Tuesday 31 December 2019


I've been just too busy to come up with a new post for Hogmanay, but despair not, faithful Crivvies.  I've dusted down an old post, tweaked it a bit, added a pertinent paragraph that I nicked from another (of mine), and hopefully it'll suffice to see out 2019.  If not, applications for refunds will only be entertained upon production of a valid receipt.


When you're young, you have absolutely no concept of never having existed.  On an intellectual level (if you ever felt disposed to consider the matter), you know there was a time when you weren't around, but you can't truly conceive what it was like because non-existence is a difficult if not impossible state to imagine.

Think of any period in mankind's history from before you were born; the Old West, the Victorian Era, the 1920s or '30s - whatever.  Even though you never experienced them, you almost feel as if you have, thanks to history books, old photographs, artists' impressions, TV shows, historical fiction, movies, etc.  And because you can't remember your beginning, it seems as if you never actually had one and that you've been around forever.  At least, that's what it seems like to me.

Consequently, when I was a teenager of 14, I subconsciously laboured under the impression that I had always been.  (Though the same perception also applies to any point in my childhood from when I first became aware of my surroundings.)  It's unlikely that I was alone in that regard, and it's surely the same for 14-year-olds today.  It's only because fourteen years to someone of my age passes so quickly that I finally realized just how inconsequential such a period of time actually is.  I've got things lying around the house which have never been out of the wrappers since I bought them that are older than that.

As you inexorably inch closer to that time when the condition of non-existence threatens to once again engulf you, it's a prospect you tend to contemplate more than you did (if at all) in your younger days.  Finally, you begin to be able to nearly catch a glimmer of what extinction might be like, and the prospect isn't a pleasant one.  I recall waking up in hospital one day after a procedure which required my unconsciousness, and was alarmed to find I had no recollection of even a half-sleep-like state between being knocked out and coming to.

As I said, no half-remembered thoughts, vague dreams, or hovering on the edge of awareness to connect me to my pre-anaesthetised self - only an absolute absence of even the slightest sense of continuity between the two conditions.  It was then that I realised what oblivion must be like.  It was as if I'd been dead for however many hours I'd been out, and, although my body was still functioning, as far as my mind was concerned, there was no discernible difference between death and unconsciousness.

So, death is not merely a case of not waking up, it's also not even being aware of going to sleep or being asleep at any stage in the process.  Shakespeare was wrong; there are no dreams in the sleep of death, only a blackness and silence from which we never awaken - an eternal nothingness, an everlasting night.

That's no doubt why I often find myself wishing I was only 14 again.  (Come to think of it, I wouldn't even mind being half that age.)  The illusion of no beginning (and, by extension, no ending), while temporary, is a comforting and necessary notion, otherwise we'd probably abandon our journey before we were very far into it.  After all, what's the point of taking a road to nowhere?

Soon, the New Year will be upon us, and we'll toast it as the harbinger of new hope and new beginnings, conveniently forgetting that it's a false friend who promises much, but delivers little - with each and every visit leaving us only less time to look forward to than we had before.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work on that elixir of life I'm developing.  I just can't afford to relax if I want to be here in 2119.


We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Lewis Carroll.


Monday 30 December 2019


To be honest, I think only the first of DANIEL CRAIG's four BOND movies so far was any good.  Sure, the other three had good bits in them, but overall I found them disappointing.  The trailer for Craig's next (and possibly last) outing as 007 looks exciting, but let's hope the film itself lives up to it.  Take a look and see what you think.  If it does turn out to be his final fling, let's hope he gets to go out on a high.

Sunday 29 December 2019


It's still within the 12 days of Christmas, so
I'm posting this festive-themed pic of the bedazzling
BETTIE PAGE, even though she's underdressed for
December.  Still, at least she's warming us all up in
that eye-catching little cossie.  Wotta babe!


Copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

Was it really 41 years ago?  Well, yes, is the answer.  'Twas back in December of 1978 that I bought my first regular Christmas BEANO, meaning that I should now have 42 of them in my collection - if I haven't inadvertently missed any in the intervening years between then and now.  I had a notion that I bought the '78 festive ish in Southsea or Portsmouth, but looking at the date on the comic and measuring it against when I came home, it doesn't quite work, even allowing for it going on sale before its cover-date.  Still, I can't shake the association, so maybe I did get it in Pompey.

Anyway, that brings us to this year's seasonal offering, which is now a bit out of date, but I only acquired it last week.  Fortunately for me, SAINSBURY'S had a couple of overlooked issues still on display, so I nabbed one.  (Don't worry, I paid for it.)  No point in giving it a thorough review, as it 'does exactly what it says on the tin', and I'm sure today's kids will enjoy it well enough - though there are too many of what I consider 'filler' pages, which would be better used for actual comic strips, and once again it's burdened with some useless tat, pushing the normal price of £2.75 up to £4.99.  Speaking for myself, I wish DCT would abandon this irritating habit, which is clearly only designed to fleece regular readers (and collectors of festive numbers) out of an extra couple of quid.  They should stick to selling comics, not 'lucky bags'.  

When I started typing this, it was still Saturday, and earlier this evening I bought the New Year issue.  This was advertised as going on sale on the 24th (though dated 28th), but on the appointed day, I checked in WHS and Sainsbury's and it was nowhere to be seen.  When I asked about it in WHS, I was told it hadn't come in.  I'm not sure I believe this, and suspect it was sitting in the back, waiting 'til the 28th before being put on display.  I don't know if anyone from THOMSON's reads this humble blog, but they should check to see if these shops and their distributors are doing what they're supposed to be doing, and selling/delivering their comics on the date assigned by the publishers.

(Update: Oops, my mistake - sort of.  I've missed an ish in-between - #4015 - which was the one due out on the 24th.  However, it wasn't in the shops that day when I looked and asked for it, so my observation is still relevant.  Who's to blame for the cock-up - shops or publishers?  In the 'old days', the New Year issue usually came right after the Christmas one, so I wish they'd stick to that - it's less confusing.)

Anyway, we now segue from the present to the past, as below is the front and back pages of the issue that started it all for me.  It's likely that I had the odd Christmas number before this, probably back in the '60s, but #1901 is the first regularly purchased yuletide ish of a 41 year custom that I'll probably never be able to shake.

Friday 27 December 2019



I saw the above book on RIP JAGGER'S DOJO, so bought one for myself as soon as I could track down a copy.  It's a recent reprint of MARVEL's two 1968 The SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN magazines, though it's of the same comicbook dimensions as the EPIC COLLECTION volumes, not the larger size format of the original periodicals.  Marvel reprinted a full-sized facsimile edition of the first ish back in 2002, but unfortunately, it was mostly re-lettered with a computer font and done so pretty badly.  Never fear, this one has the original lettering.

This new edition also contains original house ads for the mags, cover art, and a few other bonuses, so if you weren't around back in the '60s, now you can catch up on what you missed.  See if your local comicbook store stocks this handsome publication, and if not, you'll find it on eBay (which is where I got my copy).  Go on, treat yourself to a late Christmas gift and spend that money or voucher your wife gave you because she doesn't love you enough to spend any time choosing an actual present for you!  (Hey, you know you were thinking it.)

Front cover to the 2002 facsimile edition of #1

Back cover to the 2002 facsimile edition of #1

Original 1968 mag.  Back cover was unrelated ad

Thursday 26 December 2019


Originally by LYONS MAID, then NESTLE

I've only just learned that supermarket MORRISON'S were selling ZOOM ice lollies during May of this year, apparently not being available for 20 years prior to that.  I remember buying a box of Zooms in my local SAFEWAY or SAINSBURY'S (it was the former before becoming the latter), but I can't remember precisely what year it was.  I'm amazed if it really was as long as 20 years ago.  Sainsbury's currently sell (and have for a while) a rocket ice lolly which, as far as I recall, is the double of a Zoom, so I must pick up a pack of them the next time I'm in.

