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Charlie and the Chocolate
FactoryOn Friday I went to see the latest version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as seen on the big screen. Huge screen, in fact, as I saw it in an IMAX theater.

I didn’t go in expecting much. The original movie holds a special place in my heart with its songs and Gene Wilder’s couldn’t-care-less Willy Wonka.

I came out very pleasantly surprised.

Tim Burton took the film in a more true-to-the-book direction (at least, so I’ve heard; it’s been years since I read the book and don’t remember too well), and did a great job at it. Plus, with the usual Tim Burton surreal thing going on, it all came together to be pretty darn entertaining.

Johnny Depp did a great job as a pretty freaky Wonka with some pretty obvious family issues. I was worried about how he’d be able to pull off the character, but he did a fantastic job and made it his own, without a hint of the Gene Wilder influence. (That’s actually what I was more afraid of - that it’d be a bad imitation of an excellent Gene Wilder performance.)

The story was slightly updated, too, to account for more recent times. Mike Teavee, for example, was a video game addict rather than just a TV addict. Of course, once Wonka’s factory was entered, all that went out the window anyway.

Which actually brings us to Wonka’s factory - excellent job on the rendition of that. In some cases, particularly the first room they enter where the chocolate waterfall is, it was just like the original movie, but in others, like the invention room, it was entirely new. A pretty good vision for what such a place should look like. And the Great Glass Elevator? Way better than the original movie.

The Oompa Loompas were done very differently from the original movie, and each style has its merits. I’m not sure I was into the outfits the new Loompas had on - the original movie had funnier costumes that I liked. The new Loompas were more playful, though, and I think some of that was missing from the original movie. Plus the songs were more authentic in this latest version, which was cool. (No “Oompa Loompa Doompity Do” in this one.)

I think the IMAX theater added to the surreal nature of the film. The camera angles and sets, which were already pretty crazy, were just made more crazy by the larger-than-life size of the screen combined with the curvature of the IMAX dome. (That’s the only downside to seeing a regular movie in IMAX - the screen curves, which takes some getting used to and sort of makes you a little motion sick at times. Plus it’s so big it’s hard to figure out what to focus on at any given time. Movies that are originally filmed in IMAX don’t have this problem because the filming accounts for the curvature.)

All in all, I liked it, and recommend seeing it. Maybe at matinee prices, or rental - it wasn’t $10-a-seat-in-a-regular-theater worthy, but if you get a chance to check it out on IMAX, do it. Pretty cool stuff.

This weekend was a hell of a lot of fun, but also pretty exhausting. It’s Tuesday and I’m still beat.

Friday evening, Jenn and I went down to The Bite of Salem to help out on their fireworks show. Apparently one of the previous shows we had done wouldn’t qualify for our pyrotechnician license application because the show was all multi-shot boxes rather than individual mortars, so we had to get another show in that had mortars.

Traffic was terrible, and we got there later than we hoped, but it was a good show and a lot of fun. Met a bunch of cool new people on that crew, some of whom I recognized from the pyro training course we took last year.

Saturday we went with Tif and Stu to the Washington County Fair to check things out. Admission this year was free so they could boost attendance, and it seemed to have worked because it was pretty packed. We walked around, saw some animals, ate some fair food (the whole reason I go to the fair involves some complex logic surrounding funnel cake), and watched a very cool demonstration by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on their K-9 patrol unit. That was actually really slick - showing how highly trained the dogs are and such.

The fair took a lot out of me. There wasn’t a lot of shade, and there was a lot of walking around, so by the time we got home that night I was absolutely beat. We ate and went to bed by about 11:00p in anticipation of leaving for the beach around 10:00a the next morning from our place.

I think I woke up around 7:00a the next morning and promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. Maybe 9:15a I woke up again and realized that Stu and Tif were supposed to be there in 45 minutes so we could go. We rolled out of bed and started getting things together when I got a message that they, too, were running late. Fine.

Made it to Seaside by lunchtime. Walked around to the various shops (nothing new there) and visited more than our fair share of candy stores. Of course, visited the Seaside Candyman and bought some stuff there (how can you not?).

After we did all that (and ate) we rented a four-person surrey to pedal around the town from Wheel Fun Rentals.

Pedaling a surrey around is not as easy as you might think.

See, on any modern bike, there’s sort of a transmission, where you can start out on a low gear and spead up as needed. Not these bad boys - direct drive. That makes starting out a little hard since there’s a lot of weight you have to get moving. Those smiles you see on the surrey riders? Grimaces of pain.

Now, that said, we had a frickin’ blast on the thing. Stu tried to pick up a passing volleyball player (which got him punched by the other three folks on the cart simultaneously) and we made a fantastic last-minute tour through the Shilo Inn parking lot that was more like surrey rally racing than anything else.

