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Christmas Time Is Here….Ten Great XMAS films.

Christmas time is either the most magical time of the year or most depressing time of the year…depending on if you are little Timmy or Scrooge! One of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit is to 1. bake cookies!!! 2. decorate the house and 3. watch many, many Christmas films. So, here are my ten most favourite Christmas films to help set the mood for the rest of the season!

A Christmas Story

christmas story

Could it be that A Christmas Story is this era’s A Christmas Carol? I should think so. Bold words? Yes. But this is one of the most iconic Christmas tales of all time. It captures so wonderfully the spirit of Christmas for a child. Which is, of course, assembling that oh so holy Christmas list and hoping beyond all hopes that you get that one special gift…that ultimate gift…that if you get it the entire world will change! You’ll become a hero, a legend! Ralphie is every little kid at Christmas time and his family is every family, which makes this tale so easy to connect with and relate too.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the grinch stole christmas dvd cover

 

No. I’m not in favour of the rubbish Ron Howard remake staring Jim Carrey. It’s classic all the way! Though his film is short it is a magical 30minuets as we watch the Grinch pour down his evil upon Whoville hoping to crush their Christmas spirit only to soon become aware that it isn’t about the decorations nor the gifts, it’s about something much more.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

charlie brown xmas

 

A reminder of simpler times, or is it? As poor Charlie Brown is overwhelmed with the commercialism that is corrupting Christmas he just can’t get into the mood until he is offered the role of Director for the Christmas play. Then he is able to learn the true meaning of Christmas. Charlie Brown is like a little old man boy. Yes, A little old man boy in the way he acts which will have you dying of laughter no matter how old you are.

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph

 

There is nothing like sitting together with the family, snuggled up in jp’s, and watching Rudolf on a cold winters night. With classic songs and animation this film paints that picture of what you always imagined the North Pole to be like. Whimsical and Magical!

Frosty The Snowman

frosty-the-snowman

 

It’s Frosty the flippen Snowman! A must watch for the holiday season! Besides, how many times have you built a snowman and wished that it would come to life?! (As long as it isn’t a reincarnation of Michael Keaton). Frosty is a great and classic tale that needs to be experience every Christmas.

Nightmare Before Christmas

NightmareBeforeChristmasPoster1993

 

So I know that I put this in my Halloween top ten, but you know what; it’s the Nightmare Before Christmas! It will having you clinging on to what remains of the autumn season while embracing the magic that is Christmas. I love the way each Holiday has its own ‘world’ and how Jack crosses over and begins his insane take on Christmas by having ‘halloween town’ take over Christmas to give Santa a break!

Elf

elf

 

Another modern classic! Plus a Will Farrell film where he doesn’t needing to resort to vulgarness to raise a laugh. Elf is a film that plays off the classics like Rudolf and Santa Claus is Coming to Town and bring us something that is so ridiculously Christmasy and so immensely funny that you can’t NOT like this film!

Arthur Christmas

arthur christmas

The only down side to this film is that Justin Bieber has  music video in the extra freatures. Beyond that the film itself is brilliant. It takes the ‘legend’ of Santa and brings it to life and hilarious, new, way. I was reluctant to watch this at first, but I was so happy that I did. I can easily see this film becoming a classic Christmas film. The story is emotional and dramatic, funny and enchanting, and very original!!

Home Alone

HomeAlone

Home Alone. Oh Home Alone. The crazy family going on vacation, the bratty kids, the just as bratty Kevin, and the incredibly unreliable parents who would most definitely be put in jail for forgetting their kid, is one of the best Christmas tales. With so many iconic moments like Kevin being ‘grownup’ and going to the shop for food, ordering pizza, and as two burglars expect to case an empty house find it very much not empty, and not to mention the scary old man who lives next door, you will never stop laughing.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

SCICTT

I have a fond place for all of these old school animated Christmas films. There is just something so special about them. The stories and the way they are told just doesn’t happen like that anymore. They are what Dr Who would call a fixed point in time. Everything seems to revolve around them, they never get boring and they never get old! Their impact on Christmas Culture is unparalleled.

Bonus Feature:

Okay I’m going to add a couple of bonus tales to the list, because if I wanted I could have a list that goes on and on, because Christmas time is amazing!

