Christmas Links #15



Liberace’s Little-Known Cookbook:
“Food and music are the two best things in life.”

Airbus A380 draws giant Christmas tree over Germany:
"An Airbus pilot in Germany has delivered an early festive present by tracing the outline of an enormous Christmas tree during a test flight."

You asked for it so here it is: Christmas With The Hammonds:

"JEAN ANDERSON as Mary Hammond, PATRICK O'CONNELL as Edward Hammond, RICHARD EASTON as Brian Hammond, ROBIN CHADWICK as David Hammond, JENNIFER WILSON as Jennifer Hammond, DEREK BENFIELD as Bill Riley, MARGARET ASHCROFT as Gwen Riley, COLIN BAKER as Paul Merroney, LIZA GODDARD as April Merroney and KATE O'MARA as Jane Maxwell." [via]

This Christmas, don't give books to non-readers:
"For bibliophiles, it is tempting to buy books as presents to ‘fix’ people who don’t read – but this is snobbery of the worst kind."

“A wheelchair in the grotto just doesn’t work”: when children are excluded at Christmas:
"New research finds tens of thousands of children with disabilities will be turned away from a Christmas activity. We hear from parents struggling this year."

Seasonal deliveries: hay on a sleigh and milk from Ma (1960):
"There’s hay for horses in Welshpool snow, and more is used in springtime round chilly lambs, when mothers’ milk is flowing for the new-borns."

‘Greatest Showman’ Cast to Perform Live Trailer During Fox’s ‘A Christmas Story’ Musical:
"Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya are all participating in a one-of-a-kind marketing experiment from 20th Century Fox, staging a live trailer for their new musical “The Greatest Showman.”"

Has Christmas dinner had its day?
"Zoe Williams and Henry Dimbleby argue over whether Christmas dinner is a grand old tradition—or a bland meal that should be relegated to the past."

Christmas Links #14



2017 National Film Registry Is More Than a 'Field of Dreams':
"Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced the 2017 selections to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Selected for their cultural, historic and/or aesthetic importance, these 25 motion pictures range from an early film of the New York subway in 1905 and the musical biopic “La Bamba” to the holiday action thriller “Die Hard” and “The Goonies,” the adventure tale of a band of misfits."

Can Christmas music make you ill?
"It's thought that repeated exposure to seasonal songs can be bad for your brain, but is there any truth to the belief?"

‘Layaway angel’ pays for Christmas gift orders at Leominster toy store:
"A “layaway angel” paid off thousands of dollars of gift orders at a Toys R Us in Leominster Saturday, making the holiday season a little more joyful for about 35 local families, a company spokeswoman said."

what we’ve got here is… failure to communicate:
"Who’s done their Christmas list to Father Christmas yet? Have you sat down, put on a bit Band Aid, poured the sherry? Crayon poised to spell out in no uncertain terms what it is you want?"

Christmas at King’s College, Cambridge:
"Every Christmas Eve King’s College, Cambridge holds its famous annual ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s.’ Andrew Hammond, Chaplain of King’s College, takes us behind the scenes of this year’s service."

Talking turkey: the best culinary hacks for Christmas dinner:
"Bake Off judge Prue Leith had said she freezes a stuffed bird to get ahead on the big day. Here are some other tips to stop you winging it on 25 December."

Christmas tree used to decorate sinkhole:
"No matter what part of Jackson you live in, you've experienced effects from the capital city's crumbling infrastructure. Residents in Belhaven are now showing their creativity in decorating one sinkhole for the Christmas season."

Christmas Links #13



Candy cane crisps, a brioche snow globe, and pudding smoothie: The ultimate Christmas lunchbreak guide:
"If, like the conscientious elves in the New Statesman office, you’re working until the bitter festive end, you’ll need a lot of high street Christmas food to get you through those long lunchbreaks. Here are our picks – and warnings."

18 Christmas Food Quirks That British People Don't Realise Are Weird:
"1. Buying a tub of Celebrations and stealing all your favourites before anyone else can have them."

