LISTED Film Previews – January/February ’10

Another month, and another set of Film Previews for you guys out there! Hopefully these ones will be pretty popular ones to go and see, especially since its around that time that all the Oscar Nominees are getting released. Anyway, here are some easy ways to beat boredom in the coming couple of months:

NINJA ASSASSIN (15) (Dir. James McTeigue)

Already causing quite the storm in America (mostly due to the cult Japanese superstar Rain playing the main role of super-assassin Raizo), this film is not only directed by the same guy as V For Vendetta , but has also been partly written by comic book writer/legend J. Michael Straczynski! A young ninja, born and raised to be the most deadly weapon alive, turns his back on the orphanage and clan that trained him, sparking off confrontations with fellow ninjas and the leaders of the clan. Ninja Assassin is already gathering a crowd due to its huge amount of stunts and gore, so if you’re expecting a deep, emotionally driven storyline this might not be the film for you. However, if you want plenty of kick-assery, then this could be your ultimate fantasy come true! Released 8th January.

THE ROAD (15) (Dir. John Hillcoat)

Starring a rather hairy-looking Viggo Mortensen, this film see’s his nameless character and his son walking for months and trying to survive by any means possible in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by an unexplained cataclysm, in search of any kind of civilisation. Whilst this may sound like a very dull basis for a film now (thanks, in part, to 2012…), this Cormac McCarthy adaptation is setting out to be as dark as possible, and explore the depths that the human race will go to in order to survive. Also, there could possibly be an Oscar-Nomination in Viggo’s performance… Released 8th January.

THE LOVELY BONES (12A) (Dir. Peter Jackson)

Winning combination, here – award-winning director Peter Jackson doing an adaptation of one of the most popular books of recent years (that ISN’T Twilight, that is!), and ending up with a film that (from the trailer) looks to be both emotionally moving and visually stunning as well. The story itself (for those that don’t know) centres around a young girl, Susie Salmon, who has been murdered and watches over both her family and her murderer from Heaven, whilst choosing between her wanting vengeance or wanting her family to move on and heal themselves. Between the visuals, direction and script, this could easily clean up at the Oscars, so make sure you get to see it. And bring the tissues… Released 29th January.

INVICTUS (12A) (Dir. Clint Eastwood)

This is Clint Eastwood’s 5th film in as many years, thus making many other directors look terribly unproductive in comparison! After the success of Gran Torino last year, Invictus is Clint Eastwood taking a look at life for Nelson Mandella (Morgan Freeman) after the fall of apartheid in South Africa during his first term as president, when he campaigned for South Africa to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in an attempt to unite his countrymen. Also starring Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, Invictus looks like it might well be another contender for some Oscar wins, so it will be tight between those that get nominated! Released 5th February.

As Publish in Listed Issue 24 and on www.listedmagazine.com

Avatar (Contains Spoilers)

Or, should that rightly be “James Cameron’s Avatar”? I’m not sure. Personally, if I were him, I’d stick my name all over this as well! James Cameron, throughout his career and within the film-making community, is widely regarded as someone who with each film he makes, pushes the boundaries of what is capable with cinema effects that little bit more. Terminator and Terminator 2, Aliens, Titanic – all are just a few examples of how his name has now become synonymous with creating ground-breaking effects in films. Avatar, it would seem, is less so much pushing the boundaries, but more giving them a great big kick square in the ass over the edge of a cliff!

When going to see Avatar (or James Cameron’s… ok, just Avatar for now!) it’s best to bear in mind that this film has been made using the most ground-breaking, cutting-edge technology that you can possibly get right now (so that’s where all that extra Oscar revenue from Titanic went?) and should therefore be viewed in the best possible quality. That’s why it was made, that’s how it’s intended to be viewed, and that’s the best way to experience it. 2D might not quite cut it in places unless it’s in the best digital possible, 3D will be explained in this review, and IMAX (I’m gonna guess here) would possibly make you open your eyes so wide they’d fall out of their sockets. Avatar was filmed with the intention of it being screened in Digital, 3D or better (IMAX, then) and they used filming equipment and CGI that would make all of this possible. The whole film is about 50/50 between digital effects and actual actors and sets. Right from the opening, you can tell that this will be visually amazing. Or, at least, that is what I’d hoped…

