Assassin’s Creed movie review: A hit or miss?

The Tuesday I have been waiting for arrived yesterday. We went to watch Assassin’s Creed, the movie adaptation of a popular video game series that blends science with historical fantasy themes.

It was our first time going to the theaters over here so we were pleasantly surprised to find no lines and that it was totally okay to buy your tickets 15 minutes before the movie began. The nice and sunny morning was destroyed by my awkward mumbling to the box office lady who asked me to repeat myself.

We went inside the building, gawked at how different it was from home, stared at the ridiculous popcorn prices, took a few pictures outside the auditorium and went in, ready to watch our first movie in what seemed like years. It felt strange that we got to choose our own seats and that it was so darned bright inside. Even the ads were sectioned into fun facts and then other movie trailers (and I swear there’s a sequel for Planet of the Apes every other year).

You don’t know how tempted I was to start my post with “As a fan of Assassin’s Creed for EIGHT years…” but I figured it would be too cheesy, too boring, too pompous. I have not played a video game in more than a year until last week, a shocking comparison to my high school days (video games, I love you), so you could say that I didn’t think too much about what the plot was going to be like and that I didn’t have many expectations.

This is the part where you look away if you hate spoilers!

As a non-gamer looking for some good entertainment over winter break, the movie was decent. As a gamer, the movie was mediocre at its best. There wasn’t enough action at all. The three times that the main character went into the Animus was all we got. And if you’ve never played the game, Assassin’s Creed is 90% historical and 10% modern day. The way important moments in history are intertwined with an entirely fictional storyline is part of what makes the game so rich and so compelling. And the movie was quite the opposite – 80% modern day, 20% historical.

There was far too much focus on the modern day story, which, I suppose, was used to appeal to a wider audience and not just those who have played the game. Some parts could have been shorter. It was obvious that the movie was only building and focusing on the main character, Cal, to set up a nice background for its movie sequels. The huge miss for me was that Aguilar, the assassin from 500 years ago, did not have a story of his own. The appeal of AC games lie, as I mentioned earlier, with the historical scenes and characters. We don’t care about the main character but we care about his ancestors.

With that said, I loved how dedicated Michael Fassbender was to this adaptation. In 2011 or something like that, I read he was attached to the project and was very surprised that he did not drop out all this while. I was glad because I thought he really looked similar to Desmond Miles (main guy in the modern day part of the games) and his acting was great in X-Men. He was successful in creating a great character out of Cal who seamlessly fit into the AC universe unlike new characters in movie adaptations of video games or comics who often seem out of place. I thought the other actors/actresses did a great job as well. Some part of me wished that they had kept the original modern day characters like Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca, but oh well.

I also did not expect the historical scenes to entirely be in Spanish. It certainly made it more realistic and interesting but there was something lacking about it. I figured it was because the characters didn’t have enough lines. It made everyone seem really stiff because there was less talking so the characters were either nodding or staring at each other with intense gazes.

The cinematography was messy. I thought the Prince of Persia movie did a better job at recreating the feel of the games. I could barely see the parkour because the scenes were cutting wildly from spurring horses to wide angles of mountains to dark silhouettes and blinding white lights. The eagle was iconic but there was no need to keep following it around because it made the panoramic shot of the city lose all its magic (it’s freaking magical in the game). Another appeal of the games (because I can’t help but compare) is the beauty of the historical cities. With the lack of exploration, there was nothing to appreciate about the dusty and poorly lit locations.

While the movie’s Animus didn’t make me cringe as much as I expected to, though there were cheesy sci-fi elements about flying around with metal arms and football field lights, it was extremely distracting to have the scenes cut from the past to the present just to capture Marion Cotillard’s wide-eyed look of anticipation. It made it more difficult to get immersed in the action that was happening in the historical timeline.

I’m glad they did not throw romance into the storyline. I thought Aguilar and that female assassin were going to have a scene together or something but it didn’t happen, thankfully. That would have racked up the cringe factor. I hope that they won’t in future sequels because that would turn it into another romance/action/sci-fi thing. What they should add is some wit and humor but just a little. Like, really little. Too much would take away its essence. In the game, Desmond Miles was a crappy character but his sarcasm made up for all that he was lacking. At the same time, I suppose the serious tone in the movie wasn’t all too bad either.

I enjoyed the soundtrack. I actually thought Jesper Kyd (musical genius who composed the soundtracks for the games; this might be a bit outdated since I only played until AC3) composed it because it sounded similar, but it wasn’t him. It was good though. The rock music at the beginning was also very AC-like because all the game trailers have really awesome non-mainstream songs that sound epic.

