Monday, June 09, 2014

2014: Week 23

What does this perfectly-positioned thought cloud above his head say? Who can say.
I'm getting some fun photos when Thing Two and I pause during our weekend runs. I only saw there was a perfectly positioned thought cloud above his head when I got home and looked at the photo more closely.
It made us both laugh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Stupid O'Clock Film Premiere in London

Tom Cruise walking the red carpet in London 
for the first of three premieres in one day for "Edge of Tomorrow" 

Have you ever wondered who the mugs were who stand for hours in the rain waiting to see some movie star at their latest premiere?

Today that mug was me.

This morning, my 11-year-old son and I found ourselves standing in the pouring rain outside of the BFI Imax Cinema at 6 a.m. waiting to see Tom Cruise and others walk the red carpet for the new film, "Edge of Tomorrow."

The reason the premiere was at 6 a.m. instead of the more typical premiere time of early evening was because it was part of a publicity stunt to do three film premieres in London, Paris and New York in one day. We were on the first leg of the stunt.

As Tom Cruise walked the red carpet it would appear to the unitiated that there were hundreds of people there standing in the rain, clamouring to get a glimpse of the stars while sacrificing valuable sleep in order to do so. The reality was quite different: hundreds of people were lured there to get free tickets to see the movie, but first had to line the red carpet so the sidelines would be filled with "fans."

We were told to report to the cinema at 6 a.m. Thoughtfully, they did provide the "fans" with free coffee, tea and bacon butties to keep us going in the early hours. They also had a comedian and free t-shirts to entertain the crowd. You can't lose sight of the fact that it was stupid o'clock, but at least they had some freebies to soften the blow.

To give credit where it's due, Tom Cruise showed up at 6:45 a.m. to work his magic. He has a reputation for spending a lot of time on the red carpet at his premieres, and this one was no different. He made a real effort to speak to the myriad media outlets lining the other side of the red carpet. He also made time for selfies and autographs for the fans.

Here's a picture that Tom Cruise tweeted of him at the premiere. 
Here's the picture enlarged, 
so you can see the very small face of my son in the crowd.

Personally, I didn't get much of a thrill from seeing Tom Cruise in person. It felt much like the first time I saw the Grand Canyon: It looked just like it did in pictures and movies. Seeing Tom Cruise in person was no different. He's been photographed so often and in so many movies, you already know what he looks like, it's just that he's walking in front of you instead of walking across a movie screen.

It was fascinating, however, to see the hundreds of people who were working at this one event: photographers taking pictures, journalists asking questions, public relations people shepherding stars, studio personnel keeping a schedule, marketing people handing out t-shirts. I never saw so many black North Face jackets in one place, or for that matter, so many people wearing black. It must be part of the uniform.

After two hours, having our fill of watching Tom Cruise walk the red carpet, we decided to leave. We wanted some breakfast and still had 90 minutes to wait until our screening started, which was at a different cinema. The "fans" didn't get to go to the official movie premiere, but I'm not complaining, since we did get to see it for free.

"Edge of Tomorrow"-- a science fiction-Groundhog Day-war movie mashup was fairly enjoyable. Once again, Tom Cruise plays the flawed military guy who figures out what it's all about by the end of the movie (see: Top Gun, A Few Good Men). Emily Blunt kicks butt and takes names (she was awesome). It's a solid summer film: one you'd want to see if you want to escape the summer rain (in the UK) or the summer heat (anywhere else in the northern hemisphere).

Would I get up at Stupid O'Clock again for a film premiere? Probably not. But it's not every day that you get to be part of a movie publicity stunt, so that was fun.

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014: Week 17

This week, Thing One and I went to see "Birdland" at the Royal Court. It was a very fun day.
I took this from our seat In The Gods while we were waiting the play to start. In the end, I was very glad of the location of our seats because it meant I could get a better view of the staging, which was phenomenal.
The teenager was eager to see it because it starred Andrew Scott, who's a great actor but probably best known for playing Moriarty in "Sherlock." The gaggle of teenage girls who were waiting to see him at the Stage Door seemed to know him for the same reason.
Although the critics didn't like it very much-- one said he would choose root canal over seeing it again-- we loved it. Who cares what the critics say.

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014: Week 16

This week-- the tail end of Easter break-- featured our every-five-years trip to the US Embassy to get our passports renewed. We had to get there stupidly early because they were the only appointments available (when I realised a week before that Thing Two's passport was going to expire in five days). But the early start was a blessing in disguise because we got out in under an hour. Huzzah!