Snow Ain’t the Only Thing White During Christmas, so I Give You the Top 10 Blackest Holiday TV Shows and Movies:
"My son Quinn loves Christmas. Like—he loves it in a watch-How the Grinch Stole Christmas-on-the-Fourth of July kind of way."

Gaumont’s French Christmas Comedy ‘Santa & Cie’ Set for Big Rollout in China:
"After smashing the French B.O. with an estimated €3.5 million in five days, Alain Chabat’s fantasy-filled Christmas comedy “Santa & Cie” will be getting a wide release in China on Dec. 15."

London Euston to become Christmas Day homeless shelter:
"London's Euston station will be turned into a shelter for the homeless on Christmas Day. The station concourse will be filled with decorations and tables set for a full festive dinner on 25 December. Rail workers and charity staff will serve food to 200 rough sleepers invited to the event."

C7 bulbs or C9s? How Christmas lights became a nerdy obsession:
"Adorning trees with electric lights has been common since the early 1900s. Whether you love them – or love complaining about your neighbours’ – this year their ubiquity and inventiveness has become undeniable."

Christmas Links #12



Maritime town may have inspired well-known Christmas carol:
"The sights and sounds of the holidays are everywhere, and as residents of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia embrace the spirit of the season, one Christmas classic is likely playing in the background."

Here’s a Video of President Obama Saying “Merry Christmas” Over and Over and Over:
"One of the more bizarre paranoias of modern U.S. political culture concerns the so-called War on Christmas, in which liberals are alleged to seek the elimination of Christianity from the public sphere via a political-correctness campaign against (among other things) the phrase Merry Christmas. Liberals won't let you say Merry Christmas, it is believed, because they look down their noses at Christians and/or are too sensitive to the potential hurt feelings of minority groups like Jews and Muslims."

Where To Find Vegan Christmas Sandwiches On The High Street:
"More than half a million people in the UK now follow a vegan diet and retailers are finally cottoning on to the fact that there’s more to Christmas than turkey."

The 30 Weirdest Christmas Songs:
"Christmas songs are pretty fucking weird by definition. Whether praising the infant Jesus or celebrating the sounds, smells, and/or meteorological trends of late December in the Western Hemisphere, Christmas songs tend to warp our reception through simple repetition alone. Who among us hasn’t wanted to tear out their hair at the umpteenth dental-office rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Jingle Bells,” or even Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”?"

What’s It Like to Wear the Big Red Suit?
"If a child asks me if I’m the real Santa, I usually ask, “What do you think?” This sort of puts them on the spot, because they don’t want to say I’m not the real Santa and jeopardize their wish list."

Christmas Links #11



Christmas celebrations fuel huge public demand for new carols:
"As many as 300 new carols have been written this year, the result of enduring public affection and a boom in competitions and commissions from choirs, churches, schools and broadcasters."

Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas is on the BBC iPlayer.
"A collection of traditional recipes, together with Fanny's practical know-how, make for a successful Christmas."

How you can have a cooking-free Christmas:
"The company Cook prepares frozen ready meals at its kitchen in Kent and you can buy Christmas lunch for two for £35. Or for 12 people it's £175. Last year they sold 18,000 prepared turkeys and this year they expect to sell a third more. Pam Keene runs their shop in Tunbridge."

How To Not Spoil Your Kids This Christmas:
"Holidays mean one thing to many kids: presents. You've probably heard a parent of young children say something along the lines of: "It's all worth it to see their smiling faces.""

Why Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” is the most addictive holiday song ever:
"It’s that time again! Mariah-Christmas is upon us, and it doesn’t care if you observe the holiday in the Judeo-Christian-ugly-sweater way. Or in the agnostic-consumer tradition. Or if you’re just trying to buy groceries in a store with a PA system."

Christmas Links #10



Mr. Dickens First Reading:
"Mr. DICKENS gave his first reading in NewYork last evening at Steinway Hall. The hall was filled, of course, but, thanks to the admirablo arrangements, it was not crowded nor made in the least uncomfortable by the pressure of those who were unprovided with tickets for seats." (from: NYT, December 10, 1867)

30 years of Fairytale of New York: 10 true tales behind the Pogues' Christmas favourite:
"For 30 years the bells have been “ringing out” for one of our favourite Christmas songs. Ironically, it is anything but warm and fuzzy. We all know the lyrics to the beloved Fairytale of New York, but how much do you know about the song and its legacy?"

