Thursday, December 8, 2016

Westworld Season 2: Top 10 Fan Theories

First things first: A round of applause for Westworld's die hard fans who have made a name for themselves for coming up with not only plausible theories, but plausible theories that actually came true. On more than one occasion! From the one on Arnold being a host, to William being a younger version of The Man in Black, and of course, the fact that there are multiple timelines. So, it is only fair that the Net is now clogged with fan theories on what Season 2 will be about.

In case you haven't realized, these entry has major spoilers up ahead. Here are the theories:

1) The show is set in the year 2052

The biggest mystery of the show has to be how far in the future does it takes place. The answer could have been in a security camera footage that we can find on the mock Delos website. The footage shows the date Maeve tries to break free from the theme park, which is on the 15th of June, 2052. This video has since been removed from the website, which indicates the show's creators don't wish to make things to obvious to us considering many fans have figured out most of the plot twists. 

2) Next Season might be set in Samurai World

While attempting to escape, Maeve, Felix, Hector and Armistice come across a different section of the theme park's headquarters with a different logo than the usual 'W' on the entrance. This logo says 'SW', which could mean Samurai World based on the androids we see inside. Could it be that the next season will be set in Samurai World instead? Or could each season be set in a different World? Or will Westworld still be the main setting, but other parks will be depicted alongside it? 

3) Dr. Ford Created a Replica of Himself

During the finale when Ford is unveiling his new narrative, he states, “Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music.”Earlier in the show, when Bernard murdered Theresa, the camera was focusing on a machine making a new host, suggesting that Ford is creating a host replica of Theresa to help him control Delos. However, this was never the case.  Could it be, like how Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin continue to live through their music, Ford wishes to remain immortal by becoming a host?

4) Dolores Shot a Replica of Dr. Ford

There is a possibility Dolores simply shot the replica of Dr. Ford, while the human Dr. Ford is hiding away safely somewhere, hatching a plan for world domination by using his androids. Remember how the camera lingered a tad bit too long on his hands when he was shaking Bernard's. Strange hands were the sign of the hosts in the original 1973 film. Even in the second episode, Dr. Ford explains how the earliest hosts were so underdeveloped that they were easily distinguishable from humans by a simple handshake. 

5) Felix Lutz is working with Dr. Ford 

The closest thing to a comic relief in this show are the Westworld butchers, Felix and Slyverster, who are both coincidentally (or not?) named after cartoon cats. Ever since Maeve seemingly gained consciousness, Felix appears to be blindly following her every word. We already know Maeve is still under someone's control even though she has been led to believe she has free will. Felix never points this out to her. Only Bernard does. Unlike his partner, Felix never questions Maeve's actions even though as human, he has more power over her and can easily report the malfunction to someone higher up. Could it be the innocent looking Livestock Management surgeon is secretly working for Dr. Ford, who has been orchestrating the events leading up to the disastrous gala night all along? 

6)  All the Hosts are Replicas of Real Humans

The original film's sequel Futureworld, and the TV series Beyond Westworld portrayed how Delos creates androids of actual people to replace them in the real world. Given that Westworld is a theme park for the wealthy and powerful, could it be that it is ultimately one big memorial for the elite one percent? In this TV show, we are shown Dolores' grave. Could it be that the original, human Dolores Abernathy could have been a patron of the theme park who was immortalized as am android host? After her death, she was buried in the theme park. The same could have been with the real Maeve Millay, who is now either an old woman, or has died while her android version is now a host. 

7) Charlotte Hale is Maeve's Daughter 

This leads us to our next theory. It is possible Delos executive director Charlotte Hale also had a host version as a child but was killed off to make a convincing story line. Many feel that the note Maeve receives that contains her daughter's location is hinting at the existence of other theme parks which Delos owns. But if it was another theme park, wouldn't it make more sense to be called Eastworld, or Samurai World or Roman World instead? Why is it called Park 1 then? Within Westworld itself, there are multiple wild-wild-west-themed settings such as the cowboy town, the canyons, the Mexican town and many others. Could Park 1 be the the location where the gala night is being held? And Maeve is simply going there to finally meet her daughter? 

8) Charlotte Hale is William's Daughter

So, Charlotte and William, who we now know is The Man in Black, clearly know each other. But how is Charlotte black while Juliet, Logan's sister, is white? Maybe Charlotte is not Juliet's daughter. Maybe she is William's daughter through a mistress or something? That explains why William killed Maeve and her daughter in an earlier narrative; he wants revenge against the human Maeve for ruining his marriage and ultimately leading to his wife's suicide. But then again, he told Teddy his daughter's name is Emily, which could be his legitimate daughter, or a name he just made up since he does lie a few times. Like how he lied about Wyatt and Dolores being two separate individuals. Okay, that is quite a stretch. But if Charlotte is indeed William's daughter, that would make his full name William Hale a suitable name for a character like this. William Hale is the name of a 19th century rocket maker, a time period that Westworld is based on. It is also the name of a murderer who was under the FBI's investigation in the same period. There is even a modern Wiliam Hale, who is a film director who has made some famous cowboy films. 

