I went to see The Brothers Grimm this afternoon with my dad. Actually, I think this is one of the few occasions where I‘ve seen a movie on its opening day. The first thing that attracted me to this movie was its director, Terry Gilliam. I’m a fan of Monty Python (Britain’s given us a lot of comedy, eh) and was interested in a film directed by him. Needless to say, it was a mixture of fulfillment and disappointment.
The special effects were quite good. I wasn’t impressed, as they were nothing innovative, but they were also not cheesy, save for one effect. At the end of the movie, the evil queen is destroyed by shattering her magic mirror. This has the effect of destroying her tower as well as herself. Just as the mirror shattered, so she shatters into several thousand glass fragments. Watching Monica Bellucci’s face split like that was very weird and definitely cheesy.
As my dad remarked, Heath Ledger looked unbelievably different. Hair died black and cut short for the part of Jakob Grimm, I didn’t even recognize him. He played the part pretty well. Both Brothers Grimm worked nicely together, and I think they were the main source of humour in the film.
Speaking of which, the movie could have used more humour. I expected more humour from a Gilliam film. The movie wasn’t entirely serious and devoid of humour, but I just thought that there would be more of it. As it was, there were the usual jokes about the dysfunctional conflicts between brothers, the love triangle, and fun with French and Italian accents. Oooh, and computer-generated fairy tale creatures make for good humour opportunities too, although I think they didn’t cash in on as many of those as they could have.
My dad mentioned that it felt like parts of the movie were edited out that would have made it easier to understand. I agree that the scene cuts were very rough, time seemed to pass at irregular intervals. For example, one minute they were being tortured at the hands of the French occupiers, the next they were riding back to the village. Obviously I don’t want to see their whole (doubtlessly long and boring) ride, but the way in which the transition was performed made me think that I missed something there. Similarly, several other characters could have had better and more lengthy introductions.
The storyline was interesting enough but not captivating. Basically, the Brothers Grimm are con artists of their time. With the help of two flunkies, they stage mystical creatures for them to exorcise, thereby saving the day and making some money. Will (Matt Damon) is clearly grounded in the world, whereas Jakob (Heath Ledger) is a dreamer and scholar who has been documenting the fairy tales they hear in order to write it in a book. Jakob also has the added burden of guilt: when they were younger, their sister suffered from an illness and Jakob had been sent to sell the cow for money that could be used to purchase medicine. Instead, Jakob sold the cow for magic beans (sound familiar?).
After being apprehended by the French for fraud and encouraging superstition and the like, the two are threatened with death. In actuality, it’s a transparent scheme intended to use the Brothers Grimm to solve a “thorn in the foot” of the French general, regarding the disappearance of ten girls from a German village. The general is convinced it is the work of con artists like the Grimms, who are tasked to unveil the workings of the artist to the village and set everything right. Easier said than done.
In their adventures, they come across the love interest, Angelika (Lena Headey). Jakob falls for Angelika, although she kisses both at the end of the movie, leaving the matter of whom she loves unresolved (smell of a sequel?).
The girls are being captured and placed in crypts around a tower where a queen lives. The queen tortured the ancestors of the villagers for their spells, one of which was a spell for eternal life—but not eternal youth. To restore her youth, she has enslaved Angelika’s father to capture twelve girls and perform a spell during the blood moon (a lunar eclipse). The spell would doubtless cost the girls their lives as they knew it in return for restoring the queen’s beauty.
So Jakob and Will come to the rescue. Jakob confronts his demons by mortally wounding Will during their confrontation with the queen, an action that is crucial to their bid for winning against her magic. They bring down the tower down and rescue Angelika, who had been captured as the twelfth victim of the spell. The movie ends with much dancing and celebration.
H2G2 comes out on DVD on September 13 (apparently they‘re giving away free towels!) and after that I look forward to the September release of Serenity the feature film based on Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel)’s short lived series Firefly. The trailer looks awesome and I’m hoping the movie is equally impressive.
So Google has this new instant messenging client, Google Talk. I downloaded it to try it out. Smartly, Google has used a standard protocol, XMPP, allowing clients such as Trillian Pro and GAIM to connect to it. This means I can supposedly use Google Talk even in Ubuntu.
How does it stack up to other IM clients? Overall I say it loses, simply because it lacks so many features other clients have. For example, no emoticons. The overall interface is smooth and rough at the same time: it looks good, but handles roughly. However, it is new. I’ll give it time to improve and gain features, like Gmail, because it looks good right now and so far Google hasn’t let me down.
Google Talk at least allows a degree of text formatting (using *bold* and _italic_) and promises rich text formatting in the future, unlike MSN Messenger. And its call feature (audio conversation over a microphone) is superior to MSN: faster to connect by far, and no ‘network issues’ whatsoever. Take that, MSN.
The way it groups conversations into one stacked window reminds me slightly of GAIM but handles better than GAIM. It took a few minutes to get used to it, but at least it doesn’t clutter up my taskbar, so I’m all for it. Kudos to Google on that one.
