Sunday, 24 June 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Half-Blood Prince

And we're back at it again with my godson and his journey through the Harry Potter movies! This time he brings us his review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)!

Voldemort continues to increase both his army and powers but Dumbledore and Harry Potter don't seem very worried and are going on a trip through the city together. There are bridges being destroyed and Harry is just reading a newspaper in a pastry shop. But don't think that the Hogwarts director is more worried! Instead of hurrying to cast half a dozen spells on Voldemort and his henchmen, he prefers to visit an abandoned house. They light up their wands and start searcing other people's houses as if it were their own. If I lived closeby, I wouldn't hesitate on calling the police to tell them that there were two wizards invading private property!

Harry and Albus go through the lot until, amidst the confusion, the mess and dirt, is a very neat armchair. That, of course, catches Dumbledore's attention and, as a grown child, he can't resist touching it. It causes the chairs to suddenly get a head and limbs! I, just for precaution, would soon send a Stupefy to that creature but the director of Hogwarts and Harry do nothing, showing some inattention and lack of preparation to deal with surprise attacks. Then you realise that, after all, the armchair was just a person, Horace Slughorn, with the habit of transforming himself into furniture in abandoned houses during his free time. Dumbledore is so impressed by his talents that he hires him as a teacher at the magic school.

Further on, Draco acts suspiciously and Snape vows to help him complete Voldemort's missions. Already in Hogwarts, Harry Potter discovers a book that belonged to a mysterious prince and uses it to cheat in potions class to win a bottle of Felix Felicis. I believe a student who has this kind of attitude should be punished! Stealing other people's stuff and copying the work is reprehensible. But  Harry escapes a penalty from lack of material and a reprimand by making a soup of can burn leaves. For those who only eat soup, it's cream and don't like green stuff floating around, here is a good potion. Otherwise I do'nt see its usefulness.

One day, Harry Potter is out walking with his friends in the snow and sees a girl being a victim of spells! She levitates really high and her mouth is wide open before being thrown back to the ground. It's a beautiful show but it didn't seem be very relevant plot-wise. Dumbledore wants Harry to approach the new teacher to see if he catches him distracted and removes one of those strands of hair that go into the water to see memories. Harry immediately starts being the teacher's pet. Every day, all the time, he's always being very attentive and very curious and, what on the one hand entertains the viewer, on the other hand annoys a lot. Malfoy goes to the basement and finds a box so old that there are mice in there, puts an apple there and some time later it's already a bit chewed.

I was trying to ignore that irritating little girl's crush on Ron but the part where the introduction and development intersect in this film is very confusing because of all the cuts between scenes so the actions rarely have a beginning, middle and end in a same scene and that affects my critical appreciation. So here's a paragraph to say I believe it's wrong! I know that Ron's going to be with Hermione, but that girl is already annoying me, so I think it's appropriate to leave it very explicit here! What's good is that this doesn't last too long because from then on Ron is poisoned and grabs Hermione's hand, which leaves the other girl pretty pissed off.

Moving on, and to make up for all this irritation, Harry sends a Sectumsempra to Malfoy to teach him a lesson! That's right, Harry! Continuing the cut done earlier to get Slughorn's spaghetti, Harry gets him drunk and thus, finishes his mission. In the spaghetti it's apparent that the new potions teacher taught Tom Riddle to make horcruxes. All these horcruxes must be destroyed to kill Voldemort so Harry and Dumbledore go to a cave to go boating and drink lemon juice with a shell. Then they're attacked by many bugs but they manage to escape. However, the Horcrux had already been stolen and so they failed to destroy it. When they return to Hogwarts, Snape kills Dumbledore, which makes me very angry. Hogwarts is taken over by the Black Forces!

As for the characters in particular:
Horace Slughorn: Has a strange hobby of disguising himself as furniture, but other than that he proves to be useful at the end of the movie.

Severus Snape: I always said he was bad and in this movie he proved it. In the end it's known that he's the mysterious prince.

Harry Potter: some lack of preparation to deal with the bad guys but still a nice Sectumsempra against Malfoy and Snape. I didn't like to see him make Dumbledore drink sour water.