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

Dr Who Xmas Carol

What I think is the best Doctor Who Christmas Special to date. The story is engaging, the ‘alien’ world is awesomely Steampunk-y Victorian and the cast is suburb. Dr Who’s take on the classic Christmas Carol is very clever, very fun, and very Christmasy. Which oddly enough most of the Christmas Special are not. But this special is one that I will watch every Christmas and never stop enjoying!

The Adventure of The Blue Carbuncle

BlueCarbuncle4001

 

Oh yes, even the great detective has a Christmas tale!! In the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. A hat, a goose, and a precious stone drive Holmes and Watson through the wintery and Christmasy streets of Victorian London as they seeks answers to the riddles that have crossed their door. The Granda, Jeremy Brett version hold close to the book and it wonderfully portrayed. It would be a good addition to your Christmas time viewing.

Have a merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!

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Great gift ideas for the Christmas Season:

The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is available in paperback and ebook from all good bookstores including in the USA Barnes and NobleAmazon & Itunes. In the UK AmazonWaterstonesItunes UK. For fans outside US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository. Alternatively you can order straight from MX Publishing!

Sherlock Holmes & The Case of the Crystal Blue Bottle – A Graphic Novel. Pre-order on Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk and The Book Depository now! Alternatively you can order straight from MX Publishing!

Fragile Words: A Collection of Verses and Short Stories OUT NOW for both ebook and paperback! Go to amazon.com & amazon.co.uk for ebooks! If you are old fashioned and wish to have a physical copy go to lulu.com!

What Happened to Vampires?

This Halloween season I’ve seen several classic horror films including several different vampire, primarily Dracula related, stories. From the old German film Nosferatu to the classic Hammer productions staring Christopher Lee. As I look through the ages I see that most really good horror films were made within a certain period. The 1920s-1970s. The classics like Nosferatu, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Invisible man, Dracula, The Hammers films including Horror of Dracula, House of Frankenstein/Dracula, Hound of the Baskervilles, even the cheesy Taste the Blood of Dracula had a creepy story to it. But something happened within filmmaking and hollywood lost touch on what it takes to make a really good horror film. Now I’m not saying there are no other good horror films these days because there are some. I rather enjoyed Hammer’s The Woman in Black and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd, and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Wood – a rather brilliant horror film in my opinion! However, with boring stuff like Paranormal Activity #trillion SAW #gazillion, every single teen ‘scary’ film with the group of kids getting picked off one by one but not without a flash of boobs and some dudes abs, hello Final Destinations!, the current ‘horror’ genre is rather poor and pathetic. Vampires being the case in point.

They went from downright creepy vile creatures to sparkling “godlike” beings who are just misunderstood and just wanna be loved and…play chess?

I mean really? This is what vampires have truly come too and shockingly everyone, or rather a gigantic mass of love-starved teens and middle-aged woman, are totally cool with this and want it. Why? I would love to see Vampires (films) go back to what they are. Vampires are not good people, they are a few notches below the devil himself. They don’t bloody sparkle, they don’t feed off animals instead of humans, they don’t have some lamebrain organisation in Rome or wherever, they sleep during the flippen day, they don’t go to high school in Volvo’s and jeeps, and they don’t want a real love-relationship, they want to freaking suck your stinking blood and drain your soul from your body! No, they don’t want to sit in field and sparkle and read poetry they want to rip you to shreds to satisfy their unquenchable thirst. Vampires are not ‘the good guys’ they are the bad guys. They are the mother trucking, straight from the pit of hell, bad guys! Personally I find it a little weird that so many ladies think this whole ‘vampire boyfriend’ is a good idea. If you want a little danger in your life or excitement…I don’t know, try reading a book that is uhhhhh, well written and thought out. I mean if you think about a Vampire, who is a soulless dead creature that is cold as ice and has no blood, is going to find it a little hard to, uhhh, aid in the conception of a child. Just saying there’s a few screws missing in this machine. It. Doesn’t. Work.

The point is, ‘vampires’ these day suck. They are no longer scary, they are…sexy? I am waiting patiently for this silliness to end so that we can go back to having these beings for what they are…soulless monsters. Plain and simple.

