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Levi Conquering 45 Piece Puzzle – Time Lapse Video

March 2, 2015

I finally managed to get a video of Levi doing one of his larger puzzles . This particular one is 45 pieces, and is a giant floor puzzle. At the time of shooting Levi is 25 month old. He can do another puzzle that is 60 piece with some assistance, but granted it is a difficult picture to do.

I only help when the pieces come undone

Interstellar – Review

March 1, 2015

Interstellar Poster

What makes a true cinematic masterpiece? In my interpretation of what makes a film soar high above the others is when a movie you are viewing envelops you whole, a piece of cinema that erodes all externalities around you , and taps into the core of your emotional centre. A part of you submerges into the alternate universe and you bond with the characters as if the relationships have been cultivated for many years past.

I had such an experience last week when I saw Christopher Nolan’s 2014 Science fiction film Interstellar. It was one of the most unique films I have seen in years and left me in a state of cinematic euphoria for days afterwards. Perhaps the Matrix came close to the feeling when it was first released into this world back in 1999.

If I had to distil Interstellar into the elements that made this film such a remarkable piece of human craftsmanship, it would firstly have to be the composer Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack that accompanied the movie. If you are not aware of Hans Zimmers contributions to the music or movie industry I urge you to search his name in Youtube, and see just how many movies his compositions defined over the years.

In brief, Interstellar is a movie about a team of explorers who travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival. The imagery of the hostile and vast void of space is perfectly captured in the selection of arrangements that Mr Zimmer created for the film.

Secondly the visual effects are equally stunning and rightfully deserve an Oscar for it. Everything was shot with such beauty, from Earthly scenes to the distant glowing gigantic black hole, the icy frontier of another planet, and the weightlessness of space travel, all added to the experience.

Finally the characters and the actors behind them really did a fantastic job in helping me feel part of the action. My impression of Matthew McConaughey has been elevated immensely after his performance as Cooper, the Pilot/Engineer/Farmer in this film. It has made me seek out his other notable performances.

There was another character that I really enjoyed, who happens to be not human. Nolan’s praise worthy depiction of an artificial Intelligence robot TARS, was a very novel and refreshing way of depicting non-organic intelligence. TARS did not have a human form, rather resembled a large silver fridge that was split and could rotate around four equal sections around the middle axis. TARS was still a robot in the sense that he was programed, was there to serve humans and obviously did not take on a human form, yet was capable of such higher human cognizance such as humour, interaction with others in a manner appropriate to the context; formal and serious when there was an emergency, while another time casually calling McConaughey’s character Cooper, “Coop” when saying goodbye to him.  We are reminded of TARS’ AI state at various portion of the movie when various settings are adjusted or discussed. There is a great scene between Cooper and TARS discussing the setting of Honesty

TARS - Interstellar

Cooper: Hey TARS, what’s your honesty parameter?
TARS: 90 percent.
Cooper: 90 percent?
TARS: Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.
Cooper: Okay, 90 percent it is.

Having said all that I watched the film in a tiny little screen while travelling on a crowded train. It has become my prerogative to re-watch this masterwork on the huge screen with surround sound.

Interstellar touches on a lot of themes and scientific concepts that may be confusing to viewers who are not versed in them. Time dilation & gravity  is one such topic that Nolan has woven into the story after consulting actual physicists, which play a big role in the movie but may leave viewers wondering what just happened. I did it myself, but I encourage others to read into the science behind the film after viewing.

If you have not seen Interstellar I really encourage you to go out and see this film, especially if you are science fiction fan, but also if you love fresh ideas that leave an impression on you long after the initial screening.

Levi’s 2nd Birthday

January 24, 2015

Hard to believe that just over two years ago, I was in the hospital with Charmaine who was recovering from the delivery of our first son. Yet here we are celebrating his birthday with family for the second time.

I remember when I was a kid, having a birthday was something special. The anticipation the night before of the presents to come was overwhelming. Then when the big day comes the spotlight of attention is directed at you and to top it all of a party was waiting for me and my friends. Over the years that magic feeling fades to a point that you are more concerned with avoiding the extra attention and not over eating the cake. On the Richter scale of excitement birthdays these days would barely register.

