Wraith and the Importance of Protecting Life

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I’m not usually a fan of horror movies, let alone ones that include exorcisms. However, when I got word of this film, I was instantly hooked and intrigued.

The director for this film was also behind One Night With The King, one of my favorite adaptations of the book of Esther. As Esther acted as an instrument to preserve the lives of her people, this movie also stresses the importance of protecting life from conception until death, and even the lives of those who have passed on.

It’s not officially Catholic canon as to whether or not ghosts are real. However, Fr. Mike Schmitz shared a real life ghost story on the Ascension Presents YouTube channel that gave me chills! Films like Coco and the episode “Amazing Grace” from Legends of Tomorrow only add to the popular appeal of life after death and the importance of remembering those who have passed on as well as praying for restless souls.

I look forward to seeing Wraith. The good news is that it’s being released on digital and video on demand tomorrow! Check out the synopsis for more information!

Synopsis:

Wraith (rāth) noun: a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen after, or shortly before, their death

Something’s very wrong in the Lukens’ house.

After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won’t it leave their 14 year-old daughter, Lucy, alone?

Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant again. Expecting in your 40’s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens decide all options are on the table – including termination – the unexpected starts to happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie, wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them…or help them?

Wraith is available on all VOD platforms and Blu-ray/DVD May 8th.

www.wraiththemovie.com

From writer-director Michael O. Sajbel, Wraith explores the super-natural story of a family who invites evil into their home after they decide they may not go forward with an unplanned pregnancy. Sajbel, who previously directed One Night With the King based on the Biblical story of Esther was raised Catholic, wanted to present a story about protecting the most innocent of life. “Growing up in a household rooted in God was my biggest influence when I decided to become a filmmaker. On my application to film school at UCLA, when I filled out the forms there was one question in particular that asked, “Why do you want to go to our film school?” I thought I’d put God to the test and put down that I wanted to make films that honor Jesus Christ and spread the gospel throughout the world.” He was accepted which began his journey into filmmaking.

When it came to the sensitive subject about pro-life, he wanted a different take by creating a supernatural-thriller. Sajbel, who is a father of three adopted children, believes in the sanctity of all life. “I had not seen a film about this subject matter presented this way and wanted audiences to have fun with a little twist but to also incorporate a very important message about valuing all life no matter how complicated it can get. We see the Lukens couple struggle with this decision about whether they can afford another child and Mrs. Lukens age and how there could be medical complications and her overall concerns with having a baby at her age. I wanted to convey that no matter what – God provides and the value of protecting an innocent life.  Wraith gives us a chance to present this important message in a very unique way.”

Website:            www.wraiththemovie.com

Hashtag:            #Wraiththemovie

Genre:                Supernatural Thriller

Rating:                PG-13

VOD/DVD Release date:    May 8, 2018

Cast:    Jackson Hurst, Ali Hillis, Lance Henriksen, Jensen Buchanan, Catherine Frances, Lily Hansen

Director:             Michael O. Sajbel

Writer:                Michael O. Sajbel

Producer:            Dennis H. Ranke, Michael O. Sajbel

Director of Photography:    Antonio Mata

Composer:            James Covell

Like us on Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/wraiththemovie/

Twitter:                               https://twitter.com/wraiththemovie

Instagram:                           https://www.instagram.com/wraithmovie

Avengers: Infinity War―Where Do We Go From Here?

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This movie broke me. I’m not the kind of girl who cries at the movies. Heck, I haven’t cried at the movies since Les Miserables and then this movie comes along and gets me bawling by the time the end credits are rolling. This movie is not for the faint of heart and no matter how much you prepare yourself, you will not be ready for what’s to come. All I can say is that if it wasn’t for the fact that I know there will be sequels planned for this movie and for some of the characters, I would be inconsolable.

That’s not to say that this movie is bad. If anything, it really did its job. I wouldn’t be crying if it didn’t make me care about the characters. This has been the work of ten years of buildup, with movies that made us actually care about star-spangled spandex men and men in robot suits. If anything else, this movie shows that all the work that Marvel has put into their movies has paid off.

When people call this an event movie, they aren’t kidding. It’s a major crossover with a great villain. I am ranking Thanos up there with Kilgrave, Loki, Kingpin, and Killmonger as far as effective and compelling Marvel villains. He’s brutal, he’s got some aspects of his life that make him sympathetic, but make no mistake, he is not one to mess with.

