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Picasso Santa

“You wanna piece of me…?”

Naughty Santa

“And All Through The House”
Vault Of Horror vol.1 no.35
EC Comics

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Movies You Don’t Think Of When You Think Christmas Movies


yeah, yeah
It’s A Wonderful White Christmas Carol Story On 34th Street instantly springs to mind whenever somebody says “Christmas Movie” but here are a few you should give thought to as alternative programming for the season

Hell’s Heroes

HellsHeroes 32_720x500

Hell’s Heroes is the first sound version of The Three Godfathers, most famously filmed in 1948 with John Wayne.  Based on the novel by Peter B. Kyne, Three Godfathers has been filmed officially six times (2 silent versions, 3 talkies, 1 TV movie) and unofficially more than can be counted (see below).  Hell’s Heroes is my favorite take on the tale, a story of three doomed desperadoes who sacrifice themselves to bring an infant to safety across the trackless desert.  It pops up occasionally on TCM so tell your DVD-R to look for it.


Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers

So how in the world does a novel set in the American West translate into an animated feature set in 21st century Tokyo?  Very well, thank you.  The time and setting and characters have changed but it remains essentially the same story:  The desperate, the doomed, and the damned prove their humanity by saving an infant on Christmas Eve.  Highly recommended.


Die Hard

Die hard card_blog

Oh, yeah, like you didn’t see this one coming…


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service


The only James Bond movie with a song about Christmas trees.


The Junky’s Christmas


Now, I know what you’re thinking:
You’re thinking “Buzz has finally lost his pea-pickin’ mind.  A story about a petty criminal drug addict trying to score a fix is his idea of a Christmas story?!?!?”

As a failed veep candidate would say:  “Hew betcha.”  ‘Cuz The Junky’s Christmas is William S. Burrough’s meditation on the act of compassion even when it runs contrary to one’s own self-interest.  It’s the story of a jonesin’ user who has the choice of feeding his addiction or helping a total stranger who needs his fix even more than he does.  Read the original short story, then watch the marvelous animated puppet film.


Christmas On Mars

Christmas on Mars

No, this is the film where I finally lose my pea-pickin’ mind.  Christmas On Mars is an indie sci-fi feature by the Oklahoma alt rock band, The Flaming Lips.  It’s a clever, well made, intelligent, thoughtful, and ultimately uplifting tale of human colonists on Mars just trying to get through their daily routines without collapsing into despair and depression.

You see that Parental Advisory on the disc cover?


I recommend Christmas On Mars highly, but if you are among my many friends who are easily offended (and remember, if I think something might be a little iffy you can guess how far on beyond zebra it must be) take heed:  The aliens are modeled on something that’s incredibly NSFW.  Santa Claus Conquers The Martians this ain’t…


Honorable Mention:
L.A. Confidential

LA_Confidential_Newspaper_Display_2Say what you will, the LAPD knows how to throw one helluva Christmas party…


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I Don’t Know What To Make Of BEES IN PARADISE


In a lifetime of seeking out odd movies, few have come odder than this.  If you’re a fan of low brow bawdy English musical hall comedy, offbeat low budget films, and/or a sci-fi completist have we got a movie for you!

bees in paradise 1944 - workers

Bees In Paradise is a 1944 quote quickie[1] produced while England was still in the thick of WWII (though eventual victory was in sight).  It mines the old trope of an idyllic society of females but does so with a decidedly contemporary twist:  Though World War Two is never mentioned directly, it’s clear from the dialog that the women in the story have in direct response to the conflict raging around them deliberately rejected the war-like patriarchy of the Western world and set up on a remote island a new civilization deliberately patterned after a beehive.  Males are kept (off camera) as workers and breeders; they have two months of mating time with a female in order to produce offspring and then they’re either executed or set adrift in a canoe!

bees in paradise 1944 - pockets

Into the middle of this crash lands a civilian bomber ferry crew.[2]  There is, of course, rivalry among the females for the four men, a lot of songs, silly vaudeville routines, musical numbers, and the obligatory English male comedian in drag.  What’s surprising is the straight forward discussion of gender politics, socio-economic systems, and women’s right to sexual self-determination.

Singin’ In The Rain this aint.

It also ain’t very entertaining.  Oh, you have no idea how much I wish I could like this movie, even a little, but it just never ever jells on screen.  Individual bits and routines bring an occasional smile (two comics try emulating a bit of Road To… movie business and when it fails moan that it always worked for Hope & Crosby!) but there’s just nobody in the movie to arouse any empathy with, the songs are clever and competent instead of actually entertaining, and the production itself looks rather threadbare (though they got excellent use out of sets left over from The Thief Of Baghdad).

bees in paradise 1944 - queen

I think it would be stretching things quite a bit to say that Bees In Paradise was an influence on Abbott & Costello Go To Mars or Queen Of Outer Space or even Invasion Of The Bee Girls, but it clearly got there first and did the most with the core idea.  To that we tip our sci-fi propeller beanies.

