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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One (Business-)Week at the movies: Death Proof

Instead of staying all alone at home I decided to tackle my growing list of 'must-see' movies. So I ended up in the cinema Abaton yesterday to watch Death Proof. From the first minute there could be no doubt that it was a real Tarantino movie, because the first shot revealed a couple of feet on a dashboard. And there they remained for most of the intro. But feet didn't remain the only well known things from the Tarantino universe. Mentions of Big Kahuna Burger and Red Apple as well as a pussywagon sticker could be spotted throughout the movie.

The story is quite simple and inconsequential: Stuntman Mike has a Death Proof car which he likes to use to terrorize women. The movie tells two of Mike's 'adventures', whereas he 'succeeded' in the first part and walked off scott free he gets his comeuppance by the second group he chooses as victims.

As usual in Tarantino flicks there are some hilarious dialogs and a unique style. This movie is dedicated to seventies trash movies. This manifests itself in several ways throughout the film, such as in the short clips warning the audience of the mature content of the movie, terrible cuts with bits of color visible between, repeated scenes where the movie springs back half a second and an overall bad quality of the picture with lines appearing all over. But as this was surely intended it gave the movie a special feel that makes it stand apart from 'modern' flicks.

The references to Kill Bill didn't start with the Pussywaggon sticker. The scene introducing the second group of 'victims' was shot in black and white, the ringtone of one of the cell phones was Twisted Nerve (the song whistled by Elle Driver when she visited Beatrix Kiddo in the hospital), and when the color suddenly returned the car was a bright yellow.

Conclusion: A very entertaining movie even if it doesn't reach Pulp Fiction brilliance. At times one's kept at the edge of your seat, fearing for the heroines, at others one's a bit bored by its lengths. If you like Tarantino's movies you should definitely check it out. Otherwise you might still enjoy it but be warned, this is no movie for the faint of hearted.

Personal Rating: 8.5/10

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My timing was perfect, last Friday night on my way to the bookstore I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, thus ending my Big Reread in time for the latest Harry Potter volume. The "midnight" sale was scheduled for 1am (midnight UK-time), when I arrived at 12.20 there were already a lot of people waiting. Fortunately I had my voucher ready so I could stand in the faster queue. At 1am the doors of the Orell Füssli English Bookshop opened and the first fans could get their books. I had to wait till 1.20am till I finally got hold of my copy. Following an interview with TeleZüri I (you can spot me in the second news item [in Swiss German]) left for home. On my way I spotted people reading Harry Potter on every street corner.

Wanting to enjoy the book as much as possible I left myself enough time to read and did not try to read it in one go, as I had done when HP 6 first appeared; I hadn't managed it back then, falling asleep 50 pages from the end...
This latest volume is definitely the most action-packed of them all, from the first page there's always something going on; reading felt like riding a roller coaster. Nevertheless J.K Rowling manages to regularly interject valuable background information which moves the story along. As usual there are many surprises, red herrings and unexpected twists casting doubt on characters we come to have trusted over the last couple of books. In the end it feels like Harry's story came to a worthy close with most, if not all, open issues addressed and resolved. And even if there were some minor inconsistencies this is definitely my favorite Harry Potter book so far.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MEF in Moving Pictures

The trailer of the movie about the recent MEF 7 has just gone online. It manages to show the atmosphere much better than the written word. And you can even spot me several times (I'm the one in the red wizard cloak) *g*

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pictures from R.A.R.P.

This weekend I played in a RARP (Real Action Role-Playing Game). The play was more driven through interaction by the players than by pre-aranged story from the organization.

The pictures as well as some comments can be found here.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Middle Earth Festival (MEF) 7: Day 3

After a refreshing swim and another great breakfast we were ready to face the last day of this year's MEF. My two workshops were again devoted to dancing, leading to a total of about 11 hours dancing during the three days :).

