My birthday was really fun. Canadian Heat, Dan, Anna, Brian and I all went out for Mexican at El Pancho’s. Mexican food is very rare in Japan, and it is one of my favorite cuisines. El Pancho’s is very delicious. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it when you need some burrito power! And the salsa can keep you warm through the cold Osaka nights. We went during the day for a late lunch. It had a much different atmosphere during the day when you could see things. I recommend it at night.
After the lunch we went to a movie theater. I am going to totally rip off Dan’s joke here and say, “The name of the place is [slight dramatic pause] HEP-5!” We ended up seeing the special screening of the new Harry Potter movie!
Spoiler free: It does not officially come out in Japan until the 27th but we caught the preview screening. I was amazed because we didn’t make reservations or anything; we just walked right up and got five tickets! Crazy! Unbelievable! The movie is really great. It is by far the best in the series. It takes a much darker tone than the last three, but so did the book. It was particularly visually impressive. Many more external shots of the castle were used, and to great affect. The beginning of the film was very rushed (it felt more like a “previously on Harry Potter…” voiceover than a start to the movie), and the actual “school year storylines” were all but forgotten. Yet the focus was with the most important parts of the book, and that is when it stopped being a collection of scenes and started being an actual movie. I really like Mad Eye Moody (my favorite character). I did not like his mad eye because it was more of an eye patch in the movie when the book indicates it is more along the lines of a glass eye. Also the eye was not quite “mad” enough for my tastes. I always thought Moody’s eye was constantly moving and (coolest of all) looking through his own head. The actor who played Moody had to physically turn too much to see things. If you could see 360 degrees around you, you would rarely have to turn your head. The eye would do all the looking, with the head and normal eye stationary. So the director let me down on that. I also cringed every time they cut to “Moody Vision” and he zoomed in with a telephoto lens “zooming” noise. I don’t know whose idea that was, but they should be hit with a stick, repeated. The script writer also let me down because Moody NEVER yelled “CONSTANT VIGILIANCE!” which was his frequently yelled catch phrase, and one of the many things I find so dear about him.
Dumble-dufus was, apparently, cast by George Lucus. I say that because he looked the part, but could not act. It was painful to see him on screen. The actor moved and spoke like a football player, where the real Dumble-bore is old and gives the impression of a helpless and eccentric old man. I was quite convinced that at any moment this actor was going to say, “Couch says, anyone who enters the Goblet of Fire tournament doesn’t have to do wind sprints! WOOOO! Now somebody mead me!” He was just horrid. If this actor continues to be the part, movie six will be all the more satisfying… if you know what I mean.
I really liked the Potter movie. It is also the first one I have seen when I read the book prior to seeing the film. Azkaban was close, but I have to admit that I walked in on the last few moments of the movie when I had not yet finished the book. It was a far more enjoyable experience reading the book THEN seeing the movie.
All in all it was a really nice birthday. I had good food, good friends and a good movie.
The next night (20th) Flora and I went out to dinner for my birthday. We went back to El Pancho’s! It was really nice to spend one-on-one time with Flora. She is such a social butterfly so you tend to have to interact with her in groups.
That night I got to talk with my parents, which was really nice. Last night (21st) Katie called from her new place and we talked for an hour or so. It was nice to hear from all of them!
Anna got me Oliver Twist and a Star Trek desk calendar. Brain, Dan, and the Heat paid for my dinner and my movie ticket. Dan also got me a six pack of A&W Root Beer. If there is one thing rarer than Mexican food in Japan it’s Root Beer. I threw back a cold one last night to wash down my “it’s still kind of my birthday, so it is okay to spend $30 on a pizza” pizza. I got myself some Lego Sets. Though not my birthday present, a tape of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report arrived the 21st from my parents along with a birthday card form my Grandparents. I am thinking that I will ask my parents to ship me Civilization IV. Thus, my life can officially grind to a halt. Is there any better way to start another year?