Christmas Links #11

Have a Creepy Little Christmas with These Unsettling Victorian Cards:
"Anthropomorphic cats, murderous frogs, and insects dancing by the moonlight aren’t exactly part of our Christmas card tradition today."

7,000 tonnes of dried fruit: inside the world's largest mince pie factory:
"Mr Kipling factory in Barnsley expects to crank out a record 200m minces pies in the run-up to this Christmas"

Hamlet - Coming in 2017:
Big Finish is excited to announce details for a brand-new audio production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet - starring Alexander Vlahos... Coming in 2017 is a brand new production of Hamlet on audio, from the Big Finish team behind the much acclaimed The Confessions of Dorian Gray."

Dreaming of a White Christmas: ‘Race,’ Christmas, and Children’s Literature:
"One way of measuring the whiteness of Christmas in American or British “culture” is in the holiday section of the children’s bookstore. I went this year and looked at two: the big chain bookstore in the strip mall, and the independent bookstore within walking distance of my house."

Black Mirror: It is time for more diversity and models of all races being seen.
"We are bombarded everyday with flashy advertisement, billboards and television ads that try to inspire us to buy the products that are hitting the market. Something that always bothered me when you see these amazing images that very rarely you ever see a black woman on them. When growing up as a girl I always wondered, why the big brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Guess and many others rarely seem to use a black model? And if they do, a very small group of black models does make the cut here and there, but that group seems to remain pretty much identical over a long period of time."

Bizarre bids for Christmas Number 1:
"The Killers always get into the Christmas spirit, releasing a festive track pretty much every year. Perhaps the weirdest and most tongue-in-cheek of all is this one from 2009, with Brandon rocking his very best Movember 'tache, getting abducted by a rather disheveled Santa and pleading not to be murdered. Festive."

One Delightfully Clever & Slightly Shakespearean Way to Fight Trolls:
"Award-winning journalist Summer Brennan pulled a social media switcheroo and uploaded her brother’s photo as her Twitter profile pic. The effect it had on her mentions was astounding."

'It is like the town that Christmas forgot'
"Huyton residents speak out about 'joyless' town in 'darkness' as festive decorations fail to appear in the centre."

This Is Where Homeless Children Will Be Sleeping This Christmas:
"This Christmas a record 120,000 children in England will be homeless, and will face the uncertainty and stress of living in temporary accommodation."

Beard Lights Will Turn Your Beard Into A Christmas Tree:
"Forget beard baubles and glitter beards, hipsters are now opting for twinkling fairy lights as the latest way to add an extra festive touch to chin fuzz in 2016’s hottest Christmas trend."

Christmas Links #10

The One Part of 'Love, Actually' We Should All Be Able to Agree is Garbage:
"It’s December 1st, which means it’s time to ignite our month-long Pajiba Civil War about that most divisive of Christmas movies: Love, Actually. Worry not, dear Pajibans, for we have some #content planned for you throughout the month—there may or may not be a Very Serious Discussion post in the wings, except psych, there totally is, and spoiler alert: Andrew Lincoln is a garbage lay. But before the brother-against-brother gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair begins—and it will be bloody, oh, it will be bloody—I am taking this moment to enjoy one last brief, fleeting moment of Love, Actually solidarity. No matter your feelings on the movie itself, even the most diehard Love, Actually supporter (WRONG) must admit: The clothes fucking suck."
[Editor: This heroic person is posting something every day illustrating how rubbish Love Actually is. Example: What is Billy Bob doing to Natalie's head?]

The Northern Soul Podcast: Christmas horror stories:
"On this month’s Northern Soul Podcast, Laura Brown talks to four Northern horror writers about Christmas, ghosts, M.R. James and TV specials. She hears from John Reppion and Leah Moore, a husband and wife team from Liverpool who write comics. They have just published Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, an illustrated comic adapted from stories by M.R. James."

When Greg Lake wrote to the Guardian about 'I Believe in Father Christmas':
"Greg Lake, who has died this week aged 69, wrote a letter to the Guardian in 2005 about his Christmas hit I Believe in Father Christmas, in answer to a reader question about the plot of a movie."