It's worth mentioning that today was again fantastic weather and temperatures rose up to 30 degrees centigrade. So most people were desperately looking for a place in the shade. Thus I was quite happy to go into the Knight's Chamber to participate in the Medieval Sewing workshop. The introduction was very practical and interesting and we soon could start with our own work, so I decided to make a "Bundhaube" a kind of medieval protection worn instead of a hat to keep the hair clean. As of today it is still a work in progress, but it was good to get some guidance to start :).

Soon afterwards the long awaited Knight's banquet started. All visitors assembled in the inner ward and awaited with suspense what would be up for dinner.

Between courses the different artists looked after our entertainment. Especially memorable were the Falconers, who brought two falcons an eagle and an eagle owl along and Forzarello ("Ouuuuiiiiii").

The main act of the evening was Omnia a Pagan Folk Band from the Netherlands. Their music was very atmospheric and I liked it a lot. However, they tended to talk an awful lot, it was in English, so no problem for me, but I could see people who were distracted by it. And for the last evening I would have wished for a band with more mass appeal such as An Lár. Anyways it was a good show and we had our fun :).

Then came the most touching event of the day, a fireworks display synchronized to the music of Lord of the Rings. It was way too beautiful to describe it with mere words...

The final point of the evening belonged to the Phoenix Fireproject and to Forzarello who performed another stunning fireshow.

And then it was slowly time to say goodbye to many good friends, even though we partied till the last bus left at 4.30pm it was over way too soon.

This MEF will stay in my memories for ever, it was a perfect event and I had enormous fun :) and if we're lucky the myth will one day be continued.

On Sunday we saw that Petrus indeed was a fan of the MEF, because now that it was over, it started to rain again...

All the pictures of the last day.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Daemon

I've just had the chance to discover the name and form of my daemon. A daemon is a part of one's soul and they are not visible in this world. However in Lyra's world, whose story can soon be seen on the movie screens, daemon's are part of everyday life.

My daemon's name is Aurora and she's a fox. By filling out the questionnaire below you can help to give my daemon it's final form :).



Edit: My Daemon likes changing forms; I've just spotted her in the form of a rabbit :)

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Middle Earth Festival (MEF) 7: Day 2

Staying in Leukerbad in a four-star hotel had several advantages: First the comfortable beds, second the swimming before breakfast (there's nothing better to revive the tired limbs) and then of course the huge and excellent breakfast itself :). The only disadvantage was the overcrowded bus we had to take to get back to Leuk...

Having had so much fun dancing the day before I went straight to the next dance workshop :).

Returning to the castle I received the biggest surprise of the day. Thyrion approached and told me: "Scrappy, you are nominated for the costume competition." I didn't know what to say! So I ended up on stage together with a Nazgul, two riders from Rohan, two towers from Gondor the biggest dwarf in Middle Earth and Kankra (well, she waited in front of the stage). I didn't rank in the top three, but just being part of this was honor enough for me :).

The waiting time till the next workshop was shortened by an impromptu gig by Des Königs Halunken, a Swiss Medieval Folk band.

You can probably guess what I did next. Correct, I went to the next dance workshop *g*.

This evenings activities started with a big show block where most of the artist gave a small sample of their trade. Thus we could hear songs from Duivelspack and Romolus, witness a stunning performance by Phoenix Fireproject and laugh ourselves silly because of Forzarello (two amazing Jugglers).

The main event this evening was not a concert per se but a Dance Event led by Knud Seckel and accompanied by the Tom Bombadil Folkband. At the beginning there were so many people participating in the dances that there was barely enough place. Dancing the Polka was especially tricky, trying to avoid colliding with other couples dashing over the dance floor :). Still it was great fun and stopped way too early.

Last but not least were two stunning fire shows which brought another fantastic day to a breath-taking close.

All the pictures of this day.

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Green Belt in Java!

Just in: I achieved the Green Belt in Java!

JavaBlackBelt is a free Certification Community where every user can take exams on different topics and earn experience points. The only pre-condition to taking exams are contributions such as authoring or moderating existing questions.