9) Elsie and Ashley are still Alive

Behavioral programmer Elsie was last seen trying to uncover the mysterious staff member who was leaking information about the theme park through a satellite. We were shown someone grabbing her, who was later revealed to be Bernard and we were led to believe that he killed her. Meanwhile, head of security Ashley Stubbs was last seen investigating Elsie’s active location marker in an area of the park called Sector 20 when he was taken by the Ghost Nation hosts. The finale did not reveal their fate. Once again, we need to refer to the show's official website for answers. There is a video showing Elsie's locator device being tracked in Sector 20. Since Elsie has been shown to feel sorry for the hosts, maybe she is working with the Ghost Nation hosts or perhaps she is working to unveil the truth about the theme park. Also, there is a short audio recording of Elsie saying, "Hello?", suggesting she is trying to make contact with headquarters. Apart from that, Dr. Ford admitted to Bernard he has never killed anyone before Theresa. Although Ford is known to not favour his fellow humans much by telling them half truths, it is very unlikely he is a liar. Perhaps there is a bigger reason Elsie and Ashley's fate is not revealed. Perhaps they will lead the human resistance against the hosts. 

10) Westworld is set on an island, or a different planet 

So we have probably solved the question on the show's time setting. But what about the place setting? A popular theory is that the theme park is located on a colonized Mars, or another planet that is not Earth. This could be possible considering the sculpture shown in underground level of the headquarters. The sculpture is of a planet, that upon closer observation, looks nothing like Earth. Another possibility is that the theme park is on a very large artificial island on Earth itself. After all, the theme park is owned by a company called Delos. In the finale, we see Maeve's story line that has been predetermined for her, and the last act states "Infiltrate Mainland." This suggests that the outside world is the mainland while the park is on an island. Furthermore, for the ancient Greeks, Delos is a sacred island as it is considered the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. In 88 BC, the king of Pontus attacked the island and its people were either slaughtered or enslaved and its treasures were looted.

What do you think of these fan theories? Have we left anything out? Or do you have any theories of your own. Please let us know in the comment section below. 

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Monday, December 5, 2016

American Heiresses of Britain

In the 2015 American Gothic romance film, Crimson Peak, the heroin is the daughter of a wealthy businessman in New York. She marries the hero, who is a poor nobleman from England who has come to the United States in search of investors to finance for his latest invention. The story is fictional, but the situation described here was very common in the late 19th century. Many British aristocrats struggling financially married wealthy American heiresses to maintain their lifestyle. These unions between Old World fortune-hunting aristocracy and New World title-seeking money would be dubbed The Transatlantic Marriages.

Towards the end of the 19th century, America's economy was growing at a rapid pace and the country produced many billionaires. American businessmen like Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built railways; Andrew Carnegie, who produced steel, and Isaac Singer, who made sewing machines were all born into middle-class families but grew up to become successful billionaires. Meanwhile, Britain was facing an agricultural depression due to the rise of cheap transportation thanks to the invention of steamships. As a result, members of the British aristocracy who had lived wealthy lives for generations were now facing dwindling income. 

Eventually, many wealthy American families married off their daughters to the sons of British aristocrats of that time. It was a good deal. These British aristocratic families would gain financially through the dowries to restore their lifestyles. In return, these American heiresses received the only two things their rich families could not buy them - a grand title and a high social status. The most famous of these 19th century American heiresses was Consuelo Vanderbilt, the daughter of the American railway billionaire Willie Vanderbilt. She married Sunny, Duke of Marlborough, in New York in 1895 in what many consider the wedding of the year. On that same year, nine other American heiresses married members of the British aristocracy. 

Another such American heiress was Mary Leiter, the daughter of a wealthy department store owner from Chicago. She married Lord Curzon, with a dowry of £1.5 million. Consuelo’s dowry was two times more than that. Then of course, there was the  daughter of a New York real-estate developer Jennie Jerome, She married the brother of the Duke of Marlborough, Lord Randolph Churchill. If that name rings a bell, then you would know she would go on to become the mother of Britain's historic wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill. Thanks to her beauty, political activeness and scandals, she become one of the most famous Americans to have ever lived in Britain

Before Consuelo and her peers, Minnie Stevens, daughter of Massachusetts hotel proprietors, famously married into the British aristocracy and became Minnie Paget, With her new found title, she secured her place so firmly within both British and American high society that she not only become close friends with the Prince of Wales himself, but even brokered other prolific Transatlantic unions. Even Consuelo's match was one of the many which Minnie arranged for. 

Transatlantic matches became a trend in those days so much so that an entire industry of professional matchmakers was born. If an American heiress wanted to become a British aristocrat, she had to buy magazines like the one called The Titled American which contained a list of American ladies who have married foreigners with titles. The magazine also published lists of eligible aristocratic European bachelors and widowers with titles complete with details of their age, property and titles. 

So, why were these American heiresses so interested in titles and social status? Why were they willing to give up exciting lives in the New World that was America and move back to the land of their ancestors in Europe? Wasn't their families' great wealth enough? Well, in upper-class American society of that time, everybody was rich. So, just having money was not enough to stand out. Having a title would further boost one's image. But America is a republic ever since it kicked out the British years ago. It does not have a royal family or aristocrats like European countries. Therefore, with many British aristocrats waiting in line to marry into rich families to restore their families' wealth, it was definitely a match made in heaven - literally. Apart from their immense wealth, American heiresses had other appealing factors as well compared to their British counterparts. Queen Victoria's son, the Prince of Wales summed up the sentiments of young British aristocrats of that day when he said, ‘American girls are livelier, better educated, and less hampered by etiquette. They are not so squeamish as their English sisters and they are better able to take care of themselves.’ 

