Predictions 2018.

That Day We reach the time when I assess how well I predicted the ups and downs of the year and look forward to the next. Here we go again:

Trump doesn't complete the year as President.

Zero points.

Brexit cancelled.

Zero points.

MCU based Fantastic Four film announced.

Zero points.

The Doctor Who omnirumour is true.

Zero points.

A new Shakespeare play discovered.

Zero points.

No marks, which sums up 2018 perfectly. It's been 2016 without a sense of humour. Oh well. Um. For next year.

Trump doesn't complete the year as President.

Brexit cancelled.

The BBC launches a pay monthly archival streaming service in the UK.

Arriva Click expands.

I'll lose a couple of stone in weight.

A couple of repeats, an unlikely, a possible and a pledge.  See you next year.

Review 2018:
Bad Films.

Film Yesterday I ran down my top ten films of the year. In short order, here's my bottom ten:

The Snowman
The Image Book
Fifty Shades Freed
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Hold the Dark
Status Update

If that list looks a bit thin, it's because for a portion of the year I adhered to the rule of only watching films with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of over 70% and otherwise being pretty generous to anything which looks like it has a thought in its head, which is why I'm already feeling guilty about including Entebbe which at least tries to do something different with those dance sequences.  The Image Book has had some great review which is why I risked another Godardian shovel over the head, but I'm still convinced JLG hasn't made a good film since the 1970s.

Some of these are just boring.  Hold The DarkFifty Shades Freed (yes, really), Winchester and Mark Felt which somehow made a biopic about Deep Throat preachy and boring and looked especially poor when compared to this year's other All The President's Men homage, The Post.  A potentially expansive epic is turned into men talking grimly in brown rooms.  At a certain point it looked like it would smartly keep Woodstein off screen until it can't help itself and produces its own inferior version of the parking lot scene crucifying actor Julian Morris in the process for not being Redford.

But of all these, The Snowman was the worst.  As the director's admitted about 10-15% of the screenplay went unfilmed which meant they had to find ways of plugging the gaps in editing.  In some ways this is a fascinating watch, as we see Thelma Schoonmaker presses establishing shots into action via ADR to provide at least some connecting tissue between otherwise disjointed scene chronology.  But other oddities linger, like whether Val Kilmer actually had some dialogue originally or what the business was with the sausage in the pivotal breakfast scene.  A prime example of how even a great director, decent source material and impressive cast sometimes doesn't mean anything.

Review 2018:

Film This past year, because of my working patterns, my time has been relatively limited, certainly more limited than it usually is. So at a certain point choices had to be made about what to prioritize, how to spend my leisure time. Reading has become a rare pleasure. Music's drifted into the background and my ability to concentrate increases without it in any case. Television consumption has been reduced to a few regular shows. But the one constant, the one activity which has remained because it gives me so much pleasure, is that I continue to watch a film every night after tea (US translation: dinner).

Which explains why, when you glance at my Letterboxd diary you'll see the total of three hundred and eighty (380) films so far this year, well over one per day.  Of those, thirty-seven (37) were rewatched which means three hundred and forty-three were entire new to me.  Which is less than the average film critic but far more than is probably usual.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  But it's also meant that for the most part I won't have seen the shiny television series you're all talking about.  Sharp Objects? Yes.  The Haunting of Hill House? No.  Others have been posting their entire lists to their blogs, but its all there on Letterboxd if you want to have a look along with often overly generous star ratings.

Choosing ten films from that lot has been a trial.  Having those star ratings to work from is useful, but honestly I've seen so many great movies this year that even as I glance downwards at this list, I'm still not convinced about the choices.  Why not Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War?  Why not Tully or Thoroughbreds or Game Night?  Dark River?  Or Leave No Trace?  I honestly can't say.  Four of these films are Netflix releases and another one is from Amazon Studios.  What does that mean?  Plus there are all the films I haven't seen, especially released theatrically later in the year which I probably won't see until Cinema Paradiso or a streaming service adds it to their collection in 2019.

In other words, take these choices with a pinch of salt in terms of them being my actual favourite films of the year.  Lady Bird should probably be here.  So should The Cloverfield Paradox (which is brilliantly daft), A Ghost Story, Wind River and Mother!  I Am Not A Witch.  Whitney.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.  Cam.  Lucky.  Permission.  The Happy Prince!  When I saw The Happy Prince I was convinced it would be in this end of year list and then Roma popped up and smacked me around the eyeballs.  Does The Other Side of the Wind count as a 2018 release?  In the end I decided not to hold the extended post-production process against it.  So in no particular order:

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
Anchor and Hope
The Other Side of the Wind
Molly’s Game
A Quiet Place
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
The Square

The completely ignored Anchor and Hope is a funny, poignant romance featuring Oona Chaplin and Natalia Tena as a couple living on a narrow boat trundling around London, who ask their friend (David Verdaguer) to offer up some sperm so they can gave a baby together.  But they're drawn apart by the effort and their insecurities.  Despite the city setting, director Carlos Marques-Marcet develops a bucolic atmosphere during the extended shots of the boat passing through office areas and high rise housing estates.  It's notable for featuring Chaplin's own mother Geraldine (daughter of Charlie) as her character's mum.

What'll actually end up becoming part of the canon and on film school syllabuses can't really be predicted, but Roma. The Other Side of the Wind and Annihilation all seem like probables.  Anything by Welles is a sure thing and even if this is just a best guess about his intentions, and so has a similar veracity in analytical terms as some of the apparently posthumous reconstructions in the Shakespeare Folios.  But Annihilation in particular feels like a decedent of Kubrick, Tarkovsky and Resnais in allowing the audience's imagination to infer part of the narrative as well as offering an extraordinary visual feast.

The Square is my favourite film of the year.  Over the past few years my appreciation of contemporary art has waned and Ruben Östlund's satirical fuck you has enunciated exactly why.  You will have noticed that I didn't review the Liverpool Biennial this year due to the Thumper rule and it's largely because so much of what was on display had a mediocrity which was indistinguishable from the material created for The Square in which the audience is either provided with a meaningless explanation for amateurish objects or no explanation at all, which is even worse.  The material surround the titular street furniture of the film is especially cutting.

But it's also the portrayal of the art world in general.  The lack of thought about how installation art will be interacted with by the public or as is hilariously the case, the gallery maintenance staff.  The insular nature of curatorial choice putting audience perception low on the priories list under selecting exhibition subjects because of their prestigious name over the work they've more recently produced.  The shocking realistic performance art section in which the sponsors and grandees of the gallery are confronted with something genuinely interesting but are embarrassed or take dislike to it because its so far outside their expectations.  Oh and pretentiousness.  Oh the pretentiousness.

