Archive for the ‘Seasonal Greetings’ Category

A Happy New Year to All This Blogs Great Readers

January 1, 2023

I hope you’re having a great Christmas season, and hope you and those you love have a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

A Happy Star Trek Christmas

December 31, 2022

Okay, it’s New Year’s Eve and the Christmas season is nearly at an end. I thought I’d post this jolly Christmas video up before it’s all over and those who still have jobs go back to work. It was posted by ‘Why, Mr Spock’ on his YouTube channel, and shows various festival scenes from the original Star Trek series while Paul McCartney sings ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’. I suppose I could also run a quiz for Trekkers asking them to identity the individual episodes from which these clips are taken. Enjoy!

Have A Happy Cthulhu Christmas

December 27, 2022

This is for all the fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. I found this piece of funny art on the net sometime ago and, as a fan of Lovecraft myself, really enjoyed it. I hope you do too, and may ‘orrible, squamous things from beyond not trouble your sleep tonight.

Happy Yule! Horrific Christmas Art from 2000 AD’s Kevin O’Neill

December 26, 2022

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas Day yesterday, and are enjoying the seasonal holidays. Or at least, as close as anyone comes to enjoying anything in this Tory-inflicted Winter of Discontent. I’m a big fan of the comics artist Kevin O’Neill, who sadly passed away earlier this year. O’Neill drew a number of favourite strips, including ‘Robusters’ and ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ for 2000 AD, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for DC. His speciality was robots and aliens, and he was able to draw the most amazing, grotesque and horrific creatures. This was particularly shown in his art for Nemesis the Warlock, which was set in a far-future dark age where Earth was ruled by the Terminators, a religious order which regarded aliens as demons and was intent on their extermination. But it was also shown in many of his other strips, such as the edition of DC’s Green Lantern Corps which the Comics Code refused to pass. The Comics Code were the industry’s censors, set up in the 1950s to reassure American parents that the comics they approved were good, wholesome fare for American youth. The Code refused to pass that issue of the Corps not for any particular reason of the script, but because O’Neill’s artwork was ‘completely unsuitable for children.’ O’Neill had been cheerily turning out such art for British kids in 2000 AD for years by then with no apparent complaint. Well, there was the lad who supposedly told Dave Gibbons, another giant of British comics, that O’Neill’s art gave him nightmares which he could only dispel by looking at his. I think O’Neill consider his rejection by the censors something of an accolade. It’s certainly presented as such in his conversation with Tharg in a celebratory strip 2000 AD ran for Prog 500.

O’Neill also drew the front and back covers for one of 2000 AD’s Christmas issues. This portrayed Santa Claus and the other Christmas features as horrific, including the Christmas turkey and fireplace hung with stockings as rampaging grotesque monsters. It sort of followed in a long tradition of such comic art. One of the children’s humour comics did a feature on the seven ghostly wonders of Britain, in which famous British landmarks became spooky monsters. One of these was ‘Cheddar George’, in which the Somerset cave system became a twisted face with open, ravenous maw.

So, here for your enjoyment, this festive season are the covers drawn by O’Neill. RIP, big man – may your art continue to fascinate, amuse and inspire kids for generations to come. And to everyone else, please – don’t have nightmares.

And here’s the piece from Prog 500 in which Tharg and O’Neill discuss O’Neill’s moment of glory from the Comics Code.

Wishing All My Readers and Commenters a Happy Christmas

December 25, 2022

I hope all the many great readers and commenters of this blog, their families and friends, have a very happy Christmas. May you get all the presents you wanted and deserved, and enjoy peace, prosperity and friendship in the New Year. Merry Christmas one and all!

