Iz.I.Am

photoIz has been enjoying playing The Voice app, I say playing, she basically likes pressing it all the time, even before they sing a single note.

She’s like the anti-Will.I.Am, rather than waiting until the last possible moment she is in there as fast as she can.

Unsurprisingly her team filled up very quickly, only time will tell if there is method in her maddening fastest finger first strategy.

I guess she is just seeing the positive in everyone, one person she appears to see the positive in is Ricky Wilson, I think she and Sarah would press for him every time if they could.

Iz is as likely to turn for liking their clothes as she is for their singing ability, for example this evening she merrily pressed her turn button after liking a male contestants earrings.

If Iz turn, turn, turned anymore she’d be a member of The Byrds. No doubt Tom Jones has met them as well!

The Amazing Spider-Dog

download (1)So, Spidey is getting a(nother) reboot and is crossing over into the Marvel universe with Captain America and Iron Man in Civil War.

That certainly gets the spider-sense tingling and it also looks like it’s goodnight Andrew Garfield. So who next?

Well Garfield may have played Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, but this time it could be less of a cat-namesake (tenuous lasagna loving cat reference) and more of a canine one vieing for the role, sort of.

You can forget Spider-Pig, bid farewell Krypto the superdog and utter goodbyes to Underdog (loved the poster though)…there is a new super mutt in town!

Turns out Missy has taken a liking to my Spider-Man dressing gown (alas it comes minus web slingers), so I guess if she’s Spider-Dog then her alter ego must be Peter Barker?

img_1608Not sure there is much need for a superhero dog that can sleep all day (she’s like a cat dog so perhaps she is more mutant superhero) and sense cheese being opened miles away though!

Like Superman she has her Achilles heel in the form of a bark button – touch a certain part of her back and watch her go – and chocolate. She once searched and destroyed two regular Lindt chocolate bunnies (they were only identifiable  from their remaining bells) which saw her turn the shade of the Green Goblin.

photoStill, she’ll always be a superdog to Isabelle, especially with Iz in her head essentially being Penny and Missy as Bolt,  from the film of the same name.

You can hear her now asking Missy to Bolt bark (back to that bark button again) or giving her the command to zoom zoom when she is on her scooter. But most of all, just like Penny and Bolt, they are best of friends and always have been.

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The Eager Sanction

Isabelle has always had something of a glint in her eye, today she has something of a Clint in her eye, echoing Eastwood’s mountain climbing role in 70s thriller The Eiger Sanction.

photo (1)It was the first time she had wanted to ‘bring on the wall’  which she took to scaling with no bother at all at The Fun Factory.

She was like Fred Ward in Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous when he scales the scaffold-laden Statue of Liberty with the speed she made her ascent, next week she’ll be trying the whole running on water trick.

Although I don’t think she does too bad a Nicholas Hammond era Spider-Man impression either.

photo - Copy spider-man-672x372It’s all a far cry from when my and my brother were little and took a whole morning to ‘climb’ the stairs, complete with packed lunch, numerous slips for dramatic tension and the odd avalanche of our cuddly toys (big dog and donkey were so big they if they hit you right they’d sweep you to the bottom of the stairs aka certain death). Think Touching the Void with toys.

Perhaps Iz and I will spend an evening traversing our stairs one day after school, we’ll probably have mountain goat Missy along for the ride as well.

Booked to the Future

2015, okay so the self-lacing trainers aren’t with us yet, nor is Jaws 19 or those shocking pink hoverboards, but this year doesn’t just mark the year that Back to the Future Part 2 ‘happens’ it also marks the 30th anniversary of the original. Talk about heavy!

bttf_einstein_019It doesn’t seem five minutes, never mind five years since we were celebrating 25 years of the original Robert Zemeckis classic, yet here we are. What was great then was that I was able to complete my original quad cinema movie poster collection with the re-release poster joining the original release Parts 2 and 3 posters which, like the films themselves, neatly riffed on the iconic original.

The 25th anniversary also saw the film head back into cinemas for a limited time, all cleaned up and looking amazing on the big screen, I’d missed it during its original run and caught it for the first time when it premiered on TV at Christmas and from the wall of ticking clocks was hooked.

marty-mcfly-johnny-b-goodeSeeing it on the big screen after so many years of it on the small screen was a complete revelation and you really haven’t seen films like Back to the Future until you’ve seen them on the big screen, read my original 25th anniversary Back to the Future review here, but for the 30th anniversary we are going back…back to an even bigger experience.

This time we are heading to the Royal Albert Hall for a screening with a live orchestra playing the fantastically rousing Alan Silvestri score as the film unfolds, merging performance and cinema, and for me, delivering a far more vivid experience than the likes of the secret cinema offerings last year.

The Royal Albert Hall experience is part of a wider cinematic music bill, which also sees the venue play host to live performances and screenings of The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Titanic, the latter conducted by composer James Horner.

20130306-005558It will be our first time to the Royal Albert Hall, which will be amazing in itself but the real treat will be when on that screen we see the vastness of space give way to the rotating Universal globe as Steven Spielberg presents a Robert Zemeckis film…and the ticking clocks begin as we await the conductor’s  baton to be raised.

It’s hip to be rectangle

It may have only been a freebie gift that she got on the front of her Disney Princess magazine but Iz loves her new found tablet-inspired drawing pad.