Overall it needs work, but that’s what the “beta” stamp is for, I don’t expect it to beat MSN, AIM, and YIM in one release. So far it looks very promising. If you have a Gmail account, try it. If you don’t have a Gmail account, where have you been the past year?
Tomorrow marks exactly two weeks until the start of school … first day back will be right after Labour Day. Kind of depressing when I think about it, since it seems like the summer has gone by amazingly quickly. And no matter how much I do during the vacation, it always seems like it’s not enough time to get everything done. Admittedly, it’s probably because I like the hours: stay up late into the night and early into the morning on the computer and reading, then sleeping 10 hours and waking up during the day. I can’t do that once school begins.
I’ll have to make up a list of school supplies I need … figure out if I need more clothes (oh my won’t, that be fun) and then comes the day when I actually go to school. This is my first year that I will be busing, which will be a new experience… . I haven’t received a time table yet, which goes to show how increasingly disorganised and incompetent the school Board is becoming during this “integration” process.
I can’t say that it’s all bad. I really like school and enjoy most of it, it will be nice to see friends again whom I‘ve not seen since the end of June. And then I’ll settle into the fall routine, get up at 7 AM each morning, go to bed at 10 or 11.
I need to stop thinking so much … and find that French dictionary… .
We won! It was an amazing game, but yes, the short term would be “we are the champions.”
They scored no runs until the last half of the game, where they unfortunately tied with us, 3-3. Everyone on the team was playing excellently (there were some errors, but no more than usual). Justin Bach played third base since Joey Lieberman had departed, and he was surprisingly good for a change, he even got a hit at one at bat.
First base had some troubles (literally). It was damaged somehow early during the game, and they spent a few minutes trying to fix a bent peg or something. They replaced the base and play continued, but it was stopped again a little while later to fix the base or adjust it or something.
That wasn’t the only difficulty. The umpires made another stupid call, even worse than the third base one. They called a Mallards runner safe, claiming Shaun Williams’ foot was off the bag, when it was clearly on the bag! Our coach appealed it, but to no avail.
Our players are so civil, though. There was one player on the Mallards who had to be restrained by his team mates to prevent him from going after the umpire after a called third strike. None of our players so much as tossed their helmet into the ground. Lots of broken bats though.
The Mallards played well and were truly worthy opponents. When we were tied up at the top of the eighth, I was worried we‘d go into extra innings. A nice walked-in run helped give us the edge for the top of the ninth.
Shaun Williams was on base (first base in fact) at the end of the eighth. Instead of letting another pitcher take a batter or two in the ninth, he went into the dugout, pulled on his cap and glove, and went onto the pitcher’s mound to go into the game cold, after standing on base! Absolutely amazing. And he pitched better than yesterday. Not as many strikeouts, but still an unbelievable arm!
Those guys are going to get so wasted tonight/this morning … well, they deserve it. They are the champions. And I hope those who can come back next year do so, because I’d love to see them again.
The Border Cats and their reign of victory continues.
Although we lost the first of the three games, we have the home field advantage so we played the next one here. And we were awesome! Robbie Johns scored two home runs in two consecutive innings (one home run per inning)! It was amazing.
High scoring game (8-5) but we managed to keep them from scoring in the latter half. Shaun Williams came in to finish off the top of the 9th. I will say this for the Mallards: they belong in the championships for a reason. While Williams smoked three consecutive batters on Thursday, he struggled slightly on Saturday, allowing two batters on base but finally striking out the third.
The fans were on their feet during that inning, and the tension was palpable with each pitch. They didn’t even bother announcing Williams was going to pitch, the fans knew who he was (and if they didn’t, their friends would tell them). Williams was pumped—he only took about fifteen minutes to warm up after the bottom of the seventh when he last was at bat.
As a side note, my brother won “Guess the Attendance” and got a deck of Northwoods League playing cards (the attendance was 3103, the bleachers and entire stadium were packed).
So now we have to play game 3 tomorrow, at our stadium. I’m hoping that a combination of confidence from this game and the power of thousands of fans cheering them on will lead the Border Cats to their first ever championship win! And if not … well, we came this far, the best we’ve ever done. And it was an awesome thing to see.
My hands hurt and my voice is hoarse from clapping and shouting.
The Thunder Bay Border Cats have won the Northwoods Northern Division Playoffs! So this means we‘re going up against the Madison Mallards for the title of League Champions. I’m confident we can beat them (although not necessarily that we will beat them).
Tonight’s game was absolutely amazing. St. Cloud scored in the first inning, but then we scored two runs at the bottom of the first and duplicated this feat in the second. Our players made some amazing plays. Don’t even get me started about the umpiring… .
Take, for example, the bottom of the seventh. Slide into third base, safe by a mile, and the third-base umpire calls it so. But the River Bats coach comes out and starts arguing, claiming that our man was out. Soon enough, all six of the umpires are conferencing and they reverse the call. I mean, really! So our coach argues with them more, and meanwhile the River Bats coach should be tossed for the way he’s arguing with those umpires. The entire stadium of loyal fans shouted “Safe! Safe!” but apparently it didn’t do any good. Our man was out.