Dumbledore: he's the martyr of this film; begins with a dark hand and ends up dead, having to drink expired things in order to get a necklace. I enjoyed his performance during the series although I think that if he was so powerful he could've shown more on certain occasions.

Voldemort: is gaining ground but didn't appear much, it's boring.

Love: Damn! But was this movie released on Valentine's Day? It wasn't! It was on July! Was it necessary to show the characters' adolescense so clearly? Maybe it wasn't! The subject of the moment stopped being Voldemort dominating the world and happened to be Ron, Hermione and the annoying girl... Harry and Ron's sister... The other boy that I don't know the name and Hermione! If I was Voldemort I would have been upset and in the next movie I would start to killing people! So they won't leave him in the background!

In conclusion, it's a extremely difficult movie to summarize because the actions don't have a logical sequence, the scenes are cut by other ones that have nothing to do with the first one and often important things remain to be said because they're spaced for more than 10 minutes. Of course this happens in several movies, but I found some unnecessary cuts in this one.

Don't miss out on his next review on the Half-Blood Prince! If you haven't read the previous ones so far, you can find them over here:

You can also find me @ | | | | |

Sunday, 17 June 2018

I Tried Yoga For the First Time

You might not know this, but a couple of months ago I signed up at the gym next to my house and have been consistently working out there. They offer a wide range of group classes but I ususally go to Body Pump since it's the one that makes me feel strong and that has the best schedule for me. I hadn't tried any other ones, mostly because of the schedule they're on - I have been meaning to try the one for your glutes, abs and legs but they don't do them as often as Body Pump. My goal is to try most of them at least once so I know which ones I enjoy and which ones I don't (I already know RPM will kill me so will stay as far away from that for the longest time possible).

The gym usually has Yoga scheduled for Saturday mornings (9h15-10h15) and since I'd been feeling sort of stiff lately, and want to improve my flexibility, I thought I could try this class first. So this past Saturday I woke up early (as always, because apparently my body is no longer capable of sleeping past 8h30) and marched towards the gym. I got there one minute before 9h and a line was already forming to get the tickets for the class and, as a result, my expectations rose. I looked around and realised a few of my future companions had also brought their own yoga mats so I immediately started to wonder if I should've brought my own as well and making mental calculations on how long it'd take me to go back home to get mine - I had time to do that but I chose to take the risk anyway, since I also noticed a few people without their own mat.

I got inside the studio at the designated time, noticed how the average age was around 40-50 years old, and proceeded to copy the people who were already settled by getting a mat and a yoga block. They had also removed their shoes and socks so I assumed it was the standart practice and did the same. The instructor then started the class and we started by saluting the sun, which was sort of weird because we were inside a building, and it basically consisted in a lot of stretching upwards and quick exhalations. After we were done saluting the sun we started the hard moves (to me, at least). The were a lot of "mukhas" involved, I discovered I didn't have half the flexibility I thought I had and started to feel bad about myself because I was watching 60-year-old ladies doing better than me, but I'm sure that's because they were regulars (at least I hope so). You feel your muscles working (and sometimes screaming at you), and halfway through I realised yoga isn't about stretching your muscles to unstiffen them, but rather to work them and work on your breathing as well, although there is some stretching involved as well.

I'm not sure yoga is for me. I understand the appeal it can have but I simply couldn't turn off my mind and was constantely thinking about something else instead of focusing in the now. I had some problems with the breathing part as well: the instructor counted how long each breathe was supposed to be but honestly, if I breathed like the counting I'd probably run out of oxygen. I did enjoy her very much, though, because she kept saying what we were supposed to be doing all the time (and modifications) so if someone is used to the names of the positions they can do it themselves without having to constantly look at her, like I was doing. The easiest part of the class was, by far, the final 5 minutes where we just lied on the mat, breathing with our eyes closing - I'm sure this is the only position I can easily do.

Have you tried yoga before? What did you think about it? Let me know!