Overall, I would give this movie a 7/10. It was a hit AND a miss for me. Would I watch it again? Probably, because Fassbender’s sport shoes and sweatpants look is fab! Just kidding. I wouldn’t mind watching it again but not so soon. People actually clapped after the movie was over! I didn’t yawn or complain which tells me that I found it entertaining. It was nice to be reunited with in-game jargon and understand all the references. I would probably watch the sequel. I was mostly disappointed that people who have never played the game did not get to experience the feeling captured through AC’s use of history as its playground because it was, and still is, a great feeling that inspired me to delve deeper into the subject of history and see video games as a wonderfully unique form of art.

If you want a great story, play the game (preferably, most definitely, infinitely, the second game, AC2) but if you’re not picky and got about 2 hours to spare, I would say give the movie a try.

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My thoughts on Riddick

Aliens — That was the only thing I knew about Riddick. I was pretty sure it would turn out as bad as Oblivion because of the word aliens. The poster didn’t look attractive at all. But my sister was going and it was the weekends, so I went… and I didn’t regret any minute of it. (I also had no idea that Riddick was a sequel and a movie based on a book.)

Riddick wasn’t just an alien show. There were no aliens, actually. There were only two kinds of predators, three if you count in the humans. The movie was a survivor’s tale. A survivor who was being hunted after being labelled for violent crimes. The first thirty minutes of the movie was about survival and problem solving. I didn’t mind that for one thing. It kept the tension going and slowly unfolded the story of Riddick. As a post-apocalyptic fiction fan, I find the perception of daily life in a destroyed world (or in this case, a planet with nothing but vast fields of land) incredibly interesting.

Riddick went on to fight the scorpion-like creatures inhabiting the land and caught himself a puppy who would later on become his loyal companion. In between all this, there was some humor, which really surprised me. It’s not often you find humor in a futuristic movie about danger and survival. (Ahem, I’m totally referring to Oblivio– yaaawn.)

The CGI wasn’t that great, but the action scenes were good. It wasn’t the kind of action that made you cower in the seat with your hands over your face. It was action you find in a normal action movie. You know, all the stealth takedowns, gory violence and several intense moments. No explode-in-your-face action (like Looper, by far one of the worst futuristic movies ever) that made me jump in my seat.

As for the acting, Vin Diesel was nothing short of stellar in his performance. His portrayal of Riddick was an A+ for me because for not one moment I felt that he was an action hero or a hero at all. He was a survivor with a set of useful skills that helped him through the tough days and that was a really good feeling for me because for once, I wasn’t watching some antihero vigilante guy or a hero who was there to play the super good or the super selfish guy. It was like he could only be classified in adjectives — deadly, charismatic, gritty, intelligent, fast.

All in all, I enjoyed it and I would definitely watch it again. If there is a specific kind of sci-fi genre that I love, then this is it.

Freaking plot twister: I wrote this post almost THREE years ago and I did not post it!! Why!! I don’t know why because this post is fabulous in the most mediocre way. I love writing movie reviews and reflecting on this and that about the plot. I believe I was writing for a gaming blog in that year, so you can see how I absolutely loved inserting a load of adjectives to describe Mr. Diesel’s character. I still do. Adjectives and characters – we belong together. Rereading this post makes me miss the movie theaters (cries) and all the fun times we all had. Nostalgic, so darn nostalgic.

Well, I hope you have a new movie to add to your to-watch list now!

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Movies I watched on yet another long flight (edition 2)

Hello. Hope we are still doing this blog justice by blogging once a month. Here’s a short post.

The Avengers 2

Yes, after trying to work out our schedules to watch it with a friend before summer and ending up not being able to coordinate a proper movie time, I watched it on the plane. I didn’t expect to watch it for another year or so because I hate to admit it but my interest in blockbusters have kind of gone down the toilet.

So what happened in Avengers 2? There was no Loki but there were… Transformers… uh, I mean, Russians… uh, alien Transformers, I guess. Or maybe it was that melting silver dude from Terminator, only less handsome.

Never mind. The plot was okay but nothing to scream about. The enemy was what you would expect of a superhero movie but honestly at some parts, I thought I was watching Transformers. Did anyone else feel that way? There was lots of action and lots of green screen scenes but also plenty of stilted, unnatural conversation. No, actually, I feel like everyone’s lines were limited to like 10 words and most of them were attempts at humor. I didn’t like the lines.

5/10. What a disappointment.

