Time for a new Nerd Block! Theme for this month is ‘Tis the Season. I didn’t really see the theme in the items, except for the shirt and the shot glass.
The first item that I saw when opening the box was a Titan vinyl figure of Sherlock. This is from the same brand as the Tenth Doctor and Spike figures from earlier boxes. I’m becoming a fan of these vinyls as the faces are a bit more detailed and each figure comes with a prop. In Sherlock’s case, a magnifying glass. Or maybe a slide for under a microscope.
Aother fantastic item is a Serenity ornament. A metallic painted model of the ship from Firefly, which is one of my favourite scifi shows.
Continuing with scifi, the next item is a Star Wars desktop calendar. I have no use for this and since 2016 is getting nearer, I don’t know if I can find someone to give this to in time.
Then, the shot glass. This is a plastic item and comes from The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’ve never seen that movie, nor do I want to. The shot glass is funny, though, so I’ll keep it for now. Maybe I can use it for laughs at my next birthday.
The shirt is a mash-up of Back to the Future and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I like the shirt, the graphic is pretty, the colour is nice. I’m not a big Back to the Future fan, but I do love The Nightmare Before Christmas.
On the bottom of the box I found an art print of Bill Murray and I love it. I’m a big fan of Murray and this is a very fine addition to my slowly growing collection of art prints.
I love The Martian. I went to see it with Gert yesterday and it’s a great movie. I found it to be very realistic, in so far that is possible. Matt Damon portrays a very ingenious and likable main character. It’s intriguing to see him struggle in trying to survive on a hostile planet like Mars. I definitely want to see this again, and I can’t wait to read the book.
Today I went to pick up my new folding bike. I’d been thinking about getting one for a while now to help me when I travel to people or places that are far from public transport points. I can’t always walk those ends and I also don’t always want to rely on others to pick me up or drive me. With a folding bike I can take, for example, a bus or train and then bike the rest to go see Eva instead of hoping she can pick me up.
I started looking at Marktplaats last week for a cheap, but good, folding bike. I bid on one on offer a town over but got outbid. That turned out to be my luck as I came across a beautiful bike. One of those tiny models, in red and grey. And even better, it was in perfect condition. The previous owner used it for her commute and had it serviced every year. Because of a job change she didn’t need it any longer so she was looking to sell. I bid, and it got accepted.
It was a bit further out of the way than the first one, so Mom drove me there to pick it up. We made a first stop in the town before to go to the Action. I’m in need of cake plates for birthdays and such. I’d checked at Blokker and online but couldn’t find some that were both pretty and affordable. I need about twelve so no way I’m buying sets of four or six for € 15,00 – € 20,00.
The Action came through as it usually does. I found gorgeous glass plates with a design in them that made them almost look like crystal. And, even better, they also had serving plates in the same design. So I got me twelve cake plates and two different sizes of the serving plates. I love pretty things 🙂
Then we went on the pick up the bike. It was just as cute in real life as on its picture, and it fit in the back of the car perfectly.
Once home, I took it for a little practice round around the block. It’s felt a bit odd at first. It’s so small and the front wheel and handle react very fast. Especially compared to the heavy front end on my regular bike (I have a crate on it). It’s low enough so I can put my feet on the ground, though, so if I need to pull an emergency stop, I can.
Later, I made a new centerpiece for the coffee table to celebrate the fall. A good end to a good day!
With the theme being Time, I couldn’t not get this box. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the expectation. There were only four items in this box, which is really not enough. Maybe these items are higher value, but the box as a whole feels like a lesser value to me with so few items.
I love the sonic spork, using the Eleventh Doctor’s sonic screwdriver for the handle. Also a hit is the Funko Pop of Dr. Emmet Brown from Back to the Future. I don’t know much about that franchise. I am pretty sure I’ve seen all of the first movie at some point, and parts of the other two, but most of my knowledge of it is from pop culture memes. So this Pop wasn’t on my wishlist or anything, but he looks awesome and I’ve been wanting another general scifi Pop to go with Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet).
Then there was a miniature replica hooverboard from Back to the Future. It looks nice, and comes in a pretty box, but that’s about it for me. This will be going in the gift box, as will probably the t-shirt. It’s from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Again one of those movies I think I’ve seen, but not sure. Plus the shirt is kinda tight compared to the one that was in the Fantasy Crate.
This afternoon I went to see my cousin’s new baby together with Mom and my Aunt. She a very cute baby and so far, as I understand from the new parents, a very easy baby. Let’s hope for them she stays that way.
