Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I think I got my first CALLISTO for Christmas '68 or '69.
Can't quite recall whether I got him before Sgt STORM, who,
along with DOUG DAVIS, JEFF JONES, and the over-sized
Captain LAZER, were all part of Major MATT MASON's
band of astronaut buddies.  And for a while in my childhood,
some of them were my buddies as well.  Any memories of
any of these toys, Criv-ites?  Let's hear from you.

(No, I haven't forgotten SCORPIO, but I'm not sure
whether he was friend or foe.  Too lazy to  look it up.)

Monday, 24 July 2017


Just learned from NICK CAPUTO's blog that
STAN LEE's gal Friday in the '60s, Fabulous FLO
STEINBERG, died yesterday.  A bit of MARVEL
died with her.  Rest in peace Flo.  (To read Nick's
more detailed look at Flo's career, click here.)

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Remember that classic scene in Dr. NO when
SEAN CONNERY first utters the immortal line
"Bond... James Bond" ?  Well, here's how it might
have looked had James Bond been Jane Bond in-
stead.  ELKE SOMMER is certainly prettier than
big Tam, so there's no way anyone would ever
say "No" to her - not even a doctor.

(Winner of 2017's Most Tenuous Pun award.)


Anyone remember the wooden DAVY CROCKETT
huts that used to be in Scottish swing-parks?  I think they
were removed in the early 1970s, but I'd love to see a photo
of one to remind me of happy days gone by.  Anybody got
one I could copy?  Let me know, Criv-ites.

Friday, 21 July 2017


The middle building sits on what was once part of the garden.  A large
annexe hut could just be seen behind the church building on the right.
The stairs of the manse building on the left are new, the original ones
being well-worn, with a wall around them instead of a railing

As a teenager, I went through a phase where I developed
an interest in religion.  Y'know, the full "who am I, where did I
come from, why am I here, where am I going?" bit.  Consequently,
I attended a couple of church youth clubs with some pals, who weren't
quite so interested in religion, but were interested in the girls who fre-
quented such establishments.  We were regarded as 'neds', not because
we were (not real neds anyway), but because, compared to our fellows
(all saintly-minded believers who saw Jesus as their 'personal Saviour'
and who were liable to break into a chorus of 'Kumbaya' - with guitar
accompaniment - at the drop of a hat), we were seen as 'rough boys'
to be pitied and avoided if we couldn't be 'converted'.  (Not
in the recent Doctor Who way, I hasten to add.)

The basement fire exit.  Members came and went
through here to and from the garden.  The barred
window on the left is the one seen from inside the
basement's main room in the next photo

One such club was held in the basement of what used to be
the manse, within the same grounds as the church itself.  The
last time I recall being in that basement must've been around 1979
or '80 - almost 40 years ago.  Wow!  That's a hard one to get my head
around.  At the back of the church once stood an annexe hut, which was
replaced with a large extension a good number of years back, housing a
cafe and various other things.  I was in there yesterday for a coffee (first
time I've used the place), and after I'd finished, I took a wander into the
former manse and visited the basement.  It was pretty much as I re-
membered, though it looks like the kitchen has had a refit, and what
was once a window-sized opening into the kitchen from the
staircase has now actually had a window fitted.

If I recall rightly, an old radiator was affixed to the wall under the
window, and the seating was previously oblong wooden box-like
structures with square cushions on top for comfort 

As I stood looking around and drinking in the memories
of my teenage visits to the place with my friends (one of whom
died some years ago), I was struck by just how recent it all seemed
to have been.  Hard as it might be for you to believe, I was regarded
as what we Scots call the 'leader-aff' by my group, which was probably
good thing as I tended to rein them in a bit from indulging in the full
catalogue of youthful 'hijinks'.  Had all those years really elapsed since
I'd last stood in these low-ceilinged vaults?  It hardly seemed possible.
I was both cheered and saddened by the occasion, and returned this
afternoon with my camera and snapped a few photos for posterity.
However, yet again I'm reminded of just how fleeting the years
are, and how quickly events of the present become mere
echoes of the past in the haunting halls of memory.

