Friday, May 17, 2013

Ralph Fiennes: From Quiz Show to Harry Potter

Queen Tuffett loaned me the movie Quiz Show recently, and as I watched it, I found myself totally mesmerized by Ralph Fiennes. Ralph Fiennes is the actor who plays Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies, but in Quiz Show, he's the handsome young protagonist.

My favorite screenshot:

Look at that smile! Look at those eyes! Isn't he just charming?

What are some other words for charming? I don't really like any of the options is giving me.

Click the image to make it bigger (it's totally worth it).

Ok, check this out. Here he is, looking handsome:

Aaaaaaaand, cue the charm:


Here are two of his more serious faces (look at those eyes!):

Ha, what a great expression.

Ok, moving on to Voldie.

When I think of Voldemort, I think of this:

I've always loved how Ralph Fiennes holds the wand in the movies. It's so refined, so elegant. Voldemort's classy. I mean, at least as far as evil dark wizards go.

Incidentally, you can still see Ralph Fiennes' great eyes in Voldemort, but only in a few scenes. You can, for example, see them here:

And here:

Now comes my favorite part: let's put them together! Side-by-side comparisons of Charles Van Doren (who was not nearly as handsome as Ralph Fiennes in real life) and Voldemort:

Aside from the completely different use of lighting and makeup, I love how different his smile is. As Charlie, he gives a real smile that goes all the way to his eyes. As Voldemort, the corners of his mouth tip down, not up, and his eyes remain wide open and menacing.

There's something in his nose too, or what would be his nose if Voldemort had a nose... Voldemort's sneering, not smiling.

This is the closest we get to a true smile from Voldemort, but it's still more of a grimace.

I'm just delighted at how well Ralph Fiennes portrays these two characters, who are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum of morality and affability. He does a great job. Also, Tom Riddle was allegedly bright and charming when he was younger, so Ralph Fiennes was a good pick for the role, in that he was indeed bright and charming in this earlier role. Oh, and he sings, too (see Prince of Egypt--he was Rameses).

I appreciate good talent.

The end.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph: Inside the Helmet

Towards the beginning of the movie (Wreck-It Ralph), Ralph puts on some sophisticated armor, and the audience gets a glimpse of the inside of his helmet, as if seeing the world through Ralph's eyes. The helmet shield is a jumble of information:

That's a bad picture, but watch it on the Blu-Ray and it's pretty clear.

There are plenty of dials and gauges in this view, and that's to be expected. You'll notice, too, that on the bottom right corner is part of a hidden Mickey (just his ears are poking up). This is a not-very-hidden hidden Mickey, as the Wreck-It Ralph website and Blu-Ray disc both divulged this information.

In the upper-right corner is a tic-tac-toe game that continues to be played throughout the shot.

On the right-hand side is a list of different systems and their statuses:


Each of these systems has the status of "Checking," which then changes to "Online". The GasSys goes Online almost immediately, then the others follow. ArmPlt could stand for Armor Plating, but it also looks like ArmPit, which is funnier than Armor Plating.

On the left-hand side of the screen is some scrolling text. These are apparently instant messages from members of the Hero's Duty game, namely Calhoun and Marco. Here's what I was able to make out:

Calhoun: Report in, Squad! Any of you ladybugs seen Markowski?
Marco: Golly, I haven't seen him since 03:00 hours, Sarge.
Calhoun: What is he doing? Practicing the ballet?
Marco: He was freaking out, Sarge. Kept going on about the bugs...
Marco: I don't know if he's Corps material, Ma'am.
Calhoun: Corps material or not, if he doesn't get his bright, shiny boots back to start pose by quarter drop, I'll have him transferred to Undead Apocalypse slathered in meat tenderizer.

The visor also lists 190,499 unread messages, though other sites are listing it as 790,499, so maybe I misread that.

