Quick Weekend Trip

While justtwomorethings is crossing states off her list, she asked me to check on her apartment. So this weekend, I Amtrak’ed up to Providence. Given that the only vehicle I had were my own two feet, didn’t do anything crazy–just walked around enjoying the sunshine (pleasant at an easy 70 degrees).

I did run into this little Portuguese Festival in the evening though. It appeared to be just starting–the band was just setting up–but the food stands were taking orders so I grabbed something for dinner. I had this thing called a “St. Michael Bihana”–which turned out to be the Portuguese version of a BBQ chicken sandwich. It wasn’t bad–the sweet of the chicken BBQ went well with some spicy mayo and offset by a light, crusty bun. There was also this dessert–the espresso mousse part was good, but the almond cookies it was layered with are too soggy by the time you make it to them (was tempted by the doughy goodness of…something that they were frying in a giant vat next door…but these were HUGE, too big for 1 person).

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I also was in the mood for a movie, so ate my dinner while watching the live action Cyborg 009-1 on Netflix. Alright, I wanted something stupid and ridiculous but…wow. Well, the movie is clearly catering toward a specific audience. And if questions like “Why would a spy wear bright red leather?”, “How on earth does she reload those machine-gun breasts?,” and “Does every single injury really result in you spouting 8 pints of blood from your mouth?” bother you, you are not that audience.

Hong Kong: Avenue of Stars

After graduation, I felt I deserved to blow a little cash and go on a big trip. Since justtwomorethings was on Hong Kong and our dad thought it time to visit his family in Malaysia, we decided to combine the two. But due to smoke in one of the control towers in O’Hare, dad and I missed our connecting flight in Narita and met justtwomorethings a day later than planned in Hong Kong. So we barely got to do anything on my list of things I wanted to see. Oh well, good excuse to go back, right?
          What I did insist we do was visit the Avenue of Stars. We went there the day after dinner at Hutong Restaurant. Movies in general but Hong Kong cinema in particular is a soft spot for our family; some of my fondest memories are watching Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Andy Lau, Stephen Chow, Bruce Lee and all the others on the couch with my dad. The Avenue of Stars is Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
          The Avenue of Stars is a paved walkway right at the water’s edge, so you get a great, completely uninterrupted view of the Hong Kong skyline. The only problem was it was just so damned hot and sunny, that we almost melted making our way down the promenade. Eventually we gave up oo’ing and aw’ing over over all the handprints. I quickly snapped pictures of all the stars I knew, and we hurried over to the lifesize Bruce Lee statue for a photo before fleeing to blessed air conditioning.

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Movies: Frozen and The Nut Job

The Nut Job: Yeah, they don't know either

The Nut Job: Yeah, they don’t know either

The first thing I have to say is, if you’re an adult going to a kids movie by yourself, you end up feeling very weird and defensive.  I kept having this urge to explain that no, I hadn’t wandered into the wrong theater by mistake.

I went to see these movies because I happen to have done work tangentially related to them.  Frozen was last week, and by far the better of the two movies.  It really worked on both a kiddie and an adult level, and I appreciate how they truly reinvented the Snow Queen fairytale, instead of just translating it into animation with modern dialogue.  I also love how they expanded the usual boy-girl confront various plot obstacles-shaped-like-characters storyline to have relationships about sisters, about the weight of family expectations, and about screwing up dating your first time out of the gate.  I think my only disappointment was the forgettability of most of the songs.  Oh, I enjoyed them when I heard them, and they’re a cut above the usual in terms of quality, but they’re just not earworms.  Even Pocahontas had me unwillingly humming Colors of the Wind for weeks afterward.

The Nut Job.  I just don’t know what this was.  This was like somebody took a movie about dysfunctional adults and tried to dumb it down for kids by making everybody animals, only they forgot that you need to make the characters lovable and relatable and God, I don’t know, consistent?  There’s this one character, Grayson, who reminded me strongly of Brad Pitt’s airhead from Burn After Reading, except he wasn’t played by Brad Pitt so his idiocy wasn’t hilarious, it was just silly, and the script wasn’t written by the Coen brothers so his character’s nonsensical behavior didn’t set the tone, it just slammed on the brakes so everybody could have a good long think about how bad the movie was.  Also, the romantic leads had no chemistry whatsoever.  All the chemistry was between the male lead and his two male sidekicks (Grayson counts as a sidekick), and it…just made you wonder whether the animators were working out some behind-the-scenes issues.  I think they were going for bromance à la Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, but they just totally missed the planet on that one.

Oh, and everybody knows the villain’s cardinal sidekick’s design is totally ripped off from Charley Harper’s work, right?