A Seasonal Bad Film: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

December 24, 2022

This for fans of films that are so bad that a kind of fascination and enjoyment creeps into them, like the kind of movies shown and lampooned in the American series Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The audience for this kind of film – so bad that they were, in their way, great – was growing when I was a schoolboy. I think it started as a mass movement with the publication of the Medved Brother’s book The Golden Turkey Awards, in which they reviewed a series of truly awful movies. This was followed up in the UK with interviews in Starburst magazine, where they talked about their fascination with truly dreadful SF B movies, such as the dire works of Ed Wood and other masters of the horrendously bad. These films included Robot Monster, which was made on the lavish budget of $30 a day. The robot monster of the title was a man in gorilla suit wearing a diving helmet. To make it suitably futuristic, they stuck a pair of TV aerials on it. The guy playing the monster got the job because he owned the gorilla suit. And then in 1983 Channel 4 gave us The Worst of Hollywood. Introduced by Michael Medved, this brought to the British viewing public such masterpieces as Plan 9 from Outer Space, another of Wood’s grandiose, cheap epics, They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Eegah!, The Wild Women of Wonga, one of the lesser known Godzilla films and a raunchy space epic in which sex-starved aliens land on Earth in a spaceship shaped like a giant breast. The season ended on Christmas Eve with the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This was intended as a seasonal children’s favourite and the story seems to involve Martian adults trying to take over the world by producing a counterfeit Santa. But the real Santa manages to unite both Terran and Martian children against the adults and the invasion plan is thwarted. I can’t say I watched much of it when it was on. I’d come back from a party at a school friend’s and so caught just the ending. This was of Santa and the children singing ‘Hooray for Santy Claus’, and is pretty much as dire as it sounds. Medved added in his afterword to the film that its composer then went on to do the music for the Gong Show. So in memory of that glorious Christmas Eve 39 years ago, I’ve decided to inflict the trailer for this classic of terrible cinema and its theme song, both of which are on YouTube.

Here’s the trailer from Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers channel.

And here’s ‘Hooray for Santy Claus’ from PoppiCiullo’s channel.

Of the directors of terrible movies, Wood has particularly become a cult figure. Before release of The Room, and the career of German-born director Uwe Boll, he was generally considered Hollywood’s worst director and Plan 9 from Outer Space the worst film of all time. This flick is about evil UFO aliens invading Earth and resurrecting zombies from Earth’s graveyards. It’s extremely low budget and is known for its spectacularly cheap special effects and duff dialogue. The UFOs were paper plates doused in petrol and thrown into the air. One scene, set in the cabin of an aircraft, is very obviously shot in someone’s front room with the house door standing in for the cabin’s. The leaders of the zombies was played by Bela Lugosi, but this master of horror died half-way through filming. His place was taken by Wood’s wife’s homeopathic healer, who was something like a foot taller than Lugosi. It began with a weird, rambling introduction by Creswell, one of the celebrity astrologers of the period, who dispensed this pearl of wisdom: ‘We are all interested in the future because we will spend the rest of our lives there.’ Well, quite. You can’t argue with that. And it also boasted such immortal lines as ‘Dead! Murdered! And someone’s to blame.’ ‘Gee, I guess that’s why you’re a sergeant and I’m only a patrolman.’

In addition to Plan 9, Wood is also celebrated, or notorious, for the movie Glenn/Glenda or I Changed My Sex. Wood was a transvestite as well as decorated war hero. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his heroism in taking an enemy machine gun nest during World War II. He did so while wearing women’s satin underwear. He also liked to dress as cowboy, and would go out to restaurants either in drag or dress in a sequined cowboy costume, giving out photos of himself to the waitresses. Glenn/Glenda was intended as a sensitive portrayal of the plight of male crossdressers in contemporary America. In the hands of any other director, this would have been possible. But Wood’s direction was clunky and the dialogue predictably bad. It also has a bizarre dream sequence in which chairs and other furniture move about on their own. Bela Lugosi is also in it as God, speaking lines like ‘Dance to this. Dance to that. But beware the little green dragon sleeping on your doorstep’.

I first became aware of this piece of Wood’s oeuvre from a programme earlier in the 70s on daytime TV presented by Dennis Norden, which looked back on some of the lesser known and cheesier films of the past. It’s also a favourite of rock meister Alice Cooper. Cooper was interviewed by Muriel Grey on The Tube, the Channel 4 pop programme also in the 1980s. She asked Cooper what his favourite film was. He replied that it was Glenn/Glenda. She naturally asked him why. He replied that when he first saw it, it completely bemused him and he wondered what on Earth he was watching. This brought forth her classic reply, ‘You’re a strange boy, Alice’. Well, yes, and at one point he was outraged parents and responsible adults all over America for his antics on stage.