A Helicopter Is Hands Down The Best Way To Transport Christmas Trees:
"It's fast, it's fun and it won't get your ugly Christmas sweater all covered in sap."

The world’s largest Rube Goldberg machine is here to light a damn Christmas tree:
"For decades, there have been competitions to make the most convoluted and impractical Rube Goldberg machines possible, but Guinness has bestowed the current crown on a team from Scandiweb, a Latvian e-commerce company. This record-setting machine takes over four minutes and dozens of ridiculous but delightful steps in order to light a giant Christmas tree in the town of Riga."

Captain Sisko & the DS9 Ensemble sing "Wonderful Deep Space Nine":
"In the grand tradition of Star Trek captains singing holiday standards, for your consideration: "Wonderful Deep Space Nine" sung by Captain Sisko, Major Kira, Constable Odo, Lieutenant Commander Worf, Chief O'Brien, Congenial Barkeep Quark, Plain Simple Garak, and the rest of the Star Trek: DS9 ensemble. Special appearances by Morn, Martok, Moogie, and Vorta Iggy Pop."

A Star Wars PSA by Felicity Jones:
"There’s been a lot of great interviews and insight to come out of the Rogue One junket, but this is by far my favorite."
[editor: seriously amazing, especially the Doctor Who reference.]

How Ink Master Became An Unexpected Lesson in Feminist Strategy:
"AMERICA DIDN’T GET its first woman president this year. That title went to a reality TV star instead. But on reality TV tonight, odds are that America will get its first woman Ink Master—contestants Kelly Doty and Ryan Ashley Malarkey are two of the three finalists. And if it happens, it will very likely be because the women on the show took a hint from the Obama administration."

The 10 Best Undistributed Movies of 2016:
"Not every new movie is lucky enough to find its way to theaters. Here's a look at some of the neglected gems from this year."

Vintage ‘Glass Menagerie’ Performance Will Return to Air:
"“I’m a pretty good detective,” Jane Klain said, but she is no badge-wielding, revolver-packing gumshoe. She is in charge of research services for a museum. The latest product of her sleuthing was playing on a computer on the desk behind her — a 104-minute performance of “The Glass Menagerie” starring Shirley Booth, Hal Holbrook and Barbara Loden that was broadcast 50 years ago. As far as anyone knew, the master videotape was lost."

Happy Endings reunion: Watch the cast read the new script for a 'lost' episode:
"t took a while — 1,275 days, for those who enjoy marking long stretches of time with days instead of months and years. But fans of Happy Endings finally got what they wanted (or the closest thing to it) when the cast of the beloved, gone-too-soon cult comedy reunited at EW PopFest in October to perform a read-through of a spanking-new script."

BBC Genome: Advent Calendar Day 8: Festive Frontispiece:
"Radio Times often commissioned decorative borders for Christmas listings pages, and other artwork, including this evocative full-page snow scene from the 1930 festive issue. It’s not the actual front cover, but a sort of visual frontispiece before the main part of the issue, to help listeners (there weren’t very many viewers in 1930) get in the festive mood. We hope it does the same for you!"

The First Family Looks Incredible in Their Final White House Christmas Card:
"According to tradition, the White House sends out a holiday card to friends, political supporters, and members of the media. This year's greeting is bittersweet because it will be the last one from President Barack Obama after eight years in office."

How Green Is Your Christmas Tree?
"Every year, when comes the time to prepare for the Christmas Holidays, one question seems to come back time and time again: Should one buy a natural or an artificial Christmas tree?"

Check out Britain's deepest Christmas grotto in a Yorkshire coal mine:
"You may never have thought it was a thing, but Britain has a deepest Christmas Grotto – and it’s 140 metres underground."

Aladdin Cast Make Cancer Patient Katie's Christmas Wish Come True:
"14-year-old Katie Wright from Childwall was born with Down’s Syndrome and is a huge panto fan but is unable to go and watch Aladdin which opens tonight as she is currently undergoing gruelling chemotherapy at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. It would be dangerous for Katie to sit in the audience amongst lots of other people due to risk of infection."

Eurovision selection show promoted to BBC Two:
"The BBC has promoted the show that will decide who represents the UK at Eurovision to BBC Two in a live show at the end of January."