I remember sitting in the room through the doorway back in the
'70s, but can't recall if it housed a pool table back then.  I dimly
see a table tennis table in my mind, but could be imagining it 

It's strange to think that what was once a very familiar
place to me on a weekly basis (perhaps even twice-weekly, as
there may've been a Wednesday meeting as well as a Sunday one)
for a couple of years or so, faded from my mind once I'd left it behind.
(I simply became too 'old' for a 'youth' club.)  However, I think there's
a difference between not thinking about something and truly forgetting
it, and all it takes is a sight (or a scent) of something familiar to bring it
all back to the forefront of one's thoughts as if it were only yesterday.
Ever had a similar experience while revisiting a place from your far-
away youth?  Then feel free to share your reminiscences with
all your fellow Criv-ites in the comments section.

A view of the garden - the building on the left once wasn't part of it,
and there used to be a huge tree roughly in the middle of the lawn

Taken from roughly the same spot (or near it) back in
the 1970s.  If you look really closely, you can see my
Coke can to the left of the tree.  The last tree in the
row may be the one in the above photo.  If not, it'll
be one of the ones in the background 

In case you're interested, below are some more photos.  If I can
find ones I took back in the 1970s, I'll add them for comparison.
(Now done, but I'll add any more I find at a later date.)

The front of what  used to be the manse.  The extension on the
left sits on what was once part of the garden, as was the car park

The church (Baptist) building itself.  It's reported that the 'pastor' from
my time later 'moved on' after having affairs with female members of
his 'flock'.  Don't know if he left the ministry completely, but this was
the man who spoke to me like something he'd scraped off his shoe

This photo was taken from the bowling green on the other side of the
church in the above photo (that's it on the left).  You can see part of
the annexe hut to the right, which is where the extension now sits 

Doorway to the internal stairs to the basement...

...and the stairs themselves

Basement seen from the doorway

View from inside the pool room

View of the main room from pool room doorway

This is part of the view you'd see through the window in
the above photo.  The Old Village Hall across the road
was being transformed into a theatre at the time

The kitchen is situated around to the far right

This closed-off stairway is situated between the
previous scene and the next one.  It was thus in
my day too.  Teenagers used to sit here chatting

The stairway in the previous pic is to the left of the doorway

The kitchen looks surprisingly smaller than I remember it, but I
don't think it had so many cupboards and stuff as it does now 

The window on the right was once just an open frame, through which
members would take a shortcut into the kitchen from the staircase

Back around to the main room...

...and up the stairs to the outside world.  Our
visit's over, so "Th-th-that's all, folks!"

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Saw this on MARK EVANIER's blog and thought
I'd share it with you.  Now that's what I call magic!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


My previous post had a lot of good comments, but one
that I thought cut right to the heart of the matter in a simple,
matter-of-fact way was the one below by Dave S.  I thought
it deserved a spot of its own, so here it is.


I'm also disappointed that we've been given a female Doctor
apparently in the name of political correctness.  To me, the charac-
ter that I've been watching and reading about since at least 1980 is a
male, and I feel it will be difficult for me to adjust to a female playing
the role.  If anyone wants to label me a sexist over that, go right
ahead, I've been called worse.

What I find remarkable is that the views of me and people like
me are simply being dismissed as the ramblings of old fogies or met
with hostility - one comics professional (who I don't believe I've heard
of) can post on Twitter that anyone who doesn't like the casting can
'STFU and don't watch it' and this is not only tolerated, but con-

It seems as if some people have just decided that if they shout
louder than others, then their opinions become the default correct
viewpoint that everyone else should either adhere to or be dis-
missed and abused.

I do not want a female Doctor.  Should anyone want
 to take that personally and abuse me for it, go ahead.

Someone in the Daily Mail comments section made the point
that this casting is like Jackie Chan playing Poirot.  It reeks of
stunt casting, cheap sensationalism used in lieu of actual ideas.