Every character gets a moment to shine here, even the heroes who would be labeled as supporting characters or second string/B-team. I honestly wish there were more moments with the “second string” characters, but that would make the movie longer than it already is. The story is tragic in the best way possible (see my crying face), the effects are a spectacle, and the action is visceral. I felt like I was pulled out of my body for a while and then thrust back in, Doctor Strange style.

Overall, I want to give this movie and 8/10. It’s not absolutely perfect, but it is worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Congratulations, Russo Brothers. You blew us all away.

Now if you want to know why I don’t give this movie a 10, read below. Spoilers ahead.

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The Savior’s Champion Tag

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I am really psyched about the release of Jenna Moreci’s book The Savior’s Champion.
A couple days ago, I found out about The Savior’s Champion tag from Jenna’s YouTube channel. Consider this a #FF and a list of recommendations for anyone looking for something cool to read or something new to watch!

  1. SP Love: Love for a Self-Published Author This is my shoutout to Erin McCole Cupp whose trilogy Jane E, Friendless Orphan has become my favorite version of Jane Eyre to date.
  2. Fantasy Love: Favorite Fantasy Book The Silver Chair by CS Lewis. I love The Chornicles of Narnia, but my favorite of the 7 books is The Silver Chair. It centers on Eustace and his friend Jill as they journey through Narnia in search of the missing prince Rillian. My favorite character in the book, however, is Puddleglum, a Marsh-Wiggle who worries about everything and yet shows amazing courage in the face of the villain. I wish more worry-warted characters and brooding men could learn from him.
  3. True Love: A Book With Healthy Relationships Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I feel like a lot of people misunderstand this book. People see Elizabeth Bennet as being practically perfect and Mr. Darcy as a dark, brooding, bad boy. In truth, Elizabeth is flawed and Mr. Darcy is actually a man of good principles. Both of them have to learn to overcome their initial perspectives about the world and themselves. You see, Elizabeth prides herself too much on being able to read people when she really just puts labels on them based on her first impressions. Mr. Darcy lacks the ability to socialize beyond what propriety demands and also has to learn to see past his prejudices towards those he thinks are lower class as well as the ability to laugh at himself. It’s a true marriage of the minds as well as hearts and minds.
  4. Representation: A Book With All The Diversity There are three books that I want to recommend for this. Technically, one is a series.
    1. One is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. The cast of the series is racially diverse and they also have other species within its sci-fi universe. I really loved reading this series and if you’re a fan of fairy tales, I say give it a shot.
    2. The second recommendation is American Panda by Gloria Chao, which centers on the life of a Chinese-American girl trying to figure out her identity as she starts college. It gives a great insight into what it’s like to have traditionally Asian parents and the struggle to pursue one’s individual desires in spite of whatever plans your family has for you.
    3. The third recommendation I have is When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. A wonderful romantic comedy novel about two Indian-American young adults who are technically in an arranged marriage but manage to fall in love anyway. The main character is working in STEM (computer programming/app development) and it also shows a little bit of class/race issues with the Aberzombie antagonists.
  5. Tobias: A Book/Movie/TV Show With a Gentle Warrior. Gorgeous Marvel heroes aside, I want to pick a lady for this one because I haven’t read any books with a gentle male warrior. I have gotten into Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m late to the party, I know, but this is basically my excuse to gush over how much I love Gabrielle. I’m only on Season 2 and I kind of have an idea on what she will evolve into, but so far, she is the gentlest warrior that I know. If not, then just read Lord of the Rings because I also consider Aragorn and his comrades to be amazing warriors with gentle souls.
  6. Deadly Beast: A Book With a Monster Character Dracula, no question. Not only does Dracula brainwash one guy to become his minion, but he also turned Lucy into a baby-killer. In fact, most of the victims in this book were children and virgins. I don’t think it can get any more monstrous than that.
  7. Peaches: A Book with Symbology. Shakespeare’s The Tempest. A play with a lot going on, there’s a lot of symbology in the setting and the situations the characters find themselves in. Captivity is one theme symbolized in Ariel, Miranda, and Caliban. There’s also the theme of forgiveness. The storm itself is obviously a symbolic one. It’s one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.
  8. Brutal Battles: A Book/Movie/TV Show with Awesome Fight Scenes. Gonna have to go with a TV show here. Ahem. The 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Professional martial artists with signature weapons and yet there are five whole seasons filled with unique fights. Not to mention that each of the characters have a unique style and personality.
  9. Not What It Seems: Crazy Plot TwistJenna Moreci’s Eve The Awakening. I love this book. But one thing I did not see coming was who the actual bad guy was. She was really good at misleading me into thinking that a few characters could have been the leader of the Interlopers and then when I realized who it was, I was all “You son of a *BLEEP*!
  10. Self Love: Talk About My WIP I’m currently planning on revising my contemporary women’s fiction novel Love Notes which centers on an aspiring pianist with Asperger’s Syndrome competing on a talent search reality show while entering into a relationship with the bass-player of a semi-famous rock band. I shared the first four pages with my writing class at Rice University last month and they totally loved it!

