Tuesday 30 November 2010

Good King Wenceslas Car Clearing Carol (Advent 1)

As a special treat I have worked out all the lyrics to the Good King Wenceles Car Clearing Carol

Good King Wenceslas last went out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay on his car
Deep and crisp and even
Bravely scrapped with all his might
Though the frost was cruel
When his door was frozen tight
Didn't know what to do-ooo-ooo

"Hither, wife, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder market, where is it?
Where and what its selling?"
"Sainsburys* lies a good league hence
Almost one days marches**
Right behind the Marks and Spence**
By McDonalds arches."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me Pringles hither
Thou and I will surely dine
Else we'll get much thinner."
Queen and monarch forth they trudged
Forth they went together
Through the wild slushy sludge
And the bitter weather

In her master's steps she trod
Where the snow lay dented
Unhappy at the very sod
Who shopping had prevented
Therefore, Christmas men, be sure
WD40 possessing
Ye who now defrost the door
Shall yourselves find blessing

* For non-UK residents substitute your favourite supermarket/department store
** Yes that is pretty forced rhyming

For those interested in the original lyrics Google 'King Wenceslas lyrics' or try this link which discusses whether it is a proper carol and whether is belongs in Christmas, Boxing Day (Feast of Stephen) or Spring.

Today is the start of advent - check back for some old and new Christmas cartoons!

Monday 29 November 2010

Snow White The Handsome Prince and the Seven Dwarfs

Following on from my Sleeping Beauty cartoon comes the Happily Ever After of Snow White.
  My young daughter is into princesses and so everything in my world is pretty princesses and handsome princes.  Sometimes however I feel more like the seven dwarfs.

ps. Why is it dwarfs not dwarves?  Google and Disney favour Dwarfs but surely the English language with the support of linguist Tolkein should properly be dwarves.

Coming soon ... Advent and Christmas cartoons past and present

Thursday 25 November 2010

For the next 6 months every new story has to mention...

Today's major BBC new story was the startling revelation that after months of warmer weather we are entering a period of what the meterological experts call Winter.  During this terrifying season normally benign precipitation falls as frozen 'snow' creating endless galleries of pretty landscapes and talk of traffic gridlock and on Radio 4 the harsh realities of the so called 'Grit Wars' (apparently Grit Wars are more likely to trigger a Third World War than events on the Korean peninsula).

On top of this is the chilling statistic that this is the earliest widespread snowfall for 17 years.  A whole 17 years ago that's the previous century!  Also it isn't even the heaviest snowfall it is the earliest widespread snowfall which seems a rather strange slant on what is just a bit of snow falling at the start of Winter.

Still it deflects us from the other stories of Prince William and soon to be Princess Catherine.  The happy day is only half a year away, plenty of time to tie it into every news stories from now until then:
  • Students riot over proposed Coalition plans to raise tuition fees - William and Catherine met at a university where they had no problem at all with tuition fees.
  • Conservative peer Howard Flight complains that the Middle Classes are being put off having children by child benefit changes - will William be eligible for child benefit when they happy couple think about kids.
  • etc.etc.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Thanksgiving - How it really happened

Tomorrow we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving with some of our American friends.  We don't have this date in our UK calendar but if was to adopt a US custom I would take this one - it's like Christmas with all the friends and family but minus the shopping and presents.

Now as a Englishman I obviously have little understanding of the traditions of this day but I do have access to the Internet and Wikipedia so I can deduce:
  • It's a harvest festival
  • There was a Thanksgiving day at the Jamestown settlement but the tradition has it's roots in the celebration at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621
  • There was a Native American Squanto who helped the colonists and although Wikipedia tried to portray him as someone who helped them grow corn and catch eels but I like my version (see cartoon) better.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Before he was famous R2-D2 worked as a meeting room projector...

Star Wars and Tech Support together for not the first time!
  Every Star Wars movie begins with the line "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." meaning that the universe of Darth Vader and Han Solo is infact ancient and if we were able to go there now the technology would have advanced far beyond anything George Lucas could imagine.  Maybe they'd use missles not laser swords and maybe if a Princess needed to send a important message to a retired Jedi she'd use Facebook or Twitter without requiring a droid courier.

Friday 19 November 2010

Cinderella (Happily Ever After)

Tonight is Children in Need but in my current sleep deprivation I'm proposing a new telethon "Parents In Need" in which members of the public can sponser my kids to sleep through the night (beyond 6am).

Sunday 14 November 2010

Call of Duty Post Ops

Today was Remembrance Sunday when we honour those who lost their lives in various wars since the First World War.  There was wars before the First World War but it took the global industrial carnage of 1914-18 to birth this desire to recall our war dead on the closest Sunday to Armstice Day.

Since the death of Harry Patch last year there are no more British veterans of this conflict to describe just how terrible it was but the statistics alone are staggering.  Nearly 1 million British dead, twice as many as died in the Second World War and many times more than have died since then.  Perhaps 10 million overall in 4 years of trench stalemate where neither side knew how to dislodge a dug in enemy with machine guns behind barbed wire.

It is interesting to note that the symbol of Remembrance Sunday is a poppy, an agricultural weed that lies dormant in the soil and flourishes when the earth is disturbed.  These were the only flowers rugged enough to survive the muddy battlegrounds of Flanders and these were the flowers that inspired the Canadian John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" that in turn inspired Moina Micael to start wearing artificial poppies in remembrance of the war dead.

There are few remaining witnesses to the First World War and there will soon be few to the second.  In future years we will be in danger of having Hollywood and video games like the Call of Duty series inform our children of what mass war was really like.

Here is Moina Micael's poem 'We Shall Keep The Faith'

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields we fought

Friday 5 November 2010

Bonfire Night: A Counter-Terrorism Celebration

Guy Fawkes cartoon
"You can't even carry a barrel around these days since that Guy!"
 Tonight is Bonfire, Fireworks or Guy Fawkes Night a strange UK custom that dates back from November 5th 1605 when a plot to assasinate the first monarch to rule over the newly formed union of England and Scotland was foiled.  Guy Fawkes was the plotter found underneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder after an anonymous tip-off.  The plotters were all hanged and in celebration a law was passed in Parliment that the 5th of November was to observed with special services and sermons.  That act may no longer be in place but we still celebrate the 5th with bonfires and fireworks that some inconsiderate people are still letting off late into the night.

I find it odd that this day is still remains in our calendar, that we still want to burn in effigy a Catholic terrorist who plans for a spectacular failed.  Today we are fed regular reports of failed terrorist plots none of which merit a holiday merely more inconvience when we do go on holiday.  It is tempting to compare Islamic terrorists today with what todays media would label a Catholic Fundamentalist cell but it is too easy to fall into the trap of rewriting history to try and present a completely foriegn world as something modern.

My Guy Fawkes cartoon doesn't try and make light of the horrors that terrorists plan but rather observe that the main effect it has on us is the measures we have to put in place to prevent it.

For a lighter take on Bonfire Night Matt's cartoon today is excellant.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Tea Party: us vs US

Right now American voters are going to the polls in the mid-term elections.  It is hard on this side of the pond to have an informed opinion when all the coverage is about you wacky Americans and your crazy right-wing Tea Party.  We  have tea parties in my house too but they are altogether different affairs with yellow and pink cups, and the rhetoric while still fairly fierce is about who can sit where and when you're allowed to have your cake.

The BBC came up with a piece about UK vs US tea parties but I'd already had this idea before I read it.

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