Dragon Blade

Okay, this was a Mandarin+English movie that I watched with subtitles because my Mandarin isn’t powerful enough to get me through a whole movie. The story was about Jackie Chan and his friends who work as peace negotiators on the Silk Road (recall your world history classes for this). They were betrayed and sent to a hard labor camp as punishment… and somehow one day, while they were working at this base, a bunch of hungry and wayward Romans came to invade them. John Cusack was the general leading the small party of Romans who had fled from Rome because some other guy was out to kill his kid brother. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie.

I liked it. It was exciting and intense and gory. I didn’t like the gory parts. I didn’t expect to see John Cusack in a Chinese movie but there you have it. There was lots of camaraderie and fight scenes – signature Jackie Chan movie elements. I wouldn’t watch it again though.

6.5/10

Tangled

After flipping through countless movies and TV shows and music albums, I gave up and picked something familiar. You can’t go wrong with Tangled. I fast-forwarded through all the Mother Gothel parts and listened to most of the songs but ended the movie before it ended.

Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of (Backstreet Boys documentary)

It wasn’t what I expected but it was alright. I expected the documentary to be a journey through the years but somehow they cut out a whole chunk in the middle that range from the Never Gone album to Unbreakable to This Is Us. All the focus was on how they started out and the current album.

I thought the movie would be more personal but mostly it was band-related and only skimmed over some parts which I thought would have been nice to delve a little deeper into. I was also thinking we might get to see live performances but we only got glimpses of acapella performances. But at the end of the day, the movie had its heartfelt moments, great acapella moments, and it showed us even though they are larger than life during performances, the Backstreet Boys are as human as they get. And that’s what we love about them.

Showbiz isn’t easy and I don’t think I could do it so I salute people who can stick true to their values throughout their years in the showbiz. And I salute the Backstreet Boys. They’ve had their own personal struggles but they managed to overcome them and give the fans all they’ve got, and you can see how much each of them has matured.

Proud to be a Backstreet Boys fan. P.S: We are behind you all the way, Brian!

As for other movies, I tried to watch Cinderella after watching bits and pieces while my sister was watching it but I gave up. I wasn’t in the mood and zoned out eventually.

I had high hopes for the Japanese and Korean films since I watched some on a previous flight and enjoyed them but this time, they all sucked. They were all so bad, I couldn’t get through FIVE minutes of any show I selected. The Japanese movies were depressing as heck and one even showed a man’s bare butt in the first 5 minutes. The Korean movies were all somehow related to adult elements which I didn’t care for. Does anyone even screen the movies that they put on flights? Because I could do that for them.

I’m sure I watched another movie and fell asleep halfway but I don’t remember what movie it was. Update: my sister just reminded me that it was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I had to Google that). I watched it years ago and enjoyed it so I thought, hey, since the other movies aren’t my cup of tea, why don’t I re-watch Indiana Jones? Nope, got about 5 minutes into it and zonked out.

Oh yes, I remember one other show I watched. As you may or may not know, we used to watch White Collar. It was good – and if it’s relevant, Matt Bomer is gorgeous – but we stopped watching halfway after things got in the way and we didn’t have time for TV. I decided to cut to the chase and watch the last 2 episodes of the final season. Have I told you that I do not mind spoilers? So I watched it… and the last episode didn’t even feel like a last episode… which, after I thought about it, was good. I’m not spoiling it for you because almost everyone I know hates spoilers.

That’s all I have. What movies have you watched lately?

Raine
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A short post about music and movies

Good evening! Let’s start my post with a lovely picture of the sunset. It’s funny how the same sky and sun that we all live under can look so different in another country.

sunset1

I guess this is the part where I type hashtag ‘no filter’.

Moving on to the movies I watched recently and what’s new on my music playlist because I just, you know, find strange joy in updating everyone about my latest interests.

I watched Focus on the plane. The story begins with how con man Nicky met Jess, an amateur con artist. He takes her under his wing and she soon becomes even better at his game of cheating. In the process, they become a couple. Nicky decides he doesn’t want romance mixing in his type of lifestyle and breaks up with her. A few years later, he meets Jess again. This time, she’s a professional con artist, but he doesn’t know it yet.

Without giving any spoilers away, I found the synopsis a little misleading because it sounded as if the movie was about Nicky meeting Jess years later. In reality, half of the movie was about how they met and how things went from there. The ending seemed a little underdeveloped and rushed for me.

To my surprise, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I thought it was just another action/romance flick, but I was deeply entertained by the chemistry between Nicky and Jess. Margot Robbie as the sexy and sophisticated Jess was absolutely delightful to watch. I was surprised to find out that she’s Australian. Will Smith as the lead was surprisingly different in a good way.