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Sunday, 10 June 2018

Trip to Belgium & The Netherlands (Part 1: Or the Land of the Waffles)

For this year's trip the boyfriend and I decided to do a combo in a week: Belgium and the Netherlands. We chose May because the weather is usually nice without it being too hot (sweet summer children) and it's not crowded with tourists yet. So we booked our flights (to Brussels and from Amsterdam), our hotels, packed our bags and spent a week doing the Benelux thing without Luxembourg because honestly, it didn't even occur to me we could also add Luxembourg until we had everything planned.

Our flight from Lisbon to Brussels was supposed to take off at 11h but by that time we hadn't even begun boarding and were later informed the plane had arrived late and we were waiting for a crew member to show up. Needless to say, we actually took off one hour after the scheduled time and instead of landing at 14h45, we landed at 15h30. We caught the train heading to Knokke and climbed off in Gare du Nord where we caught the metro (line 3) to Bourse and checked in at Hotel Atlas. The hotel has an amazing location, very central, you can easily walk to most of the sights in the center of Brussels and, as it is located between two metro stations, it's possible to reach the more remote places very quickly. It has a LIDL on the back street and the Carrefour Express is relatively close too (can you guess where we had our meals while there?). We then proceeded to use the rest of the afternoon to visit the Zinneke Pis, Grand Place, Manneken Pis and Jeanneke-Pis (which ended up being a disappointment because it's behind bars), St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Parc de Bruxelles, Palais de Bruxelles and the Triumphal Arch. We did most of them walking from the hotel except the last one, where we caught the metro.

We went to G(h)ent on the second day in Belgium by train from Bruxelles Central. The trains are very reliable in Belgium and it costs around 6€ (<25 years old) to travel anywhere. The trip took us about 30 minutes and when we got there we realised their metro only accepts coins and it doesn't even give you the change. After buying something to eat so we could change our notes to get coins, we caught the metro towards Saint Bavo's Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal) and from there roamed around and walked to the Belfort, Saint Nicholas' Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk), Sint-Michielsbrug, Sint Veerleplein and Gravensteen. Gent is a very picturesque little town and I would totally recommend you to visit for half a day if you have the time.

On our third day we caught the train again, this time past Gent towards Bruges where I met a friend who's studying there. We didn't have a lot planned for this day because she took charge of our itinerary, and who's better than a local? We walked from the station to the main square (it's about 1.5km) where we met her and she began her tour. So, from the Grote Markt you can see the Historium and the Belfort, which we didn't go into. We then headed to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the pretty City Hall. We also visited two abbeys, one hospital and the lake Minnewater but mostly we roamed around in the pretty streets, bridges and canals and she knew where the best spots were, so it was very nice! We almost took a boat tour (and they're supposed to be worth it) but the weather was absolutely DISGUSTING that day, with a terribly icy wind so we decided not to. Bruges was, without any doubt, the prettiest city I visited in Belgium and it's an absolute must if you go there.

Our stay in Brussels wouldn't be complete if we didn't try their waffles, which was exactly what we did on the fourth day. Before that, we went to Place Sainte Catherine and took the metro to the Atomium. Back to the center, we chose a little place near the Manneken Pis called Le Funambule to eat our chocolate waffles (which are amazing and I can't recommend enough). We then headed to check out in our hotel and catch a train towards Antwerp, the land of the diamonds and with the prettiest central train station I've ever set my feet in, where we stayed in the Astoria Hotel. The location is very good, you can easily walk from the central train station, and the rooms are large and spacious with very good variety at breakfast time, despite being sort of an old hotel. Since we arrived before the check in time we decided to leave our luggage in the store room and explore the city. We walked to Saint Carolus Borromeus Church (Sint-Carolus Borromeuskerk), Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp, the City Hall (which was being renovated, unfortunately) in the Grote Markt with Brabo's Monument and descended into St. Anna's Tunnel to walk 500m to the other side of the river. This tunnel was opened in 1933 and you can still access it using the authentic wooden escalators which were unique at the opening. Honestly, I didn't find Antwerp as pretty as Bruges or Gent but the main square is worth a visit. You can easily do Antwerp in one morning and then head to the Netherlands instead of spending the night there like we did, in my opinion.

