Merry Christmas from Superman and Batman!

Pop Culture Safari returns in 2013!


Video: Justice Collective - He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother


The Justice Collective is an all-star aggregation of artists, mainly but not entirely from Liverpool, gathered by producer Guy Chambers to raise funds for the legal battles still being endured by the families of 96 Liverpool Football Club fans killed in the infamous 1989 tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.
The track features contributions from such local heroes as Sir Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden (Gerry & the Pacemakers), Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girls), Peter Hooton (The Farm), John Power (Cast) and Rebecca Ferguson plus other notables including Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Mick Jones (Clash, Big Audio Dynamite et al) and Beverley Knight.

Video: Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde - Postcard from London

Christmas with Little Lulu

Vintage Christmas cards: Little Orphan Annie

Pop culture roundup: Jim Henson vs. Ayn Rand; Roger Corman; Superman; Mary Marvel; Doctor Who!

Via BoingBoing: Muppets creator Jim Henson smacks down Ayn Rand:
I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea.
Why would I want to talk to him. What has he achieved or trying to achieve.
He has achieved what I think is the ultimate goal of your way of thinking.
Isolation. Contempt for others. A hard heart. Yet even he can muster a bit of empathy every now and then.
I am not isolated. I have no contempt for others. Millions of people read my books and find my thoughts inspirational. I hardly spend my time on the sidelines in a trash can grumping.
Not yet anyway.


B-movie director Roger Corman, now 86, plans to make new version of eight Edgar Alan Poe stories he filmed back in the 1950s and 60s:  "House of Usher" will be followed by "The Pit and the Pendulum," "Premature Burial," "Tales of Terror," "The Raven," "The Hunted Palace," "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Tomb of Ligeia."
This time, Corman will produce but not direct the films, with the first to shoot in 2013, followed by two a year after that on budgets of $2 million to $2.5 million (the originals were shot for $250,000 to $350,000, not adjusting for inflation, on 15-day schedules).

The new productions will be self-financed by Corman’s New Horizons Productions, which will give the films at least a short domestic theatrical release and offer international rights at the American Film Market.

“Now being able to do them in 3D and with a lot of computer graphics, we can do things we never dreamed of doing before,” he says.

Hear Bob Dylan read "The Night Before Christmas."


Via Calvin's Cave of Cool:


Alan Davis is just awesome (via the Marvel Age of Comics):


Via Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!: Mary Marvel faces the Coiffure of Death!


"Doctor Who" is getting a revised theme and new title sequence starting with its upcoming 2012 Christmas special.

The titles are designed to be “dramatic and striking” and will contain “a couple of unexpected touches.” As for the theme, it will now be “more thrilling and powerful” as well as “slightly scary” and “stirring.”

A Christmas message from Batman

Pop review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

"The Hobbit" is the story of a reluctant adventurer: The title character, the gentle Bilbo Baggins, is a gentle, stay-at-home sort, content with the simple pleasures of smoking a pipe and enjoying the confines of in his cozy hobbit hole.

The thought of going off to steal gold from deadly dragons is the stuff of Bilbo's nightmares, not day dreams. But he does go off, and a fantastic tale unfolds.

Having always enjoyed J.R.R. Tolkien's book, I went into this film adaptation filled with some trepidation myself. Not because I don't trust Peter Jackson. I thought his "Lord of the Rings" films were very true to Tolkien, well-cast and a joy to watch. But I was nervous that he'd turned the "The Hobbit" -- a single book that's shorter than all three of the "Rings" volumes -- into a trilogy. I figured it was going to be a slow-moving mess, as padded out as a concussed NFL player.

But once the film -- and Bilbo -- got underway, my worries faded. Maybe the timing helped. After the most recent episode of insane American violence, it felt good to immerse myself in this nearly tangible fantasy world, where culture wars are fought between clearly good or evil forces on battlefields instead of Kindergarten classrooms.

Yes, the film was a lot longer than it needed to be. But I didn't find it tedious at all. The much-discussed higher-frame-rate technology used didn't bother me, nor did it seem much different to me than other films. I saw the film in 3-D, which was fine, though I'm generally not a fan.

Much of the additional length is due to scenes that tie this film securely to the events of the "Lord of the Rings" films. There are even brief appearance by Ian Holm as old Bilbo and Elijah Wood as young Frodo.

Sir Ian McKellan is back as a younger, warmer Gandalf, and Martin Freeman, who I've liked in nearly everything I've seen him in (the British version of "The Office," "Sherlock," "Nativity," etc.) is a perfect Bilbo -- self-effacing, funny and nervous in the best British fashion.

Also back are Cate Blanchett (in the only female role in the entire film! God, this is a nerd story!), Christopher Lee as Sauran, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and, most significantly, the brilliant Andy Serkis as Gollum. Former "Doctor Who" actor Sylvester McCoy also appears in an entertaining role.

Highlights include the opening sequence, when all the dwarves show up (when I learned this would be a trilogy, I thought maybe this would be the entire first film: "The Hobbit: When the Dwarves Showed Up"). This sequence provides great opportunities for comedy and for Freeman to make funny, pained expressions as his quiet home gets noisily invaded.

The scene in which Bilbo runs afoul of a trio of huge, dumb and dirty trolls is also well-executed. And Bilbo's first meeting with Gollum is really the dramatic high point, a great scene played out between two fun-to-watch actors.

We don't really get too far beyond that, but it works. I'm still a little curious how Jackson will be able to get two, not just one, additional films out of the story. But I'm less skeptical than I was.

Rather than dreading the next installment, I'm eager to see it!

More vintage Christmas cards