I’m easy to buy for, just put the Christmas presents of my teenage years on repeat:
"Christmas again. Shopping again. Trying to fill up a stocking again. I wonder when I’ll stop doing these for the kids. Not for many years, I suspect. Not till the shops have run out of mini bottles of nail polish, and glittery false eyelashes, and bath plugs in the shape of an actual pug. Yes, I’ve been looking at the “stocking filler” suggestions again, which are only partially helpful, but not as completely insane as the “gifts for men” lists."

31 Awesome Gifts Every Early-'90s Girl Wanted For Christmas:
"1. This Barbie Corvette that would totally allow you to drive around your neighborhood while talking on the ~cool~ carphone."

'A Christmas miracle': heavy snow falls in southern Texas for first time in years:
"Snowfall has blanketed parts of the Deep South, including southern Texas, delighting schoolchildren and knocking out power to thousands."

Christmas Links #9



Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino Doesn't Taste Like Melted Tinsel!
"I would like to start by saying that my Christmas Tree Frappuccino did not look like the header photo and I laughed really loudly when the barista handed it to me, causing her to giggle as well."

Fake pants seized in Christmas crackdown on counterfeits:
"Border officials have seized £1.5m worth of counterfeit Calvin Klein pants, along with fake Dyson fans, Superdry hoodies and Nike shoes. The authorities are using the hauls to highlight the risk of buying cut-price, substandard counterfeits at Christmas."

This Guy Covered His House With 100,000 Christmas Lights:
"Let it gooooo."

The Christmas Wreath:
"Christmas went all through our two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. It was one of my mother’s House Rules. She hung felt stockings inside the front door and lined the hallway with quilled-paper Santas, candy canes, and dolls. Our artificial tree bulged outward from one corner of the living room, its not-quite-forest-green branches weighted ridiculously with lights and tinsel and garland and ornaments. There was plastic mistletoe above the entrance to the kitchen, which doubled as the studio where my mother built a gingerbread house every year."

Scousers' amazing response to shopkeeper's Christmas plea:
"A struggling Liverpool shopkeeper made a heartfelt plea for shoppers to buy local this Christmas - and Scousers responded in an amazing way."

10 Great Christmas-Adjacent Movies That Aren’t Die Hard:
"Whenever we discuss our favorite Christmas movies, there’s always that one guy (and it’s always a guy) who chimes in, “What about Die Hard?” In fact, I’m sure that someone in the comment section of this article will say something like, “Dude, you forgot Die Hard!”"

Christmas Links #8



2017 Christmas Chocolate Collection:
[Editor's note: Annual appeal to buy selection boxes for homeless children in Liverpool. The link gives some explanation. You can donate here.]

Why I’m not going to any Christmas parties this year:
"There’s a warm, festive glow in the air right now. End-of-year bonuses lie just around the corner while bosses take their feet ever so slightly off the pedal. Shops have their Yuletide tunes on loop, and there’s chocolate literally everywhere."

12 Docs of Christmas:
"Everyone has their favorite Christmas movies, but rarely are they of the documentary kind. Maybe that’s because most nonfiction films involving the holiday and its iconography are downright depressing. There’s not much of a story in real people having a merry Christmas. So, the interest is in unfortunate circumstances, like foreclosure and death. But there are a few feel-good and at least matter-of-fact docs about the holiday."

The Depressing Reality of Nonfiction Christmas Movies:
"There is a good reason why documentaries set at Christmas are so depressing. Not all, but many nonfiction films focus on problems, issues, tragedies, and unfortunate situations and circumstances that would be bad enough on their own but are heightened in devastation when the holidays are involved." [alternative take]

Holiday decorations gone wild: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer carcass?
"During the holidays you’re most likely to see cute Santa decorations or beautifully lit trees, but in the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans there’s a home with something a little different."