Overall, I enjoyed Belgium but, in my opinion (and I believe the boyfriend shares it), the food is too expensive and they have a weather problem (so do pack accordingly). One never knows what they should wear when leaving the house because they manage to have the four different seasons in one day: it's winter in the morning, spring starts around the middle of the morning peaking at summer around lunch time and then we have autumn with rain and sometimes we go back to the winter during the afternoon as well. One never knows...

As always, the pictures here are a small sample of the hundreds I took while there so if you're curious about the places I've mentioned you can check my instagram. Now, since we went to two countries and this post is already long enough, I decided to split into two parts. So don't miss part 2 of our trip: the land of the windmills!

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Sunday, 3 June 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Order of the Phoenix

My godson and his journey through the Harry Potter movies are back! This time he brings us his review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)!

Harry Potter is now old enough to play football but prefers to go swinging instead. He is, therefore, mocked by his cousin and when he's ready to start punishing him, rain starts to pour down and they have to find shelter in a tunnel where Dementors appear. But Harry Potter, using magic, manages to save himself and his cousin. Then some old lady, Potter's neighbour, appears and says she was instructed by Dumbledore to watch over the wizard prodigy. I'd like to leave here a remark about the work of the old woman who, for a bodyguard, wasn't even able to draw her wand to prevent the monsters sucking the face of two teenagers. On a private security scale I believe the traditional "gorillas" would do a better job of punching the vile creatures.

The main character then returns to his uncles' home where he receives a letter from the ministry informing him that he's been expelled from Hogwarts for doing the magic that saved his life. I know people who would love this card system to be real so they could send angry messages from a distance. When the uncles leave the house, Harry is rescued by the drunk professor and a few of his mates. One of them wears a funnel in his head so he's either escaped from a psychiatric institution or is the man from the "Wizard of Oz".

Harry spends the night at the Order of the Phoenix headquarters and the next day he goes to a sort of trial where he'll be confronted with the irregularities he practiced against the Dementors. I thought that Harry Potter, alone against a "judge" who had been bribed by Lucius Malfoy, would automatically be doomed, but suddenly Dumbledore appears in his defense. I'm not sure about his attorney fees but I don't think they'll be cheap. I believe Potter will have spent a small part of his parents' fortune to hire a lawyer in this category.

Acquitted of all charges, he returns to Hogwarts where he learns about the arrival of a new teacher, a lady who at his hearing and tried to expel him from Hogwarts. It soon becomes apparent that her teaching methods are quite different from the other teachers. Students should only learn the theory because, in the opinion of the teacher and the ministry, there is no need for more than that. The teacher starts gaining power at Hogwarts, which makes me deeply angry, anxious and hopeful that Harry will quickly cast a spell on her to put her in order!

Harry then joins a small team to play spells against Voldemort's team. The Dumbledore Army squad has a few stars but most of them are people that don't know how to work with their wands. In order to make things a bit more balanced, Potter organizes training sessions in a secret room to create routines in the team and thus wining. At the end of the movie we watched the most exciting battle so far and the long-awaited use of stronger spells. Dumbledore, who's supposed to be a great sorcerer, is playing with water balls while a disheveled woman kills Sirius Black.

Now about the characters in this movie:

She's probably the most irritating person in the history of the cinema, whenever she appears on the screen I have to clench both my fists and teeth, muttering imperceptible enraged things. For about two hours I was eager for justice. So many people in that school and no one has a clue how to put her in line? If they aren't able to think of new and innovative methods of humiliating teachers what kind of students are these? At least get her coat on fire! It worked with Snape! I always complained about my primary school class but the truth is that if some of my classmates were to be magical, at least one pushpin in Dolores's chair was certain! When the viewer thinks he can not get angrier and is already chewing the popcorn so hard that he doesn't even feel the corn kernels, the school continuum develops a crush on the teacher and they start a kind of double to control Harry Potter and ban everything and anything else at that school. At this point I can no longer express anger in words. I will then pause while I count to ten and take a deep, slow breath...

At his age he should have gained a little bit of judgment and not be involved in silly and childish plays such as not talking to Harry Potter. She won't even look at him! I don't know if they're angry at each other or what happened, but with Voldemort gaining ground, I don't think it's wise to go through half of the movie with his back turned.