The movie was directed and co-written by Val Guest, who later went on to write and/or direct such B-movie classics as the first Quatermass films, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth; he was also part of the delirious, glorious mess that was the first film version of Casino Royale.  What interest Bees In Paradise has for film buffs is that it’s a decidedly offbeat take on English morale during the middle of WWII, using a sci-fi setting ala Twilight Zone to examine a more serious issue, in this case the rapid change in gender roles and expectations brought about by the war.[3]




[1]  England restricted the number of foreign films that could be shown in the UK by requiring a certain percentage of home grown product for all films shown.  In order to get the more popular Hollywood features, UK distributors often booked cheap, inexpensive British made films to raise the number of allowable imports.  These were called “quota quickies” and were the equivalent of American B-movies (double features in the US would have an A feature and a B feature, so called because of their placement on the billing, but revenues for the double feature would be divided evenly between the two; US distributors would run low budget exploitation films along with higher priced major studio fare and receive a kickback from the low budget film maker).

[2]  Pilots and air crew unfit for military service due to disabilities or age often were hired to fly military aircraft from their point of construction to their theater of service, thus freeing military pilots for combat duty.

[3]  Meanwhile, as Guest was churning out this movie in merrie olde Englande, across the channel Marcel Carne was making his epic masterpiece Les Enfants Du Paradis right under the noses of the Nazis.

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“Don’t Think!” by Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury w glasses cap

I never went to college — I don’t believe in college for writers.  The thing is very dangerous. I believe too many professors are too opinionated and too snobbish and too intellectual, and the intellect is a great danger to creativity … because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be.  I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads “Don’t think!” You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel.  Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway. — Ray Bradbury

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The Best 2-Panel Horror Comic EVER



“Nobody…” by Clifton Meek

Nobody is a real d!ck

(Thanx to Barnacle  Press
for all the cool linkage.)

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And Now A Photo Of Barbara Steele Topless…


Barbara Steele topless

…well, this should be good for a
couple of hundred thousand hits…

I’ve posted here about my first exposure
to Mario Bava‘s incredible Black Sunday

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Lou Scheimer (1928 – 2013)


Lou Scheimer Creating the Filmation Generation cover-620_3Lou Scheimer deserves a longer & better obituary than I can provide at this time; I suggest those interested read this one or this one or wait for Mark Evanier’s post on Lou.

Lou, at the urging of the late Arthur Nadel Jr, was the first producer to hire me, the first one to put me on staff as a writer, and the first one to regret that decision, I’m sure.  At one time Lou had me, Sam Simon, and John Dorman working for him simultaneously.

A lesser man would have snapped.

But Lou was made of sterner stuff as a brief look at the history of Filmation Studios will tell you.  Filmation was my introduction to animation, my boot camp, my finishing school, my crucible.  Thanx to him & the wonderful, wonderful staff he recruited I learned more in 8 months about writing & creativity & film making than I could have learned in 48 months in a class room.

I’ve described Lou as a gent and a class act and he was.  He was also a mensch and when others were shipping jobs overseas to line their pockets, he was squeezing each nickel so hard the friggin’ buffalo would fart…but he kept those jobs in the US of A.

I’m glad I was able to tell him how much he meant to me and so many others, both employees and fans.


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If You Still Haven’t Seen PACIFIC RIM…


…here’s a clip of Ultraman beating the snot out of a giant monster.

animated ultra pounds crap outta monster

 There.  I’ve just saved you $28.98 ($19.99 at Amazon)

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Fictoid: the counterfeiter


monkey jester

call it the harpooner’s shack with rich delicious deliberate irony

they gather to talk
and swap lies
and brag
about the one
they are going to catch
the one that got away
this time but oh brother next time…

the counterfeiter comes in lays out his wares

the true hunters ignore him
[though truth be told
more than a few
envied him]

he smiles and
waves at them and
a few grunt in return
but most pointedly
look away

their disdain is wasted
the counterfeiter
oblivious to it

in a few moments
someone comes in
looking for an idea

unable to go through
the impenetrable barrier
between the real and unreal
such people come
to where idea hunters gather
and seek to buy
what wares they offer

genuine idea hunters
real idea hunters
turn their noses up
at those who hunt
on demand

rather starve in pride
than soil their souls
bringing back
a trophy-to-order
for someone who
couldn’t hunt themselves

but even those
who hunt on demand
are at least acknowledged
as genuine members
of the company

not like the counterfeiter

the customer
comes in
looks around

even the most proud
of the idea hunters
shifts ever slightly
so the customer
can see their wares

more established
mercenary hunters
rattle their instruments
clear their throats

the customer ignores them

the bright dazzle
of the counterfeiter’s wares
attract him

the counterfeiter
isn’t particularly good
at his craft

his wares bear only the faintest of resemblances
to real ideas that real hunters bring back
cobbled together as they were out of a myriad of properties
and while colorful were all a dull mismatched motley
not the shimmering iridescence of a real true genuine idea

but the customer
like most customers
has the taste of a pig
a pig who can not tell
turds from truffles

walks over to
the counterfeiter’s table

“See anything you like, sir?  Anything that catches your fancy? 
Oh, this one here is particularly beautiful.  My, such a job I had landing him –
not that you’d want to hear anything about that, sir.  But it is fine, sir, it is good.”

