After getting my bike padlock frozen I borrowed Mom’s bike to use until I had time to look at the lock. Tuesday went fine, but Wednesday morning, the ice got the better of me, again. This time when I went around the corner near the Chinese restaurant. There, too, it was slippery. Luckily I was, again, not going very fast so there was no damage to me or the bike.
When I got home I returned the bike to Mom’s and set to work on my busted lock. After some wiggling, the key slid in and it just opened… Stupid lock.
Yesterday after work I hit the city with Kim. The temple of her glasses broke so she wanted to get that fixed and maybe get new ones. Unfortunately they couldn’t fix the temple as they didn’t have that particular size and hinge mechanism anymore. They also had no time anymore to fit her in for a measuring for a new pair so we left with nothing except an invitation to come back the next day.
We were now pretty hungry so it was Pappa Joe’s for dinner. I decided on nachos instead of a burger and had some bread and herb butter to go with it. Afterwards we walked down the main shopping street to browse and get some stuff. Kim wanted gloves, and she found a pair she liked. I checked out the book outlet and found two graphic novels I liked. So score for the both of us!
I went to the zoo in Emmen today with Nienke and Kim. I hadn’t been there since I was about three, when this picture was taken. That’s my aunt with her children, my other aunt, little me, and my Mom. I don’t really remember anything from when I was that young, thus I have zero recollection of the zoo. So everything was new, and I had a great time.There was some rain early in the afternoon and again near the end, but on the whole it was nice. There were not that many people so we had good access to everything. And most animals were present and willing to show themselves 😀
I’d brought my camera and am very pleased with the results I got. I ended up, after culling it, with 169 pictures. I’ll show highlights here, if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you can see the rest there. So, without further ado, let there be pictures! I’ll also be featuring a few in bigger sizes over the next few days.
Above all you must always have courage, and be kind
I saw Cinderella Wednesday with Gert. Of course the story is a familiar one and even more so since this is a Disney remake of the original Disney animation.
The movie spends a lot of time setting the background of Ella and her family. Her parents love her and each other, they live in a nice big manor house with a handful of servants and a bunch of animals. Then her mother falls ill and dies but not before telling Ella the above, and not to stop believing in magic.
Ella grows up, her father remarries the Lady Tremaine aka Cate Blanchett and gains two stepdaughters, Anastasia and Drusilla. At first things are tense but okay, and then Stepmother turns the quiet, peaceful house into party plaza.
It is clear that Ella’s father can’t forget his wife and that this second marriage isn’t all that great. We get glimpses now and then of Lady Tremaine’s feelings and see that she isn’t happy either, but not enough time is spent on this. Anastasia and Drusilla are nothing more than cardboard.
Then daddy dies while overseas, and Ella’s life starts to change. Before long, she is nothing more than the maid, and renamed to Cinderella by her stepsisters. She runs off, or rather: rides, and meets the Prince.
They hit it off, they talk and flirt and go their separate ways. We then spend some time in the palace with the Prince and King. The same applies here, there’s glimpses of backstory and character stuff, but it is flimsy and superficial.
Then, ball happens, Fairy Godmother comes along (an all too brief part for Helena Bonham Carter), cgi magic happens to turn pumpkin, mice, lizards and goose into coach, horses, footmen and driver and off to the ball Cindy goes.
Visually, it’s stunning. Cinderella’s dress is fantastic and the decor is beautiful. We get some more royal background which adds the tiniest bit of plot. Cindy and Kit dance, then run off into the garden where they talk more and it is from there she runs off when the clock strikes midnight.
The rest is familiar, the Prince searches all through the land to find her, and although interrupted by a wee bit of scheming, succeeds and they live happily ever after.
On the whole, the movie misses substance. The plot is already pretty thin, and it would have been nice to really add some actual character development. Unfortunately, I find neither of the actors playing Cindy and the Prince strong enough to carry the movie.
Manners maketh man
Afterwards, we saw Kingsman: The Secret Service. This movie is fantastic! It’s a British film, and, fortunately, it shows.