American Panda by Gloria Chao -A Book Review

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This book caught my eye while I was in the middle of a Target run. It’s been a long time since I saw a YA book with an Asian-American protagonist. Not since Fresh Off The Boat by Melissa de la Cruz to be exact. This book, however, has a Chinese-American protagonist who is starting out college at the tender age of 17 and finds herself torn between the life that she wants and the life that her parents have planned for her.

Family loyalty is a theme that I can relate to, being Filipino, so Mei’s struggles are totally something I can relate to. She falls asleep during Biology class and has a mild case of mysophobia (fear of germs), which already deters her parent’s plans for her to be a doctor. On top of that, she teaches traditional Chinese dance classes to earn some extra money and develops a crush on a Japanese classmate.

(Side note: Never have I ever been so happy to be Filipino because as traditionalist as Filipinos can be, they are majorly easygoing compared to Mei’s parents and relatives!)

She tries to make the best of both worlds, to the point that she is almost living a double life. On the one hand, she visits her parents every weekend and tries to be the dutiful daughter, even as her family life spirals out of control when her estranged brother announces his wedding. The reason her older brother is estranged is because he plans to marry a woman whose odds of having kids are low at best.

In spite of her parents’ disapproval, Mei reconnects with her brother and tries to explore what it could be like to be a doctor, since her brother is in med school. She also looks into the life of a doctor through a fellow Chinese-American doctor who works close to the MIT campus. Sadly, she can’t find the life appealing and fears that she will become empty inside, losing everything she loves in the name of family duty.

Now I know what you 21st century millenials are thinking: What is the big deal?! In America, rebellious teenagers who cut themselves off from the family to pursue their dreams are a dime a dozen. The thing is, though, that for Mei, and for a lot of Asian-Americans (myself included), family is very important to us. Our lives may be as dysfunctional as an ABC family sitcom, but we still want to make our parents happy.

This book shows that family loyalty is a two-way street. Even though children being loyal to their parents is shown as serious business, it also implies that parents have to be more open-minded to what their children want and at least meet them halfway. Mei learns that she doesn’t have to go through the extremes, one way or the other, in order to be happy. By the end of the book, Mei gets to have the best of both her worlds, even if it’s on a bittersweet note. I like to think that in the long run, her parents eventually accept the life she has chosen and also bring her brother back into the fold, even if it flies in the face of strict tradition.

I love the supporting characters in this book, especially Ying-Na AKA Christine Chu. At first, you think Ying-Na is just some urban legend. In fact, she’s this book’s version of Margaret Cho, a childhood friend of Mei’s who became a stand-up comedian. (For some reason, I imagine Gong Li from Memoirs of a Geisha playing her if this book ever became a movie.) Mei’s parents can be seen as awful, but it’s implied that they will soften up eventually. Mei’s brother is endearing in how he tries to stick to tradition even when he gets cut off from the family. Darren Takahashi is a great love interest, even though I think being 6 feet is kinda unrealistic by Asian standards. (And this is coming from a girl whose own grandfather was 6 ft and had a great uncle who was taller than that.)

What I love best, though, is Mei. She is not your typically beautiful Asian-American. She’s fat, somewhat flat-chested, and has what she describes as a “man-laugh.” She’s not perfect, but she at least tries her best and she’s a totally endearing character. I love how Chao described her near-sightedness, too, and I’m shocked that Mei doesn’t wear glasses! I related to her so much, even if some of the stuff she said got lost in cultural translation. (What’s the big deal between MIT vs Dartmouth?)

I highly recommend this book to any Asian-American young adult, but I also challenge Asian parents to read this as well. I think this book is a great way of understanding the struggle Asian-American teenagers have in establishing their identity and not defining it by their family or tradition alone.

