HaHalloween III: The Final Chapter

“I never tied people up and forced them to read my HaHalloween jokes, and I could’ve ’cause I’m a big guy and I’m good with knots.”

So, it was not my plan to embark on another HaHalloween episode. The barrel had been scraped, the well had run dry…or so we had thought (to be honest, many considered the barrels and wells empty to begin with). And yet, I coudn’t help myself once the puns began to flow. So another thirty-one hallowed days have passed, another thirty-one jokes, quips, and memery flung agains the Twitter wall in the hope anything would stick. Feast yourselves on HaHalloween III: The Final Chapter. Final, you say? Perhaps. Or perhaps more in the fashion of horror movie sequels. With every final chapter, comes a resurrection, reboot or remake…

Q. What’s a dungeon keeper’s favourite song?
A. Chained Melody.

Q. Why was the squire afraid of jousting lances?
A. Because he didn’t like things that go bumping the knight.

Q. How did the Headless Horseman appear to people when he wasn’t really there?
A. He was a Sleepy Hollowgram.

Q. How do you keep screams fresh?
A. Shriek wrap.

Q. Why do people see fewer ghosts nowadays?
A. Because fitted bedsheets are now more commonplace.

FRED

Q. On what audio format is it best to record the eulogy at a funeral?
A. Caskette tape.

Q. Which food critic compiled a guide book of Britain’s best brains?
A. Igor Ronay.

Q. Which is the Blair Witch’s favourite Mercury Prize-winning album?
A. Boy In Da Corner.

My Halloween pumpkin this year is fine, but it can’t hold a candle to last year’s.

Kid: I see dead people.
Bruce Willis: That’s not a sixth sense! Sight is one of the five normal senses, you dummy! Why I am even here?
Kid: …

Q. What do hangmen toast over a bonfire?
A. MarshGallows.

Q. What does Jason Voorhees like to do most today (Friday the 13th) of all days?
A. Hurt teens (Thirteenth).

Q. Which team of mutants led by the Antichrist fought against their more famous rivals in a game of Noughts & Crosses?
A. The O-Men.

Q. What does Batman wear on Halloween?
A. A Bruce Wayne mask.

Q. What is the subtitle of Mary Shelley 2.0’s classic internet novel, “Frankenstein.com”?
A. The Modem Prometheus.

Q. What’s it called when you’re a werewolf but the girl you’re into would rather date a vampire?
A. Getting TwilightZoned.

Q. What does Vincent Price use to look up gay Wiccans in his area?
A. WitchGrindr General.

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Ghostbusters.
Ghostbusters who?
Ghostbusters who ya gonna call?
Ghostbusters!
Louder!
Ghostbusters!

Q. In which film is Edward Woodward burned alive in a giant humanoid structure made of chocolate, nougat, caramel and peanuts?
A. The Snickers Man.

Q. Why was the pumpkin embarrassed?
A. His mum walked in on him jacking his lantern.

Q. What do you call a ghost that doesn’t say “Boo”?
A. Shy.

Don’t know what’s so “cool” about dressing as a skeleton for Halloween. Your skeleton wears your dumb flesh and skin as a costume all year round.

Q. What do you call young apprentice executioners?
A. Guilloteens.

Q. How do you quantify the energy content of a candy skull?
A. Kcalavera.

Q. What did Hannibal Lecter have for breakfast?
A. Full English, mid-30s, about 5’10”.

“Um, actually, I think you’ll find garlic has no effect on us, that’s vampires.” – Wolfmansplaining.

Q. Why were AKB48 accused of operating on behalf of Satan?
A. Because the Devil makes work for idol hands.

Q. Who lives in the sewers of Newcastle and preys on the local kids?
A. Penny-wye-aye-se, man.

Q. How do you download a ghost?
A. Through the Apparition Store.

Q. What do you use to conduct a seance in Switzerland?
A. A YesYes Board.

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LFF 2017 Wrap-Up: From Blade of the Immortal to Three Billboards…

My film-watching this year has been spotty at best, but I was determined to make the most of the BFI London Film Festival rolling into town to get a head start on a bunch of films coming out in the next few months, in the hope I might be able to catch up on those I already missed in the meantime. Here’s a bunch of short thoughts on all the mostly excellent movies I watched.