It’s halloween. I just watched The Horror of Dracula. And this is my vampire rant.

If you want to see what a GOOD vampire “love” story should be like. Read  The Vampyre; By John William Polidori

11 Sherlock Holmes books that are great for halloween!

 

Here are some great Sherlock Holmes stories that are perfect for halloween! 7 of these titles can be found on MX Publishing, while Sherlock Holmes Vs Dracula & Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes can be found on titan books. If you want a bit of horror and mystery these are great places to start!

And for those who want something a little bit more classical, nothing beats the gothic horror, The Hound of the Baskervilles! Or The Adventure of The Sussex Vampire!

Undershaw Visit

On a windy and rainy Sunday in September I ventured out to Hindhead, Surrey with writer/actress/UCLA Teacher Bonnie MacBird to have a tour of the Undershaw Estate. For any new comer Undershaw is the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author and creator of Sherlock Holmes. There has been an extensive legal battle to try and save his former home from being turned into a housing estate. The Undershaw Preservation Trust is leading this battle and building up their followers to help be a strong worldwide voice that is crying for the restoration of this home and not its destruction. Some images of our tour:

It truly was a shame to see the extensive damage that has befallen this wonderful house. The house has fallen into such an abysmal condition. Currently the house is safe from further development, however it has become a waiting game now to see what the next move will be. Undershaw Preservation Trust is waiting to find out what the current owner of the house will do next. Will they sell or will they attempt to reapply for planning permission in order to continue turning the house into a development. The outcomes are limited but very severe. If they reapply it could result in bringing everything back to square one forcing UPT to start over in their legal battle more or less. However if the owner sells UPT will be in a position to acquire the house and begin with their plans to restore the house to its former glory. The other option, currently, is that a third party could also buy and restore the house but the house would remain a private dwelling and would only be open to the public a few ties a year rather than a place for tourist/writers to visit any time as The Undershaw Preservation Trust would wish. However, a win is a win in my opinion. As long as the house is restored and not destoyed I think that is a better solution than seeing it turned into a housing development.

Undershaw holds so much literary history. It was in this house where Doyle entertained authors Bram Stroker (Dracula) and J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan) along with several others. It was where Doyle wrote the gothic classic The Hound of the Baskerville’s and where he brought Sherlock Holmes back to life in The Empty House. UPT wants to turn this estate into a place where lovers of literature and Sherlock Holmes can come and enjoy this wondrous estate. Ideas ranging from possibilities to a museum, a hotel/writers retreat, and a tourist spot are all on the table. It’s UPT’s vision to see this house alive and thriving. If you believe in this cause head over to their facebook page and support them by clicking Like.

Books that support Undershaw

The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Luke Kuhns

Sherlock Holmes & The Case of the Crystal Blue Bottle: A Graphic Novel  Story by Luke Kuhns. Illustrated by Rebecca Burns, Marcie Klinger, Sarah Ruprecht & Dan Albers. Special Features from Steven E Gordon (x-men evolutions, The Great Mouse Detective) Matthew Ferguson (Marvel’s The Avengers, Star Wars) Wayne Miller (Sherlock Holmes Revenant)

Sherlock’s Home: The Empty House  Featuring contributors from across the globe included introductory pieces from Mark Gatiss and Stephen Fry

I want to thank Lynn Gale and John Gibson for taking the time to show us around and giving us such an amazing tour.

Ten of my favourite Films/Film Franchises

I recently did a top ten favourite book series list and now I thought I’d through together my list of films that I greatly enjoy. So enjoy my list.

1. The Lord of the Rings: Visually this film is stunning and the acting is great. Its rare when the films are just as good as the books!

2. X2: X-Men United:  The one the raised the bar for superhero films! Great cast, great story!

3. Indiana Jones Trilogy: One of the best adventure fantasy films of all time.

4. Back to the Future: I have set to see a film series with such a solid trilogy. Each film is just as good as the last!

5. Sherlock Holmes 2009: A great new breath of life into the old detective. A fun story, visually pleasing with a great score.

6. Jurassic Park: Simply epic. Jurassic Park brought Dinosaurs back to life.

7. The Bourne Trilogy: A great spy thriller and a series that in my opinion is slightly better on film than then in the books.