Playing Mary was my ‘feminist awakening’:
"Broadcaster Samira Ahmed played a silent Mary in her school Nativity in 1971. She claims, ‘It was a very interesting lesson in how the ultimate woman might be someone who's sitting there being looked at’."

As It Happened: 100 Women Wikipedia add-a-thon:
"'Really important' to get more women involved, says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales."

17 WTF Amazon Items You Didn’t Know You Wanted For Christmas:
"1. A Jeff Goldblum shower curtain."

Christmas Links #9: Mixtape 2006.

Music You may have noticed in the past couple of days our tribe has been posting selfies of how we look now along with a photo of our faces from ten years ago.  Because I don't have any photographs of myself from back then to hand and the weight loss is so extreme you'd think it was two different people anyway, here's something else which is completely different.

In 2006, each of my Christmas cards, back when I could afford to post them to dozens of people across the world, included a mix cd of music I'd enjoyed that year along with festive favourites.  The equivalent of that now would be to email a Spotify playlist to some people. Or the following.  Ten years on, I've decided to recreate the playlist on this blog for you all to enjoy.

Christmas Links #8

Christmas Campaign To Provide Homeless Women With Hygiene Products:
"In the UK, homeless shelters are provided with funding for items like condoms and razors but not female hygiene products. Despite the UK having struck a deal with the EU to remove the luxury item tax in March, no change in taxation has taken effect. This means that for the thousands of homeless women in the UK, the cost of sanitary products could be at the expense of a meal."

A robin is living at Liverpool Cathedral after arriving in their Christmas tree:
"Liverpool Cathedral has an extra member of the congregation this Christmas - a robin redbreast nesting in their Christmas tree."

Here Comes the Waxworks Royal Family in Christmas Sweaters to Steal Your Soul:
"Madame Tussauds London has decked out their collection of alarming Windsor waxworks in Christmas sweaters, rendering the group somehow even more alarming."

History of "Happy Holidays":
"As something of a history nerd, I decided to investigate the use of the term "Happy Holidays" in US history, especially given some recent controversy over whether it is an appropriate term or not. To me, the answer is obvious: yes, it's appropriate, and so are other more specific greetings like "Merry Christmas". After all, there are a number of holidays celebrated by most Americans during this season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years') as well as those celebrated by sizable minorities such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa."

The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide:
"For the past few years, I’ve featured the season’s best gift guides from other sites and pulled out a few things from each that I think you might be interested in. 2016 has been a rough year for some of us, so getting in a festive mood might be asking too much. But my determination to give is off the charts this year, and if you’re feeling similarly, maybe this will help you. Let’s dig in."

Christmas light row as neighbour decries 'tacky' icicles:
"When Alice Hughes attached twinkling lights to her home she thought she would be injecting the street with festive cheer - but instead was accused of bringing down the neighbourhood."

The Gilmore Girls revival gets the opening title sequence we’ve been waiting for:
"ere’s plenty of debate to be had about the Gilmore Girls revival. Is Rory the worst? Why is the “g” in “girls” lowercase in the title? Has Jess somehow become the sanest person in Stars Hollow? But one truth universally acknowledged is that the four Netflix movies were missing the iconic Gilmore Girls theme song. Sung by Carole King and her daughter Louise Goffin, the “Where You Lead I Will Follow” title sequence was a backbone of the original series, and the revival just wasn’t the same without it. Thankfully, the YouTube channel Rose Tyler has fixed Netflix’s oversight and created an opening sequence fit for this new era of Gilmore Girls."

Story of vandalized Christmas decorations has happy ending:
"Sometimes, even the Grinch is sorry for what he did."

Cookie monsters: why your browsing history could mean rip-off prices:
"By collecting data on how desperate we are to buy and how much we can afford to pay, companies are finding sophisticated new ways to squeeze extra cash from unwitting shoppers."

Christmas Party Food:
"Delicious ideas for party nibbles and tipples to try this Christmas, from Bloomsbury."