I also watched Cinderella. Finally. I think the story emphasizes a very important message that everyone should remember: Have courage and be kind. I loved how the modern retelling of this fairytale explored new themes like perseverance, loss, and humbleness. The Prince had his own story, which made him better than the usual romantic blockhead in previous adaptations.

Cate Blanchett did a stellar performance as the Stepmother. Lily James as Cinderella was perfect in looks and expressions, though she could’ve been a little less breathy and little more natural. Richard Madden as Kit/the Prince was incredibly charming. His looks remind me of a young Brad Pitt. Loved and enjoyed the movie. Oh, and the ending song, “Strong” by Sonna Rele, is beautiful in a magical Disney way!

I watched the Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of documentary. It made me sad in many ways because I was reminded of what entertainers have to go through while trying to put on their best show for fans. They have to smile through the thick and thin just to live up to public expectations. It made me think twice about my teenage dream to be a singer (haha). The documentary is a real treat for fans who love the Backstreet Boys. I wish that they included performances in the documentary, though.

I listened to music for more than an hour on the plane (a really fantastic way to make time pass quicker). I’m actually glad I picked up Taylor Swift’s new album during the summer because I listened to a great deal of her songs. It was fun, though the woman sitting beside me was probably highly irritated by my singing.

I also listened to my first Korean pop album… ever. I always knew I would have a K-pop phase because I love dance pop and electropop music; it was just a matter of when it would happen.

The Korean girl group is called AOA (short for Ace of Angels) and the album is Like A Cat. Catchy pop songs with a touch of amazing R&B? I had this album on repeat. I watched some of their dance videos and was reminded that Korean bands/groups have extremely tight training schedules to perfect their performances and public image. I was impressed. Synchronized dancing? Not something anyone can do. Dancing on high stilettos and in whatever outfits their managers/stylists decide? Definitely not an easy task.

If I had to pick my favorite out of the AOA members, I would probably say Choa because of her distinctive voice and her bold, blond bob that totally suits her. Yes, I’m totally in my K-pop mode right now, talking about the members and all!

That’s all from me today.

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Movies I watched on yet another long flight

I was recently on a 2-part flight which totaled to about 15-16 hours of flight time. I actually managed to sleep for 1/3 of the longer section which was just nice because the flight didn’t feel terribly long neither was it too short to make use of the in-flight entertainment.

Here’s what I watched, according to the order I watched them. Note that it has been ages since I’ve watched anything new let alone any kind of TV.

taken3Taken 3 – I expected it to be half-crappy since lots of sequels have been disappointing or ridiculous but Taken 3 was good. Brian Mills is still the same badass as he was in the first movie and the story had a solid plot. I’d give it a 8.5/10 and I would definitely watch another Taken sequel. Liam Neeson, you can’t jump into a sewer drain and come out looking so good LOL. But damn if he isn’t one of the sweetest and most protective movie dads.

22jumpst22 Jump Street – Now this is a sequel that partially lived up to its expectation except towards the end when the humor began to get lame and slapstick. I didn’t quite care for the bad guy (or should I say girl) and the movie felt really short. The Ice Cube references had me laughing so hard. The credits were funny though and I really admire the fact that they came up with so many posters for ‘future sequels’.

kingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service – I can’t really tell you how I felt about this show because I barely watched it. Samuel L. Jackson as the bad guy was rather annoying too so I wasn’t motivated to pay attention. I only watched 1/4 of this show because 1. I kept falling asleep and 2. when I woke up and started to concentrate on the movie, I got distracted by the man sitting in front of me who was watching American Sniper.

americansniperAmerican Sniper – Which is how I ended up watching – uh, I mean reading the subtitles – 3/4 of his movie. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I had tried to watch it on my own. Isn’t it far more interesting when you watch a movie over someone else’s shoulder (without being nosy or creepy)? I believe I also watched someone else’s movie on a previous flight. Anyway, the movie was rather deep and thought-provoking and even though I’m not a big Bradley Cooper fan, I thought he did a good job in the movie.

I will have you know that the guy infuriatingly ENDED the movie before it actually ended. So annoying! There was only 5-10 minutes left but he just had to exit the screen… I’m not bothered to read the Wikipedia synopsis but if you leave a comment about what happened at the end, I’ll be grateful.