The performances are extraordinary, especially from Claes Bang, the gallery curator with a far too high opinion of himself and A demonstration of white men failing upwards.  He's the sort of chap I've been either tried to be or fight with all my heart not to be across the years depending on the social circles I was trying to join (eventually giving in to Groucho's maxim).  Some reviews have suggested the wallet related subplot is the weakest element, but it offers a glimpse of how some people, despite what's being professed through the artworks are unable to appreciate the mechanics of the world outside their particular circle.

His Master's Voice Silenced.

Film RIP HMV, again. The entertainment chain has once again called in the receivers after it was saved in 2013 despite my own gloomy assessment.  But this feels even more existential, especially since the causes have become even more acute in the past five years.  As the BBC's RCJ notes, whereas the 2013 troubles were blamed on downloads, we now live in a streaming age.

Anecdotally, the majority of casuals stream their films legally and otherwise, usually through a pay monthly service or through a celestial rental service like Amazon Video.  Most people simply can't justify paying ten to fifteen pounds for a film they're only like to watch once or twice, so even if it isn't on Netflix, they rent a stream for roughly the same cost as something at Blockbuster.

Similarly, as I predicted a decade ago as soon as I saw began using the service, Spotify et al and download has pretty much killed the physical media market.  People in general don't use portable cd players any more.  Even when we are given a cd for Christmas, our first instinct is to rip it to mp3s assuming we even bother and don't just simply go to Spotify anyway.

On top of that, even those of us who do still want shiny discs are probably going straight to Amazon, which is cheaper than HMV especially if you take into account second hand purchases through secondary sellers, more convenient especially if you have prime and although it can't really replacing browsing in stores, HMV isn't really the back catalogue heaven it once was.

As soon as the HMV in Liverpool moved from its flagship space to a smaller shop on the balcony in Liverpool One, this seemed inevitable.  Assuming it isn't saved, there won't now be a specialist chain record shop on the high street that sells film and music.  Andy's Records, Our Price, Tower Records, Virgin Megastores, Zavvi, Head and now HMV and Fopp (probably) all gone.  RIP.

Elizabeth Wurtzel has a new father.

People You've probably read this incredible piece already but I'm linking it here for posterity. Elizabeth Wurtzel writes for New York Magazine on discovering her father is actually Bob Adelman, legendary photographer:
"Life is just a shock to the system.

"It turns out that the man I have spent 50 years believing to be my father is not my father.Donald Wurtzel, 2001.

"My mother lied to me about who my father is. My father is Bob Adelman, the photographer, who most famously caught Martin Luther King Jr.MLK delivers “I Have a Dream,” August 28, 1963. in profile having a dream on the Lincoln Memorial. You know the shot. You know many of Bob’s pictures. When they say something is iconic, they just mean everyone knows it. Bob was early for history.

Where's The Doctor? (Doctor Who Annual 2018).

Books Happy Christmas! No new Doctor Who on television today, but instead I had the pleasure of reading Paul Lang's Thirteenth Doctor comic strip, Where's The Doctor? in this year's annual, an unusual publication in that its style originates with Doctor Who Adventures, which is no longer in publication. So it's a chance to have a window on what an issue of that might look like featuring the new(ish) Doctor and her friends, especially across the strip, which was always the key aspect of the comics magazine and which surprisingly features a cameo from the Eighth Doctor, which is why I'm here.

An assassin has been hired to murder the Doctor and the first part of the strip has her chasing the Time Lord around London during the coronation not entirely sure why she keeps bumping into these blokes who read as the Doctor on her scanner but are clearly not female. In each instance she finds herself saving him from some beast he and his companions are fighting off which in Eighth's case is a giant robot (no not that one) towering over Marble Arch, just as he's about to be incinerated by some kind of flame thrower. John Ross, whose recognizable style was seen in DWA across the years, has gone for Eighth's TV Movie threads which puts this early in his adventures.

The first half of the annual is a potted history of all the incarnations (including Hurt!), perhaps for kids who're only jumping on board with Jodie's casting and Eighth is featured here too with a single page that offers a rough synopsis of Doctor Who or The Enemy Within or whatever we're calling it these days followed by an explanation of his regeneration.  Orthodox, although his designated quote (they all have them), "Four minutes?  That's ages ..." (etc) from The Night of the Doctor, is incongruously attached to a photo from the 1996 wig and waistcoat photo shoot.  There's also a "spot the difference" puzzle utilizing an image taken just before the Doctor chugs down his regeneration elixir, the existential chatter with Ohila over Cass's corpse, which is bit macabre.

The second half of the annual puts Thirteenth at the centre in the comic strip and the accompanying material has profiles of her companions, some more spot the difference type puzzles and odds and sods about some of the episodes from this season.  There's something a bit poignant about this as though Lang appreciates that there was always a place for a Doctor Who publication for younger readers, especially when the show isn't on air.  Arguably it wasn't a perfect fit for the Twelfth Doctor and it suffered due to the funk that era found itself in, but I bet if the presses roared back to work with a DWA dedicated to the Thirteenth Doctor, it would be loved.

Placement: How about between the Radio Times strips and Vampire Science?

Christmas Links #24

25 Pictures From Christmas Past That Show Just How Much The Holiday Has Changed:
"’Tis the season to journey back in time to witness the ghosts of Christmas past!"

National (US) Christmas Tree Dark Due To Government Shutdown:
"This is so not lit -- the National Park Service says the tree site near the White House will stay closed until the shutdown ends."

The gift of gaming: the joys of getting a console for Christmas:
"From secondhand Super Nintendos to surprise Sega Saturns, writers, game developers and Guardian readers share their favourite memories of gaming Christmases past."

UK troops around the world send Christmas wishes home to loved ones:
"Thousands of British Armed Forces personnel working around the world have sent Christmas messages home to their loved ones."

‘They even ask for Merry Christmas Everyone at my shows in Sri Lanka’: 10 Questions for Shakin’ Stevens:
"SHAKIN’ Stevens is touring with his Greatest Hits And More show, playing Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on March 16th, and Glasgow’s City Halls on the 17th."

After Years In Refugee Camps, A Family Celebrates Its First Christmas In The U.S.:
"It's a familiar scene: a family gathering on a Sunday afternoon, the kids off playing somewhere in the house. But in the kitchen, conversations in Swahili fill the room."

Lennie James remembers 'dread' of first Christmas in care:
"Actor Lennie James has written and recorded his memory of the first Christmas he spent in care aged 10."

A Charlie Brown Christmas can quote the Bible but not feel like it's preaching:
"That's the secret to its enduring popularity and beloved status."