 

 

Coco: Pixar’s Most Catholic Movie

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I realize that I’m late to the Coco party. However, with Divine Mercy Sunday around the corner, I decided that this would be a #FlashbackFriday type of review. I honestly think that Coco is the most Catholic movie that Pixar ever made and I’m not just saying that because the movie is inspired by Mexican culture. What makes this movie Catholic are the themes: family, forgiveness, and never forgetting to honor the dead.

Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen this movie yet. I highly recommend at least renting the movie. It’s available on Redbox. It’s definitely worth a watch.

The emphasis on being loyal to one’s family is established early on in the movie. It’s clear from the beginning that Miguel loves his family, in spite of the fact that his abeulita tries to keep music from their lives a little too much. Miguel is especially close to his great-grandmother Coco.

Side note, but I think this is the first Disney/Pixar movie to feature an entire family unit. Both of Miguel’s parents are alive and aside from the relatives who are living in the land of the dead, nobody in Hector’s family gets killed off. Not only that, but you see a family working and living together.

The conflict that drives the movie is Miguel’s desire to pursue music, even if it means ignoring or even outright cutting himself off from his family. It’s clear that he’s a great musician and for a while, it feels as though his family takes the anti-music stance way too far, especially when Miguel’s abuelita destroys his guitar. However, the events of this movie show Miguel that it’s important to stay connected to your family, especially when he learns that Ernesto got his fame by murdering his songwriter friend Hector.

I love the character of Hector, by the way. The movie does a great job at making you suspicious of Hector at first, but he slowly becomes more endearing, especially when he encourages Miguel and shows that he cares for him and is protective of him, even though Miguel is just a stranger.

The theme of remembering the dead is what drives the subplot of the movie: Hector wants to visit his daughter and be remembered or else he will disappear into oblivion. It’s never said where the souls of the forgotten go after the “Final Death,” but it compels the audience to take on a very Catholic tradition: to pray for those who have no one to pray for. In that way, no soul is ever really forgotten.

On a similar note, the land of the dead really reminds me of Purgatory, final death thing put aside. It’s not exactly heaven, given that a murderer like Ernesto is living there, but it’s not Hell, either. It’s a place for departed souls to live and there’s still a link to those who are living, even if it’s just one day a year.

One good thing that came out of the broken pedestal experience though is that Miguel finds out that Hector is his real great-great-grandfather. This leads into the second Catholic theme of the movie, which focuses on forgiveness. When Miguel and Hector are reunited with Miguel’s deceased relatives towards the end of the second act, his great-great grandmother Imelda is reluctant to forgive Hector for leaving her.

What makes the relationship with Hector and Imelda interesting is that Imelda never remarried. She cut Hector and her love for music out of her life, even though she loved both very much. When she confronts Ernesto, she berates and hits Ernesto for “murdering the love of my life.” In classical tsundere fashion, she still claims to be mad at Hector, but she at least loves Hector enough to know that he doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

I love that forgiveness is shown to be a process. Imelda goes from hating Hector to defending him to finally allowing him to be in her life and her family. This is shown in the climax, when Miguel has to return to the land of the living. At the start of the movie, Imelda wants Miguel to promise her to never pursue music again when he returns to the land of the living. In the second attempt to get Miguel back, Miguel is actually willing to make good on that condition. The third attempt, however, is made with no conditions. Just the type of selfless love that seriously has me reaching for the tissues.

The two themes of family and forgiveness get tied together in what I feel is my favorite scene: Miguel plays “Remember Me” for Coco in front of his family. His abuelita tries to stop him, but his father allows Miguel to play. The song restores Coco’s memory and allows her to tell everyone in her family about all the mementos she kept from her father and how her parents both loved music.

One year later, Miguel’s deceased relatives, Hector and Coco included, get to spend time with the living on the Day of the Dead. Miguel and his family join in on a song and it’s shown that Hector is playing along with him. All is forgiven and music has returned to the lives of the Rivera family. I love the ending of this movie because it shows that pursuing one’s passion should never come at the expense of family.

One last side note: I love the animal sidekicks in this movie, especially Dante the Xolo dog. He’s a lot like Scooby-Doo in that he seems so goofy and is kinda cute even if he’s a hairless street dog, but he is also foreshadowed to be a true guide in the land of the dead, instinctively throwing Hector and Miguel together a lot. Plus, the name is very fitting as those familiar with The Divine Comedy or at least Inferno recognize the name from the protagonist of those stories, who literally goes through a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.