Go and have a look, I'll be listed on the homepage within the next 24 hours :)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Middle Earth Festival (MEF) 7: Day 1

The day after our climb over the Caradhras pass dawned bleak and cold. It was still snowing outside our hut. By taking the Gondola down to Leukerbad we could at least leave the snow behind, however we were greeted by slight rain. A trip to the Burgerbad revived our senses and we were ready to tackle three days full of Middle Earth.

The Middle Earth Festival is mainly dedicated to Tolkien's books, yet also offers a lot of opportunities for fans of medieval times. There were dozens of workshops ranging from Archery over Dancing to Excursions. Additionally there was a small medieval market as well as several musicians around to create a fitting atmosphere. And once again the icing on the cake were the visitors, most dressed in medieval or fantasy garb and as always extremely friendly and happy.

My first workshop was a play of Jugger. That's a kind of Rugby played by two teams at six players each. Five of the players were armed with latex weapons with which the opposing players could be "frozen" for five seconds. The sixth player was unarmed and the only one allowed to touch the ball. His task was to drop the ball in the opponents goal. Our team was called "Böö" (Swiss German for "er"). Apart from having a huge amount of fun, we even managed to win the tournament!

Next up was my first medieval dancing workshop of this year and it was huge fun. The advantage of medieval dances is that (more often than not) the steps are quite simple and thus easy to learn and dance. So we managed to try out several different dances within this two-hour slot :).

At night it was finally time for the first concert. Die Streuner played a great selection of sometimes funny and sometimes saucy songs.

Finally our attention was caught by the birth of a dragon!

All the pictures of the first day.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

The Caradhras Adventure

To get into the right mood for this year's Middle Earth Festival (MEF) about fifty brave souls clad in medieval or fantasy clothes met to climb the Caradhras pass. We started from a gondola station close to Goppenstein. The weather was overcast and quite fresh, however, this didn't stop us. Soon after leaving we encountered the first snow flakes. Fortunately they didn't last long.

At the first resting point we were greeted by blue sky and the sun. So we dutifully applied sunscreen to prevent sunburns. Maybe we should have known better than to scorn Saruman and Petrus... And so they decided to send out everything they got. The first warnings of what was to come arrived about thirty minutes later with the first snow flakes. This time, however, it did not stop, on the contrary, more snow started to fall and a piercing wind accompanied it. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise when we faced a snow-covered way. Only the footprints of the leading group showing us the right way... At times we were facing up to 20 centimeters of snow and sometimes we preferred to walk up the riverbed, which wasn't empty by the way, instead of in the snow.

After a pretty long and difficult climb we caught up with the leading group. They had stopped next to a big rock because they could no longer fathom where the way was supposed to lead! It looked like Saruman would triumph and we would have to turn back! But then help came from an unexpected side, a group of hikers descended from the mountain and they could point us in the right direction. And even better, we could follow their footsteps almost all the way up to the pass.

The weather there wasn't any better. Heavy snowfall, a biting wind and temperatures around zero degrees centigrade. Nevertheless we stopped there for almost twenty minutes to wait for more people. Yet not everyone was content with waiting in such an exposed spot where Saruman could spot us easily and send even bigger foes than the weather. And so a brave fellowship consisting of thirteen people started the descent from the mountain.

The shelter we hoped to find on the way did not turn up, but we did see improvements, for there was less snow on the way than before. We could even see a couple of flowers which weren't completely covered in snow.

After another tiresome two hours of walking we came to a crossing where our destination wasn't marked, still it had to be close-by, we were sure of that. After deliberating for a while the fog started to lift a bit and we could see a big house on top of the next hill. Guessing that this had to be our destination, or at least a place where we could get directions, we started walking again.

To our great relief, we discovered that we did guess correctly and that we finally reached our destination. We were welcomed with warm tea which we drank gratefully. It took almost another hour until the last people arrived. But we all made it in one piece. We managed the thing that the Fellowship of the Ring could not, we bested Mount Caradhras!

Pictures from this adventure

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