Christmas Links #23

Back to the crib: north-west England's nativities – in pictures:
"Stephen McCoy has been photographing the urban environments and landscapes of the north-west of England for 40 years."

Did the First World War Christmas truce football match really happen?
"It has become one of the most iconic moments of the First World War, and was in 2014 chosen by Sainsbury's as the subject of their huge Christmas advertising campaign."

The man who sued over a lack of Christmas cheer:
"Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK go abroad for Christmas, for sunshine or snow - but festive holidays can sometimes go wrong, as one consumer champion discovered almost half a century ago."

The definite ranking of Christmas movies on Netflix:
"The good, the bad, and the so-bad-it's-good: this is our definitive selection of Christmas films on Netflix."

A Choral Christmas from Radio 3:
"Delve into Christmas the Classical way with a sprinkle of glittery choral pieces."

A Taxonomy of Bad Christmas Music:
"From the bossy to the greedy to the horny."

Christmas Dinner on the International Space Station:
"Ever wondered what astronauts might be eating for Christmas dinner? I found out recently when I had the chance to speak with NASA's Vickie Kloeris, who manages the food system for the International Space Station."

Christmas Links #22

We Need to Move Christmas:
"The worst thing about Christmas is that it makes winter longer, and unbearably so."

Can 'Super Saturday' save Christmas?
"Retailers hoping for a last-minute rush of Christmas shoppers on "Super Saturday" may be disappointed as trade looked set to peak before the weekend."

The Secret to Being the Hero of Every Holiday Party:
"It’s a big-ass bottle of wine."

Police department donates $20,000 worth of toys to children's hospital:
"Christmas came early for patients at a Washington state children’s hospital thanks to a small town police department."

Netflix’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is straight trash. But it’s cozy trash:
"No one who made the sequel to A Christmas Prince cared, and that’s the secret to its appeal."

The lies I will and won’t tell my kids this Christmas:
"Christmas in our house is a time of great joy, largely because my husband and I are freelancers, so between us we have approximately three-and-a-half days off over the festive period and, by God, we plan to enjoy them."

Christmas Lights Can Slow Wi-Fi But They Probably Won't:
"Wondering if you must choose between decking your tree out with Christmas lights or having usable Wi-Fi in your home for the holidays?"

Christmas in La-La Land:
"Holiday magic in Los Angeles comes down to the thing that always sets California apart: the quality of light."

Sorry, Santa: A Chinese City Has Just Banned All Things Christmas:
"Santa Claus is no longer welcome in a Chinese city where local authorities this year banned all things Christmas."

20 years of Christmas number ones:
"Every year, for a reason we’re still not quite sure of, a number of artists vie to top the charts over Christmastime."

Christmas Links #21

Christmas traffic: Where to avoid on the roads and rail:
"The Christmas getaway means congested roads and cancelled trains. Drivers have been warned of possible delays of nearly two hours as millions of cars take to the motorways. But where should you avoid and at what times will traffic be busiest?"

Explainer - How drones caused travel chaos at Gatwick airport:
"London Gatwick Airport reopened on Friday after a rogue drone saboteur wrought travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of Christmas travellers."

Adoption ban reminds Germans pets are not just for Christmas:
"Europe’s largest sanctuary will keep 1,400 animals over festive season so that none end up as unwanted gifts."

Christmas puppy surprise: Oklahoma parents secretly adopt dog daughter had been caring for at shelter:
"Christmas came early for one Oklahoma daughter whose father adopted the dog she was caring for at a shelter — and the moment was caught on camera."

Please sign for this delivery:
"DING DONG! Merrily on high, but also as in: the sound of a doorbell! Who's there? It's a delivery person and they are happy to deliver, leave on your doorstep or hand to a neighbour you've never met… A new Popjustice website!"

24 Amazing Pop Christmas Songs That Aren't "All I Want For Christmas Is You":
"Don't worry, Mariah still makes an appearance!"

Radio 3 Carol Competition 2018:
"And the winner is… John Merrick!"

Inside the Christmas movie mega-complex churning out festive films:
"Hollywood blockbusters cost staggering amounts to produce. But Hallmark makes Christmas movies for $2m each and it makes tens of the movies each year. These are the secrets to its success."

Stump-Grown Christmas Trees Are the Gift That Keeps on Giving:
"Using the sustainable and ancient method of coppicing, evergreen Christmas trees can be regrown indefinitely."

Millennials Strike Again: This Time We Are Killing Cash And 'Merry Christmas':
"The Grinch might as well get in line behind millennials."

Kate Middleton and Prince William Will Reportedly Only Spend Christmas with the Royals "Moving Forward":
"It has to do with the Queen and Prince Philip's "advancing ages.""

Gigantic ice-filled crater on Mars portraying idyllic wintry scene:
"An 82 kilometre-wide crater on Mars that may be topped with snow has been photographed by the ESA’s (European Space Agency) Mars Express."

Christmas Links #20

10 Must-Hear Old-School Country Christmas Albums:
"From Brenda Lee to Buck Owens, a round-up of country’s best holiday releases."

Gwyneth Paltrow Hangs Christmas Stockings In Conscious Uncoupled Style:
"The actress showed her holiday spirit in an Instagram photo promoting her business."

Here in My Heart: Al Martino and the song that would become both the UK’s first Christmas number one and its first ever chart-topper:
"AL MARTINO’S 1952 song Here in My Heart was quite the history maker when it was first released in the UK."

This woman sends over 4,000 Christmas cards to LGBTQ+ people around the world:
"I realised how it would feel if my coming out had been met with a different reaction and I had received rejection instead of acceptance."

I Spent a Year Wrestling With the Metaphysics of The Muppet Christmas Carol:
"Can Michael Caine's Scrooge see Gonzo and Rizzo?"

Bell, Book and Candle: The Best, Witchiest and Most Festive Rom-Com Ever:
"The holiday season is a time for traditions, from the people we spend it with, to the food we eat, to the films we watch."

'Pathetic' Kiev Christmas tree divides social media:
"This is the worst Christmas tree of all time."

WATCH: FlightAware is tracking the busy skies as Americans begin their Christmas travel:
"Click to unmute."

Carol singers grant dying man's last Christmas wish:
"Canadian carollers have helped grant a dying man's final Christmas wish by singing to him."

Christmas Links #19

Amazing arts treats to watch and listen to this Christmas:
"Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in guilt-free binge watching and listening. But don’t be ruled by a remote control – playlist your festive treats with our selection box of cultural delights on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds. Entertainment, enchantment, mystery and marvels await."