Steven Moffat interviewed by Graham Kibble-White for TV Choice:
"It’s the end of an era. On Christmas Day, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will regenerate into the character’s 13th incarnation, to be played by Jodie Whitaker. But he’s not the only person leaving the show. The story also marks the departure of showrunner Steven Moffat, who’s been in the role since 2009. TV Choice caught up with him to look ahead to the upcoming special, Twice Upon A Time, in which the Twelfth Doctor meets the First, and to look back at his time steering the Tardis..."

Gary Bainbridge explains why Die Hard is a Christmas film:
"A FEW years ago I wrote a column about the Christmas film Elf in which I explained in painstaking if compelling detail why I thought it wasn’t any good. That done, I gave it the inflammatory headline “Why You Are Wrong To Like The Film Elf”."

Christmas Links #7



TIME Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers.
"Movie stars are supposedly nothing like you and me. They're svelte, glamorous, self-­possessed. They wear dresses we can't afford and live in houses we can only dream of. Yet it turns out that—in the most painful and personal ways—movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew."

Finishing touches to Murillo:
"The practical treatment of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory (1673) finished in August, marking the end of a year-long major conservation project, which you can track in my previous blog posts." [editor's note: The painting is returning to The Walker Art Gallery after restoration.]

Bone fragment could 'belong to Santa':
"A fragment of bone said to belong to the fourth-century saint who inspired the story of Santa Claus could indeed be from the legend himself, scientists have said."

Hour Children Holiday 2017 Wish List:
"Hour Children’s mission is to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives. To accomplish this, Hour Children provides compassionate and comprehensive services and encourages all to live and interact with dignity and respect."

20 Christmas Truths That No One Denies:
"1) Multicolored lights are superior to white lights for tree decorating purpose."

What time is The Miniaturist on TV this Christmas?
"Romola Garai and Anya Taylor-Joy star in this unusual period drama, adapted from Jessie Burton's critically-acclaimed novel."

10 For Christmas:
"Bearing festive gifts from past genre shows, Mark Clapham ranks his favourite Christmas episodes, sensibly avoiding Doctor Who, which could have a top 10 of its own."

Majority of Christmas toy catalogues play to gender stereotypes, study finds:

"With the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) introducing new rules to crackdown on gender stereotypes in advertising and the likes of Unilever making bold changes to improve the way women are portrayed in its ads, the marketing industry has shown it is open to change. [...]
However, a new study from Let Toys Be Toys, shows this year’s Christmas catalogues are still a long way from avoiding gender stereotyping children."

10 great indie Christmas films:
"When it comes to Christmas time, much of our Yuletide viewing can tend towards overfamiliar and sentimental classics: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Holiday Inn (1942), White Christmas (1954) and the like. Even raucous comedies like Bad Santa (2003) can lose some of their edge through repeated viewing."

Christmas Links #6



John Byrne painting features on first minister's Christmas card:
"A painting by artist and writer John Byrne will feature on the first minister's Christmas card this year."

The Great Expedition (1959):
"Two young children skip school to do their Christmas shopping on Oxford Street."

These Are Four Toys That "Grinch Bots" Ruined This Christmas:
"Cyber bots are buying up some of the most popular holiday toys and selling them on third party sites for hundreds to thousands of dollars, according to Senator Charles Schumer's office."

Giant baubles, Moz the Monster and brussels sprouts: retailers’ Christmas window displays:
"As the festive season gets into full swing, we take a look at retailers’ flagship stores in London to see how shop windows are being used to attract seasonal shoppers in the capital."

Cara Delevingne’s Perfect Christmas:
"Just before hosting her megawatt Burberry Christmas party, the supermodel and actress sat down with Vogue to talk about how to do the festive season Delevingne style."

Christmas Links #5



How a Tweet About a Gay, Black Santa Turned Into a Children's Book:
"The plot of Santa’s Husband seems like it’s reverse-engineered from a homophobic racist’s nightmare. The story itself is the very innocent and sweet (and true, according to the book) tale of Santa and his husband and their life together, complimented by detailed and playful watercolor illustrations."

32 Things Guaranteed To Happen In The Office During Christmas:
"There's always one person in the office who is way too enthusiastic about Christmas far too early."