Blade of the Immortal / The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike)

Though book-ended by spectacular multi-man sword-fights, Blade of the Immortal sags somewhat in its episodic middle, as our antihero (garbed in black-and-white, yet even the villains operate in shades of complex grey) encounters bossfight after bossfight, with gradually diminishing enthusiasm. The choppy construction and editing also leaves some head-scratching jumps in time and location that disrupts the flow. But it’s worth sticking through it for flashes of strange, bloody hilarity, and for a climax that has a body count around the 400 mark. No 13 Assassins, mind.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)

Lanthimos’ skilled skewering of social norms was deployed to brilliant effect in his English-language debut, but not even The Lobster could prepare you for the strange, dark avenues he takes us down in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. It’s opening shot is a bold statement – this isn’t going to be pretty. But he manages to make the awkward and uncomfortable incredibly funny, though much of that will depend on whether you’re on the same wavelength (if you didn’t like The Lobster, this isn’t going to change a thing). The stilted dialogue, the removed camera, the matter-of-fact approach to disturbing scenarios, all present and correct. A game cast playing things deadly straight. As before, the best point of comparison would be a feature-length sketch from Chris Morris’ Jam.

It’s tense and disturbing and mysterious. I was grinning throughout.

The Florida Project / Close-Knit

Close-Knit (Naoko Ogigami)

At first, the cheery plinky-plonk piano score that plagues 90% of cutesy-poo Japanese dramedies saw me brace for tedium, but Close-Knit proved me wrong. A delight and a surprise, sensitive, charming and funny that still manages to be quite frank and upfront about how far transgender acceptance has come, but also how far it has to go. As it is viewed through the eyes of a child (wonderfully played by Rinka Kakihara), it is simple and gently told, though just because it’s not a heavy “issues” drama doesn’t mean it shies away from anger and sadness – indeed, it makes those moments all the more emotionally powerful (a few moments had me verging on blubbing). That it generally plays things broad and safe shouldn’t be held against it, this has potential to be a crowd-pleaser that may in turn change perspectives of those who would not ordinarily seek out LGBT fare, including families and kids. It’s the kind of film that should be shown in schools, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The Florida Project (Sean Baker)

Moonee and Scooty: great rebel icons of cinema history.

They go on adventures. They get into all kinds of scrapes. They fly in the face of authority. They talk back to grown-ups. Particularly Willem Dafoe, who spends most of the film exasperated by everything and everyone, but his firmness comes from a place of kindness. He’s great.

It is all very very funny, and though there is a universality in its portrayal of childhood, it gives a snapshot of a world of which I’m unfamiliar that feels authentic without judgment, warm and uplifiting without shying away from the rough edges.

The bittiness of the kids’ escapades and encounters, and Halley’s “no fucks given” atittude, means that my patience and sympathies were somewhat tested by the end of it’s running time. There was clearly too much gold to keep from us, and it would’ve risked someone’s favourite line being cut, but a good 15-20 mins cut out would’ve kept the energy up and my enthusiasm for the characters and their situation in check.

But if you don’t come away from it feeling that Moonee is some kind of hero, then you’re dead inside.

You Were Never Really Here / The Shape of Water

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

A harrowing take on the hitman thriller, that has elements of Leon and A History of Violence, but is very much its own beast. Joaquin Phoenix dominates, a physical force to be reckoned with, but suicidally depressive, suffering deep mental trauma, scars internal and external. This is aggressive film-making – flashbacks tear through the present with a jolt, brutal violence leaves you wincing if you can even bear to look, and Jonny Greenwood’s pulsing, swirling, juddering score combine to create a real assault on the senses. Its lean running time is to its credit; any longer and it might be all too much to take. But boy howdy is it something.

The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro)

Once more, Del Toro invites us to take a swim through his myriad genre interests, but The Shape of Water is just the sum of its parts, nothing more, nothing less.