8. Drive: An intense and dramatic film with a great sound track.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl: Pirates, buried treasure, an evil curse! A great pirate adventure.

10 The Avengers: The culmination of years worth of planning and films built up to this epic superhero team up that is easily one of the best superhero films to date.

A Day At 221b

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What you’d expect to find at 221b Baker Street, London.

10 books and series I love and why

I thought I would put together a brief list of 10 books and or series that I love and why. I love good stories, stories where you can ‘escape’ into, invest and feel apart of. Stories that have the ability to change your look on life and help to see the world through a different lens. For me these are those stories. Enjoy.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I love this epic and exhausting series. The themes of friendship and duty are magnificently told and the way Tolkien subtly adds his own religious beliefs in this work is absolutely brilliant. By the time I finish the series I feel a sense of accomplishment and a renewed respect for peace and calm.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Toklkien. A great adventure story. A story for anyone who is too ‘okay’ with where they are and need a little ‘nudge out the door’. This is a great medieval story with dwarves, treasure, and dragons, and epic battles all seen through the eyes of tiny Bilbo Baggins. I greatly enjoy the world of Middle Earth that Tolkien created. It has a strange sense of believability in that it feels like its a story from some long lost ancient past that has recently resurfaced.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts by Douglas Adams. A perfectly splendid and hilarious read. Whenever I read this series I find is very hard to stop reading. From the very first word I am hooked. While traveling with Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod, Trillian, and Fenchurch I love the way Adams exaggerates and pokes fun at our culture in these books.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: One of the first series I remember getting deeply engrossed in as a kid. I remember the feelings I had when I heard The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time. Narnia was such a magical and wonderful world. The characters were honest and real. Narnia was a world I always wished to find. Even opening closet doors now and then to see if it was there. Each book in the series is packed so full of brilliant themes of morals and ethics that as time goes on only helps to enrich the series. Each time I read this series its as fresh as the first time!

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 4 novels and 56 short stories make up the epic tales of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson who race about London, England, and Europe solving mystery after mystery! Not every story is a hit, but most of them are. The character of Sherlock Holmes is by far one of the most creative characters of all time. He is as it were one of the first superheroes, the ultimate genius that everyone wants to be! The supporting characters: Watson, Irene Adler, Moriarty, and many others are all such unique and thrilling people. People you really believe were real.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. A thrilling book about the battling of human nature. I love the way Stevenson depicts the downfall of a person who gives in to their ‘primal’ and ‘selfish’ desires through the persona of Hyde. This story mixed with the vibrant life of Victorian London makes this an extremely colourful read and one worth re-reading.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. It took me a while before I had the courage to read this book, but when I sat down and read it, I loved it! I loved this international spy thriller of Ludlum’s. Its was for me a book that looked overwhelming but in reality was a book that was simply enthralling! Watching Jason Bourne wake up with no memory and slowly piece his life back together while running for his life was a tale well worth embarking on. I personally feel the Bourne Trilogy is great but the addition to the series are somewhat unneeded. Stick the the three, but definitely read the 1st!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I was never a Harry Potter fan, I was never a fan of old greek gods either. But the world the Riordan created in this series was really compelling. With a flair very similar to Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series is not only a great read for kids but also adults. You learn so much about the ancient Greek gods/culture through the adventures and you find yourself captured in these epics tales. Riordan’s followup series ‘Heroes of Olympus’ is the perfect step in the right direction regarding seeing these characters move on in life. I found Percy Jackson to be a really great and fun read and one that is worth reading more then once.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. The fundamental lesson in this book: being a grownup is boring! Peter Pan is for me a great story about never losing the childlike wonder and adventure that life can bring. Peter’s naive understanding of life is refreshing. Life is about adventure not about ‘growing up.’ A theme that you can see in many of todays t.v. shows and films.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. “15 men on the dead mans chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” What person, child or adult, does not love a good pirate story! The ultimate treasure hunt. A wooden leg captain, the black spot, a secret treasure map, marooning, its the perfect storm for a pirate adventure. I love, again, the colourful world created by Stevenson. The characters are vivid and the setting is brilliantly laid out. This is a perfect swashbuckling adventure story!

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