Today’s Inktober prompt was “Hungry” while the Drawlloween prompt was “Tentacles” so my brain fused the two and came up with the idea to draw the Sarlacc. If you don’t know what the Sarlacc is then you and I can’t be friends. Just kidding. The Sarlacc is a carnivorous beast that lives in the Great Pit of Carkoon on Tatooine, the desert planet prominently featured in the Star Wars movies. Space Gangster Jabba the Hutt threw his enemies and those who displeased him into the pit where they would be gradually and painfully digested by the Sarlacc for a thousand years. The hungry Sarlacc has tentacles so – ta da! – I managed to fulfil two prompts in one drawing.
Today is my second son’s 11th birthday. One of the many things I love about my kids is that they get almost as excited for each other’s birthdays as they do for their own. They love to celebrate their brothers and to make each of their days special.
They always make each other personalised birthday cards and sometimes some other paper crafted gifts. This year, however, my 9 year old decided to get a bit more ambitious and make more elaborate presents for his big brother. The first thing he made – and which he decided to present in advance of the birthday – was a Vanishing Cabinet from the Harry Potter stories.
The second item took a lot longer to craft. He decided to put his new found love of sewing to the test by making an Ewok out of felt. He designed it and I showed him how to create the pattern for the pieces (a little bit of the blind leading the blind) and then he worked diligently and in secret for a few days in order to stitch it all together. I think he did a superb job, don’t you?
Fear ye not, you shall find no spoilers here. Furthermore, this is not a movie review blog. You are safe. Read on if you are so inclined.
So apparently along with much of the population, we Picts went to see ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ this weekend. My husband – the biggest Star Wars nerd in the family by far – had been tempted to do the seven movie marathon at our local cinema but then saw sense so we were all able to go and see if for the first time together. Tickets were pre-ordered, SW themed clothing was donned (except by me) and off we trotted to the cinema.
We arrived an hour early but even then we had to join a lengthy queue to get into our screen. We played Star Wars Top Trumps in the line in order to stave off any boredom and moaning. The atmosphere was lovely. Everyone was excited and was geeking out. A trio of young men in front of us were doing wookiee impressions. I loved that we were sharing this experience with our kids. My husband and I saw the original triology in the cinema when we were wee (I did not see the A New Hope on its original release, of course, since I was actually too wee) and they were a set of movies that stuck with us our entire lives. I loved the movies but am mostly a SW nerd by affiliation. My husband is a SW nut. Our kids were weaned onto SW at an early age. I have video of my second son, as a baby, being able to name SW characters. Of course, what we enthused about were the original triology. The prequels were astoundingly dismal. My husband and I still saw that trilogy in the cinema but we left disappointed every time.
I, therefore, went into the cinema feeling cynical about this new sequel but hopeful nevertheless; I left the cinema feeling relieved and entertained. It was a rollocking fun movie with soundly defined characters, solid performances, great set pieces, and enough references, mirroring and echoes of the original movies to make it part of a cohesive sequel and to satiate the nerdom of we SW fans. There was also an avoidance of exposition (something which made the prequels so snoresome) which in turn creates intrigue for the forthcoming movies. All six of us found lots to dissect, discuss and analyse once we were back in our car (having taken a vow of silence in the cinema lest we accidentally spoil it for someone overhearing us). Best of all, my concerns that my husband might need therapy if the new movie turned out to be rubbish were made irrelevant. All six Pict movie nerds were happy.
We just celebrated a milestone birthday in the Pict household as Mr Pict turned 40. Life might begin at 40 but Mr Pict’s birthday was all about looking backwards at fond favourites and long held obsessions that started in his youth. And the aphorism that you are only as old as you feel was underscored by the fact that every single one of his gifts was a tad juvenile. You definitely cannot be approaching middle-age, after all, when you have just received a Darth Vader mug, Big Hero 6 on bluray, a Predator Pop vinyl figure and – the piece de resistance – the Lego Death Star. Such joyful supping from the fountain of youth had him bowled over.