Zoom first went on sale in 1963, as a sort of tie-in to FIREBALL XL5, and STEVE ZODIAC actually advertised it on TV for a while.  Likewise, FAB ice lollies were first launched in 1967 on the back of THUNDERBIRDS, in particular LADY PENELOPE, because it was originally aimed at girls, in the same way that Zoom was meant for boys - though I doubt that distinction was ever observed by kids themselves.  Fab is still available, and back when the live-action Thunderbirds movie was due for release, the association was renewed for a promotion or competition of some sort.

I'll have to keep an eye on Morrison's, because a few months back, they also revived MARATHON bars for a while, and I managed to get a pack of them.  'Twas good to eat one (four in fact, but not all at once) again, despite them tasting exactly the same as their SNICKERS counterpart.  If I have one complaint, it was that the Snickers name also appeared on the wrapper, even if it was in reduced form.

Who knows, now that we're leaving the EU, maybe the original names of sweets as we of a certain age knew them will reappear, and we'll again see TREETS, OPAL FRUITS, and all sorts of other items of vanished, once popular confectionery that we were familiar with as kids.  Anyone for SPANGLES, JUNGLIE'S JELLIES, AZTEC, AMAZIN' RAISIN, BAR SIX, OLD JAMAICASKY RAYFRY'S FIVE CENTRES, and whatever else I've momentarily forgotten?

Can you think of any others?  Let's hear them.   


Well... it's BOXING DAY, isn't it, so what do you expect?  Just pretend
her name's HOLLY - or IVY - 'cos I don't actually have a scooby who she is.
She's a cracker though, eh?  (Thank you, thank you - I'm here all week.)

Wednesday 25 December 2019



L. MILLER's series of reprint comics were almost indistinguishable from those of ALAN CLASS, who bought the former's inventory of asbestos printing plates (in 1963 or '66 according to WIKIPEDIA, which seems unable to make up its mind on an exact date), the similarity of format facilitating a seamless continuation from one company's product to the other, at least as far as content goes.

Curiously, the asking prices for these comics seems a little on the high side in dealers' circles, considering that they're mere reprints and the printing quality is hardly first rate.  In some instances, it's probably possible to obtain the original MARVEL comic for the same cost, perhaps even cheaper.  Though I suppose if you had one of these mags as a kid, then that's the one you'd be prepared to fork out for if you really wanted to own it again.

However, that's enough boring waffle from me, so let's get straight to the pretty piccies.  Got a favourite?  Then shout it from the rooftops - though, failing that, you could tell your fellow Crivs in the comments section.  

Adult comic?  Must be referring to the pre-code backup tales

This is actually the cover of The CRIMSON DYNAMO's debut, not Mr. DOLL's,
which must be the interior story.  Don't know why the correct cover wasn't used

So, does IRON MAN battle The MELTER and many other villains, or are there many other tales
inside along with that particular IM story?  The latter, but it's a tad ambiguous, don'tcha think?

 At least they got the colours of GIANT-MAN & The WASP's costumes correct,
if not the other three.  And IRON MAN looks like he's wearing only one glove



MARVEL has been part of every Christmas for me in some shape or form from 1966, a whopping 53 years, so I can't let the occasion go by without showing some Marvel images to celebrate the occasion.  Hope you have a good one and that you get everything you were looking for.  Excelsior!  

And let's not forget ALF, BART, and COS from the ODHAMS GARRET.

Respective copyright MARVEL COMICS, DC COMICS, and REBELLION

Tuesday 24 December 2019



Here's a couple of wintry/Christmas FRANKIE STEIN images by the superb ROBERT NIXON to see us into the big day.  Hope SANTA is good to you.  If you get fed up stuffing your face with turkey and mince pies, Crivens will still be operating over the festive period, so feel free to drop in for a rest from your bouts of massive over-indulgence.  Merry Christmas, everybody!