As final thoughts I can only say:
Now that's what I'm talking about! I have been repeatedly asking for more powerful spells and now I've finally seen something. In the final battle you can already see some seemingly powerful spells. And the "good" side already has good spells and is gaining quality by the movie. Ignoring the sad death of Sirius Black, I was glad to realize that there is a chance the Hogwarts school will defeat Voldemort.

Don't miss out on his next review on the Half-Blood Prince! If you haven't read the previous ones so far, you can find them over here:

You can also find me @ | | | | |

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Be a little kinder than you have to.

I was looking for something light and easy to read and this book had been sitting on my shelf for a while now so I decided to bring it with me for my trip to Belgium and The Netherlands, hoping it would last me the whole week (it didn't). We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

So what exactly is it about? It's a book about beautiful and distinguished family, the Sinclairs, and history. It's about a private island, where this family spends their summers every year, real estate and distorted, juvenile Marxist ideals. It's about a brilliant, damaged girl and a passionate, political boy, and a group of four cousins - the Liars - who've been inseparable all summer, every year, and whose friendship turns destructive. It's about memory loss, plain old loss, and recovery. It's about privilege and money, the way they can wrap people and rip families apart - and the drastic steps some self-righteous kids might take to free themselves of the tyranny of material possessions. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. Also, it has a plot twist. And another.

Have I convinced you yet? No? Here's 5 reasons why you should read it, then:

1 - The writing style
It's not very descriptive but it's poetic prose and it has a nice flow to it. It's very simple in a way you can follow everything and still be amazed but how it all comes together in a big picture. It's about feelings and sensations and you're not just reading a book, you're experiencing everything with the narator.

2 - Go in blind
I feel like the best experience with this book is when you go in blind (which is what I did). Don't try to search for a lot more of the plot because it'll ruin the whole book and the experience.

3 - It's small
So it's easy to go through it quickly and believe me, you'll want to do just that.

4 - You'll get invested
Cady is seventeen and she hit her head when she was swimming during summer, two years ago. She doesn't remember what caused it to happened and everyone in the family refuses to talk about what happened so this is her journey to finding out how did the accident happen. And you get to discover that with her, step by step! You'll become invested in the story and, everytime she finds out something new, you'll gasp with her! And, finally, you'll let out of your lips the final gasp when you read the final twist.

5 - It'll stick with you
You'll want to go back and reread it. Believe me, you'll think about it after you're done (whether you liked it or not). I'm crossing my fingers, hoping this will turn into a movie because I think it has a lot of potential!

So take home message? Just read it. Do yourself a favour and read it. You can order it on BookDepository with free shipping and then you can thank me and we can scream about the ending together! Oh, and if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE!

Do not accept an evil you can change.

You can also find me @ | | | | |

Saturday, 19 May 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Goblet of Fire

Have you missed my godson's journey through the Harry Potter films? Well, today he's back at it again with his review of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)!

Unlike the previous chapters, this movie doesn't start with Harry being the victim of mistreatment in his uncles' house. Instead, we find ourselves with an old man trying to enter an abandoned house. Probably a homeless friend of Professor Lupin and Sirius Black. When he manages to get inside, he encounters that balding and very clumsy rat-man talking to someone sitting in an armchair. The only thing we could see form the person resting in the armchair was a skeletal hand poiting with his finger, recognized by all movie lovers. Shortly after this, the character notices the presence of the homeless and, instead of offering him coffee and cookies, shoots him a spell. I would never say that E.T. didn't enjoy guests.

Harry Potter and Ron are woken up by Hermione in a hovel they must have rented. Oh, well... Teenagers are like this, they rebel against their families and go live in herds. They pick their housing according to their degree of drug addiction: small apartments next to universities for the sporadic users, hippy wagons for the usual consumer and houses in ruins for the most serious cases. Drugs and summer festivals are the top pastimes of teenagers, and Harry's group is ready to go to a festival when they meet the Twilight vampire. Turns out he's playing the stud-role, judging the way Hermione looks (there's no need for that, we all know he ends up with Bella Swan). By now, you should know my opinion about characters who play a stud-role: I always suspect that they're malicious or that they hide secrets. I will watch Edward Cullen's behavior with suspicion. The main signs that tell us we have reached teenhood are long hair, sleeping till noon, drug usage and attendance at festivals. No doubt that Harry Potter, his friends and the other people who walk behind them (I think it's Ron's family) meet all these requirements.