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014: Week 15

I took a similar photo last year, but without my running partner (who actually wasn't my running partner this time last year). This was taken during our morning run in Greenwich Park, without a filter. Amazing.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

2014: Week 14

You should be able to see the towers of Canary Wharf behind those trees. This is what you see instead. Thanks Sahara Dust. Believe it or not, this is a No Filter photo.
(It really was awful, the dust. It made the city feel post-apocolyptic, somehow.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

2014: Week 13

404 ERROR.
Actually, it's not really an Error Message, it was our number while we waited for our dim sum at Royal China (the best in London) to celebrate Mother's Day. It was a brilliant day. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014: Week 12

Thing 2 completes his first 5K race at the Sport Relief Games at the Olympic Park. It certainly was an inspiring place to do it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014: Week 11

My favourite cherry blossom tree, which reminds me every year that spring is on its way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014: Week 10

2014: Week 10 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 10, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Balloon Boys in an alley in London.

Monday, March 03, 2014

2014: Week 9

2014: Week 9 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 9, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Birthday cake* for the birthday boy**.

*Four layers of chocolate-caramel goodness.
** TC, though at 46, not sure we can call him a boy anymore.

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014: Week 8

2014: Week 8 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 8, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
On our last morning of our half-term break, I got the teenager out of bed at stupid o'clock so we could have one final 18-mile cycle ride through the fields of Norfolk. We stopped at about 8:18 a.m. so I could take this picture.

Some questions that have arisen since the picture was published:
Q: "How did you get the teenager out of bed at the crack of dawn?"
A: I told him he could sleep in the car. He did. Quite happily.

Q: "Was the teenager grumpy?"
A: Amazingly enough, no. It must have been the promise of a nap later that did it.

Q: "What do you mean exactly by 'stupid o'clock'?
A: It was 7 a.m., so technically probably not stupid o'clock, but it felt like it because we were on holiday.

Q: "What was the highlight of the ride?"
A: The best part of the ride was doing it together. Now that he's 14, it's nice that we can do things together. The first highlight was I was in front of him on a particularly long hill and I keep thinking that I was too slow for him. When we reached the top and both of us stopped to get some water, he turned to me and said, "Wow. That was hard. I feel like I'm going to throw up." While I expressed some maternal concern, I thought to myself, "Yes! Not too slow!!" The second highlight was seeing what I think was a starling murmuration-- breathtakingly beautiful. I was enjoying the moment so much that I didn't even take a picture, but I will never forget it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014: Week 7

2014: Week 7 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 7, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Happy Valentine's Day!

These are the cards I got for my sons. I told them not to look at each other's card, but they didn't listen.

When the younger son opened his card and then looked over at his brother's card, he said, "I sense shenanigans!" Indeed.

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014: Week 6

2014: Week 6 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 6, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
This winter's weather has been absolutely mad-- rain, winds, sunshine, sometimes all at once-- but it has created optimal rainbow spotting opportunities.

We spotted this hide and seek rainbow behind the trees while travelling on the DLR, while my son and I both furiously took loads of snaps trying to capture it. He even managed to capture the double rainbow.

Monday, February 03, 2014

2014: Week 5

2014: Week 5 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 5, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

The moon in the morning sky, taken at 7:41 a.m.
Every weekday morning at about 7:35 a.m., I collect my coffee cup, put on my coat and walk across the street to wait with my teenage son for the bus that will take him to school. I do this because every day it gives us a chance to talk about plans for the day, plans for the future, make each other laugh or admire the sky. He definitely does not need me to do this, given that he's 14 and taller than me to boot. But he hasn't asked me stop yet, so I'm not going to until that sad day arrives.
In recent weeks, he's been happy because after two months of darkness, it's getting light here again in London at the time of morning when he leaves for school. On this particular morning, we both admired the moon in the morning sky. So after his bus arrived, I went back inside and got my camera so I could preserve the memory.

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014: Week 4

2014: Week 4 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 4, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
St. Paul's Cathedral in the Monday morning sunshine.


Monday, January 20, 2014

2014: Week 3

2014: Week 3 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 3, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Greenwich in the grey during a Saturday afternoon river walk.

