Babel Tsunami

Cubes with shiny coloured ringsWe’re spending the October school holidays in Fife–not picking potatoes, but housesitting for a friend. On rainy days (and this is Scotland in October, so you can be sure we have them) we’re pushed to come up with some indoor fun.

The cubes in their home, on a rainy dayI found this box of eight cubes. They look a little like dice, but instead of numbers, they have shiny circles embossed on each face. The rings are in a variety of colours, but I’ve determined that the cubes are not alike: they don’t all have the same colours on them, nor are they arranged in the same pattern. I tried to come up with some new game, like all the inventive children in fictional stories are able to do. Maybe the colours would have different point values, and you’d count up your tumbled score before passing the cubes on to the next person. (We’ve been reading Arthur Ransome’s books as bedtime stories, and it seems the kind of thing those kids could manage no sweat.)

As I cogitated, I started to stack them in a tower, and before I got too far with these musings, my chaotic toddler did what chaotic toddlers are wont to do: he toddled into the room and knocked it down. So I started to stack it again, and he again knocked it over. If I wasn’t rebuilding fast enough, he would help me until we got to about three blocks, and then he would swap sides and knock it over again. Babel Tsunami

The bigger siblings were playing with Lego in the next room, and their mum was having a shower down the hall. So I decided it was a two-player game, and my only object was to try to get all eight stacked before he knocked it down. I nearly got there once. I call the game Babel Tsunami for what should be obvious reasons; and, like my latest irritating procrastination vehicle, Scorpion Solitaire, “wins are rare.”

The Sensual Pleasures of Lego

Lego creationsLego’s been on my mind. Not that I’ve gone to see the movie, nor have I any desire to. But the attendant buzz has led to other cultural comment, which I’m always happy to absorb (as a journalist, sociologically minded person, and grad student looking for ways to avoid writing my thesis).

What I’ve seen and what has interested me about Lego revolves around two issues: gender and creativity. Both of these lapse into a nostalgic pattern, so that the way it was is better than the way it is, and that this wonderful thing has been broken by an increasingly shallow and/or destructive society. I kind of don’t disagree with that in principle, but it’s sometimes a little too easy to give in to such whinging, and I’m glad I have young kids in the house to give me a kick in the angst from time to time. Continue reading