The Most Spectacular Designer Christmas Trees To See This Season:
"The holiday season is officially upon us, kicking into high gear as soon as the last of the Thanksgiving plates were cleared and shoppers bundled up to camp outside a Best Buy for $50 off a flatscreen. Though the Christmas carols have long begun creeping through the radio waves and holiday décor put out for sale as early as September, we believe that the festivities truly begin only once we've set out to pick out our Christmas trees."

Police: Squirrel blamed for vandalizing Christmas lights:
"It was a squirrel that nearly stole Christmas in a New Jersey town."

Cyrpus: Sophia Patsalides Gets Festive With "Here For Christmas"
"Junior Eurovision may be over for another year, but with Christmas right around the corner we’re staying wide-eyed and bushy-tailed."

Gwen Stefani's Christmas album: "Every year after you die you get to be revisited"
"Gwen tells Chris (Evens) about making her new album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas."

10 Best Christmas Hip-Hop Songs, Ranked:
"From the Temptations’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” to John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” to Oscar Peterson’s “White Christmas,” black folks have contributed to the sonic landscape of the Christmas holiday in unforgettable fashion."

A childhood memory of 'nicest gift' prompts festive cheer:
"'Tis the season to be giving and just as we plan presents for loved ones, we also remember the gifts we've received and sometimes it's the smallest things which make the biggest memories of all."

Pasteles, a Puerto Rican Tradition, Have a Special Savor Now:
"After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, it took two weeks for Harry Franqui-Rivera to reach his 76-year-old mother, Amelia, by phone at her home on the island’s west coast. [...] When he did, Mr. Franqui-Rivera, a history professor at Bloomfield College in New Jersey, found that her main concern wasn’t the lack of electricity or running water. It was the loss of her Christmas pasteles."

Cake-Flavored Pepsi Coming To Japan:
"In Japan, Christmas is typically celebrated with a cake. Pepsi is celebrating it with a limited edition release called “Christmas Cola.”"

My childhood Christmas by Conchita Wurst, Carlos Acosta, Oti Mabuse and more:

"Forget turkey, crackers and carols. Oti Mabuse has a barbecue on the beach, Alma hits the sauna, Sofie Hagen hunts for a marzipan pig and Conchita Wurst hides from Krampus the horned monster."

Review 2017:
A Statement.



About The short version is - there won't be a Review 2017 this year.

Here's the extended naval gazing.

Every Frame A Painting is a superb YouTube video essay series considering various aspects of filmmaking from a quasi-academic perspective. You might remember them from such works as Vancouver Never Plays Itself and Edgar Wright - How To Do Visual Comedy. Their last video The MARVEL Symphonic Universe was released over a year ago despite them having a very regular output until that point.

Yesterday they announced, to the surprise of only a few people, that they've stopped work on the series, putting out what amounts to the script for an imaginary installment in which they explain the pleasures of making the series and the trials, notably trying to make a series which is visually interesting whilst working within YouTube's restrictive copyright robots.

They explain that various freelance projects and other work has meant they simply don't have the time to conceive, edit, research or produce good work and so they've decided that actually they've produced an excellent body of work, that nothing lasts forever and nor should it and it's time to get on with their lives.  With over a million views for most videos, the channels passing hasn't gone unnoticed.

Which has inspired me to come clean about Review 2017, both to you and myself.  There will be no Review 2017.  For the first time since 2003, this blog will not have an end of year review, at least not the expansive, collaborative endeavour which I know some of you have looked forward to year on year.  None.  The Opinion Engine has finally run down.

It's for much the same reason as the EFAP people.  I haven't had the time to think of a theme, let alone begin the admin process of putting out invites for potential contributors or simply throwing something together myself.  I've been busy with work and more interested in relaxing in the spaces between, watching a few films, that sort of thing, than spending much more time in front of a computer.

I did try to do something with the 642 project, bringing in elements of this year into the pieces, but given that I'm also giving that stupid nonsense the push due to the increasing esoteric and non-PC suggestions (and general sense of it becoming a trial rather than a fun diversion), that wasn't going to work.  Plus half hearted.  A stop gap.  A hope that something will come good.  Nothing ever does under those circumstances.

