Harry Potter Studio Tour!

When we visited London in December, E got tickets for us to go to the Warner Brothers Studio – The Making of Harry Potter tour! The Harry Potter books and films were very important to our family, so we were thrilled to be able to go. We went on a weekday when our son-in-law had to be at work, so we were a party of five – my spouse B, our daughters E and T, our granddaughter ABC, and me. E was the only one who had been there before.

The Studios are outside London, so we needed to use trains and buses to get there. The last segment is on special studio buses. One of the first things you see after entering is a very large dragon in flight. We weren’t sure how ABC, at two and a half, would react to such things, but she loves dinosaurs and accepted dragons as a dinosaur-variant. (T is holding ABC in the foreground.)
HP flying dragon

Because so many people visit, the start times of the tour are staggered throughout the day. There are some introductory remarks from tour guides and a short film before your group is ushered into the Great Hall. Because we were there in December, everything was decorated for Christmas, including, of course, Christmas crackers at each place at the table.
Great Hall

You can see little details of the set, like the tree-toppers with flying witches…
HP XMas tree-topper

and the wreath around the crest on the fireplace.
Great Hall fireplace

After the Great Hall, the rest of the tour is self-guided, laid out in a uni-directional way. There are lots of sets, like Harry’s Gryffindor bedroom,
Harry's bedroom

costumes, like these from the Yule Ball,
HP costumes Yule Ball

and props, like this display of wands.
HP wands

There were certain displays that ABC did not like, such as these disembodied hairpieces.
HP wigs

Sometimes, context mattered. For example, we rushed ABC out of the dark Forbidden Forest Set with its spiders because she was not a fan, but, later, when we saw the huge model of Aragog, Hagrid’s former pet giant spider, which was several meters wide, mounted on a wall, ABC decided to sing “The Eensy, Weensy Spider” to it.

As a big fan of trains, ABC enjoyed the Hogwarts Express.
Hogwart's Express

Even better, we got to walk through the train cars!
Ada on the Hogwart's Express

For some reason, I had to rush ABC through the grand Gringotts Bank set, because she did not approve.
Gringotts

The destroyed Gringotts was much more to her liking! She insisted on watching the scene multiple times. It must have been the attraction of the dragon…

The last part of the display before the obligatory exit-through-the giftshop was the model of Hogwarts used for the external shots. ABC was a big fan!
J and Ada at Hogwarts model

It was a beautiful model. Because it was winter, we got to see it with snow which made it look even more magical!
Hogwarts model

We all had a lovely time. I hope we will be able to visit again in the coming years. It will be fun to see how ABC reacts over time. Warner Brothers also continues to add new displays, as well as having various limited time features, so there will be new things to see each time.

Eventually, ABC – and any future siblings – will be able to read the Harry Potter books and see the films. Perhaps, E and L will embark on our family tradition of reading each book aloud as a family.

Maybe, B and I will be able to join in via videochat…

JC Confessions #6

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I am mostly oblivious to pop culture. If I read the Grammy nominations, chances are I don’t know any of the songs and haven’t heard of the majority of the artists. I haven’t ever seen Titanic or Avatar or Jurassic movies or the vast majority of superhero movies. I don’t stream and binge watch series from Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and I don’t have premium television packages, which means that I also haven’t seen many of the shows nominated for Emmys, although I think it is good that I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale because I would probably have nightmares. I don’t watch collegiate or professional sports, except an occasional baseball game. I don’t vacation at theme parks.

I am involved with a few popular things, the most notable being the Harry Potter books and movies. For the most part, though, if you want to discuss a pop culture topic with me, you’ll likely have to explain it to me first.

Some people might say that I am elitist and they are entitled to that opinion. I would like to say in my defense that I grew up in a tiny town in New England, have never lived in a large city, and have never had a high-powered career. Even though I am now a poet, I am a community-educated one and most people find my poetry accessible rather than esoteric. But, the fact remains that I am a poet, so maybe I am guilty as charged…

SoCS: Oscars

Because the Oscars, the film Academy awards, are this weekend, yesterday on the radio I heard two film critics discussing the nominees. It was also a call-in show, so there was a host and callers offering opinions, too.

I usually do watch the Oscars, but this year I have seen very few movies, so I don’t have any basis to have an opinion about who should win.

Some years, I have seen more of the films, although some films are never shown in my area. We aren’t a big metropolitan area and our only arthouse movie theater closed, so we don’t get the opportunity to see some of the more limited release movies.

One thing that was interesting was that there was very little that both critics and callers agreed on. I remember especially the discussion of Roma. Two callers and one of the critics found it very moving and meaningful and the other critic thought it was boring. Being a critic, he had watched it three times, trying to see if there was something he was missing, but he never found it.