When SMASH! was revamped and relaunched by IPC in March of 1969, it bore very little resemblance to its previous ODHAMS incarnation.  A few strips survived, but, without the various MARVEL reprints, the comic had lost a great deal of its uniqueness.  (Well, as unique as a companion paper to WHAM! could be.)  Which is not to suggest by any means that the newer version of the comic was bereft of charm, but it was a different type of charm to what had gone before.  Above is the cover to the first Christmas issue of the new Smash!, which, contrary to what I've just written, manages to conjure up similarities to the earlier look of the title - only the different logo betrays the cheat.

Above (from the Christmas ish) is BAD PENNY by LEO BAXENDALE, which I always preferred to his similarly-themed strip, MINNIE The MINX in The BEANO.  Minnie came first, but Bax's art had evolved into a seemingly simpler, but much more madcap and funnier style by the time he started drawing Penny, so give me Penny over Minnie any day of the week.  Bax created some good strips for Wham! & Smash! - but it's interesting to note that he never initiated legal proceedings over copyright against IPC like he did with Thomson's.  It's true that the Odhams/IPC/Fleetway characters never had the longevity or success of his DCT ones, but surely the principle of the matter supersedes any material considerations?


I was tidying up a shelf behind the swing-down door of a display cabinet in my living-room earlier, and found an old telephone 'directory' in which my parents once listed names and numbers of family and friends.  My!  What a step back in time it was.  It wouldn't look out of place in an episode of POIROT, and I assume that my father procured it when he worked for the G.P.O. back in the '60s, when we were living in our previous house.  That's based on the name of a then-near neighbour and class-mate of mine being scored out by my mother, presumably because she assumed there would be no further use for his number after we flitted.

Seeing the names and telephone numbers from years ago of people we knew who are now dead, or flitted, or who just drifted out of our daily lives, was a bittersweet reminder of my teens.  For instance, I worked in the warehouse of my local BOOTS The CHEMISTS between August 1975 and November '76, and the 'phone number of the store, plus the name of my boss, SAM GREENHALGH, were listed, which instantly cast my mind back to those days.  Mr. G (as I and others called him) died quite a number of years back (in the 20th century I think), but I can yet see and hear him in my mind to this day.  Great bloke.

Friends, relations, long-defunct businesses and familiar-but-vanished shops made the past come alive again, with such clarity that it seemed like only a few short weeks ago when they were all part of my day-to-day life, not the four or more decades it's actually been.  I found myself suddenly remembering people I hadn't seen or thought of in more than 30-odd years, and wondering what became of them and whether they were still alive or not.  I hadn't actually realised I'd seemingly forgotten them until being reminded of them on sight of their name. 

Once again, it struck me that we never truly forget anything or anyone, we only 'forget' to remember, but the memories are still there, lurking in our subconscious minds.  All that's required is the proper stimulus to fast-track them to the front of the queue.  As I've said before in a few other posts, not thinking about something or somebody isn't the same as forgetting them, and it was good to revisit people and places from an earlier time in my life, even if it was only in my mind.

So tell me, faithful readers, has anything like this ever happened to you on finding an old directory, diary, or notebook, and was it a pleasant experience or did it make you feel unbearably sad?  Feel entirely free to share your ruminating recollections with your fellow Crivs in the comments section.

Monday 23 December 2019



Just arrived at Castel Crivens, the above TRUE BELIEVERS ish, The VALLEY Of The WORM!  Written by ROY THOMAS and GERRY CONWAY, pencilled by GIL KANE, and inked by ERNIE CHUA, it's based on a ROBERT E. HOWARD tale, and somehow ties in with the upcoming CONAN SERPENT WAR crossover saga involving Conan, DARK AGNES, SOLOMON KANE, and MOON KNIGHT.  As far as I remember, this is the first time I've seen this story, and I very much enjoyed it.  I'm sure you will, too.

The above comic also contains one of STAN LEE's SOAPBOX entries from 1972, so here's a sneak peek at it until you buy your own copy.