A rerun of the 2016 positivity list was considered, but let's face it 2017 has been rough, the fire to last year's frying pan and even if 2018, fingers crossed, will be the corrective, many of us are just exhausted by the whole business.  Some nice things have happened (Hey Jodie!) but mainly its been a like trudging through British Home Stores half an hour before it closing forever still unable to find anything to buy.

Perhaps I'll knock together a listicle of cultural things I've liked in the week between Christmas and New Year, but since that will actually be about 2017 which has rarely been the point of these reviews, it'll be little more than a placeholder.  So enjoy the Christmas Links instead as my way of marking the closing of the year and we'll see what happens in 2018.

Christmas Links #4



Have Yourself a Very '70s Christmas Dinner:
"Succulent golden turkey enveloped in aspic, the finest of brussels sprouts shaped in a mold, more of the finest brussels sprouts scattered on a rigid bed of noodles, and the creamiest of cheese sauces, a rich, creamy blue-cheese mousse, and a snowman cake that would scare even the toughest of your aunts. Such are the dishes that Christmas dreams are made of."

Tofu turkey with all the trimmings? Britain carves out a meat-free Christmas
"Forget about the Christmas nut roast – those who don’t eat meat are going to be spoilt for choice on 25 December as Britain’s supermarkets roll out their biggest range of festive vegan and vegetarian food to date."

How Dickens's A Christmas Carol was almost called something else:
"You might not know this but A Christmas Carol almost didn't get published and was almost called something else..."

London's Christmas Fairs:
"If Christmas shopping is getting you down, why not spend your money at a holly-bedecked plywood chalet instead? London has several festive market clusters, so I've been to six, ensuring that my Scroogier readers don't have to."

Dreading Christmas with the inlaws. Help me make sense of my situation:
"I am chronically ill in a mixed-race relationship. My in laws are nice enough, but boss me around a bit regarding my illness and in general are purveyors of outdated simplistic notions of people from developing countries."

The Best Movies That Are Kind Of About Christmas:

"You find yourself at a party where everyone is talking about favorite Christmas movies. Sure, you could say “Elf,” which you know in the deep ventricles of your cold and bitter heart is an uplifting film that inspires you annually. But instead, you go for the classic: “Oh, my favorite Christmas movie is ‘Die Hard.’”"

You are being held at gunpoint, and your assailant says you have 10 seconds to make him/her change their mind about shooting you. What do you say?



642 "I know you want to test what you said during the election campaign but do you really think all of your supporters would remain on-board? Also given the jurisdiction I can't imagine that you wouldn't be arrested no matter what office you hold."

Christmas Links #3



A New Jersey Mall Built an Amazing A Christmas Story Display for Santa Photos:
"When you’re around 10 years old, you do everything you possibly can to avoid the Santa Claus display at your local mall. But not if you live in Cherry Hill, NJ, because the mall there built a Santa display that’s a perfect miniature replica of Ralphie Parker’s house from A Christmas Story—leg lamp and all."

Santa's on his way: Tate Britain goes all flash with Christmas display:
"When reindeer start flashing and galloping across suburbia it can provoke bouts of furious competitive lighting. It remains to be seen whether MI6, just across the Thames in London, will break out in a blizzard of snowflakes and sleigh bells once the spooks see what Tate Britain has done."

I Tried A Diet Without Sugar, Gluten, And Dairy For Three Months:

"Hi, I'm Michelle! I just turned 40 last month and run operations at BuzzFeed. I'm a competitive athlete and eat healthily, besides a weakness for cookies."

Family says huge Christmas display may end after complaints:
"The Connecticut Post reports the Halliwell family's huge decorative display in Fairfield drew about 30,000 visitors last holiday season, not counting those who drove by without stopping. The Halliwells have been putting up the display for 18 years.."

President Kennedy Discusses Peace at 1962 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:

"Only a couple months after Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy discusses Peace on Earth."

The woman/man across from you at a cafe or cubicle: What did she or he dream last night?