Kingsman is an intelligence agency formed in the 19th century to be an independent secret service, free from government allegiances and influence. All members are gentlemen, and generally coming from a wealthy background, clad in the best bespoke suits you can find. In fact, their front is that of a high end tailor making said bespoke suits.
They are led by “Arthur”, their tech genius is “Merlin” and every member has a codename of one of the knights of the round table. This means there’s a set number of agents, and when one dies, the others all put forth a candidate. After an intense testing, process the one remaining candidate gets the job.
At the beginning of the movie, Lancelot dies, so there’s an opening.
Every agent brings in a candidate, and all are upper class youth. Except Galahad’s choice. He brings in Eggsy, the son of his candidate the last time there was an opening, and who didn’t make it. Eggsy is in his early twenties, no job, several brushes with the law, living with his mum, her abusive boyfriend and his half sister.
From there on we follow Eggsy as he goes through the training and selection process, and Galahad as he works, until the two plotlines meet and shit hits the fan.
The movie has this old school gentleman spy feel, and knows it. It alludes to it several times, and manages to blend this old school attitude with modern tools and equipment. It also has a very good mix of serious and fun. Coupled with excellent casting choices (Colin Firth as Galahad, Mark Strong as Merlin, Taron Egerton as Eggsy), this film is a joy to watch and very much recommended.
I forgive myself
Then yesterday, Kim and I went to see Insurgent. It picks up almost immediately after Divergent, only a few days have passed. We meet up with Tris, Four, Caleb and Peter in Amity where they have taken shelter. At first, they seem mostly settled in as they wait for things to happen and make plans. But things are not quite what they seem and before you know it, they’re back on the run, heading into the city with the end goal of killing Jeanine.
Along the way to do that, they meet the Factionless, split up, find people, and loose people, and we spend time with both Candor and Erudite before this movie’s endgame begins.
The movie skips a fair amount of book, but I feel this was the best choice as the skipped part is mostly repetitive of things seen in Divergent. By cutting it, the rest of the movie can take a slower pace and dive into things with more detail.
We get several touching Tris/Four moments, more insight into the other factions, more Sims, and we also get to see Tris struggle with herself. She’s riddled with guilt about the death of her parents and the shooting of Will, as already established in Divergent. Throughout the movie, we see her grow, and slowly deal with it.
The end is a bit anticlimactic; it feels a little bit rushed, and too easy. It does, however, leave a perfect starting point for the last film. And, even though I wouldn’t mind more of this series, I do hope they do just one movie for the last book.
This was a looong week. I had the Monday off, which was nice seeing as how I’d been away all weekend, but from Tuesday on I’ve had a stretch of five days in a row with work and appointments, and I have tentatively agreed to work an hour or three tomorrow as well to cover for Nienke as she’s still sick. I’ll make the final decision on that when it’s actually tomorrow and there’s daylight. It is kinda tempting though, as Sunday work is 200%.
To celebrate the end of the official work week Kim came by tonight for chats, some Buffy watching, and the drinking of light booze (I really like red Jillz :D).
Tomorrow I’ve also planned to finish the music swap for my pen pal club. I have the music selected, I just have to get it on the, very appropriately shaped, USB drive and write the accompanying letter detailing why I chose these songs. I received the swap for me this week, but haven’t had time to listen to it yet, so I have left it closed. I don’t want to let it influence me too much in writing my own.
I backed an interesting IndieGoGo campaign this week, also. It’s called Con Man, and its a comedic web series written and developed by Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion. The basic premise is that Alan and Nathan play two actors who used to be in a scifi tv series, Spectrum, together. The series was canceled early, but was a cult success. After, Nathan’s character became a succesful moviestar, while Alan’s character didn’t and now traverses the Con circuit doing panels and signings and of course weird shit happens because Cons.
It is definitely based on reality somewhat, as the parallels with Firefly are obvious. Nathan and Alan’s characters even played the same parts in Spectrum as they did on Firefly (captain and pilot).
The campaign hit its goal of $425.000 within 24 hours and now, about three days in (it runs until April 10), they are on $1.750.000. It’s going to be huge and fantastic and I can’t wait for it to be ready.