But not was all happy and dandy for the American heiresses. In most cases, they ended up being just like the heroine in Crimson Peak. They would be isolated from the rest of the world in big, countryside mansions that might fall apart anytime with no proper heating and no modern bathrooms. This is especially true in Mary Leiter's case. After moving into Lord Curzon's mansion in Britain, she was shocked to learn that she had to bathe in a bath made of tin with hot water brought upstairs by the housemaid from the kitchen. Cornelia Martin, who married the Earl of Craven, complained that her husband's house was so cold that she only took off her fur when she went to bed. Mildred Sherman of Ohio, who became Lady Camoys, could not stand going to dinner every night in an evening dress because of the cold temperature. These conditions would have definitely been primitive to American heiresses brought up with proper steam heating and daily hot showers.

These American heiresses also did not understand British culture and hierarchy. For instance, Consuelo's butler was deeply offended when she asked him to light the fireplace, since this was a menial job meant for a footman. But this was not the biggest problem she faced. Her entire marriage was an unhappy one from the start. She was blackmailed into marrying the Duke by her mother and had to give up the boy she truly loved. On her honeymoon, she also learned the only reason the Duke married her was for her money to keep his estate going. Despite this, Consuelo and the Duke had two sons but started to live apart and eventually got divorced. This marriage was such an unfortunate one that it became a symbol of the socially advantageous, but loveless marriages of that time. 

However, some of these marriages were successful. Like for Mary Leiter who married Lord Curzon. He needed her fortune to maintain his estate in Kedleston Hall, the largest private house in England and also to finance his political career. This paid off when Curzon was appointed Viceroy of India. As the First Lady of India, Mary became the highest-ranking American in the history of the British Empire. Another successful Transatlantic marriage was that of May Goelet, an American heiress who married the Duke of Roxburghe in 1903. He made it clear to the media that he was not a gold digger, although his wife's fortune was a great blessing to him. Mary had a great life at her husband's estate.

Not all American heiresses remained mere socialites with their father's money and their husband's titles. Take Nancy Langhorne Shaw for example. This Virginia-born divorcée married William Waldorf Astor, a member of the British branch of the renowned Astor family. She moved to Britain and eventually became the first female Member of Parliament. Despite this achievement, she is more famous for her outdated views on race, religion, gender and slavery.

The most successful of these Transatlantic marriages did not involve an impoverished British aristocrat at all. Instead, it involved the very much wealthy King of the United Kingdom - King Edward VIII, who married the twice-divorced member of a prominent Maryland family, Wallis Simpson. The Church of England did not approve of their King marrying a divorced woman. As a result, Edward famously abdicated so that he could be with the woman he loved. 

The Transatlantic Marriage lost its appeal after the First World War. By the 1940s, poor British aristocrats had fallen out of style and the newer generation of American heiresses preferred local movie stars. Grand titles lost their appeal when compared to international fame. As a result of these Transatlantic Marriages, a quarter of the British House of Lords had American connections by the end of the century. During those three decades when American heiresses were willing to move to Britain, they managed to directly and indirectly leave their mark in the land of their forefathers. They brought about almost $25 billion into the British economy and helped preserve many stately homes that are now popular tourist sites that still contribute to the tourism industry. They even produced two of the most famous Britons of the 20th century: Winston Churchill and Princess Diana.

Some famous American heiresses related through marriage into British aristocracy include:

1) Consuelo Montagu, Duchess of Manchester (godmother of Consuelo Vanderbilt)

2) Jeanette, Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill's mother)

3) Consuelo Vanderbilt (married to Winston Churchill's first cousin)

4) Gladys Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (married to Winston Churchill's first cousin)

5) Frances Ellen Work (protégé of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Princess Diana's great-grandmother)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: Top 12 Fan Theories Ranked

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them has been out for a few weeks now and the Potterheads have already gone crazy with the many fan theories out there. We thought we will make things easier for you guys who are just catching up by listing down and summarizing the top fan theories online along with video commentaries. Enjoy!

1) Leta Lestrange is Newt Scamander's Ex

When Queenie Goldstein, the Legilimens and Newt's possible future sister-in-law finds the framed picture of a beautiful young woman in his briefcase, it is immediately established that she is someone called Leta Lestrange. She will be played by Zoe Kravitz in future installments. From Newt's reaction hereafter, it is clear that Leta Lestrange is someone he has fond memories of although they might no longer be close for some unknown reason. However, even Queenie, who is American, seems to be informed of the Lestrange's reputation.

In the film's screenplay, it is revealed that Newt and Leta became friends because they shared a common interest in magical creatures. One day, Leta accidentally lets one of the creatures lose and puts other students' lives in danger. She is almost expelled until Newt steps in and takes the blame. Clearly, this implies they were both romantically involved. However, this scene was left out from the film for future installments. There is a possibility this might be changed in future movies.

So far, the most popular Lestrange family member that we know of through the Potter Universe is Bellatrix Lestrange, who is only part of the family through marriage. The Lestranges are one of the "Sacred 28" Pure Blood Wizarding families.Since Leta is Newt's contemporary, it is safe to assume she was born somewhere between the late 19th century or the early 20th century. There is a possibility that the Minister of Magic between 1835 and 1841, Rodolphus Lestrange might have been her grandfather.

It is unlikely to think that a Hufflepuff Zoologist like Newt who cares for other creatures would have anything to do with a member of a Pure Blood fanatic family like the Lestranges.  Maybe that is why Leta was never mentioned in the Potter Universe before. She might have been disowned just like Sirius Black and Andromeda Tonks because of being involved with a non-Pure Blood person. Or maybe she did eventually return to her Dark past, considering how Newt comments on how "people change".