“I dunno. 
Could you perhaps
lop off this portion
in the middle and
replace it with maybe
a piece of that one over there. 
No, not from the middle,
from the end.”

“Yessir, very good, sir.  Most folks would not have
your discerning eye, but you I can tell see there is no harm –
no harm at all! – in putting those pieces together just the way you require. 
See?  There, done lickety-split, just as nicely as you please. 
Shall I wrap it up for you, sir?”

customer pays up
[real hunters grunt in surprise
hate the counterfeiter they might
but the dirty little bastard
sure knows how to get paid!]
and leaves with his counterfeit idea
bits and pieces breaking off
and trailing behind him

the counterfeiter smiles at the real idea hunters
not a smile of triumph or even a smile of contempt but
more like a sad smile as if he had…well…not really
an idea perhaps more of a clue as to
the vast gulf between him and them
a clue flavored perhaps with a bit of
an appreciation for the irony of it all

“That’s the way it’s done”
he says packing up his wares
and hustling out the door

he doesn’t bother to offer
to buy any of them a drink


© Buzz Dixon

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South Park / Pixar Plot Points


Once upon a time there was a _____ .

Every day, _____ .

Then one day _____ .

Because of this, _____ .

Because of that [or] However, _____ .  (repeat as necessary)

Finally, _____ .

This is important because _____ .

This template derives from a talk by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park and the Pixar story point list (via Brian MacDonald’s Invisible Ink as related by Emma Coats) with a few tweaks by yrs trly.  While the ideas expressed by Parker, Stone, and MacDonald are not new, they’ve certainly been distilled to their purest essence.  This is an extremely useful tool for finding & strengthening the spine of your main story as well as all the characters’ personal sub-plots.

Once upon a time…” identifies the protagonist/s.  This can be an individual, a group, a team, a family, or a community.

Every day= the status quo, mundane or outrageous; good, bad, or indifferent.  This is the backdrop against which change (i.e., story) will occur.

Then one day= permanent change or the potential for permanent change.  Whichever it is, it will force the protagonist/s to respond.  There is no point in having an inconsequential or self-correcting change (i.e., the status quo returns on its own, including the protagonist/s acceptance of it).  Any change that causes the protagonist/s to react  is an important change to them even if inconsequential to others.  And it can be self-change; the protagonist/s can decide they’ve had their fill of the current situation and will do something about it.

Because of this= the step/s the protagonist/s take to either restore the old status quo or establish a new one of their liking.  This is what your story is about, even if the protagonist/s later change goals/objectives/tactics as a result of challenges they encounter.

Because of that= a direct reaction to the preceding plot point.  Whatever “this” is in response to “then one day“, “that” will be a further response.  It can be either an obstacle or a help (or even a combination thereof) but it changes the nature/direction of the protagonist/s’ response.

However= an alternative to  “because of this“, a random and/or external event that adds a new complication/element to the story.  Sometimes a “however” is a response to a much earlier plot point that the protagonist/s have moved past but are now forced to deal with again.  “Howevers” are permissible to make the protagonist/s’ objective more difficult to obtain, they’re cheating if used to arbitrarily help the protagonist/s without consequences.

(repeat as needed) = follow the story through logically, with appropriate responses to prior choices or plausible random external input.

Finally= the protagonist/s reach a logical conclusion and new status quo they are either willing or forced to accept (viz. a tragic end)

This is important= why this story is worth telling.  Unless telling a shaggy dog story, the ending must make a crucial difference to the protagonist/s.  If they re-establish the old status quo, the reader must understand why this makes a difference to the way they lived before.  (In truth, just as one can never enter the same stream twice, one can never return to the way things were before the protagonist/s were aware change was possible; at the very least a return to the original status quo now includes the wisdom to fully appreciate that status quo.)

As noted, this is useful not only for the main plot involving the protagonist/s but also all sub-plots involving the antagonists and supporting characters.  Everybody has a story, and while one doesn’t have to fill in the details of every character’s story to the same degree as the main plot, it never hurts to know what their story is vis a vis the protagonist/s’.  Often a group of protagonists will have overlapping motives for participating in a story, some of which may be at odds with one another.  They will each certainly have their own unique manner of dealing with the challenges facing them.  Too often supporting characters are empty suits designed to trot onstage, do their business, then trot off.  By figuring out what their stories are, one opens up the main plot for far greater nuance and detail.

Caveat! This template will not guarantee a good story.  What it will do is make it easier to diagnose your plot, to find/clarify/strengthen the spine of your story.  You still have to provide interesting characters, interesting situations, and write in an interesting manner.

And that takes practice…

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