642 A large bang wakes me up and I glance over at my phone and I realise I forgot to set the alarm and I'm running late for work.

I rush through the toilet, bathroom and kitchen not really having time for a cup of tea and some toast but eating them anyway.

Then run out of the house into the street, except it isn't my street, it's a street which I sometimes have in my dreams which is a mix of things I must have seen on television or lived in at university.

As I get to the bus stop the bus is driving away.

It's then I realise I'm feeling a bit cold and that as is so often the case in my dreams I'm completely naked and everyone is looking at me.

I try to use my limbs to try and cover myself up and start running back towards home but it's not there any more.

I run to the next street and then the next but my house isn't there.

So I decide to run towards work, but the street gives way to a city I don't recognise.

I see another bus, but again I can't get on.

Then I hear the sound of a horse slowing down next to me and looking up see Gal Gadot smiling at me.

But it's not the actress, it's actually Wonder Woman from the film.

"I have you" she says and puts her arm out towards me smiling.

I grab her hand and she pulls me onto the back of the horse behind her and I tightly  hold of her waist with both hands and we're off galloping through the streets between cars, and it's a wide boulevard like you'd find in a large city but the streets are empty. 

Then there's another loud noise and the "scene" changes and I'm standing in a muddy battlefield.

I hear gunshots and I start to run forward with a shield in hand and I'm not just with Wonder Woman now, I am Wonder Woman in the scene from the film, being showered in a hail of bullets determined to get to the other side.

I can't tell if I look like her, but I feel powerful and I have her armour and boots on.

I run and run and run and eventually reach the other trench, but its not filled with Germans but the people I work with and they're all looking at me because I'm naked again and that's when my alarm woke me up.

Christmas Links #2



Why The Apartment is the greatest Christmas film of all time:
"The Apartment is the perfect Christmas film. Not Christmas as we'd like it to be – roaring fires, jingle bells, snow – but Christmas as it is in reality. Sometimes joyful, sometimes mundane, sometimes lonely. The holiday season has always offered introspection: we hope for a moment of thankfulness, but life in its strange cruelty can, for some, feel like the knife is only being dug deeper, as hard as we may try to stifle the prospect."

Geeks Vs Loneliness: counting Christmas blessings:
"Cards on the table - I’m a Bah Humbug kind of person. Christmas comes but once a year for which I am thankful. This year it appears to be having a four month gestation period. The slush factor kicks in right about the time The X Factor raises its many hydra-ed head. And with it comes the ants of anxiety."

‘Last Christmas’ is the greatest Christmas song, so I made a 25-minute long version:
"No matter how much fun Christmas Day is this year, it will be a day tinged with sadness, for it will mark the first anniversary of the death of George Michael."

Deck the Halls with Vince Guaraldi:
"It’s that time of year. Most holiday Muzak seems to do little more than contaminate the air, but Vince Guaraldi’s contribution remains comparatively fresh. The four best tracks from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are in steady rotation. Guaraldi’s cover of “O Tannenbaum” is simple and “jazzy”; the slightly bland “Skating” offers rolling thirds in waltz time; “Christmas Time Is Here” is an excellent song given extra character by a children’s chorus. This is all good enough music, but there’s no doubt that the headliner is one of the most famous piano pieces of all time, “Linus and Lucy.”"

Santa’s Grotto for Dogs returns to Norwich this Christmas:
"Calling all dog owners! Here’s your chance to get your pet well and truly into the festive spirit this winter."

Derby cordoned-off Christmas tree 'an embarrassment':
"A large cordon placed around a city's Christmas tree for "public safety" has been criticised for looking "horrible"."

Derby Christmas tree 'exclusion zone' was 'over cautious', council says:
"A council has admitted it was "over cautious" when it installed a widely-ridiculed cordon around a Christmas tree for public safety."

Your mom has started online dating. She's going on four or five dates a week, splitting her time among three men. She wants tell you more about it than you want to hear. For each man, describe in her words the details which make you uncomfortable.

642 [Bit of a strange one this. My parents have been married since the late 60s. Brave heart, Tegan.]