We had also all made something for our husband / father. Our middle two sons had created a toybox in their Disney Infinity video game. Mr Pict is fanatical about ancient Rome so they had built a Roman temple and they had also digitally constructed the words “Happy Birthday” and set up a fireworks display. Continuing on that theme, our oldest and youngest sons had created a little world on Minecraft that was inspired by ancient Rome. There was an elaborate temple, streets and houses, a colosseum full of fighting gladiators and hatches releasing funny creatures into the arena and lots of sculptures. As a computer and video gaming fan, Mr Pict was thoroughly impressed as well as being touched. My effort was a small watercolour of Yoda.
In keeping with the wholly juvenile theme of the day, we had a family outing to the cinema to see ‘Paddington’. Not only did we see a kid’s film but Paddington was a TV series that Mr Pict and I watched as kids so it had the vintage, retro, ’70s connection that was apt for the day too.
I have to tell you that we thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I confess that I went in with low expectations – having never particularly been a fan of the TV show or the Michael Bond books on which it was based – so it far exceeded my expectations. It was sweet without slipping into mawkishness, there were jokes pitched at adults as well as plenty of great slapstick and silliness for the kiddliwinks, the performances were on point and the whole thing was charming and warm. The curriculum vitae of the staff were littered with British institutions such as the Harry Potter series, Downton Abbey and Horrible Histories. Indeed, the whole thing was very British.
‘Paddington’ was set in a version of London that does not exist anywhere other than in a film studio, all twee and quaint and a little bit hip. There was the stiff-upper-lipped, buttoned-up father obsessed with rules, risk management and maintaining order – who of course had to learn to let loose and have fun – who is the mainstay of so many British movies and telly programmes. Probably no coincidence that he was portrayed by the same actor who plays the above-stairs patriarch in ‘Downton Abbey’ either. He was married to a woman who represented another British stereotype, that of the lovable eccentric. She was all bubbling emotion and energy with pleasingly clashing clothes in bright colours and with a creative job to boot. Paddington had to learn how to navigate British rules of behaviour and etiquette in addition to things like plumbing because Britons are all about etiquette, of course. There’s a nosy, interfering neighbour. There’s also the fondness for nostalgia, partly no doubt due to the source material being vintage but also because there’s a love of harking back to bygone eras in British cinema, so there was an allusion to wartime evacuees and child immigrants fleeing Hitler’s Germany in addition to the film somehow stylistically transcending eras so as to straddle the divide between contemporary Britain and the 1950s source material. There’s the Queen’s guard, obsessions with weather, tea, cab drivers, the hazards of the London Underground. And an immigrant, albeit a spectacled bear from Peru.
Anyway, it was all very well done. Engaging performances, well constructed set pieces, actual laugh out loud moments, verbal wit and visual comedy and some lovely moments of flair with the cinematography. So it was a great addition to the birthday schedule.
To spare me from cooking a complex meal, we decided to go out for dinner. This turned out to be a bad choice as it turned what was proving to be a fabulous birthday celebration into a curate’s egg. Our service started out indifferent and tardy and got worse from there. We waited an hour and forty minutes for our entrees to arrive at our table. By that time, the energy from our appetisers had worn off. The kids were getting cranky and very tired despite our having arrived early for dinner. And when my kids get cranky, my own tolerance and patience boils down into annoyance. No apology or explanation was offered for the delay. We could discern that there was no problem in the kitchen as one of the tables adjacent to us went through three covers in the time it took for our meals to arrive. Ridiculous. We asked to see the Manager who could also offer no explanation but who, by way of apology, waived the entire bill. That gesture was appreciated but we would prefer to have not had a wrecked evening out.
Since we got home so late from dinner, we decided to postpone the celebration cake until the next evening. It was a rich, chocolate confection of moist sponge and smooth, thick frosting that proved to be a massive hit with all concerned.
And that concluded the geekiest birthday of our lives so far.