The Queen of Christmas:
"Elizabeth Chan, a full-time Christmas-song singer and composer, visits Santaland at Macy’s."

Best Christmas film: Elf, The Muppets and L**e A******y miss top spot:
"It was made in 1946 but It's A Wonderful Life has been voted Britain's most popular Christmas film."

Mistletoe: The Evolution of a Christmas Tradition:
"Why does this parasitic plant remind us of romance?"

How “Coventry Carol,” a lullaby about killing babies, became a Christmas song:
"Plot twist: During the Renaissance, it was performed in the summertime and may have been considered funny."

Christmas: 'Too old' girl uses £100 voucher to buy gifts for children's ward:
"A girl who won a £100 shopping voucher but decided she was "too old" for toys has spent it on Christmas gifts for a children's ward."

Eat Christmas Dinner To See What Country You Actually Belong In:
"Eat, drink, and be merry."

A humble weed grew in a cracked city sidewalk. Now it’s the Christmas Weed, a festive holiday destination:
"Alyssa Emrick and her family were on their way home from church on Dec. 9 when they spotted an unusually tall weed growing at a busy intersection on the west side of Toledo."

National Gallery unveils Italian painting as 'Christmas gift to the nation':
"Work by female Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi will go on ‘grand tour’, says gallery."

Multi-Story: Episode 11: Christmas:
"Festive audio treats, featuring Christmas in prison and a life-sized nativity."

Christmas Links #18

Row over Belgrade's Christmas decorations leaves city more furious than festive:
"Serbian capital’s £2.56m taxpayer-funded decoration budget met with outrage and accusations of corruption."

The mystery 'angel of Everton' who is feeding 90 struggling families this Christmas:
"A real-life secret Santa has made an anonymous donation of almost 100 luxury hampers."

Before he died, an elderly man left his 2-year-old neighbor Christmas presents for the next 14 years:
"When Owen Williams opened the door of his home in Barry, Wales, he couldn't believe his eyes."

Michigan business FloraCraft hands out $4 million in Christmas bonuses to workers:
"As General Motors and Ford prepare to cut jobs, a Michigan family-owned business, FloraCraft, is giving tens of thousands of dollars to each of its full-time employees."

How to Make Puppy Chow:
"Nothing says Christmas like gobbling this sweet snack until you can't move."

'My Christmas parcel ended up being recycled'
"Over the Christmas holiday season the number of parcels being delivered goes through the roof, causing headaches for delivery companies and frustration for customers when orders go astray. Can technology cope with the rise and rise of online shopping?"

Christmas Links #17

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas:
"With a bit more than a week left until Christmas, lighted displays, colorful markets, and Santa’s helpers are out in force. From Europe to the Americas and Asia, gathered here as an early gift, is a collection of holiday cheer and light wrapped up in 35 photographs."

Was Jesus really born on Christmas Day? 12 yuletide questions answered:
"The thrice-risen Italian favourite is now a seasonal staple in the UK. But can new fanciful flavours beat the golden, fruit-studded classic?"

How to host a medieval Christmas:
"Christmas is today associated with merriment, gift giving and indulgence. But how was the festive season celebrated in the Middle Ages? What food was eaten? What traditions were upheld? Here, Dr Matthew Champion brings you the facts about medieval Christmases..."

The exciting Christmas events planned for Liverpool in 2018 - dates and times:
"Here are all the dates you need to know for Christmas markets, Liverpool ONE festivities, family events and more."

Father Christmas delivers University gifts to Alder Hey:
"Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the University have been working together to ensure Father Christmas brought some festive cheer to the Children of Alder Hey."

Santa Claus crawls on the floor to help a blind boy with autism feel the Christmas spirit:
"A Texas mom says her 6-year-old son met "the real Santa" last week at a Fort Worth sporting goods store."

Are teachers' Christmas gifts getting out of control?
"There is no shortage of ideas online for what to get schoolteachers at Christmas."

A Class Surprised Their Professor After She Told Them The Holidays Are Difficult For Her:
"Professor Wharton (who didn’t want to use her full name, for privacy reasons), who teaches high school students in dual-enrollment classes in Texas, teared up as she recalled last week’s surprise from the juniors in her Composition 1 class."

Dear Therapist: I’m Not Sure Why My Sister Stopped Giving Gifts to My Children, and I’m Afraid to Ask:
"I don’t really care about the presents themselves—I just want to know what prompted the change."

From toys to socks, celebrities share their best and worst Christmas gifts:
"Still wondering what to get loved ones this Christmas? Perhaps some celebrity pointers might help."

The ideal bauble ratio and the sparkly science of decorating the perfect Christmas tree:
"Yes, there is an ideal bauble ratio."

The Nerdiest Christmas Cards Ever May Be These Microscope Slides Composed of Shells:
"The unusual holiday exchange, which lasted decades during the early 20th-century, hints at the drama between the two colleagues."

Truly Unconventional Christmas Films For The Bleak Midwinter:
"Transpositions is the official blog of the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at the University of St Andrews."

Why Do Artists Still Make Christmas Albums?:
"Vintage holiday favorites still rule on streaming services, but for the right act, a new Christmas album can be a savvy move."

Watch the Monkees’ Trippy New ‘Christmas Song’ Video:
"The clip takes place in the trippy world of the group’s Sixties television show."

Hotel accused of discrimination for canceling homeless Christmas booking with no explanation:
"It was meant to be a warm and safe Christmas for dozens of UK rough sleepers but something has gone wrong at the last minute."

Christmas back on the menu for Hull’s homeless after hotel cancellation row:
"A charity whose booking for 28 homeless people was cancelled by a Hull hotel has said “who says miracles don’t happen” after another city hotel stepped in to help."

Christmas Links #16

Why 2m kilos of Christmas cheese will end up in the bin:
"It was once a simple choice of stilton or cheddar with a few grapes on the side and the pleasure of assembling a course that requires no cooking."

Bad weather hits Christmas shopping on the High Street:
"Bad weather and the lure of online shopping saw consumers shun UK High Streets on one of the busiest days before Christmas."

Damascus prepares for Christmas without mortar fire:
"Christmas decorations are going up for the first time in years in a Damascus neighborhood that was a frontline in Syria’s war until government forces wiped out the last rebel enclaves in the capital earlier this year."

Inside Brazil's abandoned Santa theme park:
"Driving through Brazil to Rio de Janeiro, you might spot an eerie sight on the side of the road: a derelict gang of Santas, lying abandoned surrounded by palm trees and greenery."