I managed to finish the hanger yesterday, right on time 🙂 I’d been working on it over the last few nights while watching Mutant X and Andromeda. I forgot how bad Mutant X is, and how good Andromeda is.
This month’s theme was Hyperspace. There were only five items in the box as opposed to the six or seven in previous months which was a little bit disappointing.
I love the little springy USS Enterprise, even if it feels somewhat cheap. The plushie BB-8 looks fantastic. I like it’s feel and design, but I don’t know yet if I’ll keep it. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, I’ve seen the older movies once, a long time ago. I will be seeing the new movie once it’s out, so I’m keeping the plushie at least until then. Depending on what I think of the movie, and BB-8’s part in it, I’ll keep it or put it in the gift bin.
The Jurassic Galaxy art print is fantastic! It mashes Guardians of the Galaxy with Jurassic World with cameo appearances of Terminator and Star Wars. Beyond this print and the Doctor Who one from a previous box I’ve acquired some more art print or small poster stuff that I want to display. I haven’t quite figured out how I want to do that, though. but I am really excited about it.
The shirt this month is a Battlestar Galactica one combining the two versions of Cylons in a mash-up resembling a Daft Punk album cover. The last item was a Funko mystery box with a random Supernatural mini. I got Castiel, which I absolutely love! I am a bit puzzled though how Supernatural fits the theme.
Overall, I’m impressed with the individual items, but it did feel less as a whole with only five items of which only four fit the theme.
This month’s theme was Humanity’s Last Hope. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with that, but when I opened the Block today I found all kinds of goodies I really like.
There was, once again, a vinyl figure included in the box. Funko Pop Vinyls are very popular at the moment, I have about fifteen or so of them, but I really like these Titan Vinyls also. They are the same size as Funko’s but their defining characteristic is their overall slightly triangular shape. I like that their faces have more detail and that each comes with a prop. Last month’s Doctor came with a sonic screwdriver and Spike here came with a mug.
Then there was a surprise pack containing a dangly Transformer figure. I’m not well versed in Transformers so I have no idea which one this is supposed to be, but I do like it. Of similar size to the Transformer is the key chain Iron Man from Funko.
The next item I didn’t know what it was until I unwrapped it and then it turned out to be a Ghostbusters wallet. It’s made of thick sort of paper so I don’t think it’s really suited to actual use. It’s a nice gimmick, though. It’s an item to go in my box of potential gifts. This was followed by a Mad Max comic, which will be fun to read as I really enjoyed the movie.
This month’s shirt is a Karate Kid shirt. I had to look it up to be sure about what it was. I’ve seen the movie but it has been a while so I couldn’t quite remember. I like the shirt, even though it’s not one of my fandoms, and will enjoy wearing it.
I’ve been interested in subscription boxes lately. A subscription box is a system where you subscribe to receive a mystery box of stuff. There are many different boxes, many different themes. There are ones where you get a bag of make-up and related products every month, boxes with stuff for your dog or cat, an assortment of craft supplies and so on. There’s also a couple boxes that are geared toward geeks.
Once I decided I wanted to try out a box, I figured a geeky box would suit me best. Two of the more well-known ones in that genre are LootCrate and Nerd Block. After comparing previous boxes I went with Nerd Block. Nerd Block costs $19,99 which, with shipping, ends up to be about €30, which I think is a reasonable price for a box that always includes a t-shirt and several other pieces of merchandise.
Today, I received my first box. The theme was Britain, so I was hoping for some Doctor Who. I was not disappointed 😀 Besides a Doctor Who Vinyl figure there was also an very pretty art print.
The Mr. Bean bendable figure was okay. I used to watch Mr. Bean a lot as a kid but I’m not that interested in the show beyond that. The Bean Teddy Bear, though, is very cute.
Monty Python’s magnetic words are hilarious, they’ll be fun to play with on the fridge. And the Sherlock shirt was the icing on the cake!
‘t Was time for another double feature movie day, today. I met up with Gert at Pathé around 12:30 for the one o’clock showing of Chappie. I’d seen the trailer and was sort of interested. I like sci-fi, I like robots in general, but I wasn’t sure about the story line and the other characters. After seeing it, I still mostly feel like this.