Though it does a decent job of marrying a modern fairy tale with Cold War intrigue, for all its visual magic wonder, it feels oddly hollow, Del Toro caught up in the aesthetic trappings, boo-hiss villains and sudden, bloody violence, but unable to really sell the central chemistry, no easy feat between a mute and man in a rubber suit, despite the best efforts of Sally Hawkins. It’s surprisingly stronger as a comedy than you might expect, and it embraces and accepts the weirdness of its tale.

Meanwhile, Michael Shannon plays the “Michael Shannon” role. Octavia Spencer plays the “Octavia Spencer” role. It’s Richard Jenkins who is the real reason to watch though – if the film’s heart is anywhere, it lies with him. Someone get that guy a merman to love.

Ghost Stories / Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ghost Stories (Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson)

A successful transition from stage to screen, that manages to capture some of the energy of live performance and theatrical craft with its intense atmosphere and strong performances. In some ways a throwback to the horror anthologies of yesteryear, though it’s certainly more of a complete piece than just a smattering of unrelated shorts like so many recent takes on the format. There are loud noises and shocks and jump scares to appeal to the Friday night popcorn crowd, as well as some lovely silly humour to break the tension just a touch, but the lasting impression it leaves you with is its haunting imagery and ideas that are hard to shake.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)

McDonagh’s best film yet, with all the offensive dialogue you’ve come to expect (this is Trigger Warning: The Movie, folks), but more rounded, textured and emotionally rich than before. There’s a maturity and a sense of purpose here, just with lots of fruity, laugh out loud lines layered on top. You believe the characters, their behaviour, their actions (depiction isn’t endorsement, remember), and you get caught up in the machinations of small town America the way you would one of them “slice of life” podcasts you get these days.

Goes without saying Frances McDormand is top-tier, and this is further proof that Sam Rockwell is maybe the best actor working today to still not receive a major acting award nomination (correct me if I’m wrong), but the film is stuffed with good turns all round. Pretty dang great.

Nintendo Switch UK Premiere: Thoughts and Impressions

I was lucky enough to attend the Nintendo Switch UK premiere at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, a chance to get hands-on with the new Nintendo console for the first time, marrying a home device with a portable one (as evidenced by the entry corridor displaying both arms of Nintendo’s console timeline on either side, merging into one with Switch). I’m just going to talk about my experiences on the day and with the machine, rather than get in depth about pricing, Nintendo’s strategy, whether it will be a success or failure. All I’ll say is that I rarely ever get a console at launch (except for the NES Mini!) as it usually takes a few months for them to bed in, and I have plenty of games to be getting on with. Much will depend on whether I can resist the charms of Splatoon 2 come its summer launch, hence why it was the first game I rushed to once the gates were open.

Welcome to the Splatzone

Welcome to the Splatzone

Fans of Splatoon will be entirely at home with Splatoon 2. I played with the Pro Controller and the in-built gyro worked perfectly in replicating the motion controls of the Gamepad. I used the new dual pistol weapons which were really nicely done, with the special jetpack really fun to play around with, getting some juicy airborne strikes. The only thing to adjust to is the need to bring up the map with X in order to check your progress and jump to your team-mates. It’s an extra step and might force you to be more tactical, interrupting the flow of gameplay whereas a quick glance was fine first time round, but it will become familiar with practice. It’s apparently set 2 years after the first game, according to the helper at the stand, which would indicate some story mode is retained, which is a comfort. And the ability to play local multiplayer with fellow Switch holders as well as online is good thing indeed. Of course, Splatoon was mainly about online play, so we’ll have to see if the sequel has the same take-up given Switch owners will have to pay for online access this time.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was up next, and what we got to try was the intro to the game. Seeing other players wandering off in multiple directions within the 20 minutes or so play-time showed that even in the opening area (representing 2% of the entire map), there was much to explore and get stuck into. I fannied about a bit too much to make much progress, and mixed up buttons a fair bit, but I enjoyed the style and presentation and it seemed like offering much in terms of story and set-pieces as well as general larking around. Having been using the Pro Controller, we switched to the handheld set-up, and I was impressed with how crisp and bright and clear the screen was, something that could not be said of the screen on the Wii U gamepad. The button placement in relation to the right hand control stick was an issue, making it hard to hop your thumb between commands without rubbing up against the “look” stick, so I imagine the dedicated home experience with a Pro Controller will still be the ideal way to play. It’s been a while since I played a mainline Zelda instalment (i.e. not a 3DS spin-off), with Majora’s Mask probably the last one I properly had a go at (and that I didn’t even finish), but I’m determined to give Breath of the Wild a try, though I’ll be doing so on Wii U (hey, if Gamecube copies of Twilight Princess were anything to go by, could be a sound investment).