Coronation Street – 25th December 1961:
"To begin with, there seems to be a clear division of the sexes. Whilst the men – in the shape of Albert, Frank, Ken, Harry and Len – are heading off to a football match, the women (such as Concepta and Elsie) are fretting about their Christmas lunches."

Christmas Links #15

Top-secret Christmas card sent to Bletchley Park codebreakers rediscovered:
"Festive wish from family of MI6 boss in 1938 ‘sent with wink’ to those in the know."

Marmite sprouts? Why retailers are pushing the boundaries with festive food:
"Many readers will find the thought of Christmas tree-flavoured crisps revolting, but Iceland is betting its customers will feel the opposite this festive season."

‘Banana bacon trifle was a stretch too far’: supermarket chefs on their Christmas creations:
"Will a giant pig-in-blanket or a meringue wreath be the hit this year? Inside the development kitchens at top supermarkets."

In Turkey We Trust:
"A turkey dinner is not just a turkey dinner."

For professional Christmas carolers, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' presents an ethical dilemma:
"When carolers from the Songful Artists perform at holiday parties, new outrage over an old standard means they know they're potentially strolling into a minefield."

Blue lights and awkward gyrating: are office Christmas parties worth the embarrassment?:
"... a case for skipping your work’s festive celebration this year."

All I want for Christmas is a lesbian meet-cute:
"Ever since I came out as gay at age 24, I learned that lesbian love stories are hard to come by."

Christmas at TFE: "While You Were Sleeping"
"One part of the tradition of revisiting Christmas classics this time of year is debating whether or not a film technically qualifies as a “Christmas movie”. These perceptions sometimes sway with the tides. Lately, the bros have won and conventional wisdom will tell you that Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie. Eyes Wide Shut? Welcome, but with reservations."

My Painful Quest to Find the Worst Christmas Movie Ever Made:
"From 'Homeless for the Holidays' to 'Christmas in Hollywood' to 'Ho Ho Nooooooo!!! It's Mr. Bill's Christmas Special!'"

Real vs. fake Christmas trees: Here's why some American's are shifting their buying habits:
"Christmas trees are the heart of many holiday festivities. But they're also at the heart of a debate that rages through the yuletide season: Is it better to have a real or a fake tree?"

A thief stole gifts meant for thousands of kids. Then this couple raised $45,000 to save Christmas:
"For the past two months, the community in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has been stockpiling toys, preparing to give local children in need the gift of Christmas."

Christmas Links #14

The Hallmark Holiday Gazebo Is Dead, Long Live the Hallmark Holiday Gazebo:
"Even if you’ve never dabbled in the art of the squeaky-clean, delightfully soapy Hallmark Christmas movie, you’ve most likely still picked up on their distinguishing characteristics by Yuletide osmosis."

Gizmo Is Basically Jesus Christ, Right?: Revisiting Gremlins in Time for Christmas:
"You know the Gremlins rules right?"

21 Movies That Aren't Technically Christmas Movies But Are Totally Christmas Movies:
"Yes, Die Hard is on this list."

11 Christmas movies for people who hate Christmas movies:
"What makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie? Is it the presence of Christmas trees? Or feel-good themes like "giving" and "believing"?"

This 'Broken Ornament' Led To Christmas Magic:
"Some of the best stories begin at home — and in fact, that's where Tony DiTerlizzi got the idea for his latest book. The Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator, perhaps best known for The Spiderwick Chronicles, is taking a big leap into the unknown with his first Christmas book, The Broken Ornament."

New Yorkers Are Losing Their Minds Over The "HOLLAMD TONNEL" Christmas Decorations:
"The holidays are too stressful already and Port Authority makes us stare at this sheer stupidity every [day]."

Make These Sheet Pan Breakfast Sliders for Christmas Morning:
"You know what I like doing on Christmas? Eating. You know what I don’t like doing on Christmas? Cleaning. You know what lets me do a lot of eating and very little cleaning? The pull-apart bacon, egg, and cheese sliders you see above, which are cooked entirely in one sheet pan."

'Someone called me the antichrist': behind the battles for Christmas No 1:
"Christmas No 1 was once a fiercely fought-over prize. From Rage Against the Machine v Joe McElderry, Slade v Wizzard and George Michael in Wham! v George Michael in Band Aid, winners and losers recall the great festive stand-offs."

BBC Christmas Food:
"BBC History Manager John Escolme takes a look at the more eccentric side of cookery on BBC TV at Christmas, and discovers that programme makers have always had an eye for something different at this time of year."

Why I'm ditching my Christmas cookie swap:
"Baking is how I relax, how I shut out the Twitter trolls and the negative nancies and — most of all — the soul-crushing barrage of the news. When I need to decompress, it's time to turn off the TV, turn up the music, put on my "Let's Get Baked" apron, and start sifting my way to nonpartisan nirvana."

Princess Charlotte Wears Prince George's Sweater in the Royal Christmas Card:
"Prince Louis wore a hand-me-down from their big brother, too."

First Minister reveals her Christmas card for 2018:
"THE First Minister has unveiled her 2018 Christmas card and announced the photograph will be auctioned for charity."

YouTube-obsessed eight-year-olds review this year’s Christmas TV adverts:
“I think his name is Elton John Lewis”

The year's brightest comet streaks by Earth this weekend:

"The night sky will come alive this weekend when a green comet streaks by Earth on the heels of the Geminid meteor shower's display of green fireballs."

The Price of True Love:
"In a setback to true loves around the world, the cost of gifting the traditional gifts from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol has edged up slightly again this year."

Santa baby’s billion-dollar Christmas:
"You’ve seen this one before, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” story that tallies up the cost of all the bizarre gifts offered in the song. It’s a tale as old as time: Some guy gives his significant other a steady stream of trees, birds and leaping lords over nearly two weeks — an expensive proposition and almost certainly an unwelcome one. (That the gifts are so terrible and cumbersome makes us assume the giver is a man.)"

Christmas Links #13

25 Horror Christmas Movies Ranked From Worst To Best According To Rotten Tomatoes:
"For anyone who's more into dreadful frights than silent nights."

Video shows SUV mowing down home's Christmas decorations, blindsiding 12-foot snowman:
"Police are searching for the driver of an SUV seen plowing through Christmas decorations in front of an Indiana home."

Flashback: Band Aid Raises Millions With ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’:
"The single, released in the United Kingdom on December 3rd, 1984, was crafted to “touch people’s heartstrings and to loosen the purse strings”"

Shaun the Sheep Pullover:
"This jumper is worked in pieces with the image on the front worked from the chart using the intarsia method. Treat your little ones to a special treat this Christmas with this cosy jumper, knitted in real British wool."

