Wednesday, 25 April 2012


HK got tickets to the first session of the day screening of the Avengers at Event Cinemas.  I had high expectations, and for once, I was not disappointed!


I was worried that it would be like an Ironman 3, but I think every hero got enough air-time!  I have been following each trailer and I don't think any of them gave away too much of the movie, which meant that we were still pleasantly surprised with the way things turned out.

The cube (called the Tesseract) is not only a source of unlimited energy, but it opens gateways between worlds.  You see it in Captain America - it powered all of HYDRA's weapons and it was found by Howard Stark when they tried to retrieve Captain America after WWII.  You also see the cube at the end of Thor, after the credits, when Nick Fury asks Dr Eric Selvig to start research into it.  Avengers starts when Loki is sent back by an powerful alien race to retrieve the Tesseract and open the gateway between the two worlds so the Earth can be conquered.

The Tesseract is acting strangely and it turns out all those power fluctations it was having was that it was teleporting Loki to Earth.  He wielded a staff which was forged with power from the Tesseract, which also allowed him to mind control Selvig and Hawkeye.  S.H.I.E.L.D base gets decimated from an explosion from the unstable portal that the Tesseract was trying to open.  So Loki takes his scientist and Hawkeye and goes off to try to construct the portal.

Black Widow was being "interrogated" and she looked like she was at some Russian crime boss's mercy.  A phone call comes to one the crime boss's henchmen - the call is for her.  "I'm working," she says to Coleson.  And then with a sigh she fights them, Romanov style from her tied up position in the chair.  Stark was busy with his new tower and having romantic times with Pepper.  Captain America was still coming to terms with being a "Capsicle" for 70 years.  Natasha was sent to bring in Bruce Banner.  While everyone was looking for the cube and Loki, Loki popped up in Germany and the heroes go out to grab him.

Cap and Widow go to get Loki, and Ironman swoops in and they manage to subdue Loki and capture him.  It seemed all too easy... like he wanted to be captured.  Then as they were transporting Loki back, Thor appeared and snatched Loki.  Ironman and Thor go after him and there was some muscle and ego flexing and battling.  It was COOL.

A good play by the director, we got to see what we always like to see in a comic book to movie adaptation - hero vs hero battles.  There was more of that later.  Anyway, back on the big flying cruiser.  Loki's captured, and the two brainiacs, Stark and Banner put their heads together to track gamma radiation, but they realise that S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't telling them everything.  While the two of them try to hack into the S.H.I.E.L.D database, Cap takes a more direct route and goes into storage and finds all the weapons of mass destruction that were being made to battle against super hero types such as Thor and Hulk and other unknown alien forces.  Natasha goes to question Loki about his plans and figures out that he is trying to get Banner to turn into the Hulk so that the ship can be destroyed from the inside.  The heroes confront Fury and starts a round of bickering - all via Thor's influence.  More ego flexing.  Then Hawkeye blows up one engine and they are all shaken from their disagreement to a common purpose - save the flying boat!

The Hulk emerges and smashes up the ship.  Loki escapes and ejects Thor from the ship in the cell made to imprison him and the Hulk.  The ship freighter takes heavy damage - but they are saved in the nick of time.  And Coleson, is killed by Loki - sad because he never got Cap to sign his collection of Captain America cards.  The Hulk leaps out to attack a jet that was trying to lure him from the base ship.  Fury uses Coleson's cards and hero ideology to goad the heroes to band together and save the world.  And it turns out a good smack on the head is all that's needed to break Hawkeye out of his mind control.  He and Natasha seem to have a bit of a "thing."

It's looking pretty bleak.  The portal device is set up on the top of the new Stark building and activated.... and the aliens start invading.  There's hundreds... versus Thor, Cap, Widow and Hawkeye and Ironman.  They decide it's time to start playing as a team.  Captain America assumes leader without too much quibble and directs Thor and Ironman to the skies, Hawkeye to be their eyes and he and Black Widow to be on the ground and try to save the civilians.

They seem to be holding back the invaders but they just keep coming... And Banner arrives, in his human form.  And he switched into Hulk, and had SOME semblence of control over himself and went to take out the bigger ships, the size of blue whales.  Natasha decides to jump onto a flyer to take the flight to the sky, and heads up to Stark tower.  There, she finds Selvig, who had hit his head and now is free from mind control, and tells her the only way to disable the portal is to use Loki's staff.  Loki was flying around on a flyer, but wa thrown off by an exploding arrow from Hawkeye and landed at Stark Tower, and met the Hulk.  In what was the funniest scene in the movie, Loki is sneering at the Hulk about how insignificant he is compared to a king and God, and the Hulk picks him up like a rag doll and flings him back and forth on the floor multiple times.  Oh I was killing myself laughing!

But by now, the governing council behind S.H.I.E.L.D. has decided that this disaster will not be averted by our heroes, but by a nuclear strike, and send a missile to Manhatten.  Ironman intercepts it as Natasha is about to disable the device, and she stays her hand long enough for Stark to direct the missile through the portal to the big mother ship and blow it to smithereens.

