Log in

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010, 04:54 pm
Spring! Games, gardens and chocolate.

Spring! It's nice. Here are some nice things about spring so far, though I see that miss_newham has covered most of them already...


You know the V&A Lates, where once a month the V&A is open late in the evening and different things happen? March's Late was themed around games, I curated it with Lizzie from the V&A, and gosh, that was good fun. We got four and a half thousand people (!), which was fifteen hundred more than we'd expected, so it was pretty busy - sorry if you came and didn't get to play anything! But, but, a giant pass the parcel filled with feathers and paper cranes and moustaches! Works of art recreated using huge brightly-coloured cardboard shapes! Fifty two-foot balloons with LEDs in them, and a scavenger hunt where people tried to win string in order to make their balloon fly highest! Football penalty shots as taken by someone viewing themselves in the third person via a camera streaming video into visors! A stealth forty-person choir! And, oh, lots of other things.

The night before I dreamt that all the games had been cancelled and replaced with an interactive art installation named Plieby, which was a pair of pliers with a face that you could talk to; but fortunately that turned out not to be the case.


Our garden is getting pretty ridiculous, all daffodils and chirping tiny birds. On Sunday there was a squirrel eating spaghetti, and a wren. Between them my housemates have covered pots with wire, and sown bulbs, and planted potatoes and strawberries and kept them safe from predators, and made early-morning trips to Homebase, and chosen flowers that will attract cheery bees, and learnt how to prepare raisins for picky blackbirds, and mashed up moss with buttermilk and painted it on the walls of the shed (apparently it will stop looking like bird poo soon). My entire contribution to the increasing loveliness has consisted of going "hey, let's paint some more terracotta pots", which have since been filled (by Kevan) with lilacs (bought and tended by Jo).

On Easter Sunday we had:
  • Egg-rolling, which we didn't really know the rules to, and there aren't technically many big hills in Battersea Park, but still! It all worked out in the end, except the bit where I came last.
  • A contest where we tried to eat hot cross buns as they dangled from strings, as suggested to us by archive footage of Hackney during the Silver Jubilee. I won this one, getting my bun down to a mere thirteen grams before it fell from the string! There is no documentary evidence of this, however, as it turns out that pretty much the most unflattering way to take a picture of someone is to do it while they're involved in a bun-from-a-string competition.
We also watched Easter Parade, with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, which its cover claims is "the happiest musical ever made". In actual fact (SPOILERS!) it is not the happiest musical ever made, but on the plus side, it is one of those musicals where all the songs were written for completely different musicals and they've been jammed together apparently at random - in this case, 17 songs, in fact, which in a 99 minute movie leaves relatively little time to explain who anyone is, why they're singing at all, what they want, etc. This means we get situations like: 
  • FRED is trying to buy presents for his girlfriend, as it is EASTER and apparently that's what you do at easter. He goes into a shop to buy a rabbit, but oh no! A small boy has just grabbed the last rabbit! Fortunately there are a lot of drums in the shop, allowing Fred to sing that he is "Drum Crazy" until the small boy is distracted by the drums, and Fred runs off with the rabbit.
  • JUDY has left a shop, but oh no, it's raining! Fortunately SECONDARY MALE LEAD is nearby, and falls for her instantly based on her hat, and there's an umbrella nearby which he grabs, allowing him to sing that he is "A Fella With An Umbrella" while walking Judy to her next appointment.
  • Also every now and again it's arbitrarily EASTER again, so that they can keep singing "Easter Parade".
Also: Kew, a puzzling artwork made from crisp packets, and a tubewalk through the suburbiest place I think I have ever been, where I just missed seeing a man carrying a pig. So, yes, well done so far spring, and the lilacs aren't even out yet.

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)

Wow, those games do sound amazing. Plieby just made me laugh a lot.

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)

JUDY has left a shop, but oh no, it's raining! Fortunately SECONDARY MALE LEAD is nearby, and falls for her instantly based on her hat, and there's an umbrella nearby which he grabs, allowing him to sing that he is "A Fella With An Umbrella" while walking Judy to her next appointment.

That sounds... remarkably familiar, actually. Were the screenwriters ripping off Leave it to Psmith?

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there wasn't enough wiggle room in the script for them to rip off anyone at all. They just needed to get from "song about Michigan" to "song about a hat" to "song about an umbrella" to "song about a piano" etc as quickly as they possibly could...

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)

Well, perhaps lifting a little from Wodehouse was the quickest way to get from "song about a hat" to "song about an umbrella." On the other hand, perhaps "man falls in love at first sight with woman wearing elegant hat who is about to get rained on and steals an umbrella for her" is just one of those universal, archetypal plot points floating about in the collective unconscious of all romantic comedians.

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)

He doesn't technically steal it, in this one! Just... buys it quite forcefully. And it's very, very large (from a fruit cart), unlike Psmith's - but on the other hand that might just be because it's pretty hard to film two people under a small umbrella.

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)

Oh, dear. Not only did they steal it, they got it all wrong!

Tue, Apr. 6th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)

WOW that V&A Late sounds like the most amazing thing ever!!

Edited at 2010-04-06 08:05 pm (UTC)

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)

Thanks - it was pretty great! And good fun going home afterwards and recognising people who had been there by the paper moustaches they were wearing...

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)

I don't understand how this bun-on-a-string game works; when is it considered over? What's to stop you eating it down to the point at which it begins to get unstable and then taking the remainder in a single bite so as to score zero grams?

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 08:05 am (UTC)

I don't know the actual rules, but we played it as a race to eat the entire bun, with the weight of the remaining, fallen bun just being a tie-breaker if nobody managed to eat the whole thing.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)

Another important point is of course that hands were not allowed.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)

Mm, no-hands was clear, the speed-race makes the gram-measure tiebreaker on failure make sense. So you didn't really win, you just lost least!

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)

So what is the happiest musical ever made?

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 10:05 am (UTC)

I haven't watched all the world's musicals, so I'm not sure which is happiest, but we concluded that at the very least, Singin' in the Rain is happier. Though I suppose Easter Parade is earlier, so that doesn't prove that its tagline was wrong at the time of release.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)

I was going to say Singin' in the Rain, but they are quite cruel to the actress with the unrefined accent.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)

Oh, yes, whereas in this one they are mostly quite nice about the Rival For Our Hero's Affections. Mary Poppins is mostly quite happy, if I remember correctly, but she does leave at the end. Hmm.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)

What about one of the High School musicals?

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)

The HSMs are pretty full of angst and turmoil. It all turns out okay in the end, but there's lots of looking sad, or jumping off cliffs because of how VERY CONFLICTED you are, or of whole corridors revolving with the power of teen misery and confusion.

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)

NOOOO! If I may wheel Mark Kermode in at this point, "Mary Poppins is about a family in crisis"! The father doesn't understand his wife, neglects his children and faces financial ruin, and the 'Feed The Birds' song makes me weep!

I've now remembered that the Judy Garland film where everyone is cheerful all the time is Meet Me In St. Louis, but that was so cheerful it became irritating.