Breath of the WITCH?

Breath of the WITCH?

I also had a brief turn on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, racing with eight-player local multiplayer on handhelds, which was much the same as online play, complete with lobby filled with Miis selecting which course to try (we ended up with Baby Park, natch!). At least got to play as Inkling Boy and Girl and their new themed vehicles. For the updated battle mode, we played on the Splatoon themed stage, which seemed like fun, but this time playing on the dinky screen and using the Joy Con (inserted into one of those plastic steering wheels) made it a little tricky to manouevre as well as to make out your opponents. But on the big screen or handheld, it’d probably work out fine. As I already own Mario Kart 8 on Wii U, I can’t imagine the extras will be enough to justify purchasing again, it will just depend on online support for the Wii U version and how long that lasts and if I need the portablity.

Super Bomberman R remains a mystery in terms of what the R stood for (Revival? Remix? Retro? Romberman?), R just being one of those cool suffixes added to video game titles to make them seem cool, like X or Z. But any generation feels like it’s missing something if it doesn’t have a Bomberman title, and given the franchise’s long history with Nintendo and surviving the demise of Hudson, it’s a pleasure seeing it make a comeback, and as a launch title of all things (not that there’s much competition currently shown). And in many ways, the Switch is perfect for it, a portable gaming machine that encourages local competitive play. The core gameplay remains much the same, combining elements of past iterations into a refined and still entertaining whole. With added story mode and up to 8 players (if you can find them), its combination of cuteness and destruction continues to shine. It was also my first game played with a single Joy-Con and on the screen, and a simple game liked Bomberman worked fine with the miniature controller (the size isn’t much of an issue, being around the width of a smartphone, but a more complex game like Ultra Street Fighter II – which I didn’t play – may be more of a challenge). The tiddly screen was a bit squinty, so it’d better suited for a few rounds on the go than extended tournaments, but it worked well.

The only other third party game I played was a quick session of Just Dance 2017, and as someone who doesn’t tend to play these kind of dance games, it was fun. The track I played involved some unexpected dance moves, including circling my dancing partner, and lots of cute graphics – I sadly didn’t get to play as the blob. It all seemed to work pretty well, proving that Nintendo still remain commited to motion controls and that the legacy of the Wii still casts a shadow. It may not be at the top of anyone’s Switch wish list – or Switchlist, if you will – but the Just Dance series feels most at home on a Nintendo console, and it’ll be as decent an iteration as there’ll be available.

In that vein, 1-2-Switch seems the most obvious play at trying to engage with the “never play games but bought a Wii” crowd. In fact, the first game we played involved striking a dance pose and having to mirror the other player. But one of us properly messed up and still won, so how forgiving it is was not clear. We tried our hand at most of the games available, with Safe Crack and Ball Count offering impressive displays of the HD Rumble, but only time will tell how this would actually apply to other games beyond neat little gimmicks (and Ball Count suffering from showing each player’s guesses to the number of balls in the imaginary box they are holding, off-setting your own decision somewhat). Once we got a hand of it, the much-anticipated cow-milking game probably offered the most amusement, but that’s probably as much down to the bizarre concept ripe with innuendo as actual gameplay. All the mini-games last seconds, which is the case as well with the WarioWare or NES Remix games, so there’s past form, though the generic stock-photo art-style means it lacks character, even if it’s a somewhat cynical way of not alienating non-Nintendo fanboys (in fact, we came up with a suggestion that they could’ve made the whole game Wild West themed and at least added a weird angle to the activities – as well as stealing Red Dead Redemption 2‘s thunder!). It’s hard to imagine it will live past the first few months of the console’s lifespan once more games are released (as of yet it is unclear just how many minigames are featured, but I’d hope for at least 50 or so), but if you are a kid trying to justify your parent’s buying you yet another gaming device, it’s your best bet to convince them.