I would like to say, right at this point, that I am in NO WAY disappointed with the visuals of the actual film. Not at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to agree with the presses and film reviews that yes, this is in fact the most stunningly visual film I have seen lately, and does in fact push the boundaries of modern film viewing to new heights. Yes, yes, this is all true, and we’ve all heard it by now. No, my main qualm is this – whether it was just this particular cinema or not, I don’t know, but the 3D glasses you get seem to have a tint to them. Almost like they’re semi-sunglasses. I assume that this is what they use in the lens to make it (duh) 3D – but what this also means is that it dulls the brightness of the screen that little bit more. This really disappointed me, as I went to see this film to be blown away by the brightness and vividness of the scenery and the world of Pandora that James Cameron has created. Unfortunately, I had to partly sacrifice this for seeing the whole thing brought to me in 3D. Now, in hindsight, this might not be so bad – seeing it in 3D does make essential differences to the viewing that you would not otherwise get. But part of me couldn’t help wondering if they could have compensated for this by making the 3D version that much brighter on the screen?

3D visuals or not, this does not detract any more from the story itself. James Cameron has actually said that Avatar is his own personal “environmental” film, and they do not in ANY way shy away from that in the storyline. Certain reviewers have said that at points towards the end, Avatar gets a bit touchy-feely, a bit cliché, even a bit “tree-huggy”. Whilst this is true to a certain extent – there are distinct parallels between Avatar and other environmental statements such as Fern Gully or even Pocahontas if you want to go that far – it is easy to see how it COULD be hugely more cliché and soppy in the last hour or so. They’ve clearly been able to take a step back during making this and dial down the Hollywood Fodder in the scriptwriting process, and decided that actually people don’t need this rammed down their throats. As such, for me personally it was only bordering on getting crappily cliché.

I’m sure many people by now know exactly what Avatar is about, but let’s recap in brief anyway – Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic ex-marine who gets enrolled in the Avatar programme on the planet Pandora which is inhabited by the Na’Vi race who are 10 foot tall blue humanoids who live in the forests. Sully gets an Avatar of a Na’Vi which responds to his brainwaves and he controls, and is sent to live with the Na’Vi and learn all about them. (It should be mentioned at this point that Sigourney Weaver plays her part very well also, and you grow to like her character throughout the duration of the film.) The Marines want to be typically human and blitz the place and mine the shit out of it for expensive materials, and Sully ends up siding with the Na’Vi after seeing all the wonderful things they can do and connect with in their world, and after losing the trust of the people then goes on to become a great tribal warrior whom they all now see as a great leader. Massive fights ensue, Sully and one of the local girls fall in love, then out of love, then in love again (que violins…) and ultimately Good triumphs over Selfishness once again. Cliche? Perhaps in theory, but when watching it, you’re not really thinking of the overall concept. Instead your focussing on the minor details. Like the parallel being drawn between the Settlers and the Natives in America, or the Deforestation of the Amazon. Or how the script comes worryingly close to being very cliché, but manages to disguise it just enough to avoid groaning at the screen. Or how cool that shot of a Ten Foot Tall Blue Dude jumping onto a massive flying creature looked…

Essentially, if you’re going to watch Avatar you should be a bit prepared for certain things. Firstly, it is a long film, clocking in at about 2 hours 30 minutes. Not THAT long compared to certain other effects-driven blockbusters (Thanks, Lord of the Rings!), and it doesn’t really drop into being slow at any point because you’re still fixated on how amazing the whole thing looks, but you should not expect a short film in any case. Secondly, the message of environmentalism will NOT be discreet. It will, in fact, be very prominent, but not to the point of rubbing it in the audiences faces. Much. BUT, that’s the whole point behind Avatar – it’s mixing action with a vital purpose, really. Thirdly, it does get a bit spiritual – the “connection” that the Na’Vi have to all the life (sometimes a literal connection, with their ponytails connecting to the creatures they ride in a slightly creepy way…) on Pandora gets a bit spiritual at points, but again, this is just one more metaphor that they draw. Fourthly, the violence is relentless at points. The Marines bomb the living shit out of the Na’Vi homeland and don’t blink an eye. People die. A lot. So, unless you’re ready to explain to your five-year-old about casualties of war when they were expecting a film about big blue hippies, you may want to prepare. But again, strangely, this is actually something I liked – it doesn’t hold back. It’s harsh, yes, but at least it’s truthful and real. It doesn’t sugar-coat anything at these points, and that’s an actual eye-opener. Good on you, Cameron…

And lastly, YES, those big mechanical things the Marines use to blitz the living crap out of things? Those ARE, basically, the Powerloaders from Aliens! Stop pointing that out, people! James Cameron came up with those, he can use them as much as he likes!

