Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Through the Years





A big thanks to My Most Excellent Friend Kirstin, who was the photographer for most of these pictures, and who also provided the front door setting and created this Halloween tradition.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our Half-Term Break

Thing One and Thing Two (not to mention their mother) jammed a lot of fun into last week's half-term break.

* Attended the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards
* Went rock climbing
* Saw Ratatouille
* Braved the Dinosaur Museum
* Slurped some noodles at Wagamama
* Made Roman tiles at the Museum of London
* Admired the crack at the Tate Modern
* Attended the U.K. premiere of the Bee Movie

So when Thing Two arrived back at school this morning and was asked what he did over half-term, he cast his mind back over this wide variety of interesting and educational activities and replied,

"We went to Burger King!"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards: Searching for Us on TV

Live Blogging the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards: The Edited Product

It's 11 a.m. GMT and we're gathered around the hearth, I mean the TV, to see if we made the final cut of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.

McFly opened the proceedings. I don't know any of McFly's songs, but apparently they do a lot of covers, and I lucked out with the opening song, as it was a cover of "Pinball Wizard" by "The Who." So I could sing along and pretend as though I was a McFly fan.

You also will not be surprised to hear that there is a great deal of camera trickery involved, making the venue seem about three times bigger than it actually was.

Also, there's lots of kids in the front of the stage. The only reason that happened was because they announced at least a half dozen times, "Moms and Dads, please move to the back. The area around the stage is for KIDS ONLY."

Thing One and Thing Two are enjoying predicting the winners. Since we were there, that's not a hard thing to do.

The presenters and winners keep saying "This evening." I don't know why: we filmed in the afternoon, and they're broadcasting it in the morning. Maybe they want all the kids watching to be jealous of the kids who are there, thinking that they were allowed to stay up past their bedtime.

Emma Watson just won favourite actress. This was one of the few people who I (a) knew and (b) was genuinely excited about seeing. You can tell she's important, because the burly security guy is following pretty closely behind as she walks through the crowd. She looked amazing, too. Even the Fug Girls agreed.

McFly just won favourite band. I can't help but wonder if they only agreed to host the show if they won something. But given the recent phone-in voting scandal in Britain, and the fact that the Nickeldeon viewers voted on the winners, I doubt very much the good people at Nickelodeon would have tried some monkey business. Then again, you never know.

Shayne Ward went to pick up an award. I didn't know who he was, either. In my head, I was mixing him up with cricketer Shane Warne. Shayne Ward is a singer who's won X-Factor. Apparently. They also refer to him as the "Prince of Pop." Wasn't that Michael Jackson? (A quick Google check actually reveals that the Prince of Pop was Andy Warhol.)

Next Up: The Burping Contest. We might be on TV! Not for the burping, but because we were sitting next to the judge's table. (The fix was in, by the way. The producer told the H2O girls just before the bit, "Brian is the last one, OK?") Sadness. We weren't on TV! This was the one time I thought we might make it past the final edit.

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) now is there to present an award. Goodness, he is lovely in person! I guess all of that Harry Potter evil makes him look uglier than he actually is. Would I go to jail for lusting after Draco? Or will they make me join the Slytherin House?

McFly is back, and now everyone is magically waving Glo-Sticks over their heads. "Why didn't they show handing out the Glo-Sticks?" Thing One wants to know, because it is he who braved the scrum on the floor to secure one. "They did it during the break, but they edited it out," I explained. At this point in the filming, I sould point out, Thing Two was snuggling on my lap, hot, tired and completely disinterested in the proceedings.

The Slime Squad just made their appearance. I'm trying to see if you can see us running for the exits. You can't, but we were.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Surviving the Nickoledeon Kids Choice Awards. Or how I managed not to get slimed on Saturday afternoon.

Thing One and I were playing a highly competitive game of Monopoly Express on Saturday morning when a friend called. Were we doing anything that afternoon? Would we be interested in attending the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards?

