimmauld Place Reparo-ing vases and furniture and using Wingardium Leviosa to move a table blocking the door to Ginny's room. Um, I thought Harry wasn't supposed to using any spells outside of school...

The storyline more or less follows the book and the movie (I suppose EA has rights to the book too) but with some original content too. Also the plot is mainly task-oriented (much like shooters such as the Bond games, Halo, or the Star Wars shooters, where you focus on completing objectives), but open to change at any moment. For instance, while trying to find the library for a task, I ended up stopping to help Moaning Myrtle fix stuff in her bathroom. And on the way to find Neville to ask about the Room of Requirement, the trio is stopped by Snape, who accuses them of vandalizing a suit of armor. They need a couple missing pieces, and the nearby portrait will give you a clue as to their possible location if you pass an Astronomy activity. After the pieces are collected, you simply Reparo and Snape comes back and lets you pass.

Anyway it looks great so far.

Well it's late and I'm tired. I fortunately have tomorrow off so I can sleep in. What I'm gonna do tomorrow I'm not sure.

Good night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FINALS ARE OVER!!! (yay), new manga, next semester plans, room plans


I just came from my last final of the semester. Yay!!! It was for U.S. History. Since the teacher usually does his tests with multiple choice and then essay terms, a few of us were discussing what terms we thought he'd use. None of the ones I guessed he'd use were on the test. The terms were Levittowns, Cash and Carry and Lend Lease, and Postwar Economy. We had to do 2 of those 3. Unfortunately, I didn't remember much about the third of these, but I did about the other two, so I simply did those. The multiple choice was only 20 questions, and I knew the definite answer to most of them. Just in case, I went back over my answers before turning in that part, changing a few of them.

A couple days ago, after my Literature final, I went to the mall to try to get more of the manga series I need more volumes of. They had none of them at Borders Express (the only bookstore at the nearby mall, and where I usually get most of my manga -- I also get some at the Barnes & Noble by my work sometimes -- and if I had the time I'd go to the regular Borders down the street from my work in a shopping center called The Forum, but it's kinda far to walk, plus most of the time I don't have the chance to get over there cause of my work schedule, which is a shame cause they have a good manga selection -- they even had Angelic Layer, which I had been looking for for ages!). But they were having a "buy 4, get one free" sale on all the books in the store, so I decided to take advantage of this and buy more manga than usual. Since there weren't the volumes I needed for the series I had been looking for (namely volume 4 of Cardcaptor Sakura, volume 2 of Wedding Peach, and volume 3 of Tokyo Mew Mew), I decided to go for new series.So I bought five volumes of manga series I hadn't read before (all volume 1, of course; I read manga chronologically). The series were: Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody, Peach Girl: Sae's Story, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and The Good Witch of the West. The first four I knew something about, but the last one I had never heard of. It looked good though, so I bought it.

Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody is the manga that the popular anime Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is based on. I know the anime is popular because, like with Fullmetal Alchemist, AMV's with footage from it are all over YouTube. That is usually a good indicator. Basically it is Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" with mahou shoujo and fantasy mixed in. Or at least the story is very similar to "The Little Mermaid." Having recently read the Tokyo Mew Mew manga, which came out around the same time as Pichi Pichi Pitch, I noticed a number of similarities, even though PPP is not by Mia Ikumi (TMM's creator). The manga features little notes from the creators throughout -- primarily from artist Pink Hanamori -- much the way Ikumi does, and Lucia and Rina look suspiciously like Ichigo and Zakuro respectively. Also Rina is really mature, as is Zakuro. Anyway, this manga is published by Del Rey, the famous sci-fi/fantasy publisher (well known for the Star Wars novels). The manga is more the size of a trade paperback (a normal-sized paperback book) as opposed to the smaller size Tokyopop employs. I'm not sure if this even matters; I just noticed it (my time working at a bookstore has taught me what a "trade paperback" is as well). Also, the "translation notes" at the end of the text are really well done and help explain a lot of things that need explanation, and each notation is given with the page number of the thing being referred to, so you can go back and look at the thing in question. And...yay!...they keep in the honorifics (which Tokyopop does to an extent as well), including a list of common ones and what they mean. But they go farther in emphasizing what it means to not use honorifics with someone, which means you have a special level of intimacy with a person.

