Make a note in your diary folks, the small screen adaptation of James Paterson’s excellent Middle School books starts on February 10 (today) with a movie adaptation of Middle School, the Worst Year of My Life, made by and exclusive to Netflix.
The Middle School series are wildly popular with primary school kids, sitting in the same genre as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Tom Gates books. Middle School has a slightly darker edge to it, but this aspect of it is handled with sensitivity and it’s also good to see the main character, Rafe, in a single parent family, better reflecting the different family lives that we all live now (not me I hasten to add, I’m married with 3 kids).
On the surface of things, following a family bereavement, it looks like it’s Rafe’s little sister who has gone off the rails but as Rafe starts YET another new school, and his buddy Leo pulls faces behind the headmasters back, it seems like Rafe might have a bit of trouble with authority.
As the story unfolds, we see Rafe and Leo set about systematically breaking all the excessive rules the school’s headmaster has in place, with often hilarious effect. Tempering the humour is the story of Rafe and his loss, because even when we find out Leo is Rafe’s imaginary friend, that still isn’t the entire story…
Like any good kids movie, the villains (the head, the potential step dad) are larger than life, exaggerations of what you would expect to find but like a great kids movie, the main character, played with great charm by the awesomely named Griffin Gluck, comes across as almost the only normal person in the movie. The performances are great, they’re working from good source material and the whole film hangs together really well. My two eldest kids have read a selection of Middle School books and they both loved the movie (we went to a screening last Sunday). They’ve been waiting impatiently for the 10th because they want to watch it again!
While we all know what the Batmobile looks like, and even reviewed it in LEGO form, but the new LEGO Batman Movie has plenty more up it’s sleeve than old favourites. Thankfully, they decided not to make a set out of the Batshuttle or the Batsubmarine that featured in the trailer (Batman is a man after my own heart and loves gadgets, he just happens to be a billionaire so can afford more than me!).
The Scuttler is one beast of a set. In fact its literally a beast, a giant bat in fact. There is quite a lot of Technic type LEGO bricks in the set, which facilitate the Bat like movements- all 4 legs/wings move. It has a Net Gun and it has a compartment with a JetPack for Batman (although the boy currently has Robin piloting the thing because for some reason, Robin is the best thing ever).
The front legs are on rails and extend, letting the Scuttler rear up over whatever Batman (or Robin) is pursuing. It’s a complicated build with a big fat book but it is pretty sturdy once built. It kept the boy occupied for a few hours in terms of building and he’s been playing with it since without it requiring any major rebuilding work.
The Scuttler is out now to buy, with a recommended retail price of £84.99 and is available to buy from good retailers including Amazon.
The LEGO Batman Movie is out soon and the related LEGO sets have now hit the shelves. We loved the LEGO Movie, and I even went as far as to say it was a remake of the Matrix. But lets get real here, we all love Batman, have played the LEGO Batman videogames, already have tons of superhero LEGO and can’t blimmin’ wait for him to have his own movie!
Set 70905 isn’t our first Batmobile, the Jokerland set (76035) has one and we reviewed that a while ago. This Batmobile is a different beast though, it’s much larger and more of an involved build.
Fifi was tasked building the Batmobile while her older brother got to work on the larger and more complex Scuttler.
She found the build fun and liked the figures that were included with it although I admit the baddies will probably make more sense once we’ve seen the film (which is out on 10 Feb).
The end result is pretty awesome as Fifi can show you:
The LEGO Batmobile is available now from all good retailers, including Amazon, for an RRP of £54.99.
When Philips asked me if I’d like to take part in their healthier snack swap challenge by getting the kids to substitute an unhealthy snack with something whipped up in their Centrifugal Juicer I almost said no outright because everybody knows fruit juice isn’t as good as eating the fruit itself- most of the fibre gets lost, which just leaves you with sugary flavoured water. Yes, it’s fructose, not sucrose, but sugar is sugar. But, they countered, there’s a button that lets you increase the fibre content, so you can have your apple and drink it.
In the end my love of gadgets and the possibility of making after hour cocktails in the thing won me over and I graciously agreed to have one. I’m good like that. Philips, bless them, went one better and sent a supermarket voucher with the Centrifugal Juicer so we could stock up with ingredients.
Growing up in the 1980’s, Just For Men ads were up there with good old Victor Kiam’s “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company” line in electric razor adverts. For my generation, a well chiselled, grey haired, Pierce Brosnan look a like badly acting his way to better hair was the stuff of most Saturday tea time ad breaks. Well guess what? Just like razors have had a bit of a make over and aren’t quite as cheesy as Victor made them, so has Just For Men. In fact they’ve got a new product which they asked me to try out. While their old adverts pointed out that not having grey hair would let you get a better paid job and send your kid to college, we’re not in the 80’s now and things are a lot more sensible. I’m not sensible but I thought I would take them up on the challenge to see if it changed my perceptions (and my hair).