Copyright D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd

I couldn't say with absolute certainty when I first bought #924 of The TOPPER, because a comic's cover date can be confusing.  Some comics were dated the week after they went on sale (to give them a longer shelf-life), some maybe only 3 or 4 days - or were they?  Some, like The Topper, might say 'every Thursday' on the cover, but (though I don't know in regard to The Topper itself) come out before then, so being absolutely sure of precisely what day a periodical hit the shops can be a bit of a problem so many decades after the fact.

Presumably, the SPLODGE, LAST Of The GOBLINS glow mask was intended for Hallowe'en, but it was a bit early.  Or maybe it wasn't meant for All Hallow's Eve at all, and the mask and the celebration were just coincidental, though it seems to me unlikely.  Looking back, I at first thought, in memory, that I was yet a primary school pupil when I bought this comic, but I'd actually been attending secondary school for around a couple of months - certainly several weeks.

I wonder if I was off school that day due to some minor ailment, because I remember lying in bed after purchasing the comic, fascinated by Splodge's luminous goblin features.  I'd have been across to the shops over the road for just after 8 a.m. to buy The TOPPER (so I must've known about the free gift in advance), unless, despite saying every Thursday on the cover, it actually went on sale on a Saturday.  (Anyone know for sure?)  Or maybe I was buying another comic and spotted it by chance.  I don't suppose it matters, and I know you probably don't care, but I would've once been able to recall every detail.  Age, alas.

Anyway, the comic and mask were up for auction recently, but I was outbid (with some relief it has to be said, as I'd have been living on beans for a fortnight had I won), but I'd like to again own these items from my youth before I get much older.  If anyone's got the mask and would be prepared to sell it to me, let me know in the comments section.  I'll pick up the comic on eBay somewhere down the line, though if you've got that too and would be prepared to part with it, I'm give you a fair price for it/them.  I'd also be prepared to pay for an actual-size photocopy of the mask, if anyone can oblige.

Splodge was a great wee strip, drawn by CHARLES GRIGG originally, and then later by KEN H. HARRISON.  I suspect I didn't read The HOBBIT until after this issue came out (though it could've been before), because I always imagined BILBO BAGGINS as looking a lot like Splodge (despite TOLKIEN's illustrations), but perhaps that was a retroactive impression.  I wish The BEANO would reprint the strips, 'cos I'd buy it if they did.  Talking of which, I got the Christmas issue and will be doing a mini-review before too much longer.

Ah, Splodge - how have you been all these years?  Good to have you back.

(Update: I now have the comic and the mask - hooray!!!) 

This is from a different ish, but still a belter



Comics royalty ROY THOMAS arranged to have a complimentary copy of AlterEgo #161 sent to me on account of it giving me a brief mention, and it's a belter of an issue, commemorating the life of 'Mr. MARVEL', STAN LEE.  It's good to see anti-Stan hater (to an obsessive degree) Michael Hill getting a good gubbing from Roy in the letters section, though Roy does it with far more grace, style, and courtesy than I'd have managed.

For all those who erroneously claim that Stan never gave JACK KIRBY the credit he deserved, there's a transcript of a radio interview where Stan praises Jack to the heavens, so Stan was never shy of acknowledging his collaborator's stellar status in the world of comics.  If you're a Stan fan, you'll want this issue, so try your local comicbook shop or order one from the TwoMorrows website, located in my bloglist in the sidebar.

Friday 20 December 2019



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

76 pages of Marvel’s toughest heroes!  Three great stories!

‘The Long Night’ continues!  The net may be drawing in on Logan, but he isn't the one in trouble!  By Benjamin Percy & Marico Takara!

X-23 and Gabby have found a new 'sister', but can she be trusted?  By Mariko Tamaki & Diego Olortegui!

Wade Wilson gets a very nasty surprise in ‘Night of the Living Deadpool’!  By Cullen Bunn & Ramon Rosanas!

Featuring material first printed in Wolverine: The Long Night #4, X-23 #9 & Night of the Living Deadpool #3.

On sale 26th December.