Anyway, regardless of the fact that I’ll probably have to see it again (but IMAX next time!) so that I can appreciate the visuals and details that little bit more, Avatar was a hugely entertaining film that did in fact amaze me visually. The story perhaps could have run ever-so slightly deeper, and strayed ever-so slightly further away from the cliche-border, but as it stands they did a good job of getting the message out there and mixing it with the action sequences just right as well. I’d probably have to give (James Cameron’s…) Avatar about a 7 out of 10, but that could be likely to change once I get to see it again without the colours being dulled by 3D glasses!

They’ve built WHAT now?!

I have JUST been told by a friend that a rumoured Harry Potter Theme Park is now in completion and will be opening in Spring 2010. I first heard about plans for this Theme Park a couple of years ago in the papers, along with artists renderings of what the final completed park would look like and what attractions it would have. But, after not hearing anymore about it (partly out of lack of interest for the most part in anything Harry Potter, and partly because I guess they were avoiding making it too much of common knowledge so that people will be more excited about it!) I assumed that plans for it had been scrapped for whatever reason they may have. In hindsight, this was probably a bit dense of me to think that they WOULDN’T do this – it’s the ultimate “raking-it-in” idea, really! But still, my friend has sent me a link to the promotional video for the Theme Parks opening. This link, I have also decided to post below, so thanks for the link Jamie!:

http://www.universalorlandoresort.com/harrypotter/first_look_uo.html

Now, first of all, I’ve noticed two majorly disappointing things – 1) WHY is it in America when it’s actually a British institution, set in Britain and has a British cast, and could potentially make even more money by setting up partnerships with airlines for all the people who would be travelling to come to it? and 2) How come it’s being put in Universal Studios Orlando (which, admittedly, is Theme Park Central and would definitely have the funding to undertake such a monstrous project) when the production company behind it are Warner Brothers, who are situated (perhaps more fittingly) in Los Angeles?

Whilst these might only be trivial things in the long run, there are many other things about this Theme Park to mention. I’d like to put in at this point that I’m NOT saying either way that this is a good idea or a bad one – completely unbiased as yet as I haven’t seen enough of it to make a full decision either way yet. BUT, I have seen enough from the video to know this much:

Firstly, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (as it is now called) is most definitely a HUGE corporate investment, much in the same way Disneyland is. This is basically Disneyland for teenagers who are “too cool” to go there anymore. Immediately, as you go through the entry gates, there is the “Main Street” of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is basically a mixture of the Hogsmead Village and Diagon Alley. So, in short, this is where all the money-making happens!! Hugely priced themed pubs, Sweet shops where the kids can get all sugared-up for the day, joke shops and souvenir shops where you can buy ANYthing that you can slap Harry’s bespectacled mug onto (que the introduction of the I Heart So-And-So T-shirts and Hermione’s range of perfume…) for whatever price they deem “reasonable”, all behind massively printed signs and bright lights to get the kids interested in just how much cash the Adults are carrying on them at the time… But, one thing I did think was cool, was the Wand Shop that you will be able to go to where you can supposedly get your own personal wand. This is that fine line between bringing in people’s wallets and bringing people into the magic of Harry Potter Land. Having your own personal wand for the day will make ALL the difference for certain people – crossing that line between consumerism and fantasy-brought-to-life.