ST_MPD_Scientific_Investigation_Squad_(Movie)-p1ST: The Movie – I couldn’t find anymore English movies that I wanted to watch (and there were plenty but I’m picky) so I moved off to the Asian movies. ST: The Movie is a Japanese mystery/thriller movie which kept me hooked till the end. The story was about a special team on the police force that solves tricky crimes getting involved in a complicated technological crime. There were also internal conflicts that led to interesting relationship development between the two lead actors. One of the lead actors also happened to be the same guy from the other Japanese movie (it was Oh! Father and I really liked that show) that I watched on a previous flight. Japanese movies can be really interesting because of the sheer complexity of some of the stories.

theroyaltailorThe Royal Tailor – The other Japanese movies were not to my taste so I picked a Korean show instead. It was beautifully written and directed. The story was about a royal tailor (the older guy), a young but talented tailor, the royal family, and the conflicts that arose when the young tailor began to receive personal requests from the Queen. It was so moving that I cried into my airline snacks. My favorite character has to be the young tailor – so passionately curious and wildly passionate. The costume department did an A+ job on all the outfits. I wish I were a bit more eloquent in describing my feelings for things but it seems that lately words fail me when I try to think of how to describe things

abigmatchBig Match – This was action-packed from the beginning. Uh, I guess I saved a poster with Mandarin instead of Korean but it’s actually a Korean movie. Get past the first 15 minutes and you’re good for the rest of the movie. It was one of those fast-paced everything-happening-in-one-day kind of movies. The story is about a boxer whose brother gets framed for a crime and somehow the police suspect him to be in cahoots with his brother and arrest him. From there, the boxer gets a call while in prison from the antagonist who has captured his brother for leverage purposes. The boxer has no choice but to follow the antagonist’s orders to go on crazy missions. I was on the edge of my seat till the end. The protagonist is hilarious!! If only for him, watch it.

edgeoftomorrowEdge of Tomorrow – I only watched 1/3 of this because I fell asleep (yes, even with the sounds of raging gunfire and Tom Cruise shouting into my ears). Tom Cruise as a pathetic army guy was refreshing to watch since he’s usually the intelligent or skilled hero. I missed the entire middle part of the movie and woke up towards the ending but I quickly gathered what I had missed. But yeah, Tom Cruise basically saves the day in most of his movies anyway.

That is how up-to-date with English movies I am. I have yet to watch The Avengers 2. I can’t believe it myself haha. Let’s not even talk about English music.

Have you watched any of these movies? Which ones did you find good/disappointing?

Raine
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T-minus 1.5 days to arriving

Our total travel time was between 38 – 40 hours. None of us remembers the exact length but it was loooooong and by the time we arrived at the hotel, we were drop dead exhausted.

What’s up with 40 hours of travel time, right? Let’s see. Our flight time was about 15-17ish hours. Normally I would know but this time I slept throughout almost the entire flight during the second leg AND I wasn’t wearing a watch. That is pretty impressive considering I usually don’t zonk out and just movie-marathon the whole flight through.

I was somehow really drained and just kept falling asleep. I was already out like a light BEFORE the wheels went up!! I know. I was disappointed about that because I usually like to view the outside camera and see the takeoff part. I missed the safety video and I didn’t even use the headphones… That’s some weird shit right there.

So let’s recount what I did on the second leg of the flight: I almost slept through dinner, barely even knew what I was eating (it was really good though… it was pasta that came with smoked salmon salad, Haagen Dazs ice cream and some other fancy stuff that I don’t remember), slept for hours and midway through, exchanged seats with my mom.

Oh well. I guess it was a good thing I slept a lot because I was sitting alone between a middle-aged lady and an old lady. My mom and sister were in the premium economy cabin since we managed to upgrade two tickets. I have never sat alone on a flight before and was kinda miffed about it but it wasn’t too bad. The old lady beside me was kinda friendly (even if I did have some trouble communicating with the lady in Cantonese lol) and she wasn’t annoyed when I had to get up to use the washroom.

My mom and I swapped seats but I didn’t even manage to make full use of the upgraded seat. I used the toilet, returned to my seat and continued zzz-ing. I woke up before breakfast and managed to watch a grand total of ONE and a half episodes of Veronica Mars before landing. Man, where can I continue watching Veronica Mars? It was promising! And Kristen Bell is soooo cute in it.

The first leg of the flight wasn’t too bad (I know I’m writing in reverse mode – second part before the first; bear with me). I managed to listen to some music – the selection was limited this time – and watch a Japanese movie called Oh! Father. I LOVED it; such a great show. Yeah, and that’s all I did.

We had a 10 hour layover in between flights (oh yay) – the longest layover we’ve had yet. So how was it? For people who haven’t had such a long layover or can’t imagine what one can do for 10 hours, I’ll just tell you that it somehow wasn’t as bad/boring as I imagined it to be. For one thing, we couldn’t find the food court and walked around 3/4 of the airport until we finally found it. Um, yes, we could have asked but each of us insisted that we knew where it was and was too stubborn to ask haha.