Peach Girl: Sae's Story is interesting simply because of the perspective. Whereas the regular Peach Girl series (Peach Girl and Peach Girl: Change of Heart) are from Momo Adachi's perspective, Peach Girl: Sae's Story is from the perspective of her friend/rival Sae. I knew a little bit about the original Peach Girl storyline going into it, having read a sample of Peach Girl in a manga magazine (Smile), so even though I haven't read all of the other Peach Girl manga volumes, I had enough background for me to more or less understand Sae's Story. Basically, it's set after the other two series, and Momo and Kiley are off at college. Sae, on the other hand, got held back because of her bad attendance record, and thus has to repeat her senior year. But she keeps up her bad attendance by constantly ditching class to hang out at the college Momo and Kiley are attending. In the process, this guy who knew Sae when she was a kid shows up, and she tries to avoid him so people won't learn about who she used to be. But he keeps pursuing her anyway. Pretty interesting story. There's three volumes, and I will probably get them all.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days is basically a much happier version of the infamously dark Evangelion anime series. The back cover advertises it as "Imagine a Neon Genesis Evangelion where dating the right girl is more important than saving the world." Basically, there's still NERV, the Evas, and all that (which they begin to introduce in volume 1) but on top of that Shinji, Asuka, Rei, etc. actually have normal lives, whereas their normal lives were more or less scrapped in the anime. The result is something more along the lines of a lighter sci-fi comedy series, like Tenchi Muyo. The casting is slightly different as well; Shinji's mom is still alive in Angelic Days whereas she's dead in the anime. Also Misato, while she does work for NERV, is also Shinji and co.'s teacher, and Ritsuko is the school nurse while also working for NERV. A couple of Shinji's friends appear who I don't recall from the anime; Rei is a transfer student, and Asuka and Shinji are childhood friends. Basically, the whole series is supposed to be a manga continuation of a dream sequence Shinji has in episode 26 of the anime. As I have only seen half of the NGE anime, I have not yet seen this episode. Anyway...oh and Kaworu appears too, even though he doesn't appear in the anime series till almost the end. Pretty good; Rei is a little goofy but oh well. She was a bit too serious in the anime anyway.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is basically a crossover fanfic brought to life by the genius that is CLAMP. While it primarily crosses over xxxHolic and Cardcaptor Sakura, it also contains crossovers from most of CLAMP's other series. Volume 1 alone features characters from Cardcaptor Sakura (Sakura, Syaoran, Touya, Yukito, and Tomoyo), X/1999 (the two Hanshin Republic characters -- the girl resembles Hideki's landlady from Chobits too), Chobits (Chi), and Magic Knight Rayearth (Mokona and Rayearth). According to Wikipedia, only Wish and Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales out of all of CLAMP's works do not crossover (at least not yet -- the series is still ongoing) with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (or with xxxHolic). Kurogane and Fai are original characters in Tsubasa, not crossing over from any other series, and the "dimension witch" Yuuko is from xxxHolic. This manga is also by Del Rey and provides the usual translation notes as well as a character guide to help you keep the characters and what series they cross over from (if they do) straight.

The Good Witch of the West supposedly inspired an anime as well (which I really want to see now). The manga is actually based on a series of novels, much like certain parts of Tenchi Muyo. The novel basis I found rather influential, since the manga has a very literary feel, much like a fantasy novel or fantasy video game. The title sounds somewhat like a title for an early mahou shoujo anime (many of the earliest mahou shoujo series were about witches coming to the human world) and is somewhat misleading since the main character, Firiel, is not a witch at all. But there is a legend about a "Good Witch of the West" in the manga's world, and a piece of this legend is quoted at the beginning of the manga. So this is probably where the title comes from. Anyway, very good though.