If even critics, who watch movies for a living, can’t agree on a film, there is no way I can predict anything about the Oscars. I will likely still watch. If nothing else, I will get to hear performances of the nominated songs and see lots of spiffy clothes.

Do you watch the Oscars or have any predictions to give?
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “critic(al).” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/02/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-23-19/

Incredibles 2

B and I finally carved out time to see Incredibles 2, the long-awaited sequel to one of our favorite Pixar movies. I’ll try not to have spoilers in this piece, although, with world-wide box office receipts around a billion dollars, there are probably not many people left to spoil.

Like all Pixar features, Incredible 2 is preceded by a short; Bao, written and directed by Domee Shi, is the first Pixar short to be directed by a woman. It covers decades of family life in a few short minutes in a rich, culturally significant context. I would not have imagined an animated dumpling could be so adorable!

Incredibles 2, like the original film, is also built around family life. Superheroes with special powers still have to deal with adolescent angst, homework help, division of paid and unpaid work, and child care and rearing. Because we have had grandbaby ABC living with us for most of her almost fourteen months, I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Incredible baby Jack-Jack, who is still very much a baby in his behavior, movements, and reactions, superpowered or not.

I also appreciated the themes of the use/misuse of media and celebrity. Although the script must have been written years ago, these issues are especially salient right now.

As always, I recommend staying for the credits. While there is no bonus scene, there is a great medley of superhero theme songs. I especially enjoyed Elastigirl’s.

 

Shout! Shout! My 2 Year Blog Birthday! Let It All Out!!!

It’s D. Parker’s two-year blogaversary! Check it out!

yadadarcyyada

1funny652It’s been 2 years since I started blogging and I feel like I’ve won the lottery…accept without any of the money, so yeah, I’d still like to win an actual lottery.

I’m so thankful for your support, likes, comments, shares, advice, encouragement, comfort, and more. I’m also thrilled and privileged to be able to read and view your works. Thank you all.

So come on, I’m talkin’ to you, help me Shout! Shout! Let it all out to celebrate my 2 year blog birthday by leaving your blog address or a link to a post in the comment section below…please!

1funny545

Now to play catch-up. I’ve fallen behind on my Changes for Happiness project, not the doing, just the writing about it. Will a weak, ‘it’s been hot’ explain the lapse?

Here’s the first 5 weeks:
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/06/03/dont-worry-be-happy/
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/06/09/to-blog-or-not-to-blog/
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/06/15/rock-me-amadeus/
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/06/25/in-my-life-i-loved-them-all/
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/07/03/how-to-be-good-to-one-another/

Week 6

1. What happens at Costco stays at

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May Day – of Ultron?

Today is May first. May Day in the Northern Hemisphere is often celebrated as a spring festival and later came to be a day to celebrate labor.  It’s not a holiday from work in the United States, but my husband B decided to take it off this year because he is working in conjunction with colleagues in India and Germany who do observe May Day as a holiday and because it is his anniversary of beginning work with his current employer. Twenty-six years – but who’s counting?

It is also the opening day for the newest Avengers movie – Age of Ultron.  I asked if he would like to go to the movies this morning, so we went to the 2D showing at 9:45 this morning.  Neither of us are fans of 3D movies, which tend to cause unpleasant side effects, such as nausea.

I am not going to attempt a review. I am neither a comic book person nor an action movie fan, although B gave me enough of a primer to understand the set-up for the movie. I have also seen snatches of various Marvel movies and television shows – I swear Captain America’s origin story movie has been on television a dozen times lately – which I only vaguely pay attention to while I’m working or playing on my Chromebook.

So, yes, the movie has lots of flying, throwing things, and battling. Fortunately, fantasy violence doesn’t disturb me in the way that realistic violence does and the rating was only PG-13, so not too much carnage.

The important thing was that I got to be there with B in the posh reclining love-seats at the theater, holding hands.

Everything is awesome!

I have a confession to make.  I really like The Lego Movie!  I realize as a 50-something-year-old woman, I am not the demographic group that was targeted, but every time we saw a preview for it, B and I were always laughing, so we went to see it when it was in theaters and both enjoyed it.

I have been known to break into a chorus of “Everything Is Awesome” now and then.

I admit that I felt a bit sheepish being so drawn in by a (non-Pixar) children’s movie, but that was cured by reading Richard Corliss’s “Best of Culture 2014:  Movies” wrap up in the Dec.22/29 “Person of the Year” edition of Time magazine, which listed The Lego Movie third of the ten films mentioned.  That means I have some sense of taste/style, right?

In my haphazard approach to Christmas gifts this year, one thing I did manage to buy for our family was the DVD of The Lego Movie, which we watched this afternoon. And it still makes me laugh, which is great because this hasn’t been the jolliest holiday season ever.

We will probably watch some of the special features this evening. There is a sing-along version of “Everything Is Awesome!”  Singing such a bouncy, optimistic song can only help…