We had the rental for an hour and I think we returned it after 45 minutes. We were all worn out and it was time to move on.

We stopped on the way home at the nearby factory outlet mall, where I purchased nothing, and then took forever to get home due to some pretty terrible traffic and an accident blocking the only route. Another late night, then back to work Monday.

Like I said, I’m exhausted today. Here’s hoping I can make up some of that sleep soon.

I took Friday through Monday off not only because I need to start eating up some of my PTO hours before I lose them, but also in celebration of my 29th year on Earth.

Friday consisted mainly of watching La Femme Nikita, Season 3 on DVD and entering my comics from my collection into ComicsPriceGuide.com. I got everything that’s been bagged, boarded, and boxed into the online database, so now I can submit the list of comics to my homeowner’s insurance company and get a rider on my policy.

Saturday was party-day. Stu and Tif came over early and we went to the local Indian joint and had some excellent food for lunch.

After that, we went and played a couple of games of laser tag. Laser tag was great fun, except there was this one asshole who apparently didn’t understand the difference between playing the game and just scoring points. For those who don’t play laser tag, the idea is that you have a certain number of shots (like your “ammo”) and a certain number of lives. When you run out of shots or you’ve been hit enough times to run out of lives, you have to return to base to get more. If you get hit, your “shields” go up and you can’t shoot or be shot for three seconds, at which time your shields go down. That three seconds is supposed to give you time to run away.

Shooting a person gives you a certain number of points based on the location you hit the person; shooting the opposing team’s base (there’s a target on the base) gets you a certain number of points.

The idea is that you sneak towards the opposing team’s base and try to shoot it; if you get shot, you run away and “regroup” or whatever. This asshole decided he only wanted to play for points, not play the game, so he stood right under our base and just pulled the trigger over and over, regardless of whether we were shooting him or not. Eventually he’d hit our base a few times, and when he ran out of ammo or we shot him enough times, he’d stroll leisurely back to his base, recharge, and come back and do the same thing. Sort of defeats the purpose of the game.

Of course, we all got tired of just standing there shooting this guy, so we played and ran around and had fun. At the end of the game, this guy comes out looking like he’s one of the top players out there because we got tired of screwing with him, but he didn’t play, he just stood there.

Apparently this guy and his son come in all the time and that’s just what he does. That’s his way of playing. Next time I find him, I’m cramming that laser gun up his ass. That’s bullshit.

We finished laser tag and headed back to my house, where we were joined by my friends Jason, Tracy, and Adam. We played some games, watched some shows, and had far, far too much to drink. (We peaked when Stu started making “Randoms” - just pour whatever you can grab into the cup until it’s full.)

Got some pretty cool stuff from folks. In all, I got (not necessarily credited by person):

Hopefully I didn’t miss anything. The point is that I got a lot of cool stuff from a lot of cool people, and thanks very much to those folks - you all rock, and you know who you are.

Sunday was spent recovering from Saturday. We were going to head to the beach, but Stuart’s “Random” caught up with him and we ended up taking it easy on Sunday instead.

Monday I finished the new Harry Potter book, and it was excellent, but I can’t believe she did what she did at the end. I mean, it totally opens the door for this last book to be just about anything, but come on.

And now I’m back at work. I forgot to go get my allergy shot today, so I’m going to have to do that tomorrow and listen to the shot clinic nurse rip me a new one because I’m a day late, so I’m looking forward to that. Plus I see that there’s more to do on the current project that’s due at the end of the week than I anticipated, so I’d best get to it.

Tuesday and Wednesday I felt like I had something in my eye. I couldn’t see anything when I looked in the mirror, and I tried washing my eye out but it still was there. Wednesday I decided to take a trip to the eye doctor.

I had an eyelash growing inwards. Explains why I never saw anything - every time I looked for what was in my eye, I would pull back my lid to get a better view. Feeling much better now, but I’m sure that’s going to cost me.

Watched that So You Think You Can Dance show last night. Eh. Not awesome, but better than American Idol.

Also fixed our upstairs bathtub faucet. When they installed it, they had a brake inside the faucet handle set so the maximum water temperature was limited. Of course, that meant you got the water to lukewarm and that’s about it. I found the specs online and was able to fix that right up. I’m not sure how people did this stuff without the Internet.

Speaking of the Internet, I found a guy who melted down 13 pounds of gummy bears into one big one. Reminds me of my taffy brick.

I also saw that James Doohan (Star Trek’s Scotty) died yesterday at 85. That’s too bad, and I’m sorry to see him go.

Finally it’s my parents’ anniversary today, so happy anniversary to them.