Now although Nickelodeon and its younger sibling Nick Jr. are played semi-regularly in our house, I didn't know anything about the Kids Choice Awards. A dim light bulb went off in the back of my head, as did the words "green slime", but that was about all I knew about it. As it happens, we were free and so were the tickets, so I gladly accepted.

Once off the phone, I told Thing One and Thing Two where we were going, and much celebration ensued, because while I knew nothing about it, they knew all about it. "McFly!" they said. "McWho?" I asked.

Later that afternoon, as we made our way to the Excel Centre, I wistfully recalled the days when I was a journalist and living in Freebie Heaven: free books, free CDs, free videos, free dinners, free theater tickets, free you-name-it. The dosh was fantastic, and gratefully welcomed, given the paltry salary I was making at the time. Those days are long behind me now, though, so it was great to hitch another ride on the Freebie Express.

Once we got to the Excel, I fondly remembered the last time I went there: to pick up my London Marathon number in 2005. You could tell right away something exciting was happening-- large orange people on stilts wandered around the crowds, Nickoledeon staffers waited at the door waving foam fingers, and hundreds of excited children were making their way to the sound stage/awards ceremony.

We walked past the security checks, got our Kids Choice Awards Special Guest passes (though on that day we ALL were special) and slowly made our way to the stage area. The decorating theme was Nickoldeon Orange and it was EVERYWHERE. On the way to the sound stage, the good people at Nick also had set up several fun areas for the kids: a dance floor, pictures with Nickelodeon stars and video games. We skipped all of this, though, because we wanted to secure a good seat inside before the fun began, which was due to start in about 30 minutes. It was a good thing we went straight in, too, because we really had to hunt for a seat since so many parents had spread out coats to save seats for their offspring still in the fun area. We finally got a good spot, but only because a woman who had saved enough seats for about 10 people (she was only saving for three others), decided to let us take three of the spaces.

Then we waited, and passed the time by counting the number of cameras, monitors and Nickelodeon signs. Finally, the warm-up guy came out and got us all on our feet dancing and screaming. After he did his bit, he told us we were going to be live on TV that day. What he really meant to say is we were "Live to Tape" (a term I learned when I saw an Oprah show, years ago), meaning they were going to run the show as it it were live. However, if a McFly had trouble reading the AutoCue, which he did, it also meant they could do it again and fix the mistake in the edit suite.

We spent the next two and a half hours watching various Nickelodeon stars win awards (I think the fix was in). I started to play a little game with myself, predicting the winners based on who they said would be at the awards show in the introduction. I was quite successful. I suspect that Thing One's T-shirt might even make it on to TV, given that he was standing behind the stars of H2O while they did a comedy bit. (By the way, they don't ACTUALLY have fins. I checked.) Thing One was thrilled to see David Beckham win Best Sports Personality (oops! Spoiler!) and Thing Two was thrilled to see The Simpsons win Best Movie (oops! Another spoiler!).

The Grand Finale, for which the audience was warned several times, was the Great Sliming of the Audience. Neither Thing One nor Thing Two were so keen on this idea. One woman in the audience even had a shower cap on her head in preparation. Once the Great Sliming began, we ran for the exits. We ran so we wouldn't get slimed, but also because we wanted to get the Nickelodeon Goodie Bags before they ran out.

It was hot. It was loud. It was something else. But in the end, it was fun. We will be watching on Saturday morning to see if we're TV stars now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Harvest Time!

After months of watching, hoping and hardly any watering -- given that the skies took care of it for us this summer-- it was time to harvest our apple tree. As you can see from above, the yield was somewhat disappointing-- yes, we really only got three off our tree. (One fell off in the rain about two days before the harvest, and another was lost about a month ago).

So hardly enough for a pie, or even a small crumble. But the boys were thrilled. And it's possible we'll be able to double our output next year with just a little bit of work.