Adventure, baby!

Sydney Life

National Treasure Book Of Secrets

I loved the first National Treasure movie – rollicking good fun, I think I called it at the time. Clean fun with a happy ending. My perfect movie.

When the sequel opened this week, Alec and I were keen to go. We’ve seen so many movies lately with sad endings, I just needed something happy!

National Treasure lived up to its promises – action, flippant, superficial characters, codes needing to be broken, and a happy ending. Perfect!

I enjoyed the entire movie. Yes, it’s not the best movie ever. In fact, it’s got some pretty bad things about it – bad writing and characterisation, clues that require enormous leaps of assumption to get the answer, which of course Nicholas Cage’s character gets off the top of his head, and Nicholas Cage himself – he looks like he’s lost quite a lot of weight and has had some kind of plastic surgery or air brushing on his neck. Still, all of this doesn’t matter. I really really enjoyed the movie and will be getting it on DVD to watch again on rainy sad days.

The premise of the movie – I really should get to that. Nicholas Cage’s character (Ben Gates) is presented with evidence that suggests his great-great-grandfather was a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination. In order to clear his ancestor’s name, he has to find the treasure his great–great-grandfather was helping to conceal. To do this, Gates has to break into all kinds of famous places like Buckingham Palace, the White House and kidnap the President to get information out of the legendary Presidents’ Book of Secrets, which supposedly contains all of the secrets of the United States, like the truth behind the JFK assassination. Far fetched – yes, Did I care? No.

The movie borrowed heavily from several other movies that I love, like The Goonies, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Da Vinci Code. At least it did it well! Fine holiday fun.

Peace Harmony

I tried a new vegetarian Thai place for lunch today with some friends from work. It’s super close to the office, and is really cheap – it cost me $10 for a can of Sprite, spring roll and fried rice. The food was a bit oily, but it was really tasty. Anything deep fried is tasty!

My very tolerant friends.

My fried rice.

I don’t remember what it was, but Isis loved it.

Alice had this – I don’t remember what it was either, but it has crushed cashews on top.

Curry puff.

A great way to end work for the year! I’m looking forward to Christmas and a holiday.

Into The Wild – Spoiler Alert

Into The Wild is based on a book by Jon Krakauer, written about the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who, in the ’90s, gave all of his savings to charity and vanished. He trekked across America and into Alaska, where he lasted for about 100 days before dying of either poisoness berries or starvation, it’s unsure.

While the movie portrays Christopher as some kind of free-spirit on the search for wisdom, the facts of the story seem to indicate that he was more of a fool than tragic hero. He took nothing with him into the wilds of Alaska, such as a compass or map. He was rained in to the area he was camping in, and hence starved to death. However, there was a crossing only a few miles down the river. Oh, for Google maps!

What I did like about the movie was the documentary tone of it – very well directed by Sean Penn. He captured the young man’s will to be at one with nature and to be free from society’s trappings of wealth and expectations. It was a very poignant story too – Chris meets all kinds of people along his travels whose lives he effects in positive ways. Each of these people ask him not to go, and mourn his leaving, yet he seems to have no care to be around people, and dismisses their affection for him, choosing to be alone. He even says to one that you don’t need to have other people to enjoy life and experiences. However, during his three months solitary confinement in Alaska, he seems to get the wisdom that he is seeking. He acknowledges that he is lonely, ans his final act is to write in his journal that happiness is when shared. Pity it took dying alone in the wilderness to discover what most people instinctively just know.

The movie has some great wildlife scenes, and the lead role is acted very well by Emile Hirsch. His physical transformation alone for the role was quite remarkable, added to which his happy-go-lucky character who changes from a boy to a man throughout the movie, is a touching journey to watch.

Atonement

I read Atonement, by Ian McEwan, while I was in Europe. It’s an older book that is being made into a movie, but I hadn’t heard of it until recently. I hadn’t read any reviews so didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a delicate, sensitive book with divine storytelling and rich characters.