Christmas Links #7

Bill Nighy on Love Actually and “intensely embarrassing” sex scenes:
"Many Americans were introduced to the disarmingly charming actor Bill Nighy in Richard Curtis’ holiday staple Love Actually. He was playing Billy Mack, a washed-up rocker making a surprising comeback. This is the type of guy who brags about shagging Britney Spears. (Hey, it was 2003.) It turns out Nighy detests doing sex scenes, a fact he learned during his breakout TV role in England, the series The Men’s Room. Though it took him a while, Nighy is now a ubiquitous cinematic presence, popping up all over the place, sometimes in franchise blockbusters, and often in the films of Richard Curtis and Edgar Wright. To that last point, he has the rare distinction of appearing in each film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Each of his roles he tackles with a glint in his eye and impeccable timing."
[Editor's note: Fortunately Love Actually is barely mentioned and only in connection with Still Crazy. He also has a longish comment about Vincent and the Doctor.]

21 Little Ways You Can Look After Your Mental Health Over Christmas:
"We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us how they look after themselves over the Christmas period. Here are some of their most helpful pieces of advice."

10 of the best Christmas light festivals in the UK:
"From dancing lasers to magical gardens, imaginative light shows are being switched on throughout the land. We preview 10 Christmas spectaculars."

The New Statesman’s ultimate Christmas lunchbreak guide 2016:
"We all know the best thing about the festive season is working all the way up to Christmas Eve, so here’s a list of the best (and worst) high street Christmas lunch food my colleagues and I have painstakingly chewed up and spat out for your delectation."

Your New TV Ruins Movies:
"If you have bought a television recently, or are considering buying one, take heed: your beautiful new flat-panel TV will try very, very hard to make whatever movies you watch on it look not just bad, but aggressively, satanically, puppy-drowningly bad."

This Giant Christmas Tree Suspended in an Ice Cube Isn't What It Seems:
"A cube of ice might not seem like the ideal place for a Christmas tree, but that's where one appears to be in British artist and sculptor Alex Chinneck's latest public artwork Fighting fire with ice cream. The seasonal installation is at Granary Square in Kings Cross, London and the suspended tree is 17' tall and covered in 1,200 lights."

diamond geezer fact checks The Londonist's The Best Bus Routes For Seeing London's Christmas Lights:
"Top website Londonist enjoys nothing better than publishing articles about "London's Best". So far this month we've had London's Best Quizzes, The Best New London Restaurants Opening In November, London's Best Deep Fried Foods, The Best London Vantage Points For Watching Fireworks On Bonfire Night, The Best Beer Festivals In London This November, The Best Sandwiches In South London and London's Best Single Item Restaurants. And then yesterday we got this."

Get a rainbow Christmas tree at this farm in New Jersey:
"You can’t find them on a street corner in NYC, but if you head out to this farm in New Jersey, you can get one of these rad rainbow Christmas trees. At Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm, you could get Douglas firs, blue spruces and fluorescent pink trees."

The Last Holiday Hurrah for British Retail:
"It's the typical run-up to Christmas. The tree's up, the novelty reindeer sweater's come out for its annual airing and retailers are fretting about the amount of money that will flow into their shops."

Watch Fiona Apple Sing Her New Christmas Song "Trump's Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire":
"Fiona Apple has shared a parody of Nat King Cole’s holiday classic “The Christmas Song,” in which she lambasts president-elect Donald Trump, as Paper Magazine points out. “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire/as he keeps nipping at his foes,” she sings. “Everybody knows some money and entitlement can help to make the season white/Mothers of color with their kids out of sight will find it hard to sleep at night.” Apple closes the song with, “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. Donald Trump, fuck you.” Watch her sing the full song below."

Christmas Links #6

Hugh Dennis presents the History of the Radio 4 Christmas Appeal:
"Hugh explains how the Christmas Appeal first began."

Somewhat Bigger Than A Christmas Card:
"When people find out about my partner’s diagnosis, after the initial shock and condolences, they usually end a difficult conversation by saying ‘let me know if there is anything I can do to help’. In those first few shell-shocked weeks, all we could was thank people for their offer and say no. Because unless someone happened to have a cure for lung cancer in their back pocket, what could anyone actually do? I was also determined to keep things as normal as possible for our two boys, so I asked friends and colleagues to respect a rule of no cards or gifts. If our house suddenly turned into a florists, (as it was in danger of doing) it would only confuse and alarm my children."