Also, note how Lestrange sounds very French. This explains why the American Zoe Kravitz plays her in the franchise since JK Rowling only has British actors play British roles. But if Leta is French, then shouldn't she be a student at Beauxbatons, the French Wizarding school instead of the British Hogwarts? Rumour has it that the second Fantastic Beasts film will be set in Paris. So, we will probably see more of the Lestrange family there.

2) Newt Scamander knows Hagrid

Despite being the central character of this movie, nothing much is known about Newt's backstory. However, JK Rowling did reveal his backstory to Eddie Redmayne who plays him in the movie, not unlike how Alan Rickman knew everything about Snape before the last novel came out. All we know so far is that Newt was expelled from Hogwarts for allegedly endangering lives with a magical beast and that a pre-headmaster Professor Dumbledore tried to defend him.

Years later, as a young adult, Newt visits New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures and trouble ensues. He would then go on to write the textbook future Hogwarts students would use called 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.' A YouTuber argued how similar Newt is to Rubeus Hagrid. Both were interested in magical creatures, both were expelled from Hogwarts because of a beast, and their expulsions were argued against by Dumbledore. Surprisingly, Newt is allowed to own a wand while Hagrid is not allowed to own one. Is it because Newt eventually proved his innocence, or was that law on expelled students not being allowed to have a wand not invented yet?

Anyway, in the third Harry Potter film, it is revealed through the Mauraders' Map that Newt, who would have been in his 90s by then, visited Hogwarts. That is the same year Hagrid becomes professor of Care of Magic Creatures. Could it be possible that he was there to meet fellow magical creatures enthusiast? From the Harry Potter Wiki, we can see that Newt's book became a textbook for Hogwarts students when it was released in 1927. Hagrid was born a year later, which means he must have read the textbook, through which he developed an interest in fantastic beasts. Hagrid brings magical creatures like hippogriffs, unicorns, nifflers, and flobberworms into Hogwarts. Newt might have supplied them to him. Even Aragog reveals that he came to Hagrid in the pocket of a traveler. Could the traveler have been Newt himself? Who knows? Maybe future films in this new franchise might shed some light on this.

3) Ariana Dumbledore was an Obscurial 

JK Rowling uses metaphors and symbolism beautifully when telling her stories. The latest symbolism here is the Obscurus, which can be read in many ways. It can be read as a symbolism for repressed sexuality, as a symbolism for abused children, or who knows how many other ways. But the more literal use of the Obscurus is that it is some kind of destructive force that can erupt out of a young witch or wizard when they are forced to repress their magic inside themselves.

In Fantastic Beasts, we are shown how Credence, an abused boy who initially we assume is a Squib is repressed by those around him. To those who are not familiar with the Potter Universe, this might seem like an entirely new concept. But to hardcore fans who have been discussing and debating fan theories for years on the internet, this condition would have rung a bell. We have seen this Obscurus before, although it was not explicitly named.

Ariana Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore's sister suffered from this condition, which led to her killing their mother. After a tragic incident involving some Muggle boys, Ariana became traumatized and probably tried to repress her magic. After Credence is destroyed, Graves, who is actually Grindelwald in disguise, seemed remorseful. Could it be because he has seen another Obscurial destroyed before? Could that Obscurial have been Ariana Dumbledore? Could that incident be the reason how Grindelwald first learned about the Obscurus and how he could harness its Dark Magic for his own purpose? We  have to wait for future movies to find out.

4) Grindelwald is a Seer

If you have watched the film, then you will now the Director of Magical Security of MACUSA, Percival Graves is actually Grindelwald in disguise. Many fans already knew that Johnny Depp would be making a cameo in this movie, but they had no idea he would be playing Grindelwald, nor did they expect Graves to be Grindelwald in disguise. The clues were all there, from Graves' owning a Deadly Hallows necklace to his interest in Dumbledore's relationship with Newt. Ever their haircut is the same, which is inspired by those worn by members of the Hitler Youth. What a great way to show how Grindelwald is a blood purist just like the Nazis.

As a high ranking officer, he would have been privy to confidential information about unexplained incidents in The States. But this still does not explain how he knew early on that the magical beast tearing New York apart was connected to Credence Barebone. Grindelwald even reveals that he gained this knowledge through some sort of vision that led him to Credence. We have no clue whether this vision was gained through Divination that he learned at Durmstrang, or whether he could have been a Seer. Although it does seems like Grindelwald's visions were wrong, it is later shown he was partially right all along. Also, in Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, remember Grindelwald's first line when Voldemort visits him at Nurmengard? He says he knew Voldemort would come to him one day, and that the Elder Wand will never be Voldemort's. Locked up in his prison cell, he has to have had visions in order to know all these things.

5) Newt is not socially awkward; he is a Zoologist

A Reddit user pointed out Newt's strange mannerism is not unintentional. When he talks to people, he usually avoids eye contact while hunching with his head tilt down. It might not be due to social anxiety. Instead, this is a usual habit for zoologists who are used to showing submission by avoiding displaying dominance when working with animals. He is so used to communicating this way to appear non-threatening and submissive that he eventually grew into it.