Stark, stunned and unconscious, falls back through the collapsing vortex, and is snatched by Hulk who puts him on the ground, and his comrades contemplate his fallen body.  The Hulk screams at him and he wakes up, asking if anyone kissed him... LOL.

And so, the Earth was saved.  The Avengers go into hiding.  The government calls them criminals.  The world calls them heroes.

The movie was FANTASTIC.  It was full of wit and humour and action and well orchestrated fight scenes and believable CGI.  I would watch this movie again right now if I could - maybe another 5 times!  And boy I can't wait till it comes out on Bluray :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Eric Harshbarger's latest creation

Eric the Lego man is at it again!  He was the guy who made my Lego Mona Lisa and now he's made a lego model GE Anaesthetic Machine!  Read about it on his blog here.

London Day 8 - Greenwich

Last day!  Took a trip to Greenwich to check out Longitude 0 at the Royal Observatory and see the  Royal Naval College.

Yes I know I should have worn better shoes for this pic, but it was pretty cool to stand on either side of the Prime Meridian!

What was exciting to me was to see the Harrison's 4 generations of Longitude instruments.  Harrison won the competition about how to accurately measure longitude and the 4th generation looks like a pocket watch.  I didn't have pictures of H3 and H4 because they didn't turn out well because of lighting and reflections.  If you are interested in reading the history of Longitude, you can read the book (which I have at home, which made seeing these even more interesting).

The original competition in 1713
Harrison's first generation - H1 (the winning entry)
 H2 - Harrison kept trying to improve his instrument

The Painted Chapel in the Old Naval College was beautifully painted.  I had no idea a Naval College needed such grand interiors.  The Naval College was another Christopher Wren designed project, and one of the most complex.

Then on to Greenwich Market, which was a great market, full of food, arts and crafts.  Munched away on Chorizo Sausage sandwiches, Churros, Paella and fudge.  Very healthy!! :P  Had a portrait done by a graffiti artist, as a gift from my brother in law and sister.

And so concluded my London trip.  I was glad that I managed to see a few Unesco World Heritage listed sites in my travels:

Saturday, 7 April 2012

London Day 7 - Kew Gardens

2 days left!  I thought since it was a nice day, I'd take a trip down to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew.  This Botanical garden is home to more than 30,000 living specimens and has the largest live collection in the world.

I was more differnt bird species in those few hours than I had seen all week!  Though when you're in the city, not many birds you can see, I suppose.



And there are some amazing tree specimens there, like the Monkey Puzzle Tree, which is related to the Bunya Pine in Australia!  I wonder what its nuts would have looked like.

The Japanese part was nice, with the Pagoda and small shelter.

And how could I resist taking pictures of flowers in the Botanical Gardens?  Unfortunately there were no roses or azaleas in blossom, but there were lots of daffodils and rhododendrons, amongst others.


Then we wandered around the city and I took a few pictures of some of the many churches around the city.  I can see how you can get "churched" out in this place - there are 100 churches in the city alone.

I wanted to see Temple Church because it was in the book (and the movie) The Da Vinci Code.  This is the church of the Knight's Templar.  We couldn't go in because it was Good Friday and the church was not open to tourists, but I would have liked to see the effigies of the marble knights inside.

St Bride's is on Fleet Street, and thus was the church of journalists.  It was another Christopher Wren designed church (rebuilt after WWII) and is the second tallest church in London (behind St Paul's of course).  The steeple had been used as inspiration for wedding cakes.

St Stephen Walbrook church was another church rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire in 1666.

We went out dinner at Hawksmoor, a popular steak joint in London.  The back of the menu had some interesting facts!

We ordered 1.2kg Bone in Prime Rib and sides of Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes and Beef Dripping Chips, and polished up our meal with Honeycomb Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse.  Yum!!!!


London Day 6 - Food and Theatre

Today it was shopping day in Mayfair because we were having lunch at another fancy restaurant.  But first we did some shopping.  The best find of the day was coming across Sotheran's in Sackville street.

There were some Gould lithographs in the window so I made my sister go in and we spent an hour poring over the Gould prints - well, it was more like I pored over them and she watched.  Now THAT would have been my ideal souvenir to take home from London!  So I bought more clothes, another bag, nearly bought a print, and then my sister and I headed to Claridges for our lunch at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges.

The interior is very art deco.  There were a lot of choices on the menu, and we decided to go with the lunch tasting menu.

Cute looking bread, there were 3 types to choose from.


Kingfish cerviche

Pressed Foie gras, comfit of rabbit and smoked duck 

Braised Beef Featherblade

   Bream fillet

Sorbet refresher

Chocolate sphere with honeycomb - you pour the hot milk chocolate sauce on it and the sphere melts to reveal the inside. LOOKS so awesome!!


We managed to score last minute tickets to War Horse, and I was so excited to go!  I was hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed (like I was with the Yorkshire Pudding at Trinity) and I really enjoyed it, and I nearly cried.  The puppetry is amazing, as I was told it would be.  Those Handspring Puppets were amazing.  It made the movement so much more real!