But, fortunately, adolescence gives us as much as it takes from us, and Harry has acquired a bit of responsibility. After a fire at the festival they travel by train to Hogwarts because holidays are very nice but studies come first. During the trip, a lady walks past with a cart full of sweets, just like the ones Harry bought in the first movie. Ron buys some things and Harry was already ready to buy the whole cart when a girl anticipates herself and gets some candy. I don't know whether it's because he has gained some economic sense or because he likes to buy things before they are opened by other people, Harry ends up not buying the whole candy cart. At Hogwarts, Dumbledore announces that they will host the Triwizard Tournament, where three schools meet and compete with a student in a game involving three tasks. The director of one of them, Madame Maxime, is a giant and only there to distract Hagrid, throughout the film, who doesn't realise that it's a disguise to destroy his heart. It's certainly Voldemort's ploy to prevent Hagrid from helping Harry: being always around her, Hagrid won't remember that Harry might need help. Then a drunken man with a strange eye comes in and starts firing spells everywhere.

The singing up method for the competition is confusing and no wonder it will later give problems. Whoever wishes to register must fill out their application, which is nothing more than their name on a piece of paper and throw it into the fire. When the contestants are chosen, Harry is among them and no one's happy about it. Personally, I think it's the way they made the students to sign up. Hogwarts goes ahead with two candidates while each of the other schools only has one. In the first task, Harry runs away from a dragon to fly on a broom until the animal flies against a bridge and he manages to steal his egg. In the second, more complicated, Harry eats some spinach that gives him fins and lets him breathe under water. I'm not sure if this shouldn't have been considered dopping, since his opponents only had a shark mask, air bubble and I'm not even sure about the other one. The third and final test is a maze in which Harry Potter, boasting himself, even launches fireworks before victory. After winning he's transported to the presence of Voldemort where they fight a semi-epic battle, given that he flees halfway.

About the characters in this saga:

At the beginning we only see a skeletal hand and a stretched finger so we conclude that this time Voldemort is masked as E.T. At the end of the movie the rat man mercilessly shoots a baby into a boiling cauldron and adds Harry Potter's blood and a bone. From this mix a sort of fish with legs is born, saying he is Voldemort but I don't believe it. During the saga we were following Voldemort's preference for bald heads, so it's no surprise to anyone that the fish it's said he has turned into is also bald. When I was younger, I was offered a toy, apparently made of plastic figures. Playing time consisted in immersing these dolls in water and, as if by magic, within a while, they became jelly dolls several times larger than the original ones. I confess I've never experimented with a Dark Lord but I have to take my hat off to Peter Pettigrew for the idea. Then this legged fish duels with Harry Potter but he manages to escape.

They say he's a great wizard but so far he hasn't been able to do much. At lighting up and extinguishing candles he's the greatest but when it comes to defeating enemies, he leaves a lot to be desired. Both he and Snape are very weak, doing only the most basic spells. If they don't improve quickly they will take serious risks in the next films, moreover now that the fish that killed the vampire is quite strong and will soon get inside Hogwarts. I think Dumbledore is out of energy and should think about retirement. At some point he starts taking out of his hair a few strands of spaghetti and puts them in a pot, he looks in and says that he is remembering things... I seriously don't think he's in good shape, he's a nice person, yes, but we need someone more suitable.

I confess that I distrusted this boy early in the movie, but after all he's a decent guy. It's urgent to appeal against the prejudices towards vampires, as he could totally be in the sunlight and didn't see him bite anyone. He even helped Harry Potter in the triward competition.

Hermione and Ron
They finally gained some personality and left Harry alone. This kept them from getting into trouble. Earlier, I had warned that if this didn't happen, they would all die because of Harry's foolish ideas. Fortunately they gained some sense and stayed unarmed.