6) Credence is an Heir of Slytherin

Whether this theory is believable or not, there is no denying that Credence Barebone has many similarities with Voldemort himself. Both were raised in orphanages and had secret powers they had no idea of. However, Voldemort was more fortunate since he was born in England, where the laws are more progressive and he was accepted into Hogwarts despite being raised by Muggles. Credence, however, probably never got his acceptance letter into Ilvermony since the MACUSA does not allow Muggle borns to enter the American Wizarding World. Could JK Rowling be hinting that Voldemort is not the last surviving heir of Slytherin, but the family line still continues across the Atlantic?

First, let's revise the history of organized magic in America through Pottermore. Isolt Sayre, a pure-blood Irish witch from Ireland was the descendant of Salazar Slytherin and established Ilvermony alongside James Steward, her English No-Maj husband. Together, they had two biological daughters, the fraternal twins Martha and Rionach Steward. Rionach became the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and never married or had children since she wanted to end the Slytherin bloodline. Martha, however, was born a Squib. Martha was the only one in the family to be born a Squib, and married a Native American No-Maj and probably assimilated into her husband's community. 

A few generations down the line, Martha's descendants probably started displaying magical abilities since the Slytherin genes still run in the family. At some point, Credence's mother probably came into contact with the Scourers in the Barebone family, who are involved in Wizard-trafficking. Mary Barebone does hint that she knew Crendence's mother, probably being the one responsible for her death. Given the level of power that Credence possess, it is probable that he too is a descendant of Salazar Slytherin through Martha Stewart. 

7) Credence is Tom Riddle Senior

Ezra Miller, who plays Credence Barebone was made to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to keep his character's backstory a secret. Well, it is obvious that he is pretty important to the franchise since the filmmakers already revealed that Credence survived the Auror attack and he will be back in future installments. That explains the tiny speck of the Obscurus that escapes the subway once Credence has been seemingly destroyed. So, this has led to many theories on who Credence actually is. Some go as far as to say he is actually Tom Riddle Senior in disguise.

Voldemort was originally named after his father, Tom Riddle Senior, a wealthy Muggle. He married Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, at a young age after she used magic on him. Fantastic Beasts is set in 1926 and Credence's age does match up with Tom Riddle Sr's age. In the original Potter Universe, it is known that Tom returned to his rich parents' house in Little Hangleton after abandoning his pregnant wife. But what if he did not go directly to Little Hangleton? What if he realized that Merope is indeed a witch and became afraid? Could it be that Tom ran away all the way to America in order to hide from Merope? He might have feared for his life that she might one day come after him. Returning to their hometown would mean risking exposing himself to her. He would have wanted to run away, and not just run away anywhere, but across the Atlantic. Of course, this theory does not exactly add up since Harry Potter canon states Tom Riddle Senior was a Muggle and a British one at that, unlike Credence who is a suppressed Wizard of American nationality.

8) Mary Barebone is Mary Riddle

So Tom Riddle Senior. runs away to New York and pretends to be Credence and lives with Mary Lou Barebone who becomes his adoptive mother. Now, consider this; what if she is not his adoptive mother, but his actual mother, Mary Riddle? Just think about it; she hates the Wizarding World not because she is religiously motivated, but almost because she is sure of its existence  - as if she has some personal experience with it. But then how do we explain her American accent?

Back in the 19th century, many aristocratic British families were losing their wealth due to the agricultural depression. At the same time, the American economy was booming following its independence from the British. As a result, many British noblemen had to marry American heiresses for their dowry. These unions between Old World nobility and New World money helped restore the British aristocracy to its former glory. We already know the Riddle family was the wealthiest family in the village of Little Hangleton. Could they have been aristocratic?

Could it be when Mary Riddle's only son returned home after having eloped with the daughter of a tramp, her snobbish husband disowned him, forcing her and her son to run away to America, where she reverted to her maiden name, Mary Barebone? It is possible since both these characters share the same first name, which is a rarity in JK Rowling's Potter Universe. She might have been somewhat aware of the existence of the Wizarding World since she used to live in close proximity to Morfin Gaunt, who is known to have used magic in front of Muggles. She might have used up all her money to finance her New Salem Philanthropic Society, the organization that advocates the hunting of witches and wizards. This could explain her impoverished state of living. She might have also taught Tom to sound American, which would not have been difficult for him since he is familiar with her accent. But then again, this theory is easily debunked since she torments Credence for having a mother who was unnatural. Why would she belittle his mother if she is his mother herself? Also, she gets killed in this movie, while Mary Riddle lives on for about two more decades before being killed by her grandson, Voldermort alongside her husband at their home in Little Hangleton. 

9) Credence is Merope Gaunt

If you thought the two previous fan theories were too far fetched, you are probably laughing out loud now that you have read this heading. But trust us, the most possible theory related to Credence Barebone is that he is Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt in disguise.

Yes, Credence might actually be a woman in disguise. The casting of Ezra Miller is quite intentional since he can play both male and female roles. The children in the orphanage are named Credence, Chastity and Modesty, which might not be their real names, but given by their adoptive mother Mary Barebone. Credence is a rare name that can be used for both boys and girls. All we know about Voldemort's mother is her name was Merope Gaunt, she was raised by her impoverished, abusive father Marvolo Gaunt, descendant of Salazar Slytherin. She probably never attended Hogwarts because her father and brother feared she might be a Squib, and this caused her to suppress her magical abilities, just like Credence. When her father and brother were arrested in 1925, she seized the opportunity to elope with the son of wealthy local Muggles, Tom Riddle, after bewitching him with a Love Potion. After becoming pregnant, she stopped giving Riddle Love Potions, hoping that he would stay with her for the sake of their baby. Sadly, he abandoned her and returned to his parents.

