Archive for September, 2009

On Buttons, Last Chances and Barcelona

200px-Benjamin_Button_poster[1]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

“That’s sad,” said my 11-year old boy after we watched the 167 minute-long movie. I was surprised that he sat through the whole thing. My two older boys joined us only after the first few minutes. It’s a good family rated-PG movie. I enjoyed watching it with the boys, lots of life lessons to learn from.

Benjamin narrated at the beginning:

My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was agin’, I was gettin’ younger… all alone.

The key word there is alone. I guess anybody has experienced that feeling of being alone at least a few times in their life. It’s not a good feeling. Although the movie has a sad ending, there are a few funny parts in between. The boys like especially when Mr. Daws would tell Benjamin, “Did I ever tell you I’ve been struck by lightning seven times?” And there would be a clip of how he was struck by lightning.

It was pretty cool to watch the earlier parts of the film when Brad Pitts’ character was old. We are so used to CGI Images now, how they make actors look older. Make-up artists do a pretty good job, too. But what I found amazing is how they made Pitt look like a young 23-year old. I don’t know, somehow, I find it freaky. Not the way he looked, but just knowing that he doesn’t really look like that now. It’s like they took that image from one of his older movies.

last chance harvey

Last Chance Harvey

It’s a charming love story, not the mushy kind. It’s about two older people having a late chance at love. Harvey is a divorced American who went to London to attend his daughter’s wedding. Kate works at the Heathrow airport. When they first met, he was rude to her. But on their second meeting, they warmed up to each other. They spent the next few days together and their quick friendship might lead to a possible romance. I was touched by Harvey’s speech at his daughter’s wedding. I can relate to what he said about how it must have been tough for his daughter to come from a broken home. It was a very moving speech.

Vicky cristina barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

This movie reminded me of Closer, but only this one is lighter. And unlike Closer, this one is not really about the lies. Relationships and emotions already tend to be complicated so why do people still get involved with people who are already involved with somebody else? In this movie, two women friends who have different views on love fall for the same guy. Vicky has a more conservative approach to love. She looks for a realistic and stable relationship. On the other hand, Cristina is willing to risk her feelings to find passion.

I find the narration weird. It sounded like the narrator is reading from a book, without any feelings at all. So unlike the narration from Desperate Housewives. Although Mary Alice doesn’t seem to tell the story with feelings either, there are changes in her intonation. But then again, Woody Allen must have intended for the narrator of this movie to tell the story like that.

I’m also wondering why the actress who played Vicky (Rebecca Hall) didn’t get, I think, a fair billing. After all the title is Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and the story is about Vicky and Cristina in Barcelona. If you see the billing, you’d think that it was Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson who play the title characters.

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September 20, 2009 at 11:25 pm 2 comments

The what system?

speed limit

I saw a lot of the speed limit signs on the highway on my recent trip to Minnesota. I knew that the U.S. doesn’t use the Metric system, as we do here in Canada. But when I first saw the “Speed Limit 55” signs, I had to take a second look. I’m so used to seeing 100 or 120 on the speed limit signs on the highways here in Canada. It took my little brain a couple of seconds to realize that of course, it has to be 55 mph and not 55 kph. When I told Uncle Sparkie about this, I added, “That’s why it took us so long to get here in Minnesota.” And we both had a laugh. 🙂 Well, if you’ve read my previous post, the road trip I took with my mother took a while longer than expected because there was a problem at the U.S./Canada Border with one of the bus passengers.

Then I asked Uncle, “If we use the Metric system in Canada, what do you call your system of measurement here in America?” I remember studying about this in school but I forgot what it’s called.

Uncle answered, “I don’t know, the American system?”

And we both laughed again. 🙂

I don’t remember it being called the American system. I knew it has to be like a standard system, or something close to that.

And of course, I had to know. When I got back home, I googled it. I found out on Wikipedia that it is now called the U.S. customary unit or the American system. So Uncle was right. But this must be something new. I don’t remember it being called like that when I was still in school. And back home in the Philippines, when I was still studying, we also used inches and pounds, instead of centimetres and kilograms. And we had to learn how to convert inches and pounds and miles to the metric units.

Upon further googling, I found this website where it calls it the Standard System of Measurement. So I guess I’m also right.