I'm undecided right now whether I'll be watching the next
series.  Part of me wants to give it a try - it is after all something
that has meant a lot to me for almost my entire life, but part of me
also thinks that the Christmas special might be a good jumping-off
point.  If I switched off just as the regeneration scene starts, I would
have seen The Doctor in his final body, meeting his original self,
and passing away having fought the good fight so many times.

I'm also concerned at Chris Chibnall's comments that he
always intended to cast a female Doctor - shouldn't he be looking
for the best actor available, irrespective of anything else?  The fact
he's said that just confirms to me that this is a gimmick, a way of
causing controversy simply to get attention. 

Anyway, that's my thoughts for the mo.

Monday, 17 July 2017


Well, that's it for me.  Barring the Christmas Special -
which I'll only be tuning into to see DAVID BRADLEY as
the first Doctor - I won't be watching any episodes of the new
series of DOCTOR WHO when it's shown in 2018.  For several
years now there's been a gay agenda in various TV shows, Doctor
Who included (culminating in a lesbian kiss in the last episode of
the recent series), trying to brainwash us all into believing that
gender is unimportant, and sexual orientation is a flexible
condition that we should all experiment with and further
erode traditional male/female roles in society.

You see, it's all those 'luvvy' thespians (and writers,
directors, and producers) most of whom were never quite
sure which side of the floor they danced on, wanting to rewire 
society into their ideal version of what it should be.  However,
that's not the main reason The Doctor has now had a gender re-
assessment inflicted on him.  The show is in trouble, suffering de-
clining viewing figures and lack of interest from the general pub-
lic ('cos it's written for fanboys in anoraks who enjoying dress-
ing up as Doctor Who or his companions) and it needs a shot
in the arm to revive interest in order to keep merchan-
dise sales propping up Auntie Beeb.

With that in mind, what better time to embrace
misandrist philosophy and remake one of Britain's iconic
male heroes into a woman?  Can you see that happening to
or any other legendary male hero of TV, Cinema, or literature?
Once, it would have been unthinkable, but not any more, alas, in
the mad pursuit of higher viewing figures and more merchandise
revenue.  The fact that the BBC has taken this desperate step
demonstrates what I've suspected for some time.  They simply
don't quite know where to take the show next, so have de-
cided on controversy to try and give it a much-needed
shot in the arm.  I'd have preferred the show to be
euthanised.  It would've been far kinder.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


Images copyright GUSSONI-YOE STUDIO, Inc.

Well, I know you don't come to this blog looking for edifying
exposition or informative explanations, so there's no point wearing
myself out trying to give you some.  Nope, you lot come here for the
palpitating piccies, of which we have 8 this time around for you to
savour and salivate over.  I won't hold you back - get goin'!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


Here's the striking STEFANIE POWERS,
giving me the eye and trying to seduce me into
sharing space on that stool with her.  Later, Stef -
I've still got to see to SALMA's and RAQUEL's
romantic demands so you'll have to wait your
turn.  (Women - they're so demanding!)


Back around 1988, when the BATMAN movie
was going into production, ADAM WEST was trying
to drum up support for him getting the opportunity of re-
prising his role as the Caped Crusader.  Interviewed on
TV-am, he said he'd only be interested in doing it if it was
a film noir, gothic, serious type of movie, but was cer-
tainly up for playing Batman on the big screen.

TIM BURTON wasn't interested in West though,
beyond offering him a cameo role as Dr. THOMAS
WAYNE, young BRUCE's father.  Perhaps West felt that
Wayne Sr. being killed at the beginning of the movie would
somehow symbolise the demise of his ownership of the role
of Batman, but whatever the reason, he declined.  If he
couldn't play Bruce then he wouldn't play at all.

At the time of the movie being made, West was
only around 59-60, so it wasn't altogether impossible
for him to have carried it off, especially if the producers
had followed FRANK MILLER's concept of an older, re-
tired Batman returning to the fray.  As Batman in action
was mainly a stuntman in the suit, I feel there was no
real impediment to West's participation.