Wood has become such a cult figure that in the 1990s there was a biopic about him with the slogan ‘Films were his passion. Women were his inspiration. Cashmere sweaters were his weakness’. I’ve never seen it, but it does fascinate me. Just like his, and those of the other terrible directors continue to find new audiences despite, or because, of their lack of talent.

What If Santa Upgraded His Sleigh for a State of the Art Stealth Plane?

December 24, 2022

As it’s the Christmas season I’m planning to leaven the serious stuff on this channel with more fun material just to spread a bit more cheer around in this new Winter of Discontent. And here’s a jolly bit of fun I found on the ‘Found and Explained’ YouTube channel. It discusses what would possibly result if Santa Claus upgraded his sleigh, which is more fitted to a time before modern technology when horse-drawn carriages and sleighs were the only or main vehicles available. This was all right until the story went global and its credibility was challenged by the problem of travelling around the world, including crossing the Atlantic to North America. Hence the need to upgrade to something more modern.

The video notes the apparent similarities between the supernatural qualities of Santa’s sleigh and UFOs. However, it doesn’t actually talk about using UFO technology, which in the UFO legend is available through back engineering crashed alien space craft. No, the video instead discusses how Santa would swap his sleigh for a state of the art stealth aircraft manufactured by Lockheed at their skunkworks, but incorporating other features from autonomous drones.

Santa’s new ‘sleigh’ would be a high-performance White Star aircraft, utilising pulse jet powered by nuclear energy to achieve speeds of Mach 10 to Mach 15. There would be no windows, and instead the crew would see out using technology that turned much of the cabin into viewscreens. Santa would not be able to deliver the presents personally, except in some circumstances where the consumption of mince pies is concerned, and so would deliver his presents using drones. When he was required to make a personal appearance, the craft would use the autopilot system from another, autonomous drone. Rudolf would not be able to survive the stresses he’d experience at the front of such a high velocity vehicle, and so on the nose of the aircraft himself would be a navigation system using information from satellite position systems.

The video acknowledges that there are problems with this design. Extra space would be needed for all the presents, drones, nuclear fuel and so on. This would be solved using the technology of Santa’s bag, which like the Bag of Holding in D & D games, has ample space to contain everything required.

Expense is also a problem, even given the vast wealth Santa must have to employ his army of elves on holiday pay, plus writing it all off as charity expenses. The video suggests that this could be solved by donating one or two White Stars to the American air force, where they could be reconverted to military aircraft complete with nuclear-tipped warheads. These could also be used against naughty children. And here the video shows the Grinch being fought with explosions.

It’s a bit of seasonal fun from the channel and obviously not meant to be taken seriously. I hope you enjoy it.

Video from Boston Dynamics: Robots Decorate the Christmas Tree

December 22, 2022

I found this cheery little video a day or so ago on YouTube. It’s from the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, and is of three of their four-legged robots forming a robot pyramid so that one, equipped with a mechanical arm, can put a star on the Christmas tree. I’m posting it up here as a bit of Christmas cheer in this new Winter of Discontent when the Tories are trying to drive us all into more poverty.

Congratulations to All Students for Their Exam Results, Whatever Their Grades

August 26, 2022

This is simply to say ‘well done’ to all the school students who got their exam results yesterday, whatever the grades they got. I know they studied and worked hard to get them. I’m also annoyed by the talk of grade inflation. I realise that it has gone on, but feel the youngster getting their grades yesterday were being unfairly targeted by these comments for a process that has benefited previous kids, while they worked just as hard as them.

Happy Queen’s Jubilee Everyone!

June 3, 2022

I expect the readers of this blog may have differing views about the monarchy, so I’ll just say that I hope my readers are enjoying the Bank Holiday. We had visitors yesterday, and I’m sure many other people are also taking the opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Down here in south Bristol, we also had a nice bit of sunshine, but it’s now clouded over and I’ve been told we can expect rain this weekend. So basically, enjoy the weather while it lasts.

And down with Johnson!