I already enrolled for spring; I am just taking one class for fun. It is a class in Printmaking (doing woodcuts and the like), which should be interesting and fun (and hopefully not too hard). I will have to prepare for graduation and transferring during the spring as well. I am still waiting to hear from Cal State about whether I got accepted. (I'm checking online now...they have a thing where you can check your application status).

Uh ok can't get on. I need to call them.


While I wait for that, I'll talk about my room. My dad measured the bed I am getting from my grandparents' house, and so now I need to measure the area where my bed is now (in a little three-sided jutting piece of wall with a window - a nook, I guess) to see if it will fit there. At any rate, I am going to rearrange some stuff and get storage boxes. I am also getting rid of my large dresser once I have a chance to go through it (ok, granted, I had chances the last two weeks, but I never got to it) since I don't use it much. Normally, I would not be so motivated to organize my room, except that I have been watching a lot of decorating shows lately. Plus the storage box idea I got from my parents' organization of the garage. I bought one organizational thing already: a shelf, technically made for kitchens, that sits on little legs and has non-slip stuff on the top, for putting my TV on when I move it to my small, low dresser (where my boombox is now - I'm getting rid of that too cause the CD player doesn't work) so that it is a little higher. It is high enough (I think) for me to slide my VCR underneath.

Also I am getting a new desk for Christmas, and so I need to figure out that too. I told Mom I want one tall enough for me to put my file cabinet underneath (since I think that would be much more convenient. And I need a real nightstand (not the TV tray I'm using now). I will be able to figure out this stuff much better when we get the bed in the room.

That's all, I guess. Bye.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Strange work schedule, boring union meeting, Golden Compass criticism, school ending, and so on

I got off work at 7 today, the last of the three days this week I worked in a row. Lately I have been given a very strange work schedule -- this last week I got Tuesday and Thursday off as usual and then also Monday and Wednesday, giving me four days off in a row. And for this coming week they gave me the same thing, except next weekend I work 7-4 for three days. It works out cause last week I had a big essay due for Lit that I was able to devote nearly an entire day to doing the rough draft for last Monday, and this week I have finals (in fact, I should be working on my scholarship project right now, cause it's due Tuesday and I don't really want to do it the day before, but my body is saying no -- my back aches and I am dead tired, neither of which would improve my concentration).

On Tuesday of this week I had to go down to the San Diego area to go to a union meeting about the new insurance plan. It was rather boring and one part of it was all about Platinum Plus members, which I'm not, so I should've left when they started that, but it seemed rude to do so. So for a while, I just sat there and followed along with the PowerPoint slide printout, under the premise that I might need this information down the road, but since you need to have been working for 5+ years to get to that level, I don't think I'll need it since it is highly unlikely I'll still be at Stater's 5 years from now. After following along got boring, I started taking notes from this book I bought for my scholarship assignment research called Free $ For College for Dummies, which I had brought with me to take notes from in case I had downtime before or after the meeting. Fortunately, I was sitting near the back so I was fairly inconspicuous, not that they check to see if you're paying attention anyways. The good thing is I finished the notes while waiting for Papa to pick me up after the meeting, so those are done.

Tikkie from work informed me in a somewhat roundabout fashion last night that some churches are telling people not to go see the movie The Golden Compass, something my mom mentioned too. So I was thinking about that today. I have been wanting to see Golden Compass since they first starting showing trailers for it, mainly cause it was a fantasy movie and I usually like fantasy in any format. I started reading the book trilogy Golden Compass comes from (it's a trilogy called His Dark Materials, of which The Golden Compass--Northern Lights in the UK--is the first. The other two are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) because Melissa Anelli was pushing it on PotterCast as being an awesome series (apparently some people think it's similar to Harry Potter -- I disagree; it's so much more complex than HP and in my opinion is more of the "high fantasy" genre, like Lord of the Rings). I really liked it, strange portrayal of Christianity aside.

Actually I was just reading that secular groups have been criticizing the movie too because the moviemakers were planning to cut as much of the religious material as was possible to do and not mess up the main story. So churches boycotting it is slightly ironic.