The rest of the park looks to be pretty straight forward – rides and attractions and shows all based around the different features of Harry’s world. The Hippogriff rollercoaster, the Dragon fighting attraction, etc, all of which would clearly be backed-up by the highest of effects budgets considering just how much this franchise has now been able to rake in. Also, the Hogwarts Castle Adventure looks like it will be an all-encompassing, multi-sensory, fully immersing dive into the World of Wizards, where the guests will fully believe that they are part of this magnificent world that up until now they have only been able to read about or see on the screen thanks to Hollywood Effects and CGI. Or, at least, that’s the angle that they will be going for…

The promotional video obviously explains more about what the park will have, but it is set to open its gates in Spring 2010, so you can expect families with young kids or couples that are a bit too geeky for their own good to be booking their summer holiday to Orlando a lot this year, and expect to be paying for it for quite a while afterwards! It does beg the question as to whether the amount of expenses would be worth the memorable experience of it all – so it could either be the most magical Theme Park thought up, or a shine to ALL that is consumerism! But, I guess that will all be revealed once it has opened to the public, or once we see more of what The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer.

The Continuing Adventures of Myself – Part The Final

After not being at a computer since Friday night, I haven’t really had much of a chance to update this journal and give it a proper round off, mostly because of being busy with things immediately as I got home. I originally wanted to update this from the airport, but that turned out to be out of the window when by the time I decided to sit down and have a chance to write anything, they let us on to the plane! Anyway, this is the official round-off to the journal, after getting home, semi-unpacking and then re-packing again as I spontaneously decided to drive with a friend up to Bristol for a couple of days after only being back in the country for 24 hours. Adventurous? Very much so…

I mostly just wanted to put down how much California has taught me. It’s taught me that Creativity Generates Creativity, and that many things are possible if you’re willing to work for them hard enough and are determined enough to get to where you want to go. It’s shown me a new life, a different life, that is all too possible to live – whether that would ACTUALLY be in California or not, as much as I would want it to be. It has shown me many things that I am capable of doing, and just how much can be open for you when you look for it. It’s shown me a better attitude to living – one where you actually live! It’s the attitude that does things because you want to do them, because they’re fun and they make life worth talking about again (like driving up to Bristol to surprise a friend after only getting back to the country again the day before…). It’s taught me especially so that certain ways in which I see myself is not necessarily the same way that other people see me, and that I shouldn’t alway listen to the opinion that I have of myself.

I sincerely hope to eventually go back to Cali. The people, the vibe of the place, everything – it all makes for an experience that has bettered me personally, and has given me new directions and new ideas and focus for life, and I don’t think I can be thankful enough for that to all the people who I have come to know out there. It’s been an amazing experience that has had a huge effect on me, and I doubt I would trade any of the time I had out there for anything. And that’s really saying something, I think!

The Continuing Adventures of Myself – Part The Sixth

Monday 7th December: One good thing about growing up in England is that when visiting other countries, you gain a little perspective in certain areas. Food, yes, there’s more out here than there is at home. Lifestyle, again, is something very different to what we would deem normal. Attitudes towards the weather… oh yes. You see, today, for the first time in my 6 weeks of being here (and for the first time in months and months for the people that actually reside in this state), it rained. It not only rained – it is still raining. Not only is it still raining, but it will continue to do so for a little while. But what surprised me most is how it rains – it’s not just a drizzle out here, it’s fucking Biblical!! Admittedly, this is apparently how it has been in England for a while now, with warnings of floods et al, but even with that in mind, it’s still coming down kinda hard. But even so, the way people react to this kind of weather, you’d think the fucking Apocalypse was just around the corner! But it really does live up to the old addage of “when it rains, it pours”, so this is all new to me – the concept of it actually raining in California! Anyway, no time to finish the entry last night, but we went to the house of a friend of Leigh and Marguerite’s (the people who run the company I’m interning for, so I’m their intern) and had a great meal and sung some songs, because they’re music-oriented people which was really great. We also listened to this CD of this guy called David Sedaris, who was talking about different Christmas stories but about the Dutch one in particular. Apparently, in Dutch Christmas stories, St. Nick arrives on a Steamboat and then travels by horses etc, but part of the story is that there are no elves (Elves, apparently, are just a silly concept to have at Christmas…). Instead, he is accompanied by what is only ever referred to as “six to eight black men, who are in no way slaves but in fact work for St. Nick purely voluntarily”. This made us all laugh SO hard, as it’s only EVER “six to eight black men” – never an exact head count! Anyway, you learn something new every day. Back at work today, doing more work on projects before I go (not long now. Bad times.) and quite possibly head into Santa Monica in the evening later on! Packing things into my schedule this week – should be fun!!