This movie isn’t just great to watch for the Day of the Dead. It’s one I recommend watching for Lent and even now, in the Easter season.

Pray for the souls of those who’ve died, especially those who have no one to pray for.

 

Thoughts on The Good Doctor, Season 1

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April is Autism Awareness Month. As such, I wanted to follow up on my thoughts on The Good Doctor. I also want to give a shout out to Steve from the Youtube channel Tostemac. He is currently doing a series of reviews for each of the episodes on The Good Doctor and I highly recommend them as Steve is someone who also has autism and gives some great perspectives.

Some spoilers ahead!

The second half of The Good Doctor introduced a lot of new characters. Sadly, Lea left after Islands, Part 2. It totally sucks because I wanted to see Shaun explore his new relationship on top of his work. Instead, she goes off to Hershey, Pennsylvania to work with her brother in repairing cars. Soon after Lea leaves, Shaun has a new neighbor named Kenny. I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt because he was nice to Shaun, but unfortunately, his criminal past and the way he acted in the finale have taken away my good faith in him.

Speaking of characters I hate, the show also introduces a couple new residents. Doctor Morgan Reznick, whom I not-so-affectionately call “Doctor Barbie” has become the new Hate Sink/Scrappy for the way she fakes nice to patients, but acts mean, manipulative, and cutthroat to basically everyone else, especially Claire. She also dismisses Doctor Kalu as she doesn’t think he’ll get a permanent job at the hospital and sometimes gives bad advice to both him and Shaun.

I call Morgan “Doctor Barbie” because she’s blonde and fake. There’s a way to write Jerkass Doctor characters and still make them likeable. Doctor Cox and his ex-wife Jordan from Scrubs are great examples of this. (I’m not counting Dr. Kelso because he’s basically a Designated Villain.) Dr. Cox is a total jerk to everyone, but it shows that he really does care about people underneath it all. He loves his kids and he even loves JD, but he will never willingly say it out loud to JD’s face. Jordan is self-centered, but her advice is always honest and she’s even affectionate at times. Doctor Morgan has yet to show any depth or any instances where she has to face responsibility for her mistakes. IF she comes back for Season 2, I want to see her undergoing a trial with major stakes because right now, she’s all privilege and no sympathy.

Doctor Alex Park also joins the residents as an ex-cop. I definitely like him, but he almost feels like he should be on another medical drama, like  Chicago Med.  He’s cynical, especially when it comes to anyone with a criminal background. I get that as a cop he’s probably seen the worst of humanity on a daily basis, but doctors aren’t supposed to be judgmental and, you know, most people prefer to use the whole “innocent until proven guilty” mindset. Then again, I consider myself to be an idealist, so it might just be my personal bias.

Doctor Kalu is one character who’s changed the most out of all the residents. After attacking a lecherous doctor in the locker room for harassing Claire,  he gets fired, but gets re-hired by threatening to sue the hospital. His relationship with Claire goes down the drain by “Heartfelt,” but he starts dating someone new towards the end of the season. It’s also shown that he’s looking for other places to work, as it’s very unlikely that he’ll have a permanent job in San Jose. I’m also glad that he’s trusting Shaun and stands up for him when the situation calls for it.

Poor Doctor Claire had a lot to deal with this season. Not only was she harassed by a doctor, but she has to deal with the cutthroat Doctor Morgan and her mother, who is clearly a moocher. In spite of all this, though, she’s still a wonderful character and a great friend for Shaun. I’m still not on the Claire/Shaun ship, though, because there are more moments that tease an interest in Doctor Melendez, who has broken up with his fiancee.

I think Doctor Melendez has really grown on me. He begins to trust Shaun a lot more and he’s shown to be a very fair-minded doctor. He doesn’t get much personal development in the second half beyond the fact that his relationship with Jessica has ended. It’s also implied that Jessica and Glassman were friends in the past, but it’s never given any detail as to how. Based on the finale, I think Jessica knew Glassman’s deceased daughter, but I wish that their friendship was explained more.

The jury is still out on Doctor Andrews. Although he was helpful to Shaun, helping him socialize with others during the fundraiser in “Heartfelt,” he’s still gunning for Glassman’s job in the finale. It’s also shown that he and his wife are trying to have kids, but he has low motility. He’s also mad at Kalu for playing the race card in his attempt at suing the hospital, but I still side with Kalu.

