Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Afternoon Movie: The Phantom Tollbooth

I think it's time to go back to the 70's and experience the weird and wonderful world of number, letters, time and learning lessons while having fun of, The Phantom Tollbooth.

I don't actually remember the first time I saw this action into animation film. I don't even recall if we taped it and I re-watched it all over again and again or it was TV quite frequently. I know in Uni, someone mentioned something about time and started sing the song from the film, then I found it all on Youtube and sat there and watched the whole thing.

The strange but brilliant film came to my mind again, this time because something at work made me think of 'The Demons of Ignorance'.

The 1970's live action and animated American film, adapted from the novel of the same name by Norton Juster, starred Butch Patrick of The Munsters fame.

The film begins with our hero, Milo, returning from school bored of learning and bored of everything else and as he speaks to his equally bored friend on the phone, queue a giant mysterious box landing in his living room. This is THE tollbooth.

After a brief introduction and very little information, Milo is instructed to pick a destination and be on his merry way. For the purpose of this journey he becomes an animated version of himself and brilliant. Anyone watching it for the first would think the artwork looks tired and dated and in fact the animation studio that made the film closed down immediately after the release of the film. The film was a success so the closure had nothing to do with the film.

Milo drives his little red sports car along the crazy roads, passing through towns and cities such as, Expectations, Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. Every destinaton and character Milo encounters seems to either give friendly advice, hidden with life or academic help or deter him from his path. Mostly the former.

This is essentially a road movie to teach children that they can learn in a fun way and the more knowledge you have the more confident (and happy) you'll be. The other lesson is instead of being bored, come up with a plan or idea and have an adventure, but that really is sugar coating it.

As well as interesting characters, such as Tock, the watch dog who saves Milo near the start from The Doldrums, a place where you end up if you stop thinking, is dog with a giant alarm clock in his belly. He teaches Milo not to waste time, as time is a gift. This the point I should mention that there a few songs in the film but they are brilliant and I think the animation is great, there is even a reference to Dali's melting clocks.

The plot of the story comes to shape when Milo meets the two kings. On his way through their kingdoms hes noticed that everything is confusing and makes little sense. The reason for this is that King Azaz and his brother the Mathmagician argued over what was more important, words or numbers. They asked their younger sisters, the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason and they said they were equally as important as each other. The Kings did not like this answer so banished them to, The Castle in the Air. Milo convinces them both that he needs to bring the Princesses back. The road trip then turns into a rescue mission with some learning along the way. Milo has to get through 'The Mountains of Ignorance' which are inhabited by the demons of ignorance. Milo literally has to fight his demons to get to the castle.

The films boasts a large host of smaller moments too, such as the the conductor of the skies, Croma the Great who actually conducts the morning and evening skies. Another small moment is in the Words Market, there is stall called 'Half Baked' ideas which I thought was a nice touch.

Unfortunately this film was never released on DVD in the UK but it can be enjoyed in US and on youtube for all to see.

I think my next step is to read the book as its such a brilliant story. The author was influenced by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and none other than the Marx Brothers. Watching the film, you can definitely both influences.

Next time you're bored and think you have nothing to do, don't lounge on the sofa, unless you want the tollbooth to land.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Christmas Is Cancelled

This evening I came home from work after working a long late shift at the office, I come in and sit the living room and share a rare moment with my parents.

They were watching a film I hadn't seen so I sat down to join them. All fine until an hour later, I am casually told 'by the way, we're not doing presents this christmas, we're doing a secret santa.'

Of course, I, who actually likes Christmas with my family, the food, the games and I do enjoy buying them presents was completely crushed. I exploded. I screamed and yelled and pointed out that this was terrible. They weakly backed themselves up and said 'everyone else agrees'. I yelled some more and said this was terrible.

This 'terrible' idea was brought up last year by the Grinch but was shot down by everyone. What had changed this year? Oh, thats right, nothing.

I was told, in weak defence, that 'I needed to grow up, we're all adults'. That was a slap in the face.

A certain someone (family member) doesn't like Christmas, openly. They have suggested that we all go to a restaurant or hotel at Christmas for lunch. This is an impersonal and horrid idea. The sense of family gathering is crushed by menus and the poor people serving us on their Christmas day. Its not fun. This idea of the Grinch's was shot down. They complained about the cooking so my sister and brother-in-law stepped up last year, I helped a little bit too and the offer was there again but Grinch keeps pushing this. They also, a few years ago starting saying that we're not putting up decorations Goodbye old tree. This certain person has always hated Christmas. It all stems from childhood as their birthday was close to Christmas so all they got was unwanted gifts. But it all seems unfair to push their Scrooge like behaviour on us all.

This 'secret santa' is the death of the family gathering.