76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

This is it, Marveldom; the awesome final chapter of ‘No Road Home’!  The Avengers assemble to battle Nyx, Goddess of Night, but it's the Vision who must confront her alone – at the very heart of the Marvel Universe!  By Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Mark Waid & Paco Medina!

Also: the first-ever meeting of the original Avengers, revealed at last!  By Dwayne McDuffie and Michael Oeming!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers: No Road Home #8-10 and Avengers Classic #1.

On sale 26th December.




I just can't help myself!  Not content with owning two copies of the original The ETERNALS comic mag from 1976, I also have at least a couple of the TRUE BELIEVERS version, and now I've bought the facsimile edition to add to my collection.  That's it above (arrived today), and it's a pretty faithful replica (ads and all) of the debut issue of JACK KIRBY's closest MARVEL equivalent to his DC NEW GODS mag from way back when.

If you missed this mag first time around and the TB reprint passed you by, now's your chance to turn back the clock to when you were a carefree youth in the sizzlin' '70s.  Don't miss out again - available now!


But this wouldn't be a Crivens! post if there weren't some element of criticism about it, now would it?  Look at IKARIS and in which direction he's indicating.  Presumably, the glow in the sky is where the returning gods are approaching from, but Ikaris isn't gesturing (or even looking) in that direction.  He's pointing to the left, but the glow is approaching from the right - in fact, it's debatable whether he'd even be able to see it from where he's standing/looking.  To paraphrase the late ERIC MORECAMBE, Jack's drawn all the right elements, but not necessarily in the right order.  Or am I just being too darn pernickety?



Behold - MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18 - the first appearance of GUARDIANS Of The GALAXY.  When I originally purchased this comic as a back issue more years ago that I care (or am able) to remember (sometime around the mid-'90s I think, though it could've been the late '80s), chances are I thought it was the mag I'd originally owned in 1975.  I no longer recall if I bought it a comic mart, mail order, or in a back issue shop, but when I saw it, I recognised the cover and snapped it up to add to my collection.  It wasn't all that long ago I learned that the main story had been reprinted (minus 4 pages) in ASTONISHING TALES #29, and I realised that must've been the comic I had, not the original presentation.

So, anyway, now I've got both, and I thought you might appreciate seeing the covers of both versions together.  Hard for me to believe that the latter mag is now 44 years old and that I was a mere teenager when I obtained my original copy.  Oddly, considering that it's an abridged version with 4 pages omitted, some sellers ask quite a high price for it.  I got it for a relative song, and really only wanted it out of nostalgia for the original one I had back in '75, so I'd never have paid an exorbitant figure to acquire it anyway.  If it's one you'd like to own, I'd suggest you either look for an inexpensive, VG copy of MSH #18 (which, in better condition, can also be costly, but at least the story is complete), or buy the collected edition volume from around two or three years ago.

Or, if you're lucky, maybe Marvel will publish a facsimile edition in the very near future.  I'd certainly buy it again, 'cos I'm a sucker for those babies.  Anyway, enjoy comparing the two cover images side-by-side and feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to.

Thursday 19 December 2019



Given my finely-honed, athletic physique (and I surely deserve a BLUE PETER badge for typing that with a semi-straight face), it may come as a surprise to some of you that I was never the sporty type.  Any activity that requires more effort than lifting an arm to stuff a choccie biccie in my gob and then washing it down with a nice cuppa char is anathema to me.  Not even remotely interested in football, never have been, but when I was a youth, I bought at least the first few issues of SHOOT!, SCORCHER, and SCORE simply because they were new comics.  (Must confess, though, that I did like the BILLY'S BOOTS comic strip in Scorcher.)