Just For Men Control GX simply aims to gradually reduce grey hair through use over a period of several weeks. When Just For Men emailed me and asked if I wanted to give it a spin, I have to admit I was mostly driven to say yes by a sense of nostalgia and how I would be able to have a chuckle with my work colleagues. It turns out I was more than a little wrong though, as a month later, even my five year old has noticed the reduction in grey hair!
Hand on heart, we get bored. Despite having a house full of toys, games, books and several TV streaming services, on occasion getting outside and doing something silly is the best antidote to being fed up with everything you have.
Today was one such day, so we decided to reshoot my favourite scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Well, the most suitable scene for children anyway. I opted against doing the Grail Shaped Beacon scene. The great thing about the Holy Grail is the whole film was made for under £250,000, which even in 1975 didn’t amount to a whole hill of beans.
I hit 42 years of age on Saturday. As birthdays go, it wasn’t a great one to be honest, mostly my own fault but I felt a bit flat after Christmas, the weather was awful and we’d arranged my daughters 8th birthday party for the late afternoon.
I’m impossible to buy stuff for because the only things I really want (as oppose to need) are too expensive for presents. You know, a PSVR headset, a nice turntable and an amp, all in the £350 to £600 range, which is about (at the top end anyway) ten times more than have for presents. So I had a nice homemade SpongeBob Square Pants storage box from Fifi and a pair of techno socks* from my lovely wife.
It wasn’t the lack of gifts that made it a bit duff, rather the weather- originally I’d wanted to go out for the day (trip to the rather bleak seaside top of the list) but having Fifi’s party had put the kybosh on that. No problem, we could go out for a walk in the morning. Both the boys protested by taking their socks and trousers off when I suggested this (pants stayed on mercifully), so that didn’t happen. My first trip out for the day saw me go to the DIY store to buy a can of damp sealant. I scraped bumpers with the bloke next door on my way back which was a nightmare I could have done without. It put me a really rotten mood.
The rotten mood was alleviated by Fifi though, who provided me with an envelope containing the following:
Which was lovely and cheered me up no end. The post title comes from Fifi’s aunty, who made that comment when she saw the letter!
I should point out I’m generally miserable on my birthday, I hate being the centre of attention for simply being a year older, as though I’ve done something to warrant it other than simply not dying. I don’t like people spending money on me either. It’s never anyone else’s fault I have a rubbish day, it’s all self inflicted!
*merino wool walking socks, not some dance through back global hypercolour socks.
We struggle to get any of our three kids to do much reading. I think it’s laziness on their part, although they do admittedly have slightly more distraction than we did growing up. Although we had computer games, which if you’ve ever looked at our retro gaming blog you’ll know all about, the telly available was much more limited.
I was always a voracious reader but also a demented writer too. I was the first person in our secondary school to submit typed essays (on the dot matrix printer Dad got for our Atari ST), and there was initially a bit of wrangling over whether that was acceptable. My Dad pointed out that if they were worried someone else had written it, I could simply have hand copied something that someone else had written anyway, which was a fair point. On top of that concerns about length, when a 450-500 word essay took 8 or 9 pages of some girls bubble writing but fitted on one side of printed paper, were just mad.
I was also a precocious reader, ploughing through the kids section at our local library and making the jump to adult fiction as soon as I started secondary school (if not in the final year of primary if I check the dates closely enough). View Full Post
I’m stepping outside of my family to talk about the wider blogging community in this post, hold on to your hats, it’s a scary bumpy ride! This post has been prompted by endless Facebook posts about (cyber) bullying over the last year or so. The opinions here are my own, based on my views, and are not targeted at individuals because lets face it, I interact with so few of the blogging community now, whenever I meet new people, they assume I’m a newbie. As a parent who suffered physical bullying myself, I know what bullying is and what it can do to a child and I want to clear a few things up.
As long as I’ve been involved in the parent blogging community (that would be around 2007 vicariously and 2009 directly) people have argued the toss about everything, from bottle feeding to PSD, and more recently over who is a freebie grabbing corporate whore and who isn’t.
People disagree, people argue. People can disagree pleasantly, in a rational and dispassionate manner and people can disagree with a vituperative spleen venting tirade of invective. At the end of the day it boils down to the same thing, two people disagreeing over something. View Full Post