Tuesday 8th December: I have just come out of the tail end of what could have been the most spontaneous, emotional and generally all round baffling 4 days I’ve been through since being here. I’ve only just now gotten back to the house where I’m staying, and thus back to where my clothes are. This is mostly due to me spending the weekend at Leigh and Marguerite’s (as has already been explained), but then spontaneously spending the night round my friend Mindy’s last night. I should explain at this point that when I eventually DID decide to stay at her house, I had had NO chances to go back to my place. Which meant I was STILL wearing the clothes I set out in on Saturday at noon. ALL of the same clothes – all down to the socks. Anyway, I decided to stay as I thought it might be fun since I was being taught how to play a game called Beer Pong. Those that don’t know of it, should look it up. Those that do, will know that it is one of the BEST games around! Considering I don’t drink, it was very kind of the people there to fill my cups with water instead, and for someone to drink my “beer” for me, but the game basically consists of two teams of two players taking turns to land ping-pong balls in cups of beer at the other end of a table. You are also allowed to throw the other person off their game, so most things go – insults, random noises, various acts of nudity, you name it. Anyway, we play this game for a while, and I end up staying round the night. I wake up the next morning and realise that I don’t actually have much in the way of getting to work… After attempting the normally reliable (when I actually know where to go to get one, and which one to get) bus, I vote for the taxi option. 5 weeks of being here by myself, and this is the first time I’ve resorted to a taxi. I’d say that’s pretty good going so far! Tonight was a bit strange, things got cancelled because Jennifer suddenly got really really sick. I haven’t heard back, but hopefully she isn’t too bad. It did mean that there were no plans for this evening, so I saw Mindy again instead (No Beer Pong this time, which is probably a good thing!). Right now, however, I am shattered. I had VERY little sleep last night, I’ve been in the same clothes (minus resorting to a shirt today which WAS meant to be a present for myself at Christmas. Oh well…) for 4 whole days now, and I’m going to sleep and I don’t care what you say about it. G’night!

Wednesday 9th December: One more thing that I’m seriously going to miss about being out here is the feeling of being around like-minded, creative individuals that have stories to tell. After a regular day of interning (which, even though it was a “regular” day, it’s still great being there!) we go to a Birthday party type thing for the wife of the guy who runs the Facility where this company is, and is also in a band with the person I’m working for. I know it sounds very convoluted and round-about, but I have met them before and they’re very nice people. So we turn up and we start singing Christmas songs – accompanied by Leigh on bass, this dude on guitar and someone else on piano. By this point, we effectively have a full band backing us up in our little Christmas song singing, and it was all really cool. Then these guys had a jam session, and were just playing anything, and it was great to just sit and see these guys be creative with their music and just mesh so well that they knew exactly the time to do what thing. It was really very cool. Anyway, we then went for Italian, I ate FAR too much Gnocchi and Tiramisu and nearly slipped into a carb-coma. Spontaneity has also gotten the better of me again tonight, and I’ve ended up at a friends house once again. But at least I’m not in the office tomorrow, so there’s no worries of waking up and having no idea where to go this time! Possibly a bit of a relaxing day for tomorrow, with a chance of packing and baking in the late afternoon. Still, beats rain I suppose….