Kudos to Shawn Williams (pitcher/catcher/first baseman extraordinaire) and J.R. Voyles (pitcher turned second baseman playing shortstop) for their excellent plays to end off so many innings. Robbie Johns, our catcher, was as usual excellent. Shawn Williams was pumped to pitch the ninth inning, so much so that he striked out all three batters consecutively!
So they’ll be playing in Madison tomorrow (good luck, guys!) then back here on Saturday to play game 2 of the 3 game championship series. I know I’ll be watching.
Go cats go!
Well, it’s here. After a lot of work, I’ve finished VSNS Lemon 3.1. Some of the biggest changes include an RSS feed (as seen on this site) and a fix to a couple of nasty bugs.
As usual, it’s available for download if you’re crazy enough to try it, eh. If you need help (or find a bug) feel free to email me.
Theatre in the round is cool, especially in a small cozy one. You can really see the actors up close. The Taming of the Shrew was really good, I loved every moment of it. The actors were talented and played their parts convincingly without overplaying them. My favourites were Petruchio and Tranio. And when Vincentio and fake Vincentio met, it was a classic moment.
The most interesting part of the evening came after the play, however, which was the last performance of hte production. At the end, under a spotlight with a bouqet of flowers, the actor who played Petruchio proposed to the actor who played Katherina (and she accepted!). It was a great moment.
I hear, in other news, that the Border Cats won their last regular game even though they had probably been partying last night. Goodbye, Robbie Johns! To the playoffs we go!
All right, I’m not usually this excited about sporting events. But having your own college league baseball team in your city is pretty cool. Watching them win is even better.
So the Border Cats are going to the playoffs! Won their spot tonight in a game of 8-3; they’ll be facing off in a best-2-of-3 series against last half’s winner, St. Cloud River Bats. I’m confident they’ll win against St. Cloud and will go on to play against the South Division winners (most likely the Madison Mallards).
It was the last regular season game I’ll see. There’s one more tomorrow, which will be a tribute night to Robbie Johns, number 23, our catcher. He’s been with the team (in various positions) for all three of its years here in Thunder Bay and is a great catcher and strong hitter. They’ll be retiring his number. I wish you the best of luck, Robbie.
I won’t be able to attend the game, unfortunately, because I’m going to see a performance of The Taming of the Shrew with some friends.
I got up slightly before 7 AM today, which is a feat unto itself. Bathed, ate, went online for a little. We left before 10, gassed up at the prohibitively expensive gas station, and were on our way.
I took the time to work on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is a very good book. Crossing the border wasn’t difficult, although there was a long lineup. Then we were in the US of A, travelling along Minnesota highways. A land where metric is only a word and everything else looks the same as Canada… .
It was the last day of the Fishermen’s Festival, so everyone in Grand Marais was out to see a parade going on later that afternoon. When we arrived, my brother and I skipped rocks for a while before my entire family went window shopping. We navigated our way down to the Angry Trout Cafe, a restaurant where we always have lunch because of their tasty fresh fish.
I had fish and chips (Lake Superior Herring). My brother had the same, only with Alaskan Cod as the fish. My mother had something … and my dad had Malaysian peanut soup, although they mixed up his order and brought him chowder at first. The food was, needless to say, impeccable.
After that, we skipped rocks a bit more to finish off lunch, then went shopping for souvenirs. I got a stuffed moose, my brother a remote controlled car and binoculars of some sort. My mom purchased a sweater.
We were on the road again after some ice cream (in a real waffle cone!) and soon enough crossed the border (paying some GST, apparently… .). We were home pretty quickly, and then I did stuff before writing this.
It appears my site is the site to be … if you work for a pharmaceutical company, that is. For the past few weeks, bots (or really bored but motivated people… ) have been spamming my blog with comments. Some advertise dieting drugs, a few poker … but it was getting very annoying.
I’ve added a small verification feature to my comments to hopefully avoid them. If not, I shall have to summon up a flock of illiterate pigeons.
In other news … Bordercats are doing fine. They lost the game I saw today (fast game!) but I‘m confident they will recover. We have impressive fielding, but our hitting is only so-so. And unfortunately some of our best players are leaving before the end of the season, such as Jonathan Diaz, a most awesome shortstop who makes great game-saving plays.
I should go to bed, tomorrow I must get up bright and early. We (my family) are going on a road trip to Grand Marais, Minnesota. Living close to the border does have its advantages, eh. The trip there and back will be somewhere around 3-4 hours, so I’ll have time to finish some books, hopefully.
My brother and father have joined the dark side! They actually purchased an item advertised by The Canadian Tire family! I was shocked and appalled. The Motomaster Eliminator something-or-other. Basically a very large battery with lots of adaptor plugins that you can charge by plugging into your car. The device is probably quite useful, but I can’t believe they bought something advertised by the Canadian Tire family… .
Anyway, road trip tomorrow. I’ll probably post about it when I get home, around 7 PM or so.