The Seattle Mariners baseball field – south of downtown – is set up as a Christmas light maze (the Seattle ‘Enchant’ Christmas market and festival). So that’s where we went after beers & dinner tonight. There were forests of light trees, a scavenger hunt for Santa’s reindeer in the maze, and a little ice rink as well.
‘President Trump’ was again featured in this Saturday’s SNL cold open, portraying him and other world leaders at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. Hmm. Is this really funny? I thought. In this case, Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman are – by all credible accounts in the real world – savages, directly responsible for murdering their political enemies. They should be persona non grata at the G20 (and maybe they are). So is it cool to ‘celebrate’ and poke fun at them?
I guess I’m too serious. This is simply an offer to the audience to escape the horrors of the real universe, and jump into a parallel one of parody, for a little while. Another problem could be that I only have one beer on a Saturday night, and not three or four, as I’m sure most in the studio audience must have had!
We ran out to the movie theater today to go see the just-released Freddie Mercury/ Queen biopic called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It had gotten mixed reviews from the critics – but as it turned out: what do they know? I thought it was very, very well done.
American actor Rami Malek worked hard to undergo a stunning transformation to portray Freddie Mercury’s flamboyance and human side. The filmmakers collaborated with Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor (71) and lead guitarist Brian May (69). (Bass guitarist John Deacon (67) retired from the band’s activities a few years after Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991).
The movie ends with an amazing recreation of Bob Geldof’s Live Aid concert that was held in 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London (worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans).
Oktoberfest 2018 in Munich is over, but here is a cute little cartoon from German cartoonists Greser & Lenz.
We went down to the annual ‘BrickCon’ LEGO exhibition, at Seattle Center today. This is where LEGO master builders show off their work, and fans come to admire it. Here are some of my favorites.
I am under the weather. Sometimes today I had to put on several layers of clothes to keep me warm out of bed, and to keep the chills under control.
‘That reminds me of the Friends episode with Joey wearing all Chandler’s clothes’, I thought.
I see actor Ryan Reynolds’ gin has arrived in Seattle (Aviation Gin). It made me think of our gin of choice, for after-work cocktails, back when I worked in China: Bombay Sapphire. So I should give the Aviation Gin a try.
P.S. Alas, party-pooper researchers have published the results of a sweeping global study in the Lancet, that says that not even modest amounts of alcohol is good for one’s health. What is one to do?
Below is the used LEGO Castle #6075 set from 1981 that I had bought from a Craigslist seller in Tacoma.
I had to fill in quite a few yellow brick pieces of my own. I bought it knowing there were no knight or horse minifigures. (Aw). The red drawbridge is also missing its pulley and rope, used to draw it close.
Fun as it was, to build this set, it’s really outdated. The modern medieval sets from LEGO use gray bricks and not yellow, roof tiles, and add in a lot more detail to the castle walls and roofs, and to the minifigure characters (see the picture of ‘Kingdom’s Joust’).
The popcorn movie ‘The Meg*’ is out on the circuit. Even though I have not seen it yet, it’s fun to check the movie’s trailer online, and the posters for it. The movie is a co-production with China, and features actress Li Bingbing alongside Jason Statham.
*Short for Carcharodon megalodon, a really, really big shark (60 ft/ 20m) that roamed the oceans until about 2.6 million years ago.
Here’s a simple Texas-themed construction. I was inspired by pictures that I found online for a 1977 set called ‘Texas Rangers’.
May I present the new and improved version of what I will call ‘LEGO House on the Hill’? The original one was only a shell, with no floors, and not much detail inside.
This house is still very compact, and built with pretty basic bricks. I don’t have custom furniture and kitchen appliance bricks that come with some LEGO house sets – yet.
I went to see Love, Simon, on the spur of the moment today. It is a coming-of-age film, a romantic comedy-drama about a closeted gay high schooler called Simon. (He is forced to come out of the closet – of course. He makes mistakes in the process, hurts people, but his parents and friends are supportive).
I see some film critics wonder if the movie is already too little, too late, for today’s kids for whom being gay is – finally – O.K. So they don’t need this movie. Well, I think I disagree. The movie will be watched by old guys like me, and by parents, and by gay kids that have a rough time where they grow up. And it will mean an awful lot to them.