Friday 11th December: No post for yesterday as the only time I get to stop and take some time to write it, the internet is down and I have no access! BAH! Anyway, it meant that I could get a head start on packing anyway. It’s strange, the lady who I’ve rented this room from is insanely good at packing  – when I arrived I’d had to squeeze everything into my suitcase. Now I’ve actually gained items, and she helps me pack, and I end up with space left over!! HOW did that happen?? I mean, I know I went through some stuff out here, but surely not that much… Anyway, yesterday was great, I had such a relaxing day just enjoying being where I am. Mindy and I went out and I FINALLY got to try In And Out Burger, which is a burger places thats almost exclusively Californian, and everyone from around here raves about it. It’s dirt cheap ($2 for a cheeseburger? Yes please!) and it’s actually way nicer than the kind of crap you get at McDonalds or something. So we went and ate our burgers on Venice Beach, and watched the sea for a while. It’s funny, even though this is LA and there is always so much happening you can always find somewhere truly peaceful and someone really nice to share that experience with. It definitely made for a memorable last free day. Also, she did make me Christmas Cookies as well, which are amazing! There’s so many of them too, so I’m saving some for the flight home. Unfortunately, the only thing we could find to put them in was a Victoria’s Secret bag – it’s bright pink, so it’s not discreet either. So now, I get to walk around with a bright pink bag which once contained her bra’s but now contains her cookies – Epic Win! In the evening, I went over to Lora and Hans’ since they’ve been so nice in looking after me sometimes when I’m out here and it’s also Hans’ Birthday on Monday, so I had to take something for him before I leave! My second Dutch meal of the week and second making of Nutella Bread and Butter pudding later, and I am genuinely pretty beat. BUT, a-ha, whats this? More ironing to do? No no, my friend, not ironing – Steaming! This is brilliant, and I kind of want one now. A Steamer is like an iron, but you don’t damage the clothes or get a sheen on the fibres or anything. Knocks creases out of shirts like a bitch! I’m totally getting one if I can find one that can do jeans better as well… Anyway, staying at Leigh and Marguerite’s tonight, and I have bits of research now, so the final bit to this will hopefully be posted later!

* * *

Someone brought waffles to the office!! Second breakfast? Don’t mind if I do! Anyway, I’m back in Burbank now, after watching a film double-feature and having an awesome dinner and then one last hit of Pumpkin Pie before having to leave that theory to the Americans again – such a shame. Anyway, the contacts are drying out and I am tired, but I wanted to finish this off before doing any of that. I mostly wanted to put down how much I’m going to miss this place and the people I’ve met and have come to know very well and all of the stuff that is out here. This will probably get finished tomorrow, in between finishing packing and preparing and whatever, but hopefully everything will go smoothly. OR, it won’t, and I get to stay for a few more days…? 

The Continuing Adventures of Myself – Part the Fifth

Monday 30th November: Not to drive anyone reading this blog currently living in somewhat colder conditions than myself at the present time insane with jealousy or anything, but this weather right now in California is FRICKIN’ HOT! I mean, I was walking on the street today, and I’m burning up just wearing a t-shirt and khakis. This is bloody November, and the weather back home is terrible! I felt a tad guilty enjoying all this amazing weather when everyone I know is currently suffering through cold weather, constant rain and continuous flooding – but then I remembered that I’m NOT there, and could therefore afford to enjoy the climate whilst I’m still here! Second to last week now – where the hell the time goes, I don’t know – and I finished one of the big projects I got put to work on today, so there was some excitement about that. Went straight over to Lora and Hans’ tonight as they were cooking and said I should come over – so I did! Evening got on, and I realised there was ironing calling me back home. Ah, ironing – the spoiler of all fun. Anyway, half done now, other half tomorrow sometime when I have the effort to finish it.

Tuesday 1st December: Pretty productive day today – started a new project which I’ve now managed to get fairly far into the start of, which occupied most of the day. Saw some friends today, Kevin and Renee, and they took me out for a nice meal on Main Street Santa Monica. I think I may just have a new addition to a favourite foods list – Sweet Potato Fries. Oh, my Lord, were they nice! So, yes, it was really great seeing them and talking about all the things that we’ve been up to over the last few weeks. Kevin has a friend who has been asked to write the Pilot episode for a TV Series adaptation of a pretty popular Graphic Novel series, I don’t think I can really say what it is, because it’s still in talks about whether it will get done, so if word got out about it beforehand, it could be bad! BUT, if you know me in person, and you REALLY have to know, then I might just whisper it to you if I think you can keep a secret!! However, the rest of you will have to hang tight until he tells me more about it, sorry! Anyway, needless to say, I’m very excited about hearing it. Back now, though, and the ironing mountain has been conquered and my flag firmly placed on the top. Early sleep, perhaps, to help sleep off all the sweet potato.