Found the food court where it was MADNESS. Finding a table was hard enough and when we did, our chairs almost got snagged by other travelers. That’s HKIA for ya. To be exact, that’s Chinese travelers for ya. We fished out some money and went to order our lunch. The food was delicious but we were quite tired from the flight so we couldn’t fully enjoy it.

That took about 2+ hours, I think. Then we went to have a drink. Coffee and juice at a neat little coffee shop with a great view of the planes outside. Don’t you just marvel at the sight of all the planes outside? Sat there for a little while then moved off to find some benches. We found an awesome stretch of seats without pesky armrests between them and settled ourselves there. I put a bag under my head, laid down and was out like a light for 2 hours. It was awesome.

I was awoken by a bunch of Chinese folks who decided to sit back-to-back to us even though there were TONS of other seats. ??? Typical Chinese behavior. This happens more than you think. Side story: Once upon a time in college, I found an empty classroom to do my homework in before class. A girl came in and out of the 50 seats in the room, chose to sit right beside me. ????????????? The end. You may come to your own conclusion. I’ll give you a hint: talk about invading someone’s personal space.

So these Chinese people started talking (read: yelling) and woke me right up. We were annoyed so we got up and left. We walked around some more and found other seats but they just weren’t as great. It had a charging station though so we charged the phone for an hour. I think a British family sat in the vicinity. They had 3 young kids so it was entertaining to watch them running around and using Frozen-themed playing cards to play Snap. Then there were some other Aussie travelers who sat down nearby…

Then it was time for dinner so we headed back to the food court and had the same thing that we had for lunch. Cheap, fast and delicious. How could we complain? Total number of hours killed by then: 6.5 to 7. Okay, we were doing good. And we were also tired as heck from lugging the bags around. We decided to just wait at our departure gate so that we wouldn’t have to move around so much.

The departure gate was quiet and moderately comfy so we just sat and waited. I was entertained by a woman who was video-calling a friend and talking at volume 100. You meet all kinds of people in an airport. When her call ended, I was bored again. Bored but ready to board and just zonk out again. Thankfully there was a pre-departure check at the gate forty minutes before takeoff.

“But you could have done so much more at the airport!” Some of you are thinking that, right? Haha, you’re not wrong. We could have. But we were just. so. damned. tired.

So that was 25+ hours there. We landed in LAX which was quite underwhelming. I expected it to be huge but it was really just a normal terminal. Unlike SFO which has tons of seats and is reasonably well-lit in the middle of the night, LAX was cramped and dark. We found a stretch of seats at the departure gate and hunkered down for the night. It was COLD. And the seats were terrible. Guess they weren’t built for overnight-ers like ourselves and the few other people who spent the night there.

I managed to sleep some more but we had to take turns to watch over our bags so I struggled to stay awake when it was my turn. I don’t know how we managed to last the night without freezing. We had to dig out random flannel shirts from our suitcases and use them as blankets. Yeah, that didn’t work out too well. It was still ridiculously cold. The tip here, friends, is to not underestimate the nighttime weather in LA even if it’s summer.

Morning came and we asked a lady what time the cafe downstairs opened. Six, she said. We were stunned. In SFO, the cafe folks come in at 4.30 and start setting stuff up. By 5.15, the coffee and pastries are ready. By 5.30, you can order grilled sandwiches. Not in LAX. We were hungry – the granola bars we shared throughout the night weren’t enough – but we waited till 6. At 6, we went down and found out that the cafe didn’t open till 6.30.

Okay. More waiting. We waited till 6.30 then got into line. We wanted to have paninis (our go-to airport food) but nothing was ready so we were forced to get pastries instead. Pfft. Yeah.

At 7.30, we went out to the bus stop to catch the bus to the car rental building. What a difference from riding the SkyTrain in SFO. Lol, okay, I’m comparing a lot but how can I not? We waited 30 minutes for the right bus to come. We were beginning to worry that the bus wasn’t going to come or that we were at the wrong bus stop but then thankfully the bus came along.

The bus driver was so great. He hauled ALL our suitcases with just one hand. Seriously. There we were, struggling and heaving and spraining our fingers. And there he was, picking them up like they were newborn babies. The bus ride was short and there wasn’t much to see from inside.

Here’s the even better part. When we got our rental car, we were a bit concerned. It was big but would it fit all our luggage? We were hmm-ing and haa-ing for a bit then we decided to Tetris our bags to see if they would go in nicely. Who should come along just as we’re struggling to shove the biggest bag into the trunk? The lady in charge of helping to unload the bags from the bus.