As far as the plots for individual episodes go, I liked some episodes more than others. “Seven Reasons” and “She” are a bit too political for my taste as I don’t believe for a second that Shaun would presume a Muslim patient to be a terrorist just because she was handling chemicals. I get that the patient was lying, but Shaun is way too smart to presume something so extreme. The situation with “She” is also too dicey a subject for me to talk about here.

I liked the episodes “Heartfelt,” “Pain,” and “Smile” more because Shaun gets to interact with patients who either inspire him to change or just connect with him in a sweet way. For example: the patient in “Heartfelt” inspires Shaun to be courageous enough to socialize at the hospital fundraiser. The patient of the week in “Smile” is my favorite, though, because Shaun is reasonable and honest with her and he ends up making her laugh.

I kinda wish some things relating to autism were explored more. The patient of the week in “Pain,” a man who is wheelchair-bound from a spinal cord injury, asked Shaun about if he would hypothetically try out something that would cure autism. That question never gets answered or discussed again. The guy has good intentions, but the problem with that line of thinking is that unlike a spinal cord injury, autism isn’t something that needs to be treated or cured.

I’ve compared autism to having a brain that’s programmed differently, similar to how Macs and Linuxes have different programming than a PC. People with autism need to learn how to better interact with neurotypicals, but there’s nothing short of a frickin lobotomy that will make an autistic person “normal.” You can’t bleach it out of them.

So overall, the first season of The Good Doctor was a great start. And I look forward to Season 2. I hope that the supporting cast gets more development and that the episodes get a little less political. Still, I recommend this show to people on the autism spectrum and for those who want to understand autism. It’s definitely a series that can open up some much-needed discussions.

Harry Potter and Memento Mori

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If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter books or movies like I am, you probably remember the Tale of the Three Brothers from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

 

Most Potterheads know that this fairy tale foretold the Deathly Hallows, which served as the MacGuffins in the book. I’m not sure if this was JK Rowling’s intention, but the fairy tale is more than just a plot device. It actually teaches a moral, as all fairy tales do. The moral of this particular tale is that we don’t have to be afraid of death, but we should still acknowledge that it exists. In other words, it’s a tale of memento mori.

In the context of the Potter-verse, the Elder Wand was created by Antioch Peverell, who used the wand to kill a rival wizard, boasted of the wand’s powers after winning the duel, and was murdered in his sleep shortly afterwards. To me, this represents people who act without thinking of the consequences. The people who live and breathe by YOLO, entitled and presumptuous.

The second brother, Cadmus Peverell, was described as an arrogant man who used the Resurrection Stone to recall the woman he hoped to marry back from the dead. The problem was that she suffered, living an incomplete life because she truly belong in the mortal world. This inability to connect with his love drove Cadmus mad with hopeless longing and he killed himself. There are many people who see death as a permanent end, unable to properly grieve their losses.

The third brother, Ignotus Peverell, was described as a humble and wise man. In the fairy tale, Death searched for Ignotus for many years, unable to find him. The Invisibility Cloak was handed down to his son when Ignotus reached old age. I love the way that the story ends: “He greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”

Not much is known about Ignotus Peverell aside from the fact that he created the Invisibility Cloak. However, his approach to death is a wise and sobering one. He did not see himself as more powerful than death nor was he consumed by past losses. Instead, death became a friend, an equal. Because death isn’t the end.

TV Tropes summarized the moral of this story best: “If you are unable to accept the futility of escaping death or are unable to accept the death of a loved one, death will be your greatest enemy. However, if you instead accept death as the inevitable and move on with your life, he will greet you as an old friend.”

#mementomori

 

Valentine’s Day Writing Tag

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Once again, Jenna Moreci has participated in a holiday-related writing tag and once again, I decided to blog about it. Valentine’s Day may be over, but since all the candy is on sale for uber-cheap, I decided to keep up the spirit since I was a bit busy being penitential yesterday for Ash Wednesday.

The Valentine’s Day writing tag was created by AuthorTube vlogger Bree Barton, whose debut novel will be coming out this year.

RULES: Describe your WIP in three sentences or fewer. Then answer the following 10 questions.

For this tag, I want to use the characters from my chick lit novel, Love Notes. Love Notes centers on Allie, an aspiring professional pianist who becomes a contestant in a talent search reality show around the same time she begins a relationship with the bass player of a semi-famous rock band. Allie’s ability to be more sociable are constantly put to the test, as she is portrayed as the token “Ice Queen.” Will Allie be able to find her creative voice and become the musician she always wanted to be?