I've only found one other hidden Mickey so far (aside from the ones they pointed out on the Blu-Ray), but I will save that for another day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Shot by a woman"

I volunteer at the Utah State Archives, and lately I've been working with old death registers. I read the various causes of death as I go along in my work, and I've found some entries worth sharing. Here, from the Record of Dead book, are some of the more interesting causes of death:
  • "Shot by a woman"
    This is funny because there are other instances of death by shooting, but they mostly just say "gun wound" or "accidentally shot" or something like that. But being shot by a woman, now that's something worth noting! ;o)
  • "Information of bowels"
    Of course they meant "inflammation of bowels," but "information of bowels" makes me chuckle.
  • "Sufferation"
    It's not in today's dictionary, but this word is pretty descriptive, don't you think?
  • "Drank lye"
    This one is sad. It was a 19-month-old baby.
  • "Fell from high chair"
    Another sad one. The kid was 14 months old. It seems such a dumb way to die, from such a small thing as falling off your (high)chair.
  • "Shot by Jack Cole"
    I don't know who Jack Cole was, but apparently he was worth mentioning. He wasn't even a woman, either. Or maybe he was; it didn't state specifically...
  • "Shot in Indian War"
    For real!
  • "Shot by RR officer"
    RR means railroad. I saw a handful of these actually, people who were shot by railroad officers. I want to know what the heck the railroad officer was doing shooting people, and what these people did to provoke the officers.
  • "Improper food"
    This was a 4-year-old. I wonder what he ate, if it was food poisoning or something.
  • "Basil skull fracture"
    I had no idea cooking could be so dangerous...
And my all-time favorite:
  • "Femal [sic] weakness"
    The woman was aged 49, so was it menopause? Was it related to "woman troubles"? Or was the recorder indicating that the woman could have survived, had she been a man? Makes me curious.
There were also a couple of factually questionable entries, such as the person whose recorded date of death was 31 June 1889, or the record for the person who was born in September 1887, but died 26 August 1887*.

Most of the entries were more ordinary: dysentery, stillborn, natural causes, diphtheria, bronchitis, accidental death, lingering illness, pneumonia, childbirth, etc. Thank heavens most of these things are treatable now, and not an automatic bill of death.

*Actually, I can see how this would be possible if the baby died in the womb and the doctor discovered the death using a stethoscope... so I guess that's not as odd as I thought. But the cause of death was pneumonia (with "sick from birth" crossed off), so it's more likely there was just an error somewhere in the record-keeping.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Nephew Is A Lego Genius: Hogwarts Express

Some weeks ago, I visited Tuffett Manor, and I brought along a small Lego set (unbuilt) of the Hogwarts Express. It's a fun little locomotive, and Prince Tuffett constructed it entirely on his own (with instructions, since I brought them). Prince Tuffett played with the train, then I brought it home with me when I left.

The next day, Queen Tuffett sent me pictures of a locomotive that Prince Tuffett had made using his own Lego pieces. In case you don't remember, Prince Tuffett is 6 years old.


Prince Tuffett version:


Prince Tuffett:

Note the antenna sticking out the front, as well as the round disc behind it. These are ideas lifted (most likely) from set 4841, which Prince Tuffett owns, of the Hogwarts Express:


Prince Tuffett:

Keep in mind that Prince Tuffett did this completely from memory. I love how he left a little space for the conductor, and didn't just make the back of the locomotive one solid block.


Prince Tuffett:

Queen Tuffett also pointed out her favorite parts, which included the blue stripe and the clear plate which serves as a window:

The blue stripe is a nod (I think) to the blue Weasley car, the Ford Anglia, which is included in set 4841.

Look at that shape! Look at those wheels! He even used some of the same pieces. Once again, Prince Tuffett did an exceptional job capturing the essence of the original build, and I am as proud as I can be of my adorable and clever nephew. Isn't he fantastic?

I think my awe of Prince Tuffett's skill is also influenced by my own childhood experience. When I was a kid, like age 10 or so, all I could ever think to build was a building made of 4 walls, with no doors and no windows. Then again, we only had one size of building bricks, and they weren't Lego brand, either. Maybe with the proper tools, I could've been a Lego whiz too...