Wednesday 2nd December: Spontaneity truly does make for a more interesting life, doesn’t it? A long haul at work today, not finishing till just after 7 because all these things needed to get done (but I got my stuff for the day done anyway, so I’m not worried about that!), I was meant to see a friend today, but half way through the day she backed out. THEN, later on, she changes her mind again and takes me up on my original suggestion of being spontaneous and we decide to meet up and go ice skating in the outside rink in Santa Monica. Great, I think to myself, that will be fun and something interesting to do together. But oh crap, I suddenly think, I haven’t been ice skating in years – I’ll be all over the place, spending more time polishing the ice with my ass than actually skating! As it turns out, we were both able to keep upright very well, if perhaps being slightly shaky. I only managed to fall ONCE, and it was mostly because I was getting clever. So, there you go – you try to be clever and most often you end up on your ass! Anyway, it was a very fun night, made all the more fun by the fact it wasn’t really planned! MUST sleep soon, though, even though I’m not in the office tomorrow and have to work out a plan for the day.

Thursday 3rd December: Some of the true magic of LA struck me hard and fast this evening, and it just goes to show what being in the right place at the right time can get you! Not working in the office today, I head down to Santa Monica at the start of the afternoon to go to an internet ca to do some work. After I finish, I take some time out to have a little meander by myself down the Santa Monica Pier and then back along 3rd Street for a bit. After catching both of my buses home, I get off the bus and start walking up the road that leads me to the street I’m staying on. Now, on this street on one corner is a frozen yoghurt place (sort of like Pinkberry’s, but not the same) and I see a bunch of people outside taking pictures. “Must be some kind of event” I think. But then I realise that this IS LA, after all, and therefore could actually be anyone. So I take a look inside and see Taylor Swift and think “Huh, wow, thats pretty cool”, but then I look at the dude standing next to her and it’s fucking Taylor Lautner!! “Holy SHIT!” I actually say out loud, “and here’s me without my camera!” Anyway, he walks out and I just say hi to him and shake his hand, he smiles, says thanks and walks away, frozen yoghurt in one hand and Taylor Swift in the other. Genuinely nice dude, that he stopped to shake hands when all these other people were around! So, this evening, I can officially say that I shook hands with TAYLOR LAUTNER. How cool? Very fucking cool, thanks!! That’s the magic of LA – you never know who you could see at any time!

Friday 4th December: One more week drawing to a close, and the sad realisation that I will soon have to leave everything that I’ve experienced out here is starting to set in. The good part of this is that I’m now using every spare moment I have to fill with doing adventurous things in the hope that I can keep this kind of attitude going and not let it fade at all. It’s a wonderful feeling and attitude to have – the one that, when most people would ask “Why?”, says “Why not?”. And although I’m gradually becoming increasingly sad at the idea that I will have to leave, I know that I will always have my friends at home there waiting to welcome me back. That’s another nice feeling to have – the one of knowing people, wherever you go, and always having someone there watching out for you. Anyway, the proper journal entry du jour is one that basically consists of me getting through the work I’m meant to be doing today, and awaiting further instructions due to the main dude being constantly busy as hell! But it could be worse – he could have no work at all, and then you’d be left questioning if this is the guy you should really be working for. As it happens, I have no such worries! Stopped at the Westside Pavillion on the way back, with the thought of maybe getting some jeans and a t-shirt. Seen some, but I might go back and get them tomorrow. Right now, some kind people I know down the road are renting a movie, and have said that I should come and watch, so this is it for now. May be updating from Burbank tomorrow, we’ll have to see!

Sunday 6th December: No entry for yesterday, clearly. Thats mostly due to me getting caught up in staying round the house of the people I’m working for, and getting into a movie evening fully accompanied by massive home-made burgers (which were awesome!) and my making a bread and butter pudding using Nutella (which, again, wasn’t too bad…), and going around Hollywood in the daytime. It’s good, because I did actually want to go down the Hollywood Strip and see all the stuff down there agin before I left, but this being my last full weekend I wanted to spend it doing things with people. As it happens, I managed to do the best of both!! Also, we went around the Kodak Centre, Graumann’s Theatre and the Hollywood and Highland Centre and into a couple of shops, including the HUGE Hot Topic they have there. In hindsight, I probably should have gone to that one before I did yesterday, as theres a huge amount of stuff in there that I hadn’t seen before! But oh well, it was still a good afternoon, and some more decent pictures got taken. This afternoon, we’re going for a little music session somewhere, so that should be very cool, and I’ll probably put another entry later on about that if there’s time.