Meet the godfathers of the Christmas carol:
"Everyone knows Silent Night, but contemporary carols are still being written. We meet two of the UK's most popular composers, John Rutter and Bob Chilcott."

South Western Railway strikes planned for Christmas week:
"Staff at South Western Railway (SWR) are to hold two more strikes in Christmas week on 27 and 31 December."

Foul-mouthed Santa horrifies parents:
"Organizers of a Christmas event have apologized to outraged parents after a fire alarm reportedly prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard and scream at children to "get the f**k out."

Christmas Links #12

The beauty of the Christmas Bird Count:
"The ash tree I'm anchored to is laced with poison ivy vines, one as thick as my arm. The childhood adage, don't be a dope, don't touch the rope, is loud in my mind because although I'm no "dope" I'm definitely touching the rope — the ash is the only thing keeping me from falling into the icy creek below."

'A beacon in the dark of winter': the Christmas songs that shaped us:
"From singing Mariah Carey with drag queens in the desert to being driven mad by the Asda playlist, Guardian writers share their most poignant festive music memories."

Mum spits in face of Christmas elf in Stockton shopping centre:
"The woman lost her temper when told she could not take her child into the grotto in Stockton-on-Tees because she did not have a booking, police said."

Meet the 'Yule Lads,' Troll Brothers Who Terrorize Icelandic Children for Christmas:
"Hey, your husbands went to Iceland!"

35 Awesome Toys Every '80s Girl Wanted For Christmas:
"Let's be honest, you still want that Glitter N' Gold Jem doll."

Christmas Links #11

Rochdale bongs replace Big Ben on BBC Radio 4 at Christmas:
"The traditional Big Ben bongs on BBC Radio 4 will be replaced by bells from Rochdale town hall on Christmas Eve."

How one man's quest to spread Christmas cheer led to a miserable four-year war with his neighborhood:
"When Jeremy Morris smiles — or otherwise bares his teeth — you can see his braces: red on top, green on bottom, his pearly whites dressed in Christmas colours."

Why I'm not doing Elf on the Shelf - and you don't have to either:
"It's the one Christmas tradition I just can’t embrace no matter how hard I try."

Darlene Love: My 5 Favorite Christmas Songs:
"The powerful voice behind “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on the holiday classics she loves to sing most."

All I want for Christmas is a toy catalogue:
"I’m one of those nostalgic Gen-Xers who remembers lying on my stomach, legs crossed at the ankles, poring over the Sears Wish Book every Christmas. I’d circle the Lil’ Lady Buggy, Barbie Dreamhouse, Sweet Tears baby doll, then present my list to the Santa at the local VFW."

‘Hardest time of the year’: the students who will spend Christmas alone:
"When university halls empty as students flock to their families, care leavers face a different festive season."

A world without ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ is a world I don’t want to live in:
"For anyone born after 1994, imagining a world without ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ is a near impossible task – not least because its absence could potentially ruin one of the best festive films made since its release."

Your Worst Ever Christmas Party Stories: 'I Ended Up In A&E Wearing My Boss's Coat':
"Featuring booze, sex, tears and, well, more booze.🍾"

18 Christmas Facts That You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know:
"Santa was once as powerful as Thanos."

How to See This Year's 'Christmas Comet' and Geminid Meteor Shower:
"If you can brave the cold long enough to find a clear patch of night sky, you can watch two bright astronomical phenomena this December: the 46P/Wirtanen “Christmas comet” and the Geminid meteor shower."

Christmas Links #10

Where to try out Christmas traditions from around the world in London:
"Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can get a little repetitive."

Elegant Christmas Shopping in London 1989:
"A 1989 guide to Christmas shopping in London’s finest department stores from Barbara McMahon of ‘Head to Toe’."

There will be a heritage bus service in London on Christmas Day:
"On the day when tubes, trains, buses and even cable cars go to sleep, there will one bus company offering a very special Christmas Day service."

Bloxwich Christmas decorations woman stuck in ceiling:
"A woman was left feeling a bit Claus-trophobic when she fell through the ceiling while getting her Christmas decorations from the loft."

“Sand Nativity” and Christmas tree of St. Peter’s Square unveiled:
"The Nativity scene in sand and the Christmas tree in the middle of St. Peter’s Square in Rome were inaugurated during a ceremony in the evening of November 7."

The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos.

TV During the revival we've become accustomed to big, brash season finales filled with massive cosmological shenanigans, giant emotional storylines, companion departures, deaths and resurrections and a sense of bowing up the season which has come before.  In keeping with the rest of this series which has largely been about presenting redux of the original twenty-six years, it's fitting that The Battle of the Who In The What Now? is more subdued than we're used to, with armies living and dying off screen, a tiny guest cast with epic back stories, a resolution involving someone pressing a few buttons in the TARDIS, a shouty returning antagonist and a long introductory walk through a quarry.

Except of course, the New Year's Day episode is clearly going to be the more traditional finale and will seem as much after all this has been uploaded to Netflix for posterity (and presumably the shiny disc box set).  Battles across time, explosions involving soldiers flying through the air and whoever the Doctor's referring to at the end of the trailer, who we're all assuming will be the Daleks but given the way this series is going, might as well be some new monster we haven't met before.  Big Finish granted, I've always been drawn to the idea of being introduced to some fully formed arch nemesis for the Doctor who she's apparently fought against for centuries in the mode of a Terry Nation creation but we just haven't had an onscreen adventure with yet.

Setting the usual expectations aside, how'd it go?  It was fine.  As Liz Myles said on Twitter earlier, this has been a "very warm, comfortable, cosy series of Doctor Who" and this "finale" is the epitome of that.  Perhaps in the edgier Moffat version, Graham would have shot Tim Shaw stone dead and caused a schism in the TARDIS team, but despite Bradley's understated anger that was never going to happen.  This is an iteration of the show designed for Sunday nights with a more subversive rather than overt edginess, one closer to Tom Baker's description of his run: "The smallest child terrified behind a sofa or under a cushion, and the next one up laughing at him, and the elder one saying 'sh, I want to listen', and the parents saying 'isn't this enjoyable'."

Indeed Tom would certainly recognize a few elements from his era.  The stealing and compacting of celestial bodies ala The Pirate Planet.  A previous decision coming back to haunt the Doctor leading to the fostering of a false religion and untold horrors on complete strangers as per The Face of Evil.  Ancient beings of immense power led astray from The Deadly Assassin (I appreciate that last one is a bit tenuous).  Essentially its the resolution of a season long project to bring the show back into some kind of manageable state of lower expectations.  A more expensive episode might have had cutaways to the planet as the pink ray enveloped it, but we've probably seen enough shots of bewildered people looking towards the sky already.