Well, that’s what you’ll have to find out.

Onto the questions!

1. Which character does something epic for another character on Valentine’s Day, only to have it go epically wrong?

This doesn’t happen in the novel, but Allie has tried a grand gesture for her ex-boyfriend back in her college days by singing karaoke in public for him and it went epically wrong because he verbally chastised her after she finished singing. Did I mention that her ex-boyfriend is a narcissistic jerk?

2. Nine million people buy their pets a gift for Valentine’s Day. Which of your characters does this, and what’s the gift?

Nobody in my novel owns any pets, but I can see Elena doing this. Elena is a dancer that Allie befriends on the show. Elena is sweet, nice, and would probably buy a cozy Valentine’s Day sweater for the most adorable kitten in the world.

3. Which character is celebrating Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.) and how do they celebrate?

Allie’s sister, Stephanie. Stephanie is a college senior interning for a TV show and prefers to just casually date guys for the moment. However, she does want to have a serious relationship eventually, so she would celebrate the “S.A.D.” part of Single Awareness Day by watching Marilyn Monroe movies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to boost her mood.

4. In 1537, King Henry the Eighth declared February 14th the official holiday of St. Valentine . . . the same King Henry who beheaded two of his six wives. Which character decides to murder someone on February 14th?

Spoiler alert: nobody dies or tries to kill anyone in Love Notes. It’s not that kind of novel! But if someone were inclined to kill someone, even on Valentine’s Day, it would be Regan. Regan is the main antagonist in Love Notes who acts like such a sweet girl on camera, but is actually a total diva in real life. If she could, Regan would murder the people she considers to be her biggest threats to winning the show. And she wouldn’t care if she did it on Valentine’s Day. But that’s not something she would say out loud!

5. Which character writes and performs a sappy love song for their crush?

Jethro, no contest. Jethro is Allie’s new boyfriend and the bass player of a rock band. He also writes songs along with the other members of his band. He actually wrote a sappy love song for her that they dance to in one of the chapters. It’s an adorable little scene!

6. Fill in the blanks: I saw ________ [character] give a box of __________ [noun] to __________ [other character], which made them wildly __________ [adjective/verb].

I saw Cassie give a box of baby clothes to her husband, Pete, which made him wildly ecstatic and sappy. Cassie and Pete are part of Jethro’s band, happily married, but they’re at a point in their lives when they want to have kids. This would probably be Cassie’s way of telling Pete that she was expecting.

7. Every February, the Italian city of Verona receives approximately 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. Which character writes a love letter to someone who does not exist, and what does it say?

I’m gonna pick a minor character for this one and go with one of the Songbirds. The Songbirds are Regan’s cronies and they’re basically an a capella quartet, but you can’t really tell any of them apart aside from their hair color because they all act very similar. I can see any one of them writing a letter to their “Future Husband” in the Meghan Trainor style. Like “Dear Future Husband, I’m writing this cuz I want to let you know what I want out of a relationship…” You get the idea.

8. Which character breaks up with their significant other on Valentine’s Day by text message (or an equally awful way if there are no texts in your world)?

Eric. Remember that narcissistic jerk of an ex-boyfriend that I mentioned earlier? That’s him. Eric is the most entitled, presumptuous rake who thinks that he’s the smartest man in the universe and deserves the smartest, prettiest woman as his wife. He would dump a girl on Valentine’s Day via text message without a second thought if he finds someone else or just because he doesn’t see any value in her anymore.

9. In Finland, Valentine’s Day isn’t romantic—it’s called Ystävänpäivä, or “Friend’s Day.” Which character celebrates Friend’s Day by playing a massive prank?

Ruby would probably do this. Ruby is an aspiring country rock singer from Memphis who wouldn’t mind playing a prank on the reality show favorites like Regan or the Songbirds as a nice set-down. Regan and her cronies usually get perceived as being the cool girls that everyone wants to be friends with, so a little on-camera prank would show the world what kind of people they really are.

10. One of your characters consumes too much chocolate and champagne and gets sick all over the love of their life. Which character is it?