If Splatoon was the unexpected highlight of the Wii U, an original IP that looked somewhat silly at first but ended up being my favourite game on the console, then Arms would seem to heading in that direction. Though there are similarities to the Wii’s rebooted Punch-Out, there’s a bit more going on here while never feeling too complicated, making it easier to avoid resorting to flailing hands (the motion control version of button mashing) and asking you to pay a bit more attention to your actions and those of your opponent. But the character designs and arenas are charming and imaginative, and there seems to be a lot of opportunity for bright, colourful world-building to surround the surprisingly deep gameplay. I had a really good time with it, and the bumper number of set-ups available meant I got to play quite a few rounds and try out the different fighters on offer, and I could feel myself getting better and uncovering new techniques the more I played. If there’s still a place for boxing-style motion control fighting games, then I hope Arms finds its audience. It deserves a shot.

But the most welcome surprise was Snipperclips: Cut It Out Together, a novel co-operative puzzle game which is probably not too dissimilar to many indie titles that play on a central device – changing colours, perspectives, sizes, etc. – but wins you over with its expressive art style. The goal is to move colourful shapes around the play area to solve puzzles as a team, but you can also snip out parts of each other in order to better fit in place. It’s a good laugh trying to nail the tasks at hand, snipping the wrong chunk off a shape or bouncing on your teammate’s head or balancing a teetering pencil on top of each other, but the cheeky faces the shapes pull and their dancing little feet made me chuckle a lot. If you’ve got someone to play with at home, this could end up being your favourite of the bunch.

Overall, it was a well-organised and enjoyable event. Even when attending the late Sunday session and after a long weekend, the staff were excellent, remaining informative, friendly and enthusiastic, despite no doubt having to explain the controls and sit through the same demos over and over again. That tickets were limited meant I pretty much got to play everything I wanted (the biggest queues were for Zelda – as you got a good chunk of gameplay – and for Snipperclips – as only two set-ups available), and the complimentary food and drink and freebies were nice touches. There are still many questions unanswered about Nintendo Switch, and with not long to go before its release, how much will only become evident once people start to take them home is unclear, but I was generally satisifed with my first hands-on with the new machine.

LIVE REVIEW: Celebrating David Bowie, 8th January 2017

The climax of "Heroes" - yes, from a bit way back

The climax of “Heroes” – yes, from a bit way back

I didn’t do a best of 2016 post on this blog this year (you can get a Spotify playlist here, and check out my Letterboxd list for films if you like), as it just seemed too hard to try and put into words everything that happened when the past twelve months were overshadowed. I was one of those types who responded with the news of David Bowie’s death that Monday morning by listening to his music back-to-back on the radio, eyes filled with tears. From such great lows came the highs of finding solace but also joy in his extensive – and right-up-to-the-moment – catalogue of music (few other artists could fill the airwaves for so long with such a variety of music, not just his own work, but artists with which he collaborated, produced, championed), and getting to be part of the grassroots GlastonBowie tribute at the Glastonbury Festival last year.

And then came the announcement of the Celebrating David Bowie concerts. With the promise of key members of Bowie’s touring band and frequent collaborators, taking place in his birthplace of Brixton, and on what would have been his 70th birthday, it would be as appropriate a tribute as could be mustered. But it was unclear what shape or form it would take beyond “Bowie People Performing Bowie Music Bowie Style”? In the end, it was very much a big old birthday bash, often ramshackle and free-wheeling but heartfelt and sincere – and all for a good fund-raising cause, Children & The Arts.