I did not buy the big T-Rex I saw at Toys-R-Us (my post a few days ago), but this red one at Walmart was on sale for just $1.97. Besides, the dinosaur – the terrible lizard * – goes nicely with the garage that I added to my Lego house. It’s all just for fun. I will eventually box up these toys and donate all of it to Goodwill.
*Dinosaur comes from ancient Greek δεινός (deinos), meaning ‘terrible, potent or fearfully great’, and σαῦρος (sauros), meaning ‘lizard or reptile’.
What would my actual house look like in Lego* bricks? I wondered. Well, only one way to find out, I thought: build it – and so I did. I’m pleased with the result. I had to scavenge bricks and roof tiles from my 2004 Lego Designer House kit, destroying it in the process – but that’s OK. The roof was a lot of fun to build.
*Lego is short for leg godt, Danish words that translate to ‘play well’.
I scan through the Wall Street Journal almost every day, at the public library here in my neighborhood. The weekend edition has puzzles in, and the two puzzles below are from this last weekend. (This is the link to the WSJ puzzle blog).
Update Fri 4/6: Well, the solutions have been published. I got the first one right: 9 links can be drawn. Trying to solve the ‘Seven Points’ problem was a humbling experience, and I got close, but no cigar. I knew the solution had to involve equilateral several connected triangles, but I should have applied more rigor, and maybe used a compass to arrive at the solution (as shown in the figure with the circles, from Math Stack Exchange). So depending on the way one looks at it, the solution is a regular pentagon, with two points carefully added to it, equidistant to three other points on the pentagon .. OR two diamonds pinned at a shared vertice (bottom left on the first diagram), and the other vertices a unit length apart.
On Sunday, we drove out to the town of El Recodo and made a stop at Villa Unión for lunch at a famous seafood restaurant.
We were very lucky to run into a tour guide in El Recodo to show us around. He also phoned ahead to the very popular restaurant in Villa Unión, which allowed us to get in almost right away.
The Wall Street Journal had a little report about Oscar enthusiasts that watch all 59 movies before the big night, driving many miles to art theatres for the foreign films or documentaries. (That’s not me!).
I still want to go see Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Winston Churchill in WW2, though, and also on my list: The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name and animated film winner Coco.
Nice to see Bladerunner 2049 winning in Visual Effects as well as Cinematography.
Someone noted on Twitter that none of the movies directed by women, won any Oscars: a disappointment.
Harvey Weinstein, and several other men in the Hollywood industry accused of sexual harassment, now persona non grata, were nowhere to be seen.
Black Panther is ‘a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world’ says Jamil Smith in TIME magazine. Of course, it does not hurt that it is also a great action flick, full of beautiful people and gorgeous scenes of the utopian world of Wakanda.
The movie is not not devoid of racism – in more than one scene, a white character finds out what it’s like to be in a world in which black people have wealth, technology and military might. (A world where white people are not allowed, in fact!). Overall, the movie has a great message, though: in the real world full of different nations and ethnicities, we are all our brother’s keeper.
We went to see the new ‘Bladerunner 2049’ movie on Saturday, and I liked it a lot. Ryan Gosling is Officer K from the LAPD and hunts down replicants (robots that look and act like humans), then discovers he might be a very special replicant himself. Are his memories real or not? is a big part of the movie, as is the destroyed Earth backdrop. There was a Blackout (electromagnetic pulse) event in 2022 that destroyed all digital data records on Earth, and as a consequence Officer K has to knock on doors and ask people (and replicants) questions, to get information.
I loved the enormous fields of solar power generation stations in the opening scene, the massive seawall that protects LA from the sea, and the flying cars. There is also Officer K’s holographic girlfriend Joi (says she: ‘I missed you, baby sweet – what a day, hmm?’), and a cool holographic jukebox player. But in the final analysis, the movie is about what makes us human. A perennial science fiction question seems to be: could artificially intelligent (AI) creatures be made human, say, with implanted memories? What is illusion, and what is ‘reality’, anyway? As Albert Einstein famously said: ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one’.