Next, the tree will not be allowed to go up. Then there will be no lunch. Then, no games, in fact this Grinch hardly joins in on these anyway, then it will be, nothing. Christmas will be cancelled.

I resent being told to grow up because I enjoy Christmas. When I was younger I used to make masks for everyone to wear at lunch because it was fun and different. I was told to grow up. I like keep my stocking in my room and then by the tree. I was told to grow up. I used to make quizzes and games for the family. I was told to grow up.

Funny thing is, when I did stop, I was moaned at. I was plagued with questions as to why I didn't do any of the above. By the way this is still my family saying this.

Making your family do 'secret santa' is mean spirited. 'Secret santa' is so impersonal and careless, thats why they do it in offices not at home with your family.

I had already thought of things to get my family but I suppose I better stop now lest I be shouted at and told to grow up again.

I didn't think liking Christmas with your family meant you were a silly child. But if 'everyone agrees' I guess I'm in the minority and that's where I'll stay.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

It's An Honour To Be Nominated

 Last month my sister nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thank you Halfway Here and sorry for  the delay.

 The rules are:
-First, I must answer 11 questions that have been set by my the person/blog that nominated me
-Secondly, I have to share 11 facts about myself
-Finally I have to make up 11 questions for those I nominate

11 Questions from Halfway Here

1. If you could be any animal what would you be and why? 
I would be a fox but one that roams the countryside. They are sly, swift and survivors. Plus they are high on the food chain, only humans after foxes.

2. Money is no object, where's the next place you'd like to travel to? New Zealand, hands down. 

3. What's your favourite breakfast food? 
Boring but its cereal or if I'm feeling adventurous, pancakes.

4. Best fancy dress costume you've ever made/wore? - My made a half and half costume at Uni for halloween. It was better known as Boris and Barbara though.

5. What's your favourite thing about where you live/your home town? It has a Costa now? It's small and practically no one has ever heard about it. 

6. A song that'll always get you on the dance floor? Recently its 90s tunes, Steal My Sunshine by Len.

7. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? An actress. Held onto that dream for a while. But films were always there.

8. Do you have a favourite quote or motto? From Romeo and Juliet - 'These violent delights have violent ends'

9. If you had to cook a three course meal ('Come Dine with Me' style-y) what would you make? Starter would be a soup, butternut squash with salsa. Main meal would be something dull like, twist pasta bake with root vegetables (I don't cook savoury things). Desert would either be gluten free pumpkin pie or my sweet potato cake with cream cheese frosting.

10. What are you most looking forward to right at this moment? BFI Film Festival - going to 5 screenings so far.

11. Lastly, but not least importantly, biscuit or cake? Cake. But I like to bake both.

11 Facts about Me

1. I love Tina Fey but I still haven't read her autobiography, it's been on my read list for months. I still love her.
2. I love a good murder mystery so it only makes sense that I have the entire Poirot and Miss Marple TV series box sets. And I'm proud of this.
3. Next year, I still aim to go travelling, in the words of Lenny Kravitz, I want to get away, I want to fly away.
4. As well as my phobias of wasps and bees, I have a phobia of spiral staircases, its called Phasmaculaphobia.   5. In college (sixth form) I used to have 4 alarms because I was so worried I wouldn't wake up for classes. They made me give a monologue about it in drama.  
6. The Great Gatsby is my favourite novel and I own 7 copies of it, each from a different publisher.
7. I own one pair of hight heels or shoes that are considered 'heels' and I've worn them once. My parents' friend's 60th birthday party.
8. I was part of my local amateur dramatics society until 2008, when I performed in the panto Aladdin where I had first actual role. I had taken part in various productions since I was 8.
9. I passed my driving test last year and have not driven a car since. But I really want to.
10. When I was bored at school, I used play back The Fellowship of the Ring in my head, I could remember everything, even music cues.
11. I wear black quite a bit in the hopes that one day someone will say 'you look like you're going to a funeral' so I can say back 'maybe I am'.

11 Questions for my Nominees

1. What was your favourite TV show when you were young?
2. If you were a comic book super villain,  what would be your name and signature weapon/crime?
3. Without taking a quiz, what is your spirit animal?
4. In the past, you must have given away your old toys, which do you regret letting go of?
5. What would your biography title be?
6. Would you rather be able to only go clothes shopping once a year or go shopping all year round but have to wear the same outfit everyday for a year?
7. Cheese or chocolate?
8. What was the first CD you bought/were given?
9. If you didn't live where you are now, where would you most like to be?
10. Use three different ice cream flavours to describe yourself.
11. If you could cheat, would you skip to the end?

I nominate:


That's All Folks

The Comings and Goings of Me (photography blog)