Atonement tells the story of Briony, who, as a child, tells a lie that ruins the life of Robbie, a family friend and her sister, and for which she spends the rest of her life atoning for.

It’s a simple story, told in three parts. The first part takes place in a few days and is concerned with the family home. It has a languid feel to it, highlighting the lazy days when the family had few worries. This all changes the night of Briony’s sin, and the pace really picks up in the second part of the book. The scene changes to several years in the future, and is set against the war. The tone changes completely, and there is action on all fronts, both literally in the front lines in the war and back in London where Briony has followed her sister Celia’s footsteps to become a nurse. The final part of the novel ends again even further in the future and sums up the story nicely – ending with Briony’s gaining of wisdom, and eternal feelings of regret for the life she has lived and those she had ruined.

Not a particularly cheery book, but so beautifully written. I can’t wait to see the movie!

Beowulf

I’ve been really lazy and haven’t posted about the movies and books I’ve seen and read lately. It’s so much easier to simply post pics of pizza.

Alec, Alec and I saw the 3D version of this retelling of the old Scandinavian folk tale. It was an interesting blend of animation and what I think were real people and scenery, but it was hard to tell. In some places the people in particular looked really fake, but then in others looked quite amazing – the monsters in particular.

It was a really grisly story – lots of blood thirsty hacking off of limbs and so on, tempered by a naked Angelina Jolie.

The 3D was pretty great, and really unobtrusive. It felt weird wearing the glasses, but technology has improved dramatically since the days of red and blue cellophane, and I didn’t even notice after a while.

Green Gourmet

I discovered this restaurant on Happy Cow, which has vege restaurants all around the world. Green Gourmet is actually vegan, and has all kinds of funny meat substitutes, and has “not chicken” and so on dishes. Very funny.


Everything was green, including the chopsticks.

The shop front. I risked life – literally – to get this silly pic. I was in the middle of dashing across the Pacific Highway and turned around to take it – in front of on-coming traffic.

Fried rice.

Veges (we got takeaway).

Alec’s noodles and tofu.

It was pretty good! We ordered WAY too much food, including chestnut sang choy bow, which was really great. We scoffed it before having a chance to take pictures…

Green Gourmet
http://www.greengourmet.com.au
538 Pacific Hwy
St Leonards, NSW 2065
(02) 9439 6533

Kayaking at Rose Bay

I spent Friday afternoon kayaking at Rose Bay with my team and an agency. It looks pretty grim in the pictures, but it was a really warm day and the water temp was beautiful.

We spend about an hour and a half kayaking across the bay and doing some races. I thought I would find it easy because of all of my climbing, but it used totally different muscles and I could feel the burn pretty quickly.

I had a really great time and really enjoyed it. It was quite amazing to be so close the the water and to look around and see so many beautiful things across the harbour, like all of the Sydney icons and beaches.

We paddled from here directly across. I don’t know how far it was, but it certainly FELT like a long way.

These are the little kayaks we used.

The harbour – grey but still beautiful.

Doodle for Google

Today was the big Doodle for Google day in Sydney – where all of the finalists were flown to Sydney and the winner was announced. It was great to see so many kids who were excelling in art and enjoying themselves, as well as being fun for us big kids too.

I meet Dennis Hwang, the original Google Doodler. He was kind enough to sign some doodles for me.

The finalists.

Dennis takes centre stage.

One of the doodles Dennis signed for me. It will be auctioned off to make money for charity.

Yaaaaay Doodle for Google day. 🙂

Green Thoughts

Is it possible to be vegetarian if you don’t like vegetables?

I’ve been dwindling further and further away from eating meat for the last year, and have just read a book called Committed by Dan Mathews, the VP of PETA, that has made me want to give up all meat.

The dilemma – I don’t like/can’t tolerate a lot of foods. And vegetables – I only like a handful of them. While I would love to be able to easily replace meat with alternatives, it’s a bit of a struggle to find things I can eat. I’m trying new foods to give myself a more balanced diet, and giving it my best shot, because I would be really proud if I could call myself a vegetarian.