After that, Merope was left penniless and even had to sell her Slytherin locket to survive. Before arriving at Wool's Orphanage and giving birth to Voldemort on the 31st of December, 1926, nothing much is known of her life during her pregnancy. Could it be possible she sold the locket to buy a ticket to New York in order to run away as far as possible from her father and brother when they were released? Perhaps, due to her lack of financial resource, she ended up living with Mary Barebone. To remain hidden, she had to disguise herself as a boy. Or maybe she was searching for her biological mother, who might have been Mary Barebone herself, the fanatical leader of the Second Salom? In the Potter Universe, witch hunters are sometimes witches themselves. After being married to the psychopathic Marvolo Gaunt, she might have grown to hate the Wizarding World herself. As mentioned earlier, JK Rowling is an expert in weaving in metaphors and symbolism. Could suppressed magic be a metaphor for suppressed femininity?

Note how Credence went amok after Grindelwald called him a Squib. Merope's father and brother always belittled her by calling her a Squib. But if she can make Love Potions, than probably she does have magical abilities. Grindelwald even tells Credence that he is searching for a child not older than ten attached to Credence that would grow up to have great powers. Could it be that the child is not even born yet, and that the boy standing right in front of him is actually a pregnant girl carrying that child. We even see a trace of the Obscuras escaping. Maybe Credence set out for Europe on the same ship as Newt. Back in England, a weakened Merope probably ended up in the London orphanage where Voldemort was born. Merope died right after she gave birth to her child. If this theory proves to be true, the actual cause could be due to the attack in New York. Also, when Harry first sees Merope in a memory, he notes how she looks like the most defeated-looking person he had ever seen. Credence has the same look.

10) Newt is actually Dumbledore's secret agent

What we know of Newt's journey to America is that he plans to release the Thunderbird in Arizona. Although that is possible, it seems unlikely that is the only reason he traveled all the way across the Atlantic. Early in the movie, he stops in front of the bank to listen to Mary Barebone talk about how witches live among us. Even Grindelwald, while disguised as Graves, comments on how Dumbledore seems to be very close to Newt.

At this time, Dumbledore already had his falling out with Grindelwald following the death of Ariana. This franchise could be building up to their final confrontation in 1945 where both wizards engage in the epic dual. A young Dumbledore probably suspects that Grindelwald is up to no good in America and has Newt go there to investigate the matter.

Also, notice how Newt is the one who not only exposes Grindelwald by disenchanting him, but does not seem bothered that the real Graves is left missing. The real Graves is probably save somewhere under Dumbledore's protection and Newt was in New York merely to expose the fake Graves to the MACUSA.

11) President Picquery is a Dark Witch

In the movie, Madam President Seraphina Picquery is an American witch who is the President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). Although she appears to be a highly charismatic leader, she does not appear to be very effective in curbing the magical attacks that have been wrecking havoc across New York. She keeps brushing off Tina's attempts to warn her of the current situation and even blames her for being irresponsible when she learns of the truth. Could this have been intentional? JK Rowling has her way of surprising fans with plot twists that we can never see coming. Could the highly accomplished Seraphine actually be a Dark Witch. Let's consider:

During her sorting at Ilvermorny, Seraphina became one of the few students of her generation to be offered a place in all four school houses, foreboding her future as a great witch. She chose to enter the house of the Horned Serpent. Although this has been described as the house for scholars, some have called it the Ilvermorny equivalent of Hogwarts' Slytherin house since both houses' mascots are serpents. Also, don't forget that as President, she could lift the ban on segregating between the Wizarding world and the No-Maj word. Instead, she seems to be responsible for maintaining most of the outdated laws on segregation. All these does not necessarily imply she is a Dark Witch, but there is another clue that might support this - her wand. During her wand choosing, Seraphina was chosen by a controversial Violetta Beauvais wand, a type of wand often associated with Dark Magic.

Another possible giveaway is Seraphina's Pottermore page states "we can’t give away too much about her yet." That is not to say it is confirmed she is secretly a Dark Witch and this can only be revealed in later movies. But it does hint at something bigger that JK Rowling has in mind for this character. 

12) Jacob's memory is restored

This movie has more Muggles than the original Harry Potter ones. Even one of the main characters is a Muggle, or in this setting, a No-Maj. At the end of the movie, Jacob Kawalski's memory gets wiped out through the magical rain just like the other No-Majs in New York. Though the movie's ending leaves it unclear if Jacob's memory is completely restored, we can be sure that he remembers bits and pieces since he becomes famous for his magical-beasts-inspired pastry.