Nine Christmas-related things you (probably) didn’t know about Doctor Who…
"...can you supply the tenth?"

Pyropet - Candle With Skeleton:
"Cute animals shaped candles will reveal their wilder side once lit."

Crooks can guess Visa card details in six seconds by querying lots of websites at once:
"In Does The Online Card Payment Landscape Unwittingly Facilitate Fraud?, a new paper in IEEE Security & Privacy, researchers from the University of Newcastle demonstrate a technique for guessing secruity details for credit-card numbers in six seconds -- attackers spread their guesses out across many websites at once, so no website gets enough bad guesses to lock the card or trigger a fraud detection system."

‘Luke Cage’ Renewed for Season 2 on Netflix:
"Sweet Christmas! “Marvel’s Luke Cage” is officially getting a second season."

An introvert's guide to the office Christmas party:
"The work Christmas party is often a colourful event, from colleagues cosying up under the mistletoe, to your boss performing an impromptu karaoke set – it’s always a rich source of cringeworthy stories and merriment."

There’s only one way to survive volunteering for the Christmas fair:
"The PTA committee is beset with problems and Liz Dashwood has 150 jam jars to fill with sweets and plastic toys. Better crack open the Baileys then…"

‘Little c’ christmas is fine – it is ‘Big C’ Christmas that people fear disappearing:
"Look, I enjoy laughing about “The War on Christmas” as much as anyone. Is anything funnier than knowing that you are annoying someone by wishing them a “Wonderful Winterval”?"

A Muslim-Owned Restaurant Has Invited Homeless People For Christmas Dinner:

"The Muslim-owned Shish Restaurant in Sidcup, southeast London, has said it will provide homeless and elderly people with a free three-course Christmas dinner this year. “No one eats alone on Christmas Day,” it said in a leaflet. “We are here to sit with you.”"

Christmas Links #5

Kiss me, Chromedome: how the Transformers found peace and same-sex partnerships:
"A spin-off comic has shape-shifted the smash ’em up Transformers robots into a world of same-sex partnerships and a leader modelled on Tony Benn."
[Friend of the blog and DWM reviewer Graham Kibble-White writes for The Guardian! -- ed.]

Couple rewrites 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to emphasize importance of consent:
"A couple from Minnesota has re-imagined the classic Christmas song "Baby It's Cold Outside" for a 21st-century audience, changing the song's lyrics to emphasize the importance of consent."

Recipes: from venison meatballs to mulled glögg – food cooked over a birch fire:
"So much Swedish cooking is about fragrance. Since I run a restaurant that doesn’t use gas or electricity, only Scandinavian wood, I appreciate the scent of burning logs and coals as much as I do the sweet caramelising of meat or the nuttiness of melting butter. At home, I often cook outside with birch fires; the smell of wood and spices mingling in the fresh winter air is delicious."

Sight and Sound's Best Films of 2016:
"Time again for our annual international critics’ poll of the year’s top movies. This year we asked 163 critics and curators to name their five best films of the year – and the results are a small triumph for diversity (not to mention a lot of treats still to come to UK cinemas over the next few months). Films directed by women make up the majority of the top five, alongside Barry Jenkins’ gay black coming of age portrait Moonlight in second place."

Christmas Lights Turned on in Bethlehem:
"Hundreds of people gathered in Bethlehem to attend the annual turning on of Christmas tree lights in the West Bank city, marking the start of the Advent season."

BBC One Christmas Advert 2016.
[Fabulously inclusive film about the audience.]

Premature twin family prepare for first Christmas:
"A couple who refused to switch off their baby's life support after her sister died have told how she "never gave up" on her fight for life."

A Grinch stole a Grinch, but fret not, Seattle. Christmas will come:
"I want to highlight a good deed that someone has done this Christmas season."

Record 1,378 Christmas trees at Melton Mowbray festival:
"A Christmas tree festival has again broken its own record for the number of trees in a church."

The Snowflake Trail:
"From 1 December – 3 January Liverpool city centre will be transformed into a festive spectacle by the return of the Snowflake Trail; the city’s very own winter festival of spectacular light and sound that will capture the imagination of young and old alike."