The movie takes place in the very near future in South Africa. After the development of a robot police force, the Scouts, crime in Johannesburg (which is one of the most crime-ridden places in the world) is down drastically. One particular gang of criminals, containing Ninja & Yo-Landi Visser of Die Antwoord, owes a lot of money to a local crime lord. They decide to rob a money truck but realise they need to shut down the Scouts first. They learn, via the internet, that they were created by Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel, and figure if they kidnap him, he can help them shut them down.
I really liked Dev Patel as Deon Wilson. In his free time he’s working on developing the first ever true AI. When he succeeds but is not allowed to use a destroyed chassis to test it, he steals it and is on his way home to insert the AI when he is cornered and stopped by the gang. They take him and the van with materials to their hide out and force him to insert the AI. He reluctantly does so and Chappie comes alive.
Like a baby, he learns things, but at a vastly accelerated rate. Which is good, since he only has about five days to live due to the damage to the battery and the chassis. Deon is sent away but keeps returning to help teach Chappie. He teaches him good morals like no crime and no killing, and shows him books and teaches him to paint. Ninja, on the other hand, needs him for the heist on the truck so wants to teach him gangster life. Outright, Chappie does not accept this, because no crime and no killing. Ninja then rephrases it as ‘recovering his stolen property’ and ‘making people sleep’ and teaches him other weaponry like shuriken and nunchuks.
Chappie also becomes fully sentient as he realises he has a battery that is running out. When told that the battery can’t be changed and that he will die when it runs out, he becomes sad. He does not want to die. Deon tries to help him deal (picture), but Ninja uses it as a tactic to get him to agree to the heist telling Chappie they can use the money to buy a new body. They practice by stealing cars and Chappie, having seen the neural interface earlier, works on isolating consciousness so it can be transferred.
Meanwhile, Deon’s colleague Vincent, played by Hugh Jackman, has his own robot. A military monster, controlled through a neurological interface instead of having an AI, with a fully loaded arsenal. He is trying his best to promote his robot over Deon’s Scouts but their boss isn’t buying it. So he decides to take matters into his own hand. The Scouts can only be programmed by inserting a Guard Keu into their brain. This key is under strict guard. Deon took it so he could program Chappie and Vincent finds out its missing.
He follows Deon and finds out about Chappie. He briefly manages to steal, or kidnap since he is sentient at that point, Chappie. He takes the Guard Key and saws of one of Chappie’s arms as punishment then throws him out. Using the Guard Key he later manages to install a program into all the Scouts causing them to stop working. As criminals start to realise this, mayhem is unleashed upon Joburg.
Chappie makes his way home to the gang, with some stops along the way (picture), and Deon fits him with a new spare arm. Chappie then goes with Ninja and the others to do the heist. A news helicopter catches him while they rob the money truck and the broadcast of a “Scout gone bad” brings even more panic. Both in the public, as well as in Tetravaal, the company Deon works for. The president of Tetravaal authorizes Vincent to use his robot to destroy Chappie. Which is exactly what he wants.
What follows is a robot versus robot battle at the gang’s hideout with a lot of casualties before Chappie manages to disable the mecha. Deon is fatally wounded, Yo-Landi is dead, and Ninja is left to pick up the pieces. Chappie frantically drives Deon to Tetravaal to try and transfer both his own consciousness as well as that of Deon into a new body.
In the end, I found the movie too broad. It is trying really hard to be an action movie and at the same time it would like to pose you several deep thoughts about consciousness and what it means to be sentient and human. And because of this, both parts suffer. I would’ve preferred it had they scrapped the whole Hugh Jackman plot and focused on Chappie figuring out what he is, who he is, asserting himself as his own person and coming to terms with mortality, whether he actually dies or not.
I’m also not really happy with Ninja and Yo-Landi. I kept seeing them more as themselves, i.e. Die Antwoord, than as the gangsters they’re supposed to be. Which is only made worse by them actually wearing Die Antwoord shirts and them using their own names. Their acting is lacking, and as such I do not believe and feel them as characters.
So, in summary, I liked Chappie and Deon and don’t really give a shit about the rest.
After Chappie, we took a quick detour to the supermarket, and then came back in for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Another movie featuring Dev Patel as main character. I really liked this movie. It’s an unpretentious feel good movie, and follow-up to 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In the first movie, Sonny is trying to build up his hotel in India where most guests are elderly and have basically moved in to spend their last years. Now, the hotel is doing really well, so well in fact, that Sonny and one of the residents, co-manager Muriel (a fantastic Maggie Smith), go to the US to ask for financial support from a franchise to open a second hotel. The franchise is interested but not willing to commit just yet so they agree to send out a mystery guest observer to see if it’s worth it.