Next week promises to be fun! Wednesday I’m going to see Kingsman: The Secret Service with Gert. Since Kingsman is shown so late, we’re doing a double feature and seeing Cinderella before. And then on Thursday it’s time to see Insurgent with Kim, I’m looking forward to that very much. I am really curious how the movie’s gonna be and if it lives up to and matches the book.
After Christmas dinner it was time for prezzies. First we exchanged gifts with my parents, and after they left, Nienke and I continued the unwrapping party with our gifts for each other.
We’d already given each other one of the prezzies the day before, but now it was time for the rest. We usually set a budget, and always go over, but I think we never went quite as far over as we did this year 😀
Mom and Dad gave me the CD with the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy. A definite hit as the songs keep getting stuck in my head 🙂 I got Mom a bath set with lotion and fluffy things, and for Dad dried meat sausages, he always likes a good sausage.
Nienke gave me awesome things! Starfleet Academy and Medical Academy buttons, a necklace of the Elven brooch given to the Hobbits, a colouring book and a cute story book, a letter E, and the best thing ever: a USS Voyager model kit. I’ll have to order paint first, but I can’t wait to build it.
I got Nienke a Comic Con Exclusive Buffy Pop Vinyl, the eleventh Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, a 1:64 model of the Impala from Supernatural along with a replica of Dean’s necklace that Sammy gave him, blue fuzzy gloves, a guitar stand and the unicorn plush from Despicable Me. The cats each got a toy, as well.
Then tonight Kim came by to watch the Olivier B. Bommel movie Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel and then we saw Flushed Away before also exchanging gifts.
I’d gotten both Nienke and Kim a chocolate bar, and gave Kim a set of mugs with owls on it, as well as a bracelet with a Mockingjay pin. I’d also gotten some toys and candies for her cats. She got me chocolate, fudge and a Pop Vinyl of Invisible Bilbo!
Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, true to its name
Starfleet Academy departmental buttons, Starfleet Medical Academy button and a Star Trek general button
Wrote Holiday cards with Mom yesterday as we usually do.
In the evening I went to the city to meet up with Gert to go see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. It was a good movie with many things I liked and loved, but it just felt a bit off. I’m curious for the extended edition release next year because I felt, at several moment, that things were cut that would be excellent moments to restore for the extended.
Then tonight, I went again, but then with Nico. I’m not sure if I’ll be seeing it more than these two times (in comparison, I went to see Desolation in cinemas thrice).
Saturday, Kim is coming over to watch the Extended Desolation of Smaug in preparation for watching Battle, later on.
Saw Mockingjay (part 1) tonight with Kim. I was very curious to see how they would continue and especially how they would split it. The first two parts were really good, so I was hoping they would continue that trend. And they did.
It’s a really good film. A comfortable pacing keeping the action happening while making time for emotional gut-punch moments so you actually get to experience the feels and not rush through them. I think they made a good choice where to make the cut and end this part. This way parts 1 and 2 aren’t just one film that just happens to be in two parts, but each have a different all-over theme.
They also made a really good rendition of the Hanging Tree song, which is very nicely sung by Jennifer Lawrence. It becomes a tune that sticks in your head.
We stopped at Starbucks on the way back since I’d seen the sign announcing the return of the Christmas flavours the other day and I love honey almond hot chocolate. It’s like drinking a liquid marzipan bar, one of those with a thin layer of chocolate around them.
I went to see Waylon perform at the Oosterpoort yesterday with Kim and Ingrid.
We met up at Mr. Mofongo’s to have dinner first. I had this awesome beef tenderloin with roasted vegetables (red onion, paprika) and chorizo, on a bed of seasonal vegetables (haricots, parsnip, yellow beet, red beet puree, pumpkin and roasted chestnut) with baked potatoes and orange mayonnaise. It was absolutely delicious!
Dessert was a crème brûlée with red berries and raspberries and a glass of amaretto.
We then headed for the Oosterpoort and, once there, found ourselves some good seats. Most people were seating themselves near the stage or standing in front, but we went for a little further away and up. Since he was playing the small room, this was still close enough to see everything, and by sitting a bit higher up, we could see over the rest.