But when he sees Queenie at his bakery, he smiles happily at her. It is vague whether is it either because he recognizes her or because he is taken by her beauty like the first time he meets her. There is a high chance it is because he does recognize her. Think about it; the mass memory removal through the rain was not done by a regular Memory Charm, but through Newt's magical Thunderbird serum rain, which he says can wipe out bad memories. Emphasis on 'bad' memories. For the other citizens of New York, their memory witnessing magic is bad since they saw their city get torn apart. But for Jacob, it is the complete opposite. So, clearly he remembers Queenie and his experience with her because those memories were anything but bad.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Colonial Schools in Malaysia

Not all colonial schools in Malaysia are mission schools. Some were opened by the British government. Here is a list of Malaysian schools that were NOT founded by missionaries:


1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Derma


1) Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid


1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Clifford Kuala Kangsar

2) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan King Edward VII

3) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Anderson


1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Clifford Kuala Lipis


1) Sekolah Menengah Tinggi Kuala Selangor

2) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Kajang

3) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Klang


1) Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Melaka

Negeri Sembilan

1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan King George V

2) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Port Dickson

Federal Territory

1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Maxwell

2) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Victoria

3) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Setapak


1) Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar

2) Sekolah Tinggi Kluang

3) Sekolah Tinggi Muar


1) Sekolah Menengah Maktab Sabah


1) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Green Road

2) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Three Rivers

3) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Kuching

4) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Sarikei

Historical Photos of Malaysia

1. A Nazi U-181 docking at Swettenham Pier, Penang

2. Tok Janggut's body being displayed by the British

3. A Famosa Fortress in a much better condition

4. Penang Ferry Service

5. Chin Peng receiving the OBE Award from a British official

6. The invasion of Kuala Lumpur by the Japanese

7. Japanese riding into Malaya on bicycles 

8. Female members of the Home Guard during arms training

9. British officers breaking into an alleged Communist hideout 

10. A photograph of the first Agong that was used for the Malaysian Ringgit

11. The Penang Hartal Riots

12. Tunku Abdul Rahman visiting the National Monument after it was bombed by Communist terrorists

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Top 5 Reasons Why Kandukondain Kandukondain is an Underrated Classic

This film came out in 2000 and was a big hit. Still, it is underrated considering how it is almost always overlooked whenever there is a list of the best Tamil films ever made. Just like the book it is based on, this film should be considered a classic. Here are five reasons why:

1) It is loosely based on one of the most popular novels of all time

Watching this film as a child, I could not help but notice how the story would fit any olden day British film. True enough, as a teenager, I read Sense and Sensibility and the truth came to me. This film is actually a modern-day Indian adaptation of Jane Austen's masterpiece. It is amazing how the director managed to stay loyal to the thematic nature of the source material while making it fitting for the Indian audience.

2) This is only Rajiv Menon's second film

Rajiv Menon is one if India's most prolific cinematographers but he has directed only two films so far; this being his second. It won him the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director. He also wrote the story and screenplay for this film while laureate Sujatha wrote the dialogues. Rumour has it after almost 20 years, he will be directing another film. Let's hope it is as great as this one.

3) It is a 'women-centric' film

Google the term 'women-centric film' and you only find lists with Indian films. This shows how rare they are in Indian cinema that it is almost considered its own genre. Although they are three heroes here, they all play second fiddle to the heroines. Ajit Kumar, before he became a 'mass hero' was willing to play a strong supporting actor as long as it is a powerful character. Mammoothy, who is the biggest superstars of Malayalam cinema, does not mind it if he is not in the starring role.

4) It features the casts' best performances

While Mammoothy and Tabu have given countless critically acclaimed performances in the past, their other cast members have not been so fortunate. Aishwarya Rai, despite her acting abilities, has often been overshadowed by her title as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Ajit and Abbas, however, have mostly been in 'masala', commercial films. Being a huge fan of Rajiv Menon's first film, Aishwarya accepted the role after the late Soudarya turned it down. Aishwarya said she easily identified with the character and willingly rejected the numerous, more commercially lucrative offers from Bollywood just to be in this relatively small budget regional film.

5) AR Rahman's evergreen soundtrack 

Each of Rahman's eight songs in this film is of a different genre. "Kannamoochi" has a Carnatic base. "Kandukondain Kandukondain" is a love ballad. "Smayiyai" has a jazz feel to it. "Enna Solla Pogirai" and "Konjum Mainakkale" are folksy tunes with different tones. "Yengae Enathu Kavithai" is an elegy for lost love. Also, the film has a cover version of Bharathiyar’s poem, "Suttum Vizhi" that adds to the beauty of the original. Plus, the Mozart of Madras even makes a cameo in the film!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ten Reasons The Harry Potter Films Are As Deep and Layered As The Books

For starters, let me say the books will always be better than the films. But the movies are great too and have earned their place in cinematic history. Also, there are times where the films are almost as deep and layered as the books, even including some foreshadowing and Easter eggs all throughout the series. So here are ten of them that I have noticed while watching the films:

1) Philosopher's Stone - Wizard in the Leaky Cauldron

In the Leaky Cauldron, a Wizard is shown reading Stephen Hawking's "A brief history of time" while steering his mug magically with no wand! While most Wizards and Witches distance themselves from Muggle sciences as it serves them no use, this guy is different and there is probably a more compelling story behind this than about The Boy Who Lived!

2) The Chamber of Secrets - Draco might have been a good guy all along

Like in the books, Draco is portrayed as an entitled bully who looks down on others. Of course, towards the end of the series, we learn he is not all that bad. But upon a closer look, we can see that the second film might have actually hinted that there might be some good in Draco, something its source material did not do. When the Basilisk was petrifying Muggleborns at Hogwarts, Harry and Ron only figured out what it was through a torn page from a book in a petrified Hermione's hand. Like the audiences, Harry and Ron assumed that Hermione wrote that as a clue. But why would book lover Hermione tear a page out of a book while she could have just borrowed? When Harry and Ron tell her that there is no way they could have cracked the case without her help, a cured Hermione looked somewhat confused. So, what if was Draco who did that to help kill the Basilisk? When Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys are at Flourish and Blotts buying textbooks, they run into the Malfoys. Draco, knowing that nobody is looking, tears out a page from a seemingly random book. Why would a the rich Draco risk doing something like that? Perhaps he knows about his father, Lucious' plan for Muggleborns that year. Being the not-so-evil person he is, Draco somehow manages to slip the ripped piece of paper on basilisks into Hermione's hand at the hospital wing.