Once back, Sonny is stressed out and dealing with way too many things on his own. Not only is he waiting for the observer, he also has his own upcoming wedding to worry about. And with how Indian weddings go, this means three parties. Shortly later, two new guests arrive, Mrs Lavinia Beech, who gets the last free room in the hotel, and Mr. Guy Chambers.
Sonny gets all frenzied, convinced that Guy is the observer, since the franchise CEO said he would “send his Guy”. He bumps Mrs. Beech to a barely finished room, and starts pampering Guy. Guy has more manners and switches rooms with Lavinia after dinner. Over the next few days, Sonny expends all his energy on making Guy Chambers like him and the hotel ignoring his other guests, and his fiancee Sunaina. He is also jealous of his fiancee’s friend Kushal as he is the choreographer of the wedding dances and spends a lot of time with Sunaina. Next to that, he has bought the hotel Sonny had his eye on to expand into. As a result, he gets into arguments, bungles the dance on their first party, and gets in trouble with Sunaina, and her family.
Meanwhile, the guests each have their own problems. Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Evelyn (Judi Dench) are very fond of each other but afraid to say it so they keep going in circles and missing each other. Madge is dating two wealthy Indian men and having trouble choosing between them. Norman accidentally takes out a hit on his girlfriend, and is jealous of her other relationships (as they never said they were exclusive) but afraid to say so. And Guy Chambers is interested in Sonny’s mother, who is reluctant to think of a new relationship.
And behind all this, Muriel is doing her best to keep everything together and teach Sonny to do the right thing. After all, she will not live forever and at some point he has to do this on his own. Fortunately, everything works out in the end, every one has their own happy ending, and we get treated to an awesome Indian wedding dance(party). Dev Patel is a very fine dancer 🙂
Went to see Jupiter Ascending with Gert tonight. We’d been wanting to see it for a while now, but it was always being shown at ridiculous times (middle of the afternoon or late in the evening). But, today we got lucky as there was a 18:00 showing and with it being my day off, and Gert also free around that time, we finally got to go.
I’ve heard some buzz about the movie being both awesome and disappointing at the same time, and I can see that. Visually, the movie is stunning. The costumes, the sets, the decor, the CGI. Everything is elaborate and filled with details, and the action sequences are fantastically made.
I also really liked the backstory, where Earth is just another planet in a universe filled with inhabited worlds and where Earth isn’t actually all that important. It’s just another commodity to be traded. The only advantage it has, is its sheer number of people, and that makes it valuable enough, that it is worth scheming and killing for.
The various aliens are fun and interesting, and the steampunk vibe coming off the ships and buildings is a nice change from standard, smooth, grey, metal in sci-fi. The glimpse of the culture of bureaucracy in the origin of humankind planetary conglomerate of Orous is fantastic to see as Advocate Bob leads Jupiter and Caine from one desk to another to get her inheritance settled. The steampunk elements are strong in this sequence, with a drizzle of cyberpunk added, and it really sets the scene, visually.
The characters are not very well developed. Kalique isn’t shown enough to have any development whatsoever. Titus is okay, but his part (with Jupiter) of the story goes so fast that it is not at all believable. Balem is fantastically played by Eddie Redmayne. His facial expressions and creepy voice make him a perfect ‘mad king’. Unfortunately, the character’s main drive, profit and a mommy-complex, is too thin to carry the plot.
Jupiter herself is sort of interesting, but I wish we could’ve seen more of her. I do like the lack of romance. Except a mention about twice, there is no swooning and pining and other such nonsense until the very end where they kiss. Which was a nice ending.
I also like Caine very much. I found his story, and that of Stinger, the most interesting and would have liked to see more of that.
Plot and story wise, the movie is lacking. Jupiter has very little agency, most of the movie she is moving around from place to place because people bring her there, and then she runs off only to be found or captured by someone else, who brings her elsewhere. The main reason for all that moving about is to gain the title to Earth from her, either by wanting to murder her, or get her on their side. This is not fleshed out enough, because the movie spends most of its time doing chases or running. The chase sequences are very well made and look awesome, but they are too long, and too often. The running away seems fairly pointless. Other than that, it just jumps all over the place seemingly without connection.
All in all, I do like the movie, but it isn’t great. I might see it again if it’s ever on TV or anything, but I have no need for it in my collection. Which is a disappointment as I had hoped, from seeing the trailers before it was released, to love the movie.
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