With longest-serving member present (and de facto MC) Mike Garson performing a piano overture to begin, when the first singer appeared on stage, I had a heart flutter. Was that DAVID BOWIE? Alive?! A micro-second later, reality kicked in, and then it became apparent it was none other than Gary Oldman. But dressed in attire not a million-miles-away from Bowie’s recent sartorial choices, in a fetching hat/glasses/scarf combo, and with a passing resemblance from afar, for a brief moment, it was like Bowie had joined us. Appropriate then that Oldman was singing a rather decent acoustic version of Dead Man Walking. The show then kicked off in earnest, leading to almost three hours of Bowie…without Bowie.

I mean, come on, it does look a bit like him.

I mean, come on, it does look a bit like him.

Given its rotating roster of performers on stage and perhaps lack of time for rehearsal, it was an audio technician’s nightmare, and the sound mix was indeed mixed. At different points, backing vocals overpowered lead vocals, strings were seen but not heard, and Sound and Vision made me wonder some times about whether they should’ve even bothered. Bowie himself didn’t always stick to the album inlay when it came to lyrics, so the odd swapped or repeated line was forgiven, but sometimes the guest vocalists completely lost their hold on the songs, the band having to play around them until they caught up or brought things to a halt. In these instances, Bowie’s absence and the lack of a leader was most pronounced, having hoped for at least some visual representation of him on screen or banner, if not even isolated vocals for at couple numbers (it didn’t help that special guests were barely introduced – hence having to look up the names of most of the non-super-famous or Bowie band regulars after the fact). Poor La Roux looked the part, and danced a neat dance, but ended up stranded in the loops of Golden Years. Bernard Fowler’s Rebel Rebel was a shaky start, but he made up for it with solid renditions of Diamond Dogs and Stay. For the big sing-a-longs of Life on Mars? and Starman, Tom Chaplin of Keane and Mr Hudson respectively probably were thankful for the crowd’s contribution lest they ended up similarly muted.

There were some great moments from the vocalists though, reminding us that as great as Bowie was as a performer, there’s much to savour in other interpretations of his work. Fishbone’s Angelo Moore made the biggest play for borrowing (not stealing) Bowie’s crown, not through mimicry in any sense, but by channeling Bowie’s approach to weirdo theatricality via Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and/or Baron Samedi, offered hugely entertaining renditions of Moonage Daydream and Ashes to Ashes. Gaby Moreno’s Five Years was an early highlight, while Holly Palmer added a hint of smokiness to Lady Grinning Soul, rendering it positively Bond theme-ian, as well as a haunting rendition of Where Are We Now?, the only (somewhat disappointingly, but understandably) contribution from this century. Otherwise, the setlist was representative and comprehensive as one could realistically expect, though ending the encore on Under Pressure seemed to dilute the theme of the evening just a touch. The big guns as far as guests came were Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon leading Let’s Dance – a decent match of singer to song (and period of Bowie’s career) – while Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley’s Changes was near faultless. Though it was Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott who seemed to make the most of his appearances, great versions of All The Young Dudes and Suffragette City (the first song Def Leppard ever performed together apparently, factoid fans).

But the real stars were the Bowie band, and when those big rocking numbers came, they delivered. Earl Slick relished his guitar solos, Garson’s piano a driving force as much as responsible for those wonderful melodies, and much applause offered for Gail Ann Dorsey’s contributions on bass as well as vocals – especially Young Americans and Space Oddity. It was the love for these magnificent musicians and the shared love of everyone in the room for Bowie and his music that really made the occasion feel special and charged the atmosphere. When the sound was operating at full capacity, the crowd were singing, and the band were rocking, it felt like the best shot anyone gathered would have to experiencing a Bowie concert once more – or for the first time, in my experience in any case.

The 2016 Advent Calendar Crap Christmas Cracker Joke Challenge

bingcracker

2016 has widely been considered the worst year ever. In order to help or hinder this trend (depending on your perspective), and having been FOUR YEARS since my last endeavour (not counting two Hallowe’en interludes), this December saw the return of my CRAP CHRISTMAS CRACKER JOKES.

On Twitter, I tweeted an original (at least, not intentionally plagarised, though it’d be pretty obvious if anyone were to attempt to lift most of these from me) made-up Christmas-themed joke. It was like an Advent Calendar, except even more disappointing. Here for your amusement/bemusement I have compiled the whole lot for you to entertain/mortify your nearest and dearest this HOLIDAY SEASON.

