Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

The Phantom of the Opera

My favourite musical is probably The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I’ve listened to the orginal CD recording countless times, visited the German production in Hamburg with my mother many years ago and saw the movie in the cinema and on DVD.

Last Saturday Silke and I went to London with two friends from Germany. This trip was only possible thanks to Andy and Michelle who kindly offered to watch our puppy Vader for the day. The highlight of our visit was clearly watching The Phantom of the Opera life on stage. This musical is still shown at Her Majesty’s Theatre where it has been running continuously since it first opened in 1986.

The show was absolutely brilliant all the way from the first note of the overture to the great finale. I was especially impressed by Gina Beck who played Christine Daaé. She has a truly amazing voice and her rendition of the song The Phantom of the Opera was probably the best I’ve heard since Sarah Brightman’s performance on the original CD recording.

It was a truly unforgettable evening for all of us. And I’m looking forward to the next musical that we will enjoy life on stage.

Game of the Month: Assassin’s Creed II

As I already liked its prequel I was looking forward to the release of Assassin’s Creed II. It continues the story of Desmond Miles who got involved in a war between two secret organisations, the Assassins and the Templars. Once again Desmond uses a machine called the Animus to relive the memories of one of his ancestors.

The basic course of the game hasn’t changed since the first game. You control a character who moves in a three dimensional landscape resembling historic sites. This time the story line takes you to Italy in the late 15th century where you guide an assassin going by the name of Ezio Auditore during his search for the murderers of his father and brothers.

The game retained all the advantages of its prequel:

  1. Brilliant graphics, especially the virtual Venice is worth seeing.
  2. Cities full of people who socially interact with your character.
  3. A fighting system well-balanced between challenge and fairness.
  4. A fascinating storyline.

The designers also got rid of the annoying parts:

  1. No more investigation phases to unlock main missions.
  2. Collecting flags is (mostly) gone.
  3. No tedious horse riding through a landscape full of aggressive, respawning soldiers.
  4. The interruptions by the plot taking place in the present time are less frequent and less irritating.

New elements make the game even more interesting:

  1. The goal of the main missions vary to some degree. Dispatching an enemy is often not good enough. You e.g. need to follow him to a secret meeting without being discovered first.
  2. Treasure hunts in dungeons which require expert climbing and careful jumping pay homage to Tomb Raider.
  3. Running the Auditore family’s countryside villa introduces an admittedly very simple economic simulation into the game.
  4. The ability to buy weapons, armour and other equipment or get extra training for money adds elements of a role-playing game.

All in all Assassin’s Creed II provides hours of fun with just the right level of difficulty accompanied by an entertaining story. I’m already looking forward to the third part of the series.

Movie of the Week: Law Abiding Citizen

The justice systems is sometimes hard to comprehend. Criminals walk free, politicians don’t even get charged with anything and people downloading music from the Internet are treated like dangerous criminals.

Law Abiding Citizen tells the story of a man who feels betrayed by the justice system after the murderer of his wife and daughter walks free due to a deal with the district attorney. He takes justice in his own hands and doesn’t only go after the criminals but also after the people who failed to prosecute the culprits.

The movie is a well done thriller. The main character Clyde Shelton is terrifying and likeable at the same time, hero and villain in one person. Gerard Butler‘s performance in this role is excellent. He manages to engage sympathy for a stone-cold killer.

If you like a good thriller with action and an original story you don’t to want miss Law Abiding Citizen.