Saturday, July 19, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The order of the day was to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and then see what happened after that. I wanted to see it at the cinema, not on DVD. After waiting so long I had exactly one option open, Greater Onion Union at 11am. So I get there at about 10:30 and find the whole place in darkness and the doors locked. So I walked up to Safeway at QV to get something to drink and a packet of peanut m-m's.

When I arrived back at the Cinema it was about 10:45, the doors were still locked and the lights were still turned off. There was a couple sitting on a seat opposite the door and a guy sitting on the step. I sat down on the step too. Over the next 10 minutes a steady stream of people arrived. Eventually the lights went on and someone unlocked the doors. We all filed in and made a queue at the candy bar/box office.

I was the first one in the cinema and so had squatters rights on the best seat. I chose one 3/4 of the way towards the back dead centre. Everyone else that came in after me, only 5 or 6 people, (I think the rest were going to Momma Mia whic started at the same time) sat in the rear couple of rows. This is a big theatre by todays standards, straight out of the 70's with black vinyl seats, crimson red curtains and big glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I quite like it actually. There are no cup holders, but the seats are comfy. You just have pick one that hasn't split down a seam on the cushion. Cinema 1 at Russell Street is a national treasure.

Greater Union in Russell Street is where I usually go when I see a movie on my own. The reason? Because no one goes there. It's almost like a private screening. I don't really understand the stigma attached to people going to see a movie alone. What do you do? You go and sit in a dark room and watch a movie, that's it. It's not like you need someone to talk to. The first time I did it alone, I was quite apprehensive, since then I've been OK. Having said that I have only ever been to four films on my own (including today).

As to the film itself, I liked it. Indiana Jones got up to his old shenanigans, albeit after a shaky start. Harrison Ford is still Harrison Ford, playing Harrison Ford, predictable but good. He even threw in the classic line "I've got a bad feeling about this", a reference to the two Star Wars trilogies. The star of the show was without a doubt Cate Blanchett, who stole the show with her brilliant but cheesy Russian/Ukranian accent including all the "wubble u's".

Moving on in time from the original 3 films, the backdrop of the cold war made a brilliant raison d'ĂȘtre for the plot of the film (as opposed to Nazi Germany 20 years earlier). The action was fast paced, with never a boring moment, in fact the over 2 hours long film flew by. The special effects for the most part weren't noticeable, except for the really obviously physically impossible (in this dimension anyway) parts. The stunts were as you would expect from Indy. As usual there was a good assortment of creepy crawlies, but for some reason, fewer booby traps. The nice quick and tidy ending with the hint of a sequel(s) left me wanting more.

Overall I would give it 3.5 stars. Just good clean fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Out and about

Last week I had a day off work and while I was out and about doing un-work like things I happened to see Bumblebee 1. Bumblebee 1 is one of the 5 tram's that Yarra Trams has borrowed from it's sister company in Mulhouse, France. These 5 trams are Citadis trams like those already used in Melbourne, the main difference being that they are longer (5 segments as opposed to 3), have styling differences, and not to mention they are very VERY yellow. I think they look great, that yellow really stands out from the grey of Melbourne in winter, and the other grey trams. Two thumbs down to Yarra Trams for painting all the trams grey and white, one thumb up for sticking with the yellow on the borrowed trams.

Bumblebee 1 turning into Bourke Street from Spencer Street

After I had finished my business in town I had a few hours to kill so I decided to go for a train ride somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be Sunbury, so I boarded the 1515 service to Echuca. What impressed me was the utilisation of the rolling stock. It was a six car V/locity with three 2 car trains. At Sunbury the 2 rear carriages were dropped off, and a further 2 were to be dropped off at Bendigo, with the remaining 2 cars continuing on to Echuca. At each of the intermediate stations the cars that were dropped off were to form return services to Melbourne. Passengers were advised of which cars to travel in to reach their destination in numerous announcements throughout the journey. To me this seems like a brilliant use of rolling stock.

VLocities at Sunbury.

When I alighted at Sunbury I noticed that there were a large number of people standing in the aisles of the first 4 cars. There was another VLocitity waiting in the siding at the end of the platform that I gather was dropped off the previous Bendigo train. After waiting for a few minutes the Bendigo and Echuca portions continued on, and the two remaining sets coupled to form the return to Melbourne. Soon enough I was on my way in a very sparsely occupied 4 car set. In all there were probably about 5 people in the 2 car set I was in. On arrival back at Southern Cross this train formed a Traralgon service and there were many passengers waiting.

I guess my point is that I like the idea of using and dividing/joining multiple units to make the best use of rolling stock. While the return to Melbourne was void of passengers it was immediately used for a service to somewhere else where there was demand. Two thumbs up to V/Line.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Impressions of Eastlink

So on Sunday I went for a cruise down Eastlink to see what the fuss was about. The trouble was there were a lot of other insane people doing the same thing. There was a traffic jam just before the tunnel entrance (in both directions). I'm not sure what caused it, I suspect there was some sort of wave effect going on.

The verdict?

It's quick. Starting from the Eastern Freeway it gets you to the Frankston traffic jam way faster than taking Springvale Rd. All up it took us about 25-30 minutes end to end, and a total travel time of about 1.5 hrs Mornington to Greensborough (that includes 20-30 minutes stuck in the Frankston traffic jam).

One thing that I noticed is a weird resonance in the road that causes subtle vibrations that make your voice go wobbly if you go "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh". Probably a conspiracy with suspension/tyre manufacturers and fitters and or orthopaedic surgeons to increase business.

On the environmental front I noticed there was much landscaping involved, with several wetlands located along side the road and the Dandenong Creek. No doubt these were put in place to soak up any pollutants seeping into nearby waterways. As for noise pollution, they have installed noise barriers along much of the length of the road. These aren't your normal everyday concrete "stone henge gone mad" noise barriers. These are of the bright and colourful left overs from the 70s, see-through orange and green noise barriers. I'm sure some residents of Dandenong North now enjoy some of the most beautiful green sunsets you can see on earth.

Overall, I think if it is your business to drive around, then the $5ish one way toll would be worth it, both in time and fuel savings ... For now.

That said, I don't support the building of more motorways (free or toll) the money could have been better spent upgrading Melbourne's public transport network. Supposedly there is space in the median reserved for heavy and light rail, I won't be holding my breath. I also believe that room was reserved in all the entrance/exit ramps for bus stops, again, keep breathing. The bicycle path alongside is a token gesture.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Q. When is a toll road not a toll road?

A. When you ride a motorcycle apparently

I find it hard to swallow that today a large group of motorcycles is travelling along Eastlink in protest of the tolls for motorcycle use of the road. What don't they understand about the term toll road? Although they take up less road space than a car or truck they are still using the road, and should still pay to use the road.

This from a group that already gets free parking, and is largely immune to road congestion anyway.