Chad, the token “heartthrob” of the show, whose only talent is being the white guy with the acoustic guitar. Aside from Ted, Chad is a guy who can get carried away with himself and I can see him overindulging on all the Valentine’s Day related food and drink, only to puke all over Regan because he doesn’t actually have any game underneath his pretty boy demeanor. Chad is the epitome of “all style, no substance.”

Black Panther AKA The History of King T’Challa

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I didn’t have high expectations going into Black Panther and while a lot of people, including the critics are praising this movie to the skies, there are some people who are experiencing what is known as “hype backlash.” This review is just going to express my opinion. So yes, I did like Black Panther. A lot. Is it the best Marvel movie ever? No. But it’s still a great introduction to a hero who is probably not as well-known as the other Avengers. And, aside from Thor, this movie has the most Shakespearean themes, which is a major treat for me.

So here’s the question: How is this movie Shakepsearean?

Minor spoilers ahead.

I can’t compare this movie to any one Shakespeare play. Shakespeare fans may compare this movie to the historical plays, such as any of the ones with Henry in the title. Instead, Black Panther‘s theme is about the responsibility of kingship. Thor’s movies are essentially about the journey to becoming king while Black Panther is about how kingship is carried out in practice.

One thing this movie has in common with the best of Shakespeare is that the movie has a strong supporting cast. The female characters are especially memorable. Shuri is by far everyone’s favorite, being the sassy genius younger sister. In the first part of the film, she is the Q to T’Challa’s James Bond, giving him all sorts of gadgets to use for a mission in Korea. At the same time, she can also hold her own in a fight and she is always a delight in whatever scene she’s in. (Side note: Please don’t ship her with anyone. She’s 16 years old and doesn’t need to be in a romantic relationship. If she shows romantic interest in somebody, ship all you want, but as of now, she ain’t interested in any relationship.) T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia, is thankfully nothing like her comic book counterpart, who was basically a Woman Scorned. She is a spy, whose experience in doing worldwide missions, advocates the idea that Wakanda should be more involved in the world. her weapon being reminiscent of Xena’s chakrams.

And, like the most memorable of Shakespeare plays, the villain is not only memorable, but sympathetic and has a personal connection to the protagonist. Even though Erik Stevens AKA Killmonger has the same motivations of previous Marvel movies (distribute powerful weapons, burn the world, etc.), but Michael B. Jordan puts a personal touch to Killmonger’s motivations. As a child orphaned and abandoned, he becomes a product of his time. Like many of Shakespeare’s villains, he is bloodthirsty and short-sighted, which becomes his undoing.

My one nitpick with this movie is something towards the third act. plot is nothing new and the themes may not resonate with everyone, but I still think this movie is worth watching so that you can make your own call.

How To Survive Valentine’s Day When It’s Also Ash Wednesday

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It’s that time of year again. If you want proof that God has a sick and twisted sense of humor, look at your calendar. Not only does Ash Wednesday fall today, which is also Valentine’s Day, but Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.

For today, I want to focus on how you, fellow Catholics, can survive this day, whether you are single or in a relationship, because Valentine’s Day is hard enough as it is!

  1. If you’re in a relationship, be creative with what you cook for dinner tonight. If dinner is your “big meal,” try making a cheese pizza (no meat) or some nice salmon filets. Or make plans to eat out at a restaurant on Saturday and use today as an opportunity to practice patience!
  2. If you’re single, make breakfast your “big meal.” Having a healthy breakfast will help you have enough energy for the rest of the day.
  3. Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day: water, orange juice, vegetable juice, milk, or hot chocolate if you’re in the Valentine’s mood. Hot chocolate doesn’t count as a meal or a snack, at least not for me.
  4. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, spend time in Adoration today! Check if your local church has the Blessed Sacrament exposed or just spend time in prayer.
  5. Remember that all the Valentine’s Day candy will be very cheap tomorrow. But don’t be a glutton!
  6. Use today as an opportunity to practice charity, which is a higher form of love than just romantic love. Be kind to everyone you meet today, even the person who cuts you off in traffic.
  7. If you’re sick of the Fifty Shades hype, check out Fight The New Drug’s anti-abuse campaign!
  8. If you’re wondering what romantic-related show you should watch today, the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice is on Hulu, as well as Sense and Sensibility (mini-series, not the Ang Lee version). You can’t beat the classics!
  9. Enjoy these penitential Valentine cards from Jason Bach Cartoons!
  10. #MementoMori: Remember that death is inevitable, even on Valentine’s Day.

 

Happy VaLENTine’s Day, everyone!