Anyway, it is difficult for me to explain the very complex religious viewpoint portrayal in the trilogy. I just checked a site and it does say Pullman (the author of the book) is an atheist; but then, I knew it was not a Christian book going into it. He does however quote Paradise Lost at the beginning, and it is from Book 3 of said poem that the title of the series comes:
Into this wilde Abyss, [ 910 ]
The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain [ 915 ]
His dark materials to create more Worlds... (emphasis mine)
The title is somewhat appropriate since much of the His Dark Materials trilogy revolves around parallel worlds.

The view of God did strike me very much as a nihilist "God is dead" sort of philosophy, since God seems very distant if he is in fact present at all, in heaven or anywhere, for that matter; also the angels were far from perfect, much like the angels of Cruxis in Tales of Symphonia (who were in fact evolved half-elves, not created angels). The angel Metatron, hailed as the "Regent of Heaven," is equated with the Biblical Enoch, but much of what is said about this Enoch (that he had lots of wives for example) does not fit any description of Enoch, canonical or apocryphal, in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam (all of which have some Enoch story). There is an angel named Metatron in Jewish tradition though (according to what I just looked up), and apparently he is considered to be the same as Enoch by some early Kabbalah followers. But then Kabbalah, though taken very seriously by some Jews, is above all a mystic tradition and thus is liable to present somewhat far-out beliefs.

So when Pullman was trying to portray the religion of Lyra's world (and presumably others too), he obviously based it on mystical traditions, perhaps apocryphal too, and maybe some nihilism and some of his own atheism.

In the book in which he finally appears (The Amber Spyglass), Metatron is seeking to take God's place through battle, much like Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost. Mainly he seeks to supplant "The Authority," who is really the first angel created and not God, though he claims to be God.

So where is the real God exactly? Who created everything -- the angels, the worlds, etc. -- if not The Authority?

Good question. I don't know. The answer is probably that there isn't a God in that universe. That's what the atheistic Pullman would probably say. As for who the creator is, well anyone who knows about atheistic views knows the answer: there is none. Evolution is what created everything.

Now that I research stuff and get it into writing, one thought is coming up in my mind quite clearly: THE THEOLOGY IN THESE BOOKS IS WHACKED! It's not theology from any one religion, combining traditions from Judaism, Christianity probably too, maybe nihilism, and certainly secular humanism (and maybe deism too, which suggests a God who set the world in motion but now stays out of human affairs).

Now does that mean I won't go see the movie? No. That would be like not going to see Harry Potter cause it has witchcraft in it. If anything, I will get to see Daniel Craig in something other than a Bond movie, and two other actors I like -- Nicole Kidman (as Marisa Coulter) and Ian McKellen (as the voice of Iorek Byrnison). Come to think of it, this movie is a bit of a reunion for Craig too, as his Casino Royale co-star Eva Green (who played Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale) is also in Golden Compass (playing witch queen Serafina Pekkala, although I think she looks too young; Serafina is young-looking, as are most witches in His Dark Materials, but I always pictured her as older-looking than Eva Green looks in the part in the trailers). They also have Freddie Highmore doing the voice of Pantalaimon, Lyra's daemon (the physical manifestation of her soul; everyone has one in His Dark Materials; they are only externally seen in Lyra's world), who I enjoyed in Finding Neverland (where he played one of Kate Winslet's kids; Johnny Depp starred as Peter Pan author James Barrie) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (in which he starred as the title character Charlie Bucket, co-starring--again--alongside Johnny Depp, who played Willy Wonka). All of those are reasons to see it, I guess.

Oh and the
Alethiometer (the "compass" of the title) reminded me somewhat of a Ouija board, in that you ask the alethiometer a question and a needle swings of its own accord to the answer, much the same way that a Ouija board does. Only the alethiometer seems to be able to answer more than just "yes" and "no" questions.

Anyway moving on, since it's getting late (fortunately, I'm off tomorrow so I can sleep in)...

School is ending; we have finals this week. I think I can enroll for spring semester starting on the 12th of December; I have to check. At any rate, I won't start spring semester till January 22.

All right I am going to start getting ready for bed after I post this. Good night.