Yet when organising Levi’s birthday at our house, the experience provided me that old glimpse of the exhilaration that a kid’s birthday party should invoke. Levi’s excitement is contagious and made me happy. Apart from the abundance of food, Levi was treated to a mini-jumping castle, a small inflatable pool and of course a truck full of presents that once again we have to decide where to place.

Here are some of the shots

Levi n Zach Toy Room

Jumping Castle

Boys in the Swimming Pool

Levi 23 Months – Doing 30 Piece Puzzle

January 8, 2015

Since my last video of Levi doing a 16 piece wooden puzzle with a faded background, I have managed to capture Levi doing an even more challenging puzzle. This one is a traditional puzzle without a background. It is also 30 pieces, which is twice as much as the previous one and is rated as 3 years and above. Considering Levi is 1 and 11 months, this makes me very proud of him.

Sorry the video is 11 minutes long this time.

Top 5 Movies I Watched in 2014

December 10, 2014

When it comes to watching movies, this year started out on a dry spell. I have been busy with work, studies and Levi was still one which required a lot of attention. Charmaine and I use to watch a lot of movies at night, but after the baby that has become almost non-existent.

Two changes took place at about the mid-point of the year that have opened up a time opportunity for me to indulge in my hobby. First I started being stricter with my own sleeping habits. This change in behaviour meant I was not semi-comatose from a lack of sleep on the morning commute and was able to keep my eyes open for a movie. You see my train trip is one hour each way with plenty of idle time in between, perfect to use.

The second big change was an upgrade of my mobile to one with more memory, more high definition screen and larger storage. Also with a recommendation from a friend to use the app Airdroid, putting movies on my phone wirelessly was never easier.

So with the year wrapping-up, I consumed around 50 movies with a range of genres, year of productions and the  ratings.

Here are my favourite five movies I have watched this year

But first 5 Movies I did NOT enjoy the most in 2014

1)Apocalypse Now (1979)

2) Princess Mononoke (1997)

3) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

4) The Deer Hunter (1978)

5) Seven Psychopaths (2012)

So now for the ,favourite 5 movies I watched in 2014:

1) Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Wow, what an unexpected gem of a movie. I resisted seeing the film for a while due to whole romance comedy classification and the cliché picture of the perfect girl and guy combo on the cover. The persistently nagging high rating on IMDB has finally persuaded me to take the plunge.

First let me state that this movie weighs heavily towards the drama category, before anything else. The romance and comedy are definitely there, but they are weaved into the plot to take a seat further from the centre stage. Both Bradley Cooper whose acting talent I now regard much more highly than when I saw in in the first Hang-over, and the ageing Robert De Niro, have done a superb job playing the roles of actors who suffer from various mental health issues.

This is precisely what  I really enjoyed about the film, the characters battling their personal demons and trying to improve on their situation. Highly recommend if you like a good drama with some comedy.

Silver Linings Playbook

2) 50/50(2011)

This is another film that was on my back burner for a long time waiting for me to be in the right mood. I somehow developed a prejudice in my mind against Seth Rogen, placing him in the crappy movie category, even though I have reviewed some of the films he has starred in and found that I enjoyed them for most part.

Anyway, the two characters Joseph Gordon-Levitt who contracts a rare cancer and his friend Seth Rogen who sticks by him through the ordeal were a great pick in my view. This movie is most definitely another drama but has a plethora of funny scenes to dilute the film to a semi-comedy.

What I enjoyed about this film is a view into a life of a healthy individual who is suddenly struck with something as shattering as cancer and the impact that has on their life, after all it could happen to any of us.  The movie didn’t feel pretentious or try to make this into some prolonged tear-jerker. As I said plenty of funny bits even as the main story climaxes for the main character. Very engrossing film.

50-50-Poster

3) Heat (1995)

Robert De Niro & Al Pacino in their prime, must I say more to convince you otherwise? Lots of action, drama, quotable lines and above all great story line.