3) The Prisoner of Azkaban - Lupin's Skeleton Shaped Candles

Why in the world did Lupin need them since his office was already well lit? After each Bogart lesson, he reignites them, as if they must be lit all the time. The top vertebra of each candle is marked with 'VIII' and the numbers continue down the candle, which has 21 vertebrae. Could it be possible that they have to be constantly burning to measure time? Lupin could be marking the passage of time through the cycle of the moon. After each full moon, Lupin would light a new candle which burns through all 21 days of the cycle. On the 22nd day, he would start to take the Wolfsbane potion to prepare him for when the full moon begins.

4) The Goblet of Fire - The Dark Mark's hidden meaning

Looking closely at the Dark Mark, you will notice they way the snake swirls out of the skull actually forms the number eight. If you have read the books or at least watched the movies, you will know Voldemort accidentally made Harry his eighth Horcrux when trying to kill him as a baby. This is only done in the movies. In the books, however, it was merely described as "a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue". Could it be JK Rowling told the filmmakers to depict the serpent in the shape of a figure 8 to hint at the secret of Voldemort's immortality?

5) The Goblet of Fire - Pure blood supremacy

Voldemort's ideology shares many similarities with those that advocate white supremacy in the real world. Like Hitler, Voldemort kills masses to allow who he deemed the most superior race to rule the world. Like how Hitler was only part Aryan, Voldemort is also a half-blood. When Voldemort was defeated the first time, most of his surviving followers claimed they were under the Imperius Curse to escape the law. Similarly, many Nazis said they were forced to follow Hitler's orders for fear of their own lives. Both the Swastika and the Dark Mark represent a symbol of evil. Also, notice how the Death Eater's uniform are very similar to those worn by the Ku Klux Klan?

6) The Goblet of Fire - Foreshadowing an unreleased book

When Harry is talking to Dumbledore in his office after seeing the flashback of Barty Crouch Jr., he looks into one of his glass cabinets. In it, we can see the some kind of transparent, pyramid shaped object with a bronze sphere with a rod pierced through it. This objects resembles the Deathly Hallows symbol. Mind you, this film was released two years before the final book came out.

7) The Order of The Phonix - Voldemort in a Muggle suit

The scene where Harry sees Voldemort at the train station in a regular suit did not go down well with fans who claimed it was out of character for a Muggle-hating Dark Wizard to be appearing in such a way. Both the director and producer defended their decision to include this scene. This was a way to show Voldemort is taking control of Harry's mind and is able to taunt him. This foreshadows what happens towards the end of the film where Voldemort easily inflitrates Harry's mind and tricks him into coming to the Department of Mysteries.

8) The Half Blood Prince - Riddle's Hocruxes

Many fans, including me, were not happy that the filmmakers cut down on many scenes from Dumbledore's Pensive. The filmmakers claim they were trying to focus on Voldemort's rise rather than his background. Nevertheless, they did justice with the scenes which they did include. For example, when we see Dumbledore visiting the young Tom Riddle at the Muggle orphanage, there is a photograph on the wall of  the same seaside cave that Dumbledore and Harry visit to search for the locket Horcrux. In the book, this place is described as the site where Riddle unknowingly used magic to torment other children from the orphanage while on a trip, meaning this place is probably where he first realized he was different and thus, has some significance to him. Also, notice how there are also seven rocks on his windowsill, which is the same number of Horcruxes he intended to create.

9) The Deadly Hallows Part 1 - Hermione's character development

At the start of the film, Hermione hears her parents talking about Australia while someone on TV is talking about a countryside. Hermione then quietly uses the Memory Charm to permanently erase memories of herself from her parents' minds. This is different from the book, where, Hermione mentions that she merely alters her parents memories with a False Memory Charm to give them new identities, a childless couple named Wendell and Monica Wilkins with a desire to move to Australia. The Wilkins quickly leave just before the Death Eater Yaxley arrives. The Hermione in the book does state that she will eventually reverse the charm once things are safe since a False Memory Charm can be lifted as demonstrated by Dumbledore, Slughorn, Shacklebolt. A Memory Charm, however, cannot. This makes Hermione's plight in the film much more darker and compelling. Also,  the dance scene between her and Harry was written exclusively for the film and was not in the book.

10) The Deadly Hallows Part 2 - Battle of Hogwarts scene pays homage to previous films

In the final film, there is a scene from the Battle of Hogwarts, where Harry, Ron and Hermione are running through the castle's courtyard. First they encounter a giant ogre which resembles the troll from the girls' toilet in the first film. Next, they meet some giant spiders just the ones Harry and Ron face in the second film. Then, the trio clash with a werewolf attacking Lavender Brown, which reminds us of Professor Lupin's dark side in the third book. Then, the three friends are faced with a gang of Dementors like the ones Harry had to fight of in the fifth film. Finally, we witness the  Half Blood Prince being murdered by his Dark Lord and we get to look into his memories, just like in the sixth film. In just two minutes, Harry and his two best friends easily pass through deadly foes that were once too difficult for them to face, showing that our heroic trio have truly grown up and matured through the series from young Hogwarts students into full-fledged Wizards.

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