She strolled across the parking lot. We were oblivious to her until she said, “Need any help?”

Okay, we were embarrassed. Three people who couldn’t even get their bags into the car…

Then she said, “Let me try.”

And she did it. She shoved all our suitcases in effortlessly. She Tetris-ed our bags perfectly. I wanted to cling onto her and sob tears of gratitude and thank her profusely because I honestly didn’t think we would be able to fit all the bags inside and I was already beginning to feel anxious. Thank you, lady! We didn’t manage to get her name but know that we’re forever grateful for her help.

So we climbed (because it was wonderfully big and sturdy) into the car, adjusted the GPS and set off for our destination. Out of LAX and off we went. I thought I would remember what the roads were like when coming out of LAX but I don’t. I’m sorry but San Francisco roads seem to have a bigger impression on me. Well, in any case I don’t think we were on the roads for too long. I think we got onto the highway and were well on our way.

WHAT? You guys were in LA and didn’t even stop to see sights? Ah, no. Stopping to see sights with suitcases in the trunk wasn’t part of our plan. Maybe some other time? Maybe you guys have some awesome suggestions for us to visit/do/eat? We already did the Walk of Fame the last time we were here and it wasn’t all that interesting -_-

Anyway we reached on time and headed straight for the hotel which we were only too happy to dunk our stuff in.

Ta-da. The end. That was 38-40 hours right there, maybe more. There is more to come – tales of apartment-hunting, consecutive takeout dinners, apartment-hunting, trips to Walmart and Target and Costco, apartment-hunting, furniture-shopping, and settling into school. Oh, and did I forget to mention apartment-hunting?

Stay tuned.

Raine
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June in Review

Hey friends. I know we’ve been missing a lot these few weeks. June has been a weird month for us.

juneinrev

1. We lost our grandfather this month. He was easily one of the most carefree people I’ll ever know. It’s funny how I’ve been remembering the tiniest details about him ever since. Sometimes I just find it so hard to believe that he’s gone. We weren’t super close or anything but he was still a prominent figure while I was growing up.

He drove us to and from school for a few years and my, were those days quite the adventure. His driving was reckless and his cussing quite sailor-like but he would tell us, your grandfather has been driving for over 40 years, so trust me. I don’t think I ever once felt unsafe in his car, haha. Sometimes he would forget to close the trunk and it would slam shut when he hit a pothole and I would worry that our bags had flown out onto the road. Then I would think, haha wouldn’t it be great to go to school and tell the teacher that I can’t hand in my homework because my bag flew out the trunk?

Every day in my first and second grade, he would wait outside my class to help me carry my bag down the stairs (no idea why my bag was so heavy) and my friends would be jealous of me. Oh, then more than once he went to confront the kids who bullied me in school. Once, after school, there were these two boys who pushed me. I fell and scraped my knee on the road. It bled. I probably cried. When I reached my grandpa’s car, he was shocked to find my knee bleeding and demanded to know who had pushed me. He went to confront the two boys and gave them a scolding then he took me to wash my knee. Yeah, I felt pretty badass after that. Like, y’all I have a bodyguard.

Then there were the days when we used to go over to his house every single weekend. Thinking back, it was fun. We would just sit around while the adults chatted but it was still fun. Then recently in the last few years, he would go to the mall every.single.day. either by himself or with a bunch of good friends. And they would just walk around or find a place to sit and chat for a couple of hours. And he was there so often that the staff began to treat him like their best friend.

So we would often run into him at the mall and we’d chat for a bit. Haha, yeah, the mall is kind of like our second home. A couple of times while I was out with friends, I bumped into him and I would call out to him. I would tell my friends later on, my grandpa hangs out around here a lot and he’s friends with the staff all while feeling some kind of swell of pride lol. I guess maybe that’s the kid in me. Well, those are just some of the good memories I have of my grandfather.

Now when we drive past the places he used to hang out at really often, I still have to stop myself and think, oh, he’s gone. And then I don’t know whether to feel sad or not. It’s such a weird feeling. While I want to feel sad because he’s no longer a drive or phone call away, I’m also glad he’s not in pain anymore. Haha while I’m writing this I’m sobbing and trying not to let my sister see me crying.

Okay I’m a big sobbing mess and I seem to have forgotten what else I meant to say…

I guess I meant to say, I wish all of you could have known my grandfather. He was pretty awesome all the way.