This movie resurrects a time when the likes of De Niro & Pacino were considered the giants in their field and starring in action films at the zenith of their careers.

heat movie

4) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The most recent film on the list, and probably the most unique. The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from the director Wes Anderson. I have watched a backlog of his films this year and this is probably one of my favourite due to the quirky style, props and camera angles used through the 90 minutes.

Ralph Fiennes’ character in the film M. Gustave did for me. Something about his eloquent and at time verbose speaking manner made the flick very memorable.

The-grand-budapest-hotel-poster

5) 21 Jump Street(2012)

The only pure comedy on the list, which the likes of I need to watch time to time after I have watched a number of more serious films back to back.

I put this film up high because it really made me look stupid cracking up constantly on the train. Lots of absurdly hilarious scenes and a great addition of Ice Cube as the police captain. This movie reminded me of other high school comedies, so I have to rate it high.

22 Jump street could note match it by the way. Personally the movie fell flat.

21 jump street

Levi Doing Puzzle – 22 Months

December 10, 2014

Shot this video of Levi last night putting together a puzzle board all by himself. Very impressed at how quickly he picked up, in my opinion a relatively challenging task for his age group. I have to remind myself that he is only 1 year and 10 months of age. Mind you this was not the first time he was doing it, first couple of times we helped him put the pieces in the correct places, rotated them to match the faded picture in the background.

What I love about this video is his commentary on the individual pieces, if its a piece of a truck, he will comment that its a “truck”. Applauding his own accomplishment was the funny cherry on top.

We picked-up a similar puzzle but with more pieces for him as part of his Christmas presents. Let’s see how he goes with that. If he conquers that, next time we give him one of those 5000 piece puzzles of the clear sky.

DSC_0521

Levi Update – 21 Months

October 12, 2014

So what’s the latest on this kid? He is around 10 days shy of being 21 months of age, which is still a few months short  of his second lap around the glowing celestial ball we all call the sun. I am sure all my numerically astute readers have already deduces that all this means is Levi’s second birthday is getting nearer, and with that I am reminded of the phrase “terrible twos”. Now I am sure that there will not be some magical Cinderella transformation in behaviour when the pair of birthday candles are blown-out, and Levi makes it look like a stick of dynamite has been planted in his cake. I do wonder however if there is a term that has not been coined yet, not as pithy and definitely with less consonance, something like ‘terrible one and three quarters’ that would convey similar level of tantrums and horror public outing stories.

I guess what I want to know is, is Levi an earlier bloomer when it comes to the toddler tantrum ability, or is this still the teaser, the sample spoon? The real pot of horrors is still simmering on the proverbial kettle after two?

But it’s not all bad; there are lots of fun, new and exciting things that have happened with this kid. So now in no particular order of importance or relevance. List of Levi’s life accomplishments:

5)  All the teeth are nearly there. Makes for a great little smile, but also very handy in chopping up all those carrots that are so favoured by the little guy. It will be sometime before these get replaces with the massive tombstones that older kids get.

4) Can pretty much identify all the items when asked in his picture books. Hey may not be able to still say them all, but his comprehension levels are superb. These even include items I have never heard of probably because they are from some British or other archaic book. Things like ‘articulated lorry’, which is describing some large construction machine.

3) Loves to help around the house (waiting for the day that will change). For now at least Levi loves to help in putting and taking out the clothes from the washing machine, putting dirty (plastic) plates into the sink and opening the bin that is hidden away to place any pieces of rubbish on the ground. Next on the agenda, to iron my work shirts.

2) Can say more words that include, point to correct number of objects and say two or three (one is still out..). Remembers and can pronounce names of his cousin, uncle, aunty, and a few other people in his life

1)After Levi accidently hurts one of us, or gets a bit too excited and wacks us with his hands, we ask him to say sorry. The best things to receive from him are those genuine apologies. He places a hand on your cheek and gives you a small hug, it makes me forget everything else after one of those.

0) Levi is the personification of the Energiser Bunny that fires up when your energy light is blinking on empty. What’s that you want to rest your feet for a few minutes, sorry you are now my horsey and must trot around the house with Levi holding on the back. Great fun… sometimes.

Levi Alexzander water bottle smiling

Levi Alexzander - Big eyed

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