The concert itself started a little after eight and for the next three! hours, no break, Waylon sang, and talked, and it was fantastic. He played songs from his newest album, songs from his previous album and even a Common Linnets song. I was a bit disappointed, though, with that one specifically. It is an emotional song, and one of my personal favourites. He did most of the song very well but decided to mess up the last few lines, in an attempt to be funny, which so didn’t work for me. Besides this minor thing, I loved the rest. I definitely recommend going to see him if you can.
Since I now live in this town, and am free on the day, I figured I should attend the Baaistemaart (lit. Animal Market). It’s a fairly regular annual market, but it specialises in animals. The main street was set apart for the horses, both bigger ponies as well as this collection of Shetlands. Beyond that were normal stands with the usual market stuff both edible and not. On the town square was a tent displaying livestock (sheep, goats, alpacas, rabbits, various forms of guinea pigs, and a collection of birds) and having stands of various organisations, the local vet clinic and so on.
I went with Kim, at first, and later did another round with Mom.
Once home from that, I transported myself to Azeroth for some WoW’ing. With the coming 6.0 patch, Aggem Thorncurse will be replaced as boss in Razorfen Kraul. Which also means that it is no longer possible to tame his boar spirit (which he summons during the fight) that has a unique skin.
I have a lowbie hunter toon that was about level for this dungeon. But not quite enough to be able to do it by himself. And since I’m a stubborn and unsociable bastard, I don’t like doing content with others. So I’ve been leveling him the past few days to get him powerful enough so he and Bokito (his current pet) could get it done. The first time did’t work. I managed to kill Aggem, but the boar only stays up for so long after Aggem dies so after I had healed myself and started the taming, it despawned when I was done and it failed. So I reran the dungeon and this time around started taming right after defeating Aggem and caught it.
Social Media can be a really useful thing 🙂 After my birthday party last Sunday, my little (second) cousin lost his favourite stuffed animal Koos while on the way home. He was seated on the back of the bicycle and fell asleep and probably dropped it. Since it was his favourite, he was devastated. Monday I discussed this with Kim and later that day she sent me a link and said “isn’t this it?”
The link was to a Facebook post in a a local group, someone had found a stuffed animal and was looking for the owner. It sounded just like Koos. So I posted there, saying it was probably my cousin’s and warned my cousin that it looked like Koos had been found. She contacted the lady and indeed, it was Koos! Yesterday they picked him up there. Lucky for them he’d already fallen off the bike still in town, and luckily there are people that are willing to put in some effort to return lost goods. Faith in humanity restored 🙂
Monday I also went to the movies with Kim. We saw The Mazerunner. It was entertaining, but a bit too fast and easy. It also reinforced that it’s really not a good idea to read the books that close to seeing the film (I finished the book that morning). The differences really stood out, and I think if there had been a week or twee between, I would’ve liked the movie better. Not that it was bad, but was okay-good, not good or good-good.
Then yesterday I went to see The Equalizer with Gert. I don’t normally watch straight-up action movies, but I’d seen the trailer for The Equalizer a few times among the previews before other movies and it seemed interesting. I’m glad to be able to say that the movie lived up to my expectations.
The story revolves around Robert, a middle aged man with a hidden past, who lives a quiet life with set routines. During the day, he works at a big hardware store where he tries to help his co-workers. At night, when he can’t sleep, he goes to a diner to read his book and talk with another regular there: Alina, a young prostitute. One night, he sees her being abused by her pimp and stands up for her. When she is then so severely beaten that she is hospitalized, he decides to act.
He seeks out Slavi who ‘owns’ her, and offers his savings to buy her freedom. Slavi ridicules him and declines the offer. Robert then kills Slavi and the four other gangsters present in about 16 seconds. Later, Robert is called in by the authorities and we learn he used to be a special ops agent who is now retired, and that the gangsters he killed were hotshots in the Russian mafia.
This is the start of the main action. Robert is pursued by a mafia hitman named Teddy and has to use all his skills and wits to outsmart him. Of course he succeeds, but the twists and turns in that are interesting, and not always as expected.