Except one perhaps.  That being, with West's in-
volvement, audiences would've anticipated the movie
being like the '60s TV show.  In the end, it didn't matter,
because that's exactly what they expected anyway.  On my
first visit to see the movie, I overheard departing viewers
at the film's finish saying "I thought it was going to be
just like the TV show!"  They sounded disappointed
that it wasn't, much to my surprise.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been.  A TV-am techni-
cians strike in November '87 resulted in the '60s show
being hastily drafted in to fill airtime and, surprisingly, it
became quite a hit with early morning viewers, sparking a
minor resurgence in 'Batmania' that almost rivalled its
'60s heyday.  It was relatively short-lived, but the camp
version of Batman was freshly re-established - in the
minds of British viewers at least.

It would've been interesting to see West getting a
crack at playing the DARK KNIGHT persona of Bat-
man.  I think he could've pulled it off, but alas it was not
to be.  On reflection, perhaps it was for the best.  Maybe
Adam West's Batman belongs in the '60s, as much as
The BEATLES and SEAN CONNERY's version
of BOND - at least to people around my age.

And yet... I still think it could've worked, and it
would've been great to see West finally getting what
he so richly deserved - a major, motion picture block-
buster movie, reprising the role with which he'd been so
long associated, but playing it straight and without the
laughs.  C'mon, admit it - you'd have loved to see
  that movie too, wouldn't you?  Do tell.  

Monday, 10 July 2017


Did you play superheroes as a child?  I did, but it was
(with two exceptions) a rather solitary pursuit, as other kids
didn't seem to regard dressing up (outside of Hallowe'en) as some-
thing to indulge in.  The two exceptions were JOHN FIDLER, who
was ROBIN to my BATMAN, and PHILIP MARSHALL, who was
WONDER MAN to my POWER MAN.  (Or might've been the other
way around.)  In my neighbourhood at least, it was viewed as uncool,
though I'm not sure if that word was in vogue back in the mid-'60s
outside of the hippie community.  Even though I was only 7 or
8 years old, I came in for a fair amount of mockery for my
costumed capers from my critical contemporaries.

The only time I saw anyone else playing superheroes
was when I espied GEORGE COOPER and his wee brother
BRIAN (or perhaps another brother, IAN) playing at Batman &
Robin in the narrow lane adjacent to their back garden.  Obviously
they didn't want to be observed out in the open street, and that was
the only time I saw them indulge themselves.  However, there was a
couple of other occasions when caution was thrown to the winds by
other of my peers, who, perhaps intrigued by what I found enjoy-
able in the pastime of assuming a costumed alias, deigned to
join in my escapist escapades.  In fact, they asked if they
could, as if I'd be bestowing a favour on them.

The first such occasion was during a 'playtime' break
in primary school one fine day.  IAIN MORRIS and a few
others who I no longer recall as being associated with this rare
event, asked me if they could play superheroes with me.  "Sure", I
agreed.  I would be SUPERMAN and they could all be Superman's
robots.  They instantly fell into 'mechanical man' mode, favoured in
more modern times by robotic street performers, whereupon I in-
formed them that Superman's robots walked and talked just like
normal humans (or Kryptonians), not robots.  It was to no
avail, and they simply did their own thing, leading me
to abandon the exercise as a lost cause.

The other time was when some of the neighbourhood
kids enquired if they could join in my superhero antics.  I
was surprised, but acquiesced, wondering if their usual games
like football and whatever else they got up to had perhaps tem-
porarily lost their shine, prompting them to investigate the allure of
pretending to be super-powered crusaders.  I was playing at THOR
when they asked me this, so I said they could be any hero they liked.
ELAINE BAIRD decided on WONDER WOMAN (I think - we'd
no concerns over cross-pollinating MARVEL and DC heroes back
then - if the distinction even occurred to us), and the others took
on the roles of various popular heroes.  We decided on the
DAVY CROCKETT hut in the nearby swingpark as
our 'hero headquarters' and set about our play.