He's a drunk guy who appears firing up his wand in the air, killing spider and to turning students into weasels. Throughout the entire film he's been hanging on to the alcohol. Note that he's a very powerful wizard and helps Harry Potter on several occasions. When his drink finishes, he starts to bubble until he turns into the son of the Head of the Department of International Cooperation in Magic, a friend of Voldemort's, as he'd been seen in one of Dumbledore's spaghetti. The real Moody is inside an ark. I don'tt know if the real Moody is going to stay at Hogwarts but I do not think so.

As my final thoughts, with some cheating involved, the school of Hogwarts got the trophy. I confess that at this point I expected more powerful spells from the "good ones." The "bad guys" have very good and strong spells, while Hogwarts only seems to teach how to light up the tip of a magic wand. If the teachers think that they're going to beat the great Lord of black magic with Expelliarmus and Wingardium Leviosa they are well deceived.

Don't miss out on his next review on the Order of Phoenix! If you haven't read the previous ones so far, you can find them over here:

You can also find me @ | | | | |

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Eurovision 2018

Despite the fact that I tell myself I really don't care about this contest, every year, without failing, I sit in front of the tv and watch it just to confirm if Portugal is still the worst one. I did have a big surprise last year, but I wasn't very hopeful for this year. I mean, only Spain, Luxembourg and Israel have ever won twice in a row so the bar was set very low for us!

For the most distracted people (or american population that may follow my blog in general), the Eurovision Song Contest is the longest-running annual international TV contest of all time, currently in its 63rd year with over 40 countries eligible to compete. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the competition's winning entry. The final result is calculated with 50% the country's juri vote, whom I have no idea who they are, and the other 50% the public at home and there's usually a lot of politics involved, like neighbours voting for neighbours. For this contest, we bring it all in and we basically have two different kinds of performances: ballads and weird wtf songs.

So last year, Portugal managed to score their first victory, ending the longest winless run by a country in Eurovision history (53 years). Salvador Sobral got us another record as well: the highest scoring winner under the current voting system, with 758 points. And, as the winning country, that meant we got to host this year. Not surprisingly, though, we ended up in last place, back to our usual spot. This time, the UK even managed a higher score than us!

My favourite and, to me, the rightful winner was "You Let Me Walk Alone" by Michael Schulte from Germany. I also enjoyedo "Fuego" by Eleni Foureira from Cyprus with her Beyonce vibes (who ended up in second place), "Outlaw in 'Em" by Waylon from The Netherlands, who brought some country to the competition, austrian Kanye West mixed with Craig David vibes with "Nobody but You" by Cesár Sampson (who was also competing for the trophy right until the end) and estonian Elina Nechayeve with "La Forza" who got a good public vote position. Honestly, though, I would have loved to see the british SuRie with "Storm" win, since despite all the security involved, someone managed to get in the stage and steal her microphone (not shown in the video), but she managed to finish strong anyway (she was given the chance to perform again but declined)! Had she won, next year, after Brexit day, the UK would be forced to host a massive celebration of European unity and diversity!

Honorable mentions go to Ukraine, with a vampire kid who made me Google where Transylvania is actually situated (Romania, not Ukraine), Czech Republic with its MC Hammer vibes, Hungary with its metal-rock, and Denmark's artist who, despite the need of men up in the Wall of Ice, still managed to sing at the contest.

Now, I've given you five good winning potential songs, in my opinion. Those fall into the ballad option of Eurovision songs. Let me now tell you about the winning song, which definitely falls into the weird category. The winner was "Toy" by Netta from Israel, which apparently was a favourite when it comes to the betting pools, and combines a trademark chicken dance, electronic dance song, japanese manga and women's empowerment lyrics. So, as you can see (and hear), it had everything to be a major hit!

All in all, I have a mix of good feelings about the contest. I'm satisfied with Portugal's score - so much pride in fighting for the last place, I like to think we were such good hosts we didn't want anyone to feel sad about scoring last. However, I'm unhappy with the winner. While I get how Netta won, I still feel like my favourite Michael Schulte was injusticed and deserved the trophy. I will definitely be following Eurovision 2019 in Israel and I hope it's even better (read: weirder) than the 2018 edition!

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