"So why bother us with that revelation?" you may be asking.  Well, I was in HOME BARGAINS several days ago and saw the Shoot! Annual for 2020, celebrating 50 years of the title, which first came out in 1969.  I thumbed through it and put it back on the shelf as it contained nothing of interest to me, but later, upon reflecting on its iconic significance, I half-committed to buying a copy if there were any left the next time I was in.  Well, I was in today, took another quick gander through it and nearly put it back on the shelf again, until I noticed two pages which look back at the history of the comic, with a pic of the first issue's cover.  That decided me, so as it was only £2.99 (supposed to be £7.99) and was a celebration of a comic I read as a 10 year-old, I forked out the dosh for it and brought it home with me.

I've taken another tour through it and my opinion is still the same - it's a rubbish Annual for anyone who isn't into footie (and could well be even for those who are), but it takes my mind back 50 years to when I was yet a primary school pupil.  It mentions another book, 50 YEARS Of SHOOT!, which I see The WORKS is selling at a reduced price of £8, but I don't think I'll bother with that one.  It's a shame that neither of these publications have any comic strips in them, which in my estimation would've improved them no end, but nobody thought to ask my advice when they were being prepared.  To be honest, I don't recall if the weekly periodical had any comic strips anyway - apart from one, which I remember not a jot about.

Anyway, if you're a footie fan, you may be of a different opinion in regard to these two books, so Home Bargains and The Works are your next ports of call if you want to acquire them for less than the price they should be.  If you get them and find that you disagree with my assessment of them, feel free to return and register your dissent in the comments section. 

Tuesday 17 December 2019


There's many fine Christmas albums available in the shops at this time of year, and I have a stack of them: BING CROSBY, NAT 'KING' COLE, PERRY COMO, ANDY WILLIAMS, FRANK SINATRA, ELVIS PRESLEY, DEAN MARTIN, DORIS DAY, etc., etc., and I've got them all - and more!  A mixture of vinyl LPs from the '70s, and CDs from the '80s onwards, a few of them being digital duplicates of their analogue originals.  Add to that various choirs singing festive favourites, and it's safe to say that I have Christmas covered in the musical department.

However, if there's one album that defines the season for me, it's 12 SONGS Of CHRISTMAS by JIM REEVES.  I bought my first copy of it back in 1977, and have listened to it every year since - not only on my original RCA CAMDEN LP, but reissues of the RCA VICTOR one with the original cover, on vinyl and CD.  I just can't imagine Christmas without it.  So familiar am I with it that I regard Jim's renditions of WHITE CHRISTMAS and MARY'S BOY CHILD as the 'true' ones, with Bing's and Harry's respective warblings relegated to the status of cover versions (in my mind anyway).

The album was reissued recently, and I would be remiss in my duties as host if I didn't warmly recommend it to you.  Jim's versions of SILVER BELLS, BLUE CHRISTMAS, and SILENT NIGHT (to name but three) are definitive in my view, and the album deserves to be in the collection of discerning Criv-ites everywhere - whatever their musical preferences.  No, I'm not on commission, but I'm the kind of guy who wants others to share in something good, and this album is better than good - it's great!  Visit the REAL GONE MUSIC site to order your copy, or get it on AMAZON.

Not convinced?  Ah, well, I tried.  You're the one missing out, alas.  However, while you're here, is there a Christmas song or album that defines the season for you, and why?  Who's the singer or group, and what memories of your youth does it conjure up for you, returning you to those halcyon times whenever you happen to hear it?  Don't be selfish now, spread the joy of your reminiscences among your fellow Crivs.  And below, just for you, is Jim singing Silver Bells, a song which first appeared in the BOB HOPE movie The LEMON DROP KID, though Bing Crosby was first to release it on record.  There are other nice versions of course, but Jim's is tops for me.  Give it a listen and hear why.


Lovely LYNDA CARTER graces Crivens
today, lads.  Were I ever to wed, hopefully it would
be to a gal who looks as wonderful as Lynda, and with a
personality to match (which I'm sure she has).  Roll on my
huge Lottery win, when I'll suddenly (and magically) become
irresistible to hordes of women who currently wouldn't give
me a second glance.  I'm far too modest of course - women
everywhere call me Mr. Handsome.  (Isn't that correct,
nurse?  And would you please untie the long sleeves
 at the back of my oversized pyjamas?)