(1) He voted leave at the Brexit referendum but says that didn't understand what it was all about really. He's not sure what he'd vote for next.

(2) He says Twitter avatar is an egg. He doesn't see the point in changing it.

(3) His favourite actor is Mark Rylance. His favourite film is Love Actually. He watches Good Morning Britain.

Write the first sentence of your obituary.



642 "Stuart Ian Burns would often tell people he'd live forever and as with so many thing in his life, including that 2017 would be the corrective for the awful 2016, he was very wrong about that."

Christmas Links #1



We Need to Move Christmas:
"The worst thing about Christmas is that it makes winter longer, and unbearably so. Thanksgiving ends and suddenly it’s supposed to be Christmas, even though there are still orange leaves here and there, which some people—I would venture to say a lot of people—like. Fall is tolerable enough that we don’t need to run out the clock on it, and yet we do, by sticking Christmas right after Thanksgiving, when as a group, we are tired to our bones, but not of the right things, and unable to admit it. We’re tired of our families, of hearty foods, of holidays themselves. You know you’ve got a problem on your hands when you’re literally tired of love. Why not give ourselves a break and move Christmas to the end of January?"

Southaven High choir serenades Peabody with Christmas carols:
"Mid-South students are bringing the holiday cheer to the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis."

The Great Christmas Tree Shortage:

"If you end up in a frantic scramble to find a Christmas tree in the coming weeks, or you suffer sticker shock at tree prices this year, you can probably blame China—or more specifically, the popularity of Nutella in China."

Police ruin Christmas spirit by pulling over car carrying a massive tree:
"You know, maybe everyone's favorite felonious scam artist evangelist Jim Bakker was right when he said the goberment wants to outlaw Merry Christmas."

Official Christmas Number 1 2017: The contenders:
The race for the biggest chart battle of the year is underway - here's who is in line to claim this year's Christmas Number 1.

Rise in number of dogs abandoned in Christmas run-up:
"Charities in the UK and Ireland are seeing an increase in dogs being dumped or sent to rescue centres. The RSPCA has rescued 120 in two weeks."

A Woman Needed Help Finding A Special Toy Truck For Her Brother With Disabilities And Internet Came Through:
"Cassie Gretschel's little brother, Max, loves a specific, discontinued Tonka toy truck that his family has been getting him for Christmas for the past 17 years. But they've been getting harder and harder to find, so she asked the internet for help and cue the feels."

This Looks Terrible! Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa:
"As a pop culture writer, I live for the thrill of discovery. I live to discover art, but more often, and more importantly, trash. But not just any trash. No, I live for transcendent trash. I live for garbage that gets under your skin and infects your soul. I live for the kind of exquisitely unself-conscious trash that needs to be shared with the world, if only so that readers can share my pain and confusion. "

Have a happy homeopathic Christmas with Gwyneth Paltrow:
"Season’s greetings! Goop’s annual gift guide is out and, with $250 Christian Louboutin baby shoes and a trip to something called the ‘The Integratron’, there’s something for everyone."

Write the first sentence of a feature profile of you in a business magazine.



642 Stuart Ian Burns is laughing, "At a certain point I even thought I might be able to monetise my blog. Three seconds later, my delusions of grandeur lifted. Who would pay me to write this rubbish?"

Write the first sentence of a feature profile of you in a men's fashion magazine.



642 "If anyone asks, I always tell them I'm a bit 'man at Asda' " Burns grins as we relax onto the park bench where we're to conduct this interview, "But I bought this t-shirt from Amazon and the jumper is from M&S."

At a banquet in Kazakhstan, you are greeted as a guest of honor and served the traditional sheep's eyeball. Respectfully, you decline. You are then offered the sheep's tongue, instead. What's your excuse this time?



642 "Pass the salt."

[There's an unpleasant non-PC thread running through the book of which this is an example, redolent of the kind of xenophobic stereotyping exemplified by Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat. As a test I actually googled Kazakhstan and "sheep's eyeball" and the only results are from other websites which have used it as a writing prompt. I'm not playing this game, especially since Tom Kitchen once cooked them on television and they sounded quite tasty.]