Instead, we have a Doctor who's compelling because of what she doesn't say.  The BBC uploaded the "dome new man goes sauntering away.." cafe scene from The End of Time to YouTube recently, which is beautifully acted all round but you simply can't imagine Jodie playing through with Graham because she doesn't articulate in that way.  Even on discovering the pain she's potentially caused in not ending Tim Shaw on Earth and sending him half way across the galaxy, it's underplayed and all in her eyes, rather than simply adding to some nihilistic angst as might have been the case with more recent incarnations.  She's on a singular mission to help people, as best she can, her own emotions be damned.

But she's also not one for righteous fury.  Again, her male counterparts might have treated Tim Shaw with greater contempt especially given that he's even more genocidal than Solomon from Chibbers's previous Dinosaurs on a Spaceship whom the Eleventh Doctor was quite happy to make explode (a move I was cross and curious about back in the day).  But she's adamant that Graham doesn't kill his nemesis because of what it would do to him, which is also a contrast to his reaction to how Amy dealt with Madam Kovarian, albeit an alternative version.  She trusts that he'll do the right thing, to such a degree that despite her storming confrontation with Tim, the Doctor's more interested in reversing the results of his experiments and happy to leave the boys to deal with the other problem.

She's also pretty sexless.  Given the flirtatiousness of 10th, 11th and let's be honest 12th, 13th has barely looked sideways at another person, male or female.  Yaz seems to have the most potential, but even then the only whiff we've had of that ship was her mother's confusion as to the nature of their friendship.  Asking to remain with the Doctor during the danger tonight was more to do with the usual "I want to stay with you" than hanky-panky.  Should this change?  If more recent incarnations have been allowed to kiss seemingly anyone with less pulses than them, from royal mistresses to Hollywood actresses, why shouldn't this incarnation?  Dunno.

Either way, we've finally reached the end (or middle) of the casting trailer with Phyllis Logan, Percelle Ascott and Mark Addy, both of whom, like the actor Kevin Eldon last week, feel like they should have been in Who before but a pleasure to finally have them here (although granted Eldon played Antimony in Death Comes To Time but does that count?  Honestly?).  Logan and Addy in particular demonstrated their depth of experience offering acres of lived history within the short screen time - we could absolutely believe the former could have lived thousands of years.  Perhaps they'll bump into Captain Jack or Me as they visit the galaxy and swap immortality tales.

So that's everything over bar another hour on New Year's Day.  It's been a season without any particularly rubbish episodes and only a couple of stone cold classics, probably Rosa and It Take You Away.  The latter is probably my favourite thanks to its gonzo ending which revealed that the receiver of the Doctor's emotional farewell, so intriguing in the trailer, turned out to be a rubber frog.  If I've a request for the future, now that we know that everyone's going to survive Resolution would be more Yaz.  Mandip Gill's felt slightly under utilised and that's something which should be corrected.  Oh and some returning monsters.  I think we've earned a  Cyberman stand off.  Happy Christmas.

Christmas Links #9

Customer 'disgusted' after Yodel delivery man was caught chucking a Christmas parcel down driveway:
"Our neighbour thought 'why doesn’t he just knock on our door?!'"

6 Festive Melted Cheese Recipes For Christmas:
"Molten cheese makes for the ultimate Christmas comfort food, whether for a special Christmas Eve feast or on those lazy days between Boxing day and New Year."

Garden centre donates festive fir to light up Ottery this Christmas:
"Christmas spirit has already sprung in Ottery following the donation of a festive fir by Otter Garden Centre."

Scottish farmer sued for £2 million after he ‘spoiled huge crop of Christmas trees’:
"A Scots farmer is being sued for two million pounds damages over claims that he spoiled a huge crop of Christmas trees."

Woman has more than 400 Christmas trees set up in her house:
"Shelly Botcher has never found a Christmas tree she didn’t like, and she has never thrown one away."

Restaurant Gift Cards Are the Best Christmas Present Ever.
"Here’s Why I Think So."

Share This Beautiful Icelandic Tradition With Your Family This Christmas:
"Icelanders give books to each other on Christmas Eve, go to bed early and spend the night reading."

Man opens Christmas gift from high school sweetheart 48 years after breakup:
"A man in Canada is finally opening a gift he received from an ex-girlfriend 48 years ago."

Christmas Links #8

Fake Elf News: The Goofy Game Everyone Thought Was Spyware:
"How Elf Bowling, the incredibly popular viral game from 1999, gained an unfounded, false reputation as a piece of malware and spyware."

'A Christmas Story': 35 reasons why we still love the holiday classic, 35 years later:
"Get out your ridiculous pink bunny onesies: Nov. 18 marks 35 years since "A Christmas Story" premiered in theaters. To help celebrate, we've done something that should earn a major award: We've rounded up 35 reasons why the holiday film about a boy who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas is still worth watching."

14 Queer Christmas anthems to fill you with festive cheer:
"Christmas time is QUEER! Glitter, tinsels, fairies: could there BE a queerer time of the year?!"

Turkey reprieve: one in 12 dream of meat-free Christmas dinner:
"UK supermarkets expand their vegan and vegetarian ranges as flexitarian trend grows."

Moose Accidentally Rings Doorbell With Butt:
"Like me in an Anthropologie, not realizing the dimensions of my own posterior and therefore backing into a large display full of felt Christmas ornaments, a moose was recently caught on TV accidentally ringing a doorbell with his butt in Anchorage, Alaska."

'Anna And The Apocalypse': The Scottish Zombie Christmas High School Musical:
"Anna and the Apocalypse is a [checks notes] Scottish zombie Christmas high school musical."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Final Kensington Palace Christmas Tree Has Been Unveiled:
"This is the last holiday season the royals will spend in Nottingham Cottage."

Hundreds of Santas descend on London for a good Claus:
"You wait all year for Santa, and then hundreds come all at once."

Christmas Links #7

How To Decorate For Christmas If You Don't Have Space For A Tree:
"Put out your lights and ornaments without having to drag in a Christmas tree."

A ranking of 100 — yes, 100 — Christmas songs:
"I am so tired."

Mariah Carey’s Christmas Album Is the Only Thing That Will Never Suck:
"Some people say life is short, but actually, life is long."

The Netflix Christmas Movie Cinematic Universe Is Here:
"With A Christmas Prince, The Princess Switch, and The Holiday Calendar, Netflix is coming for all your holiday comfort viewing."

How drunk can you get on Christmas food? I breathalysed myself to find out:
"A recent report claims certain seasonal scran can push consumers over the drink-driving limit. But which food? And how drunk are we talking? One writer sacrifices an afternoon to find out."