I should mention that when I assumed the mantle of
Thor, I had two accessories.  One was a homemade mallet,
the other was a gnarled tree-branch which served as Dr. DON
BLAKE's cane.  I'd hit my 'cane' on the ground while supplying a
vocal 'thunder' sound effect, whip my 'uru' hammer from behind my
back, then substitute the cane in its place of concealment.  (This was
done in reverse when I changed from Thor to Blake.)  Trouble was, my
intrepid band of heroes were unable to grasp the concept (regardless
of however many times I explained it to them) that only Thor per-
formed this ritual to change identities and other heroes had their
own methods of transformation, such as mundanely switching
clothes.  To see them striking invisible hammers and hiding
invisible canes to the 'sound of thunder' was simply
ridiculous and frustrated me no end.

As you can imagine, dissatisfaction was felt on both
sides, and we each returned to our own favoured means
of entertainment, which was probably for the best.  After all,
you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it a superhero!
Anyway, speaking of homemade Thor hammers, you may be won-
dering what mine was made from.  Well, back in 1968, there used to
be a toy called, I think, ZIP-ZAP - which was a twin-coloured bit of
oblong sponge with a long elastic cord running through it.  The idea
of this 'game' was for two players to stand at opposite ends of the
room and quickly swing the sponge between them, trying to grab
it between their knees.  Whoever managed it 'best out of three'
was the winner.  My 'mallet' was the sponge tied to a cane
with thongs painted onto it - with blue HUMBROL
paint no less.  (I didn't have brown or yellow.)

Anyway, it's time to wrap up this self-indulgent post,
and I'll do so by telling you all something that I probably
shouldn't admit to.  A few years ago, I purchased a replica toy
hammer of Thor (a large one) from FORBIDDEN PLANET -
the one bearing the inscription "Whosoever holds this hammer..."
One dark night, I got a pal to run me along to my former neighbour-
hood, and unobserved (I hope), I walked over the remaining half of
the field where I'd played Thor as a kid (the other half had become
the site of amenity apartments for the elderly some years before),
clutching my mighty uru (okay, plastic) hammer, remembering
and re-creating a moment from my childhood, and bringing
the past closer to the present in the process.  Sure,
bonkers I know, but what the hell...!

I now have a newer version of Thor's MJOLNIR -
more like the JACK KIRBY incarnation - and I may well
be tempted to take it along to my old environs one fine ebony
evening and repeat the glad event.  So, if things suddenly turn
quiet on this blog for a while, you'll all know what's transpired.
After all, I can't publish posts from the cells of my local cop
shop - there's no flippin' internet access.  Oh, just one
more thing... "For ODIN!  For ASGARD!" 

 (Nurse, I feel much better now.)


I've just remembered re-creating Thor's battle with
HERCULES (which I'd just read in the 1968 FANTASTIC
Summer Special) with STUART MUNN, in a corner of the
school playground, either on a weekend or during the summer
holidays.  Doubtless another time when another kid was so
bored, he played along with my superhero fantasies.

Sunday, 9 July 2017


Images copyright DC COMICS

Here's a great book I got a few days ago - The SILVER AGE
DOOM PATROL OMNIBUS.  Intrigued?  Then read the official
spiel on the back of the dustjacket below, then run around to your
nearest FORBIDDEN PLANET store and buy a copy.  You'll be
glad you did, or my name isn't ARNOLD DRAKE.  (What's that? 
My name isn't Arnold Drake?  Well, whaddya know?!  Never
mind - you'll still be glad you did anyway.) 

Saturday, 8 July 2017


From U.N.C.L.E., does that make her my
niece?  If so, I'll have to sit down and have a
HART To HART with her, but it won't be
easy - in fact it'll be 'moider'!

Friday, 7 July 2017


Apparently, this DALEK bubble bath from
1976 is regarded as quite collectable.  A friend
saw it in a charity shop for £1 and bought it for
me.  A nice addition to my Dalek ranks, eh?


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's a pair of comics that every True Believer will want
to get their hands on - SPIDEY's origin tale and the 1st issue of
his very own mag.  Available now from FORBIDDEN PLANET
and other good comic shops!  (Psst, here's the best bit - they're
only around 75 pence each - buy a dozen!)

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