She practically takes it everywhere with her and is constantly doodling or writing her name on the plastic – I think the 3 as an s is adorable and could be like her will.i.am – that with a flick is clear again.

No mess, no fuss and perfect for a little girl finding her writing and drawing feet.

This morning on the way to school Iz drew a magnificent rectangle, which she proudly announced in the back of the car.

I was suitably impressed that she had gone for the more complicated – for a four year old – rectangle over the simplicity of the square.

She then turned it portrait and said, this way up it’s a door and then turned it sideway, I interjected with, is that a window?

No, came the reply, it’s a chocolate bar!

I guess I must take some blame for that answer.

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The day I met Kris Kringle – remembering Richard Attenborough

I’d always loved the original Miracle on 34th Street, starring Edmund Gwenn, the only actor to ever receive an Oscar for playing Santa, and a young Natalie Wood.

In 1994 I was thrilled then to discover that it was getting the remake treatment for a whole new generation, this time with the loveable Lord Attenborough in the red suit and in the dock, little did I know that only a few years later I would get to meet and chat to Kris Kringle in person…

It’s more than fair to say that I was in awe of Lord Attenborough when I was lucky enough to meet and chat to him for ten minutes almost 15 years ago.

It was the year 2000 and by then, to most of the students he was there to see, he was either John Hammond, the eccentric gent behind Jurassic Park (1993) or Kris Kringle in the John Hughes penned remake of Miracle on 34th Street (1994).

I knew more, knew of the huge breadth of roles, the impressive body of directorial work and was genuinely thrilled to be able to have an audience with this great man whose sprightliness defied his then 75 years, who was warm and happy to listen to my appreciation of his work, mentioning how much I had enjoyed both Chaplin (which I was pleased about as it didn’t do very well at the box office), A Bridge Too Far (one of my favourite war films) and his delightful performance in Miracle on 34th Street.

Dickie_CMYK_print_300dpi (1)It turns out that he is pretty much Kris Kringle, that was certainly my lasting impression when I met him, not just in look (sporting white beard of course) but also in his calming and caring manner where, when he spoke to you it was as if you were at the very centre of his universe and he hung on every word that you said. To him it was almost as if you were the important part of the conversation.

Outside of family pictures the photo of me and ‘Dickie’ is probably one of my most treasured and although that brief encounter happened over 15 years ago it is still as clear as if it only happened yesterday.

Throughout all his personas, whether that be on screen or behind the lens, I practically grew up with Attenborough, whether that be his still mesmerising and iconic turn in Brighton Rock, his supporting roles in The Great Escape (1963) – and I really did think he had gotten away with it, back alongside Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles (1967) and in best supporting actor oscar nominated mode in Dr Dolittle (1968).

He stepped behind the camera the following year for ‘Oh, What a Lovely War’, in what you could say was the start of his love to explore what you could call the ‘modern historical’. Arguably this covers everything from ‘Young Winston’, ‘A Bridge Too Far’, ‘Cry Freedom’, ‘Chaplin’, ‘Shadowlands’ and ‘In Love and War’.

His cinematic pinnacle came with Gandhi, which won eight Academy Awards, storming the box office and was 20 years in the making for Attenborough.

You could almost argue that everything else that he directed was a practice run, from the historical figure biopic of Young Winston, to the epicness of A Bridge Too Far to the social commentary of Oh, What A Lovely War.

Even the off the beaten track Magic, the tale of a possessed ventriloquist’s doll, was done to help raise funds for bankrolling Gandhi, the same reason Attenborough cropped up in John Wayne’s Dirty Harry-lite London set Brannigan.

Clearly, and why not, he was taking a leaf from fellow luvvie and Oh, What a Lovely War actor, Laurence Olivier, and taking some jobs just for the money. The hard work and effort obviously paid off, on both a professional and personal level, bagging two of Gandhi’s eight Oscars for his producing and directing duties.

Attenborough was held in such high regard by fellow filmmakers and directors, he has long been a lynchpin of the British film industry and is credited with introducing independent in the UK and has been a passionate supporter of the next generation, both behind and in front of the screen. And that was the reason I met him at Ravensbourne, he was there supporting the next gen of people in television.

It was Steven Spielberg that managed to coax Attenborough out of acting retirement for Jurassic Park, the director said: “He was the perfect ringmaster to bring dinosaurs back to life.” All of which just shows in what high regard he was held by everybody that he met and that he had a positive impact on.

Fittingly his roles in both Jurassic Park and Miracle on 34th Street capture the essence of the man I was lucky enough to meet on that sunny June day, his sense of wonder and magical glint in his eye. Even today I can still feel the moment he put his arm on my shoulder, he could have just simply shook my hand and stood next to me, but that small and simple action seems to just sum him up so much and all that he stood for and I’ll never forget it.

The Cow-lar Express

photo - Copy (5)For some reason Iz decided that she wanted to join me taking Missy for a walk  Iz’s only stipulation that she was wearing the cow onesie – ears and all – that she wore as part of her first ever school nativity.

She was certainly a blur of black and white fur as she weaved  up and down the pavement with her cow tail swishing begin her.

I guess it’s not every evening that you see a cow hurtling by on a pink scooter through Westcliff on a chilly Sunday evening, but she did it with such style and grace.

photo - Copy (4)Perhaps next year they’ll all be doing the Nativity on scooters, think of it as the North Starlight Express.

Cowabunga!

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