September 20, 2009 at 2:40 pm 2 comments

Lake Superior and Gooseberry Falls

After Duluth, our next destination was Two Harbors. At first I thought that we were going to two different harbors. But not. Two Harbors is the name of a city in Minnesota. We took the scenic route and we drove along the shore of Lake Superior and I thought that was cool. There I was looking at Lake Superior. I felt bad that the boys were missing this.

Once there, we went to this place, I forgot to ask Uncle what it’s called. It has a hike trail and also a pier and a lighthouse. And we were standing right in front of Lake Superior, the largest of the Five Great Lakes.

a heap of iron ore pellets

That brownish mound there beside the ship is a heap of iron ore pellets, which Uncle said is used to make steel. And doesn’t that ship remind you of the Presque Isle in Duluth?

You can view my Two Harbors album here.

Next we went to Gooseberry Falls. It’s just a short drive from Two Harbors. We continued driving on the highway and we still had a nice view of Lake Superior.

Gooseberry Falls is a state park and it has three waterfalls, The Lower, Middle and Upper Falls. It’s just too bad that the waterfalls have sort of dried up a bit. There was a poster of what it used to look like, when there was more water. It was gorgeous. And Uncle also said that it looks really neat when the water is frozen in the winter. There are hiking trails at the park and there are steps like these so you could make your way to the three different levels of the falls. There are also camping sites in the park, but we didn’t go there to go camping.

Lower Falls

Middle Falls

Upper Falls

After visiting the three falls and noticing that the two grandmas were getting tired, 🙂 we decided to head back home. But first, Uncle brought us to the Black Bear Casino to have supper. And maybe, he said, he’d give me a bit of bad influence – gambling in the casino. 🙂 We first went to the buffet. And lucky for us, Thursday is seafood buffet. We filled our plates with all kinds of seafood including shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster, etc. Yum yum!

After supper, both Uncle and Auntie went to the slot machines. Mama and I just watched Auntie and when we lost her as she looked for her favourite slot machine, Mama sat down in one of the slot machines and won about 20 bucks. But we didn’t really enjoy playing and we were bothered by the smoking, so we just waited in the lounge area. And when Uncle and Auntie were done playing, we headed back to their place. We retired early since we had to get up at three the next morning when we had to go back to Winnipeg.

I know I’ve mentioned a few times how I missed the kids and wished they were with me on this trip. But I had a really good time. I was the kid in this trip. I was with my mother, aunt and uncle. And there were times I felt like a kid. I sometimes caught myself skipping and hopping 🙂 as we went to these places that we visited. But I also remembered that when you are the kid and you are with adults, there are constant reminders. Don’t touch this and don’t touch that. Don’t go there and don’t do that. But I am an adult now, and I know what I’m doing, right? 🙂 Why wouldn’t I watch my steps and take extra care while I shoot those pictures at the water falls, right? Well, anyway, it has been really nice to get away. Looking now at my pictures, I don’t think that I would have posed like that or smiled like that with TH around. So it was really nice to have a break. It was a great stress reliever.

You can view my Gooseberry Falls album here.

September 13, 2009 at 12:01 am 2 comments

To see or not two zee

eye chart

My 11-year old son and I went to see the optometrist together a few weeks ago. He was due for his annual exam and I haven’t had an exam in like four to five years. I have been accompanying my kids to these exams since my oldest one was eight, and he’s 19 now. So that has been a long time now. And I already know the drill. The doctor will ask them to read the letters on the eye chart. And then he or she will ask them to look through this instrument that has different sets of lenses to determine the prescription strength.

On this particular visit with my 11-year old son, I let him go first. When he was finished, Dr. Opto asked me to get on the chair. She asked me to read the letters on the wall. At first the letters were big and I had no trouble reading them. As she changed the slides, the letters got smaller and it took me longer to read them. Then she made me look through the different sets of lenses and when I told her which ones gave me the best vision, she wrote down my prescription.

As we were walking out of the room to follow Dr. Opto to the lobby, my son whispered to me, “Mommy, she said letter, not number.”

“I know. Why? What did I say?” I asked him.

“You said two. It was the letter Z.”

“Yeah, I realized that after I read it. Well, it looked like a two to me when I was reading it.”

“Oh, mommy,” he said shaking his head.

🙂

September 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm 2 comments