#nofilter #Greenwich #Thames #Riverwalk

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014: Week 2

2014: Week 2 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 2, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Bye, bye Christmas monkey! Have a good rest during your hibernation. See you in November.

(The last of the Christmas decorations were put away this week. Sad face.)

Monday, January 06, 2014

2014: Week 1

2014: Week 1 by MAStapleton
2014: Week 1, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
The now traditional picture of poppers and streamers used to ring in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Week 53

2013: Week 53 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 53, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Looking ahead to 2014.

Taken after our New Year's Eve dinner at Hawksmoor, continuing a fine family tradition of having a steak dinner on the last day of the year. Happy new year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013: Week 52

2013: Week 52 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 52, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Christmas morning in the Christmas onesies. Perfect.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013: Week 51

2013: Week 51 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 51, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Christmastime is BUSY -- to say the least. This fact is best represented by this picture, showing our son topping out the Christmas tree a full week after we first put it up and decorated it. At least we remembered to do it.

This picture also marks the occasion that this is the first year he was too big to go on his dad's shoulders to put on the star. He used a small stool instead. Time marches on, indeed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013: Week 50

2013: Week 50 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 50, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
The fog rolled into London this Wednesday. During my morning run through Greenwich Park, it was unbelievable. I couldn't see anything. Even though I couldn't see anything, that didn't mean that I didn't stop to take pictures-- again and again and again.

I captured this group of runners on the field between the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory (where the stadium was for the equestrian events during the 2012 Summer Olympics). Amazing, you can't see the Queen's House, even though it is just to the right of the runners.

No filter was harmed in the creation of this photo.

Monday, December 09, 2013

2013: Week 49

2013: Week 49 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 49, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
Here in Greenwich, we have an annual Advent Window tradition whereby different houses decorate a window-- or in this case, windows-- on each day of December leading up to Christmas. The theme this year is "Heaven & Earth" and this window is called "Heaven & Earth on the Greenwich Meridian."

2013: Week 48

2013: Week 48 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 48, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

In a week full of photo opportunities--- Thanksgiving celebrations, seeing old friends, admiring the London Christmas decorations, I went with the most simple one: a single candle I held during Advent Services on the first day of Advent.

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013: Week 47

2013: Week 47 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 47, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

Happy Holidays!

With one month until Christmas Eve, let the hoopla begin. Spotted on a very posh store in South Kensington, London.

#ilovelondon #ilovechristmas

Monday, November 18, 2013

2013: Week 46

2013: Week 46 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 46, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

On a very grey and rainy day in London, I spotted this: a lonely chicken taking a call next to the Thames. No, I have no idea why he's there. No, I don't know who he's talking to. (His agent? He might be saying something like, "You need to get me a better gig than this.") But whatever his reason for being there, his presence cheered me up immensely.

#ilovelondon #nofilter

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013: Week 45

2013: Week 45 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 45, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

I captured this photo near the end of an epic walk on my birthday eve.

We had a most excellent dim sum brunch at Royal China at Westferry in Canary Wharf and decided to walk back home because it was a beautiful sunny day. We tried our best to stay on the Thames Path on the way back. But several times we found that some money grubbing, heartless developers closed off their sections of the Thames Path and we had to do some zig zagging back and forth from the Thames to Westferry Road. This was one of the zig zags.

But it was a fantastic day just the same-- tasty brunch, sunshine, fun walk and (most importantly for this picture) great light.

Monday, November 04, 2013

2013: Week 44

2013: Week 44 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 44, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.

I was spoiled for choice to pick just one picture to capture Week 44 of 2013. We went to the Shard at sunset (Ooh!). It was Halloween (Boo!). We kicked the autumnal leaves in the park (Ouch!).

In the end, I went for a snap of the Blackheath Fireworks. It's a huge part of our autumnal calendar, and we go every year (except for last year, when I mistakenly booked tickets for us to see the opera that night instead. I won't be making that mistake again.) They estimate that more than 100,000 people gather on the heath to watch them. It is insane, but one of the many reasons why I love living in London.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013: Week 43

2013: Week 43 by MAStapleton
2013: Week 43, a photo by MAStapleton on Flickr.
On our way back from ComicCon, which probably deserves a picture itself, we passed this amazing sculpture in Canning Town. It was completely unexpected and lovely. From this angle, it looks to me like the Iron Giant is picking a leaf off the tree.

This beautiful surprise is one of the many reasons why I Love London.