2. My phone died. If you’re wondering, it’s a Nexus 5. Before this I rarely ever updated my phone or the apps. Well, at least until the app expired and forced me to update it. Other than that, I’m usually always wary of updates that supposedly ‘fix bugs’ but sometimes cause even more problems. But somehow this time when I saw a system update, I thought, what the heck I’ll just update it. Yup, wrong move. It was fine after the system update… for 5-6 hours then while I was playing Fruit Ninja, the screen went blank and it hasn’t been able to revive since then. You may now say EFFFFFFFFFFF!

I would send it in for repair but yeah, I have my reasons not to at the moment. We’ll see if I somehow manage to get it to revive again. I’m sad for the data in my phone. All my lovely useful apps and photos that I didn’t manage to upload recently D: Oh well. Moral of the story: DON’T UPDATE YO PHONES. Also, don’t get a Nexus 5 unless you have the patience/strength/ability to pry the fricking back lid off. I broke a nail trying to pry it open so yeah. The design is so stupid omg.

P.S: This also means that my Instagram account is pretty much frozen for now since I don’t have a phone.

3. Oh yeah. Work. Work sucks. I have posts about work coming. Stay tuned.

4. I’ve been having lunch with a high school friend these few weeks since her university is near my work place. It’s been pretty fun. The number of uni friends I managed to make in Vancouver came to a grand total of zero (lol amazing right) so my social life was pretty much nil. And no wonder I began to feel depressed. So it’s been nice to have lunch with friends. We talked quite a bit over chicken rice, pasta and more pasta.

5. I also somehow managed to strike up a conversation with another high school classmate and after talking to him, remembered how nice he was to me in school and how nice it is to just have a conversation with a friend. Dunno about you but having guy friends after elementary school isn’t exactly easy here because if your ‘friends’ happen to see you chatting with the same guy for an ‘unusually long time’ or multiple times, they’re likely to accuse both of you of liking each other. ??? Okay. It took me a while to catch on to this but when I figured it out, I thought it was stupid. Like, why would you accuse someone of ‘dating’ just because two people happen to have similar interests and talk on more than one occasion? How is it dating???

But anyway, yeah, this guy friend is the okay sort. Our conversation wasn’t awkward or anything which was actually really nice. Here’s the thing though. Me, being lovely awkward me, was scrolling through the Fb emoticon list and accidentally clicked on the cat emoticon with the pink heart twirling above its head. O-M-G, MORTIFYING. Yes, so me. A part of me wondered if he would freak out even after I apologized and explained that it was an honest mistake. But he just laughed it off and sent me a huge smiley. Haha, yeah. ==

6. Anime wise, we’re slow on catching up with the shows that we’ve been watching because most of the time I’m tired after work and by the time we feel like watching, it’s late and I have to sleep because I have to get up early for work. Meh. But we finished Kamigami no Asobi (ah-mazing) and Kingdom (doubly amazing) and we’re thoroughly enjoying Haikyuu!! Lots of summer anime coming next month. We gotta gear up for that and watch them all even if we have to wake up at 5am to watch them. Okay, maybe not that extreme… 😛

7. Movie wise (yeah, English), How to Train Your Dragon 2 was good. I enjoyed it. I don’t think Skye enjoyed it as much. I cried in most of the scenes with Hiccup’s mom and (spoiler alert) pretty much couldn’t handle it when they killed his father off. WHY would they do that? Gah, so frustrating. Still, it was better than expected and better than Frozen (don’t hate).

Nonstop was also good. Liam Neeson, y’all. He’s so great. I just adore his movies. I mean, his movies give new meaning to the thriller genre. A+! Bravo!

I can’t remember if we watched X-Men this month or the last but it oddly enough it wasn’t that bad. I have watched two other X-Men movies before but remember them only vaguely so I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect. If you have never watched a single X-Men movie in your life, definitely go into Days of Future Past without worrying that you won’t know what’s going on. It’s easy enough to understand and I give it a solid 7/10.

Right, we watched Spiderman 2 last month. What a bore. Jeez.

8. In other small random pieces of news, I’ve been drawing quite a bit this month and been quite happy with my drawings (when I’m not erasing the drawing 50 times because I can’t get the mouth right). As for learning Japanese, it has stalled again. Because of work. But I don’t want work to be an excuse because I really want to get going with our Japanese progress so I gotta put more effort into making time to learn new words and stuff. I have also been painting my nails and using my tools, yay. With my phone kaput, pictures are lacking though.

I have quite a few other things to say but somehow I don’t feel like they fit into this post. I deeply apologize for being missing on your blogs. I gotta take things one step at a time and prioritize. :/

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Raine
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