Watch Lost 1973 Elton John Performance of ‘Step Into Christmas’:
"Elton John was at the absolute pinnacle of his fame when he appeared on the Gilbert O’Sullivan Show in late 1973 to perform his new holiday song “Step Into Christmas.” The clip was placed into the ITV archives after the initial airing and presumed lost forever, but it was recently discovered and is available to watch above."

Why my kids aren't getting toys for Christmas:
"We take Christmas very seriously at our house. So seriously that we put up no decorations until late on Dec. 24 and leave everything in place until after Candlemas on Feb. 2."

Sweary Doctor Who and other classic BBC bloopers to air this Christmas:
"Tom Baker, Judi Dench and Noel Edmonds will all needs their mouths washed out with soap."

Christmas Links #6

Christmas Dinner Rocketed To International Space Station:
"Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the tradition dinner, even in space."

Shock CCTV shows disturbing footage of drunk passengers falling off platforms:
"Network Rail has released the video to warn against excessive drinking this Christmas."

For disabled children in poverty, this Christmas is straight out of Dickens:
"Thanks to government austerity, 40% of disabled children are now so poor that they’re going without presents."

The cost of real Christmas trees is on the rise — thanks to millennials:
"As supply is down and demand is up, Christmas trees are becoming more expensive."

Tyler Perry pays off more than $430,000 in layaways ahead of Christmas:
"Tyler Perry is spreading holiday cheer in his city of Atlanta."

Making your own distinctive gifts for Christmas – archive, 1922:
"Most women when choosing a present would prefer to give something distinctive but are deterred by the knowledge of their own slender purses and the fact that originality invariably commands a steep price."

It being December, hundreds of thousands of words are being written to encourage us to enjoy the festive season by spending money:
"A lot of these words are febrile brandspeak, a lot of the phrasing is teeth-grinding hyperbole and a lot of featured claims are deliberately over-egged. But sometimes the author goes one step too far, assumes too much about their audience and shamelessly lies. [...]Here are 20 excessively presumptuous examples published in the last week, taken from London-based websites which publicise events and experiences. Most of the examples aren't from the website you're thinking of, before you jump to any conclusions."

Teaching my sons this Christmas that home isn’t just a place you visit. It’s a feeling.
"White lights, in yellowing plastic candle stands, will be taped to window sills. Jingle bells hung from the back of the front doorknob, too ugly to display but too festive to leave in a box, will welcome guests. The tree will be fatter than it is tall. Carefully preserved Mr. and Mrs. Claus ornaments will perch on the uppermost branches, their jolly faces adding warmth to the evergreen needles. The living room will feel dark and it will be hot. It’s always hot at my parents' house on Christmas Eve. Everyone crowds in the living room because there really isn’t anywhere else to go. (Except downstairs, but the kids will have taken over, and none of the adults will join them for fear of missing something.)"

Christmas Links #5

6 simple ways to have a more eco-friendly Christmas:
"From DIY tree decorations to opting for reusable gift wrap, small changes should be part of your festive planning this year."

24 facts about Christmas in the Tudor period:
"Count down to Christmas with our Tudor advent calendar! Every day until Christmas Eve, Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke will be revealing one fact about Christmas in the Tudor period."

Save Money on Your Christmas Tree by Asking for a Dud:
"Christmas trees are wonderful and cozy and festive, but they’re also damn expensive, at a time of year when most of us are already struggling not to blow our budgets."

20 Things All Early-’00s Teens Desperately Wanted For Christmas:
"Back when all you wanted Santa to bring you was a boombox that played burned CDs."

Best Christmas ever with over 100 BBC iPlayer box sets:
"BBC iPlayer has presents for everyone this Christmas, with a cracking selection of new shows and more than 100 box sets available at the click of a button."

40 years later: One couple’s Christmas tree grows from 6 foot to 52 feet becoming a tourist attraction:
"One couple’s Christmas tree in Worcestershire is a little bit special."

Van Driver Takes Driving Home For Christmas To A Whole New Level, With Giant Tree On The Roof:
"Don't try this at home."

Stop Ruining Your Christmas Cookies! Follow These Tips to Better Baking:
"Here are a few pointers on making the perfect cookies this holiday season."

How to survive Christmas with your family: LGBT style:
"How do you stay relaxed with your loved ones over Christmas?"

Satanic Sculpture Installed At Illinois Statehouse, Just In Time For The Holidays:
"In the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month, several traditions are being celebrated. There's a Nativity scene for Christmas, a menorah for Hanukkah, and then something a little different: an arm holding an apple, with a snake coiled around it."

Taste test: With more of us than ever reaching into our freezer for Christmas dinner, we try out a selection of supermarket frozen options:
"THERE are so many options for Christmas dinner in supermarkets’ frozen aisles."

12 Christmas Movies That Completely Flopped (And 13 That Were Massive Hits):
"Every December, millions of families around the country like to sit down and watch a Christmas movie. It's a way of spending time together, while also doing something to get into the mood of the season. For many, heading out to the cinema on Christmas itself is an annual tradition. December 25th is actually one of the biggest movie-going days of the year, believe it or not. There are, of course, also dozens of holiday films available on DVD and Blu-ray. Some cable channels even run 24-hour marathons."

Yorkshire school that 'cancelled Christmas' reinstates it after hundreds of letters:
"Lady Lumley’s school told students the festive season had become ‘commercialised’."

Christmas Links #4

Dean Cain’s Christmas movies: an (almost) definitive guide:
"One-time Superman Dean Cain has made lots of Christmas movies, mainly with dogs in them..."

Jess Glynne, Rita Ora, Clean Bandit and George Ezra revealed as part of Top Of The Pops Christmas and New Year specials:
"Top of the Pops - the biggest pop party on TV - announced the line-up for the two Christmas Day and New Year’s specials hitting BBC One screens this festive period, hosted by Fearne Cotton and BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo."

How to choose the best Christmas tree:
"A Brooklyn Christmas tree salesman shares his tips and tricks for selecting the best one on the lot."

Vintage 1930s Woolworths Christmas tree auctioned:
"One of the first mass-produced Christmas trees will be auctioned after staying in one family for 80 years."

'Most festive pub' in UK displays 97 Christmas trees, 21,500 holiday lights on its 3-story facade:
"The Churchill Arms' 3-story display of nearly 100 trees and more than 21,500 Christmas lights in London has earned it the title of "most festive pub" in the United Kingdom."

Rebels with a cause (Percelle Ascott & Mandip Gill):
"We are helping to raise money and awareness for Shelter because the work they do to help those in need is amazing."