Q. How did the Spanish wise man find his way to Baby Jesus?
A. Sat-Navidad.

Q. How does Rudolph find casual hook-ups on his phone?
A. Reindr.

Q. Why does James Bond insist he is on telly every Christmas?
A. Because otherwise he’d threaten to use his TV licence to kill.

How hard can it be to put on a meticulously choreographed Christmas dance spectacular in New York? It’s not Rockette science.

Q. Which streaming service only plays Christmas songs?
A. Yuletidal.

Q. How do you turn a Polar Bear into a Grizzly Bear?
A. Drink Pepsi.

Q. How are Christmas trees officially ranked?
A. They are deco-rated.

Q. How does Donald Trump greet a pantomime dame?
A. He grabs them by the Puss-in-Boots.

Q. When does the song “Santa Baby” take place?
A. On the Thirst Day of Christmas.

Q. Which Babylonian king hates Christmas?
A. Nebuchadnezzar Scrooge.

Q. In which Christmas film does Bruce Willis play a wisecracking cop who can also emit light?
A. Diode.

Q. What do you use to drain vegetables for Christmas dinner?
A. An advent colander.

Q. Why did British and German soldiers play football together on Christmas Day 1914?
A. Their volleyball had a puncture.

Q. How come Darth Vader knew what Luke Skywalker was getting for Christmas?
A. Well, otherwise what kind of father would he be? #spoilers

Q. How do you remember which of Santa’s reindeer is which?
A. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, red nose.

Midge Ure: What do you call a blind dinosaur this time of year?
Bob Geldof: Do-they-know-it’s-Christmas-time-saurus?!
Bono: LOL

Q. In which film does Freddy Kringle appear?
A. A Nightmare on 34th Street.

Q. Why did Tupac refuse to sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”?
A. He didn’t like Biggie pudding.

Q. Which film often watched at Christmas is also a fish dish, served with fruit from which wine is made?
A. The Grapey Skate.

Q. How do you make yellow snow?
A. It’s not possible, because it’s a primary colour.

Q. Who lives under your Christmas tree but doesn’t speak?
A. Parcel Marceau.

Q. What do people who drink Budweiser say when they go carol singing?
A. WASSAIL?!

Q. Who delivers to Father Christmas what goes in naughty kids’ stockings and by what mode of transport?
A. Robbie, coal, train.
(Actual Cracker joke)

Q. Why is it customary to leave a glass of milk for Santa?
A. You ever tried reindeer milk?

That’s you lot for 2016, but if you are desperate for more (emphasis on the word desperate), you can find here my offerings from 2011 and 2012.

Viewing Gum Listening Post #35

  1. Ezra Furman – Teddy I’m Ready
  2. Martha – Christine
  3. Rival Sons – Tied Up
  4. Local Natives – Psycho Lovers
  5. PREP – Cheapest Flight
  6. METAFIVE – Maisie’s Avenue
  7. The Divine Comedy – Napoleon Complex
  8. Beyond The Wizards Sleeve – Creation
  9. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
  10. Adrian Younge – Magic Music
  11. Swet Shop Boys – T5
  12. M.I.A. – A.M.P. (All My People)
  13. Lizzo – Phone
  14. Crystal Castles – Ornament
  15. Tobacco – Gods in Heat
  16. White Lies – Hold Back Your Love
  17. Mystery Jets – Blood Red Balloon
  18. Wilco – Nope
  19. Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden – A Song For Europa
  20. Róisín Murphy – Whatever

Viewing Gum Listening Post #34

  1. Justice – Safe and Sound
  2. Todd Terje & The Olsens – Firecracker
  3. Compton White – Track 2
  4. The Strokes – OBLIVIUS
  5. Spring King – Detroit
  6. Bat For Lashes – Sunday Love
  7. Mitski – Fireworks
  8. Alexis Taylor – So Much Further To Go
  9. Christine and the Queens – Tilted
  10. Rival Consoles – Lone
  11. Floating Points – Argenté
  12. MSTRKRFT – Morning of the Hunt