Monday 16 December 2019



Several years ago I became, for a very brief time, a member of a British comics forum.  The forum had an 'edit' option on its comments page, which meant that, however careful the writer had  been during composition, any errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar he'd missed could be corrected after submission.  Naturally, it would be stated that the comment had been edited, and precisely when.

It's a handy thing having such a facility, and I've never tried to hide the fact that, on this very blog of mine, I continually edit and revise my posts - not only for the sake of clarity and conciseness, but also to make the overall shapes of paragraphs more aesthetically-pleasing to the eye.  In fact, I've seen myself revising a sentence and thereby reshaping a paragraph, more because it makes the result look better than because it makes it read better.

Most changes are mainly of style rather than of content.  When it comes to corrections, it varies.  If notice a mistake, I usually just amend the text, rather than adding an updated footnote.  This is simply because any future readers might bail out halfway through a post, taking the error with them as fact.  If anyone draws my attention to an inaccuracy, I'll fix it, and acknowledge the contribution in the comments section.  I've even been known to do all those things at once: fix the goof, add a footnote saying I've fixed it - and mention it in the comments section.

So back to the aforementioned comics forum.  If I spotted a typo or grammatical error in one of my comments, or just saw a way of saying the same thing in a clearer, shorter way, I'd sometimes 'edit' my comment.  Not to alter the meaning, but to polish the presentation.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one.  There was one lengthy comment I kept refining as, no sooner did I think it finished than something else occurred to me to say.  However, as it was in the early hours of the morning, it was unlikely to have been read (and it certainly hadn't been replied to), so I continued to sculpt and to mould it 'til I was satisfied.  However, I didn't alter its tone or intent - no back-pedalling.

Now, as I was later advised by the site-owner, one of the moderators (by the name of ANDY BOAL) had never wanted me to be allowed to join in the first place, and was prejudiced against me.  He suspended the edit facility for every member, then tipped off another member that he'd done so because of me, scurrilously suggesting that I was retroactively altering the meaning of some of my comments, not just fine-tuning my phraseology.  When I enquired about the missing edit facility, the favoured member jumped in to say it was because I 'kept changing my comments', thus demonstrating that he had inside (though inaccurate) information.  The site owner later conceded it appeared obvious that the individual was being privately supplied with internal info.

Regular readers will know what eventually happened next, so I'll skip past all that to avoid repeating myself.  (Details can be found here.)  No doubt you'll be wondering why I'm airing the topic again.  Well, a few years ago, I received an email from a comics-blogger who'd once been an editor at a prominent publishing company.  He explained that he objected to something I'd written and had taken the 'precaution' of taking a screen-grab, as I was 'well-known' for 'rewriting' my blog posts - 'something we all do', he later stated, seemingly unaware of the glaring absurdity of his inconsistent double-standards.

When I challenged him and asked him to provide even one example in support of his claim, he recanted and apologised, though his subsequent attitude caused me to doubt the sincerity of his apology.  However, I was left to wonder whether there was a link between his mistaken perception that I altered my posts for the unethical purpose of misdirection or deception, and the malicious misinformation promulgated by a disgruntled, disingenuous moderator on that other comics forum.   

So, I freely admit (and always have) that, in my fruitless quest for 'perfection', I edit, revise, correct, update and polish my blog posts, to make them as factual, informative, entertaining, and as visually appealing as they can possibly be, but I don't alter them to say the opposite of what I'd originally published in order to escape any potential embarrassment, consequence, or legal penalty which might ensue from anything I'd written.

And yes, I may well edit this post - if it occurs to me how to convey the exact same 'content' in a better, smarter, funnier (and shorter) way than I have.  However, the purpose of the post and the message contained therein will remain intact. Improvement of expression is no bad thing - so long as the original spirit or intention isn't compromised.  Some people would do well to bear that in mind before making unfounded accusations.


(And indeed, I've now pruned it back, as there was  too much repetition of details provided in the link.) 

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